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On energy, the ministry has “completely overhauled the previous government’s Russia-friendly policy” to reduce Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas, it said. “That tells you something.”Germany consistently underestimated the Russian threat and gave counterintelligence work a low priority, but that is changing now in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, experts and Western officials said. Last April, Berlin expelled 40 Russian Embassy employees for allegedly working for Russian intelligence services. Germany’s intelligence services failed to anticipate that Russia would invade Ukraine, a failure that has yet to be the subject of any publicly released “lessons learned” review. Such a review would show Germany is serious about altering its approach, the Western official said.
The U.S. government’s system for labeling and tracking classified documents appears to be broken, with potentially serious consequences for the country’s national security, lawmakers, former officials and scholars said Tuesday. Democratic and Republican lawmakers said there was a “systemic failure” if both the Obama and Trump administrations could not keep track of classified documents after their tenures ended. I don’t know how anybody ends up with classified documents. “We clearly don’t have an effective management system to oversee where classified documents go and how they’re retrieved,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. Goitein and others said the recent discoveries of classified documents present a political opportunity for the White House, and possibly Congress, to at last tackle the problem.
Zelenskyy has called the Russian attacks on infrastructure “energy terrorism” and vowed the assault won’t change the course of the war. People sit in a dark cafe during a blackout after Russian strikes Dec. 29 in Lviv, Ukraine. Company officials believe Russian engineers who know the vulnerable points in Ukraine’s electricity system most likely advised the Russian military on its targeting. Water and cellphonesThe attack on the country’s electricity grid has had a knock-on effect for other infrastructure, including water supplies and mobile phone service. Although the assault on Ukraine’s infrastructure hasn’t damaged Ukraine’s position on the battlefield or broken the country’s will to fight, it has inflicted “huge damage” on the economy, he said.
The West needs to ramp up military assistance to Ukraine to ensure the war with Russia does not turn into a bloody, open-ended stalemate, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Tuesday during a visit to Washington. The United Kingdom also said it would provide more heavy artillery and ammunition to help Ukraine roll back Russian forces from its territory. “The U.K. has been very much on the front foot” in its security assistance to Ukraine, Cleverly said. He stopped short of urging the U.S., Germany or other governments also to supply Ukraine with new tanks or other more advanced weapons. Germany has faced growing calls to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other countries that have Leopards to provide Kyiv with them.
An American imprisoned in Iran for seven years launched a hunger strike Monday to protest his “soul crushing” plight and that of other Americans held in Iran, appealing to President Joe Biden to take action to secure their release. “Yet seven years and two presidents later, I remain caged in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.”Namazi accused former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump of having failed him and criticized Biden for not meeting face-to-face with the families of Americans imprisoned in Iran. “In the past I implored you to reach for your moral compass and find the resolve to bring the U.S. hostages in Iran home. His elderly father, Baquer Namazi, was imprisoned in 2016 after having traveled to Iran to try to help his son. Two other U.S. citizens are imprisoned in Iran, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Sharghi, as well as an unknown number of permanent U.S. legal residents, including Shahab Dalili.
A classified version of the report was submitted to lawmakers, as mandated by a defense spending bill passed by the last Congress. Following demands from Congress, the top intelligence agency released its first report on UFOs in 2021, which looked at 144 reported cases. Officials found no evidence that the reported sightings indicated signs of extraterrestrial life or new breakthrough aircraft or weapons by foreign adversaries. Although the report cited no evidence that UFO sightings could be linked to foreign adversaries, government agencies “will continue to investigate any evidence of possible foreign government involvement in UAP events." The Pentagon last year set up an office to document and analyze UFO reports.
Refugee advocates and veterans accused Congress of abandoning Afghans who fled to the U.S. after a bill designed to resolve the legal status of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees was left out of a year-end spending bill. The Afghan refugees were granted a two-year temporary “humanitarian parole,” which has left them in legal limbo and unable to work. The bill would have granted Afghan refugees a pathway to permanent legal residency before their parole expires. To address concerns raised by some Republican lawmakers, sponsors of the bill added language to ensure the Afghan refugees undergo thorough security vetting by U.S. authorities. But the proposal failed to win support from 10 Republican senators needed to add it to the omnibus spending package.
The late November Ukraine briefing to some members of Congress included discussion of the reasons Ukraine will continue to need U.S. weapons and equipment for the foreseeable future. Administration officials say they believe three recent deadly drone strikes against Russian military bases were carried out by Ukrainians, although they say it’s still not clear whether the Zelenskyy government ordered them directly. Senior U.S. military officers and Western governments say Ukraine has shown ingenuity and grit in fighting a larger, better-armed military and quickly incorporated new weapons systems provided by NATO members. If Ukraine made more advances against Russian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine, it could be better placed to eventually strike at Crimea, experts and a U.S. official said. In October, Ukraine indirectly claimed credit for damaging the Kerch Bridge in eastern Crimea, which connects it to mainland Russia.
The daughters of two Iranian Americans imprisoned in Iran for more than four years appealed for a face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden and called on him to take the tough decisions necessary to bring their fathers home. Morad Tahbaz has been imprisoned in Iran since 2018. It is his duty to bring Americans home who are wrongfully detained,” Tahbaz said. She said Biden was committed to securing the release of Americans wrongfully detained overseas. The third American held in Iran, Siamak Namazi, has been imprisoned for seven years.
“The Chinese Communist Party is weaponizing technology companies to further its geopolitical goals,” Rubio said in an email. Human rights advocates and lawmakers are concerned Iranian authorities could use Tiandy’s video surveillance technology to help squelch a wave of anti-regime protests in the country. The Biden administration last month effectively banned the sale or import of new equipment from a number of Chinese surveillance firms. China has strongly rejected U.S. criticism of Chinese tech companies and of its treatment of Uyghurs or other Muslim minorities in the country. But he said it was “absurd” to portray Chinese technology as a security threat.
Eight members voted against the resolution and 16 abstained. “The commission is the premier U.N. body for promoting gender equality and empowering women,” she said. Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, during a meeting to remove his country from membership in the Commission on the Status of Women on Wednesday. Yuki Iwamura / AFP - Getty ImagesIran, which ranks 143rd among 146 countries in the World Economic Forum's global gender gap index, was voted onto the commission by secret ballot. The vote to oust Iran from the commission came days after the country carried out a second known execution of a prisoner detained and convicted amid the nationwide protests challenging the country’s theocracy.
Russian forces in Ukraine are burning through ammunition faster than the country’s defense industry can replace it, U.S. National Intelligence Director Avril Haines said Saturday. Asked how fast Russia was using up ammunition, Haines said: “I don’t think I can give you precise numbers in this forum. Echoing previous statements from Biden administration officials, Haines said that Russia was using up precision munitions even faster than its conventional ammunition. The Biden administration previously said Russia has turned to North Korea to secure more supplies of artillery ammunition. Russian President Vladimir Putin was “surprised” at his military’s disappointing performance after its invasion of Ukraine in February, according to Haines.
Tiandy is one of several Chinese companies at the center of China’s vast domestic surveillance network, experts and human rights advocates say. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, said the embassy could not speak on behalf of Chinese private companies. Last week, the Biden administration effectively banned the sale or import of new equipment from a number of Chinese surveillance firms but Tiandy Technologies was not named. Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Chinese surveillance technology tends to be less expensive and more attractive for some authoritarian governments. Like other video technology companies in China, Tiandy’s software includes an ethnicity tracking tool that supposedly can digitally identify someone’s race.
The politics of anti-regime protests are dominating the run-up to a World Cup showdown between the U.S. and Iran, with coaches and players fielding politically charged questions before Tuesday’s match. I’m a soccer coach.” He also was asked for his thoughts about the U.S. military’s presence in the Persian Gulf. The protests at home have followed Iran’s soccer team throughout the World Cup, which began Nov. 20 in Qatar. At some of the games, Qatari police have confiscated T-shirts or signs supporting the protests in Iran. More recently, a prominent former soccer player in Iran, Voria Ghafouri, was arrested after he endorsed the protests, according to Iranian state-linked media.
Iran has started expanding uranium enrichment to 60 percent purity at an underground site in Fordow days after foreign governments accused Tehran of failing to cooperate with a U.N. investigation into its past nuclear work. Iran last year already embarked on enrichment up to 60 percent elsewhere at an above ground site in Natanz. The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It imposed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran. As Iran defied the provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal, it faced renewed international criticism over its response to a wave of anti-regime protests that erupted in September.
Iranian activists say protesters set a fire at the ancestral home of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the latest in a series of taboo-breaking acts in a wave of protests rocking the country. Protests continued across the country on Friday as funerals were held for young Iranians that activists say were killed by security forces, according to human rights groups. His family says he was killed by police, but Iranian authorities denied it and say the boy was shot by terrorists. Human rights groups based abroad say more than 300 Iranians have been killed in the protests. Iranian leaders have blamed the protests, which they refer to as “riots,” on foreign enemies, citing Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
Iran has plotted to kidnap or kill at least 10 British nationals or U.K.-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime this year, Britain’s domestic spy chief said Wednesday. Iran’s “aggressive intelligence services” are prepared to take reckless action and pose a direct threat to Britain, McCallum said. “At its sharpest this includes ambitions to kidnap or even kill British or U.K.-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime. The MI5 chief also outlined other threats to the U.K., citing Russia and China in particular. “The Chinese authorities use all the means at their disposal to monitor — and where they deem necessary intimidate — the Chinese diaspora.
CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann. Tyson tried to come to his aid after hearing Spann call his first name, and found four men on top of Spann, Tyson said. “But when it mattered, he ran towards his comrade — Mike Spann. Having already lost her husband to the war, Spann said the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan and its aftermath have been incredibly painful to watch. Nutsch is part of the group now working to help former Afghan allies escape the Taliban.
The United States on Wednesday called for Iran to be expelled from a U.N. commission on women, citing the regime’s “systematic oppression” of women and its violent crackdown on street protests. Iranian women have been at the forefront of protests across the country since a 22-year-old woman from the country’s Kurdish region, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody in September. Human rights groups have made similar allegations and issued detailed accounts of the crackdown. Two rights groups, Norway-based group Iran Human Rights and the U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency, said last week that more than 250 protesters have been killed since the protests began. “It’s time for us to stop abetting the Islamic Republic of Iran and start supporting the freedom-loving people of Iran,” said Boniadi.
It’s become routine since Russia invaded Ukraine: President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak by phone whenever the U.S. announces a new package of military assistance for Kyiv. Biden had barely finished telling Zelenskyy he’d just greenlighted another $1 billion in U.S. military assistance for Ukraine when Zelenskyy started listing all the additional help he needed and wasn’t getting. Biden lost his temper, the people familiar with the call said. Biden now faces resistance from some Republicans and Democrats that wasn’t present when Congress approved previous Ukraine funds. “I had an important conversation with U.S. President Biden today,” he said in videotaped remarks.
From anti-government graffiti to students heckling government officials, to women walking in the street without headscarves to workers putting down their tools, Iran’s regime looks increasingly bewildered by events. “It’s like a war, the Islamic Republic versus the Iranian people,” said the woman from Tehran. She and other Iranians say the helmeted police flooding the streets resemble an occupying force, unsure of their position and unable to trust the local population. The Norway-based group Iran Human Rights and the U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency said Friday more than 250 protesters have been killed in the six weeks since protests began. “We all know that this time we will overthrow the regime,” said the woman in Tehran.
The Biden administration has discussed slow-rolling military aid to Saudi Arabia, including shipments of advanced Patriot missiles, to punish the kingdom for leading OPEC’s decision to cut oil production, say two U.S. officials and a source familiar with the discussions. Some military officials support the idea, said the sources, but others want to make sure the military relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is kept separate from any retribution by the administration. OPEC’s move spurred a back and forth between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, with Biden administration officials vowing there would be consequences for the Saudis. “There needs to be a balance between punishing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and not making life more difficult or dangerous for the U.S.,” one U.S. official said. One White House official said that while changes to security assistance are under consideration the Biden administration is not in a rush to take action.
The Biden administration imposed sanctions on 14 Iranian officials after a violent crackdown on nationwide protests in Iran, vowing to hold the regime accountable for its "brutal suppression" of dissent, officials said Wednesday. The sustained protests, which have spread to universities and some factories and teachers associations, mark an unprecedented challenge to the regime’s authority. But officials still say they remain open to restoring the deal, which imposes limits on Iran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions. The administration views the protests as a moral issue, a question of "right and wrong," the official said. The package of sanctions unveiled Wednesday designated Hossein Modarres Khiabani, the governor of Sistan and Baluchistan province, where U.S. officials say some of the worst violence against protesters has unfolded.
Qatari officials have said they plan to suspend evacuation flights for Afghan refugees hoping to resettle in the U.S. while the country hosts soccer’s World Cup next month, according to refugee advocates, congressional aides and a source familiar with the Qatari government’s plans. Afghan refugees trying to book flights to Doha have received emails saying it’s not possible to reserve a seat until January, Afghans and advocacy groups said. Flights are continuing to operate at the moment but refugee organizations are worried the planes will soon stop flying out of Kabul. The Biden administration has not released up-to-date numbers on how many Afghans are in the pipeline for special immigrant visas. A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. has issued more than 18,000 special immigrant visas to Afghan applicants and their family members from January 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022.
The U.S. has evidence that Iran sent troops to Ukraine to help Russia launch drone attacks on targets across the country, Biden administration officials said Thursday. “We assess that Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations,” Kirby said. The U.S. has “credible information that Russian officials prior to the presence of Iranian trainers in Crimea have received training in Iran,” Price said. The New York Times first reported that Iranian personnel had been sent to Ukraine to guide Russian forces in the use of newly acquired Iranian-made drones. The Biden administration earlier this year accused Iran of preparing to send drones to Russia.
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