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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What's Going On In The World Today 160824


The NSA Has a New Disclosure Policy: Getting Hacked
On Monday, when tech executives arrived in their offices, just days after a mysterious group of hackers released what they claimed were a set of NSA hacking tools, a familiar and frustrating pattern was taking shape. America’s premier signals intelligence agency had once again discovered unknown flaws in products used to secure computer networks around the globe, but instead of telling the manufacturers, the NSA pocketed those flaws, like skeleton keys that would let them open doors to others’ networks whenever and wherever they wanted.

If the tools released by the group known as the “Shadow Brokers” are legitimately from the NSA — and security researchers and agency veterans say that they appear to be — the agency now faces a fresh round of questions about how the breach occurred and when the agency found out.

That’s because the data released by the Shadow Brokers contained what are known as “zero days,” software flaws that are unknown to the manufacturer of a piece of software or hardware, and thus flaws for which no patch is even in the works.

Stockpiling such vulnerabilities is part of an international arms race in cyberspace. Last weekend’s dump exposed what is likely a small part of the American arsenal of such high tech battering rams, and it has reignited a debate among security researchers about whether the government should be stockpiling them, or if it should be revealing those vulnerabilities to manufacturers to make American networks more robust…




Japan eyes fighter drone, seeks record defense budget amid China assertiveness

Japan aims to develop a prototype drone fighter jet in two decades with private sector help in a technology strategy that focuses on weapons communications and lasers, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The plan will be announced this month when the Defense Ministry also unveils its request for a record budget of 5.16 trillion yen ($51 billion) for fiscal 2017, as tension rises in the East China Sea and North Korea steps up its missile threat, government officials with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The military technology plan calls for first developing an unmanned surveillance aircraft in the next decade and then an unmanned fighter jet 10 years later, the document showed.

The rise of 2.3 percent over this year's budget of 5.05 trillion yen marks the fifth successive annual increase sought by the ministry, which is keen to stiffen Japan's defenses as North Korea upgrades its ballistic missile technology…

…The defense ministry's request covers the 100 billion yen cost to upgrade Japan's PAC-3 missile defense system, said one government source, who declined to be identified, as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Such an upgrade would roughly double the missile system's range to more than 30 km (19 miles), other sources have said.

The budget proposal also includes the cost of production of the Block IIA version of the Standard Missile-3 system being jointly developed with the United States to shoot down missiles at higher altitudes, the source added.

The ministry will also allocate budget funds to acquire an upgraded version of the F-35 stealth fighter, made by U.S. company Lockheed Martin Corp, the source said…

South Korea's 'Razor Reef' Deters Illegal Fishing


Since an international tribunal ruled in July on maritime control in the South China Sea, countries in the region have become more focused on protecting and managing the maritime resources that will continue to shape relations throughout the Asia-Pacific. Now, South Korea is placing some 80 new artificial reefs near the islands along the Northern Limit Line, the maritime extension of the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula. The reefs offer a creative solution to a complex problem, enabling Seoul to manage dwindling fish stocks, curtail illegal Chinese fishing and address the potential for future confrontations with North Korea all at the same time...

North Korea: Missile Test-Launched From Submarine

North Korea launched a submarine-based ballistic missile off its east coast on Aug. 23, the South Korean military said, Reuters reported. The launch coincides with annual joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea that are currently underway. This was just the latest in a series of missile launch tests by North Korea, which has long pursued a strategy of nuclear deterrence.


European Banks' Struggles Will Continue


Cuba: Iranian Foreign Minister Promises Stronger Ties With Havana

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said his visit to Havana on Aug. 22 would begin a new chapter in Iran-Cuba relations, Reuters reported. The trip is the first stop on his six-day tour of Latin America, which will include meetings in Chile, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela. It follows Cuban Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas' visit last week to Tehran, where he met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Iran is trying to improve its foreign trade now that sanctions against it have been lifted. Zarif's Cuban counterpart congratulated Iran on reaching a deal on its nuclear program and reiterated Cuba's support for all countries seeking to develop nuclear energy. Cuba and Iran both have had conflict-ridden relationships with the United States and have been accused by the United States of sponsoring terrorism.

Central America: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala To Launch Anti-Gang Force

The leaders of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala signed an agreement Aug. 24 in San Salvador to establish a joint force that would combat organized crime and drug trafficking, Reuters reported. The new force would mount coordinated operations, enhanced by shared intelligence and expedited extradition procedures. No details were released about the composition of the force. The three Central American nations are beset by violence among its criminal groups, which have spurred migration north to the United States.


Afghanistan: Truck Bomb Explodes Outside Hotel Compound

A truck bomb claimed by the Taliban detonated outside of a hotel used by foreign contractors in Kabul early Aug. 1, causing heavy structural damage to a nearby empty compound but failing to inflict damage on its target, police officials said, Reuters reported. The blast, which killed the driver, took place just outside the Northgate Hotel. Two other attackers were reportedly shot dead by police in an ensuing firefight, during which officials say one officer was killed and four others were wounded. The Taliban, which often exaggerates the damage caused by its attacks, said the bombing caused dozens of casualties. Even after recently replacing fallen leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the Taliban has sustained its insurgency.


China: World’s First Quantum Communication Satellite Launched

China launched the world’s first quantum communication satellite into space early on Aug. 16, Xinhua and the South China Morning Post reported. The government hopes the satellite will facilitate “hack-proof” communications between space and the ground, particularly Beijing and the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi. According to the report, quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated, making it impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it. China is following in its neighbors' footsteps, and its emergence as a global force in technology development is only a matter of time.

China's first indigenous aircraft carrier nearing completion

Airbus Defence and Space imagery showing the Type 001A hull in dry dock at Dalian. The hull is largely complete, with just one aircraft elevator, superstructure, and some deck sections left to be added. Source: CNES 2016, Distribution Airbus DS/© 2016 IHS
Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 11 August 2016 shows significant activity related to China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) projects at Dalian Shipyard, including the assembly of the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier (CV), the Type 001A, and the production of Type 052D guided-missile destroyers (DDGs).

The imagery shows that, with the addition of the bow section and other exterior components, the assembly of the Type 001A CV is nearly complete. Two of the component fabrication areas adjacent to the dry dock are largely clear of materials, indicating that work on the Type 001A hull is nearing an end. Few uninstalled components remain present, including the forward aircraft elevator.

Additional components awaiting installation relate to the superstructure. Two modules, consisting of portions of the forward and aft sections of the superstructure, can be seen in one of the component fabrication areas.

Apart from sections of deck plating, which remain uninstalled to facilitate access to internal areas, the superstructure is the final significant external feature awaiting installation. The presence of superstructure modules suggests installation could occur in the near term.

Across the harbour from the Type 001A's dry dock, work on Dalian's three Type 052D DDG hulls is progressing. One hull remains in dry dock, with two pier side. The first hull is visibly complete and is undergoing sea trials, while the second hull, launched on 3 August 2016, awaits the installation of various components.

Berthed at the northern end of the ship yard, the second hull lacks many sensor and weapon fittings. Notably absent are the forward 130 mm gun, the forward vertical launch system, and various sensor fittings, including the Type 366 radar mounted atop the bridge.






Obama to Israel: Our Tax Dollars Won’t Go to Your Defense Contractors

Washington and Jerusalem are about to ink a groundbreaking arms package, but it hinges on ending sweetheart deals for Israel’s defense firms.

Obama to Israel: Our Tax Dollars Won’t Go to Your Defense Contractors

The United States and Israel are close to clinching a massive 10-year arms deal, but Washington is pushing to scrap a coveted provision that has allowed Israel to pump hundreds of millions of dollars directly into its defense industry…

Israel: Hezbollah behind explosives found near Lebanon border

Defense official says 3 charges discovered by farmer in Metulla last month were to be used in attacks against IDF, civilians

Explosive devices discovered in a field by a farmer near the northern town of Metulla last month were smuggled into Israel from Lebanon by Hezbollah, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

An unnamed defense official told the radio station that the three makeshift charges uncovered in a field were likely meant to be used in attacks against Israelis.

It wasn’t clear who was meant to collect the devices, though the Lebanon-based terror group has recently ramped up efforts to recruit Palestinian operatives from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and within Israel using social media.

Last week, Israel’s Shin Bet security service revealed that in recent months it had broken up two Hezbollah terror cells and arrested nine local members of the organization.

Hezbollah operatives from the group’s Unit 133 — its foreign operations unit — working out of Lebanon and Gaza were recruiting operatives through Facebook to carry out suicide bombings and ambush Israel Defense Forces patrols in the West Bank. They received funding from Hezbollah, and some members had begun preparing explosive devices for use in attacks, the Shin Bet said in an August 16 statement.

The terror operatives were arrested earlier this summer, but information about the case was kept under a court-issued gag order. The Shin Bet has credited the operation with thwarting a number of terror attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and Israel.

In response to Hezbollah’s recruitment efforts, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the international organization to formally recognize Hezbollah as a terror group.

“The international community must condemn Hezbollah’s attempts to harm innocent Israeli civilians, and the Security Council must finally designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization,” Danon said last week in a statement.’r


Putin's Chance to Change History

Twenty-five years ago, an unsuccessful coup attempt, known as the August Coup, was launched by a group of hawkish Communist Party members and security elites against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, in what was widely seen as one of the key moments that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The coup's ring leaders, known as the Gang of Eight, were dissatisfied with Gorbachev's liberalization plans and the balancing act between the Soviet republics and Moscow. Similar conversations are being had in Moscow today — and within the Kremlin are very familiar divides.

What Russia's Aircraft Are Doing in Iran

Satellite imagery from Aug. 17 shows the continued presence of Russian military aviation at Hamedan air base, west of Tehran. A number of Su-34 fighter-bombers are present, with four aircraft located close to each other at the eastern end of the airfield. Photographs posted online Aug. 15 showed at least three Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bombers (also known by their NATO reporting name, Backfire) at the air base. Moscow and Tehran have officially confirmed the presence of Russian military aviation assets in Iran. Having previously used the base as a refueling stop, the Russian aircraft now appear to be conducting operations from there, striking targets in Syria since Aug. 16...





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