January 27, 2017

Theresa and Trump’s new era: May prepares for historic day at the White House after landmark speech pledging an end to ‘failed’ wars wins her huge plaudits in the US

  • PM flew to Washington to prepare for today’s White House talks over a future UK-US trade deal post-Brexit
  • Earlier tore up 20 years of ‘failed’ liberal interventionist foreign policy when she spoke to politicians 
  • She said she predicted a close relationship with Donald Trump because ‘sometimes opposites attract’
  • But Mrs May also warned the U.K. could limit intelligence sharing if the new president reintroduces torture
  • Warned Trump to beware of Vladimir Putin and called NATO ‘the cornerstone of the West’s defence’
Theresa May arrived in Andrews Air Force base outside Washington DC late Thursday US time ahead of Friday's crucial trade talks with President Trump

Theresa May arrived in Andrews Air Force base outside Washington DC late Thursday US time ahead of Friday’s crucial trade talks with President Trump

Theresa May is preparing for historic talks with Donald Trump after winning huge plaudits for a speech to top Republicans last night.

The PM and the President will lay the groundwork for a wide-ranging post-Brexit trade deal when they meet at the White House later.

Mrs May will also attempt to secure Mr Trump’s commitment to supporting NATO after calling it ‘the cornerstone of the West’s defence’.

The premier has enjoyed a storming start to her visit, with Republicans lavishing praise on her address to their conference in Philadelphia.


Chinese Government Engaged in ‘Holistic’ Cyber Effort to Infiltrate U.S. Industries

Experts call for review of policies to address uptick of Chinese investment in U.S.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping / AP

January 27, 2017 4:59 am

The Chinese government is engaged in a systematic cyber-economic campaign across industries in the United States, according to expert testimony before a congressional commission.

Jeffrey Johnson, president and CEO of SquirrelWerkz, a company that analyzes these Chinese-affiliated campaigns, described them as a “holistic” attempt by the Chinese government to infiltrate information technology, finance, media, and the entertainment industry.

“These cyber-economic campaigns are persistent, intense, patiently executed and include the simultaneous execution of such a large and diverse set of legal and illegal methods, individuals and organizations, there’s little chance the targeted U.S. competitors can effectively defend or compete in the future without significant support of the U.S. government,” Johnson said in prepared testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Thursday.


Iraqi forces discover terrifying arsenal of weapons including mustard gas and dozens of aging rockets in ISIS arms warehouse

  • Iraqi soldiers say they found mustard gas among a huge cache of weapons
  • Pictures show rockets recklessly piled on top of each other by fleeing jihadists
  • Iraqi forces found haul of missiles in a warehouse in Mosul abandoned by ISIS

Iraqi forces say they have uncovered a terrifying arsenal of weapons including mustard gas at an ISIS arms warehouse in Mosul.

The weapons were found among dozens of rockets hidden in a storage unit in the city with Iraqi troops claiming the haul presented a ‘huge chemical threat’.

Pictures show officials examining piles of missiles which had been recklessly dumped on top of each other by fleeing jihadists.


Mattis orders review of F-35, Air Force One programs

Mattis orders review of F-35, Air Force One programs
© Getty Images

Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered the Pentagon to review the F-35 fighter jet and Air Force One replacement programs following President Trump’s criticism of the costs, the Pentagon announced Friday.

“Yesterday Secretary Mattis directed separate reviews of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement. “The purpose of these reviews is to inform programmatic and budgetary decisions, recognizing the critical importance of each of these acquisition programs.”

Since winning the presidency, Trump has tweeted several times about the costs of the F-35 and the new Air Force One.


Russia’s new MiG-35 fighter jet to use laser weapons

Russia's new MiG-35 fighter jet to use laser weapons. 59681.jpeg

The commander of Russian Air Force, Viktor Bondyrev, stated that Russia’s state-of-the-art fighter jet MiG-35 would be able to use advanced weapons, including laser weapons.

“The fighter is designed specifically for combat activities in conflicts of high intensity and under conditions of strong air defence. The strong performance of the fighter jet has been achieved with the help of onboard equipment, new optical radar station and reduced radar visibility. We have increased the number of suspension points from six to eight, which allows to use current and future models of aircraft weapons, including laser weapons,” President of the United Aircraft Corporation Yuri Slusar told TASS.

Earlier, President Vladimir Putin could witness the flight test of the new multipurpose fighter jet MiG-35. Putin observed the flight from the Kremlin, via live video connection.

“The Innovative multifunctional MiG-35 fighter has better performance characteristics. It is equipped with most modern weapons,” Putin said. “The aircraft can follow from 10 to 30 targets at a time. It can operate not only on the ground but also on the sea,” he added.

“This is a very interesting, unique machine indeed,” Putin said, pointing out the export potential of the fighter jet. 

Representatives of Russian Aerospace Forces said on January 27 that the entire fleet of lightweight fighters would be replaced with the latest MiG-35 combat aircraft. The chief of Russia’s Air Force, Viktor Bondarev, said during the presentation of the MiG-35 that the fighter jet will replace all light fighter aircraft.




Democratic Leader Shuts Down
Phones After Pro-Israel Supporters Go on Offense

Durbin deluged with calls urging him to stop blocking pro-Israel initiative

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin / AP


More than a thousand pro-Israel supporters from across the country bombarded the offices of Senate Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) with phone calls, urging the Democratic leader to stop holding up a key congressional initiative to rebuke the United Nations following its recent action against Israel, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Durbin’s offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago were so overwhelmed by phone calls that staffers were forced to take the phones off the hook for a short time, sources told the Washington Free Beacon.


Kremlin says Putin-Trump call set for Saturday

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to speak by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that the conversation is set for Saturday, according to Russian news agencies. Putin congratulated Trump on his victory shortly after his election, but the Kremlin says they haven’t spoken since then.


FBI sees bomb threats to JCCs as hate crime, not terrorism

Calls targeted over 30 Jewish community centers in 20 states in January, but in no case was a bomb found

A complex in Wilmington, Del., housing four Jewish organizations was evacuated after receiving a bomb threat. (Courtesy of Siegel JCC in Wilmington)

A complex in Wilmington, Del., housing four Jewish organizations was evacuated after receiving a bomb threat. (Courtesy of Siegel JCC in Wilmington)

WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating a rash of bomb threats to Jewish community centers as a hate crime and not a terrorist threat.

Agents briefed Jewish community leaders across the country through a call Thursday organized by the Anti-Defamation League.

The agents said the calls targeted over 30 JCCs in 20 states this month and in no case was a bomb found. The FBI does not view the calls as a terrorist threat, the agents said, and they are being investigated by the bureau and the Justice Department as a hate crime.

Classifying the investigation as a hate crime facilitates federal involvement in tracking the offender or offenders through additional funding and technical assistance provided to state and local authorities. The agents did not say which if any federal criminal statutes would apply. There are federal penalties of up to five years for bomb hoaxes, and 20 years if serious injury results because of the hoax.


Merkel Cabinet Reshuffled as Social Democrats Position for Vote

  • Sigmar Gabriel replaces Steinmeier as foreign minister
  • Zypries, former justice minister, becomes economy chief

Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel became Germany’s new foreign minister on Friday as Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner prepares to take on the chancellor in September’s election.

Gabriel this week ceded his party’s candidacy for the September election as well as the SPD party chairmanship to Martin Schulz, the former European Parliament president who polls show has a better chance against Merkel. Gabriel succeeds party colleague Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is the governing coalition’s choice to be electedGermany’s president in a special election next month.

The reshuffle among Social Democrats comes as the party looks to boost its fortunes against Merkel, whose Christian Democratic-led bloc remains well ahead of the SPD in every poll. Merkel and Schulz were tied at 41 percent in an ARD poll this week that asked who Germans would vote for if the chancellor were to be directly elected rather than appointed by the majority party.


Gambians celebrate new president’s arrival after veteran ruler flees

By Lamin Jahateh

BANJUL (Reuters) – Thousands of people lined the streets of Gambia’s capital Banjul on Thursday to welcome home new President Adama Barrow days after authoritarian leader Yahya Jammeh fled into exile under pressure from regional forces.

Barrow, a former real estate agent, won a Dec. 1 election but Jammeh refused to step down, forcing his opponent to be inaugurated at the Gambian Embassy in neighbouring Senegal.

Clad in a long white African tunic, Barrow smiled as he stepped out of a small plane and walked down a red carpet to greet hundreds of diplomats and officials lined up to greet him. Immediately afterwards, fighter jets from the West African ECOWAS regional force passed overhead.

“A new page in Gambian history is being turned,” said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, U.N. Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, who helped negotiate Jammeh’s exit, shortly before accompanying Barrow to Banjul.


  • Prioritize two groups from the Middle East: those who have worked for the U.S. military as translators (and their families); and Middle East Christians who, according to then-Secretary of State Kerry, were being subjected to genocide in Syria and Iraq.
  • In 2008, Congress authorized 20,000 special visas for Iraqis who served the U.S. for a year or more; and in 2009, authorized 7,500 visas over seven years for Afghan translators. The idea was to get allies who had risked their lives for American troops out as quickly as possible, but thousands have waited for years.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan are countries in which being tagged as helpful to the U.S. military can be, and has been, a death sentence. And worse, in July 2016, an extension of the visa program failed to make it out of the Senate.
  • Of the 10,801 refugees accepted in fiscal 2016 from Syria, only 56 (0.5 percent) were Christian.
  • Making a concerted effort to bring those two desperately threatened groups to the United States would meet our commitment to the translators, give concrete expression to our revulsion at genocide, protect the interests of the American people, and ensure that America remains hospitable to immigrants and refugees.


Geneva talks on Syria postponed, Russia says

Russia announces delay in UN-sponsored Syria talks as it hosts opposition politicians in Moscow.

The UN-hosted negotiations on the Syrian conflict planned for February 8 in Geneva have been postponed until the end of that month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“The date of February 8 has been put back until the end of next month,” Lavrov said at a meeting on Friday with Syrian opposition groups in Kazakhstan that ended on Tuesday without a major breakthrough.



Tulsi Gabbard’s Fascist Escorts to Syria

The Democratic congresswoman used affiliates of a violent, anti-Semitic political party to take tea with Assad.

Tulsi Gabbard, the self-styled “progressive” Hawaiian congresswoman makes no secret of her recent trip to Damascus to meet Bashar al-Assad. But, as an outspoken opponent of what she presents as America’s pro-terrorist foreign policy, Gabbard certainly accepted some strange companions on what her fellow lawmakers are calling a disgraceful reputation-laundering tour of a bloody dictatorship.

Gabbard, as her own office has disclosed, took her “fact-finding” trip with a delegation of two men who are affiliated with an anti-Semitic political party accused of using female suicide bombers; of beating up Western and Arab journalists; helping U.S.-designated terrorist organization Hezbollah and the U.S.-sanctioned Syrian regime wage war in the Levant.

And did we mention the party’s ideology and flag take their inspiration from Nazism?

Gabbard initially declined to say who financed her trip to Syria. However, in a press release Wednesday Gabbard revealed her delegation (which also included former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich) had been “led and sponsored by” an outfit called the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS—Ohio). Her statement added she and the rest of the delegation had been accompanied by two men, Elie and Bassam Khawam.


What’s Are China’s Stakes in Syria?

In late January, the Chinese government received important news from Syria. Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said “U.S. manned and unmanned aircraft conducted a precision air strike Jan. 19 against an al-Qaeda training camp in Idlib Province, Syria. More than 100 al-Qaeda fighters were killed in the strike.‎”

Many of those killed were Uighurs of the Turkestan Islamic Party, who fought under the wing of Jabhat Fateh-al-Sham (JFS). According to Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, during the U.S. bombing of an al-Qaeda training camp in Syria a Uighur jihadist known as Abu Omar al-Turkistani was killed. …



Kurds Pleased to See Syria Drop ‘Arab’ From Official Title in Draft Constitution

A member of the Democratic Union Party said that Syrian Kurds welcome the exclusion of the word “Arab” from the “Syrian Arab Republic” title in the Russian draft of the Syrian constitution.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Syrian Kurds welcome the exclusion of the word “Arab” from the “Syrian Arab Republic” title in the Russian draft of the Syrian constitution, a member of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) said Friday.

“There are some very positive suggestions among those made by Russia. It includes the removal of the word ‘Arab’ from the Syrian title, so that it reads ‘Syrian Republic’ instead of ‘Syrian Arab Republic’,” Khaled Issa told Sputnik.


Translators who worked for the US military in Iraq wonder if their American dream is slipping away

President Donald Trump’s talk about suspending the flow of refugees into the US hit Farah Marcolla hard.

The Iraqi linguist who worked side by side with US troops in Baghdad put her life on the line for America’s war effort.

Now her family is in danger back in Iraq, and she fears her efforts to get them to safety in America are all but doomed.


“I’m scared. The chance to see my family reunited again is very slim now,” she says.

“People like me and my family who helped and supported America, I believe we should be reunited. The history of the United States is to support people and help them, not to separate the families.”


  • The German experience with jihadists posing as migrants serves as a case study on errors for other countries to avoid. German authorities allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants, many lacking documentation, to enter Germany without a security check. German authorities admitted they lost track of some 130,000 migrants who entered the country in 2015.
  • German authorities knew in early 2015 that Walid Salihi, an 18-year-old Syrian who applied for asylum in Germany in 2014, was recruiting for the Islamic State at his asylum shelter in Recklinghausen, but they did nothing.
  • Anis Amri, the Tunisian jihadist who attacked the Christmas market in Berlin, used at least 14 different identities, which he used to obtain social welfare benefits under different names in different municipalities.
  • “We have probably forgotten to take into account what political opponents such as the Islamic State are capable of doing and how they think.” — Rudolf van Hüllen, political scientist.

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9837/germany-migrants-jihadistsHillary Clinton is estimated to have collected 81 percent of noncitizen votes, which may have helped her carry a state, a researcher says. (Associated Press) more >

Trump argument bolstered: Clinton received 800,000 votes from noncitizens, study finds

– The Washington Times
Hillary Clinton garnered more than 800,000 votes from noncitizens on Nov. 8, an approximation far short of President Trump’s estimate of up to 5 million illegal voters but supportive of his charges of fraud.

Political scientist Jesse Richman of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has worked with colleagues to produce groundbreaking research on noncitizen voting, and this week he posted a blog in response to Mr. Trump’s assertion.

Based on national polling by a consortium of universities, a report by Mr. Richman said 6.4 percent of the estimated 20 million adult noncitizens in the U.S. voted in November. He extrapolated that that percentage would have added 834,381 net votes for Mrs. Clinton, who received about 2.8 million more votes than Mr. Trump.


Political World Embraces Encrypted-Messaging App Signal Amid Fears of Hacking

Aides close to President Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton use app as memory of Wikileaks scandal lingers

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he has had the Signal app for a few weeks. The app, which lets users send encrypted messages, is gaining popularity in the political world amid fears about hacking and surveillance.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he has had the Signal app for a few weeks. The app, which lets users send encrypted messages, is gaining popularity in the political world amid fears about hacking and surveillance. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO


Signal, a smartphone app that allows users to send encrypted messages, is gaining popularity in the political world amid rising fears about hacking and surveillance in the wake of a tumultuous election year.

Political aides close to President Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are users. So are some close to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Some say the legion of political types has a singular goal to avoid a repeat of the WikiLeaks scandal, in which the emails of Mrs. Clinton and her closest allies were dumped onto the internet.



Iraqi troops find over 100 priceless Assyrian artifacts plundered from ancient ruins hidden under the home of an ISIS leader in Mosul

  • Assyrian artifacts have reportedly been found under the home of an ISIS leader
  • It is believed they were plundered from ancient city of Nimrud and ruins there
  • The ancient artifacts including clay pots and pottery are said to be priceless 
  • City of Nimrud had been under control of ISIS but was liberated late last year 

The ancient clay pots and vases are believed to have come from the Nineveh ruins as well as Nimrud, which has been reduced to ruins by the terror group.

Nimrud had been under the control of ISIS from 2014 but it was recaptured by Iraqi forces in the battle for Mosul in November.

More than 100 priceless Assyrian artefacts , pictured, that were snatched from ancient ruins in Iraq have reportedly been found hidden under the home of an ISIS leader in Mosul.

More than 100 priceless Assyrian artifacts , pictured, that were snatched from ancient ruins in Iraq have reportedly been found hidden under the home of an ISIS leader in Mosul.

Among the artefacts found were said to be a dozen clay pots, large vases, pottery, a hand mill and other small pieces

Among the artifacts found were said to be a dozen clay pots, large vases, pottery, a hand mill and other small pieces

Now, the Telegraph has reported that Iraqi authorities have stumbled upon the priceless items while searching a house in the Az-Zirai neighbourhood in the east of Mosul after the ISIS commander claimed he was a civilian.


There’s Something Very Weird Happening Inside Russia’s Cybersecurity World

Sheera Frenkel

A series of surprising arrests of some of Russia‘s top cyber security figures has left the international cybersecurity officials and analysts wondering whether Russia is cleaning house of suspected spies, or going through an internal shakeup of the FSB, Russia’s national security service.

At some point in December, Ruslan Stoyanov, a well-respected researcher with the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, and Sergei Mikhailov, head of the FSB’s Center of information Security, were arrested by Russian police as part of what Russia’s Kommersant newspaper described as a probe into possible treason. No date of arrest has been made public, though Kommersant reported that Stoyanov last logged into his private social media account on December 4, and Mikhailov on December 5. The Moscow-based Novaya Gazeta newspaper cited sources as saying Mikhailov was arrested during a meeting with other FSB officers in Moscow, and was taken from the room with a sack over his head.

On Thursday, REN-TV, a privately-owned TV channel in Russia, said a second FSB officer had also been arrested in December. They identified the man as Major Dmitry Dokuchayev, and reported he had served under Mikhailov in the the Center for Information Security. In another indication that Russia was seeing a high-level shakedown at the FSB, Kommersant reported that on January 13, the director of the Center for Information Security, Andrei Gerasimov, was fired. He was described as having close ties to cybersecurity companies, including Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab confirmed that Stoyanov was under investigation for activity during a period predating his employment at the company, and added, in a public statement, “We do not possess details of the investigation. The work of Kaspersky Lab’s Computer Incidents Investigation Team is unaffected by these developments.”

Stoyanov’s LinkedIn page lists his previous employer as the Ministry of the Interior’s Cyber Crime Unit.


Alleged hacker held in Prague at center of ‘intense’ US-Russia tug of war

Yevgeniy Nikulin faces extradition requests from both countries amid lingering disquiet over Moscow’s alleged interference in the US presidential election

Yevgeniy Nikulin was charged with offences relating to the hacking of computer networks belonging to LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring.
Yevgeniy Nikulin was charged with offences relating to the hacking of computer networks belonging to LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring. Photograph: YouTube
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