Pentagon secretly struck back against Iranian cyberspies targeting U.S. ships

I am unable to confirm, or deny, that Nitro Zeus is still in operation.
, and I can neither confirm, nor deny that Ich Bin had a very small part in it.

WASHINGTON — On Thursday evening, U.S. Cyber Command launched a retaliatory digital strike against an Iranian spy group that supported last week’s limpet mine attacks on commercial ships, according to two former intelligence officials.

The group, which has ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, has over the past several years digitally tracked and targeted military and civilian ships passing through the economically important Strait of Hormuz, through which pass 17.4 million barrels of oil per day. Those capabilities, which have advanced over time, enabled attacks on vessels in the region for several years.

Though sources declined to provide any further details of the retaliatory cyber operation, the response highlights how the Persian Gulf has become a staging ground for escalating digital — as well as conventional — conflict, with both the United States and Iran trying to get the upper hand with cyber capabilities.

The retaliatory cyber response follows several weeks of mounting tension in the region, which appeared set to boil over after last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf. U.S. officials blamed Iran for the attacks and threatened to strike back if U.S. interests in the region were harmed. Then, on Thursday, Iranians shot down a $240 million U.S. military drone.

In response, President Trump initially authorized — but then decided against — targeted military strikes on Thursday night. He said in a series of tweets Friday morning that he pulled back before any missiles were launched when he learned 150 Iranians might die.

Meanwhile, multiple private U.S. cyber intelligence firms have reported attempts by Iranian hackers in recent weeks to infiltrate American organizations. U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal they fear heightened escalations not only in physical space but in cyberspace as well.

The National Security Council declined to comment on the Iranian cyber group or the U.S. Cyber Command response. The National Security Agency, U.S. Central Command and the Navy all directed Yahoo News to U.S. Cyber Command for comment. Cyber Command did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Heather Babb, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told Yahoo News that “as a matter of policy and for operational security, we do not discuss cyberspace operations, intelligence or planning.”

Iran’s cyber capabilities are not the most sophisticated, at least compared to the United States’, but they are getting better. Tehran’s ability to gather information and unleash offensive operations have developed significantly in the last decade or so, particularly after Iranian centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant were struck by a malicious computer worm created by U.S. and Israeli intelligence and first revealed in 2010.

“After the Stuxnet event, Iran really cranked up its capability,” said Gary Brown, who served as the first senior legal counsel for U.S. Cyber Command and is currently a professor on cyber law at the National Defense University. Brown cited Iran’s cyberattacks on global financial institutions, Saudi Aramco and the Sands Casino. While unfamiliar with current activities, Brown told Yahoo News that Cyber Command has long been interested in Iranian cyber capabilities and “undoubtedly they’re continuing to track them.”

John Bolton Is Exactly What Trump’s Iran Policy Needs.

Iran has historically attacked U.S. targets with its proxies when it assesses it will not face direct military reprisals. Iran used proxy forces to lay roadside bombs during the U.S. war in Iraq, for example, because its judgment at the time was that Bush lacked the support, in Congress or with the public, to respond with a strike inside Iranian territory. (In retrospect, this assessment was correct.) When Iran believes the U.S. will use force, however, it backs off. Iran has not mined the Persian Gulf, despite occasional threats to do so, because the U.S demonstrated three decades ago that it will destroy the Iranian navy if it tries.

This is where Bolton comes in: He’s kind of a one-man psychological warfare operation. If Iran’s leaders believe Trump’s advisers are trying to constrain him, they may assess they can get away with a proxy attack on U.S. positions. If they think Trump is trying to constrain his national security adviser, they may decide not to.

Japan ends longstanding trade restrictions on American beef, setting stage for exports to grow.

Japan has agreed to lift longstanding restrictions on American beef exports, clearing the way for U.S. products to enter the market regardless of age, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday.

The news comes on the heels of other important trade developments on Friday, including the Trump administration’s plans to delay auto tariffs on the EU and Japan and lift steel tariffs on Canada and Mexico.

In 2005, Japan imposed restrictions on cattle over 30 months old for U.S. beef imports in response to the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, sometimes known as mad cow disease.

According to the USDA announcement, Japan agreed to remove that age limit for U.S. beef imports. The new terms, which take effect immediately, allow U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003, the government said.

“This is great news for American ranchers and exporters who now have full access to the Japanese market for their high-quality, safe, wholesome, and delicious U.S. beef,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies.”

American beef sales to Japan topped $2 billion last year, representing approximately one-fourth of all U.S. beef exports.

 

The world shrugs as China locks up 1 million Muslims.
“Nobody actually cares about what happens to Muslims unless it can be used to criticize the United States or Israel.”

Yep, they’re tyrant commies, but they’ve figured out that moslems are a threat and they do not put up with that.

China has detained an estimated 1 million to 2 million Uighur Muslims in the region of Xinjiang, and millions more live one step away from detention under the watchful eye of the Chinese Communist Party.

Trump administration forces China to sell the Port of Long Beach

Demoncrap President Clinton okayed the deal to sell the port to the Chinese, which was completed in 1980, giving the the Chinese commies a firm foothold on U.S. soil for the first time. With President Trump in charge, the DOJ and Homeland Security finally got their heads out of their 4th points of contact and told the Chinese to get the hell out of town.

The Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security has forced China’s state-owned Costco to sell the Port of Long Beach over security concerns.

China’s Costco Shipping Holdings, which bought out its 75 percent-owned Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas International (OOCL), was forced to sell its Port of Long Beach Container Terminal ownership to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners for $1.78 billion.

The Obama administration had no problems with OOCL signing a 40-year lease with the City of Long Beach in 2012 for control of America’s second largest and most automated container handling operation. The sweetheart deal was part of the “Middle Harbor Redevelopment Program” to fund a $1.5 billion expansion through 2020.

But one of the first major actions of the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security in March 2017 was issuing a ‘Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.’ national-security hold on Costco’s acquisition of a former U.S. Navy port facility.

China operates six of the world’s 10 busiest container ports. The Chinese government has also funded the construction and operations of 43 ports in 35 countries under its ‘One Belt and One Road’ (OBOR) initiative launched five years ago, according to China’s Ministry of Transport.

At least 15 dead as forces raid jihadist hideout in eastern Sri Lanka town

The bodies of 15 people, including six children, were discovered at the site of a fierce overnight gun battle on the east coast of Sri Lanka, a military spokesman said on Saturday, six days after suicide bombers killed more than 250 people.

The shootout between troops and suspected Islamist militants erupted on Friday evening in Sainthamaruthu in Ampara, to the south of the town of Batticaloa, site of one of the Easter Sunday blasts at three churches and four luxury hotels.
A police spokesman said that three suspected suicide bombers were among the 15 dead after the shoot out.One child caught in the crossfire was admitted to hospital.

Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said in a statement that as troops headed towards the safe house three explosions were triggered and gunfire began.

“Troops retaliated and raided the safe house where a large cache of explosives had been stored,” he said in a statement.

He said the militants were suspected members of the domestic Islamist group National Towheed Jama’at (NTJ), which has been blamed for last Sunday’s attacks.

Bomb-making materials, dozens of gelignite sticks and thousands of metal balls were found in a search of a separate house in the same area, the military said.

The government has said nine homegrown, well-educated suicide bombers carried out the Easter Sunday attacks, eight of whom had been identified. One was a woman.

Police said on Friday they were trying to track down 140 people they believe have links with the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings.

Police have detained at least 76 people, including foreigners from Syria and Egypt, in their investigations so far. Twenty were arrested in the past 24 hours alone, they said.

ARMENIAN GENOCIDE DAY,
revisiting Islam’s greatest slaughter of Christians.

Today, April 24, marks the “Great Crime,” that is, the genocide of Christians—mostly Armenians but also Assyrians—that took place under the Islamic Ottoman Empire throughout World War I.  Then, the Turks liquidated approximately 1.5 million Armenians and 300,000 Assyrians.

Most objective American historians who have studied the question unequivocally agree that it was a deliberate, calculated genocide:

More than one million Armenians perished as the result of execution, starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical abuse.  A people who lived in eastern Turkey for nearly 3,000 years [more than double the amount of time the invading Islamic Turks had occupied Anatolia, now known as “Turkey”] lost its homeland and was profoundly decimated in the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century.  At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000….  Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, eyewitness accounts, official archives, photographic evidence, the reports of diplomats, and the testimony of survivors, denial of the Armenian Genocide by successive regimes in Turkey has gone on from 1915 to the present.

Similarly, in 1920, U.S. Senate Resolution 359 heard testimony that included evidence of “[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death [which] have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages.”

In her memoir, Ravished ArmeniaAurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (consistent with Islam’s rules of war).  Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross,” she wrote, “spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.”  Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs.

China Infiltrating U.S. Education System in Propaganda Coup

The Chinese government has infiltrated nearly every sector of the U.S. education system via a package of programs and monetary schemes that seek to indoctrinate American children and bring the Communist government’s propaganda into the classroom, according to a new report by a Senate investigatory body.

The wide-ranging report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has found that China has spent nearly $200 million on educational entities known as Confucius Institutes. These programs have been instated in U.S. schools across the country with the mission of indoctrinating students and painting a sympathetic portrait of the Chinese Communist government, according to the report.

The institutes are shrouded in mystery and have been the cause of much consternation on Capitol Hill and elsewhere as information about their reach and power in the United States becomes clearer.

While the programs appear on their surface to be mundane—mainly focusing on language and cultural issues—the Senate committee found that these institutes constitute a threat to the United States. The Chinese government, the committee found, “is attempting to change the impression in the United States and around the world that China is an economic and security threat.”

There are more than 100 Confucius Institutes currently operating in America—the most of any country—and China has plans to open many more, according to the report.

Sometimes you have to walk’: Trump scraps North Korea summit deal

Who is surprised that Trump meant what he said about NK?

HANOI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he had walked away from a nuclear deal at his summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Thursday because of unacceptable demands from the North Korean leader to lift punishing U.S.-led sanctions.

Trump said two days of talks in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the key issue of denuclearization, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal.

“It was all about the sanctions,” Trump said at a news conference after the talks were cut short. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”

The United Nations and the United States ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea when the reclusive state undertook a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests in 2017, cutting off its main sources hard cash.

Trump and Kim cut short their talks, skipping a planned working lunch at the French-colonial-era Metropole hotel after a morning of meetings.

“Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times,” Trump said, adding “it was a friendly walk”.

Iran’s Rouhani blames U.S., Israel for attack on elite Guards

I guess we somehow ‘extra incensed’ those sunni moslems?
Wouldn’t know why as they so hate shite moslems they’d gladly kill all of them without a second’s hesitation anyway.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the United States and its regional allies on Thursday for a suicide bombing in southeastern Iran that killed 27 members of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards, Iranian state TV reported……

A militant Sunni Muslim group, Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iranian media have reported.

 

Iran Trembles As Venezuela Starts To Teeter.

Venezuelans, with help from world capitals led by Washington, seem close to toppling the oppressive, corrupt regime that misrules them. Don’t be surprised if Iran follows a similar course. There, less visible but widespread protests continue to cast doubt on the mullahs’ grip on power.

In both cases, once-strong popular regime support has vanished. Tumbling oil prices and sanctions aside, corruption and mismanagement have transformed two of the world’s leading petroleum ­exporters into basket cases.

The mullahs, like Venezuela’s socialists, are more interested in exporting their revolution abroad than helping their people. Both run police states with sham elections that lend a veneer of democratic legitimacy. No wonder the two are such close friends.

The late Hugo Chávez saw the potential in a Caracas-Tehran alliance early on. He would pop up in Tehran often, merging the Latin-tinged “Yankee Go Home” with the Persian “Death to America” chants.

Daily direct flights between ­Caracas and Tehran were soon established. Tehran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, and other Iranian operatives use Venezuela for money laundering. Iranian officials seeking to evade American sanctions can easily obtain Venezuelan passports.

Now the two regimes find themselves in the same boat.

The 40th Anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Today, February 10, the Iranian regime officially celebrates the 40th anniversary of the day it seized power. The fundamentalist and Islamist party of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini surprised the international community and the Iranian people when in 1979, it hijacked a revolution. The successful power-grab sentwaves through global politics.

Although some people were aware of the intentions of the Islamist party, many underestimated the extent of its organizational skills and power. To harness both the trust and the loyalty of the people, Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers initially portrayed themselves as spiritual people who had no desire to rule the country. Many, including several political parties, also believed that, during a transitional period, the ruling mullahs would relinquish any power gained.

 U.S. Authorities Unveil Sweeping Set of Actions Against China’s Huawei.

The Trump Administration unveiled a sweeping set of actions—including criminal charges—against China’s Huawei Technologies Co. in its latest salvo against the telecom giant, with authorities unsealing a set of indictments just days before U.S.-China trade talks are set to resume.

In a pair of cases unsealed Monday, federal prosecutors accused Huawei of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and of stealing trade secrets from a U.S. business partner, portraying the company as a flouting U.S. laws while trying to do business in the country.

Bye Bye Trade War? China Plans $1 Trillion Buying Spree to Reduce US Trade Deficit.

China has extended the olive branch back to the United States by offering a path to eliminate Washington’s burgeoning trade deficit with the country, Bloomberg reported Friday. The news comes less than a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration was considering lifting tariffs amid the ongoing trade war.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported Friday that China has offered to significantly boost its purchase of U.S. goods over a six-year period in an effort to re-balance trade between the two superpowers. By increasing its annual imports from the United States, Beijing would reduce its trade surplus to zero by 2024. That would require a spending boost of more than $1 trillion.

Last year, Beijing’s surplus with the U.S. stood at $323 billion.

Trade War Truce?
Trade talks between the U.S. and China are progressing at breakneck speed, a strong sign that both sides are looking to end the tariff dispute before March. That’s when the 90-day truce agreed to by President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping is set to expire.

U.S. officials are reportedly considering lifting tariffs on Chinese imports to give Beijing a bigger incentive to negotiate a fairer trade deal. Last year, the Trump administration announced duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatened additional tariffs if Beijing responded. Tensions have simmered down since December when the leaders of both countries met face-to-face on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Last week marked the first face-to-face meetings between Chinese and American trade delegates since the G20 summit. The meetings, which went a day longer than planned, resulted in China agreeing to purchase more U.S. farm and agricultural commodities. Chinese officials have also agreed to grant wider access to mainland markets to U.S. firms.

Several risks stand in the way of a comprehensive end to the trade war. Chief among them is the ongoing drama involving Huawei Technologies Corp. U.S. federal prosecutors are following up on civil lawsuits against the tech giant by launching a wider investigation into the company. According to The Wall Street Journal, the investigation has reached an advanced stage and could lead to an indictment shortly.

Trump Plans North Korea Nuclear Summit With Kim Jong UN for February

Meanwhile back at the ranch.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump plans to meet face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month for a second nuclear summit, the White House announced Friday.

“The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date,” according to the White House readout of Trump’s meeting with top Kim deputy Kim Yong Choi.

Trump and Kim Yong Choi had planned to discuss “relations between the two countries and continued progress on North Korea’s final, fully verified denuclearization,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement before Friday’s meeting.

Twitter warns conservative author his book violates Pakistan law

Twitter is warning it may censor content by Western users that the social giant deems a violation of Pakistan law.

Russian-born Canadian columnist Jamie Glazov explained the situation on The Glazov Gang, an online talk show.

Chinese Huawei Executive Is Charged With Espionage in Poland.

Remember, one was also arrested in Canada by our request.
This is not unusual in the world of espionage.
In the IC – the Intelligence Community – this used to be called ‘Non Official Cover’. Now, for obvious reasons, it’s called ‘Commercial Cover’. The spy masquerades as an employee of a (most of the time) actual legitimate private company. Of course, in China, any and all international businesses are to be considered state owned and thus nothing more than a spy ring that happens to have a commercial enterprise as a sideline.

For years, Washington has labeled Huawei a national security threat, saying it could be forced by China to use its knowledge of the telecommunications equipment it sells around the world to tap into, or disable, foreign communications networks. Huawei has denied that forcefully through the years. Part of its defense has been that it hadn’t been implicated in overseas spying allegations.

Officers of Poland’s counterintelligence agency this week searched the local Huawei office, leaving with documents and electronic data, as well as the home of the Chinese national, said Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for Poland’s security coordination office. The Chinese individual wasn’t named, but was identified by Polish state television as a graduate of one of China’s top intelligence schools, as well as a former employee of the Chinese consulate in the port city of Gdansk.

People familiar with the matter identified him as Weijing Wang. He is known in Poland as Stanislaw Wang, according to these people and a public LinkedIn page that matches his biographical details.

A person who knew Mr. Wang described him as a well-known figure in local business circles, often spotted at events sponsored by Huawei in Poland. “He spoke great Polish,” this person said. “He was a really well-known Chinese guy in Poland and was always around.”

USS McCampbell Freedom of Navigation Operation Past Paracel Islands Irks China.

Lu Kang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, was critical of McCampbell’s FONOP during his regularly scheduled briefing with the media.

“The Chinese side immediately sent military vessel and aircraft to conduct verification and identification on the U.S. ship and warned it to leave. We have lodged stern representations with the U.S. side,” Lu said, according to the official English translation of the ministry’s press conference.

Starting in the 1990s, in a move not recognized by international maritime law, China claimed a straight baseline around the entire Paracel Islands archipelago, which it calls the Xisha Islands. The Chinese government wants foreign warships to ask permission before operating near the islands. Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the chain.

In response, U.S. Navy officials stated McCampbell operated within the standards of international maritime law.

China should think twice before threatening to attack Americans.

Many times in the past, a tyrannical regime has somehow believed that if they will strike a “decadent” Western nation hard enough, it will fold immediately. But history has proven that a wrongheaded assumption again and again. Free nations enjoy have resources of political will that more authoritarian regimes don’t have and never will. If Peking’s commie leaders choose to ignore that lesson, it’s to everyone’s peril, but mostly theirs.

China perceived the lack of strategic focus of the George W. Bush administration and the passive “lead from behind” foreign policy of the Obama administration as American decay and decline. In reality, the foundational aspects of the American economy remain surprisingly strong and the American fighting spirit is not dead — merely sleeping. Those who would believe that the sinking of two aircraft carriers would trigger an impulse toward retreat would do well to make themselves aware of the United States’ history and the impact events such as the sinking of the Lusitania, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the collapse of the World Trade Center had on the national psyche. What some have labeled the Jacksonian impulse could be described as a tendency toward great power rage. To be sure, it burns itself out. After all, the U.S. is considering leaving Afghanistan, 17 years later.

But make no mistake: Any attack upon a single U.S. aircraft carrier by long-range aircraft, cruise missiles or ballistic missiles would surely generate a response against the bases from which those weapons were launched, the sensors associated with them and the command-and-control nodes that directed them, and then the United States would turn its attention on the Chinese naval and merchant fleet.

Before China knew what was happening, it would be cut off from the overseas sources of energy and raw materials that fuel its import/export economy. Within weeks it would be without fuel and its factories would be shuttered. The American economy, established in a nation that has most resources domestically available, would be able to ride out the storm, even if China attempted to climb the escalation ladder and attack targets in North America.

For First Time Ever, China Begins Purchasing U.S. Rice

Looks like that ‘trade war’ all the political pundits said was going to happen due to President Trump’s tariffs on China didn’t happen as anticipated. What else can we suppose they’re wrong on too?

China is buying U.S. rice for the first time. The “South China Morning Post” reported Chinese customs officials cleared American rice for import on Thursday. 

It’s not clear how much China will buy, but the U.S. rice industry calls China the 800 pound gorilla for the industry, and a market barrier it’s been trying to break for decades.

Johnny Sullivan of Producers Rice Mill, Inc. says “China is a monster of a market. The facts are based on the consumption rate of rice in China, the short story is China could chew through the entire U.S. crop in 14 days, so it’s unreal.”

The news comes as leaders from the two countries prepare to meet in mid-January to continue trade talks. The trade war ceasefire between the U.S. and China started earlier in December, when President Trump and President Xi Jinping met at the G20 summit in Argentina. The U.S. agreed not to raise tariff levels if the two countries can come to an agreement on a host of issues, including trade.

After a six month lull, China started buying U.S. soybeans in December. However, it hasn’t been enough to appease traders, hungry for China to start buying large quantities of U.S. beans.

 

Afghanistan: Remembering the fallen of 2018

Hail the victorious dead

KABUL, Afghanistan — Fourteen American servicemembers were killed in Afghanistan in 2018 as the longest war in U.S. history began its 18th year in October.

Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin

Spc. Gabriel D. Conde

Cpl. Joseph Maciel

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz

Staff Sgt. Reymund Rarogal Transfiguracion

Sgt. Maj. Timothy Bolyard

Staff Sgt. Diobanjo S. Sanagustin

Spc. James A. Slape

Maj. Brent Taylor

Sgt. Leandro A.S. Jasso

Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin

Buyers beware of counterfeit Leupold rifle scopes

ChiCom crap.

An employee at a local sporting goods store told us about a customer that recently got too good of a deal on a Leupold rifle scope at a gun show.

The scope was counterfeit. The seller was off to the next bazaar and a fresh crop of pigeons, and the buyer had no recourse. Leupold has no obligation to replace a counterfeit scope, nor does a retailer.

If you’re lucky, your ersatz Leupold is serviceable. Even fake Rolex wristwatches keep time for a while, but would you trust such a scope on a prized draw hunt that you’ve entered for two decades? I wouldn’t.

Most counterfeit Leupolds are of Chinese origin and are priced sufficiently below manufacturer’s suggested retail price on many websites to be irresistible. They’re cheap enough to draw you in, but not so cheap to scare you away. Of course, you don’t know it’s counterfeit until you’ve paid for the item and have it in hand.

On leupold.com, Leupold issues a warning against purchasing Leupold-labeled optics from wish.com, ioffer.com, aliexpress.com, alibaba.com and many others. The most commonly counterfeited products, according to Leupold, mimic Mark 4 rifle scopes, VX-III rifle scopes, Prismatic rifle scopes, CQ/T rifle scopes, LCO sights and Deltapoint Pro sights.

The products are illegally imported from the People’s Republic of China, which is a profligate violator of patent and trademark rights.

Leupold’s warning says, “These fake products bear many of the trademarks and trade dress of current Leupold & Stevens rifle scopes, and are sometimes difficult to distinguish externally from authentic Leupold products.”

Regrettably, owners learn the truth when they send faulty products to Leupold for warranty service. Leupold is famous for its “Full Lifetime Guarantee,” but it will not service counterfeit products. A counterfeit experience can sour a victimized buyer on the company, a phenomenon to which Leupold is sensitive.

All Leupold rifle scopes bear an individual serial number that’s engraved on the bottom of the turret. Counterfeit scopes often use fake serial numbers, all identical serial numbers, or incorrect numbering convention.

The date code is a quick way to assure authenticity. Since 1974, every Leupold scope includes a letter in the serial number as a date-code. Scopes with a letter at the beginning of the serial number were produced between 1974 and 1992. You are unlikely to encounter counterfeits from this era because those scopes are relatively inexpensive.

Scopes with a letter at the end of the serial number were produced after 1992.

Since 2014, the serial suffix contains two letters, always beginning with A. “AA” is 2014, “AB” is 2015, and so on.

Leupold does not use the letters I, O, and Q in its serial numbers because they are easily mistaken for 1, 0, and 0. If a scope has these letters in a serial number, it’s fake. If it does not contain a letter at the end, it’s fake.

Leupold scopes bear distinctive physical characteristics. The gold ring near the end of the objective bell is a well-known trademark. It’s an actual metal ring, not a decal. Contemporary models have black engraving within the gold ring that designates the model number, focal range and Leupold name.

Inlaid on the left side of the turret is a gold logo signet. Old models are engraved with LEUPOLD.

Additionally, a new scope will be in a cellophane-wrapped box. Inspection requires breaking the seal, which sellers usually do not permit. Authorized dealers have samples on display for inspection. From any other source you buy on faith.

If possible, write down the serial number and call 1-800-LEUPOLD. The company can usually confirm a scope’s authenticity by its serial number.

Indonesia’s Volatile Child of Krakatau Collapsed, but Now It’s More Explosive

ANYER, Indonesia—The volcano that unleashed a tsunami and killed more than 400 people has collapsed to about a third of its previous height and is ejecting superheated magma into the sea, magnifying the power of the eruptions and sending ash more than a mile into the air.

The volcano, called Anak Krakatau, partially collapsed in a violent spasm on Dec. 22, causing a massive landslide that sent high waves barreling toward both shores of the Sunda Strait, the narrow passage between the islands of Java and Sumatra. The volcano’s cone is now about 360 feet above sea level, Indonesian officials said Saturday, reduced from more than 1,000 feet before the collapse.