March 9, 2017

REVEALED: Russia is now suspected of giving WikiLeaks documents about CIA hacking which US officials say contain ‘authentic information’

  • Senior US officials say the WikiLeaks documents on CIA hacking are authentic
  • Officials also believe that Russia may have played a part in obtaining documents
  • WikiLeaks has denied accusations that it is a tool of the Russian government
  • FBI has launched criminal probe aimed at finding source of leaked documents 

The documents released by WikiLeaks that purport to show how the CIA hacks into electronic devices are authentic – with Russia being eyed as the possible culprit behind the leak.

A senior US official says that the WikiLeaks documents do contain authentic information about CIA hacking techniques, NBC News reported.

The report also quotes US intelligence sources as saying that the Russian government is believed to be behind the revelations.

Moscow, which has been blamed by the US for attempting to influence the results of the 2016 presidential election by hacking into Democratic Party computers, has been accused of having ties to WikiLeaks.

Drones threatened nuclear facilities

– The Washington Times – Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Drone aircraft recently carried out unauthorized intrusions over Air Force and Navy nuclear facilities, and the incidents pose a growing threat, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command disclosed to Congress Wednesday.

Gen. John E. Hyten revealed the drone threats in written testimony before the House Armed Services Committee for a hearing on nuclear deterrence.

“Of recent concern have been the unauthorized flights of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) over Navy and Air Force installations,” Gen. Hyten said. “These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel.”

Currently, the Navy and Air Force are planning to deploy counter-unmanned aerial system defenses that Gen. Hyten said will “effectively detect, track and, if necessary, engage small UAS vehicles.”

The commander said protecting U.S. nuclear forces and facilities is a top priority.

“We are continually assessing threats to ensure our security apparatus is capable of denying unauthorized access or use of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Russia denies deploying cruise missile in treaty breach

Story highlights

  • Russia sticks to international obligations, even against its interests, Kremlin spokesman says
  • US Gen. Paul Selva says Russia violated the “spirit and intent” of the 1987 INF Treaty

Moscow (CNN)Russia rejects claims it has deployed a cruise missile in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.

“Russia has been, remains and will remain committed to all international obligations, including those arising from the INF Treaty,” Peskov said.

“I want to remind you of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s words about the fact that Russia sticks to the international obligations, even if in situations where sometimes it doesn’t correspond to Russia’s interests. Russia still remains committed to its obligations, so we disagree and reject any accusations on this point.”

Peskov was responding to an allegation from Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, in testimony Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee.

Israel worried IS could launch chemical attack in Europe — report

Counter-Terrorism Bureau to highlight threats from jihadists returning to their home countries; warning to travelers to remain alert during upcoming holidays, particularly in Europe, India and Thailand

Israel is concerned that Islamic State terrorists facing defeat in the Middle East are planning to return to their home countries and carry out attacks there, including a possible chemical attack in Europe, Channel 2 TV news reported Thursday.

The report said Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau is poised to issue a series of travel warnings ahead of the Passover holidays calling on Israelis travelling to Western Europe, India and Thailand to exercise extreme caution.

The report stressed that the warnings have not yet been issued.

US sends hundreds of marines to Syria to support fight against Isis

Boots on the ground near Raqqa a sign that the White House will give military chiefs more freedom to tackle Islamic State

A few hundred marines with heavy artillery have been deployed to Syria in preparation for the fight to oust Islamic State from its self-declared headquarters of Raqqa, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

The deployment is temporary but is a sign Donald Trump’s White House is leaning toward giving the Pentagon greater flexibility in making routine combat decisions in the fight against Isis.

Military commanders frustrated by what they considered micromanagement under the previous administration have argued for greater freedom to make daily decisions on how best to fight the enemy.

The marines moving into Syria are positioning howitzers to be ready to help local Syrian forces, said the official, who was not authorised to discuss the deployment publicly.

In addition, the US is preparing to send hundreds of troops to Kuwait to be ready to fight Isis there if needed, the official said. The number would be fewer than 1,000, the official said.

The latest troop movements come on the heels of the recent temporary deployment of dozens of army forces to the outskirts of Manbij, Syria, in what the Pentagon called a “reassure and deter” mission. Flying American flags and moving in large, heavily armoured vehicles, the troops were there to keep a lid on tensions in the area, the Pentagon said.

It appeared the forces were largely there to ensure Turkish fighters and Syrian opposition groups focused on battling Isis rather than each other.

Russian destabilisation of Balkans rings alarm bells as EU leaders meet

Top MEP David McAllister says bloc must be more visible in the region to counter Kremlin’s growing influence 

in Brussels

The European Union needs to be more visible in the western Balkans to counter Russian attempts to destabilise the region, a leading MEP has said, as EU leaders gather for a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

“Geopolitics has returned to the Balkans,” said David McAllister, a German MEP and chair of the European parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

“We are seeing the growing Russian influence, we are seeing growing Turkish influence, the United States is a player, the European Union is a player, so there are different interests at stake,” he said.

But it was Russia’s role that he described as negative, citing the Kremlin’s suspected involvement in a failed coup in Montenegro and Moscow’s support forhardline nationalist leaders in the region.

Russia was also exerting influence on political debate by organising anti-western, and anti-EU propaganda, McAllister said, especially in Serbian-language media outlets that promoted the Kremlin’s world view, as well as “conspiracy theories and Serbian ultranationalism”.

Angela Merkel hits back at Turkish claims of ‘Nazi-style practices’

Chancellor criticises comments by Turkish president, who attacked Germany for cancelling rallies for Turkish citizens

Turkey’s accusations of “Nazi-style practices” in Germany cannot be tolerated and need to stop, Angela Merkel has said.

In her strongest reaction so far, the German chancellor told parliament that comments by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and other Turkish officials had saddened her “because comparisons with Nazi Germany always lead to misery, to the trivialisation of the crimes against humanity committed by national socialism”.

Merkel described the comments as “misplaced” and “unjustifiable”, but also warned of the dangers of breaking off diplomatic relations with Turkey. “We want to live our basic values in the way we think it right”.

“We will not allow the victims of the Nazis to be trivialised,” she said. “These comparisons with the Nazis must stop.”

Top Generals: U.S. Has ‘Squeezed’ the Life Out of Aging Nuclear Deterrence Systems

Nuclear triad depending on ‘just-in-time’ modernization

The U.S. military is relying on zero-hour modernization to maintain its aging nuclear arsenal as an effective deterrent against adversaries, according to two top U.S. generals.

Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the United States cannot defer nuclear modernization without “significant risk” to its deterrent capabilities, particularly as other countries like Russia and China are working to revolutionize their forces.

“These systems will not remain viable forever. In fact, we are now at a point where we must concurrently recapitalize each component of our nuclear deterrent,” Selva testified Wednesday.

WikiLeaks, CIA probe to focus on outside contractors

Investigators working to find the source of this week’s Wikileaks dump are likely set to focus on outside contractors for the CIA, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A disaffected insider– not a foreign government—is believed to be behind the leak of thousands of documents on the CIA’s cyberspying capabilities, investigators told The New York Times.

The FBI is hunting to find the responsible party for the leak and is set to interview possibly more than a thousand people who may have had access to the leaked information, the paper reported. The scope of the investigation will even reach contractors outside the CIA, The Times report said.

Documents released Tuesday by WikiLeaks allege a CIA surveillance program that targets everyday gadgets ranging from smart TVs to smartphones to cars.

WikiLeaks will give tech firms access to CIA hacking tools: Assange

In the wake of WikiLeaks’ massive document dump belonging to the CIA, Washington is scrambling to figure out the source. Nathan Rousseau Smith (@fantasticmrnate) has the latest.

WikiLeaks will allow tech companies access to much more detailed information about CIA hacking techniques so they can “develop fixes” before the information is widely published, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday.

Assange spoke two days after WikiLeaks published thousands of documents it said revealed hacking tools the CIA developed to break into servers, smartphones, computers and TVs. The online news conference took place at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where Assange has been holed up since seeking asylum in 2012.

“The Central Intelligence Agency lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal,” Assange said. “This is an historic act of devastating incompetence to have created such an arsenal and stored it all in one place and not secured it.”

Assange said the website hasn’t published the tools themselves because it doesn’t want “journalists and people of the world, our sources, being hacked using these weapons.” He said some companies have approached The best way to avoid that, he said, is to give companies such as Apple, Google and Samsung access first.

Berlin concerned over possibility of new arms race in Europe – German FM

“We are concerned that a new spiral of the arms race may emerge in Europe,” he said, as cited by TASS. “It’s too early to say how and in what direction we could advance to prevent this.”

“Germany has demonstrated that it is a reliable partner,” Gabriel added. “We talk and do what we say. This applies to both complex decisions and decisions that we are embracing again.”

“Germany keeps its promise, and this is necessary for the whole of Europe,” Gabriel stressed. “German-Russian relations are extremely important for us.”

Russia and Germany should strive for disarmament in Europe, despite the likelihood of the resumption of the arms race, Gabriel said.

“Germany and Russia know better than many others that such arms races do not meet the interests of people in our countries,” Gabriel stressed. “Despite all the complex issues and disagreements, one must strive for the goal of disarmament in Europe. Despite all the problems, this goal remains one of the main concerns in Europe.”

#Vault7: ‘Pocket Putin’ – CIA’s covert listening tool revealed

WikiLeaks’ massive ‘Year Zero’ release on the CIA’s secret hacking techniques has revealed a covert listening post used by agents which may be named after Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to the confidential data release, the CIA has five secret “listening posts” called ‘Pocket Putin.’

Listening posts are used to monitor devices, such as computers and phones, which have been hacked with the CIA’s malware implants. Malware is a malicious software used to disrupt or infiltrate computers and mobile devices.

The ‘Pocket Putin’ listening posts are virtual and are stored on a CIA server.

The posts named after the Russian leader are used by the Operational Support Branch (OSB) of the CIA, which acts as a middleman between CIA operational staff and the agency’s technical support staff.

CIA case officers make requests to the OSB who then help turn those requests into hacking attacks on CIA targets.

The Putin listening posts are stored on the OSB’s big server, known as the ESXi, which is used to deploy and service an array of virtual computers operated by the spy agency.

While the documents don’t detail where the ‘Pocket Putins’ are used, or the content they collect, listening posts are used to monitor and communicate with malware which has already infected computers and other devices.

According to the documents, the OSB boasts that its projects have “the dankest Trojans and collection tools.”

Netanyahu tells Putin that Iran must not replace IS in Syria

On whirlwind visit to Moscow, PM seeks to counter Tehran’s entrenchment in region, also to discuss ongoing coordination in Syria’s skies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their meeting in Moscow on March 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Pavel Golovkin)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their meeting in Moscow on March 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Pavel Golovkin)


“One of the things that we are fighting against together is radical Islamic terrorism. Of course, there was significant progress last year in the fight against the terrorism of radical Sunni Islam led by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and Russia has a very important contribution,” Netanyahu said ahead of his meeting with the Russian president.

“It’s obvious that we wouldn’t want this terror to be replaced by radical Islamic Shiite terror led by Iran,” he said.

While Russia has played a major role over the last year in Syria combating the Islamic State and the Syrian rebels, Israel is concerned that the Kremlin not allow Iran, Russia’s ally in supporting Syrian strongman Bashar Assad, a permanent foothold in the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their meeting in Moscow on March 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Pavel Golovkin)

Later, at the Kremlin, Netanyahu thanked Putin for his wishes ahead of the Jewish festival of Purim, which starts Saturday night, noting that modern Iran now threatens the Jews as the ancient Persians did then.

“Twenty-five hundred years ago in ancient Persia, there was an attempt to wipe out the Jewish nation that was unsuccessful, which is being marked with this holiday,” the prime minister said.

“Here today in Persia’s successor, Iran, there is another attempt to wipe out the Jewish state. They say this as clearly as possible. They inscribe it on their ballistic missiles,” he said.

Netanyahu said that Iran was a threat not just to Israel, but to the whole region.

“Today, Israel is a state with an army and we are able to defend ourselves. But the threat of Shiite Islamic extremism is not just a threat to us, but rather to the entire region and world peace. I know that we share the desire to prevent any victory for radical Islam from any direction,” he said.

During the meeting, Putin said he was “very pleased” with his “close and trusting contact” with Netanyahu.


China developing military drones that can evade radar, anti-aircraft weapons – media

“As military reforms are drastically changing armed forces around the world, drones have become an indispensable weapon in modern warfare because they can play an important role in high-resolution reconnaissance, long-distance precision strikes, anti-submarine operations and aerial combat,” Wei Yiyin said.

The new products will be used to tap domestic and international markets.

The company also intends to make multi-purpose, stealth target aircraft to be used for training purposes, according to Wei.

CASIC is also interested in developing near-space drones, which would travel in Earth’s atmosphere at altitudes of 20 to 100km, above the top altitudes of commercial airliners but below orbiting satellites.The company is already selling its UAVs on the international market. The most popular are CH family drones, which have been sold to 10 countries’ armed forces.

US considering sending 1,000 troops to Kuwait to expand ‘options’ in IS fight – report

Move seen as part of broader effort to give US military leaders freer hand to deploy in Syria, Iraq against jihadist group

The US is considering sending 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait as a contingency force in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Reuters reported Wednesday.

According to the report, advocates of the plan say that it will grant US military commanders in the region the ability to respond swiftly to changes on the ground as groups backed by the US continue their advance on IS strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

“This is about providing options,” an unnamed US official told Reuters.

It is not known if US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who in his final role in the military as head of US Central Command was in charge of US forces in the Middle East, is in favor of the plan or is considering alternative options to grant commanders on the ground greater flexibility.

US officials who spoke with Reuters said the proposal is part of the review ordered by US President Donald Trump of the US military’s plans to defeat IS, which could include sending more ground troops to battle the terror group in Iraq and Syria.

Huntsman offered job of ambassador to Russia, White House official says

March 9 at 3:15 AM
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has offered former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman the position as U.S. ambassador to Russia, a high-profile and sensitive post amid investigations into contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

Trump made the offer to Huntsman earlier this week, according to a White House official not authorized to discuss the move publicly until it is announced. Huntsman has indicated that he will accept the post, the official said Wednesday. The former governor did not immediately return a request for comment.

Huntsman has twice before served as an ambassador. He was the nation’s top diplomat to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush and then served in that role in China under President Barack Obama. Huntsman, who ran for president in 2012, was also briefly under consideration to be Trump’s secretary of state.

The former governor, a Mormon, had an up-and-down relationship with Trump during last year’s campaign. He was slow to endorse any candidate for the Republican nomination though he did back Trump once he became the presumptive nominee. But Huntsman then called for Trump to drop out after the October release of a 2005 video in which Trump is captured on a hot microphone making lewd comments about women.

Former top spy chief: ‘No evidence’ Trump campaign aides recruited by Russia

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told ABC News he did not see anything to suggest that Russia successfully infiltrated Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or recruited any of Trump’s advisers – at least as of Jan. 20, when the retired three-star general left office.

“There was no evidence whatsoever, at the time, of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” Clapper, a career intelligence officer, told ABC News’ Brian Ross in an interview Monday for “World News Tonight.”

The Clapper comments came amid a fight between the Trump administration and the FBI over the wiretapping claim the President made in a series of early morning tweets Saturday from his Palm Beach getaway, in which he accused former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. The president compared it to the Watergate scandal but without backing that up with any explanation as to why he believes the eavesdropping occurred.

Clapper denied in the same interview that there were any wiretaps on Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, saying “there was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the National Intelligence Community.”

“None at all…including the FBI,” he said.

FBI Director James Comey asked the Trump Department of Justice — his supervisors — to publicly refute that claim, a senior official told ABC News. Comey felt Trump’s allegation had impugned the FBI’s reputation by suggesting agents conducted illegal or politically-motivated surveillance.

But the Justice Department has remained silent this week, leaving Comey, a Republican career law enforcement official appointed by Obama to a 10-year term, in an ethical bind. Two weeks ago, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to do something similar, to publicly refute the months’ of stories suggesting collusion between the Kremlin’s agents and Trump campaign operatives, but Comey had refused, White House aides acknowledged.© Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin

This is When Russia is Going to Start Churning Out Fifth-Gen T-50 Jets

Russia may start producing Sukhoi T-50 air superiority jets en masse after 2018, a deputy defense minister said.

The T-50 jet

KOMSOMOLSK-ON-AMUR (Sputnik) — The Russian Defense Ministry will consider the issue of Sukhoi T-50 (PAK FA) fifth-generation fighter aircraft procurement under the new state armament program for 2018-2025, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov said on Thursday.


“The aircraft is undergoing scheduled tests,” Borisov told reporters.

He added that Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft manufacturing plant would continue to supply prototypes of the aircraft for testing.

“Three new aircraft, which the company will deliver in 2017, will join the first stage of the testing program,” the official pointed out.

The T-50 is designed by the Russian Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer as part of the PAK FA, a fifth-generation fighter program of the Russian Aerospace Forces. It is a single-seat, twin-engine multirole fighter jet designed for air superiority and attack roles and equipped with advanced avionics system and an active phased array airborne radar. The first flight of the aircraft took place in 2010.

PAK FA (Advanced Tactical Air Sistem) T-50

US, Russia counter Erdogan in Syria as Kurds get shield

By HENRY MEYER AND SELCAN HACAOGLU | Bloomberg | Published: March 8, 2017


The U.S. and Russia have found themselves teaming up for the first time in the war in Syria — against a country both call an ally: Turkey.

The U.S. and Russia moved this week to block a threatened drive by Turkey to seize Manbij, a town in northern Syria about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Turkish border. A U.S. deployment and a Russian-brokered deal with Syrian forces created buffer zones that headed off any Turkish campaign against the Kurdish forces who hold the town — seen by Washington as key allies against Islamic State and by Turkey as terrorists.

As the outside powers fighting in Syria step up the fight to crush Islamic State, the battle is laying bare their often-conflicting loyalties. With all sides pushing into terrorist-held territory, the potential for clashes between the players is rising.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a central player thanks to his military campaign, but he must keep allies like Syria and Iran on his side even as tries to cooperate with the U.S. and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes to Moscow on Thursday with his defense minister for talks with Putin.

“This is a unique circumstance when the U.S. and Russia have found themselves thrown together against Turkey because of the Kurds, who are directly sponsored by Washington and get Russian support too,” said Alexander Shumilin, head of the Middle East Conflict Center at the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies, a government-run research group in Moscow.



Sven Mikser’s comments to the ‘Post’ come just ahead of Netanyahu-Putin meeting in Moscow.
Estonian FM Sven Mikser

Estonian FM Sven Mikser. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Estonia stands with Israel on security issues, including opposing Russia’s role in supporting both Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran’s military presence there, its Foreign Minister Sven Mikser told The Jerusalem Post.

“The role that the Russians play [in Syria] by way of trying to keep Assad in power and by the apparent collusion with the Iranians, yes, that is a shared concern,” Mikser said.

He arrived Tuesday night for a two-day trip and met Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Thursday the Israeli leader flew to Moscow to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the importance of halting Iranian activities in Syria.

The small former Soviet bloc country that borders Russia has a population of only some 1.3 million people and a long history of resisting Russian expansionist drives.

“We have seen the expansionist ambitions of the leadership in the Kremlin,” said Mikser, including Russia’s recent activity in “illegally annexing Crimea.”

“We can say with some confidence that they [Russia] will not shy away from using military force to achieve political aims,” Mikser told The Jerusalem Post during a Wednesday interview in Jerusalem.

Iran arrests two Catholics in new wave of brutality against Christians

“Our hearts are broken by this turn of events, which comes after five years of cooperation with the government of Turkey and other local partners,” Mercy Corps said in a statement.

It said Turkish officials had provided no explanation for the move, which forced Mercy Corps to “shut down our operations in Turkey, effective immediately.”

Flynn discloses lobbying that may have helped Turkey

Michael Flynn, who was fired from President Donald Trump’s national security team last month, has retroactively registered with the Justice Department for work he did that may have benefited the government of Turkey.

His now-defunct firm, the Flynn Intel Group, notified the government on Wednesday that it had done work for Inovo BV, a privately owned consulting firm in the Netherlands run by Turkish businessman Kamil Alptekin, beginning in August 2016.

From August through mid-November, the Flynn Intel Group received $530,000 from Inovo, according to the forms filed with the Justice Department. Flynn shut down his firm in November.

The firm then sub-contracted with S.G.R. LLC Government Relations and Lobbying — who also retroactively registered with the Justice Department this week — paying it $40,000. Disclosures also list Flynn’s firm paying out others, in “consultancy fees,” and for “administrative support,” videography and editing services.

At the time, Flynn was a military adviser to the Trump campaign.

Macron consolidates lead over Le Pen in French election polls

By Leigh Thomas and Sudip Kar-Gupta | PARIS

Centrist Emmanuel Macron saw his position as favorite to win France’s presidential election boosted on Thursday in two polls, with one showing him ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of the two-stage contest.

A monthly Cevipof survey, seen as the most authoritative because it has a far bigger sample size than most polls, put Le Pen well ahead in the April 23 first round though Macron was seen easily beating her in a May 7 runoff.

However, a Harris Interactive poll showed Macron winning the first round with 26 percent of votes, with Le Pen taking second place on 25 percent, setting him up to trounce her in the run-off with a score of 65 percent.

UK sticks with US systems on P-8

There will be no UK-specific test and evaluation in relation to the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) being procured by the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) because the United Kingdom is buying the “same capability as the US”, a senior RAF officer told Jane’s on 8 March.

“There are no current plans to develop any additional or bespoke UK capabilities,” said the officer, adding by way of example that “the P-8 that will come to the RAF will be able to use current and future sonobouys, such as the Multi-static Active Coherent [MAC] [capability], as standard”.

NATO, US warn Kosovo against move to form army

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he told Kosovo’s leaders by telephone “that unilateral steps such as these are unhelpful.” He warned that if Kosovo goes ahead as planned “NATO will have to review its level of commitment, particularly in terms of capacity-building.”

A U.S. embassy statement said “adoption of the current proposed law would force us to re-evaluate our bilateral cooperation with and longstanding assistance to Kosovo’s security forces.”

The move must be carried out through an “inclusive and representative political process,” the statement added.


US to Send B-52 Strategic Bombers to S Korea Amid N Korea’s ‘Provocations’

The United States will send two B-52 strategic power projection bombers to South Korea in light of growing nuclear and missile threats coming from the North, local media reported on Tuesday, citing an official source.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The strategic bombers are due to arrive at the US Osan Air Base located in the city of Pyeongtaek, 43 miles south of Seoul, this week, the source told the Yonhap News Agency.

“They may stay at the US air base for several days for a possible unveiling to the public during the Osan base’s opening event this weekend,” the source said, as quoted by the media outlet.

Earlier on Tuesday, the North Korean state media said that Pyongyang had successfully tested a high-power rocket engine, which would allow Pyongyang boost its capabilities at space exploration.

Pentagon: Islamic State has lost access to Iraq’s oil

By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: March 8, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Islamic State group has lost almost all access to Iraqi oil, though the terrorist organization has thousands of fighters protecting its remaining oil-rich territory in Syria, a U.S. defense official said Wednesday.

The official, who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on the condition of anonymity, said there are roughly 15,000 Islamic State fighters left in Iraq and Syria. About half of them are in or near Mosul or Raqqa, the terrorist group’s two remaining urban strongholds in Iraq and Syria, respectively.

The remaining Islamic State fighters are concentrated along the Euphrates River Valley in eastern Syria, where the group is still able to extract and sell oil, the official said.

Army eyes new bases in Europe as Pentagon reviews force structure

STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Army is scouting locations in Germany for potentially basing more soldiers in Europe, where a post-Cold War period of military downsizing is undergoing a reappraisal.

A team from U.S. Army Europe recently visited two military facilities in northern Germany, the Army said, a region without a current U.S. military presence.

“The purpose was to assess the sites if there was growth in permanently assigned U.S. Forces in Germany,” USAREUR said in a statement. “At this time no decisions have been made; we are engaged in prudent planning only.”

China’s tech giants are pouring billions into US start-ups

Rebecca Fannin, special to

Joe Chen, CEO of Chinese social networking service Renren, first met SoFi CEO Mike Cagney in Palo Alto in 2011 and, over coffee, decided to invest in the fast-growth, disruptive online finance start-up. That initial $4 million investment helped SoFi get its start and led to two more financings within three years, with Renren contributing a major chunk of some $230 million raised.

Fast-forward, and SoFi last month topped it off with a $500 million investment from private-equity powerhouse Silver Lake.

SoFi is just the kind of deal that Chen has been pursuing: His NYSE-listed company, once known as the Facebook of China, has been investing in fast-growth tech start-ups to broaden its revenues and boost its stock price. That connection with Renren has also boosted SoFi.

“Joe is a great investor and was our investor from the early days. He saw the vision early on and pushed us to grow faster and be more aggressive,” said Dan Macklin, a co-founder of SoFi in San Francisco.

Similarly to Renren, China’s tech titans Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are leading a surge of Chinese investment in cutting-edge U.S. technology start-ups with bold ambitions to expand their footprint, attract top talent and gain an edge in innovation.

Collectively known as the BAT, China’s giant technology companies that dominate search, e-commerce and mobile messaging in their home market are going global. The United States is their primary shopping place to diversify and build out their brands. The hunt is on to acquire or buy into fast-growing young companies in a broad range of the hottest tech sectors, such as virtual reality, fintech, social media, video games and mobile apps. Their deals include such well-known American brands as image messaging app Snap, ride-sharing service Lyft and virtual reality player Magic Leap.

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