Tuesday, August 22, 2017

World News Briefs -- August 22, 2017 (Evening Edition)



New York Times: Tillerson sees possible pathway to North Korea dialogue 'in near future'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to make a peace overture to North Korea on Tuesday, welcoming what he called the restraint it had shown recently in its weapons programs and saying a path could be opening for dialogue "sometime in the near future.""We have had no missile launches or provocative acts on the part of North Korea since the unanimous adoption of the U.N. Security Council resolution," Tillerson told reporters, referring to U.N. sanctions on North Korea agreed on Aug. 5.

"We hope that this is the beginning of this signal that we've been looking for - that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they're ready to restrain their provocative acts, and that perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future having some dialogue," Tillerson added.

Tillerson said he was "pleased" to see Pyongyang had "demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past."

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Saudi crown prince discusses Mideast peace with U.S. officials.

Syria war: 'Dozens of civilians killed' in Raqqa air strikes. Raqqa: US-led attacks 'kill 100 civilians' in 48 hours. 250 US-led strikes in, around Raqa in past week: coalition.

Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh ends in stalemate.

North Korea shipments to Syria chemical arms agency intercepted: U.N. report.

IS conflict: Iraqi forces enter outskirts of Tal Afar. Iraqi forces recapture five villages in Tal Afar.

Thousands flee IS-held Tal Afar: UN.

Pentagon chief, in Baghdad, says militants are ‘on the run’.

Iran back to high enrichment 'in 5 days' if US quits nuclear deal.

Iran in talks to unblock Twitter, says new minister.

Erdogan vows to thwart any 'Kurdish state' in Syria.

UN accuses two sides in Yemen war of international law violations.

ASIA

U.S. puts more pressure on Pakistan to help with Afghan war.

Officials say Trump’s Afghan plan involves 3,900 more troops.

Trump to expand US military intervention in Afghanistan.

Donald Trump's new Afghanistan strategy welcomed by 'fully committed' NATO.

Trump's Afghan shift praised in Kabul but leaves Pakistan wary. Afghanistan hails Trump support in 'joint struggle'.

Taliban responds to Trump's Afghan strategy.

N Korea's fiery rhetoric on US-S Korea military drills.

U.S. Admiral says diplomacy key to resolving North Korea crisis.

Maldives army occupies parliament to block no-confidence vote.

Muslim 'instant divorce' unconstitutional, India's Supreme Court rules.

AFRICA

Exclusive: U.S. to withhold up to $290 million in Egypt aid.

Moroccans shaken by links to extremist attacks in Europe.

UN slams use of children in Nigeria bombings. Boko Haram Nigerian child bombings this year are quadruple 2016's: UNICEF.

Burundi send fresh peacekeepers to Somalia.

Former Libya PM kidnapped in Tripoli: family.

Libya’s biggest oil field shut down as tensions rise.

Angola to elect new president as dos Santos retires.

Egypt set to reopen its Gaza crossing on regular basis in September.

South Sudan threatens to suspend UN planes.

EUROPE

Kremlin says support for ceasefire in Ukraine 'decisive'.

Barcelona attacker Younes Abouyaaqoub shot dead after manhunt, Spanish police say.

Barcelona attack suspects questioned in court. Barcelona attack: Suspect says bigger attack was planned.

Quake hits Italian island causing buildings to collapse. 3 children pulled from rubble on quake-hit Italian island.

German foreign minister blames Erdogan over family 'threats'.

France's Macron, seeking to re-shape Europe, heads east.

UK outlines approach to cross-border legal disputes post-Brexit.

No longer an also-ran, British opposition leader hits campaign trail.

Russia pays off balance of Soviet Union's foreign debt.

Torso found off Denmark may belong to missing Swedish journalist.

AMERICAS

Venezuela-U.S. relations at lowest point ever: Maduro.

Argentina labor unions protest job losses, Macri policies.

US says some remains of sailors found on USS John McCain.

Trump backs off Afghan withdrawal, lambasts Pakistan.

Big protests expected as Trump plans Phoenix rally. Phoenix on high alert for Trump rally.

Black caucus has had it with Trump, plans to discuss impeachment.

Washington will impose greater sanctions on Venezuela.

More diplomats hurt in mysterious Cuban sonic attack.

Rare total solar eclipse spreads wonder across United States.

Canada seeks to 'aggressively' dispel asylum system myths.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Barcelona van attackers plotted major bombings, Spanish court hears.

Four Muslim men accused of plotting Christmas Day terror attack were 'found with very volatile chemicals used to make Mother of Satan bomb'.

Trump talks tough on Pakistan's 'terrorist' havens, but options scarce.

Moroccan who admitted killing two in Finland knife attack was refused asylum.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Stocks surge, put shaky few weeks further behind them.

World Bank says not currently looking at financing projects in Iran.

Johnson & Johnson faces $417m payout in latest talc case.

Cambridge University Press reverses decision to censor books in China.

U.S. Coalition-Led Airstrikes Exact A heavy Civilian Toll In Raqq

Smoke rises after an air attack during fighting between SDF members and ISIL fighters in Raqqa on Sunday [Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

Aol/Reuters: US-led strikes against ISIS kill more than 170 Raqqa civilians, sources say

AMMAN, Aug 22 (Reuters) - More than 170 civilians have been killed by U.S.-led strikes on Islamic State in Raqqa city in the past week, a spike in casualties since an offensive to oust the militants began more than two months ago, a war monitor and sources said.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said attacks on militant targets were conducted routinely and the allegation had been sent to their teams for assessment.

The monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 42 people, including 19 children and 12 women, were killed on Monday in strikes that destroyed buildings where families were sheltering.

Read more ....

More News on The High Civilian Toll From U.S. Led Airstrikes On Raqqa

U.S.-allied strikes allegedly kill 170 civilians in a week -- CBS/AP
More Than 100 Civilians Reported Killed by Coalition Airstrikes on Raqqa -- VOA
Syria war: 'Dozens of civilians killed' in Raqqa air strikes -- BBC
Monitor: U.S.-led airstrikes killed 42 civilians in Raqqa -- UPI
Activists: Coalition airstrikes leave 100 casualties in Raqqa in 4 days -- Iraqi News
Raqqa: US-led attacks 'kill 100 civilians' in 48 hours -- Al Jazeera
US-led air strikes blamed for surge in civilian deaths in Raqqa -- Financial Times
250 US-led strikes in, around Raqa in past week: coalition -- AFP

Russia's Top General To Visit Turkey This Week, Followed By U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis

President Trump with Turkish President Erdogan (YouTube).

VOA: Russia’s Top General to Visit Ankara Amid Turkish US Tensions

ISTANBUL — Russia’s armed forces chief staff, General Valery Gerasimov, is due to visit Turkey this week in the latest step in bilateral regional coordination efforts on Syria. Ahead of Gerasimov’s visit, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu took a swipe at NATO ally the United States, saying Russia better understood Turkey's concerns about the Syrian Kurdish rebel militia, the YPG.

Washington’s strong backing of the YPG in its fight against Islamic State in Syria continues to strain relations between the NATO partners. Ankara accuses the YPG of being linked to the PKK, which is fighting an insurgency in Turkey.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: And a day later US Defense Secretary Mattis will be arriving.... US Defense Secretary to Visit Ankara Amid Rising Tensions (VOA). Turkey wants support from both nations in their conflict against the Kurds. Here is an easy prediction .... Turkish President Erdogan is going to be disappointed.

Turkish President Erdogan: Turkey And Iran Will Be Launching Joint Military Operations Targeting Kurdish Militants. Iran Is Denying These Reports

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) with the Iranian Chief of General Staff Mohammad Baqeri, Ankara, August 16, 2017. (Photo: AA)

Reuters: Erdogan says Turkey and Iran discussing joint action against Kurdish militants

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups, after talks in Ankara last week between the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces and Turkish leaders, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters before departing on an official visit to Jordan, Erdogan also said a more effective struggle against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Iranian affiliate, PJAK, would be possible through joint action with Iran.

"Joint action against terrorist groups that have become a threat is always on the agenda. This issue has been discussed between the two military chiefs, and I discussed more broadly how this should be carried out," Erdogan said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Iran is denying these Turkish reports .... Iran Denies Joint Operation with Turkey against PKK (FARS News Agency). More Iranian denials here .... Iran denies joint operation against Kurds with Turkey (AFP). But according to other sources, Iran is hoping that it will be the Syrian government that will be responsible for reining in these Syrian Kurdish forces .... Ankara-Tehran to enable Syrian gov control over US-backed Rojava: Top Iranian general (Kurdistan 24).

More News On Reports That Turkey And Iran Will Be Launching Joint Military Operations Targeting Kurdish Militants

Iran, Turkey form common front against Kurdish ‘militants’ -- Arab news
Iran, Turkey could attack Kurds jointly -- AFP
Details of Turkey-Iran military operation in northern Iraq disclosed -- Trend
Details of Turkey-Iran military operations in Iraq revealed -- Azer News
Move against Kurd rebels on Turkey-Iran agenda: Erdogan -- The Nation
Erdogan: Possible Turkish-Iranian Operation against Kurdish Groups -- Asharq Al-awsat

U.S. Imposes New Sanctions On Chinese And Russia Entities For Helping North Korea



South China Morning Post: US imposes new sanctions on Chinese and Russian companies to cut off North Korea support

The sanctions affect Dandong Rich Earth Trading Company, which the US accused of buying vanadium ore from Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation

The US announced a set of secondary sanctions against 16 Chinese and Russian entities as part of its efforts to cut off trade with North Korea and starve the country’s military of the cash it needs to develop nuclear weapons.

The move opened a new rift with China, which blasted the US for its “long-arm jurisdiction” and demanded that Washington “immediately correct its mistake”.

Chinese companies facing sanctions include Dandong Rich Earth Trading Company, which the US accused of buying vanadium ore from Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation, a company already sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, according to a US Treasury Department announcement. Mingzheng International Trading Limited was also named in the action as a “front company” for North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Imposing New Sanctions On Chinese And Russia Entities For Helping North Korea

US targets Chinese, Russian entities funding North Korea's nukes -- CNN
U.S. targets Chinese, Russia entities for helping North Korea -- Reuters
US imposes new sanctions on Chinese and Russian companies over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs -- Daily Mail
US Sanctions Russian, Chinese Firms for Helping North Korea Militarize -- VOA
US sanctions Chinese, Russians over N.Korea support -- Digital Journal
China Responds to Sanctions Against Chinese, Russian Firms Aiding North Korea -- The Street
Trump Administration Blacklists 4 Russian Citizens, 1 Company Over North Korea -- The Moscow Times

A Putin - Netanyahu Summit At Sochi Tomorrow

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a September 2015 meeting in Moscow. Photo: www.kremlin.ru.

Algemeiner: Netanyahu and Putin to Hold Syria Talks, Amid Iranian Threat

JNS.org – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in the Russian resort city of Sochi to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The issue of Iranian forces attempting to establish a permanent military presence in Syria — right on Israel’s northern border — is reportedly high on the agenda for the upcoming meeting.

Iran’s activity makes “an open channel of communication between Israel and Russia even more important than it was some years ago,” Professor Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told JNS.org.

Putin and Netanyahu have held five other bilateral meetings during the past two years to discuss regional issues — and to help maintain a protocol that prevents friction between the Israeli and Russian air forces when they operate over Syrian airspace.

Read more ....

More News On What To Expect From Tomorrow's Putin - Netanyahu Meeting in Sochi

Netanyahu to discuss Iran's 'aggression' with Putin -- AFP
'We will discuss Iran's attempt to establish itself in Syria' -- Arutz Sheva
Netanyahu to warn Putin not to cross red lines -- The Jerusalem Post
What Israel's Netanyahu Wants From Moscow -- Seth J. Frantzman, Moscow Times

Have Recent U.S. Naval Collisions Been The Result Of A Cyber Attack?

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cheng S. Yang [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

McClathcy News: US Navy collisions stoke cyber threat concerns

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon won’t yet say how the USS John S. McCain was rammed by an oil tanker near Singapore, but red flags are flying as the Navy’s decades-old reliance on electronic guidance systems increasing looks like another target of cyberattack.

The incident – the fourth involving a Seventh Fleet warship this year – occurred near the Strait of Malacca, a crowded 1.7-mile-wide waterway that connects the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and accounts for roughly 25 percent of global shipping.

“When you are going through the Strait of Malacca, you can’t tell me that a Navy destroyer doesn’t have a full navigation team going with full lookouts on every wing and extra people on radar,” said Jeff Stutzman, chief intelligence officer at Wapack Labs, a New Boston, New Hampshire, cyber intelligence service.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Two readers have emailed me telling me that this is a possibility (a deliberate cyber attack). I am sceptical .... I would think there would be numerous safeguards to prevent such an attack. But there have been a number of collisions this year .... all in Asia .... and people are asking questions. On a side note .... speculation on cyber and electronic weapons targeting US naval vessels have been around for a long time .... Did A Russian Fighter Jet Buzz A U.S. Destroyer And Successfully Disabled Its Radar And Defense Systems? (November 15, 2014).

More News On Reports that The USS John MacCain and The USS Fitzgerald May Have Experienced Cyber Attacks Before Their Collisions

Were they hacked? US Navy to investigate whether BOTH warships that crashed into much larger merchant vessels with deadly results were the victims of a cyber attack -- Daily Mail
Speculation That Hacking May Have Caused USS John S. McCain's Collision -- International Business Times
U.S. Navy considers possibility of cyber attack after another ship collision -- CSO
5 burning questions on the collision of USS John S. McCain in waters near Singapore -- Straits Times
Navy ships keep getting into accidents. Time to find out why. -- Washington Post

Update: Navy says cyber sabotage played 'no role' in USS John S. McCain incident (FOX News).

Are These The New Weapons That The Pentagon Needs To Confront Today's Threats?

January 9, 2010 a Predator unmanned drone flies a training mission over Victorville, California. (Don Bartletti / MCT)

John Yoo, Chicago Tribune: The new weapons America sorely needs

With threats, bribes, diplomacy and sanctions, American presidents of both parties have sought for 25 years to try to halt, or at least slow, North Korea's quest for a nuclear arsenal — to no avail.

Though the brinkmanship of the last few weeks has subsided, President Donald Trump still faces the prospect of a madman — Kim Jong Un — in control of a nuclear arsenal. What the U.S. and its allies must now do is find options between conventional war, or even nuclear holocaust, on the one hand, and appeasement on the other. The answer could be robotic, cyber and space weapons — if we have the will to deploy them.

Three types of technology hold promise for facing down North Korea and similar threats.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I do not know if these are the weapons that the U.S. sorely needs, but what I do know is that the Pentagon is spending a lot of money to develop and build them .... Defense to get historically high share of research budget (MyAJC).

Could A New Korean War Spread Across All Of Asia?

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Brendan Scott and Adrian Leung, Bloomberg: A Second Korean War Could Quickly Spread Across All of Asia

* Northeast Asia’s geography reveals the peril of any strike
* Great powers risk being drawn into escalating conflict

A recent survey commissioned by the New York Times found that people who could find North Korea on a map were more likely to favor talks over military action. A glance at North Asia’s geography explains why.

More than six decades after the Korean War ended without a peace treaty, the peninsula remains bisected in a perpetual stalemate, with the U.S.-backed South Korean military lined up against more than a million North Korean troops. While tensions have occasionally flared -- such as after Kim Jong Un’s weapons tests or threats of “merciless revenge” over American-led military exercises that began Monday -- the two sides have so far staved off another devastating conflict.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What would be even more insane than North Korea starting a war with South Korea while launching military strikes against Japan directly and U.S. bases throughout Asia .... would be China siding with North Korea. In that event .... all bets will be off .... and I could only shudder on what such a  conflict may eventually lead to .... because such a war will definitely engulf all of Asia.

World News Briefs -- August 22, 2017

Donald Trump has committed the US to an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan [Reuters]

Al Jazeea: World reacts to Trump's new strategy on Afghan war

India, UK and NATO express support for US president's policy, but Pakistan, China and Russia offer little enthusiasm.

Politicians from across the world have reacted to US President Donald Trump's new strategy for the war in Afghanistan.

Trump on Monday committed the United States to an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan and signalled he would send more troops there.

He insisted that the Afghan government, Pakistan, India and NATO allies step up their commitment to resolving the 16-year conflict.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria war: 'Dozens of civilians killed' in Raqqa air strikes. Raqqa: US-led attacks 'kill 100 civilians' in 48 hours. 250 US-led strikes in, around Raqa in past week: coalition.

Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh ends in stalemate.

North Korea shipments to Syria chemical arms agency intercepted: U.N. report.

IS conflict: Iraqi forces enter outskirts of Tal Afar. Iraqi forces recapture five villages in Tal Afar.

Thousands flee IS-held Tal Afar: UN.

Pentagon chief, in Baghdad, says militants are ‘on the run’.

Iran back to high enrichment 'in 5 days' if US quits nuclear deal.

Iran in talks to unblock Twitter, says new minister.

Erdogan vows to thwart any 'Kurdish state' in Syria.

UN accuses two sides in Yemen war of international law violations.

ASIA

Trump to expand US military intervention in Afghanistan.

Donald Trump's new Afghanistan strategy welcomed by 'fully committed' NATO.

Trump's Afghan shift praised in Kabul but leaves Pakistan wary. Afghanistan hails Trump support in 'joint struggle'.

Taliban responds to Trump's Afghan strategy.

N Korea's fiery rhetoric on US-S Korea military drills.

U.S. Admiral says diplomacy key to resolving North Korea crisis.

Maldives army occupies parliament to block no-confidence vote.

Muslim 'instant divorce' unconstitutional, India's Supreme Court rules.

AFRICA

UN slams use of children in Nigeria bombings. Boko Haram Nigerian child bombings this year are quadruple 2016's: UNICEF.

Burundi send fresh peacekeepers to Somalia.

Former Libya PM kidnapped in Tripoli: family.

Libya’s biggest oil field shut down as tensions rise.

Angola to elect new president as dos Santos retires.

Egypt set to reopen its Gaza crossing on regular basis in September.

South Sudan threatens to suspend UN planes.

EUROPE

Barcelona attacker Younes Abouyaaqoub shot dead after manhunt, Spanish police say.

Barcelona attack suspects questioned in court. Barcelona attack: Suspect says bigger attack was planned.

Quake hits Italian island causing buildings to collapse. 3 children pulled from rubble on quake-hit Italian island.

German foreign minister blames Erdogan over family 'threats'.

France's Macron, seeking to re-shape Europe, heads east.

UK outlines approach to cross-border legal disputes post-Brexit.

No longer an also-ran, British opposition leader hits campaign trail.

Russia pays off balance of Soviet Union's foreign debt.

Torso found off Denmark may belong to missing Swedish journalist.

AMERICAS

Trump backs off Afghan withdrawal, lambasts Pakistan.

Big protests expected as Trump plans Phoenix rally. Phoenix on high alert for Trump rally.

Black caucus has had it with Trump, plans to discuss impeachment.

Washington will impose greater sanctions on Venezuela.

More diplomats hurt in mysterious Cuban sonic attack.

Rare total solar eclipse spreads wonder across United States.

Canada seeks to 'aggressively' dispel asylum system myths.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Four Muslim men accused of plotting Christmas Day terror attack were 'found with very volatile chemicals used to make Mother of Satan bomb'.

Trump talks tough on Pakistan's 'terrorist' havens, but options scarce.

Moroccan who admitted killing two in Finland knife attack was refused asylum.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

World Bank says not currently looking at financing projects in Iran.

Johnson & Johnson faces $417m payout in latest talc case.

Cambridge University Press reverses decision to censor books in China.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- August 22, 2017



Nikkei Asian Review: US, South Korea eyeing more offensive options on Pyongyang

Amid rising stakes, annual war games seen focusing harder on pre-emptive strikes

SEOUL -- The U.S. and South Korea are expected to more strongly stress offensive maneuvers and even a possible decapitation strike against North Korea in their annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military drills that began Monday amid continuing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The mostly computer-simulated exercises through Aug. 31 usually center on such defensive maneuvers as responding to an attack by Pyongyang. But given the growing nuclear threat, Washington and Seoul will likely also rehearse operations specifically targeting Kim Jong Un's government.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- August 22, 2017

Japan Urges Pressure on North Korea, Military to Seek Record Defense Spending -- Reuters

US-S. Korea Begin Military Drills; North Makes Fiery Threat -- VOA/AP

US fears North Korea will sell nuclear weapons to TERRORISTS -- Daily Star

Trump vows to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan but won't reveal details -- CBC/AP

'Fully committed' NATO backs new U.S. approach on Afghanistan -- Reuters

Donald Trump's Afghanistan strategy exactly what US military wants, David Kilcullen says -- ABC News Online

Trump's Afghan strategy hailed in Kabul, GOP ranks; Dems skeptical -- UPI

Russia causes alarm with 'largest ever' military drills in Belarus -- The Independent

Belarus invites Ukraine and NATO to monitor West-2017 military drills -- TASS

Russian Spy Planes Intercepted Over Baltic Three Times in Two Days -- Newsweek

Chinese Military Going Hi-Tech As World Watches -- Sputnik

Hero police officer who gunned down Cambrils terrorists is former special forces soldier -- The Telegraph

Pentagon Delegation to Arrive in Kiev on August 23 -- Sputnik

U.S. defense secretary in Iraq as troops battle for Tal Afar -- Reuters

The US Military Is Cozying Up to Sudan, of All Countries -- War Is Boring

U.S. divers find remains of missing sailors in hull of damaged destroyer -- Reuters

'Some remains' of missing 10 sailors found after collision, admiral says -- CNN

Why Do U.S. Navy Ships Keep Crashing? -- Bloomberg

The US Navy's Greatest Enemy Might Be Exhaustion -- War Is Boring

Pentagon narrows competition for the next big U.S. nuclear missile deterrent -- Washington Post

Northrop, Boeing Win Initial Deal to Replace Land-Based Nuclear ICBMs -- DoD Buzz

Pentagon Eliminates Lockheed Martin From $85 Billion Missile Program -- WSJ

Lockheed wins $427 million U.S. defense contract: Pentagon -- Reuters

Contractors Praise Elevation of Cyber to Combatant Command -- DoD Buzz

Government Hacks Back: US Military Plans Malware Retaliation Against Attackers -- IBTimes

Invisible Artillery: Army Wants Electronic Warfare At All Levels -- Breaking Defense

Army Identifies Missing Black Hawk Crew After Suspending Search -- Military.com/AP

US military crashes, collisions in the Pacific -- FOX News

Bergdahl Chooses to Have Trial Heard by Judge and Not Jury -- Military.com/AP

U.S. soldier who defected to North Korea in 1962 dies -- UPI

The U.S. Military Will Soon Have 5,000 MPH 'Bullets' (and It's All North Korea's Fault) -- National Interest

How the A-4 Skyhawk Ruled the Skies -- National Interest

Trump’s Pentagon wants to spend almost $500 million on Guantánamo construction -- McClathcy News

Afghanistan Will Make Or Break U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis



Sandra Erwin, RCD: Afghanistan Strategy a Defining Moment for Mattis

The Afghanistan war strategy that President Trump announced Monday night was remarkable in that it was not a string of angry tweets but the product of a meticulous policy review.

“The process was rigorous,” said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The strategy does not dramatically depart from the status quo. It essentially calls for a continued — but not open-ended — U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Notably, the president leaves it to the discretion of the Pentagon to set troop numbers and decide what targets to pursue in the battlefield.

The president, in a prime-time speech at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in Arlington, Va., credited Mattis for changing his views on the war.

Shortly after his inauguration, Trump directed Mattis to undertake a comprehensive review of all strategic options in Afghanistan and South Asia. But up until a few weeks ago, it appeared the Afghanistan policy was very much in limbo, stalled by internal White House rivalries that pitted the generals against the isolationists.

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said. “After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David, with my Cabinet and generals, to complete our strategy.”

Mattis — who as a general in the Marine Corps was nicknamed “warrior monk” for his blunt talk and disciplined approach — was instrumental in assembling the team that put together a strategy that Trump could live with. The coalition included the State and Treasury Departments, the attorney general, the director of homeland security. Even the director of the Office of Management and Budget was involved so he could weigh in on the cost implications.

Read more ....

WNU editor: My uncle was a senior officer who fought for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. I asked him years ago if the Soviet Union ever had a chance to win the war against the Mujaheddin. He said no .... they had united the country against the Soviet occupation, and with arms continuously flowing to support the rebellion it was only a matter of time before Moscow would call it quits (In his mind the Soviets should have left in 1982 instead of 6 years later). He was still alive when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and he believed in 2002 that with victory over the Taliban now assured, the U.S. should leave the Afghans and the numerous tribes and ethnic groups that make up the country to sort out what needs to be done .... including security arrangements. That (of course) did not happen, and he believed to his last days that George Bush's support for nation building (backed by the UN) and establishing a major permanent US military presence in the country was one of the most "stupidest" policies that he had ever heard .... a policy (nation building) that President Trump fortunately put the rest in his speech last night. Flash forward to today .... if my uncle was alive today I think he would support US Defense Secretary Mattis' approach and strategy to fighting the Afghan war. He would tell me that the Taliban does have a lot of support, but there are also far more Afghans who oppose them than support them ... and they have proven themselves in the past two years that they are willing to fight. It is from this base that the U.S. (with its international allies) and the Afghan government must work together to present a unified and formidable front against the Taliban, and like Iraq, use the resources at hand and this base of support to confront and if not defeat the Taliban, at least severely limit their influence that will force them to the negotiating table. Will this strategy succeed .... I do not know. I am just a blogger who reads and talks to a lot of people who have a personal history with Afghanistan. But I do know that after last night's speech there is now a different tempo in the air, and like Iraq where a renewed focus spearheaded by the Obama administration and accelerated under President Trump and Defense Secretary Mattis has now helped to change the tide in that war, the same may now start to happen in Afghanistan. And as for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' legacy .... if extremism in this part of the world is curtailed to a significant degree .... there is no doubt in my mind that he will be viewed by future historians as one of the greatest military planners and strategists of all time. But should he fail .... into the dustbin of history.

Update
: Why am I not surprised that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Iraq right now .... Mattis: Islamic State Caught in Iraq-syria Military Vise (RCD).

Update #2: A regular reader just emailed me on what is my percentage for success in this "new strategy". From a historical perspective .... the probability for success is zero. But we also live in interesting times .... case in point .... I did not expect the Islamic State to be defeated as quickly as they have been in the past year. But the U.S. did not vote for President Trump to be involved in foreign conflicts .... and I am sure that many of his supporters are not happy this morning.

Pope Francis: Migrants' Rights Should Override National Security Concerns

Pope Francis welcomes a group of Syrian refugees after landing at Ciampino airport in Rome following a visit at the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos, April 16, 2016. Filippo Monteforte

Reuters: Pope says migrants' rights should override national security concerns

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis urged political leaders on Monday to defend migrants, saying their safety should take precedence over national security concerns and that they should not be subjected to collective deportations.

His challenge to politicians, made in a comprehensive position paper on migrants and refugees, again appeared to put him at odds with the restrictive policies of a number of governments dealing with growing popular anti-immigrant sentiment.

"Solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return," he said in a message ahead of the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Easy for his to say that. He lives behind a wall and is protected by bodyguards 24/7.

Who’s At The Trigger When The U.S. President Calls A Nuclear Strike

Hezbollah Boasts That It Is Using Drones To Bomb ISIS In Syria



Times of Israel: Hezbollah says it used drones to bomb Islamic State in Syria

Media outlet linked to terror group says unmanned craft struck jihadist targets during fighting along border.

A source in the coalition fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime said Hezbollah has confirmed using attack drones in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

The Lebanese terror group used the drones to hit IS positions in the Qalamoun mountains, near the border with Lebanon, a military media unit linked to the Shiite terror organization said, according to Reuters.

Video said to be from the drone showed unguided bombs being dropped on a site in the mountains.

While the official told the news agency it was the first such confirmation from the Lebanon-based group, a media unit connected to Hezbollah posted video of what it said was a drone dropping bombs near Aleppo last year.

Read more ....

More News On Hezbollah Boasting That It Is Using Drones To Bomb ISIS In Syria

Hezbollah uses drones against IS in Syria- Hezbollah-run media -- Reuters
Hezbollah using weaponised drones against IS in Syria -- AFP
Hezbollah drones attack ISIS positions on the Lebanese border -- Ynetnews
Terror Drones Growing Danger to Israel and IDF: Experts -- Breaking Israel News
As Israel Faces Growing Threat From Enemy Drones, Science Fiction Comes to Life -- Algemeiner

The Next Generation Of Drones Will Revolutionise Warfare

A Perdix swarm captured by high-speed cameras at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. CBS NEWS

CBS 60 Minutes: New generation of drones set to revolutionize warfare

Autonomous drones are being called the biggest thing in military technology since the nuclear bomb. David Martin reports.

One of the biggest revolutions over the past 15 years of war has been the rise of drones -- remotely piloted vehicles that do everything from conduct air strikes to dismantle roadside bombs. Now a new generation of drones is coming. Only this time they are autonomous -- able to operate on their own without humans controlling them from somewhere with a joy stick. Some autonomous machines are run by artificial intelligence which allows them to learn, getting better each time. It's early in the revolution but the potential exists for all missions considered too dangerous or complex for humans to be turned over to autonomous machines that can make decisions faster and go in harm's way without any fear. Think of it as the coming swarm, and if that sounds like the title of a sci-fi mini-series, well, as we first reported earlier this year, it's already a military reality. We saw it with our own eyes and captured it on camera.

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WNU editor: I have been predicting this for years .... but I never expected this to be happening now.

Tech Leaders Call On The UN To Ban 'Killer Robots'





DW: 'Autonomous weapons': Tech leaders warn UN of killer robots

With significant advances in robotics and AI, technology leaders have called for safeguards to avoid "destabilizing effects." They warned that "once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close."

More than 100 leaders in the industries of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics signed an open letter on Monday warning of a "third revolution" in warfare, when the UN's Conference of the Conventional Weapons was scheduled to meet to discuss the subject.

"As companies building the technologies in artificial intelligence and robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm," said the letter.

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WNU Editor: The open letter to the UN calling for the ban of "killer robots" is here .... An Open Letter To The United Nations On Certain Conventional Weapons (Future of Life).

More News On Tech Leaders Calling On The UN To Ban 'Killer Robots'

Tech leaders warn against 'Pandora's box' of robotic weapons -- AFP
Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots -- The Guardian
Elon Musk calls for ban on killer robots before 'weapons of terror' are unleashed -- Washington Post
Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots -- The Guardian
Elon Musk and AI experts urge UN to ban artificial intelligence in weapons -- Los Angeles Times
The world's top artificial intelligence companies are pleading for a ban on killer robots -- Business Insider
Killer robots are coming, and Elon Musk is worried -- Ars Technica
Sorry, Banning 'Killer Robots' Just Isn't Practical -- WIRED

U.S. Secret Service's Budget Under Strain Protecting President Trump And His Family



Washington Post: Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30

The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

If lawmakers don’t lift the cap, about a third of the agency’s agents would be working overtime without being paid, agency officials said.

“The Secret Service estimates that roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime hours in excess of statutory pay caps during calendar year 2017,” Director Randolph “Tex” Alles said in a statement. “To remedy this ongoing and serious problem, the agency has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration, and the Congress over the past several months to find a legislative solution.”

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More News On The U.S. Secret Service's Budget Being Drained To Protect The President

Exclusive: Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump's frequent travel, large family -- USA Today
Report: Secret Service can't afford to pay agents to protect Trump family -- CBS News
Secret Service can't pay agents for Trump and his family, report says -- CNN
Secret Service: Trump’s Not Our Only Problem -- NBC
Secret Service nearing spending limit for protecting Trump: report -- The Hill
Secret Service says it will run out of budget to protect Trump and his family on September 30 -- The Independent
Secret Service director says agency running out of money protecting Trump -- The Guardian
US Secret Service Says 1,100 Employees Face Unpaid Overtime -- VOA
Secret Service director cleans up comments on Trump travel demands -- Politico
Secret Service having trouble affording Trump family protection – but funding crunch not new -- FOX News