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

Monday, March 30, 2020

Officer Down

Sergeant Joseph Brian Montijo
Chattanooga Police Department, Tennessee
End of Watch Friday, November 1, 2019
Age 49
Tour 20 years
Badge 1059
Cause Heart attack
Incident Date Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sergeant Joe Montijo died as the result of a complication of heat exhaustion sustained on September 12th, 2019, while processing a crime scene in the 3900 block of Dahlia Street.

He was exposed to high temperatures and high humidity for several hours while processing the outdoor homicide scene. He was transported to the hospital from the scene after he began to exhibit symptoms of heatstroke. He was treated and released from the hospital but continued to experience health issues as a result of the heatstroke.

On November 1st, 2019, he called 911 after suffering additional health issues and was transported to the hospital in cardiac arrest. He died a short time later.

Sergeant Montijo had served with the Chattanooga Police Department for 12 years and had previously served with the Los Angeles, California, Police Department for eight years. He is survived by his wife, two children, mother, and three sisters.
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 200330



First Mission For U.S. Space Force Lifts Off Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Irene Klotz March 26, 2020

CAPE CANAVERAL—A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS on March 26 to deliver the sixth and final member of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) secure communications satellite network into orbit for the U.S. and allies’ national security agencies.

The 20-story rocket, outfitted with five side-mounted solid rocket boosters provided by Northrop Grumman, lifted off at 4:18 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41. The launch was delayed 1-hr., 21 min. to resolve a problem with ground support equipment.

AEHF-6 is the first payload to fly for the newly designed U.S. Space Force, though the official renaming of the Cape Canaveral launch base has been postponed due to personnel restrictions and work reassignments stemming from COVID-19 restrictions...

Kirtland Airman Found with Arsenal

A U.S. airman assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base is in federal custody after military investigators searching his KAFB residence found a cache of 17 firearms, two silencers, large amounts of ammunition, bomb-making instructions and photos of rifle magazines with the names of mass shooters written on them.... Justice formally has been charged with possessing a silencer and unlawful importation of a firearm -- the silencer he allegedly ordered from a Chinese company. The photographs found on his cellphone showed the names of mass shooters written on white ink on AR-15 compatible magazines. Included among the names were Alexandre Bissonette, who shot and killed several people at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada, and Luca Traini, who targeted African migrants in Italy


AFRICOM Tells VOA: US Kills 15 al-Shabab Terrorists in Latest Somalia Airstrikes

U.S. airstrikes in Somalia this week killed more than 15 al-Shabab terrorists who were battling African Union and Somali forces, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman Major Karl Wiest told VOA on Friday. The militants posed an “imminent threat” to international forces who, according to a U.S. defense official, have now secured the town of Janaale in the country’s Lower Shabelle region and are building a forward operating base there.

JNIM kills dozens in Mali base attack

Over the weekend, al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) claimed Thursday’s deadly raid on a Malian army base in the northern town of Tarkint in the Gao region. According to Malian officials, at least 29 soldiers were killed in the attack while another 5 were wounded. French outlet RFI reported that the raid progressed under JNIM’s usual modus operandi. Dozens of jihadists arriving on motorcycles and other vehicles targeted the base from three directions before overwhelming the base.

MNJTF repels terrorists attack, kills 48 Boko Haram insurgents [Niger]

The Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) have successfully repelled a Boko Haram terrorists attack - The MNJTF is a combined multinational military formation from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria ... is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency ... Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) have successfully repelled a Boko Haram terrorists attack at Tumour in Niger Republic. Legit.ng gathered that during the attack, 48 terrorists were killed while four others were captured by the gallant troops

Mozambique jihadists seize key town in Cabo Delgado

Islamist insurgents have seized control of a key town in northern Mozambique, close to where foreign companies are working on a $60bn (£52bn) natural gas project. The militants staged an overnight attack on Mocimboa de Praia, taking a military base and raising their flag, police said. The army and police have launched a counter-offensive, police added. This is the first time Mozambican jihadists have attacked a major town.




France pulls military out of Iraq amid virus concerns

French President Emmanuel Macron visits a military field hospital on March 25, 2020. (Mathieu Cugnot/Pool via AP)
France is pulling out its military forces from Iraq as French forces are increasingly called upon to help fight the coronavirus at home.

The chief of staff of the French armed forces said in a statement Wednesday night that France is suspending its anti-terrorism training operations in Iraq and also bringing home its Iraq-based troops involved in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group...




Gunmen in Afghanistan kill 25 at Sikh complex, Islamic State claims responsibility
Abdul Qadir Sediqi

KABUL (Reuters) - Gunmen and suicide bombers raided a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing 25 people before security forces killed all of the attackers, the government said.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying it was revenge for India’s treatment of Muslims in its portion of Kashmir and threatening further attacks.

Sikhs have been targeted by Islamist militants in South Asia before. Their community in Afghanistan numbers fewer than 300 families.

Several hours after the early morning attack began, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said an operation by the security forces was over and all attackers had been killed. He did not say how many.

The ministry said 25 people in the religious compound had been killed, eight wounded and 80 rescued...


South China Sea Tensions: China Ups the Ante With Anti-Submarine Air Drills

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed military aircraft to conduct an anti- submarine drill over the South China Sea, according to a report issued Friday by the PLA Navy. The timing of the drill indicates that the moves could be a response to a four-day exercise the U.S. staged the previous week involving the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, the America Expeditionary Strike Group, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. It also comes at a time when China is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic that began in Wuhan and spread globally at a rapid pace.

China Is Trying to Rewrite The Present
Beijing’s propaganda blitz seeks to obscure the origins of the coronavirus.

Louisa LimMarch 23, 2020, 6:19 PM
A street hairdresser cuts the hair of a customer as he wears a protective facemask as prevention for the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in-front of a propaganda poster on a street in Beijing on February 26, 2020.
A street hairdresser cuts the hair of a customer as he wears a protective facemask as prevention for the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in-front of a propaganda poster on a street in Beijing on February 26, 2020. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images
China’s Communist Party has long excelled at rewriting its own history, but with its latest propaganda blitz on the novel coronavirus, it’s rewriting the present. And while the traditional revisionism has largely been aimed at a domestic audience, this time it has a global one in mind. Beijing is attempting to gaslight the world as it escalates its propaganda push to obscure the source of the disease. Yet the real significance of this campaign is that it represents Beijing’s first truly international propaganda offensive and a new front line in the global information war...


Iran: Leaders Hold Televised National Addresses Amid Escalating COVID-19 Crisis

What Happened: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif each hailed the sacrifices Iranians were making amid the COVID-19 outbreak in separate televised addresses on the advent of the New Persian Year, Fars News Agency reported March 20. Zarif’s address, in particular, was in English and included a plea for other countries to help fight against U.S. sanctions to ensure Iran could access the funding and medical equipment needed to contain the virus.

Why It Matters: For Iranians, seeing that the country's leaders remain in good health amid Iran's escalating COVID-19 crisis was no doubt reassuring, especially given that a handful of the country's politicians have so far died from the virus. Quarantine efforts to contain the outbreak have significantly impacted Iran's new year celebrations, which typically span several days and involve large public gatherings. Such measures also risk exacerbating the country's already fragile economic situation due to U.S. sanctions.

Background: Alongside Italy, Iran has experienced one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks outside of China. Despite international pressure, the United States has refused to back off its maximum pressure sanctions campaign against Iran, and even issued new sanctions earlier this week.

U.S. imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions despite coronavirus

Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States blacklisted five Iran- and Iraq-based companies and 15 individuals on Thursday for supporting terrorist groups, its third round of sanctions on Iranian targets in the last two weeks even as Tehran battles the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department accused those targeted of supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm and of transferring lethal aid to Iran-backed militias in Iraq such as Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, all of which Washington deems foreign terrorist organizations...


As Attacks in Iraq Increase, U.S.-Led Coalition Forces Retreat

What Happened

On March 19, the official Iraqi Security Media Cell announced via Twitter that Iraq's security forces had taken over the al Qaim military base, which formerly housed U.S.-led coalition forces against the Islamic State. The seizure comes just three days after the U.S. military announced it was repositioning its forces from three of the eight bases currently housing American troops in the country, including al Qaim. The United Kingdom also announced that it, too, was pulling out half of its 400 troops participating in the U.S.-led coalition, and has since paused its coalition training mission for 60 days. Denmark, meanwhile, has announced that it would be completely withdrawing its forces from the coalition..




North Korea Fires Short-Range Ballistic Missiles, South Says

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday in the country’s third weapons test this month, the South Korean military said. The missiles were fired from the county of Sonchon in North Pyongan Province in the northwest, flying 255 miles to the northeast before landing in waters between North Korea and Japan, South Korean defense officials said. They provided no other details, such as the specific type of missiles launched, as they were still analyzing data collected from the test.




Gaza confirms first coronavirus cases as West Bank shuts down

Arrival of Covid-19 raises fears about how besieged territory’s health system will cope

Harriet SherwoodLast modified on Sun 22 Mar 2020 23.58 EDT

The first two cases of Covid-19 in Gaza have been confirmed, raising fears about how the besieged territory’s overstretched health system will cope if the virus spreads through its population of 2 million.

In the West Bank, Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Palestinian prime minister ordered people to stay at home for two weeks from Sunday night in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, with exemptions for medical personnel, pharmacists, grocers and bakers. People will be allowed out to shop for food.

The two Gaza cases are men aged 79 and 63 who returned to Gaza from Pakistan via Egypt at the weekend. They were placed in quarantine in the town of Rafah on Gaza’s border with Egypt. Officials said that all those who had been in contact with the pair had also been quarantined...


Russia deploying coronavirus disinformation to sow panic in West, EU document says

Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document.... The Kremlin denied the allegations on Wednesday, saying they were unfounded and lacked common sense. The EU document said the Russian campaign, pushing fake news online in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French, uses contradictory, confusing and malicious reports to make it harder for the EU to communicate its response to the pandemic.


Espionage trial for Paul Whelan to begin next week in Russia

Kristen Jordan ShamusUpdated 1:23 a.m. ET March 21, 2020

The espionage trial of a Michigan businessman in Russia is set to begin at 11 a.m. Monday before a panel of three judges in Moscow City Court, his English-speaking lawyer, Olga Karlova, told the Free Press.

Paul Whelan, 50, of Novi has been held in a Russian prison since December 2018. The Federal Security Service (FSB) alleges it caught Whelan on a spy mission. It found a flash drive in his hotel room that allegedly contained classified information.

Whelan, a former Marine who worked in global security for auto parts supplier BorgWarner, said traveled to Russia to attend the wedding of a friend, and insists he is not a spy...


Pakistani Doctor Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS

a federal criminal complaint against Muhammad Masood, 28, charging him with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. ...According to the allegations in the complaint, Masood, a licensed medical doctor in Pakistan, was formerly employed as a Research Coordinator for a medical clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, under an H- 1B Visa. Between January 2020 and March 2020, Masood made several statements to others, including pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) and its leader, and expressing his desire to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS. Masood also expressed his desire to conduct “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in the United States. On Feb. 21, 2020, Masood purchased a plane ticket from Chicago, Illinois to Amman, Jordan, and from there planned to travel to Syria. On March 16, 2020, Masood’s travel plans changed because Jordan closed its borders to incoming travel due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Masood made a new plan to fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to meet up with an individual who he believed would assist him with travel via cargo ship to deliver him to ISIS territory.

U.S.: FBI Agents Kill Extremist Plotting to Bomb Hospital Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Mar 26, 2020 | 20:28 GMT

What Happened: FBI agents have killed an extremist who was plotting to use a car bomb to blow up a hospital in Missouri amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Washington Post reported March 26. Unconfirmed reports indicate the individual had ties to several neo-Nazi groups.

Why It Matters: This marks the first terrorist bombing plot against a health facility in a Western country amid the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights that extremists are, in fact, attempting to exploit the outbreak to inflict more chaos. This raises the possibility for copying terrorist attacks against hospitals or medical facilities, either with car bombs or using more readily available weapons, which could have an outsized impact on the fight against the virus.

Background: Extremists of numerous stripes have celebrated the outbreak of the COVID-19 and called for their fellow adherents to carry out attacks and exploit the chaos. There has also been a noted increase in cyber attacks targeting the World Health Organization and hospitals.


When Contingency Plans for Pandemics and Other Disasters Encounter Reality

Scott Stewart
Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Mar 24, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
An empty office. Government measures intended to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted the operations of companies and organizations across the globe.
An empty office. Government measures intended to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted the operations of companies and organizations across the globe.
(Monkey Business Images/SHUTTERSTOCK)
Organizations that have properly planned and prepared for a disaster have a great advantage over those that have not when disaster strikes.
When contingency plans encounter reality, things will inevitably unfold differently from scenarios used to create contingency plans, so flexibility and creativity will be needed to adapt responses.
Crisis management personnel who are adaptable, flexible and creative in finding solutions to the many problems and challenges that inevitably will surface during a crisis will build much credibility and trust.
Government measures intended to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted the operations of companies and organizations across the globe. These measures are interrupting or ending business travel, impacting the ability of employees to work together in offices, and complicating and even severing supply chains. Globally, entire industries have nearly ground to a halt, many businesses are shuttered and millions of people are out of work. Because of these conditions, the next few months are going to be extremely difficult for anyone attempting to conduct operations — especially transnationally. In fact, for many of us, this period may very well prove the most challenging of our careers...

Officials warn of fake checks, other scams taking advantage of outbreak

...With the recent announcement that the federal government plans to send out checks to Americans financially affected by the virus, the Better Business Bureau says everyone should be wary of scams ... BBB ... has already received reports of imposters calling about the checks. Residents should be wary of any messages they receive or posts they see on social media claiming to be from the government. The bureau said these scammers are tricking residents into giving out their personal information in order to receive $1,000. Additionally, the Inspector General of Social Security says some residents are also receiving notices claiming social security benefits are being suspended due to office closures. Officials say this is not the case, and any message suggesting such is a scam as Well.

COVID-19: How Pandemics Disrupt Military Operations

Sim Tack, Global Analyst , Stratfor Mar 25, 2020


- Measures to contain and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic could significantly impact global military readiness for at least the next several months.

- Even though immediate disruptions to military operations will be temporary, the economic stress resulting from the pandemic could yield long-term setbacks in development programs.

-The potential impact from COVID-19 provides a general template of how future pandemics could affect military capabilities and activites, albeit with different timelines and severity of impact depending on the disease.

Amid the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world are facing widespread disruptions to not only the health of their populations and economies, but their militaries. Even if the virus itself doesn't leave key personnel severely ill (or worse), quarantine measures can still severely thwart military operations. Meanwhile, military powers such as the United States may increasingly be forced to deploy additional forces to the frontlines of unfolding COVID-19 outbreaks at home. The resulting fallout could, in turn, result in setbacks in the fight against multiple non-state actors abroad, and potentially even the long-term development of military capabilities...

Friday, March 27, 2020

Don't Fear the Reaper....

But love the Cowbells

I'm in a morbid mood as we are going out of our mind on Coronavirus. I don't question, it's a legitimate threat to the health and life of certain select groups (older people, the very young, people with other medical issues regarding their immune system). But to basically shut down the world's economy, blow over two trillion dollars on a voice vote, etc, is insanity. So as long as we're insane. let's go full on it. First, Blue Oyster Cult's classic on coming to the end, with some serious dark overtones. Enjoy Don't Fear the Reaper.

And as a lighthearted bookend to the classic above, we have another classic from Saturday Night Live, with an actor with some serious dark overtones, Christopher Walken. We need More Cowbells!

Hopefully this time next week we're at a restaurant drinking a beer as this overreaction is over. Have a great weekend!

Officer Down

Detention Officer Gene Lee
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Arizona
End of Watch Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Age 64
Tour 6 years
Badge B2818
Cause Assault
Incident Date Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Detention Officer Gene Lee succumbed to injuries sustained the previous day when he was assaulted by an inmate Lower Buckeye Jail.

The inmate attacked Officer Lee without provocation, grabbing him by the neck and sweeping his legs out from below him. Officer Lee's suffered a severe head injury when his head struck the concrete floor.

Other officers and jail medical staff provided aid until he was transported to Banner University Medical Center. He died the following day without regaining consciousness.

Officer Lee had served with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for six years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Brian Ishmael
El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, California
End of Watch Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Age 37
Tour 4 years

Deputy Sheriff Brian Ishmael was shot and killed while responding to a call reporting the larceny of marijuana plants in the area of Sand Ridge Road and Mount Aukum Road in the rural Somerset community.

A subject operating a marijuana grow had observed several men stealing plants at approximately 12:30 a.m. and stated that a vehicle was parked at a neighbor's home. Deputy Ishmael and an off-duty deputy from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office who was riding along with him responded to the area. Shortly after 1:00 a.m., he broadcast that shots had been fired. Deputy Ishmael and the off-duty deputy both exchanged shots with multiple subjects.

Deputy Ishmael was shot and killed and the off-duty deputy was wounded during the shootout. Two men, one of whom was wounded, were taken into custody by responding officers. The 911 caller was also arrested after it was discovered he was a business partner of the shooters and failed to disclose the relationship to police. A fourth subject was arrested several days later after an investigation revealed that the marijuana grows were illegally contracted by a subject in Mexico. All four subjects, including at least one of whom is an illegal alien, have been charged by both state and federal authorities.

Deputy Ishmael had served with the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office for four years and had previously served with the Placerville Police Department. 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. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Jacob Otto Allmendinger
Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, Montana
End of Watch Saturday, October 19, 2019
Age 31
Tour 2 years, 1 month
Badge 677

Deputy Sheriff Jake Allmendinger was struck and killed by his patrol car on Fairy Lake Road in the Bridger mountain range.

He and another deputy were responding to the area to check on the welfare of a stranded motorist. Their patrol Tahoe started to slide backward on ice as they attempted to drive up an incline while looking for the motorist. Deputy Allmendinger exited the vehicle as it slid but became trapped beneath it.

Deputy Allmendinger had served as a deputy with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office for two years. He had previously served a dispatcher and a search and rescue volunteer for over eight years. He is survived by his wife, three children, and parents.
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 200323



If Trump Hates Obama’s Nuclear Deal, Why Is He Letting Up on Iran?

Iran is stockpiling enriched uranium and may soon receive advanced weapons from Russia. Trump has an easy way to tighten the screws.

Richard GoldbergMarch 18, 2020

After nearly two years of stunning success imposing maximum pressure on Iran, U.S. President Donald Trump has been holding back on delivering a final blow and abolishing the ill-fated Iran nuclear deal. If he waits too long, he may inadvertently breathe new life into a deal he pledged to dismantle four years ago.

Ever since last summer, when Iran first exceeded the nuclear limits established by the 2015 agreement, Trump supporters in Congress have urged the president to exercise the United States’ right to respond to Iran’s transgression by restoring all United Nations restrictions on its nuclear, missile, and conventional arms programs. This right to fully restore sanctions, known as “snapback,” was marketed by former President Barack Obama at the time as an accountability fail-safe to ensure that the United States could always deny Iran the strategic benefits of the nuclear deal should the regime breach its own commitments.

By late fall, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reporting that Iran was not cooperating with an investigation into possible undeclared nuclear material and activities inside the country, the furor on Capitol Hill grew more intense. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz held up Stephen Biegun’s nomination for deputy secretary of state until the State Department confirmed in writing what legal experts had already opined: The United States can use its right to snapback at any time...

In Historic First, Peace Corps to Evacuate Volunteers Worldwide Amid Pandemic

The U.S. agency announced it was suspending operations globally and recalling volunteers for their safety as the outbreak spread.

Robbie GramerMarch 16, 2020, 11:15 AM

The Peace Corps is for the first time in its history halting its operations globally and evacuating all of its volunteers, a drastic step for the small U.S. agency that shows the knock-on effects of the global coronavirus pandemic even in developing countries still untouched by the outbreak.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to safeguard your well-being and prevent a situation where Volunteers are unable to leave their host countries,” Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen wrote in a letter to volunteers.

It joins a raft of other government agencies grappling with how to respond to the rapidly spreading new virus that has roiled markets, upended global trade, and derailed international diplomacy.

Peace Corps volunteers have already been evacuated in China and Mongolia, but “it has become clear in the last 48 hours that numerous posts must follow suit,” Olsen said in the letter. “It is against this backdrop that I have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all Peace Corps operations globally and evacuate all of our Volunteers...”

Marine Under Investigation for Allegedly Sharing White Supremacist Material Online

The Marines are investigating an infantryman based at Camp Pendleton for potential violations of the Pentagon's policy against extremism, according to a Marine Corps spokesman. Lance Cpl. ... Martin, 23, posted what some experts called "white supremacist" material across at least two social media accounts over the last two years.... He declined to answer questions about his beliefs or his organization. He also stopped responding to requests for comment over Facebook Messenger.

Sikorsky, Bell Win U.S. Army FLRAA Awards

V-280 Credit: Bell

The U.S. Army has awarded Sikorsky $97 million and Bell $84 million for Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competitive demonstration and risk reduction (CD&RR), the service’s project manager said.

There is a $7 million difference in the project agreements. That is because although the scope of each proposal was similar, the companies have different technical and costing approaches and phasing of work, Col. David Phillips, FLRAA project manager, told reporters March 17.

The Army issued the project agreements under the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium Other Transaction Authority. The companies will deliver initial conceptual designs, requirements feasibility and trade studies over two years. This risk reduction work will feed into final requirements before kicking off a program of record in 2022.

Two advanced rotorcraft were constructed for the Army’s Joint Multirole (JMR) technology demonstrator, the precursor to FLRAA. Bell manufactured the V-280 Valor that reached 300 kt., while Sikorsky/Boeing built the SB-1 Defiant that was designed to reach at least 250 kt...






NATO scales down exercises due to coronavirus

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO is scaling down military exercises in Europe to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but alliance missions are continuing, including the drawdown of the U.S.-led force in Afghanistan following a peace agreement last month.

“Some of our exercises have been modified or canceled ... but our forces remain ready,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a video news conference.

The U.S. Army has already announced a halt to movement of military personnel from the United States to Europe and said it plans to scale down its Defender Europe 20 exercises, billed as NATO’s biggest war games in Europe since the Cold War...




Quarantines in Afghanistan may slow down US withdrawal, meanwhile deployments there on pause

Shawn Snow, Diana Stancy Correll, Leo Shane III

The coronavirus is throwing a wrench into American plans to exits its longest war serving as a potential spoiler for peace.

The New York Times reported that quarantine procedures implemented to halt the spread of COVID-19 are impacting efforts that could potentially slow a draw down of forces over the next several months.

A U.S.-Taliban deal inked Feb. 29 in Doha, Qatar, calls for U.S. troop levels to reduce to 8,600 by mid-July and complete a full withdrawal within 14-months.

But some troops entering and exiting Afghanistan airfields are undergoing a14-day quarantine period, according to the New York Times.

Resolute Support said in a news release that it “is making the necessary adjustments to temporarily pause personnel movement into theater," and that adopted screening guidelines from the World Health Organization “will necessitate some servicemembers remaining beyond their scheduled departure dates.”

Roughly 1,500 personnel, troops and contractors arriving in Afghanistan within the last week are living in screening facilities to help stop the spread of the virus, according to the release...


The Coronavirus Shutdown Slashed China’s Household Finances

Xi Jinping is desperate to get the economy back to life.

Christopher AstonMarch 18, 2020, 7:00 PM

COVID-19 spreads fast, and it spreads easily—through kisses, cash, and hospitals. But in China, fear spread even faster than the virus—resulting in a mass lockdown of villages, towns and cities. That made new cases drop sharply, but the economy ground to a halt, with no workers to produce goods, no logistics to transport them, and no customers to buy them.

This gave President Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party, a capitalist migraine: If the government kept implementing draconian measures to reduce infection rates, it would risk the economy and legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, which rules on the promise of economic prosperity. But as the goverment sends people back to work, it risks the virus spreading even further.

It is no surprise then, that the state-run Xinhua News Agency described leaders as saying it would be “a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance.” That test comes back not just to the virus, but to the government’s credit—financial and political. And it’s a problem that Western countries are going to be facing in a few weeks, if the initial strategy of containment works but the economy falters.

Faced with a stark choice, the central authorities have warned local officials not to let virus containment measures harm the economy. That’s a risky measure, given the number of unknowns surrounding virus transmission and infection rates, and one tough to implement when entire communities are gripped by fear.

Xi also reiterated that China will strive to achieve this year’s development targets—and above all else to meet its goal of doubling gross domestic product from 2010 to 2020. That arbitrary goal was set by the CPC in 2012, but Xi, who from the start promised “a moderately prosperous society,” is determined to stick to the timeline. Most critically, though, as the country gets back to work and the virus seems contained—for the moment—Chinese households currently face grimmer financial prospects than medical threats...


Coronavirus in the Corridors of Power
Which politicians and senior officials have the coronavirus?

Darcy PalderMarch 18, 2020, 7:51 PM/Updated March 19, 2020, 11:30AM EDT

The coronavirus knows no borders, and no continent—except for Antarctica—has been spared. The virus has also made its way into the corridors of power, and scores of national and local politicians around the world have announced that they have contracted the bug. In Iran, at least a dozen current and former officials, politicians, and religious figures have died after contracting the virus...

Iran Knows Who to Blame for the Virus: America and Israel
The regime’s ideological army is spinning conspiracy theories even as it helps spread the virus among Iran’s long-suffering people.

Kasra AarabiMarch 19, 2020, 9:51 AM

If one is to believe the official numbers, Iran lags only China and Italy in the severity of its coronavirus outbreak, but Tehran continues to downplay the scale of the crisis. As of Wednesday, Iran has confirmed 17,361 cases and 1,135 deaths, but many sources suggest the actual totals could be much higher. In Qom, one of the centers of the outbreak, satellite photos appear to show mass graves being dug for virus victims. Several prominent members of the Iranian government, parliament, and clergy are either sick or already dead.

As if to follow the dictum never to waste a good crisis, the regime’s ideological army—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—has seized the pandemic as an opportunity to burnish its tarnished image by presenting itself and its Islamist ideology as the nation’s savior.
But whether out of callousness or outright cynicism, the IRGC’s propaganda activities aren’t only not helping, but have helped spread the virus among Iran’s population.

Since its founding as the Iranian regime’s ideological army in 1979, the IRGC has been the ruling clergy’s principal mechanism for enforcing its theocracy at home, and exporting its Shiite Islamist ideology abroad. The Guard’s constant presence in Iranian life plays a crucial role in sustaining the regime and its ideology across every sector in society, using a toxic mix of violence and propaganda.

In the past few months, however, Iran’s aging ayatollahs have been unnerved by a new wave of hostility against the IRGC, even among the regime’s traditional support base. The Guard has been blamed for the deaths of 1,500 Iranian civilians during anti-regime protests in November, and it was responsible for downing a Ukrainian passenger plane in January, killing all 176 people on board—an atrocity the regime only admitted to after several days of silence. Videos recently posted online show Iranians in cities such as Tehran and Isfahan chanting a new slogan that compares the IRGC to the Islamic State. The mood on Iranian streets suggests domestic support for the Guard has reached an all-time low.

Desperate to regain credibility, the ruthlessly opportunistic Guard has jumped on Iran’s coronavirus crisis in an attempt to resuscitate its appeal and ideology.

As news of coronavirus cases in Iran spread, the IRGC quickly developed a narrative for the disease. It portrayed the virus as a conspiracy orchestrated by the United States, in an attempt to rejuvenate the anti-Americanism that lies at the heart of the regime’s ideology. Hossein Salami, the commander of the Guard, has suggested the coronavirus may be an “American biological invasion,” leading some of the regime’s defenders to call for a retaliatory response. Indeed, a deeper look at IRGC-linked communications networks reveals a systematic propaganda campaign to seize the pandemic as an opportunity to vilify not only the United States, but also the regime’s other traditional ideological enemy, Israel, as well. The propaganda includes claims that the virus is a “Zionist biological terrorist attack,” in line with previous allegations that the so-called Zionist regime has conducted “12 bioterrorist attacks against the people of Iran...”

Iran has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus, and the virus has spread rapidly among the country’s political elite and religious figures. According to the Jerusalem Post, at least 24 members of parliament have contracted the virus, and two have died: Fatemeh Rahbar, from Tehran, and Mohammad Ali Ramezani, from Gilan.

Others reported to have contracted the virus, according to the United States Institute for Peace, include:

• Iraj Harirchi, deputy health minister

• Masoumeh Ebtekar, vice president for women and family affairs

• Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign-policy advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

• Fatemeh Rahbar, member of parliament, Tehran

• Mohammad Ali Ramezani, member of parliament, Gilan

• Mojtaba Rahmanzadeh, local mayor of Tehran’s District 13

• Mahmoud Sadeghi, member of parliament, Tehran

• Mohammad Reza Ghadir, director of Qom’s state medical university and head of coronavirus management in the city

• Pirhossein Kolivand, director of Iran’s emergency medical services

• Eshaq Jahangiri, above, first vice president

• Ismail Najjar, chief of Iran’s Crisis Management Organization

• Mostafa Pourmohammadi, former minister of justice and minister of the interior

• Reza Rahmani, Minister of Industry, Mines and Business (has since recovered from the virus)

• Ali Asghar Mounesan, minister of cultural heritage, handicrafts, and tourism

• Reza Salehi Amiri, president of the National Olympic Committee of Iran

• Mojtaba Zonnour, chairman of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee

• Masoumeh Aghapour Alishahi, member of parliament from East Azerbaijan province

• Zohreh Elahian, member of parliament from Tehran...


US hands over base to Iraqi forces in area known to be a hotbed for Iran-backed militia
Shawn Snow

The U.S. military announced Tuesday it had handed over a strategic outpost near the Iraq-Syria border to Iraqi forces in a region known to host an Iran-backed militia responsible for more than a dozen rocket attacks targeting coalition troops.

Two experts who spoke to Military Times worry the base nestled near a key border crossing area could fall into the hands of the Iran-backed group — cementing what national security experts have warned is Tehran’s goal of a land route to the Mediterranean Sea for the movement of arms, proxies and illicit goods.

Officials with Operation Inherent Resolve — the U.S.-led mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — say the al-Qaim base transfer is about consolidating coalition forces following successful operations against ISIS militants...




More Underground Facilities Near Yongbyon: A Potential Challenge for Future Denuclearization Deals
Jacob BogleMarch 20, 2020
Commercial satellite imagery reveals a previously publicly unidentified underground facility (UGF) beneath a hill in Bungang, the worker’s district adjacent to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. Initial excavations of a 10-meter-wide tunnel into the side of the hill began in 2004, adjacent to a walled compound, along with a second excavation site within the compound. When tunnel excavations were completed in 2006, three small structures at the second site had also been erected, suggesting a moderately sized underground facility built beneath the hill.

The tunnel appeared to remain open until 2013, when its entrance was blocked, and the access road was subsequently fenced off from the main road. The small structures within the walled compound were also removed. Activity in and around the area of interest has been light since 2013, with the exception of terracing the side of the hill where the external structures were located in 2015.

The purpose of the underground facility remains unknown. Underground structures in residential areas are not unusual and may be used for storage, civil defense or other innocuous purposes. While there is no evidence that it is related to the North Korean nuclear program, the site’s proximity may raise suspicions. Moreover, there is reason to believe there may be other underground sites in the area that may also provoke the same concerns. Therefore, any future denuclearization agreements covering the Yongbyon nuclear facility may need to take this site and any others discovered nearby into consideration when formulating verification provisions...


In Russia, COVID-19 Border Closures Risk Cutting Off Its Public Works

Sim Tack Global Analyst , Stratfor Mar 19, 2020

As Russia starts to see its number of COVID-19 patients rise, it has started to impose more stringent measures to contain the virus and limit the fallout. As elsewhere, some measures to slow down the disease will have major economic impacts. Russia closed its border to foreigners on March 18, and will stop processing requests for work visas. While this will surely stem the potential flow of COVID-19 carriers into Russia, it will also likely hit its construction sector, which heavily depends on migrant labor. And this, in turn, could upend Moscow's long-term plans for Russia's economy...

Russia: Vessel Slated to Finish Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Spotted Off-Course

What Happened: Russia's only pipe-laying vessel equipped to finish the last leg of the Nord Stream 2 project, the Akademic Chersky, has been located off-route near Mozambique, Kommersant reported March 17. The vessel began making its voyage several weeks ago, and was initially expected to resume work on the Russian-German pipeline in Danish waters on the Baltic Sea.

Why It Matters: The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was originally scheduled to come online at the end of 2019, but harsh U.S. sanctions have since thwarted the project's completion. If the Akademik Chersky is no longer headed to the Baltic Sea, or is taking a serious detour, it could further delay the resumption of construction until the fall.

Background: Russia has access to only two pipe-laying vessels fit to complete Nord Stream 2: the Akademic Chersky and the Fortuna. Unlike the Akademic Chersky, however, the Fortuna lacks a dynamic positioning system that Denmark requires to operate in its waters.




Coronavirus Reality Check: Yes, U.S. And EU Will Track Our Smartphone Location Data—Get Used To It

In Homeland Security StaffMarch 20, 2020

There’s an irony to the surveillance measures being put in place to combat the global coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak started in China. The country with the most extensive population surveillance capabilities on the planet quickly put it to work. Extensive data analysis, facial recognition, phone tracking, apps, even drones. The state set out to know who was where and when. And with who, of course. Where they’d been and where they were allowed to go. China did what China does.

We are inured to such stories from China. We have read countless reports over the last two to three years about the emergence of this domestic surveillance capability. Added to its extensive controls on information, the internet, the economy, it came as no surprise. We had not yet had our own coronavirus shocks to our stable systems. This, coming from China, just seemed to be more of the same.

Then we had stories of government surveillance in South Korea and Singapore. More transparent, certainly, but extensive and mandatory. Again, we put this down to a level of cultural difference. What happens in Asia, we told ourselves, is very different to what happens here, in the U.S. and Europe. And while we acknowledged the success such measures had in containing early infections, it felt far from home.

Meanwhile, there were reminders as to what governments might do if let off the leash—Iran comes to mind with its stupidly simple app pushed out by the government as a self-diagnosis tool. This was quickly uncovered for what it was. Crude spyware intended to monitor the population, to build a dataset.

But then came Israel. “All means will be used to fight the spread of the coronavirus,” the country’s prime minister said last weekend. He was announcing the use of “digital means” to monitor the population, technology designed for counter-terrorism that Benjamin Netanyahu admitted “until today I have refrained from using among the civilian population.” There was a twist here. This was not about monitoring known patients—that’s more easily done. This was data mining...


Lessons From a Hezbollah Honey Trap

Scott Stewart VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor Mar 17, 2020 | 11:00 GMT


- The arrest of a U.S. military translator accused of spying for Hezbollah shows that state intelligence agencies are not the only ones who can conduct human intelligence operations.

- Honey traps continue to be an effective tactic that can be used against anyone at any age.

- Employees of governments, companies and organizations that could be targeted for recruitment by state or nonstate intelligence officers should be educated about such tactics.

FBI special agents arrested Mariam Taha Thompson, an American contract interpreter, Feb. 27 in Arbil, Iraq. Thompson, who held a top-secret security clearance, has been charged with passing classified information to a man with links to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Following her arrest, the 61-year-old Thompson, who is from Rochester, Minnesota, reportedly waived her Miranda rights and admitted to interviewing agents that she had passed information to a man with whom she was romantically involved, and that the man had a nephew in the Lebanese Interior Ministry. Under further investigation, she admitted that she suspected the nephew was likely linked to Hezbollah. Thompson's Lebanese paramour was reportedly overseas when she passed him the classified information...


Coronavirus makes Taliban realise they need health workers alive not dead

KABUL, March 18 (Reuters) - Scared by the prospect a coronavirus epidemic in parts of Afghanistan under their control, the Taliban have pledged their readiness to work with healthcare workers instead of killing them, as they have been accused of in the past.

Back in September, the Taliban lifted a ban on the World Health Organisation and Red Cross from operating in militant-held territory, having warned them off in April because of suspicions over polio vaccination campaigns.

Whatever reservations the militants held over eradicating that crippling disease, they have clearly grasped the dangers posed by coronavirus pandemic sweeping the rest of the world.

“The Islamic Emirate via its Health Commission assures all international health organizations and WHO of its readiness to cooperate and coordinate with them in combating the coronavirus,” said Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s spokesman, on Twitter, using the term the group uses to describe itself.

In a report in December, the World Health Organisation refrained from naming the Taliban or any other militant group as it counted the human and social cost of targeted attacks on healthcare during 2019.

At least 51 healthcare workers, patients and supportive staff were killed and 142 others wounded. As a result of the attacks 192 health facilities were closed, of which only 34 were re-opened. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attacks that Afghan authorities have blamed on their fighters.

Afghanistan currently has 22 confirmed coronavirus cases, with concerns growing particularly over the danger of infections among the thousands of Afghans crossing the border with Iran – one of the worst-affected nations...


Exclusive: Trump cancels G7 at Camp David over coronavirus, to hold video-conference instead
Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will cancel an in-person meeting of G7 leaders at Camp David in June because of the coronavirus and will hold a video-conference instead, the White House said on Thursday.

The decision comes as nations around the world seal their borders and ban travel to stop the virus’ spread.

Trump held a video-conference with the leaders of the world’s major industrialized countries earlier this week and plans to repeat that in April, May and June, when the physical meeting at the presidential retreat in Maryland was scheduled to take place.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who also serves as Trump’s G7 “sherpa,” has informed his counterparts about the move...

Coronavirus Forces Us To Rethink Infrastructure For An Age Of Biological Risk

In Homeland Security StaffMarch 20, 2020

Coronavirus Forces Us To Rethink Infrastructure For An Age Of Biological Risk

With hours-long screening lines at America’s airports causing confusion and frustration, with supply chain shortages limiting access to essential goods, with economically important events being cancelled and mass transit ridership plummeting as people create social distance, it is clear that the country’s infrastructure is ill-prepared for the type of natural disaster that coronavirus presents: the kind that drives people apart rather than bringing them together.

Many natural disasters are characterized by people coming together to help and support one another, and are often catalysts for closing the physical and emotional distance between us. The threat of coronavirus, conversely, is actually creating physical and emotional distance. It’s caused people to stockpile food and stay home. It’s caused employers to close offices, schools to cancel class, cities to ban large gatherings and even churches to shut their doors. This social distancing is vital to stemming the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19, but runs contrary to the purpose of our infrastructural systems. Our infrastructure—including everything from mass transit systems and roads to buildings and structures to utilities and power grids to railways and waterways—is intended to connect people and enable the movement and accessibility of information, goods and services. We rely on it to enable our daily lives and help us bounce back after other types of disaster. In the case of pandemics like coronavirus, however, this connectivity works against us by making it easier for contagions to spread. Crowded subways. Busy airports. Concentrated retail centers. Centralized workplaces. Ubiquitous roadways. Coalescing and connecting people is what these systems were designed for. These same qualities, however, are also what makes our physical systems the perfect vehicles for viruses...

Friday, March 20, 2020

What else should be played at a time like this...

And just remember, this too will pass.

Hopefully you get to a more normal life soon. AND YOU DON'T NEED 20 BOXES OF TOILET PAPER! :<)

Have a great weekend.

Officer Down

Captain Albert E. Torres
Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, California
End of Watch Saturday, October 12, 2019
Age 67
Tour 40 years
Cause Heart attack
Incident Date Friday, October 11, 2019

Captain Albert Torres suffered a fatal heart attack while patrolling areas affected by the Saddleridge Fire, a wildfire covering over 8,000 acres that destroyed more than 20 homes and prompted mandatory evacuations of 100,000 residents in the area.

He had completed a 14-hour shift of patrolling parks and remote areas in the evacuation zone in the San Fernando Valley. He reported back to the command center at Hansen Dam before returning to park headquarters in Griffith Park. He collapsed after telling other rangers he did not feel well. He was transported to a local hospital where he died the following morning.

Captain Torres had served with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for 40 years.

He is survived by his wife, daughter, and son.
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. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Matthew Ryan Jones
Falls County Sheriff's Office, Texas
End of Watch Friday, October 11, 2019
Age 30
Tour 4 years
Badge 3112

Deputy Sheriff Matt Jones was struck and killed by a vehicle as he and the chief of the Riesel Police Department assisted a disabled motorist on Texas 6 near County Road 190.

Another vehicle approaching the scene hydroplaned on the wet road surface and struck both officers. Deputy Jones was killed and the police chief was seriously injured. Deputy Jones' canine partner was in their patrol car and was not injured.

Deputy Jones had served with the Falls County Sheriff's Office for four years. He is survived by his wife, parents, and 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. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

Officer Down

Trooper Peter R. Stephan
Indiana State Police, Indiana
End of Watch Friday, October 11, 2019
Age 27
Tour 4 years

Trooper Peter Stephan was killed in a single-vehicle crash on Old State Road 25, near Stair Road while responding to assist another Indiana State Trooper who was holding several suspects at gunpoint.

His patrol car left the roadway as he entered a curve and overturned before striking a utility pole. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Trooper Stephan had served with the Indiana State Police for four years. He is survived by his wife and five-month-old daughter.
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 200316



The chiefs of both U.S. Africa Command (Africom)
and U.S. Central Command (Centcom) will brief the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday to discuss U.S. military activities in Africa and the Middle East. Two members of that committee introduced a bill last week that would curtail the Pentagon’s ability to reduce troop numbers in the Africom theater, as Foreign Policy’s Robbie Gramer reported on March 4...

Middle East SAM Discovery Highlights F-35’S Evolving Role

As a series of Block 4 upgrades are set to elevate the Lockheed Martin F-35’s profile for the counter air-defense mission, a top program official shared an operational anecdote highlighting the aircraft’s latent capability against surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems.

Twelve F-35As deployed last year to the Middle East to support operations against the Islamic State group (ISIS), logging 150 weapons employed during about 7,300 hr. flown on 1,300 combat sorties, said Brig. Gen. David Abba, director of the Air Force’s F-35 integration office, speaking at the Mitchell Institute March 9. “The numbers were pretty remarkable,” Abba said.

Although ISIS forces posed little threat to the F-35A, the deployment provided opportunities for the stealthy fighter to demonstrate capabilities against a more sophisticated opponent.

Abba described an operational scenario that involved a mobile SAM system. The U.S. intelligence community normally tracks the locations of such systems as closely as possible, but in this case the mobile SAM had not been seen “in a while,” he said.

Meanwhile, two F-35As were en route to perform an unrelated mission when an indication of the missing, mobile SAM appeared on their cockpit displays, Abba said. The inference was that the F-35’s onboard sensors, such as the BAE Systems ASQ-239 electronic-warfare suite, detected and identified the threat. The pilots used the data to cue the radar-mapping mode of the F-35’s Northrop Grumman APG-81 active electronically scanned array radar to establish “targetable” coordinates for the SAM...

New Bill Would Protect Journalists From Being Prosecuted For Publishing Classified Information

ALMOST A YEAR after the Trump administration unsealed an indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, two progressive members of Congress are trying to prevent a World War I-era secrecy law from being used to investigate and prosecute journalists for publishing classified information. The legislation to amend the 1917 Espionage Act was introduced by Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden in the Senate and California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna in the House of Representatives. Wyden and Khanna told The Intercept they crafted the legislation to preserve the government’s need for secrecy while strengthening protections for members of the press and expanding legal channels for government whistleblowers.... “What my bill does is refocus the Espionage Act to the core issue, which is ensuring that the more than four million government employees and contractors with a security clearance don’t violate their oaths by divulging government secrets.”... The Wyden-Khanna bill would narrow the scope of the law to primarily target offenders with current or expired security clearances, as well as any agents of a foreign government to whom they may pass information. Members of the press or the public could be prosecuted if they committed a separate crime in the course of obtaining the information, but not for soliciting information or for “speech activity” like publishing...

Document Likely Shows SM-6 Hypersonic Speed, Anti-Surface Role

A U.S. Navy document that cryptically describes a versatile and powerful new missile likely offers the first confirmation of the hypersonic speed and newly acquired, antisurface-warfare role for the Raytheon SM-6 Block 1B.

The terse reference in a written submission by Navy officials to the House Armed Services Committee on March 11 also likely offers the first proof that the SM-6 Block 1B remains in development, even after the Navy scrubbed all references to the project in the latest round of fiscal 2021 budget documents...




Turkey says U.S. offering Patriot missiles if S-400 not operated

Tuvan Gumrukcu

ANKARA (Reuters) - The United States has offered to sell Turkey its Patriot missile defense system if Ankara promises not to operate a rival Russian system, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said, in what he called a significant softening in Washington’s position.

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) following their talks in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS
Two Turkish officials told Reuters that Turkey was evaluating the U.S. offer but that Ankara had not changed its plans for the Russian S-400 systems, which it has said it will start to activate next month.

In Washington, the Pentagon said that U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had not changed his position on the issue, which was: “Turkey is not going to receive a Patriot battery unless it returns the S-400.”

NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been at odds over Ankara’s purchase last year of the S-400s, which Washington says are incompatible with the alliance’s defense systems...


Police issue terror warning after arrests hit two-year high after London Bridge attack

Police have issued a terror alert to the public to avoid complacency after arrests for terrorist offences hit a two-year high. The number of arrests in the last quarter of 2019 jumped to 80, a 33 per cent increase on the previous quarter, and the highest number since 2017, according to Home Office figures. “As we have seen in the last few months, attacks can happen anywhere and at any time without warning,” ...“With 3,000 or so subjects of interest currently on our radar and more convicted terrorists soon due to be released from prison, we simply cannot watch all of them, all the time. “When my colleagues and I tell you that ‘Communities defeat terrorism’ it is not just a catchphrase. We know from experience that public information and action helps save lives and leads to the significant arrests detailed in these statistics...








Iran Says Tens Of Thousands Of Prisoners Released Because Of Coronavirus Fears

Iranian authorities have released about 70,000 prisoners because of the new coronavirus outbreak in the country, judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said, as Iran reported 43 new deaths from the disease in the past 24 hours. "The release of the prisoners, to the point where it doesn't create insecurity in society...will continue," Raisi said on March 9, according to Mizan, the news site of the judiciary. It was not immediately clear if or when the released inmates would need to return to jail...


U.S. wages retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq

Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States waged a series of precision air strikes on Thursday against an Iran-backed militia in Iraq that it blamed for a major rocket attack a day earlier that killed two American troops and a 26-year-old British soldier.

The U.S. strikes appeared limited in scope and narrowly tailored, targeting five weapons storage facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah militants, including stores of weaponry for past attacks on U.S.-led coalition troops, the Pentagon said.

In a statement, Iraq’s military said the U.S. air strikes hit four locations in Iraq that housed formal Iraqi police and military units, in addition to the paramilitary groups.

Three Iraqi army soldiers were killed and four wounded, police in Babel province said in a statement. Five paramilitary fighters and one policeman were also injured, they said, adding that the fate of two more policemen was unknown.

One strike hit an Iraqi civilian airport under construction in the holy Shi’ite Muslim city of Kerbala and killed a worker, Iraqi religious authorities said on Friday...


How Israel's Annexation Strategy Will Prompt a Partnership Pivot

Ryan Bohl Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor Mar 9, 2020


- Over the next decade, Israel will likely annex large parts of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians without a viable option for an independent state.

- Liberal and left-leaning parties in the United States and Europe will push back against Israel's annexation strategy as they eventually come to power through electoral turnover.

- To offset the potential impact, Israel will build out relations with countries that are less likely to experience cyclical political change, like Russia, China, India and the Gulf Arab states, while at the same time building up ties to centrist and right-wing governments worldwide.

Over the next decade, Israel will pivot away from its close, pro-Western footing to a more independent one as its traditional allies pressure it to change its West Bank strategy. By the end of the 2020s, right-wing politics will gain the upper hand in Israel, expanding its annexationist trend in the Palestinian territories. But a territorially expanded Israel will not always find supportive allies in the United States and Europe, and its Western allies are likely to pressure Israel to reverse its West Bank strategy...

Palestinians slam Israeli road plan that would cut off West Bank

Palestinian leaders have slammed the Israeli defence ministry's approval of planning for a road that would separate Palestinians and Israeli commuters east of Jerusalem, a highly controversial move meant to help advance an illegal settlement plan in the strategically sensitive E1 region. Israeli Caretaker Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday the "sovereignty road" would allow Israel to continue building in the highly controversial area between Jerusalem and a settlement bloc directly to the east of the disputed city.


North Korea’s Illicit Cyber Operations: What Can Be Done?


It should surprise no one that the DPRK is a sophisticated cyber actor. Over the past several years, Kim Jong Un’s regime has earned up to $2 billion through illicit cyber operations, providing North Korea with a significant cushion against the effects of international sanctions imposed on it and the efforts to leverage sanctions to generate greater pressure on Pyongyang to reach an acceptable agreement on denuclearization. The proportion of revenue generated by the DPRK through cyber operations has grown in relation to income generated through other illicit activities and its ability to adapt and move into areas such as cryptocurrency and the cybercrime underground make attacks harder to prevent and trace. This essay puts forward recommendations to achieve greater success in curbing this activity. The Appendix provides a historical overview of the North’s illicit cyber operations and a description of the various methods Pyongyang has used to continually improve its cyber capabilities to generate revenue in evasion of sanctions.


The DPRK’s advanced capabilities are consistent with the country’s national objectives, state organizations and military strategy­. Given the relative weakness of its conventional military, the ability to carry out asymmetric and irregular operations is key to the North’s strategic objectives. The low cost of entry and high yield, the difficulties in attribution, a lack of effective deterrents, and the international community’s high level of monitoring traditional weapons capabilities—such as nuclear weapons—also make cyber capabilities a natural regime focus.

Furthermore, cybercrime is a logical extension of the country’s reliance on activities to evade sanctions such as counterfeiting, smuggling of precious metal, gems and cash, arms trading, gambling and illegal shipping operations. As a consistent innovator in sanctions evasion, it would have been surprising if the DPRK didn’t take advantage of the vulnerabilities inherent in cyberspace, including the anonymity it provides, to generate illicit income. North Korean cyber actors have committed dozens of cyber attacks targeting financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges in at least 17 countries. The United Nations Panel of Experts stated in its 2019 midterm report that these actors raise money for the country’s weapons of mass destruction programs and that the increasing scale, capacity and sophistication of attacks show the DPRK’s ability to continually adapt and develop its capabilities.

It is also worth keeping in mind that the new strategic domain of cyber is not just a question of financial crimes but also speaks to a larger set of DPRK strategic assets. These assets are applicable to cyber espionage, disruptive attacks in the United States and its allies, and the use of the internet to access prohibited knowledge and skills enabling the development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs...

N. Korea Fires Weapons After Threatening 'Momentous' Action

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired three short-range projectiles off its east coast on Monday, South Korea’s military said, two days after the North threatened to take “momentous” action to protest outside condemnation over its earlier live-fire exercises.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the multiple kinds of projectiles fired from the eastern coastal town of Sondok flew as far as 200 kilometers (125 miles) at a maximum altitude of 50 kilometers (30 miles) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

A JCS statement said South Korea expressed “strong regret” over the launches that it said violate a past inter-Korean agreement aimed at lowering military animosities. South Korea’s national security director, defense minister and spy chief held an emergency video conference and agreed the North Korean action were not helpful to efforts to establish a peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea’s presidential Blue House.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said North Korea fired suspected ballistic missiles. He said the multiple North Korean projectiles traveled 100 to 200 kilometers (62 to 125 miles) but none landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

“North Korea’s latest action, on top of its repeated firings of ballistic missiles, is a serious threat to the peace and safety of Japan and … a grave problem for the entire international society,” Suga said.

In the past 10 days, North Korea has said leader Kim Jong Un supervised two rounds of live-fire artillery exercises in its first weapons tests since late November. Kim had entered the new year with a vow to bolster his nuclear deterrent and not to be bound by a major weapons test moratorium amid a deadlock in a U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at convincing Kim to abandon his nuclear program in return for economic and political benefits...




Saudi Palace intrigue
. In addition to market shocks, there was also palace drama in Riyadh over the weekend. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, accused senior royals of a coup plot and arrested Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a brother of Saudi King Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the king’s nephew. Bin Nayef’s younger brother was also detained along with as many as 20 others. The move was seen as a warning to anyone within the royal family who dares to criticize MBS’s rule...


Security alert: Millions of cars vulnerable to key cloning

Cars probably aren’t the first things you think of when you hear the words “vulnerable devices.” But despite how they look and run, many cars actually come with multiple digital components. ... According to new research from the University of Birmingham and KU Leuven in Belgium, millions of cars with radio-enabled key fobs were discovered to be at risk for unauthorized key cloning. The results of the study revealed cars made by Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Tesla have a significant encryption flaw hackers can exploit with a simple RFID transmitter. When configured properly, it can copy the signal produced by the key fobs, which hackers could then use to unlock a victim’s car. The report’s complete list includes a range of model years from 2009 to 2017. The report emphasizes this list is not exhaustive, meaning there could be more cars with the issue that have not been detected...

My car was in a hit-and-run. Then I learned it recorded the whole thing.

The car is becoming a sentry, a chaperone, and a snitch

Geoffrey A. Fowler Technology columnist Feb. 27, 2020

My parked car got gashed in a hit-and-run two weeks ago. I found a star witness: the car itself.

Like mine, your car might have cameras. At least one rearview camera has been required on new American cars since 2018. I drive a Tesla Model 3 that has eight lenses pointing in every direction, which it uses for backing up, parking and cruise control. A year ago, Tesla updated its software to also turn its cameras into a 360-degree video recorder. Even when the car is off.

All those digital eyes captured my culprit — a swerving city bus — in remarkable detail.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk calls this function Sentry Mode. I also call it Chaperone Mode and Snitch Mode. I’ve been writing recently about how we don’t drive cars, we drive computers. But this experience opened my eyes.

I love that my car recorded a hit-and-run on my behalf. Yet I’m scared we’re not ready for the ways cameras pointed inside and outside vehicles will change the open road — just like the cameras we’re adding to doorbells are changing our neighborhoods.

It’s not just crashes that will be different. Once governments, companies and parents get their hands on car video, it could become evidence, an insurance liability and even a form of control. Just imagine how it will change teenage romance. It could be the end of the idea that cars are private spaces to peace out and get away — an American symbol of independence...


New US Counterintelligence Strategy Has 5 Objectives

By William Tucker Columnist, In Homeland Security

Earlier this month, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) released The National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United States of America 2020-2022. The document focuses on U.S. counterintelligence activities or threats that have evolved or arisen since the last strategy document was released in 2016.

Over the past four years, the intelligence threat picture has changed to include aggressive disinformation campaigns by U.S. adversaries and a plethora of leakers who disregard their oaths and release sensitive information to satisfy a personal ideological viewpoint.

Strategy Aims to Fill Newly Recognized Gaps and Calls for New Government Approach

Hostile foreign intelligence services are attacking the U.S. economy and seeking to undermine the U.S. political environment. In some instances, hostile foreign intelligence services are attacking the U.S. economy and seeking to undermine the U.S. political environment.

In a news release, NCSC Director William Evanina said, “with the private sector and democratic institutions increasingly under attack, this is no longer a problem the U.S. Government can address alone. It requires a whole-of-society response involving the private sector, an informed American public, as well as our allies.”

Five Strategic Objectives in 2020-2022 Strategy

The new NCSC strategy will continue traditional counterintelligence efforts, having identified five new strategic objectives because of the threat to these areas. They are:

- Protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from foreign intelligence entities seeking to exploit or disrupt national critical functions.

- Reduce threats to key U.S. supply chains to prevent foreign attempts to compromise the integrity, trustworthiness, and authenticity of products and services purchased and integrated into the operations of the U.S. Government, the defense industrial base, and the private sector.

- Counter the exploitation of the U.S. economy to protect our competitive advantage in world markets and our economic prosperity and security.

- Defend American democracy against foreign influence threats to protect America’s democratic institutions and processes and preserve our culture of openness.

- Counter foreign intelligence cyber and technical operations that are harmful to U.S. interests.

These endeavors have been long been known, but the U.S. has not published a comprehensive strate


The Right-Wing Extremist Threat in Context: Internal Extremist Actors

Scott Stewart VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor Mar 10, 2020


- Insiders have an advantage over outsiders when planning an attack on a company or organization due to their intimate knowledge of security measures, policies and procedures.

- But insiders also have a disadvantage in that their co-workers have more contact with them, and can note as they progress through the attack cycle or along the pathway to violence.

- Educating employees about warning signs and preparatory activities can empower them to help detect and report them...

...This week, I turn my attention to the threat posed by right-wing extremists who are insiders. Just for clarification, I am not talking about the reputational threat to a company or organization when they are found to be employing someone who holds radical or extremist beliefs. For example, an employee of the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources was suspended after it became known that he was affiliated with the white supremacist movement, and was a prolific poster in online forums. Despite his rhetoric, however, there is no indication that he was planning or preparing for an attack.

Instead, I want to discuss the threat posed by right-wing extremists who are planning to conduct an act of political violence predicated on their radical beliefs, that is, to commit domestic terrorism. For example, an active-duty U.S. Coast Guard officer was sentenced in January to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug and gun charges. Investigators found that the officer was a long-time skinhead who promoted violence against minorities and "enemies" of the white race. They also uncovered that he had conducted internet searches that demonstrated he was researching potential targets, including media personalities and current and former elected officials...

Why Saudi Arabia's Oil Price War May Backfire

Mar 10, 2020

The Big Picture

- Saudi Arabia is offering aggressive discounting on its oil exports and planning to sharply increase volumes in April in the wake of its failure to agree with Russia on a path forward for OPEC+ production restraint. This move will damage the finances of oil exporters lacking diversified economies, but it is not likely that either the Saudis or the Russians will capitulate in the next few months. The result will be rapidly rising oil inventories and weak prices.

After Russia refused last week to accept OPEC's proposal to cut oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day to prop up oil prices, Saudi Aramco announced on March 7 that it would lower its April pricing differentials by $4-$6 to Asia and $7 to the United States. The move took Asian differentials from premiums to steep discounts and Saudi Arabia strongly hinted at a substantial production increase, which Saudi Aramco sources confirmed to media outlets on March 8 without attaching specific numbers. The development, in turn, produced a shock to financial markets, with Brent crude oil down to $35 per barrel in late trading on March 9.

Why It Matters

The Saudi move is a declaration of a full-blown price war, which most observers did not foresee on March 6 when talks between OPEC and its nonmember partners fell apart, given that it would blow up the Saudi budget deficit, as well as the fact that Russia, even unconstrained by OPEC+ commitments, has limited potential to raise production quickly in 2020. It takes a situation in which the world oil market had been hit by a demand shock (shutdowns and other disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has sharply reduced the demand for oil) amid a modest slowdown in economic growth and added a supply shock of an unknown but potentially massive quantity. As a result, inventories will be building much more rapidly, though price drops are somewhat mitigated in the short-term by the availability of storage. But an extended COVID-19 crisis could easily force prices down to levels below where they were in 2015-2016. An extended price collapse into the $20s-$30s range, which is now likely for at least the next several months and perhaps much longer, will have broad knock-on effects on other markets. Other than energy equities, the worst impacts will be on sovereign finances of oil exporters with less-diversified economies and low sovereign reserves. In particular, Iran and Venezuela will suffer the most, as both have already been forced to sharply discount their sales to find buyers amid U.S. sanctions...

Scientists identify rain of molten iron on distant exoplanet

Hannah DevlinWed 11 Mar 2020 12.00 EDT

Conditions on Wasp-76b in Pisces include temperatures of 2,400C and 10,000mph winds

Wasp-76b is what astronomers call an exoplanet, one that orbits a star outside our solar system. Scientists have discovered that the local weather conditions include 2,400C temperatures, winds in excess of 10,000mph and a steady pelting of iron rain.

The observations of the distant planet’s unusually hostile climate are the first results from a new instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile, which astronomers say will transform our view of worlds far from beyond our own solar system.

Wasp-76b, which is 640 light years away in the constellation of Pisces, is an ultra-hot gas giant. It orbits its star at about 3% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, resulting in scorching surface temperatures and the weird phenomenon of molten iron falling from the sky.

“It’s a kind of world we can’t imagine easily because we don’t have anything like that in our solar system,” said Christophe Lovis, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Geneva and co-author of the paper.

Because the planet is so close in, it is “tidally locked” (like the Moon’s orbit about Earth) and only only ever shows one face, its day side, to..,