Gene Simmons, bassist and co-lead singer for the rock band KISS, made news when he visited the Pentagon on Thursday as part of an initiative to connect the American public to the United States military.
But it was his emotional remarks about what America meant to him and his late mother that were remarkable.
"I’m a proud son of a concentration camp survivor of Nazi Germany. My mother was 14 when she was in the camps. I’m measuring my words because I’m about to break up again ‐," he said, striking the podium.
"My mother just passed at 93. But if Americans could see and hear my mother talk about America, they would understand," he said.
He shared what it was like when he first came to America as a child from Israel, not speaking a lot of English. He said his mother worked six days a week, and in the evenings, they would watch the news together.
By midnight, the three or four TV stations at that time would go off the air. But before then, they would watch a jet fly through the sky and melt into an image of the American flag. The national anthem would play, he said.
"And every time my mother saw the flag, she’d start crying," he said. "As an eight-year-old boy, I didn’t understand why, but from my mother’s point of view, we were finally safe," he said, choking up.
"I may have been born in the country that people throughout history have referred to as the Promised Land, but take my word for it ‐ America is the Promised Land, for everybody. And don't be ashamed, don't hesitate.
"We need to teach young people to be comfortable with saying God bless America," he said. "End of my story."
Simmons’ visit to the Pentagon transpired months ago. A Pentagon civilian employee met Simmons backstage at a show and invited him to visit the Pentagon if he was in the area. Simmons took him up on that offer.
Simmons’ visit highlighted the Pentagon’s #KnowYourMil initiative, which aims to educate Americans on exactly what members of the U.S. military do, and what jobs they fulfill, including everything from veterinarians to lawyers.
"What a privilege it was to meet an American icon who has such love for country, family, and our military," said Anne K. Joiner, acting principal deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs.
"We appreciate Gene and his wife, Shannon, for taking the time to visit with us and express such gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform."
The #KnowYourMil initiative was launched in February 2018, amid growing concern that the U.S. military was becoming increasingly disconnected from the public it serves, which affects future recruitment and the sustainment of an all-volunteer military force.
According to a fact sheet, fewer than half of 1% of Americans serve in the military, and fewer than 15% of young adults have a parent who has served. In addition, less than 30% of 17 to 24-year-olds are eligible for military service.
More and more, military service has become a family affair, with 80% of those in uniform today having had a family member serve in the U.S. military.
Joiner said the #KnowYourMil initiative is about "connecting Americans to their military."
"We want to create conversations that bring civilian and military communities together," she said.
[AlAhram] Britannia’s tumultuous divorce from the European Union ...the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, only without the Hapsburgs and the nifty uniforms and the dancing... was again in disarray on Friday after the opposition Labour Party declared last-ditch talks dead due to Prime Minister Theresa May’s crumbling government.
Nearly three years after the United Kingdom voted 52% to 48% in a referendum to leave the EU, it remains unclear how, when or even if it will leave the European club it joined in 1973. The current deadline to leave is Oct. 31.
Continued on Page 49
[France24] Taiwan’s parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage on Friday, becoming the first in Asia to do so.
Lawmakers had a two-year window to make a decision after Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had a right to marry in 2017.
Tens of thousands of supporters waiting outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei in the rain burst into celebration after the vote was announced.
"#LoveWon," President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted. "We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country."
The weeks leading up to the vote were marked in part by student-led "men in skirts" events that went viral. At New Taipei Banqiao High School, students organised a week-long event in early May encouraging male classmates to wear skirts to support gender equality and challenge societal norms of what men and women should wear.
[DW] A man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for selling "top secret" information to Chinese agents. US officials said the betrayal is part of a worrying trend in the intelligence community.
A US court on Friday sentenced a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer to 20 years in prison for spying on behalf of China.
The 62-year-old man was found guilty of selling "top secret" defense information to Chinese intelligence contacts when he visited Shanghai in 2017.
The defendant was a former US army soldier and later went on to hold several jobs at government agencies and defense contractors in which he had access to sensitive information.
"This case is one in an alarming trend of former US intelligence officers being targeted by China and betraying their country and colleagues," said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.
'NO BUSINESS PARTNERING WITH CHINA'
At least two other former US intelligence officers and a diplomat have pleaded guilty this year to spying for China.
Earlier this month, another ex-CIA officer pleaded guilty to conspiring with Chinese intelligence. His lawyer said there was no evidence that he had handed over classified information to Chinese agents.
Officials said the latest conviction formed part of the US' response to a worrying trend in the intelligence community.
"This sentence, together with the recent guilty pleas of Ron Hansen in Utah and Jerry Lee in Virginia, deliver the stern message that our former intelligence officers have no business partnering with the Chinese, or any other adversarial foreign intelligence service," said Demers.
China on Friday told the United States not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and that law amendment in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (#HKSAR) must be respected, Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at a news briefing pic.twitter.com/BVrs9Rfyrk
[BALTIMORE.CBSLOCAL] The crippling cybersecurity attack on Baltimore City enters its ninth day, as city officials continue to say they can’t say much about the investigation.
City Council President Brandon Scott has called for a committee to look into the city’s cybersecurity and its response to this attack.
Hackers are demanding a ransom from Baltimore City, and have warned the City would lose its data after 10 days.
The deadline is on Friday.
"I think if they delete data, we’re going to be in a world of hurt," said Chris Sachse, ThinkStack.
Sachse is the CEO at ThinkStack, a Baltimore cybersecurity firm.
He said if the hackers have access to any backup systems, it could mean trouble.
"It’s still somewhat of an active scene of the crime, so they’re trying to follow the bread crumbs to see who did this," Sachse said.
Wednesday afternoon, officials struggled to answer questions regarding the city’s preparation for a cyber attack like this, any contact with the hackers and who the city has hired to help them recover.
"Honestly, a lot of the lack of transparency is that they don’t’ know," Sachse said.
Experts claim hackers demanded 13 bitcoins within 10 days, which totals up to $100,000.
But that demand would keep going up every day after four days.
"It’s a fairly reasonable amount of money in the grand scheme of things to ask from a city," Sachse said.
However, there's more than one way to skin a cat... paying would not guarantee a solution.
"You have no idea if that hacker is going to give you what you need. Are they going to give you that decyrption key? If they give you the decyrption key, is it going to work?"
"How much money are going to spend to try to decrypt these passwords and how much risk are we willing to take that the guy won’t delete those files? To me, for 70 thousand, now 100 thousand, I would pay that." Sachse said.
The ransomware struck citywide, but particularly the City Finance Department.
Online billing remains down as does the ability to close real estate transactions, no title searches, no lien certificates.
"It will get resolved. It has to be resolved. There’s no way we can avoid that." said Bob Flynn, In-House Title Co.’s attorney.
In the only timeline to which officials Wednesday would commit, they said they hope the lien system will be up late next week.
Sachse said even if the city pays the ransom, which Mayor Jack Young said he won’t do, there is still no way of knowing whether other malware may be in the system- meaning the investigation and recovery would still be slow and intensive.
[KREBSONSECURITY] Law enforcement agencies in the United States and Europe ...also known as Moslem Lebensraum... today unsealed charges against 11 alleged members of the GozNym malware network, an international cybercriminal syndicate suspected of stealing $100 million from more than 41,000 victims with the help of a stealthy banking trojan by the same name.
The indictments unsealed in a Pennsylvania court this week stem from a slew of cyber heists carried out between October 2015 and December 2016. They’re also related to the 2016 arrest of Krasimir Nikolov, a 47-year-old Bulgarian man who was extradited to the United States to face charges for allegedly cashing out bank accounts that were compromised by the GozNym malware.
Prosecutors say Nikolov, a.k.a. "pablopicasso," "salvadordali," and "karlo," was key player in the GozNym crime group who used stolen online banking credentials captured by GozNym malware to access victims’ online bank accounts and attempt to steal their money through electronic funds transfers into bank accounts controlled by fellow conspirators.
According to the indictment, the GozNym network exemplified the concept of ’cybercrime as a service,’ in that the defendants advertised their specialized technical skills and services on underground, Russian-language, online criminal forums. The malware was dubbed GozNym because it combines the stealth of a previous malware strain called Nymaim with the capabilities of the powerful Gozi banking trojan.
The feds say the ringleader of the group was Alexander Konovolov, 35, of Tbilisi, Georgia, who controlled more than 41,000 victim computers infected with GozNym and recruited various other members of the cybercrime team.
Vladimir Gorin, a.k.a "Voland," "mrv," and "riddler," of Orenburg, Russia allegedly was a malware developer who oversaw the creation, development, management, and leasing of GozNym.
The indictment alleges 32-year-old Eduard Malancini, a.k.a. "JekaProf" and "procryptgroup" from Moldova, specialized in "crypting" or obfuscating the GozNym malware to evade detection by antivirus software.
Four other men named in the indictment were accused of recruiting and managing "money mules," willing or unwitting people who can be used to receive stolen funds on behalf of the criminal syndicate. One of those alleged mule managers ‐ Farkhad Rauf Ogly Manokhim (a.k.a. "frusa") of Volograd, Russia was placed in durance vile Drop the rod and step away witcher hands up! in 2017 in Sri Lanka on an international warrant from the United States, but escaped and fled back to Russia while on bail awaiting extradition.
Also charged was 28-year-old Muscovite Konstantin Volchkov, a.k.a. "elvi," who allegedly provided the spamming service used to disseminate malicious links that tried to foist GozNym on recipients who clicked.
The malicious links referenced in those spam emails were served via the Avalanche bulletproof hosting service, a distributed, cloud-hosting network that for seven years was rented out to hundreds of fraudsters for use in launching malware and phishing attacks. Avalanche was dismantled in Dec. 2016 by a similar international law enforcement action.
The alleged administrator of the Avalanche bulletproof network ‐ 36-year-old Gennady Kapkanov from Poltova, Ukraine ‐ has eluded justice in prior scrapes with the law: During the Avalanche takedown in Dec. 2016, Kapkanov fired an assault rifle at Ukrainian police who were trying to raid his apartment.
[Independent] German lawmakers have condemned a movement that calls for a cultural boycott of Israel, saying it is anti-semitic and reminiscent of the Nazi campaign against the Jews.
In a vote on Friday, the German parliament said the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which wants to place financial pressure on Israel over its occupation of Palestinian land, uses anti-semitic tactics.
"The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-semitic," read the motion submitted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party (CDU), their Social Democrat coalition partners (SPD) as well as the Greens and Free Democrats.
The move comes after BDS, which advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli businesses, universities and cultural institutions, called upon artists and pop groups to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
During the vote, which took place on the evening of the music show’s final, German MPs likened BDS campaigns to "the most terrifying phase of German history" when an estimated six million Jews were murdered during the holocaust.
[BBC] Swiss voters go to the polls on Sunday to decide whether to tighten up their gun laws to conform with European Union regulations.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but is part of the Schengen open-border treaty.
After the 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died, the EU issued Schengen members with new restrictions on automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
The EU hopes the rules will help police in Schengen countries.
These states now work together and share information on a daily basis, to establish where weapons used in crimes came from.
But the proposals have raised hackles in Switzerland, which has a long, and for many Swiss, proud tradition of gun ownership. After Swiss men complete their obligatory military service, they are permitted to keep their assault rifles.
There are gun clubs in every town and village, and target-shooting is a hugely popular sport.
Swiss law does require gun owners to have a permit, but getting one is relatively easy.
So, the eurine argument (and the dems in America) is be more like us. The other side of that coin is I could argue be more like me (my guns are locked up, never hurt anybody and have contributed to the economy in many ways)
Posted by: M. Murcek ||
05/18/2019 7:14 Comments ||
The Swiss have lots of guns, low crime rate, and haven't been in a war for over a century. How does that compare with the ones criticizing them?
I am sure many things have changed, but 35 years ago we had an exchange student from Winterthur, Switzerland. One the one hand, property is scarce so many Swiss have large, 2-3 generational houses. Next, most are required to complete 2 years of military service between HS and college. Finally, they are encouraged to take their (he called them machine guns) rifles home and maintain them. It's implied they are in the military reserves. So, it would not be uncommon to find a Swiss house with 3 men (son, dad, grandpa) armed and trained with powerful guns. I am not sure if the gals also participate in military service, so maybe double that. It would be like invading Texas, except it's surrounded by mountains.
The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that the soldiers keep their own personal equipment, including all personally assigned weapons, at home (until 2007 this also included ammunition). Compulsory military service applies to all male Swiss citizens, with women serving voluntarily. Males usually receive initial orders at the age of 18 for military conscription eligibility screening. About two-thirds of young Swiss men are found suitable for service, while alternative service exists for those found unsuitable. Annually, approximately 20,000 persons are trained in basic training for 18 weeks (23 weeks for special forces).
The reform "Army XXI" was adopted by popular vote in 2003. It replaced the previous model "Army 95", reducing manpower from 400,000 to about 200,000 personnel, 120,000 receiving periodic military training and 80,000 reservists who have completed their total military training requirements.
And they have somehow avoided war and global conflict in over 700 years. --Besoeker
The Swiss mercenary pikemen ruled the battlefield, they then exported Swiss Guardsmen to France (til 1789) and the Papal States (ongoing if mostly ceremonial at this point). IIUC, the entire Swiss Banking System was the result of returning mercenaries needing someone to bank their money -- having a town full of ex-soldiers handy to stop bank robberies sure helped.
...As far as avoiding foreign wars, one source mentioned that the urban cantons (such as Berne) had wealthy merchants all ready to conquer the neighbors after rebelling against the Austrians. The forest cantons, where the people making up the army of pikemen came from, all voted "Nay!" on this as they could get better pay as mercenaries. Democracy in action, ain't it grand. And it can be seen why they still have a militia mentality to this day.
*Snicker* Yeah, the rules are for you, too, doods.
[Townhall] The Federal Railroad Administration said Thursday it would be withdrawing nearly $1 billion in federal money it had promised to California for the state’s high-speed rail project.
The administration argued that California failed to hold up its end of the deal, including complying with the terms of the grant and making reasonable progress. Additionally, the FRA said California "abandoned its original vision" for a train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
"After careful consideration, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has terminated Cooperative Agreement No. FR-HSR-0118-12-01-01 (the FY10 Agreement) with the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), and will deobligate the $928,620,000 in funding under that agreement," read a statement announcing the FRA’s decision. "FRA finds that CHSRA has repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of the FY10 Agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the Project. Additionally, California has abandoned its original vision of a high-speed passenger rail service connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was essential to its applications for FRA grant funding." Good. This Browndoggle was a waste of money and a pack of lies sold to a compliant citizenry. Off schedule. Off budget. Will NEVER meet its mission or promises. A LIE
...The real point is that the leftover money would have gone to connected contractors and consultants for 'cancellation fees' once the state officially recognized the obvious. The President and his men got inside their OODA loop yet again - they never considered this possibility.
Posted by: Mike Kozlowski ||
05/18/2019 6:24 Comments ||
As much as anything, it's probably an insufficiently discussed case of green law-fare coupled with graft. The Chinese are building High Speed Rail all over China(and it's wonderful), and now in Africa. It's possible a toad may have died, which cannot be allowed in Kalifornia.
[Red State] Have you ever been reeling in a largemouth bass and ‐ right at the point when the scaly, finned fighter popped out of the water ‐ thought, "Hey ‐ that thing would make some great genitals"?
Or have you ever been hunkered down at Red Lobster, fork in hand and bibb tucked in, and just before you stabbed that crispy red snapper, gone, "Wait a minute ‐ I think this should be in my pants"?
If so, apparently, you’re not alone.
A 35-year-old Brazilian man recently put the "lap" in "tilapia," courtesy of a groundbreaking procedure. The reason? He’d found himself in a pickle: His vagina was collapsing.
You see, when Maju was a young teen, he decided he was a woman trapped in a man’s body. So in 1999, he became the 4th person in the South American country to undergo an experimental operation to turn his #ToxicMasculinity into a #BelieveAllWomen.
But, as he relayed to FocusOn News, a problem arose:
I'm unclear: Is the racism here from dressing like a black person or dressing like a particular sort of black person? What if they dressed like Clarence Thomas who, I presume, wears a suit and tie to work instead of some Compton rapper?
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.