Sunday, April 21, 2019

Picture Of The Day

The heart of Paris on fire - a devastating blaze tears through the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. Pledges from French billionaires, businesses and the public sector to help rebuild Notre Dame cathedral have reached nearly 700 million euros (790 million dollars) amid an outpouring of public support for one of Europe's most iconic monuments. © Sputnik / Dominique Boutin

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... This Week in Pictures: 13 April - 19 April (Sputnik).

Saturday, April 20, 2019

U.S. Coastguard Faces The Chinese Navy In Asia

Captain John Driscoll next to the US Coast Guard vessel Bertholf during a port stop in Hong Kong this month. SCMP / K. Y. Cheng

SCMP/Washington Post: ‘Oversubscribed’ US Navy leans more on coastguard to help counter China

* As the Defence Department shifts its focus to competing with Russia and China, the coastguard ‘brings some authorities below the threshold of war’
* ‘Realities in the South China Sea’ and the loss of two Navy destroyers in 2017 are helping to drive the shift

As a US coastguard cutter sailed through the East China Sea last month, Chinese vessels shadowed it on the high seas, service officials said. It was a reminder to the Americans of where they were: in a strategic area a couple hundred miles from China’s shores.

The situation underscored the evolving US response to the rise of China and the coastguard’s role operating missions typically closer to home. The coastguard is increasingly orienting itself toward China, senior officials said, by deploying new cutters, repositioning older ones and dispatching service members to countries such as Vietnam and Sri Lanka to help train those nations’ coastguards.

Admiral Karl Schultz, the coastguard commandant, said that as the Defence Department shifts its focus to competing with Russia and China, the Navy is “oversubscribed”.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: One U.S. coastguard cutter in Asia is not going to intimidate China.

Chinese Navy To Flaunt Its Newest Warships Next Week During Fleet Week

China has had naval technology since ancient times, but its modern navy was founded in 1949. (Wikimedia Commons: US Navy / David Rush)

ABC News Online: China to flaunt new-found military muscle as People's Liberation Army navy turns 70

China's navy will mark 70 years since its founding next week, in a parade that will show off new warships including nuclear submarines and destroyers, giving the emergent superpower the chance to flaunt its wealth and new-found military muscle.

While China's involvement in naval technology stretches back to 549 BC, China's modern navy was founded on April 23, 1949, which has remained under Chinese Communist Party control.

President Xi Jinping is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish the People's Liberation Army (PLA) by developing everything from stealth jets to aircraft carriers as China ramps up its presence in the South China Sea and around Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rogue Chinese territory.

Read more ....

More News On China's Fleet Week

PLA Navy reveals details of April 23 fleet review -- CGTN
China to show off new nuclear subs, destroyers for first time at fleet review marking navy's 70th anniversary -- Japan Times
China to show new warships as Beijing flexes military muscle on navy anniversary -- CNBC/Reuters
China to show off new warships next week -- The Hill
China to unveil new warships as Beijing flexes military muscles on Navy anniversary -- Express

Islamic State Claims Its First Official Attack In The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

Long War Journal: Islamic State claims attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Islamic State has claimed its first official attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a statement released by Amaq News earlier today.

“[Members of] The Congolese Army were killed and wounded in an attack in the village of Kamango near the borders of the Congo and Uganda,” the Islamic State said in its statement. While it is not immediately clear an attack took place today in Kamango, local media has reported that Islamist forces targeted civilians near the town in recent days.

Read more ....

More News On The Islamic State Claiming Its First Official Attack In The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

ISIL claims its first DR Congo attack -- Al Jazeera
ISIS Claims First Attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo -- The New York Times
Islamic State Says Fighters Struck Congo's Army for First Time -- Bloomberg
Isis claims its first attack in Democratic Republic of the Congo -- The Independent
Congo: What's Behind the Islamic State's Claim of an Attack in Africa? -- Stratfor

U.S. Intelligence Says Huawei Is Funded By Chinese State Security

Forbes: CIA Offers Proof Huawei Has Been Funded By China's Military And Intelligence

In the battle between Washington and Huawei, there has long been the taunt from Shenzhen that U.S. officials have failed to produce any evidence of actual collusion between the telecom equipment giant and the Chinese state. Has that now changed?

On Saturday, the Times reported that such evidence exists, it has just not been openly published. According to the newspaper's U.K. source, Huawei "has received funding from branches of Beijing’s state security apparatus... American intelligence shown to Britain says that Huawei has taken money from the People’s Liberation Army, China’s National Security Commission and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network."

Earlier this month, Joy Tan, Huawei's chief global communicator, told me that "the assumption that the Chinese government can potentially interfere in Huawei’s business operation is completely not true. Huawei is a private company. The Chinese government does not have any ownership or any interference in our business operations."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: U.S. efforts to convince countries to not adopt the Huawei's G5 network is not working .... My way or the Huawei: how US ultimatum over China’s 5G giant fell flat in Southeast Asia (SCMP).

More News On U.S. Intelligence Saying That Huawei Is Funded By Chinese State Security

U.S. intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report -- Reuters
US intel accuses Huawei of being funded by Chinese state security: report -- The Hill
CIA warns Britain over China's secret funding of Huawei as tech giant bids to supply 5G mobile network across UK -- Daily Mail
Huawei ‘received funding from Chinese spy and security agencies,’ CIA warns UK intelligence chiefs -- The Independent
The CIA says that China’s security agencies provided funds for Huawei: report -- The Verge
CIA claims Huawei is funded by Chinese state security -- Endgadget
Where is Huawei banned from working on critical networks? -- The Guardian

Another Saturday, Another Day Of Protests In France

France 24: Fires, tear gas as French Yellow Vests stage first Saturday protest since Notre-Dame blaze

French Yellow Vest protesters set fires Saturday along a march through Paris to drive home their message to a government they believe is ignoring the poor: rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn't the only problem France needs to solve.

* The Paris police headquarters said authorities detained 227 people carried out more than 20,500 spot checks.

* Police fired tear gas and stun grenades amid tensions at a march of several thousand people from France's Finance Ministry toward the Place de la République plaza in eastern Paris.

* The violence contrasted sharply with the peaceful atmosphere at another march through Paris, where demonstrators mourned the Notre-Dame blaze while also keeping up the pressure on President Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to unveil new policies aimed at appeasing the Yellow Vests in a speech on Thursday.

Read more ....

More News On The Yellow Vests Protests In France

Yellow vest anger burns in France, fueled by Notre Dame fire -- AP
Yellow vest demonstrators, police clash in Paris -- Reuters
'Millions for Notre-Dame, what about for us?': Yellow Vest fury explodes in Paris as anti-Macron activists clash with police and start fires after nearly £1bn is pledged to rebuild world-famous cathedral in ruins -- Daily Mail
Yellow Vest Protesters Fueled By Anger Over Notre Dame Funds March In Paris -- NPR
Violence returns to Paris 'yellow vest' protest with 200 arrests, scorched cars and tear gas -- The Local
Gilets Jaunes: 137 arrested in Paris as protesters clash with police -- Euronews/Reuters
France's Yellow Vest protesters return to the streets enraged by billions pledged to rebuild Notre Dame -- FOX News
Yellow Vest protesters warned to keep clear of Notre Dame -- DW

Report: President Trump To Nominate Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan As Permanent Defense Secretary Next Week

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) listens next to Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan during a Cabinet meeting on day 12 of the partial U.S. government shutdown at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 2, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

FOX News: Trump to nominate Shanahan as permanent defense secretary: sources

President Trump is expected to formally nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be his permanent defense secretary as soon as next week, two administration officials tell Fox News. This, after an internal Pentagon investigation concluded that the acting defense secretary did not show any bias in favor of his former employer, aerospace giant Boeing.

Shanahan worked at Boeing for over 30 years before coming to the Pentagon as then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s deputy at the start of the Trump administration.

Shanahan’s nomination had been held up by the White House since the Pentagon inspector general opened an investigation into Shanahan’s conduct following a report in Politico days after taking over for Mattis alleging Shanahan called Boeing-rival Lockheed Martin’s advanced F-35 program “f—ed up” and said the company didn’t know how to run a defense program following years of cost overruns and delays to the fifth-generation fighter jet.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: He will be nominated after this report .... Pentagon inspector general report on Shanahan and Boeing expected next week (CNN).

Editor's Note

We are celebrating my mother's 93 birthday today. Blogging will return this evening.

Ukraine Presidential Contenders Hold A Stadium Debate

BBC: Ukraine presidential rivals trade barbs in stadium debate

Ukraine's rival presidential candidates have held a long-awaited head-to-head televised debate at Kiev's giant Olympic stadium.

Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky and incumbent president Petro Poroshenko shook hands before launching scathing attacks on one another.

Mr Zelensky is the clear favourite for Sunday's second-round vote, polls say.

But Mr Poroshenko argues that he is a political novice unfit for such a demanding job.

Mr Zelensky has relied on a slick social media campaign to tap into the frustration of many younger Ukrainians with establishment politicians, cronyism and corruption.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Candidate Volodymyr Zelensky handled himself better than I imagine. Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko was also OK. Will this debate change the outcome of Sundays election .... in my opinion no. Volodymyr Zelensky will win with a large margin and will be the next President of Ukraine. People want change, and they do not even care about issues like this one .... ‘He finds laughter in the tragedy’: Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky set to become first Jewish president of Ukraine (The Independent).

More News On Yesterday's Presidential Debate

Ukrainian presidential candidates trade insults in rowdy stadium debate -- Reuters
Rivals in Ukraine's presidential runoff debate at stadium -- FOX
Ukraine comedian vows to break old system in pre-vote debate -- AFP
Ukraine's presidential candidates debate ahead of elections -- DW
Ukraine's presidential rivals trade insults in raucous stadium debate -- The Guardian
Ukraine’s Presidential Contenders Clash In Raucous Stadium Debate -- RFE
'It Wasn’t A Debate': Six Takeaways From The Poroshenko-Zelenskiy Stadium Showdown -- RFE
Ukrainian Presidential Candidates Clash in Bad-Tempered Debate -- Bloomberg
Zelensky to Poroshenko: ‘I am not your opponent, I am your sentence’ -- TASS
About 22,000 attend Poroshenko-Zelenskiy debates at stadium -- Kyiv Post

Are U.S. Contractors Giving Away America’s Military Edge?

A squadron of F-35As flying over Hill Air Force Base in Utah. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

Bloomberg: Contractors Are Giving Away America’s Military Edge

The Pentagon needs to hold suppliers responsible for security lapses.

In a connected world, no government or company can perfectly protect all its data from hackers and rival states. Even so, it’s astonishing that, from January 2016 to February 2018, nearly 6 percent of U.S. military and aerospace contractors reported data breaches. And experts feel this is just the tip of the iceberg: The vast majority of security incidents are never uncovered. The Pentagon needs to tighten cybersecurity across its vast contracting operations and hold contractors responsible for breaches. If policy makers can contemplate jailing executives who lie about safeguarding personal data, then similarly harsh measures should be considered for those who put our national security at risk.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The above numbers are sobering.

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

A pair of servicemen and four schoolboys sit on bridge over the Thames, Henley-on-Thames, England, May 1944.

WNU Editor: The above picture is form this photo-gallery .... 27 Color Photos from World War II (Scoopy Web).

Hat tip to Fred for this link.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Will Venezuela Have The 'Largest March In History' On May 1?

General view of opposition supporters taking part in a rally to commemorate the Day of the Youth and to protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Adriana Loureiro

Reuters: Venezuela's Guaido calls for 'largest march in history' to oust Maduro

CARACAS, April 19 (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Friday called on supporters to take to the streets on May 1 for what he called "the largest march in the history" of the South American country to keep the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to leave power.

Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly who in January invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency on the basis that Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate, reiterated his call for the country's armed forces to take his side in the three-month power struggle.

"They will need to listen to the people saying: enough," Guaido told a crowd gathered at a plaza in eastern Caracas, setting the date for the march for May 1, International Workers' Day.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: May Day is celebrated around the world. I would not be surprised if this rally will be one Venezuela's biggest.

Phnom Penh Fell To The Khmer Rouge 44 Years Ago.

This photo was taken opposite the French Embassy after the shooting had stopped and is Neveu’s first image of the Khmer Rouge, unexpectedly smiling. Photo: Roland Neveu

Alan Parkhouse, Asia Times: The day the nightmare started

When the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, photographer Roland Neveu captured the start of what became a genocide.

Forty-four years ago – on April 17, 1975 – a nightmare started for Cambodia and its entire population. On that day, after a brief battle on the outskirts of the city, Khmer Rouge fighters marched into the capital Phnom Penh and took control of the country.

The radical communist movement led by Pol Pol controlled the Southeast Asian nation until 1979, but in that brief period, a quarter of the population perished, with estimates of the dead ranging between 1.7 million and 3 million.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: And the genocide began right-away.

Here Is One Way To Avoid Military Service

Takeout: South Korean man acquitted of gorging on delicious wings to avoid military service

In 2016, a 22-year old college student reported for a physical exam to determine his eligibility for mandatory military service in the South Korean armed forces. This week, the Incheon District Court ruled that he was not guilty of breaking conscription law, after prosecutors alleged he gorged himself on fried chicken and booze before showing up in order to avoid service.

Munchies directs us to this story from the Korea Herald, which says that at the time of the student’s test, he weighed 106 kilograms (approximately 234 lbs.) and was around 170 centimeters tall (5 ft., approximately 5 in.), for a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 36.8. Per the Herald, those with a BMI of 33 and above are eligible for exemption from full-time military service, and can instead take a public service job. If you’re a male between the ages of 18-28 in South Korea, you are required to enlist in military service. (Click here for an interesting Quartz piece about whether K-Pop stars—like BTS—should be required to serve.)

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Darn. I feel hungry.

Tonight's Movie Is 'The Crossing'

From Youtube: In 1776, less than six months after the Declaraton of Independence, the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, was on the brink of utter defeat. Low on men, cannons and supplies, Washington decides to risk everything on one last desperately daring attack on the town of Trenton where over 1000 of the feared Hessian mercenaries are garrisoned. However to do that, the army must cross the Delaware to a seemingly hopeless battle that would turn out to be more successful than Washington ever dreamed of.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 19, 2019

Lee Jeong-ho, SCMP: Was North Korea’s missile test a sign Pyongyang is getting impatient?

* Analysts say Kim Jong-un wanted to send a message to China and the US that it will not succumb to the pressure of economic sanctions
* Choice of weapon also suggests Pyongyang was keen not to cause too much upset ahead of important meetings next week in Beijing and Vladivostok

North Korea’s firing of a new “tactical guided weapon on Wednesday was intended as a warning to China and the United States that it is running out of patience with the UN sanctions imposed against it, analysts say.

According to a report published on Thursday by the Korean Central News Agency, the leader of the hermit state, Kim Jong-un, “supervised and guided the test firing of a new type of tactical guided weapon by the Academy of Defence Science”.

“The development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army,” he was quoted as saying.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 19, 2019

Kim Jong Un turning up heat in North Korea with new military posturing -- Eric Talmadge, USA Today/Associated Press

How Kim is killing off Trump's nuclear deal -- Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

The World China Wants -- Frederick Kempe, Atlantic Council

Ten years after China’s renminbi went global, what keeps it from really challenging the US dollar as a reserve currency? -- Kean Fan Lim, SCMP

IMF World Economic Outlook puts Ghana in the lead -- Silja Fröhlich, DW

How Egypt’s constitutional changes would put the military above the law -- Christian Achrainer, African Arguments

Libya’s Fragile Oil Renaissance Is Under Threat -- Nick Cunningham,

Why Turkey Won’t Align With Russia -- Xander Snyder, Geopolitical Futures

What a Volodymyr Zelensky Ukrainian Presidency Would Look Like -- Doug Bandow, National Interest

Is Zelensky a Ukrainian Trump? -- Andreas Umland, The Globalist

Has Slovakia’s political development reached the point of no return? -- Marian L. Tupy, CAPX

What Brexit Is Doing to Europe -- Judy Dempsey, Carnegie Europe

On the Fire at Notre Dame -- Ronald Tiersky, RCW

Trump’s Venezuela Policy: Slow Suffocation -- Uri Friedman and Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic

China’s 5G tech may do more than revolutionise communications – it may redraw global security alliances -- Emanuele Scimia, SCMP

Growing Calls To Impeach President Trump

FOX News: Mueller report ignites new Dem battle over impeachment

Just a month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unequivocally stated her opposition to impeachment proceedings against President Trump, the Robert Mueller report has reignited the debate inside her caucus.

“Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted, announcing she’ll sign onto Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s, D-Mich., resolution urging the House Judiciary Committee to probe whether Trump committed impeachment-level offenses.

Read more ....

More News On Growing Calls To Impeach President Trump

Democrats have an intra-party battle brewing over impeaching Trump after the Mueller report's release -- Business Insider
Trump seethes over Mueller report, Democrat demands impeachment -- AFP
Cummings on impeachment: 'We may very well come to that' -- The Hill
Elizabeth Warren calls on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump -- CBS
Pelosi says Congress will not be silent on Mueller and demand that Trump faces justice for obstruction of justice -- Daily Mail
Holder: Any 'competent' prosecutor could win obstruction case against Trump -- The Hill
The Mueller Report Is an Impeachment Referral -- Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic
Trump is a cancer on the presidency who put his own needs above a nation’s, he must be impeached -- George T Conway III, The Independent
Democrats have a Mueller dilemma: Hearings or impeachment? -- Matt Laslo, VICE News