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Monday, May 31, 2021

An  excellent column from Max Dribbler in today’s American Free News Network. He is right,it’s not a “happy day,” but a somber commendation.

Makes me recall Lincoln’s finest words, 

“…But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”
Here is the first few columns and the link. 

Memorial Day: In Remembrance-Many Gave some, Some Gave All! Never Forget!

Max Dribbler 5/31/2021 12:02 PM

Memorial Day always brings out a bit of the “Grinch” in me. I feel an obligation to inform my circle of influence in the form of friends, relatives, work colleagues and frenemies alike about the origins and purpose of Memorial Day. Over the past decade or so I’ve endeavored to be the “firstest” to send a Memorial Day message to avoid the urge that comes over me- that I can’t ignore- to remind people that Memorial Day is a somber celebration of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

There may be BBQs, picnics and days off with family and friends, but it is not a “happy” day: no “Happy Memorial Days” for me…. 

Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day following the Civil War, when on 25 April 1866 a chaplain and local women placed flowers on soldier’s graves at Friendship Cemetery, Columbus, Missouri, to honor the 1600 soldiers who died in the Battle of Shiloh. There was no Blue or Gray distinction made in the tribute, nor rancor felt toward the Union Army that still occupied much of the south. Honoring all soldiers who served and sacrificed was reported locally and widely at a time when the Civil War remained a great source of angst and disagreement…. 

Officer Down

Lieutenant Erik L. Lloyd
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada
End of Watch Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Age 53
Tour 30 years
Cause COVID19

Lieutenant Erik Lloyd died after contracting COVID-19 as the result of a presumed exposure while on duty.

Lieutenant Lloyd had served with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for 30 years and was assigned to the Force Investigation Team. He is survived by his wife, two children, five grandchildren, and parents.

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. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Officer Down

Special Agent John Bost, III
United States Department of Justice - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Government
End of Watch Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Tour 20 years
Cause Gunfire (Inadvertent)

Special Agent John Bost was killed as the result of an accidental discharge of a rifle inside of the Kīhei police station in Maui, Hawaii.

Special Agent Bost had served with the ATF for 15 years and had previously served with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, North Carolina, for five years. He is survived by his 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. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Officer Down

Corrections Officer V Eric Johnson
Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division, Texas
End of Watch Monday, July 27, 2020
Age 37
Tour 18 years
Cause COVID19
Incident Date Sunday, July 26, 2020

Corrections Officer V Eric Johnson died after contracting COVID-19 during an outbreak among staff and inmates at the Byrd Unit in Huntsville, Texas.

Officer Johnson had served with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 18 years. He is survived by his wife, four children, and parents. His wife, father, and stepmother also work for the agency.

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. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Officer Down

Corrections Officer IV Ruben Martinez
Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division, Texas
End of Watch Sunday, July 26, 2020
Age 48
Tour 2 years
Cause COVID19
Incident Date Monday, July 13, 2020

Corrections Officer IV Ruben Martinez died after contracting COVID-19 during an outbreak among staff and inmates at the Lopez State Jail.

Officer Martinez had served with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for two years. He is survived by his three children.

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. 

What's Going On In The World Today 210524











Nagorno-Karabakh Is Moscow’s Latest Frozen Conflict

Russian peacekeepers have radically reshaped the region.

Dadivank, a beautiful Armenian monastery in the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan, could be the world’s most fortified church: Its ancient ramparts bristle with sandbags and gun emplacements, and cloisters have been turned into an army barracks. Just six months ago, Armenian pilgrims could worship here freely and in peace. Now, the only way to visit is with a Russian army escort that leaves twice a month from Stepanakert, the regional capital of what remains of the self-declared Republic of Artsakh, an Armenian breakaway region that controls just over two-thirds of Nagorno-Karabakh. The fate of this 12th-century monastery has become a flash point for the conflict over Armenian cultural heritage in land recently retaken by Azerbaijan.

As we stood in the courtyard of Dadivank after a recent Sunday service, Narik, my Armenian escort, pointed to the remains of an old water tower on a hill above us. “There is an Azerbaijani outpost right over there,” he said. “Careful, I bet they’ve got their rifles trained on us as we speak,” he added, a touch dramatically. 

As one drives into Stepanakert itself, a billboard with a stony-faced portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin glowers down. It reads “Man of the Year,” and the locals mean it seriously. The inhabitants of Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh regard Moscow as their last protector. Russia, for its part, has been increasingly cutting off and controlling the breakaway state, leaving Armenia more and more powerless in the region. 

Last month, the world’s attention was focused on Russia’s troop buildup on the border with Ukraine. But while international attention was distracted by what now seems to have been a fakeout, Russia was quietly consolidating control of another restive region in its environs: Nagorno-Karabakh.

The long-simmering conflict that erupted over the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh in September 2020 was a disaster for Armenia. Outside of significant loss of life—as many as 8,000 soldiers on both sides perished—Yerevan was forced to relinquish around a third of Nagorno-Karabakh in addition to seven Azerbaijani regions it had controlled since the first war over the enclave in the early 1990s. The Russian-brokered cease-fire that ended the latest skirmish mandated that a contingent of around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers control the new line of contact in the region…


Russia offers to help mediate in Armenia-Azerbaijan border row


Russia said on Wednesday it had offered to help mediate demarcation negotiations after Armenia accused Azerbaijan of a border incursion.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of sending troops across the border last week, highlighting the fragility of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that halted six weeks of fighting between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces last year. read more  

Azerbaijan has denied crossing the frontier and said its forces only defended their side. But Armenia said on Friday that Azerbaijan had failed to fulfil a promise to withdraw troops that had crossed the border. read more  

"Russia has offered first of all to provide assistance with the delimitation and demarcation of the border," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a visit to Tajikistan…

Myanmar: U.N. General Assembly to Consider Arms Embargo

What Happened: The U.N. General Assembly announced it will consider May 18 a non-binding resolution to immediately suspend weapons sales to Myanmar’s military government, the South China Morning Post has reported. 

Why It Matters: The non-binding nature of the U.N. resolution and the robust military capabilities of the Tatmadaw mean the arms embargo will have little tangible impact on Myanmar’s ongoing post-coup crisis. However, the vote could once again put China in the position of having to mobilize against a resolution in the United Nations to defend its position as a friendly nation to Myanmar’s military government at a time when Beijing is also working to position itself as a neutral global leader amid the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Background: Myanmar’s government was overthrown in a Feb. 4 military coup, which has since caused considerable instability. The military’s violent crackdown on the opposition has so far killed hundreds of protesters and continues to draw international condemnation.





Norway to allow U.S. military to build on its soil in new accord

April 16, 20216:45 AM CDT

Norway, which shares a short border with giant neighbour Russia, said on Friday it has signed a revised agreement with the United States on how to regulate U.S. military activity on its soil. 

The agreement between the two NATO allies will let the U.S. build facilities at three Norwegian airfields and one naval base, but will not amount to separate U.S. bases, the government said. 

The deal made by the minority government of Prime Minister Erna Solberg must be ratified by Norway's parliament before coming into force. 

"The agreement regulates and facilitates U.S. presence, training and exercises in Norway, thus facilitating rapid U.S. reinforcement of Norway in the event of crisis or war," the government said… 

USS New Mexico docks in Tromsø as Norway, US bolster Arctic military ties


“We have been working hard with the preparedness and monitoring ahead of this port call,” said Inger Margrethe Eikelmann, head of the regional department of Norway’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA)... 


 ...US nuclear-powered submarines have over the last few years increased sailings in the north. Crew change and supply arrangements have until now been arranged in the fjords outside Troms in northern Norway. On Monday, however, the first docking took place, as the “USS New Mexico” came to Tønsnes municipal harbor some 10 kilometers north of Tromsø city center...


Germany detains suspects for stoning synagogue, burning Israeli flags

German police have detained more than a dozen men in three cities suspected of damaging a synagogue with stones, burning Israeli flags and starting a fire at a memorial for a Jewish house of prayer destroyed during the Nazi pogroms of 1938.

German politicians on Wednesday condemned the three separate incidents as anti-Semitic attacks, which coincided with escalating cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. 

Police said three men in their early 20s were detained on Tuesday night and released after admitting to throwing stones at the window of a synagogue in the city of Bonn and burning an Israeli flag. 

The suspects told police the Gaza-Israel violence had motivated them to throw stones at a synagogue…












Afghanistan’s Geography, 20 Years After the U.S. Invasion

 Geography and history have left Afghanistan a fractured landscape, the contours of which are re-emerging as the United States withdraws from its 20-year engagement. Landlocked in Central Asia, Afghanistan has a history of being a geographically fragmented nation with an equally fragmented society, with concentrations of ethnic, sectarian and clan affiliations that have long shaped the Afghan context. After the U.S.-backed invasion in 2001, the country’s otherwise warring populace was temporarily brought together through a newly established Afghan government backed by the U.S.-led coalition. However, Washington’s latest decision to end its 20-year occupation threatens to tear the delicate threads preventing the country from once again descending into civil war… 


Inside Washington’s Fight to Save Afghans Who Saved Americans

Afghan interpreters were promised U.S. visas. Now, red tape may cost them their lives.

In 1975, as the United States was hastily extricating itself from the Vietnam War, a junior U.S. senator gave a speech arguing against offering lifelines to Vietnamese allies as South Vietnam teetered on the precipice. 

“The United States has no obligation to evacuate one, or 100,001, South Vietnamese,” then-Sen. Joe Biden said. 

Now, as U.S. troops hastily withdraw from Afghanistan after two decades of war, President Joe Biden faces another major moral inflection point in U.S. foreign policy: Will Washington save the lives of Afghans who worked with the American military?

It’s a race against the clock and a battle against bureaucratic red tape, with life-or-death implications for thousands of interpreters and other Afghans who helped U.S. and coalition troops in exchange for visas to the United States. It is fueled by the specter of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan after U.S. troops withdraw and by a grim and growing death toll of Afghan interpreters who have been targeted by militants while awaiting their long-promised visas. 

The question over special visas for these Afghans has sparked a major political dust-up in Washington, with a growing chorus of lawmakers and U.S. veterans ratcheting up pressure on the Biden administration to take action. How the Biden administration makes—or breaks—promises to Afghan interpreters will have a major impact on the Afghanistan chapter of U.S. history, these lawmakers and advocacy groups argue…


Taliban and Afghan government negotiators meet in Doha


Taliban and Afghan government negotiators met in Qatar on Friday, the second day of a three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, both sides said after a long pause in peace talks between the two. ... "The two sides discussed the on-going situation of the country and emphasised speeding up the peace talks in Doha," the negotiating team representing the Afghan government said on Twitter.


Afghan police say Kabul mosque bombing kills 12 worshippers


A bomb ripped through a mosque in northern Kabul during Friday prayers, killing 12 worshippers, and wounding 15, Afghan police said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, the latest in a surge in violence as U.S. and NATO troops have begun their final withdrawal from the country, after 20 years of war. According to Afghan police spokesman ... the bomb exploded as prayers had begun. The mosque’s imam, Mofti Noman, was among the dead, the spokesman said and added that the initial police investigation suggests the imam may have been the target.... 

Afghanistan withdrawal up to 20 percent done


The U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is up to 20 percent complete with a little less than four months left in the effort, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. U.S. forces have shipped out approximately 115 C-17 loads of equipment out of the country, turned over more than 5,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency to be destroyed, and officially handed over five facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.




China increases spending 500% to influence America


New foreign-agent filings are finally detailing a massive Beijing propaganda operation that's fueled a sixfold increase in disclosed Chinese foreign influence efforts in the United States in recent years. Why it matters: Propaganda is central to China fulfilling its geopolitical aspirations, and its efforts to sow discord and disinformation in the U.S. have very real consequences for the American business, political and social climates.... State-run Chinese news service Xinhua is the latest to reveal some of the inner workings of its U.S. operations.


China rolls out rocket for Tianzhou-2 space station supply mission


China is set to launch the Tianzhou-2 space station cargo mission this week after rollout of a Long March 7 rocket at Wenchang spaceport. Rollout took place late May 15 Eastern (May 16 local time) at the coastal Wenchang satellite launch center... The roughly 13-metric-ton Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft will head to low Earth orbit to rendezvous and dock with China’s Tianhe space station core module. Tianzhou-2 will transfer propellant to Tianhe for maintaining its orbit and also deliver supplies to support crewed future missions.


Concerns grow over China nuclear reactors shrouded in mystery


Like many of the over 5,000 small islands dotting China’s coastline, the islet of Changbiao is unremarkable in its history and geography. Jutting out from the shoreline of Fujian province like a small right-footed footprint, it has only gained recognition recently – and even then among a small handful of experts – for being home to China’s first two CFR-600 sodium-cooled fast- neutron nuclear reactors. Currently under construction, the first of the two reactors is expected to connect to the grid in 2023; the second one around 2026. Together they will produce non-fossil- fuel-based renewable energy that could help China secure its energy needs while at the same time moving the country towards its 2060 carbon-neutral goal. 

China’s navy in live-fire drills across three theatre commands, hinting at moves to counter US


PLA Navy fleets attached to three of the Chinese military’s theatre commands have staged separate live-fire drills in recent days, state media reported. It [is] the second such drills in just over a month, with observers seeing the exercises as part of efforts to counter US military challenges. State broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday that the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern, Northern and Southern Theatre Commands held military exercises as part of “a comprehensive test of the overall operational capability of a naval formation in the context of actual combat”. It did not specify when and where the drills were carried out.




Agreement on restoring Iran’s nuclear deal ‘within reach’

Negotiators hope next round of talks in Vienna will lead to US lifting sanctions and Iran returning to full compliance.

Tehran, Iran – At the end of two more weeks of negotiations, representatives of world powers party to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal appear more certain that work to restore the landmark accord will soon succeed.

The fourth round of talks in Vienna began earlier in May, three years after former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), imposing strict sanctions on Iran.

Following a Joint Commission meeting on Wednesday between Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union at the Grand Hotel – with the US still in another hotel – negotiators expressed optimism…

Iran has enriched uranium to up to 63% purity, IAEA says


"Fluctuations" at Iran's Natanz plant pushed the purity to which it enriched uranium to 63%, higher than the announced 60% that complicated talks to revive its nuclear deal with world powers, a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday. Iran made the shift to 60%, a big step towards nuclear weapons-grade from the 20% previously achieved, last month in response to an explosion and power cut at Natanz that Tehran has blamed on Israel and appears to have damaged its enrichment output at a larger, underground facility there.


Iranian Kurd dissident sets himself ablaze in Iraq


An Iranian Kurd seeking asylum in Iraq doused himself in fuel and set himself alight Tuesday near United Nations offices in protest against living conditions. Medics in Arbil treating Mohammad Mahmoudi, 27, said he was in a critical condition. Before setting himself on fire, Mahmoudi was filmed on a video posted on social media saying he had fled Iran because he was a critic of authorities in Tehran…

Two main contenders sign up for Iran's presidential election

May 15, 202111:03 AM CDT


Two of the main contenders to become Iran's president, hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, registered on Saturday to run in next month's election.

The June 18 election to succeed President Hassan Rouhani is seen as a test of the legitimacy of the country's clerical rulers who are hoping for a high turnout. Rouhani is barred by term limits from running again.

But voter interest may be hit by rising discontent over an economy that has been crippled by U.S. sanctions reimposed after Washington exited a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers three years ago.

Raisi is a 60-year-old mid-ranking cleric in Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim establishment. Appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as head of the judiciary in March 2019, he has emerged as one of the country's most powerful figures and a contender to succeed Khamenei…







Why Biden Can’t End Israel’s War With Hamas

There’s only one long-term solution to the conflict—and neither side is interested.

Impossible problems tend to inspire outlandish solutions. The Israel-Palestine conflict is a case in point: Just consider the Uganda Scheme(the early-1900s proposal to create a Jewish homeland in Africa) or former political advisor Jared Kushner’s more recent but equally absurd attempt to buy off the Palestinians with a little cash.

The Biden administration should keep the history of such gambits—and the fact that all of them failed—in mind this week as pressure mounts to intervene in the fighting. It’s easy to understand why leaders around the world want the United States to do something: The skirmish between Israel and Hamas has already killed more than 227 Palestinians and 12 Israelis, trashed Gaza’s decrepit infrastructure, sparked the country’s worst intercommunal violence since the 1930s, and torpedoed the formation of a historic Israeli left-right-Arab governing coalition to replace Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the recent election. Horrible as the situation is, however, getting too involved now would still be a mistake for Washington. While the two sides can be convinced to hit pause, there’s only one way to actually solve their fundamental dispute: a two-state solution. And that’s not in the cards anytime soon. 

The notion that a two-state solution—the creation of an actual, viable country called Palestine alongside a physically secure Israel—is the only way to finally resolve this very long, very bloody conflict may seem obvious. But it bears restating because it’s a truth all key leaders—in Israel, the United States, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the broader Arab world—have recently forgotten or simply ignored…









Did The West Promise Moscow That NATO Would Not Expand? Well, It's Complicated.

Some myths go back millennia. 

This myth, if it is one, goes back to 1990 -- and just over three decades later, it continues to form a central grievance in Russian President Vladimir Putin's testy narrative about Moscow's ties with the West. 

It's the question of NATO expansion -- an unhealed scab that, with Russian-Western relations at their lowest ebb since the Cold War, has been picked off yet again and is now bleeding into public view. 

Casting the issue into the spotlight this time was not an angry tirade from Putin but a report by the London-based think tank Chatham House, which, in a May 13 publication, aimed to dispel a host of what it called "myths and misperceptions" that have shaped Western thinking and kept it from establishing "a stable and manageable relationship with Moscow." 

One "myth" in particular kicked off a furious debate in e-mail threads, chat rooms, listservs, and on Twitter: "Russia was promised that NATO would not enlarge."

"The U.S.S.R. was never offered a formal guarantee on the limits of NATO expansion post-1990," John Lough, the research associate who authored the section, wrote. "Moscow merely distorts history to help preserve an anti-Western consensus at home..." 

Russia's northernmost base projects its power across Arctic


During the Cold War, Russia's Nagurskoye airbase was little more than a runway, a weather station and a communications outpost in the Franz Josef Land archipelago. It was a remote and desolate home mostly for polar bears, where temperatures plunge in winter to minus-42 Celsius (43 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) and the snow only disappears from August to mid- September. Now, Russia's northernmost military base is bristling with missiles and radar and its extended runway can handle all types of aircraft, including nuclear-capable strategic bombers, projecting Moscow's power and influence across the Arctic amid intensifying international competition for the region's vast resources.


Putin’s Shadow Warriors Stake Claim to Syria’s Oil

Companies linked to the Wagner group are snapping up oil and gas leases—with an eye to pumping influence, not oil.

A Russian company that recently struck a deal with the Syrian government for offshore oil and gas exploration is part of a network of companies that make up the shadowy Russian mercenary group known as Wagner, which has played a pivotal role in Moscow’s destabilizing activities around the world, according to emails and company records seen by Foreign Policy. 

The deal with the previously unknown Russian company Kapital, which was ratified by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in March, will theoretically see the Russian company explore for oil and gas in a 2,250-square-kilometer area off the coast of southern Syria. It threatens to cause a dispute with neighboring Lebanon, which has argued the area includes some of its waters. 

The deal comes as Moscow seeks to entrench its strategic foothold in Syria and, by extension, further expand its reach in the Eastern Mediterranean. It also underscores how Moscow continues to outsource its trickier foreign-policy objectives to private military contractors who offer a low-risk and versatile means of intervening around the globe while maintaining a thin veneer of plausible deniability. Best known for their mercenary activity, which spans the world from Sudan to Ukraine to Venezuela, Wagner operatives have also sought to exploit lucrative natural resource reserves in fragile states… 




Despite the Cease-Fire, Gaza Remains Primed for Another War

Israel and Gaza militants may have agreed to end their latest flare-up, but without a political solution to the greater Palestinian-Israeli conflict, grassroots violence and miscalculations by factions on both sides could still escalate into another war.  

On May 20, Israel and Gazan militants approved a cease-fire ending over a week of fighting after a military escalation erupted on May 10. The latest flare-up saw unrest in the West Bank and Jewish-Arab communities in Israel, as grassroots anger spread beyond the more traditional conflict zone along the Gaza-Israeli border. But as Gaza and Israel return to an unstable detente, anchored by a mutual desire to avoid an expensive conflict and held together by aid-for-peace arrangement, the underlying social drivers of another war are already in play.

  • Significant social unrest broke out in reaction to the Gaza conflict as far-right and ultranationalist Jews and Israeli Arabs clashed and rioted across the country in communities like Lod outside of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Tiberias, Acre and Beersheba. The fighting had no national leadership and was organized largely on social media.   
  • The conflict was sparked after Palestinian protesters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem were forcefully cleared by Israeli police May 8-9. The police action provoked outrage throughout the Muslim world and was cited by Hamas as the rationale for the rocket and missile attacks on Jerusalem that followed… 




Suspected Pakistani spies use catfishing, stealthy hacking tools to target Indian defense sector


... Over the last 18 months, a spying group known as Transparent Tribe has expanded its use of a hacking tool capable of stealing data and taking screenshots from computers, according to research published Thursday by Talos, Cisco’s threat intelligence unit. Hackers also are going after additional targets beyond Indian military personnel, including defense contractors and attendees of Indian government-sponsored conferences. Talos did not mention Pakistan in its research, but multiple security researchers told CyberScoop the Transparent Tribe group is suspected of operating on behalf of the Pakistani government. Similarly, research from email security firm Proofpoint has previously linked a Pakistan-based company to the development of the group’s malicious code. Talos’ findings reflect a relentless appetite for defense-related secrets among hacking groups with suspected links to Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed neighbors prone to territorial disputes




Ex-Army Green Beret gets 15 years for Russian espionage


A former Army Green Beret who admitted divulging military secrets to Russia over a 15- year period was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison Friday on espionage charges. The sentence of 15 years and 8 months imposed on Peter Dzibinski Debbins, 46, of Gainesville, Virginia ... largely in line with the 17-year term sought by prosecutors. Defense lawyers sought a 5-year term. Debbins’ lawyer, David Benowitz, argued that Debbins caused minimal damage and that Russian agents had blackmailed Debbins by threatening to expose his same-sex attractions in a military era in which “don’t ask, don’t tell” was still in force....


Britain Sets Out Plans to Crack Down on Spying by Foreign States

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain set out plans to crack down on hostile activity by foreign states on Tuesday, introducing a proposed law to give security services and law enforcement new powers to tackle growing threats.

The bill will haul legislation into the modern age, updating archaic official secrets acts, some dating back more than hundred years, so that they are relevant to the threats posed in the age of cyber warfare, the government said…





DOJ: Cleveland man found guilty for plot to kidnap, possibly kill law enforcement to 'start an uprising'

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man was found guilty for his plot to kidnap and attack law enforcement officers "in order to start an uprising." 

Christian Ferguson, 21, was found guilty by a federal jury of two counts of attempted kidnapping. 

In April 2020, the FBI received a complaint from a civilian regarding several "violent and extremist" posts in an online chatroom by an individual, later identified as Ferguson... 

Germany carries out raids on Hezbollah-linked groups

The three groups have been banned for allegedly collecting money for the families of Hezbollah fighters. The Lebanese militants have been active opponents of Israel.


Germany's Interior Ministry has outlawed three organizations accused of collecting money for the militant Iran-backed movement Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Bans against German Lebanese Family, People for Peace and Give Peace came into effect on Wednesday, but had already been pronounced in mid-April.

Police also conducted early morning raids at locations across seven German states, including Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland Palatinate.

"Those who support terrorism will not be safe in Germany, regardless of the garb in which their supporters appear, they will not find a place of retreat in our country," Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's spokesman said…





Russia's northernmost base projects its power across Arctic


An officer speaks on walkie-talkie as the Bastion anti-ship missile systems take position...



During the Cold War, Russia's Nagurskoye airbase was little more than a runway, a weather station and a communications outpost in the Franz Josef Land archipelago. It was a remote and desolate home mostly for polar bears, where temperatures plunge in winter to minus-42 Celsius (43 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) and the snow only disappears from August to mid- September. Now, Russia's northernmost military base is bristling with missiles and radar and its extended runway can handle all types of aircraft, including nuclear-capable strategic bombers, projecting Moscow's power and influence across the Arctic amid intensifying international competition for the region's vast resources...





Friday, May 21, 2021

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Dylan Pickle
Monroe County Sheriff's Office, Mississippi
End of Watch Sunday, July 26, 2020
Age 24
Cause Struck by vehicle
Incident Date Saturday, July 25, 2020

Deputy Sheriff Dylan Pickle was struck and killed by a vehicle while conducting a safety checkpoint on Hamilton Road near Seely Drive.

He and several other deputies were conducting the checkpoint when a vehicle struck him and a second deputy at about 9:45 pm. Both deputies were transported to a hospital in Tupelo where Deputy Pickle succumbed to his injuries shortly after midnight.
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, May 19, 2021

Officer Down

Senior Police Officer Sharon Williams
New Orleans Police Department, Louisiana
End of Watch Sunday, July 26, 2020
Age 54
Tour 30 years
Badge 01977
Cause COVID19
Incident Date Thursday, July 16, 2020

Senior Police Officer Sharon Williams died after contracting COVID-19 while on duty.

Officer Williams had served with the New Orleans Police Department for 30 years. She is survived by her son.

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 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. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

What's Going On In The World Today 210517





U.S., China: Biden Likely to Keep Ban on Investments in Chinese Military-Linked Firms

What Happened: U.S. President Joe Biden is likely to keep a ban on investments in 31 Chinese military-linked companies that his predecessor imposed via executive order in November 2020, according to leaks cited by the South China Morning Post on May 7. 

Why it Matters: Biden has the power to expand the investment ban to other Chinese firms, including those involved in human rights abuses or espionage, but has so far not acted on this. Since taking office in January, Biden has opted to continue most of his predecessor's approach to the United States' strategic competition with China, while also injecting multilateralism into those policies.

Background: China’s major firms are undergoing a credit squeeze amid U.S. investment scrutiny and Beijing’s antitrust campaign, which led to a steep drop in IPOs on mainland Chinese exchanges in 2020.




South Africa’s Unaccountable Ruling Party


The ANC descends into infighting again as it tries to suspend top officials facing corruption charges.


The ANC’s Attempts at Accountability Lead to Chaos

In the last decade, South Africa’s liberation movement-turned-ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has been tainted by corruption scandals. In a bid to regain the moral high ground, the party of Nelson Mandela has struggled to hold senior members accountable. Over the last week, the party’s latest attempts to do so exposed chaotic infighting and just how far the ANC’s competing factions have pulled the movement apart.

Step aside. Last week, the ANC moved to suspend party Secretary-General Elias Sekgobelo “Ace” Magashule, who has been at the center of multiple corruption allegations. The suspension was the culmination of months of public discussion, and perhaps years of behind-the-scenes wrangling, on the so-called “step aside” rule…




The U.S. Navy in the Indian Ocean: India’s ‘Goldilocks’ Dilemma

India’s strategic community was in a frenzy last month after USS John Paul Jones carried out a freedom of navigation exercise near India’s Lakshadweep Islands. Indian observers were mystified by the timing of maneuver, coming as it did at a moment when U.S.-Indian relations are on a high. The disquiet in New Delhi was compounded by a U.S. 7th Fleet press release that said the operation was carried out in India’s exclusive economic zone “without requesting India’s prior consent” to assert “navigational rights and freedoms”—language that many Indian observers saw as needlessly provocative.

Analysts in India should not have been surprised. Following the Biden administration’s announcement of ambitious plans to counter China, the United States has moved to boost its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. In recent weeks, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps have bolstered their deployments, jointly conducting expeditionary strike force operations in the South China Sea. While much of America’s focus is on tackling China’s grey zone challenge in the East Asian littorals, the Indian Ocean, too, is receiving more attention than ever. There is a growing sense in Washington that the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy has neglected the Indian Ocean region, where China has made steady inroads. With the maturation of the Quad, a loose security partnership of the United States, India, Australia, and Japan, many U.S. analysts believe the time is right for the U.S. Navy to stage a return to the Indian Ocean region…




The United Kingdom Dispatches HMS Queen Elizabeth to Confront China

Are U.S. allies finally rallying around Washington’s more aggressive stance toward Beijing?

For more than 800 years, English naval ships have been launching from Portsmouth, bound for the world’s oceans. Last week, the Royal Navy opened a new era with the departure of a new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, for the beginning of an seven-month deployment that will bring it to the Indo-Pacific, along with a strike group. There, the Royal Navy task force will participate in operations designed to ensure freedom of navigation and open seas. The reason? “We see China as being a challenge and a competitor,” said Britain’s first sea lord, Adm. Tony Radakin, during a visit with his U.S. counterpart, Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations.

Some might wonder why the British are sticking their toes into the turbulent waters of far-away Asia—why London is suddenly so committed to upholding a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” adopting the slogan used by the Trump and Biden administrations alike. Or, even more tellingly, why so many nations even beyond the United Kingdom are increasingly vocal in their criticisms of Beijing.

The looming Chinese-U.S. confrontation—and especially the United States’ supposedly more aggressive stance—is often cited as the main threat to global peace. The danger is argued to be the result of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn four decades of more cooperative U.S. policy toward China. Trump’s moves, including imposing tariffs, banning tech companies, challenging Beijing’s influence campaigns, increasing naval operations in the South China Sea, and deepening ties with Taiwan, led to warnings that Washington was turning China into an enemy and pushing the two nations closer to conflict. For example, an open letter to then-President Trump signed by more than 100 American academics and former diplomats and military officers expressed the belief that “many U.S. actions are contributing directly to the downward spiral in relations…”
















Iran: Hard-Line Judiciary Chief to Run in Presidential Election

What Happened: Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi plans to run in the June 18 presidential election and is expected to officially register as a candidate later this week, according to leaks cited by the local media outlet Tasnim. 

Why It Matters: Raisi, who ran against President Hassan Rouhani in 2017, will give Iran’s conservative factions a candidate to rally around in next month’s vote. Raisi is also currently the overall frontrunner, with pre-election polls showing the most support for his prospective candidacy. A more conservative president would not necessarily be an obstacle to a narrow U.S.-Iran agreement on nuclear compliance, though it would make a follow-up deal more challenging. 

Background: On May 11, Iran opened registration for candidates seeking to run in the June presidential ballot. Raisi won 38% of the vote in the 2017 presidential election. 








In Gaza, More Bloodshed Appears Inevitable

Grassroots pressure on the Israeli and Palestinian governments portend a prolonged border conflict that places more lives at risk and forestalls Arab-Israeli normalization. 

Militant groups in Gaza launched over 400 rockets at southern Israeli territory since May 10, killing two Israelis and wounding at least 24 more. In response, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) struck more than 130 targets in the Gaza Strip, killing 26 Palestinians, including 9 children. Political paralysis and deepened popular frustration on all sides of the conflict will make it harder for the Israeli and Palestinian governments to satisfy their angry constituents and reach an eventual resolution. 

Popular anger among Palestinians and Israelis over contested neighborhoods in Jerusalem drove Gazan militants and the Israeli military to exchange fire over Gaza. 

Forced evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem have sparked Palestinian anger across the territories. Israeli nationalists have also been provoking Palestinians in contested areas in Jerusalem, resulting in clashes in places like the Damascus Gate. Recent rocket volleys from the Gaza Strip landing in central Israeli territory, meanwhile, crossed a red line for many Israelis as well, as most violence in the region is usually concentrated along the southern border. Reports of rockets striking targets in Tel Aviv on May 11 indicate a significant expansion of the conflict from its typical tit-for-tat escalation in southern Israeli and Gazan territory… 




The Acceleration of North Korea’s Missile Program

Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea has rapidly accelerated its longer-range ballistic missile and nuclear programs. But Pyongyang has also focused on short-range systems as part of an effort to modernize its military capability for contingencies on the Korean Peninsula. 


The Threat of North Korea’s Missile Programs


In March, North Korea carried out a cruise missile test, as well as a test of maneuverable short-range ballistic missiles. The two tests came amid the spring training exercises and ended a year-long lapse in missile tests as Pyongyang focused its attention on managing the COVID-19 crisis. Satellite imagery and photos from military parades suggest North Korea may be preparing another test of its submarine-launched ballistic missile, perhaps coinciding with the launch of its new ballistic missile submarine. These tests reflect the two prongs of North Korea’s overall defense strategy: securing second-strike nuclear capability against the United States, and modernizing its missile and rocket systems for operations on the Korean Peninsula. 


The United States has long been concerned by North Korea’s intermediate and long-range missile programs, particularly coupled with Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. But South Korea and nearby Japan have been equally (if not more) concerned with the shorter-range systems in North Korea’s arsenal, which are designed to strike at U.S. and U.S.-allied military facilities in the region. For Seoul and Tokyo, Pyongyang’s shorter-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and large-caliber multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) have not only proven to be more reliable but are also more likely to be used in regional contingencies that may fall shy of a full war with the United States. The 2010 shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong islands, for example, included North Korean MLRS systems, inflicting damage on military and civilian infrastructure...





Russia to tighten gun rules after school shooting

The gun rampage at a school in the city of Kazan has prompted President Vladimir Putin to order a tightening of Russia's gun controls.

A 19-year-old, Ilnaz Galyaviev, was detained and he is the suspected shooter. Seven children and two adults were killed. Dozens more were wounded and some are in critical condition.

A Russian MP says the weapon used was a semi-automatic shotgun - a type popular among hunters. Reports say Galyaviev had a licence for it. The gun is relatively cheap in Russia, costing upwards of 20,000 roubles (£190; $280).

The same type of gun was used by a teenager, who killed 20 people at a technical college in the city of Kerch in Russian-annexed Crimea in 2018, then shot himself…







Cyberattack Forces a Shutdown of a Top U.S. Pipeline

The operator, Colonial Pipeline, said it had halted systems for its 5,500 miles of pipeline after being hit by a ransomware attack.

One of the nation’s largest pipelines, which carries refined gasoline and jet fuel from Texas up the East Coast to New York, was forced to shut down after being hit by ransomware in a vivid demonstration of the vulnerability of energy infrastructure to cyberattacks.

The operator of the system, Colonial Pipeline, said in a vaguely worded statement late Friday that it had shut down its 5,500 miles of pipeline, which it says carries 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies, in an effort to contain the breach. Earlier Friday, there were disruptions along the pipeline, but it was not clear at the time whether that was a direct result of the attack or of the company’s moves to proactively halt it.

On Saturday, as the F.B.I., the Energy Department and the White House delved into the details, Colonial Pipeline acknowledged that its corporate computer networks had been hit by a ransomware attack, in which criminal groups hold data hostage until the victim pays a ransom. The company said it had shut the pipeline itself, a precautionary act, apparently for fear that the hackers might have obtained information that would enable them to attack susceptible parts of the pipeline…

Ransomware Pros for Hire Take Down Largest U.S. Petroleum Products Pipeline

Editor's Note: ­This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets and intellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard. 

This excerpt discusses the impact of the recent ransomware cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline system, leading to it being shut down, and the rise of commercial-oriented ransomware groups. While the attackers appear to be a criminal group, it is still the most disruptive cyberattack on the U.S. energy sector and will bring more political pressure on President Joe Biden to expand his cybersecurity agenda and boost U.S. defenses against all cyberthreats. 

As of publication, the timetable for restarting the full pipeline is unclear. While the impact of a shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline system's main lines for a few days will only have a limited impact on regional gasoline, diesel and jet fuel prices, a longer lasting outage will have a more disruptive impact and could cause localized shortages and fears about scarcity along much of the U.S. East Coast. If the impact to U.S. fuel supplies becomes more acute, it will only increase pressure on the Biden administration to respond strongly.

The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack will reinforce the Biden administration's push for boosting U.S. cybersecurity defenses, but the rise of more professionalized ransomware groups and extortion campaigns will only lead to more cyberattacks on Western companies despite government policy. The Colonial Pipeline Co. shut down its pipeline system — the largest petroleum products pipeline servicing the eastern United States — on May 7 after learning its information technology systems suffered a cyberattack, the company said in a statement released on its website the following day.

200K Veterans’ Medical Records May Have Been Stolen by Ransomware Gang

A database filled with the medical records of nearly 200,000 U.S. military veterans was exposed online by a vendor working for the Veterans Administration, according to an analyst, who also presented evidence the data might have been exfiltrated by ransomware attackers. The VA for it’s part said that the evidence may point to internal security work rather than a cyberattack.


The Department of Defense’s Looming AI Winter

The Department of Defense is on a full-tilt sugar high about the potential for AI to secure America’s competitive edge over potential adversaries. AI does hold exciting possibilities. But an artificial AI winter looms for the department, potentially restraining it from joining the rest of the world in the embrace of an AI spring.

The department’s frenzy for AI is distracting it from underlying issues preventing operationalization of AI at scale. When these efforts fail to meet expectations, the sugar rush will collapse into despair. The resultant feedback loop will deprioritize and defund AI as a critical weapon system. This is known as an “AI winter,” and the Department of Defense has been here twice before. If it happens again, it won’t be because the technology wasn’t ready, but because the Department of Defense doesn’t know enough about AI, has allowed a bureaucracy to grow up between the people who will use AI and those developing it for them, and is trying to tack “AI-ready” components onto legacy systems on the cheap.

Previous AI winters arrived in the Department of Defense for their own peculiar reasons — immature technologies, overzealous regulation fixated on short-term results, and reality not living up to the hype cycle. This time, however, the core enabling technologies for AI are now widely available in the commercial sector. Computing power, cloud structures, data, and advanced software development are all readily available to anyone with the wherewithal to put them all together. The department’s looming AI winter will be unique, isolated, and of its own creation…











Conflicts in Wargames: Leveraging Disagreements to Build Value

Millennium Challenge 2002 is likely the most infamous wargame of the last several decades. During an event billed as the key to U.S. military transformation, Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, while commanding an inferior opposing force in the scenario, quickly sunk 19 U.S. ships and rendered the carrier battle group ineffective. Despite the controversy that followed, Lt. Gen. B. B. Bell, the commander of U.S. forces in the game, identified a number of valuable tactical lessons for dealing with asymmetric warfare. He also recognized the importance of red teaming in the planning process, and went on to establish more than 20 red teams in the organizations he led. Not all lessons gleaned from wargaming are highlighted so dramatically. In fact, valuable information can be easily missed.

While the idea that wargames play a key role in helping organizations identify useful insights is widely accepted, there is less agreement on the mechanisms that best accomplish this task. The wargaming literature underscores the importance of networks, the role of weak signals, and internalization of the experience. While all of these (and others) play a role, this article will explore three key parallels between wargaming practices and sound executive decision-making that can help convert contentious debate into insights: including diverse perspectives, debating their merits publicly, and revisiting key recommendations multiple times. These practices are particularly useful when decision-makers are struggling to discern the signals of valuable information from the pervasive background noise…



Vlad the vaccinator: Dracula's castle lures visitors with COVID-19 jabs

Visitors to Dracula's castle are more likely to find puncture marks in their arms than their necks this month, after medics set up a COVID-19 vaccination centre at the Transylvanian attraction.

Doctors and nurses with fang stickers on their scrubs are offering free Pfizer (PFE.N) shots to all-comers at 14th century Bran Castle, which is purported to be an inspiration for the vampire's towering home in Bram Stoker’s novel "Dracula".

Castle staff hope the service will bring more people to the site in Romania's Carpathian mountains, where tourist numbers have plummeted since the start of the pandemic.

Anyone can turn up without an appointment every weekend in May. They also get free entry to the castle's exhibit of 52 medieval torture instruments…


Alcohol made from radioactive Chernobyl apples seized by Ukraine government

By Brandon Specktor - Senior Writer 7 days ago

In 2019, a group of scientists and distillers decided to create a bold new type of booze: Atomik, an artisanal alcoholic spirit made from ingredients grown in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant's still-radioactive exclusion zone. (The booze itself was not radioactive after the distilling process, Live Science previously reported).

Now, the first batch of Atomik is finally complete — and all 1,500 bottles of it have been seized by Ukrainian Secret Services agents for unknown reasons, according to a statement from Atomik's manufacturer, The Chernobyl Spirit Company…


A prototype bottle of Atomik. (Image credit: University of Portsmouth)