Thursday, January 18, 2018

North Korea Is Advancing China's Strategic Objectives In The Region And Against The West

Joseph A. Bosco, National Interest: North Korea Is China's Double-Edged Sword

Keeping the Kim family dynasty in power, economically afloat, and technologically capable has significantly advanced China’s strategic objectives toward the West.

The citizens and government of Hawaii should send a big mock congratulatory lei to Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The sheer terror they experienced for the better part of an hour last Saturday morning ultimately came courtesy of China’s longstanding policy of enabling and protecting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Yes, the immediate cause of the panic was the local government’s erroneous flash warning that the Pacific paradise island was about to be hit by a nuclear missile. Given North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests and blatant threats against America, the alert seemed credible.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: North Korea may have served China's strategic interests in the past, but I certainly do not see it now. The North Korean crisis is forcing Japan and South Korea to start an arms build-up while aligning itself more closely to the U.S., and there is now additional pressure on China to rein in its ally via through sanctions or face potential trade restrictions itself.

Russian Warplanes Use A Highway To Perform A Series Of 'Touch-And-Gos'



The Warzone/The Drive: Watch These Russian Su-30 And Su-34 Jets Do Touch-and-Gos on a Highway

The multi-role fighters took part in the rare exercise in the country's southern Rostov region near Ukraine.

Some of Russia's Su-30M2 Flanker fighter jets and Su-34 Fullback fighter-bomber aircraft performed a series of touch-and-gos on a highway, with this reportedly being the first time those two types of aircraft have ever done so. Su-27 Flankers and Ka-27 Helix helicopters also took part in the exercise Rostov region, which included mock air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, as well as simulated combat search and rescue operations.

According to a statement from Russia's Ministry of Defense, "complex weather conditions" prevented pilots from actually landing and then taking off again, but there were no specific details about the conditions. TV Zvezda, the Russian military's official outlet, said it is rare for the country's combat aircraft to practice on roadways during the winter in general. The last such major instance of this type of training occurred during the massive Zapad 2017 drills with Belarus, when Russian Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets, as well as Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft, performed similar maneuvers on a stretch of road near the Belorussian capital Minsk.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  This is a rare exercise .... especially in winter.

The U.S. Deploys Its Electronic Warfare Plane To South Korea


Popular Mechanics: The U.S. Has an Electronic Warfare Plane and One of Them Is Headed to Korea

The EC-130H is a C-130 Hercules fitted with electronic jamming devices and a crew of 13.

The U.S. Air Force just sent one of its most advanced electronic warfare aircraft to South Korea.

The EC-130H Compass Call, originally designed to jam enemy radio signals, was recently upgraded with the ability to identify and attack enemy wireless networks. The EC-130H was spotted traveling from Yokota Air Base, Japan to Osan Air Base in South Korea and reported on Twitter by @AircraftSpots.

Read more ....

Update #1: US Air Force Sends DOS-Attacking Aircraft to Korean Peninsula (Sputnik)
Update #2: US Deploys Tactical Communications-Scrambling Plane To Korean Peninsula (Zero Hedge)

WNU Editor: If the U.S. was really worried on what was happening on the Korean peninsula, they would not be deploying just one of these aircraft.

Turkey Conitnues To Prepare To Attack The Syrian Kurdish Enclave At Afrim



BBC: Turkey targets Kurds in Afrin: The short, medium and long story

Turkey says it is getting ready to launch a massive assault on Kurdish forces on the other side of the border with Syria - potentially putting it in direct conflict with its Nato ally, the United States.

This could be a significant new development in the Syrian civil war, which is now almost seven years old. We've boiled down why it matters.

You can choose to read the short, medium or long story below, either by themselves or one after the other.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. response to Turkey's threats against its only real ally in Syria has been contradictory .... Watch The State Department Respond As US Ally Turkey Attacks US-Backed Forces In Syria (Zero Hedge). In a sign that the Syrian Kurds are becoming desperate as they face an imminent attack from Turkey, they are now appealing to the UN .... Syrian Kurds Appeal to UN as Turkey Prepares to Attack (VOA).

2017 Fake News Awards


GOP.com: The Highly-Anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards

2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news. Studies have shown that over 90% of the media’s coverage of President Trump is negative.

Below are the winners of the 2017 Fake News Awards.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Tried to access the GOP.com site Wednesday night  .... but the website had crashed. There appears to be a lot of interest in this story.

NATO's Top General Warns That Russia Is 'Closing The Gap'

Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, speaks to members of U.S. European Command about his four command priorities at Patch Barracks, Germany, Sept. 20, 2017. MARTIN GREESON/U.S. ARMY

Stars and Stripes: Russia closing gap with NATO, top US general in Europe warns

STUTTGART Germany — NATO’s military edge over Russia could soon be threatened if allies fail to keep adapting, the alliance’s top general warned on Wednesday.

U.S. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said Russia’s military modernization efforts are challenging allies in a range of areas such as cybersecurity.

“Because of the modernization they’ve made, while we are dominant, we will not be in five years ... if we are not adapting,” Scaparrotti said during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Scaparrotti, who also serves as head of U.S. European Command, said he and his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, have agreed to meet soon in an effort to improve communication and reduce the risks miscalculation. The meeting would be the first face-to-face encounter between the top NATO and Russian commanders since Moscow’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  The U.S. and NATO spend 20x what Russia spends on defense .... Russia will not close the gap with NATO.

Update: I said 50x earlier .... it is actually around 20x

Tweets For Today







Fifty-Two Years Ago The U.S. Air Force Lost Four Hydrogen Bombs Over Spain

The casings of two B28 nuclear bombs involved in the Palomares incident are on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Business Insider: The US Air Force lost 4 nuclear bombs in Spain 52 years ago — and the disaster is still being felt now

* A crash involving a B-52 Stratofortress bomber over Spain in 1966 resulted in four nuclear bombs being lost for 81 days.
* The bombs were not armed, meaning there was no chance of a nuclear detonation.
* The US personnel involved in the search and Spaniards in the area have lived with the legacy of the accident in the half-century since.

Early on the morning of January 16, 1966, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber took off from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.

The bomber headed toward Europe, where it would patrol near the borders of the Soviet Union with four nuclear weapons, part of Operation Chrome Dome, a Cold War program to provide 24-hour rapid-response capabilities in case of war.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Another near disaster averted .... but not for some who were involved in the search.

Picture Of The Day

A fox walks past 10 Downing Street in London. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

WNU Editor: The above picture comes from this photo-gallery .... Editor's Choice Pictures (Reuters).

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

B-52 Bombers, B-2s, And B-1s Have Been Deployed To Guam For The Second Time In History

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
B-1s, B-2s and B-52s at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam on Aug. 10, 2016. Air Force photo

Military Times: B-52 bombers join B-2s, B-1s in Guam for second time in history

About a week after the Air Force deployed three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to Guam, six B-52H Stratofortress bombers joined them on the island Tuesday.

The B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana deployed to Andersen Air Force Base along with about 300 airmen. The aircraft and personnel will support the U.S. Pacific Command’s continuous bomber presence mission, replacing six B-1B Lancer bombers, which are scheduled to return home to Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, at the end of this month.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This does not happen everyday .... but this is a sign that in the future this may be happening everyday.

U.S. Democratic Lawmakers: No 'Illusions' About N. Korea's Nuclear Work Amid Olympics Talks

© KCNA / Reuters

The Hill: Dems after Asia trip: No 'illusions' about N. Korea's nuclear work amid Olympics talks

North Korea continues to work on its nuclear and missile programs as talks with South Korea about the Winter Olympics progress, a pair of Democratic lawmakers told reporters Wednesday after returning from a trip to Japan and South Korea.

“It is a positive sign that the North Koreans are participating in the Olympics, but also very clearly from our military leaders … they’re not refraining from continuing to move forward with their efforts to solve the final problems with being able to nuclearize an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the American homeland,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said.

“So while they’re doing this, they’re still continuing to pursue their nuclear development, and that was not something that anybody that we talked to had any illusions about, whether it was civilian or military," she added.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: You have to wonder where were these lawmakers a few years ago when North Korea's nuclear program was known to be on a trajectory to develop deliverable nuclear weapons .... U.S. Intelligence Agencies Knew In 2013 That North Korea Was Capable Of Miniaturising Nuclear Weapons (August 10, 2017)

After One Year Has President Trump's Foreign Policy Been A Triumph?


Nile Gardiner, National Post: It's time to admit that Trump's foreign policy has been a triumph

The president may lack the eloquence of JFK or the ideological drive of Reagan, but he ensures the U.S. continues to lead as the world's superpower.

When Donald Trump was elected America’s 45th president in November 2016 the world took a collective deep breath. This was a man derided by his critics as an isolationist, woefully out of his depth on foreign policy matters, and imbued with a supposedly dangerous and reckless nationalism. European leaders queued up to condemn the new leader of the free world in the court of international opinion. But a year into his presidency Trump’s actual record has been far more effective than his detractors predicted. “America First” has not resulted in a U.S. withdrawal from the world. Far from it.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I do not share Nile Gardiner's enthusiasm that President Trump's foreign policy has been a triumph. The Islamic State may have been defeated under his watch, but the other wars continue to grind on, terrorism is still a threat, and our relations with many countries are still the same.

Some U.S. Lawmakers Want Former U.S. Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper Prosecuted For Lying To Congress



Washington Examiner: Lawmakers want James Clapper prosecuted for surveillance testimony before statute of limitations runs out

Some lawmakers would like to see the Justice Department prosecute former spy chief James Clapper for inaccurate testimony to Congress about domestic surveillance before it's too late.

Privacy-conscious critics say looming five-year statutes of limitation for perjury and making false statements — establishing a March 12 deadline for charges — make an urgent case for action, and that nonprosecution would set a dangerous precedent that impedes oversight and executive-branch accountability.

Read more ....

Previous Post: Should The U.S. Director Of National Intelligence Be Fired For Lying To Congress? (January 29, 2014).

WNU Editor: He should be held accountable for "lying" to Congress .... but he will not be.

World News Briefs -- January 17, 2018

The flag of North Korea is seen in Geneva, Switzerland, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

Reuters: North Korea rejects sanctions talk, ready for 'successful' Olympics: diplomat

GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea rejects as a “provocation” a U.S.-led meeting in Vancouver that discussed tougher sanctions that Pyongyang will fight, a senior North Korean diplomat told Reuters on Wednesday.

Twenty nations agreed on Tuesday to consider tougher sanctions to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Pyongyang that it could trigger a military response if it did not choose negotiations.

Choe Myong Nam, North Korea’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said the Vancouver meeting was “harmful and dangerous.”

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. signals open-ended presence in Syria, seeks patience on Assad's removal.

Turkey says will respond immediately to any threats from Western Syria.

Turkey sees betrayal as US backs Syrian Kurds.

Nearly 4 years on, much of Syrian rebel ‘capital’ abandoned.

US military: No 'support' for Kurdish YPG in Afrin.

Iran's supreme leader: Saudis betrayed Muslim world.

Iran says Trump has thrown Airbus deals into doubt.

Saudi to inject $2bn in Yemen to halt currency collapse. Saudi Arabia gives Yemen $2 billion to stave off hunger and prop up currency.

Palestinian leader Abbas calls for Arab solidarity against Trump's Jerusalem decision.

After $65M U.S. aid cut, UNRWA launches global fundraising effort. Global NGOs criticise drastic US cuts of UNRWA funding.

Trump denies U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem within a year.

Jailed head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party acquitted of insulting minister.

ASIA

Taliban leader approved Islamabad meeting on Afghan peace talks: sources.

Days after oil tanker sinks, large slicks observed in East China Sea.

Tillerson says evidence sanctions 'really starting to hurt' North Korea.

BREAKING NEWS: North and South Korea agree to form their first joint Olympic team and march together in opening ceremony.

Korean War allies consider further sanctions against North Korea. Nations to consider more North Korea sanctions, U.S. warns on military option.

North Korea scoffs at Trump's 'nuclear button' tweet.

Myanmar police opens fire on demonstrators killing many. Seven ethnic Rakhine killed as Myanmar police fire on riot.

Philippines orders further probes into news site that angered Duterte.

UN must step up pressure on Pakistan: US.

China bans Muslim children from Quran classes.

Worker who accidentally sent out warning of imminent North Korean missile strike in Japan meant to send a different news flash, says broadcaster.

AFRICA

Italy approves military mission in Niger, more troops to North Africa.

Uganda's Museveni accuses U.N. of "preserving terrorism" in eastern Congo.

Suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers kill 12, injure 48.

Kidnappers abduct American, Canadian in Nigeria, two police killed: police official.

Sudan police fire tear gas as protesters march against price rises. Sudan holds communist leader after bread price demo: party.

Ethiopian PM arrives in Egypt for talks on sharing Nile.

Congo armed groups uniting against President Kabila: U.N..

Seven years since revolt, Tunisia struggles with economic woes.

Ethiopia releases top opposition figure from prison.

E. Guinea leader denies opposition death in custody claims.

Drought-stricken Cape Town, South Africa, could run out of water by April's 'day zero'.

EUROPE

Swedish PM does not rule out use of army to end gang violence.

Romanian president picks Dancila as new PM, graft in spotlight.

Farage backs off second Brexit referendum talk as EU says UK still welcome.

Embattled Schulz tries to sell coalition deal to sceptical SPD.

In challenge to Madrid, Catalan assembly elects separatist speaker.

Catalonia's new parliament meets following failed independence bid. Catalan MPs meet for first time since referendum bid.

Barred from election, Navalny vows to fight 'emperor' Putin.

Dialogue with US on nuclear-missile weapons is Russia’s priority task, says expert.

Czech government resigns as PM fights corruption allegations.

Italy: Some 1,400 refugees rescued at sea.

May and Macron to sign new Calais border treaty.

Russian watchdog Memorial hit by arson attack near Chechnya.

Britain appoints minister for loneliness to continue work of murdered politician Jo Cox.

German prosecutors reject clemency for 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz'.

Even the eyelashes freeze: Russia sees minus 88.6 degrees F.

AMERICAS

Mexico leftist leads presidency race, PRI hopeful struggles: poll.

Trump's not letting up on attack the media but ethics experts warn White House officials will break rules if they take part in 'fake news awards'.

Republican senator slams Trump for Stalin-like attacks on media.

WH directed Bannon silence in House interview. Trump's ex-aide Bannon strikes deal to avoid grand jury testimony: CNN.

Lawmakers want James Clapper prosecuted for surveillance testimony before statute of limitations runs out.

Trump's medical sparks online 'girther' movement.

Wave of looting shutters stores, spreads fear in Venezuela.

'Rambo' police pilot Oscar Perez, who hijacked helicopter, killed in operation in Venezuela.

Argentines try to understand why the pope won’t return home.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

White House: 73% of convicted terrorists since 9/11 were non-citizens.

US drone strike inside Pakistan targets ‘Afghan extremist’.

French jihadist wives press charges over Syria detention.

ISIS wanted to blow up the Statue of Liberty with pressure cooker bombs.

Is Turkey aligned with al-Qaeda affiliate in Idlib?

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Dow ends above 26,000 for first time on earnings optimism.

The antitrust case against Facebook, Google and Amazon.

$260 billion ‘cryptocalypse’ as cryptos plunge 30 per cent amid fresh China, South Korea fears. Bitcoin crashes below $10,000, losing over half its value since last month’s record.

Apple supplier workers describe noxious hazards at China factory.

YouTube toughens advert payment rules.

Apple To Repatriate $350 Billion From Overseas Back To The U.S. Economy

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the iPhone maker's repatriated profits will result in a $38 billion US tax payment and generate $350 billion in economic activity

CNBC: Apple announces plans to repatriate billions in overseas cash, says it will contribute $350 billion to the US economy over the next 5 years

* Apple says the new tax law will help it will contribute $350 billion to the U.S. economy over the next five years.
* It says it will create 20,000 new jobs and open a new campus.
* Apple expects to pay about $38 billion in taxes for the horde of cash it plans to bring back to the United States.

Apple on Wednesday made a slew of announcements about its investment in and contribution to the U.S. economy in part because of the new tax law.

The headline from Apple is that it will make a $350 billion "contribution" to the U.S. economy over the next five years, although it's unclear exactly how the company came to that number.

The company also promised to create 20,000 new jobs and open a new campus.

It said it expects to pay about $38 billion in taxes for the horde of cash it plans to bring back to the United States. This implies it will repatriate virtually all of its $250 billion in overseas cash.

Read more ....

Update: Apple says will pay $38 bn in taxes on repatriated profits (AFP)

WNU Editor: Apple is already the largest taxpayer in the U.S.. One can only imagine the enormous economic benefits that such a transfer of wealth from overseas to the U.S. economy will bring .... and I am willing to bet that Apple will not be the only company doing this. The global economic and geopolitical impacts from changes in U.S. tax and regulatory should never be underestimated .... and Apple is a perfect example of this point.

There Are Wide Spread Reports That The Taliban Have Entered Into Peace Talks On Afghanistan

A photo circulated by the Taliban of leader Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Reuters: Taliban leader approved Islamabad meeting on Afghan peace talks: sources

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A delegation approved by the Taliban’s supreme leader visited the Pakistani capital this week for exploratory talks on restarting peace negotiations to end Afghanistan’s 16-year war, two senior officials in the movement said.

It was unclear if any progress was made in the unofficial meetings with a representative of a prominent Afghan politician. Many previous attempts have failed to revive direct talks that ended nearly as soon as they started in 2015.

The Islamabad talks on Monday followed another back-channel meeting over the weekend in Turkey between individuals with Taliban connections and representatives of Hizb-i-Islami, the party of a former Taliban-allied commander who last year laid down arms to join Afghan politics.

A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday he was not aware of the Islamabad talks, while the Taliban did not respond to queries. Both sides on Monday denied participating in the Turkey talks.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is not the first time that there have been reports of peace talks to end the Afghan war, but what is interesting about this story is that there is a Taliban delegation visiting Pakistan right now .... Three-member Taliban delegation visits Pakistan (Express Tribune).

Update: Afghans Say Talks With Taliban Are Underway; Insurgents Deny It (New York Times).

President Trump: Russia Is Helping North Korea Skirt Sanctions

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Reuters: Exclusive: Trump says Russia helping North Korea skirt sanctions; Pyongyang getting close on missile

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday Russia is helping North Korea get supplies in violation of international sanctions and that Pyongyang is getting “closer every day” to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States.

“Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump said during an Oval Office interview with Reuters. “What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”

China and Russia both signed onto the latest rounds of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea imposed last year. There was no immediate comment from the Russian embassy in Washington on Trump’s remarks.

Read more
....

WNU Editor: I do not know if Russia is breaking sanctions against North Korea, but there are a lot of North Koreans working on construction sites in Russia .... Russia's hidden world of North Korean labor(CNN). On a side note, this is interesting (behind WSJ paywall) .... Tillerson Refuses to Say if Trump, Kim Jong Un Have Spoken (WSJ).

US Navy Brings Negligent Homicide Charges Against The Former Fitzgerald, McCain COs



USNI News: Former Fitzgerald, McCain COs Face Negligent Homicide, Dereliction of Duty Charges Over Fatal Collisions

The commanders of the two guided-missile destroyers that were involved in fatal collisions with merchant ships in 2017 will face military criminal charges that include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide, USNI News has learned.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, former commander of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), along with three Fitzgerald junior officers, face a mix charges that include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide related to the June 17 collision between the ship and ACX Crystal that resulted in the death of seven sailors, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy provided to USNI News.

Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, former commander of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), faces similar dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide charges for the Aug. 21 collision between the guided-missile destroyer and a chemical tanker off the coast of Singapore that resulted in the death of 10 sailors.

Read more ....

More News On The US Navy Bringing Negligent Homicide Charges Against The Former Fitzgerald, McCain COs

Ex-U.S. Navy Officers Face Negligent Homicide Charges Over Ship Collisions -- Reuters
Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide -- Washington Post
US Navy Warship Commanders Facing Criminal Charges in Deadly Collisions -- Voice of America
US Navy To Charge Ex-Destroyer Commanders With Negligent Homicide Over Deadly Collisions (Updated) -- The Warzone
Navy says it will file homicide charges against FIVE officers over two deadly ship disasters last year -- Daily Mail
US Navy collisions: Ex-commanders charged with negligent homicide -- BBC
Here are the details of the 2 deadly crashes that led to negligent homicide charges for US Navy officers -- Business Insider
What Is Negligent Homicide? US Navy Commanders Charged in Deaths of 17 Sailors -- Newsweek
US Navy surface boss expected to step down under pressure in latest collision fallout -- Defense News
US military crashes, collisions in the Pacific -- FOX News