US F-16 fighter jet crashes into California warehouse!

A warehouse employee recorded a video of the crash site aftermathA warehouse employee recorded a video of the crash site aftermath

An F-16 fighter jet has crashed into a warehouse near a base outside Los Angeles, leaving the pilot and workers on the ground with minor injuries.

The pilot ejected before impact, and the small fire that broke out was quickly suppressed by the building’s sprinkler system.

The US Air Force says five people on the ground were injured. They have not confirmed if ammunition was onboard.

One warehouse worker captured the aftermath in a Facebook post.

“That’s a military airplane in our building,” Jeff Schoffstall said in his mobile phone video.

“So the turbines are spinning, there’s no roof on the building so you’re looking through the roof, the walls are gone,” he continued.

A hole in the warehouse roof was filmed by news helicoptersA hole in the warehouse roof was filmed by news helicopters

The crash happened at about 15:45 local time (23:45 GMT) outside the March Air Reserve Base in Perris.

“It just shook the whole building,” employee Baldur Castro told CBS, adding that one worker had been knocked to the ground.

According to the Air Force Reserve, the jet was based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and was flying a training mission for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The pilot's parachute was located in a nearby fieldThe pilot’s parachute was located in a nearby field

 

Tough Week For Contestants | The Grumpy Man's Guide to ...

“Wrongway Feldman.” (Gilligan’s Island, 1964)

Microsoft employees have demanded the company back out of a deal to provide HoloLens to US Military

A visitor tries a virtual reality (VR) headset Microsoft HoloLens during the Virtuality Paris 2018 show, 8 February 2018HoloLens allows the user to see digital images over real-world backgrounds

At least 50 Microsoft employees have demanded the company back out of a deal with the US military to provide augmented reality technology.

In particular, the group has said the firm’s headset, HoloLens, must not be used to “help people kill”.

In November, Microsoft agreed a $479m (£367m) deal to develop a platform that would involve soldiers using about 100,000 headsets.

“We always appreciate feedback from employees and have many avenues for employee voices to be heard,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

A letter sent around Microsoft on Friday and seen by the BBC has been backed by employees across multiple departments.

“Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the US Army’s ability to cause harm and violence,” it reads.

“We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”

HoloLens, first released to developers in March 2016, allows the wearer to see digital images laid over the real world. Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella is expected to announced HoloLens 2 at an event in Barcelona on Sunday, ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show.

Military concern

The letter demands Microsoft cancel the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) contract, stop developing “any and all” weapons technologies, and draft a public policy statement on the matter.

It also calls for an “independent, external ethics review board” that would oversee compliance with that policy.

The letter was circulated internally at Microsoft on Friday
Image captionThe letter was circulated internally at Microsoft on Friday

It is not the first time that Microsoft employees have spoken out against the firm’s work with government entities.

In June, with the Trump administration mired in controversy over family separations on the US-Mexico border, staff demanded the firm cease providing services to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Mr Nadella eventually denounced the White House’s actions and said Microsoft’s technology was only being used for standard office-related tasks.

‘War profiteers’

With this latest employee rebellion, Microsoft will not have such an easy defence. According to the contract, the goal is to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”.

Microsoft is understood to have outbid rival augmented reality developers, such as Magic Leap.

Microsoft’s president and top lawyer Brad Smith has said employees who are not happy with the nature of the firm’s military work would be allowed to work in other departments. However, in the latest letter, employees said that suggestion was flawed.

“Microsoft fails to inform its engineers on the intent of the software they are building.

“There are many engineers who contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed, believing it would be used to help architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to help teach people how to perform surgery or play the piano, to push the boundaries of gaming, and to connect with the Mars Rover (RIP).

“These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they work on, instead finding themselves implicated as war profiteers.”

Microsoft is not the only company to face internal anger over military work. Last year, Google did not renew a contract to work with the US on Project Maven, an artificial intelligence program in development with the Pentagon.

However, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said his firm would enthusiastically work with the military.

“This is a great country – it needs to be defended,” he said during an on-stage interview.

___

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Putin warns US with new missiles aimed at Western capitals

Moscow will retaliate in kind if US deploys new missiles in Europe, Russian president says as he addresses the nation.

Putin warns US with new missiles aimed at Western capitals
Putin said the US abandoned a key arms control pact to free its hands to build new missiles and shift the blame on Russia [Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters]

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned the United States against deploying new missiles in Europe, threatening to retaliate in kind by targeting Western capitals with his own new weaponry.

Delivering a state of the nation address, Putin said the US abandoned a key arms control pact – the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty – to free its hands to build new missiles and tried to shift the blame for the move on Russia.

Many analysts say abandoning the treaty effectively signalled the start of a new arms race.

The longtime Russian leader warned Washington against deploying any new missiles in Europe following the collapse of the key Cold War-era treaty, saying Moscow would consider it a “serious threat”.

“I’m saying this clearly and openly, Russia will be forced to deploy weapons that can be used… against the decision-making centres that are behind the missile systems which threaten us,” Putin said.

“The capability of such weapons, including the time to reach those centres, will be equivalent to the threats against Russia.”

He did not say what specific new weapons Moscow could deploy, but he reported quick progress on an array of new systems presented a year ago.

The INF deal was signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.

New arms

Putin said the first batch of Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles will be deployed this year.

He added the tests of the new Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile and the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone have been progressing successfully.

The first submarine equipped to carry the Poseidon will be commissioned later this year, Putin reported.

He also announced the coming deployment of the new Zircon hypersonic missile for the Russian navy, saying it’s capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and will have a range of 1,000km.

He said the Zircon programme will not be too costly as the missile has been designed to equip Russia’s existing surface ships and submarines.

While issuing a tough warning to the US, Putin also said Russia still wants friendly relations with Washington and remains open to arms control talks.

“We don’t want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the US,” he said.

The US has accused Russia of breaching the INF treaty by deploying a cruise missile that violates its limits – accusations Moscow rejected.

The INF treaty banned the production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500km to 5,500km.

The intermediate-range weapons were seen as particularly destabilising as they take less time to reach their targets compared with the intercontinental ballistic missiles.

That would leave practically no time for decision-makers, raising the likelihood of a global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning.

‘Unacceptable’ threats

The US State Department said Washington was not developing “exotic new nuclear weapons delivery systems” and repeated its claim that Russia violates the INF treaty while the United States does not.

“President Putin’s remarks are a continuation of Russia’s propaganda effort to avoid responsibility for Russia’s actions in violation of the INF Treaty,” added a State Department spokeswoman on condition of anonymity.

NATO on Wednesday condemned Putin’s “unacceptable” threats.

“Russian statements threatening to target Allies are unacceptable. We call on Russia to focus on returning to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” NATO deputy spokesman, Piers Cazalet, said in a statement.

“NATO is a defensive alliance, which stands ready to defend all members against any threat. We do not want a new arms race, and allies have repeatedly called on Russia to verifiably destroy its intermediate-range missiles.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said several times in recent weeks that the alliance would not deploy any new land-based nuclear weapons in response to the Russian missiles.

Internal audience

Putin’s tough talk on missiles seemed aimed at stirring up patriotic support for the 66-year-old leader, who won re-election last year with more than 76 percent of the vote but has been recently struggling with dropping poll numbers.

A survey by Russia’s independent Levada Centre released in January found his approval rating at 64 percent – a figure many Western leaders could only dream of, but Putin’s lowest in five years.

WATCH

Is a new hypersonic arms race underway?

Most of Wednesday’s speech focused on promises to address poor living standards, a key source of frustration for many Russians nearly 20 years after Putin came to power.

“We cannot wait, the situation must change for the better now,” Putin told assembled legislators from Russia’s lower house State Duma and upper house Federation Council.

“Within this year, [Russians] should feel changes,” he said.

Putin lamented about 19 million Russians were living below the poverty line, saying: “This is too much … The state should help.”

He focused, in particular, on help for Russian families, pointing to a demographic crisis that has seen birth rates fall drastically since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Last year, the government’s statistics agency said the country’s birth rate had fallen by 11 percent in 2017 to the lowest level in a decade.

“The incomes of Russian families should of course rise,” he said, promising new child benefits and lower taxes for larger families.

Javier Solana on possible arms race in Europe: 'I'm very worried'

TALK TO AL JAZEERA

Javier Solana on possible arms race in Europe: ‘I’m very worried’

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

‘Huge mistake’: Fears of arms race as US, Russia suspend INF pact

The US suspended the INF Treaty after accusing Russia of violating the pact with its 9M729 missile system [Yuri Kochetkov/EPA]
The US suspended the INF Treaty after accusing Russia of violating the pact with its 9M729 missile system [Yuri Kochetkov/EPA]

In an escalating standoff over nuclear weapons, Russia and the United States have suspended compliance with the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, prompting fears of a new arms race that analysts and politicians say could push the world “much closer” to a nuclear war.

The long-running dispute between Washington and Moscow came to a head on Friday when US President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the 1987 bilateral treaty with “impunity”, and announced his government was suspending its obligations under the landmark pact.

Pledging to “move forward” with its own military response options, Trump said the US will withdraw from the accord  in six months unless Moscow destroyed land-based missiles allegedly deployed in violation of the treaty.

In a tit-for-tat move on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was also suspending Moscow’s participation in the agreement.

“Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty and we will do the same,” he said in a televised meeting with his defence and foreign ministers.

“They have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly.”

Russia will start work on creating new missiles, including hypersonic weapons, he said, adding that Moscow will not deploy such weapons in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the US does so.

‘Huge mistake’

The reciprocal moves effectively terminate a pact regarded as one of the most important safeguards against nuclear war.

They come amid strained relations between Washington and Moscow over issues including Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and its alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.

Analysts said Trump’s decision to scrap the pact leaves Russia free to shape the military balance in Europe.

The strategic advantages for the US, however, were less clear, they said.

“Nothing good will come out of the US withdrawal,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the non-proliferation programme at the Washington-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“The Trump administration has made a huge mistake – it’s a breakdown of arms control. It’s a breakdown of trust between US and Russia. The US will have problems with its European allies, and it will engage in a new arms race with China as well.”

READ MORE

5 things to know about threatened US-Russia nuclear weapons deal

The INF Treaty was signed following the Euromissile crisis in the late 1970s and 1980s, when the Soviet Union’s mobilising of cruise missiles that could hit most of Europe prompted the US to deploy to the region ballistic missiles that could reach Moscow in 10 minutes.

The pact banned all ground-based missiles with ranges between 500km and 5,500km, ridding Europe of an entire category of destabilising weapons – nearly 3,000 ground-launched intermediate ballistic and cruise missiles were destroyed.

The treaty does not cover air- or sea-launched weapons, and did not include other powers such as China, North KoreaIran and Israel, allowing these countries to grow their stockpile of weapons.

Strategic benefits

Since 2014, US officials have accused Russia of breaching the treaty with its 9M729 missile. Moscow rejects the allegation, saying the missile’s range does not exceed 500km. It also accused the US of violating the treaty with its missile defence systems in Romania and Poland – a claim the US denies.

“Let’s be clear – the Russians were cheating,” said Tom Nichols, a US-based defence analyst. “It was a provocation to menace the Europeans and to see if they could bait the Americans into walking away.”

The US response only showed how “confused” Washington’s nuclear arms policy was, he said.

Observers said most European and NATO countries were unlikely to host any land-based intermediate-range missiles that the US might develop, meaning Washington was pulling out of the deal without any real strategic benefit.

Poland and Romania, scarred by past Soviet occupation, may be more enthusiastic to host such weapons, according to Leo Hoffman at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, but such a move could divide the NATO alliance.

“This is also completely the wrong approach to take,” the Brussels-based campaigner said, “because by arming yourself to the teeth, you make yourself a target”.

The US’ unilateral decision was “jeopardising” Europe’s security, he added.

Carl Bildt, a co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, agreed. The INF Treaty’s demise will allow Russia to deploy its Kalibr cruise missiles with a range of 1,500km from ground launchers, he said in a Twitter post on Friday.

“This would quickly cover all of Europe with an additional threat,” he said.

Carl Bildt

@carlbildt

After demise of INF Treaty Russia can now also deploy its Kaliber cruise missiles with ranges around 1.500 km from ground launchers. This would quickly cover all of Europe with an additional threat. https://twitter.com/Liveuamap/status/1091637014431182848 

Liveuamap

@Liveuamap

Replying to @Liveuamap

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu: After the US withdrawal from the treaty, I propose to use Kaliber missiles with land-based launchers https://russia.liveuamap.com/en/2019/2-february-russian-defense-minister-sergei-shoigu-after-the #Russia

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China’s nuclear missile arsenal

The “real reason” for the US pullout, according to Fitzpatrick, was Washington’s concern over China’s buildup of intermediate-range missiles in the Western Pacific.

China’s inventory contains more than 2,000 ballistic and cruise missiles, approximately 95 percent of which would violate the INF Treaty if Beijing were a signatory, according to US officials. But the INF Treaty prevents the US from placing short and intermediate range missiles on land near China as a deterrent.

However, it was unclear how willing US allies in Asia, such as Japan or South Korea, maybe to host such weapons. So while the US move “sends a signal of concern about China, it comes without any plan or response in place,” said Fitzpatrick. “And I think that’s a big danger.”

For its part, China has appealed to the US and Russia to preserve the treaty, saying the US move “may trigger a series of adverse consequences”.

OPINION

The end of INF: Another nuclear treaty bites the dust

Alexander Gillespie
by Alexander Gillespie

In Moscow, Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian military analyst, said he was concerned about Putin’s order to develop hypersonic ballistic missiles.

“Such a weapon would avoid missile defence systems in Europe and the Middle East. That brings the situation into a higher level, more dangerous … and that would bring nuclear war much closer,” he said.

In Washington, Trump’s political opponents have labelled the president’s INF Treaty move a “disaster” and submitted legislation to bar the US from using a nuclear weapon unless attacked with one first.

Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat senator and presidential hopeful who introduced the No First Use Act, urged the country’s Congress to pass her bill and prevent Trump “from unilaterally starting a nuclear war”.

Elizabeth Warren

@SenWarren

We can hold Russia accountable without tearing up the INF Treaty. Withdrawing won’t make America any safer – it just increases the potential for a new arms race that would make the world even more dangerous.

Elizabeth Warren

@SenWarren

.@realDonaldTrump wants to upgrade our nuclear arsenal AND end decades-old arms control agreements. That’s a recipe for disaster. Congress must immediately pass my bill to prevent him (or any president) from unilaterally starting a nuclear war. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/30/politics/warren-adam-smith-nuclear-weapons/index.html 

1,072 people are talking about this

With the INF Treaty all but gone, all eyes are on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), a 2010 pact that limits the US and Russia to no more than 700 deployed strategic missiles and bombers and no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads.

The treaty expires in two years, but can be extended by up to five years.

“If New START lapses in 2021, no treaties will constrain US and Russian nuclear forces, a break from some 50 years of nuclear arms control between Washington and Moscow,” Steven Pifer, a fellow at Brookings Institute, said in a post on Axios, a US-based news and information website.

“That world invariably will be less stable, less predictable and less secure,” he wrote.

Zaheena Rasheed contributed reporting to this article.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Russia and the United States pull out of a Cold War-era nuclear pact igniting fears of a new arms race.

 

A treaty that has helped keep the world safe from nuclear war appears to be falling apart.

The United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on Friday, accusing Russia of violating it.

Moscow has now followed suit.

President Putin denies breaking the deal and says Russia will start developing new missiles.

Fears are now growing of a new phase in the arms race. Does it make the world a more dangerous place?

Presenter: Martine Dennis

Guests:

Pavel Felgenhauer – Defence and military analyst

Mark Fitzpatrick – Director of the non-proliferation programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Leo Hoffman – Liaison to the EU and NATO at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Source: Al Jazeera News

US military sparks outrage by tweeting about dropping bombs

STRATCOM apologises for ‘bad taste’ joke after tweeting it’s ready to drop something ‘much bigger’ than NY crystal ball.The clip showed a B-2 bomber dropping bombs, followed by explosions on the ground [File: Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press]
The clip showed a B-2 bomber dropping bombs, followed by explosions on the ground [File: Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press]

The US military force that oversees the country’s nuclear arsenal has sparked outrage when it tweeted it was ready to drop something “much, much bigger” than the traditional New Year’s Eve crystal ball in New York and showing a video of an aircraft releasing bombs.

“#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball … if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger,” US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said in a later-deleted message on Twitter, hours before the midnight descent of the illuminated ball in Times Square marking the arrival of the new year.

The post encouraged viewers to watch the video to the end, including footage of bombs and missiles being dropped from a B-2 bomber followed by explosions on the ground.

The tweet prompted criticism by many social media users.

View image on Twitter

Derek Johnson

@derekjGZ

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you @US_Stratcom, the stoic guardians of several thousand nuclear missiles who definitely don’t think raining death and destruction from above is some kind of joke.

ohprogressive@ohprogressive

Unacceptable. war mongers threatening the rest of humanity.

Bryant Watson@bryantwatson

It clearly reflects your values.

War isn’t something to take lightly, in respect to the many vets and civilians murdered because those in command felt something was much bigger than their lives.

Amid the outcry that followed, STRATCOM – whose slogan is “peace is our profession” – then deleted the post and tweeted an apology.

US Strategic Command

@US_Stratcom

Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values. We apologize. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.

“Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values. We apologise. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies,” it said.

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[The United States remains the only country to ever use nuclear weapons against another nation.  Should other nations be afraid?]

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Andrew Bacevich on Mattis & Why We Need to End Our Self-Destructive, Mindless Wars in Middle East

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has announced he will resign at the end of February, in a letter publicly rebuking President Trump’s foreign policy. Mattis resigned one day after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and on the same day that reports emerged that Trump has ordered the withdrawal of about 7,000 troops from Afghanistan. The New York Times reports Mattis is the first prominent Cabinet member to resign in protest over a national security issue in almost 40 years. Much of the Washington establishment expressed shock over Mattis’s resignation. We speak with Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran. He’s the author of several books, including his latest, “Twilight of the American Century.” His other books include “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History” and “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.” He is professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University.