Tag Archives: Pentagon

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 16, 2017

Don’t Fight Saudi Arabia’s War

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

By Daniel DePetris | Contributor

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

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

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

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

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

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

This would be a mistake with potentially huge ramifications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Saudi soldiers slain

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 15, 2017 6:00 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moldova sees Russian plot to derail money-laundering probe

By Matthias Williams | CHISINAU

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

The visit didn’t go as planned.

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

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

Reuters was unable to independently confirm his version of events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran behind Yemeni rebels’ explosive boats

– – Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© AFP 2017/ Paul CROCK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

F-35 firing boosts ASRAAM sales prospects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Top Indonesian fighter with IS killed in Syria

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

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

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

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

Al Qaeda Is Starting to Swallow the Syrian Opposition

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

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

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

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

Al Qaeda Is Starting to Swallow the Syrian Opposition

Moscow lends Turkey credit card to buy Russian missiles

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

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

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

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

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

Greek group claims it mailed parcel bomb to German finance minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter bomb explodes at France office of IMF, injuring 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
emAA Photo/em

AA Photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Russia Military To Practice Detecting Missiles Amid NATO Tensions

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

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

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

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

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

Kuwait approves NATO use of its territory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Korean Hackers Were Behind a Recent Major Cyber Attack

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

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

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

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

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

Taiwan military to upgrade fighters, seek stealth capability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malicious entity could be tracking phones of domestic, foreign officials

 

BY:
March 16, 2017 12:50 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 10, 2017

CHINA WARNS OF NUCLEAR FIRST STRIKE IN RESPONSE TO THAAD DEPLOYMENT

“US must pay the price”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in Tokyo and agencies in Seoul

Friday 10 March 2017 First published on Thursday 9 March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

in New York

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

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

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

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

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

Poland reacts with fury to re-election of Donald Tusk

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

in Brussels

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man arrested after injuring seven people in Düsseldorf axe attack

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

and agency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Less than half of Marine Corps aircraft are ready to fly

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hezbollah Missiles Aimed at Israel’s Nuclear Reactor

Terror leader boasts of ability to strike Dimona reactor

BY:
March 9, 2017 1:42 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

France to adapt civil rotorcraft for French military missions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DUTCH ARMED FORCES SERIOUSLY NEGLECTED: ADVICE COUNCIL

Dutch soldiers

Dutch soldiers. Photo: Countrymaster / Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pentagon hires former lobbyist for Peter Thiel’s company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Satellite Images Show Preparations for Nuclear Test at North Korean Site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 5, 2017

Tokyo calls North Korea’s latest missile launch a ‘grave threat to national security’

AP, AFP-JIJI, KYODO, STAFF REPORT

North Korea on Monday launched four ballistic missiles, three of which fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government said.

There were no immediate reports of damage to ships or aircraft in the area, Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said at a news conference in Tokyo, calling the latest missile launch a “grave threat to national security.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe separately told reporters that the missiles traveled around 1,000 km. He later said at a Diet session that the remaining missile also fell near the EEZ.

Japan has filed a protest with North Korea over the latest missile launches, according to Abe.

Suga also said the launches are in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted against North Korea, banning it from developing nuclear arms and missile technologies.

In Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported earlier, citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, that a possible intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched at 7:36 a.m. from North Korea’s northwest in an apparent protest by North Korea against a joint military drill by South Korea and the United States that began last week.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/06/national/tokyo-says-north-korea-fired-three-four-missiles-came-japans-eez/#.WLzMM5ArJD8

 

Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles

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February 27, 2017

Trump seeking $54B increase in defense spending, cuts elsewhere

President Trump plans to seek what he’s calling a “historic” $54 billion increase in defense spending, while pursuing cuts elsewhere in the federal government, as part of his upcoming budget plan.

White House budget officials announced the proposed military spending boost Monday morning, saying the president will seek a commensurate reduction in spending across other federal agencies. Minutes later, Trump previewed the move while addressing the nation’s governors at the White House.

“This budget will be a public safety and national security budget,” Trump said. He said the plan would include a “historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military.”

The president reiterated that he wants to better prepare the military to not only deter war but win wars when called to fight.

“We’ve got to win or don’t fight it at all,” Trump said.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/27/trump-seeking-54b-increase-in-defense-spending-cuts-elsewhere.html

 

REPORT

Trump Administration Poised to Collide With Russia Over Syrian Chemical Weapons

Trump Administration Poised to Collide With Russia Over Syrian Chemical Weapons

 

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

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

North Korea spy agency runs arms operation out of Malaysia, U.N. says

By James Pearson and Rozanna Latiff

It is in Kuala Lumpur’s “Little India” neighborhood, behind an unmarked door on the second floor of a rundown building, where a military equipment company called Glocom says it has its office.

Glocom is a front company run by North Korean intelligence agents that sells battlefield radio equipment in violation of United Nations sanctions, according to a United Nations report submitted to the Security Council seen by Reuters.

Reuters found that Glocom advertises over 30 radio systems for “military and paramilitary” organizations on its Malaysian website, glocom.com.my.

Glocom’s Malaysian website, which was taken down late last year, listed the Little India address in its contacts section. No one answers the door there and the mailbox outside is stuffed with unopened letters.

In fact, no company by that name exists in Malaysia. But two Malaysian companies controlled by North Korean shareholders and directors registered Glocom’s website in 2009, according to website and company registration documents.

And it does have a business, the unreleased U.N. report says. Last July, an air shipment of North Korean military communications equipment, sent from China and bound for Eritrea, was intercepted in an unnamed country. The seized equipment included 45 boxes of battlefield radios and accessories labeled “Glocom”, short for Global Communications Co.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-malaysia-arms-insight-idUSKBN1650YE

There’s a flaw in the homeland missile defense system. The Pentagon sees no need to fix it

David Willman

The Pentagon is pushing ahead with an expansion of the nation’s homeland missile defense system, despite a newly recognized deficiency that affects nearly all the system’s rocket interceptors, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

The problem threatens the performance of small thrusters attached to the interceptors. In the event of a nuclear attack, the thrusters would be relied on to steer interceptors into the paths of enemy warheads, destroying them.

 If a thruster malfunctioned, an interceptor could fly off-course and miss its target, with potentially disastrous consequences. The interceptors are the spine of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD, the nation’s primary protection against a missile strike by North Korea or Iran.

Air Force buys mysterious $15m Israeli ‘drone killer’ kits to fight DIY ISIS UAVs

  • Over the last two months coalition forces have seen one drone a day near Mosul  
  • New award will see 21 kits delivered to US forces by delay 
  • Believed the kits are able to scan for drones and the jam signals to down them

The US Air Force is spending $15m on a mysterious drone killing system from an Israeli firm.

The contract for  ‘counter-unmanned aerial systems’ will supply 21 kits, which are believed to be earmarked for dealing with the growing threat of drones from ISIS.

However, details of the kits and how they will work have not been revealed, although it is believed to be a modified version of the firm’s existing ‘drone shield’

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4258262/Air-Force-buys-15m-Israeli-drone-killer-fight-ISIS.html#ixzz4Zt7fSwHj

Former Ambassador John Bolton: Trump Needs to Renegotiate ‘One China’ Policy

‘We support the people of Taiwan. We support their continued self-government.’

BY:
February 27, 2017 4:59 am

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton on Friday urged President Donald Trump to upend four decades of precedent by renegotiating the “One China” policy that denies Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Bolton told the Washington Free Beacon in an exclusive interview that the One China policy, which was established during President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, is “ahistorical” and fails to reflect the current reality in East Asia, where natives of Taiwan overwhelmingly identify as “Taiwanese” rather than “Chinese.”

“The One China policy is inherently ambiguous,” Bolton said. “China thinks it means one thing, we think it means another.”

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/john-bolton-to-trump-renegotiate-one-china-policy/

North Korea executes 5 senior security officials over false reports, Seoul says

North Korea executed five senior security officials with anti-aircraft guns because they made false reports that “enraged” leader Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s spy agency said Monday.

The comments by the National Intelligence Service in a private briefing to lawmakers come as Malaysia investigates the poisoning death of Kim’s estranged elder half brother, Kim Jong Nam. That investigation is still going on, but South Korea says it believes Kim Jong Un ordered the assassination, which took place Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur’s airport.

The spy agency told lawmakers that five North Korean officials in the department of recently purged state security chief Kim Won Hong were executed by anti-aircraft guns because of the false reports to Kim, South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo said. It’s not clear what false reports they allegedly made, and the NIS didn’t say how it got its information.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/27/north-korea-executes-5-senior-security-officials-over-false-reports-seoul-says.html

China warns US, S. Korea of ‘consequences’ over THAAD land swap deal

China announced that Washington and Seoul will face “consequences” over a land swap deal which will allow the US to host its THAAD missile defense system on South Korean soil – a move which Beijing claims will undermine its own ballistic capabilities.

The agreement, which involves a land swap between Seoul and retail giant Lotte, was approved on Monday.

“We received a message that the board approved the exchange of land for THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) deployment,” the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a statement, as quoted by AFP.

That news was met with disapproval from China’s Foreign Ministry, with spokesman Geng Shuang claiming the system “severely disrupts regional strategic balance and jeopardizes the strategic security interests of regional countries including China.”

Beijing “will definitely take necessary measures to safeguard its security interests,” he said during a news briefing, adding that “all the consequences entailed will be borne by the US and the Republic of Korea.”

https://www.rt.com/news/378742-thaad-land-deal-china/

Iran test-fires Nasr sea-launched cruise missile during naval drills

Iran test-fires Nasr sea-launched cruise missile during naval drills
The Iranian Navy has successfully test-fired its Nasr sea-launched cruise missile, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said. The test took place during large-scale military drills stretching over an area covering 2 million sq km in the Persian Gulf.

The latest naval cruise missile, called Nasr, was test-fired during ‘Velayat 95’ naval exercises stretching from the Strait of Hormuz and Oman Sea to north of the Indian Ocean, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said, as quoted by the Fars news agency on Monday.

The Nasr was successfully launched and hit the predetermined targets, the minister added, according to Mehr news agency.

Tasnim news agency meanwhile reported that the Iranian Navy had also successfully test-fired an advanced domestically-made laser-guided missile system dubbed Dehlaviyeh, “specialized in targeting vessels and ships.”

The Dehlaviyeh anti-ship missile was reportedly tested for the first time and hit the target as well.

https://www.rt.com/news/378737-iran-tests-missile-nasr/

Iran says it test-fired missile from submarine

In latest series of launches, laser-guided missile also fired; US reimposed some sanctions after January tests

Amid tensions with the United States, Iran announced on Monday that it tested two missiles during a series of naval drills in the Persian Gulf. One was fired from a submarine, it said.

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said the Nasir missile, which he described as Iran’s latest submarine launched cruise missile, “successfully hit its target” during its test launch, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Tasnim news agency said the Dehlaviyeh, a laser-guided missile, had also been successfully tested.

It was reported back in 2012 that Iran had based the Dehlaviyeh on a Russian anti-tank missile.

The ranges of the two missiles were not given.

Cruise missiles — such as the Nasir fired in the most recent missile launches — are not covered by UN Resolution 2231, which was passed shortly after the nuclear deal with Iran was signed in July 2015 and calls on Tehran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” Iran argues that its ballistic missile program is also not covered by the resolution because it does not have a nuclear weapons program.The most recent Iranian missile firings follow the launches of a ballistic missile and cruise missile in late January — both of which are nuclear capable — with the former resulting in new US sanctions on a number of entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and a warning from US President Donald Trump that the Islamic Republic had been “put on notice” and that “nothing is off the table” in terms of a military response to perceived Iranian provocations.

However, the test is likely to be viewed in Israel and the US as another aggressive maneuver by Tehran to expand its missile program.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-says-it-test-fired-missile-from-submarine/

 

Filipino terrorists behead German hostage, release video

A German hostage in the conflict-wracked southern Philippines has been beheaded by Islamist militants, with the video being posted online by the terrorism monitoring group SITE.

In the video released on Monday, the hostage, 70-year-old Jurgen Kantner, can be seen in a jungle clearing with his hands tied behind him. He can be heard saying the words “Now he’ll kill me” before a man starts cutting Kantner’s head off with a large knife.

Kantner was being held by men loyal to Muammar Askali aka Abu Rami, a commander in the Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf, for a sum of 30 million pesos (approximately $500,000) before talks for his release collapsed on Sunday, the deadline for the ransom payment. He had been kidnapped almost two months ago when he and his wife, Sabine Merz, were cruising through the Philippines in their yacht through an area controlled by Abu Sayyaf. Merz was reportedly killed when she tried to fight back with a shotgun.

https://www.rt.com/news/378729-abu-sayyaf-behead-german-hostage/

US drone strike in Syria kills top al-Qaida leader, jihadis say

Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was implicated in deadly 1998 African embassy bombings

 

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February 26, 2017

Korea to conclude land acquisition for THAAD battery this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pentagon seeks to expand fight against Al Qaeda extremists in Somalia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran Could Supply Turbines for Crimean Power Plants Bypassing Sanctions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Russia Could Defeat the British Army ‘In an Afternoon’

February 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

© Sputnik/ Russian Defence Ministry
MILITARY & INTELLIGENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia Building Six Kilo-class Submarines for its Pacific Fleet

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia toughens stance on territorial dispute with Japan

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

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

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

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

Kurds offer land for independence in struggle to reshape Iraq

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

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

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

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

Germany seeks Israeli technology

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

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

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

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

France sends backup to Niger after 16 troops killed

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

China-North Korea ties deteriorate

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

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

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

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

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

Activity at North Korean Nuclear Facility Could Mean Another Test Imminent

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

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

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

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

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

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

By YOSHIHIRO MAKINO/ Correspondent

Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

 

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

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

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

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

Japan doubles fighter jets deployed for scrambles against China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

BY CARY HUANG

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

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

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

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

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

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

By James Pearson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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February 25, 2017

Iraqi Kurdish TV reporter killed in Mosul

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Washington Times – Friday, February 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Iran requests 950 tons of uranium from Kazakhstan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuclear weapons require uranium enriched to 80% or more.

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

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

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

Why Iran’s favorite weapon is the cyber attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top US commander for Mideast said to make secret Syria trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White House Says Further Punishment Of Iran Possible After New Sanctions  

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

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

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

 

 

Lockheed Martin Wins Contract to Support Aegis Ashore System in Poland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Attack on Syrian security forces kills at least 40

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

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

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

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

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

Yemenis’ bank accounts canceled in Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pledge is real. But is it realistic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Cyber Command boss lays out plans for next decade

Mike Rogers

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

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

Kerching!

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Nicole Stinson / Published 25th February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indian Air Force rejects British Advanced Hawk aircraft

February 23, 2017 (Photo Credit: BAE Systems)

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

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

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

Israeli, Indian defense cos to expand cooperation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Japanese Think Tank Argues for Moving Marines Off

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

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

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

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

Sea of Japan the next target for Chinese military

Confusion on Korean Peninsula fuels tension over sea

TETSURO KOSAKA, Nikkei senior staff writer

 

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

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

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

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

Pentagon Provided Intel for Iraqi Airstrikes in Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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February 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 17, 2017

Cruz to Trump: Name John Bolton as national security adviser

 “One person I think would be very, very strong is John Bolton,” Cruz told CNN
The comment comes as Trump’s national security council is facing turmoil

Washington (CNN)Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is urging President Donald Trump to name John Bolton as his national security adviser, a move that would win conservative support but would anger other Republicans over the former United Nations ambassador’s role during the Iraq War.

“One person I think would be very, very strong is John Bolton,” Cruz told CNN. “He’s someone who understands the world, he understands the threats of radical Islamic terrorism.”
The comment comes as Trump’s national security council is facing turmoil following the sudden forced resignation of Michael Flynn and the decision by retired Vice Adm. Bob Harward to turn down the job.

Trump to interview trio of candidates to replace Flynn

President Trump will interview three candidates this weekend for White House national security adviser, a position left vacant after the president called for Gen. Mike Flynn’s resignation on Monday.

Similar to the manner in which Trump conducted interviews during his transition, the president asked all three men to meet at Mar-a-Lago for separate sit-downs with him and his aides to discuss the position, according to an administration official.

Those invited include former UN Ambassador John Bolton, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. Kellogg was spotted boarding Air Force One with Trump on his way to his beachside club in West Palm Beach, Fla. and was praised by the president in a tweet early Friday morning.

Bolton was thrown into the mix on Friday after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz floated his name in an interview with CNN. The former Bush administration official had previously been under consideration for secretary of state.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-to-interview-trio-of-candidates-to-replace-flynn/article/2615206

 

Give us Kim family’s DNA or no body, Malaysian police tell North Korea

  • North Korea says it will reject autopsy results
  • Three arrests have been made after Kim’s death but no autopsy results
(CNN)In the latest twist in the bizarre murder of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Malaysia says it won’t release the body to North Korea without DNA from the Kim family.

Selangor Police Chief Abdul Samah Mat said without DNA from a next of kin, they won’t hand over Kim Jong Nam’s body or release the autopsy report, which could reveal the cause of death.

But North Korea says it will “reject” the results of a “forced” autopsy which was not witnessed by its officials, according to a statement from the country’s ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol. The ambassador demanded the immediate release of the body.

France vows to retaliate if Kremlin meddles in its elections as presidential candidate is forced to deny he’s gay following Russian media ‘smear campaign’

  • French Foreign minister says France ‘won’t accept any interference’ in elections
  • Jean-Marc Ayrault warned of ‘retaliatory measures’ in event of Russian influence
  • Comes after a leading candidate in elections accused Moscow of cyber attacks
  • Warnings come amid heightened tensions between Vladimir Putin and the West 

Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault threatened ‘retaliatory measures’ in the event of interference in upcoming presidential elections in April.

His warning comes after American intelligence accused Moscow hackers of helping Donald Trump win the US presidency.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4234538/France-vows-retaliation-Russia-meddles-elections.html#ixzz4YwmgZEI4

Trump’s choice to replace fired Mike Flynn TURNS HIM DOWN as national security advisor position remains vacant for now

  • Robert Harward was Donald Trump’s pick to succeed Mike Flynn
  • ‘Harward is conflicted between the call of duty and the obvious dysfunctionality’
  • Said to be concerned about reports Flynn’s deputies were told they could stay 

The man President Donald Trump has chosen to be his national security adviser isn’t eager to accept the offer.

Robert Harward, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral and a long-time special forces veteran, is Trump’s pick to succeed retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn, whom he fired on Monday.

But Financial Times reported Thursday afternoon that Harward has said no.

Citing two unnamed sources, the newspaper published a story describing Trump in crisis mode, trying to persuade Harward to take over a National Security Council left in limbo with Flynn’s unexpected departure.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4233168/Trump-s-choice-replace-fired-Mike-Flynn-TURNS-DOWN.html#ixzz4YwnXZ3Na

NATO Interested in Normalizing Relations With Russia – German Defense Minister

NATO is interested in establishing a stable relationship with Russia, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Friday.

MUNICH (Sputnik) — A stable relationship between the sides is important for fighting international terrorism, she asserted.

“We are interested in establishing reliable relations with Russia again,” von der Leyen said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

Also on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc is strongly in favor of dialogue with Russia from the predictable position.

Relations between Russia and NATO, which started in 1991 with Russia joining the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and the Partnership for Peace program, deteriorated in 2014 after Crimea rejoined Russia. With the start of military conflict in Ukraine, all civil and military cooperation between NATO and Russia was frozen.

Since then, the Alliance has increased its military presence in Eastern Europe, using Russia’s alleged aggression as a pretext. Moscow has repeatedly criticized NATO for deploying military facilities and troops near Russian borders.

Moscow has repeatedly voiced its protests against the NATO military buildup saying that will undermine regional stability and result in a new arms race.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201702181050805503-nato-interested-russia-ties/

 

There Is No Solution in Afghanistan

Analysis: The road to Kabul goes through Islamabad and New Delhi

BY:

The American predicament in Afghanistan is at once ridiculous and tragic. More than 8,000 U.S. troops remain in the country, prosecuting the longest war in our nation’s history. Overlapping networks of insurgent groups—most prominently the Taliban—had a good year in 2016, seizing terrain and conducting terror strikes to destabilize the U.S.-backed Kabul government. The American commander in the country wants a “few thousand” more troops. Despite the supporting role that the U.S. contingent is meant to play, casualties are still being sustained, sometimes in places with depressingly familiar names—as in Sangin, seized from the Taliban a few years ago at the expense of gallons of British and U.S. Marine blood. Two Americans were wounded there last week.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/no-solution-afghanistan/

U.S. Adversaries Closing Gap With American Aircraft Capabilities

Pentagon official: F-35 fighter jet program still vulnerable to cyber threats

A F-35 Fighter performs at the 2016 Chicago Air and Water Show in Chicago / AP

BY:
February 16, 2017 4:15 pm

U.S. adversaries are rapidly catching up to America’s fifth generation fighter aircraft capabilities—a risk that has exacerbated given ongoing cyber vulnerabilities in the F-35 fighter jet program, according to an Air Force major general.

Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., the vice commander of Air Combat Command at the Langley, Va., base, said Thursday that while the United States maintains an advantage in the stealth and weapons capacities inherent in fifth generation fighter aircraft models, adversaries are “quickly closing the gap.”

“We are trying to maximize our ability to procure fifth generation airplanes and go from a 100 percent fourth generation fleet to a significant mix of fifth generation [planes] so that we have the opportunity to operate in these hostile environments against these threats that are catching us faster than we thought they would,” Harris testified before the House Armed Services Committee.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/u-s-adversaries-closing-gap-american-aircraft-capabilities/

CIA Director Pompeo denies agency hides intelligence from Trump

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday denied allegations that the agency was hiding intelligence from President Trump.

Pompeo called reports that the agency was keeping intelligence from Trump “dead wrong.” He added that the reports damage the “integrity of thousands of professional intelligence officers.”

“The CIA does not, has not, and will never hide intelligence from the president, period. We are not aware of any instance when that has occurred,” Pompeo said in a statement Thursday in an attempt to dispute reports that the spy community is withholding information from the commander in chief.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/17/cia-director-pompeo-denies-agency-hides-intelligence-from-trump.html

Pentagon found no documents approving Flynn’s pay for Russia TV appearances

The Pentagon hasn’t found any documents indicating that Mike Flynn received authorization to accept money from a foreign government before traveling to Moscow in 2015 for a paid Russian state TV event, according to a letter from the acting Secretary of the Army.

The Pentagon finding came after lawmakers raised questions about whether the former White House national security adviser and retired U.S. Army general violated Pentagon rules that require retired officers to report income from foreign states.

Mr. Flynn accepted an invitation to Moscow in late 2015 to give a paid, sit-down interview with Russian state television network RT and to attend the channel’s 10-year anniversary gala, where he sat beside President Vladimir Putin.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/17/pentagon-found-no-documents-approving-flynns-pay-for-russia-tv-appearances.html

EU must not let US push it to increase military spending – Juncker

EU must not let US push it to increase military spending – Juncker
Europe mustn’t be pushed by the US to increase its military spending, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. Modern politics is also about humanitarian assistance and development, not only “raising defence spending,” he added.

“It [increasing military spending] has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said, speaking on the sidelines of the international Munich Security Conference on Wednesday.

Juncker added that he does not like “our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military.”

https://www.rt.com/news/377691-juncker-us-europe-military-demands/

In China, a sense of betrayal after the assassination of Kim Jong Nam

February 17 at 5:13 AM
China’s Foreign Ministry has been at its stonewalling, non-committal best this week after news of the dramatic assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea’S leader, repeating the mantra that it has “noticed relevant media reports and is closely following developments.”But behind the scenes there is a sense of shock and dismay in Beijing, officials and experts say: if indeed Kim Jong Nam was assassinated on the orders of the North Korean leader, it would be seen as an affront to the country that has afforded him protection for many years.

“China’s inner circle of government is highly nervous about this,” said Wang Weimin, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University in Shanghai.

“Kim Jong Nam’s assassination makes China more aware of how unpredictable and cruel the current North Korean regime is, as well as Kim Jong Un’s willingness to abandon China and sell it for his own benefit at any second.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-china-a-sense-of-betrayal-after-the-assassination-of-kim-jong-nam/2017/02/17/434d7626-f4f0-11e6-8873-a962f11835fb_story.html?utm_term=.b193301e7301

Russia send shockwaves to the West as Putin unveils new fighter jet in terrifying clip

RUSSIA has released footage of an advanced fighter-jet capable of travelling at more than twice the speed of sound.

The thunderous jet performs a striking demonstration of what the Su-35S is capable of.In the dramatic footage, released by the Russian Ministry of Defence, the pilot can be seen jumping into he deadly machine before shooting off into the sky.

As it speeds through the air, the pilot twists the jet with chilling manoeuvres as blasts through the air.

As the jet touches down a parachute shoots out to help it slow after reaching speeds of up to 1,500mph in the sky.

Russia fighter jetRUSSIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

The jet has the ability to rip through the air at around 1,500mph

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/768452/Russia-send-shockwaves-west-unveil-new-fighter-jet

Turkey says almost taken Syria’s Bab, war monitor cites heavy toll

By Tulay Karadeniz and Angus McDowall | ANKARA/BEIRUT

Turkey’s military said on Friday it was close to taking Syria’s al-Bab from Islamic State, but a war monitor said the jihadists still controlled 90 percent of the town itself and that shelling and air strikes had killed dozens of civilians in recent days.

Al-Bab, an Islamic State stronghold 30 km (20 miles) from the Turkish border, has been a prime target since Turkey launched an incursion last August to push the jihadists from its frontier and prevent gains by a Kurdish militia also fighting them.

Taking control of the town would deepen Turkish influence in an area of Syria where it has already effectively created a buffer zone and allow Turkish forces to press on towards Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria.

“The operation to gain complete control of the al-Bab region has neared its end and the resistance of the Daesh terror group has largely been broken,” the Turkish military statement said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based organization that monitors the war using a network of contacts, said Turkey’s “Euphrates Shield” forces had not made much progress.

Islamic State still controls 90 percent of al-Bab town itself and Turkish shelling and air strikes had killed 45 civilians, including 18 children, during the past 48 hours, the Observatory said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey-idUSKBN15W0PQ

Iran Reaches Lease Financing Deal For 77 Boeing, Airbus Planes

I write about business and economics in the Middle East

Details of the deal remain opaque at this stage and it is not clear who it has been signed with or when it will come into force. However, it is likely to be just the first of several large contracts in the coming weeks and months.

Tehran has signed deals for 100 planes from Airbus, a further 80 from Boeing and 40 turboprops from French/Italian manufacturer ATR. Local airlines have also held discussions with Russia’s Sukhoi and Brazil’s Embraer. All of the deals need to be financed in some way.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2017/02/17/iran-lease-finance-boeing-airbus/#5ff649163c51

Israel warns Hezbollah after threats to hit reactor

Israel warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Thursday against attacking the Jewish state after the leader of the Iranian-backed militant group threatened to strike its nuclear reactor.

The comments by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah marked the first time his group explicitly threatened to target the reactor in the southern Israeli town of Dimona.

Israel and Hezbollah battled to a stalemate during a month-long war in the summer of 2006. The war broke out after Hezbollah gunmen crossed into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. The ensuing conflict killed about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis before ending in a United Nations-brokered cease-fire.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/hezbollah-state-israel-palestine-peace-45534607

Israeli soldiers hit in cyberespionage campaign using Android malware

More than 100 soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces had their Android phones infected with malware by a cyberespionage group

The attack campaign started in July and continues to date, according to researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab, who cooperated in the investigation with the IDF Information Security Department.

The Israeli soldiers were lured via Facebook Messenger and other social networks by hackers who posed as attractive women from various countries like Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. The victims were tricked into installing a malicious Android application, which then scanned the phone and downloaded another malicious app that masqueraded as an update for one of the already installed applications.

http://www.cio.com/article/3171267/security/israeli-soldiers-hit-in-cyberespionage-campaign-using-android-malware.html

Grenade-dropping jihadist death drones are ‘insidious’ threat in Iraq – general

As the intense fighting to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul continues, Major General Rupert Jones has warned of the “insidious” threat posed by the low-tech aerial attacks employed alongside more conventional methods.

The enemy has tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate back into the east of the city and has indiscriminately fired mortars, rockets and artillery into liberated areas on more than 300 occasions in the last week with a characteristic disdain for human life,” he said in a briefing from Baghdad seen by the Daily Mail.

This tactic, together with their continued use of off-the-shelf commercial drones is all they have left with which to attack the east as they await their fate.

https://www.rt.com/uk/377684-iraq-mosul-isis-drones/

Will the US leave Syrian Kurdish partners for Turkey?

U.S. Chief of Joint Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford is set to visit Turkey on Feb. 17. Following the Feb. 9 visit of CIA head Michael Pompeo, Dunford is the second high-ranking U.S. official’s visit to Turkey, as part of a Middle Eastern tour.

As Pompeo’s visit was announced after a telephone conversation between President Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump, the Dunford visit was announced after a meeting between Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Feb. 15 on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels.

After Dunford’s discussions with Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar on Feb. 18, more high-ranking discussions are expected to take place between the two NATO allies: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to meet in Munich on Feb. 18 during the annual Munich Security Conference.

There is one single issue in common in all those meetings. The Turkish government wants to convince the U.S. administration to change its fighting partner in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) before Trump announces his country’s new strategy on it. Trump has given a 30-day deadline to the Pentagon to draft a new anti-ISIL strategy, with the date set to expire on Feb. 28.

Turkey says the fighting partner of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), is the Syrian sister of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. for many years. It was thanks to CIA support that the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was able to capture the PKK’s founding leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in 1999. Now Ankara is telling Washington that it was “wrong to fight a terrorist organization with the help of another one” and that if they end the collaboration with the PYD, the Turkish army and the Turkey-backed Free Syria Army (FSA) will join the U.S. to deliver a coup de grace to ISIL at their headquarters in Raqqa.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/will-the-us-leave-syrian-kurdish-partners-for-turkey.aspx?PageID=238&NID=109851&NewsCatID=409

German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears

An official watchdog in Germany has told parents to destroy a talking doll called Cayla because its smart technology can reveal personal data.

The warning was issued by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), which oversees telecommunications.

Researchers say hackers can use an insecure bluetooth device embedded in the toy to listen and talk to the child playing with it.

Manufacturer Genesis Toys has not yet commented on the German warning.

The Vivid Toy group, which distributes My Friend Cayla, has previously said that examples of hacking were isolated and carried out by specialists. However, it said the company would take the information on board as it was able to upgrade the app used with the doll.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39002142

Turkish imam spy affair in Germany extends across Europe

A German investigation into Turkey’s religious officials collecting information on its enemies may be the tip of the iceberg. DW has obtained several documents revealing Turkish activities in Germany and European states.

Stuttgart DiTiB-Moschee (picture-alliance/dpa/D. Naupold)

German police on Wednesday raided the homes of four imams alleged to have spied on the opposition for the Turkish government. The police action is part of an investigation into what documents obtained by DW show to be a broader Turkish effort to collect information across Europe on supporters of the religious movement Ankara blames for last July’s failed coup attempt.

The raids targeted the homes of four Turkish imams affiliated with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), Germany’s largest Islamic umbrella group with over 900 mosques tied to the Turkish government’s Directorate of Religion, or Diyanet.

The Federal Prosecutors Office (GBA) said in a statement no arrests were made in the raids in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Rhineland-Pfalz, which aimed to collect evidence into imams conducting alleged espionage against supporters of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for last July’s failed coup attempt.

The prosecutor’s office said the reason for the raids was related to a September order from Diyanet, a religious body tied to the Turkish prime ministry, for imams to pass information to diplomatic missions on Gulen supporters.

http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-imam-spy-affair-in-germany-extends-across-europe/a-37590672

NATO: Russia targeted German army with fake news campaign

Emails accusing German soldiers stationed in Lithuania of rape were sent to local news outlets and the parliamentary president. NATO officials allege that Russia is targeting the military alliance.

Litauen Bundeswehrsoldaten landen in Kaunas (picture-alliance/AP Images/M. Kulbis)

German soldiers stationed in Lithuania have been the target of false rape claims, German news magazine “Spiegel” first reported on Thursday. NATO diplomats told Spiegel that they viewed this as an attack aimed at undermining the presence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Eastern Europe, likely perpetrated by Russia.

Emails claiming that German soldiers had raped an underage Lithuanian girl were sent to the president of the Lithuanian parliament and various Lithuanian media outlets on February 14.

Lithuanian authorities investigated the charges and found no evidence that any of the claims made in the emails were true. “To our knowledge, Lithuanian police investigations came to the conclusion that there were neither a victim nor possible witnesses nor any perpetrators”, a spokesperson for the German ministry of defense said.

Some smaller local news outlets reported on the charges, according to Spiegel, but Lithuanian officials quickly discounted the accusations.

Lithuanian police is investigating the incident. The address from which the emails accusing the soldiers were sent no longer exists, according to the German defense ministry, but authorities are looking to track the IP-address.

http://www.dw.com/en/nato-russia-targeted-german-army-with-fake-news-campaign/a-37591978

NATO, Finland deepen cooperation on cyber defense

NATO and Finland on Thursday signed a political framework agreement on cyber defense cooperation that will allow them to better protect and strengthen their networks.

“We look forward to enhancing our situational awareness and exchanging best practices with Finland, including through dedicated points of contact for rapid information exchange on early warning information and lessons learned,” Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges, said.

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/319872-nato-finland-deepen-cooperation-on-cyber-defense

Libya requests NATO help to rebuild security institutions

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO’s chief says he has received a formal request from conflict-torn Libya to help strengthen its security institutions and that the alliance is looking into exactly what can be done.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the 28 allies could help build up the Libyan defense ministry and military command structure.

He told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels that “Libya needs that framework to be able to develop the forces and stabilize the country.”]

Stoltenberg didn’t say when the effort might start or what exactly it might entail.

http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/news-wire/libya-requests-nato-help-to-rebuild-security-institutions/article_6053d834-8f9e-5cce-831a-33945f4cfac1.html

Melted Nuclear Fuel Search Proceeds One Dead Robot at a Time

  • Third robot abandoned in search of fuel at Japan’s Fukushima
  • Melted fuel still needs to be located before removal begins

The latest robot seeking to find the 600 tons of nuclear fuel and debris that melted down six year ago in Japan’s wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant met its end in less than a day.

The scorpion-shaped machine, built by Toshiba Corp., entered the No. 2 reactor core Thursday and stopped 3 meters (9.8 feet) short of a grate that would have provided a view of where fuel residue is suspected to have gathered. Two previous robots aborted similar missions after one got stuck in a gap and another was abandoned after finding no fuel in six days.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-17/race-for-japan-s-melted-nuclear-fuel-leaves-trail-of-dead-robots

Exclusive: Japan to speed up frigate build to reinforce East China Sea – sources

By Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO

Japan plans to accelerate a warship building program to make two frigates a year to patrol the fringes of the East China Sea, where it disputes island ownership with China, three people with knowledge of the plan said.

Japan previously was building one 5,000-ton class destroyer a year, but will now make two 3,000-ton class ships a year, beginning from the April 2018 fiscal year, the people said, declining to be identified as they are not authorized to talk to the media.

It aims to produce a fleet of eight of the new class of smaller, cheaper vessels, which may also have mine-sweeping and anti-submarine capability.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-navy-frigates-idUSKBN15W13S

Spy network active in region (Malaysia)

PETALING JAYA: North Korean spies have been operating in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia over the last two decades.

According to an intelligence source, their operation in the three countries is believed to be one of the biggest networks outside North Korea, with Malaysia and Singapore being the preferred choice of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB).

The RGB is North Korea’s intelligence agency which manages the country’s clandestine operations.

To blend in and disguise themselves in Malaysia and Singapore, the highly qualified spies would double-up as engineers and technical consultants in the construction industry, and also operate Korean restaurants.

“They used the restaurants as a main front to conduct intelligence gathering and surveillance, targeting Japanese and South Korean poli­ticians, diplomats, top corporate figures and businessmen who visited or were based in these countries,” the source said.

The RGB comes under the jurisdiction of the North Korean State Security Department or State Security Ministry and reports directly to the supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/02/17/spy-network-active-in-region-north-koreas-rgb-spread-wings-over-last-two-decades/#RllGpAkZA2OTLJTd.99

China Blacklists Carfentanil, Closing A Deadly Loophole

AP

The drug is so strong and deadly, it’s been researched as a chemical weapon of warfare; police officers are warned to handle it with extreme care. The opioid carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine — but until now, it hasn’t been a controlled substance in China, where producers have been exporting it abroad.

U.S. officials are welcoming the news that China will now list carfentanil as a controlled substance, putting it in the same category as fentanyl — the less powerful opioid of which carfentanil is a variant. Fentanyl was blamed for the death of Prince last year.

Potent and addictive, fentanyl and carfentanil have played deadly roles in the opioid epidemic that has swept the U.S. and killed thousands of Americans in recent years, as the drugs have been mixed into heroin or used to create an alternative to that less powerful drug. From 2010 to 2014, officials say, heroin overdoses more than tripled in the U.S. — and part of the problem, they add, is that drug users may not realize how strong the adulterated drugs are.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/16/515544874/china-blacklists-carfentanil-closing-a-deadly-loophole

 

US and Russia agree to boost military communications: Pentagon

The US and Russian militaries agree to “enhance communications” after a meeting between their top commanders in Azerbaijan on Thursday, the Pentagon says.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford and his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov discuss military relations between the two countries as well as security in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere during their meeting in the capital Baku.

The two sides “have undertaken efforts to improve operational safety of military activities in order to decrease the prospects for crisis and avoid the risk of unintended incidents,” the Pentagon says in a statement. “The leaders further agreed to enhance communications on such stabilizing measures.”

The United States and Russia already maintain a permanent military communications line over their air operations in Syria to avoid incidents between their aircraft.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/us-and-russia-agree-to-boost-military-communications-pentagon/

 

 

A Chip Flaw Strips Away Hacking Protections for Millions of Devices

FOR THE LAST decade or so, hackers have faced a daunting challenge when they try to break into a computer: Even when they get malicious code running on a victim’s machine, they have to figure out where in the computer’s memory that code has ended up. That’s because a security protection used in Windows, Android, and every other modern operating system randomizes where programs run in a device’s memory. It turns the process of digital intrusion into something like an attempt to burglarize a house in total darkness.

But now a team of Dutch researchers has found a technique that undermines that so-called address space layout randomization, creating the You Are Here arrow that hackers need to orient themselves inside a stranger’s computer. That means any of the common memory corruption bugs found in software applications on a daily basis could lead to a much deeper takeover of a target PC or smartphone. And because the attack exploits not software but hardware, it leaves millions of devices at risk regardless of their operating system—and it can’t be fully fixed with any mere software update.

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/flaw-millions-chips-strips-away-key-hacking-defense-software-cant-fully-fix/

 

 

Dopo le forti dichiarazioni del Segretario alla Difesa americano, Jim Mattis, in occasione della riunione della Nato a Bruxelles lo scorso 15 febbraio, pubblichiamo un’anteprima dell’articolo di Stephen Bryen, già Sottosegretario alla Difesa ed ex Presidente di Finmeccanica Nord America, che comparirà nel numero in uscita del Nodo di Gordio “Le Tre Torri. Usa, Cina e Russia: i tre poli dello scacchiere geopolitico”. Il saggio di Bryen anticipa la nuova strategia relativa all’Alleanza Atlantica della nuova Amministrazione di Donald Trump.

La NATO combatterà? E per cosa?

di Stephen Bryen *

L’unica cosa di cui sono certo è che i Russi possono fare la differenza. Conoscono abbastanza bene l’entità e la capacità delle forze NATO dispiegate negli Stati Baltici e in Polonia, e sanno che la NATO, nonostante la recente frenetica attività e l’invio di carri armati e armamenti, è molto lontana dall’essere pronta. I Russi hanno scelto di fare pressione sull’area Baltica e persino su Finlandia e Svezia (entrambe fuori dall’Alleanza NATO) soprattutto per rivelare la vulnerabilità della NATO e metterne in dubbio la pretesa di proteggere i propri membri più recenti.

http://www.nododigordio.org/in-evidenza/bryen-la-nato-combattera-e-per-cosa/

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February 15, 2017

Trump promises Israel that Iran will never get bomb

Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump hailed the United States’ “unbreakable” bond with Israel on Wednesday and promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran would never be permitted to build a nuclear weapon.

Trump’s vow was designed to address Israeli concerns over the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which Netanyahu has warned expires too soon to permanently remove the threat.

“With this visit the United States, again, reaffirms our unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel,” Trump said.

“The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about,” he said.

“One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing — I mean ever — a nuclear weapon.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-promises-israel-iran-never-bomb-175254468.html

Mike Flynn’s Security Clearance Pulled, Pending a Review

U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency suspends former national security adviser’s access to classified information

Feb. 15, 2017 5:43 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has suspended former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn’s access to classified information pending a review, according to a spokesman for the agency, which was once headed by Mr. Flynn.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mike-flynns-security-clearance-pulled-pending-a-review-1487198589

 

Trump’s choice for national security adviser had early exposure to Iran

By Yeganeh Torbati and Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As a teenager in the early 1970s retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward played football and basketball, was popular with classmates and, like many American high school students, was known for partying.

But Harward, to whom President Donald Trump has offered the post of U.S. national security adviser, to succeed Michael Flynn, spent his teenage years not in his native Rhode Island, but in pre-revolutionary Iran, where his father, a Navy captain, advised the Iranian military.

During his teenage years, Harward lived in an Iranian neighborhood, attended school with Iranian-American students and played sports against Iranian teams. Those experiences gave him an unusual familiarity with Iran’s culture and people in the years before the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the pro-American Shah.

“During very formative years of his life, he was exposed to everything that was Iran,” said Joseph Condrill, who knew Harward, known by his classmates as Bobby, when they were students at the Tehran American School. “Iran was one of our homes, and we got to know the Iranian people very well, in a very intimate way.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-choice-national-security-adviser-had-early-exposure-175814852.html

Kim Jong-nam death: Malaysian police arrest female suspect

Police say woman carrying Vietnamese passport detained in connection to death of North Korean leader’s half-brother

Malaysian authorities have detained a woman holding a Vietnamese passport in connection with the death of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

CCTV pictures taken from Malaysia airport showing one of the two women.

CCTV pictures taken from Malaysia airport showing one of the two women. Photograph: YTN

The Malaysia inspector general said a 28-year-old woman, Doan Thi Huong, had been positively identified from CCTV footage and was alone at the time of her arrest.

No other details were immediately available. Malaysian police were not available for comment.

Earlier on Wednesday, South Korea’s spy agency said two women believed to be North Korean operatives had poisoned the 45-year-old exile in a shopping concourse at Kuala Lumpur international airport.

Kim, who had not yet passed through security, was preparing to take a late-morning flight on Monday from the Malaysian capital to his home in Macau when he was allegedly attacked, according to South Korean MPs briefed by security services.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/15/kim-jong-nam-malaysian-police-arrest-female-suspect-over-death

North Korea tries to BLOCK autopsy of Kim Jong-Un’s assassinated half-brother as a female Pyongyang spy posing as a Vietnamese woman is arrested over the poisoning

  • Kim Jong-nam died on way to hospital after being poisoned in Kuala Lumpur 
  • The 45-year-old was killed by two female assassins, reports in Malaysia claim
  • US sources said a fountain pen may have been used to spray the deadly poison
  • It is understood he feared for his life having fallen out of favour in his homeland
  • CCTV footage shows a suspect wearing a shirt with a LOL slogan on the front
  • A woman with a Vietnamese passport has since been arrested over the death

North Korea has tried to block an autopsy of Kim Jong-Un‘s assassinated half-brother after ordering Malaysia to hand over his body, it emerged today.

Kim Jong-Nam was reportedly killed by two female Pyongyang operatives who grabbed him from behind and poisoned him at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday.

Stooges from Kim Jong-Un’s North Korean embassy were seen in a car with blacked-out windows outside the city morgue where his body was taken – and waited there so long they eventually ordered a KFC meal, it has been claimed.

Officials including North Korea’s ambassador, Kang Chol, spent hours failing to convince Malaysian authorities to hand over the body and their demands to stop the autopsy being performed were also ignored.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4225822/Kim-Jong-s-playboy-half-brother-poisoned-assassins.html#ixzz4YmdPY500 Pentagon might propose sending ground troops to Syria

  • The idea would significantly alter US military operations in Syria
  • Trump would need to approve the decision

Washington (CNN)The Defense Department might propose that the US send conventional ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time to speed up the fight against ISIS, CNN has learned.

“It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time,” one defense official told CNN.

But the official emphasized that any decision is ultimately up to President Donald Trump, who has ordered his defense secretary to come up with a proposal to combat ISIS before the end of the month.

The move would significantly alter US military operations in Syria if approved and could put troops on the ground within weeks.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/15/politics/pentagon-considering-recommending-combat-troops-in-syria/

At least five killed and dozens wounded in Saudi-led airstrike on Yemen funeral

According to Houthi insurgents and medical officials five bodies were recovered from the scene, mostly women, and that the toll was likely to rise

Yemenis walk through a market in the old city of Sanaa on 11 February 2017.
Yemenis walk through a market in the old city of Sanaa on 11 February 2017. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Five women were killed and dozens of people were wounded in a Saudi-led airstrike on a funeral near Yemen’s rebel-held capital, according to Houthi insurgents and medical officials.

A second airstrike hit first aid workers who had responded to the strike on Arhab, some 40 km (25 miles) from Sanaa, according to the head of the Houthis’ media office, Abdel-Rahman al-Ahnomi.

Medical officials said five bodies were recovered from the scene, mostly women, and that the toll was likely to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Abdullah Sherif, a volunteer first responder, said he helped pull the bodies of four women from the rubble and that rescuers were still looking for survivors. He said there was only one airstrike, not two. Conflicting accounts are common in the aftermath of attacks.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/15/yemen-funeral-saudi-led-airstrike-houthi-insurgents

Syrian Kurdish groups expect U.S. support, will fight any Turkish advance

By Ellen Francis | BEIRUT
Syrian Kurdish militias and their allies expect continued U.S. support for their war against Islamic State in northern Syria and will fight Turkish forces if they advance towards Raqqa, a Kurdish leader said.

Top Kurdish politician Ilham Ahmed spoke to Reuters from northeast Syria after returning from Washington where she pressed the new United States administration for political and military support.

She co-chairs the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance that includes the Kurdish YPG militia and has emerged as the main Syrian partner of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

“In order to eliminate Daesh, there will definitely be military aid,” she said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. Some U.S. officials also believed support could be increased, Ahmed said, describing her meetings as positive.

The SDF, dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, has seized vast territory along the Syria-Turkey border. It also includes Arab and other groups in the north.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-kurds-idUSKBN15U24R

 

Any Syria Settlement Meetings Excluding Kurds Doomed to Fail – Turkish HDP Party

© AP Photo/ Lefteris Pitarakis
MIDDLE EAST

21:42 15.02.2017(updated 21:44 15.02.2017) Get short URL
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Any negotiations on the Syrian crisis settlement without the involvement and participation of the Kurds are doomed to failure and will not give any progress, Turkish parliament member from the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Osman Baydemir told Sputnik on Wednesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier on Wednesday, the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Asya Abdullah said that the Syrian Kurds were ready to take part in the conference on Syria in Geneva, but had not received an invitation to the event so far.

“Unfortunately, the meetings in Astana and Geneva are incomplete. Everyone should clearly understand that without the participation of the Kurds in all negotiations on Syria, the talks are doomed to failure and will not be successful. Unfortunately, Turkey plays a big role [in Syria settlement] and does not allow the Kurds to sit at the negotiating table,” Baydemir said.

Baydemir, who earlier in the day represented Turkish Kurdistan at the pan-Kurdish event, titled “The struggle for influence in the Middle East: the current state and possible outcomes,” hosted by Russia’s Federal National-Cultural Kurdish Autonomy, called on Russia to ensure Kurds’ participation in all Syria peace negotiations.

The representatives of the Syrian Kurds are not participating in second round of Astana talks on Syria crisis settlement between the Syrian government and the armed opposition which started earlier on Wednesday and is expected to last through Thursday.

Donald Trump lashes out at spy agencies ‘illegally’ leaking, after it is revealed his campaign ‘had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence’

Members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, it has been reported, as pressure grows on the president to explain his relationship with Moscow.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies discovered the alleged communications in phone records and intercepted calls around the same time they uncovered evidence that Russia was trying to interfere with the US election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, current and former American officials told The New York Times.

The officials said there was no evidence the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to disrupt the election, the newspaper reported.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/14/donald-trump-knew-michael-flynn-misled-officials-russia-calls/

Iran growing network to train foreign terrorists, dissident group says

– The Washington Times – 

Iran’s hard-line Islamic regime has escalated its overseas terrorist operations, establishing a network of over a dozen internal training camps for foreign fighters, the regime’s largest resistance group said at a press conference on Tuesday in Washington.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran issued its intelligence report specifying the camps’ locations and the countries represented.

The council’s largest member is the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK). It boasts an extensive spy network inside the mullah-run government, including the all-powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its special forces wing, the Quds force, and has a track record of exposing clandestine parts of the Iranian national security apparatus.

The Quds force played a significant role in the Iraq War by training Iraqi Shiites on how to make bombs that killed scores of American troops. The Quds force is now directing thousands of Iraqi Shiite militia members in Iraq, some of whom have gone to Syria to fight for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/14/iran-growing-network-to-train-foreign-terrorists-d/

Russia: ‘We’re not returning our territory’ Crimea to Ukraine

Story highlights

  • Russia’s declaration comes ahead of first meeting between top diplomats
  • Statement follows reports of Trump campaign advisers’ constant contact with Russia

(CNN)Russia’s Foreign Ministry has indicated that it intends to keep Crimea and not return it to Ukraine because it considers it to be part of Russia.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Wednesday during a weekly news conference: “We’re not returning our territory. Crimea is part of the Russian Federation.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that Trump had been taking a tough line with Russia and that he expected Moscow to withdraw from the region, which it occupied following a “full-scale invasion” in 2014.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/15/europe/russia-foreign-ministry-crimea-ukraine/

PUTIN’S WARNING: Russia shows off menacing amphibious vehicle after NATO deploys troops

THE KREMLIN has shown off Russia’s ability to stage amphibious beach landings as an apparent warning shot at the West amid a huge Nato military deployment.

’s forces posted a video online showing two menacing tanks storming a breach, believed to be in Ukraine, in a show of strength, at a time of heightened tensions on Russia’s border with Europe.The video, released by the Russian defence ministry, shows the high-tech tanks descending on the beach from a vessel more than 100 metres from the shore during the training exercise carried out by troops from the Baltic Fleet.

The tanks can be seen driving into the water before emerging onto dry land just moments later.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/767396/Vladimir-Putin-Russia-amphibious-vehicle-video-NATO-Baltic-deployment

Russia is Working on a New Stealth Fighter

Russia’s RSK-MiG is working on a new lightweight fifth-generation stealth fighter to replace the Mikoyan MiG-29 and MiG-35 Fulcrum series fighters.

Called the Liogkiy Mnogofunktsionalniy Frontovoi Samolyet (LMFS)—or Light Multi-Function Frontal Aircraft in English—United Aircraft Corporation is developing the new aircraft out of its own funds, reports aviation journalist Piotr Butowski in the French-language trade journal Air & Cosmos.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russia-working-new-stealth-fighter-19434

Jordan to Take Active Part in All Technical, Plenary Meetings on Syria in Astana

According to a source in the Jordanian delegation, Jordan will be actively participating in all technical and plenary meetings at Astana talks on Syria.

ASTANA (Sputnik) – Jordan will be actively participating in all technical and plenary meetings at Astana talks on Syria, a source in the Jordanian delegation told Sputnik.

“Jordan will take an active part in all technical and plenary meetings in Astana,” the source said.

https://sputniknews.com/world/201702151050694496-jordan-astana-syria/

German Army Continues to Swallow Its Neighbors

Czech Republic and Romania are sending major chunks of their armies to the Bundeswehr.

Czech and Romanian brigade will be integrated into divisions of the German army. The agreement is to be signed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers tomorrow. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), which broke the story on February 2, wrote, “The Bundeswehr is developing into the leading NATO army in Europe.”

The agreement is the most dramatic of a series of arrangements Germany is negotiating to deepen its cooperation with other countries. The EU Observer summarized the FAZ’s report, noting, “The longer-term strategy would turn the Bundeswehr into the leading NATO army in Europe, with small countries integrating their military forces into the German command structures.”

https://www.thetrumpet.com/article/14586.2.0.0/world/military/german-army-continues-to-swallow-its-neighbors

 

First Daesh Tank Attack in Iraq May Indicate Existence of ‘Vile Criminal Racket’

Commenting on the recent reports of the first documented Daesh tank attack against the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Russian defense analyst Vladimir Bogatyrev suggested that the heavy weaponry may not be mere war trophies, and that the jihadists could be acquiring the war machines through some sort of “disgusting criminal racket.”

On Monday, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) reported that the Daesh militants used tanks in their attack against them in northern Iraqi Sinjar mountains near the border with Syria.

“The attack, which targeted militia’s units in Ain Talaui, Ain al-Hasan, Ash sharai, was launched by 200 members of Daesh, 50 of whom has been eliminated. During the attack, Daesh used tanks which have become the first [documented] case of use of such weaponry by Daesh terrorists,” the militia told Al-Manar broadcaster

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201702151050693204-daesh-iraq-tank-attack/

Iran Defeats U.S. Navy In Defiant Animated Film

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

DUBAI (Reuters) – A full-length animated film depicting an armed confrontation between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. navy is soon to open in Iranian cinemas, amid rising tensions over President Donald Trump’s hardening rhetoric against Tehran.

The director of the “Battle of Persian Gulf II”, Farhad Azima, said that it was a remarkable coincidence that the release of the film – four years in the making – coincided with a “warmongering” president sitting in the White House.

“I hope that the film shows Trump how American soldiers will face a humiliating defeat if they attack Iran,” Azima told Reuters in a telephone interview from the city of Mashhad in eastern Iran.

http://www.oann.com/iran-defeats-u-s-navy-in-defiant-animated-film/

Germany investigates imams over alleged spying for Turkey: report

Members of Islamic association Ditib have sent intelligence to Turkey’s state institution for religious affairs, according to German media.

Authorities have searched the homes of members of the Turkish Islamic association Ditib in connection with an investigation into imams who are accused of spying on suspected Fethullah Gülen supporters in Germany.

According to a Spiegel Online report published Wednesday, members of Cologne-based Ditib spied on religious community members and German teachers on behalf of Diyanet, Turkey’s directorate for religious affairs.

More than 900 mosques fall under the auspices of the Islamic association, which is controlled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

http://www.politico.eu/article/germany-investigates-imams-over-alleged-spying-for-turkey-report/

MERKEL SAVAGED: Italy’s fury over refusal to honour Amri cops over ‘political correctness’

MAJOR crimes committed by migrants are constantly being “covered up” by the German government – yet the country will not honour officers who risked their own lives to kill a terrorist, an Italian newspaper has furiously claimed.

Rapes, murders and terror plots have been kept from the general public for weeks, or played down in press statements from Angela Merkel’s office, a political commentator has claimed.When the Freiburg teenager was raped and thrown in the river Dreisam by an Afghan by an asylum seeker – it took weeks for the media to be informed.

Meanwhile, a terror attack planned for the Christmas market in the city of Ludwigshafen in early December was stopped when a 12-year-old Iraqi boy was arrested – but again the media was not told.

Now Italians are furious that Germany has decided against awarding any honours to Cristian Movio and Luca Scatà who bravely shot dead terrorist Anis Amri.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/767339/Angela-Merkel-Italy-fury-Germany-refusal-Anis-Amri-cops

EU Army: Germany Leads new Air Force with France, Defence Initiatives with Four EU Member StatesTHIERRY MONASSE/AFP/Getty Images

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/02/15/eu-army-germany-joint-air-force-france-submarines-norway/

Japan protests Russia giving names to isles in territory dispute

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Japan has lodged a protest with Russia for naming three uninhabited islets in the disputed Northern Territories mainly after Soviet-era politicians and military commanders.

“It is a highly regrettable decision because it does not concur with our nation’s position,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Feb. 14.

The Russian government in 2010 started to name uninhabited isles in the Kurile island chain northeast of Hokkaido between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean, but progress has been slow.

The southern part of the chain forms Japan’s Northern Territories–the Habomai islets and the islands of Shikotan, Kunashiri and Etorofu–which were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II. Japan has since been demanding that Moscow return the islands.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702150046.html

Poison is just one tool for North Korea’s highly trained spies, defectors say

LINDSAY MURDOCH

 

Kim Jong Nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has been killed in Malaysia, according to South Korean government sources. Julian Satterthwaite reports.

Poison pens and torch guns are part of the arsenal of North Korea’s spies who receive special privileges in the secretive nation where 28 million people are suffering in poverty, defectors say.

“We were taught to be ready to die for the Kim regime and if caught, to make sure we were not taken alive,” said Kim Dong–shik, a defector who was trained as a spy and infiltrated South Korea before he was shot in Seoul.

Suspicion surrounding the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged 46 year-old half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Monday, has fallen on the country’s huge spy network.

 

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/89441567/Poison-is-just-one-tool-for-North-Koreas-highly-trained-spies-defectors-say

Lift off! India successfully launches 104 satellites from a single rocket – almost TRIPLE the previous record set by Russia

  • The rocket carried a big satellite for Earth observation and 103 ‘nano satellites’
  • Russia held the previous record after launching 39 satellites at once in 2014
  • On board were 88 satellites belonging to a tech start-up hoping to capture an image of the entire Earth every day 

In a new world record, India’s space agency successfully launched 104 satellites from a single rocket this morning.

The rocket blasted off from the southern spaceport of Sriharikota said India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Its famously frugal space agency is looking to gain power and prestige in the commercial space race.

It latest achievement surpasses Russia, the previous record holders, who launched 39 satellites in a single mission in June 2014.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4226900/India-launches-104-satellites-single-rocket.html#ixzz4YmfKU7xX

THAAD may be deployed in Taiwan: HK media

Hong Kong magazine published article by former Taiwanese naval officer saying THAAD may be deployed in Taiwan

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As South Korea’s defense ministry strives to complete the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system by the end of this year, Hong Kong media reports that the US military also plans to sell the system to Taiwan to jointly establish an East Asian “mini-NATO” anti-missile network with Japan and South Korea.

The Hong Kong-based magazine Asia Week (亞洲週刊) published excerpts of an article written by former Taiwanese naval commander Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩) titled, “U.S. Military Rumored to be Planning to Deploy THAAD System in Taiwan,” asserting that in order to counter the ballistic missiles positioned in southern China aimed at Guam, Taiwan would be an ideal location to set up a THAAD system to intercept the Chinese missiles while still in the boost phase in the airspace over Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, and Nantou counties.

THAAD is an anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short and medium range missiles by firing projectiles to intercept and destroy the incoming missiles with kinetic energy, thus minimizing the risk of the enemy warhead exploding.

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3095284

Pentagon hackers-for-hire take just 4 hours to find critical vulnerability in sensitive system

 

The Pentagon’s cybersecurity swat team has hosted highly-publicized challenges to find flaws in department and military branch websites, but it also recently orchestrated a more secret, complex project.

The Defense Digital Service wanted to hire outside researchers to root out vulnerabilities in systems carrying sensitive department data — but without worrying about compromising the data, or getting the researchers in trouble. And in January, a group vetted by the company Synack descended on copies of two sensitive department systems to look for ways to break them.

The researchers found their first critical vulnerability in four hours, said Synack co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Mark Kuhr in an interview with FedScoop. Verifying it was accurate and valid, they turned it over to the government within the first 24 hours.

https://www.fedscoop.com/pentagon-hackers-hire-take-just-4-hours-find-critical-vulnerability-sensitive-system/

Bill orders Pentagon to fix knowledge gap in National Guard, reserve cyber capabilities

 

When it comes to defending the country from cyber attacks, Defense officials have made abundantly clear that they plan to leverage the military’s National Guard and reserve components as much as possible, including, most recently, by tasking the Army Guard and Reserve to build 21 cyber teams on top of the 133 U.S. Cyber Command had planned as part of its Cyber Mission Force.

But those cyber protection teams make up only a slice of the cyber capabilities scattered across 54 states and territories that could theoretically be called upon as first responders in the event a major cyber incident happened somewhere on U.S. soil. The trouble is, DoD has no central database that tracks exactly what those capabilities are, and there are no immediate plans to build one.

That would change under legislation that’s just been introduced by four senators who argue the lack of such a database is a major gap in the department’s readiness to support civil authorities, especially considering the breadth and depth of cyber expertise already resident in the Guard and reserve, where many service members are IT and cyber professionals in their civilian careers.

http://federalnewsradio.com/dod-reporters-notebook-jared-serbu/2017/02/bill-orders-pentagon-fix-knowledge-gap-national-guard-reserve-cyber-capabilities/

 

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