Tuesday, February 28, 2017

President Trump's First Address To A Joint Session Of Congress



Washington Post: Trump lays out his vision for America in speech to Congress

President Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, laying out the agenda for his presidency and, in broad terms, his vision for the country.

Pulling from his campaign speeches and others since taking office, the president ran off a list of accomplishments since taking office and issued promises for the year ahead. Trump highlighted new lobbying restrictions, and executive orders he put in place to reduce regulations, restart halted oil and gas pipelines, and crack down on illegal immigration.

“Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people,” Trump said.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump's First Address To A Joint Session Of Congress

Donald Trump's Congress speech (full text) -- CNN
Trump address to joint session of Congress -- live updates -- CBS
Key moments from Donald Trump's speech to Congress -- Politico
Trump declares it's 'time to join forces' to fix US problems -- AP
Trump calls for tax relief, healthcare overhaul -- Reuters
Trump pitches unity to Congress amid turbulent start to presidency -- ABC news
Trump lays out plan for ‘new chapter of American greatness’ in speech to Congress -- Washington Post
Trump to Urge Americans to Abandon ‘Small Thinking’ and Fights -- Bloomberg
Trump speech signals shift: 'Time for small thinking is behind us' -- The Hill
Trump tones down the dark rhetoric -- Politico
Trump Address: President Lays Out Bold Agenda With Softer Tone -- NBC
Trump, in speech to Congress, calls to ‘restart the engine’ of US economy -- FOX News
Breaking with Bush and Obama, Trump talks about 'radical Islamic terrorism' -- Politico
Trump condemns anti-Semitic threats, vandalism -- The Hill
What would you say to families that lose a loved one because America didn't defend its borders?: Trump challenges Democrats as he promises we WILL build a wall -- Daily Mail
Trump says he is open to immigration compromise including legal status -- Washington Post
Trump Says He’s Open to Legal Pathway for Undocumented Immigrants -- NYT
Trump envisions bill allowing many immigrants to stay in US -- CNN
Democrats groan as Trump promotes new immigration crime office -- The Hill
Who President Trump invited to his first joint address to Congress -- ABC news
VA Secretary David Shulkin chosen as designated survivor -- ABC News

Most Of Eastern Ukraine's Rebel Commanders Who Were Involved At The Beginning Of The War Are Now Dead

Mikhail Tolstykh(Givi). YouTube

Maxim Rust, New Eastern Europe: When a revolution devours its own children

The conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which has been going on for the past three years, led to not only the creation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, but above all to the development of a small group of political and military elite in the region. As a result of the ongoing war, permanent crisis and confusion, people came to power who would not have done so during peacetime.

Some of them became popular heroes among the local population, and some celebrities in Russian television. However, the majority of them did not manage to enjoy the support of the masses for too long – almost all separatist leaders of the first wave are dead. Interestingly, the most famous fighters for freedom and independence of Donbas and the leaders of the insurgency died not on the frontline, but often in unresolved circumstances.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are a lot of assumptions in this post on who killed these rebel commanders ....  the author believes that it was done primarily by local rebel leaders with Moscow's blessings .... but I say that the truth is probably more complicated than that. Is eastern Ukraine a chaotic mess .... yes .... but I can say the same for much of Ukraine. Armed groups (on all sides), oligarchs, corruption, mafia, private militias .... this is now the new norm in much of Ukraine .... and let us just say that law and order is not the priority for those who are benefiting from this chaos. Have rebel commanders been murdered by rival rebel commanders .... I would not be surprised. Have rebel commanders been assassinated by Kiev-backed hit squads .... again I would not be surprised. Do people in Ukraine want the war to end .... I would say that 90% do want an end .... I certainly hear that all the time when I talk with my family and friends who are still living in Ukraine. But the men who have the guns .... and who have the power in both Kiev and in the rebellious eastern provinces .... are operating from a different playbook .... and for the moment they have zero interest to end this conflict. As for Russia's role .... they are the "bogey-man" in this war. Blamed and curse by all for this war .... even though the ones who are dying in the fields are 99% Ukrainian. In the end .... my prediction is that Moscow/Russia will win. Moscow will not be responsible for the hundreds of billions that will be necessary to rebuild Ukraine .... that burden will fall on the shoulders of the West and for those who have decided to remain in Ukraine. The Russian dominated eastern part of Ukraine will also get their autonomy from Kiev .... and a veto on Ukraine relations with the West. And Crimea .... that will remain a part of Russia.

Ukraine War News Updates -- February 28, 2017



BBC: Ukraine blockade tensions rise in rebel-held east

Ukrainian war veterans and their supporters say they will step up a trade blockade of rebel-held regions of industrial eastern Ukraine.

For a month about 100 activists have blocked railway lines to stop Ukraine trading with pro-Russian rebels.

The Donetsk region is a key supplier of coal to Ukrainian power stations and heavy industry.

The "blockade headquarters" made the new threat on Facebook, and halted talks with Ukraine's prime minister.

The Ukrainian government has warned that the blockade could lead to power cuts in Ukraine. Steel plants in the east have already been forced to suspend production.

The blockade was imposed to stop Ukraine's so-called "trade in blood" with the rebel-held areas.

Read more .....

Ukraine War News Updates -- February 28, 2017

Gunmen in east Ukraine 'occupy Donetsk stadium' amid standoff over coal blockade -- The Telegraph
Russia-backed rebels issue ultimatum to Ukraine -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine's Unwillingness to Lift Donbass Transport Blockade 'Puzzling' - Kremlin -- Sputnik
Russia Calls on Ukraine to Stop Donbass Blockade -- Sputnik
In Ukraine, blockade threatens to force issue at heart of civil war -- Fred Weir, CSM
OSCE monitors warn risk is high for new Donbass flare-up -- DW
Ukraine puts its most advanced weapons on show at IDEX-2017 -- Kyiv Post
Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine to use Russian rouble as official currency -- The Independent
Battered eastern Ukraine seems headed into protracted on-and-off war -- CBC
Kiev Letter: ‘Ukraine’s Joan of Arc’ divides nation -- Irish Times
Russia’s Calculus in Ukraine Is a Mix of Strategic Patience and Grim Resignation -- Matthew Rojansky, WPR

President Trump Addresses Congress (Live)

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 28, 2017

American soldiers were seen at an outpost in Fatisah alongside Kurdish soldiers, with some even seen wearing the badges (right shoulder of left soldier) of the Kurdish People's Protection Unit.

Bonnie Kristian, RCD: Ground War in Syria Would Be a Huge Mistake

As his spitballing press conference reminded us ad nauseam, President Trump is not ready to let the bygones of the election be bygones—and where U.S. policy toward Syria is concerned, that might not be such a bad thing.

Perhaps the president’s most cogent attack on Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state during their race was his critique of her signature military intervention in Libya. “Look at what she did in Libya with [late leader Moammar] Gadhafi,” he argued during the second presidential debate. “Gadhafi is out. It's a mess. And, by the way, ISIS has a good chunk of their oil. I am sure you probably have heard that. It was a disaster.”

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 28, 2017

Should the U.S. maintain its alliance with Saudi Arabia? Unfortunately, we’re stuck with them -- Steven Cook, Salon

The Iranian-Saudi Arabian conflict: Does the West have a skewed view? -- Joseph Croitoru, DW

As ISIS Prepares Its Terror Resurrection, Watch Out for Drone ‘Swarms’ -- Christopher Dickey, Daily Beast

Counter-Terror Chief: Expect Terrorist Drone Swarms ‘Soon’ -- Patrick Tucker, Defense One

Why a few American marines in Taiwan pose so many problems for China-US ties -- Cary Huang, South China Morning Post

Antibiotics In China, Local Practice Turns Global Health Menace -- Cyrille Pluyette, World Crunch

Moscow is regaining sway in the Balkans -- The Economist

In Ukraine, blockade threatens to force issue at heart of civil war -- Fred Weir, CSM

The Future of Transatlantic Defense: More Europe -- Kaitlin Lavinder, Cipher Brief

Trump signals a US shift from 'soft power' to military might a shift in thought -- Howard LaFranchi, CSM

Find Out What H.R. McMaster Really Thinks -- Bloomberg editorial

President Trump’s counterterrorism paradox -- Daniel Heesemann, Defense News

Seven Deadly Myths of U.S. Defense Spending -- Hal Brands, Bloomberg

Can the Pentagon Get By on Just $603 Billion? -- David Axe & Tim Mak, Daily Beast

World News Briefs -- February 28, 2017 (Evening Edition)



ABC News: Donald Trump set to make his 'biggest speech yet' in joint address to Congress

President Donald Trump is set to make what his team is billing as "his biggest speech yet" when he gives a joint address to Congress on Tuesday night.

Few details about the speech have been released. Trump is set to deliver it from the House chamber at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

A list of talking points about the speech was provided to ABC News by someone who received it from the White House, giving some insight into the topics he may touch on tonight.

Tax and regulatory reform, improvements to the workplace for working parents, "the disaster of Obamacare," education access, "a great rebuilding of the American military" and commitments to veterans are listed as topics that Trump is expected to discuss, noting that they are areas where the president wants to work with Congress.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Russia, China block U.N. sanctions on Syria over gas attacks. Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria sanctions.

Activists: Syrian pro-government forces near IS-held Palmyra.

Putin says Russia will not support sanctions against Syrian leadership.

Mosul caught in 'strange and terrifying' battle as Islamic State foreign soldiers fight to the end.

Iraq erecting floating bridge to connect east, west Mosul.

Largest post-coup trial opens in Turkey.

UN documents nearly 1,500 child soldiers in Yemen.

Yemen conflict: Red Cross appeals for access to key port.

One dead as clashes rock Palestinian camp in Lebanon.

Israel unprepared for tunnel threat in 2014 Gaza war: report. Watchdog: Tunnels caught Israel off-guard in 2014 Gaza war.

ASIA

U.N. says Thailand leaves legal loophole for torture, disappearances.

U.S., China discuss 'mutually beneficial' economic relationship.

North Korean diplomats in Malaysia to get Kim's brother's body. Kim Jong-nam: North Korean team seeks body as women face charges. Malaysia to charge women with airport murder of North Korean. Kim Jong Nam killing suspects to be charged with murder, minister says.

South Korea suggests North's suspension from UN over airport killing.

Afghan Taliban kill 11 police officers in Helmand province attack. 'Taliban infiltrator' aids police killing in Helmand province.

China reacts with anger, threats after South Korean missile defense decision.

China says hopes U.S. defense spending benefits global stability.

Washington, Tokyo, Seoul explore ways to restrict Pyongyang's weapons funding.

Thai army, rebel negotiators agree 'safety zone' for unrest-hit south.

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong to be indicted on bribery charges.

AFRICA

Tunisia says six guards charged in 2015 hotel attack probe.

Sisi defends anti-IS fight after Copts flee Sinai.

Somali president declares 'national disaster' over drought.

Libya exposed as an epicentre for migrant child abuse. Refugee women and children 'beaten, raped and starved in Libyan hellholes'.

Guinea president sacks ministers following deadly protests.

Durban's Commonwealth Games in doubt, S.Africa admits.

Zimbabwe armyworm wreaks havoc.

Families of Tunisia beach attack victims to sue travel company.

No Ibrahim Prize awarded for African leadership.

EUROPE

Scottish leader says Britain's hard Brexit stance raises chance of new independence vote.

EU should pay more to return African migrants home from Libya, Malta says.

Ukraine blockade tensions rise in rebel-held east.

OSCE monitors warn risk is high for new Donbass flare-up.

Russia looks for positive signals in Trump's speech to Congress.

Putin says sure will be able to solve disputes with Belarus.

Berlin truck attack: Police raid properties linked to mosque.

Poland's top politician builds momentum against Tusk in EU.

Austria prepares tougher measures against rejected asylum seekers.

AMERICAS

Trump seeks reboot in first address to Congress. Trump to call for action on health care, maybe immigration.

Donald Trump set to make his 'biggest speech yet' in joint address to Congress.

Trump looks to refocus his presidency in address to Congress.

Colombia's FARC rebels to begin surrendering weapons.

Colombia government slams ELN rebels as they admit to Bogota bull ring bombing.

Mexico warns it will end NAFTA talks if U.S. proposes tariffs. Mexico will only stay in NAFTA if it suits it: minister.

Door knocks in the dark: The Canadian town on front line of Trump migrant crackdown.

Vancouver up in arms as Trump family launches high-rise tower.

Carnival kicks off in Brazil despite recession, security woes.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

US probing whether Al-Qaeda number two killed in Syria.

Official: Yemen raid yields data on al-Qaida explosives.

Australia arrests suspect for advising 'Islamic State' on missile design. Man arrested at Young, NSW for allegedly researching missiles for Islamic State.

Islamic State claims failed suicide attack in Algeria.

IS militants in north Sinai showing their strength.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

YouTube challenges cable TV with streaming service.

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia wants oil prices to rise to around $60 in 2017 - sources.

SpaceX to fly two tourists around Moon in 2018.

Dow Jones stock index hits best winning streak in 30 years.

US not rich enough to give away money for free - Bill Gates.

Edward Snowden Talks About Russia And The Trump Administration

The NSA whistleblower claimed that getting snatched by the CIA was a 'possibility'. Reuters

IBTimes: Snowden talks about life in Russia and state of security under Trump administration

Snowden and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg spoke to a live audience in San Francisco.

Edward Snowden made an appearance via video before a live audience in San Francisco on Sunday (26 February) to talk about the state of security and privacy under the Trump administration and to highlight the important role whistleblowers play in a democracy. Snowden was joined by former US military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked classified documents known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

In an interview with KQED's Scott Shafer, Snowden also spoke about his life in Russia, where he now resides under asylum. Both Ellsberg and Snowden also attempted to highlight the silver linings of the Trump administration, in sparking heightened awareness among the American people about policies and rights.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  He misses the U.S..

The Growing Polarization In Washington



Wall Street Journal: As Donald Trump Heads to Congress, a New Polarization Is Hardening

An inability to find common ground could test the president’s agenda.

It was possible, not so long ago, to imagine Donald Trump to be such an unconventional figure that he could bust apart traditional partisan alliances and use his populist approach to create new kinds of political coalitions.

As President Trump gets set to appear before a joint session of Congress for the first time Tuesday night, that possibility seems a long way off.

Instead, just over a month into his term, Mr. Trump stands as an exceptionally polarizing figure. He inspires intense support among his admirers and equally intense animosity among his detractors, with remarkably few Americans standing in the middle without a strong view. Everybody appears to have an opinion about Donald Trump, and those opinions already appear locked in.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: From my vantage point .... Washington D.C. has always been a polarizing place .... but it is definitely worse now. President Trump is the outsider coming in .... and his agenda is not what many in Washington favor or support. But he did win the Presidential election .... and he was very clear on what he was going to do. This is the quandary that many of President Trump's opponents are in right now .... they do not have the mandate that he has .... so their options on stopping him are limited .... but they are still going to try. Will President Trump succeed .... I do not know. He inherited a losing war in Afghanistan, a Middle East in complete and utter chaos, a new Cold War with Russia, and a rising China that has no patience on what the U.S. wants. On the economic front .... dismal growth, 100 million American adults not working, a failing infrastructure, a health care system in crisis, a massive budget deficit, and a Federal Reserve that has on its books trillions in funds from quantitative easing that will need to be washed through the financial system .... an inflationary catastrophe if there ever was one. Is President Trump responsible for all of this .... no. The ones who are responsible for all of this are the ones in Congress, past Presidents, academia, media, pundits, and special interest groups .... and they are now almost all unified against this President. This is an unprecedented moment in American history .... and quoting Robert F. Kennedy in a 1966 speech .... There is a Chinese curse which says “May he live in interesting times.” Like it or not, we live in interesting times. Sighhh .... indeed.

Editor's Note

WNU Editor: For those who may not know .... I have been involved in a web project for the past 15 years (it has nothing to do with politics/wars/diplomacy/etc.). This afternoon we had a lot of problems that required my attention, and it was because of this .... It’s not just you: Massive internet outage is sweeping the East Coast (BGR). More here .... No, you're not crazy. Part of the internet broke (CNET). War News Updates has not been impacted .... it is on Google's "Blogger" platform .... but my other web site was. Everything seems to be back to normal .... and if there are no more problems my plan is to be back to blogging in the next hour or two.

Update: Amazon server outage affects millions of companies and causes online chaos (News.com.au)

Atrocities By Jihadists Continue Against Christians In Egypt's Northern Sinai



CBN: Atrocities Continue against Christians in Egypt's Northern Sinai

ISIS jihadists continue targeting Christians in Egypt's volatile Northern Sinai region, resulting in brutal murders.

Two men who were abducted by the group have been found dead. Egyptian officials said one of the slain men had his eyes plucked out and was set on fire before being shot to death.

Christian families are fleeing the region in droves. At least 100 families left last Friday after ISIS released a video saying they "will kill every infidel" and that Christians are their "favorite" target.

Women are being threatened if they don't wear the Islamic body-covering and farmers are being forced to give money to the group under the guise they are paying a "zakat," a mandatory Islamic donation to charity.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Sadly .... there is a lot of truth to this report .... IS Militants in North Sinai Showing Their Strength (VOA).

More News On The Christian Exodus From Sinai

Egypt's Christians flee terror in north Sinai security void -- AP
More Egypt Copts flee jihadists in Sinai -- AFP
More than 100 Christian families escape Sinai after chilling ISIS threat -- FOX News/WSJ
Sinai Terror triangle: Christians under attack -- Middle East Eye
Over 100 Families of Egyptian Christians Fled Sinai From Extremists – Archpriest -- Sputnik
Isis attacks drive Egyptian Christians from Sinai city -- Financial Times
'I spent the night at my Muslim friends'': Christians flee Islamic State in Sinai -- Sydney Morning Herald

Turkey Continues Their Military Offensive In Syria

© REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi

Reuters: Manbij is Turkey's next step in Syria operation, Erdogan says

Turkey-backed forces will move toward the northern Syrian town of Manbij after completing their operation in al-Bab as originally planned, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

In a news conference in Ankara before embarking on an official visit to Pakistan, Erdogan also said the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia - which Turkey regards as a terrorist organization - should be moved out to the east of the Euphrates river.

Erdogan also ruled out any chance of cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the Syrian Kurdish militia.

Read more ....

Update: Turkey will end operation in Syria after Manbij captured: Erdogan's adviser (UPI)

WNU Editor: The Syrian Army is also approaching Manbij .... Road to Nowhere: Syrian Army Blocks Turkey's Assault on Raqqa (Sputnik). Talk about setting the stage for a possible unpleasant encounter if the Turkish army continues their offensive. But the real prize is Raqqa .... Turkey Said to Seek U.S. Support to Attack IS Syria Bastion (Bloomberg).

President Trump Will Not Fill 600 "Unnecessary" Appointed Positions



FOX News: Trump: No plans to fill 'unnecessary' appointed positions

President Trump agrees the government glass is half empty. He just doesn’t necessarily mind it.

Trump, in an exclusive interview Tuesday with “Fox & Friends,” suggested his lack of political appointees is less about a difficulty in finding eager candidates and more about a desire for a leaner government operation.

“When I see a story about ‘Donald Trump didn’t fill hundreds and hundreds of jobs,’ it’s because, in many cases, we don’t want to fill those jobs,” Trump said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I hope these are just political positions .... and according to reports they are. But it is hilarious to look at the reporter's faces when President Trump responded that he sees no need to fill "unnecessary" appointed positions. Is this a smart move .... probably not. These are positions where you need to put your loyalists in .... and President Trump looks like someone who needs supporters in the executive. But .... he is also acting on his promises on not growing government when you do not have to .... and for that I have to give him credit.

Is There A Covert Campaign To Murder Russian Diplomats And Officials?


Zero Hedge: Deep State War? Russian Officials Keep Dying Unexpectedly

Six Russian diplomats have died in the last 60 days. As Axios notes, all but one died on foreign soil. Some were shot, while other causes of death are unknown. Note that a few deaths have been labeled "heart attacks" or "brief illnesses."

1. You probably remember Russia's Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov — he was assassinated by a police officer at a photo exhibit in Ankara on December 19.

2. On the same day, another diplomat, Peter Polshikov, was shot dead in his Moscow apartment. The gun was found under the bathroom sink but the circumstances of the death were under investigation. Polshikov served as a senior figure in the Latin American department of the Foreign Ministry.

3. Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York this past week. Churkin was rushed to the hospital from his office at Russia's UN mission. Initial reports said he suffered a heart attack, and the medical examiner is investigating the death, according to CBS.

4. Russia's Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, died after a "brief illness January 27, which The Hindu said he had been suffering from for a few weeks.

5. Russian Consul in Athens, Greece, Andrei Malanin, was found dead in his apartment January 9. A Greek police official said there was "no evidence of a break-in." But Malanin lived on a heavily guarded street. The cause of death needed further investigation, per an AFP report. Malanin served during a time of easing relations between Greece and Russia when Greece was increasingly critiqued by the EU and NATO.

6. Ex-KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping draft the Trump dossier, was found dead in the back of his car December 26, according to The Telegraph. Erovinkin also was an aide to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who now heads up state-owned Rosneft.

Read more ....

Update: 7 Russian Officials Murdered Or Found Dead Since Election Day (True Activist)

WNU Editor: I first heard about this from my Russian friends after Russian Ambassador to the UN Churkin died from a heart-attack this past week. They were wondering on why are so many Russian officials had died in the past few months? Is there something malevolent involved? I poo-poo the entire idea .... there are thousands and thousands of Russian diplomats and officials all around the world .... people die naturally (or accidentally) all the time, and for those who are murdered .... we usually know the reasons why within a few hours. But the point of this post is that people are now raising questions .... and outlets like Zero Hedge are seizing upon it. Conspiracy theories always make the rounds .... especially for those on the fringes .... but this is one conspiracy theory that I hope dies down .... and the sooner it does the better.

Russia And China Veto Syrian Sanctions At The UN

The United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution to ban the supply of helicopters to the Syrian government and to blacklist Syrian military commanders over accusations of toxic gas attacks at U.N. headquarters in New York City, U.S., February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Reuters: Russia, China block U.N. sanctions on Syria over gas attacks

Russia on Tuesday cast its seventh veto to protect the Syrian government from United Nations Security Council action, blocking a bid by Western powers to impose sanctions over accusations of chemical weapons attacks during the six-year Syrian conflict.

China backed Russia and cast its sixth veto on Syria. Russia had said the vote on the resolution, drafted by France, Britain and the United States, would harm U.N.-led peace talks between the warring Syrian parties in Geneva, which began last week.

Nine council members voted in favor of the resolution, Bolivia voted against, while Egypt, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the draft resolution on Tuesday as "totally inappropriate."

Read more ....

More News On Russia And China Vetoing Syrian Sanctions At The UN

Russia, China UN resolution on Syria sanctions -- AP
Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria sanctions -- AFP
At U.N., Russia Vetoes Penalties on Syria Over Use of Chemical Arms -- NYT
Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria chemical weapons use -- CNN
Syria war: Russia and China veto sanctions -- BBC
Russia and China veto UN resolution on Syria sanctions -- Al Jazeera

Israeli Report Criticizes Netanyahu, Military Leadership Over 2014 Gaza War



CNN: Israeli report criticizes Netanyahu, military leadership over 2014 Gaza war

Jerusalem (CNN)Israel's politicians took aim at one another Tuesday following the release of a state report which criticizes the country's preparation and handling of the 2014 Gaza war.

The report, prepared by the State Comptroller, offered a strong indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, claiming it had no strategic goals when the 50-day war started in early July 2014.

The strategic goals should have come first "as required in a proper decision making process," said the report. But it found that that those goals were only set after the Israeli military had put forward its operational plans.

According to the findings, decisions during the war were made by Netanyahu, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, while critical information was withheld from the Security Cabinet.

"Ministers were not presented with significant and necessary information for decision making," the report said.

The report also found that the country was not adequately prepared for the threat from Hamas-built tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel.

Read more ....

More News On Israeli Report Criticising Netanyahu, Military Leadership Over 2014 Gaza War

Watchdog scolds Netanyahu over handling of 2014 Gaza war -- Reuters
Watchdog: Tunnels caught Israel off-guard in 2014 Gaza war -- AP
Israel unprepared for tunnel threat in 2014 Gaza war: Report -- AFP
Netanyahu, Military Faulted in New Report on 2014 Gaza War -- Bloomberg
Special report: Netanyahu and the defense establishment's failures in the 2014 Gaza war -- Jerusalem Post
Scathing 2014 Gaza war report says Israel failed to prepare for Hamas tunnels -- i24news
Netanyahu, Israeli army unprepared for Gaza tunnel war, Shapira report finds -- Middle East Eye

World News Briefs -- February 28, 2017



CNN: Iraqi commander: ISIS leaders 'running away' from Mosul

Irbil, Iraq (CNN)The commander of Iraq's federal police has said ISIS militants in western Mosul are looking to cut and run from their defense of the group's last remaining stronghold in the country.

Cmdr. Ra'ed Shaker Jawdat said ISIS militants were increasingly cut off from each other, and that its leaders were fleeing the remaining pockets of militant control.
"The terrorist organization Da'esh are living in a state of shock (and) confusion and defeat and its fighters are fighting in isolated groups," Jawdat said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
"Our field intelligence units indicate that the terrorist organization is falling apart and its leadership are running away from Mosul."

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Activists: Syrian pro-government forces near IS-held Palmyra.

Putin says Russia will not support sanctions against Syrian leadership.

Iraq erecting floating bridge to connect east, west Mosul.

Largest post-coup trial opens in Turkey.

UN documents nearly 1,500 child soldiers in Yemen.

Yemen conflict: Red Cross appeals for access to key port.

One dead as clashes rock Palestinian camp in Lebanon.

Israel unprepared for tunnel threat in 2014 Gaza war: report.

ASIA

North Korean diplomats in Malaysia to get Kim's brother's body. Kim Jong-nam: North Korean team seeks body as women face charges. Malaysia to charge women with airport murder of North Korean. Kim Jong Nam killing suspects to be charged with murder, minister says.

South Korea suggests North's suspension from UN over airport killing.

Afghan Taliban kill 11 police officers in Helmand province attack. 'Taliban infiltrator' aids police killing in Helmand province.

China reacts with anger, threats after South Korean missile defense decision.

China says hopes U.S. defense spending benefits global stability.

Washington, Tokyo, Seoul explore ways to restrict Pyongyang's weapons funding.

Thai army, rebel negotiators agree 'safety zone' for unrest-hit south.

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong to be indicted on bribery charges.

AFRICA

Somali president declares 'national disaster' over drought.

Libya exposed as an epicentre for migrant child abuse. Refugee women and children 'beaten, raped and starved in Libyan hellholes'.

Guinea president sacks ministers following deadly protests.

Durban's Commonwealth Games in doubt, S.Africa admits.

Zimbabwe armyworm wreaks havoc.

Families of Tunisia beach attack victims to sue travel company.

No Ibrahim Prize awarded for African leadership.

EUROPE

Ukraine blockade tensions rise in rebel-held east.

OSCE monitors warn risk is high for new Donbass flare-up.

Russia looks for positive signals in Trump's speech to Congress.

Putin says sure will be able to solve disputes with Belarus.

Berlin truck attack: Police raid properties linked to mosque.

Poland's top politician builds momentum against Tusk in EU.

Austria prepares tougher measures against rejected asylum seekers.

AMERICAS

Donald Trump set to make his 'biggest speech yet' in joint address to Congress.

Trump looks to refocus his presidency in address to Congress.

Colombia government slams ELN rebels as they admit to Bogota bull ring bombing.

Mexico warns it will end NAFTA talks if U.S. proposes tariffs.

Door knocks in the dark: The Canadian town on front line of Trump migrant crackdown.

Vancouver up in arms as Trump family launches high-rise tower.

Carnival kicks off in Brazil despite recession, security woes.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Australia arrests suspect for advising 'Islamic State' on missile design. Man arrested at Young, NSW for allegedly researching missiles for Islamic State.

Islamic State claims failed suicide attack in Algeria.

IS militants in north Sinai showing their strength.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia wants oil prices to rise to around $60 in 2017 - sources.

SpaceX to fly two tourists around Moon in 2018.

Dow Jones stock index hits best winning streak in 30 years.

US not rich enough to give away money for free - Bill Gates.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 28, 2017



Reuters: Trump seeks 'historic' U.S. military spending boost, domestic cuts

President Donald Trump is seeking what he called a "historic" increase in defense spending, but ran into immediate opposition from Republicans in Congress who must approve his plan and said it was not enough to meet the military's needs.

The proposed rise in the Pentagon budget to $603 billion comes as the United States has wound down major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains the world's strongest military power.

The plan came under fire from Democratic lawmakers, who said cuts being proposed to pay for the additional military spending would cripple important domestic programs such as environmental protection and education.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 28, 2017

Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending -- NYT

Trump: We could spend $30 billion more than estimated on military -- CNBC

McCain, Thornberry rip White House budget plan on defense -- Defense News

McCain, Thornberry: Trump's Proposed Defense Spending Hike Not Enough -- Military.com/Stars and Stripes

Reality Check: Trump Proposal Doesn't Cover Major Military Expansion -- Philip Ewing, nPR

Trump’s Proposed Increase in U.S. Defense Spending Would Be 80 Percent of Russia’s Entire Military Budget -- The Intercept

Pentagon presenting counter-ISIS plan to White House -- Military Times/AP

Mattis Gives White House Tentative Plan for Rapid Defeat of ISIS -- Militay.com

Russia is ready to discuss START-III Treaty revision with US -- TASS

Russia has no plans to change new START Treaty — diplomat -- TASS

Russia’s fifth-gen fighter blitz -- Defense News

Putin says he may close down Kant base if Kyrgyzstan no longer needs Russian help -- TASS

Smerch Designer Explains Why Kiev Can't Produce Its Own Shells for the System -- Sputnik

China secures its 'biggest' military export order for new UAV system -- IHS Jane's 360

N. Korea has ‘1000s of tons of chemical weapons’ scattered across country – Seoul -- RT

North Korea's Chemical Weapon: Inside Deadly VX Nerve Agent Attack -- Rolling Stone

N. Korea's next logical step may be ICBM: 8th US Army commander -- Korea Times

U.S., South Korean troops prepare for joint military drill -- UPI

Cambodia scraps counter-terrorism exercise with Australia, says it is occupied by elections -- ABC News Online

Netanyahu, Military Faulted in New Report on 2014 Gaza War -- Blomberg

Germany’s Military: Looking a Little, Well, Obsolete -- NRO

U.K. MOD reveals $2.12B upgrade plan for Scottish bases -- UPI

Britain and Russia discuss easing tensions, avoiding military accidents - Ifax -- Reuters

Viper Attack Helicopters Give Marines New Weapon for Pacific Arsenal -- Military.com/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Navy places Trident II guidance system production order -- UPI

Pentagon Pushes Missile Defense System With Faulty Interceptors – Report -- Sputnik

U.S. Navy orders 12 new fighter aircraft from Boeing -- UPI

U.S. Army, Marine Corps purchase additional M1156 guidance kits -- UPI

Air Force transition from the MQ-1 Predator to the MQ-9 Reaper is underway -- Air Force Times

Glock is protesting the Army's choice of Sig Sauer for its new handgun -- Army Times

Marine One Replacement Flying Under Trump's Radar -- National Defense

Why U.S. Army Paratroopers Are Practicing in the Frozen Arctic -- Popular Mechanics

The Army's first black, female 3-star was inspired to serve by her father — and Star Trek -- Army Times

Counter-Terror Chief: Expect Terrorist Drone Swarms ‘Soon’ -- Defense One

Fox News Poll: Confidence in military remains high, in media low -- FOX News

Russian Foreign Deputy Minister: Russia-US Relations Are At Their Worst Since Cold War

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov looks on at the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations offices in Geneva October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool

RT: Russia-US relations are at their worst since Cold War – Moscow

Relations between Russia and the United States are at their worst since the Cold War, a Russian Foreign Ministry official has said, placing the blame on the Obama administration.

“The current state of relations between Russia and the United States, as we all know, to put it mildly, leaves much to be desired. It is no exaggeration to say that our relations today are, in fact, at their worst for the whole period after the Cold War,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday in the State Duma.

“The foundation of cooperation that had been gradually created over the course of many years was almost completely destroyed in a short period of time by the previous US administration,” the minister noted, claiming that former US President Barack Obama and his entourage “began to turn towards a strain, and then a confrontation with us long before the Ukrainian crisis.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Are relations at their worst since the Cold War? My answer is .... not yet .... but we are getting there.

More News On Moscow's Remarks That Russia-US Relations Are At Their Worst Since Cold War

Top Russian official: Our relationship with US at lowest point since Cold War -- FOX News
Russian official says relations with US at lowest level since Cold War -- Politico
War With Russia? Putin's Kremlin Says US Relations At Lowest Point Since Cold War -- International Business Times
Russia looks for positive signals in Trump's speech to Congress -- Reuters
Trump's Opponents Build Up Russophobia to Discredit New US Leadership - Moscow -- Sputnik

How To Behave In The Oval Office

Conway takes a group photo in the Oval Office on Monday. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Kellyanne Conway checks her phone while kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office CREDIT: AFP

Senior advisor Kellyanne Conway sits as President Trump welcomes the leaders of dozens of historically black colleges and universities in the Oval Office. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WNU Editor: The Oval Office is a sacred place .... senior advisor Kellyanne Conway should have known better that with the White House Press photographer inside .... her picture will be taken .... and having her curled up on a couch while checking out her cell phone .... not the image/optics you want out there. Mind you .... putting your feet up on the Resolute desk is also a big no-no.


This Photo Reveals A Lot On North Korea’s Nuclear Program

An undated picture provided on 09 March 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C), talking with scientists and technicians involved in research of nuclear weapons, at an undisclosed location, North Korea. Korean Central News Agency

National Post/New York Times: What one photo reveals about North Korea’s nuclear program — more than Kim Jong Un intended

Some images might look silly, but they can be rich with insights into the country’s military and politics. By using high-tech forensics and traditional detective work, analysts and intelligence agencies can use photos to track North Korea’s internal politics and expanding weapons programs with stunning granularity.

Several experts walked us through a photo of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, unveiling what he claimed was a new nuclear device. But the image, from March 2016, may show more than Kim intended: the possible range of the missile behind him, his relationship with the military, even his precise location.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: An excellent analysis. One more reason why I should pay closer attention to the photos that are posted.

Senior North Korean Official In China For Talks

At North Korea's embassy in Beijing, photos of missiles are proudly displayed in a glass case for all to see. The country's nuclear- and chemical-weapons activities have led to a ban on coal imports into China — an expensive sanction. (Saša Petricic/CBC)

Reuters: Senior North Korea envoy visits Beijing after China coal ban

A senior North Korean diplomat arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks, China said, the first such high-level visit since June, after the Asian giant halted coal imports from its impoverished neighbour this month under U.N. sanctions.

North Korea's main diplomatic ally said it would ban coal imports about a week after the isolated country tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile, for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The North's Vice Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song arrived in Beijing at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and will hold talks with his host, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

"This visit of the North Korean vice foreign minister is normal diplomatic contact and exchange between China and North Korea," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It was the Chinese who requested this meeting.

More News On A Senior North Korean Official Going To China For Talks

North Korea diplomat in China amid coal cut tension -- AFP
North Korean diplomat arrives in Beijing for first talks since Kim Jong-nam assassination -- South China Morning Post
Senior North Korean diplomat arrives in Beijing for talks with China -- Nikkei Asian Review
Senior N.K. official arrives in Beijing for talks -- Yonhap News Agency
Friendship on the rocks? China, North Korea clash over nuclear and chemical weapons:Analysis -- CBC

North Korea Executes Five Senior Security Officials With Anti-Aircraft Guns

North Korean Anti-Aircraft Gin (Jalopnik)

FOX News/WSJ: North Korea reportedly kills 5 senior officials with antiaircraft guns

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un executed at least five senior officials in the country's Ministry of State Security using antiaircraft guns, the head of South Korea's intelligence services told lawmakers on Monday.

The execution, which was punishment for unspecified "false reports" that were made to Mr. Kim, according to the intelligence report, came amid fresh allegations from Seoul that the Pyongyang government had ordered and coordinated the killing of Mr. Kim's half brother in Malaysia.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When you are executing your senior security officials .... you know you are in trouble.



More News On North Korea Executing Five Senior Security Officials With Anti-Aircraft Guns

Seoul says North Korea executes 5 senior security officials -- AP
North Korea executed 5 security officials, South Korea says -- CNN
North Korea Reportedly Executes 5 With Anti-Aircraft Gun -- US News and World Report
North Korea executes 5 with anti-aircraft gun -- Washington Times

Last Month's Deadly U.S. SEAL Raid In Yemen Yielded No Significant Intelligence



NBC: Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence: Officials

Last month's deadly commando raid in Yemen, which cost the lives of a U.S. Navy SEAL and a number of children, has so far yielded no significant intelligence, U.S. officials told NBC News.

Although Pentagon officials have said the raid produced "actionable intelligence," senior officials who spoke to NBC News said they were unaware of any, even as the father of the dead SEAL questioned the premise of the raid in an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday.

Read more ....

Update #1: Yemen SEAL raid yielded no significant intel: report (The Hill)
Update #2: Deadly Yemen Raid Produced ‘No Significant Intel:' Report (Newsweek)

WNU Editor: President Trump has responded to the father of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen raid .... Trump responds to father of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen raid (ABC news).

Update #3: 3 investigations look for answers into what happened in raid that led to death of Navy SEAL (Stars and Stripes)

Why Has President Trump's Tax Returns Not Been 'Leaked'?

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with health insurance company CEOs at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Boston Globe: Why some ‘secrets’ leaked while Trump’s tax returns haven’t

President Trump frequently complains about Washington leaks. But what he is really concerned about is that these leaks are not random. He believes that they are being deployed to harm his administration. (Of course, he had no problem with WikiLeaks’ leak of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee during the campaign. “I love WikiLeaks,” he said.) But the pattern of leaks is uneven and, in one area, that inconsistent pattern may well redound to Trump’s advantage: Despite all the information that has come out of this leaky administration, his tax returns remain confidential (except for a single year leaked by one of Trump’s former wives).

Read more ....

WNU Editor: With all the leaks that are now happening in Washington .... you would think that President Trump's tax returns would be one of the first things leaked. Apparently not. is the IRS that secured?

Tweet For Today


WNU Editor: I am surprised that they can pack that many people in the Oval Office.

U.S.House Intelligence Chairman: Hasn't Seen 'Evidence' Of Trump-Russia Contacts



Washington Post: House Intelligence chairman says he hasn’t found evidence of Trump team’s ties to Russia

Congressional Republicans are divided over how aggressively to pursue the allegations that President Trump’s associates had contact with Russia, with some lawmakers calling for a full-scale look at the former national security adviser’s communication with Russia while others say there is no evidence of such contacts.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) made clear that he was more interested in nefarious reports published in the news media than in alleged contacts between the Trump team and Russian officials, saying the focus of the House’s probe would be on information leaks — which he called “major crimes.”

“As of right now, I don’t have any evidence of any phone calls. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist … What I’ve been told by many folks is that there’s nothing there,” Nunes said.

Read more ....

More News On Congress Investigating President Trump's "Russian" Ties

Top House Republican hasn't seen 'evidence' of Trump-Russia contacts -- ABC News
US House intelligence chair says no evidence of Trump ties to Russia -- DW
‘No evidence’ yet of Trump campaign contacts with Russia – House Intel Committee Chair -- RT
White House, GOP Intel Committee Heads Push Back on Russia Reports -- NBC
House Intel Chair says Trump-Russia ties can't become witch hunt -- AP
House intel committee agrees to scope of Trump-Russia probe -- CNN
In the House, Leaders of Russia Inquiry Are Split on Whether It’s Needed -- NYT
Intel Committee Dems huddle amid fight over Russia probe -- The Hill
Dems cry WH interference as House Intel committee probes Trump-Russia ties -- CBS
Senate Intelligence Democrats Skittish About Integrity of Russia Probe -- Roll Call
Congress' Trump Russia probe takes partisan turn -- Fiscal Times

Picture Of The Day

The F-22 was manufactured as a heavy multirole fighter for the gradual replacement of the F-15 Eagle. A total of 187 operational F-22 fighters are in service within 11 fighter wings of the US Air Force. © AFP 2016/ JUNG YEON-JE