And so very much more. . .

First up, from Al Jazeera’s AJ+, it’s official:

Fox News Says…The Holy War Is Here!

Program notes:

A Holy War has begun and you should be very afraid! That’s according to Fox News, the news network famous for fear mongering and “fair and balanced” reporting.

From the Washington Post, a domestic security problem:

Threatening ‘white power’ letters appear at police department with a history of racial tensions

Dozens of copies of a threatening and racially charged letter were circulated within a Connecticut police department with a long history of racial tensions, black officers said.

The note, typed on official City of Bridgeport Department of Police letterhead, began and ended with the words “WHITE POWER.” “These Black Officers Belong in the toilet,” the letter reads in part.

Bridgeport Police Lt. Lonnie Blackwell said the unsigned letter comes as no surprise to officers of color in the department, which has long struggled to remedy discrimination claims dating to at least the 1970s.

“This is not the first race-based letter that has circulated recently throughout the Bridgeport Police Department, but this is the most severe and damaging letter,” Blackwell, an African American department veteran, told The Washington Post in an interview. “We’re very concerned for our safety and our well-being as black police officers.”

From the Washington Post, we are not surprised:

Lying in the military is common, Army War College study says

A new study by Army War College professors found that not only is lying common in the military, the armed forces themselves may be inadvertently encouraging it.

The study, released Tuesday, was conducted by retired Army officers and current War College professors Leonard Wong and Stephen J. Gerras. They found that untruthfulness is “surprisingly common in the U.S. military even though members of the profession are loath to admit it.”

The paper’s release follows a series of high-profile incidents involving bad behavior across the services, including a still-widening corruption case involving senior Navy officers and at least two incidents in which Army generals were accused of sexual assault.

From The Hill, similarly unsurprising:

White House: Israel ‘cherry-picking’ intel that distorts Iran talks

The White House is accusing Israel of “cherry-picking” information that distorts the U.S. position in nuclear talks with Iran.

“There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate. There’s no question about that,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

“We’ve also been very clear about the fact that the United States is not going to be in a position of negotiating this agreement in public, particularly when we see that there is a continued practice of cherry-picking specific pieces of information and using them out of context to distort the negotiating position of the United States.”

The White House spokesman said those involved in the talks are obligated to act in “good faith.”

From the New York Times, reasonable suspicions:

Fear of Israeli Leaks Fuels Distrust Over U.S. Talks With Iran

With the Obama administration racing to negotiate the outlines of a nuclear deal with Iran by the end of March, aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have charged in recent days that they are being deliberately left in the dark about the details of the talks. The Americans have said that is untrue, but even one of Washington’s closest negotiating partners reports being warned about being too open with the Israelis, “because whatever we say may be used in a selective way.”

The tensions between the United States and Israel over negotiating with Tehran have a long and twisted history, and they plunged to a new low when Mr. Netanyahu engineered an invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress, in less than two weeks, to warn against a “bad deal.”

Now, with Mr. Netanyahu maneuvering to survive a March 17 election, and Mr. Obama pressing for a breakthrough agreement that could end three decades of enmity with Iran and reduce the chances of a military confrontation, it seems that Washington and Jerusalem are engaging in the diplomatic equivalent of posting notes to each other on the refrigerator door.

From the Guardian, Jeb endorses the panopticon:

Jeb Bush backs brother’s NSA surveillance program ‘to keep us safe’

Presidential contender says of NSA dragnet ‘this is a hugely important program’, in sharp contrast to Republican rivals for the White House

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush delivered a full-throated defense of government surveillance programs on Wednesday, expressing a resounding faith in techniques pioneered by his brother, George W Bush, and staking out a position in sharp contrast with other prospective 2016 presidential candidates.

Dragnet metadata collection by the National Security Agency and similar programs were necessary to keeping US citizens safe from foreign terror threats, Bush said – unprompted – during remarks laying out his foreign policy vision as a prospective 2016 presidential candidate.

“For the life of me, I don’t understand – the debate has gotten off track, where we’re not understanding and protecting,” Bush said in a major speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

From the Associated Press, an accessory pays up:

Poland to pay $262,000 to inmates held at secret CIA prison

Poland will pay 230,000 euros ($262,000) in compensation to two terror suspects who say they were tortured at a CIA secret prison that Poland hosted from 2002-2003, a government minister said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna spoke after the European Court of Human Rights in France rejected Poland’s appeal of its earlier ruling.

“We will abide by this ruling because we are a law-abiding country,” Schetyna told Polish Radio 3. “It is a question of the coming weeks, a month.”

But he questioned how the money would be used and whether it needed to be paid directly to the suspects, who are imprisoned in Guantanamo.

From the Guardian, NSAnywhere:

Google warns of US government ‘hacking any facility’ in the world

Google says increasing the FBI’s powers set out in search warrants would raise ‘monumental’ legal concerns that should be decided by Congress

Google is boldly opposing an attempt by the US Justice Department to expand federal powers to search and seize digital data, warning that the changes would open the door to US “government hacking of any facility” in the world.

In a strongly worded submission to the Washington committee that is considering the proposed changes, Google says that increasing the FBI’s powers set out in search warrants would raise “monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide”.

The search giant warns that under updated proposals, FBI agents would be able to carry out covert raids on servers no matter where they were situated, giving the US government unfettered global access to vast amounts of private information.

From the Guardian, the penultimate contempt:

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The Independent covers InSecurity in British high places:

Downing Street accused of being ‘systemically negligent’ with national security secrets after name of ex-SAS officer finds its way into the public domain

Downing Street has been accused of “systemic” negligence in its approach to the handling of sensitive information – by the body charged with keeping threats to national security out of the media.

No 10 is at the centre of an extraordinary row with the secretive DA Notice Committee after the name of a senior former SAS officer found its way into the public domain, The Independent can reveal.

The officer was named when he took up his post as military adviser to No 10 last year. The DA Notice Committee alleges that the name of the ex-SAS man was deliberately given to The Sun newspaper in direct contravention of rules governing the identification of present or former members of Britain’s Special Forces.

After the jump, French surveillance gaps, Aussie metadata storage scheme costs still secret, another claim Pyongyang hacked Sony, whipping up malware with a British cooking site, fake Windows 10 update sites serve up malware too, a unique twist to an Israeli malware attack, a biased Pakistani web crackdown, while Obama disses North Korea’s hacker team, on to the Isis front and a fragmenting Iraq, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria changes course on arming “moderates,” whilst Washington admits having vetted at least 1,200, Isis threatens to flood an increasingly xenophobic Europe with refugees and Italy’s already alarmed, and a reminder of an American bad example, civilians killed in an anti-Boko Haram air strike in Nigeria while Nigeria claims beaucoup Bokos slain, another Tanzanian albino infant butchered for black magic, Pakistan orders a mass expulsion of Afghans, allegations Indian weaponized rape, India greenlights six nuclear subs, seven stealth frigates, mass flight from Myanmar civil war, China tells neighbors to order Uighur returns, Seoul censors a “Comfort Women” book, and a Japanese paper sued over “Comfort Women”a articles, Shinzo Abe’s government readies an overseas deployment law, Abe targets legalized foreign weaponry sales, and new Tokyo/Beijing security talks slated, And two reminders of some nasty old habits resurfacing, first in a racist rank by Brits in Paris, and then in dramatic evidence of prejudice against would-be Latino-named voters in the U.S. . . .

From the New York Times, deficiencies:

Gaps in France’s Surveillance Are Clear; Solutions Aren’t

Last June, Patrick Calvar, the head of France’s domestic intelligence service, faced a decision: continue surveillance on a French Islamist who had been viewed as a potential threat for a decade, or shift limited resources to help monitor a swelling new generation of fighters returning from Syria.

The surveillance on the Islamist, Saïd Kouachi, had turned up nothing for over two years, and monitoring of his younger brother, Chérif Kouachi, had been abandoned the previous year, French officials say. Earlier in 2014, the intelligence service had transferred Saïd Kouachi’s case for several months to the Paris police, a sign that it was no longer considered a priority.

The three-member commission scrutinizing requests for cellphone monitoring by the intelligence agency had signaled that its recommendation would be against further surveillance. And the prime minister, Manuel Valls, was under intense pressure to focus on what seemed to be the more immediate threat emanating from Syria; the previous month, Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman who had fought in Syria, had gunned down four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels.

From the Guardian, Aussie metadata storage scheme costs still secret:

Government refuses to reveal cost to taxpayers of scheme to store metadata

Tony Abbott says cost of plan to force telecommunications companies to store customer data could be up to $400m but won’t detail government’s contribution

The federal government has refused to reveal the cost to taxpayers of its proposed data retention scheme, but Tony Abbott ratcheted up his demands for parliament to pass the legislation to avoid “unilateral disarmament in the face of criminals”.

The prime minister hinted that the scheme would cost up to $400m when he visited the Gold Coast on Wednesday to campaign on the importance of storing telecommunications data to investigate child exploitation crimes.

“There are a range of figures … but even at the highest estimate it’s less than 1% of this $40bn a year and growing [telecommunications] sector,” Abbott said.

Another claim Pyongyang hacked Sony, via Network World:

What’s in a typo? More evidence tying North Korea to the Sony hack

Security firm CrowdStrike is among those who believe North Korea was the culprit, and on Tuesday it presented another piece of evidence to support that claim.

CrowdStrike said it found similarities between the malware used against Sony and a piece of destructive code deployed in 2013 by a group it calls Silent Chollima, which has already been linked to several attacks on South Korea and the U.S.

Parts of the code used in each attack are almost identical in their structure and functionality, CrowdStrike CTO Dmitri Alperovitch said during a webcast Tuesday in which he described how the Sony attack was carried out. (A replay will be available here.)

What’s more, he said, the malware used in both attacks contains the same typographical error in the same place, spelling “security” as “secruity.”

While Obama disses North Korea’s hacker team, via the Japan Times:

North Korea’s cybercapabilities not so good: Obama

North Korea’s cyberattack capabilities are actually not very good, according to an impromptu ranking by U.S. President Barack Obama.

In an interview with the online site re/code published Tuesday, Obama used North Korea’s relative lack of electronic prowess to underscore how dangerous even less skilled cyberattackers can be.

“Just to give you a sense of how challenging this is — it’s not as if North Korea is particularly good at this,” Obama said. “But look how much damage they were able to do. Nonstate actors can do a lot damage, as well. So we’ve got to constantly upgrade our game.”

Obama slapped sanctions on North Korea last month following the hacking of Hollywood studio Sony Pictures’ computer network.

Cooking up malware with a British cooking site, via the Guardian:

Jamie Oliver’s site serves up a tasty slice of malware

Hackers hijack JamieOliver.com leading some users to download malicious software that could take control of their computers

The official site of TV chef Jamie Oliver, which sees an average of 10m visits per month, has been compromised by hackers serving malicious files to visitors which could take control of their computers.

JamieOliver.com, which is ranked number 538 in the UK according to analytics firm Alexa, was hacked into by criminals, either through a compromised plugin used by Oliver’s site or through stolen login details for the site.

The attack was spotted by security firm Malware Bytes, which alerted Oliver’s site operators. The site appears to have since been cleaned of the malicious files.

Visitors were shown another website embedded directly into the site, which attacked their computers through bugs in Flash, Microsoft’s Silverlight and Java.

From TechWorm, fake Windows 10 update sites serve up malware too,

Cyber-criminals using fake Windows 10 activators to scam you!!!

Growing popularity for Windows 10 has offered a tailormade Windows 10 activators scam for cybercriminals

Microsoft has given the opportunity to its user to join the Windows Insider Program so as to develop its new version of Windows 10 which can be user friendly and as well as technically efficient. Users who have joined this Technical Preview are constantly on the radar of these cyber-criminals.

Cyber-criminals are using YouTube by posting lots of fake windows 10 “activators” videos. If user activates this fake activator they would be directed to some illicit survey websites which may be a source of generating finance to these criminals. The website might lead users to click unwanted hidden ads and thus make illicit gains for the scam operators.

Some of these Windows 10 “activators” can lead the user to download unwanted applications which can lead to PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program) and viruses. Some of the sites may even lead users to indefinite surveys in the name of downloading the Windows new version.

A unique twist to an Israeli malware attack, via Network World:

Israel targeted by malware packaged with pornographic video

Israeli institutions have been targeted by an Arab-speaking hacker group that sought to extract sensitive documents, according to Trend Micro.

The campaign, which Trend called Operation Arid Viper, focused on sending phishing emails to targets. Those emails came with malware packaged with a short pornographic video, according to the company’s report.

The phishing emails were sent to targets including a government office, infrastructure providers, a military organization and academic institutions in Israel and Kuwait.

The attacks “targeted professionals who might be receiving very inappropriate content at work and so would hesitate to report the incident,” Trend wrote. “These victims’ failure to act on the threat could have then allowed the main malware to remain undiscovered.”

A biased Pakistani web crackdown, via the Guardian:

Dissenting voices silenced in Pakistan’s war of the web

YouTube is banned and tweets are censored, while pornography thrives and foreign Islamist militants have their say

Pakistan already goes further than most in digitally shielding its citizens from the outside world. There are only two countries where Facebook blocks more content at the request of their governments, and a YouTube ban imposed two years ago shows no sign of being lifted.

That is not enough for some. In a country becoming ever more sensitive to perceived insults to Islam it is not just clerics and hard-right religious parties who want more control over the internet, but also a group of tech-savvy activists who have built their own alternative Facebook. “We are the largest Muslim social network in history,” said Omer Zaheer Meer.

The young accountant co-founded Millat Facebook, now known as myMFB, after failing to persuade a court to ban the real thing in 2010 during a controversy about a campaign to encourage people to post pictures of the prophet Muhammad.

On to the Isis front and a fragmenting Iraq, via the Christian Science Monitor:

In fight against Islamic State, Iraqi sectarianism is rising, not falling

A look at what that means for the US strategy in Iraq, and for Iraq’s future

When Haider al-Abadi became Iraq’s prime minister last August, President Barack Obama hailed what he described as a new “inclusive” Iraqi government with the ability to unite Shiite and Sunni Arabs, and ethnic Kurds, in the fight against the self-styled Islamic State.

The US had withheld military support to Iraq because of concerns that the previous prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was far more dedicated to protecting Shiite interests in Iraq rather than Iraqi ones. The White House apparently believed that Mr. Abadi – a politician from the same religious Shiite party as Mr. Maliki – would upend the chauvinistic policies of his predecessor.

In the six months since, it hasn’t worked out that way: Iraq’s sectarian death squads and militias are rampant again after a few years of relative quiet. And the battle within Iraq stands in the way of any simple resolution of a widening conflict.

A change of heart, via the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Once a top booster, ex-U.S. envoy no longer backs arming Syrian rebels

Robert Ford was always one of the Syrian rebels’ loudest cheerleaders in Washington, agitating from within a reluctant administration to arm vetted moderates to fight Bashar Assad’s brutal regime.

In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists.

The about-face, which is drawing murmurs among foreign policy analysts and Syrian opposition figures in Washington, is another sign that the so-called moderate rebel option is gone and the choices in Syria have narrowed to regime vs. extremists in a war that’s killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.

Whilst Washington admits having vetted at least 1,200, via the Associated Press:

US has screened 1,200 moderate Syrian rebels for training

The Pentagon says the U.S. has screened about 1,200 moderate Syrian rebels who could participate in a new training program so they eventually can return to the fight against Islamic State insurgents.

Press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says they will continue to be screened as they move through the process. He says they could go to any of the three training facilities in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — once those sites are set up.

Kirby says the rebel fighters come from several moderate groups in Syria.

Kirby says the training will focus on basic military equipment and skills.

Delivering a threat to an increasingly xenophobic Europe, via the London Daily Mail:

ISIS threatens to send 500,000 migrants to Europe as a ‘psychological weapon’ in chilling echo of Gaddafi’s prophecy that the Mediterranean ‘will become a sea of chaos’

Italian press today published claims that ISIS has threatened to release the huge wave of migrants to cause chaos in Europe if they are attacked

And letters from jihadists show plans to hide terrorists among refugees

In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi ominously predicted war would come to Libya

He was deposed in a violent coup and killed in October of the same year

Islamic State executed 21 Egyptian Christians on Libyan beach this week

Crisis in Libya has led to surge in number of migrants heading for Europe

From Reuters, the already alarmed:

Italy warns of Libya threat as pressure for action grows

Italy called on Wednesday for urgent international action to halt Libya’s slide into chaos and said it was ready to help monitor a ceasefire and train local armed forces.

The U.N. Security Council is due to meet later on Wednesday to discuss Libya, where two rival governments, each backed by former rebels who toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, are battling for power.

The growing danger became apparent on Sunday when Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told parliament that possible alliances between local militias and IS militants, inspired by their counterparts in Syria and Iraq, risked destabilising neighbouring countries.

And a reminder of an American bad example, via MintPress News:

With Secret Prisons, The US Challenges The Very Principles It Says It’s Fighting For

“By turning its back on international law, America has set a dangerous precedent. In many ways it has legitimized war crimes, justifying torture as a necessary evil,” one political analyst tells MintPress News

The United States was traumatized by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shocked by the notion that dark powers might seek to destroy freedom and democracy, the very principles upon which the nation was built. Yet it is the broader world which bears the scars of America’s war on terror.

Reeling from the attacks on its soil on 9/11, the U.S. government declared itself at war against terror and anyone who dared to stand in its way. Although international law stipulates that every nation has the inherent and absolute right to defend its people and territorial sovereignty, Washington’s desire and will to do so has often translated to grave legal infringements on the ground — against people, against nations and against international law.

“In just over a decade America’s war on terror has become a euphemism for aggravated human rights violations, which is a bit ironic considering Washington has claimed the moral high ground against groups such as al-Qaida and ISIS,” Marwa Osman, a political analyst and lecturer at Lebanese International University in Beirut, told MintPress News.

“In order to fight terror, the so-called ‘free world’ has committed as many, if not worse, atrocities than the very people and groups it so despises. Rendition, torture, unlawful arrests, unlawful imprisonments, the list goes on and on,” Osman continued.

On to the Boko Haram front with the Guardian:

Air strike on Niger village kills dozens

Unidentified aircraft bombards village near border with Nigeria, hitting mourners at funeral ceremony, as Niger takes part in regional offensive against Boko Haram

As many as 30 mourners at a funeral ceremony were killed when an unidentified plane bombarded a village in Niger near the Nigerian border, local officials have said.

The air strike on Tuesday came while Niger is involved in a regional offensive against Boko Haram fighters, who have waged a six-year insurgency that has killed more than 13,000 people.

“The victims were residents attending a mourning ceremony for a prefecture official,” said a humanitarian source, who said that between 20 and 30 people had been killed in the attack near the mosque in Abadam.

While Nigeria claims to have killed beaucoup Bokos, via Reuters:

Nigeria military says it kills 300 Islamists as neighbours join fight

Nigerian forces have killed more than 300 Boko Haram fighters during an operation to recapture 11 towns and villages since the start of the week, the military said on Wednesday, as its war increasingly sucked in neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The latest fighting comes as the tide has appeared to turn against Boko Haram, with neighbouring countries plagued by cross border attacks weighing in against the insurgents.

Amid growing global concern, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin are preparing a 8,700-strong force to fight the Islamists.

“Weapons and equipment were also captured and some destroyed,” Nigerian defence spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade said of the latest fighting. “However, two soldiers lost their lives while 10 others were wounded.”

Another Tanzanian albino infant butchered for black magic, via Al Jazeera America:

Abducted Tanzanian albino boy found dead with limbs severed

Murder renews calls for tougher action to stop killings of albinos, whose body parts are prized in black magic

Tanzanian police said on Wednesday they had found the mutilated body of a one-year-old albino boy whose abduction renewed calls for tougher action to stop the killing of albinos for their body parts, prized in black magic.

An armed gang snatched Yohana Bahati from his mother at their home in northwestern Tanzania’s Geita region on Sunday, a month after the government announced a nationwide ban on witch doctors, who are accused of encouraging attacks on albinos.

He was the second albino child in two months to be abducted in the Lake zone of Tanzania. A four-year-old girl who was kidnapped in December is still missing.

From Reuters, Pakistan orders a mass expulsion of Afghans:

Afghans ordered out of Pakistan as ‘diversion’ in militant fight

Afghan immigrants ordered out of Pakistan in what officials say is a bid to root out militants are, some analysts say, scapegoats being used to distract attention from the authorities’ failure to end violence.

Thousands of Afghans unnerved by threats of arrest and growing hostility towards them have flocked out of Pakistan back home, leaving behind boarded-up shops, houses and restaurants.

Within hours of a Dec. 16 attack on a school in the city of Peshawar in which more than 150 people were killed, officials pointed the finger at Afghanistan and vowed to crack down on illegal immigrants whom they say furnish a cover for militants.

Thousands of Afghans have since left, with long queues of cars loaded with belongings snaking through the Khyber Pass up to the border. Many more are packing their bags in Peshawar and preparing to leave.

Militarized rape allegations, via the Hindu:

Politics of rape in Kashmir

The ‘high-profile’ cases of sexual violence in the Kashmir Valley show a pattern of intimidation and threats that have been deployed by the government, the police and the military so that the cases do not reach the trial stage

Last year at a seminar in Srinagar, women from Kunan-Poshpora, twin villages in Kupwara district of Kashmir, publicly recounted the night of February 23, 1991, when soldiers of the Indian Army invaded their lives, privacy and dignity. Masquerading as a “cordon and search operation to catch militants,” the soldiers of 4th Rajputana Rifles, of the Army’s 68th Brigade, entered the villages and launched the most potent tool of repression used in theatres of political conflict — rape, sexual humiliation and sexual torture.

Sexualised violence in wars and conflicts is neither incidental, nor is it a question of sex. When 125 soldiers lay down a siege over a village, separate the men from the women and sexually assault more than 50 women, from ages 13 to 60, it is indicative of a systemic military practice. The intent was not only to terrorise and traumatise the people under assault — they are often accused of harbouring militants — but also sending out a message of retribution to the Kashmir resistance movement.

The survivors, who appeared in front of a large gathering in Srinagar, for the first time since the incident, were accompanied by Syed Mohammad Yasin, the Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara in 1991. Yasin broke down when he said: “I was shocked to see the plight of the women … A woman told me that she was kept under jackboots by the soldiers while her daughter and daughter-in-law were being raped before her eyes. A pregnant woman was not spared either….” The message of retaliation, humiliation and shame was palpable.

India greenlights six nuclear subs, seven stealth frigates, via the Express Tribune:

Strong defence: Modi approves construction of 6 nuclear-powered submarines

In a bid towards building a formidable blue-water Navy for the future, the Modi government in India has approved the construction of six nuclear-powered submarines and seven stealth frigates, which together will cost about Rs1 lakh crore (INR), The Times of India reports.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has taken these decisions with “critical necessity” for India to bolster its “overall deterrence capability” in the Indian Ocean region, particularly its primary area of strategic interest stretching from the Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait.

Under the over Rs 50,000 crore ‘Project-17A’ for stealth frigates, four will be constructed at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai and three in Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata. “The contract will be inked with MDL and GRSE this month itself, with an initial payment of Rs 4,000 crore,” said a source.

From Channel NewsAsia Singapore, mass flight from Myanmar civil war:

Tens of thousands flee Myanmar conflict as aid curbed

Nearly 90,000 civilians in northeastern Myanmar are believed to have fled clashes between troops and ethnic rebels, an official said on Wednesday (Feb 18), as sporadic violence hampered efforts to evacuate those still trapped.

Rebels fear the national army is planning a major assault following the imposition of a state of emergency in the Kokang region of Shan state on Tuesday.

Whole towns and villages lie empty in the rugged, remote area as tens of thousands of residents have fled their homes – some on foot. At least 30,000 people, mainly the ethnic Chinese Kokang, have crossed the border into China’s Yunnan province, sparking alarm in Beijing.

China tells neighbors to order Uighur returns, via Al Jazeera English:

China to neighbours: Send us your Uighurs

Afghanistan is among several countries under pressure to deport Chinese members of the Muslim ethnic group

The secretive deportations of Uighurs living in Afghanistan highlight China’s growing influence on its neighbours, who in recent years have come under pressure to hand over members of the persecuted minority living within their borders.

William Nee, a China researcher at Amnesty International, said the Chinese government has exerted diplomatic pressure on Thailand, Turkey and other countries to repatriate Uighurs.

Last November, China criticised Turkey for sheltering 200 Uighurs who had been rescued from human smugglers in Thailand. In 2009, China signed trade deals with Cambodia that were collectively worth about $1bn – two days after Cambodia deported 20 Uighurs to China.

From the Asahi Shimbun, Seoul censors a “Comfort Women” book:

Seoul court halts sales of book on grounds it dishonors ‘comfort women’

A court here ordered a halt to sales of a book on “comfort women” by a Korean professor, ruling that certain passages hurt the honor of the victims.

The Seoul Eastern District Court on Feb. 17 said sales and publication of “Comfort Women of the Empire,” written by Park Yu-ha, a professor of Japanese literature at Sejong University, can resume only after the passages are deleted.

Nine people, including many former comfort women, last year filed for a court injunction to halt sales and publication of the book. They argued that the book dishonored them.

And a Japanese paper sued over “Comfort Women”a articles, via Jiji Press:

2,100 Japanese Sue Asahi Shimbun over Comfort Women Stories

More than 2,100 Japanese filed a lawsuit against Asahi Shimbun Co. on Wednesday, demanding that the major Japanese newspaper publisher run advertisements in major U.S. and European dailies to apologize for its past stories about so-called comfort women.

In the suit, filed with Tokyo District Court, the plaintiffs called on Asahi to state in ads that its stories on wartime prostitutes for Japanese soldiers had misled international opinions about Japan and damaged their pride as Japanese.

They also pointed out that there would not have been any comfort woman statue in the United States if Asahi pulled back or corrected the past stories related to false testimony about comfort women much earlier than in August, when the company took such a step.

Asahi retracted a total of 16 comfort women articles based on false statements by Seiji Yoshida, a late Japanese author.

Shinzo Abe’s government readies an overseas deployment law, via the Mainichi:

Permanent law for deploying SDF overseas in final planning stage

The government and the ruling coalition have entered the final stage of formulating a permanent law designed to allow the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to give logistical support to foreign military forces for international peace cooperation.

The move follows a shift in policy by a wary Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s junior coalition partner, to accept the idea of enacting such a permanent law with some conditions such as imposing strict procedures requiring Diet approval for dispatching the SDF overseas. The focus of attention, therefore, is to shift to discussion on how to legally stop the government from dispatching the SDF abroad freely without debate.

The envisioned permanent law allows the government to dispatch the SDF overseas to provide logistical support in the form of supply missions or transport operations, for example, for the United States and other allied foreign military forces in the event of international peace being threatened. Under a July 2014 Cabinet decision on reworking the country’s security policy under the pacifist Constitution, the SDF can be dispatched to overseas areas other than those where combat is “currently” going on. The SDF will be required to halt its activities if and when combat begins.

Abe targets legalized foreign weaponry sales, via the Japan Times:

Abe government aims to OK supply of weapons to foreign militaries for logistical support

The Abe administration aims to lift a long-standing ban on providing weapons and ammunition to foreign militaries, in a bid to expand the Self-Defense Forces’ logistical support capabilities, a government source said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition may discuss the proposal as early as Friday, the source said.

Junior coalition partner Komeito is cautious about loosening constraints on the SDF, amid concern that providing arms to foreign militaries could run counter to Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

And new Tokyo/Beijing security talks slated, the Japan Times:

Japan, China may resume security talks in April: sources

Japan and China plan to hold in bilateral security talks in Tokyo as early as April — the first in four years between their foreign and defense ministries, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.

Japan is expected to use the occasion to relay its plans to enact legislation to put into effect last July’s Cabinet decision to reinterpret the pacifist postwar Constitution to allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

Japan is also likely to ask China to make its military spending more transparent and explain the reasons behind its military expansion, the sources said.

And two reminders of some nasty old habits resurfacing, first in a racist rank by Brits in Paris, via the Guardian:

Paris police launch inquiry after Chelsea fans seen abusing black man on film

Investigation begins in Paris into crimes of racial violence on public transport, with Scotland Yard set to study footage in bid to identify those involved

Police in Paris and London have launched investigations after Chelsea supporters were filmed singing a racist chant and preventing a black man from boarding the Paris Métro.

The footage, obtained exclusively by the Guardian, shows a man repeatedly trying to squeeze on to a busy train, only to be forcefully shoved out of the door and back on to the platform at the Richelieu–Drouot station before Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

The fans on the train are then heard chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it,” while a black woman is standing in front of them.

And from the Washington Post, the results of a survery by a trio of Harvard government Ph.D.:

New evidence shows election officials are biased against Latino voters

In September 2012, we contacted essentially all local election officials with short e-mails asking questions about voting. These e-mails were identical except for the name of the sender. A randomly selected half of the officials in each state received e-mails from a Latino name like “Luis Rodriguez,” while the others received the same e-mails from a non-Latino white name like “Greg Walsh.” (A similar type of experiment has been used to measure discrimination in everything from housing markets to state legislatures.)

The e-mail asked a question about either what identification would be needed in the upcoming election, or whether the sender needed to have voted in the primary election to vote in the general election. Responses were kept anonymous, and the study’s design made it impossible to identify bias by any individual official. But it does allow us to observe overall bias in responses to Latinos.

The Latino and non-Latino e-mailers both received many helpful responses. But nationwide, Latino names received fewer responses than non-Latinos and were more likely to receive vague and uninformative information about identification requirements.

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