Monday, August 30, 2021

Hackers crack Quebec’s vax passports in 15 hours- rest of Canada next

Hackers crack Quebec’s vax passports in 15 hours — which means China has already been in there

Look at this story in the Journal de Montreal, translated into English: Your risky data on the vaccination passport Fraudsters could easily know where you went and save your personal information In less than 15 hours, hackers have created an application that allows you to copy the personal information included in the vaccination passport and track certain movements of Quebecers. 
I don’t know what the importance of the vaccine passport even is — given that we now know that if you’re vaccinated, you can still spread the virus. So what exactly is the importance of carrying out this spyware on you — other than the spying part?

 I mean, first it was one vaccine shot. Then it was two. Now it’s three. Now the billionaire profiteers at the vaccine companies are talking about annual shots. But do the shots work? Here’s a big story in the pro-vaccine, pro-panic New York Times — Israel, one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, has one of the highest infection rates in the world. 

What’s happening? The Washington Post just said the Moderna vaccine has more side-effects than once thought — it can inflame the hearts of young men. 

 How could we know what the effects are if you have three, four, five shots of this stuff? We don’t even know the effects of having one shot, or two, because the vaccines trials are still going on. It’s still experimental. None of these vaccines have been approved yet by the FDA. My point is: the vaccines passports aren't about health. 

They're about control. So when the Journal de Montreal claims that it’s really, really important to have this spyware on your phone, they mean the spyware itself is important. Not any health claims, which have never been studied. But don’t you see, it’s not about a piece of paper. It’s about setting up an entire system, electronically, tied into a master database, that includes your travel documents; your legal status; your public profile on social media; whether or not you have un-approved ideas. 

 We know this because that’s the model that was developed for China, by western tech companies. In China, they call it a “social credit” system. As in, it’s like your credit rating at the bank, but instead of measuring how good a borrowing risk you are, this will measure your political risk — as determined by the government. 

 And just like in China, it will determine whether or not you can fly, take a train, go to school, have an apartment. To call it a vaccine passport is a lie. It’s spyware, it’s a permanent surveillance and control mechanism. 

Which is why it will be permanent. It’s outrageous enough that you will have to tell every clerk, waiter and bouncer your private medical status. But now we know that you’ll also have to expose that information to criminals and fraudsters. 

And it’s a safe bet that the entire file has already been hacked and downloaded into China’s security database.

 Do you doubt it?


Quebec vaccine passport app hacked within days after launch

Province considering adjusting QR code identification system to improve security

Quebec’s digital vaccination passport system is under fire as computer programmers are demonstrating how easy it is to hack the province’s new VaxiCode app.

In just two days since launching on the App Store, where it quickly become one of the most downloaded apps in Canada, multiple accounts have surfaced of tech-savvy individuals being able to exploit weaknesses in the app’s design.

The app works as a digital wallet for the unique quick response (QR) codes given to Quebec residents as proof of vaccination. The QR codes contain personal information including names, birthdates, vaccination dates, and vaccination types. After registering their QR code in the app, Quebecers can then use their smartphones — along with a government-issued photo ID — to access spaces where vaccinations will be made mandatory.

However, a computer programmer, who spoke anonymously to Radio-Canada under a pseudonym, was able to successfully generate false proof of vaccination for non-existent citizens and register them in the app within six hours.

Around the same time, a hacker group used the newly released app to access the personal QR codes of several notable Quebec politicians, including Premier François Legault, Health Minister Christian Dubé, and Deputy Minister for Government Digital Transformation Éric Caire.

For his part, Caire — who is officially charged with ensuring Quebec’s vaccination passport system is secure — has downplayed the severity of the app’s weaknesses. In an interview with Radio-Canada, he argued that his personal information is already publicly available and his vaccine appointments well-documented on social media, suggesting that the hackers may not have needed to break into the app to gain that information. Nonetheless, CBC News reported that Quebec’s Health Ministry has filed formal complaints with the police regarding the QR code leaks.

Caire also suggested that improving the app’s security — specifically, making obtaining and registering QR codes a more complex process — would detract from the province’s goal of making vaccination passports as easy and user-friendly as possible.

Vaccination passports will be officially required to access certain public spaces and events in Quebec as of September 1st, 2021.

China benefits from Afghanistan

 China benefits from Afghanistan 

Rare Earth: Afghanistan Sits on $1 Trillion in Minerals

Afghanistan may be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world, valued at nearly $1 trillion, scientists say.
Image: Rare earth minerals
This assortment of rare earth elements includes, clockwise from top, praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium and gadolinium.

Despite being one of the poorest nations in the world, Afghanistan may be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world, valued at nearly $1 trillion, scientists say.

Afghanistan, a country nearly the size of Texas, is loaded with minerals deposited by the violent collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia. The U.S. Geological Survey began inspecting what mineral resources Afghanistan had after U.S.-led forces drove the Taliban from power in the country in 2004.

In 2006, U.S. researchers flew airborne missions to conduct magnetic, gravity and hyperspectral surveys over Afghanistan. [Infographic: Facts About Rare Earth Minerals]

Image: Rare earth minerals
This assortment of rare earth elements includes, clockwise from top, praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium and gadolinium.

The aerial surveys determined that Afghanistan may hold 60 million tons of copper, 2.2 billion tons of iron ore, 1.4 million tons of rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium and neodymium, and lodes of aluminumgold, silver, zinc, mercury and lithium. For instance, the Khanneshin carbonatite deposit in Afghanistan's Helmand province is valued at $89 billion, full as it is with rare earth elements.

"Afghanistan is a country that is very, very rich in mineral resources," geologist Jack Medlin, program manager of the USGS Afghanistan project, told LiveScience. The scientists' work was detailed in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Science.

In 2010, the USGS data attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense's Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, which is entrusted with rebuilding Afghanistan. The task force valued Afghanistan's mineral resources at $908 billion, while the Afghan government's estimate is $3 trillion. [Gold Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Gold Mining?]

Over the past four years, USGS and TFBSO have embarked on dozens of excursions to confirm the aerial findings, resulting in what are essentially treasure maps for mining companies.

The Afghan government has already signed a 30-year, $3 billion contract with the China Metallurgical Group, a state-owned mining enterprise based in Beijing, to exploit the Mes Aynak copper deposit, and awarded mining rights for the country's biggest iron deposit to a group of Indian state-run and private companies. [Is China Mining a Rare Earth Monopoly? Op-Ed]

China aims to align itself with Taliban and try to exploit Afghanistan’s rare earth metals, analyst warns

  • Rare earth metals in Afghanistan were estimated to be worth anywhere between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in 2020.
  • Only hours after the Taliban overran Afghanistan, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said Beijing was ready for “friendly cooperation with Afghanistan.”
  • China has dominated the rare earths market globally and threatened to cut off supplies to the U.S. during the trade war in 2019.
China’s alliance with Taliban has to be on international terms: AllianceBernstein

Afghanistan is estimated to have trillions of dollars worth of rare earth metals, and countries — such as China — that may be looking to swoop in on the country must follow international terms, one analyst told CNBC.

Shamaila Khan, director of emerging market debt at AllianceBernstein, said the Taliban insurgents have emerged with resources that are a “very dangerous proposition for the world,” with minerals in Afghanistan that “can be exploited.”

Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Islamist militant group over the weekend, as it seized the capital of Kabul as well as the Presidential Palace. After President Joe Biden’s April decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban made stunning battlefield advances — and nearly the whole nation is now under the insurgents’ control.

The international community should put pressure on China, for instance, if it seeks to ally itself with the Taliban, Khan added.

Afghanistan’s rare earth minerals

Minerals and rare earth metals in Afghanistan were estimated to be worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in 2020, according to a report in news magazine The Diplomat, citing Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a former diplomat at the Afghan Embassy in Washington D.C. A report by American news organization The Hill earlier this year put the value at about $3 trillion.

So there should be pressure on China if they are going to do alliances with the Taliban in order to generate economic aid for them — that they do it on international terms.
Shamaila Khan

“It should be an international initiative to make sure that if any country is agreeing to exploit its minerals on behalf of the Taliban, to only do it under strict humanitarian conditions where human rights, and rights for women are preserved in the situation,” Khan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

The Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islam has meant that women’s rights were curtailed, before the U.S. toppled its regime in 2001.

Afghanistan has rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and veins of aluminium, gold, silver, zinc, mercury, and lithium, according to Katawazai. Rare earths are used in everything from electronics to electric vehicles, and satellites and aircraft.

“So there should be pressure on China if they are going to do alliances with the Taliban in order to generate economic aid for them — that they do it on international terms,” said Khan. She was responding to a question on the commercial motivation behind China’s nod to the Taliban a day after the militants took over the country — given the trillions of dollars worth of rare earths there.

China poised for bigger role in Afghanistan?

Only hours after the Taliban overran Afghanistan, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said Beijing was ready for “friendly cooperation with Afghanistan.”

“On the basis of fully respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the will of all factions in the country, China has maintained contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban and played a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue,” said spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a press conference on Monday.

Chaos in Kabul, Afghanistan, ensues as the Taliban takes control

According to Hua, the Taliban said “on multiple occasions” that it “looks forward to China’s participation in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.”

“We are ready to continue to develop good-neighborliness and friendly cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction,” Hua said.

In late July, before the Taliban’s latest blitz across Afghanistan, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a delegation led by the head of the Afghan Taliban political committee Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Tianjin.

Chinese state media in recent days seemed to echo similar sentiments to the foreign ministry. The Global Times published an article on Aug. 15, citing Chinese experts, saying speculation that China might send troops to fill the vacuum left by the U.S. was “totally groundless.”

However, the state-run tabloid pointed out that the country can “contribute to post-war reconstruction and development, pushing forward projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.” The BRI is a mammoth infrastructure investment plan to build rail, road, sea and other routes stretching from China to Central Asia, Africa and Europe.

China’s dominance in world’s rare earths

China dominates the rare earths market globally. About 35% of rare earth global reserves are in China, the most in the world, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The country is also a mining machine, producing 120,000 metric tons or 70% of total rare earths in 2018, compared to the U.S. which mined 15,000 metric tones of rare earths the same year, it said.

How one rare earth mine could change the U.S.’s dependence on China

U.S. reserves also pale in comparison to China. The U.S. has a total of 1.4 million metric tons of reserves, versus 44 million metric tons of reserves in China.

China used rare earths as a threat during its trade war with the U.S. in 2019, when Beijing threatened to cut off supplies to the U.S. Rare earth minerals are commonly used in high-tech devices, automobiles, clean energy and defense.

The U.S. was heavily dependent on China for rare earths in 2019, when the Asian country was exporting 80% of U.S. needs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Havana Syndrome/Kamala Harris? China?


Kamala Harris trip delayed over 'Havana Syndrome' case

BBC News, Washington, Aug 25 2021

image captionMs Harris flew to Hanoi from Singapore on Tuesday

US Vice-President Kamala Harris's flight to Vietnam was delayed by several hours due to an "anomalous health incident" linked to so-called Havana syndrome, reports say.

The mysterious syndrome first affected people at the US and Canadian embassies in Havana in 2016 and 2017. It may be caused by directed microwave radiation.

Ms Harris was in Singapore ahead of her visit to Vietnam at the time of the incident in Hanoi.

It is unclear who was affected.

CBS News reported that the incident in the Vietnamese capital is similar to previous incidents of Havana syndrome reported elsewhere.

In a statement, the US State Department said that Ms Harris's departure from Singapore to Hanoi was delayed after reports of a "possible anomalous health incident" there.

The department added that "after careful assessment", Ms Harris and her delegation decided to continue the trip to Hanoi, where she has now arrived.

A senior official quoted by CBS News said that at least one official had to be medically evacuated over the weekend. He added that the incident is not the first case of Havana syndrome reported in Vietnam.

NBC News has reported that two officials were evacuated after "acoustic" incidents were reported in the homes of two US diplomats.

The BBC has contacted the state department to ask for more details.

Since the syndrome was first reported in Cuba in 2016, cases of the condition have been reported elsewhere in the world, including China and, last month, Austria.

Hundreds of US diplomats, spies and other personnel have reportedly fallen ill with symptoms including ear ringing, nausea, and severe headaches.

A 2019 US academic study found "brain abnormalities" in the diplomats who had fallen ill in Cuba.

In June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a review into the causes of the illness.

FIRST READING: Canada's Afghan allies abandoned, China doesn't want you to vote Tory


FIRST READING: Canada's Afghan allies abandoned, China doesn't want you to vote Tory

Plus, why Ontario Tories are avoiding Erin O'Toole