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

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...

No comments:

Post a Comment