Six simple steps to defend your data from ransomware


Ransomware blackmails Internet users by encrypting the files on their computer or mobile device and demanding payment, generally in the virtual currency bitcoin, to unlock them. — dpa

Recent ransomware attacks have rattled internet users around the world. This malicious software blackmails users by encrypting the files on their computer or mobile device and demanding payment, generally in the virtual currency bitcoin, to unlock them. But these six simple security measures can significantly reduce the risk of a computer being hit by an attack.


1. Regular updates
: Software updates for browsers and operating systems don’t just add new functions – they also install security patches to protect computers against the latest malicious software.

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) recommends enabling automatic updates on a device and advises against the use of older operating systems such as Windows XP, for which Microsoft has stopped providing regular security updates.

Microsoft will also discontinue updates for the operating system’s successor, Windows Vista, this summer – all the more reason to replace it with a newer version.

2. Be vigilant: Don’t trust anyone, says nomoreransom.org, a website run by IT security companies and European law enforcement. Never open email attachments from suspicious accounts, don’t click on questionable links and don’t download unverified software.

Even emails from friends and co-workers should not necessarily be trusted. Before opening an attachment or clicking on a link, always take time to consider whether the sender’s online account could have been hacked or their computer software infiltrated by malicious software.

3. Antivirus software: Enable all the security applications in your operating system, advises the BSI. Reliable antivirus software can provide further protection, but must be kept up-to-date.

4. Back up data: Creating digital duplicates of your files can protect your personal information from disappearing forever. In the event of an attack, you can just transfer over your back-up files.

Windows (Backup and Restore) and MacOS (Time Machine) have in-built applications for backing up your data, but they might not be accessible in the event of an attack. A more secure option would be to save your files in an external device, such as a hard disk drive, solid-state drive, DVD, or in the cloud.

To reduce the risk of spreading viruses, only connect the external drive to a device during file transfers. As an extra precaution, save your data in two separate external hard drives.


5. Fight back
: If you happen to accidentally install malicious software or receive suspicious messages, immediately disconnect your device from the internet, instructs  nomoreransom.org. to be decrypted. This will prevent the infection from spreading.

You can then run a clean installation of your computer software, and transfer over your back-up files. For some types of ransomware, there are techniques to unlock the content on your computer.

The latest malware outbreak “Petya” can be stopped by creating the read-only filetype “C:\Windows\perfc.dat,” which prevents it from scrambling your files. An initial report on the antidote published on the site bleepingcomputer.com has since been confirm by several IT security companies.

6. Never pay: A blackmailer’s demands should never be met, says the State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) of Lower Saxony. There are several reasons for this, the LKA reports. First, even if you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your files.

Second, by paying the attacker, you are supporting the growth of a criminal industry. Every payment finances new attacks. In the case of the recent Petya outbreak, the payment system is useless, because only one email address was provided, which has since been shut down by the provider. — dpa

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Locking horns over human rights


Human rights matter: Demonstrators protesting the shooting death of 16-year-old Pierre Loury confront police after shutting down the Eisenhower Expressway during a march in Chicago, Illinois recently. — Getty Images/ AFP

 

Video:

http://english.cntv.cn/2016/04/17/VIDE0l4zwWjzir4IqZ8mEs9m160417.shtml

It’s April and time for the usual tit-for-tat exchange between China and the United States over their human rights practices.

 

APRIL is the month when the two biggest economies in the world – the United States and China – lock horns in an annual exchange over each other’s human rights practices.

Since 1977, the United States has been releasing its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, giving its review of human rights issues in countries around the world (but not its own).

And in a retaliatory fashion, Beijing would follow up the next day with its Human Rights Record of the United States in response to the criticisms piled on China.

The Chinese tradition began in 1998 and functioned like a “mirror” for the United States to examine its own human rights flaws. In the words of this year’s document: “Since the US government refused to hold up a mirror to look at itself, it has to be done with other people’s help.”

This year’s collision happened last week.

In the US 2015 report, Washington criticised China’s repression of people involved in civil and political rights advocacy and China’s crackdown on the legal community.

It also highlighted the disappearance of five men in Hong Kong’s publishing industry, believing that Chinese security officials were responsible.

Among others, the report also drew attention to the repression of the minority Uighurs and Tibetans, and tight control on the Internet and media.

As expected, the comments did not go down well with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang accused the United States of politicising the human rights issues in China to undermine the country’s stability and development.

“It’s nothing new for the United States to find fault with the internal affairs of other countries in the name of human rights,” he said.

China’s report, on the other hand, curtly labelled the US human rights record as “terrible”, “no improvement”, and plagued with “numerous new problems”.

Citing statistics, surveys and news reports, it zeroed in on the gun violence and excessive police violence, corrupt prison system and the prevailing money and clan politics in the United States.

Racial relations are “at their worst in nearly two decades,” it added.

And, most notably, Beijing reprimanded the United States for violating human rights outside its borders. Examples cited were the deadly Iraqi and Syrian air strikes, drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, and bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan.

The United States is “treating citizens from other countries like dirt,” the report said.

One of the sections in China’s report was reserved for the economic and social rights of US citizens, which Beijing said did not record substantial progress.

A gloomy picture of the United States was painted: “Workers carried out mass strikes to claim their rights at work. Food-insecure and homeless populations remained huge. Many US people suffered from poor health.”

When the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Lu rejected the US report last week, he pointed out that China’s efforts in promoting human rights have resulted in “great achievements that have attracted worldwide attention”.

While he did not elaborate on the great achievements, China has always been championing eradication of poverty as “one of the greatest human rights successes a country could hope for,” as state news agency Xinhua put it early last month.

In an article to dispute the West’s attack on China’s human rights record at the United Nations, Xinhua pointed out that lifting people out of poverty is an area of human rights that is often overlooked by Western countries, in particular the United States.

“China’s achievements in alleviating immense poverty along with its other human rights feats are victim to the West’s selective amnesia,” it stated.

China has a “moderately prosperous society” goal to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020. Among the efforts by the Government, according to Xinhua, are increasing the budget to relief poverty by 43%, improving infrastructure in regions with minorities, and reforming the healthcare system.

By rolling out these facts and figures, Xinhua hoped it could change the West’s “tired and dated view” of human rights in China, but added that it won’t hold its breath.

Till next April, then.

By Tho Xin Yi Check-In-China, The Star

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World Internet Conference 2015 Live from Wuzhen, China


Video: President Xi Jinping delivers keynote speech at WIC

Chinese President Xi Jinping began to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Second World Internet Conference (WIC) held in the river town of Wuzhen in east China’s Zhejiang Province Wednesday.
 

http://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf
http://english.cntv.cn/2015/12/16/VIDE1450236360367156.shtml

Xi calls for: No double standards in cyber security, cyber sovereignty, inclusive Internet community to build shared cyber future

WUZHEN, Zhejiang, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for joint efforts to combat cyber crimes and Internet terrorism, while underscoring that there should not be any double standards in safeguarding cyber security.

“We can not just have security for one or some countries, leaving the rest insecure, still less should one seek the so-called absolute security of itself at the expense of security of others,” Xi said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Second World Internet Conference held in the river town of Wuzhen, east China’s Zhejiang.

Cyberspace is for all mankind. Its future should be in the hands of all nations and countries should step up communication, broaden consensus and deepen cooperation, the Chinese president said.

Xi Jinping has put forward five proposals to build a community of shared future in cyberspace.

Speaking at a government-organised conference in Wuzhen Town attended by executives of global and Chinese Internet companies, he called for efforts to speed up the building of global cyber infrastructure and promote connectivity.

“China stands ready to work with all parties concerned to come up with more investment and technical support to jointly advance the building of global cyber infrastructure and enable more developing countries and their people to share the development opportunities brought by the Internet,” Xi said.

China’s President Xi Jinping laid out his vision for the internet, calling for respect of different governance models and standardized online security, placing China at the front of debates on online control and sovereignty.

“Each country should join hands and together curb the abuse of information technology, oppose network surveillance and hacking, and fight against a cyberspace arms race,” Xi told China’s second World Internet Conference.

Major Internet players such as Facebook, Microsoft, and China’s Alibaba attended the conference.

Participants hail President Xi’s remarks at WIC

Participants hail President Xi’s remarks at WIC.

 

Commentary: “Shared and governed by all” only way for Internet to get out of “Hobbes Jungle”

BEIJING, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — Twenty-eight years ago, the founding father of the German Internet Dr. Werner Zorn helped Beijing send its first email to the outside world, which said: “Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner in the world.”

However, today, China, together with other developing countries, still find themselves trapped in a jungle due to an expanding digital divide and a lack of joint governance.

The divide, a technological gap between developing and developed countries on an international scale, is mainly caused by some Western countries’ arrogance and monopoly of information and communication technologies.

For example, the central nervous system of the global Internet with 13 root severs is completely dominated by the West, with the United States having 10 root severs while Britain, Sweden and Japan possess one respectively.

The ever-enlarging gap is detrimental to the stability and sustainable development of the international community, leading to anarchy in cyberspace and to some extent, gradually transforming it into a Hobbes Jungle where the stronger always has a bigger say over the destiny of smaller ones.

In addition, the divide has begun to show side effects like cybercrimes or even cyberterrorism as it accelerates social inequality, which provides fertile ground for extremism.

Like China, the United States is also a victim of cyberanarchy and such side effects. The recent shooting rampage in southern California, where two attackers radicalized by fanatical propaganda of the Islamic State (IS) on the Internet opened fire on innocent people, has sent a strong signal to Uncle Sam and its Western allies that they need to share and govern cyberspace with others.

After all, the Law of Jungle is relentlessly fair to everyone. In the long run, it neither favors the United States for its preponderance nor discriminates against the IS for its extremism.

In this sense, the opening of the Second World Internet Conference on Wednesday in China’s Wuzhen with the theme of “an interconnected world shared and governed by all — building a community of common future in cyberspace”, is a boon to nations worldwide threatened by the Law of Jungle.

If they want to get out of the jungle, they should bear three things in mind.

First, teamwork. Treat each other with respect and equality. The jungle is too enormous for egoism. Selfishness and hegemony worship will only ruin the mission. So the hefty ones like the United States should learn to cooperate if they want to defeat common enemies like cybercrimes.

Second, sharing. Don’t let the smaller ones be knocked out. Help them grow. Otherwise, they will become accomplices of the jungle. The Western countries who enjoy early advantages of information technology should loosen their restriction on technology transfers to developing countries.

Thirdly, joint governance. Never seek hegemony in decision-making. There are many paths to leave the jungle and the one you choose may not suit others. The governance of cyberspace needs the participation of all parties and all voices should be heard before a final decision is made.

By Tian Dongdong Xinhua

Cyber security depends on US cooperation

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks next to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (L) at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Virginia, January 13, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

China’s attempts to cooperate with the United States to safeguard the strategic stability of cyberspace have been welcomed, as the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong have suffered a series of high-profile cyber attacks this year, according to the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Global State of Information Security Survey. The average financial loss caused by cyber-crimes in the region, says the report, rose 10 percent year-on-year to $2.63 million, compared with a 5 percent decline globally.

In cooperating to safeguard cyberspace, Beijing and Washington could seek the Internet equivalent of the code of safe conduct agreed between their militaries to avoid naval and air encounters, which has helped manage several bilateral disputes.

The two countries should first try their best to not point the finger at each other in case a conflict over cyber security emerges. The latest round of tensions in cyberspace started in early 2013, when American private security company Mandiant released a report, “APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units”, accusing the Chinese military of stealing US intellectual property.

Such a hysterical attitude, to a point, reflects the US’ anxiety over China’s impressive economic growth in the recent years. It is, therefore, important that the US seek to adjust its strategic perception of China and accept that the power gap between them is closing.

Beijing, on its part, ought to make more efforts to make its ideas clear to acquire a bigger say in global cyber-security affairs. Besides, neither country, especially the US, should make a habit of “making enemies” by taking irresponsible actions, even for the sake of national security.

True, most cutting-edge technologies in the age of the Internet can be lawfully and strategically used to gather military intelligence and keep cyber attacks at bay. But highly politicized discussions and operations, which used to be kept secret, can now be made public by the media today. So the challenge is to keep such details confidential.

In regard to China-US cyber cooperation, the major problem lies in Washington’s attempts to create enemies for political motives. Tactics such as exaggerating the perils of the so-called Chinese cyber-attacks and intimidating the American public and legislature with some selectively chosen materials, for example, have been routinely used by the US cyber-security authorities to create more room for political maneuverings and get more military budget.

Such tricks may have eased some of their pressure to safeguard homeland security, but they have come at the cost of cyberspace stability which China and the US both need. They have also failed to protect the two countries’ national interests, which need them to closely coordinate rather than oppose or accuse each other.

Washington should also be careful about its military industry, which is basically bolstered by certain security enterprises and departments trying to abduct the national security policy.

For some US security companies, gathering evidence on the imaginary cyber-attacks from China to help thwart them in the future can guarantee the consistent increase in their market values. Likewise, relevant governmental organs also tend to overstate the cyber security issue to increase their budget and influence security affairs.

China and the US should not let such parochial and hawkish mindset affect Washington’s cyber-security strategy, because neither country can emerge as winner in a cyber war; in fact, such a war will cause huge damage to the world. As a responsible major power, the US is obliged to push forward the China-US strategic dialogue on cyber security to make global cyberspace more stable, rather than using double standard to defend its controversial strategy and tactics, and condemn China for absurd reasons.

By Shen Yi (China Daily)
The author is an associate professor in the Department of International Politics at Fudan University in Shanghai.

China key to turning cyberspace truly global

A visitor tries out wearable device at the Light of the Internet Expo in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, Dec 14, 2015. [Photo /chinadaily.com.cn]

China holds a pivotal role in the Internet. It had more than 650 million Internet users by the end of last year and it is the largest and fastest growing information and communications technology consumer market in the world. The Chinese ICT sector is currently valued at €433 billion ($477.472 billion) and it is growing at an annual average rate of 7 percent, the fastest in the world. The country has made tremendous progress in Internet development in the past decade having become the most active e-commerce market in the world.

However, if we look at the distribution of the world’s ICT sector, China does not rank first. It ranks third. In 2012 China accounted for 13 percent of the world’s ICT, behind the United States (32 percent) and the European Union (23 percent). In the same year, the value of the EU’s ICT sector exceeded €516 billion.

These figures show the tremendous growth opportunities of China’s ICT industry. Obviously, the strategy should not be just to copy leading brands or seek to produce “Chinese” products. The ICT industry is not the car industry. It doesn’t just produce a series of final products; it produces interconnected systems too. In the ICT industry, we cannot innovate in isolation. Each single new product or system needs to be compatible — to interoperate — with those of upstream service providers and of the applications that users want.

Even more than in other globalized industries, the keyword in ICT is specialization. In other words, China should not promote investments in areas where other countries or economies are strong, but seek cooperation instead. In this regard, an analysis of the ICT statistics of China and the EU show how complementary China’s and Europe’s ICT sectors are.

China is very strong in manufacturing — more than 50 percent of the ICT sector comprises the manufacturing of telecom equipment, consumer electronics and electronic components. The EU instead dominates in high-end innovative services and IT applications, which together account for more than 55 percent of regional ICT sector.

The EU is a major technology hub and it can provide a key contribution for the growth of new ICT markets in China if adequate cooperation agreements are timely discussed and concluded, for example, in niche markets like the Internet of Things, smart cities, big data, e-health, cloud services, which will drive growth in the ICT industry in the next decade.

But opportunities for cooperation also exist in the “traditional” telecom segment. China and the EU are home to the world’s major telecom vendors. Synergies in 5G development are clear, especially following the signing of the EU-China Agreement on 5G last September in Beijing.

The EU-China political and economic relationship is very developed, though there are some challenges, which we need to overcome to improve cooperation in the digital field, such as the lack of mutual understanding of the reciprocal markets, divergences in the approach to cyber security and, related to it, a lack of global Internet confidence. Moreover there are substantial regulatory divergences between the Chinese and EU rules, for example, on consumer protection and data protection.

The EU has just started its ambitious “Digital Single Market” strategy, which should in the coming years reduce barriers to doing business across the EU’s internal borders, provide EU companies scale and resources to grow and make the EU an even more attractive location for global companies.

The EU’s Digital Single Market strategy will offer substantial investment opportunities to Chinese ICT companies.

However, in the global Internet ecosystem, the concept of attracting investment by making one’s investment conditions more attractive than those in competing economies is outdated. We need a global single, open cyberspace.

The second World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, could be the starting point of discussions between China and the EU, for instance, on how to facilitate online purchases of digital contents and to promote affordable high quality parcel delivery. Obviously, at a later stage anecdotal evidence should be complemented thorough academic study of respective Internet regulations in China and the EU.

By Luigi Gambardella (China Daily)
The author is president of ChinaEU, a non-profit platform aiming to boost bilateral digital cooperation.

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Source: Global Times | 2015-12-16 0:48:01


Aerial view of Wuzhen, venue for World Internet Conference

Wuzhen World Internet Conference 2015


Related post
  World Internet Conference to be held Dec 16~18 2015 Wuzhen China

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the upcoming Second World Internet Conference (WIC) in the river town of Wuzhen in east China …

 

World Internet Conference to be held Dec 16~18 2015 Wuzhen China


Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the upcoming Second World Internet Conference (WIC) in the river town of Wuzhen in east China’s Zhejiang Province, an official announced on Wednesday.

Xi is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference, which is scheduled to be held between Dec. 16 and 18, said Lu Wei, minister in charge of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), at a press conference.

More than 2,000 attendees from over 120 countries and regions will participate in the conference, with foreign guests accounting for roughly half, Lu said.

Conference participants include representatives of governments, international organizations, Internet companies, academics, experts, think tanks and foreign and domestic college students.

The representatives also include the prime ministers of Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as senior officials from the United Nations, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Lenovo, Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.

The conference will cover 22 topics, including Internet cultural transmission, Internet innovation and development, digital economy cooperation, Internet technology standards and cyber space management.

Ten sub-forums will be held during the conference on topics such as the “Internet Plus” strategy, digital China and Internet innovation.

An expo and more than 80 press conferences will be held during the second WIC, showcasing cutting-edge technology and the latest achievements from about 260 enterprises from all over the world.

Local officials from Zhejiang Province praised the changes the WIC has brought to Wuzhen and provincial economic development. They vowed to provide high-quality services for the conference.

Lu also defended the CAC’s role in Internet management when responding to questions about access to some foreign websites, saying their business activities should abide by China’s laws and regulations.

“China adheres to reform and opening up to the outside world,” said Lu, adding that “for those foreign firms that want to enter China, there is a basic rule: they must abide by Chinese laws and regulations.”

Lu proposed joint efforts to build a “peaceful, safe and transparent” Internet for the welfare of people worldwide.

Guo Weimin, deputy head of the State Council Information Office (SCIO), said the SCIO will provide on-the-spot press release service during the second WIC.

The conference will be co-hosted by the CAC and Zhejiang provincial government.

The first WIC was held in Wuzhen in November last year.

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American FBI’s China accusation spurred by finance, not a good idea to spy on friends!


On Thursday last week, the FBI released a film entitled The Company Man: Protecting America’s Secrets, which targets economic espionage. The 35-minute film features two Chinese economic spies who try to bribe a US employee with money, attempting to acquire insulation technology from the latter’s company. The two were later prosecuted and caught in the net of justice. According to media reports, the video has already been shown nearly 1,300 times at US enterprises.

An FBI official publicly voiced that “China is the most dominant threat we face from economic espionage … The Chinese government plays a significant role.”

The official also declared that economic espionage has caused losses of hundreds billions of dollars annually to the US economy.

How much is “hundreds of billions of dollars?” Say $300 billion, about 2 percent of US annual GDP.

Since the FBI believes that there has been a 53 percent surge in economic espionage in the US, and 95 percent of US companies suspect that China is the main culprit, does it infer that China has stolen 2 percent of US GDP?

Some people may ponder that given the Cold War is over, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were eradicated and the war on terror is seemingly not that urgent for the moment, and in light of US federal budget constraints, the FBI needs to find new strategic reasons for more funds. Therefore, the “position” of “Chinese economic spies” has been greatly elevated.

What the FBI has done is bound to injure Sino-US relations. But it is US society that will suffer the most. Many Americans will hence think that their economy is fine, their companies have no problems at all and the only issue is the threat from Chinese economic espionage.


It looks to them like Chinese intelligence services and civilian business spies are much more powerful than the FBI, CIA and other non-governmental intelligence forces combined. China is not capable in every category except for spy technology. This is the logic of the FBI
.

If we take a good look at China’s overall development in this changing world, you will see that one-third of global new technical patents are now created by Chinese companies every year. Innovation has also become China’s national slogan. China will eventually be able to challenge the West’s dominance in high technology.

China is well aware that it should learn from the West, especially the US, in terms of technology. But this is not stealing.

US universities are also attracting students from all over the world, yet this brings more benefits than losses to the nation due to the dissemination of knowledge.

Someone who always claims that his house was robbed and feels free to suspect his friend or neighbor is the thief is very annoying, and that is what the US is doing right now. The whole world knows that US intelligent agencies are the most notorious regarding this issue.

We hope that the often-silent Chinese intelligence services could expose some hard evidence of espionage by US spies, and make a spy movie featuring US espionage, providing it with a mirror to look at itself.- Global Times

Not a good idea to spy on friends

THERE’s been so much dramatic news these days – from Greece’s miseries to Iran, China from blowhard Donald Trump – that the shocking story of how America’s National Security Agency has been spying on German and French leadership has gone almost unnoticed.

Last year, it was revealed that the NSA had intercepted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. She is supposed to be one of Washington’s most important allies and the key power in Europe. There was quiet outrage in always subservient Germany, but no serious punitive action.

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, was also bugged by American intelligence. Her predecessor, Luiz Lula da Silva, was also apparently bugged.

This year, came revelations that NSA and perhaps CIA had tapped the phones of France’s president, Francois Hollande, and his two predecessors, Nicholas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. Hollande ate humble pie and could only summon some faint peeps of protest to Washington. Luckily for the US, Charles de Gaulle was not around. After the US tried to strong-arm France, “le Grand Charles” kicked the US and Nato out of France.

Last week, WikiLeaks revealed that the NSA had bugged the phone of Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for over a decade. Imagine the uproar and cries “the Gestapo is back” if it were revealed that German intelligence had bugged the phones of President Barack Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry.

A lot of Germans were really angry that their nation was being treated by the Americans as a northern banana republic. Many recalled that in the bad old days of East Germany its intelligence agency, Stasi, monitored everyone’s communications under the direct supervision of KGB big brother at Moscow Centre.

The National Security Agency and CIA claim their electronic spying is only aimed at thwarting attacks by anti-American groups (aka “terrorism”). This claim, as shown by recent events, is untrue. One supposes the rational must be a twist on the old adage “keep your enemies close, but your friends even closer”.

Ironically, the political leaders listed above – save perhaps Brazil’s da Silva – are all notably pro-American and responsive to Washington’s demands.

Why would the US risk alienating and humiliating some of its closet allies?

One suspects the reason is sheer arrogance … and because US intelligence could do it. But must US intelligence really know what Mr Merkel is making Mrs Merkel for dinner?

Until WikiLeaks blew the whistle, some European leaders may have known they were being spied upon but chose to close their eyes and avoid making an issue. Raising a fuss would have forced them to take action against the mighty US.

Besides, British, Italian and French intelligence are widely believed to have bugged most communications since the 1950’s. But not, of course, the White House or Pentagon. The only nation believed to have gotten away with bugging the White House was Israel during the Clinton years. The Pentagon was bugged by a number of foreign nations, including Israel, China and Russia.

Humiliating Europe’s leaders in this fashion is a gift to the growing numbers of Europeans who believe their nations are being treated by the US as vassal states.

There is widespread belief in Western Europe that US strategic policy aims at preventing deeper integration of the EU and thwarting a common foreign policy or a powerful European military. Britain serves as a Trojan horse for America’s strategic interests in Europe.

Way back in the 1960’s, then German defence minister Franz Josef Strauss, an ardent proponent of a truly united Europe, thundered that Europeans would not play spearmen to America’s atomic knights. But, of course, that’s just what happened.

The US still runs and finances Nato in the same way the Soviet Union commanded the Warsaw Pact. Washington calls on Europe for troop contingents in its Middle East and south Asian colonial wars in the same way that the Persian Empire summoned its vassals to war.

Many Germans and French, both right and left, would like their leaders to react more forcefully to NSA’s ham-handed spying. However, Merkel and Hollande are both political jellyfish eager to evade any confrontation with Big Brother in Washington. Maybe he has too much dirt on them.

But a confrontation is inevitable one day if Europe is to regain its true independence that was lost after World War II.

By Eric S. Margolis who is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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