WASHINGTON — Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

“The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” said a senior intelligence official. “So have the Russians.”

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn’t target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. “There are intrusions, and they are growing,” the former official said, referring to electrical systems. “There were a lot last year.”

Via Wall Street Journal.  Seems like an awful lot of time and money invested in disrupting our electrical supply when we are more than capable of doing that ourselves.  On a regular basis.


Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been killed in a presumed suicide attack, a military spokesman has announced on TV. Earlier reports said Ms Bhutto had only been injured and taken to hospital.

Ms Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally in the town of Rawalpindi when the bomb went off.

At least 15 other people are reported killed in the attack and several more were injured. Ms Bhutto had twice been the country’s prime minister.

She was campaigning ahead of elections due in January.

Full article here.

WASHINGTON: Republican presidential candidate John McCain warned on Monday that Al-Qaeda could trigger a major US economic crisis with just one successful attack on a Middle Eastern oil installation. The Arizona senator argued that terror groups understood America’s reliance on foreign oil — and did not believe it had the will to find alternative energy sources.

“Al-Qaeda plans for attacks on oil facilities in the Middle East to destroy the American economy,” McCain said, in prepared remarks released by his campaign ahead of a speech in South Carolina.

“We’re one successful attack away from an economic crisis,” McCain said, adding that US enemies knew the damage a disruption of supplies would wreak on the US economy.

Full article here. One of my campaign principles, incidentally, is that energy independence “must be the core initiative underlying our future foreign policy.”  I’m just sayin’ …

12 people were killed on Thursday during clashes between security personnel representing an un-named Ukrainian oil firm and Yemeni tribesmen, reported Reuters. The incident occurred in the eastern province of Shabwa and it is believed six tribesmen from the Bel-Harath tribe and six security officers were killed. An oil pipeline was blown up by tribesmen last Monday. Sources claim the tribe has been seeking jobs and contracts for its members.

Via AMEInfo.

… William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part II … or was it Pervez Musharraf?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 6 — In a telephone address to lawyers in Pakistan’s capital, the ousted chief justice of the Supreme Court urged the lawyers today to continue to defy the state of emergency imposed by the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. In the second day of protests, police arrested 50 lawyers in the eastern city of Lahore and clashes broke out between hundreds of lawyers and Pakistani police in Multan.

“The lawyers should convey my message to the people to rise up and restore the constitution,” the chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, told dozens of lawyers before his cellular phone line was cut. “I am under arrest now, but soon I will also join you in your struggle.”

It was unclear how Chief Justice Chaudhry, who is under house arrest, was able to gain access to a telephone. He and other lawyers said they hoped to recreate the protest campaign they carried out this spring when the lawyers mounted big rallies in major cities after General Musharraf removed Chief Justice Chaudhry from the Supreme Court bench. He was reinstated after four months, and then fired again on Saturday.

Full article here (registration required).  President Bush drew a lukewarm “hard line” against Musharraf’s decision to declare martial law in Pakistan in response to terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists:

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush took a hard line with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, demanding he relinquish his military duties and return the country to civilian rule.

The White House, using tough rhetoric against a strategic ally in the war on terrorism, also called on Musharraf to release hundreds of opposition leaders and activists who have been rounded up since the declaration of martial law on Saturday.

“We expect there to be elections as soon as possible,” Bush told reporters in his first public remarks on the crisis in Pakistan. “The president should remove his military uniform. Previous to his decision we made it clear that these emergency measures would undermine democracy.”

Despite the tough rhetoric, the White House has decided against taking tangible measures to show its displeasure with Musharraf. Administration officials said there would be no immediate cuts to aid to Pakistan.

Full article here.  Meanwhile, Pakistan’s wild card, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, is traveling to Islamabad to discuss the state of emergency with leaders of opposition parties:

KARACHI (Thomson Financial) – Pakistan’s former premier Benazir Bhutto headed for the capital Islamabad Tuesday for talks with political leaders on the state of emergency but said she had no plans to meet President Pervez Musharraf.

‘I am going to hold discussions with the leadership of other parties on the current situation and chalk out a joint strategy with them,’ she told reporters at Karachi airport.

Bhutto said that a meeting with Musharraf was ‘not in her schedule during her stay in Islamabad.’

This will be her first visit to the capital since she returned to Pakistan on October 18 from eight years in self-exile on corruption charges, a homecoming that ended in twin bombings that killed 139 people.

Bhutto, 54, flew to Dubai briefly on Thursday but came home again following Musharraf’s decision to impose a state of emergency on Saturday.

Military ruler Musharraf and Bhutto, leader of the moderate Pakistan People’s Party, had been in contact for several months for a possible power-sharing deal after general elections due in January.

Musharraf gave her an amnesty on the graft charges in October to allow her to return home.

Not a menu suggestion, but news of diplomatic rumblings in the Middle East:

(AGI) – Ankara, 2 Nov – US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has flown to Ankara in an attempt to find a diplomatic solution to the burgeoning crisis in Northern Iraq caused by the activity of separatist rebels members of Kurd PKK. Rice will meet her Turkish counterpart Ali Babcan and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Turkish press, quoting diplomatic sources, no concrete result is expected following today’s meetings, which will take place at the same time as the conference on Iraq’s neighbouring countries to be held in Istanbul. In Ankara, it is maintained that Ms Rice will try to convince Erdogan’s government not to act on its own and to coordinate its actions against the Kurdistan Workers’Party with the USA and Iraq. On the flight to Ankara, during a refuelling stopover in Ireland, Ms Rice stated again that “nothing which can destabilize Northern Iraq can bring benefit to Turkey.”

Full article here. Interestingly, Turkey’s bid for EU membership has risen near to the top of the headlines in recent days, suggesting that European leaders are also weighing in with not-so-subtle pressure on Turkey to mind its peas … I mean, its p’s and q’s:

BRUSSELS: In a fresh blow to Turkey’s hopes of joining the European Union, a key report has concluded that reforms there slowed in 2007 because of a constitutional crisis over the election of a president with an Islamic background.

With attention distracted by tensions between the ruling AK Party and the military over the election of Abdullah Gul, Turkey did too little to root out corruption, modernize its judiciary, reduce the power of the military and increase freedom of expression.

The annual progress report compiled by the European Commission, to be released next week, comes amid preparations for a new committee on the future of the EU which may try to determine where Europe’s frontiers should lie and how much further the bloc should expand.

Public opinion across the EU is hardening against Turkey’s EU membership bid and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France leads a group of countries opposed to full EU membership for Turkey, preferring a looser association with Ankara instead.

Full article here.

  • PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A burqa-clad woman blew herself up and killed at least 15 people Monday at a crowded police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan, police said. It was believed to be the first time a female suicide bomber has struck inside the country.

The bombing, which injured 22 others, apparently was in a rickshaw that was being examined at a police checkpoint around 8:25 a.m. local time in the town of Bannu, said police officer Habib Khan.

Full article here.

  • (CNN) — NATO ships rescued two survivors and spotted three bodies off the coast of a small Red Sea island Monday morning, following a spectacular volcanic eruption the night before, a NATO commander said.

    The Yemeni Coast Guard rescued 21 of the 29 Yemeni military personnel who were on the island when the volcano erupted, but they requested help from a nearby six-ship NATO task force en route to the Suez Canal, according to Ken Allan of the Canadian Navy’s HMCS Toronto.

Full article here.

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