There is a lot happening in the world today, and so much of it is just plain bad. Gaza, Ukraine, West African Ebola – none of this is good news. But there are some smaller stories that are bubbling up that are worth taking a look at. Some of them are from territory we’ve covered before. But I’d hate to have this get lost in the shuffle. Welcome to a Barataria roundup of some smaller stories that may be missed in the big (bad) news of the day. They are the little stories stuck inside the big ones, trapped like Matryoshka nesting dolls.
The first one follows on the heels of the Target credit card hacking last December. Based on how slow they were to realize the problem, and then even slower at diagnosing what happened, it seemed reasonable to assume that the entire credit card system of the US is insecure. Well, it turns out to be a bit worse than that.
The Bratva, sometimes known as “Russian Mafia”, has 1.2 billion usernames and passwords that were hacked by unknown means. From this, we can assume that nothing is secure on the internet – including online banking, etc, that may have been done from a machine secured by these paswords. In other words, the Bratva apparently owns the internet.
My advice? Make sure that there is no connection anywhere between your social security number, date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name. You won’t find any of my info like that here, on facebook, or even in my inbox should you hack it. You’ve all been warned. Nothing is safe.
In another story just behind the big stories of the news, we have to turn to the Israeli action in Gaza. No matter how deplorable the slaughter has been we all have to admit that Hamas started this with rocket attacks on Jerusalem. Why on earth would they do this?
Given that all politics is local, this has been all about internal divisions within Hamas. Life in Gaza is brutal enough on an ordinary day, even before this war started, but Hamas’ rule has been chaotic at best. They have been losing their grip for a long time, and have very little backing in Egypt or anywhere else in the Arab world. The video commentaries here are very eye opening.
Years of negotiations didn’t produce a unity government with Fatah, which controls the West Bank, until it appeared desperate. Hamas leaders were forced to do something rather than simply let go as their grip on power faltered. That included, at the insistence of Fatah, recognition of Israel. Hamas said yes, moved ahead with the plan, and then was confronted by their own military wing which refused to go along. It was going to split Hamas wide open.
What can you do in a situation like this? Start a diversion, of course. The cycle of revenge killings after three Israeli teens were murdered was excuse enough, and Hamas was off firing rockets. Unity was achieved because, after all, in a war anything less would be treason.
What remains to be seen is what happens when the shooting stops. We should all note that Hamas has not been eager for a cease-fire and appears to be interested in shooting rockets until they have none left. If that is the case, the vacuum about to be formed will be intense. Watch for the real battle inside Gaza in about 2 months.
The last story takes us back to Ukraine and the Russian rebels in the East, which Barataria recently labeled little more than “Wackos with Guns”. The problem has been that they tend to flee when a real firefight erupts, which is why Ukrainian army has been able to make slow and steady progress despite not being particularly well armed themselves.
It turns out that the people pressed into service are being whipped into shape in a big hurry by the real wackos with guns – the leaders of the rebellion. Those who fled Sloviansk were executed in order to make an example of them. It’s a lesson learned at Stalingrad, where the Russian soldiers were told in stark terms that they could die as heroes fighting the Nazis or die as cowards if they ran away. This tells me that the rebellion will fall apart quickly once the Ukrainian army gains a big victory, such as the taking of Donetsk. Give this a month, maybe a little more if Donetsk holds.
These are the three stories nested inside the big stories. They tell us where some big stories might be going. Do you have any other tidbits that struck you as equally interesting?