UK to Deploy Troops After Attack

May 23rd, 2017

Via: Reuters:

Britain’s armed forces will be deployed to boost security, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday, as the country raised its terror threat to the highest level of “critical” after a suicide attack in Manchester that killed 22 people, including children.

May said members of the armed forces would be positioned at key sites to free up police for patrols and military personnel might be deployed at public events such as concerts and sports events as a further attack was seen as potentially imminent.

May said the independent body which sets the threat level had recommended it be raised from “severe” after a man named by police as Salman Abedi set off an improvised bomb on Monday night as crowds streamed out of a concert.

“It is now concluded on the basis of today’s investigations that the threat level should be increased for the time being from severe to critical,” she said in a televised statement after a meeting of the government’s crisis response committee.

“This means that their assessment is not only that an attack remains highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent.”

Britain’s international terror threat level was last at the critical level in June 2007.


Daimler Begins Construction on Lithium-Ion Battery Factory in Germany

May 22nd, 2017

Via: Ars Technica:

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the site of a future lithium-ion battery factory in the eastern German town of Kamenz. The factory is being developed by Mercedes-Benz manufacturer Daimler, which will devote approximately €500 million (or $562 million) to churning out batteries for electric vehicles and stationary storage.

If the project seems similar to Tesla’s Nevada-based Gigafactory, you wouldn’t be alone in making that comparison. Tesla and Panasonic partnered to devote $5 billion to building a lithium-ion battery factory outside of Reno, Nevada, and the electric-car maker has said it hopes to produce 35 gigawatt-hours of auto and stationary batteries by 2018.

Daimler didn’t give any projections for its factory’s potential capacity, but it did say that its investment would quadruple the size of an existing battery factory on the site, which is run by Accumotive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler. The German automaker is also pledging another €500 million to expand battery production worldwide. And if all goes well at the Kamenz site, Daimler says it will “go into operation in mid-2018.”


Manchester Arena Blast

May 22nd, 2017

Update: BBC:

Twenty-two people have been killed and 59 injured in what Theresa May called an “appalling, sickening, terrorist attack” at Manchester Arena.

A lone male suicide attacker set off a homemade bomb in the foyer at 22:33 BST on Monday at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

Via: Guardian:

At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 injured after reports of an explosion in the foyer area of a crowded Manchester concert hall, which left hundreds of people fleeing in terror.

Police said they were dealing with a possible terror incident which happened at the Manchester Arena, with witnesses claiming to have heard an explosion around 10.40pm. It was feared last night that the death toll may be significant.

Counter-terrorism officials were assessing what caused the explosion. Investigators from the police and the domestic security service MI5 were part of the investigation.

Greater Manchester police said there were a “number of confirmed fatalities and others injured” with scores of emergency service vehicles rushing to the scene.


Kim Dotcom Claims Seth Rich Was WikiLeaks Source

May 22nd, 2017

Via: Kim Dotcom / Twitter:


U.S.-Saudi Arabia Weapons Deal Worth $350 billion Over 10 Years

May 21st, 2017

Update: Ivanka Trump’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund Takes $100 Million from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates

From BAE to Settle Bribery Cases for More Than $400 Million:

This is right out of Yes, Minister – The Moral Dimension.

Here’s an audio clip from that episode. Note that the name of the “fictional” company is BES, British Electronic Systems *wink*:

Via: New York Post:

President Trump’s first foreign trip brought a big benefit to his daughter’s pet project.

As Trump traveled the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $100 million to a fund for women entrepreneurs proposed by Ivanka Trump, according to a report.

The massive donation comes in spite of Trump, as a presidential candidate, criticizing rival Hillary Clinton for letting her charity take funds from the Saudis.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. would donate to the Women Entrepreneurs Fund, a program Ivanka Trump pitched to World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and has discussed with several world leaders.

The fund’s money will be controlled by World Bank, not Ivanka, but she continues fundraising for it even while serving as an adviser to her father and traveling with him to meet foreign diplomats.

Research Credit: quintanus

Via: CNBC:

The United States sealed a multi-billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia, the White House announced on Saturday, a move that solidifies its decades-long alliance with the world’s largest energy producer just as President Donald Trump begins his maiden trip abroad as leader of the free world.

The agreement, which is worth $350 billion over 10 years and $110 billion that will take effect immediately, was hailed by the White House as “a significant expansion of…[the] security relationship” between the two countries.


CIA Malware for All Versions of Windows

May 20th, 2017

Via: WikiLeaks:

Today, May 19th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes documents from the “Athena” project of the CIA. “Athena” – like the related “Hera” system – provides remote beacon and loader capabilities on target computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system (from Windows XP to Windows 10). Once installed, the malware provides a beaconing capability (including configuration and task handling), the memory loading/unloading of malicious payloads for specific tasks and the delivery and retrieval of files to/from a specified directory on the target system. It allows the operator to configure settings during runtime (while the implant is on target) to customize it to an operation.

According to the documentation (see Athena Technology Overview), the malware was developed by the CIA in cooperation with Siege Technologies, a self-proclaimed cyber security company based in New Hampshire, US. On their website, Siege Technologies states that the company “… focuses on leveraging offensive cyberwar technologies and methodologies to develop predictive cyber security solutions for insurance, government and other targeted markets.”. On November 15th, 2016 Nehemiah Security announced the acquisition of Siege Technologies.


A Quarter Of American Adults Can’t Pay All Their Monthly Bills; 44% Have Less Than $400 In Cash

May 20th, 2017

Via: ZeroHedge:

Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it. Troubling as this statistic remains, the overall share of adults who would struggle to come up with $400 in a pinch has declined by 2% from the last survey conducted in 2015, and down 6% since 2013.

Of the group that could not pay in cash, 45% said they would go further in debt and use a credit card to pay off the expense over time. while a quarter would borrow from friends of family, and another 27% just couldn’t pay the expense. Others would turn to selling items or using a payday loan.


U.S. Special Forces Expanding Shadow War in Africa

May 20th, 2017

Via: Vice:

Six years ago, a deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Special Operations Command gave a conservative estimate of 116 missions being carried out at any one time by Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and other special operations forces across the globe.

Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time — in Africa alone. It’s the latest sign of the military’s quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent, one that represents the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe.

In 2006, just 1 percent of all U.S. commandos deployed overseas were in Africa. In 2010, it was 3 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent. In fact, according to data supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command, there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East — 1,700 people spread out across 20 countries dedicated to assisting the U.S. military’s African partners in their fight against terrorism and extremism.

“At any given time, you will find SOCAFRICA conducting approximately 96 activities in 20 countries,” Donald Bolduc, the U.S. Army general who runs the special operations command in Africa (SOCAFRICA), wrote in an October 2016 strategic planning guidance report. (The report was obtained by VICE News in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and is published in its entirety below.)


Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt

May 19th, 2017

Via: Bloomberg:

The federal government has, in recent years, paid debt collectors close to $1 billion annually to help distressed borrowers climb out of default and scrounge up regular monthly payments. New government figures suggest much of that money may have been wasted.

Nearly half of defaulted student-loan borrowers who worked with debt collectors to return to good standing on their loans defaulted again within three years, according to an analysis by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For their work, debt collectors receive up to $1,710 in payment from the U.S. Department of Education each time a borrower makes good on soured debt through a process known as rehabilitation. They keep those funds even if borrowers subsequently default again, contracts show. The department has earmarked more than $4.2 billion for payments to its debt collectors since the start of the 2013 fiscal year, federal spending data show.


Stanford Professor: Fossil-Fuel Vehicles Will Vanish in 8 Years in Twin ‘Death Spiral’ for Big Oil and Big Autos

May 18th, 2017

I very seriously doubt it.

Via: Financial Post:

No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.

This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries.

Seba’s premise is that people will stop driving altogether. They will switch en masse to self-drive electric vehicles (EVs) that are ten times cheaper to run than fossil-based cars, with a near-zero marginal cost of fuel and an expected lifespan of 1 million miles.

Only nostalgics will cling to the old habit of car ownership. The rest will adapt to vehicles on demand. It will become harder to find a petrol station, spares, or anybody to fix the 2,000 moving parts that bedevil the internal combustion engine. Dealers will disappear by 2024.

Cities will ban human drivers once the data confirms how dangerous they can be behind a wheel. This will spread to suburbs, and then beyond. There will be a “mass stranding of existing vehicles”. The value of second-hard cars will plunge. You will have to pay to dispose of your old vehicle.

It is a twin “death spiral” for big oil and big autos, with ugly implications for some big companies on the London Stock Exchange unless they adapt in time.

Report: Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the Internal-Combustion Vehicle and Oil Industries


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