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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Trauma on the battlefield and The Watch

Earlier this week I went though crowd control training and one of the items covered was use of a tourniquet in case of a major injury. And we were told, in the era of the Boston Bombings, etc, we should expect more of this. Personally I started carrying on tourniquet in my body armor a couple of years ago, and after this class I'll carry two. Better to have and not need, that to need and not have.

From PoliceOne, a good review of lessons learned from the front, lessons that can help us on The Watch.

6 life-saving lessons for cops learned on the battlefield

In a critical incident, there is an unspecified amount of time where even the best intentioned EMTs may not be able to get to you — you are on your own

Mar 16, 2016

Much of what we do as police officers today in self-aid/buddy-aid was passed on by our military troops who paid a high price for the lessons learned. But what is now accepted practice for them is still somewhat of a hard sell for law enforcement. Many officers fall prey to complacency and an “it will never happen to me” attitude.

Calls for service are “come as you are” events. Absent the proper training and the necessary equipment on your person, the potential for a bad outcome is high. There are generally three categories of injuries in the field:

1. Injuries that no matter where you are or what resources are available, you are going to die

2. Injuries that no matter where you are or what resources are available, you're going to live

3. Injuries where what you do — or don’t do — before more definitive medical care is available will be the difference between whether you live or die

The third category of injuries is the area we must focus on. In a critical incident, there is an unspecified amount of time where even the best intentioned EMTs and paramedics may not be able to get to you — you are on your own. You must be prepared with the necessary training and equipment. Let’s look to a lesson learned in Iraq for an example of precisely how important this training and equipment is.

An Attack in Iraq
On September 11, 2004 — while deployed to Iraq — U.S. Army Staff Sergeant/Medic (ret.) Chris Cook was en route to the “Green Zone” hospital with blood samples from his unit's medical facility. A three-vehicle convoy was stopped by US forces due to a hidden Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that had been buried in the roadside and blocked their path. The convoy commander elected to stop (breaking a cardinal rule) and provide perimeter security while awaiting an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team.

The convoy, consisting of three 1/2 armored Humvees armed with .50 caliber and M249 SAW machine guns, formed a 360 degree perimeter. Cook was positioned on the road side of the convoy. After approximately 30 minutes, a lone vehicle broke out of the normal traffic flow and drove in the direction of the convoy at a high rate of speed.

A little voice inside Cook’s head told him this was a bad thing — a very bad thing. His training kicked in as he raised his M16A2 rifle and aligned his sights on the forehead of the driver and squeezed off two rounds. Immediately after firing the second round, the vehicle exploded approximately 25-30 yards from Cook’s position. He doesn’t recall hearing the explosion, but saw a bright orange ball of flames and felt the heat from it. The force of the blast slammed him to the ground next to his Humvee which was engulfed in flames.

He grabbed the brush guards in an attempt to stand, but couldn’t. His vision was blurred as he looked down through his protective glasses. He flicked off his eyewear to see his left leg from the knee down twisted and backwards. Blood was visible on his camouflage uniform and he could read the blood type marked on the back of his boots. His right ankle had swollen to the size of a softball.

He tried to stand again, but couldn’t. Then the pain started — intense pain as if his legs were on fire. He flashed back to his training and heard his instructor’s voice yelling “ambush…ambush…ambush.”

One of his buddies came to his aid and dragged him clear of the burning vehicles. Cook — at over 200 lbs. fully kitted — was dead weight. As he rolled onto his back, he remembered that about a week prior, he’d been issued a Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT). CATs were issued to all medics with instructions to keep them handy at all times. He rolled onto his back, removed the CAT from a pocket on his body armor, and attempted to open it from the factory wrapper.

His heart was racing, his hands were shaking, his leg was visibly a mess, and he no longer had the fine motor skills to remove the CAT from its packaging. Fearing he would soon go unconscious and bleed out, he began to gnaw at the packaging. He was finally able to remove the CAT and apply it to his injured leg in time to save his life.

Lessons Learned
Cook was subsequently rescued by members of another unit who arrived on scene. He was taken to the 31st Combat Surgical Hospital in the “Green Zone,” which ironically was where he was headed before the explosion. There, he would undergo the first of 21 surgeries to repair the near amputation of his left leg, a fractured right ankle, and numerous other shrapnel injuries. This was the start of a long and arduous road to physical and mental recovery.

Many thoughts went through his mind during those critical moments. He offers the following key learning points:


1. Stop the threat. The best medical care in the world is of no value if you’re dead. That day, my training saved my life.

2. If you are going to carry a piece of equipment, whether it be in the military or law enforcement, train with it. Don’t just put it into a fancy MOLLE pouch and forget about it. In doing so, when the time comes, you will not have the necessary skills to use it effectively and efficiently.

3. Tourniquets must be placed on your kit so that they can be accessed with either hand. In the event one arm is incapacitated, it would be a shame to bleed to death from survivable extremity wound with a tourniquet only an arms-length away.

4. Unless the medical kit has to remain in the factory packaging to maintain sterility, remove it. Under stress, it’s unlikely you will possess the fine motor skills necessary to remove a tourniquet from its packaging.

5. Have a proven system in place for moving/dragging a casualty to safety and train with dead weight consistent with a real operator in full gear. This is not easy, but it’s absolutely essential.

6. Develop and maintain BUSHIDO — the “way of the warrior.” This mindset can and will help you triumph over your adversary, no matter your location, mission or circumstance...

I can't recall who said it, but it fits with this story: "Any fool can learn from his own mistakes. I want to learn from other men's mistakes."

Be safe out there.

The Left and Western Civilization: A Hate Story.

I remember years ago that idiot who calls himself a reverend, Jessee Jackson, chanting at a university, "Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Western Civ has got to go!" And one by one universities began to eliminate one of the basic tenants of a well rounded education, a look at Western Civilization. But we have a reason. Because the Left hates a unified America. And this articles explain it well.
Why the Left Loathes Western Civilization

This month Stanford University students voted on a campus resolution that would have had their college require a course on Western civilization — as it did until the 1980s.

Stanford students rejected the proposal 1,992 to 347. A columnist in the Stanford Daily explained why: Teaching Western civilization means “upholding white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism, and all other oppressive systems that flow from Western civilizations.”

The vote and the column encapsulated the Left’s view of Western civilization: In Europe, Latin America, and America, the Left loathes Western civilization.

Wherever there is conflict between the West — identified as white, capitalist, or of European roots — and the non-West, the Left portrays the West as the villain.

I am referring to the Left, not to liberals. The latter generally venerated Western civilization. President Franklin Roosevelt, for example, frequently spoke of defending “Christian civilization.” Today, the Left would revile any Westerner who used such language as xenophobic, racist, and Fascist.

The Left similarly describes any suggestion that anything Western is superior to anything non-Western. Likewise, the Left dismisses virtually all Western achievements, but regards criticism of anything non-Western as racist, chauvinistic, imperialist, colonialist, xenophobic, etc.

That is why the Left is so protective of Islam. America’s first left-wing president, Barack Obama, will not use, or allow the government to use, the words “Islamic terrorism”; and all criticism of Islam is labeled “Islamophobic,” thereby morally equating any such criticism with racism. It is not that the Left is sympathetic to Islam; the Left has contempt for all religions. It is that many Muslims loathe the West, and the enemies of my enemy (the West) must be protected.

That is why the Left loathes Israel. If the Left actually cared about human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, or freedom of speech, religion, and the press, it would be wildly pro-Israel. But Israel, in the Left’s view, is white, European, and colonialist; in other words, Western. And the Palestinians are non-Western.

So, then, the Big Question is, Why? Why is the Left hostile to Western civilization?

After decades of considering this question, the answer, I have concluded, is: standards.

The Left hates standards – moral standards, artistic standards, cultural standards. The West is built on all three, and has excelled in all three.

The Left hates standards because when there are standards, there is judgment.
Why does the Left hate standards?

It hates standards because when there are standards, there is judgment. And Leftists don’t want to be judged.

Thus Michelangelo is no better than any contemporary artist, and Rembrandt is no greater than any non-Western artist. So, too, street graffiti, which are essentially the defacing of public and private property — and thus serve to undermine civilization — are “art.”

Melody-free, harmony-free, atonal sounds are just as good as Beethoven’s music. And Western classical music is no better than the music of any non-Western civilization.

Guatemalan poets are every bit as worthy of study as Shakespeare.

When the Nobel Prize–winning American novelist Saul Bellow was quoted as saying, “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans?” all hell broke loose on the cultural Left. Bellow had implied that the greatest writers of fiction were Western.

Why such antagonism? Because if some art is really better than other art, your art may be judged inferior. The narcissism of left-wing thought does not allow for anyone to be better than you artistically or in any other way. Therefore, all art and artists must be equal.

In the moral realm, the same rejection of standards exists. Thus, the Left loathed Ronald Reagan for labeling the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” That would mean that America was morally superior to the Soviet Union. And such a judgment was unacceptable. The whole left-wing moral vocabulary is a rejection of Western moral standards: “tolerance,” “inclusion,” “anti-discrimination” (by definition, standards discriminate), “non-judgmental,” and even “income inequality,” which deems some people’s work more valuable than that of others.

Every civilization had slavery. But only thanks to Judeo-Christian civilization was slavery abolished there and eventually elsewhere. Nevertheless, to speak about any moral superiority of Western or Judeo-Christian civilization is completely unacceptable thanks to the Left’s stranglehold on education and most media.

In this regard, the protection of Islam on the Left is so thorough that one cannot even say such obvious truths as that the status of women has been far superior in the Judeo-Christian West than in the Islamic world. The veil, for example, is dehumanizing; yet, in a speech at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a rabbi, at the time the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said that the veil “deserves our respect.”

And finally, we come to the Left’s loathing of the religions of Western civilization — the Judeo-Christian religions, with their clear standards of right and wrong.

Bible-based religions affirm a morally judging God. For the Left, that is anathema. For the Left, the only judging allowed is Leftist judging of others. No one judges the Left. Neither man nor God.

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com. © 2016 Creators.com

What's going on in the World Today 160501

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USA

NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT

AFRICA

A Dormant Saharan Conflict Threatens to Awaken

A long-dormant conflict between Morocco and the ethnic Sahrawi people who inhabit the disputed Western Sahara territory, which both parties claim, threatens to escalate. Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council will take up a crucial vote on April 29 that likely will decide the fate of its peacekeeping mission there. In March, the Moroccan government expelled civilians attached to the mission after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called Morocco's presence in Western Sahara an "occupation." A U.N. report released a month later detailed the state of the standoff between the Polisario Front, an armed Sahrawi activist group, and Moroccan forces, magnifying fears of renewed fighting between the two. Now, the ambiguous status of the peacekeeping mission is driving U.N. concerns surrounding the conflict in Western Sahara, which Ban said could erupt into "full-scale war."...

ASIA

North Korea: Mid-Range Missile Test Fails, Officials Say April 28, 2016

North Korea fired off what appeared to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile early on April 28, but the launch seems to have failed, unnamed military officials said, Yonhap reported. The missile, assumed to be the same Musudan model tested by the North on April 15, appeared to crash several seconds after launch, the officials said. The projectile was launched around 6:40 a.m. from the vicinity of Wonsan. The April 15 test also exploded shortly after launch. For Pyongyang to fulfill its deterrence goals, it must first carry out successful practical tests of ICBM component systems.

EUROPE

In Europe, a Crisis in Every Direction

During the early stages of the EU crisis, most threats to the survival of the Continental bloc came from its periphery. Back then the prevailing fear was that financial disaster in a southern member state — a default in Greece or Portugal, for example — could precipitate the eurozone's collapse, hurting northern nations such as Germany and the Netherlands in the process. Though the possibility still exists, a sort of inverse threat has emerged. Today, the steady rise of anti-establishment and Euroskeptic sentiments in Northern Europe, as exemplified in Austria and Germany, threatens the Continent's south.....

France: Protests Over Labor Law Erupt At May Day Parade In Paris May 1, 2016

Clashes broke out between French police and demonstrators during a May Day parade in Paris, police said May 1, BBC reported. Trade unions used the traditional march to protest against a proposed labor law to be discussed by parliament on May 3. Police responded with tear gas when youths began throwing missiles, bringing the march to a standstill. France has seen two months of unrest over the reforms, which would remove some of the protection workers enjoy against being laid off, in an attempt to encourage businesses to hire more people. The government says the law's aim is to combat chronic unemployment, but opponents say it will let employers bypass workers' rights on pay, rest time and overtime rates.

Bulgaria: Balkan Heavyweight, Eurasian Lightweight

Summary

Bulgaria is Europe's oldest country — it existed in roughly its modern form in A.D. 700, long before most of its fellow EU member states. This fact, however, is deceptive. While Bulgaria existed at an early date, it spent seven of the ensuing 13 centuries under foreign control. The country's favorable geography gives it the potential to dominate its smaller Balkan neighbors, but has also fated it to rule by three empires: the Byzantines, the Ottomans and the Soviet Union...

Germany: Government Will Request Extension Of Schengen Border Controls, April 30, 2016

Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden will call for the European Commission to extend border Schengen Zone border controls beyond their original end date of May 12, German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said April 30, Reuters reported. Berlin and its partners hope to maintain the controls into November. Migrant flows through the Balkans have dropped recently, but Germany says that the European Union needs to continue to protect its external borders and seek transnational solutions. The migration crisis has prompted EU members to take unilateral action, exacerbating underlying political discord within the Continental bloc.


MEXICO/LATIN AMERICA

Chile: An Island of Stability in South America

Latin America's economies have reacted differently to the drop in global commodity prices over the past several years. With Chinese demand growth slowing and economic growth relatively slow in Europe and the United States, Latin America's commodity boom is essentially over. In Brazil, the decline in prices for key exports such as soybeans and iron ore exposed severe structural economic problems. In Venezuela, the drop in oil prices since 2014 plunged the country into a social crisis threatening the government's hold over the nation. But Chile is a different story....

AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan: Troops Battle Taliban To Hold Capital Of Uruzgan Province May 1, 2016

Afghan security forces have been battling to push back Taliban fighters seeking to cut off Tarin Kowt, the capital of the southern province of Uruzgan, officials said May 1, Reuters reported. The Taliban is seeking to isolate Tarin Kowt from outlying districts and over the past week has been fighting Afghan forces for control of the road between the town and Shawali Kot in Kandahar province. An Afghan army spokesman said troops had reopened the route but that insurgents had planted improvised explosive devices on the road. If Uruzgan province falls, the Taliban could use it as a springboard to launch attacks on Helmand and Kandahar further to the south. So far no additional foreign troops have been sent to bolster the defense, as they were in Helmand earlier this year, and coalition aircraft have not carried out airstrikes in support of Afghan troops.

Afghanistan: Government Launches Operations In 18 Provinces, April 30, 2016

The Afghan military kicked off anti-militant operations in 18 provinces backed by airstrikes and artillery, according to an April 30 Ministry of Defense statement, Reuters reported. The operations have targeted Taliban and Islamic State fighters, killing 80 in total over the last 24 hours. The government has lost six troops in the fighting. The Taliban launched its annual spring offensive April 12 and numerous foreign powers are working to find a lasting solution to the conflict.

A Hint of Irony in the Afghan Conflict

The Taliban have started their spring offensive of 2016, a year in which the coordination group charged with bringing peace to the country, perhaps ironically, has made its strongest push for resolution. The Afghan government has responded by pledging to ramp up security operations in kind. All this would appear to bode ill for the peace prospects of a country still in the throes of a 14-year war. But there are also some reasons for optimism. Many countries have a vested interest in securing Afghanistan, placed as it is to link the regions surrounding it. That is not to say peace will necessarily prevail, but it is to say that the future of Afghanistan, as with all countries, will be determined by the convergence of domestic politics, international politics and geopolitics...

CHINA

China's Expanding Military Influence in Central Asia

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, an unexplored frontier opened up for China to its west. Central Asia offered Beijing new sources of raw materials and new markets — not to mention a major transit zone for exports — to feed China's growing economy. But China did not have the military to buttress its economic position, nor did it want to upset Russia, a power wary of rising Chinese influence, especially in its former Soviet periphery. With these concerns in mind, Beijing carefully shaped a military and economic strategy for Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.



China's Security Ambitions in South and Central Asia

As China expands its economic reach, it is taking steps to protect its newfound interests abroad. On March 1, Beijing proposed a joint counterterrorism mechanism with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan in an effort to bolster security throughout the region. Though the initiative, if implemented, would not have an immediate impact on regional security or on China's geopolitical standing, it signals Beijing's intention to become more involved in security issues beyond its borders. As it does so, China will find itself shouldering more responsibility for providing and safeguarding stability throughout South and Central Asia — something that may not sit well with rival powers defending their own interests in the region...

China: Military Aircraft Makes First Public Landing On Artificial Island, April 18, 2016
A Chinese military aircraft landed at a new airport on the Fiery Cross Reef, an artificial island China built in disputed waters in the South China Sea, Reuters reported April 18. According to the official People's Liberation Army Daily, the military aircraft was on patrol over the South China Sea on April 17 when it responded to an emergency call to evacuate three seriously ill workers from the island. China began civilian test flights to the island in January, but its military had not publicly admitted to landing aircraft on the island. A military expert told the Global Times that the flight demonstrated that the island is up to military standards. China's construction projects on several South China Sea reefs and islets have stirred the ire of its Southeast Asian neighbors.

IRAN

Iran: Army Displays Russian Missile Defense System, April 17, 2016

Iran showed off parts of its new Russian S-300 missile defense system during National Army Day on April 17, Reuters reported. During an event in Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani said the country's armed forces and its missile defenses were no threat to neighboring countries, but would defend Iran. Russia delivered the first part of the S-300 missile defense system — which can engage multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles around 150 kilometers away — to Iran last week. Russia has said it canceled a contract to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West. But President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban in April 2015, after an interim agreement that paved the way for a full nuclear deal with Iran that ended international sanctions. Since then, Iran's hard-line conservative Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has carried out four ballistic missile tests, upsetting the United States in part to undermine Rouhani and his economic reform efforts that could disrupt Iran's political system.

IRAQ

Iraq: After Shiite Protesters Storm Parliament, Military Deployed To Green Zone, ├čApril 30, 2016

Baghdad declared a citywide state of emergency April 30 after hundreds of demonstrators loyal to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr marched over the Tigris River and into Baghdad's Green Zone, entering the parliament building, witnesses said, BBC reported. Major checkpoints into Baghdad have been sealed off, stopping traffic. Both military and police have been deployed to the Green Zone, sealing off entry and exit as well as internal roads. When entering earlier April 30, the crowd passed through a checkpoint but were not searched by government security forces and have reportedly been ransacking government buildings. The move came after lawmakers failed to carry out a vote to reshuffle the national government. The protesters chanted "the cowards ran away."

A sit-in by al-Sadr supporters began March 18 outside Baghdad's Green Zone, kicking off a round of near-constant protests. The pressure is meant to influence the Cabinet decisions of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. For several weeks, powerful political blocs have stalled voting on a new government. For over a year, protests calling for government reform were a regular feature in Iraqi politics. But when al-Sadr joined the protest scene, he brought with him supporters of his affiliated Badr Organization and al-Ahrar bloc. Also in Baghdad on April 30, an Islamic State suicide car bombing at a Shiite militia checkpoint in Dora district killed 19 Shiite pilgrims and wounded 48 others, Reuters reported. The pilgrims were going to the Imam Kadhim shrine.

Iraq: Green Zone Occupiers Congregate In Main Square As Their Ranks Swell, April 30, 2016

More protesters, including those not affiliated with Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, have gathered in the Green Zone's Grand Festivities Square, Rudaw reported. These crowds joined the al-Sadr followers who entered the zone in Baghdad that houses embassies and government buildings. The protesters are calling for parliament to complete the reshuffle of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Cabinet, a process that has stalled for weeks. The parliament did not reach a quorum in today's session and does not plan to reconvene until May 5.
Witnesses allege that al-Abadi allowed protesters to enter the Green Zone to prevent a violent breach, but the government has vehemently denied this. This weekend is a holiday in Iraq commemorating Shiite Imam Musa al-Kadhim, swelling the ranks of protesters.

Al-Sadr's militia, Saraya al-Salam, has helped police and military personnel to clear the government buildings of people, moving them into the square. Some protesters have set up tents inside the Green Zone. There have been no reports of fatalities, injuries or violence with the exception of one unconfirmed report of gunfire and tear gas.

Parliamentary Speaker Salim al-Jabouri has called on al-Sadr to have his demonstrators stand down while Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is insisting that the situation is under control. President Fuad Masum earlier called for demonstrators to leave the parliament building, which they have largely done. Masum also reiterated the need for the government to redouble its efforts to satisfy the demands of the Iraqi people related to the Cabinet reshuffle.

Around 20 Kurdish lawmakers have reportedly left Baghdad for Iraqi Kurdistan via the airport. Most roads in and out of the capital remain closed, but the route to the airport is reportedly open. The Shiite majority National Alliance is currently meeting to discuss what happens next. For over a year, protests calling for government reform were a regular feature in Iraqi politics. But when al-Sadr joined the protest scene, he brought with him supporters of his affiliated Badr Organization and al-Ahrar bloc.

Iraq: Protesters Peacefully Leave Green Zone May 1, 2016

Protesters camped out in Baghdad's Green Zone left the government district peacefully on May 1, Reuters reported. Before leaving, protesters issued an escalating set of demands, including a parliamentary vote on a technocrat government, the resignation of the president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker and new elections. Iraq has endured months of unrest prompted by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's attempt to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats as part of an anti-corruption drive. A divided parliament has failed to approve the proposal amid protests. Deep frustration over the deadlock culminated in a dramatic breach on April 30 of the Green Zone by supporters of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The peaceful defusing of the crisis came after al-Abadi convened a high-level meeting with Iraq's president, parliament speaker and political bloc leaders, who said high-level meetings would continue in coming days. A politician who attended the talks also said al-Abadi had faced accusations of mishandling the crisis.

Iraq: Premier Orders Arrests Of Protesters Who Damaged Parliament May 1, 2016

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on May 1 ordered the arrest of activists who caused damage and attacked police while storming parliament in Baghdad on April 30, BBC reported. Supporters of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr broke through barricades of the fortified Green Zone in protest against delays in approving a new Cabinet. A state of emergency was declared in Baghdad after the protests. Supporters of al-Sadr want lawmakers to replace ministers with political affiliations with non-partisan technocrats. Parties in parliament have refused to approve the change for several weeks. Systemic political patronage has aided corruption in Iraq, depleting the government's resources as it struggles to cope with declining oil revenue and the war against the Islamic State. Parliament again failed to reach a quorum April 30, after which the protest escalated and saw hundreds of people storm the parliament building. After the protest, demonstrators set up camp outside the parliament. However, the committee organizing the sit-in called on protesters to leave the government district later on May 1, Reuters reported. Despite al-Abadi's order — made after he visited the damaged parliament building — there are no indications that any arrests have been made.

ISRAEL

NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT

RUSSIA

The Nuclear Arms Race Is Alive and Well

Summary

Russia is determined to maintain its nuclear deterrence against the United States. Its navy plans to test 16 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) in a single salvo from a nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea soon, according to a source quoted in Russian daily Izvestia, though the source did not provide a date. Other Russian media agencies have reported that only two missiles would be tested...

...It is hardly surprising, then, that Russia is determinedly modernizing its nuclear weapons program while simultaneously reminding the world of its capability. Last year, the Russians tested eight ICBMs, and earlier in January, Russian officials announced plans to test 16 ICBMs in 2016, 14 of which will be tests of missiles entering service in Russia for the first time. On the testing schedule are the recently introduced Bulava SLBM, which had considerable development problems, and also other land-based ICBMs such as the new SS-X-30 Sarmat. Moscow is counting on these new missiles to ensure its nuclear arsenal survives against the U.S. anti-ballistic missile network.

Russia is also looking to its past to enhance its nuclear survivability, revisiting old Soviet tactics. Moscow is now working to enhance missile mobility by shuttling them by rail. Moreover, it is reviewing the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, which would enable Russia to use low Earth orbit to widen the range of its missiles to strike areas not protected by U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems...

SYRIA

NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT

MIDDLE EAST GENERAL

A New Vision for the Kingdom

By Anisa Mehdi

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became an international darling this week when he articulated a new economic plan for his nation. On April 25, the 30-year-old rising Saudi star announced his aspirations to diversify the local economy beyond petroleum and pilgrimage. Salman, currently the chair of the country's Council of Economic and Development Affairs, is second in line to the kingdom's throne. He is also a millennial...

Lebanon: Trading Policies for Guns

A Dormant Saharan Conflict Threatens to Awaken

A long-dormant conflict between Morocco and the ethnic Sahrawi people who inhabit the disputed Western Sahara territory, which both parties claim, threatens to escalate. Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council will take up a crucial vote on April 29 that likely will decide the fate of its peacekeeping mission there. In March, the Moroccan government expelled civilians attached to the mission after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called Morocco's presence in Western Sahara an "occupation." A U.N. report released a month later detailed the state of the standoff between the Polisario Front, an armed Sahrawi activist group, and Moroccan forces, magnifying fears of renewed fighting between the two. Now, the ambiguous status of the peacekeeping mission is driving U.N. concerns surrounding the conflict in Western Sahara, which Ban said could erupt into "full-scale war."...

MISC

April 27, New York Daily News – (New York) Bloods-linked gang members charged with running $414G identity-theft ring. Officials from the New York County District Attorney’s Office announced April 26 that 39 gang members were charged for their roles in a $414,000 identity theft scheme where the group used stolen bank information from the Dark Web to create phony credit cards used to make fraudulent purchases at Barneys and Sacks Fifth Avenue stores and sold the goods to fund personal expenses. Officials stated a subsequent search of the suspects’ apartments in Queens and Brooklyn, New York revealed computers and credit card making equipment, among other illicit materials.

The Tech Revolution Comes of Age

Technological revolutions frame historical eras. Each cycle thrusts new sectors into prominence, turning companies into strategic assets for their governments to exploit. Whether it is European trading companies in the colonial era or international oil companies in the 20th century, technological revolutions give corporations such power and importance that they become inherently geopolitical.

Except where noted courtesy STRATFOR.COM

Trump

From a recent STRATFOR post. I'm no fan of The Donald, I firmly believe his nomination will insure the election of the Democratic nominee, the loss of the Senate and seats lost in the House. Yes, I'm a conservative-libertarian while Trump is at best a fraud and more likely a radical leftist.

This article reviews Trump's foreign policy views. If he becomes president....God Help Us All.
A Thoughtful Response to Trump?


Editor's Note: The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's editorial board, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought in our analyses. Though their opinions are their own, they inform and sometimes even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.

By Ian Morris

No one, it seems, has a nice word to say about Donald Trump's foreign policy thinking.

Nearly every pundit on the planet has taken a swing at his confused and alarming pronouncements. More measured than most, The New York Times began cautiously suggesting that Trump's views "reflect little consideration for potential consequences," but soon hardened its line to denounce Trump's "completely unhinged view of international engagement" as "contradictory and shockingly ignorant." The Atlantic magazine agreed that Trump had "no understanding of the post-war international order," and The Washington Post joined the chorus, concluding that "Donald Trump's ignorance of government policy, both foreign and domestic, is breathtaking." NBC called Trump "completely uneducated about any part of the world," while CNN described him as "wholly unqualified to handle the real issues facing America." Newsweek magazine neatly summed up the consensus: "When it comes to foreign policy, Donald Trump, he's just saying stuff."

At least, this is the kind of thing the foreign policy crowd was saying until recently, but one consequence of this unusual unanimity among the talking heads was that it quickly became difficult for a journalist to get noticed merely by thinking up new ways to denigrate the Donald. Instead, a new attention-grabbing strategy emerged this month: Columnists began pretending to think they had found a method in Trump's madness. In her recent column in beer Foreign Policy, for instance, Rosa Brooks — while hardly pouring praise on Trump — suggested that beneath the surface bluster, "Trump is, to a great extent, nonetheless articulating a coherent vision of international relations and America's role in the world." CNN, flip-flopping on its earlier criticisms, has gone further, saying that "his opinions also reflect basic common sense."

Trump's rationalizers claim he is simply a foreign policy realist. Back in 1848, British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston famously said, "We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual friends … [only] our interests are eternal and perpetual." Similarly, the neo-Trumpians argue, the billionaire businessman is just taking a cold, hard look at the geopolitical facts — much as Stratfor tries to do — and consistently putting American interests first.

Of all the stuff Trump is just saying, the revisionists seem most impressed by his views on America's system of overseas alliances. "To Trump," Brooks concludes, "U.S. alliances, like potential business partners in a real-estate transaction, should always be asked: 'What have you done for me lately?'" If an old ally such as Saudi Arabia has no satisfactory answer, Trump proposes, the United States should stop buying its oil. Or if Japan will not pay more toward the costs of American forces in the Western Pacific, those forces should withdraw.

"The old cliches roll easily off the tongue: U.S. alliances and partnerships are vital … And so on," says Brooks; "But this is pure intellectual and ideological laziness." Brooks does not, however, join Fox News in concluding that "Donald Trump is 100 percent correct to insist that our allies should share the burden of collective defense." (They do, of course, already share the burden; Fox News presumably means they should pick up more of the burden.) Nor does she follow CNN's new line that "Washington should stop defending its prosperous, populous allies." Rather, she more thoughtfully observes, "Trump's vision of the world demands a serious, thoughtful and nondefensive response."

The Cost of Abandoning Allies

I want to try my hand at such a response. To my mind, Trump looks less like a realist than like a caricature of a realist, claiming to offer completely transactional international relations, stripped of conventional policymakers' wooly thinking. Realism, though, is not simply a matter of being unsentimental. It is about knowing when an appeal to tradition, values and loyalty will advance a nation's interests and when it will not.

In an earlier Global Affairs column, I mused that "Even the most Kissingerian of geopoliticians tend to recognize that values have a place in strategy (a good subject for a future column, perhaps) and that it is usually a mistake to sell out allies or walk away from deeply held beliefs to win a small advantage." These may be obvious points to make, but the friendships that the United States has built in the 70 years since the end of World War II are worth much more than their weight in gold, and few things will undermine American security quite so quickly as throwing them over for the sake of short-term gains.

Signaling to former allies that past favors, shared values or common struggles no longer count for anything, and that every interaction will now be weighed on the "What have you done for me lately?" scale, is a surefire method for raising the cost of doing business (something a businessman such as Trump presumably wants to avoid). Perhaps Washington can bully Saudi Arabia into doing more against the self-styled Islamic State; but will the gains from that deal offset the costs if the Saudis conclude they can no longer trust America to take the lead against rivals such as Iran?

There is a saying in Chicago that an honest politician is one who, when you buy him, stays bought. A new president who walks away from America's "friends" — however slippery and self-serving she or he might think that some of them are — will run the risk of relearning another old Chicago lesson: that the costs of being seen as a dishonest politician can be fatal.

Appealing to values is certainly not an alternative to cold geopolitical calculation. In what is probably the clearest case of a struggle between right and wrong, Britain and the United States consistently took the moral high ground against Germany and Japan in World War II. Both Western allies were liberal democracies, and neither ever attacked a neutral country (although Britain did consider invading Norway in 1940), herded prisoners of war and members of what they considered lesser races into death camps (although the United States did intern Japanese-Americans), or committed genocide (although the English-speaking Allies did collaborate in killing more than a million German and Japanese civilians in air raids). Germany and Japan (and, of course, the Soviet Union) were totalitarian dictatorships and did all these bad things; and yet despite the stark contrasts, few countries voluntarily joined the Western Allies before 1945, by which time it was clear that Germany and Japan were going to lose.

The truth of the matter is that values and calculation are not alternative approaches to foreign policy; they are always inextricably mixed.

A Balanced Strategy

This simple fact has been hardwired into us by evolution, because people whose genes predispose them to combine ethics and cold calculation in just the right way are more likely to pass their genes on to the next generation than those whose genes predispose them to act differently. Across the seven or eight million years since the evolutionary branch that led toward humans split off from that which led toward the other great apes, people have developed what biologists call an evolutionarily stable strategy — or equilibrium — balancing morality and self-interest.

Even before seven million years ago, however, the last common ancestor shared by all five species of African great apes (eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, and humans) already had its own stable strategies, and modern humans' nearest genetic kin — chimpanzees and bonobos — see diplomacy in ways that are similar to, just less sophisticated than, our own.

In 1975, the primatologist Frans de Waal began a six-year study of politics among the chimpanzees of the Netherlands' Arnhem zoo, and since the 1980s numerous scientists have confirmed his findings among wild populations in Africa. Chimpanzees and bonobos both have steep dominance hierarchies in which a handful of alpha individuals (mostly males among chimps, mostly females among bonobos) lead a larger community; and in both species, alliances do more than use brute force to determine power. Primates have evolved to be extremely good at recognizing one another, remembering favors and insults, and calculating whom they can rely on when the chips are down. In fact, one of the most influential theories in physical anthropology holds that the whole reason primate brains more than tripled in size across the three million years separating Australopithecines from us was that apes that kept track of their allies were more likely to pass their genes on to the next generation than those that didn't.

De Waal documented in meticulous detail just how deadly serious this game is. In 1980, two of the Arnhem chimpanzees, Yeroen and Nikkie, manipulated friendships and rivalries to isolate the alpha male, Luit. Only then, when Luit was quite without allies, did Yeroen and Nikkie turn to hard power to dethrone him. In a vicious nighttime attack, they slashed Luit to pieces, biting off his fingers and toes and tearing out his testicles. He bled to death. Within days a new alliance system had formed, in which Nikkie was the top ape and Yeroen was the power behind the throne.

Biology seems to show that you should never turn your back on a friend — unless the gains from doing so clearly outweigh the reputational costs of being known as a dishonest politician. The secret of success lies in being able to judge the costs and benefits accurately.

On the whole, American leaders since 1945 have done a good job at balancing values and calculation. It is probably no coincidence that in addition to having the greatest military and economic dominance in history since 1989, the United States has also led the greatest network of allies in history. The only country that could possibly compare, mid-19th-century Britain, in fact did not even come close to American levels of dominance on either count.

At the end of the day, the brouhaha over Trump's incoherent policy pronouncements is no more than a colorful illustration of a small part of a larger debate over the place of values in international relations. The real argument is not between Trumpian transactionalism and establishment sentimentality, because even self-conscious realists always have to factor idealism into their calculations. (Historian Niall Ferguson was quite right to subtitle the first volume of his recent biography of Henry Kissinger "the Idealist.") What matters is the most old-fashioned virtue of all — good judgment — something that neither candidate Trump nor those who claim to see coherence in his statements have so far displayed. There's no need for us to sink to just saying stuff.

"A Thoughtful Response to Trump? is republished with permission of Stratfor."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Video from a hawk in flight...

You think the video from a drone can take your breath away. Look at this.

What's going on in the World Today 160427



HYPERLINKS MAY REQUIRE AN EMAIL:

USA

 
" Conversation: The United States' Role in the World is republished with permission of Stratfor." 
AFRICA 
Kenya: Government To Resume Border Wall Construction April 25, 2016 Kenya will resume construction of a 700-kilometer (435-mile) security wall along its border with Somalia, Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said April 24, Xinhua reported. The fence is designed to stop al Shabaab fighters in Somalia from crossing into Kenya, where the group has committed a number of gruesome attacks, including an April 2015 attack at a university, which killed nearly 150 students. The government's announcement to restart building comes after construction on the wall stalled because of a lack of funds. 
ASIA 
Australia: France Lands $43 Billion Submarine Deal April 26, 2016 France's state-owned DCNS group won a $43 billion contract to build a fleet of 12 submarines for Australia, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced April 26, Reuters reported. France beat out Japan and Germany for the deal, which Turnbull said would involve Australian workers and Australian steel. Japan was viewed as an early frontrunner to secure the deal, but inexperience with global defense deals and a reluctance to agree to build the submarines in Australia caused it to lose out to the French bid. Losing the deal is a blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to ramp up defense exports while normalizing the country's military. 
Why France Won the Biggest Arms Deal in Australian History 
Even in the lucrative world of the arms trade, it isn't every day that a sale worth more than $38.54 billion is made. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday the winner of Australia's Future Submarine contract. DCNS, a French industrial group that specializes in naval equipment, bested rival Japanese and German companies, forcing them to learn the bitter lessons of a lost contest…. 
Koreas: North Ready For Next Nuclear Test, Park Says April 26, 2016 
North Korea has completed preparations for its fifth nuclear test and could conduct it at any time, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said April 26, Yonhap reported. Meanwhile, North Korea has no plans to suspend nuclear tests even if the United States stops its annual military exercises with South Korea, an aide to North Korea's foreign minister told Kyodo. Over the weekend, the foreign minister said Pyongyang would halt nuclear testing in exchange for an end to the joint drills. Last week, North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile in its latest show of defiance against international sanctions. “As North Korea works on a deliverable warhead, it will be important to watch its parallel efforts to build a long-range delivery vehicle for re-entry and guidance capabilities.” 
EUROPE 
In Europe, a Crisis in Every Direction 
During the early stages of the EU crisis, most threats to the survival of the Continental bloc came from its periphery. Back then the prevailing fear was that financial disaster in a southern member state — a default in Greece or Portugal, for example — could precipitate the eurozone's collapse, hurting northern nations such as Germany and the Netherlands in the process. Though the possibility still exists, a sort of inverse threat has emerged. Today, the steady rise of anti-establishment and Euroskeptic sentiments in Northern Europe, as exemplified in Austria and Germany, threatens the Continent's south…. 
Italy: NATO To Shift Focus To Libya Migration Route, Minister Says April 25, 2016 Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said she expects NATO to agree at its July 2016 summit in Poland to deploy forces to counter illegal migration from Libya to Europe, La Stampa reported April 25. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has reportedly confirmed to Pinotti that an Italian proposal to shift the focus of NATO operations from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Libyan coast has been approved. While the majority of the focus regarding illegal migration to the European Union has been on Greece, Italy's migration problem should not be ignored. 
MEXICO/LATIN AMERICA 
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT AFGHANISTAN NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
CHINA 
China's Long March Into Central Asia 
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, an unexplored frontier opened up for China to its west. Central Asia offered Beijing new sources of raw materials and new markets, as well as a major transit zone for exports, to feed China's growing and globally integrating economy. But China did not have the military means to buttress its economic position, nor did it want to unnerve Russia, a power wary of rising Chinese influence, especially in its former Soviet periphery. With these concerns in mind, Beijing carefully shaped a military and economic strategy for Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. Though weak upon independence, the countries retained strong security ties to Russia. Consequently, China opted to promote economic involvement in the region complemented by a subtle, unimposing military engagement, mainly as a courtesy to Russia in exchange for stable Chinese-Russian strategic cooperation. 
IRAN 
Russia: Missile Defense System Delivered To Iran Ahead Of Schedule April 26, 2016 Russia is delivering its S-300 missile defense system to Iran ahead of schedule, according to Alexander Fomin, the head of Russia's federal arms exports service, Reuters reported. The two countries are also holding talks on the delivery of other equipment. The S-300 missile defense system can engage multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles around 150 kilometers (90 miles) away. Russia delivered the first part of the system to Iran the week of April 11. Moscow had canceled a contract to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West. President Vladimir Putin, however, lifted the ban in April 2015 after an interim agreement that paved the way for a full nuclear deal with Iran ending international sanctions. 
Iran: Zarif, Kerry Meeting In New York April 22, 2016 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet in New York with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on April 22, according to Kerry’s spokesman, AFP reported. Discussions will focus on the sanctions relief process and implementation of the nuclear deal reached last year, the spokesman said. It is the pair’s first meeting since January. They are expected to meet again after a meeting at the United Nations on April 26. Tehran alleges that Washington has not lived up to its side of the nuclear deal, because Western banks and firms have been slow to restore business ties. With sanctions removed, Iran's political factions over the next few years will fight over the direction of the economy and to what extent to open it to foreign investment. 
Iran's Supreme Leader says U.S. lifted sanctions only on paper 
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz Iran's Supreme Leader accused the United States on Wednesday of scaring businesses away from Tehran and undermining a deal to lift international sanctions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told hundreds of workers that a global deal, signed between Iran and world powers, had lifted financial sanctions, but U.S. obstruction was stopping Iran getting the full economic fruits of the agreement. "On paper the United States allows foreign banks to deal with Iran, but in practice they create Iranophobia so no one does business with Iran," he said in quotes from the speech posted on his website…. 
IRAQ 
Iraq: Kurdish, Shiite Fighters Agree To Truce in North April 25, 2016 
Kurdish peshmerga and Shiite Turkmen paramilitary forces in northern Iraq agreed to a truce, halting a dayslong period of violence that threatened to further destabilize the country, Rudaw reported April 25. More than a dozen fighters from the two groups died in the clashes, as well as an unknown number of civilians. The clashes risk further fragmenting Iraq, which is struggling to contain the Islamic State while managing sectarian and ethnic rivalries, including between the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and Kurdish officials in Iraqi Kurdistan. 
Iraq: Army Resumes Makhmour Offensive, Recaptures Village April 27, 2016 
The Iraqi army resumed its Makhmour offensive April 27, recapturing the village of Mahana from the Islamic State, Rudaw reported. The offensive is the first stage in the larger operation to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State militants. Despite the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, the Makhmour offensive has been slow. Various groups are cooperating against the Islamic State, including the Kurdish peshmerga, Shiite militias, Sunni tribal militias and Iraqi government forces. The struggle for influence and control among these groups will emerge even more fully as they overcome their common enemy. 
A Pause in Iraq's Sectarian Infighting 
Tuz Khurmatu, a diverse town of fewer than 100,000 people, has long been a hot spot for ethnic and sectarian clashes in Iraq. But violence between the Kurdish peshmerga and Iraq's Shiite militias surged after the town's latest cease-fire unraveled on Sunday. On Wednesday, the two factions reached a tentative agreement in Tuz Khurmatu after the United Nations, United States and United Kingdom urged them to defuse tensions and focus on the fight against their common enemy, the Islamic State. So far, violence between the Kurdish and Shiite militias has been largely confined to the town, but the clashes reveal a much broader issue for Iraq, both in its battle against the Islamic State and in its internal, political battle in Baghdad… 
ISRAEL 
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT 
RUSSIA 
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT 
SYRIA 
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT 
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL 
Number of foreign fighters entering Iraq and Syria drops by 90 percent, Pentagon says 
The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria has dropped from roughly 2,000 a month down to 200 within the past year, according to the Pentagon, which says the waning numbers are further proof of the Islamic State’s declining stature. The declining number of fighters is a direct result of strikes that have targeted the terror group’s infrastructure, Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, said Tuesday….
BriefPolice made arrests in Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of the country on Thursday night
Dozens of activists were arrested on Thursday in Cairo, Alexandria, the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt ahead of planned protests on 25 April. The police raided several Cairo cafes and arrested dozens of people late on Thursday night and in the early hours of Friday morning, according to a statement by the Freedom for the Brave campaign. Lawyer Amr Imam told Ahram Online that at least 100 people were estimated to have been arrested around the country on Thursday night... 
A Vision of Reform in Saudi Arabia 
Summary Saudi Arabia has lifted its veil of secrecy ever so slightly. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave his first-ever live interview to Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television on April 25, less than an hour after the Cabinet in Riyadh approved the kingdom's National Transformation Plan. The five-year plan, which will kick off officially in the next couple of months, outlines Saudi Arabia's strategy to expand and develop its economy while de-emphasizing oil revenue. Within the framework of the larger Vision 2030, the plan focuses on broadening privatization efforts, lifting power and water subsidies across socio-economic classes, decreasing unemployment, bolstering domestic industrial military production, and spinning off some of Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s assets into what the kingdom hopes will become the world's largest sovereign wealth fund.,, 
In Libya, the Race to Defeat the Islamic State Begins 
April 26:In Libya, the Race to Defeat the Islamic State Begins The race for Sirte is on. Libya's rival militias — and the two governments that command them — are competing to win back the city from the Islamic State, which has held it since mid-2015. The victor will secure greater bargaining power in the ongoing high-stakes negotiations to assemble a U.N.-brokered unity government, the Government of National Accord. The negotiations over the new government have attempted to square the disparate interests of federalists, Islamists and secular nationalists, among others, to establish the defeat of their common enemy, the Islamic State, as the priority. This shared goal has enabled the various groups to overlook their severe ideological and tribal divisions — at least for now…. 
MISC 
April 25, Help Net Security – (International) Compromised credentials still to blame for many data breaches. A Cloud Security Alliance survey found that a lack of scalable identity access management systems, a lack of ongoing automated rotation of cryptographic keys, passwords, and certificates, as well as failure to use multifactor authentication were the major causes of data breaches. The findings also indicated that 22 percent of companies who suffered a data breach, attributed the breach to compromised credentials. Source: 

 April 25, Help Net Security – (International) Critical flaws in HP Data Protector open servers to remote attacks. Hewlett Packard released security updates for its HP Data Protector software patching six critical vulnerabilities for all versions prior to 7.03_108, 8.15, and 9.06 which could allow a remote code execution flaw or unauthorized disclosure of information via unauthenticated users or through an embedded Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) private key, which could increase the chance of man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. 
 As the sun rose over the banks of the Seine and the medieval, half-timbered houses of Rouen, France, on July 13, 2012, Hisham Almiraat opened his inbox to find “Denunciation” in the subject line of an email. “Please do not mention my name or anything,” wrote the sender, Imane. “I do not want any trouble.” The editor and co-founder of Mamfakinch, a pro-democracy website created in Morocco during the Arab Spring, Almiraat was one of his country’s most outspoken dissidents and someone accustomed to cryptic emails: Moroccan activists faced jail time for their views and risked their jobs, or even their lives, for speaking out against their government. From Normandy’s capital city, where Almiraat was in medical school, the bespectacled 36-year-old spent his time — in between classes and hospital shifts — mentoring, coaching, and editing more than 40 citizen journalists. The group covered the roiling unrest back in Almiraat’s homeland, where he would soon return after completing his studies. (Almiraat contributed to Foreign Policy in 2011.) Almiraat and his colleagues also trained Mamfakinch’s writers to use encryption software, most notably the Onion Router, so that their online activities remained anonymous and shielded. Tor, as it’s widely known, masks a user’s identity and physical location. “People were relying on us to protect their…reputations, their careers, and probably also their freedoms,” Almiraat says. “All of that could be put in jeopardy if that were made public.” It was precisely this forethought that had earned Mamfakinch the Breaking Borders Award, sponsored by Google and the citizen-media group Global Voices, for its efforts “to defend and promote freedom of speech rights on the Internet.” But on that July morning, just 11 days after receiving the award, Almiraat read the message from Imane and knew “something wasn’t right.” A website link directed him to a document labeled “Scandal,” which, once downloaded, was blank. His associates received the same note. Suspicious, Almiraat promptly forwarded the email to an activist he knew, who then sent it to Morgan Marquis-Boire, a dreadlocked, tattooed 32-year-old digital activist who’d grown up hacking in New Zealand under the nickname “Mayhem.” A top security researcher at Google, Marquis-Boire had made waves recently as a volunteer detective for Citizen Lab, a technology research and human rights group at the University of Toronto; he and several colleagues had found evidence that suggested Bahrain was using surveillance software — a product intended for government spying on suspected criminals — against supporters of political reform. After a month-long analysis of the Scandal file, Marquis-Boire contacted Almiraat with disturbing news: Anyone who had opened the document had been infected with highly sophisticated spyware, which had been sent from an Internet protocol address in Morocco’s capital of Rabat. Further research confirmed that the Supreme Council of National Defense, which ran Morocco’s security agencies, was behind the attack. Almiraat and his colleagues had essentially handed government spies the keys to their devices, rendering Tor, or any other encryption software, useless. Morocco’s spooks could read the Mamfakinch team’s emails, steal their passwords, log their keystrokes, turn on their webcams and microphones — and spies likely had been doing exactly those things and more since the intrusion in July….
Except where noted courtesy STRATFOR.COM

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Archie has had enough!

One of the greatest TV shows of all time, back when Hollywood was actually a place for storytelling. Edith is going over how she and Archie met. Archie is not much for going down memory lane. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

North Korean Nuclear Ambitions Ride on Missile Development: March 23, 2016



The image of a 2012 rocket launch is shown at a Pyongyang railway station on Feb. 3, 2016, as North Korea announced plans to launch a satellite. The launch four days later marked the latest push by the North to demonstrate its missile capabilities. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Forecast
To dissuade U.S. military action, North Korea will keep trying to develop a demonstrable nuclear missile that can reach the United States.
As North Korea works on a deliverable warhead, it will be important to watch its parallel efforts to build a long-range delivery vehicle for re-entry and guidance capabilities.
In their current forms, North Korea's tests of missile nose cones and guidance systems will not be enough to provide proof of nuclear deterrence.
Analysis
Amid the latest series of North Korean missile tests, South Korea's Ministry of Unification has reported that Pyongyang is ready to carry out its fifth nuclear weapons test detonation and may simply be waiting for a politically advantageous time to do so. Over the past few months, North Korea has apparently accelerated its efforts to develop a deployable nuclear weapon and a long-range missile delivery system. In addition to its fourth underground nuclear test and another attempted satellite launch atop a Taepodong/Unha rocket, which can also serve as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the North has recently published sets of photos of what it claims are a miniaturized nuclear warhead and a ground test of a rocket nose cone to demonstrate its re-entry capability. The images coincide with an uptick in rhetoric regarding the development of a viable nuclear deterrent. Though Pyongyang appears to be moving forward with its goal of creating a functional system, it still has several steps left to complete before it reaches its objective.
If the North wants to bolster the credibility of its claims of possessing a long-range nuclear deterrent, it will need to do at least two more things: conduct active re-entry tests to verify the viability of a nose cone and conduct a test of a guidance system for re-entry. In some ways, North Korea's path remains complex and difficult. After all, it is rocket science. In another sense, though, Pyongyang is not seeking to match current U.S., Russian or Chinese technologies. Instead, it would be sufficient to demonstrate technologies from the 1950s and 1960s — technologies that have been amply documented, studied and tested.
The United States developed its first ICBM during the span of two years of Atlas rocket tests. That said, it was able to draw on the considerable resources of a large nation. Pyongyang, meanwhile, is constrained technologically, financially and politically. And while North Korea may carry out fewer tests than the big powers, it cannot skip certain critical steps. North Korea's timetable has clearly been much slower than that of the United States. Pyongyang's first Scud-B launch took place in the early 1980s; its first test of the intermediate-range Nodong followed in 1990. The first test of the longer-range Taepodong took place in 1998, with six launches so far, several of which were clearly unsuccessful. In regards to rocket technology, the North may be fairly confident it now has a viable launch system, at least to provide the range of an ICBM, and it is shifting its attention to developing a resilient nose cone and accurate guidance system.

It is perhaps no coincidence that Pyongyang has shown off in rapid succession a model miniaturized nuclear warhead and a ground test of a nose cone. The initial ground test shown by the North was intended to highlight advancements in metallurgy and demonstrate the nose cone's ability to survive a simulated re-entry. But ground tests will be insufficient. The North's test rig may not quite re-create re-entry temperatures, pressure and vibrations. The North must conduct one or more flight tests with a nose cone that undergoes re-entry and is recovered. Sensors and dummy warheads inside will help determine whether the nose cone could protect a sensitive nuclear device. A test of a system with a real nuclear device is not necessary and in fact is extremely rare even among current nuclear powers for obvious reasons. The United States tested a complete submarine-launched nuclear missile in 1962, detonating over Christmas Island, and China tested a complete medium-range nuclear device in 1966, detonating over Lop Nor.
The North will also test a guidance system, likely alongside the nose cone survivability tests. This also requires live tests, with re-entry and preferably recovery of the re-entry vehicle. Given the general flight path of North Korean missiles and the size of North Korea, such recovery would probably be at sea, requiring additional naval developments by Pyongyang before a test could feasibly take place. While nuclear devices do not necessarily need an extremely fine guidance system (U.S. ICBMs with larger warheads with a five-mile margin of accuracy were considered acceptable), even a five-mile circle is fairly tiny at the end of a more than 4,000-mile (6,437-kilometer) flight.

Should the North carry out a successful demonstration of guided re-entry, it would match the United States at the stage of its earliest nuclear-armed ICBMs and mark a major step for Pyongyang. However, the world is a different place than it was in the 1950s, and technology is different, too. Pyongyang's current Taepodong/Unha systems require days of fueling before launching on one of the country's two suitable launch pads, which are kept under constant surveillance. The United States and China, and even South Korea and Japan, have the capability to detect and destroy a rocket on the pad, reducing the value of the nuclear deterrent. However, successful testing of the KN-08 mobile missile system or further tests of its submarine-launched missile may serve as the final step for the North to showcase a viable deterrent capability.
As we watch the North's progress, important tests to look for will include re-entry and recovery after launch. The success of those tests marks the difference between having a nuclear device and having a long-range nuclear weapon. Such tests will not go unnoticed, and the risk of conducting them is in their failure or the recovery of the re-entry vehicle by another nation. Pyongyang might develop a deployable short- or intermediate-ranged nuclear-armed missile without a re-entry test, but that would fail to achieve its intended goal of creating a demonstrable nuclear device capable of reaching the United States, which would provide what Pyongyang perceives as the insurance it needs to dissuade U.S. military action.

"North Korean Nuclear Ambitions Ride on Missile Development is republished with permission of Stratfor."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It is done!

I’ve been off on my blogging, among other things, the last few years, especially the last year. I’ve been working to finish my Master’s of Arts in Intelligence Studies, with concentration in Homeland Security. It has been an experience I would not trade, even with it being in the center of multiple major parts of my life (marriage, getting promoted, assigned as a Field Training Supervisor, which takes a lot of my time. But Friday I posted my thesis and it’s been accepted, I then posted a version for publication, and now I’m just waiting for my final grade. I will actually be aware the diploma in August, but I’m done.

One thing I do love is alumni of American Military University have full access to their library, which I will love to use. One of the eye opening experience of the program was the library. Access to countless pear reviewed journals, articles, books, that I would have to pay to access, but now I have a link to them.

I remember the first time I saw a real library. Not knocking the ladies at the public library down the street, but I was a high school junior working on my first research paper and I drove to the University of New Orleans for the first time and walked into their library. And I was astonished. Two stories of books, journals, papers, microfilm. I’m not exaggerating that for the first few minutes I took in the lobby aghast at how big this place was. And they added on two stories the following year. Life got better.

And I am looking forward to writing more serious and lengthy stuff in the future, after a break. I need it, trust me. I’m able to work extra jobs again (I need that!) and this weekend I was started a Stephen King novel. Reading for pleasure. something I haven’t done much of the last three years. And I have some catching up with the Blue Knights, and I’m going to dust off the blog and start posting regularly. I’ve missed that greatly.

I’ve also got to catch up with the family and friends. I’ve missed countless events because I was working on a paper or something. But I know it was worth it. One, the department gives me more money for a master’s. Two, it’s another point for promotion when I take the lieutenant’s exam. And I would like to eventually spend some time in the department intelligence office. I vowed to not go there while I was in the reserves. I would hate to do the same thing on the weekend as you do during the week. But it’s been over 5 years since I called it a night with the army, so the intel racket may again be in my future. One thing I do want to start posting again is my 2-3 times a week summary, “What’s Going on in the World Today.”

Well, I’m about to fall asleep (got home at 0200 after the extra job and I had to get up early for my ride this morning) so I’m drifting off. Night all. Hopefully we’ll be conversing on the net. Have a great week.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Well deserved punishment!

Mixed 24 year old Glenfiddich with anything!? Hopefully he was castrated and disemboweled before coming here! Some sins cannot be forgiven! :<)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Another happy doggie story!

From Miami, an idiot takes the cops on a ride and ends up facing the Jaws of Justice!

WATCH police in Miami end a high-speed chase with the help of K-9 officers.

Posted by Fox News on Friday, April 1, 2016

Nice work Miami PD.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Officer Down


Investigator Steven Martin Sandberg
Aitkin County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota
End of Watch: Sunday, October 18, 2015
Age: 60
Tour: 24 years
Badge # 203

Investigator Steve Sandberg was shot and killed while guarding a prisoner at St. Cloud Hospital, in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

The prisoner was in custody in connection with a domestic assault in Aitkin County. At approximately 5:15 am the subject attacked and disarmed Investigator Sandberg in the hospital room. The man then fatally shot Investigator Sandberg with his own service weapon.

Another deputy was able to subdue the subject with a Taser. The man died a short time later from an unknown cause.

Investigator Sandberg had served with Aitkin County Sheriff's Office for 24 years.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

K9 Down


K9 Barney
Tacoma Police Department, Washington
End of Watch: Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Age: 11
Gender: M
Tour: 9 years
Incident Date: 3/24/2015

K9 Barney died after inadvertently ingesting methamphetamine conducting a narcotics search as part of a search warrant at a storage unit in Puyallup.

Barney located unwrapped, powdered methamphetamine and ingested it after putting his nose on the substance. He was rushed to an emergency vet hospital where he remained until passing away the following night.

Three subjects were arrested and charged in connection with the narcotics trafficking case, which resulted in a seizure of 44 pounds of methamphetamine from the storage unit.

K9 Barney had served with the Tacoma Police Department for nine years.
Rest in Peace Barney …till our next roll call at the Rainbow Bridge!



In Memory of all Police Dogs

They handled themselves with beauty & grace
And who could ever forget that beautiful face
Whether at work; or at home; whatever the test
They always worked hard; and did their best

They were real champions; at work or at play
But their lives were cut short; suddenly one day
While working on the job with their partner one day
They put themselves out on a limb; out into harms way

They gave the ultimate sacrifice; any dog can give
They gave up their life; so someone could live
The best of their breed; as his partner and anyone would say
Many hearts are now broken; that he had to prove it this way

Now as the trees are blowing in the gentle breeze
The sun is shining; thru the leaves on the trees
The meadows are green; and the grass grows tall
Off in the distance they can see a waterfall

As they look over the falls; down through the creek
The water flows gently; as a rabbit sneaks a peek
Far up above; in the deep blue sky
They see the birds soar high; as they fly by

They see animals playing; at the bridge by a waterfall
Chasing each other; and just having a ball
They play all day; from morning to night
There's no more rain; just warm sunlight

Off in the distance; they hear trumpets blow
Then all the animals look up; and notice a bright glow
The harps would play and the angels would sing
As they know they've come home; they've earned their wings

We remember that they died; in the line of duty
And are now with the Lord; sharing in heaven's beauty
Off to the meadows now; where they can play and roam free
With an occasional rest stop; under a tall oak tree

No more bad guys to chase; or bullets to take
Just a run through the meadow; down to the lake
A quick splash in the water; then back to the shore
Then it's off to the forest; to go play some more

These special dogs are back home; up in heaven above
They're cradled in God's arm's; and covered with His love
We'll light a candle for all of them; in the dark of night
In loving memory of all; these very special knights

By John Quealy

Security Weekly: Awareness Can Short-Circuit a Bomb Attack, March 31. 2016


By Scott Stewart

Bombs used in the March 22 attacks in Brussels displayed a degree of tradecraft not before shown by the Islamic State outside its core areas of operation. The bombings at the Zaventem airport and at a metro station in Brussels killed 35 and wounded more than 300, making them the deadliest jihadist bombing attack in the West in more than a decade.

The Brussels attacks broke the recent trend of moving toward armed assaults from bombings. The Brussels cell was able to conduct such a large bombing operation because one of its key members, identified by Belgian authorities as Najim Laachraoui, possessed advanced bombmaking tradecraft acquired from Islamic State trainers while he was in Syria. Laachraoui is also thought to have constructed the bombs used in the November 2015 Paris attacks.

Strangely, Laachraoui has been identified as one of the suicide bombers who attacked the airport in Brussels. It is rare for an organization's bombmaker to participate in a suicide attack — they are simply too valuable to waste — but it appears as if Laachraoui, under heavy police pressure, chose to go out intentionally rather than to risk being captured like his fellow conspirator, Saleh Abdesalam, who was arrested March 18. No matter Laachraoui's motive, it is good news that a well-trained bombmaker is out of the picture. However, the threat of jihadist bomb attacks against targets in Europe and elsewhere in the West did not die with Laachraoui, and authorities and citizens alike are left to wonder: How many other trained Islamic State bombmakers remain at large?

I've recently seen a reputable company write that if a terrorist plot gets to the bombmaking stage, it is too late to avert an attack. However, I strongly disagree with this claim. Even in the weapons acquisition or bombmaking stage of the terrorist attack cycle, terrorist operatives remain vulnerable, and plots can be thwarted if bombmaking activity is noticed and reported to authorities.

Indeed, unusual activity was noticed in the Brussels case, according to a March 26 story in The New York Times. The story noted that an overpowering chemical odor coming from Laachraoui's sixth floor apartment made the building's owner gag — and odd happenings at the apartment prompted another neighbor to call the police, but those reports were not investigated. The taxi driver who drove three of the attackers to the airport also noticed that his passengers acted strangely and refused to let him touch their suitcases, which reeked strongly of chemicals, but he did not take action until after the attacks.

These were all indications that very well could have resulted in the attacks being disrupted, but unfortunately, they did not. However, that does not mean that the next bombing cannot be thwarted by the telltale signs of bombmaking activity. Let's examine some of those indicators in more detail.

Beyond a Bleach Blonde

As al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine so famously stated, you can indeed "make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom." It truly is not difficult for a knowledgeable individual to mix up improvised explosives using a wide range of common household chemicals, including peroxide, acetone, chlorine and brake fluid.

It is important to recognize that when we say an explosive mixture or an explosive device is "improvised," that does not automatically mean the end product is going to be ineffective or amateurish. Like an improvised John Coltrane saxophone solo, some improvised explosive devices can be highly crafted, albeit deadly, works of art. That said, certain activities necessary to make bombs leave even proficient bombmakers open to detection by outside observers — and amateur bombmakers are even easier to spot if one knows what to look for.

To obscure bombmaking activity, explosive mixtures and device components are often manufactured in rented houses, apartments or hotel rooms. We have seen this in past cases, such as the December 1999 "millennium bomb" plot in which Ahmed Ressam and an accomplice set up a crude bombmaking factory in a hotel room in Vancouver, British Columbia. More recently, Najibullah Zazi was arrested in September 2009 and charged with attempting to manufacture the improvised explosive mixture triacetone triperoxide (TATP) in a Denver hotel room. In September 2010, a suspected lone assailant in Copenhagen accidentally detonated an explosive device he was constructing in a hotel.

Similar to clandestine methamphetamine labs, which are also frequently set up in rental properties or hotel rooms, makeshift bombmaking operations frequently use everyday volatile substances. Chemicals such as acetone, a common nail-polish remover, and peroxide, commonly used to bleach hair, can easily be found in stores. Fertilizers, the main component of the bombs used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center attack, are present in large volumes on farms or in farm-supply stores in rural communities. Hardware and paint stores sell acids and powdered metals.

However, the quantities of chemicals required to manufacture explosives far exceeds those required for most legitimate purposes. Because of this, hotel staff, landlords and neighbors can fairly easily notice signs that someone in their midst is operating a makeshift bombmaking laboratory. Obvious suspicions should be raised if, for example, a new tenant moves several bags of fertilizer into an apartment in the middle of a city, or if a person brings in gallons of acetone, peroxide or sulfuric or nitric acid. Furthermore, bombmakers use laboratory implements, such as beakers, scales, protective gloves and masks, not normally found in a hotel room or residence.

Additionally, although electronic devices like cellphones or wristwatches may not seem unusual in the context of a hotel room or apartment, signs that such devices have been disassembled or modified to have wires protruding should raise a red flag, as these altered devices are commonly used as initiators for improvised explosive devices.

Certain items that are less commonly used in household applications but that are frequently used in bombmaking include nitric or sulfuric acid; metal powders such as aluminum, magnesium and ferric oxide; and large quantities of sodium carbonate, commonly sold in 25-pound bags. Large containers of methyl alcohol, which can be used to stabilize nitroglycerine, are another indicator that a bombmaker may be present.

Fumes from chemical reactions are another sign of bombmaking activity. Depending on the size of the batch being concocted, the noxious fumes from an improvised explosive mixture can bleach walls and curtains and, as was the case for the July 2005 London attackers, even the bombmakers' hair. The fumes can even waft outside of the lab and be detected by neighbors, as they were in the Brussels case. Spatters from the mixing of ingredients such as nitric acid leave distinctive marks, which are another way for hotel staff or landlords to recognize that something is amiss. Additionally, rented properties used for bombmaking activity rarely look occupied. They frequently lack furniture and have makeshift window coverings instead of drapes. Properties where bomb laboratories are found also usually have no mail delivery, sit vacant for long periods and are occupied by people who come and go at odd hours and who are often seen carrying strange things — such as containers of chemicals or large quantities of ice, which is used to keep chemical reactions such as those used to synthesize TATP under control.

The components for the truck bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were manufactured in a rented apartment in Jersey City. The process of cooking the nitroglycerine used in the booster charges and the urea nitrate used in the main explosive charge created strong chemical fumes that changed the wall paint color and corroded metal doorknobs and hinges. The bombmakers also spilled chemicals on the floor, the walls, their clothing and other places, leaving plenty of trace evidence for investigators to find after the attack.

More Clues to Spot Bombmakers

Given the caustic nature of the ingredients used to make homemade explosive mixtures and the volatile chemical reactions required to make things like nitroglycerin and TATP, creating the explosive can be one of the most dangerous aspects of planning a bombing attack. Indeed, Hamas militants refer to TATP as "the mother of Satan" because of its volatility and propensity to severely burn or kill bombmakers if they lose control of the chemical reaction required to synthesize it.

Because of this, it is important for medical personnel to pay attention to emergency room walk-ins with thermal or chemical burns who smell of chemicals and to report them to authorities in much the same way they do patients who appear to have been injured in meth lab accidents.

In January 1995, an apartment in Manila, Philippines, caught fire when the bombmaker in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, Abdel Basit (aka Ramzi Yousef), lost control of the reaction in a batch of TATP he was brewing for his planned attack against a number of U.S. airliners flying over the Pacific Ocean — an operation he had nicknamed Bojinka. Because of the fire, authorities were able to arrest two of Basit's co-conspirators and to unravel Bojinka and other plots against targets including Pope John Paul II and U.S. President Bill Clinton. Basit fled to Pakistan, where he was apprehended a short time later. This case serves to highlight the dangers presented by these labs to people in the vicinity — especially in a hotel or apartment building.

Another behavior that provides an opportunity to spot a bombmaker is testing. A professional bombmaker will try out improvised mixtures and components, like improvised blasting caps, to ensure that they are functioning properly and that the completed device will therefore be viable. Such testing may involve burning or detonating small quantities of the explosive mixture, or actually exploding the blasting cap or booster charge. The testing of small components may happen in a backyard, but the testing of larger quantities will often be done at a more remote place. In his diary, Norway bomber Anders Breivik noted how he had taken his bomb components to a remote location a good distance from the rented farmhouse where he built his bomb to test them. Therefore, any signs of explosions in remote places like parks and national forests should be immediately reported to authorities.

Obviously, not every container of nitric acid spotted or small explosion heard will be absolute confirmation of bombmaking activity, but reporting such incidents to the authorities will give them an opportunity to investigate. In an era when the threat of attack comes from increasingly diffuse sources, a good defense requires more eyes and ears than the authorities possess.
Awareness Can Short-Circuit a Bomb Attack COPYRIGHT: STRATFOR.COM