Trump gives CIA power to launch drone strikes

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“The CIA has reportedly been given the power by President Trump to launch drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

The new authority is a change in drone policy from the Obama administration, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing U.S. officials.

Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones to find suspected terrorists. But the military then launched the strikes.

That policy created more transparency, because the Pentagon is required to publicly report most airstrikes.

The CIA’s new authority, which was reportedly provided by Trump shortly after his inauguration, was used in February in a strike against a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.”

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/323808-trump-gives-cia-power-to-launch-drone-strikes-report

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Russian MoD drone footage of aftermath from US missile strike on Syrian Army airbase

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Russian MoD DRONE FOOTAGE: Only 23 of 59 Tomahawk missiles reached the Syrian Airbase

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Credit to Russian MoD https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQGqX5Ndpm4snE0NTjyOJnA
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the US missile attack on a Syrian airbase had been prepared long ago.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia
© Sputnik/ Mikhail Klimentyev
Putin Considers US Attack in Syria Aggression Against Sovereign State – Kremlin
On Thursday night, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs. US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapon use in Syria’s Idlib on Tuesday, which Washington blames on the Syrian government.

Russia described the attack as an aggression against a sovereign state.

Following the US military action, Russia decided to suspend its memorandum of understanding on air safety over Syria with the United States, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“It is evident that the US cruise missile strikes against a Syrian airbase have been prepared long before today’s events. A large system of measures of reconnaissance, planning, preparation of flight tasks and bringing the missiles to launch readiness needs to be carried out to prepare such an attack,” ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

According to Konashenkov, the Idlib chemical attack “served only as a formal pretext, while the demonstration of military force took place exclusively due to internal political reasons. ”

A warplane which activists say belongs to the Russian forces flies in the sky over the southern countryside of Idlib, Syria October 2, 2015
© REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi
Russia Suspends Memorandum With US on Flight Safety in Syria – Foreign Ministry
The Russian Defense Ministry considers the US attack on a Syrian airfield in the Homs province a gross violation of a memorandum on the safety of flights over Syria. Thus, Russia has suspended the cooperation with the US aimed to avoid incidents in Syrian airspace.

“We assess such actions of the US side as a gross violations of the memorandum on incident prevention and ensuring security in operations in the Syrian airspace signed in 2015. The Russian Defense Ministry is suspending cooperation with the Pentagon within the framework of this memorandum,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

In this image from video provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017.
© AP Photo/ Ford Williams/U.S. Navy
Digging Up the Hatchet: Pentagon’s Massive Airstrike in Syria ‘Resembles Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya’
The Russian Defense Ministry said the US administrations come and go, while its policies remain the same since the bombings of Yugoslavia, wars in Iraq and Libya.

“The administrations of the United States are changing, but the methods of unleashing wars have remained the same since Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya. And again, the pretext of aggression is not an objective investigation, but allegations, fact manipulation, showing photos and pseudo-vials at international organizations,” Konashenkov said.

Only 23 missiles from US destroyers reached the targeted Syrian airfield, it is unclear where the other 36 landed, the ministry said.

“On April 7, at the time between 3:42 and 3:56 a.m. Moscow time [00:42-00:56 GMT] a massive missile attack by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles was carried out from two destroyers of the US Navy [Ross and Porter], from the Mediterranean Sea, near the island of Crete, targeting Syrian airfield Ash Sha’irat [Homs Province]. According to the Russian data recording technology, only 23 cruise missiles reached the Syrian airbase. It is not clear where the other 36 cruise missiles landed,” Konashenkov said at a briefing.

The spokesman stressed that the strike destroyed many facilities and equipment, including six planes.

Two Syrian servicemen are missing as a result of the US attack on an airfield in the country, while four were killed and six were injured extinguishing the flames, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Friday.

“According to the information of the leadership of the Syrian airbase, two Syrian servicemen went missing, four were killed and six received burn injuries during the firefighting,” he said.
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The Russian Defense Ministry said that the US missile attack on a Syrian airbase had been prepared long ago.
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Chinese team wins big in drone challenge

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The International Robotics Competition (MBZIRC), organized by the UAE, has awarded the Chinese team first place in the drone challenge on Saturday, receiving 350,000 US dollars in prize money for a score of 98.24. 

The robotics competition was held in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, with a cash prize totaling five million US dollars. This attracted 26 teams from 15 countries to participate in the game. The Chinese team joined for the first time and won, becoming a hot topic in the local media. 

Their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which successfully positioned and landed on a moving car was the one used by the Flying Eagle team from Beijing Institute of Technology. The UAV accomplished a series of actions, such as taking off, target positioning, and landing steadily, and the entire process was completed smoothly and consistently. 

This “smart” process requires an algorithm pre-set in advance, which is the most important scoring criteria at the competition, and the topic also coincides with the research direction of the Unmanned Aeronautics Autonomous Control Technology Institute at Beijing Institute of Technology. 

“UAV is our new research direction expanded to military and civil applications, and it’s primarily combined with artificial intelligence. One of the topics is autonomous takeoff and landing under complex conditions”, said Lin Defu, director of the institute.

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A drone built to hunt down other drones

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As drones get cheaper and more powerful, even off-the-shelf consumer drones are being turned into weapons. Reuters Stephen Nellis meets one startup in Silicon Valley building drone hunters.

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Flying with Angry Birds – Scary flying with a Drone in the Faroe Islands

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SCARY flying with a Quad copter. Attacked by Angry birds, but a fantastic view in the Faroe Islands flying over some bird cliffs.
This is filmed without Stabilizer with a DJI Phantom 1.
There are so many beautyfull places that should be filmed by air, and this is one of them.
Book your next trip to the Faroe Islands on www.atlantic.fo
Fly with the brand new Airbus 319 and enjoy the view. Remember to get a window seat. Book a trip to the place where the Future meets the past.

MUSIC: Green Leaves af Audionautix er givet i licens i henhold til en Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Kunstner: http://audionautix.com/

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03/08/2017: Two Session Special: China’s foreign policy in 2017

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The Two Sessions are seen as the beginning of China’s political year. Premier Li Keqiang presented his work report earlier this week, and on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to the press. So what can we learn about China’s foreign policy in 2017? How will Sino-US relations develop under Donald Trump? In the Korean peninsula, where will the tension lead? And as terrorism spreads ever further around the world, can ends ever justify the means? The Point held a special round table edition to discuss China’s foreign diplomacy in 2017.

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“The Kill Chain” and Drone War (w/ Andrew Cockburn)

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Journalist Andrew Cockburn discusses his latest book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, a history of drone warfare. Get your copy at: http://www.amazon.com/Kill-Chain-Rise-High-Tech-Assassins/dp/0805099263
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Holy Land: The Innovation Hubs of Tel Aviv & Ramallah (Part 2/5 Tease) | Future Cities | WIRED

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In this second episode, we visit Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv to explore how the city flourished so quickly as a vibrant innovation hub.
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FUTURE CITIES | SERIES 2 – HOLY LAND:
Liberalism, youth and cultural embrace of both failure and debate are all part of the city’s creative DNA. We are reminded that tech entrepreneurs see the world differently, finding problems that others fail to notice. And we explore the exciting scene developing amongst their neighbours in young and liberal Ramallah – despite the many hurdles standing in their way.
The second season of WIRED’s Future Cities series takes us inside one of the world’s biggest startup nations. With the most tech startups and venture capital per capita in the world, Israel has long been hailed as The Startup Nation. WIRED’s five-part series will look beyond Tel Aviv’s vibrant, liberal tech epicentre to the wider Holy Land region – the Palestinian territories, where a parallel Startup Nation story is emerging in East Jerusalem, Ramallah and the West Bank, as well as in the Israeli cybersecurity hub of Beersheba. And we will learn how the fertile innovation ecosystem of Silicon Wadi has evolved as a result of its unique political, geographical and cultural situation and explore the future challenges – and solutions – these nations are facing.

Episode two is out on Tuesday, 21st February. Subscribe to the WIRED YouTube channel to not miss an episode.

FUTURE CITIES
Future Cities is part of a new flagship documentary strand from WIRED Video that explores the technologies, trends and ideas that are changing our world. Subscribe to the WIRED YouTube channel to ensure you never miss an episode.

FUTURE CITIES | SERIES 1 – SHENZHEN:
We examine the unique manufacturing ecosystem that has emerged, gaining access to the world’s leading hardware-prototyping culture whilst challenging misconceptions from the west. The film looks at how the evolution of “Shanzhai” – or copycat manufacturing – has transformed traditional models of business, distribution and innovation, and asks what the rest of the world can learn from this so-called “Silicon Valley of hardware”.

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Lavrov blasts US: No more unilateral concessions from Russia and Syria regarding the ceasefire

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US-led coalition must prove it really wants to separate Al-Nusra Front from rebels – Lavrov
Russia will “no longer take seriously” requests that its own or Syrian forces make unilateral concessions regarding the ceasefire, without the Western coalition providing proof it’s trying to separate moderates from terrorists, the foreign minister said.
In an extensive interview with Russia TV’s Vesti v Subbotu (News on Saturday), Sergey Lavrov reiterated that “the revival of the ceasefire is possible exclusively on collective basis.” If the US and its coalition partners fail to provide credible proof that they have “a sincere intention” to dissociate terrorists from the so-called moderate opposition “our suspicions that this all is being done to take the heat off Al-Nusra Front will strengthen.”

The events of the past few days, however, showed the reverse trend, as more rebel groups started merging with Al-Nusra Front, Lavrov said, citing a statement from Russia’s General Staff.

One of such radical groups close to Al-Nusra Front is Ahrar Al-Sham, which refused to adhere to the Russia-US agreement as the deal targets its ally, Lavrov said. Russia has been demanding it be designated terrorist for a long time, to little effect.

“If everything again boils down to asking Russia’s and Syria’s Air Forces to take unilateral steps – such as, ‘Give us another three- or four-day pause and after that we will persuade all opposition groups that this is serious and that they must cut ties with Al-Nusra Front’ – such talk will not be taken seriously by us anymore,” the Russian FM said.

He noted that previous US-Russia-brokered short-term ceasefires around Aleppo did not live up to expectations and proved detrimental to peace efforts, as the 48-hour and 72-hour temporary truces were “used to back up the jihadists, including, Al-Nusra Front fighters, with manpower, food and weapons supplies.”

For its part, Russia has been open about its work with the Syrian government to ensure its compliance with the US-Russia brokered Geneva deal.

On Monday, it submitted an interview with Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff, to the UN Security Council, in which he outlines the concrete measures Russia made to secure the deal, Lavrov noted.

Speaking about the US airstrike on Syrian armed forces near Deir ez-Zor, that left 62 troops dead and over 100 injured, Lavrov cast doubt on Washington’s assurance that the Syrian government positions were targeted purely by mistake.

It is “very hard to believe that reconnaissance officers of the US-founded coalition that is fighting Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS] on the whole Syrian territory could forget about who is located where,” he said.

“The situation in Deir ez-Zor, contrary to the situation in Aleppo, where the line of contact is constantly changing, has been stable over two years already. The Syrian troops have been besieged by IS there,” he added, calling the circumstances surrounding the attack “a bit strange.”

Lavrov also confirmed that Washington offered its apologies to Syria’s President Bashar Assad via Russia.

The Russian FM has once again denied Russia or Syria’s complicity in the attack on UN-backed Red Crescent convoy in eastern Aleppo on Monday.

Russia had already submitted drone footage and other evidence to the UN as part of the investigation into the incident that resulted in death of 20 civilians and one aid worker.

“Russian aviation was not working there. Syrian aviation could not work there either, as the attack on the convoy occurred at night, and the Syrian Air Force does not fly at that time, they do not have such capacities,” Lavrov stated, citing the Russian Defense Ministry’s statements.

The “easiest way” and “the first necessary step” to determine who is responsible for the atrocity would be to uncover weapons that hit the convoy and present them, he suggested.

At the same time, Lavrov recalled the repeated “direct, open and unambiguous” threats to humanitarian convoys from rebels maintaining control over the Castello road that have on many occasions impeded essential supplies accessing heavily stricken areas of Aleppo.
Russian TV program “Vesti on Saturday” Interview with Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, New York, US, September 24, 2016.
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