maxomai: dog (dog)
Today the International Mathematical Union announced the winners of the Fields Medal, awarded every four years to outstanding mathematicians under the age of 40. Among them is Iranian-born Prof. Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields medal. Her biography is here.

Without in any way detracting from her astounding (and in some cases counter-intuitive) work, part of me wonders whether her selection wasn't also intended to send a message to the government of Iran. Iran recently banned women from STEM fields, including Mathematics. By way of contrast, it was the encouragement of Professor Mirzakhani's elementary school teachers that led her to her thus far brilliant career in Mathematics. The implied message to Iran's government may very well be not to so rashly interfere with the ambitions of half of their students.

There are other lessons to be learned by Professor Mirzakhani's biography, perhaps the most important of them being that slow and steady and deliberate can produce works of beauty and grace that "quick and lots" cannot.
maxomai: (typewriter guy wtf)
Iran Icebreaker Set at UN.

Am I to understand that peace is breaking out between Iran and the United States in the wake of the Syria crisis?

Meanwhile the White House says that the Syrian government's disclosure of their WMDs is "surprisingly complete."

What the fuck?!?
maxomai: dog (dog)
Why look! It's the 10th anniversary of Mission Accomplished!

Aren't you glad that war ended so quickly, and that the subsequent occupation was so painless? That the Iraq we left behind is now a stable democracy free from violence and corruption? That the total effort won't cost anywhere near the one trilion dollars that naysayers like me thought it would?

(And aren't you glad that we aren't thinking about a similar venture in, say, Iran or Syria?)
maxomai: dog (Default)
Someone really doesn't like Iranian industry.

"Iran disconnected computer systems at a number of its oil facilities in response to a cyber attack that hit multiple industry targets during the weekend. A source at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) reportedly told Reuters that a virus was detected inside the control systems of Kharg Island oil terminal, which handles the majority of Iran's crude oil exports. In addition, computer systems at Iran's Oil Ministry and its national oil company were hit."


This isn't the first time that a virus has been used to sabotage Iranian facilities: Stuxnet is infamous for infecting and severely compromising uranium enrichment in 2010. This is the first time that the target has been unquestionably economic. Shutting down Iranian oil production would bring the Iranian economy to a halt, and probably lead to the ouster of the Iranian government. It might also spark a worldwide economic crisis as oil prices spike, not to mention change the directions of American, European, and MENA politics during some rather delicate times. (Remember: the conventional wisdom is that Obama's chances of re-election are tied to the health of the American economy.)

I have my suspicions as to who was behind this attack. FYI, for the reasons stated above, I'm thinking it's not the US government. Despite some recent rather spectacular failures, they rather like the Pax Americana. Nope, I'm thinking the actor behind this attack is someone who sees Iran as an existential threat, such that chaos in the world economy is a small price to pay. Draw your conclusions from there.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Someone really doesn't like Iranian industry.

"Iran disconnected computer systems at a number of its oil facilities in response to a cyber attack that hit multiple industry targets during the weekend. A source at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) reportedly told Reuters that a virus was detected inside the control systems of Kharg Island oil terminal, which handles the majority of Iran's crude oil exports. In addition, computer systems at Iran's Oil Ministry and its national oil company were hit."


This isn't the first time that a virus has been used to sabotage Iranian facilities: Stuxnet is infamous for infecting and severely compromising uranium enrichment in 2010. This is the first time that the target has been unquestionably economic. Shutting down Iranian oil production would bring the Iranian economy to a halt, and probably lead to the ouster of the Iranian government. It might also spark a worldwide economic crisis as oil prices spike, not to mention change the directions of American, European, and MENA politics during some rather delicate times. (Remember: the conventional wisdom is that Obama's chances of re-election are tied to the health of the American economy.)

I have my suspicions as to who was behind this attack. FYI, for the reasons stated above, I'm thinking it's not the US government. Despite some recent rather spectacular failures, they rather like the Pax Americana. Nope, I'm thinking the actor behind this attack is someone who sees Iran as an existential threat, such that chaos in the world economy is a small price to pay. Draw your conclusions from there.
maxomai: dog (Default)
This is a step in the right direction:

US President Barack Obama has signaled Tehran that the Washington would accept an civilian nuclear program in Iran if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent claim that his nation “will never pursue nuclear weapons,” the Washington Post reported Friday.


This opens the door for Iran to continue to pursue nuclear power with the understanding that there will be hell to pay if Iran pursues nuclear weapons. It goes a long way towards easing the tensions that have so far indicated that war with Iran was ahead.

It also means, frankly, that the GOP now have plenty of ammunition to go after Obama as being "weak on Iran." Like it or not, a lot of Americans would be happy to see Iran bombed into the stone age. So this has now become a major election issue.
maxomai: dog (Default)
This is a step in the right direction:

US President Barack Obama has signaled Tehran that the Washington would accept an civilian nuclear program in Iran if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent claim that his nation “will never pursue nuclear weapons,” the Washington Post reported Friday.


This opens the door for Iran to continue to pursue nuclear power with the understanding that there will be hell to pay if Iran pursues nuclear weapons. It goes a long way towards easing the tensions that have so far indicated that war with Iran was ahead.

It also means, frankly, that the GOP now have plenty of ammunition to go after Obama as being "weak on Iran." Like it or not, a lot of Americans would be happy to see Iran bombed into the stone age. So this has now become a major election issue.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Note this well, dear reader:

IAEA has found that Iran has been enriching Uranium to about 20% U235 - energy grade, for use in reactors only. This is according to an IAEA report from Feb 2010.

This is a far cry from the 80+% that's needed for contemporary nuclear weapons. That last 60% represents a LOT of work - way more than Iran is probably capable of right now considering economic sanctions, inspections, and a very impressive campaign of sabotage. Thus it should come as no surprise that IAEA has found, thus far, no evidence that Iran has been able to enrich uranium much past the 20% U235 point.

Keep this in mind, because facts like this one will become very important in the next few months.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Note this well, dear reader:

IAEA has found that Iran has been enriching Uranium to about 20% U235 - energy grade, for use in reactors only. This is according to an IAEA report from Feb 2010.

This is a far cry from the 80+% that's needed for contemporary nuclear weapons. That last 60% represents a LOT of work - way more than Iran is probably capable of right now considering economic sanctions, inspections, and a very impressive campaign of sabotage. Thus it should come as no surprise that IAEA has found, thus far, no evidence that Iran has been able to enrich uranium much past the 20% U235 point.

Keep this in mind, because facts like this one will become very important in the next few months.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Dear President Obama,

See this shit?

Iran's navy chief warned earlier Wednesday that the Islamic Republic was ready and willing to close the strategic waterway if the West imposes news sanctions targeting Tehran's oil exports over the country's suspect nuclear program.

"Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated," said Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich.


Stop it.

We do not need a repeat of this shit.

Thanks,

maxomai
maxomai: dog (Default)
Dear President Obama,

See this shit?

Iran's navy chief warned earlier Wednesday that the Islamic Republic was ready and willing to close the strategic waterway if the West imposes news sanctions targeting Tehran's oil exports over the country's suspect nuclear program.

"Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated," said Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich.


Stop it.

We do not need a repeat of this shit.

Thanks,

maxomai
maxomai: dog (Default)
Uhoh.

“@natlsecuritycnn: BREAKING: Terror plot to assasinate Saudi amb. to U.S. foiled by FBI/DEA. Sr. US official tells @eliselabottcnn Iran govt was involved.”


Live video of the DOJ's presser here.

I have a feeling that some shit is going to go down.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Uhoh.

“@natlsecuritycnn: BREAKING: Terror plot to assasinate Saudi amb. to U.S. foiled by FBI/DEA. Sr. US official tells @eliselabottcnn Iran govt was involved.”


Live video of the DOJ's presser here.

I have a feeling that some shit is going to go down.
maxomai: dog (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] keith418 posted an interesting link (here) about the neoconservative hypocrisy about democracy in the Middle East. Simply put, the neocons - Bolton, Condi Rice, and the rest of them - were very gung-ho to invade Iraq, depose an anti-American dictator, install a puppet government, and call it democracy. They are less gung-ho to support a peaceful revolt against a staunch American ally in the name of democracy. This, at least, is understandable on their parts - they don't know what would come after Mubarak, and they had fears (IMO somewhat unrealistically elevated) that the Muslim Brotherhood would take power; and no matter what, even a legitimately democratically elected government with guaranteed constitutional protections of liberties would take a hard line against Israel, because that's what the people want.

This goes along with a core principle, not often stated, of the neoconservative ideology: what they really desire is not democracy, but governments who will go along with America. In this mindset, democracy is good as long as they like the results. In Iraq, the results are good because we pick the results. In Palestine, the results (Hamas in control of the Gaza strip) don't favor our policies and are thus bad. In Egypt, it is not clear that the results would be worse in the long run for America, but they would be worse for Israel, and that makes the neocons itchy.

But we now have a much different phenomenon going on: a revolution in Libya against Muhamar Kaddafi, similar in character to the one that overthrew Mubarak, but much more bloody because Kaddafi is that much more ruthless. Here is a movement to overthrow a staunchly anti-American dictator, one who sponsored terrorism against the UK and US, one whose exit and replacement with a democratic government would most likely benefit the West.

And the neoconservatives are absolutely silent about it. No support, no condemnations. Silence.

Why?

I have a hypothesis that I submit for your consideration. That hypothesis is this: the neoconservatives want Kaddafi to stay in power. They hate him, but they have him contained. He's the devil they know. Once he and his sons are gone, we have to roll the dice on free and fair elections and see what we get, and that makes them antsy.

But, they can't admit this. Kaddafi is the enemy. He has been the enemy for as long as I can remember. To admit that they would prefer the enemy they know in Kaddafi to the uncertainty of Libyan democracy would expose them, completely and irretrievably, for what they are: not small-d democratic idealists, but imperialists, through and through. And the one thing they cannot afford is for this to happen. They would lose any legitimacy they have left, even in DC.

Here's the test of my hypothesis. If there is one nation that the neocons would love to bomb right now, it's Iran. John Bolton, molestache and all, has been screaming for this for years. Right now the Tunisian-Egyptian revolution is just getting started in earnest in Iran as the elections approach. I think there's a good chance that it will catch fire and that we will see the same chaos in Iran within six months that we saw last week in Egypt and are seeing now in Libya.

If my hypothesis is right, the neocons will keep their mouths shut then, too.
maxomai: dog (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] keith418 posted an interesting link (here) about the neoconservative hypocrisy about democracy in the Middle East. Simply put, the neocons - Bolton, Condi Rice, and the rest of them - were very gung-ho to invade Iraq, depose an anti-American dictator, install a puppet government, and call it democracy. They are less gung-ho to support a peaceful revolt against a staunch American ally in the name of democracy. This, at least, is understandable on their parts - they don't know what would come after Mubarak, and they had fears (IMO somewhat unrealistically elevated) that the Muslim Brotherhood would take power; and no matter what, even a legitimately democratically elected government with guaranteed constitutional protections of liberties would take a hard line against Israel, because that's what the people want.

This goes along with a core principle, not often stated, of the neoconservative ideology: what they really desire is not democracy, but governments who will go along with America. In this mindset, democracy is good as long as they like the results. In Iraq, the results are good because we pick the results. In Palestine, the results (Hamas in control of the Gaza strip) don't favor our policies and are thus bad. In Egypt, it is not clear that the results would be worse in the long run for America, but they would be worse for Israel, and that makes the neocons itchy.

But we now have a much different phenomenon going on: a revolution in Libya against Muhamar Kaddafi, similar in character to the one that overthrew Mubarak, but much more bloody because Kaddafi is that much more ruthless. Here is a movement to overthrow a staunchly anti-American dictator, one who sponsored terrorism against the UK and US, one whose exit and replacement with a democratic government would most likely benefit the West.

And the neoconservatives are absolutely silent about it. No support, no condemnations. Silence.

Why?

I have a hypothesis that I submit for your consideration. That hypothesis is this: the neoconservatives want Kaddafi to stay in power. They hate him, but they have him contained. He's the devil they know. Once he and his sons are gone, we have to roll the dice on free and fair elections and see what we get, and that makes them antsy.

But, they can't admit this. Kaddafi is the enemy. He has been the enemy for as long as I can remember. To admit that they would prefer the enemy they know in Kaddafi to the uncertainty of Libyan democracy would expose them, completely and irretrievably, for what they are: not small-d democratic idealists, but imperialists, through and through. And the one thing they cannot afford is for this to happen. They would lose any legitimacy they have left, even in DC.

Here's the test of my hypothesis. If there is one nation that the neocons would love to bomb right now, it's Iran. John Bolton, molestache and all, has been screaming for this for years. Right now the Tunisian-Egyptian revolution is just getting started in earnest in Iran as the elections approach. I think there's a good chance that it will catch fire and that we will see the same chaos in Iran within six months that we saw last week in Egypt and are seeing now in Libya.

If my hypothesis is right, the neocons will keep their mouths shut then, too.
maxomai: dog (Default)
So far this week, we have not one, not two, but seven different revolts taking place that are drawing inspiration from the events of last week in Egypt.

  • In Bahrain, thousands of pro-democracy protesters were cleared out of a public square through brutal police action while many of them slept. Police are also attacking ambulances helping the injured. The protesters have since re-gathered; the Army is reportedly rolling in now. The King regrets the violence but whatever legitimacy he had is pretty much gone.

  • In Iran, the government is basically things up as they go along. They even went so far as to stage a funeral for an anti-regime protester killed by the government, and claim that he was actually a government agent attacked by anti-regime protesters.

  • In Libya, Gaddafi's government is responding to protests with bullets first. Not tear gas, not water cannons, not rubber bullets; live ammo first. This apparently has not deterred the protesters.

  • In Jordan protests have been relatively quiet. The demonstrators are asking the King to give up some of his powers. The King has not acquiesced but has not tried to trample them down, either.

  • In Yemen, reports aired earlier on Al Jazeera that the people were too conservative to revolt appear to have been exaggerated. Not much details right now except that the regime is responding by killing its people.

  • In Iraq, the actions of yesterday have unleashed 31 more protests across that nation. More here.

  • And last but not least, state workers in Wisconsin are drawing their own parallels between their own fight against Gov. Walker's union busting and the the Egypt revolution. See here, here and here.


2011 is promising to be a very interesting year. And just as in the 1960s when the only way to get the truth was through underground newspapers, in this decade the best first hand information is from Twitter.

Stay tuned!
maxomai: dog (Default)
So far this week, we have not one, not two, but seven different revolts taking place that are drawing inspiration from the events of last week in Egypt.

  • In Bahrain, thousands of pro-democracy protesters were cleared out of a public square through brutal police action while many of them slept. Police are also attacking ambulances helping the injured. The protesters have since re-gathered; the Army is reportedly rolling in now. The King regrets the violence but whatever legitimacy he had is pretty much gone.

  • In Iran, the government is basically things up as they go along. They even went so far as to stage a funeral for an anti-regime protester killed by the government, and claim that he was actually a government agent attacked by anti-regime protesters.

  • In Libya, Gaddafi's government is responding to protests with bullets first. Not tear gas, not water cannons, not rubber bullets; live ammo first. This apparently has not deterred the protesters.

  • In Jordan protests have been relatively quiet. The demonstrators are asking the King to give up some of his powers. The King has not acquiesced but has not tried to trample them down, either.

  • In Yemen, reports aired earlier on Al Jazeera that the people were too conservative to revolt appear to have been exaggerated. Not much details right now except that the regime is responding by killing its people.

  • In Iraq, the actions of yesterday have unleashed 31 more protests across that nation. More here.

  • And last but not least, state workers in Wisconsin are drawing their own parallels between their own fight against Gov. Walker's union busting and the the Egypt revolution. See here, here and here.


2011 is promising to be a very interesting year. And just as in the 1960s when the only way to get the truth was through underground newspapers, in this decade the best first hand information is from Twitter.

Stay tuned!
maxomai: dog (Default)

Okay, color me impressed. Quoting Wired:


New and important evidence found in the sophisticated “Stuxnet” malware targeting industrial control systems provides strong hints that the code was designed to sabotage nuclear plants, and that it employs a subtle sabotage strategy that involves briefly speeding up and slowing down physical machinery at a plant over a span of weeks.


“It indicates that [Stuxnet's creators] wanted to get on the system and not be discovered and stay there for a long time and change the process subtly, but not break it,” says Liam O Murchu, researcher with Symantec Security Response, which published the new information in an updated paper (.pdf) on Friday. …


The malware, however, doesn’t just sabotage any frequency converter. It inventories a plant’s network and only springs to life if the plant has at least 33 frequency converter drives made by Fararo Paya in Teheran, Iran, or by the Finland-based Vacon.


Even more specifically, Stuxnet targets only frequency drives from these two companies that are running at high speeds – between 807Hz and 1210Hz. Such high speeds are used only for select applications. Symantec is careful not to say definitively that Stuxnet was targeting a nuclear facility, but notes that “frequency converter drives that output over 600Hz are regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they can be used for uranium enrichment.”


In other words, the virus was basically designed to disrupt Iran’s uranium conversion process — but only if that process was on a large enough scale, larger than one would need for small-scale research purposes. Clever. Very clever indeed. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your POV), as viruses do, it spread out of control and showed up in other systems, where it was found. Nonetheless, there’s every suggestion that it should have slowed down Iran’s enriched uranium production by 20% for at least a year. As industrial sabotage goes, that’s pretty good.


It makes one wonder what other subtle viruses they’ll design…..


EDIT Just to add: one implication of this attack is that industrial machinery and infrastructure should now be designed with computer security in mind. That should has been there for some time now, but the shall has often been lacking. Hopefully this little incident will put a lot more effort behind the shall.








Originally published at maxomai.org

maxomai: dog (Default)

Okay, color me impressed. Quoting Wired:


New and important evidence found in the sophisticated “Stuxnet” malware targeting industrial control systems provides strong hints that the code was designed to sabotage nuclear plants, and that it employs a subtle sabotage strategy that involves briefly speeding up and slowing down physical machinery at a plant over a span of weeks.


“It indicates that [Stuxnet's creators] wanted to get on the system and not be discovered and stay there for a long time and change the process subtly, but not break it,” says Liam O Murchu, researcher with Symantec Security Response, which published the new information in an updated paper (.pdf) on Friday. …


The malware, however, doesn’t just sabotage any frequency converter. It inventories a plant’s network and only springs to life if the plant has at least 33 frequency converter drives made by Fararo Paya in Teheran, Iran, or by the Finland-based Vacon.


Even more specifically, Stuxnet targets only frequency drives from these two companies that are running at high speeds – between 807Hz and 1210Hz. Such high speeds are used only for select applications. Symantec is careful not to say definitively that Stuxnet was targeting a nuclear facility, but notes that “frequency converter drives that output over 600Hz are regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they can be used for uranium enrichment.”


In other words, the virus was basically designed to disrupt Iran’s uranium conversion process — but only if that process was on a large enough scale, larger than one would need for small-scale research purposes. Clever. Very clever indeed. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your POV), as viruses do, it spread out of control and showed up in other systems, where it was found. Nonetheless, there’s every suggestion that it should have slowed down Iran’s enriched uranium production by 20% for at least a year. As industrial sabotage goes, that’s pretty good.


It makes one wonder what other subtle viruses they’ll design…..


EDIT Just to add: one implication of this attack is that industrial machinery and infrastructure should now be designed with computer security in mind. That should has been there for some time now, but the shall has often been lacking. Hopefully this little incident will put a lot more effort behind the shall.








Originally published at maxomai.org

maxomai: dog (Default)
Hello, what have we here?

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has obtained evidence suggesting that documents which have been described as technical studies for a secret Iranian nuclear weapons-related research program may have been fabricated.

The documents in question were acquired by U.S. intelligence in 2004 from a still unknown source -- most of them in the form of electronic files allegedly stolen from a laptop computer belonging to an Iranian researcher. The US has based much of its push for sanctions against Iran on these documents.

The new evidence of possible fraud has increased pressure within the IAEA secretariat to distance the agency from the laptop documents, according to a Vienna-based diplomatic source close to the IAEA, who spoke to RAW STORY on condition of anonymity.


Good thing we found this out BEFORE we did something stupid, such as dropping atomic weapons on Iran.

This is a test for Barack Obama. Will he now change some of his rhetoric on Iran to reflect this new information? Or will he continue rattling sabres in the manner of George W. Bush?

Come on, Barack. Do the right thing.

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