Sunday, December 17, 2017

President Trump To Remove ‘Climate Change’ From The List of National Security Threats


Daily Mail: Trump 'will REMOVE climate change from the list of national security threats': President 'set to reverse Obama's policy so he can prioritize other threats'

* President Trump is said to have removed climate change as a priority from his National Security Strategy
* In previous years, the issue was placed prominently among other threats to the country
* In Trump's version due to be released on Monday, it is less emphasized
* He focuses his climate policies instead towards global economic growth and energy security
* It falls in line with the president's stance on global climate policy and follows his decision earlier this year to withdraw the US from The Paris Agreement
* The US is now the only country in the world which is not participating in the agreement
* As Trump finalized his Strategy this week, 50 world leaders met in Brussels to discuss climate change

President Trump has removed climate change from his National Security Strategy which is due to be released on Monday, it has been claimed.

The Federalist, which claims to have had access to a draft version of the document, says it will prioritize other threats instead.

Any mention of climate policies is angled not towards global warming but instead is tied to economic growth and energy security.

Read more ....

Update: Trump Admin To Remove Climate Change From List Of National Security Threats -- The Federalist

Peru’s President Facing Impeachment Vote



New York Times: Peru’s President Faces Possible Ouster in Corruption Scandal

LIMA, Peru — Lawmakers voted on Friday to begin proceedings that could oust President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru, the latest leader accused of involvement in a corruption scandal that has shaken some of Latin America’s biggest countries.

The dispute involves Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction giant, which last year admitted to paying roughly $800 million in payoffs in exchange for lucrative projects. That revelation set off a flurry of investigations by prosecutors and lawmakers, principally in Latin America, seeking to learn who was on the receiving end of the payments.

According to documents sent to Congress and released this week, Odebrecht paid $782,000 in advisory fees to Westfield Capital, a company Mr. Kuczynski owns. Most of the payments occurred between 2004 and 2007, while Mr. Kuczynski served as Peru’s economy minister and prime minister.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The votes are there for him to be impeached.

More News On Peru’s President Facing An Impeachment Vote

Peru Odebrecht scandal: President Kuczynski faces impeachment -- BBC
Peru launches impeachment proceedings against President Kuczynski -- Los Angeles Times
Peru's congress launches process for president's ouster -- Washington Post
Peru President Kuczynski faces impeachment over graft scandal -- Deutsche Welle
Peruvian officials begin impeachment process against president Kuczynski -- The Guardian
Peru president rejects demands he resign over corruption allegations -- AFP
Odebrecht says dealings with Peru president were legitimate -- Reuters

This Stealth Drone Has No Moving Surfaces at All

BAE Systems

Popular Mechanics: New Stealth Drone Has No Moving Surfaces at All

The result is a lighter, simpler, stealthier airplane harder for radar to detect.

BAE Systems has unveiled a new aircraft design that could be a major advance in stealth technology. The new MAGMA drone does away with aircraft control surfaces, resulting in an aircraft whose shape remains constant throughout its entire flight. The small demonstration aircraft, which has completed a successful first flight, uses blown air to change direction instead of complex mechanical controls.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If this can be applied to bigger aircraft, it will revolutionize how planes fly.

A Look At How The U.S. Navy's Zumwalt-Class Destroyers Could Be Used In A New Korean War

An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant over the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt. Flickr/U.S. Navy/Creative Commons.

Robert Farley, National Interest: Could North Korea 'Sink' America's New Zumwalt-Class Destroyers?

The USS Michael Monsoor, second of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, recently embarked on trials and will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in the next year. While neither the Monsoor nor its older sister Zumwalt are likely to be ready to contribute to a war on the Korean Peninsula in the near future, the crisis show no signs of abating. As tensions between the United States and North Korea grow, it’s worth asking what role the largest, most lethal destroyers in the U.S. arsenal might play in the conflict.

In the first Korean War, the United States Navy used all four of its Iowa-class battleships, along with several gun-armed heavy cruisers, to bombard North Korean positions along the coast. This usage built upon the Navy’s experience during World War II, when heavy-gun-armed ships engaged in fire support during amphibious operations, and bombardment against Japanese coastal installations. While the operations against Korea were regarded as successful, they were not decisive; the Iowas could not strike at sufficient depth to disrupt Chinese and North Korean logistics. Still, the concept of attacks from the sea against land targets were deeply compelling to U.S. planners, as the U.S. Navy generally expected to have command of the sea.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If the US Navy wants to use this destroyer in any future conflict, they will have to overcome this problem .... Does The U.S. Navy's Newest Destroyer Really Need Shells For Its 'Big Guns'? (November 20, 2016).

SU-30 Pilot Who Provided Escort For Russian President Putin's Plane Explains That Their Job Is To Attract Possible Enemy Missiles With Their Engine's Heat Signature



RT: Su-30 pilot who covered Putin’s plane in Syria: Jets were ‘heat traps’ for possible enemy missiles

One of the Su-30SM pilots who covered Vladimir Putin’s plane on his recent trip to Syria opened up on the mission. The jets were “heat traps” ready to take possible enemy missiles upon themselves, he said.

“In this case, the task was to meet [the Russian President’s plane] and escort it to the landing strip,” a pilot named Yury told a Rossiya 1 correspondent at the Russian Khmeimim airbase in western Syria. “One of the tasks was to hereby cover it with ourselves, roughly saying,” he added.

Read more .....

WNU Editor: In short .... their job is to take the missile hit.

Tweets For Today





Miss Iraq Flees Iraq Over Selfie With Miss Israel



New York Post: Miss Iraq forced to flee over selfie with Miss Israel

So much for diplomacy by selfie.

Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, and her family had to flee their homeland after receiving death threats over a photo she posted online last month.

Why? Because Idan posed with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, at a Miss Universe International Beauty Pageant, the Times of Israel reported.

Idan came under fire for posting the photo to Instagram, captioned, “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” in addition to modeling a bikini.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What did Miss Iraq expected?

Picture Of The Day

Undercover Israeli security personnel detain a Palestinian demonstrator during clashes at a protest against President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Photos Of The Week (Reuters).

Watch The Loading Of A Russian Yars Nuclear Missile Into It's Silo? (Video)



RT: Delicate job: Russian Yars ICBM loaded into underground shaft (VIDEO)

A missile unit in Kozelsk is the first in Russia being armed with stationary Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles, with the Defense Ministry releasing unique footage of a 50-ton ICBM being loaded into the underground shaft.

The video shows the transportation of the giant missile, which is capable of destroying an entire city. The truck carrying the ICBM was accompanied by police, firemen, several APCs and military vehicle

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is not everyday that you see something like this.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Who Will Rebuild Raqqah?



Alexandra Zavis, L.A. Times: Islamic State’s self-styled capital is in ruins and its population scattered. Who will rebuild Raqqah?

The crowd was seething with frustration.

“We want to go inside!” one man yelled. “They told us when Raqqah is liberated we can go home.”

Some of the U.S.-backed fighters who drove Islamic State militants from the Syrian city in October tried to reason with him. It’s not safe, they said. Scores of people have been injured or killed by mines since the fighting ended.

“Haram!” the crowd shouted. “This is wrong!”

There have been many such testy exchanges at checkpoints as the fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, wrestle with the difficult business of governing a swath of territory reclaimed from Islamic State in northeastern Syria.

The challenges are especially acute in the city that Islamic State claimed as its capital and ruled with a bloodthirsty grip. Nearly two months after its capture, Raqqah remains a rubble-strewn ghost town.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As the above drone video images show .... there is nothing left of the city. It will take years and untold amounts of money to rebuild this city .... and there is no guarantee that the pre-war population may even return.

Recent B-52 Mission Over Afghanistan Dropped A Record-Setting Number Of Precision Munitions


Business Insider/American Military News: A B-52 in Afghanistan dropped the most bombs ever from a single Stratofortress

* A B-52 Stratofortress dropped a record-setting number of precision munitions in Afghanistan.
* The B-52s from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron are the first to be outfitted with the conventional rotary launcher.
* Since the new Afghan strategy to target Taliban drug labs, 25 drug processing labs have been destroyed.

A B-52 Stratofortress dropped a record-setting number of precision munitions by a single Stratofortress by using the “conventional rotary launcher” during a strike on Taliban drug labs.

The B-52s from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron are the first to be outfitted with the conventional rotary launcher (CRL), allowing it to hold eight additional precision-guided munitions (PGMs) in its weapons bays.

“Combined with PGMs carried on the wing pylons, the CRL allowed the B-52 to carry more PGMs than any previous mission,” Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told the Washington Examiner. “These guided munitions allowed us to effectively destroy the targets while mitigating the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The B-52 is about to get even more deadlier .... The B-52 Bomber Will Soon Be Able to Carry 66 Percent More Bombs (The National Interest).

More News On A Recent B-52 Mission Over Afghanistan Dropping A Record-Setting Number Of Precision Munitions

Combat Mission Sets New B-52 Smart Bomb Record -- Military.com

US B-52 Sets New Record for Most Smart Bombs Dropped Against Enemy in One Mission -- The Western Journal
The B-52’s Devastating New Weapons Upgrade Is Already Kicking Ass In The Middle East -- Task & Purpose

Chinese Government Officials And Security Experts: China Must Be Ready For A War On The Korean Peninsula

North Korean soldiers stand guard behind the national flags of China, front, and North Korea on a boat anchored along the banks of the Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, on June 10, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Jacky Chen

SCMP: ‘North Korea is a time bomb’: government advisers urge China to prepare for war

The risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula is the highest its been in decades and Beijing must mobilise resources for fallout, observers say.

China must be ready for a war on the Korean peninsula, with the risk of conflict higher than ever before, Chinese government advisers and a retired senior military officer warned on Saturday.

Beijing, once seen as Pyongyang’s key ally with sway over its neighbour, was losing control of the situation, they warned.

“Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” said Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong, who also advises the State Council, China’s cabinet.

Shi said US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were locked in a vicious cycle of threats and it was already too late for China to avert it. At best, Beijing could stall a full-blown conflict.

Read more ....

Update: China Must Prepare for Imminent War With North Korea, Top National Security Experts Warn (Newsweek)

WNU Editor: A year ago such talk from Chinese officials and experts was unthinkable. Today .... it is becoming more and more regular.

Is The Moscow-Beijing Alliance The Most Important In The World?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. © RIA Novosti. Sergei Guneev

TASS: Chinese envoy calls Moscow-Beijing ties most important in the world

They are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui said

MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui believes relations between Moscow and Beijing are the most important in the world.

"The Chinese-Russian relations of comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership are the most important bilateral relations in the world, and, moreover, the best relations between big countries," he told reporters on Wednesday at a TASS news conference dedicated to the results of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

"One can say that they are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations and an important force to protect peace and stability throughout the world," the diplomat added.

Read more ....

Update #1: China Snubs Trump, Says Russia Ties Best and Most Important in World -- Newsweek
Update #2: China snubs Trump, says Russia ties best and most important in world -- Vestnik Kavkaza

WNU Editor: As bilateral relations go, it is definitely one of the most important ties in the world.

President Trump To Accuse China Of 'Economic Aggression' On Monday's National Security Strategy Speech

U.S. President Donald Trump walks out from the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to Camp David, December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Reuters: Trump to say in security speech that China is competitor: officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will lay out a new U.S. national security strategy on Monday based on his “America First” policy and will, among other items, make clear that China is a competitor, two senior U.S. officials said on Saturday.

Trump has praised Chinese President Xi Jinping while also demanding that Beijing increase pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program and to change trade practices to make them more favorable to the United States.

The national security strategy, to be rolled out in a speech by Trump, should not be seen as an attempt to contain China but rather to offer a clear-eyed look at the challenges China poses, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The strategy, which was still being drafted, may also reverse Democratic President Barack Obama’s declaration in September 2016 that climate change is a threat to security, one official said.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump's National Security Strategy Speech (On Monday) Where He Will Be Accusing China Of 'Economic Aggression'

Trump to accuse China of 'economic aggression' -- Financial Times
Trump to accuse China of 'economic aggression': Financial Times -- CNBC
Trump Starts New War Against China Over 'Economic Aggression' -- Newsweek
The next battle: Trump to take on China -- Axios

What Happened To All The Foreign Islamic State Fighters?


AFP: Islamic State: What happened to all the foreign fighters?

Washington (AFP) - An estimated 40,000 people traveled from around the world to take up arms for the Islamic State group as it occupied territory in Syria and Iraq and declared a caliphate in 2014.

A few hundred are believed to still be fighting as IS struggles to survive, having lost most of its territory to campaigns by Western-backed Syrian and Iraqi coalition armies.

But what happened to the rest?

Many thousands were certainly killed in the intense fighting, but US experts believe many have survived, posing a formidable threat going ahead.

"The issue is: how many have died? How many are still there and willing to fight? How many have gone elsewhere to fight?" said Seth Jones, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation.

"How many have given up? I don't think we have a good answer."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A good number are dead. The rest are either hiding in Syria/Iraq or have joined rebel groups in Syria, have traveled back home, have traveled to join Islamic State offshoots elsewhere, or are now in a third country wondering on what to do next.

Who Won The War Against The Islamic State?

A Kurdish fighter keeps guard while overlooking positions of Islamic State militants near Mosul in northern Iraq August 19, 2014. Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

Newsweek: U.S. Military and Russia Clash Over Donald Trump’s Boast of Victory Over ISIS

Russia’s Defense Ministry has criticized the U.S. over what it claims are mixed messages about its fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Syria.

The Russian military was irked by President Donald Trump’s taking credit for defeating the Islamist group, while the military has maintained forces on the ground in Syria. Moscow’s blunt response came after Trump saluted U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis for doing a “fantastic job” in fighting the group last week and once again praised the U.S. “campaign to obliterate ISIS” during a defense budget signing on Tuesday. “As you know, we’ve won in Syria, we’ve won in Iraq. But they spread to other areas, and we’re getting them as fast as they spread,” Trump said.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has attempted to portray Moscow as the winner in the Syrian war, and his defense ministry took offense at Trump’s words, accusing U.S. defense chiefs of lying. Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, said the U.S. should either pull out of Syria or stop letting President Donald Trump claim victory.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These arguments never end. Who won the Second World War? Roosevelt? Stalin? Churchill? Soviet General Zhukov in Europe ... or is it General Eisenhower? US General MacArthur in Asia? And now who won the war against ISIS. Trump? Putin? Obama? Or is it this Iraqi General .... Bergen: It wasn't Trump but this general's elite soldiers who defeated ISIS (CNN).

This Is How The U.S. Navy Will Sink The Chinese Navy


James Holmes, National Interest: This Is the Navy's Master Plan to Kill China's Aircraft Carriers

Fortress China is festooned with airfields and mobile antiship weaponry able to strike hundreds of miles out to sea. Yes, the U.S. Navy remains stronger than the PLA Navy in open-sea battle. A fleet-on-fleet engagement isolated from shore-based reinforcements would probably go America’s way. But that hypothetical result may not make much difference since the two navies are more likely to join battle in confined Asian waters than on the open ocean.

Ah, yes, the “carrier-killer.” China is forever touting the array of guided missiles its weaponeers have devised to pummel U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs). Most prominent among them are its DF-21D and DF-26 antiship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has made a mainstay of China’s anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) defenses.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I say the U.S. Navy has the advantage for now, but decades from now the Chinese may have the edge when it comes to naval engagements in Asia. At least that is what the Chinese are hoping for.

The German Navy Does Not Have One Working Submarine

Image: A submarine at the German shipyard Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH in Kiel. Reuters/Fabian Bimmer.

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: Germany Does Not Have One Working Submarine

On October 15, the submarine U-35 was performing a diving maneuver off the Norwegian coast when one of the four fins on its X-shaped rudder struck a rock. The damage was severe enough it needed to be escorted back to Kiel by the testing ship Helmsand. The fifty-six-meter-long submarine would have to miss an international exercise in the Skagerrak Strait, scheduled for December.

Underwater collisions are a hazard of submarine operations. Both U.S. and Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarines have run aground in recent years. Repairs are often expensive and time-consuming. But spokesman Capt. Johannes Dumrese told a German publication in October that U-35’s accident had an extraordinary consequence.

On paper, the Deutsche Marine has six Type 212A submarines equipped with advanced air-independent propulsion, allowing ultraquiet operations submerged for over two weeks at a time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They many not have a working sub for the moment, but at least the German Navy has a cool frigate .... The Curious Case Of Germany's Massive New But Relatively Toothless Type 125 "Frigates" (Warzone/The Drive)

It Looks Like The A-10 Is Going To Fly For A Long Time



Task & Purpose: The A-10 Warthog Gets A Boost From Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson

After years of speculation surrounding the fate of the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” — and amid compounding budget pressures — the Air Force’s beloved light attack aircraft just picked up a major boost from current Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Dec. 11, the former Air Force officer reassured lawmakers that a multi-million-dollar A-10 wing production program to upgrade the wings on half the service’s A-10s, far from being a budget boondoggle, would keep the aircraft dominant against all manner of baddies— and Wilson added, with a smirk, “I happen to be a fan of the A-10.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This plane has proven itself more than once on why it is needed. And speaking of planes that have proven themselves more than once over the years .... The B-52 Bomber Will Soon Be Able to Carry 66 Percent More Bombs (National Interest).

In The Largest Of Its Kind Ever, 37 C-17 Globemaster III And 21 C-130 Hercules Airlifters Took Part In An Exercise Last Week

USAF

Warzone/The Drive: That Massive Cross-Country USAF Airlift Exercise Was the Largest of Its Kind, Ever

The service's latest Joint Forcible Entry Exercise looked like a particularly impressive spectacle, because it was.

Earlier in December 2017, Americans across the country looked up to see a steady stream of lights in the sky, which, as we were first to explain, was a huge formation of U.S. Air Force transport aircraft plodding their way to the Nevada Test and Training Range, or NTTR. But if the spectacle seemed particularly eye catching this time around, it’s because this particular iteration of what is known as a Joint Forcible Entry Exercise, or JFEX, was the largest one ever.

On the night of Dec. 9-10, 2017, a total of 37 C-17 Globemaster III and 21 C-130 Hercules airlifters took off for Nevada from a dozen bases around the United States as part of the capstone JFEX for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Integration phase’s Class 17B. The simulated mission was to get into enemy territory and drop U.S. Army paratroopers, who would then establish a presence on the ground. Additional aircraft, including F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, flew support missions against the mock opposing forces. In total, more than 100 planes were involved in the exercise, making the biggest of its kind, according to an official Air Force article.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Now that is one big exercise.

U.S. Air Force Has Started To Experiment And Conceptualize A 6th Generation Fighter Aircraft

Northrop Grumman

Scout Warrior: Air Force Starts Experiments for 6th Gen Fighter

The Air Force has begun experimenting and conceptual planning for a 6th generation fighter aircraft to emerge in coming years as a technological step beyond the F-35, service leaders said.

"We have started experimentation, developmental planning and technology investment," Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview earlier this year.

The new aircraft, engineered to succeed the 5th-generation F-35 Joint StrikeFighter and explode onto the scene by the mid 2030s, is now in the earliest stages of conceptual development with the Air Force and Navy. The two services are now working together on early conceptual discussions about the types of technologies and capabilities the aircraft will contain. While the Air Force has not yet identified a platform for the new aircraft.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is amazing how long it now takes to plan, conceptualize, experiment, develop, and manufacture these planes.

What Is Boeing's Mysterious Aircraft That Will Be Unveiled Next Week?


Warzone/The Drive: Boeing Defense Teases Mystery Aircraft Unveiling By Hiding It Under A Black Sheet

The strange teaser came on Twitter, showing a puzzling design that the company says will "change the future of air power."

Boeing Defense posted a provocative Tweet today showing what appears to be a new aircraft design under a big black sheet with the teaser "Robust? Check. Ready? Check. Changing future air power? Check it out! See the reveal 12/19! #PhantomWorks" on their Twitter account. Phantom Works is the company's secretive leading-edge design house that is modeled roughly on Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works.

New military aircraft unveils can come with all the glitz and glamour of a new car model unveil, but what's different here is there seems to be nothing definitively known about this new aircraft or its origins at this time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:
It s probably this .... Could "Phantom Swift" Be The Aircraft Boeing Defense Is Set To Reveal Next Week? (Warzone/The Drive).

Russia And N. Korea Are Eyeing Bitcoin Exchanges For Money Laundering

Some of Bitcoin enthusiast Mike Caldwell's coins and paper vouchers, often called "paper wallets", are pictured at his office in this photo illustration in Sandy, Utah, January 31, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Patrick Tucker, Defense One: Russia, N. Korea Eye Bitcoin for Money Laundering, Putting It on a Crash Course with Regulators

Thieves and sanctioned countries are targeting the digital currency’s exchanges, setting up a fight between governments and cryptocurrency powerhouses.

Bitcoin’s rising value got a further boost last week with the debut of the first futures trading. But the digital currency has also attracted the attention the interest of U.S. adversaries. A report out this week says that Russia is eying the currency as a means to bypass harsh sanctions levied by the United States and European governments, while North Koreans are suspected of trying to steal Bitcoins from South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. All this puts pressure on the U.S. government – and may ultimately hurt the cryptocurrency’s value.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I can understand why North Korea may be targeting South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges to steal bitcoins .... but the suggestion that Russia may be focusing on these exchanges to circumvent sanctions does not make sense to me. The Bitcoin bubble is just that .... a bubble .... and I for one would not want my assets in that bubble knowing all too well that what it may be worth today may be a radically different story tomorrow .... $19,000: Bitcoin Hits New All Time High After Burst Of Asian Buying; Bigger Than Wells, Wal-Mart (Zero Hedge).

The Pentagon Has A Secret Program To Search For UFOs

Luis Elizondo, who led the Pentagon effort to investigate U.F.O.s until October. He resigned to protest what he characterized as excessive secrecy and internal opposition to the program. Credit Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

New York Times: Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program

WASHINGTON — In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find.

Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

Read more ....

Update: The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs (Politico)

WNU Editor: Incidences like this one makes people wonder .... "Look at the thing" US Navy Jet Encounters Unknown Object (Video: New York Times/Department of Defense).

Has The White House Been 'Very Hard On Russia'?



Washington Examiner: White House: 'We've been very hard on Russia'

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that the Trump administration has been "very hard" on Russia.

“Look, I think we’ve been very hard on Russia from the beginning,” Sanders said at the daily White House press briefing.

“There have been sanctions, we’ve increased energy exportation from this country, and we’ve done things to put pressure on Russia, asking them to engage in a bigger and greater way on some of the common enemies we face,” she said.

President Trump signed a Russia sanctions bill in August, though he called it “seriously flawed” and issued a signing statement saying it only “purports” to impose certain rules the president can ignore.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The rhetoric has certainly been "rough and tough" .... Trump Adviser Calls Russia and China ‘Threats’ to U.S. Liberty (Bloomberg). But critics of the Trump administration do not see it that way .... 7 times Donald Trump man-crushed on Vladimir Putin (Jefferson Morley, Salon/Alternet). As to what is my opinion .... if it was not for U.S./EU sanctions, Russia's GDP would be 2% to 3% higher than what it is now ..... so yes .... U.S. actions have been hard even though President Trump did not initiate these measures (but he did sign onto it). But what I find interesting is that in the eyes of most Russians (including Putin) .... they do not blame Trump for this, and have given him a pass, as well as a pass when he is critical of the Kremlin.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: When It Comes To Corruption And Austerity Do What I Say Not What I Do

The Chateau Louis XIV is set in a 57-acre landscaped park. The developer bulldozed a 19th-century castle in Louveciennes to make way for the new chateau in 2009. Credit Charles Platiau/Reuters

New York Times: World’s Most Expensive Home? Another Bauble for a Saudi Prince

A $300 million chateau is one of a string of extravagant purchases for a prince who is cracking down on ill-gotten wealth and preaching fiscal austerity.

LOUVECIENNES, France — When the Chateau Louis XIV sold for over $300 million two years ago, Fortune magazine called it “the world’s most expensive home,” and Town & Country swooned over its gold-leafed fountain, marble statues and hedged labyrinth set in a 57-acre landscaped park. But for all the lavish details, one fact was missing: the identity of the buyer.

Now, it turns out that the paper trail leads to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the Saudi throne and the driving force behind a series of bold policies transforming Saudi Arabia and shaking up the Middle East.

The 2015 purchase appears to be one of several extravagant acquisitions — including a $500 million yacht and a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting — by a prince who is leading a sweeping crackdown on corruption and self-enrichment by the Saudi elite and preaching fiscal austerity at home.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Quoting Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" .... the rich are very different from you and I.

Life in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria (Video)



WNU Editor: Puerto Rico's infrastructure was already in disrepair before Hurricane Maria .... after Hurricane Maria passed it was destroyed. Am I surprised that the infrastructure has not been replaced .... no. Two months ago I commented on my own personal story of trying to connect my chalet in Quebec (Canada) to the grid. It took months to accomplish this .... even though I paid for the transformer/polls/and wire, did the paperwork, and hired the crew to do this job. I am just a small no-body .... Puerto Rico is a bigger place. That is why my original prediction on how long it will take to restore Puerto Rico still holds .... the priority has been to make sure that the hospitals and other vital institutions are wired first and running (which they have already done). The next step is to take everyone else .... and that is going to take a very very long time .... years in fact. Are people frustrated .... yes .... but these things take time, and in a place like Puerto Rico which has a history of corruption coupled with economic and societal problems .... probably longer.

Argentina Has Fired The Head Of Its Navy One Month After The Disappearance Of The Submarine ARA San Juan

A bouquet of flowers and banners in support of the 44 crew members of the missing at sea ARA San Juan submarine are placed on a fence outside an Argentine naval base in Mar del Plata, Argentina November 25, 2017. The banner below reads "God, give strenght to the submariners". REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Reuters: Argentina fires head of navy over submarine tragedy

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina fired the head of its navy a month after a submarine disappeared in the South Atlantic with 44 crew members onboard, a government spokesman said on Saturday.

Letting go of Navy Admiral Marcelo Eduardo Hipólito Srur was the first known disciplinary action taken by President Mauricio Macri’s administration since contact was lost with the ARA San Juan on Nov. 15.

“It was decided to remove him,” a government spokesman said.

Families of the crew members criticized Macri’s government for not clearly communicating with them and for abandoning rescue efforts.

The navy said on Nov. 27 that water that entered the submarine’s snorkel caused its battery to short-circuit before it went missing. The navy had previously said international organizations detected a noise that could have been the submarine’s implosion the same day contact was lost.

Read more ....

Update: Argentina fires head of navy a month after submarine vanished (SKY News)

WNU Editor: The families are still waiting for answers .... The loved ones of crew members on lost submarine ARA San Juan are still waiting for answers (Daily Telegraph).

Chile Goes To The Polls On Sunday To Elect A New President

Sebastián Piñera (L) and Alejandro Guillier are neck and neck in the opinion polls

VOA: With Two Unpopular Candidates, Chilean Election Up for Grabs

SANTIAGO, CHILE — Billionaire Sebastian Pinera once looked set to easily win Chile’s presidential runoff and swing the country back to the right. Now, the election’s outcome is so uncertain analysts say the nation could remain on its center-left path.

Pinera, who previously governed Chile from 2010 to 2014, won the first round of voting in November with 36 percent support, below expectations from pollsters. His center-left challenger Sen. Alejandro Guillier garnered 22 percent. Pinera’s failure to get an outright majority forced Sunday’s runoff between the two candidates, the top vote-getters in a crowded field.

Polls are banned in the weeks ahead of the election, but analysts say that based on the last polls released and trends seen, it appears the race is now up for grabs.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My friends in Latin America have no idea on who is going to be the next President in Chile .... which is an indication to me on how close this election actually is.

More News On Chile Going To The Polls On Sunday To Elect A New President

Chile faces second round in tight presidential poll -- Financial Times
Chile Votes Sunday in Tight Presidential Election -- WSJ
Chile votes in what could be a close presidential run-off -- Gulf Times/AFP
Who will succeed Michelle Bachelet in Chile? -- BBC
Chile is a Latin American success story, so why are voters so unhappy? -- Washington Post

Why Is Iran Not Afraid Of The Saudi Military?

Saudi special forces soldiers with G36C assault rifles. Saudi Press Agency

Ben Brimelow, Business Insider: Saudi Arabia has the best military equipment money can buy — but it's still not a threat to Iran

* Saudi Arabia has some of the greatest military equipment money can buy, but its military is still not seen as a threat to its longtime rival Iran.
* Saudi Arabia's military has not proved capable of effectively fighting back Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
* Its arsenal is designed for a large conventional war — not proxy fighting.

In the past few years, Saudi Arabia has led an intervention in Yemen's civil war, been the driving force behind a diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its neighbors, and involved itself in the politics of Lebanon.

All of these things appear to have one common objective: to push back against the influence of Iran.

But experts say Saudi Arabia's ambitions are limited by its military, which is considered an ineffective force even though the kingdom is one of the world's largest spenders on defense.

"The fact is, Iran is better at doing this stuff," said Michael Knights, a Lafer fellow at The Washington Institute who specializes in the military and security affairs of Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This remark from a military and security expert on the region is very telling ....

.... "There's nobody in the Iranian General Staff that's afraid of Saudi Arabia on the ground," Knights said.

The above remark reminds me of what was the mindset of Hitler and the German High Command on the eve of invading the Soviet Union. They were not afraid of the Soviet Army, and were confident that Soviet institutions would collapse once the invasion started. What they refused to understand is that once they had committed to their actions, those who would oppose them would organize, and backed by unlimited manpower coupled with military supplies from America ... quickly become a force that was able to counter-attack and drive the Germans back .... which they did. In the Middle East today Iran is committed to the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. It supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and Shiite groups in the Gulf States. They .... like the Germans in World War II .... feel confident that they can project their power with minimal opposition, and when opposed .... be able to destroy the enemy. I think for Iran .... to be pursuing this policy .... is a strategic mistake. The Sunni Arab world should not be underestimated, they have the numbers and they are backed by the U.S.. The only thing that is missing from this equation is the Sunni Arab population being motivated to wage all-out war against Iran instead of waging proxy conflicts that are now in play. For the moment .... the will to escalate the war is not there .... hence the condescending view from Tehran. But everyone has a breaking point, and Iran is certainly testing those boundaries.

Are We Going To War Against Iran?



Jonah Shepp, NYMag: Are We Going to War With Iran?

When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday presented what she claimed was irrefutable evidence that Iran had supplied a missile launched at the Saudi Arabian capital by Houthi rebels in Yemen last month, it was hard not to recall the last time an American diplomat stood before the U.N. with evidence that a rogue Middle Eastern state was engaged in proliferation of dangerous weapons.

As it turned out, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech explaining the Bush administration’s rationale for going to war with Iraq was based on lies and fabrications, and of course, Iran says Haley’s evidence is fabricated as well. Iran’s proxy relationship with the Houthis is well-known, but the U.N. itself is not as sure as the U.S. seems to be that the two short-range ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis were Iranian-made, while some experts suspect Saudi Arabia of overstating Iran’s meddling in Yemen, the better to justify its own.

Read more ....

Update #1: Iranian missiles fired at Saudi Arabia: how US can respond (Stephen Bryen, Asia Times)
Update #2: Why Saudi Arabia cannot go to war with Iran (Maysam Behravesh, Middle East Eye).

WNU Editor: The question on "are we going to war with Iran?" is moot .... Iran is already involved in a number of wars in the Middle East either directly or through proxies. Its support for extremist groups that have attacked U.S. targets has been extensively documented, and its rhetoric makes it very clear that from the Iranian point of view (a view that has been persistent since the revolution) they are in a life and death struggle with the U.S.

As for the U.S. .... its support for those who are fighting against Iran has also been well documented. The questions that remain unanswered are the following .... with the war against the Islamic State now dying down, will the U.S. now focus on Iran and stopping its goal of establishing a "Shiite crescent" from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea, and if so .... how will they do it and with whom. And if this does happen .... what will be the Iranian response?

Putin Jokes About Military Spending


WNU Editor: He better not give up his day job. Correction .... I do want him to give up his day job.


Answer: Third bottom from right.



Did The U.S. Negotiate With The Islamic State To Leave Raqqa?

Reuters

Daniel R. DePetris, National Interest: Is America Negotiating with the Islamic State?

For local forces on the frontline, negotiated population transfers are better than launching an assault against an enemy that is well dug-in and determined to die.

On January 28, 2017, months after then-candidate Donald Trump vowed to wipe the Islamic State off the face of the earth and bomb the group into smithereens, the businessman-turned-president issued a presidential memorandum ordering Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, in consultation with other national security cabinet members, to submit to the White House a comprehensive war plan within thirty days. The president’s memo was as clear as a glass house: "It is the policy of the United States that ISIS be defeated.” It was the Pentagon’s duty to report back with a strategy that would accelerate the military campaign and bring the United States closer to that objective. While the memorandum was overshadowed a day later by Trump’s first travel ban, the January 27 executive order was nonetheless a public communication to the American people that the forty-fifth President of the United States would provide whatever resources the commanders needed to win the war.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  I am torn on this one. Nothing would make me more happy that seeing every ISIS fighter killed or captured. But I am not on the front-lines .... and who am I tell the Syrian Kurds and Arab fighters during the battle of Raqqa that they should storm ISIS strongholds at great risk to their lives and their fellow soldiers. In the end .... it was their decision to make, and they decided that it would be best to see these ISIS fighters leave and hope that they do not come back.

Picture Of The Day

Working Dog Training
Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Savella, left, and Senior Airman Jessica Reyes work on controlled aggression training with Aly, an 18th Security Forces Squadron military working dog at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 12, 2017. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Erwin

WNU Editor: The above picture is form this photo-gallery .... Airmen Train Military Working Dogs (US Department of Defense).

US Defense Secretary Mattis: North Korea's ICBM Not Yet A Capable Threat To The US



Reuters: Mattis says North Korean ICBM not yet a 'capable threat' against U.S

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday that analysis continued on North Korea’s most recent missile test, but he did not believe its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) posed an imminent threat to the United States.

“It has not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now ... we’re still doing the forensics analysis,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

Last month, North Korea said it had successfully tested a new type of ICBM that could reach all of the U.S. mainland and South Korea and U.S.-based experts said data from the Nov. 29 test appeared to support that.

Mattis did not elaborate on what was lacking in the test to show it was not a capable threat.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: So when will it be a capable threat against the U.S.?

More News On U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis' Remarks That North Korea's ICBM Is Not Yet A Capable Threat To The US

Mattis: North Korean ballistic missile doesn't pose immediate threat to US -- The Hill
Mattis says North Korea isn't capable of striking the US -- CNN
Mattis: North Korea short of posing imminent missile threat -- Washington Post
N. Korea's ICBM not yet 'capable threat' to US - Mattis -- RT

Friday, December 15, 2017

How Did Arms Supplied By The U.S. And Saudi Arabia End Up With The Islamic State?

Image Credits: News of the Ummah.

Reuters: Arms supplied by U.S., Saudi ended up with Islamic State, researchers say

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Arms provided by the United States and Saudi Arabia to Syrian opposition groups frequently ended up in the hands of Islamic State, an arms monitoring group that analyzed weapons found on the battlefield said on Thursday.

Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said most Islamic State weapons were looted from the Iraqi and Syrian armies. But some were originally provided by other countries, mainly the United States and Saudi Arabia, to Syrian opposition groups fighting against President Bashar al-Assad.

“These findings are a stark reminder of the contradictions inherent in supplying weapons into armed conflicts in which multiple competing and overlapping non-state armed groups operate,” the group said in a 200-page report.

CAR documented at least 12 cases of weaponry purchased by the United States that ended up in Islamic State’s hands, either captured on the battlefield or acquired through shifting alliances within the Syrian opposition. Most of these items later ended up in Iraq, the monitor said.

Read more ....

Update #1: Report details where ISIS gets its weapons (CNN)
Update #2: ISIS may have obtained anti-tank missiles from the CIA (Business Insider).

WNU Editor: The Conflict Armament Research (CAR) report can be read here .... WEAPONS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE.

This Is How The U.S. Military Attacks, Defeats And Destroys Its Enemies In Battle



Kris Osborn, National Interest: 10 Ways America's Military Attacks, Defeats and Destroys Its Enemies in Battle

Composed of the Army’s best green berets as well as operators from around the Department of Defense, Delta Force takes on high-stakes missions far ahead of the rest of the military. It was Delta Force that led the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains in 2001.

When America needs to break its way into an enemy country, these are the people who slip, kick, or explode their way past the defenses and blaze the way for follow-on forces.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. is unmatched when it comes to winning battles. The problem they have is winning wars.

Commentaries, ANalysis, And Editorials -- December 15, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow on December 14, 2017. Photo: Reuters/ via Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin

M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times: Moscow senses Trump’s travails could be ending

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to think Donald Trump may still be president in the coming months when the Mueller probe into Russia's alleged interference in the US election will reach its conclusion

The ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller over Russia’s alleged interference in the US election is sputtering. The role of the FBI and the Justice Department in boosting Hillary Clinton’s election prospects last November can no longer be shoved under the carpet.

The email correspondence between top FBI agent Peter Strzok and a bureau lawyer Lisa Page, who were working on the 2016 election (besides having an extramarital affair), suggests that they were fired up with messianic zeal to ensure that somehow Hillary won – and, importantly, that Trump lost. And they probably had ‘in-house’ meetings with then-No. 2 in the FBI Andrew McCabe, presently acting director, who subsequently handpicked Mueller as special counsel.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 15, 2017

President Moon’s China state visit spirals into PR disaster -- Andrew Salmon, Asia Times

While world watches North Korea, China builds in the South China Sea -- David Brunnstrom, CSM/Reuters

What Is The United States Doing In The South China Sea? -- Peter Pham, Forbes

Is China's Era of Cheap Labor Really Over? -- Dmitriy Plekhanov, The Diplomat

Exclusive video: South Sudan, a cursed land -- FRANCE 24

Who is going to replace South African President Jacob Zuma as ANC party leader? -- Subry Govender, DW

Europe's Leaders Watch Populism Rise -- Anne-Sylvaine Chassany & Guy Chazan, Financial Times

Europe Is Not Ready For the Next Migration Surge -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Honduran democracy is under assault -- Steven Levitsky & Carlos Flores, L.A. Times

Islamic Jihad pushes Hamas into a corner -- Shlomi Eldar, Al-Monitor

Is America Negotiating with the Islamic State? -- Daniel R. DePetris, National Interest

What Will ‘Actually Solve’ Terrorism Problem? -- James Kitfield, Breaking Defense

The Left’s Nuclear Delusions Die Hard -- Noah Rothman, Commentary

Have Trump and Tillerson Made the Secretary of State Irrelevant? -- Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair

Tonight's Movie Is 'Tripoli Action' (1950)

World News Briefs -- December 15, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: Tillerson urges long halt to North Korea weapons tests before any talks

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday urged North Korea to carry out a “sustained cessation” of weapons testing to allow the two countries to hold talks about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

“North Korea must earn its way back to the table. The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved,” Tillerson told a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on North Korea’s weapons programs. He did not specify how long the lull should last.

He told reporters after the meeting that the United States would not accept any preconditions for talks with North Korea.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

White House signals Western Wall has to be part of Israel.

Pentagon alarmed by uptick in close calls with Russia jets in Syria.

US plans Middle East peace push after 'cooling off' over Jerusalem.

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon in 'extreme poverty': UN.

Yemen air strikes, clashes kill 51.

Jerusalem: Three Palestinians killed in fresh clashes with Israel. 4 Palestinians killed in latest Jerusalem fallout clashes.

US calls for global 'coalition' to counter Iran.

UN 'shocked and appalled' at mass-execution in Iraq.

Yemeni army pushes Houthis from outpost in southern Yemen.

Erdogan says Turkey seeking to annul Trump decision on Jerusalem at U.N..

ASIA

Rex Tillerson: China and Russia's North Korea ties undermine peace efforts.

Deadly earthquake strikes Indonesian island of Java.

China and South Korea united over North Korea threat.

US negotiator says direct diplomacy needed on North Korea.

Japan imposes new sanctions on North Korea. Japan to assess defence capabilities as it expands harsh sanctions on North Korea, freezing assets on 19 more firms.

South Korea criticized over treatment of North Korean defectors.

Pakistan reports rare progress in tense ties with Afghanistan.

China has warned Australia to keep out of the South China Sea dispute. China says Australia disrupting 'stability and peace' in South China Sea; build-up on islands continues.

Rohingya 'rather die' than return to oppression in Myanmar.

AFRICA

UN reports grim childhood for South Sudan's kids.

South Sudan's Kiir promotes three generals facing U.N. sanctions.

UN peacekeeping chief visits Goma after deadly attack.

Ethiopia 'Red Terror' aide Alemu jailed for war crimes.

Warlord Thomas Lubanga ordered to pay $13 million to child soldiers in landmark ruling.

Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa seeks end to Western sanctions.

Zimbabwe's Emmerson Mnangagwa calls for ZANU-PF unity.

Exclusive: Italy plans big handover of sea rescues to Libya coastguard.

EUROPE

Austria shifts to the right as new coalition deal is struck.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron set eurozone reform plan deadline.

EU to force firms to reveal true owners in wake of Panama Papers.

EU leaders formally approve second Brexit phase.

EU sees new ‘dramatically difficult’ phase in Brexit talks.

SPD's Martin Schulz announces preliminary German coalition talks.

EU compromise on migrants 'very hard': Tusk.

NATO concerned Russian missile system breaks Cold War pact.

Russian ex-minister Ulyukayev gets eight years for bribery.

Putin looks for quick win, but voter apathy worries Kremlin.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to wed on 19 May.

AMERICAS

Some Canada exporters say NAFTA talks impacting business: survey.

Mexican senate votes to keep troops in police role despite outcry from rights groups.

Republicans finish tax bill, will release details later in day.

Trump criticizes FBI and says no pardon for Flynn 'yet'. Trump blasts FBI leadership but says he’s loyal to police.

Venezuela first lady's nephews jailed for drugs.

Brazil's president pushes for pension reforms.

Odebrecht scandal: Peru president Kuczynski resists pressure to quit.

Protesters block roads in Honduras as electoral crisis rumbles on.

Mexico enshrines army's role in drug war with divisive law.

Canada spy agency settles lawsuit alleging homophobia, racism.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Sahel force funding shows Saudi 'serious' on terrorism fight: analysts.

Bitcoin: US prosecutors rush to millions of dollars worth of digital currency seized in drug bust.

Partner forces kill ISIS fighters near small US garrison in Syria.

German girl imprisoned for Isis role has fleeting family reunion.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street closes at records with tax overhaul in sight.

Bitcoin hits new record high as warnings grow louder.

As Disney swallows Fox, a new era dawns for Hollywoo.

In first, SpaceX launches recycled rocket and spaceship.

Amazon backs down in Google streaming spat.