Sunday, January 31, 2016

President Obama Orders The Pentagon To Make Guns Safer

Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times: Obama bucks history, directs Pentagon to make guns safer, not more lethal

Wartime U.S. presidents have taken keen personal interest in picking the most lethal gun for the military.

But in President Obama’s first foray into small-arms procurement for the armed forces, his Jan. 4 executive order on gun control directs the Pentagon to find ways to make not so much more lethal firearms, but safer ones.

His direct order has brought a few snickers among retired combatants who argue that the commander in chief is issuing his directive at a time of more pressing small-arms priorities. The military, critics say, fields a flawed personal rifle and has spent more than a decade selecting a new off-the-shelf pistol, with no winner yet.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The money quote ....

.... “Presidential involvement in small arms has been strategic and game-changing in our history,” said Mr. Scales, a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College. “Obama comes along and tells the Army that, in this administration, money is going into small arms to build — not a deadly weapon, not an effective weapon, not a dominant weapon, not a lifesaving weapon, not a technological cutting-edge weapon — but a weapon that prevents accidental discharge. Give me a break.”

Bowing To Pressure From the Burundi Government The African Union Will Not Send Peacekeepers To The Strife-Torn Nation

Reuters: Africans to press Burundi to accept peacekeepers - diplomats

The African Union will send a mission to troubled Burundi to press the government to accept a peacekeeping force after the president rejected such a move, a senior AU official said after a summit on Sunday.

African leaders, who held a two-day summit, may also ask the U.N. Security Council to exert pressure with a possible sanctions threat if it refuses, a senior Western diplomat who followed the proceedings told Reuters.

Officials said a final communique was awaiting clearance from African capitals. The senior official and diplomat were citing its main points before it was endorsed.

The AU's Peace and Security Council announced plans in December to deploy a 5,000-strong force, saying it could invoke an article of the AU's charter that allowed it to intervene whether or not the government agreed.

President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose bid for a third term angered opponents and sparked months of violence, rejected it.

Read more ....

More News On The African Union Not Sending Peacekeepers To The Strife-Torn Nation Of Burundi

African Union abandons plans to send peacekeepers to Burundi -- BBC
AU Summit Ends Without Burundi Action -- VOA
AU defers deployment of peacekeepers for Burundi -- The Guardian
AU force for Burundi on hold amid govt refusal -- The Nation
AU shelves proposal to deploy troops to Burundi -- DW
Crisis-torn Burundi's leaders should pursue dialogue, listen to concerns of their people – UN chief -- UN News Centre

Syrian Peace Talks Continue As The War Continues

New York Times: Syria Peace Talks Inch Ahead as Bloodshed Continues

GENEVA — As a suicide attack killed more than 40 people near a revered shrine in Syria on Sunday and government forces pummeled a besieged town, peace talks inched forward in Geneva, where a reluctant opposition delegation met for the first time with a United Nations mediator.

With that step, opposition delegates signaled new, if tenuous, hope that the Geneva talks could bring a modicum of progress on their immediate demands: an end to starvation sieges and indiscriminate bombings, and the release of prisoners.

There were signs that the Syrian government and opposition were exploring avenues for progress on those issues, even as the violence around the Syrian capital, Damascus, served as a reminder of the powerful forces opposing any compromise.

Read more ....

More News On The Syrian Peace Talks

Dozens killed by bombs in Syria, clouding UN peace session -- AP
Islamic State attack on Damascus shrine overshadows Syrian peace talks -- Sydney Morning Herald
Syria peace talks hit trouble after deadly Damascus blast -- France 24
Syrian Peace Talks Face High Hurdles as Conflict Rages Unabated -- Bloomberg
Discord intensifies at Syria talks after dozens killed in Damascus blasts -- The Guardian
Syria opposition considers U.N. offer after 'positive' talks -- Reuters
UN Envoy, Syrian Opposition Say Discussions 'Positive' -- VOA
Syria peace talks struggle as US says 'seize moment' -- AFP
Kerry urges Syrian peace talks to continue despite attack -- Reuters
Kerry: Syria conflict the worst since World War II -- CBS/AP

Remembering Abe Vigoda

WNU Editor: I just learned that he had past away .... Famed character actor Abe Vigoda recalled as a class act (AP). I will always remember him in the Godfather, and on the TV series Barney Miller.

China Is Reorganizing Its Military To Close The Gap With U.S. Capabilities

Wyatt Olson, Stars and Stripes: ANALYSIS: China reorganizing military to close gap with US

China’s armed forces are undergoing a sweeping five-year reorganization aimed at creating central control over the military’s nearly autonomous branches and creating a more lethal fighting force to close the gap with U.S. capabilities, analysts say.

The restructuring is the most profound undertaken since the 1950s when Soviet advisers helped modernize the nation’s post-civil war military, changes that will likely challenge long-held assumptions by the Pentagon, according to David M. Finkelstein, director of the China Studies division of CNA, a Washington, D.C.,-based research center.

The reorganization, which officially launched Jan. 1, will fundamentally redefine the roles, missions and authorities among the services — particularly the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA — and the Central Military Command, Finkelstein wrote in a paper released Friday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China will catch up to the U.S. military one day .... but I give it 20 - 25 more years.

A Podcast On How Much The Media Has Changed In Covering The Military And The Wars That It Is Engaged In

Image: U.S. Navy photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway

Paul Shinkman, David Wood, Nancy Youseff, And Ryan Evans, War On The Rocks: Journalism, The Military, And America's Wars

The relationship between journalists and the U.S. military is simultaneously intimate and distant. In the last several decades and the last two in particular, many things have changed in the way that journalists cover the military, but perhaps not as many as you think. Three defense and national security journalists of different generations joined Ryan Evans of War on the Rocks to talk about how covering the military has and has not changed over time:

* David Wood, the veteran, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at The Huffington Post
* Nancy Youssef, senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast
* Paul Shinkman, national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report

Have a listen!

Read more ....

WNU Editor: David Wood is someone that I have been following for the past 20 years. The other two .... Nancy Youssef and Paul Shinkman .... they have only been around for the past few years, but I find their work is "OK". As to what is my take on how has covering the military changed in the past few years .... I know that when I started this blog almost 10 years ago there were hundreds of milblogs, websites, and pundits discussing the military, the wars, and defense policy. Most of them were independent .... and they had passion in what they were doing. Today .... 90% of them are gone. The coverage is now isolated to only a few blogs, a few websites, and the traditional main-stream media/defense establishment coverage .... and that main-stream coverage is .... to put it bluntly ....  underwhelming.

It Appears That The CIA Is In The Practice Of Lying To Itself

The CIA seal is displayed in the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. (File Photo)

Washington Post: Eyewash’: How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operations

Senior CIA officials have for years intentionally deceived parts of the agency workforce by transmitting internal memos that contain false information about operations and sources overseas, according to current and former U.S. officials who said the practice is known by the term “eyewash.”

Agency veterans described the tactic as an infrequent but important security measure, a means of protecting vital secrets by inserting fake communications into routine cable traffic while using separate channels to convey accurate information to cleared recipients.

But others cited a significant potential for abuse. Beyond the internal distrust implied by the practice, officials said there is no clear mechanism for labeling eyewash cables or distinguishing them from legitimate records being examined by the CIA’s inspector general, turned over to Congress or declassified for historians.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have to wonder if other U.S. government agencies conduct themselves in the same manner.

Will Foreign Policy And National Security Be The Pathway For Hillary Clinton To The White House?

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shares a laugh with fellow candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders at the conclusion of the second official 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Des Moines, Iowa, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/JIM YOUNG

Molly O'Toole, Foreign Policy: Clinton’s Trying to Use Foreign Policy to Beat Sanders

Here's why it could backfire.

Heading into the home stretch of the unexpectedly close Iowa caucus, an anxious Hillary Clinton is increasingly wielding foreign policy and national security as a weapon against Bernie Sanders — an unexpected and high-risk approach that could backfire on the Democratic front-runner.

Early on in her campaign, Clinton kept her distance from a spate of global security crises that have beleaguered the second Obama administration. When polls first began tightening, Clinton and surrogates like her daughter, Chelsea, drilled down on domestic issues, accusing Sanders of being too close to the nation’s gun-makers and questioning his commitment to universal health care. Now, with Clinton leading narrowly in Iowa but Sanders leading by large margins in New Hampshire, she is taking a different tack, hammering him for his alleged naiveté on Iran, Russia, and other hot-button issues. Clinton calls it the “let’s get real” period.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am surprised by this focus on Bernie Sanders from the Clinton camp. Grant you that she does have problems in Iowa and New Hampshire, but her electoral position in the other states is  solid, and she has the support of the Democrat establishment. My guess is that her internal polling is telling her that her foreign policy and national security positions are a plus .... and that she should run on this platform. I am personal sceptical that it will work .... but the Iowa caucus is tomorrow .... and we will know by then if this was a smart strategy.

The Trump Doctrine

Businessman and Republican candidate for president Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a campaign event in Laconia, New Hampshire, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/DOMINICK REUTER

Josh Rogin, Bloomberg: The Trump Doctrine Revealed

The whole world is struggling to decipher the worldview and guiding principles Donald Trump would apply as president. It may not be a prominent feature of his campaign, but his advisers say he does have a doctrine that informs his positions on foreign policy and national security.

Some leading foreign policy pundits are convinced Trump is shooting from the hip on foreign policy, making up glib answers to serious questions like how to defeat the Islamic State or deal with an aggressive Vladimir Putin. Top Republican national security officials who advise other candidates routinely tell reporters they have not heard from the Trump campaign, which leads them to believe he has not sought any expert input before his provocative statements, like lashing out against China or Saudi Arabia.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Too early to clearly define what is the Donald Trump doctrine. If he wins the nomination is probably when we will learn more on how he sees foreign policy aside from the usual campaign rhetoric .... at least that is what everyone is hoping for.

Editor's Note

Blogging will return later this evening.

The Zika Virus Is Becoming The Worst Crisis In The Americas

Miami Herald: Zika swamps Venezuela’s ailing healthcare system

* As zika swamps Venezuela, authorities remain silent
* Congress calls the faltering healthcare system a ‘humanitarian crisis’
* Likely worst crisis in the Americas

MARACAIBO, VENEZUELA: When Yelitza Oberto’s legs started cramping a few days before New Years, she thought she was paying the price for standing in line for hours to get a car battery in her lack-of-everything Venezuela.

It soon turned out she had the virus of the moment: Zika. No drug would alleviate her fever, headache, skin rash and painful joints. By January, she couldn’t even walk by herself. 

Oberto was taken to the Maracaibo University Hospital, the largest public health facility in western Venezuela, where she was rushed to the ICU. There are currently 26 other patients like Oberto in intensive care at the hospital alone. One of them is a 17-year-old woman partially paralyzed.

The latest crisis to swamp Venezuela’s struggling healthcare system is being carried by an army off mosquitoes. Venezuela’s emergency rooms are filling up with Zika patients. Brazil has received international attention for Zika infections there but some civil society groups and medical organizations say that with hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans suffering from the virus, the country may be facing the worst Zika crisis in the Americas.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The focus in the above article is on Venezuela and its inability to counter the impact of the Zika virus. But truth be told .... no one is prepared for this crisis .... and it is spreading quickly.

Former CIA Director And Defense Secretary Robert Gates: 'The U.S. Has No Global Strategy'

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates conducts a press conference at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, April 19, 2007. Gates is accompanied by, from left, Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multi-National Forces - Iraq; Maj. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin, commander of Multi-National Forces - Iraq West; Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command; Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace. Wikipedia

Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ: The U.S. Has No Global Strategy

The former defense secretary on U.S. gains forfeited in Iraq, America’s rudderless foreign policy and the ‘completely unrealistic’ Donald Trump.

Many Americans probably had misgivings when U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, but even the most pessimistic must be surprised at how quickly things went south.

Turn on the TV news: Western Iraq, including the Sunni triangle that the U.S. once worked so hard to pacify, is in the hands of a terrorist group, Islamic State, radiating attacks as far as Paris, Jakarta and San Bernardino, Calif.

The battlefield where the U.S. spent most of its blood has become swept up into the chaos of next-door Syria. Refugees from the region are destabilizing Europe. Proxy forces, shadowy groups and national armies representing half a dozen countries are fighting on the ground and in the air. The world seems one incident away from World War III in the vacuum U.S. troops left behind—as when NATO member Turkey recently shot down a Russian jet.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates occasionally meets veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars in his travels. What their effort bought seldom comes up. “We don’t really talk about where we are today,” he says. “You have to assume it’s very painful for a Marine who lost a buddy in Fallujah to see an outfit like ISIS in charge of Fallujah again. Was the sacrifice worth it?”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Robert gates has been a critic of the Obama administration since his retirement .... Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Provides A Harsh Critique Of President Obama In His Memoir. And while he is probably right that current U.S. foreign policy is "rudderless" .... he was also in the thick of it when much of it was formulated and implemented.

Russia's Campaign In Syria Is Forcing NATO To Reassess Russian Capabilities

Kim Sengupta, The Independent: War in Syria: Russia’s 'rustbucket' military delivers a hi-tech shock to West and Israel

As the Kremlin showcases its military capabilities in Syria, Kim Sengupta says Nato leaders are having to reassess.

Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”. For decades, this was Western military leaders’ view, steeped in condescension, of their Russian counterparts. What they have seen in Syria and Ukraine has come as a shock.

Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month. The Russian navy has launched ballistic missiles from the Caspian Sea 900 miles way, and kept supply lines going to Syria. The air defences installed by the Russians in Syria and eastern Ukraine would make it extremely hazardous for the West to carry out strikes against the Assad regime or Ukrainian separatists.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia's capabilities have been known for a long time. The difference is that Russia is focused on the Syrian war .... NATO, the U.S., our Arab allies, Turkey .... they are all focused elsewhere with different agendas and priorities. In short .... there is no leadership.

Cheap Oil Will Not Impact Arms Purchases From Oil Producing Nations

Defense News: Cheap Oil Doesn't Dampen Industry's 2016 Outlook

WASHINGTON — Despite plummeting oil prices, international demand for defense products remains strong, including in the oil-rich Middle East, multiple defense executives said during fourth quarter earnings calls last week.

On call after call, analysts pressed management at top defense firms about the impact of low oil prices on their outlook for 2016. The general consensus was that international markets will continue to present an opportunity for organic growth.

Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin’s president, chairman and CEO, said over the next five years, she expects half of F-35 sales to come from the international market.

"We are not seeing a lot of pullback on expenditures on national security” because of oil prices, she said. Lower oil revenues can put pressure on nation’s budgets, “but they are still going to buy the products and capabilities and technologies they need to enable them to protect their citizens and to deal with their security issues.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These defense executives feel very confident that the "boom times" will continue.

Can The U.S. Stop A North Korean Missile Attack Against The U.S.?

Korea Times

Dave Majumdar, National Interest: Can America Stop a North Korean ICBM Aimed at Los Angeles?

North Korea looks set to conduct a space launch in the near future. But while space launch capability is not a threat in and of itself, the same technology could be used to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—one with the potential to hit major cities in the continental United States. For example, North Korea's Unha-3—which might have an range as great as 6,000 miles—could theoretically hit targets as far away as Los Angeles. Moreover, Pyongyang—which recently tested what appears to be a boosted fission bomb—brags that it already has the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to fit atop an ICBM. Some U.S. officials agree with that assessment.

“I believe they have the capability to have miniaturized a device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, told reporters in October 2014. “We have not seen it tested. And I don’t think as a commander we can afford the luxury of believing perhaps they haven’t gotten there.”

Read more ....

Update: What Could the US Do to Stop a North Korean ICBM Attack? (Space Daily/Sputnik).

WNU Editor: U.S. concerns on North Korea's growing missile and nuclear ambitions were voiced repeatedly last year .... Top U.S. Admiral: North Korea Is Capable Of A Nuclear Strike On The U.S.. Couple this with reports from South Korea that the North wants to have a ballistic missile that can reach the U.S. .... NK's ultimate goal is to target US mainland (Korea Times), everyone is now becoming nervous. But as to the question "can the U.S. stop a surprised North Korean missile attack against the U.S." .... I am doubtful .... especially if it is a surprised launch with multiple missiles. Fortunately .... we are still far away from that, but now is the time to have a debate on what to do about it.

Japan Sets Up Anti-Air Missiles In Tokyo. Military Has Been Ordered To Destroy North Korean Missile If Launched

Units of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles stand at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo January 29, 2016. © Kyodo / Reuters

RT: Japan sets up anti-air missiles in Tokyo to boost defense against N. Korea

Japan says it has deployed two Patriot missile interceptors in Tokyo to counter North Korea’s activity. The deployment comes amid reports that Pyongyang is preparing for a space rocket launch.

Two ground-to-air Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) launchers were installed near the Defense Ministry’s headquarters on Saturday morning, according to the Japan News website. The Ministry said they had been set up as a safeguard in case it became necessary to shoot down a North Korean missile or any debris that might fall from one onto Japanese territory.

Read more ....

More News On Japan Preparing For A North Korean Missile Launch

Japan orders military to prepare to destroy N. Korea missile: reports -- AFP
Japan orders military to be ready to destroy North Korean missiles aimed at it -- IBTimes
Japan orders military to destroy N Korean missile -- Press TV
Japanese Aegis ship leaves on likely mission to monitor possible North Korean missile launch -- Japan Times

Boko Haram Launches Massive Attack On The Nigerian City Of Maiduguri

Breitbart: Boko Haram Jihadis Burn Children Alive, Slay Over 100 Villagers in Nigeria Massacre

In one of their most heinous massacres to date, militants from the radical Islamist Boko Haram group slaughtered over a hundred victims in a village in northeast Nigeria Saturday night, including a number of children whom they burned alive.

The latest atrocity from the jihadi group allied to the Islamic State took place in the village of Dalori, some three miles from Maiduguri, Nigeria. Vice Chairman of a civilian joint task force in Dalori, Modu Kaka, said that at least 100 dead bodies were taken away but that hundreds are still missing.

Witnesses spoke of “scores of bodies” burned and riddled with bullets lying in the streets after the attack Saturday night. One man, who managed to escape by hiding in a tree, said that he could hear the wails of children screaming in the flames.

Read more ....

More News On Boko Haram's Attack On The Nigerian City Of Maiduguri

Boko Haram burns kids alive in northeast Nigeria: witness -- AP
Scores feared dead in Boko Haram attack near Maiduguri -- AFP
At least 65 people killed in attack in Nigeria's Maiduguri city -- Reuters
Boko Haram burn children to death in attack on village in north-eastern Nigeria -- The Independent
Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Borno Village -- Trust
Scores killed in Boko Haram attack on Dalori Village, Borno -- Premium Times
Latest Boko Haram massacres mark sad new low for group -- AP

Iran’s Supreme Leader Gives Medals For The Capture Of U.S. Sailors

An undated picture released by Iran's Revolutionary Guards website shows American sailors sitting in a unknown place in Iran. REUTERS/SEPAHNEWS.IR/TIMA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

Trend: Iran’s Supreme Leader awards IRGC navy commanders

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei awarded medals to IRGC naval commanders, following the recent arrest of US marines who trespassed into Iran’s territorial waters.

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC Navy, as well as four other IRGC navy commanders received Medals of “Fath" (Conquer) from Khamenei on Jan. 31, the leader’s official website reported.

Khamenei further agreed on rank promotion of the IRGC staff, involved in the operation over the request of the Armed Forces General Command Headquarters.

Read more ....

Update: Iran gives medals for capture of U.S. sailors (Reuters).

WNU Editor: Talk about sticking it in the eye of the Americans.

Is John Kerry About To Be Swept-Up In Hillary Clinton's Email Scandal?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks at his phone as he leaves a meeting in Vienna on Friday. LEONHARD FOEGER / REUTERS /LANDOV

Daily Caller: State Dept. Records Show John Kerry Sent Hillary A ‘SECRET’ Email From His iPad

Emails released by the State Department on Friday show that in 2011, then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry sent then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton an email from his iPad that has been deemed to contain information classified as “Secret.”

While previous releases of Clinton’s emails have shown that she and her staff communicated directly with Kerry when he was a senator, the new email is the first from Kerry that the State Department has determined contains sensitive information.

Kerry has largely been silent throughout the Clinton email controversy. He has sent letters asking the State Department’s inspector general to review the agency’s records keeping practices, but he has not publicly criticized Clinton for exclusively using a personal email account and a home-brew email server.

Perhaps now we know why.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: John Kerry did not have a private server (that we know so far) .... so his handling of  information (while still questionable) is not as serious as Hillary Clinton's. But this lack of sensitivity within the State Department on how communications should be handled is appalling. When I worked in the foreign office .... this type of handling would have gotten me fired and/or worst. It was always drummed in our heads that our communications were always being monitored and analysed, and that precautions and only secured networks were to be used .... a concept that appears to be foreign in the State Department .... starting with the people at the top. In the meantime .... even the New York Times (who has just endorsed Hillary Clinton to be the Democrat nominee for President) are having trouble explaining her email use .... 22 Clinton Emails Deemed Too Classified to Be Made Public (NYT).

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Look At Some Very Expensive Projects That Were Abandoned By The U.S. MIlitary

A prototype of the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon, a component of the Future Combat Systems.

Jeremy Bender, Business Insider: 15 of the most expensive projects abandoned by the US military

The US military is unquestionably the world's strongest force with the world's largest defense budget.

But throughout the 2000s, the Pentagon spent $51.2 billion on 15 major programs "without any fielded systems to show for it," according to a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report.

The abandoned projects are largely due to a lack of funding attributed to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Future Combat Systems was a good idea .... that just could not work.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Refugees Must Return Home Once War Is Over

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacts as she addresses a news conference after a meeting with state premiers at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH

Reuters: Germany's Merkel says refugees must return home once war is over

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried on Saturday to placate the increasingly vocal critics of her open-door policy for refugees by insisting that most refugees from Syria and Iraq would go home once the conflicts there had ended.

Despite appearing increasingly isolated, Merkel has resisted pressure from some conservatives to cap the influx of refugees, or to close Germany's borders.

Support for her conservative bloc has slipped as concerns mount about how Germany will integrate the 1.1 million migrants who arrived last year, while crime and security are also in the spotlight after a wave of assaults on women in Cologne at New Year by men of north African and Arab appearance.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Most of the refugees in Germany are there because of economic reasons .... not war. As to her comment that most of the refugees from Syria and Iraq would go home once the conflicts there had ended .... she is fooling no one. Syria and Iraq are failed states that are experiencing war and destruction on a massive scale. It is going to take years (if not decades) for this mess to sort itself out, and the last thing that a "refugee" in Germany will want to do is give up his or hers comfortable (and safe) existence in Europe for a hell-hole in Syria or Iraq.

Update: This is going to get worse .... 'Hundreds-strong' mob of masked men rampage through Stockholm station beating up refugee children in revenge attack for female asylum centre worker killed by Somali 'boy' (Daily Mail).

Turkey Accuses Russia Of Violating Its Airspace Near The Syria Border Again

Reuters: Turkey says Russian jet violated its airspace again, warns of consequences

Turkey warned of consequences on Saturday after saying a Russian SU-34 jet had violated its airspace despite warnings, once more stoking tensions between two countries involved in Syria's war, but Russia denied that there had been any incursion.

In a similar incident in November, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane flying a sortie over Syria that it said had violated its airspace, triggering a diplomatic rupture in which Russia imposed economic sanctions.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov denied that any Russian plane had entered Turkish airspace, and called the Turkish allegation "pure propaganda".

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia is denying these Turkish claims .... Russia denies that its military jets violated Turkish airspace (Reuters).

More News On Turkey Accusing Russia Of Violating Its Airspace Near The Syria Border Again

Turkey says Russia violated its airspace near Syria border -- BBC
Turkey accuses Russia of new airspace violation -- France 24
Turkey issues warning to Russia, claiming airspace violation -- Washington Post/AP
Turkey Says Russia Violated Its Airspace Again -- WSJ
Turkey says another Russian jet has invaded airspace despite warnings -- The Guardian
Turkey condemns Russia for violating airspace -- UPI
Turkey says Russia violated its airspace, Erdogan calls for meeting with Putin -- Euronews
Turkey says Russia violated airspace, summons ambassador -- CNN
Turkey warns Russia they 'face consequences' after fresh airspace violations -- IBTimes
Erdogan warns Russia after 'violation' of Turkish airspace -- DW
Turkey, Russia in fresh row over airspace violations -- The News
Turkey says Su-34 violated airspace, Moscow shrugs off report as ‘propaganda’ -- RT
NATO Calls for ‘Calm, De-Escalation’ From Russia and Turkey -- Bloomberg
Another Russian jet in Turkish airspace: What is Russia's strategy? -- Jason Thomson, CSM

Japan Unveils Its New 5th Generation Stealth Fighter Jet

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Advanced Technology Demonstrator - Experimental (ATD-X) fifth-generation fighter technology demonstrator being presented to Japanese media on 28 January. A first flight is expected shortly. Source: JiJi Press/YouTube

The Diplomat: Japan Unveils New 5th Generation Stealth Fighter Jet

Tokyo’s first domestically produced stealth fighter prototype was unveiled to the media this week.

This Thursday, Japan’s new Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency revealed the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Advanced Technology Demonstrator – Experimental (ATD-X) fifth-generation fighter technology demonstrator, now dubbed X-2 and unofficially named ‘ShinShin,’ to the media at a heavily guarded hangar at a regional airport near the city of Komaki, in Aichi Prefecture. It has previously been showcased once already in May 2014.

The X-2 is the country’s first domestically produced full-scale test model—a technology demonstrator—of a new indigenous stealth fighter jet design, which has been under development at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant in Toyoyama since 2009, with total program costs estimated at 39.4 billion yen (around $331 million).

Read more ....

More News On Japan Unveiling Its New 5th Generation Stealth Fighter Jet

ATD-X to spur Japan’s advanced fighter research -- Flight Global
Japan prepares for ATD-X maiden flight -- IHS Jane's 360
Japan's X-2 Aircraft Could Join the World Stealth Fighter Race -- Defense World
Japan's 5th Generation Stealth Fighter to Take Off Next Month -- Sputnik
Japan’s 5th Generation Stealth Fighter to Make Maiden Flight in Early 2016 -- Next Big Future

China Claims U.S. Destroyer Was ‘Driven Off’ From Disputed South China Sea Island

Washington Free Beacon: Pentagon Conducts Warship Passage Near Disputed Island

China claims U.S. destroyer ‘driven off’

A U.S. Navy destroyer carried out a second transit near a disputed South China Sea island claimed by China and two other nations, the Pentagon announced Saturday.

China’s Defense Ministry denounced the warship transit and said its forces had forced the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur out of the area.

Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban said the freedom of navigation operation by the Wilbur took place Saturday near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands chain in the northern part of the sea “to challenge excessive maritime claims.”

“This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas,” Urban said in a statement.

The Wilbur, a guided missile destroyer, passed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island.

Read more ....

Previous Post: U.S. Warship Sails Near Island Claimed By China In The South China Sea

More News On Chinese Claims That A U.S. Destroyer Was ‘Driven Off’ From Disputed South China Sea Island

PLA garrison ‘warns off’ US Navy destroyer sailing close to island in disputed area of South China Sea -- South China Morning Post
China Warns over US Warship Intruding Xisha Islands -- CRIEnglish
China urges U.S. not to undermine mutual trust -- Xinhaunet
Beijing Cautions Washington Over Position on Diaoyu Islands Following U.S. Commander's Remark -- China Topix
Chinese DM spokesman: Astonished by Harris's remarks on the S. China Sea -- Xinhuanet
Beijing Protests US Sail-By in South China Sea -- VOA
China Strongly Condemns US for Sending Warship to South China Sea -- Sputnik
China Strongly Condemns US for Sending Warship Near Island -- NYT/AP

Pentagon Will Not Demote Retired General David Petraeus

Reuters: Retired general, ex-CIA chief David Petraeus to receive no further punishment

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has decided not to impose further punishment on David Petraeus, a former U.S. military commander and CIA director who admitted sharing classified information with his mistress, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The short letter was sent by Stephen Hedger, the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, and the decision is in line with an Army review.

Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA in 2012 after it was revealed that he was having an affair with his biographer, Army Reserve officer Paula Broadwell. When he pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information, a court document signed by Petraeus and prosecutors said that in 2011, Petraeus illegally gave Broadwell access to official binders.

Read more ....

More News On The Pentagon NOT Demoting Retired general Petraeus

No further punishment for Petraus -- Washington Post
Pentagon won’t demote Petraeus -- The Hill
Retired Army general David Petraeus who resigned over sex-and-secrets scandal won't be demoted or face any discipline from the military -- Daily Mail
Pentagon tells Senate it won’t demote retired Gen. Petraeus -- AP
Pentagon won't demote Petraeus for sharing classified information -- USA Today
No Demotion for Retired General Petraeus -- VOA
Petreaus Will Not Be Demoted For Leaking Classified Info -- IBTimes
Read the Pentagon letter saying David Petraeus will not receive further punishment -- Washington Post

A Look At The 'Night Wolves', Russia's Number One Motorcycle Gang

Vladimir Putin rides with Alexander Zaldostanov, leader of Nochniye Volki (the Night Wolves) biker group(REUTERS/Ivan Sekretarev)

The Guardian: Putin’s Angels: the bikers battling for Russia in Ukraine

They were anarchic petrolheads and now they’re the Russian president’s henchmen: meet the Night Wolves, Moscow’s most infamous motorcycle gang.

A rumble of artillery prompts the biker gang to pause inside their stronghold. It has been some time since the rebel-held city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, on the war-torn fringes of Europe, has witnessed any frontline action. An explosion sends pulses racing. “Finally,” grins one of the men. “We’re going to fight.”

But, with a large gathering fast approaching, the bikers soon put themselves back to work. After all, their stage is not going to build itself. Their magical oak tree stands unfinished; a phoenix costume needs its full, resplendent plumage.

Such are the confounding contrasts among the Luhansk chapter of the Night Wolves, Russia’s largest and most infamous motorcycle club. The men now busily constructing a winter wonderland for the children of this battle-scarred city are the same bearded, tattooed bikers who inject extreme, flag-waving nationalism into motorcycle rallies, who fight alongside Russian-backed, separatist militias, and deride the “Satanism” of the west.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Night Wolves started in the early 1990s .... long before Putin came on the scene. I am not surprised that Russian President Putin has embraced them .... the dream of a lot of Russian men is to own a motorcycle and to be immersed in that sub-culture .... they are also a large voting bloc .... a fact that Putin is well aware of. On a personal note .... I gave up on my bike a long time ago.

Kremlin Furious Over U.S. Accusations That Putin Is Corrupt

© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

TASS: Putin considers US corruption accusations against him unacceptable — Kremlin

On January 28 US White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that US Treasury Adam Szubin’s statements on Putin’s alleged involvement in corruption reflect the view of the US Administration

MOSCOW, January 29. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin knows about Washington’s accusations against him and considers them unacceptable, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

"Of course, the president is familiar with those statements. He also considers them to be absolutely unacceptable and inappropriate for such high-ranking officials from the United States," Peskov said answering a TASS question.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: U.S. Treasury accusations that Russian President Putin is corrupt has dominated Russian social media for the past few days .... and as predicted the Kremlin is reacting with anger.

More News ON Kremlin Anger Over U.S. Accusations That Putin Is Corrupt

White House accusations aimed at Putin are insults – Kremlin spokesman -- RT
Kremlin attacks White House for backing claims that Putin is corrupt -- The Guardian/AFP
Kremlin waits for explanation from US officials on corruption accusations against Putin -- TASS
Kremlin Demands Explanation for ‘Outrageous’ U.S. Remarks About Putin -- NYT
Kremlin: By Accusing Putin of Corruption, U.S. Seeks to Influence Russia Election -- Haaretz
Lavrov in talks with Kerry expressed indignation over US corruption accusations -- TASS
‘Trumped-up, brazen’: Lavrov slams accusation that Putin is corrupt in phone call with Kerry -- RT

Editor's Note

Blogging will return later this evening.

On a personal note, this is where I am in my life right now .... :)

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Update: I got a couple of emails wondering if I have broken up with the GF. Nothing of the sort .... in the past few days she has been sending me signals that she needs a "rock" .... and when I saw the above cartoon this morning I could not resist. :)

I met the GF when I was working for the UN at ICAO 25 years. She went her way .... I went my way .... but we always maintained contact because we always enjoyed each other's company and conversation. Over the years we became best friends .... and now we are something more than just that. And there is a dog in this story .... he is a Rottie .... but if given a choice he always prefers to stay with her.

Sighhh .... I just can't win.

Pentagon Advises The White House That They Need More Troops In Iraq And Syria To Wage War Against The Islamic State

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington, June 8, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

Washington Times: Pentagon tells White House: More troops in Iraq, Syria needed to fight ISIS

Hundreds of additional forces including trainers, advisers and commandos are needed in the fight against the Islamic State, Pentagon top brass has conceded, prompting Department of Defense officials to urge the White House to approve further deployments to Iraq and Syria in the coming weeks.

Defense Department officials told the White House that the U.S.-led effort to destroy the Islamic State requires still more manpower in addition to the roughly 3,700 American troops already in Iraq, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Citing senior White House and Pentagon sources, The Times said the officials determined hundreds more military experts are needed in the region to take on the terror group, with one suggesting that the number of troops increases to 4,500.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I will be surprised if President Obama acquiesces to this Pentagon request .... especially since Iraqi forces and militias have been making forward progress against the Islamic State (the conflict in Syria is another story). But this is an election year .... and one thing I learned about Presidential elections .... anything and everything is possible when it comes to foreign policy decisions.

AP News: President Obama Rethinking U.S. Troop Numbers In Afghanistan

Obama having a meeting in the Situation Room on Dec. 7, 2012. (Photo: Pete Souza/White House)

WNU Editor: The AP story is here .... Obama forced again to rethink troop numbers in Afghanistan (AP). The big concern in the White House is not delaying the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan .... the big concern is will they be forced to increase US troop numbers this summer in the face of a growing Taliban (and now) ISIS insurgency .... Next Top American Commander In Afghanistan: 'Security Situation Is Deteriorating'.

Reporter: U.S. DOJ And FBI "SUPER PISSED OFF" At The White House Over Clinton Investigation

WNU Editor: Catherine Herridge sums it up bluntly in the above video clip. What's my take .... White Press Secretary Josh Earnest should not have told reporters on Friday that "officials at the FBI are saying that Hillary Clinton is not a target of the current investigation". ... especially when reporters who are following this case are being told otherwise by the same officials .... Halperin on Clinton Emails: My WH and FBI Sources Say ‘Something’s Going to Happen’ (Mediaite). Bottom line .... this is not good. And the fact that a number of Hillary Clinton's emails were classified yesterday by the US government as beyond top secret and not suitable for public release .... this does not bode well for her legally. On a side note .... this story is not only limited to the American press .... it is now starting to pick up traction in places like Russia and China.

Update: Someone just emailed me a good point .... Why is the White House in the middle of this investigation? Who is briefing them, and what are they telling President Obama?

CIA Releases Their Own Version Of The X-Files

FOX News: Real-life 'X-Files'? CIA posts trove of UFO documents

The truth is out there – the CIA is offering a peek into its ‘X-files,’ shining a spotlight on a series of once-classified UFO documents.

“To help navigate the vast amount of data contained in our FOIA UFO collection, we’ve decided to highlight a few documents both skeptics and believers will find interesting,” explained the agency, in a blog post.

The UFO documents, which date primarily from the 1940s and 1950s, are among hundreds that the CIA declassified in 1978.

In a nod to Fox’s new “X-Files” series, the agency highlights “five documents we think X-Files character Agent Fox Mulder would love to use to try and persuade others of the existence of extraterrestrial activity.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The truth is out there. :)

More News On The CIA Releasing Their Own Version Of The X-Files

The truth really IS out there: CIA releases thousands of declassified 'X-files' on aliens, flying saucers and other unexplained phenomena -- Daily Mail
Take a peek into the CIA's 'X-Files' -- CNN
UFO sightings: CIA releases classified X-Files that would attract agents Mulder and Scully -- IBTimes
The CIA Just Released Its Own (Real) Version of the X-Files -- Esquire
How to find a flying saucer: CIA reveals how to carry out your own X-Files investigation into unexplained phenomenon -- Daily Mail

U.S. Democrats Accuse Their Fellow Republicans Of 'Lying Through Their Teeth' On Ending The Iran Deal

The Hill: Dem: Republicans 'lying through their teeth' about ending Iran deal

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) suggested the Republican presidential field wouldn't go back on the Iranian nuclear deal if they win the White House, despite widespread opposition.

"I just do not believe that any of these Republican candidates are sincere. I think they are absolutely lying through their teeth when they say they are going to rip up this agreement," he said at a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York Friday.

He said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was "at the top of the list" for Republican candidates who wouldn't end the agreement.

"Marco Rubio knows better. He is not going to rip up this deal when he becomes president and he knows it," he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Iranian nuclear agreement is a done deal .... no one is going to change it. What we are seeing now is politics and politicians trying to cater to their base.

A Russian Fighter Jet Flew Closer To A U.S. Air Force Spy Plane Than Originally Reported

CNN: Russian fighter came within 15 feet of U.S. Air Force jet

(CNN)A Russian fighter jet came within 15 feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea this week in what the Pentagon is calling an "unsafe" incident, U.S. officials say.

"On January 25, 2016, a U.S. RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner. We are looking into this particular incident," said a statement from Army Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, a Defense Department spokesperson.

Another U.S. military official told CNN that the Russian jet flew along the right side the U.S. plane then turned away in a maneuver that had an adverse impact on the "controllability of the U.S. aircraft." The official did not know if the Russian aircraft was armed at the time. The official said the incident occurred more than 40 miles from the Russian coast.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: 15 feet .... if this report is true .... it is definitely a close and dangerous intercept. The Russian reaction to these reports has been this .... Russian fighter jet intercepts US recon aircraft over Black Sea ‘in unsafe manner’– Navy (RT). And this is why they are not happy ....

.... Russian defense officials have reported a drastic increase in US surveillance flights near Russia’s borders since 2014. “US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft carry out flights almost daily,” Colonel General Viktor Bondarev, commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Space Forces said in late 2014, adding that “in 2014, more than 140 RC-135 flights have taken place compared to 22 flights in 2013.”

My gut is telling me that this Russian pilot was ordered to scare the beejeesus out of this US Air Force crew .... and that order came from the top.

More News On Reports That A Russian Fighter Jet Flew Closer To A U.S. Air Force Spy Plane Than Originally Reported

Pentagon: Russian jet flew too close to U.S. Air Force spy plane -- Air Force Times
Russian jet flies within 15 feet of US spy plane -- The Hill
Russian Fighter Jet Came Within 15 Feet of US Air Force Plane, US Officials Say -- ABC News
Russian Su-27 Jet Fighter Intercepts US Spy Plane Over Black Sea In Close Call Encounter -- IBTimes
Russian Su-27 buzzes U.S. RC-135U spyplane. Once again. -- The Aviationist

U.S. Warship Sails Near Island Claimed By China In The South China Sea

USS Curtis Wilbur -- a guided missile destroyer -- sailed near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands (AFP Photo/John Sullivan)

CNN: U.S. Navy sends ship near disputed island in South China Sea

(CNN)The U.S. Navy sent a ship near a contested island in the South China Sea on Saturday to challenge "excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others," a U.S. Defense Department spokesman told CNN.

"This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas," Cmdr. Bill Urban said.

"This operation demonstrates, as President Obama and Secretary [Ash] Carter have stated, the United States will fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows. That is true in the South China Sea, as in other places around the globe."

The USS Curtis Wilbur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands -- an archipelago claimed by the three.

None of them was notified of the move.

Read more ....

More News On A U.S. Warship Sailing Near An Island Claimed By China In The South China Sea

US warship sailed in waters off island claimed by China: Pentagon-- AFP
U.S. warship sails near island claimed by China in South China Sea -- Reuters
U.S. missile destroyer sailed close to island claimed by China -- Washington Post
US warship sails near disputed island in South China Sea -- AP
Navy challenges China, others in South China Sea -- USA Today
U.S. Navy ship tests claim on island made by China, others -- UPI

Latin America's Political And Economic Problems Aid In The Spread Of The Zika Virus

Financial Times: Zika virus: Latin America’s ills compound crisis

Mosquito-borne disease finds fertile ground in economic and political dysfunction

Isla de León, a slum on the outskirts of Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is a lesson in how to manufacture and transmit the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Ramshackle hovels with dirt floors, crooked wooden walls and zinc roofs line sun-baked unpaved streets. In the rainy season, conditions resemble the swamp on which the neighbourhood was built.

“Of course the mosquitoes are a problem, especially at night,” says Ingrid Tordecillos, 24, pointing at the pools of green water that flank her house, where flies skate across the surfaces.

She has already suffered from three attacks of Zika and two of her three children have fallen ill from the virus, which has been linked to devastating birth defects and neurological problems in adults.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This crisis is going to devastate the tourism industry in these countries. The press is focused on the health concerns (as they should) .... but as this virus spreads the impact will become economic, and then political.

Venezuela Is On The Brink Of A Complete And Utter Economic Collapse

Customers line up to enter a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Washington Post: The only question now is whether Venezuela's government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is "completely." Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela's ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it's hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever. Incumbents, after all, don't tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It's no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

That's not an easy thing to do when you have the largest oil reserves in the world, but Venezuela has managed it. How? Well, a combination of bad luck and worse policies. The first step was when Hugo Chávez's socialist government started spending more money on the poor, with everything from two-cent gasoline to free housing. Now, there's nothing wrong with that — in fact, it's a good idea in general — but only as long as you actually, well, have the money to spend. And by 2005 or so, Venezuela didn't.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A textbook example on the pitfalls of Socialism. In my case .... lived under it for far too long .... glad to be away from it. In the case of Venezuela .... I pity the poor and the elderly .... they are going to suffer even more in the months and years to come.

Illegally Climbing Egypt's Great Pyramid

USA Today: Teen illegally scales Egypt's Great Pyramid

(NEWSER) – "I can't describe it in words … It was really unbelievable for me. It was absolutely amazing." That's how 18-year-old Andrej Ciesielski describes his incredible, yet illegal, climb to the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza in broad daylight on Jan. 18.

The German tourist, who writes about the experience on his blog, says he first visited Cairo before hiring a taxi to take him to Giza. Though climbing the oldest and largest of the three pyramids could result in a three-year jail term, or something far worse if he lost his footing, "I thought the photos would be worth it," Ciesielski says, per the Telegraph.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Yup .... one of the things on my "bucket list".

Why The U.S. Military Wants An Iron Man Suit

Anna Mulrine, CSM: Why does the Pentagon need an Iron Man suit?

SHIFTS IN THOUGHT The Pentagon isn't afraid to spend money on technology. But recent requests by Special Operations generals have an imminently practical element and speak to the evolving nature of American war fighting.

WASHINGTON — When the head of United States Special Operations Command said recently that he hopes his troops will someday soon be wearing super-light, super-strong exoseletons known affectionately as “Iron Man” suits, it might have sounded like a bit of classic Pentagon excess.

Cool, but outrageously expensive and a bit of a luxury item.

Then Special Forces Operatives like Paul Scharre share their experiences – in Mr. Scharre's case of coming upon a nest of Taliban at dawn in the mountains of Afghanistan – and the request begins to make more sense.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The applications for this tech are huge.

Boeing Has Won The Contract To Build Two Air Force One Presidential Jets

Reuters: Boeing wins contract to build new Air Force One presidential jets

Boeing Co (BA.N) has won a contract to start preliminary work on a new fleet of Air Force One presidential aircraft based on its 747-8 jumbo jet, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing an initial contract worth $25.8 million to reduce risk and lower the cost of the program by looking at the tradeoffs between the requirements and design of the new plane, according to the Pentagon's daily digest of arms deals.

Details about the total value of the new contract have not been released, but the Air Force has previously said that it had earmarked $1.65 billion for two replacement jets.

The Air Force first announced in January 2015 that Boeing's 747-8 would be used to replace the two current Air Force planes used to transport the U.S. president. Air Force One is one of the most visible symbols of the United States.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They get better with each generation of Air Force One .... I can only imagine what this version will be having.

:Tweet For Today

U.S. Announces A Suucesful Test Of An 'Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle' Designed To Crash Into Incoming Missiles

The Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) is the next-generation, cost-effective solution that will leverage mature, proven components to simplify design and improve reliability. From drawing board to deployment, Raytheon is the only company with the unique technical talent, proven success and infrastructure to deliver a simpler, easier-to-produce next generation kill vehicle with a significant reduction in cost.

Daily Mail: 'Exoatmospheric kill vehicle' designed to crash into nuclear missiles heading for the US tested over California

* Long-range interceptor blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base
* Was testing thrusters on the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle
* Craft designed to crash into enemy missiles and destroy them
* Later this year will try to destroy an intercontinental ballistic missile

A missile defense rocket designed to smash incoming missiles out of the sky has been successfully launched from a military base in Central California.

Authorities say a long-range interceptor blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The launch was testing thrusters on the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, which is designed to crash into enemy missiles and destroy them.

Read more ....

More News On A Recent U.S. 'Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle' Test

Homeland Missile Defense System Successful in Non-Intercept Flight Test -- Defense News
Raytheon, MDA test new thruster for EKV missile -- UPI
US missile defense system successfully tested effectiveness of redesigned "kill vehicle" -- Reuters
Rocket Launched In California To Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Thrusters -- CBS
Boeing, Northrop Grumman conduct missile system flight test -- UPI
Flight Test Evaluates New Thrusters for the Ground-Based Interceptor -- Defense Update
Test of U.S. missile shield upgrade called successful -- Examiner

Picture Of The Day

An Air Force F-22 Raptor flies over the Arabian Sea to support Operation Inherent Resolve, Jan. 27, 2016. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook

Who Is Assassinating The Islamic State's Top Leaders In Libya

The Telegraph: Is a secret sniper killing off Isil's high command in Libya?

Mystery gunman credited with shooting three of the terror group's leaders in their new "Caliphate" in Colonel Gaddafi's home city of Sirte

As befits all the best practitioners of his shadowy trade, no-one is quite sure whether he is one man or many, or even simply an urban legend.

But after a string of assassinations of its local henchmen, the Islamic State's new "Caliphate" in the Libyan city of Sirte is abuzz with talk that an anti-Isil sniper is at work.

In recent weeks, no fewer than three Isil commanders in Sirte have been shot dead from long range, according to local media.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This sounds more like a special ops mission with the objective being to get rid of top ISIS commanders and leaders. The question that needs to be asked is .... who is ordering these "hits"?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Russia's Foreign Policy Challenges In 2016

Andrey Bezrukov, Mikhail Mamonov, Sergey Markedonov, and Andrey Sushentsov, National Interest: How to Avoid War With Russia

The year ahead could bring conflict or cooperation in these key areas.

Much has been said recently about the unpredictability of Russian foreign policy, and the resulting uncertainty. In reality, Moscow’s interests are quite limited and focused on its near abroad. Understanding how Russia prioritizes its security challenges and how it assesses the security situation on its borders is a start to clearing up much of the uncertainty in Eurasia today. This analysis focuses on critical situations that may develop this year into vital challenges to Russian interests, triggering a response from Moscow.

It has been two years since Russia found itself in the middle of a geopolitical tornado. Could it deliberately stay out of it? We believe not. In nature, wind emerges because of differential pressures between regions. Similarly, in politics, conflicts emerge from a change in the balance of power and destruction of the status quo. The collapse of regimes in Ukraine and in the Middle East created low-pressure zones, drawing neighboring countries into the regional storm. Having found itself in a hurricane, Moscow made its choice. It could have lowered its sails and followed the wind, but it preferred to keep to its course even if it meant sailing against the wind.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: One of the better analysis on what Russia is going to face in 2016 (and beyond). For Russia watchers, this is a must read.