Friday, July 21, 2017

Editor's Note

The past week has probably been the best week that this blog has ever had for traffic .... and most are from new visitors. I do not know why .... but I am truly humbled by all of this attention. Thank you.

This Is So Cool!

Tweets For Today

How A North Korean Nuclear Attack On The US Would Play Out

A man and a child watch as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base Thomson Reuters

Alex Lockie, Business Insider: Here's how a North Korean nuclear attack on the US would play out

After North Korea shocked the world on July 4 by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, the US has picked up the pace and urgency of ballistic missile defense despite major flaws in existing systems and tactics.

US plans in the event of a North Korean missile attack would center around spotting the launches early on and prepare to intercept them.

The US has had plans since 2013 to have 44 missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California by the end of 2017, and North Korea would need at least that long to perfect the missiles for its attack.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Alex Lockie is optimistic that the worst case scenario is not going to happen .... I hope he is right.

Picture Of The Day

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
President Donald J. Trump speaks to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and members of the National Security Council during a meeting at the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

WNU Editor: The above picture is from the U.S. Department's Flickr album .... Trump Meets With Defense, Security Leaders at Pentagon (US Department of Defense).

Is North Korea Preparing A Missile Test From A Submarine?


Newsweek: North Korea's Next Missile Test Could be Launched From a Submarine

North Korea may be preparing for another missile launch aimed at the United States.

Kim Jong Un’s regime conducted its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on July 4—Independence Day in the U.S.—with some experts speculating that the missile could reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii, or even the Pacific Northwest.

And now the totalitarian regime appears to be preparing for submarine-based missile launches in the future.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This could be nothing .... or it could be something .... Unusual level of North Korean submarine activity detected  (Economic Times)

More News On Reports That North Korea Is Preparing A Missile test From A Submarine?

Sinpo South Shipyard: Preparations for a New SLBM Test? -- 38 North
Satellite photos reveal North Korea preparing for another ballistic missile launch --
North Korea likely to conduct another missile test in 14 days: US intelligence -- Financial Express
N. Korea Preparing For Another Ballistic Missile Test in Two Weeks -- Defense World
US intelligence shows North Korean preparations for a possible missile test -- CNN
‘Unusual Activity’ Detected in North Korea May Indicate Submarine Missile Test -- Sputnik

Thursday, July 20, 2017

No Response From North Korea On South Korea's Offer For Talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts during the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) test launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA | Reuters

CNN: No reply yet from North Korea on offer of talks, South Korea says

(CNN)Hours before they are due to start, possible joint military talks between North Korea and South Korea remain up in the air, with Pyongyang having yet to confirm its attendance.

The talks were proposed for Friday, near the demilitarized border that divides the two nations, but with the clock ticking down, the South Korean defense ministry said they would give their North Korean counterparts until Thursday afternoon local time to respond.

"We are still waiting for North Korea's official position," Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said at a Thursday briefing. "The administrative preparation for the talks from our side is in progress and going smoothly."

The news comes amid US suspicions that North Korea could be preparing for a new missile test, and as US defense officials said a North Korean submarine had been spotted engaging in "unusual activity" in international waters.

Read more ....

Update: No Korean military talks after North snubs South's call (CNBC/Reuters)

Previous Post: South Korea Proposes Military Talks With North Korea Later This Month (July 17, 2017)

WNU Editor: Memo to South Korean President Moon Jae-in .... North Korea's silence on his proposal for talks is their response.

Is The Kremlin Late To Internet Espionage?

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a display during the MAKS 2017 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow. Credit: Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin-Sputnik

Joyce Hackel, PRI: How Putin learned to stop worrying and love internet espionage

Vladimir Putin came late to the cyber arena.

Up until a few years ago, the Russian leader seemed to all but ignore the internet and spoke out loudly against it. He called the web a "CIA project," with interests that opposed Russia.

Author Richard Lourie says that's basically because Putin is "a television guy."

"Television was the main way he got his news and the main way Russians got their news," says Lourie, who explores the Russian president's conversion to online espionage in his new book "Putin: His Downfall and Russia's Coming Crash."

Lourie notes that about 80 percent of Russians follow official TV news sources, about the same percentage that, according to some estimates, support the Russian leader.

Read more ....

WNU editor: The Kremlin's interest in the internet goes back a long time .... they are not late to the cyber arena. From conducting cyber attacks against Georgia during the Russia-Georgia war in 2008 .... Cyberattacks during the Russo-Georgian War (Wikipedia), to using the internet to discredit political opponents within Russia itself today .... the internet has been a vital tool for the Russian government to shape public opinion. The problem is for those who think the Kremlin is good at this .... the reality is that (at least in Russia) the Kremlin has been lousy at using the web to push their agenda and to discredit their opponents .... What is stirring Russia's youth to rally around Alexei Navalny? (CSM). This is why many Russians (myself included) are sceptical on Western media reports on Russian hacking and use of bots to influence the U.S. election. From our perspective .... we know how bad and inept they are .... a sentiment that is definitely not shared by many in the West who are sold on Russia-Gate. But the best part of this PRI report is the last ....

.... Still, the ease with which former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked reams of classified documents demonstrated to Putin just how dangerous the internet could be for any leader. And Lourie says, ultimately, the internet's power and reach will leave Putin and his associates vulnerable.

"They're terrified of the Russian equivalent of an Edward Snowden appearing," Lourie says. "Younger people are increasingly getting their news and their views from the internet, not from newspapers or television.

Yup .... they are afraid of a Russian Edward Snowden not from the intel that he may leaked .... but because he may expose how inept they really are.

Hat tip to Fred for this story.

Former Obama National Security Official: 'The Media Colluded With Russia'

NTK Network: Senior Obama Admin Official: The Media Colluded With Russia

“You had to have blinders and earmuffs on not to know that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian intelligence official,” Edward Price said on Wednesday.

Edward Price, a former CIA employee who served as a top spokesman and a senior director for President Obama’s National Security Council, accused the media of colluding with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential election while taking part in a panel discussion at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday.

The panel discussion titled “The Kremlin Plan to Beat the West without Firing a Shot,” dealt with Russian’s involvement in the 2016 election and was moderated by CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

During the discussion, Price took exception with how the media covered Russia’s involvement in the election citing October 7, 2016, as the most vivid example of the media’s poor coverage of Russia’s role.

Read more ....

WNU editor: The media carried the stories because they were true .... but this clearly irks former National Security official Edward Price who is trying to tell everyone to look at the origin .... not the content. I say yes .... always look at the origin on the content that is being posted. That is why this blog is always listing the sources for each link (with the exception of my World News Briefs). But if RT/Al Jazeera/China News has a blockbuster story that no one else has and that it can be verified .... tough like Mr Edward Price .... it will be carried even if you do not like the source.

Congress Wants To Know Why Former UN Ambassador Powers Demanded Intel Related To Trump And His Team

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power addresses the United Nation Security Council a during a high level meeting on Syria, at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 25, 2016. Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Washington Free Beacon: Fmr. U.N. Amb. Power Emerges As Central Figure In Obama Unmasking Investigation

Congress demands answers on why Obama officials demanded classified intel that harmed Trump.

Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power's involvement in the unmasking by former Obama administration officials of sensitive national security information is raising red flags over what insiders view was an attempt by the former administration to undermine President Donald Trump and key figures on his team, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

Power appears to be central to efforts by top Obama administration officials to identify individuals named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team, according to multiple sources.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Apparently she felt the need to have access to this intel .... Hoekstra on Samantha Power: How Much Raw Intel Does a UN Ambassador Need? (FOX News). She is slated to give testimony to the US Senate sometime in the future, and it is expected that she will be asked the question on why she demanded this information .... Obama official Samantha Power agrees to testify before House intel panel (FOX News).

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 20, 2017

CSM Editorial: Why the ground shifts under Venezuela's regime

The country’s political crisis is coming to a head as the poor embrace democratic rights and reject the Maduro regime.

A defining moment in a democratic revolution often comes when a nation’s poor, who mostly focus on daily material needs, join others in demanding basic rights and uncorrupted governance. A fruit vendor in Tunisia, for example, sparked a revolution in 2011 after taking a public stand for equality of law. In recent months, as Venezuela nears a breaking point in a political crisis, its poor have begun to join the peaceful efforts of others in seeking an end to the Maduro regime’s grab for indefinite power.

This widening support among Venezuelans to restore democracy, reflected in months of protests and a large voter turnout for an unofficial July 16 referendum by the opposition, has forced other countries to seek a resolution as the crisis slides toward chaos.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 20, 2017

Iran could make or break the US war in Afghanistan -- Rupert Stone, Middle East Eye

Afghanistan’s Opium Trade: A Free Market of Racketeers -- Franz Marty, The Diplomat

Turkey’s Year of Turmoil -- Carl Bildt, Project Syndicate

Down but Not Out: How the Islamic State Could Rebound -- Scott Stewart, Startfor

How to Win the Online War Against Islamic State -- Bloomberg editorial

A coup in the House of Saud? -- Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Netanyahu Puts Trump on Notice Over Syria -- Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor

North Korea: The Flaws of Deterrence -- Crispin Rovere, RCD

Trump's Zig-Zag China Policy Is Confusing U.S. Allies -- Dennis P. Halpin, National Interest

India searches for way out of border standoff with China -- M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times

Why Macron Dared to Confront France's Top General -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Ukraine Needs to Address Its Paramilitary Problem -- Michael Sheldon, National Interest

The U.S. Special Relationship With Britain Needs a Rest -- Noah Smith, Bloomberg

Congress Must Preserve the INF Treaty with Russia -- Thomas Graham Jr., National Interest

Should America’s Tech Giants Be Broken Up? -- Paula Dwyer, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- July 20, 2017 (Evening Edition)

Reuters: Buildup in rival Syrian rebel factions threatens spread of fighting

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jihadist insurgents in northwestern Syria took ground from rival Turkey-backed Islamist fighters as they battled for a second successive day on Thursday, rebel sources said.

Infighting has weakened the Syrian opposition since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. Their turf wars have helped Assad and his allies recover significant ground in the north and around the capital Damascus.

Tensions have been building between Idlib province's two biggest insurgent factions mainly over ideological differences between Islamist militant and more nationalist-leaning armed factions. They have also vied for dominance in the only Syrian province that is entirely under rebel control.

Read more ....


IS families, Mosul displaced live side-by-side in Iraq camp.

UN adds Syrian armed groups to sanctions blacklist.

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus: monitor.

Syria war: Trump 'ends CIA arms programme for rebels'.

Iran's president says his country will 'stand up to' US.

Kuwait closes Iran cultural mission, expels diplomats. Iran slams 'baseless' Kuwait claims over terror plot.

Saudi prince arrested on King Salman’s order after video appears to show abusive behavior. Video of beating shared on social media leads to Saudi prince arrest.

Saudi Arabia sets up state security agency.

Hamas warns Israel of al-Aqsa 'red lines' amid protest. Israel and Palestinians dig in over Jerusalem site security.

Power-sharing deal between former foes taking shape in Gaza.


UN rights chief pressures China on dissident widow's fate.

North Korea drought: Children at risk in 'worst crisis since 2001'.

U.S. Navy chief asks Chinese counterpart for help on North Korea.

Philippines' Duterte makes surprise visit to warzone.

Pakistani forces kill 13 terrorists, destroy hideouts: army.

India low caste leader elected president in boost for Modi coalition.

Get out! Chinese agents bar access to the 'free' wife of Liu Xiaobo.

PNG elections: Free speech under attack during vote, Media Council warns.


'Less fighting' in Darfur led to troops cut: UN official.

Clashes between herdsmen, farmers kill 33 in Nigeria.

US warns South Sudan regional plan is last chance for peace.

Rival Libyan leaders Haftar, Seraj to meet in Paris on July 25: Hayat.

Ugandan police arrests dozens over presidential age limit protest.

Suspects 'tortured' at Cameroon military base, says Amnesty. Amnesty: Cameroon troops tortured Boko Haram suspects.

DRC: vast business network of president who won't step down revealed.

Tanzanian leader urges Burundian exiles to go home.

Protesters to hold Morocco march in defiance of ban.

Son of Cecil the Lion is shot dead by a big game hunter two years after his father was killed.


Keep migrants off mainland, Austria tells Italy.

Few compromises at Brexit talks, minister says UK can survive without deal.

Brexit: UK and EU at odds over 'exit bill'.

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus plans after talks failure.

France’s Macron visits air force base amid military crisis.

Polish lawmakers pass controversial Supreme Court bill. Thousands protest in Poland against court reorganizations.

‘It hurts not having ambassadors,’ says US Army commander in Europe.

Court convicts more than 40 in Rome corruption trial.

Germany overhauls Turkey policy. Germany warns citizens of Turkey risks amid arrests.


Millions heed anti-Maduro shutdown in Venezuela.

Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as strike action begins.

Even with Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe finances.

US House GOP defiant on health bill amid Senate uncertainty.

Trump nominees lose patience with lengthy vetting process.

Brazil's former President Lula has assets frozen.

Police: 2 African teens reported missing crossed into Canada.

Top adviser to Puerto Rico governor resigns, 'in no way pressured'.


U.S. lawmakers want fresh sanctions on Hezbollah.

Qatari emir amends laws to bolster fight against terrorism: agency.

US praises Qatar's role in fight against 'terrorism'.

US: Iran still top state terror sponsor; global attacks down.

IS falling 'very fast': Trump at Pentagon.


Wall Street flat as home improvement retailers get Amazoned.

Microsoft profit rises on shift to cloud computing.

US and China emerge from trade talks without agreement.

AlphaBay and Hansa dark web markets shut down.

ExxonMobil fined by US for Ukraine sanctions violations.

U.S. says ExxonMobil violated Russia sanctions while Tillerson was CEO.

Ukraine War Heats Up

A soldier walks through the abandoned district of summer houses in Avdiyivka on July 11. Photo by Anastasia Vlasova (Kyiv Post)

RFE: Ukraine Says Eight Soldiers Killed Amid Intense Shelling

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said on July 20 that eight Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded in the previous 24 hours as Russia-backed separatists stepped up shelling attacks on their positions in the country's east.

The ministry said on its Facebook page that four servicemen were killed and seven were wounded on July 20, while on the previous day, four soldiers were killed and three wounded.

A ministry spokesman had initially said that nine soldiers were killed and five wounded over the past two days.

Read more ....

More News On The Ukraine War

Ukraine’s army suffers heaviest death toll in a day this year: 8 dead, 10 wounded (UPDATED) -- Kyiv Post
9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017 -- AP
Four Ukrainian servicemen killed, one captured, seven wounded in shelling in Donbas on Thursday -- Interfax-Ukraine
US condemns deadliest day of violence in Ukraine this year -- AP

President Trump Visits The Pentagon For A Briefing On Afghanistan And ISIS

The Hill: Defense leaders brief Trump on Afghanistan, ISIS fight at Pentagon

President Trump on Thursday met with his national security team in a more than two-hour-long Pentagon briefing that touched on Afghanistan and the fight against the Islamic State and Iraq and Syria.

Trump — who met with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford — said "we'll see," when asked prior to the meeting if he was planning on sending more troops to Afghanistan.

He then added, "We're doing very well against ISIS. ISIS is falling fast. Very fast.”

The president arrived at the Pentagon along with Vice President Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. His son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner also attended.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump Visiting The Pentagon For A Briefing On Afghanistan And ISIS

Trump, Tillerson, Mattis meet at Pentagon to discuss way ahead in ISIS, Afghan fight -- Washington Times
Trump focuses on Afghanistan during Pentagon visit -- AP
Trump on more U.S. troops in Afghanistan: 'We'll see' -- Politico
Pentagon briefs Congress on plans to up troop levels in Afghanistan -- FOX News
Trump says "we'll see" about increasing troop levels in Afghanistan -- CBS
No decision on more troops to Afghanistan as Trump meets with Pentagon leaders -- Stars and Stripes
'ISIS is falling fast': Trump says the US and its allies have Middle East terrorists on the run as Pentagon considers troop surge in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban -- Daily Mail
Trump: Islamic State ‘Falling Fast’ -- VOA
Trump at Pentagon: ISIS Is ‘Falling Fast’ -- NBC

Millions On Strike in Venezuela

Reuters: Millions heed anti-Maduro shutdown in Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) - Many Venezuelan streets were barricaded and deserted on Thursday for a strike called by foes of President Nicolas Maduro to demand elections and the scrapping of plans for a new congress they fear will consolidate dictatorship in the OPEC country.

From the Andes to the Amazon, millions appeared to be participating in the 24-hour shutdown, staying at home and closing businesses in a civil disobedience campaign the opposition hopes will end nearly two decades of socialist rule.

"We must all do our best to get rid of this tyrant," said Miguel Lopez, 17, holding a homemade shield emblazoned with "No To Dictatorship!" as he manned a roadblock on a Caracas thoroughfare that was devoid of traffic.

Read more ....

More News On The Crisis In Venezuela

Opposition strike paralyzes parts of Venezuela as fears of violence mount -- Washington post
Venezuela strike erupts into sporadic violence -- ABC News/AP
Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as strike action begins -- BBC
Venezuelans stage general strike against Maduro's leadership -- DW
Venezuela crises set to escalate as general strike begins -- The Guardian
Venezuelans begin 'final offensive' 24-hour walkout against President Nicolas Maduro -- SKY News
Venezuela will 'turn into a bloodbath' warns Organization of American States chief as anti-government protestor is burned alive -- Daily Mail
Venezuela strike deepens challenge to Maduro's rule -- Digital Journal
Venezuelan Business Leader Slams Maduro's Congress Plan -- VOA
Venezuelans cross Colombia border in search of new life -- CBS
Venezuela's military backs Maduro over vote on constitutional changes -- TRT World

President Trump Is At Odds With His National Security Advisers On Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin © Reuters / Sputnik

NBC: Trump at odds with his national security team over pro-Russia moves

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Donald Trump is scrapping “the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad.” As luck would have it, that’s precisely what Vladimir Putin’s Russian government wanted the American president to do.

This wasn’t an isolated development. As we discussed last week, Trump has also tried to weaken sanctions, isolated the United States diplomatically, fractured Western alliances, diminished the influence of the State Department (which is now led by Putin’s closest American ally), and largely ignored Russia’s attack on the U.S. elections – all of which serve Moscow’s strategic goals. As Rachel noted on Tuesday’s show, the list of actions in D.C. that Putin is certain to like keeps growing.

Read more ....

Update: By embracing Russia, Trump bumps up against top advisers (AP).

WNU Editor: President Trump was very opened on what he wanted to do when he ran for President .... and now that he is implementing his agenda .... at least that part of his agenda that is not dependent on Congress .... and we are now seeing (and this not a surprise to me at all) the blow-back from national security "anonymous" sources .... whoever they may be.

US Attorney General Session Has No Intention Of Resigning After President Trump's Criticism

The Guardian: Jeff Sessions says he'll keep job 'as long as appropriate' despite Trump's criticism

Attorney general speaks after Donald Trump’s comments that he would not have hired Sessions had he known he would recuse himself from Russia inquiry

The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said on Thursday that he would continue in his job “as long as that is appropriate”, despite Donald Trump’s barrage of criticism of him.

Trump had told the New York Times in an interview published late Wednesday about his regrets in appointing Sessions as attorney general.

At the center of Trump’s attack was Sessions, the former senator from Alabama who was forced to step aside from the investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in March after meetings he had failed to disclose with the Russian ambassador came to light.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: From my perspective .... after hearing President Trump's remarks on US Attorney General Sessions in yesterday's NYT's interview  .... it is clear to me that he wants his Attorney General to resign to resign. In turn .... it is obvious that US Attorney General Sessions has no intention of resigning.

More News On U.S. Attorney General Sessions' Remarks After President Trump's Criticism

US attorney general plans to stay on despite Trump rebuke -- AFP
Attorney general has no plans to resign despite Trump rebuke -- AP
After Trump criticism, Sessions not planning to resign -- The Hill
Sessions: No plans to resign after Trump criticism -- Politico
Attorney-General Jeff Sessions brushes off Donald Trump rebuke --
After Trump criticism, Sessions not planning to resign -- UPI
Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions 'to stay in job' -- BBC

President Trump's New York Times Interview

New York Times: Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Overall .... I found there were a lot of soft-ball questions in this New York Times interview. But from the interview itself I found this part interesting .... Trump Thinks Comey Was Trying To Blackmail Him (Vanity Fair). And considering the fact that we now know that former FBI Director Comey was leaking information to the New York Times .... the President probably has a point. As for his opinions on Attorney general Sessions .... he appointed him .... he has to live with the consequences. And as for Special Counsel Robert Mueller .... it is clear that as far as President Trump is concerned .... he did nothing wrong, and that Russia did not influenced Americans voters last year. And to say that he is exasperated by the entire process is an understatement. On a side note .... it looks like President Trump has at least one sympathiser in the US Senate .... Sen. Paul backs Trump's frustration with Sessions' recusal (Politico)

President Trump's New York Times Interview

Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump (NYT)
Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions -- NYT
Trump lashes out as presidency hits six-month mark -- AFP
Trump sets red line for Mueller on Russia probe, warns he'll expose 'conflicts' -- FOX news
Trump says Mueller could cross a 'red line' by digging into his finances — and he now appears to be doing just that -- Business Insider