Tag Archives: France

March 25, 2017

Mosul’s children were shouting beneath the rubble. Nobody came

Coalition bombs buried more than a hundred people in the ruins of three houses and raised fresh questions about US rules of engagement

 

By the time rescuers finally arrived no one was left alive. For almost a week desperate neighbours had scraped through the rubble, searching for as many as 150 people who lay buried after three homes in a west Mosul suburb were destroyed by coalition airstrikes.

The full picture of the carnage continued to emerge on Friday, when at least 20 bodies were recovered. Dozens more are thought to remain buried in what could turn out to be the single most deadly incident for civilians in the war against Islamic State (Isis).

Rescuers at the scene in the suburb of Mosul Jadida said they had driven the 250 miles from Baghdad but had not been able to enter the area until Wednesday, five days after airstrikes hit the houses where local residents had been sheltering from fierce fighting between Iraqi forces and Isis.

Neighbours said at least 80 bodies had been recovered from one house alone, where people had been encouraged by local elders to take shelter. Rescuers were continuing to dig through the ruins, and the remains of two other houses nearby, which had also been pulverised in attacks that were described as “relentless and horrifying”.

The US military said it was launching an investigation. Cololnel Joseph Scrocca, from the US-led command in Baghdad, said “the coalition has opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation” from Mosul.

The destruction took place in a district that was last week a frontline in the battle for Mosul. Locals said militants had positioned a sniper on the roof of the home that had sheltered the largest number of people. It has raised fresh questions about rules of engagement in the war against the terror group, after two recent US airstrikes in Syria resulted in at least 90 casualties, nearly all of them thought to be civilian.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/24/mosuls-children-were-shouting-under-the-rubble-nobody-came

Was Westminster terrorist guided by a mastermind? Killer’s phone was STILL connected to another on Whatsapp when he died raising fears he was taking instructions

  • Khalid Masood murdered four and injured at least 29 in Westminster attack
  • Jihadist Masood, 52, drove 4×4 into pedestrians along Westminster Bridge 
  • MailOnline revealed that Massod was on Whatsapp minutes before the attack
  • Police are now focusing their investigation on the killer’s online communications
  • However WhatsApp messages  are visible only to the person who has sent them and the individuals that were meant to receive

The Westminster attacker’s online communications have now become the core of the investigation around the terror raid with security forces keen to ascertain if he was receiving instructions from a jihadist master moments before he unleashed carnage.

Khalid Massod was on WhatsApp at 2.37pm on Wednesday, approximately two minutes before ploughing into people on Westminster Bridge and four minutes before he was shot dead by armed officers outside the Palaces of Westminster, the MailOnline exclusively revealed yesterday.

Now, Masood’s messages with others on the encrypted messaging service have prompted police to up their search for jihadist associates of the killer.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4348392/Was-Masood-guided-terror-mastermind-WhatsApp.html#ixzz4cL3OI0rb

Saudi embassy confirms UK attacker had been in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi Embassy statement released late Friday said that Khalid Masood taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009.

The embassy said that he had a work visa. It said he returned for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent.

The Saudi Embassy said that he wasn’t tracked by the country’s security services and didn’t have a criminal record there.

Before taking the name Masood, he was known as Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes.

Masood drove his rented SUV across the crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and attacked police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, fatally stabbing him before being shot dead by police.

In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with what have been described as catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/25/saudi-embassy-confirms-uk-attacker-had-been-in-saudi-arabia.html

Thousands attend funeral of slain Hamas terrorist as group vows revenge

Organization claims Israeli agents assassinated Mazen Faqha, in an attempt to ‘wage clandestine war’ against it

 

Thousands attended the funeral of a top Hamas terrorist in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, as leaders of the terror group continued to blame Israel for his killing and threatened retribution.

Mazen Faqha, a Hamas official freed as part of the 2011 deal to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and deported to Gaza, was assassinated on Friday evening by unknown gunme.

A Hamas official quoted by Army Radio said Israel was “trying to force a new model of a clandestine war on Hamas, as it has failed in the open war model.” He said Hamas would know how to respond to such tactics.

Khalil al-Haya, Hamas’s deputy chief in the Gaza Strip, said at the funeral that Israel “will bear responsibility for the killing.” On Friday al-Haya said that only the Jewish state would have had something to gain from the death.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/thousands-attend-funeral-of-slain-hamas-terrorist-as-group-vows-revenge/

Syria said threatening to fire Scud missiles at Israel

Assad regime says attacks by IDF on Syrian targets will be met with counter strikes on military bases, Haifa port

The Syrian leadership has sent messages to Israel warning that any further strikes by the IDF on targets within Syria’s borders would be met with Scud rockets fired deep into the Jewish state, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar reported Saturday.

The Assad regime conveyed the message to Israel via Russian mediators, the report said.

According to the report, Syria warned that Israeli strikes on Syrian military targets would be met with the firing of Scud missiles capable of carrying half a ton of explosives at IDF bases, while an attack on civilian targets would see Syria launching a counter strike on the Haifa port and the petrochemical plants in the area.

The report warned that Syria has over 800 Scud missiles and that Syria would not issue any warnings before the missile strikes because Israel does not warn before it hits.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/syria-threatens-to-fire-scud-missiles-at-israel-report/

 

Two charged over arms supply to French airport attacker

Remanded suspects indicted for weapons possession and ‘association with terrorist criminals’ in connection with attack on Paris airport

March 25, 2017, 2:31 pm

PARIS — French anti-terrorism judges have charged two men suspected of involvement in supplying a weapon to the gunman killed at Paris’s Orly airport after attacking soldiers, a judicial source said Saturday.

The suspects, aged 30 and 43, were charged Friday for “association with terrorist criminals” over the March 18 attack and are being held in custody, the source said.

The younger one was also charged with arms possession related to a terror plot. They are both from the Paris area and lived close to the assailant, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, according to a preliminary investigation.

Ben Belgacem, 39, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he attacked the capital’s second busiest airport, according to judicial sources.

Ben Belgacem, born in France to Tunisian parents, grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly’s southern terminal and put a gun to her head and seized her rifle, saying he wanted to “die for Allah.”

His father insisted his son — who had spent time in prison for armed robbery and drug-dealing — was not an extremist.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/two-charged-over-arms-supply-to-french-airport-attacker/

Flynn, Turkish officials talked about removal of Erdogan foe from US, former CIA boss says

Retired Army Lt. Mike Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, met last summer with top Turkish officials to discuss removing the cleric Turkey blamed for last year’s failed coup and delivering him to Ankara, a former Central Intelligence Agency director told The Wall Street Journal.

James Woolsey said the meeting occurred in September inside the Essex House hotel in New York. Woolsey told the paper that he arrived in the middle of the conversation, but said the basic idea was a “covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” The group as reportedly refering to Fethullah Gulen.

Woolsey told the paper he found the conversation startling and possibly illegal. But he did not say anything because there were no specifics. Woolsey said he notified Vice President Biden through a mutual friend.

People briefed on the meeting told The Journal that the ideas were raised hypothetically. Woolsey, who served under President Clinton, told The Journal that the conversation “seemed to be naïve.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/24/flynn-turkish-officials-talked-about-removal-erdogan-foe-from-us-former-cia-boss-says.html

Putin meets French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at Kremlin

Putin meets with Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin

  • French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has sought closer ties with Russia
  • Vladimir Putin spokesman: Russia isn’t trying to influence upcoming French election

(CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the “great importance” of ties between his country and France as he met French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin on Friday, Russian state-run news agency Tass reported.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that Russia was not seeking to influence the upcoming French election but had the right to communicate with French politicians.

Russia had no intention of “interfering in anyone’s internal business or electoral processes,” Peskov said.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/24/europe/putin-le-pen-kremlin/

Russia denies supplying Taliban after Scaparrotti claim

Moscow rejects NATO commander’s remark that it is ‘perhaps’ aiding the Taliban in fighting against US and allied forces.

Russia’s foreign ministry has dismissed a US general’s allegations that it may be supplying Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as “fabrications”.

Curtis Scaparrotti, the top US general in Europe, said on Thursday that he had witnessed Russia’s influence grow in many regions, including in Afghanistan.

In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Scaparrotti, who is NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, said Moscow was “perhaps” supplying the Taliban in fighting against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/russia-denies-supplying-taliban-scaparrotti-claim-170324173505618.html

Iran TARGETS weapons at US warships that scramble deadly helicopters in FIERCE stand-off

ALARM are ringing in Washington after American warships were “harassed” by “aggressive” Iranian forces – who trained their weapons against the vessels.

The incident was condemned by US security forces who said Iran had been acting increasingly provocatively and unpredictably in recent months.Despite being in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, the American ships were aggressively approached by members of the Iranian Navy on Tuesday.

Iranian forces trained their weapons on the US flotilla, which was made up of five ships and included the huge aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/783548/iran-usa-navy-military-warships-strait-of-hormuz

US-backed Syrian fighters reach IS-held dam in north Syria

U.S.-backed Syrian fighters reached a major dam held by the Islamic State group in northern Syria Friday as Syria’s U.N. ambassador said hundreds of American personnel are “invading my country,” insisting that any effort to liberate the city of Raqqa — the de facto capital of the Islamic State group — should be done in coordination with the Damascus government.

The push toward the Tishrin Dam came three days after U.S. aircraft ferried Syrian Kurdish fighters and allies behind IS lines to spearhead a major ground assault on the IS-held town of Tabqa where the dam is located. Tabqa is west of the city of Raqqa.

IS has been pounded in Syria in recent months with attacks against the extremists from three fronts, the U.S.-backed fighters, Turkish troops and their allies near the border with Turkey, and government forces in the northern province of Aleppo.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said government forces captured late Friday the town of Deir Hafer, the last IS stronghold in Aleppo province, after troops stormed the town under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/french-defense-chief-battle-syrias-raqqa-days-46344501

Muqtada al-Sadr threatens to boycott Iraq elections

Powerful Shia leader demands changes to electoral law at Baghdad demonstration attended by thousands of supporters.

Influential religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr has told thousands of supporters in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, that he will boycott upcoming elections unless the country’s electoral law is changed.

Supporters of the Shia cleric have repeatedly rallied for changes to the law and the country’s electoral committee, which is dominated by affiliates of powerful political parties.

If “the law remains … this means that we will order a boycott of the elections,” Sadr said in remarks televised at Friday’s demonstration in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Iraq is set to hold holding provincial elections later this year, and parliamentary elections in 2018.

Sadr, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, did not specify the specific changes he wants to take place, but the current law has been criticised as being biased towards large political parties over smaller ones.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/muqtada-al-sadr-threatens-boycott-iraq-elections-170324152533689.html

Central Congo militia decapitates 40 police officers in ambush

Militia fighters in central Democratic Republic of Congo decapitated about 40 police officers in an ambush, local officials said on Saturday, the deadliest attack on security forces since an insurrection in the region began last August.

The Kamuina Nsapu militants attacked the police on Friday as they drove from Tshikapa to Kananga. The militia members stole arms and vehicles, Francois Kalamba, speaker of the Kasai provincial assembly, told Reuters.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-violence-idUSKBN16W0HN

 

Turkey threatens again to take actions regarding Cyprus’ natural gas

Turkey has condemned Cyprus’ research for natural gas in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

“These contacts clearly demonstrate yet again how the Greek Cypriot Administration disregards, in its unilateral pursuit of hydrocarbon-related activities, the inalienable rights on natural resources of the Turkish Cypriot people, the co-owners of the Island,” the statement reads, about meetings President Nicos Anastasiades had with natural gas companies in the US on March 22.

Ankara has also condemned the fact contracts were signed in the Republic of Cyprus for exploration of the EEZ, and that the Greek Cypriot side “is still not able to grasp the win-win-based potential for economic cooperation that can ensue on the Island and in the Eastern Mediterranean from a comprehensive settlement, towards which the Turkish Cypriot side and turkey have been expending intensive efforts.”

http://www.tornosnews.gr/en/tourism-businesses/new-investments/24162-turkey-threatens-again-to-take-actions-regarding-cyprus%E2%80%99-natural-gas.html

Cyber Firm Rewrites Part of Disputed Russian Hacking Report

U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.

In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian separatists.

VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has stated that the combat losses and hacking never happened.

CrowdStrike was first to link hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors last year, but some cybersecurity experts have questioned its evidence. The company has come under fire from some Republicans who say charges of Kremlin meddling in the election are overblown.

After CrowdStrike released its Ukraine report, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch claimed it provided added evidence of Russian election interference. In both hacks, he said, the company found malware used by “Fancy Bear,” a group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

http://www.newdelhitimes.com/cyber-firm-rewrites-part-of-disputed-russian-hacking-report123/

Serbia says no to NATO on alliance’s airstrikes anniversary

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s prime minister pledged on Friday that the Balkan country will never join NATO or any other military alliance as Serbia marked the 18th anniversary of the start of NATO airstrikes that stopped its crackdown in Kosovo.

Aleksandar Vucic spoke at a ceremony near a railway bridge in southern Serbia where the Western military alliance’s missiles struck a passenger train, killing at least 28 people and injuring dozens.

“We will never be part of the alliance which killed our children, nor of any other alliance,” Vucic said. “They wanted to destroy and humiliate small Serbia and kill its children.”

Anti-NATO sentiments run high in Serbia since the 78-day bombing in 1999 over a bloody crackdown by Serbian forces against Kosovo Albanian separatists. Serbian officials claim that more than 2,000 people were killed in the airstrikes while independent estimates put that figure at about 800, mostly soldiers and police.

Some 10,000 people died and 1,660 are still missing from the 1998-1999 Kosovo war that ended with the NATO intervention and the withdrawal of Serbian troops from its former, majority ethnic Albanian-populated province. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Serbia doesn’t recognize.

Although it is a member of a NATO outreach program and is formally seeking EU membership, Serbia has lately been boosting its military cooperation with Russia, which has agreed to deliver fighter jets, tanks and anti-aircraft systems.

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/serbia-says-no-to-nato-on-alliances-airstrikes-anniversary

N. Korea invents ‘quantum code communication’ tech: Naenara

Quantum communication system would make hacking or eavesdropping more difficult

North Korea claims it has invented a system for secure quantum-cryptographic communications, according to a report from the state-run Naenara news outlet published on Friday.

Quantum cryptography leverages the intrinsic properties of quantum theory to secure communications against outside interference or hacking.

“The scientists of Kim Il Sung University have succeeded in developing a quantum code communications technology, which makes it possible to open up a bright prospect for blocking various kinds of hacking and wiretapping from their sources by taking hold of its core technologies,” the Naenara report claims.

The article adds that DPRK scientists have solved “all the problems” associated with the technology, having designed bespoke circuits, and go on to say they can securely encode “all communications concerning images, sound and documents.”

“I’m guessing they are talking about quantum key distribution.  These systems are used to establish the cryptographic keys between two parties,” Dr Matthew Rose-Clarke, former Ph.D. researcher at CERN told NK News.

https://www.nknews.org/2017/03/n-korea-invents-quantum-code-communication-tech-naenara/

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March 19, 2017

NSA DOCUMENTS PROVE SURVEILLANCE OF DONALD TRUMP & HIS FAMILY

Bombshell discovery shows targets of NSA’s “Project Dragnet”


Michael Zullo, formerly the commander and chief investigator of the Cold Case Posse (CCP), a special investigative group created in 2006 in the office of Joseph M. Arpaio, formerly the sheriff in Maricopa County, an Arizona State Certified Law Enforcement Agency, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, provided sections of the database to Infowars.com.

The electronic surveillance database, provided to Zullo by a whistleblower in 2013, was apparently created by the NSA as part of the NSA’s illegal and unconstitutional Project Dragnet electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens, first revealed by news reports published in 2005, as further documented by the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.

Sheriff Arpaio and Chief Investigator Zullo have identified dozens of entries at various addresses, including both Trump Tower in New York City and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, under which Donald Trump was apparently under NSA electronic surveillance from 2004, during President George W. Bush’s term of office, through 2009, the first year of President Obama’s presidency.

Electronic surveillance of Donald Trump was listed in the database for the following companies, locations, and dates:

Trump International
1 Central Park, NYC, NY
2008

Trump World Tower
845 United Nations Plaza, NYC, NY
No Date

Trump Tower SAL
108 Central Park, NYC, NY
2007

Trump Palace Co
200 E. 69th Street A, NYC, NY
2008

Trump Entertainment
725 Fifth Ave. FL, NYC, NY
2007

Trump Organization
725 Fifth Ave. BSM, NYC, NY
2009

Trump Palace
725 Fifth Ave., NYC, NY
2004

Mar-a-Lago Club
1100 S. Ocean BL, Palm Beach, FL
2006

Trump International
401 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL
2008

Douglass Limousine
239 Nassau St., Princeton, NJ
2008

Trump International
3505 Summit BLV, West Palm Beach, FL
2004

Flights INC
P.O. Box 196, Hamilton MA
2004

Trump International
1 Central Park, NYC, NY
2008

Trump Hotels
Huron Ave., Atlantic City, NJ
No Date

Trump National
339 Pine Rd, Briarcliff, NY
No Date

Trump Plaza & C
2500 Pacific Ave, Atlantic City, NJ
2008

Trump Palace Co.
200 E. 69th St., NYC, NY
2008

Seven Springs
66 Oregon Rd, Mount Kisco, NY
2006-2008

While attempts have been made to deny such domestic surveillance, reports from the New York Times in 2014 showed the Central Intelligence Agency had done just that by spying on a senate panel investigating the agency’s use of “enhanced interrogation.”

https://www.infowars.com/nsa-documents-prove-surveillance-on-donald-trump-and-alex-jones/

Bomb scare at the White House: Man drives to the gates and tells security he has explosives in his car – the second security alert at the president’s home in one day

  • A person claiming to have a bomb  pulled up to the White House
  • They were taken into custody and security at the White House was upgraded
  • It is not clear if they actually had an explosive device  

A driver reportedly pulled up to the White House and claimed to have a bomb in their car early Sunday.

It is not clear if there was an actual explosive device in the vehicle. The driver was taken into custody and security was upgraded at the White House according to CNN.

Streets around the residence were also closed.

Saturday, a person jumped over a bike rack in a buffer zone in front of the White House on Saturday while President Trump was in Florida, but was not able to make it over the fence into the grounds.

Two Secret Service agents tackled the individual, who was arrested and questioned.

Jonathan Tuan-Anh Tran, 26, who had two cans of mace and said he had an appointment with his ‘friend’ President Donald Trump, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for entering the grounds without permission.

The individual managed to climb over an outer perimeter fence, scale a vehicle gate and hop another fence near the southeast corner of the White House’s East Wing before he was captured after his 16 minute-plus jaunt, according to the Secret Service statement.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4328222/Driver-pulls-White-House-claiming-bomb.html#ixzz4bm75w357

Pyongyang declares ‘rebirth of rocket industry’ after new engine test

North Korea has performed a ground test of a “new-type” engine, designed to boost country’s “capability in the field of outer space.” However, in contrast to the usual saber-rattling, Pyongyang did not use the opportunity to tout the potential military use of the tech.

Kim Jong-un attended the test of the “new-type high-thrust engine” at the Sohae satellite-launching site early on Sunday, state KCNA news agency reported. The engine would give the country an opportunity to “consolidate the scientific and technological foundation to match the world-level satellite delivery capability in the field of outer space development,” KCNA said, citing country’s leader.

The specifications and type of the engine remain a mystery, but the supreme leader was so satisfied with the test that he gave lead developers and scientists a hug and a photo session, and emphasized that the “world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries.”

Pyongyang claimed that the engine was created solely for space exploration and satellite launches and did not mention any of the usual militaristic rhetoric, which usually accompanies such tests.

The new tests comes amid heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Denouncing annual US-led drills with Seoul last week, North Korea launched four missiles in a simulated attack on US facilities in the region, and vowed “merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater” if the allies violate its “sovereignty and dignity even a bit.”

https://www.rt.com/news/381277-north-korea-engine-test/

No evidence exiled Turkish cleric Gulen behind anti-Erdogan coup – German intel

No evidence exiled Turkish cleric Gulen behind anti-Erdogan coup – German intel
There is no evidence that self-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen is behind the failed 2016 military coup in Turkey, the head of German intelligence said. Ankara claims the comments are a sign of Berlin backing the Gulen movement.

Bruno Kahl, the head of German intelligence (BND), told Der Spiegel the military coup of July 2016 “was probably a welcome pretext” for the Turkish government to unleash a sweeping crackdown on thousands of people suspected of having connections with Fethullah Gulen – a 75-year-old opposition cleric who Ankara says was the mastermind behind the failed putsch.

Kahl stressed that there was no evidence that the Gulen movement was involved in the July plot, saying, “Turkey tried to convince us at every level, but so far they didn’t succeed.”

Likewise, he dismissed Turkey’s claims that Gulen’s movement is an Islamist or even terrorist network: “The Gulenist movement is a civic association whose aim is to provide religious and secular education.”

The chief of intelligence did, however, rule out the idea that the coup was engineered by the Turkish government itself.

“The coup attempt was not initiated by the government. Before July 15 the government had already started a big purge so parts of the military thought they should do a coup quickly before it hit them too,” Kahl said.

Shortly after the interview, which adds to the ongoing flare-up between Turkey and some European countries that banned pro-Erdogan rallies ahead of the landmark vote to expand presidential powers, a brusque response came from Ankara. Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish president’s spokesman, said the BND’s statement proves that Berlin supports the organization claimed to be behind the coup attempt.

https://www.rt.com/news/381290-bnd-gulen-erdogan-coup/

Liberman threatens to ‘destroy’ Syrian air defense systems

After Friday’s attempt by Syria to down IAF planes, defense minister says in next incident Israel will have no ‘hesitation’

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday threatened to destroy Syrian air defense systems after they fired ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes.

“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Lieberman said on Israeli public radio.

Israeli fighter jets hit several targets in Syria on Friday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the strikes targeted weapons bound for the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Syria’s military claimed it downed one of the Israeli planes and hit another as they were carrying out the predawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra that it recaptured from jihadists this month.

Jordanians inspect the remains of a Syrian missile and an Israeli Arrow interceptor that fell in Jordan on March 17, 2017 (Jordanian government/Petra)

The IDF denied that any of its planes were hit. The Syrian government has made similar claims in the past.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liberman-threatens-to-destroy-syrian-air-defense-systems/

DELTA IV LAUNCHES WGS-9 TO EXPAND DEFENSE COMMUNICATIONS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After a number of postponements, and a technical glitch at T-minus 4 minutes, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Medium+ (5,4) rocket finally got off the ground with the Department of Defense’s ninth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite (WGS-9). The after twilight launch took place at 8:18 p.m. EDT March 18 (00:18 GMT March 19), 2017, from Space Launch Complex 37.

The weather for the launch of the Delta IV Medium+ (5,4) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) was all but perfect. The only concerns Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron had was the potential of cumulus clouds; however, those never materialized.

Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander and mission Launch Decision Authority, said that this was the fourth major launch operation on the Eastern Range and the second successful launch in just two-and-a-half days, culminating many long hours of hard work by the entire mission team.

“Thanks to the amazing commitment, focus on the mission, and teamwork the men and women of the 45th Space Wing share with our mission partners at SMC and ULA, we successfully launched the next satellite in the WGS constellation,” he said. “This mission demonstrates the Air Force’s commitment to deliver secure and reliable satellite communications around the globe to U.S. forces and our allies. It also once again showcases why the 45th Space Wing is the ‘World’s Premiere Gateway to Space.’”

The launch was postponed several times for various reasons including, on March 4, when the liftoff date for WGS-9 was changed to March 14 after the ULA team discovered an issue with the Delta IV first stage booster during standard prelaunch inspections. Later, on M

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/ula/delta-iv-launches-wgs-9-expand-defense-communications/#ALrLQciZcdbtYliG.99

So much for the Russian threat: Putin slashes defense spending while Trump plans massive buildup

Despite Western paranoia, Russia’s defense budget is about one-tenth of America’s — with huge cutbacks ahead

Russia, led by supervillain Vladimir Putin, intent on the domination and destruction of the Western world, has just slashed its defense budget — and no one really noticed.

Figures from the Russian Federal Treasury show that the defense budget has been cut by 25.5 percent for 2017, falling from 3.8 trillion rubles to 2.8 trillion rubles. IHS Jane’s, one of the most authoritative sources on defense news, said the move represents “the largest cut to military expenditure in the country since the early 1990s.”

Let’s put this in context before we move on: The cuts come after significant military budget increases in recent years (averaging about 19.8 percent a year since 2011) as Putin sought to revamp the Russian military and replace a massive chunk of Soviet-era hardware by 2020.

There’s also some quibbling going on over the figures used by Jane’s. Some experts believe the cut is more like 7 percent when the impact of debt repayment to defense industry firms is taken into account.

Either way, the Russian defense budget is being cut — and not insignificantly — at a time when we’re being told Moscow is a grave threat to peace-loving people everywhere. There are a number of reasons for the cuts, the most obvious being that the Russian economy has been put under pressure due to Western sanctions and reduced oil and gas prices. So no, the cuts don’t come from the goodness of Putin’s heart — but it’s clear that he doesn’t see Russia as being on course for major military conflict with the West in the immediate future.

http://www.salon.com/2017/03/19/so-much-for-the-russian-threat-putin-slashes-defense-spending-while-trump-plans-massive-buildup/

 

South Africa wants to sell missiles to Iran

South Africa has applied to the United Nations Security Council to sell missiles worth R1.5 billion to Iran.

The Rapport newspaper reported that this will be the biggest deal yet for Denel’s Umkhonto surface-to-air missile system.

The Umkhonto vertical launch surface-to-air missile was developed for the SA Navy’s Meko A200 class frigates, and has been in service since 2001.

The missile is high-velocity and infrared homing, providing defence against attacks from missiles and aircraft.

Although it is a surface-to-air missile, it is also capable of taking out stationary surface targets.

The Umkhonto was designed with a 23kg warhead for high-kill probability, unlike other missile systems in its class.

This news follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in December 2016 between Iran and South Africa to boost defence and military cooperation.

https://mybroadband.co.za/news/government/203318-south-africa-wants-to-sell-missiles-to-iran.html

France will cooperate with Russia for preparing Syrian peace talks in Geneva

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:18 A.M.) – Russian and French Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Jean-Marc Ayrault have agreed to cooperate in preparing the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday according to TASS.

“The ministers have agreed that Russian and French representatives will be cooperating to prepare and hold a next round of intra-Syrian talks, due to begin in Geneva on March 23, 2017,” the ministry said in a statement.

Although Lavrov expressed his satisfaction with negotiations in Astana, he did highlight that some militant groups refusing to negotiator only hampered a peaceful solution.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/france-will-cooperate-russia-preparing-syrian-peace-talks-geneva/

Leonardo CEO Moretti out, replaced by Italian banking exec

March 18, 2017 (Photo Credit: Dino Panato/Getty Images)
The Italian government on Saturday named a veteran Italian banker, Alessandro Profumo, to run state controlled defense group Leonardo, replacing CEO Mauro Moretti who had finished his three year mandate.

Genoa-born Profumo, 60, took the helm at Italian banking giant Unicredit in 1998, steering it to international growth through acquisitions and oversaw a leap in staff numbers from 15,000 to over 162,000 in over 20 countries before leaving in 2010.

Despite his business credentials, the appointment of a financial manager with no defense experience provoked rumors in Italy on Saturday that the government had handpicked Profumo to handle the sell off of the firm, but a government spokesman told Defense News the reports were “totally false.”

“Profumo has international experience and a global culture and Leonardo needs to be international,” said the spokesman, who declined to be named. “With Profumo we will reinforce the international business development of Leonardo.”

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/leonardo-ceo-moretti-out-replaced-by-italian-banking-exec

 

 

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March 18, 2017

‘Radicalised Muslim’ is shot dead at Paris Orly airport after snatching a soldier’s gun and shooting at three police officers from a car as Kate and William meet Bataclan and Nice terror victims

  • Convicted criminal, 39, was shot dead at the airport’s south terminal 
  • Less than two hours earlier he had shot at three police officers during a routine stop-and-search
  • Authorities believe he had been radicalised in prison, and his father and brother had been arrested 
  • Witnesses recounted hearing ‘four or five’ shots, and the airport was evacuated
  • It comes at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the French capital 

A convicted criminal with links to radical Islam has been shot dead at Paris Orly airport after trying to wrestle a soldier’s gun from her and fleeing into a McDonald’s.

Less than two hours earlier he had shot a female police officer in the head in a northern Paris suburb during a routine stop-and-search.

The man’s father and brother have been taken into custody, judicial sources have confirmed, and the attacks are being investigated by France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor.

After the police shooting in the suburb of Stains, at around 6.55am, the 39-year-old fled in a Renault Clio, which was found abandoned 11 miles away.

He then hijacked a woman’s Citroen Picasso at gunpoint, and this second car was later found parked at the airport.

Today’s incidents come as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Paris, where they have met with victims of terrorism.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4326276/Paris-Orly-airport-evacuated-shooting.html#ixzz4bgDTftf4

US admits Syria airstrike that killed 46 but denies targeting mosque

  • Rescue workers search for survivors amid rubble into the night
  • US military: ‘We are going to look into any allegations of civilian casualties’

 

The US has said it carried out an airstrike in Syria against an al-Qaida meeting but denied deliberately targeting a mosque where 46 people were reportedly killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the dead were civilians in the Thursday evening raid on the village of Al-Jineh, in the northern province of Aleppo.

The US has been bombing jihadists in war-torn Syria as part of an international coalition since 2014, with hundreds of civilians unintentionally killed in the country and in neighbouring Iraq.

“We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target – which was where the meeting took place – is about 50ft (15 metres) from a mosque that is still standing,” said Col John J Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command.

According to a Centcom statement: “US forces conducted an air strike on an Al-Qaeda in Syria meeting location March 16 in Idlib, Syria, killing several terrorists.”

The Centcom spokesman later clarified that the precise location of the strike was unclear – but that it was the same one widely reported to have hit the village mosque in Al-Jineh, in Aleppo province.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/syria-mosque-airstrike-kills-dozens-of-civilians-near-aleppo

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

Malicious entity could be tracking phones of domestic, foreign officials

Adam Kredo

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.

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

Netanyahu: Syria raids targeted ‘advanced’ Hezbollah arms

After unprecedented missile clash, PM says Israel will continue to operate against weapons transfers from Assad regime to Shiite terror group

AFP — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday the Israeli strikes on several targets in Syria earlier that day targeted weapons bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and that the Jewish State would do the same again if necessary.

The Israeli airstrike prompted retaliatory missile launches, in the most serious incident between Syria and the Jewish state since the Syrian civil war began six years ago.

Syria’s military said it had downed an Israeli plane and hit another as they were carrying out pre-dawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra that it recaptured from jihadists this month.

The Israeli military denied that any planes had been hit. The Syrian government has made similar unfounded claims in the past.

“The safety of Israeli civilians or the Israeli air force aircraft was at no point compromised,” Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner told AFP.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-syria-raids-targeted-advanced-hezbollah-arms/

Russia summons Israeli envoy following IDF strikes in Syria

(JTA) — Russia summoned its ambassador to Israel for clarifications following Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

Russia, which backs Syria’s embattled president, Bashar Assad, summoned its envoy, Gary Koren, on Friday less than 24 hours after the Israeli military action on Thursday night, according to The Times of Israel.

In a rare statement, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to having carried out aerial strikes in Syria and intercepted missiles launched at its aircraft from the ground.

No Israelis were hurt during the strikes Thursday night or from the anti-aircraft fire, according to a statement by the IDF spokesman.

Israel is believed to have carried out several attacks on Syrian soil in recent years, but usually refrains from confirming or denying reports on its alleged actions there.

According to the nrg news site, the strikes were against targets affiliated with Hezbollah, possibly on a weapons shipment to the Shiite terrorist group, which is based in Lebanon but is fighting in Syria alongside Assad’s forces against rebels and Sunni militants.

Israeli “aircrafts targeted several targets in Syria. Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and IDF Aerial Defense Systems intercepted one of the missiles. At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised,” the IDF spokesman wrote.

The missiles were launched at the airplanes minutes after they had left Syrian airspace, according to nrg. Debris from the missiles, which were intercepted by the Arrow defense system over Jordan, landed on residential homes in the west of that country near Inba and Irbid.

http://www.jta.org/2017/03/17/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/russia-summons-israeli-envoy-following-idf-strikes-in-syria

Russia announces deepest defence budget cuts since 1990s

Figures released by the Russian Federal Treasury have confirmed that Russia’s defence budget has been cut by 25.5% for 2017, falling from RUB3.8 trillion (USD65.4 billion) to RUB2.8 trillion.

The reduction represents the largest cut to military expenditure in the country since the early 1990s.

The reduction follows an extended period of large increases to Russian defence spending with growth having achieved an average rate of 19.8% a year since 2011 in nominal terms. Despite the cut, the 2017 budget will remain about 14.4% higher than the level of defence spending seen in 2014 in nominal terms.

The Russian government initially outlined plans to reduce defence expenditure in the draft of the three year budget for 2017 to 2019 released in October 2016.

http://www.janes.com/article/68766/russia-announces-deepest-defence-budget-cuts-since-1990s

 

Analysis What Role Did Russia Play in the Israel-Syria Missile Clash?
Syria’s missile fire at Israeli warplanes may indicate that Assad and his Russian protectors are not fully coordinated.

Anshel Pfeffer Mar 18, 2017 1:00 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow, Russia on March 9, 2017. Pavel Golovkin, AP

After Israeli attack in Syria: Russia summons Israel’s envoy for clarifications
Israeli Air Force strikes targets in Syria; Assad forces threaten ‘direct’ retaliation
Analysis Putin is the Middle East’s new boss

Analysis Israel-Syria clash: With missile fire, Assad is trying to change the rules of the game

Over the six years of the Syrian war, dozens of airstrikes carried out against Hezbollah targets there have been ascribed to Israel. Until now the government has refused to acknowledge or deny them. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have stated publicly that Israel does attack in Syria to defend its strategic interests – in other words, preventing Hezbollah obtaining “balance-breaking” weapons for its arsenal in Lebanon. The attacks that took place early Friday were the first to be confirmed officially by the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson. While it remains unclear what the target or targets were – was it a Hezbollah convoy, a weapons factory or storage, and whether a senior Hezbollah commander was killed in the airstrike as some reports in the Arab media have claimed – a series of important questions arise from the little information that has been published.

With missile fire, Assad is trying to change the rules of the game | Analysis

First, why has Israel changed its policy and suddenly acknowledged an attack? Syria’s air-defense forces launched a long-range missile in an attempt to shoot down Israel’s fighter-jets. The missile was fired much too late to endanger the planes, but could have fallen on civilian areas within Israel and was therefore intercepted by an Arrow 2 missile. The loud explosion which was heard as far as Jerusalem and the missile parts that fell in Jordan meant that some explanation had to be given. But a statement on the missile intercept would have been sufficient. The decision to take responsibility for the attacks as well would have been made by the prime minister and may have been made for other reasons.

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.777965

How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried)

During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron.

The Soviet Union is gone, and so is Syria as a unified nation. But Russia is back, and it’s building up Tartus again as a naval base that can handle Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships.

Already, Israel says the Tartus base is affecting its naval operations. U.S. and NATO operations could be next.

Under the forty-nine-year agreement inked late last year by Russia and Syria, “the maximum number of the Russian warships allowed at the Russian naval facility at one time is 11, including nuclear-powered warships, providing that nuclear and ecological security rules are observed,” according to Russia’s RT news site. Russia will also be allowed to expand port facilities to accommodate the vessels.

The specification allowing nuclear-powered warships means that Russia wants to be able to base in Syria large surface ships, namely Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, as well as nuclear submarines.

In addition, the treaty allows “Russia is allowed to bring in and out any kind of ‘weaponry, ammunition, devices and materials’ to provide security for the facility staff, crew, and their families throughout the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic ‘without any duties or levies,’” according to RT.

Expansion of the port will take about five years, according to an anonymous source cited in Russia’s Sputnik News. “The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility’s infrastructure,” Sputnik News reported. “According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility’s ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.”Sputnik News also listed other provisions of the agreement. These include:

• Russia will be responsible for sea and air security of the base, while Syria handles the land defenses.

• Russia can deploy “temporary mobile outposts” beyond the base, as long as they coordinate them with the Syrians.

• Russia can renovate the base at will, including underwater construction, and build offshore platforms.

• Upon Syrian request, Russia will send specialists to service Syrian warships, conduct search and rescue in Syrian waters, and organize the defense of Tartus.

• Syria agrees not to “make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus’ jurisdiction.”

• “Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base.”

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-russia-turning-syria-major-naval-base-nuclear-warships-19813

Iran Challenges Need to Ship Out Excess Material Under Nuclear Deal

By Francois Murphy and Shadia Nasralla

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has challenged the need for it to ship sensitive material abroad if its stock exceeds a limit set by its nuclear deal with major powers.

The challenge raises the prospect of a confrontation with the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump because diplomats say Iran is only months away from reaching that cap.

The 2015 deal restricts Iran’s atomic activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against Tehran. One restriction is on its stock of heavy water, a moderator used in a type of reactor that can produce plutonium, like an unfinished one at Arak that had its core removed under the accord.

Iran has already exceeded the 130-tonne limit on its heavy water stock twice. The latest standoff with Washington over the issue was only defused in December when Iran shipped the excess amount to Oman, where the heavy water is being stored until a buyer can be found.

In a letter to the U.N. nuclear watchdog circulated to member states on Thursday and posted on the agency’s website, however, Iran argued that the deal does not require it to ship excess heavy water out of the country.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-03-17/iran-challenges-need-to-ship-out-excess-material-under-nuclear-deal

French Oil Giant Seeks 50% Stake In Iran’s $4B South Pars

Total signed a preliminary deal for the project last year, and today stated its intentions in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The move makes Total the first Western supermajor to sign a deal with Iran on energy following the easing of sanctions.

According to Total’s SEC filing, the company would finance 50.1 percent of the South Pars 11 project, which requires a total investment of US$4 billion.

If this deal goes through, Total would be the operator of the project, while China’s CNPC would hold a 30-percent interest through a subsidiary, while Iran’s Petropars would hold 19.9 percent.

A final investment decision is expected from Total this summer, while Iran is expected to finalize contracts in April, according to Reuters.

It gets tricky, though, with the possibility that the new regime at the White House may not renew sanctions waivers.

The Persian Gulf South Pars field will begin production by the end of the fiscal year, according to Iranian officials. The first stage of production will see output of 35,000 barrels per day, while the second stage will increase to 100,000 bpd.

http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/French-Oil-Giant-Seeks-50-Stake-In-Irans-4B-South-Pars.html

US places Bahrainis backed by Iran on terrorist list, imposes sanctions

The US government has imposed sanctions on two men from Bahrain and has placed them on a terrorist list on Friday.

The US government has imposed sanctions on two men from Bahrain and has placed them on a terrorist list on Friday.

The two, Ahmad Hassan Yousuf and Mortada Majid Ramadan Alawi, have been placed by the US Treasury Department on the list of economic sanctions and banned financial dealings with them.

The US state department said in a statement that the two have been placed on the terrorist list in accordance with a previous executive order for those who pose threats to US interests.

The US foreign ministry explained that the decision to place the two on the list came “after the escalation of rebel attacks in Bahrain, where Iran has provided arms, funding and training the rebels.”

It added that this was “a further step in the ongoing effort to forcefully confront Iran’s activities that seek to destabilize the region and promote activities relating to terrorism.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/18/US-places-Bahrainis-backed-by-Iran-on-terrorist-list-imposes-sanctions.html

Turkish opposition TV starts broadcasts from Germany

A Turkish opposition television channel has started broadcasting from Germany. The channel hopes to highlight anti-democratic practices in Turkey.

Türkei Istanbul Demonstranten protestieren gegen Verhaftung von Reportern ohne Grenzen (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Suna)Protesters in Turkey have called for the release of jailed journalists

 

A group of Turkish opposition journalists has started television broadcasts from the German city of Cologne in an effort to provide independent and objective news in Turkey.

Arti TV, Turkish for Plus TV, went live on Friday evening with the slogan “for a free and independent media and a democratic Turkey.”

The channel brings together several prominent opposition journalists, academics and politicians.

Among those at the station are journalists who lost their jobs and fled to Germany amid a crackdown on media under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 100 journalists in Turkey are in prison, around 150 media outlets have been shut and nearly 3,000 journalists have lost their jobs in a sweeping crackdown on freedom of speech in the wake of last July’s failed coup attempt. Germany’s attention has recently focused on German journalist Denis Yucel, who is among the reporters imprisoned in Turkey.

The immediate goal of the opposition broadcaster is to prevent a referendum from passing next month. Voters will decide on a set of constitutional changes designed to dramatically expand Erdogan’s powers.

Arti TV is available online and via satellite.

http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-opposition-tv-starts-broadcasts-from-germany/a-38004868

Montenegro accession to NATO: It is McConnell’s move

Former minister of foreign affairs and the first Montenegrin ambassador to the USA Miodrag Vlahovic told Pobjeda it was now up to the leader of the Senate majority, Senator Mitch McConnell, to include the discussion on Montenegrin protocol on the Senate’s agenda, as soon as next week.

Pobjeda’s Washington-based source agrees with him and says that McConnell is the only one who has the right to put the accession protocol on the agenda of the Senate without prior consent from other senators.

Thus, the majority leader in the Senate can do it directly and the adoption would then take the votes of a two-third Senate majority.

On Wednesday, the Republican senator John McCain called on colleagues in the Senate to consider and unanimously vote on the protocol, but the senator Rand Paul objected that and left the meeting without explanation.

The surprise move has caused sharp criticism of Senator McCain and his colleagues Democrats Ben Cardin and Jeanne Shaheen. McCain has even said that the senator Paul “is now working for Vladimir Putin”.

Absolute US support

Vlahovic believes that “the statements of senators McCain, Cardin and Shaheen confirmed that there was almost absolute support for Montenegrin accession, and that there is a deep and detailed understanding of the Montenegro’s position and the importance of the enlargement, development and strengthening of NATO had for the United States in the context of relations in Europe and, in particular, to Russia”.

Montenegro accession to NATO: It is McConnell’s move

Trump says Germany owes ‘vast sums’ to NATO

President Donald Trump says Germany owes “vast sums of money” to NATO and the U.S. “must be paid more” for providing defense.

In a tweet from his Florida resort, where he is spending the weekend, Trump wrote that he had a “GREAT” meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite reports to the contrary.

But he reiterated his stance that Germany needs to meet its end of the bargain if it is to continue benefiting from the military alliance.

Trump wrote, “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

He added, “Nevertheless, Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/18/trump-says-germany-owes-vast-sums-to-nato.html

 

Russian company that paid Flynn deemed ‘unsuitable’ by Pentagon

 

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March 11, 2017

Erdoğan brands Dutch ‘Nazi remnants’ for barring Turkish MP

Rotterdam officials withdraw permission for foreign minister to land in city amid row over cancelled rally

The Turkish president has branded the Netherlands “Nazi remnants” and “fascists” after one of his ministers was barred from entering the country in an escalating row over a cancelled rally in Rotterdam.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his comments on Saturday after the Dutch government withdrew permission for his foreign minister to land there for a planned visit.

Rotterdam city authorities withdrew permission on Friday for Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to attend a meeting of the Turkish community to rally support for Erdoğan’s plans to extend his powers. The plans are to be voted on in a referendum in Turkey next month.

Several other European cities have banned Turkish officials from attending such meetings aimed at expats who are allowed to vote in the referendum.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/11/erdogan-brands-dutch-nazi-remnants-for-barring-turkish-mp

Plot to hit German shopping centre with multiple suicide bombers is foiled after police are tipped off about ‘imminent attack’

  • Police in Essen, Germany, have olosed a shopping centre after reports of an imminent suicide attack 
  • The Limbecker Platz shopping center is one of the largest in Germany with around 200 shops 
  • About a hundred officers positioned themselves around the compound to make sure no-one could enter
  • Several officers scoured the inside of the building to bring out early morning cleaning staff 
  • This incident comes just a day after seven people were injured in an attack in Dusseldorf 

Police in the German city of Essen have ordered a shopping centre to remain closed on Saturday after a tip by security services of ‘concrete indications about a possible attack’.

It was reported by German newspaper Bild that multiple suicide bombers were plotting to attack the Limbecker Platz centre with explosives.

‘The current state of our investigations points to the threat being exclusively at the shopping centre,’ said the police in a statement.

7http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4303652/Police-close-German-shopping-centre-possible-attack.html#ixzz4b1YClFtG

Twin bombings kill at least 46 in Damascus Old City

Most of the victims were Shiite Iraqis visiting holy sites in the area; over 100 reported wounded

DAMASCUS, Syria (AFP) — Twin bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims on Saturday killed 46 people in Damascus, most of them Iraqis, a monitoring group said, in one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital.

There have been periodic bomb attacks in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.

A roadside bomb detonated as a bus passed and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Bab al-Saghir area, which houses several Shiite mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“There are also dozens of people wounded, some of them in a serious condition,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

State television said there were 40 dead and 120 wounded after “terrorists detonated two bombs.”

It broadcast footage of several white buses with their windows shattered, some of them heavily charred.

Shoes, glasses and wheelchairs laid scattered on the ground covered in blood.

Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar said the attack targeted “pilgrims of various Arab nationalities.”

“The sole aim was to kill,” he said.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said around 40 of its nationals were among the dead and 120 among the wounded.

There was no immediate claim for the attack.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/twin-bombings-kill-at-least-44-in-damascus-old-city/

Iran UN envoy says Israel behind assassinations of nuclear scientists

Reza Najafi accuses world of turning blind eye to Jewish state’s violations of international treaties

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nation’s atomic agency claimed that “Israel-hired terrorists” were behind the assassinations of several nuclear scientists in recent years.

Speaking with the IAEA Board of Governors, Reza Najafi on Thursday also criticized Israel for not adhering to international nuclear treaties, and the international community for ignoring it.

“While nuclear scientists across the entire Middle East have been assassinated by Israeli-hired terrorists, the regime’s nuclear experts are allowed access to some countries’ nuclear facilities,” he said, according to reports in Iranian media.

“Unfortunately, the Zionist Regime has ignored the rightful requests of the international community in the last years, and having the blind support of some western countries and with infringing all international laws and regulations, has pushed its dangerous military nuclear program forward.”

At least 4 Iranian scientists were assassinated between 2010-2012, and Iran has long claimed Israel’s spy agency was behind the killings as part of a campaign to sabotage its rogue nuclear program.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-un-envoy-says-israel-behind-assassinations-of-nuclear-scientists/

 

 

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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 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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March 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4276148/Police-raid-presidential-candidate-Francois-Fillon-s-home.html

Sweden to reintroduce conscription amid rising Baltic tensions

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

Thursday 2 March 2017 Last modified on Thursday 2 March 2017

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

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

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

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

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/02/sweden-reintroduce-conscription-amid-rising-baltic-tensions

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

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

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

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

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/322025-us-forces-conduct-more-than-20-airstrikes-on-al-qaeda-in-yemen

New American Spy Satellite Launches on Classified Mission

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

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

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

http://www.space.com/35874-american-spy-satellite-nrol-79-launch-success.html

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4273544/Brussels-chief-s-vision-Euro-army.html#ixzz4aAlXnzPK

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/02/iran-reportedly-poised-for-weapons-shopping-spree-after-un-ban-is-lifted.html

Iranian film hails demise of US Navy in imagined Gulf battle

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

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

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

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

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iranian-film-hails-demise-of-us-navy-in-imagined-gulf-battle/

Navy CO Fired After Ship Runs Aground in Japan

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

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

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

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/03/01/navy-co-fired-ship-runs-aground-japan.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The revelation has apparently sparked fresh fears of conflict.

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

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/donald-trump-considering-military-force-9947674

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

March 1, 2017

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

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

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

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-big-guns-are-firing-very-different-type-bullet-these-19641

Cement multinational: deals made with armed groups in Syria

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February 26, 2017

Korea to conclude land acquisition for THAAD battery this week

South Korea is expected to conclude the land acquisition for the US advanced missile defense system this week with actual deployment to be completed by late June at the earliest, the military said Sunday.

The defense ministry said administrative measures to take over the Lotte Skyhill Country Club in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, owned by local retail giant Lotte Group will be completed soon.

It said plans are already under way to start environmental impact evaluations on the site located 296 kilometers south of Seoul. An environmental impact evaluation is part of the review process for the building of a military site.

Seoul and Washington agreed in July 2016 to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense in the country to counter evolving missile and nuclear threats from North Korea. The government inked a deal in November to give Lotte state-owned land in Namyangju, just east of Seoul, in exchange for the golf course.

Sources said that the THAAD unit to be deployed in South Korea will have between four to nine truck-mounted launchers, each with eight interceptors, although the exact numbers have yet to be released. The battery will have the powerful “X-band” AN/TPY-2 radar that can detect incoming missiles at great distances.

Last year Pyongyang detonated two nuclear devices and test-fired 24 ballistic missiles and long-range rockets totally ignoring repeated warnings by the United Nations. Such provocations have fueled the need to station THAAD on South Korean soil.

Terror chief Max Hill warns risk of attacks in Britain is highest since dark days of IRA

British citizens are facing a level of threat from terrorists not seen since the IRA bombings of the Seventies, the country’s new terrorism watchdog has warned.

In his first major interview since taking the role, Max Hill said Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) was planning “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians” on a scale similar to those perpetrated by the IRA 40 years ago.

He told The Telegraph that Islamists were targeting UK cities and said there was an “enormous ongoing risk which none of us can ignore”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/25/terror-chief-max-hill-warns-risk-attacks-britain-highest-since/

Pentagon seeks to expand fight against Al Qaeda extremists in Somalia

The Pentagon wants to expand the military’s ability to battle Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, potentially putting U.S. forces closer to the fight against a stubborn extremist group that has plotted attacks against America, senior U.S. officials said.

The recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S special operations forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army in the struggle against al-Shabab militants in the fragile Horn of Africa nation, the officials said. They said the proposal would give the military greater flexibility to launch airstrikes against extremists that appear to be a threat.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/26/pentagon-seeks-to-expand-fight-against-al-qaeda-extremists-in-somalia.html

Iran begins navy drill off Strait of Hormuz as US newly wary

Iran’s navy began an annual drill Sunday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, state television reported.

The TV report quoted navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari as saying the two-day maneuver will cover an area of 772,000 square miles in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean near the strait. It showed Iranian warships and helicopters taking part in the exercise.

Nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes through the strait and it has been the scene of previous confrontations between the U.S. and Iran.

But the drill does not involve Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force the U.S. Navy often criticizes for harassing its vessels.

Iran Could Supply Turbines for Crimean Power Plants Bypassing Sanctions

Russia is going to sign a contract with Iran to supply turbines for thermal power plants in Crimea, the CEO of state corporation Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, said.

During a media briefing in Abu Dhabi, Chemezov announced that Russia plans to sign a contract with Iran for the supply of turbines for thermal power stations in Crimea.

According to him, negotiations with Iran are at an advanced stage and Rotec expects to install the turbines before the end of this year.

“We have problems with turbines after German and other European countries banned their supply to Crimea. We are now in the final stages of negotiations and we hope that, barring any additional US and European sanctions, we will be able to install these turbines before this year is out,” Chemezov said.

Even though Iran has not recognized Crimea’s reunification with Russia, it is ready to assist Moscow’s efforts to ensure an unfettered energy supply on the Black Sea peninsula.

In an interview with Sputnik Persian, Tehran-based political analyst Shoeib Bahman said that economic cooperation with Crimea could speed up the process of the international recognition of the region as part of the Russian Federation.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201702261051048334-iran-crimea-turbines/

 

Iraqi jets strike Islamic State in Syria for first time as troops advance in Mosul

Iraqi jets struck Islamic State targets inside neighboring Syria for the first time Friday, Iraq’s prime minister said while vowing to chase down militants “everywhere” as Iraqi troops opened new fronts in their battle for the city of Mosul.

The airstrikes in Bukamal, in Syria, were coordinated with Damascus and carried out through a joint intelligence-sharing and command center in Baghdad involving Syria, Iran, Iraq and Russia, according to Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for Iraq’s Defense Ministry. He said he had no information on whether the strikes also were coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition, which is conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq and providing close air support to Iraqi forces fighting the group.

The strikes came as Iraqi forces are reaching the final stages of their operation to oust the group from the northern city of Mosul, its largest remaining stronghold in Iraq.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iraqi-jets-strike-islamic-state-in-syria-for-first-time-as-troops-advance-in-mosul/2017/02/24/833a8e8a-fa96-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.e31622cf2c82

 

Russia Could Defeat the British Army ‘In an Afternoon’

February 25, 2017

Over by Teatime,” blared the headline in the British tabloid The Sun.

Budget cuts have so depleted the army that it could be destroyed by a “competent enemy” such as Russia, according to excerpts of the report published in the British press.

That ominous conclusion comes from the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research (CHACR), a British Army think tank run by the Sandhurst military academy. The report was based on a two-day conference of active-duty and retired officers.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russia-could-defeat-the-british-army-afternoon-19580

Russia’s Aerospace Forces, Naval Aviation to Get 160 Aircraft in 2017 – Colonel

© Sputnik/ Russian Defence Ministry
MILITARY & INTELLIGENCE

Russia’s Aerospace Forces and naval aviation will receive about 160 planes and helicopters, Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev announced on Sunday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia’s Aerospace Forces and naval aviation will have their air fleets boosted this year by a total of 160 planes and helicopters, Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev announced on Sunday.

“The Aerospace Forces are expected to receive around 140 planes and helicopters this year, making up a total of 160 items of new equipment if you count in those reserved for the Naval Aviation,” the chief of the Aerospace Forces told reporters.

Col. Gen. Bondarev said forces in his charge had overhauled most of their air fleet, with new equipment amounting to some 55 percent of the total.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201702261051049674-russia-aerospace-naval-aviation/

One of Russia’s Most Powerful Tanks Is Coming to the Middle East

Russia has found a buyer in the Middle East for its advanced T-90MS main battle tank. However, while the Russians have apparently signed a contract, Moscow is not disclosing which nation is buying the powerful new tank.

“A large-scale contract was signed with a Middle East country in December. Another contract on this type of military output is expected to be signed soon,” the Kremlin’s industry and trade minister Denis Manturov told the Moscow-based Tass news agency.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/one-russias-most-powerful-tanks-coming-the-middle-east-19594

Russia Building Six Kilo-class Submarines for its Pacific Fleet

By KiloThe RNS Rostov-on-Don, a Project 636.3 Varshavyanka-class submarine of the Russian Navy under construction. (Photo : Russian Navy)

Two new improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines will be laid down this year for the Russian Navy, the first of six Kilos (Russian designation: Project 636.3 Varshavyanka) to be deployed to the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy.

 

The fleet currently operates seven of the older version of the Kilo (Project 877 and Project 636). The six new Project 636.3 Varshavyanka subs will be delivered from 2019 to 2021 and will be built by the Admiralty Shipyard, one of Russia’s largest military shipbuilders located in St. Petersburg.

Russia previously built six Varshavyanka-class submarines for the Black Sea Fleet, the last of which was launched in 2015.

Defense officials say work on the project will be conducted in St. Petersberg, but did not disclose an official timeline. Russia’s TASS news agency reports the Kremlin expects the work to be completed in 2021.

The Kremlin approved the construction of six improved Kilos in September 2016. The new subs will feature improved combat effectiveness and enhanced stealth and navigation capabilities, according to the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering, the submarine’s developer.

The Kilo-class was built for anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in relatively shallow or littoral waters. Anechoic tiles are fitted on casings and fins to absorb the sound waves emitted by active sonar. This results in a reduction and distortion of the return signal, making the sub harder to detect.

http://www.chinatopix.com/articles/111884/20170225/russia-building-six-kilo-class-submarines-pacific-fleet.htm#ixzz4ZoQ2PQuk

Russia toughens stance on territorial dispute with Japan

Russia has renewed its earlier hardline stance on the territorial feud with Japan over the Kuril Islands by announcing upcoming deployment of additional troops to the disputed islands.

On February 23, still known as “Army Day” in Russia, Moscow brushed aside Japanese objections against the deployment, dismissing Tokyo’s stance as irrelevant.

Japanese protests are inappropriate and are not based in international law, said Viktor Ozerov, head of the Defense and Security Committee of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. Russia will deploy its armed forces inside its borders anywhere it is necessary, he said in televised remarks on February 23

http://www.atimes.com/russia-toughens-stance-territorial-dispute-japan/

Kurds offer land for independence in struggle to reshape Iraq

Kurdish leaders say that ‘the deal with a federal Iraq has failed’

Iraqi Kurdish leaders are considering offering territory seized by their forces in the offensive to recapture Mosul from Isis as a bargaining chip in a new push for independence from Baghdad.

As Iraqi forces continue their advance towards key Isis-defended districts in west Mosul, attention is turning to what northern Iraq will look like once the jihadi group is routed. Ministers from the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) believe that one option might be offering to Baghdad land their peshmerga forces have recaptured from Isis in return for self-rule, the pinnacle of Kurdish ambition for decades.

Speaking from his office in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital of Erbil, foreign minister Falah Mustafa said that, although the Mosul alliance of Iraqi and peshmerga troops was on course to quash Isis in Iraq’s second city, the time had arrived for Kurdistan to move forward by itself.

Germany seeks Israeli technology

The North Rhine-Westphalia Economic Development Agency (NRW) will visit Israel next month looking for new technologies.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s GDP totaled €645 billion in 2015, more than the GDP of entire countries like Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina, and making it the wealthiest state in Germany. Many companies from all over the world have recognized the opportunity, and are doing business there. Foreign investment in Westphalia totaled €190 billion in 2015, more than in any other German state. 18,000 international companies are already operating there, and the number is projected to grow in the coming years. Israeli companies and startups are now also being invited to partake of this huge bonanza.

The North Rhine-Westphalia Economic Development Agency (NRW) will visit Israel next month in order to take part in the annual Axis Tel Aviv conference, where investors, funds, and leading global companies can meet directly with Israeli startups and entrepreneurs. The NRW representatives’ goal is obvious: to encourage Israeli entrepreneurs to add Dusseldorf, Cologne, Dortmund, and Essen to their list of markets.

http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-german-market-wants-israeli-technology-1001178545

France sends backup to Niger after 16 troops killed

France is to send a contingent of counterterror forces to help the army in Niger after militants ambushed a military patrol killing 16, the defence ministry said.
The decision, announced late Saturday, was taken following a request from President Mahamadou Issoufou after Wednesday’s attack near the border with Mali.
The deadly ambush, which took place in an area some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Niamey, the capital, also wounded another 18 Niger troops, with the army blaming “terrorist elements”.

China-North Korea ties deteriorate

BEIJING — For decades, North Korea could count on China as a loyal ally despite the erratic behavior of the ruling Kim dynasty, as Beijing held its tongue despite its neighbor’s saber rattling, nuclear testing and bombastic threats.

But last week, things may have gone too far, with North Korea unleashing a tirade in which it deployed some of the most damning insults in its playbook, accusing China of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” and “styling itself as a big power.”

Chinese observers of relations between the countries were left in disbelief about how rapidly those ties have deteriorated, particularly after Beijing decided to cut off coal imports that provide badly needed currency for the North’s economy.

“At first many people thought it was a fake commentary,” Cheng Xiaohe, associate professor of international studies at Renmin University, said of the tirade against China, published in the North’s state-run news media Thursday. “It is a big surprise that North Korea has launched such a strong attack against China. I expected an angry reaction — but not this strong.”

http://www.sfgate.com/world/article/China-North-Korea-ties-deteriorate-10959572.php

Activity at North Korean Nuclear Facility Could Mean Another Test Imminent

Activity at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test facility indicates that the country could conduct another nuclear test at any time, a North Korean watchdog warns.

The website 38 North, which monitors commercial satellite imagery for clues to North Korea’s actions, says the continued activity in many areas of the Punggye-ri site shown by images from February 18 indicate that work is underway at many of the site’s tunnels.

“In particular, the shifting of supplies and equipment, as well as additional changes in the texture and pattern of small sections of the tailings pile at the North Portal, indicate continuing work inside the test tunnels,” 38 North said.

“These activities suggest continued preparation and maintenance of this portal for use in a new nuclear test. Should the decision be made to do so, North Korea could probably move forward with a nuclear test in short order but it remains unclear when such a test might take place.”

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201702261051045791-nk-nuclear-site-activity/

U.S., S. Korea plan full-scale war games for 2nd straight year

By YOSHIHIRO MAKINO/ Correspondent

Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

 

SEOUL–In response to the heightened threat from North Korea, the United States and South Korea will conduct large-scale joint military exercises for the second consecutive year this spring, rather than biennially.

The decision comes in the face of a combative North Korea, which has been engaged in nuclear and missile development programs, several U.S. and South Korean military sources said on Feb. 25.

The joint military drills have been held annually in the spring to coordinate their operations, including dispatch of U.S. troops for reinforcements.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702260023.html

Japan doubles fighter jets deployed for scrambles against China

The Defense Ministry has doubled the number of fighter jets it scrambles when responding to airspace checks by foreign planes, government sources said Saturday.

The Air Self-Defense Force began scrambling four jets for each potential airspace violation last year, they said. The ASDF had previously been sending up only two jets per scramble since it began the practice in 1958.

As China ramps up its military activities around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, scramble intercepts by both sides have been surging in areas nearby where their air defense identification zones overlap. The Japan-administered Senkakus, which lie just off Taiwan, are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Tokyo and Beijing have yet to set up a communication mechanism that can be used by their militaries to avoid accidental aerial or maritime clashes.

The number of scrambles launched between last April and this January has already eclipsed the annual record of 944 set in fiscal 1984, when the Cold War was in full swing and airplanes from the former Soviet Union were active

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/26/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-doubles-fighter-jets-deployed-scrambles-china/#.WLLfoI7ytD8

Fox News Exclusive: DoD-Funded School At Center Of Federal Probes Over Suspected Chinese Military Ties

By Catherine Herridge, Pamela K. Browne, Cyd Upson, Fox News

EXCLUSIVE: Based just four miles from the Pentagon in northern Virginia is an innocuous-sounding online school for “management and technology” – which a Fox News investigation reveals has been at the center of multiple federal probes about its leadership’s alleged ties to the Chinese military and whether thousands of records from U.S. service members were compromised.

The University of Management and Technology in Rosslyn, Va., which opened in 1998, touts a campus in Beijing and “partnerships” with universities around the world. The U.S. taxpayer-funded school claims to have had 5,000 graduates in the last five years and to be “especially proud of our students stationed in US military bases around the globe.”

http://nation.foxnews.com/2017/02/26/fox-news-exclusive-dod-funded-school-center-federal-probes-over-suspected-chinese

 

WHY A FEW AMERICAN MARINES IN TAIWAN POSE SO MANY PROBLEMS FOR CHINA-US TIES

The stationing of a dozen or so servicemen at a private mission office has sent a strong signal to Beijing that could tip the scales toward conflict

BY CARY HUANG

US President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy marines at a US representative’s office in Taiwan is yet another challenge to Beijing’s most cherished one-China principle. It follows a string of recent controversial actions from Trump, including his phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and his open remarks questioning the US commitment to honour the longstanding policy.

Stephen Young, former head of the American Institute in Taiwan, Photo: AP

Stephen Young, former head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Washington’s de facto mission to Taiwan, said uniformed officers would guard its new Taipei office upon its completion later this year. William Stanton, another former AIT director, has also confirmed the decision.

Echoing the news, Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee Ta-wei said Taipei would discuss with Washington sending a similar defence force to its de facto embassy in the US.

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2073056/why-few-american-marines-taiwan-pose-so-many-problems-china-us

North Korea evades sanctions with network of overseas companies: U.N. report

By James Pearson

(Reuters) – North Korea is evading international sanctions with a sophisticated network of overseas companies, enabled partly by its continued access to the international banking system, says a forthcoming United Nations report seen by Reuters.

North Korea is under heavy U.N. sanctions and a strict arms embargo designed to impede the development of its banned nuclear and missile programs. The U.N. panel of experts, which produced the 100-page draft report, was created to investigate reported infringements of those sanctions.

“Designated entities and banks have continued to operate in the sanctioned environment by using agents who are highly experienced and well trained in moving money, people and goods, including arms and related materiel, across borders,” the report says.

U.N. member states should “exercise heightened vigilance” over North Korean diplomats engaged in commercial activities, it says, because some may be providing financial support to illegal networks.

North Korea “is flouting sanctions through trade in prohibited goods, with evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication,” the report says.

It details a previously unknown interdiction of North Korean-made military communications equipment destined for Eritrea in July last year.

http://kfgo.com/news/articles/2017/feb/25/north-korea-evades-sanctions-with-network-of-overseas-companies-un-report/

 

 

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February 25, 2017

Iraqi Kurdish TV reporter killed in Mosul

Shifa Gardi dies after roadside bomb explodes on road in west Mosul; cameraman is injured

“Prominent Rudaw war reporter and journalist Shifa Gardi has been killed in Mosul as she covered clashes,” Rudaw said on social media.
reporter

“Journalism remains male-dominated — Shifa Gardi broke those perceptions and stereotypes — we pay tribute to her courageous journalism,” the channel said.

Rudaw editors told AFP that the 30-year-old reporter, who was born a refugee in Iran, was killed by an explosive device on a road in west Mosul and said that the cameraman working with her was wounded.

https://twitter.com/RudawEnglish/status/835485344384573440/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

 

 

New National Security Advisor doesn’t believe in “radical Islamic terrorism”?

President Trump’s new National Security Advisor doesn’t believe it is “helpful” to say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

President Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser has told his staff that Muslims who commit terrorist acts are perverting their religion, rejecting a key ideological view of other senior Trump advisers and signaling a potentially more moderate approach to the Islamic world.

The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.

Wrong. The tens of thousands of people fighting in the “Islamic State” and Al Qaida and Boko Haram and Hamas and Hizbullah are radical Muslims. To pretend that they are not Muslims is to deny who the enemy is, and to give comfort to Muslim governments like Pakistan and Iraq and Afghanistan who are on the fence about confronting radical Islamists in their own rank.

In his language, General McMaster is closer to the positions of former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Both took pains to separate acts of terrorism from Islamic teaching, in part because they argued that the United States needed the help of Muslim allies to hunt down terrorists.

So we are now back to the Obama-era policy of refusing to say who the enemy is?

I don’t blame General McMaster for his Obama-style views.

I blame Donald Trump. He and his staff did a terrible job of vetting for this position, especially since an eminently qualified candidate, John Bolton, was available. McMaster’s view of the fight against radical Islam should have been the very first question that Trump asked him. Now it looks like Trump didn’t ask the question at all. …

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/02/new_national_security_advisor_doesnt_believe_in_radical_islamic_terrorism.html#ixzz4Zi9fuCjZ

Pentagon ditches onerous rules of engagement, gives Mosul troops quicker firepower access

– The Washington Times – Friday, February 24, 2017

Iraqi forces and U.S. coalition troops are no longer burdened by strict rules of engagement, which some say have turned firepower requests into bureaucratic nightmares.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Browning, commander of 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, recently spoke with reporters about a Dec. 26 directive that streamlined the process of delivering aid. The order, attributed to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, was confirmed on Thursday by Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the U.S.-led coalition’s spokesman.

“It changed the relationship [between forces],” Lt. Col. Browning told The Associated Press about increased flexibility on the battlefield. “It gives me a better understanding of how I can bring to bear the limited capabilities I have.”

The new rules, which were supplemented with more directives weeks ago, allow U.S. personnel to better assist — physically and logistically — the Iraqi army’s 9th Division. Advisers are increasingly embedded with Iraqis and they can avoid cumbersome requests through a joint command center.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/24/pentagon-ditches-onerous-rules-of-engagement-in-ir/

Iran requests 950 tons of uranium from Kazakhstan

Tehran says it needs the material to help develop its civil reactor program

The request has been made to the body that oversees the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, told the ISNA news agency that the purchase was supposed to happen “within three years.”

“650 tons will enter the country in two consignments and 300 tons will enter Iran in the third year,” he said.

Salehi said the final shipment of concentrate, known as yellow cake, would be turned into uranium hexafluoride gas and sold back to Kazakhstan — its first international sale of the compound which is used in the uranium enrichment process.

Under the nuclear deal, many of Iran’s centrifuges were mothballed but it has the right to enrich uranium to a level of 3.5 percent and sell it abroad.

Nuclear weapons require uranium enriched to 80% or more.

Salehi said Iran has already received around 382 tons of yellow cake, primarily from Russia, since the nuclear deal came into force in January last year.

Under the deal, Iran is allowed to run around 5,000 “IR-1” centrifuges and has been testing more advanced models that can produce greater quantities of enriched uranium — all under the strict supervision of the UN atomic agency.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-requests-950-tons-of-uranium-from-kazakhstan/

Why Iran’s favorite weapon is the cyber attack

In a piece written for The Cipher Brief, Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute details Iran’s weapon of choice for imposing its will on domestic and foreign threats alike — cyber attacks.

Eisenstadt, as well as experts contacted by Business Insider, say that Iran has a weak conventional military that couldn’t possibly hope to push around stronger countries. For that reason, cyber attacks represent the perfect weapon.

Cyber attacks are cheap, ambiguous, hard to pin on any one actor, and almost completely without precedent when it comes to gauging a military response.

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-iran-favorite-weapon-cyber-attack-2017-2

Unofficial US-North Korea talks dropped after State Dept denies visa to top official – report

The first talks planned between Washington and Pyongyang in years have reportedly been canceled, as the US State Department denied entry to a high-level North Korean diplomat, with the North’s recent missile tests and Kim Jong Nam’s murder also possible factors.

The low-key talks between former US officials and Choe Son Hui, the director-general of the American affairs bureau in the North Korean Foreign Ministry, were set to take place between March 1 and 2 in New York, but Choe was denied a visa, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The rationale behind scuttling the meeting was not immediately clear, but the report said Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile test and the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, may have played a role.

https://www.rt.com/news/378584-us-north-korea-contacts-cancelled/

Top US commander for Mideast said to make secret Syria trip

Syrian Democratic Forces say General Joseph Votel met with group leaders for first time under Trump, ‘discussed increase in support’

QAMISHLI, Syria — The top US military commander for the Middle East made a secret trip to northern Syria Friday to meet a US-backed alliance fighting the Islamic State group, the alliance’s spokesman said.

General Joseph Votel, who heads US Central Command (Centcom), met with leaders from the Syrian Democratic Forces in the first such trip under the new US administration.

SDF spokesman Talal Sello told AFP that Votel “discussed the increase of coordination and support (to the SDF) in the era of Donald Trump”.

“There were promises of heavy weapons in future stages,” Sello said.

In an online statement, Sello said Votel had met with several SDF commanders.

“The results were positive. We discussed the developments in the Euphrates Rage campaign and shared military matters,” Sello said.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-us-commander-for-mideast-said-to-make-secret-syria-trip/

Is Iran Preparing For War In The Middle East? Russia To Send $1B In Weapons To Tehran

White House Says Further Punishment Of Iran Possible After New Sanctions  

Russia was set to send Iran about $1 billion worth of missile defense systems, Russian news agency Tass reported Monday. The deal was the result of a contract Iran signed with Russian defense manufacturer Rostec Corporation in 2007, but it was put on hold by Russia in 2010. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently ended the delay and paved the way for the contractual obligation for the S-300 air defense systems to be met in full starting this past November.

“The S-300 cost about one billion dollars,” Rostec Corporation CEO Sergey Chemezov said. “We were through with the supplies of S-300. No plans for anything are on the agenda.”

http://www.ibtimes.com/iran-preparing-war-middle-east-russia-send-1b-weapons-tehran-2494993

 

 

Lockheed Martin Wins Contract to Support Aegis Ashore System in Poland

Lockheed Martin has been awarded additional funding to provide equipment and technical support for Aegis Ashore test and operational systems in Poland.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Lockheed Martin has been awarded additional funding to provide equipment and technical support for Aegis Ashore test and operational systems in Poland as part of a $2.5 billion contract, the Department of Defense said in a press release.

“Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, Moorestown, New Jersey, has been awarded a $10,396,703 modification to a previously awarded contract to provide equipment and technical support for Aegis Ashore test and operational systems in Poland,” the release explained on Thursday.  “The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $2,476,786,132 from $2,466,389,429.”

Other services to be provided include combat systems engineering study support for increased capabilities, the release added.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the creation of the ballistic missile defense system in Europe, approved in 2010 during a NATO summit in Lisbon. A group of European countries, including Poland, Romania, Spain and Turkey, agreed to deploy elements of the system on their territories.

Work will be performed in the US state of New Jersey, with an expected completion date of Dec. 31, 2018.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201702241050999070-lockheed-contract-aegis-ashore-support/

 

Attack on Syrian security forces kills at least 40

Militants attacked two Syrian security offices in the western city of Homs on Saturday with guns and suicide bombers, killing at least 42 people including a senior officer, a war monitor said.

The attackers killed the head of military security and 29 others at one of its headquarters in the city and 12 more people at a branch of state security in attacks that began early in the morning, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian state television reported that clashes had rocked the districts of al-Ghouta and al-Mohata, where the two targets were located, before three suicide bombers detonated their explosives at each place.

It said that the attacks had killed 32 people including General Hassan Daaboul, the head of the military security branch.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/25/attack-on-syrian-security-forces-kills-at-least-40/

Yemenis’ bank accounts canceled in Germany

It’s hard to imagine life without a bank account. In Germany, it’s a universal right. But many Yemenis living here have now had their accounts terminated – even that of the Ambassador. The banks are on the defensive.

For many Yemeni students and business people in Germany, the year 2017 began with a nasty surprise. For some time now Deutsche Bank and a series of other credit institutes have been canceling the current accounts of dozens of these individuals, without giving any reason. Yemeni diplomats, all of them Commerzbank customers, have also been affected by the wave of cancellations.

“All Yemeni diplomats received the same termination letter from the Commerzbank in mid-October,” Yahia Mohammed Abdullah Al-Shaibi, the Republic of Yemen’s Ambassador to Germany, told DW.

Except for the accounts belonging to the Ambassador himself and the Embassy, which expired on March 15, all accounts were terminated by Commerzbank on December 15.

According to Al-Shaibi, Yemeni representations in other European countries and diplomats representing other countries in Germany are not affected.

http://www.dw.com/en/yemenis-bank-accounts-canceled-in-germany/a-37708148

Germany mulls a real, but unrealistic, pledge on defense spending

Years after it pledged to spend billions more on defense, new pressure from the US is forcing the German government to consider whether it can actually meet its goal.

Pressure from the US to spend more on defense has split Germany’s governing coalition.

The pledge is real. But is it realistic?

Nearly three years after it promised to meet a NATO guideline calling for billions more toward the nation’s defense funding over the coming decade, the German government is sending mixed signals over whether the goal is feasible—or even necessary.

Opposition came this week not just from the foreign minister, whose coalition-member Social Democrats (SPD) will challenge German chancellor Angela Merkel in fall elections. It came from Merkel’s own party, whose parliamentary budget expert called the idea “unreasonable.”

The debate reflects how a symbol of transatlantic cooperation—an expectation that member states spend two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense—has turned into a political tool on both sides of the Atlantic, and one that says little about military capabilities.

“Because it’s a very handy metric, it can be politicized easily,” Jan Techau of the American Academy in Berlin told DW.

http://www.dw.com/en/germany-mulls-a-real-but-unrealistic-pledge-on-defense-spending/a-37709485

France’s deradicalization centers seen as a ‘total fiasco’

A bipartisan report in the French Senate minced no words in describing this country’s efforts to “deradicalize” former and future terrorists.The French government’s attempt — including the controversial opening of a deradicalization center in the middle of the countryside — was a “total fiasco,” in the words of Philippe Bas, a senator from the center-right Republicans party.

Among the most damning elements in the report was a firm condemnation of the planned network of 12 deradicalization centers, perhaps the most widely publicized — and criticized — element of the government’s push to combat homegrown extremism.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/frances-deradicalization-centers-are-a-total-fiasco-lawmakers-say/2017/02/24/218a8072-fa97-11e6-aa1e-5f735ee31334_story.html?utm_term=.f187a94caa3a

NSA snoops told: Get your checkbooks and pens ready for a cyber-weapon shopping spree

US Cyber Command boss lays out plans for next decade

Mike Rogers

Spymaster … Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Commander of the US Cyber Command and Chief of the Central Security Service

NSA and US Cyber Command boss Mike Rogers has revealed the future direction of his two agencies – and for the private sector, this masterplan can be summarized in one word.

Kerching!

Speaking at the West 2017 Navy conference on Friday, Rogers said he is mulling buying up more infosec tools from corporations to attack and infiltrate computer networks. At the moment the online offensive wing of the US military develops most of its own cyber-weaponry, he claimed, and he figures the private sector has plenty to offer.

“In the application of kinetic functionality – weapons – we go to the private sector and say, ‘Build this thing we call a [joint directed-attack munition], a [Tomahawk land-attack munition].’ Fill in the blank,” he said.

“On the offensive side, to date, we have done almost all of our weapons development internally. And part of me goes – five to ten years from now is that a long-term sustainable model? Does that enable you to access fully the capabilities resident in the private sector? I’m still trying to work my way through that, intellectually.”

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/25/us_government_to_spend_more_on_online_weapons/

Nuke capable stealth bombers get deadly upgrades to take on North Korea and ISIS

A FLEET of deadly stealth bombers has been fitted with new weapons for attack missions against ISIS and North Korea

By Nicole Stinson / Published 25th February 2017

The US Air Force’s B-2 Spirit “stealth bombers” have been upgraded with high-tech flight-management-control processors and enemy targeting systems as engineers prepare to fit the aircraft with nuclear arsenal.

The upgrades come as Donald Trump vowed to be “top of the pack” for nuclear weapons as tensions continue to rise with North Korea.

Two B-2 stealth bombers were sent to blitz an ISIS terrorist camp last month – killing 100 jihadis.

The fleet of 20 B-2 bombers will be fitted with B-61 Mod 11 weapons – a nuclear bomb designed to penetrate enemy hideouts.

Maj Kent Mickelson, who has served as a B-2 piolot, said: “This is a GBU-28 (bunker-buster weapon) on steroids. It will go in and take out deeply buried targets.

He added: “It [the B-2] is a dream to fly. It is so smooth.”The B-2 bomber has been sent on missions to Korea peninsula and Iraq

“It is really an awesome bombing platform and it is just a marvel of technology.”Described as a “digital aircraft” it also features a Synthetic Aperture Radar for creating photo-like images of enemy targets from an altitude of up to 50,000 feet.

The stealth bomber can carry up to 40,000lb of weapons – including nukes.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/591424/North-Korea-Kim-Jong-un-US-upgrade-nuclear-weapons-stealth-bomber-aircraft-fight-ISIS

Indian Air Force rejects British Advanced Hawk aircraft

February 23, 2017 (Photo Credit: BAE Systems)

NEW DELHI — The Indian Air Force says it will not make an acquisition request for the British Advanced Hawk trainer aircraft.

The decision comes after the Ministry of Defence asked the service not request the aircraft following allegations that British company Rolls-Royce bribed officials of India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited between 2005 and 2009 to secure orders for engines to power the British Hawk 132 advanced jet trainers meant for the Indian Air Force.

“We will not make any formal request for the Advanced Hawk to HAL, and the program will be officially shelved. This is because the MoD does not want [to] give additional orders for engines to tainted Rolls-Royce for the Advanced Hawk program,” a senior IAF official said. “IAF has no intentions to place any order for the Advanced Hawk trainers.”

Israeli, Indian defense cos to expand cooperation

11 Israeli companies will participate in the Aero India 2017 exhibition opening Tuesday.

Israeli defense companies taking part in the Aero India 2017 aeronautics exhibition opening tomorrow in Bangalore, India plan to expand their business in the Indian market, while extending their cooperation with local cyber companies. The plan involves joint development, mainly in cyber defense, which the Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Authority (SIBAT) has marked as one of the sectors for development over the coming year, with increased worldwide marketing in addition to systems for Israel’s defense.The Ministry of Defense and the defense companies are aiming a major proportion of their efforts in the cyber industry at the Indian market, in view of the warm relations prevailing between the two countries, accompanied by huge arms deals and partnerships in the development of innovative defense systems.

http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-israeli-indian-defense-cos-to-expand-cyber-cooperation-1001176874

A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong-nam walking into the lobby at KLIA2 on February 13, 2017. — Reuters picA still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong-nam walking into the lobby at KLIA2 on February 13, 2017. —

KUALA LUMPUR, — Police seized an undisclosed number of chemicals from a condominium in Jalan Klang Lama on Wednesday, according to an agency source after it was revealed that the VX nerve agent was used to kill Kim Jong-nam.

According to The Star newspaper, police also arrested a Malaysian man during the raid over suspicions that he may be involved in the alleged assassination of the half-brother to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

Police also recovered chemistry equipment and protective gear from the condominium.

“Police are not ruling out the possibility that the Malaysian man might have expertise in chemistry,” a source was quoted as saying.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/kim-jong-nam-killing-chemicals-found-in-kl-condo#sthash.Wi9ONmiz.dpuf

 

Japanese Think Tank Argues for Moving Marines Off

TOKYO — The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit could leave Okinawa without sacrificing its value as a security provider in the Asia-Pacific, a Japanese think tank said following a study of alternatives to building a new runway opposed by the island’s governor.

It’s a point of view speakers from the New Diplomacy Initiative, a Tokyo-based think tank, conceded wasn’t likely to sway the security establishment, during a press conference Friday.

However, the academics, journalists and a former government defense official argued that plans to build a new runway for Marine aircraft are so unpopular on Okinawa that they risk straining the broader U.S.-Japan security agreement.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/02/25/japanese-think-tank-argues-moving-marines-okinawa.html

Sea of Japan the next target for Chinese military

Confusion on Korean Peninsula fuels tension over sea

TETSURO KOSAKA, Nikkei senior staff writer

 

TOKYO — A growing Chinese military presence in the Sea of Japan is becoming an issue that Tokyo cannot overlook.

On Jan. 5, three Chinese naval vessels sailed through the Tsugaru Strait between Japan’s main island and the northernmost island of Hokkaido into the Sea of Japan. Four days later, a Chinese air force fleet entered the sea by flying over the waters between the southern Japanese island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula.

According to the Joint Staff of the Japanese Defense Ministry, the fleet consisted of six bombers, which are capable of carrying cruise missiles, an early warning aircraft and an intelligence-gathering plane. With an additional fighter jet as an escort and a refueling aircraft, the fleet could have been ready to bomb ground targets.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Sea-of-Japan-the-next-target-for-Chinese-military

Pentagon Provided Intel for Iraqi Airstrikes in Syria

The United States has been notified in advance of the planned Iraqi airstrikes in Syria and has provided intelligence to guide them, US Department of Defense spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a briefing on Friday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced the launch of airstrikes on Daesh in Syria. According to him, the operation was linked to recent Baghdad attacks.

“We were aware; we supported it as well with information,” Davis said when asked if the United States provided intelligence information to the Iraqi military.

The Iraqi strikes in Syrian Deir Ez-Zor province has been fully coordinated with the Syrian government, Al-Watan reported, citing a source, close to the Syrian Foreign Ministry earlier in the day.

The attack on terrorist positions in Syria’s Al Bukamal city near the border with Iraq has been carried out as a part of the operation to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which has been under Daesh’s control since June 2014. On Sunday, Abadi announced the start of the operations to free the western part of Mosul.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201702241051023005-pentagon-iraq-airstrikes-syria/

 

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February 24, 2017

Jordanian F-16 crashes in Saudi Near Yemen Border, pilot survives

NAJRAN – A Jordanian F-16 warplane crashed in Saudi Arabia on Friday but its pilot survived, the Saudi-led military coalition fighting Shiite Huthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen said.

“Technical reasons” caused the crash of the US-built aircraft in the Najran district on the Saudi side of the border with Yemen, the coalition said.It added that the pilot was in good condition.

The rebels’ Al-Masirah television website claimed that the fighter-bomber had been shot down by “anti-aircraft defences.”

Separately, the United Arab Emirates army command announced the death of one of its soldiers fighting in Yemen as part of the coalition.He was the second Emirati soldier in a week to die in Yemen, raising to around 80 the number of troops from the UAE killed in coalition operations against the Huthis and their allies.

The coalition launched air strikes, training and other military assistance nearly two years ago to support Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The rebels are allied with former members of the security forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In March last year, two Emirati pilots were killed when their Mirage warplane crashed in Yemen because of what the coalition called a “technical fault”.Three months earlier, a Bahraini pilot survived when his F-16 crashed in Saudi Arabia, reportedly also for technical reasons.A Moroccan air force pilot died in May 2015 when his F-16 went down in Yemen, with the coalition blaming human error or a technical fault.Two Saudi F-15 pilots were rescued when they ejected from their jet off Yemen’s coast shortly after coalition air strikes began.Rights groups have repeatedly criticised the coalition bombing campaign over high civilian casualties.

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81666

ISIS attack kills 15 Iraqi guards near Jordan border

Iraqi Federal Police members stand guard as the operation to retake Iraq's Mosul from Daesh terrorists continues on January 14 2017 [Yunus Keleş/Anadolu]

Iraqi Federal Police members stand guard as the operation to retake Iraq’s Mosul from ISIS terrorists continues [Yunus Keleş/Anadolu]

At least 15 Iraqi border guards, including two officers, were killed Friday morning in an attack by ISIS  in Iraq’s western Anbar province, according to a military source.

ISIS gunmen and suicide bombers targeted a border guards headquarters near Anbar’s Trebil border crossing with Jordan, Army Colonel Walid al-Deleimi told Anadolu Agency.

Al-Deleimi said that reinforcements, including army troops and border guards, had since been dispatched to the area to help repel the attack.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170224-daesh-attack-kills-15-iraqi-guards-near-jordan-border/

Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children are nearing starvation

The United Nations and other humanitarian groups are describing alarming scenes in the Middle East’s poorest country as a humanitarian crisis and conflict deepen after nearly two years of war.

In recent weeks, clashes between rebels known as Houthis and forces loyal to the U.S.-backed government have intensified, especially along the western coast of the country. Airstrikes near a major port in the city of Hodeida – the main entry point for food, medicine and humanitarian aid into northern Yemen – have slowed the delivery of supplies and exacerbated the misery.

Almost a half million children are severely acutely malnourished, a nearly 200 percent increase since 2014, the United Nations Children’s Fund said this week. The United Nations described Yemen, along with Somalia and northern Nigeria, as “on the brink of famine,” and declared that famine has already gripped parts of South Sudan. In Yemen, more than 7.3 million are in need of urgent food assistance.

http://www.the-journal.com/article/20170224/AP/302249887/Hundreds-of-thousands-of-Yemeni-children-are-nearing-starvation

Kim Jong-nam killed by VX nerve agent, say Malaysian police

Kuala Lumpur airport terminal to be decontaminated after deadly attack on North Korean leader’s half-brother

Kim Jong-nam, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong-nam, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Photograph: Shizuo Kambayashi, Wong Maye-E/AP

The substance used in the killing of Kim Jong-nam was a “VX nerve agent”, a highly toxic liquid used only in chemical warfare, Malaysian police have said.

The findings follow a preliminary analysis of swabs taken from the face and eyes of the victim, who is the half-brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. More items linked to the attack at Kuala Lumpur airport were still being analysed and the terminal would be decontaminated, police said.

VX – also known as ethyl N-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate – is classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/24/kim-jong-nam-north-korea-killed-chemical-weapon-nerve-agent-mass-destruction-malaysian-police

Trump Administration Poised to Collide With Russia Over Syrian Chemical Weapons

Trump Administration Poised to Collide With Russia Over Syrian Chemical Weapons

 

The Trump administration is headed towards a diplomatic confrontation with Moscow at the United Nations, as the United States, Britain and France pressed for the passage of a resolution sanctioning Syria’s use of chemical weapons in the face of a certain Russian veto.

U.S. and European diplomats in New York reached agreement Wednesday to press for the passage of a resolution, possibly as early as next week, that would impose an asset freeze and travel ban on 21 Syrian entities and military and intelligence chiefs linked to its use of chlorine and other deadlier chemical weapons. It would also sharply restrict Syria’s import of military helicopters, which have been used to drop chlorine-filled barrel bombs on opposition-controlled Syrian towns

Trump Administration Poised to Collide With Russia Over Syrian Chemical Weapons

 

Geert Wilders suspends election campaign over alleged security leak

Dutch far-right leader stops campaigning in public for March polls after a member of his security team is arrested

Wilders, current frontrunner for the Netherlands’ general elections, to be held on 15 March, said on Twitter: “Very alarming news. The PVV is suspending its public activities until all facts in connection with the corruption investigation are known.”

Dutch media reported this week that a member of the far-right politician’s police security team had been arrested on suspicion of leaking details of his whereabouts to a Dutch-Moroccan criminal gang.

The Algemeen Dagblad newspaper reported on Thursday that the officer and his brother, both previously members of the Utrecht police force, had also been investigated in the past in connection with suspected leaks of confidential information.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/23/geert-wilders-suspends-election-campaign-over-alleged-security-leak

Carnage as suicide bomber kills 42 people in Syrian town just hours after it was taken from ISIS by Turkish-backed rebels

  • A suspected ISIS jihadi detonated a car bomb inside a Free Syrian Army position
  • The attack took place in the village of Susian, five miles from the town of Al-Bab
  • Turkish-backed forces seized the village overnight which is close to the frontier
  • Human rights observers said the attack was probably conducted by ISIS  

A suicide bomber attacked Turkish-backed rebels just outside the Syrian town of Al-Bab Friday, killing 42 people in a major blow just hours after they hailed its capture from ISIS.

The bomber blew up a vehicle packed with explosives outside a rebel command centre in the village of Susian, five miles northeast of Al-Bab, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The blast devastated the twin command posts and also seriously wounded a large number of fighters, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4256102/Suicide-bomber-kills-42-near-Syria-town-taken-IS.html#ixzz4ZbcKn0zn

German secret service spied on journalists at the BBC, The New York Times and Reuters for more than a DECADE

  • BND listed at least 50 phone and fax numbers and emails for journalists and newsrooms ‘selector’ keywords for surveillance since 1999
  • These included several dozen numbers of the British Broadcasting Corporation 
  • A number for The New York Times in Afghanistan was also on the list 
  • News of the surveillance is a culmination of the three year inquiry that resulted in German Chancellor Angela Merkel giving evidence last week 

Germany’s foreign intelligence service BND long spied on journalists of the BBC, The New York Times, Reuters and other media, news weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday.

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders labelled the alleged surveillance ‘a monstrous attack on press freedom’, voiced fears the eavesdropping was ongoing and said it was planning legal action, according to Der Spiegel.

The magazine, which has extensively worked with US fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and reported on US and German espionage scandals, only cited documents it had seen.

While it is unknown exactly who the BND spied on, news of the surveillance is a culmination of the three year inquiry that resulted in German Chancellor Angela Merkel giving evidence last week.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4257192/German-secret-service-spied-journalists-DECADE.html#ixzz4ZchwR1Cq

German entrepreneurs see pickup in Russia business

Following two years of recession, the Russian economy is slowly gaining momentum again. German businesses operating in the country are confident a rebound in bilateral trade activities is just around the corner.

German companies operating in Russia expect their business activities in the country to expand considerably in the course of 2017, a fresh poll by the Committee on Eastern European Relations and the German-Russian Chamber of Trade and Commerce (AHK) has shown.

Two-thirds of the German firms polled predicted mounting revenues, exports and investments in Russia, with the poll taking into account the views of companies with a total of 122,000 employers and combined annual revenue of 29 billion euros ($30.7 billion) in Russia.

AHK chief Matthias Schepp told reporters that after years of recession, Russia was finally “leaving behind a valley of tears.”

http://www.dw.com/en/german-entrepreneurs-see-pickup-in-russia-business/a-37702800

US-led coalition is ‘killing more civilians than Russia’

 

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State (Isil) is for the first time killing more civilians with its airstrikes than Russia is with its own bombing campaign, according to a new analysis.

Coalition warplanes have dramatically stepped up their strikes against Isil in both Mosul and Raqqa, while Russia has scaled back its campaign in Syria after a patchy ceasefire went into effect in December.

While Russia has killed far more civilians in total than the coalition, it is currently killing fewer civilians than the allies, research by the Airwars monitoring group found.

Airwars estimated that between 254 and 369 civilians were killed by the coalition in Iraq and Syria in January. That is almost twice the number estimated killed in December, when 134 to 187 civilians were found to have died.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/23/us-led-coalition-killing-civilians-russia/

Syria talks hit snag before opening ceremony in Geneva

Negotiations off to rocky start after opposition threatens to skip opening ceremony over disagreements.

&

Geneva, Switzerland – UN-led negotiations on the war in Syria got off to a delayed start following disputes over the participation of the Syrian opposition delegation.

Opposition representatives nearly missed the opening ceremony of the talks on Thursday after threatening not to attend over disagreements on the make up and format of the session. But in a last-minute turnaround, they arrived late and as one large delegation.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/syria-talks-geneva-170223213801586.html

‘Al-Qaeda is eating us’: Syrian rebels are losing out to extremists

The biggest surviving rebel stronghold in northern Syria is falling under the control of al-Qaeda-linked extremists amid a surge of rebel infighting that threatens to vanquish what is left of the moderate rebellion.The ascent of the extremists in the northwestern province of Idlib coincides with a suspension of aid to moderate rebel groups by their international allies.

The commanders of five of the groups say they were told earlier this month by representatives of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that they would receive no further arms or ammunition until they unite to form a coherent front against the jihadists, a goal that has eluded the fractious rebels throughout the six years of fighting.

Top general: US mulling ‘long-term commitment’ in Iraq

  • Trump directed the Pentagon to draw up a plan on fighting ISIS

Washington (CNN)The US military is contemplating a long-term presence in Iraq to stabilize the country after the anticipated defeat ISIS, America’s top military officer said Thursday.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford said that both the US and NATO have begun discussions with Iraq about the possibility.

“We have, as has NATO, begun a dialogue about a long term commitment to grow the capacity, maintain the capacity of Iraqi Security Forces, but no decisions have been made yet,” Dunford told an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington, his first time fielding questions since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Iran Military Students Sent to Train in Syria

Iran claims that its presence in Syria is to protect a Shi’ite holy site – the Zeinab Shrine in Damascus. However, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran has been there as a backbone for the Syrian regime. It has provided Assad with all sorts of support.

It is believed that a minimum of 100 students from the university have gone to Syria to train for combat situations.

http://www.iranfocus.com/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31296:iran-military-students-sent-to-train-in-syria&catid=40:syria&Itemid=133

Why does Iran neglect Arabs in oil-rich Ahvaz?

People in the city of Ahvaz — the capital of Khuzestan, which is one of Iran’s wealthiest provinces when it comes to oil and natural gas — have been protesting for days over unbearable pollution and power failures. People can be heard chanting “unemployment, unemployment, unemployment… Iranian fellowmen assist us, assist us.”

Last year, Ahvaz was ranked the most polluted city in the world by the World Health Organization. It is ironic that Ahvaz residents are facing such difficulties while they are living in one of the most oil-rich cities of the Islamic republic.

In addition, although Ahvaz is rich in natural resources, the indigenous Arab residents of Khuzestan are plagued with severe socio-economic deprivation, suffer from one of the highest rates of poverty of the entire population of Iran, and have a high level of water and air pollution. The oil facilities surround and suffocate the city by releasing toxic materials and pollutants in the air.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1058891

 

Turkey coup: 136 diplomats and relatives seek Germany asylum

Germany says it has received 136 asylum requests from Turks holding diplomatic passports since the July coup attempt against the Turkish president.

The figure is a total for the period August 2016 to January 2017, German media report.

Turkey has urged Germany not to grant asylum to any military officers. Some posted to Nato bases in Germany are thought to be among the group.

In Greece, two more Turkish soldiers have requested asylum.

The pair – reported to be commandos – are believed to have taken part in the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They are in Greek police custody, having applied for asylum last week in Orestiada, a small border town near Turkey.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39075157

Iran’s president tries to defuse anger in an oil-rich province hit by dust storms, blackouts and protests

Bidding to ease public anger over a mounting environmental crisis, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday visited an oil-rich southwestern province that has been crippled by sandstorms and power blackouts.

Residents of Khuzestan province have long struggled with high levels of dust because of desertification, but the problems worsened this month when severe rains washed the fine particles into power transmission equipment. That caused several days of electricity blackouts last week in Ahvaz, the provincial capital and home to more than 1 million people.

Schools and government agencies in much of the province were closed temporarily, and water supplies were disrupted, forcing residents to buy jerrycans of water to drink. Many residents took to the streets of Ahvaz to protest until police issued a warning that anyone participating in “illegal gatherings” would be punished.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-iran-dust-20170223-story.html

 

Did Turkey order spying in German classrooms?

Turkish consulates in Germany may have urged teachers and parents to inform on instruction critical of the government. The state of NRW is looking into the allegations.

Authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have asked prosecutors to assess whether there is enough evidence to open an investigation into allegations Turkish consulates urged parents and teachers to inform on any content in school lessons that is critical of the Turkish government, a spokesperson from the NRW interior minister told DW on Thursday.

The Education and Science Labor Union (GEW), which represents educators, said on Thursday that it had received reports from some members that Turkish consulates in Germany’s most populous state instructed Turkish teachers and parents to spy on other teachers and inform on the content of instruction.

http://www.dw.com/en/did-turkey-order-spying-in-german-classrooms/a-37693332

Enigma’s ‘forgotten genius’: Story of Alan Turing’s spymaster boss who led the team that cracked Hitler’s WWII codes then was persecuted for speaking out is told in a new book

  • Mathematician Gordon Welchman was selected as a potential codebreaker before the outbreak of war
  • A lecturer at University of Cambridge, he turned Alan Turing’s codebreaking Bombe into a workable machine 
  • Persecuted by UK and US intelligence agencies after revealing how he hacked into secret German messages
  • Post war helped develop air traffic control, digital computers and taught one of the first computing courses

He is described as codebreaker’s ‘forgotten genius’ and Bletchley Park’s ‘Architect of Ultra Intelligence’ – but despite his contribution to the war effort, Gordon Welchman was persecuted by the British government UK.

The brilliant mathematician and University of Cambridge lecturer was selected as a codebreaker before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Welchman adapted Alan Turing’s design for the codebreaking Bombe machine, transforming it into a workable device and established Hut 6, leading the team who decrypted more than 1 million German air force and army codes.

One of his colleagues at the time described him as ‘one of the most original minds I have ever known’.

However, the Government Communications Headquarters described him as ‘a disastrous example to others’ in 1982 after he published details of WW2 codebreaking in his book, The Hut Six Story – and he was subsequently persecuted by US intelligence agencies.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4256052/Enigma-s-forgotten-genius-Alan-Turing-s-spymaster-boss.html#ixzz4Zcj6i1S9

China steams past U.S., France to be Germany’s biggest trading partner

 By Rene Wagner and Michael Nienaber | BERLIN

China for the first time became Germany’s most important trading partner in 2016, overtaking the United States, which fell back to third place behind France, data showed on Friday.

German imports from and exports to China rose to 170 billion euros ($180 billion) last year, Federal Statistics Office figures reviewed by Reuters showed.

The development is good news for the German government, which has made it a goal to safeguard global free trade after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on imports and his top adviser on trade accused Germany of exploiting a weak euro to boost exports.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-economy-trade-idUSKBN1622SO

France’s Le Pen refused a police summons for questioning: her lawyer

French far-right-leader Marine Le Pen refused to attend a summons for questioning by police last Wednesday over allegations that she made illegal EU payments to her staff, her lawyer said on Friday.

Le Pen, who heads the anti-immigrant and anti-European Union National Front and is a leading candidate in presidential elections in April and May, would comply with any summons after elections this year, the lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut, told Reuters.

Le Pen’s chief of staff was put under formal investigation on Feb 22 after a day of questioning over the alleged misuse of EU funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

Her bodyguard was also questioned but was later released without being placed under investigation.

Le Pen, 48, who has denied any wrongdoing and says she is the victim of “political dirty tricks”, is set to come first in the first round of an election for president on April 23 but lose in the May 7 runoff to either independent Emmanuel Macron or conservative Francois Fillon, according to opinion polls.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-lepen-idUSKBN16310I

Brutal Anti-Semitic Attack in France

Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 7:20 pm | כ”ז שבט תשע”ז
A French police officer on patrol. (Reuters/Eric Gaillard, File)

NEW YORK – Two Jewish brothers were beaten, and one’s finger was sawed off, in a horrific anti-Semitic attack near Paris this week, JTA reported, based on a French case report published Thursday by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. The case report was based on a police complaint filed by the victims, and published on French site JSSNews.

According to the report, the brothers – who wear yarmulkes, and whose father is a Jewish communal leader in Bondy, France – were driving near Bondy on Tuesday night, when their car was forced off the road by another vehicle, whose occupants were shouting anti-Semitic slogans including, “Dirty Jews, You’re going to die!”

Then, a group of Middle Eastern-looking men came out of a hookah café nearby and surrounded their car. The men punched and kicked the brothers, threatening to kill them if they moved. Shockingly, one of the men sawed off one of the brothers’ fingers.

http://hamodia.com/2017/02/23/brutal-anti-semitic-attack-france/

French minister expresses ‘indignation’ over latest anti-Semitic attack

Jewish lawmaker says anti-Semitism ‘alive and kicking’ after group of Muslims, one with a saw, allegedly beat, cut Jewish brothers

French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux on Friday expressed “indignation” over an attack on two Jewish brothers earlier this week, and said all means will be used to find the perpetrators.According to French paper Le Parisien, the brothers, 29 and 17 years old, were wearing a kippa “visibly” when they were attacked in Bondy, a northeastern suburb of Paris.

They were driving in a car when they were drawn into an argument with the travelers of another car — reportedly a father and son — at a red light.

One of the occupants of the other vehicle yelled at them “I will kill you, you dirty Jew,” the victims said, according to French media reports.

They were forced to a stop outside a bar, where five or six others came to help their assailants, one of the brothers told Israel’s Channel 2 news.

Interviewed on Israel’s Channel 2 on Friday, the elder of the brothers said one of the attackers “emerged with a saw” and “cut me in the hand with the saw.” He said he tried to get up to protect his younger, but that another of the attackers “held me to the floor.”

The attackers then surrounded the brothers, kicked and punched them repeatedly, and threatened them.

Several of the attackers “hit me in the face and the ribs,” the older brother said. “The man holding the saw intended to cut me in the head,” he added.

“Fortunately, my younger brother quickly jumped on him and got the weapon away from him.” But the attacker got the saw back, “and cut my brother’s hand. He simply wanted to murder us.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/french-minister-expresses-indignation-over-latest-anti-semitic-attack/

Navies from US, UK, Oman and France begin Khunjar Haad exercise


Naval personnel from the US, UK, Oman and France have commenced the 22nd iteration of the annual multilateral mine countermeasures (MCM) exercise Khunjar Haad in the Gulf of Oman.

The Khunjar Haad exercise will see the participation of about 150 US sailors and will enable participating nations to share more knowledge and experiences with each other, as well as enhance tactical efficiencies and strengthen their partnerships.

Drills will involve evolutions such as gunnery exercises (GUNEXs) to maintain their readiness with on-board weapon systems, and air defence exercises (ADEXs) to help enhance skill in the air and missile defence.

http://www.naval-technology.com/news/newsnavies-from-us-uk-oman-and-france-begin-khunjar-haad-exercise-5748856

Russian military admits significant cyber-war effort

Russia’s military has admitted for the first time the scale of its information warfare effort, saying it was significantly expanded post-Cold War.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian “information troops” were involved in “intelligent, effective propaganda”, but he did not reveal details about the team or its targets.

The admission follows repeated allegations of cyberattacks against Western nations by the Russian state.

Nato is reported to be a top target.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39062663

Exit by Polish Top Brass Guts Command on NATO Front Line

February 23, 2017, 10:40 AM EST February 24, 2017, 7:56 AM EST
  • Dozens of generals, hundreds of colonels depart armed forces
  • Overhaul takes place as Poland asks for help from U.S.

Poland’s conservative government has replaced almost all of its military leadership after hundreds of officers left, an exit that coincides with a call from Warsaw to its NATO allies to help boost its defense.

With the government moving to rid institutions of officials appointed by the former ruling Civic Platform party, which it defeated in 2015 elections, 90 percent of the General Staff leadership and more than 80 percent of the army’s top brass have gone, according to the Defense Ministry. They include Chief of Staff General Miroslaw Gocul, who stepped down last month, and Army Commander General Miroslaw Rozanski.

The ruling Law & Justice Party has pledged to purge government of what its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has called the “worst type of Poles” — people with ties to Civic Platform or the communists who ruled the country last century. It’s also thinning out experienced soldiers who have served in wars alongside their allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Poland joined with other former eastern bloc states in 1999.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-23/exodus-by-polish-top-brass-guts-command-of-front-line-nato-state

US warship plunges towards Russia as Putin fumes over NATO

A US warship has plunged towards Russia as NATO forces continue to flood into Eastern Europe.

USS Hue City and Vladimir PutinGETTYNATO: Russia and the US continue to sit at loggerheads over troop build-up in Eastern Europe

USS Hue City is the latest vessel to move into the Baltic Sea as weapons and soldiers from the western alliance mass close to Russia.Vladimir Putin has fumed over the build-up as the Kremlin condemns the continuous deployments as a “threat” to Russia.

The missile cruiser has now entered the Estonian port city of Tallinn, around 150 miles from the coast of Russia.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/591161/Russia-War-Threat-US-Warships-NATO-Baltic-Sea-Estonia-USS-Hue-City-Tallinn-Vladimir-Putin

Seoul: North Korea has large chemical weapons stockpile

SEOUL: North Korea has up to 5,000 tonnes of chemical weapons, South Korean experts said Friday, including the toxin used to assassinate its leader’s half-brother.

Traces of VX — a nerve agent listed as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations — were detected on swabs from the face and eyes of Kim Jong-Nam, who was poisoned at a Kuala Lumpur airport last week, Malaysian police said Friday.

Malaysian detectives are holding three people — women from Indonesia and Vietnam, and a North Korean man — but want to speak to seven others, four of whom are believed to have fled to Pyongyang.

South Korea’s defence ministry said in its 2014 Defence White Paper that the North began producing chemical weapons in the 1980s and estimated that it has about 2,500 to 5,000 tonnes in stock.

 

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2017/02/24/north-korea-has-large-chemical-weapons-stockpile/#ozDDKTESYxcbgZy2.99

 

 

Report: U.S. military upgrading Patriot missile system in Korea

The U.S. military in South Korea has begun work on a Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) interceptor upgrade. File Photo courtesy of U.S. Missile Defense Agency
Feb. 23 (UPI) — The United States military in South Korea has begun to upgrade the Patriot missile system currently deployed on the peninsula.

According to U.S. Forces Korea on Thursday, Patriot Advanced Capability-2, a solid-fuel, ground-launched interceptor designed to destroy tactical ballistic and cruise missiles will receive the latest PAC-3 modifications, South Korean newspaper Seoul Shinmun reported.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/02/23/Report-US-military-upgrading-Patriot-missile-system-in-Korea/5161487867045/

India approves $2.5 billion missile deal with Israel

India has signed a $2.5 billion missile deal with Israel wherein both nations will jointly develop a medium range surface-to-air missile system for Indian military.

The contract between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) was approved by India’s Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ahead of his visit to Israel, according to The Hindu.

The MR-SAM with a range of 50km-70km is the latest in a series of other variants of surface-to-air missile systems for the Indian Navy and Air Force being jointly built by both countries.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1337386/india-approves-2-5-billion-missile-deal-israel/

FREMM Carabiniere: the new cop in town

Patrick Durrant | ITS Carabiniere

On Tuesday the Italian Militare Marina’s FREMM frigate Carabiniere departed Sydney for Melbourne on another leg of her busy Australian PR tour.

The Italian FREMM (Frigate European Multi-Mission) has of course been down selected for Australia’s future frigate program and her builder Fincantieri, along with Italian defence primes Leonardo, MBDA, and Telespazio Elettronica have been keen to show her off capabilities. ADM was fortunate to be invited aboard for the leg and was joined by a team from the Navy’s STRATFORCOM and also DST Group.

Having exited the heads following an aerial photo shoot within the surrounds of Sydney Harbour, the ship wasted no time bringing its gas turbine online and proceeding at speed towards Melbourne. With 24 knots rung on she proceeded comfortably at 27 knots thanks to the following East Australian Current. The ship has a CODLAG (COmbined Diesel Electric And Gas) propulsion configuration giving her a great deal of flexibility and engine efficiency.

http://www.australiandefence.com.au/news/fremm-carabiniere-the-new-cop-in-town

Boeing Fighter Jet, Feared Dead, Gets New Life From Trump Tweets

Boeing’s Super Hornet is poised for a surprising comeback thanks to President Donald Trump‘s Twitter broadsides and a strike-fighter shortage caused by delays to Lockheed Martin Corp.‘s F-35 program.

Until recently, Boeing’s combat jet was on life support, with work at its St. Louis factory slowing to a crawl as orders dwindled. But that was before Congress approved a $10.1 billion sale to Kuwait, Canada said it would take 18 of the twin-engine fighter and Trump said the Pentagon is “looking seriously at a big order.”

Now Dan Gillian, who heads the Boeing fighter-jet program, is plotting upgrades to keep the F/A-18 flying through the 2040s – and even looking at increasing the production rate. The U.S. Navy may need at least 100 of the Super Hornets over the next five years while it waits for Lockheed’s next version of the F-35. Boeing also sees opportunities for additional sales from India, Finland and Switzerland.

http://www.courant.com/business/hc-boeing-super-hornet-comeback-20170223-story.html

 

Everything You Need to Know About Cloudbleed, the Latest Internet Security Disaster

Have you heard? A tiny bug in Cloudflare’s code has led an unknown quantity of data—including passwords, personal information, messages, cookies, and more—to leak all over the internet. If you haven’t heard of the so-called Cloudbleed vulnerability, keep reading. This is a scary big deal.

Let’s start with the good news. Cloudflare, one of the world’s largest internet security companies, acted fast when security researcher Tavis Ormandy of Google’s Project Zero identified the vulnerability.

The bad news is that the Cloudflare-backed websites had been leaking data for months before Ormandy noticed the bug. Cloudflare says the earliest data leak dates back to September 2016. It’s so far unclear if blackhat hackers had already found the vulnerability and exploited it secretly before Cloudflare fixed its code. Cloudflare’s clients include huge companies like Uber, OKCupid, 1Password, and FitBit. That means a holy fuck ton of sensitive data has potentially been compromised.

http://gizmodo.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cloudbleed-the-lates-1792710616

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