First, via Reuters, blowback:
U.S.-led air strikes intensify as Syria conflict destabilizes Turkey
American-led forces have sharply intensified air strikes in the past two days against Islamic State fighters threatening Kurds on Syria’s Turkish border after the jihadists’ advance began to destabilize Turkey.
The coalition had conducted 21 attacks on the militants near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani over Monday and Tuesday and appeared to have slowed Islamic State advances there, the U.S. military said, but cautioned the situation remained fluid.
U.S. President Barack Obama voiced deep concern on Tuesday about the situation in Kobani as well as in Iraq’s Anbar province, which U.S. troops fought to secure during the Iraq war and is now at risk of being seized by Islamic State militants.
And another Arab Spring country bombed by yet another, via the Associated Press:
Egypt warplanes hit Libya militias, officials say
Egypt deepened its involvement in the fight against Islamist militias who have taken over key parts of Libya on Wednesday, with officials saying Egyptian warplanes have bombed their positions in the eastern city of Benghazi.
The two officials, who have firsthand knowledge of the operation, said the use of the aircraft was part of an Egyptian-led campaign against the militiamen that will eventually involve Libyan ground troops recently trained by Egyptian forces.
The operation, they said, was requested by the internationally recognized Libyan administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk. That elected administration was thrown out of the capital, Tripoli, by rival militias allied with Islamic political factions.
That drone we promised you, via the Yomiuri Shimbun:
Drone-sparked fighting ends Serbia-Albania match
A small drone dangling an Albanian banner and circling the soccer field touched off fighting between Serbian and Albanian players and fans Tuesday, forcing a European Championship qualifier to be called off.
English referee Martin Atkinson halted the match in the 41st minute when a Serbian player grabbed the banner and Albanian players tried to protect it. Several Serbian fans ran onto the field and clashed with Albanian players. The score was 0-0 at the time.
The Union of European Football Associations said the match was later abandoned because of a “disturbance” on the field.
From Reuters, partnering up:
EU, China agree to step up cooperation against terrorism: EU
Leaders from China and the European Union agreed to step up cooperation to counter extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, the EU said on Thursday.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday evening on the sidelines of a gathering of Asian and European leaders known as the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan.
“They reviewed the situation in the Middle East, northern Africa and the Sahel (region of Africa) and agreed to increase cooperation to counter the common threat of extremism and terrorism in these regions,” an EU statement issued after the talks said, without specifying what kind of cooperation.
From TheLocal.de, the singing Nazi judge:
‘Neo-Nazi’ magistrate quits Bavarian post
A magistrate in Bavaria resigned on Tuesday after police discovered that he was a former singer in a neo-Nazi band and had long standing links to the far-right scene.
The young lawyer, who was working in a court in Lichtenfels, Upper Franconia, met the president of the higher state court in Bamberg on Tuesday and resigned.
After studying in Brandenburg, the lawyer was named as a magistrate on a provisional basis by the Bavarian judiciary in November 2013.
While a student, he had been under observation by the Brandenburg security services between 2003 and 2013 due to his alter ego as “Hassgesang” (“hate song”), his neo-Nazi one-man music project.
From the Independent, Old Blighty’s money laundry:
The great British money launderette: At least 19 UK firms under investigation for alleged conspiracy to make $20bn of dirty money seem legitimate
Front companies in the UK are at the heart of an investigation into one of Europe’s biggest money-laundering operations, allegedly forming part of a conspiracy to make $20bn (£12.5bn) of dirty money look legitimate. The funds are believed to have come from major criminals and corrupt officials around the world wanting to make their ill-gotten cash appear “clean”, so they can spend it without suspicion.
At least 19 UK-based front companies are under suspicion. The scandal highlights how lax corporate rules have made this country an attractive destination for global organised crime. The secrecy company directors are entitled to under UK law is also hindering attempts to identify the “Mr Bigs” behind the scam.
An investigation by The Independent and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an NGO, has identified dozens of firms in a global web spreading from Birmingham to Belize.
The scam appears to have gone on for four years before being shut down in May by investigators in another of its main centres – the former Soviet republic of Moldova.
From TheLocal.it, proving crime really does pay, at least in a neocon world:
Sex and drugs help lift Italy out of recession
Italy learnt it was no longer in a recession on Wednesday thanks to a change in data calculations across the European Union which includes illegal economic activities such as prostitution and drugs in the GDP measure.
Adding illegal revenue from hookers, narcotics and black market cigarettes and alcohol to the eurozone’s third-biggest economy boosted gross domestic product figures.
GDP rose slightly from a 0.1 percent decline for the first quarter to a flat reading, the national institute of statistics said.
Google hack, with Network World:
Security vendors claim progress against Chinese group that hacked Google
A group of security companies say a collaborative effort has helped counter several hacking tools used by a China-based group most known for provoking strong condemnation from Google four years ago.
The companies, which include Cisco, FireEye, F-Secure, iSIGHT Partners, Microsoft, Tenable, ThreatConnect, ThreatTrack Security, Volexity, Novetta and Symantec, said their efforts have led to a better level of protection in their products against the hacking tools used by the group. How long the effort will stymie the hackers remains to be seen.
“We’re not naïve,” said Novetta CEO Peter LaMontagne in a phone interview Tuesday. “Our view is that the threat actors that are out there are absolutely focused on staying ahead of our defensive efforts.”
But China is worried about being spied on, as Want China Times reports:
Retired ROC military officers recruited to spy for PLA
To steal crucial intelligence regarding the Republic of China Armed Forces’ new weapons systems, China has recruited several retired officers through Taiwanese businesspeople working in mainland China, getting them to conduct espionage against their own country, Wendell Minnick wrote in his article for the Washington-based Defense News.
Minnick lists the officers who sold information on the E-2K Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and PAC-2 anti-ballistic missile systems, the Hawk air defense missile system, and the Raytheon Palm IR-500 radiometric infrared camera to China in recent years.
Peter Mattis, a research fellow from the Jamestown Foundation, said that contrary to popular opinion, China hires professionals and not “amateur free-for-all sources” to steal information from Taiwan.
And from the Intercept, if its ours, it’s theirs:
Local Cops Say Your Driving History Is Public — Unless You Want a Copy
What’s public for me is private for thee. At least that’s what Monroe County, N.Y. believes when it comes to where you drive your car.
Monroe Police have been using high-speed cameras to capture license plates in order to log vehicle whereabouts. As of July, the County’s database contained 3.7 million records, with the capability to add thousands more each day. The justification for cops having records of the whereabouts of law-abiding citizens is that the vehicles are driven in public and therefore drivers have no expectation of privacy. It’s an argument that’s at odds with the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in U.S. v. Jones. In Jones, a GPS tracking case, the court held that individuals do have an expectation of privacy when it comes to their long-term whereabouts, even when using public roads.
If cops are determined to violate this privacy, then at least they could behave more consistently. Last summer, Rochester, N.Y.’s Democrat & Chronicle filed a state open records request — more commonly called a FOIL (for Freedom Of Information Law) — for information on seven of it’s reporter’s license plates as well as two city and county government vehicles. After all, if such information is public when collected, why would it change merely because it’s sitting in a database?
On to Asia, starting in Hong Kong with the Guardian:
Hong Kong police use pepper spray as video of beating reignites protests
- Hundreds gather to express outrage at violent police attack on pro-democracy party member
Hong Kong police used pepper spray early on Thursday to stop pro-democracy protesters from blocking a major road near the office of the city’s embattled leader amid public anger over the police beating of a protester a day earlier.
At the police HQ in the nearby district of Wan Chai, hundreds of people gathered outside into the early hours of the morning to express outrage at the beating, with dozens queuing to lodge formal complaints over the incident.
Authorities said on Wednesday that police involved in the beating of Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, a member of the pro-democracy Civic party, would be suspended.
Footage of the beating has gone viral and injected fresh momentum into a protest movement that had been flagging after nearly three weeks of demonstrations over Chinese restrictions on how Hong Kong will choose its next leader.
Here’s the video, via corc buhs:
Hong Kong Police Carry a Protester to a Dark Spot for a Beating
Hong Kong police officers involved in an apparent assault on a protester have been “removed” from their positions, the city’s security chief said Wednesday, after video emerged of a handcuffe.
The London Telegraph covers censorship:
China blocks BBC website as Hong Kong tensions rise
Broadcaster defends move as ‘deliberate censorship’
Chinese censors have blocked the website of Britain’s national broadcaster, the BBC said in a statement late on Wednesday, coming as tensions rise in Hong Kong between pro-democracy protesters and police.
The broadcaster said that the move seemed to be “deliberate censorship”. It did not say what may have prompted the move by Beijing, which also blocks the websites of the New York Times, newswire Bloomberg and the BBC’s Chinese language website.
“The BBC strongly condemns any attempts to restrict free access to news and information and we are protesting to the Chinese authorities. This appears to be deliberate censorship,” said Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service Group.
The BBC’s English-language website was still inaccessible in China on Thursday morning.
From Want China Times, a strategic edge:
PLA’s DF-21D missiles already in service, says US report
A forthcoming report from the bipartisan US-China Economic and Security Review Commission indicates that two brigades of DF-21D ballistic missiles have already entered service with the People’s Liberation Army, Bill Gertz, senior editor of Washington Free Beacon, wrote in an article on Oct. 13.
The report will be published on November to discuss China’s military expansion. Citing China’s development of two stealth fighter models, the first deployment of a naval expeditionary amphibious group to the Indian Ocean and aerial bombing exercises in Kazakhstan, the report paints an alarming picture of China’s growing aggressiveness and expanding power that the country could bring to bear against the United States and its regional allies.
Despite the strong trade and financial links between Beijing and Washington, the report said that the Communist Party government in China still views the United States as its primary adversary. China’s rapid military buildup is changing the balance of power in the Western Pacific, it said, which may bring destabilizing security competition between China and its neighbors while exacerbating regional hotspots in Taiwan, the Korean peninsula, and the East and South China seas.
And from the Japan Times, refusing to learn from history:
Web page on ‘comfort women’ donations taken down by Foreign Ministry
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has again deepened international suspicion that it aims to revise history despite repeated denials.
The Foreign Ministry has deleted a page from its website that carried a 1995 appeal for donations to a government-linked fund for former “comfort women” forced to work at Japanese wartime military brothels.
The move drew immediate protest from the South Korean government, which issued a written statement by a spokesperson at its Foreign Ministry, because it came at the demand of a right-leaning lawmaker who has called for the retraction of the government’s apology, made in 1993.
A key part of the appeal read: “Particularly brutal was the act of forcing women, including teenagers, to serve the Japanese armed forces as ‘comfort women,’ a practice that violated the fundamental dignity of women. No manner of apology can ever completely heal the deep wound inflicted on these women both emotionally and physically.”
For our final item, a Toky0/Washington disagreement from Kyodo News:
U.S. opposed to Japan’s plan to end Futenma base operations by 2019
The U.S. government is opposed to Tokyo’s plan to end the operations of a key U.S. military base in Okinawa by February 2019, according to U.S. government sources.
The U.S. side conveyed to Japan during a meeting of the countries’ foreign and defense officials in Tokyo on Oct. 2 that the timing for the end of operations at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station should be 2022 at the earliest, given the time required to complete construction of a replacement facility in the prefecture, the sources said.
Washington was “surprised” by Tokyo’s announcement last month that it will aim to end operations at the Futenma base by February 2019 and views the Tokyo-set deadline as “fanciful speculation,” U.S. officials told the meeting, adding that the announcement placed the United States in a “difficult position,” according to the sources.