ONS: 06 March 2018

by TRG Alerts Admin on March 7, 2018

KEY STORYLINES

  • AFRICA: A US military investigation into an OCT17 Niger attack that killed four American service members concludes the team didn’t get required senior command approval for their risky mission to capture a high-level Islamic State militant.
  • AMERICAS: Backchannel negotiations for the release of American Joshua Holt were revealed to be ongoing between the US and Venezuela.
  • ASIA: North Korea told a visiting South Korean delegation that it was willing to hold talks with the US about giving up nuclear weapons and normalizing relations with Washington.
  • EUROPE: The Netherlands’ main intelligence agency is seeing an increase in the volume and complexity of attempts at digital espionage, online political manipulation and moves toward sabotage of infrastructure in Europe.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Russia’s military offered to guarantee safe passage out of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta area for rebel fighters and their families.
  • TECHNOLOGY: Norway’s foreign intelligence service named digital intelligence as the top threat to the Nordic country.

TOP STORY

  • United Kingdom: Ex-Russian spy collapses under suspicious circumstances.
    • Sergei Skripal, 66, an ex-Russian military intelligence colonel, and an unidentified 33-year-old woman who was with him, were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, a city about 90 miles west of London.
    • Both are in critical condition in intensive care.
    • British counter-terrorism police are aiding the investigation and trying to identify the substance to which both were exposed.
    • Russia has said it has “no information” on the incident but was willing to cooperate in the police investigation.
    • Sergei Skripal, 66, was one of four Russians exchanged for 10 deep cover “sleeper” agents planted by Moscow in the US.
    • Skripal was arrested in by Russia’s Federal Security Service on suspicion of betraying dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence and sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006 after a secret trial.
    • Coverage: BBC, Guardian, Reuters, USA Today, WP

AFRICA

  • Region: Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt returned to Cairo after more than two months away, in a sign of improved relations. (AP)
  • Niger: A US military investigation into an OCT17 attack that killed four American service members concludes the team didn’t get required senior command approval for their risky mission to capture a high-level Islamic State militant. (AP)
  • Nigeria: Lassa fever claimed 110 lives in the country since the beginning of the year, in one of the worst outbreaks since 2016. (AFP)

AMERICAS

  • Region: Backchannel negotiations for the release of American Joshua Holt were revealed to be ongoing between the US and Venezuela. (AP)
  • Region: Brazil filed a protest with the World Trade Organization against the US tariffs plan on steel imports and urged the White House to reconsider its decision. (Xinhua)
  • Region: Cuba condemned the US decision to withdrawal 60 percent of the US Embassy staff permanent in response to mysterious ailments affecting American diplomats. (AP)

ASIA

  • Region: Taiwan will look to its domestic arms industry as well as foreign suppliers to respond to China’s continuing military buildup. (AP)
  • Korean Peninsula: North Korea told a visiting South Korean delegation that it was willing to hold talks with the US about giving up nuclear weapons and normalizing relations with Washington. (WSJ)
  • Myanmar: The country’s “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims is continuing, the UN said, despite international condemnation. (Reuters)
  • Sri Lanka: The country declared a state of emergency for 10 days to rein in the spread of communal violence, after Buddhists and Muslims clashed in the central district of Kandy. (Reuters)

EUROPE

  • Region: The Netherlands’ main intelligence agency is seeing an increase in the volume and complexity of attempts at digital espionage, online political manipulation and moves toward sabotage of infrastructure in Europe. (AP)
  • Region: European Parliament Bernd Lange said the EU should target American goods that will “really hurt” the United States if President Donald Trump goes ahead with threats to raise tariffs on foreign-made steel or cars. (AP)
  • Region: The US called on Russia and Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia to repatriate the body of a Georgian man, Archil Tatunashvili, who died while in the custody of separatist officials. (RFE/RL)
  • United Kingdom: Thousands of homes are without water for a third day in parts of the country, in wake of heavy snows. (BBC)

MIDDLE EAST

  • Region: The economic and financial impact on Qatar of a nine-month Saudi-led blockade is fading, the International Monetary Fund said. (AFP)
  • Region: Turkey plans to establish camps in nine locations in Syria to house people displaced by fighting amid Ankara’s offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters. (AP)
  • Region: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Saudi Arabia agreed to allow Air India to use its airspace in flights to and from Israel in a possible warming of ties. (AFP)
  • Syria: Russia’s military offered to guarantee safe passage out of the Eastern Ghouta area for rebel fighters and their families. (Reuters)
  • Syria: The International Committee for the Red Cross was forced to halt aid to the eastern Damascus as the security situation deteriorated while aid workers were on the ground. (AP)

TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS

  • Technology: Norway’s foreign intelligence service named digital intelligence as the top threat to the Nordic country. (Xinhua)

WORLD

  • Cyclones: Tropical Cyclone Dumazile
    • Location: 222 NM SW of St Denis, La Reunion
    • Movement: SE at 6 mph
    • Wind: 115 mph
    • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to Report
  • Volcanoes: Mount Shinmoe, Japan
    • The volcano spewed plumes of smoke and volcanic ash around 2.1 km into the air. (Reuters)
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
      • Suspected Cases as of 22DEC: 61,613 (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, and Venezuela)
        • Suspected Cases (01JAN16-31DEC16): 349,936
      • Confirmed Cases as of 22DEC: 123,087 (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin (French part), and Venezuela)
        • Confirmed Cases (01JAN16-31DEC16): 152,250
      • Deaths as of 22DEC: 101 (Brazil, Ecuador)
        • Deaths (01JAN16-31DEC16): 172
        • Deaths (01JAN15-31DEC15): 91 (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico)
      • Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2, CDC, CDC-2
    • Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, SARS-related)
      • Cases as of 05MAR: 2,143 (Saudi Arabia (KSA), Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Tunisia, Italy, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Malaysia, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Iran, Algeria, Austria, Turkey, The Philippines, Germany, China, South Korea, and the US)
        • Deaths as of 05MAR: 750 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)
      • Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2.

TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (07MAR)

  • Sierra Leone: General elections

END

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