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4.1-15.16 Recent Posts
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Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks 9:42 AM 4/15/2016: When will Russia break?
Fri, 15 Apr 2016 13:53:52 +0000
LINKS Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks 9:42 AM 4/15/2016 When will Russia break? mikenova shared this story from NEWS: The World and Global Security Review. The Morning Vertical, April 15, 2016 When will Russia break? This card the inculcation of pride that Russia is again a great country is the largest, maybe the only, one Continue reading“Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks 9:42 AM 4/15/2016: When will Russia break?”
7:26 PM 4/14/2016
Thu, 14 Apr 2016 23:27:10 +0000
LINKS Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks How should US respond to Russias air provocations? YouTube mikenova shared this story . Published on Apr 14, 2016 Reaction from the Special Report All-Star panel Obama visits CIA as role in war against ISIS expands YouTube mikenova shared this story . Published on Apr 14, 2016 On Continue reading“7:26 PM 4/14/2016”
6:58 PM 4/14/2016 Headlines: Postering: Russias Newest Form of Protest Stratfor
Thu, 14 Apr 2016 23:02:12 +0000
Postering: Russias Newest Form of Protest How should US respond to Russias air provocations? YouTube Thursday April 14th, 2016 at 4:27 PM The Web World News webworldnews.com » How should US respond to Russias air provocations? YouTube 14/04/16 16:27 from Mike Novas Shared Newslinks Shared Links Review in Brief Continue reading“6:58 PM 4/14/2016 Headlines: Postering: Russias Newest Form of Protest Stratfor”
News Links
Thu, 14 Apr 2016 14:27:09 +0000
News Sites: Front Pages Sites and Names sitesandnames.net Links to Sites, Blogs and Domain Names The World Web Times wwtimes.com News, Analysis, Opinions The World Web Times worldwt.com News, Analysis, Opinions The World Web Times worldwebtimes.com News, Analysis, Opinions The Web World Times webwt.com News, Continue reading“News Links”
News Review Front Post
Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14:23:44 +0000
LINKS You apparently do not have JavaScript enabled on your browser lest you would be viewing an RSS Feed here from RSS Dog Mike Novas Shared Newslinks | LINKS Your new widget 1 = 20 Powered by RSS Feed Informer World | LINKS 20 Items Powered by RSS Feed Informer You apparently do not have JavaScript enabled on Continue reading“News Review Front Post”
1:34 PM 4/10/2016 G-7 Meeting in Hiroshima: 5 Things to Know
Sun, 10 Apr 2016 17:35:06 +0000
Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks G-7 Meeting in Hiroshima: 5 Things to Know mikenova shared this story from Voice of America. Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized countries Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. are meeting in the western Japanese city of Hiroshima on Sunday and Monday. WhyContinue reading“1:34 PM 4/10/2016 G-7 Meeting in Hiroshima: 5 Things to Know”
4.10.16 Strong Earthquake Shakes Afghan, Pakistani Capitals
Sun, 10 Apr 2016 13:37:20 +0000
Strong Earthquake Shakes Afghan, Pakistani Capitals Voice of America A strong earthquake has shaken the capitals of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There were no immediate reports Sunday of casualties or destruction from Kabul or Islamabad. The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.6-magnitude quake struck in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan at a depth of 210Continue reading“4.10.16 Strong Earthquake Shakes Afghan, Pakistani Capitals”
Link Putin denounces Panama Papers leak as attempt to weaken Russia The Washington Post
Thu, 07 Apr 2016 17:45:35 +0000
Putin denounces Panama Papers leak as attempt to weaken Russia The Washington Post
Fri, 01 Apr 2016 15:17:53 +0000
Wed, 30 Mar 2016 19:13:38 +0000
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Pentagon chief: US eyes ways to step up Islamic State fight
mikenova shared this story from AP Top News at 1:50 p.m. EDT.

AL-DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he will talk with his commanders in the coming days to identify additional ways the U.S. can intensify the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including more airstrikes, cyberattacks and American troops on the ground….

TV Station Stands Behind German Comedian Who Mocked Erdogan
mikenova shared this story from Voice of America.

A German television station is pledging its full support to comedian Jan Boehmermann in any legal proceeding brought against him for mocking Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The head of Germany’s ZDF television made the pledge Saturday, a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her government would grant a Turkish request for prosecution of the comedian. She added that it is up to the courts to decide his guilt or innocence. ZDF chief Thomas Bellut told the…

French president vows support for Lebanon during visit – Washington Post
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Washington Post
French president vows support for Lebanon during visit
Washington Post
BEIRUT French President Francois Hollande said Saturday his country will stand by Lebanon to boost security in the tiny Arab country that is surrounded by crisis and wars and urged the parliament to elect a new president whose post has been vacant
France’s Hollande, in Beirut, vows to boost Lebanon military aidReuters
Weapons, Rights Frame Hollande’s Egypt VisitVoice of America
Crime serial beats French president off prime-time TV podiumBusiness Insider
NDTV –Al-Arabiya –Ya Libnan –Huffington Post
all 178 news articles »
U.K. Spy Chief Apologizes for Agencys Past Anti-Gay Prejudice
mikenova shared this story from World TIME.

(LONDON) — The head of Britain’s digital espionage agency has apologized for the organization’s historic prejudice against homosexuals, saying it failed to learn from the treatment of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing.

In a rare public speech, GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan told a gathering organized by the rights group Stonewall that the agency’s ban on homosexuals had caused long-lasting psychological damage to many and hurt the agency because talented people were excluded from working there.

“The fact that it was common practice for decades reflected the intolerance of the times and the pressures of the Cold War, but it does not make it any less wrong and we should apologize for it,” Hannigan said Friday at the conference organized by Stonewall, which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

The speech offered a poignant tribute to Turing, the gay computer science pioneer and architect of the effort to crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma cipher. Turing was convicted of indecency in 1952 and stripped of his security clearance. He later committed suicide.

A 2014 film about Turing, “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, brought his story to a new generation. At GCHQ, Turing is now seen as a genius— “a problem-solver who was not afraid to think differently and radically,” Hannigan said.

It was partly to honor Turing that the agency’s headquarters was lit up during a global celebration of gender and sexual diversity last year.

“It was also kind of an act of atonement — for the lost opportunity of his early death,” Hannigan said. “Who knows what Turing would have gone on to do, where, for example, he might have taken his pioneering interest in artificial intelligence, which is the thing everyone is talking about. We will never know and should, as a society, never repeat that mistake.”

Hannigan said things are different now.

To make the point, he shared a story about an internal agency blog headlined “So it’s goodbye from him.” Hannigan said that at first he thought it was written by someone who was leaving the agency for the private sector. It turned out to be the story of a transgender employee — who he called Emma — who had finally decided to start the process of transition.

“We have a lot of courageous staff, civilian and military, straight and gay, who have deployed to Afghanistan, to Iraq, and other conflicts…,” Hannigan said. “But it takes a particular kind of courage to write what Emma wrote in front of thousands of her colleagues.”

Hannigan said he was proud the blog was the most “liked” the agency had ever had, and that the comments were genuinely supportive. But he stressed that GCHQ was still far from a utopia.

“That is the real point of diversity for me,” he said. “To do our job, which is solving some of the hardest technology problems the world faces for security reasons, we need all talents and we need people who dare to think differently and be different. … Dull uniformity would completely destroy us.”

Dilma Rousseffs Former Supporters in Brazil Express Disillusionment
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As the president faces a possible impeachment, working-class people who brought her party to power say they feel abandoned and want a change.

Weapons, Rights Frame Hollande’s Egypt Visit
mikenova shared this story from Voice of America.

French President Francois Hollande arrives in Egypt Sunday for a visit intended to shore up security cooperation and produce lucrative weapons deals despite sharp criticism by rights groups. Hollandes Cairo leg is part of a four-day trip to the Middle East that began Saturday in Lebanon and ends Tuesday in Jordan. There, he will address shared concerns with Arab allies, ranging from terrorism and instability in Iraq, Syria and Libya, to the refugee crisis and the long-simmering…

Rousseff Works to Sway Lawmakers on Eve of Impeachment Vote
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On the eve of a crucial impeachment vote in Congress, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff worked behind the scenes to buttress her coalition.

Syria talks resume, chances seen as very slim amid violence
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Indirect peace talks between Syrias warring parties have resumed in Geneva to the backdrop of escalating violence in the countrys north and a refusal by the Syrian government to negotiate a transitional government, a key opposition demand.

Pope Francis Says Bernie Sanders Meeting Was Not an Endorsement
mikenova shared this story from World TIME.

(ROME) — Pope Francis said his brief encounter Saturday with U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was a sign of good manners, “nothing more,” and hardly evidence of interfering in American politics.

The White House hopeful called it a “real honor” to meet “one of the extraordinary figures” in the world, a kindred spirit on economic inequality, which is a main Sanders’ campaign theme.

Francis was on his way to Greece to highlight the plight of refugees and Sanders was wrapping up his trip to Rome when they met in the lobby of the pope’s residence, the Domus Santa Marta hotel in the Vatican gardens. The Vermont senator had attended a Vatican conference Friday on economic inequality and climate change, and flew back to New York for campaign events on Saturday.

“This morning when I left, Sen. Sanders was there. … He knew I was leaving at that time and I had the kindness to greet him and his wife and another couple who were with them,” the pope told reporters traveling back with him to the Vatican.

“When I came down, I greeted them, shook their hands and nothing more. This is good manners. It’s called good manners and not getting mixed up in politics. If anyone thinks that greeting someone means getting involved in politics, they should see a psychiatrist,” the pope said.

Earlier, Sanders said in an The Associated Press interview that he told the pope that he appreciated the message that Francis was sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. Sanders said that was a message he, too, has tried to convey.

“We had an opportunity to meet with him this morning,” Sanders said. “It was a real honor for me, for my wife and I to spend some time with him. I think he is one of the extraordinary figures not only in the world today but in modern world history.”

Sanders said he had the chance to tell the pope that “I was incredibly appreciative of the incredible role that he is playing in this planet in discussing issues about the need for an economy based on morality, not greed.”

Sanders and his wife, Jane, stayed overnight at the hotel, on the same floor as the pope. Francis noted to reporters that members of the Vatican conference that Sanders had attended also were staying at the hotel.

Jeffrey Sachs, a Sanders foreign policy adviser, said there were no photographs taken of the pope and Sanders together.

The Vatican is loath to get involved in electoral campaigns, and usually tries to avoid any perception of partisanship as far as the pope is concerned, although Francis in February rebuked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump over Trump’s stand on immigration.

Popes rarely travel to countries during the thick of political campaigns, knowing a papal photo opportunity with the sitting head of state can be exploited for political ends.

But Francis has been known to flout Vatican protocol, and the meeting with Sanders was evidence that his personal desires often trump Vatican diplomacy.

“His message is resonating with every religion on earth with people who have no religion and it is a message that says we have got to inject morality and justice into the global economy,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the meeting should not be viewed as the pope injecting himself into the campaign.

“The issues that I talked about yesterday at the conference, as you well know, are issues that I have been talking about not just throughout this campaign but throughout my political life,” Sanders said in the interview. “And I am just very much appreciated the fact that the pope in many ways has been raising these issues in a global way in the sense that I have been trying to raise them in the United States.”

Sachs said Sanders saw the pope in the foyer of the domus, and that the encounter lasted about five minutes. Sanders later joined his family, including some of his grandchildren, for a walking tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest Catholic shrines.

The trip gave Sanders a moment on the world stage, putting him alongside priests, bishops, academics and two South American presidents at the Vatican conference.

Sanders has been at a disadvantage during his campaign against rival Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama’s former secretary of state, on issues of foreign policy. But Sanders was peppered with questions from academics and ecclesiastics during Vatican conference in a manner that might have been afforded a head of state.

The invitation to Sanders to address that session raised eyebrows when it was announced and touched off allegations that the senator lobbied for the invitation.

But the chancellor for the pontifical academy, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, said he invited Sanders because he was the only U.S. presidential candidate who showed deep interest in the teachings of Francis.

Once back home, Sanders was set to refocus on Tuesday’s pivotal presidential contest in New York, a state with a significant number of Catholic voters. Clinton holds a lead among the delegates who will determine the Democratic nominee, and Sanders is trying to string together a series of victories in upcoming contests to draw closer.

1:49 PM 4/16/2016 Headlines: Protesters Nationwide Denounce Big Money in US Politics
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Today’s Headlines and Commentary
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Syrias cessation of hostilities appears to be on the verge of collapse as government forces launched an attack on rebel positions north of Aleppo. The Washington Post writes that a surge in fighting across Syria on Thursday signaled the apparent collapse of a landmark cease-fire that has been under mounting stress in recent days because of intensifying assaults by government forces and rebels. Backed by Russian airstrikes, Syrian government attacks around Aleppo have been increasing in recent days, targeting rebel supply lines. Syrian media reported that government forces had seized the northern part of the Handarat Camp, which oversees supply lines into the city. Reuters adds that fighting near Aleppo has been escalating for two weeks, mostly to the south of the city where government forces backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other militias have been waging fierce battles with rebels including Nusra Front fighters.

The surge in violence across Syria continues to threaten the peace talks which resumed earlier this week in Geneva, but it is unclear how the uptick in violence near Aleppo will impact the talks as both sides continue to blame each other for ceasefire violations. Representatives of the Syrian government met with a UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura for the first time, proposing amendments to the list of fundamental principles guiding the discussions. One government representative called the meeting constructive and fruitful.

Meanwhile, intense fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants has prompted a new wave of refugees attempting to flee the violence. As Syrian rebels, supported by U.S. airpower and Turkish artillery, attempt to regain the territory held by ISIS near the Turkish border, the intensified fighting has caused over 30,000 people to flee the area in the last 48 hours, the Wall Street Journal tells us. The exodus was largely caused after Islamic State militants opened fire on communities that had sheltered them, according to the Guardian. The Journal cites one American official who said that the rebel initiative to regain the territory is part of the U.S. strategy to isolate the Islamic States de facto capital, Raqqa.

After the announcement from earlier this week that U.S. forces were using cyber bombs to increase pressure on the Islamic State, CNN reports that the military has deployed a squadron of Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler aircraft capable of attacking ISIS’s ability to communicate closer to the front lines of the battle against the terrorist group. CNN writes that while the Pentagon won’t spell out their mission specifically, the Prowlers could be used to jam cell phone signals and other devices used to trigger roadside bombs, or to interrupt radio broadcasts used to distribute ISIS propaganda.

Over in Afghanistan, the United States has launched over 70 airstrikes against the Islamic State in the country since the Obama Administration granted U.S. forces the legal authority to target the militant group nearly three months ago. Military estimates have put the total number of Islamic State militants in Afghanistan between 1000 and 3000, but military spokesman Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland told Pentagon officials yesterday that that number was closer to the lower estimate after U.S. operations against the group. Despite the apparent success against the group in Afghanistan, the Washington Post notes that the strikes against the Islamic State in Nangahar have done little to improve security in other parts of the country especially as the Taliban continues to pose a significant threat.

That said, just days after announcing their spring offensive, the Taliban launched a major offensive to retake the city of Kunduz, which the group seized briefly late last year before being pushed out by Afghan security forces. Reuters writes that fighting broke out on Thursday in six districts in Kunduz province, a crucial northern stronghold close to the Tajikistan border, as well as around the provincial capital, with Afghan security forces battling militants through the night.

Turning to Yemen, Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition regained the city of Houta from al Qaeda militants. The local al Qaeda affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has taken advantage of the ongoing civil conflict to gain territory. Reuters reports that U.S. officials are considering supporting the United Arab Emirates push against the militant group, writing that the UAE has asked for U.S. help on medical evacuation and combat search and rescue as part of a broad request for American air power, intelligence and logistics support. Elsewhere in the country, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb which struck Aden with no casualties.

As the conflicts in Syria and Yemen continue, Reuters tells us that officials from over 50 Muslim states accused Iran on Friday of supporting terrorism and interfering in the internal affairs of regional states including Syria and Yemen.” Leaders from 57 Muslim countries including Iran met in Turkey at a summit for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). An OIC communique states that the Conference deplored Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of the States of the region and other Member States including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism.

Turning to the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited a U.S. carrier sailing in the region as part of his six day trip to India and the Philippines. Aboard the USS John C. Stennis, Carter said that what’s new is not an American carrier in this region but rather the context of tension which exists which we want to reduce. Carters visit to the region came as U.S. forces finished up an eleven day training exercises with their Philippine counterparts. The two countries have also begun joint patrols in the region.

Concurrently, Chinas defense ministry reported today that Gen. Fan Changlong, the countrys most senior commander, visited the South China Seas disputed Spratly Islands, the New York Times writes. The Times notes that although the details made public about General Fans visit were sparse, his visit to the area appeared intended to show Chinas determination to ward off any challenges to its claims over the islands, which are also the subject of claims by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. China calls them the Nansha Islands.

North Korea attempted to launch an intermediate-range ballistic missile in defiance of U.N. sanctions and in an embarrassing setback for leader Kim Jong Un, drawing criticism from major ally China, Reuters tells us. The country has continued to develop its missile program despite increasing UN sanctions, much to the displeasure of its neighbor China. A Chinese state media source wrote that the firing of a mid-range ballistic missile on Friday by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), though failed, marks the latest in a string of saber-rattling that, if unchecked, will lead the country to nowhere, while a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that we hope all parties can strictly respect the decisions of the Security Council and avoid taking any steps that could further worsen tensions.

The Washington Post reported that the FBI has not found links to foreign terrorists on the recently-cracked iPhone from the San Bernardino case but is continuing to analyze the phone for other information which could further the ongoing investigation. The Post writes that one cellphone forensics expert said that if the bureau hasnt found anything significant by now, it is unlikely to find anything highly useful at this point.

Despite previously rejecting plea deals, Adnan Farah, suspect in an ISIS-related Minnesota case, changed his plea to guilty. Farah told the court that he was attracted to ISIS after he watched more than 100 of its propaganda videos, which showed children asking for help, ISIS handing out food aid to Muslims in Syria and jihadists fighting the Syrian government forces and that he was influenced by the videos and lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American firebrand who preached jihad but also lectured on Islam.

As counterterrorism operations expand in Europe in the wake of the Brussels attacks, British officials announced that they had arrested at least five people. While no details on their identities or charges have been revealed, the Post writes that a police official told reporters that the arrests were made in coordination with French and Belgian security agencies. The Post adds that British media, citing police sources, have reported that at least two suspects linked to the Paris and Brussels attacks traveled last year to Birmingham in central Britain and took photographs of various sites, including a soccer stadium.

Also from Britain, the Guardian tells us that British security officials have launched an effort to take down online material used by Islamic State recruiters in efforts to reduce the impact of ISIS recruiters online. According to figures released by British police today, Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit is on course to remove 100,000 items, having already taken down 26,000 pieces of internet content in the first quarter of this year. Despite their efforts, the figures suggest a massive increase in extremist material online.

Elsewhere in Europe, Belgians transportation minister stepped down after being accused of ignoring security lapses at the Zaventem airport on the eve of the attacks in Brussels. Minister Jacqueline Galant denied having seen a report of security lapses in Belgium’s airports which had been identified by EU inspectors in 2015 but later resigned after government officials suggested that the report had been discussed. The BBC, citing Belgian media sources, notes that Galants departure does not change the fact that the entire government’s reputation on security appears to be in tatters.

As Europe attempts to step up its security measures, the European Parliament approved a law which would make the personal and credit-card data of all air travelers coming into and leaving the EU accessible to national police and intelligence services for up to five years. According to the Wall Street Journal, the legislation, known as the Passenger Name Record, was initially proposed five years ago but was put on hold over privacy concerns. Under renewed pressure by several EU governments, a number of measures intended to bolster counterterrorism initiatives across the bloc have been proposed or approved by European lawmakers since the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Microsoft filed a suit against the government over a federal statute which prohibits the company from telling customers when federal investigators obtained a warrant to their access private communications. According to the Post, Microsoft claims that the Justice Department is abusing the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows authorities to obtain court orders requiring it to turn over customer files stored on its servers, while in some cases prohibiting the company from notifying the customer  and suggests that non-disclosure orders violate its constitutional right to free speech, as well as its customers protection against unreasonable searches. The suit is not in relation to a specific case but intended to challenge the legal process regarding secrecy orders, writes the Times.

CBS News tells us that the ACLU filed a lawsuit claiming the Bureau of Prisons has wrongfully withheld documents related to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan known interchangeably by its nickname, The Salt Pit, and its code name, COBALT. An earlier ACLU request for files relating to a 2002 inspection of COBALT, described in the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee torture report, was denied by the Bureau of Prisons, which claimed that no files existed on the visit. After an appeal of that response was rejected, Carl Takei, the attorney who filed the request, said it seems implausible that a domestic prison agency would send personnel to a war zone to inspect a detention site, and provide recommendations, but keep absolutely no record of the excursion.

The Miami Herald reports that the Guantánamo parole board denied the prisons oldest detainee release, citing his past involvement in terrorist activities and ties to al Qaeda. Saifullah Paracha, a 68-year-old businessman from Pakistan, was detained in Bangkok in a sting orchestrated by the FBI in 2003. His lawyers suggest that their client “cannot show ‘remorse’ for things he maintains he never did.” Declaring him too dangerous for release, the board pointed to Parachas refusal to take responsibility for his involvement with al-Qaida, his refusal to distinguish between legitimate and nefarious business contacts, and his role in facilitating financial transactions and travel and developing media for al-Qaida.

Parting Shot: Russian President Vladimir Putin answered Russian questions in the Q&A style, biannual “Direct Line.” In the just under four hour Q&A, Putin answered questions about his romantic life, the Panama Papers, world leaders, and Syria among other topics. Foreign Policy has the highlights here.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Matthew Wein argued that U.S. tactics must adapt as ISIL evolves.

Stewart Baker posted the latest Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, which features an interview with Suzanne Spaulding of the DHS.

Paul Rosenzweig asked if encryption is driving everyone crazy.

Paul also noted President Obamas announcement of the members of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.

Daniel Severson told us that the French parliament is pushing forward with encryption legislation.

Ben shared the “There’s Classified and then There’s Classified Classified” edition of Rational Security.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

AP PHOTOS: The path of destruction from Japans earthquakes – The Washington Post
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AP PHOTOS: The path of destruction from Japan’s earthquakes

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In this Saturday, April 16, 2016, file photo, a resident stands in front of damaged house in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture, Japan. A powerful earthquake struck southwestern Japan early Saturday, barely 24 hours after a smaller quake hit the same region. (Naoya Osato/Kyodo News via AP, File) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT (Associated Press)

By Associated Press April 16 at 6:50 AM

TOKYO — Back-to-back deadly earthquakes on successive nights near the city of Kumamoto in southern Japan have toppled buildings and triggered landslides.

Residents are on edge as strong aftershocks jolt the region. Officials were warning that rain expected Saturday night could cause more landslides.

Nearly 200,000 homes were without electricity, and drinking water systems had also failed in the area, Japanese media reported. Around 400,000 households were without running water.

Cubas Path to the Future Is Shrouded in Secrecy
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Cuba’s ruling Communist Party is expected to announce a series of economic and political reforms next week that it hopes to put in place as the country prepares for the end of the Castros’ rule in 2018.

The proposals will be announced at the party’s seventh conference, which starts on Sunday. But their content and scope remain a mystery to all but a few senior leaders of the party. While the policy review that preceded the last party conference, in 2011, included broad debate by rank-and-file party members, this time top officials have not shared information with them or solicited their views.

This surreptitious approach is shortsighted at a time of change and rising discontent. Ordinary Cubans, including those who are critical of the Communist Party, should have a say in how the country will be run and by whom, without fear of reprisal and persecution.

For many Cubans, the island’s languishing economy is the most pressing issue. In 2011, party leaders promised to overhaul the centrally planned economy, but they have moved too slowly in opening up the country to foreign investment and allowing a private sector to take root. The main obstacle has been the Cuban military, which has long exercised monopoly control over large segments of the economy, creating an oligarchy in uniform that is reluctant to spread the wealth.

“If the state monopoly is not dismantled, nothing they do will work,” Pavel Vidal, a prominent Cuban economist who is now based in Colombia, said in an interview. “Cuba’s greatest asset is a well-educated population, but it must do more to reap the benefits of that.”

The type of transformative changes many Cubans yearn for will require a visionary leader. But it remains unclear who will lead the country when Raúl Castro — who became president after his brother Fidel became ill in 2008 — steps down in 2018. Also uncertain is whether ordinary Cubans will have a say in the new government.

The probable successor, Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, has offered few clues about how he would govern. His relatively low profile has led to speculation that he would be a far less powerful president than either of the Castro brothers. Cuba analysts think it is likely that Raúl Castro’s son, Alejandro Castro, who was the main contact in secret talks with the Obama administration that led to normalization of relations with the United States, will continue to wield considerable power behind the scenes.

Last year, the Cuban government said it was updating its electoral law. That process, which has been shrouded in secrecy, fed hopes that the country’s Communist leaders could be contemplating a more democratic system.

“If they embrace true economic reforms and start a process that improves the situation of civil and political rights, many Cubans would be willing to forget the harm they have caused to date and the historical judgment will be much less severe,” José Daniel Ferrer, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, the largest dissident group on the island, said in an email.

If reforms continue at a glacial pace, young Cubans will keep fleeing the island in droves, fueling a exodus that has become a referendum of sorts.

Continue reading the main story

Top Navy official: Russian sub activity expands to Cold War level – CNN
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Top Navy official: Russian sub activity expands to Cold War level
“NATO is viewed as an existential threat to Russia, and in the post-Cold War period, the expansion of NATO eastward closer to Russia and our military capability they view as a very visceral threat to Russia,” Adm. Mark Ferguson said. Ferguson spoke

and more »

U.S. Urges Russia to Halt Assad Aleppo Attack as Truce Frays – Bloomberg
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New York Times
U.S. Urges Russia to Halt Assad Aleppo Attack as Truce Frays
The U.S. is urging Russia to help halt an offensive by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on rebel-held Aleppo, once the most populous city in Syria, warning that it’s putting an almost seven-week cease-fire under increasing strain. The Obama
Russia’s Lavrov and Kerry discuss Syria, Nagorno-KarabakhReuters
Russian Forces Remain Heavily Involved in Syria, Despite AppearancesNew York Times
Russia runs up against Bashar al-Assad’s defencesFinancial Times
Washington Post –Wall Street Journal –RT
all 1,926 news articles »
4 soldiers hospitalized after Humvee crash, 1 ‘critical’
mikenova shared this story from Stars and Stripes.

One solider from an Army Reserve unit in New York is in critical condition and three others remain hospitalized after their Humvee overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Apple hits back against FBI in New York iPhone feud – San Jose Mercury News
mikenova shared this story from fbi – Google News.

The Verge
Apple hits back against FBI in New York iPhone feud
San Jose Mercury News
In court papers, Apple’s lawyers revived their defense of the company’s need to protect the security of iPhone users, accusing the FBI of seeking an order to force Apple to unlock an iPhone in a Brooklyn drug case solely to set precedent across the
Apple says FBI has not ‘exhausted’ options to access data on New York iPhoneThe Verge
Apple fires back at FBI in New York iPhone caseThe Hill
More Proof Feds Don’t Need Apple — FBI Cracked iPhone 5 Passcode In 2015Forbes
Apple Insider –CNET –Bloomberg
all 196 news articles »
Budget Cuts Forcing Marines to Work Double-Time, Face Safety Threats
mikenova shared this story from Washington Free Beacon.

Hit with $131 billion worth of budget cuts and a force reduction of 30,000, the Marine Corps is being stretched to its limits, Fox News reported Thursday.

After 15 years of hard service, hard fighting, and deploying around the world, we dont have enough airplanes in the fly line to make sure that the Marines are ready to go, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis.

Due to budget cuts and the departure of well-trained mechanics to the private sector, young Marines have had to work double-time, assuming the role of mechanic themselves.

My Marines are working 20 to 21 hours a day to get [the planes] ready to go on deployment, said Lt. Col. Matthew Brown, adding that he was worried about the safety risks associated with such a high workload.

The likelihood of a ground mishap or them making a mistake late at night, and the pressure to perform, is really where I see the bigger safety risk, Brown said.

The cuts have also impacted fly time, slashing it almost four times.

These last 30 days, our average flight time per pilot was just over four hours, said Lt. Col. Harry Thomas. The average flying time was once 15 hours per monthand building planes is not in the job description, he said.

Were an operational squadron, were supposed to be flying jets, not building them, Thomas said. One pilot told Fox News that Chinese and Russian pilots receive more fly time.

In addition, the planes that the Marines are fixing are themselves outdated and pushed to their breaking point after long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Faced with a delay to the fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter model meant to replace the years-old F/A-18 Hornet jet, the Marine Corps has had to make due with the F/A-18, cannibalizing parts for a plane that has not been produced since 2001.

Sgt. Argentry Uebelhoer described the restoration process as fruitless.

Imagine taking like a 1995 Cadillac and trying to make it a Ferrari. Youre trying to make it faster, more efficient, but its still an old airframe so the aircraft is constantly breaking, Sgt. Uebelhoer said.

On some occasions, the Marines have had to wait 18 months to replace parts for the F-18, and, despite being restored, are still being used 2,000 hours past expiration.

Its very, very old to be flying for an aircraft, said Maj. Michael Malone. These aircraft were designed to fly for 6,000 hours.

Lt. Col. Brown lamented the sacrifice he was asking for from his Marines, considering the safety risks they faced, from exhaustion to outdated planes.

You can look a young Marine in the eye and at some point say, Hey, I want you to do one more for America and apple pie, and at some point you know, that gets old, Brown said.

Browns squadron will deploy to the Middle East within days.

The post Budget Cuts Forcing Marines to Work Double-Time, Face Safety Threats appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

FBI appoints new CIO from within – FedScoop
mikenova shared this story from fbi – Google News.

FBI appoints new CIO from within
The FBI has asked for an additional $38.3 million in the 2017 budget to fund anti-encryption technology and research more than doubling last year’s $31 million request to nearly $70 million. They are also asking for $85 million for the bureau’s

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Politician Leading Charge to Impeach Brazil’s President Has His Own Legal Tangles
mikenova shared this story from WSJ.com: World News.

Eduardo Cunha, the politician bringing impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to a floor vote, is himself under indictment.

Guatemalan ex-president linked to new scandal
mikenova shared this story from World.

Former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and his then-vice president led a criminal structure that collected at least $30 million in bribes to award a contract to build a port terminal, the countrys attorney general and an international anti-corruption commission announced Friday.

Brazil Supreme Court rejects government bid to suspend impeachment vote – swissinfo.ch
mikenova shared this story from World – Google News.

Brazil Supreme Court rejects government bid to suspend impeachment vote
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – A majority of Brazil’s Supreme Court rejected on Friday a request by President Dilma Rousseff’s attorney general to suspend Sunday’s vote in the lower house on whether to impeach her, in a further blow for Rousseff who looks …

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New Delhi’s Street Children Publish Newspaper
mikenova shared this story from Voice of America.

Newspapers occasionally write about the plight of children living in the streets, but a group of homeless kids in India’s capital New Delhi is putting together their own monthly publication with stories about their struggles and their concerns. Balaknama, or “children’s voice” is written, edited and compiled by children up to 19 years old and reaches about 10,000 readers. From poverty to child labor, underage marriages, sexual abuse and drugs – there is no shortage of…

The Czech Republic is getting a new name: Czechia – Washington Post
mikenova shared this story from Top Stories – Google News.

Washington Post
The Czech Republic is getting a new name: Czechia
Washington Post
Politicians in the Czech Republic are set to put decades of debate to an end this week by officially announcing a new name for the country: Czechia. In a meeting with reporters this week, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said he supported the move, …
Photo by Filip Singer/EPAVICE News
Czech Republic wants to be called Czechia (not Chechnya)Mashable
Czech Republic wants to be called Czechia insteadUPI.com
BuzzFeed NewsAppeal-DemocratGlobalPostDeutsche Welle
all 50
news articles »

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