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

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Churches preparing for the next active shooter....

A few years back, I was on a PoliceOne.Com discussion with multiple officers, the question being, "Where do you always carry when your off duty?" One man said quickly, "I always carry in church, people are relaxed and believe no one will harm them..." Unfortunately, time has shown the man was correct, churches, like other "No Gun Zones," are target rich environments for the bad guys.

Found this article on how some churches are reacting to this new security threat. Not saying I like it, but the fact is we've had shootings at houses of worship. And when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
Churches arm, train congregants after shootings


HASLET — Acrid gun smoke clouded the sunny entrance of a Texas church on arecent Sunday.

Seven men wearing heavy vests and carrying pistols loaded with blanks ran toward the sound of the shots, stopping at the end of a long hallway. As one peeked into the foyer, the “bad guy” raised the muzzle of an AR-15, took aim and squeezed the trigger.

The simulated gunfight at the church in Haslet was part of a niche industry that trains civilians to protect their churches using the techniques and equipment of law enforcement. Rather than a bullet, the rifle fired a laser that hit Stephen Hatherley’s vest — triggering an electric shock the 60-year-old Navy veteran later described as a “tingle...”

...The anxiety of one mass shooting after another has led some churches to start training and arming their worshippers with guns. Not all security experts support this approach, but it has gained momentum as congregations across the country grapple with how to secure spaces where welcoming strangers is a religious practice.

“Ten years ago, this industry was not a thing,” said David Rig-gall, a Texas police officer whose company trains churchgoers to volunteer as security guards. “I mean, sanctuary means a safe place.”

In 1993, Doug Walker said security wasn’t at the fore of his mind when, as a recent Baptist seminary graduate, he founded Fellowship of the Parks church in Fort Worth. But six years later, after a gunman killed seven people and took his own life at another church in the Texas city, the pastor said his thinking changed.

Today, the interdenominational church has four campuses and 3,000 worshippers on an average Sunday, Walker said. It has increased security as it has grown, asking off-duty police to carry weapons at church events. And it recently hired Riggall’s company, Sheepdog Defense Group, to train volunteers in first aid, threat assessment, de-escalation techniques, using a gun and tactical skills, such as clearing rooms during an active shooting.

Walker, 51, said there wasn’t a single event that prompted his church to decide its guards needed more training. But Riggall said that after mass shootings, congregations reach out...

...The 46-year-old police officer said that he and a colleague had the idea for the company after the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. They started doing firearms trainings with parents and, after Riggall became certified under Texas law to train security guards, transitioned to churches.

The company incorporates Christian teachings into its courses and more than 90 people at 18 churches have completed the 70 hours of initial training and become state-licensed guards through its program, Riggall said. The so-called sheepdogs are insured and technically employed by the company. But they volunteer doing security at their own churches, which in turn pay Rig-gall.

On a Sunday in July, Brett Faulkner stood with an AR-15 in hand and his back to the cross in the sanctuary of Fellowship of the Parks campus in Haslet, a community about 15 miles north of Fort Worth. He pointed the rifle at a young woman’s back and yelled at the armed men advancing into the room, “I’m going to kill this woman. It’s going to happen right now.”

Faulkner, a 46-year-old information technology worker, already completed a Sheepdog session but came to another church’s to play the bad guy and keep his skills sharp.

“It really just comes down to caring about the people in that building,” Faulkner said of choosing to guard his small Baptist church...

I'm 54 years old, and I remember rifles/shotguns on the back glass of pickup trucks at school and church, not to mention gun clubs at schools. Unfortunately, the world has changed. And houses of worship need to be prepared for the next nut case that comes along. Again, nothing stops a bad guy with a gun but a good guy with a gun. As was shown in Southerland Springs, TX:

...As the gunman exited the church, he was confronted by a local resident who, armed with his own weapon, began firing, prompting the suspect to flee in his vehicle.
“The local citizen pursued him,” said Freeman Martin, a regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, who said the gunman crashed off the road about 11 miles north of the shooting scene and was later found dead there. “We don’t know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him in a gunfight...”

Be sale out there Sheepdogs.

The deliberate weakening of our military...

Lat year I completed Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, he was George W Bush's last Secretary of Defense, and Obama's first. and I recently learned he was the president of the Boy Scouts of America who accepted openly gas members, scoutmasters, and girls in the "Boy" Scouts. As I looked at what became of my former institution (I'm an Eagle Scout, Class of 1982), I was saddened and outraged. When Obama gutted the Army by ten brigades, Mr. Gates just accepted that outrage. General Mattis, upon reaching a breaking point with President Trump, said "No sir, I cannot, in good conscious, go with this decision of yours, you have my resignation..."

Well, one of the other outrages of degrading of our military on other fronts, the greatest opening front line combat branches (e.g infantry, armor) to women. My friend, fellow Army officer, and prolific writer, Mike Ford, has written another great piece for Redstate.com. Enjoy.
Women In Ranger School, The Politicization Of Our Military

There is more fallout from President Obama’s politicization of our Military. In a two part series, The Daily Caller adapted excerpts from decorated veteran, James Hasson’s new book, “Stand Down: How Social Justice Warriors Are Sabotaging America’s Military.”

Part One

Part Two

These excerpts show quite clearly how the standards in the U.S. Army’s premiere combat leadership course, Ranger School, were subverted. This was the result of a desire by senior leaders to force females through the course in order to achieve the goal of “proving” women were “just as good as men” at close combat.

If you recall, 3 years ago this month, the Army graduated its first two females from Ranger School, followed shortly by a third. At the time there were myriad rumors floating around about standards being lowered and the women being given preferential treatment. I had heard some of this third hand and, based on these excerpts, it looks like the rumors were true. However, the only direct evidence I could come up with was a text message “interview” with one of the first graduates as part of my own investigation. In that exchange, she admitted to having been recycled (made to start over) 3 times. This is usually only done because of injury. This officer had been recycled multiple times for failing patrols. The officer was quite candid and I admit a certain respect for anyone who would make 4 back-to-back attempts to get through the course. I squeaked through on my first try…Thank God.

What I was lacking was evidence of command pressure which Hansen provides in his book as the excerpts in the article demonstrate. Hasson also provides an actual copy of Instructor Comments and extracts of text messages going back and forth after one candidate, who clearly should have failed a patrol, got a passing grade for “motivation.” The second article and its extracts show clearly how the chain of command refused to admit command influence through out this investigation and in some cases, may have destroyed evidence requested by Congressional Representatives.

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all, is the degradation of the institution. At the lowest level, it diminishes the value of a Ranger Tab. When Soldiers see the “highly coveted Black and Gold,” on their leaders’ left shoulder, they know he has been through the fire and earned it. That no longer obtains. They know the Army has allowed unqualified officers and now enlisted folks to make it through…all on the altar of political correctness.

Second, is the money. It costs a small fortune to produce a Ranger School graduate who graduates on his first try. Think about the opportunity cost that recycling women multiple times produces. Each of these three initial graduates were recycled 3 times. That’s 9 slots that could have been filled by qualified men—and that’s not even counting the expense of running them through a special preparatory course to identify the less than 20 out of a more than 150 who qualify to even give it a try.

Third, is the fundamentally dishonest reasoning for this charade. This whole debacle has been promoted from the viewpoint and desires of the women—and the women make no bones about it. The whole issue is about promotion opportunities, which of course are more numerous in the combat fields. After all, that’s what the military is for, to kill people and break things…not to morally preen about promotion opportunities for women.

Fourth, not only do Senior Leaders refuse to admit to #3 above, but not one, NOT ONE! Flag Officer or Senior Civilian has even attempted to make the case as to how including women in Special Operations Forces and Close Combat units, enhances the military’s, Lethality, Cost Effectiveness, Sustainability (which means something different than the tree huggers say) Combat Effectiveness, Survivability and a host of other metrics by which we measure the effectiveness of our Armed Forces. The closest to any sort of explanation was by a 4-Star General who told me that we needed to put women through Ranger School and the Special Forces Qualification “Q” Course for two reasons: One, to train the females who interact with Muslim women and, two, to generate the same capability we had during World War II with female OSS operatives.

My answer to that? We did just fine in World Wars I and II, fighting in North Africa, without spending millions to train American females to grope Arab women. As far as women in the OSS, we already have a system to get that capability. It’s called, “The Farm.” There is absolutely no need to totally upend a well functioning system merely to make a political statement.

Finally, there’s the elephant in the room that no one dares point out. Close combat is men’s work. Women in general, are not suited to this type of thing. It requires upper body strength, endurance and aggressiveness…all male attributes. Can certain females, through brute force efforts, be trained to a point where they can compete marginally with the bottom quartile of qualified men? Of course. But that isn’t the point.

It makes no sense to do as the Army did, selecting 150 or so of the “best” women, then putting them through an extensive and expensive preparatory course just, to get them where they could meet the bare minimum standards merely to enter Ranger School. Only 19 of those selectees were able to satisfactorily complete prep course and actually enter a Ranger Class. Of those 19, not one graduated the first time through, nor the second, Eventually, after multiple “recycles” and at the behest of the Commanding General at Fort Benning, the Ranger Training Regiment was able to brute force three women through the course and on to graduation. What are we getting for all of that? Nothing more than some sort of bragging rights, another “glass ceiling” broken and increased promotion opportunities for a handful of women.

Then there is the bio-socio part of this. Infantry squads and platoons are male-centric—they are locker rooms if you will, fueled by testosterone and aggression. They need to be. Close quarters combat isn’t a cerebral exercise where you get points for “trying hard.” Ultimately it means jumping down into an enemy position and sticking a bayonet in his throat. It means as so aptly portrayed in the stairway scene in “Saving Private Ryan,” a brutal, physical fight to the death over a bayonet…the loser dying alone.

For any of you readers out there who wish to believe former President Obama’s absurd statement about bayonets and horses no longer being used, should consult the U.S. Marines who had to retake Fallujah at bayonet point, or the Special Forces Soldiers who took Afghanistan, calling in airstrikes from horseback. No matter how much technology we have, we only end up the victor when U.S Infantrymen stand on our enemy’s territory and force him to surrender…at bayonet point.

Close Combat also involves conquering fear. A big part of conquering that fear, is being part of a male bonded team, a locker room as it were…a place where warriors get pumped up before a big fight…A place where (gasp!) profanity abounds. Combat Arms Squads, Platoons and Companies are close knit organizations. Introducing females into all male these units always degrades morale and teamwork. The Marines did a study on this. All male units consistently out did their all female and mixed sex (yes, it’s “sex” not “gender”) counterparts.

I’m glad Mr Hassen published his book and the Daily Caller, those two sets of excerpts. Take the time to read them.

Mike Ford, is a retired Infantry Officer, and Ranger School Graduate who writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583
The man who swore me in back in 1987 was a Ranger School graduate, and one of the points he made to me was you may come to a point in your career where you cannot abide by a decision. And at that point, you must resign. Then SECDEF Gates started this disaster, but it was handed off to Chuck Hagel and Ash Carter, who continued it on its merry way. I don't know if Trump if the man to un-screw this damage (the end of recruiting transsexuals was a good start), but I shutter to think what would have happened if Mrs. Bill Clinton had one in 2016.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Roll Me Away...at least from work...

I've said more than once I've gotten into motorcycles late in life. I recently rode 4,327 miles over two weeks, and I loved it, rain and all. Riding a motorcycle reminds me of something Reagan said about riding a horse, it clears your mind and lets you see things. I can attest I have done some great thinking while cruising on my Harley Davidson. And I see the wife and I spending a lot of time on a bike in our Golden Years.

With that in mind, and seeing the summer has come to an end, (although it's still as hot as hell in Houston), here is a great song for a long weekend. Bob Seger, Roll Me Away.
Have a great long weekend! Hopefully you no have to labor on Labor Day like I do! :<)

Monday, August 26, 2019

What's going on in the World Today 190826


The new LUSV will build upon the unmanned Sea Hunter, seen here in Portland in 2016

US Navy to build £330m world’s largest robot warship to patrol the most dangerous seas
Jon Rogers

THE US Navy wants to build a fleet of ten robot warships over the next five years.

The huge ships referred to as Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle (LUSV) would function as scouts for the main battle fleet, carrying radar and sonar as well as anti-air and cruise missiles.

Proponents of the ships see the role of the vessels as carrying out “3D work” – dull, dirty and dangerous.

A Draft Request for Proposal, posted on the FedBizOpps website, said: “The LUSV will be a high-endurance, reconfigurable ship able to accommodate various payloads for unmanned missions to augment the Navy’s manned surface force.

“With a large payload capacity, the LUSV will be designed to conduct a variety of warfare operations independently or in conjunction with manned surface combatants...

A Malaysian Rare Earth Processing Plant Looms Large in the U.S.-China Trade Spat


- The extension of Lynas' mining permit removes a key threat to the global supply of rare earths from outside China — at least for now.

- Domestic Malaysian political maneuvering could jeopardize the project, as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad maintains a tenuous hold on his coalition government.

- Additional rare earth processing plants are likely to come online in the coming years, especially if tensions remain high between the United States and China, thereby slowly reducing the significance of the Malaysian facility.

The U.S. Will Find Few Takers in the Western Pacific for Its Missiles


- The United States will continue its efforts to deploy land-based intermediate-range missiles in the western Pacific, including Japan and South Korea.

- China and Russia, however, will explore various avenues to dissuade regional U.S. allies from acceding to Washington's wishes.

- Overall, Washington will have few problems in deploying the missiles in places like Guam, but it will have a hard time convincing foreign allies to host them.

A Cure for Ebola? Two New Treatments Prove Highly Effective in Congo

The therapies saved roughly 90 percent of the patients who were newly infected, a turning point in the decades-long fight against the virus.

By Donald G. McNeil Jr. Aug. 12, 2019

In a development that transforms the fight against Ebola, two experimental treatments are working so well that they will now be offered to all patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, scientists announced on Monday.

The antibody-based treatments are quite powerful — “Now we can say that 90 percent can come out of treatment cured,” one scientist said — and they raise hopes that the disastrous epidemic in eastern Congo can soon be stopped and future outbreaks more easily contained.

Offering patients a real cure “may contribute to them feeling more comfortable about seeking care early,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who joined the World Health Organization and the Congolese government in making the announcement...

Meets to Discuss Recent U.S. Missile Test

What Happened: The U.N. Security Council is meeting at Russia's and China's request on Aug. 22 to discuss a recent U.S. missile test, RFE/RL reported.

Why It Matters: As Russia attempts to raise recent U.S. missile tests and potential deployments on an international stage, it is increasingly coordinating its efforts with China to push back against the United States. Moscow has previously said it would respond to any U.S. missile deployments in Asia and Europe after U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he would like to station ground-based missiles in Asia soon.

Background: The United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on Aug. 2. Washington and Moscow signed the agreement in 1987 to outlaw intermediate-range and short-range ground-based missiles.


Taiwan sharply boosts defense budget amid China tension

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan unveiled its largest defense spending increase in more than a decade on Thursday amid rising military tensions with its giant neighbor China, which considers the self-ruled island its own and has not renounced the use of force against it.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s cabinet signed off on an 8.3% increase in military spending for the year starting January to T$411.3 billion ($13.11 billion), its largest yearly gain since 2008, according to Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

If approved by lawmakers, which is likely given the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s control of parliament, it will be the highest since records started in 2001, data from the statistics agency show...

The Question That Never Gets Asked About Kashmir


- The specter of nuclear war haunts tensions between India and Pakistan, and the disputed territory of Kashmir could provide the spark that lights South Asia’s nuclear fuse.

- With passions again running high in Kashmir, the stakes for the region and the world could not be higher.
- Decades ago, the people of Kashmir were promised a plebiscite that never took place. Will they ever be asked what they want?..








Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military Is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’

A 2011 photo of the People's Liberation Army General Hospital, aka 301 Hospital, a leading institution in Chinese gene-editing research.


Under Beijing's civil-military fusion strategy, the PLA is sponsoring research on gene editing, human performance enhancement, and more.

We may be on the verge of a brave new world indeed. Today’s advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering have exciting applications in medicine — yet also alarming implications, including for military affairs. China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion (军民融合) has highlighted biology as a priority, and the People’s Liberation Army could be at the forefront of expanding and exploiting this knowledge.

The PLA’s keen interest is reflected in strategic writings and research that argue that advances in biology are contributing to changing the form or character (形态) of conflict...


Images show Iran satellite launch looms despite US criticism

By: Jon Gambrell, The Associated Pres

This Aug. 9, 2019, satellite image shows activity at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province. (Planet Labs Inc, Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran appears to be preparing another satellite launch after twice failing this year to put one in orbit, despite U.S. accusations that the Islamic Republic’s program helps it develop ballistic missiles.

Satellite images of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province this month show increased activity at the site, as heightened tensions persist between Washington and Tehran over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

While Iran routinely only announces such launches after the fact, that activity coupled with an official saying a satellite would soon be handed over to the country's Defense Ministry suggests the attempt will be coming soon...

Iran: Released Supertanker Heads East From Gibraltar

- What Happened: The Iranian supertanker Adrian Darya, formerly known as the Grace 1, departed Gibraltar after local authorities rejected a U.S. request to allow it to seize the vessel, the BBC reported Aug. 19. The ship is now heading east and lists Kalamata, Greece, as its destination.

- Why It Matters: While it's possible that the vessel will indeed continue toward Greece as indicated, it's also possible that it could offload its oil cargo to smaller ships either as a means to smuggle the vessel's oil into Syria or remove enough to allow the Adrian Darya to pass through the Suez Canal.

- Background: British Royal Marines seized the vessel as it neared the Mediterranean Sea on July 4 on suspicion that it was planning to take oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Two weeks later, Iran detained the British tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz in what was seen as a retaliatory move.


Why Iraq Could Be the Next Regional Powderkeg


- Israel could be following through on its threats to expand its anti-Iran operations to Iraq amid a number of factors that suggest the country was responsible for a series of explosions at Iran-linked sites in Iraq.

- If Israel does expand into Iraq, the government in Baghdad would strive to prevent their country from becoming another proxy battleground between Israel and Iran.

- However, Iraq's nationalists, pro-Iranian factions, Sunni groups and ordinary citizens would struggle to agree whether to push back against the United States or Iran as a result of Israeli action.
Israeli action in Iraq could also become yet another trigger for a general war between Iran and its regional enemies. But even if it doesn't ignite a war, it would embolden Israel to secure itself against Iran even further afield.

There's plenty of speculation as to who was behind four explosions at Iran-linked sites in Iraq, but no definitive proof. Authorities have yet to conclude that the explosions were all even intentional, but the evidence suggests that either sabotage or airstrikes were involved — and if so, Israel stands at the top of the list of potential culprits. That is leading to suspicions that Israel might be on the verge of expanding its anti-Iran campaign from Syria to Iraq as part of its regional strategy to check the threat of the Islamic republic. But if Israel is considering bringing the fight closer to Iran by expanding its campaign into Iraq, it could find the country far more combustible than even Syria — a quality that would have grave implications for its stalwart American ally and regional peace as a whole...



North Korea’s Koryolink: Built for Surveillance and Control BY: MARTYN WILLIAMS

Eavesdropping and network security were the top concerns of the North Korean government in the months before Koryolink, the country’s current mobile network service, was launched in December 2008, according to minutes of a May 28, 2008 meeting in Kuala Lumpur between engineers from the Korea Posts and Telecommunications Co. (KPTC) and Orascom Telecom which have been seen by 38 North. Despite being a technical-level meeting, the building of sufficient network surveillance capabilities was of such great importance to the regime that even Ri Su Yong (also known as Ri Chol or Ri Tcheul)[1], then the DPRK’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, was in attendance. At that time, it was clear that if the regime was going to attempt reintroducing telecommunications technology to the North Korean people, tight controls were needed to ensure it would not be used in subversive ways. Working together with Chinese technology companies, KPTC and Orascom created one of the most restrictive cellular environments in the world.


The Koryolink service represented a grand plan by North Korea to reinvest in cellular technology after an earlier stumble. The country’s first cellular network started in 2002 but was abruptly closed in 2004, one month after a massive explosion hit a railway station in Ryongchon, leveling most of the town and reportedly killing thousands. Kim Jong Il’s train had traveled through the station hours earlier and a rumor spread that it was an assassination attempt triggered by cell phone. No cause was ever announced publicly but the network closed shortly afterwards. Consequently, for the country to attempt another cellular service, security would be of the utmost importance to the North Korean government...

New South Korean, North Korean Ballistic Missiles Emerge

The Korean Peninsula is a ballistically busy place. South Korea’s Hanwha is offering a road-mobile variant of its new tactical ballistic missile for export, while North Korea unveils a similar weapon and exhibits defense-confounding maneuvers with its KN-23—a capability that Seoul turns out to already have.

Hanwha also says that, apart from the domestic and export versions of the tactical missile, the Korean Tactical Surface-to-Surface Missile (KTSSM), it is working on a ballistic weapon intermediate in size between that missile and the smaller Chunmoo. All three, plus the unguided K136 Guryong unguided rocket, can be launched by the launcher of the Chunmoo system.

The latest North Korean weapon looks like the KTSSM but is apparently larger. Its first test, on Aug. 11, followed a succession of flights by the KN-23, a Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) that is larger than both. In July, the KN-23 demonstrated a pull-up maneuver. The Hyunmoo 2, an SRBM also bigger than the KTSSM and deployed a decade ago, can do the same thing, the government and local media report.

The export variant of KTSSM is the third version. The first version is a test target, its existence disclosed in official photos released in 2016, and the second is the one to be used initially by the Republic of Korea Army. Further improvements are planned, Hanwha executives say, providing introductory information about the system...


Russia's New Arms Give the U.S. Room for Pause


- The recent failure of a Russian Burevestnik missile test highlights the numerous deficiencies in the weapon's development, yet Russia will continue to prioritize the development of the missile and other offensive strategic weapon systems.

- In so doing, Russia will aim to boost its deterrence and negate U.S. missile defense capabilities as much as possible.

- Because the Kremlin has prioritized the operational deployment of some programs — despite the technical challenges they face — the United States will be forced to upgrade its overall missile defense systems and strategic capabilities.

A Mysterious Explosion Took Place in Russia. What Really Happened?

Russia’s catastrophic test of a nuclear-powered missile proves that a new global arms race will mean new nuclear accidents.

BY JEFFREY LEWIS | AUGUST 12, 2019, 12:03 PM

On Thursday, Aug. 8, Russian authorities issued a surprising announcement. Some sort of accident had occurred during a test of a missile engine near the city of Severodvinsk, along Russia’s Arctic coast. Two people died, and there had been a brief spike in radiation detected. Soon after, images and videos appeared on social media of first responders in hazmat suits, ambulances, and a helicopter for an emergency airlift.

The reference to radiation was striking—tests of missile engines don’t involve radiation. Well, with one exception: Last year, Russia announced it had tested a cruise missile powered by a nuclear reactor. It calls this missile the 9M730 Burevestnik. NATO calls it the SSC-X-9 Skyfall.

Powered By

A nuclear-powered cruise missile is an outrageous idea, one the United States long ago considered and rejected as a technical, strategic, and environmental nightmare. Vladimir Putin’s Russia, though, thinks differently. My colleagues and I at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies—who regularly use open-source tools to monitor the state of nuclear proliferation around the world—wondered if something had gone wrong with the Skyfall. We soon discovered there was good reason to believe so.

The first thing we did was attempt to locate where the incident had occurred. Many of the reports pointed to a missile test site at a place called Nenoksa, about 18 miles up the coast from Severodvinsk. Our assumption was that the accident had occurred at the Nenoksa Missile Test Center. The facility is no secret: It is well documented in declassified intelligence reports and even marked on open-source platforms such as Wikimapia. The test center has been there since the 1960s—and, from satellite images, looks every year of its age.

But when we looked more closely at the site, we were surprised to find something new. To tell you what we saw, I have to tell you a little more about the Skyfall...

Russia: Moscow to Strengthen Military Presence in Eastern Region, Defense Minister Says

What Happened: Russia will form a mixed air division and an anti-aircraft missile brigade in the country's eastern military district, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Tass reported Aug. 21. Shoigu accused the United States of attempting to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific and undermining Russian and Chinese positions in Southeast Asia.

Why It Matters: Shoigu's comments come as the United States is planning to increase its military footprint in the western Pacific following the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — an act that would most likely trigger a Russian response. With Moscow increasing its military cooperation with Beijing, a more substantial U.S. security presence will drive China and Russia to explore additional areas of coordination.

Background: On Aug. 5, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow would take measures to defend itself if the United States deploys missiles to the Asian theater.


Iran: Zarif to Reportedly Visit Kuwait, Reports Say

- What Happened: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will reportedly visit Kuwait on Aug. 17, Mehr news agency reported Aug. 16.

- Why It Matters: Among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar retain relatively close ties with Iran, and Zarif could use a trip to Kuwait to deliver a message for the Saudi government.

- Background: The visit, if confirmed, would mark Zarif's second trip to a GCC member state within a short period after he visited Qatar on Aug. 12 as part of Tehran's strategy to showcase its commitment to reducing regional tensions.

Yemen: Houthi Rebels Shoot Down U.S. MQ-9 Drone

What Happened: Houthi rebels have shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone in the southern Yemeni province of Dhale, Houthi-affiliated Al Masirah TV reported Aug. 21, citing the group's military spokesman. Two anonymous U.S. officials later confirmed the incident to Reuters and Voice of America.

Why It Matters: The second successful downing of a U.S. MQ-9 drone in Yemen in two months highlights the Houthi rebels' improving military capabilities, as well as ongoing support from Iran in targeting U.S. assets in the region. The U.S. Central Command already warned of the Houthis' growing strike capabilities after the group destroyed a U.S. drone in June.

Background: Iran continues to support Houthi rebel forces in the Yemen civil war to push back against U.S. and Saudi interests in the region. Direct attacks against U.S. assets by Houthi forces are likely an attempt by the group and its Iranian backers to draw the United States more deeply into the conflict.

Read More:


U.S. Cyber Command warns of North Korea-linked Lazarus Group malware

Written by Shannon Vavra

Malicious software samples uploaded by U.S. Cyber Command to VirusTotal on Wednesday are associated with campaigns from Lazarus Group, an advanced persistent threat group linked with North Korea, two cybersecurity researchers told CyberScoop.

Lazarus is an umbrella name that typically describes hacking activity which advances Pyongyang’s interests. The group is especially known for its financial motivations, such as abusing the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) monetary transfer system and for hacking banks, according to Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike. The instance Wednesday marks the second time in as many months Cyber Command added malware details to the VirusTotal security repository as part of an information sharing effort with the private sector...

New Army cyber warfare units seriously undermanned, GAO says

By: Kyle Rempfer  

The Army’s multi-domain operations doctrine hinges on effective cyber and electronic warfare threats to compete against adversaries like China and Russia.

The service is taking the shift in doctrine seriously and formed new cyber and electronic warfare units. However, it did not fully assess the risk of activating some units at an accelerated pace and now has challenges with staffing, equipping and training, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

Some of these new units are being activated before cyber training and equipment have been updated and they remain short on personnel, as the competition with the private sector for in-demand cyber skills is very high, the congressional watchdog agency said...


South Korea, Japan: An Intelligence Pact's End Carries More Symbolic Than Practical Effect

The Big Picture

South Korea and Japan form the backbone of U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific. But South Korea's hard-line stance on Japan's wartime legacy and Japan's retaliatory trade restrictions have deepened their rifts. Now, South Korea has taken the step of terminating an intelligence-sharing pact that had enhanced U.S.-led security efforts in the region.

What Happened
With the Japan-South Korea relationship deteriorating amid a small trade war, Seoul has moved to downgrade its intelligence relationship with its fellow U.S. ally. On Aug. 22, South Korea announced that it will terminate its bilateral intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement, citing Japan's early August removal of South Korea from a national security export "white list." The pact will expire on Nov. 24...


The Mark of a Terrorist Is Behavior, Not Ideology
By Scott Stewart, VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor


- Terrorism is a tactic used by radical extremists of many different ideologies, which means there is no fixed ethnic, religious or gender profile for what a "terrorist" looks like.

- But while their motives may vary, all would-be attackers are still bound to generally follow the same attack cycle. Thus, tactics used to disrupt terrorism of one strain can also be successfully used against others.

- Combating terrorism, however, is not just the responsibility of the government but of society at large. "See something, say something" works, which is why the public must be educated on how to spot activities associated with the terrorist attack cycle.

The Las Vegas Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested a 23-year-old man Aug. 8 who was allegedly plotting to attack Jewish houses of worship and bars frequented by the LGBTQ community in the city. In 2017, he began to frequent websites peddling a narrative that people who shared his extremist views were under attack. And as he began to relate to that narrative, he started frequenting online forums and social media groups that peddled even more radical messages that contained urgent and overt calls for violence. This eventually mobilized him to gather bombmaking materials and firearms, as well as establish contact with like-minded individuals to discuss potential targets and attack tactics. But little did he know that the co-conspirators he thought were his allies were actually undercover FBI agents who had been monitoring his online activity...

Identifying Potential Hypersonics Winners And Losers
The U.S. is setting a few hypersonics markers; bettors are stepping up
Aug 13, 2019 Michael Bruno | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Some on Wall Street may look down on defense prime contractors as subpar investments, but you can say one thing about the government: It’s a pretty easygoing customer that practically always pays its bills on time. That is one reason why it is so exciting—relatively speaking—when a big spender like the Pentagon announces a major new initiative such as hypersonic weapons.

But where do you invest? Which prime, supplier or upstart is better than another? Thanks to a new report from Cowen and Co., investors have new opinions about where to put their bets. The answer: Raytheon, then Lockheed, and likely Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJR) too. And for now, not Boeing—but do not write the company off...

Visualizing the Commodity Super Cycle

By Nicholas LePan, for Visual Capitalist

As more people and wealth translate into the demand for global goods, the prices of commodities—such as energy, agriculture, livestock, and metals—have often followed in sync.

This cycle, which tends to coincide with extended periods of industrialization and modernization, helps in telling a story of human development.

Why are Commodity Prices Cyclical?

Commodity prices go through extended periods during which prices are well above or below their long-term price trend. There are two types of swings in commodity prices: upswings and downswings.

Many economists believe that the upswing phase in super cycles results from a lag between unexpected, persistent, and positive trends to support commodity demand with slow-moving supply, such as the building of a new mine or planting a new crop. Eventually, as adequate supply becomes available and demand growth slows, the cycle enters a downswing phase.While individual commodity groups have their own price patterns, when charted together they form extended periods of price trends known as "Commodity Super Cycles" where there is a recognizable pattern across major commodity groups...

Friday, August 23, 2019

It's the end of the week...need a good movie.

My wife and I may go to three movies a year. The cost is ridiculous, and there is not much we want to watch. But I gotta say, this may be interesting. Tom Cruise revising his role in Top Gun, here is the official trailer.

With that in mind, I've had this stuck in my brain for at least two weeks. But it's still an awesome song, Berlin, Take My Breath Away, the love theme to Top Gun.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, August 19, 2019

What's going on in the World Today 190819



White House Is Pressing for Additional Options, Including Cyberattacks, to Deter Iran

WASHINGTON — American intelligence and military officers are working on additional clandestine plans to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, pushed by the White House to develop new options that could help deter Tehran without escalating tensions into a full-out conventional war, according to current and former officials.

The goal is to develop operations similar to the cyberattacks conducted on Thursday and that echo the shadow war the United States has accused Tehran of carrying out with attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East, according to American officials briefed on the effort. Iran maintains that it was not responsible for the attacks on the tankers.

The cyberattacks were aimed at an Iranian intelligence group that American officials believe was behind a series of attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf region. The American operation was intended to take down the computers and networks used by the intelligence group, at least temporarily. A separate online operation was aimed at taking out computers that control Iranian missile launches.

The White House has told military and intelligence officials it also now wants options in line with the kind of operations conducted by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the officials said...

New Designs Vault Scramjets Into Lead In Hypersonic Race

Raytheon is “very close” to flying a scramjet-powered missile codeveloped with Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and attempting to revive the near-term prospects for a hypersonic technology that once appeared eclipsed by an emerging class of winged gliders boosted by rockets to double-digit Mach speeds.

Attempts to design a supersonic combustion ramjet—also known as a scramjet—have achieved only limited success in experimental flight tests stretching back decades. But the Raytheon/Northrop team’s new approach to an operationally viable missile that relies on a relatively low-risk, all-metallic design and an additively manufactured scramjet engine designed by Northrop (formerly ATK) has inspired confidence based on wind-tunnel tests and simulations.

Schedule details remain classified for the Defense Department’s three-pronged, $10 billion campaign to field multiple hypersonic weapons over the next five years, but Raytheon’s perspective now is that scramjets finally are poised to leap slightly ahead of the winged-glider alternative...




Philippines On Alert Amid Warnings Of New Islamic State-Linked Group In North

Philippine security officials have been placed on heightened alert following a report that a group allied to the Islamic State (IS) was targeting churches and establishments for bomb attacks in the north, officials said Tuesday. … a group calling itself Suyuful Khilafa Fi Luzon (SKFL) was scouting for targets to make its presence felt in an area where IS-linked groups are not known to operate. …. Little is known about the group, but loosely translated, its name means “soldiers of the caliphate in Luzon.” Most of its members were once allied with the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), the sources said.




Two more border cities added to U.S.-Mexico asylum program: sources

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S.-bound asylum seekers will be sent back to at least two additional Mexican border cities later this week to wait for their claims to be processed, officials said, with one of the cities in a region that is among Mexico’s most chaotic and violent.

Central American migrants get off a raft after crossing the Suchiate river from Tecun Uman, in Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, as seen from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, June 9, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
The policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or Remain in Mexico, will be implemented later this week in Nuevo Laredo in the northern state of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, said two Mexican officials with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified...






Iran using GPS jammers, pretend to be American warships to trick vessels, US says

Iranian forces are actively using GPS jammers and pretending to be U.S. or allies’ warships to trick commercial vessels into traveling through Iranian waters and then seizing them, federal government officials say. The US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration released a warning Wednesday, claiming Iran is using “GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning...”

Iran unveils 'upgraded missile defence system' - Gulf tensions

Iran unveiled a new air defence system it says is capable of detecting missiles and drones at a range of 400 kilometres (250 miles)…. The "Falagh" is a locally overhauled version of the imported "Gamma" surveillance radar, the semi-official news agency said, in an apparent reference to a Russian-made system of that name. It had been inoperable due to "sanctions, lack of spare parts and the inability of foreign engineers to carry out repairs", it added.


Iran says it will break the uranium stockpile limit agreed under nuclear deal in 10 days

(CNN)Iran is ramping up enrichment of low-grade uranium and will pass the limit it is allowed to stockpile under the nuclear deal in 10 days, a spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency announced Monday.

During a news conference at the Arak heavy water reactor facility, Behrouz Kamalvandi said that Iran had increased low enriched uranium production fourfold and would exceed the limit of 300 kilograms by June 27, in the latest blow to the nuclear deal agreed between Tehran and world powers in 2015.

"If Iran feels that the sanctions have been reinstated or not lifted, Iran has the right to partly or on the whole suspend its commitments," Kamalvandi said, referring to sanctions that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal but have since been reinstated by the US. The Trump administration withdrew from the pact in May 2018.

However, he said, there was still time for European countries to save the nuclear deal if they "abide by their commitments."

After exceeding the limit, Iran will accelerate uranium enrichment to 3.7%, Kamalvandi said -- above the 3.67% mandated by the nuclear deal. Enrichment at this percentage is enough to continue powering parts of the country's energy needs, but not enough to ever build a nuclear bomb...




The North Korean Economy—June 2019: Kim Jong Un’s Reforestation Plans: The Dilemma of Forests Versus Food and Fuel

North Korea’s environmental problems have not garnered nearly as much attention as its nuclear and missile programs, signature construction projects or vague commitments to improving the economy, but it is an area that has seen the most interesting developments under Kim Jong Un’s tenure.[1]

Deforestation is a massive problem in the country as the lack of trees contributes to flooding during the annual rainy season. Much more so than his predecessors, Kim has put a spotlight on the problem and more frankly described its systemic causes as he wrestles with a basic dilemma: deforestation occurred largely because of an economic crisis whose root causes remain unresolved. People cut down trees for fuel and firewood, and to clear land for farming. As long as the lack of food and fuel persists, Kim’s reforestation plans will be very difficult to implement...

Toward a Better Understanding of North Korea’s Cyber Operations

The cybersecurity capabilities of the North Korean government are certainly more advanced than a country with such a small economy would traditionally field and should not be underestimated. The commitment of the regime to acquire cybersecurity capacities is consistent with its broader efforts to pursue disruptive technologies such as nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry. While it is assumed that much of the information on North Korea’s cyber capabilities is classified, there is a large amount on their attacks in the public domain, making it relatively easy to unpack and discuss these capabilities abilities (also known as the Lazarus Group, APT37 or Hidden Cobra). A careful reading of this information suggests that while North Korean cyber operations are broadly reported and studied, they are often treated separately from other issues on the peninsula, increasing the risk that decision makers will produce an incomplete analysis of the strategic environment...


Russia deploys anti-ship missile system near Norway border

A Russian coastal anti-ship missile system was moved to a new location on the Sredny Peninsula late Wednesday, a short distance from its border with Norway and Finland on the Barents Sea. More than 60 military personnel and 15 units of military hardware were moved into the new position on the Barents coast, Russia's Northern Fleet said. Moscow plans firing exercises with the Bal coastal missile system this fall.

Russia Says Its Jets Drove Off NATO Warplane

Russia's Defense Ministry has said that Russian Su-27 warplanes forced away a NATO F-18 jet after it approached an aircraft carrying Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over international waters. The TASS news agency on August 13 reported that Shoigu’s plane was flying from Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad to Moscow when the incident occurred over the Baltic Sea.




DHS CISA warns of Iranian hackers' habit of deploying data-wiping malware

CISA also warns against other Iranian hackers' favorite techniques: password spraying, credential stuffing, spear-phishing.

The Department of Homeland Security's cyber-security agency is warning of increased cyber-activity from Iranian hackers, and urging US companies to take protective measures against these hacker groups' most common practices -- the use of data-wiping malware, credential stuffing attacks, password spraying, and spear-phishing.

The warning was published in a tweet by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs.

The CISA alert comes as Iranian hackers launched new waves of cyber-attacks against US targets following escalating tensions between the US and Iran, according to a CBS News report.

The US has responded to these Iranian cyber-attacks with a volley of its own, per a Yahoo News report...

FBI wants to monitor Facebook and Instagram for domestic threats in real time

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has quietly been searching for private contractors who could gather and feed to law enforcement tremendous amounts of user data straight from social media platforms such as Twitter (TWTR), Facebook (FB) and Instagram. The U.S. government needs "real-time access to a full range of social media exchanges" to better fight terrorist groups and domestic threats, the FBI said in its request for bids, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. But the FBI's effort to gain far-reaching visibility into the social media activities of both Americans and foreigners risks clashing with other parts of the federal government that have sought to clamp down on Silicon Valley for data breaches, privacy violations, and other cases in which user information was shared without consent...


FBI wants to monitor Facebook and Instagram for domestic threats in real time

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has quietly been searching for private contractors who could gather and feed to law enforcement tremendous amounts of user data straight from social media platforms such as Twitter (TWTR), Facebook (FB) and Instagram. The U.S. government needs "real-time access to a full range of social media exchanges" to better fight terrorist groups and domestic threats, the FBI said in its request for bids, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. But the FBI's effort to gain far-reaching visibility into the social media activities of both Americans and foreigners risks clashing with other parts of the federal government that have sought to clamp down on Silicon Valley for data breaches, privacy violations, and other cases in which user information was shared without consent.

Saudi forces say they have captured leader of Yemen branch of Islamic State - Reuters

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi special forces have captured the leader of the Yemeni branch of the Islamic State militant group, the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen said on Tuesday.

The leader, Abu Osama al-Muhajer, as well as other members of the organization including its chief financial officer, were captured on June 3 in a raid on a house carried out by Saudi and Yemeni forces, the coalition said in a statement carried on Saudi state news agency SPA.



From Cold War Space Race To Evolving ‘Moon Village’

After he went to Mars, Andy Weir went to the Moon. The acclaimed science fiction author followed up The Martian, a novel of human exploration on the red planet, with a high-concept tale of men and women living and working on Earth’s huge natural satellite. It is no coincidence that NASA chose his title—Artemis—as the name for its new effort to return humans to the lunar surface 50 years after Apollo 11.

In Greek mythology, Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister, a huntress associated with wildlife, the wilderness and the Moon itself. As China, India and a host of private companies target the Moon for exploration and exploitation, the U.S. space agency is pitching a 37-mission effort to put the first woman on the surface by 2024. NASA’s bosses in the White House want to plant the American flag on the rim of a deep polar crater at the Moon’s south pole, potentially staking a claim to the frozen reservoir of water believed to lie in its permanently shadowed depths.

The concept remains unfunded by the currently dysfunctional U.S. government and probably will not happen—at least not as outlined and certainly not in five years. Like military organizations preparing to fight the last war, NASA’s Artemis program is a throwback to the superpower space race of the 1960s. Then, competing teams of U.S. and Soviet engineers enjoyed almost unlimited access to public resources in the hope their side would cross the lunar finish line first...

...Today, humankind’s return to the Moon is likely to require a very different kind of leadership. The job of planting a colony there will be too big for any one nation to develop and fund and too complex for a single master designer to oversee. The evolution of a Moon base will be much more organic, and evolutionary, than a one-off engineering feat on the model of Apollo. Weir’s fictional vision is more likely a foreshadowing of what comes next than a rehash of what has been...

Friday, August 16, 2019

Yes, I've been off the net for a while...

But at least I had a great vacation.

Was riding my Harley up the East Coast, got sun burned all to hell, but it was fun. All in all 13 days, 13 hours, 4327.9 miles, and 14 states.
Starting to post again, thought this would be good for the end of the week. Hope you have a great weekend. And damn, The Sopranos has been off for 12 years!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Officer Down

Lieutenant Steven Whitstine
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana
End of Watch Thursday, May 30, 2019
Age 42
Tour 17 years

Lieutenant Steven Whitstine was killed in an automobile crash on Port Hudson-Pride Road, between Munson Drive and Pin Oak Lane, in Zachary at about 6:30 am.

He was en route to the sheriff's office when his patrol car left the roadway, struck a tree, and overturned. He suffered fatal injuries as a result of the collision. His canine partner suffered minor injuries and was treated at a local veterinarian.

Lieutenant Whitstine had served with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office for eight years and had previously served with the Baker Police Department for nine years. He is survived by his wife and 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. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Officer Down

Lieutenant Joseph Johnson
Seminole Police Department, Tribal Police
End of Watch Thursday, May 30, 2019
Age 64
Tour 41 years
Badge 236
Incident Date Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Lieutenant Joe Johnson was killed in a vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 27, near John Stretch Memorial Park, in Palm Beach County.

He was driving between two Seminole Indian Reservations at 10:20 pm when his vehicle left the roadway and overturned into an adjacent canal. Rescue personnel removed him from the vehicle and transported him to St. Mary's Medical Center where he passed away shortly after midnight.

Lieutenant Johnson was a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and had served with the Seminole Police Department for 10 years. He had previously served with the Collier County Sheriff's Office for 26 years and the Hendry County Sheriff's Office for five years. He is survived by his wife, two children, three grandchildren, and three siblings.
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.