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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

What's Going On In The World Today 210809


Carrier Strike Groups

  • CVN 70: The USS Carl Vinson is underway in the Pacific Ocean for a large-scale exercise.
  • CVN 72: The USS Abraham Lincoln is underway in the Pacific Ocean for a large-scale exercise.
  • CVN 76: The USS Ronald Reagan is underway in the Arabian Sea.

Amphibious Ready Groups/Marine Expeditionary Units

  • LHA 6: The USS America is underway in the Coral Sea for a large-scale exercise with Australia and seven other countries.
  • LHA 7: The USS Tripoli is underway in the Pacific Ocean for qualification trials.
  • LHD 3: The USS Kearsarge is underway in the Atlantic Ocean for routine training.
  • LHD 7: The USS Iwo Jima is underway in the Persian Gulf.



Evidence points to secret Indian navy base on Mauritian island

Analysis of data suggests construction of airstrip and jetty for military use as India expands influence towards Africa.

Satellite imagery, financial data and on-the-ground evidence obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit point to India building a naval facility on the remote Mauritian island of Agaléga.

Military experts who have analysed Al Jazeera’s evidence say an airstrip under construction will almost certainly be used for maritime patrol missions by India’s navy.

Rumours and media reports about the military base first surfaced in 2018 but both Mauritius and India have denied that the construction project is for military purposes and say the infrastructure is only to benefit the islanders.

Satellite pictures reveal how Agaléga, located about 1,100km (684 miles) from Mauritius’ main island and home to about 300 people, is seeing the construction of two large jetties and a runway that is more than 3km (1.84 miles) long...

Egypt receives fourth German S-44 submarine at Alexandria base

Egypt received the fourth German-made S-44 submarine at its Alexandria naval base on Monday, the Egyptian Navy announced. The model 209/1400 mod 4 sub was shipped from the German port city of Kiel. “This latest addition to Egyptian naval forces represents a huge reinforcement for the capabilities of the Egyptian army, which will contribute to the protection of the country’s economic resources in the Mediterranean and Red seas, as well as the Suez Canal,” Egyptian Armed Forces spokesperson Gharib Abdel Hafez said in a statement...


U.S. approves potential sale of howitzers to Taiwan - Pentagon

WASHINGTON, Aug 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems to Taiwan in a deal valued at up to $750 million, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

This comes after arms sales last year that included drones and coastal missile defenses meant to upgrade the island's capabilities and discourage a Chinese invasion. The Biden administration has approved other direct commercial sales of arms to Taiwan since taking office. 

The package would include the howitzers, 1,698 precision guidance kits for munitions, spares, training, ground stations and upgrades for Taiwan's previous generation of howitzers, the Pentagon said..




Tracking Mexico's Cartels in 2021


Largely Static Cartel Drivers, From 2020 to 2021 and Beyond

Despite pandemic-related changes in the last 18 months — which include U.S. border closures, travel restrictions, lockdowns and curfews — the strategic forces behind cartel violence in Mexico have changed very little since 2020: larger groups continued to fuel local conflicts by controlling trafficking routes and territory through cooperation with local gangs, and in many cases using COVID-19 lockdowns to assert territorial control. Important drivers of violence and insecurity in Mexico in the next 18 months will be cartel revenue streams, political relationships, the U.S.-Mexico security relationship, cartel technological and military capabilities, and cartel rivalries. Criminal groups also will continue to experience fragmentation and infighting that leads to sporadic upticks in violence, such as the events in Reynosa on June 19, when civilians were killed as a result of Gulf Cartel infighting. Other notable cartel-driven risks for the coming 18 months include: 

  • Volatility along the U.S.-Mexico border — vital turf for cartel activities including drug- and migrant-smuggling — which could lead to sporadic shutdowns and delays at ports of entry and border crossings.
  • An increased threat of indiscriminate violence in important areas where cartels are vying for control, such as the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Queretaro and Zacatecas.
  • Ongoing extortion and theft threat to businesses that focus on natural resource extraction — such as oil, mining and timber — given the lucrative nature of these businesses. 



Taliban Rampage Puts Afghan Journalists in Crosshairs

HERAT, Afghanistan—Across Afghanistan, as the Taliban ramp up atrocities in the areas under their control, journalists are fleeing for their lives, terrified the insurgents will make good on threats to kill them and their families unless they start pumping out favorable copy.

The exodus is a potential death knell for one of the true success stories of the last 20 years, when Afghanistan fostered the region’s freest press. But in just the past four months, 51 media outlets have closed, according to Afghan journalism watchdogs, and hundreds of news professionals have left their jobs. In some parts of Afghanistan, newsrooms have been destroyed or looted, and many journalists say they receive messages threatening consequences unless they start reporting about the insurgents positively. Many believe it is only a matter of time before the Taliban make good on those threats…  


China moves quickly to replace America in Afghanistan

As the United States withdraws its forces from Afghanistan, China is not hesitating to move in. Earlier this week, nine Taliban leaders accepted Beijing’s invitation and met in Tianjin with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. One of those leaders was the group’s co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Wang told his visitors that China expects the Taliban to play an important role in the “process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan” and described the group as a “pivotal political and military force” in the country. It appears to be only a matter of time before China recognizes the Talban’s de facto control of the country even as Washington remains formally committed to supporting the Kabul government.  


Amid Stalled Nuclear Talks, Iran Reasserts Itself at Sea 

Iran appears to be ramping back up its naval harassment activities in order to gain leverage in negotiations with the West and display strength at home. Such aggressive behavior, however, risks upending those talks altogether by threatening regional security. A hijacking and deadly attack within days of each other near the strategic Strait of Hormuz reflects a higher risk tolerance akin to previous periods of frequent Iranian naval harassment. On Aug. 3, hijackers seized the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess tanker while it was transiting the Gulf of Oman and demanded that the vessel set sail for Iran. The hijacking of the vessel, which is owned by a Dubai-based firm, comes only days after a suspected Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) killed two sailors on board the Israeli-linked Mercer Street tanker. While the details of its involvement in both incidents may never be confirmed, Tehran is likely the culprit based on past precedent, geographic proximity and probable motive...   

Iranians Fear Turning Into Another 'North Korea' If Draconian Internet Censorship Bill Passes

Iranians are warning of public anger and drawing parallels with the world's most oppressive regimes as legislation makes its way through the country's parliament that could intensify online censorship and further restrict Internet access. Iranian authorities already block tens of thousands of websites and regularly throttle or cut Internet connectivity during crucial periods, including a near-total shutdown for nearly a week amid antiestablishment protests following a disputed election in 2019. On July 28, the draft of a bill to hand control of Iran's Internet gateways to the armed forces and criminalize the use of virtual private networks (VPN) was sent for review to a parliamentary committee, despite fierce public criticism.

Iran warns of response if security threatened after ship attack -TV

Iran will respond promptly to any threat against its security, the foreign ministry said on Monday, after the United States, Israel and Britain blamed Tehran for an attack on an Israeli- managed tanker off the coast of Oman. Tehran has denied any involvement in the suspected drone attack on Thursday in which two crew members - a Briton and a Romanian - were killed. The United States and Britain said on Sunday they would work with their allies to respond to the attack on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.


Shah’s son urges West to drive ‘nail in coffin’ of Iran clerical state

Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran’s last shah, believes the clerical state that toppled his father is on the brink of crumbling. What Iranians need now, he says, is stronger support from the West. As ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi was endorsed Tuesday as the eighth president of the Islamic republic, Pahlavi, who lives in exile near Washington, pointed to an election turnout rate of 48.8 percent, the lowest since the 1979 revolution, as well as demonstrations first triggered by serious water shortages…

Iran Guards Deploy Aircraft Detecting Radar in Western Syria

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps factions set aircraft-detecting radar in Syria’s al- Mazare area, around al-Mayadeen city in the eastern sector of the Deir Ezzor countryside. According to sources from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Iranian military experts have monitored the process of fixing and operating the radar. The area is strategically vital for its geographic altitude that overlooks al-Mayadeen city and regions held by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and coalition forces east of the Euphrates River… 


Iraq calls on Syria to increase water releases due to shortfall

Iraq called on Syria to increase water releases to compensate for the lack of rainfall and high temperatures that have caused a shortfall in revenues, Iraq’s state media reported on Monday. The Minister of Water Resources, Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani said he “held a closed-circuit televised meeting with the Syrian Minister of Water Resources, Tammam Raad, to review the measures taken regarding the signed accord during Al-Hamdani's visit to Syria” Last month, both countries signed a joint agreement to exchange data related to the imports of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers “periodically and in emergency situations."

Two rockets fired near US embassy in Baghdad

Two rockets were fired early Thursday against Baghdad's fortified Green Zone which houses the US embassy, without causing any casualties or damage, an Iraqi security source told AFP. The dawn attack came as Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi was flying home from Washington after White House talks in which President Joe Biden announced an end to US combat operations in Iraq.

Iraq military: Many feared dead in terrorist attack in north

An attack on a funeral procession in northern Iraq has claimed a number of victims, Iraq’s military said in a statement Friday. The military said the “terrorist” attack in the province of Salahaddin resulted in a “number of victims” but did not provide specific figures. An Iraqi security official said eight people had been killed, among them police and civilians, and that armed militants had opened fire on the crowd.   


For Israel, Attacking Lebanon Risks Triggering a Multi-Front Conflict 

Israel’s attempt to deter rocket fire from Lebanon risks triggering a greater conflict with Beruit and Hezbollah on its northern border, while also inspiring Gaza militants to resume attacks on its southern border. Israel launched airstrikes on southern Lebanon on the night of Aug. 4, targeting the launch sites from which rockets had been fired at northern Israel the day prior. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the attack was “meant to send a message” to a Palestinian faction in Lebanon that he believed launched the recent rocket strikes against Israel. Gantz also cautioned that Israel “could do much more,” but hoped it wouldn’t come to that. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warned Lebanon to avoid “further attempts to harm Israeli civilians” as well. 






Islamic State Group Smuggling Boys to Desert Training Camps

More than two years after the collapse of its self-declared caliphate, the Islamic State terror group appears to be trying to rebuild its army in the eastern Syrian desert on the backs of boys and teenagers, many smuggled out of the displaced persons camps that dot Syria's northeast. The revelation, based on U.S. military intelligence, is part of a report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Defense Department's inspector general on American and allied operations in Syria and Iraq. In particular, the report warned that despite a series of crackdowns by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, IS, also known as ISIS or Daesh, retains significant influence in many of the camps, as well as freedom of movement, allowing it to target "the most susceptible" for recruitment.  


New destructive Meteor wiper malware used in Iranian railway attack 

A new file wiping malware called Meteor was discovered used in the recent attacks against Iran's railway system. Earlier this month, Iran's transport ministry and national train system suffered a cyberattack, causing the agency's websites to shut down and disrupting train service. The threat actors also displayed messages on the railway's message boards stating that trains were delayed or canceled due to a cyberattack. 




Al Qaeda launches 1st public campaign in 4 years to encourage lone wolf terrorist attacks

More than 10 years ago the I-Team uncovered Al Qaeda's plans for "Open Source" Jihad against the Chicago skyline. Now they're back with a new high-gloss publication for radical followers and a new video, encouraging violent attacks on America by one-person jihadists and lone wolf terrorist. Hundreds of people were killed and injured by truck-ramming attacks from terrorist groups in the past decade. The one-man rampages were encouraged by Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders targeting cities worldwide.

FBI investigating 41 cases of eco-sabotage in Washington

Since Jan. 19, 2020, the FBI in Washington state has been investigating at least 41 incidents of eco-sabotage, specifically direct action against railways and rail lines connected to oil production. In one instance on Dec. 22, a train was derailed and caught on fire in Custer, Wash.... For some groups, climate activists were once considered opponents to some Indigenous communities; The Guardian cites GreenPeace opposing the Inuit seal hunt as one example. But now the intersection of environmental protection and Indigenous rights are at the forefront of many activist groups.  

Gun-wielding masked men shoot 10 in New York City attack, speed off on mopeds

A pair of masked men unleashed a fusillade of gunfire on a crowded street in a New York City neighborhood Saturday night, wounding 10 people before getting on mopeds and speeding away, police said. New York Police Department investigators said the episode appeared to be tied to gang violence, but that seven of the shooting victims were innocent bystanders, including a 72-year-old man.


Scientists Launch Privately Funded Hunt For Unidentified Space Objects

Nearly 400 years ago, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei published a book that built a case for an alternative view of the Solar System, one that revolved not around Earth but the Sun…

…Hoping for a more open- minded outcome, a group of scientists is borrowing Galileo’s name to marquee a research project as controversial as any pursued by Galileo himself—a systematic survey for evidence of extraterrestrial technological artifacts.

The Galileo Project is intended to build a public database of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). “Our goal is to [have] transparent analysis based on physics as we know it,” Harvard University astrophysicist Avi Loeb said during a July 26 press conference.

“The scientific community needs the determination to systematically, scientifically and transparently look for potential evidence of extraterrestrial technological equipment,” he added in a statement about the project. “The impact of any discovery of extraterrestrial technology on science, our technology and on our entire world view would be enormous.”

The privately funded Galileo Project follows the June 25 release of a Pentagon report to Congress that outlined preliminary analysis of 144 UAP sightings from military and intelligence sources. The report determined that most sightings were likely physical objects, rather than optical or atmospheric illusions. However, the data was not good enough to provide additional details. “That’s quite an unusual admission by the government—the most conservative organization that I know of—saying there are objects in our sky that we don’t fully understand,” said Loeb…

…The Galileo Project plans three research initiatives: obtaining high-resolution, multidetector images of UAPs; scanning for interstellar objects, similar to the 2017 discovery of the cigar-shaped interstellar object Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “scout,”); and searching for potential extraterrestrial satellites around Earth.


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