International

Get Ready for War: Israel Shoots Down Iranian Drone

Over the weekend, an Iranian drone was piloted directly toward the Israeli border prompting the IDF to send an Apache helicopter to intercept it.

As soon as the drone crossed the border, the Apache fired and brought the drone to the ground.

That would’ve been a dog-bites-man story, except Israel then launched F-16s to take out the Syrian command center from which the drone was being piloted.

Then on their way back to Israel, Syrian anti-aircraft shot down one of the F-16s, forcing the pilot to eject.

It’s one of the worst military exchanges between the two nations since the Syrian civil war began.

The question now is whether Israel will respond.

If it escalates, the Trump administration will almost certainly become involved.

Here’s more from Hot Air…

Israel says an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace early Saturday. The drone was tracked by an Apache helicopter and shot down. From the Jerusalem Post:

Early on Saturday morning, an Iranian drone, which was launched from a Syrian base in the Homs desert, was identified approaching Israeli airspace by the IDF around 4 a.m., setting off alarms across Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley. The drone entered Israel via Jordanian airspace and flew for a minute and a half before it was intercepted by an Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter near the town of Beit She’an.

“We waited for it to cross into our territory,” said IAF chief of air staff Brigadier General Tomer Bar who stressed that it was important for Israel “to get our hands on the drone that was operated by the Iranians.”

After the drone went down, Israel sent jets into Syria and blew up the command center located at an airbase near Palmyra. Israel released this video of the drone being shot down and the command center strike:

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International

Report: CIA Paid Six Figures to Russian Spy for Trump Dirt

According to a New York Times story, early last year — after the inauguration of President Trump — CIA agents began negotiating with Russians to purchase dirt on the president.

The story details an agency eagerly pursuing the clandestine deal for months on end before finally reaching an agreement in which agents paid six-figures for the files.

Among those files were claims and reports similar to those contained in the infamous Steele dossier and a video which purported to show Trump in Moscow with a couple ladies of, shall we say, disrepute.

So it’s yet another question in need of an answer: why are U.S. intelligence agents hunting for dirt on their boss?

Here’s more from Daily Caller…

The CIA paid $100,000 last year to a Russian operative who claimed to have derogatory information about President Trump, including a video tape of the Republican engaged with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.

If the video showed Trump, it would support claims made in the infamous Steele dossier, the salacious opposition research report financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.

But U.S. intelligence officials have reason to doubt the veracity of the video and other information about Trump associates provided by the Russian, according to a fascinating report from The New York Times.

American spies made contact with the Russian early in 2017 after he offered to sell the Trump material along with cyber hacking tools that were stolen from the National Security Agency that year, according to The Times.

U.S. intelligence officials told The Times they were so desperate to retrieve those tools that they negotiated with the operative for months despite several red flags, including indications that he was working in concert with Russian intelligence.

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International, States

DHS Security Chief: Russia Hacked Into US Voter Systems

While the nation is distracted with multiple Russia-laced scandals whether in the collusion investigation or the FISA debacle or Uranium One, one actual Russia scandal has gone unreported…until now.

According to Department of Homeland Security official Jeanette Manfra, who heads the DHS Cyber Security Division, Russia attempted to hack into the voter registration systems of at least 21 states during the 2016 election cycle.

Forensics were able to demonstrate a small number of successes that traced back to the Russian government.

Though it did not effect actual votes cast, it does demonstrate the extreme efforts of Putin’s regime to influence US elections.

Here’s more from Hotair…

Did the Russian government attempt to hack into voting systems in the last election? “No doubt,” Jeanette Manfra tells NBC’s Cynthia McFadden, warning that some information in the probe remains classified. However, the targeted systems did not have anything to do with ballots or counting, and the success was “exceptionally small,” the DHS cybersecurity chief says:

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.” …

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

 

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Big govt, International

Russians Bragged About Hillary’s Influence on Uranium Deal

An FBI informant working for years with the FBI to monitor Russian criminal activity just testified before the Senate Judiciary, House Intelligence and House Oversight Committees on Wednesday…for four hours.

And in his testimony, he revealed numerous times that the Russians often bragged about how then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was securing the CIFIUS approval for the Uranium One deal which gave Russia 20% control over U.S. uranium.

And recall that that influence was secured with cash to the Clinton Foundation.

Lots of cash, as in seven figures, not counting the half million honorarium Slick Willy got for a speech.

Did the FBI do anything with that intel? Obviously not.

Here’s more from Redstate…

There is new information that Russian cash funneled to the Clintons helped secure a key deal for a corrupt Russian-owned nuclear company. Sara Carter:

An informant who spent years gathering information on the Russian energy and uranium market industry for the FBI, met staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight, and House Intelligence Committees on Wednesday. He gave explosive testimony on his years as an undercover informant providing information to the FBI on Russian criminal networks operating in the United States. He also contends in his testimony, and written briefs, to the FBI that Russia attempted to hide its ongoing aid to help sustain Iran’s nuclear industry, at the time the Obama administration approved the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium mining rights to Russia.

The informant, William D. Campbell, is represented by that perennial TV talking head Victoria Toensing, who had this to say about his appearance yesterday:

Mr. Campbell testified for over four hours until he answered every question from three Congressional committees; the Senate Judiciary, House Oversight and House Intelligence committees.

He recounted numerous times that the Russians bragged that the Clintons’ influence in the Obama administration would ensure CIFIUS approval for Uranium One. And he was right.

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International

Oops: Fitness Trackers Reveal Location of US Bases

Discovered by accident after a college looked at maps around the globe, the fitness paths of US military personnel were discovered to available on the Internet.

Popular trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone have been actively promoted by the Pentagon in a program to fight obesity among service members.

The problem is those trackers upload daily jogging routes and activity to the Internet. Though names are not revealed, the existence of US personnel around the world is.

And in some cases, those routes can easily verify the existence of secret US operations as well as patrol routes and schedules.

This is a major security fail for the DOD, which is actively trying to prevent another Snowden event.

Here’s more from Chicago Tribune…

An interactive map posted on the internet that shows the whereabouts of people who use fitness devices such as Fitbit also reveals highly sensitive information about the location and activities of soldiers at U.S. military bases, in what appears to be a major security oversight.

The Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the location and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity.

Strava says it has 27 million users around the world, including people who own widely available fitness devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Vitofit, as well as people who directly subscribe to its mobile phone application. The map is not live — rather it shows a pattern of accumulated activity between 2015 and September last year.

Most parts of the United States and Europe, where millions of people use some form of fitness tracker, show up on the map as a blaze of light, because there is so much activity.

In warzones and deserts such as Iraq and Syria, the heatmap becomes almost entirely dark — except for a few scattered pinpricks of activity. Zooming in on those brings into focus the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as of other unknown and potentially sensitive sites — presumably because U.S. soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around.

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International

Report: Harassment and Assault Rampant at the UN

Color us very unsurprised to read a story by the Guardian with a bombshell and very detailed report of rampant harassment and assault of female employees at the United Nations.

Apparently, it’s at epidemic levels that would make Congress blush.

The Guardian interviewed 15 women who had reported incidents, which ranged from lewd comments to outright rape.

All lost their jobs or were threatened with the loss of their jobs for reporting anything.

The problem centers on the fact that these incidents often occur away from their home country where there’s no jurisdiction to prosecute.

And most high ranking UN officials have diplomatic immunity, which amounts to a blank check to do whatever they want.

So, again, why are we still funding this cancer on the world politic?

Here’s more from Hotair…

Now we know what the UN is doing when it’s not passing resolutions to condemn Israel or sending peacekeepers around the world to molest local children. According to a report at the Guardian Thursday, the staff at the UN experience frequent sexual harassment and assault, including rape.

Of the employees interviewed, 15 said they had experienced or reported sexual harassment or assault within the past five years. The alleged offences ranged from verbal harassment to rape…

Three women who reported sexual harassment or sexual assault, all from different offices, said they had since been forced out of their jobs or threatened with the termination of their contract in the past year. The alleged perpetrators, who include a senior UN official, remain in their posts.

One of the women, who alleges she was raped by a more senior UN staff member while working in a remote location, said: “There are no other options to get justice, and I have lost my job too.”

She said that despite medical evidence and witness testimonies, an internal investigation by the UN found insufficient evidence to support her allegation. Along with her job, she says she has lost her visa and has spent months in hospital due to stress and trauma. She fears she will face persecution if she returns to her home country…

One aid worker, who claims she was harassed by a senior UN employee, said she has little hope of justice. “Even when you summon your courage to complain and you exhaust all the internal mechanisms, like I did, all the resources, all the processes, there’s nothing for you,” she said. “They mobilise friends, colleagues against you. I had threats, sent through friends, that ‘She will never set foot in this office again.’”

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International, Politics

Dominoes: DOJ Files First Charges in Uranium One Scandal

The wall of separation between us and the truth is beginning to crumble this week as the DOJ has filed the first of probably many charges involving the Uranium One scandal.

Recall that the Clinton Department of State approved the sale of a uranium company to Russia which included 20% control over US uranium.

The charges filed this week are the result of the DOJ’s investigation into Mark Lambert of Maryland who reportedly bribed Russian officials in connection with the front-company for the firm that purchased Uranium One.

Lambert’s connections with the Clintons’ role in Uranium One and the donations to the Clinton Foundation are fairly obvious.

If Lambert seeks a plea deal, that wall could come tumbling down very quickly.

Here’s more from Hotair…

Friday a Maryland businessman allegedly involved in an attempt to bribe Russian officials in the Uranium business was charged with 11-counts of fraud and bribery. Reuters reports:

U.S. prosecutors unsealed money laundering, foreign bribery and wire fraud charges against Mark Lambert, 54, in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Friday…

The charges are the latest chapter in a sprawling federal investigation into corruption involved in Russia’s sale of uranium into the United States.

The uranium investigation drew increased public attention last year after an informant involved in the probe claimed to have evidence tying the former Obama Administration to Russian influence peddling, a charge former administration officials have denied.

A DOJ press release offers some of the details of what Lambert allegedly did, including the code words he used as part of the fraud:

According to the indictment, beginning at least as early as 2009 and continuing until October 2014, Lambert conspired with others at “Transportation Corporation A” to make corrupt and fraudulent bribery and kickback payments to offshore bank accounts associated with shell companies, at the direction of, and for the benefit of, a Russian official, Vadim Mikerin, in order to secure improper business advantages and obtain and retain business with TENEX….Lambert and others allegedly caused fake invoices to be prepared, purportedly from TENEX to Transportation Corporation A, that described services that were never provided, and then Lambert and others caused Transportation Corporation A to wire the corrupt payments for those purported services to shell companies in Latvia, Cyprus and Switzerland.  Lambert and others also allegedly used code words like “lucky figures,” “LF,” “lucky numbers,” and “cake” to describe the payments in emails to the Russian official at his personal email account.

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International, Politics

Smackdown: US Freezes Nine Figures in Aid to Palestine

President Trump and Nikki Haley weren’t kidding when they threatened to ‘take names’ of those nations voting against us.

On Friday, the administration announced it had frozen $125 million in aid money to the United Nations designated for Palestinian refugees.

That amount is a third of the UN’s total budget for the Relief and Works Agency.

According to Reuters, the freeze of funds comes on the condition of a pending ‘review of aid to the Palestinian Authority’.

This move is also in full recognition of the fact that the PA directly pays terrorists a salary for coordinating attacks against Jews in Israel.

It’s about time we cut off the Palestinians’ red-carpeted walk to the US gravy train.

Here’s more from Hotair…

We can clearly see that Nikki Haley was not kidding when she said she’d remember those who voted to condemn the U.S. after President Trump made his Israel decision.

According to Reuters, the United States has frozen $125 million in aid to Palestinian refugees pending a review of the aid to the Palestinian Authority:

The United States has frozen $125 million in funding for a U.N. agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees, Axios news site reported on Friday, days after President Donald Trump threatened to withhold future aid payments to Palestinians.

The funding, a third of the annual U.S. donation to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, was supposed to be delivered by Jan. 1 but was frozen until the U.S. government finishes its review of aid to the Palestinian Authority, Axios reported, citing three unidentified Western diplomats.

This comes after Trump said that if Palestine is “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel, then he would break their bank.

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International, Politics

Nikki Haley to Palestinians: We’re Shutting the Spigot

The second shoe to drop in the ‘Trump Takes the UN’ saga demonstrated in the opening days of the year that the prospect of defunding our ‘frenemies’ isn’t just rhetoric.

Via an address at the UN from Nikki Haley, the administration warned leaders at the Palestinian Authority that they’d better play ball in peace negotiations with Israel or else.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to cut off peace talks after the Trump administration announced the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

That’s when Haley made clear that US aid to the PA, via the UN, would come to an abrupt end should Abbas follow through.

How much money are we talking about? A third of a billion greenbacks, which represents more than 80% of the UN’s aid to the PA.

Yuge.

Here’s more from Redstate…

On New Years Day, Donald Trump let the Pakistanis know the ATM was out-of-order. Yesterday afternoon, he let the Palestinians know their victim card was maxed out.

Actually, it is even worse. The majority of our aid goes through the UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency). This agency funds Antisemitism and anti-Israel propaganda in Gaza and the West Bank. Much like the Clinton Foundation and other leftist foundations serve as a farm team/sinecure for Democrat operatives, the UNRWA is a training ground for terrorism (see my post).

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International

Revolution in the Air: Death Toll Rises in Iran

Less than a year ago, Russia was on a roll toward dominating the Middle East after President Obama’s failed ‘redline’ strategy.

Soon after that failure, the Kremlin asserted its influence in Iran and Syria, pushing back against American control in the region.

Fast-forward to day one of 2018 under Trump: Syria dares not make a move for fear of an American response, Russia has agreed to joint operations in and around the Middle East, and finally, Iran looks to be on the brink of revolution.

Reports have at least 10 dead among massive national protests with attempts at armed take-overs of police stations.

That’s a 180 turn of events in very a short time.

The question is whether Trump’s foreign policy can push Iran over the edge and fully re-establish American control of the region.

We may know the answer within days. Stay tuned.

Here’s more from Hotair…

After nearly a week of protests, unrest in Iran continues to build — and it’s starting to look like an armed conflict. The regime in Tehran now acknowledges ten deaths in clashes with security forces, claiming to have “repelled” attempts to seize police stations and military bases. The violence will likely give the mullahs a pretext to unleash its forces on dissidents, but a tipping point may be reached where it will no longer suffice:

At least 10 people have been killed in nationwide protests in Iran over the past five days, Iranian state television said Monday, a day after President Hassan Rouhani appealed for calm and urged demonstrators to refrain from violence.

State television said security forces had repelled “armed protesters” who tried to take over police stations and military bases, the Associated Press reported. It was unclear where the alleged attacks took place, though some videos circulating online have showed protesters in violent confrontations with police. Ten people were killed Sunday alone, the state broadcaster said.

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