Another Stuxnet-like virus on the loose

Remember Stuxnet, the exotic and sophisticated computer virus apparently designed to ruin Iran’s secret nuclear fuel centrifuges? Looks like somebody borrowed some of the Stuxnet code, created a new superbug, and set it loose.

The mysterious Stuxnet worm — perhaps the most powerful ever created — managed to infiltrate computer systems in Iran and do damage to that nation’s nuclear research program. The new worm, dubbed Duqu, has no such targeted purpose. But it shares so much code with the original Stuxnet that researchers at Symantec Corp. say it must either have been created by the same group that authored Stuxnet, or by a group that somehow managed to obtain Stuxnet’s source code. Either way, Duqu’s authors are brilliant, and mean business, said Symantec’s Vikrum Thakur.
“There is a common trait among the (computers) being attacked,” he said. “They involve industrial command and control systems.”
Symantec speculates that Duqu is merely gathering intelligence as a precursor to a future industrial-strength attack on infrastructure computers.

Cyberwar guide for Iran elections

A helpful resource for those of us trying to help from the outside:

The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through Twitter.
1. Do NOT publicise proxy IP’s over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.
2. Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.
3. Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don’t retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.
4. Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.
5. Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don’t signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind…

#IranElection on Twitter

Rapidly developing news from Tehran: violence, protests, government crackdowns. Search for the hashtags #IranElection and #CNNfail to get a sense of the buzz. For on-scene updates, try:

Fascinating stuff.
Update: For those who don’t understand technobabble, here are some plain English explanations: Twitter; hashtag; fail; #CNNfail hashtag (here too)
Update 2: Michael Totten’s got quite a roundup of news from Iran.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the Israeli Defense Forces are on hair-trigger alert, watching for any last-gasp missile launch from the Iranian mullahs.
Update 3: I’m using Twitterfall to track the #IranElection news. It’s clickable over on the left side of their page.

Is Sherrod Brown anxious to appease Iran?

You be the judge. Sherrod Brown voted no on the Lieberman-Kyl amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. Here’s the text, minus the findings:

(a) Findings.–The Senate makes the following findings:

(b) Sense of Senate.–It is the sense of the Senate–
(1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;
(2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi’a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;
(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;
(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;
(5) that the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under Executive Order 13224; and
(6) that the Department of the Treasury should act with all possible expediency to complete the listing of those entities targeted under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 adopted unanimously on December 23, 2006 and March 24, 2007, respectively.

I wonder which part(s) Brown objected to? The amendment passed by a vote of 76-22, with Barack Obama and John McCain not voting.
Hat tip: Jill Miller Zimon at Wide Open

Talk about a faith-based community

The “reality-based” Left’s clearly suffering from a chronic case of Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Facts, logic and reason be damned. A story from an “anonymous source” on a carrier asserts that we’re about to attack Iran, ergo it’s too juicy to doubt. What are ya gonna believe, a ripping good yarn about eeeevil neocon conspiracies or your own lying eyes? This is Chimpy Hallibushitler we’re talking about here!! He wants to DESTROY THE WORLD and lock up all progressives in GULAGS run by MERCENARIES!!!11!!
Fake but accurate, n’est ce pas?

The next Scott Beauchamp? (Updated)

UPDATE: What a shock. The lefty blogger at DKos just deleted his post. Coward.

My favorite blogging aviator Neptunus Lex cries foul over a conspiratorial post at Daily Kos alleging that America is about to attack Iran. The DKos diarist claims his information comes from an anonymous Navy officer aboard a carrier.
By the time Lex finishes debunking the anonymous source, the story has more holes than a sieve.
If you’re wondering what the signal flags in Lex’s post mean, here’s a little help:

Iran divestment bill introduced in Ohio House

Yesterday, State Representatives Josh Mandel and Shannon Jones finally introduced a bill that would require Ohio’s state pension fund managers to cut all financial ties with any company that does business with (or in) Iran. It’s a good start. Here are the high points:

  1. Ohio state pension fund managers are forbidden to invest in any “forbidden entity”:
    • any publicly-traded company with active business ties or operations in or with Iran;
    • any publicly-traded company that has active business ties or operations with any company domiciled in Iran;
    • any non-publicly-traded foreign company that doesn’t annually provide an accurate affidavit that it doesn’t own or control any property or assets located in Iran, nor does it have business ties or operations in or with Iran.
    • any mutual fund, separate account, index, index managed product, or compilation of stocks identified that can’t prove it excludes all forbidden entities.
  2. All funds currently invested in forbidden entities must be at least 60% divested within six months, and 100% divested within a year;
  3. If this divestment causes a state pension fund to suffer a loss, the fund manager gets immunity from pensioners’ lawsuits alleging a breach of fiduciary duty;
  4. When private asset managers are under contract to invest Ohio state pension funds, those managers must certify that they won’t invest in a forbidden entity, and will divest any funds already so invested. Otherwise they suffer penalties:
    • they get their contract yanked;
    • for one year, they’re forbidden from doing any business with the treasurer of state, the state board of deposit, the workers’ compensation oversight commission, the administrator of workers’ compensation, and the board of each of the state retirement systems (ouch!)
  5. The Ohio Attorney General must enforce the bill, and can bring an action in court to do so (count on Lincoln Logs to keep an eye on Marc Dann for us)

Did you spot what’s missing from the “forbidden entity” definition?

  Foreign Domestic
Publicly-traded companies checkmark checkmark
Non-publicly-traded companies checkmark  
Funds, indexes, etc. checkmark checkmark

I don’t understand why Ohio state pension fund managers are allowed to invest in domestic private companies with ties to Iran. Did Representatives Mandel and Jones forget to include them in the “forbidden entities” list? I hope this gets cleared up before the bill comes to a vote.
If you’re wondering how many “forbidden entities” get Ohio state pension money, you’re not alone, according to The Plain Dealer:

CSP reportCiting a 2004 study from the Center for Security Policy, Mandel said the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System had each invested in more than 100 companies with ties to Iran. The Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund had invested in 63 companies with ties to Iran while the School Employees Retirement System had invested in 48, according to the report.

The 2004 study found that about one in five dollars in both the public-employees and teacher pension funds in Ohio were invested in companies with ties to a handful of terrorist-sponsoring states including Iran. Many of the investments are in energy-related companies involved in oil drilling.
Neither Mandel nor Jones could say exactly how many foreign companies do business with Iran, pegging the number at 200 to 300.

It shouldn’t matter if there are two or 2,000 companies affected. No state pension funds should pass through the grubby little fingers of Iranian President Ahminamoodforjihad and his mullah buddies.
Another quote from the PD article:

Jones noted that it took only weeks for fund managers to come up with mutual funds free of Sudanese investments after Illinois passed similar legislation.
“We are going to set the policy, and we are going to let Wall Street provide the product,” Jones said.

Remember that this bill would only affect funds in Ohio’s state pension system, and wouldn’t restrict any private-sector investments. You’d be free to send your own money to Iranian companies. That’s assuming that you’d want to. Which you don’t. I hope.
Ahmadinejad cartoonMy only objection to the bill concerns the exemption for investments in “social development companies”, defined as: (1) any company or entity that is not an agency of the government of Iran that holds a valid, current accreditation as a nongovernmental organization from the united nations department of public information; (2) a company that has been identified by an independent research provider as a company whose primary purpose in Iran is to provide to the people of Iran goods and services intended to relieve human suffering; to promote health, religious, or spiritual activities; and to provide education for humanitarian purposes; (3) a company that has been identified by an independent research provider as a company whose primary purpose in Iran is to perform journalistic activities.
This wording might offer enough wiggle room to allow a state pension fund manager to invest in a shady Islamic organization with ties to terrorists. As for nongovernmental organizations, The UN Department of Public Information probably maintains an online list of accredited NGOs, but their server’s unreachable at the moment. Once they’re back online I’ll dig around to see if any accredited NGO is deserves scrutiny.
Nevertheless the concept is sound. Bravo, Josh and Shannon. Extra kudos to Democrat co-sponsors Matthew Barrett, Armond Budish, Timothy DeGeeter, Dan Dodd, Jay Goyal, and Dale Mallory. It takes guts these days for a Democrat to take anything resembling a tough stand in the face of our common enemies.

Update: Jill Miller Zimon at Writes Like She Talks notes that the federal version of this bill was introduced on March 6th.

Paris Hilton does Iraq

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, I found a brutal takedown of the Iraq Study Group’s report. John Podhoretz has penned a razor-sharp rebuttal to James Baker and friends.

The nation’s capital hasn’t seen such concentrated wisdom in one place since Paris Hilton dined alone at the Hooters on Connecticut Avenue.

Also in the Support Group: Iran and Syria. Yes, having done their best to destroy the new Iraq, these two tyrannical nations are poised to perform a very, very constructive role in helping to get the new Iraq up on its own two footsies!
James BakerAnd why? Because, see, it’s in their interest to do so: “Although Iran sees it in its interest to have the United States bogged down in Iraq, Iran’s interests would not be served by a failure of U.S. policy in Iraq that led to chaos and the territorial disintegration of the Iraqi state.”
This is why we have commissions, you see. Regular dumb folk might look at the evidence of the past 25 years and think that the last thing Iran wants is a nice, strong and stable Iraq on its border. They might think that a strong and stable authoritarian Iraq might just attack Iran again and cause another 10-year war with deaths of millions. But here’s the ISG to set us dumb people straight.

The ISG is right. Syria can make a major contribution to Iraq’s stability. But oddly enough, it chooses not to! Because until yesterday, it didn’t have Paris Hilton – sorry, James Baker – explaining how wonderfully helpful it would be.

Now, we dumb people might think that recent history demonstrates Israel will never consent to such a thing, and that Syria knows it full well, and that Syria doesn’t actually want the Golan Heights back, and that like Iran, Syria would have more reason to fear a stable and successful Iraq than anything else in the world.
But that’s what being stupid gets you. It means you don’t understand the incredible value of the James Baker Handy-Dandy Solution to All the World’s Ills. It’s called “Get Israel.” Once Israel is gotten, and gotten good, all the problems in the Middle East will be solved. And the seas will turn to lemonade, and the planets will come in alignment, and Mel Gibson will lie down with Jackie Mason.

That’s hot.

The return of yellow armbands

Canada’s National Post reports on a new law mandating identification badges for religious minorities … in Iran:

According to the Post, Iran’s 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on their clothes. Christians would have to adorn red badges and Zoroastrians would be have to wear blue strips of cloth. To go into effect, the law would have to be approved by Iran’s supreme leader and highest authority, Ali Khamenei.

If this is true, it obviously hearkens back to this.

Update: The rush is on to verify the report.
Update 2: Is this what it’s going to take for people to see the threat Iran poses?