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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Officer Down

Police Officer Hunter Edwards
Winchester Police Department, Virginia
End of Watch Saturday, November 24, 2018
Age 30
Tour 4 years
Badge 35

Police Officer Hunter Edwards was killed in a single-vehicle crash on West Jubal Early Drive while responding to a fight call at approximately 10:50 pm.

He was responding to the call several blocks away on South Loudoun Street when the crash occurred. He was transported to Winchester Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Officer Edwards had served with the Winchester Police Department for four years and was assigned to the Patrol Division, SWAT team, and Civil Disturbance Unit. He is survived by his wife and stepson.
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, February 26, 2019

K9 Down

K9 Cade
Hendricks County Sheriff's Office, Indiana
End of Watch Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Breed Belgian Malinois
Gender Male
Age 5
Tour 3 years, 6 months
Cause Duty related illness
Incident Date Tuesday, July 3, 2018

K9 Cade died after suffering a medical emergency while tracking a suspect in the area of Ronald Reagan Parkway and County Road 300 North in Brownsburg, Indiana.

Other units had attempted to stop a vehicle, which fled and led them on a pursuit. The subject drove to a woodline and then fled on foot into the woods. Officers set up a perimeter and K9 Cade was deployed to track and apprehend the subject.

K9 Cade began showing symptoms of distress and was immediately transported to a local veterinarian. He succumbed the following day.

K9 Cade had served with Hendricks County Sheriff's Office for 3-1/2 years.
Rest in Peace Cade …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, February 25, 2019

Officer Down

Police Officer David Romrell
South Salt Lake Police Department, Utah
End of Watch Saturday, November 24, 2018
Age 31
Tour 11 months
Badge 6L50
Cause Vehicular assault
Weapon Automobile
Offender Shot and killed

Police Officer David Romrell was intentionally struck by a vehicle fleeing from a burglary in progress at a business at 3575 South West Temple shortly before 10:00 pm.

He and other responding officers arrived at the scene as the suspects attempted to leave in a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle accelerated toward the officers and struck Officer Romrell. Other officers fired a the driver, killing him.

The passenger fled on foot but was apprehended by a canine unit a short time later.

Officer Romrell was transported to Intermountain Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries while in emergency surgery.

Officer Romrell was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the South Salt Lake Police Department for 11 months. He is survived by his wife and 4-month-old child.
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 190225



Meet ‘Charming Kitten,’ the Iranian Hackers Linked to Air Force Defector

Monica Witt fled to Iran and was indicted for espionage—alongside an Iranian hacking luminary.

Maverick, an American shorthair, keeps his claw on the mouse as he uses a computer at a press preview for the Cat Fanciers’ Association show at Madison Square Garden in New York on Oct. 10, 2007. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

When U.S. prosecutors unsealed an indictment this week revealing that Air Force intelligence officer Monica Witt had defected to Iran and revealed top secret information, the news sent a shockwave through Washington. But Witt wasn’t the only person in prosecutors’ crosshairs: Also indicted were top Iranian hackers, charged with targeting U.S. intelligence officials for espionage.

The inclusion in the indictment of one notorious hacker, Behzad Mesri, provides a window into Iranian intelligence efforts and shows how a human intelligence operation to recruit a U.S. counterintelligence official informed an online espionage campaign. According to U.S. prosecutors, Mesri and three other Iranian hackers used intelligence provided by Witt to target U.S. intelligence officials for surveillance.

With all eyes focused on Witt after the Wednesday indictment was unsealed, Mesri’s involvement has been mostly overlooked. But for veteran observers of Iranian hacking activity, his name set off alarm bells.

In November 2017, Joon Kim, then-acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, delivered a melodramatic proclamation about a newly indicted Iranian hacker: “Winter has come for Behzad Mesri.” Mesri had allegedly broken into HBO’s computer systems, stealing unreleased episodes and scripts from the hit show Game of Thrones and demanding $6 million in exchange for not releasing the pilfered material. He remained free—and, apparently, a free agent.

Mesri is one of a number of Iranian hackers who maintain an ambiguous relationship with the country’s intelligence services. When he was indicted for breaking into HBO, U.S. prosecutors made no claim that he was operating on behalf of the government. Rather, he appeared to be freelancing in an ambitious attempt to cash in on his hacking skills.

That shadowy relationship between Iranian security services and the country’s hacking community provides groups such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps access to hackers and gives black hats lucrative sidelines.

“These guys are probably contractors—or not necessarily uniformed officers—who probably have other side projects going on,” said John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm FireEye. “It really makes it difficult to tell” what their relationship is with the government, he said...




Britannia Helps Rule the Waves

The Royal Navy’s return to Asia can guarantee the freedom of the seas.

Britain's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in New York on Oct. 19, 2018. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The freedom of the seas is facing its greatest threat in decades from authoritarian rulers who flout maritime law and the liberal “rules-based order” of seagoing trade, commerce, and martial endeavors it underwrites. Xi Jinping’s China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over some 80-90 percent of the South China Sea, meaning it intends to make the rules governing maritime activities and amass overpowering armed might to enforce them—including in waters apportioned to its neighbors by treaty. Meanwhile Vladimir Putin’s Russia has mounted a de facto blockade of Ukraine’s southeastern seacoast, seizing Ukrainian vessels and their crews trying to enter the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea.

That’s why it’s time for European leaders to speak up and show up—and perhaps none more so than Britain, once the chief enforcer of the modern law of the sea. Remaining silent about lawlessness is tantamount to consenting to it—and the consent of states is a wellspring of international law.

So the news that “global Britain” is returning to waters “east of Suez” is music to the ears of friends of nautical liberty. It’s the opposite of acquiescing to Chinese or Russian affronts. “This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War,” said British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson. “This is our moment to be that true global player once more—and I think the armed forces play a really important role as part of that.” In short, Britain is staging a comeback in the Indian and Pacific oceans—and it has put the region on notice that it intends to stay.

If it’s critical to speak up, friends of maritime freedom must also build up naval and military forces and dispatch them to hot spots where the freedom of the seas is in peril. They must put steel behind their words. And they must pool their military might with allies, not just to bolster their strength but to telegraph unity and resolve. If the allies speak with one voice—and put skin in the game, in the form of fighting ships and sailors, to show they mean it—Beijing, Moscow, and others may take heed. At the same time, their message will gladden the hearts of weaker states subjected to autocrats’ bullying. It will embolden the weak to stand up for their rights and privileges.

A standing British presence in Indo-Pacific waters will be a throwback to imperial days. Britain began the withdrawal of its forces east of Suez starting in the 1950s for good reason: It had exhausted itself beating back the Central Powers and then the Axis in the world wars, the sun was setting on the empire, and the United States had taken up the mantle of Western diplomatic and military leadership.

Britannia no longer rules the waves. For all that, though, its navy remains a world-class force despite its shriveled inventory of ships and aircraft. In 2020, the Royal Navy will deploy a projected 30 vessels suitable for fighting for control of the seas, including an aircraft carrier and a handful of nuclear-powered attack submarine and guided-missile destroyers and frigates. (A clutch of logistics, repair, and other auxiliary vessels helps keep the fleet fit for action.) Though stretched thin, such a fleet can help protect the freedom of the seas by concentrating its few warships in or near embattled expanses such as the South China Sea and working alongside U.S. and allied navies. It increasingly boasts ships able to anchor a serious presence, such as its recently commissioned first supercarrier, dubbed HMS Queen Elizabeth. A second, HMS Prince of Wales, should commence sea trials this year...


Murder in Mexico: What's the Danger to an American Tourist?


- Mexico broke its record for homicides last year, and the dynamics that are driving that violence are unlikely to abate in the near future.

- At the same time, record numbers of U.S. citizens are either visiting Mexico as tourists or residing in the country, yet the number of Americans murdered in Mexico remains remarkably low.
- Still, violent crime remains a problem in Mexico, and visitors and residents should take measures to mitigate the risk.

With spring break right around the corner, our Threat Lens team is once again in demand, as clients — along with a wide array of friends and family — are all wondering about the safety of a Mexican getaway for some spring sun. Of course, the concern is understandable. As our 2019 Mexico cartel forecast reported, murders in the country hit their highest rate ever last year and, worryingly, there's nothing to suggest that this year will be any different...

Mexico: Government to No Longer Allow Oil Joint Ventures Between Pemex, Private Companies

What Happened: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said his government will not permit any new joint ventures for oil production between state-owned energy company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and private companies, Reuters reported Feb. 21. Lopez Obrador added that new joint ventures would not be allowed until existing investments begin their production.

Why It Matters: The announcement is part of Lopez Obrador's strategy to limit private investment in Mexico's energy sector and strengthen state-owned Pemex instead.

Background: Lopez Obrador has been considering legislation to strengthen the authority of Pemex's director by defunding independent energy regulators and by appointing political allies to key energy watchdogs, such as Mexico's Energy Regulatory Commission.


Heckler & Koch fined for illegal gun sales to Mexico

A German court has handed suspended jail terms to two ex-employees of gun maker Heckler & Koch and fined the firm €3.7m (£3.2m) for illegal arms deliveries to Mexico.

The Stuttgart court acquitted three other H&K ex-employees.

H&K was found to have breached German arms export rules by shipping nearly 5,000 G36 assault rifles and smaller firearms to strife-torn regions.

Mexico is plagued by warfare involving drug gangs and paramilitaries.

Germany's arms export restrictions include Mexican states such as Chiapas, Chihuahua and Guerrero, which are blighted by murders and kidnappings.

The H&K deliveries took place in 2006-2009. One ex-employee was given a suspended sentence of one year and 10 months, plus a fine of €80,000. The other received one year and five months and was ordered to do 250 hours of social work.

H&K guns, made in the south-western town of Oberndorf, are used in conflicts worldwide. Besides Mexico, they have gone to troops and militias in Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey...

...German broadcasters SWR and BR found evidence that G36 guns were used in a notorious militia attack on Mexican students in Iguala in 2014, in which six students died and 43 were kidnapped. All but one of the 43 disappeared without trace.

The Stuttgart case was triggered by evidence against H&K presented by peace activist Jürgen Grässlin eight years ago, German media report.




China Sets a Course for the U.S.'s Pacific Domain


- The decrease in U.S. interest in Pacific islands like the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau will provide further openings for Chinese influence in the area at a time when competition is mounting between Washington and Beijing.

- Remote islands that are unable to foster a self-sustaining economy will continue to leverage their strategic position to extract benefits from both sides.

- Australia, Japan and South Korea will all be critical in helping Washington to counterbalance growing Chinese influence here.

James Michener called the Pacific Ocean "the meeting ground for Asia and America," a world of endless ocean and "infinite specks of coral" that form a highway between east and west. Indeed, these scattered islands stretching from Papua New Guinea to Easter Island have been an important link between the two rims of the Pacific since at least the 16th century, when imperial Spain's Manila Galleons sailed between colonial Mexico and the Philippines — bypassing the dominance of its Iberian neighbor, Portugal, in the Indian Ocean.

The gradual emergence of the United States as the premier Pacific power, cemented in the wake of World War II and the subsequent Cold War, involved the establishment of footholds on these vital stepping stones. Today, these footholds remain — either as sovereign U.S.-held territories or freely associated states — but the end of the Cold War reduced these lands' importance to the United States.

But with China rising and great power competition heating up, these islands have gained renewed strategic prominence. Beijing's maritime ambitions center first and foremost on the first island chain that runs from the Kurils through Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines to Borneo, but the second island chain from Japan south to the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Micronesia, Palau and Papua New Guinea will be critical in the long term. And given their small size and economic challenges, these Pacific microstates ultimately offer a low-cost opportunity for China to grow its influence and challenge U.S. strategic dominance...

China: Dalian Port Halts Imports of Australian Coal

What Happened: The port of Dalian, one of China's largest ports, has halted coal imports from Australia and will reportedly limit total coal imports for 2019 to 12 million tons, Reuters reported Feb. 20.

Why It Matters: The ban comes amid a diplomatic spat between Beijing and Canberra that includes Australian allegations that China was orchestrating a cyberattack on the country's parliament and the visa termination of a prominent Chinese businessman, among others. The development also raises speculation that China is increasingly using its economic leverage to gain influence over other countries.

Background: Australian coal made up nearly half of all imported coal at the Dalian port in 2018 and accounts for 43.5 percent of China's total imports of coking coal. The Chinese government has been introducing efforts to limit steel and coal imports to shore up prices for domestic firms.


Iran showcases first submarine cruise missile as part of Gulf war games

Iran has showcased its first submarine cruise missile as part of extensive naval drills at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the state news agency IRNA reported on Friday.

More than 100 vessels were taking part in the three-day war games in a vast area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean.

The naval drills come at a time of rising tensions with the United States, and less than a week after the Warsaw conference that aimed to create a US-backed alliance against Iran that would include Israel and other Arab states in the Gulf.

"The exercise will cover confronting a range of threats, testing weapons, and evaluating the readiness of equipment and personnel," navy commander Hossein Khanzadi said in remarks carried by state television.

"Submarine missile launches will be carried out... in addition to helicopter and drone launches from the deck of the Sahand destroyer," Khanzadi said.

Iran will be testing its new domestically built Fateh (Conqueror) submarine, which is armed with cruise missiles and was launched last week at the Bandar Abbas naval base, state media said.

Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.

The Islamic Republic has expanded its missile programme, particularly its ballistic missiles. Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities.

Iran launched its domestically made destroyer Sahand in December, which officials say has radar-evading stealth properties.

As part of celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution earlier this month, Iran displayed a new cruise surface-to-surface missile with a range of 1,300 km...




How Israel's Elections Will Shape Its Regional Strategy


- Israel's April 9 general elections could potentially end the Benjamin Netanyahu era, ushering in new dynamics for the U.S.-Israeli relationship, the Israel-Gulf rapprochement and Israel's relationship with the Palestinians.

- But whoever leads the next Israeli government will still face rising tensions in Gaza, the West Bank and Syria that threaten to escalate into large-scale violence or even conflict between Israel and Iran.
The next Israeli government will also have to contend with a less-friendly United States due to rising bipartisan concerns about Chinese-Israeli ties, as well as increasing skepticism of Israeli strategies among some Democrats in Congress.

Israel's general election on April 9 could usher in a new era of politics in the country. Although opinion polls still generally favor incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling center-right coalition, rising discontent has created a path for center-left challenger Benny Gantz to take the helm of the government and reshape Israel's relations both near and far. But regardless of who wins, the next government will still be forced to grapple with brewing threats from Iran and the Palestinian Territories that could both easily escalate into major conflict. As well, it will have to deal with a U.S. government that's critical of its ties with China — and U.S. politicians increasingly critical of Israeli actions...




Russian Military Says Nyet to the Internet

Putin wants soldiers to stop revealing secrets of his shadow wars on their social media pages.

In early 2015, Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists defeated government forces in the city of Debaltseve in a major battle that seemed to prove something about the balance of forces in the conflict: The ragtag insurgents could face the country’s conventional military on their own and win.

But it later became clear that Russian troops deployed in the area helped the separatists defeat the Ukrainian forces—a fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin had tried to hide. How was the secret revealed? Russian soldiers involved in the fighting posted details of the battle on social media.

Now, four years later, Russia has passed a law that forbids military personnel from posting photographs, video, and geolocation data on the internet. As Russian forces are increasingly involved in secretive campaigns far from home, the idea is to prevent the details of these shadow wars from seeping out.

But researchers who have tracked Russian troop movements using open-source material and social media argue that the new measure is unlikely to obscure the Kremlin’s maneuvers...


U.S. Ally in Syria Welcomes Trump’s Reversal on Troops

The decision is a win for Kurdish-led forces who feared the withdrawal would leave them unprotected against Turkey’s plans for northern Syria

BEIRUT—The U.S.’s main ally in the fight against Islamic State welcomed President Trump’s decision to leave U.S. troops in Syria, a change in American plans that the Syrian Kurds have lobbied for ever since the withdrawal announcement.

The White House said the U.S. will maintain a small peacekeeping force of about 200 troops in Syria, a partial reversal of an earlier decision by President Trump to remove all American troops. The hastily announced withdrawal in December was criticized by members of his own administration, U.S....




U.K.: London Signals a Challenge to Washington's Hard Line on Huawei

The Big Picture

Huawei has grown in strength to become one of the world's most important telecommunications companies. But as the firm strives to participate in the rollout of 5G networks around the world, some Western countries — particularly the United States — have expressed concerns that its technology could open a back door to Chinese espionage. New findings in the United Kingdom, however, appear to challenge the U.S. stance that Huawei represents a clear and present danger.
What Happened

Two trans-Atlantic allies might soon be coming to a head over Huawei. On Feb. 17, the British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) downplayed the alleged dangers of using 5G network gear from the Chinese tech giant on the country's telecommunications infrastructure, concluding that it was possible to mitigate the risks that equipment made by the company might pose. The cybersecurity authority has yet to publish its findings, yet it has conspicuously refrained from denying reports about the conclusion. The authority's report follows recent comments by the former head of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Robert Hannigan, who said the NCSC had never discovered "any malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei." Echoing his optimistic view was Alex Younger, the head of British foreign intelligence service MI6, who suggested late last week that the United Kingdom could take a softer line on Huawei than the United States...


CIA Lies Low, Waiting for Trump Storm to Pass

With Dan Coats’s job as director of national intelligence on the line, senior CIA officials avoid criticizing the president.

For most of his presidency, Donald Trump has waged a war on members of his own intelligence community, openly scorning their assessments and now reportedly weighing whether to fire Dan Coats as director of national intelligence for publicly opposing his views.

But current CIA Director Gina Haspel, despite her own quiet repudiation of the president’s rhetoric, appears to be safe in her post. And that may be in part because the agency and most of its former senior officials have avoided public criticism of Trump for fear of incurring his wrath and jeopardizing Haspel’s job as well as the institution, according to former agency officials. Indeed, the CIA is one of the few major government departments that has not been subjected to a Trump political appointee at its senior levels.

Many career intelligence professionals are privately shocked and appalled by Trump’s behavior, in particular his tendency to credit the statements of bad actors such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the assessments of the CIA. But with a few exceptions such as former CIA Director John Brennan, most of these career officials have remained silent, knowing that Trump typically focuses his ire on public agencies he considers disloyal...



Orbex’s Prime Launcher Combines Innovations

Executives from Orbex, an Anglo-Danish startup opening its UK headquarters and rocket integration facility in Forres, Scotland, say astronautical and commercial imperatives have aligned to drive novel design elements for its Prime small satellite launch vehicle.

“Essentially, we sat down and tried to rethink the look for a modern-day rocket with a modern-day fuel, if you are not bound by anything,” Jonas Bjarnoe, Orbex’s chief technical officer, said at a Feb. 7 unveiling of Prime’s second stage. “Suddenly it dawns on you that there is a combination of production techniques, system architecture and propellants that allows you to do something that is really efficient. And you are not even stretching the technology to its extremes. It’s just the right combination of technologies.”

Orbex provided a peek at the Prime rocket’s second stage

The launch vehicle will loft payloads of up to 200 kg...

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Mississippi....

In the days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area, STRATFOR published an article on the necessity of the port of New Orleans, and how it was critical in the development of the United States.

NASA gives us a great look at how the rivers flow to the Mississippi, and give the United States a critical asset in trade.

A striking NASA animation shows all of the rivers that drain into the Mississippi
(WVUE) - Engineers at the U.S. Army Corps have nicknamed America's largest watershed, the massive area that drains into the Mississippi River, "the plumbing."

This week, the Corps began operating the Bonnet Carre Spillway 32 miles upriver from New Orleans to relieve pressure on levees down river and lessen the threat of flooding to metro New Orleans.

The Mississippi River drains all or parts of 31 states and two Canadian province, the largest drainage basin in North America at nearly one-and-a-quarter million square miles.

NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio created an animation depicting the rivers of the entire watershed, starting with points farthest from the Gulf of Mexico and revealing streams and rivers in a progression toward the mouth of the Mississippi.

NASA based its work on a U.S. Geological Survey data base, following the direction of the stream flows and tracing the path of every significant waterway toward the mighty Mississippi.

Friday, February 22, 2019

One of the greatest songs of all time...

Whenever I am wound up, things are going insane, this song brings me down. The song, and the lyrics, to A Whiter Shade of Pale.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Procol Harum

We skipped the light Fandango
Turned cartwheels ´cross the floor
I was feeling kind of seasick
But the crowd called out for more

The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the Miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of paleShe said there is no reason

And the truth is plain to see
But I wandered through my playing cards
And I would not let her be
One of the sixteen vestal virgins

Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might just as well´ve been closedAnd so it was that later
As the Miller told his tale

That her face, at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of pale

I'm gonna need something to take me down a bit. I'm doing the taxes tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

Officer Down

Police Officer Leann Simpson
Philadelphia Police Department, Mississippi
End of Watch Saturday, November 24, 2018
Age 23
Tour 1 year, 3 months
Badge 88

Police Officer Leann Simpson was killed in a vehicle collision on West Beacon Street while responding to assist deputies on a traffic stop shortly after 2:00 am.

Deputies from the Neshoba County Sheriff's Office were on a traffic stop on Highway 16 and dispatchers were unable to establish contact with them. Dispatch requested that officers from the Philadelphia Police Department respond to check on the deputies. Officer Simpson's patrol car hit a light pole and flipped several times as she responded, causing her to suffer fatal injuries.

Officer Simpson was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the Philadelphia Police Department for 15 months.
Rest in Peace Sis…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 solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist...

One of the many disasters of the B Hussein Obama regime was his attempt to seize the Internet thought "Net Neutrality" ("NN"). Of the many Orwellian terms to come out of the Obama years, that tops it. “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, Net Neutrality.” When the Trump administration came in, one of the first acts of the new FCC commissioner was to end this disaster. And there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Libtards actually said that the companies that provide this service would not want to provide it. Well...
More Americans Have High-Speed Internet Access Than Ever

Preliminary FCC report claims the number of Americans with high-speed connections grew by 20 percent in 2017.

For all the drama over the repeal of Net Neutrality and continuing fears about a "digital divide" between online haves and have-nots, the number of Americans with high-speed access to the Internet continues to grow, says a preliminary report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The report covers development in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. From an FCC press release:

The number of Americans lacking access to a fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC's benchmark speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped by over 25%, from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 19.4 million at the end of 2017. Moreover, the majority of those gaining access to such high-speed connections, approximately 5.6 million, live in rural America, where broadband deployment has traditionally lagged.

The private sector has responded to FCC reforms by deploying fiber to 5.9 million new homes in 2018, the largest number ever recorded. And overall, capital expenditures by broadbandproviders increased in 2017, reversing declines that occurred in both 2015 and 2016...

Declines in 2015 and 2016. When did "NN" go into effect? April 2015. Who was president back then? Oh, yea, Barrack Hussein Obama, mmm mmm mmm! (Let's all chant like good communists). So when "NN" was in effect, people got less high speed Internet service. But when the Internet was unregulated, people got more service, and at less cost. Who would have thought that? Anyone who has any knowledge of history and free markets. More on that in a moment.
...Other key findings of the report include the following, based on data through the end of 2017:
The number of Americans with access to 100 Mbps/10Mpbs fixed broadband increased by nearly 20%, from 244.3 million to 290.9 million.

The number of Americans with access to 250 Mbps/50 Mbps fixed broadband grew by over 45%, to 205.2 million, and the number of rural Americans with access to such service more than doubled.

Back to economics. The more often you sell something, the less of a profit margin you need to make money. A gallon of milk, a gallon of gas, a loaf of bread, there is a small margin of profit there. You buy these things constantly, so there is a motivation to make them inexpensively, and you profit by volume. How often do you buy a diamond ring? Not often, so the profit margin is relatively large, seeing the jewelry store won't see you for another few years.

Internet service, like other services (e.g. telephone, electricity), is still in it's growing phases, but remember, these businesses want to do business. And the consumer will get better service, at lower cost, when the competition is cut throat.

Anyone remember the great old days of Ma Bell? One regulated phone company. I do, and for the young, allow me to tell you, it sucked. Or something many young people know of, Uber. Did you really enjoy only having one cab service in your city? Prior to 2011, that was all you had. Personally I like having an app so I can get a vehicle to my house in less than 10 minutes, getting a ride to where I want to go, at half the cost of a cab. Competition in electricy anyone? Cellular phones service?

Show me anything controlled by government, and I'll show you a 19th bureaucratic model with no motivation to enter the latter part of the 20th Century. USPS anyone? It's completely illogical to believe they only want to think they don't want to provide a service that makes them a profit. However, bureaucracies want control, even when there is no issue.

I've got my issues with Trump, but damn, he hit the ball out the park with killing "NN." Hopefully, after a Democrat gets into the Oval Office (it's will happen), they will leave the Internet alone. Forgive me if I have my doubts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Officer Down

Police Officer Samuel Jimenez
Chicago Police Department, Illinois
End of Watch Monday, November 19, 2018
Age 28
Tour 1 year, 6 months
Badge 19526

Police Officer Samuel Jimenez was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance outside of Mercy Hospital at 2525 South Michigan Avenue.

As officers arrived on the scene the male subject fatally shot his ex-fiancee, who was a doctor at the hospital. He then ran into the hospital with officers pursuing him. As they entered the hospital the man exchanged shots with Officer Jimenez, striking him and a bystander. Another officer's duty belt was also struck by the gunfire.

The subject was also shot and killed during the exchange.

Officer Jimenez and the bystander were both transported to another hospital where they succumbed to their wounds.

Officer Jimenez had served with the Chicago Police Department for 18 months.
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. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Officer Down

Police Officer Jason Michael Seals
Slidell Police Department, Louisiana
End of Watch Saturday, November 17, 2018
Age 35
Tour 10 years
Badge 117
Cause Motorcycle crash
Incident Date Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Police Officer Jason Seals succumbed to injuries sustained on September 25th, 2018, when he was involved in a motorcycle crash while escorting a funeral procession.

He was traveling on the 1900 block of Highway 190W when another vehicle pulled out in front of him near the Grand Theatre. He was transported to University Hospital in New Orleans where he remained until succumbing to his injuries on November 17th, 2018.

Officer Seals had served with the Slidell Police Department for 10 years. He is survived by his wife and three 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 190218



U.S.: Trump Refuses to Deliver Report to Senate on Khashoggi Killing

What Happened: U.S. President Donald Trump will not respond to a U.S. Senate request under the Global Magnitsky Act on the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, CNN reported Feb. 8.

Why It Matters: The U.S. Congress has been pressuring the White House to take a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia and its leadership after Khashoggi's killing and mounting evidence by the CIA and the United Nations pointing toward Mohammed bin Salman's direct involvement.

Background: A recent vote in the U.S. Senate fell four votes short of a supermajority that would have enabled the legislative body to override a potential presidential veto on confronting Riyadh. The prospect of sanctions against Saudi Arabia could significantly undermine investor confidence in the country just as foreign investors and companies are showing an increased interest in resuming business with the kingdom...

Marines Providing Counter-UAS Options To Leadership

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

STAFFORD, Virginia—The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) will provide a range of options to the commandant for counter-unmanned aircraft system (UAS) air domain surveillance.

Brig. Gen. Christian Wortman, MCWL commander, told reporters here Nov. 27 that the initiative is part of Sea Dragon 2025, which is the largest live-force experiment activity the service has undertaken in recent history. Sea Dragon 2025 is aligned with National Defense Strategy and defense planning guidance to explore changes in the Marine Air-Ground Task Force that are necessary to increase lethality in contested sea, air, land, space and cyberspace.

“We’re working on a very expansive portfolio of counter-UAS capabilities,” Wortman said. This includes developing solutions to counter every component of the kill chain—to find, fix, track, target and engage....

Middle East: No Progress for U.S. on Iran at Warsaw Summit

The Big Picture

One of the main goals of the United States in the Middle East is working to restrict Iran's expansion as a political and military power in the region. In its concerted focus on Iran as the source of instability in the Middle East, the United States has some strong allies, like Israel and most of the Gulf Arab states. But Washington's important EU allies do not agree that Tehran is the source of all regional instability — something that was on full display this week at a long-anticipated summit in Warsaw, Poland...


Africa: Foreign Direct Investment Increased in 2018 After Years of Decline

What Happened: Africa experienced increased foreign direct investment in 2018 following more than two years of decline, Bloomberg reported Feb. 11.

Why It Matters: The sources of foreign direct investment into African nations are increasingly diversifying and include growing interest from Japan, India and Middle Eastern states. Large Western private equity companies, by contrast, continue to withdraw their investments from the continent.

Background: Many African nations continue to face significant economic hurdles, such as corruption and unstable policy environments, to greater foreign direct investment. Still, various measures like the African Continental Free Trade Agreement could increase investor interest in the continent even further.


Pakistan Has No More Excuses for Supporting Terrorism

A murderous attack in Kashmir rocks relationships throughout Asia.

Vehicles burn along a road during a protest in Jammu on Feb. 15, the day after an attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir. (Rakesh Bakshi/AFP/Getty Images)
Vehicles burn along a road during a protest in Jammu on Feb. 15, the day after an attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir. (Rakesh Bakshi/AFP/Getty Images)
On the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 14, a massive explosion rocked a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. At least 40 personnel belonging to the CRPF—a 300,000-strong paramilitary force under the Ministry of Home Affairs involved in law-and-order and counterterrorism duties—were killed as a suicide bomber drove an SUV reportedly loaded with about 600 pounds of explosives into their bus. Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist organization based in Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the group’s role has been confirmed by Indian officials. The assault comes weeks before India’s general elections, which are expected to be held in March and April.

The next morning, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security—consisting of the prime minister and four senior ministers—held an emergency meeting and, as a first step, announced the revocation of “most favored nation” trading status for Pakistan. India had granted this status to Pakistan in 1996, although Pakistan had never reciprocated. But this is just one of the retaliatory measures likely to be taken after the worst act of Islamist terrorism in India since the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

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Culpability for the attacks is unambiguous. For decades, Islamist terrorists belonging to groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba have benefited from recruitment, financing, training, and other forms of support provided by Pakistan’s security establishment. Groups targeting India and Afghanistan continue to operate with relative impunity inside Pakistan, which has only cracked down on militancy against the Pakistani state. In Jammu and Kashmir, cross-border infiltration has been facilitated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate—its primary external intelligence agency, run by the military—and the Pakistan Army, which provides cover in the form of artillery and gun fire across the Line of Control separating Indian- and Pakistani-held territory.

Despite the highs and lows in India-Pakistan relations over the past two decades, there is no evidence that Pakistan has made serious attempts at dismantling this terrorist infrastructure. Although the frequency ebbs and flows, cross-border infiltrations continue on a regular basis: Most of these terrorists are quickly stopped or neutralized by Indian security forces, and those attacks that have been successful—including the one at Uri in 2016—have generally benefited from negligence or a good deal of luck. Given that Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for Pulwama, and the group operates openly on its soil, Pakistan cannot rely, as it has in the past, on ambiguity and plausible deniability to deflect responsibility for this attack...




ndustry Begins Work On Franco-German Fighter Project

France and Germany may have signed off on the latest milestones to develop a future combat aircraft, but tensions are simmering due to Berlin’s continued reluctance over defense exports.

The two countries agreed to a pact to further defense cooperation on Jan. 22, including finding a “common approach” to exports of defense equipment produced in partnership. But Germany now appears to be holding up sales of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile to Saudi Arabia, citing concerns about Riyadh’s ongoing conflict in Yemen, French newspaper La Tribune reported on Feb. 5.

MTU and Safran will work together on the engine for the NGF

And while exports of a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) are at least two decades away, there are concerns that a failure to find consensus on defense exports, even after such high-level agreements, could yet throw a spanner into the work of the Franco-German industry at a fragile early stage.

“It is a path . . . . We will find a solution,” French Air Force chief Gen. Philippe Lavigne said in Washington on Feb. 7 when asked about Germany’s reticence toward defense exports, particularly to some Middle Eastern countries. “There is a real determination for this program, for our security but also for our industry. We have to develop this.”

On Feb. 6, Berlin and Paris began doing just that, issuing the first industry contracts for a two-year concept study for the FCAS, which is being developed to replace France’s Dassault Rafales and Germany’s Eurofighters.

The €65 million ($74 million) project will outline the concepts and provide some options for different architectures, says Lavigne. It will also prepare and initiate demonstrator programs that could be formally launched at this year’s Paris Air Show and fly about 2025. The work follows national studies carried out during 2018 that outlined the characteristics and missions the FCAS would perform.

This artist’s impressions of the NGF issued by the French defense ministry depicts a large twin-engine, tailless fighter with some low-observable characteristics. Credit: French Defense Ministry

On the same day, a long-awaited partnership between Germany’s MTU Aero Engines and France’s Safran to work on the FCAS’ Next Generation Fighter’s (NGF) engine was also launched.

Together MTU and Safran will lead the development, production and after-sales support activity of the new engine that will power the fighter when it enters service in the late 2030s/early 2040s. MTU has previously described the engine, known internally as the Next European Fighter Engine as a variable-cycle engine likely capable of producing around 30,000 lb. of thrust.

MTU will take the lead in developing the low- and high-pressure compressors and low-pressure turbine, while Safran will lead on the combustor, high-pressure turbine and afterburner. A joint venture, Aerospace Embedded Solutions, will be in charge of the engine control hardware and software, although those activities will be Safran’s responsibility as the engine integrator.

In preparation, Safran has opened a new turbine blade research facility at its Gennevilliers, France, site, where it will research materials that could allow increases in the temperature of the high-pressure turbine to almost 2,000C (3,600F), paving the way for the higher-power engines required for the NGF.

MTU has been actively lobbying the German government to begin providing funding for the start of engine technology work this year, before engine development work begins in the early 2020s.

The company sees prototype engines being ready in 2031 ready for the aircraft’s service entry in 2040...




China will build 4 nuclear aircraft carriers in drive to catch US Navy, experts say

- Beijing expected to have at least six aircraft carrier battle groups by 2035 after it prioritised modernising its navy

- Nuclear-powered carriers thought to be equipped with electromagnetic launch catapults similar to those of the US

Four of at least six aircraft battle groups China plans to have in the water by 2035 will be nuclear-powered, as the Asian giant tries to equal the US in naval strength, according to Chinese military experts.
The specialists said that after decades of trying to close the gap, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s hardware might by then be closer to matching the world’s leading superpower in aircraft carrier technology – but it would still lag in real combat experience.
All of China’s new carriers were expected to be equipped with electromagnetic catapults similar to those used by the United States, the experts said. The US’ electromagnetic aircraft launch system, known as EMALS, can launch more aircraft more rapidly than the older diesel systems.

“China’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with [EMALS-like systems] are expected to join the navy by 2035, bringing the total number of carriers to at least six – although only four will work at the front line,” Wang Yunfei, a naval expert and retired PLA destroyer naval officer, said.

“The country needs to keep developing until it is at the same level as the United States.”

Beijing is keen to expand its aircraft carrier battle groups to fulfil its global naval ambitions and defend its growing overseas interests. Construction of its next conventional diesel-powered aircraft carrier, the Type 002 – the first equipped with the electromagnetic launchers – began last year.

Wang said the budget for the carrier projects would not be cut despite an economic slowdown and a trade war with the US.
After a fourth sea trial, China’s Type 001A aircraft carrier may go into service within months...

China Is Building a $9 Billion Rival to the American-Run GPS

(Bloomberg) -- China is taking its rivalry with the U.S. to the heavens, spending at least $9 billion to build a celestial navigation system and cut its dependence on the American-owned GPS amid heightening tensions between the two countries.

Location data beamed from GPS satellites are used by smartphones, car navigation systems, the microchip in your dog’s neck and guided missiles -- and all those satellites are controlled by the U.S. Air Force. That makes the Chinese government uncomfortable, so it’s developing an alternative that a U.S. security analyst calls one of the largest space programs the country has undertaken.

“They don’t want to depend on the U.S.’s GPS,’’ said Marshall Kaplan, a professor in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Maryland. “The Chinese don’t want to be subject to something that we can shut off.’’

The Beidou Navigation System, currently serving China and neighbors, will be accessible worldwide by 2020 as part of President Xi Jinping’s strategy to make his country a global leader in next-generation technologies. Its implementation reverberates through the corporate world as makers of semiconductors, electric vehicles and airplanes modify products to also connect with Beidou in order to keep doing business in the second-biggest economy.

Assembly of the new constellation is approaching critical mass after the launch of at least 18 satellites this year, including three this month. On Nov. 19, China launched two more Beidou machines, increasing the number in operation to more than 40. China plans to add 11 more by 2020...

The End of Strategic Luxury for China

As its economy matures, China has attempted to move up the value chain in manufacturing, beyond industries such as textiles and into high-tech development.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)


- Signs of China's economic maturation, such as decreased reliance on exports and reduced returns on government-led investments, have promised an era of slowed Chinese economic growth since the years after the global financial crisis.

- China needs more time and space to facilitate its domestic socio-economic transformation and upgrade its value chain, but it is losing the "strategic luxury" of a relatively stable external environment.

- Beijing will reverse infrastructure spending and credit expansion and try to use financial incentives to stimulate domestic consumption where it can, but it is likely to face greater economic pain, at least in the short term...


How Iran Keeps Its Aging F-5 Fleet Alive

On Nov. 3, 2018, a so-called mass-production line for Iran’s domestically made Kowsar-1 combat training aircraft was presented during a public ceremony to emphasize the nation’s self-sufficiency. The event took place just one day before U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed severe economic and industrial sanctions on Iran.

Project “Kowsar-I,” formally unveiled just a few months prior by the Iranian defense ministry, is not focused on producing clones of U.S.-made Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs, but rather is about giving new life to the existing fleet of 58 Tiger IIs now in service with the Iranian Air Force, according to officials from the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Co. And depending on the political situation in Iran, they may wind up in service into the 2040s.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) has 325 fighter jets; the easiest to operate and maintain among them is a fleet of 44 F-5Es and 14 F-5Fs. Those 58 F-5E/Fs are what remains from a purchase by Iran’s imperial government under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program in the 1970s. They were intended as a stop gap until the first batch of 140 Lockheed Martin F-16 A/Bs were delivered and were meant to be phased out after 1984.

But the fall of Iran’s secular, imperial government and rise of its Islamic Republic ended all previous military programs. As a result, the F-5E/Fs have remained in service for four decades and now comprise the core of the IRIAF’s fighter fleet.

What ensued in the intervening years is a study in how Iran, largely cut off from U.S. suppliers, kept the aircraft in flight—from reverse-engineering efforts to modernization programs.

The first, Project Saeghe-80, was an airframe upgrade that drew from former Northrop engineers and designers. Another team contracted with China’s National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp. (Catic) to pursue avionics and weapons upgrades under the name Silk Road II (SR.II)...

Iran’s Economy Is Crumbling, but Collapse Is a Long Way Off

hings will only get worse under Trump’s sanctions, but China, India, and other countries are still defiantly buying oil.

Since last year, the United States has been ramping up economic pressure on Iran and has plans to redouble the pain later this spring with even tighter sanctions. Will that financial chokehold be enough to strangle the Iranian economy and bring America’s bête noire to heel?

The balance of expert opinion is that there is still a lot of resistance left in Iran’s oft-proclaimed “resistance economy.” While it is hurting badly and is more vulnerable today than during the last period of prolonged U.S. sanctions, from 2012 to 2015, Iran’s economy is not nearly as dysfunctional as that of Venezuela, another target of U.S. sanctions meant to weaken the longtime ruling regime. U.S. sanctions there threaten to absolutely cripple Venezuela’s ability to pump and export oil, essentially cutting off all government income...

Iran: U.S. Renews Efforts to Sabotage Iranian Space, Ballistic Missile Programs

What Happened: The United States has renewed and accelerated its efforts to sabotage Iran's space and ballistic missile programs, according to a Feb. 13 report by The New York Times.

Why It Matters: U.S. efforts to slow down Iran's ballistic missile and space programs could include measures to disrupt supply chains, impair data and information, as well as conduct cyberattacks.

Background: Although Iran's space launches have been relatively unsuccessful, its ballistic missile program is showing signs of improvement and has not suffered the same number of failures as the space program.




Army simulates attack on gas rigs in most complex naval drill in decades
Gunships fire missiles at cargo freighter acting as enemy vessel in massive exercise meant to prepare for attacks by Hamas, Hezbollah

The Israel Navy this week simulated an attack on the country’s natural gas platforms, including a live-fire test of sea-to-sea missiles to destroy an “enemy ship,” the military said Thursday.

Four Sa’ar-4.5 model corvettes participated in the week-long naval exercise, dubbed “Raging Sea,” which ended on Thursday.

The military said it was the most complex naval drill in decades.

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The exercise included missiles fired from four ships simultaneously at an old cargo freighter acting as an enemy vessel.

“We simulated an enemy ship coming to harm our strategic facilities and, with coordination at sea and in the air, we destroyed it,” said Col. Guy Goldfarb, commander of the navy’s gunships.

Terror groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip have both threatened to attack Israel’s natural gas platforms.

Israel has in recent years transformed into a major gas exporter after major reserves of the resource were discovered in its waters in the Mediterranean...

...Due to Israel’s tense relationship with its land neighbors, the Jewish state relies extensively on the Mediterranean for its trade. Recently discovered natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel are also of significant importance to the Jewish state, turning it for the first time into an energy exporter...

...During the 2014 Gaza war, the Hamas terror group launched rockets at Israel’s natural gas platforms — located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) — but failed to hit them.

Israel, for now, does not believe the Gaza-based terror group is able to hit the platforms, though it does have access to two varieties of shore-to-sea missiles: the Chinese C-802 and C-704.

However, the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, which has also threatened to attack the natural gas reserves, is believed to be capable of striking the platforms using Russian-made Yakhont shore-to-sea guided missiles and other weapons.

Both terror groups are also believed to be developing other naval capabilities, including autonomous submersibles, suicide drones and scuba-diving commando units, Israeli naval officials have said.

Some of those weapons have already been deployed against Israel in combat, by Hezbollah in the 2006 Second Lebanon War and by Hamas in the 2014 Gaza war...

North Korea may have made more nuclear bombs, but threat reduced: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has continued to produce bomb fuel while in denuclearization talks with the United States and may have produced enough in the past year to add as many as seven nuclear weapons to its arsenal, according to a study released just weeks before a planned second summit between the North Korean leader and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the U.S. Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico who is now at Stanford and was one of the report’s authors, told Reuters analysis of satellite imagery showed North Korea’s production of bomb fuel continued in 2018.

He said spent fuel generated from operation of the 5 megawatt reactor at its main nuclear plant at Yongbyon from 2016-18 appeared to have been reprocessed starting in May and would have produced an estimated 5-8 kg of weapons-grade plutonium.

This combined with production of perhaps 150 kg of highly enriched uranium may have allowed North Korea to increase the number of weapons in its arsenal by between five and seven, the Stanford report said.

Hecker’s team had estimated the size of North Korea’s arsenal in 2017 at 30, bringing a possible current total of 37 weapons. U.S. intelligence is not certain how many nuclear warheads North Korea has. Last year, the Defense Intelligence Agency was at the high end with an estimate of about 50 nuclear warheads, while analysts have given a range of 20-60...

A How-To Guide for Disabling and Dismantling Yongbyon

A worker handles a drum filled with contaminated waste during the clean-up of the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in 2005. (Photo: Mark Leffingwell/Boulder DailyCamera.)
With another summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for February 27-28 in Vietnam, the potential dismantlement of North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center looms as a first step towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In his September 2018 Pyongyang summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim expressed his willingness to dismantle Yongbyon if the United States took corresponding measures. The dismantlement would still leave North Korea with a nuclear weapons stockpile and the ability to produce additional weapons based on the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) elsewhere. But it would represent an important step towards denuclearization since it would end the North’s production of plutonium and hinder the overall production of HEU.

If an agreement to dismantle Yongbyon is reached, implementation will pose enormous political, technical and financial challenges. It would require US-DPRK agreement on a game plan including the possible involvement of other actors such as South Korea, China, Russia, the IAEA and perhaps the European Union. The objective will be to quickly disable, dismantle and decontaminate the plutonium reprocessing facility, the uranium enrichment plant, and the 5 MWe reactor as well as to safely dispose of spent and enriched fuel and nuclear waste products. It will also be necessary to make sure that North Korean personnel involved in the operation of those facilities are not reemployed in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Disablement/Dismantlement of Plutonium Recovery and Uranium Enrichment Facilities

Based on previous experience, all options for disablement and dismantlement of the plutonium recovery facilities, uranium enrichment cascades and IRT research reactor will require years of work and millions if not billions of dollars. For example:

Yucca Flats: Remediation of the US plutonium recovery plant at Rocky Flats was completed over 14 years at a cost of $7-$10 billion. Rocky Flats, however, involved the demolition of 802 structures and remediation of hundreds of acres of contaminated soil. Over 500,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste was characterized, packaged and transported to radioactive waste repositories off-site. The cost and scope of cleanup at Yongbyon will be far less because it has thousands of fewer acres to remediate and many fewer structures to dismantle. For example, the estimated amount of time required to disable and dismantle Yongbyon’s reprocessing plant is 8-12 years at a cost of $525 million-$1.5 billion, significantly less than Rocky Flats’ 14 years of work totaling roughly $7.7 billion.

Belgium: Developing effective and thorough decommissioning techniques for Eurochemic took precedence over urgency. The process took 25 years to complete at a cost of $333.75 million. During that time, nuclear waste and sludge were treated, buildings were demolished, and a research reactor decommissioned. There are far fewer process cells, however, to decommission at Yongbyon and far less area that requires decontamination. Eurochemic’s decommissioning cost is at the lower end of the estimated cost for Yongbyon, but it already had waste storage processes and facilities. These would need to be built and tested at Yongbyon, adding to the cost and processing time. Nonetheless, the experience at Eurochemic can help illustrate effective methods and processes.
Three key variables will determine the length of time and cost of disabling and dismantling the Yongbyon facility...


Russia: Duma Vote Paves Way for Russian Internet

What Happened: The Russian Duma has passed its first reading of a bill to support the development of a Russian internet that can withstand potential isolation from the global internet, Euronews reported Feb. 12. The bill will require two additional votes in the Duma before heading to the upper house of Russia's parliament.

Why It Matters: The Russian government has been attempting to increase its influence over physical internet infrastructure within its borders to exert greater control over the flow of digital information. The new measures aim to give the Kremlin the ability to sever global internet access in the event of a cyberattack or a military confrontation with the West. However, Moscow could also use the measures to block certain social media platforms and control flows of information during domestic crises and elections.

Background: According to earlier reports, the Russian government will conduct a test to cut off access to the global internet sometime before April 1. It is likely that such a test will not only be disruptive in Russia, but also have global ramifications due to the interconnected nature of internet activity.


Withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria likely to start in 'weeks': U.S. general

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - The United States is likely just weeks away from starting the withdrawal of ground troops from Syria ordered by President Donald Trump, the top U.S. commander overseeing American forces in the Middle East said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. Courtesy Zoe Garbarino/U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS /File Photo
U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command, cautioned that the exact timing would depend on the situation in Syria, where U.S.-backed fighters have launched a final assault against Islamic State enclaves near the Iraqi border.

The U.S. military has already started withdrawing equipment from Syria. Asked whether the withdrawal of America’s more than 2,000 troops would begin in days or weeks, Votel said: “Probably weeks. But again, it will all be driven by the situation on the ground.”

“In terms of the withdrawal ... I think we’re right on track with where we wanted to be,” Votel told reporters traveling with him during a trip to the Middle East...


U.S. delivers missiles to Lebanese army

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The United States delivered laser-guided rockets valued at more than $16 million to the Lebanese military on Wednesday, demonstrating what it said was Washington’s “firm and steady commitment” to Lebanon’s army.

The United States has supplied the Lebanese military with more than $2.3 billion in assistance since 2005, aiming to support it as “the sole, legitimate defender” of a country where the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah holds major sway.


Trump To Feds: Prioritize Artificial Intelligence Work

A sweeping executive order to be signed Monday will push agencies to boost funding, improve training, and propose regulations for AI-related efforts.

Federal agencies will be instructed to “prioritize AI investments” under an executive order to be signed by President Trump on Monday, a senior administration official told reporters Sunday. The order will launch the “American Artificial Intelligence Initiative,” which will push government agencies to spend more on AI research and development; direct the creation of related guidelines, standards, and potential regulations; and fund training in what the White House is describing as “AI-relevant” work areas.

The goal is to “prioritize federal AI spending cutting-edge ideas that can directly benefit the American people,” the official said.

The official said the initiative directs federal agencies to: Make more data, models, and computation available to AI researchers “while protecting privacy and civil liberties;” prioritize AI research and development as they allocate supercomputer time and cloud- computing resources; and prioritize training programs and fellowships that have an AI angle and that promote the development of “AI-relevant skills” such as data science and statistics.

It also directs the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead other regulatory agencies in proposing needed regulations for private and government AI efforts. It taps the National Institute of Science and Technology to establish “appropriate technical standards for reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, and droppable AI systems,” the official said...

...Meanwhile, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who served on Trump’s transition team, has remained much closer to the president. Michael Kratsios, a former aide to Thiel, currently serves as the deputy chief U.S. technology officer and the deputy assistant to the President at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is taking the lead on executing the order.

No, the Pentagon Is Not Working on Killer Robots—Yet

A strategy plan for using AI is more focused instead on firefighting and preventative maintenance.

The U.S. Department of Defense on Feb. 12 released its roadmap for artificial intelligence, and the most interesting thing about it might be what’s missing from the report: The military is nowhere close to building a lethal weapon capable of thinking and acting on its own.

As it turns out, the military applications of artificial intelligence today and in the foreseeable future are much more mundane. The Defense Department has several pilot projects in the works that focus on using AI to solve everyday problems such as floods, fires, and maintenance, said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who heads up the Pentagon’s new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

“We are nowhere close to the full autonomy question that most people seem to leap to a conclusion on when they think about DoD and AI,” Shanahan said during a briefing Tuesday.

It’s not that Department of Defense hasn’t given the idea of fully autonomous weapons much thought. In 2012, the Pentagon published an autonomy directive that sought to define what constitutes an autonomous weapon system and how it should be deployed. These guidelines state clearly that there should always be a human in the loop but leave open to interpretation the question of how much control the human will have over the weapon system.

In fact, many precision-guided missiles already operate with some degree of autonomy. These weapons, called “fire and forget,” need no human intervention after firing. A human operator programs targeting information prior to launch. As the missile gets closer, its onboard radar activates and guides it toward the target. Some advanced missiles are even re-targetable after launch.

But the kind of fully autonomous weapon seen in movies like Terminator and I, Robot—ones capable of human thoughts and decisions—is a long way off, experts say.

“Compare say a remotely piloted Reaper [drone] to an autonomous Reaper—it would be really hard to have an autonomous Reaper making a decision on whether to fire not,” said Michael Horowitz, a professor of political science and the associate director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. “Some people that think an AI [weapon] might never be able to make that choice...”




EU: Brussels Incites Washington's Ire With Strict Anti-Terrorism Financing Standards

The Big Picture

Since 9/11, money laundering and the financing of terrorism have taken on great significance, and become something the United States, the European Union and their allies want to put a stop to. Washington and Brussels play a critical role in global financial markets, meaning that countries on their blacklists can suffer under countermeasures that financial institutions have enacted to limit legal complications. The United States and the European Union, however, don't always adhere to the same standards — as evidenced by Brussels' decision to adopt more stringent measures than most of the international community.