Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Russian Bombers Flew Within 40 Miles of N. California Coast

Russian Bombers Flew Within 40 Miles of N. California Coast

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Two Russian nuclear bombers flew within 40 miles of the California coast and one of the pilots relayed a veiled threat during the Fourth of July aerial incident, defense officials said.
“Good morning American pilots, we are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day,” a Russian Tu-95 Bear bomber crew member stated over the emergency aircraft channel.
Meanwhile, Russia’s across-the-board buildup of nuclear forces and revised doctrine are increasing the danger of a nuclear war, according to a think tank reporton nuclear threats.
Defense officials and the Colorado-based U.S. Northern Command said this week that two U.S. F-15 jets intercepted the Russian bombers on July 4 as they flew as close as 39 miles from the coast of Mendocino County, north of San Francisco.
During the intercept, a crew member on one of the bombers issued a warning in a radio message, according to defense officials familiar with the incident this week.
Earlier the same day, the Bear bombers intruded on the U.S. air defense identification zone (ADIZ) near Alaska. The zone is a 200-mile controlled airspace patrolled by U.S. and Canadian jets under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
It was the second time the Russians conducted provocative bomber flights on the Fourth of July holiday. The last incident occurred on July 4, 2012, when two Bear bombers were intercepted off the California coast in what was then the closest such encounter near sovereign U.S. air space since the end of the Cold War.
A Northcom spokesman declined to comment on the exact distance from the coast the bombers had flown.
Two officials confirmed that the nature of the message from the Russian aircraft was a sardonic Independence Day greeting.
One official said the nuclear-capable bomber flights so close to U.S. shores are part of nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow, and much more of a concern than routine U.S. aerial surveillance missions near Russia’s coasts.
“These are nuclear-capable bombers and that is a big problem,” the official said.
A second official said the buzzing of the California coast coincided with a telephone call made that day from Russian President Putin to President Obama. The Russian leader called for more U.S.-Russia dialogue, Reuters reported.
Northcom said in a statement the Russian bomber flights were “potentially destabilizing.”
In the Alaska encounter earlier in the day, two U.S. F-22 fighters intercepted the Bear bombers along the south coast of Alaska near the Aleutian Islands around 10:30 A.M. eastern time.
The California bomber-fighter intercepts took place a half hour later as the propeller-powered aircraft moved south along the North American coast.
“Even though state aircraft are not required to file flight plans for flying through an ADIZ, such unannounced operations by Russian strategic bombers near the U.S. and Canada are potentially destabilizing,” a spokesman for Northcom said.
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon nuclear forces expert, said such Russian bomber incursions are part of nuclear coercion by Moscow.
“The pattern of Russian provocative bomber flights is dangerous because it reflects a Russian view that nuclear attack threats can and should be used to get their way on whatever they are attempting to achieve,” he said.
Russia’s state-run Sputnik news reportedTuesday that despite its age, the Tu-95 is giving rise to fear in the NATO alliance because it “is capable of striking the United States with nuclear bombs.”
The report on nuclear threats, “Foreign Nuclear Developments: The Gathering Storm,” warns that Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are substantially increasing nuclear weapons and delivery systems at a time when the United States is reducing its reliance on nuclear forces.
The report singles out Russia’s buildup of new missiles, bombers, and submarines, combined with aggression in Ukraine and its leaders’ public nuclear threats, as especially alarming.
Russia’s new military doctrine, unveiled in December 2014, states Moscow will use nuclear arms if attacked with either nuclear or conventional weapons.
The new doctrine has resulted in substantial increases in spending on new weapons, two new types of ICBMs—the Topol-M Variant 2 and the Yars—a new multi-warhead submarine missile called Bulava-30, a new class of missile submarines known as the Borey-class, upgrades for older bombers, and a new long-range strategic cruise missile called the Raduga.
The Raduga is viewed by U.S. military officials as a new strategic threat to the U.S. homeland.
“While many in the West believe that the end of the Cold War has meant the end of a confrontational and adversarial relationship with Russia, recent events suggest this hoped-for outcome is more the result of wishful thinking than of a sober and realistic assessment of the current geostrategic environment,” the report says.
“Under these circumstances, the possibility that Russia may trigger events leading to their actual use of nuclear weapons cannot be dismissed out of hand.”
Putin was quoted in Russian state media saying Moscow was set to place its nuclear forces on alert during the March 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The Russian leader also has said Moscow is “one of the world’s biggest nuclear powers. These are not just words—this is the reality.” And in March he said, “Our nukes are always ready for action.”
The report said Russian bombers have penetrated NATO airspace and overflown Japan, and Russian nuclear forces have conducted mock drills simulating coordinated strikes against the United States and its allies.
The Obama administration sought a “reset” in relations with Russia by offering concessions and adopting conciliatory policies. Instead of moderating Moscow’s policies, Russia under Vladimir Putin has become more aggressive and threatening.
“Senior Russian officials, including President Putin, have threatened that NATO allies may be targets for Russian nuclear forces, and President Putin has suggested he would have used nuclear weapons, if necessary, in the Russian invasion of Crimea,” the report says.
The report was produced by the Virginia-based National Institute for Public Policy whose experts include several former Pentagon strategic nuclear experts.
Keith Payne, the institute’s president, said the report dispels notions that a cooperative new world order has emerged that renders nuclear arms irrelevant.
“This new report helps to explain the reality that ‎other states, particularly Russia, China, North Korea and Iran never bought into the West’s vision of a cooperative new world order and have continued to emphasize nuclear programs,” Payne said.
China also is becoming more threatening and building up its nuclear and missile forces.
“Chinese nuclear modernization is an element of a much broader military modernization program that is aimed ‘at winning short-duration, high-intensity conflicts against high-tech adversaries…’—considered to be the United States and its Asian allies,” the report said, adding that Chinese secrecy has successfully prevented an accurate count of its warheads.
Current estimates of Chinese warheads range from several hundred to more than 3,000.
Its missile forces are the largest in the world and include several thousand ballistic and cruise missiles with varying ranges, and many with multiple warheads.
North Korea’s nuclear forces also are expanding, with Pyongyang seeking an arsenal of between 100 and 200 weapons by 2020, and long-range missiles capable of hitting targets in the region and throughout the United States.
“North Korea’s training has recently exhibited more realism,” the report said. “Usually the North Korean regime is secretive about its exercises, but when expedient, it will talk about military preparations for a nuclear strike. Nuclear threats are sometimes made in the context of the North Korean leader observing or directing military exercises.”
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, however, regional states are concerned Tehran is continuing to put in place all the elements of a nuclear weapon force, including the infrastructure for building warheads and long-range missiles that can deliver them.
“The possession of nuclear weapons would permit more aggressive Iranian support of terrorism, which is already extensive. It would also provide Tehran a tool for coercion against its perceived enemies, while seeking to deter U.S. or allied actions,” the report said.
Recent Iranian missile exercises have demonstrated “salvo” strikes that are indications that Iran is developing tactics for nuclear attacks, the report said.
“Iran has substantial programs underway aimed at achieving a long-range nuclear strike capability,” the report said. “Due to years of cooperation with North Korea, Iran’s nuclear and missile programs are probably considerably more advanced than might be the case for a purely indigenous program.”
The report said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action aimed at curbing Iran’s uranium enrichment program would not halt the effort and that uranium enrichment may continue.
“Moreover, this does not even assume Iranian cheating on the agreement, which cannot be discounted in light of verification problems and previous Iranian behavior,” the report said. “Indeed, the end of sanctions against Iran could provide critical resources for more covert nuclear weapons activities.”
The report discussed U.S. and western efforts to produce a world free of nuclear weapons, noting that the efforts of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran show that goal to be “further from reality than ever.”
The increased reliance on nuclear arms by America’s enemies, coupled with reduced U.S. emphasis on strategic nuclear forces, does not bode well for maintaining strategic nuclear deterrence, the report said. The authors urged policymakers to take heed of growing nuclear threats as they craft security policies for the 21st Century.
The report also disputed anti-nuclear advocates in favor of eliminating land-based U.S. missiles in favor of bomber-delivered and submarine-launched missile forces, and eliminating non-strategic nuclear arms and reducing investments in the nuclear arsenal.
Such advocates “appear to ignore the greater emphasis placed by others on nuclear weapons and their relative importance as a counter to U.S. conventional force dominance, a deterrent to U.S. military actions, and an enabler of their own aggressive policies,” the report said.
“As the Cold War recedes further into history, the nuclear threats posed by others to the United States and the West have not. In fact, the opposite appears to be the case,” the report concludes.
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US missed Chattanooga attack but foiled 'over 60' Isis-linked plots: security chair 

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Representative Michael McCaul says US was in the dark about Tennessee attack – and such cases are ‘what keeps us up at night’
Three days after four marines and a sailor were killed by a gunman with Middle Eastern roots and a father who was once on the terrorism watch list, the chairman of the House homeland security committee heralded US successes against “over 60” would-be terrorist attacks by “Isis followers” in the last year.
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Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?

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ISIS and other extremist movements across the region are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight.

Islamic State: Existential Threat versus Terrorism

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By Diane L. Maye
American Military University
On July 9, both Marine General Joseph Dunford and U.S. Air Force General Paul Silva testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that they place Russia as the number one threat to the United States.

Iran-led forces thrown back from ISIS-held Ramadi

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July 20, 2015, 10:54 AM (IDT)
DEBKAfile: The Iran-led offensive to recover the central Iraqi town of Ramadi from ISIS is stalled on all three axes and taking heavy casualties. It was launched Saturday from three points by a combined force of the Iraqi army, Iranian Al Qods Brigades and pro-Iranian Shiite militias, and has no success so far in breaking through ISIS defense lines. Top US soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived in Baghdad when the offensive was launched.

Chattanooga killer’s uncle detained in Jordan

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July 21, 2015, 11:02 PM (IDT)
The uncle of Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who killed four Marines and a sailor at a Tennessee military site, has been in custody in Jordan since the day after the attack. A Jordanian official said Tuesday that some of the gunman’s relatives were being questioned as part of an investigation into his stay in the kingdom. The FBI made no comment on this. 
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Page 2

FBI Statement on Shootings at Military Facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee 

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— Washington, D.C.

Odierno to Fox News: US could have prevented rise of Islamic State

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Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has told Fox News that the U.S. could have prevented the rise of the Islamic State if it had remained fully engaged in Iraq rather than remove all its troops at the end of 2011.

Clinton lags among voters in swing states against leading GOP hopefuls - Washington Post

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Clinton lags among voters in swing states against leading GOP hopefuls
Washington Post
Hillary Rodham Clinton would lose or tie for the presidency against three leading Republican hopefuls if the election were held today in three key swing states, according to a new poll. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that Clinton ...
Poll: Clinton trails Republicans in three swing statesUSA TODAY
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Bloomberg -Politico -The Daily Progress
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MH17 Crash Illustrates Different Realities in Russia vs. West

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Disagreement over who’s to blame for the Malaysia Airlines tragedy exposes a fallacy of U.S. policy toward Russia since the end of the Cold War—that each side would come to see the world similarly.

WorldViews: How the Iran deal is good for Israel, according to Israelis who know what they’re talking about 

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In the aftermath of the deal over Iran's nuclear program announced in Vienna last week, attention immediately centered on the reaction in one country that was never a direct party to the talks: Israel.Read full article >>

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Chattanooga shooter's uncle detained in Jordan 

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Jordanian security services question uncle of Tennessee shooting suspect

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Page 3

US Lawmakers Focus on Violent Undocumented Immigrants

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U.S. lawmakers want to compel local districts to cooperate with immigration officials to keep violent, undocumented immigrants off American streets. At issue are so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not notify federal officials when they have suspected illegal immigrants in custody, or when those individuals are about to be released. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, a Senate panel heard testimony about the issue as legislation was unveiled targeting sanctuary cities.

American Novelist E.L. Doctorow, Author of Ragtime, Dies at 84

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American novelist E.L. Doctorow, author of such tomes as Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, and The March, has died in New York at age 84. The writer's son Richard Doctorow told reporters his father died Tuesday of complications from lung cancer. Doctorow was characterized by President Barack Obama as "one of America's great novelists." The president said in a Twitter message Tuesday that he learned much from Doctorow's books -- mixtures of history and fiction, tales...

US Defense Chief Visiting Saudi Arabia for Talks on Iran Nuclear Deal 

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U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is visiting Saudi Arabia Wednesday, as part of a regional tour aimed at convincing skeptical allies about the benefits of the Iran nuclear deal. Carter is to hold meetings with King Salman as well as the Saudi minister of defense, before heading back to Jordan for a meeting with the Jordanian military leadership. On Tuesday, Carter met with coalition troops in northern Jordan at an air base from where operations against targets in Syria are...

Minibus Crash Kills At Least Seven In Chechnya

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A minibus travelling from Chechnya to Dagestan fell off a cliff July 21, killing at least seven people, emergency workers said.

Top U.S. General Backs Giving Lethal Weapons To Ukraine

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The United States should "seriously consider" providing Ukraine with lethal weapons and putting U.S. air strike controllers near combat areas in Iraq, a top general said July 21.
General Mark Milley, who was nominated to be the next Army chief of staff, said he agreed with Marine Corps Commandant Joe Dunford that Russia poses the greatest threat to the United States because of its large nuclear arsenal and its "very, very aggressive" behavior since 2008.
"They've attacked and invaded Georgia, they've seized the Crimea, they've attacked into the Ukraine," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "That's worrisome."
In view of the bombardment of Ukraine by artillery and rocket fire from Russian-backed rebels since last year, Milley said, "I would be in favor of [providing Kyiv with] lethal defensive equipment."
The United States has resisted equipping Ukraine with lethal weapons previously due to concerns about escalating the conflict. But Milley's statement is the latest sign that the Pentagon may now be considering it.
Milley said he also favors temporarily increasing and rotating U.S. ground forces in Europe to reassure allies and deter Russian aggression. The Army is already prepositioning equipment and engaging in exercises.
Milley, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said U.S. air controllers may need to be stationed with Iraqi forces close to combat areas to increase the effectiveness of air strikes on Islamic State targets.
That would ensure "more effective close-air support" for Iraqi troops, which have been struggling to regain and hold ground taken by the militant Islamist group in northwestern Iraq since last year.
Top brass has previously rejected routine use of forward air controllers to direct the hundreds of air strikes by U.S. and allied forces against IS every month, out of concern about the possibility of combat casualties.
Despite that, Milley said the United States also should consider having military advisers in Iraq "go forward with units" into combat areas to help Iraqi forces, though “there are lots of issues with the security of our people and the risks associated with that.”
Separate,  Vice President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi spoke about the recent delivery of F-16 fighter jets, calling it a "major milestone" in the partnership between the two countries, the White House said.
Biden offered condolences for the attack last week that killed more than 100 people in a suicide car bombing in Diyala province, and the leaders discussed the ongoing campaign against Islamic State militants in Anbar province, the White House said.
With reporting by Reuters and DefenseNews
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Ukraine's Right Sector Calls For Referendum To Impeach Government

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Hundreds of Ukrainian right-wingers rallied in Kyiv on July 21 to protest against government policies in the wake of a deadly standoff between radical nationalists and police in the country's west.
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Page 4

Russia Warns 12 NGOs About Violating 'Foreign Agents' Law

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Russia's Justice Ministry says it has issued warnings to 12 nongovernmental organizations that the Kremlin has deemed as "foreign agents," saying the groups face "administrative liability measures" – fines severe enough to shut down almost any Russian NGO.

Op-Ed Contributor: Russia’s Scientists Fall Silent

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The Kremlin, suspicious of the West's democratic values, now finds the risks of cooperation to be too great.

U.S. could send tanks to Hungary for military exercises: report

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BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The United States Army could send Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 tanks to Hungary next year for military exercises as part of NATO's response to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Napi Gazdasag newspaper reported on Wednesday.

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Saudi plane arrives in Yemen's Aden airport: official

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ADEN (Reuters) - A Saudi military plane touched down at Aden International Airport in southern Yemen on Wednesday, an airport official said, first arrival of a flight in almost four months at the war-ravaged port city.

Israel, U.S. Vow Defense Bond Despite Iran Rift