February 1, 2017

US puts Iran ‘on notice’ after missile test, won’t elaborate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. put Iran “on notice” Wednesday after the Iranian military tested a ballistic missile and allied rebels in Yemen attacked a Saudi naval vessel in the Red Sea, an early manifestation of President Donald Trump’s promise of a tougher American approach to the Islamic republic.

“Iran is now feeling emboldened,” Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters.

Delivering his first public remarks since Trump took office, Flynn didn’t elaborate on what actions the U.S. might take in response to Iran’s missile test earlier this week. But he made clear the administration’s view that President Barack Obama’s strategy of containing Iran’s destabilizing behavior while cooperating more closely on nuclear and other matters wasn’t working.

“The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions — including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said.

Asked to clarify what Flynn meant by putting Iran “on notice,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “We felt as though their actions were both provocative and in violation.”

The statement makes “sure that they understood that we weren’t going to sit by and not act on those actions,” Spicer said.

Reports of the missile test emerged after Trump signed an executive order last week temporarily suspending immigration from Iran and six other majority-Muslim countries.


The US may have to consider firing on Iranian boats after latest Houthi attack

saudi arabai navy houthi yemen strikeFootage 

On Monday, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen launched an attack on a Saudi Arabian naval vessel using suicide boats, or fast attack craft laden with explosives.

According to Fordham University maritime law professor and former US Navy Commander Lawrence Brennan, “this attack is likely to impact US naval operations and rules of engagement (ROE) in nearby waters.”

The year 2016 saw an unprecedented spike in the number of incidents at sea between the US Navy and fast-attack craft of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), at least one of which required the US Navy to open fire with warning shots.

Meanwhile, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen had a blockbuster year in 2016, using an anti-ship missile to hit an Emirati naval vessel and then firing a salvo of missiles at US Navy ships in October.

The US Navy successfully fended off the Houthi missile attack and retaliated by destroying three radar sites in Houthi-controlled Yemen. At the time, US officials and experts contacted by Business Insider concluded that Iran likely supplied the missiles to the Houthis.

But the latest attack on the Saudis may give the US Navy pause in the future.

In a questionable video released of the attack, people near the camera can be heard shouting slogans like “death to America,” “death to Israel,” and “death to Jews!” One Pentagon officialtold the Washington Examiner that the Houthis may have mistaken the Saudi ship they attacked for a US Navy ship, though another official denied it.


Trump Gets His Man At The State Department

President Trump has gotten his man at the State Department.

Rex Tillerson was approved by a 56-43 vote Wednesday in the Senate. Four senators who caucus with the Democrats crossed the aisle and joined all of the Republicans in voting for Tillerson. They were Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as well as independent Angus King of Maine.


Brexit Bill is PASSED by MPs despite desperate bid by more than 100 Remoaners to block Article 50 from being triggered

  • Bid to wreck the historic Brexit Bill has been defeated in the House of Commons
  • MPs voted by 498 to 114 to give the crucial legislation its second reading
  • Two senior Labour MPs tonight quit Jeremy Corbyn’s top team to oppose Brexit 
  • Labour’s Neil Coyle earlier branded Tory MPs ‘bastards’ during the Brexit debate 
  • One Labour MP yelled ‘suicide’ as the result was announced in chamber
  • Prime Minister has said long-awaited White Paper will be out tomorrow

Britain passed the point of no return in its historic battle to cut ties with Brussels tonight as MPs backed the Brexit Bill.

The Commons endorsed the legislation by 498 votes to 114 after the government saw off a desperate bid by more than 100 Remoaners to block it.

In the first of a crucial set of votes in the Commons, a ‘wrecking’ amendment that would have effectively killed the law was defeated by 336 to 100.

The House then gave the Bill its second reading by another huge margin, despite the opposition from Labour MPs, the SNP and most Liberal Democrats.

One Labour MP yelled ‘suicide’ as the result was read out in the chamber.



Soros’s bad bet against Trump cost his clients $1bn

Soros’s bad bet against Trump cost his clients $1bn
George Soros’s hedge fund was one of the biggest losers of 2016, as the Hungarian-born billionaire’s misplaced investments turned into a $1 billion loss for his clients, according to a report by hedge fund investor LCH Investments, cited by Bloomberg.

The only notable hedge fund which did worse than Soros is Paulson & Co, which lost $3 billion last year, according to LCH. The biggest winner is billionaire Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates, which earned $4.9 billion for its clients.

After Donald Trump’s election victory, Soros made some bearish market bets. While Soros called Trump a “would-be dictator,” and predicted uncertainty and sell-off after his win, the markets rallied significantly.

“The overall returns from hedge funds in 2016 were disappointing. Even the managers with the greatest long-term records did not perform strongly, and their results were no better than average,” Rick Sopher, chairman of LCH, said in the report.

“This underperformance by the world’s greatest money managers reflects the difficulties experienced by most active managers for much of 2016,” he added.



China Steps up Opposition to US Missile Defense System

China is stepping up its efforts to stop South Korea from deploying a U.S. missile defense system on its soil, turning up the pressure on the economic front, while warning of the impact on diplomatic relations if the system is put in place this year.

The missile system and China’s objections are likely to be a hot topic this week during newly appointed U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ first trip to Asia.

Although U.S. and South Korean officials have long stressed that the key aim of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) is to counter North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, Beijing argues that in the long run it could do much more than that.


Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport hit by major computer outage

By Anthony Deutsch | AMSTERDAM

A major computer malfunction crippled traffic at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Wednesday causing the delay or cancellation of more than 100 flights at one of Europe’s largest transportation hubs.

Passengers faced hours of delays due to a technical problem at the Netherlands’ Air Traffic Control, forcing flights to be diverted to alternative European airports, a spokesman said.

KLM, the national carrier, canceled flights to Germany, Belgium, Britain and the United States, among others.

“We are not sure yet what the cause is or how long it will take to fix it,” said Schiphol spokesman Paul Weber.


Deadly SEAL Raid In Yemen Signals Shift In Anti-Terror Strategy Under Trump

 Tyler Rogoway

A daring special operations raid into Yemen was approved by the White House and executed this weekend, leaving one US soldier dead and three wounded. Details remain sketchy, but a group made up primarily of America’s most notorious tier one counter-terrorism force, SEAL Team Six, flew into war-torn Yemen to raid an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquarters in the al-Bayda region of the country. The raid was supposedly a kill-capture and site exploitation operation aimed at the group’s key leadership, including AQAP kingpin Qasim al Raymi.

The SEALs experienced an hour-long firefight after arriving on target under a moonless night sky. The team supposedly killed 14 AQAP operatives in the surprise assault, but also suffered one KIA and three wounded in the process. A V-22 Osprey (it is unclear if this was a Marine MV-22 or USAF CV-22) that was evacuating casualties during the operation experienced a hard landing and was destroyed by choice as the team exfiltrated the target area. Multiple structures were also said to have been obliterated by airstrikes during different phases of the assault.

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