Category Archive: Economy

How Robert De Niro ended up with three passports—should think about another also?

Most people might be surprised to learn that Robert De Niro has more passports than he has Academy Awards.

Come to think of it… most people probably have more passports (one), than they have Academy Awards (zero).

But De Niro has two Oscars: the first for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, and the second for his starring role in Raging Bull.

Yet he has three passports (that we know about).

De Niro was born in New York City, making him automatically a US citizen at birth because of the nationality laws in the United States.

Almost anyone born on US soil becomes a US citizen at birth; the only exception is children born to foreign diplomats who are in the United States on official business.

This law isn’t unique to the United States; nearly every country in the Americas, from Canada to Argentina, plus a few ‘random’ countries like Tanzania, grants citizenship to anyone born there.

So right from day one, De Niro was a US citizen.

But it turns out that De Niro has Italian ancestry as well. And Italy is one of a multitude of countries that grants citizenship to people who can prove their ancestry. (Others include Ireland, Poland, Germany, and a number of other countries in Europe.)

So De Niro was able to obtain an Italian passport back in 2006.

This is really valuable; a European second citizenship gives you the right to live, work, and do business in all 28 European Union countries– like France, Spain, Germany and Sweden. It’s a great Plan B.

Even if you don’t have European ancestors, Spain takes it a step further and allows citizens of former Spanish colonies (most of Latin America) to obtain Spanish citizenship after living in Spain for just two years as a legal resident.

De Niro’s third passport is from the Caribbean island nation of Antigua. Even more specifically, De Niro holds a Diplomatic Passport from Antigua with the title of ‘Special Envoy’.

And because of his diplomatic credentials, De Niro is entitled to a great deal of special privileges and amenities that even movie stars don’t normally receive.

Based on the 1969 United Nations Convention of Special Missions, special envoys like Robert De Niro are eligible to receive tons of travel benefits.

Diplomats always skip the line at airports. And under Article 26 of the convention agreement, it’s illegal for foreign customs officials to search a special envoy’s bags.

Then there’s diplomatic immunity; a special envoy “immunity from the criminal jurisdiction” of the foreign country where he is carrying out his duties. And his residence/office are protected as if they were the soil of a sovereign nation.

And if all that weren’t enough, the 1969 United Nations Convention on Special Missions even includes a host of tax benefits; special envoys are eligible for exemption of income tax, social security tax, and customs duties.

It’s a pretty great deal if you can get it. And apparently if you’re Robert De Niro, you can.

But Antigua is one of a handful of countries with an “economic citizenship” program, which awards citizenship to foreigners who invest a certain sum of money in the country.

For anywhere between $100,000 up to $1 million or more in some countries, you can obtain citizenship. But in most cases you’ll never see that money again, so it’s more of a ‘donation’ than a true ‘investment’.

For people who aren’t eligible for citizenship by ancestry, though, these economic citizenship programs are a fast and easy way to obtain another passport.

There are nearly 200 different countries in the world, so that’s a lot of options for a second passports and citizenship.

And obviously some are much more valuable than others.

My team created a global passport ranking, to systematically assess which passports are best.

We took into account criteria like how many countries a passport gives you visa free access to, and how much of the global GDP, population, and surface area it gives you access to.

15 of the top 20 ranked passports, for example, are from European nations. These all give you visa free entrance into at least 157 countries, which account for 77% of global GDP.

It makes sense why so many people want to obtain a second passport from a European country. Any second citizenship will give you another option for where to live and work– a major component of any solid Plan B.

And the nice thing about European countries is that it’s fairly straightforward to obtain citizenship through another means: legal residency.

Portugal, for example, has one of the lowest barriers to become a legal resident in the country. You have to demonstrate just €14,600 in savings or liquid investments. And after five years of residency you are eligible to apply for naturalization and obtain a passport from Portugal.

Belgium will grant residency if you start or move your business there. And like in Portugal you’ll become eligible to apply for a passport after five years.

Everyone’s situation is different. But there are many excellent options to obtain a European citizenship and a passport if you are lucky enough to have ancestors from Europe or are willing to invest time or money.

You can start with this free in-depth article my team just put together– The Three Ways To Obtain a European Citizenship & Excellent Second Passport.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via:  SovereignMan.com


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Inside the dystopian nightmare of an internet shutdown

Government internet shutdowns around the world are insidious, isolating and on the rise.

On Oct. 1, the Iraqi government pulled the plug on the country’s internet. With no warning, out it went like a light. Ever since, the internet, messaging services and social networks have flickered on and off like faulty bulbs.

This is far from the first internet shutdown Iraq has suffered. But according to Hayder Hamzoz, CEO and founder of the Iraqi Network for Social Media, not since 2003 and the regime of Saddam Hussein has internet censorship been so severe.

In this age of reliance on internet connectivity, the idea of suddenly flicking connectivity off like a switch sounds dystopian. But for many people around the world, it’s increasingly becoming a reality. They might not even realize it’s happening until too late.

First the signal disappears from your phone, so you restart it, take the SIM card out and put it back in again. No joy, so you try the Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t work either. Maybe it’s a power outage, you think, but your other appliances are working so that can’t be right. You read a news story in the paper about a political protest that’s taking place, and it suddenly becomes apparent that it’s not just you. The government, worried about the protest, has decided to turn off the internet.

This is exactly what happened to Berhan Taye the first time she experienced an internet shutdown, while visiting family in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2016. Since then, she says, it has become “definitely something that I’ve experienced one too many times.”

Taye leads the nonprofit Access Now’s Keep It On campaign, advocating against internet shutdowns around the world. Around 200 partner organizations work with the campaign to prevent intentional shutdowns of the internet by governments around the globe, a form of repression that the United Nations unequivocally condemned in 2016 as a violation of human rights.

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Iraq has seen mass civilian protests over the past year, leading to internet shutdowns.

Picture Alliance/Getty

Authoritarian governments have long sought control over their subject populations, and internet shutdowns can be seen as a digital extension of traditional censorship and repression, notes Taye.

This is very much the case in Iraq, where anti-corruption protests that sparked the shutdown are also being combatted with curfews and violence from security forces. Over WhatsApp, Hamzoz described the violence he had witnessed in Iraq during blackouts — tear gas, hot-water cannons, live bullets and snipers.

“It sounds terrifying,” I said. “Very terrifying,” he agreed.

India: Disconnected

In 2018 there were 196 documented internet shutdowns across 25 countries, primarily in Asia and Africa, according to a report released by the Keep It On coalition. Since the Arab Spring of 2011, when censorship ran rife across North Africa and the Middle East, internet shutdowns have been widely associated with authoritarian regimes.

But the country leading the way isn’t authoritarian, or even semi-authoritarian. In fact, it’s the world’s largest democracy. Of those 196 shutdowns that happened last year, 134 took place in India. The primary target is the state of Jammu and Kashmir, a politically unstable region on the border with Pakistan.

In August, the Indian government approved changes revoking the autonomy of the Muslim-majority region, stripping it of its constitution and imposing “security measures” that prevent freedom of movement, public assembly and protest. The region will be split into two territories governed by individual leaders who will report to the Hindu-led government in New Delhi, it was announced Wednesday.

Kashmir has been without internet since the constitutional changes in August, with phone signals also dropping out intermittently.

“This blackout has pushed the entire [8 million] population of Kashmir into a black hole, where the world is unable to know what is happening inside a cage and vice-versa,” said Aakash Hassan, Kashmir correspondent at CNN-News18.

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The contested region of Kashmir has been on lockdown since early August. Internet has been shut down for much of that time.

Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty

The situation for journalists “couldn’t be worse,” Hassan told me. Everything from sourcing to fact-checking to filing stories often grinds to a halt. He knows of reporters trying to operate in these conditions who have been questioned, injured or detained by the authorities, while also being prevented from speaking out about what’s happening to them.

But Hassan also knows first hand of the toll internet shutdowns can take on people’s personal lives and relationships. During the recent shutdown his grandmother passed away. It took him 14 hours to learn of her ill health, by which point he had missed his chance to say goodbye.

“I was just one hour away from my home,” he said. “But due to the communication blackout, I couldn’t see her face for the last time.”

Most of India’s internet shutdowns are ordered at the regional government level, although it’s often hard to tell where the orders come from. Legally, it’s hard to fight shutdowns, although there are often attempts to do so. For a start, governments rarely acknowledge that internet shutdowns have taken place. When they do, they often give ambiguous reasons for their actions.

For the public good?

The Keep It On campaign tries to map the justifications governments give for shutting the internet down against the actual causes. The most frequently used reason is “public safety,” but in reality this is a broad church that can mean anything from public protest to communal violence to elections.

Jan Rydzak, a research scholar at the Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator, has been monitoring shutdowns in Kashmir for some years. If public safety is the real priority, he says, shutting down the internet is unlikely to make much difference. In February 2019, Rydzak published a paper demonstrating that shutdowns didn’t discourage or prevent violent protests from taking place.

“Public safety is always a convenient excuse,” he said, “because in the vast majority of the cases it is written into the law of a given country that in situations of public emergency or public safety concerns, the government has special powers to, for example, cut off communication.”

Public safety is indeed the excuse that has been used in this most recent shutdown in Kashmir, which Rydzak describes as a “digital siege.” This excuse is plausible in line with the levels of violence the long-contested region has witnessed, but according to Rydzak, there are ulterior motives.

“They’re looking basically for something that would extend their control over the territory to the greatest extent possible,” he said. The Indian government doesn’t know what will work, he explained, which has led to it “crudely cutting off all contact with the outside world.”

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Attempting to use the internet in Kashmir has been fruitless for much of the last three months.

SOPA

There are many reasons why they shouldn’t, starting with Rydzak’s own research in India, which shows empirically that shutting off internet access does not reduce violent protests, and sometimes even perpetuates them.

As an ascendant power, Rydzak adds, the frequency with which India is shutting down the internet is setting a bad example for other countries. Seeing shutdowns as another tool in their arsenal for tackling outbreaks of violence or protests, more and more countries are experimenting with shutting off the internet just to see how it goes, he said.

This is echoed by Keep It On’s research, which shows an escalation in the number of new countries opting to use shutdowns for the first time, according to Taye. Often they do so around the time of elections — a trend that has increased over the past year, starting with Bangladesh at the end of 2018, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Benin.

“From 2018 I can list 10 countries that did not shut down the internet, but this year they are the frequent culprits of shutdowns,” she said. “Benin is a fairly democratic country. I never would have assumed they would have shut down the internet, but they did.”

Now aware that elections might result in shutdowns, the Keep It On campaign is keeping a particularly close eye on countries where elections are imminent to monitor for disruption.

From shutdowns to slowdowns

Measuring shutdowns is important to know where the rights are being violated, but keeping track isn’t always easy. Telecoms infrastructure is poor in many countries where shutdowns take place, so a steady internet connection isn’t something that can be relied on at the best of times.

“It’s very difficult for a lot of people to figure out if it’s an intentional shutdown, or if it’s just a fiber cut, or if your internet is just having a bad day,” said Taye.

This is further confused by the fact that many governments use less obvious, more insidious tactics in hyperlocal shutdowns or slowdowns. Often they’ll target specific social media services for throttling, or slowing down the bandwidth. WhatsApp, widely used in developing countries due to its low data costs, and Facebook are regular targets.

Either governments can make the services unavailable altogether, or can make them painfully slow to use. Some of these slowdowns are designed specifically to stop people being able to send pictures and videos, which would be more likely to inflame tensions or serve as evidence.

“We are deeply concerned by the trend in some regions and countries towards shutting down, throttling, or otherwise disrupting access to the open internet,” said a spokeswoman for Facebook. The company offers training to governments and law enforcement to help them address emerging situations by maintaining their own online presence and combating the spread of misinformation with appropriate counter speech.

Another justification used by governments to shut down internet access is to stop the spread of misinformation. Following the Easter bombings that took place in Sri Lanka earlier this year, for instance, some Western media were quick to praise the government’s decision to block access to social media to prevent the spread of false information.

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The Easter bombings in Sri Lanka led to the government blocking social media for the purpose of curbing the spread of misinformation.

Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/Getty


But it did no such thing. Just as shutdowns in Kashmir didn’t stop political violence, misinformation ran rife and even ended up in the coverage of major international news outlets. A Brown University student was at one point falsely identified as the attacker.

Blocking social media doesn’t prevent the spread of false information, according to Keep It On. It simply delays it. Taye gives an example, again from Ethiopia, where in July this year the government shut down the internet for a week following a series of assassinations of important political figures.

“When they turned on the internet, all of the conspiracy theories, all of the craziness that was happening in the offline space did not stop,” she said. It was all still there, just pending, waiting for people to be reconnected so it could continue to spread.

In the meantime, the last information put out before a shutdown often becomes the dominant narrative — whether or not it’s accurate.

As for the social media blockage in Sri Lanka, it wasn’t only unsuccessful at preventing the spread of fake news, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne of the LIRNEasia think tank wrote in a Slate op-ed following the bombing. It also prevented people from getting in touch with one another to report their safety, and it hid the inability of the police to control violent protests — which were partially caused due to the spread of misinformation.

Living in the dark

As if the lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of blackouts wasn’t enough to dissuade countries from deploying them, the economic toll of shutting off the internet can also run to millions of dollars per day.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte for Facebook in 2016, shutdowns can cost high-connectivity countries up to 1.9% of their GDP per day. Shutdowns in India are estimated to have cost the country over $3 billion since 2012, according to a report published by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations last year.

But they also have a trickle-down effect that takes a huge toll on the livelihoods of individuals who over the past 10 years have come to rely on the internet for their income. “Behind every figure like that are dozens of businesses that went out of business,” said Rydzak.

In Iraq, Hamzoz said, tech startups and local Uber rivals providing taxi-hailing services are losing out daily without steady access to the internet for themselves or their customers. Startups are going out of business. Women who rely on taxi-hailing apps for safety reasons must either stay home or risk their safety.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government is one of many to employ internet shutdowns for the first time in the past 12 months.

Federico Scoppa/Stringer

Similarly in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, internet access has allowed the informal economy, which women and other marginalized groups rely on for an income, to thrive. When people live in remote places or don’t have access to physical premises, business is often conducted through WhatsApp or Facebook groups and relies on digital payments.

According to Ashnah Kalemera, programs officer at Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa, this extends to all manner of casual work, including the buying and selling of food, laundry and hairdressing services.

“Many women are running businesses in this informal economy set up to ensure financial security,” she said. “Let’s not forget that African women are still largely excluded from the funds afforded to their male counterparts for formal tech startups.”

If the internet goes down, income streams are abruptly interrupted. For some women this means suddenly not being able to afford to feed their families, to send their children to school and to access other basic necessities.

Enterprising people have found ways to get around shutdowns — the use of VPNs to access social media is widespread. In a total blackout, however, these are also often rendered ineffective. In Iraq, Hamzoz told me, some people use international SIM cards, but they are expensive and the signal is often weak.

As we spoke over the course of October, when protests over corruption and poor living standards in Iraq raged on, Hamzoz reported the ongoing flickering status of his country’s internet and social media outages. On Oct. 16 he said mobile internet was partially restored. Then on Oct. 25, when mass protests broke out, it went down again. At the time of publishing, Iraq has largely been without internet for almost an entire month. Hamzoz said he expected blackouts and slowdowns to continue until the political issues in the country are addressed.

For Iraq, just like Kashmir, Jammu, Ethiopia and many other places around the world, that means internet shutdowns are likely to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via:  cnet


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Millions of Californians could be without power for a week

PG&E may shut off power due to fire risk.

 

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced Monday it may shut off power this week in nearly 30 northern California counties in response to strong and dry winds posing a fire threat.

“We would encourage residents and businesses to prepare for being without power for potentially as long as seven days,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a press conference Monday night.

Nearly 2 million people could be affected if there is a shutdown Wednesday, Liccardo said, as well as about 67 schools.

The public safety power shutoff would span across northern, central, coastal and Bay Area counties, the utility company said. PG&E has previously said it’s “probable” that its equipment started the 2018 Camp Fire — California’s deadliest and most destructive blaze — when a power line touched nearby trees.

An investigation by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection found the company responsible for the fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of structures.

The National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch for Wednesday through Thursday across northern portions of California, warning of “potential of rapid spread of fire” and reporting “potentially strong, damaging” winds and relatively low humidity.

“This has the potential to be the strongest offshore wind event of the year,” the weather service said. “The time to prepare is now.”

The city of San Jose had been preparing for a similar event since June, the mayor said.

“Some of what we need to do to get ready will in fact take years,” he said. “That is ensuring we have sufficient backup power generation, establishing microgrids where we can do so, things of that nature.”

In the meantime, he urged residents to shelter in place, as street lights and signals will not be working in the event of a power shutoff. He also encouraged households to create emergency plans and kits which include food and water for all family members and pets.

 

Late last month, PG&E shut off power to more than 48,000 northern California customers in precaution following dry and windy conditions. It was the second consecutive public safety power shutoff in that week, after the company had previously left about 24,000 customers across three northern California counties in the dark.

On September 13, the utility giant announced it had reached an $11 billion settlement with insurance companies for claims stemming from the devastating 2017 wildfires across northern California and the 2018 Camp Fire.

And in June, PG&E paid $1 billion in damages to local governments for blazes linked to its power lines and other equipment.

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

via:  cnn.com, keyt.com


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Weekly National Situation Update 7-28-19

From AlertsUSA


WEEKLY THREAT AND ALERT ROUNDUP


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DHS Warns Terror Threat Remains Terrorists Continue to Target Aviation Sector

Airlines Cancel Flights to Cairo Over Security Concerns


July 27, 2019


On July 20, the following related Flash SMS messages
were sent to
AlertsUSA subscriber mobile devices:

7/20 – UK Foreign Office warns of a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation in Egypt. Add’l security measures implemented for flights between Egypt and the UK.

7/20 – Unspecified security concerns prompt British Airways to suspend all flights to Cairo, Egypt for at least 7 days. AlertsUSA monitoring..

What You Need To Know

Shortly after publishing last week’s update, the Department of Homeland Security issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, reminding American citizens of the continuing threat of terrorism to the U.S. homeland.

Quoting from the bulletin:

The U.S. continues to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the Internet to inspire, enable, or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts. Homegrown terror suspects increasingly rely on technology, such as end-to-end encrypted social media applications, to avoid detection.

Terrorist groups are urging recruits to adopt easy-to-use tools to target public places and events. Specific attack tactics have included the use of vehicle ramming, to include the use of rental vehicles, small arms, straight-edged blades or knives, homemade explosives, and poisons or toxins.

Some terrorist groups overseas are using battlefield experiences to pursue new technologies and tactics, such as unmanned aerial systems and chemical agents that could be used outside the conflict zones. Many of these technologies are readily available. Additionally, terrorists continue to target commercial aviation and air cargo, including with concealed explosives.

Violent extremist media encourages individuals worldwide to launch attacks using all means possible. Continued U.S. and partner successes in disrupting and defeating terrorists on the battlefield may encourage homegrown terrorists to carry out acts of violence in the homeland instead of attempting to travel overseas to fight, or in retaliation for apparent losses.

Additionally, foreign terrorist fighters who have acquired training and battle-tested terrorism experience may flee from terrorist-controlled territories with a desire to conduct attacks elsewhere, including the United States.

DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continue to provide guidance to state, local, tribal and territorial partners related to the current threat environment. DHS continues to support the private sector to provide risk assessments and to coordinating security measures with business owners and operators. As such, the public may continue to observe law enforcement and security activity in and around public places and events.

British Airways Cancels All Cairo Flights

So as to highlight the relevance of the DHS bulletin, this past Saturday afternoon, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified that British Airways had canceled all flight service to and from Cairo, Egypt due to unspecified security concerns. This was followed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issuing a travel warning for Egypt citing a “heightened risk of terrorism against aviation.” Lufthansa later followed the British Airways move, but flights from both airlines have now resumed following reviews of security protocols and procedures. Few details have been provided about the specific threat prompting the flight cancellations.

The airline’s concerns are not unwarranted. Readers are reminded that on October 31st, 2015, Metrojet Flight 9268 flying from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport in Egypt to Saint Petersburg, Russia was destroyed by a bomb above the northern Sinai, killing all 224 passengers and crew who were on board. Shortly after the crash, the Islamic State’s Sinai Branch claimed responsibility for the incident in a written statement and on video, both of which were distributed globally via social media. The group also published photographs of what it said was the bomb in their online magazine known as Dabiq. That device was contained within a can of Schweppes Gold pineapple soda.

Photo of the "Schweppes Bomb" believed to have taken down Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai Peninsula in October, 2015. - ALLOW IMAGES

AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.


AlertsUSA.com

OTHER SMS ALERTS FROM THIS WEEK
NOT DETAILED IN THIS NEWSLETTER ISSUE

7/27 – AlertsUSA monitoring heavily armed police presence, Tower One, University of Central Florida (Orlando). Shelter in place order given. Add’l alerts as warranted.

7/26 – AlertsUSA monitoring heavily armed police presence, Tower One, University of Central Florida (Orlando). Shelter in place order given. Add’l alerts as warranted.

7/22 – 22 of 23 states in Venezuela without electrical power. More than 90% of the country’s telecommunications infrastructure offline. AlertsUSA monitoring..

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* Threat Info Direct to Your Mobile Device
* Get Away Early, Give Your Family Extra Safety.
* In Wide Use By Gov, 1st Responders, Travelers.
* 24/7/365 Monitoring. No Hype. Just the Bad Stuff.
* Issued Hours and Days before the MSM.
* On your Cell Phone, Tablet or Email.
* We Give The Clear Truth, Unlike the MSM.
* 15 Years in Operation!

We are NOT part of the government.
In fact, they are our customers!




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July 27, 2019


Radicalization of Kids: A Global Threat

Radicalization is now easy for the extremists, thanks to technology, the new weapon being brandished by Islamist terrorists in accordance with the mandate of the Muslim Brotherhood to “weaken the West from within”. Kids today, as early as three years old, are on YouTube watching videos. Unfortunately, it has never been easier for extremists — from white supremacists to radical Islamists — to target vulnerable children and penetrate a child’s consciousness.

~ READ MORE HERE ~

How the U.S. Could Lose a War With China

If a war broke out between the United States and China, the clash between two of the world’s most powerful militaries would be horrific. And the United States could very well lose. That’s a concern among current and former defense officials and military analysts, one of whom told Breaking Defense earlier this year that in war games simulating great-power conflict in which the United States fights Russia and China, the United States “gets its ass handed to it.”

~ READ MORE HERE ~

From Daesh to Diaspora:
Tracing the Women and Minors of Islamic State

The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) has been described as a hybrid terrorist organization and conventional army, a religious, millenarian group, an insurgency, and a pseudo-state, amongst others. It produced and disseminated propaganda at an unprecedented rate, and reached a wider global audience than any past terrorist organization in history. As it increasingly seized territory and resources, at its peak in late 2014 it was believed the group controlled over 100,000 km² of land and the 11 million residents therein. IS and those inspired by the group have thus far carried out over 4,300 attacks across at least 29 countries, demonstrating the group remains a significant and shared global concern.

~ READ MORE HERE ~



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USNI Fleet and Marine Tracker


July 27, 2019


These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of July 22, 2019based on Navy and public data provided by the U.S. Naval Institute. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.


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Soldiers fire a M120 120mm mortar system at Fort Drum, N.Y., July 22, 2019. The crews became the first in the state to qualify using the digital Mortar Fire Control System. - ALLOW IMAGES

World News Roundup


July 27, 2019


Other Developments We Are Following


AMERICAS

Report: Serious Violence on Rise in Nation’s Public Schools
Mark Esper sworn in as new secretary of defense
Senate confirms Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs
16 US Marines arrested for alleged human smuggling and drug offenses
Pompeo says he’d go to Iran if needed as he asks allies to join maritime force
Puerto Ricans celebrate after governor says he will resign
B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber Scheduled To Make Its First Flight In Late 2021
Two-thirds of Canadians reject closer China ties, want Huawei banned from 5G
Homicides surged in Mexico during the first half of 2019
CENTCOM: U.S. may have downed more than one Iranian drone
Widespread blackout hits Venezuela, gov blames ‘electromagnetic attack’
US denounces Venezuela aircraft’s ‘unsafe approach’

EUROPE

In a naval confrontation with Iran, Britain can find neither ships nor friends
France plans to boost its self-defense posture in space
Ukraine seizes Russian tanker that helped Moscow win a 2018 naval skirmish
Britain wins early European support for Hormuz naval mission
The Royal Navy rushed to stop Iran seizing British tanker but was 10 min late
EU Calls For Release of Ukrainian Convicted By Russia of Promoting Terrorism
Money laundering and terrorism financing: Commission to boost security
How Controversial Is Britain’s Counterterrorism Strategy?

MIDDLE EAST / AFRICA

China: US ‘in pursuit of absolute military superiority’
Iran Test-Fires Medium Range Missile, US Says
More than 100 killed in Syria air raids in past 10 days, UN says
Russia and Syria step up airstrikes against civilians in Idlib
Syria’s Assad Is Deliberately Starving Thousands of Refugees
Iran observes all U.S. ships in Gulf region: Iran navy chief
Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’
Trump says it is getting harder for him to want to negotiate with Iran
Iranian Documentary Reveals How CIA Recruited Agents
Iran claims to have arrested 17 CIA spies

ASIA

China Outlines Space War Plans
US Navy sails warship through contested waterway as Beijing warns Taiwan
North Korea fires ‘new short-range missile’ into sea, S Korea says
China-Russia joint exercise sends a message to Washington
Russia, South Korea trade conflicting claims over alleged airspace intrusion
China issues white paper on national defense in new era
Pakistan’s Imran Khan says to meet Taliban in peace push
Cambodia denies deal to allow armed Chinese forces at its naval base
Kim inspects new submarine, wants NKorean military bolstered
Warplanes from four countries face off in Asian confrontation
S. Korea fires warning shots at Russian military plane in its airspace
British Airways cancels all flights to Cairo due to security “precautions”



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Homeland Security

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Since 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has used the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin to highlight the continuing terror threat to the U.S. Homeland.

CURRENTLY ACTIVE NTAS BULLETIN

PDF (1 pg, 186 KB)
Web Version



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Travel Security

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The U.S. Dept. of State Travel Website is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to do a little research on the security situation at your destination well prior to departure.

Active USGOV Travel Notices

Worldwide Caution


Active USGOV Travel Advisories

Alphabetical Country List

Dynamic Map


Other USGOV Travel Resources

Traveler’s Checklist

Smart Traveler Enrollment Prog (STEP)

Travelers with Special Considerations

Travel to High-Risk Areas

Faith-Based Travel Information

Information for Women Travelers

Cruise Ship Passengers

Students Abroad

Your Health Abroad

Driving and Road Safety Abroad


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The Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides a variety of resources to enhance the safety and security of the U.S. private sector businesses and organizations operating abroad.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is the authoritative federal source for information on current health issues related to specific destinations worldwide. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.

Foreign Sources of Travel Guidance

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Global Affairs Canada


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Australia Dept. of Foreign Affairs


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UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office


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Seizure of British tanker in Straights of Hormuz

The Iranian Rvolutionary Guard Corps confirmed the seizure of British tanker ‘Stena Impero’ in Straights of Hormuz. Vessel now well into Iranian waters. Monitoring.

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WHO declares Ebola global health emergency

WHO makes formal declaration of a global health emergency for Ebola outbreak in Congo due to a “concerning geographical expansion of the virus.” More via email.

Supplemental Info:

The WHO declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is extremely rare. The four previous instances of a

PHEIC declaration were 2016 (Zika), 2014 (Ebola), 2014 (Polio), and 2009 (Swine Flu).

A PHEIC is defined by WHO as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response”. This definition implies a situation that is:

  • serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected;
  • carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border; and
  • may require immediate international action.

We are awaiting information on the DHS / CDC response to the declaration, including possible travel restrictions, increased surveillance at last points of departure to the U.S., as well as ports of entry…

Read the formal WHO Press Release Here:

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/17-07-2019-ebola-outbreak-in-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-declared-a-public-health-emergency-of-international-concern

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Attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

SecState Pompeo issues formal statement that the USGOV assesses the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

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Explosive devices found in Manchester, TN

Explosive devices found in Manchester, TN not far from upcoming Bonnaroo Music Festival. ATF at scene near Coffee Co. Highway Dept (Walker St.).


Monitoring..


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PG&E Turns the Lights Out

California utility PG&E cut power to customers in several northern California counties on Saturday, citing high winds that could knock over equipment and cause fires. You might remember the company was found responsible for a series of lethal fires that tore through the area in 2017 and 2018.

  • PG&E equipment caused last year’s Camp Fire, which killed at least 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

Who was affected? Starting at 6am on Saturday, 1,600 businesses and homes had no power. PG&E cut off power to 26,900 additional customers at 9pm, some of which were in Paradise. Frustrated businesses are turning to generators to keep things running.

Zoom out: After state officials said PG&E was on the hook for the Camp Fire, legal liabilities threatened to destroy the utility. It filed for bankruptcy protection in January. 

Bottom line: PG&E barely made it through last year’s disaster intact and knows it can’t make a single misstep. NorCal residents can expect more precautionary shut-offs.

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Weekly National Situation Update 5-5-19

From AlertsUSA


WEEKLY THREAT AND ALERT ROUNDUP


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Islamic State Leader Appears in New Video Calls for War of Attrition


May 4, 2019

  

On April 29th, the following related Flash SMS messages
were sent to
AlertsUSA subscriber mobile devices:

4/29 – Official ISIS media arm, al-Furqan, has released a new video message from leader and ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the first since 2014). More to follow..

4/29 – In new Islamic State video, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi directs followers to double their efforts & intensify strikes on Crusaders & apostates. See email for more.

What You Need To Know

On Monday, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of the release of a new video message from the Islamic State’s elusive leader and ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In what is believed to be his first appearance on video since 2014, Bagdhadi’s message was straightforward: Despite the fall of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the global ISIS community lives on and that the fight is far from over.

The video, distributed in 7 languages, shows Baghdadi referencing several recent events, including the re-election of Israeli PM Netanyahu, the overthrow of the leaders of Sudan and Algeria, offering praise for the Sri Lanka suicide bombers (claiming the strikes were revenge for defeat at Baghouz, Syria, the last physical stronghold of the terror organization), and further vowing to avenge those who died in the battle.

Baghdadi goes on to direct followers to intensify strikes on “Crusaders & apostates” in an effort to bleed the enemy in a long war of attrition. He also states jihad will continue until the “end of time,” or in another translation, until the “day of resurrection.”

It is widely believed the release of the video was intended to bolster the morale of Islamic State supporters and to stiffen the spines of terror cells and lone wolves around the world, motivating them to plan their own attacks and fight for the “spiritual caliphate,”

Both the US and Russia claimed Bagdhadi was killed in Sept 2017.

What’s Up With the Red Beard?

During the time of Muhammad, Christians and Jews were prohibited from dying grey hair, so Muhammad forbade Muslims from imitating them. Thus, they dyed their beards to distinguish themselves.

See the following two Hadiths:

“Allah’s Messenger said : “The Jews and the Christians do not dye (their grey hair), so you shall do the opposite of what they do.””

Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.4 Hadith No.3462

It was also reported from the Prophet that one should change grey hair, using any colour except black. Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet said: “The best things with which to change grey hair are henna and ‘katam’ (a plant similar to henna which is used as a dye).”

al-Tirmidhi, no. 1675

AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.


AlertsUSA.com

OTHER SMS ALERTS FROM THIS WEEK NOT DETAILED IN THIS NEWSLETTER ISSUE

5/3 – Manchester UK: Piccadilly Gardens on lockdown, Oldham Library evacuated flwg discovery of “suspicious devices.” One person in custody. Awaiting add’l details.

5/2 – Kirtland Air Force Base (Albuquerque) has been evacuated due to a bomb threat. Officials say all gates are closed until further notice. AlertsUSA monitoring..

5/1 – AlertsUSA monitoring police response to reports of active shooter, Long Beach City College, Long Beach CA. Campus on lockdown. Add’l alerts as warranted.

5/1 – Active shooter report, 1 College Ave (Davis Square), Somerville, MA. Believed related to bank robbery. Avoid the area. AlertsUSA monitoring..

4/30 – Multiple causalities reported, UNC-Charlotte (at or near Kennedy Building). One person in custody. Campus remains on lockdown.

4/30 – Active shooter report, University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Campus on lockdown. AlertsUSA monitoring..

4/30 – AlertsUSA warns of May Day protests and demonstrations to be held nationwide tomorrow, May 1st. Violence anticipated at larger gatherings. See email.

4/30 – Protests outside the Venezuelan Embassy in DC (1099 30th St NW). Caution urged if in the area. AlertsUSA monitoring..

4/30 – Mil-backed uprising underway in Venezuela. US State Dept urges all Americans to depart immediately or shelter in place. No USGOV coordinated evacs at this time.

4/29 – FBI disrupts domestic terror plot aimed at multiple targets in SoCal. Suspect rptd to be Army vet who had expressed support for ISIS. Awaiting news conference.

4/29 – Gunfire reported at rear entrance to US Embassy Haiti. Shelter in place ordered within embassy compound. AlertsUSA monitoring…

4/28 – 6+ people shot at Perkins Square Baptist Church (2500 Edmondson Ave) in Baltimore, MD. Area on lockdown. Shooter at large. AlertsUSA monitoring..

4/27 – AlertsUSA monitoring shooting incident, Chabad of Poway synagogue, San Diego. Multiple injuries..

4/27 – San Diego Sheriff: Chabad synagogue shooter was armed with AR-style rifle. 3 injured, 1 dead. Shooter in custody.


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In fact, they are our customers!




Security Increasing at Churches and Synagogues in Advance of Ramadan

May 4, 2019


On April 29th, the following related Flash SMS messages
were sent to
AlertsUSA subscriber mobile devices:

5/3 – Security increasing at churches and synagogues across N. America in runup to start of Ramadan on Sunday, May 5. Increased vigilance and security awareness urged.

What You Need To Know

On Friday, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of increasing security at churches and synagogues across North America in the runup to the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on Sunday, May 5th. As was reported to AlertsUSA subscribers just two weeks ago, a Joint Intelligence Bulletin was issued by the Dept. of Homeland Security, FBI and National Counterterrorism Center warning law enforcement, military, and security personnel that the religious holidays including Ramadan may provide increased symbolic interest to extremists aspiring to target faith-based communities in the Homeland.

Additionally, the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, their associates and those inspired by such organizations have repeatedly called for and directly threatened attacks on “worshipers of the cross,” “disbelievers” and the West in general.

In order to minimize risk and maximize readiness, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal and state partners offers numerous resources to assist faith-based and community organizations with their efforts to prepare for all types of hazards, whether natural or man-made.

DHS: Active Shooter: How to Respond

DHS Active Shooter Preparedness

DHS: Connect, Plan, Train, Report

DHS: Active Shooter Event Quick Reference Guide

DHS: Planning and Response to an Active Shooter

Ready.gov Active Shooter Resources

Safety for Faith-Based Events and Houses of Worship NSI Awareness Flier

FEMA: Resources to Protect Your House of Worship

FEMA: Active Shooter Information Sheet

DOJ: Safeguarding Houses of Worship

Conducting Security Assessments: A Guide for Schools & Houses of Worship

Safety for Faith-Based Events and Houses of Worship


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Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019


DOD ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS


May 4, 2019


The Department of Defense this week released its annual report to the Congress on the progress of China’s military. The Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019 is over 120 pages long and provides details on China’s military strategy, state of modernization and disputes with neighbors.

From the Executive Summary:

China’s leaders have benefited from what they view as a “period of strategic opportunity” during the initial two decades of the 21st century to develop domestically and expand China’s “comprehensive national power.”

Over the coming decades, they are focused on realizing a powerful and prosperous China that is equipped with a “world-class” military, securing China’s status as a great power with the aim of emerging as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2018, China continued harnessing an array of economic, foreign policy, and security tools to realize this vision. Ongoing state-led efforts, which China implements both at home and abroad and which often feature economic and diplomatic initiatives, also support China’s security and military objectives:

  • China continues to implement long-term state-directed planning, such as “Made in China 2025” and other industrial development plans, which stress the need to replace imported technology with domestically produced technology. These plans present an economic challenge to nations that export high-tech products. These plans also directly support military modernization goals by stressing proprietary mastery of advanced dual-use technologies.
  • China’s leaders seek to align civil and defense technology development to achieve greater efficiency, innovation, and growth. In recent years, China’s leaders elevated this initiative, known as Civil-Military Integration (CMI), to a national strategy that incentivizes the civilian sector to enter the defense market. The national CMI strategy focuses on hardware modernization, education, personnel, investment, infrastructure, and logistics.
  • China’s leaders are leveraging China’s growing economic, diplomatic, and military clout to establish regional preeminence and expand the country’s international influence. China’s advancement of projects such as the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative (OBOR) will probably drive military overseas basing through a perceived need to provide security for OBOR projects.
  • China conducts influence operations against media, cultural, business, academic, and policy communities of the United States, other countries, and international institutions to achieve outcomes favorable to its security and military strategy objectives. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seeks to condition foreign and multilateral political establishments and public opinion to accept China’s narrative surrounding its priorities like OBOR and South China Sea territorial and maritime claims.

Recognizing that programs such as “Made in China 2025” and OBOR have sparked concerns about China’s intentions, China’s leaders have softened their rhetoric when promoting these programs without altering the programs’ fundamental strategic goals.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE (Clean PDF, 120 pgs)

READ ONLINE HERE


China’s Type 094 (Jin class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile sub. - ALLOW IMAGES


May 4, 2019


China’s Furtive Underwater Nukes Test the Pentagon

Satellite imagery reveal the regular presence of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines at the strategic base on Hainan Island near the resort city of Sanya. Specialized surface warships and aircraft designed to protect the subs are prowling key waterways off the coast. Facilities at the base appear to have been built to store and load ballistic missiles. Antenna arrays that support the hunt for foreign submarines have appeared on Chinese-held islands in the hotly contested South China Sea. And a veteran submariner has been appointed to command Chinese forces in the south of the country.

READ MORE HERE

Examining the Global Terrorism Landscape

As this long war is close to entering its third decade, one thing is clear: The West’s will to continue the fight has waned. We are facing an enemy that cannot match our resources and technology, but it does possess the will to fight. We have failed to take a long approach to this war. We have viewed clashes in Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries as individual wars instead of theaters in the overall war. Make no mistake, this is how the enemy views the fight.

READ MORE HERE

How Brexit Could Spell the End of
Britain’s Famed Advantage in Intelligence

From John le Carré’s novels to the insatiable popular interest in James Bond, Britain has long enjoyed, and cultivated, an image of producing superior spies. This reputation is based on more than myth. For decades during and following World War II, the painstaking real-world work of British intelligence officers was one of the United Kingdom’s primary sources of power.

That power, and its underlying foundations, is now in jeopardy thanks to Brexit, which will have a cascading series of repercussions for British intelligence: It will shut Britain out of European Union institutions that have benefited British national security, and it may also jeopardize the special intelligence relationship with the United States, which may look to deepen relations with Brussels instead.

READ MORE HERE

Disruptive Technology and National Security

Innovation and new technologies have many positive attributes and provide significant improvement to humanity, much that is likely unforeseen at the time of initial discovery. The unpredictability of the technology trajectories can lead to significant negative consequences. This white paper aims to discuss the massive leaps in innovation and understand what this means for national security.

READ MORE HERE


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USNI Fleet and Marine Tracker


May 4, 2019


These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of April 22, 2019 (unchanged from last week at time of publication this week), based on Navy and public data provided by the U.S. Naval Institute. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

The Fleet and Marine Tracker is a new feature in the Threat Journal newsletter.


An Idaho Air National Guard pilot prepares for a training flight at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, April 26, 2019. - ALLOW IMAGES

World News Roundup


May 4, 2019


Other Developments We Are Following

AMERICAS

Woman Pleads Guilty To Plan To Send Help To ISIS
Former FBI Agent Explains How Police Track Potential Terror Plots Online
Long Beach Terror Plot Case Highlights New Challenges For Investigators
Trump working to designate Muslim Brotherhood as ‘terror’ group
Inside the secret world of the CIA’s social media team
DoD ending training program for Afghan pilots after ~50% go AWOL in the US
USAF F-35A Fighter Jet’s First Combat Mission Was Dropping Bombs On ISIS
Military action is possible’ in Venezuela, says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Guaido-Maduro standoff exacting heavy toll on Venezuelans
Maduro hangs on as Venezuelan protests peter out
Pentagon says China’s military using espionage to steal secrets
Raytheon shoots down drone with lasers, microwaves in Air Force test
USS Harry S. Truman will not be retired ahead of schedule, Pence says
Argentina: Another “Cracked” Democracy?
Venezuela Is Armed to the Hilt

EUROPE

Manchester Arena bombing extradition ‘delayed by Libya clashes’
EU says will respond to controversial US move on Cuba
Suspected UAE spy ‘kills himself in Turkish prison’
Wikileak’s Assange refuses extradition to US; long legal fight expected
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson sacked over Huawei leak
Polish nationalists rallying against country’s EU membership in Warsaw
US Air Force ties to Greece may grow as relations with Turkey sour
Washington tells Russia: Stop playing games over detained ex-U.S. marine

MIDDLE EAST / AFRICA

ISIS Makes Inroads With Militant Groups In Congo
US braced for Iranian response as oil crackdown starts
OPEC is ‘likely to collapse,’ warns Iran’s oil minister
Escalated bombing in Syria’s Idlib displaces nearly 140,000
Benin: Soldiers shoot at protesters in post-election unrest
Gunmen kill pastor, worshippers in Burkina Faso church
Terror attacks on the rise in Burkina Faso
Why Iran-US confrontation may intensify under new IRGC commander
Bashir is gone, but who will lead, or seize, Sudan’s revolution?
Congo Ebola cases hit record for most reported in single day
Egypt sentences senior Muslim Brotherhood figure and son to life

ASIA

Pentagon warns on risk of Chinese submarines in Arctic
US Navy warships pass through Taiwan Strait
China is building a powerful navy to take on the US in the Pacific
New attacks on Sri Lanka churches planned, says archbishop.
Sri Lanka cancels Sunday masses for 2nd weekend
South Asian security experts downplay Islamic State threat
Never a dull day in the western Pacific
Almost half of Australians believe immigration should be reduced
UN puts Pakistani armed group chief Masood Azhar on ‘terror’ list
IS gaining foothold in Afghanistan to expand into Central Asia
Sri Lanka names Easter suicide bombers
DPRK warns U.S. of ‘undesirable outcome’ following Pompeo remark.
China sentences second Canadian citizen to death ahead of centenary



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Homeland Security

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Since 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has used the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin to highlight the continuing terror threat to the U.S. Homeland.

CURRENTLY ACTIVE NTAS BULLETIN

PDF (1 pg, 186 KB)
Web Version



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Travel Security

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The U.S. Dept. of State Travel Website is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to do a little research on the security situation at your destination well prior to departure.

Active USGOV Travel Notices

Worldwide Caution


Active USGOV Travel Advisories

Alphabetical Country List

Dynamic Map


Other USGOV Travel Resources

Traveler’s Checklist

Smart Traveler Enrollment Prog (STEP)

Travelers with Special Considerations

Travel to High-Risk Areas

Faith-Based Travel Information

Information for Women Travelers

Cruise Ship Passengers

Students Abroad

Your Health Abroad

Driving and Road Safety Abroad


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The Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides a variety of resources to enhance the safety and security of the U.S. private sector businesses and organizations operating abroad.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is the authoritative federal source for information on current health issues related to specific destinations worldwide. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.

Foreign Sources of Travel Guidance

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Global Affairs Canada


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Australia Dept. of Foreign Affairs


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UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office


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