Saturday, December 10, 2016
National Interest: These are the 9 Killer Weapons China and Taiwan Would Use in a War
After Donald Trump’s now historic call with the President of Taiwan, it seems relations between Beijing and Taipei are now back as one the most important international issues of the day.
And so it should be.
With China and Taiwan seeing a spike in tensions after years of relative calm—with the Asia-Pacific region already swimming in its own sea of troubles thanks to tensions in the South and East China Seas—there is once again the danger of a crisis that could bring Washington and Beijing to blows. And as both nations are armed with nuclear weapons, the stakes could not get any higher.
But what would happen if Taipei and Beijing actually ended up in some sort of conflict? What would be the military systems and strategies used? What weapons in China's arsenal would Taiwan fear the most? What would Beijing fear? And most importantly: who would win?
Read more ....
WNU Editor: If there is no outside interference China would win the war. But the cost of the conflict .... as well as the political and economic fallout .... would be enormous.
Reuters: Taiwan says China air force conducts long-range drills
Chinese military aircraft on Saturday flew over waterways near Taiwan as part of long-range exercises, Taiwan said, the first such flights since a telephone call between Taiwan's leader and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump irked China.
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own and has never renounced the use of force to take back what it deems a wayward province.
Trump's call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2 was the first between a U.S. president-elect or president and a Taiwan leader since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 1979.
China lodged a diplomatic protest over the call and blamed Taiwan for what it called a "petty" move.
But there was no indication the exercise by its military aircraft was a response to the telephone call.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: China had to respond to the phone conversation between Taiwan's Presdient and Presdient-elect Trump. I am just surprised that it took the Chinese 8 days to do so.
More News On The Chinese Air Force Conducting Military Exercises Around Taiwan
China flies nuclear-capable bomber in South China Sea after Trump Taiwan call, US officials say -- FOX News
Chinese aircraft fly around Taiwan -- Taipei Times
Chinese jets in exercise close to Taiwan -- Taiwan News
China air force conducts long-range drills near disputed South China Sea, Taiwan says -- International Business Times
BBC: Islamic State fighters re-enter ancient Palmyra in Syria
Islamic State group fighters have re-entered Palmyra, nine months after losing the ancient Syrian desert city.
Monitoring groups say militants and pro-government forces fought fiercely in the centre of Palmyra.
An activist there told the BBC that the city was now "more or less" in IS hands.
Reports from Palmyra say about 50 Syrian troops were killed and there was an unconfirmed report that the rest were fleeing.
There are concerns for the safety of civilians still in the city.
Read more ....
More News On The Islamic State Retaking Palmyra
ISIS Militants Re-Enter Syria's Historic Palmyra -- AP
ISIS is back in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra -- Washington Post
ISIS Close to Recapturing Palmyra From Syrian Forces -- NYT
ISIS jihadis re-enter the ancient city of Palmyra after being chased out eight months ago -- Daily Mail
Islamic State militants enter Palmyra after heavy fighting: monitor -- Reuters
Syrian army rushes forces to historic Palmyra in Islamic State battle, Aleppo fighting continues -- ABC News Online
ISIS reenters Syrian city of Palmyra -- The Hill
Islamic State retakes parts of Syria’s historic Palmyra -- USA Today
Isis ‘retakes part of Palmyra’ in lightning advance nine months after being driven out of ancient Syrian city -- The Independent
Islamic State militants recapture most of Palmyra -- The Australian
ISIS recapture of Palmyra: A fresh assault on heritage sites? -- CSM
The Drive: Family Says Land Overlooking Area 51 Is Worth $116M—USAF Says $330k
The family with a view overlooking the secretive facility continues to battle with the USAF over just compensation for their seized land.
Last year I shared “The Unlikely Story Of The Family Whose Neighbor Is Area 51,” an amazing saga that spanned more than 130 years. It included the pioneering American spirit, the dawn of the nuclear age and the horrific weapons tests that went along with it, a family’s love for their heritage, and most ominously, the most famous secret installation in the world—the USAF’s sprawling flight test center at Groom Lake—better known as Area 51. When we last left the Sheahan family they were at odds with the USAF, who had just made their “final offer” of $5.2 million for their very unique property. Now, a year later, the land has been seized by the Air Force and a bitter legal battle between the two parties is well underway.
Both the Air Force and Sheahans have obtained appraisals for the family’s roughly 400 acres of land and mining claims situated across the Groom dry lake bed from Area 51. The results of those appraisals could not be any more disparate. The Sheahan’s estimators put the value of the property at between $44 million and $116 million. Meanwhile the USAF has come back with another value that they are now willing to pay the family, that being just $333,300, or roughly six and a half percent of their last offer.
Read more ....
Previous Post: Property Owners Next To Area 51 Lose Title To Their Land (October 21, 2015).
WNU Editor: 400 acres of land in the desert is not worth $116 million .... even if it is on Area 51. The family should have taken the $5.2 million .... because this case is now going to go on for years, and the end result will be far less than what the family had hoped for.
Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad walk past damaged buildings in a government held area of Aleppo, Syria December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Key U.S. allies in Europe are quietly expressing concern over President-elect Donald Trump's approach to Syria, warning that his pledge to work more closely with Russia, Damascus' main backer, will do little to diminish the terrorist threat emanating from Syria.
The diplomatic persuasion campaign has taken on new importance in recent days as the Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran and Shi'ite militias, appears poised to retake all of Aleppo city in a major defeat for Western-backed rebels.
Moscow and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are expected to cast Aleppo's fall as the end of a revolt against Assad that began in March 2011, although Western analysts predict the civil war, which has killed more than 300,000 people and made more than half of Syrians homeless, will continue, perhaps for years.
Western diplomats, who described discussions with Trump advisers on condition of anonymity, said their message was that a U.S. alliance with Russia, and by extension Assad, to crush groups like Islamic State will backfire.
Read more ....
WNU editor: Those who are warning President-elect Trump on what to do in Syria (and elsewhere in the Middle East) .... are the same people who were in positions of power around when this disaster first started to unfold .... and are still there as the carnage continues unabated. If there was ever a time for "new blood" and a new approach to the Middle East .... it is now.
U.S. President Barack Obama. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
McClatchy News: Obama is rushing to Trump-proof the White House
WASHINGTON : Since Election Day, President Barack Obama has appointed 56 people to boards, commissions and offices in the hopes that they remain in those posts for years to come.
He has reduced the prison sentences of 79 federal inmates. He has handed out the nation’s highest civilian honor to 21 people who he said personally made an impact on his life.
And he has churned out rules, regulations and policies several times a week.
Obama is trying to put the people and policies in place that he wants to outlast his presidency in the final weeks before Donald Trump takes over. And his supporters want more, way more.
Every president tries to push through last-minute policies before their time in office comes to a close. But this year has a more frantic feel as special interest groups push Obama to do more, not just because the president-elect is of a different party but because few people know what he will do.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: President Obama is President until January 20, 2017 .... so he can make any appointments and impose any rules/regulations/policies if he wants. But the election of Donald Trump has resulted in many groups pressing the panic button in the hope that President Obama will accommodate their wishes .... and I will not be surprised if he will try to do just that.
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh attends the plenary session of the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island September 27, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Files
(CNN)Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared his "total rejection" of the results of his country's December 1 election and called for his country to vote again -- a week after accepting his defeat.
Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia with an iron grip since seizing power in a 1994 military coup, suffered a shock loss after running for his fifth term in office.
On December 2, Jammeh accepted his defeat and congratulated Adama Barrow on his victory in an address broadcast by Gambian state television. But he now refuses to accept the outcome.
"I announce to you, Gambians, my total rejection of the election results and thereby annulling the elections in its entirety," he said in a televised speech Friday.
Read more ....
More News On Gabon's President Rejecting His Election Defeat
Gambian president rejects election results, demands fresh polls -- France 24
Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh rejects election result -- BBC
Gambian president Yahya Jammeh rejects election result -- The Guardian
Gambian President Rejects Election Outcome -- VOA
The Gambia: troops deployed to streets as president rejects election defeat -- The Guardian
Gambia's president-elect says loser Jammeh cannot reject polls -- Reuters
Gambia President's rejection of poll results "null and void"- African Union -- Reuters
Gambia leader's rejection of defeat 'null and void,' AU says -- AP
Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh's poll rejection condemned -- BBC
ABC News: 200 More American Toops Headed to Syria
Two hundred additional American special operations troops are headed to Syria to help Syrian Kurdish and Arabic forces fighting ISIS, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Saturday at a security conference in Bahrain.
The troop increase will bring the total number of U.S. troops in Syria to 500.
A defense official said the additional troops will help train, advise and assist the growing number of Syrian rebel forces preparing to retake and hold Raqqa, ISIS' de facto capital city in Syria.
Carter, who made the announcement at the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Manama Dialogue, said the additional forces will help "to continue organizing, training, equipping, and otherwise enabling capable, motivated, local forces to take the fight to ISIL, and also bringing down to bear the full weight of U.S. forces around the theater of operations like the funnel of a giant tornado."
Read more ....
WNU Editor: Did anyone say "mission creep".
More News On The U.S. Deploying 200 More Soldiers To Syria
Adding 200 More Troops to Syria, US Deepens Involvement -- AP
Pentagon expands Syria force ahead of assault on militant capital -- Washington Post
Pentagon chief announces 200 more US troops for Syria -- AFP
U.S. boosts Syria anti-IS forces, urges Gulf military self-reliance -- Reuters
Syria conflict: US to send troops to help seize Raqqa from IS -- BBC
U.S. to Send 200 More Troops to Syria -- WSJ
US to deploy up to 200 more troops to Syria -- CNN
US to send 200 more troops to Syria to bolster Raqqa assault -- The Guardian
U.S. to send 200 more troops to Syria to combat Islamic State -- UPI
Pentagon to nearly double the number of US troops fighting Isis in Syria as battle for Raqqa begins -- The Independent
Defense Secretary: U.S. will deploy 200 more troops to fight ISIL -- USA Today
Carter: US Sending 200 Troops to Syria to Help Capture Raqqa -- VOA
The U.S. is sending another 200 troops to Syria as ISIS fight intensifies around Raqqa -- Military Times
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande in Berlin, Germany, October 20, 2016. © Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters
The Guardian: Russian involvement in US vote raises fears for European elections
CIA investigation may have implications for upcoming French and German polls, even raising doubts over integrity of Brexit vote
The CIA’s conclusion that Russia covertly intervened to swing last month’s presidential election in favour of Donald Trump but its actions did not place the overall credibility of the result in doubt will be hard to swallow for some.
The classified CIA investigation, which has not been published, may also have implications for the integrity of Britain’s Brexit referendum last June, and how upcoming elections in France and Germany could be vulnerable to Russian manipulation. The latest revelations are not entirely new. What is fresh is the bald assertion that Moscow was working for Trump.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: The U.S., France, and Germany have been influencing elections in other countries for years. And now they are upset that someone may be trying to influence theirs (and a big maybe at that) .... the irony of all of this speaks for itself.
Washington Post: Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
Read more ....
WNU Editor: A lot of news converage but no smoking gun, and no explanation on why would Russia support a Donald Trump Presidency. But what we do know is that the Wikileaks revelations seriously embarrassed the Democrat party, the media, and the U.S. electoral process. It revealed how the primaries were rigged to favour Hillary Clinton. It revealed extensive media cooperation with the Democrat campaign .... first against Bernie Sanders, and then against Donald Trump. It also showed how Democrat insiders operate .... and how they reward their supporters. In short .... if a reporter had done the same thing against a Republican candidate and his political party what the CIA is accusing Russia and Wikileaks of doing .... he or she will be receiving a Pulitzer Prize for his work right now. As for the Trump transition team .... they are not holding back on their opinion of this report .... Trump breaks with Obama, intel agencies on election hacking (Politico). As to what is my take .... the CIA will need to declassify their report and to release names the and organisations that they believed were responsible for hacking the Democrat servers .... they must also include timelines, the what and when the data was taken, and when was this info given to Wikileaks. Saying that you believe someone did this .... while not providing any evidence to back it up .... does not make it necessarily true. As to this claim .... Russia Hacked Republican Committee but Kept Data, U.S. Concludes (New York Times). The FBI in an earlier report says the opposite .... the Russians were not successful in hacking into the Republcan Party servers. But if the Russians had hacked the Republican Party servers .... and knowing how they think .... they would have also forwarded this info to Wikileaks. So why is this CIA report being leaked now? I do not know, but I do know that this report will be used by some quarters to deligitimze the Trump Presidency. On a side note .... the Washington Post is saying that the Republicans are getting on board to support this CIA assessment. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are not the Republican party .... they are just two guys who are Republican Senators who have a long "beef" with President-Elect Trump.
Update: Someone asked me on who do I believe is responsible for leaking this information to Wikileaks. As I had mentioned in a previous post on this matter, when you have a leak like this it is usually done by someone on the inside .... i.e. someone on the inside of the Democrat Party. I also belevie that Julian Assange is telling the truth when he says that the Russians did not leak this info to Wikileaks. Julian Assange and Wikileaks have a reputation of revealing secrets and telling the truth .... and they have not been caught on a lie for the past ten years. I cannot say the same for the CIA.
More News On The CIA Report That Claims That Russia Worked To Help Donald Trump Win The U.S. Presidency
CIA says Russia intervened to help Trump win White House -- Reuters
Reports: CIA Believes Russia Helped Trump Win White House -- VOA
Russia tried to meddle in elections, favored Trump over Clinton -- CBS
CIA concludes 'Russia DID intervene in the elections with the goal of helping Trump win' but transition team dismisses claims saying they come from the 'same people that said Saddam had WMDs' -- Daily Mail
Secret CIA assessment: Russia was attempting to assist Trump -- The Hill
Russia 'intervened to promote Trump' - US intelligence -- BBC
CIA finds Russia interfered to help Donald Trump win US election: reports -- ABC News Online
CIA concludes Russia interfered to help Trump win election, say reports -- The Guardian
The CIA says it has evidence that Russia tried to help Trump win the US election -- Business Insider
Trump Team Dismisses Report Russian Hacking Was to Help Trump Win -- NBC
Analysis: The CIA concluded Russia worked to elect Trump. Republicans now face an impossible choice. -- Chicago Tribune
So the CIA is pretty sure the Russians wanted Trump to win -- Hot Air
Dr. Hiroya Sugano, center, the caretaker of the Blackened Canteen tradition, a U.S. airman and a member of the Japanese military pour bourbon whiskey into the hallowed waters at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 6, 2016. The whiskey is a peace offering. The vessel is a World War II-era canteen recovered at a crash site where two American bombers collided after a deadly raid on Shizuoka, Japan, June 19, 1945. The aircrews and 2,000 Japanese citizens were killed in the air raid. Sugano is the director general of the Zero Fighter Admirers Club. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
WNU Editor: The symbolism behind this picture leaves me speechless.
Many Japanese Leaders Are Worried That Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Will Apologise At Pearl Harbor When He Visits Later This Month
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walk in front of a cenotaph after they laid wreaths at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Business Insider/South China Morning Post: Japanese leaders are pressuring Shinzo Abe not to apologize for Pearl Harbor
Conservatives in Japan have reacted angrily to suggestions Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should use his visit to Pearl Harbour in late December to apologise for the attack that brought the US into the second world war.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday that Abe’s two-day visit to Hawaii from December 26 would be for “consoling the souls of the war dead, not for an apology,” but an editorial in the Asahi newspaper said the Japanese leader should use the occasion to “vow never to resort to the use of arms based on genuine remorse for rushing into a reckless war”.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: The group that is pressuring Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to not apologize at Pearl Harbor also believe in this ....
.... the society has determined that China triggered the Sino-Japanese war in August 1937, there was no massacre of civilians in Nanking four months later and “comfort women” were willing and well-paid professional prostitutes. Equally, annexation of the Korean Peninsula was “inevitable” because the kingdom was unable to maintain its independence, while the Korean people flourished under benevolent Japanese rule.
When I lived and worked in Asia this Japanese position of denial on what they did (or did not do) during the Second World War just drove everyone else throughout the continent completely nuts (especially those in China, Korea, and the Philippines). This absurd position that many Japanese (even to this day) continue to hold onto has caused incredible damage to Japanese relations with everyone else in Asia. And even though the war ended 75 years ago .... the scars and bitterness do not only still remain .... but I predict will only intensify with time.
Friday, December 9, 2016
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
Stratfor: Where a Strong Dollar Will Do the Most Damage
Forecasting the future of currencies is a notoriously risky business. Forces may push them in a particular direction, as is currently the case with the dollar, but in the ever-changing environment of the foreign exchange market, events anywhere in the world, at any point in time, can alter their course. Nevertheless, the dollar is steadily strengthening, and it could create headaches in other parts of the world.
One of the biggest victims will be China. The Chinese yuan has been devaluing against the dollar for the past 18 months, a process that in itself leads to capital flight as investors try to flee the depreciating currency. This carries the risk of becoming a disorderly process, and China has spent a considerable share of its foreign exchange reserves trying to manage it. A strengthening dollar will put more pressure on China to burn through its remaining reserves even faster, eating away at the safety net it has built up over the past two decades.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: In a normal world a strong U.S. dollar will mean a rise in exports to the U.S. because of their low costs .... and a subsequent depreciating of the dollar as more dollars go overseas to pay of these imports. But President-Elect Trump has made it clear that he will not tolerate American jobs going overseas, and he has eye on cutting the massive U.S. trade deficit via through tariffs.. If I was a currency trader .... and if I believe that President-Elect Trump will do what he has promised .... I will be betting heavily in favour that the U.S. dollar is going to rise even more. As for those countries that are impacted the most by a strong U.S. dollar .... tough times are ahead.
Military Times: Reporter takes heat for shooting at ISIS
Journalists in warzones are supposed to be non-combatants, but Jason Buttrill of The Blaze recently tweeted a picture of himself with a sniper rifle along with the message: “Major bucket list completed. Shoot at #ISIS ? Check!”
A Marine veteran, Buttrill also tweeted that he fired six shots at the enemy. “ISIS looked like ants on that scope, but...my USMC PMI [primary marksmanship instructor] was exceptional.”
Buttrell served as an intelligence in the Marine Corps from January 1999 to January 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, according to Manpower & Reserve Affairs. He was promoted to sergeant in July 2004 while serving in the Individual Ready Reserve.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: There are some lines that war reporters should not cross .... is this one of them .... clearly many war correspondents feel that he has crossed that line. What's my take .... I am split between both sides.
Robert Fisk, The Independent: There’s one key difference between the Second World War and the Syrian conflict – the rebels of Aleppo are no heroes
We refer to them as ‘rebels’ – as if they were the Maquis fighting in the French resistance or Partisans freeing Yugoslavia from the Nazis or, indeed, the insurgents of Warsaw struggling for freedom from the German SS. Which they clearly are not.
I’ve just spent hours watching footage of the siege. The pictures are familiar: planes fall like vultures through the sky and buildings are blown apart, children are brought to hospitals covered in blood, bodies are buried in shallow graves, hospitals themselves are repeatedly bombed, entire districts of the city turned to rubble, civilians flee their homes amid burning buildings. Rescue workers tug at the living and the dead amid the wreckage of the city. America and Britain demand an end to the destruction but do nothing. And Russia cynically and cruelly allows the innocent to die. Readers will know exactly what I am describing.
The Warsaw Uprising, of course, 1944, not 2016. The scenes are eerily familiar to all that other blood-soaked footage from Aleppo we’ve been watching more recently – but, in one critical way, very different. For the fighters of the Home Army in Poland – ‘rebels’ against German occupation, patriots loyal to the Polish government in London – appear constantly in the old black-and-white film of the Warsaw Uprising. Their own military targets are attacked by their enemy. Civilians are seen queuing for weapons to fight alongside the insurgents.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: A reality check from Robert Fisk on who the rebels are in Aleppo.
From YouTube: Elyesa Bazna was an Albanian from Kosovo who spied for the Germans during the Second World War, and was widely known by his code name Cicero. Elyesa Bazna was a famous World War II secret agent. Principally motivated by a feeling of power, he sold information to the Germans through their attaché Ludwig Carl Moyzisch, in Turkey Ankara in what became known as the Cicero affair. The information that he leaked is believed to have been potentially among the more damaging disclosures made by a Second World War spy but conflicts inside the highest echelons of the German government meant that little if any of it was acted upon.