February 20, 2017

Trump names McMaster new national security adviser

President Trump has picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his new national security adviser, filling a key vacancy left by the ouster of former top security aide Michael Flynn.

The president called McMaster, a career Army officer, “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”

Trump made the announcement Monday at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., where he had been interviewing a number of candidates for the job.

His decision comes one week after he dismissed Flynn for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and others about whether he discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia’s ambassador during the transition.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320367-trump-names-new-national-security-adviser

 

Pence says NATO defense costs must be ‘shared fairly’ by Europe – and warns that America’s patience ‘will not endure forever’

  • Said European nations need to speed up plans to contribute two percent of their gross national income to NATO
  • With NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, Pence reiterated the Trump administration’s position that NATO costs are not shared fairly
  • The U.S. leader declined to make new threats to nations that don’t pay up, but he warned, ‘The patience of the American people will not endure’
  • Capping the European trip aimed at allaying fears, Pence said Washington’s backing for the EU remained ‘steadfast and enduring
  • Pence said the United States would remain ‘full partners’ with the EU in fighting terrorism – a Trump priority 

Vice President Mike Pence says European nations need to speed up plans to contribute two percent of their gross national income to NATO and encourage other member nations to do the same.

At a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday in Brussels, Pence reiterated the Trump administration’s position ‘that for too long, for too many’ the burden of paying for NATO has ‘not been shared fairly among our NATO allies.

‘That must come to an end,’ the vice president said.

The U.S. leader declined to make new threats to nations that don’t pay up, but he warned, ‘The patience of the American people will not endure.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4240972/Pence-takes-charm-offensive-EU-NATO.html#ixzz4ZHqhTPKE

Gallup poll: Greece would choose Russia as ally over NATO

A divide between Orthodox and Catholic west appears, according to poll

According to a multi-nation Gallup poll published, Greece and three other NATO member-states would prefer Russia fighting on their side! By far the largest number of countries polled by WIN/Gallup International chose the U.S. for their go-to defense partner, suggesting that it remains the world’s only military power with truly global reach and alliances, but Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Turkey, all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chose Russia as their fighting partner. Another interesting finding showed that Russia and China would pick each other as allies in the event of military conflict.

The findings revealed how the geopolitical security concerns had shifted, with Greece and Bulgaria seeing Turkey, a partner of both in NATO, as the number one threat for their security. Although Turkey is also a NATO member and so theoretically an ally, its invasion and occupation of Northern Cyprus in 1974 showed that these countries cannot rely on NATO to protect them, so they look to Russia. The Gallup poll also broadly reflects a divide between the Orthodox Christian world and Western Christianity, with Orthodox Greece and Bulgaria opting for Russia, while Ukraine and Bosnia Herzegovina — which are also religiously divided — split down the middle.

http://www.tornosnews.gr/en/greek-news/politics/23217-gallup-poll-greece-would-choose-russia-as-ally-over-nato.html

 

TSA allows JFK passengers to walk through security checkpoint without being screened

Eleven passengers. some of whom set off metal detectors, were never checked by TSA agents at JFK airport, according to sources.

Eleven unidentified passengers walked through a security lane without being screened at Kennedy Airport early Monday because the TSA left the area open and unattended, law enforcement sources said.A security camera captured a metal detector going off three times as the travelers walked through the screening lane, the sources said.There was no one present to operate the magnetometer, the x-ray machine and do the pat downs and secondary screening, the sources said.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/tsa-jfk-passengers-bypass-security-checkpoint-article-1.2977418

 

U.S. Air Force deploys WC-135 nuclear sniffer aircraft to UK as spike of radioactive Iodine levels is detected in Europe

Feb 19 20173 Comments

The USAF WC-135C Constant Phoenix might be investigating a spike in radioactive levels in Norway. Someone speculates the release of this radionuclide could be the effect of a Russian nuclear test.

On Feb. 17, 2017, U.S. Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion “sniffer,” serial number 62-3582, using radio callsign “Cobra 55” deployed to RAF Mildenhall, UK.

As we have already reported the WC-135 is a derivative of the Boeing C-135 transport and support plane. Two of these aircraft are in service today out of the ten examples operated since 1963. The aircraft are flown by flight crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base while mission crews are staffed by Detachment 1 from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

The WC-135, known as the “sniffer” or “weather bird” by its crews, can carry up to 33 personnel. However, crew compliments are kept to a minimum during mission flights in order to lessen levels of radioactive exposure.

Effluent gasses are gathered by two scoops on the sides of the fuselage, which in turn trap fallout particles on filters. The mission crews have the ability to analyze the fallout residue in real-time, helping to confirm the presence of nuclear fallout and possibly determine the characteristics of the warhead involved: that’s why the aircraft is important to confirm the type of explosion of today’s test.

https://theaviationist.com/2017/02/19/u-s-air-force-deploys-wc-135-nuclear-sniffer-aircraft-to-uk-after-spike-of-radioactive-iodine-levels-detected-in-europe/

 

Russian MIG corporation plans to sell MIG-35 fighter jets to Middle East

Russian MiG-35 fighter
Russia’s MiG corporation, incorporated into United Aircraft Corporation, or UAC, plans to sell its new-generation MiG-35 fighter jets on the Middle Eastern markets, MiG’s Director General Ilya Tarasenko said on Feb. 19.”MiG plans to promote its MiG-35 fighter jets in the Middle East. These aircraft may satisfy the region’s demand in terms of both the flying range and other characteristics. We plan to market the Mig-35 in the Middle East,” he told TASS on the sidelines of the IDEX 2017 international defense exhibition.http://rbth.com/news/2017/02/19/mig_705443

 

Armata T-15 and Kurganets-25 IFVs Will Get ‘Smart Ammunition’ Starting Next Year

On Monday, Tekhmash, the company developing shells for the Armata T-15 and Kurganets-25 infantry fighting vehicles, announced that all-new smart munitions will be delivered by next year.

Speaking to RIA Novosti on the sidelines of the IDEX-2017 defense exhibition in the UAE on Monday, Tekhmash director Sergei Rusakov said that smart ammunition for the T-15 heavy IFV, and the Armata platform-based Kurganets-25 IFV, will be delivered in 2018, the same year that mass production of the T-14 main battle tank is expected to begin.

Tekhmash is now engaged in preparatory work on the integration of the smart munitions technology into heavy armored vehicles, Rusakov explained, and is doing so with the help of JSC Pribor, a Moscow-headquartered defense concern engaged in the production of automatic guns, ammunition and other military products. “Given the significant amount of work involved in the preparation and carrying out of state tests, adopting these munitions may not occur before 2018,” the official said.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201702201050881203-armata-ifv-kurganets-ifv-smart-bombs/

 

Global arms trade reaches highest point since cold war era

Middle East almost doubles weapons imports, as US and Europe remain the main suppliers and China joins top-tier exporters

Iran correspondent

The global transfer of major weapons systems rose over the past five years to the highest volume since the end of the cold war as the Middle East nearly doubled its imports, according to an annual report on arms sales.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday that more weapons were delivered between 2012 and 2016 than any other five-year period since 1990. Saudi Arabia, which leads a military intervention in Yementhat has cost hundreds of civilian lives, was the world’s second largest importer after India, increasing its intake by 212%, mainly from the US and the UK.

Asia was the main recipient region in the world as India dwarfed regional rivals, China and Pakistan, by accounting for 13% of the global imports. While India received most of its arms from Russia, the Saudis relied heavily on US arms. US and Russia together supplied more than half of all exports. China, France and Germany were also among the top five exporters.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/global-arms-weapons-trade-highest-point-since-cold-war-era

Rockets fired into southern Israel from Egypt’s Sinai

No casualties as two handmade rockets land in Eshkol region day after Isis claims four members were killed by Israeli drone

in Jerusalem

Two rockets, apparently fired by Islamic militants in Egypt’s northern Sinai, have landed in southern Israel. The attack came a day after an Isis affiliate claimed that several of its members had been killed by an Israeli drone.

The incident is the second within the space of a month after four missiles were fired towards the Israeli Red Sea city of Eilat, suggesting an increase in tensions on Israel’s southern border.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/rockets-fired-into-southern-israel-from-egypts-sinai

Israel boosts missile defenses against Hezbollah

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Israel’s midlevel anti-missile system known as David’s Sling is close to becoming operation­al just as tensions are building once more between the United States and Iran.

The system passed its final tests in January amid expectations that it could soon be deployed to de­fend sensitive sites in Israel against Hezbollah’s arsenal of missiles and rockets, estimated by Israel at about 140,000 of all types.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Voices/2017/02/20/Israel-boosts-missile-defenses-against-Hezbollah/6251487596746/

Arab Israeli charged with planning TA bus bombing, teaching IS how to make nerve gas

Anas Haj Yihya allegedly intended to blow up bus full of soldiers on Dizengoff Street on behalf of Islamic State

Anas Haj Yihya, a 35-year-old Arab Israeli man accused of planning to carry out terror attacks in Israel on behalf of the Islamic State. (Shin Bet)

Anas Haj Yihya, a 35-year-old Arab Israeli man accused of planning to carry out terror attacks in Israel on behalf of the Islamic State. (Shin Bet)

An Arab Israeli man was charged with planning terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State group, including bus bombings directed against IDF soldiers, according to an indictment filed against him on Monday. He also allegedly distribute information to IS members on how to create a deadly nerve gas.

The suspect, Anas Haj Yihya, was charged in a Tel Aviv court with belonging to a terrorist organization and with multiple counts of contact with a foreign agent.

In May, one of Yihya’s Islamic State contacts, Muhammad Abdel Rawi, told him to carry out attacks against soldiers, including blowing up a bus filled with soldiers on central Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, which he agreed to, according to the charge sheet.

Three months later, Yihya apparently attempted to create an explosive device, asking a gardener to get him fertilizer, but his request was denied, according to the indictment.

Yihya also allegedly used the Telegram messaging application to distribute information to IS members on how to create sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent, how to manufacture explosive belts and bombs with cellphone triggers, and which poisons can be added to explosives in order to make them more lethal.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-israeli-charged-with-joining-is-planning-tel-aviv-bus-bombing/

UAE Buys New Ship Saving Missiles

 UAE Navy buys Raytheon-made RAM Block 2s

The UAE Navy has signed a multi-million dollar direct commercial sale for an undisclosed amount of American defence giant Raytheon’s highly sophisticated Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAMs), which are amongst the most advanced ship-defence weapons in existence.

The supersonic, lightweight, quick reaction missiles will be used to protect the UAE’s Baynunah-class corvettes – which are used for surveillance, interception and coastal patrol missions – from anti-ship missiles, helicopters, aircraft and enemy surface vessels.

 

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Alan Davis, Raytheon’s Program Director for Short Range Defence Systems, Naval and Area Mission Defense, noted that versions of the RAMs systems are currently already being used by eight navies, including America’s.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/abu-dhabi/uae-buys-new-ship-saving-missiles

 

French music festival is cancelled at the last minute after a ‘credible’ tip-off that a ‘bloodbath’ was about to take place

  • The Lignerock Festival, in west-central France, was cancelled on Saturday night
  • The show was called off just minutes before doors were opening for the show
  • It came after a caller told the local police station in an anonymous call: ‘There will be a bloodbath in Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron tonight’ 
  • Festival organisers received two similar phone calls before the start of the show
  • Four bands were expected to perform at the show: Apes O’Clock, Les Bidons De L’An Fer, Les Cameleons and Eugene De Rastignac

A music festival in France was cancelled at the last minute this weekend over fears of a terror attack after organisers received a series of phone calls threatening a ‘bloodbath’.

The Lignerock Festival, which was scheduled to take place in the Vendée department of Pays-de-la-Loire region in west-central France, was cancelled just minutes before showtime on Saturday night.

It came after a caller told the local police station in an anonymous call: ‘There will be a bloodbath in Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron tonight.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4241982/French-music-festival-cancelled-bloodbath-threats.html#ixzz4ZEHD0uIf

Four million people could flee to Europe if Britain pulls out of Afghanistan, warns defence minister

  • Sir Michael Fallon admitted Britain and Nato cannot pull troops from Afghanistan
  • Migrants could travel to the UK if the war-ravaged country is left abandoned
  • If Afghanistan collapses Europe would feel the consequences directly, he said 
  • Troops must remain there because terror groups from 2001 still pose a threat 

Sir Michael Fallon admitted the UK and Nato cannot pull troops out of Afghanistan because the terrorist groups that existed there when soldiers deployed in 2001 remain and ‘still pose a threat’.

As the Ministry of Defence considers sending more troops to the country, Sir Michael warned that if Afghanistan collapses, Europe ‘will feel the consequences, very directly’.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4240580/4m-flee-Afghanistan-Britain-pulls-country.html#ixzz4ZEIDWUyR

White House Fires Senior NSC Aide for Harsh Trump Criticism

February 18, 2017 9:05 pm

The White House on Friday fired a senior National Security Council aide after learning that he severely criticized President Donald Trump and his top aides, including daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, at an event in Washington, D.C.

The aide, Craig Deare, was dismissed by the Trump administration after he castigated the administration’s senior officials at an off-the-record roundtable hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a think tank based in the nation’s capital, Politico reported Saturday.

Deare served as the NSC’s senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs and was previously the dean of administration at National Defense University.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/white-house-fires-senior-nsc-aide-trump-criticism/

‘We see a president who’s pragmatic and practical, a businessman, problem-solver’

Praising Trump, Saudi FM urges progress toward peace with Israel

Days after Trump and Netanyahu talk of regional deal, Adel al-Jubeir says his country ready to stand with others in Arab world ‘to promote’ a deal

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said he is optimistic that Arabs and Israelis can reach a peace deal in 2017.

Speaking four days after US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a White House press conference about the possibilities of a regional peace agreement, Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian accord were clear, and that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states would work to bring it to fruition.

“I believe progress can be made in the Arab-Israel conflict, if there is a will to do so,” he said. “We know what the settlement looks like, if there is just the political will to do so. And my country stands ready with other Arab countries to work to see how we can promote that.”

He said the new US administration made him optimistic that this and other regional challenges could be resolved.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/praising-trump-saudi-fm-urges-progress-toward-israeli-arab-peace/

Hezbollah said to have obtained ‘game-changing’ anti-ship missiles

Russian-made Yakhont would give Lebanese terror group the ability to strike Israeli gas platforms and ships in the Mediterranean

A Yakhont missile at a Russian air show in 1997 (photo credit: CC BY-SA, JNO, Wikimedia Commons)

A Yakhont missile at a Russian air show in 1997 (photo credit: CC BY-SA, JNO, Wikimedia Commons)

The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has obtained advanced Russian-made anti-ship missiles, potentially threatening Israeli gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea and the Israeli Navy’s ability to operate in the area, according to a report published Sunday.Hezbollah’s possession of the Yakhont missiles was revealed by unnamed Western intelligence officials over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference, where world leaders and defense ministers are meeting to discuss major security issues, according to a report in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The report did not reveal in what forum the revelations were made.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hezbollah-said-to-have-obtained-game-changing-anti-ship-missiles/

Russia rejects claim of Montenegro plot

Russia has denounced as absurd and unsubstantiated allegations that “Russian state bodies” were involved in an attempted coup in the Balkan state of Montenegro.

The alleged plot dates back to a series of arrests hours before Montenegro’s elections in October 2016.

At the time, Serb paramilitaries and Russian nationalists were blamed.

But prosecutor Milivoje Katnic has now named a Russian military figure as behind the alleged mission.

He said a Serb nationalist figure had been invited to Moscow by Eduard Sismakov, a former deputy military attache to Poland, with the aim of preventing Montenegro from joining Nato.

The alleged plotters are said to have planned to assassinate Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39027315

Iran launches ‘advanced’ rockets during military exercises

An Iranian semi-official news agency is reporting that the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard has launched sophisticated rockets during military exercises.

The Monday report by Tasnim, an agency considered to be close to the Revolutionary Guard, said the launch of “smart and advanced” rockets came during an annual three-day maneuver which began on Monday in Iran’s central desert.

The report did not elaborate on the model of the rockets…

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/20/iran-launches-advanced-rockets-during-military-exercises.html

4 Russian servicemen killed in car blast in Syria – MoD

Four Russian servicemen were killed in Syria on February 16, when a radio controlled bomb targeting a Syrian military convoy exploded, the Russian Defense Ministry has said in a statement.

Two other Russian servicemen were injured in the blast, the Ministry added.

The vehicle had been part of a Syrian Army convoy traveling to the city of Homs from the Tiyas airfield in central Syria’s Homs Province.

Russian military advisers were in the car when it blew up, according to the ministry’s statement.

https://www.rt.com/news/377947-russian-servicemen-killed-syria/

BRITISH TROOPS FRESH OFFENSIVE

SAS troops to fight alongside Iraqi and Kurdish fighters to free Iraq’s second largest city from ISIS

British Special Forces lead fresh offensive to liberate 650,000 Iraqi civilians in Mosul

BRITISH Special Forces led a fresh offensive yesterday in a bid to liberate western Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq.

SAS troops along with the U.S. Green Beret and Delta Force commandos are aiming to retake the area from Islamic State.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2905894/sas-troops-to-fight-alongside-iraqi-and-kurdish-fighters-to-free-iraqs-second-largest-city-from-isis/

Battle for Mosul: Iraqi forces storm key village near airport

  • Iraqi forces storm village overlooking Mosul airport
  • Long-awaited operation to retake western part of city began Sunday

(CNN)US-backed Iraqi forces have stormed a key village overlooking Mosul’s airport “and are continuing to clear it” of ISIS fighters, the Iraqi army said Monday, less than 48 hours after an offensive was launched to retake control of the western part of the city.

Iraqi Commander of the Operation General Abdal Amir Yar Allah said in a statement that the federal police and the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Deployment Force were battling ISIS in Albu Saif village, less than 2 kilometers from the airport.

‘President Erdogan assassination plot’ trial opens in TurkeyText

by FRANCE 24

A trial of almost 50 suspects accused of plotting to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the botched July 15 coup opened Monday in southern Turkey.

Forty-four suspects — mainly soldiers — face possible life sentences on charges that include attempted assassination, overthrow of the constitutional order and other crimes against the state during the 2016 coup attempt.

“Most of them are soldiers up to the rank of brigadier general, three of them are still at large, including the number one accused, Fethullah Gulen, the Islamic cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and who is alleged to be the mastermind of the July 15 coup attempt,” explained FRANCE 24’s Jasper Mortimer, reporting from the southwestern Turkish city of Mugla.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170220-turkey-erdogan-assassination-plot-trial-coup-gulen

Turkey dismisses 227 more judges, prosecutors in post-coup probe: AA

Turkey dismissed 227 more judges and prosecutors on Monday as part of investigations into last July’s failed coup, the state-run Anadolu agency said, meaning close to 4,000 members of the judiciary have now been purged.

Turkish authorities have detained, sacked or dismissed more than 100,000 people from the police, military, public service, judiciary, and elsewhere since the abortive coup over suspected ties to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the putsch.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-judges-idUSKBN15Z1PG?il=0

 

Terror fears in France after knifeman goes berserk in town where al-Qaeda killed two Muslim soldiers

The 32-year-old struck in the town of Montauban, north of Toulouse where a terror attack two years ago left France stunned

 

A knife-wielding attacker was shot by police in south west France today (sun) after wounding a woman in the shoulder.

The unnamed assailant, who is said to be 32 and from the French overseas territory of Reunion Island, struck in the town of Montauban, north of Toulouse.

It is where an al-Qaeda operative killed two Muslim French soldiers five years ago, prompting fears that today’s incident might be terrorist related.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/terror-fears-france-after-knifeman-9850941

Star of postwar German cinema was Soviet spy, declassified files show

Marika Rökk revealed as Soviet agent working from 1940s onwards for network passing Third Reich secrets to Moscow

Marika Rökk
Marika Rökk, whose career began during the Nazi era, went on to star in almost 40 films until her death at the age of 90 in 2004. Photograph: Ronald Grant
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