SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia opens criminal probe over failed rocket launch” – AFP

File Photo of Soyuz Rocket on Launchpad with Gantry, adapted from image at nasa.gov with photo credit: Bill Ingalls; adapted by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.info :: www.stevencwelsh.com

“Russian investigators … opened a criminal probe into a failed rocket launch that caused a two-man crew to make an emergency landing shortly after blast-off to the [International Space Station] …. U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries …. An ‘anomaly’ with the booster led to the voyage … being aborted two minutes in, NASA said. The Russian space industry has suffered a series of problems in recent years, including the loss of a number of satellites and cargo spacecraft. [Roscosmo is headed by] Dmitry Rogozin … appointed by … Putin ….”

Click here for: “Russia opens criminal probe over failed rocket launch” – AFP









SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia Says Syria’s Assad Will Stay and World Has Given Up Trying to Remove Him”

Syria Map

“… Accused by a number of Western nations and their Middle Eastern allies of war crimes, Assad has managed to largely overcome a 2011 rebel and jihadi uprising with the support of Russia and Iran. * * * The United States, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were among the countries to fund efforts to overthrow the Syrian leader. The rise of ultraconservative Sunni Muslim organizations such as the Islamic State … and a sweeping Syrian military comeback … have changed the dynamics ….

Defense Secretary James Mattis [said] in August that the U.S. goal was to ‘move the Syria civil war into the Geneva process so the Syrian people can establish a new government … not led by Assad and give them a chance for a future that Assad has denied them, with overt Russian and Iranian support.’ A document submitted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top diplomats … stressed that their countries would not support Syrian reconstruction efforts ‘before the beginning of political process led by the United Nations to achieve a comprehensive, honest and true political transition that cannot be reversed,’ according to Saudi Arabia’s Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. …”

Click here for: “Russia Says Syria’s Assad Will Stay and World Has Given Up Trying to Remove Him”







SCW NEWSWATCH: “Syrian rebels start to withdraw heavy weapons from Idlib buffer zone” – Reuters

Syria Map

“Syrian Turkey-backed rebel groups began to withdraw heavy weaponry from a demilitarized zone agreed [upon] by Turkey and Russia in northwest Syria on Saturday, rebels said. The Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) rebel alliance said in a statement the process of withdrawing heavy weapons had begun, but the fighters would remain in their positions …. Under the deal … rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of this month … and heavy weaponry must be withdrawn by Oct. 10. The NFL … said … rebels would remain … to assist Turkish troops monitoring and patrolling …. The main jihadist group in the Idlib area, Tahrir al-Sham, has yet to say whether it will comply with the agreement.”

Click here for: “Syrian rebels start to withdraw heavy weapons from Idlib buffer zone” – Reuters







 

SCW NEWSWATCH: “Nearly 200 Unvaccinated Children Sent Home From Schools Across North Dakota” – Newsweek

Medical Symbol

“Nearly 200 children who returned to school unvaccinated have been sent home across North Dakota … * * * One of the new required shots for school children is the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds entering the 11th and 12th grades … [addressing] a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and ‘possibly lead to death or permanent disability within hours of first symptoms’ …. the disease can also have … non-fatal consequences [such as] ‘… lifelong … neurological damage or loss of limbs. …’

Parents can ask for [moral or religious] exemptions …. Children who have been excluded usually return within three days, according to West Fargo Public Schools. … [T]he immunization rate for measles, mumps and rubella … [has a] national median of 94 percent, reported Inforum.”

Click here for: “Nearly 200 Unvaccinated Children Sent Home From Schools Across North Dakota” – Newsweek







SCW RUSSIAWIRE TRANSCRIPT, LINKS, WANTED POSTER: “U.S. Charges Russian GRU Officers with International Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Operations” – DOJ

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, adapted form image at uscourts.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.info ve :: www.stevencwelsh.com

FBI wanted poster and DOJ news release follow further below

Click here for:


In the latest round of U.S. indictments of Russian figures in connection with espionage, hacking, or other covert activities, the U.S. Department of Justice, on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, announced an indictment, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, of Russian GRU military intelligence officers Leksei Sergeyevich Morenets, Evgenii Mikhaylovich Serebriakov, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov and Alexey Valerevich Minin, for conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money.

The Russian hacking and other covert activities were alleged to included activities targeting: international efforts against Russia’s state-sponsored program athletic doping; international efforts to enforce international norms regarding chemical weapons; and Westinghouse in western Pennsylvania.




[TRANSCRIPT OF DOJ NEWS RELEASE FOLLOWS]

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 4, 2018
[justice.gov/opa/pr/us-charges-russian-gru-officers-international-hacking-and-related-influence-and]

U.S. Charges Russian GRU Officers with International Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Operations

Conspirators Included a Russian Intelligence “Close Access” Hacking Team that Traveled Abroad to Compromise Computer Networks Used by Anti-Doping and Sporting Officials and Organizations Investigating Russia’s Use of Chemical Weapons

A grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania has indicted seven defendants, all officers in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, for computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.

According to the indictment, beginning in or around December 2014 and continuing until at least May 2018, the conspiracy conducted persistent and sophisticated computer intrusions affecting U.S. persons, corporate entities, international organizations, and their respective employees located around the world, based on their strategic interest to the Russian government.

Among the goals of the conspiracy was to publicize stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine, retaliate against, and otherwise delegitimize the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.

The charges were announced at a press conference by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Cyber Division, Eric Welling, and Director General Mark Flynn for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“State-sponsored hacking and disinformation campaigns pose serious threats to our security and to our open society, but the Department of Justice is defending against them,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Today we are indicting seven GRU officers for multiple felonies each, including the use of hacking to spread the personal information of hundreds of anti-doping officials and athletes as part of an effort to distract from Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. The defendants in this case allegedly targeted multiple Americans and American entities for hacking, from our national anti-doping agency to the Westinghouse Electric Company near Pittsburgh. We are determined to achieve justice in these cases and we will continue to protect the American people from hackers and disinformation.”

“The investigation leading to the indictments announced t (link is external)oday is the FBI at its best,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The actions of these seven hackers, all working as officials for the Russian government, were criminal, retaliatory, and damaging to innocent victims and the United States’ economy, as well as to world organizations. Their actions extended beyond borders, but so did the FBI’s investigation. We worked closely with our international partners to identify the actors and disrupt their criminal campaign – and today, we are sending this message: The FBI will not permit any government, group, or individual to threaten our people, our country, or our partners. We will work tirelessly to find them, stop them, and bring them to justice.”

“We want the hundreds of victims of these Russian hackers to know that we will do everything we can to hold these criminals accountable for their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Brady.  State actors who target U.S. citizens and companies are no different than any other common criminal:  they will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The defendants, all Russian nationals and residents, are Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, 41, Evgenii Mikhaylovich, Serebriakov, 37, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, 32, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, 30, and Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, 27, who were each assigned to Military Unit 26165, and Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov, 46, and Alexey Valerevich Minin, 46, who were also GRU officers.

The indictment alleges that defendants Yermakov, Malyshev, Badin, and unidentified conspirators, often using fictitious personas and proxy servers, researched victims, sent spearphishing emails, and compiled, used, and monitored malware command and control servers.

When the conspirators’ remote hacking efforts failed to capture log-in credentials, or if the accounts that were successfully compromised did not have the necessary access privileges for the sought-after information, teams of GRU technical intelligence officers, including Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin, traveled to locations around the world where targets were physically located.  Using specialized equipment, and with the remote support of conspirators in Russia, including Yermakov, these close access teams hacked computer networks used by victim organizations or their personnel through Wi-Fi connections, including hotel Wi-Fi networks.  After a successful hacking operation, the close access team transferred such access to conspirators in Russia for exploitation.

Among other instances, the indictment alleges that following a series of high-profile independent investigations starting in 2015, which publicly exposed Russia’s systematic state-sponsored subversion of the drug testing processes prior to, during, and subsequent to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (according to one report, known as the “McLaren Report”), the conspirators began targeting systems used by international anti-doping organizations and officials.  After compromising those systems, the defendants stole credentials, medical records, and other data, including information regarding therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which allow athletes to use otherwise prohibited substances.

Using social media accounts and other infrastructure acquired and maintained by GRU Unit 74455 in Russia, the conspiracy thereafter publicly released selected items of stolen information, in many cases in a manner that did not accurately reflect their original form, under the false auspices of a hacktivist group calling itself the “Fancy Bears’ Hack Team.”  As part of its influence and disinformation efforts, the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team engaged in a concerted effort to draw media attention to the leaks through a proactive outreach campaign.  The conspirators exchanged e-mails and private messages with approximately 186 reporters in an apparent attempt to amplify the exposure and effect of their message.

Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, both of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.  Defendants Morenets, Serebriakov, Yermakov, Malyshev, and Badin are each also charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a consecutive sentence of two years in prison.  Defendant Yermakov is also charged with five counts of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Defendants Yermakov, Malyshev, and Badin are also charged defendants in federal indictment number CR 18-215 in the District of Columbia, and accused of conspiring to gain unauthorized access into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

According to the indictment:

Context of the Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Efforts

In July 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Person Report (the “First McLaren Report”) was released, describing Russia’s systematic state-sponsored subversion of the drug testing process prior to, during, and subsequent to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.  This investigation had the support of advocates for clean sports, including the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES, Canada’s anti-doping agency). Eventually, in some instances only after arbitration rulings by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS/CAS), approximately 111 Russian athletes were excluded from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by a number of international athletics federations, including track-and-field’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).  The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) further imposed a blanket ban of Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympic Games, which were also held in Rio.

Intrusion Activities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Days after the release of the First McLaren Report and the International Olympic Committee’s and IPC’s subsequent decisions regarding the exclusion of  Russian athletes, the conspirators prepared to hack into the networks of WADA, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and TAS/CAS.   The conspirators, including specifically defendants Yermakov and Malyshev, procured spoofed domains (which mimicked legitimate WADA and TAS/CAS domains) and other infrastructure, probed such entities’ networks, and spearphished WADA and USADA employees.  Although Yermakov and Malyshev are both alleged to have prepared to send spearphishing e-mails to TAS/CAS, the indictment does not allege that organization was compromised.

Likely as a result of the conspirators’ failure to capture necessary log-in credentials, or because those victim accounts that were successfully compromised did not have the necessary access privileges for the sought-after information, defendants Morenets and Serebriakov, in at least one instance with the remote support of Yermakov, deployed to Rio to conduct hacking operations targeting and maintaining persistent access to Wi-Fi networks used by anti-doping officials.  As a result of these efforts, in August 2016, the conspirators captured that IOC official’s credentials and thereafter used them, and another set of credentials belonging to the same official to gain unauthorized access to an account in WADA’s ADAMS database and medical and anti-doping related information contained therein. (The broader ADAMS database was not compromised in the intrusion.)

Also in 2016, a senior USADA anti-doping official traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics and Paralympic games.  While there, the USADA official used Wi-Fi at the hotel and other Wi-Fi access points in Rio to remotely access USADA’s computer systems and conduct official business.  While the USADA official was in Rio, conspirators successfully compromised the credentials for his or her USADA email account, which included summaries of athlete test results and prescribed medications.

Intrusion Activities in Lausanne, Switzerland

In mid-September 2016, WADA hosted an anti-doping conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.  On September 18, 2016, defendants Morenets and Serebriakov traveled to Lausanne with equipment used in close access Wi-Fi compromises.  On or about September 19, 2016, Morenets and Serebriakov compromised the Wi-Fi network of a hotel hosting the conference and leveraged that access to compromise the laptop and credentials of a senior CCES official staying at the hotel. Other conspirators thereafter used the stolen credentials to compromise CCES’s networks in Canada, using a tool used to extract hashed passwords, the metadata of which indicated it was compiled by Badin.

Intrusion Targeting Anti-Doping Officials at Sporting Federations

In December 2016 and January 2017, conspirators successfully compromised the networks of IAAF and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) and targeted computers and accounts used by each organization’s top anti-doping official.  Among the data stolen from such officials were keylogs, file directories, anti-doping policies and strategies, lab results, medical reports, contracts with doctors and medical testing labs, information about medical testing procedures, and TUEs.

Related GRU Influence and Disinformation Operations

On September 12, 2016, shortly after the compromise of the IOC official’s ADAMS credentials, but before the compromise of USADA’s and CCES’s networks, conspirators claiming to be the hacktivist group Fancy Bears’ Hack Team used online accounts and other infrastructure procured and managed by Unit 74455, as well as the website fancybears.net, to publicly release TUEs, other medical information, and emails stolen from anti-doping officials at WADA, USADA, CCES, IAAF, FIFA, and approximately 35 other anti-doping agencies or sporting organizations.  In some instances, the WADA documents were modified from their original form.  Ultimately, the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team released stolen information that included private or medical information of approximately 250 athletes from almost 30 countries.

The conspirators’ release of the stolen information was, in some instances, accompanied by posts and other communications that parroted or supported themes that the Russian government had used in its official narrative regarding the anti-doping agencies’ investigative findings.  From 2016 through 2018, the conspirators engaged in a proactive outreach campaign, using Twitter and e-mail to communicate with approximately 186 reporters about the stolen information.  After articles were published, conspirators used the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team social media accounts to draw attention to the articles in an attempt to amplify the exposure and effect of their message.

Other Targets of the Conspiracy

The conspiracy is also alleged to have targeted other entities in the Western District of Pennsylvania and abroad that were of interest to the Russian government.  For example, as early as November 20, 2014, Yermakov performed reconnaissance of Westinghouse Electric Company’s (WEC) networks and personnel.  In the following months, Yermakov and conspirators created a fake WEC domain and sent spearphishing emails to WEC employees’ work and personal email accounts, which were designed to harvest the employees’ log-in credentials.

More recently, in April 2018, Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin, all using diplomatic passports, traveled to The Hague in the Netherlands in furtherance of another close access operation targeting the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) computer networks through Wi-Fi connections.  All four GRU officers intended to travel thereafter to Spiez, Switzerland, to target the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory, an accredited laboratory of the OPCW which was analyzing military chemical agents, including the chemical agent that the United Kingdom authorities connected to the poisoning of a former GRU officer in that country.  However, Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin were disrupted during their OPCW hacking operation by the Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (MIVD), the Dutch defense intelligence service.  As part of this disruption, Morenet’s and Serebriakov’s abandoned the Wi-Fi compromise equipment, which they had placed in the trunk of a rental car parked adjacent to the OPCW property.  Data obtained from at least one item of this equipment confirmed its operational use at multiple locations around the world, including connections to the Wi-Fi network of the CCES official’s hotel in Switzerland (the dates the conspirators conducted the Wi-Fi compromise of the senior CCES official’s laptop at the same hotel), and at another hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December 2017.

***

In connection with the unsealing of the indictment, and in an effort to limit further exposure of the private lives of victim athletes, the FBI seized the fancybears.net and fancybears.org domains pursuant to court orders issued on October 3, 2018, in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  Moreover, the maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence of a defendant will be determined by the assigned judge.

The FBI, led by the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Field Offices, conducted the investigation that resulted in charges announced today.  The FBI’s investigation was assisted by a parallel, independent Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation. This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance throughout this investigation, as did the MIVD, the Government of the Netherlands, Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General, the U.K.’s National Security and Intelligence Agencies, and many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés and other foreign authorities around the world.

Note: More information can be found at [justice.gov/opa/documents-and-resources-october-4-2018-press-conference]

National Security Division (NSD)
Press Release Number:
18 – 1296






 

 

SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russian spies accused of targeting watchdog investigating UK chemical attacks, probe into MH17 crash[; U.S. indicts Russian military intelligence figures” – Fox News

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code, adapted from image at ornl.gov

“Russia’s military spy service has been behind a wave of massive cyber attacks … with targets ranging from the international chemical weapons watchdog group to the probe into the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine, officials said Thursday. … the [UK] National Cyber Security Centre … [indicated] that Russia’s GRU has engaged in ‘indiscriminate and reckless’ cyber attacks … target[ing] ‘political institutions, businesses, media, and sport.’ * * * ‘… demonstrat[ing] their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms … with a feeling of impunity and without consequences,’ U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. … [T]he cyber attacks … [are said to] include the 2016 hack of the [DNC] … published … by WikiLeaks, and the leaking of top athletes’ medical records. Also on Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations either remotely or … ‘on-site’ ….

[The] indictment … said that the GRU targeted … hacking victims … [for] support[ing] a ban on Russian athletes … and … condemn[ing] Russia’s state-sponsored … doping …. Prosecutors said the Russian spies also targeted a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company and an international organization … investigating chemical weapons in Syria and the poisoning of a former GRU officer.”

Click here for: “Russian spies accused of targeting watchdog investigating UK chemical attacks, probe into MH17 crash” – Fox News



Kremlin and St. Basil's at Night





SCW NEWSWATCH & VIDEO: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy

Oil Wells and Sunset

“Russia and Saudi Arabia are pumping an extra 1 million barrels a day of oil and could do even more. Yet the market [has had only a muted price reaction]. After their September meeting … spurred prices to a four-year high, the world’s two largest oil exporters sought … to ease … price worries of consumers, and the U.S. president. Russia is pumping record volumes of crude … Saudi Arabia is almost there ….

… Trump has been blaming [OPEC] for rising crude prices ever since he [ended] the [Iran] nuclear agreement … and reimpose[d] sanctions. Last month, the group appeared to rebuff his calls for a rapid production increase to offset the drop in Iranian shipments, prompting a surge in prices and even harsher rhetoric. … Russia … already broke its post-Soviet production record last month [and] could add another 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day of supply within a ‘few months,’ according to Energy Minister Alexander Novak. The oil price is … probably ‘a bit too high,’ he said ….”

Click here for: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy










SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia begins missile system delivery to Syria, warns West on peace talks” – Reuters

Syria Map

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday Moscow had started delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria … Russia, along with Iran, has helped Assad recover huge amounts of lost territory in Syria without persuading him to agree to any political reforms. It has also pushed its own talks with Iran and Turkey, known as the Astana process.

… Some diplomats have said [an] Israeli incident [involving Syria shooting down a Russian plane during an incursion by Israeli jets] and a Turkish-Russian deal to suspend an offensive on the last rebel-held stronghold of Idlib could provide a window to push for … U.N. Security Council [UNSC] resolution 2254 [aiming to end the] conflict in Syria. The [UNSC] … has mandated [that] U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura … get a deal on a new constitution, new elections and a reform of Syria’s governance. …”

Click here for: “Russia begins missile system delivery to Syria, warns West on peace talks” – Reuters







SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review

Asia Map, adapted from image at cia.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

“In the largest Russian military exercise since the height of the Cold War, Moscow … [in September] deploy[ed] 300,000 troops, 900 tanks and 1,000 aircraft in central and eastern Russia. … [for] ‘Vostok 2018,’ or East Exercise 2018 …. for the first time ever, Chinese military forces … participate[d], with plans to send[] 3,200 troops and 30 aircraft over the border into eastern Russia. … highlight[ing] two important, seemingly contradictory [aspects of] the relationship between China and Russia. First, the appearance of military cooperation masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion below the surface. … [Yet] strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward. Vostok 2018 represents the latest in a series of combined Chinese-Russian military exercises stretching back more than a decade. Their militaries have been training together since 2005, and China and Russia have been holding joint naval exercises every year since 2012, including near each other’s respective hotspots. Last year, China sent three naval ships to its first jointly held exercise with Russian forces in the Baltic Sea. In 2016, the two navies carried out a joint exercise in the South China Sea … [after] a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejecting China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. Warm political statements by top Chinese and Russian leaders have complemented these military actions. …”

Click here for: “Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties” – RAND/World Politics Review/Timothy R. Heath or click here for longer version







 

 

SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russian Communists Say Election Stolen by Pro-Putin Candidate” – Reuters

Map of Russian Regions, adapted from image at moscow.usembassy.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

“… With 95 percent of votes counted on Sunday night, Kremlin-backed United Russia incumbent Andrei Tarasenko was trailing his Communist rival by around 5 percent. But on Monday, the local election commission said Tarasenko had won by just over 1 percent, an unlikely turnaround that the Communists said was evidence of rigging. The scandal is awkward for Putin, who met Tarasenko a week ago and told him that ‘everything will be OK.’ The comment was widely seen as a personal endorsement of Tarasenko, whom Putin appointed acting governor last year, at a time when Putin’s own ratings are under pressure from plans to raise the pension age. … A week ago in the Primorsky Region, which includes the Pacific port of Vladivostok, 6,400 km (4,000 miles) east of Moscow, Tarasenko failed to pass the 50-percent threshold for an outright win. …”

Click here for: “Russian Communists Say Election Stolen by Pro-Putin Candidate” – Reuters





 

SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia: Runoffs in Four Regional Races Reveal the Kremlin’s Vulnerability” [Excerpt] – Stratfor

Map of Russia with Russian Flag

“… Putin … in his fourth and perhaps final term as Russia’s president, faced a key political test in regional elections …. though the ruling party, United Russia, won most of the races – which included gubernatorial elections in 22 regions, legislative elections in 16 regions and a mayoral election in Moscow – it faced stiffer competition and more unrest than usual. In a record four regions, the ruling party’s gubernatorial candidates failed to obtain a simple majority … and will stand in runoff elections Sept. 23. Their opponents are candidates from the Communist and Liberal Democratic parties, registered political parties that work within Russia’s political system and don’t pose a strong threat to Putin’s government. Even so, the result is troubling for the ruling party and practically unprecedented ….  The main force behind United Russia’s comparatively lackluster performance in the polls is the Kremlin’s plan to increase the retirement age. …”

Click here for: “Russia: Runoffs in Four Regional Races Reveal the Kremlin’s Vulnerability” – Stratfor.com







 

SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “A Dossier Debunking; His lawyer says the Steele claims about Michael Cohen are false” – Wall Street Journal Editorial

Maps of Czech Republic and Environs, adapted from images at CIA.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: stevencwelsh.com :: stevencwelsh.info

“Michael Cohen’s accusations have replaced Russian collusion as Washington’s reason-du-jour to impeach Donald Trump …. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, confirmed last week that Cohen has never been to Prague in the Czech Republic. … the Steele dossier … commissioned by oppo-research firm Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign and used by the FBI in its Trump investigation. … claims … Cohen traveled to Prague in August or September of 2016 to discuss with Kremlin officials how to make ‘cash payments’ to hackers of the Clinton campaign. … Cohen has … offered his passport as proof. …”

Click here for: “A Dossier Debunking; His lawyer says the Steele claims about Michael Cohen are false” – Wall Street Journal Editorial







SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia Offers 62-mile Buffer Between Iranian Forces and Israel-Syria Border, Senior Official Says; Israel is demanding that long-range weapons that could circumvent such a buffer zone also be withdrawn” – Haaretz

Syria Map

“Russia is working to ensure the removal of Iranian forces to 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from the Golan Heights, but Israel is demanding that long-range weapons that could circumvent such a buffer zone also be withdrawn, a senior Israeli official said … after a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Russian officials. The official said that Israel prefers to act Map of Israel and Environsnow rather than wait until Iran has ‘hundreds and thousands of missiles’ in Syria, and that the government will not allow Iran ‘to turn Syria into another Lebanon.’
* * *
[Separately,] Mike Pompeo denounced Iran’s leaders as a ‘mafia’ and promised unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government. …”



Click here for: “Russia Offers 62-mile Buffer Between Iranian Forces and Israel-Syria Border, Senior Official Says; Israel is demanding that long-range weapons that could circumvent such a buffer zone also be withdrawn” – Haaretz

 



SCW NEWSWATCH: “A storm is brewing between Trump, Mike Pompeo, and Iran” – The Washington Examiner

Iran Map

“The Trump administration’s war of words against Iran reflects a widening diplomatic chasm, and comments from four leaders over the past two days make it clear that tensions are rising dramatically. … [Iranian] President Hassan Rouhani …. Ayatollah Khamenei …. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo …. “

* * *

* * *

Click here for: “A storm is brewing between Trump, Mike Pompeo, and Iran” – The Washington Examiner





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SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia says it would respond if Sweden, Finland drawn into NATO: Ifax” – Reuters

Sergei Shoigu file photo, adapted from image at defense.gov by Steven C. Welsh, www.stevencwelsh.info :: www.stevencwelsh.com

“Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday Moscow would respond if Sweden and Finland were drawn into the NATO alliance and that such expansion would undermine global security, the Interfax news agency reported. …”

Click here for: “Russia says it would respond if Sweden, Finland drawn into NATO: Ifax” – Reuters

[featured image is file photo from another occasion]





 

NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Protests Breakout in Russia” – Bloomberg

Kremlin Aerial View

“Russia’s Putin won … March’s election[, ostensibly by large margin,] amid complaints from critics. With neighboring Armenia offering an example of the potential threat, Russian authorities weren’t taking any chances …”











NEWSWATCH: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Is Detained Amid Anti-Putin Protests; Demonstrations are held across #Russia, with more than 1,000 protesters held by police” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas Grove

Russian Map and Flag

“Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was detained Saturday together with as many as a thousand of his supporters across the country in protests against the start of … Putin’s fourth term …. The demonstrations, marked by uncharacteristic violence in Moscow, were an attempt by critics of … Putin to spark momentum surrounding their movement, which had faded somewhat since March’s presidential election. … [The] presidential inauguration is planned for Monday. …”

Click here for: “Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Is Detained Amid Anti-Putin Protests; Demonstrations are held across Russia, with more than 1,000 protesters held by police” – Wall Street Journal/Thomas Grove







NEWSWATCH: “Hunt for Golden State Killer Suspect Used Genealogy Websites; Ancestry and 23andMe say they weren’t involved in probe that tapped genetic profiles online” – Wall Street Journal/Zusha Elinson

DNA file image, adapted from image at nnml.gov

“After more than 40 years … investigators looking for the elusive Golden State Killer … got their big break [using] genealogy websites …. Police say [72-year-old former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo] was responsible for at least 12 homicides and 45 rapes … between 1976 and 1986. Investigators us[ing] DNA from one of those crime scenes … compar[ing] it with genetic profiles on online genealogy sites …. found a relative of the suspect …. then looked at online family trees to narrow down the suspect ….”

Click here for: “Hunt for Golden State Killer Suspect Used Genealogy Websites; Ancestry and 23andMe say they weren’t involved in probe that tapped genetic profiles online” – Wall Street Journal/Zusha Elinson

 





NEWSWATCH: “In School Shootings, Most Guns Come From Home; Statistics suggest that a lack of gun safety at home also has played a big role in school shootings” – Wall Street Journal/Tawnell D. Hobbs

File Photo of Two AR-15 Rifles and Two Clips, adapted from image at cbp.gov

“… in nearly three decades of American mass school shootings … killers mostly use guns owned by a family member …. The Wall Street Journal reviewed … school shootings with at least three victims dead or injured since 1990 and found 32. Most shooters are white male teenagers. In 25 … cases … shooters were teenagers or younger. In 17 of the 20 of those cases where details were available on where the shooter got the gun, they were sourced at home … a few also [got] … weapons from relatives. About 42% of U.S. adults say they live in households with a gun ….”

Click here for: “In School Shootings, Most Guns Come From Home; Statistics suggest that a lack of gun safety at home also has played a big role in school shootings” – Wall Street Journal/Tawnell D. Hobbs





 

NEWSWATCH: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters – SCW RUSSIA WIRE

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code, adapted from image at ornl.gov

“The Trump administration … blamed the Russian government for … cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid … the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure. … Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing …. a ‘multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors’ had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities ‘where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.’  * * *  … Thursday’s alert provided a link to an analysis by … Symantec last fall that said a group it had dubbed Dragonfly had targeted energy companies in the United States and Europe and in some cases broke into the core systems that control the companies’ operations. …”

Click here for: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters







SCW RUSSIA WIRE NEWSWATCH: “Sudan/Russian Nuclear Power Cooperation Poses Proliferation Risks”- Institute for Science and International Security/David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Allison Lach, Bridget Leahy, Andrea Stricker

Sudan Flag, Africa Map Highlighting Sudan, Map of Sudan and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Reuters reported on March 13, 2018 that Russia has agreed to sign a ‘roadmap’ with Sudan on building nuclear power stations. However, Sudan has poor export controls, no adherence to nuclear power safety or nuclear terrorism conventions, and weak safeguards standards. Its neighbors also maintain poor implementation of these preventions against nuclear material and commodity theft or diversion. Russia should not build nuclear reactors in Sudan. Sudan should instead bolster its infrastructure so that it can at some point in the future underpin a well safeguarded nuclear power program backed by robust, internationally-acceptable strategic export controls.”

Click here for: “Sudan/Russian Nuclear Power Cooperation Poses Proliferation Risks”- Institute for Science and International Security/David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Allison Lach, Bridget Leahy, Andrea Stricker







SCW RUSSIA WIRE NEWSWATCH: “Britain says former Russian spy poisoned with nerve agent” – Reuters/Toby Melville, Estelle Shirbon, Kate Kelland, Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden, Gareth Jones

“A nerve agent was used to deliberately poison a former Russian double agent and his daughter, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer said …. Sergei Skripal, once a colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found slumped unconscious on a bench … in the southern English city of Salisbury … Both remain critically ill and a police officer who attended the scene is also in a serious condition in hospital. * * * … a U.S. security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the main line of police inquiry was that Russians may have used the substance against Skripal in revenge …. Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest by Russian authorities in 2004. … given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies caught in the West as part of a Cold War-style spy swap ….”

Click here for: “Britain says former Russian spy poisoned with nerve agent” – Reuters/Toby Melville, Estelle Shirbon, Kate Kelland, Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden, Gareth Jones







SCW RUSSIA WIRE NEWSWATCH: “Strategic Warning on NATO’s Eastern Flank Pitfalls, Prospects, and Limits” – RAND/Mark R. Cozad

Map of Former Soviet Union, CIS, Western Portion, adapted from image at cia.gov

“Since 2008, Russia’s military has embarked on an extensive modernization program designed to overcome shortfalls in readiness, competence, sustainability, and deployability. These and changes in logistics and operational capability have raised concerns about the Intelligence Community’s (IC’s) ability to warn of future Russian aggression. Achieving timely warning has proven extremely difficult, for a variety of reasons, in large part because of a lack of insight into Russian leadership intentions.”



Click here for Introductory Summary: “Strategic Warning on NATO’s Eastern Flank Pitfalls, Prospects, and Limits” – RAND/Mark R. Cozad

Click here for Full PDF of Report: “Strategic Warning on NATO’s Eastern Flank Pitfalls, Prospects, and Limits” – RAND/Mark R. Cozad



Introductory Summary:



Full PDF:





NEWSWATCH: “Turkey Chooses Russia Over NATO for Missile Defense” – Bloomberg/ Selcan Hacaoglu

Turkey Satellite Photo adapted from image at nasa.gov

Turkey has agreed to pay $2.5 billion to acquire Russia’s most advanced missile defense system, a senior Turkish official said, in a deal that signals a turn away from the NATO military alliance that has anchored Turkey to the West for more than six decades.

The preliminary agreement sees Turkey receiving two S-400 missile batteries from Russia within the next year, and then producing another two inside Turkey, …. A spokesman for Russia’s arms-export company Rosoboronexport OJSC said he couldn’t immediately comment on details of a deal with Turkey. * * * Disagreements between Turkey, which has the second-largest army by personnel numbers in NATO, and the U.S., the bloc’s biggest military, have also impacted business.  …

Click here for: “Turkey Chooses Russia Over NATO for Missile Defense” – Bloomberg/ Selcan Hacaoglu







NEWSWATCH: “Russia squares up to Boeing, Airbus with maiden jet flight” – Reuters

Map of Russia with Russian Flag

“#Russia carried out the maiden flight of its new MS-21 medium-range passenger plane … its first post-Soviet foray into production of a mainline commercial aircraft which it hopes will rival those of its Western competitors. … manufacturer Irkut Corporation … and … state-controlled parent company United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) … [announced] a 30-minute flight at … 1,000 meters … [and] 300 km an hour. Squeezed by Western #sanctions over its role in the #Ukraine crisis, Russia is trying to rejuvenate domestic industrial production to make the country less dependant on foreign firms. …”

Click here for “Russia squares up to Boeing, Airbus with maiden jet flight” – Reuters 







NEWSWATCH: “Death a grim chapter in storied history of Indianapolis 500” – AP

Race Car in Pits File Photo

[reposted from 2016]

“Yes, the Indy 500 is ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’ … Mario and Dario and milk and balloons have built an event steeped in festive tradition … it prepares to celebrate its centennial …. But the race is also marked by tragedy. … 12 laps into the inaugural race in 1911, mechanic Sam Dickson became the first to die and he certainly wasn’t the last.

Drivers, mechanics, fans, even a little boy standing across the street … all are part of the 500’s saddest chapter, painful memories of just how dangerous racing on the bricks and asphalt has been …. At least 66 people have died because of auto racing since 1909 at the site, including 40 drivers, 14 mechanics and nine spectators. The 1930s was by far the deadliest decade with 21 deaths, while the ’50s and ’60s each saw eight people perish.

Click here for AP: “Death a grim chapter in storied history of Indianapolis 500”





VIDEO NEWSWATCH: “Anti-Putin Protesters Get a Smart Phone App to Help Get Out of Jail” – Reuters/ U.S. News & World Report/ Parniyan Zemaryalai/ Parniyan Zemaryalai 4.26.17

Kremlin and Saint Basil's At Night

“Anti-#Kremlin protesters who run the regular risk of being detained by the police … [can utilize a] #smartphone app … to instantly inform others where and when they have been arrested.  #Russia faces a presidential election next year … and was last month shaken by large anti-government protests. More are planned. The result of a collaboration between a Russian firm, a human rights group and an opposition movement, the notification system, called #RedButton, automatically transmits the location and emergency contact details of a detained protester. … [to] allow others to act quickly to help free them as it will include details of the police station where the individual is being held. … #Putin remains … the most popular politician in Russia, but opponents argue he keeps a check on dissent through control of the media, especially television, and limiting protest. …”





Created in St. Petersburg by Alexander Litreev, the application’s development received support from the Open Russia foundation, founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and OVD-Info, a human rights organization that monitors detentions.

Click here for: “Anti-Putin Protesters Get a Smart Phone App to Help Get Out of Jail” – Reuters/ U.S. News & World Report 4.26.17





VIDEO NEWSWATCH: “Syria, Russia Would Be ‘Insane’ to Retaliate Over U.S. Airstrikes, Former U.S. Ambassador Says” – Fox News

Syria Map

“… In the wake of the airstrikes on a military base in Syria after a deadly chemical attack on civilians, Russia announced it was suspending cooperation of its communication link with the U.S. that protects pilots flying missions over the war-torn country. ‘I think that is a major mistake on the part of Moscow… they’re actually putting their own forces in greater jeopardy,’ Crocker said. ‘It would be to Moscow’s benefit to have these basic lines  of communication. So they will lose more than we will.’ …”

Click here for: “Syria, Russia Would Be ‘Insane’ to Retaliate Over US Airstrikes, Former US Ambassador Says” – Fox News





NEWSWATCH: “Russian naval activity in Europe exceeds Cold War levels: U.S. admiral” – Reuters

File Photo of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, Steven C. Welsh adaptation of U.S. Navy Photo at defense.gov

“Recent Russian naval activity in Europe exceeds levels seen during the Cold War, a top U.S. and NATO military officer said, voicing concern that the distributed nature of the deployments could end up ‘splitting and distracting’ the transatlantic alliance. Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, who heads NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples and commands U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, said Russia had clearly stepped up its naval actions in recent years although the size of its navy was smaller now ….”

Click here for: “Russian naval activity in Europe exceeds Cold War levels: U.S. admiral” – Reuters







[featured image is file photo]

NEWSWATCH: “Trump Orders Missile Attack in Retaliation for Syrian Chemical Strikes” –

U.S. Navy Cruise Missile Fired at Night, adapted from image at defense.gov, Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price

VIDEO: U.S. strikes in #Syria launched from USS Porter –  The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the #Mediterranean Sea. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. Navy video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ford Williams



(Department of Defense – Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity – WASHINGTON, April 6, 2017 – article also appeared at defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1144601/trump-orders-missile-attack-in-retaliation-for-syrian-chemical-strikes)

The United States fired Tomahawk missiles into Syria today in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.

President Donald J. Trump ordered the attack on Al-Shayrat Air Base, the base from which the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province was launched. The missiles were launched from U.S. Navy ships in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile while conducting naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price

The attack is in retaliation for the Syrian dictator for using banned chemical agents in the April 4 attack.

“Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” Trump said in a statement to the nation. “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Vital National Security Interest

Trump ordered the targeted military strike on the airfield that launched the attack. “It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” the president said.
No one disputes that Syria used banned chemical weapons of the people of Idlib, he said, adding that this is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria also ignored United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically,” Trump said. “As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.”
Trump called on all civilized nations to join the United States in seeking an end to the slaughter in Syria, and to end the threat terrorism poses in the blighted nation.



Details of Strike

Shortly after the president’s address, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis issued a statement providing details of the strike. It took place at about 8:40 p.m. EDT — 4:40 a.m.  April 7 in Syria, he said.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile while conducting naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price

The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, or TLAMs, launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Davis said in his statement. A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.
“As always,” Davis said, “the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict.  Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.”

The strike was “a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act,” the Pentagon spokesman said, noting that Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces. The U.S. intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the April 4 chemical weapons attack, he added, and the strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.

Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line, Davis said, and U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel at the airfield.

“We are assessing the results of the strike,” Davis said. “Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.”



NEWSWATCH: “Potential ‘smoking gun’ showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says” – Fox News

White House File Photo
“Republican congressional investigators expect a potential ‘smoking gun’ establishing that the #Obama administration spied on the #Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House #Intelligence Committee this week …. Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms … came from multiple sources …. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretapped him …. The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources. The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, … the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration. …”

Click here for: “Potential ‘smoking gun’ showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says” – Fox News







NEWSWATCH: “Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States; What it Takes to Win” – RAND/David A. Shlapak/Congressional Testimony

Map of Baltics, Eastern Europe, Russia, Environs

Testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces on March 1, 2017.

“… the United States and … NATO[] confront three related challenges in deterring Russian aggression in the Baltics (and, more generally, wherever NATO territory may be threatened). Solving all three of these is vital to achieving core American objectives in Europe … since 1945: ensure peace and stability, support democratic and market forces, and prevent the use of armed force to coerce the free people of Europe or to alter established borders. … ‘winning’ means putting in place the wherewithal to effectively deter any Russian adventurism aimed at NATO member states by being prepared to deny Moscow its objectives without escalating to the first use of nuclear weapons. …”









NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Why foreign companies are shutting shop in #China” – CNBC

China Map

“U.S.-based Seagate, the world’s biggest maker of hard disk drives, closed its factory in Suzhou near Shanghai last month with the loss of 2,000 jobs, in a move that has rekindled fears that #China is becoming increasingly hostile towards foreign firms operating in the country. … Seagate joined a spate of foreign companies to shutter operations in China in recent years, for various reasons, but most have attributed the country’s high tax regime, rising labor costs and fierce competition from domestic companies. Panasonic, for instance, stopped all its manufacturing of televisions in the country in 2015 after 37 years of operating in China. …”

Click here for: “Why foreign companies are shutting shop in China” – CNBC/South China Morning Post







NEWSWATCH: “Gingrich: ‘I want to be the general planner’ of Trump administration” – Fox News

Newt Gingrich Painting

“Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich … would prefer an advisory position to President-elect Donald Trump as opposed to a Cabinet …. ‘I want to be the general planner, looking out over the next eight years and trying to design how we fundamentally reshape the federal government,’ Gingrich told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly …. ‘That’s a very broad job. The closest analogy probably is [New Deal architect] Harry Hopkins and the work he did for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.’

Click here for Fox News: “Gingrich: ‘I want to be the general planner’ of Trump administration”





 

NEWSWATCH: “Trump, Russia’s Putin talk about Syria, icy relations in phone call” – UPI

Kremlin, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… #Trump and … #Putin spent some time on the telephone Monday, as the pair discussed hopes that the two nations can thaw icy relations …. The #Kremlin confirmed … both Trump and Putin agreed that U.S.-#Russian relations are presently at an ‘unsatisfactory’ level.

Trump’s campaign said Putin had called to offer his congratulations on winning the election and the two began discussing a range of issues. ….

Syria and global terrorism also reportedly were among the topics of discussion.

Click here for UPI: “Trump, Russia’s Putin talk about Syria, icy relations in phone call”





 

NEWSWATCH: “Russia poised to unleash new Syria strikes from the sea, US officials say” – Fox News

File Photo of Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, Steven C. Welsh adaptation of U.S. Navy Photo at defense.gov

Russia is preparing to carry out a new round of strikes targeting Syria from a group of warships … in the eastern Mediterranean … two U.S. defense officials [said] …. The Russian armada is centered around a Soviet-era aircraft carrier and includes three destroyers capable of launching cruise [missiles] …. Russian jets were seen taking off with weapons visible under their wings from Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, part of the flotilla located near Syria …. It marked the first time Russia had conducted armed flight operations from the aircraft carrier since leaving port ….

Click here for Fox News: “Russia poised to unleash new Syria strikes from the sea, US officials say”



Syria Map





NEWSWATCH: “From Moscow: Russian Politicians and Pundits Shocked by Trump Election” – Defense News

Kremlin, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

… In a telegram sent to Trump on Wednesday, Putin expressed hope that the incoming U.S. president would prove a constructive partner in pulling U.S.-Russia relations back from the brink. Trump’s election, the telegram read, should ‘lead to constructive dialogue between Moscow and Washington based on equality and respect.’ … at a ceremony at the Kremlin for foreign ambassadors, Putin spoke of Trump’s promises on the campaign trail to restore relations with Russia.

Click here for Defense News: “From Moscow: Russian Politicians and Pundits Shocked by Trump Election”





 

NEWSWATCH: “An ‘avalanche of evidence’ may now bury Hillary” – Fox News ….. #CLINTON #FBI

Hillary Rodham Clinton file photo, during raid on Bin Laden

“… Sources tell Fox News’s Bret Baier that the #FBI has uncovered an ‘avalanche of evidence’ in the #Clinton Foundation investigation. … ‘actively and aggressively pursuing this case,’ calling it a ‘very high priority.’ … with newly discovered email evidence and additional documents revealed by WikiLeaks, these sources say that agents will likely try to get #Huma Abedin and others to cooperate in an effort to bring criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. … if Clinton is elected president … but thereafter indicted …. She could resign before or after inauguration …. #Obama could pardon her before he departs …. Clinton, as president, could try to invoke broad constitutional immunity from prosecution, delaying her criminal trial until after she leaves office. Or she could pardon herself. … all of that may not matter much if a Republican House of Representatives moves to impeach her. Neither immunity nor pardons apply to the ultimate constitutional remedy of impeachment. … Americans will again be forced to suffer through another impeachment horror show. But Hillary may not be able to beat the rap the way her husband did back in 1999 when he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. ….”

Click here for Fox News: “An “avalanche of evidence” may now bury Hillary”





NEWSWATCH: “Planned Parenthood’s Legal Fight To Kill Babies With Down Syndrome” – Daily Signal

Supreme Court file photo

As … Hillary #Clinton and #Hollywood continue to deceitfully prop up #PlannedParenthood … under the guise of women’s ‘health,’ the #abortion mill is … pursuing a legal battle … to kill unborn babies with Down Syndrome. … team[ing] up with the American Civil Liberties Union to try to have an Indiana law signed by Governor Mike Pence, which prohibits abortion for reasons of #race, #sex or genetic defect such as #DownSyndrome, thrown out. … [to be] heard by pro-abortion Obama-appointee Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. In July, Pratt granted the abortion mill’s request and blocked the law from being enforced. … House Bill 1337 also requires aborted or miscarried babies’ bodies to be disposed via humane practices of cremation or burial. …

Click here for Daily Signal Wire: “Planned Parenthood’s Legal Fight To Kill Babies With Down Syndrome”

[featured image is file photo]



NEWSWATCH: “Trump Led Clinton By 1 Point Going Into Debate — IBD/TIPP Poll” – Investor’s Business Daily

White House File Photo

Even before Donald Trump’s strong showing besting Hillary Rodham Clinton in their final presidential debate, Investor’s Business Daily already was reporting Trump pulling ahead of Rodham Clinton in the polls, in what has been turning into a four-way race between Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Green Party.



After more than a week of blistering attacks from Democrats, celebrities and the press, Donald Trump has managed to pull ahead of Hillary Clinton by a 1.3 percentage point margin — 41.3% to 40% — in a four-way matchup, according to the new IBD/TIPP poll released today.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 7.6% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein got 5.5%. The results are the first in the IBD/TIPP presidential tracking poll. Daily updates start Thursday and will continue until the election.



Click here for Investor’s Business Daily: “Trump Leads Clinton By 1 Point Going Into Debate — IBD/TIPP Poll”



NEWSWATCH: “Russian aircraft believed to hit Syria convoy, U.S. officials say” – Reuters

Syria Map

The United States believes two Russian aircraft attacked an aid convoy near Aleppo in a strike that shattered a one-week truce …. Despite the military blame game over Monday’s deadly attack, diplomats struggled to save the U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement …. The incident, in which 18 trucks from a 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed, looked likely to deal a death blow to diplomatic efforts to halt [the] civil war …. Two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes were in the skies above the aid convoy at the exact time it was struck …. The Syrian Red Crescent said the head of one of its local offices and ‘around 20 civilians’ had been killed … other death tolls differed. The attack prompted the United Nations to suspend all aid shipments into Syria. …

Click here for Reuters: “Russian aircraft believed to hit Syria convoy, U.S. officials say”





 

NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s hypocrisy laid bare” – The Australian

Syria Map

The Australian, in an editorial, addresses Russia’s reaction to a U.S.-led airstrike that apparently hit some Syrian forces, including accusations that the United States is in league with the so-called Islamic State.  Doubts are raised about the sincerity of Russia’s involvement with a would-be ceasefire.

… precise circumstances surrounding the botched U.S.-led coalition airstrike that killed and wounded Syrian soldiers in the mistaken belief they were Islamic State fighters have yet to be established. … we must not lose sight of the gross hypocrisy being exhibited by … Putin’s Russia as it seeks to exploit the tragedy …. posturing and finger-pointing … that contrasts with its callous belligerence and indolence after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine two years ago with the loss of 298 lives. … the Kremlin is all action on behalf of its surrogate, the murderous Assad regime. Preposterously, Moscow claims the misdirected airstrike shows ‘direct connivance’ by the coalition with Islamic State. ‘We are reaching a really terrifying conclusion for the whole world … that the White House (and, presumably, its allies) is defending Islamic State … there can be no doubt about that,’ Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement that beggars belief given Moscow last week signed a ceasefire agreement, along with the US. … Moscow has vetoed or undermined every proposed UN Security Council resolution that might have helped end the horrifying civil war and … appalling atrocities ….





NEWSWATCH: “Congress Increasingly Concerned About Russian Election Meddling” – Roll Call

Artist's Rendition of Shadowy Seen with Men in Dark Suits and Hats, with One Carrying Briefcase

Multiple reports have cited ties between Russian entities and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, and on Wednesday House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said in a CNN interview that the Republican National Committee had been hacked as well, though the Texas congressman quickly backpedaled, saying he ‘misspoke.’

Click here for Roll Call: “Congress Increasingly Concerned About Russian Election Meddling”





“Russia revives Soviet-era psychiatric punishment: Crimean Tatars, dissenters suffer” – Sydney Morning Herald

Kremlin, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

… last week after his release from a forced stay in a Crimean psychiatric hospital, Ilmi Umerov [said] ‘It was what you could call one big torture’ … Having made public statements against Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine … Russian authorities charged Umerov with ‘separatism’ and forced him into a psychiatric hospital for a month of observation [even as he already was s]tricken with Parkinson’s, diabetes and heart problems…. * * * The resurgent Soviet-era practice of punitive psychiatry has shut away a number of dissenters and activists who have dared to speak out against the Russian government. [After] opposition activist Mikhail Kosenko took part in mass protests against … Putin’s inauguration for a third term, the … Bolotnaya Square protests [h]e was soon arrested, convicted and confined to a psychiatric hospital for eight months … Earlier this year, an opposition activist was grabbed from his home by orderlies posing as gas company workers and dragged off to a psychiatric hospital, where he was involuntarily injected with drugs before being released a week later. …

Click here for Sydney Morning Herald: “Russia revives Soviet-era psychiatric punishment: Crimean Tatars, dissenters suffer”





NEWSWATCH & VIDEO: “U.S. Bombers Send China, Russia, North Korea a Message” – NBC

B-1 Bomber File Photo

Three times in the last two months, the United States has flown B-1 bombers, equipped with the latest non-nuclear cruise missiles, on missions in Europe and Asia meant to show adversaries as well as allies what one U.S. commander called ‘an unshakable commitment.’ … part of strategic missions aimed at sending explicit messages to Russia, China and North Korea. Each of the B-1s is equipped with two dozen non-nuclear cruise missiles with highly accurate, bunker-busting warheads, a new capability. … The latest … took place … over the Korean peninsula, when two B-1 bombers flew within a few miles of the DMZ between North and South Korea, accompanied by U.S. F-16s and South Korean F-15s. … related to North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test …






Click here for NBC: “U.S. Bombers Send China, Russia, North Korea a Message”





 

NEWSWATCH: “Britain’s Johnson says peace in east Ukraine depends mainly on Russia” – Reuters

Map of Ukraine and Environs, Including Russia

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said … progress toward peace in eastern Ukraine depended primarily on the Kremlin, adding that it was crucial for the West to maintain sanctions …. “Clearly it’s up to the Russians primarily to make progress on the security side. But it’s up to all sides I think in this conversation to make progress together” ….

Click here for Reuters: “Britain’s Johnson says peace in east Ukraine depends mainly on Russia”





 

NEWSWATCH: “DOJ hints at shaming Russia for political hacks” – The Hill

Binary Code with Stylized Eye

… Justice Department officials dropped hints … they plan to hold Russia accountable for what is suspected to be a broad hacking campaign targeting U.S. political organizations and election databases. … Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who leads the National Security Division * * * listed Russia as one of the ‘four main actors’ involved in supporting hackers targeting the U.S., alongside North Korea, Iran and China. The U.S. has taken action against hackers from the other three states, he noted, over hacks against Sony Pictures, financial institutions and U.S. companies. … ‘The message is clear: You are not safe because you are doing it under another nation’s flag. We can figure out who did it … and when we do, we’re committed to holding people accountable.’

Click here for The Hill: “DOJ hints at shaming Russia for political hacks”





NEWSWATCH: “Rift in administration over U.S.-Russia pact on Syria” – Fox News

Syria Map

… administration officials reportedly are at odds over a newly announced agreement with Russia to curb the violence in Syria … Confusion remains over the terms and aims of the deal. …. [there are] new questions about what level of violence will be accepted by the Obama administration in determining whether to go ahead with the proposed joint venture with Russia after a week-long ceasefire, which includes the sharing of intelligence at a joint intelligence center. … [After seven days of calm] the U.S. and Russia would then cooperate on how to jointly combat the Al Qaeda-linked group … Nusra Front … now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. … militants backed by the U.S. and its Arab allies coordinate and even sometimes fight alongside Al Qaeda-linked militants. … The new cease-fire is supposed to end such ambiguities, and Washington has been urging rebel groups to break ranks with extremists.

Click here for Fox News: “Rift in administration over US-Russia pact on Syria”





SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia, U.S. in Deadlock Over Syria Deal as Kerry Snubs Lavrov” – Bloomberg

Syria Map

The U.S. and Russia hit a renewed deadlock over efforts to strike a #Syrian cease-fire deal … Kerry snubbed … Lavrov, who was left cooling his heels in Geneva …. The U.S. has been locked in tough negotiations with Russia, whose military intervention in Syria last year reversed the course of the war in favor of its ally … al-Assad. … The civil war … has killed more than 280,000 people and sent millions fleeing …. It has … let Islamic State seize territory that it’s used as a base to direct and inspire terror attacks worldwide. … The U.S. has proposed sharing intelligence with Russia to carry out strikes against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, now known as Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham.  … Assad continues to make gains with each passing day, particularly in … Aleppo, so Russia has little incentive to come up with a deal …. Assad’s forces, backed by pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia and Russian air power, this week cut off the last rebel supply line to the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo, restoring a siege that was broken last month …

Click here for Bloomberg: “Russia, U.S. in Deadlock Over Syria Deal as Kerry Snubs Lavrov”









NEWSWATCH: [American Academy of Pediatrics Rejects Flu Nasal Spray Vaccines] “AAP Issues Flu Vaccine Recommendations for 2016-17 Season” – American Academy of Pediatrics

Flu Virus Microscopic Image

The Academy does not recommend the nasal spray vaccine this flu season, after studies show poor effectiveness.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children ages 6 months and older receive a seasonal flu shot during the 2016-17 season, as vaccination remains the best available preventive measure against influenza, according to an updated policy statement …. “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2016–2017” …. The statement supports the recommendation by federal health officials not to use the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), administered by intranasal spray.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the nasal spray vaccine did not protect against certain strains of the flu virus that were most prominent the past three seasons. The nasal spray vaccine effectiveness among children 2 through 17 years was 3 percent in 2015-16, compared with 63 percent for the injected vaccine.

Click here for American Academy of Pediatrics: “AAP Issues Flu Vaccine Recommendations for 2016-17 Season”

 



 

 



NEWSWATCH: “Judge puts hold on plan to open California lands to fracking” – AP/U.S. News & World Report

Artist's Rendition of Fracking

A federal judge … tentatively rejected a plan by the federal Bureau of Land Management to open more than 1,500 square miles of lands in central California to oil drilling and fracking. … U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald …. The process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to extract oil and gas from rock. … the BLM must provide more study on the effects fracking will have in the area. He gave the agency’s attorneys until Sept. 21 to argue why he should not issue an injunction …. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a pair of environmental groups … The land involved … is about 1.1 million acres of public lands and federal mineral estate in the mostly agricultural central valley, the southern end of the Sierra Nevada, and parts of the central coast.

Click here for AP/U.S. News & World Report “Judge puts hold on plan to open California lands to fracking”

 



 

 



NEWSWATCH: “A new front opens up in China’s battle against separatism; Supporters of greater independence for Hong Kong gain a foothold in the city’s legislature” – The Economist

China Map

Elections held on September 4th for Hong Kong’s legislature must have shocked the leadership in Beijing. In their highest turnout for any such poll in the territory’s history (58%), voters sent a clear signal of discontent with China’s attempts to stifle democracy. Even more worryingly for Chinese officials, some of them supported radicals who believe Hong Kong should decide its own future regardless of China’s wishes. Several such ‘localists’ gained seats for the first time ….

Click here for The Economist: “A new front opens up in China’s battle against separatism; Supporters of greater independence for Hong Kong gain a foothold in the city’s legislature”

 



 

 



NEWSWATCH: “Half of Wisconsin Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid payments were fraud, auditors say” – Live Action

Defund Planned Parenthood, Over Scene of Prolife Demonstrators

An audit by Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Human Services has found that as many as two-thirds of all Medicaid payments to the state’s Planned Parenthood locations were fraudulent.

According to the audit of eight family planning facilities (five of which were operated by Planned Parenthood), roughly half of the funds they received came from fraudulent or otherwise-inappropriate billing practices. Auditors discovered that Planned Parenthood was the worst offender among facilities investigated, with the highest percentage of over-billing. … prescriptions not signed by valid prescribers, billing for quantities of medications that matched neither the prescribed nor dispensed quantities, failing to prove medication was even dispensed, reimbursement for unnecessary duplicative drugs, and more.

Click here for Live Action: “Half of WI Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid payments were fraud, auditors say”

 



NEWSWATCH: “Drug shows promise in reducing abnormal brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s” – Fox News

File Image of Stylized Artist's Rendition of Head and Brain

Fox News reports on a study showing that the antibody aducanumab can reduce amyloid plaques in patients with early to intermediate Alzheimer’s.

… a new investigational drug was found to reduce the disease’s hallmark plaques — potentially slowing cognitive decline and preventing the disease. … Alzheimer’s disease is marked by amyloid plaques … believed to be the main culprit in the most common form of dementia. Build-up of amyloid proteins leads to plaques, which blocks cell-to-cell signaling. In the trial by Biogen, researchers tested an antibody to see whether it can bind and break down amyloid protein …. In the new yearlong clinical trial, researchers gave 165 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s monthly infusions of either the antibody, aducanumab, or a placebo, and did a series of brain scans. The people taking aducanumab showed a sharp decrease in the amount of amyloid beta in their brains. The higher the dose of aducanumab they received, the greater the amyloid clearance revealed in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.




The next step will be two additional, year-and-a-half-long studies.

Researchers are recruiting for two separate 18-month-long phase III trials to see whether amyloid reduction will result in improved brain function …

Apparently there is at least some debate over whether amyloid plaques are a core component of dementia or a byproduct.

The larger question is whether clearing amyloid beta will lead to dramatic improvements in cognitive decline …. Some researchers believe beta amyloid is a byproduct of the destructive brain process, and not the cause, noted Reiman, who was not involved in the new study.

Click here for Fox News: “Drug shows promise in reducing abnormal brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s”

 



 

NEWSWATCH Science Magazine: “Divorce rates double when people start watching porn”

Ipad file photo

… a working paper presented this week at the 2016 American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, suggests that men and women who begin to consume pornography partway through their marriages are more likely to get a divorce than their non–porn-consuming peers. … Previous studies on porn and marriage have suggested that consuming sexually explicit material isn’t good for marital health. But many of these studies have been based on cross-sectional data that give only a snapshot of porn use and marital happiness. Now, researchers have been able to analyze how pornography impacts marriage over multiple years.

Click here for Science Magazine: “Divorce rates double when people start watching porn”

 



 

NEWSWATCH: “Colombia’s FARC rebels to hold final conference, peace vote September 13-19” – Reuters

Colombia Map, adapted from image at state.gov

Colombia’s [FARC rebels] said … they will hold their final conference on Sept. 13-19 to ratify a peace accord with the government.

The deal between the leaders of the leftist guerilla group … and the government was announced Wednesday … after almost four years of talks. The rebels have agreed to lay down arms after half a century of war. …

Click here for Reuters: “Colombia’s FARC rebels to hold final conference, peace vote September 13-19”

 



 

NEWSWATCH: “Russian Hackers Reportedly Target The New York Times” – Fortune

Binary Code with Stylized Eye

In the latest disturbing account of Russian hacking, the #FBI is reportedly investigating a series of #cyber-attacks targeted at journalists from the New York Times and other U.S. media outlets. … [that] could allow hackers to obtain confidential communications between reporters and …sources in the government. It could also potentially allow Russia to release information, which would embarrass key political leaders as well as obtain insight into U.S. diplomatic or military strategies. … Russia is also the mostly likely suspect behind last week’s ‘Shadow Brokers’ incident … [exposing] a top-secret set of cyber-weapons developed by the #NSA.

Click here for Fortune: “Russian Hackers Reportedly Target The New York Times”

 



NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds” – Reuters

Pentagon Aerial View File Photo

The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced. … [DOD’s] Inspector General … said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015 … $6.5 trillion for the year. … the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up. … the latest example of … severe accounting problems plaguing [DOD] for decades. … a spokesman … downplayed the significance of the improper changes, which he said net out to $62.4 billion. … The IG report also blamed DFAS, saying it too made unjustified changes to numbers. For example … rather than solving [a] disparity, DFAS personnel inserted a false ‘correction’ to make … numbers match. … [and] more than 16,000 financial data files … vanished ….

Click here for Reuters: “U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds”



NEWSWATCH: “Chinese ships, planes conduct war games in Sea of Japan” – AP/Fox News

China Map

Chinese planes and ships held war games in the Sea of Japan last week, the military said, during which Beijing displayed its latest-generation frigate at a time of bitter territorial disputes with Asian neighbors. … The statement made no mention of what sort of conflict the exercise was intended as a response to, prospective foes or why the Sea of Japan was chosen as the location of the drills. However, China has grown increasingly assertive over its claim to a chain of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan …. * * * China [also] is involved in an intense rivalry with the U.S. over military dominance in the region. Tensions in the South China Sea have also risen after China refused to accept an international arbitration panel’s ruling invalidating its claim [there] …. China plans joint naval exercises with Russia in the South China Sea next month ….

Click here for AP/Fox News: “Chinese ships, planes conduct war games in Sea of Japan”



NEWSWATCH Deal Hudson/The Christian Review: “The Catholic Church Doesn’t Really Care About Abortion”

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception file photo, adapted from image at loc.gov

… To make matters even more stark, Hillary Clinton has made the support of Planned Parenthood, the proven seller of infant body parts, part of her political platform, while the platform of her Democratic Party has announced a more extreme pro-abortion clause than in previous elections. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has promised to sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and has published a list of potential #SupremeCourt nominees all in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

* * *

Pro-life Catholics need to wake up and realize that most of the ‘officialdom’ of the Catholic Church in the U.S. is already rolling out a national campaign that is virtually an arm of the Democratic Party. If you don’t believe me, start tracking the various conferences and forums being offered in your diocese, drill down to look at the host organization, the speakers, and their topics. Better yet, attend one and publicly voice your pro-life preferences and see what happens.

Click here for Deal Hudson/The Christian Review: “The Catholic Church Doesn’t Really Care About Abortion”



NEWSWATCH Roll Call: “Shakeup at Top of Trump Campaign”

Donald Trump file photo

Donald Trump’s campaign is making its second major staff change …. Kellyanne Conway, a veteran Republican pollster who has been an adviser to the campaign, will take over as campaign manager [and] Stephen Bannon … executive chairman of Breitbart News … a former banker for Goldman Sachs, will serve as campaign chief executive, a new position. … Breitbart News has been consistently supportive Trump and has even defended former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski … accused of assaulting Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who has since resigned from the organization. … Paul Manafort, the campaign’s chairman, will remain in that position, but … his role will be diminished after friction … over the direction of the campaign. Manafort himself has been a distraction … [AP] reported … Manafort helped a pro-Russia group in Ukraine secretly route more than $2 million in payments to two Washington lobbying firms to try to influence U.S. policy.

Click here for Roll Call: “Shakeup at Top of Trump Campaign”



 

 

NEWSWATCH: “Russian nuclear bunkers: Is Putin building more?” – News.Com.Au

Russian Nuclear Missile on Mobile Launcher in Parade

Russia is reportedly building several nuclear command bunkers … Construction has been under way for several years on dozens … the emergence of the bunkers come just days after US European Command warned … Moscow has adopted an ‘alarming’ nuclear doctrine. … U.S. European Command Army General Curtis Scaparrotti said it was clear Russia was modernising its strategic forces.

‘Russian doctrine states that tactical nuclear weapons may be used in a conventional response scenario’ he reportedly said. * * * Scaparrotti … assumed command of NATO’s Allied Command Operations in May … earlier warned of increasing Russian aggression in Europe. * * * … warnings of Russian aggression in Europe and increasing nuclear threat also follow reports of the former Soviet giant building new bombers, submarines and missiles. … it [also] emerged the country was refurbishing Cold War ships known as battlecruisers to carry high powered, long range missiles.

Click here for News.Com.Au: “Russian nuclear bunkers: Is Putin building more?”

 

 



 

NEWSWATCH: “Russian Bombers Are Flying Anti-ISIS Missions From Iranian Air Base” – ABC

Middle East Map

Russian warplanes are now taking off from an Iranian air base to target … Syria. … the Russian Defense Ministry said … Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 fighter bombers had taken off from Khamandan air base in Iran to target ISIS and the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra in the provinces of Aleppo, Deir-ez Zor and Idlib. … the first time the Russians have launched … warplanes from inside Iran since Moscow began striking targets in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last September. … Army Col. Christopher Garver, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve … would not confirm if ISIS targets were in Aleppo or Idlib, two of the locations the Russians identified striking from the Iranian base. He only said that the U.S.-led coalition had not struck targets in those areas in a ‘very long time.’ [He added:] ‘We don’t see concentrations of ISIS in those areas.’ … On Monday, Interfax news service reported that Russia asked Iran and Iraq last week if Russian cruise missiles could pass through their airspace.

Click here for ABC: “Russian Bombers Are Flying Anti-ISIS Missions From Iranian Air Base”



 

U.S. Transfers 15 Guantanamo Bay Detainees; The United Arab Emirates accepts 15 prisoners under President Obama’s push to nearly empty Gitmo by January

Guantanmo Bay Detainees file photo

The Wall Street Journal reports on the United States transferring 15 Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees, 12 Yemenis and three Afghans, to the United Arab Emirates on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.  Sixty-one detainees are left at GTMO, down from 242 in 2009.  However, far more detainees were transferred during the George W. Bush administration, a total of 532. Nearly 800 individuals have been detained at GTMO since it was opened after the 9/11 attacks.

Under Obama, the United States often pays up to $100,000 per detainee transferred, and attempts to continue electronic surveillance of transferred detainees.

The U.S. usually pays foreign governments to monitor transferred detainees, and underwrites resettlement costs—for language instruction, vocational courses and the like—up to $100,000 each …. people familiar with the matter said the U.S. typically conducts electronic surveillance of former detainees, while local authorities keep physical tabs on them. … the administration leverag[es] rivalries to get countries to compete over resettling the men. … Foreign governments are realizing that ‘if you want to get attention in the Obama administration, one way to do it is to take Guantanamo detainees,’ [an] official said. * * * In the U.A.E., the 15 newly transferred men will enter a rehabilitation facility modeled after a Saudi program that seeks to ‘de-radicalize’ former detainees, a senior administration official said. ‘There is an ideological component. They bring in the moderate [religious leaders]. They provide literature. They work on life skills’ ….

Concern continues about whether transferred or released detainees could rejoin terrorist activity, and opposition continues to Congressional action to authorize a complete closure of GTMO detention.

At least 30 to 40 detainees are set for prosecution by military commissions or are otherwise deemed to dangerous to release.

Administration negotiating teams continue to push to facilitate the transfer process, raising questions about whether poorer countries are being paid to induce them to take detainees that they might not otherwise take.

Click here for Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Transfers 15 Guantanamo Bay Detainees;
The United Arab Emirates accepts 15 prisoners under President Obama’s push to nearly empty Gitmo by January”

NEWSWATCH: “How to Counter Russia’s Subversive War on the West” – RAND/William Courtney, Martin C. Libicki

Kremlin and Saint Basil's At Night

Russia’s apparent cyberespionage against the Democratic Party … and its state-sponsored doping of Olympic athletes show an obsession with disruptive behavior as a tool of statecraft. … Cyberwar and sports doping are among the arrows in Moscow’s quiver of “active measures,” a triple threat of propaganda, deception and subversion that dates to the Soviet era.



Russia’s subversive and corrupt behavior should have a negative impact on its international stature and perceived suitability for investment.

Moscow’s provocative active measures cause foreign investors and international lenders to see higher risks in doing business with Russia. … it should not be surprised if disregard for others’ interests diminishes the international regard it seeks as an influential great power.

Click here for RAND/William Courtney, Martin C. Libicki: “How to Counter Putin’s Subversive War on the West”



NEWSWATCH: “EU Urges Russia, Ukraine to Refrain From Escalating Tensions” – Bloomberg

Map of Ukraine and Environs

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini urged Russia and Ukraine to avoid escalating tensions …. ‘Any actions that could lead to a further escalation of the conflict must be avoided …. This includes eastern Ukraine, where we urge all parties to … complete implementation of the Minsk agreements.’ * * * ‘The European Union condemns and does not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol ….’

Click here for Bloomberg: “EU Urges Russia, Ukraine to Refrain From Escalating Tensions”

 



NEWSWATCH: “Exclusive: Congressional leaders were briefed a year ago on hacking of Democrats – sources” – Reuters

U.S. Capitol file photo

U.S. intelligence officials told top congressional leaders a year ago that Russian hackers were attacking the Democratic Party, three sources familiar with the matter said … but the lawmakers were unable to tell the targets … because the information was so secret. … disclosure … would have revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies were continuing to monitor the hacking, as well as … sources and … methods …. The congressional briefing was given … in a secure room called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, to … four Republicans: Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell … Speaker John Boehner … Senator Richard Burr and Representative Devin Nunes, the House and Senate intelligence committee chairs. Their Democratic counterparts were: Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi … Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff of the intelligence committees. * * * One of the sources said the Clinton campaign first detected attacks on its data system in early March, and was given what the source described as a “general briefing” about it by the FBI later that month. The source said the FBI made no mention of a Russian connection in that briefing and did not say when the penetration first took place.

Click here for Reuters: “Exclusive: Congressional leaders were briefed a year ago on hacking of Democrats – sources”

 



 

NEWSWATCH: “Russia athletics suffers final disgrace as last competitor barred”

File Photo of Olympic Rings Lit At Night

Russian track and field suffered a final humiliation at the Rio Games … when the sport’s governing body suspended long jumper Darya Klishina … The suspension, announced three days before she was due to compete, relates to new evidence uncovered by an anti-doping probe into allegations Russia ran a systematic, state-backed cheating program …. * * * The doping inquiry has cast a pall over the Games, fomenting what some have called an “anti-Russian atmosphere” in Rio and prompting the International Paralympic Committee to exclude Russia from its own Games next month.

Click here for Reuters: “Russia athletics suffers final disgrace as last competitor barred”



NEWSWATCH: “French President Links Nice Attack to Iraq, Syria Conflict” – ABC

Middle East Map

… French President Francois Hollande linked the deadly ‘terrorist attack’ in Nice to the conflict in Iraq and Syria — and said France will intensify its military operations there in the aftermath of today’s tragedy. * * * Prior to tonight’s tragedy, France had been targeted in two major terrorist attacks within the last year and a half. In January 2015 extremists linked to both al Qaeda and ISIS killed 12 people in an assault on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In November the same year, an ISIS cell killed 130 people in coordinated attacks also in Paris. … In the past, both ISIS and al Qaeda have encouraged their followers to kill Westerners by using vehicles as weapons. After the Nice attack, online ISIS supporters expressed jubilation at the carnage ….

Click here for ABC: French President Links Nice Attack to Iraq, Syria Conflict



 

 

IMF: Russia still facing risk from low oil prices Country remains in recession for 2016, but returns to slow growth by next year.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's At Night

Russia’s economy returns to modest growth next year, but faces medium-term risks from volatility in crude oil prices, the International Monetary Fund said.

An IMF assessment found the Russian economy contracted by 3.7 percent last year because of the collapse in crude oil prices. The economy remains in recession this year before growth resumes at an estimated 1 percent next year. * * * [OPEC] said it expected Russian oil supplies would increase slightly to average almost 11 million barrels per day in 2016, a level that’s higher by 10,000 bpd from the previous estimate. More narrowly, however, second quarter output was 40,000 bpd lower than the first quarter average.

Click here for UPI: “IMF: Russia still facing risk from low oil prices; Country remains in recession for 2016, but returns to slow growth by next year”

NEWSWATCH: “Oil Falls Amid Warnings of Retreat to $40 on Rocky Rebalance” – Bloomberg

Oil Rig file photo

Oil fell amid forecasts prices may slide toward $40 a barrel as consumption falters and halted supplies return.

Futures fell 0.6 percent in New York. Analysts from BNP Paribas SA to JBC Energy GmbH warned prices may sink towards $40 a barrel amid a global glut of supply and weakening demand. Prices on Friday pared earlier losses of as much as 1.4 percent after data from China showed its economy is stabilizing and the country processed a record amount of crude.

* * *

Oil has traded between about $44 and $52 a barrel since early June after almost doubling from a 12-year low in February amid a spate of supply disruptions and falling U.S. output. Prices have been whipsawed this week, pulled down by U.S. fuel data that signaled faltering demand and rallying when global equity markets advance and a weakening dollar bolstered commodities.

Click here for Bloomberg: “Oil Falls Amid Warnings of Retreat to $40 on Rocky Rebalance”

NEWSWATCH: “Truck ‘terrorist’ kills 80 in attack on Nice Bastille Day crowd” – Reuters

Map of France

A ‘terrorist’ gunman killed 80 people and wounded scores when he drove a heavy truck at high speed into a crowd that had watched Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city of Nice late on Thursday …. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 80 people died and 18 were in a critical condition. Many more were also wounded …. The driver also opened fire before police shot him dead. … President Francois Hollande said he was calling up military and police reservists to relieve forces worn out by an eight-month state of emergency begun after … Islamic State … killed 130 … in Paris. The state of emergency was extended by three months.

Click here for Reuters: “Truck ‘terrorist’ kills 80 in attack on Nice Bastille Day crowd”



NEWSWATCH: “At least 80 dead, 18 seriously injured in Bastille Day terror attack in France” – Fox News

Map of France

At least 80 people were killed … 18 others … seriously injured Thursday when a terrorist drove a large truck loaded with guns and hand grenades into a crowd … gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the southern French city of Nice.

…  no immediate claim of responsibility, but two sources, including a U.S. counterterrorism source who collects and monitors jihadist social media, told Fox News that accounts linked to ISIS were ‘celebratory’ and their followers were told to use the hashtag ‘Nice’.

Click here for Fox News: “At least 80 dead, 18 seriously injured in Bastille Day terror attack in France”



 

NEWSWATCH: “Death a grim chapter in storied history of Indianapolis 500” – AP

Race Car in Pits File Photo

Yes, the Indy 500 is “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing” … Mario and Dario and milk and balloons have built an event steeped in festive tradition … it prepares to celebrate its centennial …. But the race is also marked by tragedy. … 12 laps into the inaugural race in 1911, mechanic Sam Dickson became the first to die and he certainly wasn’t the last.

Drivers, mechanics, fans, even a little boy standing across the street … all are part of the 500’s saddest chapter, painful memories of just how dangerous racing on the bricks and asphalt has been …. At least 66 people have died because of auto racing since 1909 at the site, including 40 drivers, 14 mechanics and nine spectators. The 1930s was by far the deadliest decade with 21 deaths, while the ’50s and ’60s each saw eight people perish.

Click here for AP: “Death a grim chapter in storied history of Indianapolis 500”