February 16, 2017

Hezbollah chief threatens Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor

Terror chief Nasrallah boasts that decision to move ammonia tank from Haifa was due to ‘our threat to target it’

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday boasted that his rockets can reach Israel’s nuclear reactor in the southern city of Dimona, and said he would turn Israel’s reported nuclear arsenal against it.

Nasrallah, who had previously threatened to target an ammonia tank in Haifa, claimed credit for an Israeli court decision to shut down that facility this week and said he would do the same with the nuclear reactor.

“I call upon the Israeli not only to evacuate the Ammonia tank from Haifa, but also to dismantle Dimona nuclear facility,” Nasrallah said at a rally, warning that he would target Dimona too. “The Israeli nuclear weapon that represents a threat to the entire region, we will turn it into a threat to Israel,” he claimed.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hezbollah-chief-threatens-israels-dimona-nuclear-reactor/North Korea killing: man and second woman held over death of Kim Jong-nam

Tillerson Forced to Stay at Sanitarium in German Village for G-20

February 16, 2017, 12:47 PM EST
  • Russian foreign minister asks why reporters were ushered away
  • Secretary of State is in ‘listening mode,’ official says

On his first trip abroad as U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson was forced to stay at a sanitarium in a German village known for its hot springs, 30 minutes from where other world leaders gathered. Diplomatic security agents mingled in the parking lot with elderly people in wheelchairs arriving for spa treatments.

Tillerson, the former head of Exxon Mobil Corp., was at the sanitarium because Bonn’s hotels were all booked by the time he confirmed his attendance at this week’s Group of 20 meeting. Counterparts including U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had to make a trek out to meet him.

The unusual diplomatic debut continued during an awkward encounter with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. After Lavrov delivered some perfunctory opening remarks alongside Tillerson, U.S. aides quickly ushered reporters from the room. “Why did they shush them out?” Lavrov asked.



The US military is sending the big guns to South Korea after Kim Jong-un’s latest stunts

Days after North Korea tested a new, dangerous missile type and allegedly engaged agents to assassinate Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Malaysia, the US plans to send the big guns to the Pacific in a massive show of force.

The USS Carl Vinson has been making its way to the Pacific, and it will be joined by the world’s most lethal combat plane, the F-22s, a nuclear-powered submarine, and possibly B-1 and B-2 nuclear-capable bombers.

“The two sides have agreed to send such weapons as the F-22 stealth fighter and a nuclear-powered submarine to the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises in March,” a defense officialtold South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.



Two more suspects held in Malaysia as South Korean spy chief says apparent assassination was ordered by Kim Jong-un

The suspects were picked up separately on Wednesday and Thursday. The female suspects were identified using surveillance footage from Kuala Lumpur International airport, where Kim Jong-nam fell ill on Monday morning before dying on the way to the hospital.

The Malaysian inspector general said the second female suspect had been identified as Siti Aishah, an Indonesian national. Her birthday was given as 11 February 1992, and place of birth as Serang, Indonesia. It is not clear if her passport was genuine.

Police official Abdul Samah said officers had also detained a Malaysian man, who is believed to be the boyfriend of the second female suspect.



Kim Jong-Nam’s ‘careless’ use of Facebook and emails may have led to his assassination, it has been reported.

The 46-year-old half-brother of Kim Jong-un, poisoned to death by two female operatives in Kuala Lumpur, posted numerous pictures of himself online along with comments.

His Facebook page was under the name ‘Kim Chol’, the same name used on the passport he had in his possession when he died on Monday.


Defence group Cobham takes huge writedown and warns it cannot forecast 2017 performance

Shares in Cobham have crashed after the beleaguered defence group issued another profit warning, saying it will take millions of pounds of goodwill charges, while revealing it cannot yet give guidance on how it will perform in 2017.

Cobham, which provides communications equipment, control systems and services to the defence industry, will take a £574m impairment on problems across several of its units.

It will also take a £150m charge on spiralling costs related to its contract to develop a mid-air refuelling tanker for Boeing.


US intelligence officials are ‘keeping SECRETS from Donald Trump out of fear they could be compromised or leaked’ after the president found out

  • The new report comes after Trump attacked intelligence officials for leaking 
  • Current and former officials said some sensitive information is being held back 
  • It is reportedly being done because they fear that it could be ‘compromised’ 
  • Part of the reasoning is reported links between Trump’s team and the Kremlin 

Donald Trump is having sensitive information withheld from him by US intelligence officials and spies, according to a new report.

The report, published by the Wall Street Journal, claims the reason behind not telling the president the whole truth is that officials fear the information could be leaked or compromised after it got to him.

The Journal cited multiple current and former officials with knowledge of the alleged withholding of information.

In response to the report, a White House spokesman told the newspaper: ‘There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening.’


Former Google CEO admits criminals were NOT taken into consideration when the internet was built in the 1970s

  • Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, was speaking at a conference this week
  • He said that ‘it didn’t occur to us that there were going to be criminals’
  • This year alone, there have been countless examples of hacking and data breaches, including attacks on PlayStation, Netflix and Amazon 

When the internet was first built in the 1970s, it was seen as one of the greatest innovations of our time.

But Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet and former CEO of Google, has suggested that the initial build of the net may have missed a trick.

Speaking at a security conference this week, Schmidt said that internet security is still an ongoing issue because ‘it didn’t occur to us that there were going to be criminals.’


Iran Warns Trump Against Disclosing Secret Iran Deal Documents

Iran claims disclosure threatens deal

Alaeddin Boroujerdi

Alaeddin Boroujerdi / AP

February 15, 2017 4:50 pm

Senior Iranian officials are warning the Trump administration about disclosing secret deals related to the nuclear deal that have long been hidden from the public by the Obama administration, according to recent comments that prompted pushback from senior sources on Capitol Hill.

Iran’s warning comes on the heels of a Washington Free Beacon report disclosing that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had been pushed out of office partly due to his intention to release these sensitive documents to the American public.

Leading lawmakers in Congress launched multiple investigations last year into the Obama administration’s efforts to keep these documents secret and out of public view. Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter said that the Trump White House is working on ways to publicize this information despite warnings from Iran


U.S. Army depicted Hillary Clinton as insider threat in cyber security training

– The Washington Times – Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The U.S. Army depicted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an insider threat in a Powerpoint presentation to soldiers on cyber security.

A photograph of Mrs. Clinton, who lost the Nov. 8 presidential race, is depicted along with two murderers, two leakers of classified information and one who mishandled secrets.

Mrs. Clinton, as secretary of State, exclusively used a home-based server to handle all her government emails, instead of a more secure state.gov address. Some contained highly classified information and the FBI said the server was vulnerable to foreign intrusion. She was not charged.

The others depicted: Food Hood assassin Maj. Nidal Hassan, Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, major leakers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and retired Army Gen. David Petraeus. He provided classified logs to his biographer and girlfriend.


Putin: NATO keeps trying to draw Russia into confrontation, meddle in internal affairs1.2K

NATO is constantly trying to draw Russia into a confrontation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. He added that members of the alliance continue to interfere in Russia’s domestic affairs.

The accusations came as Putin addressed senior members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB on Thursday. The president said that over the past years the global security situation “has not improved, but on the contrary, many existing threats have only become more serious.”

NATO with its “newly-declared official mission to deter Russia” is one such threat, Putin said.

“This is the goal behind the expansion of this military bloc. It happened before, but now they have found a new justification which they believe to be serious,” Putin said.

“In fact, they are constantly provoking us, trying to drag us into a confrontation,” Putin stated, adding that NATO members “are continuing their efforts to interfere in our domestic affairs with the goal of destabilizing social and political order in Russia proper.”


NATO members must boost defense spending, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis says

BRUSSELS — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday issued a sharp ultimatum to NATO Wednesday, telling allies they must start increasing defense spending by year’s end or the Trump administration will “moderate its commitment” to them.

He did not detail what the United States might do if NATO members failed to fall in line.

Echoing a demand made repeatedly by President Trump, Mattis said NATO must adopt a plan this year that sets milestone dates for governments to meet a military funding goal of 2 percent of gross domestic product.


Italy: Democratic Party Could Soon Fracture


A major split could soon take place in Italy’s Democratic Party over disagreements about the ambitions of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, La Stampa reported Feb. 16. Renzi, who recently stepped down as party head to trigger new leadership elections in a bid to shore up intraparty support, wants Italy to hold new parliamentary elections, possibly by this summer. A faction of members opposed to this plan has now surfaced. This group wants the government led by current Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to finish its mandate and hold elections in early 2018. According to leading members from this group, the faction has reached an agreement to create a new political party to the left of the Democratic Party, if Renzi refuses to agree to its position. With the Democratic Party set to hold a party summit over the coming weekend, things could quickly come to a head. The creation of a new, farther left party would lead to an even more fragmented parliament in Italy.



US pledges more support to Turkey’s Syria operation

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued assurances that the U.S.-led coalition will provide more support to Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation during his first meeting with his Turkish counterpart Fikri Işık late on Feb. 15 on the margins of a NATO summit in Brussels, according to Turkish officials.

Işık, meanwhile, repeated Ankara’s long-standing demand from the U.S. to cease its cooperation with Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) elements in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Turkish Defense Ministry official stated.

“Anti-terror operations cannot succeed in this way. One terrorist organization cannot be preferred over another one,” Işık reportedly said, referring to the fight against the ISIL.

Turkey sees the PYD and its military wing, the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), as terrorist organizations due to their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

At the NATO meeting in Brussels, Işık also met counterparts from Spain, Italy, the U.K. and France.

Meanwhile, a Syrian Kurdish leader said that Syrian Kurdish forces and their allies expect continued U.S. support for their war against ISIL in northern Syria and will fight Turkish forces if they advance towards Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital in Syria.


The Pentagon said it wouldn’t use depleted uranium rounds against ISIS. Months later it did. Thousands of times.

An A-10 Thunderbolt II. (Justin Connaher/ U.S. Air Force)
Months after the Pentagon said it wouldn’t use a controversial type of armor-piercing ammunition that has been blamed for long-term health complications, U.S. aircraft fired thousands of the rounds during two high-profile air raids in Syria in November 2015, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday.The use of the ammunition, a 30mm depleted-uranium bullet called PGU-14, was first reported by a joint Air Wars-Foreign Policy investigation on Tuesday. The roughly 5,265 rounds of the munition were fired from multiple A-10 ground attack aircraft on Nov 16, 2015, and Nov. 22, 2015, in airstrikes in Syria’s eastern desert that targeted the Islamic State’s oil supply during Operation Tidal Wave II, said Maj. Josh Jacques, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.

When loaded with depleted-uranium bullets the A-10’s fired what is called a “combat-mix,” meaning the aircraft’s cannon fires five depleted-uranium rounds to one high explosive incendiary bullet.


Boeing Machinists in South Carolina reject unionization

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Production workers at Boeing’s South Carolina plant have rejected an effort to unionize, maintaining Southern reluctance toward unionization and setting up a picture-perfect stop for President Trump, who visits the facilities this week.

CBS Charleston affiliate WCSC-TV cites Boeing officials as saying 74 percent of the votes cast Wednesday were against joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Officials say there were 2097 votes for no and 731 votes for yes.


  • What is commonly called the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” is, in fact, the “Arab-Israel conflict.”
  • Jordan illegally annexed the West Bank in 1950, and from that time Palestinian nationalism has been deadly for the Kingdom.
  • “I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror… to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts…. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror — it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempts to preserve the status quo.” — President George W. Bush, 2002.
  • “There’s no way a deal can be made if they’re not ready to acknowledge a very, very great and important country.” — President Donald J. Trump, 2017.
  • The burden, then, is on the Arab states and the Palestinianshttps://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9953/arab-israel-conflict

Deutsche Bank examined Trump’s account for Russia links

Bank looked for evidence of whether loans to president were underpinned by guarantees from Moscow, Guardian learns

The scandal-hit bank that loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to Donald Trumphas conducted a close internal examination of the US president’s personal account to gauge whether there are any suspicious connections to Russia, the Guardian has learned.

Deutsche Bank, which is under investigation by the US Department of Justice and is facing intense regulatory scrutiny, was looking for evidence of whether recent loans to Trump, which were struck in highly unusual circumstances, may have been underpinned by financial guarantees from Moscow.

The Guardian has also learned that the president’s immediate family are Deutsche clients. The bank examined accounts held by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, her husband, Jared Kushner, who serves as a White House adviser, and Kushner’s mother.


WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military officer will try to reopen a military dialogue with his Russian counterpart on Thursday amid tensions over Russia’s harassment of American warships, stepped-up fighting in eastern Ukraine and accusations that Moscow has violated a landmark arms control accord.

The meeting between Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, will take place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

Turkish forces bombard final IS bastion in Syria, killing 24 civilians

Turkish bombardment of an Islamic State (IS) group-held town in Syria has killed 24 civilians, a monitor said on Thursday, but Turkey’s army said only “terrorists” died in the operation.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead in air strikes and shelling on the town of Al-Bab in the last 24 hours included 11 children.

Turkey’s army, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency, said it had killed 15 “terrorists” in air strikes, artillery fire and clashes.

Al-Bab is IS’s final stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo and has come under fierce attack by Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels in recent months.


Turkey says U.S. not insisting on Kurdish role in Raqqa operation

Turkey’s defense minister said on Thursday the new U.S. administration has a more flexible approach to Syria and is not insisting on the Kurdish YPG militia being involved in the operation to drive Islamic State from its Raqqa stronghold.

U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance dominated by the YPG, has caused tensions with NATO ally Turkey, which views the Kurdish militia as an extension of militants fighting on its own soil.

“If we want the Raqqa operation to be successful, then it should be carried out with Arab forces in the region and not the YPG,” Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told reporters in Brussels.


NATO rules out military operations in Syria

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:20 P.M.) – The North American Treaty Organization (NATO) has ruled out military operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

With its largest member, the United States (U.S.), currently conducting field operations alongside the Kurdish-led “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) and “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) in northern Syria, rumors surfaced about possible NATO participation.

However, the NATO Secretary General believes there is no need for his organization’s participation in this six year long conflict


India and Russia seek to revive stalled helicopter venture


BENGALURU: India and Russia are nearing a joint venture to make light helicopters in India, reviving a plan announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015.

India needs to replace hundreds of ageing utility helicopters deployed along its Himalayan border with China as well as in Jammu and Kashmir region.

This means an initial order of 200 Kamov-226 helicopters, of which 140 will be built in India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s drive to build a domestic defence industrial base and cut imports, is expected to be increased.

And final documents relating to the $1 billion Kamov deal involving Russian Helicopters, Rosoboronexport and India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has been submitted to Putin, HAL’s chief T Suvarna Raju, told reporters on Wednesday.

NATO survival will depend on Germany

Europe is $100 billion short of strategic autonomy. Berlin could close that gap.

The United States will meet its commitments in Europe but NATO’s European members have to step up on their defense spending — that’s the message U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis will try to hammer home when he meets with European counterparts in Brussels.

What we’re not likely to hear is that the answer to the alliance’s spending woes largely hinges on just one country: Germany.


The parliamentary panel is investigating alleged eavesdropping in Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency and its relationship with German counterparts. The inquiry was launched a year after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of secret U.S. eavesdropping programs in 2013.

Reports later in 2013 that the NSA listened in on German government phones, including Merkel’s, prompted a diplomatic spat between Berlin and Washington that for a time soured otherwise good relations with the Obama administration.

Germany’s Merkel testifies on alleged US eavesdropping

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