March 2, 2017

French police raid presidential candidate Francois Fillon’s Paris home over claims he paid his wife for non-existant job with taxpayers’ money

  • Fillon raided by police as he prepared to make campaign speech 450 miles away
  • He faces prison over a fake jobs scandal involving his British-born wife Penelope
  • The couple have been summoned before a judge where they face being indicted
  • Charges include embezzlement, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison

The Paris home of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon was raided by police today – as he prepared to make a campaign speech 450 miles away.

Mr Fillon faces prison over a burgeoning fake jobs scandal involving his British-born wife Penelope.

The couple, both 62, have been summoned before a judge where they face being indicted for a range of charges including embezzlement, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Judicial police working to the examining magistrates today entered Mr Fillon’s Paris flat and ‘gathered evidence’ connected to the case, according to an investigating source.

Sweden to reintroduce conscription amid rising Baltic tensions

Draft will cover men and women born in 1999 or later, though only small minority will be selected to serve

Thursday 2 March 2017 Last modified on Thursday 2 March 2017

Sweden is to reintroduce conscription due to difficulties filling the ranks on a voluntary basis at a time of increased security concerns, the defence minister has said.

Sweden ended compulsory military service in 2010 but military activity in the Baltic region has increased after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, prompting Sweden to strengthen its military preparedness.

The draft will cover men and women born in 1999 or later, though only a small minority will be selected to serve.

The defence minister said the move was in response to a deteriorating security environment in Europe.

US forces conduct more than 20 airstrikes on al Qaeda in Yemen

The U.S. military battered al Qaeda’s Yemen branch with more than 20 airstrikes overnight Thursday in the first known military operation in the country since a controversial raid that left one Navy SEAL dead.

“U.S. forces conducted a series of precision strikes in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in the early morning of March 2 (Yemen time),” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement Thursday. “More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, al Bayda and Shabwah.”

The strikes were done in partnership with the Yemeni government, Davis added.

New American Spy Satellite Launches on Classified Mission

A new American satellite soared into Earth orbit today (March 1), kicking off a reconnaissance mission that’s shrouded in secrecy.

The NROL-79 satellite launched into space atop a two-stage United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at 12:49 p.m. EST (1749 GMT) today, rising off a pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

NROL-79 will be operated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which oversees the United States’ fleet of spy satellites. It’s unclear what NROL-79 will be doing, or where it will be orbiting; details about the spacecraft and its mission are classified.


Brussels chief’s vision for a Euro army: Juncker tells how he envisages member states ‘pooling’ resources and buying equipment together

  • EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker proposed defence cooperation after Brexit
  • Comes days after German military merged with Czech Republic and Romania
  • A recent UK report warned such plans for an ‘EU army’ are a threat to Nato

Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday outlined his vision for stronger military co-operation between EU nations – in what will be interpreted as a push towards an ‘EU army’.

In a blueprint on how the bloc will operate after Brexit, he envisaged a European defence union in which member states will ‘pool’ military resources and even buy equipment together.

The European Commission President said in one such scenario, defence cooperation would be ‘deepened’ and more money would be poured into EU missions abroad.

Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday outlined his vision for stronger military co-operation between EU nations – in what will be interpreted as a push towards an ‘EU army’

Joint procurement was put forward as one idea, with more integrated capabilities between member states.

His white paper came just days after the German military merged one of its divisions with Czech and Romanian brigades.

Iran reportedly poised for weapons shopping spree after UN ban is lifted

Iran is poised to go on a major military shopping spree in 2020, after a United Nations ban prohibiting the country from purchasing sophisticated weapons is lifted.

Bloomberg, citing a report from the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, reported that Iran will be shopping for surface warships, submarines and anti-ship missiles.

Tehran will be able to make purchases “that have been inaccessible since sanctions were imposed,” the report said.’

The lifting of the ban was part of the landmark nuclear agreement Tehran reached with the U.S. and world powers in July 2015. The new report could influence Congress to place new sanctions Iran for its state-sponsored terrorism efforts and its ballistic-missile tests.

Iranian film hails demise of US Navy in imagined Gulf battle

Director of animated ‘Battle of the Persian Gulf II,’ 4 years in the making, warns Washington of ‘a rain of hot lead’ in response to any attack

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — In a climactic battle at sea, an Iranian commander orders his forces to open fire on a much larger US fleet, obliterating it with a barrage of rockets, some of which tear American flags from their masts.

The scenario unfolds in “Battle of the Persian Gulf II,” a new Iranian animated film more than four years in the making that imagines a devastating response to an American attack on the country’s nuclear program.

It might have seemed out of date this time last year, when a nuclear accord reached with world powers had lifted sanctions and raised hopes for a broader rapprochement between Iran and the West.

Navy CO Fired After Ship Runs Aground in Japan

The skipper of the guided-missile cruiser Antietam has been removed from his post, a month after the ship ran aground in Tokyo Bay.

Capt. Joseph Carrigan was released by Task Force 70 Commander Rear Adm. Charles Williams due to loss of confidence in Carrigan’s ability to command, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced Wednesday in a release.

While investigations into the damage sustained by the ship and how to repair it are ongoing, a command investigation examining leadership actions at the time of the incident revealed grounds to remove Carrigan, a PACFLEET spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, told

Russian sale of fighter jets to UAE highlights shift toward Kremlin amid U.S. hesitancy

In late February, Russian media reported that the country signed an agreement to sell a number of Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates and help the Gulf state develop a next-generation fighter that could enter service in seven or eight years.

News of the deal between the Kremlin and the UAE came amid murmurs that Moscow is close to capping off a similar deal to send 10 Flanker-E jets to Indonesia and that Russia is slated to send a second batch of the same warplanes to China.

These deals — and similar ones across the globe – highlight the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing use of the Eurasian nation’s defense industry as a diplomatic tool on the world stage and one that appears bent on currying favor among countries with longstanding ties to the United States.

Donald Trump ‘considering military force against North Korea over its nuclear weapons threat’

US officials have reportedly discussed options to tackle North Korea in the wake of fresh provocations including the launch of a ballistic missile

The White House is considering using military force to counter North Korea’s nuclear threat, according to an internal review.

US officials are believed to have discussed the option along with regime change to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

President Trump’s security advisor K.T. McFarland reportedly held a meeting two weeks ago in the wake of fresh provocations from North Korea.

There, security officials are understood to have discussed the possibility of a plan “outside the mainstream”.

Among the options reportedly debated was the US to recognise North Korea as a nuclear state and the possibility of a military conflict, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The revelation has apparently sparked fresh fears of conflict.

The President described North Korea as the country’s “greatest immediate threat”, a senior aide said on Tuesday.

Russia’s Big ‘Guns’ are Firing a Very Different Type of ‘Bullet’ These Days

March 1, 2017

Under the Russian concept, the UAV would be launched via a 300mm rocket shot from a Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) at ranges of roughly 90 kilometers. Once the rocket is over the target area, the drone is released at a height of 500m. The aircraft has an endurance of 20 minutes and can survey area of approximately 25 square kilometers.

“Technologically, at our own expense, we have already carried out such work,” Nikolai Makarovets, general designer for NPO-Splav told the TASS news agency. “We do not hide the hope that we will have customers in the near future.”

Researcher Sam Bendett at CNA Corporation, who specializes in Russian military affairs, said that the new system—which TASS did not name in its report—is inline with current Russian unmanned systems development.

Cement multinational: deals made with armed groups in Syria

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