Russia Launches Telecoms Satellite For Angola

Russia on Tuesday launched a rocket carrying Angosat-1, the first national telecoms satellite for Angola, from its Baikonur space pad, with rare use of a rocket from Ukraine despite collapsed ties between the two nations.

Live footage aired by Roscosmos space corporation showed the spacecraft take off into the night from the freezing launch pad in Kazakhstan. It reached initial orbit shortly after.

The Zenit-2SB rocket carrying Angosat to orbit was supplied by Ukrainian maker Yuzhmash, making the launch a rare joint project between the two countries since 2014 when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

The Angosat project was agreed by Russia and Angola in 2009 and includes the satellite, its launch, and on-ground infrastructure in a suburb of the capital Luanda.

The approximately $280-million project has been financed with a credit from Russia’s state banks.

The satellite is designed for a 15-year mission to boost satellite communications, Internet access, radio and TV service.

Around 50 Angolan aerospace engineers trained around the globe, including in Brazil, China, Japan and Russia, will oversee the functioning of the satellite from a control centre built near Luanda.

The launch was initially scheduled for the summer but had been pushed back several times due to delays.

Russia initially wanted to use its new Angara rocket to launch the satellite but opted for the Zenit rocket instead, which is built by Ukrainian contractor Yuzhmash.

The project went ahead despite space cooperation between Russia and Ukraine suspended following the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Angola, which along with Nigeria, is one of Africa’s top oil producers, but many of its citizens are mired in poverty.

AFP

Russia, China Building Weapons To Target US Satellites–General

A senior US general said Saturday that countries like Russia and China are actively building weapons that can target space-based US military assets like satellites.

“They’ve been building weapons, testing weapons, building weapons to operate from the earth in space, jamming weapons, laser weapons, and they have not kept it secret,” Gen. John Hyten, the head of US Strategic Command, told an audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

“They’re building those capabilities to challenge the United States of America, to challenge our allies, and to change the balance of power in the world,” added Hyten, who oversees all US military operations in space. “We cannot allow that to happen.”

Russia and China saw how the US military made successful use of satellites during military operations like the 1991 Gulf War and now seek ways to deny the US the ability to use satellites in future conflicts, Hyten said.

One critical space-based asset are satellites that warn US military planners about the launch of enemy missiles.

“Every missile that comes off the planet is seen first by one of our overhead missile warning capabilities,” Hyten said, adding that the satellites are “not easy to defend.”

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke alongside Hyten about the threats to US satellites.

“Most folks aren’t thinking about the fact that our first way of detecting a launch by North Korea, so that we can turn our radars to start tracking it and start aiming our interceptors to be able to get it in time, is a satellite up there waiting for that heat signature,” said Rogers, a vocal advocate of creating a separate US military Space Corps.

“We can not let that satellite be dazzled for 10 or 15 minutes, it would be too late,” he added.

Hyten advocated for making satellites more defensible, but he acknowledged that there are currently no rules of engagement when it comes to military conflict in space, adding that international norms are needed.

Heather Wilson, the secretary of the Air Force, said the US needs to embrace a new policy and make it clear that if command and control or warning satellites are targeted, the US “would consider that to be a hostile act” and respond.

“It’s probably time as a country that we start to talk about this,” Wilson said.

CNN

May Accuses Putin Of Election Meddling

In the strongest attack ever launched on Russia by her administration, Theresa May has accused Moscow of meddling in elections and carrying out cyber espionage.

Addressing leading business figures at a banquet in London, the prime minister said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine free societies”.

Mrs May said it was “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”.

But, she added, whilst the UK did not want “perpetual confrontation” with Russia, it would protect its interests.

BBC reports that her comments are in stark contrast to those of US President Donald Trump, who last week said he believed President Putin’s denial of intervening in the 2016 presidential election.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is due to visit Russia next month.

In a major foreign policy speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall, which Mrs May described as a “very simple message” for President Putin, she said he must choose a very “different path” from the one that in recent years had seen Moscow annex Crimea, foment conflict in Ukraine and launch cyber attacks on governments and Parliaments across Europe.

Russia could be a valuable partner of the West but only if it “plays by the rules”, she argued.

“Russia has repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption.

“This has included meddling in elections and hacking the Danish Ministry of Defence and the Bundestag among many others.”

 

Russia 2018: Ticket Sales Begins On Thursday

Ticket sales for the world’s biggest football event, 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, is set to resume on Thursday on a first-come first-served basis.

A total of 622,117 tickets have been successfully allocated to subscribers, even though this was subject to payment being made later.

This was also at the conclusion of the first window of sales phase from Oct. 1 to Oct. 12.

According to a report by the FIFA Media Office on Tuesday, some 3,496,204 tickets had initially been requested with many ticket products and matches being heavily oversubscribed.

This requires the allocation of tickets through a random selection draw process carried out in the presence of a public notary.

During this process FIFA also identified a number of ticket applications which were not eligible to enter into the random selection draw.

For example, ticket applications for team-specific ticket series — for teams that are no longer able to qualify — as well as ticket applications that violated the household restrictions.

This is in the category of applying for a maximum of four tickets for up to seven matches.

From the total number of applications, majority have come from Russia, and based on results of the Random Selection Draw process 57 percent of tickets were allocated to Russian fans.

Tickets allocated to international fans account for 43 percent of the total number of allocated tickets.

The US, Chinese, German, Brazilian, Israeli, English, Finnish, Mexican and French fans all rank in the top ten in this category.

During the upcoming sales period, which starts on Thursday and end on Nov. 28, fans will be able to purchase tickets in real time on FIFA.com/tickets.

They will get immediate confirmation of successful applications, subject to availability.

Football fans were advised to place their order as soon as the sales period opens.

This is because high demand is expected and the remaining inventory following the random selection draw sales period was likely to sell out very quickly.

Tickets purchased during sales phases 1 and 2 will be delivered free of charge to fans in the weeks leading up to the tournament.

Deliveries have been planned to start in April or May of 2018, even though this is subject to change.

Tickets may be purchased using payment cards of Visa, the Official Payment Services Partner of FIFA.

Purchases can also be made by other accepted payment methods.

FIFA’s Head of Ticketing, Falk Eller, said the world football body was already overwhelmed by the positive response from both Russian and international fans so far.

“’With only a few teams still to qualify, we are again expecting high demand once sales resume on Thursday.

“Considering such remarkable interest in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia from fans all over the world, we will like to once again stress that the only official, legitimate and user-friendly source to purchase tickets is the FIFA.com/tickets website.

“Fans who purchase tickets from other sources put themselves at significant risk of missing out on the World Cup, and of course we will not want that to happen.

“Category 4 tickets, which are exclusively reserved for Russian residents, will not be available for purchase during the upcoming first-come, first-served sales period.

“This is due to the full allocation of the currently available category four tickets during the previous sales period.

“FIFA will also make a dedicated allocation of tickets available for disabled people, people with limited mobility and fans classified as obese,” Eller said.

 

Mysterious Illnesses Hit American Diplomats In Cuba

The US State Department has ordered more than half its Embassy staff and all diplomatic family members to leave Cuba because of a mysterious “specific attacks” that have caused myriad health problems to 21 diplomats.

Only those who carry out the main U.S. diplomatic and consular duties, including providing emergency assistance to American travelers in Cuba, will stay at the embassy in Havana, officials said.

The State Department issued an advisory for Americans not to visit Cuba, although no tourists or other travelers have been affected by the still-unexplained attacks, which some outside experts suspect came from an acoustic device.

The embassy, an iconic building on Havana’s waterfront, also will suspend processing U.S. visa applications.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he had decided to trim staff and warn Americans in response to what he called “attacks of an unknown nature.” He emphasized that the moves were intended to ensure the health and safety of embassy personnel, not to punish Cuba.

“Until the Government of Cuba can ensure the safety of our diplomats in Cuba, our Embassy will be reduced to emergency personnel in order to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm,” Tillerson said.

Still, the dramatic moves were a blow to Washington’s delicate relations with Havana, which were restored in 2015, more than half a century after they were broken in the Cold War.

Over the last two years, U.S. airlines have begun direct flights to Cuba, tourism has surged and numerous travel and commerce restrictions were lifted. President Trump has reversed some changes but has broadly left the rapprochement in place.

Tillerson issued the statement in Beijing, where he is meeting Chinese officials to discuss efforts to restrain North Korea and to help set up Trump’s visit in November.

Aides said he made the decision on the flight from Washington, after considering options that included temporarily closing the embassy.

In all, 21 U.S. diplomats in Cuba have exhibited a wide range of physical symptoms, including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. Several Canadian diplomats also have reported unusual physical ailments.

“Investigators have been unable to determine who is responsible or what is causing these attacks,” Tillerson said. Moreover, he said, the State Department “is unable to recommend a means to mitigate exposure.”

U.S. officials said the attacks occurred in the diplomats’ residences and in local hotels they frequent. The attacks began in mid-2016, and the most recent was in August.

The government mostly has referred to “incidents” rather than attacks in the past. But officials said Friday the U.S. now believes “specific attacks” targeted the diplomats in Cuba.

Tillerson emphasized that the U.S. is not breaking diplomatic relations with Cuba, noting that Havana “has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort.”

“We maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and our work in Cuba continues to be guided by the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States,” he said.

Cuba has allowed FBI agents in to help investigate the rash of health problems. And the Trump administration has stopped short of blaming Cuba for the attacks, leaving open the possibility that another country or group is responsible.

Experts have theorized that the attacks have been carried out by a machine that sends high-powered sound waves at a person, vibrating brain tissue and parts of the ear.

Russian intelligence agents have been known to use audio weapons, but the U.S. has not definitively determined who is responsible for the attacks in Cuba.

Investigators have struggled to unravel the mystery. FBI agents and other agencies have found devices in or near the homes and hotels that were affected. The wide range of symptoms, and questions of how and when people were impacted, have yet to yield clear clues.

Some diplomats reported hearing loud noises or feeling vibrations when the incidents occurred, but others heard and felt nothing yet reported symptoms later. In some cases, the effects were narrowly confined, with victims able to walk “in” and “out” of blaring noises audible in only certain rooms or parts of rooms, the AP has reported.

In a telephone briefing, a State Department official said the decision was aimed at reducing “the number of Americans who are vulnerable to exposure” from possible attacks.

“At this moment, we don’t have definitive information about the source or cause of the attacks,” said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

*Culled from Los Angeles Times

After China’s Uncertainty, Now Russia Threatens To Ban Facebook In 2018

Facebook users in China recently complained about the application been unavailable to some due to the country’s security protocol, Russia has just said it will ban Facebook in 2018 if the social network fails to comply with local data storage laws.

Alexander Zharov, head of communications regulator Roskomnadzor, was quoted by official state media outlets saying “the law is obligatory for all. In all cases we will make sure the law is complied with, or the company will stop working in the Russian Federation. There are no exceptions here.”

Russia’s law on personal data storage came into effect in September 2015 and It requires companies that collect the personal data of citizens to store the information on Russian soil.

Zharov said his agency has not been in contact with Facebook but added that the company needs to comply with the law soon. “In 2018, we will think about it, and maybe we will check,” Zharov told state media that Roskomnadzor had received a letter from Twitter saying it would comply with the data storage law starting in 2018.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Facebook is a commercial enterprise earning money in Russia, and therefore it must comply with the law.

Russian Couple Suspected Of Killing And Eating Up To 30 Victims

Russian police have discovered a shocking case that according to reports is one of the country’s most grisly cases of cannibalism after pictures of dismembered bodies were found on a phone belonging to one of the main suspects.

The gruesome case in the southern Krasnodar region has led to the arrest of a 35-year-old man and his wife, both of whom are alleged to have murdered as many as 30 people since 1999 and consumed parts of the bodies. Police have identified seven victims so far.
The crimes were uncovered when a cell phone, which included images of the man posing with a dismembered female victim, was found on a street in Krasnodar earlier this month. The remains of the woman were found in a bag nearby the following day.
At first, the man denied having killed the woman, claiming he had found the remains and had taken photographs of himself with them, before losing his phone.
A source told state newsmen that many of the details of the case were yet to be confirmed, but added that “at the moment, law enforcement had discovered a glass jar with a canned hand.”
“According to the owner of a cell phone that had been lost before, this is one of those hands with which he made a selfie,” the source told RIA Novosti.
The source told RIA Novosti that so far the man had admitted to only two murders — that of the female victim identified in the cell phone photos, and of another person in 2012.
Earlier this year, former policeman Mikhail Popkov was charged with 60 additional murders in addition to 22 that had already resulted in convictions. He carried out the killings over nearly twenty years.

N’Korea Nuclear Issue Must Be Resolved – China

Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, told his Russian counterpart during a meeting at the UN, that the North Korean nuclear issue must be resolved peacefully, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The U.S. and South Korea, and separately Russia together with China, started military drills on Wednesday in a show of force against North Korea, which repeatedly defied the UN to conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Wang said in a meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Monday that China would strictly implement UN Security Council sanctions and stressed that “parties directly involved” must also take action and responsibility.

“The current deepening vicious cycle must be broken. Resuming peace talks is an equally important step in implementing Security Council resolutions,” Wang said, according to a statement on the foreign ministry website.

Russia has supported China’s “suspension-for-suspension” proposal, where the U.S. and South Korea would agree to halt joint military drills while North Korea halted missile and nuclear tests.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke about keeping the pressure on North Korea using economic sanctions imposed through the UN, the White House said on Monday.

Trump and Xi spoke on the phone days after Trump and his aides publicly discussed potential military action against North Korea.

Trump said on Friday he was “more confident than ever that our options in addressing this threat are both effective and overwhelming”.

Pyongyang carried out the latest in a rapid series of missile launches by firing another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday, soon after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, in defiance of UN sanctions and other international pressure.

Russia, China In Joint Naval Drills Near North Korea

China and Russia began naval drills near North Korea on Monday amid continuing tensions over the isolated state’s nuclear ambitions and ahead of a United Nations General Assembly meeting this week, where North Korea is likely to loom large.

North Korea launched a missile over Japan last Friday, its second in the past three weeks, and conducted its sixth and by far most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, in defiance of international pressure.

The official Xinhua news agency said the joint exercises will take place between Peter the Great Bay, just outside of the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok, not far from the Russia-North Korea border, and into the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, to the north of Japan.

The drills are the second part of China-Russian naval exercises this year, the first part of which took place in the Baltic in July. The report did not directly link the drills to current tensions over North Korea.

According to TASS, Russia and China will deploy 11 ships and two submarines during the drill that will run till 26 September.

“The second stage of the international Russian-Chinese Maritime Cooperation-2017 exercise will involve 11 surface ships, two submarines, two deep-submergence rescue vehicles, four anti-submarine warfare aircraft and four shipborne helicopters,” spokesman Vladimir Matveyev said.

Russia will send the Admiral Tributs Udaloy-class destroyer, the Sovershenny corvette and the Igor Belousov rescue ship, carrying the AS-40 deep-submergence rescue vehicle and the R-11 missile corvette. In addition, the Pacific Fleet will also be represented by the Sovetskaya Gavan Grisha-class corvette, the Viktor Faleyev hydrographic survey vessel, the MB-93 sea tug and two diesel-electric submarines that were not named.

The four-vessel Chinese task force will be led by the Shijiazhuang destroyer.

“In addition, the naval phase of the exercise will involve the training of ship-aircraft coordination. This element will involve two Il-38 planes, two Tu-142M3 planes, a Ka-27PS and a Ka-27 helicopters of the Pacific Fleet’s naval aviation. The aviation of the Chinese Navy will be represented by Z-9C and Z-9D shipborne helicopters,” Matveyev said.

Both China and Russia have repeatedly called for a peaceful solution and talks to resolve the North Korean issue.

The international community must remain united and enforce sanctions against North Korea after its repeated launch of ballistic missiles, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an editorial published in the New York Times on Sunday.

Such tests are in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and show that North Korea can now target the United States or Europe, Abe said.

Diplomacy and dialogue will not work with North Korea and concerted pressure by the entire international community is essential to tackle the threats posed by North Korea, Abe wrote.

A week ago, the 15-member U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted its ninth sanctions resolution since 2006 over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

On Monday, the official China Daily said sanctions should be given time to bite but that the door must be left open to talks.

“With its Friday missile launch, Pyongyang wanted to give the impression that sanctions will not work. Some people have fallen for that and immediately echoed the suggestion, pointing to the failure of past sanctions to achieve their purpose,” it said in an editorial.

“But that past sanctions did not work does not mean they will not. It is too early to claim failure because the latest sanctions have hardly begun to take effect. Giving the sanctions time to bite is the best way to make Pyongyang reconsider.”

Pyongyang has launched dozens of missiles as it accelerates a weapons programme designed to provide the ability to target the United States with a powerful, nuclear-tipped missile.

North Korea said on Saturday it aimed to reach an “equilibrium” of military force with the United States.

Turkey Set To Buy Russian S-400 Missile Systems

Turkish newspaper has quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying “Signatures have been made for the purchase of S-400s from Russia. A deposit has also been paid as far as I know,”

The purchase of the missile systems from a non-NATO supplier will raise concerns in the West over their technical compatibility with the alliance’s equipment.

The Pentagon has already sounded the alarm, saying bluntly that “generally it’s a good idea” for NATO allies to buy inter-operable equipment.

Erdogan said Turkey was free to make military acquisitions based on its defence needs.

“Nobody has the right to discuss the Turkish republic’s independence principles or independent decisions about its defence industry,” he said in the comments published Tuesday.

“We make the decisions about our own independence ourselves, we are obliged to take safety and security measures in order to defend our country.”

The Turkish leader said the process would continue with a transfer of Russian credit to Turkey.

Developers Portal Still Intact – Apple

Most of the iPhone app developers were quick to discover an unexpected change in their accounts that suggested Russian-based hackers may have breached Apple’s developers portal. However, Apple issued a statement saying that the error was caused by an internal bug that was soon fixed.

Many developers took to Twitter to express their concern when they discovered that their addresses were set to the same Russian-based address, complete with a spelling error that suggested this might be the work of a hacker.

The developer site was down for a few hours before Apple restored it. Initially, Apple did not explain why the site was taken down. But it then provided a statement to MacRumors and the affected developers explaining the situation.

“Due to a bug in our account management application, your address information was temporarily displayed incorrectly in your account details on the Apple Developer website,” Apple said “The same incorrect address was displayed to all affected developers. The underlying code-level bug was quickly resolved, and your address information now shows correctly. There was no security breach and at no time were the Apple Developer website, applications, or services compromised; nor were any of your Apple Developer membership details accessed by, shared with, or displayed to anyone.”

However, it’s unclear why the address changed to a Russian-based location.

But Apple would probably tell you if hackers breached its security. Back in 2013, the Developer Center was hacked, and Apple had to take it offline for several days to secure it. Apple said at the time that sensitive information was encrypted, but names, mailing addresses and email addresses may have been leaked.