Under the Radar World News…aka Jihadist School Shooters, Russian Movie Villains and Chasing Hamza

Folks,

Biggest under-reported story of the week has to be the compound discovered in New Mexico where five adults were starving and abusing 11 underage children with the intent of developing them into school shooters. Hm. Abused children, remote compound, school shooter training…shouldn’t this be clickbait for every eyeball-starved news organization? Well the adults were, ahem, Muslim. In fact the children of a Brooklyn-based imam. Not just any imam. An unindicted co-conspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Look, reasonable people can agree that Trump is a goon. But can reasonable people also not agree that when the media buries or obfuscates stories like this to fit their own narratives, they don’t do themselves any favors?

Speaking of whacked-out terrorists, what happens when a pair of romantic, idealistic American cyclists are confronted by ISIS adherents in Tajikistan? They get run over and then stabbed to death. Why, what did you think was going to happen?

Continue reading at Medium

Under The Radar…aka What China’s Surveillance State, ISIS Recruitment, and Oxfam’s Orgies have to do with System of A Down, Ricardo Montalban, and the Fourth Planet Hollywood Investor

Folks,

I remember when System of A Down released, “B.Y.OB.” I remember driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, tanned from a day at the beach and a belly full of surf and turf while Serge Tankian screamed, “And we all live in a fascist nation!” This was 2006. I remember thinking I liked SOAD more for their music than for their astute grasp of political philosophy. On that note, let’s jump ahead to present-day China, where 850,000 informants work the streets in Beijing alone. Biometric enrollment required for admission to scenic parks or mountains. Facial recognition done by CCTV, drones and police sunglasses. Corporatism. Gait recognition. A “social credit system” where each citizen accrues a score based on past behavior — and reaps rewards or discrimination based on it. The subjugation of an entire Muslim province. Surveillance on schoolchildren to catch cheaters, those that don’t pay attention in class, and make note of food eaten or not eaten on a daily basis. And thanks to China’s One Belt One Road initiative, it is coming to China’s de facto colonies. Expect to see this technology and this behavior increasing in Uganda, DRC, South Sudan, and even Somalia. It is already making an appearance in Zimbabwe. Now, that’s what I call fascism. What word would Serge Tankian use?

Continue reading at Medium

Under the Radar…aka The Coolest Stories You Missed During the Helsinki Hangover

Folks,

The hangover from Helsinki continued this week, meaning most people who were outraged in the first 24 hours after Trump met Putin have now moved on to Tweeting about Justin Bieber’s engagement and Instagramming from the beach to calm their nerves. It’s a pity, because this week was awash in eye-popping stories that didn’t make A1 in the dailies.

Count me as one of those who thought that Trump would, if nothing else, be tough on China. But, in one of the biggest stories of the week, Trump manages to only give Chinese company (and Chinese intelligence enabler) ZTE a slap on the wrist. I was, then, one of those who counted on the bipartisan outrage about his decision resulting in tougher treatment for ZTE. Nope — after heavy lobbying, Congress thought better of that too. So you can expect to see Chinese tech with histories of backdoors, viruses and a direct line to Chinese intelligence in our market soon. This is hardly the only significant Chinese offense being discussed this week. China has been using exit bans for leverage over US citizens (usually of Chinese heritage). The Chinese can and, apparently do, force the ex-pats to cooperate in investigations or coerce their Chinese family members to return to China. This should be a huge story — and, after Congress’ towering feat of cowardice with ZTE, it may have to be for China to be held at all accountable. Don’t bank on it seeing too much daylight, however. The Daily Beast’s Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian explains that both “the Chinese government and Chinese companies, often with close state ties, have retained lobbying and public-relations firms in the Beltway, in some cases hiring former U.S. officials as personal lobbyists.” Want names? How about former House speaker John Boehner, former U.S. ambassador to China Clark Randt, and former CIA Beijing station chief Randall Phillips?

The story of Russian influence in our government is significant (here is this week’s reminder that it doesn’t begin with Trump). But Chinese influence is even more significant…

Continue reading at Medium

Under the Radar…aka Things That Happened the Week of the Facepalm in Helsinki

Folks,

I’m typing this with one hand, since I need the other to press a frozen steak against my still-sore noggin. Such is the price for enforcing my own deadlines while Trump went to Helsinki (which is the sequel to Trump Goes to London — 18 rating on Rotten Tomatoes! Though my favorite of the European Trump-cation series has always been First Trump, Part II). Bottom line, I have low expectations for this update. Which is a shame, because there were some epic stories on the webs this week.

Например…

Westerners generally lack skepticism about the lengths Russian intelligence is willing to go. There are many ways to rectify this, but the most entertaining way is to take a look at the State Department’s files on Soviet active measuresfrom September 1983. Kinda like downing a kale smoothie that tastes like mint chocolate chip, it’s like reading 20 movie plots without realizing it’s a Cold War history book.

Speaking of thrilling reads, what do the hacking of the DNC servers, police brutality in Florida, catfishing, Russian intelligence, doxing and a former Marine have in common? This story. Read it. And buy the movie rights. Seriously.

Continue reading at Medium

Under the Radar News…aka Things that Happened While You Talked about Potential Supreme Court Picks at a BBQ

Folks,

Here’s hoping you enjoyed the 4th of July, even if you think that whole American Revolution thing was a mistake.

Imagine you have two harmless ingredients which, when combined, become more powerful than VX gas. Imagine it is undetectable in most chemical security testings. Imagine it is deadly to the touch. Imagine it can absorb into any soft surface, from park benches to leather. Imagine it can remain lethal for years. The bad news is that you don’t need to imagine it — it is Novichok(or “newcomer”). The worse news is that the Russians have deployed it once in an attempt to kill double agent and UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter. This week’s news is that two innocent people in the same area have died from Novichok, leading to speculation that they came in contact with the substance. The ramifications are endless: the Russians have a fear-inducing weapon; Novichok’s benign ingredients make it ideal for travel; the Russians have a network of interested buyers, or the Russians could simply keep it for themselves — they have plenty of their own enemies, after all. All in all, this is a bad-news cocktail. Good thing that whole chemical weapon “redline” thing has gone the way of the 1980s, huh? Maybe it makes sense that the the Syrian rebels have decided the better part of valor is to meet with the Russians in attempts to appease them.

Continue reading at Medium

War Journal – Central Africa, Part II

The following is the war journal of Pedro Evasco, Chief Warrant Officer 2, 3rd Special Forces Group, US Army. This is part two of twelve. It is fiction. But not totally.

25 June

Fucking amazing sleep. Our compound overlooks Lake Victoria — did I mention that? Slept naked and solo in my room. Fucking wind felt amazing all night. My sinuses are cleared out, man, feel much fucking better. Katie and the kids are like 8,000 miles and six months away. No use getting burned up over what happened yet.

They assigned us a fleet of cars with drivers. At about 0500, I could hear all the drivers pull up and start to gab. They didn’t give a fuck. I eyed my shoe for a minute and thought about throwing it out the window at them, but let it go. That fucking air, man. All you want to do is sleep, fuck and eat.

I bought a new suit before we left Fayetteville. They haven’t found me an office yet. Didn’t matter too much since I was making time with the Old Man, a bunch of staff guys and going from briefing to briefing.

Should say something about the Old Man.

Continue reading at Medium

 

View story at Medium.com

War Journal – Central Africa, Part I

The following is the war journal of Pedro Evasco, Chief Warrant Officer 2, 3rd Special Forces Group, US Army. This is part one of twelve. It is fiction. But not totally.

24 June, 2016

I’m guilty. I’m so fucking guilty. I’m know what Katie would say. I can see that broken look on her face. I can hear her fucking sisters comforting her and promising to rush over right now to wrap their arms around her.

Goddamn. Goddamn. I knew better. I fucking knew better. I don’t wanna do this right now. So I’m gonna pussy out and just tell you everything else.

Continue reading at Medium...

Under the Radar from the Week of the Red Hen

Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, the World Cup and the Red Hen consumed most of the past week’s news cycle, and the rest was spent on LeBron James, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ surprise primary win. In other words, it wasn’t a real fun week for the foreign intrigue or national security minded among us. So, in the spirit of self-indulgence, I came up with the most oxygen-deprived stories of the past week or so.

I firmly believe most of the nefarious activity in the world can be traced back to Russia, China and Iran (there are good arguments about including Saudi Arabia and North Korea too, but I’ll put those aside for now). I am not trying to convince anyone about this, but it’s hard to track this stuff each week and not see the linkages. For example, the Chinese use organized crime to mess with Taiwan and Hong Kong. But then the Chinese also manipulate American small businesses to gain leverage inside our borders. Remember when the Chinese hacked the Office of Personnel Management a few years back (in what may be the most casually reported act of espionage of all time)? Now the victims are losing their identities

Continue reading at Havok Journal

Can Only Sean Connery Only Live Twice?

“M: Sit down, 007.
James: Thank you, sir.
M: No ill effects?
James: None at all, sir.
M: Well now that you’re dead, perhaps some of your old friends will pay a little less attention to you for a while. Give you more elbow room. You’ll need it, too.” – You Only Live Twice (1967)”

Journalist Arkady Babchenko had pissed off the Russians many times.  Being a former Russian soldier himself doubtless kept him very much in Putin’s gaze. But, according to the Ukranian Security Service (Sluzhba Bespeky Ukrayiny, or SBU), Putin’s Sauron-like eye narrowed on him considerably in early 2018. The SBU informed Babchenko of a credible, Russian-backed threat against his life, at which point Babchenko had three options: take the chance that Russians with the motives, means, opportunity and stated desire to kill him weren’t serious; devise his own plot to foil any attempt on his life; or cooperate with the SBU to stage his death as a means to expose the network behind his potential assassination. We know now that Babchenko chose Door Three. And many bien pensants are in a tizzy. Per Al-Jazeera, a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) spokeswomen stated that “CPJ takes quite a dim view of law enforcement impersonating journalists. Now, with Arkady Babchenko basically acting as a police asset, one clear damage is to public trust for the media and for journalists.” Former NSA spook John Schindler writes, “playing the Western media for fools and taking advantage of their newfound interest in Russian terrorism abroad was terribly short-sighted….Putin’s regime lies nonstop anyway, and this gives Russia’s rancid lies a smidge of credibility.”

Continue reading at Havok Journal

Under the Radar…June 14

 

Folks,

You could fill a library with the tales of Chinese influence in the US and, for that matter, in the UN. And if you do, you’ll want to reserve a place for a book or two on Ng Lap Seng. In the meantime, it’s a rare, clear-cut (and long overdue) positive that Trump appears to be targeting Chinese IP theft. That said, it might be too little, too late. One example? China’s lithium production. Just another reminder that while the West wrings its hands over non-binary genders or identity politics and intersectionalism, China is ruthlessly marching toward control of global natural resources. And it is a multi-front march; we continue to suffer from Chinese penetration of US intelligence (and military intelligence).

If Jon Stewart is right and the American Left sees Russia news more as a blunt instrument to wield against Trump than an actual threat in its own right, they are missing things both dangerous and fascinating. What other country produces quality hitmen and crusading anti-sex trade MMA fighters? What other country gives Steven Seagal  the most work he’s had since 1993? What other country manipulates both Interpol and Guatemala to pursue its enemies? For every promising development, Russia’s SIGINT is working overtime on POTUS, proving you don’t necessarily need Manafort to keep tabs on Trump.

Mainstream American journalism has suffered a lot of self-inflicted wounds, but perhaps none more so than the loss of foreign bureaus and the lack of reporters with experience and/or interest in foreign affairs. When twenty-something reporters and pundits view the world only through the two-dimensional lens of binary, zero-sum Beltway politics, a lot of nuance and intrigue is going to fall outside of the aperture. But even so, it remains, at the very least, disappointing that continued revelations of the Obama administration’s duplicity in the Iran deal continues to evade widespread scrutiny. I know, at this point, all outrage over the Iran deal feels dated. Almost as much as a new revelation about Carter Page or Paul Manafort would. But, dated or not, the importance of the issue shouldn’t be subject to an ADD news cycle. I mean, even if the Iran deal hadn’t been an underhanded play, it has been rapidly failing even by its own standards.

On the positive side, there is encouraging news from Germany, where the domestic intelligence agency of Baden-Wurttemberg declared the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement anti-Semitic and a security threat. You’ve heard of BDS. BDS has garnered pop culture support from both aspiring geniuses such as Russell Brand and actual geniuses who have drifted far outside their lanes (Stephen Hawking, Roger Waters). While BDS should have been suspect to anyone with either an ounce of experience or an ounce of pop media skepticism, it is heartening to see even the uber-PC Germans grow hip to the nefarious propaganda of the radicalized pro-Palestine crowd. Iran comes under some degree of scrutiny as well. German neo-Nazi group and BDS advocate The Third Way has significant  ties to both Iran-funded Hezbollah and Iran’s Syrian puppet Bashar al-Assad. Food for thought for those who think Western neo-Nazis are only a domestic issue.

While we’re talking about Russian and Iranian interests when will the NY Times release the “ISIS files“?

Are you bored with hearing about Russia, China or Iran? How about a little Pink Panther-like diversion?

Columbine is the one that started it all. If you still have the stomach to read about school shootings, here are some of the debunked myths about the attack.

Lastly, I know Emma Watson is all fired up about the lack of women in STEM jobs globally and all. But maybe she should focus on women’s lack basic civil liberties in her own country first? Who would have thought that a goon like Tommy Robinson is fighting against the forcible rapes of British women more than the whole #metoo movement?

Talk at you next week…