Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Saudi Arabia's Intelligence Chief Steps Down

Prince Bandar bin Sultan gestures as he speaks to the media during a news conference at Tufts University's Fletcher School in Medford, Massachusetts October 23, 2003. Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg/Files

Saudi Spy Chief, Architect Of Syria Policy, Replaced -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabian intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the architect of Riyadh's attempts to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been removed from his post, state media reported on Tuesday.

His departure, months after he was quoted warning of a "major shift" from the United States over its Middle East policy, may help to smooth relations with Washington as Riyadh pushes for more U.S. support for Syrian rebels.

Prince Bandar, who has recently spent time in the United States and Morocco for medical treatment, was replaced on an interim basis by a deputy.

"Prince Bandar was relieved of his post at his own request and General Youssef al-Idrissi was asked to carry out the duties of the head of general intelligence," state news agency SPA said, citing a royal decree.

Read more ....

More News On Saudi Arabia's Intelligence Chief Stepping Down

Saudi Arabia replaces intelligence chief -- The Guardian
Saudi king replaces intelligence chief Bandar -- AP
Saudi replaces veteran intel chief Prince Bandar -- Business Standard/AFP
Saudi Intel Chief Relieved of Duties -- Defense News
Saudi King Orders Removal of Prince Bandar as Spy Chief -- Al Manar
Saudi Arabia replaces powerful intelligence chief -- Middle East Online

My Comment: I do not expect any changes in Saudi policy.

The Rise Of Facebook Jihadis

Fighters of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade in Syria, near the border with Turkey. British youngsters are among recruits to such groups, prompting fears that they will return to the UK as potential terrorists. Photograph: Reuters

The Facebook Jihadis Seeking Action In Syria -- The Guardian

Security agencies fear a small number of the young Britons recruited online to fight in Syria will come back plotting terror

"Is it possible to do jihad half a year?" asks one would-be recruit, apparently seeking to join a rebel group in Syria on a short-stay basis. The question is directed at a man on the Ask.fm website who describes himself as "a stranger currently fighting in Syria".

Other questioners seek advice on how easy it is to cross the border into Syria from Turkey and the best way to persuade parents to allow them to go.

They also want to know: "How much is a Glock pistol?" "Which is the best rebel group to join?" "Is there training in jujitsu?" One of the most extraordinary questions, given the carnage in Syria, is: "Would it be wise to come there with my wife and one-year-old son?" The man replies, not surprisingly: "The situation right now isn't the best for families."

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a threat that is going to be with us for a very long time.

The CIA's Pakistan Drone Strikes Have Been Carried Out By US Air Force Personnel



CIA's Pakistan Drone Strikes Carried Out By Regular US Air Force Personnel -- The Guardian

Former drone operators claim in new documentary that CIA missions flown by USAF's 17th Reconnaissance Squadron

A regular US air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA's drone strike programme in Pakistan, according to a new documentary to be released on Tuesday.

The film – which has been three years in the making – identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which operates from a secure compound in a corner of Creech air force base, 45 miles from Las Vegas in the Mojave desert.

Several former drone operators have claimed that the unit's conventional air force personnel – rather than civilian contractors – have been flying the CIA's heavily armed Predator missions in Pakistan, a 10-year campaign which according to some estimates has killed more than 2,400 people.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The CIA's Pakistan Drone Strikes Have Been Carried Out By US Air Force Personnel

CIA using US air force to carry out drone strikes in Pakistan -- RT
Drone Pilots Say the CIA Has the Air Force Doing Its Dirty Work -- Motherboard
CIA's Pak drone mission flown by US air force personnel -- Business Standard
US Air Force flew killer drone missions in Pakistan: Report -- Express Tribune
Drone strikes in Pakistan carried out by US air force personnel -- The Nation

Massive Al Qaeda Meeting Filmed In Yemen



Unsettling Video Shows Large al Qaeda Meeting In Yemen -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn't know about it or couldn't get a drone there in time to strike.

U.S. officials won't comment on that, but every frame of the video is now being analyzed by the United States.

In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda's crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.

The video started appearing on jihadist websites recently, drawing the attention of U.S. officials and global terrorism experts. U.S. officials say they believe it's authentic.

"This is quite an extraordinary video," Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst, said.

Read more ....

Update #1: Video shows brazen outdoor meeting of al-Qaeda fighters -- Washington Post
Update #2: Al Qaeda mocks U.S. in ‘extraordinary’ Yemen gathering; experts fear C.I.A. caught flat-footed -- Washington Times
Update #3: New Video Shows Largest Al Qaeda Gathering in Years -- PJ Media

My Comment: So much for White House claims that Al Qaeda is on the decline.

Russian President Putin Tells German Chancellor Angela Merkel That Ukraine Is On 'Brink Of Civil War'



Putin: Escalating Conflict Puts Ukraine On 'Brink Of Civil War' -- CNN

Kharkiv, Ukraine (CNN) -- The escalating conflict in Ukraine "essentially puts the nation on the brink of civil war," Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

His assessment came during a telephone conversation with his German counterpart, according to the Kremlin, the same day Ukraine's military launched its first, formal military action against pro-Russian militants with troops retaking an airport in the eastern Donetsk region after a reported clash with gunmen.

The military action came a day after a Ukrainian ultimatum expired for protesters to lay down their arms, a move that appeared to signal an escalation in the crisis that has sparked a diplomatic row between Ukraine, its Western allies and Russia.

Read more ....

My Comment: I have noticed that when Putin is upset .... he always communicates his concerns through Germany's Merkel. The prospect of a civil war in Ukraine is unsettling for everyone .... but I doubt that anyone can control what is happening ... even Putin.

The above video from CNN is a must see.

All Eyes On Russia As Ukraine Begins Offensive In East

Russian President Vladimir Putin.(RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

'We Will Shoot Back': All Eyes on Russia as Ukraine Begins Offensive in East -- Spiegel Online

Many in the West believe that Russia is behind the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. Kiev on Tuesday launched an offensive to retake control of the region, but the biggest question still looms: Will Russia invade?

The last village on Russian territory, located just off the M3 highway where it enters Ukraine on the way from Moscow, is called Amon. Previously, motorists hardly took notice of the settlement and the border behind it was largely symbolic. But times have changed. Lena Mayorova, a nurse, is standing in front of her house and pointing out the positions taken up by Russian soldiers, where troops have dug trenches and hidden machine guns behind mounds of sandbags. A military helicopter is roaring overhead. Mayorova has never before seen such a thing, at least not here.

But the military presence, seven kilometers (4.3 miles) from the border, meets with her approval. She and others in the area believe that "over there, they are facing a civil war and fascist mercenaries are marching in from Kiev." That, at least, is what Mayorova learned from Russian state television.

Read more ....

Update #1: Putin: Ukraine’s radical escalation puts it on edge of civil war -- RT
Update #2: U.S. Prepares Responses to Possible Russian Moves in Ukraine -- WSJ

My Comment: In all of my years I have never seen Russian - Ukrainian relations this toxic. There is also a great deal of fear throughout the region .... everyone is worried about their future, the safety of their families and friends, their jobs, pensions, their homes, their savings, and .... right now .... on the security situation and the real possibility of a civil war breaking out in Ukraine coupled with a war against Russia. And this is the tragedy of the situation .... the average person on the street in Ukraine does not want this to happen .... but the leaders appear to be hell bent on starting a confrontation regardless of the consequences.

I still do not expect a Russian intervention .... the military resources necessary for a successful operation are not there .... and it will take weeks for all of it to be mobilized. My fear is what happens in Ukraine itself. Too many people on both sides have become too radicalize .... and even though they are still the minority .... they are the ones who are in positions of power and who have the weapons and the will to use them. And this is now my biggest fear .... even if the U.S., the EU, and Russia do come together in the next few days to work and cooperate together in defusing the situation in Ukraine .... many Ukrainians are now too invested in this crisis to have it stopped.

On a personal note .... this crisis is making me personally sick. I have been running this blog for years .... covering numerous wars and conflicts, military and intelligence developments, international trends, some politics and economics .... and the odd human interest story. But this story is hitting me home .... it is personal in every way. A part of me wants to be there .... another part of me is glad that I am in Canada. It is also times like this that I do realize that my father was right when I left home to work abroad .... eventually settling in Canada .... so many years ago. You can take the person out of the country .... but you can never take the country out of the person.

Is Ukraine On The Verge Of A Civil War?

An Ukrainian soldier (L) aims his rifle at pro-Russia protesters gathered in front of an Ukrainian airbase in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine April 15, 2014.(Reuters / Marko Djurica )

Ukraine On Verge Of Major Armed Conflict -- Alec Luhn in Kramatorsk, Paul Lewis in Washington and Julian Borger, The Guardian,

First significant military action in east of country as troops clash with armed pro-Russian gunmen in airfield

Ukraine is on the verge of major armed conflict as government forces launch their first significant military action in the east of the country, where they have clashed with about 30 armed pro-Russian gunmen at a provincial airfield.

Shots were fired in Kramatorsk airport as Ukrainian special forces stormed in to reassert Kiev's control. As troop helicopters hovered above and tempers flared, a Ukrainian general was set upon by a group of local people incensed that two protesters had been injured, knocking off his military-issue fur hat and yelling, "Jail him."

At the same time as Kramatorsk airport was being seized, elite Ukrainian units were also gathering outside the nearby city of Slavyansk in an operation aimed at taking back control from armed pro- Russian groups.

Read more ....

My Comment: It appears that today's Ukrainian military operations were more centered on seizing a critical airfield, and deploying troops. This deployment .... and reports of gunfights .... has not gone over very well with many local civilians .... according to Russian news reports .... who showed up to protest against this deployment. From what I am hearing .... this apparently surprised many Ukrainian soldiers who expected to find Russian soldiers in their mists .... not local Russian Ukrainians. But the situation is still incredibly fluid .... and there is a lot of anger on both sides.

As to what is going to happen next .... I suspect that this Ukrainian military deployment is now going to stay put. There are talks scheduled for Thursday in Europe to discuss the Ukraine crisis ... and I doubt that the interim Ukraine government is going to order the military to move into heavily populated centers while these talks are ongoing. This weekend is also Easter .... for both Catholic and Orthodox faiths .... and it would not surprise me if this holiday period will be used as a "cooling off" period for both sides. The big worry is .... what will happen next week. On that question .... I have no answers.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- April 15, 2014



Goodbye, Good Luck To Ukraine? -- Frida Ghitis, CNN

(CNN) -- The mysterious, faceless green men have entered eastern Ukraine, looking much like they did last month in Crimea before Russia sliced off and swallowed that former province of Ukraine.

What will President Barack Obama do now?

Unlike Russia's Crimea invasion, the Ukrainian government is not rolling over as readily this time, vowing not "to let the Crimea scenario repeat." That is just what Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to justify an open military assault under the guise of "protecting" Ukraine's ethnic Russians. The possibility that war will break out is real.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

What Does Vladimir Putin Want In Ukraine? -- David Blair, Daily Telegraph

The cost of Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine -- David Ignatius, Washington Post

Crimeans find their new lives in Russia harder than expected -- Mike Eckel, Christian Science Monitor

Shamefully, Hizbollah has abetted Assad’s worst acts -- Michael Young, The National

Surviving Syria's Civil War With Heavy Metal -- Daniel J. Gerstle, The Atlantic

In the Middle East, Time to Move On -- New York Times editorial

China, Russia Seek 'Enhanced Mutual Political Support' -- Shannon Tiezzi, The Diplomat

After Bo Xilai Conviction, Mixed Legacy for Chongqing's Anti-mafia Campaign -- Rebecca Valli, Voice of America

Gang of Three? Why Obama Must Bring Seoul and Tokyo Together -- J. Berkshire Miller, Foreign Affairs

US pivot is faltering, which might be a good thing -- Geoff Miller, The Interpreter

Will a Nuclear Japan be Obama’s Legacy? -- Michael Rubin, Commentary

In the Central African Republic, the only rule is terror -- Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Nicolas Maduro's Failures All Too Apparent -- Carlos Alberto Montaner, Real Clear World/Miami Herald

Letter from Cuba: To Embargo or Not -- Michael Totten, World Affairs

Could Police Have Averted the Boston Bombings? -- Denise Lavoie, AP

A year later, lessons from the Boston Marathon bombings -- Christian Science Monitor editorial

World News Briefs -- April 15, 2014 (Evening Edition)



Ukraine Launches Crackdown on Separatists -- Voice of America

Ukrainian airborne troops landed in a town in the east of the country on Tuesday apparently at the start of an “anti-terrorist operation” to root out pro-Russian separatists - but they pulled back into base after meeting a hostile reception from local civilians.

The town of Kramatorsk is one of 10 localities in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east where separatist rebellions have broken out. The move suggested Ukraine's authorities were going ahead with a plan for a military crackdown to end the unrest which began 10 days ago.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria army launches assault in besieged Homs.

Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead.

Rebel videos show first U.S.-made rockets in Syria.

Saudi Arabia: reported poison gas use by Syria is challenge to world.

Watchdog: Syria falling behind on chemical weapons removal.

Concerned for stability, Saudi Arabia tightens curbs on dissent.

Rouhani says Iran sanctions will unravel in months.

Iran complains to UN over US ban on envoy Aboutalebi.

Iraq closes Abu Ghraib prison amid security concerns.

FM: Israel close to forging new ties across Arab world.

Lebanese al-Manar TV journalists killed in Syria. Three Lebanese journalists for Al-Manar TV killed in Syria.

Turkey accuses Twitter of 'tax evasion'.

Iran considers ban on vasectomies in drive to boost birthrate.

ASIA

Japan population drops for third year straight; 25% are elderly.

Missing flight MH370: Robotic sub first mission cut short. Undersea drone hunt for Malaysian plane may take two months.

Afghanistan says U.S. air strike kills three civilians.

U.S. fears Afghan services may be cut as corruption sharply reduces customs taxes.

India’s Muslims worried about controversial Hindu leader as national elections begin.

China gold demand to rise, World Gold Council says.

EPA chief's Taiwan trip infuriates Beijing.

AFRICA

Ailing Algerian President expected to win election.

Zambia won’t condone political violence, says official.

Nigeria beefs up security after Abuja attack.

Nigeria unrest: 'Attackers abduct 200 schoolgirls'.

Nigeria President Jonathan vows to end terrorism, says adviser.

South Sudan conflict: Pro-Machar forces 'seize' Bentiu.

MSF: Fighting displaces 7,000 in north CAR. Fighting erupts in Central African Republic town.

Ebola outbreak: At least 100 die in West Africa. WHO: Ebola death toll tops 120.

Sudan bans meetings of political parties.

Jordan ambassador to Libya abducted.

Prosecutors end Pistorius questioning citing intent to kill.

EUROPE

UN: Corruption, propaganda behind Ukraine tensions.

Ukrainian military operation targets pro-Russian separatists.

Russia says Ukraine close to civil war as Kiev begins offensive. Ukraine 'on the brink of civil war': Russian PM.

Ukraine presidential candidates attacked in Kiev.

Ukraine crisis could hit Russian GDP.

In Ukraine, NATO sticks to a war of words against Russia.

EU agrees to work more closely with NATO.

Gazprom assures Europe on gas supplies reliability.

Spain tops list of EU's 10 worst employment blackspots.

Berlusconi ordered to do community service for tax conviction.

AMERICAS

Coast Guard unloads $110 million worth of cocaine at its Miami Beach base.

Ukraine crisis: Obama urges Putin to rein in separatists.

Deadly Chile wildfires rage for fourth day.

Mexico pledges own anti-money laundering list.

Nicaragua on maximum alert after series of quakes.

Bolivia's Morales files Hague documents in sea access claim against Chile.

Panama Presidential candidates tied ahead of May vote.

One year later: Boston is still strong — and evil in a white hat is sniveling in solitary. Boston bombing anniversary draws solemn tributes.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

A look at the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram.

More Boston bomber types lurk, officials warn.

Jury selected for U.S. trial of one-eyed, handless Islamic cleric.

CIA using US air force to carry out drone strikes in Pakistan.

Accusation of FBI spying stalls Guantanamo 9/11 hearing. Defense alleges FBI spying in 9/11 hearing at Guantanamo.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Google buys drone maker Titan Aerospace.

WTO: Global trade to gain speed in 2014 and 2015.

Coca-Cola sales beat estimates as China volumes soar.

Yellen: Mega-banks might need to hold more capital.

South Sudan Rebels Seize Oil Hub Bentiu, Tell Foreign Firms To Leave


South Sudan Rebels Say Seize Oil Hub Bentiu, Tell Foreign Firms To Go -- Reuters

* Army confirms there is fighting in Unity state
* Rebels give oil firms a one-week deadline to leave
* Three Russian oil workers injured in attack -source

ADDIS ABABA, April 15 (Reuters) - South Sudanese rebels said on Tuesday they have seized the capital of oil-producing Unity state, Bentiu, and warned oil firms to pack up and leave within a week.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than one million displaced since fighting erupted in South Sudan in the middle of December, triggered by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

"The recapturing of Bentiu marks the first phase of liberation of oil fields from (the) anti-democratic and genocidal forces of Kiir," rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News On South Sudan Rebels Seizing The Oil Hub Of Bentiu And Tell Foreign Firms To Leave

South Sudan Rebels Urge Oil Shutdown After Seizing State Capital -- Bloomberg Businessweek
South Sudan Rebels Claim Seizing Oil Hub Bentiu -- Voice of America
South Sudan Rebels Seize Bentiu and Order Oil Workers to Evacuate -- IBTimes
South Sudan rebels order oil shutdown, battle over town -- AFP
South Sudan conflict: Pro-Machar forces 'seize' Bentiu -- BBC
South Sudan Rebels Capture Key Oil Town Of Bentiu -- TRNS
South Sudan Rebels Seize Oil Hub Bentiu, Tell Foreign Firms To Go -- Channels
South Sudan rebel chief vows to take key oil fields, capital -- Borglobe
S. Sudan admits losing Unity state’s Bentiu to rebel forces -- Sudan Tribune

Boko Haram Gunmen Abduct 'About 100 Schoolgirls' In Nigeria

Nigeria Unrest: Gunmen Abduct 'About 100 Schoolgirls' -- BBC

Around 100 girls are thought to have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria, officials say.

Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, Borno state, late last night, and ordered the hostel's teenage residents on to lorries.

The attackers are believed to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram, whose militants frequently target schools.

On Monday, bombings blamed on the group killed more than 70 people in the capital, Abuja.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa language, has been waging an armed campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

Read more ....

More News On The Escalating Violence In Nigeria

Nigeria rebels abduct schoolgirls, govt says will protect "African Davos" -- Reuters
Schoolgirls kidnapped by suspected Islamists in Nigeria -- The Guardian
Nigeria rebels abduct schoolgirls, government says will protect 'African Davos' -- Reuters
Over 100 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by gunmen -- Irish Times
Islamists abduct more than 100 girls from Nigeria school -- AFP
Gunmen kidnap over 100 schoolgirls in Nigeria -- Al Jazeera
Suspicion Falls on Boko Haram in Nigeria Bombing -- CBN News
Nigeria pledges massive security for World Economic Forum event -- Reuters
Nigeria guarantees World Economic Forum safety after bomb attack -- Business Day
Nigeria Beefs Up Security After Abuja Attack -- Wall Street Journal
Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods -- Voice of America
A look at the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram -- AP

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 -- News Updates April 15, 2014



Underwater Search Resumes For Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane -- CNN

(CNN) -- The underwater probe being used to look for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was back in the water after its first attempt ended prematurely, the company that owns the vehicle, Phoenix International, told CNN.

The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle was about four hours into its second dive mission at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday (2 a.m. Wednesday in Perth, Australia), a source close to the operation told CNN's Brian Todd.

On Monday, crews sent the probe toward the ocean floor on what was expected to be a 20-hour deployment, only to have it return in less than eight hours after encountering waters beyond its 4,500-meter (14,764-foot) maximum depth.

The probe found no debris during its shortened scanning session.

Read more ....

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 -- News Updates April 15, 2014

Chances of finding MH370 diminish further after underwater search vessel suffers setback -- Daily Mail
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Robot sub back at work after false start -- Christian Science Monitor
Robotic submarine looking for Malaysian jet aborts first mission after six hours -- AP
Submersible’s First Scan for Jet Wreckage Is Cut Short -- New York Times
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 update: Search area too deep for Bluefin-21 submarine -- Salon
Sub Searching for Jet Seen Able to Expand Hunt With Deeper Dives -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Robotic Submarine Comes Up Short in First Deep Dive: Now What? -- NBC
Deep sea challenge for MH370 search -- BBC
Navy has more unmanned search vehicles in its arsenal -- USA Today
MH370: How do underwater sonar subs work? -- Holly Yan and Tom Watkins, CNN
Undersea drone hunt for Malaysian plane may take two months -- News 24
Undersea drone hunt for Malaysian plane may take two months -- Reuters
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Co-pilot's cell phone was on, U.S. official says -- CNN
MH370 Tragedy: US denies MH370 'cover-up' -- New Straits Times
Commander: 'Very Difficult' Conditions Plague Search for MH370 -- NBC
MH370’s Black Boxes Are Dead but the Investigation Is Very Much Alive -- Daily Beast
Bring in the lawyers for Flight 370 families -- Danny Cevallos, CNN
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight: 13 conspiracy theories surrounding the disappearance of MH370 -- Mirror

Report: US-Made TOW Anti-Tank Missiles Now Being Supplied To Syrian Rebels



Rebel Videos Show First U.S.-Made Rockets In Syria -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Online videos show Syrian rebels using what appear to be U.S. anti-tank rockets, weapons experts say, the first significant American-built armaments in the country's civil war.

They would signal a further internationalization of the conflict, with new rockets suspected from Russia and drones from Iran also spotted in the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

None of that equipment, however, is seen as enough to turn the tide of battle in a now broadly stalemated war, with Assad dominant in Syria's central cities and along the Mediterranean coast and the rebels in the interior north and east.

It was not possible to independently verify the authenticity of the videos or the supplier of the BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rockets shown in the videos. Some analysts suggested they might have been provided by another state such as Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, probably with Washington's acquiescence.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That US-Made TOW Anti-Tank Missiles Are Now Being Supplied To Syrian Rebels

Rebel videos, photos show US-made rockets in Syria -- RT
Syria rebels get US-made missiles -- Global Post/AFP
Syria rebels get US-made missiles: Source -- Zee News

WNU Editor: You can see what looks like a TOW anti-tank missile at the 0.36 second mark of the above video.

Pro-Russia Presidential Candidate Is Beaten In Ukraine


Ukraine Radical Pro-Russia Presidential Candidate Is Beaten -- Reuters

(Reuters) - A Ukrainian presidential candidate, known for his radical pro-Russia views, was beaten early on Tuesday by a crowd that took exception to comments he made in a television interview.

Oleh Tsarev, who has backed Ukraine's membership of the Moscow-led customs union rather than European integration, was attacked after giving an interview to Ukraine's ICTV channel in which his critics said he appeared to back an intervention by Russian troops in Ukraine's rebellious eastern regions.

He later denied saying this and said he was categorically against Russian forces being sent into Ukraine.

Read more ....

Update: Ukraine presidential candidates attacked in Kiev -- RT

My Comment: The polarization of Ukraine is intensifying.

Ukriane Crisis: A Round-Up Of The Key Eastern Ukrainain Cities Affected By The Ongoing Crisis


Ukraine Crisis: What Is Happening Where? -- BBC

With pro-Russia forces occupying buildings in cities across eastern Ukraine, and the central government threatening to retake control by force, tension is building in the region. This is a round-up of the key cities affected.

Sloviansk

Tensions are at their highest in Sloviansk, in Donetsk region, where armed men seized a police station and other government buildings on 12 April and have since declared themselves to be part of a new "Donetsk People's Republic". Pro-Russian militia completely surrounded the town with checkpoints and there have been fatal clashes. It is, like many cities in the east, a mainly industrial town, and has a population of around 115,000. It is 100km (60 miles) from Donetsk and just 15km (9 miles) from Kramatorsk, which has also seen buildings seized by armed men of military-style appearance and organisation.

Read more ....

My Comment: I have spent the past few hours talking with family and friends that I know in Ukraine, as well as watching and reading Ukrainian and Russian social media. Suffice it to say that it has been a chaotic day in much of eastern Ukraine today. From the information that I am getting .... it looks like the Ukraine military targeted and seized the sites that were easy to retake .... sustaining casualties but not as high as some were expecting. The true test will happen when these Ukrainian soldiers start to go into the the major cities and do battle with barricaded pro-Russian militants .... if that happens .... expect the bloodshed numbers to go sky-high.

Russia Reacts To Today's Ukrainian Military Operations



Russia Warns Ukraine Against Use of Force -- Voice of America

BEIJING — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned Kyiv that if it uses force against pro-Russian protesters in Ukraine, Moscow will pull out of a multilateral conference on the issue scheduled for later this week.

The warning from Russia's foreign minister came Tuesday during a short visit to Beijing, where he met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and China's President Xi Jinping.

Lavrov said "You can't send in tanks and at the same time hold talks. The use of force sabotages the opportunity for the four-party negotiations to be held in Geneva," he added.

Read more ....

More News On Russian Reaction To Today's Ukrainian Military Operations

Russia says Ukraine close to civil war as Kiev begins offensive -- Reuters
Ukraine on Verge of Civil War – Russia’s Medvedev -- RIA Novosti
Ukraine 'on the brink of civil war': Russian PM -- AFP
‘A civil war could break out’: Russia threatens reprisal as Ukraine launches attacks on insurgents -- National Post/Bloomberg
Russia Warns Ukraine Against Use of Force -- Voice of America
Lavrov Slams ‘Unacceptable’ Use of Force in Southeastern Ukraine -- RIA Novosti
Russia tests Obama's ability to stop its advances -- AP

Ukraine Launches Military Operations Against Pro-Russian Militants -- News Updates April 15, 2014



'Up To 11 Killed' As Soldiers Loyal To Kiev Seize Eastern Ukrainian Airport From Pro-Russian Separatist As 'Anti-Terror Operation' Begins -- Daily Mail

* Ukrainian troops and armoured vehicles seen about 30 miles from flashpoint city of Slaviansk
* Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev says Ukraine is 'on the brink of civil war'
* U.S. President 'expressed grave concern' about Russian government support for armed separatist movement
* But Putin tells Obama that reports of Russian interference in region were 'based on unreliable information'
* British Foreign Secretary William Hague warns Russia it faces international isolation over the fresh crisis
* Two pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians are attacked by pro-West activists in Kiev, with one left 'brutally beaten'

Ukrainian airborne troops have retaken an airport in the country's rebellious east, in the first sign that a promised 'anti-terror operation' had begun against pro-Russian separatists.

Heavy gunfire was heard at Kramatorsk airport, as Ukraine's interim president announced that his forces had retaken the site from militants who been seizing control of cities since last week.

Local media reported between four to 11 deaths in the attack, but there was no immediate confirmation of any casualties.

Read more ....

Flashpoints: This locator map shows the various cities in eastern and southern Ukraine where pro-Russian activists have seized government buildings, as well as indicating the levels of Russian troops nearby according to the claims of UK and U.S. intelligence. Daily Mail

More News On The Crisis In Ukriane

Kiev military op in eastern Ukraine LIVE UPDATES -- RT
Ukraine crisis: live -- The Telegraph
Ukraine crisis -- Voice of America

Ukraine says Donetsk 'anti-terror operation' under way -- BBC
Ukraine’s Interim Leader Announces Start of Operation Against Protesters in Donetsk Region -- RIA Novosti
Kiev launches military operation in eastern Ukraine -- RT
Ukraine leader says anti-terror operation under way in Donetsk region -- CNN
Turchynov announces start of ‘anti-terror operation’ in eastern Ukraine -- Euronews
Ukrainian troops have begun 'anti-terrorist operation', Kiev says -- The Guardian
Ukraine deploys troops against separatists -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine Moves Against Separatists as Medvedev Evokes Specter of Civil War -- Bloomberg Businesweek
Ukraine Military Operation Begins In East -- Wall Street Journal
Ukraine says it is launching counteroffensive; troops said to surround Slovyansk -- Washington Post
Those who don’t lay arms, will be destroyed - Ukrainian military op commander -- RT
4 Protesters Killed in Army Attack on Airfield in Eastern Ukraine -- RIA Novosti
Report: 2 people wounded in gunbattle between Ukrainian troops, pro-Russian protesters -- AP
Army Attacks Protesters in Eastern Ukraine, First Wounded Reported -- RIA Novosti
Ukraine troops seize airfield from pro-Russian forces -- USA Today
Ukraine: Military recaptures eastern airport -- AP
Kiev military take positions in eastern Ukraine as operation starts (PHOTO, VIDEO) -- RT

World News Briefs -- April 15, 2014



Ukraine Says It Has Begun Military Operation in East -- New York Times

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — After days of failing to enforce its own ultimatums, the Ukrainian government on Tuesday began what the president called a military operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the east of the country.

The first indication that the operation represented more than just words this time was a modest Ukrainian military checkpoint established on a highway north of the town of Slovyansk, which has been controlled by militants since Saturday.

Witnesses said a dozen armored personnel carriers parked on the highway flew Ukrainian flags about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, north of the town. There were no credible reports of confrontations with the well-armed and apparently Russian-backed forces in the town.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Rebel videos show first U.S.-made rockets in Syria.

Saudi Arabia: reported poison gas use by Syria is challenge to world.

Watchdog: Syria falling behind on chemical weapons removal.

Rouhani says Iran sanctions will unravel in months.

Iran complains to UN over US ban on envoy Aboutalebi.

Iraq closes Abu Ghraib prison amid security concerns.

FM: Israel close to forging new ties across Arab world.

Lebanese al-Manar TV journalists killed in Syria. Three Lebanese journalists for Al-Manar TV killed in Syria.

Turkey accuses Twitter of 'tax evasion'.

ASIA

Missing flight MH370: Robotic sub first mission cut short. Undersea drone hunt for Malaysian plane may take two months.

Afghanistan says U.S. air strike kills three civilians.

U.S. fears Afghan services may be cut as corruption sharply reduces customs taxes.

India’s Muslims worried about controversial Hindu leader as national elections begin.

China gold demand to rise, World Gold Council says.

EPA chief's Taiwan trip infuriates Beijing.

AFRICA

Nigeria unrest: 'Attackers abduct 200 schoolgirls'.

Nigeria President Jonathan vows to end terrorism, says adviser.

South Sudan conflict: Pro-Machar forces 'seize' Bentiu.

MSF: Fighting displaces 7,000 in north CAR. Fighting erupts in Central African Republic town.

Ebola outbreak: At least 100 die in West Africa. WHO: Ebola death toll tops 120.

Sudan bans meetings of political parties.

Jordan ambassador to Libya abducted.

Prosecutors end Pistorius questioning citing intent to kill.

EUROPE

Russia says Ukraine close to civil war as Kiev begins offensive. Ukraine 'on the brink of civil war': Russian PM.

Ukraine presidential candidates attacked in Kiev.

Ukraine crisis could hit Russian GDP.

In Ukraine, NATO sticks to a war of words against Russia.

EU agrees to work more closely with NATO.

Gazprom assures Europe on gas supplies reliability.

Berlusconi ordered to do community service for tax conviction.

AMERICAS

Ukraine crisis: Obama urges Putin to rein in separatists.

Deadly Chile wildfires rage for fourth day.

Mexico pledges own anti-money laundering list.

Nicaragua on maximum alert after series of quakes.

Bolivia's Morales files Hague documents in sea access claim against Chile.

Panama Presidential candidates tied ahead of May vote.

One year later: Boston is still strong — and evil in a white hat is sniveling in solitary. Boston bombing anniversary draws solemn tributes.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

More Boston bomber types lurk, officials warn.

Jury selected for U.S. trial of one-eyed, handless Islamic cleric.

CIA using US air force to carry out drone strikes in Pakistan.

Accusation of FBI spying stalls Guantanamo 9/11 hearing. Defense alleges FBI spying in 9/11 hearing at Guantanamo.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

WTO: Global trade to gain speed in 2014 and 2015.

Coca-Cola sales beat estimates as China volumes soar.

Yellen: Mega-banks might need to hold more capital.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- April 15, 2014



Ukraine Military Operation Begins In East -- Wall Street Journal

Armored Units Take up Positions Around Region at Heart of Unrest

Armored Ukrainian units began moving into the county's restive east Tuesday as part of a military operation to take back control of cities seized by pro-Russian militants.

Soldiers riding aboard armored personnel carriers took up positions around the region at the heart of the unrest, setting up checkpoints along key roads, with transport helicopters parked in fields nearby. In the late afternoon, a Ukrainian official said shots were fired at a military airfield near the city of Kramatorsk, but no other clashes had been reported.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs

Pentagon: Russian fighter jet repeatedly flew over US destroyer in Black Sea -- RT

In Ukraine, NATO sticks to a war of words against Russia -- Reuters

Red tape in U.S. ties up critical gear for Ukraine -- Washington Times

Russia Tests-Fires Yars Ballistic Missile -- RIA Novosti

Russian Air Force to Receive 16 New MiG Fighters -- RIA Novsoti

Russian Navy to Begin Sea Trials of 2 New Nuclear Subs in Summer -- RIA Novosti

China stresses need for stability at first meeting of new security council -- Euronews

China's President Xi urges greater military use of space -- Reuters

China Mixing Military Modernization, 'Tailored Coercion' -- Defense News

Malaysia Potentially Interested In Russian Air Defense Systems -- RIA Novosti

Official: India Will Need To Hike Defense Spending by 30% To Narrow Gap With China -- Defense News

N. Korea's Drones Prompt Seoul To Seek Radars -- Defense News

For 1st time, France tackles military sex assaults -- UT San Diego

Military Chiefs Warn Scotland Over Evicting Nuclear Weapons -- New York Times/Reuters

Rebel videos show first U.S.-made rockets in Syria -- Reuters

Crisis response force adds firepower to US base in Africa -- Stars and Stripes

New US Frigate Transfer Bill Advances -- Defense News

Littoral Combat Ship: What Does the Future Hold? -- Defense Tech

Navy Set to Pick Presidential Helicopter Contractor -- DoD Buzz

CIA using US air force to carry out drone strikes in Pakistan. -- RT

SIPRI: Global Military Spending Drops, Led By US -- Defense News

Here’s how the world is funding its armies -- Global Post

A three-chart summary of global military spending in 2013 -- Washington Post

The U.S. Cut Military Spending in 2013, While These Two Global Powers Did the Opposite -- The Blaze

Sen. Schumer talks with Pentagon officials about parade for Iraq, Afghanistan war vets -- New York Daily News

Manning's conviction, 35-year sentence upheld -- AP

Face of Defense: Marine Wife writes of military lifestyle -- Progress-Index

Could Another Debt-Level Spike Cause More Defense Cuts? -- John Bennett, Defense News

A dangerous new era: US must take lead in cybersecurity -- Jarno Limnéll, Christian Science Monitor

In New Officers’ Careers, Peace Is No Dividend -- Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker, New York Times

Fighter Jets Fly Over Kramatorsk As Ukrainian Troops Storm The City's Airfield (Video)



Military Storm Airfield, Town In Eastern Ukraine, Wounded Reported - Protesters -- RT

Ukrainian troops have seized an airfield in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, said anti-government protesters. Four people were killed and two injured, activists added. At the same time Slavyansk is being raided by the Ukrainian military.

Kramatorsk

Ukrainian troops approached the military airfield in armored personnel carriers between the eastern cities of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, the people’s militia located at the airfield told RIA Novosti on the phone.

“They started negotiating with the people’s militia, which is in control of the airfield. The shooting started unexpectedly. There are injured among the people’s militia, and there may be deaths,” they said.

Other members of the militia have blocked the entrance to Kramatorsk and are ready to defend the city, the activists added.

The activists who controlled the base said they were forced to retreat.

Read more ....

My Comment: The number of YouTube videos being posted right now on what is happening in eastern Ukraine is unbelievable. Russian and Ukraine social media is everywhere right now on in covering this crisis.

Ukraine Launches Military Operations Against Pro-Moscow Separatists. Russia Says Ukraine Close To Civil War

In this photo taken on Monday, April 14, 2014, Ukrainian soldiers stand on military vehicles with Ukrainian national flags in a field about 70 kilometers from the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, where the Ukrainian regional administration building was seized by pro-Russian activists. Russian Reporter magazine, Maxim Dondyuk

Russia Says Ukraine Close To Civil War As Kiev Begins Offensive -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Russia declared Ukraine on the brink of civil war on Tuesday as Kiev said an "anti-terrorist operation" against pro-Moscow separatists was under way, with troops and armored personnel carriers seen near a flashpoint eastern town.

Twenty-four hours after an Ukrainian ultimatum expired for the rebels to lay down their arms, witnesses however saw no signs yet that Kiev forces were about to storm state buildings in the Russian-speaking east that armed militants have occupied.

Interim President Oleksander Turchinov insisted the operation had started in the eastern Donetsk region, although it would happen in stages and "in a considered way".

Read more ....

More News On Ukraine Launching Military Operations Against Pro-Moscow Separatists

Ukraine says Donetsk 'anti-terror operation' under way -- BBC
Ukraine’s Interim Leader Announces Start of Operation Against Protesters in Donetsk Region -- RIA Novosti
Kiev launches military operation in eastern Ukraine -- RT
Ukraine leader says anti-terror operation under way in Donetsk region -- CNN
Turchynov announces start of ‘anti-terror operation’ in eastern Ukraine -- Euronews
Ukrainian troops have begun 'anti-terrorist operation', Kiev says -- The Guardian
Report: 2 people wounded in gunbattle between Ukrainian troops, pro-Russian protesters -- AP
Army Attacks Protesters in Eastern Ukraine, First Wounded Reported -- RIA Novosti
Ukraine on Verge of Civil War – Russia’s Medvedev -- RIA Novosti
‘A civil war could break out’: Russia threatens reprisal as Ukraine launches attacks on insurgents -- National Post/Bloomberg

My Comment: Russian news is reporting the movement of tanks and armored personnel carriers into eastern Ukraine. Fighting and casualties have already been reported. The Ukraine crisis is now getting hot. I will be updating this story in the next few hours with a full news roundup and analysis .... I am busy on the phone and on Skype talking to people that I know who live there.

China Wants To Militarize Space

China's President Xi Jinping attends a news conference at Los Pinos Presidential Palace in Mexico City June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido 

China's President Xi Urges Greater Military Use Of Space -- Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the air force to adopt an integrated air and space defence capability, in what state media on Tuesday called a response to the increasing military use of space by the United States and others.

While Beijing insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, a Pentagon report last year highlighted China's increasing space capabilities and said Beijing was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.

Fears of a space arms race with the United States and other powers mounted after China blew up one of its own weather satellites with a ground-based missile in January 2007.

Read more ....

My Comment: Wow .... they are not even hiding their intentions anymore.

Is Soviet Propaganda Now Cool?


Obama's Press Secretary Decorates Home With Soviet Propaganda -- Daily Caller

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and his family are featured in a worshipful profile in this month's Washingtonian magazine.

It's the sort of adoring journalistic exercise reserved for only the most handsome of the power elite. In it you can find out details about the Carney dog (a cousin to presidential pooch Sonny!), and how much the press secretary's tie costs ($135).

But keen observers may notice the kitchen decor in the photo: Soviet propaganda posters. They really are the perfect pop of color whether you are the dour and sincere Nikita Khrushchev or the cheeky press-wrangler for a president who is constantly accused of being a socialist himself. --Michael Brendan Dougherty

Read more ....

My Comment: I try to stay away from these stories .... but some of my old friends know that I use to collect such posters and wanted my feedback. So when one of my very liberal friends who so happens to be Jewish (and a devoted Obama supporter) wanted my reaction .... and if I would be willing to sell a poster or two .... I could not resist. I grew up in the Soviet Union .... and like everyone else who grew up under such a system we all know what it was .... so I told my liberal Jewish friend that these posters impact me the same way that it would impact him if Jay Carney had Nazi posters on his wall instead of Soviet ones.

He got the message. Jay Carney .... and I would venture that much of the Washington establishment .... does not.

The Pentagon Is Preparing For Multiple Wars In Africa

America Is At War In Africa -- Nick Turse, Real Clear World/Tom Dispatch

What the military will say to a reporter and what is said behind closed doors are two very different things -- especially when it comes to the U.S. military in Africa. For years, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has maintained a veil of secrecy about much of the command's activities and mission locations, consistently downplaying the size, scale, and scope of its efforts. At a recent Pentagon press conference, AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez adhered to the typical mantra, assuring the assembled reporters that the United States "has little forward presence" on that continent. Just days earlier, however, the men building the Pentagon's presence there were telling a very different story -- but they weren't speaking with the media. They were speaking to representatives of some of the biggest military engineering firms on the planet. They were planning for the future and the talk was of war.

Read more ....

My Comment: The African wars and conflicts where there is a U.S. military/CIA footprint is incredibly long. Mali, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Congo, Egypt .... just to name a few. And this footprint is only getting bigger .... as Nick Turse in the above post discovered when he followed the money.

Is The U.S. Retreating From It's Global Duties?


America Stands Accused Of Retreat From Its Global Duties. Nonsense -- Michael Cohen, The Guardian

Naysayers allege that American influence is waning and cite Barack Obama's inaction on Syria and Ukraine as proof that its foreign policy has been reduced to watching the 'bad guys' do what they like.

That is a complete fantasy.

A new word, it seems, has come to the fore to describe US foreign policy in the age of Obama: retreat.

The signs of alleged American fecklessness are everywhere: withdrawal from Afghanistan, which followed the ignominious departure from Iraq; negotiations with the mullahs in Iran rather than bombs over Tehran; an aimless and hollow pivot to Asia that is failing to deter a rising China; a newly assertive Russia seizing territory without consequence; cuts in defence spending while al-Qaida franchises pop up across the Middle East and perhaps the worst of all sins – failure to stop the bloodletting in Syria. It's a policy that Niall Ferguson calls "one of the great fiascos of post-World War Two American foreign policy". (Mental note: send Niall Ferguson a book about the Vietnam War.)

Read more ....

My Comment: The U.S. is certainly not retreating from it's global duties .... it is instead completely turning it upside down. Rapprochement with Iran without telling our two closest allies in the Middle East (Israel and Saudi Arabia) on what we were doing ... until they discovered it themselves. Starting a peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians that was more focused on the process instead of the details .... and no surprise .... that has now collapsed. Alienated the interim government in Egypt while embracing the old Muslim Brotherhood government. Embracing the new interim government in Ukraine .... and alienating those who ran the country before they were thrown out. Russian reset is now completely dead and buried. Supported the creation of South Sudan .... and now avoid it after it has imploded into civil war. Support the overthrow of Libyan strongman Gaddafi .... and now avoid the mess that is Libya (especially after Benghazi).  Announcing an Asian pivot .... but not providing the means to make it a reality. As China ascends and threatens it's neighbors .... the response has been consistently mute .... until Hagel's trip to the region last week .... a trip that was more done to placate U.S. allies who were wondering why the U.S. went AWOL. Announcing red lines .... and then retreating from them. And while there has been no major wars for U.S. troops to become engaged in .... the U.S. is now involved in multiple wars and conflicts throughout the world albeit with a smaller footprint .... whether through the CIA or Special ops.

So yes .... the U.S. has certainly been active on the international scene .... and suffice it to say that I now see the world becoming a more dangerous place than what it was when President Obama took power in 2009 .... and I do not see this trend changing for the remainder of his term. And while I do know that foreign policy is an incredibly difficult portfolio to run.... I do remember what President Obama said and promised when he was running for the Presidency in 2008 .... and in this context he has certainly fallen short.

So Much For A 'Moral' U.S. Foreign Policy



The Moral Depravity Of Our Syria Policy -- Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to talk primarily about Ukraine. At the end of the interview, host George Stephanopoulos got a chance to ask her about Syria. This was the exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, some disturbing video coming out of Syria this week — and I think we’re going to show it — right now reports of another poison gas attack, the first since August. The rebels have put out the video. Syrian state television has claimed that actually the rebels are behind the gas attack, not the government. Do we know who is behind this?

POWER: We are trying to run this down. So far, it’s unsubstantiated. But we’ve shown, I think in the past, that we will do everything in our power to establish what has happened and then consider possible steps in response.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if the government did this after the president draws the red line, after they promised to turn over chemical weapons, will we have any option but to strike militarily?

POWER: Well, I’m not going to get ahead of the president, but the president has made very clear how alarming he finds chemical weapons use, how outrageous he found it, that’s why he put the credible threat of military force on the table, that’s why we’ve been able to destroy and remove more than half of Syria’s chemical weapons up to this point. But certainly the point of what we’ve done so far is to prevent further use. We weren’t just removing for removing sake, it was to avoid use. So we will have to look at our policy on this.

Her disingenuousness is remarkable, even in this administration.

Read more ....

My Comment: The problem that I have with the Obama administration's foreign policy initiatives is that there are times when I do wonder if they appreciate what may be the consequences of what they are doing. Case in point .... Libya. U.S. military forces assisted in the overthrow of the dictator, but while Gaddafi may now be gone .... the mess that is now Libya is impacting the entire region, and no-one (the White House included) are not presenting any good options to solve it. So I do understand why Samantha Power may be reluctant to now get involved in Syria .... there is no end game for the U.S. to pursue if they start to get involved directly.

Her old speech at TED (see above video) is interesting to watch because when compared to today .... she has certainly changed.