For the last several days, the mainstream propaganda machine diverted its attention from the mandatory “evil Russia” narrative and focused on 24/7 coverage of a weather balloon. Although the media frenzy was part of the “evil China” narrative, this one is not as omnipresent as that about Russia, at least not yet. The rather bizarre overfocus on such a trivial matter still has its propaganda purpose, as the “spy balloon”, while insignificant at a glance, fulfilled an important geopolitical goal for the United States.
First, the idea that a superpower such as China needs weather balloons to effectively spy on the US is quite laughable, as the Asian giant has more than enough surveillance satellites for that purpose, both military and civilian, to say nothing of its intelligence services and other means of collecting information. Second, weather balloons are simply too obvious and, thus, too (geo)politically sensitive to be used for that purpose, not to mention they’re not exactly the most steerable aircraft and are also quite slow, meaning they take quite a lot of time to reach the desired location.
Eventually, the US Air Force sent its much-touted F-22 fighter jets to shoot down the balloon. The coverage of the shootdown was quite embarrassing, to say the least, as the F-22 “Raptor” is an extremely expensive aircraft and it made no sense to use it for such a trivial matter. The jet that costs $334 million apiece and nearly $70,000 per flight hour fired a nearly half a million dollar missile to down a weather balloon, but the media presented it as if the target was no less than an alien spacecraft invading the US. There are now even photos of an F-22 with the balloon painted on it as its first air-to-air kill.
The Internal Revenue Service has issued a reminder to taxpayers, notifying them that when they file their taxes for 2022, they must report all their digital assets.
“The question, which appears at the top of Forms 1040, Individual Income Tax Return; 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors; and 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, was revised this year to update terminology,” the government agency said.
A 43-year old club-level tennis player, Ryan Vannah, passed away while playing a mixed doubles match. He dropped to his knees, lied down and died.
On January 29th, Ryan Vannah was in the tiebreaker of a mixed doubles tennis match at Red Rock Country Club when he dropped to a knee. Doctors watching the match rushed to perform CPR, but after 55 minutes of medical attention, his heart never restarted. Vannah’s sister, Tami Vannah Kang, was called moments after her brother collapsed, and found her sister-in-law, Dr. Catherine Vannah, among those trying to revive him. It wasn’t until they got to Summerlin Hospital and Medical Center that she and her husband broke down crying. Ryan Vannah died at Summerlin Hospital later that day.
His sister expressed she was shocked as this was the first incident to happen its kind. She also said, “He took impeccable care of his health. He was so fit. He lifted weights. He looked like a bodybuilder to me. He was huge. We did not see this coming.”
Several former military officials said that the United States could face significant shortfalls if there is ever a conflict with the Chinese regime over Taiwan, coming as U.S. military jets shot down a Chinese spy balloon that drifted across the United States.
“Unfortunately, talking broadly and in overall terms, the Chinese have dramatically increased their air, sea, space, cyber, and missile capabilities in the last couple of decades,” James Anderson, acting undersecretary of defense for policy under President Donald Trump, told Fox News.
“In some of the scenarios that could happen, we might well be at a competitive disadvantage initially because they have home-field advantage in terms of their capacity to quickly mobilize local forces,” he said, “and that’s really important to the [Chinese military].”
A fire at a chicken farm in Orini has killed 50,000 egg-laying hens.
Zeagold Nutrition chief executive John McKay confirmed there was a fire at its egg-laying farm in Waikato.
“A supervisor on-site at our farm called the fire department at 7.40am today. All 12 staff members on site are safe and unharmed,” McKay said earlier today.
“Ten emergency vehicles are currently on site to contain the spread of the fire.”
McKay said the cause of the fire had not been determined and the focus was on the welfare of their hens.
McKay confirmed about 1pm that the fire had been contained.
Meanwhile in the Democrat hellhole of California…
Prostitutes are now soliciting johns next to a St. Anthony’s K-8 Catholic grade school in Oakland all hours of the day after Governor Newsom signed a law ending loitering arrests for prostitution.
Last summer the Democrat governor signed a state law that prevents police from arresting sex workers loitering for prostitution.
So now the prostitutes are walking around scantily clad and in some even naked next to children and the police can’t make any arrests thanks to Gavin Newsom.
One mother told ABC 7 that the prostitutes literally stand in front of the school gate as they solicit johns.
“Do you see this every day?” ABC7’s Stephanie Sierra asked Rosa Vargas, a mother who sees the loitering prostitutes as she drops her daughter off to school.
“It’s every day, during all periods of the day,” said Vargas.
“Are the women directly in front of the school gate?” Sierra asked.
“Yes,” said Vargas. “Just last week they were blocking the entrance of the parking structure, where they were having basketball games.”
For more than two years, the mayor of this city near the Minnesota border backed a Chinese company’s plans to build a $700 million corn mill on the outskirts of town, citing the prospect of new jobs, added tax revenue and another place for farmers to sell their corn.
Then last week Brandon Bochenski reversed course, hours after the release of a letter from an Air Force official declaring the corn-mill project a security risk because of its proximity to the Grand Forks Air Force Base 12 miles away.
“When it comes to national security, I don’t think the economics matter,” said Mr. Bochenski, a former professional hockey player who previously played in Russia and was elected mayor in 2020. “You’ve got to draw a hard line there.”
Mr. Bochenski said he and other officials who had supported the project would now block the development by the U.S. branch of Fufeng Group Ltd., 546 -1.62%decrease; red down pointing triangle which still owns the 370 acres of land. Fufeng didn’t respond to a request for comment on what steps it may take.
Bomb shelters across Russia are undergoing systematic inspections and repairs following a Kremlin order to upgrade the country’s crumbling Soviet-era infrastructure, according to current and former officials who spoke to The Moscow Times.
Many of Russia’s thousands of bunkers, reinforced cellars and other safe hideouts have been mothballed for decades. But as the war in Ukraine drags on, local authorities appear to be spending hundreds of millions of rubles to again make them fit for habitation.
“A decision to inspect the network of bomb shelters was made by the government in the spring,” said one Russian official, citing knowledge of government meetings that have taken place on the subject.
New details have been revealed through recently unsealed Cook County court documents, showing how federal investigators in 2020 gained access to encrypted Telegram messages to uncover “a cross-country network of people sexually exploiting children.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents based in Arizona launched “Operation Swipe Left” in 2020 to investigate claims of kidnapping, livestreaming child abuse, and production and distribution of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). That investigation led to criminal charges filed against at least 17 people. The majority of defendants were living in Arizona, but others charged were residents of Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, California, and South Africa. Ten children were rescued, including four children actively suffering abuse at the time of the rescue. The youngest victim identified was 6 months old, and the oldest was 17 years old.
Telegram became a preferred tool for defendants in this investigation, many of whom believed that police could never access their encrypted messages. At least one federal prosecutor told a judge that authorities never would have gained access; however, one of the defendants, Adam Hageman, “fully cooperated” with investigators and granted access through his account to offending Telegram groups.
Searching Google for downloads of popular software has always come with risks, but over the past few months, it has been downright dangerous, according to researchers and a pseudorandom collection of queries.
“Threat researchers are used to seeing a moderate flow of malvertising via Google Ads,” volunteers at Spamhaus wrote on Thursday. “However, over the past few days, researchers have witnessed a massive spike affecting numerous famous brands, with multiple malware being utilized. This is not ‘the norm.’”
One of many new threats: MalVirt
The surge is coming from numerous malware families, including AuroraStealer, IcedID, Meta Stealer, RedLine Stealer, Vidar, Formbook, and XLoader. In the past, these families typically relied on phishing and malicious spam that attached Microsoft Word documents with booby-trapped macros. Over the past month, Google Ads has become the go-to place for criminals to spread their malicious wares that are disguised as legitimate downloads by impersonating brands such as Adobe Reader, Gimp, Microsoft Teams, OBS, Slack, Tor, and Thunderbird.
On the same day that Spamhaus published its report, researchers from security firm Sentinel One documented an advanced Google malvertising campaign pushing multiple malicious loaders implemented in .NET. Sentinel One has dubbed these loaders MalVirt. At the moment, the MalVirt loaders are being used to distribute malware most commonly known as XLoader, available for both Windows and macOS. XLoader is a successor to malware also known as Formbook. Threat actors use XLoader to steal contacts' data and other sensitive information from infected devices.