Monday, December 22, 2014

Russia's Economic Crisis Has Just Caused The Belarus Currency To Collapse. Hyperinflation Now Feared

Belarus Closes Currency Exchanges To Shield Against Crisis -- RT

The National Bank of Belarus is closing all over-the-counter currency exchanges in the country in an effort to keep its own currency strong and avoid a domino effect from the ruble crisis.

The purchase and sale of foreign currency at bureau d’change will be put on hold until 2017, except for transactions with the National Bank, the regulator said in a statement Monday. At the same time the purchase of foreign currency through the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange from the National Bank will be unlimited.

Read more ....

More News On The Collapse Of The Belarusian Ruble

Belarus blocks online sites and closes shops to stem currency panic -- The Guardian
Belarus blocks websites, closes stores to stem currency panic after rouble slide -- AFP
Belarus In Full-Blown Hyperinflation Panic: Blocks News, Online Stores; Bans All FX Trading For 2 Years -- Zero Hedge
Independent Belarusian News Websites Blocked -- Radio Free Europe
Belarus Has Shut Off Part of the Internet -- Vocativ
Belarus imposes mass IP-blocks to prevent panic -- IT ProPortal
Belarusian independent news sites blocked -- AP

My Comment: It is now a complete disaster in Belarus .... hyperinflation fears are now widespread. Just finished talking with a friend who lives in Minsk .... there is nothing in the stores .... nothing ... everything has been bought out. For those who are not familiar with Belarus .... it has always been an economic basket-case .... but Russia's currency crash was the "straw that broke the camel's back". Not surprising .... this is the number one news story in neighboring Russia .... everyone in Russia is now afraid that they are next. I personally doubt it .... Russia is a different story .... but the fear is there and it is very real.

Update: It should be noted that Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko does not have many friends in Russia .... Belarus president could end up like Gaddafi – senior Russian MP (RT).

Nigeria Rocked By Bomb Blasts

Nigeria's Gombe And Bauchi Cities Hit By Blasts -- BBC

At least 26 people have been killed in bombings in two major cities in northern Nigeria, emergency workers and witnesses say.

The first blast at bus rank in Gombe killed at least 20 while another six died in an explosion at a market in Bauchi, they added.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency in the area.

Meanwhile, a video purportedly released by the group shows dozens of people being executed at a school dormitory.

They were made to lay face down before being shot dead.

There is no independent confirmation that Boko Haram produced the video. It is unclear where or when it was shot.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Bomb Blasts In Nigeria

Bombs Blamed on Extremists Kill 26 in Northeast Nigeria -- AP
Twin bomb blasts in northeast Nigeria bus station kill 20 -- Reuters
Huge blast hits Nigeria market -- Al Jazeera
Two blasts kill at least 20 in restive northern Nigeria -- AFP
Bomb Blast in Northeastern Nigeria Kills at Least 20 -- WSJ
Blast in Nigeria's Gombe City Kills 20 -- VOA
At least 20 killed in Nigeria bomb blast -- Deutsche Welle

The Battle For Libya's Oil Ports Is Escalating

Libyan Army Forces belonging to Libya's rival government, that are part of the Alshorooq (Libya Dawn) operation to free oil ports, fire a vehicle-mounted weapon on the outskirts of Al Sidra oil port December 14 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Libya Fighting Spreads To Third Oil Port, 11 Killed In Benghazi -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Fighting between Libya's competing governments has spread to a third oil port, curbing gas exports to Italy and cutting crude production to less than needed to cover the North African country's own domestic requirements, officials said.

The OPEC producer is struggling with fighting on several fronts as brigades of former rebels who once battled side by side to oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 now clash for political power and a share of oil revenues.

Libya has had two governments and parliaments since a group called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli in August by expelling a rival faction, installing its own prime minister and forcing the internationally recognized cabinet to operate out of the east with the elected House of Representatives.

Read more ....

More News On Fighting In Libya Now Spreading To Its Oil Ports

Clashes in Libya's Benghazi kill 16 pro-government forces -- AFP
Libya sends reinforcements against militants in oil crescent -- Business Standard
Libya Oil Production Drops as Fighting Spreads to Port -- Bloomberg
Libyan website: UAE sent 16 armoured vehicles to back Haftar troops -- Middle East Monitor
Libyan army sends reinforcements to fight militias in oil-rich region -- Global Times
Fighting for Ports Escalates in Libya -- Marine Link
Libya: Seeking Meaningful Discussion And A Group Hug -- Strategy Page
Egyptian Involvement Sparked Libya Oil Port Battle, Expert Says -- Time
Threatened African nations urge western action on Libya crisis -- Reuters
African leaders urge West to act on Libya -- Al Jazeera

China To Send 700 Soldiers To South Sudan

South Sudan Conflict: China To Deploy Troops For First Time In UN Mission -- IBTimes

Chinese troops are set to be deployed in South Sudan to help UN peacekeepers in the war-torn region, marking the first time China's infantry will have participated in a UK mission.

Previous peacekeeping efforts have been aided by Chinese engineers, doctors and security guard corps, but this is the first for troops, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The 700-strong infantry battalion, comprising 121 officers and 579 soldiers, was approved by President Xi Kingpin and the Central Military Commission.

Read more ....

More News On China Sending 700 Soldiers Under The UN Flag To South Sudan

Chinese troops ready to join Sudan Sudan UN force -- BBC
China sends first infantry battalion for UN peacekeeping -- Global Times/Xinhua
China Sends 700 Peacekeepers to South Sudan -- ABC News/AP
China to Send First UN Peacekeeping Battalion to South Sudan in January -- Sputnik
Oil for peace? China to send 700 peacekeepers to S. Sudan, signs energy deal -- RT

Pakistan Plans To Execute 55 Convicted Taliban Militants In The Coming Days, 500 Later

A supporter of political party Pakistan Awami Tehreek, holds a sign with others to condemn the attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School in Peshawar, during a rally in Lahore, December 21, 2014. Taliban gunmen broke into the school and opened fire on Tuesday, killing 132 students and nine staff members, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years. Reuters/Mohsin Raza

Pakistan Likely To Execute Dozens Of Convicts -- Al Jazeera

At least 55 fighters on death-row likely to be executed soon, amid public anger over Taliban attack on Peshawar school.

Pakistan plans to execute 55 people in the coming days, after their mercy petitions were recently rejected by the country's president Mamnoon Hussain, reports say.

Six fighters have been hanged since a Taliban attack on an army-run school in the city of Peshawar last week left 149 people, mostly children, dead, triggering public anger.

Of the six hanged so far, five were involved in a failed attempt to assassinate the then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2003, while one was involved in a 2009 attack on army headquarters, AFP news agency reported on Monday.

After the school attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating it for "terrorism-related" cases.

Read more ....

More News On Pakistan Planning To Execute Hundreds Of Convicted Taliban Militants

Pakistan say they will execute 500 convicted militants as police arrest six men and a woman who 'helped facilitate' the Taliban strike that claimed 133 children's lives -- Daily Mail
Pakistan death row inmates face imminent execution -- BBC
Pakistan to execute 500 militants soon -- AFP
Pakistan to execute 500 Islamist terrorists after Taliban school attack -- The Telegraph
Pakistan to execute 500 militants in light of Peshawar massacre -- Washington Times
Pakistan to execute 500 convicted terrorists 'within weeks' -- RT
Pakistan: Plans to execute 500 more prisoners ‘deeply disturbing’ -- Amnesty International

A New Push For Ukraine Peace Talks

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R) and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev attend a news conference in Kiev, December 22, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukraine Peace Talks May Be Held In Minsk On Dec. 24 And 26: Poroshenko -- Reuters

(Reuters) - A fresh round of peace talks involving Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be held in the Belarussian capital on Dec. 24 and 26, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement on Monday.

The dates were discussed in a phone conversation between French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Poroshenko said the leaders highlighted the need to implement the next steps of a ceasefire plan agreed in the first round of talks in Minsk in September, which were aimed at ending the separatist conflict in Ukraine's eastern territories that has killed over 4,700 people.

Read more ....

My Comment: Russia's allies are also pushing for these peace talks .... Crisis-hit Russia's top allies forge ties with Ukraine (AFP). What's my take .... until there is a willingness to compromise there is no hope for peace in eastern Ukraine .... and for the moment no one is willing to compromise.

Update: Leaders Agree on Ukrainian Peace Talks This Week -- AP

President Barack Obama's Approval Ratings Among Active-Duty U.S. Military Personnel Has Plummeted To 15%

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit Fort Stewart. (White House photo)

Obama's Popularity Plummets To All-Time New Low Among Active-Duty Military Troops For Forcing 'Profound Change,' New Poll Shows -- HNGN

President Barack Obama's approval ratings and popularity among active-duty U.S. military personnel have taken a sharp downward turn, with the commander-in-chief's numbers plummeting to a new all-time low, according to a new poll.

The president's popularity rating has cratered to just 15 percent of active-duty service members in 2014, with about 55 percent claiming they disapprove of Obama's job as commander-in-chief, according to an annual Military Times survey.

Although Obama has struggled to gain the approval of troops throughout his time in office, these numbers reflect a new low for the president, who finished his first year in office with a 35-percent approval figure and only 40 percent disapproving in 2009, according to the Military Times survey of more than 2,300 active-duty service members.

Read more ....

Update #1: Obama's job approval plummets among US service members -- The Hill
Update #2: Survey: Obama gets thumbs down from the troops -- CNN

My Comment: The Military Times poll and article is here. What's my take .... I am surprise that 15% still support him.

North Korea's Internet Network Has Just Collapsed

Image via DPRK

Internet Outage In North Korea, Network Researcher Says -- Bloomberg

North Korea’s access to the Internet has been hit with outages and is offline today, according to a network-monitoring company, days after the U.S. government accused the country of hacking into Sony Corp. (6758)’s files.

North Korea, which has four official networks connecting the country to the Internet -- all of which route through China -- began experiencing intermittent problems yesterday and today went completely black, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Read more ....

More News On North Korea's Internet Network Collapsing

Attack Is Suspected as North Korean Internet Collapses -- New York Times
North Korea’s Internet is going suspiciously haywire -- Washington Post
North Korea’s Internet link is flaky today -- North Korea Tech
North Korea knocked offline -- USA Today
North Korea's Internet Down Days After US Promises 'Proportional Response' To Sony Hack -- IBTimes
North Korea's internet is having serious problems -- The Verge
North Korea’s Internet Connections Disrupted, May Be Under Attack -- Re/Code
Cyberattack suspected as North Korea experiences massive Internet outage -- Mashable
North Korea Has Massive Internet Outage as Obama Considers Putting Country Back on Terror List -- Vice
North Korea's Internet Is Totally Screwed Right Now -- Gizmodo

Since 9/11 The U.S. Has Spent $1.6 Trillion On Military Operations And Counterterrorism

U.S. Air Force advisers, U.S. soldiers, and Afghan students descend the mountain to a waiting Mi-17 helicopter after completing their final scenario before graduating from Air Liaison Officer School on Forward Operating Base Hunter range, Afghanistan, Nov. 25, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston

Post-9/11 Military Costs Hit $1.6 Trillion -- The Hill

The United States has spent $1.6 trillion on military operations and counterterrorism, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a newly released report by the Congressional Research Service.

“Based on funding enacted from the 9/11 attacks through [fiscal year 2014], CRS estimates a total of $1.6 trillion has been provided to the Department of Defense, the State Department and the Department of Veterans Administration for war operations, diplomatic operations and foreign aid, and medical care for Iraq and Afghan war veterans over the past 13 years of war,” the report, dated Dec. 8, states.

Of the $1.6 trillion total, $815 billion was spent on warfare in Iraq and $686 billion was spent in Afghanistan.

Read more ....

Update #1: $14 Million An Hour: War Costs Top $1.6 Trillion Since 9/11, Say Congressional Researchers -- IBTimes
Update #2: Wars’ Cost to U.S. Since the Sept. 11 Attacks: $1.6 Trillion -- Bloomberg

My Comment: Did a quick read of the report .... on Figure 3 it shows that the majority of the spending has occurred during the Obama administration .... and this number is still climbing. Talk about a depressing update. The GAO report is here.

World News Briefs -- December 22, 2014

U.S. Leads 22 More Air Strikes Against Islamic State: Task Force -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The U.S.-led coalition conducted 12 air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria on Monday and 10 strikes Iraq, the U.S. military said in a statement.

In Iraq, the strikes hit near the strategic northern Iraqi town of Sinjar as well as near Asad, Tal Afar, Ramdi, Mosul and Falluja, the Combined Joint Task Force said. They destroyed six units of Islamic State fighters as well as a weapons factory, numerous buildings and several vehicles, it said.

Read more ....


Kurdish fighters move on ISIL's Mosul hub.

Kurdish fighters face stiff resistance from ISIS in Iraq.

Iraq TV show makes terrorists confront victim.

Exclusive: WHO says Syria approves medicine deliveries to Aleppo, other areas.

2015 could be watershed for Syria conflict.

Turkey remains leery about presence of Kurdish refugees from Kobani.

Iran’s budget woes unlikely to derail nuclear goals.


North Korea threatens to ‘blow up’ White House, Pentagon: Accuses U.S. government being behind making of ‘The Interview’.

Obama: North Korea’s attack ‘cybervandalism,’ not an ‘act of war’.

Sony hack: North Korea threatens US as row deepens. North Korea boycotts UN Security Council and threatens US.

Afghan commander orders attacks on insurgents in Pakistan.

Pakistan school attack: Several suspects arrested.

Pakistan set to execute 500 convicted terrorists in coming weeks.

Ling Jihua: China investigates top aide to former president.


Nigerian Islamic uprising poses regional threat.

Bomb blast in northeastern Nigeria kills 'at least 20'.

Five killed as Libyan forces and Islamist fighters clash in Benghazi.

Essebsi declared Tunisia presidential winner. Tunisia elects former Minister Essebsi President. Former minister wins Tunisian presidential election, as violence breaks out.

Report: Uprooted Muslims trapped in CAR.

Dozens of suspected Kenyan separatists charged with police camp raid.

Chinese troops ready to join Sudan Sudan UN force.

IMF policies blamed for Ebola spread in West Africa.


Ukraine threatens to cut off power to rebel-held regions if usage not curbed.

Ruble continues cautious rise, China offers help.

Russia bails out bank following ruble slide.

Ex-minister Kudrin warns of 'full-fledged crisis' in Russia.

Russia watchdog blocks web pages calling for Navalny support protest - activists.

French driver reportedly heard yelling 'Allahu Akbar' slams pedestrians, injures 13. Prosecutor: No terror link in France car rampage.

Catalonia leader Artur Mas probed over independence vote.

Spain: Princess Cristina to be tried for fraud.

Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats.


US police departments on alert after cop killings. Police on alert across America after murder of NYPD officers.

Raúl Castro thanks U.S., but reaffirms communist rule in Cuba.

Tourism, farm groups see bigger business with Cuba.

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future.

Colombia rebels begin indefinite, unilateral ceasefire.

Mexico's church calls for changes in government strategy.

Flu outbreak spreading rapidly in U.S..

Ticket to the White House set to cost at least $1bn.


Juergen Todenhoefer, author, walks with Islamic State: They have a ‘glow in their eyes’.

Four Gitmo prisoners released to Afghanistan.

CIA urged to build rapport with terrorists to extract intelligence.


Gulf OPEC members refuse to cut oil output.

Oil price fall not Opec's fault, Gulf ministers say.

Oil prices likely to rebound in second half of 2015: Reuters poll.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 22, 2014

The Pentagon Has A New Name For ISIS -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- There's yet another new name for ISIS among those fighting against the terror group. Daesh.

There is already some confusion in Washington about what to call ISIS. Barack Obama and other government leaders call the terror group operating in Iraq and Syria ISIL -- short for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. CNN takes a different tack, calling the group ISIS -- Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

But when Army L. Gen. James Terry, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force was speaking Thursday to reporters at the Pentagon, he referred to ISIS by an acronym for al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham - 'Daesh'.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 22, 2014

1,000 82nd Airborne Troops Iraq-Bound in January -- Defense News

US Airstrikes Targeting ISIS Cost Over $1 Billion, Pentagon Says -- IBTimes

US and Turkey plot alternative military training to fight ISIL -- CCTV

Hamas conducts rocket tests, drawing the attention of the Israeli military -- Jerusalem Post

Gantz: Israel Faces With Conflict on Multiple Fronts -- Defense News

US Approves $3 Billion Sale of Tanks, Armored Vehicles to Iraq -- Sputnik

Iraq Requests Abrams Tank, Humvee Sale -- Defense News

Russia to Accept Any Scenario With Mistral Helicopter Carriers -- Sputnik

Clock Ticking On Mistral Decision, Russia Tells France -- Defense News/AFP

Russia, India Finalizing Helicopter Deal: Reports -- Sputnik

Russian bombers buzz U.S. Pacific island of Guam -- Washington Times/Free beacon

North Korea 'had covert units in US in 1990s' -- The Telegraph

In North Korea, kids don’t even know the internet exists. So how did the country pull off the Sony hack? -- Quartz

Chinese Military Plane Crashes; 2 Deaths Reported -- AP

Military aircraft crashes in joint UAE-Egypt military exercise -- Al Arabiya

Canada Increases Global Reach With New Military Transporter -- Defense News/AFP

Air Force admits nuke flaws, but will fixes work? -- Robert Burns, AP

Drones Over Asia: Northop Grumman Wins a Massive Military Contract -- Motley Fool

McCain vows A-10 fleet has long life ahead -- The Hill

Pentagon Blocks Graphic Abuse Images -- Daily Beast

The horrific stories of CIA-sponsored torture that aren’t in the Senate report. -- Steven Watt, Slate

The Drop in Oil Prices Could Save the Pentagon Billions of Dollars -- Defense One

First auction of military Humvees to civilians lures bidders -- UPI

Industry Fears Massive Losses Through Espionage -- Defense News

Penalty for CIA’s computer search is said to be unlikely -- Washington Post

Obama's job approval plummets among US service members -- The Hill

Army’s options limited in Bergdahl case -- Washington Times

Pentagon Unveils New Weapons to Protect Santa -- US News and World Report

Chinese Foreign Minister: China Opposes to All Forms of Cyber Attacks. No Proof North Korea Involved In Sony Cyberattack

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing Nov. 7, 2014. Reuters/Nicholas Kamm/Pool

China Condemns 'Cyber Terrorism' -- VOA

BEIJING — China condemned cyber terrorism, but said more proof is needed that North Korea hacked Sony Pictures.

Its comments came a day after the United States asked China for help blocking cyber attacks from the North.

China says it opposes cyber attacks on third parties through making use of the facilities of another country. The comments from China’s Foreign Ministry came after the United States accused North Korea of hacking Sony Pictures.

China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China opposes a country using the internal facilities of another country to launch cyber attacks.

Read more ....

More News On China Opposing Announcing That they Are Against All Forms of Cyber Attacks

China Opposes Cyberattacks, Doesn't Name N. Korea -- AP
China condemns cyberattacks, but says no proof North Korea hacked Sony -- Globe and Mail/Reuters
China condemns 'cyber terrorism' as Obama pledges N. Korea review -- AFP
Sony Hack Triggers Diplomatic Tightwalk As China Condemns Cyberattacks Without Mentioning North Korea -- IBTimes
Spokeswoman: China opposes cyber attack targeted at third nation -- Xinhua
China Opposes to All Forms of Cyber Attacks: Chinese FM -- CRIEnglish
FM Wang to Kerry: China Against All Forms of Cyber-Attacks, Cyber Terrorism -- Sputnik
China says it opposes cyberattacks but doesn't name North Korea -- Mashable
China Isn't Sure North Korea Hacked Sony, Nor Whether It Happened On China's Territory -- Bustle

Raw Video Of Sharyl Attkisson’s Interview With The Man Who Waterboarded 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

‘We Had to Do Our Duty’: Raw Video of Sharyl Attkisson’s Interview With the Man Who Waterboarded the 9/11 Mastermind -- Daily Signal

The man who waterboarded 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is standing by the CIA’s controversial enhanced interrogation program, saying the intelligence agency and its agents “had to do our duty.”

In an interview with Daily Signal senior independent contributor Sharyl Attkisson, James Mitchell, a former Air Force psychologist, shared his thoughts on the controversial Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. Mitchell has faced threats since Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, released the report last week.

Read more ....

Previous Post: The Architect Of The CIA's "Enhanced Interrogation" Program And The Man Who Personally Waterboarded Accused 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Speaks Out

My Comment: His comments on how they broke 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is interesting.

Saudi Arabia: We Will Never Cut Oil Production

Saudi Arabia: We'll Never Cut Oil Production -- CNN

Saudi Arabia has a tough message for oil producers hurting from the price crash: We'll never cut our output.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi also said he wasn't conspiring to take out rival producers by driving down the price.

"These rumors or whoever generated them, is completely mistaken," he said.

U.S. crude prices have slumped by nearly 50% in six months, the sharpest fall for many years.

That has unsettled stock markets, accelerated a financial crisis in Russia, raised the risk that Venezuela will default and forced some U.S. producers to shed jobs and scale back investment.

Read more ....

More News On Saudi Arabia Announcing That It Will Not Cut It's Oil Production

Saudi Arabia says won't cut oil output -- Reuters
Saudi Arabia prepared to raise output, says oil minister -- Financial Times
Saudi Arabia Vows to Ride Out Oil Price Slump -- NYT
Saudi Arabia Confident in Oil Rebounding on Global Growth -- Bloomberg
Saudi Arabia confident oil prices will rise, won’t cut output -- RT
Why Saudis Decided Not to Prop Up Oil -- WSJ

Wikileaks Publishes CIA Training Manual On How To Avoid Detection While Travelling

The lobby of the CIA headquarters is shown in this 2008 file photo. Reuters

WikiLeaks Releases Alleged CIA Documents Detailing Travel Tips For Undercover Agents -- IBTimes

WikiLeaks on Sunday released what it claimed were two classified documents issued by the CIA to its operatives detailing measures to avoid having their cover blown while crossing international borders. The documents also list a number of tips for CIA agents to ensure that they are not singled out for secondary screening at airports.

The documents, dated September 2011 and January 2012, were issued by the CIA to circumvent security systems and passport checks implemented by authorities worldwide, including by countries in the European Schengen Area, according to a statement released by WikiLeaks.

Read more ....

More News On Wikileaks Publishes CIA Training Manual On How To Avoid Detection While Traveling

WikiLeaks publishes CIA tips for traveling spies -- AFP
WikiLeaks Releases Purported CIA Documents on Operatives’ Travel -- Bloomberg
CIA's how to be a travelling spy guide published by WikiLeaks -- ABC News (Australia)
These are the CIA’s tips for spies on how to avoid detection at airports -- Quartz
Leaked CIA documents show how to beat airport security like a spy -- Verge
Leaked CIA docs teach operatives how to infiltrate EU -- RT
WikiLeaks Releases Classified CIA Agents Tips on Infiltrating EU, Schengen -- Sputnik
CIA shows agents how to keep their cover at Israeli airport, leaked file shows -- Haaretz
CIA trains agents to avoid security screening at Ben-Gurion Airport, WikiLeaks document shows -- Jerusalem Post
Israel: Wikileaks document reveals how CIA trains agents to pass through Ben-Gurion airport undetected -- IBTimes

My Comment: I suspect that for fugitives, criminals, smugglers, and terrorists ... this manual will be very useful.

How Did A Cuban Spy In A U.S. Prison Get His Wife Pregnant In Havana?

Cuban Spy's Ultimate Mystery: How He Got His Wife Pregnant From A U.S. Prison -- CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- It might be the most bizarre of the closely guarded secrets from last week's historic agreement between the United States and Cuba: How did the leader of a Cuban spy ring serving life in a California federal prison manage to impregnate his wife 2,245 miles away in Havana?

As part of the most significant diplomatic breakthrough between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years, a prisoner swap was made. To uphold its part of the bargain, the U.S. released three Cuban spies, including Gerardo Hernandez, the head of the spy ring known as the Wasp Network.

Hernandez had an ear-to-ear smile Wednesday as he arrived at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. State TV showed Hernandez as he was greeted by President Raul Castro and then embraced and kissed his wife, Adriana Perez.

Read more ....

My Comment: Another example that proves my case when I say that the U.S. is a country that is being run by very strange people. The people themselves .... no problem there. The people running the country .... WTF?!?!?!

U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Putin's Favorite Motorcycle Club

Russian Prime Minister Putin rides with motorcycle enthusiasts during his visit to a bike festival in the southern Russian city of Novorossiisk in 2011 Photo: Reuters

U.S. Blacklists Vladimir Putin’s Biker Gang Buddies, The Night Wolves, In New Round Of Sanctions -- National post/The Telegraph

MOSCOW — Vladimir Putin’s favourite biker has been targeted by new U.S. sanctions over the Kremlin’s armed intervention in Ukraine.

Barack Obama, the U.S. president, issued an executive order this weekend prohibiting trade with the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in March.

Among those added to the U.S. Treasury blacklist are the Night Wolves biker gang, a group of denim and leather-clad ultranationalists that Mr. Putin has befriended.

Alexander Zaldostanov, 51, the head of the Night Wolves who frequently meets Mr. Putin, was on the list, along with prominent figures from the pro-Moscow rebel authorities fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine.

Read more ....

Update #1: Putin pals, ‘Night Wolves’ biker gang, sanctioned by U.S. -- Washington Times
Update #2: The US Just Sanctioned Putin's Favorite Biker Gang -- Business Insider

My Comment: Imposing sanctions on a bike club?!?!?!? This story is being played up in Russia, and the reaction over there is predictable and can be explained in one word .... huh????

Update #3: What!!!! The U.S. has also imposed sanctions on her?!?!?!?! More here.

Iran: Thaw With Cuba Is Proof That Sanctions Do Not Work

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham

Iran Says U.S.-Cuba Thaw Proves Sanctions Are Useless -- Bloomberg

The normalizing of ties between the U.S. and Cuba after decades of estrangement is proof sanctions don’t work, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said.

“Policies of isolationism and sanctions do not yield results,” Afkham was quoted as saying yesterday by the state-run Mehr news agency.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro’s announced a thaw in relations on Dec. 17 after half a century. Some analysts have drawn an analogy with Iran, which the U.S. hasn’t had ties with since 1980.

Read more ....

Update #1: Iran hails US-Cuba thaw as proof sanctions don't work -- AFP
Update #2: Cuba resistance invalidated US sanctions, isolation policy: Iran -- Press TV (Iran)
Update #3: Iran Says Policy Of Isolation, Sanctions Against Nations Futile -- Eurasia Review

My Comment: Here is a good explanation on why sanctions for Cuba are different from Iran .... Why the sanctions on Iran are not at all like the US embargo on Cuba (Quartz).

President Obama: Putin Hasn’t ‘Rolled Me’ And He Is No Chess Master

Obama: Putin Is No Chess Master -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- Critics have pounded President Barack Obama for being upstaged by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Russia's economy is plunging into a recession and Obama's got more to back up his tack on the world stage.

Obama pointed to the result of his sanctions tactic in Russia as proof he's got a successful strategy, in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley airing Sunday.

"There was a spate of stories about how he is the chess master and outmaneuvering the West and outmaneuvering Mr. Obama and this and that and the other. And right now, he's presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis and a huge economic contraction," Obama said. "That doesn't sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of America."

Read more ....

More News On President Obama's Commenting On Putin

Obama: Putin Has Not Outmaneuvered West -- VOA
Obama: Putin hasn’t ‘rolled me,’ economic sanctions on Russia have worked -- Washington Times
Vladimir Putin 'No Chess Master' : US President Barack Obama -- NDTV/AFP
President Obama: Putin Hasn’t ‘Rolled Me’ -- Inquisitr
Obama: Putin Hasn't Rolled Me or America -- Weekly Standard

My Comment: Putin "hasn’t rolled me’ .... it is very strange to hear a U.S. President personalize U.S. - Russian relations to the level that he has in this CNN interview. Does he not know that it is not about him?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Experts Are Critical On The FBI Evidence That Says That North Korea Is Responsible For The Cyber Attack Against Sony

What Is FBI Evidence For North Korea Hack Attack? -- Dave Lee, BBC

The FBI's analysis has concluded North Korea is to blame for the attack on Sony Pictures - but how can it be sure?

As well as Pyongyang having a motive for taking serious issue with The Interview, there's a couple of pieces of key evidence the US is now using to pin the blame.

However, they're not without flaws.

As security researcher Brian Honan put it to me earlier: "I still don't see anything that in a court would convict North Korea beyond reasonable doubt."

So let's take a look.

Read more ....

More News On Experts Being Critical  On The FBI Evidence That Says That North Korea Is Responsible For The Cyber Attack Against Sony

Security experts: FBI report light on evidence linking North Korea to Sony hack -- CSM
These experts still don't buy the FBI claim that North Korea hacked Sony -- L.A. Times
Despite the accusations, there's still little evidence linking North Korea to the Sony hack -- Mashable
Evidence in Sony hack attack suggests possible involvement by Iran, China or Russia, intel source says -- FOX News
FBI says North Korea hacked Sony – what's the proof? -- New Scientist
Who really hacked Sony Pictures? It probably wasn’t North Korea -- Extreme Tech
The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy -- Kim Zetter, Threat Level/Wired
Think North Korea hacked Sony? Think about this -- Martyn Williams, PC World
The Sony hack: What if it isn't North Korea? -- Michael Hiltzik, L.A. Times
Why North Korea may not be behind the Sony hack -- Terrence McCoy and Anna Fifield, Washington Post

North Korea Threatens To Attack The White House And The Pentagon

North Korea Threatens Attack On White House As US Mulls Returning Country To Terror Sponsor List --

North Korea is threatening attacks against the U.S. while adamantly denying it had anything to do with the cyber assault that nearly brought down an entire movie studio.

The threats come just as the Obama administration is considering putting the reclusive regime back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in the wake of hackers infiltrating Sony Pictures, the president told CNN.

The North's fiery anti-American rhetoric has grown in recent days after the U.S. apparently rebuffed the hermit kingdom's proposal to work together to find the real hackers responsible for the infiltration of Sony Pictures.

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More News On North Korea Threatening To Attack The U.S.

N. Korea threatens strikes on US amid hacking claims -- AP
North Korea denies Sony hack but warns U.S.: Worse is coming -- CNN
North Korea threatens to 'blow up' the White House after claiming to find 'clear evidence' that the GOVERNMENT was behind controversial Sony film The Interview -- Daily Mail
Sony Hack: North Korea Threatens To 'Blow Up' White House, Pentagon If US Retaliates -- IBTimes
North Korea threatens to hit back at US -- The Age
North Korea Threatens Bigger Pain If Punished Over Sony Hack -- Bloomberg
N. Korea threatens ultra-harsh action on U.S. soil over hacking allegation -- Yonhap News Agency
'Blow Up Those Citadels': North Korea Threatens, Blames U.S. for 'Interview' -- NBC
N Korea threatens US over hacking claims -- Al Jazeera
North Korea Threatens To Attack U.S. If Obama Retaliates Over Sony Hacking -- Huffington Post

President Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' To Close Guantanamo

Obama To Do 'Everything I Can' To Close Gitmo -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama says he plans to push to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility during his final two years in office -- potentially fulfilling a major campaign promise that he hasn't yet accomplished.

"I'm going to be doing everything I can to close it," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley that aired Sunday on "State of the Union."

"It is something that continues to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world, the fact that these folks are being held," Obama said. "It is contrary to our values."

The President's comments follow a flurry of executive action at the start of what he called his "fourth quarter" in the Oval Office -- after Republicans walloped Democrats in November's midterm elections, taking control of both houses of Congress.

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More News On President Obama Vowing To Close Guantanamo Prison

Obama vows 'do everything I can' to close Guantanamo: CNN interview -- Reuters
Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo -- VOA
Obama Plans More Gitmo Transfers in Coming Weeks -- WSJ
Obama pledges to shut down Guantanamo Bay — again -- New York Daily News