Friday, May 25, 2018

More Details Emerge On A 4-Hour Battle That Killed Hundreds Of Russian Mercenaries And Syrian Soldiers Against U.S. And Kurdish Forces In February

SBS/New York Times: How a four-hour battle between Russian mercenaries and US commandos unfolded

The details of the February 7 firefight were gleaned from interviews and documents newly obtained by The New York Times.

The artillery barrage was so intense that the US commandos dived into foxholes for protection, emerging covered in flying dirt and debris to fire back at a column of tanks advancing under the heavy shelling.

It was the opening salvo in a nearly four-hour assault in February by around 500 pro-Syrian government forces — including Russian mercenaries — that threatened to inflame already simmering tensions between Washington and Moscow.

In the end, 200 to 300 of the attacking fighters were killed. The others retreated under merciless airstrikes from the United States, returning later to retrieve their battlefield dead. None of the Americans at the small outpost in eastern Syria — about 40 by the end of the firefight — were harmed.

Read more ....

Update #1: U.S. Attacks That Killed 'Hundreds' of Russians and Syrians Detailed in New Report (Newsweek)
Update #2: About 40 US soldiers held off hundreds of Russian mercenaries in a brutal firefight in Syria (Business Insider)

WNU Editor: A must read on what happens when a poorly planned mass assault against a U.S. Special Forces position that is supported by U.S. air strikes and artillery can do on an opposing force.

Russian President Putin Warns Of A Financial Crisis That The World ‘Has Not Yet Seen’

Daily Mail: Putin says the US could cause a global economic crisis because of Trump's trade wars and new era of 'protectionism'

* The Russian president was speaking at an economic summit in St Petersburg
* Also attending was Emmanuel Macron and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
* Putin said new era of protectionism was emerging, threatening global prosperity
* The French leader said he had a duty to keep working with the U.S. president

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the world could be heading for an unprecedented economic as a result of Donald Trump's trade policies.

Without directly naming the US President, who has slapped on tariffs and pulled out of trade deals, Putin lamented that a new era of protectionism was emerging and 'breaking' the free trade system responsible for global prosperity.

'Today we need not trade wars or even trade truces, but trade peace,' Putin told an economic summit in Saint Petersburg, also attended by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Read more ....

Update: Putin warns of financial crisis the world ‘has not yet seen’ (RT)

WNU Editor: When it comes to international crisis .... trade wars and protectionism .... coupled with the debt crisis .... are my number one worries. Wars are number two.

Russian President Putin Announces That He Will Not Run For President In 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin works at his desk in the Kremlin. / Global Look Press

RT: ‘Two terms in a row. That’s it’: Putin on the future of his presidency

When Vladimir Putin was asked if he’s planning to run for office again in 2024, he said he always follows the country’s Constitution that says only two terms in a row are possible.

“I always strictly followed and will follow the Constitution of Russia. The Constitution clearly states – no more than two terms in a row,” Putin said during a meeting with media heads as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday.

“Now is my second term. As you remember, I’ve been president twice previously and then abandoned the position of president because the constitution didn’t allow getting elected for the third time. That’s it. And I intend to follow this rule in the future,” the 65-year-old explained.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: He may position himself to be Prime Minister again (and it is a big maybe) .... Putin hints at becoming prime minister again in 2024 (AFP). But running as President again in 2030 .... definitely not.

More News On Russian President Putin Announcing That He Will Not Run For President In 2024

Putin vows to abide by two-term limit on consecutive presidential tenures -- TASS
Putin Says Adheres to Constitution, No More Than Two Presidential Terms in Row -- Sputnik
Putin says he will step down as president after term expires in 2024 -- CNBC

Commentaries And Analysis On The Cancellation Of The Singapore Summit

James Jay Carafano, National Interest: So Much for North Korea Summit. Now What?

The cancellation of an iffy summit does not trigger Armageddon.

The saga of the U.S.-North Korea talks resembles a soap opera with nuclear weapons. But in following the unfolding relationship between The Donald and the Rocket Man, anyone who expected anything other than a roller coaster bought a ticket to the wrong ride.

Today, the whole world will be on spin cycle, as commentators assess the implications of Trump’s letter canceling the talks. But, as was the case in 1986 when Reagan walked away from Reykjavik, so Trump’s letter will likely not be the last word in the bid to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Read more ....

Commentaries And Analysis On The Cancellation Of The Singapore Summit

Analysis: Mixed reaction to Trump stance on NKorea talks -- AP
Analysis: After Trump pullout, NKorea changes tune on summit -- AP
North Korea summit cancellation a setback to dealmaker Trump -- Jeff Mason, Reuters
Canceled summit could bring U.S., North Korea back into crisis mode -- Matt Spetalnick & Arshad Mohammed, Reuters
Donald Trump's North Korea gamble has backfired -- Matthias von Hein, DW
Trump walks away from Kim Jong Un -- Washington Examiner
Trump's North Korea U-turn: Art of the deal or a boon for regime? -- AFP
Trump balks at North Korea’s rhetoric but it has used worse -- AP
Donald Trump cancelling meeting with North Korea an unsurprising return to the norm -- Zoe Daniel, ABC News Online
What Sank the Kim-Trump Summit? -- Ramesh Thakur, Project Syndicate
North Korea talks: What's next now that Trump-Kim summit is off? -- Alastair Jamieson, NBC
Japan's Abe: North Korea should meet conditions before making long-term partnerships -- Reuters
Germany regrets collapse of Trump-Kim summit -- Reuters
UN 'deeply concerned by the cancellation' of Trump-Kim summit -- Al Jazeera

China Responds To President Trump's Cancellation Of The Singapore Summit

DW: China urges US, North Korea to remain calm, 'show goodwill'

US President Trump's decision to scrap his planned summit with N. Korean leader Kim Jong Un could hurt Washington's ties to Seoul and damage Trump's credibility and reputation, say Chinese analysts. William Yang reports.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump surprised the world by announcing his decision to suspend the proposed historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore.

The decision came after officials from both sides exchanged a series of hostile statements, repeatedly threatening to engage each other in a nuclear showdown.

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WNU Editor: China .... like South Korea .... were suppose to play a key middle-man role to insure the success of these talks. Clearly that has not worked, and U.S. suspicions on China's role in this collapse are justified. Unfortunately .... and I do not think the Chinese have properly calculated on what is going to happen next .... is that there is going to be blow-back that will be costly to the Chinese .... Collapse of Trump-Kim summit threatens to deepen U.S.-China rift (Reuters)

More News On China Responding To President Trump's Cancellation Of The Singapore Summit

U.S.-North Korea summit needed, Chinese VP Wang says -- Reuters
China urges U.S., North Korea to be patient and meet each other halfway -- Reuters
Ex-US ambassador to China: Beijing is 'very much in the driver's seat' on North Korea -- CNBC
China Urges U.S. And North Korea To Not Give Up On A Summit -- NPR
The North Korea summit crumbled after China lined up against it -- NBC
With summit cancellation, China reclaims strategic influence over North Korea -- Nathan Vander Klippe, Globe and Mail

South Korean Officials Shocked That President Trump Cancelled The Singapore Summit

South Korean government emergency meeting after President Trump cancelled the Singapore summit. South Korea Blue House

Reuters: Perplexed and disappointed: South Korea's Moon regroups after mediation failure

SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel next month’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un came as shock to South Korean officials, who only days ago were publicly predicting a “99.9 percent” chance the meeting would proceed as scheduled.

Already on shaky ground amid stalled talks with North Korea, South Korea’s ability to fulfill its self-assigned role of mediator between Pyongyang and Washington suffered the biggest blow yet when Trump apparently failed to give his allies in Seoul a heads up about his announcement.

The setback follows months of diplomatic progress that led to a historic summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.

Read more ....

WNU editor: The AP is questioning the role of South Korea President Moon's "middle man" role .... Canceled Trump-Kim summit tests Moon’s middleman role (AP). But the AP has forgotten that North Korea cut-off ties to Moon a few weeks ago .... North Korea suspends high level talks with South Korea over military drills with US (The Independent) .... so much for being the middle-man.

Update: This is what I call trying to save "face" .... U.S., South Korea to pursue talks between Washington and Pyongyang (Reuters)

Update #2: I agree, but some time will need to pass, and the North Koreans will have to make the first move .... South Koreans expect US-North Korea summit to take place 'eventually' despite cancellation (ABC News).

More News On South Korean Reaction To President Trump Canceling The Singapore Summit

South Korea is scrambling to figure out WTF just happened with the Trump-Kim summit -- VOX
Caught off guard by summit collapse, Seoul tries to play down impact -- SCMP
Disappointment in South Korea as Trump nixes summit with Kim -- Al Jazeera
Analysis - Perplexed and disappointed: South Korea's Moon regroups after mediation failure -- Reuters
Direct communication needed between leaders of North Korea, U.S., South Korea says -- Reuters
Photo hints at the mood in the room as South Korean officials learned Trump canceled the US-North Korea summit -- Business Insider/AOL
'No Nobel Peace Prize for Trump': South Koreans slam cancellation of summit -- Reuters

President Trump Says North Korean Summit May Be Back On

Reuters: On again? Trump says still chance of June 12 North Korea summit

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump dangled the possibility on Friday that a June 12 summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un could still take place, just a day after he canceled the meeting citing Pyongyang’s “open hostility.”

Trump indicated the summit could be salvaged after welcoming a conciliatory statement from North Korea saying it remained open to talks.

“It was a very nice statement they put out,” Trump said as he left the White House to deliver a commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy. “We’ll see what happens - it could even be the 12th.

“We’re talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The summit is not back on. The only way that President Trump will agree to a summit is if the North Koreans make major concessions on their nuclear weapons and missile programs, and they then start to implement them. For the U.S. this is the number one issue .... but for the North Koreans (if their latest public announcements are any indication) this is not even negotiable. In view of these non-negotiable differences .... I do not see how a summit can bring any benefits. So why the remarks from President Trump? My guess is that he is trolling those who want a summit irregardless on what has just happened ... a tactic that he has used more than once on a number of issues before.

More News On President Trump Saying That The North Korean Summit May Be Back On

Summit talk turns warmer; Trump says ‘talking to them now’ -- AP
Trump welcomes 'productive' N.Korea reaction on talks -- AFP
Trump welcomes North Korean response to talk cancellation -- Reuters
Trump says North Korea summit talks continue: 'Could even be the 12th' -- CNN
Trump teases that summit with Kim may be back on -- Politico
Trump says U.S., North Korea talking again -- Washington Times
Trump accuses Dems of ‘rooting against’ NKorea talks -- AP

North Korea Says It Still Wants To Meet President Trump

DW: North Korea still open to speaking with US after Donald Trump cancels summit

North Korea says President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was "extremely regrettable." China has also called for continued dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

North Korea said on Friday that it regretted US President Donald Trump's decision to cancel a June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but that it was still open to talks with the United States.

"The abrupt announcement of the cancellation of the meeting is unexpected for us and we cannot but find it extremely regrettable," North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said.

"We again state to the US our willingness to sit face-to-face at any time in any form to resolve the problem," Kim added.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When US Secretary of State Pompeo told US Senators yesterday that North Korean officials refused to discuss the protocols and issues that were to be discussed in Singapore .... even not answering their phones when pressed .... 'A lot of dial tones': The inside story of how Trump's North Korea summit fell apart (Washington Post) .... that was proof to me that the North Koreans were not serious on entering into negotiations. Now after the cancellation the North Koreans are saying they want to talk. In these situations there is a saying that comes to mind .... "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". Bottom line .... the U.S. is not going down this road again.

More News On North Korea Saying It Still Wants To Meet President Trump

North Korea ready to talk 'at any time' with Donald Trump -- BBC
North Korea Is Still Willing to Talk With U.S. 'At Any Time, At Any Format' -- AP
North Korea says still open to talks with US -- France 24
North Korea leaves door open for 'desperately necessary' Trump summit -- The Guardian
North Korea says it's still willing to meet Trump after US President cancels summit -- CNN
North Korea 'open to talks' despite Trump cancellation of summit -- Al Jazeera

World News Briefs -- May 25, 2018

Daily Mail: 'We're talking to them right now. They very much want to do it, we'd like to do it': Trump says June 12 with nuclear summit STILL a possibility a day after cancelling talks with Kim

* Trump wrote to Kim Jong-un to pull out of planned June 12 nuclear talks
* Hours later he allowed that the summit still could happen
* But in the same breath he warned Kim Jong-un that the U.S. military stands willing to hold him in check – and South Korea and Japan would foot the bill
* Trump wrote in his letter to Kim: You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never be used'
* VP Mike Pence told Fox News on Monday that North Korea could end up like Libya if it doesn't make a deal with Trump
* North Korea 's vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui fired back, calling Pence a 'political dummy' and 'ignorant and stupid'
* That led Trump to call off the Singapore face-to-face meeting with Kim – which he later allowed could be resurrected
* Sen. Marco Rubio chimed in, mocking Kim: 'In the words of a wise man, 'Congratulations, you just played yourself''

Donald Trump said Friday that a meeting with Kim Jong-un could be back on after North Korea recommitted to talks 'any time in any form' following the U.S. president's announcement that he was pulling out of a June 12 face-to-face with the dictator.

'We're talking to them right now. They very much want to do it. We'd like to do it. We're gonna see what happens,' he told reporters as he departed the White House for Annapolis, Maryland.

Read more ....


Syria regime warns Daraa rebels with air-dropped leaflets.

War, displacement reshuffle Syria's demographic map.

Lawfare? Syrian development plan alarms refugees and host nations.

Iran nuclear deal 'in intensive care' as signatories meet in Vienna.

Iran gives E.U. deadline to salvage nuclear deal.

US targets airlines in latest Iran sanctions move.

Turkey's economy at risk as currency hits record low.

Iraq's poor hopeful Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc will bring change.

Yemen declares disaster after Cyclone Mekunu; Oman in path next.

Four Saudi activists freed, one arrested as crackdown persists.


Trump: North Korea summit could still happen on 12 June.

North Korea nuclear test tunnels at Punggye-ri 'destroyed'.

Taiwan scrambles fighter jets to monitor Chinese bombers.

U.S. effort to stabilize Afghanistan is $5 billion failure, watchdog says.

Social media rumors trigger violence in India; 3 killed by mobs.

Police find $28m cash in raids linked to Malaysia ex-PM Najib.

Mike Pompeo: US diplomats 'treated badly' in Pakistan.

'Unprecedented' foreign interference in Australia: spy chief.


Five Congolese soldiers killed fighting rebel militia.

Libya: Deadly car bomb explosion rocks Benghazi.

South Africa's Ramaphosa authorizes graft probe into government departments.

NGOs demand the release of 26 activists in Niger.

South Sudan: Aid agencies struggle to reach those in need.

DR Congo boat sinking: River disaster kills 50 people.

Algerian blogger jailed for 10 years for spying.


GDPR: US news sites unavailable to EU users over data protection rules.

Presidents Macron and Putin meet as support for sanctions wanes.

Polls open in landmark Irish referendum to repeal abortion ban.

EU accession talks spark heated discussion in Western Balkans.

Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy faces no-confidence vote over illegal party funds.

MH17: Netherlands, Australia hold Russia responsible for downing plane.

France 'probes China spy ring': Two ex-agents reported held.

Prince William's trip to Israel, West Bank is history in the making: All the details.


Trump tells grads ‘you don’t give up, you don’t give in’.

Masked protesters wield homemade mortars as at least two people are killed and 50 wounded in violent anti-government clashes in Nicaragua.

Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro sworn in for a new term.

Barbados elects Mia Mottley as first woman PM.

Two men set off bomb in restaurant in Canada; 15 wounded.

Harvey Weinstein posts $1M CASH bail, agrees to wear GPS bracelet and plans to enter a plea of NOT GUILTY after he is seen smiling and laughing while being booked on rape charges.

Is Ecuador preparing to kick Julian Assange out? Wikileaks founder could leave London embassy 'any day' as US and Spain increase pressure to stop shielding him.


Indonesia passes tougher terror law after suicide attacks.

U.S.-backed Syrian forces arrest French Islamic State leader: SDF.

US has spent $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism since 9/11.


GDPR 'doomsday' shakes up internet services. Facebook and Google targeted as first GDPR complaints filed.

Tech companies scramble as sweeping data rules take effect.

Apple awarded $539m in US patent case against Samsung.

Rosneft CEO expects new oil price records on the market.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 25, 2018

Daily Mail: We're ready if Kim tries anything says Pentagon as they warn North Korean dictator tens of thousands of U.S. forces are 'in a high state of vigilance'

* Defense Department declares U.S. military is at high readiness to intervene
* North Korea has threatened 'nuclear showdown' over Trump's insistence that it destroy its program that aims to construke a weapon of mass destruction
* U.S. has about 80,000 military personnel in the north Pacific, including around 37,500 in and around South Korea
* United States Forces Korea boasts around 100 planes including 70 F-16s and ten A-10 anti-tank jets, along with reconnaissance aircraft and other spy planes
* Also nearby is the Seventh Fleet, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a dozen nuclear subs and 14 destroyers and cruisers
* America also hols the nuclear trump card, a warhead arsenal that could wipe North Korea off the map

The U.S. Department of Defense said Thursday that it's ready to spring into action if North Korea keeps shaking a barbed fist in the direction of Washington.

Pentagon joint staff director Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters that American military forces in South Korea are in 'a high state of vigilance,' adding that the U.S. is always prepared to respond to provocations from Kim Jong-un's dictatorship 'because they have proven to be unpredictable in the past.'

President Donald Trump said in the morning, after calling off a planned June 12 nuclear disarmament summit with Kim, that he had received assurances of readiness from Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 25, 2018

Trump says US military 'is ready if necessary' after Kim Jong Un summit cancellation -- CNBC

No Change in U.S. Military Posture After North Korea Talks Scrapped: Pentagon -- US News and World Report/Reuters

Pentagon's damning assessment of Kim regime made public -- CNN

North Korea breakthrough “just delayed,” says top US commander in South Korea -- Quartz

I Served with the Military Leaders Shaping America’s North Korea Plan. Here’s What They’ll Do Next -- James Stavridis, Time

See which US troops are getting an earlier curfew in South Korea -- Army times

The “sonic attack” in China was probably clumsy ultrasonic eavesdropping -- Quartz

China Confirms Use of Mature Stealth Testing Technology -- Sputnik

Taiwan scrambles jets for Chinese bombers -- Sydney Morning Herald

UAC: Next-Gen MiG-35 Fighter Jet Commences Flight Tests (VIDEO) -- Sputnik

Russia Just Fired a Missile Further Than Anyone Before and No One Noticed -- Newsweek

US Media "Uncovers" Secretive Russian S-500 Anti-Air Missile Tests -- Sputnik

Here's What We Know About Russia's Hypersonic Waverider Weapon -- Live Science

Why the US should care about Russia’s robot biathlon -- C4ISRNet

Lasers are helping the Afghan Air Force strike the Taliban -- Defense News

Strange notches on the F-35 raise questions about its first tastes of combat with Israel's air force -- Business Insider

Israel just showed that the F-35 can fight. So what’s next? -- Defense News

Norway worried by intensified Russian naval activity -- Reuters

Canadian military looks at foreign recruits to boost ranks -- CBC

MI6 airs TV ads to recruit more women and ethnic minorities -- BBC

Pentagon Is Speeding Up Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia, Other Allies -- Government Executive

Pentagon Moving to Expedite Weapons Exports to Allied Nations -- National Defense

Lockheed to provide ballistic tracking radar to U.S., foreign countries -- UPI

This is the scope chosen for the newest Marine Corps sniper rifle -- Marine Times

House easily approves defense bill with new nukes, cuts to Pentagon bureaucracy -- Politico

Why the Pentagon Thinks Small Satellites Can Solve Big Problems -- Popular Mechanics

US Army leaders need more payoff from cyber -- Fifth Domain

‘Ender’s Game’ meets Air Force? The service is working on a video game to find potential recruits -- Air Force Times

Tech-Pentagon tension probably isn’t going away anytime soon -- Fast Company

Navy fires CO of destroyer Hopper, the fourth reported command firing in May -- Navy Times

'Outmanned, Outgunned and Fighting:' SEAL Receives Medal of Honor --

Trump awards Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL for controversial mission in Afghanistan -- FOX News

There are 3,142 counties in the US. This one has zero veterans. -- Military Times

New European Privacy Laws Will Mean That Many Readers In Europe Will Not Be Able To Read Articles That War News Updates Posts

Bloomberg: Blocking 500 Million Users Easier Than Complying With GDPR

For some of America’s biggest newspapers and online services, it’s easier to block half a billion people from accessing your product than comply with Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation.

The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and The New York Daily News are just some telling visitors that, "Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries."

With about 500 million people living in the European Union, that’s a hard ban on one-and-a-half times the population of the U.S.

Blanket blocking EU internet connections -- which will include any U.S. citizens visiting Europe -- isn’t limited to newspapers. Popular read-it-later service Instapaper says on its website that it’s "temporarily unavailable for residents in Europe as we continue to make changes in light of the General Data Protection Regulation."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: To say that this sucks is an understatement. I understand and respect the importance of having one's data private .... but I also understand and appreciate that many excellent web services and products are offered for free on the condition that they can use your data for marketing purposes. There is a need to have a balance .... but in the case of the European organization responsible for these new rules it appears that the word "balance" is not in their vocabulary .... it is their way or the the highway. For WNU readers of this blog in the EU .... this is going to hurt.

FBI Expects Iran To Launch Cyber Attacks Against U.S. Targets For Leaving The Nuclear Deal

Washington Free Beacon: FBI: Iran to Launch New Cyber Attacks

Iranian hackers poised for wide-ranging strikes in retaliation for U.S. leaving nuclear deal

The FBI is warning that Iranian hackers could conduct new cyber attacks on American businesses and government networks in response to the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

"The FBI assesses foreign cyber actors operating in the Islamic Republic of Iran could potentially use a range of computer network operations—from scanning networks for potential vulnerabilities to data deletion attacks—against U.S.-based networks in response to the U.S. government’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," the FBI said in a cyber alert to U.S. businesses.

Previous Iranian cyber attacks were carried out against targets in the United States in retaliation for "perceived slights against the regime," the May 22 notice states.

The FBI warned that Iranian hackers may view the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal as justification for stepped up cyber attacks.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have been reading these reports for the past few weeks. So far .... it has not happened.

What Do People On The Streets Of Iran Think Of The U.S.?

Men read newspapers and magazines in Tehran, Iran October 14, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/TIMA via REUTERS

Peter Van Buren, Reuters: I just visited Iran. Here’s what I heard about the U.S.

Iran is a dangerous place these days, at least in a car. Traffic in the cities here moves like Tetris, with drivers pushing their cars into any open space that will fit. Trips begin in chaos and play out in confusion. How it ends is always up to God’s will, everyone says.

I went to Iran this month to attend a conference on the Palestinians, Jerusalem, and the greater Middle East sponsored by an Iran-based nongovernment organization. On the sidelines of the meeting, I met with students at Mashhad University, Ferdowsi University, and at a woman’s educational institute, as well as with visiting scholars from Tehran.

Just before my trip the United States withdrew from the nuclear accord, and while I was in the northeastern city of Mashhad, officially moved the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. These events were tracked in Iran as closely as World Cup scores, though absent celebration.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: So a Reuter's correspondent goes to Iran to find out what are the people's opinions on the street when it comes to the U.S.. And the response on the street is no surprise .... universal criticisms of the U.S. and its policies. I have lost count over the years on how many times I have seen and heard this "dog and pony show" from correspondents all over the world and in multiple places. Is this an accurate assessment on what people on the street actually think? I doubt it. But what I do know .... and I have traveled and seen enough of the world to know that it is true .... is that if given a chance to immigrate and start a new life in America .... almost everyone of these "critics on he street" will grab that opportunity without a moments hesitation.

A Military Engagement Against Iran Will Cost Trillions

Mass demonstrations in Iran against Rouhani and the regime. (Supplied)

William Hartung, CNN: Regime change in Iran could cost the US trillions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's speech this week on next steps in US policy toward Iran read more like a call to war than a carefully crafted foreign policy stance. So much so that the obvious next question is what it might cost if the Trump administration seeks to provoke regime change in Iran.

That's tough to answer, since it depends entirely on how the Trump administration chooses to go about it, if it indeed chooses to go down that disastrous road. Pompeo's threat to bring Iran to its knees with punishing economic sanctions clearly won't get the job done, especially since the Trump administration has just alienated its most important potential partners by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Good luck getting France, or the United Kingdom, or Germany, much less Russia or China, to join in a campaign of maximum economic pressure on Tehran after the Trump administration has walked away from a painstakingly negotiated multilateral deal that was working to achieve its only stated objective -- stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am old enough to remember reading many American news columnists and commentators in the early 1980s talking about the same thing on how it much it would cost to overthrow the Communist regimes in eastern Europe, and why the U.S. under then President Reagan should not get involved. What they failed to realize then is that you can succeed in changing authoritarian systems by employing methods that have nothing to do with the military .... and all to do with exposing the "who and what" the regime is while employing sanctions to show your commitment to change and giving morale support to those within these countries who want change. In regards to Iran .... the administration has made it very clear that they would be happy to see the regime replaced with someone less radical .... no surprises there. But a military engagement .... we are not even close to something like that .... and aside from maybe a few neocons .... no real appetite among the public to engage in a military conflict with Iran. But what I do see is an administration that will engage with Iran on sanctions .... as well as in a media campaign that consistently exposes who they are. This is something that I do support. Will this succeed .... I do not know. But this approach is far more preferable than the one that the CNN commentator is speculating on.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: Europeans Did Nothing To Counter Iran Missiles Or Labelling Iran The World's Leading Sponsor Of Terror

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Europeans did 'nothing' to support the US in pressuring Iran over its ballistic missile program

AFP: US says Europeans did nothing to counter Iran missiles

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Europeans Thursday of having done nothing to counter Iran's program to develop ballistic missiles.

"The Europeans have told us ... that they are prepared to engage on missiles, and for three years did nothing," Pompeo told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Likewise, he said, European governments haven't done anything in support of the US campaign labelling Iran the world's leading sponsor of terror.

"They talked about agreeing to things on terror," Pompeo said, but did nothing.

Read more ....

WNU editor: It is quite revealing that since the Iran nuclear deal .... very little if any activity from European leaders on Iran's missile program.... and even less on labeling Iran as a leading sponsor of terror. But when the ayatollah snaps his fingers that he wants something done, the European leaders are scrambling to make it so .... Iran sets end of May deadline to see EU measures to save nuclear deal (Reuters).

Russia Has Just Successful Tested The World's Longest Surface-To-Air Missile Test

Trailer-mouned erector launchers associated with the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, which Russia could deploy together with the S-500s. Vitaly Kuzmin

CNBC: Russia quietly conducted the world's longest surface-to-air missile test

* Russia quietly conducted the world's longest surface-to-air missile test, according to sources with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence about the weapons program.
* The S-500 surface-to-air missile system successfully struck a target 299 miles away.
* Russia claims that the ground-based missile system is capable of intercepting hypersonic missiles, drones, aircraft as well as stealth warplanes like the F-22 and the F-35.

Russia quietly conducted the world's longest surface-to-air missile test, according to sources with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence concerning the weapons program.

The S-500 surface-to-air missile system successfully struck a target 299 miles away, which the U.S. assessed is 50 miles further than any known test, said the sources, who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity.

Russia claims that the ground-based missile system is capable of intercepting hypersonic missiles, drones and aircraft as well as stealth warplanes like the F-22 and the F-35. The S-500 system would expand the Kremlin's capabilities to engage multiple targets with precision strikes.

Read more ....

Update: Russia's S-500 Air Defense System Reportedly Hits Target Nearly 300 Miles Away (Warzone/The Drive)

WNU Editor: Apparently the test was a success .... but it is going to be a long time before the S-500 is available for buyers. The Russian missile maker Almaz-Antey is swamped with S-400 orders that will keep it busy until 2025. It is a victim of its success .... it never counted on the S-500 attracting this much interest now.

U.S. Senate To Bar Turkey From Buying F-35 Jets Unless Turkey Releases U.S. Citizen Andrew Brunson

Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, (rear to front) AF-2, AF-3 and AF-4, flies over Edwards Air Force Base in this December 10, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin. Darin Russell/Courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Handout via REUTERS

Reuters: U.S. Senate defense bill would bar Turkey from buying F-35 jets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate committee passed its version of a $716 billion defense policy bill on Thursday, including a measure to prevent Turkey from purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, from Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Senator Thom Tillis, would remove Turkey from the F-35 program over its detention of U.S. citizen Andrew Brunson, Shaheen’s office said.

Brunson, a Christian pastor who could be jailed for up to 35 years, denied terrorism and spying charges in a Turkish court this month. He has been in pre-trial detention since 2016.

It also faults NATO ally Turkey for its agreement with Russia in December to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries. Ankara wants the system to boost its defense capabilities amid threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants at home and conflicts across its borders in Syria and Iraq.

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WNU Editor: Turkey is suppose to get their first F-35 on June 21.

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