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Trump authorizes offensive cyber-attacks against foreign hackers

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Washington , Sep 21 : US President Donald Trump has signed a new directive designed to protect the country from cyber-attacks that places the emphasis on “offensive operations” to dissuade adversaries from attacking US infrastructure.

The strategy identifies Russia, China, Iran and North Korea as Washington’s main rivals.

The new US cyber-strategy, which entered into force on Thursday and the declassified version of which takes up 40 pages, is part of an overall deterrence strategy that includes pre-emptively launching cyber-attacks against other nations – or actors sponsored by other nations – to prevent them from attacking the US in the first place, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Bolton, at a press conference on Thursday, said that several weeks ago Trump had signed a measure cancelling a directive from former President Barack Obama’s administration regarding how the US would carry out cyber-attacks on other countries, a strategy that had required the military to consult with the State Department, intelligence community and other agencies before launching a cyber-attack.

The new directive signed by Trump, however, although it is classified, would in all likelihood give the military more leeway in both responding to cyber-attacks and launching pre-emptive attacks.

“We will respond offensively as well as defensively,” Bolton said, adding that “it’s important for people to understand that we’re not just on defence” and noting that responses to cyber-attacks would not necessarily be mounted in cyberspace.

The new US cyber-strategy is based on four key elements: protecting the American people, homeland and way of life; promoting US prosperity; preserving “peace through strength” and strengthening Washington’s influence on the internet.

The declassified version of the strategy says that Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are using the cyberspace to challenge the US, its allies and partners, often with a boldness that they would not consider employing in other areas.

The new strategy allows each US government agency to design its own actions against potential cyber-threats, with the National Security Council, which Bolton heads, acting as coordinator.

Middle East

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah dies at age 91

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Emir Sheikh Sabah

Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, has died at the age of 91, state media report.

He is expected to be succeeded by his 83-year-old half-brother and crown prince, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed.

In July, Sheikh Sabah was flown to the United States for medical treatment following surgery for an unspecified condition in Kuwait.

He had ruled the oil-rich Gulf Arab state since 2006 and had overseen its foreign policy for more than 50 years.

He was dubbed the “dean of Arab diplomacy” for his efforts to restore relations with states that backed Iraq during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, when Kuwait was invaded by Iraqi forces.

The emir also often acted as a mediator in regional disputes, including the ongoing diplomatic stand-off between Saudi Arabia, its allies and Qatar.

Kuwait also refrained from intervening in Syria’s civil war, instead hosting several donor conferences for humanitarian aid.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah (2nd right) stands beside Saudi Arabia’s King Salman (right) and Bahrain’s King Hamad (2nd left) at a GCC summit in Riyadh on 10 December 2019

Sheikh Sabah came to power in January 2006, after Emir Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah stepped down just nine days into his rule as parliament moved to depose him on health grounds.

He had been prime minister under the previous Emir, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, and for several years had been seen as the de facto ruler.

Before then, he served as foreign minister from 1963 to 1991 and from 1992 to 2003.

Kuwait – which has a population of 4.8 million, including 3.4 million foreigners – has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves and is a major US ally.

It has been ruled by the Sabah family for the past 260 years.

The emir has the last say in political matters. He has the power to override or dissolve parliament, and call elections.

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India

Unprecedented provocation! China says it does not recognise illegally established union territory of Ladakh

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed that India had “illegally” established the UT of Ladakh and opposed infrastructure development on border areas.

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Wang Wenbin

New Delhi: A belligerent China on Tuesday again sought to provoke India amid the ongoing border dispute, saying that it does not recognise the union territory of Ladakh. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed that India had “illegally” established the UT of Ladakh and opposed infrastructure development on border areas.

“China does not recognize the so-called Union Territory of Ladakh illegally established by India, and opposes infrastructure construction in disputed border areas for military control purposes,” spokesperson Wang said while commenting on India’s move to build roads along the border.

“According to the recent consensus reached between China and India, neither side should take any actions in border areas that would complicate the situation, so as not to affect the efforts of both sides to ease the situation,” Wang added, in comments posted by state-run Global Times on its Twitter handle.

It may be recalled that Ladakh used to be a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir till 2019. On August 5, last year, the Central government revoked the special status of J&K and bifurcated the state into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The bifurcation came into effect on October 31 (2019) – which India marks as National Unity Day.

The Chinese remarks came on a day when Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on said that the prevailing situation along the Line of Actual Control was “uneasy”. According to the IAF chief, a “no war, no peace” status was prevailing along the northern border amid the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh.

He, however, assured that the Indian armed forces were prepared for any eventuality and that the IAF was resolved to counter “any misadventure”.

“Present security scenario along our northern frontiers is at an uneasy — no war, no peace status…. The recent induction of Rafales along with other aircraft has provided the IAF with substantial practical and strategic capability enhancement,” Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said.

“Air power will be a crucial enabler in our victory in any future conflict,” he added.

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World

Trump taxes are ‘national security’ issue: Nancy Pelosi

Mr Trump departed from decades of tradition among presidents and presidential candidates when he refused to release his federal income tax returns the first time he ran for president in 2016.

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Trump Speaker PelosTrump Speaker Nancy Pelosii

Washington, Sep 29 : The top-ranked Democrat in Washington has called US President Donald Trump’s alleged tax avoidance a question of “national security”.

The Republican president responded in a series of Twitter posts to a New York Times report that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises.

“I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.”

The Republican president, who will face Democratic rival Joe Biden on Tuesday night for their first presidential debate, said he had “extraordinary assets” and boasted a “very IMPRESSIVE” financial statement.

Mr Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt amid chronic business losses that he uses to avoid paying taxes, the Times reported. It said it has obtained tax-return data covering more than two decades for Mr Trump and his businesses.

Mr Trump’s reported debts raise national security issues, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, as the public deserves to know to whom he owes money because it could be used as leverage against him. “To me this is a national security question,” she told MSNBC.

Mr Trump departed from decades of tradition among presidents and presidential candidates when he refused to release his federal income tax returns the first time he ran for president in 2016.

He says it is because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service but the agency has said there is no reason he cannot release his taxes while under audit.

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