Officer murdered in "unprovoked attack"

A New York City police officer was shot and killed early Wednesday morning.

A 12 year department veteran, 48 year old Miosotis Familia was sitting in the passenger seat of a mobile command post when a gunman fired through the window striking her in the head.

Her partner radioed for help and within minutes other officers arrived at the scene, but it was too late.  Familia was taken to a nearby hospital and listed in critical condition. She died just a few hours later.

Authorities say the gunman was 34 year old Bronx resident Alexander Bonds. During his confrontation with police Bonds drew a revolver. Police opened fire striking and later killing him.  A bystander was also shot in the abdomen and is listed in stable condition. So far there has been nothing to suggest that Bonds or Officer Familia knew one another.

Bonds has a long criminal history. When he was a teenager he was accused of attacking a police officer with brass knuckles. Just two years ago he was paroled from prison after serving six years for robbery.

In a video posted to Facebook in September he ranted about police and said “it’s time for people to rise up.”

New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill is calling the shooting an assassination saying, “based on what we know now, it is clear that this was an unprovoked direct attack on police officers who were assigned to keep people safe.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement calling Familia’s murder a tragedy and “the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years.”

For many New Yorkers the fatal shooting is reminiscent of the ambush killing of officers Wienjan Liu and Rafael Ramos three years ago. They were also sitting in a police vehicle when they were shot execution style by a lone gunman.

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio paid tribute to officer Familia.

“She was on duty serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in and doing a job she loved.”

The mobile command post in the Bronx where officer Familia was killed has been on location since March of 2017 in an effort to curb the number of gang related shootings in the neighborhood.

Officer Familia leaves behind three children.

 

Capitol Hill Police: More security needed post-Scalise shooting

Reporting by Garrett Tenney 

In a Senate Appropriations hearing Thursday, Chief of US Capitol Police Matthew Verderosa said he believes it will be necessary to provide increased security coverage of events with Congressional members going forward.  Verderosa also said additional screening and various security measures must be employed at the Capitol to ensure safety and security.  To that end, the Chief’s $426-million budget request includes funding for an additional 72 officers, and 48 civilians who would help fill those needs - particularly on the House side, where Verderosa said there are vulnerabilities that have been around for too long and are the final part of security upgrades his department has been undertaking for some time.  

Other highlights from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch’s hearing with the Sergeant At Arms and Chief of the US Capitol Police regarding their budget requests for the FY’18 Congressional Budget:

Regarding cyber-security, Frank Larkin, who is the Sergeant At Arms for the United States Senate, said he’s confident in their ability to defend against cyber-attacks, but described it as “a constant blocking and tackling drill. This is a knife fight that’s not going to end anytime soon.”

Larkin said we also can’t take our eye off the potential of insider threats – both in the physical and cyber realms – and said his office has been incorporating both policy and technology-based abilities to better detect and protect against those kinds of cyber threats.

Pentagon sees 'activity' at Syrian base struck in April

By Lucas Tomlinson

The Pentagon is seeing new “activity” at a known aircraft hanger long associated with chemical weapons at the Shayrat Air Base in Syria outside the city of Homs, according to multiple defense officials—the same Assad regime base the U.S. military struck with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles in early April.

It’s not immediately clear what specific activity at the Syrian base prompted the White House statement.

American officials at the US-led coalition headquarters in Baghdad tell Fox News they stand behind firmly behind the White House statement warning the Syrian government against another chemical weapons attack (statement below).

Should President Trump decide to go beyond warning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, there is plenty of firepower in the region.

The USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier strike group is operating in the Mediterranean Sea striking ISIS in Syria.  Along with the carrier’s dozens of strike aircraft, there are numerous guided-missile destroyers capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missile similar to the strike in Syria from warships in early April. 

Last week, a U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet launched from Bush shot down a Syrian warplane, the first time the United States military has shot down a jet in air-to-air combat in 18 years.  The U.S. jet first fired a short-range sidewinder missile, but missed when the Syrian jet launched flares and took evasive action—but the American pilot did not miss a second time after firing a medium-range air-to-air missile called an Aim-120 Amraam, according to U.S. officials.

Since late May, there have been five U.S. attacks on pro-Assad forces in Syria, including Iranian-backed forces such as Hezbollah near a U.S. coalition training base in southern Syria.

Justifying the April attack on the Syrian base, senior U.S. military officials said at the time there was evidence the regime launched the deadly chemical weapons attack in northern Syria from the Shayrat Air Base where the Pentagon is once again seeing activity. At least 80 people, including women and children were killed in the town of Khan Sheikhoun by a lone Syrian jet according to officials.

North Korea conducts another rocket engine test for ICBM

By Lucas Tomlinson

North Korea conducted another rocket engine test Wednesday which could potentially be used on a future intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM, two US officials tell Fox News.

It’s the first rocket engine test since the rogue communist regime conducted three in March, which, in addition to an ICBM could also be used for a future new rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit, according to both officials who are concerned that the technology used for putting satellites into space are the same ones used for an ICBM capable of reaching the west coast of the United States.

The rocket test was conducted in the city of Yun Song, where previous rocket tests have taken place, according to one official.

The news of another rocket engine test out of North Korea comes as another U.S. official said Wednesday there are signs of increased activity at North Korea’s lone nuclear test site.

“There are more people and more cars but nobody knows what that means,” said the official.   

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, including two last year.

Since hosting China’s President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago Club in April, President Trump hoped China would help deescalate tensions in the region following a series of ballistic missile tests, including one that flew 1,000 miles higher than NASA’s international space station before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere before splashing down a mere 60 miles from Russia last month.

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” said Trump in a tweet earlier this week.

At the State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosted Chinese counterparts.

“China understands that the United States regards North Korea as our top security threat,” Tillerson told reporters Wednesday. “We reiterated to China that they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much great economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region.”

Relations with North Korea deteriorated further after Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old University of Virginia student and Ohio native was returned to the United States last week after being held for 17-months on charges of subversion after allegedly stealing a communist propaganda poster from his hotel. He died on Monday.

Krauthammer: Russia compares Trump Cuba plan to ‘Cold War’

Charles Krauthammer reacted to Russia accusing the U.S. of returning to ‘Cold War rhetoric” on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Monday saying “we’ve been in a new Cold War ever since Putin came into power, but it’s not exactly at the same level of risk as the old Cold War.”

Russia made the accusation on Sunday after President Trump’s decision to reinstate some sanctions on Cuba. “The Russians are very careful. They made a similar announcement after we did the tomahawk attack with the cruise missiles that we would cut off communications. It didn’t happen,” argued Krauthammer. “It sounds as if there is a lot of bark here coming out of the defense ministry from Moscow.”

Krauthammer also said the larger picture involves a “post-ISIS Syria” adding, “they both assume that ISIS is going to be wiped away fairly soon and the question is will Syria, will Assad be able to restore what the Russians and Iranians full control of the country including the part that is now ISIS or will that be a kind of semi-independent rebel territory and Assad regime will be kind of a mini state. That’s what this maneuvering is about. I don’t expect that we’re going to have a conflict with the Russians, but we are going to have a long tussle on the ground with the forces who support Assad and the forces who are against taking over in the absence of ISIS in a few months. "

US shoots down another Iranian drone in Syria

Lucas Tomlinson

A US jet shot down an Iranian drone flying in southern Syria near US-backed forces, a US defense official confirms to Fox News.

This marks the second time in less than a month the US has shot down an Iranian drone.  It also marks the 5th time since late May the US military has bombed pro-Syrian forces in southern Syria.

A US Air Force F-15 shot down the Iranian-made drone, according to the official.

US special operations forces have been training Syrian rebels at an outpost near al-Tanf Syria close to Syria’s border with Iraq and Jordan for the past few years.

Pentagon Press Statement:

Coalition shoots down armed UAV in Syria 

SOUTHWEST ASIA - A U.S. aircraft shot down an armed pro-Syrian regime Unmanned Aerial Vehicle advancing on Coalition forces in Southern Syria, June 20.

The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces. 

The Coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS. This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near Coalition forces before it was shot down, June 8. 

The F-15E intercepted the armed UAV after it was observed advancing on the Coalition position. When the armed UAV continued to advance on the Coalition position without diverting its course it was shot down. 

The Coalition has made it clear to all parties publically and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.  

There is a de-confliction mechanism in place with Russian forces to reduce uncertainty in this highly contested space and mitigate the chances of strategic miscalculation.  Given recent events, the Coalition will not allow pro-regime aircraft to threaten or approach in close proximity to Coalition and partnered forces.  

The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally. The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.  

The Coalition calls on all parties to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security. 

 

Sean Spicer Promoted at White House

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will soon be taking on a new role at the White House.  

In his new role, Spicer will oversee all White House communications operations, including the Press Office.

Spicer’s new role is considered a promotion to a position that is at the level of a Deputy Chief Of Staff and while his actual title has yet to be determined "Deputy Chief of Staff for White House Communications" has been kicked around. 

With this change, Spicer will assume a supervisory role over both the Press Office and the Communications office.

Traditionally, in the White House organizational chart, there are separate roles and independent staffs for the Press Secretary and Communications Director. In the early days of the Administration, Spicer was filling both roles. Michael Dubke was hired as Communications Director, but since his departure last month, Spicer has again been filling both roles.

Also not determined yet is who will take over as Press Secretary, though President Trump is confident in the abilities of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and seems to be pleased with having her at the podium.  

While the President would still like Spicer to do briefings from time to time (perhaps once a week), Spicer's preference is to work solely behind the scenes.  It's no secret he does not enjoy the press briefings.  In his time at the RNC and in Congress, he was always the behind-the-scenes strategy guy as the daily spotlight does not appeal to him.

The discussion to make changes came right after President Trump’s firing of then FBI Director James Comey.  The President felt the communications and press shops dropped the ball (even though he only gave them about an hour to get a plan in place) and that a new organizational structure needed to be put in place.

No set time for a hard transition to the new structure has been determined and it's likely we may see a "soft roll" to the new organizational chart over the next few weeks. 

What should be noted is that this is a dramatic departure from the way things have been done at the White House for decades.  It is an indication that in the Trump administration, the old flow chart had no hope of keeping up with the pace of information, and the flow of often times competing narratives.

Iranian Naval Vessel Trains Laser on Helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz

Jennifer Griffin, Fox News

According to a senior US defense official, an Iranian missile boat pointed a laser at a US Marine helicopter while two Navy warships and a cargo ship were transiting out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. The laser triggered a response and the US helicopter automatically fired off flares toward the offending vessel.

The Iranian vessel came within 800 yards of the US warships.

This incident comes just days after the US F15 shot down an Iranian drone in southern Syria after it fired on US backed forces at a training camp near Al Tanf near the border with Jordan.

Here is a statement from the US Navy's 5th fleet:

The following is on the on the record by name, Cmdr. Bill Urban as a U.S.

Fifth Fleet spokesman.

"Three U.S. Naval ships and a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter had an unsafe and unprofessional interaction with an Iranian Navy vessel while transiting the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz, June 13.

The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) and dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11) were transiting the strait when the Iranian vessel paralleled the U.S. formation, shining a spotlight on Cole. Shortly thereafter, the Iranian vessel trained a laser on a CH-53E helicopter that accompanied the formation. The Iranian vessel then proceeded to turn its spotlight on Bataan, scanning the ship from bow to stern and stern to bow before heading outbound from the formation.

During the interaction, the Iranian vessel came within 800 yards of Bataan.

Naval Forces Central Command assesses this interaction as unsafe and unprofessional due to the Iranian vessel shining a laser on one of the formation's helicopters. Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles."

CDR Bill Urban, Public Affairs Officer

Sen. Thune says on Russia investigation, “let’s not drag this thing out forever.”

Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) said Tuesday on “Special Report” the current FBI and congressional probes into Russian interference in the 2016 elections needs to proceed, but should could continue indefinitely.  Thune, who is the Senate Republican Conference chairman—the majority’s third-ranking position in the Senate—told Bret Baier that Tuesday’s testimony by Attorney General Sessions made clear, “There haven’t been any conversations that suggest there’s any evidence anywhere, that there was collusion with the Russians by the Trump campaign.

Thune said, “ I’m one who believes the special counsel  ought to be able to do his thing, investigate this, but there ought to be some amount of time in which they can conduct that, and make sure they stay in their lanes, and this gets done in a way that brings us to a conclusion one way or another.  But let’s don’t drag this thing out forever.”   

Krauthammer: Trump’s tweet teasing the media

Charles Krauthammer said on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Monday that many of Trump’s tweets are “a tease” for the country and particularly members of the media adding “it’s all smoke.”

“I think he particularly enjoys keeping the country, particularly the media, hanging on his every word,” said Krauthammer. “I have nothing against Ivanka Trump. I think she's done a splendid job in a pretty difficult situation, but it’s a little rich when the Trump family is complaining about the viciousness considering what her dad called ‘Little Marco,’ ‘Lyin’ Ted’ and ‘Crooked Hillary’ as sort of three random characterizations from the campaign. So, I mean he's pretty good at the street fight and what he's getting is a street fight back.”

Although Krauthammer also claimed a large part of the problem included democrats who do not accept the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency arguing “[Trump] is the president. He deserves at least a chance to govern.” 

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