News of the Force: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - Page 1

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                                          NEWS OF THE FORCE: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - Page 1

     Fifty years ago today, the Tet Offensive began in South Vietnam. It marked the toughest year of fighting in the Vietnam War.


Trump administration holds off on new sanctions against Russia
     The Trump administration said today it would not immediately impose additional sanctions on Russia despite a new law designed to punish Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
     The U.S. Treasury Department has released a list of 210 Russian businessmen and politicians close to Vladimir Putin - the so-called " oligarchs list" - as part of a law passed in Congress last year to ratchet up pressure over Russian election interference.

North Korea scales back annual winter military exercises
     North Korea's reported downsizing of its annual winter military exercises is seen as largely a public relations stunt. A Wall Street Journal report today said the exercises "are less extensive than usual," possibly due to the impact of sanctions.
     U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis begins his second year in the Trump administration with perhaps just one absolutely crucial task - stopping President Donald Trump from going to war against North Korea.
    
South Korea says North Korea has cancelled one of key joint cooperation projects planned for next month's Winter Olympics in the South.
     Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean's leader, met a United States national at a Malaysian island hotel days before his sensational killing last February, a police official told a court hearing in Malaysia today.

China 'as big a threat to the U.S.' as Russia, CIA chief says
      Chinese efforts to exert covert influence over the West are just as concerning as Russian subversion, the director of the CIA has said.

Russian fighter jet buzzes American spy plane
      A Russian fighter jet buzzed an American spy plane over the Black Sea today, United States officials said, in what the State Department characterized as an "unsafe" flyby.

Watchdog report shows gaps in information about Afghanistan
      As the U.S. sends thousands more troops to Afghanistan and ratchets up airstrikes, a new report from a U.S. military auditor suggests that the war is still at a stalemate, with signs of continued decline in Afghan government control.
      Afghans had only just observed a day of mourning for 103 people killed by an ambulance packed with explosives when attackers struck again, this time targeting a military base in the capital city of Kabul.

They're talking in Sochi
By Lisa Levine, News of the Force Tel Aviv
      Russian-sponsored diplomatic talks over the future of Syria have begun in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, but experts predict the summit will merely attempt to enforce a political solution that is in line with the Syrian government's agenda.
      Turkey has arrested more than 300 of its own citizens for opposing its military operations in Syria.
      In a story on Jan. 28th about the Turkish offensive in Syria, The Associated Press reported erroneously that 51 civilians were there killed on Sunday.
      Syrian's President
Bashar Assad has vowed the next Israeli strike on Syria will result in SCUD missiles hitting Ben Gurion Airport.
      Insiders are telling Israeli media U.S. President Donald Trump won't stop with aid cuts if the Palestinians' behavior doesn't improve.
     
Israel's prime minister and Holocaust survivors ave bridled at a draft Polish law that would make it illegal to suggest Poland bore any responsibility for Nazi atrocities committed on its soil.
      A Trump envoy is "deeply angered" by Hamas' ongoing terrorism. The
American negotiator is demanding that Hamas stop using money for weapons and perpetuating regional violence.


      Couzin Gym's Thought for the Day: Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.


Homeland insecurity
     Special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have arrested 86 people in the North Texas and Oklahoma areas during 3-day operation targeting criminal aliens and immigration fugitives.
     The U.S. and Mexico have agreed to put armed air marshals on flights between the two countries.
     New "security upgrades" to the U.S. refugee admissions program will help block criminals and other suspicious persons from entering the United States from high-risk nations, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said yesterday. Nielsen was speaking at a public event in Washington, D.C.
     A man who was in the United States under the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program, and another man whose DACA protections had expired, were arrested on suspicion of human smuggling in two separate incidents last week in San Diego County, Calif., federal officials said yesterday. Border agents were sent to the area after a resident spotted what appeared to be a smuggling incident, federal officials said. Further investigation led agents to a vehicle suspected of being involved, which they pulled over on Interstate 5 near Dairy Mart Road about 12:10 p.m. Three men were inside: the driver, a 20-year-old DACA recipient whose status had expired, and two Mexican nationals, ages 21 and 22, suspected of being in the country illegally. Federal officials said the driver and his cousin, the 22-year-old passenger, told agents they had been involved in human smuggling in the area. The driver is currently in federal custody. The second incident happened last Thursday about 8 a.m. Border Patrol agents in East County had just arrested two people on suspicion of being in the country illegally when they spotted two suspicious vehicles on Buckman Springs Road in Campo. The driver - a 22-year-old Mexican national who lived in Riverside County as a DACA recipient - ultimately told agents that he and another driver were scouting the area to aid a group of smugglers, federal officials said. The agents also learned the man had committed other acts of human smuggling.
     And U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)'s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Eduardo Escobar, along with other personnel from HSI Colombia, were featured in the third part of the documentary series Chain of Command which aired on Jan. 19th on the National Geographic Channel.

U.S. Air Force
    
An Air Force non-commissioned officer is under investigation for blasting lower-ranking "black females" at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in a profanity-laced Facebook rant, officials said yesterday. Officials at the Las Vegas base said Tech. Sgt. Geraldine Lovely was "removed from her supervisory role" after viral footage of a racially insensitive tirade surfaced over the weekend. "It pisses me the f--k off that they have no respect and constantly have an attitude," Lovely can be heard saying in the since-deleted video. "What the f--k is up with that?" Lovely, wearing an Air Force uniform in the video, apparently took exception to subordinates refusing to acknowledge her as "ma’am."
     The U.S. Air Force finally is ready to welcome its second female F-35 pilot, now that enough aircraft have been up- graded with a new ejection seat.
     Exercise Sentry Aloha 18-1 has come to a successful end at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
     For the first time in the unit's history, the Heritage Flight will perform an aircraft flyover consisting of two A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, an F-16 Fighting Falcon and a P-51 Mustang, over the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., during the Super Bowl's opening ceremonies.
     It's official: The U.S. Air Force will buy new wings for its aging A-10 Warthogs that risked a one way trip to the boneyard. The Air Force has made clear its intention to keep the A-10 flying after concerns surfaced that the service was taking advantage of the issue to get rid of the iconic close air support plane.
     U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson assured South Korea today of an extended deterrence commitment during a meeting with a top defense official in Seoul.
     U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Patrick McMahon, the senior enlisted leader of STRATCOM, and other senior enlisted leaders, have mentored participants of the inaugural NCO/PO Development Seminar.
     John Gibson has been confirmed as the DOD's chief management officer. Gibson is the deputy chief management officer at the department. He previously was president and CEO of XCOR Aerospace, a company that develops rocket engines and other aerospace technologies. He was the assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management, as well as deputy undersecretary of Defense for management reform. Also confirmed: Thomas Ayres as general counsel, Department of the Air Force. Ayres most recently was the deputy judge advocate general for the Army. He is a retired major general who also served as commander of the Army Legal Services Agency, chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and commander and commandant of the judge advocate general’s legal center and school; And James Stewart as assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs. Stewart served as the chairman of the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission’s economic development committee. He is a retired Air Force Reserve major general who most recently was the military executive of the secretary of defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board.
     Colonel Duke Pirak calls the 142nd Fighter Wing "Oregon's Air Force," because most of the personnel that work on it - and its 22 F-15 fighters - are from Oregon and Southwest Washington. The fleet is stationed at Portland Air National Guard Base.
     The Civil Air Patrol New York Wing's Broome-Tioga Composite Squadron will host an open house on Thursday at the Greater Binghamton Airport. Members of the public are invited to the event, which begins at 7 p.m. in the airport at 2534 Airport Road in Johnson City.
     Last September then-Cadet Major Tasha McKkelvey acknowledged she was trying for the highest honor for young members of Civil Air Patrol - cadet colonel. She accomplished that goal with a flurry of honors in December and January, capping off this month by earning the rank of cadet colonel and the Spaatz award. McKelvey, 21, is the first woman in the state and the sixth cadet within the CAP's Wyoming Wing to receive the capstone cadet honor. "That’s a person who knows what she wants to do," said Capt. Jerry Cowles, the Yellowstone Civil Air Patrol squadron's commander. "She is a very special person. You can inspire her, but it takes her own will to get things going." An official awards presentation is planned for April, but she is already able to wear the ribbons denoting the rank. She was doubtful she’d actually have the chance to wear them. "I was not very confident," she said. "So many people have been in the CAP program – there are 20,000 at any given time – and I was the 2,147th to get it." McKelvey lives in Deaver with her mother, Deb McKelvey, and her brother, Cadet Airman First Class Rui Parker. She has studied ag business and science, but plans to get her bachelor’s in criminal psychology at Northwest College. Her goal is to go into the FBI and, one day, maybe be a senator. Cowles said she passed the test to earn the Spaatz award on the first try a rarity. "Most people have to go back and retry parts a few times," she said. McKelvey didn’t have that option. Cadets only have until age 21 to earn the rank, and her birthday was Jan. 22nd – eight days after she submitted her test. Cadets can only take the test once every three months. The award is named in honor of the first chief of staff of the United States Air Force and later, the first chairman of the CAP's National Board, General Carl A. "Tooey" Spaatz. Since 1964, fewer than one percent of all CAP cadets have earned the award. McKelvey received the second-highest rank of cadet lieutenant colonel in December.
      The Indiana State Police said George P. Irick, Jr., 68, of Congerville, Illinois, died on Saturday in a plane crash in Warren County near West Lebanon, Indiana. Police said they found the plane about 10:15 a.m., EST, on Sunday near Warren County Road 575 South and Indiana Route 263. The plane was reported as missing on Saturday night. State troopers, Warren County sheriff’s deputies, members of the West Lebanon Fire Department and local volunteers searched the area for about six hours onSaturday night. Due to the rugged terrain of trees, ravines and fences the search was called off until 8 a.m., EST, on Sunday. Police, fire and volunteers met on Sunday morning at the West Lebanon Fire Department to receive search information and resumed the search. An Indiana State Police helicopter arrived on the scene and after about 20 minutes and located the downed plane, police said. Search and rescue was guided into the location by the helicopter and arrived at the scene to find the pilot deceased. The pilot was the lone occupant. Departments that assisted were the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, the West Lebanon Fire Department, the Civil Air Patrol, Warren County EMS, the American Red Cross and the Warren County Coroner’s Office.

U.S. military reviewing its rules after fitness trackers exposed sensitive data
     The U.S. military said today that it is reviewing its guidelines for the use of wireless devices at military facilities after revelations that popular fitness apps can be used to expose the locations and identities of individuals working in the armed forces.

The FBI
     FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe - who's been under harsh scrutiny from President Trump for months - submitted his resignation yesterday after his superior proposed to demote him, according to a report. McCabe had been expected to leave the bureau for weeks.
     January marks National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, but a recent case in Wisconsin illustrates how the FBI works with its partners year-round to get dangerous traffickers off the streets and obtain justice for victims.
     A U.S. House Intelligence panel has voted to release the Nunes memo on the FBI's eavesdropping. Republicans have said the Republican-written memo examines how the FBI eavesdrops on suspects in national security investigations. A Trump administration official said it was unclear whether the Justice Department would have any say in what parts of the memo would be blacked out.
     And he House Intelligence Committee is officially investigating the Department of Justice and the FBI, the committee’s ranking Democrat confirmed during a news conference today. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters at a lengthy press conference that yesterday was the first time the committee’s Republican majority informed the Democratic minority of the investigation. Schiff’s comments came shortly after the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the controversial "FISA memo," which allegedly details government surveillance abuses. Schiff explained: "It was disclosed to the minority today for the first time that the majority has evidently opened an investigation of the FBI and an investigation of the Department of Justice. Under our committee rules, of course, that has to be the product of consultation with the minority. Now it has been publicly reported from time to time that there was a subset of the majority working on some kind of an investigation or inquiry into the Department of Justice and FBI. But apparently the chairman (Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) made it formal today." Increased scrutiny has been building around the DOJ and FBI in recent weeks as more information comes out detailing how the agencies handled both the Clinton email investigation and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which has effectively become the Trump-Russia investigation. Lawmakers are also concerned that the Obama administration, via the DOJ and FBI, improperly secured a surveillance warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a Trump campaign official by using information from the unverified "Trump dossier." Evidence that the FISA warrant was issued based upon the salacious document is reportedly detailed in the "FISA memo" created by a handful of members on the House Intelligence Committee. The report is the product of thousands of DOJ documents, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said over the weekend. While Schiff announced the investigation is officially formal, a Nunes spokesman said  that Nunes discussed the inquiry on Fox News last month. In addition, Politico reported last month that a small group of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were investigating the DOJ and FBI. According to the report, the group is probing for corruption and how the agencies used the dossier.
     News of the Force first reported last month that the investigation was underway.

Top DNC official quits
    
The CEO of the Democratic National Committee is leaving after less than a year on the job. Veteran Democrat operative Jess O'Connell took the helm of the DNC last May with a mandate to help newly installed Chairman Tom Perez turn around a troubled party.

News from the Department of Veterans Affairs
     The OIT’s 2017 Year in Review tells a story of partnerships throughout VA that overcome difficult challenges to modernize the technological backbone that enables VA employees to deliver the care, benefits and services veterans have earned.
     In a podcast, Kayla Williams discussed the mission of the Center for Women Veterans and the care and resources VA provides for our women veterans.
     The nation’s tax deadline will be April 17th this year so taxpayers will have two additional days to file beyond April 15th. See: IRS announces tax season, veteran and service member-specific filing information .
     In Milwaukee, Wis., opportunity is knocking for experienced nurses and recent nursing graduates, as the Milwaukee VA Medical Center works to fill roles in a variety of areas such as cardiology, hematology, medical surgery, rehabilitation, home health care, and the ER. It’s part of an effort to meet the growing demand for VA services in that great city. If you don’t live in Milwaukee or a town nearby, there are many reasons to consider a move – from the city’s award-winning restaurants and vibrant nightlife to its lakefront museums and thriving music and arts scene.
     At President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address tonight in Washington, D.C., service members, veterans and a young veterans advocate have been invited to sit in the gallery as guests during the address.
     And at VA, they understand the challenges many veterans face during their transition back to civilian life. And where they choose to live can significantly affect how well they adjust. Recent studies have compared American cities in categories ranging from economy and employment to health and quality of life, in order to determine the best cities for veterans to live. Other, veteran-specific indicators taken into account include housing affordability, veteran unemployment rates and the availability of VA health care facilities. See: 2017’s best cities for Veterans to live .

NOAA news
    
The Long Beach Airport in Los Angeles County, Calif., reported a maximum temperature of 86 degrees yesterday, breaking the record of 83 degrees set in 1992, the National Weather Service said. And the Camarillo Airport in Ventura County also hit 86 degrees yesterday, breaking the record there of 85 degrees.
     The moon is providing a rare triple treat this week. Tomorrow, much of the world will get to see not only a blue moon and a supermoon, but also a total lunar eclipse, all rolled into one. There hasn't been a triple lineup like this since 1982. and the next won't occur until 2037.

UFO news
    
Last December, The New York Times broke the story about a secret Pentagon program that searches for UFOs. The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was a pet project of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and then-Senate majority leader. The program ran from 2007 to 2012 and cost $22 million a year.
    
Conspiracy theorists all around the world have been alleging the involvement of the U.S. Government in covering up the existence of UFOs and extraterrestrial lives for years, and they claim that the authorities are hiding the information fearing public panic. Interestingly, a new report published on Salon has revealed that former U.S. President Bill Clinton has spent much of his time to know more about UFO encounters which happened in the country. Unfortunately, the former president failed to fetch more details about UFO incidents, as many government authorities refused to divulge on these bizarre happenings. Clinton became concerned about UFOs when he received a letter from a young boy named Ryan enquiring about the Rosewell UFO crash incident. Until that point of time, Clinton was not at all curious about UFOs, but soon he changed his mind and decided to investigate more about these sightings. Bill Clinton gave the assignment of unveiling the hidden truth surrounding UFOs to Webster Hubbell, his associate attor­ney general. However, Webster faced many hurdles in obtaining the information from various government authorities, and slowly, he learned that a secret government wing is holding all the data associated with UFO sightings. Webster soon reported to Clinton that even the president does not have access to the classified files related to unidentified flying objects and alien life. In his memoir, Webster Hubbell wrote the two tasks given by Clinton - to resolve the mysteries surrounding the murder of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and figuring out the understanding of the government on UFO sightings. Even though he faced many obstacles during the investigation, Webster Hubbell succeeded in obtaining some crucial information regarding UFO sightings from the then-CIA chief, James Woolsey. The CIA chief informed that the agency had run two projects named "Project Sign" and "Project Saucer" to access whether these UFO sightings are a threat to national security. However, more details regarding the alleged UFO sightings in the United States were hidden from Clinton, too, and at that time, he was very much upset over the lack of information.
     And a mysterious video of a possibly damaged UFO has been shot by an airplane passenger recently and it is now going viral on social media platforms. The one-minute clip which features an unidentified flying object possibly falling down to Earth, leaving behind a thick gas trail, has impressed alien buffs and they consider this as an unquestionable evidence of extra-terrestrial life. The video is released by the Peruvian conspiracy theory Facebook page, "Rincon Siniestro. As of now, the video has been watched for more than 37,000 times and viewers are pretty much convinced about the authenticity of the clip. People who watched the video claim that this video is featuring a damaged UFO, which went out of control while visiting the Earth. On the other hand, skeptics believe that this craft has nothing to do with extra-terrestrials and is basically an army aircraft. However, they are not capable of explaining the phenomenon which produces the large blaze of thick smoke, which is not at all the usual contrails. In the meantime, a section of conspiracy theorists has started arguing that this footage is a real clip of chemtrail operations. The chemtrail operation is a secret project carried out by governments all over the world to hide the happenings in the sky from the general public. According to these theorists, many strange things have been happening in our skies. The chemtrail theory became a hot topic when they claimed that governments are hiding evidence of the rogue planet Nibiru's approach last year. As the video has gone viral, alien buffs all around the world are asking UFO research agencies like MUFON to investigate this incident so that the mysteries surrounding it will be unravelled soon.

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