Tag: sputnik

How the Hague Ruling on South China Sea May Turn Asia Pacific Into Hotbed

The Asia-Pacific region may become a stage for international intrigue following the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Tuesday ruling on the disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The decision of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that Beijing has no legal basis for its claims in the South China Sea may instigate yet another geopolitical crisis, this time in the Asia-Pacific region.

The US Military Announces Plans to Acquire Self-Driving Tanks

The US Army is set to drive a convoy of autonomous tractor-trailers along the Interstate 69 highway in Michigan next week, in the first step toward driverless military vehicles.

The Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) announced on Thursday that it has teamed up with Michigan Department of Transportation to test vehicles fitted with Car-2-X communication technology on a public highway.

Revival of US Cold War-Era Committee to Echo McCarthy Fear Tactics

The proposed revival of a Cold War-era committee to hunt for Russian espionage and assassination plots in the United States was just a tactic to foster fear-mongering among the American people, AT&T/National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Mark Klein told Sputnik.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2017 Intelligence Authorization Bill includes a request that the White House reinstate a Cold-War-era presidentially-appointed group to unmask Russian spies and uncover Russian-sponsored assassinations.

The group, which would include personnel from the State Department, intelligence community and several other executive offices, would meet monthly.

Withdrawal is the New Attack: Are US Drones New Soldiers Against Taliban?

Operation Enduring Freedom ended in 2014, officially the end of the Afghan War against the Taliban. While the US military plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, leaving only 5,500 troops behind, the number of airstrikes has risen dramatically in 2016. But whom are they really hunting for?

According to an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, more than 60% of airstrikes conducted by US forces, more than 200 airstrikes, have been conducted to defend local ground forces fighting the Afghanistan insurgency.

This contradicts the US claims that American forces remain in the country to hunt terrorist groups, such as recently-renewed Al-Qaeda, Daesh and Haqqani Network. Since 2014, fighting the Taliban is officially the problem of Kabul’s security forces.

Julian Assange Backs Brexit, Says Cameron Govt ‘Launders’ Decisions to EU

The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for four years already, expressed his support for Brexit, because the current UK government is using the EU to justify their own decisions.

Julian Assange, the founder of world-famous WikiLeaks website, said in his interview for ITV channel that he “pretty much” believes that the UK should vote to leave the EU on June 23.

Assange backs Leave because, as he sees it, David Cameron’s government is using EU legislation as an excuse for its own decision-making.

“It launders things to the EU and then claims that it can’t do anything about it,” he said.

Julian Assange is wanted in Sweden for sexual assault, a charge that he has repeatedly denied. Assange believes that, should he be extradited back to Sweden, he will then be handed over to the US, where he will be quizzed about the activities of WikiLeaks. He found refuge in Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has stayed for four years already.

The No-Fly List: Who is Really Barred from Commercial Air Travel?

In a move that surprised Democrats and Republicans alike, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday, “I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no-fly list, to buy guns.”

Trump has been one of the main opponents of stronger gun control laws throughout his campaign, and his tweet has rekindled discussions around the dubious and often arbitrary terror watchlist and the secretive no-fly list.

Federal guidelines for watchlisting allow the government to quietly place people on watch lists without “concrete facts,” “irrefutable evidence,” or demonstrable ties to terror groups.

FBI Request to Tech Companies Made Public for the First Time

For several years internet and tech companies have been struggling with federal agencies, including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI, over whether companies must legally furnish private user data without a warrant.

This ongoing conflict, happening largely behind the scenes, was brought to public attention earlier this month when Yahoo published three national security letters (NSL), government requests for user information, on their website. A close reading by experts reveals that the FBI may have overstepped its legal boundaries in at least one of the NSLs, by asking for subscriber information, headers and browser histories.

Yahoo went public with the requests after receiving a letter from the FBI stating, “consistent with the requirements of the USA Freedom Act of 2015 and the Termination Procedures for NSL Nondisclosure Requirement, the FBI … reviewed whether to continue the nondisclosure requirement,” in three NSLs issued to us, “and … determined that nondisclosure is no longer necessary.”

Eight Syrian Refugees, Three Children, Shot Dead on Turkish Border

Eight Syrian refugees, including three children, four women and one man have been shot dead by Turkish border service while they tried to get to asylum, a human rights organization reports.

According to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, three children, four women and one man have been shot dead on the Turkish border on Saturday Night.

Rami Abdelrahman, the organization founder, said that six of the casualties were from the same family.

“I sent our activists to hospital there, we have video [of the corpses], but we haven’t published it because there are children [involved],” he said.

Another organization, called the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, accused Turkish border guards of firing at a group of civilians trying to cross the border into Turkey’s Hatay province, killing 11.

CIA Warns Poland of Possible Attacks on Major Cities

Shortly before the terrorist attack that struck Brussels in March, the CIA reportedly warned Poland that its capital could experience a similar incident.

On the morning of March 22, the Belgian capital was hit by coordinated attacks at the Brussels Airport and the Maalbeek metro station. The incident killed 32 people, in addition to three attackers, just four months after the November 2015 Paris attacks.

According to Polish media, the CIA warned Warsaw that it could face a similar threat.

Multiple outlets, including Gazeta Finansowa and Rzeczpospolita, confirmed reports that the US intelligence agency alerted Poland’s internal security agency (ABW) to the threat in mid-March, and that the bombings would likely occur during World Youth Day toward the end of July.

Deadly Spite: Israel Shuts Off Water to West Bank During Ramadan

With heat indices spiking near 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and local residents fasting in observance of the Muslim holy month, the latest act by Israel risks loss of life and a fierce response.

The Palestinian-occupied West Bank faces the threat of mass casualties from extreme dehydration and heat stroke as residents face an unseasonably hot start to summer without clean water, during a time when devout Muslims are already fasting in observance of Ramadan.

The Israeli state-owned Mekorot water company cut water supplies to the West Bank more than 40 days ago, forcing locals to rely on untreated groundwater and wastewater to survive. The water shutoff appears to be a premeditated act against the Palestinian people, with Israeli officials saying over one month ago that no technical defects exist on the waterline.

Water shutoffs in the West Bank correspond with Israeli officials boasting about surplus water supplies and plans to export water abroad to improve relations with neighbors. One such deal for exporting Israeli water supplies has already been made with neighboring country Jordan.

Silent Killer: HIV Spreads Among Daesh Militants in Mosul

In the hospital called “Ibn Sina” located in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, Daesh members are filling up one quarantined room. These militants are infected with HIV and their numbers are rising, a source in the hospital told Sputnik.

A source in Mosul hospital, who asked to remain anonymous, said that currently there are 23 people infected with HIV in Daesh’s ranks.

According to the source’s data, about a year ago on August 23, 2015, three patients of Asian origin were reported positive with HIV. Today this number has reached 23 people. Recently, the hospital received six young newcomers, who recently joined Daesh.

Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Attack Kurdish Neighborhood in Aleppo

Nusra Front terrorists have attacked government forces and local militia in the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsood in Aleppo, a representative of the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation at the Hmeymim airbase said early on Thursday.

According to the representative, at least five people were killed and more than 50 injured during the attack.

He added that al-Nusra Front militants have also carried out attacks in the Syrian provinces of Idlib, Latakia and Hama in the past twenty four hours.

Activists Counter FBI Trying to Exempt Its Database From Privacy Protection

After having spent eight years collecting sensitive biometric data on over 100 million Americans and assembling a huge database to contain it, the FBI has now announced that, in just 21 days, they will exempt this enormous bulk of information from the privacy protections guaranteed by US law.

A coalition of activists and privacy groups have submitted a joint letter to the agency seeking additional time to respond, requesting another month for public debate to decide if the Next Generation Identification (NGI) database is actually “designed to protect.”The NGI contains biometric data, including fingerprints, face profiles, iris scans, palm prints and biographical information. Contrary to the common belief that the information is solely related to arrest records, roughly half of the database is from ordinary citizens, official documents reveal.

For instance, to get a job with the federal government, a prospective employee must provide fingerprints. But some states require the same kind of background checks for those who seek to become dentists, accountants, or teachers. The fingerprints of representatives from many different careers then end up in the NGI system.

Snowden Tried to Raise Concerns Over Mass Surveillance, Documents Reveal

Whistleblower Edward Snowden raised concerns about mass surveillance to his superiors at the NSA before publicly releasing thousands of classified documents, Vice News revealed.

But he did not get a response.

After leaking the documents, the agency repeatedly tried to find evidence, or lack thereof, of Snowden’s claims. However, each time there were reasons to return a negative — and false — response to reporters from various outlets.

The methods the NSA used to cover up Snowden’s accusations varied, the story says. On one occasion, high-ranking NSA officials did not inform the Media Leaks Task Force (an internal NSA group tasked with Snowden’s case investigation) about interactions Snowden had with agency employees. The official later explicitly apologized for not providing actual information to the task force.

Over 270 Syrian Civilians Killed, Hundreds Wounded in Militants’ Shelling

More than 270 civilians were killed and hundreds more were injured by militants’ bombings in Syrian cities, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria reported.

More than 270 civilians were killed and hundreds more were injured by militant groups’ shelling of Syrian cities, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

“As a result of the Syrian cities being shelled by terrorist groups, more than 270 civilians were killed, hundreds were injured,” the ministry said in a daily bulletin posted on its website.