The Big Talk looks at gas prices and cyber security

CHAMBERSBURG – Every weekday morning on First News, the local – live morning radio information show with Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen features the big talk topics and opinion from local Attorney Clint Barkdoll.

On July 19, topics covered by the Big Talk on First News were the possibility of gas prices coming down and NATO forming a coalition to combat cyberattacks.

Listen to the full audio here:

Relief at the gas pumps could be in sight

OPEC apparently is beginning to realize the pain we’ve all felt at the pumps and they’ve agreed to a fairly sharp increase in oil production.

Countries in the Middle East and South America produce much of the world’s oil.

Because of COVID, they had to cut oil production and now that the economy is on an upswing, they never increased the number to match that surge.

But they’re doing it now.

Barkdoll said, “You’re seeing a big decrease in oil futures this morning, not clear how long that will take to translate to the gas pump, but it’s good news.”

NATO is looking to tackle the cyber threats

A Cyber Security Coalition will be formed by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and other countries around the world to take on the cyberattacks we’ve seen throughout the world recently.

The United States will be a leading player in this coalition, which will share intelligence information and could even engage in enforcement action against these cyber hackers.

Barkdoll said, “They’re also coming out very strongly, pointing to China as the actor in one of these big Microsoft hacks earlier this year. I think it’s a real signal that even from national security standpoint when you see a group like NATO coming out with this, they’re saying these are not bombs and soldiers, but this is just as much of a national security risk as someone engaging in military action. So a real confirmation of what a lot of people had been thinking now for months.”

Ryan asked, “Why on earth do we have to rely on NATO? Where was this empty head that is Bob Casey? Where are you on fentanyl? Where are you on the southern border? Where are you on cyber security? You’ve got nothing out of this guy. Bob Casey should be fired. He should never be in the halls of Washington ever again.”

Barkdoll said, “As we’ve said with these hacks the last few months, it feels like you hear nothing out of Congress, out of the Senate, out of the White House. There’s a lot of lip service paid by some people but no real initiatives to address this. Now again I give the administration credit, it sounds like at the NATO meeting a few weeks ago, it was the genesis of what we’re talking about now. Better late than never. But it does seem like the US government itself could and should be doing more here domestically to address this as well.”

Jansen pointed out, “What puts my red flags up a little bit about that, what do they consider terrorist behavior on the internet these days? We’re hearing from this White House that certain points of view are worrisome and could lead to domestic terrorism. There’s people in the world who agree with that. Is there not a danger of them morphing and taking some of that into this perspective as well?”

Barkdoll said, “They’re saying they’re going to release a list of what they’re calling 50 tactics and techniques and procedures that the Chinese and other state sponsored hackers have used to get into these systems all over the globe. It remains to be seen what that list will be comprised of. I think there’s going to be guidance in there, too, whether you’re a public or private entity that you should be looking at to shore up your own cyber security within your business or within your agency.”

It’s still not clear how this coalition will be governed. There are some non-NATO players involved as well.

A lot of questions are still swirling: who will set the criteria? What kind of a governing board will they have?

Ryan said, “Nothing is being done about China. I see another headline this morning about COVID cases are on the rise and we’ve got the new variant. We’re very concerned about that. You hear nothing out of anybody. Why aren’t we kicking everybody out of the country? I know why. I got it. Oh, you’re a xenophobe. Oh, you’re a racist. Nobody cares at all about the fact that the Chinese Communist Party unleashed this on the world.”

Barkdoll said, “I one hundred percent agree with you. I was as critical of it last year under Trump as I am this year under Biden. Neither administration has done anything to address this even though more and more reporting and intelligence that comes out it sound like they’ve known very early on that China was responsible. Even the Biden administration is getting on board with this idea of the lab leak theory. Why are they not at least seeking some kind of restitution from the Chinese government? Why aren’t they engaging in some kind of sanctions economically? Get money from them for all the cost it’s been to the US economically. You hear nothing. There’s no discussion about this at any level of government and it’s really unfortunate. It looks like China’s basically going to get a pass on this whole situation.”

Jansen added, “Accountability. It’s the word we hear all the time now. Doesn’t seem to be being applied to China at all.”