Tag Archives: Mosul

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 6, 2017

Iran Launched Ballistic Missiles, U.S. Officials Say

The alleged launchings come the same day North Korea sent four projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

By Curt Mills | Staff Writer

Iran has launched two ballistic missiles, U.S. officials told Fox News.

 

Iran launched the two short-range ballistic missiles from Revolutionary Guard Corps bases in southeastern Iran over the weekend, according to one official. The first missile was fired on Saturday, but missed its target. On Sunday, Iran is said to have tried again and been successful.

Both target locations were in the Gulf of Oman. The successful attempt was said to have destroyed a floating barge.

The news of the tests comes the say same day as South Korea and Japan reel from North Korea’s latest test.

In February, the Trump administration put Iran “on notice” following a missile test. The news of that status was delivered by then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has since resigned from the administration. Iran nonetheless test-fired another missile after being put “on notice.”

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-03-06/iran-launched-ballistic-missiles-us-officials-claim

Swarming Iranian attack boats force US ship off course in Persian Gulf

Iranian attack boats forced a US Navy ship to change course in the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, Reuters reports, quoting a US official.

The official says multiple boats approached the USNS Invincible, coming within 600 yards of it.

According to the official, three British ships that were accompanying the Invincible were also forced to change course.

Attempts to communicate with the Iranian vessels over radio did not garner any responses, the official says.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/iranian-attack-boats-force-us-ship-off-course-in-persian-gulf/

 

Iran: The story of proxy militias

Iran’s destructive role across the Middle East has become common knowledge and crystal clear for all. During the past two decades, especially, the presence of this regime’s proxy militias and affiliated Shiite groups has been considered an overt secret. Yet the question is how has Iran been able to dispatch so many fighters, and on a constant basis, to various flashpoint scenes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran has trained, equipped, financed and dispatched thousands of fighters to various battlegrounds across the region. However, with its own economy literally in peril, how has Tehran afforded such an expensive campaign?

Iran allocates a large portion of its annual budget to finance a massive domestic crackdown machine, parallel to exporting terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. This goes part in parcel to Tehran’s continuous effort to obtain weapons of mass destruction, including its clandestine nuclear drive and ballistic missiles program. A percentage of the capital necessary for such endeavors, and the repressive forces inside the country, have ironically been provided by the highly boasted Iran nuclear deal.

Weaponised black hole? Texas town terrorised – portal opens over secret Army research base

A BIZARRE and sinister-looking perfect black cube has terrified residents of a Texas town after it appeared in the skies above White Sands – the USA’s most secret military installation.

UFO alien cube and portal spotted over Texas
The terrifying black cube was snapped over El Paso on the Texas border just a few miles from White Sands – the infamous US military testing site where the world’s first Atomic bomb was detonated.Almost all the experimental weapons research carried out ay White Sands is highly classified. The results of the cutting edge research only become public decades later.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/774782/mystery-perfect-black-cube-hovering-Texas-secret-military-research-complex

Japan Moves to Highest Alert Level After North Korea Fires Missiles

March 5, 2017, 6:39 PM EST March 6, 2017, 4:05 AM EST
  • Pyongyang fires 4 missiles simultaneously into sea near Japan
  • Unlikely they were intercontinental missiles, South Korea says
Japan on Alert After North Korea Fires Missiles

What Is Known About Missiles Fired by North Korea?

Japan moved to the highest possible alert level after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles simultaneously into nearby waters, the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Three of the missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, with one dropping about 350 kilometers west of the nation’s northern Akita prefecture, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters after a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council. Authorities were still analyzing the type of missile launched, he said.

The launches “clearly show that this is a new level of threat” from North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers in Tokyo. American officials held phone calls afterward with counterparts in Japan and South Korea, which rely on the U.S. for security.

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities have really improved, and they are becoming more difficult to predict,” Abe said. The missiles “are getting closer to Japan’s waters and territory.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-05/north-korea-fires-what-may-be-intercontinental-missile-yonhap

 

Juppé says he will not replace Fillon in French presidential race

Former PM tells supporters it is too late to save his party from damage caused by François Fillon’s ‘fake jobs’ scandal

in Paris

The man seen as a possible saviour of France’s centre-right has disappointed supporters by announcing he will not stand in next month’s presidential election.

Former prime minister Alain Juppé, who lost Les Républicains’ primary election last November to François Fillon, said it was too late for him to save the party, which is riven with political scandal and the prospect of defeat.

“I confirm, once and for all, that I will not be a candidate in the election for the presidency of the republic,” Juppé told journalists in Bordeaux, where he is mayor.

In a brief declaration tinged with bitterness, he described the deeply divided situation in which his party finds itself as “a waste”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/06/alain-juppe-not-replace-francois-fillon-french-presidential-race

Iran indicts ex-nuke negotiator likely on suspicion of espionage

Suspect, unnamed by authorities, believed to be dual Iranian-Canadian national who worked on parallel talks team, previously detained for spying

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s judiciary has indicted a member of the country’s team that negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, a spokesman said Sunday, likely an Iranian-Canadian national previously detained by authorities on suspicion of espionage.

An Iranian-American also faces charges after allegedly taking $3.1 million from people after promising to help them emigrate to foreign countries, judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said, according to reports by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

In the case involving the nuclear team member, Ejehi said it would be up to a court to decide whether to try the individual charged. Ejehi did not directly name the team member who had been indicted, nor did he explain what charges the indictment carried.

However, Ejehi did say the person involved was a dual national with the initials D.E. That suggests the person indicted likely is Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a dual Iranian-Canadian national.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-indicts-ex-nuke-negotiator-likely-on-suspicion-of-espionage/

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces capture Mosul bridge, close in on government buildings

By Isabel Coles and Maher Chmaytelli

MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S.-backed Iraqi forces captured the second of Mosul’s five bridges on Monday, giving a boost to their onslaught on Islamic State’s remaining stronghold in the western part of the city.

All of Mosul’s five bridges over the Tigris have been destroyed but their capture facilitates the movement of forces progressing alongside the river,which cuts Mosul in two.

The bridge seized, al-Hurriya, is the second after one located further south. Its capture shields the back of the forces advancing towards a nearby government buildings complex.

“We control the western end of the bridge,” said a senior media officer with Rapid Response, the elite unit of the Interior Ministry leading the charge towards the complex.

Recapturing the site would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the old city. It would also mark a symbolic step towards restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by Islamic State.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/u-backed-iraqi-forces-capture-mosul-bridge-close-123656781.html

Russia, Turkey and the Black Sea A2/AD Arms Race

Russian cruiser Moskva. Wikimedia Commons/Mil.ru

Will Turkey build its A2/AD capabilities to counter Russia’s growing A2/AD assets in the Black Sea and Syria?

Bleda KurtdarcanBarın Kayaoğlu

While the Chinese A2/AD “bubble” in the South China Sea gives headaches to the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region, further to the north, the newest Russian “bubble” is about to go online against Japan in the disputed Kuril Islands. Meanwhile, on the other end of Eurasia, in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, another A2/AD zone challenges NATO’s position in Eastern Europe.

Now, two more Russian “bubbles” in the Black Sea and Syria are threatening Turkey and NATO’s southeastern flank.

Russia’s Black Sea and Syria “bubbles” matter to Turkey for several reasons. They spell an end to the relative naval superiority that Ankara had established in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean after the Cold War. It also means that Turkey has to redirect resources away from its ambitious buildup of force-projection platforms toward developing strategies and weapons to counter the Russian A2/AD bubbles. While Russian–Turkish relations appear better in recent months, the future is uncertain. If a crisis erupts similar to the November 2015 shoot down of a Russian Su-24 by a Turkish F-16, Ankara would face fearful odds against Moscow.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/russia-turkey-the-black-sea-a2-ad-arms-race-19673

Russian Hackers Said to Seek Hush Money From Liberal U.S. Groups

Michael Riley
  • Post-election crime wave by attackers demanding bitcoins
  • Center for American Progress said to be among victims

Russian hackers are targeting U.S. progressive groups in a new wave of attacks, scouring the organizations’ emails for embarrassing details and attempting to extract hush money, according to two people familiar with probes being conducted by the FBI and private security firms.

At least a dozen groups have faced extortion attempts since the U.S. presidential election, said the people, who provided broad outlines of the campaign. The ransom demands are accompanied by samples of sensitive data in the hackers’ possession.

In one case, a non-profit group and a prominent liberal donor discussed how to use grant money to cover some costs for anti-Trump protesters. The identities were not disclosed, and it’s unclear if the protesters were paid.

At least some groups have paid the ransoms even though there is little guarantee the documents won’t be made public anyway. Demands have ranged from about $30,000 to $150,000, payable in untraceable bitcoins, according to one of the people familiar with the probe.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-06/russian-hackers-said-to-seek-hush-money-from-liberal-u-s-groups

Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier Will Soon Be Out of Action for 3 Years

Russia will start modernizing its sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov before July. The ageing warship will undergo a massive refit that will modernize her problematic and unreliable propulsion system along with other upgrades.

“The decision to start Admiral Kuznetsov’s modernization at Zvezdochka in the first six months of 2017 has been made. The project plan specifying the costs and the amount of work to be performed, will be completed within a couple of months,” a source told the Moscow-based TASS news.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-only-aircraft-carrier-will-soon-be-out-action-3-19678

Tensions Rise In Iraq As Kurdish Forces Seize Oil Pipeline

Forget China, Germany may be America’s top trade problem

Germany’s surpluses larger, and its industries more competitive

FRANKFURT — China bears the brunt of U.S. anger over unfair trade, but Germany’s foreign surpluses are now far larger and may be more consequential for America’s economy and the rest of the world.

Low-wage Chinese workers have put downward pressure on U.S. manufacturing wages for years, but Germany’s industries compete more directly with U.S. industries.

Nine of Germany’s 10 top export categories, such as machinery and electronic equipment, are the same as the U.S. top-ten exports, says Caroline Freund at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The weak euro — which has lost around a quarter of its value against the dollar over the last three years — gives German companies an extra edge in international markets. Germany’s surpluses have drawn fire from the new U.S. administration, and could figure large when Group of 20 finance ministers gather in Baden-Baden on March 17.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/forget-china-germany-may-be-americas-top-trade-problem-2017-03-05

Germany Disagrees with Italy, France over Defense Fund Financing

 

The German government has rejected calls by France and Italy to finance a proposed €5-billion ($5.3 billion) E.U. defense through new debt, according to a government positioning paper obtained by Handelsblatt.

In the paper, Berlin says financing the fund with bonds would “contradict the fundamentals of good budget management and is therefore not a viable option for financing European defense efforts.”

Germany rejects Franco-Italian proposal on Defense Eurobonds

Germany opposes a Franco-Italian proposal to finance European defense public procurement via a €5,3bn Eurobond issue, Handelsblatt reports on Monday.

The German financial daily sites government sources, insisting on the principle that defense procurement must be financed by member states alone rather than mutualized debt. Berlin is ready to veto any such an initiative.

The European Commission has proposed a fund that would lower the cost for the procurement of helicopters and planes. Paris and Rome followed up with the idea of funding defense procurement with Euro bonds guaranteed by EU member states.

Berlin is in principle opposed to any form of mutualized debt while also categorically opposing any one-off exemption from stability and growth pact. Germany was one of the first countries allowed to deviate for Maastricht criteria in the late 1990s.

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/germany-rejects-franco-italian-proposal-defense-eurobonds/

NATO battalion battle group to start moving to Estonia

TALLINN– The personnel, arms and equipment of a battle group of the multinational NATO battalion will be moving to Estonia over the next six weeks.

The troops will be airlifted to Estonia via the Amari air base and the equipment will arrive by land or by sea, via the port of Paldiski.

“Estonia is ready to receive the allies,” Minister of Defense Margus Tsahkna said in a press release. “As soon as in May, the battle group of the allied battalion will take part in Spring Storm, a major exercise of the Estonian defense forces, in the composition of the 1st Infantry Brigade.”

http://www.baltictimes.com/nato_battalion_battle_group_to_start_moving_to_estonia/

EU should avoid duplicating Nato, says Michael Fallon

UK defence secretary urges against recreating structures as ministers due to agree on Brussels military command centre

Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon will urge the EU to cooperate more closely with Nato. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

The EU must not undermine Nato by recreating its military structures, the UK defence secretary will tell European leaders.

As the bloc aims to deepen its defence cooperation, EU foreign and defence ministers are expected to agree at a meeting on Monday to establish a small military command centre in Brussels to aid “planning and conduct capability”.

Arriving in Brussels before the meeting, Michael Fallon said he would be urging EU leaders to cooperate through the atlantic defence union. “Today we are urging the European Union to cooperate more closely with Nato to avoid unnecessary duplication of structures and to work together on new threats, including the need to strengthen cybersecurity,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/06/eu-should-avoid-duplicating-nato-says-michael-fallon

[Editor’s Note: Europe has gone mad.]

EU considers having its own NUCLEAR arsenal following fears in Brussels that Donald Trump will withdraw US support

  • Talk of a military plan to beef up the continent’s weapons of mass destruction
  • Comes as union under pressure and suggestions Russia and the US are aligning
  • German lawmaker has said France and Britain should build on their weapons
  • Poland’s former prime minister called for nuclear defence  in Europe last month

Talk of a military programme to beef up the continent’s weapons of mass destruction comes with the union under pressure and suggestions of Russia and the US aligning.

The drastic move would only be triggered if it believed The White House would no longer be an ally, but discussions have already gathered pace in Germany.

HMS Trafalgar which was decommissioned in 2009 as a German lawmaker said his idea was to build on existing weapons in France and the UK

BY

(Civil.Ge) — The Military Committee (MC), NATO’s highest military authority and the organization’s primary source of military advice, concluded its two-day visit to Georgia on March 2-3 to discuss the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package and its implementation, as well as regional security issues.

The Military Committee Chairman, General Petr Pavel, accompanied by senior NATO military representatives, held multiple high-level meetings with Georgian officials.

On March 2, Georgia’s Defense Minister Levan Izoria hosted the Czech General to discuss NATO-Georgia cooperation prospects, security challenges in the region, as well as the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) and Georgia’s participation in international missions.

“NATO supports Georgia’s commitment and its Euro-Atlantic membership aspirations” General Pavel said at the joint press conference following the meeting with Georgian Defense Ministry officials on March 2.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/06032017-nato-military-committee-visits-georgia/

Polish Defense Minister Claims NATO Seeks to Protect Suwalki Isthmus From Russia

NATO forces, deployed in Poland, are aimed at protecting Suwalki isthmus, bordering on Lithuania and Russia’s Kaliningrad region, so that Moscow was unable to cut off the Baltic States from their “territorial rear area,” Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Monday.

WARSAW (Sputnik) — The minister highlighted that the US troops would be deployed in a number of cities in western, northern and central Poland, and would be ready to respond to any external aggression.

“The main forces are sent to defend Suwalki isthmus, so that the Russians were unable to cut off the Baltic countries from the territorial rear area, presented by Poland, which is the so-called strategic depth for NATO troops,” Macierewicz said in an interview with Do Rzeczy newspaper.

“The presence of the allied troops in the west of the country made it possible to make a decision to move part of the tank forces to the east bank of the Vistula,” Macierewicz added.

Macierewicz stressed that “Russia might not withdraw its troops from Belarus” after West-2017 military exercises, set for September.

In early November 2016, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia and Belarus would hold joint military exercises dubbed Zapad-2017 (“West-2017”) in September 2017. On January 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance did not see any threat posed by Russia to its eastern flank.

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201703061051312606-poland-nato-troops/

Report flags NATO’s naval shortfalls vis-a-vis Russia

March 5, 2017 (Photo Credit: U.S. Navy)
LONDON — NATO has been urged to rethink its maritime strategy to address the re-emerging contest with Russia for supremacy in the North Atlantic, a paper by one of Europe’s top military think tanks says.

“If NATO does not have effective control of the North Atlantic, or at least the ability to deny Russia naval access to this maritime domain, Russia could block or disrupt U.S. reinforcement to Europe,” the Royal United Services Institute said in the paper to be published in London on Monday.

Titled, “NATO and the North Atlantic: Revitalising Collective Defence,” the paper draws on views from leading experts, including Adm. James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander between 2009 and 2013.

Until now most of NATO’s strategic response to Moscow’s aggression has been in the air and land sectors, but now senior ex-military officers writing in the survey are saying the alliance has to respond on the maritime front as well.

Pentagon Blocks Littoral Combat Ship Overrun From a GAO Report

March 6, 2017, 5:00 AM EST
  • Security office rejects including the numbers for publication
  • Data on troubled ships called ‘sensitive but unclassified’

The Pentagon office that reviews information to determine whether it’s classified has blocked publication of potentially embarrassing data on cost overruns for the first two vessels bought under the Navy’s primary Littoral Combat Ship contracts, according to a new congressional audit.

In a report examining Navy shipbuilding contracts, the U.S. Government Accountability Office deleted overrun information on two of the Littoral Combat Ships launched in late 2014 — the USS Milwaukee built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the USS Jackson built by Austal Ltd. — at the request of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

The GAO said the Defense Department “deemed the cost growth” on both vessels “to be sensitive but unclassified information, which is excluded from this public report. However, the percent difference” in cost for each ship “was above target cost.” Other types of ships were listed with specific data on cost increases that ranged from 4 percent to 45 percent.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-06/pentagon-blocks-littoral-combat-ship-overrun-from-a-gao-report

Kenya: Special Forces May Soon Join the War Against Al-Shabaab

The war against Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia should intensify if US President Donald Trump approves a Pentagon plan to expand operations in the country.

A week today, the Pentagon sent recommendations to the White House that would allow US Special Forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army, now struggling against Al-Shabaab, The Associated Press reported.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201703060006.html

China Trying To Crush South Korea’s Economy

I write about Asia, especially the Chinese economy.

Executives of South Korea’s Lotte Group, after a meeting Sunday, asked Seoul for “active help.”

The retail giant’s business has been under pressure in China this year as it first considered and then approved a swap of parcels with the South Korean Ministry of Defense. The Ministry plans to use the acquired land, a golf course south of Seoul, for the first battery of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is designed to knock down missiles.

Beijing, enraged at the defiance of “a small country,” has gone to great lengths to prevent the installation of the system.

And the Trump administration should go to great lengths to protect the American homeland. The security of the U.S. is at stake, so Washington should support its South Korean ally by imposing stiff sanctions on China.

The Pentagon wants to put THAAD, as the Lockheed Martin-built system is called, in South Korea to intercept North Korean missiles.

China has supplied crucial equipment and technologies to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program. For instance, an enterprise associated with the People’s Liberation Army transferred transporter-erector-launchers for the North’s KN-08, making that intercontinental missile particularly dangerous to the U.S. Moreover, there are indications that the missiles Pyongyang tested August 24 and February 12 are variants of China’s submarine-launched JL-1 ballistic missile.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2017/03/05/china-trying-to-crush-south-koreas-economy/#b893aeb349c1

Taiwan Risks Beijing Backlash Over South China Sea Patrols


Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is risking a new showdown with Beijing by stepping up military capabilities to protect holdings in the widely contested South China Sea.

The navy of Taiwan, a diplomatically isolated government that claims the entire sea and controls its largest land feature, will increase patrols in the 3.5 million-square-kilometer body of water because of China’s own growing military might, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told parliament in Taipei last week. The navy will also train together with the air force, the minister said.

He added the navy will use its increased, regular South China Sea patrols to do humanitarian rescue drills and protect Taiwanese boats trawling for fish or ferrying supplies. A 1,000-ton coast guard frigate has already been sent to the sea to protect Taiwanese fishing boats.

http://www.voanews.com/a/taiwan-risks-beijing-backlash-south-china-sea-patrols/3751147.html

 

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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 23, 2017

Kim Jong Un’s half brother was killed by a NERVE AGENT: Malaysian police say ‘North Korean assassins’ used deadly banned chemical weapon – but how they avoided being killed themselves is a mystery

  • Two women assassinated Kim Jong Nam in Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13
  • Malaysian police say Kim Jong Un’s half brother had nerve agent on his face
  • Not known how the women applied the agent without becoming ill themselves
  • VX nerve agent is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by United Nations
  • Suspected attackers, Indonesian woman and Vietnamese woman, are in custody

A statement Friday from the inspector general of police said a preliminary analysis from the Chemistry Department of Malaysia identified the agent as ‘VX nerve agent’.

Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of leader Kim Jong Un, died February 13 shortly after two women put a substance on his face while he was checking in for a flight.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4252244/North-Korea-calls-Malaysian-investigation-holes.html

IDF jet downs Hamas drone off the Gaza coast

Army says the UAV never entered Israeli airspace, vows not to allow violations of sovereignty

A Hamas drone paraded at a celebration marking the 27th anniversary of the founding of the terror group in 2014. (YouTube/RuptlyTV)

A Hamas drone paraded at a celebration marking the 27th anniversary of the founding of the terror group in 2014. (YouTube/RuptlyTV)

An Israeli Air Force fighter jet shot down a Hamas drone flying from the Gaza Strip toward the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday afternoon, the army said.

The unmanned aerial vehicle never flew into or over Israeli territory, the army noted.

The drone crashed into the water off the coast of Gaza.

“The IDF will not allow any violation of [Israel’s] airspace and will operate with determination against any attempt to do so,” the IDF said in a statement.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-jet-downs-hamas-drone-off-the-gaza-coast/

 

Putin congratulates Estonia on national day

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated his Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid on Estonia’s Independence Day, the Russian Embassy in Tallinn wrote on Facebook Thursday.

“[Putin] expressed confidence that development of Russian-Estonian relations in the spirit of good neighborliness and mutual respect is consistent with the core interests” of the people of the two countries,” the embassy said.

The Russian president wished his counterpart and all residents of Estonia happiness, well-being and all the best, the embassy said quoting from Putin’s congratulatory message.

http://www.baltictimes.com/putin_congratulates_estonia_on_national_day/

 

Lithuanian nationalists celebrate Holocaust-era quisling, Pepe the Frog near execution site

(JTA) — Lithuanian ultranationalists marched near execution sites of Jews with banners celebrating a pro-Nazi collaborationist who called for ethnic cleansing and a symbol popular with members of the U.S. “alt-right” movement.

Approximately 170 people attended Thursday’s annual march in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city that is also known as Kovno, the website Defending History reported.

The main banner featured a picture of the collaborationist Kazys Skirpa modified to resemble Pepe the Frog, a cartoon figure that was used by hate groups in the United States during the 2016 presidential elections, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The banner also included a quote attributed to the Pepe-like portrait of Skirpa, an envoy of the pro-Nazi movement in Lithuania to Berlin, that read “Lithuania will contribute to new and better European order.”

Skirpa, who has a street named for him in Kaunas, “elevated anti-Semitism to a political level” that “could have encouraged a portion of Lithuania’s residents to get involved in the Holocaust,” the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania asserted in 2015. But Skirpa “proposed to solve ‘the Jewish problem’ not by genocide but by the method of expulsion from Lithuania,” the center said.

The procession passed near the Lietovus Garage, where in 1941 locals butchered dozens of Jews. Thousands more were killed in an around Kaunas by local collaborators of the Nazis and by German soldiers in the following months.

http://www.jta.org/2017/02/17/news-opinion/world/lithuanian-nationalists-celebrate-holocaust-era-collaborator-pepe-the-frog-near-execution-site

 

Illegal fundraiser for the Clintons made secret tape because he feared being ASSASSINATED over what he knew – and used it to reveal Democrats’ bid to silence him

  • DailyMail.com has obtained a video in which convicted illegal Clinton fundraisers Johnny Chung gave secret testimony while in fear of his life
  • The Chinese-American was convicted of funneling money to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid in a breach of campaign finance law known as ‘Chinagate’
  • Now new book revealed how he spilled details of his activities in a video he made because he thought a squad of assassins would come after him  
  • He made the video with a friend after his FBI protection detail was suddenly removed – which Chung said on the tape shocked even his judge 
  • Chung feared meeting same fate as Ron Brown, Clinton commerce secretary, who died in plane crash, friend who made the tape reveals
  • Video is revealed in new book about the Chinagate scandal 

A Chinese-American businessman at the center of a Clinton campaign finance scandal secretly filmed a tell-all video as an ‘insurance policy’ – because he feared being murdered.

In footage provided exclusively to DailyMail.com, Johnny Chung spills details on how he illegally funneled money from Chinese officials to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4251046/Illegal-Clinton-fundraiser-tape-fearing-life.html#ixzz4ZZglVQpF

Did Hitler have a NUCLEAR BOMB? Declassified US documents suggest the Nazis successfully tested a nuke before the end of World War Two

  • Files unearthed in the US show how far Nazis got in bid to make an atomic bomb
  • A documented test may have taken place of a rudimentary warhead in 1944
  • Missile expert says he observed a mushroom cloud in the sky during a test flight
  • German test pilot Hans Zinsser said he saw the cloud south of city of Lübeck

Documents unearthed in an American archive suggest that Nazi Germany may have tested an operational nuclear bomb before the end of the Second World War.

Recently declassified file APO 696 from the National Archives in Washington is a detailed survey of how far Third Reich scientists got in the development of an atomic bomb – something Hitler craved.

In the file, obtained by the popular daily newspaper Bild, the task of the academics who prepared the paper between 1944 and 1947 was the ‘investigations, research, developments and practical use of the German atomic bomb

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4252164/Files-suggest-Nazis-tested-NUCLEAR-BOMB-WW2-ended.html#ixzz4ZVbvIbT8

Hackers can steal your information simply by analyzing the LED lights on your computer

  • Attacker must plant malware on computer via a USB drive or SD card
  • Drone flies outside window with computer and analyzes the blinking LED lights
  • Lights create a Morse code-like pattern that can be translated into data
  • Experts suggests a method that disconnects sensitive computers from the web 

A new hack has been discovered that gathers sensitive information from a desktop computer’s tiny blinking LED lights.

Researchers have successfully extracted a computer’s secrets using a data-stealing drone that is capable of recording the Morse code-like patterns of LED indicators.

However, the team has also devised a strategy to combat the hack – a security measure that takes sensitive computer systems off the internet.

A new hack has been discovered that gathers sensitive information from a desktop computer’s tiny blinking LED lights. A hacker would first have to plant malware on the system via USB or SD card in order for the drone to pick up the information

COMPUTER HACK

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University have uncovered a new way to hack computers.

First, malware needs to be planted on the system via USB or SD card.

Then a drone flies outside and records the Morse code-like patterns of LED indicators.

Hackers can translate the code into the sensitive data.

Experts found they could move data as fast as 4,000 bits per second, or close to a megabyte every half hour.

The hack and solution were discovered by a team at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Beersheba, Israel, which explained that the hack is more complex than just flying a drone to catch the blinking light.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4250910/Hackers-steal-data-LED-lights-computer.html#ixzz4ZVdlgoIu

European Counter-Terror Official:
IRGC, Muslim Brotherhood Are Not Terror Groups

Leading counter-terror voice faces criticism after advocating against designating groups

BY:

A leading European counter-terrorism official is facing criticism after claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, are not terrorist groups.

Peter Neumann, an Austrian counter-terrorism official charged with working to combat violent extremism under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) attracted criticism this week after stating that both the Brotherhood and IRGC are not terrorist groups and should not be formally designated as such.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/european-counter-terror-official-irgc-muslim-brotherhood-not-terror-groups/

NATO Promises Increase in Tempo of Air, Naval Patrols on Black Sea

http://www.eurasianet.org/node/82521

Poland ousts 90 percent of top brass in defence overhaul

Warsaw (AFP) – About 90 percent of Poland’s top military brass have been replaced in an overhaul launched by the rightwing government, the defence ministry said Wednesday.

Several leading generals had already resigned over the past year as Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz pushes to consolidate the government’s control of the armed forces.

Macierewicz has also said he wants to stamp out all traces of the communist era, by blocking promotions of servicemen who joined before the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, especially those who attended military schools in the Soviet Union.

The defence ministry did not say how many generals had left the army, which now stands at 106,000 soldiers, up from 96,000 in 2015.

Opposition parties have criticised the departures of key four-star commanders in the army’s general staff, at a time of heightened tension with Russia.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/poland-ousts-90-percent-top-brass-defence-overhaul-213213219.html

SpaceX Dragon Delivers NASA Cargo to Space Station After 24-Hour Delay

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship filled with more than 2 tons of NASA supplies has arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) after a one-day delay due to a navigation software glitch.

The Dragon space capsule was captured today (Feb. 23) by the station’s robotic arm at 5:44 a.m. EST (0944 GMT) by astronauts Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.

http://www.space.com/35807-spacex-dragon-delivers-nasa-cargo-late.html

Iraqi forces retake runway at Mosul International Airport

Iraqi federal police forces – backed by U.S. air support – entered Mosul International Airport and took control of the runway from the Islamic State, an official said Thursday.

Thursday’s advance is part of a major assault that started five days ago to drive ISIS militants from the western half of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

Two police officers said the airport buildings were under fire from Iraqi forces. They would not provide more information but said the U.S.-led coalition is with the advancing forces.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/23/iraqi-forces-retake-runway-at-mosul-international-airport.html

McCain makes secret trip to Syria as US debates new plans to fight Islamic State

Sen. John McCain made a secret trip to northern Syria to visit U.S. military officials and Kurdish fighters and to discuss the campaign for defeating the Islamic State, his office said Wednesday.

McCain, R-Ariz., made the visit to the war-torn country as U.S.-coalition forces prepare for a major battled to oust militants from ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa. A statement from the senator’s office did not give the dates of his travel, saying only that he made the visit last week.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/23/mccain-makes-secret-trip-to-syria-as-us-debates-new-plans-to-fight-islamic-state.html

Mercedes-Benz to Open Russia Factory

Daimler Benz will open its first factory in Russia in the first new investment by a major western automaker since sanctions were imposed on the former Soviet country three years ago.

The company will invest more than 250 million euros ($260 million) in the 20,000-unit capacity factory to build SUVs and the E-class sedan, Automotive News Europe Reports.

The factory will be Daimler’s first to produce passenger vehicles in Russia and will be located about 40 km northwest of Moscow, with the first cars due to leave the assembly line in 2019.

“Russia is of strategic importance for Mercedes-Benz and an attractive growth market,” Markus Schaefer, Mercedes’ production chief, said in a statement. “By establishing a local production we not only achieve greater proximity to our Russian customers but also strengthen the international competitiveness of Mercedes-Benz cars,” he said.

The new plant will be a full assembly plant. More than 1,000 jobs will be created at the site and further jobs at local service providers and suppliers, Daimler said.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/economy-auto/60178/mercedes-benz-to-open-russia-factory

New anti-Islamic State plan could change U.S. strategy in Syria

February 22 at 6:13 PM
[Editor’s Note: If this is a trial balloon, walking away from the Kurds could prove suicidal in more ways than one.   It is not clear if this is a real story or one that is speculative since the U.S. officials are not identified and could well be trouble makers.]
President Trump’s developing plan to defeat the Islamic State may lead to significant alterations in the Syria strategy that Trump inherited from Barack Obama, including a reduction or elimination of both long-standing U.S. support for moderate opposition forces fighting against the Syrian government and the use of Syrian Kurdish fighters as the main U.S. proxy force against the militants, according to U.S. officials.

A memorandum signed late last month by Trump ordered the Pentagon and other national security agencies to draft a new proposal by late February. Trump has made clear in public statements both before and since his inauguration that he is eager to increase U.S. firepower against the militants, and willing to add more troops beyond about 500 U.S. Special Operations troops currently on the ground in Syria.

In addition to calling for “new coalition partners,” possibly to include operational coordination with Russia, Trump also ordered recommendations to change any existing military rules of engagement that are more stringent than what is required by international law

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/new-anti-islamic-state-plan-could-change-us-strategy-in-syria/2017/02/22/268e153c-f84b-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.a1b3fc3588fd

Austria tries asylum seeker over Syria murders

An asylum seeker charged by Austrian authorities with 20 murders in Syria has had his case adjourned until the end of March.

The 27-year-old man, who was arrested in western Austria in June, faces the charge of “murder in the context of terrorism”.

He is accused of shooting unarmed or wounded soldiers following a battle in Homs, Syria.

His lawyers have said that he was severely traumatised at the time.

The man – who has not been named – denies the charges. According to Der Standard, he is a stateless Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp in Homs.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39050806

More US Troops in Syria, Iraq Possible Under Mattis Plan

U.S. troop increases in Syria and Iraq could be part of the plan for speeding up the campaign against ISIS that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will present to the White House next week, military officials said Wednesday.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters traveling with him in the Mideast, “It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves” in supporting a combined Syrian Arab and Syrian Kurdish force closing on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. “That’s an option.”

It was less clear whether Mattis would consider a U.S. troop increase in Iraq.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/02/22/more-us-troops-syria-iraq-possible-mattis-plan.html

Iran allowed to export surplus gas to Europe

By Nigar Abbasova

The Iranian Parliament has allowed the country’s oil ministry to export surplus gas to Europe and neighboring countries in the next fiscal year, which will start March 2017.

The approval is a part of the next fiscal year’s budget bill which is being discussed at the parliament, IRNA reported.

Under the bill, the Iranian oil ministry should take steps to export gas to the EU and neighboring countries-which are not buying oil from Iran- using the private sector potential, if the gas output surpasses 1,000 million cubic meters per day.

Iran’s gross gas output currently stands at 820 million cubic meters per day, while the country’s commercial gas output reaches 700 million cubic meters per day.

http://www.azernews.az/region/109326.html

 

 

Israel Wraps Up Tests to Improve Iron Dome Anti-missile System
For the first time, the system now has been making use of American-made components.

Gili Cohen

Israel successfully tests Magic Wand anti-missile system

Analysis ISIS seeks new balance of deterrence with Israel

Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that it recently completed a series of tests to improve the capabilities of Israel’s Iron Dome missile interception system.

For the first time, the system has now made use of American-made components in the course of the missile interception tests, the ministry’s statement said. This is made possible by a production agreement signed with the United States, allowing Israel to manufacture Iron Dome components in the United States with the involvement of the Massachusetts–based defense contractor Raytheon.

As of 2015, about 55 percent of Iron Dome’s components have been produced in the United States.

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.773275

PM Modi clears air defence missile deal with Israel for Rs 17,000 crore

The Army will induct over five regiments of the MR-SAM missile which will have around 40 firing units and over 200 missiles of the system.

Ajit Kumar Dubey | Posted by Ashna Kumar
New Delhi, February 23, 2017 | UPDATED 05:13 IST
MR-SAM air defence system

Giving a strong push to India-Israel defence ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cleared a mega deal for the Army worth Rs 17,000 crore to acquire the Medium Range Surface to Air Defence Missile (MR-SAM) system from Israel to protect India’s airspace from enemy aircraft and drones.

“In a meeting of the cabinet committee on security headed by the Prime Minister, the proposal for procuring the MR-SAM air defence system for the Army was approved and these would be deployed by the Army,” senior government sources told Mail Today.

The air-defence system developed jointly by the DRDO and Israeli Aircraft Industry can shoot down enemy aircraft, drones, surveillance aircraft and AWACS planes at the strike range between 50 km to 70 km in the sky and will help the country in filling gaps in air defence, the sources informed.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pm-modi-air-defence-missile-deal-with-israel-indian-army-drdo/1/889451.html

France, UK fund Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missile update

23 February 2017
MBDA has been awarded a GBP146 million contract to update France and the UK’s Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles. Source: MBDA

France and the United Kingdom have signed a GBP146 million (USD182 million) contract with MBDA to update their Storm Shadow/SCALP EG long-range air-launched cruise missiles, it was announced on 22 February.

Under the deal MBDA will refurbish the country’s remaining stocks of the missile, which has been in service since 2003, in order to “sustain the missile until its planned out of service date in 2032”, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

According to the MoD, “The regeneration will consist of a midlife refurbishment of current missile parts such as the turbo-jet engine, an upgrade of the navigational system, and a like-for-like replacement of items such as the cabling, seals, and gaskets.”

The first refurbished Storm Shadows are due to be delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the end of 2018, and the first SCALP EGs to the French Air Force in 2020, according to the French MoD.

http://www.janes.com/article/68123/france-uk-fund-storm-shadow-scalp-cruise-missile-update

China denies increasing troops on North Korean border

FEB 23, 2017 – 10:53

BEIJING (Reuters) – China denied on Thursday that it had increased its troop presence on the border with North Korea after the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Malaysia.

Reports routinely circulate at times of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula of China sending troops to the border, which China always denies.

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/china-denies-increasing-troops-on-north-korean-border/42982308

‘3rd Fleet Forward’ One of Several Tools to Deter North Korean Aggression

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Navy forces are preparing for a conflict on the Korean Peninsula – the most likely “fight tonight” scenario they face – by shifting U.S. 3rd Fleet forces as well as the most advanced platforms into the Western Pacific.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, said North Korea is the only country in his area of operations which is not seeing an improved relationship with the United States, and “if there’s a fight tonight, it’s probably going to happen on the Korean Peninsula.”

Aucoin, speaking at the WEST 2017 conference, said that “we hope that North Korea abides by the United Nations Security Council resolution to stop development of nuclear weapons, but I’m not holding my breath on that regard.” He then described a three-pronged approach for naval forces dealing with that North Korean threat: “technology, our partnerships, and training.”

https://news.usni.org/2017/02/22/3rd-fleet-forward-one-of-several-tools-to-deter-north-korean-aggression

Pentagon starts preparing for split of acquisition job

23 February 2017

Key Points

  • Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis began the process of splitting the Pentagon’s top acquisition job in two in a memo distributed across the agency on 21 February.
  • The memo is the first step towards complying with congressional instructions to divide the responsibilities of what had been the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics into two positions.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis began the process of splitting the Pentagon’s top acquisition job in two in a memo distributed across the agency on 21 February. The memo is the first step towards complying with congressional instructions to divide the responsibilities of what had been the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics into two positions.

http://www.janes.com/article/68122/pentagon-starts-preparing-for-split-of-acquisition-job

Pentagon mulling split of NSA, Cyber Command

The Pentagon is beginning to assess whether it’s time to split up the leadership of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

Right now, the two organizations share a leader — Adm. Mike Rogers, who is director of the NSA and also the commander of the cyber unit.

But lawmakers have debated ending that “dual hat” arrangement as the United States moves into a new era of expanded cyber warfare.

Given the NSA’s focus on intelligence collection, many on Capitol Hill and in the national security community think it no longer makes sense to have the agency joined with the leadership of military operations in cyberspace.

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/320736-pentagon-mulling-split-of-nsa-cyber-command

 

 

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February 21, 2017

Ivanka in plea for religious tolerance: First daughter says ‘we must protect our places of worship’ after eleven Jewish centers get bomb threats in a day and FBI opens hate crime probe

  • Ivanka Trump took to Twitter after a wave of bomb threats on JCCs Monday
  • On President’s Day, 11 centers received bomb threats which were later deemed hoaxes
  • She rallied to ‘protect our houses of worship & religious centers’
  • The threats come after the FBI launched a hate crime investigation after 60 threats were received at centers in January
  • Chelsea Clinton also took to Twitter and criticized the President for not yet denouncing anti-Semitic threats

She tweeted: ‘America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC.’

On Monday 11 JCCs were evacuated in Birmingham, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Paul, Tampa, Tulsa, Nashville, Milwaukee, Houston and Buffalo after receiving the threats. All appear to be hoaxes and no one has been injured.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4244062/Ivanka-pleads-tolerance-slew-JCC-bomb-threats.html#ixzz4ZKLDs8MT

Kim Jong-nam had offer to lead N. Korea’s government-in-exile

By Yi Whan-woo

North Korean defectors in Europe and the United States had offered Kim Jong-nam to serve as head of a government-in-exile, if one had been established, but he rejected the offer, according to sources, Tuesday.

“He was concerned that accepting such an offer may not help end hereditary succession of power in the repressive regime,” a source said.

The source said Kim’s paternal half-brother and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may have ordered his death with suspicions that he may join the government-in-exile aimed at eventually overthrowing the regime.

One of the defectors’ groups that made the proposals included International North Korean Association for Human Rights and Democracy in London.

The association’s secretary general, Kim Joo-il, said he “regularly contacted” Kim Jong-nam until June after they first met face-to-face in China in December 2014.

Kim Jong-nam, who had been staying outside of North Korea for years, was returning from Pyongyang after attending a ceremony to mark the third anniversary of his late father Kim Jong-il’s death.

Israel to ease regulations on arms and defense exports

As sales increase, some controls on industry to be relaxed but penalties for violations to become stiffer

Israel is set to relax its regulations on the exports of arms and defense products, amid a reform program for the industry undertaken by the Defense Export Controls Agency, a branch of the Defense Ministry.

In a session with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, the agency’s director outlined key concessions to be offered to defense exporters and emphasized that stiffer penalties would be levied on those who violate the new regulations.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-to-relax-regulations-on-arms-and-defense-exports/

Russia increases involvement in Libya by signing oil deal

Libyan national oil corporation says contract with Rosneft to redevelop oilfields lays groundwork for further investment

Diplomatic editor

Russia has significantly boosted its involvement in Libya by signing a potentially major contract to help redevelop Libyan oilfields.

The head of the Libyan national oil corporation (NOC) signed a cooperation agreement with Rosneft, the Russian oil giant, which NOC said on Tuesday “lays the groundwork for investment by Rosneft in Libya’s oil sector”.

“The agreement envisages the establishment of a joint working committee of the two partners to evaluate opportunities in a variety of sectors, including exploration and production,” an NOC statement said.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/21/russia-increases-involvement-libya-signing-oil-deal-rosneft

Russia dismisses ‘absurd’ Ukraine peace plan put forward by Donald Trump’s associates

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman dismisses proposal for Russia to ‘rent’ Crimea as new ceasefire begins

The Russian government has dismissed an “absurd” peace plan for Ukraine put forward by two of Donald Trump’s associates as a new ceasefire holds in the country.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson said he had not heard of the proposal, backed by a Ukrainian opposition politician, until he saw media reports.

The plan would entail Russian forces withdrawing from eastern Ukraine and Ukrainian voters deciding in a referendum whether Crimea would be “leased” to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-ukraine-peace-plan-absurd-dismiss-donald-trump-proposal-putin-crimea-artemenko-cohen-sater-a7591091.html

Russia feared to have ‘detonated NUKE in Arctic’ as US hunter plane sweeps over Britain

RUSSIA may have detonated a nuclear weapon in a secret Arctic test as the US Air Force send a “nuclear explosion sniffer” plane to Britain.

Vladimir Putin and US nuke sniffer constant phoenixGETTYRUSSIA: Vladimir Putin might have ‘tested a nuclear weapon’ in the Arctic

Fears of a potential Russian nuclear test come as a massive radiation spike was detected across Europe.Pentagon bosses have now dispatched a specialist nuke-hunting plane the WC-135 Constant Phoenix to RAF Mildenhall.

Nuclear explosion “sniffing” is the prime job of the plane, and one of the aircraft was previously deployed over North Korea.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/590260/Russia-nuclear-weapon-Radiation-Vladimir-Putin-Arctic-US-plane-Weapon-WC-135-Iodine-131

Troops warned over Russian honeytraps

Soldiers from 5th Battalion, who will lead the mission, have been warned about Cold War-style spy gamesBEN BIRCHALL/PA

Russia will target hundreds of British troops when they are deployed to Estonia in the coming weeks, the Baltic state’s spy chief has warned. The aim will be to discredit a Nato mission to reinforce the alliance’s eastern flank.

Honeytraps, staged pub brawls — designed to make British troops look like thugs — and subversive efforts to penetrate social media accounts to find information for blackmail purposes are expected to be attempted by “the opposite team”, Mikk Marran the head of the Estonian Information Board (EIB), the country’s equivalent of MI6, told The Times in a rare interview.

Estonian and British officials had been discussing the threat for months to prepare the 800 British personnel bound for Estonia to avoid Cold War-style spy games, Mr…

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/british-troops-targeted-by-russian-honeytrap-and-fake-news-ss07crhp2

Philippines Interested in Buying Russia’s Weapons Amid Tensions With US

© AFP 2016/ Noel CELIS / POOL

The Philippines is showing interest to purchasing Russian arms, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to Vorobyova, Moscow and Manila are in talks on forming a legal basis needed for the practical establishment of military-technical cooperation.

“Cooperation in the defense sector is a prospective course in bilateral relations with the Philippines. It is known that our country is one of the greatest producers of military products. Therefore it is not surprising that the Philippine partners are showing interest in purchases,” Director of the ministry’s Third Asian Department Lyudmila Vorobyova said.

“We are working on this. Specific contracts [on Russian arms deliveries to the Philippines] are the matter for the future,” Vorobyova added.

ISIS GROUP EXPANDS IN SOUTHERN SYRIA NEAR ISRAEL BORDER

Islamic State-linked Syrian militant groups on Monday launched a surprise attack on moderate rebels in southwestern Syria near the Golan Heights near where the Jordanian and Israeli borders converge, seizing several villages and a large town, rebels and witnesses said.

Rebels said the militants were able to extend their area of control in territory that forms a natural barrier between Syria and Israel where the Yarmouk River flows after they overran the towns of Tseel, Sahem al Golan, Adwan and Tel Jamoua.

“In a surprise attack Islamic State made an attack on positions held by the Free Syrian Army FSA groups which no one expected to happen so fast,” said Colonel Ismail Ayoub, a Syrian opposition army defector.

http://www.newsweek.com/syria-isis-islamic-state-israel-golan-heights-558970

U.S. troops in Iraq move closer to the front lines in fight for Mosul

The Pentagon is deploying U.S. military advisers closer to the front lines in the campaign against the Islamic State as Iraqi security forces wrestle for control of the city of Mosul, the top U.S. commander here said Monday.Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said that the advisers, numbering about 450, are “operating closer and deeper into Iraqi formations” as a new assault on western Mosul gets underway. U.S. commanders made the adjustment during the fight for the eastern side of the city, which began in October and ended last month, and the deployment has continued with the attempt, beginning Sunday, to capture western Mosul, Townsend said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-advisers-move-closer-to-the-front-lines-in-fight-for-mosul/2017/02/20/056fd3aa-f787-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.8c74137f8e57

Turkish airstrikes target Kurdish PKK in Iraq

Turkish war planes illegally operating in Iraq have targeted Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) positions.

At least 34 fighters of the PKK, in which Ankara recognizes as a terrorist group, were killed in two separate strikes on Monday.

The first strike took place shortly after midnight, with the second shortly after noon. They both targeted the Zap region of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/turkish-airstrikes-target-kurdish-pkk-iraq/

Russia Considering Iraq’s Request for New Arms Amid Anti-Daesh Fight

 Moscow is addressing the issue of new military equipment deliveries to Iraq’s armed forces.
Participants in a meeting of the Joint Operational Group of Russia, Turkey and Iran to control the ceasefire in Syria, held in Astana
© SPUTNIK/ ILYAS OMAROV

ABU DHABI (Sputnik) — Russia is considering Iraq’s requests for new military equipment deliveries to its armed services, Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Deputy Director Alexei Frolkin said Tuesday.

“Iraq’s requests in the interests of all national armed forces are under consideration,” Frolkin told reporters at the IDEX-2017 exhibition in the United Arab Emirates.

He noted that Russian-Iraqi military technical cooperation “is developing quite effectively.”

https://sputniknews.com/military/201702211050887700-russia-iraq-arms-deliveries/

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Expects Iran, Hezbollah to Leave Syria After War

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said he expected Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to leave Syria after the war.

TEL AVIV (Sputnik) – The forces of Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah movement forces, fighting for Damascus in Syria, will return home as soon as the Syrian civil war is over, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, presently on a visit to Israel, told The Jerusalem Post.

“I understand the fears of Israel relating to Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards in Syria, and you of course fear that they will stay in Syria after the war,” Syromolotov, who is in charge of counterterrorism, said Monday, stressing that Iran and Hezbolllah “will leave,” as the war in Syria ends.

Israel demands that Iran be excluded from the Syrian settlement process, saying that its nuclear program, hostile rhetoric, and support of anti-Israel forces in the Middle East, including Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement, pose a threat to Israeli national security.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201702211050891024-iran-hezbollah-syria-israel-russia/%5D

U.A.E. to Build Russian Warplane as Mideast Tensions Rise

  • Plans concerns successor to MiG-29 light fighter, Rostec says
  • Gulf state agrees to procure latest Sukhoi model in interim

The United Arab Emirates signed an outline agreement to buy Sukhoi Su-35 warplanes and will work with Russia to develop a next-generation fighter that could enter service in seven or eight years, according to Moscow-based industrial conglomerate Rostec Corp.

While the latest version of the Sukhoi jet, based on the Su-27 Flanker and previously exported to China, would satisfy the Gulf state’s more immediate requirements, the proposed future model would essentially be “a brand new fighter,” Rostec Chief Executive Officer Sergey Chemezov said Monday.

Though most likely based on the Mikoyan MiG-29, a light warplane known as the Fulcrum in the West, the aircraft would be “highly technological” and feature modern engines, avionics and weapons, Chemezov said at the IDEX defense expo in Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E. capital. Work could start in 2018, he said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-20/u-a-e-to-build-russian-warplane-as-iran-stokes-mideast-tensions

UAE-Russia sign Dh2.6b anti-armour missile deal

Jasmine Al Kuttab/Abu Dhabi

The contracts today are related to armed forces, not necessarily to combating terrorism.

Day two of the International Defence Conference (IDEX) and Naval Defence Exhibition and Conference (NAVDEX) 2017 saw a whopping Dh6.9billion worth military procurement deals between the UAE and other international entities. It included a contract between the UAE and Russia for anti-armor missiles, which amounted to over Dh2.6 billion.

The contract includes 5,000 anti-armor missiles, as well as training and support with Rosoboronexport, said Brigadier General Rashid Mohammed Al Shamsi, official spokesperson for the 13th edition of Idex during a press hearing on Monday.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/general/uae-russia-sign-dh26b-anti-armour-missile-deal-1

Turkey Says it Will Attack Syrian Kurdish Forces at Manbij

February 20, 2017 2:42 PM
  • Dorian Jones

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, right, meets with U.S. Senator John McCain at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Feb. 20, 2017.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, right, meets with U.S. Senator John McCain at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Feb. 20, 2017.

ISTANBUL —

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared his nation’s forces will liberate the Syrian town of Manbij from the Kurdish YPG and hand it back to local Arabs.

Ankara accuses the YPG of being affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which is fighting the Turkish state and is designated a terrorist organization by the United States and much of the international community.

Any move, however, against Manbij threatens to put Ankara and Washington on a collision course. “It would put Turkey against American-supported forces who are fighting with America against ISIS,” says political columnist Semih Idiz, of Al Monitor website. “ISIS is a major target for America at the moment and that would really be a disaster, as far as Turkish-American relations are concerned.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/turkey-says-it-will-attack-syrian-kurdish-forces-at-manbij/3732399.html

France ‘attack plot’: Three arrested

Image captionFrench security forces are on high alert after a series of deadly terror attacks

Three people have been arrested in France on suspicion of plotting a terrorism attack, police sources say.

A bomb disposal squad was called in to sweep the home of one of the suspects, in the central city of Clermont-Ferrand, French media say.

The other two arrests were reportedly in Marseille and in the Paris region.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39042196

Suicide bombers conduct deadly attack on Pakistani court

Suicide bombers attacked a court complex in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least five people, officials said, in the latest incident in a new surge of Islamist violence.

One bomber was briefly on the loose inside the busy court complex in Charsadda district, but was killed by police some 20 minutes after the attack began, officials said.

A second bomber was shot dead by security forces and a third died when he detonated his vest outside the main gates of the facility in Pakistan‘s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Afghan border.

“So far five people have been killed and 15 wounded,” Suhail Khalid, district police chief, told AFP, adding that a lawyer was among the dead.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170221-pakistan-suicide-bombers-attack-court-terrorism-taliban

China orders GPS tracking of every car in troubled region

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles affected by edict covering part of Xinjiang following outbreaks of violence – and no petrol for owners who don’t comply

Security officials in China’s violence-stricken north-west have ordered residents to install GPS tracking devices in their vehicles so authorities are able to keep permanent tabs on their movements.

The compulsory measure, which came into force this week and could eventually affect hundreds of thousands of vehicles, is being rolled out in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang, a sprawling region that borders Central Asia and sees regular eruptions of deadly violence.

The move comes amid an apparent spike in killing that authorities blame on Islamist extremists and separatists but experts say is also fuelled by ethnic friction between Han Chinese migrants and members of the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority to whom Xinjiang is home.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/21/china-orders-gps-tracking-of-every-car-in-troubled-region

EXCLUSIVE: House Dem IT Guys In Security Probe Secretly Took $100K In Iraqi Money

Photo of Luke Rosiak

LUKE ROSIAK
Investigative Reporter

Rogue congressional staffers took $100,000 from an Iraqi politician while they had administrator-level access to the House of Representatives’ computer network, according to court documents examined by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

The money was a loan from Dr. Ali al-Attar, an Iraqi political figure, and was funneled through a company with “impossible”-to-decipher financial transactions that the congressional information technology (IT) staffers controlled.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/20/exclusive-house-dem-it-guys-in-security-probe-secretly-took-100k-in-iraqi-money/#ixzz4ZKWMjSkK

U.S. global arms sales surge; China emerges as top-tier supplier

– The Washington Times – 

The sale of American-made weapons to the global community is surging ahead, with the United States controlling nearly one-third of all military-grade arms and equipment fielded by international forces, according to new analysis of the international arms market.

During a four-year period beginning in 2012, American weapons manufacturers increased their overseas sales by 21 percent, compared to sales figures during a previous four-year cycle starting in 2007, analysts at the Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, said Monday.

“The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world — significantly more than any other supplier state’, said Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

“Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defence systems account for a significant share of US arms exports,” Dr. Fleuant said in a statement accompanying the report.

China boosted its international sales percentages from 3.8 percent of the market from 2007 to 2011, to 6.2 percent of the world market from 2012 to 2016, the report states.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/20/us-global-arms-sales-surge-china-emerges-top-tier-/

  • The cost in American lives;
  • The nature of the Syrian civil war that encompasses the fight against ISIS, which means we may find ourselves on the battlefield with Russia, Iran, and the genocidal government of Syria;
  • Finding ourselves with the Turks against the Kurds; and
  • Finding ourselves with the Kurds against the Turks.

US Ground Troops for Syria: A Really Bad Idea

The president is being asked by the Pentagon to provide U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS in Syria.  If the president is wise, he will run as fast as he can the other way.

There are four potential traps here:

  • The cost in American lives;
  • The nature of the Syrian civil war that encompasses the fight against ISIS, which means we may find ourselves on the battlefield with Russia, Iran, and the genocidal government of Syria;
  • Finding ourselves with the Turks against the Kurds; and
  • Finding ourselves with the Kurds against the Turks.
  • Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    February 19, 2017

    Russia plotted to overthrow Montenegro’s government by assassinating Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic last year, according to senior Whitehall sources

     

    Russia plotted to assassinate the prime minister of a European nation and overthrow its government last year, according to senior Whitehall sources.

    An election day coup plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill the pro-Western leader was directed by Russian intelligence officers with the support and blessing of Moscow, to sabotage the country’s plan to join Nato.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/18/russias-deadly-plot-overthrow-montenegros-government-assassinating/

    North Korean chemistry expert suspected of killing Kim Jong-un’s half-brother is arrested in a dramatic raid

    • Ri Jong-chol, 47, was arrested by Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpar overnight
    • Malaysian police said Jong-chol studied medicine and chemistry in Pyongyang
    • Kim Jong Nam was murdered on Monday using a fast-acting liquid poison 
    • Malaysian police believe he was assassinated on the orders of Kim Jong-un 

    Malaysian police have arrested a North Korean chemistry expert in connection with the murder of Kim Jong-un’s half brother Kim Jong Nam.

    Ri Jong-chol, 47, who studied medicine and chemistry in Pyongjang was detained in Kuala Lumpur in connection with the murder.

    Police are also hunting four North Korean men who flew out of Kuala Lumpur the same day Jong Nam was assassinated.

    The four suspects are believed to have been part of a hit squad sent to murder the despotic leader’s half brother on the tyrant’s orders.

    Malaysian police have so far arrested four people – including the chemistry expert – in connection with the murder probe.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/mostread/article-4239240/North-Korean-chemistry-expert-arrested-Kim-murder-probe.html#ixzz4Z8Xzi8M9

    Senior White House Officials Support Bolton To Replace Flynn

    Former U.N. ambassador championed by Flynn loyalists

    John Bolton in 2006. State Department photo.

    BY:
    February 18, 2017 3:26 pm

    Senior White House officials and members of the National Security Council are pushing former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as a replacement for ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

    Among Bolton’s most vocal supporters are senior administration officials loyal to Flynn and who are upset at the general’s firing. Multiple sources described an effort by these Flynn loyalists to ensure that Bolton is selected as his replacement.

    http://freebeacon.com/national-security/senior-white-house-officials-support-bolton-replace-flynn/

    Sweden ‘covering up’ migrant rape and violent crime for the sake of ‘humanitarianism’

    OFFICIALS in the Swedish government have been accused of “covering up” migrant rape and refugee violence for the sake of appearing politically correct, a commentator has claimed.

    Journalist Ami Horowitz told Fox Newspeople high up in the Swedish government are purposely covering up the perpetrators of rape crimes to protect “vulnerable” migrants.

    During an explosive interview on Friday, Mr Horowitz claimed the refugee violence crisis was out-of-control but that “European virtues” had put a stop to any discussion on the statistics.

    Sweden accepted 160,000 asylum-seekers last year, with Fox News claiming only 500 have managed to gain employment – 0.3 per cent of those who arrived to claim refugee status.

    Tucker Carlson, an anchor at the US news station, called Sweden’s response “grotesque”

    The filmmaker told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson: “Sweden consider themselves a humanitarian superpower, perhaps the only superpower they could possibly qualify for.

    “So they want to open up their borders up to everyone and anyone.

    “From the onset of the refugee crisis, there was a surge in gun violence and rape – the statistics were clear.

    “But locals were just said ‘it was men, not refugees’ so the majority in Sweden still want to have an open door policy. It’s confounding, really.”

    He added: “The Swedish government try to cover up refugee rapes.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/768980/Sweden-cover-up-migrant-rape-violent-crime

     

    Erdogan banks on motley crew of Syrian armed groups

    US not persuaded to ditch Syrian Kurds

    Fehim Tastekin writes this week that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s expansive goals for Syria include a “Manbij and Raqqa in a three-phased operation. First will be setting up a ‘terror-free safe zone,’ which must also be covered by a no-fly zone. Second, Arabs and Turkmens will be settled in the safe zone. Finally, a national army will be established through a ‘train and equip’ program.”

    Erdogan’s top priority remains the defeat of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union party (PYD), which Turkey links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist group. Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in August to break the influence of the PYD and PKK, as well as the Islamic State (IS), in northern Syria.

    Erodgan’s war against the Syrian Kurds seems to be the cause of irreconcilable differences with the United States over Syria. The US counts on the YPG as the core of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its key on-the-ground partner in Syria. US plans for an attack on Raqqa, IS’ ‘”capital” in Syria, reportedly depend on the SDF for the first assault wave.

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/02/erdogan-syria-armed-groups-referendum-coup-mattis-russia.html

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/02/erdogan-syria-armed-groups-referendum-coup-mattis-russia.html#ixzz4ZAqmk6th

    Trump hints at ‘big order’ of F/A-18 Super Hornets instead of some F-35s

    Carrier Strike Group 1 Conducts South China Sea Patrol


    Story Number: NNS170218-01Release Date: 2/18/2017 8:03:00 AM

    By From Carrier Strike Group One Public Affairs

    SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) — Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), and aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, began routine operations in the South China Sea, Feb. 18.

    Prior to their operations in the South China Sea, ships and aircraft from within the strike group conducted training off the islands of Hawaii and Guam to maintain and improve their readiness and develop cohesion as a strike group. The strike group recently enjoyed a port visit to Guam and after departing the Marianas, conducted operations in the Philippine Sea.

    http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=98973

    Hamas condemns 6 ‘informants for Israel’ to death by hanging

    Verdict raises number of people on death row to 10; others given jail term for alleged spying

    Sunday’s verdicts raise the number of people on death row to 10.

    Seven other people were given prison sentences Sunday ranging from 12 to 17 years long for spying for Israel.

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-condemns-6-informants-for-israel-to-death-by-hanging/

     

    US will ‘moderate commitment’ to Nato if allies don’t spend more. Can Norway hit the goal?

    US Defence Secretary James Mattis used his first Nato meeting to assure its allies of Washington’s commitment to the alliance but he also delivered an ultimatum to American allies.
    Mattis said that if the other Nato countries don’t live up to their spending commitments, the United States will be forced to “moderate its commitment” to the nearly 70-year-old alliance.
    “I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States, and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” Mattis said, according to numerous US media reports.
    “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defence,” he continued.
    Nato has a defence spending target of two percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), something only five countries meet.
    Norway currently uses 49 billion kroner on defence, amounting to 1.56 percent of its GDP. Hitting the two percent target would require spending an additional 13 billion kroner but as the Norwegian GDP grows, that price tag will only get larger with every passing year.

    No need to include US in Ukraine peace talks, German FM says

    German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says he sees no need to add the US to the current format of four-way ministerial meetings concerning the Ukraine settlement, noting, however, that close contact with Washington on the matter is “necessary.”

    There must be close contact with the United States, but we think this [Normandy] format… should be maintained,” Gabriel said after he met with his Russian, French, and Ukrainian counterparts on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. The Minister added that the matter had been discussed with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and that he had “agreed with this.”

    https://www.rt.com/news/377854-gabriel-normandy-format-ukraine/

    Pence visits former concentration camp

    Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen and daughter Charlotte on Sunday visited Dachau, a former concentration camp built by the Nazis in 1933 near Munich in southern Germany.

    The Pences laid a wreath beneath the international memorial at the center of the camp, according to a reporter traveling with the vice president, and visited Jewish and Catholic memorials on the grounds.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/320276-pence-visits-former-concentration-camp

    Vladimir Putin orders Russia to recognise documents issued in rebel-held east Ukraine

    President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities on Saturday to temporarily recognise civil registration documents issued in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine, a decision strongly criticized by Ukraine’s president.

    The decision will enable people from the conflict-hit region to travel, work or study in Russia.

    According to Putin’s order, published on the Kremlin website, Russia will temporarily recognize identity documents, diplomas, birth and marriage certificates and vehicle registration plates issued in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/18/putin-orders-russia-recognize-documents-issued-rebel-held-east/

    FBI has three probes looking into Russia’s election hacking

    Each investigation focuses on a different aspect of Russia’s influence campaign.

    It’s no secret that the FBI has been investigating Russia’s alleged bid to influence US elections through hacking, but it’s now clear just how deep that investigation goes. Reuters tipsters understand that there are “at least” three FBI probes into the hacks, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the breaches targeting Democratic Party officials. A Pittsburgh field office wants to identify the people behind those intrusions, while a San Francisco office wants to identify the people behind “Guccifer 2.0,” the persona credited with key leaks and frequently linked to the Russian government. A third investigation in Washington, DC is orchestrating a counterintelligence campaign based on intercepted foreign communications and tips from informants.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/18/fbi-has-three-probes-into-russia-election-hacks/

    Syria regime executes paediatrician for treating Aleppo children

    Syrian paediatrician Mahmoud Satu, executed by the Assad regime.

    Syrian paediatrician Mahmoud Satu, executed by the Assad regime.

    Syrian regime forces have executed the Syrian paediatrician Mahmoud Satu after he was indicted for treating and feeding the children of Aleppo when its eastern districts were controlled by the opposition, the Jordanian Assabeel newspaper reported yesterday.

    Citing the London-based news website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Assabeel said that local sources in Aleppo said that Satu and another Syrian resident called Ahmed Assad were executed two months after they were arrested.

    According to the sources, the two men were executed in the main square of the Al-Sukarri neighbourhood in Aleppo, the area where he and his family had lived.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170218-syria-regime-executes-paediatrician-for-treating-aleppo-children/

    Iraq begins battle to free western Mosul from IS

    Iraqi government forces have launched an offensive to liberate the western part of the city of Mosul from the so-called Islamic State.

    Hundreds of military vehicles, backed by air power, rolled across the desert towards IS positions early on Sunday.

    Iraqi forces retook several villages south of the city in the first hours of the operation, taking them within striking distance of Mosul airport.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39018984

    Turkey’s prime minister campaigns in Germany for Turkish constitutional referendum

    Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim told a crowd in Germany that Turkey will not be intimidated by the West. His speech came as Ankara rallies support for a controversial referendum on centralizing presidential power.

    Deutschland Türkei Oberhausen Auftritt Ministerpräsident Binali Yildirim (Getty Images/AFP/S. Schuermann)

    Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 Turks and Turkish Germans in the western city of Oberhausen on Saturday. He addressed the voters as Ankara vies to whip up support for April’s constitutional referendum on expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    http://www.dw.com/en/turkeys-prime-minister-campaigns-in-germany-for-turkish-constitutional-referendum/a-37616213

    Royal Caribbean cancels all cruise stops in Turkey in 2017

    Royal Caribbean has decided to cancel all scheduled stops in Turkey for the 2017 cruise season, citing “unpredictability” in the country.

    In a statement to travel agents, Royal Caribbean said that due to the current unpredictability of Turkey, and taking guests’ and crew members’ safety and wellbeing into account, Royal Caribbean has decided to replace our calls in Ephesus (Kusadasi) with alternate ports-of-call for the 2017 Europe season.

    “We truly regret having to take this action and thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Any decision we make is made in an abundance of caution and safety, as your clients experience in our ports of call is always our utmost priority.”

    This will affect the following ships:

    • Brilliance of the Seas will now call on Mykonos, Greece.
    • Jewel of the Seas will now call on Rhodes, Greece.
    • Rhapsody of the Seas will now call on:
      • Kotor, Montenegro
      • July 14th: Chania, Greece
      • October 7th: Mykonos, Greece

    http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2017/02/18/royal-caribbean-cancels-all-cruise-stops-turkey-2017

    Germany scrambles fighter planes for Jet aircraft after communication snag

    | TNN |

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Plane’s communication with local ATC broke down temporarily over Cologne, pilots could not respond to instructions
    • German fighters escorted plane till communication was re-established
    • Flight crew de-rostered pending investigations

    )

    NEW DELHI: The German Air Force scrambled two fighter jets for a Jet Airwaysflight after the Cologne air traffic control could not establish contact with the Indian aircraft due to a reported communication failure.

    The Boeing-777 was flying from Mumbai to London on Thursday (February 16) as 9W-118 and was overflying close to the German city Cologne when its cockpit crew did not respond to ATC communications.

    GREECE IN PANIC: Citizens withdraw £2.1bn from banks in 45 DAYS amid default fears

    GREEK citizens have taken more than £2billion out of their bank accounts in just 45 days as they fear the economy is set to crash.

    And they are stashing the cash under their mattreses, in safes and in furniture amid a new run on the banks, it has been claimed.

    Greece faces running out of money in just five months as it faces repayments of more than £5.1bn (€6bn) which they will not be able to achieve without help or restructuring.

    Despite capital controls preventing individuals withdrawing more than £1,540 (€1,800) per month from their accounts, money has been vanishing at an expedited rate, with projections the Government will default when their next payment is due in July.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/769229/Grexit-bank-withdrawals-billions-EU-Greece-default-ECB-IMF

    Russian Defence Ministry fires a series of cruise missiles at Islamic State targets including military training camps in Raqqa

    • Russian Defence Ministry published video today showing a building being struck
    • They said the Tupolev-95 bombers targeted an ISIS training camp in Raqqa
    • Dramatic footage shows huge explosion followed by clouds of smoke at building 

    The Russian Defence Ministry has published a video showing a building being bombed after saying it had struck an Islamic State base in Syria.

    The ministry said in a statement that the Tupolev-95 bombers had taken off from Russia and flown over Iran and Iraq to get to Syria, where it said they had successfully targeted militant training camps and a command point in the city of Raqqa.

    The aerial video, published by the military today, shows the long-range bombers lining up their target before striking the building.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4238398/Russian-Defence-Ministry-strikes-Islamic-State-base.html#ixzz4Z8gipelS

    Lavrov calls for ‘post-West’ world order; dismisses NATO as Cold War relic

    The Russian world view, as advocated by its foreign minister, sees countries develop bilateral relations. His words were at odds with those of US Vice President Mike Pence – and others at the Munich Security Conference.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments came during a speech at the annual Munich Security Conference, where US Vice President Mike Pence spoke earlier in the day, vowing that the United States would “hold Russia accountable,” even as the White House seeks common ground with the Kremlin.

    http://www.dw.com/en/lavrov-calls-for-post-west-world-order-dismisses-nato-as-cold-war-relic/a-37614099

    Democrats ask for hearings involving Trump’s smartphone security

    By Andrew Blake – The Washington Times

    President Trump’s purportedly lax security practices are the subject of a letter sent from more than a dozen congressional Democrats this week to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

    Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat, urged committee leadership this week to investigate “troubling reports” that have emerged recently with respect to Mr. Trump’s operational security, including his apparent use of a consumer-grade Android smartphone to communicate over Twitter, among other items of concerns.

    Those reports, according to Mr. Lieu and 14 colleagues, suggest Mr. Trump “is jeopardizing national security by egregiously failing to implement commonsense security measures across the board.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/18/trumps-smartphone-security-democrats/

    U.S. calls on Venezuela to release more than 100 ‘prisoners of conscience’

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    January 18, 2017

    Russia Snaps, Accuses UK, Germany And France Of “Grossly Interfering” In The US Election

    Having listened stoically for the past two months to accusations without evidence that Moscow “hacked the US election”, and that Hillary’s loss was indirectly due to Putin’s alleged meddling, which resulted in Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, on Wednesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov finally snapped, and lashed out at the ongoing US election scapegoating fiasco, saying that leaders and top officials from the UK, Germany, and France have “grossly interfered” in US internal affairs, “campaigned” for Hillary Clinton, and openly “demonized” Donald Trump.

    Unlike US accusations of Russian interference, at least Lavrov’s claim can be substantiated with a simple google search of news event in mid to late 2016.

    Speaking during a press conference following a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz, Lavrov said his angry outburst was because Moscow “is tired” of accusations it meddled in the US election. In fact, Lavrov said, it is time to “acknowledge the fact” that it was the other way around.“US allies have grossly interfered in America’s internal affairs, in the election campaign,” Lavrov said, quoted by RT

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-18/russia-snaps-accuses-uk-germany-and-france-grossly-interfering-us-electionIsrael deploys ‘Star Wars’ missile killer system

    ISIS cut off Deir ez-Zor airbase, threaten 120,000 civilians – RT reporter

    A large group of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants have been making massive advances in Deir ez-Zor province, cutting off a key air base supplying both anti-jihadist fighters and civilians in the region, RT’s Lizzie Phelan reported from Syria.

    Frightening developments” is how Phelan has described the situation unfolding in the eastern Syrian province near the Iraqi border over the last few days. She said the terrorists had succeeded in cutting the last government-held patch of the Deir ez-Zor city in two, and severed a government-held military base from the rest of the city.

    The airbase had been used by the Syrian government to deliver supplies to an estimated 120,000 civilians trapped in the city, which has been under the siege by the militants who had blocked all other delivery routes. Helicopters, which have been the only source of aid deliveries, including food and medical supplies, are now unable to land at the base, the RT crew reported.

    https://www.rt.com/news/374011-deir-ezzor-offensive-airbase/

    Israel deploys ‘Star Wars’ missile killer system

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s upgraded ballistic missile shield became operational on Wednesday, in a “Star Wars”-like extension of its capabilities to outer space where incoming missiles can be safely destroyed.

    The Defence Ministry said the U.S.-funded Arrow 3 system, jointly developed by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries and U.S. firm Boeing Co. , was handed over the Israeli Air Force.

    The Arrow 3, together with the Arrow 2, which has been operational since 2000, would “significantly reduce the possibilities of ballistic missiles” hitting Israel, the ministry said in a statement.

    The Arrow 2 is designed to intercept projectiles high and low within the atmosphere. Arrow 3 missiles will fly into space, where their warheads detach to become “kamikaze” satellites that track and slam into their targets.

    Such high-altitude shoot-downs are meant to safely destroy incoming nuclear, biological or chemical missiles. Israel has frequently voiced concern about a ballistic missile threat posed by its arch-foe, Iran.

    https://bryensblognews.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/january-18-2017/

    Obama Lifts Sudan Sanctions

    While President Bashir perpetrates Jihad.

    January 18, 2017
    Add to the list of foreign policy failures by the departing Obama Administration is his last minute executive order partially lifting sanctions on agricultural and transportation trade. It also unfreezes assets in the US of the corrupt regime of indicted war criminal President Omar Bashir.  The sanctions for Darfur will remain with the only condition left to the incoming Trump Administration a so-called 180 day  ‘look back’ provision that might ‘snap back’ sanctions.  The move by the Obama administration was “welcomed” by the Arab League in a Qatar Tribune report.    This was a dramatic   ‘sea change’ from President Obama who campaigned during his 2008 election on “ending the slaughter in Darfur.”

    Brandeis Hires Anti-Semitic Islamist With Al-Qaeda Links

    In 2016, Brandeis University hired an anti-Semitic Islamist formerly linked to al-Qaeda to teach students about Islam.

    Brandeis offered Boston-based cleric Suheil Laher a job in its Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department despite his long history of involvement with extremist causes. That history includes his leadership of a now-defunct charity that raised funds for jihadist causes in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan.

    https://pjmedia.com/homeland-security/2017/01/17/brandeis-hires-anti-semitic-islamist-with-al-qaeda-links/

    Rome metro evacuated as powerful earthquakes rock Italy

    5.3-magnitude earthquake rocks Italy 01:57

    Rome (CNN)The metro system and some schools in Italy’s capital, Rome, were being evacuated Wednesday following a series of powerful earthquakes that struck the heart of the country.

    An initial 5.3-magnitude quake hit central Italy 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) west-northwest of Amatrice, a town devastated by powerful temblors last year, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

    While the epicenter was 90 kilometers northeast of Rome, the quake was felt strongly in the capital, sending people running from buildings in a panic.
    While the epicenter was 90 kilometers northeast of Rome, the quake was felt strongly in the capital, sending people running from buildings in a panic.
    It struck at 10:25 am (4:25 am ET) at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers and has been followed by eight aftershocks in the same area, including one as strong as 5.7, the USGS reported.
    There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage but firefighters told CNN that heavy snow blocking roads has hampered their initial assessment.

    Mosul battle: Iraqi army prepares offensive on west of city

    The Iraqi army says it is preparing military operations to retake western Mosul, the last urban stronghold in Iraq of so-called Islamic State.

    The preparations follow a recent offensive which officials said on Wednesday had recaptured nearly all of the city’s east.

    Counter-terror chief Talib Shaghati said special forces had retaken all eastern districts assigned to them.

    Some IS fighters remain holed up in north-eastern districts, he added.

    Earlier reports suggested the army had retaken all of the city’s east.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38664607

    Why Russia — a country with less money than Canada and fewer people than Nigeria — runs the world now

    Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his New Year's address to the nation in Moscow's Kremlin, December 31, 2016.

    AFP PHOTO / Sputnik / Mikhail KlimentievRussian President Vladimir Putin delivers his New Year’s address to the nation in Moscow’s Kremlin, December 31, 2016.
    • Russia makes less money per year than Canada. For 2016, its $1.3 trillion GDP was roughly on par with Australia, a country with one-sixth the population and less than half the square footage.

    The country’s 147 million population isn’t all that impressive either; Nigeria, Bangladesh and Brazil all have more citizens.

    And yet, between hacking the U.S. election and intervening in Syria, Russia is utterly dominating foreign affairs.

    Why Russia — a country with less money than Canada and fewer people than Nigeria — runs the world now

    Russia’s Lethal Su-35 Was Just Spotted Armed with a New Missile NATO Should Fear

    Video footage shot by a U.S. Navy F/A-18C Hornet squadron over Syria shows a pair of Russian Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E fighters armed with a pair of older R-27 air-to-air missiles but what appears to be a single R-77-1 RVV-SD active radar-guided missile.

    The R-77-1 is the latest and most capable medium range air-to-air missile it in the Kremlin’s inventory, but the Russian Air Force has only a limited stock of the weapons. Russians are actively working on saving airframe life on their newest missiles while using as many of their older weapons as possible because they believe the chances of an air-to-air confrontation with allied airpower to be fairly remote.

    “They’re probably flying with R-77-1 to show us they have them, but realistically don’t expect to be doing air to air combat with Western forces,” Michael Kofman, a research scientist specializing in Russian military affairs at the CNA Corporation told me.

    Russian analysts also agree that the R-77-1 is being used primarily for show.

    “In the Syria RVV-SD missiles are used on Russian AF planes, but again, due to resource savings, not always. Rather, they are hung to show others—the USA and Turkey—that they have them,” Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow Defense Brief, which is published by the Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) told me last year. “Why do they not hang them permanently? The Russian AF obviously does not believe in the possibility of confrontation with the United States in the air. So why waste resources on bogus threats?”

     http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-lethal-su-35-was-just-spotted-armed-new-missile-nato-19080

    The “Peace Conference”: An Outright Admission of Failure

    by Shoshana Bryen  •  January 17, 2017 at 4:30 am

    • After 23 years and billions of dollars, the Palestinians still lack “infrastructure for a viable… economy.” They cannot manage “service delivery.” And there is no “civil society” in Palestinian Authority (PA) areas able to express dissent or disapproval of Mahmoud Abbas’s 12-year power grab of a 4-year presidential term. Gaza under Hamas is worse.
    • Even the Europeans and John Kerry acknowledge that the Palestinians have no capacity for self-government. This is, in part, because there has been no demand by the donor countries for such things as budgetary accountability and transparency, or a free press and civil society in PA areas to demand more and better of its leaders.
    • The PA also pays terrorists and their families with foreign donations. And then there’s the matter of Palestinian corruption and outright stealing.
    • The Trump Administration will have a lot on its plate beginning this week. But if it really wants to help the cause of Israel’s security, legitimacy and acknowledged permanence in the region, it would do well to insist that U.S. taxpayer dollars be spent accountably or not at all, until the Palestinians get their financial, as well as political, house in order.https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/

    Russia successfully tests its new ‘Sickle’ intercontinental ballistic missile, sending it the entire length of the country to strike a target

    • Topol-M blasted off from Plesetsk’s launch site in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia
    • It reportedly hit a target in Kamchatka peninsula some 3,750 miles to the east
    • Launch comes amid heightened tensions between Vladimir Putin and the West

    Russia has successfully tested its new ‘Sickle’ intercontinental ballistic missile, sending it the entire length of the country to strike a target, it has emerged.

    The Topol-M rocket blasted off from the Plesetsk’s launch site in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, 500 miles north east of Moscow before reaching its target in the Kamchatka peninsula – some 3,750 miles to the east.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4131526/Russia-tests-new-Sickle-intercontinental-missile.html#ixzz4W7g4cgmQ

    JedEye: Watching Out for Baltimore and Beyond

    By: BJLife/Margie Pensak

    Utilizing Oheb Shalom and Ohr Chadash many indoor and outdoor cameras, JedEye allows you to, for example, tightly monitor classrooms and hallways. I was even able to see the tiniest of details, such as occasional litter on the floor.

    Baltimore, MD January 11, 2017 – The timing was uncanny; the subject, ironic. I had initially proposed to meet Israeli-born physical security software entrepreneur Eran Jedwab at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC on Monday, January 9, shortly before noon, when a bomb threat was called in to the facility. It was one of among fifteen to nineteen Jewish community centers in at least six states that were targeted by bomb threats that day. Fortunately, four days before our meeting, I had postponed it to later that day.

    After Eran, founder of Jedvice, demonstrated his JedEye security solution on his tablet, I couldn’t help but think that had those threats been real—as real as the shooting rampage that murdered five people and wounded six others in the crowded Florida Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport just three days before, lo aleinu—neutralizing the offender and evacuating the victims would have taken a different course.

    On Eran’s screen was JedEye’s real-time, highly automated 3-D image of Temple Oheb Shalom and its adjoining neighbor, Ohr Chadash Academy.

    Utilizing the facility’s many indoor and outdoor cameras, JedEye allows you to, for example, tightly monitor classrooms and hallways. I was even able to see the tiniest of details, such as occasional litter on the floor. These facilities happened to have cameras already; for them, JedEye was a ”bolt-on” solution, enhancing an existing security system. BaltimoreJewishLife.com was most impressed with Eran’s demonstration!

    A friend in need – India’s arms sales to Vietnam make sense

    The growing relationship between New Delhi and Hanoi is one that offers strategic advantages to both sides. How China reacts remains to be seen.

    An Indian soldier salutes as he rides an Akash air defence system during India's Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2016. Photo: AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT

    An Indian soldier salutes as he rides an Akash air defence system during India’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2016. Photo: AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT

    India is poised to sell its sophisticated Akash missile defense system to Vietnam, the latest development in a broad strategic relationship that has grown rapidly in recent years and added a new twist to the spiraling power contest in the South China Sea. The talks, consistent with India’s ambition to be a major arms supplier, were first reported this week by the Times of India.

    The medium range surface-to-air missile, produced by New Delhi’s Ministry of Defense, can target aircraft, helicopters and drones up to 25 kilometers away at a time when China is building up aerial defenses over fixtures it claims in the contested maritime area. India has also offered to sell its Varunastra anti-submarine torpedoes to Vietnam amid heightened tensions with China.

    http://www.atimes.com/article/friend-need-indias-arms-sales-vietnam-make-sense/

     

     

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