News of the Force: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - Page 1

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                                                NEWS OF THE FORCE: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - Page 1


A tsunami warning issued in Alaska
Flag of Alaska     
      A magnitude-8.2 earthquake hit Alaska today, prompting authorities to warn people to move away from the coast in case it causes a tsunami.
Forecasters canceled tsunami warnings for Alaska and the US and Canadian west coasts today after the earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska stoked fears of severe waves.

Mount Mayon volcano forces 40,000 to flee
      The Philippines' most active volcano spewed fountains of red-hot lava and massive ash plumes today in a dazzling but dangerous eruption that has sent 40,000 villagers to shelter in evacuation centers.

Avalanche kills one at Japan ski resort
      A Japanese soldier has been killed in an avalanche in central Japan that appears to have been triggered by a volcanic eruption. At least 14 people have also been injured, several of them critically.

Pentagon and watchdog at odds over efforts to prevent sexual assaults by Afghan troops
Flag of Afghanistan    
    
A government watchdog has suggested that the US Congress might want to prohibit the Defense Department from spending money on Afghan military units whose members sexually abuse children or commit other human rights violations. The Afghan military and police were involved in at least 75 gross human rights violations between 2010 and 2016, including murder, torture and child sexual assault.
     Meanwhile,
the Pentagon has shot down a claim by the Islamic State that it killed a US soldier in Afghanistan on Monday. The Islamic State offshoot, known as ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, claimed in their news release that a joint attack by Afghan and US forces on the villages of Jaharwazi and Mariz was repelled.

Chinese police seize publisher from a train - in front of diplomats
Flag of China    
     A Hong Kong-based book publisher with Swedish citizenship who was secretly spirited to China and held in custody for two years, igniting international controversy, has disappeared again in dramatic fashion - the cops snatched him from a train.
     Meanwhile, w
ith the Trump administration warning of a possible war with North Korea, US allies in Asia are sounding the alarm on another risk: a clash with China in the western Pacific.

India's BSF pounds Pakistani positions with 9,000 shells
BSF Logo.svg    
     India's Border Security Force (BSF) has fired over 9,000 rounds of mortar shells across the International Border (IB) in Jammu in the past four days as part of "pinpointed" retaliatory action against Pakistan's unprovoked firing, destroying firing positions and fuel dumps of the Pakistan Rangers at multiple places.

US president expected to invite French president for state
visit
     US
President Donald Trump is expected to invite French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington for an official state visit later this year, the first of Trump's presidency, according to two diplomatic sources.

EU slaps sanctions on 17 more North Koreans
Flag of North Korea    
     The European Union has slapped travel bans and asset freezes on 17 more North Koreans accused of illegal trading activities.
     After a New Year's Day overture by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was met with a warm response from Winter Olympics host South Korea, Pyongyang is now sending nearly two dozen athletes to participate in the games next month.
     And j
ust a few years ago, a North Korean pop diva was reportedly executed by a North Korean firing squad. Now, Pyongyang's top pop diva is a senior ruling party official and a surprise headliner in the run-up to the South Korean Winter Olympics.

As Turkey attacks the Kurds in Syria, the US is on the sidelines
By Lisa Levine, News of the Force Tel Aviv
Centered menorah surrounded by two olive branches    
    
Over the weekend, Turkish troops launched an aerial and ground assault on American-allied Kurdish militias in Syria.
The United States has been the protector and ally of the Kurds for a quarter-century, and the Kurds have proven to be, man-for-man and woman-for-woman, the best fighters in the region.
     Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has failed to eject the US president from the peace talks.
Abbas begged Europe to take the reins of the peace process, but Brussels effectively said "No Trump, no deal."
     The only good news about Hizbollah's activities in Lebanon and beyond is that Western countries are finally starting to realize something must be done to contain the threat the Iranian proxy poses - not only to Israel but to the West as well.
    
The Israeli army has decided to film and present its inspection of the latest Hamas terror tunnel to the public.   
     And
researchers have solved the mystery of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls that had been broken into dozens of tiny pieces, putting them together to reveal a coded message about an ancient Jewish sect's calendar.


     Couzin Gym's Thought for the Day: Whichever traffic lane you change to will always move slower than the one you left. (This also applies to lines you stand in.)


US Navy and Marine Corps
Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg  Seal of the United States Marine Corps.svg     
     The Navy's new littoral combat ship, USS Little Rock, is stuck in port in Montreal, Canada, by ice.
     Hartwick College Campus Safety Officer Casey Cole, of Tully, N.Y., was recently recognized by the United States Navy for her exemplary service. On October 15, 2017, the Secretary of the Navy awarded Cole the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal as the Reserve Junior Sailor of the Year.
     US Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Juan Rodriguez, an explosive ordnance disposal officer with Task Force Al Asad, and brigade-level leaders of the Iraqi Army, have walked through an improvised explosive device training lane aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.
     US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a retired general who entered the Marine Corps during Vietnam but did not serve there, arrived in Indonesia yesterday. Following that visit, Mattis will be in Hanoi tomorrow and Thursday.
     And retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Catherine G. Murray was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. Murray was recognized on Nov. 30, 1962, as the first enlisted female Marine to retire from active duty after serving honorably for nearly 20 years. Murray passed away with dignity and peace at her home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 20, 2017. She is survived by her companion and caregiver of 22 years, Mark Adkins, along with her many dear friends. Murray enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1943 and was assigned to motor transport duties until 1946 where she drove both sedans and five-ton trucks for the Marine Corps during her service in World War II. When the armed forces demobilized their "Force of Women" at the end of the war, Murray was retained on active duty with the Marine Corps.  In 1948, she was authorized to integrate into the regular service. During her enlistment, Murray was stationed overseas in London and Hawaii and even spent some time in Quantico, Va., where she was instrumental in the planning and writing many of the military examinations used by female Marines at the time. Murray’s decorations included the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (six awards), the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

Crime and police
      A 15-year-old girl was hospitalized after a shooting in a cafeteria at a Texas school on Monday morning, local officials said. The suspect, a 16-year-old male student, is in custody after the incident at Italy High School in Italy, Texas, located about 45 miles south of Dallas. The 16-year-old boy opened fire at Marshall County High School oday, killing two classmates and wounding more than a dozen others.
     
Fake news is a problem, but a Michigan man went too far in his zeal to correct the issue, making violent threats against CNN and its employees, according to CBS 46 in Atlanta, Ga. Court documents show that a Detroit-area man called CNN 22 times last week, first accusing the network of “fake news” and escalating to death threats. Some of his threats: "Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down"; I’m smarter than you. More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours"; and "I am coming to Georgia right now to go to the CNN headquarters to f***ing gun every single last one of you." It’s unclear whether the man had the intentions or the means to follow through on his threats, but police took no chances. FBI investigators traced the calls and arrested him.
      Three leaders of USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the Olympic sport, resigned under pressure on Monday after months of criticism stemming from the sex-abuse scandal over former team doctor Larry Nassar.
      US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has told an audience at the Sundance Film Festival about experiencing sexual harassment and discrimination as an undergraduate student and early in her career.
      A German nurse serving a life sentence for murdering two patients is suspected of killing another 97 people by lethal injection. If convicted, Niels Högel would become Germany's most deadly serial killer ever.
      The brutal rape and killing of Zainab Ansari, a 7-year-old girl whose body was left in a garbage dump, has unleashed a wave of revulsion around Pakistan, revealing a string of child abductions and killings by a suspected serial killer.
      An undercover television report that showed members of a Polish neo-Nazi group celebrating Adolf Hitler's birthday and burning a swastika has prompted a criminal investigation.
      Crime in Houston, Texas, overall continued to trend downward and fell slightly in 2017, Chief Art Acevedo said on Monday, as he continued to insist the department is severely understaffed and needs to grow by as many as 2,000 more officers.
      A British man who was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail for sexually abusing a young boy was found dead in his prison cell on Jan. 12th. Daniel Davey, 22, was discovered in his cell at HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire, England, after being sentenced on Dec. 1st. The former McDonald's employee was found guilty of sexually abusing a boy he babysat over a period of 18 months while the child was between 5 and 6 years old. The victim apparently asked his mother if he could tell her "something dirty" before admitting that Davey had performed oral sex on him on multiple occasions.After the mother notified police, investigators found Davey's DNA on the child's underwear.     
      The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has described WikiLeaks  founder Julian Assange as an "inherited problem" that has created "more than a nuisance" for his government.
      Pope Francis has apologized to the Catholic Church's sexual abuse victims, but still doubts them. For years, victims of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church and their advocates have asked when Pope Francis would adjust his blind spot on an issue that has caused enormous damage to Catholics and the reputations of the church and the pontiffs.
      Jamaica's bustling tourism destination St. James Parish - home to popular Montego Bay - has been placed under a state of emergency due to an uptick in violent crime in the area.
      At least one person is dead and multiple others were wounded after a shooting at a high school in Marshall County, Ky., today.
      Needle-exchange programs operate in a legal gray area, advocates and Missouri lawmakers said on Monday. Proposed legislation seeks to change that. The legislation would exempt programs that provide clean needles to people with drug addiction from violating drug paraphernalia laws. Providing clean needles is intended to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis C. Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston), who introduced the measure, said while handing out needles is technically illegal, authorities tend to overlook it because they understand the health benefits. "The problem is they're running in a somewhat gray area," Rehder said about needle exchanges. The gray area also means the state can't access federal dollars, Rehder said, a situation the bill would seek to change. "We're missing out on the federal dollars that can come down for this," she said, "because we don't have it very clear that these are legal." Needles are readily available at stores or even online, said Chad Sobra, the executive director of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery, a harm reduction and outreach center in St. Louis. Exchanges are about more than providing clean needles, he said. "It's not about that needle," he said. "It's about that human connection." The hope is human interaction then leads to people seeking help and getting into recovery. Rep. Clem Smith (D-Velda Village Hills), who was on the committee hearing the proposal, also voiced his support. "I wish this country would do a better job of stopping the flow of a lot of these drugs, but we have do deal with how it is now," he said. "If this can help people going forward and stop the spread of something, I think it's something we need to get behind." The legislation was voted out of committee on Monday.
      In the UK, the family of a teenage mother missing for 26 years have enlisted private investigators in a last-ditch attempt to find her body. Relatives of Nicola Payne say the search is their "last hope" after a catalogue of blunders by British police. The 18-year-old vanished after saying goodbye to her boyfriend and baby son.
      Several Russian counterintelligence colonels are being charged with security contracts fraud. According to the investigation, Andrei Kuternin and Alexei Kostenkov took money from the director general of one of the Moscow's private security companies for aiding in concluding contracts for the security of facilities of the Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
      The Kenyan National Hospital's management board has approved the recruitment of more private security officers and urged the National Police Service to deploy more officers to the hospital after sexual assault claims by patients.
      Do you know the difference between open carry and constitutional carry? This controversial topic is not one that all gun owners agree on. As it stands right now, 30 US states allow open carry without a permit, while only 12 states allow constitutional carry.
     
There's serious talk on Capitol Hill about the appointment of a second special counsel amid several new bombshell revelations swirling around the Trump/Russia probe. First, there are the allegations of shocking and substantial government surveillance abuses under President Obama outlined in the FISA abuse memo. Secondly, the FBI lost five months of key text messages between the anti-Trump/pro-Clinton FBI officials Peter Strzok and his mistress, Lisa Page. And now there’s talk of a "secret society" of officials within the FBI that apparently met the day after the election of Donald J. Trump to plot against the president-elect. Top Republicans now believe there may be real grounds for a second special counsel, Fox News reported on Monday evening. According to Fox News, Nunes, Gowdy and Goodlatte are in the process of going through the steps necessary to release the four-page FISA memo and intend to see it released to the public by early February.
       Memorial arrangements have been made for a deputy US Marshal from Northumberland County killed in the line of duty in Harrisburg, Pa., while serving an arrest warrant in the city last week. Deputy US Marshal Christopher Hill is survived by his wife and two children.
       In Concord, N.H., a convicted felon in possession of a firearm surrendered to the US Marshals yesterday afternoon after being outed as a Fugitive of the Week last week, according to a press alert. Steven Sanders, 55, surrendered on a supervised release violation after being convicted on a felon in possession of a firearm charge.
       The US Marshals have arrested 28-year-old Dijon Seales at his home in Philadelphia, Pa. He's charged with a federal probation violation for possession with intent to distribute meth. Seales barricaded himself in a back bedroom and ended up getting into a physical fight with the federal marshals. Seals was wanted by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
       A Colorado man wanted by the US Marshals for two counts of attempted murder was arrested on Jan. 16th in the unincorporated community of Meiners Oaks, in California's Ojai Valley. Greg Boren, 25, and his passenger were arrested for drug-related offenses after being pulled over during a traffic stop.
       And the US Marshals have arrested a man in Memphis, Tenn., in connection with a Jan. 19th shooting in West Point, Miss.

US Air Force
Seal of the US Air Force.svg      
     SpaceX has kept the confidence of the US Air Force after the failed Zuma mission. Before the Zuma mission, which was launched for an undisclosed US agency other than the Air Force, Northrop Grumman spokesman Lon Rains said the launch represented "a cost-effective approach to space access for government missions."
      Equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors, SBIRS GEO Flight 4 is the latest satellite to join the Air Force's orbiting missile warning constellation.
      The US Air Force has selected the Harris Corp. to provide engineering support services for the electronic warfare (EW) systems onboard the international variant of the F-16.
      The Pentagon has disavowed knowledge of a stranded US Air Force pilot after he successfully intercepted a missile near North Korea. A US Air Force pilot being shot down and now being reported as MIA after shooting a North Korean missile down is "fake news,"  Pentagon says.
      The world's largest military aviation museum has reopened after a government shutdown shuttered the National Museum of the US Air Force.
      C-130 crews are on standby to evacuate embassy personnel across Africa in the event of an emergency, according to the Air Force. The deployment in support of "Operation New Normal" also will include tactical airdrops, humanitarian efforts, and aeromedical evacuations for US personnel in Africa.
      The US Air Force is expanding the area they are testing for water contamination in the Spokane, Wash., suburb of Airway Heights.
      The Air Force has created a new investigative team to research and record ongoing hypoxia episodes in its aircraft in hopes of minimizing future incidents, the service has announced. Brig. Gen. Bobbi Jo Doorenbos, currently the special assistant to the director of the Air National Guard, will head the probe.
      It may sound nosier in the skies over Oahu as dozens of fighter pilots from several states duke it out in simulated air combat. Air crews are coming in from as far away as California, Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas and Iowa for the Sentry Aloha training exercises - all hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard.
      Since the eighth grade, Miami, Fla., Coral Reef High senior Jackson Ribler has been a part of the Civil Air Patrol. He started out as a cadet airman basic and worked his way up to cadet major. Today, as a cadet major, he oversees the programs for the six local squadrons in the area that reaches from Opa Locka to Key West, Fla.
      And officials believe an aerial image taken in the Ruby Mountains near Elko, Nev., may show the location of the wreckage of a plane missing since Jan. 11th. The pilot of that plane was 26-year-old Paul R. Graham, a Branson, Miss., man who was flying from California to Salt Lake City. He was reportedly the only person on the plane. The Elko County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) reported the possible discovery late last week. "Assistance provided by the pilot’s employer, Air America/Eagle View, has led investigators to believe the airplane reported missing the night of January 11, 2018, has possibly been located near Pearl Peak in the Ruby Mountains," the ECSO's statement says. "Although this possible sighting of the aircraft looks promising, Undersheriff Ron Supp warns this information is thus far preliminary and it will be some time before investigators will be able to access the location due to terrain and weather." Photographs appear to reveal the wreckage of an aircraft resembling that of the missing Piper aircraft with tail number N54857. It was reported to be piloted by Graham. "The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the pilot’s family for their patience and understanding during a very trying time," the statement says. "The Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank Air America/Eagle View, the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, the Civil Air Patrol, US military agencies, the Elko County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue volunteers and Utah Air Resources (a volunteer air search and rescue organization) as well as other volunteers and government agencies providing assistance."

VA news
Flag of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.svg     
    
Today, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a partnership to share data, data analytics tools and best practices for identifying and preventing fraud, waste and abuse.
     And VA’s TeleHealth service utilizes health informatics to care for veterans and helps them live independently and stay out of the hospital - essential for their overall health care and personal goals.

Homeland insecurity
Flag of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg     
     A Trump administration report that claimed three-quarters of those convicted of "international terrorism-related charges" were foreign born was reportedly created without the input of Department of Homeland Security specialists and many experts believe it is misleading.
    
When it comes to protecting our homeland and ensuring the security of our country's citizens, borders and critical infrastructure, it is imperative for security technologies to be seamlessly compatible with each other. This is one of the many topics to be discussed at the 2018 Modular Open Systems Summit.
     A presentation from Homeland Security on Intelligence Oversight Training appears to include a version of Anonymous' "man without a head" logo that was modified to depict a surveillance state. Perhaps even more interestingly, the image has a preexisting copyright.
     The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has postponed a forum scheduled for tomorrow on the Department of Homeland Security reauthorization that was expected to include discussion on the DHS' cyber functions.
     And while the US Senate was working toward an agreement to end the government shutdown, some DACA recipients in California tried to block a Disneyland entrance in protest, according to The Los Angeles Times. A small group of about 15 "Dreamers" and their supporters stood in the street on a crosswalk, blocking a vehicle entrance to the park. Before long, police had moved them from the crosswalk to the sidewalk, and after less than an hour, the protest was over. "The group is only about 20 people, who have been peaceful," a Disneyland spokesperson said on Monday morning. "Disneyland is operating as normal today." The protesters arrived at 10 a.m. and were gone by 10:40. A primary reason for the government shutdown was the Democrats insistence on the inclusion of a solution to protect the DACA recipients to go along with spending legislation to fund the government. The Disneyland protesters were reportedly chanting "No dream! No deal!" expressing their desire for the Democrats to hold firm until the Republicans conceded the issue.The Senate came to a deal to reopen the government shortly after, pushing the issue of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program into February.

                                                   


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