Thursday, December 14, 2017

For The First Time In A Decade U.S. Marines Are Practicing A Full-Scale Air, Sea And Ground Assault

Marines with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214 remove ordnance from an AV-8B Harrier II at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 29. Marines prepared several Harriers to support Winter Fury 18, which spans several locations including Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar and MCAS Yuma, Ariz. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nadia J. Stark/Released)

Orange County Register: Marines practicing full-scale air, sea and ground assault on Southern California bases

CAMP PENDELTON — A war game exercise that deploys a battalion-size air, sea and ground assault is playing out across Marine Corps bases in Southern California this week.

The exercise, which includes more than 20,000 Marines from the 1st Marine Division and more than 600 Marine aviators and their crews, is taking place at San Clemente Island, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Camp Pendleton and at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

It combines the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s “Winter Fury” exercise with the 1st Marine Division’s “Steel Knight” training. Both are held annually to prepare Marines for worldwide threats and to sharpen their skills for upcoming deployments. But the combined exercise is the first in more than a decade, military officials say.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It must be quite entertaining to see all of this action happening in southern California.

THE 15:17 TO PARIS - Official Trailer


WNU Editor: The trailer looks impressive. A celebration of real heroes. More here.

F-35 vs. A-10 In A Ground War

Photo: Air Force

Kris Osborne, National Interest/Scout Warrior: F-35 vs. A-10 Warthog: Which Plane Would You Want in a Ground War?

As a multi-role fighter, the F-35 is also engineered to function as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform designed to apprehend and process video, data and information from long distances. Some F-35 developers have gone so far as to say the F-35 has ISR technologies comparable to many drones in service today that are able to beam a “soda straw” video view of tactically relevant combat locations in real time. Built-in ISR is an asset which could have the effect of greatly helping close-air-support efforts.

Flying close to ground troops in combat in hostile and high-threat conditions requires a host of unique attributes for an aircraft -- such as flying slow and low to the ground, absorbing some degree of small arms fire and having an ability to quickly maneuver in response to fast-changing ground combat conditions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I would prefer the A-10, and the reason why is simple. The A-10 has proven itself numerous times to be reliant when it comes to close air to ground combat. The F-35 has not.

Update: This speaks volumes. The Afghans want the A-10 to come back .... Afghan officials seek return of American A-10s (Military Times).

Tweets For Today







Two US Navy Destroyers Involved In Deadly Collisions This Year Had Lengthy Training Lapses

© REUTERS/ Ahmad Masood

CNN: Navy ships in deadly collisions had lengthy training lapses

Washington (CNN)Two US Navy destroyers involved in deadly collisions this year -- the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald -- had lengthy records of expired training certifications and some requirements had lapsed for more than two years, according to a new report obtained by CNN.

New data submitted by the Government Accountability Office in response to questions from Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat, confirmed CNN's previous reporting that both the McCain and Fitzgerald failed to fulfill key training qualifications ahead of the incidents that occurred this summer.

Seven of the McCain's 22 certifications were expired as of June 26, 2017 -- two of which had lapsed for more than two years, according to the report.

Read more ....

Update #1: Two Navy destroyers involved in deadly crashes failed to meet training requirements: report (NYDaily News)
Update #2: US Navy Ships Involved in Deadly Crashes Reportedly Had Abysmal Training Record (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: This was an accident just waiting to happen.

Picture Of The Day

Party and nation citations are presented to scientists, technicians and workers who contributed to the successful launch of Intercontinental ballistic rockets, December 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... North Korea's nuclear celebrations (Reuters).

This Is How Chinese Money Corrupts Western Politics

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

Terry Glavin, National Post: As Chinese money corrupts western politics, Trudeau's Liberals keep cashing in

We don’t know how much Chinese money came into the country for the purposes of influencing the last election...” Linda Frum said. “How much is going to come in in 2019?”

As Australia continues to reel from lurid revelations about the extent of Beijing’s influence-peddling, espionage and propaganda operations in that country, Conservative Senator Linda Frum says Ottawa should follow Canberra’s example by launching an inquiry into the extent of Beijing’s subterfuge in Canada, and by tightening laws to prevent Beijing from meddling in Canadian political processes.

“This is essential. It’s critical. It’s essential for Canadian political sovereignty that we examine this very, very closely,” Frum told me. “I think we need to look at it and I think we need to look at it urgently.”

It’s highly doubtful that we will, though. But first, a look at what’s been going on down under.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have mentioned in the past that the Russians are "pikers" when compared to the Chinese when it comes to "influencing" the policies and politics of Western governments. Case in point .... the Australian and New Zealand governments are realizing this only now .... Australia’s China corruption goes global (Macro Business). As for Canada, Canadian Senator Linda Frum remarks in the above National Post article is spot on. In the past I attended these rubber chicken dinners where Canadian politicians met Chinese businessmen who were hungry to network and build contacts .... and I know that both parties always left feeling very happy. I also know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. China has an enormous budget that is dedicated to buying and influencing foreign governments .... the UFWD agency is just one of many institutions that makes this happen. The solution to stop this is very easy .... ban all foreign money when it comes to fundraising, and ban government representatives and politicians from taking advantage of "freebies" that are always being offered by other governments.Unfortunately .... at least in Canada .... there is no interest in the government to make this so.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Canada's Embrace Of China Is Not Returned



Aadil Brar, Diplomat: Canada's Pivot to China Hits a Snag

Justin Trudeau’s call for a progressive trade deal falls flat in China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a special trip to Beijing last week to initiate trade discussions with China, which is Canada’s second-largest trading partner. His trip to China received unprecedented attention and aroused interest among experts because it was expected to open the first free trade negotiations between China and a leader from a G7 country, Canada.

The United States’ departure from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the recent U.S.-Canada falling out over NAFTA discussions have put trading giants such as China and Canada in a rather unique position to reinvigorate trade across the Asia-Pacific region. Besides trade and investment, Canadians of Chinese ancestry are a strong presence in Canada, which is evidenced by the fact that Mandarin and Cantonese are the most spoken languages in Canada after the official languages of English and French.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It has been a week since Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau returned from China trying to push a free trade deal .... and I have avoided the story until I read the above commentary from The Diplomat, and after talking to a friend of mine who still works in China's FO. I do not know who was involved in the preparations and negotiations for this trip (my guess is that it was the Canadian embassy in Beijing, the Canadian ambassador to China The Honourable John McCallum .... plus a few in Canada's Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister's Office), but as foreign trips go .... this should be used as an example on how not to do it when it comes to China. Aadil Brar does a very good job in the above post in explaining what went wrong, but he leaves out what was the internal Chinese reaction to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's demands when he pushed his progressive social agenda on the Chinese. I am going to provide that. Quoting my Chinese friend who I talked to this evening .... it may play well in Canada having a young Canadian Prime Minister in his forties lecturing Chinese men in their sixties on why his progressive agenda should be adopted by them .... but in China this is a no go. Not surprising .... Prime Minister Trudeau went home with nothing, coupled with the realization that if he wants to do business with China .... it will be on their terms, not his.

My suggestion to the Prime Minister is that he should pivot back to the TTP. That trade treaty has been set up to be independent from Chinese influence, and it will open markets that are eager to purchase Canadian resources and expertise. As for the Chinese .... Ottawa should focus on the growing trade deficit with China (it is currently $30 billion/year .... but growing), and start to make demands on Beijing to bring this down. As for Chinese investment .... my recommendation is to maintain the current severe restrictions on what the Chinese can buy. Beijing restricts foreign investment in their country, we should do the same.

Will Lopez Obrador Be Mexico's Next President?

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, delivers a speech to supporters, in Mexico City, Mexico June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

Kate Linthicum, L.A. Times: He's been running for president in Mexico for more than a decade. He's floated amnesty for drug criminals. Could he win?

One of Mexico's most controversial and resilient political figures formalized his bid for the presidency Tuesday, vowing if elected to wean Mexico off U.S. agricultural imports, increase aid for students and the elderly and consider amnesty for drug war criminals.

The announcement by leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was a surprise to no one. AMLO, as he is known to his hordes of supporters and detractors, has been running for president for well over a decade.

The mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, he narrowly lost to Felipe Calderon in the 2006 presidential race. Six years later, Lopez Obrador was defeated by Enrique Peña Nieto, who leaves office next year. Mexican presidents serve a single six-year term.

This time around, Lopez Obrador is leading in the polls, with a recent one showing him 12 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival. With Peña Nieto's dismal approval ratings dragging down his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and voters anxious about rising homicide rates, high-profile corruption scandals and tense relations with the United States, Lopez Obrador and his supporters think the moment is right for his populist message.

"Third time's the charm," he recently tweeted.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Like most politicians who push a populist message, Lopez Obrador's candidacy will resonate with a good part of the population who feel marginalized and/or left out. He is also facing a diverse field of unknowns .... while everyone knows him. Bottom line .... my Mexican friends tell me that this is his election to lose.

Russia Sharply Expanding Its Nuclear Arsenal

Rusian President Vladimir Putin speaking at the ceremony of opening the ARMY-2015 international forum in the military park Patriot, in the town of Kubinka, Moscow Region, June 16, 2015. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin) / RIA Novosti

Washington Times: Russia Sharply Expanding Nuclear Arsenal, Upgrading Underground Facilities

Pentagon to boost U.S. weapons under nuclear posture review

Russia is aggressively building up its nuclear forces and is expected to deploy a total force of 8,000 warheads by 2026 along with modernizing deep underground bunkers, according to Pentagon officials.

The 8,000 warheads will include both large strategic warheads and thousands of new low-yield and very low-yield warheads to circumvent arms treaty limits and support Moscow's new doctrine of using nuclear arms early in any conflict.

In addition to expanding its warheads, Russia also is fortifying underground facilities for command and control during a nuclear conflict.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Everyone is upgrading their nuclear arsenals .... the U.S. included .... A New U.S. Nuclear Weapons Posture (October 30, 2017)

Why Russian President Putin Does Not Trust The West

Russian President Vladimir Putin © /Mikhail Klimentyev / Reuters

Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg: The Story Behind Putin's Mistrust of the West

A collection of declassified documents regarding a broken NATO promise explains a cornerstone of Putin's worldview.

In many ways, Russia's current defiant geopolitical stance can be traced to a decisive moment in recent history: the belief that the West broke its promises not to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization eastwards. But experts argue over what exactly was promised, NATO itself calls the story of the broken promise a "myth," and the former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, who is critical of NATO expansion, has said the West kept all its binding commitments following from the reunification of Germany.

Read more ....

Update: Newly Declassified Documents: Gorbachev Told NATO Wouldn't Move Past East German Border (Dave Majumdar, National Interest).

WNU Editor: There are many reasons why Putin does not trust the West .... broken Cold War promises and understandings is just a small part of it.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 13, 2017



Derek Stoffel, CBC News: Analysis: Trump's Jerusalem declaration: a gift to Israel, but price tag may be high

Political analysts say U.S. president could now ask Israel to make concessions in talks with Palestinians

Israeli leaders are still quietly celebrating (more on that later) President Donald Trump's declaration that the United States now recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and plans are now underway to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.

Some are asking, however, whether Trump's reversal of decades of U.S. foreign policy is yet another example of the president's tendency to shoot from the hip, or will the Israelis now have to pay a political price?

Trump's shift on Jerusalem — the issue long considered perhaps the most complex in any negotiations — is an attempt to shake things up after decades of failed efforts by his predecessors in the White House.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 13, 2017

Under Putin, Russia increases clout in the Middle East -- AP

Victory over Islamic State declared, worry is now guerrilla warfare -- Jonathon Gatehouse, CBC News

The Master of Chaos vs. the Iranian Nuclear Agreement -- John Nixon, The Cipher Brief

Tillerson Wants to Talk. But does Kim? And Does Trump? -- Andrew Salmon, Asia Times

Why South Korea again wants nukes of its own -- Franck Chen, Asia Times

Could Russia and Japan Finally Settle Their Island Dispute? -- Dave Majumdar, National Interest

China-Australia tensions break into the open -- Erin Cook, Asia Times

For India and China, Southeast Asia Is a Battleground -- Kamran Bokhari, Geopolitical Futures

17 Oligarchs Who Are Shaping Eastern Europe -- von Natalia Sergheev & Christian-Zsolt Varga, Ostpol

Russia’s reform will have to wait for Putin’s exit -- L. Todd Wood, The Washington Times

It's So Embarrassing When U.S. Clients Feud -- Ted Galen Carpenter, National Interest

Destroyer of Worlds: Taking stock of our nuclear present -- Harper's Magazine

The Rise of the Global Cyberattack -- Tom Uren, The Strategist

Bitcoin Is a Bit of a Miracle at Any Price -- Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

Bought Apple Stock in 1980? Held It? Don't Brag -- Joe Nocera, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- December 13, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: Despite Tillerson overture, White House says not right time for North Korea talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - No negotiations can be held with North Korea until it improves its behaviour, a White House official said on Wednesday, raising questions about U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s offer to begin talks with Pyongyang any time and without pre-conditions.

“Given North Korea’s most recent missile test, clearly right now is not the time,” a White House official told Reuters.

Tillerson said on Tuesday the United States was “ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk,” appearing to back away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would have to be about giving up its nuclear arsenal.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

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

US to present evidence Iran is providing missiles to Yemen rebels.

Russian, Syrian jets hit Aleppo, Damascus countryside.

Syrian opposition seeks direct Geneva talks with regime.

Houthis: Saudi-led raid kills prisoners in Sanaa. Yemen war: Air strikes on rebel prison in Sanaa 'kill 30'.

Israeli military strikes Hamas in Gaza in response to rocket fire.

Istanbul hosts summit against Trump’s Jerusalem recognition.

OIC declares East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital.

Press freedom index: Turkey remains world's worst jailer of journalists.

Palestinian leader says Trump's Jerusalem 'crime' prevents U.S. peace role. Palestinian president says no role for US in peace process.

Saudi King Salman says determined to confront corruption.

ASIA

Chinese, South Korean leaders meet hoping to smooth tensions.

Despite Tillerson overture, White House says not right time for North Korea talks.

Philippines extends martial law for one year in restive Mindanao amid fears of IS resurgence.

UN official says North Koreans agree on importance of avoiding war.

Tillerson says U.S. ready to talk to North Korea; Japan wants pressure.

Russia welcomes US pledge to drop preconditions on North Korea talks.

H.R. McMaster: Time running out for China on North Korea.

China gathering blood, DNA and iris scans for massive database of millions in Muslim province.

Presumed North Korean ghost ship washes ashore in northern Japan.

China marks 80th anniversary of Nanjing massacre.

AFRICA

Guinea-Bissau opposition rejects president's crisis talks plan.

E.Guinea intercepts Gabon-bound boat carrying 205 migrants.

UAE, Saudi Arabia join G5 Sahel force summit in Paris.

France seeks ways to boost anti-jihadi force in Africa.

Boko Haram displaced get ID cards in Nigeria.

Rwanda-backed report alleges France’s role in 1994 genocide.

Wanted Sudan leader Bashir attends Turkey's Islamic summit.

Global companies snared in South Africa’s corruption scandal.

Shyma: Egyptian singer jailed over music video inciting debauchery.

EUROPE

British Prime Minister Theresa May loses key Brexit vote.

EU parliament backs starting next phase of Brexit talks.

Brexit: May stands firm over Commons vote demands.

Germany's Angela Merkel and SPD start grand coalition talks.

Catalan secessionists face steepest challenge in Barcelona's bruised beltway.

Kremlin calls U.S. allegations of subversive activity 'groundless'.

More Russians want to vote for Putin, poll shows.

German soldier charged with plotting to kill politicians while posing as refugee.

Greek court orders extradition of Russian Bitcoin suspect to US.

AMERICAS

GOP says it’s got a deal on taxes; cuts coming for next year.

Democrat Jones wins stunning red-state Alabama Senate upset.

Trump Jr. to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday.

Canada says defense firms can now sell small arms to Ukraine.

Canada cautions Boeing amid trade row.

Argentina: DNA reunites thousands after 'Dirty War'.

Joshua Holt: Venezuela court rules US man to be tried on weapons charges.

Venezuela’s opposition, prisoners win EU human rights award.

California hills appear to be covered with lava in apocalyptic scenes as wildfires grow to five times the size of DC and 8,000 firefighters battle to contain them.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Bombing underscores NYC subway system’s vulnerability.

Men due to leave Gitmo under Obama seem stuck under Trump.

New York bombing suspect Akayed Ullah warned Trump on Facebook.

LinkedIn hosted jihadist lectures, Blair institute reveals.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US stocks indexes close mostly higher after Fed rate hike.

Fed lifts rates but 2018 policy outlook unchanged.

Google to open artificial intelligence centre in China.

Disney set to seal $60bn 21st Century Fox takeover.

Facebook hits back at former executive's claims the company is 'destroying how society works'.

Africa, U.S. EU, And Arab Countries Commit To A Sahel Anti-Terror Force



VOA: Africa, EU Leaders Add Funding, Urgency to Fight Sahel Jihadists

PARIS — African and European leaders called for intensifying the fight against terrorism in the Sahel during a meeting Wednesday outside Paris, as the recently created G5 Sahel force received fresh funding pledges.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Saudi Arabia was contributing $100 million, and the United Arab Emirates another $30 million to the G5 Sahel force. The United States and European Union have already announced contributions of roughly $60 million each.

Macron said France's 4,000-strong Barkhane operation in the Sahel will work with the G5 soldiers next year to combat jihadist groups in the region, such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. He predicted victories against the groups early in the year.

Read more ....

More News On Africa, EU, U.S., And Arab Countries Committing To A Sahel Anti-Terror Force

African anti-jihadi force gets $130 million at French meet -- AP
Saudi Arabia, UAE pledge $130 mn for Sahel anti-terror force -- AFP
Saudi Arabia pledges 100 million euros, UAE 30 million to Sahel G5 force -- RFI
Arab States Commit to Backing West African Anti-Terror Force -- Bloomberg
Angela Merkel: 'Urgent' need for Sahel anti-terror force -- DW
'Sahel coalition' wants victories against Islamist militants by mid-2018 -- Reuters
Sahel force could tackle jihadists 'without antagonizing communities' -- DW

Afghan Army Casualties In 2016: 6,785 Afghan Security Forces Killed, 11,777 Injured



Maija Liuhto, Foreign Policy: The Walking Dead

As U.S. troops draw down, the Afghan military struggles to provide care for its countless wounded soldiers — on the battlefield and at home.

It’s a warm day in Kandahar as we wait in the parking lot of the airport on the whim of the Afghan army. We are supposed to spend three days at the Kandahar air base, in one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan, documenting the plight of injured Afghan soldiers. In the long struggle for Afghanistan, the men of the Afghan army have borne the brunt of the fighting. But it has been an uncertain road to get here, not least because the government is reluctant to admit the extent of its own losses. Citing troop morale, the Afghan government stopped releasing official numbers years ago.

In January, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which monitors the use of U.S. funds in Afghanistan, reported that a staggering 6,785 members of Afghan security forces had been killed and 11,777 injured in 2016. With an army of around 300,000 soldiers, the losses are unsustainable. Comparatively, only 10 U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan the same year. If the army were winning, these figures would be tragic but maybe justifiable. But the Taliban control more territory than at any point since 2001, and the drawdown of international troops has left Afghan forces practically alone in battle against an emboldened enemy.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I expect the 2017 numbers will be worse. Bottom line .... for any military these numbers are not sustainable over the long term.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas No Longer Wants The U.S. Involved In Brokering Any Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement



NPR: Abbas Says U.S. Shouldn't Lead Mideast Peace Process, Citing Jerusalem Policy

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says his people no longer want the U.S. involved in brokering any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, after President Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week.

Abbas called Trump's actions a crime and said he'll appeal to the United Nations.

Abbas made his forceful remarks Wednesday toward the end of an emergency session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, held in Istanbul. The meeting was dominated by talk of how to respond to the Trump administration's decision to change U.S. policy on Jerusalem and to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The White House has responded to the Palestinian leader .... Abbas 'distorting' Trump remarks on Jerusalem, and preventing peace, White House says (The Jerusalem Post).

More News On Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas No Longer Wanting The U.S. Involved In Brokering Any Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement

The Latest: White House says it’s still seeking Mideast deal -- AP
Palestinian leader rejects US role in peace process -- AP
Palestinian president: No role for US in peace process -- The Hill
Palestinians no longer accept US as mediator, Abbas tells summit -- The Guardian
Abbas: Palestinians will go to Security Council over full U.N. membership -- Reuters

Muslim Leaders Have Declared East Jerusalem As The Capital Of Palestine



Al Jazeera: OIC declares East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, rejected the US stance as "dangerous" and called on the international community to follow in its footsteps.

At a summit held in Turkey a week after US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the group of Muslim leaders on Wednesday called on all countries to "recognise the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital".

In a statement, the OIC added that the 57-member group remains committed to a "just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution".

Read more ....

More News On Muslim Leaders Declaring East Jerusalem As The Capital Of Palestine

Muslim nations urge recognition of East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital -- BBC
Muslim leaders call on world to recognize East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital -- Reuters
Islamic leaders urge East Jerusalem recognition as 'Palestine's capital' -- AFP
Erdogan Forges Accord to Name East Jerusalem Palestinian Capital -- Bloomberg
Iran calls on Muslim nations to step up efforts against Trump's Jerusalem decision -- Reuters
Palestinians have right to Jerusalem as capital: Saudi king -- AFP
OIC draft declaration says Trump's Jerusalem move marks U.S. withdrawal from peace process -- Reuters
Jordan's King rejects change in status of Jerusalem, its holy sites -- Reuters

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un Vows To Develop More Nuclear Weapons



ABC News Online: North Korea vows to keep making nuclear weapons, decorates creators of latest missile

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to develop more nuclear weapons while personally decorating scientists and officials behind Pyongyang's most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-15.

Hwasong-15, which was test-launched on November 29, has been largely perceived by analysts and government officials to have a range that can reach all of the mainland United States.

However, experts said North Korea still had some technical points it needed to improve before fully completing its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could hit the entirety of the United States.

Read more ....

More News On North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un Vowing To Develop More Nuclear Weapons

Kim Jong Un vows more 'quality' nuclear weapons, honors rocket scientists -- FOX News
North Korea's Kim Jong Un Promises to Build More A-bombs, H-bombs and Missiles While Honoring Rocket Scientists -- Newsweek
Kim Jong-un asks for strengthening of North Korea's nuclear force -- Economic Times
Kim Jong-un boasts of 'death-defying struggle' to build nuclear arsenal as he prepares for showdown against US -- South China Morning Post
N.Korean Missile Scientists Gather for Arms Conference -- The Chosun Ilbo

USA Today Editoral: Trump Is Unfit To Clean Toilets In Obama's Presidential Library Or To Shine George W. Bush's Shoes


USA Today Editorial: Will Trump's lows ever hit rock bottom?

A president who'd all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library or to shine George W. Bush's shoes: Our view

With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.

And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I would say that about 90% of the news media believe and support the above editorial .... Even As Media Whine About Trump, Their Hostile Coverage Shows No Let Up (Newsbusters).

A Look At How The Islamic State Produced Its Arsenal On An Industrial Scale

A series of shoulder-fired, recoilless launchers made by the Islamic State, shown with a variety of repurposed projectiles. ISIS weapons engineers took Soviet-era munitions and made Western-style disposable launchers for them, even affixing written instructions for their use.
Credit Damien Spleeters/Conflict Armament Research

New York Times: How ISIS Produced Its Cruel Arsenal on an Industrial Scale

WASHINGTON — Late this spring, Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State in Mosul discovered three unfired rocket-propelled grenades with an unusual feature — a heavy liquid sloshing inside their warheads. Tests later found that the warheads contained a crude blister agent resembling sulfur mustard, a banned chemical weapon intended to burn a victim’s skin and respiratory tract.

The improvised chemical rockets were the latest in a procession of weapons developed by the Islamic State during a jihadist arms-manufacturing spree without recent analogue.

Irregular fighting forces, with limited access to global arms markets, routinely manufacture their own weapons. But the Islamic State took the practice to new levels, with outputs “unlike anything we’ve ever seen” from a nonstate force, said Solomon H. Black, a State Department official who tracks and analyzes weapons.

Humanitarian de-miners, former military explosive ordnance disposal technicians and arms analysts working in areas captured from the Islamic State provided The New York Times with dozens of reports and scores of photographs and drawings detailing weapons that the militant organization has developed since 2014, when it established a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: More specifics on how the Islamic State produced its arsenal is here .... Exclusive: Tracing ISIS’ Weapons Supply Chain—Back to the US (WIRED).

China Gathering Blood, DNA And Iris Scans For Massive Database Of All Muslim Uighurs

Xinjiang is one of the most tightly controlled parts of China. Photograph: China Daily/Reuters

The Guardian: Chinese authorities collecting DNA from all residents of Xinjiang

Officials build database of iris scans and blood types of everyone aged 12 to 65 in region home to 11 million Muslim Uighurs

Chinese authorities are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints and other biometric data from every resident in a far western region, Human Rights Watch has said.

Officials are also building a database of iris scans and blood types of everyone aged between 12 and 65 in Xinjiang, adding to controls in a place some experts have called an “open-air prison”.

The region is home to over 11 million Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic minority, and is occasionally hit by bouts of violence.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China responds .... China slams HRW's report on alleged Xinjiang human rights violations (Global Times).

 More News On China Gathering Blood, DNA And Iris Scans For A Massive Database Of All Muslim Uighurs

China: Minority Region Collects DNA from Millions -- Human Rights Watch

Rights Group Criticizes China for Mass DNA Collection in Xinjiang -- US News and World Report/Reuters
China Gathering Blood, DNA and Iris Scans for Massive Database of Millions in Muslim Province -- Newsweek
China collecting DNA, biometrics from millions in Xinjiang: report -- CNN
China authorities mandated to collect DNA from Xinjiang residents -- Financial Times
China is collecting DNA under the guise of providing free health care -- Quartz

World News Briefs -- December 13, 2017



Reuters: Palestinian leader says Trump's Jerusalem 'crime' prevents U.S. peace role

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Muslim leaders on Wednesday that a U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a crime which showed that Washington should no longer play a role in Middle East peace talks.

Addressing an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Turkey, Abbas said President Donald Trump was giving Jerusalem away as if it were an American city.

“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding Trump’s decision was “the greatest crime” and a violation of international law.

Wednesday’s summit was hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who has bitterly criticized the United States, a NATO ally, for its stance on Jerusalem.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Russian, Syrian jets hit Aleppo, Damascus countryside.

Syrian opposition seeks direct Geneva talks with regime.

Houthis: Saudi-led raid kills prisoners in Sanaa. Yemen war: Air strikes on rebel prison in Sanaa 'kill 30'.

Israeli military strikes Hamas in Gaza in response to rocket fire.

Istanbul hosts summit against Trump’s Jerusalem recognition.

OIC declares East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital.

Press freedom index: Turkey remains world's worst jailer of journalists.

Palestinian leader says Trump's Jerusalem 'crime' prevents U.S. peace role. Palestinian president says no role for US in peace process.

ASIA

Philippines extends martial law for one year in restive Mindanao amid fears of IS resurgence.

UN official says North Koreans agree on importance of avoiding war.

Tillerson says U.S. ready to talk to North Korea; Japan wants pressure.

Russia welcomes US pledge to drop preconditions on North Korea talks.

H.R. McMaster: Time running out for China on North Korea.

China gathering blood, DNA and iris scans for massive database of millions in Muslim province.

Presumed North Korean ghost ship washes ashore in northern Japan.

China marks 80th anniversary of Nanjing massacre.

AFRICA

UAE, Saudi Arabia join G5 Sahel force summit in Paris.

France seeks ways to boost anti-jihadi force in Africa.

Boko Haram displaced get ID cards in Nigeria.

Rwanda-backed report alleges France’s role in 1994 genocide.

Wanted Sudan leader Bashir attends Turkey's Islamic summit.

Global companies snared in South Africa’s corruption scandal.

Shyma: Egyptian singer jailed over music video inciting debauchery.

EUROPE

EU parliament backs starting next phase of Brexit talks.

Brexit: May stands firm over Commons vote demands.

Germany's Angela Merkel and SPD start grand coalition talks.

Catalan secessionists face steepest challenge in Barcelona's bruised beltway.

Kremlin calls U.S. allegations of subversive activity 'groundless'.

More Russians want to vote for Putin, poll shows.

German soldier charged with plotting to kill politicians while posing as refugee.

AMERICAS

Democrat Jones wins stunning red-state Alabama Senate upset.

Trump Jr. to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday.

Canada cautions Boeing amid trade row.

Argentina: DNA reunites thousands after 'Dirty War'.

Joshua Holt: Venezuela court rules US man to be tried on weapons charges.

Venezuela’s opposition, prisoners win EU human rights award.

California hills appear to be covered with lava in apocalyptic scenes as wildfires grow to five times the size of DC and 8,000 firefighters battle to contain them.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Men due to leave Gitmo under Obama seem stuck under Trump.

New York bombing suspect Akayed Ullah warned Trump on Facebook.

LinkedIn hosted jihadist lectures, Blair institute reveals.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Google to open artificial intelligence centre in China.

Disney set to seal $60bn 21st Century Fox takeover.

Facebook hits back at former executive's claims the company is 'destroying how society works'.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 13, 2017



Reuters: Backed by Putin, Russian military pushes into foreign policy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - From Damascus to Doha, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has been showing up in unexpected places, a sign of the military’s growing influence under Vladimir Putin.

In the past few months, at times wearing his desert military uniform, Shoigu has held talks with Syria’s president in Damascus, met Israel’s prime minister in Jerusalem and been received by the Emir of Qatar in Doha.

The defence ministry’s forays into areas long regarded as the preserve of the foreign ministry are raising eyebrows in Russia, where strict protocol means ministers usually hold talks only with their direct foreign counterparts.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 13, 2017

Vladimir Putin's secret army: Thousands of Russian private contractors fighting in Syria -- ABC News Online

In Secret Court Trial, Russia Charges 'CIA Spy' With Treason -- Newsweek

Russian Suspected of Spying for CIA Arrested in Moscow -- Moscow Times

Russia and China Military Drills Target Both North Korea and US -- Newsweek

China's Americanized Military -- The Diplomat

Chinese air force flexes muscle into Western Pacific in warning to Taiwan -- SCMP

China, Singapore vow to boost military exchanges in latest sign of improved relations -- SCMP

China, Russia send message to North Korea with anti-missile drills in Beijing -- SCMP

North Korea's Kim Jong Un fetes rocket scientists, promises more weapons -- Reuters

U.S., South Korea may delay annual joint military exercises during Winter Olympics -- Japan Times

How Will US Push to Cut UN Peacekeeping Budget Affect Soldiers? -- VOA

How ISIS Produced Its Cruel Arsenal on an Industrial Scale -- NYT

Turkey snubs NATO allies and buys missile systems from Russia -- NBC

Canada to buy fleet of 30-year-old fighter jets from Australia in snub to US -- The Guardian

Raytheon to provide AGM-154 missiles to Saudi Arabia -- UPI

Royal Marines chief stays on in post amid Navy fears that 1000 of his men will be cut -- The Telegraph

Britain propped up Europe’s defence after other EU states short-changed Nato by £338billion -- The SUN

NATO Prolongs Chief Stoltenberg's Term for 2 More Years -- US News and World Report/AP

Macedonia will become the 30th member of NATO next year -- Novinite

After Russia’s Ukraine incursion, NATO troops drill for war on a Cold-War scale -- PBS NewsHour

Japan air force drills with U.S. bombers, stealth fighters near Korean peninsula -- Reuters

US general on Trump's Afghanistan strategy: 'This will be a very long winter for the Taliban' -- Washington Examiner

The Army’s New Modular Handgun Is Heading Out to the Field -- Popular Mechanics

Window falls from U.S. Marines helicopter onto school grounds in Japan's Okinawa -- Reuters

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

The Navy's Electronic-Warfare Planes Could Soon Become 'Motherships' -- National Interest

Marine Corps Wants Hundreds More Small Boats for Coastal Operations -- Defense Tech/Military.com

US Navy ships in deadly collisions had lengthy training lapses -- CNN

Trump to release national security strategy next week -- AP

Trump Signs 2018 Defense Bill: Here's What It Means for You -- Military.com

Trump Signs Bill to Provide $700 Billion for the Pentagon, Maybe -- Fiscal Times

Pentagon's Next Cloud Contract Could Be Worth Billions -- NextGov

The Pentagon Doesn’t Need More Money -- Robert L. Borosage, The Nation

Why Won’t the Pentagon Tell Us Where Our Troops Are Fighting? -- Emma Ashford, Newsweek

Decades Ago The Navy Tested A Maritime Patrol U-2 Variant That Was Way Ahead Of Its Time -- Warzone/The Drive

The U.S. Navy Is Going All Out to Manufacture More Attack Submarines

U.S. Navy photo By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelvin Edwards (Released)

Business Insider/Scout Warrior: The Navy is going to pump out more attack submarines to counter Russia and China

* A new Navy analysis says producing more Virginia-Class attack submarines on a much faster timetable is necessary to ensure the US' future undersea dominance.
* The previous status quo was to reduce production of Virginia-Class boats from to two to one in the early 2020s, but the study recommends two per year.
* If the study's recommendations are adopted, the US would produce two Virginia-Class boats and one Columbia-Class boat per year.

A newly completed comprehensive Navy analysis says producing more Virginia-Class attack submarines on a much faster timetable is "achievable" and necessary to ensure future undersea dominance for the US - in an increasingly contested strategic global environment.

The Navy report, titled The Submarine Industrial Base and the Viability of Producing Additional Attack Submarines Beyond the Fiscal Year 2017 Shipbuilding Plan in the 2017–2030 Timeframe, was delivered to Congress on July 5, 2017, Navy officials told Scout Warrior.

The current or previous status quo had been for the Navy to drop from building two Virginia-Class boats per year to one in the early 2020s when construction of the new Columbia-Class nuclear armed submarines begins.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  A lot of background information in the above post.

Russia's New Sniper Rifles Can Pierce U.S. Body Armo


Charlie Gao, National Interest: Russian Army Snipers Have Rifles and Ammo That Can Pierce U.S. Body Armor

The Russian involvement in Syria and Ukraine has provided a wealth of experience to the Russian military. One of the hallmarks of these engagements is the continued use of sniper tactics. As a result, the modern Russian sniper has evolved far beyond the relatively primitive technology used during the Cold War. Most notably, significant attention has been given to sniper systems that have the ability to penetrate body armor. There are currently three sniper systems in current use by the Russian military that pose a significant threat to American troops wearing body armor. Taken together, these systems cover all possible ranges in an engagement: the SVDK, various .338 Lapua systems and the ASVK.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is a must read article on how Russian sniper rifles will be changing the dynamics of the battlefield .... Russia's New Sniper Rifle Will Change The Shape Of Future Battlefields (December 9, 2017).

A Look At The Strengths And Weaknesses Of China's First Stealth Fighter

The Chengdu J-20. Wikimedia

Alex Lockie, Business Insider: 3D model of China's first stealth fighter reveals its greatest strengths and weaknesses

* China's J-20 stealth jet is getting closer to completion, and it poses a real threat to the US's weapons systems.
* The J-20 has many of the F-35's most favorable features, but slightly worse stealth.
* China has created the first stealth fighter outside of the US, and it will only improve it further.

China's Chengdu J-20, the first stealth jet ever produced by anyone other than the US, has presented a mystery to American military planners trying to maintain an edge in the Pacific.

As China gets closer and closer to actually fielding the revolutionary jet, details are becoming more abundant, and its role in the future of warfare more apparent.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has put together a report on the J-20, complete with a 3D interactive model that shows the plane's greatest strengths and weaknesses.

The J-20 benefits from a stealth airframe that will radically reduce its radar cross section and any adversaries' ability to detect it. The jet holds a competitive amount of ordnance, and it's slated to carry very long range missiles that can keep US systems at bay.

Read more .....

WNU Editor: This is China's first stealth fighter .... I expect them to improve its capabilities before they start fielding this jet.

How Close Did U.S. F-22s And Russian Aircraft Over Syria Came To Blows?

Su-35 in flight. Wikimedia

Michael Peck, National Interest: Did U.S. F-22s Almost Shoot Down Russian Aircraft over Syria?

U.S. and Russian warplanes almost clashed into each other over Syria.

And almost as important, those aircraft included America's vaunted but untried F-22 stealth fighter, and Russia's Su-35.

Yet disappointment awaits those aviation buffs and nationalists who savor the thought of a dogfight between the top American and Russian jets. There has no battle—so far.

The United States has shot down a Syrian jet, and Turkey has shot down a Russian plane, but the America and Russia are just eyeing each other for now.

However, the New York Times reported last week that there have been several incidents in which Russian planes have flown dangerously close to American aircraft over eastern Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In such a small war-zone I am not surprised that there were instances where the aircraft from both countries crossed each other's path. I guess we should be grateful that it did not escalate into a shooting confrontation.

A Look At How Drones Will Change Urban Warfare

DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems and/or small unmanned ground systems in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough capabilities to the field. (DARPA)

Maj. John Spencer, C4ISRNet: How drone swarms could change urban warfare

For the first time since the Korean War, the U.S. military has to worry about enemy bombs dropping on them in combat.

This threat doesn’t come from multibillion-dollar next-generation aircraft dropping precision-guided bombs on open battlefields. Instead, it comes from cheap, commercial drones dropping low-tech explosives during urban battles. To take back the initiative, the Army should deploy current drone technologies to empower soldiers to address some of the fundamental challenges of urban warfare.

The range of challenges in urban environments is broad. It includes looting, civil disturbances, insurgences, and other levels of conflict where military forces may be sent to conduct stability operations, such as counterterrorism, counterinsurgencies and peacekeeping. For the most part, these are the types of urban operations the U.S. military conducted in Iraq from 2005 to 2010.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I was surprised that drones were not used as extensively as they could have been in the battle of Mosul. My guess is that lessons that were learned in that battle will be used in future conflicts as outlined in the above post.

Is The U.S. Now The Most Unpredictable 'Actor' In The World Today?

Center for Preventive Action / Council on Foreign Relations

Uri Friedman and Annabelle Timsit, The Atlantic: Global Conflicts to Watch in 2018

“The U.S. is now the most unpredictable actor in the world today.”

As conflicts ignite and burn and flicker out around the world, U.S. officials assess the dangers they represent back home. Not all of these conflicts directly threaten American interests, which is why the Council on Foreign Relations conducts an annual survey to help U.S. leaders prioritize threats in the year ahead. For the past decade, this survey has focused on the risks posed to America by foreign actors. Now it’s reckoning with the risks America poses to the world—and to itself.

“The U.S. is now the most unpredictable actor in the world today, and that has caused profound unease,” said Paul Stares, the director of CFR’s Center for Preventive Action, which produces the annual survey. “You used to be able to pretty much put the U.S. to one side and hold it constant, and look at the world and consider where the biggest sources of unpredictability, insecurity are. Now you have to include the U.S. in that. … No one has high confidence how we [Americans] would react in any given situation, given how people assess this president.” This president might welcome the development. “I don’t want people to know exactly what I’m doing—or thinking,” Donald Trump wrote in 2015. “It keeps them off balance.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: So among foreign policy experts .... many now see the U.S. (i.e. President Trump) as the most unpredictable actor in the world today. That is quite a mental leap .... when one looks at the multiple wars and conflicts that the U.S. sees itself in the world today  .... wars and conflicts that President Trump inherited.