KABOOM! Russian Drone With Thermite Grenade Blows Up a Billion Dollars of Ammo

Kaboom! Russian Drone With Thermite Grenade Blows Up a Billion Dollars of Ukrainian Ammo (Source Popular Mechanics)
A drone carrying a grenade infiltrated an ammunition dump in Ukraine, setting off an explosion that caused an astounding billion dollars worth of damage. The incident points to the growing use of drones in wartime, particularly off the shelf civilian products harnessed to conduct sabotage and other attacks. Ukraine’s domestic intelligence service, the SBU, believes that a drone carrying a Russian thermite hand grenade caused a series of titanic explosions at Balakliya, a military base in Eastern Ukraine. Amateur video of the incident posted on YouTube shows a raging fire spewing out of control artillery rockets, and an explosion and shockwave that sent civilians nearby reeling. One person was killed in the attack and five were injured. The drone is believed to have carried a  ZMG-1 thermite grenade. “http://www.instructables.com/id/Thermite/” Thermite, a combination of iron oxide (rust) and aluminum powder. The stuff burns extremely hot and easily could have gotten through wooden crates to detonate the munitions inside. The ammo dump is just 60 miles from the Russian/Ukrainian border, where fighting recently took place.

Hypothetically speaking, U.S. Admiral says ready for nuclear strike on China

Hypothetically speaking, U.S. Admiral says ready for nuclear strike on China if Trump so ordered (Source Reuters)
The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, addressing a security conference in Australia, said in answer to a question on Thursday that he would be prepared to launch a nuclear strike on China if President Donald Trump so ordered. The fleet spokesman later said the question was asked as an “outrageous hypothetical”. Admiral Scott Swift was speaking at the Australian National University in Canberra when he was asked whether he would be prepared to launch a nuclear attack on China if ordered to do so by Trump. “The answer would be yes,” he said. Swift said that all members of the U.S. military had sworn an oath to obey officers and the U.S. president as commander in chief to defend the constitution. “This is core to the American democracy,” he said, in a recording of the event obtained by Reuters.
“Any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus, and an allegiance, to civilian control, then we really have significant problems.” Swift’s answer reaffirmed the principle of civilian control over the military and was based on an “outrageous hypothetical” in the question, Pacific Fleet spokesman Captain Charlie Brown told Reuters. “Frankly, the premise of the question was ridiculous,” he said. “It was posed as an outrageous hypothetical, but the admiral simply took it as an opportunity to say the fact is that we have civilian control of the military and we abide by that principle.”
Speaking in Beijing on Friday, a spokesman of China’s Foreign Ministry also downplayed the remark. “Many people have paid attention to this but the spokesman for the Pacific Fleet has pointed out the ridiculousness of this report,” Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.


U.S. Ally Iraq turns to Russia for Military Support, Oil Deals and Nation Building

Iraq’s vice president has reached out to Russia during a high-profile visit, saying he seeks closer ties with Moscow after 14 consecutive years of U.S. military intervention in his country.
During a visit to Moscow, Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki told Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Baghdad may be “prone to new political developments in light of regional interferences” and to avoid a “foreign political entity” from forcing its agenda, according to Kurdish media outlet” Rudaw. Since overthrowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and installing a new government in 2003, the U.S. has played a major role in the country’s internal affairs,  maliki-government-seriously-compromised-cia-operations-iraq-years-256353″ something Maliki has fought in the past. As Russia asserts its own influence in neighboring Syria, Maliki reportedly seeks to play Moscow’s economic, political and military power against Washington’s in Iraq. “Historically, Russia has close relations with Iraq. That is why we would like to see Russia’s visible presence in our country, both in terms of politics and defense,” Maliki said following a meeting with Russian upper house of parliament speaker Valentina Matviyenko, according to the state-run  HYPERLINK “http://tass.com/world/957581” \t “_blank” Tass Russian news agency. “It would create [the] balance the region, its nations and countries need.

Kremlin warns US against supporting Ukraine with weapons

Kremlin warns US against supporting Ukraine with weapons (Source New York Post) Any U.S. decision to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons would set back peace efforts and escalate tensions, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The Kremlin was referring to an interview given by U.S. special envoy on Ukraine, Kurt Volker, to Britain’s broadcaster BBC, in which he said that Washington was actively reviewing whether to send weapons to help those fighting against Russian-backed rebels. The Kremlin said a possible delivery of U.S. weapons to Ukraine could destabilize the situation along the frontline in the east of the country. “We have already said more than once that any action which escalates tension … and further aggravates the already complicated situation will only move us further and further away from the moment of settling this internal issue of Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.


“While All Eyes Are On The Middle East

“While All Eyes Are On The Middle East, All Is Not Quiet On The Pacific Front” While All Eyes Are On The Middle East, All Is Not Quiet On The Pacific Front (Source thefederalist.com) Foreign policy news these days is dominated by the Russia investigation, the Afghanistan war, or the demise of the Islamic State and the deteriorating civil war in Syria. Far less attention is given, however, to a much more consequential development: the rise of China as a global superpower. But make no mistake, Beijing has its eyes squarely fixed on this goal, and its recent actions clearly indicate that. On Sunday, two Chinese fighter jets intercept-us-navy-plane/index.html” intercepted a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane that was flying over the East China Sea (ECS). According to Pentagon spokesman, one of the Chinese jets rapidly approached the U.S. plane then flew directly in front of it—within 300 feet—triggering a collision alarm system. This kind of provocation on China’s part has, until recently, been a rare occurrence. In May, there were two similar incidents, one in the airspace over the South China Sea (SCS) and the other over the East China Sea. The East China Sea, which stretches between China and Japan and is claimed by both, has gotten less coverage because China has not built the kind of military installations or man-made islands there as it has in the SCS. The ECS is currently controlled by Japan, but in the past few years China has increased its naval patrols of islands in those waters. China has continued to call U.S. surveillance planes flying over the SCS and ECS “provocations” and  HYPERLINK “http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/china-says-intercepting-us-surveillance-plane-was-legal-and-necessary/story-s0Ad1jeezBVPDwOctsg0NM.html” said the interception on Sunday was “legal and necessary.” But that airspace, just like the waters beneath it, is international. It is entirely within any country’s purview to fly and sail through them. Indeed, some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes run through parts of the SCS that Beijing claims belong to China. China’s insistence that U.S. surveillance flights constitute provocations is an attempt by Beijing to treat its assertion of sovereignty in the region as a fait accompli. If China can establish control of its man-made islands, including the installation of military equipment, runways, airbases, civilian residents, and now  HYPERLINK “http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/23/asia-pacific/china-opens-movie-theater-disputed-island-south-china-sea/” \l “.WXZsYzOZNmA” a movie theater, it can force other nations to recognize that this is the new normal. The South China Sea isn’t the only venue in which China is increasing its activities. Last week, Beijing held the country’s  HYPERLINK “http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/20/asia/china-navy-expansion-baltic-russia-drills/index.html” first-ever joint naval drills with Russia in the Baltic Sea, of all places, leaving observers wondering the purpose of the week-long war game in which one of China’s most advanced missile-guided destroyers participated. Moscow has lately been making a lot of trouble in the Baltic Sea, causing NATO allies and countries like Finland to  HYPERLINK “https://www.wsj.com/articles/beneath-helsinki-finns-prepare-for-russian-threat-1500024602” prepare for a possible invasion, and China now seems to want a piece of the action.
China also established its  HYPERLINK “http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/12/asia/china-djibouti-military-base/index.html” first overseas military base, conveniently located in Djibouti, near a valuable global shipping lane and just four miles from a U.S. installation. In addition, Chinese warships have been  HYPERLINK “https://qz.com/1036691/the-double-standard-of-chinese-spy-ships-and-coast-guard-vessels-operating-in-foreign-waters-australia-japan-alaska/” popping up all over the globe, including near Alaska, Japan, and Australia. While their movement thus far has been through international waters, and therefore not in violation of any international law, it is a clear sign of China’s desire to be taken seriously as a global military power.


U.S. Military Establishment Study Admits The American Empire Is Collapsing

US Military Establishment Study Admits The American Empire Is “Collapsing” (Source Zero Hedge)
A new  study conducted by members of the U.S. military establishment has concluded that the U.S.-led international global order established after World War II is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing” as the U.S. continues to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs. “In brief, the status quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing,” the report states. The report, published in June by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, evaluated the Department of Defense’s (DOD) approach to risk assessment at all levels of Pentagon policy planning. The study was supported and sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate; the Joint Staff, J5 (Strategy and Policy Branch); the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development; and the Army Study Program Management Office. It is notable that the report does not list Iran and North Korea as nuclear threats — as traditional  rogue-states-like-iran-face-tougher-action-us-says-nuclear-attack neoconservative propaganda often asserts — but simply as perceived threats to the American-led world order.
The report also found that the international framework has been restructured in ways that are “inhospitable” and often “hostile” to U.S. leadership. For example, “proliferation, diversification, and atomization of effective counter-U.S. resistance,” as well as “resurgent but transformed great power competition” are seen to be at the heart of this new international restructuring. According to the report, the U.S. is not prepared for these circumstances, and the report seeks to provide the U.S. with guidance to deal with these emerging scenarios.
In all seriousness, hostility to the U.S. military did not develop in a vacuum – it is quite clearly the sheer arrogance of America’s leadership and its incessant meddling in foreign affairs that have created a number of adversaries who are  HYPERLINK “http://theantimedia.org/filipino-president-dares-cia/” \t “_blank” no longer willing to bow to American interests.

Russia, mulling expulsions, says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow

Russia, mulling expulsions, says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow (Source Reuters) Russia said that too many American spies operated in Moscow under diplomatic cover and said it might expel some of them to retaliate against the United States over Washington’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last year. The warning, delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reflects rising frustration in Moscow over the Trump administration’s refusal to hand back two Russian diplomatic compounds which were seized at the same time as some of Russia’s diplomats were sent home last year. Barack Obama, U.S. president at the time, ordered the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies in December, along with the seizure of the two diplomatic compounds, over what he said was the hacking of U.S. political groups during the 2016 presidential election, something Russia has flatly denied. President Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate immediately at the time, saying he would wait to see what the new administration of Donald Trump would do. Zakharova complained on Friday that U.S. officials were not issuing visas to Russian diplomats to allow Moscow to replace the expelled employees and get its embassy back up to full strength. “We have a way of responding,” she told a news briefing. “The number of staff at the U.S. embassy in Moscow exceeds the number of our embassy employees in Washington by a big margin. One of our options, apart from a tit-for-tat expulsion of Americans, would be to even out the numbers.”


Iceberg nearly twice the size of Rhode Island breaks off Antarctica

Iceberg nearly twice the size of Rhode Island breaks off Antarctica (Source Yahoo) A large portion of an ice shelf that was  HYPERLINK “https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/02/giant-antarctic-iceberg-hanging-by-a-thread-say-scientists” said to be “hanging by a thread” last month has broken off from the Antarctic mainland, creating one of the world’s largest icebergs, according to a Wednesday report by British Antarctic research group Project Midas. The iceberg, which is estimated to have separated from the Larsen C ice shelf between Monday and Wednesday, will be named A68. It weighs 1 trillion tons and contains twice the volume of water held in Lake Erie, the report said. It is measured at 5,800 square kilometers, making it nearly twice the size of Rhode Island. The ice shelf’s calving has been expected for some time. Project Midas wrote that it was “watching with bated breath” after the rift separating the iceberg from the main shelf  HYPERLINK “https://www.yahoo.com/news/massive-crack-antarctic-ice-shelf-grows-11-miles-6-days-potentially-creating-worlds-largest-iceberg-215808971.html” grew 11 miles in six days in late May. At the time, Adrian Luckman, lead investigator of Project Midas, wrote that the separation of the ice shelf would “fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.” The initial rift branched off several times, but only one iceberg can be seen at this time, Luckman  HYPERLINK “https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/12/giant-antarctic-iceberg-breaks-free-of-larsen-c-ice-shelf” told the Guardian.


A tiny detail from North Korea’s missile launch points to an even more dangerous

A tiny detail from North Korea’s missile launch points to an even more dangerous threat (Source Business Insider) North Korea demonstrated its ability to reach the continental US with a nuclear-capable ballistic missile on July 4, but close analysis of launch footage may point to another dangerous technological development. Unlike other North Korean missiles, the intercontinental-range Hwasong-14 missile uses a “shroud,” or a hollow cover instead of a more solid nosecone, researchers have discovered. ICBMs generally use shrouds if one is “planning on launching multiple reentry vehicles or added countermeasures,” David Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies told Business Insider. Shrouds usually indicate that a missile has multiple, independent reentry vehicles for a payload, according to Schermler. A missile with multiple nuclear warheads can not only do more damage to its target, but also pose a greater challenge for missile defenses. While Schmerler said there is “no indication” that North Korea has developed technology to miniaturize warheads such that it could fit multiple nukes in a single missile, it could have installed countermeasures in the shroud that would render US defenses all but useless.

U.S. THAAD missile defenses hit test target as North Korea tension rises

U.S. THAAD missile defenses hit test target as North Korea tension rises (Source Reuters) The United States said on Tuesday it shot down a simulated, incoming intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) similar to the ones being developed by countries like North Korea, in a new test of the nation’s THAAD missile defenses. Planned months ago, the U.S. missile defense test over the Pacific Ocean has gained significance after North Korea’s July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) heightened concerns about the threat from Pyongyang. The test was the first-ever of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system against an incoming IRBM, which experts say is a faster and more difficult target to hit than shorter-range missiles. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said the IRBM was designed to behave similarly to the kinds of missiles that could threaten the United States. “The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries,” the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement. The successful THAAD test adds to the credibility of the U.S. military’s missile defense program, which has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, including because of test delays and failures. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, noted in a May report that the Missile Defense Agency had not previously tested THAAD against an IRBM, despite having deployed the system to the island of Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, in 2013 amid concerns about North Korea’s missile program. That means that, until the latest test, the THAAD system had an unproven capability against IRBMs, missiles that have a range of between 1,800 and 3,100 miles (3,000 to 5,500 km). Guam is approximately 2,100 miles (3,400 km) from North Korea.
In order to hit the mainland United States, North Korea would need to fire an ICBM, which is defined as a missile with a range greater than 3,400 miles (5,500 km).