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Suicide bombing kills at least 20 in Kabul, including 16 police officers

KABUL  A day of tensions between police and shopkeepers in the Afghan capital took a deadly turn on Thursday 4th Jan, when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing at least 20 people, including 16 members of the city’s police forces, officials said. Police had raided shops in the Banayee neighborhood on Wednesday 3rd Jan, on suspicion that their owners were selling illicit substances including alcohol and hashish, said Najib Danish, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry. On Thursday,  4 Jan, the shopkeepers took to the streets in protest, alleging that the police had killed one of them. When the police returned to the scene, the suicide bomber detonated the blast. Hours later, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through the group’s own news service, Amaq.

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At Least 19 Dead After Overnight Battle at Kabul Hotel

Jan. 20, 2018 | KABUL (Reuters) – Gunmen in army uniforms who stormed Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel and battled Afghan Special Forces through the night killed at least 19 people and wounded 12 more, although the final toll of dead and wounded may still be higher. All five attackers were also killed, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said. Local airline Kam Air said around 40 of its pilots and air crew, many of whom are foreigners, were staying in the hotel and as many as 10 had been killed. Local media reports said the dead included Venezuelans and Ukrainians.

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‘Suicide bomber in ambulance kills at 100, wounds over 150, one of the deadliest attacks of Afghanistan war

Afghanistan (27-1-2018):  The explosion was the third high-profile attack in Afghanistan in a week, and the deadliest this year, highlighting the fragile security situation in the country, more than 16 years after a U.S. invasion ousted the Taliban from power. The vehicle made it past a checkpoint in a heavily secured area near the capital’s Sadarat Square  about half a mile from the US Embassy and NATO’s Resolute Support headquarters  before being stopped at a second checkpoint, where it exploded, Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul Police said. It was lunchtime and many people were in the street.

The Taliban claimed responsibility and said the bombing targeted a building used by the Interior Ministry and High Peace Council, a body set up in 2010 to negotiate with insurgents.

Survivors Describe Scenes Of Horror Three Days After Hotel Attack

An Afghan lawmaker has raised questions about how insurgents knew which room he lived in after they blew open his door. Footage received by TOLO news from inside the hotel shows that the attackers had used explosives to blow open hotel room doors and then sprayed the rooms with bullets  killing and wounding the people inside.

Survivors also said money and mobile phones that they had in their rooms had gone missing after the attack. But survivors say the scanners were not working in the lead up to the attack.

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Five Afghan Soldiers Killed  wounded 10 in  IS- Attack On Army Post

Kabul: 29-1-2018 | The Afghan Defense Ministry said that, a suicide bomber first attacked the unit responsible for guarding the Marshal Fahim Military Academy, then the other insurgents engaged soldiers in a gunbattle that killed at least five Afghan soldiers.

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As many as 51 killed, 9000 injured in unrest after Burhan Wani’s killing: J-K govt

July 2016  Feb 2017: J-K govt. Confirms 6221 pellet injuries, 2449 eye injuries in Occupied Kashmir

By: PTI | Jammu |  January 12, 2018

In a written reply to the question of a National Conference MLA in the state Assembly, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that, 51 people were killed and over 9,000 injured, including over 6,000 due to pellets, during the eight months-long unrest in Kashmir after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani from July  2016. She said 9,042 people were injured in firing of bullets, pellets, pava-shells and others during the period.

Of these, 6,221 were injured due to pellets, 368 due to bullets, four due to pava shells and 2,449 suffered other injuries, she said. As many as 782 suffered eye injuries of which 510 were hospitalised, she said, adding that 5,197 cases of pellet injuries were treated at district hospitals and the rest were referred to super speciality hospitals.  The highest number of deaths-16-took place in Anantnag district followed by 13 in Kulgam district, 7 in Pulwama and 5 in Kupwara, Mufti added.

 ‘Indian Express’

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Daesh declares war on Palestine’s Hamas resistance movement

Cairo JANUARY 5, 2018 : The Egyptian wing of Daesh Takfiri terrorists has released a new execution video, declaring war on the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement based in Gaza. The video released, purports to show the execution of a man who Daesh claims cooperated with Hamas’ armed wing. In October, the Palestinian resistance movement arrested four senior Daesh terrorists in Sinai.

In July 2015, Daesh released a video saying that it would overthrow Hamas “tyrants” for their perceived lack of religious rulings in Gaza. Takfiri groups such as Daesh have never attacked Israel despite operating close to Syria’s borders with the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel is widely believed to be supporting terrorists in Syria by launching airstrikes against various targets there from time to time.  ‘ Agencies’

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U.S. Freezes More Than Half Of Aid To U.N. Agency For Palestinian Refugees

(17 Jan. 2018) The State Department is withholding $65 million it planned to send to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, calling for reforms and for other nations to step up their support  especially those that criticize the Trump administration’s positions regarding Palestinians and Israel. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East had stood to receive $125 million in U.S. Funding.

Instead, the State Department will send $60 million, money that State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said is meant “to sustain schools and health services to ensure that teachers and also health care providers can be paid their salaries.”

The funding freeze comes weeks after the U.S. was soundly rejected in its attempts to block a nonbinding resolution in the U.N. that called for countries not to move their embassies to Jerusalem  as President Trump pledged to do in early December.

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Iran oil tanker explodes, sinks off China with no survivors

January 14, 2018 | TEHRAN, Iran  The Sanchi, carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil, has been in flames since colliding with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai.

Sanchi, carrying nearly 1 million barrels of a gassy, ultra-light oil bound for South Korea, burst into flame. The collision and disaster of the Sanchi, which carried 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, had transfixed an Iran still reeling from days of protests and unrest that swept the country at the start of the year.

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Twin suicide bombings in Iraq’s capital Baghdad kill 38, leave 105 wounded

15 January, 2018 : The attackers struck during rush hour in the city’s Tayran Square, which is usually crowded by labourers seeking work. The twin explosions also wounded at least 105 people, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to the media.  The twin explosions shocked residents in the Iraqi capital because large attacks had decreased significantly in Baghdad and other parts of country since security forces retook nearly all territory once held by IS militants.

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Twin car bombs kill at least 27 in Libya’s Benghazi

24-1-2018 :  Agence France-Presse | The death toll following a double car bomb attack in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday night has risen to at least 27. A further 20 people were injured. An explosives-rigged vehicle blew up in front of a mosque in the central neighbourhood of Al-Sleimani, a security source said.

A second car exploded 30 minutes later in the same area, causing more casualties among security services and civilians. The mosque is known to be a base for Salafist groups which fought jihadists in the eastern port city alongside forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch”  to remove PYD/PKK  from Afrin, in the north Syria

With Turkish Military Invasion, the Americans Are Once Again Trapped in Syria

Jan. 20th 2017:  Turkey’s military, the second largest in NATO, has conducted air strikes and artillery barrages against targets in Afrin, and its soldiers and allied Syrian rebels have tried to push into the Kurdish-held district from west, north and eastern flanks.

Erdoğan says Afrin operation will ensure safety, security of Syrians Plans for Afrin operation Olive Branch  started three months ago

İsmail Metin Temel, who is a 2nd Army Command General oversaw preparations that preceded the Afrin operation. After the coordination and joint operation concept was put in place, the green light to start preparation was given three months before the start of Operation Olive Branch. After receiving orders to start preparations for the operation, Temel frequently monitored the “extensively well-prepared” plans on the ground and was personally in charge of the preparations of Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) personnel and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces. Since the mid-1980s, the PKK has waged a wide-ranging terror campaign against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed.

Thousands of Syrian Rebels Backed by Turkey Say Kurds Now Face Payback

Syrian Rebels see the battle to wrest control of the northern Kurdish enclave of Afrin and outlying Arab villages as vengeance for the coordination they allege took place in February 2016 between the YPG and Russian-backed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an offensive to encircle Aleppo. That offensive saw the YPG grab the opportunity to seize a string of Arab villages and towns in northern Syria to the southeast of Afrin, including traditionally Arab Tell Rifaat. “The problem is not only that the Kurdish fighters cooperated with the Syrian regime and the Russians during the battle for Aleppo, but that the YPG burned dozens of Arab villages and displaced their inhabitants,” Gen. Salim Idris, a former rebel chief of staff, told .

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The United States: Addicted to Special Forces

By:  Belen Fernandez

The Special Operations forces of the United States – currently 70,000-strong and thus larger than the regular militaries of many sizable countries – occupy a very special place in US national mythology. According to TIME Magazine, Special Ops “heroes” are the “planet’s most skillful soldiers” and “toughest warriors” – operating in their very own “secret world”.  Newsweek hails them as “dead accurate, lethal and all-but-silent. They are the military’s elite – highly trained badasses armed with bullets and brains in equal measure”.

The obsequious glorification of “badass” warriors is of course hardly surprising, given that US society has been inculcated to view international relations as a sort of video game in which the US gets points for blowing things up. ore surprising, perhaps, are the dimensions of the oh-so-secretive world.

In a recent dispatch, investigative journalist and author Nick Turse reveals that Special Operations forces were active in no fewer than 149 countries in 2017 – meaning that the “secret world” has managed to encompass 75 percent of the globe. This record high is courtesy of US President Donald Trump, that self-appointed “very stable genius” who is now building on the special forces frenzy fuelled by his predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Exempt from scrutiny : The US Special Operations Command was officially established in 1987, but the appeal of its services grew considerably among the US political establishment in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Now, Turse writes, the push to further expand Special Operations “comes at a moment when [various US senators] continue to acknowledge how remarkably clueless they are about where those elite forces are deployed, and what exactly they are doing in far-flung corners of the globe”. He refers to the shock expressed by certain officials in Washington in 2017, following the news of the demise of four Special Operations commandos in the West African country of Niger.

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Russia’s newly-built supersonic strategic bomber Tupolev-160M

KAZAN, January 25. /TASS/. New Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber will strengthen Russia’s nuclear triad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after watching the aircraft perform a flight demonstration in the city of Kazan. “It is a serious step to advance the development of the high-tech industry and strengthen the country’s defense capabilities, because it is one of the elements of our nuclear triad,” Putin said while talking to workers at Kazan’s Gorbunov Aircraft Plant.

The Tupolev-160M will boast a new computerized control system, cockpit and navigation equipment, onboard communication complex, radar and radio-electronic countermeasure equipment. Control of the fuel consumption and balance system and engine operation will be improved. The upgrade will increase the effectiveness of Tupolev-160M by 60%. The plane is capable of flying 12,000 kilometers without refueling. In combination with the Ilyushin-78 tanker plane, which performed its first flight on in Ulyanovsk on January 25, 2018 the Tupolev-160M will have round-the-globe capability.  ‘Russian News Agency Tass

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India tests-fires Agni-V, a nuclear-capable ICBM

New Delhi : The nuclear-capable Agni-V is believed to be India’s most advanced ICBM. It was fired on Thursday 19 Jan. morning India time from Abdul Kalam island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha, the ministry said in a tweet. It called the test a “major boost” to the country’s defense capabilities.

‘Stepping up the complexity’

India is estimated to have around 120 to 130 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, according to the Federation of American Scientists, compared to several thousand for the US. Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT who studies nuclear proliferation, said Agni-V test did not demonstrate any “new capability, (this) was simply a developmental test before India inducts it into operational service.”

Narang said it’s possible I dia’s armed forces were testing the canister the missile is launched out of, as well as its ejection, flight performance and accuracy — a “regular technical test in that regard.” The Agni-V has been tested five times since 2012, with the most recent being in December 2016. That launch drew the ire of India’s two most important geostrategic adversaries: Pakistan and China.

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Entire China could soon be within India’s nuclear strike zone

By : Rajat Pandit |India Economic times

NEW DELHI: India is a step away from gate-crashing into the super-exclusive club of countries with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the successful “first pre-induction trial” of Agni-V that, with a range of over 5,000km, brings all of Asia, and thus China, within its nuclear strike capability.

Sources said India’s most formidable missile will undergo one more pre-induction trial “within this year” before it is inducted into the Agni-V regiment already raised by the Tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with the requisite command and control structures. Once that happens, India will rub shoulders with the US, the UK, Russia, China and France. While a belligerent North Korea has, over the last six-seven months, rattled the US with tests of its two new ICBMs  Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15  expert opinion is divided on whether they are fully operational and deployed as of now.

The missile’s canister launch version makes it deadlier because it gives the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport and fire the missile from anywhere they want. The SFC already has regiments of the Prithvi-II, Agni-I, Agni-II & Agni-III (see graphic) missiles, which are mainly meant to deter Pakistan. Agni-IV and Agni-V, in turn, have been developed with China in mind.

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India’s Nuclear Safeguards: Not Fit for Purpose

Author: John Carlson

Currently, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is considering India’s application for membership. In this context NSG members are reportedly discussing membership criteria for states not party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), including a requirement for clear and strict separation of current and future civilian nuclear facilities from non-civilian nuclear facilities. In this paper, John Carlson examines India’s Separation Plan and safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and shows that they do not meet this standard  that current arrangements create an unverified grey zone between military and civilian material, and are not sufficient to verify that India is not using safeguarded material to benefit military purposes. In light of these deficiencies, it seems unlikely there will be consensus within the NSG to admit India, unless the Separation Plan and the agreement are amended. The situation also has implications for Pakistan, which has raised concern about the strategic threat posed by India’s unsafeguarded materials and facilities and is also seeking to join the NSG. The paper discusses steps that should be taken to create a clear and verifiable separation between civilian and military nuclear materials and activities in India and to protect the integrity of IAEA safeguards.

(Discussion Paper (Cambridge, MA: Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, January 2018 )

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Modi is a close friend of Israel,  Netanyahu 6 Day  historic India tour in Delhi

14 Jan: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in New Delhi for the first visit by an Israeli leader to India in 15 years, promising closer ties with the regional power. Netanyahu will be only the second Israeli PM to visit India and the first since Ariel Sharon in 2003. “I very much appreciate the gesture,” Netanyahu said.

“Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations,” Modi said. During Netanyahu’s six-day stay the two countries are expected to sign agreements on cybersecurity, energy and space cooperation and film production, India’s External Affairs Ministry said.

Congress Mocks PM Modi With Hug Video, BJP Says Party At “Lowest Ebb”

The BJP has condemned a video tweeted by the official handle of the Congress that mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi with shots of his hugs with various world leaders. The Congress has lost its “sense and balance” and is at its “lowest ebb”, said senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar.

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Huge hospital blaze kills 41 in South Korea

SEOUL: A huge fire tore through a South Korean hospital Friday killing at least 41 people, reports said, in the country´s worst blaze for over a decade. More than 80 others were hurt in the blaze. The six-storey structure housed a nursing home as well as the hospital. Video footage and pictures showed the building engulfed by thick, dark smoke and surrounded by multiple fire trucks.

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Axact sold fake degrees to thousands of UK citizens: BBC

The investigation by the BBC Radio 4’s File on Four programme found that fake degrees were bought by National Health Service (NHS) consultants, nurses, and a large defence contractor in the UK, with one British citizen spending as much as £500,000 on bogus documents. According to the BBC, more than 3,000 fake Axact degrees were sold to UK-based buyers in 2013 and 2014, including master’s degrees, doctorates, and PhDs. The UK buyers included a consultant at a London teaching hospital who purchased a degree in internal medicine from the fake Belford University in 2007. A defence contractor, FB Heliservices, got seven of its employees, including two helicopter pilots, fake degrees from Axact between 2013 and 2015. The company has now has now branched out into extortion and blackmail, former FBI agent Allen Ezell, who has been investigating Axact since the 1980s, told the BBC.

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The truly alarming scale of the global ocean plastic crisis laid bare by Storm Eleanor

By : Patrick Scott , Data journalist | 9 JANUARY 2018

The masses of plastic dumped on the beaches of Cornwall by Storm Eleanor throws into stark relief the global crisis being caused by human rubbish in the world’s oceans. As the storm passed, pictures emerged of the picturesque Cornish coast left strewn with waste and its rockpools clogged with plastic. In recent years rising demand for single-use items such as food wrapping and bottled water has helped lead to us producing more plastic in the last decade than in the previous century. Fleeting conveniences such as disposable coffee cups can outlive their use in minutes, but take up to 450 years to degrade once discarded. The result is the world’s oceans are now choking with billions of tonnes of plastic.

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