Friday, July 13, 2018

Novichok spy-poison weapon bottle found in Porton Down home.


BBC: Novichok that poisoned a couple in Wiltshire came from a small bottle found in the home of one of the victims, police say.

A bottle was found in a search at Charlie Rowley's Amesbury house and was tested by scientists at Porton Down, the Metropolitan Police said.

Mr Rowley, 45, remains in hospital in Salisbury in a serious but stable condition after falling ill on 30 June.

His partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, died last weekend.

Scientists at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory are still trying to establish whether the deadly substance found at Mr Rowley's house came from the same batch of Novichok that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.
Cordons remain

Police said they were still trying to find out where the bottle came from, and why it ended up in the house.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, said it was "clearly a significant and positive development".

"However, we cannot guarantee that there isn't any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time," he added.

"This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team."

A spokesman said detectives had spoken to Mr Rowley and were due to speak to him again to establish how he and Ms Sturgess came to be contaminated.

A murder inquiry was started following the death of Ms Sturgess, a mother of three, on Sunday.

The discovery of the bottle comes as the Foreign Office announced independent chemical weapons experts would arrive in the UK next week to assist with the investigation.

Staff from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will travel to the UK to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent which led to Ms Sturgess's death.

The samples will be analysed at "highly reputable international laboratories designated by the OPCW", a spokesman said.

The discovery of the bottle is a significant moment.

It will help reassure residents in the local area that the risks to their health have been reduced, although the police say they cannot guarantee no more of the substance is left.

And it also may provide a significant piece of evidence in trying to establish how Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley came to be poisoned - and what link there might be with the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

The working assumption of police is that the bottle was a container discarded after the March poisoning.

It may now be possible to establish a scientific link by trying to match impurities in both samples of Novichok to see if the nerve agent comes from the same batch.

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said the discovery of the bottle was "significant and encouraging".

He said private security guards would join officers on some of the cordons from next week, as the investigation continued.

"This will free up some Wiltshire Police officers to get back to supporting day-to-day community policing,"

About 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network are continuing to work on the investigation, alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police, a spokesman said.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Laser armed Tactical Vehicles becoming a reality.





MCKINNEY, Texas. U.S. Army officials tapped Raytheon to develop a preliminary design of a 100 kW class laser weapon system that will integrate onboard the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTVs). The contract is worth an estimated $10 million.

"The beauty of this system is that it's self-contained," says Roy Azevedo, vice president of Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems at Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business unit. "Multi-spectral targeting sensors, fiber-combined lasers, power and thermal sub-systems are incorporated in a single package. This system is being designed to knock out rockets, artillery or mortar fire, or small drones."

The preliminary design that Raytheon engineers will develop falls under the U.S. Army's High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstration (HEL TVD) program contract. HEL TVD, a U.S. Army science and technology demonstration program, is part of the Army's Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 initiative. Upon HEL TVD Program Option Two completion, the one supplier will be awarded a system development and demonstration contract by the Army to build and integrate a weapon system on FMTVs.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trump considering housing 20k unaccompanied migrant children on U.S. military bases

ABC NEWS: 

The Trump administration is considering housing up to 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on U.S. military bases, according to a U.S. official.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made the request to the Department of Defense (DOD), and Congress has been notified, the official said.

The story was first reported by The Washington Post.

Last month, ABC News reported that HHS officials were touring four U.S. military bases to see if they could be used to house migrants in the event that other facilities reached capacity. Those bases were Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock, Ark.

While officials have completed their tours of those installations, no final determination has been made as to where the unaccompanied migrant children would be located.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that DOD would support the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if requested.

"We have housed refugees, we have housed people thrown out of their homes by earthquakes and hurricanes. We do whatever is in the best interest of the country," Mattis said.

HHS has used facilities on U.S. military bases to house migrants in the past.

In 2014, the department used bases in Texas, Oklahoma, and California to house 7,000 unaccompanied migrant children after HHS facilities reached capacity.

Mattis has already signed a memo allowing up to 4,000 National Guard troops to assist DHS with the security of the U.S./Mexico border. About 2,000 troops, mostly from the National Guards of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, are serving there now -- but as support services to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, not in a law enforcement capacity.

Several governors have pulled their small contingencies of Guard troops from participating in the southern border security mission in protest over the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance policy" on immigration that forcibly separated migrant children from their families.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an Executive Order, ending the forced separation of children, so that families who cross the border illegally will now be detained together.

Mattis told reporters on Wednesday that the withdrawal of Guard troops was not having an immediate impact on the border security mission.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump directs Pentagon to establish "Space Force."

President Trump officially directed the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the U.S. military in space on Monday. Speaking at a National Space Council meeting at the White House, Mr. Trump called for a "space force" to ensure American dominance on the high frontier.

The president also signed his administration's third Space Policy Directive, calling for establishment of new protocols and procedures to manage and monitor the increasing numbers of satellites in low-Earth orbit and the tens of thousands of pieces of space junk and debris that pose an increasing threat to costly spacecraft.

The directive follows on the heels of two other major space policy initiatives being implemented by the National Space Council, one calling for returning humans to the moon before eventual missions to Mars and another aimed at streamlining the federal space bureaucracy to reduce red tape and streamline licensing and oversight of commercial space activity.

In remarks that ranged over a variety of unrelated topics, Mr. Trump began by saying current U.S. employment levels were the best "in recorded history" and blaming current immigration problems on the Democrats, saying "we have the worst immigration laws in the entire world" and that ongoing issues could be resolved "very quickly if the Democrats come to the table."

"Everybody wants to do it," he said. "We want to do it more than they do. If they come to the table, instead of playing politics, we can do it very, very quickly."

Turning his attention to space, the president praised the National Space Council and its chairman, Vice President Mike Pence, for its work re-focusing national space policy, saying "for too many years, our dreams of exploration and discovery were really squandered by politics and bureaucracy. And we knocked that out."

"My administration is reclaiming America's heritage as the world's greatest space-faring nation," he went on. "The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers. But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security."

He said when it comes to defending America, "it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space."

"Very importantly, I'm hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. ... We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal."\

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