Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Gleaner story leaves family one step closer to a house

Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator

Twenty-eight-year-old Denise Chito is finally seeing a light at the end of the dark tunnel she has been journeying through all her life.

Chito is now one step closer to realising her dream of acquiring a comfortable house for her family after she was given a plot of land to lease.

Now, the resourceful mother is working on the structure and some furnishings to make her dream come true.

Badly disfigured since she was 17 – after she was chopped all over her body within inches of her life by a man during a fit of jealous rage – life has been a constant struggle for the determined woman.

In December last year, The Gleaner highlighted her plight and need for a comfortable, secure dwelling for herself and her family.

For too long, Denise, her three daughters – Faith, 2, Dejeanai, 5, and Deneisa, 7 – and common-law husband, Raymond Campbell, have been forced to survive in a small one-room house in Kingston, all sleeping together on one bed.

The extreme discomfort and squalor of the dwelling has been very depressing for the family.

Now, just over three months since her story was published, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing has leased her a plot of land in West Albion, St Thomas, at $3,335 per month.

Denise has already paid down three months’ lease and the required fees and will soon finally hold the lease agreement in her hands.

“I feel good about it. I feel really good about it. Now I can see I’m making headway,” she said.

“My older daughter say, ‘Mommy, me can’t wait to move’.”

She said the housing ministry also told her it would be making an application to Food For The Poor to assist in getting a house for them.

Never allowing her disability to interfere with her determination to be self-sufficient, Chito has been earning a living by selling snacks at her gate, while Campbell does the occasional contract work.

With their hearts full of hope, the family is encouraged that it won’t be long before they will finally move into their comfortable dream home.

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Timothy Thomas: Why China Is Reading Your Email
Beijing’s cyber attacks are rooted in military strategy, says one of America’s foremost experts. The best way to combat them is for the U.S. to go on the cyber offensive too.

Timothy L. Thomas By DAVID FEITH

Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

For several years, Washington has treated China as the Lord Voldemort of geopolitics—the foe who must not be named, lest all economic and diplomatic hell break loose. That policy seemed to be ending in recent weeks, and Timothy Thomas thinks it’s about time.

The clearest sign of change came in a March 11 speech by Tom Donilon, President Obama’s national security adviser, who condemned “cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale” and declared that “the international community cannot tolerate such activity from any country.” Chinese cyber aggression poses risks “to international trade, to the reputation of Chinese industry and to our overall relations,” Mr. Donilon said, and Beijing must stop it.

“Why did we wait so long?” wonders Mr. Thomas as we sit in the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office, where the 64-year-old retired lieutenant colonel has studied Chinese cyber strategy for two decades. More than enough evidence accumulated long ago, he says, for the U.S. to say to Beijing and its denials of responsibility, “Folks, you don’t have a leg to stand on, sorry.”

U.S. targets of suspected Chinese cyber attacks include news organizations (this newspaper, the New York Times, Bloomberg), tech firms (Google, GOOG -1.06% Adobe, ADBE +2.00% Yahoo YHOO -0.26% ), multinationals (Coca-Cola, KO +0.55% Dow Chemical DOW +0.19% ), defense contractors (Lockheed Martin, LMT +2.17% Northrop Grumman NOC +0.36% ), federal departments (Homeland Security, State, Energy, Commerce), senior officials (Hillary Clinton, Adm. Mike Mullen), nuclear-weapons labs (Los Alamos, Oak Ridge) and just about every other node of American commerce, infrastructure or authority. Identities of confidential sources, hide-outs of human-rights dissidents, negotiation strategies of major corporations, classified avionics of the F-35 fighter jet, the ins and outs of America’s power grid: Hackers probe for all this, extracting secrets and possibly laying groundwork for acts of sabotage.

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Ken Fallin
Timothy Thomas

China’s aggression has so far persisted, Mr. Thomas says, because “it makes perfect sense to them.” The U.S. has difficulty defending its cyber systems, the relatively new realm of cyber isn’t subject to international norms, and years of intrusions have provoked little American response. “I think they’re willing to take the risk right now because they believe that we can’t do anything to them,” he says. “You have to change the playing field for them, and if you don’t, they’re not going to change. They’re going to continue to rip off every bit of information they can.”

Hence the promise of Washington’s apparent shift in policy. “There’s something going on,” Mr. Thomas says, and the Donilon speech was only one part. This month’s more significant news, he argues, was the announcement that the U.S. military’s Cyber Command (founded in 2009) would for the first time develop and field 13 offensive cyber-warfare teams. The Chinese “now know we are ready to go on the offense. There’s something that’s been put in place that I think is going to change their view.”

Not that he expects Beijing to back down lightly. On the contrary, Mr. Thomas points to the literature of the People’s Liberation Army to demonstrate that China’s cyber strategy has deep—even ancient—roots.

The essence of China’s thinking about cyber warfare is the concept of shi, he says, first introduced in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” about 2,500 years ago. The concept’s English translation is debated, but Mr. Thomas subscribes to the rendering of Chinese Gen. Tao Hanzhang, who defines shi as “the strategically advantageous posture before a battle.”

“When I do reconnaissance activities of your [cyber] system,” Mr. Thomas explains of China’s thinking, “I’m looking for your vulnerabilities. I’m establishing a strategic advantage that enables me to ‘win victory before the first battle’ “—another classic concept, this one from the “36 Stratagems” of Chinese lore. “I’ve established the playing field. I have ‘prepped the battlefield,’ to put it in the U.S. lexicon.”

Or, as Chinese Gen. Dai Qingmin wrote in his 2002 book, “Direct Information Warfare”: “Computer network reconnaissance is the prerequisite for seizing victory in warfare. It helps to choose opportune moments, places and measures for attack.” Says Mr. Thomas: “He’s telling you right there—10 years ago—that if we’re going to win, we have to do recon.”

A 1999 book by two Chinese colonels put it more aggressively (albeit in a sentence as verbose as it is apocalyptic): “If the attacking side secretly musters large amounts of capital without the enemy nations being aware of this at all and launches a sneak attack against its financial markets,” wrote Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, “then, after causing a financial crisis, buries a computer virus and hacker detachment in the opponent’s computer system in advance, while at the same time carrying out a network attack against the enemy so that the civilian electricity network, traffic dispatching network, financial transaction network, telephone communications network, and mass media network are completely paralyzed, this will cause the enemy nation to fall into social panic, street riots, and a political crisis.” No kidding.

This vision from 1999 reads like an outline of the report published last month by Mandiant, a private-security firm, about “Unit 61398,” a Shanghai-based Chinese military team that since 2006 has mounted cyber assaults to steal terabytes of codes and other information from U.S. assets. Among the targets of Unit 61398 was Telvent Canada, which provides remote-access software for more than 60% of the oil and gas pipelines in North America and Latin America.

Unit 61398 is said to engage in “spearphishing,” whereby would-be cyber intruders send emails with links and attachments that, if clicked, install malware on target computers. Lesser hackers might spearphish while posing as Nigerian princes, but Unit 61398 developed sophisticated ways, including colloquial language, to mimic corporate and governmental interoffice emails.

Spearphishing, too, draws on traditional Chinese stratagems: “The Chinese strive to impel opponents to follow a line of reasoning that they (the Chinese) craft,” Mr. Thomas wrote in 2007. With this kind of asymmetric approach, he says, “anybody can become an unsuspecting accomplice.”

In this context Mr. Thomas mentions a cartoon published last year in Army magazine in which one Chinese general says to another: “To hell with ‘The Art of War,’ I say we hack into their infrastructure.” Good for a chuckle, perhaps, but Mr. Thomas warns against taking the message seriously. China’s hacking is in fact “a manifestation of ‘The Art of War,’ ” he says, and if the U.S. military doesn’t realize that, it “can make mistakes. . . . You have to stay with their line of thought if you’re going to try to think like them.”

“Boy,” he later laments, “we need a lot more Chinese speakers in this country”—a point underscored by the fact that he isn’t one himself. He reads Chinese military texts in translation, some published by the U.S. government’s Open Source Center and some he has found himself. He stumbled upon Gen. Dai’s “Direct Information Warfare” on a trip several years ago to Shanghai, when an associate led him (and an interpreter) to an unmarked military bookstore on the top floor of a building on the outskirts of town. “I could tell when I walked in that the people behind the cash register were stunned I was there,” he recalls. In public bookstores, he says, material addressing Chinese national security is often marked “not for foreign sale” on the inside cover.

The Ohio native does speak Russian, having focused most of his military service (from West Point graduation in 1973 until 1993) on the Soviet Union. That language skill still comes in handy, and not just because Russia is suspected of having carried out cyber assaults against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008.

Look at the Mandiant report’s map of Chinese cyber intrusions (at least those tied to Unit 61398): Russia is untouched. “That’s a huge area. . . . I really would wonder why they’re after South Africa, the U.A.E. and Singapore but not Russia. And Luxembourg. They went after Luxembourg but not Russia?” Together with Iran, he argues, China and Russia make up “not the axis of evil but the axis of cyber.”

So what is to be done? Security firms are working to harden networks against hackers, and members of Congress are promoting legislation to let the government work more closely with Internet service providers without opening up the companies to lawsuits or infringing on civil liberties. Washington could challenge Chinese cyber espionage with targeted economic sanctions. Meanwhile, there is much talk about establishing international standards for cyber space, but it is unclear what that would mean—which probably explains why top officials in Washington and Beijing have both endorsed the idea.

None of this seems promising to Mr. Thomas, who stresses building deterrence through offensive capabilities, such as the 13 new teams at U.S. Cyber Command. The implication is that the best defense is a good offense.

And doesn’t that suggest, in turn, that the U.S. and China are headed toward a dynamic of mutually assured cyber destruction? “It seems like it,” he says.

It’s heartening to hear, then, that Chinese military literature isn’t uniformly aggressive toward America. This includes writings about the “China Dream,” which posits that China will overtake the U.S. economically and militarily by midcentury—and which has been adopted as the signature cause of new President Xi Jinping.

“They give you both versions,” says Mr. Thomas. “They give you a model that says, ‘There will be no way we’ll ever fight [the U.S.], we’ll work on cooperation.’ A chapter later, ‘There could be a time where if pushed hard enough, we’ll have to do something and there will be a battle.’ ”

But what about the argument that the U.S. is shedding crocodile tears? America (and Israel) were almost certainly behind the most successful known cyber attack to date: the Stuxnet virus that impeded Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. There might be some comfort in knowing that the U.S. is doing unto China what China is doing unto the U.S., says Mr. Thomas, but “we don’t seem as intrusive as the other side.” That is illustrated especially, he says, by China’s state-sponsored commercial espionage. He frequently hears complaints from U.S. firms dealing with Chinese counterparts who know their secrets, adding that “I don’t think people really get the security briefing of just how invasive it is.”

Then there’s the argument that all this is overblown because no cyber attack has ever killed anyone. Mr. Thomas responds, somewhat impatiently: “If I had access to your bank account, would you worry? If I had access to your home security system, would you worry? If I have access to the pipes coming into your house? Not just your security system but your gas, your electric—and you’re the Pentagon?”

He adds: “Maybe nobody’s been killed yet, but I don’t want you having the ability to hold me hostage. I don’t want that. I don’t want you to be able to blackmail me at any point in time that you want.” He cites the Chinese colonels’ vision, back in 1999, of “social panic” and “street riots.” “I wonder what would happen if none of us could withdraw money out of our banks. I watched the Russians when the crash came and they stood in line and . . . they had nothing.”

Mr. Feith is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.

A version of this article appeared March 30, 2013, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Why China Is Reading Your Email.



Hamilton’s penniless millionaire

Barry Gray/The Hamilton Spectator
A porttrait of Sharon Tirabassi, who won more than $10 million in the lottery in 2004. She now rides the Barton Street bus to work, a part-time job to support her kids in a rented house in northeast Hamilton.
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The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. does not have a system for following up with winners. There is also no requirement for winners to work with a financial adviser.

“There’d be no way for us to make that requirement of winners … people are adults and need to be able to make their own decisions,” said spokesperson Don Pister.

He said it is “quite, quite rare, thankfully” that winners blow through their funds so quickly, although without a system to check in, it is impossible to know.

“We do remind people it’s their money. It can be difficult, but there is a need to say no,” Pister said.

Nine years after cashing her $10,569,000.10 cheque, lotto winner Sharon Tirabassi is catching the Barton Street bus to her part-time job. She’s working to support her kids in their rented house in northeast Hamilton.

Tirabassi, 35 — one of this city’s biggest lotto winners — has gone from rolling in dough to living pay cheque to pay cheque.

The Lotto Super Seven payout didn’t come with a financial adviser and before she knew it — big house, fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties, exotic trips, handouts to family, loans to friends — the money was gone.

“You don’t think it’ll go (at the time), right?” she says.

She’d check her account now and again, but there were always so many zeroes that she figured it was fine — until one day there was just three quarters of a million left.

“And that was time for fun to stop and to just go back to life,” she says.

She’s happier today. Says life has more purpose now than when she was shopping.

She’s working part-time as a personal support worker and raising her six kids in a rented downtown house off Barton and Sherman.

Her husband, Vinny, also 35, has another three kids from a previous relationship.

Asked about how life turned out for them, Vinny shrugs, smoking a cigarette in the doorway of their rented home.

“I lived like this my whole life, I never was rich,” he says. “We grew up like this, so we’re used to it.”

Pretty much all that’s left now is in trust for her kids when they turn 26 — her children will be OK, and that’s what’s important to her.

“The moment I got it, I divided it among my family … all of that other stuff was fun in the beginning, now it’s like … back to life,” she says.

RELATED: The Hamilton Millionaires’ Club

Before her win, Tirabassi had been living in an east Hamilton apartment with her three kids, each one from a different father.

She was Sharon Mentore then — not yet married. She had just landed a job as a personal care provider, fresh off welfare, and couldn’t afford a car.

But on Easter Weekend in April 2004, she literally hit the jackpot and won $10.5 million from a Lotto Super Seven ticket.

For someone who spent her teenage years bouncing around from shelter to shelter, she was unprepared for the millionaire lifestyle. That cheque might as well have been a money tree in the yard — it felt like cash for life.

Suddenly, life was but a dream.

She took friends on wild, all-expenses paid trips to Cancun, Florida, Las Vegas, California, the Caribbean.

She bought a house on West 5th, and she married Vinny.

In 2006, the newlyweds and blended Tirabassi family moved to a massive $515,000 home on Kitty Murray Lane in Ancaster.

Despite cashing a $10.5 million cheque just two years earlier, Tirabassi took out a $360,000 mortgage on the house.

The pair, Vinny says, owned four vehicles: a bright yellow Hummer, a Mustang, a Dodge Charger and a $200,000-plus, souped-up Cadillac Escalade — Tirabassi’s baby.

Her customized licence plate read “BABIPHAT,” after one of her favourite designer clothing lines.

Ancaster neighbours hated that Cadillac. Equipped with interior turntables and sound mixers, it blared hip-hop music in the driveway and shook their quiet suburban street.

Tirabassi didn’t like her neighbours.

“They didn’t like young people,” she says.

Besides the extravagant vehicles, a lot of the cash went to family and friends.

Too much, she admits now.

She gave her parents $1 million.

Another $1.75 million was divided among her four siblings.

She bought several houses in the city, renting them out at affordable rates to families. She said she paid people’s rent. Lent money to help out a friend when her husband went to jail. Helped another two friends start up a business in Toronto.

A lot of friends came out of the woodwork when news broke of her win — and a lot of them she never heard from again.

“Money is the root of all evil,” she says, shaking her head.

Vinny agrees.

“Friends that she hadn’t talked to in a long time came calling.”

“Money doesn’t buy you happiness. It caused her a lot of headaches,” he says.

“She lost a lot of friends, a lot of family.”

By 2007, according to a Spectator interview at the time, Tirabassi had already blown through half of her winnings, and was living off interest from investments on the other $5 million.

Also that year, Vinny crashed the Mustang.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of driving impaired and causing bodily harm. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail plus two years’ probation. And his licence was revoked for five years.

He would serve time again in 2011 after breaching his conditions and driving with a disqualified licence.

In 2008, while he was in jail, the Tirabassis lost the Ancaster house.

From there, they moved to Hagersville, then out west to Edmonton once Vinny was out of jail.

They moved around a lot and today, Hamilton’s penniless millionaires are back downtown, living in a rented house on a quiet industrial street — not far from where she started.

It’s modest, the walls covered in family photos and the odd relic from their flashier days — Michael Jackson memorabilia for her, Maple Leafs memorabilia for him.

They have two cats and a rabbit named Princess.

The Tirabassis are worried about people knowing where they live now. Their win didn’t make them a lot of friends, and they’re worried about being robbed.

“A lot of people do still think she has lots of money,” Vinny said.

Between the two of them, there are nine kids. Three each from previous relationships, and three more together.

The Dodge Charger and the Hummer are nowhere in sight on their new street. She drives a hot pink electric bike these days, when she’s not taking the bus.

The Cadillac’s in storage; it needs work done that she can’t afford right now.

A lot of friends are gone too.

People took advantage of them, didn’t pay them back when they loaned them money.

“(They said) ‘they’ve got enough so they’re OK, right?’” Vinny said.

Hamilton resident Gayle Zolaturiuk accepted a $30-million cheque from the OLG last week, and local convenience store owner Myungsu You is waiting to collect his $16.1 million on March 22.

If the Tirabassis can give Zolaturiuk and You one piece of advice as they collect their wins, it’s to be wary of whom you share it with.

“Try to keep it to yourself. Keep it to yourself and don’t trust anybody but family,” Tirabassi says.

But as she heads to work in her scrubs Wednesday, she says she couldn’t help giving so much away.

“That’s the way I was brought up. Help those who can’t help themselves,” she says with a shrug.

Rather than mourn the millions, she’s concentrating now on raising her kids with those same family values.

“I’m trying to get them to learn that they have to work for money,” Tirabassi says.

“Every so often they ask for money and I say I don’t have any money till payday. You have to wait ’til payday.”


Residents of Lambe area of Ogun state have received an audacious letter from some fearless robbers urging them to give them a welcoming hospitality when they attack their community in the coming days.
The daredevil men of the underworld who described themselves as friends of the community said in the letter written in Yoruba language and pasted conspicuously on many walls on Akin Akindele, Community Road and Jelili Popoola Streets, that they are coming ‘very soon’ and are not afraid of the police or other security agencies.The letter reads, “You residents of this area be prepared to receive your friends very soon. If you like, inform the police or your security men or OPC, you will just lose your lives. What is important is to cooperate with us and to get ready to give us a warm welcome,” the robbers said in the short letter.
“If you like, inform the police or your security men or OPC, you will just lose your lives,” they warned.
The letter ends with these words, “We your friends, robbers”.
Panic and confusion had since enveloped the community with a resident describing Lambe as ‘the playground of armed robbers.’
“Lambe has become the play ground of armed robbers. Incessant robbery attacks have forcedlandlords to flee the area and are now tenants in other places,” he said, pleading that his name should not be mentioned.
Landlords and tenants in the area are so confused that they do not know what to do and are prepared for the worst. Due to fear of the unknown, residents of the community are so scared to talk about the issue.
A resident, who does not want his name disclosed, said he will not inform the police as there might be mass killings.
“Besides, the police and the OPC cannot be trusted because they may be aware of their coming and will not do anything,” he said.
A female resident said her family will relocate from the community this week. She said her family needs money to celebrate Easter, explaining that the residents are worried because of the lack of security in the country.
She revealed that none of the residents wants to talk about it because “the robbers might be living among us.”“ I have warned my husband to stay away from this matter because you do not know who is who in the area, “she said.
Another resident in the community said since they received the letter, most residents do not sleep again at night and the landlords and tenants are afraid to even inform the police or talk about it because those behind the letters could be among them.
According to information made available to DailyPost, one of suspects behind the impudent letterswas arrested in the night at about 1.00 am and handed over to the police at Ajunwo Police Division.
However, efforts to reach the station’s DPO were futile as his phone rang endlessly unanswered.



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