Putin seeks to defuse downing of Russian plane off Syria
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
Wednesday, September 19
MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by Syrian forces responding to an Israeli airstrike, killing all 15 people aboard, in what President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday was “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”
The downing of the Il-20 highlighted the dangers posed by the conflicting interests of various powers in the crowded skies over Syria and threatened the close security ties between Russia and Israel.
In an effort to maintain that relationship, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly called Putin to express sorrow over the death of the plane’s crew, blamed the plane’s loss squarely on Syria and offered to send Israel’s air force chief to Moscow to share information about the incident.
The Russian military said the plane was hit 35 kilometers (22 miles) offshore late Monday night as it was returning to the Russian air base in Syria.
The incident triggered testy exchanges of blame between Israel and Russia.
The Israeli military said its fighter jets were targeting a Syrian military facility involved in providing weapons for Iran’s proxy Hezbollah militia, noting that it warned Russia of the coming raid in line with de-confliction agreements. It said the Syrian army launched the missiles that hit the plane when the Israeli jets were already inside Israeli airspace.
But the Russian Defense Ministry said the Israeli warning came less than a minute before the strike, leaving the Russian aircraft in the line of fire. It pointedly accused the Israeli military of deliberately using the Russian plane as a cover to dodge the Syrian defenses and threatened to retaliate.
“The Israeli pilots were using the Russian aircraft as a shield and pushed it into the line of fire of the Syrian air defense,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, to declare that “the Israeli side bears full responsibility” for the plane’s downing and to warn that Russia “reserves the right to retaliate.”
But Putin took a more cautious tone, describing the incident as “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances.” At the same time, he said Russia will respond by “taking additional steps to protect our servicemen and assets in Syria.”
“It will be the steps that everyone will notice,” he said without elaboration.
Netanyahu, who has maintained warm personal ties with Putin and frequently traveled to Russia for Syria-focused talks, noted the need for Russia and Israel to continue coordinating their action in Syria. At the same time, he emphasized Israel would not tolerate the Iranian military presence in Syria.
Putin told Netanyahu that the Israeli raid violated Syria’s sovereignty and breached the Russian-Israeli de-confliction agreement. He urged the Israeli side “not to allow such situations to happen again,” according to the Kremlin.
Israel has refrained from taking sides in the Syrian civil war, but it has carried out scores of airstrikes against archenemy Iran and its Shiite proxy Hezbollah.
Israel has acknowledged attacking Iranian targets some 200 times, and Israel and Russia have maintained a hotline to prevent clashes between their forces in Syria. Israeli military officials have previously praised its effectiveness.
“Until now, Russia’s armed forces have granted Israeli jets the freedom to strike targets in Syria at will, on the condition that a sufficiently early warning is provided to Russia,” said Charles Lister, a Syria expert with the Washington-based Middle East Institute. “The glue binding this gentleman’s agreement — the Putin-Netanyahu personal relationship — will likely tide this issue over for the time being.”
Moscow has played a delicate diplomatic game of maintaining friendly relations with both Israel and Iran. In July, Moscow said that it struck a deal with Tehran to keep its fighters 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the Golan Heights to accommodate Israeli security concerns.
In response to Israeli worries, Russia also has shelved plans to arm Syria with sophisticated air defense assets, such as the long-range S-300 systems that could pose a significant threat to Israeli aircraft.
The downing of the plane could change that.
Sima Shine, a former senior Mossad official and ex-deputy director-general at Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, told Israel Army Radio that the incident could have “strategic implications” for Israel’s freedom of action in Syria.
“I think it will impose very serious restriction on Israel’s freedom of activity,” she said.
Some Russian lawmakers and retired military officers called for a forceful response, saying Russia should provide Syria with the S-300 air defense systems and other sophisticated weapons to prevent any further strikes.
Shoigu, the defense minister, warned his Israeli counterpart that “we won’t leave such action without response.”
Russia’s dramatic entry into the Syrian civil war in September 2015 to support Syrian President Bashar Assad after a year of airstrikes by the U.S. and its allies against the Islamic State group increased the possibility of dangerous confrontations over Syria.
The downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish jet in November 2015 put Moscow and Ankara on the verge of military confrontation, but they later negotiated a series of de-escalation agreements for Syria together with Iran.
“The implementation of de-escalation across Syria a year ago introduced a new reality to Syria, in which foreign states are now actively competing to assert their own influence over overlapping territorial space,” Lister said. “Though appropriate measures have been put in place to manage this, the risk of state-on-state conflagrations like we saw overnight has never been higher. With a meaningful political settlement in Syria an increasingly far-fetched objective, this could well be the new reality we live with for years to come.”
The U.S. also expressed sorrow over the Russian deaths, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying it was a reminder of the need to find “permanent, peaceful, and political resolutions to the many overlapping conflicts in the region and the danger of tragic miscalculation in Syria’s crowded theater of operations.”
President Donald Trump, appearing at a White House news conference with Poland’s president, called it a “very sad thing” and said it was “not a good situation.”
But Trump also said that the United States has done a “tremendous job” battling the Islamic State group in Syria. He went on to suggest that the nation’s mission there was “very close to being finished.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the shootdown complicates relations between Assad and the Russian government but has “no effect whatever” on the U.S. campaign to defeat Islamic State fighters in Syria.
Before the latest incident, Russia had lost at least seven warplanes and seven combat helicopters in Syria and also had seen dozens of troops killed in ground combat.
And there have been other Syria-related deaths of Russians.
A Russian passenger plane carrying tourists from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort crashed over the Sinai in October 2015, killing all 224 people aboard. The Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State group said it blew up the plane with a bomb smuggled on board.
And in December 2016, a passenger jet carrying members of the Red Army Choir to a New Year’s concert at a Russian military base in Syria crashed in the Black Sea minutes after takeoff from Sochi in southern Russia, killing all 92 people aboard. The investigation of that crash is continuing, but officials have indicated that pilot error was the likely cause.
Associated Press writers Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow, Josef Federman and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem, Sarah El Deeb and Bassem Mroue in Beirut, and Jonathan Lemire in Washington, contributed to this report.
A previous version of this story has been corrected to say the plane came down late Monday, not early Tuesday.
With USB-C, even plugging in can set you up to be hacked
Assistant Professor of Computer Science, North Dakota State University
Disclosure statement: Jeremy Straub is the associate director of the NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research and an editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cybersecurity and Privacy. He has received funding related to cybersecurity from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. National Security Agency and the North Dakota State University. The views presented are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of NDSU or funding agencies.
Plugging in the power – or at least what you think is power – to a USB-C powered laptop can connect your computer, and the valuable personal data on it, directly to hackers. Your personal financial information, passwords and documents stored on the laptop could help a cybercriminal steal your identity. The laptop may even be used to attack your employer’s computers and network.
The European Union is already moving to require all smartphones be compatible with USB-C power adapters – itself a move that endangers users’ privacy. If the EU made a similar standard for laptop computers, it would threaten to make the problem worse, by increasing the number of people vulnerable to what is basically the digital equivalent of pick-pocketing.
From mobile phones to laptops
Mobile phones have been hackers’ targets for years. Phones that are left behind or stolen can contain sensitive personal data that can let a criminal open a new bank account or take out a loan.
However, a far more insidious way to get the data is to simply connect to the phone and steal everything it holds. As the phone is not lost, the user may be unaware that anything is wrong. Attackers try to get access to mobile phones via their internet connections and local wireless connection technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
But some attackers are finding a weakness in phone charging. Many newer phones use the same port – one of several types of USB – for both connecting to a computer and charging. A charger could be modified to attack your phone via that trusted connection. This has led some researchers to recommend never using public USB chargers for your smartphone.
Older mobile phones, including some smartphones, that used power-only connections didn’t have to worry about this issue. Users of these devices can plug in to public multi-device charging stations without worry, as there is no connection to the device’s data. For those with combined data and power ports, however, the same port that many people only use to power their phone is commonly used by hackers and even law enforcement to access the data on it.
Laptops can now be attacked by USB power ports
Until recently, laptop computers had enjoyed some protection, with most having a dedicated power port to connect their chargers to. Other purpose-specific ports allowed connections to desktop monitors, conference room projectors and other devices, without need for concern. USB-C changed this, with one high-speed port now able to provide and receive power, send video signals to projectors and monitors, and connect to USB thumb drives and numerous other peripheral devices.
Most of the time, this is extremely convenient, reducing the number of different ports needed on today’s lightweight and compact laptops. However, it also allows criminals to attack the computer of an unsuspecting user who is just trying to charge the device’s battery.
Some laptops have only USB-C ports, which are used to power and charge the laptop and for data communications. By using a data interface for charging, chargers can be used to attack the laptop. weberjake/Shutterstock.com
With the European Union potentially requiring phone makers to standardize on USB-C chargers to reduce waste and provide consumer flexibility, similar rules for laptops may not be far behind. In any case, people with laptops powered by USB-C and those who connect to USB-C screens and projectors in public areas need to be vigilant.
Compared to a mobile phone, laptops may contain far more data. Some laptop users may not have these files backed up to other locations, which makes them vulnerable to deletion or even encryption for a ransom payment. Hacked laptops can also serve as a method to get viruses and other malware into sensitive business or government facilities, bypassing firewalls, intrusion detection systems and other network security mechanisms. In short, they may be much more attractive targets to hackers.
Prevent problems by not plugging in
As someone who researches and teaches courses related to cybersecurity, I follow numerous reports of scam websites, all manner of fraudulent callers and electronically distributed viruses – all trying to steal personal information.
Alleged overseas hackers, like Lauri Love, who is accused of hacking the U.S. military, rarely stand trial in U.S. courts. Geni, CC BY-SA
Criminals run these scams from the other side of the world, making them hard to track down and bring to justice. While there is little you can do to prevent your data from being released by large-scale hacks of personal data like the Equifax breach, you can reduce your risk of power-connection hacking.
USB-C laptop users should not plug in to airport, hotel or other public USB ports without protection. Charge-only adapters, portable USB batteries and cables that can shield the data connection are possible solutions. At present, in most cases, it is best to just plug the laptop’s power supply into a normal wall power outlet; many public USB ports, which follow the older USB-A standard, don’t yet provide enough power to run and charge a laptop anyway.
When connecting to other devices, check for signs of tampering, such as missing screws, scuffing and other wear – particularly around screw holes and edges. When projecting for others, use your own USB-C to VGA or HDMI converter and connecting to these ports.
Over time, the computer industry may be able to create tamper-evident USB devices and other ways of protecting USB users, like ATM manufacturers have tried to do. Until then, USB-C users need to protect themselves by not connecting to public, insecure and other potentially compromised or suspicious USB ports. Information technology managers face a tougher battle and may try to avoid USB-C powered devices or train users to use them safely.
Whose Live Anyway? Improv Comedy Show Returns to Columbus October 30
Whose Live Anyway? is 90 minutes of hilarious, improvised comedy and song created on the spot by cast members Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray through suggestions from the audience. The live show features some of the improv games made famous on the long-running, Emmy-nominated TV show as well as some exciting new ones.
CAPA presents Whose Live Anyway? at the Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.) on Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $40.50-$70.50 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. All ages welcome.
About Ryan Stiles
Ryan Stiles has starred in all three incarnations of “Whose Line”—the British version (1989-98); the American version hosted by Drew Carey (1998-2006); and the current version hosted by Aisha Tyler. He also executive produced both American versions. In addition, Stiles also portrayed Lewis, the luckless janitor, on the hit sit-com “The Drew Carey Show” and recurred for several seasons as Dr. Herb Melnick on the popular series “Two and a Half Men.” His film work includes Hot Shots, Hot Shots, Part Deux, and the Academy Award-nominated short film Rainbow War. He recently produced a feature-length documentary called Out of Nothing, about four men competing to break the motorcycle land-speed record on the salt flats of Bonneville.
About Greg Proops
Best known for his unpredictable appearances on both the US and UK versions of “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” Proops has a hit Podcast called “The Smartest Man in the World” (Proopcast.com) which he records live in Australia, New Zealand, Montreal, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Austin, London, Paris, the Caribbean, and Cleveland. His new book, The Smartest Book in the World, is based on the podcast. Proops has done voice work for Hell and Back, Star Wars the Phantom Menace, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and he really was Bob the Builder.
About Jeff B. Davis
Born and bred in Southern California, Jeff B. Davis has a long list of TV credits, including Steven Martin’s NBC comedy “The Downer Channel,” WB’s “On the Spot,” NBC’s “Happy Family,” “The Sarah Silverman Show,” Drew Carey’s “Green Screen Show,” and “Improvaganza” to name a few. When not performing with “Whose Live Anyway?,” Davis is in Hollywood trying to break George Clooney’s record of “most failed television pilots.” He is currently a recurring guest on CW’s reboot of “Whose Line is it, Anyway?,” and can be heard on the highly acclaimed, deeply weird “Harmontown” podcast with NBC’s Community creator Dan Harmon.
About Joel Murray
Writer/director/actor Joel Murray is a veteran of more than 250 sit-com episodes. He has been a series regular on the comedies “Grand,” “Pacific Station,” “Love and War,” “Dharma and Greg,” and “Still Standing.” He has also recurred on the series “Mike and Molly,” “My Boys,” and “Two and a Half Men.” On the dramatic side, Murray played Freddy Rumsen on AMC’s “Mad Men,” as well as Eddie Jackson on Showtime’s “Shameless.” Murray recently starred in Bobcat Goldthwait’s dark comedy, God Bless America. He can be heard playing Don Carlton in the Pixar prequel, Monsters University. He was also in 2011’s Best Picture, The Artist. He has been in numerous films including One Crazy Summer, Scrooged, Long Gone, Hatchet, Lay the Favorite, Sophie and the Rising Sun, Mr. Pig, Bloodsucking Bastards, Lamb, Seven Minutes, and The Last Word.
CAPA presents WHOSE LIVE ANYWAY?
Wednesday, October 30, 7:30 pm
Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.)
WHOSE LIVE ANYWAY? is 90 minutes of hilarious, improvised comedy and song created on the spot by cast members Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray through suggestions from the audience. So, bring your suggestions and you might be asked to join the cast onstage! WHOSE LIVE ANYWAY? showcases some of the improv games made famous on the long-running, Emmy-nominated TV show as well as some exciting new ones. All ages welcome. Tickets are $40.50-$70.50 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. www.capa.com
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, education excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. CAPA also appreciates the generous support of the Barbara B. Coons and Robert Bartels Funds of The Columbus Foundation and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), and the Shubert Theater (New Haven, CT), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment. For more information, visit www.capa.com.
Author Wil Haygood to Discuss New Book Oct. 1 at Ohio Wesleyan University
DELAWARE, Ohio – Best-selling author Wil Haygood will discuss his new book, “Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing,” during a free community event Oct. 1 at Ohio Wesleyan University. Haygood, an award-winning journalist, is best known for his book, “The Butler: A Witness to History.”
Haygood will discuss “Tigerland” at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 in the Benes Rooms of Ohio Wesleyan’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware. He will be interviewed during the 90-minute event by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gregory L. Moore, a 1976 OWU graduate and former editor of The Denver Post.
In a starred review, Kirkus describes Haygood’s newly released “Tigerland” as “a story of perseverance, courage, and breathtaking talent as he recounts, in vibrant detail, the achievements of the Tigers, a basketball and baseball team at Columbus, Ohio’s inner-city East High School. …
“The inspiring story of East High’s championship becomes even more astonishing,” Kirkus states, “in the context of endemic racism, which the author closely examines, and ‘the turmoil of a nation at war and in the midst of unrest,’ roiled by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. An engrossing tale of one shining moment in dark times.”
In its starred review, Booklist adds: “As in all his avidly read books, Haygood sets the stories of fascinating individuals within the context of freshly reclaimed and vigorously recounted African American history as he masterfully brings a high school and its community to life. This laugh-and-cry tale of rollicking and wrenching drama set to the beat of thumping basketballs and the crack of baseball bats, fast breaks and cheerleaders’ chants, is electric with tension and conviction, and incandescent with unity and hope.”
Haygood currently is a visiting distinguished professor at Miami University of Ohio. He worked as a journalist for nearly 30 years, at The Washington Post and The Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Haygood’s other books include “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America”; “Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson”; and “In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.,” recently optioned for a Hollywood film.
Haygood’s Ohio Wesleyan event is organized by the university’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, which takes the lead on providing support for students of marginalized identities, specifically students of color, LGBTQIA students, first-generation students, and low-income students. Learn more at www.owu.edu/omsa.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.