Inside Opinion

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Tag: China


China’s cyber spies could compromise US defense

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

China has an ingenious way of saving billions in military research and development: Just steal it from other countries, primarily the United States.

The Washington Post reports that Chinese military hackers have accessed data from 37 American weapons programs and 29 other defense-related technologies. Some observers think the stolen information is why China’s J-20 stealth fighters are so similar to the U.S.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Post’s report comes on the heels of accusations earlier this month from the Obama administration that China has also hacked into computers of U.S. government

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America faces rising threat from malware weapons

snakeThis editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

There it is, buried deep in a seemingly routine annual report the Pentagon has just released: The Chinese government has been carrying out cyber-raids on the U.S. government.

They aren’t actual cyber-attacks – attempts to destroy, disable or take over enemy information systems. They sound like sophisticated attempts to scrape this nation’s security secrets. According to the Defense Department’s May 6 update on Chinese military capacity:

“China is using its computer network exploitation capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs.”

The purpose, the Pentagon believes, is to get “a picture of U.S. defense networks, logistics and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.” What’s more, the techniques used in these penetrations “are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attacks.”

For reasons of his own, President Barack Obama kept this finding at arm’s length by trickling it out through a Pentagon brief. Still, his administration has crossed a threshold, officially accusing its third-largest trade partner of operating as an enemy in cyberspace.

The important takeaway may be as much about cyberwarfare in general than about China in particular.

Malware attacks on networks are increasingly common and increasingly the work of governments — such as North Korea and Iran — as opposed to criminal syndicates.
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China should rein in North Korean lunacy

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

As the craziness emanating out of North Korea keeps ratcheting up, one almost longs for the good old days of the Cold War. At least then we knew our adversary and had a certain level of confidence that the Soviet Union had no interest in self-destruction – the inevitable result if it launched its ICBMs at us.

We can’t be so sure that’s the case with the hermit kingdom of Kim Jong Un, which in recent days has done some unusually bizarre things.

A month after North Korea’s third nuclear test, it said it would “exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack” on South Korea and the United States. Last week it posted a strange, militaristic video on its YouTube channel, titled Read more »


TAM’s sale of Chinese items is justified

A late Qing dynasty Manchu noblewoman's silk robe was sold for $15,000 at a December auction. (Courtesy Bonhams
A late Qing dynasty Manchu noblewoman’s silk robe was sold for $15,000 at a December auction. (Courtesy Bonhams)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Ever received a gift that was great at first, but down the road just didn’t fit into your decor or closet?

Your options: Throw it away, donate it to charity, regift it or sell it.

The Tacoma Art Museum has found itself in that predicament with some of the items donated to it over the years. It has chosen to sell several gifts made to its permanent collection to reach its goal of $2.5 million for acquisitions in line with its focus on Northwest art. This practice – called deaccessioning – is common with museums.

But the sale of a collection of Chinese robes and jades has raised some hackles. They were donated in 1976 by the late John and Mary Young, children of Chinese immigrants. The last time any of the collection was shown at TAM was in 1996. Read more »


Get tough on Ugly Gorilla and other Chinese hackers

21ehackersThis editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

If you can’t innovate, steal.

That’s likely the rationale behind years of Chinese cyberattacks against U.S. companies in such fields as aerospace, satellite and telecommunications, information technology and scientific research.

A private U.S. technology security firm, Mandiant Corp., announced earlier this week that it has linked a massive cyberattack campaign to the Chinese military (China steadfastly denies any role). Mandiant says that 141 companies and governmental agencies were targeted, 115 of them in the United States, by such entertainingly named hackers as Ugly Gorilla, Dota and SuperHard.

All of the hackers seem to operate out of one place – a Shanghai office building operated by the People’s Liberation Army cyber-command unit. Among the unnamed companies whose security has been breached are military contractors and ones with responsibility for parts of the U.S. power grid, water supply, and oil and gas pipelines.
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Headlines we’ll read in 2013, for better or worse

Everyone likes predictions (why else do we read horoscopes?). Here are some from David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy. For the most part, he sees positive developments, particularly for the world economy. But he ends on a sad, pessimistic note.

Headlines we’ll be reading in 2013

By David Rothkopf

WASHINGTON — As that great geopolitical theorist Carly Simon once observed, “We can never know about the days to come but we think about them anyway, yay.” She then went on to say, as ketchup lovers everywhere remember, “Anticipation, anticipation, is making me late . . . is keepin’ me waitin’.”

Of course, the tortures of anticipation are well known to observers of the slow-motion train wreck that has been Washington’s management of America’s financial situation, or the recent, interminable U.S. presidential campaign, or the hideously slow path to oblivion followed by the Assad regime in Syria, or the painfully circular Eurofollies, not to mention the gradual but undeniable degradation of the planet’s environment that goes on year in and year out despite our clear knowledge about how to avoid the damage.

The time has come to say “enough.” We live in an age in which the average consumer expects instant gratification. There is no reason those who are interested in the bigger issues taking place in the world shouldn’t have it too. For that reason, we bring to you the top headlines that you will be looking back at when 2013 draws to a close 12 months from now. Think of it as the year in review, before it happens. Read more »


South Sound would reap few benefits from more coal trains

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

At first glance, a proposal to ship millions of more tons of coal through a Whatcom County terminal might not sound like something that should concern South Sound residents all that much. After all, trains already transport coal through Pierce County for shipment out of Seattle.

But the Whatcom County proposal would mean up to 18 additional trains per day rumbling through Western Washington, transporting coal from Montana and Wyoming for shipment to Asia. Those trains would add traffic to the rails that hug Puget Sound and create additional waits for motorists

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Crimes against humanity in North Korea’s hidden gulags

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program is a secondary issue. So is its effort to create intercontinental-range missiles, which flopped spectacularly last week.

The problem with North Korea is North Korea itself – the twisted, pathological nature of its dictatorship, which is what makes its possession of nuclear arms so dangerous. A newly released report, “The Hidden Gulag,” has given the world an unprecedented glimpse of the depravity at the core of the regime.

It’s been common knowledge for many years – though denied by the dictatorship – that North Korea runs a system of slave camps modeled on Josef Stalin’s gulags. “The Hidden Gulag,” published by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, documents that system in astounding and damning detail.

The report gleans a surprising amount of evidence – including satellite imagery – of what’s happening inside the obsessively secretive nation. It relies on extensive interviews with survivors of the camps who escaped and miraculously found their way to asylum in South Korea and elsewhere.

Totalitarian governments have routinely subjected their victims to unspeakable misery; that’s hardly news. Stalin, Adolf Hitler and their imitators almost inured the world to arbitrary arrests, mass enslavement, starvation, torture and systematic murder.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have suffered the same fates for such crimes as having the wrong ideas or knowing too much about South Korea.
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