Daily Archives: April 27, 2014

US denies 10yr Philippines security pact aimed against China

Protest rally against the up-coming visit of President Barrack Obama.

A new security treaty between the US and the Philippines to be signed Monday isn’t aimed at containing China’s military might, but is rather ensuring stability in the Asia-Pacific region, American officials said.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation agreement would permit the enhanced “rotational presence” of US forces in the Philippines.

The American military will also be able to train and conduct exercises with their Philippine counterparts for maritime security, disaster assistance and humanitarian aid.

It would also allow US troops, aircraft and ships to pass through the Philippines and see the creation of storages facilities for American equipment.

“We are not doing this because of China. We are doing this because we have a longstanding alliance partner [the Philippines]. They are interested in stepping up our military-to-military,” Evan Medeiros, Obama’s top advisor on Asia, was cited as saying by AFP.

Filipino negotiators previously said that the deal wouldn’t allow the US to establish military bases in the country, or position nuclear weapons there.

But Medeiros still called the document “the most significant agreement that we [the US] have concluded with the Philippines in decades.”

The treaty runs for 10 years, which is shorter than Washington was originally asking for, but it can be prolonged if both sides see it necessary, two senior US officials told Reuters.

An armed US marine patrols next to seahawk helicopters on the deck of 7th Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge shortly after arriving at the international port in Manila on March 18, 2014, for a port visit.

An armed US marine patrols next to seahawk helicopters on the deck of 7th Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge shortly after arriving at the international port in Manila on March 18, 2014, for a port visit.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US ambassador Philip Goldberg will put their signatures under the deal on April 28, just a few hours before President Barack Obama arrives to the Philippine capital, Manila, as part of his week-long Asian tour.

The United States is expected to gradually deploy combat ships, a squadron of F18s or F16s and maritime surveillance aircraft to the Philippines under the deal, a military source told Reuters.

“We are considering bases in Northern Luzon like Clark and Subic, and Fort Magsaysay, to accommodate the US forces. We will set aside space in those bases for their troops,” the source said.

Clark and Subic were the two military bases maintained by the US military northwest of Manila until 1992, when the Philippines Senate voted to evict American troops from the country.

However, eight years later, the Senate approved an agreement allowing for temporary visits by US forces and joint military drills between the armies of the two states.

A total of 149 US Navy vessels visited the Philippines last year – almost a two-fold increase in comparison with 68 ships in 2012.

Manila has been seeking greater military and diplomatic support from the US in recent years, due to a territorial dispute with China.

Beijing, which claims most of the resources-rich South China Sea, has seized control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012 despite the island being situated far closer to the Filipino landmass than the Chinese.

The Chinese refused to participate in the UN tribunal on the validity of its territorial claims, which the Philippines imitated, saying that the move “seriously damaged” bilateral relations.

In March, Chinese vessels tried to block ships, which were bringing supplies to a Philippine military outpost on a tiny reef also claimed by Beijing.

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BBC News – Ukraine : Pro-Russian gunmen show seized monitors

The European military observers were led into the building by masked gunmen

Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine have shown seized European military observers to the media, amid attempts to secure their immediate release.

One of the observers presented in the city of Sloviansk said that none of the group had been harmed.

A team from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is hoping to begin negotiations.

The gunmen continue to occupy official buildings in a dozen eastern cities, defying the government in Kiev.

In the latest to be reported, separatists in Donetsk seized control of the regional television and radio headquarters, demanding that broadcasts by Russian state channels be switched back on, in place of Ukrainian-language services.

In a separate development on Sunday, pro-Russian gunmen said they had captured three Ukrainian security services members overnight in eastern Ukraine. Kiev later confirmed a number of its officers had been seized.

This comes as the US and EU are preparing new sanctions against Russia, accusing it of destabilising Ukraine.

US President Barack Obama said the Kremlin had “not lifted a finger” to implement last week’s deal in Geneva aimed at easing the crisis.

The European monitors said they had been unarmed, and not part of a Nato mission

Militia leaders also said they had captured three Ukrainian security service members overnight

Pro-Russian gunmen continue to occupy official buildings in a dozen cities in eastern Ukraine

EU diplomats are expected to meet on Monday to discuss fresh sanctions against Russia.

The Kremlin denies supporting the militia in eastern Ukraine.

‘Treated as mayor’s guests’

The observers from Germany, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic were presented to reporters in Sloviansk on Sunday.

The monitors – who were captured in the flashpoint town on Friday – were led into the building by masked gunmen.

“All the European officers are in good health and no-one is sick,” said German monitor Col Axel Schneider.

He stressed that they were not Nato officers, but an international group working for the OSCE – and that they were not armed fighters but diplomats in uniforms.

“We are not prisoners of war. We are the guests of (self-declared Sloviansk) Mayor (Vyacheslav) Ponomaryov, and being treated as such.”

However he also said the group had “no indication when we will be sent home to our countries.”

Earlier in the day, an OSCE source told the BBC that a negotiating team had been sent to Sloviansk to try to secure the monitors’ release.

Earlier, Mr Ponomaryov said there was the possibility of exchanging the monitors for militia members held by the Kiev government.

Russia, an OSCE member, earlier pledged that it would “take all possible steps” to secure the release of the observers.

Kiev has accused the militia of using the Europeans as a “human shield”.

The West is accusing Moscow of leading a secessionist revolt in eastern Ukraine after it annexed Crimea last month. Moscow denies the claim.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine must end military operations in the east of the country as part of urgent measures to defuse the crisis.

 

Ukrainian troops have carried out a number of raids to try to regain control of official buildings.

The crisis began when protesters toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February and has since plunged East-West relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Russia has tens of thousands of troops deployed along its side of the border with Ukraine and has said it will act if its interests are threatened.

On Saturday, the G7 praised Ukraine for acting with restraint in dealing with the “armed bands” that had occupied government buildings.

But the group, which comprises the US, UK, Germany, Japan, France, Canada and Italy, condemned Russia’s “increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military manoeuvres.”

The G7 said it was committed to intensifying sanctions on Russia, ahead of Ukrainian presidential elections next month.

 

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Anti-govt protesters seize TV station in eastern Ukraine, call for own channel

Activists stand guard outside a regional television station after it was seized by pro-Russian separatists, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, on April 27, 2014.

Pro-Russian protesters have seized a local state TV station in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, demanding that Russian TV channels be broadcast there. They also want to launch a “Donetsk People’s Republic” TV channel.

According to media reports, technical work is currently being done at the TV station to restart the transmission of Russian channels. Itar-Tass reports that some Russian TV channels have resumed work in Donetsk.

“Their experts are now setting up equipment on our frequency to broadcast Russian TV channels,” TV station CEO Oleg Dzholos told Ukraine’s Channel 5, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

One of the protesters has told the news agency that “Russia 24” channel is already broadcasting instead of local “Channel 27”.

Protesters have left the building, but still left their security there.

“Nobody freed the TV station – protesters left, but there is our security there as well as our technicians and the station’s crew,” an unnamed man told Interfax-Ukraine.

Masked activists march to seize a regional television station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, home of the local telecommunication antennas and studios of the regional TV station Channel 27, on April 27, 2014.

It has also been reported that pro-Russian protesters held talks with the TV center’s executives to begin broadcasting the “Donetsk People’s Republic” television channel.

“There were many demands. First – switch off Ukrainian channels. I explained that we are Donetsk state TV and radio station and from our central control room, there is only our signal. There were experts and they understood me. The following demand was – not a demand, an ultimatum – to switch on, if I am not mistaken, Russia-24 TV channel,” Dzholos said.

So far, all Ukrainian TV channels continue their broadcast.

Protesters entered the TV station late Sunday afternoon, saying they were unsatisfied with the way the situation in the region was covered in local news and shows. Protesters demanded that Ukrainian channels be blocked.

They have taken down the Ukrainian flag from the TV station’s office and hoisted the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. It was also taken down later.

Pro-Russian activists seize a regional television station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, on April 27, 2014.

Protesters brought satellite antennas and other equipment and placed guards at the entrance to the television center, Itar-Tass reported.

Prior to taking control of the TV station, over 3,000 people gathered at Donetsk’s central Lenin Square. Protesters started the rally with one minute’s silence to commemorate Berkut Special Forces officers killed in clashes with radicals in Kiev’s Independence Square, and activists killed by Right Sector radicals at a checkpoint in Slavyansk on Easter Sunday.

Russian TV channels have been blocked across Ukraine since the beginning of March, after the Ukrainian media watchdog claimed that shutting down Russian TV stations ensured the country’s “national security and sovereignty.”

Pro-Russian activists hold Russian flags and shout slogans during a rally outside a regional television station which was seized by pro-Russian separatists, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, on April 27, 2014.

At least five major Russian channels, including Vesti, Russia-24, Channel One’s international broadcasts, RTR ‘Planeta’ and NTV World were immediately excluded from the list of options by providers throughout Ukraine.

The move was strongly condemned by the OSCE, which called the move “repressive” and “a form of censorship.”

A Ukrainian police officer looks at activists standing guard outside a regional television station after it was seized by pro-Russian separatists, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, on April 27, 2014.

Since then, the situation in Donetsk has deteriorated, with people demanding a referendum on the region’s autonomy from Kiev. Amid massive protests, when a number of government building were stormed and seized by anti-government activists, Kiev launched an “anti-terrorist” military operation targeting rallying civilians.

Masked activists stand guard a regional television station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, on April 27, 2014.

 RT News.

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New vulnerability found in Internet Explorer

According to  a confirmation by Microsoft late last night, a new zero day vulnerability has been found to affect every version of Internet Explorer. In other words—over a quarter of the entire browser market.

Attacks taking advantage of the vulnerability are largely targeting IE versions 9, 10, and 11 in something called a “use after free” attack. Essentially, the attack corrupts data as soon as memory has been released, most likely after users have been lured to phony websites. Microsoft explains:

The vulnerability exists in the way that Internet Explorer accesses an object in memory that has been deleted or has not been properly allocated. The vulnerability may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer. An attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website.

Microsoft is currently investigating the issue and will likely release an out-of-cycle security patch to take care of the problem. Let’s just hope it comes soon, because according to security firm Fire Eye, this means that about 26 percent of the entire browser market is at risk.

And since Windows XP users won’t be getting the patch for this fairly threatening bug, anyone still running the now-unsupported software is going to have to cough up some big bucks to stay safe.

Source: gizmodo  The Real Nerd Herd.

Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983.

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Water was flowing on Mars 200,000 years ago – scientists

The crater formed long after the most recent proposed ice age on Mars, which ended some 400,000 years ago (PA/Nasa Hubble Space Telescope)

The crater formed long after the most recent proposed ice age on Mars, which ended some 400,000 years ago (PA/Nasa Hubble Space Telescope)

New research has suggested that water was flowing across the surface of Mars some 200,000 years ago. The nature of rock formations in a Mars crater suggests the sediment deposits and channels it contained were formed by ‘recent’ flowing water.

Swedish scientists from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg identified “Very young …and well-preserved deposits of water bearing debris flows in a mid-latitude crater on Mars,” according to the study published in the journal Icarus.

It was previously estimated that liquid water flowed across the Red Planet during its last ‘ice-age’, some 400,000 years ago. However, the young age of the crater means the features signifying water must have appeared since.

The scientists drew comparisons between the geomorphological land formations and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The crater had features of areas on earth where debris flow had caused material to be deposited by fast-flowing water.

“Our fieldwork on Svalbard confirmed our interpretation of the Martian deposits,” stated Andreas Johnsson, a spokesperson for the research team.

“Our study crater on Mars is far too young to have been influenced by the conditions that were prevalent then. This suggests that the meltwater-related processes that formed these deposits have been exceptionally effective also in more recent times,” said Johnsson.

“If we find on Mars evidence for a second genesis, that changes everything,” Johnsson added.

A debris flow takes place when liquid water soaks through debris lying on an incline to the point that it becomes saturated and heavy, causing it to descend down the incline.

On earth, debris flow can result in material destruction and sometimes casualties, depending upon their severity.

When the flow stops, new landforms are made, including lobate deposits and paired levees. It is these that Johnsson has identified on the planet.

“Gullies are common on Mars, but the ones which have been studied previously are older, and the sediments where they have formed are associated with the most recent ice age. Our study crater on Mars is far too young to have been influenced by the conditions that were prevalent then,” Johnson said.

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