Sunday, February 25, 2018

Chinese Communist Party To Scrap Presidential Term Limits Thereby Clearing The Way For Xi Jinping To Rule Indefinitely

BBC: China proposes to let Xi Jinping extend presidency beyond 2023

China's governing Communist Party has proposed removing a clause in the constitution which limits presidencies to two five-year terms.

The move would allow the current President Xi Jinping to remain as leader after he is due to step down.

There had been widespread speculation that Mr Xi would seek to extend his presidency beyond 2023.

Party congress last year saw him cement his status as the most powerful leader since the late Mao Zedong.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: All that I can say is that there are a lot of people in China who are not happy with this move, and see this as a way to extend his rule from 2020 to 2035.

More News On Reports That The Chinese Communist Party Is Scraping Presidential Term Limits Thereby Clearing The Way For Xi Jinping To Rule Indefinitely

China paves way for Xi Jinping to extend rule beyond 2 terms -- AP
China sets stage for Xi to stay in office indefinitely -- Reuters
Xi Jinping to cement his power with plan to scrap two-term limit -- The Guardian
Xi poised to extend power as China set to lift term limits -- AFP
China's Xi Follows Putin in Laying Ground to Rule for Decades -- Bloomberg
China Proposes Dropping Term Limits for President Xi -- VOA
China's Communist Party mulls end to two-term limit for president -- DW
China's Communist Party sets stage for Xi to remain in power -- UPI
China to scrap presidential term limits, clearing way for Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely -- ABC News Online
China is moving quickly to allow Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely -- Quartz
Why China's proposal was long expected -- BBC

Could President Trump Get a Nobel Peace Prize If He Solves The North Korean Nuclear Crisis Peacefully?

Irvin Studdin, South China Morning Post: It’s no joke: the North Korean nuclear crisis could get Trump the Nobel Peace Prize

The US president’s unpredictability has pushed the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war, but it’s that same caprice that could save us all from Armageddon.

The presidency of Donald Trump has made the dividing line between nuclear war and a Nobel Peace Prize increasingly thin. The very same extreme caprice and disregard for precedent that have amplified the military pressure and posturing on the Korean peninsula over the past year can quickly transform the logic of the endgame to one of spectacular peace and reconciliation.

To be clear, if the thinking in Washington today no longer excludes the idea of pre-emptive and, by likely implication, nuclear war with North Korea, then the prospect of near-term escalation in the domestic crisis surrounding the White House could soon yield to a “consolidation action” – in military form – by Trump that launches Asia and the world into a massive war.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Not going to happen. Even if President Trump solves the North Korean crisis peacefully .... and a few other conflicts around the world .... tThe Nobel committee in Oslo is so far to the left and completely opposite to everything that President Trump believes in .... that they would prefer to commit seppuku than bestowing him the Nobel Peace Prize.

What Are The Consequences Of A 'Bloody Nose' Attack On North Korea

Michael O'Hanlon and James Kirchick, The Hill: 'Bloody nose' attack in Korea would have lasting consequences

Is President Trump really considering a preventive military action of some kind after the Olympic season is over in Korea?

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has just denied that possibility, telling a bipartisan group of senators last week that the administration has no plans to carry out a so-called "bloody nose" attack against North Korea to constrain its nuclear weapons or long-range missile programs.

But the idea has been circulating too long to be put to rest quite that easily, and President Trump has just kept it alive at the CPAC conference on Friday in Washington by stating that if sanctions against North Korea fail, we may have to consider “Phase 2.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Tensions on the Korean peninsula are now so high right now that any attack .... from any side .... will probably quickly precipitate into a shooting war. But I do believe in the reports that there is no desire from within the White House to actually go through with such an attack .... at least for now.

South Korea: North Korea Willing To Enter Into Talks With The U.S.

The Guardian: North Korea willing to start direct talks with US, says South Korea

Announcement comes as controversial North Korean general mobbed on visit to Winter Olympics.

North Korea is willing to start direct talks with the US, with the move coming as a high-level delegation from Pyongyang, headed by a controversial general, arrived for the Winter Olympics closing ceremony.

Pyongyang also said the relationship between the two Koreas and US-North Korean ties should advance in tandem, according to South Korea’s presidential Blue House. The announcement on Sunday comes after president Moon Jae-in met the head of the North Korean delegation, Kim Yong-chol, vice-chairman of the ruling Workers’ party’s central committee.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The South Koreans are saying that the North wants to enter into talks, but the North Koreans are saying something else .... N. Korea slams latest US sanctions as 'act of war' (AFP). What's my take. The South Korean administration of Moon Jae-in has been pushing for these talks since his election win last year .... but this approach runs counter to the U.S. and Japanese policy of forcing the North Koreans to make the initial concession that they will disband their nuclear and missile programs before these talks can even begin. The fact that the North Koreans have publicly stated that they will not even put this on the table .... makes IMHO any talks pointless. So why the push from the South Koreans. I think it is because South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that the process of just having these talks will be more than enough to provide the necessary momentum that will lead to discussions on North Korea's nuclear arsenal. I personally think this approach is a mistake. The North Korean government is a Stalinist structured regime, and its leadership has never wavered from their primary goal of unifying the peninsula under their rule .... and by force if necessary. I have always had the position that it is only when this commitment to regime change is renounced by the North Koreans via through a peace treaty to end the war (both countries are still at a state of war).... even before talks can begin on their nuclear arsenal .... that I can see such talks bearing fruit. But to have these talks now .... it will fracture the current policy of isolating North Korea. and it will give the excuse to the Chinese and the Russians that they should alleviate the timeline for implementing sanctions on the North Koreans as agreed to at the UN a few months ago.

More News On South Korean Reports That North Korea Is Willing To Enter Into Talks With The U.S.

North Korea says open to talks with United States: South Korea's presidential office -- Reuters
North Korea willing to hold talks with US, says South Korea -- BBC
North Korean envoy, in South, opens door to US talks -- AP
Political end to Olympics: NKorea offers talks with US -- AP
Chief N. Korean delegate says N. Korea willing to hold talks with U.S. -- Yonhap
North Korea open to talks with United States, South Korea says -- ABC News Online
North Korea condemns sanctions, but seen open to talks with U.S. -- Reuters
North Korean Envoy Says Country Is Willing to Open Talks With the U.S. -- Time
North Korea slams US for sanctions & ‘clouds of war’ but says it is open for talks -- RT
North Korea willing to hold talks with US, ex-spy chief says -- FOX News

Turkey Claims U.N. Syrian Ceasefire Resolution Does Not Apply To Them And Their Military Offensive In Afrin

Last month Turkey launched a military operation against a Kurdish militia it deems a terror organisation in the western enclave of Afrin in northern Syria

Hurriyet Daily News: Turkey welcomes UN call for Syria truce, says Afrin operation will continue

Turkey welcomed on Feb. 25 a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding a 30-day truce across Syria to allow aid access and medical evacuation, while adding that the cease-fire would not affect the ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin district.

“We welcome the resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council today in response to the worsening humanitarian situation all across Syria, in particular in Eastern Ghouta, that demands the cessation of hostilities without delay,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Why am I not surprised that Turkey is making this claim.

More News On Turkey Claiming that Yesterday's U.N. Syrian Ceasefire Resolution Does Not Apply To Them

Turkey says UN Syria ceasefire won't affect Afrin offensive -- AFP
Turkey says U.N. resolution on Syria ceasefire won't impact Afrin offensive -- Reuters
UN cease-fire in Syria not to affect Turkey's Afrin op. -- Anadolu Agency
UNSC Resolution on Syria Doesn't Apply to Turkish Operation in Afrin - Ankara -- Sputnik

Syrian General Responsible For The Current Fighting Near Damascus Is Surrounded By Russian Soldiers (Video)

It is not known if the video was taken before the eastern Ghouta air strikes, or after. (Screen grab)

Al Arabiya: VIDEO: Syrian army brigadier speaks to troops flanked by Russian soldiers

A video surfaced showing Brigadier Suheil al-Hassan, known as the Tiger, speaking to Syrian regime troops in Damascus while being guarded by Russian soldiers.

The Russian soldiers were standing around al-Hassan dressed in military uniforms, carrying firearms with their hands on the trigger, appearing on high alert.

Al-Hassan was also surrounded by members of the Syrian army who were also on guard.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I for one would not be surprised if the Syrian political and military leadership have a contingent of Russian bodyguards always protecting them.

The U.N.'s Syrian Ceasefire Is Being Ignored As The Bombings Continue

Reuters: Iran says Damascus suburbs assault to continue after U.N. ceasefire call

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran said pro-Damascus forces would press ahead with attacks on an insurgent enclave near the Syrian capital, as ground fighting raged on there after a U.N. resolution demanding a 30-day truce across the country.

Rebels said they clashed with pro-government forces on Sunday, as rescuers and residents said warplanes struck some towns in the eastern Ghouta pocket.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes and artillery killed nine people and injured 31 in the eastern suburbs. The UK-based monitoring group said Sunday’s bombing was less intense than attacks over the past week.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.

Iranian General Mohammad Baqeri, whose government backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Tehran and Damascus would respect the U.N. resolution.

But the Iranian military chief of staff also said the truce did not cover parts of the Damascus suburbs “held by the terrorists”, the Tasnim news agency said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: According to Russian President Putin .... the Kremlin will respect the ceasefire BUT will continue to launch anti-terror operations .... Putin to Macron, Merkel: Syrian Truce Doesn't Apply to Anti-Terror Ops (Sputnik). Translation .... the bombings will not stop.

Update: This is going to go nowhere .... Germany, France urge Russia to pressure Syria government on eastern Ghouta (Reuters).

More News On The U.N.'s Syrian Ceasefire Being Ignored As The Bombings Continue

Syria war: Air strikes resume hours after UN approves ceasefire -- BBC News
Syrian regime bombs eastern Ghouta despite humanitarian truce: Monitor -- DW
Strikes, clashes hit Syria's Ghouta despite ceasefire call -- AFP
Syrian forces begin new offensive in Eastern Ghouta -- Al Jazeera
Heavy clashes on edges of Syria's Ghouta despite ceasefire: Monitor -- Arab News/AFP
Airstrikes on Syria's Ghouta enclave continue despite UN ceasefire deal -- The Telegraph
Airstrikes pound Eastern Ghouta after ceasefire, doctor says -- CNN
Syrian forces begin new offensive in Eastern Ghouta -- Aljazeera

The U.S. Navy Wants The Colombia-Class Submarine To Be Manufactured And Deployed Earlier Than Planned

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama, one of the boats the Navy plans to replace with the Columbia-class. USN

Warrior Maven: Navy Accelerates New Nuclear Armed Columbia-Class Submarine

The Navy 2019 budget request increases funding for the service's new nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine by $2 billion over this year's amount in what appears to be a clear effort to further accelerate technology development and early production. The request, which marks a substantial move on the part of the Navy and DoD, asks for $3.7 billion in 2019, up from $1.9 billion in 2018. The new budget effort is quite significant, given that there has been a chorus of concern in recent years that there would not be enough money to fund development of the new submarines, without devastating the Navy shipbuilding budget.

The Columbia-class plus-up is a key element of a cross-the-board Navy budget increase; overall, the Navy 2019 request jumps $14 billion over this year, climbing to to $194 billion.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These new subs are not cheap .... The U.S. Navy New Missile Sub Will Now Cost $7.2 Billion (November 12, 2017).

Senior Royal Navy Commander Admits To Crashing £1bn Nuclear Submarine During Gibraltar Training Exercise Because He 'Took The Eye Of The Ball'

Commander Justin Codd, 45, pleaded guilty to causing damage to submarine HMS Ambush (above, Commander Codd pictured in 2003)

Daily Mail: I saw no ship! How Royal Navy commander crashed a £1.1billion submarine when he ‘took his eye off the ball'

Commander Justin Codd, 45, pleaded guilty to damaging nuclear submarine
He was sentenced to forfeiting a year of seniority at Portsmouth Naval Base
In 2016 he accidentally crashed the vessel while he was busy teaching students

A Royal Navy officer in charge of teaching future commanders how to operate submarines worth £1.1billion took his eye off the ball and caused a crash costing £2.1million.

Commander Justin Codd, 45, pleaded guilty to causing damage to submarine HMS Ambush.

He was sentenced to forfeiting a year of seniority at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The Astute-class machine was taken out of service for three months to undergo repairs costing £2.1million.

Read more ....

More News On A Senior Royal Navy Commander Admitting To Crashing A £1bn Nuclear Submarine During Gibraltar Training Exercise Because He 'Took The Eye Of The Ball'

Nuclear submarine commander 'took eye off ball' before collision -- The Guardian
Senior Royal Navy commander pleads guilty to crashing £1bn nuclear submarine on Gibraltar training exercise -- The Telegraph
Submarine commander who 'took eye off the ball' sentenced over vessel collision -- Belfast Telegraph
Royal Navy officer 'took his eye off the periscope' after he put £2.1m dent in submarine -- International Business Times
Nuclear submarine commander who 'took eye off the ball' sentenced over collision -- RT

Every Passenger Who Boards Air Force One Is Expected To Pay For Food — Even If They Don't Eat

The best meals in the sky
The elaborate meals served aboard Air Force One are prepared inside a special kitchen at Joint Base Andrews. Each entree is vacuum sealed and frozen on the ground; the cooking process is completed on stoves, ovens and microwaves in the plane’s galley kitchen.
The president can order just about any meal he’d like. The only catch: Because there’s no fryer on the plane, the fries served up by Air Force One tend to be a bit soggy. Credit: Pete Souza/The White House

Business Insider: After a surprise bill, a former Trump administration official discovered every passenger who boards Air Force One is expected to pay for food — even if they don't eat

* Political officials who fly on Air Force One have to pay for their own food — even if they don't eat anything.
* Former Trump administration official Omarosa Manigault recently revealed this fact on an episode of "Celebrity Big Brother."
* Manigault once received a $23 bill after a flight.

"There's no free ride in the government."

So says former Trump administration official Omarosa Manigault. On an episode of "Celebrity Big Brother," Manigault revealed what it was like to fly Air Force One.

"You pay for the food," she told co-stars Ross Mathews, Marissa Jaret Winokur, and James Maslow on Wednesday's episode of the CBS show.

Manigault went on: "I got a bill and it was, like, $23 dollars and I was like, 'I didn't even eat anything.' So I called the military aide and was like, 'Why am I getting a bill?' and he's like, 'Well, if you even consume the snacks, you get a flat fee.'"

Read more ....

Update: Omarosa tells Big Brother housemates she was given a BILL for $23 the first time she flew on Air Force One - while rival Ross Matthews says everything that comes out of her mouth is 'fake news' (Daily Mail)

WNU Editor: If I should ever find myself on Air Force One ....I am going to treat the kitchen as a buffet. :)

Tweets For Today

The U.S. Navy Has A Plan To Make Sea Mines Nearly Obsolete

Kris Osborn, National Interest: The Navy Has a Plan That Could Make Sea Mines Nearly Obsolete

The US Navy plans to deploy fast, high-tech surface drones equipped with advanced wireless technology able to find, attack and ultimately destroy underwater enemy mines, all while operating at safe distance from a larger manned surface host ship such as a Littoral Combat Ship, service officials said.

Naval Sea Systems Command is currently working with industry to develop, assess and analyze mine-neutralization technologies for its emerging Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) - a multi-mission surface drone countermine platform slated to be operational by 2019. Capt. Jon Rucker, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems, PEO LCS, told reporters recently at the Surface Navy Association Symposium.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Faster please.

Picture Of The Day

People sit a medical point in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Bombs fall on Syria's Ghouta (Reuters).

Air Force Chief of Staff Predicts That We’ll Be Fighting From Space In A Matter Of Years

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein speaks at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 23, 2018. Credit: U.S. Air Force

Space News: Air Force Chief Goldfein: ‘We’ll be fighting from space in a matter of years’

Goldfein: To prepare to fight from space, the Air Force will have to invest in new technology but also in the training of leaders.

ORLANDO, FLA. — Gen. David Goldfein’s speech on Friday represented the strongest rhetoric yet on space warfare as an area that deserves special attention from the U.S. Air Force.

Goldfein, the Air Force’s chief of staff, told a large audience of active-duty airmen that they have to start thinking about outer space the same way they think about airspace.

In a keynote speech at the Air Force Association’s air warfare symposium, the general said it is “time for us as a service, regardless of specialty badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply to air superiority today.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: He is probably right.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The South Korean Army Is Bigger Than The U.S. Army

A South Korean soldier takes part in a combined arms collective training exercise in Pocheon, South Korea September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji.

Kyle Mizokami, National Interest: South Korea's Army Has 560,000 Troops Ready to Take on Kim Jong Un

The Republic of Korea Army is a large, powerful land force capable defending the border from North Korean invasion. It’s no accident that the North Korean military has evolved asymmetric means such as long range border artillery, light infantry, infiltration forces, and chemical and radiological units to counter the South’s increasing technological superiority. The ROK Army has deterred war for the last seventy years, a benchmark of success for any peacetime army.

In the last seventy years, the Republic of Korea Army (ROK Army) has evolved from a constabulary force into one of the largest, most powerful, technologically advanced armies in the world. This remarkable evolution is entirely due to the original 1950–53 invasion and war by neighboring North Korea. This existential threat has never truly gone away, with North Korea consistently threatening—and preparing for—a second, successful invasion.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is interesting .... the 560,000-strong ROK Army, which is only responsible for the defense of South Korea, is larger than the 475,000-strong U.S. Army, which has a global presence. This has prompted at least one U.S. general, who would assume control of the combined U.S-ROK armies in wartime, to quip “My army is bigger than my army.”

Russia Celebrated Defender Of The Fatherland Day Yesterday

Sputnik: 10 thousand volleys fired form 15 different sites were ignited to commemorate the Defender of the Fatherland day and Red Army's 100-year anniversary in Moscow.

30 additional volleys providing the accompanying salute were fired from a different site.

Defender of the Fatherland Day commemorates the date in 1918, during the Russian Civil War, when the Red Army conducted its first mass draft.

Originally known as Red Army Day, it was renamed Soviet Army and Navy Day in 1949, and given its current title in 2002.

Read more ....

Update #1: Russia Marks Red Army's Centenary (RFE)
Update #2: Russia celebrates Defender of the Fatherland Day in holiday featuring fireworks, battle sleighs, shirtless races (ABC News Online)
Russia Marks Red Army's Centenary
Update #3: Fatherland day: 100 years since Red Army was founded (Al Jazeera)

WNU Editor: Only in Russia .... Celebrating Men’s Day in the #MeToo Era (Moscow Times).

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Scraps Plans To Visit The White House After 'Testy' Phone Call With President Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump meets Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. Reuters/Carlos Barria

The Hill: Mexico's Peña Nieto scraps plan to visit White House following call with Trump on border wall: report

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has reportedly scrapped his plans to visit the White House after a contentious call with President Trump discussing his proposed border wall.

U.S. and Mexican officials familiar with the call told The Washington Post that Peña Nieto and Trump reached an impasse while discussing the wall. Peña Nieto reportedly asked Trump to publicly affirm Mexico’s stance that it will not pay for the wall, but Trump refused to cave.

A Mexican official told the paper that Trump “lost his temper” during the 50-minute call. U.S. officials said that Trump was “exasperated” and “frustrated” because he thought Peña Nieto’s expectation was unreasonable, according to the Post.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: That must have been one "testy" phone call.

More News On Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Scrapping Plans To Visit The White House

After testy call with Trump over border wall, Mexico's president shelves White House visit -- Chicago Tribune/Washington Post
WH official: Peña Nieto calls off visit to White House after confrontational call with Trump -- CNN
Mexico's president called off a White House visit after Trump refused to say publicly that Mexico won't pay for the border wall -- Business Insider
Mexican president cancels White House visit after heated call with Trump: Report -- Washington Examiner

Is China Ready For A Trade War Against The U.S.?

The People's Republic of China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly along Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol in Washington during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit, January 18, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

Alex Capri, SCMP: Is China ready for what US could unleash in trade war?

Tariffs and blocking trade are just parts of the arsenal Washington could deploy – citing ‘national security interests’ – to monitor, control and stop commercial activities.

As rumblings of a trade war between Washington and Beijing grow louder, the Trump administration appears to be gearing up for renewed confrontation with China.

The signs have been clear. Last month, Donald Trump’s move to slap punitive tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, mostly on imports from China, was an opening salvo, while the “renegotiation” of the Nafta and Korea-US (KORUS) free trade agreements has drawn the most attention.

But these moves are just a small part of the policy arsenal Washington could unleash under the banner of “national security interests” to monitor, control and block commercial activities between Chinese and American entities.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese  have not gamed out what the impact would be to them if a trade war breaks out between them and the U.S.. The impression that I am getting from my friends in China is that they do not believe that such a scenario (i.e. trade war) will unfold.  My prediction .... the U.S. will be taking incremental steps in making trade difficult between the U.S. and China .... and it will have an impact that will be noticed by Beijing probably at the end of this year (if not sooner).