Brazilians Opt for Budget Bulletproof Vehicles as Economy Tanks

 

Brazilians are as worried as ever about getting shot while driving, but have less money in a stagnant economy to spend on protecting themselves. Enter the second-hand bulletproof car.

Whether to provide genuinely-needed protection or just to show off, the bulletproofed personal vehicle has usually been associated with the rich, but in Brazil, armored cars are far more common than in most countries.

Industry experts consider Brazil’s $245 million (one billion reais) bulletproofing industry the largest in the world.

But with an economy only just crawling out of recession –- one percent growth in 2017 came on the heels of a steep two year-recession — worried drivers are searching for budget options.

“I like cars, but I don’t feel comfortable spending a lot of money on one,” said lawyer Mauricio Paulo, who drives a second-hand bulletproof Volvo XC 60.

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This is the 40-year-old Paulo’s fourth armored vehicle.

He got his first armored car after being robbed while he stopped at a traffic light. The birth of his daughter 18 months ago convinced him he still needs to have one — and stay frugal.

“I need a bulletproof car because of lack of safety,” he said. “I went for a used car because I’m going to spend less money to move around safely.”

To modify a car costs around $13,000 (53,600 reais), pretty much like buying an additional vehicle.

Going for an already used and already armored vehicle gets the price tag down by between 10 and 40 percent, according to varying estimates from dealers and owners.

Armored vehicle capital

Another big market, Mexico, bulletproofed 2,986 cars in 2017, one of the best years the industry there has had. But even in a tough climate last year, Brazil’s armoring industry still put out over 15,000.

Armored private vehicles are especially common among the middle class in the economic hub of Sao Paulo, regardless of the fact that the mega-city is one of the safest parts in an often extremely violent country.

Almost three quarters of bulletproofing work is done in Sao Paulo state, and most of the country’s 150,000 armored vehicles are also in the state, according to the bulletproofing association Abrablin.

Neither Abrablin nor the used car sellers’ body Fenauto keeps track of second-hand armored sales.

But industry experts say it is a real trend here.

“This year, the used car market is hot,” said Fabio Rovedo de Mello, director of a Sao Paulo-based bulletproofing company.

“Because of the situation the country is going through, the demand for used cars has gone up.”

Sales of new cars, in general, plummeted to a 10-year low in 2016 in Brazil. The niche market in new armored cars mirrored the trend, dropping 20 percent last year, compared to 2016.

“When the new market doesn’t sell, there’s higher demand for used cars, because a person can’t afford to buy a new one,” said Abrablin president Marcelo Christiansen, who also heads up a bulletproofing firm.

“Armored cars are a lot more expensive, so the option was to go for a used car that fell within my budget,” said Eliane Wakatsuki, 39, a manager at a hydroelectric firm, who was test-driving a used Mercedes Benz GLA 200 at a luxury bulletproofing outfit. Even those drivers who still buy new cars and get the armoring added are looking for deals.

Last year, the best-selling new car for bulletproofing was the Toyota Corolla, the cheapest and smallest that can handle armor, which can add up to 12 percent to the vehicle’s body weight.

Published in Daily Times, September 19th 2018

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Terrorists attack Iran’s embassy in Paris: Report

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep – Sept 15, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday that Kurdish activists attacked its embassy in Paris and it accused French police of arriving late on the scene.

Paris police confirmed officers had responded to an incident at the embassy on Friday afternoon, but declined to comment on the speed of their response.

Fars news agency reported that about 15 Kurdish activists burned the Iranian flag in front of the embassy during the incident and broke some windows with stones.

They also threw fire extinguishers and computers at the gate

but did not manage to enter the premises, Fars said.

“The French government should take all necessary measures to protect Iranian diplomatic missions in that country,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, the French police did not arrive as expected on the scene on time, although the assailants were members of a terrorist organization,” he said.

Qasemi said some of the attackers were arrested.

Paris police told Reuters that officers had detained a dozen individuals outside the embassy but that they were released when the embassy said it would not seek charges against them.

“A security detail was put in place with the embassy’s full agreement,” Paris police added.

However, Qasemi said Iran has asked France to put on trial and punish the assailants, and to inform the Iranian government of the verdicts.

Tehran has accused France of supporting opposition groups which seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and are classified by Tehran as terrorist organizations. France has rejected Iranian accusations.

Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles at the headquarters in northern Iraq of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community.

Iranian media said at least 11 people were killed.

France has already told its diplomats and foreign ministry officials to postpone indefinitely all non-essential travel to Iran, citing a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France.

France is also investigating a foiled plot to bomb a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group near Paris that was attended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani on June 30.

An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany in connection with that plot.

Any hardening of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran. France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump pulled out of in May.

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Turkey detains 2 more suspects in US Embassy gun attack

Turkish police detained two more people on Aug. 24 for their suspected links to the United States Embassy drive-by shooting in the Turkish capital Ankara on Aug. 20, said state-run Anadolu Agency, citing a police source.

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The latest detentions on Aug. 24 raise the total number of detainees to four.

The suspects were taken in for interrogation, the source said.

The detention period was extended for suspects Ahmet Çelikten and Osman Gündaş, who were detained on Aug. 20, the source added.

According to the Ankara Governor’s Office, the suspects confessed to their involvement in the attack.

Çelikten, 39, and Gündaş, 38, were detained after six shots were fired from a white vehicle at the U.S. Embassy’s main entrance in Ankara at 5:30 a.m. local time on Aug. 20. Three bullets hit the metal door and glass panel of the security cabin, causing no casualties.

“I had called Osman [Gündaş] that night and we met. We drank and drove around. We talked about the dollar crisis, about the U.S. threats against Turkey and about the recent statements of the U.S. president. Then we got angry and decided to shoot at the U.S. Embassy under the influence of alcohol,” Çelikten said previously in his police testimony.

 

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Gunmen Attack Government building in Erbil

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 24 July 2018 

Three gunmen shot their way into the main regional government building in the city of Irbil in northern Iraq on Monday morning before all three were killed by security forces.

iraq erbil

One employee was killed and four security force members were injured during a shootout with the militants, who had taken control of the third floor of the governorate building in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

 

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, although Kurdish security officials said the attack bore the hallmarks of the militant “Islamic State” (IS) group.

“We believe that the attackers are from Islamic State because of the tactics they used in breaking into the building from the main gate. Two gunmen used pistols to shoot at the guards,” a security official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Irbil, which typically enjoys good security, was the site of a major attack on the US Consulate in 2015. The IS-claimed attack killed three people and wounded five others.

The Iraqi government declared victory over IS in December, although the militant group still holds pockets of territory and continues to carry out attacks.

The Iraqi Kurdish forces known as peshmerga were key in the defeat of IS after the group launched an offensive in 2014, seizing nearly a third of the country.

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Iranian diplomat suspected of plotting attack in France

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 13 July 2018

BERLIN — An Iranian diplomat is suspected of involvement in a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France. Assadollah Assadi was charged in Germany on Wednesday with activity as a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder.

France Iran
Activists of the National Council of Resistance of Iran hold placards reading “Deliver the Iranian ‘diplomat’-terrorist to Belgium” during a demonstration calling for the extradition of Assadollah Assadi, an alleged Iranian intelligence officer, to Belgium in front of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on July 11, 2018.
 
 TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Assadi, a Vienna-based diplomat, is suspected of contracting a couple in Belgium to attack an annual meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in Villepinte, near Paris, German federal prosecutors said.

He allegedly gave the Antwerp-based couple a device containing 500 grams of the explosive TATP during a meeting in Luxembourg in late June, prosecutors said in a written statement.

Assadi was detained earlier this month near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European warrant after the couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car.

In their statement, German prosecutors allege that Assadi, who has been registered as a diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna since 2014, was a member of the Iranian intelligence service “Ministry of Intelligence and Security,” whose tasks “primarily include the intensive observation and combatting of opposition groups inside and outside of Iran.”

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of using its embassies to plot extremist attacks in Europe and warned Tehran that its actions have “a real high cost” after it threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.

“Just this past week there were Iranians arrested in Europe who were preparing to conduct a terror plot in Paris, France. We have seen this malign behavior in Europe,” Pompeo said Tuesday in an interview with Sky News Arabia during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called the allegations of a foiled extremist plot a ploy.

Belgian authorities also accuse Assadi of being part of the alleged plot reportedly aimed at setting off explosives at a huge annual rally of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group, or MEK, in neighboring France, and want him extradited.

German prosecutors said their investigation wouldn’t hinder Belgium’s extradition request for the suspect.

Meanwhile, an Iranian who resides in Belgium and was detained in France agreed on Wednesday to be turned over to Belgian authorities, who had issued a European arrest warrant, a French judicial official told the Associated Press.

The suspect, identified as Mehrdad Arefani, 54, will be handed over within 10 days, and go before an investigating magistrate there, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly in an ongoing case and asked not to be identified.

The MEK is an exiled Iranian opposition group based near Paris with some members, in particular, in Albania. The formerly armed group was removed from European Union and U.S. terrorism lists several years ago after denouncing violence and getting western politicians to lobby on its behalf.

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US Secretary of State Rides in Gun-Toting “Embassy Air” Helicopter In Afghanistan

Marine Walking to Helicopters

WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Monday to see what progress has been made nearly one year after President Trump announced his new “South Asia strategy.”

While he touted successes and said the strategy “is indeed working,” much of the evidence points to the contrary – a continued stalemate nearly 17 years after the U.S. war there began.

Just days before his visit, an American soldier was killed in an insider attack, the third fatality in Afghanistan this year. The Taliban are said to contest control of a majority of Afghan districts, according to analysts. And even Pompeo himself was limited in his travel during his brief time on the ground out of safety concerns.

“My conclusion from this visit is that the president’s strategy is indeed working,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Kabul alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, arguing it “has sent a clear message too to the Taliban: They cannot wait us out. And we are beginning to see the results both on the battlefield where the Taliban’s momentum is slowing and in the prospects for peace with them.”

Trump announced last August he was increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, empowering field commanders to make more decisions, and ending the Obama administration’s timeline for withdrawal in favor of a “conditions-based” approach. There are now about 14,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan, training and advising the Afghan military to fight the Taliban and ISIS and occasionally participating in their own counterterror operations.

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But even after that injection of American military power, the shape of the battlefield has not changed. According to the latest report by the government’s own special inspector general for Afghanistan, the Afghan government only controlled about 56 percent of the country’s districts, with nearly 15 percent under Taliban control. The Long War Journal at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, a Washington think tank, puts that number even higher, with the Taliban controlling or contesting as much as 61 percent of the country’s districts.

The opium cultivation also jumped to a record high in 2017 of approximately 328,000 hectares — 63 percent higher than 2016, according to that special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR. That growth fuels the terrorism the U.S. has spent nearly two decades fighting, as the majority of terror groups’ funding comes from the drug trade.

At a NATO summit in Brussels this week, the U.S. is expected to urge member nations to contribute more money for security forces, according to U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison, because “the terrorist network that has grown in Afghanistan has been exported to many of our countries,” she warned. That threat hit the U.S. again on Saturday when an American soldier was killed and two others wounded in an attack by an Afghan soldier they were training. He was the third American killed this year after a soldier was shot by the Taliban in April and by ISIS in January.

“Make no mistake, there’s still a great deal of work to do,” Pompeo said. But he pointed to the growth in size and capability of Afghan security forces, upcoming elections this fall after a two-year delay, and reforms within the Afghan government as signs of the strategy working.

He added, “An element of the progress is the capacity that we now have to believe that there is hope that many of the Taliban now see that they can’t win on the ground militarily.”

But the Taliban continue to publicly eschew peace talks, launch attacks on Afghan and U.S. forces, and campaign to win over Afghan territory militarily and Afghan minds politically. President Ghani’s recent overture for negotiations has gone unanswered, even after a successful, but short-lived ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid in June that saw Afghan and Taliban soldiers taking selfies together.

There may be secret talks ongoing between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The U.S.’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson told reporters in May there was a “robust dialogue” with “tremendous potential,” but State Department officials would not confirm any talks were underway.

“I’m not going to speak to specific diplomacy because, obviously, its potential success is dependent in part on a degree of confidentiality of that type of process,” a senior State Department official told ABC News in June.

Either way, the Taliban has demanded that the U.S. engage it directly in peace talks, but the U.S. has consistently dismissed that idea.

“We can’t run the peace talks. We can’t settle this from the outside. This will be settled by the Afghan people coming together,” Pompeo reiterated Monday.

But Pompeo’s statement that the Taliban realize “the continuation of fighting will lead them to a bad outcome” doesn’t seem to have materialized. As Long War Journal’s Bill Roggio and Thomas Jocelyn wrote in June, the U.S. and Afghan governments have “not beaten back the jihadists in the months since the Trump administration announced its new strategy last August. They have, at best, prevented them from conquering even more ground. Why would the Taliban, which is not close to being defeated, give up now?”

Pompeo’s visit was also overshadowed by his own security concerns. It was not announced in advance, and journalists traveling with him could not report that he was there for hours – a sign of how poor the security situation is at this moment.

He landed not at Kabul International Airport, where the Taliban launched a rocket attack after Defense Secretary James Mattis landed there hours earlier, but at the U.S.’s Bagram Air Base about 30 miles north of Kabul. From there, he took a small plane to Kabul, to catch a helicopter to the U.S. embassy and avoid the streets. After meetings at the embassy, he was driven in a convoy of armored vehicles a few hundred yards to the presidential palace, according to reporters traveling with him.

Upon landing in Kabul, Pompeo was offered a flak jacket and took off his suit jacket to put it on, before U.S. Ambassador John Bass declined one and Pompeo did, too.

When Pompeo’s predecessor Rex Tillerson visited last October, he and his delegation never even left Bagram Air Base. But the U.S. embassy put out a press release about his visit to “Kabul,” and the Afghan president’s office released a photo of Tillerson and Ghani meeting that had digitally altered it to remove a clock with military time and a red fire alarm — two signs the picture was taken at a U.S. facility. The State Department later said the embassy’s error was “a simple mistake.”

After a little over six hours on the ground, Pompeo was out of the country and onward to the United Arab Emirates.

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The Bullet of Impunity

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: El País

By: Javier Garza Ramos, Torreón, Coahuila.
June 18, 2018

The bullet that killed Fernando Purón Johnston , PRI candidate for federal deputy in Piedras Negras, Coahuila on Friday, June 8, was the same one used six days earlier, on June 2, that killed Pamela Terán Pineda, candidate for councilor El Juchitán , Oaxaca, and Juana Maldonado Infante, candidate for local deputy in Jopala, Puebla .
The same bullet was used the next day, on Saturday June 9, which wounded Rosely Magaña, candidate for councilor in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, who died 72 hours later. And it was the same bullet that killed Alejandro Chávez, candidate for mayor of Taretan, Michoacán on Thursday, June 14th.
This same bullet  has killed 44 pre-candidates and candidates for election and other 70 officials and political figures in this election process. No ballistic proof is needed to sustain the claim, just follow the path of the bullet of impunity.

Fernando Purón Johnston, PRI Candidate and former Mayor of Piedras Negras, Coahuila

The person who ordered Purón’s murder probably knew that nothing was going to happen to him, because nothing happened to Terán’s murderer , and he knew that Salado’s murderer had nothing happen to him and so goes back in time the long thread of impunity.

I get the impression that we already saw this movie. The sequence of candidates killed in the current electoral process in Mexico is very similar to the list of dozens of journalists killed in Mexico in the last decade. A succession of crimes that alarm at first, but have become normalized.
Candidates and journalists are two high-risk groups in Mexico. Of course, they are not the only ones, they are only two subgroups of rampant unabated  violence that last year averaged 20 victims a day  and of which there is no end in sight.
While the motive of each murder is particular, in the case of journalists and candidates, a common thread unites them in that the victims may have touched powerful interests that prefer to use violence to end threats because they live in a country with a broken rule of law. Violence is a cheap, fast and easy remedy to perceived threats to institutions.
Throughout this succession of crimes there are those who warn about the gestation of an epidemic but their voices are drowned because nothing ever happens, until a high-profile case arrives that causes greater impact, which raises the volume of the complaints, although the increasing demand for sentencing does not end up solving anything.
The “strong condemnation” that we hear from the authorities is just a placebo that shows its inefficiency. Worse yet, when those high-profile cases are registered in the highest spheres of authority, after having ignored dozens of other cases, things are only  likely to get worse.
Fernando Purón was the highest-profile candidate killed in the current electoral process, as he was the first candidate to hold a federal election position, while the previous candidates had been candidates for local positions in small municipalities.

Secretary of Labor Roberto Campa

His death was the first that merited the presence of a member of the cabinet of President Enrique Peña Nieto at the funeral. The Secretary of Labor, Roberto Campa, traveled to Piedras Negras as the presidential representative, but also with the same common promises to deliver justice.

Something similar happened with the case of Javier Valdez, the highest profile journalist killed in Mexico in recent years.

Javier Valdez, award winning and internationally known Journalist and Author of several books

 A year ago, when Javier Valdez was gunned down in Culiacán, Peña Nieto spoke for the first time about the murder of a journalist, after having ignored 35 previous crimes committed during his six-year term . The president brought together the security cabinet and the governors, issued instructions to strengthen the protection of journalists and promised that the killing would not go unpunished.
A year later, two of the three men who attacked Valdez on May 15, 2017 have been detained, but accused only of the material authorship of the crime, because until now the intellectual authors enjoy the same impunity enjoyed by those responsible for dozens of previous murders.
It is easy to conclude that if the murder of a nationally and internationally recognized journalist provoked the reaction of the same President of the Republic but the crime still goes unpunished, anyone who is thinking of killing a lesser-known journalist than Javier Valdez can reasonably think he or she will get away with it.
In fact, there were already some who thought about it: in 2017 six more journalists were killed after Javier Valdez and at least four so far in 2018.
Mexican police Mexican Citizens take to the streets to demand Justice and Freedom of the Press after their beloved brave truth-telling journalists continue to be murdered.
That is why Roberto Campa’s presence at Purón’s funeral involves a challenge in itself: if the murder of a candidate that merited this level of attention is unpunished the fate of others is already cast.
The impunity in the homicide of Purón also carries another risk because it threatens to throw overboard the pacification that the State of Coahuila has had in the last years and in particular the northern zone of the state,  in Piedras Negras, ie, where Purón  was mayor from 2014 to 2017, a period in which state and federal operatives managed to dismantle the power of Los Zetas, who waged a reign of terror in the area during the previous decade .
The infamous prison near Piedras Negras, Coahuila that Los Zetas turned into a Base of Operations and many call a death camp. The death toll will probably never be known.
Unlike previous municipal administrations, that of Purón did not succumb to the control of Los Zetas. That had been one of the focal points of his speech and it is now one of the lines of investigation into his murder.
It was during the years that Purón was mayor when Piedras Negras managed to overcome the trauma of the massacres and disappearances that have been documented with horrifying detail by El Colegio de México, the government of Coahuila and the Executive Commission for Victim Assistance.
 Piedras Negras has made such a remarkable recovery that in the latest surveys of urban security by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics, Piedras Negras appeared among the cities with a better perception of security, data that resulted from the mayoral work of the now dead candidate.
Just a week ago, Pablo Ferri published in this newspaper the chronicle of a trip through Coahuila that ended precisely in Piedras Negras. Noting the horror of recent years, the story also showed a semblance of quiet normalcy within political campaigns.
Two days after the text was published, the story completely changed to one that we already know all too well.
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Arrest Warrants Issued in the Murder of Congressional Candidate Purón.

Authorities issue arrest warrants in the murder of candidate Purón..his widow announces pregnancy

Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat ,,,Big thanks to mi Amiga Lacy

Ignacio, ‘El Putrambula’, served as director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, and has more than 81 complaints of homicide, kidnapping, torture, abuse of authority.

Purón was 112th candidate murdered in the past 14 months of Mexico’s bloody election campaign

 

The young widow announced through her personal Facebook account and confirmed it later in an exclusive interview with Periódico Zócalo. “I feel a lot of happiness, I am eight weeks pregnant and I know in this way that Fernando is giving me the strength to keep going despite his absence,” she said.

This is the second child of Villarreal and her husband, who was killed minutes after leaving a political debate on Friday June 8th.  Puron, was running for deputy, (similar to a congressman) of the 11th district of Coahuila.

“Since Fernando became the father of María Constanza, I could see how his life changed, and with the anticipation of our second child, we were very excited, we were already making many plans, like decorating a second room, (… ) I have at the same time nostalgia, but it fills me with illusion to know that a part of Fernando grows inside me,” she said.

In a news conference yesterday, authorities announced they have issued arrest warrants for two men believed to be the authors of the murder, not necessarily the trigger-man.

The names were not revealed yesterday  but later revealed by Governor Miguel Riquelme, along with a wanted poster.

The wanted men are brothers Erick and Ignacio Arámbula Viveros, there is a 10 million MP reward offered.

Ignacio was director of public security in Tabasco

Erick was part of the Equitation team of the Secretariat of National Defense (Sena), and even participated in the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara.  Ignacio, ‘El Putrambula’, served as director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, and has more than 81 complaints of homicide, kidnapping, torture, abuse of authority.  They are from Michoacan.

This kidnapping attributed to Ignacio was caught on video….

From video notes:

2011: The kidnapping of Gino Gritilli by the then chief of public security of tabasco, Ignacio Arambula Viveros.  All involved are policemen and are hooded. “A dozen of municipal police officers and the corrupt, legalized professional criminal (a former lieutenant, former military chef) Ignacio Arambula Viveros (el putrambula), director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mex.”

During his candidacy Puron highlighted how Los Zaetas cartel were “ran out of Piedras Negras” and mentioned the same during the debate.  Puron was a popular mayor of Piedras Negras before running for the federal office seat. Piedras Negras is a border city adjacent to Eagle Pass Texas

The candidate’s killing was captured on security video footage, as he was taking a selfie with a supporter, outside the university where the debate was held.

 

Puron was the 112th candidate assassinated since September, 2017.

Borderland Beat Reporter Chivis Posted at 12:31 PM

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Suicide attack close to Indian consulate in Afghanistan kills 14

Jalalabad, Afghanistan: A suicide attack in restive eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed at least 14 people and wounded 45, an official said, the second attack in as many days to mar an unprecedented ceasefire.

Kabul Bombing 2

The explosion happened outside the Nangarhar provincial governor´s office in the capital Jalalabad, his spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.

It was also close to the Indian consulate.

Khogyani said 14 people had been killed and 45 wounded. An Afghan security source confirmed the suicide attack but gave a lower death toll of at least 10.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Khogyani said a suicide bomber on foot had targeted Taliban, local elders and civilians as they left the governor´s compound where they had attended a special event for the Eid holiday.

On Saturday, a suicide attack on a gathering of Taliban, security forces and civilians in a district of the same eastern province of Nangarhar killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 others, provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal told AFP.

Daesh group´s Afghanistan franchise claimed responsibility for that attack.

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Sounding the alarm on ‘directed energy’ attacks Could an ‘energised device’ have been the smoking gun injuring US diplomats in China and Cuba?

It’s time for Western policymakers to develop a playbook for countermeasures against potential ‘directed energy’ attacks, Robert Bunker writes.

recent health alert posted on the US Department of State website related to an incident in Guangzhou, China, in which an employee of the US embassy suffered certain ‘bio-effects’. The event can be viewed in the context of earlier incidents, such as that in which US – as well as one or more Canadian – diplomatic staff members serving in Havana, Cuba were similarly affected.

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This is an image of the SIGINT Signature of an S400 Surface to Air Missile and it has Nothing to do with the Story.  But it is one of the most beautiful SIGINT Signatures. 

These traumatic brain and bodily injuries to diplomatic personnel have raised concerns over the possibility that an ongoing series of clandestine directed energy attacks have been taking place, and are increasingly drawing news and social media attention.

Three primary reasons exist why a clandestine state entity may intentionally project directed energy at US and allied embassies.

First, such energies can be utilized for sensing and spying activities in an attempt to obtain restricted and secret information either being discussed or transmitted. For instance, listening devices exist that can bounce energy frequencies off the window glass of an office, thus allowing the hearing of a private conversation inside.

Second, directed energy can be deployed in a jamming and harassment role to degrade embassy and staff functioning. This would be akin to disrupting cell phone reception, local area networks (for example from a computer to a printer), or even other more secure forms of communication.

Third, certain electromagnetic frequencies may be utilised in order to injure personnel and destroy specific forms of military equipment. As national militaries increasingly weaponise the electromagnetic spectrum, the use of infra- and ultra-sonic devices, high-powered microwaves (HPM), and lasers are becoming more common

Such advanced technologies are well suited for clandestine use because some of them – particularly certain sonic and HPM technologies – can bypass physical walls and structures. They directly injure targeted individuals with virtually none of the conventional forensic evidence a firearm or explosive would leave behind. China is well aware of these advanced weaponry capabilities and is actively pursuing them developmentally and in field-testing.

Various narratives and counter-narratives, however, have been proposed about these incidents in attempts to dismiss them as non-events. They have been portrayed as a figment of employee imagination, the product of mass hysteria, and more recently – given the preponderance of medical evidence that diplomatic personnel have suffered actual physical damage – as the malfunctioning of electronic eavesdropping equipment.

Within the context of these narratives, disinformation campaigns are actively being waged by Chinese, Russian, and allied authoritarian regimes as a component of their foreign policies, which are directly at odds with liberal democratic governance and individual human rights.

Viewing the incidents as some form of ongoing series of attacks, however, appears more plausible and more in line with US governmental perspectives, especially considering the types and circumstances of the injuries suffered, as well as the concurrent audible noises and other sensory events reported.

Recommendations for policymakers concerning the mysterious incidents in Havana and Guangzhou exist at varying levels of action.

On the declaratory level, restraint must be exercised because no ‘smoking gun’ (or, in this instance, ‘energised device’) exists which directly links any of these incidents to a specific entity or national backing.

With this said, an increasing evidential pattern of incidents and anomalies have taken place within Chinese military activities to warrant concern over the likelihood that the embassy attacks may represent a new component of Chinese clandestine operations carried out against the Western liberal democracies. These include the counter-optical lasing of multiple US military aircraft from the new Chinese base in Djibouti and the use of commercial fishing fleets to harass US warships.

While Western nations are attempting to engage with China, the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping – now its leader for life – has essentially seized the South China Sea, militarised it, and slowly begun to build up the capacity to globally project its military power.

Western political leaders – including those in Australia – should now be on guard for Chinese attempts to fracture democratically based defence agreements and coalitions. It can be expected that such a strategy will be supported by ongoing clandestine measures directed against democratic states for disruptive and propaganda purposes.

At the more specific level of protecting embassies and their staff, this pattern of incidents warrants the creation of a directed energy weapons playbook for incident deterrence, detection, mitigation, response, emergency services, investigation and recovery purposes.

Such playbooks – generally utilised within counter-terrorism programs – are created for countermeasure purposes against known and recognised threats such as active shooters, suicide bombers or weaponised drones. They proactively lay out the identified threat, and detail plans and actions to address that threat before, during and after an incident has taken place. Examples of potential countermeasures include detectors to provide early warning of electromagnetic use, the ability to triangulate back to the point of origin of a suspected attack, and energy frequency dampeners (for example projected anti-frequency fields).

While none of these policy recommendations will immediately end what could be additional, albeit likely sporadic, future directed energy attacks on US embassy personnel, they will begin to help in responding to these incidents along the continuum of deterrence through to recovery. They should be viewed as prudent measures to be used alongside those actions now being undertaken by US intelligence and federal investigative agencies, which are attempting to determine the actual perpetrators of these incidents and if any definitive links to China’s clandestine services exist.

The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

 

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