US intel agencies sharply cut surveillance during pandemic

The number of targets of secretive surveillance in national security investigations fell sharply last year in part because of the coronavirus pandemic and continued scrutiny of the FBI’s wiretapping authorities arising from the Russia investigation, according to a government report released Friday. […]


Blinken meets Israeli spy chief as Iran talks continue

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top Biden administration national security aides met Thursday with the chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency for talks that focused primarily on Iran, according to officials familiar with the meeting. The two-hour meeting was the second this week in Washington involving senior officials from the two countries and underscored Israel’s unease with ongoing indirect nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States in Vienna and Iran more broadly, the officials said. Although other issues were discussed, Israel used Thursday’s meeting to “express strong concerns” about Iran, one of the officials said. […]


Taipei court acquits five accused of spying for China – Taipei Times

The Taipei District Court yesterday acquitted Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠), two fellow New Party members and a Chinese student, Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭), on all charges in an espionage case, although prosecutors said that they would appeal the first ruling. After three years of investigation and hearings, the judges said that there was insufficient evidence to show that Wang, Wang’s father, Wang Chin-pu (王進步), Zhou, New Party Taipei City Councilor Ho Han-ting (侯漢廷) and New Party executive Lin Ming-cheng (林明正) were developing a spy network for China, and “their activities did not pose a danger to national security or social stability.” Wang Chin-pu was […]


Should masks be worn outdoors?

Wearing face coverings outside should be normalised because it may reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in some situations—and may encourage mask wearing indoors, where risks are greater—say Babak Javid , Dirk Bassler , and Manuel B Bryant . But Muge Cevik , Zeynep Tufekci , and Stefan Baral argue that outdoor transmission contributes very little to overall infection rates and that efforts should focus on reducing indoor transmission The likelihood of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is far greater indoors than outdoors.12 So why do we argue here that masks, in some circumstances, should also be worn outdoors? To be clear, we are not arguing that outdoor transmission represents a large transmission risk. Nor do we support policies that, for example, mandate masking outdoors when someone is alone or only with members of one household, since such scenarios, by definition, do not represent a transmission risk. Instead, we argue for a nuanced approach to mask wearing, where even outdoor mask wearing during the pandemic phase of covid-19 is a normalised behaviour rather than a polarising one. Estimates of indoor transmission risks compared with outdoors vary widely, but they are at least 4-20 times more likely than outdoors.2 Infection with SARS-CoV-2 is likely to depend on the amount of inoculated infective particles, which in turn mainly depends on two factors: the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in the air and the duration of exposure.3 Situations where more infectious people share air with less dilution (wind and movement) for a prolonged time—such as in crowds and while queuing—will carry some risk of transmission, although this risk is lower than indoors because of the much higher and rapid dilution outdoors and the lack of accumulation.4 ### Interventions and mandates People in some “outdoor” occupations, such as agricultural workers, have displayed a substantially increased risk of … […]

No Picture

Former Mossad chief criticizes Israel's conduct on Iran nuclear agreement

Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevi referred Monday to Israel’s public opposition to negotiations with Iran over the 2015 nuclear agreement, and called it “the wrong kind of strategy.” “What is needed is a dialogue with the United States – which is not only our most important ally, but also the one whose support helps us look different throughout the whole world and in the Middle East. The discourse should be deep and quiet, without hurling mutual threats,” said Halevi, who added that Israel’s statement according to which it is not bound by the nuclear agreement is “redundant.” […]


Czechs order Russia to pull out most embassy staff in worsening spy row

MOSCOW/PRAGUE (Reuters) -The Czech Republic on Thursday ordered Russia to remove most of its remaining diplomatic staff from Prague in an escalation of the worst dispute between the two countries in decades. The spy row flared on Saturday when Prague expelled 18 Russian staff, whom it identified as intelligence officers. It said two Russian spies accused of a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were also behind an explosion at a Czech ammunition depot in 2014 that killed two people. […]


Czechs to Russia: Let our diplomats back or more of yours go

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The Czech Republic demanded on Wednesday that Russia should allow its expelled diplomats to return to Moscow, threatening that otherwise more Russian diplomats would be asked to leave Prague. The Czech request could further escalate a diplomatic conflict with Russia over the alleged involvement of Russian spies in a massive ammunition […] […]


The Crazy Way $30M Was Stolen From Safe Deposit Boxes

Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Three New York City men allegedly stole more than $30 million in cash and other valuables as part of an elaborate money-laundering scheme that involved using spy cameras to break into safe deposit boxes around the world.The Department of Justice on Tuesday charged Val Cooper, 56, Alex Levin, 52, and Gari Smith, 49, with money laundering and conspiracy, as well as conspiracy to violate the Travel Act after they allegedly stole the massive sum from banks’ safe deposit boxes between March 2015 and October 2019. Some of the banks were in Ukraine, Russia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Latvia, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan—businesses that “appeared to lack security features, including video surveillance cameras in certain areas,” prosecutors said.The feds allege Cooper was the ringleader of the criminal enterprise, while Levin used his bank accounts in the United States to buy the sophisticated camera equipment used during the heists—and later launder the proceeds. All three Brooklyn men were arrested on Tuesday morning.“The crimes we allege in this indictment read like something straight out of Hollywood fiction,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney said in a statement. “The thieves used sophisticated tools to thwart security systems at foreign banks and tried to cover their tracks by laundering money through U.S. banks. However, thanks to the outstanding work of our FBI Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and our international partners, these criminals now face real federal charges and the possibility of real-time in federal prison.”According to court documents, the group sought out banks with weak security systems, and then would pose as a customer, renting a safe deposit box in order to gain entry into the room they would eventually hit. Once inside, the group would use a series of “sophisticated camera equipment (often a borescope typically used in medical procedures)” to “take photographs of the inside of safe deposit box locks,” prosecutors said in court documents.“Another co-conspirator used these photographs to create duplicate keys, and then other co-conspirators used the duplicate keys to open the victim safe deposit boxes in order to steal the contents, including currency, gold bars, jewelry, and other property,” a DOJ press release said. After the heist was complete, the trio would leave the country.Prosecutors say the scheme went on for years—with Cooper and another co-conspirator even bribing local law enforcement officials in the various countries they hit for information to ensure they could evade prosecution. Finally, New York authorities caught up to them, and on Tuesday, agents executed a search warrant at Cooper’s house. There, they found safe deposit box keys without any identification numbers, cash, jewelry, and several high-end bags. In Cooper’s storage unit in Brooklyn, investigators also found a borescope and safe deposit box lock.Authorities noted that Cooper and Levin have criminal histories. Levin was convicted in April 2000 after pleading guilty to securities fraud for his role in a $100 million stock scheme operated by members and associates of La Cosa Nostra and a Russian organized crime group. Cooper was convicted in the former Soviet Union of theft in 1986 and was cited in another criminal office against the USSR in 2001—but did not face criminal charges before he evaded prosecution.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more. […]


Our view: Missouri stalking laws need to be updated

https://www.joplinglobe.com/opinion/editorials/our-view-missouri-stalking-laws-need-to-be-updated/article_1e2bc71e-77a3-11eb-ab4e-9fdcd2075cc6.html04/18/2021 5:42 PM State Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, is again shining a light on something that needs a closer look.


Russian fighter jet again intercept U.S. Air Force RC-135 spy plane

Russian MiG-31 Foxhound fighter jet intercepted U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft over the Pacific Ocean along the southeastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday. According to the ministry, Russian airspace control systems detected an aerial target flying over the Pacific Ocean towards Russia’s border. “A […] […]


U.S. spy chiefs say China is 'unparalleled priority'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. spy agency leaders said on Wednesday that China is an “unparalleled” priority, citing Beijing’s regional aggression and cyber capabilities as they testified at a public congressional “Worldwide Threats” hearing for the first time in more than two years. “Given that China is an unparalleled priority for the intelligence community, I will start with highlighting certain aspects of the threat from Beijing,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee. She described China as increasingly “a near-peer competitor challenging the United States in multiple arenas.” […]


Russia scrambles fighter jet against RC-135W Rivet Joint spy plane

A Russian MiG-31 (NATO reporting name: Foxhound) fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint strategic reconnaissance aircraft over the Pacific Ocean in the Kamchatka region, Russia’s National Defense Control Center reported on Friday. “Russian airspace control systems detected an air target over the territory of the Pacific Ocean approaching Russia’s state border. […] […]


U.S. Spy Agencies Warn of Threats From Digital Currency to AI

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. intelligence community predicts an increasingly leaderless and unstable world in the coming decades as trends such as artificial intelligence, digital currencies and climate change reshape the global arena, according to the National Intelligence Council.The coming decades will be characterized by a mismatch between global challenges and “the ability of institutions and system to respond,” according to “Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World.” The result will be “greater contestation at every level” — especially between the U.S. and China.Read the full “Global Trends” report here.Here are some of the trends cited in the latest edition of the report that’s published every four years:Debt pressures: National governments will have “reduced flexibility” to deal with challenges such as climate change in the face of growing debt burdens and increasingly diverse trading rules.Digital currencies: The U.S. dollar and the euro will face threats from digital currencies such as Bitcoin. “Privately issued digital currencies could add complexity to the conduct of monetary policy by reducing countries’ control over their exchange rates and money supply,” the report says.Climate pressure: Climate change will drive social divisions within states and exacerbate international tensions. It will worsen water insecurity as well as increase pressures for migration.Assertive China: Although the report says “no single state” will be able to dominate “all regions or domains,” intensified U.S. competition with China runs through its pages. The Asian superpower will look to “assert dominance in Asia,” press U.S. allies to “restrict U.S. basing access,” and move Taiwan “closer to reunification by 2040, possibly through sustained and intensive coercion.”New ways of war: Increased competition between states will result in further nuclear proliferation and an increased risk of interstate conflict. Artificial intelligence will “enhance the performance of existing weapons, defenses, and systems.”Space race: By 2040, China will be the U.S.’s most formidable rival in space. By that time it’s likely to have its “own set of foreign partners participating in Chinese-led space activities” and its BeiDou satellite navigation system will probably be in use around the world as an alternative to the Pentagon-backed GPS.Permanent populism: “Polarization along ethnic, religious, and ideological lines is likely to remain strong,” and this is likely to “reinforce political dysfunction” and “heighten risks of political instability.”AI-powered propaganda: The proliferation of digital technologies and advances in artificial intelligence will open the door for both states and non-state actors to “influence populations, including by ratcheting up cognitive manipulation and societal polarization,” the report says.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P. […]


Israeli Air Force receives new Oron intelligence spy plane

The Israeli Air Force announced on Sunday that it has received new Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance aircraft, called the Oron. The announcement detailed that the 122nd (“Nachson”) Squadron received its new aircraft – the “Oron”, which will grant the IAF unprecedented intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The advanced aircraft was formally introduced in a ceremony […] […]


Kremlin Spy and Ex-U.S. Convict Sent to Humiliate Navalny in Prison

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty ImagesMOSCOW—Russia’s imprisoned opposition leader, Aleksey Navalny, is on a hunger strike in a notorious penal colony. He says he suffers from back pain while prison guards “torture” him by waking him every hour at night. Independent prison observers have been desperate to check up on him, with hundreds of Russian public figures sending open letters and petitions to authorities, calling for a halt to the humiliating treatment. Human rights activists addressed the Kremlin on Friday more bluntly: “He is being slowly killed.”The response? Instead of sending an independent human rights observer or a doctor to visit Navalny in prison, the Kremlin sent Maria Butina, a Russian spy and U.S. ex-convict. Now a pro-Kremlin activist, Butina pleaded guilty in a U.S. court in 2018 to acting as a Russian agent while infiltrating the NRA and Republican Party political circles.Desperate Putin Resorts to Jailing Journalists for Retweeting JokesButina reported what she had heard from other inmates in the prison colony, called IK-2, complaining not about conditions in the prison, but about Navalny himself. Butina said other inmates despised Navalny’s for “lying in bed all day “like a master,’” and said he “does not clean after himself.” She insisted that Navalny was living in better conditions than she had endured in American jail. “My recommendation to Aleksey: if you committed a crime, be a man, serve your time.”Butina also posted a video clip said to show Navalny slowly pacing in his barrack: “He is walking! Oh, this is magic! With a cup of coffee,” she commented. Mr. Navalny had said his legs were going numb from the back pain.Butina said Navalny was rude to her during their about 20-minute-long conversation, accusing her of telling lies and stealing. A transcript of the alleged dialogue with Navalny was published on Telegram, with Butina saying: “You know perfectly well that if you are not cleaning, somebody cleans for you. I have been to prison. I know that it becomes somebody else’s responsibility.” Navalny purportedly responded by telling her she lies a lot, and that, “everything [she says] is endless lies, including your stories about American prison.”Human rights defenders were in shock. “At the time when Navalny obviously needs professional medical help, they send an RT state TV channel crew to that very penal colony–this is an unacceptable situation,” Tanya Lokshina, director of the Russian program at Human Rights Watch, told The Daily Beast.Rules do not prohibit an outside doctor from providing care in prison, Lokshina explained, adding, “We are aware of cases in which the Russian prison system provided civilian doctors for sick inmates.”Butina’s comments horrified a former prisoner of IK2, Vladimir Pereverzin. “It is hard to imagine anything more cynical and misleading,” he said. “Nobody is allowed to stay in bed in that prison. If she says he stays in bed all the time, it means he is so sick that the prison doctor allowed it,” Pereversin, an economist who was swept up in a crackdown on an oil company a decade ago, told The Daily Beast. After spending seven years behind bars, Pereversin described his experience at the prison as a constant nightmare.“The prison guards humiliated me constantly,” he said. “They fabricated reports against me so just like Navalny I had to go on hunger strike. I even stabbed myself in the stomach and only then did they moved me to a single cell, which was a huge relief.”An opposition playwright and satirist, Viktor Shenderovich, said the visit by Butina symbolized the general tone of mockery in Kremlin policy.“The government decided to kill Navalny, to destroy him both physically and morally,” Shenderovich told the Daily Beast. “This is not a political move but a moral issue: Russia is split right now between obvious supporters of good and of those who support evil.”Shenderovich described the ordeal as somewhat of a “win” for Kremlin loyalists.“Many Kremlin supporters are giggling now when they read Butina’s comments,” he said. “They are happy to see the Kremlin trolling and mocking the West and Navalny supporters. But actually, this is the humiliation of morality itself.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more. […]


After intense debate, ‘granny cams’ bill fails

The Georgia nursing home industry wanted to prevent the use of secretly recorded videos in lawsuits. Without a bill, it’s unclear whether some in the nursing home industry will start to offer families the option of in-view cameras or other types of monitoring, knowing that the court found it was legal for residents with security concerns to hide a “granny cam” in a loved one’s room. […]