-The Washington Post – Andrew Roth – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Russian lawmakers voted unanimously Wednesday to pass legislation allowing authorities to force any foreign media organization to register as a “foreign agent” under penalty of fines or a possible ban on operations in Russia. The legislation, passed 414 to 0 in retaliation for the registration of English-language Russian news network RT under a similar statute in the United States, was drafted hastily and is likely to be signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin by the end of the month.
- The bill approved by the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, did not include a list of media organizations to be targeted; lawmakers said they would be chosen by Russia’s Ministry of Justice.
-The Hindu – Suhasini Haidar – 11/15/2017
BLUF: France will like to deepen cooperation with India in the Indo-Pacific bilaterally and not as a part of a multilateral arrangement like the recently convened “quadrilateral” between India, U.S., Japan and Australia, officials said here on Wednesday. However, senior diplomats clarified that France and India have a “special and specific” interest in the Indian Ocean, and would prefer to conduct their exchanges across the Indo-Pacific bilaterally.
- “There is a very strong interest on both sides to keep this bilateral,” a French Embassy official told reporters. “We should not forget that India and France have both a geographical presence as well as a traditional connection of trust in the Indian Ocean,” the official added.
-Anadolu Agency – Zeynep Akyil and Bahattin Gonultas – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Five countries — Turkey, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia — on Wednesday signed a major international trade and transport corridor deal. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will begin in Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province and Turqundi in the country’s western Herat province. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will begin in Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province and Turqundi in the country’s western Herat province. It will connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe.
- The corridor will connect with Turkey’s Middle Corridor Project (East-West Trans-Caspian Trade and Transport Corridor) and will compliment other regional transport corridors, such as the Five Nations Railway Corridor.
- Current projects to improve infrastructure and procedures across the five countries are estimated to exceed $2 billion, according to RECCA VII.
-France 24 – Unknown – 11/15/2017
BLUF: French President Emmanuel Macron has invited Lebanon’s former prime minister Saad Hariri and his family to France, the Élysée Palace said in a statement on Wednesday. Hariri has been in Saudi Arabia since he resigned unexpectedly on November 4.
- France’s Élysée presidential palace said the invitation was made after Macron spoke by telephone with both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri.
-BBC News – Matt McGrath – 11/15/2017
BLUF: French president Emmanuel Macron says that Europe will cover any shortfall in funding for the global climate body, the IPCC. The UK government also pledged to double their IPCC contribution.
- Speaking at UN talks in Bonn, Mr Macron said that climate change was the most significant struggle of our times.
-The Local Germany – Unknown – 11/15/2017
BLUF: The European Commission (EC) is to sue Germany over the poor quality of air in its cities, the Stuttgarter Zeitung reported on Wednesday. The EC will lodge its complaint with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on December 7th, according to the report.
- If the ECJ were to rule against Germany, Berlin would face a heavy fine.
-Department of Defense – Unknown – 11/15/2017
CONTRACT: Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona, is being awarded a $7,762,687 firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-16-C-5408) to exercise options to procure spares in support of the fiscal 2016-2017 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Block I multi-year production requirements. The ESSM program is an international cooperative effort to design, develop, test and procure ESSM missiles. The ESSM provides enhanced ship defense. Raytheon Missile Systems will provide all-up rounds, inert operation missiles, spare components and shipping containers and will provide other production-related support. Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona (32 percent); Germany (11 percent); Australia (9 percent); Andover, Massachusetts (7 percent); Canada (6 percent); Norway (5 percent); Spain (4 percent); Keyser, West Virginia (4 percent); Netherlands (4 percent); San Jose, California (3 percent); McKinney, Texas (3 percent); Turkey (2 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (2 percent); Greece (1 percent); Mountain View, California (1 percent); and various places below one percent (6 percent), and is expected to be completed by May 2020. Fiscal 2018 weapons procurement (Navy) funding in the amount of $7,762,687 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.
-The Jerusalem Post – Yonah Jeremy Bob – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Israel is extremely unprepared to address the multiple threats presented by drones, either from cross-border terrorism or from unregulated and dangerous domestic use, the State Comptroller reported on Wednesday. Regarding cross-border terrorism-style drone threats, Joseph Shapira said that the IDF “has not developed a complete response” and “needs to immediately carry out more preparatory work” to address the issue.
- Shapira also wrote that “gaps exist in regulating drone use” domestically and that his report is highlighting those gaps “in order to improve the response to the threat and to reduce the danger” posed by that threat.
-Reuters – Unknown – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Israel is planning to send tax bills within a year to internet companies Google and Facebook, financial newspaper TheMarker reported on Wednesday, joining efforts by several countries, including the European Union, to get the internet giants to pay more tax. The authority is now working on figuring out how to make its calculations.
- It will have to decide what percentage of the companies’ profits from their Israeli customers should be taxable in Israel.
-Reuters – Suleiman Al-Khlalidi – 11/15/2017
BLUF: The Syrian army backed by Russian jets on Wednesday stepped up shelling and air strikes on a besieged rebel-held enclave in Damascus a day after rebels stormed an army base in the area, rebels, a war monitor and residents said.
- The bombardment follows a surprise ground offensive by jihadist rebels on Tuesday on an army complex in the heart of the city’s Eastern Ghouta region that has defied opposition assaults since the start of the conflict.
-Anadolu Agency – Ilker Guder – 11/16/2017
BLUF: A trilateral meeting on Syria between Turkey, host Russia, and Iran will be held on Nov. 22 in the Black Sea city of Sochi, a Turkish presidential source said Thursday. The participants from Ankara, Moscow and Tehran will discuss developments in Syria and the recent state of the region, the source said.
- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take part in the meeting.
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is also expected to attend the Putin-hosted gathering, the source added.
-ABC News – Patrick Reevell – 11/16/2017
BLUF: The World Anti-Doping Agency, the top international body overseeing anti-drug efforts in sports, has ruled that Russia remains “non-compliant” with its code, harming the country’s chances of competing in the Winter Olympics this February in South Korea.
- At a meeting in South Korea’s capital on Thursday, WADA announced that it was unable to reinstate Russia’s national anti-doping agency, RUSADA, which was suspended after Russia was found to have run a massive state-sponsored coverup of doping by its athletes.
-ABC News – Ciaran Giles and Joseph Wilson – 11/15/2017
BLUF: The fugitive leader of Catalonia’s secessionist movement said Wednesday that he will repeat as his party’s leading candidate in upcoming elections for the Spanish region while he fights extradition from Belgium. Carles Puigdemont told El Punt-Avui television from Brussels that he is handpicking a list of candidates to run under him in Dec. 21 elections for Catalonia’s regional parliament, which were called by Spain’s national government after the region’s legislators voted to declare independence.
- He said that the list, running under the name “Together For Catalonia” (Junts pel Catalunya), will include members from his Democratic Party of Catalonia (PDeCAT) and some independents without a background in politics.
-Daily Sabah – Unknown – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Turkey and Qatar signed several cooperation agreements during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to capital Doha on Wednesday. The agreements included a memorandum of understanding on central banking, tourism and judicial education; a declaration of intention in the meteorological field; cooperation agreements on “friendly harbors” and “criminal subjects” as well as media, technology and humanitarian assistance issues.
- Turkey backs Qatar in the Gulf crisis that was triggered in June when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the U.A.E. and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar.
-The Moscow Times – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: President Vladimir Putin spoke with leaders of the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine Wednesday, urging them to exchange prisoners with the Ukrainian government. Viktor Medvedchuk, Ukraine native and Putin’s close friend, urged the Russian leader on Wednesday to ask the Donetsk and Luhansk leaders for a prisoner swap. The separatist leaders broadly supported Medvedchuk’s initiative, according to the Kremlin’s statement later in the day.
- The state-run TASS news agency cited the Kremlin’s spokesperson as saying that the Putin held talks with Alexander Zakharchenko of the Donetsk region and Igor Plotnitsky in Luhansk.
-Interfax-Ukraine – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: The European Union has noted progress in implementing reforms in Ukraine, but stressed the need for their acceleration, according to the 2nd Joint Association Implementation Report on Ukraine produced by the European External Action Service and the European Commission. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that there had been a number of long-awaited achievements since last year’s report. In particular, the Association Agreement entered into force, and Ukrainian citizens were granted visa-free travel for short stay visits to the Schengen area, but the implementation of reforms needs to be accelerated.
- The report notes that the year 2017 also witnessed important legislative developments in areas such as the electricity market, energy efficiency, environment, education and decentralization.
- Furthermore, key reforms such as pensions, healthcare and food safety were initiated.
-The Guardian – Larry Elliott – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Signs that Britain’s long employment boom has come to an end emerged on Wednesday as official figures showed a drop in the number of people in work, a fall in full-time employment and a decline in the number of job vacancies. The ONS said the number of people employed had fallen by 14,000 in the three months to September to just over 32 million.
- While the number of people in work was still up by 279,000 on a year ago, the ONS said it was the first fall since the slight reduction in the quarter ending in October 2016 and the biggest drop since the April to June period of 2015. The employment rate was cut from 75.1% to 75%.
-BBC News – Unknown – 11/15/2017
BLUF: One of the UK’s cyber-defence chiefs has accused Russia of having attacked Britain’s media, telecommunications and energy sectors over the past year. Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), added that Russia was “seeking to undermine the international system”.
- The Russian Embassy in London said it was concerned the assertions were misleading.
-Department of Defense – Unknown – 11/15/2017
CONTRACT: Iron Mountain Solutions,* Madison, Alabama, has been awarded a $7,018,280 modification (000011) to foreign military sales (Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Sweden, Egypt, Slovakia, Tunisia, and Brazil) contract W31P4Q-17-A-0001 for technical support for the Utility Helicopter Project Office. Work will be performed in Madison, Alabama, with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2018. Fiscal 2018 foreign military sales funds in the amount of $7,018,280 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity
-The Local Italy – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Italy has defended its policy on blocking migrants in Libya, saying the deal, denounced as “inhumane” by the UN, was essential to stop boat departures towards Europe. “The alternative cannot be to resign ourselves to the impossibility of managing migratory flows and hand human traffickers the keys to European democracies,” Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said on Wednesday.
- On Tuesday the United Nations lambasted the EU’s policy – led by Italy – of helping the Libyan authorities intercept migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to “horrific” prisons in Libya.