USA

US accuses Russia of harassing, intimidating diplomats

The United States has complained to Russia about a mounting campaign of harassment and intimidation of American diplomats and their families in Moscow, the State Department said.

Among those to raise objections, US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin in March, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

“Over the past two years, harassment and surveillance of our diplomatic personnel in Moscow by security personnel and traffic police have increased significantly,” she told reporters during a news conference.

US State Department says over the past two years, harassment and surveillance of American diplomatic personnel in Moscow by security personnel and traffic po...

US State Department says over the past two years, harassment and surveillance of American diplomatic personnel in Moscow by security personnel and traffic police have increased significantly ©Kirill Kudryavtsev (AFP/File)

She was commenting about a report by The Washington Post on Monday that described a series of actions by Russian security and intelligence services, including following diplomats and their family members, appearing at social functions uninvited and paying for negative media stories.

Some diplomats said intruders had broken into their homes at night to rearrange furniture, turn on lights and even defecate on a living room carpet, the newspaper reported, citing officials as saying Russian intelligence officers once broke into the US defense attache’s Moscow house and killed his dog.

“We see an increase and we take it seriously,” Trudeau said on Monday.

Moscow accuses the United States of harassing its own diplomats and says it takes reciprocal measures only in response.

“We have recently felt a significant increase in pressure on the Russian embassy and consulates general of our country in the United States,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying last week.

Russian diplomats “regularly become the objects of provocations by the American secret services, face obstacles in making official contacts and other restrictions,” such as travel, she added.

Trudeau denied the accusation on Monday.

“Russia’s claims of harassment are without foundation,” she said.

State Department officials say Russian harassment has increased significantly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, which prompted Western sanctions against Moscow, The Washington Post reported.

Kerry spoke to Putin about the matter during a visit to Moscow after Washington stripped five Russian honorary consuls of their credentials in January in response to the harassment of its diplomats.

TORUN, Poland (AP) — About 2,000 NATO troops from the U.S., Britain and Poland conducted an airborne training operation on Tuesday as part of the biggest exercise performed in Poland since the 1989 end of communism and amid concerns over Russia.

This should make Russia look, oh ya they talk about nukes, but even if they used a tactical nuke, it would kill there troops as well, and make a dead zone not only in Poland, but Russia too.

This is the way to make Putin look and be scared, we need to Box them in, so that if they try and use Tactical nukes, they too will be affected, i am getting sick and tiered with all this “WE HAVE NUKES ” shit coming from Moscow. They need to start looking at what the real price will be if they try to make a Crimea attack again! Their little green men without Russian badges, that only makes them look like cowards, a real military, would show who they were, not try and hide from us.

 

Scores of U.S. troops and then military vehicles parachuted into a spacious, grassy training area on the outskirts of the central city of Torun. The force’s mission was to secure a bridge on the Vistula River as part of the Polish-led Anakonda-16 exercise that involves about 31,000 troops and runs through mid-June.

Nineteen NATO member nations and five partner nations are contributing troops to the exercise that will train and test their swift joint reaction to threats on land, sea and in the air.

Airborne forces from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland conduct a a multi-national jump on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 201...

Airborne forces from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland conduct a a multi-national jump on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

In a complex operation that was precisely planned and timed, troops of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division flew directly from their U.S. base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Their Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft were refueled in midair. The British troops flew from a NATO base in Ramstein, Germany, while the Poles arrived from their base in Krakow, in southern Poland.

The exercise “confirmed that we can count on our friends who are capable of flying over the Atlantic to be here with us in a matter of hours,” said Polish Gen. Miroslaw Rozanski, deputy commander of the exercise. “We can look into the future with calm. We have good allies and good partners.”

Russia considers NATO troops’ presence close to its border as a security threat. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Tuesday in Moscow that the military exercise in Poland “does not contribute to the atmosphere of trust and security on the continent.”

Poland and other nations in the region, as well as NATO leaders, say that any military presence or exercises are purely defensive and deterrent measures.

The drill is being held just weeks before NATO holds a crucial summit in Warsaw expected to decide that significant numbers of NATO troops and equipment will be based in Poland and in the Baltic states.

___

Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

A C-130 plane drops paratroopers from the Polish 6th Airborne Division during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain ...

A C-130 plane drops paratroopers from the Polish 6th Airborne Division during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division jump during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a design...

U.S. C-17 planes from the 82nd Airborne Division drop paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division General Richard D. Clarke, left, runs after jumping during a multi-national jump conducted by forces from the U.S., G...

Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division General Richard D. Clarke, left, runs after jumping during a multi-national jump conducted by forces from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

A British C-130J plane from the 16th Air Assault Brigade drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Bri...

A British C-130J plane from the 16th Air Assault Brigade drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

A U.S. C-17 plane from the 82nd Airborne Division drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain an...

A U.S. C-17 plane from the 82nd Airborne Division drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

#FreeJulian ! : Julian Assange case: Sweden to drop sex assault inquiry, It’s About Bloody Time.

File photo from 2014 shows Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, left, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London

wedish prosecutors will drop their investigation into sexual assault allegations against Julian Assange on Thursday because of the statutes of limitation, the BBC has learned.

The Wikileaks founder still faces the more serious allegation of rape.

But prosecutors have run out of time to investigate Mr Assange for sexual assault because they have not succeeded in questioning him.

He denies all allegations and has said they are part of a smear campaign.

The Australian journalist and activist sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Time limit

Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.

Prosecutors had until 13 August to question Mr Assange about one accusation of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion, while the time limit on a further allegation of sexual molestation runs out on 18 August.

The more serious allegation of rape is not due to expire until 2020.

An official announcement from the prosecutor’s office is expected on Thursday morning.

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold placards during a vigil across the street from the Ecuador embassy in London, Friday 19, June 2015

Mr Assange has always denied all the accusations and says he fled into the Ecuadorian embassy because he fears being extradited from Sweden to the US and put on trial for releasing secret American documents.

He has said in the past that he will not leave the embassy, even if the accusations of sex crimes are dropped.

The woman who accused Mr Assange of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion – who is identified in legal papers only as AA – is said to be relieved that the case is now behind her.

“She had wanted him to stand before the court and answer the accusations but it’s five years ago and she’s not interested in going to court now,” her lawyer, Claes Borgstrom, told the BBC.

“She wants to put it all behind her. It’s been a difficult time for her and she’s now trying to forget about it and move on with her life.”

Swedish prosecutors had initially insisted that Mr Assange be questioned in Sweden, but earlier this year – under pressure to advance the investigation – she agreed that he could be interviewed in London.

But the Swedish government has been unable to negotiate access with the Ecuadorian authorities, with both sides blaming the other for the impasse.

‘Difficult and costly’

Lawyers for Mr Assange say the allegations of sexual assault should have been dropped long ago.

“Our position is that the investigation should have been shut down earlier because there wasn’t enough evidence to keep it going,” Thomas Olsson, one of his Swedish lawyers, told the BBC.

“It’s regrettable that it’s gone on for this long.”

He said he believed Mr Assange could clear his name over the rape allegation.

“We are convinced that as soon as he has the opportunity to give his version of the circumstances, there’ll be no need to continue the investigation.”

Sweden is expected to continue discussions with Ecuador over the terms under which the prosecutor could question Mr Assange over the remaining accusation.

The UK government has urged Ecuador to co-operate, stressing that the UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange.

“We are clear that our laws must be followed and Mr Assange should be extradited,” a UK Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

“As ever, we look to Ecuador to help bring this difficult, and costly, situation to an end.”

The cost of policing the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge for the past three years now stands at around £12m ($18.8m; €16.8m).

‘I’m white, call them twice bitch’

White Castle restaurant

Another terribly ugly racist incident in the St. Louis area. A white man at a Florissant, Missouri, White Castle was upset with two women who’d gotten to the drive-thru window before him, so he began peppering them with nasty slurs:

Stewart says the driver, who appeared intoxicated, was angry because the black driver got to the drive-through line before he did. He first yelled at her, “Why don’t you watch where the fuck you’re going next time?”

Stewart couldn’t hear how the woman responded, but she heard him call her the N-word and scream, “That’s all you people know to fucking do is yell and fight. You want some of this?”

Mariah Stewart, a Huffington Post blogger, happened to be in the restaurant with her 6-year-old daughter and heard the entire exchange, including the man’s response when the women said they were calling the police:

“I’m white. Call them twice, bitch,” the driver shouted at the black woman and teenager from his white truck.

Stewart says she and her daughter were in shock:

“[My daughter] didn’t want to look back because she was scared,” Stewart says. “She started crying. She was worried about the women in the car. It took a toll on her.”

White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson says he’s reviewing security-tape footage to identify the driver.

Ultimately the women did not call police and there is no police investigation. Just another day in post-racial America.

 

US fears that Britain’s defence cuts will diminish Army on world stage

In an exclusive interview, Gen Raymond Odierno, US army Chief of Staff, says UK defence cuts are eroding his country’s confidence in our commitment to global security

US fears over cuts in British defence

Gen Odierno said that British defence cuts are already jeopardising US-UK joint operations Photo: AP

Ever since the Cold War ended more than two decades ago, America has never entertained any serious doubts about Britain’s ability to fulfil its commitment as a vital military ally when tackling threats to the Western alliance.

Until now. For the dramatic cuts to Britain’s defence budget implemented since the Coalition took power in 2010 have led to a number of senior US military officers and politicians openly questioning whether, when it comes to fighting the wars of the future, Britain has the capability to be an effective ally on the battlefield.

The Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have all suffered cutbacks to the extent that they are no longer able to undertake the kind of missions that Britain has historically supported.

The way we were: Britain’s Maj Gen Andy Salmon and US Gen Michael Oates in Iraq, 2009

Now, General Raymond Odierno, the Chief of Staff of the US army, who has fought alongside British forces in several conflicts, including the recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, has become the latest senior officer to express his concerns in public, telling The Telegraph when I met him in Washington last week that he is “very concerned” about the impact the cuts are having.

His comments, moreover, came afterPresident Barack Obama had taken issue with David Cameron when he visited the White House in January. He warned the Prime Minister of the dangers of allowing British defence expenditure to fall below the 2 per cent of GDP threshold required by our Nato membership.

For there are growing fears that cuts will jeopardise a central tenet of the post-Second World War transatlantic alliance – namely, that Britain can be counted upon to provide military hardware to US-led campaigns in defence of Western interests.

Whether it is dealing with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, or preventing Afghanistan from becoming a haven for Islamist terror groups, it has been a long-standing assumption of US military planning that Britain would deploy a combat force in excess of 10,000 men, as well as the fighter aircraft and naval vessels.

During the 1991 Gulf War, for example, the famed 7th Armoured Brigade, or Desert Rats, took the lead role in the Army’s ground operations, which saw more than 50,000 British soldiers deployed to the region during the six-month campaign. The RAF, meanwhile, deployed several fighter squadrons, while Royal Navy warships were involved in a wide range of duties.

 

 

More than two decades after Saddam’s forces were defeated in that war, the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place. As Gen Odierno remarked: “This is the most uncertain global environment I have seen in 40 years of service.”

And yet, at a time when the security of Britain and the rest of the alliance faces a range of threats, none of the main political parties is showing any interest in reversing the cuts that have seriously diminished the UK’s ability to tackle them.

As a result of the budget cuts following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Army has been cut by a fifth, the RAF now has just seven combat squadrons, compared with the 30-odd it had in the first Gulf War, and the Navy barely has enough warships to fulfil its international duties.

“We have a bilateral agreement between our two countries to work together. It is about having a partner that has very close values and the same goals as we do,” explained Gen Ordorno at the New America Foundation’s “Future of War” conference.

“What has changed, though, is the level of capability. In the past we would have a British Army division working alongside an American army division.” The cuts mean that the US military is now working on the basis that in future Britain will contribute only half that amount, if not less.

Looking at current threats to global security, Gen Odierno warned that the alliance “had to be prepared for Ukraine”, while America and its allies needed to be primed to back Iraqi government forces later this year when they launch their much-anticipated offensive to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which fell to Isil last year.

 

 

But Britain’s spending isn’t the only cause for concern. Gen Odierno is also worried about cuts by other European allies. “The US is willing to participate, and in some cases lead, but we need our multi-national partners to help,” he said. “As we look to the threats around the world, we need to have multinational solutions. They are of concern to everyone, and we need everybody to help, assist and invest.”

The big question is whether, with the general election approaching, the concerns raised by senior American figures will persuade any of the main political parties to make defence a priority in their election manifestos.

As far as Mr Cameron is concerned, a future Conservative government would seek to make further cuts to the defence budget, with concerns already expressed that the Army could be reduced by another 20,000 personnel, making it half the size of its French equivalent.

Indeed, Philip Hammond, the former Defence Secretary, told senior officers last summer that the military would not be able to spend 2 per cent of GDP, even if the Government agreed to provide it. This asinine remark, which typifies the disdainful attitude of some senior Tories, overlooks the fact that the RAF is desperately short of combat squadrons, the Navy is still trying to work out how it will provide the expert manpower and equipment needed to operate its two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and the Army is struggling to cope with the drastic reductions to its ranks.

 

 

And yet, while the Coalition shows little concern for the damage inflicted on Britain’s military capabilities, it remains committed to ring-fencing the foreign aid budget to 0.7 per cent of GDP, with the result that much-needed resources are being squandered overseas that could usefully be spent on strengthening the nation’s defences.

For example, following the Coalition’s decision to scrap the RAF’s Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, we no longer have the ability to track the activities of Russian nuclear attack submarines in the North Sea. A simple, cost-effective replacement would be to purchase the Boeing P8 Posiedon, with similar capabilities, which the RAF estimates would cost around £200 million a year – a reasonable investment, you might think, given the state of tensions between London and Moscow.

By coincidence, £200 million is exactly the same amount of money Britain donates to India in foreign aid each year. As a result of its generosity, Britain cannot afford the P8; India, on the other hand, has a fleet of the aircraft to protect its own territorial waters.

It’s no wonder there is genuine anxiety among several Tory backbench MPs, who cannot understand why the Prime Minister won’t accept that a robust defence policy might actually be a vote-winner. Let’s hope, for all our sakes, that their arguments prevail.

Just when you thought it was safe? Russian researchers find ‘US spy software in hard drives’

The silhouette of a man is seen typing on a laptop computer an arranged photograph taken in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. U.S. officials are discussing whether new standards should be set for government action in response to hacks like the one suffered by Sony Pictures Entertainment, such as if a certain level of monetary damage is caused or if values such as free speech are trampled, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers said in an interview with Bloomberg News. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Russia-based researchers said they have found a series of sophisticated hacking tools within the hard drives of personal computers built by some the world’s biggest manufacturers.

Kaspersky Labs, a Moscow-based cybersecurity company, said it had uncovered the spying software in computers that were used in 30 countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China, which have long been priorities for US intelligence agencies.

Without accusing the National Security Agency of being the source of the new malware, Kaspersky researchers indirectly suggested that the tools were devised by the US.

Some of the surveillance tools had been hidden deep inside the hard drives of computers made by companies such as ToshibaWestern DigitalSeagateand IBM, the Russian company said.

If a US role in developing the new cyber-tools is confirmed, it could further tarnish the reputation of US technology companies after the damaging revelations about the NSA leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.

Publishing the technical details of the spyware on Monday, Kaspersky said that they were introduced by a group “that surpasses anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques”.

Avoiding any direct reference to the NSA, Kaspersky said the spying software had been developed by an entity it called “The Equation Group”, which it said had been operating for 20 years.

However, it said that the Equation Group had “solid links” to the creators of Stuxnet — the virus that that attacked an Iranian nuclear facility and that was developed by the US, in co-operation with Israel.

According to Kapersky, one of the surveillance tools is embedded in the computer “firmware”, code that sends messages to the rest of a computer hardware when it is switched on — a development the Russian researchers described as “an astonishing technical accomplishment” because it was so hard to detect and extract.

“To put it simply: for most hard drives there are functions to write into the hardware firmware area, but there are no functions to read it back,” said Costin Raiu, director of the Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab. “It means that we are practically blind, and cannot detect hard drives that have been infected by this malware.”

The report said that the ‘Equation Group’ used the resultant capability to eavesdrop on a selective basis. The targets had included banks, governments, nuclear researchers, military facilities and Islamic activists, it said.

The Kaspersky report also discussed the attempts by the ‘Equation Group’ to map “air-gapped” networks that are not connected to the internet — as was the case for Iran’s nuclear facilities. It described a “unique USB-based command and control mechanism which allowed the attackers to pass data back and forth from air-gapped networks”.

Western Digital, Seagate and Micron said they had no knowledge of these spying programs. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment. IBM did not respond to requests for comment.

US, Japan, S. Korea Sign Pyongyang Intel Pact

FILE - South Koreans watch a TV news program showing a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station, Seoul, June 26, 2014.

FILE – South Koreans watch a TV news program showing a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station, Seoul, June 26, 2014.

The United States, South Korea and Japan have agreed to share classified information concerning nuclear threats from Pyongyang.

According to the Pentagon, under the trilateral pact that went into effect Monday, the U.S. Defense Department will be the hub for that intelligence.

The pact will effectively link bilateral information-sharing agreements that already exist between the countries.

A spokesman for South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the countries won’t have to divulge all of their related classified information under the new pact. Each will determine what access is granted.

Seoul also called on Monday for new peace talks with North Korea in January. The countries have been divided since 1948.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the proposal and asked Pyongyang to participate.

A U.N. statement said, “Renewed engagement and dialogue is the only way forward for building trust and promoting inter-Korean relations.”

There is no word yet on a response from North Korea.

TOP 10 MOST PIRATED MOVIES OF THE WEEK – 12/29/14

theinterview

The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. ‘The Interview’ tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Gone Girl.’ ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ completes the top three.

This week we have four newcomers in our chart.

The Interview is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) The Interview 7.8 / trailer
2 (3) Gone Girl 8.4 / trailer
3 (2) Horrible Bosses 2 6.9 / trailer
4 (4) Outcast 5.0 / trailer
5 (1) The Equalizer 7.4 / trailer
6 (…) Penguins of Madagascar 5.0 / trailer
7 (…) Dumb And Dumber To 6.4 / trailer
8 (5) The Maze Runner 7.1 / trailer
9 (6) Guardians of the Galaxy 8.5 / trailer
10 (…) PK 8.8 / trailer

North Korea calls Barack Obama ‘monkey’, suffers new Internet outage | North Korea just won’t learn.

North Korea suffered a new Internet outage on Saturday shortly after calling US President Barack Obama a "monkey" over the release of a comedy film about a fictional plot to kill its leader

SEOUL: North Korea suffered a new Internet outage on Saturday shortly after calling US President Barack Obama a “monkey” over the release of a comedy film about a fictional plot to kill its leader.

The latest shutdown came after the isolated dictatorship’s powerful National Defence Commission (NDC) threatened “inescapable deadly blows” over the film and accused the US of “disturbing the Internet operation” of media outlets after a blackout earlier this week.

The cause of the outages of the country’s already limited Internet access has not been confirmed.

The earlier shutdown triggered speculation that US authorities may have launched a cyber-attack in retaliation for the hacking of Sony Pictures — the studio behind “The Interview” — which Washington said Pyongyang was behind.

The outage on Saturday evening also affected telecommunication networks in the pariah state, according to Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency.

“At Pyongyang time 7:30 pm (1030 GMT) North Korea’s Internet and mobile 3G network came to a standstill, and had not returned to normal as of 9:30 pm,” Xinhua said, adding that its reporters in the North found the Internet to be “very unstable” throughout the day.

Respected cyber security firm Dyn Research said the Internet blackout was “country-wide”.

“This time there wasn’t the hours of routing instability that presaged the outage like last time. Although it did flicker back on for a moment, and go back down and stay down,” said Doug Madory, director of Internet Analysis with Dyn Research.

“If an outside force took it down again, it did it more efficiently than the previous incident.”

The firm later said the Internet was back, tweeting: “Off-again, on-again: North Korea returns after > 5 hour national outage.”

The North has about one million computers — mainly at educational and state institutions — but most lack any computers — mainly at educational and state institutions — but most lack any connection to the world wide web.

All online content and email are strictly censored or monitored with Internet access limited to a handful of top party cadres, propaganda officials and expatriates.

The NDC accused Obama of taking the lead in encouraging cinemas to screen “The Interview” on Christmas Day. Sony had initially cancelled its release after major US cinema chains said they would not show it, following threats by hackers aimed at cinemagoers.

“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” a spokesman for the NDC’s policy department said in a statement published by the official KCNA news agency.

“If the US persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite (North Korea’s) repeated warnings, the US should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows,” the spokesman said.

He accused Washington of linking the Sony hacking to North Korea “without clear evidence” and repeated Pyongyang’s condemnation of the film, describing it as “a movie for agitating terrorism produced with high-ranking politicians of the US administration involved”.

The film took in $1 million in its limited-release opening day, showing in around 300 mostly small, independent theatres. It was also released online for rental or purchase.

The film, which has been panned by critics, has become an unlikely symbol of free speech thanks to the hacker threats that nearly scuppered its release.

The US has refused to say whether it was involved in the shutdown. KCNA previously compared Obama to a black “monkey” in a zoo in May, prompting Washington to condemn the comments as “ugly and disrespectful”.

Russia’s Revised Military Doctrine Sees Major Threats from NATO, US | Putin lives in his own world.

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown at a news conference, has signed a revised military doctrine listing NATO and the United States as national security threats.

FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown at a news conference, has signed a revised military doctrine listing NATO and the United States as national security threats.

President Vladimir Putin approved a new military doctrine Friday outlining the threat Russia says is posed by NATO’s expansion and military buildup closer to its border. NATO has boosted its military presence in Eastern Europe this year due to Russia’s support for insurgents in eastern Ukraine; the Kremlin says the western allies’ heightened activity in and near East Europe is a “violation of international law.”

Sources familiar with the text of Putin’s new doctrine appears to refer specifically to the United States when it condemns “acts contrary to international law aimed against the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of states.” It says these are threats to “international peace, security, global and regional stability.”

The new doctrine singles out as military threats the West’s new strategic antiballistic missile systems. Russia says these undermine global stability and the nuclear balance of power. The United States and some of its allies have expanded anti-missile systems in recent years, despite Moscow’s objections.

NATO’s reaction

“NATO poses no threat to Russia or to any nation,” an alliance official told VOA.  “Any steps taken by NATO to ensure the security of its members are clearly defensive in nature, proportionate and in compliance with international law.  In fact, it is Russia’s actions, including currently in Ukraine, which are breaking international law and undermining European security.”

NATO reaffirmed that it intends to continue seek a constructive relationship with Russia, “but that is only possible with a Russia that abides by international law and principles – including the right of nations to choose their future freely,” the NATO official said.

Isolated Russia a threat to Baltic states

Karl Altau, managing director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), said that President Putin’s move is more evidence that he continues on the road to entrench and isolate himself and his regime.  “His threats against perceived enemies, particularly NATO, are surely meant to both cow the West and to ramp up chauvinism for an already propaganda-infused domestic audience in the Russian Federation,” he said.

Russia’s entrenchment is both worrisome and dangerous for Russia’s neighbors, such as the Baltic countries, Altau said. “The Baltics, and all other Central and Eastern European countries, were absolutely correct in sensing that perhaps one day, a revanchist Moscow would be back [after the collapse of the Soviet Union].”

Putin’s intransigence and aggressive military maneuvering stretch well beyond Europe, reaching as far as the Caribbean, Arctic, and the U.S. West Coast, Altau said, referring to months of increasingly far-ranging military “training” exercises that have sent Russian bombers on missions many thousands of kilometers from their home bases. “Russia’s new doctrinal willingness to consider a broad use of nuclear weapons – whether in retaliation or in the case of aggression or even as a deterrent is a new and unprecedented danger ,” the Baltic analyst said.

Political rights in Russia

Eric Shiraev is professor of international relations and political psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and the author of several publications on U.S.-Russian relations. He says Putin’s new military doctrine has been almost three years in the making and is not astonishingly new. Overall, the doctrine claims that there is a diminished threat of global nuclear war, but it states that Russia faces increased threats from other conflicts.

“Any strong government is supposed to put together quite articulate and quite precise military doctrine, but on the other hand, we know that this would be difficult to implement,” Shiraev said.

The doctrine also suggests the existence of internal threats in Russia. “This is a little bit worrying, because the government officials will consider this as another signal to tighten up the pressure on and limit the political rights in Russia,” the scholar said.

Timing of the new doctrine

Although the revised Russian military doctrine may have been yeqars in the making, veteran observers of Russia are tasking note of the decision to issue it now.

President Putin signed the revised military doctrine almost one year after conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine, which followed protests in Kyiv that forced the country’s president, an ally of Moscow, into exle in Russia. Since then, Russia has annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, and Russian-backed separatists have battled Ukrainian government troops in the country’s east.

Ukraine’s pro-Western parliament overwhelmingly passed a law on Tuesday abolishing Kyiv’s neutral, non-aligned status, a step some Ukrainians hope will lead to European Union and NATO membership.

Moscow was quick to react, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the forefront, calling the law “counterproductive.”

NATO has boosted its military presence in Eastern Europe this year due to Russia’s support for insurgents in eastern Ukraine, but Moscow has continuously denied it actively supports the rebellion.