Sunday, April 23, 2017

Afghanistan In Mourning After Friday's Deadly Taliban Assault On An Afghan Base Killed Over 140 Soldiers



Al Jazeera: Afghanistan mourns after deadly Taliban attack on base

President Ashraf Ghani calls for an investigation into the deadliest ever Taliban attack on an Afghan military base.

President Ashraf Ghani declared a national day of mourning on Saturday after scores of soldiers were killed by Taliban fighters disguised as fellow troops in the deadliest attack of its kind on an Afghan military base.

Afghan officials said the death toll jumped to 140 following Friday's assault on the army headquarters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Another 160 people were wounded in the attack, Mohammad Ibrahim Khair Andesh, head of the provincial council, announced.

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More News After Friday's Deadly Taliban Assault On An Afghan Base That Killed Over 140 Soldiers

Afghanistan in mourning after Taliban attack on army base -- DW
Mourning declared after scores of troops die in Afghan base attack -- Reuters
Afghanistan Declares National Mourning After Army Base Attack Kills More Than 130 -- RFE
Confusion, chaos after Taliban breach Afghan base in deadly attack -- Fiscal Times
Afghan anger mounts as death toll from army base attack soars -- France 24

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Civilian Casualties From U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrikes Are Seldom If Ever Investigated



L.A. Times: Civilian casualties from airstrikes grow in Iraq and Syria. But few are ever investigated

A recent airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is believed to have caused more than 270 civilian deaths, a tragedy that provoked an international outpouring of grief and outrage.

But the uproar over the March 17 deaths in the Jadidah neighborhood of Mosul masks a grim reality: Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of other civilians have died in hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during the war against Islamic State, and it appears likely that the vast majority of those deaths were never investigated by the U.S. military or its coalition partners.

It also appears that the number of civilian casualties has risen in recent months as combat has shifted to densely populated west Mosul and the coalition has undertaken the heaviest bombing since the war began almost three years ago.

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WNU Editor: The focus right now is on defeating the enemy .... conducting investigations on civilian casualties, body counts, etc. .... this is not the current priority for the US coalition or even for the Iraqi government.

Islamic State Moves Its Capital In Syria From Raqaa To Deir el-Zour



FOX News: ISIS moves its capital in Syria

In the wake of increased airstrikes and pressure applied from three directions by U.S.-backed Syrian forces, the Islamic State has essentially moved its so-called capital in Syria, U.S. defense officials told Fox News.

ISIS is now centered in Deir ez-Zur, roughly 90 miles southeast of Raqqa, the officials said.

U.S. military drones have watched hundreds of ISIS “bureaucrats,” or administrators, leaving Raqqa in the past two months for
the city of al-Mayadin located further down the Euphrates River from Deir el-Zour where U.S. Central Command announced that it killed mid-level ISIS “operative” Abdurakhmon Uzbeki.

The looming battle for Raqqa is imminent but the ISIS government is no longer there, according to officials.

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More News On The Battle For Raqqa

ISIS ‘essentially moved’ its Syria stronghold from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor province – report -- RT
Islamic State moves caliphate to new capital in Syria -- Iraqi News
Over 10,000 Civilians Rescued During 'Operation Euphrates Rage' in Raqqa -- Sputnik
Life inside ISIS capital Raqqa: Impossible to live, impossible to leave -- FOX News
U.S.-allied Syrian groups already have a plan to govern Raqqa after ISIS is defeated -- Reuters
After Raqqa "Liberation" US to give Control to 'Rebels', not Syrian Government -- MINA
Syria's Assad Mocks Delay of Assault on Raqqa -- VOA
MAPPED: The battle against ISIL -- Al Jazeera

The Battle For The Iraqi City of Mosul -- News Updates April 22, 2017



DW: Mosul: The battle for Iraq's future

Three-fourths of the Iraqi metropolis have been freed from "Islamic State." As anti-IS forces advance on the northwestern city of Mosul, what's needed is a political strategy.

The drones are especially dangerous. Islamic State fighters have been sending more and more unmanned aircraft into the air, according to the Iraqi army. Buzzing overhead, the ground-controlled drones release deadly explosives down upon the ranks of their opponents.

In the mean time, the Iraqi military has adapted to the aerial threat, but the drones - small and, therefore, difficult to distinguish from afar - are still dangerous, particularly in street battles, when soldiers don't have the time to keep an eye on what might fly overhead.

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The Battle For The Iraqi City of Mosul -- News Updates April 22, 2017

Iraqi forces retake two more western Mosul districts as hundreds more join exodus -- Military Times/Reuters
Iraqi forces tighten the noose around Daesh in Western Mosul -- Al Bawaba
Iraqi army announces liberation of new west Mosul neighbourhood -- RUDAW
63 targets controlled, 20 IS leaders killed since February in western Mosul: Federal Police -- Iraqi News
Drone video shows ISIS moving civilians into home as human shields -- ABC news
Video: ISIS Using Mosul Residents as Human Shields -- US News and World Report
The Pentagon says this video shows ISIS using 'sinister' new tactics in Mosul -- Military Times
Coalition confirms ISIS used chemical weapons in Mosul -- RUDAW
Islamic State using home-made rockets to deliver mustard gas in Mosul -- SOFREP
Kuwaiti in charge of training IS snipers killed in western Mosul -- Iraqi News
Iraqis displaced in Mosul fight sickened by toxic oil fires -- UPI
‘No other place to take them’: Devastated Mosul hospital struggles to treat injured patients (VIDEO) -- RT
Resentment festers in Mosul: just ask Saddam Hussein -- Reuters
This is life inside Mosul's Old City -- Salma Abdelaziz, Scott McWhinnie and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
Revenge or Reconciliation — The Future of Mosul -- Jamie Dettmer, VOA

North Korea Threatens Australia With A Nuclear Strike If It 'Blindly Toes The U.S. Line'

© Damir Sagolj / Reuters

ABC News Online: North Korea threatens nuclear strike against Australia if it doesn't stop 'blindly toeing US line'

North Korea has warned Australia it could be hit with nuclear weapons if it continues to "blindly" follow the United States.

The comments came after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier this week said on the ABC's AM program that North Korea's nuclear weapons program posed a "serious threat" to Australia unless it was stopped by the international community.

A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry accused Australia of "spouting a string of rubbish" about the isolated regime, and warned against following the US.

"The present Government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line," the spokesman said.

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More News On North Korea Threatening Australia With A Nuclear Strike If It 'Blindly Toes The U.S. Line'

North Korea warns Australia of possible nuclear strike if it 'blindly toes US line' -- The Guardian
North Korea threatens nuclear war with Australia saying the country is 'within range' of Kim Jong-un's missile arsenal and warning Malcolm Turnbull not to cosy up to Trump's U.S. -- Daily Mail
North Korea warns Australia of nuclear strike over Julie Bishop's comments -- Sydney Morning Herald Tribune
North Korea warns Australia to stop 'zealously toeing the US line' -- AFR Weekend
Labor concerned as NKorea ups rhetoric -- 7News
N. Korea accuses Australia of ‘blindly toeing US line,’ threatens nuclear strike -- RT

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On France's Presidential Election



Kevin Lees, Suffragio: The Six possible Runoffs That Could Result From France's Sunday Election

On Sunday, voters in France — soon to be the second-most populous member-state of the European Union — will decide the two finalists, out of a field of 11, who will battle for the French presidency next month.

Since February, polls have consistently shown centrist independent Emmanuel Macron and hard-right Marine Le Pen, the leader of the eurosceptic and anti-immigrant Front national, most likely to advance to the May 7 runoff. Macron, a former economy minister in outgoing president François Hollande’s administration, has waged an unorthodox and personalized campaign, pulling supporters from both the center-right and the center-left under the banner of a new political movement, En marche (Forward).

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Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On France's Presidential Election

French election: Vote for president could reshape Western world: ANALYSIS -- ABC News Online
How to Win France’s Election: Four candidates have a real path to the presidency. -- Helene Fouquet, Bloomberg
French election reflects death of the political party -- John Lloyd, Reuters
French polls show populist fever is here to stay as globalisation makes voters pick new sides -- Christophe Guilluy, The Guardian
The Upward Spiral of France's Far Left -- Robert Zaretsky, RCW
In or out? EU is hot-button issue in French vote -- Cécile Feuillatre, AFP
In France, If Le Pen Cracks 30% 'She Could Win It All' -- Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes
What Would a Le Pen Victory in France Mean for Markets? -- WSJ
What are Marine Le Pen’s odds of victory? -- The Economist
Why Marine Le Pen May Sway France's Undecided and Apathetic Voters -- Oscar Lopez, Newsweek
Le Pen win in France could hit markets, endanger the euro -- FOX News/AP
Terrorism in France: What ISIS Hopes to Get out of Attacking France so Close to the Elections -- Newsweek
Why you should care about the French election -- Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN
French elections 2017: disintegrating left-right divide sets stage for political upheaval -- The Guardian/Observer
The Battle for France -- Scott McConnell, American Conservative
The French, Coming Apart: A social thinker illuminates his country’s populist divide. -- Christopher Caldwell, CJ
The Observer view on the French presidential election -- Observer editorial
Is France the next domino to fall in the far right populist movement? -- L.A. Times editorial
Social media timeout as French election reaches final stage -- Raphael Satter, AP
How France's election could have a big impact on the US -- Rich Edson, FOX Nnews

Intelligence Agencies Warn Of Riots After Sunday's French Presidential Elections

A photo illustration shows a French voter card in front of pictures of the candidates for the French presidential election, April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/Illustration

The Telegraph: Presidential election could lead to rioting in French cities, intelligence agencies warn

Riots could break out in cities across France after results are announced of the first round of the presidential election, intelligence services have warned, as the most unpredictable vote in decades goes ahead amid a heightened terror alert.

Trouble is almost certain if the far-Right leader Marine Le Pen and her far-Left counterpart Jean-Luc-Mélenchon are the two candidates who make it through to the second and final round on May 7, according to a report issued by French intelligence services.

The confidential document, leaked to Le Parisien newspaper, said that at the top of the list of potential security problems as millions of France cast their ballots was the “jihadist threat.”

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WNU Editor: Everyone is nervous .... and running up the fear seems to always happen in close elections.

France Prepares To Go To The Polls -- News Updates April 22, 2017





AFP: France on edge as presidential vote looms

Paris (AFP) - France was on edge Saturday on the eve of its most unpredictable presidential election in decades, which will take place under heightened security after the jihadist killing of a policeman.

The shooting on Paris's world-renowned Champs Elysees avenue on Thursday, claimed by the Islamic State group, thrust questions of security to the fore of campaigning after nine months of relative calm.

On Saturday, police arrested a man carrying a knife at Paris's Gare du Nord station, briefly causing panic as some passengers rushed out of the way.

France goes to the polls on Sunday in an election seen as crucial for the future of a deeply divided country and the beleaguered European Union.

Surveys suggest that nearly a quarter of voters are still undecided and that until now the French have been more concerned about jobs and the economy than terrorism.

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France Prepares To Go To The Polls -- News Updates April 22, 2017

France kicks off presidential vote overseas; security tight -- AP
Overseas voters kick off crucial French presidential election -- Reuters
France on edge as presidential vote looms -- Channel News Asia/AFP
Security dominates French election after shooting -- Reuters
Shadow of terror attacks hangs over France as polls prepare to open -- The Guardian
France gets ready for a rocky vote -- FOX News
France votes in cliffhanger presidential election on Sunday -- Reuters
Tight race for the Elysee Palace -- DW
France set for crucial presidential election -- Al Jazeera
France's 11 presidential hopefuls stake out positions on TV -- FOX News/AP
Fake News Floods France Ahead of Sunday’s Presidential Election -- Fortune/Reuters
Tear gas, smoke grenades & flares: Violence erupts at Paris protest day before election (VIDEO) -- RT
French election: What voters in Paris' Barbes Market think about the candidates -- ABC News Online
Dispatch: Marine Le Pen rides high in France's bellwether town that always backs the winning president -- The Telegraph

Crisis In Venezuela -- News Updates April 22, 2017



CBC: Venezuela spiralling into chaos amid looting, militarized police

At least 20 have died since April 4 as frustrated Venezuelans protest Maduro government

The smell of tear gas and smoke from fires filled the air in several Caracas neighbourhoods on Friday after a night that saw at least 12 people die. In the humble district of El Valle, people screamed, while the sound of gunshots sent neighbours and protesters running for safety

Protesters are vowing to continue their opposition to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, after the deadliest day in three weeks of one anti-government protest after another.

Among the dead were eight people who were electrocuted in a bakery as it was being looted. About 20 have died in the past month, most shot in the head.

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Crisis In Venezuela -- News Updates April 22, 2017

Venezuelans march in memory of those killed in unrest -- AP
Venezuela opposition holds silent march to honour dead -- BBC
Venezuela opposition march to honor those killed in violence -- Reuters
Venezuela opposition vows further anti-govt protests -- Straits Times/AFP
Venezuela protests: Looting, shootings leave 13 dead in one day -- CNN
Venezuela braces for new protest in wave of unrest -- Al Jazeera
As Venezuela's Unrest Grows, Security Forces Struggle to Boost Ranks -- VOA
Government opponents appeal to Venezuela’s military as chaos grows -- Washington Post
Venezuela opposition boss asks Wall Street to cut off Maduro -- Washington Post/AP
Venezuela Only Has $10 Billion Left in Reserves -- FOX 40/CNN Wire
Protests Against President Maduro In Venezuela Near Breaking Point -- NPR
Why is Venezuela in crisis again? -- Javier Farje, Al Jazeera
Venezuela: How paradise got lost -- Ray Sanchez, CNN

President Trump Has Only Nominated 15% Of His Executive Branch

President Donald Trump's Cabinet gathers in the Oval Office on March 13, 2017. Donald Trump/Twitter

Business Insider: WHO'S RUNNING THE GOVERNMENT? Trump has yet to fill 85% of key executive branch positions

Nearly 100 days into his term, President Donald Trump hasn't nominated anyone for 85% of key executive branch positions that require Senate confirmation.

Of the 554 positions requiring confirmation, as of Saturday, 473 have no nominee, 35 have been announced but not formally nominated, 24 have been nominated, and just 22 have been confirmed thus far, according to a database put together by the Washington Post and the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.

By this point in his first term, former president Barack Obama had 120 people nominated and just 54 confirmed, according to data provided to Business Insider by the Partnership for Public Service.

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WNU Editor: If President Trump wants to implement his agenda, this needs to be fixed ASAP. All the positions that need to be filled can be viewed here.

The Story Of 2 Marines In The Path Of A Truck Bomb


Paul Szoldra, Business Insider: Everyone should read John Kelly's speech about 2 Marines in the path of a truck bomb

Nine years ago, two US Marines from very different walks of life met for the first time when they were put on guard duty at 7:30 in the morning.

Just minutes later, the pair of Marines guarding a gate in Ramadi, Iraq, were staring down a large blue truck packed with 2,000 pounds of explosives. They could have sought cover, like an Iraqi policeman on the scene who ran away and lived.

Instead, Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter and Cpl. Jonathan Yale stood their ground. Their split-second choice saved the lives of 50 people.

In 2010, then-Lt. Gen. John Kelly — who now serves as Secretary of Homeland Security — told their story to a packed house just four days after he had lost his own son, Robert, to combat in Afghanistan.

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WNU Editor: No comment necessary.

Mexico's Drug Cartels Are Ramping Up Heroin Production



VOA: Mexico Heroin Output Jumps; US Offers to Help Fund Eradication

MEXICO CITY — The United States has offered to help fund Mexico’s efforts to eradicate opium poppies, the U.S. assistant secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) said Friday, as Mexican heroin output increased again last year.

“We would be prepared to support (opium eradication efforts) should we reach a basic agreement in terms of how they would do more and better eradication in the future,” William Brownfield of INL, part of the State Department, said in an interview.

“That is on the table, but I don’t want you to conclude that it’s a done deal, because we still have to work through the details,” he said, without specifying how much money the United States could provide.

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More News On Mexico's Drug War/Crisis

Mexico has enlisted the US military in its war on heroin -- Reuters
US offers to help fund Mexico’s heroin eradication efforts ‒ report -- RT
In a First, Mexico Opens Heroin Fight to US, UN Observers -- VOA/Reuters
Top drug cartel leaders killed in Mexico near US border -- DW
Mexico kills Gulf cartel boss in Reynosa shootout -- Reuters
Treasury targets two Mexican companies connected to drug cartel -- The Hill
Drug cartels reusing Mexican tunnels already discovered but left unfilled -- FOX News
Ruthless, but charming female members are taking over Mexico's drug cartels -- Houston Chronicle
7 Mexican Leaders with Ties to Drug Cartels -- Breitbart
Mexico's brutal drug violence has hit a new level of complexity -- Christopher Woody, Business Insider

The Trump Administration Is Intensifying Its Campaign To Find And Eliminate Al Qaeda Leader al-Zawahiri Gone

Osama bin Laden, left, sits with his adviser and successor Ayman al-Zawahri, on November 10, 2001. Zawahiri, an Egyptian, is now the head of Al-Qaeda. REUTERS/HAMID MIR/EDITOR/AUSAF NEWSPAPER FOR DAILY DAWN

Jeff Stein, Newsweek: Ayman al-Zawahiri: How a CIA Drone Strike Nearly Killed the Head of Al Qaeda

He has been the forgotten man in the West’s desperate campaign to obliterate the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). He didn’t even merit a cameo in the celebratory coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in 2011. For several years, he has been described as the leader of a spent force.

Yet Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s mentor and successor, remains a key player in an attack threat to America that retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, the U.S. homeland security secretary, says is "worse today than what we experienced 16 years ago on 9/11.” And if officials in the Donald Trump administration have their way, al-Zawahiri’s name will soon be as familiar to the world as bin Laden’s once was.

The White House signaled a new, tougher approach to eliminating al-Zawahiri and his militant allies in early April with the appointment of Lisa Curtis to head the South Asia desk for the National Security Council. A well-known former CIA analyst, congressional staffer and foreign policy hawk in Washington, D.C’s think-tank circuit, Curtis caused a stir in February when she co-authored a piece arguing that the U.S. “should...hold Pakistan accountable for the activities of all terrorist groups on its soil.”

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WNU Editor: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has always been a high priority target for U.S. intelligence and the military, doubly so if theses reports are true .... An Islamic State - Al Qaeda Alliance? (April 18, 2017). But if reports that Pakistan is protecting him are true .... Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden's successor, sheltered by Pakistan's ISI: Report (IBTimes) .... he is not going to be an easy target to get.

The U.S. Is Building Airfields In Syria


War Is Boting: The U.S. Military Expands Its Network of Syrian Airfields

Bases make it easier to bring in supplies for the SDF

A recent article in the Russian state-owned Sputnik Turkey outlet speculated that the airfield the United States built from scratch in the Syrian-Kurdish Kobani region could become a substitute for Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base.

The assertion is likely correct—but only to an extent. The United States has never been able to completely rely on Incirlik, where the U.S. Air Force bases a modest fleet warplanes and drones along with thousands of service members. Incirlik is also the home for around 50 of America’s B-61 nuclear bombs.

Today is no different. Ankara vehemently disapproves of U.S. support for Syrian-Kurdish militants fighting the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey fears the militants will seek to aid Kurdish insurgents in Turkey itself, and frequently rose the prospect of prohibiting American warplanes from using the base in recent months.

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WNU Editor: I can see the U.S. using these airbases as a means to bring in supplies and (maybe) being a forward base for helicopter gunships. But basing fighter jets and bombers .... the logistics and manpower would be too great.

A Look At What Is Needed To Sink A U.S. Aircraft Carrier

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) (R) conduct dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific in the Philippine Sea on June 18, 2016. Courtesy Jake Greenberg/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

Robert Farley, Fox Trot Alpha: What It Would Really Take To Sink A Modern Aircraft Carrier

The modern aircraft carrier is a global symbol of American dominance, hegemony, peace, even empire. But at over 1,000 feet long, and displacing more than 100,000 tons, is it a sitting duck? Is the massive emblem of American greatness just an obsolete, vulnerable hunk of steel?

There’s a lot of consternation about whether or not the United States should even have massive supercarriers anymore. Obviously, the answer here is “depends on how much explosives you’ve got.” But while sinking an aircraft carrier is difficult, it’s not impossible. The key is what it’s used for, and who it’s used against. But if you wanted to sink one, here’s what you’d have to do, and what you’d be up against.

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WNU Editor: Bottom line .... not impossible, but it will be difficult.

Is The North Korean Submarine Fleet A Threat?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) stands on the conning tower of a submarine during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167 © KCNA / Reuters

Kyle Mizokami, National Interest: North Korea's Submarine Fleet: A Big Threat or a Big Joke?

North Korea should by all rights be a naval power. A country sitting on a peninsula, Korea has a long naval tradition, despite being a “shrimp” between the two “whales” of China and Japan. However, the partitioning of Korea into two countries in 1945 and the stated goal of unification —by force if necessary—lent the country to building up a large army, and reserving the navy for interdiction and special operations roles. Now, in the twenty-first century, the country’s navy is set to be the sea arm of a substantial nuclear deterrent.

The Korean People’s Navy (KPN) is believed to have approximately sixty thousand men under arms—less than one-twentieth that of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) ground forces. This, as well as comparable budget makes the KPN’s auxiliary role to the KPA. KPN draftees spend an average of five to ten years, so while Pyongyang’s sailors may not have the latest equipment, they do end up knowing their jobs quite well.

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WNU Editor: They are a threat only within North/South Korean waters. Beyond that .... not much (at least from what we know).

Editor's Note


WNU Editor: Just a small plug here for another website that I have been involved with for a very long time. It has nothing to do with war, defense, military, or international politics. It is a free ebook library with about 20,000 ebooks. I started this with a business partner after 9/11 (our response to that day .... free ebooks and education .... not war) ....  and I have been told it is the second oldest ebook library website on the web (Gutenberg is the oldest). I will be updating/editing/correcting/adding 20,000 more ebooks/and modernising the site (after renovating my home this is now my next big project) .... but fear not .... it will not impact my posting on War News Updates nor my travel plans later this summer. But for the moment, everyone's support by simply visiting this site will be appreciated.

The link to the site is here .... Bookyards

North Korea's Nuclear Test Site Is Back In Business

RCD/38 North: North Korea's Nuclear Site Back in Action

Commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 19 indicates probable trailers near the North Portal, the tunnel that North Korea appears to have been preparing for a nuclear test. While no recent dumping is observed, there are at least five mining carts along the tracks leading to the spoil pile and one probable small equipment trailer adjacent to the support building. A net canopy remains in place, presumably concealing equipment, and the pumping of water out of the tunnel to maintain an environment optimal for instrumentation and stemming seems to have ceased.

Read more ....

Update #1: Volleyball Over, North Koreans Go Back to Work at Nuclear Site, Analysts Say (NYT)
Update #2: Report: North Korea Appears Ready for Nuclear Weapons Test (VOA)

WNU Editor: If they do a test .... it will be North Korea's way of giving a finger to everyone .... and I mean everyone.