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Sunday, September 30, 2018

What's going on in the World Today 180930



Can The U.S. Air Force Add 74 Squadrons?

The U.S. Air Force’s proposal to increase in size by nearly 25% is being greeted with a mix of admiration and skepticism, as it sets the stage for future budget debates.

“The Air Force is too small for what the nation expects of us,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said at the annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 17.

Growth would take place over 10 years

Analysts say plan would require 40,000 more airmen

The analysis leading the Air Force to seek 386 squadrons, up from 312, is driven by the 2018 National Defense Strategy, says Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. The strategy calls on the Air Force to defend the homeland, provide a safe and effective nuclear deterrent, meet a peer threat and deter a near-peer threat while maintaining campaign momentum against global extremism. All these objectives would have to be met while assuming a moderate risk, based on intelligence assessments of the future threat, he says.

While thorough, analysis driving the increase to forces not seen since the Cold War is not complete, Wilson notes. “There are 5-6 more studies due by next March,” she says, stressing that Air Force leadership is not naive about the affordability challenges this plan will face. “We’re engaged in a conversation right now. We haven’t laid out a complete program plan.”

The details are scant. The official breakdown would grow the force by a number of new squadrons (see graph). To equip a force of 386 squadrons, the Air Force will need 182 fighters, 60 bombers, 210 tankers and 15 airlifters over the next decade, according to John Venable, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Other estimates vary. Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners, for instance, projects the force would add 210 fighters, 140 tankers and 50 bombers, resulting in requests of more than $5 billion annually...

Wilson Pegs Initial Space Force Cost At $12.9B

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has outlined a plan to build a Space Development Agency and lay the foundation for a separate military service known as the U.S. Space Force by fiscal 2020.
The first five years of the Space Force is estimated to cost $12.9 billion, according to a Sept. 14 report included in a letter from Wilson to “colleagues.” Space Force funding would come in next February’s fiscal 2020 budget request, and the first year of the Space Force, which would fund the creation of a headquarters and combatant command, would cost $3.3 billion, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Aerospace DAILY.

That new Space Force would include space elements of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), but Wilson’s letter to does not make reference to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, which cooperates extensively with the NRO and uses Earth-observation satellites for mapping purposes.

Wilson proposes having the Space Rapid Capabilities Office assume the duties of a Space Development Agency and declare initial operational capability in fiscal 2019. The Space Rapid Capabilities Office was approved by Congress in 2018 and was given authority to move quickly and efficiently.

“Like the National Reconnaissance Office, the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, fulfilling the role of the Space Development Agency, will be staffed with members from all Services and U.S. government agencies,” the report reads. “We propose other military departments have a direct role in developing capability solutions to ensure sustainment, training, logistics and other organize, train and equip activities fully considered across the Services...”

U.S. Naval Update Map: Sept. 27, 2018




A Military Crackdown in Tajikistan Could Draw in Bigger Powers


- Tajikistan's security forces could soon launch a military operation in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region, raising the possibility of a wider conflict.

- The region's proximity to the Tajik-Afghan border could draw in Russia and China, both of which share a strategic interest in containing militancy in the area.

- Military movements by Tajikistan and Russia, as well as potential militant attacks against government and security forces, will determine whether the conflict escalates.
wenty years after a destructive civil war, Tajikistan is potentially facing renewed conflict. The country's military is reportedly deploying troops to the eastern city of Khorugh in preparation for a special operation there, according to opposition sources in Tajikistan. During a meeting with local officials in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region — the capital of which is Khorugh — on Sept. 15, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon criticized local leaders for their failure to crack down on criminal and drug-trafficking groups in the region, giving them a one-month deadline to "establish order." Rahmon also reportedly replaced many of the top regional posts during his visit, including four deputy regional governors, the head of the regional police department and the head of the regional court...

India: Oil Imports From Iran to Fall Toward Zero in November

What Happened: None of India's major firms are planning on importing any oil from Iran in November, Bloomberg reported Sept. 25.

Why It Matters: Indian imports of Iranian oil could fall to near zero in November, when U.S. sanctions on such shipments will take effect. In addition to a relatively small negative impact on India's economy, the reduction in oil imports from Iran will also increase the pressure on the Islamic republic's struggling economy.

Background: India's government has not ejoyed success in negotiating an exemption from U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil, which will take effect Nov. 5.


Managing Unmanned Flight

UK Companies Look To Push UAS Industry To The Next Level

It has become an accepted article of faith that the commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS) sector is going to become one of aviation’s biggest future markets in Europe, North America and throughout
the world. To cite just one recent study: In late May, PwC published research that estimated drone
technology could increase the GDP in the UK alone by more than £42 billion ($54
billion) by 2030.

Yet any and all such claims are predicated on such unmanned aircraft being safely and seamlessly integrated into unsegregated airspace. The financial and practical benefits of routine flights by UASs — aka drones — in nationalairspace will only be realized if and when operators have a file-and-fly capability as easy and quick to access as that enjoyed today by pilots of conventional aircraft.

Unfortunately for the boosters of the coming drone revolution, such a system does not yet exist. There are a number of significant obstacles that appear likely to impede immediate progress — from the limited practicability of equipping small drones with sensor suites necessary to avoid inflight collisions, through the lack of any system to achieve regulatory approval, and convincing a skeptical or even hostile public that the touted benefits outweigh the perceived risks...

Poland: Warsaw Hopes to Increase Its Autonomy with a New Canal

The Big Picture

At a time of uncertainty about the future of the global order, Poland is trying to strengthen its strategic autonomy in the defense, energy and trade realms. An ongoing project to build a canal connecting a Polish port to the Baltic Sea is a small piece of the bigger puzzle, which sits in line with Warsaw's overall strategy.

What Happened

The leader of Poland's governing Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has promised that Warsaw will soon start building a canal connecting the Baltic Sea and the Vistula Lagoon in the north of the country. Currently, ships using the Polish port of Elblag, in the Vistula Lagoon, can only reach the Baltic Sea through a canal on the Russian side of the lagoon, near Baltiysk in Kaliningrad. To use the Strait of Baltiysk, Poland has to pay navigation rights to Russia. In an interview on Sept. 24, Kaczynski said the canal project will enhance Poland's independence and promised that "the times when Russia dictated what we could or not do on our territory are over..."

Netherlands police arrests foil 'major terrorist attack'

Police in the Netherlands have arrested seven men over an alleged plot to carry out what they describe as a major terrorist attack involving guns and explosives.

Police say the men were trying to source AK47s, hand grenades and bomb materials to carry out their attack.

The men, aged between 21 and 34, were arrested on Thursday.

Three had been arrested previously for trying to travel abroad to join foreign militants.

Prosecutors say the man at the centre of the group is a 34-year-old of Iraqi origin, who was convicted in 2017 for trying to travel to fight for the Islamic State group.

They say they were tipped off about the plot in April 2018 by intelligence services, who said the main suspect wanted to target "a large event in the Netherlands where there would be a lot of victims".

The seven men were arrested in the central city of Arnhem and southern municipality of Weert on Thursday afternoon by anti-terrorism teams from the country's Special Interventions Service (DSI).

Prosecutors believe the suspects wanted to carry out twin attacks involving a bomb and gun attack at an event and a car bomb detonated elsewhere.

"The suspects were in search of AK47s, hand guns, hand grenades, explosive vests and raw materials for several [car] bombs," prosecutors said in a statement...


What Happens When a Major Mexican Cartel Leader Falls?


- As the most powerful and aggressive cartel in Mexico today, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) will continue to drive record levels of violence as it battles rivals for control around the country.

- Because of the high levels of violence perpetrated by the CJNG, Mexican authorities will ultimately capture or kill the cartel's leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes – also known as "El Mencho."

- The removal of Oseguera Cervantes, however, is likely to provoke more violence if the CJNG implodes into a host of competing smaller criminal groups.

The attack was almost cinematic: Just over a week ago, gunmen dressed as mariachi musicians shot dead five people at a restaurant in Mexico City's Plaza Garibaldi, a place of attraction for locals and tourists alike. The latest violence to grab the headlines illustrates how cartel figures are now dragging violence with them into the tourist areas and upscale neighborhoods they frequent and inhabit. In fact, an American tourist on her honeymoon was killed by a bullet meant for someone else outside a palatial Mexico City restaurant on July 7...




Taiwan Can Win a War With China

Beijing boasts it can seize the island easily. The PLA knows better.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to the 19th Party Congress about the future of Taiwan last year, his message was ominous and unequivocal: “We have firm will, full confidence, and sufficient capability to defeat any form of Taiwan independence secession plot. We will never allow any person, any organization, or any political party to split any part of the Chinese territory from China at any time or in any form.”

This remark drew the longest applause of his entire three-hour speech—but it’s not a new message. The invincibility of Chinese arms in the face of Taiwanese “separatists” and the inevitability of reunification are constant Chinese Communist Party themes. At its base, the threat made by Xi is that the People’s Liberation Army has the power to defeat the Taiwanese military and destroy its democracy by force, if need be. Xi understands the consequences of failure here. “We have the determination, the ability and the preparedness to deal with Taiwanese independence,” he stated in 2016, “and if we do not deal with it, we will be overthrown.”

China has already ratcheted up economic and diplomatic pressure on the island since the 2016 election of Tsai Ing-wen and the independence-friendly Democratic Progressive Party. Saber-rattling around the Taiwan Strait has been common. But China might not be able to deliver on its repeated threats. Despite the vast discrepancy in size between the two countries, there’s a real possibility that Taiwan could fight off a Chinese attack—even without direct aid from the United States.

Two recent studies, one by Michael Beckley, a political scientist at Tufts University, and the other by Ian Easton, a fellow at the Project 2049 Institute, in his book The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia, provide us with a clearer picture of what a war between Taiwan and the mainland might look like. Grounded in statistics, training manuals, and planning documents from the PLA itself, and informed by simulations and studies conducted by both the U.S. Defense Department and the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense, this research presents a very different picture of a cross-strait conflict than that hawked by the party’s official announcements.

Chinese commanders fear they may be forced into armed contest with an enemy that is better trained, better motivated, and better prepared for the rigors of warfare than troops the PLA could throw against them.Chinese commanders fear they may be forced into armed contest with an enemy that is better trained, better motivated, and better prepared for the rigors of warfare than troops the PLA could throw against them. A cross-strait war looks far less like an inevitable victory for China than it does a staggeringly risky gamble.

Chinese army documents imagine that this gamble will begin with missiles. For months, the PLA’s Rocket Force will have been preparing this opening salvo; from the second war begins until the day the invasion commences, these missiles will scream toward the Taiwanese coast, with airfields, communication hubs, radar equipment, transportation nodes, and government offices in their sights. Concurrently, party sleeper agents or special forces discreetly ferried across the strait will begin an assassination campaign targeting the president and her Cabinet, other leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party, officials at key bureaucracies, prominent media personalities, important scientists or engineers, and their families.

The goal of all this is twofold. In the narrower tactical sense, the PLA hopes to destroy as much of the Taiwanese Air Force on the ground as it can and from that point forward keep things chaotic enough on the ground that the Taiwan’s Air Force cannot sortie fast enough to challenge China’s control of the air. The missile campaign’s second aim is simpler: paralysis. With the president dead, leadership mute, communications down, and transportation impossible, the Taiwanese forces will be left rudderless, demoralized, and disoriented. This “shock and awe” campaign will pave the way for the invasion proper.

This invasion will be the largest amphibious operation in human history. Tens of thousands of vessels will be assembled—mostly commandeered from the Chinese merchant marine—to ferry 1 million Chinese troops across the strait, who will arrive in two waves. Their landing will be preceded by a fury of missiles and rockets, launched from the Rocket Force units in Fujian, Chinese Air Force fighter bombers flying in the strait, and the escort fleet itself.

Confused, cut off, and overwhelmed, the Taiwanese forces who have survived thus far will soon run out of supplies and be forced to abandon the beaches. Once the beachhead is secured, the process will begin again: With full air superiority, the PLA will have the pick of their targets, Taiwanese command and control will be destroyed, and isolated Taiwanese units will be swept aside by the Chinese army’s advance. Within a week, they will have marched into Taipei; within two weeks they will have implemented a draconian martial law intended to convert the island into the pliant forward operating base the PLA will need to defend against the anticipated Japanese and American counter-campaigns...


Iran: Attack in Restive Khuzestan Raises Suspicions of Foreign Involvement

The Big Picture

The regional competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia is heating up. As a result, each country is concerned that the other is supporting minority groups in their populations — Saudi Arabia's Shiite community and Iran's Arab community in Khuzestan province — to stir up domestic unrest. In the wake of an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Khuzestan's capital, the Iranian government is on guard for signs of foreign support for insurgent groups in the restive region.

What Happened

Four gunmen opened fire on a military parade and celebration in Ahvaz, capital of Iran's Khuzestan province, on Sept. 22. The attack killed at least 25 people — including 12 members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — and injured more than 70 others. Though it is still unclear who committed the attack, Iranian officials were quick to point the finger at local separatist groups and at international rivals such as the United States and Saudi Arabia...








Ukraine and Russia Take Their Conflict to the Sea


- As the standoff between Ukraine and Russia intensifies in eastern Ukraine, the Sea of Azov will become a new area of contention.

- Both Ukraine and Russia will increase their military presence in the sea, and Kiev has already announced plans for a new naval base there before the end of the year.
- The military buildup could lead to growing economic disruption of shipping in and out of the sea.

Russia is stronger than Ukraine on the sea, but robust U.S. support for Kiev could alter the situation in the area.

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has so far been restricted to ground battles over control of eastern Ukraine. Recent developments, however, suggest that the war — now in its fifth year — could soon spread to the sea. On Sept. 16, the Ukrainian government announced plans to create a naval base in the Sea of Azov before the end of the year, four days before President Petro Poroshenko confirmed Kiev's intentions in a speech to parliament. The statements come amid military buildups by both Ukraine and Russia in the Sea of Azov, which have been provoked in part by Moscow's construction of a bridge between Crimea and mainland Russia. The bridge has allowed the latter to harass Ukrainian vessels as part of larger restrictions on its shipping. As a result of the growing tensions, a flare-up is now entirely possible on the Sea of Azov, especially if the United States also brings its weight to bear in the conflict...

Russia's Plans to Deter Israeli Airstrikes in Syria Could Backfire


- Russia will bolster the Syrian air defense network in the wake of the accidental loss of its IL-20 surveillance plane in Syria.

- Its measures to enhance Syria's air defenses will not stop Israel from conducting further airstrikes in the country.

- Israel's insistence on continuing to stage attacks in Syria, combined with Russia's increasing efforts to prevent it from doing so, will improve the chances of the Syrian civil war escalating into a larger conflict.

Russia is trying to avoid disaster in Syria. After a Syrian surface-to-air missile battery accidentally shot down a Russian surveillance plane Sept. 17 while responding to an Israeli attack, Moscow is moving to secure Syria's airspace, as expected. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Sept. 24 that his country would increase its support for Syria's air defense network in hopes of preventing future accidents and "ill-considered actions" by "hotheads" — namely, Israel. But Russia's actions won't stop Israel from carrying out airstrikes against Iranian assets in Syria. In fact, they may raise the risk of an escalation between Iran and Israel...


U.S. removing some missile systems from Middle East: WSJ

(Reuters) - The United States is pulling some of its anti-aircraft and missile batteries out of the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing U.S. military officials.

Kuwait says U.S. decision to remove missile systems is routine
The Pentagon will pull out four Patriot missile systems from Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain next month, the report said, adding that the realignment step marks a shift of focus away from long-lasting conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan to tensions with China, Russia and Iran.

Two Patriot missile systems will be redeployed from Kuwait, and one each from Jordan and Bahrain, the report said. Patriots are mobile missile systems capable of shooting down missiles and planes...


India’s Supreme Court Limits Aadhaar, a Sweeping ID Program

The government says its identification system for public services has already saved billions of dollars, but critics are worried about data security and a surveillance state.

NEW DELHI — India’s Supreme Court limited the government’s sweeping national biometric identity system on Wednesday, but found that the program did not fundamentally violate Indians’ privacy rights.

The five-judge panel limited the use of the program, called Aadhaar, to the distribution of certain benefits. It struck down the government’s use of the system for unrelated issues like identifying students taking school exams. The court also said that private companies like banks and cellphone providers could not require users to prove their identities with Aadhaar...

...The decision affects everything from government welfare programs, such as food aid and pensions, to private businesses, which have used the digital ID as a fast, efficient way to verify customers’ identities. Some states, such as Andhra Pradesh, had also planned to integrate the ID system into far-reaching surveillance programs, raising the specter of widespread government spying.

Aadhaar, a Hindi word meaning “foundation,” was initially intended as a difficult-to-forge ID to reduce fraud and improve the delivery of government welfare programs. The plan was to scan the fingerprints, irises and faces of every one of India’s 1.3 billion residents, and then use them to check identity when someone was picking up subsidized rice or joining a government work program.

U.S.: The White House Takes a Quantum Leap

The Big Picture

Technology is a critical theater where China and the United States compete, and quantum information science (QIS) is a key part of that competition. A new strategy paper from the National Science and Technology Council represents the Trump administration's first attempt at developing a QIS policy.

What Happened

A subcommittee of the White House's National Science and Technology Council released a report, the "National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science," on Sept. 24. The 15-page document recommends goals for President Donald Trump's administration to pursue to help strengthen U.S. capabilities in quantum information science (QIS). Representatives from companies such as Alphabet, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell and Northrop Grumman met at the White House with various academics and government officials to discuss QIS strategy...

Google Maps Is a Better Spy Than James Bond

Open-source intelligence is a vital tool for governments—and for checking them.

Emily Thornberry, a member of the British Parliament, recently made a statement to the House of Commons that “relying on so-called open-source intelligence provided by proscribed terrorist groups is not an acceptable alternative” when it came to identifying the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Thornberry’s words betray an alarming lack of knowledge not only about the situation in Syria but also about how open-source investigation has revolutionized nation-state and commercial intelligence, journalism, and conflict monitoring. This is particularly worrying because Thornberry is the shadow foreign secretary—the opposition member charged with monitoring foreign affairs and who’s most likely to take the same office if the Labour Party forms a government in the future.

Open-source intelligence, in its simplest form, refers to sources of data that are open; anyone can see and read them if they choose to. The internet, for example, is the greatest collection of open-source data that has ever existed. This vast repository is not only useful for intelligence agencies and private companies; it has also become a vital source for civil society groups to track conflict, fight corruption, and investigate crimes. Open-source intelligence is, in fact, potentially far more reliable and checkable by a democratic public than traditional closed sources...




In Pictures: Stratolaunch PGA Rocket Engine Revealed

Stratolaunch recently unveiled plans to develop a complete launch vehicle family to operate from its giant carrier aircraft. They range from the previously announced Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Pegasus XL to ‘Black Ice’, a fully reusable spaceplane which, the company says, will eventually be capable of carrying astronauts to low earth orbit.

Designed to power the family of air-launched vehicles unveiled by the company in August, the emergence of the PGA marks a major gambit in Stratolaunch’s bid to take a slice of the growing small- and medium-payload space-launch market...

Friday, September 28, 2018

Officer Down

Police Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa
Hawaii County Police Department, Hawaii
End of Watch Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Age 46
Tour 10 years
Badge 444
Cause Gunfire
Incident Date Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Police Officer Bronson Kaliloa was shot and fatally wounded at approximately 9:30 pm as he and other officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop of a wanted subject on Highway 11, in the area of Kukui Camp Road, in Mountain View.

As officers approached the vehicle the wanted subject exited and opened fire with a handgun, striking Officer Bronson in the neck and leg. Other officers returned fire as the subject fled into a dense area of brush along the roadside.

Officer Kaliloa was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds shortly after midnight.

The subject who murdered Officer Kaliloa was located when several associates attempted to smuggle him through a checkpoint in South Point. As a member of the agency's Special Response Team opened the rear hatch of an SUV the subject emerged from underneath a blanket an opened fire, wounding the officer. Other members of the SRT returned fire, killing the subject and wounding one of the other subjects. All of the subjects were taken into custody and held in connection with being accomplices.

Officer Kaliloa had served with the Hawaii County Police Department for 10 years. He is survived by his wife and three young children.
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. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

K9 Down

K9 Turbo
Columbia Police Department, South Carolina
End of Watch Saturday, July 28, 2018
Breed Labrador Retriever
Gender Male
Age 2
Tour 7 months
Cause Heat exhaustion
Incident Date Thursday, July 26, 2018

K9 Turbo died as the result of heat exhaustion while in his handler's department vehicle at C.A. Johnson High School.

Turbo had been left in the vehicle, which had its air conditioner on and its windows rolled down, while his handler was participating in active shooter training inside of the high school. When his handler returned at the end of the training Turbo was showing signs of heat exhaustion. He was taken to an animal hospital where he was treated for two days before veterinarians determined it was most humane to euthanize him.

Turbo had served as an explosives detection canine with the Columbia Police Department for seven months.
Rest in Peace Turbo…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

Monday, September 24, 2018

Officer Down

Special Agent Nole Edward Remagen
United States Department of Homeland Security - United States Secret Service, U.S. Government
End of Watch Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Age 42
Tour 19 years
Badge Not available
Military Veteran
Cause Duty related illness
Incident Date Sunday, July 15, 2018

Special Agent Nole Remagen suffered a fatal stroke on July 15th, 2018, while on an executive protection detail for the National Security Advisor during a presidential visit to the Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Other agents immediately began CPR after he collapsed. He was attended to by a White House doctor before being transported to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. He passed away on July 17th, 2018.

Agent Remagen was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He had served with the United States Secret Service for 19 years and was assigned to the Presidential Protection Division. He is survived by his wife and two children.
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. 

What's going on in the World Today 180924



U.S. Hypersonics Face Uphill Struggle To Match China, Russia

ORLANDO—While the U.S. may have woken to the emerging threat of Chinese and Russian hyper velocity weapons, the nation still faces an uphill battle for hypersonic supremacy, warns Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.

Citing technical hurdles, infrastructure neglect and the legacy of “taking a decade-long holiday from the exigencies of great power competition”, Griffin says the tally of critical challenges confronting U.S. hypersonic developers is “a surprisingly longer list than you might think.”

A staunch advocate of hypersonics, Griffin says the issues go well beyond the traditional technical challenges of aerodynamics and propulsion normally associated with high-speed flight. His broad line-up ranges from concerns over the robustness of the supply chain for key technologies like thermal protection systems (TPS) to the poor state of the underfunded U.S. national test infrastructure.

Having “ceded ground” to potential adversaries Griffin says the U.S. also “needs an overarching national strategy, which I cannot honestly say is in place yet. We need to know what the time phasing is, what we are going to deploy early, what we are going to be working on mid-term and to have in place by 2030...”




Japanese Rovers Touch Down on Asteroid Ryugu

Two Japanese mini-rovers touched down on the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu early Sept. 22 and are in motion and transmitting imagery, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirms.

The Hayabusa 2 mothership descended from its 20 km. reconnaissance orbit to release the Minerva lander capsule with the two rover/hoppers, Minerva 1a and 1b, on Sept. 21 at 12:06 a.m., EDT.

On Sept. 22, shortly after 8 a.m., EDT, JAXA broke the suspense over the rovers' fate via Twitter. "Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu,” the tweet said. “They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface."

The Japanese space agency also announced that the mothership, Hayabusa 2, had successfully returned to its 20 km high observation altitude...


Poland: Warsaw's Push for a U.S. Base Faces an Uphill Climb

U.S. President Donald Trump has confirmed that the White House is considering opening a permanent U.S. military base in Poland. Warsaw, which had requested the base, also sought to sweeten the pot: During his visit to the White House on Sept. 18, Polish President Andrzej Duda said his country would like to contribute up to $2 billion for its construction. The proposal is part of a Polish strategy to develop closer political, economic and military ties with the United States to head off potential Russian aggression. Poland's push happens at a bumpy time for its relations with the European Union as the European Commission and Warsaw wrangle over the question of the rule of law in the country. Warsaw, accordingly, wants to show it has friends in high places...








U.S.: Diplomat Floats the Idea of a Treaty With Iran

Speaking at New York's Hudson Institute think tank ahead of next week's key U.N. General Assembly meetings, Brian Hook, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, said Washington was seeking to negotiate a treaty with Tehran that would cover Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Is the U.S. Shifting Its Demands?

Hook's statement opens the possibility that the White House may be willing to alter its stance on what it demands from Iran. A narrow agreement over ballistic missiles and the nuclear program would mark a shift from the 12 conditions that the United States set out for Iran before removing the crippling economic sanctions that Washington reinstated after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is commonly known, in May. That list of conditions is tantamount to expecting a full change in Iran's regional behavior and is a non-starter as far as Tehran is concerned. If the United States is scaling back its demands to include only Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear program, then the prospect that Iran would return to the negotiating table becomes more realistic. Including the ballistic missile program would also address a key Republican criticism of the JCPOA...

Iran’s president blames US after attack on military parade

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president on Sunday accused an unnamed U.S.-allied country in the Persian Gulf of being behind a terror attack on a military parade that killed 25 people and wounded 60, further raising regional tensions.

Hassan Rouhani’s comments came as Iran’s Foreign Ministry also summoned Western diplomats over them allegedly providing havens for the Arab separatists who claimed Saturday’s attacks in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

The Iranian moves, as well as promises of revenge by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, come as the country already faces turmoil in the wake of the American withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The attack in Ahvaz, which saw women and children flee with uniformed soldiers bloodied, has further shaken the country.

Rouhani’s remarks could refer to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain — close U.S. military allies that view Iran as a regional menace over its support for militant groups across the Middle East.

“All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are backed by America. It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with necessary means to commit these crimes,” Rouhani said before leaving for the U.N. General Assembly in New York...






North Korea, South Korea: A New Joint Statement Signals Stronger Ties

For South Korea, good news came early out of President Moon Jae In's landmark visit to Pyongyang. On Sept. 18, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, along with their respective defense ministers, signed the September Pyongyang Joint Declaration.

The statement included two North Korean pledges related to denuclearization. The country pledged to permanently shut down the missile-engine testing facility and missile launchpad at Tongchang-ri with the presence of experts from "related countries." North Korea also said it would take further steps, including the permanent closure of the Yongbyon nuclear facility if the United States takes corresponding steps...

...Seoul is also hoping to break the impasse between Washington and Pyongyang over denuclearization. North Korea has been insisting on a phased approach and requiring progress toward a Korean War peace treaty before it moves forward with denuclearization. But the United States has been pushing for tangible concessions and disclosure of the full program upfront...”


Ukraine and Russia Take Their Conflict to the Sea


- As the standoff between Ukraine and Russia intensifies in eastern Ukraine, the Sea of Azov will become a new area of contention.

- Both Ukraine and Russia will increase their military presence in the sea, and Kiev has already announced plans for a new naval base there before the end of the year.

- The military buildup could lead to growing economic disruption of shipping in and out of the sea.
Russia is stronger than Ukraine on the sea, but robust U.S. support for Kiev could alter the situation in the area.

Technically, both Ukraine and Russia enjoy free use of the Sea of Azov under a 2003 agreement, but Moscow has subjected Ukrainian vessels to its own authorization procedures to traverse the strait since construction began on the bridge in April 2015. The Russian Transport Ministry has periodically closed access to all Ukrainian ships after a July 2017 order that enabled Russia to deny access to the Sea of Azov to any vessels except Russian warships during certain timespans. Russia duly shut off access during Aug. 27-29 and Oct. 11-13 last year. (Compounding Ukraine's problem is the design of the bridge, which is too low for Panamax vessels, which accounted for about 23 percent of all ship traffic in the area in 2016, to pass through.)

As a result, cargo flows from Mariupol have dropped 27 percent, from more than 8.9 million tons in 2015 to 6.5 million tons in 2017; from Berdyansk, they have fallen 47 percent, from 4.5 million tons in 2015 to just 2.4 million tons in 2017. Before the Ukraine conflict, freight traffic was much higher, with 15 million tons of cargo passing through Mariupol in 2013 alone...


Russia to upgrade Syrian air defences

The Il-20 aircraft was returning to a Russian base on the north-western coast of Syria (file photo)
Russia is to send new anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, a week after Syrian forces accidentally shot down a Russian aircraft during an Israeli air strike.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system would be delivered within two weeks.

Fifteen Russian military personnel were killed when the reconnaissance aeroplane was downed on 17 September.

Syria and Russia say Israel was to blame, but it denies responsibility.

In remarks quoted by Russian news agency Interfax, Mr Shoigu said the delivery of the system had been suspended in 2013 following a request from Israel, but added: "Now, the situation has changed. And it's not our fault."

Russian plane downed in Syria: What may happen next?

Why is there a war in Syria?

"In parts of the Mediterranean adjacent to Syria, there will be radio-electronic jamming of satellite navigation, onboard radars and communications systems used by military aircraft attacking targets in Syrian territory," he said.

The systems will also be able to track and identify Russian aircraft.

Russia is supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war.

What happened last week?

The incident is reported to have occurred about 35km (22 miles) from the Syrian coast as the Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft was returning to Russia's Hmeimim airbase near the north-western city of Latakia.

Russia's Tass news agency said at the time that the plane "disappeared during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets on Syrian facilities in Latakia province"...


Trump Has a New Weapon to Cause ‘the Cyber’ Mayhem

The U.S. president and his advisor John Bolton want to take the gloves off in cyberspace—but experts worry offensive attacks could backfire.

The White House took a first step this week to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to launch “crippling, crippling” cyberattacks on adversaries to protect U.S. computer systems, unveiling a new strategy that will allow the United States to take the offensive in cyberspace. But experts warn that the new cyber strategy risks exposing the United States to blowback and turning the internet into a Wild West of hacking operations.

In rolling out the administration’s new “National Cyber Strategy,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said that Trump had removed restrictions on the use of offensive cyber-operations and replaced them with a more permissive legal regime that gives the Defense Department and other agencies greater authority to penetrate foreign networks to deter hacks on U.S. systems.

“Our hands are not tied as they were in the Obama administration,” Bolton said.

Bolton described the new authority as part of an effort to “create powerful deterrence structures that persuade the adversary not to strike in the first place.” Decision-making for launching some attacks will be moved down the chain of command; previously, offensive cyber-operations generally required the approval of the president. Those envisioned in the new policy will include both offensive and defensive actions, only some of which may be made public, Bolton said..




Space: The Final Frontier for War?

The U.S. military will continue to debate the relative merits of creating a Space Force that is separate from the other branches of the U.S. armed forces.

In the absence of international standards regulating conduct in space, the risks will grow that the United States, China and Russia will accelerate their own efforts to militarize the theater.

Treaties stipulating a blanket ban on weapons in space are unlikely to succeed in the foreseeable future because of their significant limitations and concerns over the ability to verify compliance.

"Space is a war-fighting domain." It's a mantra that U.S. officials have been stating ever since the Chinese blew up their own weather satellite during an anti-satellite missile test in 2007. Eleven years on, it's a phrase that U.S. President Donald Trump repeated in March in making the case for the creation of a Space Force. Although there is a growing awareness of the militarization of space — and that the area around Earth is indeed a potential theater of war — the Space Force debate remains a predominantly bureaucratic and organizational one. But while enhanced defense in space is important, it alone will not solve the root danger of the growing risk of an extraterrestrial war among terrestrial powers..

Build Small Nuclear Reactors for Battlefield Power

There’s not much the U.S. military does that’s more dangerous than trucking fuel through a war zone. In 2009, the Army found that one soldier died for every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan. So if a better way could be found to generate electricity at remote bases — that’s what most of the fuel is used for — it could greatly reduce the risks to our military.

A solution could be a new micro-nuclear reactor being developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Westinghouse power company. Built around heat-pipe technology, this inherently safe microreactor has no cooling water or pumps that can fail, uses passive regulation systems so that it cannot melt down, and can generate at least 1 megawatt of safe, reliable power for 10 years or more. A megawatt is enough electricity for roughly a military brigade, some 1,500 to 4,000 soldiers.

Most importantly, it’s small. The reactor core itself is about the size of the garbage can that you roll down to your curb each week. The entire microreactor system will fit on the back of a semi-truck or on a small ship. It’s small enough to bring to remote areas and islands, greatly reducing the need to send fuel convoys and troops into harm’s way...

U.S. Air Force Prepares For Future Of GPS III

GPS, the military satellite system that underlies $74 billion in business from banking to agriculture to taxi services is so easy to take for granted that it is viewed as a public utility.

“We consider to have GPS on our phones [and] our watches like turning on a light switch or a faucet and getting electricity or water,” says NASA’s Tim Dunn, a launch director at Kennedy Space Center. “It’s always there—it should be there.”

In order for that type of reliability to be maintained, 24 of the 31 satellites—four slots in six orbital planes—must be operational at any given time.

The second GPS III satellite is in storage, ready for launch

The Air Force has yet to award a contract for GPS III

The U.S. Air Force is poised to begin launching the first of 10 Lockheed Martin-made GPS spacecraft. After more than a year in storage, the first new GPS III satellite is scheduled to launch Dec. 15 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral AFS in Florida. It arrived there last month, a decade after Lockheed Martin won an initial contract to develop and build two satellites for $1.5 billion. The Air Force is currently checking out the satellite to make sure it is fully operational before launch.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Officer Down

Sergeant Michael C. Chesna
Weymouth Police Department, Massachusetts
End of Watch: Sunday, July 15, 2018
Age: 42
Tour: 6 years
Badge: 117
Military Veteran

Sergeant Chesna was shot and killed with his own service weapon after responding to reports of an erratic driver on Burton Terrace, behind South Shore Hospital, shortly after 7:30 am.

When he arrived at the scene he discovered that the vehicle had crashed and he found the driver vandalizing a home nearby. The man attacked Sergeant Chesna, striking him in the head with a large rock. The subject then disarmed him, shot him in the head and chest, and fled the scene.

The man fatally shot a woman in her home before being wounded by other responding officers and taken into custody. He was charged with two counts of homicide.

Sergeant Chesna was a U.S Army veteran and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He had served with the Weymouth Police Department for six years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Sergeant Chesna was posthumously promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This shows you socialism...

Venezuela was the richest country in South America. It still has the largest proven reserves of oil in the world, at 298 million barrels. Coming in at second is Saudi Arabia, at 268 million barrels. It has multiple natural ports, a large amount of arable land and again, it was a very rich country. Until socialism took another nation hostage and did the best:
North Dakota Is Now Pumping as Much Crude as Venezuela
North Dakota’s oil production surged to a new record in July, putting the mid-western state on par with OPEC member Venezuela.

Home to the Bakken shale play, North Dakota pumped 1.27 million barrels a day in July, according to state figures released Friday. That’s roughly the same output as Venezuela during the month. The South American nation, whose oil industry has collapsed amid a prolonged financial crisis, saw production fall further in August to 1.24 million barrels a day -- about half the level seen in early 2016,s according to data from OPEC secondary sources.

Soaring output from shale formations, including the Bakken, helped the U.S. overtake Russia and Saudi Arabia to likely become the world’s biggest oil producer earlier this year, according to preliminary estimates from the Energy Information Administration. At the same time, Venezuela’s output is expected to tumble even lower, to 1 million barrels a day by the end of the year, according to the International Energy Agency.

One state of this nation is now producing more oil than the nation with the largest oil reserves on Earth. I discussed how the Bakken ranges were going hog wild in the early 2010s, and after a few slow years, is going full speed right now. And it’s not like they will run out anytime soon:
“…In 1954, Shell found oil in South Dakota's Harding County. By then, though, the momentum had moved north to the proven reserves in North Dakota, which is home to the Bakken formation. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Bakken contains more than 3 billion barrels of recoverable oil….”
So another formly prosperous nation is starving thanks to socialsm. Well, not everyone is starving

President Nicolás Maduro was seen dining with his wife on Monday at an Istanbul branch of Nusr Et, the international chain of restaurants owned by the Turkish chef Nusret Gokce, also known as "Salt Bae."

Maduro was in Istanbul for a stop-off on his way from China, where he went to ask for more loans for his economically stricken country.

Recent polls of Venezuelans show that many struggle to afford food, and the country often sees mass protests because of the economic hardship. The government has advised Venezuelans to breed rabbits for food as a way to beat their hunger...With oil at a five year high, Venezuela cannot feed itself. Well, some get fed. As my friend Darren at RotLC said, "In free countries, the rich become powerful. In socialist  countries, the powerful become rich."

As Orwell said, “Some pigs are more equal than others.”

Monday, September 17, 2018

Officer Down

Police Officer Jarrod Kyle Friddle
Cumby Police Department, Texas
End of Watch Monday, July 9, 2018
Age 40
Tour 5 years
Badge 104

Police Officer Jarrod Friddle suffered a fatal heart attack following canine training in a bite suit.

Once the training finished, Officer Friddle returned home where he collapsed.

Officer Friddle is survived by his wife, five children, and his mother.
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. 

A look at Cyber War tactics...

I’ve read many articles on cyber warfare, and a good hunk of my master’s degree was the cyber threat of China. I disagree with the concept of a Geneva Convention for cyber warfare, if only for the fact many of the combatants are not necessarily nation states, but individuals and groups, businesses, and organized crime. Brings back a great memory from the movie Red Dawn (The real movie, not that POS from 2012), as the group is about to execute a Soviet soldier and a traitor:

Stepan Gorsky: This violates the Geneva convention.

Jed Eckert: I never heard of it!

But knowing there is a growing threat against us from cyber attack, the issues raised are very legitimate, From this month’s Foreign Policy Magazine.
In Cyberwar, There are No Rules
Why the world desperately needs digital Geneva Conventions.

Tarah Wheeler September 12, 2018

In 1984, a science fiction movie starring an up-and-coming Austrian-American actor took the box office by storm. A cybernetic organism is sent back in time to seek out and kill the mother of a great war hero to prevent his subsequent birth. The cyborg scans a phone book page and begins methodically killing all women named Sarah Connor in the Los Angeles area, starting at the top of the list.

If The Terminator were set in today’s world, the movie would have ended after four and a half minutes. The correct Sarah Connor would have been identified with nothing but a last name and a zip code—information leaked last year in the massive Equifax data breach. The war against the machines would have been over before it started, and no one would have ever noticed. The most frightening thing about cyberwarfare is just how specifically targeted it can be: An enemy can leap national boundaries to strike at a single person, a class of people, or a geographic area.

Nor would a cyborg be necessary today. According to U.S. census data, there are currently 87 people in the United States named Sarah Connor. Many of them probably drive cellular-enabled cars that run outdated firmware, use public unencrypted Wi-Fi, and visit doctors who keep unsecured health care records about patient allergies and current medications on computers running the infamously outdated and vulnerable Windows XP operating system.

So far, the U.S. government has fumbled on cybersecurity, outsourcing much of that area of conflict to the private sector in accordance with the Trump administration’s most recent National Security Strategy—leaving the country exposed to foreign attack.

These days, warfare is conducted on land, by sea, in the air, across space, and now in the fifth battleground: cyberspace. Yet so far, the U.S. government has fumbled on cybersecurity, outsourcing much of that area of conflict to the private sector in accordance with the Trump administration’s most recent National Security Strategy—leaving the country exposed to foreign attack.

Those third parties operate under exactly the same incentives as any pharmaceutical company. If a company’s service is the treatment of symptoms, preventive medicine is a threat to its business model. Meanwhile, pundits, policymakers, and publishers take as gospel what they’re told by so-called cybersecurity experts who have more social media followers than relevant credentials in the field, which is how hysterical “The Hackers Are Coming for Us” editorials find their way into otherwise respectable publications.

Increased fear, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding cybersecurity have led to a world where we cannot tell what has and hasn’t happened. The nature of cyberwarfare is that it is asymmetric. Single combatants can find and exploit small holes in the massive defenses of countries and country-sized companies. It won’t be cutting-edge cyberattacks that cause the much-feared cyber-Pearl Harbor in the United States or elsewhere. Instead, it will likely be mundane strikes against industrial control systems, transportation networks, and health care providers—because their infrastructure is out of date, poorly maintained, ill-understood, and often unpatchable. Worse will be the invisible manipulation of public opinion and election outcomes using digital tools such as targeted advertising and deep fakes—recordings and videos that can realistically be made via artificial intelligence to sound like any world leader.

The great challenge for military and cybersecurity professionals is that incoming attacks are not predictable, and current strategies for prevention tend to share the flawed assumption that the rules of conventional war extend to cyberspace as well. Cyberwarfare does have rules, but they’re not the ones we’re used to—and a sense of fair play isn’t one of them. Moreover, these rules are not intuitive to generals versed in fighting conventional wars.

That’s a problem because cyberwar won’t be waged with the informed participation of much of the U.S. technology sector, as the recent revolts at Google over AI contracts with the U.S. Defense Department and at Microsoft over office software contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement demonstrate. That leaves only governments and properly incentivized multinational corporations to set the rules. Neither has yet provided a workable and operational definition of what constitutes a globally recognized act of war—a vital first step in seeking to prevent such transgressions.

The closest that the U.S. military has come to such a definition is to say that “acts of significant consequence” would be examined on a case-by-case basis and could require congressional evaluation. But given how quickly a cyberattack could disable critical infrastructure, expecting Congress to react in time to answer effectively is unrealistic.

In a world where partisan politics have been weaponized, a smart misinformation campaign by a foreign state that targeted only one political party might even be welcomed by other parties so long as there was plausible deniability—and with cyberattacks, attribution is rarely certain.

There is also a serious risk of collateral damage in cyberoperations. Most militaries understand that they are responsible not only for targeting strikes so that they hit valid targets but also for civilian casualties caused by their actions. Though significant collateral damage assessment occurs prior to the United States authorizing cyberoperations, there is no international agreement requiring other powers to take the same care.

A major cyberattack against the United States in 2014 was a clear example of how civilians can bear the brunt of such operations. Almost all cybersecurity experts and the FBI believe that the Sony Pictures hack that year originated in North Korea. A hostile country hit a U.S. civilian target with the intention of destabilizing a major corporation, and it succeeded. Sony’s estimated cleanup costs were more than $100 million. The conventional warfare equivalent might look like the physical destruction of a Texas oil field or an Appalachian coal mine. If such a valuable civilian resource had been intentionally destroyed by a foreign adversary, it would be considered an act of war.

In the near future, attacks like the Sony hack will not be exceptional. There are countless vulnerabilities that could result in mass casualties, and there are no agreed norms or rules to define or punish such crimes. Consider the following examples.

The United States Is Not Ready for a Cyber-Pearl Harbor

The weekend’s massive “ransomware” attack exposed the glaring vulnerabilities in our cybersecurity readiness.

Once a week, a European aircraft manufacturer cleans all plane cockpits of Android malware. Pilots can pass malware to the plane from their smartphones when they plug them in, which the plane (while theoretically unaffected by phone-only malware) then passes it on to the next pilot with a smartphone. Planes are already covered in viruses, both virtual and microbial. In such a vulnerable environment, even an unsophisticated hack could wreak havoc. A text message sent to the phone of every in-air pilot giving them a national security warning or rerouting their planes could lead to emergency landings and widespread confusion, with more sophisticated attacks potentially leading to far more serious consequences.

Aviation is not the only vulnerable sector. The U.S. health care system is full of medical devices running ancient firmware or operating systems that simply cannot be patched or hardened against commonly known network intrusions. Small hospitals often cannot afford to replace their medical equipment on a regular schedule, and device providers may deprioritize or block security patches or upgrades in order to sell updated devices in the next round of production.

That’s a problem in an era when many surgical procedures are assisted by robots, which hospitals struggle to keep secure. The medical device industry focuses more on performance and patient health outcomes than on keeping a cyberadversary at bay. A cyberattack on hospitals using robotic surgical devices could cause them to malfunction while in use, resulting in fatal injuries. If a country or terrorist group decided to take out a sitting U.S. senator undergoing robotically assisted surgery and then covered its tracks, the perpetrator’s identity would be hard to pinpoint, and there would be no clear U.S. legal precedent for classifying the hacking of hospital equipment as an assassination or an act of war. Nor do there appear to be clear protocols for retaliation.

There are less direct potential vectors of attack, too. Recently, a cold storage facility for embryos in Cleveland failed to notice that a remotely accessible alarm on its holding tanks had been turned off, leading to the loss of more than 4,000 frozen eggs and embryos. Many operators of industrial control systems never bother to change all their default passwords or security credentials, which can leave them vulnerable to ransomware attacks, and even fewer health care officials are likely to assume that someone might deliberately shut off sensors that monitor the viability of future human life. It is difficult to determine whether the Cleveland eggs and embryos were lost due to a simple maintenance failure or deliberate tampering—but as techniques such as the freezing of eggs become more common in wealthy nations, such a simple attack could wipe out thousands of future citizens...

...Cyberattacks—some egregious, some mundane—are happening now, quietly and unnoticed by the public. Much of the confusion and fear over cybersecurity comes from the distorted publicity surrounding a few outlying events. While cybersecurity experts can’t have perfect certainty over attribution or even the existence of some attacks, we can understand the larger security landscape, in which cybersecurity is merely a banal and predictable component of national infrastructure. The risk of cyberattacks is knowable, probabilistically.

Technology and cyberspace are changing faster than countries can legislate internally and negotiate externally. Part of the problem with defining and evaluating acts of cyberwarfare against the United States is that U.S. law is unclear and unsettled when it comes to defining what constitutes an illegal cyberact as opposed to normal computer activity by information security researchers.

The legal status of most information security research in the United States therefore remains unclear, as it is governed by the poorly drafted and arbitrarily enforced 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—a piece of legislation that was roundly derided by tech experts on its inception and has only grown more unpopular since. The law creates unnecessary fear that simple and useful information security research methods could be maliciously prosecuted.

These methods include network scanning using tools such as Nmap (a computer network discovery and mapping tool) or Shodan (a search engine for devices on the internet of things) to find unsecured points of access to systems. Such scanning does not constitute the exploitation of computer or network vulnerabilities; a real-world equivalent would be walking down a street and noting broken windows, open doors, and missing fence planks without actually trespassing on someone else’s property. One of the fastest fixes for the dismal state of federal cybersecurity expertise would be to overturn the CFAA and reward cybersecurity researchers engaged in preventive research instead of tying their hands with fears of breaking the law. Yet at present the U.S. government ham-handedly discourages many information security researchers from entering what should be a noble service.

This dynamic has left the U.S. government with critical shortfalls in top-level information security experts. The United States simply lacks a viable legislative plan for hardening its infrastructure against cyberattacks and developing much-needed cybertalent. Any strong defense against cyberattacks should follow the same principles used for basic U.S. infrastructure design: strategists plan, technicians execute, and experts examine. For example, the interstate highway system in the United States, authorized in 1956 to enable rapid military transport of troops and supplies, also had much broader civilian benefits...

...Cybersecurity should be akin to a routine vaccine, a line item in the infrastructure budget like highway maintenance. Basic cybersecurity measures—such as upgrades to encryption, testing the capability of recovery in the event of data loss, and routine audits for appropriate user access—should be built into every organizational budget. When incidents happen—and they will happen as surely as bridges collapse—they should be examined by competent auditors and incident responders with regulatory authority, just as major incidents involving airlines are handled by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

At present, however, the United States lacks an NTSB for cybersecurity. Due to the government’s lack of expertise, it is overly reliant on large companies such as EY, PwC, and Deloitte to handle this work. If the U.S. government isn’t capable of running a post-mortem on major cyberevents, citizens should be asking why—instead of letting lawmakers hand the work to contractors. Responding to major cyberattacks requires battalions of highly trained government analysts, not armies of accountants and attorneys...

Tarah Wheeler is an information security researcher and political scientist. She is a
New America cybersecurity policy fellow and senior director of data trust and threat and vulnerability management at Splunk. @tarah
Don't agree with all the points, but a very thought provoking article and it's worth the full read.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

What's going on in the World Today 180915




U.S. confirms deployment of armed drones in Niger

DAKAR (Reuters) - U.S. forces started deploying armed drones in the west African country of Niger earlier this year to attack Islamist militants, the U.S. military said on Monday.

Niger’s government granted American forces permission last November to arm their drones but neither side had previously confirmed their deployment. Before that, U.S. drones had only been used for surveillance.

The U.S. military presence in Niger has expanded in recent years to an 800-strong force that accompanies Nigerien troops on intelligence gathering and other missions, reflecting U.S. concerns about rising militancy in West Africa’s Sahel region.


India, U.S.: The Two Countries Make Progress on Military Cooperation

The Indian Express reported July 26 that the Indian government has decided to sign the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) agreement with the United States. (Stratfor)

The Big Picture

In geopolitical terms, the status of the U.S.-India relationship is of critical importance because it intersects with the great power competition emerging between the United States, China and Russia. Washington wants an improved relationship with New Delhi, primarily because it will help balance against Beijing and Moscow. Right now, India is Russia's most important arms customer, and New Delhi also fosters a significant economic relationship with Beijing.

What Happened

The Indian Express reported July 26 that the government in New Delhi has agreed to sign the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the United States. India reportedly asked the U.S. government to send the final text of the agreement to New Delhi so that preparations can be made to sign it during an upcoming September 6 meeting. The "2+2" meeting will occur between Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and their U.S. counterparts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis...


Sweden to sign $1 billion Patriot missile deal this week: report

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden will sign a contract to buy the Patriot air defense missile system from U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon Co this week, Swedish radio reported on Wednesday.

Although it is not a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member, Sweden has close ties to the alliance and has been beefing up its armed forces after decades of neglect amid increased anxiety over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Crimea.

Sweden, whose existing air defense system cannot shoot down ballistic missiles, will buy four Patriot firing units and an undisclosed number of missiles, Swedish radio said.


Why Chile Is Chasing Tech Over Copper


-Chile will seek to diversify its economy away from a dependence on copper by becoming a technology hub in South America.

-Chile’s new visa system for technology workers and entrepreneurs will make the country more attractive to tech giants like Amazon, which are seeking to make large-scale investments.
-Large technology investments require massive upgrades to Chile’s power grid, but the country is likely to succeed in making such improvements in concert with other South American countries.

Copper is big business in Chile, which exports more of the metal than any other country in the world. The commodity's importance to Chile is unlikely to change anytime soon, but if Santiago has its way, something else will soon help propel the nation forward: technology. Chile's dependence on the mining sector, especially copper, has convinced the government to push forward with plans to transform the country into a tech hub in South America. And although two issues — education and electricity — stand in the way of Chile's tech dreams, even they are unlikely to obstruct the country's plans for long...






Iran MPs vote to remove economy minister amid financial crisis

Iran's parliament has voted to remove the economy minister from office as the country battles an economic crisis.

Masoud Karbasian was targeted by a no-confidence vote over problems in the banking system, tax regulation and his failure to fix the economy.

The move comes three weeks after Labour Minister Ali Rabiei was ousted in a similar process.

President Hassan Rouhani's government has struggled to control rising prices and the falling value of the currency.

The re-imposition of sanctions by the US after its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal has exacerbated the crisis.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the US of launching a "psychological war against Iran and its business partners", Tasnim news agency reported.




Fuel and Gas Shipments to Gaza Strip Halted

What Happened: Israel will stop shipments of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip in response to continued attacks using airborne incendiary devices, Reuters reported Aug. 1.

Why It Matters: Israel's southern front has the potential to slide into a major war, despite attempts to avoid such an outcome.

Background: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Aug. 2 that he would cancel a planned trip to Colombia, citing the situation in the south.


Seoul Success

These young North Korean escapees are thriving in the South.

SEOUL — When waves of North Koreans began arriving in the South during a devastating famine 20 years ago, many encountered a world that might as well have been on another planet.

They had to learn to use credit cards and smartphones, to withstand the noise and the bustle and the neon lights, to hold down jobs that actually required them to show up. They had to cope with disparaging remarks or insistent queries when South Koreans heard their accents or marveled if they couldn’t use a computer.

But many of the young men and women coming out of the North today? They’re thriving.

Entrepreneurial spirit, artistic expression and a will to compete are blossoming as they move abruptly from a country dedicated to a brutally enforced totalitarian personality cult to the tumult of South Korean capitalism.

And even as they lose their northern accents and embrace southern fashions, they don’t hide their roots.

“I’m proud of the fact that I’m North Korean. It’s a big part of my identity,” said Park Su-hyang, a 27-year-old who helped found Woorion, a network that helps escapees settle in the South, one of a crop of video bloggers trying to change stereotypes.

“We often think of refugees as victims, and North Koreans, as they adjust to a very different society in South Korea, inevitably do face challenges,” said Sokeel Park, South Korea country director for Liberty in North Korea, an organization that helps escapees from the North. “But in my work with hundreds of North Koreans who have settled here, I’ve been very impressed not just with their resilience but also with their creativity and ambition and their spirit for really making the most of their lives.”

These young and determined people, activists say, will be the ones who bridge the gap between the two Koreas if the countries are reunified. They are the test lab for reunification.

Here are the stories of five young people who made the perilous escape from North Korea and have found their feet in South Korea. Their remarks have been edited for clarity...

South Korea launches its first missile-capable submarine

South Korea launched its first ever missile-capable attack submarine on Friday, despite a recent diplomatic thaw with the nuclear-armed North.

The US$700 million, 3,000-tonne Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine is capable of firing both cruise and ballistic missiles and the first of three planned diesel-electric boats to go into service in the next five years.

It represents a “leap forward” in the country’s defence industry, President Moon Jae-in told a launch ceremony at the Daewoo shipyard where it was designed and built...

“We have set off on a grand journey towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” Moon said. “But peace is not given gratuitously. Peace through power is the unwavering security strategy of this government.”

The new submarine is fitted with six vertical launch tubes and features indigenous sonar and combat management systems.

The 3,000-tonne diesel-electric submarine Dosan Ahn Chang-ho at its launching ceremony on the southern island of Geoje on September 14, 2018. Photo: AFP

Aside from the new vessels, South Korea has an existing fleet of 18 smaller submarines, all built with cooperation from Germany.

According to the defence ministry, the North has 70 ageing submarines and submersibles, and Yonhap news agency reported that it has also developed a new 2,500-tonne submarine fitted with a vertical launch system...


Skripal suspects: 'We were just tourists in Salisbury'

"Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town"
Two men named as suspects in the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in the UK have said they were merely tourists.

The men, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told the state-run RT channel they had travelled to Salisbury on the recommendation of friends.

The UK believes the men are Russian military intelligence officers who tried to kill Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last March.

Downing Street dismissed the interview.

"The lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian state-sponsored TV station are an insult to the public's intelligence," Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said.

On Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin said "there is nothing criminal about them" and called them "civilians".

The Skripals survived being poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok, but Dawn Sturgess - a woman not connected to the Russian events - died in July having been exposed to the same substance.

What do the two Russians say?

Appearing nervous and uncomfortable, the men confirmed their names as those announced by the UK investigators - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. "Those are our real names," they said.

RT is Russia's state-run international broadcaster, and the pair were interviewed by its chief editor, Margarita Simonyan. "Their passports match and the photos and the information from the British side shows it's these people," she said.

The men said they worked in the sports nutrition business and had travelled to London for a short holiday, fitting in a couple of day trips to Salisbury.

The British authorities released photos of the two men they suspected of carrying out the poisoning
"Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town," Mr Petrov said...


Syria: For Israel, an Iranian Withdrawal From the Border Doesn't Go Far Enough

The Big Picture

Russian and Iranian support for Syrian government forces has been vital to their success in the country's civil war, giving both countries substantial influence in Damascus. The continuing presence of Iranian forces inside its neighbor, however, has put Israel on edge, prompting it to ask Russia to intervene. Although Russia's pull with the Syrian government is considerable, it is not enough to persuade Damascus to evict a valuable ally.

The Latest Development

Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian special envoy to Syria, indicated Aug. 1 that the Iranian forces who had helped the Syrian government overcome pockets of rebel and Islamic State resistance near the Israeli border would be moving their heavy weapons at least 85 kilometers (52.8 miles) from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. But the announcement did little to mollify Israel, which has called the buffer zone insufficient and continues to push Russia to pressure Iran into leaving Syria altogether...

Yemen: Houthis Offer to Back Off Red Sea Attacks

What Happened

A Houthi official announced on July 31 that the group is willing to temporarily stop its attacks on Red Sea ships if the coalition led by Saudi Arabia halts its strikes on the rebels. Mohamed al-Houthi, head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said, "The unilateral halt in naval military operations will be for a limited time period and could be extended and include all fronts if this move is reciprocated by the leadership of the coalition." The Saudi Cabinet reiterated its claim Tuesday that the Houthi threat to tankers endangers world trade..

Yemen: US allies spin deals with al-Qaida in war on rebels

ATAQ, Yemen (AP) — Again and again over the past two years, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has claimed it won decisive victories that drove al-Qaida militants from their strongholds across Yemen and shattered their ability to attack the West.

Here’s what the victors did not disclose: many of their conquests came without firing a shot.

That’s because the coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.

These compromises and alliances have allowed al-Qaida militants to survive to fight another day — and risk strengthening the most dangerous branch of the terror network that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Key participants in the pacts said the U.S. was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes...

Iran says ‘no third party’ will limit its support to Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Iran’s defense minister said Sunday his country will continue its support of the Syrian government to ensure improved security in the region, adding that the nature of the two countries’ cooperation won’t be decided by a “third party.”

Israel has expressed concern over Iran’s growing influence in Syria, accusing Iran of seeking to establish a foothold near the frontier with the Jewish state. The United States has been pressing for Iran to withdraw its fighters from Syria. In recent meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said he and Russian officials are discussing the issue, without providing details, calling it a U.S priority.

Iran says its presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Syrian government. “No third party can affect the presence of Iranian advisers in Syria,” Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami told reporters in Damascus.

His comments came at the start of a two-day visit to Syria, where he met with the Syrian President Bashar Assad and other senior officials. The high-level military delegation headed by Hatami is expected to boost cooperation between the two countries, and Iranian media reported that the two are expected to sign new military and defense agreements.

Iran has provided key support to Assad in the seven-year civil war, sending thousands of military advisers and allied militiamen to bolster his forces.

Hatami said he hopes Iran can play a “productive role” in Syria’s reconstruction, according to Iran’s Press TV...

GM bringing in pro hackers to find bugs in car computers

Highly computerized cars could mean consumers’ data is vulnerable or the driver’s safety might be endangered if car companies aren’t prepared to cut off any data breach or threat to cybersecurity at the pass.

General Motors is taking no chances. It’s bringing in those exact people who might do the infiltration to help thwart it.

n the upcoming weeks, GM will bring researchers, some of whom are professional computer hackers, to Detroit to offer them a bounty or cash payment for each “bug” they uncover in any of GM vehicles’ computer systems.

“We’ll show them the products, programs and systems for which we plan to establish these bug bounties. Then we’ll put them in a comfortable environment, ply them with pizza and Red Bull or whatever they might need and turn them loose,” GM President Dan Ammann said in a speech at the Billington CyberSecurity Summit at Cobo Center in Detroi....

AI and the Return of Great Power Competition

For better or worse, the advancement and diffusion of artificial intelligence technology will come to define this century. Whether that statement should fill your soul with terror or delight remains a matter of intense debate. Techno-idealists and doomsdayers will paint their respective utopian and dystopian visions of machine-kind, making the leap from what we know now as "narrow AI" to "general AI" to surpass human cognition within our lifetime. On the opposite end of the spectrum, yawning skeptics will point to Siri's slow intellect and the human instinct of Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger – the pilot of the US Airways flight that successfully landed on the Hudson River in 2009 – to wave off AI chatter as a heap of hype not worth losing sleep over...

China, U.S.: Censored Version of Google May Launch in China

What Happened: Google is planning to launch a version of its search engine in China that would censor certain websites and search terms, The Intercept reported Aug. 1.

Why It Matters: Like other U.S. tech companies, Google is willing to compromise to enter the lucrative Chinese market.

Background: China has long blocked services from U.S. tech companies such as Google's search engine and YouTube, though Google announced in December that it planned to open an artificial intelligence research center in China.


Tajikistan: Why Blame for a Terrorist Attack on Tourists Matters

The deaths of four foreign tourists in a terrorist attack could have longer-term implications for Tajikistan's economy.(Stratfor

What Happened

On July 29, four tourists on a bicycle tour of Tajikistan — two from the United States, one from the Netherlands and one from Switzerland — were killed in an attack in the Danghara district southeast of Dushanbe. Militants drove a vehicle through their cycling group, then stabbed the victims. The next day, the Islamic State claimed it had inspired the attack, but the Tajik government instead has pinned responsibility on the political opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT).T...


What Explains the Ups and Downs of Resource Nationalism?


-Through resource nationalism — an attempt by a state to assert greater control over natural resources in its territory through mandates on global extractive industries — host countries seek to create value-added products and services and supply chains or capture assets.

-Over many decades, the balance of power has slowly shifted in the direction of host states as compared to global corporations.
In the short- to medium-term, however, the strength of resource nationalism is likely to ebb and flow with global market cycles and local political cycles.

-Global geopolitical shifts are another conditioning factor, and China's rise has especially stoked worries in several countries about a loss of sovereignty.
-News that the Indonesian government has taken a majority stake in U.S.-based Freeport-McMoRan's giant Grasberg copper mine after a hard-fought dispute is just the latest sign of growing pressures exerted by host states on global extractive industry corporations.

The mining industry has cried foul over such actions, with the CEO of mining giant Rio Tinto warning in May that resource nationalism was "gaining momentum," threatening investment in the lucrative sector. But what exactly drives resource nationalism and what explains its ups and downs? As it turns out, the conventional explanation — market cycles — does not account for much of what leads states around the globe to strive for greater control over their natural resources...

FAA Mulls Recommendations For Planned GPS Interference

The FAA says it is studying the recommendations a special committee issued earlier this year to better notify aircraft operators of planned GPS signal interference events caused by Defense Department testing.

Loss or degradation of GPS signal reception because of interference could affect pilots’ use of GPS-based required navigation performance (RNP) procedures, disable terrain awareness and warning systems and degrade pitch and roll accuracy of GPS-aided attitude and heading reference systems, among other issues, a Tactical Operations Committee (TOC) of FAA and industry experts advised in a March report.

Loss of GPS in an aircraft equipped to report its position by automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) “Out,” a capability the FAA requires by 2020, causes that aircraft to be lost as a target for onboard ADS-B “In” systems, affects aircraft depending on satellite-based augmentation systems for precision approaches and presents a problem for the FAA’s strategy to decommission some secondary surveillance radars (SSR) as ADS-B becomes its primary means of surveillance. The FAA is considering decommissioning 80% of terminal radars as ADS-B equipage by aircraft operators increases, the TOC says...