Defence News

U.S. Navy provides high-energy laser weapon system test details – Defence Blog

The U.S. Navy released a statement and detailed the ongoing test of the newest high-energy laser weapon system on board of Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27).

The details were given in a 22 May media release, to announce that USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0.

LWSD is a high-energy laser weapon system demonstrator developed by the Office of Naval Research and installed on Portland for an at-sea demonstration. LWSD’s operational employment on a Pacific Fleet ship is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser. The laser system was developed by Northrup Grumman, with full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by NSWC Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.

At the announcement, Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland said “By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats.”

The U.S. Navy has been developing directed-energy weapons (DEWs), to include lasers, since the 1960s. DEWs are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing it on a target, resulting in physical damage that degrades, neutralizes, defeats, or destroys an adversarial capability.

Navy ships face an increasing number of threats in conducting their missions, including UAVs, armed small boats, and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. The Navy’s development of DEWs like the LWSD, provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options.

“The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems, “ said Sanders. “With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”

Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. While it is the third ship to bear the name ‘USS Portland,’ it is the first ship to be named solely after the largest city in Oregon.

As The WarZone previously reported, Northrop Grumman developed the LWSD Mk 2 Mod 0 for the Navy as part of the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program and delivered it to San Diego for installation on Portland in late 2019, something The War Zone was also first to report. The service had announced that the San Antonio class ship would be the first to carry this laser weapon back in 2018 and had originally planned to conduct the first at-sea tests by the end of September 2019.

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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps releases details of largest infantry weapons modernization effort – Defence Blog

As the U.S. Marine Corps continues to increase the lethality of the infantry squad, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons has begun the largest modernization effort in decades.

According to a recent service news release, Program Manager for Infantry Weapons (PM IW) strives to equip and sustain the Marine Corps with fully-integrated infantry weapons, optics and nonlethal systems for the Ground Combat Element.

The portfolio’s modernization efforts adhere to Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision to redesign the force to meet the challenges of a new age of great power competition. Through PM IW, the Corps plans to field numerous new weapon and optic systems over the next decade.

“This is the largest modernization of the infantry squad in the last 25 years,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, MCSC’s program manager for Infantry Weapons.

As noted by the Marine Corps Systems Command, PM IW has begun the procurement of the Modular Handgun System, which will replace all Marine Corps pistols. This striker-fired pistol includes a plastic clip-on piece, enabling Marines to change grip sizes to accommodate different hand sizes. The weapon is compatible with the pistol-aiming module used by some units.

MCSC will begin fielding the system this fiscal year.

“The MHS improves on the precision and reliability of the legacy platforms, while also bringing with it new, more effective ammunition,” said Maj. Mike Brisker, weapons product manager for PM IW.

MCSC is expanding the use of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Originally fielded to infantry units as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in 2011, the rifle received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Marines. This feedback led to the Marine Corps’ decision to field the M27 to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.

“We expect fielding of [the M27] to conclude by the end of this fiscal year,” said Brisker.

PM IW is also enhancing its optic systems. Fielded in spring 2020, the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle is a helmet-mounted system that offers improved depth perception, and the ability to detect and recognize targets in extreme low light, in inclement weather and in the presence of obscurants. The SBNVG provides additional capabilities that the legacy system, the AN/PVS-14, lacked.

Since awarding a contract in February 2020, PM IW plans to begin fielding the Squad Common Optic in fiscal year 2021. The SCO includes a magnified day optic, which improves situational awareness, decreases engagement times and increases probability of hit.

“The Squad Common Optic enables Marines to see farther and identify the enemy more quickly,” said Hough.

MCSC is collaborating with other services to field certain systems. For example, the Marine Corps will partner with the Army to procure the Next-Generation Squad Weapon system, intended to replace the M27 and become the primary individual weapon for infantry units.

The NGSW will provide a significant boost to the lethality of the individual soldier and Marine. The weapon includes an optic/fire control system that will incorporate a disturbed reticle to improve the shooter’s accuracy.
The Marine Corps could receive first deliveries of the NGSW as early as fiscal year 2025, said Brisker.

Additionally, PM IW and Fleet Marines are participating in the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision-Binocular programs to help inform requirements and programmatic decisions in the future.

PM IW’s modernization efforts mirror MCSC’s mission to increase lethality among Marines. The command is continuously striving to equip Marines with the capabilities needed to successfully fulfill missions. To meet this goal, PM IW will continue to solicit feedback from Marines and industry.

“In line with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, we’re looking to lighten the load and increase the overall lethality of Close Combat Forces—specifically infantry Marines,” said CW4 David Tomlinson, an infantry weapons officer with PM IW.

Tomlinson believes upgrading Infantry Weapon systems will ultimately enhance performance on the battlefield and increase survivability at a time when enemies are strengthening.

“These efforts show we are focused on staying abreast of advancements that are coming quickly,” said Tomlinson. “It also shows our desire to stay persistent, look toward the future, and make sure our Marines receive the best [systems] we can buy.”

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News RT

Details of Abdulmanap Nurmagedov’s health reported in Russia — RT Sport News

Details have emerged on the health of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, father and trainer of UFC lightweight champion Khabib and who on Thursday woke from a coma, with reports revealing he suffered a heart attack brought on by Covid-19.

On Thursday, it was reported the renowned martial arts trainer had regained consciousness after entering into a medically-induced coma the previous day following heart surgery, but that he remained in a ‘serious but stable’ condition in a Moscow military hospital.

It was later revealed that upon arrival at the hospital from his native Dagestan, the 57-year-old was diagnosed with Covid-19 infection, which in turn brought on the attack, according to the Telegram channel ‘Baza’.

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Khabib’s father & trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov WAKES from coma following heart surgery

Abdulmanap initially fell ill in his Makhachkala hometown in Russia’s Republic of Dagestan on April 24, having to be persuaded by family members to visit a doctor, and was later diagnosed with suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms.

Despite warnings from doctors, who prescribed him a strict course of treatment, Abdulmanap continued to go about his daily physical workout regime. He also refused to undergo testing for coronavirus.

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‘Praying for his recovery’: McGregor puts Khabib feud aside with message of support after news father Abdulmanap is in coma

After his condition worsened, Abdulmanap was sent by his family to a hospital in the Russian capital, despite his own wishes to remain in Makhachkala, although the facility was not equipped with extracorporeal life support which provides cardiac and respiratory assistance to those whose heart and lungs are not adequately working.

Abdulmanap suffered the heart attack on May 3, after which his condition drastically deteriorated, forcing doctors to perform heart surgery and connect the Nurmagomedov family patriarch to a life support apparatus and enter him into a coma.

Nurmagomedov family friend Ramazan Rabadanov explained that despite regaining consciousness, Abdulmanap is yet to speak following the operation. Doctors described his condition as ‘serious but stable’.

“He regained consciousness today. He hasn’t yet spoken. Yesterday [Wednesday] he was in a coma after a heart operation,” Rabadanov said, talking to 360 TV.

A number of high-profile names in the combat sports world expressed their support for the father of the UFC’s 155lbs champion, including UFC head honcho Dana White who paid tribute to a “true martial artist who lives a life of pride, honor and respect.”

There was also an unexpected show of support and humility from his son’s former foe Conor McGregor, who said he was “praying” for his recovery.

“Praying for the recovery of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. A man responsible for more World champions, across multiple fighting disciplines, than we even know,” ‘The Notorious’ tweeted.

“A true martial genius! Very saddened upon hearing this news tonight. Praying for the Nurmagomedov family at this time,” he added.

The Irishman lost via fourth-round submission to Khabib in Las Vegas in October 2018 for the UFC lightweight title. In the lead up to that fight McGregor engaged in a vicious war of words with the Russian in which he repeatedly made reference to his father and family.

In Russia, a total 252,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported, which has led to a 2,305 confirmed deaths from the disease.

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News Sputnik

Indian Markets Nervously Await Details of $266 Bln COVID Stimulus, Sensex Sheds Opening Gains


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New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian markets have fallen from their February levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From levels of over 41,000 in February, the benchmark index Sensex has fallen to its current level of 32,000. The health emergency declared due to the virus has led to a national lockdown which has lasted since 25 March.  

Indian markets on Wednesday gave a thumbs down to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s $266 billion COVID stimulus package to the Indian economy.

After opening strongly, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-share sensitive index, Sensex, slipped in early trading on Wednesday. Sensex opened at 32,841 on Wednesday, up by at least 1470 points. However, it soon lost all gains, shedding 771 points to currently trade at the 32,074 level.

Despite the mega boost announced by Prime Minister Modi, market participants blame the choppiness on uncertainty over the xoronavirus. Some traders also referred to fiscal deficit concerns, with sovereign ratings weighing over the indices.

While Modi announced the package on Tuesday night without divulging any details, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. (IST) later in the day to reveal more information about the stimulus.

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News Sputnik

New Video With Details of Ahmaud Arbery Case Emerges, State Attorney General to Look Into Killing


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Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead in February in the state of Georgia by two men, a father and son, who are now arrested and charged with his murder. The case received public attention after a video of the shooting emerged on social media, quickly resulting in a massive call for justice.

New video footage has emerged in the case of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed in February. Security video in the area revealed the killing which was later posted to social media. Investigators are using the video recordings to piece together a timeline of the crime.

The video shows a young man looking into a house under construction who looks similar to Arbery. It is not clear what exactly what he did on the construction cite. He departs in several minutes, jogging up the street and is then followed by two police cars heading in the same direction.

The video is from a security camera installed on a building about a block away from where the shooting took place.

A review of the video has bolstered the charges against the two men who shot Arbery, as the footage does not reveal any wrongdoing, lawyers for Arbery’s family said.

“Ahmaud Arbery did not take part in any felony, had no illegal substances in his system, was not armed yet was shot three times with a shotgun at close range”, the lawyers detailed.

Amid public outcry following the release of the initial video of the shooting, Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr tweeted that he would investigate how the murder probe was handled at the local level, noting that people “deserve answers” 

​Although the shooting took place 23 February, the death received wide public attention after video of the murder appeared in social media, immediately going viral and causing waves of rage as some believe the killings were racially motivated. The video showed two men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, shooting Arbery while he jogged past their car. During the shooting, three shots are heard, as Arbery tries to walk away and then collapses nearby. After the video emerged online, the gunmen were arrested and charged with murder.

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News RT

Russian MMA fighter details threats after releasing Khabib diss track — RT Sport News

Russian MMA fighter Dmitry ‘Anubis’ Kuznetsov has revealed scorned fans threatened he would receive “a bullet in the head” in response to releasing a diss track titled ‘Hypocrisy King,’ aimed at UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Kuznetsov released the rap song in a dig at Khabib in April, and later took to Instagram to claim he had been attacked by fans furious at the track’s disrespect toward the UFC lightweight champion.

In an interview with RT, Kuznetsov detailed the torrent of abuse he has faced in the aftermath, including death threats and physical beatings, which he says are forcing him to move.

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Russian MMA fighter ‘ATTACKED’ after releasing diss track ‘Hypocrisy King’ aimed at Khabib Nurmagomedov

You said that you planned to move. Has this taken place yet?

Not yet. But it soon will. 

Is the move connected with the attacks on you?

That’s the reason. People already more or less know where I live, they know my car’s license plate number. At this stage of the situation moving is the only option.

Do you think the situation will get worse?

I’m sure it will. The messages and threats continue to come, apart from a new trend that has emerged. They’ve started to accuse me of being gay, faking chats in which I allegedly confirm that.

Do you fear for your life?

It’s hard to say anything about that. People are different, they can be really unpleasant. Some wrote that this story has only one outcome – that I will get a bullet in the head.

It’s strange that not only Khabib’s fans write to me, but outsiders too.

Coming back to the last time you were attacked. Can you tell us in detail what exactly happened?

I was driving to the shop late at night. After which I needed to meet a friend. Before turning I reduced my speed, and at that moment bricks came flying at the windscreen and the right-hand-side door. There were people standing on the left, so I turned right and stopped.

What was it?

One guy was hitting the right side glass with a tire iron, four others with their fists on the left. They were screaming ‘get out!’. At that moment I was filled with emotion; the car isn’t mine, I share it with my dad.

I came out of the car but didn’t manage to do anything, scarcely landing a couple of punches. They attacked me from behind, beat me to the ground, dragged me along the concrete. I tried to fight them off, kick out, but it was futile.

When did it all end?

They ran off only when they saw another car approaching. Although it came from the other side.

Did they shout anything, when they were beating you?

They said: “apologize” and “answer for your words,” things of that nature. In general, there was no real dialogue. It was just swearing and threats. 

You announced that after the clip they accused you of fascism. What exactly do you think could be the reason for such accusations?

I don’t know. It’s possible that the fact is I speak the truth. People cannot answer in a reasonable manner, and so they start to make up other things. Initially they called me a fascist, they said that I propagate homosexuality in Russia. 

Where has that come from?

Maybe it’s because of my haircut. There were many comments on the subject of my image. In my view, some people are limited in their vocabulary and they don’t have anything else to say. Now I’m not instigating anything, but rather those who send insults to me.

Did you not want to offend people from the Caucasus with this clip?

Of course not.

Why did you decide to release this clip?

It is my artistic approach to solving a problem in Russian MMA. I am sure that in the future it will help make MMA fans more loyal, more rational, and mainly tactical. That will lead to an increase in the number of spectators and fans, because this sport will no longer be considered barbaric.

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Khabib’s father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov ‘transferred to Moscow hospital with heart problems on special flight’ – reports

Many now believe that your main aim is to get famous off the back of Khabib.

That’s not the point. But who else can I write about if attention is fixed mainly on him? About those people who have no influence over Russian MMA? I could write about Jon Jones, who makes the same old mistakes again and again. But here it doesn’t worry anyone. 

Do you think the reaction in that situation would be the same?

I am certain that none of the fans of Jones, nor McGregor, would begin writing to me. It’s all about how you react. You need to accept criticism. You can passionately discuss something, but to send death threats and rape threats – it’s not right. 

Why is the clip called ‘Hypocrisy King’?

Because of the double standards. For instance, in Nurmagomedov’s team they judge McGregor, but behave themselves in the same way. They say one thing and then do another. 

Right now you don’t regret that you released the clip?

No. I understood that it would be difficult for me. People say that I made a big mistake. But I think that this way I showed the environment in Russian MMA.

Do you not think that a lot of people were hostile to your clip because they don’t really accept trash talk in Russia?

That’s the problem. Maybe it’s not the norm here, but people follow closely when there is trash talk, elements of a show, a story. It is like a TV series or a film. People want to see something more than a fight.

What feedback did you get?

Many supported me, they liked what I’m doing. But there were a lot of negatives. Even among fighters they called me a douchebag, and said that men don’t behave that way. That I need to just quietly and calmly go about my business. But I’m of a different opinion. I try to show that MMA is intriguing and attractive. Look at the tournaments in Japan – it is more like theater. 

Do you not think that the negative reactions might be because Khabib is an unbeaten UFC champion and Kuznetsov is a fighter in a less prestigious promotions, with a record of 11-6?

Yes, people think that a person doesn’t have the right to speak out on some subjects if he hasn’t achieved great success. But then again they actively judge the authorities, diverse organizations and groups. 

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‘This is coronatime… when Khabibtime comes I’ll smash all of them’ – Khabib signals he’s ready for early octagon comeback

How do you react to that?

I think it’s a huge misunderstanding. I don’t understand why I don’t have the right to say anything about him if I have six defeats. 

Have you personally met Khabib?

No, never. Many people write to me “Why don’t you say it to his face?” I think that it isn’t necessary to know someone personally to have an opinion on them. I wouldn’t call him an insufferable personality. But there are moments that show who he is in reality.

When did you begin to follow him?

In actual fact, I’ve not been in MMA long. But from 2014 I started to follow Khabib. I really liked him as a fighter. Maybe his fights can seem boring sometimes, but he is effective. He won, didn’t say much, acted very dignified. 

Judging by what is in the clip, you started to dislike Khabib quite some time ago.  When did this start?

When McGregor got the fight with Eddie Alvarez. At that moment they used Khabib to make Conor agree to fight for less. After that Khabib began to trash talk and so did his teammates to get under the Irishman’s skin. They called him something like ‘McChicken’. 

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Daily Beast News

Kushner Details His Wild Idea to Use Russia’s Secret Comms

The president’s son-in-law and top aide, Jared Kushner, suggested having Trump’s future national security adviser use secure communications at the Russian embassy to communicate with Russian generals, according to newly released transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee. 

The suggestion, made during a December 2016 meeting with Michael Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, was ultimately nixed by the Russian ambassador, according to Kushner. 

Kushner’s proposed back-channel with the Kremlin has been widely reported, but this is the first detailed, on-the-record account by him of the incident. The Washington Post reported in May 2017 that Kislyak relayed the proposal to his superiors in Moscow at the time. 

Kushner framed the proposal as an innocuous way to develop closer cooperation with Russia in Syria, saying the Russian ambassador had lamented to him shortly after Trump’s 2016 electoral win that the Russians believed “America’s strategy in Syria was a little bit misguided.”

During a meeting with Flynn and Kislyak, Kushner said, the ambassador “suggested that—that—that there—that they would like to give us, you know, their military’s perspective on it, asked if there was a secure way to do so.” 

Knowing there was no secure line in the transition office in New York, he said, “I said, look, can we use your communication? … He said, no, we shouldn’t do that.” 

“Then we moved on and decided that if there was not a way that they were comfortable relaying to us that information, then we’d wait until after we were—after inauguration and do it through the normal course,” Kushner said. 

“He had information he wanted to give us. They couldn’t find a way to get that information. I suggested an idea, which we all then concluded was not a good idea. There’s nothing wrong with giving an idea that is wrong, because, you know, if you do something that’s wrong, then that’s something that you have to look at,” he said. 

Kushner claimed there was nothing nefarious about his proposal. He was merely being a “business guy,” he told investigators. “I wasn’t proposing it one way or the other. I was — we were — you know, what you do in meetings when you’re trying to solve a problem is you brainstorm situations, so people throw out different ideas.” 

Asked who the Trump team wanted to prevent from hearing the communications, he shrugged off a suggestion that it could have been the U.S. administration.

 “It could have been to keep it from the Chinese. It could have been to keep it from anyone else who listens to the calls,” he said. Kushner added he had no evidence to support such a supposition.

He denied that the proposal was intended to allow “nefarious hidden conversations” and claimed he’d only suggested using a Russian facility for the communications because he knew of no other way. 

“I assume that, if we had a way—if we had something that was available to us that General Flynn knew of, he would have said: Well, I have this suggestion for something that’s available to us that I know of to be able to get the information. Since he didn’t have a way to get the information that he knew of, I wasn’t going to ask the Russian Ambassador if he knew of anything in our government that was appropriate for him to transmit the information to.”

A 2015 agreement between Moscow and Washington did establish a communication channel —the so-called “deconfliction channel”—between the two sides on the ground in Syria, however, a fact which it seems Flynn should have been aware of at the time. 

Kushner’s outreach to Russian officials also apparently did not end with his proposed back-channel. According to the transcripts, he also met with the chairman of a U.S.-sanctioned Russian bank at Kislyak’s initiative in December 2016. 

“I mean, it’s funny, people asked me after, they said, did you know his bank was under sanctions?” Kushner told investigators of his meeting with Sergey Gorkov of Vnesheconombank. 

Kislyak had promised that Gorkov could provide “much more insight into what Putin’s thoughts were on a potential new relationship,” Kushner said. 

He said the topic of U.S. sanctions never came up, and that after talking to Gorkov, “you would have thought his bank was the best bank in the world.”

“So he was clearly selling what a great job they were doing. And I think he mentioned that they financed the Olympics, and that was really the extent of it.”

Flynn, who President Trump on Thursday praised as a “warrior,” baffled some Pentagon officials during his brief reign as national security adviser with his push to expand military communications with Russia in Syria. As The Daily Beast previously reported, Flynn raised eyebrows among some officials with a proposal to team up with Russia in Syria in a way that would actually likely violate defense provisions that bar such close cooperation. 

The transcripts detailing Kusher’s own admissions on the proposed backchannel were released on the same day the Department of Justice sparked outrage by moving to drop the case against Flynn

While both Kushner and the White House have downplayed the significance of the 2016 back-channel proposal with Russia, it was not the only time that Team Trump tried to bypass traditional communication channels for interactions with Russian officials. 

Trumpworld insider and Blackwater founder Erik Prince similarly tried to set up an alternate channel during an early 2017 meeting with the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. Prince claimed that the two just happened to meet, one of several patently untrue statements about the get-together. The House Intelligence Committee referred Prince to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution last year. 

Kushner, for his part, told the committee he had “no knowledge” of any such meetings.

— Noah Shachtman contributed reporting

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News Popular Resistance

More Details Emerge Of The Mercenary Military Coup Plot In Venezuela, Showing US-Guaido Involvement

More Details Emerge Of The Mercenary Military Coup Plot In Venezuela, Showing US-Guaido Involvement

More Details Emerge Of The Mercenary Military Coup Plot In Venezuela, Showing US-Guaido Involvement2020-05-07PopularResistance.Org

Above: Venezuelan coup plotters under arrest. Washington and the Venezuelan opposition both knew about this botched, clumsy coup attempt. Image from VTV

We said from the very beginning that the Venezuelan opposition and the US administration were responsible for the attempted mercenary coup foiled in Venezuela on 3 May. As days go by, more details emerge which confirm that assessment.

Venezuelan coup plotter, former US special forces soldier Luke Denman on VTV after being arrested.

Yesterday, 6 May, Venezuela announced the arrest of more members of the mercenary expeditionary force that was to carry out the coup. In a press conference with the attendance of the international media, president Maduro gave more details about the attempted coup. During the press conference, Maduro showed a video clip featuring US mercenary and former Special Forces soldier Luke Denman: one of two US mercenaries arrested as part of the mercenary force.

A key aspect of this saga is the contract signed by Guaidó and his representatives with US mercenary agency Silvercorp USA, headed by former Special Forces soldier Jordan Goudreau. The contract was for carrying out a military coup, as well as capturing Maduro and other high-ranking Venezuelan officials and handing them over to the US.

The first one to mention the contract was Cliver Alcalá Cordones: a former Venezuelan officer who was based in Colombia when he issued a video statement citing it. Alcalá was part of the same military coup attempt to be carried out by mercenaries being trained in camps in Colombia by US mercenaries. When the Colombian police seized a cache of weapons on 24 March, destined for these camps, Alcalá’s position became very fragile. In order to protect himself, he released a video explaining the role played in the plot by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He then handed himself over to the authorities and was taken by the DEA to the US where he has been indicted on charges of narcotrafficking. He has probably cut himself a deal in which he will testify against president Maduro and other Venezuelan officials.

In his video statement, Luke Denman confirmed the existence of the training camps in Colombia, and gave their precise location in Rioacha, on the Caribbean coast, less than 100km from the Venezuelan border in Zulia.

Opposition and Washington implicated

The existence of the contract was also confirmed by Jordan Goudreau, head of Silvercorp, on Monday, as the operation was floundering. He showed several pages from the main document, which had the signatures of himself for Silvercorp, of Venezuelan reactionary lobbyist JJ. Rendón, Venezuelan lawmaker Sergio Vergara and Juan Guaidó, as well as that of Miguel J. Retureta, a reactionary Cuban-American lawyer who specializes in defending narco-traffickers (including the son of Honduran former dictator Lobo, and the brother of Honduran illegitimate president Juan Orlando Hernandez).

After a while, Juan Guaidó and his spokespersons declared that the contract was false and that he had never signed one. However, now JJ. Rendón has admitted in an interview on CNN that the contract exists and that he signed it. Although he says Juan Guaidó never signed the contract, the fact remains that Rendón and Vergara did and they were acting on behalf of Guaidó, who had appointed Rendón as the head of a “Strategic Planning Committee” to deal with, precisely, the organization of plots to remove Maduro from power. Rendón repeated his version of the Washington Post, adding that he paid Goudreau $50,000 for expenses, from his own pocket.

Although Rendón tries to play down the meaning of the contract, which he describes as a “test” of what was possible, the contract itself is very specific and talks about “An operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolás Maduro… remove the current Regime and install the recognized Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó.”

Rendón claims that, after signing the contract, they got cold feet and started to doubt the ability of Goudreau to carry out the plan, so they broke the agreement at a meeting in his Miami apartment on 11 November. Even if you believe this version of the story, the fact remains that the Venezuelan opposition did sign a contract with a mercenary agency to carry out a coup and that if they broke the contract, this was only because they were not sure this group of mercenaries was capable of carrying it out!

There is no doubt that Guaidó was fully aware of the contract and in fact, Goudreau has provided an audio recording of a conversation with Guaidó, which the Washington Post accepts as veridic.

The WP story also confirms that Goudreau had been in touch with Schiller, the long-time Trump bodyguard, something which was already known. Furthermore, Goudreau boasted that he had worked security for Trump at several rallies. There are pictures of Goudreau doing that at a Trump rally in Charlotte on 28 October 2018:

Goudreau and his Silvercorp mercenary agency were in charge of security at the so-called “humanitarian aid” concert in Cúcuta, Colombia, in February 2019, organized and attended by Guaidó. That’s where Goudreau made contact with several deserters from the Venezuelan army who had been encouraged by Guaidó to cross the border. It is possible that he got the job at the concert as a result of his links with Schiller and his security agency.

A separate report by AP gives other significant details. First, it links the weapons cache seized by the Colombian police in March to Goudreau: “The stockpile, worth around $150,000, included spotting scopes, night vision goggles, two-way radios and 26 American-made assault rifles with the serial numbers rubbed off.” Part of the equipment was sold by High-End Defense Solutions, based in Miami. According to AP, this is “the same company that Goudreau visited in November and December, allegedly to source weapons, according to two former Venezuelan soldiers who claim to have helped the American select the gear.”

Second, AP quotes “two former law enforcement officers” who claim that “an informant approached the Drug Enforcement Administration in Colombia prior to the weapons’ seizure with an unsubstantiated tip about Goudreau’s alleged involvement in weapons smuggling.”

So, here you have it, in black and white: the DEA knew, at least in March or perhaps earlier, that Goudreau was smuggling weapons to Colombia. What did they do about it? According to the former agents quoted by AP: “The anti-narcotics agency, not knowing who Goudreau was at the time, didn’t open a formal probe.” We find this difficult to believe. In fact, the same AP report adds a few sentences later: “One of the officials said the information was later passed on to the Department of Homeland Security.” This is confirmation that the US administration knew Goudreau was smuggling weapons to Colombia. It is very difficult to believe that they did not look deeper into it.

There is another aspect of this whole story, which has not been fully discussed. Alcalá Cordones gave himself up to the Colombian police and the DEA at the end of March. Did they not ask him about the Venezuelan mercenary training camps he talked about in a videotape? Did they not investigate this further? Again, this is very difficult to believe. Both the US and Colombian authorities must have known what was happening under their own noses. They are reactionary, sometimes clumsy, but not completely stupid.

Third, the AP story adds further detail to the plot. According to AP’s sources: “Silvercorp in December bought a 41-foot fiberglass boat, Florida vessel registration records show, and proceeded in February to obtain a license to install maritime navigation equipment. On his application to the Federal Communications Commission, he said the boat would travel to foreign ports.”

The same sources then mention that the mercenary agency’s boat was seen in Jamaica, “where Goudreau had gathered with a few of his special forces buddies looking to participate in the raid” but that “as they were readying their assault, the boat broke down at sea on 28 March and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon was activated, alerting naval authorities on the island of Curacao. Goudreau had to return to Florida, prevented from rejoining his troops prior to the landing because of travel restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

This story about Jamaica shows the haphazard nature of this mercenary gang, which seems to have been inspired by watching Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan series. But it also confirms a separate report about Jamaica published by website in the US: “A U.S. military source who also spoke to Connecting Vets on the condition of anonymity said that the CIA had caught wind of the coup plot in Jamaica and warned Silvercorp not to go through with it on numerous occasions.” Whatever you want to make of the claim that the CIA had tried to stop them from going ahead, the salient point is that this would indicate that the CIA knew about the plot. Perhaps seeing how badly organized they were, they tried to convince them not to go ahead. Whatever the case, the CIA knew and did nothing to actually stop them, other than, perhaps, trying to talk them out of it over a few beers.

Guaidó knew

All of the above is conclusive evidence that Guaidó was fully aware and part of this plot, even if he might have withdrawn from it at the last minute. The Venezuelan opposition is fraught with factionalism and power struggles between different cliques. It is quite possible that this played a role in the unraveling of this operation, which was infiltrated by the Venezuelan government. Venezuelan communication minister Jorge Rodriguez claimed that there had been a power struggle within the mercenary coup plot between Alcalá Cordones and Ivan Simonovis (a former police officer who was arrested for his part in the April 2002 coup against Chavez and then released from jail by Guaidó’s failed coup on 30 April 2019).

The US government has insisted, in statements by Trump and Mike Pompeo, that it was not involved in the coup. Of course, this is the old story. When you get involved in a foreign military adventure, you always need to have deniability. If the plot works out, then you reveal publicly your role and claim the credit. If it fails, then you deny any knowledge of it.

However, if you listen carefully to Pompeo’s denial, you are able to come closer to the truth. What he actually said was that the US had had “no direct involvement”, which obviously means that they knew and were involved indirectly. He boasts that if Washington had been involved “things would have turned out differently”, and then when asked about what they know about the funding of the operation, he hints that they know and that information will be revealed in due course. This is a clear admission that the US government had prior knowledge of this plot and did nothing to stop it nor to warn the Venezuelan government about it.

Scandalously, Pompeo says the US government will use all tools available to get the two arrested US mercenaries back but does not offer a word of condemnation of the attempt. We are talking here about a group of mercenaries attempting a coup in a sovereign country, trained and organized by a US mercenary agency, but Pompeo does not think it is necessary to say that his government “rejects such methods” or words to that effect. In fact, the US government does not reject such methods, it has used them many times in the past and he is clear in saying that in fact what he regrets is that the plot has failed, “if we had been involved it would have turned out differently”.

Of course, when the US Justice Department offers a $15 million reward for “information leading to the capture of Nicolás Maduro,” you do expect someone will try and claim the ransom. That’s the aim of offering a bounty.

It is also worth noting that none of the 50-odd governments around the world that recognized Guaidó as “president” have uttered a word of condemnation of this plot, nor Guaidó’s part in it. So much for “the restoration of democracy” that they talked about.

The Washington Post has also published the attachments to the contract: a very illuminating 41-page document, which the Post says “was provided by Venezuelan opposition officials.” This confirms the veracity of the document and the Venezuelan opposition’s official involvement in the plot.

The document is extremely detailed and goes into all the different aspects of the planned mercenary coup. The aim of the contract is clear: to remove Maduro from power and install Guaidó:

The initial phase of the project is said to cost $50 million and the total project on completion $212 million.

The contract goes into all sorts of details about payment schedules, recovery of assets, targets that should be taken out, collateral damage, crowd control techniques (including the use of lethal force), damage to infrastructure, etc. There is a section about insurance for the “members of the task force” in case they are killed or maimed in carrying out their murderous activities. There is even a section about “property rights”, as if there was something unique about this military coup! Bizarrely, the contract includes an equal rights clause:

It is always to be commended that mercenaries carrying out a military coup have such concern for inclusiveness! How touching… I am sure Venezuelan workers and peasants would really appreciate being shot dead by a “diverse and inclusive project team.” The only thing that seems to be missing is the provision of labor and trade union rights for the mercenaries!

At the end of the contract, however, there is a bit that has been redacted on instructions of the Venezuelan opposition officials who gave the document to the Washington Post:

This is very significant. The redacted part is in the section dealing with the chain of command. That section includes “President Juan Guaidó” as “Commander in Chief” (he does like to proclaim himself to hold various offices…), so the redaction cannot be to protect him. The only logical explanation is that the part redacted out makes mention of the role played by the US, through some agent or another appointed to this position.

Once again, it is worth noting that the attachments to the agreement are signed by Sergio Vergara as “High Presidential Commissioner for Crisis Management” on behalf of Gauidó’s “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”:

How Guaidó can still claim to know nothing about the document is beyond belief.

The coup-plotters roam free

Over the next few days and weeks, the full story behind this mercenary attack will come to light and we are certain that it will reveal the responsibility of both Guaidó and his puppet master Trump.

Some, in Venezuela and abroad, including President Maduro, has likened this mercenary attack to the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) disembarkment of counter-revolutionaries in Cuba in 1961. All that needs to be said about that is that Playa Girón marked a turning point in the radicalization of the Cuban Revolution: the general arming of workers and peasants to fight the counter-revolution, the declaration of the socialist character of the revolution, and the beginning of the expropriation of capitalists, landlords, and imperialist property, which would lead within the space of a few months to the abolition of capitalism on the island.

Unfortunately, the course followed by Venezuela’s President Maduro is the opposite: the arrest of revolutionary activists and agrarian revolution fighters, the return of land to the landowners, privatization of nationalized companies, and offers of talks, concessions and national unity to the reactionary coup-plotting opposition and the capitalists. And Guaidó remains free to continue to plot.


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‘Very Near Launch’: Polkadot Founder Gavin Wood Details Network Rollout

The Polkadot network is “very near launch,” founder Gavin Wood told attendees of the Ready Layer One (RL1) virtual conference on Wednesday in a sneak peek of the Ethereum co-founder’s new network.

Wood, who wrote Ethereum’s technical paper in 2014, created Polkadot with the intention of allowing users to send transactions across blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum in what is commonly referred to as making them interoperable.

Like Kusama, Wood told RL1 attendees Polkadot will roll out in five or six stages, beginning with a “chain candidate” launched by the Web3 Foundation. The candidate operates as a de facto genesis block for the network, but under the guidance of Web3 Foundation developers. If the candidate does not meet the team’s requirements during this initial phase, it will be replaced by another, Wood said.

Notably, the network will launch under a Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus algorithm that Wood invented, which will initially give all on-chain authority to the Web3 Foundation, the non-profit behind Polkadot. As such, the Polkadot network will have limited functionality, Wood said.

“It allows us to start the chain without having to have a set of validators already assembled and having to trust in our potentially unfulfilled governance structures to move the chain forward,Wood said.

The PoA structure is not dissimilar to the NEAR protocol, another Ethereum competitor that announced the launch of its mainnet earlier this week. NEAR is likewise rolling out in a heavily restricted form.

Subsequent stages of the Polkadot rollout will issue the network’s DOT tokens to holders and form validators for the planned switch to PoS. This work will be overseen by a “Sudo module,” Wood said, that will govern how the blockchain structure is initially formed. This module will eventually be dissolved, with DOT token holders taking over the network’s governance toward the end of Polkadot’s launch.

The Sudo module and overarching rollout structure are a “staging ground as much as a proposal” for evolving the chain from something that is restricted to something that is permissionless, Wood said.

Watch Wood’s full presentation below:

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News Popular Resistance

New Details Emerge Linking US To Latest Coup Attempt In Venezuela

New Details Emerge Linking US To Latest Coup Attempt In Venezuela

New Details Emerge Linking US To Latest Coup Attempt In Venezuela2020-05-06PopularResistance.Org

Above photo: Security forces patrol near the shore in the port city of La Guaira, Venezuela, May 3, 2020. Matias Delacroix | AP.

There is strong evidence to suggest that both Juan Guaidó and the U.S. government were intimately involved in a botched weekend insurrection.

The government of Venezuela is celebrating after thwarting another foreign-backed coup attempt Sunday, just two days after self-declared another coup attempt by “Interim President” Juan Guaidó ended in total failure. A flotilla of small speed boats filled with up to 300 paramilitary units, sailed from their training ground in Colombia heading for a port near the country’s capital Caracas, from where they were aiming to kickstart an insurrection. They confidently predicted they would be in the Miraflores presidential palace within 96 hours. However, the mission went spectacularly wrong almost immediately, as they were intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy, who reportedly killed at least eight in the fighting at sea, capturing many others.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol appeared on television to inform the public that in the early hours of Sunday, “A maritime invasion was attempted by a group of terrorist mercenaries coming from Colombia with the intent of committing acts of terrorism in the country, assassinating leaders of the revolutionary government, increase the spiral of violence, generate chaos and confusion among the public, and from that, spark a new attempt at a coup d’etat.” Reverol praised the quick response of the armed forces and police in repelling the invasion. “It would seem that the foiled imperialists’ attempts to overthrow the legitimately constituted government led by Nicolas Maduro has pushed them to formulate excessive actions that, without any doubt, deserve the forceful repudiation of our people and the international community,” he concluded.

The American connection

Both Guaidó and the U.S. State Department denied any involvement in the embarrassing affair, the latter releasing a statement reading “The Maduro regime has been consistent in its use of misinformation in order to shift focus from its mismanagement of Venezuela.” On Friday, Guaidó attempted his own coup d’etat, apparently with U.S. input, but it went so poorly that few, even inside Venezuela, noticed.

However, there is extremely strong evidence to suggest that both Guaidó and the U.S. government were intimately involved in the botched insurrection from the start, and it is not clear that Friday’s attempt was distinct from Sunday’s. Firstly, Jordan Goudreau, an ex-Green Beret and the owner of a large private mercenary organization in Florida came forward to reveal that he organized the coup attempt – and he had the receipts to prove it. Goudreau produced a signed $212 million contract drawn up between him and Guaidó, where the Venezuelan would pay his company nearly a quarter-billion dollars for “strategic planning” and “project execution” services. Goudreau said he had also been in contact with the U.S. government. Furthermore, in an interview, one of the captured coup-plotters confirmed that two American citizens have also been detained and that they are connected to President Trump’s security team.

The contract allegedly signed between Juan Guaido and Silvercorp. Photo | @FactoresdePoder via VenezuelaAnalysis

It should also be understood that Goudreau is not a whistleblower. Far from it; he is proud of his actions, despite their failure. “Nothing I’m doing is illegal,” he dubiously asserted, “There are other people in the country who are ready to flip. They just need a catalyst,” he added, just as questionably. His social media accounts show him to be a strong supporter of President Trump and the “Make America Great Again” Movement. The only reason he produced the documents, he revealed, is that Guaidó stiffed him for the money, refusing to pay even a $1.5 million retainer fee. “They kept promising to pay, week after week,” he revealed in an interview with a Spanish-language TV station. This sort of behavior is perhaps not unexpected coming from a politician who promised Mike Pence that he controlled half the Venezuelan military and is widely accused of embezzling over $90 million of U.S. public money. A December poll found him to have a favorability rating of 10 percent and an unfavorability rating of 69 percent. That was before he was removed by his allies from his role of head of the Venezuelan National Assembly and even removed as a member of his own party.

Goudreau’s company, Silvercorp, is a private entity, but could not do what it does across Latin America without the aid of the United States. In recent decades, the practice of regime change has been outsourced from the government itself to semi-private corporations, giving the White House some form of plausible deniability to its operations. National Endowment for Democracy founder Allen Weinstein helpfully explained to The Washington Post what his organization’s role was: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” he said. However, when it comes to Venezuela, the U.S. has been far from successful.

A timeline of incompetence

The weekend’s coup attempts were the latest in a long line of botched U.S.-backed regime change attempts. In 2019, Juan Guaidó tried four times – in January, April and twice in November – to overthrow Maduro and force his way into power, despite never having even run for the nation’s top office. The attempt in April consisted mostly of him posing on a bridge above a military base, insisting to the nation that he had captured it and the armed forces were rebelling against Maduro. The charade became increasingly hard to sustain after state TV began broadcasting from inside the base, revealing how small his group of supporters were. The November coups went so poorly that most Venezuelans did not even realize they had happened. Meanwhile, his co-conspirators from the January event fled to the U.S., where they thought they would be treated as heroes. Instead, they were arrested and incarcerated in an ICE concentration camp for illegally crossing the border, and have remained there ever since.

In 2018, the opposition attempted to assassinate Maduro using a drone bomb while he was giving a public speech. In 2014 and 2017 it unleashed a deadly wave of terror, bombing subway stations, buses, grain stores, pre-schools and universities, and lynching and burning Afro-Venezuelans in the street. This was largely presented as a peaceful protest in Western media. Meanwhile, in 2013 and 2018 they refused to accept their electoral defeats, instead urging their supporters to “vent their anger” on the streets, leading to many deaths. Going further back, in 2001, they attempted to have former President Hugo Chavez sectioned under the mental health clause in the new constitution, claiming he was insane. Throughout this, the United States has provided crucial help, spending hundreds of millions of dollars funding any group opposing the socialists. In recent years it has also inflicted deadly sanctions on the country, responsible for economic collapse and over 100,000 deaths, according to an American UN Special Rapporteur who visited the country. All this in the name of democracy promotion.

“What do you want us to do?” asked one of Sunday’s coup leaders. “It may take five, even ten failed attempts, but we will get rid of this government.” What a strange dictatorship Venezuela is, where world-renowned pro-democracy activists can wage decade-long campaigns of terrorism, assassinations and coups, free to travel the country and the world promoting their cause with virtually no consequences from the tyrannical government.

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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