Wednesday, August 15, 2018

U.S. Sanctions Chinese And Russian Firms for Violating North Korean Sanctions



CNN: US Treasury targets companies in Russia, China for violating North Korea sanctions

(CNN)The US government on Wednesday moved to increase economic pressure on North Korea, adding new sanctions that target one individual and three shipping companies in Singapore, China and Russia for violating restrictions on trade with Pyongyang.

The Treasury Department announcement follows criticism from US officials that United Nations members needed to more strictly enforce sanctions against North Korea as part of the effort to get Pyongyang to denuclearize.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley directly called out Russia and China in July, when she and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on other countries to maintain economic pressure on Pyongyang to push the country to denuclearize.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Sanctioning Chinese And Russian Firms for Violating North Korean Sanctions

U.S. targets Chinese and Russian firms with breach of North Korea sanctions -- Reuters
U.S. sanctions Chinese, Russian firms for helping North Korea -- AP
Trump administration targets Chinese and Russian companies over illegal shipments to North Korea -- CNBC
Treasury targets Chinese, Russian shipping firms for violating North Korea sanctions -- The Hill

Russian Media: Afghanistan Turning Into Another Vietnam For The U.S.


RT: US losing in Afghanistan: Like Viet Cong, Taliban knows that waiting it out will defeat invaders

The latest conflicting reports about whether or not the Taliban has taken the strategic city of Ghazni between the Afghan capital of Kabul and Kandahar reflect the dilemma and difficulties that the American forces face today.

The concerns come despite the firepower and technology that the US has applied against an insurgent force, which has taken over more than 50 percent of the country. This is despite America having almost completely driven out the Taliban when it first invaded Afghanistan in late 2001.

The battle for Ghazni and indeed the effort to defeat the Taliban in remote areas of the country suggest that, notwithstanding the intelligence, technology and communications capabilities at its disposal, the US is losing the battle to secure the country.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: So much for U.S. talk about peace talks .... The Taliban's brutal strikes are rising the death toll and raising questions about the US's peace talks (AP).

Suicide Bomber Kills 48 In Kabul School



BBC: Kabul suicide bomber kills 48 in tuition centre attack

Forty-eight people have been killed and 67 injured in a bomb explosion at an education centre in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, the country's health ministry says.

Police say a suicide bomber walked into the centre while teaching was under way and detonated his bomb belt.

Many of those killed are believed to be teenagers who were getting extra tuition as they prepared for university entrance exams.

The Taliban has denied involvement.

This latest attack came hours after the Taliban said it could no longer guarantee safe passage for Red Cross staff working in Afghanistan, amid a row over the treatment of Taliban prisoners in a jail in Kabul.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Taliban have launched another assault on an Afghan base .... Afghanistan: Dozens of security forces killed in Taliban attack (Al Jazeera). More here .... Taliban stages another deadly attack on Afghan forces (CBS/AP), and here .... 45 Afghan Security Forces Killed in Baghlan Attack (TOLO News).

More News On The Afghan War

Dozens killed in Afghanistan attacks as violence continues -- Reuters
Afghan army makes significant gains against Taliban in Ghazni -- Al Jazeera
Battle for Ghazni ebbs as Taliban capture base in northern Afghanistan -- Stars and Stripes
US, Afghan forces battle Taliban in Ghazni -- FOX News
Afghan City Gauges Toll After Taliban Siege -- The Wall Street Journal
Dozens of Troops Killed by Taliban Attacks on Checkpoints in Afghanistan, Officials Say -- Time
Dozens killed as bomber hits college students in Afghan capital -- CBS/AP
Kabul suicide bomber kills 48 at education centre -- The Guardian
Afghanistan suicide blast in Kabul kills 48, injures 67 – Health Ministry -- RT

U.S. Army Apaches Kill 220 Taliban in Ghazni Fight


Military.com: Air Force Fighters, Army Apaches Kill 220 Taliban in Ghazni Fight

U.S. Air Force fighters and Army helicopter gunships have attacked and killed more than 220 Taliban forces in Ghazni over the past several days after militants launched a massive attack on the Afghan city less than 100 miles from Kabul.

"Ghazni City remains under Afghan government control," Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for Operation Resolute Support and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, told Military.com on Tuesday.

Afghan forces are conducting clearing operations in the city, but hundreds of civilians have fled, trying to escape the fierce fighting, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Read more ....

Update: More than 220 militants killed in US airstrikes in Ghazni city (Khaama Press).

WNU Editor: Here are more details on what the U.S. military is doing in this fight .... Ghazni City update: Here’s what Green Berets, 1st SFAB and Apaches are doing to help (Military Times).

Is An Iranian Cargo Ship Off The Coast Of Yemen Being Used To Gather Intelligence And Targeting Intel For Houthi Rebels?

Iranian cargo ship, Saviz (Fleet Mom)

Al Arabiya: Trump to sanction Iranian ship for facilitating terror strikes in Red Sea


Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked at least one Saudi oil tanker last week, on 25 July, inflicting damage on it near the stern and prompting the Saudis to suspend oil transport through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea.

Analysis of publicized threats from the Houthis and Iran just prior to and after the shipping attack strongly indicated high-level coordination of the attack on the Saudi oil trade. A mysterious incident at the international airport in Abu Dhabi, UAE on 26 July – claimed by the Houthis – may have been implicated as well (although there is less evidence for that. My write-up on the two incidents is here).

Read more ....

Update #1: Red Sea attack: Iranian cargo ship, delisted from sanctions by Obama, is in Yemen war (Liberty Unyielding)
Update #2: Trump to Sanction Iranian Ship Identified in Facilitating Terror Strikes (Washington Free Beacon)

WNU Editor:  That is one big cargo ship just hanging around.

A Closer Look At How A Major Afghan Base Was Over-Run By The Taliban


New York Times: The Afghan Army’s Last Stand at Chinese Camp

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — First Lt. Mohammad Reza, 23, got up from his bedroll on Monday morning and put on civilian clothes underneath his uniform. He was sweltering in the summer heat, but before the day was over, he would be glad he had done so.

Lieutenant Reza was a platoon leader and the senior officer of what was left of Company A, Sixth Battalion, First Brigade, part of the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps. His base, known as Chinese Camp, was in Ghormach District, a longtime Taliban stronghold in northern Faryab Province.

Battered by heavy Taliban attacks for three nights in a row, the company’s officers said they had lost half of their 106 soldiers — 21 were dead, including the company commander, and 33 were wounded. Fifteen border police officers based there had also been killed.

By the day’s end, they would all be gone.

The army’s last stand at Chinese Camp is an object lesson in the difficult conditions under which many Afghan troops fight and the inability of their military to support and resupply them — especially when forces are stretched thin by a big fight with the Taliban elsewhere.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When major FOBs like this one fall, it is ominous sign on where this war is heading.

UN Report: 2.3 Million Have Fled Venezuela

 Venezuelan citizens wait in line to cross into Ecuador on August 11, 2018, as millions of Venezuelans flee their country due to lack of resources such as food and medical supplies. © AFP

France 24: Lack of food pushes 2.3mn to flee Venezuela: UN

About 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their crisis-hit country mainly because of a lack of food as severe shortages of medicine has left thousands at risk, the UN spokesman said Tuesday.

The Venezuelans have fled to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

"People cite the lack of food as their main reason for leaving," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. About 1.3 million Venezuelans are suffering from malnourishment.

Severe shortages of medicine and medical supplies have led to a "sharp deterioration of the quality of hospitals," he said, citing UN humanitarian officials.

More than 100,000 Venezuelans living with HIV/AIDS are "at risk due to lack of access to necessary medication," he said.

Read more ....

Update: UN says an estimated 2.3 million people have fled Venezuela (Washington Post/AP)

WNU Editor: This number is going to be doubled by the end of next year. What also does not help is that the health care system in Venezuela has collapsed .... Hospitals scrap surgeries, Venezuelans forgo showers as taps run dry (Reuters).

U.S. Blocks Transfer Of F-35s To Turkey

Turkish F-35 seen during its roll-out ceremony. Lockheed Martin

Warzone/The Drive: No Stealth For You!: Trump Signs Defense Bill That Blocks Transfer Of F-35s To Turkey

The law is sure to rattle the already precarious relationship between Turkey and the U.S. and it could have serious consequences for the F-35 program.

The escalating F-35 saga between Ankara and Washington D.C., which you can read about here, hit a crescendo today when President Donald Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) at Fort Drum in upstate New York. Language in the bill specifically stops the delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey—a NATO ally and one of the first international partners on the program dating back two decades. Turkey has plans to buy 100 of the stealthy fighters, 30 of which are already on order, and has invested $1.2B into the program so far.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is going to be blow-back from Turkey because of this.

Tweets For Today





China's Surveillance State Continues To Spread

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Reuters: From laboratory in far west, China's surveillance state spreads quietly

BEIJING (Reuters) - Filip Liu, a 31-year-old software developer from Beijing, was traveling in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang when he was pulled to one side by police as he got off a bus.

The officers took Liu’s iPhone, hooked it up to a handheld device that looked like a laptop and told him they were “checking his phone for illegal information”.

Liu’s experience in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital, is not uncommon in a region that has been wracked by separatist violence and a crackdown by security forces.

But such surveillance technologies, tested out in the laboratory of Xinjiang, are now quietly spreading across China.

Government procurement documents collected by Reuters and rare insights from officials show the technology Liu encountered in Xinjiang is encroaching into cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

Police stations in almost every province have sought to buy the data-extraction devices for smartphones since the beginning of 2016, coinciding with a sharp rise in spending on internal security and a crackdown on dissent, the data show.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I know among the Chinese friends they are not happy with this lost of privacy. But for the moment, most Chinese citizens are accepting these surveillance measures.

Picture Of The Day

A general view of the collapsed Morandi Bridge in the port city of Genoa, Italy. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Deadly bridge collapse in Italy (Reuters)

China Threatens Foreign Ships And Planes 'Daily' In The South China Sea

Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy recruits chant slogan during a parade to mark the end of a semester at a military base of the North Sea Fleet, in Qingdao, Shandong province December 5, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily

Business Insider: China threatens foreign ships and planes 'daily' in the South China Sea, but no one is yielding any ground

* China threatens foreign ships and planes in the South China Sea on a "daily basis," according to members of the Philippine military.
* Warnings directed at the Philippines are much more menacing than those directed at the US military, leading some experts to question whether or not China is purposefully calibrating its responses to intimidate smaller, weaker claimant states.
* Both the armed forces of the Philippines and the US military continue their operations as planned, disregarding Chinese threats and warnings.

China is threatening foreign ships and planes operating in the South China Sea on a "daily" basis, according to the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"It's a daily occurrence," General Carlito Galvez Jr. told the press Monday, the Inquirer reported. "Our pilots just reply, 'We are just doing our routine flight on our jurisdiction and territory.'"

The office of the president of the Philippines praised its country's pilots for disregarding Chinese warnings and threats, which can be particularly aggressive.

Read more
....

WNU Editor: It looks like this is now business as usual in the South China Sea.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Cuba Has Nationwide Free Internet For The Day



Reuters: Cubans cheer as internet goes nationwide for a day

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba’s government said it provided free internet to the Communist-run island’s more than 5 million cellphone users on Tuesday, in an eight-hour test before it launches sales of the service.

Cuba is one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries. State-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA announced the trial, with Tuesday marking the first time internet services were available nationwide.

There are hundreds of WiFi hotspots in Cuba but virtually no home penetration.

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, considered the country’s social media pioneer, raved that she had directly sent a tweet from her mobile. In another tweet, she called the test a “citizen’s victory.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  The Cuban government is going to make sure that they are controls on what people can see, but it is a start.

Is NATO's Eastern Countries Rearming Because Of President Trump?

FRONT AND CENTER: President Donald Trump jovially greeted fellow world leaders on Wednesday afternoon at the opening ceremony of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's leader's summit in Brussels

Ott Ummelas, Bloomberg: NATO's East Is Rearming, But It's Because of Putin, Not Trump

* Eastern European members raise spending on weapons systems
* U.S. President says he added $41 billion to allied purchases

Donald Trump has taken credit for a rise in military spending by NATO states, but in the alliance’s eastern reaches, it’s his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who’s driving the rearming effort.

Last month, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked the U.S. President for “clearly having an impact” on defense spending by allies while Trump said his demands had added $41 billion to European and Canadian defense outlays.

But the jump in acquisitions behind the former Iron Curtain of aircraft, ships and armored vehicles began when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, well before Trump’s 2016 election victory, according to analysts including Tomas Valasek, director of Carnegie Europe in Brussels. While the median defense expenditure of NATO members is 1.36 percent of gross domestic product, below the alliance’s requirement of 2 percent, eastern members comprise seven of the 13 members that are paying above that level.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The security situation in eastern Europe was changing long before President Trump was elected, but you cannot help but feel that his election did speed up the arms buildup that is now occurring.

Iran Is Demanding War Reparations From Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during a ceremony in Najaf, Iraq, Jan. 7, 2018.

Ali Mamouri, Al-Monitor: Iran-Iraq tensions rise as Tehran demands war compensation

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Aug. 7 that Iraq will abide by US sanctions on Iran to protect Iraq's own interests. Abadi spokesman Saad al-Hadithi confirmed Aug. 13 that Iraq will not violate US sanctions on Iran and that “Iraq's stance toward the US sanctions imposed on Iran stems from the general interest of Iraq, and was not impetuous or hasty, but was subjected to study, and was not affected by the positions of other states or political parties.”

After Iraq said it would abide by US sanctions, several Iranian officials raised their voices against Iraq, calling it traitorous and demanding the country pay compensation for damages caused in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War that took place under Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was executed in 2006.

The controversy over Iraqi acceptance of the US sanctions and then Iran’s demands for war compensation has divided the Iraqi street into two opposing camps.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It always comes down to money.

Are Afghan Security Forces Collapsing?



Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose: Taliban Fighters Rout Afghan Security Forces Across Country

Any illusions that the Taliban were interested in negotiating a peaceful settlement with the Afghan government and its international partners have been dashed by four days of grueling fighting across the country, during which the Taliban have reportedly occupied Ghazni city and wiped out up to 100 Afghan commandos in a demoralizing blow to Afghan security forces.

Since August 10, the U.S. military has launched at least 24 airstrikes from B-1 bombers, A-10 Thunderbolt II attack craft, AH-64 Apache helicopters, and MQ-9 Reaper drones to support Afghan troops and police fighting to retake Ghazni, killing more than 140 Taliban fighters, Resolute Support spokesman Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell told Task & Purpose

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is safe to say that this strategy has failed .... One year in, Pentagon pins hope for Trump Afghanistan strategy on Taliban change of heart (Jamie McIntyre, Washington Examiner).

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 14, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Maysam Behravesh, Reuters: Why Trump’s ‘Arab NATO’ plan won’t curb Iran

The first round of what U.S. President Donald Trump called “the most biting sanctions ever imposed” against Tehran went into effect on August 7. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” Trump continued, in a tweet posted that morning. An even more damaging second round of U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic, reinstated after Washington pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, is expected to take effect in November.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 14, 2018

Why Taliban assault matters for Afghanistan and the U.S. -- New York Times

All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration -- Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

President Xi’s China Dream collides with the ‘Impossible Trinity’ -- Chris Taylor, Asia Times

China-U.S. Trade Spat Is Just a Start to the Economic Cold War -- Conor Sen, Bloomberg

North Korea Can Keep Its Nukes—But Only Under This Condition -- Grant Newsham, National Interest

Faced with disaster, Duterte falls from view -- Jason Castaneda, Asia Times

In the Middle East the Russians Aren’t Coming: They Are Back -- Chuck Freilich, National Interest

Erdoğan Tilts at Windmills as Lira’s Decline Continues -- Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic

Turkey lira crisis: Six things you need to know -- Al Jazeera

Russia wary to take sides in Libya as Hifter offers lucrative deals -- Kirill Semenov, Al-Monitor

Egypt: Five years since 'Rabaa massacre' -- Al Jazeera

War and fuel: Angela Merkel's headaches in Russia talks -- Ben Knight, DW

How the Islamic State caliphate was lost -- Shiraz Maher, New Statesman

The Real Reason Behind The Next Oil Squeeze -- David Messler, OilPrice.com

Why did Genoa's 'Brooklyn Bridge' collapse? -- DW

World News Briefs -- August 14, 2018



FOX News: US, Afghan forces battle Taliban in Ghazni

Although the Taliban overran a base in northern Afghanistan, and Afghan forces were battling insurgents for a fifth day in the eastern city of Ghazni on Tuesday, the U.S. military reported that the city "remains under Afghan government control.”

“What we observed as these Afghan-led operations drove a large portion of Taliban from the city over the last day or so, was the retreating Taliban attacking the more vulnerable surrounding districts, which Afghan forces are reinforcing,” Lt. Col. Martin L. O’Donnell, a U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman, told Fox News. “That said, some Taliban forces remain in the city. These insurgent forces do not pose a threat to the city's collapse.”

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria regime welcomes returning refugees with charm offensive.

Turkey hopes to find solution on Syria's Idlib with Russia.

Lebanon's Hariri says government formation may take more time.

Lebanese Hezbollah leader says group stronger than ever.

Yemen buries children killed by air strike, Riyadh insists raid 'legitimate'.

Erdoğan says Turkey will boycott US electronic products. Erdogan: Turkey can do without US electronic goods.

U.S. official warns of more actions against Turkey if pastor not freed.

Blocked by Israel for years, Palestinian mail finally arrives.

ASIA

Taliban overrun Afghan army base, kill 17 troops.

'We won't survive': Residents speak of ongoing battle in Ghazni.

China alarmed over provisions in U.S. defense funding bill.

US: N. Korea talks moving 'in right direction'.

North Korea stops tourist visas as republic’s 70th anniversary approaches.

Malaysia threatens to nix Chinese projects.

Warm, high-profile welcome for Taiwanese president in the United States.

US denies China policy change after Taiwan leader speech in LA.

Hun Sen: Calls for Cambodian sanctions intensify in Canberra ahead of key Julie Bishop meeting.

Philippines: Tens of thousands displaced in deadly floods.

AFRICA

Mali president claims election victory amid fraud accusations.

Libyan militia evict 1,900 minority Tawergha from IDP camp.

Uganda: Museveni critic Bobi Wine detained by authorities after violent clashes.

Mozambique police name 'ringleaders' behind Islamist attacks.

Congo’s health ministry says Ebola spreads to 2nd province.

Tunisia denies migrants arrested on way to Italy were 'terrorists'.

Nigeria's acting president orders overhaul of controversial police unit.

EUROPE

Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26. Italy bridge: Bridge rescuers search into the night in Genoa.

'What the hell are you up to?' Arson attacks draw Swedish PM's ire.

Malta to let rescue boat dock with 141 migrants aboard.

Freed in Turkey before spy trial, Greek soldiers await flight home.

Laima Vaikule: Latvian pop star angers Russia with Crimea snub.

Ruble slump hits Russians' wallets, not their support for Putin.

Russia offers 2.5 million acres of land to Chinese farmers, but will it ease Beijing’s soybean shortage?

AMERICAS

Ex-Trump aide Manafort's defense rests, case headed to jury.

White House: we cannot guarantee there's no tape of Trump using N-word. Trump lashes out at Omarosa, calls her ‘that dog’.

Bolton to meet with Russian counterpart in Switzerland next week.

Venezuela military officers arrested over drone attack on Maduro. Venezuela: Military figures arrested after drone 'attack'.

Venezuela's Maduro announces curbs to cheap gas.

Argentina ex-leader Kirchner appears in court over corruption.

Cuban 'acoustic attack' report on US diplomats flawed, say neurologists.

Colombia blocks treasure hunters from 'holy grail of shipwrecks'.

Puerto Rico officials say all of island now has power again.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

IS conflict: Up to 30,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq - UN.

UK Parliament crash: man arrested on suspicion of terrorism.

Jihadist conflict in Cameroon diminishing, says thinktank.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US retailers small companies rally as Turkey fears ease.

Google tracks users who turn off location history.

Another big sports deal for Facebook.