Tag Archives: UK

March 25, 2017

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi embassy confirms UK attacker had been in Saudi Arabia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thousands attend funeral of slain Hamas terrorist as group vows revenge

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Syria said threatening to fire Scud missiles at Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Two charged over arms supply to French airport attacker

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

March 25, 2017, 2:31 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Putin meets with Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin

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

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

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

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

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

Russia denies supplying Taliban after Scaparrotti claim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muqtada al-Sadr threatens to boycott Iraq elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Central Congo militia decapitates 40 police officers in ambush

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

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

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

 

Turkey threatens again to take actions regarding Cyprus’ natural gas

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

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

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

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

Cyber Firm Rewrites Part of Disputed Russian Hacking Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serbia says no to NATO on alliance’s airstrikes anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum communication system would make hacking or eavesdropping more difficult

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swiss open probe into spying in Switzerland’s Turkish community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venezuela expresses ‘desire’ to reestablish relations with Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

By Brennan Neill, Stephen Smith, CBC News

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

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

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

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

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

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

CBC independently verified the speech and its translation.

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

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

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

 

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

Mar 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

France’s Marine Le Pen urges end to Russia sanctions

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

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

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

Ms Le Pen has also met President Vladimir Putin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1703241027561490270672original_8.jpg

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

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

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

Pentagon worried about Chinese investment in US startups: report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cyber war: Defense firms face battle to guard secrets

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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March 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.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/defense-secretary-mattis-withdraws-patterson-as-choice-for-undersecretary-for-policy/2017/03/14/dd5ec8bc-08b6-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html?utm_term=.929cafa25eba

 

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.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/obama-white-house-blocked-needed-u-s-arms-sale-taiwan/

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.

https://www.rt.com/news/380665-dutch-say-turky-talk-bizarre/

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

Our Bureau
07:20 AM, March 14, 2017
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Deputy Defence Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov
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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.

http://www.defenseworld.net/news/18701/Russian_AF_Trainees_To_Fly_Diesel_engined_Yak_152_Propeller_Aircraft#.WMhc-5ArJD8

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.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/03/14/Defector-North-Koreas-next-nuclear-test-could-lead-to-collapse/6641489489192/

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.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-usa-aircraft-carrier-north-idUSKBN16L0BD

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.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-toshiba-accounting-idUSKBN16L02X

Facebook tells developers to not use data for surveillance

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March 5, 2017

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

AP, AFP-JIJI, KYODO, STAFF REPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles

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March 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.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4269814/Trump-strikes-presidential-tone-addresses-Congress.html#ixzz4a4kPYlkE

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’.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4270686/ISIS-leader-Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi-admits-DEFEAT-Iraq.html#ixzz4a5XlW4mj

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.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-britons-idUSKBN1685A1?il=0

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.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-us-cia-pardon-idUSKBN1683ZC

 

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.

https://www.rt.com/news/379055-pac-missiles-taiwan-china/

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.

https://www.rt.com/news/379039-korea-us-drills-tensions/

 

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.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/terrorist-breaks-into-west-bank-home-stabs-resident/

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.

http://ameriforce.net/air-force-wants-lightweight-fighter-f-35-cant/

Putin’s Russia Seen Dominating European Gas for Two Decades

Elena Mazneva

and

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.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-01/putin-s-russia-seen-dominating-european-energy-for-two-decades

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.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/russian-jets-accidentally-bomb-us-backed-forces-in-syria/

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.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/fbi-planned-pay-spy-behind-trump-russia-dossier-article-1.2985467

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.

http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/iraq-to-be-removed-from-us-travel-ban-list-in-new-immigration-order-officials-1664746

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

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February 26, 2017

Korea to conclude land acquisition for THAAD battery this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pentagon seeks to expand fight against Al Qaeda extremists in Somalia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran Could Supply Turbines for Crimean Power Plants Bypassing Sanctions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Russia Could Defeat the British Army ‘In an Afternoon’

February 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

© Sputnik/ Russian Defence Ministry
MILITARY & INTELLIGENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia Building Six Kilo-class Submarines for its Pacific Fleet

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia toughens stance on territorial dispute with Japan

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

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

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

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

Kurds offer land for independence in struggle to reshape Iraq

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

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

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

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

Germany seeks Israeli technology

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

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

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

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

France sends backup to Niger after 16 troops killed

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

China-North Korea ties deteriorate

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

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

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

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

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

Activity at North Korean Nuclear Facility Could Mean Another Test Imminent

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

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

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

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

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

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

By YOSHIHIRO MAKINO/ Correspondent

Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

 

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

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

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

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

Japan doubles fighter jets deployed for scrambles against China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

BY CARY HUANG

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

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

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

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

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

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

By James Pearson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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February 18, 2017

Angela Merkel says Europe must take MORE refugees and Islam ‘isn’t source of terror’

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has launched a staunch defence of her refugee policy.

The embattled leader says Europe has an obligation to take displaced people from Syria and Iraq. 

She also said Islam “is not the cause of terrorism” and that combatting extremism needs the cooperation of Muslim countries.

In a wide-ranging speech at a Munich security conference, the German chief also vowed to work closely with Vladimir Putin’s Russia in the fight with ISIS in the Middle East.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/589410/Angela-Merkel-more-refugees-Syria-Iraq-German-chancellor-terrorism-ISIS

 

Captured ISIS jihadi reveals how he killed 500 civilians and raped 200 women during the terror group’s barbaric raids on Yazidi settlements… and boasts: ‘It was normal’

  • ISIS jihadi Amar Hussein was captured and imprisoned by Kurdish forces in Iraq 
  • He said that he raped more than 200 women while fighting for the terrorists
  • Hussein boasted about shooting 40 people at a time, blindfolding them first
  • A second prisoner, Ghaffar Abdel Rahman, was also interviewed but gave little away 

Amar Hussein says he reads the Koran all day in his tiny jail cell to become a better person, yet he shows little remorse for the 200 women he raped as he pillaged Iraqi villages.

Hussein and another Islamic State militant were both captured during an assault on Kirkuk in October that killed 99 civilians and members of the security forces, as well as 63 Islamic State militants.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4237910/Captured-ISIS-jihadi-tells-life-killer.html#ixzz4Z5SACwSw

 

 

 

Britain’s 110 nuclear alerts are revealed: Safety watchdog makes a mockery of the MoD’s claim of just 27 ‘incidents’ in 65 years

  • A catalogue of more than 100 incidents show how close we came to disaster
  • The figure is four times higher than the Ministry of Defence has ackowledged 
  • This included a truck carrying weapons overturning and two submarines nearly colliding 

A chilling catalogue of more than 100 accidents involving Britain’s nuclear weapons reveals for the first time how often we may have come close to disaster.

The shock report by an independent nuclear watchdog documents 110 major alerts – four times higher than the Ministry of Defence has acknowledged.

Among the incidents in the dossier by the Nuclear Information Service (NIS), which has been seen by The Mail on Sunday, are:

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of a still image taken from video of the missile firing from HMS Vigilant, which fired an unarmed Trident II 

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of a still image taken from video of the missile firing from HMS Vigilant, which fired an unarmed Trident II

  •  British warships carrying nuclear depth charges by mistake in the 1982 Falklands War;
  •  a mid-Atlantic collision between nuclear-armed British and French submarines in 2009;
  •  a truck carrying nuclear warheads overturning on an icy road in Wiltshire in 1987;
  •  the deaths of 116 UK nuclear workers from accidents and cancer.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4238532/Britain-s-110-nuclear-alerts-revealed.html#ixzz4Z5RT6O2X

David Petraeus says he will NOT be Trump’s new national security adviser: Disgraced ex-CIA head takes himself out of running over fears the president will control the hiring and firing of staff

  • David Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA director, will not be Trump’s new NSA
  • He expressed concern about Trump’s reluctance to grant new adviser full discretion over policy and staffing
  • Officials said Petraeus’s prerequisites for the job were not acceptable
  • Retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward declined offer to become the next NSA on Thursday
  • Trump said Friday that acting NSA Keith Kellogg and ‘three others’ are in contention for job
  • Michael Flynn was fired on Monday following controversy over Russia contacts

David Petraeus will not be replacing Michael Flynn as Donald Trump‘s next national security adviser.

Trump ousted Flynn on Monday in a controversy over the retired lieutenant general’s contacts with Russia.

Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA director, expressed concern about Trump’s reluctance to grant the new adviser full discretion over policy and staffing.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4237492/David-Petraeus-won-t-Trump-NSA.html

Mike Pence widens US rift with Europe over Nato defence spending

On first visit to Europe since taking office, US vice-president tells Munich conference Nato allies must step up their contributions

The US vice-president has delivered the most uncompromising message yet from the Trump administration to Nato allies that they have to step up financial contributions towards defence spending.

On his first visit to Europe since taking office, Mike Pence said “some of our largest allies do not have a credible path” towards paying their share of Nato’s financial burden. Although he did not name individual countries, his targets included Germany, France and Italy. “The time has come to do more,” he said.

This section of his speech to the Munich security conference, which is being attended by 500 delegates including government leaders and defence and foreign ministers from around the world, was greeted with lukewarm applause.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/18/mike-pence-widens-us-rift-with-europe-over-nato-defence-spending

Kim Jong-nam: Malaysian police arrest North Korean man

Move is likely to escalate row as Pyongyang accuses Kuala Lumpur of ‘colluding with outside forces who want to damage the image of our republic’

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and half-brother Kim Jong-nam
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and half-brother Kim Jong-nam. A fourth suspect has been arrested in connection with the killing of Kim Jong-nam. Photograph: Wong Maye-E, Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

The detained man, identified as Ri Jong Chol, 46, is the fourth person to be picked up by investigators and the only suspect from North Korea. They other three suspects hold Vietnamese, Indonesia and Malaysian documents.

People close to Kim Jong-nam say the former heir to the North Korean leadership had feared his younger brother, the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un – a man he’s reportedly never met but who has executed several senior officials including family members – might make an attempt on his life.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/18/kim-jong-nam-killing-north-korean-man-arrested-as-second-autopsy-peformed

Merkel resists US demands to raise defence spending and warns that she won’t rush to meet Nato targets

  • Germany’s chancellor said her country was ‘conscious of its responsibility’
  • It will stick to the aim of raising defence spending to 2% of national income
  • EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday said Europe must not cave in to the US demands to raise military spending

Angela Merkel last night refused to concede to US demands to raise defence spending.

Germany’s chancellor said she was in no hurry to meet Nato targets because there were other issues to deal with.

She said her country was ‘conscious of its responsibility’ and would stick to the long-term aim of raising defence spending to 2 per cent of national income by 2024.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4236654/Europe-not-cave-military-spending-Juncker.html#ixzz4Z2lYmCVd

F-15s scramble to intercept unresponsive aircraft over restricted airspace over West Palm Beach

Two F-15s caused a ‘sonic boom’ as they raced from their base in Homestead, Fla., Friday to intercept an unresponsive general aviation aircraft that flew near Palm Beach during a stay by President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

The jets flew at supersonic speeds and residents were startled by the loud boom, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, said in a statement. The two fighters were able to establish communication with the aircraft. This incident occured at about 7 p.m. ET.  No further details were immediately available.

“The intent of military intercepts is to have the identified aircraft re-establish communications with local FAA air traffic controllers and instruct the pilot to follow air traffic controllers’ instructions to land safely for follow-on action,” the statement read.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/18/f-15s-scramble-to-intercept-unresponsive-plane-over-restricted-airspace-over-west-palm-beach.html

House committee probes Russia payment to Flynn

Michael Isikoff

Chief Investigative Correspondent
Yahoo NewsFebruary 17, 2017

Citing a Yahoo News interview with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn last July, a House committee has opened an investigation into whether President Trump’s recently resigned national security adviser received an improper payment from the Russian government for a trip to Moscow in December 2015.

In an unusual bipartisan letter, House Oversight and Government Reform committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz and ranking minority member Rep. Elijah Cummings have asked a Washington-based speakers bureau, Leading Authorities, to turn over information on how much Flynn was paid for his appearance at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT — the Russian-government funded news organization — where he sat at the same table for dinner as President Vladimir Putin. Flynn also sat for a 44-minute interview with RT anchor Sophie Shevardnadze, granddaughter of former Soviet foreign affairs minister Eduard Shevardnadze, as part of the trip.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/house-committee-begins-probe-of-payments-to-flynn-210144266.html

‘We’ll Field Robert Mugabe’s Corpse As Candidate For Election’, Says Wife Grace

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly said that if her husband President Robert Mugabe, 92, dies, the ruling Zanu-PF party would “field his corpse (sic) to participate in elections”.

According to media reports, Grace said this during a rally in Buhera.

“If Mugabe dies, we will field his corpse as a candidate for elections to prove that people love him,” Grace has been quoted as saying.

This was not the first time that the first lady insinuated that the nonagenarian leader would rule from the grave.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2017/02/18/well-field-robert-mugabes-corpse-as-candidate-for-election/

 

Tillerson, in diplomatic debut, urges Russia to pull back in eastern Ukraine

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his debut on the world stage Thursday, meeting the Russian foreign minister and urging Moscow to pull back in eastern Ukraine, then signing a joint statement condemning North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test.

He attended almost a dozen meetings with his diplomatic counterparts from the Group of 20 major world economies, all fairly routine for a secretary of state on an overseas trip.

But in one sense it was a landmark day for Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil chief executive with no previous experience in public office. For the first time since addressing employees upon arriving at the State Department two weeks ago, he made a public statement about foreign policy, taking a firm line on Russia and Ukraine. That suggested that the stasis that has gripped the State Department in recent weeks may be ebbing.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/tillerson-and-lavrov-meet-for-first-time-in-bonn/2017/02/16/256d571a-f2fd-11e6-9fb1-2d8f3fc9c0ed_story.html?utm_term=.3e5da0dd13b0

 

 

UK faces embarrassment over Nato defence spending ahead of summit

Britain not meeting target it was supposed to urge other EU countries to meet, calculation says

The Government faces embarrassment at a key Nato summit tomorrow after an analysis warned the UK is no longer meeting the alliance’s spending target.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon is due to head to Brussels for a Nato defence ministers’ meeting just 24 hours after the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said Britain was no longer spending two per cent of GDP on defence.

The calculations are particularly key as Theresa May promised Donald Trump just last month that she would

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nato-spending-uk-target-target-michael-fallon-brussels-summit-a7578986.html

Defence Ministry: UK offers Finland place in joint expeditionary force

The Ministry of Defence says it will analyse in detail an offer from the UK for Finland to join Britain’s seven-member Joint Expeditionary Force. The possibility of a new military cooperation will be looked at in the autumn.

The United Kingdom has offered Finland and Sweden the possibility of joining in the UK-lead Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a military rapid reaction force made up of seven countries.

“The cooperation offer is based on Finland and Sweden being in a so-called enhanced partnership with Nato and we have a good history with joint operation with the UK,” unit chief Janne Kuusela from the Defence Ministry says.

The JEF is made up of the UK (as the lead nation), Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway. The coalition, says Kuusela, aims to develop the UK’s rapid reaction military performance together with allied countries.

Last year both Finland and Sweden signed a framework agreement on defence cooperation with the United Kingdom. The JEF-offer is being considered in Finland both internally and jointly with Sweden.

http://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/defence_ministry_uk_offers_finland_place_in_joint_expeditionary_force/9443643

‘THE FROG HAS BOILED’

Shocking report reveals ‘gaping holes’ left in UK’s defences after decades of cuts

Experts have called for the government to “re-bench” the armed forces against a resurgent Russia

BY LAURA BURNIP

BRITAIN’S military defences have been left with gaping holes including warships so noisy Russian subs can hear them 100 miles away and light tanks which are too big to fly anywhere, according to an investigation.

An investigation by the Sunday Times has uncovered huge equipment failures and bungled procurement deals – including spending £1billion on drones which haven’t entered frontline service 12 years after being ordered.

Now there are fears the armed forces would be unable to defend Britain from an attack after the damning information was revealed.

General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, called for the government to “re-bench” the armed forces against the threat of a resurgent Russia.

He told the Sunday Times: “You are dealing with a legacy of iterative hollowing out, which has reached a point where the frog has boiled.”

It comes as experts criticised warships, drones, spy planes and tanks which they say are not up to scratch.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2787516/uk-defence-budget-cuts-gaping-holes/

Guide to Estonian strip clubs issued by UK Ministry of Defence in 2015

Freedom of Information request unearths X-rated guide for British troops partying in Tallinn during 2015 operation.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) prepared a guide to Estonian strip clubs and distributed it to soldiers during an operation in May 2015, a freedom of information request has revealed.

The British Army were taking part in a Nato training expedition, Steadfast Javelin, when the booklet ‘Tallinn guide for Friendly forces’ was handed out. Details of its contents have been unearthed by the BBC.

The pamphlet features reviews of local establishments, including:

  • Lasso Baar: a”big strip bar with one of the prettiest dancers”
  • Soho: the “biggest strip club in Estonia”
  • X Club: the “most professional strip club with various elements

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/guide-estonian-strip-clubs-issued-by-uk-ministry-defence-2015-1607207

Japan: The World’s Next Big Arms Dealer?

February 17, 2017

After decades of a self-imposed ban on arms exports, the Abe government in 2014 began to allow the country’s producers to export arms and military equipment. This is a significant development, albeit part of an evolutionary and incremental process. Still, it will be a while before Japan appears on the list of major global arms suppliers.

The 2014 ‘three principles on transfer of defense equipment and technology’ replaces the 1967 ‘three principles’ which virtually banned arms exports. While allowing exports of weapons in support of its proactive contribution to peace policy and to serve Japan’s national interest, the new principles still maintain restrictions on arms exports to those states that are either under UN embargoes or currently involved in a military conflict. The new rules also seek greater transparency to ensure that weapons exported from Japan are not sold to third parties without Japan’s knowledge.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/japan-the-worlds-next-big-arms-dealer-19477

Top US General Hears Turkey’s Complaints About Kurdish Fighters

February 18, 2017 7:15 AM
  • Dorian Jones

The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, and Turkey's Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar talk during a meeting in Incirlik Airbase in Adana, Turkey, Feb. 17, 2017.

The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, and Turkey’s Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar talk during a meeting in Incirlik Airbase in Adana, Turkey, Feb. 17, 2017.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, met his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar Friday at NATO’s Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. Talks between the NATO allies reportedly focused on Washington’s support for Syrian Kurdish militias in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The United States says it chooses carefully among Kurdish fighters when lending its support to Syrian rebels battling Islamic State. Ankara dismisses the Americans’ arguments and says they are actively supporting the People’s Protection Units, the YPG, whose fighters the Turks contend are terrorists group united with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, fighting against the Turkish state.

“Turkey has made its view on this organization (YPG) very clear,” says political columnist Semih Idiz of Al Monitor, “and any step back at this moment would entail a loss of face for the government in Ankara and of course indirectly for President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan.

http://www.voanews.com/a/top-us-general-hears-turkey-complaints-about-kurdish-fighters/3729907.html

British commander: Kurds will take ISIS-held Raqqa, not Turkey

A commander of the anti-ISIS Coalition has said that the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will take the ISIS-held city of Raqqa and not Turkey, who are struggling to take al-Bab in eastern Aleppo countryside.

“The force that looks most likely capable of conducting the liberation of Raqqa remains the SDF. Are we confident in the SDF? Absolutely we are,” Major General Rupert Jones, the deputy commander of the anti-ISIS Coalition, said.

“They re-took Manbij, in a very tough fight, and they prevailed in the face of a tough opposition,” he continued.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/british-commander-kurds-will-take-isis-held-raqqa-not-turkey/

Kurds pledge to fight Turkey to retain Syria’s Manbij

Turkish president’s plan to clear Kurdish forces from Syrian city and set up a safe zone elicits Kurdish defiance.

The commander of Kurdish fighters in Syria’s Manbij city has told Al Jazeera that his forces will fight to defend any move by Turkey to take over the area.

Adnan Abu Amjad’s comment came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that when his country’s forces finish supporting Syrian opposition fighters to take over Al Bab from ISIL, they will move on to Manbij and then ISIL’s self-declared capital Raqqa.

Erdogan said he wants to set up a safe zone near the Turkish border and clear all Kurdish forces from the area.

Abu Amjad said: “If Erdogan wants to come to Manbij, it’s his business, but we will defend our city with all the strength we can find. As Syrian people, we’ll resist any interference in our internal affairs.”

Air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition and a long fight by mainly Kurdish ground forces freed Manbij from the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group last year.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/kurds-pledge-fight-turkey-retain-syria-manbij-170218134339051.html

India to develop airborne early warning system with 360 degree sweep

By IANS

Iran in new military drills despite US warnings

Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard is to conduct military drills next week, a senior commander announced Saturday, despite warnings from the United States and fresh sanctions over a ballistic missile test.

“The manoeuvres called ‘Grand Prophet 11’ will start Monday and last three days,” General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the force’s ground units, told a news conference.

He said rockets would be used without specifying which kind.

In early February, Iran conducted drills involving short-range missiles at a time of heightened tensions with the United States.

The Islamic republic said the exercises were aimed at demonstrating Iran’s “complete preparedness to deal with the threats” and “humiliating sanctions” from Washington.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/iran-military-drills-despite-us-warnings-113358596.html

Blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman sentenced to life in prison for plotting the 1993 World Trade Center attacks dies in prison

  • Egyptian cleric died in a South Carolina prison hospital, reports said Saturday
  • Was convicted for plotting attacks on World Trade Center and other landmarks
  • His son Anmar confirmed that the family had been informed of his death
  • The February 26, 1993 bombing left six dead and more than 1,000 injured

Blink sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was sentenced to life in prison for plotting the deadly 1993 World Trade Center attacks, has died in prison, authorities have said.

The Egyptian cleric died at a South Carolina prison hospital, senior law enforcement officials told NBC New York.

Rahman was one of six suspects convicted of participating in the 1993 bombing, which left six people dead and more than 1,000 injured.

He also plotted attacks on other landmarks in New York City, including the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations headquarters and the George Washington Bridge.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4237756/Omar-Abdel-Rahman-dies-prison.html#ixzz4Z3oADFrC

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 14, 2017

Flynn Departure Leaves Trump National Security Team in Turmoil

  • Retired Army General Kellogg named acting security adviser
  • Resignation comes as U.S. confronting security challenges

White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday amid a snowballing controversy over whether he lied about his contacts with a Russian official, throwing President Donald Trump’s security team into turmoil just weeks into his term.

Flynn’s resignation came as Trump struggles to cement his national security apparatus as the president and his cabinet officials are preparing for a series of meetings and summits with foreign leaders in the coming months, starting this week in Europe.

Retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, who had been Flynn’s chief of staff, was named acting national security adviser, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement announcing the resignation.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-02-14/flynn-departure-leaves-trump-national-security-team-in-turmoil

Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say

February 13 at 11:17 PM
The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-department-warned-white-house-that-flynn-could-be-vulnerable-to-russian-blackmail-officials-say/2017/02/13/fc5dab88-f228-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?utm_term=.a7324c21ab9a

Trump, GOP lawmakers eye ‘illegal’ leaks in wake of Flynn resignation

In the wake of Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser, President Trump and Republican allies on Capitol Hill are turning their attention to the potentially “illegal” leaks that revealed Flynn’s politically fatal discussions with a Russian diplomat and other sensitive details from inside the administration.

Fox News first reported Monday night that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., wants the FBI to conduct an assessment of recent media leaks. The president, after accepting Flynn’s resignation overnight, tweeted Tuesday morning that, “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?”

The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?

Flynn echoed that point. Asked Tuesday morning whether the leaks were targeted, coordinated and possibly a violation of the law, Flynn told Fox News: “Yes, yes and yes.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/14/trump-gop-lawmakers-eye-illegal-leaks-in-wake-flynn-resignation.html

 

FBI needs to explain why Flynn was recorded, Intelligence Committee chairman says

Here’s why Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after just 24 days

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.

“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”

Flynn resigned Monday night, days after The Washington Post reported that intelligence officials had recorded Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before Trump took office. Those recordings, The Post reported, appeared to contradict Flynn’s own claims that he had not discussed easing U.S. sanctions on Russia

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/14/fbi-needs-to-explain-why-michael-flynn-was-recorded-gop-intelligence-chairman-says/?utm_term=.e78fca6c37b8

 

Russian spy ship off East Coast of US, officials say

A Russian spy ship was spotted patrolling off the East Coast of the United States on Tuesday morning, the first such patrol since President Trump took office, two U.S. officials told Fox News.

The Russian spy ship was 70 miles off the coast of Delaware, heading north at 10 knots, according to one official. That location means the ship is in international waters. The U.S. territory line is 12 nautical miles.

It was not immediately clear where the Russian spy ship is headed.

The ship, the SSV-175 Viktor Leonov, last sailed near the U.S. in April 2015, an official said. The ship is capable of intercepting communications or signals, known as SIGINT, as well as measuring U.S. Navy sonar capability, a separate official said.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/14/russian-spy-ship-off-east-coast-us-officials-say.html

 

 

Russia secretly deploys cruise missile violating arms treaty

Russia has deployed a new cruise missile despite complaints by US officials that it violates an arms-control treaty banning ground-based American and Russian intermediate-range missiles, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The US concluded in 2014 that Russia had violated the 1987 treaty banning ground-launched intermediate range missiles by testing the experimental new cruise missile, Reuters reported.

US officials have now concluded the SSC-8 missile is operational and has been secretly deployed, the Times reported.

The deployment presents a major challenge for President Trump, who has vowed to improve relations with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and to pursue future arms accords.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/14/russia-secretly-deploys-cruise-missile-violating-arms-treaty/

 

US ADMITS USING TOXIC DEPLETED URANIUM AGAINST ISIS IN SYRIA

Depleted uranium leads to major birth defects

More than 5,000 rounds of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition were used in two attacks on Islamic State oil tankers in eastern Syria, the US military has confirmed. The US-led coalition previously pledged it would not use the controversial ordnance.

A spokesman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM) told Foreign Policy that 5,265 armor-piercing DU rounds were used in November 2015, during two air raids against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) oil tanker convoys in the Deir ez-Zor and Hasakah provinces in eastern Syria.

A-10 ground attack aircraft fired the projectiles from their 30mm rotating cannons, destroying about 350 tanker trucks, according to CENTCOM spokesman Major Josh Jacques.

 

http://www.infowars.com/us-admits-using-toxic-depleted-uranium-against-isis-in-syria/

Moroccan man, 33, is arrested in Gran Canaria on suspicion of planning a terror attack after ‘posing with his wife and young son with ISIS badge’

  • The 33-year-old Moroccan had been under surveillance for the past five years
  • Spanish police arrested him over fears he was about to launch a terror attack 
  • Police admitted the suspect is believed to represent a significant threat 
  • The man was arrested in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria by anti-terror officers  

Police in the Canary Islands have arrested a 33-year-old Moroccan whose hatred for the west was so great that he was prepared to ‘execute a terrorist attack with great repercussions’.

The man, said to be a ‘violent jihadist supporter’, had been under constant watch since 2012 because of his potentially dangerous profile.

But as part of the fight against terrorism, officers said they could no longer allow him to walk free because of the threat he represented.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4223420/Spanish-police-arrest-Moroccan-ISIS-suspect.html

Two thirds of Germans want Merkel ousted as Chancellor as she suffers another hammer blow in the polls

  • Sixty-four percent of citizens have said they want a new face in the hotseat
  • Only eight% believe Angela Merkel is definitely the right person for the job
  • Polls have swung away from Merkel Since SPD chose Martin Schulz as candidate
  • Most recent gauge of public opinion was conducted and published by YouGov 

Two thirds of Germans want Angela Merkel ousted as the country’s Chancellor as she suffered her latest hammer blow in the polls.

Sixty-four percent of citizens want a new face in the hotseat when the nation heads to the polling stations for September’s election, according to the most recent gauge of public opinion.

YouGov’s figures revealed that only eight percent of Germans think Merkel should definitely keep the title she has held for the past 12 years.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4224026/Two-thirds-Germans-want-Merkel-ousted-Chancellor.html

SOROS FUNDS GOOGLE TO STOP POPULIST LE PEN

Google launches “CrossCheck” in France to censor pro-Le Pen news

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Though largely not reported by the mainstream media, George Soros has invested in Google as it stepped up its “Fake News” campaign designed to depress the vote of anti-globalist Marine Le Pen, leading candidate of the conservative National Front (FN) party in the French presidential election scheduled for April 23.

On Nov. 15, 2016, Market Watch reported George Soros’ hedge fund, Soros Fund Management LLC, invested in Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google.

On Feb. 16, 2012, Forbes reported that Soros had been trading in Google prior to 2007, but had completely sold out in the second quarter of 2011, at $550 a share.

Then, in the fourth quarter 2011, Soros bought his largest share in Google to date, purchasing 258,900 shares at about $592 per share for a total investment of $154 million.  Soros’ investment in Google in 2011 was made by Soros’ predecessor Quantum Fund, then the best-performing hedge fund in history that in 2011 was closed to the public, focusing only on managing assets held by Soros and his family

http://www.infowars.com/soros-funds-google-to-stop-populist-le-pen/

 

South Korean prosecutor seeks arrest warrant for Samsung chief

South Korean special prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday it is seeking an arrest warrant for Samsung Group [SAGR.UL] leader Jay Y. Lee as part of its investigation into a graft scandal that could topple President Park Geun-hye.

The special prosecution said it would also seek an arrest warrants for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> President Park Sang-jin. It did not elaborate or say what charges it planned to bring against the two executives.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/02/14/south-korean-prosecutor-seeks-arrest-warrant-for-samsung-chief.html

Chinese weapons reaching ‘near-parity’ with West: study

China is beginning to export its own weapon designs, including armed drones, worldwide and is reaching “near-parity” with the West in terms of military technology, according to a report on Tuesday.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies said that China’s official defence budget of $145 billion (137 billion euros) last year was 1.8 times higher than those of South Korea and Japan combined.

It also accounted for more than a third of Asia’s total military spending in 2016, the IISS annual Military Balance report said, adding that spending in Asia grew by five to six percentage points a year between 2012 and 2016.

Total global military spending instead fell by 0.4 percent in real terms in 2016 compared to 2015, largely due to reductions in the Middle East.

“China’s military progress highlights that Western dominance in the field of advanced weapons systems can no longer be taken for granted,” IISS director John Chipman said at a presentation in London.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/chinese-weapons-reaching-near-parity-west-study-135238342.html

Greece considers ditching the Euro in favour of the US dollar in devastating move which would ‘freak out’ Germany and humiliate Brussels

  • Donald Trump’s pic for EU ambassador Ted Balloch made the comments on TV
  • He told a Greek broadcaster the country’s officials were looking into EU options
  • Greece’s spiraling financial crisis has led to EU bosses threatening expulsion 
  • If the country does drop out of the union it will be seen as a blow by Germany 

Greece is said to be considering ditching the Euro in favour of the US dollar in a devastating move which would humiliate Brussels.

Donald Trump‘s pick for EU ambassador Ted Malloch claimed senior Greek economists are looking into taking on the American banknotes if the country turns its back on the European currency.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4222990/Greece-considers-ditching-Euro-favour-dollar.html#ixzz4Yf0wjmPB

BREAKING NEWS: Kim Jong-Un’s playboy half-brother ‘is killed by two female assassins with poisoned needles at an airport in Malaysia’

  • Kim Jong-nam died on way to hospital ‘after being poisoned in Kuala Lumpa’
  • The 45-year-old was killed by two female assassins, reports in Malaysia claim
  • There are reports he was the target of assassination attempts in the past
  • Kim was overlooked for succession to dictator by former leader Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-nam, the oldest son of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, died on his way to hospital after collapsing at Kuala Lumpur airport.

The 45-year-old was poisoned by two female assassins believed to be North Korean operatives who are still at large, according to television reports in Malaysia.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4223088/Half-brother-Kim-Jong-dies-Malaysia.html#ixzz4Yf1HyX4n

US blacklists Venezuela’s vice president as drug trafficker

Reuters

The United States blacklisted Venezuela’s Vice President Tareck El Aissami for drug trafficking, the first crackdown by the Trump administration against a top official in President Nicolas Maduro’s government for money laundering and the drug trade.

The U.S. Department of Treasury said it designated El Aissami for sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. His associate, Samark Jose Lopez Bello, was targeted for providing material assistance and financial support for El Aissami’s activities, Treasury said in a statement.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/14/us-blacklists-venezuelas-vice-president-as-drug-trafficker.html

Syrian forces used chemical weapons in final push for Aleppo: HRW

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – Syrian government forces carried out at least eight chemical attacks during the final weeks of the battle for Aleppo, killing nine people, among them four children, and injuring hundreds more, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

The rights group said it interviewed witnesses, collected photos and reviewed video footage indicating that chlorine bombs were dropped from government helicopters during the offensive from November 17 to December 13.

Around 200 people were injured by the toxic gases used on opposition-controlled areas of the northern city, according to HRW.

One of the deadliest bombings hit the neighborhood of Sakhur on November 20, killing six members of the same family including four children whose lifeless bodies were shown on a video taken by the Shabha press agency.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/syrian-forces-used-chemical-weapons-final-push-aleppo-162324390.html

UK ‘fails to meet’ Nato national defence spending pledge

The UK’s spending on defence has dipped below the Nato target of 2 per cent of national spending, according to a new report.

Military spending was 1.98 per cent of GDP in 2016, as a result of the British economy growing faster than the defence budget, said the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

However, the Ministry of Defence has rejected the claims,  branding the figure “wrong”, pointing to official Nato statistics which put the UK’s defence spending for 2016 at 2.21 per cent.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/14/uk-dips-nato-target-2pc-national-defence-spending/

‘We are READY’ Russia issues warning to NATO after military tests conducted in Black Sea

RUSSIA issued a stark warning to Nato after it claimed it was “ready to take on these challenges” after four member states from the Western military alliance conducted a naval military drill in the Black Sea.

Russia has warned Nato after the latest military test
The joint military PASSEX 2017 exercise between Canada, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria was carried out in the body of water which borders part of the Russia’s coastline.

According to a report from the Bulgarian ministry of defence, “tactical manoeuvring, air defence, repelling asymmetric attacks from an enemy above water, delivery of cargo by helicopter, and other manoeuvres” were carried out.

Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu claimed Moscow was monitoring the Sea Shield drills.

He said: “At present, we are watching and monitoring everything that is happening there.

“We hope that the exercise will be conducted in the safest possible environment, without any challenges to Russia. In any case, we are ready to take on these challenges.”http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/766974/russia-issues-warning-nato-military-tests-black-sea-sergey-shoigu-vladimir-putin

Germany’s AfD votes to expel lawmaker who criticised Holocaust memorial

Right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) members voted on Monday to expel one of the party’s state leaders who criticised a memorial in Berlin to victims of the Nazi Holocaust and said history should be rewritten to focus on German victims.

The AfD, which has lawmakers in 10 of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments, is expected to become the third-largest party in the Bundestag federal lower house after an election on Sept. 24.

Some senior AfD members say speeches like the one by Bjoern Hoecke, the party leader in the eastern state of Thuringia, damage its image and dent its chances in the election.

http://www.reuters.com/article/germany-afd-idUSKBN15S18A

Russia sends more military police to Syria

(South Front) Moscow has deployed another military police battalion to Syria.

The battalion was sent from the Russian republic of Ingushetia in order to boost security of military personnel during operations in the war-torn country, according to Ingushetia leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said on Monday.

According to Yevkurov, servicemen will focus on protecting personnel of the Russian air group and the Center for Syrian reconciliation.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/russia-sends-military-police-syria/

Why Kim Jong Nam was Murdered by Poisoned Needles

 

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February 5, 2017

Breaking: Ballistic missile strikes Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

According to emerging reports from Yemen, a surface-to-surface missile fired by the Yemeni Army has hit the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The missile was launched on Sunday evening, and sources in Yemen have described the missile test as successful.  It is unclear exactly what missile was used, and casualty figures, if any, are yet to be reported.

Saudi Arabia intervened military in the Yemeni Conflict in 2015, leading a coalition of almost 10 Middle Eastern countries. In October 2016, a Yemeni activist warned that Riyadh was the next target for a Yemeni missile attack.

Update 1: More information has emerged, suggesting that the missile was a variant of a Russian Scud missile, known as the “Borkan” surface-to-surface missile.

Update 2: Sources indicate that the missile struck a military base West of Riyadh, in Mazahimiyah.

Update 3: On social media, a Saudi attempts to cover-up the attack, saying that the sound of the explosion in Riyadh was an earthquake or meteor.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-ballistic-missile-strikes-riyadh-saudi-arabia/

Hamas explosives chief said killed in accidental blast

Terror group says Muhammad Walid al-Quqa, 37, died of wounds sustained while ‘preparing equipment’ in northern Gaza

A senior Hamas field commander died Sunday of wounds incurred a day earlier in an accidental blast, the Gaza-based terror group said.

Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in a statement posted to its official website that high-ranking field commander Muhammad Hemada Walid al-Quqa, 37, died Sunday morning. Other reports from Gaza said he was 44 years old.

According to the statement, Quqa was “preparing equipment” in the field when he was injured in an explosion.

 

http://www.timesofisrael.com/senior-hamas-commander-said-killed-in-accidental-blast/

Hezbollah targeted Israeli diplomats in Brazil in 1989, declassified files show

Terror group planned to kidnap Israelis in Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Correio Braziliense reports, citing newly revealed documents

RIO DE JANEIRO – The terrorist group Hezbollah sent operatives to Brazil in order to commit attacks on diplomatic representatives of Israel, according to previously classified documents.

Latin America’s largest nation was targeted by the Lebanese terrorist group at least twice, most recently in 1989, reported the Correio Braziliense newspaper on Saturday. Hezbollah operatives planned to kidnap Israeli diplomats in both the capital city of Brasilia and in Sao Paulo. The information had been restricted to the military and top-level officials in Brazil and Israel until last month, and has now been made public.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hezbollah-targeted-israeli-diplomats-in-brazil-in-1989-declassified-files-show/

 

 

The U.S. military’s stats on deadly airstrikes are wrong. Thousands have gone unreported

By: Andrew deGrandpre and Shawn Snow, February 5, 2017 (Photo Credit: Capt. Jarrod Morris/Army)

The American military has failed to publicly disclose potentially thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, a Military Times investigation has revealed. The enormous data gap raises serious doubts about transparency in reported progress against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Taliban, and calls into question the accuracy of other Defense Department disclosures documenting everything from costs to casualty counts.

In 2016 alone, U.S. combat aircraft conducted at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan that were not recorded as part of an open-source database maintained by the U.S. Air Force, information relied on by Congress, American allies, military analysts, academic researchers, the media and independent watchdog groups to assess each war’s expense, manpower requirements and human toll. Those airstrikes were carried out by attack helicopters and armed drones operated by the U.S. Army, metrics quietly excluded from otherwise comprehensive monthly summaries, published online for years, detailing American military activity in all three theaters.

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/airstrikes-unreported-syria-iraq-afghanistan-islamic-state-al-qaeda-taliban

 

Video reveals the moment a suicide boat rams Saudi Arabian warship

The Saudi Arabian defence force video, obtained by Al Arabiya News, showing the suicide-boat strike.

Staff writers, agenciesNews Corp Australia Network

DRAMATIC video has emerged of the moment a suicide boat rammed a Saudi frigate last week — an attack believed to have been intended for a US warship.

The Al Arabia news network has released the footage, taken from the frigate’s air operations observation platform overlooking the helicopter pad on the rear of the ship.

It had been previously reported that the ship had been hit by a guided missile. But the footage reveals a Yemeni rebel speed boat dashing over the horizon and into the warship’s stern.

The Saudi warship has returned to its home port in Jeddah on Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s national news agency said.

“The frigate, which was attacked by the Huthi militia while on patrol in the Red Sea, has returned to Jeddah as planned,” the Saudi Press Agency reports.

Saudi Arabia said last week that two sailors were killed and three wounded when battleship Al-Madinah was hit by a Yemeni rebel “suicide” boat strike off the Red Sea port of Hodeida.

http://www.news.com.au/world/video-reveals-the-moment-a-suicide-boat-rams-saudi-arabian-warship/news-story/9b170528b37adc119bb7dd057737ffbb

 

Western navies hold major drill off coast of Iran

British-led ‘United Trident’ exercises come in light of increased Iranian harassment of naval vessels in Persian Gulf

File: The USS Stennis on its way to the Persian Gulf in 2012. (Department of Defense/Randi R. Brown, US Navy)

File: The USS Stennis on its way to the Persian Gulf in 2012. (Department of Defense/Randi R. Brown, US Navy)

Western navies held a series of drills off the coast of Iran last week, in a show of force in light of increased Iranian harassment of foreign military vessels.

The exercises, dubbed “United Trident,” were led by the United Kingdom and included ships from the US, France and Australia. The navies practiced fighting off enemy aerial incursions and mine clearing, as well as live fire drills, according to the British daily Telegraph.

The final drill featured 13 ships from the allied navies sailing in formation, with helicopters flying overhead.

British naval officials told the Telegraph that the drills had been planned for some time and were not connected to US President Donald Trump’s recent adoption of a more hardline stance against Iran, which resulted in the imposition of sanctions Friday on a number of individuals and entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile program. Rather, they said, they were rather meant to promote stability in the Persian Gulf and to ensure “the free flow of commerce” through the Strait of Hormuz.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/western-navies-hold-major-drill-off-coast-of-iran/

 

 

NORAD Exercise in Washington DC

The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region, will conduct exercise Falcon Virgo 17-05 Monday night into Tuesday morning in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C., with flights scheduled to take place between approximately midnight and 2:30 a.m. (EST).

In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will take place the following morning. If bad weather continues, officials will then make a decision to postpone or cancel the exercise.
The exercise is comprised of a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Coordination Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, and the Western Air Defense Sector.

Exercise Falcon Virgo is designed to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations as well as operationally test the NCR Visual Warning System and training personnel at the JADOC. Two Civil Air Patrol C-182 aircraft and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter will participate in the exercise.
These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure CONR’s rapid response capability. NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

 

Russia tells Britain give back Gibraltar & Falklands before telling US what to do

RUSSIA has told Britain it should “clean its conscience” and give back Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands before it criticises them over their involvement in Ukraine.

Vitaly and Churkin and Matthew Rycroft clashed during a UN security council

Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin made the shocking remarks when responding to his British counterpart Matthew Rycroft at a UN security council meeting in New York.Speaking about the 2014 ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, he said: “I can only remind you that everything began with a coup, largely supported from outside the country.”

Laying into Britain, he said: “As for the position of the UK representative, I would liket to advise: give back the Malvinas [Falkland] Islands, give back Gibraltar, return the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which you turned into a huge military base.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/763255/Russia-Britain-Gibraltar-Falkland-Islands-Crimea-Ukraine

Serbian Defense Ministry to Receive Six MiG-29 Jets From Russia by May

Russian specialists would help Belgrade modernize six aircraft to be received from Russia, as well as four fighter jets from the Serbian Air Force fleet, according to local media.

BELGRADE (Sputnik) — The Serbian Defense Ministry will receive six Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia before the end of April, Serbian media reported Sunday.

According to the Tanjug news agency, citing the ministry, Russian specialists would help Belgrade modernize six aircraft to be received from Russia, as well as four fighter jets from the Serbian Air Force fleet.

Belgrade expects that after the modernization the aircraft would begin service as part of the country’s 204th Air Brigade by 2018, the media outlet added.
https://sputniknews.com/military/201702051050367942-serbia-russia-mig-29/

Jordan hits ISIL targets in southern Syria

Military strikes armed group two years after a Jordanian pilot was captured and burned alive in a cage.

Jordan said its forces used drones and precision-guided munitions in the operation [File: EPA]

Jordan said late on Saturday that its warplanes bombed positions held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in southern Syria, two years after one of its pilots was captured and killed by the armed group.

Friday’s strikes came on the second anniversary of ISIL’s release of video showing pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh being burned alive in a cage after his aircraft crashed in Syria in December 2014.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/jordan-isil-syria-170205054336070.html

NATO to Start Training Soldiers in Iraq

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will begin its training effort in Iraq on Sunday, as the alliance looks to step up its efforts to assist in the fight against Islamic State, according to NATO’s secretary-general.

The effort to train Iraqi soldiers in how to better counter the threat of improvised explosive devices inside Iraq will be small at first, but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it is an effort that could expand.

 http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/nato-to-start-training-soldiers-in-iraq

US embarrassed after deadly Yemen raid video outed as fake

In an awkward reversal, the US military promptly withdrew an old video by unidentified Yemeni militants it had released yesterday as evidence that a fatal raid in Yemen by American special forces this week that led to the deaths of at least 16 women and children was a counterterrorism success.

An expert in radical Muslim media said the footage by unknown militants appeared to be part of videos first released by extremists online some ten years ago, undermining the Pentagon’s explanation about its value.

A US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman confirmed that the video was removed from the website because the contents were old.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170204-us-embarrassed-after-deadly-yemen-raid-video-outed-as-fake/

Turkey detains some 400 IS suspects in nationwide raids: Reports

#TurkeyAtWar

Even in the usually peaceful city of Izmir, nine people suspected of travelling to Syria and planning attacks in the city were detained

Turkish police on Sunday detained hundreds of suspected members of the Islamic State group in nationwide raids, just over a month after an attack on an Istanbul nightclub claimed by the militants.

Among around 400 detained in the biggest operation so far against IS after the New Year attack were foreigners and those suspected of planning attacks in Turkey, the Dogan and Anadolu news agencies reported.

The operation around the country saw 150 suspects detained in Sanliurfa in the southeast and 47 in the nearby city of Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border, Dogan said

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/turkey-detains-400-suspects-nationwide-raids-1423083348

Sweden to consider military partnership with UK

As well as the UK, six other Nato countries – Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands – are Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) members.
“We have also held discussions with Finland and will undertake a joint analysis of potential participation in JEF. We will coordinate our position on this,” Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
JEF has no standing forces, but participating countries provide various units that can respond in a crisis situation.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron offers refuge to US scientists who are ‘afraid’ of Trump

  • Emmanuel Macron encouraged US scientists to move to France on Saturday
  • He offered his homeland to innovators who could help rebuild the country
  • Macron didn’t name Trump but referenced the American president in his speech
  • The former economy minister said those ‘who were fighting obscurantism and afraid, will have a new homeland’ 

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron called on U.S. scientists who were ‘afraid’ and at odds with Donald Trump’s administration to move to France.

The former economy minister urged U.S.-based scientists working on climate change, renewable energy or health issues to seek refuge across the Atlantic on Saturday.

He offered his homeland up to the inventive minds who were wary of the new political situation, so they could help rebuild a more innovative France.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4192728/Emmanuel-Macron-offers-refugee-scientists-France.html#ixzz4XoqaTX6b

German Social Democrats leader wants to send refugees back to North Africa

The chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD) has said a comprehensive approach to the migrant crisis had to involve the return of refugees to North Africa. His words echoed sentiments made by Germany’s interior minister.

Deutschland Thomas Oppermann, Fraktionsvorsitzender der SPD (picture-alliance/dpa/B.v. Jutrczenka)

Marking a shift in his party’s rhetoric, the chairman of the SPD-Parliamentary Group, Thomas Oppermann, spoke out in favor of sending refugees arriving on boats back to North Africa. In an editorial he penned in the Sunday edition of the German daily newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, Oppermann justified his view arguing that this would be an important step to curb human trafficking.

http://www.dw.com/en/german-social-democrats-leader-wants-to-send-refugees-back-to-north-africa/a-37418869

US and Japan carry out missile launch drills in Pacific – Tokyo

A test launch of US/Japan-made anti-ballistic SM-3 missiles in the Pacific Ocean has gone off successfully, Japanese officials said. The test was conducted in cooperation with the United States.

The SM-3 Block IIA missiles were launched from a US warship equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and successfully hit a hypothetical target – a ballistic missile, Japan’s Logistics Agency under the Defense Ministry said, according to Japan’s state newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

The drills took place in the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday, the agency added.

https://www.rt.com/news/376325-japan-us-drills-missile/

North Korea Possibly Supplying Missile Technology to Iran — Did Obama Know

– The Washington Times 

Speculation is mounting that North Korea is supplying missile technology to the real Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Recent missile tests coming out of Tehran have caused the Trump administration to once again apply targeted sanctions against the regime.  For its part, Iran has declared that it will continue the missile tests and that they do not violate the agreement reached with the Obama administration.

The North Korean analysis site, 38North.org, reported on the recent Iranian test, saying, “[Some analysts have ] speculated that it relies on a liquid-fueled engine originally developed by the Isayev Design Bureau for the Soviet R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile … The ramifications of such a connection would be significant, not only because it would signify ongoing close Iranian-North Korean missile cooperation, but also because such an engine would be a foundation for Iran to develop a viable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).”

The website went on to say very forcefully that the reports of such collaboration are unconfirmed.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/4/north-korea-possibly-supplying-missile-technology-/?

S Korea opens €100mn LOC for Iranian producers

News ID: 3896318 – Sat 4 February 2017 – 19:32
TEHRAN, Feb. 04 (MNA) – EDBI head said South Korea had allocated a Line of Credit (LOC) worth 100 million euros for imports of raw materials manufactured in Iran.

Ali Salehabadi, Managing Director of the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI), pointed to arrival of a cargo for equipment of Chabahar Port Phase one saying “Indians are extremely eager to make presence in the Iranian port and the Leader has also urged inclusion of sustainable development of Mokran Shores in the Sixth National Development Plan.”

“Cargos worth 350 million dollars have been received for development of Chabahar port in partnership with EDBI,” he added.

http://en.mehrnews.com/news/123255/S-Korea-opens-100mn-LOC-for-Iranian-producers

Two-thirds of British people think selling arms to Saudi Arabia is unacceptable

Findings come days before judicial review into UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen

May Bulman

 

Nearly two-thirds of people in the UK oppose exporting arms to Saudi Arabia, a survey has found.

An Opinium poll of 2,000 UK adults found 62 per cent of them disagreed with the arms sales from the UK to the Middle Eastern nation, with only 11 per cent supporting them.

Nearly one in four respondents — 71 per cent — meanwhile opposed arms exports to countries that have been accused of violating international humanitarian law, with the same proportion opposing arms exports to countries with poor human rights records. Less than six per cent of people supported these acts.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-two-thirds-oppose-arms-sales-uk-british-people-a7563576.html

British warships ‘so noisy’ Russian submarines can hear them 100 miles away, investigation finds

Britain’s ability to defend itself against a major attack has been called into question after an investigation found serious shortcomings in the country’s military capabilities.

The Navy’s Type 45 destroyers are so loud they can be heard 100 miles away by Russian submarines, it has emerged.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry said the six warships, which cost £1 billion each, sounded like “a box of spanners” underwater.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/05/british-warships-noisy-russian-submarines-can-hear-100-miles/

Revealed: UK defence ‘at risk’ due to billions wasted on trophy kit including warships that ‘sound like a box of spanners’ and can be heard by Russian subs 100 MILES away

  • The nay’s six Type 45 destroyers, which cost £1billion each, are ‘as noisy as hell’ 
  • The Ajax tank has to be dismantled before it is transported by air in the A400m 
  • And 54 reconnaissance drones have not been used since order 12 years ago
  • MoD defended blunders by saying defence budget is the biggest in Europe 

The Ministry of Defence was criticised last night for leaving Britain vulnerable to attack due to a series of equipment blunders.

New tanks are too big to fit in the planes that will get them to warzones and our ships and can be heard by Russian submarines 100 miles away, it has emerged.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry described the navy’s Type 45 destroyers, which cost £1billion each, as sounding like ‘a box of spanners’ underwater.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry described the navy’s Type 45 destroyers, which cost £1billion each, as sounding like ‘a box of spanners’ underwater

He said they were ‘noisy as hell’ and slammed the MoD for not ‘thinking about the anti-submarine element’.

They also suffer frequent engine problems which cause them to break down in warm seas despite being designed to function between 50C and -20C.

All six are having new diesel generators installed which involves cutting a hole in the side of the ships and will take around nine years.

Meanwhile, the Army’s Ajax tanks, which cost £3.5bn each, can’t fit on board the A400m transport aircraft without needing to be dismantled.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4192894/Britain-vulnerable-attack-defence-blunders.html#ixzz4XouLbpvS

Sources: Feds identify Philly woman in probe of secret recordings at GOP retreat

[Editor’s Note: While this is a political story it indicates that the Secret Service failed to properly control access to a place where the Vice President was speaking. ]

by Jeremy Roebuck & Jonathan Tamari – Staff Writers

Federal authorities have identified a Philadelphia journalist as the woman who infiltrated and might have secretly recorded a closed-door discussion of congressional Republicans at their Center City retreat last week, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the matter.

After a probe involving multiple agencies, they said Emily Guendelsberger is unlikely to face federal charges in Philadelphia, despite getting past security and into a room in the Loews hotel where Vice President Pence met privately with senators and representatives.

Navy decommissions ‘legendary’ carrier that shaped history

USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.  (U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Navy has officially decommissioned the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

During Friday’s ceremony at a Newport News shipyard, the USS Enterprise was described as a “legendary” vessel that helped shape history. It served more than 50 years, playing a role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Affectionately called the “Big E,” the ship retired from service in 2012. The Navy has spent the last few years defueling its reactors. The ship will eventually be taken apart and its metal recycled.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/03/navy-decommissions-legendary-carrier-that-shaped-history.html

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January 22, 2017

  • PM says focus of her meeting with Trump in Washington on Friday will be Nato, Russia and trade  
  • ‘Special relationship enables us to say when we think things are unacceptable’
  • May will be first world leader to meet President Trump in the White House
  • Trump calls her ‘my new Maggie’ and he returned Churchill bust to Oval Office
  • May says she looks forward to welcoming Trump to Britain ‘sometime this year’

Theresa May has confirmed she will meet new US President Donald Trump for talks at the White House on Friday.

In a major victory for No 10 she will be the first world leader to visit President Trump in the White House and they will meet less than a week after his inauguration.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4144850/Theresa-confirms-ll-meet-Donald-Trump-Friday.html#ixzz4WV1WJejq

Number 10 ‘cover up’ of botched Trident missile test was ‘stupid’ and makes us look like North Korea, ex-navy chief blasts as Theresa May refuses FOUR TIMES to say if she knew of failed test

  • Missile was fired from HMS Vengeance during test in June near coast of Florida
  • Reported malfunction took place just before vote on renewing Trident
  • Theresa May was accused of omitting any reference to the failed test 

A major malfunction in the UK's Trident nuclear missile deterrent was covered up by Downing Street, it was claimed last night 

A major malfunction in the UK’s Trident nuclear missile deterrent was covered up by Downing Street, it was claimed last night

The former head of the Royal Navy blasted No10 today over its ‘bizarre and stupid’ decision to ‘cover up’ a major malfunction in the UK’s Trident nuclear missile deterrent and said it made Britain look like North Korea.

It was claimed last night that Downing Street imposed a ‘news blackout’ about the failed test just weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Today Theresa May refused four times to say if she knew about a major malfunction in the UK’s Trident nuclear missile deterrent.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4144200/Trident-fiasco-covered-No10.html#ixzz4WV26YM9k

Yemeni officials say suspected US drone strike kills 3 alleged Al Qaeda operatives

They say the two Saturday strikes killed Abu Anis al-Abi, an area field commander, and two others. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/22/yemeni-officials-say-suspected-us-drone-strike-kills-3-alleged-al-qaeda-operatives.html

US Army selects replacement to iconic M9 pistol after 30 years of service

US Army selects replacement to iconic M9 pistol after 30 years of service
The US Army has selected the Swiss-designed Sig Sauer P320 to replace the iconic M9 Beretta, the Army’s pistol of choice for more than three decades. The P320’s size and caliber can be configured by the shooter without tools, the Army says.

A $580 million fixed-price contract for the so-called Modular Handgun System including handgun, accessories, and ammunition to replace the current M9 standard service pistol of the US Army has been awarded to Sig Sauer, a Swiss firearms manufacturer, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The announcement comes following the US Army’s search for a new handgun. The Beretta M9, the current sidearm, officially entered service with the US military in 1990, beating out many contenders. However, reliability issues, design flaws, and concerns over low stopping power began emerging with time.

https://www.rt.com/usa/374620-us-army-new-sidearm/

Moscow acts to oust Iran from Syria, bombs ISIS

For Putin, the injection of Hizballah into a major Syrian battle came at an awkward moment in terms of his diplomatic strategy on the eve of the Syrian peace conference that opens in Astana, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 23, under his joint sponsorship with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

The Russian leader had already given his co-sponsor a commitment to initiate a resolution at Astana demanding the withdrawal of all pro-Iranian militias from Syria, including Hizballah. This aimed at pacifying Syrian opposition groups but was also meant to demonstrate to President Trump that Moscow would be a strong partner in the war on ISIS while also ready to clip Iran’s wings and influence in the affairs of Syria and Lebanon.

At the same time, Russian war strategists appreciate the urgency of averting the fall of Deir ez-our and its air base to the Islamists. This catastrophe would negatively impact the entire campaign against the terrorist organization on its three main fronts, Mosul, Raqqa and Palmyra, and count as ISIS’ biggest victory in the past year.

https://www.debka.com/article/25897/Moscow-acts-to-oust-Iran-from-Syria-bombs-ISIS

China warns Japan against interfering in Taiwan affairs

China has warned Japan against interfering in Taiwan’s affairs following a media report saying Tokyo’s armed forces plan a tabletop exercise this week on the assumption that there will be a military clash between the Chinese mainland and the self-ruled island.

“The Taiwan issue is internal affairs of China. We hope the Japanese side will speak and act cautiously,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing, when asked about the Kyodo News report, adding that Tokyo should not take any action that would undermine peace and stability in the region.

The report, released on Jan 18, said Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will conduct the simulated exercise from Monday to Friday, with the U.S. military taking part in it as an observer.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/china-warns-japan-against-interfering-in-taiwan-affairs

 

Taiwan expected to complete F-16 upgrades within six years: AIDC

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) said it has begun an upgrade of the country’s fleet of U.S.-manufactured F-16 fighter jets and that the work is expected to be completed within six years.

The first batch of four F-16s is being upgraded at the AIDC’s plant, said the company, adding that a new hangar will be launched soon to facilitate the retrofit program.

In order to carry out the program locally, the manufacturer of the jets — Lockheed Martin in the United States — sent its engineers to Taiwan last year and helped train local personnel at the AIDC on how to perform the upgrades to improve the aircraft’s combat capability.

According to the AIDC, the retrofit program will include installing advanced equipment on the fighters, including the AN/APG active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, currently used in the U.S. F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft. The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and the short-range air-to-air missile AIM-9 Sidewinder will also be installed.

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2017/01/21/490036/Taiwan-expected.htm

China party paper says no ‘provocation’ can stop its military drills

China’s military will carry out drills regardless of foreign provocations and pressure, the Communist Party’s paper said on Sunday, adding that exercises far out at sea like those conducted recently by its sole aircraft carrier will become normal.

China caused unease among some countries in the region last month when the carrier the Liaoning, accompanied by several warships, cruised around self-ruled Taiwan and into the Pacific for what China called routine drills.

Earlier this month, Taiwan scrambled fighter jets and navy ships as the Liaoning then passed through the narrow waterway separating China from the island Beijing claims as its own.For its part, China was alarmed this month when U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson said China should be denied access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.

The People’s Daily said no amount of “word bombs”, such as Tillerson’s South China Sea remarks, could stop China’s military drills.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-defence-idUSKBN15602H

China commissions 31st stealth warship

Chinese media have said the U.S. has to wage a war with China if America blocks it from accessing the artificial islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.

Rapidly expanding its naval fleet, China has commissioned its 31st stealth warship as it got its battle group under its first aircraft carrier ready amid tensions with the U.S. and other nations over its assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy has commissioned its 31st Type—056 class corvette, marking a new addition to the world’s largest fleet of modern corvettes, official media reported.

With a maximum speed of 52 km/h, the ship features good manoeuvrability, a high-level of automation and stealth capability, and is capable of hitting aircraft, ships and submarines, the PLA Daily, the official organ of the Chinese military said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/China-commissions-31st-stealth-warship/article17077870.ece

Italian brother and sister arrested over cyber espionage operation which tapped emails of ex-prime ministers and Vatican cardinals

Francesca Maria Occhionero is accused of hacking into thousands of email accounts along with her brother, a nuclear engineer.
Francesca Maria Occhionero is accused of hacking into thousands of email accounts along with her brother, a nuclear engineer. CREDIT: FACEBOOK

An Italian nuclear engineer and his sister have been arrested by police on charges of conducting a massive cyber-espionage operation that hacked into the emails of two former prime ministers, Vatican cardinals and Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank.

Giulio Occhionero, 45, and his sister Francesca Maria Occhionero, 48, who have residency in the UK but are believed to have been most recently living in Italy, were arrested on charges of stealing state secrets and illegal hacking.

Mr Occhionero, who investigators said had strong links to the Masonic movement, allegedly developed software that infected email accounts, enabling him to access the information.

He called the “malware” or computer virus “Eye Pyramid” – an apparent reference to the all-seeing eye of God, or Eye of Providence, a symbol often associated with Freemasonry that appears on the US one dollar bill.  The name of the software may also have been a play on his own surname – Occhionero means “black eye” in Italian.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/10/italian-brother-sister-arrested-cyber-espionage-operation-tapped/

Greece sells its national railway operator to Italy

Greece’s national rail company TrainOSE has been sold to Italy’s state railway group Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) for €45 million ($48.1 million).

The sale is part of Greece’s €86 billion bailout agreed with international creditors two years ago. The privatization of state assets is a condition of the bailout deal though it contradicts Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ pre-election promise not to privatize the country’s infrastructure.

Athens has agreed to sell the rail operator and other state assets aiming to earn €5.8 billion by 2018.

According to FS Chief Executive Renato Mazzoncini, the acquisition of TrainOSE is “an opportunity for growth and improvement both for FS which carries on its international development and for the Greek railways which will be able to take advantage of FS’s know-how and experience.”

https://www.rt.com/business/374104-greece-rail-company-sale/

Many Arrested Inauguration Day Protesters Will Face Felony Rioting Charges, Prosecutors Say

WASHINGTON (CBSNEWS/AP) – Most of the approximately 230 protesters arrested on Inauguration Day will be charged with felony rioting, federal prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The office said most of those arrested will be released without having to post bail and must return to court in February.

A first group of 10 men appeared in Superior Court just before 3 p.m., and their lawyer entered a not guilty plea on their behalf. A judge released all of them on the condition they not get re-arrested in the District of Columbia.

Interim D.C. police chief Peter Newsham said Friday that 217 people were being charged with rioting.

Many Arrested Inauguration Day Protesters Will Face Felony Rioting Charges, Prosecutors Say

 

 

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