Friday, June 22, 2018

Advances In Technology Has Raised The Risk Of A New Generation Of Bio-Weapons

The Guardian: Synthetic biology raises risk of new bioweapons, US report warns

Report warns that swift progress in our ability to manufacture viruses is making us vulnerable to biological attacks

The rapid rise of synthetic biology, a futuristic field of science that seeks to master the machinery of life, has raised the risk of a new generation of bioweapons, according a major US report into the state of the art.

Advances in the area mean that scientists now have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body.

The three scenarios are picked out as threats of highest concern in a review of the field published on Tuesday by the US National Academy of Sciences at the request of the Department of Defense. The report was commissioned to flag up ways in which the powerful technology might be abused, and to focus minds on how best to prepare.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My brother works as a researcher in the biotech field in the Bay area. He has been telling me for the past few years that advances in technology will make it possible to manufacture bio-weapons that we could only imagine. It looks like that day is now. The report is here.

This Is What Happens When Bureaucracies Rum Amok


WNU Editor: Growing up in the Soviet Union I lived through worse. There was a time when just to get the proper paper work to travel to Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) from Moscow involved going to see three bureaucrats in three different places. Just to travel between two freaking cities!!!!! For as long as I will live, I will never forget the faces of the men and women who worked at these bureaucracies .... who felt that this was an important job, and they were providing a valuable service to the state. While all that they were doing eight hours a day was filing paperwork that said someone like me had to travel to Leningrad .... correction .... Saint Petersburg for two days. I could rant all night on this .... the joys of living in a communist state .... one bureaucratic torture session after another.

The Father Of The Honduran Two-Year-Old Who Became The Face Of The Family Separation Crisis Speaks Out


WNU Editor: This husband is not happy with his wife .... EXCLUSIVE: 'They're together and they're safe.' Father of Honduran two-year-old who became the face of the family separation crisis when she was photographed in tears as her mother was searched by U.S. border control speaks out (Daily Mail). The video of his daughter dominated the news networks for a few days, but at least he has clarified and corrected the media narrative that has spun around his daughter and wife (soon to be ex-wife I guess). Will the media correct and update its story? Do pigs fly?

Tweeets For Today






WNU Editor: NBC is so full of themselves ....

Chinese Naval Manager Is Alleged To Have Sold To The CIA Chinese Aircraft Carrier Intel

A file photo of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning. Photo: Xinhua

Asia Times: Disgraced manager at shipbuilding juggernaut allegedly ‘sold Chinese carrier intel to CIA’

Sun Bo is under a probe for graft and rumored espionage; meanwhile a new rendering of a future carrier without a ski-jump bow is released and then deleted.

A disgraced senior executive of the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC) is said to have fed US spies highly classified information, including the design and specifications of the Liaoning aircraft carrier that underwent years of refurbishment at CSIC’s Dalian Shipyard.

CSIC general manager Sun Bo, the second-highest-ranking executive at the shipbuilding juggernaut, has run afoul of graft and crime busters at the National Supervision Commission and the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and is under investigation for “gross violation of laws and party discipline,” according to a one-line notice posted last week on the two commissions’ joint website that is devoid of any further details.

Sun’s last public appearance was on June 11 during an inspection trip to a CSIC logistics subsidiary.

Read more ....

Update: China Investigates Shipyard Exec For Giving CIA Secrets About Aircraft Carrier (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: If convicted, he will be facing the death penalty. There is one question that needs to be answered. If he did sell Chinese secrets to the CIA, how did the Chinese find out?

Picture Of The Day

Revellers welcome in the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge stone circle in southwest Britain. REUTERS/Toby Melville

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Summer solstice at Stonehenge (Reuters).

Is The Cuban Government Permitting More Access To News And Information For Its Citizens?



WNU editor: From the AP .... Cuba slightly loosens controls on state media (AP). It is still tightly controlled, and the internet is still restricted and/or out of reach for most Cubans. It is hard to believe that in an age where cell phones and having access to the world wide web is a given, the Cuban government wants access restricted to only a chosen few (or those who have the money to pay for it .... which most do not).

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Under President Trump The U.S. Is Dropping A Bomb Or Launching A Missle Strike Every 12 Minutes

© Nikola Solic / Reuters

Lee Camp, Truth Dig: Trump’s Military Drops a Bomb Every 12 Minutes, and No One Is Talking About It

We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name. While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names.

Once every 12 minutes.

The United States military drops an explosive with a strength you can hardly comprehend once every 12 minutes. And that’s odd, because we’re technically at war with—let me think—zero countries. So that should mean zero bombs are being dropped, right?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Lee Camp does have a point that .... for a country that is not at war with anyone, the U.S. is dropping a lot of bombs on average everyday.

Update: The US is bombing Afghanistan more than ever in 2018 (We Are The Mighty)

Hat tip Fred for the above link.

Ex-Soldier Who Massacred 16 Afghan Civilians May Seek Clemency From President Trump

A 38-year-old father of two, Sgt. Robert Bales, left, served in the Army for 11 years. He had been deployed to Iraq three times and was on his fourth deployment, this time to Afghanistan. (Reuters / DOD / March 22, 2012)

McClatchy News: Ex-soldier who shot up Afghan village may seek clemency from president, lawyer says

Robert Bales, the former Army staff sergeant who killed 16 Afghan civilians, including seven children, will likely ask the president to commute his life sentence once he exhausts his legal appeals for one of the nation's most notorious war crimes.

Bales’ attorney, John Maher of Chicago, said earlier this month that if he runs out of options in the courts, he will seek executive clemency from the president.

Bales could face a receptive audience if President Donald Trump still occupies the Oval Office when his appeals are complete. Trump has freed people he believes were treated unfairly by the judicial system, pardoning five, including two for political corruption and infamous Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt..

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Not going to happen .... not when the Afghan war is still ongoing.

Are The Russians Getting "Tired" Of NSA "Whistle-Blower" Edward Snowden?

Edward Snowden remains in exile in Russia. Photograph: Lindsay Mills

Daily Mail: Five years after whistleblower Edward Snowden fled the US, there's growing evidence the Russians are getting fed up with him, too

* This month marks fifth anniversary of Edward Snowden's escape from Hawaii
* He revealed almost all US telephone firms handed the NSA their phone records
* But now, it appears even the Russians are becoming tiresome of Snowden

Do you remember convicted MI6 traitor and Soviet agent George Blake, who escaped over the wall of Wormwood Scrubs in London, where he was serving a 42-year sentence? He fled across Europe and has lived in Russia ever since.

Blake, who got away in 1966, now spends his time in a Kremlin-provided dacha — or country house — at Kratovo, not far from Moscow. He also has an apartment in a quiet street in the centre of the capital. These locations are not state secrets.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: He does not live in Moscow. If he was, Russian social media would have outed him within a few days. If I was to hazard a guess, he is in the northern past of the Urals living in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and everyone keeps to themselves. And no .... the Russians are not going to kick him out of the country.

Update: I forgot to mention it. It is his birthday today.

China Reveals What Its Third Aricraft Carrier Will Look Like (Hint: It Looks Familiar)

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
CSIC

SCMP: China’s newest aircraft carrier likely to have catapult launch system

Image on developer’s social media site appears to show new technology installed on Type 002

A photograph published on social media by one of the companies that develops China’s aircraft carriers appears to suggest that the latest vessel will be equipped with a catapult launch system, unlike either of its predecessors.

China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) uploaded the picture on Wednesday, the state-backed tabloid Global Times reported, although it was taken down later the same day.

The image – which appeared to be an artist’s impression rather than an actual photograph – showed China’s Type 002 carrier – the country’s third carrier and second to be domestically developed – with a flat flight deck installed with three catapult-like devices.

Read more ....

Update: Chinese Shipbuilder Hints at New Aircraft Carrier Modifications (PHOTOS) (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: That looks like a U.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 21, 2018

South Korean marines march during a military exercise as a part of the annual joint military training called Foal Eagle between South Korea and the U.S. in Pohang, South Korea, April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Reuters: Commentary: The danger of Trump’s decision on Korea ‘war games’

Donald Trump’s unexpected announcement that he was suspending joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises as part of negotiations with the North has caused consternation in Seoul as well as at the Pentagon. The greatest alarm, however, will be amongst Washington’s major allies in Asia and Europe, already made nervous by the U.S. president’s rhetoric that Washington spends too much money on defending them.

It’s not yet certain exactly how much training activity the U.S. military will cancel, but it looks to include several major exercises scheduled for August. Particularly over the last two years, the United States has used such drills to unambiguously threaten Pyongyang over its nuclear program, and the Trump administration clearly hopes that by stopping them, North Korea will keep its missile and nuclear warhead test program on ice.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 21, 2018

Analyst: U.S.-North Korea relations go beyond warhead count -- Elizabeth Shim, UPI

Kim Jong Un ends visit to China with a message for the US -- Zachary Cohen, CNN

Sexy metal: the missing element in the Korean puzzle -- Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

If the US military withdraws from Korea, China will be a big loser -- Michael Heng, SCMP

What Awaits Yemen After Hodeida? -- Norman Roule, Cipher Brief

Mohammed Bin Salman: One year as Saudi crown prince -- Al Jazeera

Renewed fight over Libya’s oil threatens entire country -- Mustafa Fetouri, Al-Monitor

Peace within and between Eritrea and Ethiopia -- Lencho Leta, Addis Standard

‘Don’t panic’ as China’s central bank governor calms nerves -- Gordon Watts, Asia Times

China, Russia Cooperating in Arctic As Region Gains Strategic Importance -- Sonja Jordan, National Defense

Mother of all EU summits -- David M. Herszenhorn, Politico.eu

Developing nations likely in the eye of the financial storm. -- The Hill

The Great American Oil Boom -- Jude Clemente, RCE

Violence keeps Central Americans coming to US despite Trump -- Marcos Aleman and Joshua Goodman, AP

World News Updates -- June 1, 2018 (Evening Edition)


Reuters: Assad presses assault in southwest Syria, civilians flee

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian government forces pounded rebel-held areas of the southwest with artillery on Thursday, in a steady escalation by President Bashar al-Assad who has vowed to win back the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12,500 civilians had fled the town of Busra al-Hariri and nearby areas of Deraa province in the last two days. Rebel officials gave conflicting assessments of the scale of displacement.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.N. fears for 750,000 Syrians caught in new offensive.

Syrian Army steps up offensive in southwest - reports.

Syrian offensive displaces thousands in rebel-held Deraa. Syria war: Thousands flee fighting in south-west as troops mobilise.

U.N.: Syrian regime, rebels committed war crimes in Eastern Ghouta siege. Syria war: War crimes committed in Eastern Ghouta battle - UN.

Saudi-led coalition faces tough battle for Yemen's Hodeidah port.

Army reinforcements roll into Yemen's embattled Hodeida.

Iraqi high court backs manual recount of election votes.

Iraq militia vows vengeance for deadly Syria raid.

Turkey’s Erdogan seeks new term with greater powers.

Iran's Zarif: Donald Trump's behaviour 'erratic, dangerous'.

Israeli minister hints at 'large-scale military operation' in Gaza.

‘Occupied’ East Jerusalem: Prince William infuriates Israel with statement on royal visit.

ASIA

Trump: North Korea blowing up test sites, 'total denuclearization ... has already started'.

China's Xi denounces 'protectionism, isolationism and populism'.

Ceasefire over, US-led coalition downplays Taliban attack that killed up to 30 Afghan soldiers.

State Department: Russia, Iran ‘hedging their bets’ to back Taliban.

North Korea sanctions to remain until denuclearization achieved: South Korea minister.

Two Koreas to discuss reunion of separated family members.

China to allow North Korea flights from Xi Jinping's ancestral province.

U.S. identifies North Korea missile test site it says Kim committed to destroy.

Japan to halt missile attack drills after Trump-Kim summit.

AFRICA

Sudan 'blocks' UN access in Darfur fighting areas.

Nearly 700 migrants 'rescued' off Libya in two days.

East Libyan forces launch military operation to retake key oil ports. Haftar forces claim to have retaken key oil terminals in Libya.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir meets with rebel leader Riek Machar.

Médecins Sans Frontières staff working in Africa accused of using sex workers.

Voting machines raise worries in Congo ahead of elections.

I.Coast govt calls for evacuation from flood zones in Abidjan.

Algeria and Iraq shut down internet to prevent exam cheating.

South Africa announces drastic healthcare shakeup.

Mauritania legislative election set for September 1.

EUROPE

Trump weighs meeting with Putin.

EU to begin counter trade tariffs against US on Friday. EU hits back with tariffs on $3.2B worth of U.S. goods.

EU admits no African country has agreed to host migration centre.

Putin to meet with South Korea's Moon as World Cup diplomacy continues.

Visegrad countries urge stronger EU border defense.

Italy warns EU partners on migrant deal ahead of summit. Italy and Germany clash as migration rows split EU.

Poland warns Merkel and Macron's proposed eurozone budget 'could be the END of the EU'.

Official: Polish leader’s ill health not sparking infighting.

AMERICAS

Confusion and uncertainty at the border after Trump acts.

Trump caves after negative images, pressure from family.

Trump signs executive order on family separation but says "zero tolerance" to stay.

Migrant children: US battle moves to Congress.

US opioid crisis sending thousands of children into foster care.

Trump to welcome Jordan’s king to White House.

PM Trudeau says cannabis will be legal in Canada on Oct. 17. Trudeau says pot will be legal as of Oct. 17, 2018.

Nicaragua violence: Families call for release of detainees.

Venezuela deploys soldiers to markets to check prices.

Cuba slightly loosens controls on state media.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Brexit row: GCHQ chief stresses UK's role in foiling European terror plots.

Al-Shabab militant group getting lucky, not stronger in Somalia.

Revealed: Canada uses massive US anti-terrorist database at borders.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US stocks skid as industrials, automakers, tech trade lower.

Top US court gives states broad rights for online sales tax.

EU firms worried about China's tough business environment, trade tensions.

Saudi Arabia proposes hiking oil output by 1 million barrels a day ahead of OPEC meeting.

Burger King 'sorry' for offering burgers to women who get pregnant to World Cup players.

South Sudan President And Rebel Leader Meet In Ethiopia To Resume Peace Talks



Al Jazeera: South Sudan rebel chief meets President Kiir in Ethiopia

Two South Sudanese leaders met for the first time since a peace deal broke down in 2016.

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar met Wednesday with President Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa - the first time in nearly two years - as part of talks to try to negotiate an end to a five-year civil war, Ethiopia's Prime Minister's chief of staff said on Twitter.

"The PM Abiy Ahmed hosted a private dinner to President Salva Kiir and Dr Rieck Machar together," Fitsum Arega said.

"Faced with the continued suffering in SouthSudan, Ethiopia simply can’t stand by. With more work, a peaceful future is possible," Arega added.

Read more ....

More News On south Sudan Peace Talks

South Sudan President Salva Kiir meets with rebel leader Riek Machar -- DW
Warring Leaders of South Sudan Meet for Peace Talks -- New York Times
South Sudan foes meet after two years -- AFP
Regional leaders renew South Sudan peace push -- AFP
More time needed to achieve peace, South Sudan rebels say -- Reuters
South Sudan’s civil war has raged for 5 years. Now the leaders of the two sides are meeting. -- VOX News
Inside South Sudan's civil war (Video) -- BBC

U.S. Commerce Secretary Issues Warning That The U.S. Must Create A 'More Painful' Environment In Trade

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Cabinet Room about immigration at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Reuters: Ross says U.S. must create 'more painful' environment in trade: CNBC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday the United States needs to make it harder for its trading partners to have high trade barriers in order to achieve President Donald Trump’s ultimate goal of lower barriers and a level playing field.

“What we have to do is create an environment where it’s more painful for these parties that have these huge trade barriers, both tariff and non-tariff, got to make it more painful for them to keep those barriers than to get rid of them,” he told CNBC.

“In the particular case of China, it’s compounded by their disrespect of intellectual property, the forced technology transfers, the cybersecurity breaches.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: No one is believing that the U.S. will make do on these threats .... Trudeau says he can't imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs (CTV). For the past year I have been telling everyone that they should NOT underestimate U.S. threats .... but everyone is still in denial.

China Issues Concerns That U.S. Workers Will Be Hurt In A Trade War (Update)

China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng attends a news conference at the commerce ministry in Beijing, China, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Reuters: Washington's 'capricious' trade actions will hurt U.S. workers, China warns

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s commerce ministry on Thursday accused the United States of being “capricious” over bilateral trade issues, and warned that the interests of U.S. workers and farmers ultimately will be hurt by Washington’s penchant for brandishing “big sticks”.

Previous trade negotiations with the United States were constructive, but Beijing has had to respond in a strong manner due to the U.S. tariff threats, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said.

President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to hit $200 billion of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if Beijing retaliates against his previous announcement to target $50 billion in imports. The United States has accused China of stealing U.S. intellectual property, a charge Beijing denies.

Washington’s accusations of forced tech transfers are a distortion of reality, and China is fully prepared to respond with “quantitative” and “qualitative” tools if the U.S. releases a new list of tariffs, Gao told a regular briefing in Beijing.

Read more ....

Previous Post: China Is Accusing The U.S. Of 'Being A Bully' On International Trade

WNU Editor: Memo to all American workers .... the Chinese government does not care about you.

Battle For Libyan Oil Ports Intensifies

Catastrophic damage at the Ras Lanuf terminal on Wednesday (Twitter/@NOC_Libya)

Middle East Eye: Battle for Libyan oil ports intensifies as Haftar forces strike back

After a week of fighting, forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar say they have retaken As Sidra oil port and and airstrip at Ras Lanuf

East Libyan forces said on Thursday they had rapidly retaken control of large areas of the closed oil ports of As Sidra and Ras Lanuf, which they retreated from a week ago in the face of an armed attack.

Local witnesses and military sources said forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar had retaken oil storage tanks and Ras Lanuf airstrip, and that As Sidra port was under military control as clashes continued and troops advanced west.

Read more ....

More News On The Battle For Libya's Oil Ports

Libya strongman's forces say key oil ports recaptured -- AFP
Haftar forces claim to have retaken key oil terminals in Libya -- Al Jazeera
East Libyan forces advance in bid to retake oil ports -- Times of Malta
Libya oil output down to 600,000-700,000 bpd, exports may be diverted: source -- Reuters
Libya Desperate To Get Stranded Oil To Market -- OilPrice.com

No Takers In Africa For The EU Plan To Open Migration Centers


The Guardian: EU admits no African country has agreed to host migration centre

Plan to prevent deaths at sea revealed as Italy cries foul over summit called to help Germany

The European Union’s most senior migration official has admitted that no north African country has yet agreed to host migrant screening centres to process refugee claims.

Details of an EU plan to prevent migrants drowning at sea emerged on Thursday after Italy criticised the agenda of an emergency summit for not offering enough to help it cope with arrivals.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, said the EU wanted to “intensify cooperation” with Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Niger and Morocco, as he announced the intention to create a “regional disembarkation scheme”.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is another example to me on how stupid and clueless the people in the EU who handle immigration issues are when it comes to immigration. Of course no North African country is going to accept this EU offer to open migration centers, because they know that if they did they would be swamped very quickly by hundreds of thousands of migrants (if not more) from all-over Africa in a very short period of time.