Tag Archives: China

March 24, 2017

Jihadi terror manuals on how to use a car as a ‘tool of war’ for mass murder can be found in just two minutes on Google and Twitter

  • Fanatics are urged to use cars before going on stabbing rampage in the guides
  • Video revealed after Khalid Masood killed three in car then stabbed a policeman
  • Manuals told jihadists in West to learn from Palestinian terrorists who use cars 
  • News comes as Boris Johnson accused social media sites of inciting terrorism 

Guides to mounting a car terror attack were available on Google and Twitter last night.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training.

Fanatics are urged to deploy large vehicles as ‘tools of war’ before going on a stabbing rampage – the template for Wednesday’s atrocity in Westminster. Boris Johnson accused social media websites of inciting terrorism.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training

And Google’s YouTube video platform was found to be raking in money from conspiracy theories saying the London outrage was a hoax.

As the maniac behind the attack was unmasked as 52-year-old Khalid Masood:

  •  The security services faced questions because he was known to police and MI5;
  •  Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied failures but admitted: ‘One got through’;
  •  It emerged MPs had raised concerns about the Commons gates Masood waltzed through;
  •  Officials revealed that he was shot dead by a ministerial bodyguard, rather than by armed police;
  •  Islamic State claimed Masood was its ‘soldier’;
  •  Officers made eight arrests around the country;
  •  The death toll rose to five when a 75-year-old man died in hospital last night.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4344338/Jihadi-terror-manuals-use-car-tool-war.html#ixzz4cF84mUUX

EXC: MPs railed against use of armed police at Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’ and said anti-terror barriers were ‘UGLY’

  • Interviews with MPs and staff from 2014 reveal resistance to boosting security
  • They complained that security barriers surrounding parliament were ‘ugly’ 
  • Also griped about armed police at main entrances creating bad ‘atmosphere’ 
MPs complained in 2014 that armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad 'atmosphere'

MPs complained in 2014 that armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’

MPs railed against the armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’.

There were also a slew of complaints that security barriers to prevent terrorists ramming cars into the building were ‘ugly’.

The complaints, in response to a survey by the House authorities in 2014, lay bare the extent of resistance among politicians to modernising security on the estate before the bloody terror attack this week.

Armed officers are not currently stationed round the clock at the Carriage Gates, the main entrance that looks out on to Parliament Square.

Khalid Masood marauded through the access point on Wednesday, stabbing Pc Keith Palmer to death. He was shot by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon’s personal guards after making it around 20 yards on to the estate.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, a member of the ruling Commons Commission, suggested today that officers manning the gates should always be armed or accompanied more closely by armed colleagues.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4346698/EXC-MPs-complained-armed-police-Parliament-gates.html#ixzz4cIGBINEv

Iran’s Spymaster Claims Pro-Regime Agents Operating in D.C., London, Canada

Claims pro-Iran ‘lobby’ pushing Tehran’s agenda in D.C.
March 23, 2017 3:28 pm

Iran maintains a network of spies and lobbyists who clandestinely push the Islamic regime’s agenda in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, according to the head of Iran’s ministry of intelligence, who touted the pro-Iran network’s ability to spread its ideology to the West.

Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, in recent remarks independently translated by the Washington Free Beacon, bragged about the Islamic Republic’s ability to operate an unnamed “lobby group” in D.C. that helps to push the regime’s hardline agenda.

Alavi disclosed that Iranians with dual citizenship in the United States, Canada, and England, remain devoted to the “Islamic revolution” and are working to promote this agenda in their adopted homelands.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/irans-spymaster-claims-pro-regime-agents-operating-d-c-london-canada/

2 more ‘significant’ arrests made in investigation into London attack

Authorities said two officers are listed in critical condition. Reuters reported on Friday that the attacker’s birth name was Arian Russell.

According to police, Masood was born in Kent, U.K., and they believe he was most recently living in the West Midlands, which includes the city of Birmingham.

Masood was known to authorities and had a range of previous convictions for assaults, including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offenses.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the rampage, saying Masood was “an Islamic State soldier” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition.”

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/24/2-more-significant-arrests-made-in-investigation-into-london-attack.html

#DarkSeaSkies: CIA’s tool to hack MacBook Air in under 29 seconds exposed

Amidst WikiLeaks’ revelations about the CIA’s capabilities to hack into Apple products is DarkSeaSkies – a tool used to monitor and control MacBook Air that’s physically installed by a CIA agent or asset in “less than 29 seconds.”

DarkSeaSkies is a tool that runs in the background of a MacBook Air to allow the CIA command and control laptops. It is delivered via “supply chain intercept or a gift to the target.”

It’s loaded onto a MacBook via booting through a thumb drive. The CIA’s user document explains: “It is assumed that an operator or asset has one-time physical access to the target system and can boot the target system to an external flash drive.”

A 2009 “user requirements” document on DarkSeaSkies explains it was created to allow the CIA to access a MacBook Air.

The CIA’s COG [Computer Operations Group] had a “time-sensitive operational need” to install the Nightskies tool onto a MacBook Air, as the CIA had an “opportunity to gift a MacBook Air to a target that will be implanted with this tool.” It’s unknown who this target was.

https://www.rt.com/viral/382095-darkseaskies-cia-mackbook-darkmatter/

Swiss open probe into spying in Switzerland’s Turkish community

Switzerland has opened a criminal probe into possible spying involving Switzerland’s Turkish community, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

“The Office of the Attorney General has been made aware of concrete suspicion that political espionage has likely been conducted involving the Turkish community in Switzerland,” the agency said in a statement, giving no details about the probe launched on March 16.

The Swiss foreign minister told his Turkish counterpart on Thursday that Switzerland would “rigorously investigate” any illegal spying by Ankara on expatriate Turks before an April 16 referendum that could expand Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-turkey-espionage-idUSKBN16V1GD?il=0

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

As if the political and economic chaos wracking Venezuela wasn’t worrying enough, a couple of recent stories underscore the potential national security threat brewing there. First, last month’s designation of Venezuela’s vice president, Tareck El Aissami, as a drug kingpin by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Second, a CNN investigative report revealing that Venezuela’s embassy in Iraq was allegedly selling Venezuelan passports and identity documents to Middle Eastern nationals — raising the disturbing prospect that Caracas is facilitating the entry of Islamist militants to Latin America. Indeed, the CNN report echoed revelations from 2013 that the Venezuelan embassy in Syria was issuing passports to terrorists under the direction of Ghazi Atef Nassereddine, a Treasury-sanctioned, FBI-wanted Venezuelan diplomat who happens to be a key Hezbollah operative. Put all this together and what do you get? A rabidly anti-American failed state that appears to be incubating the convergence of narco-trafficking and jihadism in America’s own backyard.

Venezuela’s links to the drug trade are deep and well documented. Collusion with the cartels reaches the highest levels of the state. Two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro were arrested in Haiti and convicted on drug trafficking charges by a federal jury in Manhattan last November. General Néstor Luis Reverol Torres — Venezuela’s current minister of interior and justice, and former head of its national anti-narcotics agency — was indicted in the United States last August on cocaine trafficking charges, along with a former captain in Venezuela’s National Guard. The list of officials implicated in narco-trafficking also includes a former minister of interior and justice, two senior intelligence officers who later became governors, and now Vice President El Aissami

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

Venezuela expresses ‘desire’ to reestablish relations with Israel

8 years after Caracas expelled Israeli envoy, chief rabbi says he pitched a ‘period of courtship,’ consular relations before full ties

[Editor’s Note: Venezuela since Hugo Chavez and including Maduro has been anti semitic and anti-Israel in the extreme.  There are only 20,000 or fewer Jews in Venezuela, and many are leaving because of pressure from the regime. This initiative appears to indicate the extreme desperation of the current government.]

Venezuela’s foreign minister expressed to his country’s chief rabbi “the desire to establish full relations with the State of Israel” eight years after the South American nation expelled its Israeli ambassador.

“We suggested to start with a period of courtship, which means a beginning through consular relations, so that later it will become a marriage, which would be Israel’s own embassy again in Venezuela, as we have always had here,” Venezuela’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Isaac Cohen, told AJN News.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez spoke of the country’s commitment to re-establish ties during a meeting last Friday with several Jewish leaders, including Cohen and Elias Farache, president of the Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela, the umbrella Jewish organization.

Cohen said that he has been in touch with the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

“I am an Orthodox and Zionist rabbi, and for me it is Jewish pride to have the flag of the State of Israel hoisted here in Venezuela, as in any country where there is a Jewish community. That gives us peace and tranquility, it’s fundamental,” the rabbi said.

Last month, President Nicolas Maduro welcomed a Jewish delegation including Cohen and Farache at the governmental palace to strengthen cooperation that over the years has faced roadblocks.

“A good day of dialogue for peace. Boosting the co-existence and the dialog of civilizations, of religions to consolidate our nation,” the far-leftist leader tweeted after the meeting.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/venezuela-expresses-desire-to-reestablish-relations-with-israel/

 

Imam calling for Jews to be killed in sermon at Montreal mosque draws police complaint

Larger Muslim community wants apology from mosque and wonders why controversial imam was invited to preach

By Brennan Neill, Stephen Smith, CBC News

The controversial imam is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr who was the invited guest of a Saint-Michel mosque.

The controversial imam is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr who was the invited guest of a Saint-Michel mosque. (YouTube)

A Montreal mosque is facing a police complaint and rebukes from the larger Muslim community after a video of an imam delivering a sermon in which he asks for Jews to be killed surfaced online.

The sermon took place at the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in the city’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood on Dec. 23, 2016.

The video was posted to the mosque’s YouTube channel three days later. The imam in the video is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr — he was reportedly an invited guest of the mosque.

In the video, the imam recites in Arabic the verse: “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

CBC independently verified the speech and its translation.

The controversial verse comes from a religious text known as a hadith, which interprets the words and actions by the Prophet Muhammad.

The hadith in question deals with end times and tells how stones and trees will ask Muslims to come and kill Jews hiding behind them.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/imam-sermon-montreal-mosque-1.4037397

 

China’s ZTE Pleads Guilty to Illegally Shipping U.S. Technology to Iran.

Mar 22, 2017

Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE on Wednesday pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in Texas for illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.

The guilty plea was part of an agreement the company reached earlier this month with U.S. authorities that also called for nearly $900 million in fines and other penalties.

The company admitted to three charges: conspiring to export American-made items to Iran without a license from the U.S. government, obstructing justice, and making a material false statement.

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A five-year investigation had found ZTE (ZTCOY, +1.86%) conspired to evade U.S. embargoes by buying U.S. components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran.

ZTE, which devised elaborate schemes to hide the illegal activity, agreed to the guilty plea after the U.S. Commerce Department took actions that threatened to cut off the gear maker’s global supply chain.

http://fortune.com/2017/03/22/zte-guilty-shipping-us-technology-iran/

Russia, India in Talks on Creating New Models of BrahMos Missiles – Putin’s Aide

Russia and India are in talks on creating new models of missiles at the BrahMos Aerospace joint enterprise, Russian Presidential Aide for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — India has set a target of $2 billion defense exports, a six-fold increase from current exports, by 2019. In order to give impetus to exports, the Narendra Modi government has allowed government-owned defense companies to earmark 10 per cent of their production for exports. “The biggest challenge in boosting defense exports from India is the limited range of exportable products, limited overseas markets and predominance of defense manufacturers who have been in the business far longer than India,” Cowshish added.

“Today, Indian partners propose to develop, deepen this cooperation, make new models of the missile, these talks are underway,” Kozhin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television channel.

A hypersonic version of the BrahMos cruise missile, capable of flying at up to 5,000 kilometers per hour, is expected to be created by 2020.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201703231051898499-russia-india-brahmos/

France’s Marine Le Pen urges end to Russia sanctions

France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has called for the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia, during a visit to Moscow.

The National Front (FN) leader called for closer French-Russian ties at a meeting in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma.

She told its speaker sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea were counterproductive, Interfax reported.

Ms Le Pen has also met President Vladimir Putin.

He reportedly told her that Russia had no intention of interfering in the election, but had the right to meet any French politicians it wanted.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39375969

Terror suspect ‘drives car full of liquid gas, knives and rifles at high speed’ into Antwerp shopping crowds

Terrified pedestrians had to jump out of the way as the car entered the pedestrianised street just a day after the London terror attack

A suspected terrorist has been arrested in Belgium after he allegedly tried to drive a car into shoppers on a pedestrianised street – less than 24 hours after the attack in London.

The vehicle was reportedly full of liquid gas, knives and rifles.

Terrified pedestrians had to jump out of the way as the car entered the De Meir shopping street in Antwerp at high speed on Thursday morning.

The suspected driver, who was wearing camouflage, was later arrested by police, local media reported.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/antwerp-belgium-car-attack-london-10083953

U.S. Senate to vote on Montenegro’s NATO membership

The U.S. Senate will vote next week on the ratification of Montenegro as the newest member of the NATO alliance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday, after the Trump administration urged lawmakers to take up the long-delayed matter.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had written to the leaders of the Senate to say Montenegro’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was “strongly in the interests of the United States.”

All 28 of NATO’s members must ratify Montenegro’s accession before it can formally join the alliance. The vote in the U.S. Senate was held up for months when at least two Republican senators, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, blocked a quick vote.

The Senate’s Republican leadership had not scheduled a more time-consuming roll call vote until Thursday. McConnell announced in the Senate that there would be a procedural vote on Monday evening, which should clear the way for a final ratification vote later in the week.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nato-montenegro-idUSKBN16U33K

Moldovan PM Pavel Filip : NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau this July

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Moldovan PM Pavel Filip said on Thursday at the end of the joint Romania – Moldova government meeting in Piatra Neamt that a NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau this July. Premier Pavel Filip also reaffirmed support for the participation of the Moldovan army in NATO joint exercises carried out outside country borders. 

“I said that the Republic of Moldova is a parliamentary country and the important decisions are taken by the government and Parliament. At the same time, we have the institution of the President who is also the commander-in-chief. We were faced with a less pleasant situation when the national army was unable to participate in the military exercises organized in Romania, under the NATO aegis. You are perfectly aware of President Igor Dodon’s stance and his love towards NATO. We managed to sign an agreement with NATO and a NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau in July. Back then we had discussions with the President of the country and explained to him that most of the national forces’ plan of activities related to training and exercises – that is about 80 percent – will take place outside the territory of the Republic of Moldova with the support of our NATO partners. The further refuse to participate in these exercises would mean the weakening of the national army, and it makes no logic when a commander-in-chief is complacent with the weakening of the National Forces. I believe this was the first and last time when this confusion occurred and that in the future the National Army of Moldova will participate in all applications. Even more than that, we should thank for this support with the training and exercises the Moldovan army participates in,” said Prime Minister Pavel Filip. 

http://actmedia.eu/daily/moldovan-pm-pavel-filip-nato-liaison-office-will-open-in-chisinau-this-july/68714

Pentagon worried about Chinese investment in US startups: report

The Pentagon is worried about new American technology firms turning to Chinese companies for investment on potential military applications, The New York Times reported.

Chinese firms are sending money to U.S. startups, include rocket engine manufacturers, companies that design sensors for autonomous naval ships and printers that make flexible screens that could be used in fighter jets. Many of the Chinese firms making the investments are owned by state-owned companies or have connections to Chinese officials, according to the Times.

Department of Defense (DOD) officials worry about the investments because they have found that China is encouraging companies with close government ties to invest in U.S. startups specializing in technology that could advance China’s military and its economy, according to a new DOD special report.

The Pentagon sent the report — commissioned before President Trump took office — to senior administration officials this week.

Details on the size of the deals are not available, as startups and their investors are not required to disclose them.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/325519-pentagon-worried-about-chinese-investment-in-us-startups-report

Cyber war: Defense firms face battle to guard secrets

Thousands of defense contractors face a Pentagon directive to boost cyber security defenses by the end of the year, but many will likely won’t have all the safeguards in place, a cyber expert says.

“We don’t anticipate many companies being close to being compliant by the end of the year,” said Timothy Birt, Riverside Research information technology security administrator in Beavercreek.

Hackers target secret data on weapon systems, classified research on leap-ahead technology and personal information on top scientists and others with critical jobs.

“The interest in that personal data is to actually use it against employees of clear defense contractors to blackmail them or just coerce them into giving up information that they may not otherwise want to do,” Birt said.

 

Some of the prizes adversaries have pilfered via cyber espionage have loomed large: Congressional leaders have pointed out the close resemblance between the Chinese J-31 and the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the target of a cyber hack.

The Defense Science Board detailed other weapon systems cyber spies have stolen designs and data on span the F/A-18 fighter jet; the V-22 vertical take-off and landing aircraft; the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and the Black Hawk helicopter, The Washington Post has reported.

“Cyber attacks have become the preferred method of conducting espionage, because virtually every U.S. secret is on a network somewhere.,” said Loren B. Thompson, senior defense analyst and a defense industry consultant with the Virginia-headquartered Lexington Institute. “If enemies can gain access to those networks, they can avoid the difficulty of planting agents in organizations — a drawn out and dangerous process.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/cyber-war-defense-firms-face-battle-guard-secrets/q5nqjUomGdjXeI5JQV1ceL/

 

 

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March 21, 2017

Military Cooperation Between Russia, China Hits Three-Decade High

Expanded coordination poses significant threat to U.S., allies in Asia Pacific

Russia and China are displaying the highest level of military cooperation in three decades, posing an escalated threat to the United States and its allies, according to a government report released Monday.

U.S. air superiority in the Asia Pacific is particularly vulnerable due to sustained Russian arms sales to Beijing and a new focus between the two militaries on missile defense, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission detailed in its new report.

Russian deliveries of Su-35 strike fighter jets to China, which began in December 2015, along with deliveries of its S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, which are set to begin in 2018, will expand Beijing’s reach in the Taiwan Strait and threaten air assets of U.S. allies in the South China and East China Seas.

 Ethan Meick, a policy analyst in security and foreign affairs at USCC who authored the report, predicted missile defense cooperation between Moscow and Beijing would continue for years to come. The two militaries held their first joint missile defense exercise in May 2016 and have announced a second exercise to be conducted in 2017.

Sweden preparing nuclear fallout bunkers across the country amid fear of Russian war

War preparations come as Nordic country reintroduces military conscription

NUCLEAR war shelters are being readied in Sweden to prepare for a surprise Russian attack, according to reports.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has reportedly been ordered to carry out a review this year of bunkers the coming weeks as the Scandinavian country also reintroduces military service.

A system of 65,000 bunkers was established in the Cold War to protect the population from nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

According to MSB, the bunkers currently protect against blast and radiation as well as chemical or germ warfare.

With a distinctive logo, they can easily be located by civilians seeking shelter.

But with fears growing over threat posed by Vladimir Putin and his resurgent Russia they are being reviewed to make sure they are ready.

Russian military drills in the region have raised fears among neighbouring nations that an attack could happen in the coming months.

Civil defence measures are therefore being stepped up, especially in the Island of Gotland where Sweden has already re-opened a garrison.

Swedish broadcaster Sveriges Radio reported that Mats Berglund had ordered a review of the island’s 350 civilian bunkers.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3140359/sweden-nuclear-fallout-bunkers-russian-war-threat/

 

FBI Confirms Counterspy Probe Into Trump Aides’ Links to Russian Election Influence Operation

Comey: ‘Russians will be back’ to create ‘chaos, division, doubt’ in American democracy

James Comey

James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation / Getty Images

BY:
March 20, 2017 6:09 pm

FBI Director James Comey said during a contentious House hearing Monday that FBI counterspies are investigating whether aides to Donald Trump coordinated activities with Russia’s intelligence services during last year’s operation to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

Comey, testifying with National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, also said he has seen no evidence supporting President Trump’s claim that the Obama administration spied on Trump and his campaign.

The director and the nation’s top electronic intelligence official appeared before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where Republicans and Democrats presented competing political narratives during more than five hours of testimony.

 Trump has stated in a tweet he “found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower” just before the Nov. 8 election. The president then stated, “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism.”

RSAF’s new drone Heron 1 now combat-ready

SINGAPORE – It can fly as high as 6km in the sky, cruise at speeds as fast as 130kmh, and can be deployed up to 200km away from a remote location.

This drone – or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – can also fly for more than 24 hours continuously, and take off and land automatically.

It is no ordinary drone though, but the Singapore airforce’s latest “eye-in-the-sky” – the Heron 1, which was declared combat-ready on Wednesday (March 15) by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

It is a milestone which places the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) on a par with other advanced militaries in intelligence and surveillance capabilities.

In a ceremony held at Murai Camp, Dr Ng marked the Heron 1’s achievement of the Full Operational Capability (FOC) status by the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) 119 and 128 Squadrons.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/rsafs-new-drone-heron-1-now-combat-ready

 

EXCLUSIVE: Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev turned on America when his citizenship application was rejected because he was an informant for the U.S. government and felt ‘double crossed’, bombshell book claims

  • Award-winning Boston journalist Michele McPhee claims that the federal government may have played a ‘direct role in creating the monster that Tamerlan Tsarnaev became’ in new book
  • She theorizes that Tsarnaev was a federal informant who turned on America after his citizenship was denied
  • The government recruited Tamerlan as he was the ‘perfect candidate’ – he was broke, had a new wife and a baby, spoke fluent English, Russian and Chechen
  • McPhee told DailyMail.com that the CIA were ‘running Tamerlan’ while he was in Russia, and that the FBI were in charge of him when he returned to America
  • Tamerlan, 26, died during a shootout on the streets of Boston after killing a cop
  • His brother, Dzhokhar, now 23, was captured alive and put on trial and ultimately sentenced to death by a Boston jury
  • McPhee took three years to research Maximum Harm: the Tsarnaev Brothers, the FBI and the Boston Marathon Bombing, which will be released in April

In her book Maximum Harm: The Tsarnaev Nrother, the FBI and the Road to the Marathon Bombing  to be published in April, she tells how U.S. authorities believed Anzor Tsarnaev’s claimed his life was in danger due to his Chechen heritage and his family was granted political asylum.

McPhee’s theory – which she admits she cannot definitively prove – is that Tamerlan was a federal informant and that he turned on America after his citizenship application was rejected.

McPhee writes that Tamerlan expected to be granted citizenship quickly and his anger grew when the process was delayed.

He was initially told to come in for his swearing in ceremony in October 2012 but it was put off.

The U.S. Immigration service wrote to Cedarleaf, the FBI terrorism chief in Boston, and asked if he was a ‘national security concern’. Cedarleaf replied that there was ‘nothing I know of’.

In January 2013 Tamerlan tried again to get his citizenship and had another interview where he was asked about his arrest related to a domestic violence charge.

McPhee says that Tamerlan ‘fully expected to walk way’ with his citizenship’. Instead. his status was delayed again due to paperwork issues.

Two weeks later, on February 6 2013, an ‘angry Tamerlan walked into Phantom Fireworks in Seabrook, New Hampshire, and asked for the “biggest and loudest” pyrotechnics in the story’, McPhee writes.

McPhee, an Emmy-award nominated reporter with the ABC News investigative team, writes  that he felt ‘double crossed’ and that he turn

Tillerson reportedly to skip NATO meeting, visit with Russia in April

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a semiannual meeting of NATO foreign ministers in April and will reportedly stay behind to meet with China President Xi Jinping and will go to Russia later in the month.

Tillerson would miss the first meeting of the 28 NATO allies, which takes place on April 5 and 6 in Brussels, in order to attend President Trump’s meeting with Xi at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on April 6 and 7, U.S. officials told Reuters Monday. Tillerson will also attend the G7 meeting in Italy before traveling to Moscow.

U.S. officials added that Tillerson will meet NATO diplomats this week in Washington for a conference on defeating the Islamic State, suggesting there was no need for him to attend the Brussels meeting. Instead, the State Department Under Secretary Tom Shannon will represent t the U.S. at the meeting.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/21/tillerson-reportedly-to-skip-nato-meeting-visit-with-russia-in-april.html

Israeli drone crashes in Syria, circumstances unclear

The Israeli military has confirmed that a drone crashed in Syria earlier this week in unclear circumstances.

In a statement, the military said the “Skylark” went down on Sunday and that the incident was being investigated. Tuesday’s statement said there is “no risk of a breach of information.”

Hezbollah’s media arm published photographs of what it said was a drone it had shot down after infiltrating Syrian airspace in the Golan Heights.

Although Israel is not actively fighting in the Syrian civil war, it keeps close tabs on its enemies Iran and Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group, which are both backing Syrian government forces.

Last week, Israel shot down a Syrian anti-aircraft missile fired at an Israeli aircraft carrying out an airstrike on a suspected Hezbollah weapons convoy in Syria

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/21/israeli-drone-crashes-in-syria-circumstances-unclear.html

Israeli Air Force to host 7 nations in its largest-ever air drill

TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli Air Force will host flying forces from seven nations later this year in the largest and most complex air exercise in its history.

Nearly 100 aircraft and several hundreds of air warriors and support crews from the United States, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy will converge here in the autumn for Blue Flag, a biennial, two-week drill aimed at honing the type of planning, targeting and coordinated command and control demanded by coalitions operating in high-threat theaters.

“It will be a massive exercise; the biggest ever for the IAF. Seven nations plus Israel,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the Israeli Air Force’s chief of international affairs.

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/israeli-air-force-to-host-7-nations-in-its-largest-ever-air-drill

Moscow ‘knows nothing about’ reported April visit by Tillerson

Moscow diplomats say they are not aware of any preparations for a visit by US State Secretary Rex Tillerson. Reuters said the American would arrive in Russia in April.

When asked about the reported visit on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Interfax: “I know nothing about it.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said she could not confirm Tillerson’s visit either.

“At this stage, we do not intend to neither confirm nor refute the information which emerged [in the media],” Zakharova wrote on her FB page, pointing out that the information had initially been leaked.

“It is time for US political elites to decide: have ‘the Russian hackers’ hacked the US State Department servers again or is the threat to the security of US information of an American origin?” she joked.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dodged the question about the news agency report.

“Let’s wait for the official statements on the matter rather than those of Reuters. For the State Department and the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to announce the visit,” he said.

https://www.rt.com/news/381579-tillerson-visit-moscow-april/

Shin Bet: Hamas stealing Gaza aid from Turkish charities

Security service arrests one, accuses another of funneling reconstruction money to terrorist group’s military wing

Muhammad Murtaja, 40, arrested by the Shin Bet for allegedly helping funnel money from Turkish charities to the Hamas terrorist group. (Coordinator of the Government's Activities in the Territories)

Muhammad Murtaja, 40, arrested by the Shin Bet for allegedly helping funnel money from Turkish charities to the Hamas terrorist group. (Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories)

The Shin Bet security service accused two Palestinian men of funneling Gaza reconstruction funds from Turkish charities to the Hamas terrorist group.

The manager of the Gaza branch of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), Muhammad Murtaja, was arrested last month on suspicion that he was working on behalf of Hamas, the Shin Bet announced on Tuesday.

Mehmet Kaya, the head of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known by its acronym IHH, was also implicated in the Shin Bet investigation. However, Kaya has not yet been arrested.

“The egotistical Hamas terror organization has robbed funds that are meant for the needy of Gaza from international organizations. Hamas prospers at the expense of the residents of the Strip and uses donations meant for them to finance terror,” said Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories.

Palestinian children play in abandoned vehicles in an impoverished area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on April 26, 2016. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/shin-bet-hamas-stealing-gaza-aid-from-turkish-charities/

Syria war: Russia denies aiding Kurds to set up a military base

Russia is helping Syrian Kurdish YPG forces to establish a military base in northern Syria that will be used to train its fighters, the militia says.

But Russian officials have insisted there are no plans to open new bases in Syria and the one near Afrin serves as a “reconciliation centre”.

Russia says the role of the base is to negotiate local truces between the various warring sides in Syria.

Meanwhile fighting between the military and rebels has continued near Damascus.

Government forces are reportedly bombarding eastern areas of the capital, Damascus, a day after rebel fighters launched a surprise offensive.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39335029

Poland hands 4-year prison term for spying for Russia

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March 20, 2017

Kim Jong-Un vows to reduce the US ‘to ashes’ with nuke strikes if Donald Trump fires ‘even a single bullet’ at North Korea

The rogue state threatened to use its ‘invincible Hwasong rockets’ to rain down nuclear destruction on its enemies

KIM Jong-un has threatened to reduce the US “to ashes” as tensions with North Korea continue to increase.

The secretive state released a statement earlier this month warning Donald Trump of nuclear destruction if America fires “even a single bullet” towards Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-un has threatened to reduce the US 'to ashes' with nuclear strikes

The statement said: “The Korean People’s Army will reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people’s happiness in case the US and the South Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK.”

The menacing talk came as South Korea warned that its northern neighbour’s latest rocket-engine test showed “meaningful” progress.

The North’s KCNA news agency said on Sunday the engine would help the country achieve world-class satellite-launch capability – indicating a new type of rocket engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3131278/kim-jong-un-nuclear-weapons-donald-trump-north-korea/

 

SECRET SERVICE THEFT CAUGHT ON VIDEO

Thief Knew What He Was After

EXCLUSIVE

0317-secret-service-agent-laptop-tmz-gettyThe thief who swiped a Secret Service agent’s laptop targeted the agent in question and knew exactly what he was after … law enforcement sources tell TMZ.

Our sources say the thief — whom they say is a man — was caught on surveillance video pulling up to the agent’s driveway in an Uber at around 3 AM Thursday.

The video shows the man make a beeline for the agent’s car, removing a backpack with the computer inside and then walking off. As we reported, the hard drive contained Trump Tower floor plans and evacuation protocols, but the agency insists there was no classified info inside.

The thief also made off with a passport and several Secret Service lapel pins.

It’s unclear what the thief was looking for if all the content was non-sensitive.

We’re told the video is grainy so it’s hard to make out the thief’s features, but it’s definitely a lead.

http://www.tmz.com/2017/03/20/mystery-thief-secret-service-laptop/

 

Electronics banned from cabins on some Middle Eastern and African flights to U.S.

Airlines that fly from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa to the U.S. must require passengers to check in almost all electronic devices rather than carry them into the cabin, said a U.S. official.

The official told CNN that there is a security concern regarding passengers boarding non-stop flights to the U.S. from some specific countries. The directive is to ensure enhanced security measures at select airports for a limited duration.

The source said it will impact over a dozen airlines flying into the US. Another US administration official says this covers devices larger than a cellphone.

In a written statement, the Department of Homeland Security said, “We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate.”

A State Department officials says embassy officials have been notifying relevant countries and airlines.

An aviation official said U.S. carriers are not impacted because none flies directly from the countries in question to the U.S. Neither source would specify what airlines were impacted beyond Royal Jordanian Airlines, which tweeted Monday that it will ban most electronics from the cabins on its flights to and from its North American destinations.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/20/news/companies/middle-east-airline-electronics-ban/index.html

 

3 US soldiers shot in Afghanistan ‘insider attack’

Three U.S. Army soldiers were shot and wounded Sunday when an Afghan Army soldier opened fire on them inside a base in southern Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand Province, officials told Fox News.

The attack occurred around 1:30 p.m. local time at Camp Antonik in Washer District in Helmand.

“Coalition security forces on the base killed the soldier to end the attack,” Capt. Bill Salvin, spokesman for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, told Fox News. “The U.S. soldiers are receiving medical treatment at this time and we will release more information when available.”

The severity of the soldiers wounds was not immediately clear. Salvin declined to offer more details.

There are roughly 8,400 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan — more than in Iraq and Syria combined.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/19/3-us-soldiers-shot-in-afghanistan-insider-attack.html

Russian space official found dead with stab wounds while awaiting embezzlement trial

Russian space official found dead with stab wounds while awaiting embezzlement trial
A top-tier official of Russian space agency Roscosmos has been found dead at a pre-trial detention center where he was being held on charges of embezzlement. Stab wounds were found on his body, but no suspects have been identified so far.

Vladimir Evdokimov, 56, was found dead on Saturday in his cell at a pre-trial detention center in Moscow, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee. Investigators found two stab wounds on Evdokimov’s chest and one on his neck, and also retrieved a knife from the crime scene, committee spokesperson Yulia Ivanova said.

Later in the day, Roscosmos, where Evdokimov served as executive director in charge of quality control and reliability issues, confirmed his death in a brief statement published on the space agency’s Twitter account.

In December last year, Evdokimov was jailed on charges of embezzling 200 million rubles ($3.1 million) from the MiG aerospace corporation, an indictment he strongly denied.

Eleven people in Evdokimov’s cell have already been questioned, and investigators are now trying to identify a suspect, the Investigative Committee says.

https://www.rt.com/news/381382-roscosmos-official-stabbed-prison/

Israel explains Arrow intercept of Syrian SAM

March 20, 2017 (Photo Credit: Pierre Verdy/AFP via Getty Images)
TEL AVIV — A senior Israeli Air Force officer on Monday provided operational context to the unusual March 17 Arrow intercept of a Syrian SA-5 surface-to-air missile, which the jointly developed U.S.-Israel anti-ballistic missile system was not designed to fight.

Briefing reporters here, the officer said the Syrian SAM launched against Israeli fighter aircraft following a bombing mission in Syria “behaved like a ballistic threat” with “an altitude, range and ballistic trajectory” that mimicked the Scud-class targets the Arrow 2 interceptor was designed to kill.

“It wasn’t a Scud-class ballistic threat. But from our perspective, it doesn’t matter if it was a SAM. Once it behaved like a ballistic missile weighing tons and with a warhead of hundreds of kilograms, we couldn’t allow it to threaten our cities and towns,” the officer said.

When asked to identify the specific threat, the officer confirmed that the Arrow 2 had indeed scored its first operational intercept against a Syrian SA-5.

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/israel-explains-arrow-intercept-of-syrian-sam

China to ax military corps of disgraced generals amid downsizing of world’s biggest army – sources

China’s People’s Liberation Army will reportedly disband five of its 18 army corps, including two that served as the power base of two disgraced generals, sources with knowledge about the ongoing shakeup told the South China Morning Post.

Two years ago, Beijing announced that it would lay off 300,000 members of its 2.3 million-strong military as part of a major reform, which is meant to turn the PLA into a more efficient and flexible modern fighting force. The country’s top brass has since been overhauled, and China has restructured its military and investigated generals for alleged corruption.

Among the dozens of senior officers caught in the anti-corruption probes were two former vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission, Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. According to the newspaper’s sources, among the five army corps slated to be disbanded are the 16th and the 47th, which had served as the disgraced generals’ power base.

“The axing of the 16th and 47th army groups is a decision made by [President] Xi [Jinping] to further clean up all the pernicious influence left by Guo and Xu, paving the way for Xi to assign his men amid the ongoing leadership reshuffle ahead of the party’s congress in autumn,” one of the sources said.

https://www.rt.com/news/381350-china-army-cut-sources/

Israeli airstrike in Syrian Golan said to kill pro-Assad fighter

IDF refuses to confirm reported drone strike near Quneitra, as tensions between Jerusalem and Damascus ratchet up

An Israeli drone strike reportedly killed a member of a Syrian pro-regime militia Sunday afternoon, amid spiraling tensions between Jerusalem and Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Israeli aircraft struck a truck driving near the town of Khan Arnabeh in the Quneitra province, on the road to Damascus.

The National Defense Force, a pro-regime militia set up in 2012, claimed the man killed was from among its ranks.

It named the man as Yasser Hussien Assayed.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-airstrike-said-to-kill-driver-in-syrian-golan-heights/

Assad: Oscar-feted White Helmets are part of Al-Qaeda

“White Helmets are Al Qaeda members and that’s proven on the net,” Assad told RT during an interview with Russian journalists in Damascus. “The same members are killing or executing or celebrating over dead bodies, at the same time they are humanitarian heroes, and now they have an Oscar.”

The White Helmets, which calls itself a civil defense organization, operates in rebel-controlled parts of Syria, where they say they are involved exclusively in peaceful activities such as rescuing civilians after bombing raids. They are part-funded by donations, and by Western governments.

An eponymous British-made film about their work was given an Oscar for Best Documentary at last month’s Academy Awards.

Both Damascus and Moscow have repeatedly accused them of functioning as a propaganda operation that stages videos and manipulates coverage to generate sympathy abroad for the rebel cause, and as a jihadist rescue service that operates in tandem with Al Nusra and other radical groups in Syria.

https://www.rt.com/news/381542-white-helmets-al-qaeda-members/

 

Israel to Declare Air Defense Shield Fully Operational: Officer


File - This Monday, Dec. 21, 2015 file photograph provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense shows a launch of David's Sling missile defense system. A senior Israeli air force official says a joint U.S.-Israeli missile interceptor will be operational soon, completing the country's multi-layer defense system.

File – This Monday, Dec. 21, 2015 file photograph provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense shows a launch of David’s Sling missile defense system. A senior Israeli air force official says a joint U.S.-Israeli missile interceptor will be operational soon, completing the country’s multi-layer defense system.

Israel’s multi-tier air defense missile system will be fully operational early next month with the deployment of the David’s Sling interceptor, a senior Israeli air force officer said on Monday.

David’s Sling, designed to shoot down rockets fired from 100 to 200 kilometers away, will be the final piece of a shield that already includes short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missiles.

“In the next two weeks we will declare operational the David’s Sling and at that time we will have completed our multi-tier (defense capability),” said the officer who could not be identified under military rules.

“I’m sure that together with the Iron Dome and the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 it will enhance our ability to deal with threats,” he added.

Israel used Iron Dome extensively to intercept rockets fired by Palestinian militants in the 2014 Gaza war, and the Arrow missiles were developed with an Iranian missile threat in mind.

David’s Sling, developed and manufactured jointly by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd and the U.S. Raytheon Co, would likely be used to intercept projectiles fired by the Iranian-backed Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, which last fought a war with Israel in 2006.

The Israeli military said it used an Arrow-2 on Friday to destroy an anti-aircraft missile fired from Syria after Israeli aircraft carried out strikes there.

http://www.voanews.com/a/israel-to-declare-air-defenses-shield-fully-operational-officer-says/3773961.html

 

Turkish buyers put Russia wheat deals on hold, despite denial of ban: sources

Turkish buyers have put purchases of Russian agricultural products – mainly wheat, maize (corn) and sunflower oil – on hold, despite denials from Ankara that it has effectively banned imports from Moscow, trade and industry sources said on Monday.

Last week, import licenses issued by the Turkish government no longer included Russia in a list of accepted tax-free origins, the sources said, suggesting an import tariff of 130 percent could be applied to supplies from Russia.

Turkey’s Economy Ministry said on Friday media reports it had banned imports of certain products from Russia were wrong.

However, one trader, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters: “The exports from Russia to Turkey remain suspended. My understanding is that Turkish customs have instructions not to allow the discharge of vessels with Russian wheat, corn, sunflower oil and other grain and agricultural products.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/turkey-wheat-russia-idUSL5N1GX1J7

 

IRAN LOSES THOUSANDS, 10 GENERALS IN SYRIA-IRAQ WARS

BY 

A report released by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center assesses that Iran has lost thousands of fighters and more than 10 generals while engaging in the Syria-Iraq wars.

Iran has lost thousands of fighters and more than 10 generals during its engagement in the Syria- Iraq wars, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported on Sunday.

The report from the Glilot-based center analyzed the different estimates of Iranian losses that have been recently announced.

At a conference on martyrdom in Iranian culture on March 6, Mohammad Ali Shahidi, director of the Martyrs Foundation, estimated Iranian losses in the Syria-Iraq wars at 2,100.

The report noted that Washington Institute for Near East Policy researcher Ali Alfoneh recently put the number of Iranian losses at 2,603.

The center broke down the 2,603 as 511 actual Iranians, 1,045 Hezbollah fighters and 1,047 Afghan, Pakistani and other Shi’ite militia fighters – all under Iranian command.

Notably, more than 10 Iranians of the rank equivalent to a brigadier- general have been among those killed.

The intelligence report claimed that the high losses, especially of so many senior officers, is the reason Iran’s military footprint in Syria and Iraq has fallen from thousands to hundreds.

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Iran-loses-thousands-10-generals-in-Syria-Iraq-wars-484611

REVEALED: Turkey’s Plan To ‘Camouflage’ Its Lobbying Activities In The US

CHUCK ROSS
Reporter

The government of Turkey planned to use front groups and operatives “camouflaged” as journalists to gain access to Capitol Hill and the U.S. security apparatus, hacked emails released by WikiLeaks reveal.

The documents, which are from the Gmail account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and the son-in-law of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, show the nascent plan for what has turned into a sprawling lobbying and PR campaign undertaken by the Turkish government.

Turkey’s lobbying efforts catapulted into the news last week after Donald Trump’s short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn registered as a foreign lobbyist for Turkey.

Flynn was paid $530,000 for three months of work by Inovo BV, a Dutch shell company owned by a businessman with deep connections to Ankara.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/15/revealed-turkeys-plan-to-camouflage-its-lobbying-activities-in-the-us/#ixzz4bsB2o2KS

Iran’s third Airbus delivery postponed

ایرباس321
News ID: 3936371 – Mon 20 March 2017 – 15:26
TEHRAN, Mar. 20 (MNA) – An informed resource said, most probably, banking issues have caused a delay in delivery of the third Airbus aircraft to Iran Air.

As quoted by IRIB from Paris, the informed resource said Iran’s third purchased aircraft from Airbus Airbus Aerospace company was not delivered according to the schedule mainly due to banking restrictions rather than technical issues.

An A330 aero plane was scheduled to be handed over to Iran Air, the Iranian national flag carrier, prior to beginning of the new Persian calendar year Nowruz though the process has been postponed to following days.

“Banking restrictions rather than technical issues have most probably caused the delay in the delivery process,” he underlined.

In a lucrative deal, Iran Air (Homa) has purchased 100 Airbus aircraft though only two airplanes have been so far delivered to the Iranian airline.

http://en.mehrnews.com/news/124342/Iran-s-third-Airbus-delivery-postponed

Iraq buys fighters with Israeli radars

According to the website Israel Defence, Iraq bought 24 ‘T-50IQ’ fighter jets made in South Korea and equipped with radars made in an Israeli factory.

The Israeli website, according to Safa, said that Iraq had bought the fighter jets which are similar in performance to the F-16s.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170320-iraq-buys-fighters-with-israeli-radars/

TURKEY S-400 TALKS PROGRESSING

Following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to Moscow, Turkish and Russian officials have their respective media outlets that talks regarding the sale of Almaz-Antey S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to Turkey are progressing.

Sergey Chemezov, the CEO of Rostec (the overarching firm involving Russia’s state-owned industries), told the Russian broadcaster Rossiya-24 that Ankara requested a loan to back an S-400 purchase (via Russian News Agency TASS). Chemezov added that the Russian Ministry of Finance is actively engaged in the talks, indicating that Moscow is eager to finalize a sale to Turkey.

Turkish Minister of Defence Fikri Işık told A Haber that “there is progress in the discussions.” Responding to questions regarding the S-400’s place in NATO’s air defence environment, Işık reportedly stated (via the Daily Sabah) that the S-400 “will not be integrated into the NATO system.”

Işık also confirmed that Turkey’s homegrown long-range SAM is under development, and is expected to enter production “within five-to-seven years.” Earlier reports indicated that Turkey is also seeking Russia’s technical support for the domestic SAM program.

http://quwa.org/2017/03/20/turkey-s-400-talks-progressing/

Juncker warns Turkey death penalty is ‘red line’ issue

Turkey and Europe are locked in a diplomatic crisis
Turkey and Europe are locked in a diplomatic crisis

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has warned Turkey that any return of the death penalty would be a “red line” in the country’s stalled EU membership bid.”If the death penalty is reintroduced in Turkey, that would lead to the end of negotiations,” he told Sunday’s edition of Germany’s Bild newspaper, calling it a “red line”.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday he expected parliament to approve the restoration of capital punishment after next month’s referendum on controversial consitutional changes to expand his powers.Mr Juncker nevertheless said he was opposed to a complete halt to all membership negotiations with Turkey.”It makes no sense to try to calm (Erdogan’s) nerves by stopping negotiations that are not even taking place.”German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel went even further, saying in an interview with Der Spiegel: “We are farther away than ever from Turkey’s accession to the EU.”

https://www.rte.ie/news/world/2017/0319/860931-turkey-death-penalty/

Outrage as Juncker boasts that no-one else will want to leave the EU after they see how badly the UK is punished for Brexit

  • EU commission president says ‘example’ of Brexit will discourage other states
  • Warns that Theresa May will have to accept divorce bill demand from Brussels
  • But Brexiteers deride Juncker for living in a ‘fool’s paradise’ as EU ‘crumbles’
  • Comes as PM announces she will triggers the Article 50 process on March 29
Eurosceptics have reacted with fury after Jean-Claude Juncker boasted that no-one else will want to leave the EU after they see how harshly Britain is punished.The European Commission chief crowed that the ‘example’ of the UK would ensure the survival of the Brussels club.He also threatened that Theresa May will have to accept demands from the EU for a divorce bill.But his bullish stance was derided by Brexiteers who branded him ‘out of touch’ and accused him of living in a ‘fool’s paradise’.No 10 played down the intervention, pointing out negotiations were yet to begin.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4330846/UK-example-stop-states-leaving-EU-boasts-Eurocrat.html#ixzz4buFDnx4c

Why Chabahar Deal is so Important for India?

The Chabahar deal is an extremely important strategic decision which would help India to get a transit route to Afghanistan and further to Central Asian region and beyond. This 500 million $ investment would give India a much wanted access to the region’s resources bypassing the land route via hostile Pakistan. Secondly, this port is located very close (around 100kms) to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which has been developed by China. Therefore, a geo-strategic game is at play between the two regional powerhouses (India and China) in the region.India’s trade relations and economic relations with Central Asian region in future depends a lot on the utilisation of Chabahar Port because it provides direct sea-land route access for India to reach Central Asia via Iran. The distance between India’s Kandla Port and Chabahar Port is quite short, thereby reducing the transportation costs of the goods. It can be inferred that this is a win-win situation for India. The Chabahar deal would also help in countering the China’s string of Pearl of strategy against India.https://defenceaviationpost.com/chabahar-deal-important-india/Germany owes zero debt to NATO – defense ministerGermany’s defense minister has rejected US President Donald Trump’s assertion that Berlin owed “vast sums of money” to NATO. Relations between the two allies have soured over Germany’s military spending commitments.

Verladung Panzer nach Litauen (Getty Images/S. Gallup)

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Sunday that “there is no account where debts are registered with NATO,” responding to accusations by US President Donald Trump that the Berlin government was in debt to the military alliance.The German defense minister also questioned how military spending was calculated, arguing that a country’s financial commitment to the military alliance shouldn’t be the only measure.Trump: Germany owes ‘vast sums’ for NATO

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that Germany owed NATO “vast sums of money,” just hours after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington for the first time since taking office.US demands more cashThe billionaire added that Washington “must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany.”Since he began his campaign for the US presidency, Trump has regularly used Twitter to make sweeping and contentious remarks in which he outlines changes of direction in domestic and foreign policy. But the lack of clarity often leaves other politicians and world leaders guessing.http://www.dw.com/en/germany-owes-zero-debt-to-nato-defense-minister/a-38015228

Fierce fighting erupts in Damascus as rebels, government forces clash

Syrian rebels launched a major offensive on Sunday that brought them close to the heart of the Old City of Damascus, and government forces responded with intense bombardments of rebel-held areas.The escalation, reported by witnesses, state TV, rebel sources, and a monitoring group, marked a bid by the rebels to relieve army pressure on besieged areas they control to the east of the capital.Moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) and jihadist groups were both involved in the assault on the districts of Jobar and Abbasiyin, some 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the Old City walls. Syrian state television said the army had repelled an infiltration attempts by the militants and bombarded them with artillery, inflicting heavy losses.

Witnesses said the army deployed tanks in some adjacent neighbourhoods, and troops could be seen patrolling on foot.
 

HUNGARY BOOSTS GEORGIA’S NATO AND EU INTEGRATION, FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS ON VISIT TO TBILISI

Hungary fully supports a visa waiver for Georgian citizens to the EU by the end of the month. It also maintains its role in the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, providing six police officers and five army officers, Szijjártó told Hungarian news agency MTI. Szijjártó held talks with his counterpart Mikheil Janelidze, and met President Giorgi Margvelashvili (featured above), Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze. Hungary’s top diplomat also signed an agreement with Natia Loladze, head of the Georgian Red Cross, of 10 million forints’ (EUR 32,422) support to alleviate flood damage.

http://hungarytoday.hu/news/hungary-supports-georgia-nato-eu-integration-foreign-minister-says-visit-tbilisi-36048

Taiwan confirms China’s deployment of DF-16 missiles

2017/03/20 16:15:21

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) on Monday confirmed that there is a growing military threat from China, which he said has been deploying a new type of medium-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Taiwan.

Since 2016, China has been pushing military reform, including streamlining its armed forces to improve joint combat capabilities, Feng said in a report to the Legislature on Taiwan’s responses to the changing situation in East Asia since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

In recent years, China’s air and naval forces have built main and auxiliary combat ships and produced the J-10, J-11 and J-15 fighter jets, bought Russian Su-35 fighter jets and unveiled their most advanced stealth J-20 fighter jets, Feng said.

As part of the weapons modernization program to strengthen its combat power, China has also been deploying Dong Feng-16 (DF-16) ballistic missiles capable of launching precise attacks on Taiwan proper, Feng said.

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/acs/201703200015.aspx

 

 

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March 16, 2017

Don’t Fight Saudi Arabia’s War

It would be a mistake to get more involved in the Yemeni conflict that poses no risk to national security.

By Daniel DePetris | Contributor

March 15, 2017, at 1:45 p.m.

The civil war in Yemen has created one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. According to United Nations estimates, more than two-thirds of Yemen’s entire population need some kind of assistance. Seven million people are hungry, 10,000 have been killed in the war and the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator recently reported to the Security Council “the Yemeni people now face the spectre of famine.”

While all parties in the war have violated international law during hostilities, most of the misery Yemenis have forcibly endured over the past two years were perpetrated by Saudi Arabia.

Most important, the U.S. has no vital national security interests at risk in this conflict.

Why, then, is the United States reportedly preparing to assist the Saudis to an even greater extent than when the conflict began?

The State Department recently signed off on a $350 million package of smart bombs to the Saudi-led military coalition currently combating the Houthi rebellion in Yemen. And in the event one thought this was an isolated sale to merely generate business, Foreign Policy magazine reported just last month that the Trump administration is searching for ways to escalate America’s part in the civil war “[t]o counter Iran’s proxies in Yemen.” It continues, “the administration is considering ramping up drone strikes, deploying more military advisors and carrying out more commando raids.”

This would be a mistake with potentially huge ramifications.

https://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2017-03-15/the-us-shouldnt-fight-saudi-arabias-proxy-war-with-iran-in-yemen

[Editor’s Note: This is an Iranian news source.]

This photo provided by the media bureau of the Joint Operations Command in Yemen shows the site where a Saudi helicopter was brought down in Hudaydah province, Yemen, March 16, 2017.
This photo provided by the media bureau of the Joint Operations Command in Yemen shows the site where a Saudi helicopter was brought down in Hudaydah province, Yemen, March 16, 2017.

Yemeni army soldiers and fighters from Popular Committees have shot down an Apache helicopter operated by Saudi Arabia in the western province of Hudaydah, a report says.

The chopper was brought down in Hudaydah’s Bayt al-Faqih district on Thursday, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

On January 25, the Yemeni forces shot down another Apache helicopter belonging to the so-called Saudi-led coalition in Dhubab neighborhood of Yemen’s Ta’izz province.

Ten Saudi soldiers slain

Separately on Thursday, al-Masirah reported that a Saudi trooper had been killed in the al-Dukhan military base in the kingdom’s southwestern Jizan region.

Nine other Saudi soldiers lost their lives in several places across Saudi Arabia’s southern region, including Jizan’s al-Dafinah village.

According to later reports, one of the slain soldiers came form the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/16/514582/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-Hudaydah

 

Al Houthis interception of relief ships causes famine in Yemen, government says

Al Houthis abducting aid workers and stealing relief goods, minister says

Image Credit: AP
A World Food Programme ship is docked in Aden. Hundreds of trucks transporting vital medicines, tents and food heading to Al Houthi-held areas have been seized by the militia and the goods sold on the black market, Yemen’s government said.
Saeed Al Batati, Correspondent

Al Mukalla: The internationally supported Yemeni government has said Al Houthi rebels have intercepted 63 ships and 223 convoys carrying humanitarian aid to areas under their control since ejecting President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi from Sana’a in early 2015.

In a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency on Friday, Abdul Rageeb Fateh, the minister of local administration and head of supreme relief committee, said rebels seize relief ships immediately after docking at Hodeida and Saleef seaports and supply goods to their fighters battling government forces across Yemen.

Fateh also said hundreds of trucks transporting vital medicines, tents and food heading to rebel-held territories have also been seized by Al Houthis and goods sold in the black market.

The minister accused Al Houthis of abducting 30 aid workers from areas under their control, including several Norwegian Refugee Council staff, in the Red Sea city of Hodeida. He said Al Houthi supporters in Taiz’s Khader district abducted seven aid workers. He said harassment of aid workers and interception of humanitarian convoys by Al Houthis is causing famine in areas under their control. He said humanitarian situation would deteriorate if rebels continued confiscating aid convoys.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/yemen/al-houthis-interception-of-relief-ships-causes-famine-in-yemen-government-says-1.1992019

Saudi-led coalition’s port op would cut off Yemen from food & aid supplies, Russia warns

The coalition’s “plans to storm Yemen’s biggest port of Hudaydah give rise to serious concerns,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement published on the ministry’s official website.

She added that battles in this area “would not only inevitably lead to a mass exodus of the [local] population but would also de facto cut the [Yemeni] capital of Sanaa from… food and humanitarian aid supplies.

Zakharova called the humanitarian situation in Yemen “catastrophic,” citing the UN who earlier said that the Yemeni people “face the specter of famine” while their country suffers from “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.

https://www.rt.com/news/380524-russia-yemen-saudi-op/

One of Libya’s Rival Governments Asks Russia for Military Assistance

March 15, 2017 6:00 PM

A member of Libyan security forces gestures after armed groups aligned with a U.N.-backed government took over a compound occupied by a self-declared rival prime minister in heavy fighting, in Tripoli, Libya, March 15, 2017.

A member of Libyan security forces gestures after armed groups aligned with a U.N.-backed government took over a compound occupied by a self-declared rival prime minister in heavy fighting, in Tripoli, Libya, March 15, 2017.

An interview in Russian state media Tuesday indicates that one of Libya’s rival governments is looking increasingly to Moscow as a patron, a move that’s concerning U.S. military commanders in the region.

Aguila Saleh, speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR), told RIA Novosti, a Kremlin-controlled news agency, that he’s asked Russia to help train Libyan National Army fighters led by General Khalifa Haftar and has invited Russian lawmakers to visit eastern Libya.

“Most of our officers were trained in Russia and many speak Russian, and they know how to use Russian equipment,” Saleh is reported as saying. He promised Libya will pay $4 billion in Gadhafi-era military debt owed to Russia and added the Kremlin has promised to help “in the fight against terrorism.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/libya-rival-government-asks-russia-for-military-assistance/3767870.html

Moldova sees Russian plot to derail money-laundering probe

By Matthias Williams | CHISINAU

Two months ago, Moldova’s Deputy General Prosecutor Iurie Garaba traveled to Moscow with an invitation to attend an official function for Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Day.

The visit didn’t go as planned.

Garaba was stopped by border guards at Moscow’s airport and taken in for questioning. He said one guard rifled through his passport for 15-20 minutes while another asked what he was doing in Russia – despite his official invitation and a document naming him as the head of the Moldovan delegation.

“I was asked questions that have absolutely nothing to do with border document checks. For example, ‘How do I pronounce my last name?’, or ‘How to write it correctly?’, Garaba told Reuters by telephone.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm his version of events.

But some Moldovan officials say the incident is part of a campaign by members of Russia’s security apparatus to humiliate officials from the ex-Soviet state as they travel to or through Russia.

The primary aim, four top Moldovan officials including Garaba’s boss Eduard Harunjen told Reuters, is to derail a Moldovan probe into a Russian-led money laundering operation that funneled $22.3 billion of Russian money through the Moldovan financial system between 2011-2014.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-moldova-russia-insight-idUSKBN16M1QQ

Russian Bribe Jumps 75 Percent, Anti-Corruption Tsar Tells Newspaper

MOSCOW — Graft is a booming business in Russia, where the average bribe has grown by 75 percent year-on-year, according to the country’s anti-corruption tsar.

Greasing the palm of a Russian official cost 328,000 rubles ($5,600) on average in 2016, leading business daily Kommersant quoted Lt. Gen. Andrei Kurnosenko as saying on Thursday.

“But often the bribes are much higher,” the policeman said, according to the paper.

The total amount of money spent on bribes was 298 billion rubles ($5.1 billion) in 2016, Kurnosenko said. But this is only the corruption uncovered by law enforcement agencies, which opened 69,000 cases involving graft and fraud last year, he added.

Kurnosenko did not explain the reasons for the increase. The ruble has lost half its value against the dollar since 2014 in the wake of international sanctions imposed as punishment over Russian meddling in Ukraine and plummeting oil prices.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russian-bribe-jumps-75-percent-anti-corruption-tsar-tells-newspaper-n734246

Iran behind Yemeni rebels’ explosive boats

– – Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels working to take power in Yemen are using a new weapon that is raising fears of seaborne attacks on both military and commercial shipping in the region.

The weapon is an Iranian-designed remotely piloted small boat filled with explosives, a defense official told Inside the Ring.

The exact number of the explosive drone boats is not known, but the rebels are believed to have enough to threaten ships that pass through the strategic sea lanes off the Yemeni coast. The Navy has intelligence photos of the deadly boats but declined a request to release them. The boats were first detected after one was used in an attack Jan. 30 on a Saudi frigate in the Red Sea.

Iran is backing Houthi rebels as part of a strategy of seeking to encircle its rival, Saudi Arabia, and ultimately to take control of the peninsula.

One strategic objective of the Iranians is to control the strategic Bab el-Mandeb or Mandeb Strait on the southern Red Sea that is a major shipping passage.

Iran already has a major influence in Iraq and in the past has threatened to shut down shipping in the Persian Gulf by targeting traffic passing through the Hormuz Strait.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/15/inside-the-ring-iran-behind-yemeni-rebels-explosiv/

Pentagon Deploys B-52 Bombers, 400 Airmen for Iraq, Syria Air Campaign

© AFP 2017/ Paul CROCK

The Pentagon has sent to Iraq and Syria more than 400 airmen along with B-52H Stratofortresse jets for day-to-day combat operations in a first event of a kind in over twelve years.

WASHIGTON (Sputnik) — B-52 bombers at Minot Air Force Base in the US State of North Dakota have been deployed, along with more than 400 airmen, to the air campaign in Syria and Iraq against the Daesh terror group (outlawed in Russia), the Department of Defense stated in a press release on Wednesday.

“The 23rd Bomb Squadron sent a number of B-52H Stratofortresses to take over day-to-day operations, which will be the first time in 12 years aircraft from the base have deployed in support of combat operations,” the release stated.

The B-52 is a subsonic long-range bomber that can fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet and deploy the widest range of weapons in the US aerial arsenal.

The aircraft has been operated by the US Air Force since the 1950s.

The US-led coalition of 69 nations has conducted an air campaign against Daesh in Syria and Iraq since the summer of 2014. However, the coalition’s actions in Syria have not been approved by the country’s government of President Bashar Assad or the UN Security Council.

It was also reported that the United States may deploy an additional 1,000 troops into northern Syria in a matter of weeks to aid the offensive against Daesh in Raqqa.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201703161051627659-pentagon-b52-syria-iraq/

 

F-35 firing boosts ASRAAM sales prospects

[Editor’s Note: MBDA is owned by BAE Systems and Airbus Group which each have 37.5% shares and Leonardo – Finmeccanica which has a 25% share.  The group was formed by a merger of French Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles (of EADS, now Airbus Group), Italian Alenia Marconi Systems (now Leonardo) and British Matra BAe Dynamics (of BAE Systems) in December 2001.]

Lockheed Martin F-35s have fired their first non-US-produced missiles in testing, with the activity providing a boost to MBDA’s sales efforts for the ASRAAM.

Announcing the development on 15 March, MBDA said flight trials and air-launched firings have taken place using test aircraft operating from Edwards AFB, California and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

The short-range, infrared-guided ASRAAM is being integrated with the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B variant for the UK. “The effort is progressing to plan, and these integration activities will allow the initial operating capability of the aircraft” for the nation, MBDA says.

The European company hopes that other F-35 customers could opt to acquire its weapon, in preference to the Raytheon AIM-9X. Australia already uses the Mach 3-capable missile on its Boeing F/A-18A/B strike aircraft, and has previously expressed some interest in also using it with its Joint Strike Fighters.

“The fact that it is a real firing that has taken place is important, because that allows the other F-35A and B users to now have a choice,” says Dave Armstrong, MBDA’s executive group director for sales and business development.

Meanwhile, Armstrong says the company remains hopeful that the US military could acquire its Brimstone air-to-surface missile to provide some of its fast jet platforms with an “off-the-shelf” precision strike capability against moving targets, despite the business uncertainty raised by US President Donald Trump’s buy-American agenda.

“We know that the US military still aspires to have Brimstone on [Boeing] F-15 and F-18,” he says. “It’s a question of economics and programme management.”

MBDA on 15 March reported its receipt of new orders worth €4.7 billion ($5 billion) in 2016, against sales totalling €3 billion. This compares with respective figures of €5.2 billion and €2.9 billion in 2015, and chief executive Antoine Bouvier notes that the company’s book-to-bill ratio over the past four years has been 1.6, due to “an exceptional order track record”.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/f-35-firing-boosts-asraam-sales-prospects-435233/

 

Top Indonesian fighter with IS killed in Syria

Followers of the Islamic State (IS) group in Indonesia for the second time in less than a year have lost a leader with the reported death of Bahrumsyah, an Indonesian militant fighting in Syria who is said to have died on a suicide mission in the war-torn country.

Bahrumsyah’s death comes only four months after IS Indonesian jihadist Abu Jandal al Yemeni Al Indonesi alias Salim Mubarak Atamimi was killed during a US-led international coalition assault in Mosul, Iraq, in November 2016.

The death of Bahrumsyah leaves Bahrun Naim as the only Indonesian IS fighter in Syria with a reputable position in the terrorist organisation.

http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/top-indonesian-fighter-killed-syria#sthash.nn3ibUYy.dpuf

Al Qaeda Is Starting to Swallow the Syrian Opposition

After six years of conflict, Syria and its people have been completely transformed. The effects of a crisis that has killed nearly a half-million people and forced nearly 11.5 million more from their homes are now etched into the many identities to which Syrians attach themselves. While a majority of Syrians vigorously resist the formal breakup of their country, it is impossible to ignore how the brutal and protracted war has instilled deep divisions in a once-cohesive society.

In many areas of the country, battle lines remain physically drawn among villages that once lived in harmony. And the sectarian dynamic that was once supported only by extremist fringes has started to decisively shape the mainstream opposition.

But Syria’s armed opposition is also changing as a result of internal pressures. Al Qaeda’s Syrian representatives — rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) in July 2016 and then renamed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) after subsuming several other groups in January — have been relentless, and patient, in pursuing their long-term objective: a merger of all armed Syrian opposition groups under its broad transnational Islamic umbrella. Al Qaeda has commonly called this goal a “uniting of the ranks.”

Largely free of any government instruction, and spurred on by the gradual weakening of the opposition’s most moderate base, al Qaeda spent much of 2012 to 2015 building the trust of Syria’s opposition under the guise of Jabhat al-Nusra, which means literally “support front.” This was the first phase of al Qaeda’s attempt to embed itself in the opposition. The group positioned itself as merely one component of a broad Syrian revolutionary movement, using controlled pragmatism, a clearly defined military strategy, and an emphasis on localism to socialize Syrians into accepting, then supporting, its presence. By rebranding itself as JFS in mid-2016 and by telling Syrians that it had broken its external ties to al Qaeda, the group sought to overcome the only remaining hurdle to uniting the ranks by convincing enough of Syria’s opposition that it was a fundamentally Syrian movement, dedicated to a local cause and not to a transnational jihadi project.

Al Qaeda Is Starting to Swallow the Syrian Opposition

Moscow lends Turkey credit card to buy Russian missiles

Turkey is looking to pay for a new Russian missile defence system with a loan from Moscow, according to the Russian CEO responsible for the deal.

The loan required to buy a new S-400 missile system was being considered by the Kremlin, Sergey Chemezov told Russia’s state-owned news channel, Rossiya-24.

“They have expressed a wish to get a loan, but the issue has not yet been resolved,” the CEO of Rostech said.

“The Finance Ministry is holding talks, as soon as they sign this and take a decision on allocating a loan, we will sign contracts on supplies, including the S-400.”

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/3/15/moscow-lends-turkey-credit-card-to-buy-russian-missiles

Greek group claims it mailed parcel bomb to German finance minister

The militant Greek group Conspiracy of Fire Cells has claimed responsibility for a parcel bomb mailed to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, police said on Thursday.

The parcel was mailed to Schaeuble from a post office branch in Athens but was intercepted by the German finance ministry’s mail department.

The group has previously claimed responsibility for a wave of parcel bombs sent to foreign embassies in Athens in 2010.

“We still have the rage. We sent the package to Germany’s finance minister as part of the second act of Nemesis Plan,” the group said in a statement on the internet. “Nothing is over, everything continues.”

It did not specify what Nemesis Plan was. Police consider the claim as credible.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-schaueble-parcelbomb-idUSKBN16N1BA

Letter bomb explodes at France office of IMF, injuring 1

A letter bomb exploded Thursday at the French office of the International Monetary Fund, lightly injuring one person, according to Paris police.

Staff from the IMF office were evacuated and armed military officers and police guarded the area, in a chic district of western Paris. The World Bank office in France is in the same compound.

It is unclear who sent the homemade explosive, which was like a “big firecracker” and sent by regular mail, said Paris police chief Michel Cadot. He said the IMF office had received threatening phone calls in recent days but they were not necessarily linked to Thursday’s incident.

IMF director Christine Lagarde, who is French, said in a statement that she was informed about the explosion while on a trip to Germany. “I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF’s resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate,” she said.

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/business/article138830503.html#storylink=cpy

S-400 missile systems will not be integrated into NATO system, Defense Minister says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
emAA Photo/em

AA Photo

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said that Russia’s S-400 missile systems would not be integrated into the NATO system during a televised live interview Thursday.

Işık said that Turkey preferred to purchase the long-range missiles from a NATO member, but added that Turkey had not seen desired cooperation.

The defense minister stated that if the two countries agree upon the sale of S-400 missile defense systems, then there would not be any obstacles.

Işık emphasized that the S-400 missiles would be placed under national control, adding that Turkey could produce its own missile defense system within five to seven years, which would then be integrated into the NATO system.

Turkish officials confirmed Wednesday that the talks between Turkey and Russia concerning the sale of S-400 missile defense systems have been positive, also noting that negotiations on the details of the deal are ongoing.

The sale of the missile system was also discussed during a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow during Erdoğan’s visit to Russia March 10.

https://www.dailysabah.com/defense/2017/03/16/s-400-missile-systems-will-not-be-integrated-into-nato-system-defense-minister-says

 

Russia Military To Practice Detecting Missiles Amid NATO Tensions

Amid growing tensions with NATO, a division of Russia’s Aerospace Force will practice detecting ballistic missiles during launches carried out by the Strategic Missile Force, Aerospace Force Commander-in-Chief Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev said Wednesday, in an interview with Russian daily Krasnaya Zvezda.

Space Troops, the division of Aerospace Force, is expected to launch 15 carrier rockets this year and about 40 tactical exercises with subordinate military units will also be conducted, Bondarev reportedly said.

“The Space Troops will team up with other branches and services of the Russian Armed Forces to practice detecting ballistic missiles, using the forces and resources of the (Special Designation) Aerospace Army during the demonstrative launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles by the Strategic Missile Force,” Bondarev told the Russian-language newspaper, according to Tass news agency.

“For the purpose of building up the orbital grouping of satellites, 15 launches of space carrier rockets have been planned to deliver more than 20 satellites into orbit,” Bondarev added.

http://www.ibtimes.com/russia-military-practice-detecting-missiles-amid-nato-tensions-2509521

Kuwait approves NATO use of its territory

BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Foreign Minister of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari (not seen) hold a press conference after signing an agreement on border gates, security and aviation cooperation in Baghdad, Iraq, on 28 December 2016. [Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

Foreign Minister of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah attends a press conference after signing an agreement on border gates, security and aviation

The Kuwaiti National Assembly approved on Tuesday an Agreement between the State of Kuwait and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on the transit of troops and members of the alliance across Kuwaiti territory.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly explained in a report that the agreement works on a legal basis and provisions which permit the transit of forces and members of the NATO alliance through the State of Kuwait if a request is made.

Kuwait News Agency reported First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, saying that Kuwait is “one of the first countries to join the Istanbul iInitiative, which seeks to see security and stability in the region in 2004”.

Sabah stressed on the importance of cooperating with 28 countries represented in the alliance for the sake of the country’s security and stability.

He noted Kuwait has cooperated with NATO in several areas such as counter-terrorism, natural calamities and in areas of maritime security and military training.

Al-Sabah said his country’s cooperation with NATO came in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions which stipulate helping NATO forces and facilitating their tasks to help in Iraq and Afghanistan.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170316-kuwait-approves-nato-use-of-its-territory/

14 Obama Holdovers Still at the PentagonDrew Angerer – Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – There are 14 Obama holdovers still at the Pentagon, two months into the Trump administration.

Currently, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is the only presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed appointee at the Pentagon, out of 53 such positions.

Obama holdovers are filling four of those positions: Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work remains in his position; Robert Speer is serving as Acting Army Secretary; Sean Stackley is serving as Acting Navy Secretary; and Lisa Disbrow as Acting Air Force Secretary.

The Pentagon said there are 10 other Obama holdovers still serving, but has declined to name who they are or what positions they are filling.

Trump has filled an additional 32 slots for non-Senate confirmed positions, for a total of 33 hires, including Mattis. That number is less than a fourth of the 163 political appointees at the Pentagon on election day.

The White House was expected to announce a handful of names for top political positions at the Pentagon as soon as this week, a defense official told Breitbart News. The White House declined to give a time frame for the announcement.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/03/16/14-obama-holdovers-still-at-the-pentagon/

Espionage risk to US heightened as China’s military presses its domestic tech firms

China is taking a page from the Pentagon’s playbook under the Obama administration: it’s partnering with tech companies to develop more cutting-edge weapons.

But China’s innovation-focused strategy could elevate the espionage risk to the U.S.

Ironically, this new threat emerges as the Trump administration is expected to slow its outreach to the tech firms.

Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an address to the country’s national legislature where he urged the People’s Liberation Army “to speed up” the application of advanced technologies, according to the Chinese military’s official web portal. Jinping sees “integrated military and civilian development” as one of the drivers of science-tech innovation and key to upgrading China’s military capabilities.

‘Trump’s presidency is an opportunity for Xi’  Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 | 7:27 PM ET | 01:23

“If you were to look at reports like Chinese military power over time, it’s obvious that China is closing the gap more quickly than, for example, we probably would have estimated five or three years ago,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security expert and Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, D.C.

The communist nation’s military has made major technology strides in the past decade in missile, laser weapon, advanced sensor and stealth aircraft development with the help of Chinese firms in the civilian sector.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/15/espionage-risk-to-us-heightened-by-china-military-innovation-push.html

Donald Trump gives Pentagon permission to carry out more raids in Yemen after botched operation

Similar permission is being sought by military leaders to carry out operations in Libya and Somalia 

  • Ben Kentish
  • Donald Trump has reportedly given the Pentagon permission to carry out more raids in Yemen – despite a botched mission in January that resulted in the deaths of 20 civilians and a US Navy Seal.

The White House told military leaders they can carry out missions in the Gulf state without specific presidential approval.

Negotiations about extending similar permissions to raids in Libya and Somalia are also taking place, CNN reported.

Instead of needing Mr Trump to sign off on specific missions, officials told the broadcaster that military leaders will be given the freedom to carry out operations providing they are in line with a broader strategy agreed by the President.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-yemen-raids-permission-botched-death-navy-seal-ryan-owens-a7631126.html

Trump’s ‘Reaffirming the Right of CIA to Decide Whom to Kill and Where’

US President Donald Trump has authorized the CIA to carry out drone strikes against terrorists, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday citing anonymous US officials. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Laurie Calhoun, the author of the book “We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age.”

US drone campaigns have been repeatedly criticized for civilian casualties. Now there are concerns that the authorization of the CIA to carry out drone strikes against terrorists will lead to even more controversy.

Trump reportedly extended the authority of the agency shortly after his inauguration. The intelligence agency will now be able to use unmanned aircraft and target terrorists without permission from the Pentagon or the White House.

https://sputniknews.com/us/201703151051619733-trump-reaffirming-cia/

North Korean Hackers Were Behind a Recent Major Cyber Attack

A North Korean hacking group known as Lazarus was likely behind a recent cyber campaign targeting organizations in 31 countries, following high-profile attacks on Bangladesh Bank, Sony and South Korea, cyber security firm Symantec said on Wednesday.

Symantec said in a blog that researchers have uncovered four pieces of digital evidence suggesting the Lazarus group was behind the campaign that sought to infect victims with “loader” software used to stage attacks by installing other malicious programs.

“We are reasonably certain” Lazarus was responsible, Symantec researcher Eric Chien said in an interview.

The North Korean government has denied allegations it was involved in the hacks, which were made by officials in Washington and Seoul, as well as security firms.

http://fortune.com/2017/03/15/north-korea-hackers-cyber-attack/

Taiwan military to upgrade fighters, seek stealth capability

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan is planning to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets and will seek cutting-edge stealth aircraft from the United States in the face of a growing military threat from rival China, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The announcement follows the release of this year’s $11.4 billion defense budget, an increase of less than 1 percent from last year, reflecting strains on the government’s finances resulting from a heavy entitlements burden and slowing growth in the high-tech, export-oriented economy.

That compares to China’s 7 percent rise in defense spending, announced this week, bringing its defense budget to about $151 billion, the world’s second largest after the United States.

In response, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told lawmakers that Taiwan is focusing on inexpensive but effective “asymmetric warfare” techniques to combat threats in the air and seas.

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/taiwan-military-to-upgrade-fighters-seek-stealth-capability/

Take your best shot: Iraqi soldiers are now using SHUTTLECOCK grenades attached to drones to bomb jihadis (after stealing the idea from ISIS)

  • Feathered tails usually found on badminton courts being attached to explosives
  • They are fitted in order to keep them balanced when they fall ensuring accuracy
  • ISIS had previously been using the tactic, which is now employed by Iraqi troops 

The Iraqi army is giving ISIS a taste of its own medicine by bombing them with shuttlecock grenades attached to drones.

The feathered tails, usually found on badminton courts across the world, are being attached to the grenades in order to keep them balanced when they fall to ensure a more accurate explosion.

ISIS had previously been using the tactic to drop bombs on coalition forces and civilians in Iraq, but after seeing their effectiveness, the weapons are now in the hands of their opposition.

A member of the Iraqi forces carries two grenades carrying feathers, which are to be fired from a drone in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul

A member of the Iraqi forces carries two grenades carrying feathers, which are to be fired from a drone in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul

Two Iraqi soldiers prepare the drone on the street next to a heavily-armoured vehicle for the test flight 

Two Iraqi soldiers prepare the drone on the street next to a heavily-armoured vehicle for the test flight

Terrorists have used small commercial drones to drop explosives on advancing Iraqi forces since they launched the offensive to retake Iraq’s second city in October.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4319902/Iraqi-soldiers-using-SHUTTLECOCK-grenades-target-ISIS.html#ixzz4bVjDlw5b

Suspected Hack Attack Snagging Cell Phone Data Across D.C.

Malicious entity could be tracking phones of domestic, foreign officials

 

BY:
March 16, 2017 12:50 pm

An unusual amount of highly suspicious cellphone activity in the Washington, D.C., region is fueling concerns that a rogue entity is surveying the communications of numerous individuals, likely including U.S. government officials and foreign diplomats, according to documents viewed by the Washington Free Beacon and conversations with security insiders.

A large spike in suspicious activity on a major U.S. cellular carrier has raised red flags in the Department of Homeland Security and prompted concerns that cellphones in the region are being tracked. Such activity could allow pernicious actors to clone devices and other mobile equipment used by civilians and government insiders, according to information obtained by the Free Beacon.

It remains unclear who is behind the attacks, but the sophistication and amount of time indicates it could be a foreign nation, sources said.

Mass amounts of location data appear to have been siphoned off by a third party who may have control of entire cell phone towers in the area, according to information obtained by the Free Beacon. This information was compiled by a program that monitors cell towers for anomalies supported by DHS and ESD America and known as ESD Overwatch.

Cell phone information gathered by the program shows major anomalies in the D.C.-area indicating that a third-party is tracking en-masse a large number of cellphones. Such a tactic could be used to clone phones, introduce malware to facilitate spying, and track government phones being used by officials in the area.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/hack-attack-cell-phone-data-dc/

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March 15, 2017

U.S. military likely to send as many as 1,000 more ground troops into Syria ahead of Raqqa offensive, officials say

The U.S. military has drawn up early plans that would deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria in the coming weeks, expanding the American presence in the country ahead of the offensive on the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter.

The deployment, if approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump, would potentially double the number of U.S. forces in Syria and increase the potential for direct U.S. combat involvement in a conflict that has been characterized by confusion and competing priorities among disparate forces. 

Trump, who charged former president Barack Obama with being weak on Syria, gave the Pentagon 30 days to prepare a new counter-Islamic State plan, and Mattis submitted a broad outline to the White House at the end of February. Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, has been filling in more details for that outline, including by how much to increase the U.S. ground presence in Syria. Votel is set to forward his recommendations to Mattis by the end of the month, and the Pentagon secretary is likely to sign off on them, according to a defense official familiar with the deliberations.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/03/15/u-s-military-probably-sending-as-many-as-1000-more-ground-troops-into-syria-ahead-of-raqqa-offensive-officials-say/?utm_term=.ddec14ff9b90

The US prepares to ‘incapacitate’ Kim: USS Carl Vinson carrying huge fleet of fighter jets arrives in South Korea as military sources reveal plan to ‘remove’ Jong-un’s war chiefs

  • USS Carl Vinson arrived at the southern port of Busan, in South Korea, to join the annual joint military exercise
  • South Korea military source says heightened presence is part of plan to decapitate North Korean leadership
  • Pyongyang has long condemned the annual joint drills – called Foal Eagle – between South Korea and the US
  • Tensions have escalated with missile launches from North and assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother 

A growing US presence off the Korean Peninsula is reportedly part of a plan aimed at ‘incapacitating’ Kim Jong Un’s despotic regime in Pyongyang should conflict break out.

A nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea on Wednesday for joint military exercises in the latest show of force against the North.

The USS Carl Vinson arrived at the southern port of Busan as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began a tour of the region, where tensions have escalated in recent weeks with missile launches from the nuclear-armed North and the assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s estranged half-brother in Malaysia.

More than 80 aircraft, including the fighter aircraft F/A-18F Super Hornet, the E-2C Hawkeye and the carrier-based EA-18G Growler are on board the supercarrier.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency claims the heightened military presence is part of a plan to decapitate North Korean leadership.

They claim a military official, who wished to remain anonymous, told them: ‘A bigger number of and more diverse U.S. special operation forces will take part in this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4315150/US-carrier-South-Korea-force-North.html#ixzz4bOaHktcz

Another Syria? US eyes warily as Russia positions forces near Libya

IS RUSSIA PULLING A SYRIA IN LIBYA? The U.S. is watching warily as Russia appears to be positioning forces to possibly intervene in Libya, a fractured country with a barely working “Government of National Accord.” This morning, Moscow is denying that Russian special forces have deployed to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya, as reported by Reuters. And U.S. aerial reconnaissance assets have spotted Russian transport aircraft and a large Russian drone at the Sidi Barrani airbase in Egypt, about 60 miles from the Libyan border, and unnamed U.S. officials are saying it’s an indication that Russia is interfering in Libya, CNN reports.

The concern, raised last week at the Senate Armed Services Committee, is that Russia may be moving to support Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar in the same it way moved into Syria to prop up Bashar Assad in 2015. “Russia is trying to exert influence on the ultimate decision of who becomes and what entity becomes in charge of the government inside Libya. They’re working to influence that decision,” Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of the U.S. Africa Command, testified Thursday. When Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested, “They’re trying to do in Libya what they’ve been doing in Syria?” Waldhauser replied, “That’s a good way to characterize it.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/us-eyes-warily-as-russia-positions-forces-near-libya/article/feed/2176579

 

Hackers to be charged in Yahoo security breach

U.S. officials are planning to unveil charges Wednesday related to the theft of personal data that affected hundreds of millions of Yahoo users and disrupted the company’s sale to Verizon, according to people familiar with the matter.

At least some of the alleged hackers have ties to the Russian government, said the people, who added the national security division of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation plan to announce the charges Wednesday morning.

In September, Yahoo revealed hackers penetrated its network in late 2014 and stole personal data on more than 500 million users. The company concluded that it had been breached by “a state-sponsored actor.” The 2014 incident was separate from another much larger theft, affecting more than a billion accounts, that Yahoo disclosed in December and that dated back to 2013.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/03/15/hackers-to-be-charged-in-yahoo-security-breach.html

13 arrested for ‘deep corruption’ at Israeli Aerospace Industries

Months-long covert probe yields suspicions of fraud, money laundering against employees of IAI, former senior IDF officer

Police arrested 13 people, including a former high-ranking IDF officer, on Wednesday morning, following a months-long “deep corruption” probe into the Israeli Aerospace Industries, police said.

They are suspected of a wide range of corruption charges, including fraud and money laundering.

The suspects came from IAI and private companies who either supplied or were supplied by IAI, along with the aforementioned former senior Israel Defense Forces officer, who police said was “well known in the defense establishment.”

A number of other people were “detained for investigation,” but not formally arrested, police said.

IAI said it would cooperate with the probe.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/13-arrested-in-deep-corruption-probe-at-israeli-aerospace-industries/

Syria conflict: Suicide bomber targets Damascus courthouse

[Syrian state-owned television says at least 25 people have been killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives’ vest inside the main judicial building in the capital Damascus. http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation-world/article138584288.html#storylink=cpy%5D

Dozens of people have been killed or injured in a suicide bomb attack at the main court building in the Syrian capital Damascus, state media report.

State TV said a militant had blown himself up inside the Palace of Justice in the central Hamidiya district.

An AFP news agency journalist reported seeing ambulances and fire engines parked outside the building.

It comes on the sixth anniversary of the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39277179

US demands UN pull report accusing Israel of apartheid

Envoy Nikki Haley says Washington outraged by publication, calls for UN chief to scrap it; Israel slams document as ‘despicable’

The United States on Wednesday demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians and of racially dominating them.

Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” said Haley in a statement. “The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.

“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” said Haley.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-demands-un-pull-report-accusing-israel-of-apartheid/

 

Second Damascus suicide bomb attack hit restaurant, several casualties: state media

The second suicide bomber to attack the Syrian capital of Damascus on Wednesday set off an explosive device inside a restaurant in the al-Rabweh area, to the west of an earlier suicide attack, state media said.

State-run SANA news agency said there were several casualties. No further details were immediately available.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-bomb-idUSKBN16M1S6?

 

Retired admiral, 8 others charged in latest ‘Fat Leonard’ indictments

Navy officers indicted for fraud, bribery

Christopher P. Cavas, Defense News , WVEC 7:17 AM. EDT March 15, 2017

WASHINGTON — Retired US Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, four retired Navy captains, a Marine colonel and three other individuals were arrested and charged Tuesday in the latest indictments related to the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) bribery scandal. The investigation is also known as the “Fat Leonard” case, after a nickname for GDMA’s former chief executive officer, Leonard Francis.

The latest federal indictment charges the individuals with accepting luxury travel, elaborate dinners and the services of prostitutes from Singapore-based GDMA, according to the US Department of Justice, all in exchange for classified and internal US Navy information.

Glenn Defense Marine Asia was one of the biggest husbanding firms in the western Pacific, handling a large variety of services for ships visiting ports throughout the region.

With Tuesday’s arrests, a total of 25 individuals have been charged in connection with the corruption and fraud investigation into GDMA, the Justice Department said in a press release. Of those charged, Justice said, 20 are current or former U.S. Navy officials and five are GDMA executives. Thirteen of those charged already have pleaded guilty.

http://www.13newsnow.com/news/military/retired-admiral-8-others-charged-in-latest-fat-leonard-indictments/422706226

 

Palestinian woman shot during suspected car-ramming attempt

No serious injuries reported as female assailant tries to drive into bus stop at West Bank’s Etzion Junction

A car that was driven into a bus stop in an apparent terror attack in the Etzion Junction in the West Bank on March 15, 2017. (Screen capture: Facebook)

A car that was driven into a bus stop in an apparent terror attack in the Etzion Junction in the West Bank on March 15, 2017. (Screen capture: Facebook)

No Israelis were seriously injured in the incident, though a 28-year-old woman in advanced stages of pregnancy was taken to the hospital after experiencing a panic attack, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

The Palestinian woman’s condition was not immediately known, but she was receiving treatment from the Israel Defense Forces, MDA said.

The incident occurred shortly before 4:00 p.m.

A photograph from the scene, posted on social media, showed the Palestinian woman inside her car, which was pressed up against the metal bollards surrounding a bus stop.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-woman-shot-during-suspected-car-ramming-attempt/

Iran vows to ‘liberate’ Golan Heights

New Hezbollah-backed group aims to help Syria reconquer Golan Heights.

Contact Editor

Chana Roberts

A new Iran-funded Iraqi Hezbollah “brigade” aims to “liberate” the Golan Heights from Israel, spokesman Seyed Hashem Moussavi last week said last week at a news conference in Iran.

According to Iranian news agency Tasnim, Moussavi, who heads the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba terror sub-group, said, “After the latest victories [in Syria and Iraq], we established the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’.

“This is a trained army with specific plans. If the government of Syria requests, we and our allies are ready to take action to liberate Golan. We will not permit Arab and Islamic countries in the region to remain in the grasps of the occupiers.”

According to Moussavi, the new terror group is well-trained and equipped with Iranian rockets and Russian-made T-90 tanks.

Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba Secretary-General Akram al-Kabi said, “The declaration regarding the formation of the Liberation of the Golan Brigade is not only a media campaign, but the real goal of the movement.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/226732

Iran sends destroyer and warship to the Gulf of Aden

In a provocative move, Iran announced sending the “45 Group” of the Iranian Naval Force, which consists of a ship and a destroyer to the Gulf of Aden and Bab al-Mandab. The tension caused by the continued friction between the Iranian gunboats and US forces located in international waters is due to the persistent attempts of Iran to assist and provide the Yemeni militia with weapons.

Tasnim news agency, the subsidiary to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claimed that “Iranian warships are going to the Gulf of Aden and Bab al Mandab “in an effort to maintain the Iranian merchant ships,” currently docked at the Omani ports. Ever since Operation Decisive Storm, launched by the Arab coalition under the leadership of Saudi Arabia in March 2015 to regain legitimacy in Yemen, the Iranian navy has stepped up its provocative moves against US forces in the region.

According to observers, Iran aims to control the corridors of international navigation in order to continue to tamper with and send weapons to its allies in the region like the Houthi Militia in Yemen, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the Hezbollah Militia in Lebanon.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/14/Iran-sends-destroyer-and-warship-to-the-Gulf-of-Aden.html

Explosion hits security convoy in southeast Turkey

Highway blast targeting security forces kills two soldiers on a road linking the cities of Mardin and Diyarbakir.

At least two soldiers have been killed in an explosion on a highway in southeast Turkey, according to security sources.

The troops on Wednesday were carrying out operations to detect mines in the region when suspected fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) detonated a previously planted mine, Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which targeted a vehicle loaded with soldiers as it passed by a road linking the cities of Mardin and Diyarbakir.

Ambulances rushed to the scene following the blast.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/explosion-hits-security-convoy-southeast-turkey-170315065259074.html

EU says Turkey ‘completely detached from reality’

‘The European Union is not joining Turkey, Turkey is joining the EU,’ European Commission president said.

Two top EU leaders on Wednesday slammed the Turkish government for comparing some EU countries to Nazis and said Ankara was moving further away from membership of the bloc.

EU-Turkey ties soured further last week when Dutch authorities barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from landing in Rotterdam after a political rally at which he was slated to appear was canceled. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by saying “Nazism is still widespread in the West.”

Speaking to a debate at European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Erdoğan’s comments had “scandalized” him, and would keep Turkey far from its goal of EU membership.

“I will never accept this comparison,” Juncker said. “If you are establishing that comparison — the one who is doing this is taking distance from Europe, not trying to enter the EU.”

“The European union is not joining Turkey, Turkey is joining the EU,” he added.

http://www.politico.eu/article/eu-says-turkey-completely-detached-from-reality/

High-profile Twitter accounts including BBC, Amnesty and Forbes are hacked with Nazi jibes by Erdogan supporters as part of Turkish diplomatic row with Holland and EU

  • Accounts hijacked included the European Parliament and UK health department

  • Several news outlets also had there verified accounts hacked 

  • The attack appears to have come through a third party app,  Twitter Counter

Dozens of high profile Twitter accounts have been hacked, with swastikas and messages in support of Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan.The escalating diplomatic spat between Turkey and the Netherlands spread online with a large number of Twitter accounts, many with no apparent connection to the dispute, were hijacked and replaced with anti-Nazi messages in Turkish.The attacks, which appeared to be simply a form of political vandalism, used the hashtags #Nazialmanya or #Nazihollanda, took over accounts of high-profile CEOs, publishers, government agencies and also some regular Twitter users.

The verified Twitter account for Forbes.com was among those hacked. Its profile pictures were changed to the Turkish flag and a symbol of the Ottoman Empire

The verified Twitter account for Forbes.com was among those hacked. Its profile pictures were changed to the Turkish flag and a symbol of the Ottoman Empire

Several non-profit agencies including Amnesty International and UNICEF USA were also targeted by hackers. Messages were posted in Turkish on their accounts 

Several non-profit agencies including Amnesty International and UNICEF USA were also targeted by hackers. Messages were posted in Turkish on their accounts

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4315458/High-profile-Twitter-accounts-hijacked-Turkish-Dutch-protest.html#ixzz4bQadp2DM

Taiwan says Chinese military threat grows, U.S. regional strategy unclear

By J.R. Wu
TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s accelerated military development and recent activity by its military aircraft and ships around Taiwan pose an increased threat to the self-ruled island, according to a Taiwanese government defense report draft reviewed by Reuters.The 2017 Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) also highlights the uncertainty over the future strategic direction of the United States in the region, the impact of Japan flexing its military capabilities and “conflict crisis” potential in the disputed South China Sea.”The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in (China’s) military threat capabilities,” highlighting the importance of Taiwan’s need to defend itself, the review will say.”In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability.”The document is due to be presented to parliament on Thursday by Taiwan defense minister Feng Shih-kuan. The defense ministry had no comment on the report on
Wednesday.https://uk.news.yahoo.com/exclusive-taiwan-says-chinese-military-threat-grows-u-032609804.html

On Monday morning, North Korea launched four missiles from the northwest corner of the country that traveled 620 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan.While none of the launches were the long-awaited test of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile — the sort of weapon that could reach the United States — the salvo was a big deal in its own way. Pyongyang very vividly demonstrated the warnings from Thae Yong-ho, a high-ranking North Korean diplomat who defected last year and described how the country was taking the final steps to arm its missile units with nuclear weapons. North Korea is developing an offensive doctrine for the large-scale use of nuclear weapons in the early stages of a conflict. When combined with what we know about U.S. and South Korean war plans, this fact raises troubling questions about whether a crisis on the Korean peninsula might erupt into nuclear war before President Donald Trump has time to tweet about it.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/09/north-korea-is-practicing-for-nuclear-war/   Christian pastors accused of smuggling North Korean defectors out of ChinaFoxNews.com

China arrested two South Korean Christian pastors for allegedly helping to smuggle North Korean defectors out of China, the latest in a string of detentions and expulsions aimed at South Korean Christians in the past several months.One of the pastors was arrested with his wife as the pair tried to board a flight from China to South Korea and the other was arrested at a Chinese hotel, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing South Korean groups.The pastors remained under arrest Wednesday, however, their wives had been released, Reuters reported.The arrests come on the heels of a mass expulsion of South Korean missionaries from the Jilin province – which borders North Korea – in just the past few months, according to media reports noted by Christianity Today. Anywhere from 30 to 70 pastors have been kicked out of the area.http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/15/christian-pastors-accused-smuggling-north-korean-defectors-out-china.html

McCain: Rand Paul ‘Is Now Working for Vladimir Putin’

[Editor’s Note: It violates all rules of Senatorial courtesy for a Senator to attack another with an allegation that suggests a lack of patriotism.  Where this will lead is still uncertain, but McCain has been leading personal attacks against the President and now against a sitting Senator.] 
Sen. John McCain on Wednesday directly accused fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of working for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While speaking from the Senate floor in support of a bill advancing Montenegro’s bid to join NATO, McCain noted objection from the Kentucky senator, saying, “You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin… trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject an attempted coup.” He continued: “If they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin and I do not say that lightly.” Several moments later, after McCain asked for unanimous consent to move the bill forward, Sen. Paul raised his objection and then exited the room. This set off McCain, who railed against Paul: “I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number, perhaps 98—at least—of his colleagues would come to the floor and object and walk away.” He then directly connected Paul to the Russians: “The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2017/03/15/mccain-rand-paul-is-now-working-for-vladimir-putin.html?via=desktop&source=copyurl

Is Russia helping China build hypersonic weapons?

As the U.S. ramps up its military presence in Asia, Beijing is increasingly interested in Moscow’s hypersonic glide developments.
The race to build the world’s fastest nuclear delivery system – the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) – has gained steam. While the United States is clearly in the lead, Russia and China aren’t too far behind, with reports suggesting that Moscow – in a reprise of the friendly 1950s – is influencing Beijing’s HGV programme.In a new study titled ‘Factoring Russia into the US-Chinese Equation on Hypersonic Glide Vehicles’, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says Russia is a factor that is shaping Chinese hypersonic research.In the backdrop of the growing intersection between China’s and Russia’s strategic postures and threat perceptions – particularly in the Asia-Pacific – it is possible that there is some correlation between their hypersonic programmes.

According to SIPRI, two signs point to a Russia-China nexus. One, there are as many as 872 Chinese-language texts on HGVs that mention Russia, constituting 52 per cent of the total number of Chinese articles and papers on hypersonic glide. Secondly, China’s flight test of its DF-ZF hypersonic glide system in April 2016 occurred just days after Russia carried out its own test.

“This is more than mere coincidence. A review of more than a decade of Chinese writing on hypersonic and boost-glide technologies reveals growing interest in and research on Russia’s hypersonic glide vehicle programme,” says the SIPRI report.http://rbth.com/blogs/continental_drift/2017/03/14/russia-china-hypersonic-weapons-719186

New helicopters join Russian Navy amid quest for ‘radically new’ weapons

New helicopters join Russian Navy amid quest for ‘radically new’ weapons
Ka-52K attack helicopters, Ka-31R radar surveillance helicopters, and Ka-226T shipborne helicopters will join the Russian Navy as part of the military modernization program that will run through 2025, the navy said Wednesday. In addition, the navy will receive a modernized version of the Ka-27PL choppers already in use.“In the period until 2025, Russian naval aviation will be equipped with the new generation ship-based helicopters and helicopters that have undergone a profound modernization,” the navy said in a press release.The navy hopes that alongside “newest frigates, corvettes, and patrol ships,” that are designed to carry choppers, the latest arsenal will “significantly improve” the efficiency of assigned naval tasks throughout the world.The Ka-52K ship-based reconnaissance and combat helicopter is set to become the cream of the crop of the Russian naval force. The chopper, made by the Kamov rotorcraft manufacturing company, made its first flight in March 2015 before being unveiled in Russia at the International Maritime Defense Show in July of the same year.https://www.rt.com/news/380818-russian-navy-new-helicopters/

TASS: A Russian expert also commented on media rumors about the involvement of a private Russian military company in Libya

MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. The greatest flow of weapons and other military hardware to the Middle East is from Ukraine’s territory, the president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, told TASS in an interview.”The greatest flow of weapons to the Middle East is from Ukraine, of course, and to a certain extent, from Belarus,” he said.Satanovsky also commented on media rumors about the involvement of a private Russian military company in current events in Libya.”I’ve never heard anything about any private Russian military companies from any trustworthy source,” he said. “There are private military companies around the world. The Chinese have them, and so do the British, the French and many others. Private military companies or the French Foreign Legion have had many employees of Russian descent since 1991,” he said.Satanovsky recalled that the activity of many foreign military units in Libya failed to receive proper media coverage.”In Libya today French and Italian commandoes fight on the Khalifa Haftar’s side, but everybody keeps quiet about that. There are British and US units on his opponents’ side. There is everybody,” Satanovsky said.”It is very likely there may be some people who can be heard using Russian swear words. But swear words are no way to tell between, say a Ukrainian mercenary or a Russian born in the Smolensk Region. The so-called ‘Russian hackers’ turned out to be Ukrainian just recently. Is there anything else to say?”http://tass.com/world/935614

Poland’s new weapons and delayed tenders

Hubschrauber Mil Mi-24D (Grzegorz Polak)
Poland’s government, eyeing Vladimir Putin’s moves elsewhere in the region, is purchasing new military hardware. But Warsaw is not only seeking the best possible products.”Polish workers will be given the opportunity to build state-of-the-art helicopters,” said Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz a month ago in parliament in Warsaw. Three companies were invited to submit their bids for 16 utility helicopters. “They have until March 13,” Macierewicz said at the time. But now, an armed forces spokesman has announced that this deadline cannot be met. They ministry is waiting for one of the bidders, until March 27.
Previous tender with Airbus controversially scrapped
The tender was only up for grabs in the first place because the government unexpectedly canceled the purchase of 50 European Airbus helicopters in the autumn of 2016. The Airbus group failed to meet Warsaw’s requirements for investments in Poland, the government said when explaining its decision. After the deal was shot down, the French manufacturer was so upset that French President Francois Hollande canceled a visit to Poland at short notice.

 

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March 10, 2017

CHINA WARNS OF NUCLEAR FIRST STRIKE IN RESPONSE TO THAAD DEPLOYMENT

“US must pay the price”

China warns that it is reconsidering its policy not to use nuclear weapons against South Korea in response to the U.S. deploying the THAAD missile system and sending B-52 bombers to protect its ally.

THAAD is being deployed to shield South Korea from North Korean ballistic missiles after several tests by the Stalinist state in recent months. Beijing is furious because the system will also be capable of detecting and tracking missiles launched from China.

It was also reported yesterday that the U.S. will send B-1 and B-52 nuclear bombers to South Korea in order to display a stern show of strength.

300,000 South Korean troops and 15,000 US personnel have also started their annual Foal Eagle military exercise. The USS Carl Vinson nuke-powered aircraft carrier will join the drill – carrying dozens of fighter jets.

An article in the Global Times, which is widely regarded as the voice of the Chinese government, says that Beijing will respond to America’s “strategic provocations” by actioning a “rapid increase in the number and quality of China’s strategic nuclear weapons” and that China isn’t worried about starting a limited “arms race”.

Asserting that “the US must pay the price for the THAAD deployment,” the piece goes on to warn that, “If the US further intensifies its anti-missile attempts and strategic containment, China may reconsider its pledge of not being the first to use nuclear weapons.”

https://www.infowars.com/china-warns-of-nuclear-first-strike-in-response-to-thaad-deployment/

Defiant Iran Conducts More Ballistic Missile Tests; This Time From Naval Vessel

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to mount, the semi-official news agency Tasnim is reporting that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully conducted yet another ballistic missile test, this time from a navy vessel.  Called the Hormuz 2, these latest missiles are designed to destroy moving targets at sea at ranges up to 300 km (180 miles).

Reports on the latest test quotes Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force, who confirmed that “the naval ballistic missile called Hormuz 2 successfully destroyed a target which was 250 km away.”

The missile test is the latest event in a long-running rivalry between Iran and the United States in and around the Strait of Hormuz, which guards the entrance to the Gulf. About 20% of the world’s oil passes through the waterway, which is less than 40 km wide at its narrowest point.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-09/defiant-iran-test-fires-naval-ballistic-missile

Terror fears over hundreds of ‘ghost ships’ turning off their tracking devices while sailing close to hotspots including Syria and Libya before entering European waters

  • Vessels entering Europe routinely turn off their GPS tracking to ‘disappear’ 
  • Often become ghost ships after making dubious stops near terrorist hotspots
  • It is fuelling concerns they are smuggling people and weapons to the continent
  • 2,850 ships ‘went dark’ before entering Euro waters in first two months of 2017

Hundreds of ‘ghost ships’ turn off their tracking devices and sail suspiciously close to terror zones before entering European waters – including dozens who ended up off the British coast, it was revealed today.

Large vessels entering Europe routinely turn off their GPS tracking to ‘disappear’ from monitoring systems after making dubious stops close to terrorist hotspots.

It is fuelling concerns they are smuggling people and weapons to the continent, especially on the route between Libya and Greece.

Data from Windward, an Israeli-based maritime analytics company, shows that in total, 2,850 ships ‘went dark’ by halting transmission of their location before entering European waters in the first two months of this year.

Around 45 did this off the British coast for up to 24 hours – 50 other entered British waters without proper paperwork.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4300170/Terror-fears-hundreds-ghost-ships-turning-GPS.html#ixzz4avbL4SCQ

Park Geun-hye: South Korean court removes president over scandal

Park loses immunity from prosecution over corruption claims after constitutional judges uphold impeachment vote

in Tokyo and agencies in Seoul

Friday 10 March 2017 First published on Thursday 9 March 2017

Park Geun-hye has become the first democratically elected South Korean president to be forced from office, after the country’s constitutional court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach her over a corruption and cronyism scandal that could see her face criminal charges.

Friday’s dramatic judgement brings an abrupt and ignominious end to Park’s four years in office – the most dramatic development yet in a scandal that has gripped and horrified South Koreans in equal measure. Two died in protests after the ruling.

Park will immediately forfeit the executive immunity she enjoyed as president, meaning prosecutors can summon, question and possibly arrest her.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/10/south-korea-president-park-geun-hye-constitutional-court-impeachment

Donald Trump unaware Michael Flynn was a ‘foreign agent’, Sean Spicer says

Former national security adviser retroactively disclosed that he lobbied for firm linked to Turkish government while working as Trump’s campaign adviser

in New York

Donald Trump was unaware his former national security adviser Michael Flynnwas working as a “foreign agent” when he gave him the job, according to his press secretary.

“I don’t believe that was known,” said Sean Spicer, when asked by reporters at his regular press briefing on Thursday.

Flynn resigned in February after just four weeks as national security adviser when it came to light that he had misled the vice-president, Mike Pence, about phone conversations with the Russian ambassador about sanctions in December. The resignation came after a flow of intelligence leaks revealed that he had secretly discussed sanctions with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and then tried to cover up the conversations.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that from September to November last year, while he was working as a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, Flynn was lobbying for a firm linked to the Turkish government, earning $530,000. He and his company Flynn Intel Group Inc filed retroactive documents with the Department of Justice two days ago to register as a foreign agent.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/09/michael-flynn-foreign-agent-sean-spicer

Poland reacts with fury to re-election of Donald Tusk

Almost all EU nations back his second term as European council president but Poland’s opposition leaves it isolated in Europe

in Brussels

Donald Tusk has won a second term as European council president, overcoming bitter opposition from Poland that has left the country isolated in Europe.

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, was re-elected on Thursday with overwhelming support to lead the council, the body that organises EU leaders’ meetings, for a second term lasting two and a half years. His reappointment until the end of 2019 means he will play a crucial role in Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU.

The Pole, from the pro-European centre-right Civic Platform party, overcame strong resistance from his own government, led by the Eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS). The outcome was never in doubt, but is a blow for the Warsaw government, which responded with fury.

“We know now that it [the EU] is a union under Berlin’s diktat,” the Polish foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, told Polish media, echoing persistent claims by PiS that the EU is controlled by Berlin.

Despite its anger, however, Poland was left isolated as other countries including traditional central European allies lined up to back Tusk, a popular choice to guide the EU through difficult Brexit talks and tense debates on migration

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/donald-tusk-re-elected-as-european-council-president-despite-polish-opposition

Man arrested after injuring seven people in Düsseldorf axe attack

Police say there is no indication of terrorist motive after detaining 36-year-old from the former Yugoslavia

and agency

A man was arrested after injuring seven people with an axe at Düsseldorf’s main train station on Thursday night, police have said.

In a statement, they described the man as a 36-year-old from the former Yugoslavia who apparently had mental health problems. Police said three of the victims were seriously injured, with the others suffering minor injuries. The suspect was also injured.

Police said there was no indication of a terrorist motive behind the attack.

The station remained closed while crime scene specialists carried out their work but police are not searching for any other attackers.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/man-arrested-after-injuring-five-people-in-duesseldorf-axe-attack

Five people including four Russian businessmen are killed as a helicopter crashes into a TV tower moments after taking off in Istanbul

  • It is being reported the helicopter hit a television tower as it flew in dense fog
  • The helicopter belonged to the Eczacibasi group of companies, it has been said 
  • Four Russians, two pilots and a Turkish official were all travelling on the chopper
  • The Russians make up four of the five killed, and the other two are injured 

A helicopter has crashed on a motorway in the outskirts of Istanbul killing at least five people.

It is understood the Sikorsky S-76 chopper was flying in dense fog when it hit a television tower which caused it to plunge into the road.

There were seven people on board – four Russian guests, a Turkish official and two pilots.

A Twitter account for a crisis centre confirmed that four of the victims were Russian nationals.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4300598/Five-killed-helicopter-crash-Istanbul.html#ixzz4avaXChQF

 

 

Is Alexa working for the CIA? Video shows owner asking Amazon’s smart assistant if it is connected to the intelligence agency – causing it to shut down repeatedly

  • Video shows anonymous woman asking Amazon’s Alexa a series of questions
  • Started with ‘would you lie to me’ and then asked what is the CIA
  • Then asked if Alexa was connect to the CIA and the virtual assistant shutdown
  • Amazon said it was a glitch and now Alexa says ‘no I work for Amazon’

With the CIA’s ability to ‘breach almost anything connected to the internet’ made public, many citizens have begun questioning their devices.

A clip has surfaced showing an anonymous woman asking Amazon‘s Alexa a series of questions – starting with ‘would you lie to me’ and finishing with ‘Alexa, are you connected to the CIA?’

The virtual assistant swiftly responded to the first question, but shutdown after it was interrogated about its connections with the US government agency.

US deploys 2,500 paratroopers to Kuwait, ready for missions in Syria & Iraq – report

The deployment of 2,500 personnel will include units of the Fort Bragg-based 82nd Airborne Division 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2nd BCT), Army Times reported on Friday, adding that 1,700 troops from the 2nd BCT have already been deployed to the region, spreading between Iraq and Kuwait.

On Thursday, an unnamed military official told Reuters the Pentagon wants to have a rapidly deployable Kuwait-based force as part of the ongoing change in the US strategy to defeat IS.

Army Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, the US Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations, told House members on Wednesday that the additional troops will be “postured there to do all things Mosul, Raqqa, all in between,” as cited by the Army Times, referring to the Islamic State’s two main bastions in Iraq and Syria respectively.

https://www.rt.com/usa/380111-us-troops-deployment-kuwait/

Less than half of Marine Corps aircraft are ready to fly

Less than half of the Marine Corps’ aircraft are ready to fly, far short of the 75 percent goal by the service, the deputy commandant for programs and resources told Congress on Friday.

Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas said that, while readiness across the Marine Corps is on an upward trend, readiness in the aviation community is “still much lower than we would like.”

The service’s goal is to have 75 percent of its aircraft on the flight line ready to go, a number he called “reasonable” since routine maintenance will always take some aircraft out of commission.

But the actual number now is just 45 percent, mostly due to aircraft exceeding their planned service life, Thomas said. The statistic seemed to shock Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/less-than-half-of-marine-corps-aircraft-are-ready-to-fly/article/2617014

 

‘Giant leap’: China’s 5th-gen stealth fighter enters service

‘Giant leap’: China’s 5th-gen stealth fighter enters service
Months after unveiling its first fifth-generation J-20 fighter jet, China’s People’s Liberation Army announced that the advanced aircraft has entered service. The jet is meant to counter the US and its regional allies in a potential battle for air superiority.

The brief announcement on Friday made on state broadcaster CCTV’s military and agricultural affairs channel said the J-20 had entered service in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The report did not provide further details.

The announcement did not come as a big surprise; in November, the Chinese military demonstrated two J-20s during a pre-announced brief fly-past at the Zhuhai Air Show in Guangdong province, signaling that the aircraft was about to enter service.

The development of the Chengdu J-20 began in the late 1990s, with the first prototype taking flight in January 2011. Eight prototypes have been built so far, with two being LRIP, or low rate initial production – an indicator that the aircraft design was generally fixed. The J-20 is yet to receive its designated engine, the Xian WS-15, but has been reportedly tested with China’s advanced PL-15 and PL-10 air-to-air missiles.

https://www.rt.com/news/380147-china-j20-fighter-service/

China to intercept ‘intruding’ aircraft, follow military vessels amid efforts to strengthen navy

China is building a “first-class navy” which will intercept “intruding aircraft” and follow any military vessels traveling within its controlled areas, an official has stated, adding that sailors should “stay vigilant.”

“We will intercept any intruding aircraft and follow every military vessel in areas under our responsibility,” Wang Weiming, deputy chief of staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“Our sailors should stay vigilant and be able to deal with emergencies at all times,” he added.

Wang’s statements come as China looks to strengthen its navy, expanding its fleet of naval destroyers and frigates and stepping up air and sea patrols.

The senior official noted that the country’s second aircraft carrier – a refitted Soviet Union-made carrier – is taking shape, with the hull blocks having been joined.

The carrier will have a displacement of 50,000 tons and will be a base for J-15 fighters and other aircraft, according to a Defense Ministry spokesperson. It is expected to enter service around 2020.

https://www.rt.com/news/380135-china-navy-aircraft-vessels/

Get Ready, Russia and China: America’s F-22 Raptor Is Getting More Stealth and More Firepower

The Air Force has contracted Lockheed Martin to perform essential maintenance to the F-22’s low-observable stealth coating to ensure it is equipped to manage fast-emerging threats.

Lockheed Martin completed the first F-22 Raptor at the company’s Inlet Coating Repair (ICR) Speedline, a company statement said.

“Periodic maintenance is required to maintain the special exterior coatings that contribute to the 5th Generation Raptor’s Very Low Observable radar cross-section,” Lockheed stated.

The increase in F-22 deployments, including ongoing operational combat missions, has increased the demand for ICR. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is providing modification support services, analytical condition inspections, radar cross section turntable support and antenna calibration.

The Air Force is performing key maintenance on the F-22 Raptor’s stealth materials and upgrading the stealth fighter with new attack weapons to include improved air-to-air and air-to-surface strike technology, service officials said.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/get-ready-russia-china-americas-f-22-raptor-getting-more-19735

 

Pentagon: Russia, China Able to Launch Catastrophic Cyber Attacks on U.S. Infrastructure for Next 10 Years

Defense Science Board calls for new cyber deterrence plan targeting foreign leaders

Critical American infrastructure like the electric grid will remain vulnerable to catastrophic cyber attacks from Russia and China for at least 10 years, according to a Pentagon study.

A report by a Defense Science Board task force concludes that the decade-long cyber vulnerabilities must be mitigated while the Pentagon quickly creates new cyber deterrence capabilities, including offensive cyber weapons designed to inflict damage on adversaries and their leaders.

The 44-page report, “Task Force on Cyber Deterrence” was made public Feb. 28. It is based on a two-year study by a panel of military and defense experts.

 The report presents a dire picture of weaknesses in both military and civilian information and control systems that are being exploited by advanced cyber warfare states such as China and Russia, along with second-tier cyber threats from states such as North Korea and Iran.

Hezbollah Missiles Aimed at Israel’s Nuclear Reactor

Terror leader boasts of ability to strike Dimona reactor

BY:
March 9, 2017 1:42 pm

The Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah currently has advanced missiles capable of hitting Israel’s nuclear reactor, according to Hassan Nasrallah, the terror group’s leader, who boasted in a recent interview that the terror group is prepared to strike the reactor and cause nuclear havoc across the Middle East.

Nasrallah, speaking to an Iranian interviewer, disclosed that the Islamic Republic has smuggled a variety of new missiles to Hezbollah operatives and that the group is prepared to strike the Israeli nuclear reactor, which is located near the southeastern city of Dimona.

“We are ready to carry it out and we have the courage to do so,” Nasrallah is quoted as saying in the interview, which was translated into English by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, or ITIC, an Israel-based security organization.

 Israeli experts who compiled the report warned that Hezbollah has upgraded its weapons capabilities with the help of Iran and stands ready to inflict heavy damage on Israeli civilians.

Nasrallah boasted that a strike on the Dimona nuclear reactor would cripple Israel.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/hezbollah-missiles-aimed-israels-nuclear-reactor/

Syrian government urges U.N. to make Turkey withdraw from Syria

The Syrian government has called on the United Nations to force Turkey to pull “its invasion forces” out of Syria, state media said on Friday.

Turkey’s military shelled Syrian government forces and their allies in northern Syria on Thursday, causing deaths and injuries, state-run SANA news agency reported.

Turkey launched its first major military incursion into Syria in August, deploying tanks and air power in support of rebel groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey’s operation aims to drive Islamic State from the border and stop Kurdish militias from gaining ground in their wake.

Syria’s foreign ministry urged the U.N. secretary general and security council to “force Turkey to withdraw its invasion forces from Syrian land and stop the attacks”, SANA said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-government-idUSKBN16H1JP

Shi’ite Militia in Iraq & Syria Offers to ‘Liberate’ Golan Heights

A Shi’ite “resistance movement” fighting the Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq says it has formed a brigade to “liberate the Golan Heights from Israeli occupation.”

Hezbollah al-Nujaba spokesperson Seyed Hashem al-Moussavi announced the establishment of the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’ on Wednesday, after what he called “recent victories,” quoted by the Iranian Fars News Agency. “If the Syrian government requests, we are ready to take action to liberate Golan,” he told FNA.

The group’s leader, Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi said last month the presence of Hezbollah al-Nujaba in Syria was aimed at “resisting the plot” of the Islamic State (ISIS / Da’esh) terrorist organization, which he claimed was implementing an Israeli-initiated road map “under the supervision of the U.S., with the cooperation of Turkey and Arab states of the Persian Gulf in the region,” according to Fars.

U.S. troops have been fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers and members of the Kurdish security forces and Shi’ite militia members to oust the Islamic State terrorist group from its stronghold in Mosul. A radical Shi’ite cleric called Moqtada al Sadr has called for American troops to leave Iraq, Fox News reported.

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/shiite-militia-in-iraq-syria-offers-to-liberate-golan-heights/2017/03/09/

 

Turkey-PKK conflict: UN report tells of ‘2,000 dead’ since truce collapse

When a man in the Turkish town of Cizre was told his sister had been killed, his family was invited to pick up her remains from the public prosecutor’s office.

But all they received were three small pieces of charred flesh – and no information on how she died.

His account from February 2016 is among many included in a new UN report on Turkish government operations in the country’s mainly Kurdish south-east.

UN investigators found some 2,000 people were killed in 18 months of fighting, and accuse Turkish forces of serious human rights violations.

The killings, disappearances and instances of torture documented in the report took place during a surge in violence after the ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) broke down in July 2015.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39228548

France to adapt civil rotorcraft for French military missions

PARIS — Following the recent pick of the Airbus Helicopter H160 for France’s joint light helicopter, work will now begin to study modifications to adapt the civil rotorcraft to military missions, according to Laurent Collet-Billon, the head of the French Direction Générale de l’Armement acquisition office.
This work includes fitting the Anti-Navire Léger anti-ship missile for the Navy and a machine gun for the Army.
That work is expected to lead to a program launch in 2019 for 160-190 units, said DGA Director of Operations Monique Legrand Larroche, who declined to give an estimated value of an eventual order. Such information would handicap the office’s negotiations on the deal, she said.

France rebukes construction firm’s offer to help build Trump’s border wall

The logo of French building material Lafarge is seen on cement trucks at a production plant in Paris, France, February 22, 2016.

The logo of French building material Lafarge is seen on cement trucks at a production plant in Paris, France, February 22, 2016.  (Reuters)

France’s top diplomat is pressing a French-Swiss cement manufacturer to rethink its bid to sell the United States material to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Thursday that while construction giant LafargeHolcim can do what they want as a private company, the company should consider the social responsibility it has and the fact that the move could hurt its business with other clients.

“It should reflect upon what its interests are. There are other clients who will be stunned by this,” Ayrault told France Info radio. “Lafarge says it doesn’t do politics. … Very well, but I would say companies … also have social and environmental responsibilities.”

British govt admits to secret Syria war fund but refuses to identify ‘non-extremist’ fighters

Responding to questions from the Defence Committee, the government refused to identify the forces it is training in Iraq and Syria but appeared to confirm it has increased the amount of cash available for the conflict from a secretive war fund.

The committee asked a number of questions about the supposed 70,000 moderate fighters available to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), cited by then Prime Minister David Cameron to make the case for British intervention in Syria in December 2015.

The committee said it had been forced to examine the claim with the help of outside sources because the government had previously refused to name the groups.Critics say the figure was either made up or consisted of groups similar to IS and Al-Qaeda.

It would not be appropriate for the government to release or confirm such information on individual groups in Syria,” the official response said.

The government insisted “there are significant numbers of non-extremist fighters in Syria opposing both the Assad regime and terrorist groups like Daesh [IS].

It disclosed that infantry and tactical training is being provided to some groups in the region and that money had been pooled from the controversial and highly secretive Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) to pursue UK aims in the region.

https://www.rt.com/uk/380032-syria-iraq-fighters-funding/

DUTCH ARMED FORCES SERIOUSLY NEGLECTED: ADVICE COUNCIL

Dutch soldiers

Dutch soldiers. Photo: Countrymaster / Wikimedia Commons

The state of the Dutch armed forces is extremely worrying, according to advisory council on international affairs AIV in an advice report to the cabinet titled ‘Russia and the Dutch defense efforts’. According to the report, the “employability of the armed forces was further undermined this government term” and if the policy is not changed, the basic readiness of the army will only be back in order in 2021, NU.nl reports.

According to the AIV, the government continually paints an overly optimistic picture on the state of the armed forces. “These positive framings may serve a political purpose, but creates a false picture”, the report states.

The AIV calls on the next government to ensure that the Defense budget is increased to at least the NATO average. Over 8 years 2 percent of the gross domestic product must be spent on defense – the standard mutually agreed upon by NATO countries.

http://nltimes.nl/2017/03/10/dutch-armed-forces-seriously-neglected-advice-council

The Latest: Dutch PM tells Turkey minister: ‘Don’t show up!’

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the growing tensions between Germany and Turkey

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that apart from arresting a Turkish minister on arrival in the Netherlands, his government is giving the strongest possible hints to Ankara to not send its representatives to address any rallies on the upcoming Turkish referendum.

Rutte says any planned weekend visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu could only stir trouble between the two NATO allies.While attending a European Union summit on Thursday, Rutte said: “This is the most serious thing we can do. You tell the foreign affairs minister of a NATO ally, ‘We know you will come to the Netherlands: Don’t show up!'”

Rutte added that local authorities would be unlikely to authorize any rally Cavusoglu would attend.”

And if you still decide to come, you won’t have a chauffeur driven car, no escort, no support,” he said.Rutte says that while “there are people who will say, ‘you have to arrest him at Schiphol,’ but we will stop just short of that.”

http://kdwn.com/2017/03/09/the-latest-dutch-pm-tells-turkey-minister-dont-show-up/

 

Pentagon hires former lobbyist for Peter Thiel’s company

The Department of Defense has hired a former lobbyist for the Peter Thiel-founded data company Palantir.

Justin Mikolay will serve as a special assistant to Defense Secretary James Mattis, BuzzFeed reported Thursday. In the position, Mikolay will help prepare Mattis for meetings foreign and White House officials.

At Palantir, Mikolay worked as an “evangelist” the firm’s title employees who met with the government to pitch them on their software.Mikolay had played a major part in Palantir’s ongoing efforts to get a $200 million contract on the Army’s battlefield intelligence system.

At the Pentagon, he will avoid working on anything directly related to Palantir, a spokesman said.

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/323282-dod-picks-up-former-palantir-employee

STRATCOM: Pentagon ‘Going Too Slow’ to Counter Commercial Drone Threats to Nuclear Sites

U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the House Armed Services Committee he needed to accelerate arming those protecting nuclear sites with tools to disable or destroy errant drones, as well as developing the legal framework to interdict a drone.

“We’re going too slow,” Hyten said in response to a question from Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.).

“We have to get the right policies and authorities out there so our defenders know exactly what to do, and then we have to give them material solutions to allow them to react when they see a threat and identify that there is a threat so they do they right things. We’re just going way too slow across policy, authorities and material solutions.”

https://news.usni.org/2017/03/09/counter-commercial-drone-threats-to-nuclear-sites

Satellite Images Show Preparations for Nuclear Test at North Korean Site

Satellite imagery released by the 38 North monitoring website shows that DPRK could be preparing for a new nuclear test.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – North Korea could be preparing for a new nuclear test, satellite imagery released by the 38 North monitoring website shows.

“New commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from March 7 indicates activity at the North Portal, Main Administrative Area and Command Center. The sum of these activities supports an assessment that North Korea continues to prepare the tunnels at the North Portal for a future nuclear test,” 38 North said in its Thursday analysis accompanying the satellite images.

The images reflect a changing patter of equipment and supplies and continuing work at the location over the past six months.

According to the analysis of the images, Pyongyang is capable of carrying out a sixth nuclear test “on short notice,” 38 North said.

On Monday, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles, explaining a day later that the launches were a test of its ability to strike US military facilities located in Japan.

Last year, North Korea carried out two nuclear tests and over two dozen of test launches using ballistic missile technology. Previously, the United Nations imposed sanctions on North Korea for three nuclear tests it carried out in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

In late April, 2016, the 38 North monitoring website released commercial satellite imagery showing that North Korea was resuming excavation operations at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, with similar activity observed at the facility as that seen three days prior to the February 12, 2013 nuclear test.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201703101051431294-dprk-nuclear-test-preparations/

Exclusive: Japan to vet bidders in Toshiba chip sale for national security risks – sources

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese government, fretting over the future of Toshiba Corp’s flagship memory chips unit, is prepared to block a sale to bidders it deems a risk to national security, sources said, a stance that gives U.S. suitors a major advantage.

The government would use Japan’s foreign exchange and foreign trade laws to control the auction if need be, one of the sources said. The sources are directly involved in the sale process, but declined to be identified because it is not public.

“The United States is the only feasible partner from Japan’s national security standpoint,” said another source, noting that cutting-edge chips are at the heart of robotics, artificial intelligence and connected devices.

Seeking to plug an upcoming $6.3 billion writedown for its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse and create a buffer for future potential losses, Toshiba is rushing to sell most or even all of the unit – world’s second-biggest NAND chip producer – which it values at at least $13 billion.

With Westinghouse woes deepening to the point of it hiring bankruptcy lawyers to explore a possible Chapter 11 filing, the Japanese industrial conglomerate is also leaning towards U.S. suitors given the potential for friction with the United States.

“It’s obvious U.S. players are more suitable bidders,” a Toshiba executive said. “We’ll probably need to fight over Westinghouse (with the U.S.), so we could cooperate over chips in exchange.”

http://whtc.com/news/articles/2017/mar/10/exclusive-japan-to-vet-bidders-in-toshiba-chip-sale-for-national-security-risks-sources/

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March 8, 2017

ISIS fanatics dressed as DOCTORS in white lab coats storm military hospital in Afghanistan shooting dead four patients and staff as dramatic siege breaks out

  • Three gunmen stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital in Kabl, Afghanistan
  • They gained entry to after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a rear entrance
  • Terrorists surged into the hospital dressed as doctors and armed with AK-47s
  • Four militants now dead after police shot dead three gunmen who opened fire 

Terrorists dressed as doctors in white lab coats stormed a military hospital in Afghanistan shooting dead four patients and staff and injuring dozens more.

ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack on Sardar Daud Khan hospital in Kabul and one of the gunmen appeared to wave the terror group’s flag out of the window before he and his fellow assailants were shot dead.

Hospital administrators said three gunmen wearing white lab coats ran riot in the hospital after a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up at the backdoor entrance, sparking chaos inside the 400-bed facility.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4292378/Blast-gunfire-hit-Kabul-military-hospital-officials.html#ixzz4ajcUN8MY

At least 30 killed in attack on Kabul military hospital

At least 30 people have been killed in an attack on a hospital. 02:25

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN)Attackers dressed in medical uniforms stormed a military hospital in the heart of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing more than 30 people and wounding at least 50, said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

A suicide bomber set off an explosion at the south gate to the Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan hospital before three gunmen entered the building and made their way to the second and third floors, said Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman.
The gunmen killed and wounded doctors and hospital employees and injured Afghan soldiers, according to an Afghan Defense Ministry statement.
Afghan security forces and police mounted a six-hour siege at the hospital, which is the biggest and best-equipped facility in the country. They killed the attackers around 3:30 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Wednesday ET).
The facility, known locally as the “400 bed” hospital, is located only a few hundred meters from the US embassy and the diplomatic quarter of Kabul. Other recent attacks in Kabul have targeted important public buildings, such as the Afghan Supreme Court and national parliament.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un lights fire across Asia, raising dilemma for Trump

The stakes for Donald Trump are potentially higher than Obama, given North Korea’s progress in developing an intercontinental missile capable of hitting the US with a nuclear warhead

This picture was released by North Korea’s KCNA on 7 March, 2017 showing the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean People’s Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea. Photo: AFP/

This picture was released by North Korea’s KCNA on 7 March, 2017 showing the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean People’s Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

 

Hong Kong: Murder in Malaysia. Protests in China. And missiles flying toward Japan. All can be traced back to North Korea and show how Kim Jong Un is managing to stir up tensions in the region while trying to provoke a reaction from US President Donald Trump.

The question for Trump, Xi Jinping and other leaders is how to respond, given sanctions, cajoling and military pressure have all failed to rein Kim in. While Trump initially signalled he’d be open to talks, more recently he’s indicated he could follow Barack Obama’s lead in insisting North Korea abandon its nuclear programme before negotiations can occur.

The stakes for Trump are potentially higher than Obama, given Pyongyang’s progress in developing an intercontinental missile capable of hitting the US with a nuclear warhead. The recent events are probably Kim’s way—after a hiatus in his provocations—to try and force Trump to the table with concessions, analysts said.

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/FxjnuBMLgKGWtE2In1fuSP/North-Koreas-Kim-Jong-Un-lights-fire-across-Asia-raising-d.html

 

Islamic State leader Baghdadi abandons Mosul fight to field commanders, U.S. and Iraqi sources say

By Isabel Coles, John Walcott and Maher Chmaytelli | MOSUL, IRAQ/WASHINGTON

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left operational commanders behind with diehard followers to fight the battle of Mosul, and is now hiding out in the desert, focusing mainly on his own survival.

It is impossible to confirm the whereabouts of the Islamic State “caliph”, who declared himself the ruler of all Muslims from Mosul’s Great Mosque after his forces swept through northern Iraq in 2014.

But U.S. and Iraqi intelligence sources say an absence of official communication from the group’s leadership and the loss of territory in Mosul suggest he has abandoned the city, by far the largest population center his group has ever held.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-baghdadi-idUSKBN16F1DF

 

Kim Jong-Un is preparing for ANOTHER missile test as China warns North and South Korea are like ‘two trains accelerating towards a head-on collision’

  • China has stepped into the escalating tensions between the US and North Korea
  • Superpower suggested North Korea could suspend nuclear and missile activities
  • US and South Korea could then halt joint military drills, Chinese minister said
  • In the past week, North Korea has fired off four ballistic missiles in what it called a training exercise for a strike on US bases in Japan

Kim Jong-Un is preparing for another missile test despite moves by China to diffuse growing tensions between North and South Korea.

Beijing wants North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt in joint military drills conducted by the US and South Korea.

Minister Wang Yi said that escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula were like ‘two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way.’

Wang asked: ‘Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?’

But despite the warning, Kim has lined up yet another test of a new medium-range missile.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4292664/Kim-Jong-prepares-missile-test-tensions-rise.html#ixzz4ajcv5Rds

North Korea Could Soon Launch Attack on Hawaii

Experts call for immediate upgrade in state’s missile defenses

BY:
March 8, 2017 5:00 am

North Korea could soon have the capacity to launch an attack on Hawaii that would devastate America’s Pacific military bases, accelerating the need for the United States to upgrade missile defenses in the area.

The United States today relies on ground-based ballistic missile interceptors deployed in California and Alaska to protect Hawaii, but these defenses would do little to guard U.S. territory in the Pacific against a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which officials believe is nearing completion.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency in February test fired a new SM-3 Block IIA missile from Hawaii that successfully intercepted an incoming ballistic missile, but the Pentagon does not maintain a permanent missile defense installation or detection capabilities on the Hawaiian Islands.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii hosts an experimental, land-based ballistic missile defense system called Aegis Ashore. The facility served as a prototype for the U.S. missile defense facility in Romania, which was declared operational last year, and another in Poland that will be completed in 2018.

Ariel Cohen, director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources, and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that the Defense Department needs to immediately upgrade the Aegis Ashore facility in Hawaii from experimental to operational to guard against North Korean aggression.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/north-korea-soon-launch-attack-hawaii/

U.S., Russia Counter Erdogan in Syria as Kurds Get Shield

  • Buffer zones set up to prevent assault on Kurdish-held town
  • Putin to meet Erdogan, Netanyahu this week as battle spreads
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.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-08/u-s-russia-counter-erdogan-in-syria-as-fight-scrambles-allies

To security establishment, WikiLeaks’ CIA dump is part of US-Russia battle

WikiLeaks says documents about CIA’s computer hacking tools came from US, but many perceive group as pro-Russia following role in 2016 election 

in Washington

The latest WikiLeaks document dump about the CIA’s computer hacking toolshighlights the intelligence agency’s penetration of everyday consumer electronics, heightening profound fears about privacy aroused in 2013 by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In the Washington security establishment, however, the leaks are being viewed more as the latest battle in a struggle between US and Russian intelligence services being played out in the US political arena – a fight in which WikiLeaks is widely seen as sitting firmly in Moscow’s corner.

The latest leaks land amid an ongoing and very public feud between the US president and the country’s intelligence agencies over Kremlin efforts to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favour. In recent months, the president has repeatedly denigrated US intelligence agencies – going as far as comparing them to the Nazi regime – while openly cheering on WikiLeaks activities. He has also alleged, so far without any evidence, that the Obama administration spied on himand his election campaign.

The apparent CIA hacking tools published by WikiLeaks feed directly into that struggle. Some Trump supporters have claimed that the apparent Russian hacking attacks could be a “false-flag” operation, hinting it was carried out by the new president’s domestic foes, and the “Vault 7” documents published on Tuesday give them potential ammunition.

The WikiLeaks press release highlights the CIA’s “Umbrage” group, said to collect a library of hacking tools used by intelligence agencies of foreign countries, “including the Russian Federation”, allowing them to conduct false flag operations.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/mar/07/wikileaks-cia-documents-us-russia-conflict

Did The US Military Just Invade Syria?

Several days ago, a convoy of U.S. troops was spotted crossing the border into Syria from Iraqi Kurdistan. The convoy, comprised mostly of hulking Stryker armored fighting vehicles, was en route to the Syrian village of Manbij, which was recently liberated from ISIS. It’s the most overt U.S. military action on the ground in Syria to date. In fact, each vehicle in the convoy was outfitted with a large American flag. The soldiers were meant to be seen. It didn’t take long for photos to surface on the internet, and the Department of Defense was prepared with an explanation.

According to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, the soldiers were deployed to Syria to keep peace among the myriad militias and other forces who have temporarily set aside longstanding feuds to focus on repelling ISIS from Manbij. “It’s a visible reminder, for anybody who’s looking to start a fight, that the only fight that should be going on right now is with ISIS,” Davis told the Associated Press.

Until now, the American mission in Syria has been limited to training, advising, and equipping local forces, and the occasional clandestine raid. But the troops who just arrived in Syria do not specialize in standing up or bolstering indigenous armies (a mission set known as Foreign Internal Defense, which is exclusive to certain units under the military’s Special Operations Command). They’re not Green Berets, or Navy SEALs, or MARSOC Raiders. They are members of the U.S. military’s premier raid force — the 75th Ranger Regiment.

http://taskandpurpose.com/us-military-just-invade-syria/

Trump Admin Blasted for Continuing Obama Admin Effort to Sell Iran Planes

Leading Republican calls for moratorium, questions admin priorities

BY:

The Trump administration is under increasing criticism from Republican lawmakers for continuing Obama-era policies to provide material support to the Iranian regime, including airplanes, which many have warned could be used to illegally ferry weapons across the Middle East on behalf of the Islamic Republic’s war effort, according to lawmakers and veteran congressional insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump administration’s Treasury Department informed the Free Beacon on Monday that it would continue to grant licenses to companies such as Boeing so that they can pursue multi-billion dollar deals with Iran.

This policy, started by the Obama administration as part of the nuclear deal with Iran, is opposed by many on Capitol Hill and runs counter to campaign trail promises by President Donald Trump to end such agreements.

Iran announced in February that it had found a “foreign company” to finance the country’s purchase of at least 77 new planes from Boeing and Airbus.

The Treasury Department would not provide the Free Beacon with the name of this foreign entity, despite multiple requests, stating only that licenses making these sales legal “will be issued the same as any other specific license,” according to a Treasury Department official. The sales are set to be approved per guidelines set forth in the Iran nuclear agreement.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/trump-admin-blasted-continuing-obama-admin-effort-sell-iran-planes/

Palestinian gun dealers ordering parts off the internet, army says

In an illegal weapons crackdown, IDF seizes hundreds of firearm components, arrests 9 suspects in Nablus

Hundreds of gun parts seized by the IDF as part of a raid in the Balata refugee camp, outside Nablus, on March 8, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Since the beginning of last year, the Israel Defense Forces has been focused on thwarting the manufacture and sale of guns in the West Bank, with the hope of preventing such weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and criminals.

The army has raided dozens of alleged gunsmithing workshops and seized hundreds of weapons in the past 15 months. But in the overnight raid, the army set its sights on a new aspect of the gun trade: online markets.

The army found that Palestinians had been using websites to purchase firearm components, an intelligence officer in the army’s West Bank Division told reporters on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-gun-dealers-ordering-parts-off-the-internet-army-says/

Germany warns Turkey over Nazi jibes amid referendum rowComparisons with Nazi Germany are “lines that should not be crossed”, the German foreign minister has warned his Turkish counterpart as they met to try to defuse a bitter row.

But Sigmar Gabriel also emphasised his wish to return to “friendly relations”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Germany of “Nazi practices” because of the cancellation of rallies involving Turkish ministers.

He is seeking new constitutional powers in a 16 April referendum.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated the Nazi comparison on a visit to Hamburg aimed at drumming up support among some of the 1.4m Turkish voters who live in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the Nazi jibe as “unacceptable” and Mr Gabriel echoed her sentiment after a breakfast meeting in Berlin with Mr Cavusoglu.

“The Turkish side said it wanted to be treated equally with respect but I believe both sides have a responsibility and there are lines that must not be crossed and any comparison with Nazi Germany is one of them,” Mr Gabriel said.

But Mr Gabriel was also keen to stress the “success” of the two nations’ ties, and stressed his intention to avoid lasting damage to them.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39203624

Turkey gets additional drones to fight ISIS, Kurds

ANKARA — Kale-Baykar, a privately owned Turkish venture specialized in drones, has delivered a batch of six armed drones to the Turkish military.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Bayraktar TB-2 unmanned aerial vehicles, indigenously developed by Kale-Bayraktar, would be stationed at an air base in Elazig in eastern Turkey. Two of the drones are armed, the statement said.
Turkey last year successfully tested the Bayraktar, which hit a target at the Konya fire test field in central Anatolia from a distance of eight kilometers. The Bayraktar uses the MAM-L and MAM-C, two mini smart munitions developed and produced by the state-controlled missile maker Roketsan. Roketsan’s mini systems weigh 22.5 kilograms including a 10-kilogram warhead.
Turkey’s local industry also is developing BSI-101, a SIGINT system, for the Bayraktar in order to end Turkey’s dependence on U.S.-made SIGINT systems for drones.
The Bayraktar can fly at a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet. Its communications range is 150 kilometers. The aircraft can carry up to 55 kilograms of payload.
Turkey plans to extensively use a fleet of various drones in its anti-insurgency fight against Kurdish militants in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions as well as in neighboring northern Iraq and northern Syria.

Alleged Iranian spy set to be tried in Germany

BERLIN (AP) ” A 31-year-old Pakistani man is going on trial in Berlin on allegations he spied for Iran on Israeli and Jewish institutions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Syed Mustufa H., whose full name was not giving for privacy reasons, is due in court Wednesday on espionage charges.

H., who came to Germany in 2012 to go to university, is accused of having collected information on a professor at a university in Paris, the former president of the German-Israel Society and others in Western European countries.

Prosecutors say he then passed the information to a contact person with the Iranian intelligence agency. He’s alleged to have received at least 2,052 euros ($2,170) for his spying activities.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11814673

German bank blacklist of Yemeni nationals widens

The decision by German banks to cancel the accounts of 100 Yemeni nationals now has wider implications, DW can reveal. The entire state of Yemen has been blacklisted by Commerzbank.

Commerzbank (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler)

Last month, Deutsche Welle reported that several German credit institutes, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, have been terminating the bank accounts of close to 100 Yemeni students, businesspeople and diplomats in Germany without giving any reason.

But now, based on a letter from Commerzbank, obtained by DW, it is now clear that this wave of cancellations isn’t just targeting individuals from the Middle Eastern country, but the state of Yemen itself.

Commerzbank-Schreiben an den jemenitischen Botschafter in Deutschland NEU (Jemenitische Botschaft Berlin)

The letter, dated February 17 and addressed to Yemen’s ambassador Yahia Mohammed Abdullah Al-Shaibi, reads: “Due to changes in business policy we will no longer support or transact business with Yemen.” When approached by DW for a response, Commerzbank replied it was not going to further comment on the issue.

The latest revelation is a major setback for the estimated 2,000 Yemeni nationals living in Germany, as they attempt to find new banking facilities in their host country.

http://www.dw.com/en/german-bank-blacklist-of-yemeni-nationals-widens/a-37839413

New revelation hits France’s scandal-plagued Fillon

PARIS – Scandal-plagued French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon was hit by a new revelation on Tuesday, this time over an interest-free, undeclared loan he received from a billionaire friend.
The conservative candidate “did not deem it necessary” to report the 50,000 euros (R685745.80) loan he received from Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere in 2013 to a state transparency watchdog, the Canard Enchaine weekly said in its edition to appear Wednesday.

“The ‘oversight’ may be costly for the presidential candidate,” said the investigative and satirical newspaper, which also made the allegations in January about the fake jobs scandal that has threatened to derail Fillon’s candidacy.

Le Canard Enchaine reported that Fillon’s lawyer Antonin Levy had confirmed the loan had been repaid in full, but did not say when.

https://www.enca.com/world/new-revelation-hits-frances-scandal-plagued-fillon

Britain beefs up defenses in the Falkland Islands

LONDON – Britain has awarded £153 million (US $187 million) worth of contracts to equip the Falkland Islands with a new ground-based air-defense system known as Sky Sabre, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. 
A clutch of deals agreed around the turn of the year but only now becoming public includes award of a contract by the British to an Israeli company to supply a key battlefield command-and-control network to defend the South Atlantic island from potential Argentinian aggression.

The main contract award, which the MoD valued at £78 million (US $95 million), was signed Jan. 9 with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, to develop a battle management, command, control, communications, computers  and intelligence (BMC4I) network.

Missile builder MBDA and surveillance radar supplier Saab have also been awarded contracts to integrate other, already ordered, ground-based air-defense system elements into the BMC4I.

Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, Official Says

  • Grenell will be among highest-ranking openly gay officials
  • Former Fox commentator was a Trump loyalist from early on

President Donald Trump will nominate Richard Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO, according to a White House official, a selection that would make the longtime loyalist and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations the highest-ranking openly gay person to serve in the administration.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Grenell, 50, declined to comment. The White House official asked not to be identified because the position hasn’t been formally announced.

A spokesman under John Bolton and three other Republican-administration ambassadors at the UN from 2001 through 2008, Grenell has been a Fox News contributor for four years and a Trump supporter since the start of the campaign.

The founder of Capitol Media Partners, he frequently tangles with journalists on his Twitter feed, accusing reporters of being unfair to Trump and Republicans. His name had circulated as a candidate for Trump’s ambassador to the UN, though the job ultimately went to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-08/trump-said-to-pick-former-un-spokesman-grenell-for-nato-post

NATO, Russia reach rare consensus on issues of airspace security in Baltic Sea

HELSINKI, March 7 (Xinhua) — Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said here on Tuesday that NATO and Russia had reached a consensus on some issues of airspace security in the Baltic Sea region.

At a press conference held after a meeting with visiting Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on Tuesday, Niinisto said that NATO and Russia shared the same opinions on some issues at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s airspace security meeting in Helsinki at the beginning of March.

“I think it is very remarkable that NATO and Russia were in agreement with this. We haven’t seen it for years. Even though they are minor things, if we can enhance airspace security in the Baltic Sea area, it will hopefully be the start of finding out bigger (issues) to agree on also,” said Niinisto.

Kaljulaid also emphasized the importance of the small steps made by NATO and Russia, saying the development of airspace security was a good example of that.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/08/c_136110321.htm

In first, missile launched from unmanned Israeli ship

Rafael defense contractor lauds achievement as proof of remote-controlled boats’ potential for naval security

An unmanned Israel Navy ship test fires missile off the coast of Ashkelon on March 7, 2017. (IDF spokesperson)

An unmanned Israel Navy ship test fires missile off the coast of Ashkelon on March 7, 2017. (IDF spokesperson)

For the first time, a missile has been fired from a remote-controlled, unmanned ship during an exercise, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems contractor announced Tuesday.

The missiles were fired by a new version of Rafael’s “Protector” series of unmanned ships, which had only previously been capable of small arms fire.

The unmanned ship fired Spike missiles, a Rafael-made guided missile. They reportedly struck all of the simulated targets successfully during the tests.

The tests were carried out off the coast of Askhelon by the Navy’s 916th Squadron, which operates off the Gaza coast.

The Israel Defense Forces currently has a small fleet of “Protector” ships, which are used to complement its manned patrol boats around Israel’s coastal waters.

This version of the “Protector” model is referred to by the Israel Navy as the “Sea Knight.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-first-missile-launched-from-unmanned-israeli-ship/

“Serbia to get Russian MiGs on NATO aggression anniversary”

Russian President Vladimir Putin should sign a degree on the delivery of six MiG-29s to Serbia during his meeting in Moscow with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic.

SOURCE: VECERNJE NOVOSTI /

Belgrade-based Vecernje Novosti is reporting this, and adding that there is a great chance that the warplanes will officially join the Serbian Armed Forces “symbolically” on March 24 – the 18th anniversary of the start of NATO’s aggression against Serbia.

The MiGs will land at the military airport in Batajnica at the end of the month. The handover ceremony will be attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the newspaper writes, and adds that “the details of the arrival of the MiGs” are not published officially for the time being.

According to the article, two possibilities are under consideration.

“The option of the MiGs flying directly from Russia to Serbia is being considered. That has not been quite confirmed yet, because it would also have a delicate political note. One of the ideas is to, in this case, have the planes salute Serbia by flying vertically across its entire territory. The other option is to deliver the aircraft aboard Russian transport planes, most likely Ilyushins,” an unnamed source from top military circles has been quoted as saying.

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2017&mm=03&dd=08&nav_id=100707

Kosovo moves to create national army despite Serb opposition

by Reuters
* Kosovo says new army would help cement peace

* Serbia warns of regional instability

* Serb deputies to boycott Kosovo parliament session

By Fatos Bytyci

PRISTINA, March 8 (Reuters) – Kosovo signalled on Wednesday plans to turn its security force into a national army, a move strongly opposed by its ethnic Serb minority and by Belgrade which said it would cause instability in the region.

Nearly two decades after the Kosovo war, relations between Belgrade and Pristina remain strained and Serbia continues to regard Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, as a renegade province.

The Kosovo government ordered the creation of a national army three years ago but Serbian deputies said they would block the required changes to the constitution.

On Wednesday parliament indicated it would bypass that opposition by preparing amendments to an existing law that would allow the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) to buy heavy weapons, effectively turning it into an army.

A vote is expected in the coming days. Serb deputies, who number just 11 in the 120-strong chamber but whose support would be needed to change the constitution, said they would boycott the session.

“This is a decision in the interests of our country for completely peaceful purposes … to have good relations with all our neighbours but also to protect our country,” the speaker of parliament, Kadri Veseli, said during a visit to a KSF barracks.

http://news.trust.org/item/20170308122417-el9l6

The Pentagon got caught trying to hide embarrassing cost overruns on Navy ships

(PACIFIC OCEAN (April 23, 2014) 


If the data you need to release to the public is potentially embarrassing, there’s always classification review to the rescue.

The US Government Accountability Office deleted details of cost overruns on two of the Navy’s littoral combat ships from a report on shipbuilding contracts, at the request of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

The review referred to the financial tidbit on the USS Milwaukee and the USS Jackson as “sensitive but unclassified” in a footnote, according to Anthony Capaccio of Bloomberg News, who first reported the news.

“The department failed to consider the public interest in knowing that cost targets were being exceeded, and by how much,” Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, told Bloomberg. “Instead, it looks like DoD is trying to keep unfavorable facts out of the public eye. In the long-run, that’s not a smart move.”

The Navy’s push to field littoral combat ships has come under sharp criticism from defense experts and members of Congress. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, for example, last year called out the $12.4 billion for the Navy’s requested 26 littoral combat ships as “an unfortunate and classic example” of the problems of defense acquisition, according to AP.

That’s not to mention the problems with the ships themselves, which have been plagued with mechanical issues. In 2016, four LCS’s experienced engineering difficulties, forcing the Navy to halt all further operations of the ships.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pentagon-got-caught-trying-hide-221424491.html

Report casts doubt about Pentagon adding third missile defense site

This after a recent New York Times article indicated that the two exiting sites–located in Alaska and California–have a poor rate of success.

Furthermore, the report stated that more recently the military has concentrated on using other forms of cyber defense.

However, north country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik continues to push for Drum to get a missile interceptor. Stefanik’s office telling 7 News that adding a site to the east coast would increase “reliability.”

Two other locations are up for consideration along with Fort Drum, but it’s not yet known whether the Pentagon will ever actually green light the costly project.

http://www.informnny.com/news/local-news/report-casts-doubt-about-pentagon-adding-third-missile-defense-site/667891739

As North Korea missile threat grows, Japan lawmakers argue for first strike options

By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO

Rattled by North Korean military advances, influential Japanese lawmakers are pushing harder for Japan to develop the ability to strike preemptively at the missile facilities of its nuclear-armed neighbor.

Japan has so far avoided taking the controversial and costly step of acquiring bombers or weapons such as cruise missiles with enough range to strike other countries, relying instead on its U.S. ally to take the fight to its enemies.

But the growing threat posed by Pyongyang, including Monday’s simultaneous launch of four rockets, is adding weight to an argument that aiming for the archer rather than his arrows is a more effective defense.

 “If bombers attacked us or warships bombarded us, we would fire back. Striking a country lobbing missiles at us is no different,” said Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister who heads a ruling Liberal Democratic Party committee looking at how Japan can defend against the North Korean missile threat. “Technology has advanced and the nature of conflict has changed.”

For decades, Japan has been stretching the limits of its post-war, pacifist constitution. Successive governments have said Tokyo has the right to attack enemy bases overseas when the enemy’s intention to attack Japan is evident, the threat is imminent and there are no other defense options.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-japan-idUSKBN16F0YE

Study Finds India Is Asia’s Most Corrupt Country, While Japan Comes In Last

One of the main objective of the current Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to make India corruption free. But it seems the country still has a long way to go. A recent survey by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption global civil society organization, states that India has the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed. Nearly seven in 10 people who accessed public services in India had paid a bribe. In contrast, Japan has the lowest bribery rate, with 0.2% respondents paying a bribe.

Approximately 900 million — or over one in four — people across 16 countries in Asia Pacific, including some of its biggest economies like India and China, are estimated to have paid a bribe to access public services. For its report titled “People and Corruption: Asia Pacific”, TI spoke to nearly 22,000 people in these countries about their recent experiences with corruption.

One of the main objective of the current Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to make India corruption free. But it seems the country still has a long way to go. A recent survey by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption global civil society organization, states that India has the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed. Nearly seven in 10 people who accessed public services in India had paid a bribe. In contrast, Japan has the lowest bribery rate, with 0.2% respondents paying a bribe.

Approximately 900 million — or over one in four — people across 16 countries in Asia Pacific, including some of its biggest economies like India and China, are estimated to have paid a bribe to access public services. For its report titled “People and Corruption: Asia Pacific”, TI spoke to nearly 22,000 people in these countries about their recent experiences with corruption.

 

Even massive economic players like China aren’t that far behind India. The biggest economy in the region has a lot to do in terms of fighting corruption. Nearly three quarters of the people surveyed in the country said corruption has increased over the past three years, suggesting people don’t see much work happening against corruption.

People in the survey were also asked to rate their government in terms of how it was performing in fighting public sector corruption. More than half the people living in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia felt that their government was doing a good job in fighting corruption. In contrast people in South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia didn’t think highly of their government in its fight against corruption.

Services people pay for

Across the region, nearly two in five said that they thought most or all police officers were corrupt. Unsurprisingly, just under a third of people in the region who had come into contact with a police officer in the past 12 months had paid a bribe. While citizens of Pakistan were the most likely of any country to be asked for bribes in law and order institutions (around seven in 10), for India the police bribery rate is 54% and for China a low 12%.

India had the highest bribery rates of all the countries surveyed for access to public schools (58%) and healthcare (59%), suggesting serious corruption risks when people try to access these basic services. In comparison these numbers for Pakistan and China for public schools are 9% and 29% respectively. In terms of healthcare, the rate for China is 18% and for Pakistan 11%.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/suparnagoswami/2017/03/08/study-finds-india-is-asias-most-corrupt-country-while-japan-comes-in-last/#52468ccf1201

 

Air Force Orders Rheinmetall Ammo for F-35 Fleet


Rheinmetall
has received a $6.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to produce four lots of ammunition for the service branch’s fleet of Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft.

The company said Monday it will begin to deliver Frangible Armor Piercing rounds to the Air Force in December 2017.

Rheinmetall will manufacture the ammunition at a company facility in Switzerland and expects its joint venture with Day and Zimmermann‘s munitions business to assemble ammunition in the U.S. under future follow-on contracts.

The FAP round was originally developed for NATO air forces as part of an effort to boost the F-35’s lethal capacity in comparison with modern infantry fighting vehicles.

Dusseldorf, Germany-based Rheinmetall provides mobility and threat-appropriate security technology platforms to military customers.

http://blog.executivebiz.com/2017/03/air-force-orders-rheinmetall-ammo-for-f-35-fleet/?utm_source=ExecutiveBiz+Daily+RSS+Feed&utm_campaign=26ce0ab718-Mailchimp_ExecutiveBiz_RSS_10_23_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_378117c9e8-26ce0ab718-81843969

Stolen Apple IDs can hold your iPhone hostage

“The problem is, Apple IDs are used with too many services,” Xiao said as he showed a slide listing 20 different Apple services accessible with an Apple ID, including the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple Online Store, iCloud, Find My iPhone, iMessage and the Mac App Store. “Every feature can be abused to make a profit.”

He explained that Apple IDs can be exploited to squeeze money out of almost any aspect of the Apple ecosystem, from deceiving users with spam Apple Messages, to locking users out of their devices and demanding ransom, to artificially pumping up the user ratings of dodgy apps so that they rank in the Top 10 on the App Store.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/02/14/stolen-apple-ids-can-hold-your-iphone-hostage.html

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March 7, 2017

Wikileaks Reveals Massive CIA Cyber Spying Operation

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/

 

Wikileaks: CIA ‘Stole’ Russian Malware, Uses It to ‘Misdirect Attribution’ of Cyber Attacks

“Russian” hacking? It could have just as easily been the CIA

From the Wikileaks “Year Zero” dump:

The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch‘s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.

Everyone knew it. Now we have proof.

“Fingerprints” are meaningless.

http://russia-insider.com/en/wikileaks-cia-stole-russian-malware-uses-it-misdirect-attribution-cyber-attacks/ri19134

Malaysia foils ‘Yemeni attack on Arab royals’

Malaysian police say they have foiled a planned attack on Arab royals by suspected militants from Yemen.

Four Yemenis and three other suspects including a Malaysian and an Indonesian were arrested ahead of Saudi King Salman’s arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

The monarch is currently touring Asia with 25 princes in his entourage.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition against the Houthi insurgent group in Yemen for the last two years.

However, it is unclear what group – if any – the Yemeni nationals were aligned with.

A senior police source told news agency Reuters the four were believed to be Houthi insurgents. However, other sources say the suspects were linked to so-called Islamic State.

It is also unclear whether the other three arrested were part of the same group.

The seven suspects were arrested between 21 and 26 February – the day King Salman arrived in the Malaysian capital.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told journalists the group were “planning to attack the Arab royalties during the visit in Kuala Lumpur”.

“We got them in the nick of time,” he said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39193173

Kim Jong-un takes Malaysians ‘hostage’ and bans anyone from the country from leaving North Korea after Kuala Lumpur embassy is sealed off in hunt for assassins

  • Pyongyang banned Malaysians from leaving North Korea in escalating dispute
  • Measure imposed to ensure ‘safety of the diplomats and citizens’ of North Korea
  • Malaysia responded by closing its borders to North Koreans wanting to leave
  • Tit-for-tat measures are latest in escalating row over death of Kim Jong-nam

North Korea has banned all Malaysians from leaving the country in a dramatic escalation of the row over the death of Kim Jong-Un‘s half brother.

Malaysia likened the travel ban to hostage taking and then responded in kind, closing its borders to North Koreans who want to leave.

The tit-for-tat directives come as relations between the two countries disintegrate over the poisoning of Kim Jong Nam in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on February 13.

Pyongyang’s extraordinary move came as it faced growing international condemnation for a volley of missiles it fired into the Sea of Japan, defying stringent global sanctions aimed at halting its weapons programme.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4288644/N-Korea-Malaysia-ban-citizens-leaving.html#ixzz4aeXhp2dK

 

Missile defense system that China opposes arrives in South Korea

  • THAAD is designed to take down North Korean missiles
  • China says it will take measure to preserve its interests

Seoul (CNN)The first pieces of a US-built missile defense system designed to mitigate the threat of North Korean missiles arrived at the Osan Air Base in South Korea Monday night, according to the US military.

The announcement comes just a day after North Korea test-fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
China has voiced opposition to the proposed placement of the military hardware known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which it sees as a threat to its own security.
“We will firmly take necessary measures to preserve our own security interest, and the US and South Korea must bear the potential consequences,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday.

North Korea is ‘training for an attack on US bases in Japan’: Kim Jong Un is pictured applauding missile launch as Trump warns him of ‘dire consequences’ and sends anti-missile system to the South

  • North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan
  • Three of four missiles shot landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone
  • The US has also begun deploying a missile defense system in South Korea to protect against North Korea
  • China said such US interference poses a ‘clear, present and substantive threat to China’s security interests’
  • The UN Security Council will have an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss these developments
  • Donald Trump and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe say North Korea threat has ‘entered a new stage’

Nuclear-armed North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as President Trump warned Kim Jong-Un of ‘dire consequences’ and deployed missiles to South Korea.

The latest declaration from Pyongyang comes the day after it launched four ballistic missiles 600 miles into the Sea of Japan, in an alarming show of strength.

On Tuesday, the regime also released pictures of King Jong-Un watching the launch of the missiles and applauding with a wild grin on his face.

Three of the four missiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump.

In a phone call, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the threat from North Korea had ‘entered a new stage.’

Meanwhile, Washington and Seoul have agreed to deploy a US missile defense system called THAAD to South Korea, which has infuriated China, the North’s key diplomatic ally and crucial to efforts to persuade it to change its ways.

 North Korea news sources showed the country's leader, Kim Jong-Un, smiling and clapping as the nuclear-armed nation launched three missiles in training for a strike on US bases in Japan

 North Korea news sources showed the country’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, smiling and clapping as the nuclear-armed nation launched three missiles in training for a strike on US bases in Japan

The missiles were launched by the North Korean military

North Korea sources said the missiles were preparation for a strike on Japan

Three of the four missiles fired Monday, pictured, came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4288400/North-Korea-training-attack-bases-Japan.html#ixzz4ae0CT4yj

China’s ZTE to plead guilty, settle with U.S. over Iran, North Korea sales

March 7 at 3:50 PM
Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE will plead guilty and pay $892 million to settle allegations it violated U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran and North Korea, the company and U.S. government agencies said Tuesday.

ZTE entered into an agreement to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, obstruction of justice and making a material false statement, the Justice Department said.

The settlement was made with Justice, the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department.

The Commerce Department investigation followed reports by Reuters in 2012 that ZTE had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars’ worth of hardware and software from some of the best-known U.S. technology companies to Iran’s largest telecommunications carrier.

“ZTE acknowledges the mistakes it made, takes responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company,” Zhao Xianming, ZTE’s chairman and chief executive, said Tuesday in a statement.

Between January 2010 and January 2016, ZTE directly or indirectly shipped U.S.-origin items worth approximately $32 million to Iran without obtaining the proper export licenses from the U.S. government. ZTE then lied to federal investigators, insisting that the shipments had stopped, the Justice Department said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/chinas-zte-pleads-guilty-settles-with-us-over-iran-north-korea-sales/2017/03/07/16a0b2c2-0356-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.b797bf1c04e9

H.R. McMaster, top Trump security adviser, faces questions in rare hearing

– Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The senior Army officer tapped by President Donald Trump to be his national security adviser faces questions from senators during a rare closed-door meeting amid intense scrutiny of the White House for alleged Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s appearance before the Armed Services Committee, slated for Tuesday, is unusual because national security advisers aren’t subject to Senate confirmation and typically don’t testify on Capitol Hill. But McMaster’s situation is different. He elected to stay on active duty rather than retire from the military and generals of his grade need the chamber’s approval when they’re promoted or get new assignments.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the committee’s Republican chairman, said members will vote at the end of session on whether to recommend to the full Senate that McMaster retain his three-star rank.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/7/top-trump-security-adviser-faces-questions-in-rare/

US, Russian, Turkish military chiefs meet in Antalya to discuss Syria, Iraq (PHOTOS)

US, Russian, Turkish military chiefs meet in Antalya to discuss Syria, Iraq (PHOTOS)
Turkey’s military chief of staff, General Hulusi Akar, is hosting a meeting with the heads of the US and Russian armed forces in the southern Turkish province of Antalya, according to Ankara and Moscow.

The meeting is being attended by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford Jr., Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia Valery Gerasimov and Turkey’s military chief of staff General Hulusi Akar.

https://www.rt.com/news/379687-russia-us-turkey-meet-syria/

Russian general hit by roadside bomb in Syria loses both legs

Russian Major General Pyotr Milyukhin lost both his legs and an eye when a radio controlled bomb hit a military convoy heading from the Tiyas airfield, west of Palmyra, to the Syrian city of Homs, it has been confirmed.

Milyukhin is in an intensive care unit at Russia’s Main Military Clinical Hospital, medical officials confirmed to RIA Novosti on Friday.

The hospital refused to disclose any details, but said that the high-ranking officer had been placed “in the 56th department.”

The incident occurred in mid-February, Kommersant daily reported, citing sources. Four of the six people traveling in the armored vehicle along with Milyukhin reportedly lost their lives.

https://www.rt.com/news/379597-russian-general-bomb-legs/

A Russian contract soldier died near Palmyra on March 2, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Monday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the soldier was killed during a terrorist offensive on Syrian army’s positions, where Russian military advisers were present.

“Artem Gorbunov died on March 2 near Palmyra when repelling Daesh terrorists’ attempts to advance on the positions of Syrian [government] troops, where Russian military advisers were present.”

The soldier was posthumously awarded. Earlier in the day, Gorbunov was buried at a cemetery in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.

According to the Defense Ministry, 28 Russian servicemen have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201703061051314615-russia-serviceman-dies-syria/

2,100 Iranian fighters said killed in Iraq, Syria

Figure doubles earlier death count from November, which only included Syria fighting

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the head of Iran’s veterans’ affairs office said Tuesday.

“Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums,” Mohammad Ali Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency.

Shahidi, who is head of Iran’s Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, was speaking at a conference on martyrdom culture in Tehran.

The figure was more than double the number he gave in November, which referred only to Syria.

Iran is, with Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and also organizes militias fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Shahidi did not provide details on the nationalities of those killed.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/2100-iran-fighters-said-killed-in-iraq-syria/

War, Violence Cost Iraq $36 Billion

Baghdad- A report released by Iraq’s ministry of planning revealed the disastrous damage done by the gruesome acts of violence and aggression throughout 2004-2016 of fighting terror group ISIS.

Overall infrastructure damage, save for that inflicted on the Iraqi Kurdistan region, has been accounted for by the report. Losses suffered by civilians and their assets, and those registered through local corruption and embezzlement were excluded from the report.

Destruction cited by the report amounted to $36 billion.

All the more, Iraq’s culture ministry said that it was unable to estimate the value of stolen effects belonging to the national body responsible for antiquities and heritage.

http://english.aawsat.com/2017/03/article55368850/war-violence-cost-iraq-36-billion

The multipurpose indigenously-designed and -manufactured Iranian helicopter Saba 248
The multipurpose indigenously-designed and -manufactured Iranian helicopter Saba 248

Iran has unveiled a new utility helicopter capable of serving both military and civilian purposes.

The ceremony to unveil the helicopter, named Saba 248, took place in the presence of Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan on Tuesday.

Iran’s Helicopter Renovation and Logistics Company (PANHA), associated with the Defense Ministry’s Aviation Industries Organization, has designed and manufactured the aircraft.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/07/513357/Iran-Saba-248-helicopter-Dehqan

Trump, Netanyahu Discuss Iran, Anti-Semitism in Call

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a long telephone conversation Monday about strategic threats posed by Iran.

“The two leaders spoke at length about the dangers arising from the nuclear deal with Iran and Iranian aggression in the [Middle East] region and the need to work together to deal with those dangers,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Netanyahu has been a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and major world powers that went into effect in January. The Israeli leader has said the deal does not go far enough and when some of the clauses of the deal expire in 10 and 15 years, it will leave Tehran on the threshold of building a bomb.

The president had told Netanyahu when the two met at the White House last month that the nuclear agreement was “one of the worst deals” he had ever seen.

http://www.voanews.com/a/trump-netanyahu-discuss-iran-antisemitism-in-call/3752545.html

Iran setting up shell shipping companies to export weapons and illicit goods: investigation

Nearly half of all shipping docks in Iran are operated by the regime’s military, and it is using shell companies to smuggle weapons and other illicit goods, according to a new report.

A total of 90 docks have been taken over by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is using them to circumvent sanctions and fund terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond, according to the anti-regime People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

“Based on the direct order of the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, no authority is allowed to oversee the activities of the IRGC at border areas, be it on the ground, sea or air, and it can import anything in any quantity without paying any customs fee,” PMOI officials said in a statement provided to Fox News. “The IRGC uses these docks for its unlawful activities.”

The PMOI adds that in order to fund its activities, the Revolutionary Guard engages in smuggling oil, gas, chemical products, cigarettes, narcotics, alcohol, mobile phones, pharmaceuticals, hygiene material and energy drugs and supplements.

The importing and exporting of these illicit goods has allowed the IRGC to net $12 billion annually, the group estimates.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/07/iran-setting-up-shell-shipping-companies-to-export-weapons-and-illicit-goods-investigation.html

 

Iran vs Russia: The Next Natural Gas War

Not everybody attending the Iranian natural gas summit last week in Frankfurt was there for the same reason.

While most were gauging the prospects for an opening of major natural gas reserves and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export prospects, others were there for quite different reasons.

Take the three representatives from Russia’s gas giant Gazprom (OGZPY), for example. They weren’t there to scout new investment packages. On the contrary… They were there to see just how badly their company’s position was under siege.

And it’s no wonder the Gazprom guys looked concerned. From what I saw at the summit, they have every reason to be.

For energy investors, on the other hand, the news is very good…

Gazprom is in Dire Straits

Gazprom may still be the largest natural gas company on the face of the Earth, exporting more gas than anybody else and providing revenues that account for the biggest single chunk of the Russian central budget… But it is facing down some difficult times.

For one, extractions are declining at the primary mature fields the company has depended on for decades. To offset that growing problem, Gazprom needs to move into three very expensive new regions – above the Arctic Circle, onto the continental shelf, and into eastern Siberia.

Moscow is hard pressed to provide the necessary funds for that.

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Iran-vs-Russia-The-Next-Natural-Gas-War.html

Iran’s Crude-Oil Exports Increase to Level Last Seen in 1970s

Iran’s crude-oil exports touched 3 million barrels a day for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

That level, lasting just one day, was reached in the current Iranian month that began Feb. 19, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, according to state news agency IRNA.

The Islamic Republic’s exports tumbled in 2011 as international sanctions targeted its oil industry, cutting production. Since restrictions ended in January 2016, Iran has recovered quickly, raising output near pre-sanctions levels of about 4 million barrels a day. It’s targeting 5 million a day by 2021 with the help of foreign investors, though none has yet signed a definitive contract.

Iran’s crude exports have averaged 2.45 million barrels a day since Feb. 19, Bloomberg tanker-tracking data show.

The country in November won an exemption from output cuts agreed on by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, saying it was still recovering from sanctions. Production exceeded 6 million barrels a day in the 1970s, before the Islamic Revolution drove away Western investors and prompted a long confrontation with the U.S.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-07/iran-s-crude-oil-exports-increase-to-level-last-seen-in-1970s

Iran Tests New Weapons in Yemen

This was revealed by the Houthi Supreme Political Council (SPS) at the end of last month.

Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Houthis in Yemen, said, on February 10, that the Houthis had been able to increase the range and accuracy of their weapons and could now launch attacks on Saudi Arabia, the leader of the coalition forces which are fighting the Houthis in Yemen.

The coalition forces have also intercepted drones with missile firing capabilities that bore Iranian markers.

In January, the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah which was near the Yemeni port of Hudeida was attacked by an unmanned and guided boat, according to Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan, U.S. Fifth Fleet commander.

Later reports from the U.S. Naval Institute indicated that the naval craft was provided by the navy of the IRGC.

IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, wrote: “Such vessels pose a new threat to civilian maritime traffic, open a new page in the clashes between Iran and Saudi Arabia in this sensitive arena, and could reach other Iranian-supported terror organizations in the world.”

http://www.iranfocus.com/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31340:iran-tests-new-weapons-in-yemen&catid=9:terrorism&Itemid=114

Iran, Italy to hold scientific coop. meeting

TEHRAN, Mar. 07 (MNA) – Iran and Italy will organize the first ever meeting on joint scientific, technological and innovative cooperation in mid-April, deputy head of research at Science Ministry said on Tuesday.

 

According to Vahid Ahmadi, the meeting aims at providing new opportunities for universities, educational institutions, research centers, Technology and knowledge-based companies based at science and technology parks in Iran and Italy.

Other objectives of the meeting include development of connections among research centers and Hi Tech companies for promotion of technology transfer of products, services and innovation capacities; promoting the top scientific and technological trends in both countries through further bilateral dialogues among organizations as well as supporting cooperation in the fields of research, commercialization and development of innovation.

Iran-Italy’s joint meeting on scientific cooperation is slated for 19-20 April 2017 in Tehran.

http://en.mehrnews.com/news/124070/Iran-Italy-to-hold-scientific-coop-meeting

Germany delays contract with MBDA for missile defence system-sources

Germany’s defence ministry on Tuesday told lawmakers that it would not complete a contract for a multi-billion euro new missile defence system with European arms maker MBDA during the current legislative period, as planned, ministry sources said.

Ministry officials remain committed to concluding a contract with MBDA for the Medium Extended Air Defence System that will replace the current Patriot air and missile defence system, but said there was still work to do on MBDA proposal, as well as how the overall project would be managed, the sources said.

Regardless of the MEADS outcome, the ministry also plans to spend several hundred million euros to modernise the software and hardware of the German military’s existing Patriot system, which was built by Raytheon Co, the sources said.

The delay in the MEADS project marks another setback for Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has sought to reform Germany’s troubled weapons procurement process since taking office in late 2013. A second multi-billion euro programme to build a new multi-role ship has also been delayed.

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-germany-delays-contract-with-mbda-for-missile-defence-system-sources-2345107

Conservative Fillon wins ‘unanimous’ support from party leadership

Latest update : 2017-03-07

France’s embattled presidential hopeful Francois Fillon on Monday won “unanimous” support from his Republicans party, putting him firmly back in the driver’s seat after veteran conservative Alain Juppe rejected calls to stand in his place.

“The political committee, after a wide-ranging exchange, unanimously renewed its support for Francois Fillon,” Senate speaker Gerard Larcher told reporters after around 20 party seniors met to “evaluate” the crisis sparked by the fake jobs scandal clouding Fillon’s campaign.

Fillon, 63, had told the meeting that Juppe‘s definitive decision not to run “confirmed that there isn’t a plan B” to his candidacy, according to a text of his remarks sent to AFP.

With just seven weeks to go before the country goes to the polls in a two-stage vote, Fillon said: “We have lost too much time with vain debates, leaving the way open for the far right and candidates on the left who are rubbing their hands over our disunity.”

EU army moves step closer: Ministers APPROVE Brussels defence headquarters

THE EU army came one step closer today after ministers approved plans for a military command centre based in Brussels.

states agreed to open a command centre to run military training missions abroad, a step France and Italy hope is a precursor to an EU defence headquarters in the face of a growing Russian threat.Foreign and defence ministers approved the Brussels-based command, which will be run by some 30 people when it is launched in the next few weeks.

Britain has long opposed the crumbling bloc’s plans for its own army with fears the defence force could undermine operations.

The EU is seeking to match its economic might with an ability to deter militant or Russian threats, as well as using peacekeepers to stabilise failing states on EU borders.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/775843/eu-army-ministers-approve-brussels-defence-command-centre

Pentagon: U.S. airstrike in Yemen killed ex-Guantánamo detainee

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 6, 2017

Iran Launched Ballistic Missiles, U.S. Officials Say

The alleged launchings come the same day North Korea sent four projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

By Curt Mills | Staff Writer

Iran has launched two ballistic missiles, U.S. officials told Fox News.

 

Iran launched the two short-range ballistic missiles from Revolutionary Guard Corps bases in southeastern Iran over the weekend, according to one official. The first missile was fired on Saturday, but missed its target. On Sunday, Iran is said to have tried again and been successful.

Both target locations were in the Gulf of Oman. The successful attempt was said to have destroyed a floating barge.

The news of the tests comes the say same day as South Korea and Japan reel from North Korea’s latest test.

In February, the Trump administration put Iran “on notice” following a missile test. The news of that status was delivered by then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has since resigned from the administration. Iran nonetheless test-fired another missile after being put “on notice.”

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-03-06/iran-launched-ballistic-missiles-us-officials-claim

Swarming Iranian attack boats force US ship off course in Persian Gulf

Iranian attack boats forced a US Navy ship to change course in the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, Reuters reports, quoting a US official.

The official says multiple boats approached the USNS Invincible, coming within 600 yards of it.

According to the official, three British ships that were accompanying the Invincible were also forced to change course.

Attempts to communicate with the Iranian vessels over radio did not garner any responses, the official says.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/iranian-attack-boats-force-us-ship-off-course-in-persian-gulf/

 

Iran: The story of proxy militias

Iran’s destructive role across the Middle East has become common knowledge and crystal clear for all. During the past two decades, especially, the presence of this regime’s proxy militias and affiliated Shiite groups has been considered an overt secret. Yet the question is how has Iran been able to dispatch so many fighters, and on a constant basis, to various flashpoint scenes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran has trained, equipped, financed and dispatched thousands of fighters to various battlegrounds across the region. However, with its own economy literally in peril, how has Tehran afforded such an expensive campaign?

Iran allocates a large portion of its annual budget to finance a massive domestic crackdown machine, parallel to exporting terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. This goes part in parcel to Tehran’s continuous effort to obtain weapons of mass destruction, including its clandestine nuclear drive and ballistic missiles program. A percentage of the capital necessary for such endeavors, and the repressive forces inside the country, have ironically been provided by the highly boasted Iran nuclear deal.

Weaponised black hole? Texas town terrorised – portal opens over secret Army research base

A BIZARRE and sinister-looking perfect black cube has terrified residents of a Texas town after it appeared in the skies above White Sands – the USA’s most secret military installation.

UFO alien cube and portal spotted over Texas
The terrifying black cube was snapped over El Paso on the Texas border just a few miles from White Sands – the infamous US military testing site where the world’s first Atomic bomb was detonated.Almost all the experimental weapons research carried out ay White Sands is highly classified. The results of the cutting edge research only become public decades later.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/774782/mystery-perfect-black-cube-hovering-Texas-secret-military-research-complex

Japan Moves to Highest Alert Level After North Korea Fires Missiles

March 5, 2017, 6:39 PM EST March 6, 2017, 4:05 AM EST
  • Pyongyang fires 4 missiles simultaneously into sea near Japan
  • Unlikely they were intercontinental missiles, South Korea says
Japan on Alert After North Korea Fires Missiles

What Is Known About Missiles Fired by North Korea?

Japan moved to the highest possible alert level after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles simultaneously into nearby waters, the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Three of the missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, with one dropping about 350 kilometers west of the nation’s northern Akita prefecture, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters after a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council. Authorities were still analyzing the type of missile launched, he said.

The launches “clearly show that this is a new level of threat” from North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers in Tokyo. American officials held phone calls afterward with counterparts in Japan and South Korea, which rely on the U.S. for security.

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities have really improved, and they are becoming more difficult to predict,” Abe said. The missiles “are getting closer to Japan’s waters and territory.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-05/north-korea-fires-what-may-be-intercontinental-missile-yonhap

 

Juppé says he will not replace Fillon in French presidential race

Former PM tells supporters it is too late to save his party from damage caused by François Fillon’s ‘fake jobs’ scandal

in Paris

The man seen as a possible saviour of France’s centre-right has disappointed supporters by announcing he will not stand in next month’s presidential election.

Former prime minister Alain Juppé, who lost Les Républicains’ primary election last November to François Fillon, said it was too late for him to save the party, which is riven with political scandal and the prospect of defeat.

“I confirm, once and for all, that I will not be a candidate in the election for the presidency of the republic,” Juppé told journalists in Bordeaux, where he is mayor.

In a brief declaration tinged with bitterness, he described the deeply divided situation in which his party finds itself as “a waste”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/06/alain-juppe-not-replace-francois-fillon-french-presidential-race

Iran indicts ex-nuke negotiator likely on suspicion of espionage

Suspect, unnamed by authorities, believed to be dual Iranian-Canadian national who worked on parallel talks team, previously detained for spying

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s judiciary has indicted a member of the country’s team that negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, a spokesman said Sunday, likely an Iranian-Canadian national previously detained by authorities on suspicion of espionage.

An Iranian-American also faces charges after allegedly taking $3.1 million from people after promising to help them emigrate to foreign countries, judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said, according to reports by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

In the case involving the nuclear team member, Ejehi said it would be up to a court to decide whether to try the individual charged. Ejehi did not directly name the team member who had been indicted, nor did he explain what charges the indictment carried.

However, Ejehi did say the person involved was a dual national with the initials D.E. That suggests the person indicted likely is Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a dual Iranian-Canadian national.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-indicts-ex-nuke-negotiator-likely-on-suspicion-of-espionage/

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces capture Mosul bridge, close in on government buildings

By Isabel Coles and Maher Chmaytelli

MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S.-backed Iraqi forces captured the second of Mosul’s five bridges on Monday, giving a boost to their onslaught on Islamic State’s remaining stronghold in the western part of the city.

All of Mosul’s five bridges over the Tigris have been destroyed but their capture facilitates the movement of forces progressing alongside the river,which cuts Mosul in two.

The bridge seized, al-Hurriya, is the second after one located further south. Its capture shields the back of the forces advancing towards a nearby government buildings complex.

“We control the western end of the bridge,” said a senior media officer with Rapid Response, the elite unit of the Interior Ministry leading the charge towards the complex.

Recapturing the site would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the old city. It would also mark a symbolic step towards restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by Islamic State.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/u-backed-iraqi-forces-capture-mosul-bridge-close-123656781.html

Russia, Turkey and the Black Sea A2/AD Arms Race

Russian cruiser Moskva. Wikimedia Commons/Mil.ru

Will Turkey build its A2/AD capabilities to counter Russia’s growing A2/AD assets in the Black Sea and Syria?

Bleda KurtdarcanBarın Kayaoğlu

While the Chinese A2/AD “bubble” in the South China Sea gives headaches to the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region, further to the north, the newest Russian “bubble” is about to go online against Japan in the disputed Kuril Islands. Meanwhile, on the other end of Eurasia, in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, another A2/AD zone challenges NATO’s position in Eastern Europe.

Now, two more Russian “bubbles” in the Black Sea and Syria are threatening Turkey and NATO’s southeastern flank.

Russia’s Black Sea and Syria “bubbles” matter to Turkey for several reasons. They spell an end to the relative naval superiority that Ankara had established in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean after the Cold War. It also means that Turkey has to redirect resources away from its ambitious buildup of force-projection platforms toward developing strategies and weapons to counter the Russian A2/AD bubbles. While Russian–Turkish relations appear better in recent months, the future is uncertain. If a crisis erupts similar to the November 2015 shoot down of a Russian Su-24 by a Turkish F-16, Ankara would face fearful odds against Moscow.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/russia-turkey-the-black-sea-a2-ad-arms-race-19673

Russian Hackers Said to Seek Hush Money From Liberal U.S. Groups

Michael Riley
  • Post-election crime wave by attackers demanding bitcoins
  • Center for American Progress said to be among victims

Russian hackers are targeting U.S. progressive groups in a new wave of attacks, scouring the organizations’ emails for embarrassing details and attempting to extract hush money, according to two people familiar with probes being conducted by the FBI and private security firms.

At least a dozen groups have faced extortion attempts since the U.S. presidential election, said the people, who provided broad outlines of the campaign. The ransom demands are accompanied by samples of sensitive data in the hackers’ possession.

In one case, a non-profit group and a prominent liberal donor discussed how to use grant money to cover some costs for anti-Trump protesters. The identities were not disclosed, and it’s unclear if the protesters were paid.

At least some groups have paid the ransoms even though there is little guarantee the documents won’t be made public anyway. Demands have ranged from about $30,000 to $150,000, payable in untraceable bitcoins, according to one of the people familiar with the probe.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-06/russian-hackers-said-to-seek-hush-money-from-liberal-u-s-groups

Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier Will Soon Be Out of Action for 3 Years

Russia will start modernizing its sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov before July. The ageing warship will undergo a massive refit that will modernize her problematic and unreliable propulsion system along with other upgrades.

“The decision to start Admiral Kuznetsov’s modernization at Zvezdochka in the first six months of 2017 has been made. The project plan specifying the costs and the amount of work to be performed, will be completed within a couple of months,” a source told the Moscow-based TASS news.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-only-aircraft-carrier-will-soon-be-out-action-3-19678

Tensions Rise In Iraq As Kurdish Forces Seize Oil Pipeline

Forget China, Germany may be America’s top trade problem

Germany’s surpluses larger, and its industries more competitive

FRANKFURT — China bears the brunt of U.S. anger over unfair trade, but Germany’s foreign surpluses are now far larger and may be more consequential for America’s economy and the rest of the world.

Low-wage Chinese workers have put downward pressure on U.S. manufacturing wages for years, but Germany’s industries compete more directly with U.S. industries.

Nine of Germany’s 10 top export categories, such as machinery and electronic equipment, are the same as the U.S. top-ten exports, says Caroline Freund at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The weak euro — which has lost around a quarter of its value against the dollar over the last three years — gives German companies an extra edge in international markets. Germany’s surpluses have drawn fire from the new U.S. administration, and could figure large when Group of 20 finance ministers gather in Baden-Baden on March 17.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/forget-china-germany-may-be-americas-top-trade-problem-2017-03-05

Germany Disagrees with Italy, France over Defense Fund Financing

 

The German government has rejected calls by France and Italy to finance a proposed €5-billion ($5.3 billion) E.U. defense through new debt, according to a government positioning paper obtained by Handelsblatt.

In the paper, Berlin says financing the fund with bonds would “contradict the fundamentals of good budget management and is therefore not a viable option for financing European defense efforts.”

Germany rejects Franco-Italian proposal on Defense Eurobonds

Germany opposes a Franco-Italian proposal to finance European defense public procurement via a €5,3bn Eurobond issue, Handelsblatt reports on Monday.

The German financial daily sites government sources, insisting on the principle that defense procurement must be financed by member states alone rather than mutualized debt. Berlin is ready to veto any such an initiative.

The European Commission has proposed a fund that would lower the cost for the procurement of helicopters and planes. Paris and Rome followed up with the idea of funding defense procurement with Euro bonds guaranteed by EU member states.

Berlin is in principle opposed to any form of mutualized debt while also categorically opposing any one-off exemption from stability and growth pact. Germany was one of the first countries allowed to deviate for Maastricht criteria in the late 1990s.

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/germany-rejects-franco-italian-proposal-defense-eurobonds/

NATO battalion battle group to start moving to Estonia

TALLINN– The personnel, arms and equipment of a battle group of the multinational NATO battalion will be moving to Estonia over the next six weeks.

The troops will be airlifted to Estonia via the Amari air base and the equipment will arrive by land or by sea, via the port of Paldiski.

“Estonia is ready to receive the allies,” Minister of Defense Margus Tsahkna said in a press release. “As soon as in May, the battle group of the allied battalion will take part in Spring Storm, a major exercise of the Estonian defense forces, in the composition of the 1st Infantry Brigade.”

http://www.baltictimes.com/nato_battalion_battle_group_to_start_moving_to_estonia/

EU should avoid duplicating Nato, says Michael Fallon

UK defence secretary urges against recreating structures as ministers due to agree on Brussels military command centre

Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon will urge the EU to cooperate more closely with Nato. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

The EU must not undermine Nato by recreating its military structures, the UK defence secretary will tell European leaders.

As the bloc aims to deepen its defence cooperation, EU foreign and defence ministers are expected to agree at a meeting on Monday to establish a small military command centre in Brussels to aid “planning and conduct capability”.

Arriving in Brussels before the meeting, Michael Fallon said he would be urging EU leaders to cooperate through the atlantic defence union. “Today we are urging the European Union to cooperate more closely with Nato to avoid unnecessary duplication of structures and to work together on new threats, including the need to strengthen cybersecurity,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/06/eu-should-avoid-duplicating-nato-says-michael-fallon

[Editor’s Note: Europe has gone mad.]

EU considers having its own NUCLEAR arsenal following fears in Brussels that Donald Trump will withdraw US support

  • Talk of a military plan to beef up the continent’s weapons of mass destruction
  • Comes as union under pressure and suggestions Russia and the US are aligning
  • German lawmaker has said France and Britain should build on their weapons
  • Poland’s former prime minister called for nuclear defence  in Europe last month

Talk of a military programme to beef up the continent’s weapons of mass destruction comes with the union under pressure and suggestions of Russia and the US aligning.

The drastic move would only be triggered if it believed The White House would no longer be an ally, but discussions have already gathered pace in Germany.

HMS Trafalgar which was decommissioned in 2009 as a German lawmaker said his idea was to build on existing weapons in France and the UK

BY

(Civil.Ge) — The Military Committee (MC), NATO’s highest military authority and the organization’s primary source of military advice, concluded its two-day visit to Georgia on March 2-3 to discuss the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package and its implementation, as well as regional security issues.

The Military Committee Chairman, General Petr Pavel, accompanied by senior NATO military representatives, held multiple high-level meetings with Georgian officials.

On March 2, Georgia’s Defense Minister Levan Izoria hosted the Czech General to discuss NATO-Georgia cooperation prospects, security challenges in the region, as well as the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) and Georgia’s participation in international missions.

“NATO supports Georgia’s commitment and its Euro-Atlantic membership aspirations” General Pavel said at the joint press conference following the meeting with Georgian Defense Ministry officials on March 2.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/06032017-nato-military-committee-visits-georgia/

Polish Defense Minister Claims NATO Seeks to Protect Suwalki Isthmus From Russia

NATO forces, deployed in Poland, are aimed at protecting Suwalki isthmus, bordering on Lithuania and Russia’s Kaliningrad region, so that Moscow was unable to cut off the Baltic States from their “territorial rear area,” Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Monday.

WARSAW (Sputnik) — The minister highlighted that the US troops would be deployed in a number of cities in western, northern and central Poland, and would be ready to respond to any external aggression.

“The main forces are sent to defend Suwalki isthmus, so that the Russians were unable to cut off the Baltic countries from the territorial rear area, presented by Poland, which is the so-called strategic depth for NATO troops,” Macierewicz said in an interview with Do Rzeczy newspaper.

“The presence of the allied troops in the west of the country made it possible to make a decision to move part of the tank forces to the east bank of the Vistula,” Macierewicz added.

Macierewicz stressed that “Russia might not withdraw its troops from Belarus” after West-2017 military exercises, set for September.

In early November 2016, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia and Belarus would hold joint military exercises dubbed Zapad-2017 (“West-2017”) in September 2017. On January 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance did not see any threat posed by Russia to its eastern flank.

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201703061051312606-poland-nato-troops/

Report flags NATO’s naval shortfalls vis-a-vis Russia

March 5, 2017 (Photo Credit: U.S. Navy)
LONDON — NATO has been urged to rethink its maritime strategy to address the re-emerging contest with Russia for supremacy in the North Atlantic, a paper by one of Europe’s top military think tanks says.

“If NATO does not have effective control of the North Atlantic, or at least the ability to deny Russia naval access to this maritime domain, Russia could block or disrupt U.S. reinforcement to Europe,” the Royal United Services Institute said in the paper to be published in London on Monday.

Titled, “NATO and the North Atlantic: Revitalising Collective Defence,” the paper draws on views from leading experts, including Adm. James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander between 2009 and 2013.

Until now most of NATO’s strategic response to Moscow’s aggression has been in the air and land sectors, but now senior ex-military officers writing in the survey are saying the alliance has to respond on the maritime front as well.

Pentagon Blocks Littoral Combat Ship Overrun From a GAO Report

March 6, 2017, 5:00 AM EST
  • Security office rejects including the numbers for publication
  • Data on troubled ships called ‘sensitive but unclassified’

The Pentagon office that reviews information to determine whether it’s classified has blocked publication of potentially embarrassing data on cost overruns for the first two vessels bought under the Navy’s primary Littoral Combat Ship contracts, according to a new congressional audit.

In a report examining Navy shipbuilding contracts, the U.S. Government Accountability Office deleted overrun information on two of the Littoral Combat Ships launched in late 2014 — the USS Milwaukee built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the USS Jackson built by Austal Ltd. — at the request of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

The GAO said the Defense Department “deemed the cost growth” on both vessels “to be sensitive but unclassified information, which is excluded from this public report. However, the percent difference” in cost for each ship “was above target cost.” Other types of ships were listed with specific data on cost increases that ranged from 4 percent to 45 percent.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-06/pentagon-blocks-littoral-combat-ship-overrun-from-a-gao-report

Kenya: Special Forces May Soon Join the War Against Al-Shabaab

The war against Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia should intensify if US President Donald Trump approves a Pentagon plan to expand operations in the country.

A week today, the Pentagon sent recommendations to the White House that would allow US Special Forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army, now struggling against Al-Shabaab, The Associated Press reported.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201703060006.html

China Trying To Crush South Korea’s Economy

I write about Asia, especially the Chinese economy.

Executives of South Korea’s Lotte Group, after a meeting Sunday, asked Seoul for “active help.”

The retail giant’s business has been under pressure in China this year as it first considered and then approved a swap of parcels with the South Korean Ministry of Defense. The Ministry plans to use the acquired land, a golf course south of Seoul, for the first battery of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is designed to knock down missiles.

Beijing, enraged at the defiance of “a small country,” has gone to great lengths to prevent the installation of the system.

And the Trump administration should go to great lengths to protect the American homeland. The security of the U.S. is at stake, so Washington should support its South Korean ally by imposing stiff sanctions on China.

The Pentagon wants to put THAAD, as the Lockheed Martin-built system is called, in South Korea to intercept North Korean missiles.

China has supplied crucial equipment and technologies to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program. For instance, an enterprise associated with the People’s Liberation Army transferred transporter-erector-launchers for the North’s KN-08, making that intercontinental missile particularly dangerous to the U.S. Moreover, there are indications that the missiles Pyongyang tested August 24 and February 12 are variants of China’s submarine-launched JL-1 ballistic missile.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2017/03/05/china-trying-to-crush-south-koreas-economy/#b893aeb349c1

Taiwan Risks Beijing Backlash Over South China Sea Patrols


Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is risking a new showdown with Beijing by stepping up military capabilities to protect holdings in the widely contested South China Sea.

The navy of Taiwan, a diplomatically isolated government that claims the entire sea and controls its largest land feature, will increase patrols in the 3.5 million-square-kilometer body of water because of China’s own growing military might, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told parliament in Taipei last week. The navy will also train together with the air force, the minister said.

He added the navy will use its increased, regular South China Sea patrols to do humanitarian rescue drills and protect Taiwanese boats trawling for fish or ferrying supplies. A 1,000-ton coast guard frigate has already been sent to the sea to protect Taiwanese fishing boats.

http://www.voanews.com/a/taiwan-risks-beijing-backlash-south-china-sea-patrols/3751147.html

 

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March 5, 2017

Tokyo calls North Korea’s latest missile launch a ‘grave threat to national security’

AP, AFP-JIJI, KYODO, STAFF REPORT

North Korea on Monday launched four ballistic missiles, three of which fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government said.

There were no immediate reports of damage to ships or aircraft in the area, Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said at a news conference in Tokyo, calling the latest missile launch a “grave threat to national security.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe separately told reporters that the missiles traveled around 1,000 km. He later said at a Diet session that the remaining missile also fell near the EEZ.

Japan has filed a protest with North Korea over the latest missile launches, according to Abe.

Suga also said the launches are in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted against North Korea, banning it from developing nuclear arms and missile technologies.

In Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported earlier, citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, that a possible intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched at 7:36 a.m. from North Korea’s northwest in an apparent protest by North Korea against a joint military drill by South Korea and the United States that began last week.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/06/national/tokyo-says-north-korea-fired-three-four-missiles-came-japans-eez/#.WLzMM5ArJD8

 

Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles

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