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OH YES THEY DID: House Votes to Allow Concealed Carry Across State Lines

 reports: The House passed legislation Wednesday that would allow concealed carry permit holders from one state to legally carry their guns in other states.

Lawmakers passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which also includes language aimed at improving the federal background check system more commonly known as NICS. The combined bill passed 231-198; six Democrats voted for it, and 14 Republicans voted against it.

The legislation is the first gun legislation to be passed by the House in the wake of major mass shootings in both Las Vegas and Texas. While Democrats argued the concealed carry legislation would only add to gun violence, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the legislation is the best way “not to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, but to enforce the laws against criminals.”

“This bill is about the simple proposition that law-abiding Americans should be able to exercise their right to self defense, even when they cross out of their states’ borders,” he said last week. “That is their constitutional right.”

But Democrats angrily opposed the bill, and said it makes no sense to consider legislation easing rules for gun owners after so many tragic shootings around the country. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., whose district includes Newtown, where 20 children were shot to death in 2012, called the bill an “outrage.”

“This will should be called the Act to Carry Any Gun, Anywhere, Any Time, by Anyone,” she said. “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill is an outrage and an insult to the families in Newtown and to the hundreds of families who have lost loved ones to gun violence who are gathered here today, at the Capitol, for the fifth annual vigil on gun violence.” Read the rest of this entry »


‘The Lizard People Are Real!’: Armed with Assault Rifle, Pierce County Man Prepares to Battle ‘Lizard People’ 

PARKLAND, Wash. — A 55-year-old Eatonville man armed himself with an AK-47 and a pistol over the weekend to battle “the lizard people,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said.

The man told law enforcement that President Trump had called to warn him.

The man ended up being sent to a hospital for treatment and a mental health evaluation.

Just after 8 p.m. Saturday, a witness called 911 to report a white Jeep Cherokee was stopped at 108th Street South and Pacific Avenue South in Parkland.

A state trooper later reported that a man got out of the Cherokee was was waving around an AK-47 and a pistol.

A number of troopers and deputies converged. The man put the guns back in the car. He was ordered to the ground, where he began to scream about “sending in the news” and “the lizard people,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

He resisted when officers tried to handcuff him. A trooper and a Sheriff’s Department deputy both used a Taser on him, the Sheriff’s Department said.

The Sheriff’s Department says the man told a deputy that he had “snorted methamphetamine to lose weight” and that he was taking prescribed morphine. Read the rest of this entry »


Nikki Haley to China: Cut Off Oil to North Korea or Else

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reports: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday appeared to threaten to disrupt Chinese crude oil shipments to North Korea following the hermit kingdom’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.

China’s refusal to completely cut off energy exports to North Korea have been a sticking point as the United States leads the charge to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Haley revealed during a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York City that President Donald Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday morning to tell him the time has come for China to cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea.

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

“We now turn to President Xi to also take that stand. We believe he has an opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries. China must show leadership and follow through. China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” she said.

Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea launches ICBM – South Korea FIRES missile back

Read the rest of this entry »


Disinformation vs. Democracy: Authoritarians Outspending U.S.

Authoritarian regimes like Russia and China are outspending the United States in the realm of soft power, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told the National Democratic Institute’s annual Democracy Dinner at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. last night.

“Our budget is $650 million—a fraction of what our adversaries spend,” he said “Today, Russia is spending over a billion dollars on covert propaganda operations,” he added. “Russian TV, radio, and internet bots continue to push misinformation without almost no pushback from the US.”

The authoritarian threat required greater investment in non-kinetic resources for exerting influence abroad, Murphy added.

“We have more people working at military grocery stores than diplomats deployed abroad,” he said.

Facebook estimates that 10 million people saw the [Kremlin’s] paid ads and up to 150 million people saw other content from the fake accounts, which Facebook has traced to the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed troll farm, WIRED reports:
Psychologists and students of advertising say the ads were cleverly designed to look like other internet memes, and to appeal to readers’ emotions. Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology at NYU, says he was surprised at the sophistication of the campaign. “It wasn’t transparent lies. It was just pushing our buttons,” says Van Bavel. “To me, this is more pernicious. It’s not a matter of fiction that we can root out with fact-checking. It’s more about turning Americans against each other.”

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“The IRA are not amateurs, they’re clearly familiarizing themselves with the kind of content that resonates with the target audiences,” says Renee DiResta, researcher with Data for Democracy, a nonprofit group that has been digging into the data on Russian-linked accounts.

The threat of disinformation and other active measures employed by the Kremlin requires adaptation and innovation from the advanced democracies, according to NATO’s Secretary General.

“Defense is no longer about just looking at a map and deciding where to place armies,” Jens Stoltenberg said this week. “It’s also about countering misinformation. Protecting infrastructure. Making our societies resilient to attack.”

“The geography of danger has shifted,” he added.

The NDI dinner honored three civil society groups on the front lines of confronting disinformation and false news – . Rappler from the Philippines, the Ukraine-based StopFake and the Oxford Internet Institute.

“When a lie is repeated 1 million times it becomes truth, especially when it’s state-sponsored hate,” said Rapplerdotcom‘s Maria Ressa. “A sock puppet network of 26 fake accounts can reach 3 million.”

Disinformation “exploits the fracture lines of society,” she said, adding that she received an average of 90 hate messages per hour.” Read the rest of this entry »


Army Tests New Super-Soldier Exoskeleton

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(Photo: lockheed)

The Army is testing an exoskeleton technology which uses AI to analyze and replicate individual walk patterns, provide additional torque, power and mobility.

Army evaluators have been assessing a Lockheed-built FORTIS knee-stress-release-device exoskeleton with soldiers at Fort A.P. Hill as part of a focus on fielding new performance enhancing soldier technologies.

Using independent actuators, motors and lightweight conformal structures, lithium ion battery powered FORTIS allows soldiers to carry 180 pounds up five flights of stairs while expending less energy.

“We’ve had this on some of the Army’s elite forces, and they were able to run with high agility carrying full loads,” Keith Maxwell, senior program manager, exoskeleton technology, Lockheed Martin..said.

Lockheed engineers say FORTIS could prove particularly impactful in close-quarters urban combat because it  enhances soldier mobility, speed and power.

Read the rest of this entry »


How Not to Cover Mass Shootings

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Illustration: Doug Chayka

The often sensationalistic media attention given to perpetrators is central to why massacres are happening more.

N. Schulman reports: It isn’t your imagination: Mass shootings are getting deadlier and more frequent. A recent FBI report on “active shooters” from 2000 to 2015 found that the number of incidents more than doubled from the first to the second half of the period. Four of the five deadliest shootings in American history happened in the past five years, and 2017 already far exceeds any previous year for the number of casualties.

Though we seem to be plunging ever deeper into a dark night, researchers now have a far clearer view of a key factor in the violence. A long-standing theory has matured into a body of evidence that can no longer be dismissed: The level of attention paid to mass shootings is central to why they keep happening.

The idea that some crimes might be self-spreading, like a disease, was proposed as early as 1890, when the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde labeled murders copying Jack the Ripper “suggesto-imitative assaults.” For mass shootings, the effect was well known among researchers by the early 2000s, when a wealth of information allowed forensic psychiatrist Paul E. Mullen to conclude, “These massacres are acts of mimesis, and their perpetrators are imitators.”

But the research has solidified in just the last few years. In 2015, a pair of studies analyzed databases cataloging nearly all U.S. mass shootings. They produced the first comprehensive statistical evidence that shootings occur in clusters rather than randomly across time.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ.com]

One of the studies, led by mathematician Sherry Towers of Arizona State University, used a contagion model previously applied to analyze viral videos and terrorist attacks. It found that the likelihood of a mass shooting is significantly higher when another mass shooting has recently occurred. The period of increased probability lasts, on average, for 13 days, the study found. (Notably, Dr. Towers did not find a contagion effect for shootings in which three or fewer people were killed.) The other study, conducted by Fresno State criminologist Jason Kissner, employed a different statistical modeling technique but also found an increased likelihood lasting for a similar period.

Media pressed in a day after the Dec. 14, 2012 killing of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. by a lone gunman.

These findings are not yet conclusive. A study published in July by criminologist Adam Lankford and psychologist Sara Tomek, both of the University of Alabama, claimed that the clustering effects were not significantly different from random variation. Read the rest of this entry »


Tighter Gun Laws Will Leave Libertarians Better-Armed Than Everybody Else

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In a politically polarized America, gun control is destined to be obeyed primarily by its advocates.

reports: Has it occurred to anybody that when restrictive laws are imposed, they’re likely to have the greatest impact on the people most willing to obey them?

The past week saw yet another invocation by the usual suspects of the supposed need for tighter gun controls. This time, we had a special emphasis from lawmakers on such “innovations” as banning people convicted of domestic abuse from owning firearms—which is to say, restrictions that are already on the books and have been in place for years, but which haven’t had the wished-for effect. Honestly, so many of gun-controllers’ preferred laws have been implemented that they can’t be expected to know that their dreams have already come true. But laws aren’t magic spells that ward off evil; they’re threats of consequences against violators, enforced by imperfect and often incompetent people, and noted or ignored by frequently resistant targets.

Gun controls then, like other restrictions and prohibitions, have their biggest effect on those who agree with them and on the unlucky few scofflaws caught by the powers-that-be, and are otherwise mostly honored in the breach. As a result, gun laws intended to reduce the availability of firearms are likely to leave those who most vigorously disagree with them disproportionately well-armed relative to the rest of society. That raises some interesting prospects in a country as politically polarized and factionalized as the United States.

That gun restrictions are widely disobeyed is a well-documented fact. I’ve written before that Connecticut’s recent “assault weapons” registration law achieved an underwhelming 15 percent compliance rate, and New York’s similar requirement resulted in 5 percent compliance. When California imposed restrictions on such weapons in 1990, at the end of the registration period “only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in private hands in the state have been registered,” The New York Times reported. When New Jersey went a step further that same year and banned the sale and possession of “assault weapons,” disobedience was so widespread that the Times concluded, “More than a year after New Jersey imposed the toughest assault-weapons law in the country, the law is proving difficult if not impossible to enforce.” That’s in states with comparatively strong public support for restrictions on gun ownership.

[Read the full story here, at reason.com]

Across the Atlantic, despite varying but generally tight laws on gun ownership, “Contrary to widely-accepted national myths, public gun ownership is commonplace in most European states,” according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey. How can that be? “Public officials readily admit that unlicensed owners and unregistered guns greatly outnumber legal ones,” possibly because of “a pervasive culture of non-cooperation with public authorities” in many places.

Just a thought, but existing examples of defiance of gun laws in the United States might be an indication that “a pervasive culture of non-cooperation with public authorities” is exactly what we should expect in response to any future successes gun controllers might achieve legislation-wise. Read the rest of this entry »


Richard Pollock: Obama Rarely Prosecuted Criminals Who Sought To Buy Guns Illegally

Attorney General Eric Holder To Resign

Richard Pollock reports: More than 100,000 convicted felons or other “prohibited persons” tried to buy guns each year during President Barack Obama’s administration by lying on their applications, but the Justice Department only considered prosecuting about 30 to 40 people each year, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

The Obama administration may have publicly aligned itself with anti-gun activists, but it consistently turned a blind eye to prosecute known criminals who tried to buy guns.

A June 2016 Justice Department Inspector General’s report revealed that between 2008 and 2015 the U.S. Attorneys office considered prosecuting “less than 32 people per year” for lying on form 4473, the federal application to buy guns.

Surprisingly, the Obama administration’s harshest critics are gun manufacturers themselves.

“People could do what is called, ‘lie and buy,’” explained Lawrence Keane, a senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that represents gun manufacturers.

“But very infrequently is anyone ever prosecuted. What’s the point of making it a crime if you don’t enforce it?” he asked in an interview with TheDCNF.

“It’s a long-standing problem. And it was certainly true over the last eight years where the Department of Justice did not prosecute people,” he complained.

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Daniel D. Roberts, who in 2009 was named Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, confirmed that more than 100,000 criminals each year attempt to buy guns even though they have rap sheets.

“When I was there, it was running around 100,000 a year of firearm purchasers that tried to go through to buy guns. I think it’s more than 100,000 now,” he told TheDCNF in an interview. “That should trigger a referral to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for investigation for lying on the forms.”

Two of every 10 gun denials referred to the ATF was sent to field offices for prosecution, a Justice Department report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 and 2014  found. Eight of ten never faced prosecution, according to the report.

[Read the full story here, at dailycaller.com]

Roberts ran the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks, that is the main tool the bureau uses to conduct background checks of potential buyers of guns. He left the bureau only last year.

Dave Workman, a senior editor of the Gunmag.com, a publication owned by the pro-gun rights Second Amendment Foundation, claims the Obama administration simply didn’t want to spend the money to prosecute people who lied on their form 4473.

“The Justice Department didn’t want to spend the money or interest or time to prosecute the key people who lied on their 4473,” he told TheDCNF in an interview. Read the rest of this entry »


Study Finds Mass Killings Not On The Rise Over Past Decade 

Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.

CHICAGO (CBS) Nancy Harty reports: Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.

Contrary to what you might think, mass murders are not on the rise, according to computer science professor Sheldon Jacobson.

Jacobson said there were 323 such killings – in which four or more people are killed in one incident – between January 2006 and October 2016. The mass killings appeared to be evenly distributed over that time, meaning their rate remained stable over the past decade, and did not spike during any particular season or year.

“The data doesn’t lie. The rate of these events just is not increasing as the perception is given in the media. This is just what it is,” he said.

The professor used a decade’s worth of data from USA Today that was cross-checked by the FBI. He said his analysis also found public shooting sprees like the Las Vegas massacre are not the most common type of mass killing. Read the rest of this entry »


[AUDIO] Dangerous sound? What Americans heard in Cuba attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: There are multiple, distinct tones that sound to some like they’re colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.

The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some U.S. Embassy workers heard in Havana in a series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks. The recording, released Thursday by the AP, is the first disseminated publicly of the many taken in Cuba of mysterious sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.

The recordings themselves are not believed to be dangerous to those who listen. Sound experts and physicians say they know of no sound that can cause physical damage when played for short durations at normal levels through standard equipment like a cellphone or computer.

What device produced the original sound remains unknown. Americans affected in Havana reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.

Whether there’s a direct relationship between the sound and the physical damage suffered by the victims is also unclear. The U.S. says that in general the attacks caused hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep and other problems.

The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the U.S. Navy, which has advanced capabilities for analyzing acoustic signals, and to the intelligence services, the AP has learned. But the recordings have not significantly advanced U.S. knowledge about what is harming diplomats.

The Navy did not respond to requests for comment on the recording. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert wouldn’t comment on the tape’s authenticity.

Cuba has denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. The U.S. hasn’t blamed anyone and says it still doesn’t know what or who is responsible. But the government has faulted President Raul Castro’s government for failing to protect American personnel, and Nauert said Thursday that Cuba “may have more information than we are aware of right now.”

[Read the full story here, at apnews.com]

“We believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” said White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Not all Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds. Of those who did, it’s not clear they heard precisely the same thing.

Yet the AP has reviewed several recordings from Havana taken under different circumstances, and all have variations of the same high-pitched sound. Individuals who have heard the noise in Havana confirm the recordings are generally consistent with what they heard.

“That’s the sound,” one of them said.

The recording being released by the AP has been digitally enhanced to increase volume and reduce background noise, but has not been otherwise altered.

The sound seemed to manifest in pulses of varying lengths — seven seconds, 12 seconds, two seconds — with some sustained periods of several minutes or more. Then there would be silence for a second, or 13 seconds, or four seconds, before the sound abruptly started again. Read the rest of this entry »


Statistician: After Researching Gun Violence, I No Longer Believe in Gun Control 

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‘The case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence.’

Allahpundit writes: Her name is Leah Libresco, formerly of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, where she crunched the numbers in a study of all 33,000 gun homicides in the United States annually. She went in thinking that the usual liberal menu of anti-gun policies would reduce that number dramatically. She came out concluding that “the only selling point [of those policies] is that gun owners hate them.” That’s an interesting way to phrase leftist conventional wisdom in an era when the right’s tribalism draws so much scrutiny. Often in the age of Trump it really does feel as though conservatism is defined as “whatever makes liberals cry.” Libresco’s takeaway on the efficacy of mainstream gun-control policies is that they’re appealing to the people who support them mainly to the extent they make gun aficionados cry.

Her advice? Instead of focusing on feelgood policies that won’t do much of anything to reduce gun violence or on massively heavy-handed policies like confiscation, which have zero chance of passing, instead consider policies that will address the social pathologies that drive the three most common forms of gun homicides — suicide, gang violence, and domestic violence.

Many of Libresco’s arguments will be familiar to right-wingers, but it’s one thing to endorse them as a matter of ideology and another to endorse them as a matter of hard data.

I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

[Read the full story here, at Hot Air]

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos…

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn’t even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?

The last point is especially important. As horrendous as mass shootings are, by far the most terrible threat posed by guns is that they’re suicide machines. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATED: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Vegas Shooting Suspect 

At least 50 are dead and 400 others have been injured from the Sunday night massacre.

Amanda Prestigiacomo reports: On Sunday night, at around 10 p.m. local time, a suspected lone gunman identified as Stephen Craig Paddock opened fire at the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest country music festival, killing at least 58 people and injuring at least 400 others. Victims’ names have yet to be released, but Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo has confirmed that one officer was killed and another remains in critical condition.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Wire]

Paddock was found dead by officers in a hotel room on the 32nd floor; he reportedy took his own life.

The massacre is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Reports are continuing to pour in, but here’s what we know about the alleged shooter and a female companion, person of interest Marilou Danley, in the case so far.

1. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, was a 64-year-old local man from Mesquite, Nevada, and was “known by police.”

There have been reports that the gunman lived in a retirement home, though this remains unconfirmed. His hometown, Mesquite, is a small town that contains a few retirement communities.

See the confirmed image of Paddock from companion Marilou Danley’s Facebook page, below:

2. Paddock used a fully automatic weapon. Additionally, upon searching the suspect’s home, officers found “several weapons.”

3. According to Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the motive remains unclear but is not suspected to be terrorism, meaning it was likely not associated with a political or religious aim.

“No,” said Sheriff Lombardo, when asked the massacre was a suspected “act of terrorism.”

“Not at this point,” he said. “We believe it was a local individual. He resides here locally. I’m not at liberty to give you his place of residence yet, because it’s an ongoing investigation, we don’t know what his belief system was at this time. … Right now we believe he is the sole aggressor at this point and the scene is static.”

Paddock’s brother, Eric Paddock, told the Daily Mail Monday morning that his brother must have “snapped,” and said he had no political or religious affiliations that he was aware of. Read the full comments of the shooter’s brother here. Read the rest of this entry »


Hackers Gain Direct Access to US Power Grid Controls 

PALO ALTO, CA -JULY 12: Power line towers are shown July 12, 2002 in Palo Alto, California. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission boosted the maximum price of electricity from $55.26 per megawatt hour to $91.87 in the wake of record-breaking temperatures for the week, including 112 degrees in Redding, California today. One megawatt is enough to power about 750 homes. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hackers had the power to cause blackouts, Symantec says. And yes, most signs point to Russia.

Andy Greenberg writes: In an era of hacker attacks on critical infrastructure, even a run-of-the-mill malware infection on an electric utility’s network is enough to raise alarm bells. But the latest collection of power grid penetrations went far deeper: Security firm Symantec is warning that a series of recent hacker attacks not only compromised energy companies in the US and Europe but also resulted in the intruders gaining hands-on access to power grid operations—enough control that they could have induced blackouts on American soil at will.

Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey—none of which Symantec will name—their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.

“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage … being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”

Never before have hackers been shown to have that level of control of American power company systems, Chien notes. The only comparable situations, he says, have been the repeated hacker attacks on the Ukrainian grid that twice caused power outages in the country in late 2015 and 2016, the first known hacker-induced blackouts.

The Usual Suspects

Security firms like FireEye and Dragos have pinned those Ukrainian attacks on a hacker group known as Sandworm, believed to be based in Russia. But Symantec stopped short of blaming the more recent attacks on any country or even trying to explain the hackers’ motives. Chien says the company has found no connections between Sandworm and the intrusions it has tracked. Nor has it directly connected the Dragonfly 2.0 campaign to the string of hacker intrusions at US power companies—including a Kansas nuclear facility—known as Palmetto Fusion, which unnamed officials revealed in July and later tied to Russia.

Chien does note, however, that the timing and public descriptions of the Palmetto Fusion hacking campaigns match up with its Dragonfly findings. “It’s highly unlikely this is just coincidental,” Chien says. But he adds that while the Palmetto Fusion intrusions included a breach of a nuclear power plant, the most serious DragonFly intrusions Symantec tracked penetrated only non-nuclear energy companies, which have less strict separations of their internet-connected IT networks and operational controls. Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea’s Ultimatum to America

 writes: The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.

If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.

In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.

The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.

First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.

Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.

Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.

The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited. Read the rest of this entry »


The Cajun Navy’s New Naval Destroyer ‘CNS Thibodeaux’ Has Been Delivered Just In Time

LAFAYETTE, LA – With the heavy rains quickly approaching the Acadiana area over the next few days, the Cajun Navy can take heart in the fact that their new naval destroyer has been delivered to them in their efforts to help the local populous.

Thanks to plenty of donations to the Cajun Navy after last year’s August floods, the group were able to purchase the $1.8b Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer, and it seems that it has been completed just in the nick of time.

“We were loading up the trusty yet old wooden boat onto the back of a truck when the contractor called”, explained Cajun Navy member Robert Kraft, “He said that it was ready for usage and that he’d parked it in a Youngsville neighborhood with the keys in the ignition. It couldn’t have come at a better time, what with Harvey hitting the area as it has done.” Read the rest of this entry »


African-American Women are Increasingly Buying Guns

Up to 59 percent of African-American households now view owning a gun as a “necessity,” according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center released this month, and African-American women have outpaced all other races and genders in terms of securing concealed carry permits in Texas between 2000 and 2016, according to demographic information released by the state. It wasn’t always this way — as recently as 2012, Pew had found that less than a third of black families saw gun ownership as a positive. Philip Smith, the founder of the National African American Gun Association, says that politics — and police shootings such as the recent slaying of Philando Castile — have caused the sudden upswing in gun ownership. And, in his opinion, owning a gun is perhaps the only way that African-American men and women can truly protect themselves.

CONCEAL CARRY ADVOCATE ANTONIA OKAFOR (TWITTER).

CONCEAL CARRY ADVOCATE ANTONIA OKAFOR (TWITTER).

“Regardless of what side you’re on, in the fabric of society right now, there’s an undertone, a tension that you see that groups you saw on the fringes 20 years ago are now in the open,” said Smith. “It seems to me it’s very cool to be a racist right now, it’s in fashion, it’s a trend.”

Marchelle Tigner, a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor, says that black women are particularly likely to be victims of domestic violence. She became a gun instructor, she explained, in order to give other women of color the fighting chance she wished she’d had.

“It’s important, especially for black women, to learn how to shoot,” Tigner said. “We need to learn how to defend ourselves.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Terrifying Video Shows Atlantic City Car Chase and Shootout

Newly released footage shows the moment that police killed 27-year-old Antoquan T. Watson during a dramatic shootout. Watson had led police on a dangerous chase that ended with him leaving his vehicle and pointing a gun at responding officers. He was shot 45 times, and the officers were found not guilty of any wrongdoing.


Czech Republic Plans To Combat Terrorism By Arming Its Citizens

Czech Republic Votes To Put Gun Rights In Constitution.

‘In reaction to the recent increase of security threats’

Jacob Bojesson The lower house of the Czech parliament voted to put gun owners’ rights in the constitution Wednesday, arguing it protects citizens from Islamist terrorists.

The European Commission passed stricter gun laws in December in response to a growing terror threat. The Czech Republic was one of three countries to oppose the changes, and it is now about to make it legal for citizens to use firearms to protect the security of the country.

“This constitutional bill is in reaction to the recent increase of security threats, especially the danger of violent acts such as isolated terrorist attacks … active attackers or other violent hybrid threats,” a draft of the bill reads.

Critics argue the changes will never take effect as European Union directives overrule the proposed legislation.

“Putting it in the constitution is therefore nonsense,” Jan Farský, the deputy mayor of Chovanec, told Hospodarske Noviny. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Antifa Learn How To Fight in Surreal Non-Parody Training Video (REACTION) 

There’s been a lot of discussion in the United States over whether the group collectively known as “Antifa” (acronym for Anti-Fascist) would ever act out in such a way that would spark a civil war. People who are fearful of this cite the fact that Antifa has been spotted rabble rousing at Trump rallies and the like, trying to provoke the right into a fight. Cases such as UC Berkeley where the Professor allegedly hit someone over the head with a bike lock in a sneak attack. Then there’s the video of mobs of Antifa goons dressed in all black waving their flag while busting out windows and throwing objects at rally goers and sometimes police. Could all of this culminate into an unavoidable civil war?

Maybe not so much. Take a look at this video and see who Antifa really is, unmasked. Beyond the romanticization of them from the mainstream media, beyond the stereotype of them, see who they really are. What you’ll see are a people who are really afraid of the world more than the world should be afraid of them. Many of these guys have never engaged in any type of real one-on-one combat before in their lives. The lack muscle tone or any type of awareness on a street level. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Hong Kong’s PLA Garrison Stages Biggest Military Parade in 20 Years as Xi Jinping Inspects Troops 

President Xi Jinping today inspected 20 squads of the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong at the biggest military parade since the city’s handover to China – marking 20 years since the army was first stationed here in 1997.

Xi Asserts Authority in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected troops based in Hong Kong on Friday as he asserts Chinese authority over the former British colony China took control of 20 years ago.

Xi rode in an open-top jeep past rows of soldiers lined up on an airstrip on his visit to the People’s Liberation Army garrison. He called out “Salute all the comrades” and “Salute to your dedication” as he rode by each of the 20 troop formations.

Armored personnel carriers, combat vehicles, helicopters and other pieces of military hardware were arrayed behind the troops.

It was a rare display of the Chinese military’s might in Hong Kong, where it normally maintains a low-key presence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects Chinese troops of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison at the Shek Kong Barracks in Hong Kong, Friday, June 30, 2017. Xi landed in Hong Kong Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of Beijing taking control of the former British colony, accompanied by a formidable layer of security as authorities showed little patience for pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Xi, wearing a buttoned-up black jacket in the steamy heat, spent about 10 minutes reviewing the troops at the Shek Kong base in Hong Kong’s suburban New Territories. It’s part of a visit to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, when Britain gave up control of the Asian financial hub to China on July 1, 1997.

Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES HE DID: Canadian Sniper Sets World Record with 2.2-Mile Pickoff of ISIS Fighter

Michael Obel reports: A Canadian sniper set what appears to be a record, picking off an ISIS fighter from some 2.2 miles away, and disrupting a potentially deadly operation by the terror group in Iraq.

Shooting experts say the fatal shot at a world-record distance of 11,316 feet underscores how stunningly sophisticated military snipers are becoming. The feat, pulled off by a special forces sniper from Canada’s Joint Task Force 2, smashed the previous distance record for successful sniper shots by some 3,280 feet, a record set by a British sniper.

“ … the true challenge here was being able to calculate the actual wind speed and direction all the way to the target.”

Ryan Cleckner, former U.S. Army Ranger sniper

“The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of the Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target from 3,540 metres [2.2 miles],” the Canadian military said in a statement.

While officials would not say where the shot took place, the statement noted the command “provides its expertise to Iraqi security force to detect, identify and defeat Daesh activities from well behind the Iraqi security force front line in Mosul.”

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The new record was set using a McMillan TAC-50, a .50-caliber weapon and the largest shoulder-fired firearm in existence.

Ryan Cleckner, a former U.S. Army Ranger sniper who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and wrote the authoritative “Long Range Shooting Handbook,” called the feat an “incredible” accomplishment, one that owes as much if not more to the spotter’s expertise than the shooter’s skill.

“The spotter would have had to successfully calculate five factors: distance, wind, atmospheric conditions and the speed of the earth’s rotation at their latitude,” Cleckner told Fox News.

“Because wind speed and direction would vary over the two miles the bullet traveled, the true challenge here was being able to calculate the actual wind speed and direction all the way to the target.”

Atmospheric conditions also would have posed a huge challenge for the spotter.

“To get the atmospheric conditions just right, the spotter would have had to understand the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure of the air the round had to travel through. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Travis Air Force Base On Lockdown Due to ‘Security Incident’

Ashley Bunch reports: Travis Air Force Base in California on Wednesday ordered personnel to shelter in place in response to a “real world security incident.”

Travis said on its Facebook page at about 3:30 p.m. Pacific time that officials were responding to the incident, and asked the public to stay away so emergency responders could deal with it. About 15 minutes later, the base said on its official Twitter feed that a shelter in place had been declared, and that people should lock doors and windows.

In response to a comment on the original Facebook post, Travis said that the warning was not connected to a base exercise already scheduled for the day. Read the rest of this entry »


This is Where the Government Will Hide During a Nuclear War 

Maybe Doomsday preppers aren’t so crazy after all.

Journalist Garrett Graff takes readers through the 60-year history of the government’s secret Doomsday plans to survive nuclear war in his painstakingly researched book Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die (Simon & Schuster), out now.

[Order the book Raven Rock:Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die from Amazon.com]

He focuses on the Cold War-era government bunkers across the country that were built to house the President and various Washington elites — members of a so-called “shadow government” in the worst nuclear Armageddon scenario.

Since September 11, 2001, Congress has intensified their interest in and funding of top secret “Continuity of Government” (COG) in ways not seen since the Cold War. With hundreds of newly declassified documents, the book, currently in development with NBC as a TV show, includes never-before-heard intel on the country’s top secret bunkers — mythical places like Raven Rock and Mount Weather.

Here’s the low down on some of these bunkers down below…

Raven Rock

Lillington, NC • For military
Built near Camp David to house the military, as a backup for the Pentagon — and perhaps even the President — during an emergency, Raven Rock has retained an air of secrecy ever since construction started in 1948.

Not that it could remain completely clandestine, given the 300-person team (including miners poached from theLincoln Tunnel dig) who carved a 3,100-foot tunnel out of granite in Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.

“There were very few engineers with the expertise to hollow out a mountain and build, in essence, a free-standing city inside of it. The US government turned to the construction firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, which had developed unique tunneling expertise working on the New York City subway,” Graff told The Post.

Locals caught on and word spread to the media, who dubbed the project “Harry’s Hole,” after President Truman who greenlit the project.

Opened in 1953 and designed “to be the centerpiece of a large military emergency hub,” Raven Rock provided 100,000 feet of office space (not counting, Graff writes, “the corridors, bathrooms, dining facility, infirmary or communications and utilities areas”) that could hold about 1,400 people comfortably. Two sets of 34-ton blast doors and curved 1,000-foot-long tunnels reduce the impact of a bomb blast. The compound has undergone several rounds of upgrades — new buildings were added as well as updated technology and air filtration systems. Read the rest of this entry »


Former Official: Obama Admin ‘Systematically Disbanded’ Units Investigating Iran’s Terrorism Financing Networks

 reports: The Obama administration “systematically disbanded” law enforcement investigative units across the federal government focused on disrupting Iranian, Syrian, and Venezuelan terrorism financing networks out of concern the work could cause friction with Iranian officials and scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a former U.S. official who spent decades dismantling terrorist financial networks.

David Asher, who previously served as an adviser to Gen. John Allen at the Defense and State Departments, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday that top officials across several key law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Obama administration “systematically disbanded” law enforcement activities targeting the terrorism financing operations of Iran, Hezbollah, and Venezuela in the lead-up to and during the nuclear negotiations with Tehran.

“Senior leadership, presiding, directing, and overseeing various sections [of these agencies] and portions of the U.S. intelligence community systematically disbanded any internal or external stakeholder action that threatened to derail the administration’s policy agenda focused on Iran,” he testified.

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Asher now serves on the board of directors of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies‘ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance and is an adjunct fellow at the Center for New American Security, two national security think tanks.

He attributed the motivation for decisions to dismantle the investigative units to “concerns about interfering with the Iran deal,” a reference to the nuclear deal forged between the U.S., five other world powers, and Iran during the final years of the Obama administration.

As a result, “several top cops” retired and the U.S. government lost their years of expertise. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Flak Over Germany – B-17 Crew Rare Footage WW 2 

B-17 Flying Fortresses in overseas combat theaters during World War II. The B-17 may have first seen combat in American markings in the Philippines, but it would earn its enduring fame with the Eighth Air Force, based in England and fighting over Occupied Europe. The story of the B-17 would become the story of the VIII Bomber Command (later Eighth Air Force) strategic heavy bombardment campaign of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II

Initially equipped with B-17Es in 1942, the Eighth Air Force received B-17Fs in Jan 1943 and B-17Gs in Nov 1943. Flying Fortresses were employed in long-range strategic bombardment operations over Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany, August 1942 – May 1945 attacking enemy military, transportation and industrial targets as part of the United States’ air offensive against Nazi Germany.


North Korea’s Closest Major US City, Seattle, Wants to Plan for Possible Nuclear Attack 

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SEATTLE – Dan Springer’s latest test launch over the weekend has raised concerns among U.S. officials. The Pentagon says the ballistic missile flew 1,000 miles higher than NASA’s International Space Station. It was then able to re-enter earth’s atmosphere and splash down just 60 miles from Russia. One official told Fox News it was a “big step forward” in North Korea’s nuclear missile program.

Emergency planners in Hawaii, the closest state to North Korea, have taken notice and are evaluating existing nuclear attack response plans. Meanwhile, another possible target on the West Coast is barred from taking any steps to plan for a nuclear attack.

Washington State allows evacuation plans for every disaster scenario except a nuclear bomb. Former state Rep. Dick Nelson remembers the prevailing thinking in the legislature at the time concerning response plans in the event of nuclear war.

“You are really sending a message that you’re getting ready to do something maybe yourself,” Nelson said.

The law passed in 1984, seven years before the end of the Cold War. It was the opposite approach taken by President Ronald Reagan, whose peace through strength doctrine helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A current Washington state senator says the current law is irresponsible and naïve.

“I think it’s ridiculous and silly,” says state Sen. Mark Miloscia, “And sort of the head-in-the-sand mentality. If it has a probability of happening, prepare for it.”

Seattle could be in the crosshairs if North Korea’s leader, Kim Jung Un, ever did the unthinkable. Naval Base Kitsap reportedly has roughly 1,300 nuclear warheads — almost one-quarter of the U.S. arsenal — making it the largest stockpile of nukes in the world. The Puget Sound is also home to Joint Base Lewis McChord, home to the important Stryker Brigade. With the headquarters of Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, the region is a high-tech hub. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] U.S. Keeps Its Military Threat Alive While Pressing North Korea

Senators briefed at WH by military, intelligence officials.

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration said it is launching an urgent push, combining diplomatic pressure and the threat of military action in a bid to halt North Korea’s advancing nuclear-weapons program.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one of those who briefed senators at a classified briefing hosted by the White House on Wednesday, also plans to host a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, where he will propose international officials redouble efforts to enforce economic sanctions and isolate North Korea.

North Korea’s Missile Advancements

The State Department said Mr. Tillerson is considering harsh measures such as asking other countries to shut down North Korea’s embassies and other diplomatic facilities. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Perino & Krauthammer: North Korea Nuclear Threat Concern Remains High

 


[VIDEO] Moment of impact: Pentagon Releases Video of MOAB Strike


NBC’s Report Of Preemptive Strikes On North Korea Contested, Declared ‘Wildly Wrong’

Ryan Pickrell reports: Senior defense officials and administration officials are refuting NBC’s story that the U.S. will launch a preemptive strike on North Korea if it anticipates a sixth nuclear test.

“The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test,” NBC reported Thursday evening. The news outlet, citing multiple intelligence sources, claimed that the U.S. would use destroyers stationed nearby to launch the attack.

Citing multiple high-level sources, several journalists are saying that the report is “wildly wrong,” “crazy,” and “extremely dangerous.” VOA claims that the a “preemptive strike is NOT planned.” … (read more)

Source: The Daily Caller


[VIDEO] MEET THE MOTHER: The MOAB GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (commonly known as the Mother of All Bombs) is a large-yield conventional (non-nuclear) bomb, developed for the United State military by Albert L. Weimorts, Jr. of the Air Force Research Laboratory. At the time of development, it was touted as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed.

The bomb was designed to be delivered by a C-130 Hercules, primarily the MC-130E Combat Talon I or MC-130H Combat Talon II variants.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB pronounced /ˈm.æb/, commonly known as the Mother of All Bombs) is a large-yield conventional (non-nuclear) bomb, developed for the United States military by Albert L. Weimorts, Jr. of the Air Force Research Laboratory. At the time of development, it was touted as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed. The bomb was designed to be delivered by a C-130 Hercules, primarily the MC-130E Combat Talon I or MC-130H Combat Talon II variants.

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Since then, Russia has tested its “Father of All Bombs“, which is claimed to be four times as powerful as the MOAB.

The U.S. military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday just days after a Green Beret was killed fighting ISIS there, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox News.

The GBU-43B, a 21,000-pound conventional bomb, was dropped in Nangarhar Province.

The MAOB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast) is also known as the “Mother Of All bombs.” It was first tested in 2003, but hadn’t been used before Thursday.

For comparison, each Tomahawk cruise missile launched at Syria last week was 1,000-pounds each … (more)

Operational history

MOAB was first tested with the explosive tritonal on 11 March 2003, on Range 70 located at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. It was again tested on 21 November 2003.[2]

Aside from two test articles, the only known production is of 15 units at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in 2003 in support of the Iraq War. As of early 2007, none of those were known to have been used, although a single MOAB was moved to the Persian Gulf area in April 2003.[4]

On April 13, 2017, a MOAB was dropped on a target in the Nangarhar Province inside Afghanistan. It was the first non-testing use of the bomb.

Evaluations

The basic operational concept bears some similarity to the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter, which was used to clear heavily wooded areas in the Vietnam War and in Iraq to clear mines and later as a psychological weapon against the Iraqi military. After the psychological impact of the BLU-82 on enemy soldiers was witnessed, and no BLU-82 weapons remained, the MOAB was developed partly to continue the ability to intimidate Iraqi soldiers. Pentagon officials had suggested their intention to use MOAB as an anti-personnel weapon, as part of the “shock and awe” strategy integral to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] BREAKING: Footage from Russian Drones After Syria Attack

 


[VIDEO] US Missiles Target Syria Airfield in Response to Chemical Weapons Attack

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and report: The United States launched nearly five dozen cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield early Friday in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on the Damascus government since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011.

“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles targeted an airbase at Shayrat, located outside Homs. The missiles targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said initial indications were that the strike had “severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment … reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.” There was no immediate word about any casualties.

Trump said the base was used as the staging point for Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack on rebel-held territory, which killed as many as 72 civilians, including women and children.

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said from Mar-a-Lago, Fla. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the strike should cause a “big shift in Assad’s calculus.”

“Obviously the regime maintains a certain capability to commit mass murder with chemical weapons beyond this air field,” McMaster said. “But it was aimed at this airfield because we could trace that attack back to this facility. It was not a small strike.”

The U.S. missiles hit at 8:45 p.m. Eastern time, 3:45 a.m. Friday morning in Syria. Syrian state TV called the attack an “aggression” that lead to “losses.”

U.S. military officials said they informed their Russian counterparts of the impending attack in an effort to avoid any accident involving Russian forces. Nevertheless, Russia’s Deputy U.N. ambassador Vladimir Safronkov warned that any negative consequences from the strikes would be on the “shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful and tragic enterprise.”

Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that “there are Russians at the base,” but said they had been warned “multiple times” to leave. He did not know whether Russian aircraft were at the base when the missiles hit. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Terror Groups Using Commercial Drones in Attacks


[VIDEO] Reports of Syria Removing Its Chemical Weapons Were Greatly Exaggerated

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images


The Defense Department still uses 8-inch floppy disks and computers from the 1970s to coordinate nuclear forces

pentagon

writes: Dale Hayden, a senior researcher at the Air Force’s Air University, told an audience of aerospace experts earlier this month that proliferation of antisatellite technology has put America’s communications networks at risk. “In a conflict, it will be impossible to defend all of the space assets in totality,” he said. “Losses must be expected.”

It has never been easier for America’s adversaries—principally Russia and China, but also independent nonstate actors—to degrade the U.S. military’s ability to fight and communicate. Senior military officials have expressed grave doubts about the security of the Pentagon’s information systems and America’s ability to protect the wider commercial virtual infrastructure.

The U.S. Navy, under its mission to keep the global commons free, prevents tampering with undersea cables. But accidents—and worse—do happen. Last year a ship’s anchor severed a cable in the English Channel, slowing internet service on the island of Jersey. In 2013 the Egyptian coast guard arrested three scuba divers trying to cut a cable carrying a third of the internet traffic between Europe and Egypt. “When communications networks go down, the financial services sector does not grind to a halt, rather it snaps to a halt,” warned a senior staffer to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2009. Trillions of dollars in daily trading depends on GPS, which is kept free by the Air Force.

There are now an estimated 17.6 billion devices around the world connected to the internet, including more than six billion smartphones. The tech industry expects those numbers to double by 2020. That growth is dependent, however, on secure and reliable access to intercontinental undersea fiber-optic cables, which carry 99% of global internet traffic, and a range of satellite services.

The U.S. military is working on ways of making them more resilient. For instance, the Tactical Undersea Network Architectures program promises rapidly deployable, lightweight fiber-optic backup cables, and autonomous undersea vehicles could soon be used to monitor and repair cables. In space, the military is leading the way with advanced repair satellites as well as new and experimental GPS satellites, which will enhance both military and civilian signals. Read the rest of this entry »


Seattle Gun Tax Fails to Generate Projected Revenue, Succeeds in Burdening Rights

On March 16, 2017, the Seattle Times reported that Seattle city officials were reluctant to release data on the revenue generated by the city’s firearms and ammunition tax, citing taxpayer confidentiality concerns. Less than a week later, we now know the more likely reason that Seattle failed to disclose this tax revenue; because the money raised fell woefully short of the figure projected by supporters of the tax.

In July 2015, Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess proposed legislation he dubbed a “Gun Violence Tax,” contending that “It’s time for the gun industry to help defray” the cost of criminal violence perpetrated with guns. Burgess’s proposal was unanimously passed by the city council on August 10, 2015. The legislation imposed a $25 tax on firearm sales, a $.02 per round tax on .22 and smaller caliber ammunition, and a $.05 per round tax on ammunition greater than .22 caliber. The revenue was intended to be used to fund anti-gun research at the Harborview Medical Center.

On August 24, 2015, NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation filed suit in King County Superior Court to prevent the city from enforcing the new tax. NRA’s complaint pointed out that the tax violates the Second Amendment and is also impermissible under Washington law. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that governments are not permitted to attack constitutionally-protected conduct through taxation. In the First Amendment context, the Court struck down a Minnesota use tax on ink and paper used in publishing. In that case – Minneapolis Star Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue – the Court warned that “A power to tax differentially, as opposed to a power to tax generally, gives a government a powerful weapon against the taxpayer selected.”

Washington’s firearms preemption statute also bars Seattle’s tax. Section 9.41.290 of the Revised Code of Washington states,

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components.

and,

Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Washington law does provide a small number of specific exemptions to the state firearm preemption statute, but these concern local zoning in relating to firearms dealers, carry in certain municipal buildings, and the discharge of firearms.

Despite the plain language of Washington’s preemption statute, in December 2015 King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson upheld Seattle’s tax. NRA and our allies have appealed the court’s decision, and the case now sits with the Washington State Supreme Court.

In advocating for the tax, Burgess and other supporters of the legislation repeatedly cited figures from the City Budget Office that claimed the tax would raise between $300,000 and $500,000 a year. In an email to the Times this week, Burgess confessed, “During its first year, the firearms and ammunition tax payments received by the City were less than $200,000.” It is not clear how much less than $200,000 the city collected.

According to the Times, to come up with the outlandish $300,000-$500,000 figure, the City Budget Office “obtained the annual number of background checks for gun sales in Washington. Then they looked up what percentage of Washington’s licensed gun dealers were in Seattle and used that to guess the number of firearms sales in the city.” In addition to the fact that its analysis was too rudimentary to offer an accurate estimate of gun sales in Seattle, the budget office appears to have made no attempt to predict the impact the significant tax would have on the behavior of gun dealers and buyers.

Making this projection appear even more ridiculous is that the 2016 tax shortfall occurred in a year that witnessed record gun sales nationally and in the Evergreen State. In 2016, there were 713,996 NICS background checks conducted in Washington, whereas the 2015 total was 502,280. Washingtonians were buying plenty of guns in 2016, but as many predicted when the tax was proposed, not in Seattle. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Spy Ship Returns to East Coast of U.S.

Feb. 27, 2014: A Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov SSV-175, is seen docked at a Havana port. REUTERS

Russian spy ship that made a foray near a U.S. Navy submarine base in Connecticut in February is once again in international waters off the East Coast of the United States, presumably to monitor activity at American Navy bases.

The Viktor Leonov spy ship is now 50 miles east of the U.S. Navy’s submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, according to a defense official. The ship traveled there from a port in Havana, Cuba, where it docked for five days.

The Leonov’s earlier visit off the Eastern Seaboard in mid-February drew international attention although American officials noted at the time that the visits have become a regular occurrence in recent years.

Serena Marshall/ABC News The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov CCB-175 is parked at a Havana port as the US starts talks Cuba, Jan. 21, 2015.

Serena Marshall/ABC News. The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov CCB-175 is parked at a Havana port as the US starts talks Cuba, Jan. 21, 2015.

For one day in February the ship was offshore of the U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut, the furthest north the Russian intelligence ship had ever traveled up the East Coast of the United States.

Following that brief stop off New England, the Leonov headed south where it spent almost two weeks east of the U.S. Navy base at Norfolk, Virginia. Read the rest of this entry »