Sunday, November 30, 2014

WNU Editor

It has been a rough few weeks (work, travel, health, etc.), so I going to hang out with friends and family for the rest of the day. Blogging will return tomorrow morning.

Murphy's Laws Of Combat

Hat Tip: Theo Spark

A Short Story On A Hypothetical Middle East Nuclear War

An interception by the Iron Dome anti-missile system is seen as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel before a 72-hour ceasefire was due to expire August 13, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen

How The Middle East’s First Nuclear War Started -- Mathew Burrows, Politico

The following is a fictional story by Mathew Burrows, who, for the past decade, has overseen the creation of the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends Report—an intelligence-based futurist guide that has become essential reading for the White House as well as the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security.

As the United States enters the final hours of nuclear negotiations with Iran this weekend, it is worth considering the possible paths forward depending on the outcome of the Geneva meetings. You never know—this story could already be happening.


Jamil Khoury woke at night in a cold sweat, shaken by the magnitude of what he had done. He had always considered himself a peace-loving man—having grown up in Lebanon, he knew what war could do to a country. And now it looked as if he would be responsible for war on a scale no one had ever seen.

He sat for a while in silence watching the sun creep in through the shutters until his phone rang. He answered, and after a brief call, resolved to get the next flight from Beirut to New York. If he could just talk to Lars, Lars might be able to help.


Read more ....

My Comment: A short story on a hypothetical Middle East nuclear war. Let us hope that it remains like that .... a story of fiction.

A Conversation On What It Means To Kill In War

Troops are trained to kill, but not to deal with the consequences of killing.(Reuters/Andrew Burton)

It’s Time For An Honest Conversation About What It Means To Kill In War -- Phil Zabriskie, Quartz

Last week, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Congressional committee that his office was still considering whether or not the US should send ground troops to Iraq to fight ISIL (a.k.a. the Islamic State). Some in Congress and the military think the idea is past due, and that only American combat troops can neutralize the threat ISIL poses to Syria, Iraq, and beyond.

With Chuck Hagel’s resignation as defense secretary on Nov. 24—not to mention a move to slow the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan—a shift in policy may indeed be in the offing. But what everyone must understand is that if boots are put on the ground and a fighting war begins, American servicemen will not only likely be killed, but will also be killing.

That may sound obvious. Of course combat soldiers have to kill. And yet over the past year, as I’ve been reporting and writing about killing in combat—a project born from time spent covering the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and several other countries over the past decade—I’ve seen that this part of combat, obvious though it may be, remains one of the least discussed and most overlooked, despite the profound implications it has for all involved.

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My Comment: A sobering essay on a topic that no one wants to discuss. Fortunately .... in my own case .... I cannot relate to it. I have never killed anyone .... and it is a track record that I am very proud to hold. Unfortunately .... my father did kill a great deal of people during the Second World War .... and while I know some of the details (bits and pieces of info accumulated over the years) .... I do know that his war experience gave him horrible nightmares for the rest of his life.

Ukrainian Nationalists Want A Coup

Radical protesters (R) clash with Interior Ministry and law enforcement members on the Day of Ukrainian Cossacks, marked by activists and supporters of the All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda (Freedom) Party and far-right activists and nationalists to honour the role of the movement in the history of Ukraine, during a rally near the parliament building in Kiev, October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukraine Militias Warn of Anti-Kiev Coup -- Jamie Dettmer, Daily Beast

The men behind Ukraine’s nationalist militias are looking to replace the fumbling government in Kiev one way or another.

KIEV, Ukraine—The burly man with the close-cropped silver hair and his two companions ask not to be identified too closely when they talk to me in some dowdy offices near an ancient monastery overlooking the Dnieper River. They want to be described as “patriotic businessmen,” they say, and one of them, whom we’ll call Alexander, is a very, very rich patriotic businessman.

They have been funding Ukrainian self-defense militias formed in response to what they see as the ineffectiveness of the Ukraine Armed Forces in the face of pro-Moscow separatists and Russian troops in the country’s southeast. And they suggest something worse than incompetence is at work there. The word “betrayal” often plays on their lips. They predict the government of President Petro Poroshenko may not last another three months. “That’s optimistic,” says Alexander.

Alexander and his friends point to continued military hardware exports—sometimes transferred via Moscow-ally Belarus—sent from some of Ukraine’s 134 state-owned defense enterprises to Russia, which has long been the Ukraine arms industry’s biggest customer.

Read more ....

My Comment: The last thing that Ukraine needs right now is a coup .... especially from this group. Fortunately .... they have very little if any support among the general population. Unfortunately .... they are organized, many of them have guns, they have friends and allies in parliament, key positions in the cabinet, and I would say that they have some support from within President Poroshenko's office itself. And while I believe that these Ukrainian nationalists are not capable of launching a successful coup .... the situation in Ukraine is so fluid right now that I have learned that anything is possible 2, 3 or 6 months from now.

A Look At The Humanitarian Crisis In Eastern Ukraine

Donetsk Residents Struggle With Daily Life Amid Ukraine Conflict -- NBC

DONETSK, Ukraine — Among shattered windows and the sounds of fighting, Alina wondered how her house was still standing. Her neighborhood in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk had been shelled the night before.

"Without any warning," she recalled while standing amid broken glass. "It was a miracle that it didn't hit my house ... Everything is so unexpected."

The city has found itself at the heart of a months-long conflict between Ukraine government troops and pro-Russia rebels who want to declare their own state. According to the United Nations, the violence has killed more than 4,300 people and displaced one million others.

Read more ....

My Comment: Russia is sending in some assistance .... Russia Sends Aid Convoy to Rebels as Ukraine Marks Anniversary (Bloomberg) .... but it is not enough to meet the population's needs. And as for those who have left, life has been very difficult .... 'We have no homeland': Ukraine dissolves as exiles flee (Globe and Mail). More here .... Kiev charity offers a little warmth to families fleeing the east (AFP).

My aunt lives in Kharkiv (Ukraine's second largest city), and while she and her husband are determined to stay there, my cousins and their families made the decision a few months ago to leave to Russia. And while the fighting has not reached her part of Ukraine, tensions are very high between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian communities. The rest of my family lives in Kiev, south of Kiev, and near Odessa ..... they are going to stay .... but they have all noticed the massive influx of refugees, and while they feel sorry for them, the real big fear is that they will themselves become part of this refugee wave. I live in Montreal (Canada) .... I have offered to my family to come and stay here until the crisis is over, or to move into my condo in Moscow, which I only use when I visit there. But everyone has declined my offer .... so far.

The above video is from RT correspondent Maria Finoshina .... she started filming a report on refugees fleeing Lugansk and decided to help several people to evacuate in exchange for a chance to interview them.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Happens To Former Russian Spies

Anna Chapman. Wired

Ex-Spy Anna Chapman, From Russia Unloved -- Anna Nemtsova, Saily Beast

With scarlet lips and chemical red hair, the erstwhile agent is still making headlines in the West. She’s put out a film exalting the virtues of the Russian army (even the units in Ukraine). But her audience in the Motherland is negligible.

MOSCOW—Every now and then I run into Anna Chapman at a nail salon called “Little Fingers” on Potapovsky Avenue in downtown Moscow. One would expect a red-haired, red-lipsticked celebrity-ex-spy, wearing expensive designer dresses that are tight enough to sculpt her curves in high relief, to attract attention. But here in the hip Clear Ponds neighborhood, where at any time of the day women are used to seeing and being seen to be cool, glamour is nothing special. It’s rare that another client would turn her head to look at Chapman, and besides, not many people in Moscow actually know who she is.

Most of the times I’ve seen Chapman, she has seemed upset or moody, locked in her own thoughts. Once I asked her if she'd like to be interviewed. She declined, barely looking up as she leafed through a fashion magazine. With a little grin she said she did not like to give interviews: “Why would I need it? My popularity rating is high enough, I don’t need more publicity.”

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My Comment: Anna Nemtsova is right that former Russian spy Anna Chapman attracts far more attention from the West .... than from anyone in Russia.

Nuclear Missile Trains Are Making A Comeback In Russia

The last surviving RT-23 missile perched above its railway based launcher at the Central Museum of Railway Transport in St. Petersburg. George Shuklin / Wikicommons

Russia Looks to Revive Nuclear Missile Trains to Counter U.S. Attack Capability -- Moscow Times

Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces are considering bringing back iconic Soviet-era nuclear missile trains as Moscow pumps money into a complete overhaul its aging nuclear arsenal.

According to an unidentified source in the Russian military-industrial complex quoted by the TASS news agency on Thursday, the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology — makers of the Topol, Yars and Bulava missiles — is designing a next-generation missile launching train.

"While the decision to start manufacturing [missile trains] is still pending, the probability is high that it will happen," the source was quoted as saying, explaining that technical studies and cost estimates are still being conducted.

"In the best-case scenario, they will be deployed by the end of the decade, probably somewhere around 2019," he said.

Read more ....

My Comment: With news reports and developments like this one .... you have to wonder if the Cold War is making a comeback.

Russia Has Successfully Tested A New Submarine Based Bulava Intercontinental Missile

Night Set Alight As Russian Sub Test-Launches Bulava Missile -- RT

Russia’s second Borey-class nuclear submarine test-fired a strategic Bulava intercontinental missile. The night blast-off from a submerged boat was the first successful SLBM launch for the Aleksandr Nevsky.

The K-550 Aleksandr Nevsky is the second Borey-class submarine, the new generation of boats carrying Bulava nuclear missiles. It has undergone modifications based on trials of the head submarine of the class, the Yury Dolgoruky, so its capability to fire the designated weapon is of paramount interest to the Russian Navy.

The missile was fired from a submerged submarine on Saturday morning from the Barents Sea, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported. The missile’s warheads reached the Kura test range in Kamchatka in the Far East.

Read more ....

More News On Russia Successfully Testing A New Submarine Based Bulava Intercontinental Missile

Bulava inter-continental ballistic missile test-launched from nuclear submarine in Barents Sea -- ITAR-TASS
Russia Test-Launches Bulava Sea-Based Ballistic Missile -- Sputnik
Russian submarine test-launches Bulava intercontinental missile -- Reuters
Russia Test-Fires New 'Bulava' Intercontinental Ballistic Missile -- AP
Russia Tests New Sub-Launched Missile -- VOA
Russian submarine tests new missile designed to carry nuclear warheads -- Washington Times

Kurds Accuse Turkey Of Supporting The Islamic State

Armed men, believed to be Kurdish fighters, run after an explosion during fighting against Islamic State militants at a location west of Kobani November 23, 2014 (Reuters / Osman Orsal)

ISIL Reportedly Attacks Syrian Town Kobane From Turkey -- Al Jazeera

Turkey denies attack came from its side of the border while Kurdish activist accuses Istanbul of cooperating with ISIL

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched an attack Saturday on the Syrian border town of Kobane from Turkey, a Kurdish official and activists said, though Turkey denied that the fighters had used its territory for the raid.

The assault began when a suicide bomber driving an armored vehicle detonated his explosives on the border crossing between Kobane and Turkey, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party.

At least 30 fighters have been confirmed as killed so far, said Rami Abdulrahman, the Observatory's director. Twenty-one of those were ISIL fighters, including the four suicide bombers. The rest were Kurdish forces.

Read more ....

More News On Kurdish Accusations That Turkey Is Supporting The Islamic State

Kurds blame Turkey as suicide bombers hit Kobani -- Reuters
ISIS attacks border town Kobani from Turkey -- CBC/AP
Isis launches attack on Kobani from inside Turkey for first time -- The Guardian
Jihadist suicide bombers hit Syria-Turkey border post -- AFP
ISIS attack on Kobani comes from Turkey – Kurds -- RT
Islamic State: Fighting intensifies in Syrian town of Kobane -- BBC
At least 30 fighters killed in Syrian city of Kobani -- CNN

The Air War Against The Islamic State Has Become A Mixture Of Tatics, Strategy, And Politics

Nov. 23, 2014: An explosion following an air strike is seen in Kobani, Syria, near the Turkish border. (REUTERS)

US Flies Roughly 85 Percent Of Airstrike Against Islamic State, In Complex Mix Of Tactics, Politics -- FOX News

The United States is conducting roughly 85 percent of the multi-national air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to the most recent Pentagon report.

U.S. fighter planes and drones have conducted 819 strikes, compared to 157 from the 10 other countries, states the detailed report obtained last week by

The U.S. began the strikes in Iraq on Aug. 8 and was joined roughly five weeks later by Australia, followed by France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. They joined as part of President Obama’s plan to have international support in the effort to stop the militant group’s foray into western Iraq and eastern Syria. Canada was the last to join, on Oct. 7, and the last to launch a strike.

France on Sept. 17 became the first Western county other than the U.S. to launch an air strike, destroying an Islamic State depot.

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My Comment: 85% !?!?!?!?! My gut is telling me that almost all airstrikes are now coming from U.S. aircraft .... because if it was not the case .... the U.S. would be broadcasting it everywhere and repeating it in every press conference.

A Look At The Uneasy Relationship Exists Between President Obama And The Pentagon

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the Defense Strategic Review at the Pentagon in Washington January 5, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WNU Editor: Presidents and the Pentagon usually have a different viewpoint on national security and defense related issues .... especially during times of war. President Obama has not been an exception to this rule .... but this AP article is a surprising and sobering analysis on the current relationship between the White House Obama and the Pentagon .... and it is a severe take. The link is here .... For Obama and the Pentagon, an uneasy relationship -- Julie Pace and Robert Burns (AP).

Islamic State Fighters Enjoy Junk Food And Western Gadgets

An Isis fighter in Raqqa

Isis Fighters Crave Snacks And Gadgets Of The West They Disdain -- Financial Times

What do jihadi militants crave on their break at the battlefront? Pringles are one frontline favourite. Another is Red Bull.

Thousands of foreign fighters who have flocked to Syria want to create an austere Islamic state harking back to the past. But they have retained their taste for the modern-day snacks and gadgets of the western countries they disdain.

Locals are not only living in fear of these militants, who use brutal mass executions and beheadings to impose their rule, but they are also trying to find ways to survive an economic crisis provoked by three years of civil war. Many say that the best strategy is catering to the tastes of the fighters they loathe.

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My Comment: They may disdain the culture of the West .... but they certainly love some of our additions and pleasures.

Syrian Foreign Minister: US-Led Strikes Haven't Weakened The Islamic State

A pair of US F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria. (Reuters)

Syria: US Raids Have Failed To Weaken ISIL -- Al Jazeera

Foreign Minister Moualem says coalition's air strikes having little impact, as his government urges Turkey to do more.

Syria's foreign minister has said US-led air strikes had failed to weaken the grip of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and the group would not be tackled unless Turkey was forced to tighten border controls.

A US-led alliance started attacking ISIL targets in Syria in September as part of a wider effort to destroy the al-Qaeda offshoot that has seized large areas of the country and neighbouring Iraq.

"All the indications say that (Islamic State) today, after two months of coalition air strikes, is not weaker," Walid al-Moualem, the foreign minister, said in an interview with the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV broadcast on Friday.

Read more ....

More News On Syrian Claims That US-Led Strikes Haven't Weakened The Islamic State

Islamic State: Syria says air strikes not hurting group -- BBC
Syria says U.S.-led strikes have not weakened Islamic State -- Reuters
Syria says US-led strikes haven't weakened Islamic State group -- AFP
US airstrikes against ISIS has not weakened them, Syrian official says -- FOX News
Syria: US-led strikes failed to weaken ISIS -- RT
US Military Campaign in Syria Failed to Weaken Islamic State: Syrian FM -- Sputnik
Syria says U.S.-led strikes have not weakened Islamic State -- Haaretz
Syria says US-led strikes have not weakened Islamic State -- Jerusalem Post

My Comment: This article probably explains why the Syrians have reacted in the matter that they have .... Syria, U.S. attack same Syrian city, then trade barbs (Washington Post).

Bomb Attack Kills 15 In Western China

15 Killed as Explosives Are Hurled at Food Court in Xinjiang -- Bloomberg

Fifteen people, including 11 attackers, were killed and 14 hurt as a group in vehicles hurled explosives at a food court yesterday in the latest flare-up in China’s Xinjiang province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The group randomly hacked people after the blasts in Shache County, Xinhua reported today. Police on patrol nearby evacuated the crowds and killed 11 of the attackers, the news agency said.

President Xi Jinping has blamed Uighur separatists, the Muslim ethnic minority that makes up about 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, for a series of bombings and attacks in the province and across the country. More than 300 terror suspects have been arrested in the past six months as part of a nationwide crackdown.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Bomb Attack In Xinjiang Province, China

15 killed, 14 injured in Xinjiang terrorist attack -- Xinhuanet
Xinjiang unrest: 15 dead in 'terrorist attack' in China's restive north-west region -- ABC News (Australia)
China: Explosive Blast and Knife Attack Kills 15 and Injures 14 in Xinjiang Province -- IBTimes
15 dead in attack in west China’s Xinjiang region -- AP
Fifteen dead, 14 hurt in attack in China's Xinjiang: Xinhua -- Reuters
Attack in Western China Leaves at Least 15 People Dead -- New York Times
Deadly attack on market stalls in China’s Xinjiang region -- Euronews
Fifteen die in attack in west China --
Food stalls targeted in Xinjiang, says China -- Deutsche Welle

What Went Wrong In Afghanistan

Thirteen Years Later, What Went Wrong in Afghanistan -- Anand Gopal, Newsweek

President Barack Obama has abandoned his aim of ending America’s combat role in Afghanistan at the end of this year and has broadened the U.S. military mission to counter the advances of the Taliban. In his latest book, “No Good Men Among the Living,” journalist and author Anand Gopal describes where the U.S. went wrong in its -- so far -- thirteen-year occupation of the largely lawless country that once harbored Osama bin Laden.

From its earliest days, the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan was tethered to American aid, incapable of surviving on its own. It was reminiscent of the Afghan Communist regime of the 1980s, which lived and died by Moscow’s patronage—except that now there was a twist.

Of the $557 billion that Washington spent in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011, only 5.4 percent went to development or governance. The rest was mostly military expenditure, a significant chunk of which ended up in the coffers of regional strongmen like Jan Muhammad (JMK).

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My Comment: We stayed too long .... and what made things worse is that no one defined (from President Bush to President Obama) on what that U.S. military mission would then be.

Taliban Step-Up Their Attacks In Afghanistan

Afghanistan On Edge As Stepped-Up Taliban Attacks Kill At Least 6 -- Washington Post

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents struck targets across Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least six people and wounding scores more, extending a string of attacks in recent weeks that have put Afghans on edge, two months into the term of the new U.S.-backed government.

The most brazen assault began Thursday night, when five Taliban suicide bombers and a group of fighters tried to infiltrate Camp Bastion, an air base in the volatile southern province of Helmand, triggering an intense gun battle that lasted into Friday morning, said Omer Zowak, a spokesman for the provincial governor’s office. Afghan soldiers repelled the attack, killing at least five Taliban fighters. Two soldiers died and six were wounded in the battle.

The attack was the latest by the Islamist Taliban insurgency targeting figures and centers of authority and influence in recent weeks. British and American forces this year pulled out of Camp Bastion, a British base, and transferred it to the Afghan army. The assault exemplified how the Taliban is trying to seize advantage of a military landscape in which most American and international forces have stopped combat operations and are preparing to withdraw by the end of the year.

Read more ....

More News On The Afghan War

Afghanistan’s heavily guarded capital no longer immune from violence -- Stars and Stripes
For Afghans, the fighting now knows no seasons -- New York Times
Afghanistan lifts night raid ban against Taliban -- Washington Times
Taliban attack former NATO base in south Afghanistan -- AFP
Taliban fighters breach Helmand base, exchange fire with Afghan troops -- Reuters
Taliban launch all-out assault on Camp Bastion barely a month after British troops pull out, killing six Afghan soldiers -- Daily Mail/AP
Afghan soldiers killed in army base assault -- Al Jazeera
Afghan Troops 'Drive Out' Taliban From Key Southern Base -- Radio Free Europe
Taliban, Afghan forces battle at base vacated by British troops last month -- CNN
Afghan interpreters who helped US forces claim they have been left to the mercy of the Taliban after being place on a blacklist that stops them from emigrating to America -- Daily Mail

My Comment: The war usually tapers off during the winter months .... but the Taliban have clearly made the decision to escalate the war and to seize territory when possible.

Egyptian Court Dismisses Murder And Corruption Charges Against Former President Mubarak, His Sons, And Senior Aides

Egypt Court Dismisses Charges Against Mubarak -- Al Jazeera

Deposed president, along with his sons, was also cleared of corruption charges relating to the sale of gas to Israel.

An Egyptian court has thrown out a case against former President Hosni Mubarak for conspiring to murder protesters during the 2011 Egyptian revolution due to a technicality and lack of jurisdiction.

Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal were also cleared by Chief Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi of corruption charges related to exporting gas to Israel.

The same Cairo court acquitted Habib al-Adli, former Mubarak-era interior minister, and six senior security commanders of conspiracy to murder protesters.

Read more ....

More News On An Egyptian Court Dismissing Murder And Corruption Charges Against Former President Mubarak, His Sons, And Senior Aides

Hosni Mubarak: Egypt court drops murder charges over 2011 killings -- BBC
Mubarak, his sons, interior minister and aides acquitted -- Ahram Online
Egyptian court dismisses charges against Mubarak -- AP
Egyptian court drops case against Mubarak over 2011 protester deaths -- Reuters
Egypt court drops murder charge against Mubarak -- AFP
Mubarak Cleared of All Charges in Killing of Egyptian Protesters -- VOA
Egypt Court Dismisses Murder Charges Against Former President Hosni Mubarak -- Wall Street Journal
Egyptian Court Acquits Ex-Leader Mubarak Over Protester Killings -- Bloomberg
Egypt: Ex-ruler Hosni Mubarak, accused in deaths of hundreds, cleared of charges -- CNN
Egypt’s ex-leader Mubarak acquitted of murder conspiracy charges -- RT
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak acquitted on killing, corruption charges -- Deutsche Welle
Egypt court acquits seven Mubarak security commanders of murder -- Straits Times

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister: US Responsible For Two-Thirds Of All Military Conflicts

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Brian Godwin administers the oath of enlistment to U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan Conover during a ceremony on Forward Operating Base Lightning in Afghanistan's Paktia province, April 27, 2014. Goodwin and Conover are assigned to the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Javier Amador

US Responsible For Two-Thirds Of All Military Conflicts – Russia’s Top Brass -- RT

US interference in the internal affairs of countries around the world has brought neither peace, nor democracy, said Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister. America’s double standard experiments in supporting terrorists are provoking further destabilization.

“Think of it, over the last decades the US initiated two-thirds of all military conflicts (worldwide). Call to memory, how it all turned out in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria,” Russia’s deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said, addressing colleagues from the Southern and Southeast Asian states in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Read more ....

Update: 2/3 Of Global Military Conflicts Instigated By U.S. – Russian Minister; Willing To Share With Asian Countries Army Modernization Experience -- IBTimes

My Comment: The U.S. is involved in a number of conflicts .... but to say that they are responsible for a majority of these wars/conflicts is a stretch .... correction .... a huge stretch.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tonight's Movie Is 'Breakthrough' With Richard Burton and Robert Mitchum (1979)

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- November 28, 2014

OPEC Decision: Winners And Losers -- Kim Hjelmgaard, USA Today

VIENNA — The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries chose not to cut oil production levels Thursday, pushing down oil prices and creating winners and losers in the process.

In the winners' corner are the Arab Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is likely happy to let oil prices, down 35% since June, adjust on their own accord to maintain market share and revenue levels, said Nayef Nofel Shoshare, a Vienna-based oil expert.

OPEC's largest producer may also be reluctant to show the world it fears the shale-based energy revolution that will lead the United States to become energy independent within the next two decades, according to the International Energy Agency.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- November 28, 2014

Inside OPEC room, Naimi declares price war on U.S. shale oil -- Alex Lawler, Amena Bakr and Dmitry Zhdannikov, Reuters

How the US fracked OPEC: Oil enters new era -- The Age

OPEC’s Weapon of Mass Inaction -- Liam Denning, WSJ

Oil prices plunge after OPEC leaves output stable -- Deutsche Welle

Iran’s not-so-hidden hidden agenda -- Dallas News

Top Nuclear Official: We Have 2 Problems With The Iran Talks -- Michael B Kelley, Business Insider

Do Americans Favor Appeasing Iran? -- Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

Why do nearly 40 percent of Germans endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea? -- Rick Noack, Washington Post

Why Do British Royals Refuse To Visit Israel? -- Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations

The Chinese Economy Is Facing A $6.8 Trillion Nightmare That Could Get Worse -- Mike Bird, Business Insider

Vietnam, the US, and Japan in the South China Sea -- Alexander L. Vuving, The Diplomat

The South China Sea: Navigating the Most Dangerous Place in the World -- Michael McDevitt, War On The Rocks

How China's shadowy agency is working to absorb Taiwan -- Yimou Lee and Faith Hung, Reuters

World News Briefs -- November 28, 2014

Nigeria Unrest: Kano Mosque Attack 'Kills Dozens' -- BBC

Dozens have been killed in a gun and bomb attack during Friday prayers at one of the biggest mosques in the Nigerian city of Kano, reports say.

Many more people have been hurt, with one rescue official putting casualty figures at almost 400.

The Central Mosque is where the influential Muslim leader, the Emir of Kano, usually leads prayers.

The emir recently called for people to arm themselves against Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Read more ....


Fifteen Islamic State targets hit by U.S., allies since Wednesday: U.S..

Iraq leadership confers with U.S., NATO commanders.

Frontline of Syrian city of Kobani in rubble after two months of fighting.

Syria denies targeting civilians, tells U.S. to criticize militants instead.

Iran grapples with lower oil price as OPEC influence wanes.

Israel FM supports paying Arabs to leave.

Push to find Lebanon's 'disappeared' grows.


Afghanistan’s heavily guarded capital no longer immune from violence. Kabul district heavily guarded after attack.

Afghan official: Attack on army base kills 6.

Street clashes erupt as Hong Kong police crack down on protesters.

North Korea slams US as racist, human rights 'tundra'.

90,000 homes left without power as worst storm in decades hits Brisbane.

Australia out of step with new climate momentum.

Nepal's mass animal slaughter under way.

Japan's biggest newspaper apologizes for using term 'sex slaves'.


Nigeria: multiple bomb blasts target Kano mosque. Kano mosque attack: At least 120 dead, 270 wounded.

Explosions rattle Egypt amid calls for Islamic uprising. Egypt government puts down attempt at large protests. Four dead in Egypt anti-government protest.

Egypt’s Al-Sisi openly blames West for Libya’s tragic predicament.

Struggle over Libya's oil risks breaking up country: rival PM.

Cameroon frees Central African rebel chief in exchange for hostages.

South Sudan opposition alleges new SPLA attacks.

As number of South Sudanese refugees grows, UN relief official urges support to Ethiopia.

EU votes to keep protecting aid to Somalia from pirates.

Despite aid push, Ebola is raging in Sierra Leone.

WHO advises Ebola survivors abstain from sex for three months.


Kiev suspends railway traffic with Donetsk — DPR transport minister.

Many Germans support tougher stance on Russia.

Fewer Russians say sanctions harming as economy ebbs, poll shows.

Cheap oil won't ‘collapse’ Russian economy – minister.

Nicolas Sarkozy tipped to win party’s leadership vote again a decade on.

Eyeing deadline, France to back Palestinian state if peace talks fail.

Moldova goes to the polls torn between Europe and Russia.

Cameron tells EU: let us curb migrant welfare, or risk UK leaving.

Pope condemns 'barbaric violence' of Islamic State.


US Black Friday quieter as bargains spread over two days.

Ferguson protests move to retailers.

Police: Slain Austin gunman fired more than 100 rounds at Mexican consulate, other buildings.

Mexico’s president announces anti-crime crackdown, will put all local police under state control.

Venezuela says will push OPEC until oil reaches $100.

Canadian CF-18s escort Aussie humanitarian airdrop mission in Iraq.

U.N. watchdog urges Venezuela to investigate torture allegations.

UN torture watchdog slams US for police brutality.


Pentagon prepares more Guantanamo releases.

Islamic State spreading into northern Africa, alarming U.S..

Support for Isis stronger in Arabic social media in Europe than in Syria.


OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices.

Gold repatriation from US to result in higher gold prices, weaker dollar.

China overtakes Japan as world’s second-biggest stock market.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 28, 2014

Iraqi security forces march on the outskirts of Najaf, south of Baghdad last week. The U.S. military has altered its plans to train and equip all Iraqi forces to fight ISIS and will instead focus on readying nine select brigades to take on the terrorist group

America Ditches Decade-Long Plan To Train A Full-Scale Iraqi Army In Favor Of Creating A Small Force Actually Able To Fight ISIS – Instead Of Running Away From The Militants -- Daily Mail

* 'The idea is, at least in the first instance, to try and build a kind of leaner, meaner Iraqi army,' a senior U.S. official said
* The U.S. military plans to create nine new Iraqi army brigades of up to 45,000 light-infantry soldiers over the course of the next two months
* They'll team up with Kurdish and Shiite fighters to fight ISIS
* 'I think we are winning, they are losing,' Iraqi finance minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Thursday

The U.S. military has decided against rebuilding the entire Iraqi army and will instead focus on training a handful of brigades to take on Islamic radicals, initiating a shift in the Pentagon's decade-long approach to the handling the country.

'The idea is, at least in the first instance, to try and build a kind of leaner, meaner Iraqi army,' a senior U.S. official told the Washington Post.

Officials who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity said the military plans to create nine new Iraqi army brigades of up to 45,000 light-infantry soldiers over the course of the next two months and team them with other Kurdish and Shiite fighters.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 28, 2014

Pentagon aims to train 'leaner, meaner Iraqi army' -- Stars and Stripes/Washington Post

Ministers from coalition against Islamic State to meet December 3 -- Reuters

US, Coalition Executes more than 1,000 Airstrikes against ISIS --

US in talks over Arab boots on the ground -- The Hill

Western media websites hacked by Syrian Electronic Army -- Reuters

How Syrian Electronic Army Pulled Off Thanksgiving Day Hacks -- ABC News

Armor: Kornet Clobbers Abrams -- Strategy Page

Russian battleships in the English Channel, say they’re training -- RT

Russian warships pass through English Channel, anchor off coast of France and do exercises -- Washington Post

Royal Navy catches up with Russian warships to 'keep an eye' on Putin's fleet sailing along the Channel -- Daily Mail

Russia Test-Launches Bulava Sea-Based Ballistic Missile -- Sputnik

Russia Ahead of Schedule in Modernizing Military Hardware: Defense Ministry -- Sputnik

Russia ready to share army modernization experience with Asian countries -- ITAR-TASS

MiG-31 fighter force to get $630 million upgrade -- Russia India Report

Afghan drug traffic most serious threat to post-Soviet states — Russian official -- ITAR-TASS

Electronic Weapons: NATO AWACS Depart Afghanistan -- Strategy Page

HMS Queen Elizabeth: The sensitive aircraft carrier issue -- BBC

British Tanks Practice for War with Russia -- Joe Trevithick, Real Clear Defense

India Denies Reports That it Will Cancel French Rafale Jet Deal -- Sputnik

Japan military chief urges early 'crisis management' pact with China -- Reuters

A U.S.-China War: A Battle between Networks -- Zackary Keck, National Interest

Navy LCS Replacement Hangs in Limbo with Hagel Resignation -- DoD Buzz

Lockheed Updates Unmanned U-2 Concept -- Aviation Week

Kodiak cleanup after aborted missile launch could extend into 2015 -- Stars and Stripes/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AP)

How The Navy's Latest Anti-Submarine Aircraft Sees Under The Waves -- Pierre Bienaimé, Business Insider

The CIA and Homeland Security want to delete almost all their emails -- Endgadget

Obama facing uphill battle in curbing NSA snooping -- Washington Times

New Clue Revealed for a Sculpture of Secret Code at CIA Headquarters -- Hyperallergic

Is White House Micromanagement Scaring Off Likely Defense Secretaries? -- DoD Buzz

Does anyone want this job? -- Austin Wright and Michael Hirsh, Politico

Dr. Strangelove’s Advice to U.S. and Russian Nuclear Planners -- Walter C. Clemens, Jr., The Diplomat

Is Russia Two Years Away From An Economic Meltdown?

A man reads a newspaper under signs with currency exchange rates in Moscow, November 28, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Russia ‘Two Years From Meltdown’ As Economic Distress Grows -- The Australian/The Times

RUSSIA’S mounting economic crisis is likely to pose an existential threat to President Vladimir Putin’s leadership within two years, one of the country’s most respected economists said ­yesterday.

The economic distress signals are becoming clearer and ­although western sanctions are not the only cause of Russia’s problems, they make escape from the downturn far more difficult.

Ordinary Russians, who have overwhelmingly supported Mr Putin’s annexation of Crimea in March and his refusal to buckle in the face of sanctions imposed as a result, are feeling a growing impact in their daily lives, and the plummeting price of oil has squeezed government receipts.

Read more ....

My Comment: Russia has seen far worse .... it will survive.

According To Russian President Putin, Everything Is 'Fine'

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide phone-in in Moscow in this April 17, 2014 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Files

Putin Says Russia Doing Fine in Face of Tumbling Crude Prices -- Bloomberg

President Vladimir Putin said Russia will cope with the rout in crude oil after benchmark prices plunged to a four-year low near $70 a barrel.

“We are satisfied overall with the situation and do not see anything so extraordinary in what is happening,” he said today in Sochi, Russia. “Winter is coming and I am sure that the market will come into balance again in the first quarter or toward the middle of next year.”

Putin’s comments run counter to the consensus of analysts, who see Russia threatened with recession after crude collapsed into a bear market. The world’s second-largest oil exporter, which relies on crude for almost half its income, is revising down estimates after basing next year’s budget on oil at $100 a barrel, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev told reporters in Moscow today.

Read more ....

More News On Russian President Putin

Putin expects oil prices to find balance by middle of 2015 -- Reuters
Putin Says OPEC Decision Suits Russia -Interfax -- Nasdaq
Putin Begins Talks With French Oil Giant Total's New Head -- Sputnik
Attempts to pressure Russia by sanctions futile, says Putin -- First Post/IANS
Putin calls for switch from sanctions to search for mutually acceptable solutions -- ITAR-TASS
Radical groups once employed by West are main threat for Syria, Middle East — Putin -- ITAR-TASS
Putin to push trade in Turkey despite disagreement on Syria -- Reuters
Putin generally satisfied with Russia state defense order situation -- ITAR-TASS
Vladimir Putin wants Russia to have full access to Hollywood movies -- The Guardian

U.S. Alarmed By The Growth Of The Islamic State Throughout North Africa

Islamic State Spreading Into Northern Africa, Alarming U.S. -- Washington Times

Libya, Egypt at risk of Shariah brutality

In its war to create a caliphate across Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is opening a front in North Africa, where affiliated militants are wreaking havoc in eastern Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula — presenting a complex challenge for Washington and its allies in the region.

Through its savvy use of social media and slick production of recruitment videos, the Islamic State — also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL — is attracting a growing number of individual jihadis to its harsh interpretation of Islamic, or Shariah, law.

“ISIL’s stated goal of expanding its caliphate and its adherence to a strict form of Shariah has definitely resonated with a collection of extremists across North Africa, who appear to be mimicking ISIL’s rhetoric and brutality,” said a U.S. intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss security issues freely.

Read more ....

My Comment: Libya is definitely fertile ground for the Islamic State .... a failed state with porous borders and young extremist groups everywhere.

President Obama: More Guantanamo Prisoners To Be Released

A Navy officer, center, and two Army officers enter Camp VI at the detention center at the Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Walter Michot / Miami Herald / MCT / August 6, 2012)

Obama On Gitmo: More Detainees Expected To Be Released -- Washington Times

President Obama is getting ready to release more detainees from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to reports.

After transferring five suspected terrorists from the lockup at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, or Gitmo, the Pentagon has said that more will be transferred out in December, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The increased pace of detainee releases follows the abrupt ouster this week of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who administration officials criticized to the newspaper for moving too slowly to empty Gitmo.

Mr. Obama came into office in 2009 vowing to close down the detention center that was set up after the 9/11 attacks to lock up terror suspects outside restriction of U.S. law. But the president has been unable to fulfill the promise.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That More Guantanamo Detainees Are To Be Released

Pentagon prepares for more detainee releases from Guantanamo Bay -- FOX News
Pentagon Expected To Release More Detainees From Guantanamo -- NPR
Pentagon Prepares More Guantanamo Releases -- WSJ
Pentagon Plans to Transfer More Guantanamo Detainees -- Telesur

Carnage In Nigerian Mosque Attack

Nigeria Unrest: Kano Mosque Attack 'Kills Dozens' -- BBC

Dozens have been killed in a gun and bomb attack during Friday prayers at one of the biggest mosques in the Nigerian city of Kano, reports say.

Many more people have been hurt, with one rescue official putting casualty figures at just under 200.

The Central Mosque is where the influential Muslim leader, the Emir of Kano, usually leads prayers.

The emir recently called for people to arm themselves against Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

The group has been waging an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009 and has killed more than 2,000 people this year, rights groups say.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Terror Attack At A Nigerian Mosque

At least 64 dead, 126 injured in Nigeria mosque bombings: Rescue official -- The Straits Times
Bombs, Gunmen Kill Scores in Kano, Nigeria -- VOA
Bombs, gunfire kill 35 at crowded mosque in Nigeria's Kano -- Reuters
Triple bomb blasts kill 64 outside Nigeria mosque -- The Telegraph
Bomb blast hits mosque in northern Nigeria city -- AP
64 die, 128 injured in Kano mosque bombing -- The News (Nigeria)
3 deadly explosions rock Kano Central Mosque -- The News (Nigeria)
Bombings at a Mosque in Northern Nigeria Kill Dozens of Worshippers During Afternoon Prayers -- VICE

Is Current U.S. Policy On Syria And The Islamic State Eroding Its Influence In The Middle East?

Conflicting Policies On Syria And Islamic State Erode U.S. Standing In Mideast -- New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon — American and Syrian warplanes screamed over the Syrian city of Raqqa in separate raids this week, ostensibly against the same target, the Islamic State militants in control there.

In the first raid, on Sunday, United States warplanes hit an Islamic State building, with no report of civilian casualties. On Tuesday, Syrian jets struck 10 times, killing scores of civilians, according to residents and Islamic State videos.

The back-to-back strikes, coming just days after President Bashar al-Assad of Syria declared that the West needed to side with him in “real and sincere” cooperation to defeat the extremist group, infuriated Syrians who oppose both Mr. Assad and the Islamic State. They see American jets sharing the skies with the Syrians but doing nothing to stop them from indiscriminately bombing rebellious neighborhoods. They conclude, increasingly, that the Obama administration is siding with Mr. Assad, that by training United States firepower solely on the Islamic State it is aiding a president whose ouster is still, at least officially, an American goal.

Read more ....

My Comment: We will know what our coalition partners meet when they meet on December 3 .... Ministers from coalition against Islamic State to meet December 3 (Reuters). My prediction .... a realization that the war against the Islamic State is going to take a very long time. In the meantime .... the war continues .... Fifteen Islamic State targets hit by U.S., allies since Wednesday: U.S. (Reuters).

U.S. Deploying A-10 Warthogs And Reaper Drones To Combat The Islamic State

Deadly force: A line up of A-10s at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. Planes of this type will arrive in Kuwait for combat operations next week

A-10 Warthogs And Reaper Drones Called Up To Blast ISIS From The Skies: U.S. Air Force's Most Feared Ground Attack Planes Will Strike Militant Targets Within Days -- Daily Mail

* A dozen A-10s are being moved from Afghanistan to Kuwait by next week to start patrols over Iraq and Syria
* Fearsome planes can approach targets low and slow and are protected against small arms fire and RPGs - ISIS's favored weapons
* More drones armed with missiles will patrol the skies within weeks as war on the Islamic State is stepped up
* Deployment comes after 200 commanders held talks on defeating ISIS, which is half-army, half-insurgency

A dozen of the United States Air Force’s most feared attack aircraft are to be deployed in the battle against ISIS.

Twelve A-10 ‘Warthogs’ are being moved from Afghanistan to Kuwait to carry out patrols against the Islamic State militants who have taken swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory.

The new deployment will boost the USAF’s ability to patrol the skies and take out ISIS targets.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Deploying A-10 Warthogs And Reaper Drones To Combat The Islamic State

The A-10 jet will launch airstrikes against the Islamic State -- Washington Post
A-10s deployed to take on the Islamic State -- Stars and Stripes
A-10s Return to Iraq after Air Force Tries to Retire Fleet --
Air Force to deploy A-10s to combat Islamic State -- UPI
A-10 Thunderbolt Deployed To Iraq For Fight Against The Islamic State -- IBTimes
The A-10 Warthog Is Back in Iraq — And Just in Time -- Robert Beckhusen, War Is Boring

U.S. Trainers Now Have Modest Goals In Training The Iraqi Army

Tribal fighters take part in a military training to prepare for fighting against Islamic State militants, at the Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province November 15, 2014. Picture taken November 15, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Stringer

U.S. Seeks To Build Lean Iraqi Force To Fight The Islamic State -- Washington Post

After learning hard lessons rebuilding foreign militaries over the past dozen years, the U.S. military is shifting its strategy against the Islamic State, choosing to train a smaller number of Iraqi soldiers rather than trying to stand up an entire army anew.

At their peak, Iraqi combat forces, painstakingly built and paid for by the United States during the last Iraq war, numbered about 400,000 troops. By the time the Islamist militant group launched its advance across northern Iraq in June, the Iraqi forces had shrunk by as much as half, depleted by years of corruption, absenteeism and decay.

When the Islamic State completed its seizure of the city of Mosul, four Iraqi army divisions and another from the federal police had disappeared, shrinking the original combat force to as few as 85,000 active troops, according to expert estimates.

Read more ....

Update: U.S. advisers stay out of harm's way in Iraq -- USA Today

My Comment: Trying to change a military culture takes years .... and in Iraq's case .... probably a few decades. The problem in the Iraqi has always been the same ..... its top and middle level leadership lacks experience in fighting wars .... and coupled with political interference .... a lack of will to fight and win. What is needed are U.S. combat boots on the ground to show what it takes to win .... but the White House has made it very clear that this is an option that is not going to be followed.

The 'Militarization' Of Crimea Is Raising NATO Concerns (Updated)

NATO Commander Warns of Crimea 'Militarization' -- Voice of America

KYIV - The top U.S. general in Europe said he is alarmed at the Russian militarization of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and by provocative Russian military flights in NATO airspace.

After meeting with Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv, General Philip Breedlove, head of the U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said the military buildup by Moscow includes cruise and surface-to-air missiles able to exert, as he put it, "military influence" on the region.

“We are very concerned with the militarization of Crimea. We are concerned that the capabilities in Crimea that are being installed will bring an effect on almost the entire Black Sea,” Breedlove said.

Read more ....

More News On NATO Concerns On The 'Militarization' Of Crimea

NATO concern over Russian planes in Crimea -- Euronews
Nato commander warns Russia could control whole Black Sea -- BBC
NATO concerned over Russian forces in Crimea -- Al Jazeera
NATO warns over Russian military build-up in Crimea -- AFP
Russian Air Force Sends 14 Advanced Su-27 And Su-30 Warplanes To Belbek Air Base In Crimea -- IBTimes
Advanced Russian warplanes arrive in Crimea -- UPI

Life Is Not Easy Inside Crimea

Teenagers Murdered, Women Hounded On The Street And Money So Tight Even The Strippers Can't Get Paid: Inside 'Prison Cell' Crimea After Russian Invasion -- Daily Mail

* MailOnline sees residents handcuffed in the street and harassed by police
* People are snatched from the street for political activism
* Teenagers killed by police 'just for speaking native Ukrainian'
* Russians forced to take 'fake holidays' in former tourist jewel on Black Sea
* Desperate plight of people revealed after Putin annexed Crimea in March

Murdered for speaking their mother tongue, kidnapped for their religion, harassed for daring to question Vladimir Putin - and money so tight even the strippers can't get paid: welcome to the tourist jewel of Crimea almost nine months on from Russia's military annexation.

The Black Sea peninsula has some of the most stunning mountain and sea scenery in Europe yet has suffered a catastrophic summer after the Moscow invasion in February.

MailOnline found the desperate region - formerly a bustling tourist resort - preparing for a winter of food shortages, soaring prices, and power cuts. But much more chillingly we found evidence of people being killed for speaking Ukrainian, hounded for being Muslim Tatars and fear even among the residents who support Putin.

Read more ....

Update: Eight months after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, a complicated transition -- Washington Post

My Comment: Life in Ukraine is also not a "bed of roses" .... and in eastern Ukraine it is "pure hell" right now. It is with this perspective that many who live in Crimea .... especially the Russian community .... will probably try their best to stick it out and hope for better times in a year or two. What's my prediction .... I sadly do not see any improvements for the next decade.

Global Oil Prices Collapsing. Russian Ruble Hits New Low

Oil tankers in a Russian railway siding. The sharp fall in crude prices has added downward pressure on the Russian ruble on currency markets. Reuters

Russian Ruble Falls To New Lows As Oil Prices Slide -- Wall Street Journal

Ruble Down to 49.90 Against the Dollar

MOSCOW—The Russian ruble weakened to new lows in early trading on Friday, hit by a drop in oil prices after OPEC members rejected calls for drastic action to cut their oil output.

OPEC members’ decision to keep their production ceiling unchanged sent Brent crude prices below $72 per barrel for the first time since mid-2010, threatening to put more of a brake on Russia’s economic growth. The country receives around 50% of its revenue from exporting oil and gas.

The ruble touched an all-time low of 49.90 versus the dollar in the first minutes of trading on Moscow exchange, before recovering slightly to 49.57. This takes the ruble’s year-to-date depreciation versus the greenback to 34%.

Read more ....

More News On Collapsing Oil Prices And It's Impact On The Russian Economy

Russian markets & ruble hit new lows, as OPEC oil decision weighs -- RT
Russia's Ruble Crashes to Historic Lows as OPEC Lets Oil Price Fall -- Moscow Times
Ruble Drops to Record in Worst Month in Five Years as Bonds Fall -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Russian ruble hits historic lows on OPEC decision -- AFP
Russia's Ruble Tumbles After OPEC Refuses to Cut Oil Output -- Moscow Times/Reuters
Russian Ruble Hits Historic Lows Against Dollar, Euro On OPEC Decision -- Radio Free Europe
OPEC Decision ‘A Watershed for the Oil Market’ — Street Reacts -- WSJ

My Comment: For Russia .... oil prices may have dropped, but this has been offset by the decline in the Russian ruble. Pensions and salaries are still going to be paid .... but this is not a trend that Moscow and its business elite are looking at fondly.

Is Gold Facing A 6,000 Year Bubble?

Swiss Set For Gold Vote Amid '6,000-Year Bubble' Warning -- CNBC

With Switzerland edging toward an important referendum on its gold holdings, high-profile critics and advocates have added their voices to the argument. Meanwhile, the country's citizens have been quietly increasing their own personal reserves.

On Sunday, voters in the European country will head to the polls to decide whether the Swiss National Bank (SNB) should refrain from selling any more of its gold and instead boost its gold holdings from 7 to 20 percent.

The initiative is being proposed by the ultra-conservative Swiss People's party with the intention of boosting the security and independence of Switzerland. However, the idea has one very notable critic in Willem Buiter, the chief economist at the U.S. investment bank Citi, who has deemed the commodity to be in a 6,000-year bubble.

Read more ....

My Comment: A 6,000 year bubble .... I doubt it .... and no surprise .... the trend continues to grow of countries demanding their gold holdings be transferred from the U.S. back to their own country's vaults .... Swiss, French call to bring home gold reserves as Dutch move 122 tons out of US (RT).

Update: This is priceless .... Kyle Bass Un-Edited: "Buying Gold Is Just Buying A Put Against The Idiocy Of The Political Cycle. It's That Simple!" (Zero Hedge).