Notre Dame Final Four Run Tainted by NCAA’s Scheduling on Good Friday and Easter; Catholic Institution Should Have Abstained From Participating

File Photo of the Baslica of the Sacred Heart and Golden Dome at the University of Notre Dame

The NCAA has created an anti-Catholic and anti-Christian effect by scheduling a national semifinal (Final Four game) on Good Friday in women’s basketball. Doing so violates the solemn nature of the day and subjects Catholics to having to play on a day when they are fasting, and when they are abstaining from meat. At least the game is not at 3 p.m., the hour that Christ laid down His Life on the Cross, yet it is in the evening. #NotreDame should have refused to play.

The movie “Chariots of Fire” featured an Olympic athlete who refused to compete on the Sabbath. Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in a World Series game on Yom Kippur. Notre Dame should have refused to participate in the tournament if the Final Four was going to be on Good Friday.



Notre Dame Women’s Basketball has made yet another Final Four run, yet probably should have sat out the tournament when the NCAA drew up the bracket to force games on Good Friday and Easter, two of the most sacred dates on the Catholic Liturgical Calendar.

Good Friday, in particular, is a day of solemn observance honoring the Passion and Death of Christ on the Cross, for which an athletic contest intended as a form of entertainment is inconsistent. Additionally, Catholics are required to engage in fasting on Good Friday, to take in less than the ordinary amount of nutrition, as well as a day of abstinence from meat.

It appears that an additional form of abstinence that Notre Dame should have practiced was to abstain from participation in the tournament, unless they wanted to see if they could advance and then simply forfeit the semifinal.

Notre Dame is French for “Our Lady,” referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the day her Son was Crucified, the Blessed Mother was not playing basketball or rooting for an athletic contest. When most of everyone else had run off, the Blessed Mother was there at the foot of the Cross.

The Final Four fiasco is a missed opportunity for the University of Notre Dame. Against the backdrop of a society beset by various evils and temptations and moral failings, these circumstances offered an opportunity for Notre Dame to offer leadership, by refusing to disrespect Good Friday and Easter.



Such an example would have been helpful to the broader human community, and would have helped serve the NCAA with a “wake-up call.”

The NCAA, as coincidence would have it, is based within a few miles of an Irish Catholic church that reputedly was burned down by the anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan, back in the 1920’s when the KKK essentially took over Indiana and had deep tentacles into Indiana government. That was about the same era that the Notre Dame student body disrupted a Klan rally in South Bend and prepared to march on Klan headquareters before being convinced by the school president and Knute Rockne to head back to campus. And that was in the same era when Notre Dame started winning consensus national championships in football. It also was about the same era that Notre Dame reportedly starting adopting “The Fighting Irish” as their nickname, a term that originally had been hurled by an opposing team’s fans as an anti-Catholic racial slur, that the school would now wear as a badge of honor.

The NCAA is being de facto anti-Catholic by trying to force a Catholic institution to compete on a day when the Catholic Faith requires fasting and abstinence. And the NCAA is being anti-Catholic and, more broadly, anti-Christian, by disrespecting the solemn nature of Good Friday with the deliberate scheduling of the semifinal. The Final, of course, is scheduled for Easter Sunday, the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord, the most important Feast Day on the Catholic calendar.

Today’s increasingly secularized, money-oriented University of “Notre Dame” is far too submissive to the NCAA’s de facto anti-Catholic, anti-Christian step of forcing a Final Four on the sacred day of Good Friday and Easter, the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord. The university should have abstained from participating. And perhaps sports fans should abstain from watching.





NEWSWATCH [Symantec 10.20.17]: “Dragonfly: Western energy sector targeted by sophisticated attack group; Resurgence in energy sector attacks, with the potential for sabotage, linked to re-emergence of Dragonfly cyber espionage group.” – SCW RUSSIA WIRE

File Photo of Electrical Power Lines in Countryside with Sunset in Background, adapted from image at energy.gov

“The energy sector in Europe and North America is being targeted by a … wave of cyber attacks that could provide attackers with the means to severely disrupt affected operations. The group behind these attacks is known as Dragonfly. … in operation since at least 2011 … [they have] re-emerged over the past two years from a quiet period following exposure by Symantec and a number of other researchers in 2014. … ‘Dragonfly 2.0’ campaign … appears to have begun in late 2015 [and] shares tactics and tools used in earlier campaigns …. disruptions to Ukraine’s power system in 2015 and 2016 were attributed to a cyber attack …. there have also been media reports of attempted attacks on the electricity grids in some European countries, as well as reports of companies that manage nuclear facilities in the U.S. being compromised by hackers. The Dragonfly group appears to be interested in … learning how energy facilities operate and … gaining access to operational systems themselves … the group now potentially has the ability to sabotage or gain control of these systems should it decide to do so. …”

Click here for: “Dragonfly: Western energy sector targeted by sophisticated attack group Resurgence in energy sector attacks, with the potential for sabotage, linked to re-emergence of Dragonfly cyber espionage group.” – Symantec 10.20.17







NEWSWATCH: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters – SCW RUSSIA WIRE

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code, adapted from image at ornl.gov

“The Trump administration … blamed the Russian government for … cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid … the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure. … Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing …. a ‘multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors’ had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities ‘where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.’  * * *  … Thursday’s alert provided a link to an analysis by … Symantec last fall that said a group it had dubbed Dragonfly had targeted energy companies in the United States and Europe and in some cases broke into the core systems that control the companies’ operations. …”

Click here for: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters







SCW RUSSIAWIRE: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: Russia Investigation

U.S. Capitol file photo

House Permanent Select Committee on #Intelligence
#Russia Investigation

Overview

Following a more than yearlong, bipartisan investigation into Russia active measures targeting the 2016 U.S. #election, the House Intelligence Committee has completed a draft report of 150+ pages, with 600+ citations. The draft report addresses, in detail, each of the questions within the agreed parameters of the investigation, as announced in March 2017. It analyzes: 

  • Russian active measures directed against the 2016 U.S. election and against our European allies;
  • The U.S. government response to that attack; 
  • Links between Russians and the Trump and Clinton campaigns; and 
  • Purported leaks of classified information. Initial Findings


The draft report contains 40+ initial findings that describe: 

  • A pattern of Russian attacks on America’s European allies; 
  • Russian cyberattacks on U.S. political institutions in 2015-2016 and their use of social media to sow discord; 
  • A lackluster pre-election response to Russian active measures; 
  • Concurrence with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump; 
  • We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians; 
  • How anti-Trump research made its way from Russian sources to the Clinton campaign; and 
  • Problematic contacts between senior Intelligence Community officials and the media.


Proposed Recommendations

The draft report includes 25+ proposed recommendations for Congress and the executive branch to improve: 

  • Election security, including protecting vote tallies;
  • Support to European allies; 
  • The U.S. government response to cyber-attacks; 
  • Campaign finance transparency; and 
  • Counterintelligence practices related to political campaigns and unauthorized disclosures.


Conclusion

The draft report will be provided to the Committee minority on March 13 for review and comment. After adoption it will be submitted for a declassification review, and a declassified version will be made public. The report’s completion will signify the closure of one chapter in the Committee’s robust oversight of the threat posed by Moscow—which began well before the investigation and will continue thereafter.

Additional follow-on efforts arising from the investigation include oversight of the unmasking of Americans’ names in intelligence reports, FISA abuse, and other matters.







SCW RUSSIA WIRE NEWSWATCH: “Sudan/Russian Nuclear Power Cooperation Poses Proliferation Risks”- Institute for Science and International Security/David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Allison Lach, Bridget Leahy, Andrea Stricker

Sudan Flag, Africa Map Highlighting Sudan, Map of Sudan and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Reuters reported on March 13, 2018 that Russia has agreed to sign a ‘roadmap’ with Sudan on building nuclear power stations. However, Sudan has poor export controls, no adherence to nuclear power safety or nuclear terrorism conventions, and weak safeguards standards. Its neighbors also maintain poor implementation of these preventions against nuclear material and commodity theft or diversion. Russia should not build nuclear reactors in Sudan. Sudan should instead bolster its infrastructure so that it can at some point in the future underpin a well safeguarded nuclear power program backed by robust, internationally-acceptable strategic export controls.”

Click here for: “Sudan/Russian Nuclear Power Cooperation Poses Proliferation Risks”- Institute for Science and International Security/David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Allison Lach, Bridget Leahy, Andrea Stricker







NEWSWATCH: “Social Media in Security Clearance Investigations” – Secrecy News/FAS

Montage of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Logos, adapted from image at NPS.gov

Whoops, better scrub your facebook posts and twitter rants. Secrecy News reports that Congress is focusing on asking the executive branch to delve into social media activity when vetting persons needing a security clearance.

“Members of Congress are urging the executive branch to update and expand the security clearance process by examining the social media presence of individuals … considered for a security clearance for access to classified information. ‘I put more effort into understanding who my interns are’ than the security clearance process does, said Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr at a hearing …. ‘You go to the areas that you learn the most about them — social media is right at the top of the list.’ ‘I can’t envision anyone coming into the office that you haven’t thoroughly checked out everything that they’ve said online,’ …

Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to promote the use of social media in security clearance investigations. …”


Click here for “Social Media in Security Clearance Investigations” – Secrecy News/FAS





SCW RUSSIA WIRE NEWSWATCH: “Britain says former Russian spy poisoned with nerve agent” – Reuters/Toby Melville, Estelle Shirbon, Kate Kelland, Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden, Gareth Jones

“A nerve agent was used to deliberately poison a former Russian double agent and his daughter, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer said …. Sergei Skripal, once a colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found slumped unconscious on a bench … in the southern English city of Salisbury … Both remain critically ill and a police officer who attended the scene is also in a serious condition in hospital. * * * … a U.S. security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the main line of police inquiry was that Russians may have used the substance against Skripal in revenge …. Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest by Russian authorities in 2004. … given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies caught in the West as part of a Cold War-style spy swap ….”

Click here for: “Britain says former Russian spy poisoned with nerve agent” – Reuters/Toby Melville, Estelle Shirbon, Kate Kelland, Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden, Gareth Jones







SCW RUSSIA WIRE NEWSWATCH: “Strategic Warning on NATO’s Eastern Flank Pitfalls, Prospects, and Limits” – RAND/Mark R. Cozad

Map of Former Soviet Union, CIS, Western Portion, adapted from image at cia.gov

“Since 2008, Russia’s military has embarked on an extensive modernization program designed to overcome shortfalls in readiness, competence, sustainability, and deployability. These and changes in logistics and operational capability have raised concerns about the Intelligence Community’s (IC’s) ability to warn of future Russian aggression. Achieving timely warning has proven extremely difficult, for a variety of reasons, in large part because of a lack of insight into Russian leadership intentions.”



Click here for Introductory Summary: “Strategic Warning on NATO’s Eastern Flank Pitfalls, Prospects, and Limits” – RAND/Mark R. Cozad

Click here for Full PDF of Report: “Strategic Warning on NATO’s Eastern Flank Pitfalls, Prospects, and Limits” – RAND/Mark R. Cozad



Introductory Summary:



Full PDF: