Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Monday, June 17, 2019

What's going on in the World Today 190617


Julian Assange to appear in court after Javid signs US extradition request

Home secretary opens way for court to consider whether Assange should be sent to US

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has revealed he has signed a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the US where he faces charges of computer hacking.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Javid said: “He’s rightly behind bars. There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.”

Javid’s decision opens the way to the court sending the WikiLeaks founder to the US. Assange faces an 18-count indictment, issued by the US Department of Justice, that includes charges under the Espionage Act. He is accused of soliciting and publishing classified information and conspiring to hack into a government computer...

The Pentagon is battling the clock to fix serious, unreported F-35 problems

WASHINGTON — Over the past several years, U.S. Defense Department leaders have gone from citing technical problems as their biggest concern for the F-35 program to bemoaning the expense of buying and sustaining the aircraft.

But the reality may be worse. According to documents exclusively obtained by Defense News, the F-35 continues to be marred by flaws and glitches that, if left unfixed, could create risks to pilot safety and call into question the fighter jet’s ability to accomplish key parts of its mission:

F-35B and F-35C pilots, compelled to observe limitations on airspeed to avoid damage to the F-35’s airframe or stealth coating. Cockpit pressure spikes that cause “excruciating” ear and sinus pain. Issues with the helmet-mounted display and night vision camera that contribute to the difficulty of landing the F-35C on an aircraft carrier...

...The 13 deficiencies include:

- The F-35’s logistics system currently has no way for foreign F-35 operators to keep their secret data from being sent to the United States.

- The spare parts inventory shown by the F-35’s logistics system does not always reflect reality, causing occasional mission cancellations.

- Cabin pressure spikes in the cockpit of the F-35 have been known to cause barotrauma, the word given to extreme ear and sinus pain.

- In very cold conditions — defined as at or near minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit — the F-35 will erroneously report that one of its batteries have failed, sometimes prompting missions to be aborted.

- Supersonic flight in excess of Mach 1.2 can cause structural damage and blistering to the stealth coating of the F-35B and F-35C.

- After doing certain maneuvers, F-35B and F-35C pilots are not always able to completely control the aircraft’s pitch, roll and yaw.

- If the F-35A and F-35B blows a tire upon landing, the impact could also take out both hydraulic lines and pose a loss-of-aircraft risk.

- A “green glow” sometimes appears on the helmet-mounted display, washing out the imagery in the helmet and making it difficult to land the F-35C on an aircraft carrier.

- On nights with little starlight, the night vision camera sometimes displays green striations that make it difficult for all variants to see the horizon or to land on ships.

-The sea search mode of the F-35’s radar only illuminates a small slice of the sea’s surface.

- When the F-35B vertically lands on very hot days, older engines may be unable to produce the required thrust to keep the jet airborne, resulting in a hard landing....


The Latest: UN committee meets Friday on Ebola emergency

KASINDI, Congo (AP) — The Latest on the Ebola outbreak in Africa (all times local):

The World Health Organization says an expert committee will meet on Friday to discuss whether to declare the Ebola outbreak a global health emergency.

This is the third time the committee is meeting on the current Ebola outbreak, which has killed nearly 1,400 people since it was declared in August.

The WHO announcement comes a day after the first cross-border case in this outbreak was confirmed.

A 5-year-old boy who crossed from Congo into Uganda earlier this week has since died. Two relatives in Uganda also have the highly contagious virus...

US military vehicle hit by roadside bomb in Niger, officials say

A roadside bomb exploded damaging a U.S. military vehicle struck in the West African country of Niger, but no one was killed, U.S. Africa Command told Fox News on Sunday. U.S. officials confirmed a tactical vehicle was damaged in Saturday's explosion but said the cause was “undetermined at this time.”

Islamic State claims deadly attack in east Congo's Ebola zone

Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a deadly overnight attack in an area of eastern Congo hit by an Ebola epidemic, although its account of the violence differed from local reports. The deputy mayor of Beni in the eastern Democratic of Congo said 13 civilians were killed late on Monday in an attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) - a group thought to be linked to Islamic State.

Two injured in Mombasa explosion as parents of suspect detained [Kenya]

Two young men were injured in a night explosion inside a house in Likoni on Sunday night. Police suspect the two men were assembling a liquid-based improvised explosive device in the kitchen which accidentally went off at around 10pm, wounding the young men. Anti-terrorist police rushed to the scene and later arrested one suspect and parents of the other who escaped. And police have launched investigations following intelligence reports that a terrorist act intended for last weekend was disrupted.

Isis claims sub-Saharan attacks in a sign of African ambitions

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for two attacks by militants in sub-Saharan Africa in less than 24 hours, suggesting the continent is central to the terrorist group’s strategy of expanding a global network of extremists after the loss of its territories in Iraq and Syria. On Tuesday Isis said it was involved in an attack in Mozambique, where an intensifying insurgency has pitted a little-understood network of militants against local security forces in the northern Cabo Delgado province. It was the first such claim of an Isis link to the former Portuguese colony....Earlier in the day, Isis also claimed responsibility for a deadly overnight attack in the (DRC).


India set to launch second lunar mission; land rover on the moon

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India said on Wednesday it will launch its second lunar mission in mid-July, as it moves to consolidate its status as a leader in space technology by achieving a controlled landing on the moon.

The mission, if successful, would make India only the fourth country behind the United States, Russia and China to perform a “soft” landing on the moon and put a rover on it. China successfully landed a lunar rover in January.

The unmanned mission, called Chandrayaan-2, which means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, will involve an orbiter, a lander and a rover, which have been built by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The mission is scheduled to launch on July 15 aboard ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III. It will cost about 10 billion rupees ($144 million), ISRO said.

After a journey of more than 50 days, ISRO’s lander will attempt a “soft”, controlled landing on the lunar surface on around Sept. 6...

Pentagon Chief to Suspend Turkey’s F-35 Pilot Training
Turkish pilots training in the United States must leave by July 31, as Ankara refuses to ditch a Russian missile system.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is taking significant steps toward cutting Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program over concerns about Ankara’s plans to purchase a Russian missile system, telling his Turkish counterpart that pilots currently training in the United States must leave the country by July 31 and halting training for new students.

Turkey can still change its mind on purchasing the S-400 missile system, which is expected to arrive on Turkish soil as soon as this month, and the steps regarding F-35 training will be reversed, a senior U.S. defense official told Foreign Policy.

The United States has already halted delivery of F-35 materials and related equipment to Turkey. Without the training provided by the U.S. military, future Turkish F-35 pilots will not be able to operate the jet, which will provide the bulk of tactical airpower for the United States and many of its allied militaries for decades to come....

In the Arabian Sea, Competing Ports in Iran and Pakistan Fuel Ambition and Mistrust
The Chinese-funded Pakistani port of Gwadar is slated to become the largest shipping port of South Asia by 2022.(CHRISTINE-FELICE


- China’s expansion across South Asia and the Indian Ocean under its Belt and Road Initiative will drive India’s own regional outreach, heightening the importance of New Delhi's infrastructure projects such as the Chabahar port in Iran.

- However, the threat of U.S. sanctions and the war in Afghanistan risk thwarting Indo-Iranian cooperation on the port project.

- Meanwhile, China's closer ties with Pakistan means its own port project in Gwadar is more assured...

Taiwan confirms request for US tanks, air defense systems

Taiwan confirmed Thursday it has asked to purchase more than 100 tanks from the U.S., along with air defense and anti-tank missile systems in a major potential arms sale that drew immediate protest from China. A Defense Ministry statement said it has submitted a letter of request for 108 cutting-edge M1A2 Abrams tanks, 1,240 TOW anti-armor missiles, 409 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 250 Stinger man-portable air defense systems...

Suspected terrorists kill 95 [Mali]

No fewer than 95 people were killed when suspected terrorists attacked a village in central Mali, a statement by government said on Monday. According to the statement, 19 others are missing since armed men attacked the village of Sobame Da in the Mopti region in the early hours of Monday. “The attackers also killed animals and burnt down houses,’’ the government said, adding that an investigation into the attack was under way. Mali’s centre and north have experienced regular flare-ups of violence and attacks in the wake of a 2012 military coup that saw separatist rebel groups and later al-Qaeda-associated militants take control of the region.


‘Fort Trump’ for Poland? Not Quite.

Trump will send 1,000 noncombat troops to Eastern Europe amid signs of a Russian buildup.

The Trump administration has been mainly focused on the strategic threat from China in recent months, but U.S. President Donald Trump is signaling that he is keeping at least one eye on Russia, the only other nation the Pentagon believes could pose an existential threat to the United States...

...In addition to the additional troops, the United States will establish a forward-deployed division headquarters and a combat training center, to be jointly used by Polish and U.S. forces in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, and eventually other locations, according to the joint resolution Trump and Duda signed on Wednesday. The United States will also stand up a U.S. Air Force surveillance squadron of MQ-9 Reaper drones and a U.S. special operations forces capability in Poland. In addition, the United States will build infrastructure to support the presence of an armored brigade combat team, a combat aviation brigade, and a combat sustainment support battalion...

MI5 analysing former terror suspects to catch potential attackers

MI5 has created a new category to rank terrorist suspects and is increasing the number of behavioural scientists it uses by 50% to improve the agency’s chances of catching former jihadists who re-engage with planning attacks, the Guardian has learned. The moves follow a series of attacks in the UK in 2017, two of which were carried out by former “subjects of interest”. In those cases, active MI5 investigations were dropped only for the suspects to later kill civilians. The measures are part of a package of changes introduced after the atrocities. Internal reviews led to 125 recommendations to improve counter-terrorism efforts by MI5, the domestic security service, and counter-terrorism policing. Whitehall sources claim the measures have already led to investigations being reopened on suspects previously thought to pose a lower level of danger.

Iran-linked terrorists caught stockpiling explosives in north-west London

Terrorists linked to Iran were caught stockpiling tonnes of explosive materials on the outskirts of London in a secret British bomb factory, The Telegraph can reveal. Radicals linked to Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group, stashed thousands of disposable ice packs containing ammonium nitrate - a common ingredient in homemade bombs. The plot was uncovered by MI5 and the Metropolitan Police in the autumn of 2015, just months after the UK signed up to the Iran nuclear deal. Three metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate was discovered - more than was used in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and damaged hundreds of buildings.

France smashes neo-Nazi cell over plot to attack Jews, Muslims

French police have smashed a neo-Nazi cell accused of plotting attacks on Jewish or Muslim places of worship, legal sources said Tuesday. Five members of the group, who were “close in ideology to the neo-Nazi movement” were charged between September and May over the alleged plot, a source close to the investigation said. “The investigation suggested they were developing an ill-defined plot to carry out an attack, likely to target a place of worship,” the judicial source said.

Belgium: Man armed with knives tries to enter synagogue

... “A suspicious person with Iraqi roots tried to enter the Van De Nest synagogue on Monday morning walking next to his bike and carrying a bag. The suspect wore a kippa on his head and pretended to be Jewish.” He seemed to be carrying 2 small and 1 bigger knives. Police arrested the suspect on grounds of carrying a forbidden weapon and trying to get into the synagogue.” CKJGA also made note of several other incidents over the course of Shavuot during which Antwerp Jews were threatened.

German woman faces Islamic State-linked terrorism charges

Federal prosecutors say a 32-year-old German woman faces terrorism charges for joining the Islamic State group in Syria. Carla-Josephine S., whose last name wasn’t released for privacy reasons, is also charged with child endangerment resulting in death and other offenses....

Bulgaria Charges Teenager With Plotting Terrorist Attack

Bulgarian officials said on Saturday that they had arrested and charged a 16-year-old student who had been radicalized by the Islamic State with planning a terrorist attack. The Islamic State had recruited the teenager, who is from Plovdiv, in a process that started over social media, Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev said Saturday at a news conference in Sofia....




ISIS expands in Afghanistan, threatening West

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — The Islamic State group has lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan the group is expanding its footprint, recruiting new fighters and plotting attacks on the United States and other Western countries, according to U.S. and Afghan security officials.

Nearly two decades after the U.S.-led invasion, the extremist group is seen as an even greater threat than the Taliban because of its increasingly sophisticated military capabilities and its strategy of targeting civilians, both in Afghanistan and abroad. Concerns run so deep that many have come to see the Taliban, which has also clashed with IS, as a potential partner in containing it.

A U.S. intelligence official based in Afghanistan told The Associated Press that a recent wave of attacks in the capital, Kabul, is "practice runs" for even bigger attacks in Europe and the United States...

ISIL expands its reach in Afghanistan, threatening the West

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group is expanding its footprint in Afghanistan "with thousands and thousands" of fighters after losing its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The armed group is recruiting new soldiers and plotting attacks on the United States and other Western countries, US and Afghan security officials say. ISIL is seen as an even greater threat than the Taliban because of its increasingly sophisticated military capabilities and its strategy of targeting civilians, both in Afghanistan and abroad. Concerns run so deep that some officials have come to see the Taliban, which has also clashed with ISIL, as a potential partner in containing it...


How China Could Shut Down America’s Defenses
Advanced U.S. weapons are almost entirely reliant on rare-earth materials only made in China—and they could be a casualty of the trade war.

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Hawaii prepared to moor at the historic submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 6. Each Virginia-class submarine uses nearly five tons of rare-earth materials.

President Donald Trump has often argued that China has much more to lose than the United States in a trade war, but critics say his administration has failed to address a major U.S. vulnerability: Beijing maintains powerful leverage over the warmaking capability of its main strategic rival through its control of critical materials.

Every advanced weapon in the U.S. arsenal—from Tomahawk missiles to the F-35 fighter jet to Aegis-equipped destroyers and cruisers and everything in between—is absolutely reliant on components made using rare-earth elements, including critical items such as permanent magnets and specialized alloys that are almost exclusively made in China. Perhaps more worrisome is that the long-term U.S. supply of smart bombs and guided munitions that would have to be replenished in a hurry in the event of U.S. conflict in Syria, Iran, or elsewhere are essentially reliant on China’s acquiescence in their continued production..,


The Big Picture

The United States may not ultimately desire a war with Iran, but it is making no compromises on its campaign of exerting "maximum pressure" on Tehran over its nuclear program and regional policies. In response, Iran has vowed to retaliate, suggesting it could attack U.S. forces through its proxies elsewhere in the Middle East and attempt to close the vital Strait of Hormuz to shipping. Incidents like a June 13 attack on oil tankers near the strait could be the latest salvo in a — so far — non-military battle between Washington and Tehran.

What Happened

A month and a day after an attack with limpet mines on four tankers off Fujairah near the Strait of Hormuz, another more serious attack has occurred in the approach to the body of water. Two tankers, one a Panama-flagged vessel named the Kokuka Courageous and the other a Marshall Islands-flagged boat, the Front Altair, suffered heavy damage. The incident injured one crew member on the Kokuka Courageous, which was also forced to cease sailing as the attack opened a breach in the hull above the water line. The Front Altair, meanwhile, appeared to suffer even more damage, as news reports showed the vessel on fire and adrift. With Iran and the United States in a standoff, incidents such as these could ignite a military confrontation...

Iran has accelerated enrichment of uranium, IAEA says

TEHRAN/VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has followed through on a threat to accelerate its production of enriched uranium, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Monday, departing from his usual guarded language to say he was worried about increasing tension.

The assessment comes at a time of sharply increased U.S.-Iranian confrontation in recent weeks, a year after Washington abandoned an agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international financial sanctions.

Washington tightened sanctions from the start of May, ordering all countries and companies to halt all imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system. It has also dispatched extra troops to the region to counter what it describes as Iranian threats.

Iran has responded with a threat to increase its enrichment of uranium, saying it is up to Europeans who still support the nuclear deal to save it by finding ways to ensure Tehran gets the economic benefits it was promised.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, whose agency is responsible for monitoring Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, said Iran was now producing more enriched uranium than before, but it was not clear when it might reach stockpile limits set in the pact.

“Yes, (the) production rate is increasing,” he told a news conference when asked if enriched uranium production had accelerated since the agency’s last quarterly report, which found Iran compliant with the nuclear deal as of May 20. He declined to quantify the increase...


Iraq sentences last 2 French IS members to death

An Iraqi judicial official says a Baghdad court has sentenced to death two more French nationals convicted of being members of the Islamic State group. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the two are Murad Mohammed Mustafa , 41, and Bilal Abdel-Fattah, 32. They are among 12 French IS members who were arrested by the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and transferred from Syria to Iraqi custody in January.


In Israel, Netanyahu Heads for Another Election With No Margin for Error


- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party will enter the Sept. 17 polls with their domestic legitimacy dented, making them more likely to take risks both domestically and internationally to persuade voters to choose them.

- To bolster their security credentials and entice nationalist voters, Netanyahu will take action that could inadvertently escalate tensions with the Palestinians in the West Bank, the Iranians in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

- Regardless of the new premier, the election will showcase who has the upper hand in Israel's culture wars, which has implications for future elections and social policy amid the growing population of Haredim and ultra-Orthodox communities...

Not just fire, but arson: Weekly terror report [Israel]

Israel has been facing weeks of ongoing fires in recent weeks. Fifty families have been left homeless, countless animals have died, and thousands of acres of land have been destroyed, including pristine forests in central Israel.... In Haifa for example, 527 apartments were destroyed leaving 1,600 people homeless. 75,000 residents were evacuated and more than 20,000 dunams of forests burnt. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that out of 80 fires that were checked, 71 were the result of arson.... Firefighter Ran Shlaf, considered the premier authority in fire investigations in the country said: “Yes. We've faced arson terror. There is no dilemma or doubt about it. All the villages that were burned were Jewish, and all those arrested or prosecuted were Arabs. And from a thorough investigation we conducted, no one else in the Middle East - including the Palestinians - experienced such an extreme wave of fires like we experienced".

Tunnel crossing between Lebanon and Israel went 22 storeys deep

The Israeli army on Monday showed the inside of a sophisticated tunnel passing deep underground from Lebanon into northern Israel, saying it was intended for use by Lebanese Hezbollah militants. The tunnel was rigged with electrical wiring, fuse boxes and communications equipment. An army spokesman said it began almost a kilometer (mile) away inside Lebanon and reached depths of some 80 meters (265 feet) - about the height of a 22-storey building - as it crossed into Israel, near the town of Zarit.... Hezbollah’s leader, in response to Israel’s tunnel operation, said in January that his group has been able to enter Israel for years. But he stopped short of acknowledging that the tunnels were the handiwork of Hezbollah, citing the heavily armed group’s policy of “ambiguity” on military matters and a desire to deny Israel a pretext to attack.


(LEAD) Moon hopes to meet Kim before Trump visits S. Korea in late June

OSLO, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed hope Wednesday that he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to the peninsula at the end of this month.

Speaking at the Oslo Forum in the Norwegian capital, Moon also emphasized the urgency of Pyongyang and Washington resuming formal dialogue.
Trump is scheduled to attend the two-day G-20 summit to open in Osaka, Japan, on June 28. He plans to travel to South Korea as well during the upcoming Northeast Asia tour. No exact schedule has been announced yet...

North Korea’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs


North Korea has made recent advancements in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Since Kim Jong-un came to power in 2012, North Korea has conducted over 80 ballistic missile test launches. In 2016, North Korea conducted 2 nuclear weapons tests and 26 ballistic missile flight tests on a variety of platforms. In 2017, North Korea test launched 18 ballistic missiles (with 5 failures), including 2 launches in July and another in November that many ascribe as ICBM tests (intercontinental ballistic missiles). Most recently, North Korea tested short-range ballistic missiles on May 4 and 9. It last conducted a nuclear test in September 2017. In April 2018, Kim Jong Un said that nuclear and ICBM testing was no longer necessary. U.N. Security Council resolutions ban all ballistic missile tests by the DPRK.

Testing as well as official North Korean statements suggest that North Korea is striving to build a credible regional nuclear warfighting capability that might evade regional ballistic missile defenses. Such an approach likely reinforces a deterrence and coercive diplomacy strategy— lending more credibility as it demonstrates capability—but it also raises serious questions about crisis stability and escalation control. Congress may further examine these advances’ possible effects on U.S. policy...

Mixed Signals on Engagement

Since mid-May, there have been signs of a high-level policy discussion in Pyongyang over how to proceed with diplomatic engagement with Washington. On one hand, there has been a positive shift in DPRK commentary on US-DPRK negotiations both from the North Korean Foreign Ministry and via the pro-DPRK paper in Japan, Choson Sinbo. Externally, Pyongyang appears to be signaling that it would welcome a US gesture allowing the two sides to resume engagement. Internally, however, there seems to be opposition to this course, or at the very least serious warnings about proceeding along the same lines that Pyongyang took from January 2018-February 2019.

As usual, no single statement or commentary unambiguously tells the story. Rather, it is in combination—along with the shadings of language, topics omitted and even the choice of audience—that suggest Pyongyang is moving beyond its immediate post-Hanoi policy reevaluation and into a new phase.

The positive shift began with a May 18 Choson Sinbo commentary—authored by Kim Ji Yong—breaking with the North’s standard portrayal of the February US-DPRK Hanoi Summit as a failure, and instead emphasizing positive aspects of the summit. Over the years, Kim Ji Yong has appeared to be an especially well plugged-in journalist for the pro-NK paper in Japan. Simply put, he does not write his commentaries off the top of his head, and often either directly transmits or at least accurately conveys thinking in some circles in Pyongyang. In his May 18 commentary, Kim reached back to a February 28 KCNA report on the Hanoi talks (an extremely upbeat report apparently released before the extent of the failure was fully digested) as having resulted in the DPRK and US leaders gaining “in each other greater respect and trust.” To nail down that image, Kim repeated this positive portrayal of Hanoi elsewhere in the piece: “Eventually, the President himself will have to make a resolute decision based on the trust built during the past two summit talks...”


US Intelligence Officials and Satellite Photos Detail Russian Military Buildup on Crimea

Five S-400 anti-aircraft missile batteries, plus additional troops and fighters, let Moscow better defend the Black Sea and threaten Europe and the Middle East. Russia has added troops, aircraft, and weapons to Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in what amounts to a “significant” buildup of forces over the past 18 months, according to U.S. intelligence officials, observers, and new satellite photos that reveal the locations of new S-400 air defense systems and improvements to Soviet-era bases...


Saudi Arabia: Houthi Cruise Missile Attack on Airport Injures 26

What Happened: A cruise missile launched by Houthi rebel forces struck Saudi Arabia's Abha International Airport, injuring 26 people in the arrival hall. Both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi media outlets described the projectile as a cruise missile, a departure from the ballistic missiles commonly been used by the Houthis.

Why It Matters: The incident shows a continuation of the development of the Houthi's offensive capabilities. Though Houthi drone and ballistic missile attacks are a familiar threat in southwestern Saudi Arabia, an attack with this many casualties is unusual. Because the Saudis blame Iran for actions perpetrated by the Houthis, increasingly capable Houthi attacks will only intensify already high tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as between the United States and Iran. Cruise missiles add a new type of threat to personnel and assets in Saudi Arabia, given that they have greater accuracy than ballistic missiles, their launching systems are more mobile and they can evade anti-missile systems more effectively.

Background: Iran reportedly began ramping up support for the Houthis in November 2018, including the provision of more advanced drones capable of striking central Saudi Arabia, additional ballistic missiles and now cruise missiles. The Houthis released a video of a supposed cruise missile launch in December 2017, but there was no indication that the projectile struck its target, and no subsequent videos or incidents have emerged since. The Houthis have launched dozens of ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, which have most heavily impacted the Saudi-Yemen border area, though some have reached as far as Riyadh.

Egypt: Troops kill 14 militants day after IS attack in Sinai

Egypt says security forces killed 14 militants while pursuing attackers behind an assault on a police checkpoint in northern Sinai that authorities said left eight policemen dead. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack near the city of el-Arish. Egyptian security officials initially said as many as 10 policemen died in the attack but the discrepancy in the accounts could not be reconciled. The area is off limits to reporters.


AI Can Thrive in Open Societies

The belief that China’s surveillance gives it an advantage is misleading—and dangerous.

According to foreign-policy experts and the defense establishment, the United States is caught in an artificial intelligence arms race with China—one with serious implications for national security. The conventional version of this story suggests that the United States is at a disadvantage because of self-imposed restraints on the collection of data and the privacy of its citizens, while China, an unrestrained surveillance state, is at an advantage. In this vision, the data that China collects will be fed into its systems, leading to more powerful AI with capabilities we can only imagine today. Since Western countries can’t or won’t reap such a comprehensive harvest of data from their citizens, China will win the AI arms race and dominate the next century.

This idea makes for a compelling narrative, especially for those trying to justify surveillance—whether government- or corporate-run. But it ignores some fundamental realities about how AI works and how AI research is conducted.

Thanks to advances in machine learning, AI has flipped from theoretical to practical in recent years, and successes dominate public understanding of how it works. Machine learning systems can now diagnose pneumonia from X-rays, play the games of go and poker, and read human lips, all better than humans. They’re increasingly watching surveillance video. They are at the core of self-driving car technology and are playing roles in both intelligence-gathering and military operations. These systems monitor our networks to detect intrusions and look for spam and malware in our email....


How to Take Care of an Ex-Spy

Former intelligence officers need compassion —or they can turn sour.

Philip CarusoJune 14, 2019, 3:29 PM

There’s been a surge of Americans caught spying for foreign countries of late. On March 15, former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) case officer Ron Hansen pleaded guilty to attempted transmission of national defense information to China. On February 13, Monica Witt was indicted in absentia for spying on behalf of Iran. On June 8, 2018, former CIA officer and DIA intelligence officer Kevin Mallory was convicted of selling classified documents to China. And on May 8, 2018, former CIA case officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee was indicted for conspiring to provide national defense information to China after he left the CIA.

You may be wondering what the U.S. government is doing about this. Over the past decade, unauthorized disclosures have incited questions about the U.S. government’s ability to protect classified information, sensitive equipment, and specialized tradecraft—to the extent that even The Onion has weighed in.

Many unauthorized disclosures, including severely damaging ones such as from Edward Snowden, have come from current employees with ready access to sensitive information. However, as the cases this year show, an equally susceptible population—former U.S. government employees—has faced increased scrutiny for unauthorized disclosures in the course of employment by foreign countries and outright espionage. What’s more, cases that are actually brought to indictment and trial may only represent a fraction of the whole. No government can entirely protect against treason, but the United States could be doing far more to both serve former employees and protect against their defection to its foes.


Lessons from a Workplace Shooting in Virginia Beach


- Incidents of workplace violence and mass public attacks are a persistent concern.

- Training for responding to active shooters and other attacks can help save lives in the event of an attack.

- Nevertheless, proactive security measures must accompany any response to help avoid attacks. An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure

Hezbollah Isn’t Just in Beirut. It’s in New York, Too.

The trial of a senior operative reveals the extent of the terrorist organization’s reach in the United States and Canada.

Fighters with the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah party, carry flags as they parade in a southern suburb of the capital Beirut, to mark the al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day, on May 31. ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images
In recent years, Hezbollah has stepped up its activities beyond Lebanon’s borders. This uptick has been clearest in the Middle East—in Iraq, Yemen, and especially Syria—but plots have also been thwarted in South America, Asia, Europe, and now, possibly, the United States.

Reports of Hezbollah activity in North America are not new, though such reporting tends to focus on the group’s fundraising, money laundering, procurement, or other logistical activities from Vancouver to Miami. But last month, the criminal prosecution and conviction in New York of the Hezbollah operative Ali Kourani revealed disturbing new information about the extent of Hezbollah’s operations and activities in the United States and Canada...

Trump’s Iran Crackdown Isn’t Enough to Stop Hezbollah

Unless Washington targets the group more effectively, it can outlive the pressure on Tehran.

Hezbollah is reportedly feeling the pain of U.S. President Donald Trump administration’s maximum-pressure campaign against Iran. Tehran, after all, contributes about $700 million to the U.S.-designated terrorist group’s estimated yearly budget of approximately $1 billion. As sanctions squeeze Tehran, less money is supposedly flowing to Hezbollah as a result.

However, sanctions on Iran are unlikely to cause Hezbollah to go broke, because the Lebanese group brings in an estimated $300 million per year from independent sources including the proceeds of transnational crime, although the true figure is likely much higher. In Latin America’s booming cocaine trade, Hezbollah members and associates provide cartels with reliable money-laundering services.

Unless the Trump administration begins disrupting these cash flows, Hezbollah will live to fight another day.

Hezbollah has already shown it can survive tough sanctions on Iran...

No bail for man accused of plotting terror attack in Times Square

A man who investigators allege was plotting to kill people in New York's Times Square is being held on weapons charges, accused of buying two illegal pistols from an undercover government agent, federal prosecutors said Friday. Ashiqul Alam, 22, of Queens, was charged in a federal court in Brooklyn with knowingly receiving two firearms with obliterated serial numbers, a criminal complaint reads. He is being held without bail.

English-speaking ISIS supporters exploit messaging app

The English-speaking supporters of the terrorist group ISIS have been using the encrypted messaging app Telegram to communicate with like-minded sympathizers around the world, a new report finds. A new study by George Washington University's Program on Extremism found that English-speaking ISIS supporters "exploit Telegram's suite of features to communicate with like-minded supporters across the world, disseminate official and unofficial (ISIS) media, and provide instructional material for operations." The report calls Telegram "effective and secure" and "the preferred digital communication tool for (ISIS) sympathizers."


No comments:

Post a Comment