Under the Radar News…Vladimir Putin, North Koreans and Far-Right Intrigue in Austria

Folks,

If you want to take a good look at Russia’s actions over the past week or so, you’ll need to start in Austria. Austria, like much of Europe, is consumed with choosing the lesser of two evils between Islamism and Russian influence. For co-dependent (one might, uncharitably, say “emasculated”) EU countries like Austria, it does not appear politically, culturally or diplomatically strong enough to keep both evils at bay. And it has friendlier relations with Moscow than any Islamic entity — Putin had never even met Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl when he flew out to attend her wedding. But when the Putin-friendly Freedom Party directs raids on the Austrian “FBI” (technically the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, or Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung, or BVT) unit specializing in “extremism”, is pretty brazen. The raid was carried out by Austrian street cops and netted 19 gigabytes of data, including dirt on right-wing groups with ties to Vice Chancellor and Freedom Party leader Heinz Strache. For one thing, the Freedom Party is in charge of the BVT (which has led to speculation that this was a heavy-handed attempt to replace the BVT’s hierarchy with Freedom Party members). For another, the reasons for the search warrant appear to be rather flimsy — among them are the failure to properly dispose of information scheduled for deletion, and, um, working with the South Korean government to forge blank North Korean passports in Austria as part of a larger espionage operation against the Norks. Not sure what part of the latter was illegal. A court is deciding on it in the next few days and a parliamentary inquiry is scheduled for next month. Answers should be forthcoming.

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Under the Radar News…New Mexico Jihadists, Jedi Mind Tricks, and What Chinese Aggression Can Teach “Woke Charlotte”

Folks,

You may remember that last week, I led off with the New Mexico jihadist school shooting training compound (which really sounds like some newsworthy, supercharged SEO verbiage). I say that you “may” remember it because that story has disappeared from the landscape faster than neo-Nazis 25 through 50 trying to make it Unite the Right 2. It shouldn’t. The incident has farther reaching implications than most Americans will know or most reporters are willing to investigate. Radical jihadists squatting on their neighbor’s land, inexplicable FBI incompetence, Women’s March founder Linda Sarsour, rampant child abuse and brainwashing, the corpse of a four-year old boy, the failure to seize guns, video cameras and a laptop for the upcoming prosecution; a 21st Century Waco situation miraculously avoided. This story warrants every bit of investigation and transparency as the Las Vegas shooting, Flight MH370, and the Trump collusion case. It doesn’t seem to be getting it.

Speaking on politically incorrect threats, a British citizen was arrested in the UK for driving his car into Parliament Square, targeting cyclists and pedestrians during rush hour. He was in London to apply for a Sudanese visa. Who knows, he might still get it.

Can you handle one more outrage from the UK? It’s gotten a lot of press in the UK; not as much here. Far-left kook (and Labor party leader) Jeremy Corbyn has taken a lot of heat for holding a wreath at the plaque for the Black September terrorists who slaughtered the Israeli Olympic team at Munich in 1972. Though Corbyn attempted some backpeddling, this sort of thing is not new for Corbyn who is a fairly well-established anti-Semite. Probably didn’t help that Corbyn flashed the hand sign for the Muslim Brotherhood as well. There is plenty of well-deserved coverage of powerful far-right nuts in both Europe and the US. This serves as a good reminder that there are plenty of powerful left-wing ones as well. And that both left and right wingers are moving to the extremes.

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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?

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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?

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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