Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (87)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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  1. Russia is truly sliding into the abyss, week by week. Updates on Kazakhstan and Belarus.
  2. Russia ramping up offensive ops in Syria, while Israel strikes again. Much debate on the Saudi package.
  3. DPRK sprung POL smuggling again, in PRC waters, interesting claims that KJN was an Agency asset;
  4. China strategy reports, trade war, rare earths backgrounder, much on the HK protests, SCO summit, Senkaku updates, Philippines hit and run sinking, China in Africa reports;
  5. UK/Brexit update, NZ/AUS updates, Venezuela update;
  6. Facebook, deep fakes and cyber updates;
  7. US domestic reports – space force, nuclear and other debates.


 

Russia / Russophone Reports

 


 

Putin Rails Against US While Ignoring Russian Transgressions – To Inform is to Influence
While Putin rails against US economic sanctions against Russia, he conveniently avoids addressing why those sanctions were first levied against Russia. Putin ignores Russia illegally annexing Crimea. Putin ignores Russia invading Donbas, Ukraine and waging an ongoing campaign against Ukraine, costing over 10,000 lives. Putin ignores waging economic warfare against Ukraine. Putin ignores widespread Russian provocations against NATO aircraft, ships, airspace, and seascape. Putin ignores GRU assassinations and attempted assassinations of former Russian citizens outside Russia. In other words, Russia is accusing the US while ignoring Russian transgressions. </end editorial>
Navalny Aide Volkov Jailed Again After Completing 20-Day Sentence
A senior aide to Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has been taken into custody shortly after serving 20 days in jail on charges related to an unsanctioned rally against the retirement a…
Daghestani Reporter Charged With ‘Financing Terrorism’
A reporter working for an independent newspaper in Daghestan has been accused of financing terrorism, a charge his editors say is absurd.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Some of My Best Friends are Non-Russians, Majority of Russians Say
Paul Goble Staunton, June 7 – Sixty-four percent of Russian adults say that their friends include people of other nationalities, according to a new VTsIOM poll. Fifty-two percent have friends of a different religious faith, 82 percent have friends of a different gender, 84 percent with those significantly older or younger than they are and (wciom.ru/index.php?id=236&uid=9744). In reporting these findings, VTsIOM noted that “friendship among people of different nationalities” was encountered less often than friendship within the Russian nation and that friendship across religious lines was even less common. In all cases, however, younger people were more likely to have friends different than themselves than older ones.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Must Stop Restraining Themselves Ethnically Out of Political Correctness, Remizov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 8 – Ethnic Russians are threatened in many ways by immigration and non-Russian ethnic groups within their country, but the most insidious form of these threats is the rise of a false “political correctness” based on the notion that any assertion of Russianness undermines the rights of others, Mikhail Remizov says. In an interview with Sergey Rykov of the Russian nationalist Stoletiye portal, the director of the Moscow Institute for National Strategy argues that the resulting “self-censorship” affects not only the links of Russians to the state but also their individual self-identification (stoletie.ru/obschestvo/mihail_remizov_u_rossii_dolzhno_byt_silnoje_russkoje_jadro_189.htm). “The right to identity is for the people equivalent of the right to life,” he continues. And it is “precisely this right which is now under threat when the reproduction and strengthening of identity is blocked or made more difficult” in the name of integrating migrants or living in peace with non-Russian groups. According to Remizov, “the identity of a major people is reproduced in public spaces, in mass culture, civil society, the school, and the educational system. Russian identity is being driven out of these spheres on the pretext that our country is multi-national. But this argument is absolutely inappropriate.” “Unfortunately,” he continues, “the present-day status of Russian identity looks quite problematic.” That is driving many Russians to seek out separate “subcultures or other traditions, be they the exotic like “’ethnic Russian Muslims’” or “’pagans,” or the most disturbing which Remizov calls “’Russian Ukrainianism,’” the sympathy of Russian intellectuals for Ukraine. But those are far from the only “versions of the turning away from Russian identity.” Among the others are regional identities. “This is when people say: we are not Russians; we are Cossacks.” This is a dangerous development because it “deprives the history of the Russian people of the lion’s share of its energy and its content.” Such phenomena carry with them the threat to the territorial integrity of the country. The precedent of “the de-Russification of tens of millions of people” in Ukraine and Belarus must be a warning. “If it is possible to separate Western Russians from Russians, then why can’t this be done with the Northern Russians, the Southern Russians and the Eastern Russians?” “Russia must have a strong Russian nuclear and only in that case will be established the necessary cultural-civilizational gravitation for the preservation of the unity of the country. We must find that formula of integration which does not require from Russians that they cease to be themselves and dissolve into some kind of supra-national existence.” For this to happen, Remizov says, requires “making Russian identity more attractive … one must ‘produce’ Russian identity. That is the task of the national intelligentsia and civil society as the state is not taking this function on itself … If this work is done successfully, it is quite possible that the relations of the state to the state-forming people will change.” “To begin with, it is necessary to realize the right of identity. If Russia is a multi-national country, then let us recognize that one of these nations is the Russian. And Russians have the right to self-identification … to think, speak, and be concerned about their specific interests as an historical community.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: The Russian Ethnic Russians in Former Soviet Republics Speak isn’t Muscovite but Isn’t Wrong Either, Linguist Says
Paul Goble Staunton, June 7 – The Russian language has always varied regionally and internationally despite the Soviet-imposed tradition of insisting that only the Muscovite variant is correct, Russian linguist Irina Levontina says; and the Russian Russians use beyond the ring road and beyond the country’s borders isn’t wrong just different. That is something many in the Russian capital don’t want to admit or even allow, the senior specialist at the Moscow Institute of the Russian Language at the Russian Academy of Sciences says; but given the speed of change because of the new electronic media, this diversity is going to become ever greater (currenttime.tv/a/russian-language-outside-russia/29982837.html). That makes arguments about which preposition to use in the case of Ukraine – “в” or “на” – foolish, Levontina says. There may be rules for officials, but people will use the one they are most comfortable with now and in the future just as in the past. In her view, despite the dogmatism inherited from Soviet times, “в” (“in”) will win out. Pluralism is the nature of language, especially now, the scholar says; and “grammatic and educated speakers of Russian live not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg. They live in Yekaterinburg, they live in Irkutsk, and they speak not as we speak in Moscow.” Abroad the situation is even more diverse. Levontina says that “in the near future will arise the notion that there is a Russian in the form of its variant which is present in the metropolis and there is a Russian, for example, in its Ukrainian variant.” That is because the Russian language those in Ukraine will be “a different Russian,” one not the same as in Moscow or the same as in Yekaterinburg.” “We already understand that the German language in Austria is not the same as the ones in Germany or Switzerland. Not only are the dialects different, but the bearers of the literary language speak a little differently.” That understanding will ultimately spread to Russian linguists as they escape the dogmatism of the Soviet past.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Predominantly Ethnic Russian City Appeals Directly to Canada and the UN
Paul Goble Staunton, June 9 – Many non-Russian nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation routinely appeal to international bodies, but now something remarkable has occurred, the residents of Kiselyovsk, in predominantly ethnic Russian Kemerovo Oblast, have sent one to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UN Secretary General António Guterres. Below are some key passages from their message of despair about the environmental and economic disaster they find themselves in and about their conviction that the current Russian government in Moscow, regionally and locally can do nothing to solve (facebook.com/groups/former.russia/permalink/479862316127391/). “We, the residents of the city of Kiselyovsk of Kemerovo Oblast of the Russian Federation want to openly appeal to the honorable Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres,” the appeal begins. “Today in Russia and especially in the Kuzbass there exist conditions in which life is unbearable. Our region is rich in coal and now the coal industry is being conducted in a barbaric way.” The 90,000 people of Kiselyovsk are forced to live right next to where coal is being taken from the ground and then processed before being shipped elsewhere. “This winter, the entire world saw our black snow. In the city, we breathe in coal dust … Out children almost the entire winter – and it is just as long here as it is in Canada – cannot go out to play. They become sick from the smog and from the coal dust hanging in the air.” But those who own the coal industry ignore “the interests of the people of the city.” Our homes are at risk from the mines, “but no one wants to help us.” Instead, businessmen and officials tell us that if we don’t mine coal, we won’t have jobs and we won’t eat. But now ever more of us are getting sick, including with cancer. As a result, “we in fact feel driven into a corner and live in a constant state of depression.” “In our city, there are districts where there is no chance to find pure water. In our land, there has not been any harvest for several years [and] we are forced to live under conditions of ecological poverty. We are in despair and so we are turning to Canada and the United Nations in the hope that someone will help us. “Most honorable Justin Trudeau, we are turning to you with an enormous request that you consider offering Kuzbass residents the status of refugees” given that we are victims of an environmental disaster and are suffering from social discrimination as a result. We do not believe that we can improve our situation anywhere in Russia. The appeal continues: “We are all working people. We can and know how to work. We have children and we don’t want that they get cancer or other diseases from the bad environment. We have tried all means to resolve these problems, but we have not succeeded in any of them. And so we have decided to turn to Canada “because it is very similar to our Siberia.” Like Siberia, Canada has “a lot of snow and is cold.” Its natural environment is similar too. “Yes, it is possible we have a different mentality, but it is easy to change that when there are favorable conditions around: pure air and pure water now have become beyond the reach of many in the cities of the Kuzbass.” “We are people, we have children, and we simply want to live. We can become useful for Canada, since Russia has simply forgotten about us and we feel as if no one here needs us.” The Kiselyovsk residents also appealed to UN Secretary General Guterrez. They said that they have “more than once sent appeals to President Vladimir Putin with prayers for salvation … But not once has anyone received an answer … We don’t ask for a personal response from Putin but hope that he will force the guilty” to end our plight. “We cannot say why the president is ignoring the problems of an entire oblast …. Our country helps many other countries like Syria, Donetsk Oblast, and Luhansk Oblast. Our government forgives other countries enormous debts but as for the residents of its own Kuzbass, it simply forgets them.” “But we are people too, and our children are also alive. We did not do anything bad, so why must be live in such unbearable conditions?” the residents ask. Perhaps our appeals have not reached Putin, they continue, and ask the UN secretary general to intervene to make sure he knows of their plight. “We are tired of waiting for changes.” When they have come, things have only gotten worse. “And it is dangerous to wait any longer.” More people are getting cancer and dying. What is “most important,” the residents say, is this: “We are not betraying our country. We simply want to live and have a guarantee that we as people mean more than any natural resources taken from the earth. If the Russian Federation cannot give us this, this means we must seek the chance to live in other countries where people are more highly valued.” “It is difficult for us to be patriots of this country. What does the Motherland mean after all? The land on which he lives? In Kiselyovsk and in the Kuzbass, the land doesn’t belong to us … any piece of land at any moment can be taken for the needs of the owners of the coal enterprises.” Is the Motherland only the president and our powers that be? “How can one be a patriot of either when they don’t take note of how we live, breathe and drink…”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Health Care Optimization Improving Treatment but Only for Those who Can Get It, New Study Shows
Paul Goble Staunton, June 7 – Vladimir Putin’s health care “optimization” program which involves cutting the number of smaller health delivery centers and concentrating services in larger ones has in fact generally improved the treatment of those who can get to them but made it far more difficult for many Russians to receive it, according to Sergey Sheyman and Vladimir Shevsky. The Higher School of Economics analyst and consultant doctor surveyed 1500 medical providers (“Processes of Concentration and Integration of Medical Services in Foreign Countries and Domestically” (in Russian, Voprosy gosudarsvetnnogo I munitsipalskogo upravleniya, 1 (2019): 111-135 at publications.hse.ru/articles/272892376; summarized at iq.hse.ru/news/281656701.html). The logic of unifying smaller health care delivery centers is compelling but not in every respect, Sheyman and Shevsky write. In many rural areas, those who are ill are deprived of accessible medical care; and in large cities, there are now hundreds of thousands of residents relying on each polyclinic. Those who can gain access to the larger centers generally but not always get better care: more specialists are available and mortality among these patients has declined, but often the segments of the larger health care centers do not work in close coordination and so that benefit may be lost – and those who can’t gain access are doing worse than before. The two also conclude that the cost savings of this program have been exaggerated. There is a one-time cut in the amount of money the state must pay, but over time, that is lost as costs for ambulances and other services increase and as people, failing to get health care early on, show up at treatment centers when their illnesses are worse and costs of treating them higher.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: In Raising Stakes and Bluffing, Putin is Negotiating Much as Trump Does, Felgengauer Says
Paul Goble Staunton, June 7 – Pavel Felgengauer, an independent Moscow security analyst, says that Vladimir Putin’s remarks about the possibility that Russia and the US may not extend arms control agreements are all about raising the stakes and bluffing in the hopes that Washington will offer Moscow more than it has to get its way. In this, the analyst says, Putin is acting very much as US President Donald Trump often does, thus creating a situation in which the leaders of the two nuclear powers are each using the same tactics, something that could lead to an escalation of problems because each will take a position he would find it difficult to retreat (rosbalt.ru/world/2019/06/07/1785760.html). Moreover, this approach by the two may mean that ever more issues will be wrapped together as part of any agreement, making it more difficult to achieve, requiring the personal intervention of the top figures on the two sides, and possibly having consequences for many issues far from the central one.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Anti-Trash Protests in Russian North Don’t Follow Ethnic or Expected Political Lines, Komi Activist Says
Paul Goble Staunton, June 7 – “’The line of the front’” in protests across the Russian North does not follow ethnic lines or the political divisions many might expect, Nikolay Edoratin, a leader of the Komi national movement, “We will Defend Ourselves.” Instead, he says, there are Komis on both sides and anti-trash nationalists are working with anti-trash KPRF deputies. In an interview taken by Vadim Shtepa of Region.Expert, Edoratin, who is also a student at the Sorokin State University in Komi, says that the powers that be in the republic have organized pro-trash groups in order to be able to claim that the republic supports Moscow and attacked the KPRF for its role in opposing the dumps (region.expert/dorjam/). The only ethnic or political groups with which the Komi anti-trash activists are not willing to cooperate with, Edoratin continues, are “those who call themselves ‘Russian nationalists’ because they often taken imperial positions and speak against our Republic as such.” Edoratin says that he and his Komi activist friends are not worried that the KPRF will sell them out. That party “today is the only one in the republic parliament which has come out against the dumps,” and as such, it is an appropriate ally for all who want to block this Moscow plan which is intended among other things to profit the private owners of these dumps. At the present time, the activist adds, “the prospect for the Komi Republic and for Arkhangelsk Oblast is one: to show that in the North of Russia a civil society has been formed and the authorities must take that into account. To guess what this will lead to,” he says, is something he cannot now say. At the same time, however, Edoratin points to the fact that “at the meetings it has become obvious that the colonial policy of the federal center cannot be continued; our citizens will not accept it.” And they will not accept Moscow’s installation of outsiders as heads who have no interest in defending the rights of the Komi. “We want a power which will be freely elected and will defend our people rather than look always to Moscow and to the clutch of United Russia politicians.” The activist says that he spoke to the anti-trash meeting in both Komi and Russian and that many taking part carried the cross-based unofficial flag the Komi opposition has come up with that follows the lines of other Finno-Ugric and Scandinavian countries to oppose the Moscow-imposed tricolor one. The opposition’s flag appeared in 2011 when Sergey Sivkov came up with the idea of using the traditional blue, green and white colors of the Komi people but to combine them not in the tricolor format as Moscow has insisted but rather in a cross-based form like the Ingermanlanders, Karelians and Scandinavians to underscore our common culture and goals.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Are the Tatars of Bashkortostan a Diaspora, an Irridenta Population, or a Native People? The Answer Matters, Garifullin Says
Paul Goble Staunton, June 8 – Some Bashkirs and some Tatars describe the Tatars of Bashkortostan as a diaspora, others in both groups say they are an irredenta population, and yet another group says they are a native people while others dispute each of these assertions, according to historian Ilnar Garifullin. Words matter, and these terms are especially freighted with meaning, he says; and 2019 is an appropriate time for clarifying the situation as the United Nations has declared it the Year of the Languages of Indigenous Peoples, using terms somewhat differently than Russian citizens normally do (idelreal.org/a/29978986.html). “The term ‘indigenous people’” is used around the world, but “in Russia as a rule, the word ‘numerically small’ is as a rule added to it,” to indicate that in Moscow’s understanding an indigenous people is one that is relatively small and does not have anywhere in Russia is own political support in the form of a national republic. Consequently, Garifullin continues, “it is no accident that ‘the term indigenous numerically small peoples’ is applied only toward those people who are not involved the process of nation building in the framework of national republics.” In Bashkortostan, there is only one “indigenous people,” the Bashkirs, and Bashkirs routinely use the term “diaspora” to describe both immigrants from elsewhere and the ethnic Tatars in their midst. That is inappropriate as “a diaspora is part of a people living outside the country of its origin, which forms a stable ethnic group in the country of its residence.” The term “diaspora,” he says, “cannot apply by definition, since Bashkortostan, having a definite (although now only nominal) autonomy is part of the state under the name Russian Federation.” Moreover, the Tatars living in Bashkortostan are not territorially dispersed, but live “compactly in the western part of the Republic of Bashkortostan.” In that respect, Garifullin continues, the Tatars of Bashkortostan are most appropriately described as an irredenta population, however explosive that term may be for the two nations involved. As far as the term “indigenous people” is concerned, he says, the Tatars of Bashkortostan certainly are under international definitions but not Russian ones. Internationally, an indigenous people is any population which traces its ancestry back for centuries on a given segment of territory. Under Russian and Soviet definitions, however, it is generally applied only to those small groups which continue to practice traditional forms of economic activity. From this terminological discussion, three things follow, Garifullin insists. First, the Tatars under UN rules are a genuinely indigenous population of Bashkortostan and in no way a diaspora. This is something the Tatars of that republic should insist on a regular basis lest the use of alternative terms lead to unfortunate consequences. Second, the Tatars are also an indigenous people with roots in what is now Bashkortostan going back centuries and thus are part of its “political subjectivity.” And third, efforts by Bashkirs to describe them otherwise are a transparent effort to diminish the rights of the Tatars living in the republic. Garifullin’s article is devoted only to the Tatars of Bashkortostan, but his discussion applies to a large number of other nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation and especially to those which do have republic status but many of whose members live beyond the borders of the republics.
Former Russian Governor Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison On Corruption Conviction
A Moscow court has sentenced a former governor of the Komi Republic, a region in Russia’s northwest, to 11 years in prison after convicting him of fraud, money laundering, and bribe taking. In …
Siberia Prosecutors Probe Video Of Tram Driver, Passengers Abandoning Unconscious Man
Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk on June 7 opened a criminal investigation into a video that appeared on social media showing passengers and a tram driver removing an incapacitated m…
Russian Anticorruption Officer Gets 13 Years In Prison On Bribery Charges
A court in Moscow has sentenced a police officer to 13 years in prison on bribery charges after the authorities found he had kept the equivalent of $120 million in cash at his home.
Burning Down The House: Karelia Villagers Irate As Moscow Filmmakers Breeze Into Town
Residents of the picturesque Karelian village of Kinerma — in 2016 named the most beautiful village in Russia — have festooned their wooden houses with rags and tarps to protest plans by a Moscow…
UAWire – China requests more than 50,000 hectares for soy plantations in Russia’s Primorsky Krai
The Chinese company Joyvio Beidahuang Agricultural Holdings wants to grow soy in Russia’s Primorsky Krai, announced Alexei Chekunkov, director …
Russian poker player dies from electrocution in bathroom – CNN
A Russian online poker player has been found dead after she was electrocuted while drying her hair.
Liay: Russian poker star, 26, dies after ‘accidentally electrocuting herself with hairdryer in bath’ | The Independent
A 26-year-old Russian poker star has died after electrocuting herself in the bath with a hairdryer in her family’s Moscow apartment, according to local media. Lilya Novikova’s body was found in the bathroom by a neighbour after her parents raised the alarm when they had been unable to get hold of her for several hours.
Chechen Rights Defender Titiyev Granted Early Release On Parole
The Shali district court in Russia’s Chechnya region says it has granted an early release from prison to human rights activist Oyub Titiyev.
Oil Tanker Blast, Fire Kills Three In Russia’s Daghestan
Three sailors have been killed in an explosion on an oil tanker and subsequent fire in Russia’s Caspian port of Makhachkala, officials say.
IAAF Extends Ban on Russian Track And Field Athletes Over Doping ‘Backsliding’
The governing body for world track and field has said a ban on Russian athletes is being extended amid concerns that the country was “backsliding” on reforms to its anti-doping programs.
Ivan Golunov: Russian anti-corruption journalist charged with drug dealing – BBC News
A Russian journalist is taken to hospital after his arrest for drug-dealing, amid reports he was beaten.
Russian investigative journalist detained in Moscow | TheHill
A prominent investigative journalist specializing in government and private corruption was arrested in Moscow on allegations of drug dealing.
Russian Investigative Reporter Formally Charged With Drug Offenses, Amid Protests
A Russian investigative journalist has formally been charged with drug offenses in a case that Russian and international journalists and rights organization say is trumped up to punish him for his …

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports

 


 

Chechen Leader Threatens To ‘Break Fingers And Tear Out Tongues’
A bit of vandalism at the administrative border between two southern Russian republics prompts Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov to threaten violence over perceived insults.
Hundreds Detained In Kazakhstan As Nazarbaev’s Chosen Presidential Successor Leads Exit Poll
The first exit-poll results from Kazakhstan point to an overwhelming victory for interim President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, who was handpicked by former authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbaev to be his successor.
Nazarbayev’s Hand-Picked Successor Declared Winner in Kazakhstan | Voice of America – English
Kazakhstan’s interim president, the hand-picked successor of long time ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev, was declared the winner of Sunday’s presidential election, defeating six other government-approved candidates. The country’s Central Election Commission said on Monday that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won nearly 71 percent of the vote with all the ballots counted and his nearest challenger, opposition candidate Amirzhan Kosanov, had about 16 percent. Election observers were critical of the election.

Belarus Reports

 


 

Oh Deer! A Call Of The Wild Contest In Belarus
Strange grunts and groans have been heard in a Belarusian forest as contestants from several countries came together for the 21st European Championship of Stag Callers. The calls mimic those made by stags in the wild and are used by hunters to lure deer for the kill.
UAWire – US extends sanctions against Lukashenko and a number of Belarusian officials
US President Donald Trump has extended sanctions against a number of Belarusian officials for one more year, the press service of the White …

 

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


 

UAWire – Syria accuses Israel of air strikes on Daraa province
On Wednesday night, June 12, Israel carried out several air strikes against targets in the Tel al-Hara area, located in the Syrian Province of …
UAWire – Netanyahu confirms that it was Israel that struck Syria this week
Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that it was the Israeli Air Force that bombed military facilities in …
Russia prepares ‘crushing’ offensive in Syria
Russian forces are preparing a military operation to help Syrian dictator Bashar Assad reclaim the last major cities held by rebel forces and terrorists, according to Moscow’s top diplomat.
Russian jets carry out deadly bombings in Syria’s Idlib | Syria News | Al Jazeera
Nearly half of 3 million inhabitants of northwestern Syria, a rebel stronghold, have fled due to regime bombardment.
UAWire – Russian military losing ground in Syria
Russian military had to leave the military base in the village of Tal Salba in the North of the Syrian Hama province after it was shelled by militants from the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (former Jabhat al-Nusra), reports Al-Masdar News. The militants attacked the Russian troops and, during their offensive, they also managed to capture several combat positions previously controlled by the Syrian army. According to the report, the massive artillery shelling of Tal Salba was only interrupted by powerful air strikes which were carried out by Russian aircraft. A significant number of Russians troops are stationed in the cities Mharda and Al-Suqaylabiyah. However, it is unlikely that they will leave these cities with significant civilian population.


Iraq begins examining Yazidi mass graves remains | Fox News
Iraq will use DNA testing to identify the remains of 141 bodies found in mass graves believed to contain the Yazidi victims of Islamic State group massacres, the head of the country’s forensics administration said on Sunday.


The Latest: Saudi Arabia says it intercepted Houthi drones | Fox News
The Latest on Mideast developments amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region (all times local): 7 a.m.
Benchmark Brent crude oil rises 4% in trading to over $62 a barrel after oil tanker incident in Gulf of Oman – The Washington Post
Benchmark Brent crude oil rises 4% in trading to over $62 a barrel after oil tanker incident in Gulf of Oman
Lawmakers move to halt Trump’s Saudi Arabia arms sales after contentious hearing – CNNPolitics
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced new legislation Wednesday that would halt the Trump administration’s push to circumvent Congress and expedite $8.1 billion in arms sales to Gulf countries by declaring an emergency.
Trump official grilled over $8bn ’emergency’ arms sale to Saudis | USA News | Al Jazeera
Democrats accuse Trump of creating a ‘phony’ emergency to bypass Congress to approve an $8bn arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
US-Saudi Arabia: two senators to force vote on ties and weapons sales – Vox
Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) to force vote on Trump relations with Saudi Arabia and arms sales amid Khashoggi and Yemen crises.
Senators hope to force vote on arms sales to Saudi Arabia – CBS News
Senators have been introducing legislation aimed at blocking the sale of weapons to the kingdom, in opposition of the Trump administration’s Saudi policy
Saudi Arabia and the arms race that you’ve not heard enough about – CNN
It’s the Middle East arms race that many people don’t want to talk about. The White House may be preoccupied with Iran’s past pursuit of nuclear weapons and its present strategic status in the region. But simmering nearby is another rapid militarization, conducted by a favored family of the White House, the House of Saud.
Under Trump arms deal, high-tech U.S. bombs to be built in Saudi Arabia
A controversial arms package calls for U.S. precision-guided bomb parts to be made in Saudi Arabia, giving Riyadh unprecedented access to sensitive technology.
Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict – The New York Times
Two tankers have been hit, forcing their crews to abandon ship, near where four tankers were damaged last month. It was not clear who carried out the attacks.


‘Balloon bomb’ launched from Gaza explodes in Israel, report says | Fox News
A “balloon bomb” launched from the Gaza Strip reportedly exploded over a community in southern Israel on Wednesday, as tensions along the border escalated.
Israel’s Political Meltdown
A white flag of surrender was raised aloft over the Knesset just after the stroke of midnight on May 29. Six nail-biting weeks after he was first tasked by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to construct Israel’s next government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to concede defeat and admit that he had failed to cobble together a new ruling coalition. Faced with a series of options, the incumbent prime minister pulled the scorched earth lever. According to Israeli law, an expired mandate returns to the country’s president, who may then tap a different parliamentarian to try and craft a government. In order to block Rivlin from exercising that prerogative, Netanyahu assembled a preemptive majority to vote for new elections instead. He hopes surely to improve his own prospects when the repeat ballot takes place on September 17. As the electoral dust settles—and before the proverbial “only democracy in the Middle East” goes to the polls for an unprecedented second time in six months—a number of salient points are beginning to emerge. They shed light on both what happened and what might be expected to occur in the coming few months. The drama of negotiations to form a new coalition is provided traditionally by parties jockeying for spoils of victory. Center stage was occupied this time by a matter of substance: pending legislation to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The dispute between Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel, Our Home) leader Avigdor Liberman—who is demanding passage of a bill that he shepherded as defense minister in 2018 and would allow the conscription of ultra-Orthodox men into the IDF—and representatives of the ultra-Orthodox community surfaced as the ostensible reason for the impasse, which then spiraled into a call for new elections. Frantic efforts by Netanyahu and his proxies to engineer a compromise came up empty. The result has been a sense of confusion about Liberman’s intentions. Despite his explicit recommendation that only Netanyahu should serve as Israel’s next prime minister, Liberman resisted attempts nonetheless to guarantee that precise outcome. He now faces charges that his intractability was actually premeditated. The only clues to Liberman’s thinking lie in what can be construed as his apparent gains from the intervention. If to take Liberman at his word—that proposals to bridge his differences with the ultra-Orthodox were unacceptable—then one possible explanation of his behavior could be the defense of principle. But there are other, more cynical possibilities. Yisrael Beiteinu’s core demographic of Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel is dwindling rapidly. Fewer newcomers are joining its ranks. And those already living in Israel are integrating successfully into society, meaning that a sectarian framework such as Liberman’s has little appeal for them. Political calculus suggests that his clash with the ultra-Orthodox was fabricated in order to rebrand Yisrael Beiteinu and give the party a renewed lease on life as an anti-religious vanguard. Liberman’s return as kingmaker strengthens his hand as well. A poll conducted on the day after the Knesset dissolved itself found that Yisrael Beiteinu stands to increase its showing from five to nine seats in parliament, which would make it the third-largest faction in the house. Finally, there is the personal card. Liberman and Netanyahu are longtime associates with a checkered history. Israelis believe that nobody knows better than Liberman how to pressure the prime minister, and that Liberman is almost certainly reveling in this moment of Netanyahu’s humiliation. One scenario would even have Liberman now delivering a coup de grâce to his old frenemy: the forced delay in seating a working Knesset and swearing in a new government will extend well beyond the deadline of Netanyahu’s scheduled pre-indictment hearing before Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, on corruption charges. Functional timetables demonstrate that Netanyahu no longer has sufficient time left to fashion much-discussed legislative remedies to forestall his day in court. If the prime minister were pushed aside unceremoniously, the field would then become clear for Liberman (and other opportunistic Netanyahu rivals) to make a bid for filling the leadership vacancy. The campaign for the 22nd Knesset will be an anomaly in electoral politics. Candidates for public office are used to making promises for which they are not held accountable until much later when the next election cycle begins. Israelis have just experienced a “live fire exercise” under pristine laboratory conditions. Since the April 9 ballot for the 21st Knesset, Israelis have had the unique opportunity to observe their elected deputies in action. Politicians who pledged to do one thing but did another will have to answer to the scrutiny of their voters. Netanyahu assured Israelis on national television that he was not at all absorbed with endeavors to guarantee him immunity from prosecution. His surrogates, however, spent the lion’s share of their time invested reportedly in that specific project. Netanyahu’s assertions that he was committed to forming a right-wing government also did not prevent him from holding a garage sale to stay in power—and offering plum positions to the left-wing Labor Party if it would only agree to enlist in his coalition. Others are vulnerable in a similar way. Moshe Kahlon, the leader of the Kulanu (All Of Us) Party who vowed to run independently, has now joined forces with Netanyahu’s Likud. Some of Kahlon’s original supporters will wander surely toward other pastures. The same phenomenon will conceivably have an impact on Yisrael Beiteinu—blamed now for scuttling the Netanyahu premiership it claimed to desire—and even on Labor, for having even considered Netanyahu’s offer. The upcoming season is angling to be merger-heavy, with parties on both the right and left exploring consolidation. Neither bloc can afford to waste votes that might go to factions which fail to cross the electoral threshold. The landscape could be altered beyond recognition. Naftali Bennett, whose New Right platform was less than 1,500 votes short of re-election, is one case in point. Conventional wisdom is that Bennett’s return to the Knesset would have given Netanyahu his majority. Hypothetically, if right-wing ballots overcompensate in September and propel Bennett back into parliament, it’s not implausible that, like a phoenix from the ashes, he might then reinstate his earlier demand for the defense portfolio. The months ahead will be chaotic for Israel, marked by government paralysis and an ugly, insult-saturated election campaign. US President Donald J. Trump’s aspirations to advance his Middle East peace plan will be relegated to the back of the deep-freeze. Netanyahu will have no bandwidth to engage in conflict resolution and Trump will undoubtedly not complicate Netanyahu’s political future with talk of concessions to the Palestinians. As for the post-September horizon, all bets are off. The electorate and the issues are unchanged, but the composition of the next legislature and government could generate unexpected outcomes. Confronted with public unrest over what is perceived as a superfluous and expensive replay of April’s ballot, and a step away from become trapped in legal quicksand, Netanyahu—if he wins again—will come up against the appetites of even more ravenous parties next time around. A third election may be waiting in the wings.
U.S. envoy, in interview, does not rule out Israeli annexation in West Bank – Reuters
The U.S. ambassador to Israel did not rule out an Israeli move to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, land that the Palestinians seek for a state, in an interview with the New York Times published on Saturday.
She’s Gotta Drive It: Emirati Money Funds Female-Only Taxi Service In Chechnya
In Russia’s conservative Muslim republic of Chechnya, women have launched their own taxi service to avoid the discomfort and cultural pitfalls of riding with male drivers. A United Arab Emirates-based fund hopes the service will promote Islamic “norms and traditions.”

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

 


 

US defense chief Shanahan gives China photos of North Korea smuggling – Business Insider
“I gave him this beautiful book,” Shanahan said after meeting the Chinese defense minister. “I said this is an area where you and I can cooperate.”
The US and 26 other nations want to halt North Korea fuel imports – CNNPolitics
The United States and more than two dozen other countries are asking all nations to immediately halt valuable fuel shipments to North Korea.
North Korea is sanctions-busting by exceeding oil import cap, U.S. tells UN in new report – CBS News
The Hermit Kingdom is violating sanctions by importing more oil than is permitted by the United Nations, according to a report obtained by CBS News
Trump says he is ‘in no rush’ to make a nuclear deal with North Korea – Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was “in no rush” to make a deal with North Korea to get it to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, and touted what he called his positive relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim Jong Un’s ‘beautiful’ letter to Trump contained no details on way forward, source says – CNNPolitics
A “beautiful” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un touted by President Donald Trump on Tuesday lacked substance and did not contain any details on a way forward for the stalled denuclearization talks between the two countries, according to a source familiar with its contents.
South Korea: Donald Trump’s Letter From Kim Jong Un Has a ‘Very Interesting Part’ He Left Out
President Donald Trump simply said his “beautiful letter” from North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un was “very personal, very warm, very nice.”
North Korea urges U.S. to change ‘hostile policy’ on eve of summit anniversary – Reuters
North Korean state media called on the United States on Tuesday to “withdraw its hostile policy” towards Pyongyang or agreements made at a landmark summit in Singapore a year ago might become “a blank sheet of paper”.
North Korean Leader’s Slain Half Brother Was a CIA Source – WSJ
Kim Jong Nam, who was killed in Malaysia in February 2017, was a Central Intelligence Agency source who met on several occasions with agency operatives, a person knowledgeable about the matter said.
Half-brother of North Korea’s Kim was a CIA informant: Report | North Korea News | Al Jazeera
Wall Street Journal citing an unnamed person said there was ‘a nexus’ between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam.
Kim Jong Un’s half-brother was CIA informant before his assassination: report | Fox News
Kim Jong Un’s half-brother was working as a CIA informant before he was brazenly murdered in a Malaysian airport in 2017, according to a report Monday.
Eyewitnesses help document public executions in North Korea for a day of reckoning – Los Angeles Times
Four in five North Korean escapees interviewed for a new report by a South Korea-based research group said they witnessed a public execution in their lifetime.
Kim Jong-un’s Sister Meets With South Korean Officials at Border – The New York Times
Mr. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, delivered a letter from him expressing condolences on the death of a former South Korean first lady, officials said.
‘Executed’ North Korean pop star back apparently back from the dead
Hyon Song-wol, a North Korean pop star who was reportedly executed in 2013, has apparently hoofed it back from the dead this week when she appeared in a tour of factories with Kim Jong-un.
These North Korean defectors were sold into China as cybersex slaves. Then they escaped – CNN
Wearing big black headphones and sitting on a blue floral bedspread, North Korean defector Lee Yumi was video chatting with yet another stranger online, dark rings shading the pale skin under her eyes.
North Korea Grapples With Another Food Shortage. Will Aid Help? : Goats and Soda : NPR
Facing the worst drought in nearly four decades, the country is grappling with food shortages that affect 40% of its population. The donation has humanitarian – but also diplomatic – aims.
Why the US must conclude a proper treaty with North Korea | TheHill
There is no acceptable military solution to the Korean nuclear crisis, and refusal to ratify is an instant trust-buster.
North Korea: Hundreds of public execution sites identified, says report – BBC News
A rights group found some of those executed had committed crimes like theft and watching South Korean TV.
Hundreds of North Korean execution sites identified, says rights group | World news | The Guardian
South-Korea-based group says it has found more than 300 such sites after interviewing more than 600 defectors


The Perfect Storm Confronting Xi Jinping
Entering 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to be charting a very new path not only for China but for himself. With the 13th National People’s
The US just quietly challenged China on something Beijing promised to go to war over | Business Insider
President Donald Trump has engaged China in a trade war that has global markets holding their breath, but his administration recently challenged Beijing on an issue Chinese officials have promised to go to war over. The US military recently called Taiwan a country, something China routinely threatens to go to war over. China thinks of Taiwan as a renegade province with a democratic government that’s an existential threat to the Communist Party. No US president for decades has been so supportive of Taiwan, and the US and China now find themselves in uncharted territory.
China’s Rise and the Future of Global Politics
Successfully competing with China will require more precisely understanding its motives and actions and developing tough but nuanced responses. Since 2012, China’s growing authoritarianism and resurgent state dominance over the economy have dashed Western hopes that China would eventually embrace liberalism.
How China Could Shut Down America’s Defenses – Foreign Policy
Advanced U.S. weapons are almost entirely reliant on rare-earth materials only made in China—and they could be a casualty of the trade war.
Assessment of the Effects of Chinese Nationalism on China’s Foreign Policy | RealClearDefense
Adam Ni is a China researcher at the the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University in Sydney. He can be found on his personal website here or on Twitter. Divergent…
Donald Trump’s Trade Wars Are Bringing Russia and China Together, Making It Easier for Them To Challenge U.S.
The Lowy Institute’s Herve Lemahieu told Newsweek that “dynamics within the old Cold War blocs have been reversed” and “Beijing and Moscow have put old antagonisms to rest” to challenge Washington.
The US and China’s Arctic Ambitions | The Diplomat
Insights from Malte Humpert.
China Claims It Has the Tech to Track F-22s over the East China Sea | The National Interest
But can they shoot a stealth fighter out of the sky? 


MARTIN WOLF. The looming 100-year US-China conflict (The Financial Times) | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations
Donald Trump’s unnecessary fight for domination is increasingly being framed as a zero-sum game.  The disappearance of the Soviet Union left a big hole. The “war on terror” was an inadequate replacement. But China ticks all boxes. For the US, it can be the ideological, military and economic enemy many need. Here at last is…
China may restrict tech access in spiraling trade war with US
The People’s Daily newspaper said Sunday that the system will build a strong firewall to strengthen the nation’s ability to innovate and to accelerate the development of key technologies.
Mnuchin: Trump will decide about China tariffs after meeting with Xi
U.S. President Donald Trump will make a decision about whether to slap China with more tariffs after meeting with his Chinese counterpart later this month in Japan, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Mnuchin threatens China with tariffs if they bail on trade deal
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly urged China to come back to trade talks, threatening more tariffs if Beijing doesn’t live up to its commitments.
Mnuchin Lays Blame for Failed Trade Talks on China – The New York Times
The Treasury secretary also said that President Trump will meet with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, at the G-20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan, later this month.
China calls in foreign tech firms after Huawei sales ban: sources – Reuters
China summoned global technology companies for talks last week following last month’s U.S. ban on selling technology to China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.
China finds new ways to pressure Trump amid trade impasse – CNNPolitics
The Chinese government is ramping up efforts to apply pressure on the United States beyond imposing punitive economic measures as trade negotiations between the two countries remain deadlocked.
China appears to be cutting its US trade surplus – commentary
Trade problems with China appear to be on the mend, writes Michael Ivanovitch.
Trump contradicts Mnuchin on Huawei, trade, national security
The White House needs to clarify its position on Huawei immediately, specifically whether American actions against the company fall under economic or national security concerns.
Huawei exec: We’ll have to ‘wait a little bit longer’ to become the world’s top smartphone brand – CNN
Huawei’s plans to become the world’s biggest smartphone brand will have to be put on hold, a senior company executive said, as the company faces increasing pressure from the United States.
Why a ban on Huawei is being ignored by some of the oldest U.S. allies in Asia – Los Angeles Times
Southeast Asia is still eyeing Huawei’s 5G technology, illustrating an erosion of U.S. influence in the face of growing Chinese investment.
Huawei ban latest: U.K. lawmakers grill executive over 5G security
Huawei’s global cyber security and privacy officer defended the company’s security practices in a hearing on Monday.
Chinese Exporters Dodge Tariffs With Fake Made-in-Vietnam Labels – Bloomberg
Some Chinese exporters are going to extreme lengths to avoid the hit from Donald Trump’s tariffs.
China’s Grip on Rare Earths Began With Decision 30 Years Ago – Bloomberg
It was Beijing’s decision almost 30 years ago to make rare earths a strategic material, and ban foreigners from mining them, that helped pave the way for China to elbow aside the U.S. as the world’s leading producer.
The digital silk road
Even if the race to keep technological knowledge away from the Chinese government cannot be won in any definitive way…


China just blocked The Washington Post and The Guardian from the country’s internet | Business Insider
China just blocked articles from The Washington Post and the Guardian from appearing on the country’s internet.
Massive Crowds Take to Streets in ‘Last Fight’ for Hong Kong – WSJ
Huge crowds of demonstrators took to the streets Sunday to protest a proposed law that would allow Beijing to take people from Hong Kong to stand trial in mainland China.
Mass protest in Hong Kong over law critics fear could allow China to snatch anyone – CNN
Thousands have taken to the streets of Hong Kong Sunday to oppose a controversial extradition bill that would enable China to extradite fugitives from the city.
Hundreds of thousands rally in Hong Kong against China extradition bill
Hundreds of thousands of people took to Hong Kong’s streets on Sunday in a last bid to block a proposed extradition law that would allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial.
Hong Kong extradition protests leave city in shock – BBC News
Authorities have shut some government offices after the worst violence in the territory for decades.
How are you being affected by the Hong Kong protests? | World news | The Guardian
We would like to hear from readers in Hong Kong about the situation as you see it
As Hong Kong stands up to China, US should do the right thing — this time | TheHill
We have moral, legal and strategic reasons to support the Hong Kong people’s cause, despite other foreign policy challenges.
Extradition law may jeopardize US-Hong Kong economic arrangement
Professor Ho-Fung Hung said an amendment to Hong Kong law may damage the city’s reputation as a financial center and its special status with Washington.
UK PM May says Hong Kong extradition must be in line with Sino-British declaration – Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May said extradition rules in Hong Kong had to respect the rights and freedoms set out in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Hong Kong Council Leaders Break With Pro-Beijing System Asking For Bill Delay : NPR
The remarks made in a radio interview by Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan, a key government adviser, come as Hong Kong braces for further protests over the weekend.
Tense Calm Prevails In Hong Kong A Day After Violent Clashes Between Protesters And Police | TIME – YouTube
TIME Published on Jun 13, 2019 Tense calm prevails In Hong Kong a day after violent clashes between Protesters and Police. Subscribe to TIME ►► http://po.st/SubscribeTIME
Opinion | Hong Kong and the Future of Freedom – The New York Times
Under Trump, Uncle Sam no longer puts up his fists in defense of Lady Liberty.
Why Hong Kong Matters – WSJ
China is swallowing a showcase of freedom. Will Trump speak up?
How did one of the safest cities in the world descend into violence? – CNN
Hong Kong is an extremely safe city, but in recent years, simmering tensions over the city’s political future have created an underlying sense of unease.
Britain Failed Hong Kong – Foreign Policy
The U.K. owes Hong Kongers fighting for democracy a moral debt.
Telegram: Hackers in China Disrupted Service During Hong Kong Protests – Defense One
Bogus signals inundated an encrypted-messaging service that helped demonstrators coordinate, the company says.
Chinese cyberattack hits messaging app during HK protest
The attack on the Telegram app, which slowed connectivity but did not compromise user data, came as thousands surrounded Hong Kong government headquarters on Wednesday to protest legislation that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to stand trial.
Chinese cyberattack hits Telegram app during Hong Kong protest
Encrypted messaging app Telegram said Thursday that it was hit by a powerful cyberattack from China as a major protest unfolded in Hong Kong.


Shanghai Cooperation Organization Members Sign Joint Declaration
The leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries have signed a joint declaration at their summit in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, calling for greater cooperation among member c…
Leaders Of Shanghai Cooperation Organization Sign Joint Declaration
The leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries signed a joint declaration on June 14 at their summit in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, calling for greater cooperation among member countries and reaffirming their intent to ensure security for their region. Russia will now take over the SCO chairmanship. The parties have agreed to hold the next summit in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on July 22-23, 2020.
Kyrgyzstan Hosts Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit
A summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opened on June 14 in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, and the leaders of other SCO member states — Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan — were meeting behind closed doors for what Bishkek called “narrow format” talks. The leaders of SCO observer states — Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia — joined the meetings later on June 14.
Kyrgyz, Chinese Leaders Meet In Bishkek Ahead Of SCO Summit
Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional grouping led by Moscow and Beijing, are gathering in the Kyrgyz capital for a two-day summit.


The Senkaku issue as seen from the Falklands War | The Japan Times
Are Japan’s politicians are up to the test if the Senkaku Islands were seized?
China’s Senkaku Islands ambition | The Japan Times
China aims to establish a situation of de facto co-administration of the Senkakus as a stepping stone to vying for sole administration at some point in the future.
Japan To Deploy Patrol Ship With Helicopters Near Islands Disputed With China – Reports – UrduPoint
Japan will deploy a patrol vessel with two helicopters on board near the Senkaku Islands disputed with China as tensions in the region continue to mount, local media reported
China and Japan’s Carefully Maintained Normality – Tokyo Review
As disputes between the U.S. and China overshadow Asian geopolitics, top officials in China and Japan seek to emphasize the stability of their relationship.
Major JCG base planned at Kagoshima Port to counter Chinese activity around Senkakus – The Japan News
The Japan Coast Guard plans to establish one of the nation’s largest bases at Kagoshima Port, to support security operations that would strengthen the JCG’s ability to counter repeated incursions into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands by Chinese government ships, according to sources.
Chinese ships near Senkaku Islands for 57th day | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News
Chinese government ships have navigated just outside of Japan’s territorial waters off the Senkaku Islands for the 57th consecutive day.


The US Wants to Sell Taiwan the Wrong Weapons – Defense One
The proposal to send tanks, and not A2/AD weapons, exposes a flawed American strategy.
94 Taiwanese criminal suspects extradited from Spain to Beijing – CNN
A charter flight carrying 94 Taiwanese criminal suspects arrived in Beijing from Spain on Friday morning, making it the first large-scale extradition from Europe to China, state media reported.
A US ally is furious and demanding answers from China after a ‘hit and run’ in the South China Sea | Business Insider
The Philippines is taking China to task over an alleged “hit-and-run” incident in which a Chinese fishing ship fled the scene after it slammed into an anchored Philippine vessel in the South China Sea, sinking it and abandoning 22 Filipino fishermen in open water to drown.
Philippines protests sinking of boat in disputed waters – ABC News
Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.
When Coal Comes to Paradise – Foreign Policy
As China pushes clean energy policies at home, it is exporting its high-pollution coal industry to pristine places like Kenya’s Lamu Island—with Nairobi’s seal of approval. Local residents fear it will destroy the environment they depend on.
Assessing the Risks of Chinese Investments in Sub-Saharan African Ports | Center for Strategic and International Studies
 June 4, 2019 Chinese investments in sub-Saharan African ports1 present potential threats to U.S. influence in sub-Saharan Africa as well as African sovereignty. A recent CSIS report, Influence and Infrastructure: The Strategic Stakes of Foreign Projects, identifies some of the strategic risks posed by the three stages of Chinese infrastructure projects, enabling Beijing to potentially restrict access to its rivals, exploit ports during conflict, and collect intelligence. Drawing on English-language press releases and open-source reports, the CSIS Africa Program identified 46 sub-Saharan African ports with financial, construction, or operational involvement by Chinese entities. Some caveats are needed. The data presented in maps and charts here does not represent an exhaustive list of Chinese involvement in African ports nor does it capture the value of funding shares or the precise stage of completion due to limited information.2 Despite its shortcomings, this approach applies a methodology to distinguish which ports are more vulnerable to Chinese strategic intervention and provides practitioners and scholars a foundational framework from which to build future research. While it does not purport to reveal the next Djibouti military base or Hambantota port in Africa, the data indicates where Beijing is making a bigger bet on a port’s potential and reveals which ports are more susceptible to Chinese influence and control.

 


 

Foreign Policy Reports

 


 

Brexit: Boris Johnson £350m claim case thrown out by judges – BBC News
Tory leadership contender denied acting improperly in saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week.
Boris Johnson Emerges to Face Reporters’ Questions. Six of Them. – The New York Times
Criticized as hiding from scrutiny, the front-runner to be Conservative Party leader spoke at a campaign event, vaguely, about his Brexit plans and college cocaine use.
Inside Steve Bannon’s School for Populists | Voice of America – English
Benjamin Harnwell, a British acolyte of Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, says he and his mentor plan to fight efforts to scrap their plans to turn a picturesque medieval monastery in the mountainous Italian heartland into a boot camp for populist activists. Last year, amid cries of outrage from the Italian left, the 43-year-old Harnwell and Bannon secured a two-decadelong lease on the Trisulti Charterhouse, a 13th century monastery in Collepardo, in the central Italian province of Frosinone, on the slopes of a forested peak 825 meters above sea level.
UK signs Julian Assange’s US extradition papers – CNN
The United Kingdom has signed an extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces charges in the US under the Espionage Act.
US makes formal extradition request to Britain for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks
The Department of Justice has made its formal request to the U.K. to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Julian Assange one step closer to being extradited to US | News | The Times
The home secretary has signed an extradition request for Julian Assange, bringing the Wikileaks founder a step closer to facing charges in the United States.Sajid Javid said that Assange was “rightly behind bars” at Belmarsh prison in southeast London, where he is serving 50 weeks after breaking bai
Roman Abramovich donates $5m to Jewish Agency to fight anti-Semitism – CNN
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is donating $5m to the Jewish Agency For Israel in a bid to help fight anti-Semitism across the world, the organization said Thursday.


Churchill the pessimist was pushed into D-Day by the US | News | The Times
On a spring morning three quarters of a century ago, 20-year-old Lindley Higgins from Riverdale in the Bronx was having the time of his life. A humble private in the US 4th Infantry Division, conducting a final exercise before the day of days, he sprayed tracer bullets to set fire to hayricks amid t
France, Germany Remember Nazi Massacre in French Village | Voice of America – English
The French village of Oradour-sur-Glane looks the same today as it did 75 years ago — when Nazi troops entered the village, forced 642 residents into buildings and burned them to the ground.  Anyone trying to escape was machine gunned to death.  French wartime leader-turned President Charles de Gaulle passed down orders that the village never be touched so the world could see another example of Nazi brutality. French and German officials stood among the ruined buildings and rusted, burned-out cars to remember the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre, 75 years ago Monday.


137 Years After Construction Began, Spanish Church Gets Building Permit
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s modernist masterpiece, was granted the permit in what may be a new high mark for bureaucratic sluggishness
Sagrada Familia gets building permit after 137 years | CNN Travel
For 137 years, the construction of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia had been carried out illegally.
La Sagrada Familia Gets Permit After 137 Years Without One : NPR
The Sagrada Familia church got the permit Friday, allowing construction to continue with completion projected for 2026. The church’s foundation agreed to pay the city of Barcelona millions of dollars.


Christchurch Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty To Charges In Mosque Massacre : NPR
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, who appeared in Christchurch High Court via video link, smirked as his lawyer entered not guilty pleas on charges of terrorism, murder and attempted murder.
New Zealand Mosque Killing Suspect Pleads Not Guilty – The New York Times
Brenton Tarrant is accused of killing 51 people and wounding dozens more as they worshiped at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15.
Australia’s Attacks on the Free Press
Recent raids send a chilling message to whistleblowers and reporters.
Opinion | Why Are the Australian Police Rummaging Through Journalists’ Files? – The New York Times
Two raids this week threaten the ability of news organizations to reveal official wrongdoing.
Australian police deny waging ‘war on the media,’ but more raids are possible – CNN
Australian police have defended raids on the country’s national broadcaster and a prominent journalist, and said more could be coming as they continue an investigation into the alleged publication of state secrets.
Australia: Relaxed, Sunny and Secretive? – The New York Times
Australia has a global reputation for being a sunny, relaxed democracy. But it also has a deep preference for government secrecy.
Widespread concern after Australian police media raids | News | Al Jazeera
Police raids against two news outlets renew calls for safeguards for whistle-blowers and freedom of speech protections.
ABC chair Ita Buttrose condemns AFP raid as ‘clearly designed to intimidate’ | Media | The Guardian
Buttrose vows to fight any attempt to ‘muzzle’ the ABC and says she has had a frank conversation with the communications minister
Exposed: a second-rate country unwilling to defend press freedom
The US, Britain and many other nations have laws to protect journalists and their sources. This week’s Australian Federal Police expose a vulnerable democracy. What an irony. As the free world celebrates D-day and the heroes who kept it free from the Gestapo’s “knock on the door”, the international news on the BBC leads with the spectacle of the police raid on the ABC offices. This could not happen in other advanced democracies, which all have constitutional protections for journalists and their sources of information, although of course it does go on in Istanbul and Rangoon – and now in Sydney. How did we become so out of sync on press freedom, invasions of which are the sign of a second-rate country?
AFP raids on media companies proves Australia is in democratic decline – Monash Lens
Australia’s national security and anti-terrorism laws are undermining our civil liberties, democratic health and seriously impeding our capability of keeping power to account. Read more at Monash Lens


Contradictory evidence casts doubt on case against jailed Venezuela opposition official
A review of evidence against Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, compiled by Pres. Nicolás Maduro’s Sebin intelligence agency finds it to be contradictory and vague, a Reuters report finds.
Exclusive: The thin evidence against a jailed Venezuela opposition official – Reuters
At about 2 a.m. on March 21, eight Venezuelan intelligence agents drove to the home of the top advisor to opposition leader Juan Guaido and broke down the door.
Venezuelan Charities Struggle Under Shortages And Intimidation : NPR
Local aid groups play a growing role amid Venezuela’s unprecedented humanitarian crisis marked by widespread malnutrition and deaths from preventable diseases.
Maduro Reopens Venezuelan Border With Colombia : NPR
On Saturday, thousands of Venezuelans crossed the newly reopened border, seeking basic supplies like food and medicine that are scarce in their own country.
Norway Mediation Effort in Venezuela’s Crisis Slows
Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido said Friday that the opposition’s demand for presidential elections is not negotiable, slowing mediation efforts by Norway aimed at resolving Venezuela’s political crisis
Venezuela plans to reopen borders with Colombia – CNN
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that he plans to reopen the country’s borders with Colombia on Saturday.
Venezuela’s military defectors backed Guaido. Now they’re lost – CNN
Fernando Díaz left his job, his family and his home to join a movement to bring down the government of Nicolás Maduro. Now, the former Venezuelan National Guard sergeant sounds hopeless — and angry. He’s fed up with waiting for the revolution to come, and there’s fatigue in his short, quick sentences.
Venezuelan Refugees And Migrants Top 4 Million, U.N. Says : NPR
The pace of the exodus is escalating, as Venezuela suffers from political chaos, food shortages and hyperinflation. The U.N. says 1 million people have left just since November 2018.
Special Report: They fled Venezuela’s crisis by boat – then vanished – Reuters
A taxi dropped Maroly Bastardo and her two small children by a cemetery not far from the shore in northeast Venezuela. She still had time to change her mind.

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports

 


 

Facebook’s shareholders want Zuckerberg’s dismissal
According to the shareholders, the policy of the company is not strong enough to protect the user’s personal data
Deepfake videos could ‘spark’ violent social unrest – BBC News
Software that can make convincing fake videos could cause social unrest and violence, experts warn.
In the race to detect deepfakes, AI researchers say they are “outgunned” – The Washington Post
Researchers fear it is only a matter of time before the AI-generated fake videos are deployed for maximum damage — to sow confusion, fuel doubt or undermine an opponent, potentially on the eve of a White House vote.
Experts: Spy used AI-generated face to connect with targets
Katie Jones seemed plugged into Washington’s political scene. But Katie Jones doesn’t exist, and
Pope Francis Denounces ‘Culture of Insult’ in the Digital Age
In our polarized world people surround themselves with like-minded people to avoid confronting different ideas, the pope said Sunday.
Pope Francis talks social media, propaganda at Pentecost Mass
In his homily during Pentecost Mass Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, Francis also decried that “the more we use social media, the less social we are becoming.”
Australia vulnerable to political warfare, Defence Chief Angus Campbell warns
Political warfare, including cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns, are a form of masked aggression – and calibrated to fall short of requiring a response.


Watchdog finds 10 ‘critical’ IT security risks in the government
Ten agencies still operate old, mission critical and poorly secured information technology, which the Government Accountability Office deemed ‘critical’ to modernize.
A Customs subcontractor was compromised. Was your info?
A “malicious cyberattack” on an unidentified U.S. Customs and Border Protection subcontractor compromised a number of traveler and license plate photos.
The CBP Theft Is Exactly What Privacy Experts Said Would Happen – Defense One
The more information the government collects, the more attractive that information is to bad actors.
CBP Says Thousands of Traveler Photos Stolen in ‘Malicious Cyber-Attack’ – Defense One
The breach happened at one of the agency’s subcontractors and didn’t involve any data collected under its facial recognition program, officials said.
Under attack: How the DoD can best protect and defend against cyberthreats
Federal agencies, like the Defense Department, can turn the tide to more nimbly detect hackers and prevent future threats, but they must start rethinking now.
4,000 banned devices found on government networks
The Trump Administration and Commerce Department are weighing another ban on a Chinese technology company, Hikivision. However, a data security firm claims devices from previous bans still exist in the public sector.
The new way security factors into acquisitions
Department of Defense leaders said they are willing to pay more for security measures in defense systems bought from contractors.

US Domestic Policy Reports

 


 

Trump may be having second thoughts about Shanahan as defense secretary
People familiar with Trump”s conversations about Patrick Shanahan said he didn’t articulate what is giving him pause about his pick for defense secretary.
Who is really in charge of US space operations? | TheHill
We’ve had seven government organizations involved in space matters, and may recreate the US Space Command and add a Space Force.
‘Space Force’ Shrinks in House Proposal – Defense One
A bipartisan amendment would trim several generals from the new space-focused component.
UPDATED: House Bill Silent on Space Force, Sets Up Debate on Nuke Modernization « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary
House Democrats release a 2020 defense policy bill that requires the Pentagon to write plenty of reports, but eases away from the HASC Chairman’s earlier remarks on nuclear modernization.
Will Trump Object to the Raytheon-United Technologies Merger? – Defense One
After an analyst said Obama-era opposition to consolidation had dissipated, Trump appeared to signal the opposite.
General Dynamics CEO ‘alarmed’ by tech industry reaction to Pentagon
Phebe Novakovic is warning that internal tensions in the United States could be more dangerous than external ones.
Raytheon Technologies Corporation: UTC, Raytheon make marriage official
Combined, the two firms are expected to be the second largest defense contractor in the world.
Raytheon’s Tom Kennedy and UTC’s Greg Hayes on why they are uniting the companies
The two heads of the future Raytheon Technologies Corporation talk with Defense News about the mega-deal that could reshape the defense industry.
Two-star fired from running top secret program office; under multiple IG investigations
Maj. Gen. Dawn Dunlop oversaw the office that managed some of the most highly classified programs in the military.
The US Military Emits More Carbon than Sweden – Defense One
Even as it begins to grapple with climate change, the Defense Department remains the world’s single largest consumer of oil.
These Are the US Military Bases Most Threatened by Climate Change – Defense One
The belated lists arrived just ahead of a GAO report that says the Pentagon is failing to use climate projections in planning.
Trump reveals historic redesign of Air Force One: EXCLUSIVE – ABC News
President Donald Trump shared never-before-seen images of Air Force One’s prospective redesign on Wednesday during an exclusive interview with ABC News.
Trump shares mock-ups of a new Air Force One featuring colors remarkably similar to his private jet – The Washington Post
The president shared designs for the makeover during a television interview broadcast Thursday.
Sikh Airman Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa becomes first allowed to keep beard and turban during Air Force service while on active duty – CBS News
Last year, a female Air Force officer made history as the first to wear a hijab during service and training


Congress wants to create ‘cyber first responders’
The legislation is a companion to a similar bill approved by Senate committee in April.


John Durham seeks interviews with two CIA officers over Russia investigation origins
The Justice Department intends to interview two CIA officers for its review of the origins of the Russia investigation.
Justice Dept. Seeks to Question C.I.A. in Its Own Russia Investigation – The New York Times
The interview plans suggest a focus in part on the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia intervened in 2016 on behalf of the Trump campaign.
Senators question FBI on Russian hack of voting firm
Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election describes how Kremlin-backed spies installed malware on the network of an unnamed company that
Former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul: Donald Trump’s rhetoric “serves Putin’s interests” | Salon.com
Former ambassador Michael McFaul, a target of Putin’s anger, talks about Trump’s strange relationship with Russia
DOJ outlines to Congress its investigation of the investigators
The Justice Department’s investigation of the investigators involved in the Trump-Russia probe will look at actions both by the U.S. government and by foreigners.
Buttigieg Rips Congress Over War Powers – Defense One
Navy vet\’s insurgent campaign has skyrocketed him to 14 percent in an early Iowa poll.
Trump Plans To Meet Putin At G20, But Kremlin Says Meeting Not Yet Confirmed
U.S. President Donald Trump says he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month, although the Kremlin says it has not received confirmati…
Donald Trump throws open 2020 election to foreign spies – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump just made a staggering offer to every foreign spy agency and American enemy: Have at the 2020 election — especially if you have dirt that can help him win.
‘I think I’d take it’: In exclusive interview, Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents – ABC News
In an ABC News exclusive, President Donald Trump said he may not alert the FBI to overtures from foreign governments during the 2020 race.
Donald Trump to ABC: ‘I think I’d take’ foreign info on 2020 rivals
When asked whether he would want that type of interference in the 2020 election, Trump said: “It’s not an interference.”
Trump Says He’d ‘Want To Hear’ Damaging Information From Foreign States About His 2020 Rival
U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he would be willing to accept information from a foreign country about his political opponent in the 2020 election if it was offered, arguing that such beh…

 

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