Tagged: united

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US, UK blame Russian military for “destructive” cyberattack

LONDON — The United States and Britain blamed the Russian government on Thursday for a cyberattack that hit businesses across Europe[1] last year. The U.K. accused Moscow of “weaponizing information” in a new kind of warfare, and the White House said “the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history.”

“The attack, dubbed ‘NotPetya,’ quickly spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas,” said a statement from the White House press secretary. “It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict. This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyber-attack that will be met with international consequences.”

Earlier, British Foreign Minister Tariq Ahmad said “the U.K. government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyberattack of June 2017.”

The fast-spreading outbreak of data-scrambling software centered on Ukraine — embroiled in a conflict[2] with Moscow-backed separatists in the country’s east. It spread to companies that do business with Ukraine, including U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck, Danish shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk and FedEx subsidiary TNT. Ahmad said the “reckless” attack cost organizations hundreds of millions of dollars.

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson accused Russia of “undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponizing information” with malicious cyberattacks.

“We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats,” Williamson said. 

Danish defense minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said intelligence agencies in Britain, Denmark and elsewhere had uncovered the Russian responsibility.

Speaking at a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, he said the hack was meant to cause damage and should “be compared with a military attack.”

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied Russia’s involvement.

“We categorically deny the accusations. We consider them unfounded and baseless and see them as continuation of groundless Russophobic campaign,” he said in a conference call with reporters.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Graham blasts Homeland Security statement as 'poisonous'

“The DHS press release is over the top. It’s poisonous. I think its ridiculous and I’ve long since stopped paying attention to them,” he said.

Graham added that any time the department is offered money for the border wall they should “say thank you.”

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DHS ripped a deal offered by a bipartisan coalition of senators, saying it “destroys” the department’s ability to remove undocumented immigrants from the country and “ignores the lessons” of Sept. 11, 2001.

“It would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them,” the statement said. “By halting immigration enforcement for all aliens who arrived before June 2018, it ignores the lessons of 9/11 and significantly increases the risk of crime and terrorism.”

The proposal crafted by the senators would allow about 1.8 million immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to stay with a path to citizenship. It also provides $25 billion for border security and would impose limited changes to family-based immigration.

But it doesn’t include broader changes to family-based immigration, which conservatives call “chain migration,” or eliminate the State Department’s diversity visa lottery. 

“I don’t think the staffers who compiled this document served the President very well. As for Secretary Nielsen, I’m incredibly disappointed in her for allowing her office to become so politicized and for allowing something like this to go out,” he added.

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Graham blasts Homeland Security statement as 'poisonous'

“The DHS press release is over the top. It’s poisonous. I think its ridiculous and I’ve long since stopped paying attention to them,” he said.

Graham added that any time the department is offered money for the border wall they should “say thank you.”

ADVERTISEMENT

DHS ripped a deal offered by a bipartisan coalition of senators, saying it “destroys” the department’s ability to remove undocumented immigrants from the country and “ignores the lessons” of Sept. 11, 2001.

“It would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them,” the statement said. “By halting immigration enforcement for all aliens who arrived before June 2018, it ignores the lessons of 9/11 and significantly increases the risk of crime and terrorism.”

The proposal crafted by the senators would allow about 1.8 million immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to stay with a path to citizenship. It also provides $25 billion for border security and would impose limited changes to family-based immigration.

But it doesn’t include broader changes to family-based immigration, which conservatives call “chain migration,” or eliminate the State Department’s diversity visa lottery. 

“I don’t think the staffers who compiled this document served the President very well. As for Secretary Nielsen, I’m incredibly disappointed in her for allowing her office to become so politicized and for allowing something like this to go out,” he added.

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Graham blasts Homeland Security statement as 'poisonous'

“The DHS press release is over the top. It’s poisonous. I think its ridiculous and I’ve long since stopped paying attention to them,” he said.

Graham added that any time the department is offered money for the border wall they should “say thank you.”

ADVERTISEMENT

DHS ripped a deal offered by a bipartisan coalition of senators, saying it “destroys” the department’s ability to remove undocumented immigrants from the country and “ignores the lessons” of Sept. 11, 2001.

“It would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them,” the statement said. “By halting immigration enforcement for all aliens who arrived before June 2018, it ignores the lessons of 9/11 and significantly increases the risk of crime and terrorism.”

The proposal crafted by the senators would allow about 1.8 million immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to stay with a path to citizenship. It also provides $25 billion for border security and would impose limited changes to family-based immigration.

But it doesn’t include broader changes to family-based immigration, which conservatives call “chain migration,” or eliminate the State Department’s diversity visa lottery. 

“I don’t think the staffers who compiled this document served the President very well. As for Secretary Nielsen, I’m incredibly disappointed in her for allowing her office to become so politicized and for allowing something like this to go out,” he added.

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US Defense Secretary Mattis to press European allies on military spending

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will press European allies on Wednesday to stick to a promise to increase military budgets as the United States offers an increase in its own defense spending in Europe.

For the first time, NATO countries have submitted plans to show how they will reach a target to spend 2 percent of economic output on defense every year by 2024, after Trump threatened to withdraw U.S. support for low-spending allies.

Fifteen of the 28 countries, excluding the United States, now have a strategy to meet a NATO benchmark first agreed in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, following years of cuts to European defense budgets.

It is unclear whether that will be enough to impress U.S. President Donald Trump when he attends a NATO summit in July.

While France plans to increase defense spending by more than a third between 2017 and 2025, Spain has said it will not meet the 2024 target, while Belgium and Italy are also lagging.

A multi-billion euro projected increase in Germany will not be enough to take Berlin up to 2 percent by 2024.

Mattis is expected to take a tough stance, according to Katie Wheelbarger, principal U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

“He will address those who don’t have national plans to meet 2 percent and suggest they really need to develop those plans,” she told reporters.

MIXED MESSAGE?

The issue of low defense spending in Europe has long been an irritant in Washington. But Russia’s military modernization, Islamist militancy and electronic warfare on computer networks have underscored Europe’s heavy reliance on the United States.

According to NATO data, Britain, Greece, Romania and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania meet, or are close to, the 2 percent goal, while France and Turkey are among those countries set to reach it soon.

One area of tension lies in the language of the NATO spending pledge of 2014. Allies committed to “move toward” 2 percent, while Trump now says 2 percent is the “bare minimum.”

Trump has also set an example by proposing a $1.7 billion increase in military expenditure in Europe for 2019, as the United States leads NATO efforts to deter Russia.

But U.S. officials have also sown confusion about their support for a new defense pact to coordinate European Union defense policy and allow countries to club together to buy arms.

Wheelbarger warned that “we don’t want to see EU efforts pulling requirements or activity away from NATO and into the EU.” The U.S. envoy to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said there were concerns that U.S. defense companies would be shut out.

“We do not want this to be a protectionist vehicle for the EU,” she said of the proposed pact.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Gareth Jones

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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Myanmar's presence downplayed at Thai-US military exercise

U-TAPAO AIR BASE, Thailand –  Thailand and the United States downplayed the presence of a Myanmar military officer at the opening Tuesday of the largest annual joint military exercise in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar’s military has been accused of massive human rights violations in its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled by the hundreds of thousands to neighboring Bangladesh. U.S. lawmakers had demanded Myanmar’s exclusion from the exercise.

“The truth is Myanmar is not a participant nation,” U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies told reporters at in the Cobra Gold exercise in eastern Thailand. “They’re not part of the exercises here.” He did not explain the Myanmar officer’s attendance.

Thai Gen. Thanchaiyan Srisuwan acknowledged inviting Myanmar to the opening ceremony. However, Myanmar’s flag was not flown at the ceremonial opening. It’s believed the Thais invited Myanmar to send three personnel though only one appeared to be attending.

In Washington last week, both Republican and Democrat members of congress criticized the invitation to Myanmar. Sen. John McCain, the Republican chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Associated Press “militaries engaged in ethnic cleansing should not be honing their skills alongside U.S. troops,” a reference to accounts of atrocities committed by Myanmar troops.

A U.S. statement said 11,075 service members from 29 countries are taking part in this year’s exercise, with Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia the seven main participants.

It said the aims of the exercise are to enhance security cooperation, develop peacekeeping forces and maintain readiness for humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.

The exercise includes humanitarian components, such as evacuation drills, as well as traditional military exercises such as amphibious landings.

Disaster relief has assumed a high profile in recent years, especially after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries. Multinational forces mobilized for relief efforts after that crisis, as they did again on a more limited scale after 2008’s Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar, killing upward of 130,000 people.

Davies, in an indirect reference to such crises, told reporters that “It’s very important that everyone from around the region have an eye on what’s happening here and to some extent to be part of it, but I’ll come back to what I said earlier that Burma is not a participating nation.” Burma is the old name for Myanmar before it was changed by the country’s previous military government, and is still used by the governments of the U.S. and several other nations.

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Myanmar's presence downplayed at Thai-US military exercise

U-TAPAO AIR BASE, Thailand –  Thailand and the United States downplayed the presence of a Myanmar military officer at the opening Tuesday of the largest annual joint military exercise in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar’s military has been accused of massive human rights violations in its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled by the hundreds of thousands to neighboring Bangladesh. U.S. lawmakers had demanded Myanmar’s exclusion from the exercise.

“The truth is Myanmar is not a participant nation,” U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies told reporters at in the Cobra Gold exercise in eastern Thailand. “They’re not part of the exercises here.” He did not explain the Myanmar officer’s attendance.

Thai Gen. Thanchaiyan Srisuwan acknowledged inviting Myanmar to the opening ceremony. However, Myanmar’s flag was not flown at the ceremonial opening. It’s believed the Thais invited Myanmar to send three personnel though only one appeared to be attending.

In Washington last week, both Republican and Democrat members of congress criticized the invitation to Myanmar. Sen. John McCain, the Republican chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Associated Press “militaries engaged in ethnic cleansing should not be honing their skills alongside U.S. troops,” a reference to accounts of atrocities committed by Myanmar troops.

A U.S. statement said 11,075 service members from 29 countries are taking part in this year’s exercise, with Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia the seven main participants.

It said the aims of the exercise are to enhance security cooperation, develop peacekeeping forces and maintain readiness for humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.

The exercise includes humanitarian components, such as evacuation drills, as well as traditional military exercises such as amphibious landings.

Disaster relief has assumed a high profile in recent years, especially after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries. Multinational forces mobilized for relief efforts after that crisis, as they did again on a more limited scale after 2008’s Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar, killing upward of 130,000 people.

Davies, in an indirect reference to such crises, told reporters that “It’s very important that everyone from around the region have an eye on what’s happening here and to some extent to be part of it, but I’ll come back to what I said earlier that Burma is not a participating nation.” Burma is the old name for Myanmar before it was changed by the country’s previous military government, and is still used by the governments of the U.S. and several other nations.

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Seoul seeks communication, lower military tension ahead of possible North Korea summit

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Monday it will try to arrange more reunions for families divided by the Korean War and seek to lower military tensions with North Korea as the first steps towards establishing grounds for a rare summit between the two Koreas.

The statement from the Ministry of Unification came after a high-level North Korean delegation concluded a three-day visit which included an invitation for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to travel to Pyongyang for talks.

“(The visit) shows that North Korea has a strong will to improve inter-Korean relations and that Pyongyang can make unprecedented and bold measures if deemed necessary,” the ministry said.

The visit of the delegation, which included North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong, intrigued many in South Korea, but also met scepticism about the North’s sincerity and willingness to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“Although many Koreans are welcoming North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are also significant criticism and concerns both domestically and internationally,” the statement said.

During the visit, Kim Yo Jong had delivered a letter from her brother asking South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang at his earliest convenience. Moon had replied, “Let’s create the environment for that to be able to happen,” according to the presidential Blue House.

Such a meeting, if it came about, would mark the first inter-Korea summit since 2007.

The two Koreas are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict on the Korean peninsula ended in a ceasefire and not a truce.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Suk, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam and Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, watch North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra’s performance in Seoul, South Korea, February 11, 2018. Yonhap via REUTERS

The Unification Ministry said steps regarding the improvement of ties would be led by the two Koreas, but also in cooperation with related countries and the support of the international community.

“Under a strong position for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, Korea will faithfully implement the international sanctions on North Korea, while also adhering to the principle of resolution through peaceful means,” the statement said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks with president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, looks on after North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra’s performance in Seoul, South Korea, February 11, 2018. Yonhap via REUTERS

“If there is certain progress to set the conditions for denuclearisation, a full-fledged progress in inter-Korean relations will become possible,” it said, without elaborating.

The United States and South Korea have agreed on terms for further diplomatic engagement with North Korea, first with Seoul and then possibly leading to direct talks with Washington without pre-conditions, Vice President Mike Pence said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.

Speaking to the Washington Post aboard Air Force Two on his way home from the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Pence said Washington would keep up its “maximum pressure campaign” against Pyongyang but would be open to possible talks at the same time.

In previous years, North and South Korea have held reunions to bring together family members who have been separated by the war.

Seoul made a standing offer to North Korea last year regarding another such reunion, details of which have yet to be hammered out between North and South Korea.

Kim Yo Jong and her delegation spent three days dining with top government officials, including Moon, watching the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and cheering for the united women’s ice hockey team the two Koreas have fielded at this Olympics.

Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Lincoln Feast & Simon Cameron-Moore

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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Seoul seeks communication, lower military tension ahead of possible North Korea summit

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States may be looking more favorably at diplomatic engagement with North Korea, possibly holding dialogue, as South Korea pushes forward with plans to establish grounds for a rare summit between the two Koreas.

Vice President Mike Pence said in a newspaper interview the United States and South Korea had agreed on terms for further diplomatic engagement with North Korea, first with Seoul and then possibly leading to direct talks with Washington without pre-conditions.

The prospect of talks comes after months of tension between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, with U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un trading insults and threats of destruction amid tightening sanctions from the United Nations.

Trump has at times questioned the purpose of further talks with the North after years of negotiations by previous U.S. administrations failed to halt the North’s weapons programs.

Last year, North Korea conducted dozens of missile launches and its sixth and largest nuclear test in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions as it pursues its goal of developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the United States.

Relations between the two Koreas have improved in recent weeks, with Pyongyang agreeing to send its highest ranking delegation ever to attend the Winter Olympic Games, being held in the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang.

The visit included an invitation for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to travel to Pyongyang for talks. Such a meeting, if it came about, would mark the first inter-Korea summit since 2007.

Speaking to the Washington Post aboard Air Force Two on his way home from the Games, Pence said Washington would keep up its “maximum pressure campaign” against Pyongyang but would be open to possible talks at the same time.

“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence was quoted on Sunday as saying. “So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”

A South Korean government official said Seoul’s stance was that separate talks with North Korea by South Korea and the United States should both lead the denuclearization of the North while sanctions and pressure continue to be applied.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks with president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, looks on after North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra’s performance in Seoul, South Korea, February 11, 2018. Yonhap via REUTERS

North Korea defends its weapons programs as essential to counter U.S. aggression, saying regular war drills between the United States and the South are preparations for invasion. The South hosts 28,500 U.S. troops, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war.

FAMILY TIES

South Korea said it will seek ways to continue engaging North Korea, including trying to arrange more reunions for families divided by the war and lowering military tensions.

The statement from the Ministry of Unification came after the North Korean delegation concluded its three-day visit.

Slideshow (2 Images)

The two Koreas are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict on the Korean peninsula ended in a ceasefire and not a truce.

“(The visit) shows that North Korea has a strong will to improve inter-Korean relations and that Pyongyang can make unprecedented and bold measures if deemed necessary,” the ministry said.

The visit of the delegation, which included North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, intrigued many in South Korea, but also met scepticism about the North’s willingness to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. North Korea has said it will never give up its nuclear deterrent and critics in the South see its participation in the Games as a reward for bad behavior.

The South’s Unification Ministry said steps to improve ties would be led by the two Koreas, but with the support of the international community.

“Under a strong position for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Korea will faithfully implement the international sanctions on North Korea, while also adhering to the principle of resolution through peaceful means,” the statement said.

Kim Yo Jong and her delegation spent three days dining with top government officials, watching the opening ceremony and cheering for the united women’s ice hockey team the two Koreas have fielded at this Olympics.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach will visit North Korea after the Games as part of an agreement between the IOC and North and South Korea, a source within the Olympic movement told Reuters on Monday.

Reporting by Christine Kim in SEOUL and Matt Spetalnick in WASHINGTON; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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Homeland Security: Some Muslims Should Be Under Long-term Surveillance

A report by the Department of Homeland Security urges authorities to “track” Sunni Muslim immigrants judged to have “at-risk” demographic profiles on a “long-term basis.”

The draft report, obtained by Foreign Policy Magazine[1], studied 25 terrorist attacks in the United States between October 2001 and December 2017 and concluded that there would be “great value for the United States Government in dedicating resources to continuously evaluate persons of interest.”

In the report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection identified a broad cross-section of Sunni Muslim residents as being potentially “vulnerable to terrorist narratives.”

That conclusion was based on risk factors such as being young, male, and having come to the U.S. from “the Middle East, South Asia or Africa.”

If the report’s recommendations are implemented, it would significantly expand the Trump administration’s policies toward Muslim immigrants, from those trying to enter the United States to those already legally in the country.

The national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, said the draft “ignores the main extremist threat to our nation — that of violence committed by white supremacists.”

References

  1. ^ obtained by Foreign Policy Magazine (foreignpolicy.com)