America In Our Rear View Mirror

America In Our Rear View Mirror

Good afternoon everyone, I would like to take this moment to welcome you to “The Good Ole Days”.  For those of us who are lets say forty years or older you are probably thinking that I have fallen off of my rocker and cracked my head again. By the way, if I believed that this current time is my Good Ole Day’s then I must have had a more difficult youth than I had realized, and thanks mostly to my Dad most of the things about my early years really sucked, please pardon my language. But you know something, even with the weight of a less than okay parent, I did have some good times when he was not around. Most of the time when I do look backwards in time into my memory I usually focuses on the few good times of those years. When you are a teenager when you get married and you have two kids by the age of nineteen and a busted marriage at twenty and you are in the Service (because you can’t just get up and leave and go after them), this is not a very good start into adulthood. Yet still I look back at spots within these times and choose to pull out the good and try to keep the bad stuck in a closet. Within this title I am trying to show the reality that I find to be so sad for them. If you are a person that has a little age on  you most likely you know that the times we are living in now is a lot harder for people to survive in.

I am over sixty years old now, when I look back on my life and on the historical events in our country and events that have happened in our world I cringe when I see the events our children are facing. I was born into a very poor but hard-working family in south-west Virginia, even though we moved a bit during my childhood the poor always stuck with us. Each part of the country we lived in most everything stayed the same. Most times were negative because of how my Dad was yet each place had its good moments, good memories. The first outside event in my life was when I was seven when President Kennedy was murdered, that was the first awakening to me that there was life outside the Blue Ridge mountains. I think that most people have that  A-Haw moment when we were young, what was yours, do you remember? Now, try to look back into your memories, try to separate the good ones and the bad ones. Do you remember the negative ones, things like the Vietnam War, political riots, Kent State, Nixon, Woodstock, the Beatles and Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show? You see, good markers, bad markers, and horrible ones. In our lives we all have these markers, of course people have some that are the same as yours, but most people will have varying ones sometimes even when we are looking at the same event we can easily have different concepts about that event. I am going to use Kent State as an example, I think that most of us who witnessed this on our evening news programs was appalled at these shootings of these unarmed kids by the Ohio National Guard members. But there were those who felt that it was about time the Government stood up to these damn hippie commies.

When you look back into not just your own personal past but also the events you lived through, what do you see in your own personal rear view mirror? If life is set up via a generation ruler mine would start is the mid 50’s, so my good ole days were probably the early 70’s, and that is about all for me. After this time, life got real, trying to be an adult, a Dad, a husband, difficult task when you never had a good example to learn from. Now I would like to move up to the next generation where I would like to move twenty years to pick up those people who were born in the 70’s. Everyone like I said before will have their own markers and unfortunately each generation had their heart aches and of course their own wars. This generation had the Desert Shield and Desert Storm within their young lives to contend with. When we try to look back into someone else’s life it is a very difficult thing to do. We can’t perceive how people handle their own personal affairs whether when they were children, young adults, or adults with a little bit of age upon them, we’re all different. For the kids born in the 80’s or the early 90’s there was 911 and the  following wars for their generation to contend with. They as well as the rest of our country and the world had to see events like Katrina and Sandy which showed the total uncaring, crooked, lying politicians from both parties. We have witnessed Government shutdowns and constant tit for tat politics which shows us all very plainly that these politicians do not care about our Country at all, just themselves and their political Parties.

What kind of a world are we dumping on to our Kids and our Grand Kids? What kind of a world are they looking through their windshield at, will there be a civil world left for them to live in to raise their Children in? Will our Kids and Grand Kids even have a world to look into their rear view mirror at? I am emotionally sick when I stop and get upon my knees and talk with our Creator about those loved ones that we leave behind us. Look at the stupidity going on right now between Russia, the U.S. and NATO over the situation in Crimea. Why cant the worlds politicians just agree with letting the people of that peninsula go back to their real homeland. That is what these people want, there was no violence when the Russian troops came in and took this piece of land. As long as President Putin stops there and doesn’t try to go further into the country of Ukraine and is only taking back what is rightfully part of Russia all these NATO and American politicians need to just shut up and let the people have their right to vote welcomed as the will of the people. There is absolutely no excuse for our country or any other country to go to war over this as long as Russian troops stop where they are at. I totally do not believe that President Putin wants war but he absolutely can not back down from this current situation or he is finished as the leader of Russia. He can’t and won’t lose face like that and our so-called leaders need to recognize this fact.

So, what kind of world indeed will our younger loved ones be left with? Will there be a world of peace and prosperity left for our children or are we going to totally pollute it in every possible way before our generation goes to sleep with our ancestors? It is well-known by now that everything that any of us do is being monitored, it is just about to a level now even before our own personal chip are installed that if we fart in the middle of the desert someone in DC will smell it. I can only hope that our kids and grand kids can have many happy moments spent out in the open countryside without having to be scanned and approved before they leave their cubical. What will our kids say about the world we dumped in their laps? Will our kids and grand kids use our graves for a latrine?  What indeed will our kids have for happy memories that they can look back into their rear view mirror and smile about, anything?

US airstrikes killed and injured dozens of Russian military contractors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

There are growing indications that US airstrikes killed and injured dozens of Russian military contractors in northern Syria earlier this month. But in stark contrast to the death of a Russian pilot shot down by rebels in Syria In January, when the airman was hailed as a hero by the Defense Ministry, Moscow appears to wish this story would go away.

The Kremlin has downplayed reports of mass casualties, not named any of those who died and not said why they were there in the first place.
But families of the dead men are starting to ask questions. And details of just why the mercenaries were in the oil-rich region — and the target of their ill-fated operation — are starting to emerge.
On the night of February 7, a 500-strong force largely made up of the Russian contractors and a Christian militia loyal to the Syrian regime crossed the River Euphrates near Deir Ezzor, a Syrian city held by ISIS until the end of last year.
The Russians were working for a paramilitary company called Wagner, which has hundreds of contractors on the ground in Syria, helping both the Russian military and pro-regime forces.
The mission of that night’s operation remains unclear, but the forces were advancing towards a valuable oil and gas field, Coneco, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed militia that has been fighting ISIS in Syria.
When the pro-regime forces began shelling a base held by the SDF, the US responded with heavy airstrikes and artillery fire, which continued for about three hours.
US commanders tried to reach their Russian counterparts through what are known as deconfliction channels, to warn of their response. But by the time communications were established, the counterattack was underway.

Scenes of carnage

The results were devastating. The accounts of several of the Wagner contingent, as relayed to friends and family, speak of carnage as US commanders deployed AC-130 attack aircraft, helicopters and artillery in response to the attack.
Valery Shebayev, who visited some of the injured in a Moscow hospital, told CNN the group had been ordered to take what was described as a vacant oil field. But they had no air support. Shebayev, who belongs to a Cossack group from which Wagner draws some of its recruits, described what followed as “a massacre.”
Ruslan Leviev, an activist with the Conflict Intelligence Team in Moscow, a group that monitors Russian involvement in Syria, told CNN that while estimates of the number of varies, “we lean towards 20 to 30 of dead Russian citizens.”
The Russian government has declined to confirm the reports. On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova would only concede that five Russian citizens may have been killed.
Pressed by CNN about reports of a much higher casualty figure, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov tried to draw a line under the story on Friday. “We have no new information about this and we said everything we wanted to say on this matter,” he said.

Deadly encounter between US and Russia

This low-key response to contractors’ deaths is not unusual: Moscow prefers to portray its involvement in Syria as largely an air war with few boots on the ground.
But if the upper end of the casualty figures is confirmed, it would be the deadliest encounter between the US and Russia since the end of the Cold War. For its part, the US says it followed the deconfliction protocols. “The Russians professed that they were not aware when we called them about that force that had crossed [the Euphrates]. As it came closer they were notified when the firing began,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis said on February 11.
Among the families of the men who died, there is growing anger. Farkhanur Gavrilova, 67, from the central Russian village of Kedrovoye, lost her son, Ruslan. She only learned of his death from an acquaintance, with no official word from Wagner or the Russian authorities.

Russian plane shot down in Syria

Gavrilova contrasted the fate of the Wagner men with state media coverage of Roman Filipov, the pilot shot down by rebels in Syria last month. “Are they not people too? They obviously went to fight, to help, even if it’s for the money it’s because of poverty, because there are no jobs,” Gavrilova told an online private network, Current Time.
Another of the dead was 51-year-old Vladimir Loginov. Like many contractors who have gone to Syria, he was a member of a Cossack group of ultra-nationalists who had also fought in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Baltic Cossack District said in a statement that Loginov was a Russian citizen who was killed in an “unequal battle.”
The pro-Assad Christian militia that was also involved in the attack appears to have suffered heavy losses. Earlier this week, there was a mass funeral for about 30 members of the militia — which often describes itself as the “ISIS hunters.”

Oil and money

The question remains why such a large force should have attempted such a dangerous — and disastrous — assault.
Leviev believes the attack on the SDF-held base was a terrible miscalculation, born out of a belief that the attention of the anti-regime forces, many of whom are Kurdish, would have been focused on an ongoing operation by Turkish forces against the Kurds around Afrin in northwest Syria.
“The pro-Assad forces thought the Kurds were distracted by what’s happening in Afrin, so [used] the opportunity and try to take control of the Coneco oil and gas factory. It looks like it was an independent initiative.”
But why would Wagner take such a risk to take control of the oil field?
Wagner is led by Dmitry Utkin, a former colonel in the Russian special forces who is under US sanctions for assisting pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Utkin was once head of security for a Russian oligarch called Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has close ties to the Kremlin. Prigozhin was indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday for funding the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked troll group accused of interfering in the 2016 US presidential election campaign by sowing discord online.
Prigozhin controls a network of Russian companies, including Concord Management and Consulting. Company records show that someone named Dmitry Utkin, the same name as the Wagner boss, is director general of Concord.
Prigozhin and Concord have denied being linked to Wagner. Concord said last year: “We do not have any information about this organization.”
Last month, the US Treasury Department designated another Russian company, Evro Polis, “for being owned or controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch who controls a network of companies including Concord.

CNN has seen a copy of a contract between Evro Polis, and the Syrian regime, under which Evro Polis gets 25% of oil revenues from fields that are recovered from rebel control.
“It seems that on some level all Prigozhin’s financial assets overlap and he uses the money from them to fund projects like the troll factory, Wagner, Evro Polis and others,” Ruslan Leviev, the activist, says.
Essentially, Wagner does the fighting; Evro Polis gets the oil and gas. Coneco, the oil field near Deir Ezzor, is one of the most valuable still in rebel hands.
Efforts to reach Wagner, which has no registered office in Russia, were unsuccessful.
Despite the Kremlin’s reticence, and the total silence in Russia’s official media, the deaths in Syria are showing signs of impacting the election campaign in Russia, in which President Vladimir Putin is bidding for another six years in office. The vote is on March 18.
On Monday, liberal presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky said: “If massive Russian casualties took place, then relevant officials… must announce this to the country and find out who is responsible.”
So far, there is no indication that Russian authorities have any enthusiasm to do either.
  

Death of 5 Russians in Coalition’s Strike in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE RUSSIAN OFFICIAL NEWS AGENCY ‘SPUTNIK NEWS’)

 

US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles are designed to conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq

Moscow Preliminarily Confirms Death of 5 Russians in Coalition’s Strike in Syria

© REUTERS/ U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/Handout

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death of five Russian nationals in the US-led coalition’s strike in Syria, but their citizenship has yet to be verified.

“According to preliminary data, as a result of the armed conflict, the reasons for which are now being clarified, five people, presumably Russian citizens, could have been killed. There are also injured people, but all this requires verification — in particular, first of all, their citizenship — whether they are all citizens of Russia or other countries. I would like to stress once again that we are not talking about Russian servicemen,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing.

According to Zakharova, reports of hundreds of Russian citizens killed in the airstrike are “disinformation” by anti-government forces.

“Claims about the deaths of dozens and hundreds of Russian citizens are classic misinformation. There are not 400, not 200, not 100 and not ten [of them killed as a result of the US-led coalition’s airstrike],” she emphasized.

READ MORE: WATCH: US-Led Coalition Strike Syrian Government Forces

“Among the first to spread this information within their channels were Syrian anti-government militants, who for some reason took a photo of the surface of Mars, put on it an image of destroyed military equipment, perhaps even Ukrainian, dated June 2014.”

The spokeswoman emphasized that there were many people of different nationalities in Syria’s conflict zones.

“There is a large number of citizens from all regions of the world, including Russia and CIS countries, in the conflict zones. The purposes for their stay in war zones are different, including participation in hostilities,” Zakharova said, noting that it was hard to trace all of them.

US-Led Coalition’s Airstrike on Pro-Damascus Forces

Last week, US Central Command announced that the coalition conducted what it described as “defensive airstrikes” against pro-government forces near the Euphrates River as a response to an alleged attack against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters. The airstrikes have reportedly resulted in the death of at least 100 pro-government troops.Damascus has slammed the attack as “a new act of aggression that constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity,” while the Russian Defense Ministry said that the attack showcased that the real goal behind Washington’s “illegal military presence in Syria” was control over the country’s economic assets rather than defeating Daesh.

Later, media reports emerged, alleging that a large number of Russian “mercenaries” had been killed in airstrikes. So far, the death of one Russian citizen Kiril Ananyev from an activist group “Another Russia” has been reported by the organization’s coordinator.

READ MORE: US Attack on Pro-Damascus Forces ‘Attempt to Support Terorrism’ — Syrian TV

When asked to comment on the reports, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saidWednesday that he didn’t rule out that Russian nationals, who do not belong to the Russian Armed Forces, could be in Syria.

Earlier in the day, he emphasized that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not make any decisions to classify any information regarding Russian nationals in Syria.

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casualtiesUS-led coalitionMaria ZakharovaSyriaUnited StatesRussia

Dozens of Russians Are Believed Killed in U.S.-Backed Syria Attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

American special forces in Manbij, Syria, near the border with Turkey, this month. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

MOSCOW — Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials.

A Syrian military officer said that about 100 Syrian soldiers had been killed in the fighting on Feb. 7 and 8, but news about Russian casualties has dribbled out only slowly, through Russian news organizations and social media.

Much about the attack and the associated casualties has been obscured in the fog of war. For reasons that remain unclear, Syrian government troops and some Russian nationals appear to have attacked a coalition position, near Al Tabiyeh, Syria.

The attack occurred in the vicinity of Deir al-Zour, a strategic, oil-rich territory that is coveted by the Syrians. Most of the fatalities were attributed to an American airstrike on enemy columns that was called in by American-backed Kurdish soldiers who believed they were under attack.

At no point, an American military spokesman said, was there any chance of direct conflict between United States and Russian forces.

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“Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted, unprovoked attack,” according to Col. Ryan S. Dillon, a spokesman for the American military. “Russian officials assured coalition officials they would not engage coalition forces in the vicinity.”

The Kremlin — seeking to play down its involvement in the fighting in Syria and seemingly hoping to avoid escalating tensions with the United States — has sidestepped questions about the episode, even as it faces rare criticism at home over its failure to acknowledge the deaths of Russians in Syria.

It has stressed repeatedly since last Wednesday that no members of the Russian armed forces were killed, and that any Russians fighting alongside the Syrians were mercenaries.

“We only handle the data that concerns Russian forces servicemen,” Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said at a news briefing on Tuesday. “We don’t have data about other Russians who could be in Syria.”

The Kremlin said much the same about the nature of the forces in Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014, however, claiming they were volunteers and men on vacation, only to admit later that they were regular soldiers.

100 km

President Vladimir V. Putin has said at least three times since 2016 that combat operations in Syria were winding down, including once during a surprise visit to a Russian air base in Syria last December. Yet there are hundreds if not thousands of contract soldiers in Syria whom the Russian government has never acknowledged.

They were deployed both to help keep the official cost down and to avoid reports of casualties, especially with a March presidential election in Russia fast approaching. Even though the Kremlin enacted a law during the Ukraine crisis in 2015 to make battlefield casualties a secret, the funerals for regular soldiers killed in combat need to be more official than those for mercenaries, and are thus difficult to hide.

And some individual Russians have begun speaking out. Aleksandr Ionov, a Russian businessman working in Syria offering security and other services, said he estimated after conversations with associates in several private military organizations that more than 200 Russians might have been killed.

Mr. Ionov said not all those killed were Russian: Some of the paid fighters came from other countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. “More than 200 is the current estimate, we cannot know the exact number yet, but most of them were Russian,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Ionov said he was speaking out because he wanted any Russians who were killed to be officially recognized for their sacrifice.

“The truth has to be told,” he said. “If people died, then this should be recognized and respects should be paid to people who fought against terrorists.”

He called on the government to give a fuller version of events, adding, “People are outraged because they want to know the truth.”

Mr. Ionov was not the only one speaking out about Russian fatalities. Aleksandr Averin, a member of the Other Russia nationalist party, confirmed that Kirill Ananiev, a party member who left for Syria about a year ago, had been killed in the airstrike, noting that there were other “substantial losses.”

“I can confirm that Kirill died on Feb. 7 in Syria, near the Euphrates River, as a result of a strike by the American coalition,” Mr. Averin said in an interview, adding that he was aware of “substantial losses” suffered by “paramilitary structures with ties to Russia.” He refused to elaborate.

Another victim, Vladimir N. Loginov, 51, died “in an unequal fight on Feb. 7 in the area of Syria’s Deir al-Zour,” according to a statement published online by his paramilitary organization.

“He died, heroically defending our motherland in the far reaches against the invasion of maddened barbarians,” the group, the Baltic Cossack Union in Kaliningrad, said in the statement.

Photo

Syrian pro-government fighters, who were reportedly wounded in a United States airstrike near Deir al-Zour, at a hospital in the town. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

In another case, Lubava Kocheva, a woman from central Russia, said in a brief online chat that two of her male friends in Syria, Igor Kosoturov and Stanislav Matveev, also died on Feb. 7.

“We don’t know anything, whether they will bring them or not,” said Mrs. Kocheva, 41, referring to the men’s corpses. “This is very difficult and frightening.”

The names of most of the victims identified so far were first reported by the Conflict Intelligence Team, a group of Russian investigative bloggers. The exact circumstances of their deaths could not be established by The New York Times.

The Russian Defense Ministry, which supports the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in the continuing civil war, said none of its servicemen had been involved in the clash and that only 25 pro-government Syrian insurgents were wounded. It took pains to distance itself from the battle.

“The reason for the incident was lack of coordination between the reconnaissance movements of the Syrian insurgents and the Russian operative command,” the ministry said in its statement on Thursday.

The number and exact nature of private Russian security firms operating in Syria is unclear, although there have been persistent reports in the Russian news media that some militiamen who fought on the side of the Russian-backed separatists in the war in eastern Ukraine later deployed to Syria.

The main Russian paramilitary contracting organization is the Wagner Group, known by the nickname of the retired Russian officer who leads it. The group has been operating in Syria in various capacities, including protecting some oil fields, according to multiple reports in the Russian news media. Its relationship with the Kremlin is murky and unconfirmed, but its leaders have reportedly received awards in the Kremlin and its mercenaries are trained at the Russian Defense Ministry’s facilities.

Grigory A. Yavlinsky, a veteran Russian opposition politician who is a candidate in next month’s presidential election, called on Tuesday for Mr. Putin to disclose the number of Russians who had died in Syria.

“I demand an explanation as to why Russian nationals take part in ground military operations in Syria, despite the statements by the president and defense minister that Russian military formations will be withdrawn from this country,” Mr. Yavlinsky said in a statement. “I also think there needs to be a public report about relations with the U.S., as there is a growing threat of an accidental or deliberate direct military clash between Russia and America.”

The official Kremlin stance is that its military deployment in Syria is now centered on two permanent bases, one for Russia’s air force and one for its navy, there by invitation from the Syrian government.

342COMMENTS

Russian political analysts said that the country’s reluctance to confirm that its citizens had died as a result of a United States-led airstrike was actually a sign that Moscow did not want to further worsen the already fractured bilateral relations with Washington.

“This is a very rare case, where the positions of Russia and the U.S. got closer,” said Aleksei V. Makarkin, an analyst at the Center for Political Technologies, a think tank in Moscow. “No one wants to take steps that will do irreparable damage to the already broken Russia-U.S. relations.”

Correction: February 13, 2018 
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly described an account by a Syrian military officer. He said that about 100 Syrian — not Russian — soldiers died in fighting on Feb. 7 and 8.

The Answer To Why Trump Won’t Except That Russia Messed With 2016 Election

 

Folks there is one main reason that President Trump refuses to accept that Russia messed with the Presidential election in 2016. This reason is simple, if he did except that his good buddy Vlad and his KGB (FSB) operatives did interfere with the election he, ‘Mr. Trump’, would have to concede that not only did Mr. Trump lose the popular vote but that he did also lost the Electoral College vote as well, meaning, he ‘Mr. Trump’ is not legally really our President. He would have to except that he is ‘a loser’.

 

I know that I am not a genius, unlike Mr. Trump, who just can’t admit that he is a dumb as a box of Donkey dung. Yet I, unlike Mr. Trump do have the ability to be honest with reality. Sometimes I am able to look at an issue with an open mind as to the concept of what is or would be logical. Concerning the 2016 elections, before they ever happened I looked at them and thought about how could a group of very smart hackers mess with the election results to get Mr. Trump elected or, to make sure that Hillary wasn’t elected. My thoughts then and now were/are that if someone like Mr. Putin wanted to help make sure that Hillary whom he hates did not win the Presidency, how could he do it? How could you throw the election for a major underdog? To me the answer is and was simple, you attack the U.S. system through the States, not through a National computer system. Our Intelligence Agencies say that Russian hackers infiltrated the computer systems of 21 States in the last election. All that they had to do was flip the votes in a few of the States where they thought that Mr. Trump was going to be close, say 2, 3 or 4% points less than Hillary, which would be within the ‘margin of error’ and flip the vote totals.

 

Folks if Mr. Putin was able to help ‘flip’ just 3 or 4 of those States to Mr. Trump, he would have been able to win the Electoral College vote, giving the election to Mr. Trump. Now, simply what happened in that election? Mr. Trump pulled out a few States that he wasn’t expected to win in very close vote totals, he won the Electoral College vote while losing the popular vote by about five million. I said before, during and after the election that this is how they would do it if they were able to infiltrate the system. All of our Nation’s Security Agencies say that Russia did interfere. As I said, Mr. Trump can not say there was interference unless he admits that he indeed lost and that he is not our Nations legally elected President.

 

Now, if Mr. Trump was/is removed from Office, as he should be, what then, who would, should, be put into Office? For those of you who don’t know me, I detest Hillary Clinton as much as I detest Donald Trump, I am not a Democrat nor a Republican, I am a non-partisan Independent. I looked at both Hillary and Donald as being as crooked as two human beings could possibly be, I still feel this way. During the last elections the way I was seeing it was the fact that Hillary is very intelligent and dog leg crooked and Donald was a total dumb-a–. So we the people were going to end up with a crook as President no matter what, it just depended on whether we wanted one that was worldly smart, or one that was a total idiot.

 

Now to be honest with you I don’t know how things would be handled if Mr. Trump was evicted from Our White House, so here is just some guesses. Obviously something like this has never happened since we became a Country, so what would the Washington D.C. politicians decide, or would it, should it be decided by the Supreme Court? But to go through the Court Mr. Gorsuch would also have to be removed from the Bench thus leaving the Court with 8 members, pretty much 4 Republican and 4 Democrats. Mr. Pence would have to be removed with Mr. Trump because he was also not really elected to the Post of V.P.. So here is my guess, if the Supreme Court was not able to decide then I would guess that Congressman Paul Ryan would have to take the Podium, at least for a while. Do you let Mr. Ryan be President until new elections this November? At that time do you let Hillary become a one term 6 year President? Do you hold all new Presidential Elections in 2018 then again in 2020? Lots of questions friends, lots of questions. If we think that there is gridlock and bought and paid for politicians in D.C. now, what would it be like for the Country if this current ‘Coward-in-Chief’ is impeached and the current V.P. isn’t allowed to ascend to the Presidency? Lots of questions friends, but what would the real and final answer be?

Ukraine Ejects Ex-Georgian President, Deporting Him To Poland

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR AND THE BBC)

 

Ukraine Ejects Ex-Georgian President, Deporting Him To Poland

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to the media prior to a scheduled court hearing in Kiev last month.

Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian authorities have deported Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who has emerged as a vocal antagonist of the government in Kiev. Ukraine’s border agency confirmed his deportation to Poland on Monday, while videos on social media purported to show Saakashvili getting seized by masked men.

“This person was on Ukrainian territory illegally,” the agency said in a statement released Monday, “and therefore, in compliance with all legal procedures, he was returned to the country from which he arrived.”

Representatives of Saakashvili are describing the incident in starkly different terms.

Earlier Monday the populist politician’s Facebook account released a plea for help, saying “unknown people in masks kidnapped [him] and drove him in an unknown direction.” At the same time, the account uploaded several videos appearing to show his “abduction” in a restaurant at the hands of several shouting men.

Hours later, he called reporters from Warsaw with his account of the confrontation: “They broke into the cafe,” he said. “They tried to close my eyes, tie my hands.”

Within hours he had been placed on a plane to Poland.

Saakashvili and his supporters have cast the move as an attempt to remove a prominent threat to President Petro Poroshenko, a former ally who granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship and even appointed him governor several years ago — only to strip him of that citizenship after Saakashvili quit amid a flurry of accusations that Poroshenko was blocking his attempts at reform.

Saakashvili — a populist politician who also faces a three-year prison sentence in Georgia for embezzlement and abuse of authority during his presidency there — lost his rights as a Ukrainian last summer while he was in the U.S. He returned, though, gathering supporters on the Poland-Ukraine border for a climactic push back into the country in September. Since then he has drawn a considerable following in Ukraine, even as Ukrainian officials have condemned him as a provocateur backed by a pro-Russian criminal group.

Earlier this month Saakashvili lost his appeal for protection against the possibility of getting extradited to Georgia to stand charges.

“The Georgian authorities never asked for my extradition when I was in America or in Europe,” the 50-year-old opposition leader told The Guardian last week, when he was still living and working in central Kiev. “They only did it when I returned to Ukraine because Poroshenko asked them to.”

Now, after grappling with Saakashvili for months, Kiev has managed to eject him. Time will tell whether he will stay out of Ukraine or whether, as he did last year, he will somehow manage to return. In the meantime, Saakashvili might be out of the country — but he is not exactly out of earshot.

“This is not a president and not a man,” he said of Poroshenko in a statement after the deportation Monday, according to Reuters. “This is a lowlife crook who wants to wreck Ukraine. All this shows how weak they are. We will of necessity defeat them.”

Read All About It: Breaking News

Israel-Iran Fight Steps Into The Open

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

No longer shrouded by ‘foreign reports,’ Israel-Iran fight steps into the open

Long-heard warnings of war between Jerusalem and Tehran are poised to become reality – unless someone can stop it

Judah Ari Gross

Israeli soldiers survey the border with Syria from a military post in the Golan Heights, following a series of aerial clashes with Syrian and Iranian forces in Syria, on February 10, 2018. (Flash90)

Israeli soldiers survey the border with Syria from a military post in the Golan Heights, following a series of aerial clashes with Syrian and Iranian forces in Syria, on February 10, 2018. (Flash90)

On Thursday, the International Crisis Group think tank and advocacy firm warned in a new comprehensive report that Israel and Iran (plus its proxies) were barreling toward open conflict in Syria.

Those prescient warnings came true — in part, at least — throughout Saturday morning, beginning shortly before 4:30 a.m., with the violation of Israeli airspace by a drone that the Israeli military says was piloted by an Iranian operator from an airfield that Tehran had taken control of months before, with Syrian permission.

Israeli jets conducted reprisal raids in Syria, during which one of the F-16 fighter planes was apparently hit by shrapnel from an exploding anti-aircraft missile and crashed in northern Israel, in what appears to be the first downing of an Israeli plane since 1982.

The aircraft’s pilots bailed out; one of them was seriously injured.

A picture taken in the northern Israeli Jezreel Valley on February 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defenses during attacks against ‘Iranian targets’ in the war-torn country. (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)

Air force jets then completed a second set of retaliatory strikes. In the two rounds, the Israeli military said, its aircraft targeted several Syrian air defense systems as well as four Iranian positions in the country.

This was the first time Israel publicly acknowledged conducting airstrikes against Iranian-held locations in Syria, though not the first time it had done so, according to foreign reports.

In the aftermath of the Saturday morning clash, Israeli, Syrian and Iranian politicians released tough, threatening statements aimed at one another. The United States backed Israel’s right to self-defense. Russia called for calm on all sides, but singled out Israel for violating Syrian sovereignty with its strikes, while conspicuously ignoring the Iranian drone’s airspace violation.

The aerial exchange thrust what had previously been a long-simmering but largely quiet conflict into the international spotlight and raised concerns that this bout will be the first of many clashes — and, in the nightmare scenario, the start of a full-fledged war across Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel.

I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll see such an event, but for the time being both sides will restrain their responses

However, the prevailing belief among Israeli defense analysts is that Saturday’s events were not the prelude to open war, but the beginning of an extended period of increased tension, which is liable to see additional clashes.

“I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll see such an event, but for the time being both sides will restrain their responses,” Sima Shine, a career defense official and current senior researcher at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies think tank, told reporters on Sunday.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (L) attends a briefing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) in response to the escalation of tensions along the northern border on February 10, 2018. (Ariel Harmoni/Defense Ministry)

She added, during the phone briefing organized by the Media Central group, that escalation is in neither side’s best interest.

Amos Yadlin, a former fighter pilot and Military Intelligence chief, described Saturday as the “most significant day of fighting” in what Israel describes as its “campaign between wars,” often referred to in Hebrew by its acronym, Mabam.

“Despite the containment of the incident, the campaign is expected to continue,” Yadlin said.

In its report, released two days before Saturday’s flareup, the Crisis Group laid out how this campaign between Israel and the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis has developed and how it can be prevented from escalating further.

The organization tracks the current tensions to the Syrian regime’s battlefield victories over the past two and a half years, which it has achieved in large part due to support from the Russian military, which has provided significant air power since September 2015.

These have opened the Iran-led axis to shift toward preparing for a future conflict with Israel.

Only Moscow is in a position to mediate a bolstering of the deescalation agreement. Unless it does, the rules of the Syrian game are likely to be worked out through attack and response, with risk of escalation

According to the think tank, Russia is also the only entity able to prevent such a bloody war, having emerged from the Syrian civil war as the region’s sole remaining superpower after the United States dramatically scaled back its involvement in the conflict.

“Only Moscow is in a position to mediate a bolstering of the deescalation agreement. Unless it does, the rules of the Syrian game are likely to be worked out through attack and response, with risk of escalation,” according to the report.

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The group outlines three main issues that need to be addressed: the presence of Iranian and Shiite forces near the Israeli Golan Heights; the construction of Iranian military infrastructure in Syria; and ensuring any clashes that do take place remain confined to Syria.

The Crisis Group has also been working directly with Russia to try to persuade it to accept the role of mediator between Israel, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

“And we are seeing some traction with Russian officials,” Ofer Zalzberg, a senior Jerusalem-based analyst for the group and one of the report’s authors, told The Times of Israel last Wednesday ahead of the document’s publication.

The recipe for disaster

As Syrian dictator Bashar Assad vanquishes the remaining pockets of resistance in the country, the Israeli concern is that his allies — Iran, Hezbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias — will be freed to focus on establishing positions along the Israeli border from which to antagonize the Jewish state, as well as permanent naval and air bases to bring in more advanced weaponry and conduct attacks.

Israel has designated these issues to be “red lines,” which it will not allow to be violated, and has said it will take military action if they are.

In its report, the Crisis Group warned that if the Iranian axis presses on with these efforts and Israel retaliates in kind, there is significant potential for escalation or even a large-scale war that could destabilize the entire region.

Israeli security forces inspect damage to a house after a Katyusha rocket attack by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, July 15, 2006. (Pierre Terdjman / Flash90)

The military assessments of what a war between Israel and Hezbollah would look like are chilling: Hezbollah launching over 1,000 rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and strategic sites each day, along with attempted infiltrations of Israeli communities along the Lebanese border. Israel conducting wave after wave of airstrikes against Hezbollah infrastructure, which the terrorist group has embedded deep inside civilian areas, ensuring significant noncombatant deaths, as well as large-scale IDF ground force maneuvers in southern Lebanon.

Zalzberg said a major part of the problem is that there are no established “rules of the game” between Israel and Iranian proxies in Syria, as there are in Lebanon, where Israel has been fighting Hezbollah off-and-on for decades.

That means the “rules” will be sorted out through back-and-forth, tit-for-tat clashes like Saturday’s. But this is a perilous path, fraught with opportunities for miscalculation and resulting in unintended casualties on both sides.

For instance, Israeli officials often refer to the “proverbial kindergarten” — the type of target that if hit, even accidentally, would prompt Israeli citizens to demand harsh and swift reprisals. As Iran and Hezbollah lack civilian targets in Syria, their equivalent might be a case of significant casualties from an Israeli airstrike, which would forced them to retaliate.

This is a current concern, following Saturday’s exchange, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog group, reported that at least six pro-regime fighters — including both Syrians and foreign nationals — were killed in Israel’s strikes and that “the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation.”

Zalzberg added the potential for escalation in Syria is driven higher by the fact that different sides do not have a clear grasp of one another’s goals and viewpoints, citing a year’s worth of interviews by the Crisis Group with officials in Jerusalem, Tehran, Beirut, Amman, Moscow and Washington.

The report and its authors argue that it is ultimately in Russia’s best interest to avoid an all-out war between Israel and the Lebanon-based, Iran-backed Hezbollah, which would have the potential to completely destabilize the region.

Unlike in the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah when the fighting was primarily limited to northern Israel and southern Lebanon, the view of both Israeli and Hezbollah officials is that the next conflict between the two groups would also include fighting in Syria.

Israeli artillery howitzers fire on Hezbollah targets at the Israeli-Lebanese border on July 18, 2006. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“A massive campaign by Israel will do enormous damage to [Damascus and its backers’] achievements, perhaps even destabilizing the regime itself,” the report noted.

According to Zalzberg, this is not a desirable situation for Russia, as Moscow would like to see Assad regain near-total control over Syria.

The analyst noted that this is at odds with Iran, which wants to see Assad in power, but does not necessarily want to see him becoming too powerful, preferring instead to have Syria controlled by a coalition, similar to Lebanon, so that its Shiite militias could play a more significant role in the country.

Russia and only Russia

Moscow’s active support for Assad and his other main supporters, Iran and Hezbollah, has left Israeli officials decidedly wary of their Russian counterparts.

The Crisis Group report quotes an unnamed Israeli Foreign Ministry official as saying of the Russians, “It’s hard to trust them. They tell us they are not selling weapons to Hezbollah, but we know for a fact that they do. Their policies are cynical. They are not an enticing mediator.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an event marking International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, January 29, 2018. (Vasily MAXIMOV/AFP)

Yet there is an understanding among some in Israel that, while not enticing, Russia is the only mediator that has significant leverage over Iran and Hezbollah.

Israel has already had to maintain a close, if uneasy, relationship with Moscow due to its involvement in the region.

After Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jets that had invaded its airspace, Moscow installed an S-400 missile defense system in Syria. With the system, one of the world’s most advanced anti-aircraft batteries, Russia can monitor the overwhelming majority of Israel’s active airspace, including Israeli military flights.

Or, as one Israeli official told the Crisis Group, “A fly can’t buzz above Syria without Russian consent nowadays.”

This came as a shocking blow to the Israeli Air Force, which had, until then, enjoyed aerial superiority in the region, and required Jerusalem and Moscow to set up a hotline to prevent any potential conflicts between the two militaries.

Israel has also worked diplomatically with Russia to secure a buffer zone around the southwestern Syrian border, in which Hezbollah and other Iran-backed Shiite militias would not be allowed to maintain a presence.

In this photo released on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces stand next to a bus which is waiting to evacuate Syrian rebels and their families from Beit Jinn village, in the southern province of Daraa, Syria. (SANA via AP)

The border area has naturally been of significant concern for Israel, which is loath to see Hezbollah set up military positions along the Golan Heights to join the significant infrastructure it has already put in place in southern Lebanon.

Last month, the Syrian military, with some assistance from Shiite militias, regained control over the area of Beit Jinn, or Beit Jann, which is located just 13 kilometers (8 miles) from Israel’s Mount Hermon ski resort.

Though it is currently focused on retaking the area of Idlib in northwestern Syria, this coalition is likely to soon focus its attention on the Quneitra and Daraa regions, near the Israeli border.

Though Israel secured its buffer zone for that area this summer, the Crisis Group report notes that it would be relatively easy for these groups to get around the restriction, “for instance by integrating the fighters into the Syrian army or simply having them don its uniforms.”

The advocacy group argues that before the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis moves toward the southwest, Russia should work to negotiate an agreement between it and Israel.

There is still time for Russia to try to broker a set of understandings to prevent a confrontation, protecting both its investment in the regime and Syrian, Israeli and Lebanese lives

The Crisis Group notes that Israel’s insistence that Iranian and Iran-backed troops stay out of southern Syria will be the most difficult to negotiate, as Hezbollah and the Shiite militias would not be inclined to accept it and could easily cheat by disguising themselves as Syrians.

However, the authors say this could be resolved by getting Russia to agree to prevent Iran from setting up the types of infrastructure most concerning to Israel, like a seaport through which the Islamic Republic could carry out attacks against Israeli natural gas fields, an airport to transport weapons to Hezbollah, or a factory for the production of precise missiles.

“There is still time for Russia to try to broker a set of understandings to prevent a confrontation, protecting both its investment in the regime and Syrian, Israeli and Lebanese lives,” the Crisis Group wrote.

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South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon Is Being Played For A Fool!!!

 

 

As most folks know, the Winter Olympics are being staged in South Korea right now. South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon appears to be being ‘played’ for a fool by the Kim family of North Korea during these games. There is a small athletic delegation from the North that are participating as we speak. Among the non-athletes of the North’s delegation is the sister of Kim Jung Un, the mass murdering vicious Dictator self-proclaimed ‘Living God’. The out of touch with reality President of South Korea has welcomed the visitors from the North with open arms. Personally I do not have a problem with allowing the athletics from the North to participate, but it should be under their own flag. Mr. Moon decided that instead of South Korean athletics and the Country of South Korea using the South Korean Flag they are using a ‘unification’ flag and allowing the North Koreans to participate as part of a ‘one Korea’ team. Thus many athletics from the South who have spent many years working their selves half to death to make their Country’s Olympic Team got ‘bumped’ off the team so the unqualified North members could take their place. I say unqualified because to become a member of a country’s team you must have gone through many different qualifying events and either winning them or placing very, very high in those contest. The North’s athletics did none of these things, they were just handed the spots by the insistence of the South Korean President. Now if in team events ‘South Korea’ is able to win a metal, North Koreans also get that metal to take back home for Kim Jung Un to brag about.

 

Enough of the Olympic’s part of this article, now down to the meat of what I am writing to you about tonight. Kim Jung Un’s sister at the direction of her brother has offered President Moon an invitation to visit him in North Korea. The North Korean delegation has been putting on what has been widely referred to as a ‘charm’ campaign this past two months. Mr. Kim of North Korea has widely made it known that he wants the two Korea’s to be ‘unified’, yet the unification is to be under his command with himself as the one and only Leader of the Korean Peninsula. Folks, this is something that the extreme majority of the citizens of South Korea do not want to ever see happen.

 

What is going on is very obvious. The UN has put a lot of sanctions on the Kim government because of their missile program and the firing of ICBM’s as well as their Nuclear Program that Mr. Kim says he will never ever give up. A ‘show’ of Mr. Kim’s intentions was obvious when the North Koreans asked the South Korean government to give them the fuel that would be needed for the ship the North Korean delegation was going to use to make the very, very short trip to the South. Kim is playing the poor, poor pitiful me song and dance trying to get pity from the South Koreans and from the UN. For years the people of North Korea have been starving to death as the very fat Kim Jung Un who just keeps getting fatter and fatter himself. If Kim Jung Un can get the very liberal President Moon to start sending food and oil to the North, that would be a huge win for Mr. Kim. If Mr. Kim can convince the very liberal and gullible President Moon to break the UN sanctions all together, then Russia and China would do the same. What if Mr. Kim can play sweet toward Mr. Moon and could convince him to throw the American military forces out of South Korea and to quit doing military exercises with the U.S. and to quit allowing U.S. ships to use South Korean Ports. It is obvious that the next thing would be the North Korean Army storming the South Korean’s thus unifying the Peninsula under Mr. Kim’s control. Of course this is if Mr. Kim cannot convince President Moon to do this voluntarily. Let’s all give this ongoing situation about  100 days, lets say until June 1st to see how this all shakes out. Another option of course would be if Mr. Kim gets President Moon up North and lets him know if the two Countries do not unite as one that he (Mr. Kim) will nuke the South ‘off the map’. Lets see what the History Books will be saying about this next 100 days. As a very dear old friend of mine used to say, “we shall see, what we shall see”.

Syria shoots down Israeli warplane as conflict escalates

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

(The Devil is in Tehran, His name is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the un-elected Dictator who calls himself the ‘Supreme Leader’)(trs) 

Syria shoots down Israeli warplane as conflict escalates

Crash site of an Israeli F-16 jet in northern Israel. Photo: 10 February 2018Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe Israeli F-16 jet crashed near a village in northern Israel

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet has crashed after being hit by Syrian air defences during an offensive in Syria, the Israeli military says.

The two pilots parachuted to safety before the crash in northern Israel. It is believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in the Syrian conflict.

The plane was hit during air strikes in response to an Iranian drone launch into Israeli territory, Israel says.

The drone was shot down. Israel later launched further strikes in Syria.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say they hit aerial defence batteries and Iranian military sites in the latest strikes.

Israeli air strikes in Syria are not unusual, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman says, but the loss of an Israeli fighter jet marks a serious escalation.

In other developments in the Syrian conflict on Saturday:

  • A Turkish helicopter was shot down as the country continued its offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. Two soldiers on board were killed, the Turkish military says
  • UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the past week was one of the bloodiest in Syria since the conflict began in 2011 – with at least 277 civilian deaths reported

How did events unfold on Saturday morning?

The Israeli military says a “combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel”.

It tweeted footage which it says shows the drone flying into Israeli territory before being hit.

In a further response, the IDF “targeted Iranian targets in Syria”, according to the military. The mission deep inside Syrian territory was successfully completed, it said.

After coming under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the F-16’s two crew members ejected and were later taken to hospital. One of them was “severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation”, the IDF said.

It is the first time Israel has lost an aircraft in combat since 2006 when an Israeli helicopter was shot down over Lebanon by a Hezbollah rocket, the Jerusalem Post reports.

All five crew on board – including a female flight mechanic – were killed in that incident.

Anti-aircraft effects over the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights. Photo: 10 February 20218Image copyrightEPA
Image captionAnti-aircraft fire smoke over the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights

Alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights because of Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria.

An Israeli F-16 takes off. File photoImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe fighter jet was carrying out strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, the Israelis say (file picture)

Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country’s air defences had opened fire in response to Israeli “aggression” against a military base on Saturday, hitting “more than one plane”.

What did Israel do next?

Israel launched its second wave of strikes in Syria. Eight of the Syrian targets belonged to the fourth Syrian division near Damascus, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

All the Israeli aircraft from this sortie returned safely.

“Syrians are playing with fire when they allow Iranians to attack Israel,” the spokesman warned.

He added that Israel was willing to exact a heavy price in response but was “are not looking to escalate the situation”.

Meanwhile Iran and the Tehran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon – which are allied with the Syrian government – dismissed reports that an Iranian drone had entered Israeli airspace as a “lie”.

Russia expressed “serious concern” over the Israeli air strikes and called for all sides to show restraint.

What is the Iranian presence in Syria?

Iran is Israel’s arch-enemy, and Iranian troops have been fighting rebel groups since 2011.

Tehran has sent military advisers, volunteer militias and, reportedly, hundreds of fighters from its Quds Force, the overseas arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

It is also believed to have supplied thousands of tonnes of weaponry and munitions to help President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, which is fighting on Syria’s side.

Tehran has faced accusations that it is seeking to establish not just an arc of influence but a logistical land supply line from Iran through to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Presentational grey line

A powerful new element

Analysis by BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus

For years Israel has been striking at weapons stores and other facilities in Syria with a single goal – to disrupt and, as far as possible, to prevent advanced Iranian missiles being delivered to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Syria has often been the conduit for these shipments, but the changing balance of power there, with the Assad regime’s survival bolstered by Iranian help, has introduced a powerful new element – a direct Iranian role in the crisis.

A more confident Iran is alleged by Israel to be setting up bases in Syria(whether for its own or its proxy Shia Muslim militia forces is unclear).

But it is also alleged to be developing missile factories, both there and in Lebanon, to make the supply lines to Hezbollah less vulnerable.

Israel’s campaign to disrupt missile supplies is becoming ever more complex.

And Iran risks becoming a direct actor in this conflict, ever closer to Israel’s own borders.

map
Presentational grey line

Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, says top U.S. official

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

(IT IS SIMPLE REALLY, ALL RUSSIA HAD TO DO WAS TO INFECT A FEW OF THE STATES THAT TRUMP WAS EXPECTED TO BE SOMEWHAT CLOSE IN THE VOTE TOTALS AND FLIP THE TOTALS, GIVING TRUMP THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE, AND THE WIN THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DID NOT GIVE HIM, TIME IS GOING TO PROVE THIS CORRECT!)

Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, says top U.S. official

The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn’t talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”

Jeh Johnson, who was DHS secretary during the Russian intrusions, said, “2016 was a wake-up call and now it’s incumbent upon states and the Feds to do something about it before our democracy is attacked again.”

Play

 DHS cybersecurity head: ‘No doubt’ Russians penetrated voter registration systems 0:26

Watch Cynthia McFadden on Nightly News tonight for more

“We were able to determine that the scanning and probing of voter registration databases was coming from the Russian government.”

NBC News reported in Sept. 2016 that more than 20 states had been targeted by the Russians.

There is no evidence that any of the registration rolls were altered in any fashion, according to U.S. officials.

In a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, 79 percent of the respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned that the country’s voting system might be vulnerable to computer hackers.

Image: Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanette Manfra testifies

Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanette Manfra testifies during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on June 21, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Wong / Getty Images file

In January 2017, just weeks before leaving his post, Johnson declared the nation’s electoral systems part of the nation’s federally protected “critical infrastructure,” a designation that applies to entities like the power grid that could be attacked. It made protecting the electoral systems an official duty of DHS.

But Johnson told NBC News he is now worried that since the 2016 election a lot of states have done little to nothing “to actually harden their cybersecurity.”

Manfra said she didn’t agree with Johnson’s assessment. “I would say they have all taken it seriously.”

Play

 DHS cybersecurity head: ‘No doubt’ Russians penetrated voter registration systems 0:26

NBC News reached out to the 21 states that were targeted. Five states, including Texas and California, said they were never attacked.

Manfra said she stands by the list, but also called it a “snapshot in time with the visibility that the department had at that time.”

Image: Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson prepares to testify

Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, on June 30, 2016 in Washington. Allison Shelley / Getty Images file

Many of the states complained the federal government did not provide specific threat details, saying that information was classified and state officials did not have proper clearances. Manfra told us those clearances are now being processed

Other states that NBC contacted said they were still waiting for cybersecurity help from the federal government. Manfra said there was no waiting list and that DHS will get to everyone.

Some state officials had opposed Johnson’s designation of electoral systems as critical infrastructure, viewing it a federal intrusion. Johnson said that any state officials who don’t believe the federal government should be providing help are being “naive” and “irresponsible to the people that [they’re] supposed to serve.”

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