Tag Archives: Taiwan

March 21, 2017

Military Cooperation Between Russia, China Hits Three-Decade High

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

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

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

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

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

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

War preparations come as Nordic country reintroduces military conscription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

James Comey

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

March 20, 2017 6:09 pm

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

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

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

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

RSAF’s new drone Heron 1 now combat-ready

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Israeli drone crashes in Syria, circumstances unclear

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Moscow ‘knows nothing about’ reported April visit by Tillerson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Shin Bet: Hamas stealing Gaza aid from Turkish charities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Poland hands 4-year prison term for spying for Russia

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March 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Thief Knew What He Was After


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



3 US soldiers shot in Afghanistan ‘insider attack’

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Israel explains Arrow intercept of Syrian SAM

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

It named the man as Yasser Hussien Assayed.


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

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

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

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

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



Israel to Declare Air Defense Shield Fully Operational: Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Iran’s third Airbus delivery postponed

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

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

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

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

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


Iraq buys fighters with Israeli radars

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

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



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

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

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

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


Juncker warns Turkey death penalty is ‘red line’ issue

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

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


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

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


Why Chabahar Deal is so Important for India?

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

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

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

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

Fierce fighting erupts in Damascus as rebels, government forces clash

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

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


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


Taiwan confirms China’s deployment of DF-16 missiles

2017/03/20 16:15:21

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

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

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

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




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March 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


US admits Syria airstrike that killed 46 but denies targeting mosque

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Malicious entity could be tracking phones of domestic, foreign officials

Adam Kredo

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

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

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

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


Netanyahu: Syria raids targeted ‘advanced’ Hezbollah arms

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

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

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

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

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

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


Russia summons Israeli envoy following IDF strikes in Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Russia announces deepest defence budget cuts since 1990s

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

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

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

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



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

Anshel Pfeffer Mar 18, 2017 1:00 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Iran Challenges Need to Ship Out Excess Material Under Nuclear Deal

By Francois Murphy and Shadia Nasralla

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Turkish opposition TV starts broadcasts from Germany

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Arti TV is available online and via satellite.


Montenegro accession to NATO: It is McConnell’s move

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

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

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

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

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

Absolute US support

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

Montenegro accession to NATO: It is McConnell’s move

Trump says Germany owes ‘vast sums’ to NATO

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

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

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

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

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



Russian company that paid Flynn deemed ‘unsuitable’ by Pentagon


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March 15, 2017

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



Hackers to be charged in Yahoo security breach

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

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

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


13 arrested for ‘deep corruption’ at Israeli Aerospace Industries

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

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

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

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

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

IAI said it would cooperate with the probe.


Syria conflict: Suicide bomber targets Damascus courthouse

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

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

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

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

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


US demands UN pull report accusing Israel of apartheid

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

Navy officers indicted for fraud, bribery

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

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

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

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

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



Palestinian woman shot during suspected car-ramming attempt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Iran vows to ‘liberate’ Golan Heights

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

Contact Editor

Chana Roberts

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

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

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

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

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


Iran sends destroyer and warship to the Gulf of Aden

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

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

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


Explosion hits security convoy in southeast Turkey

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

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

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

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

Ambulances rushed to the scene following the blast.


EU says Turkey ‘completely detached from reality’

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  • Accounts hijacked included the European Parliament and UK health department

  • Several news outlets also had there verified accounts hacked 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Russia helping China build hypersonic weapons?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poland’s new weapons and delayed tenders

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


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March 14, 2017

Defense Secretary Mattis withdraws Patterson as choice for undersecretary for policy

March 14 at 12:03 PM
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has withdrawn retired senior diplomat Anne W. Patterson as his choice for undersecretary for policy after the White House indicated unwillingness to fight what it said would be a battle for Senate confirmation.

U.S. officials said that two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), were strongly opposed to Patterson’s nomination because she served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 2011 to 2013, a time when the Obama administration supported an elected government with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood that was ultimately overthrown by the Egyptian military.

The withdrawal leaves Mattis with a still-empty bench of Trump-appointed senior officials, a situation that stretches across the administration as Cabinet secretaries have not chosen, or the White House has not approved, nominees. Although Obama administration holdovers remain in a few jobs, after eight weeks in office, President Trump has not nominated a single high official under Cabinet rank in the Defense or State departments.



Russian special forces sent to back renegade Libyan general – reports

Deployment just over border in Egypt may be in support of Khalifa Haftar and aimed at gaining leverage over Libya’s eventual ruler

in Moscow and Reuters

Russia appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya in recent days, according to US, Egyptian and diplomatic sources, in a move that adds to US concerns about Moscow’s deepening role in Libya.

The US and diplomatic officials said any such Russian involvement might be part of an attempt to support the Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, who suffered a setback with an attack on 3 March by the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) on oil ports controlled by his forces.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the US had observed what appeared to be Russian special operations forces and drones at Sidi Barrani, about 60 miles (100km) from the Egypt-Libya border.

Egyptian security sources offered more detail, describing a 22-member Russian special forces unit, but declined to discuss its mission. They added that Russiaalso used another Egyptian base farther east in Marsa Matrouh in early February.


Obama White House Blocked Needed U.S. Arms Sale to Taiwan

Trump set to sell more arms

The Obama administration blocked a $1 billion arms sale to Taiwan in December that was needed to improve the island’s defenses despite approval from the State Department and Pentagon, according to Trump administration officials.

The scuttling of the arms package was a set back for U.S. and Taiwanese efforts to bolster defenses against a growing array of Chinese missiles and other advanced weaponry deployed across the 100-mile Taiwan Strait.

The action coincided with a controversial pre-inaugural phone call Dec. 2 between then-President-elect Trump and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

It could not be learned if the arms package, which was ready to be announced publicly in December was derailed by the Obama administration because of the phone call.

The new Trump administration is now preparing to provide more and better defensive arms to Taiwan, said administration officials familiar with internal discussions of the arms sale.


Dutch PM to Turkey: Sanctions talk ‘bizarre,’ Netherlands has more reasons to be ‘very angry’

“I continue to find it bizarre that in Turkey they’re talking about sanctions when you see that we have reasons to be very angry about what happened this weekend,” Rutte told RTL Late Night on Monday.

He noted that Ankara’s move to freeze diplomatic contacts with the Netherlands was “not too bad” but inappropriate.

Over the weekend the Dutch government denied a landing permit to Turkey’s foreign minister, who was due to deliver a speech — in support of April’s referendum to expand presidential powers in Turkey — to Turks living in the Netherlands. Later, another Turkish minister was prevented from not only giving a speech, but also entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, where she was to address a crowd of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters.

In response, Turkey severed diplomatic ties with the Netherlands, banning the Dutch ambassador from entering Turkey, halting diplomatic flights and suspending high-level government meetings. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the sanctions would apply until the Netherlands takes steps “to redress” the actions that Ankara views as a grave insult. Angered by the treatment of Turkish officials, President Erdogan over the weekend also compared the actions of the Netherlands and Germany – which also recently prevented Turkish ministers from addressing rallies – to those of Nazis. On Monday, Erdogan said Turkey will challenge the Netherlands in the European Court of Human Rights.


Russian AF Trainees To Fly Diesel-engined Yak-152 Propeller Aircraft

Our Bureau
07:20 AM, March 14, 2017

Deputy Defence Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov
A +

The Russian Air Force trainees will fly Yak-152 propeller aircraft once the tests on the aircraft are complete, Deputy Defence Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov said during his visit to Irkutsk Aviation Plant – subsidiary of Irkut Corporation.

Yuri Borisov viewed the production progress of Su-30SM multirole fighters and Yak-130 combat trainers, as well as manufacturing process of a new Yak-152 primary trainer aircraft.

“Under the long-term contracts with Irkut Corporation the Ministry of Defence will receive 17 Su-30SM and 10 Yak-130 aircraft this year,” Yury Borisov said.

Yuri attended the test flight of the new Yak-152 aircraft. “The impressions from the flight are most favourable,” said Yury Borisov. He also mentioned that after the tests are completed, the Defence Ministry will sign a contract on this primary training aircraft for cadet flight schools.

“In general we are satisfied with the fulfilment of the state defense order and with the quality of the enterprise’s products,” noted Deputy Defence Minister, summing up the visit to the plant of Irkut Corporation.


Palestinian tried to cause gas blast near crowded Jerusalem pub — police

East Jerusalem resident allegedly opened gas tanks, damaged piping and threw lit cigarette into the fumes

A Palestinian man has been arrested on suspicion of trying to cause an explosion in central Jerusalem by tampering with gas tanks and piping and then throwing a lit cigarette into the fumes.
A gag order was lifted Monday after a preliminary indictment was served on the man — an East Jerusalem resident in his 30s — accusing him of willful damage to property, attempted arson and attempted destruction of property with explosive material.

Defector: North Korea’s next nuclear test could lead to collapse

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author March 14 (UPI) — The senior North Korea diplomat who defected to the South from Pyongyang’s Embassy in London said Kim Jong Un‘s nuclear ambitions could bring about state collapse.

Thae Yong-ho, who recently compared Kim to the Roman emperor Nero, said North Korea is headed down a dangerous path as it seeks recognition as a nuclear weapons state like “India or Pakistan,” Voice of America reported Tuesday.

“The Kim Jong Un regime will never give up nuclear weapons,” Thae said.

The high-profile defector added North Korea could “fall apart” if the regime decides to conduct a major nuclear test at its Punggye-ri nuclear site, where Pyongyang conducts tests of weapons of mass destruction.

Recent satellite images show tunnel digging continues at the site, which lies below the 800-meter Mount Mantap.

According to 38 North, the activity indicates North Korea may be prepared to conduct additional underground nuclear tests.


U.S. carrier joins South Korea drills, North Korea warns of ‘merciless’ strikes

By Hongji Kim and Sang-gyu Lim | ABOARD THE USS CARL VINSON

As the USS Carl Vinson plowed through seas off South Korea on Tuesday, rival North Korea warned the United States of “merciless” attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during U.S.-South Korean drills.

F-18 fighter jets took off from the flight deck of the nuclear-powered carrier in a dramatic display of U.S. firepower amid rising tension with the North, which has alarmed its neighbors with two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since last year.

“While this is a routine deployment for the Carl Vinson strike group, really the centerpiece for us … is this exercise we’re doing with the ROK navy called ‘Foal Eagle’,” Rear Admiral James W. Kilby, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 1, told reporters, referring to South Korea as the Republic of Korea.

North Korea said the arrival of the U.S. strike group in the seas off the east of the Korean peninsula was part of a “reckless scheme” to attack it.


Toshiba pushes sale of nuclear unit Westinghouse as crisis deepens

By Makiko Yamazaki and Taiga Uranaka | TOKYO

Toshiba Corp (6502.T) is ‘actively considering’ a sale and other strategic options for U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse, the group said on Tuesday, as it expanded a probe into problems there that caused it to miss an earnings deadline for a second time.

The Japanese conglomerate said it believed it could find buyers for a majority stake in Westinghouse despite the potential for future losses as the unit had a stable fuel and services business.

But Chief Executive Satoshi Tsunakawa sidestepped questions about a potential Chapter 11 filing for Westinghouse, saying only there were various options. Sources have said bankruptcy lawyers have been hired as an exploratory step.

A sale would represent the latest in a series of drastic steps as Toshiba grapples with a multibillion dollar financial maelstrom stemming from Westinghouse’s ill-fated purchase of a U.S. nuclear power plant construction company in 2015.

It has already put up most or even all of its prized memory chip business for sale to cope with an upcoming $6.3 billion writedown for the nuclear business and to create a buffer for potential losses down the road.


Facebook tells developers to not use data for surveillance

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March 6, 2017

Iran Launched Ballistic Missiles, U.S. Officials Say

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

By Curt Mills | Staff Writer

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



Iran: The story of proxy militias

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

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

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

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

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

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


Japan Moves to Highest Alert Level After North Korea Fires Missiles

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

What Is Known About Missiles Fired by North Korea?

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

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

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

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



Juppé says he will not replace Fillon in French presidential race

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

in Paris

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

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

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

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


Iran indicts ex-nuke negotiator likely on suspicion of espionage

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Isabel Coles and Maher Chmaytelli

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

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

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

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

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


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

Russian cruiser Moskva. Wikimedia Commons/Mil.ru

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

Bleda KurtdarcanBarın Kayaoğlu

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Tensions Rise In Iraq As Kurdish Forces Seize Oil Pipeline

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

Germany’s surpluses larger, and its industries more competitive

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

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

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

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


Germany Disagrees with Italy, France over Defense Fund Financing


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

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

Germany rejects Franco-Italian proposal on Defense Eurobonds

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

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

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

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


NATO battalion battle group to start moving to Estonia

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

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

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


EU should avoid duplicating Nato, says Michael Fallon

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

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

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

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

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


[Editor’s Note: Europe has gone mad.]

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Pentagon Blocks Littoral Combat Ship Overrun From a GAO Report

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


China Trying To Crush South Korea’s Economy

I write about Asia, especially the Chinese economy.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Taiwan Risks Beijing Backlash Over South China Sea Patrols

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

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

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



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March 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sweden to reintroduce conscription amid rising Baltic tensions

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

Thursday 2 March 2017 Last modified on Thursday 2 March 2017

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


New American Spy Satellite Launches on Classified Mission

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Iranian film hails demise of US Navy in imagined Gulf battle

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

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

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

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


Navy CO Fired After Ship Runs Aground in Japan

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The revelation has apparently sparked fresh fears of conflict.

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


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

March 1, 2017

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

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

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


Cement multinational: deals made with armed groups in Syria

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March 1, 2017

Believe in America: Trump reboots his presidency with condemnation of hatred, a rousing vision of what country can be by 250th anniversary of independence and a heartbreaking appearance by the widow of SEAL hero whose father snubbed him

  • President Trump addressed both houses of Congress in a Joint Session just over a month into his presidency 
  • New U.S. leader channeled Kennedy to speak of the ‘courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts’ 
  • But bluntly political speech also tells the House and the Senate to take action on his agenda  
  • He told them to ‘increase funding for our veterans,’ pass ‘historic tax reform’, ‘repeal and replace Obamacare,’ and ‘help ensure new parents have paid family leave’
  • Most electrifying moment of address lasting slightly over one hour was when he paid tribute to William ‘Ryan’ Owens, SEAL killed on raid in Yemen last month
  • The SEAL’s widow Carryn Owens sat beside Ivanka Trump and cried as the divided Congress united for the longest ovation of the evening
  • Trump refused to back down on immigration saying: ‘what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one?’
  • Opening sentences of speech robustly condemned anti-Semitic attacks and allegedly racially motivated Kansas City shooting of two Indian men
  • Democratic women wore white in reference to fight for suffrage and made thumbs down gestures to speech

President Donald Trump took his first mission-critical trip down Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday to address a Joint Session of Congress, telling his political opponents that ‘the time for small thinking is over, the time for trivial fights is behind us.’

At that very moment, a member of the Democratic Party hissed.

But Trump’s 60-minute speech drew 94 interruptions for applause, including a sustained, tear-jerking ovation for the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in action just eight days after Trump took office.

As Carryn Owens wept and Ivanka Trump comforted her, Trump said her husband Ryan was happy that the lengthy applause ‘broke a record.’

The slain sailor’s father made headlines last week when he said he had refused to speak with the president when his son’s remains were returned to the U.S. in a somber ceremony. He also blasted Trump for green-lighting what he called the ‘stupid mission’ that claimed Ryan’s life.

But the president praised Ryan as ‘a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.’

‘Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity’ Trump said. ‘For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom. We will never forget Ryan.’

Trump began Tuesday night with a claim on the role of political peacemaker, saying he wanted to bring Americans who voted for him together with those who didn’t.

‘I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart,’ he said.


ISIS leader ‘admits DEFEAT in Iraq and orders militants to flee or kill themselves in suicide attacks’

  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is said to have issued a statement called ‘farewell speech’
  • Terror mastermind reported to have told fighters to flee, hide of launch attacks
  • Comes as Iraqi army units seized back the last major road out of western Mosul
  • UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon said he expected to see ISIS expelled from Iraq’s major towns by the end of 2017

The terror mastermind is said to have issued a statement called ‘farewell speech’ which was distributed among ISIS preachers and clerics in parts of Iraq it still controls.

According to local media, he urged supporters to run and hide and told ‘non-Arab fighters’ to either return home or blow themselves up with the promise of ’72 women in heaven’.


Two British medics who joined Islamic State killed in Iraq: BBC

Two British medics who abandoned studies in Sudan to join Islamic State with a group of other students have been killed in fighting in Iraq, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

Ahmed Sami Khider and Hisham Fadlallah died at the weekend, the BBC said, with Khider believed to have been killed in a convoy as it left the city of Mosul, which U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are trying to retake from IS militants.

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was unable to confirm the deaths.

The two men had been part of a group of nine mainly British-Sudanese medical students from Khartoum’s University of Medical Sciences and Technology who had joined IS in 2015. Five other Britons from the institution joined them soon afterwards and at least four had now been killed, the BBC said.


Ex-CIA spy freed in Portugal, avoids extradition over kidnapping


A former CIA officer convicted of involvement in the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Italy was released on Wednesday after winning a last-minute reprieve from extradition.

Sabrina de Sousa, a dual U.S.-Portuguese citizen, was waiting at Lisbon airport to be flown to Italy early on Wednesday when word came she was to be released, after Italy’s president granted her a partial pardon.

“I’m happy with how this worked out here after two years of having this troubling my mind,” a smiling de Sousa told reporters as she left the Judiciary Police headquarters. “But this is not over yet, as I still have the process in Italy, and we have to see how it goes.”

The partial pardon by Italian President Sergio reduced her sentence to three years from four. That means she can apply for alternatives to a prison sentence.

“We will now await the Italian court’s decision on alternative sanctions to prison, which is likely to be community service,” her lawyer, Manuel Magalhaes e Silva, who accompanied de Sousa out of the police building, told Reuters.



PAC-3 missiles deployed on Taiwan’s east coast ‘in response to Chinese military strategy’

One of the world’s most powerful air defense missile systems, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), has been stationed on Taiwan’s east coast, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a report, citing China’s “changing military strategy.”

The ministry confirmed that (PAC-3) missile systems were moved to the area of Hualien and Taitung to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself in the event of an attack, Taiwan’s national news agency, CNA, reported.

It is the first time Taiwan’s military has acknowledged stationing the missiles in the scantly populated Hualien and Taitung areas, according to Taiwan News. Until now, Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems were believed to have been located close to the populous cities of Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, the newspaper said.

The MND said in a report that Taiwan’s military is determined to boost its combat readiness through innovations in military drills and training, deployment of military forces, and enhanced exchanges between various branches of the armed forces, in light of increased military spending by China, CNA reported.


US & South Korea launch large-scale war games amid tensions with North Korea

The US and South Korea have kicked off Foal Eagle, an annual joint military exercise that has been denounced by North Korea as a rehearsal for invasion. The exercise comes amid tensions in the region following North Korea’s recent missile test.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry and the US military based in the South confirmed the commencement of the joint drills on Wednesday.

The exercise is a field training exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces from both US and South Korea that will run through the end of next month. The two allies are likely to deploy their major strategic assets in the drills to deliver a warning against what they see as North Korean provocations. In March, both countries also plan to separately conduct Key Resolve practice, a computer-simulated command post exercise, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean Defense Ministry.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo had a phone conversation early on Wednesday, in which Mattis expressed Washington’s commitment to the defense of its ally.



Terrorist breaks into West Bank home, stabs resident

Israeli man lightly wounded, manages to shoot his attacker dead in Havat Mor, near Hebron

A Palestinian stabbed and lightly wounded a resident of the southern West Bank settlement outpost of Havat Mor inside his home on Wednesday, the army said.

The Israeli man drew his gun and shot the terrorist, who was pronounced dead on the scene by a local doctor, a spokesperson for the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

The Palestinian man had broken into the West Bank outpost in the Hebron Hills, the army said.

Israeli troops and Magen David Adom ambulances were called to the scene.


The Air Force Wants a Lightweight Fighter to Do What the F-35 Can’t

By Kyle Mizokmi, PopularMechanics.com

The U.S. Air Force will request funding to test a number of airplanes for a new low-cost fighter concept. The goal is to field a fleet of small, lightweight airplanes capable of flying low and slow against enemies without advanced air defenses, providing support to ground forces fighting low-tech opponents such as the Taliban and the Islamic State.

The service is requesting $8 million to fund the tests, which it hopes will identify suitable candidates for OA-X, or Observation, Attack-Experimental aircraft. OA-X aircraft would be small, typically single-seat aircraft capable of flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions or ground attacks. The plane should be capable of operating from austere environments and airfields. A key requirement is that the aircraft be inexpensive to fly on a per-hour basis.


Putin’s Russia Seen Dominating European Gas for Two Decades

Elena Mazneva


Anna Shiryaevskaya
Energy majors see Russia shrugging off competition from LNG
Gazprom’s gas sales abroad account for 10% of Russia’s exports

Europe has wanted to wean itself from Russian natural gas ever since supplies from its eastern neighbor dropped during freezing weather in 2009. Almost a decade later, the region has never been more dependent.

Gazprom PJSC, Russia’s state-run export monopoly, shipped a record amount of gas to the European Union last year and accounts for about 34 percent of the trading bloc’s use of the fuel. Russia will remain the biggest source of supply through 2035, Royal Dutch Shell Plc said last week, echoing comments by BP Plc in January.

EU lawmakers have had their hearts set on diversifying supplies with liquefied natural gas delivered by tanker from the U.S., where production of the fuel skyrocketed last year. So far, those shipments have failed to materialize amid a lack of firm contracts and higher prices outside Europe. Overall, LNG shipments to the region, led by Qatar, were stagnant last year.

“Russia will for sure remain Europe’s largest gas supplier for at least two more decades,” even if most of the incremental gains in EU imports are met by LNG from somewhere else, said Vladimir Drebentsov, chief economist for Russia and CIS at BP in Moscow.


Russian jets accidentally bomb US-backed forces in Syria

Airstrikes targeting Islamic State jihadists quickly called off after American soldiers communicate error to Russians

In this frame grab provided by the Russian Defense Ministry press service, a Russian long range Tu-22M3 bomber carries out an air strike over Aleppo region of Syria on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP)

In this frame grab provided by the Russian Defense Ministry press service, a Russian long range Tu-22M3 bomber carries out an air strike over Aleppo region of Syria on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP)

WASHINGTON — Russian warplanes bombed US-backed fighters in several small villages in northern Syria after they mistakenly thought Islamic State forces were in the area, a top US general said Wednesday.

Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said Russian and Syrian regime aircraft attacked the villages to the southeast of Al-Bab in Aleppo province on Tuesday, resulting in an unspecified number of casualties.

The Russians apparently had observed IS fighters moving out of the area and so wrongly assumed that incoming forces were jihadists.

“We had some Russian aircraft and regime aircraft bomb some villages that I believe they thought were held by ISIS, yet … actually on the ground were some of our Syrian Arab Coalition forces,” Townsend told reporters in a video call from Baghdad.

The SAC forms part of a broader alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprising Kurdish and other groups that the United States have been training and advising to lead the fight against IS.

Townsend added that US troops were less than five kilometers (three miles) away from the villages and observed the bombing.

The American soldiers communicated the error, which was then quickly passed on to the Russians through a special “deconfliction” hotline the two powers have established to avoid mishaps.


FBI planned to pay spy behind Trump-Russia dossier to continue his research 

The retired British spy who authored the infamous dossier about President Trump’s alleged Russian relations was tapped by the FBI to continue his research with government funds, according to multiple reports.The FBI arranged just weeks before the election to pay former MI6 agent Christopher Steele for more digging on his dossier, sources familiar with the deal told the Washington Post. Sources told CNN the FBI even started reimbursing some of Steele’s expenses shortly before Election Day.

But the arrangement fell through before Trump took office, with Steele ultimately pulling out, a source told NBC News.

Steele apparently got fed up after feeling the U.S. government was not taking his findings seriously — especially after FBI Director James Comey went public with an ultimately fruitless second probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Meanwhile, Comey never disclosed the investigation into Trump.


Russia, Turkey hold missile sales talks

Moscow, Ankara yet to strike deal on sale of S-400 air defense system to Turkey, says Russian minister

Moscow and Ankara continued with talks on delivering the S-400 missile system to Turkey, Russia’s deputy defense minister said on Tuesday.

“The talks are still continuing. The delivery is only possible if an agreement is reached and there is no agreement so far,” Alexander Fomin told reporters in comments reported by Russian news agency TASS.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Feb. 22 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin would handle the issue during a High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) meeting expected between March 8 and 9 in Moscow.

Iraq To Be Removed From US Travel Ban List In New Immigration Order: Officials

Donald Trump is expected to sign a new immigration order on Wednesday, a report said

WASHINGTON:  President Donald Trump’s new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, quoting unnamed US officials.

Four officials say the decision follows pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, the Associated Press reported. They had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion given its key role in fighting the ISIS, it added.President Trump is expected to sign the new order on Wednesday. An earlier order was blocked by federal courts.


Why airplane parts from Miami to Syria just got a company in trouble

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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.




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.


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’


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

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

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.”


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.


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.”


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.


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.



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.


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”.


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.


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.



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.



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.


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

© Sputnik/ Russian Defence Ministry

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.”


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.”


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.


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


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.”




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


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.


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.




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