28 October 2016

Battle For Mosul: Can There Be Respect For The Laws Of War? – OpEd

By Rene Wadlow*
OCTOBER 25, 2016

A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin howitzer conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Paladin teams denies safe havens to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant while providing Iraqi forces with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht

To prevent and alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health, and to ensure respect for the human person – these are the core values of humanitarian law. These values may get lost in the “fog of war” of the battle for Mosul. Therefore, there needs to be a wide public outcry in the defense of humanitarian law so that violations can be reduced. As the tanks move ahead, the time for the defense of humanitarian values is now.

On Monday 17 October 2016, the battle of Mosul began as the troops of the Iraqi army started moving toward the northern Iraq city of Mosul. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the effort to take Mosul, a city of over one million people which has been held by the forces of the Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh in its Arabic initials) since July 2014. The Iraqi troops are assisted by Turkish troops and tanks, by US Special Forces who have also been training the Iraqi troops, and by the Kurdish pesh merga militias who have attacked surrounding villages but who, for political reasons, are not likely to enter Mosul.

There are estimates that there are some 4,500 ISIS troops facing some 50,000 on the Iraqi government side. ISIS has been aware that an attack on Mosul was in preparation for a long time and has responded by mining buildings and roads as well as building tunnels. It is likely that some ISIS fighters have slipped away, but it is also likely that the remaining majority of ISIS will fight to the bitter end, preferring death to surrender. In a situation that is confused by the number and nationalities of the groups in combat as well ad the very ethnically and religiously mixed population of Mosul, what possibilities exist for respect of the laws of war?

Trump Calls Iraqi Offensive to Capture Mosul a ‘Total Disaster’

Felicia Schwartz and Paul Sonne
October 25, 2016

Trump at Odds With Pentagon in Calling Mosul a ‘Total Disaster’

Donald Trump doubled down on his critique on an American-backed Iraqi military offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State, calling the effort “a total disaster” and saying that American leaders are “stupid.”

Mr. Trump’s assessment of the Mosul operation is at odds with that of U.S. military officials and the White House. A week into the effort to retake Iraq’s second-largest city and Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq, U.S. officials say that the Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces are making inroads, encircling major towns as they push toward Mosul in a campaign that is expected to take months.

“The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster,” Mr. Trump tweeted late Sunday. “We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN!”

Mr. Trump continued on that theme Monday. “Now we’re bogged down in Mosul, the enemy is much tougher than they thought,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in St. Augustine, Fla. “It’s a horrible, horrible situation.”

In his remarks at the rally Monday and the earlier tweet, Mr. Trump repeated his criticism that the U.S. gave Islamic State militants in the key city “months of notice.” He told the Florida rally that America’s current leadership “is stupid, these are stupid people.”

The Pentagon has said the campaign to retake Mosul — which began a week ago and is expected to last weeks or months — is proceeding on schedule and as planned.

Is Mosul ISIS's Alamo?

October 25, 2016

Last Thursday, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi shared the good news about Mosul. “The fighting forces are currently pushing forward toward the town more quickly than we thought,” he began, “and more quickly than we had established in our plan for this campaign.” Such statements, while encouraging to his nation, are deceptive. The real fighting has yet to start. It is also vitally important to realize that if ISIS chooses to fight to the death in Mosul—like the Texans’ historic Alamo fight—it is not inconceivable that ISIS could achieve strategic victory even if it is eventually defeated in Mosul.

It is important to understand that Islamic State fighters, while frequently derided as mindless thugs, heartless terrorists and common criminals, pose a formidable tactical threat. They benefit from fifteen years of lessons learned during insurgent operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Many of their leaders have significant experience battling against traditional military forces and are experts in the conduct of guerrilla operations and city fighting.

ISIS has experience of fighting in Kobani, Raqqa and now years in Aleppo. Its forces are the most experienced and expert urban fighters in the world right now. ISIS’s members have become masters of crafting elaborate defenses, digging interlocking tunnels, and sowing complex and multilayered minefields. The attacking Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) also have experience in city fighting, as they’ve ejected ISIS from Fallujah, Tikrit and Ramadi. But in each of those battles, ISIS has fought what is essentially a fighting withdrawal.

It has created improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mines and other booby-traps, which it’s hidden in buildings, cars, roads and under sidewalks. ISIS has avoided becoming decisively engaged in its previous city fights, withdrawing when the situation got too hot and it was in danger of being cut off. Whether that was an intentional strategy or not is hard to determine, as reports following the Fallujah battle claimed that ISIS executed scores of its fighters who escaped. This time, however, early evidence indicates that Islamic State leaders have decided to make a fight-to-the-death stand in Mosul.

The Building Blocks of a Truly Conservative Foreign Policy

October 25, 2016
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If there is a distinct American conservative political tradition, which there certainly is, there is also modern foreign policy tradition that grows from it. Far from anything resembling the policies of American-first Republicans of the 1930s—and since then allied to the Republican party only though circumstance of history—it is characterized by commitment to peace through strength, the primacy of national sovereignty and support for liberty under law.

Peace through Strength

This age-old adage was used to best effect by President Ronald Reagan to give context to America’s military modernization in the 1980s. In today’s world, armed force remains the final arbiter of American interests. For this reason, it provides indispensable context for American diplomacy. When security issues are discussed in Asia, or Europe, or the Middle East, the United States has a seat at the table, because as a last resort, it has the capability to impose our will, and failing that, impose costs on our enemies.

This is not as Hobbesian as it sounds—for two reasons.

One, the use of American military power is mitigated by the U.S. Constitution. The president’s powers as commander-in-chief are not the sole factor in determining the use of that power. Congress funds the military. It has oversight, legislative power over the military bureaucracy and confirmation powers. It ratifies security treaties. And it has the power to declare war.

How Congress exercises its powers in relationship to the president ebbs and flows over time. Generally, during times of grave, imminent threat, Congress errs on the side of deference; in more peaceful times, it asserts itself. The relationship also varies according to the confidence Congress has in the president’s leadership.


OCTOBER 26, 2016

Americans have not paid much attention to the war In Yemen. With all eyes on Syria and the neo-Cold War rivalry there with Russia, Yemen did not come up at all in the presidential debates. Yet according to UN figures, the war has left 10,000 dead and 900,000 civilians displaced — and it arguably implicates the United States even more than the Syrian conflict.

The Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen, which began in March 2015, has been aided and abetted from the beginning by the United States. U.S.-supplied military aircraft, refueled by U.S. tanker planes and directed by U.S. intelligence assets, are bombing Yemen almost daily with U.S.-made weapons.

America’s responsibility was brought into stark relief earlier this month, when Saudi planes mistakenly bombed a packed funeral in the Yemeni capital, killing 140 and wounding over 500 people. It was only the latest in a series of Saudi attacks that have killed civilians, leading U.N. experts to condemn Saudi actions in Yemen as war crimes. In the aftermath, the White House announced that U.S military assistance to Saudi Arabia does not amount to a blank checkand that it would begin an immediate “policy review” of this aid to Saudi Arabia.

The “policy review” is an old and established Washington technique for avoiding tough decisions. Faced with a choice between unpalatable alternatives, the government initiates a review to study the question in depth. The hope is that by the time the review is finished, the political pressure to take action will have passed. The purpose of a review is often to buy time and create space for an administration to keep doing what it has been doing, not to create clarity or to change policy.

Iran’s new challenge: The Islamic State in Persia?

Author Ali Hashem
October 24, 2016
Source Link

Iranian soldiers participate in military maneuvers in response to possible attacks by armed groups such as the Islamic State, on the outskirts of Torbat-e Jam town, near Mashhad, Iran, Nov. 17, 2015.
When Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced on June 29, 2014, his self-styled caliphate, its borders were only about 20 miles from those of Iran. IS-controlled territory extended to the Iraqi border province of Diyala, posing a serious threat to Iranian national security. Tehran wanted to keep its borders far from the direct reverberations of the IS phenomenon, therefore hundreds of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) troops poured into Iraq to fight their first battle in Jalawla alongside Iraqi Kurdish forces and members of the Iraqi Badr Organization, which is known for its close ties to the Islamic Republic.
Summary⎙ Print Though Iran has announced that it has killed the Islamic State’s "emir" in the country, it continues to face serious security threats from a variety of militants.

The fight to eliminate IS has continued in Iraq, with ever more Iranian involvement. Yet it seems as if the group has managed to find its way into Iran. On several occasions this year, the IranianIntelligence Ministry has announced that terrorist plots within the country’s borders have been foiled. Two major announcements were made in June and August revealing, according to Iranian security officials, plans to attack the capital Tehran and other cities.

On Sep. 27, Pars News reported, citing unnamed sources, that security forces had killed the new leader of IS in Iran, code-named “Abu Aisha al-Kurdi." The news website wrote, “Some time ago in one of the border cities of Kermanshah, an individual who was supposed to be announced as the emir of Daesh [IS] in Iran was killed in a complex and massive operation with the hard work of the unknown soldiers of the imam,” in a reference to Intelligence Ministry agents.

Exclusive Look at the US Forces Aiding the Fight Against ISIS

Oct 24, 2016

As Iraqi troops move within just a few miles of Mosul, ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz got an exclusive look at some of the U.S. outposts supporting the mission to defeat ISIS.

“What we’ve seen is the enemy is really disrupted, they are on the offensive,” Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, told ABC News. “They are trying to do some spoiling attacks, but they’re not working.”

Those spoiling attacks have often been carried out by ISIS militants in suicide vehicles speeding towards Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga troops on the front lines, and in villages and towns where ISIS militants have been able to conceal themselves.

With U.S. ground forces advising and assisting, and the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes from above, the Iraqis and Kurds have been able to repel the resistance, U.S. officials said.

“What’s different this time than what was here the last time when you and I were here,” Volesky told Raddatz, referring to a trip the pair made to the region in 2009, “is this isn’t the same Iraqi army. They have been trained to do a decisive action, conventional operation against conventional forces, and they are gaining confidence. You can see it.”

One of the small outposts Volesky and Raddatz visited was built only a few days ago, and is manned by less than 200 U.S. and Iraqi personnel.

Another was originally built only 3.5 kilometers from the front lines, but as the Iraqis have advanced, it is now 22 kilometers away. But the posts were built to be movable, and when the time is right, they will move to follow the Iraqi forces toward Mosul.

Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t – OpEd

OCTOBER 26, 2016

I would not rank Vladimir Putin high on a list of leaders. If I lived in Russia I’d be working for major reforms in my government, just as I’m doing where I do live, in the United States. I regularly go on Russian media and criticize the Russian government. Russia is illegally and immorally bombing people in Syria, just as the United States is doing in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

But there are Putin Halloween masks for sale in U.S. stores. Time magazine has Putin on the cover accusing him of trying to damage U.S. elections. A Google search for “Hitler Putin” brings back 11 million results. This demonization of a foreign leader should frighten us more than that leader himself.

Wars do not only kill, if they kill at all, a foreign leader. But they do kill large numbers of children, grandparents, mothers, and fathers. They enrage people, endanger us, damage the natural environment, justify the removal of our rights, and divert unfathomable resources from areas where they could have done a world of good.

The actual Adolph Hitler had no plans or ability to invade the United States and was defeated primarily by Russians who lost at least 27 million lives in the process. For over 70 years, since the end of World War II, the United States has bombed dozens of nations, and in every case that I am aware of U.S. officials have labeled a targeted individual “Hitler.”

Japan: A Serious Setback To PM Abe’s Nuclear Energy Program – Analysis

By K. V. Kesavan 
OCTOBER 26, 2016

In Japan, the recently held governor’s election in the Niigata Prefecture attracted national attention for understandable reasons. Gubernatorial elections carry considerable significance in the country as they act as a barometer showing the pulse of the people across the country. While they do not exert any immediate impact on Tokyo, they do point to the political wind that blows across at a given time. Another important aspect of the prefectural governors’ elections is that major political parties are not always setting up their own party candidates. More often they endorse and support influential independent candidates.

In the Niigata Prefecture governor’s election, held on 16 October, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was keen to have a cooperative governor with strong inclinations to restart the long languishing nuclear plants in the prefecture. After the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s energy goals have been hit seriously as the nuclear energy — a major source in the country’s energy calculus — has been almost stopped. At the time of the Fukushima crisis, Japan had about fifty nuclear reactors accounting for almost thirty percent of the total national energy output. But very soon after the tragedy, almost all of them tended to go idle and the popular sentiment against nuclear energy has almost made it impossible for the government to revive the operations of the reactors. Five years since the 2011 crisis, only one reactor has resumed its service and that too against intense popular resentment.

PM Abe is keen to implement his new energy policy with nuclear power as a key element. But for this, PM Abe would like to have friendly prefectural governors who would work in tandem with the central government in carrying out its policies and programmes. In this sense, Abe would have preferred a friendly governor. But the victory of Ryuichi Yoneyama as the governor of Niigata Prefecture came as a great disappointment for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party/Komeito coalition. Pitted against him was Tamio Mori, a more experienced politician who had served as mayor of Nagaoka in the same Niigata Prefecture. Mori was supported by both the LDP and Komeito. Abe and his party thought that if Mori won the election, it would be easier for them to place the idle reactors back on service.

Russia’s Ultra-Secret Spy Sub Ready to Go to Sea

Dave Majumdar
October 25, 2016

Russia’s Super Secret Spy Submarine Returns to Sea

Earlier this month, a Russian ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) calledPodmoskovie slipped out of its pier at Severodvinsk for the first time in 16 years.

But BS-64 Podmoskovie—which was commissioned in 1986 as a Project 667BDRMDelfin-class (NATO: Delta IV) SSBN designated K-64—is no ordinary boomer. Over the course of nearly two decades, the massive submarine was modified to conduct special missions. But exactly what those missions might be remains somewhat of a mystery.

Podmoskovie was photographed leaving the shipyard for contractor sea trials on Oct. 22 by Oleg Kuleshov, who writes for the BMPD blog—a product of the Moscow-based Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

Podmoskovie and her sister BS-136 Orenburg—a former Delta III SSBN—are roughly analogous to the U.S. Navy’s secretive USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23)—which is a highly modified Seawolf-class boat. Carter is roughly 100ft longer that her two Seawolf-class sisters with the addition of a Multi-Mission Platform (MMP), which allows the submarine to launch and recovery of various unmanned vehicles and support special operations forces. Podmoskovie is thought to be similar in concept—but the Russians are not exactly keen on sharing those details for obvious reasons.

What is known about Podmoskovie is that the massive vessel entered the shipyard in 1999 under the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Project 09787—which ostensibly performs deep-sea research. By 2002, the boat had its missile tubes removed and the special compartments similar to those on Orenburg were installed. Indeed, externally, Podmoskovie looks very different from a standard Project 667BDRM boat aft of the sail and she appears to have had her hull lengthened.

Who Congress Should Really Listen to on Foreign Policy: Voters

October 25, 2016

Think the public doesn’t care about foreign policy? Ask Barack Obama, who built his 2008 campaign on a foundation of popular anger over Iraq. Yet, Congress—the people’s representatives and the branch closest to the mood of the country—routinely cedes foreign policy decision-making to executive branch bureaucrats. 

Like everything else, the Founders subjected foreign policy power to checks and balances, but Congress routinely leaves its most powerful tools fallow. Now and then, the House of Representatives threatens to withhold funds for a significant foreign policy issue (e.g. Iraq), and, occasionally, the Senate will block an ambassador about whom nobody cares. But otherwise, the Congress seems to throw its hands up and give the executive free reign.

Syria presents a looming civics lesson. All indicators point to a Clinton presidency, which means a push for no-fly zones in Syria. Congress had better be careful. Voters may not support a no-fly zone, and if Congress becomes complicit in pushing one forward, the country's politics will look far Trumpier than even now.

Unless Congress relearns how to influence foreign policy, the country will sleepwalk into Hillary Clinton’s proposed half-baked military solution just because the think tank community wants it and because it appears to be the opposite of President Obama’s Alfred E. Neuman approach to Syria. If public opinion gels against it, the GOP will pay dearly at the polls. Congress needs to do its political due diligence. Be wary of following experts over a cliff.

The first thing Congress should do is knock off the nonsense that resistance to no-fly zones means someone is an isolationist, pro-Russian or okay with genocide. Those are infuriating arguments for opponents (i.e. voters) whose concern typically revolves around a no-fly zone’s efficacy—why are we doing it?—or mission creep.

Beyond Ender: Amplified Intelligence and the Age of the School Wars

October 23, 2016

Beyond Ender: Amplified Intelligence and the Age of the School Wars

Erik Richardson

Innovation. Black Swans. From Welsh longbowmen to the Enigma machines to the Stuxnet virus. The race to make the next giant leap first has always been critical, and in an era when networks and cybersystems can implement and advantage on a global scale within nanoseconds, the risk of being second is worse than ever. This is a first sketch of an initiative that will help to make sure we keep on being those precious few nanoseconds ahead of our opponents.

In the same way that the nuclear arms race depended on the control of plutonium and enrichment facilities, we must look to our supply chain. We must look to the research and development labs where our most powerful weapons are being programmed, tweaked, and tested. In short, we must look to the classrooms of our primary education system.

Given the kind of mental focus and agility that will be required to successfully pilot centaur-like interface systems, as one example, and any number of black swan innovations that we are not yet able to even foresee, what are the foundational skills and meta-skills teachers should be building and how?

Here is laid out a brief sketch in broad strokes of an initiative to make sure we have, effectively, the most-enriched plutonium. The first section will lay out a brief case for why human-technology integration will be the fastest, best advantage. The second section will offer some particularly promising examples that would serve as a starting point for improving the enrichment of our neural plutonium. Then the third section will offer a suggested starting point for what we would need to do to leverage the potential outlined in the first two sections.

The Central Importance of Interface Capacity: Why Centaurs Will Always Beat Pure AI

Why Putin is unleashing his only aircraft carrier

LONDON – Somewhere in the autumn gales and squalls of the North Sea, Russia’s only aircraft carrier is heading south to war.

According to TASS news agency, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and seven more vessels sailed Saturday from the Northern Fleet’s Arctic headquarters of Severomorsk. It’s the eighth time the ship and its escorts have made the journey to the Mediterranean, a trip that has become a key part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to reassert Moscow’s naval strength and reach.

This deployment, though, is very different. Moscow has spent considerable resources over the last decade developing the ability to conduct operations from the carrier, launched in the dying days of the Soviet Union. But unlike its U.S., French, British and Italian counterparts, it has never used the ship in anger. That’s about to change. Perhaps within as little as two weeks, its SU-33 and MiG-29 jets will be slamming ordinance into Aleppo and other parts of Syria.

On one level, the Kremlin has no particular need to use carrier-mounted aircraft. If it wanted to increase the number of aircraft operating over Syria, it could simply send more ground-based jets to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s airfields. Sending the carrier and its escorts is in many ways a much more expensive and complex way of achieving the same thing. Nor is it without risk — in the past, Russia’s warships have sometimes shown an alarming tendency to break down, often traveling with their own oceangoing tugs.

Moscow clearly wishes to show that it can emulate Washington by sending a task force thousands of miles and then conducting weeks or months of military activity — an exercise that will highlight Russia’s renewed military capability. It will further complicate the political calculus for the U.S. and others when it comes to finding a way forward in Syria. And, of course, it offers a neat opportunity to remind a host of countries in northern Europe that Moscow cannot be ignored.

Is Russia Killing Off Eastern Ukraine’s Warlords?

OCTOBER 25, 2016

Arsen Pavlov was no stranger to extreme violence.

This Russian commander, better known by the nom de guerre “Motorola,” was a veteran of Moscow’s ruthless campaign in the Second Chechen War and later became a prominent figure in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, leading a battalion of Moscow-backed separatists. He soon emerged as one of the region’s most famous warlords, an effective fighter who took part in major offensives at the Donetsk airport and Ilovaisk. He was also ruthless, known to boast about executing captured Ukrainian soldiers.
Volkswagen to Pay Billion for Diesel Emissions Cheat

The German car maker still faces a U.S. criminal investigation as well as inquiries in Europe.

On Sunday, Oct. 16, Pavlov’s brutal methods finally caught up with him.

The 33-year-old mercenary was assassinated in Donetsk by a remote-controlled bomb planted on his apartment building’s elevator. Pavlov and his bodyguard were both wearing full-body armor, but bloody remains and a jumble of ammunition were all that was left of them.

Pavlov is the latest separatist commander, and among the most prominent, to die in mysterious circumstances since the conflict first erupted. As the war in eastern Ukraine drags on, with the death toll at around 10,000 and no real end in sight, leaders of the areas known as the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) have been meeting their demise in apparently safe surroundings, far from the dangers of the battlefield.

What Is Rodrigo Duterte Trying to Achieve?

OCT 25, 2016 

Just what is Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte thinking? Last week Duterte visited with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and then appeared to trample on his country’s relations with the U.S., telling 200 Chinese business leaders in the Great Hall of People, "In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States."

"Both in military—not maybe social—but economics also, America has lost," he said.

The Philippines has been the U.S.’s closest ally in Southeast Asia since it became independent in 1946. It once celebrated its independence on July 4 (now June 12), and for a while that day was also called Filipino-American Friendship Day. Filipinos hold America in such high regard, in fact, they have a more favorable opinion of the U.S. than the U.S. does of itself. That’s why Duterte’s words have puzzled so many people: Are they the words of a politician who’s pitting two superpowers against each other? Are they another controversial comment from a man who specializes in them? Does this signal the end of the U.S.-Philippines relationship? Maybe. Yes. Too soon to tell.

Duterte, the leader of the PDP–Laban, the left-wing populist party, has praised Adolf Hitler’s efficiency in mass murder, bragged about his sexual prowess, pondered why he wasn’t the first to assault a raped woman, insulted the pope for causing traffic delays, and boasted about personally executing three men—to name just a few of his controversial statements. But it’s his bloody war on crime—and the rhetoric that backs it—that has drawn the most criticism since he took office in June.

Duterte was previously the mayor of Davao, where he ran an anti-crime campaign that human-rights groups say used death squads to kill more than 1,000 people without trial. When he ran for president, he promised to do the same in all the Philippines.

Russia Reveals 'Satan 2' Nuclear Missile Capable of Destroying Texas in One Blow

Russia is flexing its military muscle as tensions with the US simmer in the wake of a heated third presidential debate, where Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton called Republican candidate Donald Trump a “puppet” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, Russia has declassified the first image of its new thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missile.

The RS-28 Sarmat missile—better known as the Satan 2 nuclear missile—has finally been revealed after years of being hyped by the Russian government. According to a Russian publication aligned with the Kremlin called Sputnik, the super-nuke has a payload capable of destroying an area “the size of Texas.”

The new weapon can deploy warheads of 40 megatons, or about 2,000 times as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagaski in 1945.

Former assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy Dr. Paul Craig Roberts called the atomic bombs that Washington dropped on Japan “popguns” compared to today’s thermo-nuclear weapons. “One Russian SS-18 wipes out three-fourths of New York state for thousands of years,” he said in ablog post. “Five or six of these ‘Satans’ as they are known by the US military, and the East Coast of the United States disappears.”

To make it even more frightening, the Satan 2 is also capable of evading radar defenses and could travel far enough to strike the US East and West Coast.
Image: makeyev.ru

The picture of the rocket was published today by chief designers at Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau. Along with photos of the rocket, the designers included the following statement (roughly translated by Google Translate).

Russia's Super Secret Spy Submarine Returns to Sea

October 24, 2016
Source Link

Earlier this month, a Russian ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) calledPodmoskovie slipped out of its pier at Severodvinsk for the first time in 16 years.

But BS-64 Podmoskovie—which was commissioned in 1986 as a Project 667BDRM Delfin-class (NATO: Delta IV) SSBN designated K-64—is no ordinary boomer. Over the course of nearly two decades, the massive submarine was modified to conduct special missions. But exactly what those missions might be remains somewhat of a mystery.

Podmoskovie was photographed leaving the shipyard for contractor sea trials on Oct. 22 by Oleg Kuleshov, who writes forthe BMPD blog—a product of the Moscow-based Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

Podmoskovie and her sister BS-136Orenburg—a former Delta III SSBN—are roughly analogous to the U.S. Navy’s secretive USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23)—which is a highly modified Seawolf-class boat. Carter is roughly 100ft longer that her two Seawolf-class sisters with the addition of a Multi-Mission Platform (MMP), which allows the submarine to launch and recovery of various unmanned vehicles and support special operations forces. Podmoskovie is thought to be similar in concept—but the Russians are not exactly keen on sharing those details for obvious reasons.

What is known about Podmoskovie is that the massive vessel entered the shipyard in 1999 under the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Project 09787—which ostensibly performs deep-sea research. By 2002, the boat had its missile tubes removed and the special compartments similar to those on Orenburg were installed. Indeed, externally, Podmoskovie looks very different from a standard Project 667BDRM boat aft of the sail and she appears to have had her hull lengthened.

Congress knew for at least two years about Pentagon efforts to take back bonuses from veterans

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses. Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
David S. Cloud and Sarah D. Wire

The California National Guard told the state’s members of Congress two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to claw back reenlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers, and even offered a proposal to mitigate the problem, but Congress took no action, according to a senior National Guard official.

The official added that improper bonuses had been paid to National Guard members in every state, raising the possibility that many more soldiers may owe large debts to the Pentagon.

“This is a national issue and affects all states,” Andreas Mueller, the chief of federal policy for the California Guard, wrote in an email to the state’s congressional delegation Monday. Attention had focused on California because it was “the only state that audited” bonus payments at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

In the email, Mueller reminded members of Congress that the Guard had informed them about the issue two years ago. Whether members of Congress understood the scope of the problem at the time is unclear.

The Times reported Saturday that the Pentagon has been demanding repayment of enlistment bonuses — which often reached $15,000 or more — from thousands of California Guard soldiers, many of whom had served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Audits completed last month concluded that 9,700 California Guard members were not entitled to the payments or that there had been errors in their paperwork.

Hackers Publish Surkov’s Plans To Destabilize Ukraine In Coming Months – OpEd

OCTOBER 26, 2016

In a case where those who live by hacking may die by it, Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s point man on Ukrainian policy, has had his computer hacked by Ukrainian activists who have now posted online two documents detailing on the Kremlin plans to destabilize Ukraine over the next five months.

A Ukrainian hacker group said yesterday that it had broken into the email accunt of Vladimir Surkov, Putin’s chief advisor on Ukraine and was now publishing two documents, one about Surkov’s plans for destabilizing Ukraine in the next three months and a second on forming a Transcarpathian Republic (cyberhunta.com/news/kiberhunta-peredaet-privet-surkovu/).

While there is no way to independently confirm that the documents are in fact from Surkov’s email account, their level of specificity make them plausible and thus deserving of scrutiny. What will be potentially even more interesting is if CyberHunta publishes more such materials in the future as it promises to do.

The first document is 15 pages long and lists a series of steps Russia should take between November 2016 and March 2017 to destabilize Ukraine and provoke new parliamentary and presidential elections. Among the steps listed are talks with Ukrainian opposition parties to organize protests in the form of a “Customs Maidan” in the second half of November.

Other measures include activating some deputies in the Ukrainian parliament to expand corruption probes of the Ukrainian president and his team, and perhaps most worrying of all, “to introduce among volunteers [promoting these measures] one’s own people in order to sow panic, provoke church marches, and develop separatism in the regions.”

Old Linux Flaw Gives Any User Root Access In Under 5 Seconds

OCTOBER 26, 2016

If you need another reason to be paranoid about network security, a serious exploit that attacks a nine-year-old Linux kernel flaw is now in the wild, Engadget said. The researcher who found it, Phil Oester, told V3 that the attack is “trivial to execute, never fails and has probably been around for years.” Because of its complexity, he was only able to detect it because he had been “capturing all inbound HTTP traffic and was able to extract the exploit and test it out in a sandbox,” Oester said.

The kernel flaw (CVE-2016-5195) is an 11-year-old bug that Linus Tovalds himself tried to patch once. His work, unfortunately, was undone by another fix several years later, so Oester figures it’s been around since 2007. The problem is that the Linux kernel’s memory system can break during certain memory operations, according to Red Hat. “An unprivileged local user could use this flaw to gain write access … and thus increase their privileges on the system.”

In other words, it can be used to get root server access, which is a terrible thing for the internet. Though it’s primarily an attack for users that already have an account on a server, it could potentially be exploited on a Linux machine that lets you execute a file — something that’s common for online servers.

How to Fix the National Laboratories

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Laboratories are a core engine of the U.S. national innovation system but one in urgent need of a tune-up if the United States is to meet the pressing challenges of energy security and climate change mitigation. The next administration and Congress must modernize the policy framework shaping the National Labs to allow them to more effectively drive the innovation necessary to meet energy policy priorities.

The seventeen National Labs, which have an annual budget of about $14 billion, are owned by the government and (with one exception) operated by external, independent contractors. The Labs are widely recognized as invaluable resources to the nation. They played an important role in the Manhattan project, in the development of energy technologies – including nuclear power, solar power, and shale gas technology – and continue to advance the frontiers of science in areas such as high energy physics, scientific computing, cyber security and quantum cryptography. Recently, Congress has renewed its interest in addressing long-standing issues in Lab management. Our research (described in a recent article in Nature Energy) highlights worrying trends in Lab performance related to energy innovation and outlines steps we believe are required to improve performance.

Our work concurs with numerous reports that cite a breakdown in trust between the Labs, DOE, and Congress. This breakdown results from a vicious cycle: fiscal and political pressures force Congress to demand ever-greater evidence for the effectiveness of Lab research and development (R&D). In turn, DOE and its Lab-management bureaucracy have implemented more onerous reporting requirements and operational mandates. By one measure, non-research costs associated with running the Labs have doubled as a share of the total Lab technology budget from 1990 to 2015. Consequently, a smaller fraction of the funds are allocated to actual research, and the R&D that is conducted is of a less risky nature, risk that is essential for innovation. Further, the Labs have limited incentives to engage in novel initiatives and in outside collaboration with the private sector. Finally, disappointing Lab performance, a consequence of increasingly burdensome oversight, reduces the Labs’ ability to produce results, creating more pressure from a distrustful Congress and DOE management.

The Cyber Espionage Predominant Purpose Test

October 20, 2016

Jessica “Zhanna” Malekos Smith

While ‘spying’ may strike some as indecorous state behavior, it is essentially akin to a bodily function, like sneezing, that is necessary to sustaining the health of the body politic.

But can international law meaningfully distinguish between cyberespionage for national security purposes and economic espionage? According to former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Henry M. Paulson, Jr. in Dealing with China, “the distinction between cyberespionage and cybertheft from a company for commercial use can become fuzzy.” This article proposes a new approach – a Cyber Espionage Predominant Purpose (CEPP) Test – to resolve international disputes concerning cyberespionage operations that involve mixed elements of national security espionage and commercial espionage.

But first, what exactly is the value of the CEPP Test?

In 2013 the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate announced that “France, alongside Russia and Israel, to be in a distant but respectable second place behind China in using cyberespionage for economic gain.” In comparison, according to Dr. Catherine Lotrionte, the Director of the CyberProject at Georgetown University, the U.S. does not conduct commercially motivated cyber espionage. In fact, the Obama Administration avers that a distinction exists between economic intelligence – a subset of national security espionage – and commercially motivated economic espionage.

For Drake University Law Professor Peter Yu, however, this distinction is nebulous at best: “Not only do most countries—democratic or otherwise—fail to recognize it, this line is also not always drawn in situations involving U.S. intelligence and surveillance efforts.” Yu highlights that for countries like China, the U.S.’ definitional distinction imparts little clarity here, “given the perceived “overlap between security and economic concerns” among Chinese policymakers and the continued domination of state-owned enterprises in the local business environment.”


OCTOBER 26, 2016

This has not been an encouraging month in the fight against the Islamist group known as al-Shabaab. The group launched three deadly and successful attacks yesterday alone — in a town in Kenya, a mosque in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, and on an African Union military base in the country’s strategically important Hiran region.

Perhaps more troublingly, Ethiopian troops abruptly withdrew this week from a base in Halgan, also in Hiran. The withdrawal is at least the third town in the last month that Ethiopian forces have abandoned, though there are rumorsthey have recently withdrawn from as many as eight. Al-Shabaab quickly occupied Halgan, from where it can menace the entire Hiran region.

Addis Ababa has not confirmed why it left Hiran exposed, but it is likely repositioning its forces to respond to large-scale domestic protests that have rattled the Ethiopian government. The Ethiopian withdrawal is problematic because it adds to the growing strains on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the anti-Shabaab military coalition of which Ethiopia is a member. AMISOM is due to start leaving Somalia in late 2018, but the growing pressure on its members suggests that an even earlier exit is possible. AMISOM’s other major troop-contributing countries — Burundi, Uganda, and Kenya — are all vulnerable to political upheaval of the sort that appears to have Ethiopia contemplating a drawdown.

This should set off alarm bells from Mogadishu to Washington. AMISOM is the only capable ground force battling al-Shabaab, and it is critical to protecting the highly fragile and reversible military gains made against the group. An all-out fracturing of the mission would have dire consequences for the fight to defeat al-Shabaab.