Thursday, June 29, 2017

Russian President Putin: Foreign Intel Services Are Supporting Terrorist Groups On Russia’s Borders And Interfering In Russia's Internal Affairs

© Mikhail Metzel / Reuters

RT: Putin: Foreign intel services support terrorist groups on Russia’s borders

President Vladimir Putin has accused foreign intelligence agencies of intensifying their efforts against Russia, including through supporting terrorist groups and trying to interfere with internal politics.

“In general, it’s obvious that there’s growing activity by foreign intelligence agencies against Russia and our allies,” Putin said, speaking at a meeting at the headquarters of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, where he had come to congratulate officers on the 95th anniversary of the founding of the service.

Read more ....

Update: Putin Says Foreign Agencies Back Terrorism on Russia's Borders -- Bloomberg

WNU Editor: Talk about coincidences .... the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has (independently) made the same assessment .... Intel Report: Kremlin Sees US Urging Regime Change in Russia (AP).

Picture Of The Day

“Children of Qayyarah” by American photographer Sebastiano Tomada, the Grand Prize winner in the Photographer of the Year nomination. © PHOTO: SEBASTIANO TOMADA

WNU Editor: the above picture is from this photo gallery .... Winners of the 2017 iPhone Photography Awards Announced (Sputnik)

Acting FBI Director McCabe Is The Focus Of Three Separate Federal Administrative Inquiries Into His Behaviour

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Washington Examiner

CIRCA: FBI chief McCabe faces three separate federal inquiries into his behavior

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a central player in the Russia election case, is the focus of three separate federal administrative inquiries into allegations about his behavior as a senior bureau executive, according to documents and interviews.

The allegations being reviewed range from sexual discrimination to improper political activity, the documents show

The inquiries remain open but so far there have not been any adverse findings against the senior FBI executive, who soared though the ranks the last few years to become deputy director and acting director since James Comey was fired.

FBI officials and McCabe declined comment.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: No adverse findings against Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe have been made (so far) .... but being political active in a public manner with his wife screams conflict of interest.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Former National Security Advisor Susan Ric: Suggests She's The Victim Of Sexism And Racism For 'Unmasking' Storm

President Obama receives his daily briefing from Susan Rice, his national security advisor, on Aug. 12 in Chilmark, Mass. (White House Photo by Pete Souza via Flickr)

Daily Mail: Why me? Obama aide Susan Rice hints she's the victim of sexism and racism for being at center of 'unmasking' storm

* Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice sat down with New York Magazine and discussed why she got so much flack in the 'unmasking' scandal
* Rice said that she didn't want to 'leap to the simple explanation that it's only about race and gender'
* Though she also pointed to the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, noting that Press Secretary Jay Carney, a white male, received less blame

Susan Rice, the Obama administration official blamed for the 'unmasking' of Michael Flynn and others on intelligence reports, aired out some theories to New York Magazine as to why she became the one to blame.

'Let me put it this way,' she said. 'I do not leap to the simple explanation that it's only about race and gender. I'm trying to keep theories to myself until I'm ready to come out with them. It's not because I don't have any.'

But she does hint that her race and gender played a role.

'I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. What do you think?' she asked the magazine reporter.

Read more ....

Update: Susan Rice suggests race, gender bias linked to 'unmasking' backlash (FOX News)

WNU Editor: Throwing the race and sexism card is getting to be really boring now. The full interview with Susan Rice is here .... Talking Trump and Tennis With Susan Rice (NYMag). She also has nothing to worry about, her documents are sealed for the next 5 years at President Obama's Presidential Library .... NSC Adviser Susan Rice’s Unmasking Documents Are Now At The Obama Presidential Library And Are Sealed For Five Years (June 20, 2017). Talk about convenient.

Top Senate Republicans Want To Know Why The FBI Wanted To Monitor 4 Trump Campaign Officials

The U.S. Capitol Building is pictured in Washington, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

ABC News: Graham, Grassley ask FBI for Russia investigation surveillance warrants

Top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked the FBI and Department of Justice for copies of any surveillance requests made as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked top law enforcement officials for any drafts or completed surveillance requests submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for approval, and any response from the court, which is tasked with reviewing government requests to spy on suspected foreign agents.

Read more ....

Update #1: Grassley, Graham want the FBI’s Russia surveillance warrants -- Politico
Update #2: GOP senators want surveillance requests from FBI Russia probe -- The Hill

WNU Editor: Bottom line .... these Senators want to know what was the evidence that prompted the FBI to make a request to monitor 4 Trump campaign officials .... and why did the court refused them.

CNN Accuses President Trump Of Putting Journalists In Danger



RCP: CNN Anchor: Trump Putting Journalists In Danger; "Declaration Of War On Media" Has "Emboldened" War Zones

CNN's Clarissa Ward, a foreign correspondent, served as guest co-host on Wednesday's broadcast of CNN's News Day. Ward fretted "people" in war zones have been "emboldened" by President Trump's "declaration of war on the media." Ward, expressing concern for members of the media in dangerous areas of the world, said to guest Chris Cillizza, 'I can only imagine what a person like you is dealing with. At what point does this become reckless or irresponsible?'

It should be noted Chris Cillizza is a Washington-based political correspondent and commentator.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The last thing that people in a war zone are thinking about is President Trump's dim view of the U.S. main stream media. This "conflict" between CNN and the White House is clearly getting personal .... CNN war with Trump gets personal (The Hill). And now .... we have another CNN political commentator in the hot seat because of his remarks .... O'Keefe video shows CNN's Van Jones calling Russia story a ‘nothingburger’ (The Hill). Am I surprised by Van Jones' remarks .... not really .... he has already remarked that there is no "Smoking Gun" in Russia-Gate.

Update: There is a lot of truth to what these journalists/commentators are saying ....

Bob Woodward Chides NYT, Mainstream Media: ‘Fair Mindedness is Essential’ (Daily Caller).
The media will do anything to bash Trump — and now they’re hurting (Michael Goodwin, New York Post).

Female Kurdish Sniper Laughs About The Bullet That Almost Killed Her (Video)


RT: Female sniper laughs off near-fatal ISIS bullet in Raqqa gun fight (VIDEO)

Dramatic video has surfaced showing a female Kurdish fighter laughing off a bullet that narrowly whizzed by her head during a sniper fight reported to have taken place in Raqqa. The bullet can be seen exploding in a wall inches from the fighter’s head.

“Kurdish women know no fear,” the videos’ uploader said in a tweet. “Your average human being would be scared for life after being so close to death but she kept laughing.”

Read more ....

Update: A bullet almost killed this Kurdish sniper. Then she laughed about it. (Washington Post)

WNU Editor: Now that is what I call a close one.

U.S. And Turkish Defense Ministers Meet In Brussels

Defense Minister Fikri Işık held a closed-door meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis prior to the NATO Defense Ministers Meeting in Brussels. (AA Photo)

Daily Sabah with Anadolu Agency: US support for YPG temporary and triggered by necessity, Mattis tells Turkish counterpart Işık

The U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told his Turkish counterpart Fikri Işık in a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that their support for and cooperation with the PKK's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia was out of necessity and only temporary.

Mattis called arming the YPG "an interim situation triggered by necessity rather than preference," said a source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Işık raised Turkey's concerns over the U.S.' support to the PYD/YPG in Syria in his meeting with Mattis, and also discussed Mattis' recent letter to Turkey regarding arming the YPG to fight Daesh, as well as the U.S.' pledge to take back the weapons once their joint operation is over, the source added.

Read more ....

Update: Turkish, US defence ministers meet in Brussels (TRT)

WNU Editor: The Turks are worried about this .... Pentagon: U.S. will support Kurdish militia after Raqqa fighting (UPI), and they do not believe in U.S. reassurances that they will take back these weapons from the Kurds when the fighting is over .... Erdogan dismisses pledges over weapons for Kurds in Syria (Reuters). The problem is that U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was correct when he told his Turkish counterpart Fikri Işık that arming the YPG was "an interim situation triggered by necessity rather than preference." My prediction .... in the eyes of Turkish President Erdogan he sees these Kurdish groups as an existential threat to the unity of Turkey .... he is going to move against these Syrian Kurdish forces once the war against the Islamic State comes to an close.

Update: This is Turkey's fear .... Kurds see chance to advance their cause in ruins of Islamic State (Martin Chulov, The Guardian).

Turkish Military Forces On The Move In Northern Syria

This pictures show the military vehicles loaded with howitzers and ammunitions which reached the Turkish border town of Kilis, near Afrin last week. Daily Sabah

Al Bawaba: Tensions Between Turkey, Syrian Kurds Following Cross-border Fire

Turkey has massed troops on the Syrian border, as clashes with Kurdish militias broke out on Tuesday night sparking fears of wider skirmishes between the two groups.

Turkish artillery fire targeted the People's Protection Units (YPG) across the border after Kurdish fighters fired on Ankara-backed Syrian forces.

Ankara said that Free Syrian Army fighters were fired on by the YPG in the northern Syrian town of Azaz, sparking retaliatory shelling from Turkish artillery.

"Fire support vehicles in the region were used to retaliate in kind against the harassing fire and the identified targets were destroyed/neutralised," a Turkish military statement said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Turkey is focused on what the Kurds are doing. U.S. military forces are not far away .... U.S. special operations forces dispatched to Tal Abyad in northern Syria (Military Times).

More News On Turkey's Buildup On The Syrian Border

Turkey returns fire on YPG in northern Syria: Military -- Hurriyet Daily News/Reuters
Turkey: Military Returned Fire Against Syrian Kurds -- VOA
Turkish military build-up at border ready to target YPG-held Afrin, Tal Rifat -- Daily Sabah
Turkey-backed Islamist rebels bomb Kurdish villages in Syria’s Aleppo -- ARA News
Turkey's Erdogan calls for review of Nato over US arming of Kurds fighting Isil in Syria -- The Telegraph
Erdogan dismisses pledges over weapons for Kurds in Syria -- Reuters
Turkish military 'returns fire' at Kurdish YPG forces -- Al Jazeera
Turkey’s Erdogan threatens new military operation in Syria -- Panorama News
President Erdogan: New Turkish Military Operation in Syria Possible -- Tasnim
New Turkish Military Operation in Syria Possible -- Sputnik
Turkey's real target on way to Idlib: Kurds -- Al-Monitor

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 28, 2017

“President Assad has met the state-of-the-art and most important aircraft in the world, the Russian Su-35, located at the Khmeymim airbase,” reads one of the posts, showing the Syrian leader climbing inside the cockpit of a fighter jet. Facebook

Nikolas K. Gvosdev, National Interest: Russia Knows Its Next Move in Syria. Does America?

Without a clearly defined understanding of U.S. interests, the risk grows that the United States will stumble into a clash with Russia and Iran.

The endgame has begun in Syria’s long and bloody civil war. As the grip of the Islamic State on the territories it has controlled in eastern Syria and western Iraq is pried up, there is no longer any way the question of Syria’s future can be postponed. Moreover, given the competing and clashes interests of the various major players in the Syrian conflict, major clashes are now inevitable unless some sort of agreement can be worked out.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 28, 2017

Can Americans Believe the President About Syrian Chemical Weapons? -- Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic

The Trump administration is right to threaten Assad against using chemical weapons again -- Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

White House Threatened Syria While Trump Yawned, Insiders Say -- Asawin Suebsaeng and Spencer Ackerman, Daily Beast

The Coming Gulf War: Qatar vs. Everyone -- Robert Rabil, National Interest

Iranian flag joins array of enemy symbols planted on Lebanon border -- Byset J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post

Is Israel Catching Up Too Late to a Major Strategic Threat from Iran? -- Judith Miller, Tablet

Where to Draw the Line Against Iran’s Mideast Takeover -- Michael Horowitz, Daily Beast

Why Investors Shy Away From Saudi Arabia -- Robert Mills, Bloomberg

Is the U.S.-South Korea Alliance in Trouble? -- Scout Snyder, National Interest

Jacob Zuma wages war on South Africa’s institutions -- David Pilling, Financial Times

Obama’s Putin Patience: Russia tried to aggressively interfere with our elections. Why did Obama show so much restraint? -- Berny Belvedere, ARC

People around the world have more confidence in Vladimir Putin than in Donald Trump -- Max de Haldevang, Quartz

Tensions Rising in Balkans as Hopes for EU Future Fade -- Walter Mayr and Jan Puhl, Spiegel Online

Illinois Is Venezuela and the Solution Is Cryptocurrency -- Ken Kurson, Observer

Europe Versus Google -- Bloomberg editorial

The U.S. Will Pay a Price for Trump's Global Unpopularity -- James Gibney, Bloomberg

Editor's Note

I am in Ottawa this afternoon and evening. The GF and I have been invited to a private party hosted by the Liberal Party of Canada (Canada is celebrating its 150 year anniversary this Saturday). Blogging will return tomorrow morning. And no .... I am not a Liberal, but I do know a few people who are.

The Growth Of India's And Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenals Raising Concerns On The Possibility Of A Nuclear War


VOA: Growing Nuclear Arsenals Increase Concerns About Possible Pakistan-India War

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and have been on the brink of another several times, a worrying prospect given that both have growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and questions about how secure they are.

The arms race between the South Asian neighbors has moved to enhancing the delivery systems for the warheads, which could annihilate the subcontinent several times. India's recent launch of more than 100 satellites with a single rocket foreshadows the capability of sending up a missile with multiple nuclear weapons.

The volatility of the situation is further exacerbated because neither country has a national missile defense system, and it likely would take several years to get one in place.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. is giving the impression of taking sides .... Trump ponders crackdown on Pakistan over terror ties despite experts' warnings (The Guardian). Pakistan is responding .... Pakistan denounces US terrorism designation of Hizbul Mujahideen chief (Long War Journal).

North Korea Calls For The Execution Of Former South Korea President Park Geun-Hye Over 'Assassination' Plot

Kim Jong-un (pictured) has threatened South Korea's president with a 'miserable dog's death' over an alleged plot to assassinate the tyrant

Daily Mail: Kim Jong-un vows 'a miserable dog's death' for South Korea's former president over an alleged plot to assassinate the dictator

* North Korea has vowed to execute South Korea's ex president Park Geun-Hye
* Pyongyang claims she 'pushed forward' plans to assassinate leader Kim Jong-un
* A statement warns of 'miserable dog's death any time, at any place and by whatever methods'

Kim Jong-un has threatened South Korea's president with a 'miserable dog's death' over an alleged plot to assassinate the tyrant.

Pyongyang vowed to 'impose the death penalty' on Park Geun-Hye claiming she 'pushed forward' a supposed plan by Seoul's intelligence servicesto eliminate the North Korean dictator.

South Korea's spy agency has described the threats today as 'unpardonable'.

Read more ....

More News On North Korea Calling For The Execution Of Former South Korea President Park Geun-Hye Over 'Assassination' Plot

North Korea calls for execution of ex-South Korea leader over 'assassination' plot -- Reuters
North Korea threatens to kill South's ex-president Park -- AFP
N. Korea vows to kill ex-S. Korean leader "any time, at any place" -- CBS/AP
N. Korea calls for former S. Korean leader’s execution -- The Hill
North Korea promises “miserable dog’s death” for former South Korean president -- Vice News
Pyongyang Demands Extradition of South Korean Ex-President Park for Execution -- Sputnik

South Korean President Moon Jae-in Embarks On A Four-Day- Trip To Washington D.C





Yonhap News Agency: S. Korean president departs for Washington summit with Trump

SEOUL AIR BASE, June 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in headed to the United States on Wednesday for a summit with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, which will likely focus on how to rein in North Korea's growing nuclear and missile capabilities, as well as forming a personal relationship to last their presidencies.

Moon was set to arrive in Washington on Wednesday (U.S. time).

His meeting with Trump will literally mark an international debut of the new South Korean president who came into office May 10.

Read more ....

More News On South Korean President Moon Jae-in Embarking On A Four-Day- Trip To Washington D.C

Moon-Trump meeting to focus on alliance, N. Korea -- Yonhap News Agency
South Korea's president to meet President Trump this week amid grave concerns over North Korea -- Los Angeles Times
Moon to stay in VIP guesthouse during US visit -- Korea Herald
Five things you need to know as Donald Trump meets South Korean president Moon Jae-in -- The Telegraph
South Korean President Moon Jae-in Prepares for a Difficult Meeting With Trump -- The Nation
What To Expect From The White House Summit With South Korea's Leader -- Elise Hu, NPR
Moon faces delicate balancing act in meeting with Trump -- Nikkei Asian Review

President Trump Accepts French President Macron's Invitation To Visit France For Bastille Day On July 14



Washington Post: Trump accepts Macron’s invitation to visit France for Bastille Day on July 14

President Trump has accepted French President Emmanuel Macron's invitation to visit and plans to travel to France to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14 at an event that will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I to fight alongside France and other allies.

“President Trump looks forward to reaffirming America’s strong ties of friendship with France, to celebrating this important day with the French people, and to commemorating the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement Wednesday. “The two leaders will further build on the strong counter-terrorism cooperation and economic partnership between the two countries, and they will discuss many other issues of mutual concern.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This public invitation from French President Macron .... and President Trump's acceptance of it .... is smart on many levels. It plays to President Macron's efforts to present himself as someone who wants to be active on the international scene, and it helps President Trump with his European "image problem". It will also be the 100th anniversary of U.S. forces entering France to fight the First World War .... an event that the U.S. President should be present for.

Update: The United Kingdom feels left out .... Protests against Trump are 'repelling' the President and damaging the special relationship Tory MP blasts after White House reveals he is heading to FRANCE before Britain (Daily Mail).

More News On President Trump Accepting French President Macron's Invitation To Visit France For Bastille Day On July 14

Trump accepts French invitation to attend Bastille Day parade -- France 24
President Trump to attend Paris July 14 celebrations -- Reuters
Trump will visit France next month at Macron's invitation to attend historic Bastille Day parade that marks the 100th anniversary of America's entry into WWI -- Daily Mail
Trump to attend Bastille Day celebrations in France -- BBC
Trump accepts invitation for Bastille Day visit to France -- Politico
Trump accepts invitation to visit France for Bastille Day celebrations -- ABC news

Rogue Police Officers Launch A Helicopter Helicopter Attack On Venezuela’s Supreme Court -- News Roundup





Daily Mail: The most wanted man in Venezuela: Ex cop 'who once appeared in an action movie' stages grenade attack from a helicopter above Supreme Court and calls for an uprising

* Oscar Perez is a special investigator behind the helicopter attack in Venezuela
* Social media shows his action-hero lifestyle of guns, helicopters, and fine suits
* He is a pilot, specialist K9 trainer and firearms expert who once starred in a film
* Perez says he is a 'patriot' fighting the 'evil' government of Nicolas Maduro

He works for Venezuela's FBI, flies helicopters with precision skill, skydives with police dogs strapped to his chest, is trained to fight gun battles underwater - and is now the country's most wanted man.

Meet Oscar Perez, a former cop turned rogue agent who helped launch a gun and grenade attack on Venezuela's Supreme Court on Tuesday from a stolen helicopter.

President Nicolas Maduro branded the attack a 'coup attempt' and 'terrorist attack' before demanding a manhunt for the perpetrators - including Perez

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The conspiracy theories abound .... Conspiracy Theories Abound After Helicopter Buzzes Caracas Court (Bloomberg).

Rogue Police Officers Launch A Helicopter Helicopter Attack On Venezuela’s Supreme Court -- News Roundup

Amid Venezuela’s chaos, protesters ask: Was helicopter ‘attack’ rebellion or ruse? -- Washington Post
Police Officers in Helicopter Attack Venezuela’s Supreme Court -- NYT
Venezuela: Helicopter strafes court in ‘terrorist attack’ -- AP
Venezuela hunts rogue police attacker, Maduro foes smell rat -- Reuters
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro rages at ‘terror attack’ -- The Australian/AFP
Venezuela crisis: Helicopter launches attack on Supreme Court -- BBC
Venezuela: police helicopter attacks supreme court with grenades -- The Guardian
Helicopter attack targets Venezuela's Supreme Court -- CNN
Anti-government protesters drop grenades from helicopter in Venezuela -- UPI
Venezuela's Supreme Court attacked by 'stolen' police helicopter, President Nicolas Maduro says -- ABC News Online
Maduro: Grenades dropped on Venezuela's Supreme Court -- DW
Venezuela Supreme Court attacked from helicopter -- Al Jazeera
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Blames Supreme Court Helicopter Attack On Ex-Ally Miguel Rodriguez Torres -- International Business Times
‘Terrorist attack’: Hijacked military helicopter strikes Venezuela court, ministry (PHOTOS, VIDEO) -- RT
Venezuela Helicopter Attack Coup Claim Is Nation’s Latest Crisis -- NBC
Meet the 'Venezuelan Rambo' allegedly behind a coup attempt -- Euronews
Venezuela helicopter attack: Who is pilot Oscar Pérez? -- BBC
What do we know about the Venezuela helicopter attack? -- The Guardian

World News Briefs -- June 28, 2017



Reuters: New computer virus spreads from Ukraine to disrupt world business

A cyber attack wreaked havoc around the globe on Wednesday, crippling thousands of computers, disrupting operations at ports from Mumbai to Los Angeles and halting production at a chocolate factory in Australia.

The virus is believed to have first taken hold on Tuesday in Ukraine where it silently infected computers after users downloaded a popular tax accounting package or visited a local news site, national police and international cyber experts said.

The malicious code locked machines and demanded victims post a ransom worth $300 in bitcoins or lose their data entirely, similar to the extortion tactic used in the global WannaCry ransomware attack in May.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi military says it has retaken two Mosul neighborhoods from Islamic State.

Syria war: 'Cluster bombs' dropped on IS-held village.

Raqqa: Monitoring groups sound alarm over civilian death toll as Islamic State fight heats up.

Turkish military 'returns fire' at Kurdish YPG forces.

Mattis: US arms for Syrian Kurds will continue after Raqqa. Mattis says Syria’s government taking US threat seriously.

Mattis says Syria's government taking US threat seriously.

Qatar condemns Saudi refusal to negotiate over demands. UAE envoy: Gulf states considering new Qatar sanctions.

Hamas creates no-go security zone on border with Egypt.

ASIA

Philippines says beheaded civilians found in rebel-held town. Decomposed bodies retrieved by military in Marawi City.

Kim Jong-un vows 'a miserable dog's death' for South Korea's former president over an alleged plot to assassinate the dictator.

Defector: North Korea procures Russian oil through contacts in Singapore.

China, South Korea likely to hold talks at G20 amid strained ties over missile shield, says diplomat.

South Korea escalating weapons buildup near North Korea maritime border.

Moon departs for US-South Korea summit with Trump.

#NotInMyName: Indians protest against 'beef lynching'.

AFRICA

At least 24 migrants die as thousands rescued in seas off Libya.

Libya remains the main source of destabilization of the Sahel countries: a report.

Hundreds of fighters from Chad, Darfur feeding off Libya's turmoil: report.

Cholera kills more than 60 people in South Sudan.

South Sudan armed opposition rules out national dialogue participation.

Witnesses in Somalia report sinking ship after explosion.

Ethiopia asks for extension of Saudi amnesty deadline.

EUROPE

'Patience is running out': pressure on Turkey and Greece as Cyprus talks open. Security tops agenda as Cyprus peace talks resume.

The Latest: London police raise Grenfell fire toll to 80.

Serbia’s next premier: EU membership, modernization priority.

Germany to vote on same-sex marriage after Merkel drops opposition.

French general accused of borrowing military jet for weekend trips.

Portugal seeks culprits for wildfire that killed 64.

Pope Francis: Suicide bombers are not 'martyrs'.

FIFA: Prince William, ex-British PM David Cameron named in corruption report into World Cup bids.

AMERICAS

Venezuela: Helicopter strafes court in ‘terrorist attack’.

GOP ‘Obamacare’ repeal teeters after Senate shelves vote.

US lawmakers wary of Trump escalation in Syria.

Gingrich: Congress has 'obligation' to call Obama to testify on Russia.

Colombia anti-corruption chief arrested on US charges.

Rising violence takes huge psychological toll in Rio favelas.

Son of parents exposed as Russian spies has Canadian citizenship restored.

FBI find car linked to kidnapped Chinese student Yingying Zhang.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Anti-terror raids in Spain, Germany and the UK.

Trump, Modi call on Pakistan to stem terrorist attacks.

US to seek more security on international flights.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wave of new cyberattacks spreads, hitting multinationals.

IMF reduces U.S. outlook because of policy uncertainties.

Japan, EU narrow differences over free trade agreement.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- June 28, 2017



AFP: NATO says cyber attacks a call to arms

Brussels (AFP) - NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned the alliance must step up its defence against cyberattacks, saying they could potentially trigger their Article 5 mutual defence commitment.

Computer users around the world were scrambling Wednesday to reboot systems after a tidal wave of ransomware cyberattacks spread from Ukraine and Russia across Europe to the United States and then on to Asia.

It seemed to be very similar to the WannaCry ransomware which hit more than 200,000 users in more than 150 countries last month.

Stoltenberg said the "attack in May and this week just underlines the importance of strengthening our cyber defences and that is what we are doing."

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- June 28, 2017

Nato assisting Ukrainian cyber defences after ransom ware attack cripples government and businesses -- The Telegraph

Europe's NATO members, Canada to raise defense spending in 2017 -- Reuters

NATO allies - excluding the US - will increase defence spending by 4.3% in victory for Donald Trump after he warned member states 'must finally contribute their fair share' -- Daily Mail

NATO's 4 Polish and Baltic Battlegroups Fully Operational - Secretary General -- Sputnik

US House Overwhelmingly Backs NATO Mutual Defense -- VOA

US House votes to endorse NATO’s mutual defense pact -- The Hill

Russian military 'harassed' US-flagged merchant ship in the Baltic ahead of exercises -- Defense News

NATO says more Russian buzzing of Baltic airspace a risk for deadly mistakes -- DW

Russian Arms Exporter Sent Weapons Worth $13Bln to Over 50 Countries in 2016 -- Sputnik

Russian Navy Confirms Plans to Build New Aircraft Carrier -- Sputnik

Battle Plans: 'Leader' Destroyer Design Accepted by Russian Defense Ministry -- Sputnik

Kyrgyzstan's President Wants Another Russian Military Base -- RFE

Syria’s Assad tries out role of Su-35 fighter jet pilot at Russia’s Khmeymim airbase (PHOTOS, VIDEO) -- RT

Liaoning carrier demonstrates China's power off Taiwan coast -- DW

China’s aircraft carrier expected to make four-day visit to Hong Kong for handover celebrations -- South China morning Post

China launches new warship type to boost military strength -- BBC

N. Korea is clearly advancing H-bomb development: Hecker -- Yonhap News Agency

Japan fitting F-35 fighters with advanced missile system brings it ‘much closer to targets’, says defence analyst -- South China Morning Post

Report: German politicians under surveillance by Turkish intelligence -- DW

Germany: NSA spying scandal committee presents controversial final report -- DW

German firms link up to tackle emerging counter-drone market -- Defense News

UK defence secretary threatens military strikes against hackers -- BBC

British Navy’s aircraft carrier sets sail for first sea trials -- Defense News

Poland’s plan to buy Patriot headed toward derailment? -- Defense News

Trump, Macron to pursue 'common response' in Syria -- Washington Examiner

President Trump’s Defense Budget Falls Short of Rebuilding Military, Report Says -- Washington Free Beacon

Democrats push for a bigger military pay raise -- Military Times

Dem: Trump doesn’t have authorization for military action in Syria -- The Hill

Nikki Haley worries Iran will give nuclear weapons to terrorists -- Washington Examiner

US Navy's aircraft carrier class of the future to be commissioned in July -- Defense News

The U.S. Army Is Working to "Harden" One Key Asset Russia and China Could Attack -- National Interest

First four women graduate from the Army's cavalry scout training -- Army Times

Injured Navy SEAL, Army Ranger claim search for Bowe Bergdahl ended their careers -- Navy Times

The American Military Declares War on Sprawl -- Defense One

A guide to military drones -- DW

NATO Members Boosting Defense Spending



Washington Post: NATO allies boost defense spending in the wake of Trump criticism

BRUSSELS — NATO allies of the United States plan to boost their defense spending by 4.3 percent this year, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, a response in part to intense pressure from President Trump that the nations invest more in their militaries.

Trump has repeatedly castigated NATO allies for their dependence on the U.S. military for their defense, and has at times called into question the basic U.S. security guarantees that have underpinned European stability since World War II.

The increase is “a clear demonstration that our alliance stands united in the face of any possible aggression,” Stoltenberg told reporters at the NATO headquarters, a day ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers. “We have really shifted gears. The trend is up, and we intend to keep it up.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I guess one can say that this is the Trump effect at work (with a little bit of help from Russia).

More News On NATO Members Boosting Defense Spending

Europe's NATO members, Canada to raise defense spending in 2017 -- Reuters
NATO allies - excluding the US - will increase defence spending by 4.3% in victory for Donald Trump after he warned member states 'must finally contribute their fair share' -- Daily Mail
NATO chief: US allies to spend $12 billion more this year -- ABC News/AP
NATO set for defense spending increases as Trump seeks even more -- Stars and Stripes
Europe & Canada to increase defense spending by $12bn following Trump pressure – NATO chief -- RT

China's Navy Launches A New Class Of Destroyer

Chinese Navy's new destroyer, a 10,000-tonne domestically designed and produced vessel, is launched at Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) in east China's Shanghai Municipality, June 28, 2017. The destroyer is the first of China's new generation of destroyers. It is equipped with new air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons. The vessel marks a milestone in improving the nation's Navy armament system and building a strong and modern Navy. (Xinhua/Wang Donghai)

Xinhuanet: China launches new destroyer

SHANGHAI, June 28 (Xinhua) -- The Navy's new destroyer, a 10,000-tonne domestically designed and produced vessel, was launched Wednesday at Jiangnan Shipyard (Group), Shanghai.

The destroyer is the first of China's new generation of destroyers. It is equipped with new air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.

The vessel marks a milestone in improving the nation's Navy armament system and building a strong and modern Navy.

According to the plan, tests will be carried on the vessel, including equipment operation, berthing and sailing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are a lot of details on this new Chinese destroyer here .... Asia's biggest, most advanced warship finally launches as China strengthens naval presence (South China Morning Post)

More News On The Chinese Navy Launching A New Class Of Destroyer

China launches new class of naval destroyer -- Reuters
China's navy launches latest-generation destroyer -- FOX News/AP
China launches new class of naval destroyer -- NYDaily News
Indian Navy Outgunned As China Launches Its Biggest Destroyer -- NDTV
Chinese Navy's New Destroyer Shows Expanding Military Power, Indigenously Built -- International Business Times
South China Sea: Chinese Military Unveils First of 18 'New Generation' Warships -- Newsweek
China launches Asia's biggest post-WWII warship -- Popular Science
China destroyers ‘match’ US counterparts -- Global Times

US Congress Allocates More Money To Keep 3 Squadrons Of A-10s Flying.

Col. Mark Anderson (Tail No. 188), 188th Fighter Wing commander; Maj. Doug Davis (Tail No. 639), 188th Detachment 1 commander; Col. Brian Burger (Tail No. 613), 188th Operations Group commander; and Capt. Wade Hendrickson (Tail No. 638) conduct a training mission Dec. 30, 2013, over Razorback Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch)

Defense News: House lawmakers authorize $103M for A-10 wings to save 3 squadrons from retiring

WASHINGTON — The House Armed Services Committee has taken its first steps toward preserving three A-10 Warthog squadrons that, without funding for new wings, could begin retiring as early as the mid-2020s.

The HASC chairman’s mark of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, released Monday, adds $103 million for an A-10 “unfunded requirement.” In its FY18 unfunded priorities list, the U.S. Air Force included an equivalent amount of cash, which if appropriated would be used to restart production of A-10 wings and manufacture four wing sets.

As of now, the Air Force plans on retaining its A-10s through at least the next five years. Past then, some parts of the fleet will need modifications to keep flying.

Read more ....

Update: More money proposed to keep A-10s flying (KGUN).

WNU Editor: $103 million is a pittance in the Pentagon's budget .... but it keeps 3 squadrons of A-10s flying. This was a no-brainer.

Mossad Wants to Invest In High Tech Start-Ups

The Mossad stand at Cybertech 2017 (Courtesy: Gilad Kavalerchik)

Reuters: Israel's Mossad sets up fund to acquire new spy techniques

Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has set up an investment fund to help development of new cloak-and-dagger know-how and is offering grants of up to 2 million shekels (about $570,000) per project to bring in new ideas.

A government statement on Tuesday said Mossad was seeking technologies in various fields, including robotics, miniaturization and encryption as well as new automated methods of gleaning information from documents and new ways of carrying out operations more stealthily.

A statement by the new fund, called Libertad, said it would be willing to give grants of up to 2 million shekels per project in exchange for non-exclusive rights to the technology.

Developers would retain the rights to their product and could sell it on, it said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I find it interesting that the developers would retain the rights to their product and could sell it on to other customers.

More News On Mossad Wanting to Invest In High Tech Start-Ups

Mossad launches fund to invest in firms developing spy tech -- Washington Post/AP
Israeli spy agency creates fund to invest in tech firms -- AFP
Eyeing new spy tech, Mossad says it will pump money into startups -- Times of Israel
Israel's Mossad is looking for a few good startups -- Jerusalem Post
Mossad Launching Investment Firm to Benefit from Israel’s High-Tech Prowess -- The Tower
Israeli spy agency Mossad targets cutting-edge tech, sets up innovation fund -- FOX News

Hat tip Fred for this link.

Was US Billionaire George Soros Involved In Efforts To Overthrow The President Of Equatorial Guinea

US billionaire George Soros, seen here in 2011, was allegedly involved in efforts to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea, a former British mercenary has told a Paris court

BBC: George Soros 'plotted to oust Equatorial Guinea's leader'

Former British mercenary Simon Mann, who led a failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in 2004, has accused US billionaire George Soros of plotting to overthrow the country's government.

He said he had warned President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Africa's longest serving leader, of the alleged plan in 2011.

But he said he did not have any proof, and Mr Soros has not yet commented.

Simon Mann made the remarks as he was testifying on behalf of Mr Obiang's son at a high-profile trial in Paris.

Teodorin Obiang Nguema is accused of using public money to fund his jetset lifestyle in France.

Read more ....

Update #1: 'Soros wanted to topple E.Guinea leader,' UK mercenary tells Paris court (AFP)
Update #2: George Soros Accused of Trying to Oust Equatorial Guinea’s Government (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: This allegation is going to go nowhere.

There Are 14 'Choke-Points' That Can Threaten The World's Food Supply


Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic: Vulnerable 'Chokepoints' Threaten Global Food Security, Experts Warn

Chatham House analysts say climate change could affect 14 key transportation routes.

More than a dozen supply chains and trade routes that facilitate global food trade are vulnerable to unforeseen crises or climate change, according to a new report.

Analysts at Chatham House, the U.K.-based think tank, released a report Tuesday identifying 14 critical junctures, or “chokepoints,” through which large volumes of global food trade pass that could be vulnerable to major disruption if they are not properly maintained—an issue that could adversely affect global food supply and prices. The report found that the weak and aging infrastructure of these chokepoints are not equipped to cope with natural disasters, which could occur with more frequency as the planet warms.

Read more ....

More News On The 14 'Choke-Points' That Can Threaten The World's Food Supply

World food security risks growing, Chatham House says -- BBC
At food trading 'chokepoints', climate change could disrupt supplies - report -- Reuters
Vulnerable ‘chokepoints’ threaten global food supply, warns report -- The Guardian
Trade chokepoints risk food price surge -- Financial Times
World food supplies at risk as climate change threatens international trade, warn experts -- The Independent
GCC exposed to food security risks from maritime choke points -- The National

President Trump And French President Macron Agree To A Joint Response In The Event Of A Chemical Attack In Syria

US President Donald Trump (R) talks with French President Emmanuel Macron as they attend the G7 Summit May 26, 2017 in Italy (AFP Photo/STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN)

AFP: Macron, Trump vow 'joint response' if chemical attack in Syria

Paris (AFP) - US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed during a telephone call Tuesday on the need for a "joint response" in the event of another chemical attack in Syria, the French presidency said.

Their call came a day after Washington said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be preparing another chemical weapons attack and warned that his regime would pay a "heavy price" if it went ahead with such an assault.

A Pentagon spokesman said US intelligence had noticed suspect activity at the launch site of the regime's apparent chemical strike in April.

Days after that strike on a rebel-held town, the United States launched a cruise missile strike on the airfield in retaliation -- the first direct US attack on the Syrian regime.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump, Macron discuss need to collaborate in event of Syria chemical weapons attack (CBS)
Update #2: Will Trump and Macron actually work together well on Syria? (Daniel DePetris, Washington Examiner)

WNU Editor: For some reason these two remind me of the "Odd Couple".

Update #3: This is a nice gesture .... Macron invites Trump to Bastille Day to honor US WWI troops (AP).

Tweet For Today

The Qatar Crisis -- News Updates June 28, 2017



Reuters: Saudi, Qatar ministers spar over Arab nations' demands

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday that there would be no negotiations over demands by the kingdom and other Arab states for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism.

Doha retorted that the allegations against it and demands were baseless and unacceptable. Qatar has previously also said the demands were aimed at curbing its sovereignty.

Asked by reporters on a visit to Washington if the demands were non-negotiable, Saudi's Jubeir said: "Yes."

"We made our point, we took our steps and it's up to the Qataris to amend their behavior and once they do things will be worked out but if they don't they will remain isolated," Jubeir said.

Read more ....

The Qatar Crisis -- News Updates June 27, 2017

Qatar must change its behaviour or remain isolated, Saudi FM says -- The National
Demands on Qatar not negotiable, says Al-Jubeir -- Saudi Gazette
Saudi Arabia: Qatar demand list is non-negotiable -- Al Jazeera
Qatari foreign minister says Arab demands 'unacceptable' -- Reuters
Qatar accuses neighbours of terrorism hypocrisy as isolation continues -- SKY News
Tillerson Meets Qatari FM on Persian Gulf Crisis -- VOA
Iran’s policy is to strengthen ties with Qatar, Rouhani says -- Tehran Times

Picture Of The Day

An Iraqi Army helicopter launches decoy flares over western Mosul. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

WNU Editor: The above picture is from a photo gallery at this link .... Iraqi forces seize more ground in Mosul from Islamic State, PM sees victory soon (Reuters)

A Rogue Faction Of The Venezuelan Police Has Attacked The Supreme Court By Dropping Grenades From A Helicopter



New York Times: Police in Helicopter Attack Venezuela’s Top Court, Dropping Grenades

A rogue faction of the Venezuelan police attacked the country’s Supreme Court in Caracas on Tuesday, dropping grenades from a helicopter, Venezuelan government officials said. It was a rare uprising by government personnel in a country that has been on edge from mass protests and economic crises.

A video shot from a window and posted on Twitter shows a helicopter swooping in a circle around a building as explosions are heard.

Another video posted on social media on Tuesday showed a uniformed man identified as Oscar Pérez, flanked by masked, heavily armed men dressed in uniforms, taking responsibility for the operation. The speaker said he represented a coalition of military, police and civilian personnel who opposed what he called “this transitional, criminal government.”

Read more ....

More News On Tonight's Attack By A Helicopter On Venezuela's Supreme Court

Helicopter used for protest flight against Maduro, heightening Venezuela tensions -- Washington Post
Helicopter attacks Venezuela's pro-Maduro Supreme Court -- Reuters
Maduro says helicopter fired on Venezuela’s Supreme Court -- AP
Venezuela crisis: Helicopter 'attacks' Supreme Court -- BBC
Venezuela Supreme Court attacked with grenade thrown from police helicopter in 'terrorist' act -- The Independent
Maduro: Helicopter threw grenades at Venezuela's Supreme Court -- DW
Venezuela's Supreme Court attacked by police helicopter, President Nicolas Maduro says -- ABC News Online
Venezuela's supreme court attacked with grenade from police helicopter -- The Guardian

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page Was Questioned By The FBI In March Over Russian Collusion



Washington Post: FBI has questioned Trump campaign adviser Carter Page at length in Russia probe

FBI agents have repeatedly questioned former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page about his contacts with Russians and his interactions with the Trump campaign, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Over a series of five meetings in March, totaling about 10 hours of questioning, Page repeatedly denied wrongdoing when asked about allegations that he may have acted as a kind of ­go-between for Russia and the Trump campaign, according to a person familiar with Page’s account.

The interviews with the FBI are the most extensive known questioning of a potential suspect in the probe of possible Russian connections to associates of President Trump. The questioning of Page came more than a month before the Russian investigation was put under the direction of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The questioning was done before FBI Director Comey was fired .... but it is only now that this information is coming out. And as for Carter Page .... over the past three months he definitely did not sound like a man who was worried about the FBI .... even pushing to give his testimony to Congress and being rebuffed by them .... When Will Former Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page Be Allowed To Testify? (June 21, 2017). I could be wrong .... but my gut is telling me that there is nothing here .... that this story has been blown out of proportion to serve a political and media purpose.

More News On Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page Being Questioned By The FBI

Carter Page questioned by FBI in probe of Russian election meddling -- ABC News
FBI questioned Carter Page in Russia investigation -- CBS
Ex-Trump adviser says FBI interviewed him about Russia investigation -- The Guardian
Carter Page questioned in FBI Russia investigation: report -- The Hill
The FBI appears to be taking cues from the explosive Russia dossier that Trump called 'phony' -- Business Insider

Not A Good Week For CNN And The Main Stream Media





Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept: CNN Journalists Resign: Latest Example of Media Recklessness on the Russia Threat

THREE PROMINENT CNN journalists resigned Monday night after the network was forced to retract and apologize for a story linking Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund under congressional investigation. That article — like so much Russia reporting from the U.S. media — was based on a single anonymous source, and now, the network cannot vouch for the accuracy of its central claims.

In announcing the resignation of the three journalists — Thomas Frank, who wrote the story (not the same Thomas Frank who wrote “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”); Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Eric Lichtblau, recently hired away from the New York Times; and Lex Haris, head of a new investigative unit — CNN said that “standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.” The resignations follow CNN’s Friday night retraction of the story, in which it apologized to Scaramucci:

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The first video is Sarah Huckabee Sanders answering a question on CNN .... an epic rant that is entertaining. The second video is from Project Veritas that has gotten everyone's attention. I am personally not really impressed by the Veritas video. The CNN producer who was filmed is CNN's health producer (not political) .... and he was just stating his own opinion. As for the future of CNN .... they will survive .... and they will have a viewership that will watch their channel .... but they have lost their journalistic reputation. On a side note .... it looks like the next target will be the New York Times .... Sarah Palin sues NY Times for tying political ad to mass shooting (NYPost).

Update: The Trump - Russian collusion story is definitely dying. Last week's Washington Post story that outlined President Obama's response to Russian attempts to influence the US Presidential election .... An Inside Look At How The Obama Administration Handled Attempts By Russia To Influence The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (June 23, 2017) .... has produced an unintended consequence .... it has diverted attention away from President Trump to President Obama, and how President Obama was paralysed and ineffective in stopping the Russians. A definite no-no in today's main stream news media's need to cover President Trump all the time.

More News On CNN And Their Coverage Of The News

CNN shrugs off Veritas video as Trump lashes out at network -- USA Today
White House urges viewing of anti-CNN video 'whether it's accurate or not' -- The Guardian
CNN's Russia Story Debacle Came At The Wordt Possible Time For The Network -- Washington Post
Retracted CNN story a boon for president at war with media -- AP
Trump renews attack on ‘Fake News CNN’ after retraction -- Washington Post
New O’Keefe video shows CNN producer calling Russia coverage ‘mostly bull----’ -- The Hill
CNN Won’t Discipline Producer Caught in O’Keefe’s Latest Sting -- Heat Street
CNN faced $100M lawsuit over botched Russia story -- NYPost
Piers Morgan: Greed, Laziness & Trump Hatred Have Cost CNN Dearly -- FOX News