Friday, December 15, 2017

US National Security Adviser HR McMaster: Qatar and Turkey Are New Sponsors Of Extremist Islamist Ideology

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

The National: US national security adviser: Qatar and Turkey are new sponsors of radical ideology

General HR McMaster attributed the rise of the Justice and Development party in Ankara to Turkey's growing problems with the West.

US national security adviser HR McMaster condemned Qatar and Turkey for taking on a “new role” as the main sponsors and sources of funding for extremist Islamist ideology that targets western interests.

“Radical Islamist ideology is a grave threat to all civilised people,” Gen McMaster said.

The US national security adviser said this threat has been identified “myopically” in the past.

“We didn’t pay enough attention to how it’s [radical Islamist ideology] being advanced through charities, madrassas and other social organisations."

While Gen McMaster made reference to Saudi Arabia's support for some of these organisations decades ago, he singled out Qatar and Turkey as main supporters at present. “[It] is now done more by Qatar, and by Turkey," he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Qatar has been on everyone's sights in the past few years for being a supporter of extremist groups .... its support of radical Syrian rebel groups comes to mind. But the case of Turkey is slightly more complicated. That country is being run more on the whims of Turkish President Erdogan .... especially on foreign policy.

Iran Has A Weird-Looking .50-Caliber Sniper Rifle



War Is Boring: The Heidar Is Iran’s Weird-Looking .50-Caliber Sniper Rifle

Look at that grip.

Iran regularly over-hypes its military technology, and in some cases, shows off bogus equipment for propaganda purposes. Iran’s military industry is also resourceful and produces interesting weapons which the Islamic republic then proliferates into very real conflicts.

As a latter example, Iran in April 2017 revealed the .50-caliber, semi-automatic Heidar sniper rifle to coincide with the annual Iran Army Day, an event for showcasing new hardware. The odd-looking weapon is an anti-material rifle primarily designed to destroy equipment and vehicles.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It appears to work .... and that is what counts.

Second Investigation Into U.S. Somalia Raid That Killed 10 Civilians

Gen. Thomas Waldhauser speaks after assuming command of U.S. Africa Command during a ceremony at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany, July 18, 2016. U.S. AFRICA COMMAND

The Hill: General requests second investigation into Somalia raid

The general in charge of U.S. Africa Command (Africom) has requested a second investigation into an August raid in Somalia after reports that U.S. soldiers killed 10 civilians, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

“Subsequent media reports alleged misconduct by U.S. personnel who participated in the operation,” Africom spokewoman Robyn Mack said in a statement. “As a result, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command, referred the matter to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to ensure a full exploration of the facts given the gravity of the allegations.”

Read more ....

More News On A Second Investigation Being Ordered Into A U.S. Somalia Raid That Killed 10 Civilians

US commander orders new probe into Somalia raid -- AP
U.S. military orders additional probe into August Somalia raid -- Reuters
US Africa Command orders second probe into Somalia attack -- iol
AFRICOM seeks probe into civilian deaths in Somalia raid -- Stars and Stripes

Professor Niall Ferguson’s Take On The Current Global Situation


Policy Exchange: Niall Ferguson compares balance of power to Congress of Vienna at Policy Exchange’s Anglo-American conference

Professor Niall Ferguson, who spoke at the launch of Policy Exchange’s new Anglo-American project, argued that the best historical analogy for the current balance of powers is with the pentarchy of five great powers that dominated European (and hence world) affairs for a century after the Congress of Vienna of 1814-15. A modern pentarchy was created in the form of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Professor argues that “Whether or not these five great powers can make common cause once again is the great geopolitical question of our time.”

Professor Ferguson’s full remarks are given below:

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I love reading this stuff. Kudos to the Policy Exchange for making this happen .... New Anglo-American project launched with high-level conference in Washington (Policy Exchange).

Hat tip to Gabriel for the above link.

Trump, Putin Speak By Phone To Discuss North Korea

© Alexei Druzhinin/Russian President's press service/TASS

TASS: Putin, Trump discuss North Korean nuclear issue by phone

The sides agreed to maintain contact

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. The presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, have held a phone conversation to discuss various international issues, including the Korean nuclear problem, the Kremlin press service said on Friday.

"On the US initiative, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump have held a phone conversation. Acute issues of bilateral relations, as well as the situation in crisis hotspots worldwide were discussed, with an emphasis placed on settling the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue," the press service said in a statement.

The sides agreed to maintain contact, the Kremlin said.

The White House said later in the day that the two leaders "discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea."

Read more ....

More News On President Trump Calling Russian President Putin To Discuss North Korea

Putin, Trump Discuss Russia-US Relations, North Korea in Phone Call -- Sputnik
Trump calls Putin to thank him for praise of U.S. economy -- USA Today
In phone call, Trump thanks Putin for praise, looks for help on North Korea -- Politico
Trump, Putin Speak After Russian Leader Praises U.S. Economy -- Bloomberg
Trump, Putin speak by phone -- CNN
Trump and Putin discuss 'working together to resolve' North Korea nuclear crisis -- The Independent

This Is Russian President Putin's View Of President Trump And Washington

© Sputnik/ Michael Klimentyev

Sputnik: 'Putin Now Realizes Trump's Hands are Tied' - Think Tank Fellow

The Russian president devoted considerable attention to Russian-US relations during the course of his regular year-end press conference. George Szamuely, a senior fellow at London Metropolitan University's Global Policy Institute, told Sputnik the three important things he took away from Putin's remarks.

Putin's press conference took place Thursday, with Russian and foreign journalists asking the president dozens of questions about Moscow's foreign and domestic policy, including Putin's views on the state of Russian-US relations.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: No surprises from this London Metropolitan University Global Policy Institute's Russian expert ....  I am hearing the same thing from Russian news media and the Kremlin's pundit class.

Is Russia's Military Leaner And More Meaner?

Military parade in Red Square. Wikipedia

Leonid Bershidsky, Blommberg: Russia's Military Is Leaner, But Meaner

Vladimir Putin's military may be less well funded than Donald Trump's, but it's better suited to modern conflicts.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference on Thursday, a friendly journalist asked Putin whether the escalating tension in relations with the U.S. and the crumbling of arms control treaties would draw Russia into an unsustainable arms race. "We will ensure our security without engaging in an arms race," the president replied, citing widely diverging dollar numbers for the U.S. and Russian defense budgets.

That's a simplistic answer from a politician starting an election campaign (of sorts: Putin is headed for re-election in March without giving anyone else a chance). The more pointed question that should be asked is this: How, with a relatively small and decreasing military budget -- 2.77 trillion rubles ($42.3 billion) for 2018, down from some 3.05 trillion rubles this year -- is Russia is still a formidable military rival to the U.S., with its enormous and increasing budget of almost $692.1 billion in 2018, up from $583 billion this year?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am not sure about labeling the Russian military as "leaner" . They also have serious military development and procurement problems like the U.S., as well as the same inefficiencies that drive any large organization. As to labeling the Russian military as "more meaner" .... there is probably some truth to that. The rules of engagement for the Russian military are not restricted as they are for American soldiers .... and that does make a difference on the battlefield.

Tweets For Today





Chief Of The British Defence Staff Warns That Russia Could Cut Off The Internet To Nato Countries

The Royal Navy's Type 42 destroyer steams alongside Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

The Guardian: Russia could cut off internet to Nato countries, British military chief warns

Air Chief Marshall Peach says Russian ships have been spotted close to Atlantic cables that carry communications between Europe and the US

Russia could pose a major threat to the UK and other Nato nations by cutting underwater cables essential for international commerce and the internet, the chief of the British defence staff, Sir Stuart Peach, has warned.

Russian ships have been regularly spotted close to the Atlantic cables that carry communications between the US and Europe and elsewhere around the world.

Air Chief Marshall Peach, who in September was appointed chair of the Nato military committee, said Russia had continued to develop unconventional warfare. He added that threats such as those to underwater cables meant the UK and its allies had to match the Russian navy in terms of modernising its fleet.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I think Russia has more important things to do than cutting off the internet, and if they did .... I doubt that they would be able to hide such an operation, making the blow-back not worth the risk.

Picture Of The Day

Russian President Vladimir Putin aboard the presidential plane during a flight to the Hmeymim Airbase in Syria on December 11, 2017. © Sputnik/ Michael Klimentyev

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Vladimir Putin's Surprise Visit to Hmeymim Airbase Amid Victory Over Daesh (Sputnik)

The Interesting History Of The Russian Consulate in San Francisco

Russian Federation Consulate. 2790 Green Street. San Francisco, California, USA. Wikipedia

Zach Dorfman, Foreign Policy: The Secret History of the Russian Consulate in San Francisco

Overflights, mapping fiber-optic networks, “strange activities.” Moscow’s West Coast spies were busy.

The first thing you need to understand about the building that, until very recently, housed the Russian Consulate in San Francisco — a city where topography is destiny, where wealth and power concentrate, quite literally, at the top — is its sense of elevation. Brick-fronted, sentinel-like, and six stories high, it sits on a hill in Pacific Heights, within one of the city’s toniest zip codes. This is a neighborhood that radiates a type of wealth, power, and prestige that long predates the current wave of nouveau riche tech millionaires, or the wave before that, or the one before that. It is old and solid and comfortable with its privilege; its denizens know they have a right to rule. Indeed, from Pacific Heights, one can simultaneously gaze out on the city, the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge — and, beyond, the vast, frigid Pacific.

The second thing you need to understand about the closure of Russia’s San Francisco consulate is that, after the Trump administration summarily announced on Aug. 31 that it would shutter the building 48 hours later, the news coverage that followed almost uniformly focused on two things: the dumbfounding heat (this city, cool and grey, is in California but not of it) and the black smoke wheezing from the consulate’s chimney, as employees rushed to burn up, one assumes, anything confidential or inculpatory.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a fascinating read.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Russian President Putin 'Tired' Of Hearing Allegations From Warsaw That Moscow Is Responsible For A 2010 Plane Crash That Killed Then Polish President Lech Kaczynski

© Maxim Shemetov/TASS

Reuters: Putin says Poland should "grow up" and stop blaming Moscow for air crash

MOSCOW/WARSAW, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was tired of hearing allegations from Warsaw that a 2010 plane crash that killed then Polish President Lech Kaczynski was the result of a Russian conspiracy, drawing a sharp rebuke from Warsaw.

Responding to a question from a Polish reporter at an annual news conference, Putin said it was time for Poland to move beyond the plane crash, turn a new page, and “grow up”.

A Polish Air Force Tu-154 plane crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk on April 10, 2010, killing all 96 people on board, including President Kaczynski, whose twin brother Jaroslaw is now the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party, in power since 2015.

A previous Polish government concluded that pilot error was to blame for the crash, but Law and Justice ordered a new investigation which concluded this year that the plane was brought down by explosions on board.

Read more ....

Update: Putin castigates Poland’s attempt to blame Russia for presidential air crash as ‘bluff’ (TASS).

WNU Editor: This is what is getting Russian President Putin upset .... Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash (National Post/AP).

President Trump To Unveil His National Security Strategy Next Week

Trump Meets With Troops
From left, Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald J. Trump, and National Security Advisor Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster talk with service members during a lunch in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, July 18, 2017. White House photo by Shealah Craighead

US News and World Report/Reuters: Trump to Unveil Key National Security Strategy

Russia and China top the list of threats the Trump White House has identified as the president strives to fulfill campaign promises.

President Donald Trump will unveil his administration's first National Security Strategy on Monday, outlining what he considers the greatest global threats as well as America's goals and objectives for countering them, his top adviser for security issues says.

"Geopolitics are back and they are back with a vengeance," national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Tuesday at a conference organized by the London-based think tank Policy Exchange.

The document will be the first of its kind since the 2015 National Security Strategy released by President Barack Obama, the last of two such strategies from the 44th president's tenure. George W. Bush similarly issued two of the broad policy sketches during his administration. The document was mandated by the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act to be an annual report by the White House to Congress, though most have been late or non-existent.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  This national security paper is already generating a lot of debate, and the debate is going to be even more intense when it is finally released this Monday.

More News And Commentary On President Trump's National Security Strategy That Will Be Unveiled Next Week

McMaster previews new national security strategy ahead of next week's official release -- ABC News
Trump’s security paper offers stark vision of global rivalry -- AP
New US National Security Strategy Focused on 'Competitive Engagement' -- VOA
Trump Adviser Calls Russia and China ‘Threats’ to U.S. Liberty -- Bloomberg
Allies Are Key, Says Trump’s National Security Strategy -- Defense One
Trump's security paper offers stark vision of global rivalry -- ABC News
A National-Security Strategy Devoid of Values -- David Frum, The Atlantic
What Would an Honest National Security Strategy Say? -- Thomas Wright, War on the Rocks

My Take On Today's Repeal Of U.S. Government Regulations And Rules Over The Internet



WNU Editor: First things first .... a little background on what I know about the internet, and the hardware that drives it. To begin .... I still remember my first modem .... a 2400 baud box, which was then  followed by the 4800 baud modem .... which I did not buy because I knew was it was going to be quickly followed by the introduction of 9600 baud modems. This was then followed with 14.4Kpbs modems, a 28.9Kbps modem, and then the holiest of all modems ..... U.S. Robotics and their 56k modem. There was no turning back then. The first stock that I invested in was Northern Telecom .... around 1995-1996 .... because I knew that their products would be in demand as the internet became more known and accessible. Ditto with Cisco. And did these companies fly until they crashed in 2000 (I bailed out in 1999). But even though these companies disappeared .... new companies emerged that made the web faster, efficient, and easier to use. Ditto with the explosion of websites and projects on the web .... starting with Netscape (around 1994-1995 if I am correct) .... to where we are today. In my own case .... I started a computer hardware company with some friends in the mid 1990s in Canada, as well as starting a number of web projects. We even had a project that bought the domain names of major companies (before they realized the value of these web addresses).... knowing too well that they would be wanting to make a deal with us to get those domain names back. And yes .... each and everyone of these companies did come to us. I also backed my cousin's husband who started with his friends an internet service provider in Moscow .... as well as web projects .... including an amateur attempt to do a YouTube type of project .... but we were ahead of our time .... the bandwidth/storage/and technology to do this was not available. But that is the point .... with time companies saw this limitation as an opportunity, and eventually they did develop the technologies that made these opportunities possible. As for governments .... aside from a U.S. agency that assumed the role of determining who owned their web address .... during this time their involvement on the web was minimal at best.

A personal experience made me realize that this golden age of the web was coming to an end ... and it happened in Russia when the Russian government made the decision to regulate the web like a utility with its own version of "Net Neutrality". Not surprising ... that brief explosion of innovation and excitement in Russia died when these rules became enforced .... and the reason why is simple .... we all knew that we could not make money in an industry that was regulated by the Kremlin, because we knew that they would only favor the big web companies and their friends. This was followed by Y2K, hacking scares, network vulnerabilities and how important these networks are to keep the economy humming .... yup .... everything started to change then, and yes .... governments started to position themselves to play a bigger role.

Flash forward to today ...  the debate on what should be the role of government in regulating how the web should be managed is raging. From my own long personal and business experience .... I can say unequivocally that the web grew and developed because market forces were at play. I learned in the 1990s that for new technologies and ideas to be developed for the web by risk takers and entrepreneurs .... they need to operate in an unregulated environment, because if it is not there .... like in Russia when it imposed their rules .... they will go elsewhere. Unfortunately .... with today's FCC vote .... the media in the U.S. and elsewhere is not focused on what I am saying. It is focused on the premise that companies will not act fairly, and that users will be punished. And I understand that point .... a dozen years ago a Canadian communications company blocked one of their union's website during a strike. But that example also proved that if a company does behave like this .... there will be a backlash, and in this case the company in question .... Telus .... was condemned in public, in the media, and in government. Talk about bad publicity. But it should be noted that Telus is an exception to the rule .... not the rule.

Where do we go from here? This debate is not over. The Silicon Valley giants want the web to be regulated and controlled .... Here's how tech's responding to the net neutrality vote (CNet), and they have the money, resources, and patience to revisit this issue in the future. And this issue will be revisited.

China Continues To Build Structures On Its Artificial Islands In The South China Sea


Wall Street Journal: As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters

Beijing has constructed additional infrastructure in the South China Sea, says Washington think tank.

China has built more infrastructure on artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea in the past year, including underground tunnels and radar installations, even as it has sought to repair relations with other claimants, according to an analysis of fresh satellite images.

Beijing’s construction of the seven islands in the Spratlys archipelago since 2014 has raised deep concern in the U.S. and much of Asia that China could use them to try to enforce its claims to almost all the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

China completed land reclamation in the Spratlys in early 2016, but continued such work to expand outposts in the Paracel Islands until mid-2017, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, or AMTI, which released the images.

Read more ....

Update #1: While focus is on North Korea, China continues South China Sea buildup: think tank (Reuters)
Update #2: As tensions ease, China keeps building on disputed islands (National Post/AP)

WNU Editor: Here is an easy prediction .... The Chinese are going to continue to build-up their infrastructure on these islands, and may even build a few more islands even though they have promised neighboring countries that they would not. The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative report is here .... A Constructive Year for Chinese Base Building.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 14, 2017

Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria. United Nations

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian: 'Golden opportunity' lost as Syrian peace talks collapse

UN special envoy blasts Bashar al-Assad, who is ‘unwilling to meet anyone with a different opinion’

UN-sponsored talks in Geneva designed to end the Syrian civil war have collapsed, with a deflated special envoy Staffan de Mistura admitting “a golden big opportunity” had been missed.

He largely blamed the Syria government delegation for setting preconditions on holding direct talks with the opposition, saying it would be difficult for any future talks sponsor to make progress “if the government is not willing to meet anyone who has a different opinion”.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 14, 2017

Years of fruitless efforts to end Syrian conflict -- AFP

Putin Declared 'Mission Accomplished' in Syria. What's Next? -- Nikolas K. Gvosdev. National Interest

Turkey switches to full defiance of US, continues Putin courtship -- M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times

Iran's weak hand exposed by ongoing developments in Yemen -- Amir Basiri, Washington Examiner

Can Diplomacy Work with North Korea? -- Georgy Toloraya, 38 North

Is there a way to avoid war on the Korean Peninsula? -- Alexander Gillespie, Al Jazeera

The Dangerous Appetites of North Korea's Dictator -- Matthew Little, The Epoch Times

China is furious and Australia should expect more backlash after questioning its influence -- Ryan Manuel, ABC News Online

Will those presiding over the killings of Rohingya children ever face justice? -- National editorial

Political Islam, Intolerance, and the IS Threat in Indonesia -- Bobby Anderson, RCD/The Conversation

Australian universities accused of sharing military technology with China -- Tom Iggulden, ABC News Online

EU leaders' summit: What's on the agenda? -- David Martin, DW

With Russia, Try Try Again -- Michael Nordeen, RCD

The scars of Catalonia -- Paul Preston, New Statesman

Can the PRI Escape Peña Nieto's Legacy in Election? -- Paul Imison, WP Review

2017 Was Bad for Facebook. 2018 Will Be Worse. -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- December 14, 2017 (Evening Edition)



DW: Syria missed 'golden opportunity' at peace talks, says UN mediator de Mistura

A political solution to Syria's conflict may require "new ideas" to move peace talks forward, the UN's top mediator said. Going on seven years, the conflict has shown no sign of ending despite several attempts at peace.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN's Special Envoy for Syria, on Thursday said the latest round of peace talks aimed at advancing a political solution to the Syrian conflict was a "missed golden opportunity."

"I did not see the (Syrian) government really looking to find a way to have a dialogue and negotiate during this round," de Mistura said.

"I will probably need to come up with new ideas, parameters, about how to move the talks forward, particularly on constitution and elections."

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels: US. US gives evidence Iran supplied missiles that Yemen rebels fired at Saudi Arabia.

UN blames Damascus for 'golden opportunity missed' at Syria peace talks. U.N. calls Syria talks a 'big missed opportunity', seeks new ideas.

UN Syria envoy urges Putin to have ‘courage’ to push Assad.

U.S. jets fire flares to warn Russian jets in Syria.

UN: Syria's Ghouta faces 'complete catastrophe'.

UN chief: Iran may be defying UN on missiles, OK on nukes.

Hamas marks 30-year anniversary with Gaza rally.

Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket fire.

Netanyahu: OIC Jerusalem statement fails to impress us.

Turkish coast guard in dramatic rescue of stranded migrants.

Pence Middle East trip to go ahead.

ASIA

U.N. chief presses for release of arrested Reuters journalists in Myanmar.

Rohingya death toll likely above 10,000, MSF says amid exodus. 6,700 Rohingya Muslims killed in one month in Myanmar, MSF says.

South Korean President Moon in China on visit to repair ties. N Korea threat high on agenda of S Korea-China talks.

China constructing North Korean border refugee camps in preparation for disaster: leaked report.

China summons Australia's ambassador over influence row.

China's central bank raises interest rates after Fed rise.

India PM Modi's party seen sweeping state polls in popularity boost.

Fortified by family and China cash, Cambodia's strongman digs in.

AFRICA

Cameroon's Anglophones flee to Nigeria as crackdown grows.

UN warns of cost if South Sudan stymies 'last chance' peace plan.

Togo opposition wants regional backing for political change.

Kenyan police accused of rape in opposition strongholds after elections, says HRW.

Macron calls for Sahel force against armed groups.

Boko Haram tries to take over military base in NE Nigeria.

Somalia: Suicide bomber hits Mogadishu police academy. Somalia suicide bomber kills police at Mogadishu academy.

German naval vessel rescues more than 100 migrants off Libyan coast.

Congolese fighters convicted of raping young girls in landmark case. Militiamen jailed in DR Congo's Kavumu for raping 40 children.

Zimbabwe’s new leader begins journey to key 2018 election.

Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president, suffers double court blow.

Nelson Mandela’s family voice dismay at funeral corruption claims.

EUROPE

EU agrees to extend economic sanctions on Russia until mid-2018.

EU extends economic sanctions against Russia, agrees to new defense force.

Cyprus, Greece, Egypt vow closer security cooperation in Mediterranean.

Children killed as train and school bus collide in southern France.

Putin says will run as independent candidate for new Kremlin term.

Vladimir Putin takes aim at claims of US election meddling in marathon press conference. Putin: Trump opponents harm US with 'invented' Russia scandal.

EU leaders wrestle with migrant quotas at summit.

British troops breached Geneva conventions in Iraq, high court rules.

Theresa May: We're on course to deliver Brexit despite vote.

EU’s Tusk warns of bruising Brexit battle ahead, urges unity.

Brexit: Paris steps up efforts to lure London firms.

Eurozone economy to grow at faster rate, says central bank.

AMERICAS

Peru opposition demands president's immediate resignation.

Republicans forge tax deal, final votes seen next week.

‘Petro’-bolivar: Venezuela to launch oil-backed cryptocurrency. Venezuelans seeing bitcoin boom as survival, not speculation.

Mexico: murders of women rise sharply as drug war intensifies.

Mexico’s proposed security law draws strong criticism.

Colombia's main gang declares unilateral ceasefire.

Ecuador VP Jorge Glas sentenced for corruption in Odebrecht case.

Human foot found on Canada shoreline – the 13th such discovery in a decade.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

'Islamic State' is fighting with weapons made in the EU: study.

ISIS threatens National Cathedral in fiery propaganda image.

Terrorism not a ‘systemic threat’ to UK says former MI6 head.

Iraq hangs 38 members of IS, Qaeda for 'terrorism'.

US to publicize Khamenei's assets to prove Iranian support of terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall St falls as investors fret about tax bill passage.

World's richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half.

Rupert Murdoch reshapes media empire with $66bn Disney deal. Walt Disney buys Murdoch's Fox for $52.4bn.

As Bitcoin, other currencies soar, regulators urge caution.

US prosecutors confirm Uber target of criminal probe.

Vice President Pence Delays His Trip To The Middle East Because Of GOP Tax Vote



The Hill: Pence delays Israel trip over GOP tax bill

Vice President Pence will delay his trip to the Middle East as Congress prepares to vote on a major tax overhaul, his office said Thursday.

A Pence spokeswoman said the vice president plans to leave next week instead, so he can preside over the Senate during a vote on the tax bill.

“Yesterday, the White House informed Senate leadership that due to the historic nature of the vote in the Senate on tax cuts for millions of Americans, the vice president would stay to preside over the vote,” Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: With Senator McCain in hospital because of complications from his cancer treatment, and with Senator Corker hinting that he will not support the bill .... Vice President Pence's vote will be needed.

Update: Hmmmm .... maybe his vote will not be enough .... Rubio’s defection threatens Senate GOP’s margin on tax bill (AP)

More News On Vice President Pence Delaying His Trip To The Middle East Because Of GOP Tax Vote

Pence delays Israel trip to stay for possible Senate tiebreaker -- Politico
Pence delays Middle East trip in case needed for U.S. tax vote -- Reuters
Pence postpones Israel trip in case he's needed to vote on tax cuts -- Los Angeles Times
Pence Delays Middle East Trip Ahead of Nail-Biter Tax Vote -- Bloomberg