Monday, December 18, 2017

U.S. Defense Department Hails Afghan Forces’ Battlefield Gains

U.S. Army General John Nicholson speaks with Afghan police special forces after they took part in a military exercise in November.

WNU Editor: U.S. Hails Afghan Forces’ Battlefield Gains, Urges Taliban To Seek Talks With Kabul

The U.S. Defense Department has hailed success on the battlefield by Afghan forces and urged Taliban insurgents to embrace "peace and political legitimacy" through a negotiated settlement with the government in Kabul.

The comments came this week in the Pentagon’s semiannual report to Congress, the first since President Donald Trump on August 21 announced his new strategy for Afghanistan and the South Asia region.

The Pentagon said in the report given to Congress on December 15 that U.S. and Afghan “sources indicate this fighting season has been more successful than the last."

“During this reporting period [June 1, 2017, to November 30], the Taliban was unable to threaten any provincial centers, lost control of key districts, and the ANDSF retained control of all major population centers," it said, referring to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I do not see these gains that the U.S. Defense Department is claiming. On a side note, this is an interesting read .... Embedded in Afghanistan: how Afghan Special Forces fight the Taliban with help from US advisers (ABC 10).

U.S. Special Forces Operated In 149 Countries In 2017.

America’s elite troops were deployed to 149 nations in 2017, according to US Special Operations Command. The map above displays the locations of 132 of those countries; 129 locations (in blue) were supplied by US Special Operations Command; 3 locations (in red)—Syria, Yemen and Somalia—were derived from open-source information. (Nick Turse)

Nick Turse, The Nation: Donald Trump’s First Year Set a Record for Use of Special Operations Forces

Elite commandos deployed to 149 countries in 2017.

“We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in October. That was in the wake of the combat deaths of four members of the Special Operations forces in the West African nation of Niger. Graham and other senators expressed shock about the deployment, but the global sweep of America’s most elite forces is, at best, an open secret.

Earlier this year before that same Senate committee—though Graham was not in attendance—Gen. Raymond Thomas, the chief of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), offered some clues about the planetwide reach of America’s most elite troops. “We operate and fight in every corner of the world,” he boasted. “Rather than a mere ‘break-glass-in-case-of-war’ force, we are now proactively engaged across the ‘battle space’ of the Geographic Combatant Commands… providing key integrating and enabling capabilities to support their campaigns and operations.”

Read more ....

Update: Only Year One: Trump Milestone as US Sends Special Ops to 149 Countries in 2017 (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: 149 countries?!?!?!

Tweets For Today

U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson Hints That U.S. Forces Would Rush Into North Korea If The Kim Jong-Un Regime Was Collapsing

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People on Sept 30, 2017 in Beijing, China. PHOTO: REUTERS

New York Times: A Tillerson Slip Offers a Peek Into Secret Planning on North Korea

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson let slip last week a few tantalizing details about one of the nation’s most secret military contingency plans: how the United States would try to race inside North Korea to seize its nuclear weapons if it ever saw evidence that Kim Jong-un’s government was collapsing.

For years, American diplomats have been trying to engage their Chinese counterparts in a discussion of this scenario, hoping to avoid a conflict between arriving American Special Forces — who have been practicing this operation for years — and the Chinese military, which would almost certainly pour over the border in a parallel effort.

And for years the Chinese have resisted the conversation, according to several former American officials who tried to engage them in joint planning. The Chinese feared that if news of a conversation leaked, Beijing would be seen as conspiring with the United States over plans for an eventual North Korean collapse, eroding any leverage that Beijing still held over Mr. Kim.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Chinese forces would reach these North Korean nuclear sites long before the U.S. does.

Picture Of The Day

Currently only three countries (Russia, the US and China) possess a full-fledged "nuclear triad." The RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile during the military parade marking the 72nd anniversary of Victory in the 1941-45 Great Patriotic War on Red Square, Moscow. © Sputnik/ Alexander Vilf

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... The Backbone of Russia's 'Nuclear Triad': Strategic Missile Forces (Sputnik).

South Korean And U.S. Forces Conduct Joint Exercises For Removing North Korean WMDs

Photo: U.S. Forces Korea Commander Vincent Brooks (center) and South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Jeong Kyeong-doo (right) look at a soldier testing equipment in Seoul last week. Courtesy of U.S. Forces Korea

KBS: S. Korea, US Held Joint Drill to Counter N. Korea's WMDs

South Korea and the United States conducted a joint exercise last week to train in identifying and destroying North Korea's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) such as missiles and nuclear weapons.

According to military authorities on Sunday, the two sides' militaries held the "Warrior Strike" drill at a U.S. military base in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province from last Tuesday and Friday.

During the regular exercise, the allied forces conducted mock operations to locate and eliminate North Korea's WMD facilities.

Read more ....

More News On South Korean And U.S. Forces Conducting Joint Exercises For Removing North Korean WMDs

South Korea, US conduct exercises for removing North Korean weapons of mass destruction: report -- The Hill
S.Korea, U.S. Practice Destroying N.Korea's WMDs -- Chosun llbo
S. Korean, US forces hold drill for removing North Korea's WMDs -- Korea Herald/Yonhap
US sends HUNDREDS of troops to destroy North Korea's nukes in 'Warrior Strike' mission -- Daily Star
South Korea, US hold training drills to remove North Korea’s WMDs --

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Australian Charged With Brokering North Korea Missile Sales

The Independent: North Korea: Australian man charged with brokering missile deals for secretive communist state

'This man was a loyal agent of North Korea, who believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose'

A man accused of brokering missile deals with North Korea has been arrested by Australian police.

Chan Han Choi, 59, has been charged with brokering sales and discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction.

The Australia Federal Police alleged Mr Choi was acting as an economic agent for the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and was therefore in breach of United Nations and Australian sanctions.

Read more ....

More News On An Australian Man Being Charged With Brokering North Korea Missile Sales

Sydney man charged with acting as agent for North Korea -- The Australian
North Korea's Australian 'agent' probably wanted to sell missile secrets to other countries, experts say -- ABC Online
Sydney man charged with brokering North Korea missile sales -- CNBC/AP
N. Korea 'Agent' Charged with WMD Sale Plot in Australia --
North Korea: Australian police charge man for illegal arms deals -- DW

Honduras’ Electoral Court Declares Incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez Election Winner

Honduras President and National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez addresses the media at the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa, Honduras December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

DW: Honduras: President Juan Orlando Hernandez declared election winner

The electoral court in Honduras has declared incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez as the winner of last month's election. The opposition has claimed electoral fraud.

Incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez won last month's contested election by 1.53 percentage points over center-left opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, Honduras' electoral court said Sunday.

"This means the president elect for the Republic of Honduras for the next four years is Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado," said David Matamoros, the head of the electoral court, in a televised address.

Nasralla and his opposition alliance have claimed the November 26 presidential vote was marked by fraud and irregularities.

Nasralla and his ally, former President Manuel Zelaya, called for renewed protests.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The opposition believes the election result was fixed, and they are going to protest.

More News On Honduras’ Electoral Court Declaring Incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez As The Election Winner

Honduras’ electoral court declares president election winner -- AP
Honduras tribunal says incumbent Hernandez won election -- Reuters
Honduran Court Declares President as Winner of Disputed Election -- Wall Street Journal
Juan Orlando Hernandez Reelected as President of Honduras -- Sputnik International
OAS says 'serious questions' remain over Honduras election -- Business Insider

Former Chilean Leader Sebastian Pinera Returns To The Presidency With A Sweeping Win In Today's Election

Presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera and his wife Cecilia wave to supporters after winning Chile's presidential election, in Santiago, December 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

The Telegraph: Former leader of Chile Sebastian Pinera returns to office after beating left-wing opponent

Former Chilean leader Sebastian Pinera on Sunday night became president elect for the second time after comfortably winning an election that was expected to came down to the wire.

Mr Pinera, a conservative billionaire businessman who held office between 2010 and 2014, beat Alejandro Guillier, a journalist turned politician from the centre left.

With more than 90 percent of the vote in, Mr Guillier congratulated his opponent while conceding defeat with 45.4 percent of the vote to Pinera's 54.5 percent.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The vote was not even close .... 54.5% vs. 45.4%.

More News On Conservative ex-President Pinera Easily Winning Today's Election In Chile

The Latest: Pinera thanks supporters for win in Chile vote -- AP
Conservative ex-President Pinera easily wins Chile election -- AP
Billionaire Pinera recaptures Chile presidency with resounding win -- Reuters
Chile election: conservative Piñera elected president -- BBC
Sebastián Piñera Wins Chile's Presidential Election -- New York Times
As Latin America turns rightward, Chile returns former President Sebastian Piñera to office -- Los Angeles Times
Billionaire Pinera Sweeps to Victory in Chile Run-Off Election -- Bloomberg

President Putin Calls And Thanks President Trump For CIA Intel That Helped To Prevent A Major Terror Attack In St. Petersburg

TASS: Putin thanks Trump for CIA data that helped prevent terror attack in St. Petersburg

According to the Russian president, the CIA information was enough to expose and detain the criminals

MOSCOW, December 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked his US counterpart, Donald Trump, for CIA information that helped arrest terrorist who had plotted bomb attacks in St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral and in other crowded places in Russia’s second largest city, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday after a telephone conversation between the two leaders.

"The Russian president thanked his US counterpart for information shared by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that helped trace, expose and detain a group of terrorists who had plotted explosions in St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral and in other crowded places in that city," the press service said, adding that the conversation was initiated by the Russian side.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The take-down of this terror cell was first reported on Friday, but no one was aware of the CIA angle .... ISIS cell planned attacks on Kazan Cathedral & other St. Petersburg landmarks, foiled by FSB (RT). Apparently this terror cell was not only going to set-off multiple explosions, but they were also targeting St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral. Bottom line .... if this terror attack was successful, the casualty rate would have been enormous. It should also be noted that many in the past have been critical on President Trump sharing intel with Russia, especially when it comes to ISIS .... Did President Trump Give Russia The Contents Of A Classified, And Highly Sensitive, Israeli Intelligence Operation? (November 23, 2017). Thankfully .... President Trump has a different point of view. Intel on terror groups should be shared .... the consequences of not cooperating could be dire for everyone involved. On a side note .... someone asked me a few days ago on why do Russians have a positive view towards President Trump .... even with all the problems in current U.S. - Russian relations. This will be one more reason why.

More News On President Putin Calling And Thanking President Trump For The CIA Intel That Helped To Prevent A Major Terror Attack In St. Petersburg

Kremlin on Putin-Trump Talks: CIA Gave Russia Intel That Helped Foil Terror Act -- Sputnik
Trump, Putin Welcome Foiled Terror Attack as Positive Example of Cooperation -- Sputnik
Trump to Putin: US was glad to save many lives in Russia by helping foil major terrorist attack -- RT
U.S. helped thwart major attack in St. Petersburg: U.S., Russia say -- Reuters
Kremlin says Putin thanked Trump for CIA tip on bombings -- AP
Putin thanks Trump for CIA intel that foiled a planned terrorist attack in Russia -- Washington Post
Trump and Putin speak AGAIN as Russian president phones Camp David to thank Trump for CIA tip that prevented St. Petersburg terror attack -- Daily Mail
CIA 'helped foil terrorist attack in Russia' -- Euronews
Putin called Trump to thank CIA for tip on bomb threat -- ABC News
Putin thanks Trump for CIA's help in stopping terror attacks -- CNN
Putin thanks Trump for tip that prevented terror attack -- The Hill
Russia's Vladimir Putin thanks Donald Trump for helping foil terror attack -- DW

This Close Ally Of President Trump Believes His Days Are Numbered

Roger Stone and President Trump

Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair: “Nikki Haley Stuck a Knife in His Back”: Roger Stone Is Already Writing the Story of Trump’s Downfall

One of Trump’s closest allies believes the president could be removed from office by disloyal Cabinet members—and he’s writing a book about it.

In the closing days of the Alabama Senate election, Steve Bannon told people that Donald Trump’s political survival depended on Trump supporting Roy Moore. Bannon’s argument, according to those who spoke with him, was that establishment Republicans and Democrats would use Moore’s defeat as a political weapon to force Trump to face the sexual harassment allegations that have dogged him since the 2016 election. Bannon called Alabama Trump’s “firebreak.”

Last night, the flames leapt into the West Wing. Moore’s dramatic loss to Democrat Doug Jones in a state Trump carried by 62 percent is sowing panic among some of Trump’s kitchen Cabinet. “This shows the public is taking the sexual harassment issue seriously. The president has a big problem,” a Republican close to the White House told me. Even before the election, Democrats renewed calls for Trump to resign for his alleged treatment of women. This week, three of Trump’s accusers launched a media tour to elevate the issue. Even a member of Trump’s administration weighed in. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Face the Nation that Trump’s accusers should be “heard” and “dealt with.”

Read more ....

Update #1: Roger Stone working on book about Trump's removal from office (The Hill)
Update #2: Roger Stone Is Convinced That Robert Mueller Will Be Donald Trump's Demise (Alert Net)

WNU Editor: It takes a lot to remove a sitting President .... especially a U.S. President. And even if Robert Mueller does produce a report that details President Trump obstructing justice .... many would wonder (like myself) on how can you charge someone for obstructing justice when he did not obstruct you. Bottom line .... Robert Mueller will need a smoking gun to prove his case, and I just do not see that now. As for Roger Stone .... he sees a concerted effort from many in Washington to do all that is necessary to remove President Trump .... and he believes that they will succeed because President Trump will be betrayed by those who are the closest to him. Caesar said "Et tu Brutus", will President trump say the same thing? I guess we will be finding out in the months and years to come.

Top FBI Justice Department Officials Will Be Subpoenaed On Their Investigation Of President Trump

Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr

Politico: GOP lawmaker: Top FBI officials will be subpoenaed

A Republican on the House judiciary committee said Saturday he's gotten a commitment from committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to subpoena top officials at the FBI and Justice Department in their ongoing inquiry into claims of bias against President Donald Trump.

Republicans have zeroed in on deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, top counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, FBI attorney Lisa Page, former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who reportedly worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled opposition research on Trump in 2016.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This will be the first question that will be asked .... Was the Steele Dossier Used to Obtain a FISA Warrant Against Trump’s Campaign? (Andrew C. McCarthy, NRO).

More News On Reports That Congress Will Be Issuing Subpoenas To FBI And Justice Department Officials On Their Investigation Of President Trump

FBI and Justice Department Officials Might be Probed for Alleged Anti-Trump Bias -- Newsweek
GOP rep says he has assurance FBI, DOJ officials will be subpoenaed -- The Hill
Top FBI And DOJ Officials To Be Subpoenaed: McCabe, Strzok, Page In The Crosshairs -- Zero Hedge

Poll: Robert Mueller And The FBI Are Facing A Crisis In 'Public Confidence'

Robert Mueller. Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

The Hill: Mueller, FBI face crisis in public confidence

Sixty-three percent of polled voters believe that the FBI has been resisting providing information to Congress on the Clinton and Trump investigations. This is a remarkable finding for an agency whose new head said a few days ago that the agency was in fine shape. No, it isn’t.

Fifty-four percent say special counsel Robert Mueller has conflicts of interest that prevent him from doing an unbiased job, also according to this month’s Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. So, given this finding, the silence from the special counsel on the subject has become downright deafening.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This has not been a good two weeks for the Mueller Commission. After the Flynn plea deal the momentum and support was with the Mueller Commission .... I do not see it now. And among those who have been consistent in supporting the investigation .... the media, Democrats, and some Republicans .... a growing shift that this perceived bias may result in the termination of the Commission. I personally believe that the Mueller Commission will continue, and they will go where the investigation will take them. But they are definitely under pressure to produce, and more importantly .... they are under a different spotlight now. The CAPS-Harris poll says that fifty-four percent believe that special counsel Robert Mueller has conflicts of interest that prevent him from doing an unbiased job .... these are numbers that will only become more negative if the current trend of perceived bias continues and evidence of Trump-Russian collusion are not presented and indictments delivered.

More News On Growing Doubts In The Mueller Investigation And In The FBI

DOJ fuels doubts about integrity of Mueller probe -- Politico
Robert Mueller's 'pit bull' is coming under intense scrutiny over perceived anti-Trump bias -- Allan Smith, Business Insider
Republicans are worried about the integrity of Mueller's team. That's overblown. -- Washington Post
Yes, Investigate the Investigators -- NRO Editorial

Should A Special Prosecutor Be Appointed To Probe Anti-Trump Bias In The FBI?

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is sworn in to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to become U.S. attorney general on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The Hill: Republicans want special prosecutor to probe FBI anti-Trump bias

Republicans pressed the US Justice Department on Wednesday to name a new independent prosecutor to probe alleged bias in the FBI after a top agent's anti-Trump text messages were released to the media.

With Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation increasingly threatening President Donald Trump's inner circle, Republican legislators said the private messages between the agent and a department lawyer, both formerly part of the Mueller team, undermines his investigation's credibility.

They also cited fresh evidence of bias of others in the Justice Department and on Mueller's team, including links to Trump's former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, as signs that his probe cannot be carried out fairly.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Attorney General Sessions is saying no to a special prosecutor, but the questions on bias in the FBI keep on coming .... Sessions Balks At Second Special Counsel: Says Recent FBI Bombshell May Have "Innocent Explanation" (Zero Hedge)

Are Anti-Trump Texts From Former Mueller Team Member A Reason To Be Concern?

CNN: Months-worth of FBI employees' texts dreading Trump victory released to Congress

(CNN)A series of text messages exchanged between top FBI employees referring to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump as an "idiot" and "d*uche," while fearing his potential victory as "terrifying," were released to lawmakers Tuesday evening on Capitol Hill amid increasing demands to see them, according to documents reviewed by CNN.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that special counsel Robert Mueller had removed Peter Strzok, one of the FBI's top Russian counterintelligence experts, from his team after an internal investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general uncovered politically tinged messages exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Throughout the primary season in 2016, Strzok and Page appeared to dread a Trump victory, according to the messages reviewed by CNN.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It has been a week since these text disclosures have been made to the public, and the debate is intensifying. And while I do not think anyone is debating that an investigator can have political opinions .... but wow .... the optics of senior FBI officials discussing in the FBI building on the top floor on what to do with then candidate Donald Trump are beyond horrible. And while some are saying that these texts should never have been released .... DOJ says no wrongdoing in release of FBI agent's texts (Bloomberg), the Department of Justice has ended that argument .... DOJ says no wrongdoing in release of FBI agent's texts (CNN). Not surprising .... some people want answers .... After mysterious 'insurance policy' text, will Justice Department reveal more on FBI agent bounced from Mueller probe? (Byron York, Washington Examiner).

More News On The Anti-Trump Texts From Former Mueller Team Members

In texts, FBI agents on Russia probe called Trump an 'idiot' -- Politico
Ousted FBI agent reportedly referred to Trump as an 'idiot' and disparaged Democratic officials -- Business Insider
DOJ provides Congress with hundreds of texts between ex-Mueller team agent Peter Strzok and alleged mistress Lisa Page -- Washington Examiner
Republicans turn focus to FBI's McCabe over texts on 'insurance' against Trump -- FOX News
Peter Strzok’s ‘Insurance Policy’ -- Stewart Baker, Lawfare
Grassley to DoJ: You’d better explain Strzok’s “insurance policy” against Trump -- Hot Air

President Trump's Lawyers Will Meet With Special Counsel Robert Mueller And Members Of His Team This Week

CNN: Trump lawyers set for key meeting with special counsel next week

(CNN)President Donald Trump's private lawyers are slated to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and members of his team as soon as next week for what the President's team considers an opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the next steps in Mueller's probe, according to sources familiar with the matter.

While the lawyers have met with Mueller's team before and might again, the sources believe the upcoming meeting has greater significance because it comes after the completion of interviews of White House personnel requested by the special counsel and after all requested documents have been turned over. Mueller could still request more documents and additional interviews. No request to interview the President or the vice president has been made, sources tell CNN.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I expect Robert Mueller and his team will give these lawyers zero information. But a good lawyer will know that there are other dynamics at play .... and how the Mueller team will answer their questions, their body language, tone of voice, etc. .... will give President Trump's lawyers a good indication on where this is all going, specifically on how it will impact their client.

Mueller Investigation Seizes Tens Of Thousands Of Emails From President Trump's Transition Team

Axios: Trump officials demand Mueller return thousands of emails

Officials of President Trump's transition team plan to ask Special Counsel Robert Mueller to return "many tens of thousands" of transition emails they contend were unlawfully provided to him. But the prosecutor's office says emails being used in the investigation were properly obtained.

What's new: A source close to Trump's transition, which still exists as a legal entity so it can shut down what was once a 1,000-person operation, said the transition will send a letter to Mueller informing him that some of the emails are privileged, and asking for their return. The transition says it is willing to provide Mueller with vetted emails.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Mueller team is defending its actions .... Mueller team defends obtaining Trump transition emails (The Hill). As to what is my take .... I am raising an eyebrow .... I recall very clearly that the Mueller Commission was established to investigate events before the election .... so why this? The answer is revealed by Mueller spokesman's explanation to The Hill .... these emails are being used to question witnesses (i.e. search for a process crime), as well as looking for new leads. I am not impressed. This seizure of emails is just making the case for the critics of the Mueller investigation that the Commission has put aside its original mandate and is now on a partisan fishing expedition.

More News On The Mueller Investigation Seizing Tens Of Thousands Of Emails From President Trump's Transition Team

Special counsel obtains thousands of Trump transition emails -- AP
Trump allies say Mueller unlawfully obtained thousands of emails -- Reuters
Trump team claims Russia investigator 'unlawfully' got emails -- AFP
Trump transition lawyer: Mueller improperly obtained documents in Russia probe -- FOX News
Trump lawyer accuses Mueller of improperly obtaining transition emails -- NBC
Donald Trump's transition team says Robert Mueller unlawfully obtained thousands of emails -- ABC News Online
Robert Mueller Obtains Thousands of Trump Transition Emails -- TIME
Donald Trump attacks FBI's 'really disgraceful' handling of Hillary Clinton email probe -- ABC News Online

Another Major American TV Newscaster Gets Hit By Claims Of Sexual Harrasement

NBC: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was reprimanded over comments about woman in 1999

MSNBC host Chris Matthews was accused of inappropriate jokes and comments about a female employee in 1999 and the woman was paid separation compensation, a spokesperson for the cable network confirmed Saturday.

The Daily Caller, citing two sources familiar with the situation, first reported the news of the payment which it said was made by Matthews to settle with what it said was an assistant producer on his show "Hardball with Chris Matthews" in 1999.

"In 1999 this matter was thoroughly reviewed and dealt with. At that time Matthews received a formal reprimand," the MSNBC spokesperson said in an email Saturday.

Read more ....

Update #1: NBC Made Payment To Staffer After Sexual Harassment Claim Against Chris Matthews (Daily Caller)
Update #2: Female Staffer Who Accused Chris Matthews of Sexual Harassment Received Severance from NBC (Variety)

WNU Editor: Chris Matthews will probably still keep his show, but I have lost count on the number of news broadcasters that I have been following for years .... and using them on this blog .... that are now gone because of sexual harassment claims. The shock to someone like me who follows the news very closely .... that these men who in the past year basically said the following .... "have you no decency, sir” .... have behaved like the predators and pervs that they passed judgement on. And in the case of NBC, it looks like the problem is just the tip of iceberg .... "MSNBC refused to say whether or not this is the only claim against Matthews."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Do What I Say Not What I Do

The Babylon Bee: ‘Internet Service Providers Should Not Be Able To Decide What People Can See Online,’ Says Man Who Decides What People Can See Online

MENLO PARK, CA—Tech titan Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, came out strongly against the repeal of net neutrality Friday, calling the rollback of the Obama-era regulation an “injustice.”

“Internet Service Providers should not be able to decide what people can see online,” the man who decides what two billion people can see online every day said in a Facebook video that was placed in front of the precise amount of people he wished. “It’s a violation of a free and open internet.”

“Furthermore, ISPs should not be able to charge more for certain content,” Zuckerberg intoned, though part of his $523 billion company’s revenue comes from throttling the reach of publishers’ content unless the publisher pays Facebook to show their content to people who signed up to see it anyway.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The same can be said about other supporters of Net Neutrality .... Google, Microsoft, Twitter, etc.. and who were conveniently left out of President Oabam's NN regulations. The outrage over the abolition of NN is so out of place that I do not even know where to begin.

Previous Post: My Take On Today's Repeal Of U.S. Government Regulations And Rules Over The Internet (December 14, 2017).

Russian Diplomacy Has Limits In Syria

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura gives a press conference closing a round of Intra Syria peace talks at the European headquarters of the United Nations offices in Geneva, on December 14, AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI

Reuters/Haaretz: As Russia Redraws the Map in Syria, Putin and Iran Are Left With One Major Disagreement

Russian diplomacy in Syria is not seen as likely to yield a peace deal, while Putin and Iranian leaders differ on how best to deal with Syria's armed Kurds

With the map of Syria's conflict decisively redrawn in President Bashar al-Assad's favor, his Russian allies, Iran included, want to convert military gains into a settlement that stabilises the shattered nation and secures their interests in the region - a prospect the Israeli government strongly objects to.

A year after the opposition's defeat in Aleppo, government forces backed by Russia and Iran have recovered large swathes of territory as Islamic State's "caliphate" collapses.

As UN-backed talks in Geneva fail to make any progress, Russia is preparing to launch its own political process in 2018. President Vladimir Putin declared mission accomplished for the military on a visit to Russia's Syrian air base this week, and said conditions were ripe for a political solution.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia may have played a major role in the military conflict in Syria, but its influence on the political process does have limits .... Russia’s military victory masks diplomatic impotence in Syria (Julien Barnes-Dace, European Council On Foreign Affairs)

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 17, 2017

Benjamin Bahney and Patrick B. Johnston, Foreign Affairs: ISIS Could Rise Again

What Its Last Resurrection Says About Its Future in Iraq and Syria

“The dream of a liberation is now a reality,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed last week, when his forces drove ISIS from a few final strongholds. Abadi’s declaration of victory did not seem unwarranted. After three years, Iraqi and Kurdish fighters, backed by an 80-country U.S.-led coalition, have reclaimed all of the territory ISIS once controlled in Iraq and the key cities it held in Syria. The Islamic State no longer has much of a claim to calling itself a state at all.

But the victory is incomplete—and not just when it comes to the challenges of ISIS-inspired lone-wolf attacks, foreign fighters returning home from Iraq and Syria, and the persistence of ISIS franchises elsewhere. While such concerns are real, a more dangerous scenario also deserves some attention: ISIS could resurrect its caliphate where it was born, in Iraq and Syria. It has been planning for such a resurrection since at least 2016, and quietly preparing since well before losing Raqqa in October.

Most ominously, ISIS has a tried-and-true playbook for bringing itself back from near death. Just a few years ago, it managed to resurrect itself after apparent defeat. And the history of that resurrection should serve as a warning of what may be coming now.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 16, 2017

The Syrian regime has made many gains this year, but it is too early to tell whether it's game over -- Hassan Hassan, The National

Russia’s military victory masks diplomatic impotence in Syria -- Julien Barnes-Dace, European Council On Foreign Affairs

4 Things the World Learned from North Korea in 2017 -- Robert E Kelly, National Interest

War With North Korea Appears More Imminent Than Ever -- Doug Bandow, American Conservative

Why China’s Internet Censorship Model Will Prevail Over Russia’s -- Valentin Weber, Council On Foreign Relations

Pakistan’s economic fortunes now in the hands of the IMF -- F.M. Shakil, Asia Times

Poland is the Saudi Arabia of NATO -- Washington Post

Europe's Leaders Watch Populism Rise -- Anne-Sylvaine Chassany & Guy Chazan, Financial Times

Vladimir Putin takes spotlight as Eurasia connector -- Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Why Russia Punches Above Its Weight in Global Affairs -- Steven Metz, WPR

How Putin's proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns -- Ruth May, Dallas News

Change Is Coming to Cuba -- Scott B. MacDonald, National Interest

Trump’s Security Strategy and the New Nuclear World -- Evan Moore, RCD

What Will ‘Actually Solve’ Terrorism Problem? -- James Kitfield, Breaking Defense

How the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers -- James L. Greenfield, Salon

World News Briefs -- December 17, 2017

Newsweek: North Korea Missile Launch Fears as Tens of Thousands Mourn Dead Leaders

On the anniversary of the death of former North Korea leader Kim Jong-Il, the secretive state has released footage of thousands of mourners bowing and laying flowers at the feet of statues of Jong-Il—who died on December 17, 2011—and national founder Kim Il Sung.

Senior party officials also visited a mausoleum on the outskirts of North Korea’s capital Pyongyang that contains the body of Kim Il Sung, according to local media, on the day that experts feared Kim Jong Un may launch a new missile test in tribute to his father and grandfather.

Read more ....


Syria blame game continues after failed Geneva talks .

Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills 10 women in Yemen.

Kuwaiti newspaper: Israel attacked Iranian military factories in Syria.

Mattis: Pressure on Iran will be diplomatic, not military.

Erdogan says Turkey aims to open embassy in East Jerusalem.

UN weighs resolution rejecting US Jerusalem decision.

Palestinian billionaire Masri released by Saudis; says they 'gave him all respect'.

Nazareth Christmas celebrations will be held as normal: mayor.


U.S. hails Afghan forces’ battlefield gains, urges Taliban to seek talks with Kabul.

Eleven police killed in attacks in Afghanistan.

Car bomber attacks NATO convoy in Afghanistan.

Afghan Ambassador: Taliban have devolved but must be brought into peace process.

India 'most reliable regional partner' of Afghanistan, says Pentagon.

IS claims pre-Christmas suicide bombing of Pakistan church, eight dead. Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan, killing 8.

Fears Kim will launch ANOTHER missile to mark the sixth anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death as thousands of North Koreans mark a national day of mourning.

North Korea: Australian police charge man for illegal arms deals.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to visit Japan for talks with counterpart Taro Kono on Tuesday.

Thousands disappear as China polices thought.


Boko Haram: Nigeria troops arrest 400 linked to extremist group, including women and children.

Nigeria military rescues 4 Chinese nationals from pirates.

UN reports ethnic violence in South Sudan.

More protests in Togo as president chairs ECOWAS summit.

Gabon arrests dozens in knife attack that wounded two Danes.

Libya strongman says UN-backed government's mandate expired.

Jacob Zuma makes last major speech as ANC party head. Jacob Zuma: Mandela's liberation movement meets in South Africa in vote to replace President.

Egyptian presidential hopeful apologizes to arrested supporters.


Brexit: EU leaders warn of tough times ahead as negotiations move to second phase.

Austrian conservatives bring far right into government.

European right-wing leaders meet in Prague, slam EU and immigration. ‘EU is killing Europe’: Far-right leaders call for end to ‘disastrous’ union.

Catalan left seeks socialist coalition as crucial election looms .

Italy's ruling PD party slips further in polls, newspaper reports.

Macron criticised for celebrating 40th birthday in royal style.

France to ban mobile phones in schools from September.

Intelligence leaks reveal Erdogan regime arming criminal Turkish gangs in Germany.

Honoured guests: Prince Charles joins royal elite at funeral for Romania's Michael I as tens of thousands mourn the monarch who shunned the Nazis only to be forced to abdicate by Communists.


Billionaire, former journalist face off for Chile presidency.

Peruvian officials begin impeachment process against president Kuczynski. Peru president rejects demands he resign over corruption allegations.

Brazil's Workers Party formalizes support for ex-president Lula.

Hondurans accuse US of election meddling.

Honduran helicopter crash kills six, including president's sister.

Victims of Mexico military abuses shudder at new security law.

Mexico presidential race roiled as leftist front-runner embraces right wing party.

Canadian-Iranian who conspired to export weapons to Iran sentenced to prison in U.S..

Venezuela gives Russia's Rosneft gas field concessions: Rosneft.


Taliban, Haqqani network members roam free in Pakistan: Pentagon.

In Europe and US, homegrown jihadists the main threat.

'An attack could happen at any time': Former anti-terror chief says there should be 'no surprise' if terrorists strike Britain before Christmas as he warns 20,000 extremists currently roam our streets.

40,000 people took up arms for IS in Syria, Iraq.


Canadian oil prices plunge to $30.

End of an era: Boeing 747 takes last US commercial flight.

Second bitcoin futures debut could lure volume to wild market.

Sky News faces uncertain future after Disney-Fox deal.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 17, 2017

VOA: Trump Set to Unveil First National Security Strategy

President Donald Trump is set to unveil on Monday his strategy to counter what he considers the most dire global threats to the United States.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, gave a preview of the administration's new national security policy on Tuesday at a conference hosted by the London-based policy research organization Policy Exchange.

"Geopolitics are back and they are back with a vengeance," McMaster told the audience.

McMaster said Trump's policy is driven by four key priorities: protecting the homeland, advancing and protecting U.S. prosperity, maintaining peace through strength, and advancing U.S. influence.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 16, 2017

Air Force says Russia made up an incident over Syria between an F-22 and an Su-35 in response to a critical NYT story -- Business Insider

Mattis Warns of Unsafe Russian Military Flights Over Syria --

Russia could cut off internet to NATO countries, British military chief warns -- NBC

Russia to test-fire 12 intercontinental missiles in 2018 - Defense Ministry -- TASS

After S-400 Deal, Is Putin Planning a Russian Military Base in Turkey? -- Eurasian Times

China, Russia wrap up anti-missile drills simulating ‘sudden and provocative attacks’ -- SCMP

China's Second Aircraft Carrier Is Its Most Crucial Yet -- Popular Mechanics

Is Chinese Militarization Of Pakistan Beginning? -- Lawrence Sellin, Daily Caller

Iran’s missile arsenal in striking range of Europe, parts of Asia -- Al Arabiya

Iranian Navy Capable of Building 200-Meter-Long Aircraft Carriers: Commander -- Tasnim News

ARA San Juan: Argentina fires head of navy over submarine tragedy -- ABC News Online

Mexico Strengthens Military's Role in Drug War, Outraging Critics -- New York Times

UK Government is accused of showing 'total disrespect' to British troops who died in the Falklands War as tax and NHS websites call them Malvinas -- Daily Mail

British MPs say defence chiefs must cut a staggering £9.8BILLION from budget just to buy warships and stealth fighters needed by the military -- Daily Mail

NATO is concerned Russia just broke one of the most important Cold War arms control pacts -- AP

Ground force: Half of France's military planes 'unfit to fly' -- The Telegraph

German military kicks off heavy lift helicopter competition: source -- Reuters

S. Korean, U.S. forces hold drill for removing North Korea's WMDs -- Yonhap News Agency

US Army Gets Brand-New, Lethal Armored Vehicle to Counter Russia Threat in Europe -- Newsweek

Special Analysis: Navy Maps the Future of Amphibious Warfare -- Scout Warrior

Trump's 'Impossible' Plan for a 350-Ship Navy Is Sinking Fast -- Motherboard

How the Pentagon's cyber offensive against ISIS could shape the future for elite US forces -- Washington Post

GAO: Upgrading to new GPS will cost billions more than planned -- C4ISRNet

The Marine Corps Is Testing a Fully Autonomous Huey Helicopter -- Popular Mechanics

Self-flying helicopters could change future of warfare -- CBS

Congress Should Request New A-10 “Warthogs” -- Ops Lens

The Air Force Is Performing Some Intense Tests On The Army’s Slick New Handgun -- Task & Purpose

Cautious Hawaii Prepares for a Nuclear Attack -- News

A road map and recipe for US-India defense ties -- Keith Webster, Defense News

Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us? -- Laurence Kotlikoff, Forbes

A Mistake Should Not Kill a Sailor's Career -- U.S. Naval Institute

Are the U.S. Marines Dying? -- Michael Peck, National Interest

Wreaths Across America honors 9/11 casualties at the Pentagon -- Stars and Stripes

U.S. Military Declassifies 62 Nuclear Explosion Videos

Business Insider: Newly declassified videos of Cold War atomic blasts reveal the terrifying power of nuclear weapons

* The US government has uploaded 62 newly declassified nuclear-explosion videos to YouTube.
* The footage is a small share of the 10,000 Cold War-era films that archivists and physicists are trying to rescue.
* Re-analysis of the old movies will help the military modernize its nuclear weapons stockpile — and maybe prevent their use.

Nuclear weapons researchers and archivists working for the US government have declassified 62 never-before-seen films of atomic explosions .

The new batch of videos joins 63 other clips of Cold War-era test-blasts, bringing the total to 125 declassified films now available to watch on YouTube. (We've embedded the playlist at the end of this story.)

Hundreds more of these decaying films could reach the internet as high-definition videos in the coming months as the team tracks the videos down in warehouses, digitally scans them, and re-analyzes them for crucial data. Then, if they don't reveal any secrets that North Korea or other adversaries might not have, they release the videos on YouTube.

Read more ....

Update #1: Watch: Nuclear Missile Tests in Cold War Seen in Newly Declassified Videos -- Newsweek
Update #2: Mushroom Clouds of Doom: New US Cold War Nuclear Test Footage Released (VIDEO) -- Sputnik International

WNU Editor: Most of these new videos can be seen at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory YOuTube's channel. The link is here.

This Damaged F-22 Raptor Is Flying Again

Popular Mechanics: After Six Years, Damaged F-22 Raptor Will Fly Again

The incident highlights just how tough the stealth jet is.

Six years after an accident that nearly saw the jet written off, a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor is about to take to the skies again. The fifth-generation fighter was damaged during a training mission in 2012 that sent it skidding thousands of feet down an air base runway. Now, after extensive repairs, the stealth jet is about to re-enter service.

The Raptor was damaged on May 31, 2012, when a trainee pilot was conducting touch and go landings at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. According to the Air Force Accident Investigation Board's findings, the pilot failed to accelerate the jet to military power and engaged “premature retraction of the landing gear.” Without enough thrust, the F-22, known by its USAF serial number 02-4037, fell back down to Earth and skidded on its belly for 2,800 feet. The pilot escaped from the damaged aircraft after it stopped, suffering only minor injuries. The pilot was reportedly only on his third flight in an F-22 when the accident occurred.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It may be a tough plane, but it still took years to repair it. 

President Trump To Remove ‘Climate Change’ From The List of National Security Threats

Daily Mail: Trump 'will REMOVE climate change from the list of national security threats': President 'set to reverse Obama's policy so he can prioritize other threats'

* President Trump is said to have removed climate change as a priority from his National Security Strategy
* In previous years, the issue was placed prominently among other threats to the country
* In Trump's version due to be released on Monday, it is less emphasized
* He focuses his climate policies instead towards global economic growth and energy security
* It falls in line with the president's stance on global climate policy and follows his decision earlier this year to withdraw the US from The Paris Agreement
* The US is now the only country in the world which is not participating in the agreement
* As Trump finalized his Strategy this week, 50 world leaders met in Brussels to discuss climate change

President Trump has removed climate change from his National Security Strategy which is due to be released on Monday, it has been claimed.

The Federalist, which claims to have had access to a draft version of the document, says it will prioritize other threats instead.

Any mention of climate policies is angled not towards global warming but instead is tied to economic growth and energy security.

Read more ....

Update: Trump Admin To Remove Climate Change From List Of National Security Threats -- The Federalist

Peru’s President Facing Impeachment Vote

New York Times: Peru’s President Faces Possible Ouster in Corruption Scandal

LIMA, Peru — Lawmakers voted on Friday to begin proceedings that could oust President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru, the latest leader accused of involvement in a corruption scandal that has shaken some of Latin America’s biggest countries.

The dispute involves Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction giant, which last year admitted to paying roughly $800 million in payoffs in exchange for lucrative projects. That revelation set off a flurry of investigations by prosecutors and lawmakers, principally in Latin America, seeking to learn who was on the receiving end of the payments.

According to documents sent to Congress and released this week, Odebrecht paid $782,000 in advisory fees to Westfield Capital, a company Mr. Kuczynski owns. Most of the payments occurred between 2004 and 2007, while Mr. Kuczynski served as Peru’s economy minister and prime minister.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The votes are there for him to be impeached.

More News On Peru’s President Facing An Impeachment Vote

Peru Odebrecht scandal: President Kuczynski faces impeachment -- BBC
Peru launches impeachment proceedings against President Kuczynski -- Los Angeles Times
Peru's congress launches process for president's ouster -- Washington Post
Peru President Kuczynski faces impeachment over graft scandal -- Deutsche Welle
Peruvian officials begin impeachment process against president Kuczynski -- The Guardian
Peru president rejects demands he resign over corruption allegations -- AFP
Odebrecht says dealings with Peru president were legitimate -- Reuters

This Stealth Drone Has No Moving Surfaces at All

BAE Systems

Popular Mechanics: New Stealth Drone Has No Moving Surfaces at All

The result is a lighter, simpler, stealthier airplane harder for radar to detect.

BAE Systems has unveiled a new aircraft design that could be a major advance in stealth technology. The new MAGMA drone does away with aircraft control surfaces, resulting in an aircraft whose shape remains constant throughout its entire flight. The small demonstration aircraft, which has completed a successful first flight, uses blown air to change direction instead of complex mechanical controls.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If this can be applied to bigger aircraft, it will revolutionize how planes fly.

A Look At How The U.S. Navy's Zumwalt-Class Destroyers Could Be Used In A New Korean War

An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant over the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt. Flickr/U.S. Navy/Creative Commons.

Robert Farley, National Interest: Could North Korea 'Sink' America's New Zumwalt-Class Destroyers?

The USS Michael Monsoor, second of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, recently embarked on trials and will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in the next year. While neither the Monsoor nor its older sister Zumwalt are likely to be ready to contribute to a war on the Korean Peninsula in the near future, the crisis show no signs of abating. As tensions between the United States and North Korea grow, it’s worth asking what role the largest, most lethal destroyers in the U.S. arsenal might play in the conflict.

In the first Korean War, the United States Navy used all four of its Iowa-class battleships, along with several gun-armed heavy cruisers, to bombard North Korean positions along the coast. This usage built upon the Navy’s experience during World War II, when heavy-gun-armed ships engaged in fire support during amphibious operations, and bombardment against Japanese coastal installations. While the operations against Korea were regarded as successful, they were not decisive; the Iowas could not strike at sufficient depth to disrupt Chinese and North Korean logistics. Still, the concept of attacks from the sea against land targets were deeply compelling to U.S. planners, as the U.S. Navy generally expected to have command of the sea.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If the US Navy wants to use this destroyer in any future conflict, they will have to overcome this problem .... Does The U.S. Navy's Newest Destroyer Really Need Shells For Its 'Big Guns'? (November 20, 2016).