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

Monday, August 31, 2020

Officer Down

Trooper Nolan James Sanders
North Carolina Highway Patrol, North Carolina
End of Watch Friday, March 27, 2020
Age 28
Tour 5 years
Badge C240

Trooper Nolan Sanders was killed in a single-vehicle crash on I-795 near exit 22 at mile marker 19 in the Pikeville area of Wayne County, at 7:17 pm.

His patrol car left the roadway and struck a concrete culvert before landing on its side. Trooper Sanders suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

Trooper Sanders had served with the North Carolina Highway Patrol for five years and was assigned to Troop C, District 2. He is survived by his wife and 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



No US Icebreakers Working As USCGC Healy Limps Home

With one icebreaker down, the US has one left in port -- with no new ships scheduled to arrive for years.

WASHINGTON: The Coast Guard has lost its only deployed icebreaker after one of the ship’s main motors caught fire on August 18, an incident only reported by the service on Tuesday.

The USCGC Healy had just picked up a group of 11 scientists in Seward, Alaska to run experiments on ice flow patterns in the Arctic when the blaze struck. The ship is now sailing back home under its own power. It should arrive by Aug. 31, the Coast Guard confirms to Breaking Defense. As a result of the incident, the Coast Guard has canceled all Arctic operations at sea.

The Healy blaze means the US has no operational icebreakers capable of deploying, as the heavy icebreaker Polar Star just wrapped up a scheduled overhaul to prepare for a planned annual deployment to Antarctica in November. The Polar Star is currently in port in Seattle preparing for Operation Deep Freeze, which leads the breakout of McMurdo Sound to allow resupply of the McMurdo Station at Antarctica, the Coast Guard’s Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Brickey told me in an email...

Arson suspected in Bonhomme Richard fire, defense official says

SAN DIEGO — Arson is suspected as the cause of a July 12 fire that left extensive damage to the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard docked off San Diego, and a U.S. Navy sailor was being questioned as a potential suspect, a senior defense official said Wednesday.

The sailor was being questioned as part of the investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the official said, adding that defense department leaders were notified of the development. The official, with knowledge of the investigation, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to provide details not yet made public. The sailor was not detained.

The amphibious assault ship burned for more than four days and was the Navy’s worst U.S. warship fire outside of combat in recent memory.

The ship was left with extensive structural, electrical and mechanical damage and its future remains uncertain...

Competition For U.S. Long-Range Strike Mission Heats Up

Lockheed Martin Precision-Strike Missile

Long-range strike as a sector of U.S. military investment has not been so popular since perhaps Gen. Curtis LeMay’s Strategic Air Command reigned supreme over the Air Force in the 1950s. Whether in terms of missiles—hypersonic, supersonic or subsonic—or a new platform such as the stand-in Northrop Grumman B-21 or reengining of the standoff Boeing B-52H, the Air Force has multiple, overlapping development programs in progress.

For the first time, however, the popularity of the conventional long-range strike mission is no longer reserved for the Air Force. Since the signing of the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987, which led to the retirement of the Army’s Pershing II missile system, the Army has depended solely on Air Force surveillance and striking power to hit any target more than 185 mi. away.

That division of responsibilities was partly intended to establish clear lines of authority for weapons release on a dynamic battlefield to minimize the chances of a friendly fire incident. The other services also appeared content to focus their limited fiscal resources on other areas while the Air Force shouldered the financial burden for maintaining the long-range strike mission...




China Is Taking Advantage of India’s Intelligence Failures

New Delhi has failed to learn from its mistakes.

In June, soldiers from India and China engaged in a violent skirmish along the two countries’ unmarked border in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed, along with an unspecified number of their Chinese counterparts, in what was the first such confrontation since 1975 that resulted in fatalities.

New Delhi and Beijing have now embarked on a fitful process of de-escalation. But even as the two parties seek to restore some semblance of normalcy along their shared border, a critical question lingers: Why was India’s security establishment seemingly blindsided by China? Local officials in Ladakh have in fact been sounding the alarm about Chinese forays into Indian territory for years, a fact that points to a complete breakdown in New Delhi’s intelligence gathering and risk assessment.

It wouldn’t be the first time. And India doesn’t seem to be learning crucial lessons from previous security failures...






Flash Floods Kill At Least 100 In Afghanistan

Flash floods caused by torrential rains in Afghanistan have killed at least 100 people and injured more than 300 others in Parwan Province just north of Kabul, Afghan officials say. ... Afghanistan's state minister for natural-disaster management, told RFE/RL on August 26 that the floods had also destroyed more than 1,000 houses in the province. ... the death toll was likely to rise as rescue teams continue to locate victims people buried beneath destroyed houses...


China holds another round of naval drills in South China Sea

A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple territorial disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons. ... China is holding another round of military drills in the South China Sea amid an uptick in such activity in the area highlighting growing tensions. The Maritime Safety Administration said the exercises would run from Monday through Sunday. It warned outside vessels to steer 5 nautical miles (9.26 kilometers) clear of the drill area but otherwise gave no details...

US spy plane enters no-fly zone during Chinese live-fire naval drill

The US has sent spy planes over a live-fire Chinese military drill – including a U-2 which entered a declared no-fly zone – triggering a protest from Beijing and heightening the risk of an armed conflict.... The Beijing-based think tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative said a US Air Force RC-135S reconnaissance aircraft flew across the South China Sea on Wednesday, during the Chinese military drill. But it said it appeared the plane was on a transfer, rather than a reconnaissance mission. Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said a U-2 reconnaissance jet flew without permission over the no-fly zone in the PLA’s northern military region, where the live-fire drills were taking place...

Blanked-Out Spots On China's Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang's Camps

This project was supported by the Open Technology Fund, the Pulitzer Center, and the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism.

In the summer of 2018, as it became even harder for journalists to work effectively in Xinjiang, a far-western region of China, we started to look at how we could use satellite imagery to investigate the camps where Uighurs and other Muslim minorities were being detained. At the time we began, it was believed that there were around 1,200 camps in existence, while only several dozen had been found. We wanted to try to find the rest.

Our breakthrough came when we noticed that there was some sort of issue with satellite imagery tiles loading in the vicinity of one of the known camps while using the Chinese mapping platform Baidu Maps. The satellite imagery was old, but otherwise fine when zoomed out — but at a certain point, plain light gray tiles would appear over the camp location. They disappeared as you zoomed in further, while the satellite imagery was replaced by the standard gray reference tiles, which showed features such as building outlines and roads.

At that time, Baidu only had satellite imagery at medium resolution in most parts of Xinjiang, which would be replaced by their general reference map tiles when you zoomed in closer. That wasn’t what was happening here — these light gray tiles at the camp location were a different color than the reference map tiles and lacked any drawn information, such as roads. We also knew that this wasn’t a failure to load tiles, or information that was missing from the map. Usually when a map platform can’t display a tile, it serves a standard blank tile, which is watermarked. These blank tiles are also a darker color than the tiles we had noticed over the camps...


Iran announces locally made ballistic and cruise missiles amid U.S. tensions

Iran displayed a surface-to-surface ballistic missile on Thursday that Defence Minister Amir Hatami said had a range of 1,400 kilometres and a new cruise missile, ignoring U.S. demands that Tehran halt its missile programme. “The surface-to-surface missile, called martyr Qassem Soleimani, has a range of 1,400 km and the cruise missile, called martyr Abu Mahdi, has a range of over 1,000 km,” Hatami said in a televised speech. Pictures of the missiles were shown on state TV, which it said was “the newest Iranian cruise missile that will further strengthen Iran’s deterrence power”...

Iran says 'sabotage' caused blast at Natanz nuclear site

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said on Sunday that “sabotage” was the cause of an explosion that damaged the Natanz nuclear facility last month. “Security investigations confirm this was sabotage and what is certain is that an explosion took place in Natanz,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA. “But how this explosion took place and with what materials ... will be announced by security officials in due course.” Iran said after the incident on 2 July that it had determined its cause but declined to release details due to “security concerns”.

Iran To Allow Access To Suspected Nuclear Sites

Iran has agreed to allow inspections of two sites where nuclear activities are suspected to have taken place in the past, easing diplomatic pressure on Tehran as the United States seeks to reimpose UN sanctions. The announcement was made on August 26 in a joint statement by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Director-General Rafael Grossi was wrapping up his visit to Tehran...


U.S.-led troops withdraw from Iraq's Taji base

United States-led international coalition troops withdrew from Iraq’s Taji military base on Sunday and handed it over to Iraqi security forces, Reuters witnesses and the coalition said.
The base, 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, had been the site of frequent rocket attacks by Iran-backed militias targeting U.S.-led troops in recent months. The movement of coalition military personnel is part of a long-range plan coordinated with the government of Iraq,” the coalition said in a statement, adding that Camp Taji has historically held up to 2,000 coalition members, most of whom have departed this summer. Remaining coalition troops will depart in the coming days after finalising the handing over of equipment to Iraqi security forces, it added...


What's Driving Muslim Countries to Normalize Their Ties With Israel?

The waning influence of the pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism movements, combined with increasing U.S. pressure, will cause Oman, Bahrain and Morocco to soon join the United Arab Emirates in formalizing ties with Israel, accelerating a longer-term normalization trend that no longer hinges on the formation of a Palestinian state. The allure of Israel's technology and defense capabilities could also compel other Muslim states with covert ties and limited histories of overt conflict with Israel, such as Pakistan, to follow suit. Israel will, in turn, see expanding global economic ties that strengthen its post-pandemic recovery, as well as stronger regional allies that bolster its position against Iran should the upcoming U.S. election yield a less hawkish administration in Washington.

The major drivers that have traditionally kept Israel isolated in the Muslim world are changing, opening the door for states interested in enhanced trade and diplomatic ties to explore normalization.

Pan-Islamist and pan-Arabism movements once largely centered around anti-Israel narratives, which led many Muslims to support isolating from and even fighting wars with Israel. These movements, however, are weakening as a result of being partially discredited by their long records of fomenting unsuccessful conflicts with Israel, their history of governance that has not always improved living standards or delivered essential services, and their inspiration of radical extremists such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Pan-Islamist and pan-Arabism ideologies now remain most popular among older Muslim generations, who make up an increasingly small minority of the roughly 1.8 billion Muslims living around the world (the average age of Muslims worldwide was 24 in 2015)...


North Korea Doesn’t Trust China to Protect It

Pyongyang will never accept the shelter of another power’s nuclear umbrella.

When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for the first time in March 2018, the official topics of discussion were predictable: peace, denuclearization, industry, economic development, and deepening North Korea-China relations. That’s unsurprising for two countries that are each other’s only formal treaty allies and have been for decades. But the relationship is far more taut than public displays indicate. North Korea is happy to have Beijing on its side. But it’s never going to be willing to put its ultimate security in China’s hands. Nowhere is this more important than in denuclearization. The United States has been able to pressure allies, such as South Korea and Taiwan, out of the possibility of nuclear programs in the past, thanks to offers of protection—whether the ambiguous guarantees to Taiwan or the formal shelter of the U.S. nuclear umbrella offered to Japan and others. That makes the idea of a Chinese nuclear umbrella over North Korea an attractive and legitimate avenue for denuclearization—but one that Pyongyang itself will never agree to.

China and North Korea share ideological roots, and Beijing laid the foundation for an enduring alliance when it came to North Korea’s aid during the Korean War. But there are key differences between the North Korea-China alliance and the United States’ alliances with South Korea and Japan that make the creation of a Chinese nuclear umbrella over the North highly unlikely. Any offer would directly clash with three critical North Korean concerns in policymaking: adherence to the ideology of juche (“self-reliance”), economic entwinement with China, and maintaining nuclear leverage...




Despite a Rocky Start, UAE-Israeli Defense Ties Are Poised to Grow

The United Arab Emirates' desire to simultaneously upgrade its defense ties with Israel and the United States will probably create political controversy in both countries, though the benefits of deeper security cooperation with Abu Dhabi is more likely to earn greater support in Israel than Washington. On Aug. 25, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Emirati counterpart, Mohammed al-Bawardi, reportedly discussed possible security cooperation in their two countries' first publicly-known phone call since agreeing to normalize ties. The call came a day after the United Arab Emirates canceled a planned trilateral meeting with the United States and Israel in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public objection to the potential sale of the American F-35 stealth fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

- The pending arms deal between the United States and the United Arab Emirates was reportedly part of the negotiation process for the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and Abu Dhabi.

- Israel's unity government has been divided on whether to grant Abu Dhabi access to such fighter jets and other advanced weaponry, with Netanyahu reportedly holding discussions about the U.S. sale of F-35 jets in particular without Gantz.

- Most of Israel's center-right politicians, such as those in Gantz's Resilience Party as well as his former Likud party, oppose advanced arms sales to even friendly Arab Gulf states for fear the weapons systems or technologies might fall into anti-Israeli hands — a policy commonly known as Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME).//


FBI, DHS expose North Korean government malware used in fake job posting campaign

The FBI and DHS’ cybersecurity agency exposed malware Wednesday that North Korean government hackers have been using this year to target defense contractors in the military and energy sectors. The hackers have been targeting contractors with fake job postings from other defense contracting entities to lure them to click through and install the data-gathering implant on their systems, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in a joint Malware Analysis Report (MAR). The attacks leverage a remote access trojan (RAT), which the FBI and the CISA call “BLINDINGCAN,” to gain a foothold into networks and then maintain access for further network exploitation, the FBI and CISA said.




St. Pete protester caught with Molotov cocktail, loaded gun, police say [FL]

A St. Petersburg protester has been charged with terrorist activity after police discovered a Molotov cocktail in his car that was parked outside of police headquarters. ... Quraishi threw a round of ammunition at the direction of officers during the protest. Officers soon realized Quraishi was carrying a loaded firearm without a permit.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

We found it!

Friend of mine posted on FB, could not pass it up. This was a few years before me, I started off with Adam 12. But Steve finally found it!

But gotta love the song:
There's a holdup in the Bronx,
Brooklyn's broken out in fights.
There's a traffic jam in Harlem
That's backed up to Jackson Heights.
There's a scout troop short a child,
Khrushchev's due at Idlewild
Car 54, where Are You?

Here is the actual introduction.


Friday, August 28, 2020

Rock you like a Hurricane!

Twice in a week.

Not every week during hurricane season we get two named storms in the Gulf at once. First time in my memory. Fortunately Houston was spared, although the Texas/Louisiana border got hit hard. But the people on those coast are a hardy group, and they are used to this. They will repair, rebuild, and go on. And I gotta get a few things set up myself this weekend. A house is never finished.

Can't think of a better song for the end of this week. From my senior year in high school, the Scorpions!

Here's to a great weekend!

Officer Down

Trooper Justin R. Schaffer
Washington State Patrol, Washington
End of Watch Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Age 28
Tour 7 years
Badge 646

Trooper Justin Schaffer was struck and killed by a fleeing vehicle while attempting to deploy stop sticks during a vehicle pursuit along I-5 in Chehalis.

The suspect driving the vehicle had stolen an item from a convenience store in Lacey the previous day. The man had threatened the clerk with a stun gun and threatened to run him over. Thurston County deputies spotted the truck the following day and attempted to stop it in Maytown. The vehicle fled into Lewis County with deputies pursuing it.

Trooper Schaffer was struck by the subject as he attempted to deploy stop sticks near mile marker 79. The man continued to flee until stopping and barricading himself inside his vehicle several miles later. He was taken into custody by Thurston County deputies.

Trooper Schaffer had served with the Washington State Patrol for six years. He is survived by his wife, parents, and brother.\
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, August 26, 2020

Officer Down

Captain Jonathan Parnell
Detroit Police Department, Michigan
End of Watch Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Tour 31 years

Captain Jonathan Parnell died as the result of contracting COVID-19 while on duty.

Captain Parnell had served with the Detroit Police Department for 31 years and was assigned to the Homicide Unit. He is survived by three sons.

In early 2020, thousands of law enforcement officers and other first responders throughout the country contracted COVID-19 during the worldwide pandemic due to requirements of their job. Many of these first responders died as a result of COVID-19.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

What's Going On In The World Today 200824



The Limits to a U.S.-China Financial Divorce

Political and regulatory risks of investing in Chinese companies are increasing as the United States ramps up efforts to "decouple" its financial system from Beijing, including the White House's latest push to delist Chinese firms from U.S. exchanges. But given the sheer size of the U.S.-China financial relationship, which totals as much as $4 trillion (or 11 percent of the two countries' combined GDP), such efforts will see only limited success — keeping the world's two biggest economies linked for the foreseeable future...


Nile dam: Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan resume African Union-led talks
The three nations agree to present proposals on management of Ethiopia's controversial $4bn dam within two days.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced early on Wednesday that he is resigning from his post saying that he does not wish blood to be shed following a military mutiny that plunged the country into a political crisis.

"Today, certain parts of the military have decided that intervention was necessary. Do I really have a choice? Because I do not wish blood to be shed," Keita said in a brief statement broadcast on national television.

Keita said that he has decided "to give up my duty from now on."

It is unclear if the military is now officially in charge of the country.

Earlier, Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were detained by soldiers in a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis in the country...


A More Assertive China Drives Japan to Respond in Kind

Japan has long operated beyond the pacifist constraints of its post-war constitution, but a growing and more assertive China is accelerating Tokyo's development of offensive its capabilities. Japan's core strategic imperatives are shaped by economic concerns — the islands are resource-poor and thus import-dependent. This shaped its post-World War II Yoshida Doctrine, in which Japan largely outsourced its national security to the United States while focusing its energy on economic development at home. With Japan less confident in its dependence on the United States, the same vulnerability is now driving Tokyo to take on a more active role in its neighborhood. Japan's increased economic and security engagement in the Indo-Pacific provides a regional alternative to China for Southeast Asian nations, but may raise tensions with neighboring South Korea.

Moving Beyond the Yoshida Doctrine

Just as Chinese President Xi Jinping has moved China past Deng Xiaoping's doctrine, which called for China to avoid showing its strength while it rebuilt internal power, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to move beyond the strategy Japan adopted under its postwar prime minister, Shigeru Yoshida. Though several factors have shaped Japan's defense evolution, today Tokyo is driven by the changes in Chinese international behavior and the growth of Chinese power. China's economy has far surpassed Japan's, leaving the island nation a distant third behind the United States and China in national GDP. China is rapidly increasing its technological capabilities, challenging Japan in traditional areas of strength, from semiconductors to high-speed rail. China has increased its investment and trade footprint throughout the region via its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), supplanting earlier Japanese soft power gains.

China's navy development over the past decade has outstripped Japan's, and the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) now operates freely in the East and South China Seas, as well as into the West Pacific. Chinese construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, along with the Philippines' rebalance away from the United States toward China, raises the risk of interrupting vital Japanese maritime supply lines. Chinese port development and investment stretching through Southeast and South Asia and into East Africa also create additional areas where China could interfere with Japanese supply lines...

Carrier Ronald Reagan heads back into the South China Sea

The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and its strike group returned to the restive South China Sea Friday for a series of maritime air defense operations. The Japan-based carrier was last in the disputed waters in mid-July when it conducted dual-carrier ops with the carrier Nimitz. Earlier in July, the carrier strike groups and an Air Force B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana conducted a maritime integration exercise in the South China Sea. Training that began Friday also involved the guided-missile cruiser Antietam and the destroyers Mustin and Rafael Peralta, as well as Carrier Air Wing 5.

US finalizes sale of 66 F-16 fighters to Taiwan as China tensions escalate

Taiwan will receive 66 new American-made F-16 fighter jets in the biggest arms sale to the self-governing island in years. The deal finalized on Friday comes as China has been increasing pressure on the island, which Beijing considers to be an inseparable part of its territory. Friday's announcement was made on the website of United States Defense Department, under the contacts updated section. The posting said the US Air Force was awarding a contract to Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-16, for 90 of the planes as part of US foreign military sales...

China Says Latest US Sailing Near Taiwan 'Extremely Dangerous'

China's military said on Wednesday the latest U.S. Navy sailing near Chinese-claimed Taiwan was "extremely dangerous" and stirring up such trouble was in neither country's interests. The U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed through the narrow and sensitive Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, the U.S. navy said, in what have become relatively routine trips in recent months, though they always anger China. The Eastern Theatre Command of China's People's Liberation Army said its air and naval forces followed and monitored the U.S. ship throughout its voyage. "Any words or deeds that ... cause trouble in the Taiwan Strait are not in line with the fundamental interests of China and the United States, harm the well-being of compatriots on both sides of the strait, pose real threats to peace and stability in the region and are extremely dangerous," it said...




Jalisco cartel adopts new tactic: drones armed with C-4 explosive

More evidence has surfaced to indicate the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is using drones armed with C4 explosives to attack its enemies. A citizens’ militia group in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán, reports finding two drones inside an armored car that cartel hitmen had abandoned after an attempted raid on the city, which borders Jalisco, on July 25. The C4 was packed with ball bearings to serve as shrapnel in Tupperware-like containers that were equipped with a remote detonation system and duct-taped to the drones, militia members explained. The drones were found in a cardboard box that was soaked in blood, indicating to the militia members that whoever was intending to fly the drones was injured before they could be launched.


Afghans halt prisoner release, delaying talks with Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government said Monday it would not release the last 320 Taliban prisoners it is holding until the insurgents free more captured soldiers, defying a traditional council held last week and further delaying intra-Afghan talks sought by the United States.

The talks, which were laid out in a peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban in February, were expected to begin on Thursday but are now postponed indefinitely.

The ruling by the traditional council, or jirga, which called for the immediate release of the Taliban prisoners, had raised hopes of a breakthrough in the process.

The U.S.-Taliban peace deal called on the Taliban to free 1,000 government and military personnel and for the government to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners. The prisoner releases were to be a goodwill gesture ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at devising a postwar roadmap...


Don’t Discount the Dollar Yet

China may want to displace the dollar with the yuan as the global reserve currency, but its actions are leading to the opposite.

If some stories are easier to tell than others, the decline of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency is one of them. It’s not hard to see why. The cast of characters that avail themselves for the script includes international trade, financial architecture, great-power competition, cycles of history, and even parables from ancient Greece.

And on cue, the headlines are again churning out new versions of the familiar fable. New plot lines include the economic fallout of a global pandemic as well as a “capital war” between the United States and China, in which Washington usurps Beijing’s traditionally lonely role as the imposer of the restrictions on how capital can move between their two countries, frightening global investors, who then forsake the fallen dollar. Taken at face value, the headlines suggest that the dollar’s long-awaited dethroning may be here at last.

The Chinese Communist Party is the latest in a motley crew of conspirators serving, unwittingly, to prevent the dollar’s status.

But the economic forces that thwarted any demise of the dollar in the past persist. They continue to render any end to the dollar’s reserve status today unlikely. In fact, there is a new player keeping it on its throne: the Chinese Communist Party. It’s the latest arrival to the motley crew of conspirators serving, unwittingly, to prevent the currency from leaving its seat.

The dollar can’t be displaced with nothing, and mainland China’s currency, the yuan, was once the most-viable something. Global banks planned for it to “inevitably” replace the dollar. Economists speculated about the timing. The country’s growing economy, after all, is the world’s second largest. And Beijing is keen to take steps intended to promote its currency’s use in international trade. Officials in the world’s third-largest economy, the European Union, may voice similar intentions. But Beijing is not dealing in the currency of a monetary union that, according to research at its own central bank, maybe shouldn’t even exist. “Overall economic structures in euro area countries,” economists at the European Central Bank concluded in 2019, “are still not fully commensurate with the requirements of a monetary union...”


US intelligence indicates Iran paid bounties to Taliban for targeting American troops in Afghanistan

Washington (CNN) — US intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for targeting American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, identifying payments linked to at least six attacks carried out by the militant group just last year alone, including a suicide bombing at a US air base in December, CNN has learned.

"Bounties" were paid by a foreign government, identified to CNN as Iran, to the Haqqani network -- a terrorist group that is led by the second highest ranking leader of the Taliban -- for their attack on Bagram Air Base on December 11, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70 others, including four US personnel, according to a Pentagon briefing document reviewed by CNN.

The name of the foreign government that made these payments remains classified but two sources familiar with the intelligence confirmed to CNN that it refers to Iran...






N.K. owns up to 60 nuclear bombs, world's third-largest amount of chemical agents...

North Korea is believed to have up to 60 nuclear bombs and the world's third-largest stockpile of chemical weapons totaling up to 5,000 tons, the U.S. Army has said. The U.S. Department of the Army headquarters made the assessment in its report, titled "North Korean tactics," which was published last month, saying Pyongyang is unlikely to give up these weapons to ensure the regime's survival. "Estimates for North Korean nuclear weapons range from 20-60 bombs, with the capability to produce 6 new devices each year," the U.S. military said, noting that some reports state that the regime could obtain as many as 100 by the end of this year...




Israel, UAE: Flurry of Agreements Follows Normalization Announcement

What Happened: Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a series of agreements to allow phone calls between the two countries, unblock websites and collaborate on COVID-19 research, MiddleEastEye reported Aug. 17. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced that Israel is preparing for eventual direct flights to the United Arab Emirates.

Why It Matters: News of these agreements comes just days after Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced that they would normalize relations, and it is likely that further trade and investment deals will be signed in the coming weeks. The announcement of possible direct flights increases the focus on Saudi Arabia, as any agreement would require Saudi Arabia to open its airspace to Israeli airlines. So far, Saudi Arabia has neither issued a strident condemnation of the normalization process nor supported it, suggesting that Saudi Arabia may continue its tacit ties with Israel and facilitate certain ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, while not pursuing normalization itself. Saudi Arabia could also lean on Bahrain, a close ally, to facilitate ties with Israel.

Background: Beyond the Persian Gulf, other countries reportedly considering normalization with Israel include Morocco and Sudan. Oman and Bahrain are also close to Israel and may soon normalize some ties. Qatar has strong working ties with Israel, but its posture as a champion of the Palestinian cause may cause Doha to pursue a different path than full normalization.

In Syria, the Specter of an Expanded U.S. Mission Reemerges

A skirmish in northeast Syria indicates the United States remains willing to respond with proportional force to increased harassment from President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as Damascus and its Russian allies seek ways to incentivize the withdrawal of U.S. troops. On Aug. 17, U.S. forces reportedly engaged with Syrian troops at a Syrian-run checkpoint near the town of Qamishli in the country's far northeast. The U.S. military is investigating the cause of the skirmish, though the engagement happened amid escalating tensions between Syrian forces and the remaining U.S. patrols in the country following the White House's repeated attempts to reduce its military presence...

Trump Administration Pushes Arms Sale to U.A.E. Despite Israeli Worries

The Trump White House is quietly planning sales of F-35 stealth fighters and advanced drones to the Emiratis as part of a wider plan to realign the Middle East, but Israel and Congress may object.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has accelerated a push to sell the F-35 stealth fighter and advanced armed drones to the United Arab Emirates, at a time when the Gulf nation is working with the Trump administration on a historic plan to formalize diplomatic ties with Israel, according to American officials familiar with the discussions.

Administration officials in recent weeks gave a classified briefing about the F-35 to the Emirati military — despite some concerns among National Security Council staff about the wisdom of disclosing details on one of the Pentagon’s most advanced weapons to a foreign government before a decision about a potential arms sale has been completed.

American officials deny that the new push to sell the advanced weapons is a direct reward for the Emirati role in a diplomatic breakthrough, announced by President Trump last week, where the Emirates would become just the third Arab nation to recognize Israel. In exchange, Israel will suspend annexation of occupied West Bank territory...




Former CIA and FBI Employee Charged with Providing Government Secrets to China

A 67-year-old former CIA officer and FBI linguist was arrested Friday after allegedly selling U.S. government secrets to China for thousands of dollars spanning multiple years, court documents unsealed Monday reveal. Alexander Yuk Ching Ma was formally charged with conspiracy to communicate national defense information to assist a foreign government, the Justice Department said in a press release. If convicted, he’ll face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. “This serious act of espionage is another example in a long string of illicit activities that the People's Republic of China is conducting within and against the United States,” Alan Kohler Jr., assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division said in a statement, echoing recently increasing sentiments of government and Trump administration officials accusing China of national and trade secret theft...




US, Russia still at odds over new nuclear arms treaty

The United States and Russia concluded two days of arms control talks Tuesday with the two sides still at odds over the U.S. demand to include China in any new treaty but showing signs of a possible willingness to extend the existing New START deal, which expires next year. ... The U.S. argues that any new nuclear arms limitation treaty should cover all types of warheads, include better verification protocols and transparency measures, and be extended to include China, which has been increasing its own arsenal. China has rejected the idea as an American ploy to avoid a new deal and said that it would gladly participate if the U.S. would agree to nuclear parity among all nations. China was invited to participate in the Vienna talks but did not send a delegation. Russia, meanwhile, has said that if China is part of a new treaty, Britain and France should also be included...

Army Street Gang Activity Is Increasing, Internal Report Shows

The most recent report from the Army on street and outlaw motorcycle gang activity in the ranks shows both trending upward, while incidents of domestic extremism remain roughly constant. An internal report, obtained by Military.com through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that gang members were tied to dozens of Army felony law enforcement reports and more than 100 criminal investigations in fiscal 2018, the latest year for which data is available. While these reports and investigations make up less than 1% of all Army law enforcement incidents, the new report shows that the little-discussed problem of military gang activity continues to be a headache for base commanders and other service leaders.... That increase holds true across categories: Street gang activity shows a 68% year-over-year increase, from 38 to 64 incidents, while outlaw motorcycle gangs had a 60% increase, from 10 to 16 incidents. Domestic extremist events remained few, increasing from 2 to 3 year over year.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Officer Down

Corrections Officer IV Amanda L. De Leon
Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas
End of Watch Friday, March 20, 2020
Age 30
Tour 6 years

Corrections Officer IV Amanda Lee De Leon was killed in a vehicle crash on Highway 281, five miles south of George West, Texas while traveling from the Lopez State Jail to the Connally Unit for an assignment.

Her vehicle left the roadway during a period of rain and overturned.

Officer De Leon had served with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for six years. She is survived by her parents and brother.
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. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Officer Down

Police Officer Kaia LaFay Grant
Springdale Police Department, Ohio
End of Watch Saturday, March 21, 2020
Age 33
Tour 8 years
Badge 2023

Police Officer Kaia Grant was killed when she was intentionally struck by a vehicle during a pursuit at 8:30 pm.

The pursuit began in a neighboring jurisdiction when officers attempted to stop an armed, suicidal subject. The pursuit proceeded onto I-275 where Officer Grant and a police sergeant were preparing to deploy stop sticks near State Route 4. The driver intentionally swerved toward them, striking them both.

Officer Grant was flown to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The sergeant suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The subject was taken into custody.

Officer Grant had served with the Springdale Police Department for eight years. She is survived by her parents.
Rest in Peace Sis…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

Friday, August 21, 2020

Reaching for the Morning Sun...

Been looking back at some the music popular from my yute, and found this gem. It was years before I found it was not Morning Sun, its real title was True Faith. I seem to be drawn to songs about drug addition, although I've never used any illegal narcotics. The also narcotic I've ever used was alcohol.

Anyway, a long weekend awaits. I can see daylight at the end of the tunnel on my rebuild of the garage. And I have to be up early on Sunday, benefit ride for an injured officer. Can't wait for the ride, need to get out on my bike.

Anyway, New Order's hit, True Faith. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend.

Officer Down

Senior Deputy Christopher Scott Korzilius
Travis County Sheriff's Office, Texas
End of Watch Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Age 32
Tour 4 years

Senior Deputy Christopher Korzilius was killed in a vehicle crash in the 7700 block of RM 2244 at 6:50 am.

His unmarked department was struck by an oncoming vehicle that had veered into his travel lane. His vehicle overturned, trapping him inside. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Deputy Korzilius had served with the Travis County Sheriff's Office for four years and was assigned to the VICE Unit.
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, August 19, 2020

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Kenterrous Taylor
Bibb County Sheriff's Office, Georgia
End of Watch Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Age 27
Tour 3 years, 5 months
Badge 2290
Deputy Sheriff Kenterrous Taylor was killed in a single-vehicle crash near the intersection of Forsyth Road and Napier Avenue while responding to a burglary in progress call at 1:30 am.

His patrol car left the roadway, struck a wall, and overturned several times. Deputy Taylor was ejected from the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries.

Deputy Taylor had served with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office for one year and had previously served with the Fort Valley State University Police Department for two years. He is survived by his father, who also serves with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office.
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, August 17, 2020

Officer Down

Police Officer Christopher Ryan Walsh
Springfield Police Department, Missouri
End of Watch Monday, March 16, 2020
Age 32
Tour 3 years, 6 months
Badge 1827
Incident Date Sunday, March 15, 2020
Police Officer Chris Walsh was shot and killed as he and another officer confronted an active shooter at a convenience store at 2885 E Chestnut Expressway.

Dispatchers had received numerous calls about shootings at various locations throughout the city between 11:24 pm and 11:43 pm, including one reporting a vehicle crash and shooting at the convenience store. Officer Walsh and another officer arrived at the scene and immediately engaged the shooter.

Both officers were shot in the ensuing exchange of gunfire. Additional officers who arrived at the scene extricated both officers and transported them to the hospital where Officer Walsh passed away.

The subject committed suicide before being taken into custody. Prior to exchanging shots with the officers, the man shot four citizens inside of the store, killing three of them.

Officer Walsh was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the Springfield Police Department for 3-1/2 years. He is survived by his wife and 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 200817



How Does The U.S. Army Expect To Hide A Giant Warehouse Full Of Weapons From China?

How Does The U.S. Army Expect To Hide A Giant Warehouse Full Of Weapons From China?

As the Chinese military grows more powerful, the U.S. military—the Army in particular—needs a new strategy for deterring China.

The new strategy should include secret stores of weaponry, according to RAND, a California think tank with close ties to the U.S. military.

“Because China probably will be able to contest all domains of conflict across the broad swath of the region by the mid-2030s, the U.S. Army, as part of the joint force, will need to be able to respond immediately to crises or contingencies at various points of contention,” RAND explained in an August report.

“To be ‘inside the wire’ at the outset of a crisis or conflict will require a combination of forward-based forces, light and mobile expeditionary forces and interoperable allied forces.”

For decades, the Army’s expeditionary forces—that is, U.S.-based troops who travel quickly and on short notice to distant battlefields—have relied in part on the service’s so-called “Army prepositioned stocks,” or APS, to kit up for the fighting...

USAF Stages ARRW Captive-Carry Test, Merges DARPA Payload

The latest trial by the 419th Flight Test Sqdn. (FLTS) at Edwards AFB, California, confirmed that the Navy’s sea-range ground stations at Point Mugu, California, can receive transmissions of telemetry and GPS data from the instrumented measurement vehicle, the Air Force said in an Aug. 8 news release.

The second test appears to clear the Air Force to move forward with a series of powered test flights of the AGM-183A, beginning with a booster flight test before year-end...

...When the Air Force launched the ARRW program in 2017, service officials expected to leverage flight-test data from the Tactical Boost-Glide (TBG) program, which is funded jointly by DARPA and the Air Force. The TBG and ARRW were expected to use a similar, if not identical, high lift-to-drag-ratio HGV. DARPA planned to complete flight tests of the TBG in 2019, so the performance data could be used to inform any changes necessary for ARRW, which completed the critical design review in February 2020...

...The Air Force plans to fire the AGM-183A at the most heavily guarded targets, using the weapon’s agility at hypersonic speed to evade missile defenses. The Air Force expects to field the first four AGM-183As by the end of fiscal 2022. The booster tests this year and next year will be followed by flight tests of the all-up round, including the release of the TBG-derived HGV payload, starting in October 2021...

Homicides rise across US cities amid pandemic and economic crisis
As the United States struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and attendant economic disruption, another problem may be looming – murder rates have risen in many of America’s largest cities. Murders are up by double-digit percentages in cities across America, including New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, according to crime statistics, while some smaller cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida, have also seen significant increases. Rates of homicide and gun assault began to increase in late May, according to data from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, and while the murder rate is still low compared with previous decades, the evidence is clear: the situation is worsening.


Many killed in ethnic violence in eastern DR Congo

At least 19 killed and two others wounded in attacks on three villages in the troubled province of Ituri.

At least 19 civilians have been killed and two others wounded in attacks on three villages in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) province of Ituri, a local chief said on Monday.

The attacks took place on Sunday in the Banyali Kilo area, Innocent Madukadala told AFP news agency, blaming the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO), an armed group accused of ethnic attacks.

"They killed 19 people ... some were killed by machete and others were shot dead," he said.

US spy planes in South China Sea ‘creating risk’ for civilian aircraft

The US Air Force is creating risks for passenger flights over the South China Sea with its close-in reconnaissance missions near the Chinese coast, a Chinese military source and observers have warned. ... The US has reportedly stepped up its reconnaissance activities near the southern Chinese coast in recent weeks, with a night operation by an E-8C plane on August 5 prompting Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to initiate a 90-minute phone call with his American counterpart Mark Esper...

U.S. Marines Can Beat The Chinese Navy—But Only If The Marines Stay Hidden

... It’s a dangerous plan, but it just might work—provided you can avoid detection. China has more ships, planes and troops in the area than the United States does. If they spot you, you’re in big trouble. Just how you avoid detection while also staying in touch with other units and your headquarters is of utmost importance to the U.S. campaign. Rarely has so much depended on the ability of a few young Marines to use a radio. That’s the subject of a fascinating essay by Brian Kerg, a Marine Corps officer currently serving as the fleet amphibious communications officer for U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “The high risk assumed by inside forces makes signature- management a paramount requirement for success,” Kerg wrote for The Center for International Maritime Security in Washington, D.C. Marine forces possess an array of radio systems, but just one type meets the needs of a secretive island outpost. “The high-frequency band is the premier option,” according to Kerg. “Communications systems using frequency bands higher than HF remain easily detectable; in concert with their low footprint, rapid set-up and network flexibility, HF radios are the most viable candidate for successful signature management...

More than 9,000 arrests in Ethiopia since June killing of singer
Rights panel says arrests raise fears that Abiy Ahmed's government is returning to iron-fisted tactics of past regimes.

Ethiopia has arrested more than 9,000 people after deadly clashes last month, the state-run human rights commission has told the Reuters news agency, raising fears that a government hailed for reforms is returning to the iron-fisted tactics of past administrations.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 promising democratic changes in one of Africa's most repressive nations, is struggling to rein in resurgent ethnic nationalism that sporadically explodes in bouts of violence.

Abiy's changes have unleashed old disputes over land, resources and local power, and he now faces the challenge of protecting citizens while preserving fledgling freedoms that helped win him the Nobel Peace Prize last year. He has promised to hold Ethiopia's first free and fair elections in 2021, which would be a milestone for Africa's second-most-populous nation...


12 Years After Russian Invasion, Georgia Sees No End in Sight

But far from being intimidated, Georgia’s envoy to the United States says Russia’s intervention has only redoubled the country’s desire to join NATO and the European Union.

This week marks 12 years since Russia’s five-day invasion of Georgia allowed two provinces to break away, splintering the Caucasian nation. Now, its ambassador to the United States only sees further bad behavior from Moscow, which has used the coronavirus pandemic to harden borders and spread misinformation about the response to the virus.

“Unfortunately, after six months of the aggression against Georgia, business with Russia went back to normal,” David Bakradze, Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, told Foreign Policy in an interview. But he says the international community has become increasingly wary of Russian involvement in the conflict.

To mark the anniversary, the United States and seven European nations urged Russia to withdraw their troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as Georgian officials warn of an increasingly grave human rights situation. Russian-backed authorities have denied medical evacuations from the breakaway provinces, while Moscow has poured more than 10,000 troops into the area...


'Most sophisticated tunnel in US history' discovered between Mexico and Arizona

Although it’s not clear exactly what the structure was intended for, it had ventilation, a rail system and extensive reinforcement

An incomplete tunnel found stretching from Mexico to Arizona appears to be “the most sophisticated tunnel in US history”, authorities said.

The tunnel, intended for smuggling, ran from a neighborhood in San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico, to San Luis, Arizona, where it stopped short of reaching the surface. It was built in an area that’s not conducive to tunnels because of the terrain, and it had a ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, a rail system and extensive reinforcement, federal officials say.

“What makes this one unique is that the terrain in Yuma is very hard … the sand is very loose, and most of them end up caving. So the fact that the material was very well built and it had ventilation, it had water, it had a rail system with walls, roof, floor, electrical, makes this one a very unique type of tunnel,” said Angel Ortiz, the assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Yuma. HSI is a division of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement...

...The tunnel measured 3ft (about 1m) wide and 4ft (1.2m) high...

...HSI said the tunnel ran from Mexico to a disused Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in San Luis, Arizona, just about 200 yards (180m) north of the border

Afghanistan to release 400 'hard-core' Taliban prisoners in bid for peace
KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan government agreed on Sunday to release 400 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks aimed at ending almost two decades of war.

The insurgent group welcomed the move and said it was ready to begin talks within 10 days of the release...

...The Taliban militant had demanded the release of the 400, the last batch among 5,000 prisoners to be freed, as a condition to join peace talks...

...Among the 400 are Taliban members accused of major attacks against civilians and foreigners, including a 2017 truck bombing near the German embassy in Kabul that killed more than 150 people - the deadliest attack in the 19-year insurgency.

Taliban and official sources have told Reuters the group includes members of the militant Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban.

With the release, the Afghan government will fulfil its pledge to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners...

New China-Pakistan Axis Undermines U.S. in Afghanistan, Strengthens Uighur Persecution

China and Pakistan have begun an unprecedented intelligence-sharing arrangement in an attempt to secure Beijing's influence in Afghanistan at the expense of the American government.... The new relationship is the culmination of a series of previously unreported moves, designed to help China exploit its economic investments in Afghanistan while also stifling outcry over its persecution of the Uighur minority Muslim population near China's western border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. The timing of the new relationship has become deeply consequential as President Donald Trump intensifies his designs to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. It has created new concerns among American intelligence officials, who believe China will capitalize on ongoing problems in the administration's effort to secure a peace deal with the Taliban and that Beijing will further expand its influence into other contested parts of the region...


China’s Soft-Power Grab
Beijing is ramping up support for U.N. and a host of other international organizations, racking up more influence even as Washington is in headlong retreat.

Beijing as a menacing and bullying superpower. But at the United Nations headquarters, China is still viewed as a model country.

Beijing is investing tens of millions of dollars in international peacekeeping and mediation missions, increasing its diplomatic support for global health and sustainable development initiatives, and urging Chinese nationals to pursue a life of service at the U.N. and other international organizations. In contrast to the United States, which owes the U.N. more than $1 billion in unpaid dues, China pays its bills on time and in full. With the Trump administration accelerating its retreat from U.N. and other multilateral bodies, the Chinese government is playing offense.

The pandemic has provided China with a rare opportunity to showcase the supposed benefits of authoritarian rule at a time when the world’s leading democratic nation is floundering, and U.S. President Donald Trump is beating a retreat from the international order that America built to manage the world. But some believe that China has squandered a historic chance to advance its cause for global leadership through a secretive and ham-handed initial response to the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and by using the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen its grip on Hong Kong, flex its muscles in the South China Sea and on Taiwan, and clash with Indian forces on its border...

Chinese Espionage: A Far-Reaching and Long-Lasting Threat

Speaking at a recent event hosted by the Hudson Institute, FBI Director Christopher Wray discussed Chinese espionage, the threat it poses to the U.S. economy and national security. Director Wray characterized the theft of U.S. intellectual property as “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history.”

Some U.S. businesses have closed their doors and many Americans have lost their jobs because of this effort by the Chinese. Overall, the losses to U.S. businesses come to over a trillion dollars.

To place this amount in perspective, consider the Sinovel espionage case. American Superconductor, a U.S. company, had its proprietary software stolen by Sinovel, a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer. The theft cost the U.S. company $800 million, forcing it to lay off 600 of its 900 employers. It also cost investors one billion dollars.

The Sinovel case is but one example. Director Wray remarked, “We’ve now reached the point where the FBI is opening a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours. Of the nearly 5,000 active FBI counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China. And at this very moment, China is working to compromise American health care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions conducting essential COVID-19 research...”

BeiDou a threat to the West, but perhaps not individuals

Recent completion of China’s BeiDou satellite navigation system has rekindled privacy and security concerns among some in the West. China has incorporated a two-way messaging capability into BeiDou that many fear will be used to track individuals and install malware on user devices. Most satellite navigation experts view such concerns as far overblown. At the same time, though little discussed, BeiDou’s completion does signal a new phase for China’s status as a world power and its ability to challenge the West on many fronts...


Iran’s president, FM lash out at new US push on arms embargo

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president and foreign minister lashed out on Wednesday at a revised proposal by the U.S. that would extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran indefinitely, the latest in the Trump administration’s maximum pressure policy against Iran.

Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.

The U.S. on Tuesday circulated the revised draft at the U.N., seeking to gain more support in the 15-member Security Council where veto-wielding Russia and China have voiced strong opposition. The revised draft, which eliminated some provisions from the earlier version that diplomats said went beyond the extension of the arms embargo, may be put to a vote as early as Friday.

Still, with Russia and China sharply critical of the U.S. effort to indefinitely extend the arms embargo, the two will likely use their veto powers even if the draft got the minimum nine “yes” votes in the council, which appears unlikely...


Rockets Fired at US Embassy in Baghdad

Reports are flooding into media outlets that the US Embassy in central Baghdad has been hit with three rockets. It is understood that the attack took place 40 minutes ago which was shortly after sirens were heard across the capital. As yet no reports of any injuries have been reported but emergency services were seen speeding towards the well-fortified building.


Israel says it shot down drone on Golan Heights overnight

Israel’s military said on Friday it had shot down a drone overnight that crossed into Israeli airspace near Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau at the frontier with Syria. No other details were given, though the army said it was not connected to the triggering of sirens later in the day by a false alarm regarding a drone infiltration...


North Korea’s Artillery Could Inflict 200,000 Casualties In Just One Hour

Think 200,000 casualties in one hour. That’s 3,333 people killed or wounded per minute, or about 55 people per second. ... It’s the potential human toll if North Korea’s immense arsenal of artillery were fired at South Korea, according to a new study by U.S. think tank RAND Corp. ... RAND examined various scenarios in which Pyongyang used artillery as a psychological tool.... “The truth is that the North Korean military is not adequate for invading South Korea,” says Bonds. “They cannot maintain an offensive for very long and their forces would be very vulnerable in to air and ground attack.” However, North Korea has another option: the 5,700 long- and medium-range howitzers and multiple rocket launchers along the 160-mile Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. These weapons are heavily fortified, including tunnels that allow the guns to emerge to shoot a few quick rounds and then duck inside before enemy aircraft and artillery can destroy them...

Ri Pyong Chol: Kim’s New Right Hand Man?

On July 8, The Korea Herald proclaimed that Ri Pyong Chol had risen to “number five” in North Korea’s hierarchy, based on official photographs of his placement at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun memorial tribute to Kim Il Sung. While it is generally not advisable to put too much stock in the changing positions and protocol order of North Korea’s senior officials, the rise of Ri Pyong Chol is worth further analysis. Given Kim Jong Un’s consolidation of authority over Party and state, a decision to elevate a key subordinate like Ri could provide insights into Kim’s plans and priorities. Similarly, decisions to highlight or quote a particular top official other than Kim Jong Un in state media outlets can also provide deeper insights into the regime’s internal and external signaling. As a result, Ri Pyong Chol’s new status and his history merit a deeper look—particularly due to his close association with North Korea’s strategic weapons programs.

At the Right Hand of Kim

The Kumsusan visit was not the first time Ri Pyong Chol has been shown alongside Kim Jong Un in state media. Most recently, Ri was shown sitting at Kim’s right hand in unusual state media coverage of the small “closed-door” meeting of the Central Military Commission (CMC) on July 18. This meeting followed a much larger session with a broad cross-section of military and defense industry leaders, where Ri was shown in photos and video as the only other official on stage with Kim—elevated over an audience of dozens of top generals and other senior officials. He was also the only participant mentioned by name in the KCNA report of these events besides Kim himself, further indicating that Ri’s leadership role as vice chairman clearly set him above and apart from the other members of the CMC...


Russia Seeks Lead With Accelerated Stealth Drone Program

Russia Seeks Lead With Accelerated Stealth Drone Program

Russia revealed plans this week to speed development of its S-70 Okhotnik (Hunter) stealth attack drone, with deliveries now scheduled for 2024 rather than 2025 as originally planned. This stands in contrast to the U.S., where plans for similar drones are moving ahead slowly and cautiously.

The new plan was disclosed after Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Yuri Slyusar, CEO of developers United Aircraft Corporation on 3 August. The Okhotnik is being developed by UAC subsidiary Sukhoi, and first flew in August last year. It is a substantial aircraft: according to Russian news agency Interfax, it can carry over 13,000 pounds of bombs and has a range of over 3,000 miles. As well as bombs and surface-to-air missiles, the drone can carry air-to-air missiles and reconnaissance gear.

According to Slyusar the Okhotnik has ‘unprecedented capabilities’ in terms of range and variety of weapons.

The flying-wing shape indicates a high degree of stealth. Unlike the U.S. Air Force’s current workhorse MQ-9 Reaper, Okhotnik is designed for full-blown conflicts, rather than counter-insurgency operations against opponents with no air defenses. In this regard it bears a distinct resemblance to Northrop Grumman’s X-47B strike drone project. However, it appears to be following a quite different development path...


In Historic Deal With the UAE, Israel Is the Biggest Winner

And Saudi Arabia may well stand to lose the most.

No matter how one reads the diplomatic deal announced Thursday between Israel and the United Arab Emirates­—and there will surely be many supporters and detractors given its historic nature—there is one conclusion that seems irrefutable: Israel was the biggest victor.

Israel, and specifically its embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has scored a huge victory. In suspending threats to annex parts of the West Bank in return for full normalization of relations with the UAE, he has given himself room to back away from a promise that may have been popular but never realistic. Netanyahu thus pocketed normalization with a rising Arab power in return for something he wasn’t likely to do and was not in Israel’s long-term interest. In diplomatic circles, that’s what you call a coup.

To be sure, the UAE gets plenty in return. In striking the bargain, it solidifies both a leadership status in the Arab world and its outsized role in geopolitics. Enhanced and formalized bilateral cooperation in sectors such as energy, medicine, technology, and military industry will also reap large dividends for both countries. Already ambitious and entrepreneurial, the two societies will get an opportunity to team up without having to worry about politics. The sky is the limit in terms of technological advancements that will benefit the region and possibly the world...

Unified Gulf Council Backs Extension of Iran Arms Embargo

The Gulf Cooperation Council called for the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Iran, an effort that dovetails with U.S. efforts to persuade Russia and China not to veto a resolution the Trump administration plans to introduce.

In a letter to the Security Council sent Saturday and obtained by Bloomberg News, the GCC called on the Security Council to extend the embargo and “further impose any additional measures necessary to prevent the destabilizing proliferation of Iranian weapons, such as a targeted asset freeze and travel ban on individuals involved in the supply, sale or transfer of arms or related materiel to or from Iran.”

Iran “has continued to proliferate weapons across the region as an integral part of its expansionist regional policy and longstanding interference in the internal affairs of Arab States, including GCC member states, in clear violation of the UN Charter,” the group wrote. It was sent by GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf.

The letter is a rare show of unity from the group -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia -- in the three years since four of the states led by the Saudis severed diplomatic and trade dies with Qatar over accusation that it supported militant groups and had meddled in their internal affairs for years. Qatar denies the claims...


The US Government Is Spamming Random Iranians and Russians With Text Messages

On Thursday night, people in Russia and Iran started getting weird text messages. The texts offered people $10 million for information about cyber threats related to the upcoming U.S. election. It had a handy link where respondents could report tips. The U.S. State Department has admitted responsibility for the text messages, according to Reuters. The State Department told Reuters in an email that the unsolicited text messages were meant to build awareness internationally. “This is a worldwide campaign in multiple languages,” State told Reuters...

FBI says an Iranian hacking group is attacking F5 networking devices

A group of elite hackers associated with the Iranian government has been detected attacking the US private and government sector, according to a security alert sent by the FBI last week. While the alert, called a Private Industry Notification, didn't identify the hackers by name... the group is tracked by the larger cyber-security community under codenames such as Fox Kitten or Parisite.... FBI officials also warn that this group isn't targeting any particular sector, and any company running a BIG-IP device is likely to be targeted...


Drone Crash Due To GPS Interference In U.K. Raises Safety Questions

Drone Crash Due To GPS Interference In U.K. Raises Safety Questions

A British survey drone crashed into a house and fell outside due to GPS interference, according to a report by the U.K.’s Air Accident Board. The 25-pound drone fell from sufficient height to cause serious injury or death, but fortunately no one was present at the time.

A second drone sent up to find the crash site almost suffered the same fate.

The incident occurred in December during a routine construction site survey with a DJI Matrice 600 Pro, essentially a scaled-up version of DJI’s popular consumer quadcopters. Operators had previously noted interference with the satellite navigation signal, but these had not caused serious problems. On the final launch though, the drone rose to an altitude of a hundred feet and reported a GPS compass error.

When this happens the drone automatically reverts to a manual flight mode and hovers in place. It uses a barometric pressure sensor to maintain altitude, but without knowing its movement relative to the ground it drifts with the wind. Normally the operator would take over control, but in this case they were taken by surprise and the drone sailed behind trees on a stiff 15 mph wind, disappearing out of sight and manual control range over an industrial site.

The drone maintained its height above sea level, but the rising ground meant that it was at rooftop level when it reached a housing estate a few hundred meters beyond. It struck a house, damaging rotors, and fell into the garden...

...The drone operator launched a second drone to go looking for the crash site, as they had only a rough idea where it was. This also gave a signal interference error and the second drone was quickly and safely landed.

The source of the interference has not been identified. It may have come from a GPS jammer. Sold as ‘personal privacy devices’ these can be easily obtained on the internet for $30. These are legal to own, but illegal to operate in the U.K. They are typically used by truck drivers and others who do not wish their vehicles location to be recorded, but interfere with all GPS receivers within line of sight. The GPS signal from orbiting satellites is very weak, equivalent to a car headlight from 12,000 miles away, so is easily swamped by a nearby transmitter no more powerful than a cellphone.

The incident raises questions over civil drone safety, especially with larger drones which present a significant injury risk. Planned drone delivery services, like Google GOOGL ’s Wing and Amazon’s Prime Air will need robust navigation that will not go off-course – or crash – when exposed to GPS interference. Especially when there are many people who do not like the idea of drones flying over their towns and are willing to act against them. Accidental GPS interference is also an increasing issue, with concern in the U.S. that the Ligado Networks’ 5G transmitters will interfere with any precision GPS – like those on survey drones – within two miles...




New York's MTA is asking Apple to create a Face ID that works with masks

New York's mass transit agency is calling on Apple to create a Face ID that works with masks in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus on the city's buses and subways. Patrick Foye, the CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook ... asking the tech company to develop better Face ID technology, so that people don't have to remove their face masks off to unlock their phones while riding transit. ... "We have observed customers removing their masks in order to unlock their iPhones with Face ID in order to use their devices for other purposes, when standing on the platform and riding our buses, subways and commuter railroads," Foye wrote....