Kaboom! Russian Drone With Thermite Grenade Blows Up a Billion Dollars of Ukrainian Ammo (Source Popular Mechanics)
A drone carrying a grenade infiltrated an ammunition dump in Ukraine, setting off an explosion that caused an astounding billion dollars worth of damage. The incident points to the growing use of drones in wartime, particularly off the shelf civilian products harnessed to conduct sabotage and other attacks. Ukraine’s domestic intelligence service, the SBU, believes that a drone carrying a Russian thermite hand grenade caused a series of titanic explosions at Balakliya, a military base in Eastern Ukraine. Amateur video of the incident posted on YouTube shows a raging fire spewing out of control artillery rockets, and an explosion and shockwave that sent civilians nearby reeling. One person was killed in the attack and five were injured. The drone is believed to have carried a ZMG-1 thermite grenade. “http://www.instructables.com/id/Thermite/” Thermite, a combination of iron oxide (rust) and aluminum powder. The stuff burns extremely hot and easily could have gotten through wooden crates to detonate the munitions inside. The ammo dump is just 60 miles from the Russian/Ukrainian border, where fighting recently took place.
Hypothetically speaking, U.S. Admiral says ready for nuclear strike on China if Trump so ordered (Source Reuters)
The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, addressing a security conference in Australia, said in answer to a question on Thursday that he would be prepared to launch a nuclear strike on China if President Donald Trump so ordered. The fleet spokesman later said the question was asked as an “outrageous hypothetical”. Admiral Scott Swift was speaking at the Australian National University in Canberra when he was asked whether he would be prepared to launch a nuclear attack on China if ordered to do so by Trump. “The answer would be yes,” he said. Swift said that all members of the U.S. military had sworn an oath to obey officers and the U.S. president as commander in chief to defend the constitution. “This is core to the American democracy,” he said, in a recording of the event obtained by Reuters.
“Any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus, and an allegiance, to civilian control, then we really have significant problems.” Swift’s answer reaffirmed the principle of civilian control over the military and was based on an “outrageous hypothetical” in the question, Pacific Fleet spokesman Captain Charlie Brown told Reuters. “Frankly, the premise of the question was ridiculous,” he said. “It was posed as an outrageous hypothetical, but the admiral simply took it as an opportunity to say the fact is that we have civilian control of the military and we abide by that principle.”
Speaking in Beijing on Friday, a spokesman of China’s Foreign Ministry also downplayed the remark. “Many people have paid attention to this but the spokesman for the Pacific Fleet has pointed out the ridiculousness of this report,” Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.
Erdoğan: Israel is harming Jerusalem’s Islamic character (Source theguardian.com)The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has intervened in the continuing crisis surrounding the Jerusalem holy sites by accusing Israel of undermining the city’s “Islamic character”, in comments likely to further inflame regional tensions.
The comments by Erdoğan, which came as Muslim leaders called on Palestinians to continue prayers and protests in the city, triggered an immediate tit-for-tat with Israeli officials, who said the accusation was “absurd” and pointed to Turkey’s own human rights record.
Protests have been held each evening muslim-worshippers-set-to-continue-boycott-of-al-aqsa-mosque-compound” outside the compound housing Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque after Israel introduced new security measures, which followed the killing of two Israeli police officers at the entrance to the shrine by three Israeli Arabs. peaking at a conference in Ankara, Erdoğan said: “Israel is harming Jerusalem’s Islamic character … Nobody should expect us to remain silent against the double standards in Jerusalem.” He added that Turkey “cannot tolerate” constraints placed on Muslims visiting the site during prayers. Al-Aqsa, one of Islam’s holiest sites and a symbol for Palestinians seeking their own state, is built on a compound revered by Jews as the vestige of their two ancient temples.
The site lies in east Jerusalem, which was captured by HYPERLINK “https://www.theguardian.com/world/israel” Israel in a 1967 war and annexed to form part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital – a move not recognised internationally. Hoping to calm days of unrest, Israel removed metal detectors from the entrances to the compound, put in place after the attack on 14 July, but has said it will now install advanced CCTV cameras instead.
Former NFL Player Sues Jeff Sessions Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Marijuana Laws (Source huffingtonpost.com)
Former New York Jets defensive end Marvin Washington sued Attorney General jeff-sessions” Jeff Sessions on Monday in an effort to legalize marijuana at the federal level. The suit alleges that the government has “wrongfully and unconstitutionally criminalized the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession” of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, which became law in 1971. The lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in New York City, The New York Post ex-jets-player-sues-jeff-sessions-to-legalize-marijuanat first reported, and challenges the law’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance ― meaning it is considered as dangerous as drugs like LSD and heroin. The suit cites the marijuana-prohibition-racist_n_4590190.html” racist origins of marijuana laws as one reason for the drug’s criminalization being unconstitutional. Criminalization “arose out of the enactment of legislation underwritten by illegal racial and ethnic animus, and implemented and enforced at the federal level by those who have chosen to disregard its scientific properties and benefits, and have been motivated by hatred and outright bigotry,” says the suit against Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Washington, who played 11 NFL seasons for the Jets, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, is one of five named plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Two children the suit says depend on marijuana to treat illnesses and a military veteran who uses the drug to treat post-traumatic stress disorder are among the other plaintiffs.
U.S. ALLY IRAQ TURNS TO RUSSIA FOR MILITARY SUPPORT, OIL DEALS AND NATION BUILDING (Source Newsweek)
Iraq’s vice president has reached out to Russia during a high-profile visit, saying he seeks closer ties with Moscow after 14 consecutive years of U.S. military intervention in his country.
During a visit to Moscow, Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki told Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Baghdad may be “prone to new political developments in light of regional interferences” and to avoid a “foreign political entity” from forcing its agenda, according to Kurdish media outlet” Rudaw. Since overthrowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and installing a new government in 2003, the U.S. has played a major role in the country’s internal affairs, maliki-government-seriously-compromised-cia-operations-iraq-years-256353″ something Maliki has fought in the past. As Russia asserts its own influence in neighboring Syria, Maliki reportedly seeks to play Moscow’s economic, political and military power against Washington’s in Iraq. “Historically, Russia has close relations with Iraq. That is why we would like to see Russia’s visible presence in our country, both in terms of politics and defense,” Maliki said following a meeting with Russian upper house of parliament speaker Valentina Matviyenko, according to the state-run HYPERLINK “http://tass.com/world/957581” \t “_blank” Tass Russian news agency. “It would create [the] balance the region, its nations and countries need.
Kremlin warns US against supporting Ukraine with weapons (Source New York Post) Any U.S. decision to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons would set back peace efforts and escalate tensions, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The Kremlin was referring to an interview given by U.S. special envoy on Ukraine, Kurt Volker, to Britain’s broadcaster BBC, in which he said that Washington was actively reviewing whether to send weapons to help those fighting against Russian-backed rebels. The Kremlin said a possible delivery of U.S. weapons to Ukraine could destabilize the situation along the frontline in the east of the country. “We have already said more than once that any action which escalates tension … and further aggravates the already complicated situation will only move us further and further away from the moment of settling this internal issue of Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.
Trump Says Transgender People ‘Burden’ the Military With ‘Tremendous’ Costs (Source Yahoo) President transgender-individuals-barred-from-military/” Donald Trump announced that he plans to donald-trump-twitter-military-transgender-ban/” ban transgender people from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. military, citing “tremendous medical costs” as a reason for his decision. “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump said in a series of morning Twitter posts. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.” The President’s announcement also comes after a report last week that House Republicans are working to house-republicans-try-to-revive-ban-on-transgender-pentagon-surgeries-” revive an amendment that would ban the Pentagon from funding sex reassignment surgeries and hormone therapies.
“While All Eyes Are On The Middle East, All Is Not Quiet On The Pacific Front” While All Eyes Are On The Middle East, All Is Not Quiet On The Pacific Front (Source thefederalist.com) Foreign policy news these days is dominated by the Russia investigation, the Afghanistan war, or the demise of the Islamic State and the deteriorating civil war in Syria. Far less attention is given, however, to a much more consequential development: the rise of China as a global superpower. But make no mistake, Beijing has its eyes squarely fixed on this goal, and its recent actions clearly indicate that. On Sunday, two Chinese fighter jets intercept-us-navy-plane/index.html” intercepted a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane that was flying over the East China Sea (ECS). According to Pentagon spokesman, one of the Chinese jets rapidly approached the U.S. plane then flew directly in front of it—within 300 feet—triggering a collision alarm system. This kind of provocation on China’s part has, until recently, been a rare occurrence. In May, there were two similar incidents, one in the airspace over the South China Sea (SCS) and the other over the East China Sea. The East China Sea, which stretches between China and Japan and is claimed by both, has gotten less coverage because China has not built the kind of military installations or man-made islands there as it has in the SCS. The ECS is currently controlled by Japan, but in the past few years China has increased its naval patrols of islands in those waters. China has continued to call U.S. surveillance planes flying over the SCS and ECS “provocations” and HYPERLINK “http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/china-says-intercepting-us-surveillance-plane-was-legal-and-necessary/story-s0Ad1jeezBVPDwOctsg0NM.html” said the interception on Sunday was “legal and necessary.” But that airspace, just like the waters beneath it, is international. It is entirely within any country’s purview to fly and sail through them. Indeed, some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes run through parts of the SCS that Beijing claims belong to China. China’s insistence that U.S. surveillance flights constitute provocations is an attempt by Beijing to treat its assertion of sovereignty in the region as a fait accompli. If China can establish control of its man-made islands, including the installation of military equipment, runways, airbases, civilian residents, and now HYPERLINK “http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/23/asia-pacific/china-opens-movie-theater-disputed-island-south-china-sea/” \l “.WXZsYzOZNmA” a movie theater, it can force other nations to recognize that this is the new normal. The South China Sea isn’t the only venue in which China is increasing its activities. Last week, Beijing held the country’s HYPERLINK “http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/20/asia/china-navy-expansion-baltic-russia-drills/index.html” first-ever joint naval drills with Russia in the Baltic Sea, of all places, leaving observers wondering the purpose of the week-long war game in which one of China’s most advanced missile-guided destroyers participated. Moscow has lately been making a lot of trouble in the Baltic Sea, causing NATO allies and countries like Finland to HYPERLINK “https://www.wsj.com/articles/beneath-helsinki-finns-prepare-for-russian-threat-1500024602” prepare for a possible invasion, and China now seems to want a piece of the action.
China also established its HYPERLINK “http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/12/asia/china-djibouti-military-base/index.html” first overseas military base, conveniently located in Djibouti, near a valuable global shipping lane and just four miles from a U.S. installation. In addition, Chinese warships have been HYPERLINK “https://qz.com/1036691/the-double-standard-of-chinese-spy-ships-and-coast-guard-vessels-operating-in-foreign-waters-australia-japan-alaska/” popping up all over the globe, including near Alaska, Japan, and Australia. While their movement thus far has been through international waters, and therefore not in violation of any international law, it is a clear sign of China’s desire to be taken seriously as a global military power.
MOSCOW WARNS OF “PAINFUL RESPONSE” TO US SANCTIONS; EU READY TO RETALIATE IN “A MATTER OF DAYS” (Source Zero Hedge)
Following yesterday’s almost house-overwhelmingly-passes-veto-proof-russia-sanctions-deal” unanimous House vote to pass new sanctions against Russia, on Wednesday Moscow threatened to retaliate, saying that – “http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-25/house-overwhelmingly-passes-veto-proof-russia-sanctions-deal” ” as expected – the action has made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations, and vowed to retaliate to the latest sanctions which Russia views as senseless and destructive according to its deputy foreign minister said. As 25/house-overwhelmingly-passes-veto-proof-russia-sanctions-deal” \t “_blank” described yesterday, the bill passed by a vote of 419-3 on Tuesday , boosted sanctions against Russia just 3 weeks after Trump and Putin held their first official meeting. The legislation, which now goes to the Senate, requires Trump to seek congressional approval before easing sanctions imposed under the Obama administration for “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential elections and its support for separatists in Ukraine.
The bill seeks to impose new economic sanctions against North Korea, Iran, and Russia, and received overwhelming support from US legislators. Moscow is being targeted for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, an allegation that Russia denies and which has not been backed by convincing public evidence. Russia’s foreign ministry expects the bill to become law, which would inevitably prompt Moscow to retaliate, Ryabkov warned.
Trump will sign the law because “he’s a prisoner of Congress and anti-Russian hysteria,” Alexei Pushkov, Russian upper house of parliament senator said on Twitter. The sanctions are “a new stage of confrontation,” he said. McDonald’s restaurants in Russia aren’t “a sacred cow” and should face “sanitary sanctions,” Pushkov said in a separate tweet. The fast food chain’s press office in Russia declined to comment immediately. As HYPERLINK “https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-26/russia-says-new-u-s-sanctions-killing-chances-for-improved-ties” \t “_blank” Bloomberg notes, the largest McDonald’s in Russia was shuttered for three months in 2014 amid about 250 safety probes of the company’s restaurants by officials after the U.S. imposed sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Russia has prepared “economic and political measures that will be adopted if the Senate and Trump support the bill,” said Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house, the RIA Novosti news service reported. Relations with the U.S. “are at such a low level that we have nothing to lose” by retaliating, he said. It wasn’t just Russia: the US bill also sparked concern in Europe. European governments and business leaders fear the sanctions would hurt crucial joint energy projects with Russia and may be motivated by Washington’s desire to take over the European natural gas market from Russia in favor of American liquefied natural gas. In a statement on Wednesday morning, EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said that “the US bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests. This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently we stand ready to act appropriately with a matter of days” “America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last” Finally, the German foreign ministry also chimed in when with its spokesman saying that the “US does not have the right to tell German companies how they should act with foreign business partners.” And so, as we explained a month ago when the various conflicting tensions first emerged, Trump is trapped: unable to veto the bill, as he would be seen as promoting a pro-Russian agenda in a rather “sensitive” time, signing the bill will promptly lead to a deterioration of relations with Europe, whose own relations with Russia appear to have been far more important than the continent let on.
Black Lives Matter responds to chilling National Rifle Association video that was seen as an ‘open call to violence’ (Source Business Insider) Black Lives Matter activists issued a video response to a HYPERLINK “http://www.businessinsider.com/national-rifle-association-ad-call-to-violence-2017-6” chilling advertisement published by the National Rifle Association, and demanded that the NRA take its video down. “We demand that the NRA immediately remove their dangerous propaganda videos narrated by conservative radio hosts Dana Loesch and Grant Stinchfield,” a Black Lives Matter representative says in the video. The original NRA ad featured dramatic overlaid commentary by conservative media personality and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who urged Americans to join “America’s safest place” and called protesters of President Trump members of the “resistance.” HYPERLINK “http://www.businessinsider.com/national-rifle-association-ad-call-to-violence-2017-6” Business Insider reported that the NRA’s video showed footage of anti-Trump protests while Loesch described the demonstrations as “madness” that “shut down interstates and airports,” requiring police intervention. Black Lives Matter’s two-and-a-half-minute video begins in a similar fashion to the NRA ad, with a representative speaking forcefully over video clips of police officers, schools, and protests: “They use their guns to assassinate black people, they use their schools to funnel black students through a school to prison pipeline. They use their state institutions, bought politicians, business conglomerates, and white supremacist domestic terrorists to incite violence over and over again,” the speaker says. “Wait, hold up. What’s with the aggressive fear mongering video tactics?” she asks, before calming the tone of the video and continuing. “When the NRA issues a public call to their constituents, inciting violence against people who are constitutionally fighting for their lives — we don’t take that lightly. We know that we are not safe, but we are not scared either. We will continue to produce media, teach students, march, and protest to not only protect the First Amendment as fiercely as the NRA protects the second, but to protect our lives from gun-toting racists,” the representative says. The video ends with a montage of family members of African-Americans killed during encounters with law-enforcement, and the phone number for the NRA, for viewers to call to demand its videos be removed.