Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (77)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Pandemonium would be a good description for this week, with a deluge of developments in every theatre. Possibly the Middle East and Africa were the least stable, but the UK Brexit debate takes some beating, as does Russia’s internal mess. Media now taking an interest in Russian agents of influence in Germany, long overdue, given the damage they have done to their own country and its allies. Many interesting reports on capabilities, and especially influence and cyber.


NATO / EU / Russia Reports


German far-right MP ‘could be absolutely controlled by Russia’ – BBC News

AfD party member Markus Frohnmaier says documents suggesting this and seen by the BBC are fake.
German far-right MP “could be absolutely controlled by Russia”: BBC – news world | UNIAN
A German politician could become an “absolutely controlled” MP in the Bundestag, according to Russian documents seen by BBC Newsnight. The documents obtained by investigative journalists provide an insight into so-called “active measures” – Russian attempts to influence Western politics.
Council of Europe chief proposes changes to rules to ensure return of Russian delegation – news world | UNIAN
In his annual report published Friday, April 5, CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland has confirmed that Russia has been violating the the Council of Europe’s Statute. He claims the delegation’s return “would not represent an acceptance of the illegal annexation of Crimea.”

Russia / Russophone Reports


Dmitry Medvedev tells all (or nothing): The prime minister’s #VKLive broadcast in three summarized quotes — Meduza

On March 29, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in a live interview on the social media platform VKontakte as part of the network’s #VKLive program. While Medvedev spoke positively of social media as a platform for two-way communication with the public, his own openness about current events was limited.
Russian prime minister Medvedev goes live in a social media broadcast, but the comments section is closed — Meduza
A live interview with Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev on the social network VKontakte proceeded with the broadcast’s comment function turned off. Comments were also blocked on social media pages belonging to the Russian executive branch and to the prime minister himself. At the beginning of Medvedev’s broadcast, which is part of VKontakte’s #VKLive program, the prime minister expressed interest in social media as a two-way communicative channel between the government and its constituents. “It’s always a slice of public opinion, but it’s a very fast and often extremely sincere one. There is a price to pay, but still,” he said. Medvedev also called on government officials to be prepared for public criticism online. A VKontakte representative told Vedomosti that the social network is merely a technological partner in the broadcast and that the interview’s organizers were government employees.
Graffiti about Putin triggers first enforcement of Russia’s new law banning online anti-government insults — Meduza
Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has reportedly applied a new law that penalizes disrespecting the Russian government online for the first time. The occasion for the move was a news story about graffiti that used offensive language to describe President Vladimir Putin, according to TJournal.
Russian Police Detain Man Suspected Of Painting Offensive Putin Graffiti
Russian police have detained a man suspected of spray-painting offensive graffiti about President Vladimir Putin on the Interior Ministry building in the city of Yaroslavl, local media reported.
UAWire – Russian Defense Minister volunteers soldier labor to build railway line to China
Desperate to find contractors for its major construction projects, the Russian government has even turned to the army. At the sidelines of the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum, Sholban Kara-ool, Chairman of the Tuva Republic (a Federal subject of Russia), told the Russian news agency RBC that the Kyzyl – Kuragino – China railway line will be built by soldiers. For Tuva, the poorest region of Russia, where the GDP per capita is only half the national average, the railway line will become the first in the republic’s history, and will unite it with the Russian Railways network. The second stage of the 200 billion ruble ($3 billion) project will involve laying a railway line to Mongolia and China. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu personally suggested using the armed forces as labor for the construction. This will make it possible to start construction this year, and to complete the first stage within 3-5 years. Prisoner labor could also be used for the project. Russian railways was the first state company to formally request convict labor after a law passed in 2017 stipulated that persons sentenced to correctional labor would be sent to work at state company sites, even in remote locations. A railway line that would make it possible to develop the coal deposits in Tuva has been a topic of discussion for more than 15 years. In 2002, the Yenisei Development Company, which belongs to former Russian senator and banker Sergey Pugachev, acquired a license to mine coal in the Tuva region. At the time, it was planned that the state would take on part of the expenses for the line, and the corresponding tender was awarded to billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov’s Summa Group. However, Pugachev’s company failed to stick to the schedule, was cut off from state funding, and ultimately had to declare bankruptcy. In 2013, the mining license was resold to Ruslan Baysarov’s Tuvan Energy Industrial Corporation. At the time, he undertook to build a railway line to the site, and claimed that the company had already invested around 1 billion rubles in the project. However, the construction of the line has been postponed on multiple occasions, and has not been started even in 2019.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Will Moscow Destroy Lake Baikal Before China Can Drink It Dry?
Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – From the 1970s to earlier this decade, Russian environmental activists focused on the destructive impact of a cellulose plant on Lake Baikal. Indeed, in the last decade, they have mobilized against Moscow’s backing of that plant and even forced Vladimir Putin to back down on it. (For background on that struggle, see windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2010/01/window-on-eurasia-putin-sacrifices.html,windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2010/03/window-on-eurasia-putins-paper-mill.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/02/a-new-crisis-breaks-out-over-fate-of.html.) Then, beginning in mid-2016, Russian officials opened the way for China to bottle water from Baikal and possibly even pump it into a pipeline for export to China (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/05/russian-minister-proposes-diverting.html), moves that outraged many Russians. Roughly a million of them signed a petition against exporting Baikal’s waters to China and tens of thousands took part in demonstrations against that idea in more than 50 cities in Russia and around the world last month (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/03/nearly-million-russians-have-signed.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/03/tens-of-thousands-of-russians-in-more.html). Those protests forced Russian official to suspend construction of the bottling factory and put on hold talk of a pipeline (newsland.com/community/7411/content/ostanovleno-stroitelstvo-kitaiskogo-zavoda-na-beregu-baikala/6683155 and themoscowtimes.com/2019/03/11/russian-prosecutors-seek-to-stop-chinese-bottling-factory-at-lake-baikal-a64771). Russian anger at this idea even prompted one Russian satirical site to suggest that residents of the Transbaikal should throw trash in to the lake so that the Chinese would choke on water from the lake (intersucks.ru/общество/zhiteli-irkutska-sbrasyivayut-v-baykal-nechistotyi-chtobyi-zashhitit-ozero-ot-kitaytsev/). Now, however, apparently convinced Russians are focusing on China rather than on them, Moscow officials have announced plans to increase the concentration of dangerous substances companies can dump into Lake Baikal by a factor of ten. Such a move will leave the city “dead,” experts say (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/04/02/80074-proigraet-durak-more). The natural resources ministry has clearly miscalculated in assuming that Russians will support the kind of economic growth such environmental degradation will entail. The reverse is almost certainly the case, and those who protested against China’s plans are now likely to do the same but this time against Moscow, And that means the Kremlin, which under Vladimir Putin has consistently backed economic development and profit at the expense of the environment, has transformed the issue from one in which it could position itself as a defender of Russian interests into a different one in which it and not some foreign country is the enemy.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Tired of Strong Hand, Ever More Russians Want a Parliamentary Republic, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says
Paul Goble Staunton, April 2 – Twenty years ago, Russians overwhelmingly wanted a strong hand to restore order; but now, having seen what that order looks like and what it doesn’t deliver, ever more of them both among the systemic liberals and the population as a whole would like to see Russia transformed into a parliamentary republic, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say. The last occasion before this during which the advantages of a parliamentary republic over a super-presidential system was during the election when both registered and unregistered liberal candidates made an argument for it, the paper says. But then the idea disappeared from the media and appeared to die out (ng.ru/editorial/2019-04-01/2_7545_red.html). But now the idea is having a revival, in part as a result of the work of sociologist Sergey Belanovsky, who gained attention for predicting the 2011-2012 protests. Those taking part in focus groups he organized say they want to move away from the strong hand they wanted earlier to a more democratic arrangement (finversia.ru/obsor/blogs/sergei-belanovskii-negativnoe-otnoshenie-k-vlasti-narastaet-55531). “To a large extent,” Belanovsky says, the Russian people have gone through a cycle: after a time with the strong hand in Soviet times, they wanted democracy; after democracy was accompanied by disorder, they wanted a strong hand; and now that they have had a strong hand again, they want democracy in the hopes that system will solve the problems Russia faces. Among those who have advocated parliamentary democracy most consistently, the paper’s editors say, is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the émigré opposition leader. He has argued that the legislature must consist of representatives of major regions and not necessarily be dominated by party groups. Russians want a more democratic system, Nezavisimaya gazeta says, not only because they are angry that the current presidentialist system does not seem to be addressing their concerns but also because many are worried about the overall direction Russia is heading, including the militarization of the economy and international isolation. “In general,” the editors continue, “the people are calling for a parliamentary republic because the presidential model hasn’t worked.” But that is the problem: the Russian people know what hasn’t worked and want something else. A parliamentary republic is “something else.” But the systemic liberals haven’t yet provided a convincing idea about exactly how it would work.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s ‘Russia Today’ Sets Up Special Department to Focus on Regions
Paul Goble Staunton, April 2 – In an acknowledgement of the growing importance of regionalism in the Russian Federation – on that point, see this author’s “Regionalism is the Nationalism of the Next Russian Revolution” (afterempire.info/2016/12/28/regionalism/) – and of Moscow’s failure to reach out to the regions, Moscow has set up a special “Regions” department in Russia Today. And in recognition that Moscow has not done a good job in this area, it has appointed not a hardline pro-Kremlin type but rather Yekaterina Vinokurova, a former activist, member of the Presidential Human Rights Council and Gazeta journalist who has been a correspondent for the Znak news agency (rbc.ru/politics/02/04/2019/5ca31c7b9a7947da96797bb6). She told RBC today that “this department will not focus on the political agenda of the day,” in part at least because of a potential conflict of interest connected with her work with the Human Rights Council. Instead, it will focus on social issues, intriguing individuals, and places few Russians living in Moscow or other big cities know about. In this way, Vinokurova said, “we would like to show the real Russia and not the country of television and Facebook.” She added that Russia Today had not required her to change her views, to stop using social networks or to avoid making public statements on controversial issues. What she and her department will be doing will follow the pioneering efforts of Radio Liberty’s Tatar-Bashkir Service, its North Caucasian language services, and its regional Internet portals. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has proposed doing away with these services and cutting funding for these portals. That is a profound mistake on its own – again see my comment on this at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/03/silencing-three-radio-liberty-services.html – but it may be an even bigger one if Congress goes along because, however committed Vinokurova is to maintaining her independence, Russia Today has a track record that runs in the other direction. There are important stories in the vast spaces of Russia beyond Moscow’s ring road, and there are serious differences over what stories should be reported and how they should be presented. Radio Liberty’s services and regional portals have shown how to do this and have brought these places to a far larger audience than these regions have ever had. It will be truly tragic if Russia Today will be taking over with its own particular ideological spin at precisely the time when these services and portals are taken off the air.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia has More People Behind Bars than Any European Country Both Absolutely and Relative to Population
Paul Goble Staunton, April 2 – Even though Moscow has reduced Russia’s prison population by almost a third over the last decade, the country still has more prisoners both absolutely and relative to population than its neighbors or than any European country, according to a new University of Lausanne study prepared for the Council of Europe. At present, the study says, Russia has 602,176 people behind bars or in camps, a figure equal to 418.3 per 100,000. No other country in the survey has as many or as many per capita: the Russian figure is nearly twice that of Azerbaijan and four times that of European countries (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2019/04/02/798027-rossii-dolshe-deshevle). And while Russia spends more on its prison system than any other country in the survey – 3.9 billion euros (4.8 billion US dollars), it spends less to feed its inmates, only 2.5 euros (3 US dollars) a day, compared to an all-European average of 66.5 euros (80 US dollars). Even Azerbaijan, Moldova and Georgia spend more than Russia does. In European countries, the average time in prison “does not exceed 8.2 months,” and only 1.2 percent of prisoners are serving life sentences. In Russia, however, the majority of prisoners will be behind bars five to ten years, although those sentenced to life imprisonment currently number less than one percent. Finally, the study finds, those behind bars in Russia are two times more likely to die there, with 51 deaths among 10,000 prisoners every year. Of these, five are suicides.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: KPRF Official Not Allowed to Finish Critique of Putin at Meeting — but Posts It Online Anyway
Paul Goble Staunton, April 1 – At a meeting of KPRF leadersover the weekend, Valery Rashkin, the head of the Moscow city party committee and a member of the Duma, began a savage critique of Vladimir Putin for “surrounding himself with oligarchs and carrying out a liberal policy of supporting the capitalist class and the bourgeoisie.” We agreed with him on his policy toward Crimea, Rashkin said, but he frittered that away. Now, we have nothing in common with him at all.” But before he could finish his indictment, Vladimir Kashin, the deputy head of the KPRF Central Committee, cut him off (politsovet.ru/62285-na-plenume-ck-kprf-ne-razreshili-kritikovat-putina.html and kommersant.ru/doc/3930363). Kashin said that Rashkin had violated the rules, and “besides, he is the leader of a city organization and must speak about work in the city” rather than about global issues. That might have been the end of it, a demonstration of the lack of opposition in a systemic opposition party, save for one thing. Although he couldn’t deliver his remarks in full at the KPRF meeting, Rashkin was able to post the full text on the KPRF webpage for all to see (kprf.ru/party-live/cknews/183858.html), yet another way in which the electronic universe is subverting the efforts of Putin and his allies to suppress any dissent.
Rising Mortality Rates Challenge Russia’s Efforts To Kick-Start Population Growth
Amid a population slump, Moscow is seeking to ensure the “preservation of the Russian nation.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Health ‘Optimization’ Will Force Almost Half of Mentally Ill Out of Residential Care
Paul Goble Staunton, March 29 – In yet another example of the fact that Vladimir Putin’s policies hit the neediest and those least capable of defending themselves hardest, Labor and Social Security Minister Maksim Topilin has announced that up to 45 percent of those now handicapped because of mentally illness will lose their places in hospitals as a result of the optimization of health care. At present, there are approximately 155,000 mental patients in almost 600 hospital facilities across the Russian Federation. If as expected, this Putin program to save money is implemented, more than 70,000 of them will be released to family members or simply left to fend for themselves (rosbalt.ru/russia/2019/03/29/1772651.html). Doctors, social service workers and volunteers tell Dmitry Remizov of the Rosbalt news agency that this is not only unrealistic but dangerous because in many cases, those pushed out of hospital care may engage in anti-social and even violent acts. Igor Khmaruk, a psychologist at the Russian State Medical University, is among them. He says that carrying out this program is going to prove “impossible” because it will soon be obvious to everyone that the consequences will be “only negative,” including in terms of cost to the government. Psychiatrist Igor Lazarev concurs. He says that he watched this process begin in the hospital where he used to work. Many patients were sent home without any of the necessary supports being put in place, all in the name of “optimization.” In almost every case, things ended “badly.” Doctors don’t hospitalize the mentally ill lightly. Consequently, those that are in institutions need to be there and for some periods of time. When such patients are suddenly released, any progress with them is typically lost because they aren’t given what they need to function in society. The government’s plan to de-institutionalize so many people was sprung on the concerned public so quickly that many are still in shock. Activists are mobilizing the expert community to try to prevent disaster. Whether they will be successful remains to be seen, but they are outraged. They recognize that economists have taken over many administrations including health care and are concerned only with saving money no matter how much suffering their projects inflict on people. Now, they are going after a group that can’t easily fight back; but their supporters promise to resist any moves to institutionalize so many all at once. One can only hope and pray that they succeed in blocking this latest heartless policy of the Kremlin leadership.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Massive New Study Documents Destruction of Cultural Life in Yekaterinburg over Last 15 Years
Paul Goble Staunton, March 28 – A 521-page study of cultural life in Yekaterinburg over the last 15 years delivers a devastating conclusion: Officials there despite having large sums of money at their disposal effectively destroyed what had been a vibrant scene in the 1990s and now oversee a sector that displays only decay, crisis and chaos. The volume, entitled Yekaterinburg’s Pulse, was compiled by 30 experts and activists and was paid for by the city’s Cultural Administration, the object of the volume’s devastating findings. The full-text is available online at ekaterinburgpulse.ru/images/epulse-full.pdf and is reviewed at politsovet.ru/62223-krizis-i-haos-prigovor-kulturnoy-politike-ekaterinburga.html). Because of its enormous length and because some of those who helped conduct the study are notorious for their critical stance, the book has been almost completely ignored by its intended audience, the administration and the residents of Yekaterinburg. That is a tragedy because its criticisms are the kind of diagnosis needed if the situation is to be rectified. In every sector of the city’s cultural life, from museums to theaters to publications, the report says, there is either “chaos” or “a crisis” or most commonly both. That reflects the absence of planning and coordination, on the one hand, and the serious misuse of funds, on the other, the report says. What is especially tragic, the editors of the Politsovet news agency say, is that the Yekaterinburg Culture Administration which paid for the report appears not to have read it or taken it seriously. (The administration did not answer Politsovet’s request for comments on the study.) But if current officials choose to ignore it, two other groups shouldn’t: the residents of Yekaterinburg who have become the victims of the city’s mistaken cultural policies and those in other cities and regions of Russia who should use the Yekaterinburg’s Pulse volume as a model for studies they need to conduct as well. Indeed, Politsovet implies, that latter role may prove to be the most important contribution this study makes.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia’s Cossacks Set Up Their Own Independent All-Russian Arbitration Court
Paul Goble Staunton, April 4 – In yet another step toward reifying their identity as a separate people, the Cossacks of Russia have set up a permanent inter-regional arbitration court that will hear cases involving Cossacks, a move that has many parallels with the spread of shariat courts among Muslim peoples within the Russian Federation. Even more important for what this means to the Cossacks who have long wanted such an institution, this move, although sanctioned by the government-sanctioned Council of the Atamans of Russia calls attention to the further degradation of a common legal space in the Russia of Vladimir Putin. This breakthrough development is reported by Valery Rozanov, the media coordinator for Cossack Affairs of the Central Federal District in an article in the Russian nationalist newspaper Zavtra who suggests this is a step toward the Cossacks having their own prosecutors and jails as well (zavtra.ru/blogs/v_rossii_vpervie_poyavitsya_kazachij_sud_na_ocheredi_prokuratura_i_tyur_ma). In fact, he says, the new all-Russian Cossack court has arisen on the basis of local Cossack arbitration courts in the Urals, Ryazan, the Far East and the Kuban which were organized earlier by Cossack NGOs. But the new court enjoys official sanction and will operate on a permanent basis with highly trained legal specialists as judges. The new court, Rozanov continues, “will consider private and economic disputes not only among Cossacks, but all citizens can appeal to our Court in order to obtain a just resolution.” Under Russian law, this court and its decisions will have the same status as Russian arbitration courts. The court has not yet been registered with the Russian justice ministry, the Cossack spokesman acknowledges, but “even if that organ refuses it registration, we will continue to function as an autonomous arbiter on an ad hoc basis,” something that Russian law currently allows. “Our Court,” he says, “in principle will give us the chance while not entering into conflict with Federal Russian law to fulfill the most important demands of Cossacks for justice.” It will be based on Cossack traditions and customary law and thus will enjoy the respect and backing of all Cossacks. One of the organizers of the court told Rozanov that the Cossacks can expect the formation of other state institutions in the future. “We already have a Cossack Counter-Intelligence Service” and logic dictates that there should eventually be a Cossack procuracy as well.” Separate prisons for Cossacks are another matter, this Cossack official said. “Prison for a Cossack always was life outside of the Cossack community.”
‘We’re making a system that’s fatal to us if it’s misused’ ‘Meduza’ talks government relations and transparency with Kaspersky Lab’s Vice President for Public Affairs — Meduza
One might expect the cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab to focus primarily on hackers and viruses, but in the last two years, the company has had to defend the safety of its own products. It all started in 2017 when the U.S. government prohibited all of its institutions from using Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus service out of concern that the company might be cooperating with Russian intelligence services. A year later, in the fall of 2018, Kaspersky opened a “Transparency Center” in Switzerland that offers experts the chance to examine the source code behind its products firsthand. A second center will open in Madrid in the summer of 2019, and by the end of the year, all data the company receives from European users will be processed directly in Europe. Meduza’s Deputy Chief Editor Sultan Suleimanov spoke with Kaspersky’s Vice President for Public Affairs Anton Shingarev, whose portfolio includes government relations, to ask how helpful the new centers will be in restoring users’ and governments’ trust in the company.
Convicted neo-Nazi goes free after Russian government partially decriminalizes ‘inciting hate and enmity’ — Meduza
The neo-Nazi Dmitry Bobrov has been set free due to the Russian government’s partial decriminalization of Article 282, a law that now penalizes some cases of “enciting hate and enmity” against particular groups with fees and administrative penalties alone. Bobrov, who has led the recognized extremist groups Schultz-88 and National Socialist Initiative, went into hiding in September 2017 when he was sentenced to two years in prison. He was captured in January 2019.
Russia’s federal censor blocks a thousand websites that mention a prominent banker — Meduza
Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, has blocked roughly 1,000 hyperlinks to different Internet resources mentioning VTB Bank, the bank’s president, Andrey Kostin, and TV news anchor Nailya Asker-Zade.
Torture Claims Mount As Russia Tries Central Asians Over St. Petersburg Subway Blast
Several suspects on trial over a deadly blast in the St. Petersburg subway in 2017 have alleged that they were tortured in custody as authorities sought people with connections to the man they say …
All 11 Suspects In St. Petersburg Metro Bomb Attack Plead Innocent
The 11 suspects in a deadly 2017 metro bomb blast in Russia’s second-largest city have pleaded innocent as the terror trial got under way on April 2 in a St. Petersburg military courtroom.
Moscow Court Prolongs Director Serebrennikov’s House Arrest Until July 4
A Moscow court has extended the term of house arrest for theater director Kirill Serebrennikov and two associates in an embezzlement trial that the defendants and their supporters contend is politi…
Former Russian Military Officer Jailed For 19 Years For Fighting Alongside IS
A Russian court has convicted a former military officer of fighting alongside Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and sentenced him to 19 years in prison.
Kommersant Newspaper’s Offices In Yekaterinburg Ransacked
One of Russia’s leading newspapers, Kommersant, says that its offices in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg have been ransacked and the local branch’s director threatened.
Navalny Defies Russia’s New Law Against Insulting Authorities Online
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has defied a new law that bans online insults against Russian officials — using Twitter to insult President Vladimir Putin’s administration.
UAWire – Fund of Putin’s daughter receives $430,000 from Russian oil giant Rosneft
The National Intellectual Development Foundation, headed by Vladimir Putin’s daughter Yekaterina Tikhonova, won the Rosneft tender for patent …
Goats, cyberbullying, and a letter to Putin: How 12-year-old Tasya Perchikova became the center of a village scandal that shocked Russia — Meduza
On March 16, Meduza published a lengthy report in Russian about young girl named Tasya Perchikova who wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin about her family’s difficult living conditions in the village of Tomsino. When the 12-year-old and her family began receiving national attention and small donations along with it, they found themselves facing harassment from their own neighbors. The Perchikovs’ fellow villagers threatened Tasya and her mother, tricked the girl into handing over a nude photo, and posted the picture in local social media groups.
More than 20 Russian universities choose to award bonus points in admissions to members of patriotic youth movement — Meduza
More than 20 universities in Russia have chosen to reward their applicants for participating in Yunarmia (“Youth Army”), an explicitly patriotic youth movement sponsored by the country’s Defense Ministry. According to the Ministry, about half a million young people will be involved in the movement by early May.
Jailed Human Rights Defender Titiyev Will Not Appeal His Sentence
Human rights activist Oyub Titiyev will not appeal the four-year penal colony sentence he was handed by a court in Russia’s Chechnya region but will seek early release, the Moscow-based rights grou…
Amnesty International Calls For Justice For Chechnya’s ‘Gay Purge’ Victims
Two years after a “horrifying” antigay crackdown in Chechnya was revealed, Russian authorities have failed to provide justice for the victims, according to Amnesty International.
Blast At Russian Military Academy Investigated As Attempted Murder
An explosion at a military academy in St. Petersburg that injured four students is being investigated as an attempted murder.
Three Injured In Blast At Russian Military Academy: Defense Ministry
Three people have been injured in an explosion at a military academy in St. Petersburg, Russian media cited the Defense Ministry as saying.
Russian Authorities Say Two Suspected Militants With IS Ties Killed In North Caucasus
Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee (NAK) has said that two suspected militants with alleged links to the extremist group Islamic State (IS) have been killed in the North Caucasus region of K…
Russian Court Sentences Man To Life For 2015 Stabbing Deaths Of Five Women
A court in Moscow has sentenced a man to life in prison after finding him guilty of murdering several women.
One of Russia’s richest women killed in German plane crash – CNA
BERLIN: A plane crashed in Germany on Sunday (Mar 31) killing three people, police said, as one of Russia’s richest women was identified by the …
Wealthy Russian Businesswoman Dies In German Plane Crash
One of Russia’s richest women, S7 Group chairwoman and co-owner Natalia Fileva, has died in a plane crash in southwestern Germany, the S7 airline says.
Natalia Fileva, Russian Aviation Tycoon, Dies in Plane Crash – The New York Times
Ms. Fileva, who was considered one of Russia’s richest women, died on Sunday when a private plane on which she was traveling crashed in Germany.
Soyuz Rocket Launches Satellites From French Guiana Site
Arianespace says it has successfully launched a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana carrying four telecommunications and Internet satellites.
Ancient Russian Instrument Finds A New Resonance
The gusli, an ancient Russian musical instrument, is finding new audiences. A 30-year-old Russian entrepreneur set up a factory in his hometown to build them. Sergey Gorchakov and his craftsmen create handcrafted instruments based on old drawings of the gusli but have also developed new models.

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports


Window on Eurasia — New Series: Today Baku Marks Day of the Genocide of Azerbaijanis

Paul Goble Staunton, March 31 – Today, as it has since 1998, Baku marked the Day of the Genocide of the Azerbaijanis, an event designed to call attention to what the Azerbaijani authorities argue is what has long been a continuous aspect of the history of their nation but one that the Soviet authorities kept them from discussing. Most nations that commemorate a genocide do so about a single event be it the Holocaust for the Jews, 1915 for the Armenians or the Holodomor for Ukrainians, but Azerbaijanis as this day shows point to what they say has been a series of attacks extending over the last two centuries (yenicag.ru/31-marta-den-genocida-azerbaydzhancev-2/). As a result of the treaties of Gulistan and Turkmenchay in 1813 and 1828, the Yenicag agency says in a far from atypical commentary, Azerbaijanis were divided; and genocide was visited upon them by the occupiers who were interested in killing off or driving out Azerbaijanis from lands the occupiers or their allies wanted for themselves. This was followed by what the Azerbaijanis describe as murderous attacks by Armenians against Azerbaijanis in 1905-1907 and again in 1918-1920 as the Armenians sought to establish what Azerbaijanis call “Greater Armenia.” They killed or drove out Azerbaijanis from places where Azerbaijanis had lived from time immemorial and acquired Zengezur for Armenia. Later, “with the goal of the further expansion of the policy of the deportation of Azerbaijanis living on these territories used new means were used,” including a Moscow degree of December 23, 1947, which expelled Azerbaijanis from portions of the two republics in order to make room for Armenians returning from abroad. When the Karabakh conflict began in 1988, the actions of Armenian forces forced hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis to flee from their homes; but it also resulted in horrific massacres as in the case of Hojali in February 1992, an event Azerbaijanis describe as the Hojali genocide because the town and its residents were wiped from the earth. Obviously, Armenians and many others would offer a very different description of what happened; and sorting out the truth is anything but easy. But what is important about this Day of the Azerbaijani Genocide is how deeply held the notion of being a victim of a two-centuries’ long genocide now is among Azerbaijanis. Indeed, their view of themselves as victims of a genocide is rapidly becoming almost as tightly held as the Armenian sense that they are the victims of such a form of mass destruction. No one who hopes for peace in the South Caucasus can afford to dismiss this new reality, but Overcoming it will be possible only by an open discussion of what has happened and why. That won’t be easy: those who attempt to do so can expect to be attacked by one or another side or by both. But addressing these crimes and the views the two nations have about being victims of genocide is essential if peace is finally going to come to a region that has seen far too little of it in the past.

Belarus Reports


Russia to give Belarus a loan to refinance old debts

Russian Federation decided to give Belarus a loan for refinancing of previous debts
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Fake Bomb Threats Force Evacuations of Buildings in Belarusian Capital
Paul Goble Staunton, March 31 – In a disturbing echo of the telephone fake bomb threats that have emptied hundreds of buildings in Russian cities over the last two years, a similar phenomenon emptied two shopping centers, a railroad station, and a parking garage in the capital of Belarus today (belsat.eu/ru/news/s-vokzalov-galileo-i-zamka-v-minske-evakuirovali-lyudej/). Officials provided little information, but they did use Twitter and a Telegram channel to inform the population (twitter.com/GUVD_Minsk/status/1112326569303904256 and t.me/skgovby/1002), and they issued a statement warning that anyone could engaging in this kind of telephone terrorism faces up to five years in prison (belsat.eu/ru/news/fejkovyj-miner-torgovyh-tsentrov-v-minske-mozhet-sest-v-tyurmu-na-pyat-let/). Such evacuations, if they follow the Russian pattern, are likely to increase over the next few days and spread both panic and anger at the authorities for their apparent inability to do more than evacuate buildings (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/russians-struggle-with-continuing.html).
Belarus Removes Crosses From Stalin Victims Memorial
Police in Belarus have detained at last 15 activists who protested against the removal of dozens of wooden crosses from the Kurapaty memorial site commemorating victims of Soviet-era repressions.
Activists Detained In Belarus While Protesting Removal Of Crosses From Stalin Victims Memorial
Police in Belarus have detained at least 15 activists and politicians who protested the removal of dozens of wooden crosses commemorating victims of Soviet-era repressions.
Over 1,000 Jews Murdered By Nazis Unearthed In Belarus
Construction workers in the Belarusian city of Brest have unearthed a World War II-era mass grave thought to contain the remains of over a thousand murdered Jews from the city’s ghetto. The building works have now stopped and the remains are being exhumed.
The Bat’s Out Of The Fridge: Belarusian Rescuers Help Wildlife Hibernate
An animal rescue center in Minsk marks the beginning of spring with a special event: they open their refrigerator and release their hibernating bats into the wild.
Belarusian Authorities Detain Four Russians On Suspicion Of Smuggling Migrants Into EU
Belarusian border guards have detained four Russian nationals suspected of attempting to smuggle migrants from South Asia to the European Union via Belarus and Russia.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

 


 

Three importers cut Iran oil shipments to zero: U.S. envoy | Reuters
Three of eight importers granted waivers by Washington to buy oil from Iran have now cut their shipments to zero, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, adding that improved global oil market conditions would help reduce Iranian crude exports further.
Build an Iranian Sanctions Wall – WSJ
Some Democrats promise to return to the Obama deal. Trump can stop them by taking action now.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Blasts Trump’s Sanctions As ‘Economic Terrorism,’ Accusing U.S. of Blocking Humanitarian Aid
The president “rejoices over the misery that he thinks he has imposed on ordinary Iranians,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Iran Hit With 3rd Major Flood in 2 Weeks – The New York Times
The authorities ordered the evacuation of flood-ravaged cities in western Iran. The Red Crescent said contact had been lost with much of the region.
Iran Says Trump’s Sanctions Have Frustrated Flood Relief Efforts – The New York Times
Iran said sanctions renewed by Mr. Trump had impeded international aid groups from sending assistance to victims. The State Department denied the accusation.
Trump’s Iran Policy Is ‘Untethered to History’ – Foreign Policy
Veteran diplomat William Burns on the U.S. president, Putin, Iraq, and the “militarization” of American diplomacy.


UAWire – Putin and Netanyahu hold telephone conversation to discuss situation in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a telephone conversation, reported by the Kremlin’s press …
The Islamic State Was a Sham | The National Interest
The Islamic State may be beaten back, but it is not gone, and it’s lurking in the corner ready to capitalize on mistakes.
Inside the Fall of the Islamic State – Foreign Policy
On the podcast: A reporter who embedded with U.S.-backed forces in Syria describes the battles there.
Rubble, Refugees, and Syria’s Periphery | Center for Strategic and International Studies
It is hard to say what “victory” looks like in Syria, but it has seemed for some time that Bashar al-Assad has won one. He controls all of the country’s major population centers, his Syrian adversaries are in disarray, and his regional and international antagonists are no longer contesting his rule. Eight years ago, it seemed unlikely that Assad’s bold bet on repression to defeat a broad-based opposition would work. Even four years ago, before Russia’s military engagement, his position seemed tenuous.
Battle for Baghuz: ‘I saw pieces of human flying through the air above me’ | News | The Times
For those in a rush to die fighting, it was Plan B: dozens of suicide belts lay clustered among the gobbits of gore, twisted vehicles and burnt tents, the spent bullet casings and shrapnel, all that was left of the caliphate.Such was the ferocity of the battle here as the last diehard Islamic State
Turkish soldier killed in attack in northwest Syria | Fox News
The Turkish military says one of its soldiers has been killed in northern Syria, blaming “terrorists” for the attack and responded with a barrage of shelling.
Syria Says U.S. Should Give Israel ‘South Carolina’ Instead of Golan Heights, ‘It’s the Land of Senator Lindsey Graham’
“The Syrian Arab Golan is ours and will return to us,” Damascus’s envoy to the United Nations said just hours after Israel reportedly bombed Aleppo.


UAWire – Media: Israeli jets flew through two Arab states to attack Syria
The Israeli jets that attacked targets in Syria on March 27 entered Syrian airspace through Jordan and Iraq, according to the Russian news …
Trump’s Golan Move Means His ‘Deal of the Century’ May Be Dead – Bloomberg
President Donald Trump was already struggling to rally Arab support for a long-awaited Middle East peace plan he’s dubbed the “deal of the century.” His latest move in support of Israel may make that plan dead on arrival.
Trump Administration to Redraw Maps to Show Golan Heights as Part of Israel
Maps to be reissued after Trump’s controversial decision.
Arab League Rejects Trump’s Israel Policies | Time
The Arab League rejected U.S. recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights and other Trump administration policies seen as biased.
Israel, Hamas move toward Gaza cease-fire – POLITICO
Egyptian mediators have worked to broker a deal.
Twitter Network Uses Fake Accounts to Promote Netanyahu, Israel Watchdog Finds – The New York Times
A network of hundreds of social media accounts, many of them fake, was used to smear opponents of the Israeli prime minister, investigators found.
Netanyahu, Gantz Ramp Up Attacks in Israeli Election – WSJ
Israel’s national election is becoming particularly vicious and personal as campaigning enters its final week, highlighting how the battle for Israel’s premiership remains closely contested.
Guide to Israel’s elections: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Trump and more – CNN
As Israelis prepare to head to the polls on April 9, Benjamin Netanyahu faces perhaps the toughest election campaign of his long political career.
Campaign questions mental fitness of Netanyahu’s rival | Fox News
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party has released a new campaign trying to paint his main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, as mentally unstable.
Israeli election: the left that dare not speak its name | Reuters
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to undermine his strongest election challenger, he pins a label on him that many Israelis see as an insult: “Leftist”.
Cultural obstacles are the real barriers to Israeli-Palestinian peace | TheHill
Palestinian leaders will need to respect the rights of their own people before we can hope they’ll respect the rights of Israelis to live in peace.


Erdogan’s Opponents Promise Scrutiny of Istanbul’s Books After Turkey Elections – The New York Times
Losing Istanbul in Sunday’s vote could cost Turkey’s president and his party. Opponents say they have warped the local economy through crony schemes.
Istanbul mayoral candidate confident of win after recount | Fox News
The opposition party’s mayoral candidate in Istanbul says he’s confident that the result of a recount of votes in the city will confirm his victory, and renewed an appeal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to help end the standoff.
Turkey expands Istanbul vote recount after ruling party challenges losses – Reuters
Election officials expanded a vote recount in Istanbul late on Thursday, CNN Turk said, as the ruling party of President Tayyip Erdogan pushed its appeal against its shock defeat there in local elections.
Experts Weigh in on Results of Turkey’s Local Elections
Initial vote counts indicate that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party lost control of multiple major cities in Turkey in local elections Sunday. Erdogan is disputing the results in Ankara and Istanbul, but many analysts say the vote is clearly a setback for the powerful ruler. VOA’s Turkish Service spoke with political analysts about what the results mean, in this report narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.
A Political Quake in Turkey as Erdogan’s Party Loses in His Home Base of Support – The New York Times
The feeble economy and a disciplined opposition showed that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated for nearly two decades, has weaknesses.
UPDATE 5-Turks Vote in Local Polls, Erdogan’s Party Could Lose in Big Cities | Newsmax.com
UPDATE 5-Turks Vote in Local Polls, Erdogan’s Party Could Lose in Big Cities


Libya: Battle between Haftar and Tripoli’s militias could lead to destruction of the capital | World | The Times
The unstoppable rise of Libya’s “Field Marshal” Khalifa Haftar is yet another consequence of the torments faced by western powers amid the ruins of their Arab Spring policies.The Gaddafi-era general who defected to the west in the 1990s has become just the sort of would-be autocrat they encouraged t
Rogue commander, General Khalifa Haftar, orders troops to march on Tripoli | The Times
Libya was on the brink of a third civil war in eight years last night after the general whose forces run the east of the country ordered his troops to march on Tripoli.The self-styled Libyan National Army of Marshal Khalifa Haftar was said to be 20 miles from the the capital hours after it seized t
‘Brief skirmish’ near Libya’s Tripoli as Haftar’s LNA heads west | News | Al Jazeera
Report of clash comes as Tripoli gov’t declares alert after Haftar forces say ready to cleanse ‘west from terrorists’.
Eastern Libya forces move west, skirmish south of Tripoli | Reuters
Eastern Libyan military forces have moved to western Libya and were briefly locked in a skirmish with a rival force south of the capital Tripoli, an eastern official and residents said on Wednesday, in an escalation between rival camps in the oil producer.
UN issues alert as eastern Libyan forces close in on Tripoli | World | The Times
The United Nations has warned of a risk of fresh conflict in Libya after the former general who dominates the east of the divided country moved into positions surrounding Tripoli.António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, arrived in Tripoli today for peace talks, but as he did so there were report
Militia Advances on Libyan Capital, Raising Prospect of Renewed Civil War – The New York Times
Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who controls eastern Libya, has for years threatened to seize the entire country. Rival militias vowed to stop him.
Libya threatens to descend into war as general orders forces into Tripoli
General Khalifa Haftar has recently sought to secure Libya’s southern oil fields, and his forces are now moving west towards Tripoli.
Libya crisis: General Haftar tells forces to take capital – BBC News
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is in Tripoli, urges an end to the escalation.


Algeria’s President Bouteflika Is Gone. What Happens Now? – The New York Times
The protesters remarkably succeeded in removing Bouteflika without a single life lost or shot fired by security services. But the standoff is far from over.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s president, resigns at 82 – CNN
Algeria’s ailing 82-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned, according to a short statement published on Tuesday by state-run Algeria Press Agency.
Algeria president Bouteflika steps down after weeks of protests, army pressure | Fox News
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down on Tuesday after 20 years in office, and six weeks of massive nationwide protests.
Huge rallies as Algerians seek departure of Bouteflika, old guard | News | Al Jazeera
Protesters reject army bid to remove president on health reasons, call it attempt by old guard to maintain status quo.
Algeria’s embattled Bouteflika to resign within days: Report | News | Al Jazeera
President’s resignation plan comes after military chief called for his removal in accordance with constitution.
Algeria’s Bouteflika will resign by April 28: State media | News | Al Jazeera
Millions of Algerians have taken to the streets calling for the 82-year-old to step down after about 20 years in office.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika: Algeria’s president resigns amid mass protests – BBC News
The 82-year-old submits his resignation in the wake of weeks of protests, state media report.
Algeria President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down this month, says state media – CNN
After weeks of protest, Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will resign, according to state-run newspaper APS. He is expected to step down before his term expires on April 28.
Algeria: Hundreds of thousands march for President Bouteflika’s removal – BBC News
Police use water cannon and tear gas as protesters demand the resignation of President Bouteflika.
Report Says Algeria’s President Is Preparing to Resign – The New York Times
After weeks of protests and a call by the army chief to declare him unfit, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is ready to step down, according to a privately owned TV network.
Huge Crowds of Algerians Protest Army’s Latest Compromise Offer – The New York Times
Crowds, seeking far more than the ouster of the ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, want the wholesale removal of “the System.” all those tied to his 20-year reign.


Afghan National Security Chief Is Sidelined in His Own War – The New York Times
As the Americans negotiate with the Taliban directly, they are shunning Afghanistan’s national security adviser — and perhaps the president as well.
A Key To Peace In Afghanistan? Consider Conservation, Says One Scientist : NPR
Alex Dehgan, a former State Department official who ran the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan program, argues science diplomacy can play a key role in rebuilding the country.


Egypt kills hundreds of suspected militants in disputed gun battles
Egypt’s police has shot dead over 460 men since mid-2015. Authorities said many were militants and the killings were in self defence. Some families disagree.
Why this US general says Russian Wagner mercenaries in Africa ‘concern me greatly’ – To Inform is to Influence
By: Kyle Rempfer The nominee to lead U.S. Africa Command has dealt with Russian mercenaries before during his time in Syria, and is planning to look into their operations on the African continent in his new role. “I have some experience with these groups and specifically the Wagner Group from my time in Syria,” Gen. Stephen J. Townsend told the Senate…
Radical Islamists Have Opened a New Front in Mali – Foreign Policy
Local grievances are behind the recent violence in the country. Jihadis are hoping to exploit them to build a caliphate.
In Somalia, US Air Strikes Rise and Transparency Declines – Defense One
The 2019 tally is on track to more than double last year’s total.
Jamal Khashoggi’s murder has rocked the U.S.-Saudi partnership – The Washington Post
Riyadh’s lack of answers in the Post columnist’s killing puts a key partnership in limbo.
Arab Regimes Are the World’s Most Powerful Islamophobes – Foreign Policy
Middle Eastern governments have forged alliances with right-wing groups in the West dedicated to anti-Islam bigotry.


Turkey local elections: Erdogan fights for nation’s confidence – BBC News
With Turkey in an economic downturn, local polls are widely seen as a referendum on the president.
UAWire – Turkey opens military operation control center in eastern Syria
On March 31, Turkish Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar, accompanied by the commanders of the country’s troops, inspected military units stationed …
In Elections, Turkey’s Opposition Hopes to Capitalize on Erdogan’s Woes
Erdogan control of Istanbul hangs in balance as recession and opposition coalition threatens to end his decades long control of key city
Turkish elections: Much at stake in Kurdish-majority southeast | News | Al Jazeera
Nearly 100 mayors from the pro-Kurdish HDP party have been removed from office and replaced by government trustees.
Turkey’s lira is swooning again — just in time for elections
Markets still remember Turkey’s currency crash last summer, which triggered a sell-off in emerging markets and sent investors running for the hills.
Lira wobbles as U.S. ties with Turkey fray | Reuters
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s fiery anti-U.S. rhetoric helped spark a currency collapse in 2018 that plunged his country into recession.

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

 


 

Trump Demanded Kim Hand Over Nuclear Weapons, Reuters Reports – Bloomberg
U.S. President Donald Trump gave North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a list of demands that included a call for handing over nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the U.S. in their talks in Hanoi last month, Reuters reported, citing the document.
Exclusive: With a piece of paper, Trump called on Kim to hand over nuclear weapons | Reuters
On the day that their talks in Hanoi collapsed last month, U.S. President Donald Trump handed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a piece of paper that included a blunt call for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States, according to the document seen by Reuters.
Officials say Kim Jong Un warned his generals ahead of Trump summit – CNNPolitics
In one of the clearest signs of just how much Kim Jong Un wanted an agreement at what became the failed Hanoi summit in February with President Donald Trump, CNN has learned that the North Korean leader gave specific orders to his generals to not carry out any unplanned activity in the days and weeks leading up the meeting, according to a senior South Korean official and a US defense official.
North Korea long-range rocket test site Sohae “almost” completely rebuilt month after Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit, South says – CBS News
Trump admin. has said it doesn’t necessarily agree with analysts on implications of activity at site Kim vowed to dismantle, but it has drawn a red line
Missile-tracking aircraft arrives on Okinawa amid fears N. Korea may lift testing moratorium – Pacific – Stripes
An Air Force RC-135S Cobra Ball landed at Kadena Air Base on Saturday evening, according to an Okinawan who monitors military aircraft traffic for Japan’s Fuji Television.
Billions in the Ground: The Race to Harvest North Korea’s Rare Earth Reserves | The National Interest
Recent studies suggest that North Korea could have the world’s largest deposit of rare earth elements.
North Korea calls for probe into ‘terror attack’ on embassy in Spain | TheHill
North Korea called on Spanish authorities to investigate a Feb.
Raid on North Korea’s Madrid Embassy a ‘Grave Terrorist Attack,’ Pyongyang Says – WSJ
North Korea called a February intrusion of its Spanish embassy an “act of extortion,” marking Pyongyang’s first public remarks about a puzzling raid by secretive dissidents hoping to topple the regime of Kim Jong Un.
South Korea Detained Domestic Ship Over Suspected North Korean Sanctions Violation – WSJ
South Korean officials has detained a domestic cargo ship for months due to suspicion that the vessel had helped supply illicit oil to North Korea, in a sanctions breach that casts doubts over Seoul’s enforcement.


Woman accused of murdering Kim Jong Un’s half-brother offered plea deal – CNN
A Vietnamese woman accused of using a deadly nerve agent to assassinate the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accepted a lesser charge of “causing hurt by a dangerous weapon.”
Kim Jong-nam murder: Vietnamese woman pleads guilty to lesser charge – BBC News
Doan Thi Huong pleads guilty to a lesser charge of causing injury, and could be freed as soon as May.
Malaysia prosecutors offer lower charge for lone Kim suspect | Fox News
Malaysian prosecutors have offered to reduce a murder charge against the Vietnamese woman who is the only suspect in custody for the killing of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader.
Second woman arrested in Kim Jong Nam’s murder to be freed – CNN Video
The second woman charged in the death of Kim Jong Nam, half brother to North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, is due to be freed. This comes a month after a Malaysia court cleared her suspected accomplice in the 2017 nerve agent attack in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. CNN’s Brian Todd reports.
Vietnamese Woman Sentenced in Kim Jong-nam Assassination – The New York Times
The woman, Doan Thi Huong, 30, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing bodily harm, in a killing that many officials believe was set up by North Korean agents.


China’s Xi says West has long-term economic, military superiority | Reuters
Developed Western nations have long-term economic, technological and military advantages over China and the Communist Party has to realize that some people will use the West’s strong points to criticize socialism’s failings, President Xi Jinping said.
China’s Xi says West has long-term economic, military superiority – Business Insider
Western nations have long-term advantages, and some people will use the West’s strong points to criticize socialism’s failings, Xi said.
Chinese aircraft carrier ambitions may lead to Gunboat Diplomacy…and has started a carrier race | DefenceReport
30 November 2018 – Vancouver, CA by Stewart Webb It has been revealed that China has begun construction on its third aircraft carrier. It may be China’s third
China’s ‘Buy In’ Strategy for Maritime Operations in the Pacific | RealClearDefense
China’s ‘Buy In’ Strategy for Maritime Operations in the Pacific | RealClearDefense
Chinese tank-landing ship with electromagnetic railgun passes sea trials – Defence Blog
The People’s Liberation Army Navy has begun rough sea trials of its warship-mounted electromagnetic railgun installed on a Type 072II Yuting-class tank-landing ship, called the Haiyangshan. The Haiyangshan is a tank-landing ship converted for a new futuristic electromagnetic railgun that is expected to enter China’s arsenal by 2025. New videos taken and posted in Chinese social media shows the Haiyangshan with a railgun during continues sea trials. The test vessel with electromagnetic railgun mounted on its bow was spotted on the Yangtze River. Popular Mechanics said that: “Unlike conventional guns that use chemical energy (gunpowder) to force a projectile out of a barrel and towards a target, railguns rely on electromagnetism. These weapons use electricity to generate very strong electromagnetic fields between two rails. A conductive metal device, called an armature, picks up a projectile and accelerates down the path between the rails, sending the projectile whizzing downrange.” The new Chinese electromagnetic railgun is an ambitious project of creating cost-effective weapons that offer the might of a cannon with the range of a precision-guided missile for its newest warships. Some source reported that the new weapon system capable of striking a target 124 miles away at speeds of up to 1.6 miles per second. Sources familiar with the matter say the People’s Liberation Army Navy is expected to complete at-sea testing by 2023.
China’s giant leap threatens US humiliation in space race 2 | Comment | The Times
The space race is on again. The finishing line, once more, is the moon. But this time American space scientists are racing not against Soviet rivals but against Chinese ones, in a sprint to the stars with enormous implications for life on this planet: technological, military, economic, and above all


Former top US generals issue ‘grave’ warning to ban Chinese tech – CNN
Six retired US military leaders have issued a statement calling on America’s allies to ban Chinese technology giants from outfitting their 5G networks, citing “grave concerns” over security.
US prosecutors used FISA warrant to gather info on Huawei | TheHill
Federal prosecutors investigating Chinese tech giant Huawei engaged in covert surveillance of the controversial company that they say they plan to use as evidence in upcoming criminal proceedings.
By spying on Huawei, U.S. found evidence against the Chinese firm – Reuters
U.S. authorities gathered information about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd through secret surveillance that they plan to use in a case accusing the Chinese telecom equipment maker of sanctions-busting and bank fraud, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Elite U.S. school MIT cuts ties with Chinese tech firms Huawei, ZTE – Reuters
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has severed ties with Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp as U.S. authorities investigate the Chinese firms for alleged sanctions violations, the school said on Wednesday.
U.S. Trade Negotiators Take Aim at China’s Cybersecurity Law – WSJ
U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators haggled over how to get Beijing to walk back China’s tough cybersecurity law as both sides push to settle a yearlong tariff fight.
US welcomes China’s expanded clampdown on narcotic drug fentanyl
Washington welcomed China’s move on Monday to expand the range of fentanyl-related substances it defines as controlled narcotics, after criticism from President Donald Trump for allowing the synthetic opioid to be shipped to the United States.
China’s Global Construction Boom Puts Spotlight On Questionable Labor Practices : NPR
Chinese companies are recruiting workers from home and subjecting them to harsh treatment abroad. In one case, laborers brought to the U.S. were forced to work 14-hour days without pay.
CSIS on Twitter: “China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has yet to materialize on the ground as promised, and appears to be less coordinated than Beijing hopes and some critics fear. Read the @ReconAsia analysis from September: https://t.co/aKxrOuzE7e… https://t.co/POZJxzZElH”
After China’s deadly chemical blast, questions mount over safety and corruption – The Washington Post
A blast in Xiangshui County that killed 78 people last month reflects concerns over corruption and safety during the country’s headlong rush for development.
Seven killed in China plant explosion; second deadly blast this month | Reuters
A plant explosion in China’s Jiangsu province killed seven people on Sunday, authorities said, the second deadly blast in the province this month as Beijing begins a nationwide industrial safety inspection campaign.


China Is Burning Books Again – Foreign Policy
Censors are on the lookout for political mistakes—even in print runs for foreigners.
Chinese kindergarten teacher detained after allegedly poisoning 23 children – CNN
A kindergarten teacher in China’s Henan province has been detained after she allegedly poisoned 23 children by putting nitrite into their food.


60 years after exile, Tibetans face a fight for survival in a post-Dalai Lama world – CNN
The Dalai Lama describes it as “freedom in exile,” but it’s a “freedom” which has lasted longer than he likely ever dreamed about.
India anti-satellite weapon: Debris from test could threaten International Space Station, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine warns – CBS News
&quot;A terrible, terrible thing&quot;: NASA administrator criticizes India for test of an anti-satellite weapon that sent a cloud of debris hurtling through space
‘A terrible, terrible thing’: NASA said India’s satellite destruction created so much space junk it now threatens the safety of the International Space Station | Business Insider
NASA is calling India’s destruction of a satellite last week a “terrible, terrible thing” and says the space debris created by the explosion should be considered a threat to the International Space Station and the astronauts on board.
HAL kaisa hai? Bad, but because of inefficiency, not Modi
There has to be a reason for the government and the Indian Air Force’s impatience with the HAL. The real problem for the HAL has been its declining efficiency and repeated failure to meet deadlines.
U.S. count shows no Pakistan F-16s shot down in Indian battle: report – Reuters
Pakistan’s F-16 combat jets have all been accounted for, U.S.-based Foreign Policy magazine said, citing U.S. officials, contradicting an Indian air force assessment that it had shot down one of the jets in February.


Japan and Taiwan both scramble jets to confront China over weekend – CNN
Taiwan has accused China of “reckless and provocative” action, after two Chinese air force jets crossed a maritime border separating the island from the mainland.
‘Reiwa’: Japan announces dawn of a new era – CNN
The reign of the next Japanese emperor will be known as the “Reiwa” era, the Japanese government announced Monday, ahead of the coronation of Crown Prince Naruhito next month.
The Kurile Islands: Stolen Territory Or Spoils Of War?
Russia and Japan have been at loggerheads over the Kurile Islands for more than seven decades. Here’s what you need to know about territory that’s been hotly disputed since the end of World War II.


The United States must help Taiwan resist Chinese dominance – The Washington Post
Time is running out to save Taiwan’s democracy.
Chinese J-11 fighter jets crossed Taiwan Strait line – Defence Blog
On March 31, two People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) J-11 fighter jets crossed the middle line on the Taiwan Straits on Mar. 31, forcing Taiwan to scramble its own fighters. The Defence Ministry said Taiwan scrambled its own aircraft on Sunday morning and broadcast warnings after two J-11 fighter jets crossed over the “median line” within the waters that separate the island from the mainland. “At 11 am, March 31, 2 PLAAF J-11 jets violated the long-held tacit agreement by crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter. “It was an intentional, reckless and provocative action. We’ve informed regional partners and condemn China for such behavior,” the ministry added. According to local Taiwan media, the Sunday incident triggered a 10-minute standoff between jets from the two sides. China and Taiwan have been separately governed since the end of a brutal civil war in 1949. Beijing views the self-governed island as part of its territory.
Taiwan threatens to ‘forcefully expel’ Chinese fighters that get too close after rare incident this weekend | Business Insider
Taiwan has threatened to forcefully drive away Chinese military aircraft that fly too close to the island after an incursion by Chinese fighters this weekend.
China warns US on F-16 sales to Taiwan, calling them “extremely dangerous” — Quartz
China issued stern warnings, following the Trump administration giving tacit approval to sell fighter jets to Taiwan for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Why Trump’s Sale of Fighter Jets Designed in 1970s Spooks China – Bloomberg
The U.S. may finally sell Taiwan the warplanes it has sought for more than a decade to defend against China. Their arrival would deal more of a political shock than a military blow to Beijing.
Raytheon awarded $9M for support for Taiwan’s Patriot missile system – Defence Blog
The manufacturer of the Patriot missile system, Raytheon has won a contract valued at as much as $9 million for support for air defense missile system of the Republic of China Armed Forces, commonly known as the Taiwanese Armed Forces. According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense, Raytheon Southeast Asia Systems Co., was awarded a $9 million firm-fixed-price Foreign Military Sales contract for support for Taiwan’s Patriot mobile missile defense interceptor. Work will be performed in Taipei, Taiwan, with an estimated completion date of April 3, 2024. The Patriot missile system is a ground-based air defense missile system designed to detect, track and engage unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, and short-range and tactical ballistic missiles. Since January of 2015, Patriot has intercepted more than 100 ballistic missiles in combat operations around the world; more than 90 of those intercepts involved the low-cost Raytheon-made Guidance Enhanced Missile family of surface-to-air missiles. Raytheon has built more than 220 Patriot fire units and delivered them to customers in 16 nations. Many of those countries have chosen to take advantage of Patriot’s flexible architecture and upgrade their systems. That translates into global interoperability. Countries with Patriot can – and do – train together. And if need be, they can operate together in combat.


Facebook removes online network in Philippines over ‘inauthentic behavior’ | Reuters
Facebook Inc has removed a social media network in the Philippines for “coordinated inauthentic behavior”, and took the unusual step of linking it to a businessman who said he had managed the president’s online election campaign in 2016.
Duterte threatens “suicide mission” if Beijing oversteps in South China Sea – CNN
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to send his troops on a “suicide mission” if Beijing doesn’t “lay off” a Manila-occupied island in the South China Sea.
Back off from Thitu island: President Duterte tells China | Philippines News | Al Jazeera
Philippine president warns of possible military action if Beijing ‘touches’ Thitu island in South China Sea.

Foreign Policy Reports

 


 

EU’s Tusk Wants to Offer Britain Another Year to Sort out Brexit
Britain was originally due to leave the bloc by March 29
The Brexit dream might be fading – CNN
A lot happened in Brexit world on Wednesday.
European Council Donald Tusk seeks flexible Brexit extension: Report
A flurry of Brexit activity early Friday morning saw both the EU and the U.K. move to lengthen the current timetable for negotiations, reducing the prospect of Britain exiting the bloc without a deal.
Brexit: Angela Merkel says Germany ‘will stand’ with Ireland – BBC News
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was speaking after talks with Irish PM Leo Varadkar in Dublin.
UK votes to delay Brexit again — but the EU could refuse
U.K. lawmakers voted by a majority of just one to force Prime Minister Theresa May to seek an extension to the Brexit process and avoid a no-deal departure. The EU could just say ‘no’ to a delay, however.
Brexit: MPs back delay bill by one vote – BBC News
It comes as talks between Conservative and Labour teams to end the Brexit deadlock continue.
‘We’re in the Last Hour’: Democracy Itself Is on Trial in Brexit, Britons Say – The New York Times
Britons on both sides of the issue are angry and embarrassed at the spectacle in Parliament, and they are losing faith in their political system.
UK’s May risks ‘total collapse’ of government in Brexit impasse: Sunday Times | Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May risks the “total collapse” of her government if she fails to get her battered Brexit deal through parliament, the Sunday Times newspaper said, amid growing speculation that she might call an early election.
Opinion | A Third Strike, but Britain Is Not Quite Out – The New York Times
Though Theresa May has lost a third gamble on a Brexit vote, there’s still hope a solution can be found.
A Brexit war is looming in Theresa May’s Conservative party – CNN
Theresa May has finally made a decision. And it’s not one her hard-Brexit allies will like.
Brexit vote tied in Commons – BBC News
Vote in the Commons defeated by one vote, after the Speaker cast a deciding ballot.
UK Parliament has dealt May’s Brexit plan a fatal blow – CNN
UK lawmakers rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time on Friday, likely killing it off for good and plunging the country further into political uncertainty.
The Brexit mess is a national embarrassment – CNN
March 29 was supposed to be the day that the UK left the European Union. Instead, lawmakers in the House of Commons decided to vote down Theresa May’s deal for the third and probably final time.
Brexit talks: PM clutches at straws as deadline evaporates | News | The Times
Theresa May’s two-year strategy to deliver Brexit was always reliant on a single factor that is today now beyond her control: the threat of a deadline.Last night, by the narrowest of margins, MPs voted through a bill that would give the Commons the power to veto or amend any Article 50 extension req
Brexit vote today: British lawmakers reject 4 alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal today – CBS News
Theresa May has summoned her Cabinet for a marathon meeting Tuesday to thrash out the options after Monday’s vote
Brexit votes: MPs fail to back proposals again – BBC News
Theresa May will hold a crunch cabinet meeting on Tuesday to work out what to do next.
Theresa May hints at election as Brexit votes go before Parliament: Live updates – CNN
UK lawmakers are voting on a series of Brexit alternatives to find a way out of Britain’s political crisis. Follow the latest developments.
One of Brexit’s Rare Winners: Big British Law Firms – The New York Times
Britain’s complicated exit from the European Union has rattled corporations around the world. And that means lawyers are pulling in clients and profit.
Joy that turned to anger over big Brexit betrayal, EXPRESS COMMENT | Express Comment | Comment | Express.co.uk
MANY thousands of people filled Parliament Square this week. They wanted to be there to celebrate Britain’s freedom from the EU but instead they had to express their anger at the failure of this country’s political class to enact their wishes.
Britain’s big Brexit SH*TSHOW! German minister pulls no punches telling UK what Europe thi | Politics | News | Express.co.uk
GERMANY’S deputy foreign minister has called Brexit a “big sh*t-show”, saying “90 percent” of British cabinet members have “no idea how workers think, live, work, and behave.”
Brexit Latest: U.K. Elite Slammed by Germany – Bloomberg
European exasperation over the chaos in Brexit talks descended into profanity and name-calling, as Germany’s deputy foreign minister said the U.K. government consists mostly of clueless boarding-school graduates.
Pound euro exchange rate: Brexit uncertainty causes GBP to drop as MPs set for deal vote | Travel News | Travel | Express.co.uk
THE POUND to euro exchange rate has slipped again on the day Brexit was originally intended to take place. The rate passed through €1.170 territory at the start of the week but Brexit knocks have seen GBP tumble.
Leave vs. Remain caricatures have only added to Brexit’s messiness – The Washington Post
The process of leaving the E.U. has been so fraught because so many different people wanted to divorce Europe for so many different reasons.


Gangsters with links to the 7/7 London bombings stole £8billion from British taxpayers | Daily Mail Online
Al Qaeda-linked gangsters stole billions via VAT fraud, benefit fraud, credit card and mortgage fraud over 20 years including £8bn directly from UK taxpayers, and sent £80m to terrorists, files show.


‘Harry Potter’ Books Burned at Catholic Parish in Poland
In the pictures, flames are consuming an African wooden mask, a small Buddhist figure, figurines of elephants and books on personality and magic, as well as those by J.K. Rowling.
‘Borat’-inspired tourists wearing mankinis face arrest in Poland | Fox News
Four English-speaking tourists are in hot water for wearing “Borat”-inspired mankinis in the historic Polish city of Krakow last week.
Potential mankini fines, jail time don’t suit Poland tourists well – New York Daily News
Four English-speaking male tourists were spotted in Krakow wearing green mankinis. If convicted they face jail and hefty fines.
Nationalist Protesters Take Over New York Square as Polish Anti-Semitic Debate Spreads to U.S.
Some protesters carried anti-Semitic placards touting Holocaust denial conspiracy theories.
This Is Why You Should Think Twice Before Burning A Flag
A traditional form of protest in some countries, a grave insult in others. Here’s what you should know before you desecrate a flag.


German police release 11 men after attack plot suspicions prove unfounded | World news | The Guardian
Prosecutors said suspects arrested for allegedly plotting ‘state-endangering crime’
Neo-fascist violence keeps Roma out of Rome neighbourhood | World news | The Guardian
City council appears to capitulate after protesters set cars on fire and destroy food
Violent protest in Italy after Roma families moved – BBC News
Demonstrators set fire to a car after officials said 70 Roma people would be moved to a nearby centre.


Zuzana Caputova Is Elected Slovakia’s First Female President – The New York Times
Riding a wave of popular discontent over widespread corruption, she vowed to return a sense of decency to the country’s often toxic political climate.
Slovak Liberal Set For Presidency With ‘Stand Against Evil’
The final round of Slovakia’s presidential elections take place on March 30, with environmental lawyer Zuzana Caputova expected to defeat Maros Sefcovic, who is backed by the country’s ruling party. She’s campaigned against corruption, toxic waste, and spoken up for the country’s Roma population.
Enivronmental activist elected as Slovakia’s first female president – CBS News
Zuzana Caputova cited journalist Jan Kuciak​’s death as one of the reasons she decided to run for president, which is a largely ceremonial role
Slovakia: Zuzana Caputova front runner in presidential election – BBC News
If elected, political newcomer Zuzana Caputova will be Slovakia’s first female president.
Slovakia set to elect anti-graft lawyer as first female president | Reuters
Riding a wave of public fury over corruption, liberal lawyer Zuzana Caputova looks set to win Slovakia’s presidential election on Saturday, bucking a trend that has seen the rise of populist, anti-European Union politicians across the continent.
Slovaks Elect Newcomer Caputova as President
A liberal environmental activist is the first female president of a country weary of corruption
Zuzana Caputova Elected First Female President Of Slovakia : NPR
Slovakia elected anti-corruption campaigner Zuzana Caputova Saturday evening. The environmental activist turned politician has been hailed as the “Erin Brockovich of Slovakia.”


The Balkan Geopolitical Frontline: NATO in the Region and Increasing Tensions with Russia | DefenceReport
8 February 2019 – London, UK by Chris Murray In recent weeks NATO has made two key moves that signal its intentions to expand its presence in the Balkans. The
‘Golden Century’: Towering At The Heart Of Bulgaria’s Real-Estate Scandal
It was meant to be one of Bulgaria’s tallest buildings, but the Sofia construction project could become an unfinished monument to a real-estate scandal involving the ruling GERB party.
Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and North Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev end a conflict with a selfie – The Washington Post
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is the first Greek leader to visit North Macedonia since it declared independence in 1991.
Leaders of Greece, North Macedonia snap historic selfie | Fox News
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has arrived in North Macedonia on the first official visit by a Greek leader following decades of strained relations between the two Balkan nations.


Ecuador president: Julian Assange violated asylum agreement
Ecuador President Lenin Moreno said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has repeatedly violated his asylum conditions at the country’s embassy in London.
Julian Assange has ‘repeatedly violated’ asylum terms, Ecuador’s president says | World news | The Guardian
Lenín Moreno said ‘photos of my bedroom’ and his family were circulated online but did not directly accuse the WikiLeaks founder
WikiLeaks founder Assange ‘to be expelled’ from Ecuador embassy | Ecuador News | Al Jazeera
A WikiLeaks Tweet quotes a high-level source saying Assange will be kicked out of the embassy he has been in since 2012.
Julian Assange news: WikiLeaks say Australian to be EXPELLED from London Ecuador embassy | World | News | Express.co.uk
JULIAN ASSANGE, the fugitive computer programmer, is set to be expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London “within hours”, a “high-level” source claims.


Christchurch attacks: NZ suspect ordered to undergo mental health tests – BBC News
Members of Christchurch’s Muslim community were at the hearing of the man accused of murdering 50 people.
New Zealand Shooting Suspect to Be Charged With 50 Counts of Murder – The New York Times
The suspect in the Christchurch mosque killings, a 28-year-old Australian, will also face 39 counts of attempted murder, the police said.
Fraser Anning: Australian MP censured for ‘appalling’ Christchurch remarks – BBC News
Australia’s Fraser Anning caused outrage by blaming the Christchurch attacks on Muslim migration.


Curiously Fake Russian News About Venezuela – To Inform is to Influence
My favorite Russian propagandist, Igor Panarin, pushed a link today, https://cont.ws/@klopik/1283282.  Curiously, I clicked on the link.  The article at the bottom popped up.  What really got my attention was the appearance of a Marine in an article entitled “In Venezuela, appeared “unknown snipers””.  I did a simple Google image search and found it originally…
NATO Members Discuss Russian Military Staff Visit to Venezuela – Pompeo – Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – NATO ministers have discussed during their meeting in Washington the Venezuelan crisis and the visit of Russian military personnel to the Latin American country, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press conference on Thursday.
Russia’s been in Venezuela less than two weeks and already it’s threatening to attack Colombia
Russia’s been in Venezuela less than two weeks and already it’s threatening to attack Colombia
UAWire – Kremlin decides to classify Maduro’s debt
The Russian Finance Ministry has decided not to disclose any more information about the Nicolas Maduro regime’s debt repayments to Russia, announced Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak at a Moscow Stock Exchange forum on Wednesday. In March, Venezuela was supposed to pay Russia a $100 million installment on its $3 billion intergovernmental loan. But Moscow will not say whether it received the money or not, since the government loans program is now classified, Storchak noted. “Everything connected to the relations between the sovereign debtor and the sovereign creditor is not public information, because it concerns two sovereigns, and in order to provide information about the relations, at the very least, the sovereign’s consent must be requested. In such an agreement there is a confidentiality clause,” he explained. “We will not comment publicly on the two sovereigns’ relations in connection with borrowing, repayment, servicing or restructuring [of debt],” RBC cites the deputy minister as saying. Russia’s stance on the matter has changed drastically since the US tightened its sanctions on the Venezuelan state oil company and recognized National Assembly Chairperson Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela. In the middle of January, Storchak said that Venezuela’s debt had been restructured. According to Russia’s Accounts Chamber, the defaults began in 2017, when Caracas fell behind in its repayments by roughly $1 billion. At the time when the PDVSA announced its default on foreign debt, Maduro visited Moscow, where he was able to negotiate a 10-year extension of the loans. In November 2018, Maduro visited the Kremlin again, and after meeting with President Vladimir Putin, announced that Russia was prepared to invest another $6 billion in oil extraction and gold mining projects in Venezuela. At the end of January, Storchak said that Moscow is prepared for the fact that a deterioration of the situation in Venezuela could lead to problems with debt repayments. “Everything now depends on the [Venezuelan] army, on the soldiers, how faithful they will be to their duty and oaths. It’s hard, even impossible, to give any other appraisal,” he lamented.
Venezuela crisis: Juan Guaido STRIPPED of immunity – what does this mean for Venezuela? | World | News | Express.co.uk
JUAN Guaido has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity for flouting a travel ban. But what does this mean for Venezuela?
Some US Venezuelans flock to GOP amid anger at Dems for lack of action against Maduro | Fox News
As the country’s problems worsen, Democratic Venezuelan-Americans question whether their party’s actions go far enough. A growing number of exiles say they feel forgotten by a new generation of outspoken, progressive Democrats, leaving them less beholden to a party they had long supported.
Venezuelans struggle to find water in the aftermath of blackouts | Juan Guaido News | Al Jazeera
Lack of water is one of the worst side effects of power outages that have gone on for weeks.
Venezuelan water shortage deepens humanitarian crisis – The Washington Post
Amid a political stalemate, 20 million people in this oil-rich country have lost access to water in the past two weeks.
Venezuela’s health system in ‘utter collapse’ as infectious diseases spread, report says – The Washington Post
Health-care professionals, refugees and aid groups describe the deteriorating conditions.
Venezuela crisis: UN urged to declare humanitarian emergency as health system collapses
The United Nations is being urged to declare a full-scale humanitarian emergency in Venezuela in the light of the &ldquo;utter collapse&rdquo; of its health system and widespread food shortages.
Trump Prepares Aid Package for Venezuela in Case Maduro Government Falls – The New York Times
The legislation would provide $200 million in aid for Venezuela and $200 million for neighboring countries taking in Venezuelan refugees.
Venezuela bill: Senators introduce legislation to send $400 million in aid, strengthen sanctions – CBS News
Nicolás Maduro’s government has recently escalated its efforts to fend off the leadership challenge by the U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó
Gabbard: CNN’s Zakaria ‘trying to goad Trump into going to war’ with Russia | TheHill
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential candidate, is accusing CNN’s Fareed Zakaria of trying to “goad” President Trump “into going to war” with Russia.
How Juan Guaidó Venezuela’s ‘Interim President’ Blew His Chance to Oust Maduro
Guaidó was expected to bring a miracle, but he put too much faith in Maduro’s bad judgment and in outside powers. Now it will take a miracle to regain the initiative.

 


 

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These Simulations Reveal What Happened During India’s Anti-Satellite Missile Test (Videos) | Space
Two new videos showcase how the anti-satellite weapon recently launched by India might have looked from space as it struck a satellite, shattering it into numerous pieces.
ULA head: Anti-satellite weapons require America keep its focus in space
Tory Bruno, CEO of the United Launch Alliance, believes growing anti-satellite capabilities from China and Russia is a sign the Air Force has to keep pushing forward with modernization in space.
The Newest AI-Enabled Weapon: ‘Deep-Faking’ Photos of the Earth – Defense One
Step 1: Use AI to make undetectable changes to outdoor photos. Step 2: release them into the open-source world and enjoy the chaos.
DARPA Wants AI to Learn Language as Human Babies Do – Defense One
The Pentagon’s research wing is funding efforts to build AI language systems that learn more like people and less like machines.
Solving One of the Hardest Problems of Military AI: Trust – Defense One
There are many gaps, and most won’t be solved by code but by conversation.
To fight drone swarms, the Corps wants a battle drone that can kill other drones
The Corps says it is looking at drones that can kill other drones to bolster the Corps’ air defense capabilities.
DARPA claims drone autonomy program an undeniable success
Autonomous swarms are the key to operating in denied environments
The Army targets systems to ‘see’ 1,000 miles
The Army wants to shoot missiles thousands of miles. Here’s how it’s undertaking efforts to support long-range precision, including establishing an ISR task force.
The Navy Is Assembling a Hacker Team to Fight Off Small Drones – Defense One
Engineers, researchers, and hackers will seek ways to protect warships and bases from hobby-type drones modified to kill.
It’s Time To Make Data Strategic For Our Navy – Defense One
The U.S. Navy’s future lethality depends on a new digital culture.
Young Officers Are Hungry to Learn Strategy. Will the U.S. Military Listen to Them?
Recently, young officers have begun mastering strategy outside the strict confines of the U.S. military&amp;rsquo;s formal educational system, sparking the emergence of a small, informal community of next-generation strategists. Their efforts bode well for the future of the U.S. military, if the services capitalize on their talent.
This isn’t your dad’s denial and deception
In a multidomain environment, electronic decoys could be critical to units’ survivability.
The Developing Fight for Tactical Air Control
A new echelon in the contest for air control has emerged from the maturation and proliferation of affordable small unmanned aerial systems. In 2017, the
More than Planes and Pickle Buttons: Updating the Air Force’s Core Missions for the 21st Century
Every marine a rifleman, every airman a red-headed stepchild — that is, except for the few, the proud, the fighter pilots? Today’s Air Force, as Mike
#Reviewing A New Conception of War | The Strategy Bridge
Marine Major Ian Brown, who like all Marine officers of the past three decades heard stories of John Boyd and the reforms he sparked while at The Basic School, undoubtedly from instructors with little more than a cursory familiarity with the subject matter. Boyd’s contributions piqued Brown’s interest and encouraged him to dig deeper into the story.
Pentagon’s Focus On China and Russia Expected to Alter US Arms Sales – Defense One
A new report shows a decline in Middle Eastern nations’ share of overall exports.


99 House lawmakers push for more F-35s
F-35 boosters in Congress want 24 more than the president requested.
Asia allies take major steps forward with F-35 rollout
The milestones are also notable for the U.S., expanding operations of the jet in the Indo-Pacific region.
Here’s how F-35 technology would be compromised if Turkey also had the S-400 anti-aircraft system
The U.S. Air Force was able to bomb Libya with impunity after knocking out its relic of an Integrated Air Defense System, but what if the country had actually maintained a competent IADS network?
Pentagon Eyes F-35 Sales to Greece, Romania and Poland 
News of new customers coincides with US tension with F-35 development partner Turkey over Ankara’s plans to buy Russian missile defense system
Pentagon eyes F-35 sales to Greece, Romania and Poland: U.S. official – Business Insider
Washington is considering expanding F-35 sales to five new countries including Romania, Greece, and Poland, a Pentagon official said Thursday.
Singapore’s careful F-35 fighter aircraft purchase | The Interpreter
With these flying advanced sensor arrays, the aim could be to protect Singapore as Switzerland of Southeast Asia.
F-35: What The Pilots Say | Military Aviation | Air & Space Magazine
Firsthand accounts of flying the world’s most advanced fighter.
Video: Podcast: Behind The F-35’s New Aerial Tricks | Defense content from Aviation Week
Defense Editor Steve Trimble talks with U.S. Air Force F-35 Demo Pilot Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson about the new display’s public debut on March 30 in Melbourne, Florida. Since first flight of the original F-35 test aircraft more than 12 years ago, the U.S. military has given the public only one glimpse of the aircraft’s hotly contested dogfighting chops — and that was nearly two years ago at the Paris Air Show. That’s changing this year. Defense Editor Steve Trimble talks with U.S. Air Force F-35 Demo Pilot Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson about the new display’s public debut on March 30 in Melbourne, Florida. Don’t miss a single episode. Subscribe to Aviation Week’s Check 6 podcast in iTunes.
Air War Like No Other: F-22 Raptor vs. Russia and China’s Best Stealth Fighters (Who Wins?) | The National Interest
We have some answers.
F-105 Thunderchief | Behind the Wings – YouTube
 
Revealed: Israel’s Top Secret F-35F JSMF – The Aviationist
Israel has unveiled their previously classified F-35F Nebekh Joint Social Media Fighter (JSMF). The new rear seat position in the two-seat F-35F Nebekh is occupied by the SMO or Social Media Officer. The modification is in response to threats to the F-35 in the social media space. Gen Hadir Uffani of the IDF told reporters, “The F-35’s primary threats exist in the social media space, so we have made a special variant of the Joint Strike Fighter to counter this threat in real-time.” The SMO suite consists of integrated sensor fusion that monitors Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for flamers leveling criticism against the Joint Strike Fighter program. When critical social media posts from internet know-it-alls and trolls are detected, the system can respond in real-time by assigning a massive arsenal of cat memes to interdict the threat. The cat memes are stored in a special, low-observable internal hard drive in the aircraft’s stealthy weapons’ bay.


Military eyes prototype megawatt-class laser weapon for ballistic missile defense in next seven years
FORT BELVOIR, Va. – U.S. missile-defense researchers will brief industry later this month on a project to build a prototype megawatt-class laser weapon within the next seven years that can destroy incoming ballistic missiles, potentially in all phases of flight. The Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Laser Scaling project of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) will develop a prototype laser weapon system that will weigh no more than about four tons, including the laser, electric power, and thermal management subsystems. The project’s focus is on reducing size and weight, and increasing power, electrical-to-optical efficiency, beam quality, and lasing runtime.
Lockheed and Israeli company teaming up for US Army missile defense radar sense-off
Lockheed poised to partner with Israel’s Elta Systems to compete in the Lower-Tier Air-and-Missile Defense System (LTAMDS) radar ‘sense-off’ demonstration this spring.
China discloses new directed-energy weapon development – Defence Blog
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has made an unusual move to disclose the development of a new directed-energy weapon system. The state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) released footage showing a new directed-energy weapon system, known as a Chinese laser gun. Details of the new development were not disclosed, although local source reported that system designed to instantly obliterate targets near a coastal line, included small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Chinese laser gun could be used against low-end asymmetric threats and will be used in the People’s Liberation Army Navy. It is expected that the new system could have scalable power levels to be able to fire a non-lethal beam to dazzle a suspect vessel, and fire stronger beams to physically destroy a target. Additionally, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has begun rough sea trials of its warship-mounted electromagnetic railgun installed on a Type 072II Yuting-class tank-landing ship, called the Haiyangshan. The Haiyangshan is a tank-landing ship converted for a new futuristic electromagnetic railgun that is expected to enter China’s arsenal by 2025.
Air Force again halts KC-46 deliveries after more debris found
Similar debris problems halted Pegasus deliveries for more than two weeks about a month ago.
Turkey released first videos of its powerful electromagnetic railgun – Defence Blog
Turkish defense industry released on Saturday video showing the test of newest electromagnetic railgun called Şahi 209 Block II. According to media reports, new Turkish powerful railgun use electromagnetic energy instead of gunpowder to propel 35mm rounds and is capable of striking a target 31 miles. Şahi 209 Block II has 10 megajoules pulsed DC power supply. Also reported that the Turkish Defense Ministry has successfully tested an upgraded version of the ŞAHİ-209 electromagnetic railgun, which is ten times more powerful than previous Block 1 version. The new electromagnetic railgun was developed by Yeteknoloji AŞ company. A railgun is a device that uses electromagnetic force to launch high velocity projectiles, by means of a sliding armature that is accelerated along a pair of conductive rails. A railgun consists of two parallel metal rails (hence the name). At one end, these rails are connected to an electrical power supply, to form the breech end of the gun. Then, if a conductive projectile is inserted between the rails (e.g. by insertion into the breech), it completes the circuit. Electrons flow from the negative terminal of the power supply up the negative rail, across the projectile, and down the positive rail, back to the power supply. The electromagnetic launch system is able to develop four countries around the world. Turkey is one of them.
US Army plans to field a future long-range assault helicopter by 2030
The Army has released an RFI to procure a new long-range assault helicopter to replace UH-60 Black Hawks.
Don’t Panic About Apaches: Army Not Junking Gunships « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary
Will the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft “replace” some AH-64 Apache gunships? Sort of, technically — but that’s a misleading slice of a bigger story.
U.S. Army to get rid of all its UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters by 2024 – Defence Blog
Army lieutenant generals told the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee on 2 April that the U.S. Army will divest its remaining UH-60A or Alpha-model aircraft by 2024. In response to a question by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, principal military deputy to the Army assistant secretary and director of the Army Acquisitions Corps , said that U.S. Army plans to get rid of all its UH-60 A-model Black Hawks from the National Guard by fiscal year 2022 and the active duty force by 2024. During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski also added that by 2024, all the Alpha-model aircraft will be out of the active-duty forces as well. The first UH-60A was accepted by the Army in 1978, and entered service in 1979 when it was delivered to aviation components of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. The Alpha-model of Black Hawk has been the Army’s front line utility helicopter for the past 40 years. Since that time, the Black Hawk has accumulated more than 9 million total fleet hours and has supported Soldiers in every major contingency operation the Army has executed, including Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East. Today, the UH-60 Black Hawk makes up the Army’s largest rotary wing fleet with more than 2,100 airframes in the current inventory. As production of the most current H-60M model continues, over the coming years the Army will divest its remaining UH-60A and L aircraft, to be replaced by 760 UH-60Vs. “Going forward, the intent is also to convert all of the Lima aircraft to Victor models as well,” Ostrowski said. “Between Mikes and Victors, in the 2030s we will have transitioned both the active-duty as well as the National Guard to either Victor or Mike models within our Army.”
Albania’s Cold War Fighter Jets Sit in an Underground Bunker
The jets, awaiting sale abroad, have been parked in an air base built into a mountainside for more than a decade.
New Russian Il-112 military tactical aircraft makes maiden flight – Defence Blog
Ilyushin Aviation Complex, an aircraft engineering enterprise, announced on 30 March that it has successfully completed the maiden flight of its Il-112V light military transport aircraft. According to a news release put out by Ilyushin Aviation Complex, the first flight of new military transport plane was being performed on the eve of the 125th birth anniversary of Soviet aircraft designer Sergei Ilyushin. “An Il-112V light military transport aircraft performed its maiden flight successfully,” the Ilyushin Aviation Complex press service said. This is the first military transport plane designed in Russia from scratch during the post-Soviet era. Work to create it has been in progress since 2014. According to its specifications, the new plane will be capable of carrying of up to 5 tonnes of cargo. It is designed to transport troops, military equipment and weapons. An Ilyushin representative said: “In the long term the IL-112 aircraft will replace not only the AN-26, but will also compete with world-class transport aircraft of this class.” Light military transport aircraft Il-112V is designed for transporting and parachuting of light weaponry and equipment, cargoes and military personnel, as well as for transporting a wide variety of cargoes when operated in commercial service. It is capable of auto landing approaches to categorized aerodromes (minimum requirement being ICAO category II) and manual landing approaches to aerodromes poorly equipped with, or having no radio technical equipment.
Do Europe’s Deadly Navies Have a Fatal Flaw? | The National Interest
As in an air-defense problem?
Will Kalashnikov’s New Drone Be the AK-47 of Indirect Fire? – Defense One
The company that made assault rifles ubiquitous says its KUB can put a warhead on a miles-distant target.
U.S. Army selects APC9K as sub compact weapon – Defence Blog
The Brügger & Thomet semi-automatic carbine APC9 has been selected by the U.S. Army for arm its security soldiers. According to U.S. government business website, the Army selected B&T small arms specialists with their APC9K semi-automatic carbine or submachine gun as the winner of the Sub Compact Weapon programme. The small semi-automatic carbine is chambered in 9mm and variants of the weapon are in use with police units such as Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT teams. According to a statement released by Army Contracting Command, B&T to receive an order for manufacture 350 Sub Compact Weapons with an option for additional quantities of up to 1,000 SCWs, with slings, manuals, accessories, and spare parts.
Flying chair with 76 motors and 35kg LiPo battery (VIDEO)
NGCV: Hard Choices In Bradley Replacement, RFP Out Friday « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary
The Army will sacrifice some protection to fit two NGCVs on one Air Force C-17.
The U.S. Army Selects New Submachine Gun
The Swiss-made Brugger and Thomet APC9K is the Army’s first official subgun since World War II.


Boeing 737 MAX Changes Target Common Accident Link | Commercial Aviation content from Aviation Week
The time line for the fleet’s return to service is not clear.
MAX Saga Spotlights Flight-Deck Human Factors | Commercial Aviation content from Aviation Week
Investigators are looking closely at how the ET302 crew reacted, and why they reactivated a system that they identified as central to their problem.
How a 50-year-old design came back to haunt Boeing with its troubled 737 Max jet – Los Angeles Times
Compromises required to push forward a more fuel-efficient version of Boeing’s 737 — with larger engines and altered aerodynamics — led to the complex flight control software system that is now under investigation in two fatal crashes over the last six months.
Boeing CEO ‘sorry’ for 737 MAX Ethiopian Airlines and LionAir losses – CNN
The pilots of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 battled the plane’s automated systems for nearly the entire duration of the 6-minute flight, according to a preliminary report into the crash obtained by CNN Thursday.
Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crew ‘repeatedly’ followed recommended procedures but couldn’t regain control, investigators say – ABC News
The Ethiopian Airlines crew commanding the Boeing 737 Max 8 followed all recommended procedures but couldn’t regain control of the doomed flight, investigators said.
How excess speed, hasty commands and flawed software doomed an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX – Reuters
Minutes after take-off, the pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX were caught in a bad situation.
Boeing under pressure as Ethiopia points crash blame to 737 Max software
Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges said the “crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft.”
Ethiopian Crash Report Indicates Pilots Followed Boeing’s Emergency Procedures – The New York Times
While the findings are not final, initial evidence has raised new concerns about whether Boeing and federal regulators provided sufficient guidance for pilots of the new 737 Max model.
Ethiopian 737 pilots fought shaking controls to keep Boeing jet airborne | Daily Mail Online
Almost as soon as they took off from Addis Ababa the pilots were assailed by alarms issuing warnings and were at times heaving in unison on the controls to keep the plane airborne as it nose dived.

 


 

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports

 


 

A Way to Detect the Next Russian Misinformation Campaign – To Inform is to Influence
“A way” is the most important qualifier in this headline.  There is no “one” way to detect future influence campaigns nor to counter them. There must be multiple, almost duplicative, overlapping ways, even redundant ways to approach this new problem.   This is an interesting way, a publicly available ad ‘database’, which may be examined and…
Why you should be (very) skeptical of Amnesty International’s report – Lawfire
n a recent post, “Breaking the Silence on Civilian Casualties from U.S. Air Strikes in Somalia,” Amnesty International official Daphne Eviatar extols her organization’s new report which claims to have “documented 14 civilians killed, and eight injured, by just five U.S. strikes in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia between April 2017 and December 2018.” According to Amnesty, the “attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes.” Allow me to explain why I believe you should be very skeptical of Amnesty’s charges. Amnesty got it wrong…again Amnesty’s report predictably led to headlines like this: “Human rights group accuses AFRICOM commanders of war crimes, calls for investigation,” but U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) “closely reviewed all information available and found no information to corroborate the allegations of civilian casualties highlighted in the report.” In her post, Eviatar lists four reasons why there is “discrepancy” between her organization’s casualty assessments numbers and those of AFRICOM. All of her reasons cast aspersions in some way on the people at AFRICOM or, as she imagines, “another US government agency — the CIA.” Permit me to add a fifth reason for the discrepancy: Amnesty got it wrong…again.


Millions of Facebook user records exposed on Amazon cloud server – news world | UNIAN
More than 540 million records about Facebook users were publicly exposed on Amazon’s cloud computing service, according to a cybersecurity research firm. Facebook is under federal criminal investigation for deals it struck with electronics manufacturers to access user data, and it has been hit a series of security breaches over the past year.
Facebook data breach: Hundreds of millions of records exposed on Amazon server, according to UpGuard cybersecurity research firm – CBS News
The data included account names, passwords and reactions to posts, according to a cybersecurity research firm
Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas. – The Washington Post
We need a more active role for governments and regulators.
The internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas – Los Angeles Times
Technology is a major part of our lives, and companies such as Facebook have immense responsibilities. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.
Mark Zuckerberg asks governments to help control internet content – BBC News
Mark Zuckerberg writes an open letter calling for new laws to monitor internet content.
Facebook CEO Zuckerberg backs tighter Internet privacy and election laws
The Facebook CEO said new regulations are needed on harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
Mark Zuckerberg: OK, Fine, Regulate Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg—whose company has blundered its way into controversies over everything from user privacy and data breaches to amplification of extremist content and literal genocide as of late—responded to growing criticism of the tech sector by calling for more outside regulation in an op-ed in the Washington Post (and on his own personal Facebook page) on Saturday.
Facebook to consider live video restrictions after NZ attacks – BBC News
Sheryl Sandberg promises to explore limits on who can live-stream video, following the NZ attacks.
Facebook says it’s putting new restrictions on livestreams
Two weeks after a crazed gunman broadcast his slaughtering 50 people in New Zealand on Facebook, the social network giant says it’s putting in new restrictions on livestreaming.
Facebook data deals – YouTube
Otzma Analytics Published on Mar 19, 2019 ABC Interview, March 14, 2019, with Michael Brand, founder of Otzma Analytics (https://otzmaanalytics.com). Interviewer: Kirsten Aiken Topic: Facebook data deals and Facebook outage
Facebook could launch new section of ‘high quality’ news by end of 2019 – CNN
Facebook is developing a new section devoted to curating “high quality” and “trustworthy” news, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday. And, according to a person familiar with the conversations, executives have discussed possibly launching it by the end of 2019.
Zuckerberg starts offense on Big Tech regulations – Axios
Policy exec Kevin Martin says breaking up Facebook isn’t the answer. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to get ahead of global efforts to regulate the platform by proposing his own rules, while a top policy exec dismisses calls to break the company up. Why it matters: Zuckerberg will likely be making the rounds in Washington to talk to lawmakers about the ideas he proposed in a Saturday op-ed, top policy exec Kevin Martin told Axios in an interview. Martin said drastic regulatory actions, such as splitting Facebook apart, won’t solve issues around privacy and the spread of harmful content. What they’re saying: Martin, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy and also former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under George W. Bush, said consumers wouldn’t benefit from regulators splitting Facebook up from its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp. “I think that from a consumer benefits perspective, that consumers receive lots of benefits by the fact that the companies are owned by one company,” he said. A Facebook spokesperson said benefits of its size included the ability to devote significant resources to safety and product development, and more reach for individuals and small businesses. Martin also said breaking Facebook up wouldn’t do much to address the issues plaguing the platform: “And I think that to the extent that there are concerns about some of the specific issues, like the content issues, or our use of data, I think we should try to address those directly, but I’m not sure that proposals to break up any particular company in and of themselves are going to address any of the policy concerns around privacy or content moderation or how we should approach elections.”
Government can’t regulate Facebook – it’s up to all of us | Carys Afoko | Opinion | The Guardian
Mark Zuckerberg is right to call for government regulation. But social media users and firms also have to police the web, says Carys Afoko, director of Level Up
Facebook announces a long-overdue transparency tool for News Feed
Facebook removes dozens of Indian, Pakistani pages | India News | Al Jazeera
Total of 805 pages, accounts linked to Indian opposition party, Pakistani military removed for ‘inauthentic behaviour’.
Facebook India: pages linked to Congress party removed by social media platform – CNN
Facebook said it had removed 687 accounts linked to the Indian National Congress (INC) for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”


New livestreaming legislation fails to take into account how the internet actually works
The Commonwealth Criminal Code now has two substantive new criminal offences aimed at limiting live streaming of crime. Both target technology companies, not terrorists.
Govt expands socmed crackdown laws, including jail time, to internet, content and hosting providers – Cloud – Storage – Telco/ISP – iTnews
Broad-brush laws rammed through Australian Senate.
Australia targets tech firms with ‘abhorrent material’ laws – BBC News
The nation passes controversial laws designed to penalise companies for hosting “abhorrent” videos.
Australia Passes Law to Punish Social Media Companies for Violent Posts – The New York Times
Parliament adopted a measure that would criminalize “abhorrent violent material” shared on social media platforms, threatening huge fines for tech companies and jail for their employees.
Australia passes social media law penalising platforms for violent content | Media | The Guardian
Labor supports legislation in response to Christchurch shooting that threatens jail for executives, despite media companies’ concerns
Tech firms face fines, jail over violent content under new Australian laws | Reuters
Australia will fine social media and web hosting companies up to 10 percent of their annual global turnover and imprison executives for up to three years if violent content is not removed “expeditiously” under a new law.


Fake news: Singapore prepares law to fight ‘online falsehoods’
Singapore is close to implementing a law that could force websites to run government “correction notices” alongside content it deems false.
‘Fake news’ law raises fresh questions over Singapore’s status as tech and media hub – CNN
A new bill in Singapore would give the government sweeping powers to crack down on so-called “fake news” and hit Facebook and other social media companies with big fines if they don’t comply with censorship orders.
Singapore Fake-News Bill Orders Corrections by Social-Media Giants – WSJ
Tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter would be required under a draft law in Singapore to issue corrections of false information published on their platforms and inform users when they might have been exposed to inaccuracies.
How Alex Jones and Infowars Helped a Florida Man Torment Sandy Hook Families – The New York Times
Mr. Jones and Infowars gave Wolfgang Halbig airtime, a camera crew and help raising money to harass Sandy Hook shooting victims’ parents.
Infowars Host Alex Jones Blames “A Form of Psychosis” for Sandy Hook Truther Claims
The psychosis made him do it. Firebrand conspiracy theorist Alex Jones pointed the finger at what he described as “a form of psychosis” for spreading the theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was all staged. The Infowars host made the claim in a deposition as part of a lawsuit filed against him by the family of one of the 20 children who were killed in the shooting that left 27 people dead. The deposition was posted online by a Texas law firm that is representing some of the Sandy Hook families. Huffpost has posted a transcript of the deposition online. During the deposition, Jones, who had previously suggested the shooting was a “hoax,” acknowledged it was real but fell sort of really taking responsibility for amplifying claims that the parents of dead children were lying. “I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged,” Jones said. “So I think, as a pundit, someone giving an opinion, that, you know, my opinions have been wrong; but they were never wrong consciously to hurt people.”


UAE Used Cyber Super-Weapon To Spy On iPhones Of Foes – To Inform is to Influence
  From this article, I can make a few conclusions. NSA has tools which can access iPhones NSA is using tools which can access iPhones Others, beside NSA, have access to these tools, they appear to be shared or for sale Individuals, trained by NSA, are for hire Raven, an intelligence gathering group, may or may not be unique – NSA operatives may be for hire. A Google search indicates several iterations where iPhones were “unhackable”, then they were “hackable”, then Apple fixed the exploit, then the exploit was closed, and so on, ad infinitum. The tool discussed here, Karma, appears capable of hacking any iPhone which contains the iMessaging App, it doesn’t need to be turned on. All this leads to a few questions. Where are these tools for sale? Who may buy these tools? Nation-States? Individuals? Spy Agencies? Open Source intelligence agencies? Hackers, White, Black, or otherwise? What other exploits for iPhones are being used that are known or not known by Apple? Is there a way to secure an iPhone and still maintain usability? What are the gives and takes? Where are these groups advertised? </end editorial>
How military hacking can improve
An Australian official details an offensive cyber operation undertaken against the Islamic State.
NIST’s Ron Ross on the state of cyber: ‘We literally are hemorrhaging critical information’
And throwing money at the problem won’t help, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s fellow said during an interview at the RSA Federal Summit.
German chemicals company Bayer says it was target of cyberattack traced to China | TheHill
German chemicals company Bayer said Thursday that it was the target of a cyberattack that has been traced to a hacking group in China.

US Domestic Policy Reports

 


 

Congress to Pentagon: Um, we asked you to buy tech faster
Espionage and open markets complicate a world where cutting-edge technology is no longer an exclusive domain of the Pentagon.
Readier or Not: Fighter Force Struggling to Be 80 Percent Mission Capable | Air Force Magazine
Air Force leaders say they are on pace to achieve 80 percent mission capable rates for F-22s, F-35s, and F-16s by the end of this year through intensified maintenance and changes to basing and deployments.
US Air Force defends F-15X buy to skeptical Inhofe, Reed
U.S. Air Force officials are defending their reversal to pursue Boeing’s F-15X, a fourth-generation fighter jet, saying it will not derail plans to buy F-35 jets.
The Pentagon’s cost assessment office needs to reassess its F-15EX findings
Congress has a lot to consider as it assesses the best path forward for air superiority.
DOD Puts Forward Defense of Ethics Agreements Amid Shanahan Probe | Air Force Magazine
​The Pentagon on Friday put forward a defense of its internal ethics process, which has received scrutiny as the DOD IG has opened an investigation into Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s dealings with his former employer, Boeing.


U.S. Attorney General: Redacted Mueller Report To Be Released By Mid-April
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is to be released by mid-April, Attorney General Bill Barr said on March 29.
How the Media Got it Wrong on Trump and Russia | The National Interest
After two years, will the mainstream print and cable news have a reckoning about their practices and motives, or bury their heads in the sands of disproven conspiracies? Over the weekend, the biggest bubble in years popped—not in the stock market, but in the media. The dominant narrative of the traditional media organs and major television networks, that President Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russian government to subvert the 2016 election, was laid to rest after two years of hype, speculation, and ominous insinuations. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, provided with open-ended legal authority to investigate allegations of Russian collusion, concluded his more than 300-page report on Friday. On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary with the popular expectation that the full report will be released in the coming weeks. Quoting directly from the Mueller report, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Coordination was defined by the report as “agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference.” Mueller was unable to find evidence that the Trump campaign had even an unspoken understanding with the Russian government, and Attorney General Barr and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have said there is not sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction of justice charge. With the most anticipated investigation of the decade now concluded, some Republicans are angling to start their own counter-investigation. “What they should really be investigating is who started all this. This was a classic frame-up. It didn’t come out of thin air,” said Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and personal lawyer to the president for the better part of the Mueller probe. Steve Bannon, former Chief Strategist for the White House, came to the same conclusion with CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “What was done at the beginning of this investigation of the Trump campaign? I think it’s really got to be looked into. And I’ve said now, Anderson, for over a year and a half, I believe something like the Church Commission is gonna have to be established to look into the FBI’s behavior in this, and the CIA.” In the 1970s, the Church Committee (a precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) investigated significant and numerous civil liberties abuses by the CIA, FBI, and other parts of the national security state. Senator Lindsey Graham, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has signaled his interest in such an investigation. The word being thrown around, from the New York Times’ Peter Baker to ABC’s Terry Moran, to Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, is “reckoning.” To quote from Lake at length, he explains, “[i]t’s a reckoning for Democrats who saw almost every development in this almost-two-year investigation as another dot connecting a conspiracy Mueller has not found. It’s a reckoning for many in the media that dutifully passed along this theory without scrutiny or context. And it’s a reckoning for many national security officials who abandoned their traditional nonpartisan role as custodians of state secrets to engage in a campaign against a president they loathed.” But do the “journalists” and politicians who got the story so wrong, and the national security officials who fed them the wrong story, have to worry about the consequences? Some are trying to dodge the reckoning by isolating instances of media honesty. In the Washington Post, Erik Wemple unearthed such an exception: “On Oct. 31, 2016 — one week before the presidential election — the New York Times published an influential story under this headline: ‘Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.’” Wemple describes how “[t]he story by Lichtblau and Myers endured repeated and determined exhumations.” Liz Spayd, the last public editor at the NYT, said that the paper should have been more aggressive early on, similar to David Corn’s early reporting of the Christopher Steele dossier in Mother Jones and Franklin Foer’s Slate article about a Trump-linked server in a Russian bank. Since their publication, both of those examples have been proven false, written through bad sourcing and worse reporting. Regarding the Lichtblau and Myers article, Wemple concludes that “[p]erhaps all this digging and all this editorial oversight produced an okay piece of journalism, at least on the collusion front.” The question then becomes, if the Times was aware that the collusion story lacked provable bona fides as early as October 2016, why did it continue to enable the conspiracy for the next two and a half years?
Four Lamest Excuses for the Media’s Russia Coverage | RealClearPolitics
Not long after the ink dried on the Mueller report, the mainstream media came up with some outlandish explanations for their botched coverage of the Russia collusion hoax. After some 533,074 web…
Don Jr. blasts Russia investigation coverage: The media is ‘a blight on our republic’
Donald Trump Jr. says the media’s coverage of the Robert Mueller investigation into whether his father colluded with Russia was a “blight on our republic.”
Russian collusion devotees: Hell yeah, we still believe!
If you think Russiagate devotees are deterred by Attorney General William Barr’s announcement that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation could not establish that President Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election, you have got another thing coming.
US’ Mueller investigation is finished. Russia’s election meddling continues. – To Inform is to Influence
Though the headline focuses on Mueller’s investigation, I urge you, gentle reader, to take a wider view when contemplating Russian election interference. We know Russia interfered in the US 2016 election. We know Russia used Facebook and other ads, social media, Wikileaks, and hacking. We know Russia actively influenced multiple fringe groups to protest, to meet, and to try to influence larger groups – all in the period leading up to the election. We know the GRU and the Russian “Internet Research Agency”, now indicted, actively engaged in operations to influence the election. We know that Russia concentrated on existing social schisms and attempted to sow anger, confusion, and emo We know Russia helped influence the Brexit vote in the UK, most likely successfully. We know that Russia is currently trying to meddle in Ukraine’s Presidential election. We know Russia attempted to interfere in the French Presidential election and failed. We believe Russia held off off meddling in Germany’s election. We believe Russia actively interfered in Venezuela’s Presidential elections to the point that nobody in the West will certify the election. We believe Russia is already attempting to interfere in the 2020 US election. Yet Russia denies any and all election interference. The bottom line, Russia continues to actively attempt to mold global elections to their advantage using methodologies and large efforts which exceed normally accepted boundaries. Russia continues to deny, deny, and then deny some more, but they continue without accepting responsibility or curtailing these illegal actions. All they have changed since 2016 is to hide their efforts better. </end editorial>
Judiciary Chief Says Mueller Report Should Be Released To Congress Without Redactions
U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said that Attorney General William Barr should send Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report to Congress without re…
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LETTER
Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed – The New York Times
Members of the special counsel’s team have told associates that their findings are more troubling for President Trump than the attorney general indicated.
U.S. House Panel Votes To Subpoena Full Mueller Report, Additional Evidence
The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee has approved subpoenas to get the full, unedited report and other evidence related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s …
New York Times: Some Mueller investigators say their report is worse for Trump than Barr says – CNNPolitics
Some of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William Barr did not properly convey how damaging their findings were for President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Questions mount over Mueller, Barr and obstruction | TheHill
Questions are mounting over special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice as lawmakers on Capitol Hill await the release of his report.
Mick Mulvaney on Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians: ‘The issue is not whether it’s ethical’ – CNNPolitics
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that when it comes to the contacts members of President Donald Trump’s campaign team had with Russians during the 2016 election, “the issue is not whether it’s ethical.”
What did Mueller know? | TheHill
The special counsel was well aware that his friend, Attorney General Barr, is a Trump appointee — unquestionably partisan.
Russian singer who worked with Trump team on Miss Universe and Trump Tower Moscow speaks out about Mueller investigation — Meduza
When the musician and entrepreneur Emin Agalarov first read about the conclusions of the so-called Mueller probe, he was pleasantly unsurprised. “We were very glad, of course,” Agalarov told the Russian-language investigative outlet The Bell. But, he added, “we always knew that would be the result. I mean, I was the one who organized that fantastical meeting [with attorney Natalya Veselnitskaya], and I know what it was all really like.”
Most Americans don’t think Trump is in the clear yet on Russia, new poll finds
A third of Americans say they don’t know if the summary of Mueller’s findings clears Trump of wrongdoing, but the president’s approval rating remains stable.
What The Mueller Report May Reveal About Trump-Russia Investigation : NPR
The top-line conclusions are already out — the special counsel didn’t establish collusion or obstruction, according to the attorney general. But there might be so much more to learn.
Congress preps to fight Justice for Robert Mueller grand jury evidence
Lawmakers want to see information Robert Mueller obtained using grand juries and could launch a legal fight to obtain it as soon as Wednesday.
Barr overstepped his authority and undermined the integrity of the Mueller investigation (opinion) – CNN
US Attorney General William Barr should have transmitted Robert Mueller’s full report to Congress. But there are things Barr can do now to remedy the situation, writes Michael Zeldin


Wife of Obama defense secretary calls photo of her with Biden misleading | TheHill
The wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter denied then-Vice President Joe Biden made her uncomfortable in a viral photo that showed Biden with his hands on her shoulders.
This week in Congress: Heather Wilson’s goodbye tour
Defense and veterans hearings on Capitol Hill for the week of April 1, 2019.
Ocasio-Cortez flubs FDR history, Constitution change
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez incorrectly asserted that Republicans amended the Constitution to stop former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from being re-elected
Trump, airing grievances with immigration system, says U.S. needs to “get rid of judges” in meeting with NATO secretary general – CBS News
President Trump has threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico doesn’t do more to help stem the flow of migrants
President Trump falsely claims father, Fred Trump, was born in Germany
President Donald Trump on Tuesday falsely stated his father was born in Germany— the fourth time the president has made such a claim in less than a year.
Trump incorrectly says that his father was born in Germany | TheHill
President Trump on Tuesday incorrectly said his father was from Germany while expressing frustration about the country’s payments toward NATO.


Ocasio-Cortez responds to Trump calling her a ‘young bartender’: The ‘last guy who underestimated me lost’ | TheHill
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) responded Wednesday to President Trump’s recent remarks in which he referred to her as a “young bartender.”
House Democrats Brace for Another Anti-Semitism Showdown Forced by G.O.P. – The New York Times
House Republicans are expected to try to add an anti-Semitism amendment to a resolution to end American involvement in the war in Yemen, presenting Democrats with a wrenching choice.
Muslim rights advocate says Omar helped ‘broaden the conversation’ about Israel | TheHill
Civil rights attorney Zahra Billoo told Hill.TV’s “Rising” on Tuesday that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has broadened the conversation about how people can speak critically about Israel.


Chinese Woman Charged With Trying To Access Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club : NPR
The woman told Secret Service agents she wanted to go to the pool. But she didn’t have a swimsuit. Then she said she wanted to attend a “United Nations” event. None was scheduled.
The Secret Service responded to the Mar-a-Lago security incident – INSIDER
“The Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity,” the agency said.

 

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