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- 05/26/17--10:37: _Philippines' Dutert...
- 05/27/17--07:00: _A US attack on Nort...
- 05/27/17--07:00: _Hitler's secret Naz...
- 05/27/17--14:37: _Federal judge dismi...
- 05/27/17--15:46: _Iran's supreme lead...
- 05/28/17--08:27: _19 photos that prov...
- 05/29/17--05:00: _This is the one thi...
- 05/29/17--11:24: _This is the inside ...
- 05/29/17--17:47: _Senator McCain: Put...
- 05/31/17--12:50: _The US just shot do...
- 05/31/17--14:40: _The US now has 2 ai...
- 06/01/17--06:00: _Here are the areas ...
- 06/02/17--06:27: _German authorities ...
- 06/05/17--07:51: _Rebel forces say th...
- 06/05/17--08:08: _Unsure of the futur...
- 06/05/17--08:39: _The US may leave th...
- 06/05/17--09:30: _Lithuania erects bo...
- 06/05/17--13:10: _US sends third airc...
- 06/05/17--13:16: _Qatar may have paid...
- 06/06/17--06:00: _These haunting phot...
- 05/27/17--07:00: Hitler's secret Nazi war machines of World War II
- 05/29/17--05:00: This is the one thing veterans want you to know about Memorial Day
- 05/31/17--14:40: The US now has 2 aircraft carriers sitting off North Korea's coast
- 06/05/17--07:51: Rebel forces say they shot down a Syrian jet near Damascus
- 06/06/17--06:00: These haunting photo overlays capture the horrors of D-Day
Manila (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte joked Friday that soldiers could rape up to three women, as he reassured them of his full support under his newly imposed regional martial law.
Duterte, who often peppers his language with man-on-the-street curses, made the comments in jest during a speech at a military base to lift the spirits of troops tasked with quelling what he says is a fast-growing threat of Islamist terrorism.
"For this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible. Just do your work. I will handle the rest," he said.
"I will be imprisoned for you. If you rape three (women), I will say that I did it."
Duterte imposed martial law on Tuesday across the southern region of Mindanao in response to militants going on a deadly rampage through a city in the south and flying the black flags of the Islamic State group.
Duterte said the militants were planning to establish a caliphate for IS across all of Mindanao, home to 20 million people, and that martial law was the only way to crush the rebellion.
Duterte, 72, easily won presidential elections last year by presenting himself as in touch with ordinary Filipinos, often using street language full of profanities.
On the election campaign Duterte said he had two mistresses but jokingly reassured taxpayers that he would not cost them much if he was president because he took them to cheap, short-time hotels for sex.
Duterte also attracted controversy when he said he wanted to rape an Australian missionary who had been caught up in a 1989 prison riot in the Philippines and murdered by the inmates.
"There was this Australian lay minister. When they took them out, I saw her face and I thought, 'Son of a whore. What a pity. They raped her, they all lined up. I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first'," Duterte said in April last year.
The Australian and American ambassadors to Manila voiced their disapproval at the comments, but Duterte reacted furiously and insisted he had been taken out of context.
On the campaign trail Duterte also jokingly told voters to open funeral parlour businesses because as president he would fill them with corpses from a war on drugs.
Duterte did launch his drug war, and it has claimed thousands of lives.
As North Korea draws ever closer to possessing a nuclear weapon that could hit the US mainland, President Donald Trump and his top military advisers must weigh whether or not they'd launch a preemptive strike on North Korea and risk potentially millions of lives in the process.
But even though a US military strike on North Korea would be "tragic on an unbelievable scale,"according to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, that doesn't mean it's off the table.
At a National Committee on US-China Relations event in New York City, Samuel J. Locklear, the former head of the US military's Pacific Command made it clear: "Just because it's tragic doesn't mean he won't do it."
"If the national interests are high enough, and I think this is the mistake that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un needs really to think about, if you start pressing on an issue that has to do with the survival of the United States against a nuclear attack, the tragic becomes conceivable to stop it," said Locklear. "It could be tragic."
Adm. Timothy J. Keating, another former commander of Pacific Command, echoed Locklear's statement.
"There are a wide range of options" that are "readily available to the president and the secretary of defense resident in the planning warrens at Pacific command," Keating said at the event.
The discussion between two former top military commanders shows what a difficult situation the US is in with regard to North Korea. Pyongyang may wield up to 15 or so nuclear weapons, and they repeatedly threaten to use them against US forces, South Koreans, and Japanese.
Though the US has in place the world's most advanced missile defenses, there are no guarantees when it comes to stopping ballistic missiles. Even a single nuclear warhead touching down near Seoul could kill millions of innocent South Koreans in an instant.
Additionally, South Korea's new, progressive government would likely not approve of a military strike.
But the US has its own citizens to worry about. Experts contacted by Business Insider have spoken with near unanimity saying North Korea wants a thermonuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile to hold the US at risk.
What exactly the US military planners discuss behind closed doors rightly remains classified, but if they calculate that a relatively small tragedy today could avert a massive tragedy tomorrow, then the US may see war with North Korea at some point.
Earlier this month, the world reflected on the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe — when Hitler's Nazi army finally surrendered on what is now known as "Victor in Europe Day."
Hitler's engineers secretly developed some of the most ambitious projects and rapidly produced sophisticated technology decades before its time.
In the 2015 fall issue of Weapons of WWII magazine, author KM Lee detailed some of Hitler's advanced weaponry.
Here's a look at are some of the secret, lethal weapons the Nazis created during World War II:
Hitler's stealth 'flying wing' bomber
Referred to as "Hitler's secret weapon," the Horten Ho 229 bomber was designed to carry 2,000 pounds of armaments while flying at 49,000 feet at speeds north of 600 mph.
Equipped with twin turbojet engines, two cannons, and R4M rockets, the Horten Ho 229 was the world's first stealth aircraft and took its first flight in 1944.
Source: Weapons of WWII magazine
According to the Smithsonian, Nazi Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring allocated half a million Reich Marks to brothers Reimar and Walter Horten to manufacture the aircraft.
Plagued with problems, the Horten didn't last long in combat. Instead, the bomber's engineering did inspire today's modern stealth aircraft — like the Northrop Gruman B-2 bomber.
Source: Weapons of WWII magazine
The Fritz X radio-guided bomb
Considered the "grandfather of smart bombs," the Fritz X was a 3,450-pound explosive equipped with a radio receiver and sophisticated tail controls that helped guide the bomb to its target.
According to the US Air Force, the Fritz X could penetrate 28 inches of armor and could be deployed from 20,000 feet,an altitude out of reach for antiaircraft equipment at the time.
Less than a month after it was developed, the Nazis sank Italian battleship Roma off Sardinia in September 1943. However, the Fritz X's combat use was limited since only a few Luftwaffe aircraft were designed to carry the bomb.
Source: Weapons of WWII magazine
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton alleging that her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state was the deadly impetus behind the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, appointed by former President Barack Obama and based in Washington, D.C., made the decision Friday, dismissing the case brought on by Patricia Smith, the mother of State Department information officer Sean Smith, and Charles Woods, the father of CIA operative Tyrone Woods.
The parents alleged, when they filed the suit in August, that Clinton's use of a private email server "exposed confidential information about plaintiffs' relatives to the terrorists."
Smith and Woods claimed Clinton's actions resulted in wrongful death. But Jackson dismissed the wrongful death claim on technical grounds, writing in an opinion that while Clinton's use of a private email server was technically improper, her actions were otherwise related to her official duties as secretary of state.
Another aspect of the lawsuit contended that Clinton, as a presidential candidate in the 2016 campaign, defamed Smith and Woods for disputing their accounts of their conversations about the series of events that led up to the Benghazi attack.
In particular, they asserted Clinton had told them it was an anti-Muslim video that sparked a spontaneous raid of the Benghazi compound — a stance which the Obama administration took early on in the days leading up to the 2012 election. U.S. intelligence officials later concluded it was an organized attack. The parents allege Clinton then changed her tune during the 2016 campaign and called them liars.
This claim too was dismissed by Jackson, concluding that Clinton's dissenting account of those conversations did not characterize Smith and Woods as liars, but rather that they may have been mistaken in their recollection of events, Politico reported.
"Secretary Clinton did not refer to plaintiffs as liars," Jackson said. "Plaintiffs may find the candidate's statements in her own defense to be 'unpleasant or offensive,' but Secretary Clinton did not portray plaintiffs as 'odious, infamous, or ridiculous....' To the contrary, the statements portray plaintiffs as normal parents, grieving over the tragic loss of their loved ones."
Jackson stressed that her decision is no way an expression of approval of Clinton's use of an unauthorized private email server during her time at the State Department.
"Nothing about this decision should be construed as making any determination or expressing any opinion about the propriety of the use of the private email server or the content or accuracy of the statements made by the Secretary to the family members or to anyone else in the days following the Benghazi attack," Jackson wrote.
Both parents have long condemned Clinton for her handling of the Benghazi attack.
Speaking at the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2016, Smith said: "I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son." She also said Clinton belongs in prison.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's Supreme Leader has said that Saudi Arabia is a "cow being milked" by the United States.
A Saturday report by the semi-official Fars news agency quotes Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying that Saudi Arabia trades its wealth with "pagans and enemies."
"The stupid Saudi government thinks it can attract the friendship of enemies by giving them money," said Khamenei.
Khamenei added that bastion of Islam Saudi Arabia is "cruel toward believers and kind toward pagans."
President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia during his visit to kingdom last week.
Majority Shiite Iran and predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia support opposite sites in the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East.
For members of the US military, deployed all over the world, day-to-day duties often come with hardship, but amid those challenges, they often find themselves in breathtaking surroundings.
Whether it's mountain vistas, Arctic panoramas, and rolling steppe, US troops can easily claim that their working environments are among the most exotic in the world.
Below are some of the best US military photos showing the amazing land- and seascapes service members encounter every day.
Lance Cpl. Chance Seckinger, with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, rides a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft during launch and recovery drills from the well deck of the USS Green Bay, on July 9, 2015.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Evans repairs an antenna system during a replenishment at sea involving the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey, and the Military Sealift Command combat support ship USNS Arctic in the Persian Gulf, September 2, 2016.
Two F-15E Strike Eagles wait to receive fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker on January 23, 2015, on their way to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Do not thank me for my service because today is not about me at all.
That's what a number of fellow military veterans said, when I asked what they wanted people to know about Memorial Day.
"It's not about us," said Staff Sgt. Jay Arnold, a soldier with the Illinois Army National Guard. "It's about those who went before us."
While often seen as just a day off work or great time to barbeque, Memorial Day — not to be confused with Veterans Day— is a day of remembrance for approximately 1 million men and women who have died in defense of the United States since 1775.
"Memorial Day isn't about romanticizing war or worshiping military veterans. It's a day to recognize personal sacrifices of veterans and active military alike, regardless of their inclinations toward war," said Tech Sgt. Bill Monahan, an airman serving at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. "Too often today, ones political beliefs skew opinions on what constitutes honorable service so it is important to have a day where we can look back at who laid it all on the line."
The day has its roots in the Civil War, with a "Decoration Day" taking place three years after the war's end to decorate Union graves with flowers. Similar observances happened around the same time in the south. But it was Maj. Gen. John A. Logan who declared the day should be observed on May 30.
With an act of Congress in 1971, the day was proclaimed a national holiday for the last Monday in May and expanded to honor all who have died in American wars.
So you should definitely enjoy your day off, grill some steaks, and spend time with family and friends. But I challenge you — if you don't have any connection to the military — to really learn about just one fallen service member.
They didn't join the military for fame or reward, ambition or status. "In simple obedience to duty as they understood it,"reads the inscription at Arlington's Confederate Memorial. "These men suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all — and died."
Former Army Maj. Matthew Burden, a military blogger who often shares stories of the fallen, shared this:
"It is important to remember them, and it is just as important to enjoy yourself this weekend. To spend time with your family and friends," he told BI. "What better assurance to them that they did not die in vain? Enjoying your freedom and understanding it's value is the best way to honor the sacrifices of my friends. That's the way they'd want you to spend Memorial Day.
Remembering them, and being a good friend, father, and an American is the best way that I can honor their memory."
I wholeheartedly agree.
This article was originally published in 2014.
Maj. David Palka had seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but roughly 90% of the Marines under his command, tasked with setting up a remote fire base in northern Iraq in 2016, had only heard the stories.
Their trial by fire in March 2016 came just hours after they landed on Army CH-47 helicopters under cover of darkness in Makhmur, Iraq. Getting off the helicopters at around 2 a.m., the Marines were in what was essentially open farmland with a large protective berm of dirt around their small perimeter.
"By 0900, we received the first rocket attack," Palka told Business Insider.
As a captain, Palka had led the Marines of Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment when it was attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit from October 2015 to June 2016.
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - U.S. Senator John McCain said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a bigger threat to global security than ISIS, and warned that the Senate would push for sanctions against Moscow for its alleged interference in the U.S. election.
McCain, a leading foreign policy voice in the U.S. Congress, was speaking in an interview in Australia, where he has held security talks on his way to a defense summit in Singapore.
"I think he (Putin) is the premier and most important threat, more so than ISIS," McCain said in an interview on Australian Broadcasting Corp television.
He said while there was no evidence the Russians succeeded in changing the U.S. election outcome, they were still trying to change elections, including the recent French vote.
"I view the Russians as the far greatest challenge that we have," said McCain, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.
"So we need to have increased sanctions and hopefully when we come back from our recess, the Senate will move forward with sanctions on Russia and enact other penalties for Russian behavior."
McCain, who has been a critic of President Donald Trump, said he believes the national security team around Trump is developing a strategy that will lead to "victory" in Afghanistan, and Trump has great confidence in that team.
"I do believe that most of the time that he accepts their advice and counsel. Can I tell you that he does all the time? No. And yes, does it bothers me? Yes, it bothers me," he said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)
The US put its Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) missile shield to the test on Tuesday, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile from the Marshall Islands and knocking it out of the sky with a missile fired from California.
The long-planned test vindicated the expensive, complicated effort to defend the US homeland from missile attacks —but there's still no stopping a real attack from a determined foe like North Korea.
Chris Johnson of the Missile Defense Agency told Business Insider that while they managed to shoot down the ICBM with just a single interceptor missile, "in an operational scenario we’d likely use more than one."
Johnson said that the US has 36 missile interceptors ready to go, but if the incoming threats were real missiles, and not just tests, they'd fire a few interceptors at each target.
So to defeat the GMD, North Korea, or any other adversary, would simply have to exhaust the supply of interceptors, which it could do cheaply with decoys.
To address that threat, the Pentagon has awarded a $58 million contract to Boeing to create a new type of interceptors that kill multiple incoming threats with a single shot.
But the MDA doesn't plan to demonstrate that capability until the year 2025. Meanwhile, experts expect that North Korea could start testing an ICBM within a year.
North Korea has demonstrated their ability to salvo fire a number of ballistic missiles in a single attack in previous missile attacks.
Ultimately, while the GMD's interceptor scored a roaring success against a test fire, missile defense can't be counted on to protect the US from enemies abroad.
The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group has been joined by the USS Ronald Reagan strike group off of the Korean peninsula, the US Naval Institute reports.
Although the Pentagon maintains that the aircraft carriers went there for routine deployments, and are not responding to any provocation in the region, the ballistic missile defense ships in the carrier strike groups represent an ideal match for any North Korean missile tests.
Having two carriers in the same region presents a rare opportunity for training sailors on dual-carrier operations.
Together, the Vinson and Reagan strike groups represent perhaps the most powerful concentration of naval power anywhere currently on earth.
Since the Cold War, the US and Russia have drawn up plans on how to best wage nuclear war against each other — but while large population centers with huge cultural impact may seem like obvious choices, a smarter nuclear attack would focus on countering the enemy's nuclear forces.
So while people in New York City or Los Angeles may see themselves as being in the center of the world, in terms of nuclear-target priorities, they're not as important as places in states like North Dakota or Montana.
Stephen Schwartz, the author of "Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of US Nuclear Weapons Since 1940," says that after the Cold War, the US and Russia shifted from targeting each other's most populous cities to targeting each other's nuclear stockpiles.
This map shows the essential points Russia would have to attack to wipe out the US's nuclear forces, according to Schwartz:
This map represents targets for an all-out attack on the US's fixed nuclear infrastructure, weapons, and command and control centers — but even a massive strike like this wouldn't guarantee anything.
"It's exceedingly unlikely that such an attack would be fully successful," Schwartz told Business Insider. "There's an enormous amount of variables in pulling off an attack like this flawlessly, and it would have to be flawless. If even a handful of weapons escape, the stuff you missed will be coming back at you."
Even if every single US intercontinental ballistic missile silo, stockpiled nuclear weapon, and nuclear-capable bomber were flattened, US nuclear submarines could — and would — retaliate.
According to Schwartz, at any given time, the US has four to five nuclear-armed submarines "on hard alert, in their patrol areas, awaiting orders for launch." Even high-ranking officials in the US military don't know where the silent submarines are, and there's no way Russia could chase them all down before they fired back, which Schwartz said could be done in as little as five to 15 minutes.
But even a strike on a relatively sparsely populated area could lead to death and destruction across the US, depending on how the wind blew. That's because of fallout.
The US has strategically positioned the bulk of its nuclear forces, which double as nuclear targets, far from population centers. But if you happen to live next to an ICBM silo, fear not.
There's a "0.0 percent chance" that Russia could hope to survive an act of nuclear aggression against the US, according to Schwartz.
So while we all live under a nuclear "sword of Damocles," Schwartz said, people in big cities like New York and Los Angeles most likely shouldn't worry about being struck by a nuclear weapon.
BERLIN (AP) — German authorities have arrested a Syrian man on suspicion of membership in the extremist Nusra Front group.
Federal prosecutors say the 22-year-old suspect, identified only as Ahmet A. A., was arrested Wednesday in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
In a statement Thursday, prosecutors said the man is suspected of having joined the Nusra Front in 2012 together with a previously arrested other man, Abdul Jawad A. K.
The men's full surnames weren't released because of German privacy laws.
Prosecutors said Ahmet A. A. took part in fighting against Syrian government troops, including during fighting in the Syrian city of Tabqa in 2013.
Two Syrian rebels and a war monitor said a Syrian military plane had come down about 50 km east of Damascus on Monday in rebel-held territory near a frontline with government-held land.
"We have brought down a Syrian jet in Tel Dakwa area in rural Damascus and we are searching for the pilot," Saad al Haj, spokesman for Western backed Jaish Osoud al Sharqiya rebel group, told Reuters. Osoud al Sharqiya is one of the main groups fighting in the southeast Syrian desert, known as the Badia.
Pictures of what appeared to be the human remains of the pilot have been shared on opposition social media sites alongside pictures of aircraft wreckage said to be that of the warplane.
Another rebel official, Said Seif from the Western-vetted Ahmed Abdo Martyrs group that operates in the area, said the plane came down in an area 15 kms east of Bir Qasab between Tal Dakwa and Dumair airport.
Seif said rebels hit the aircraft with heavy, anti-aircraft machine guns which had been delivered to them in recent weeks by the United States and its allies to fend off a new push into southeast Syria by the government and allied Iran-backed militias.
The Syrian military could not be reached for comment.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said a plane was shot down by a rebel group in the area but it could not confirm if the pilot was dead or alive.
Reuters could not independently confirm reports of the downed plane.
Several Asian nations are seeking to bolster informal alliances among themselves, regional diplomats and officials said, unsettled by growing fears that the United States could not be relied on to maintain a buffer against China's assertiveness.
Countries including Australia, Japan, India and Vietnam are quietly stepping up discussions and co-operation, although taking care they do not upset Beijing, the diplomats said. No one was yet talking about a formal alliance.
Inaugurating the weekend Shangri-La Dialogue, the region's premier security forum, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "In this brave new world we cannot rely on great powers to safeguard our interests.
"We have to take responsibility for our own security and prosperity, while recognizing we are stronger when sharing the burden of collective leadership with trusted partners and friends."
His comments resonated through the three-day meeting that ended on Sunday.
Regional officials and analysts said there was growing mistrust of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, especially because of his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on trade and then, last week, the pullout from the Paris climate accord.
Many fear Trump is signaling a deeper retreat from a traditional U.S. security role that has underpinned the region for decades.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Singapore forum that Washington remained committed to the region and insisted it would oppose China's militarization of the disputed South China Sea, one of Asia's most volatile hotspots.
Regional officials said they were worried by Trump's unpredictability and concerned that his warm praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping after their first summit meeting in April would influence any decisions on Asia.
"We trust Mattis and we trust (U.S. Pacific Commander Harry) Harris but at the very top? The trust gap is very wide," said one senior Asian military officer.
"Our fear is driven by the reality that it is only the U.S. that is powerful enough to set red lines with China."
Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Asia was still trying to figure out Trump's policy in the region.
"I would like to know very clearly what are the true intentions of the new administration," he said.
In broad terms, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed accelerated co-operation among partners, but he also said he welcomed Mattis' reassurances.
"Countries look at the landscape and you adjust, and that's what good leadership does...you put yourself in a position so if there are changes, you are not caught completely off-guard," Ng said at a news conference on Sunday.
Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Malaysia and Singapore re-energized their Five Powers Defence Agreement at the weekend, with officials saying they wanted to better link new military capabilities, as well as boosting counter-terrorism efforts and maritime security.
Tim Huxley, a regional security expert, wrote in a newspaper article last week that the five countries needed to improve the inter-operability of their militaries as the regional balance of power shifted.
While China was becoming richer and more assertive, U.S. strategy and policy had entered "a period of, at best, uncertainty under President Donald Trump", he said.
"Amid this uncertainty, most states in the region are seeking to increase their military capabilities."
India did not send a government delegation to the Shangri-La forum but has been active in strengthening cooperation in the region.
It sent four ships and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to naval exercises with Singapore last month, and is discreetly improving Vietnam's defenses. Several Indian defense companies attended the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference in Singapore last month, including the manufacturers of short-range missiles.
New Delhi rejected an Australian request to join its Malabar naval exercises next month with Japan and the United States for fear of antagonizing China, which has warned against expanding the drills, navy officials and diplomats said.
But officials say the exercises will expand gradually, noting that India has bilateral defense agreements with countries including Australia, Singapore and Vietnam.
"There are different strands of cooperation. At some point they will come together," one Indian official said.
Beijing sent a low-key delegation to the Shangri-La forum this year, but its officials were warily watching developments and warning of "Cold War thinking" behind moves to strengthen alliances.
"It's a Cold War mentality to use alliances to check on China," said Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, of the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science.
"It's creating some sort of threat and using China as a threat is a huge mistake."
The United States is expected to signal on Tuesday that it might withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council unless reforms are ushered in including the removal of what it sees as an "anti-Israel bias", diplomats and activists said.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, who holds cabinet rank in President Donald Trump's administration, said last week Washington would decide on whether to withdraw from the Council after its three-week session in Geneva ends this month.
Under Trump, Washington has broken with decades of U.S. foreign policy by turning away from multilateralism. His decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement last week drew criticism from governments around the world.
The Council's critical stance of Israel has been a major sticking point for its ally the United States. Washington boycotted the body for three years under President George W. Bush before rejoining under Barack Obama in 2009.
Haley, writing in the Washington Post at the weekend, called for the Council to "end its practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism."
The possibility of a U.S. withdrawal has raised alarm bells among Western allies and activists.
Eight groups, including Freedom House and the Jacob Blaustein Institute, wrote to Haley in May saying a withdrawal would be counterproductive since it could lead to the Council "unfairly targeting Israel to an even greater degree."
In the letter, seen by Reuters, the groups also said that during the period of the U.S. boycott, the Council's performance suffered "both with respect to addressing the world's worst violators and with respect to its anti-Israel bias."
The Council has no powers other than to rebuke governments it deems as violating human rights and to order investigations but plays an important role in international diplomacy.
Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory are a fixed item on the agenda of the 47-member body set up in 2006. Washington, Israel's main ally, often casts the only vote against the Arab-led resolutions.
"When the council passes more than 70 resolutions against Israel, a country with a strong human rights record, and just seven resolutions against Iran, a country with an abysmal human rights record, you know something is seriously wrong," wrote Haley.
John Fisher, Geneva director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, did not appear to fear an immediate withdrawal.
"Our understanding is that it is going to be a message of engagement and reform," Fisher told reporters.
However, Fisher said Israel's human rights record did warrant Council scrutiny, but the special focus was "a reasonable concern".
"It is an anomaly that there is a dedicated agenda item in a way that there isn't for North Korea or Syria or anything else," he said.
Haley also challenged the membership of Communist Cuba and Venezuela citing rights violations, proposing "competitive voting to keep the worst human rights abusers from obtaining seats". She made no mention of Egypt or Saudi Arabia, two U.S. allies elected despite quashing dissent.
The U.S. envoy will host a panel on "Human Rights and Democracy in Venezuela" and address the Graduate Institute in Geneva before heading to Israel.
Lithuania has began constructing a two-meter high wire fence along its border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad ahead of military exercises Moscow is planning to hold there in September.
While the 45-km-long (30 mile) fence will provide little defense against a full-scale attack, it aims to prevent provocations and incidents, Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas said on Monday.
"In order to avoid such situations, we decided we need the fence", Misiunas said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
For Lithuania and other Baltic republics, which won their independence from Moscow in 1991 but remain home to ethnic Russian minorities, any massing of Russian troops near their borders spreads concern, especially since the 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula by Moscow.
Although Russia has not disclosed the size of the Zapad (West) exercises that it holds every four years on its western borders, analysts have said that this year's drill may be the largest in quarter of a century, with a movement of about 100,000 Russian troops expected.
The recent deployment of 1,000 NATO troops to Poland and each of the Baltic states has unnerved Moscow, which had warned in January that it was a bad idea.
The United States will have doubled its troops in the region for the duration of the military exercises, an official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In July, the U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) missile battery will be deployed in Lithuania for two weeks in July, for the first time in the region where Russia has air superiority.
The fence, which is to cost 3.6 million euros, is to define clearly the geographical border between Kaliningrad and Lithuania. Surveillance equipment installed alongside will give an early warning of any violation, the minister said.
The USS Nimitz, the US Navy's oldest operating aircraft carrier just departed San Diego to head into the Pacific, where the USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan carriers are already keeping watch over a defiant North Korea.
The Nimitz will sail with the guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Shoup from their designated carrier strike group, as well as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Howard and USS Pinckney, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Princeton, according to a US Navy statement.
By Business Insider's count, that will mean the US has three aircraft carriers, two cruisers, and 12 destroyers simultaneously operating in the Pacific, often with Japanese and South Korean navy ships nearby.
While the US Navy has stressed the "routine" nature of these deployments to Business Insider on multiple occasions, there's no denying that this is a huge display of force in the Pacific.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has defined North Korea as a "clear and present danger" to the world, and the UN has moved to once again sanction North Korean businesses and individuals in an attempt to cut off the flow of funds into the world's most heavily militarized country.
A ransom payment of up to $1 billion to Iranian and Al Qaeda-linked forces in Syria may have been the tipping point for Qatari-Gulf Arab relations, Financial Times reported Monday.
Qatar paid out the hefty ransom to secure the release of 26 members of a falconry party, some of whom were members of Qatar's royal family who had been hunting in southern Iraq, "commanders of militant groups and government officials in the region" told Financial Times.
The news of Qatar's ransom comes after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, and a powerful military leader in Libya all severed ties with Doha on Monday.
SPA, a Saudi state news agency, said the kingdom cut ties because Qatar "embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, and Al Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,"according to Reuters.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain represent the most prominent of the Gulf Arab states and premier powers in the Sunni world, which rivals Iran and its Shia influence in the Middle East.
Qatar and the other Gulf Arab states have in the past sparred over Qatar's softer stance on Iran and support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist organization founded in Egypt, but a source told Financial Times that "the ransom payments are the straw that broke the camel's back."
The D-Day invasion, code named Operation Overlord, was the largest seaborne invasion in history.
Almost 5,000 landing and assault craft accompanied by 289 escort vessels and 277 minesweepers from Canada, the US, Britain, and Australia took part in the operation. The Allies suffered 226,386 casualties, but it proved a decisive moment in the war.
Suddenly, the Nazis were fighting a two-front war in Europe, leading to a division in their forces across multiple flanks. But the cost of D-Day, in both human lives and devastation of the surrounding regions of France, was immense.
The following photos from Getty photographer Peter Macdiarmid show an amazing juxtaposition of images from the affected areas of modern France with photos of the invasion from 1944 overlaid on top.
Jeremy Bender composed an earlier version of this article.
Juno Beach on May 8, 2014, in Bernieres sur Mer, France, juxtaposed with a Canadian soldier at the head of a group of German prisoners of war, including two officers, on Juno Beach on June 6, 1944.
The old village fountain on May 7, 2014, in Sainte Marie du Mont, France, where a group of American soldiers stood on June 12, 1944.
A view of the roadway on May 7, 2014, in Saint Lo, France, where US Army trucks and jeeps once drove through.
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