Friday, July 21, 2017

White House Shakes Up Its Communications Team

The Hill: Spicer resigns as WH spokesman

White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday after President Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as his new communications director.

Spicer confirmed his resignation on Twitter, saying he would remain in his post through next month.

"It's been an honor & a privilege to serve @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & this amazing country. I will continue my service through August," he wrote.

The New York Times was the first to report the news.

Trump requested that Spicer stay on, but Spicer declined to do so and told the president that hiring Scaramucci was a major mistake, the Times reported.

Spicer told The Washington Post he will stay in his post for a couple of weeks to assist with the transition and when he leaves, he will "continue to advance the president's agenda."

He was scheduled to make his first post-resignation television appearance on Friday with pro-Trump Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Read more ....

WNU editor: Cannot say that I am surprised. Within a month of President Trump's inauguration .... critics of the White House's media strategy were consistently blunt on what needed to be changed ... and replacing the communications team and White House spokesman Sean Spicer was on the top of their list. I also recall listening to conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham (who I thought was going to get the WH spokesperson slot) .... more or less predicted that this was going to happen in February. As to what happens next .... this sums it up .... The new White House communications director will bring the storm Trump wants (Business Insider). As to the question .... is this the right approach President Trump for take? I do not know .... I just hope that they will continue to provide the news that we as consumers like to have access to.

U.S. To Ban Americans On Travelling To North Korea

L.A. Times: State Department to ban Americans from travelling to North Korea

The State Department said Friday it will prohibit U.S. citizens from traveling to North Korea starting late next month, citing the risk of arrest and imprisonment by the authoritarian regime.

The move follows the death of an American student last month who was imprisoned for nearly 18 months in Pyongyang before he was flown home to Ohio in a coma.

The State Department long has advised Americans not to visit but the decision by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flatly bars use of U.S. passports "to travel in, through, or to North Korea," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Several hundred Americans visit North Korea each year on tour groups that specialize in the country. Some aid workers, journalists and academics also travel there.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The U.S. Will Banning Americans From Travelling To North Korea

North Korea tourism: US to ban Americans from visiting -- BBC
U.S. State Dept to ban American travel to North Korea -- Reuters
State Department: U.S. to block Americans from traveling to North Korea -- Washington Post
US to ban Americans from visiting North Korea -- DW
US to bar Americans from traveling to North Korea -- ABC news
U.S. Bars Travel to North Korea After Student Visitor's Death -- Bloomberg

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Hints That The U.S. Wants Regime Change In North Korea

CNN: CIA chief signals desire for regime change in North Korea

Washington (CNN)CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday evening offered some of the most aggressive comments yet from the Trump administration with regard to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has in the past said the US was against forcing Kim out of power or the collapse of his government, Pompeo said that the administration needed to find a way to separate Kim from his growing nuclear stockpile.

"It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today," Pompeo said in a discussion moderated by conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens at the Aspen Security Forum.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If true .... this is a major shift away from what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been saying for the past few months.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Hints That The U.S. Wants Regime Change In North Korea

The CIA director just dropped some heavy hints that the US is looking into regime change in North Korea -- Business Insider
CIA chief 'hopeful' for change in North Korea -- The Hill
CIA Director: The North Koreans Would Love To See Kim Jong Un Go -- Newsweek

CIA Director Mike Pompeo: 'Moscow Loves To ‘Stick It To America'

RT: ‘Russians find any place they can make our lives more difficult’ – CIA chief

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has downplayed Russia’s role in the Syrian operation, saying there is only “the most minimal evidence” that Russia is pursuing a serious strategy there.

US-Russian relations cannot be unambiguously characterized, the US intelligence chief said at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday. While stating that the landscape in Syria has “fundamentally changed” since Russia entered into the country, he said that its interests are not the same as America’s.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia's foreign minister responds .... Lavrov: CIA Chief's Claims of Russian US Election Meddling Goes Beyond Reason (Sputnik).

More News On CIA Director Mike Pompeo

CIA director: Moscow loves to ‘stick it to America’ -- AP
‘Russians find any place they can make our lives more difficult’ – CIA chief -- RT
WikiLeaks wants to ‘take down America any way they can,’ says CIA chief -- Washington Times
CIA Director Pompeo slams NY Times for outing covert officer -- FOX News
CIA chief promises fundamental policy shift toward Iran -- Tehran Times
CIA Director Pompeo’s views on Wikileaks have apparently evolved -- MSNBC
CIA director: 'I don't love' Wikileaks -- The Hill
CIA Director Mike Pompeo: 'Of course' Russia interfered in the 2016 election, 'and the one before that' -- Washington Examiner
RT and Sputnik are thrifty but effective propaganda tools, says CIA head -- RT

Chinese Warships Arrive In The Baltics For Drills With The Russian Navy

The Telegraph: US 'closely tracking' as Chinese navy in the Baltics for war games with Russia

Chinese warships will join Vladimir Putin’s navy in the Baltic Sea on Friday ahead of war games which are being watched closely by Western powers.

The drills, which are a sign of both the growing reach of the Chinese military and closer strategic ties between Moscow and Beijing, kick off a busy summer of drills by Russia in eastern Europe which have raised alarm in Washington.

China’s most advanced guided-missile destroyers are expected to arrive in the Russian enclave of Kalingrad on Friday before taking to the seas with a Russian flotilla on Monday for exercises that will run until July 31.

Read more ....

More News On Chinese Warships Arriving In The Baltics For Drills With The Russian Navy

China in Baltic navy drill with Russia -- BBC
China's navy expands reach: Ships in Baltic for drills with Russia -- CNN
Chinese ships heading for joint exercises with Russia in the Baltic Sea -- UPI
Chinese Naval Group To Sail The Baltic Sea At Same Time As Russian Armada -- The Drive
China sends advanced warships to the Baltic Sea for war games with Russia -- Straits Times
The Chinese Are Coming! Joint Moscow-Beijing Exercise Scares Scandinavia -- Sputnik
Chinese Navy warships arrive in Russian Baltic port for joint drills -- TASS
Chinese military vessels enter Russia’s Baltic for 1st time as joint drills kick off -- RT
Joint China-Russia naval maneuvers not aimed at anyone, expert says --
Chinese naval fleet arrives in Russia for joint drill -- Xinhuanet

World News Briefs -- July 21, 2017

DW: Palestinian protests over Jerusalem Temple Mount site turn deadly

Two Palestinians have been reported killed in protests in Jerusalem over restrictions at Haram al-Sharif, also known as Temple Mount. Israel caused outrage by installing metal detectors at the holy site.

The Palestinian protests - triggered by tensions over the placement of metal detectors at a Jerusalem holy site - turned into clashes in which two men were shot dead on Friday.

News of the deaths came from the Palestinian health ministry. The ministry also said at least 20 people were hospitalized from rubber bullet wounds and tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli police.

Security forces have prohibited Palestinian men under the age of 50 from entering Jerusalem's Old City for Friday Muslim prayers, but allowed women of all ages.

Read more ....


Al-Aqsa: Palestinians killed as Jerusalem protests rage. Palestinian killed as Israel restricts access to Jerusalem's Old City. 3 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

US official: IS putting up stiff resistance in Syria’s Raqqa.

Jihadists battle rebels for control of key Syria province.

Hezbollah, Syria army launch attack on Lebanon border.

Mosul's Christians face dilemma after Islamic State.

Yemen's cholera epidemic is worst on record: Oxfam.

UN blames Saudi-led coalition for deadly Yemen strike.

Police hit crowd with tear gas in more clashes at Jerusalem mosque.


Indian troops open fire on Kashmir protesters, killing one.

IS galvanized in Asia by Philippine city siege, report says.

No Korean military talks after North snubs South's call.

North Korean children face hunger amid worst drought since 2001.

N Korea economy grows at fastest rate in 17 years.

US to ban citizens from travel to North Korea, tour operators say.

Philippines freezes peace talks with communist rebels.

Pentagon blocks some Pakistan military payments.


Nigerian refugee camp hit by air strike was not marked on maps: military.

Mauritania referendum campaign starts under opposition boycott.

Congo's mining revenue 'missing' - Global Witness.

Kenya warns of social media crackdown ahead of polls.

Congo civil servants call strike over wages as crisis bites.

Angola adopts law limiting power of future presidents.

Namibia genocide victims battle for compensation.

Burundi relying on U.S. police to find missing robotics teenagers: official.


Several Ukrainian troops killed in worst violence for months.

Germany sends Turkey carefully calibrated warning signal.

Moldova calls on Russia to withdraw troops from breakaway region.

Strong earthquake hits Greece, Turkey. Earthquake in Turkey and Greece leaves at least two dead in Kos.

Russian parliament bans use of proxy Internet services, VPNs.

Support for Catalan independence slips as referendum nears.

Kosovo indicts four for 2004 killing of two U.N. policemen.


Two left dead as Venezuela strike erupts into violence. Venezuela crisis: Deadly clashes as millions join strike.

Trump legal team gets shake-up as investigation deepens.

Mueller expands probe to Trump business transactions.

Trump's FBI nominee passes committee, heads to full Senate.

New Hawaii campaign to help residents plan for North Korea attack.

Canadian military helping exhausted police officers dealing with B.C. fires.

'People are getting poorer': hunger and homelessness as Brazil crisis deepens.


Growing number of potential Islamist terrorists in Germany: police chief.

How many fighters does the Islamic State still have in Libya?

Qatar changes anti-terror legislation amid Gulf crisis.


FTC probing allegations of Amazon's deceptive discounting.

What drug-dealing ‘darknet’ sites have in common with eBay.

Mastercard £14bn 'overcharge' legal action fails.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 21, 2017

Reuters: U.S. general says allies worry Russian war game may be 'Trojan horse'

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. allies in eastern Europe and Ukraine are worried that Russia's planned war games in September could be a "Trojan horse" aimed at leaving behind military equipment brought into Belarus, the U.S. Army's top general in Europe said on Thursday.

Russia has sought to reassure NATO that the military exercises will respect international limits on size, but NATO and U.S. official remain wary about their scale and scope.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who heads U.S. Army forces in Europe, told Reuters in an interview that allied officials would keep a close eye on military equipment brought in to Belarus for the Zapad 2017 exercise, and whether it was removed later.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 21, 2017

Defense leaders brief Trump on Afghanistan, ISIS fight at Pentagon -- The Hill

Analyst: North Korea submarine deployment could mean SLBM test -- UPI

U.S. Navy chief asks Chinese counterpart for help on North Korea -- Reuters

South Korea considers its nuclear options -- UPI

Russia's Military Challenges US and China By Building a Missile That Makes Its Own Decisions -- Newsweek

Russia's New Military Plan Calls for Defense Against the US Across The "World Ocean" -- Newsweek

'Simply Mind-Blowing!': Russia's 5th-Gen T-50 Steals the Show at MAKS (VIDEO) -- Sputnik

Russia completes first stage of 5th-generation fighter jet’s trials -- TASS

Everything You Need to Know About Russia's New Sukhoi Su-30SM1 Fighter -- National Interest

Russia to develop artillery reconnaissance drone — source -- TASS

High-Precision Cruise Missiles to be Core of Russian Navy's Weaponry by 2025 -- Sputnik

Chinese military vessels enter Russia’s Baltic for 1st time as joint drills kick off -- RT

Chinese ships heading for joint exercises with Russia in the Baltic Sea -- UPI

The Chinese Are Coming! Joint Moscow-Beijing Exercise Scares Scandinavia -- Sputnik

Taiwan scrambles jets to monitor military planes from mainland China in air defence zone -- SCMP/AP

What Are China's Military Ambitions? -- Esquire

New anti-ship missile tipped for Japanese fighters -- UPI

Amid Brexit, Germany and UK to expand defense cooperation -- Defense News

Germany continues war of words with Turkey, reviews arms sales -- DW

U.S. general urges more German spending to ease military transit -- Reuters

BAE starts construction of first Type 26 frigate fro the British Royal Navy -- UPI

F-35B helmet's night-vision camera failed during test flight -- Marine Times

SOCOM Is Looking For Better Eyes And Ears For US Commandos -- Task & Purpose

USAF, USN Still Struggle With Aircraft Oxygen Woes -- Joseph Trevithick, The War Zone

House briefed on anti-ISIS campaign progress -- The Hill

US Awards $133Mln for Base Operations Support in Iraq - Pentagon -- Sputnik

US Senators ask for Syria policy study in defense bill -- The Hill

Senate panel approves five Trump Pentagon picks -- The Hill

‘Russians find any place they can make our lives more difficult’ – CIA chief -- RT

House to consider GI expansion bill next week -- The Hill

Families of Slain Green Berets Demand Further Justice from Jordan --

Mattis Turns to Tech Advisers for Help to Modernize Military -- Sandra Erwin, RCD

Navy's Hypervelocity Railgun Could Be A Gamechanger -- If Congress Funds It -- Loren Thompson, Forbes

Top U.S. General Voices His Fears On The Rise Of 'Killer Robots'

The Hill: Top US general warns against rogue killer robots

The second-highest-ranking general in the U.S. military on Tuesday warned lawmakers against equipping the armed forces with autonomous weapons systems that humans could lose control of and advocated for keeping the "ethical rules of war" in place.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Gen. Paul Selva responded to a question from Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) about a Defense Department directive that requires a human operator to be involved in the decision-making process when it comes to taking lives with autonomous weapons systems.

Selva warned lawmakers that the military should keep "the ethical rules of war in place lest we unleash on humanity a set of robots that we don't know how to control."

Read more ....

Update #1: Sentient killer robots could go rogue, warns top US general (International Business Times)
Update #2: Sentient killer war robots could turn on humans and must NOT be 'unleashed' on the battlefield, warns top US general (Daily Mail)

WNU Editor: General Paul Selva's testimony begins at the 35 minute mark in the above video.

Syrian Rebels Feel Abandoned By The U.S.

Thousands of FSA rebels were trained in a covert CIA programme in Turkey and Jordan.

Reuters: Syria rebels blindsided by U.S. move, say jihadists to benefit

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebels said on Thursday a U.S. decision to halt a covert CIA program of military aid would mark a big blow to the Syrian opposition and risked allowing jihadists to tighten their grip over the insurgency.

Rebels who have received aid under the CIA program said they had yet to be informed of the U.S. decision first reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday and confirmed by two U.S. officials to Reuters.

A Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said the U.S. decision risked triggering the collapse of the moderate opposition, which would benefit President Bashar al-Assad and jihadists linked to al Qaeda that have long sought to extinguish more moderate groups.

Other rebel sources said much would depend on whether U.S.-allied regional states Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey kept up their support to groups fighting under the FSA banner, which had been the focus of the CIA program.

Read more ....

Update : In Syria, the U.S. Reverses Course (Stratfor)

WNU editor: President Trump's critics are saying that this decision dooms the Syrian rebel movement .... Trump’s CIA Decision Dooms Syrian Rebels (US News and World Report), and that it is a win for Russia/Iran/and Assad of Syria .... Analysis: Trump's cutoff of aid to Syrian rebels marks victory for Assad, Russia and Iran (Oren Dorell, USA TODAY). I say the opposite .... U.S. assistance was too late and inconsistent to begin with, the Syrian rebel movement itself was (and is) deeply fragmented, and for Syria/Iran/and Russia .... they are now involved in a quagmire that will take years (if ever) to quiet down. This Washington Post analysis gives a good explanation on why this CIA program did not only fail, but probably caused more problems than good .... What the demise of the CIA’s anti-Assad program means (David Ignatius, Washington Post).

The Islamic State Is Reinventing Itself For Guerrilla Warfare

An ISIS militant carrying the regime's flag in a propaganda video. Twitter

Reuters: 'We have tougher days coming': ISIS is reinventing itself for guerrilla warfare

MOSUL (Reuters) - Islamic State militants began reinventing themselves months before U.S.-backed Iraqi forces ended their three-year reign of terror in Mosul, putting aside the dream of a modern-day caliphate and preparing the ground for a different fight.

Intelligence and local officials said that, a few months ago, they noticed a growing stream of commanders and fighters flowing out of the city to the Hamrin mountains in northeast Iraq which offer hideouts and access to four Iraqi provinces.

Some were intercepted but many evaded security forces and began setting up bases for their new operations.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: We are going to find out in the coming months/years if the Iraqi security forces are capable of taking on an insurgency with sleeper cells and small units of militants who pop out of deserts and mountains, carry out attacks and melt away. My money is on them being able to do so .... and the reason why is that their rules of engagement .... while brutal from our perspective .... will work to pacify populations who have no interest to repeat this cycle of violence again. After decades of war and conflict .... much of the Sunni population in Iraq is going to accept this new reality (albeit reluctantly) .... and this is how insurgencies end .... when a war-weary population has to make that choice of continuous warfare and chaos, or accepting a form of peace and stability. In the end .... peace and stability is always preferable.

TIME: President Obama Approved A Plan That Included Deploying Armed Federal Officers If Election-Day Interference Had Caused Widespread Disruption In The 2016 Vote

Time: Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s U.S. Election Plot

Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin was at his desk on June 7, 2016, when the calls started coming in. It was the day of the California presidential primary, and upset voters wanted the county's top prosecutor to know that they had been prevented from casting their ballots. "There were people calling our office and filing complaints that they had tried to vote and that their registration had been changed unbeknownst to them," says Hestrin. Soon there were more than 20 reports of trouble, and Hestrin, a 19-year veteran of the office and a graduate of Stanford Law School, dispatched investigators to county polling places to see what was going on.

At first what they found was reassuring. Everyone who had been blocked from voting had been offered a provisional ballot, and most had cast their votes that way. But as the investigators dug deeper, things looked less innocuous. In the days after the vote, more people started coming forward to say they'd also had problems with their voter registration on primary day. In at least half a dozen cases, Hestrin and his investigators concluded, the changes had been made by hackers who had used private information, like Social Security or driver's-license numbers, to access the central voter-registration database for the entire state of California.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What this leaked document is saying is that the U.S. federal government .... on the authority of the President .... would institute a form of "martial law" if election day interference had caused widespread disruption in the 2016 vote. Scary stuff if you ask me .... because I can only imagine the chaos and anger if the U.S. vote was suspended in such a manner.

On a side note .... the best voting system that I have come across is the Canadian election-voting system. People go door to door to register you to vote every few years. When an election is called everyone who is on the registration rolls gets a notice that they are on it .... if you are not you go to the registration office with proper ID and proof that you live in the riding where you are then put on the roll. On election day you show-up with a valid (federally recognised) photo-Id, given a paper ballot where you can mark your vote and then put in a box to be counted manually later with reps from the parties involved in the vote being present. Unfortunately .... the way it is in the U.S. .... photo-ID/proof of residence/etc. .... what is common sense to me is treated as discrimination or worse in the U.S..

More News On President Obama's Plan To Deploy Armed Federal Officers If Election-Day Interference Had Caused Widespread Disruption In The 2016 Vote

Exclusive: Read the Previously Undisclosed Plan to Counter Russian Hacking on Election Day -- Time
Obama's Secret Plan to Deploy the Military on Election Day -- FOX News
Obama's Election Day Plan For Russian Hacking Included Military Option: Report -- International Business Times
Obama White House drew up plan for armed federal officers at polling places over fears of a Russian cyber attack on election day -- Daily Mail
Obama administration considered deploying military to counter Election Day cyberattacks: Report -- Washington Times
Obama was ready to send armed guards to polling places in the event of an Election Day cyberattack -- Washington Examiner
Leaked Obama Plan To Fight Election-Day Meddling Included 'Martial Law' -- Zero Hedge
Denis McDonough defends Obama’s Russia hacking response in op-ed -- Politico

Su-35 Flight Demo At Russia's MAKS 2017 Airshow Outside Of Moscow Wows Everyone

Defense Tech: WATCH: Russia’s Su-35 Wows Crowds at MAKS and Beyond

Russia’s Su-35 fighter jet wowed crowds this week at the MAKS 2017 airshow outside Moscow, according to multiple reports on social media.

The twin-engine aircraft designed by Sukhoi carrying the NATO reporting name Flanker-E performed feats of aerial acrobatics that stunned even longtime aviation enthusiasts on social media.

“I mean, come on,” Stephen Trimble, aviation reporter and editor for Flightglobal’s Americas bureau, tweeted Thursday after seeing footage of the aircraft’s demonstration. “And people actually thought the F-35A display at Paris last month was impressive. This isn’t impressive. It’s unbelievable.”

Others described the maneuvers as “insane” and “against the laws of physics,” and said they’ll “make your head explode.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is an update from my earlier post at 2:00 AM. In a dogfight I have trouble seeing how the F-35 can even come close to matching this. For an explanation of all the manoeuvres conducted in the above video go here .... This Su-35 Flight Demo Will Make Your Head Explode (Popular Mechanics)

Hat tip to Fred for the Defense tech link.

Editor's Note

The past week has probably been the best week that this blog has ever had for traffic .... and most are from new visitors. I do not know why .... but I am truly humbled by all of this attention. Thank you.

This Is So Cool!

Tweets For Today

How A North Korean Nuclear Attack On The US Would Play Out

A man and a child watch as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base Thomson Reuters

Alex Lockie, Business Insider: Here's how a North Korean nuclear attack on the US would play out

After North Korea shocked the world on July 4 by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, the US has picked up the pace and urgency of ballistic missile defense despite major flaws in existing systems and tactics.

US plans in the event of a North Korean missile attack would center around spotting the launches early on and prepare to intercept them.

The US has had plans since 2013 to have 44 missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California by the end of 2017, and North Korea would need at least that long to perfect the missiles for its attack.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Alex Lockie is optimistic that the worst case scenario is not going to happen .... I hope he is right.

Picture Of The Day

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
President Donald J. Trump speaks to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and members of the National Security Council during a meeting at the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

WNU Editor: The above picture is from the U.S. Department's Flickr album .... Trump Meets With Defense, Security Leaders at Pentagon (US Department of Defense).

Is North Korea Preparing A Missile Test From A Submarine?


Newsweek: North Korea's Next Missile Test Could be Launched From a Submarine

North Korea may be preparing for another missile launch aimed at the United States.

Kim Jong Un’s regime conducted its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on July 4—Independence Day in the U.S.—with some experts speculating that the missile could reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii, or even the Pacific Northwest.

And now the totalitarian regime appears to be preparing for submarine-based missile launches in the future.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This could be nothing .... or it could be something .... Unusual level of North Korean submarine activity detected  (Economic Times)

More News On Reports That North Korea Is Preparing A Missile test From A Submarine?

Sinpo South Shipyard: Preparations for a New SLBM Test? -- 38 North
Satellite photos reveal North Korea preparing for another ballistic missile launch --
North Korea likely to conduct another missile test in 14 days: US intelligence -- Financial Express
N. Korea Preparing For Another Ballistic Missile Test in Two Weeks -- Defense World
US intelligence shows North Korean preparations for a possible missile test -- CNN
‘Unusual Activity’ Detected in North Korea May Indicate Submarine Missile Test -- Sputnik