Friday, October 20, 2017

Picture Of The Day

Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces inspect weapons and munitions recovered at the former positions of the Islamic State militants inside a building at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo gallery .... What Islamic State left behind (Reuters).

Spain Prepares To Suspend Catalonia's Autonomy



L.A. Times: Independence crisis intensifies as Spain prepares to strip Catalonia of local powers

Fear, anger and anxiety heightened on both sides of a secession divide as the Spanish government vowed Thursday to take the unprecedented step of stripping autonomous powers from the northeastern region of Catalonia.

The region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, did not renounce independence despite a Thursday deadline imposed by the central government.

The escalating confrontation between Madrid and Spain’s most prosperous region sent ripples of unease across the continent, where European Union leaders are already wary of fissures within the bloc.

Spain’s worst political crisis in nearly four decades of democracy could hamper a still fragile economic recovery in the country as a whole and cause particular financial harm to Catalonia, which is already experiencing a flurry of corporate flight.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Spain did not suspend Catalonia's autonomy today, but this may change in the coming days.

More News On Spain Preparing To Suspend Catalonia's Autonomy

Spain to suspend Catalonia's autonomy in response to independence threat -- Reuters
Spain set to strip Catalonia of powers over independence bid -- AP
Spain to impose direct rule as Catalonia leader refuses to back down -- The Guardian
Spanish Officials to Meet on Taking Local Powers from Catalonia -- Voice of America
Spain threatens to take over Catalonia's government as constitutional crisis looms -- Washington Post

Thursday, October 19, 2017

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Believes That 20% Of U.S. Military Properties Around The World Are Not Needed

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

Business Insider/Washington Examiner: Mattis estimates nearly 20% of the US military's property around the world may be unneeded

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress that an estimated 19 percent of U.S. military properties around the world might be unneeded and he is pressing lawmakers to allow him to take a closer look.

Mattis provided the 19-percent-excess-capacity figure in a report to Congress earlier this month in what is the latest push by the Pentagon to get lawmakers to permit a new review of properties under the Base Realignment and Closure program, or BRAC, which could result in the shuttering of excess facilities in the 2020s.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Remarks That 20% Of U.S. Military Properties Around The World Are Not Needed

Pentagon chief pushes for new round of base closures -- The Hill
DoD says it has 19 percent more facilities than it needs, even assuming a larger military -- Federal News Radio
Defense Secretary James Mattis tells Congress that shuttering unnecessary bases could save billions -- The Week Magazine
US military doesn't need 19% of its property, Pentagon chief estimates -- RT
Is a plan to save $2 billion by closing unneeded military bases really dead? -- Washington Examiner

Pentagon Is Insisting They Are Informing Lawmakers On What Happened In A Niger Ambush That Killed 4 Special Forces Soldiers




The Hill: Pentagon officials insist they are informing lawmakers on Niger attack

Pentagon officials insisted on Thursday that they were being open with Congress while briefing lawmakers on the attack in Niger that left four U.S. special forces dead and two others injured.

Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said the Defense Department had a military general brief members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees in a closed session on the Oct. 4 ambush. She did not say who spoke to the committees.

The briefing came the same day Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters it might require a subpoena to get more information about the Niger attack.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is going to take a while, but this is now a media and political story, and I can only imagine the pressure that the Pentagon must be under right now.

More News On The Pentagon Insisting That They Are Informing Lawmakers On What Happened In A Niger Ambush That Killed 4 Special Forces Soldiers

Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger
-- Washington Post
US Military Investigating Deaths of Soldiers in Niger Ambush -- VOA
Pentagon Probing Troubling Questions after Deadly Niger Ambush -- Military.com
Trump administration admits it doesn't have 'all the accurate information' on four US soldiers killed in Niger -- The Independent
Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger -- The Telegraph
New details emerge on ambush in Niger that killed 4 U.S. soldiers -- CBS
Pentagon Sends Team to Niger to Find Out What Happened -- NBC
Jim Mattis: Don't question military response to deadly ambush in Niger -- Washington Examiner
Mattis Is Angered by Press on Niger Coverage, Says 'War Is War' -- Newsweek
Everyone Wants Answers About What Happened In Niger. That Includes The Pentagon. -- Buzz Feed
What we know and don't know about the deadly Niger attack -- CNN

Poll: Majority Of Americans Believe President Trump Will Lead The Country Into A Major War

President Donald Trump discusses current military operations with Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command Commander, and Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas, U.S. Special Operations Command Commander at MacDill, AFB, FL, Feb. 6, 2017. (DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released)

The Independent: Three-quarters of Americans think Trump is going to lead them into war

Unlike the President, most Americans don't think diplomacy is a waste of time

Almost three-quarters of Americans fear the US is to become involved in a “major conflict” in the next few years, according to a new survey.

Amid escalating tensions with North Korea over its aggressive missile tests and development of nuclear warheads, combined with sabre-rattling from Donald Trump, 72 per cent of the population fears the country will become embroiled in such a war within four years.

Most people believe the greatest threat to the US is from North Korea, followed by Isis and Russia. Only two per cent of people believe Iran is the greatest threat.

Read more ....

Update: Forget Putin, Americans Fear North Korea and ISIS More (Newsweek).

WNU Editor: The NBC poll results are here. Some interesting stats from the poll that are not being reported are the following .... only 6% of Americans care about foreign policy, 10% are worried about terrorism, and 72% believe the U.S. will be in a major war in 4 years. Am I surprised by these numbers .... no .... these numbers have been around for a long time. This is also a repeat of another NBC poll that was done 3 months ago .... and it is being rehashed again (see link here). On a side note .... I also remember that when President Reagan was in power, an even greater majority of Americans believed that he was leading the U.S. into a major war .... which of course did not happen.

North Korean Military Officials Watch ‘Morning Joe’ For News On President Trump And North Korea



The Hill: NBC News correspondent: Senior North Korean officials watch 'Morning Joe'

NBC News correspondent Kier Simmons landed a rare interview with a North Korean military official on Thursday and learned that officials in the communist country watch "Morning Joe" specifically for reports and discussions about their country.

Simmons appeared on the MSNBC show Thursday from the border of North and South Korea to share his recent conversation with a North Korean lieutenant colonel that included his belief that President Trump is "mentally ill" and that his country could prevail over the U.S. in war.

“He quite plainly said he believes President Trump is mentally ill,” Simmons told "Morning Joe" co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. “And he was unequivocal in saying he believes North Korea could win a war with America.”

Read more ....

Update: NBC News Correspondent: North Korean Military Officials Watch ‘Morning Joe,’ Believe Trump Is ‘Mentally Ill’ (Washington Free Beacon).

WNU Editor: If Morning Joe was my source for news on America every day .... I would also believe that President Trump was mentally ill/corrupt/illegitimate/about to be impeached/has no public support/is a racist/a misogynist/evil/etc.. And that America is a divided country that is being torn apart because of race/economic inequality/and war. Truth be told .... this NBC reporter is being played by these North Korean officials. They may watch Morning Joe .... but they watch and monitor hundreds of other outlets .... and maybe even WNU (I have a program that monitors where people are coming from when they visit this blog, and sometimes I have a visitor or two from North Korea).

More Details Emerge On Former President Clinton Wanting To Meet Russian Officials On A Uranium Deal

Former president Bill Clinton (left) received $500,000 for a Moscow speaking engagement with Renaissance Capital. He also met Vladimir Putin (right), at the time Russia's prime minister, during the visit

The Hill: Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A $500,000 speaking fee. A million plus dollar contribution to the Clinton Foundation from the a Kremlin-linked company that wanted to buy a U.S. based uranium company. And now we know that former President Clinton wanted to meet Russian officials linked to this uranium deal. This is the second Hill expose/article on the Clintons and this uranium deal in the past few days .... hmmmm .... it looks like someone is feeding them information . In his defense former President Clinton's aides are saying that he did not have any conversations on uranium while in Russia, and that no one connected to the deal was involved in his trip to Russia. Maybe so .... but he did get a lot of money from these people anyway, and while he did not meet any Russian officials involved in this deal, former President Clinton did meet the man that all of these officials must answer to .... and that man is Vladimir Putin. And where was that meeting .... at Putin's private residence in Sochi. Robert Mueller's commission should expand their investigation on Russian collusion .... because from my vantage point the more extensive and lucrative business relationships are between top Democrats and Kremlin-associated oligarchs and companies .... and not from President Trump or the people within his inner circle. But here is my prediction .... it is not going to happen.

Russian President Putin: 'Do Not Back North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Into A Corner'

Russian President Vladimir Putin © Grigoriy Sisoev / Sputnik

NBC: Putin on North Korea Crisis: Don’t Back Kim Jong Un Into a Corner

SOCHI, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that North Korea must not be "backed into a corner" and urged dialogue to end its nuclear standoff with the U.S.

Tensions have increased between Pyongyang and Washington in recent weeks, with President Donald Trump promising in August that North Korea would be met with "fire and fury" if it threatens the U.S. and calling Kim Jong Un, the North's leader, "rocket man" in a speech at the U.N. last month.

Putin did not mention the U.S. specifically on Thursday, but warned of the growing possibility of conflict and pointed out that North Korea is a "sovereign country."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The person who has put Kim Jong Un into a corner is Kim Jong Un himself. On a side note .... Putin is right about this .... Putin says doubts U.S. strike on North Korea would destroy arsenal (Reuters).

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Discusses Iran

CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaks at the FDD National Security Summit in Washington, October 19, 2017.

CNBC: US spies can make it harder to do business with Iran. Here's how, says CIA chief Mike Pompeo

* The United States should make it more expensive for Iran to engage in "adventurism" in the Middle East, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday.
* The intelligence community is trying and struggling to expose Iranian companies with ties to the nation's sanctioned security forces.

The U.S. intelligence community and Treasury Department can make it harder for Iran to meddle in regional affairs by exposing Iranian businesses that have ties to the nation's elite security force, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said on Thursday.

Their comments suggest the investment climate in Iran could become more challenging just as foreign firms seek to build or restore ties in the country following the lifting of sanctions last year.

Read more ....

More News On CIA Director Mike Pompeo Discussing National Security Issues

CIA Director: Iran deal 'failed' to permanently block Tehran's path to nukes -- Jerusalem Post
CIA Director Confirms Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Was In Kirkuk -- Daily Caller
CIA to publish documents revealing Iran's relations with al-Qaeda -- Al Arabiya
Pompeo: Al-Qaeda-Iran Connection an "Open Secret" -- The Weekly Standard

U.S. Intelligence Officials: North Korea Months Away From Being Able To Hit US With A Nuclear Missile



VOA: US: North Korea Months Away From Being Able to Hit US with Nuclear Missile

WASHINGTON — North Korea is likely just months away from being capable of striking the United States with a nuclear missile, according to two top U.S. officials.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a forum in Washington on Thursday he is "deeply worried" about the advancing threat from North Korea and the possibility it could spark a nuclear arms race across East Asia.

"We ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective," Pompeo said when asked about Pyongyang's pursuit of missile technology that could launch a warhead to targets in the U.S.

"They are so far along in that it's now a matter of thinking about how do you stop the final step?" he added.

Read more ....

More News ON The CIA Believing That North Korea Is Only Months Away From Being Able To Hit US With A Nuclear Missile

CIA head: North Korea months from perfecting nuclear capabilities -- Chicago Tribune/AP
Pompeo warns of North Korea's nuclear advances -- CBS
North Korea 'months' away from strike range on US, says CIA head -- Financial Times
North Korea 'months' away from capability to nuke US, CIA Director Mike Pompeo says -- Washington Examiner
US preparing for North Korea's 'final step' -- CNN

John Kelly Defends President Trump And His Call To Gold Star Families



CNN: Kelly says he was 'stunned' by congresswoman's account of Trump's call

Washington (CNN)White House chief of staff John Kelly, in an extraordinary and at times emotional statement Thursday, said he was "stunned" by what a Democratic congresswoman told reporters after she listened in on President Donald Trump's call to the widow of a fallen soldier.

Kelly, a Gold Star father, said he was "brokenhearted" by the congresswoman's criticism and said that he had advised Trump on what to say before he called the families of the four fallen soldiers who died during an ambush in Niger. Kelly said he encouraged Trump to echo words Gen. Joseph Dunford offered to Kelly when his own son was killed in Afghanistan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a must read .... John Kelly’s fiery defense of Trump’s shot at Obama and Gold Star phone call, annotated (Washington Post). It is telling that every reporter was silent when he gave this account.

More News On John Kelly Defending President Trump And His Calls To The Gold Star Families On Tuesday

Kelly lends Trump powerful and personal credibility -- Politico
Defending Trump, Gen. Kelly Opens His Heart About Death of Son -- NBC
John Kelly defends Trump on calls, lashes out at Florida Democrat -- The Hill
Kelly defends Trump’s call to Gold Star widow -- NYPost
John Kelly 'broken hearted' by Dem rep's attacks on Trump -- Fox News
Defending Trump, Gen. Kelly Opens His Heart About Death of Son -- NBC

Editor's Note

A bit overwhelmed with stuff today. Nothing special .... just things that had to be done. Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted at the normal time tomorrow.

U.S. Homeland Acting Security Secretary: ISIS Is Planning The Next 9/11



The Telegraph: Terrorist groups planning another 9/11-style attack, top US official warns

Islamic State and other terrorist groups are planning to target aircraft as they aim to carry out another major attack on the scale of 9/11, a top US security official has said.

Elaine Duke, acting US Homeland Security Secretary, said the groups were using smaller attacks to raise money and “keep their members engaged”.

“The threat is still severe,” she said in London after meeting Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

“The terrorist organisations, be it Isis or al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that."

Britain and Europe have seen a string of crude attacks, from the ramming and stabbing attack on London Bridge to the homemade bomb in Manchester.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Homeland Acting Security Secretary Warning That ISIS Is Planning The Next 9/11

Terror groups working for another 9/11, acting DHS chief warns -- Fox News
Isis and other Islamist terror groups plotting similar attack to 9/11, says US security chief -- The Independent
ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning a 'New 9/11,' Security Chief Elaine Duke Warns -- Newsweek
This US Security Chief Says ISIS is Planning the Next 9/11 -- Al-Bawaba
Intelligence shows Isis plotting terror attacks similar to 9/11 says top US security chief -- International Business Times
US Homeland Security Chief Warns Terrorists Plotting New 9/11-Style Attack -- Sputnik

Islamic State Terror Cells Are Spreading World-Wide

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
It's spreading: A dozen ISIS terror cells have been uncovered across the world in the past four weeks alone

Daily Mail: How ISIS virus has spread around the globe even as its heartland caliphate collapses: Map reveals where cells have sprung up in the past MONTH as the group is obliterated in Iraq and Syria

* New Islamic State terror cells found in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in just four weeks
* Nine cells have been uncovered, including in Russia, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo
* ISIS fighters are believed to be looking for new territory after fall of their 'caliphate' in Iraq and Syria

At least a dozen terror cells linked to Islamic State have been uncovered across the globe in the past month alone, research has found.

As ISIS is defeated in its 'caliphate' in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist organisation is looking for new territory.

In the past four weeks, ISIS cells have sprung up in as far flung places as Russia, Ireland and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is probably just a tip of the iceberg. And then there is Al Qaeda .... ISIS' loss could end up being Al Qaeda's gain (AP).

Hillary Clinton Criticizes President Trump On North Korea

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton speaks during an interview with Mariella Frostrup at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in Cheltenham, Britain October 15, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

CNBC/Reuters: Hillary Clinton says US threats of war with North Korea are 'dangerous, short-sighted'

* Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that "cavalier" threats to start war on the Korean peninsula are "dangerous and short-sighted"
* She also called on China to take a "more outfront role" in enforcing sanctions against North Korea
* North Korea's Deputy U.N. Ambassador told the U.N. Monday that "a nuclear war may break out any moment"

Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that "cavalier" threats to start war on the Korean peninsula are "dangerous and short-sighted", urging the United States to get all parties to the negotiating table.

Clinton also called on China to take a "more outfront role" in enforcing sanctions against North Korea aimed at curbing its missile and nuclear development.

"There is no need for us to be bellicose and aggressive (over North Korea)," said Clinton at a forum in the South Korean capital Seoul, stressing the need for greater pressure on North Korea and diplomacy to bring Pyongyang to talks.

Read more ....

Update: Hillary Clinton criticizes U.S. policy on North Korea (Washington Times).

WNU Editor: I am surprised that Hillary Clinton is still in the news .... but such is the state of the Democrat Party today and their lack of a national leader. As to her claim that more diplomacy is needed when it comes to North Korea .... it is hard to conduct diplomacy with someone who has already made it clear that they are not interested in diplomacy .... North Korea Rejects Diplomacy With The U.S.. (October 16, 2017). Speaking of Hillary Clinton, some are calling this a non-story .... Donald Trump Accuses 'Fake Media' Of Not Reporting An Actual Fake News Story (HuffPost UK), but the Clintons and their Foundation did receive an enormous amount of money from the principles involved, and it has legs .... Russia Uranium Investigation: Why Obama, Clinton, Mueller and Holder Are at the Center of a New Probe (Newsweek). What is my take .... nothing is going to happen .... this is just one more example on how the elites enrich themselves, and how the media ignores a story because it does not fit into their narrative on what Russian collusion really looks like.

China Has A 30 Year Plan To Rule The World

Chinese President Xi Jinping is served tea as he delivers a speech during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

News.com.au: China’s 30-year deadline to rule the world

CHINESE President sets out ambitious plans for Asian powerhouse in epic three-hour speech, with huge implications for Australia.

BEIJING has outlined plans to become the world’s biggest superpower within the next 30 years.

Opening a five-yearly national congress, Chinese President Xi Jinping set out his time frame for the country to become a “global leader” with international influence.

In his 3 ½ hour speech, Mr Xi urged a reinvigorated Communist Party to take a stronger role in society and economic development to better address the nation’s “grim” challenges.

Speaking in the massive Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square, Mr Xi laid out his vision of a ruling party that served as the vanguard for everything from defending national security to providing moral guidance.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is now official .... China wants to rule the world (or at least be the world's super-power).

Former President George W. Bush Condemns President Trump (Without Mentioning His Name)



Daily Mail: George W. Bush comes out of retirement to throw shade at Trump as he denounces 'bullying and prejudice' in politics and praises the value of immigration

* Former U.S. president George W. Bush left little doubt about how he feels about Donald Trump on Thursday
* Rare speech in New York City was full of veiled barbs in the current president's direction
* 'Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone,' he said, and 'provides permission for cruelty and bigotry'
* 'Bigotry seems emboldened; our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication'
* Bush also slammed Trump's trade isolationism and complained that 'we've seen nationalism distorted into nativism' and forgotten immigration's 'dynamism'

George W. Bush hinted Thursday at his dissatisfaction with Donald Trump, complaining in a New York City speech that 'bullying and prejudice' has become a caustic norm in American public life.

At an event hosted by the George W. Bush Institute, the 43rd U.S. president rattled off a thinly veiled litany of complaints about the current commander-in-chief, focusing on both his tone and his isolationist policy choices.

'Our young people need positive role models,' he said. 'Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.'

'Bigotry seems emboldened' in today's America, Bush added. 'Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.'

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Is there a constituency in America for President W. Bush's vision of America .... open borders, globalism, and unending wars? I doubt it .... and (for me) his speech was nothing more but a litany of complaints that an agenda that he opposes is being implemented.

More News On Former President George W. Bush's Speech On What Is The State Of America

George W. slams Trumpism, without mentioning president by name -- Politico
George W. Bush: Bigotry and white supremacy are 'blasphemy' against the American creed -- CNN
Bush blasts bigotry and white supremacy, says US politics 'vulnerable' to 'outright fabrication' -- ABC News
Bush calls on US to 'recall and recover' its identity -- The Hill
George W. Bush warns "bigotry seems emboldened" under Trump -- CBS News
George W. Bush's unmistakable takedown of Trumpism — and Trump -- Washington Post

US Secretary of State Tillerson: U.S. Prefers To Work With New Delhi Over Beijing During The Next Century.



Hindustan Times: Secretary of state Rex Tillerson pitches for greater cooperation between India and US ahead of visit

Tillerson called India and the US “two bookends of stability” on either side of the globe.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Wednesday made a strong pitch for greater cooperation with India to tackle global threats and challenges such as ensuring a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region in the face of a predatory China.

He stressed that while the United States wants to work with India and any other nation to counter terrorism, it still sees Pakistan as a valuable partner and will work with Islamabad and New Delhi to reduce tensions along the country’s eastern border with India and the western border with Afghanistan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese are not happy with these remarks .... After Tillerson’s remarks, Beijing asks US to ‘abandon biased views’ of China (Hindustan Times).

More News On US Secretary of State Tillerson's Remarks That The U.S. Prefers To Work With New Delhi Over Beijing During The Next Century.

US: Tillerson calls for India ties to counter China -- BBC
Tillerson Embraces Closer US Ties With India, Calls Out China -- Voice of America
U.S. wants stronger India economic, defense ties given China's rise -- Nasdaq/Reuters
Rex Tillerson: US, India must protect 'international order' from Chinese threats -- Washington Examiner
Tillerson seeks stronger ties with India, chides China -- Stars and Stripes

Is Iran On A Collision Course With Israel Over Syria?

Iranian Military Chief of Staff General Mohammad Baqeri.. (photo credit:TURKISH MILITARY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Jerusalem Post: The danger of Iran on a collision course with Israel over Syria

Iran’s military chief, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, met in Damascus with his Syrian counterpart, Lt.-Gen. Ali Ayoub, and warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace.

Wednesday’s statement by the Iranian military’s chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, that it is “not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate Syria any time it wants” indicates that Israel and Iran may be heading toward a collision over Tehran’s expanding influence in Syria.

The immediate background to the statement, made during a visit to Damascus to strengthen Iranian-Syrian military cooperation, was the Israeli air strike in Syria on Monday that destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery in response to its firing of a missile at an Israeli plane on a reconnaissance mission in Lebanon.

Read more ....

Previous Post: Iran's Top Military Chief Vows To Cooperate With Syria Against Israel (October 18, 2017)

WNU Editor: Israel is focused on what Iran is doing in Syria, and how could the Israelis stop them. But Israel should also focus on what would the Russians may do if Israeli air strikes start happening in central and north-western Syria. Russia controls this air space, and I am sure that Moscow has told Israel that there are red lines that they cannot cross.

Editor's Note

I have a number of personal/business things to do today. Blogging will return at 14:00 EST. Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted at 17:00 EST and 18:00 EST respectively.

Should President Trump Visit The Demilitarized Zone Along The North Korean Border?

President Barack Obama is briefed by Lt. Col. Ed Taylor as he views the DMZ from Observation Post Ouellette at Camp Bonifas, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Washington Post: Trump White House debates presidential visit to demilitarized zone along North Korean border

It has become the ultimate symbol of American resolve against the threat of North Korea: a visit by the U.S. commander in chief to “freedom’s frontier,” the heavily guarded demilitarized zone that has separated the North and South for 64 years.

Wearing bomber-style jackets, surrounded by military officers, peering through binoculars, all but one president since Ronald Reagan have gazed across the barren strip of land at the 38th parallel from an observation post where they’ve been moved to talk tough. In April, Vice President Pence, undertaking the same solemn ritual, said he toured the DMZ so the North Koreans could “see our resolve in my face.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A few weeks ago I said that President Trump should visit the DMZ .... but now I am not sure. When a country threatens to do this .... North Korea threatens 'unimaginable' strike on United States (USA Today) .... normal protocol goes out the window. I still expect President Trump to visit the DMZ, but I will not be surprised if the military and the Secret Service will be on maximum alert when he does visit in the event that the worst case scenario does break-out.

Is Russia Providing Economic Aid To The Taliban?

Moscow has lately accelerated its support in apparent attempt to bolster Taliban against Islamic State. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Express Tribune: Russia supplying free fuel to Taliban in war against NATO forces, reveals report

Russia is supporting the Afghan Taliban against Nato forces through a covert programme of laundered fuel sales, a report has revealed.

“Russian intelligence services are sending fleets of fuel tankers into Afghanistan through the Hairatan border crossing with Uzbekistan,” The Times quoted sources in the militant group and Afghan forces as saying.

“From there, they are delivered free of charge to front companies operating on behalf of the Taliban. The arrangement allows about $2.5 million raised in cash from the sale of the fuel each month to be delivered directly to insurgent paymasters,” the report claimed.

Read more ....

Update: Russia Funding Taliban in War Against NATO Troops (TOLO News)

WNU Editor: There has been a lot of coverage on reports that Russia is supplying weapons to the Taliban .... but the evidence (IMHO) has been inconclusive. As for Russia providing covert economic support to the Taliban .... with the exception of The Times, Pakistani and Afghan news sites, coupled with Russian social media .... this story has been ignored. I personally have doubts that this story is true. There is no support among the Russian public for Moscow to provide any aid to the Taliban .... but if Russia is providing support, the political backlash against Putin would be huge.

The Canadian Province Of Quebec Has Moved To Ban The Burka



Globe and Mail: Quebec bans face covering in public services, raising worries among Muslims

Quebec has adopted a law that will force people to show their faces when taking the bus or borrowing a book from the library, pushing ahead with legislation that is being criticized for targeting Muslim Canadian women.

Bill 62, which the Justice Minister described as a North American first, requires one's face to be uncovered when giving or receiving public services. The law marks the outcome of a contentious, decade-long debate about the place of religious minorities in Quebec.

Details of how the law would apply have yet to be worked out, but critics are concerned it will empower civil servants such as front-line hospital workers to refuse service to a woman in a niqab or burka.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I live in Quebec, and people outside of Quebec do not understand how fiercely nationalistic French Quebecers are. I have seen women use public services and the subway wearing a full burka .... and you can easily sense the hostility among the people when they see this. What is also not healthy is that there are now ghettos in Montreal where Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East have congregated. They are not assimilating, and within these "ghettos" French Quebecers who have lived there for generations feel that they are being squeezed out. There is also a huge political aspect of this story. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau won the election because he garnered the support of many French Quebecers. If he pushes the courts to overturn this law he will be facing a backlash among those who voted for him. So he is faced with a dilemma .... do nothing or lose a good part of his political base. My prediction .... he is hoping that this story will go away with time and that civil liberty groups will pick up the slack and challenge it in the courts.

Russia's Presidential Campagn Has Its First Official Candidate



RT: Daughter of Putin's mentor, Russian It-girl Ksenia Sobchak, announces her presidential bid

Russian jet setter, TV personality, glossy magazine editor and all-around It-girl-turned opposition figure Ksenia Sobchak, 35, has officially announced her decision to run for the presidency in the 2018 election.

Running as an independent, Sobchak generally has a love-hate relationship with the Russian audience. Having been on the country's pop culture scene for many years, she has hosted one of the most popular reality TV shows, is a frequent guest at international VIP celebrity parties, has modeled for Playboy and is now editor-in-chief of L'Officiel Russia.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Her mother is a close personal and political friend of Russian President Putin. She will get about 5% of the vote (maybe less), and she knows it. So why is she doing it? She does want to enter politics, and she wants to be in the next cabinet. This is her way to of having the public see her in different way, show everyone that she is capable of handling the political pressure of a campaign, and to earn the respect of Russia's elites. She is also important because she symbolizes the next generation of Russian politicians. Mid-thirties to early forties. Well educated and comfortable in using the media to their benefit. And having a worldview that is very outward rather than inward.

More News On Ksenia Sobchak

Russia socialite Ksenia Sobchak declares presidential bid -- BBC News
Russian 'It Girl' Ksenia Sobchak announces Kremlin bid -- AFP
Russian TV star Sobchak declares her presidential bid -- ABC News
Playboy model seeks to dislodge (or maybe help) Putin -- Politico
Who Is Ksenia Sobchak? 'Russia's Paris Hilton' Declares Presidential Bid Against Putin -- International Business Times

Tweets For Today





Picture Of The Day

Front row, L to R) The chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang, former Chinese president Hu Jintao, Chinese president Xi Jinping, former president Jiang Zemin and Chinese premier Li Keqiang, at the opening ceremony. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... China's 19th Communist party congress – in pictures (The Guardian).

Should A U.S. President Call A Grieving Family When A Loved One Has Been Killed In Action?


WNU Editor: It is seven years now .... but in 2010 I did a special post commemorating the 10th anniversary of the USS Cole bombing. I was proud of the post .... a recognition of those who lost their lives, and I spent a good deal of time collecting links that gave back ground information on the bombing as well as on what happened after. The picture that I used was the tombstone of one of the fallen .... it was a beautiful tombstone and picture .... a family's tribute to their lost son .... and very fitting for the post. I gave credit to the picture and where it came from .... posted it for 3:00 AM EST .... and went to bed. I woke up that morning, and I do what I do every morning .... I read my email. One of the emails was from someone that I never heard before .... I opened it, and it was from the father of the soldier whose tombstone that I used as my picture. I expected a thank you, but what I got was a father who was beyond livid. Accusing me of profiting from his son's death, disrespecting his family, and a whole bunch of other things that were untrue and in my opinion unhinged. But what could I do .... and more to the point .... what did I do to make him so angry and threatening. I checked the email address .... and found out that yes .... this was a valid email, and that he was the Goldstar father. The more I thought about it, the more upset I was that I made this man upset .... when my intention was never to do anything like that. I have a thick skin .... nothing much gets to me. I have experienced a lot in my life, but I have also learned to keep a open mind, and when I feel that I am wrong .... to correct it. In this case I was more than mortified .... I sent him an email with sincere apologies .... detailing and explaining to him what motivated me to do the post .... and that my intention was to certainly never profit from him or from his son. I lost count on how many times I said I was sorry .... and to make amends I deleted the post, and I publicly apologized on this blog telling everyone on what had happened. He responded later in the day with his own apology .... he told me that I could use the picture .... and that he thought that I was just another con-man trying to take advantage of his son's death. I thanked him for his response, and I told him that as far as I am concerned .... the case was closed. I did not make another post on his son .... nor anyone like it since .... the potential negative energy and blow-back is just not worth it.

Since that time I have tried to understand why this father reacted in the way that he did .... and over the years many family members who have lost loved ones in war (and who are also readers of this blog) have explained to me the sea of emotions that a family goes through when their loved one is killed in action. Anger and rage are the two main emotions that people feel .... and because they cannot strike-out at the enemy who killed their loved one, many attack the one who sent their loved one into harms way. I think for a President this is probably one of the most difficult parts of his job .... and definitely the most draining. To call a family who has lost a loved one .... knowing too well that this family is probably blaming him for why their loved one is dead .... most people would run away. I have read over the years that when President Bush and President Obama called a grieving family .... they were often faced with a family that were beyond anger, blaming them for the lost of their loved one. I guess that explains why both President Bush and President Obama ended up sending letters to grieving families later in their terms instead of calling them .... their advisers must have noticed how draining this experience was for them, and decided to limit their calls. Considering what I went through with a grieving father 10 years after the fact .... I can understand why. As for President Trump .... who if attacked will respond with an attack .... he is probably ill-suited to call a grieving family who is angry at him. And with the political environment in Washington being as toxic as it is .... if you call a grieving widow with someone like Democrat Congresswoman Frederica Wilson beside her whose hatred towards President Trump is well known .... expect fireworks.

On a side note .... in Russia the President (if he chooses) would meet the grieving family in a public setting .... no cameras .... and there will be a lot of people there so that a situation does "not get out of control". Otherwise .... it is just a letter to the family.  There are phone calls .... but that is very rare.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Showdown In Catalonia



Reuters: Spain-Catalonia standoff set to intensify as leaders take hard lines

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s political showdown with Catalonia is set to reach a new level on Thursday when political leaders in Madrid and Barcelona are expected to make good on pledges made to their supporters to stick to their tough positions over the region’s future.

In an unprecedented move since Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will impose direct rule in Catalonia unless the region’s leader Carles Puigdemont retracts by 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) an ambiguous declaration of independence he made last week.

Puigdemont told members of his Catalan Democratic Party on Wednesday night that not only he would not back down but that he would press ahead with a more formal declaration of independence if Rajoy suspends Catalonia’s political autonomy.

It is not yet clear how and when this declaration would take place and whether it would be endorsed by the regional assembly, though many pro-independence lawmakers have openly said they wanted to hold a vote in the Catalan parliament to make it more solemn.

Read more ....

Update #1: Catalonia: Spain ultimatum looms over independence push (BBC)
Update #2: Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont firm on independence bid as Madrid deadline looms (DW)

WNU Editor: Since the referendum both sides have shown no interest to negotiate or compromise. As a result, the die is now cast .... Spain will impose direct rule on Catalonia tomorrow, and Catalonia will declare independence .... Catalonia to press ahead with independence if Madrid suspends autonomy (Reuters). In my lifetime I have seen the Soviet Union break-up, Yugoslavia a few years later, and to a lesser extent .... Ukraine today. The circumstances are different in Spain, but the unwillingness to negotiate .... and to then use the Guardia Civil to stop the referendum followed by arresting political leaders .... just galvanized support for independence in Catalonia to the levels that we see it today. Bottom line ..... this is not going to end well.

These Are The Men And Women Who Defeated ISIS In Raqqa

Militia fighters resting and preparing to return to the front line in eastern Raqqa. Credit Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

New York Times: ‘Come Out and Surrender’: Inside Raqqa, With the Fighters Who Drove Off ISIS

RAQQA, Syria — From the top-floor sniper position in western Raqqa, members of an American-backed militia scanned the ground for any signs of movement.

“We have hot soup, we have bread: Come out and surrender,” one of the fighters said on a loudspeaker. “The ISIS members and their families who surrendered to us are safe.”

I was one of a handful of journalists who accompanied the militia, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, for about 10 days. Twice I went to the front lines in the city, which has been largely liberated after a four-month battle. I talked to civilians who had endured Islamic State rule for more than four years and survived.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Some of these stories and pictures are gripping.

Will A Pakistan Chicken-Wire Border Fence To Keep Out Militants From Afghanistan Work?

A view of the border fence outside the Kitton outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Reuters: Pakistan, Afghanistan in angry tangle over chicken-wire border fence to keep out militants

Angoor Adda, PAKISTAN (Reuters) - Pakistan is betting that a pair of nine-foot chicken wire fences topped with barbed wire will stop incursions by Islamist militants from Afghanistan, which opposes Islamabad’s plans for a barrier along the disputed frontier.

Pakistan plans to fence up most of the 2,500 km (1,500 mile) frontier despite Kabul’s protests that the barrier would divide families and friends along the Pashtun tribal belt straddling the colonial-era Durand line drawn up by the British in 1893.

Pakistan’s military estimates that it will need about 56 billion rupees ($532 million) for the project, while there are also plans to build 750 border forts and employ high-tech surveillance systems to prevent militants crossing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If they post guards every 200 or 300 meters to stop those who are trying to cross the border .... it may work. Otherwise .... if this fence is undefended .... the militants will just use wire cutters to get to the other side.

More News On Pakistan's Chicken-Wire Border Fence To Keep Out Militants From Afghanistan

Pakistan says fence on Afghan border will reduce attacks -- Washington Post/AP
Pakistan hails new Afghan border fence to curb militancy -- AFP
Pakistan fortifies border with Afghanistan to reduce cross border attacks -- Pakistan Today

More Details Emerge On The Deaths Of 4 U.S. Special Forces Soldiers In Niger

Daily Mail: US official reveals it 'is likely four Green Berets killed in Niger were ambushed by dozens of ISIS militants in a surprise attack while on 'low risk' patrol with no aerial support'

* US official told CBS News October 4 patrol in Niger was considered low risk, and that's why Green Berets were not being protected from the air
* US and Nigerian soldiers were caught by surprise by 40-50 militants likely affiliated with ISIS in Greater Sahara
S Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black; Sgt La David Johnson; Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson lost their lives in the clash
* Johnson's family on Wednesday clashed with President Donald Trump over what he had allegedly told soldier's widow

Four Green Berets who were killed while on patrol on the Niger-Mali border earlier this month, along with four Nigerian soldiers, were allegedly caught by surprise by some four dozen militants linked to ISIS.

US officials have said US Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black; Sgt La David Johnson; Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson were among a dozen Green Berets traveling in unarmored trucks 120 miles north of Niger's capital of Niamey on October 4 when they were ambushed by 40 to 50 militants 'likely' linked to ISIS in Greater Sahara.

Read more ....

More Details Emerge On The Deaths Of 4 U.S. Special Forces Soldiers In Niger

Green Berets killed in Niger were caught by surprise, U.S. official says -- CBS News
Behind the ISIS group that ambushed US forces in Niger -- ABC News
Private contractor used to evacuate US forces in Niger ambush -- CNN
US has drones and hundreds of troops in Niger. Here's why -- CNN
US special forces deaths in Niger lift veil on shadow war against Islamists in Sahel -- The Guardian
Why US troops are in Niger -- ABC News

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- October 18, 2017



Anja Manuel, The Atlantic: China Is Quietly Reshaping the World

The staggering scope of the country’s infrastructure initiative—and what it means for the international order

The Pakistani town of Gwadar was until recently filled with the dust-colored cinderblock houses of about 50,000 fishermen. Ringed by cliffs, desert, and the Arabian Sea, it was at the forgotten edge of the earth. Now it’s one centerpiece of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, and the town has transformed as a result. Gwadar is experiencing a storm of construction: a brand-new container port, new hotels, and 1,800 miles of superhighway and high-speed railway to connect it to China’s landlocked western provinces. China and Pakistan aspire to turn Gwadar into a new Dubai, making it a city that will ultimately house 2 million people.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- October 18, 2017

China’s Xi sells his vision of new socialism to the world -- Nathan VanderKlippe, Globe and Mail

The Caliphate Is Gone, But the ISIS Franchise Lives On -- Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz

Al-Qaida set to gain as Islamic State disintegrates -- Bassem Mroue and Qassim Abdul-Sahra, AP

Syria war: Raqqa free, devastated and empty: Analysis -- Matt Brown, ABC News Online

Opposing the Nuke Deal is a Sideshow that Distracts from Iran's Expansionism in Syria and Iraq -- Frederic C. Hof, Newsweek

Kurdish Dreams of Independence Delayed Again -- Dexter Filkins, New Yorker

Why Marawi's 300,000-odd refugees don't blame Islamic State for drawn-out conflict: Analysis -- Adam Harvey, ABC News Online

Deadly Overconfidence: Trump Thinks Missile Defenses Work Against North Korea, and That Should Scare You -- Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang, War On The Rocks

What to Do About Turkey? -- Fredrik Wesslau, European Council on Foreign Relations

African rulers' weapon against web-based dissent: the off switch -- Edward McAllister, Reuters

Putin's greatest weakness may be located on US shores -- Anders Aslund, The Hill

Catalonia: what next for the independence movement? -- Sam Jones and Stephen Burgen, The Guardian

After Catalonia, Italy steps up for autonomy votes -- Tim Hedges, The Commentator

Accused of corruption, popularity near zero – why is Temer still Brazil's president? -- Dom Phillips, The Guardian

How Richard Branson Describes His Only Meeting With Donald Trump -- Rebecca Gibian, Real Clear Life

World News Briefs -- October 18, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: China's Xi lays out vision for 'new era' led by 'still stronger' Communist Party

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday laid out a confident vision for a more prosperous nation and its role in the world, stressing the importance of wiping out corruption and curbing industrial overcapacity, income inequality and pollution.

Opening a critical Communist Party congress, Xi pledged to build a “modern socialist country” for a “new era” that will be proudly Chinese and steadfastly ruled by the party but open to the world.

Although his wide-ranging address made clear there were no plans for political reform, Xi said China’s development had entered a “new era”, using the phrase 36 times in a speech that ran nearly 3-1/2 hours.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.S., Russia set for likely U.N. row over Syria toxic gas inquiry.

Turkey says will not submit to 'impositions' from United States in visa crisis.

Iraq takes disputed areas as Kurds 'withdraw to 2014 lines'. Kurdish forces abandon long-held lands to Iraqi army and Shia fighters.

Iraq's military declares mission accomplished in Kirkuk. Iraq's military declares mission accomplished in Kirkuk.

Syria war: UN says it is ready to go into Raqqa.

Turkey Red Crescent alarmed by humanitarian 'drama' in Syria's Idlib.

Iran's Khamenei threatens to 'shred' nuclear deal, blasts 'foul-mouthed' Trump. Khamenei says Iran will 'shred' nuclear deal if U.S. quits it.

Qatar's leader denounces 'unjust siege'.

Israel raids Palestinian media firms for 'incitement' .

ASIA

U.N. says still determining if Myanmar crisis is genocide.

Tillerson chides China while calling for greater ties with India.

EU leaders to call for end to North Korea's weapons program: draft.

North Korea congratulates China ahead of Communist Party congress.

Report: North Korea hiding behind Hong Kong shell companies.

North Korea defector: Hundreds of 'reformers' killed after Jang Song Thaek purge.

'Many people will die' as North Korean sanctions bite, defector says.

US drones target Taliban commander in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Rohingya crisis: Drone footage shows thousands fleeing.

Taliban overruns 2 districts in southern Afghanistan. Taliban kills scores in Afghanistan's Paktia and Ghazni.

AFRICA

UN chief to highlight world's 'forgotten crisis' in C. Africa.

Somalis defy police to protest against deadly truck bombings.

Farmajo blames al-Shabab for Mogadishu blast.

More than 300 people died in the worst terrorist attack ever to hit Somalia, and officials still aren't sure who caused it. Thousands march over ‘Somalia’s 9/11;’ attack details emerge.

UN, US failed to prevent ‘ethnic cleansing’ in South Sudan.

Senior Kenyan electoral official resigns ahead of poll. Kenyan election official flees to U.S. in fear for her life, saying new election will not be fair.

Uganda bans protests over presidential age limit bill.

Panama Papers: Africa's elite are plundering their countries.

Four Britons kidnapped in southern Nigeria: police.

Togo unrest: Opposition protesters demand presidential term limit.

Mugabe's wife sues over $1.35-mn diamond ring: report.

EUROPE

Socialite Ksenia Sobchak announces bid for Russian Presidency.

Talk of ‘no deal’ Brexit rises as divorce negotiations stall.

Catalonia to formally declare independence if Spain suspends regional autonomy: source.

Spanish PM warns Catalan leader to "act sensibly".

Spain warns Catalonia on self-rule as deadline looms. Spain says Catalonia's autonomy at risk as deadline looms.

Turkey-Europe locked in war of words as EU summit opens.

Portugal fires: Minister resigns as government faces challenge. Portuguese minister resigns over 106 wildfire deaths.

Ukraine anti-graft protesters clash with riot police.

Malta: Europe reels from murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Bosnian Serbs pass resolution against NATO membership.

AMERICAS

Gold Star mother says Trump did show DISRESPECT as he spoke to Green Beret's widow - as president insists congresswoman who claimed he said hero 'knew what he signed up for' is FABRICATING his words.

Grassley probes Clinton 'conflicts of interest' amid new questions in Russia uranium deal.

Jeff Sessions on Russia interference: 'I'm not part of a faรงade'.

Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election.

Trump slams NFL for not forcing players to stand for US anthem.

Second US judge orders freeze on Trump travel ban.

Puerto Rico youth stranded with school still out from storm.

California drill preparing 9.3 million for ‘INEVITABLE’ magnitude 7 earthquake tomorrow.

Venezuela opposition refuses swearing in, small protest breaks out.

Canada passes US-style sanctions bill targeting ‘corrupt’ Russian officials.

Quebec lawmakers pass religious neutrality bill banning face coverings. Quebec bans niqab for public services with neutrality law.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

After IS collapse in Raqqa, US faces other extremism threats.

Experts: Islamic State 'death spiral' most dangerous part of fight for U.S. coalition.

MI5 intelligence chief Andrew Parker warns UK faces accelerating terror threat.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Dow closes above 23,000 for first time; IBM soars.

US, Canada and Mexico talks on NAFTA trade stall on trade deficit issues.

'Future city' to be built in Canada by Alphabet company.

Rio Tinto charged with fraud by US authorities.