Saturday, March 25, 2017

Editor's Note

I have been doing a reno project on my Montreal home and my Gf's home on the weekends. I should be finished in a few weeks. Unfortunately .... posting is going to sparse for the next few Saturdays and Sundays. As for today .... blogging will return late tonight.

On a side note .... WNU's traffic has doubled in the past few months. This is quite a shock for me .... to know that on any given day there are 10,000 to 15,000 unique visitors (or more) coming to this site. When I first started this blog ..... my priority was to have a simple site that chronicled what I found interesting .... and to work on my written English skills. And if there was a visitor .... wow .... I was impressed. And if there was a comment left behind .... shocked.

Yup .... 80,000 posts later. 100,000 comments later. The times have changed.

So ..... I just want to say thank you to everyone. Supporters, critics .... you have all been (and will always be) invaluable to me. So thank you for your support. Your feedback. And most of all .... your interest.

Now back to my reno project. :)

EU Leaders Stress Unity On The 60th Anniversary Of The Signing Of The Treaty of Rome

European Union leaders, including Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, posed for a photo on Saturday in Rome during a meeting on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Credit Tony Gentile/Reuters

New York Times: E.U. Leaders Sign Rome Declaration and Proclaim a ‘Common Future’ (Minus Britain)

ROME — Proclaiming “Europe is our common future,” 27 leaders of the European Union on Saturday signed a statement in Rome declaring their commitment to integrating the Continent even as a series of crises has badly weakened the efforts and Britain prepares to leave the bloc.

The statement, known as the Rome Declaration and signed on the anniversary of the day the union’s foundations were laid 60 years ago, underscored the aspirations of a “unique union with common institutions and strong values, a community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

In a nod to reality, however, the leaders acknowledged that they were “facing unprecedented challenges, both global and domestic” including “regional conflicts, terrorism, growing migratory pressures, protectionism and social and economic inequalities.”

The ceremony took place in a hall here in Rome that was richly decorated in frescoes depicting scenes from the ancient world. It is the same room where the Treaty of Rome was signed on March 25, 1957, by six countries. That event helped lay the groundwork for today’s union.

Read more ....

Update #1: EU leaders renew fraying Union's vows on 60th anniversary (Reuters)
Update #2: EU Leaders Pledge Unity Just Days Away From U.K. Exit Trigger (Bloomberg)

WNU Editor: These EU leaders can proclaim all that they want .... but the EU union is the weakest that I have seen since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

U.S. Senator John McCain: I’ve Yet to Meet President Trump

© AARON BERNSTEIN / REUTERS

Daily Beast: McCain: I’ve Yet to Meet President Trump Since He Took Office

BRUSSELS—Republican Senator John McCain revealed he hasn’t met the President Donald Trump in person since he took office, and he urged Trump to reach out to his opponents—Democratic and otherwise—ala Ronald Reagan if he wants to repeal Obamacare.

“Do some outreach. Get to know some of these Democratic leaders,” he said. “You can find common ground.” McCain said he’d met Trump “some years ago” when he was a businessman, but had not met him since. McCain said he did speak “almost daily” to National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however.

“He doesn’t seem to be that upset that he’s not talking to him,” said German Marshall Fund’s Derek Chollet, a former Obama Pentagon official. “He’s trying to run U.S. defense policy through Mattis and effectively ignore Trump.”

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more ....

Update: McCain: World 'cries out' for US and EU leadership (EU Observer)

WNU Editor: That relationship (Trump - McCain) .... as insignificant as it was .... got burned during the Republican primaries. And while I am sure that they will meet one day, it will be because it will be in their mutual interest to do so.

The Media Goes After Ivanka Trump And Her Husband Jared Kushner





Washington Post: Ivanka Trump’s Secret Service detail roiling her D.C. neighbors

Ivanka Trump’s neighbors delivered a handwritten note welcoming her to their gilded Northwest Washington Zip code after she and her husband, Jared Kushner, moved from New York with their three young children.

When the president’s daughter did not respond, Rhona Friedman, a lawyer who lives next door, understood.

Ivanka was busy settling in, she figured.

But Friedman and other neighbors were far less patient when two “No Parking” signs appeared outside the Trump-Kushner house and Secret Service SUVs began swallowing spots on Tracy Place NW, their block in the Kalorama neighborhood.

Their exasperation peaked Monday when city workers installed two additional “No Parking” signs — not in front of Trump’s house, but outside Friedman’s residence next door.

“I started screaming,” Friedman said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Welcome to Washington and a media press corps that has no love for the Trumps. And here is an easy prediction .... it is going to get worse.

More News On Ivanka Trump And Her Husband Jared Kushner

Security, parking, garbage irk Ivanka Trump’s DC neighbors -- AP
Ivanka at the White House: Ivanka Trump has been granted a security clearance -- Salon
Government watchdogs: Give Ivanka Trump official title -- The Hill
Is Ivanka Trump's new White House job a cause for concern? -- Mic.com
President Trump 'is furious that senior adviser Jared Kushner and Ivanka chose to go on a luxury ski vacation trip in Aspen while the GOP health care bill imploded' -- Daily Mail
Trump angry Kushner, Ivanka went skiing during health debate: report -- The Hill
Trump unhappy Jared Kushner took a powder on the ski slopes as health care bill floundered -- CNN
Trump 'upset' with son-in-law Jared Kushner for 'vacationing' while health care bill struggled -- Business Standard/ANI

Tweet For Today

Picture Of The Day

Tourists take pictures as cherry blossoms bloom in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China. March 21. © REUTERS/ STRINGER

WNU Editor: That is what I miss about Asia. When the cherry blossoms bloom it is just beautiful sight to see. My next door neighbour has a cherry blossom tree, and when it blooms it is unbelievable .... but it only (sadly) lasts for a few days.

A Soldier Talks About His Experiences With His K-9 Dogs

Robert Vrabel

Robert Vrabel, Popular Mechanics: The K9 Units Who Saved My Life, and Yours

On bases at home and overseas, K-9 units help to keep civilians and military personnel safe. An ex-Army cop recounts five loyal partners with whom he served.

NERO

Dutch shepherd. Sweet dog. He was seven years and twelve handlers into the job, a lifetime in the K-9 patrol business. Me, I was two fresh weeks out of the schoolhouse, the Military Working Dog Handler Course. I chose him from the lot at Fort Bragg Kennels—three unassigned patrol dogs, the other two younger and probably faster and stronger. But I picked Nero. I just liked him. His eyes sparkled.

Patrol dogs are trained to search for people attempting to elude the military police, whom they will then attack. Nero's record showed he'd had two justified bites in his career. That was good. Not all dogs can step up. Some become so accustomed to the practice stuff—the burlap sleeve, the bite suit—that when it comes time to bite flesh, they become confused. But Nero was sharp. Within two months, we passed the Army certification test as a team and were patrolling the streets of Fort Bragg the next night: 163,000 acres, 41,000 active-duty soldiers, and tens of thousands of civilian employees, contractors, and family members. Me and Nero. Lots of long nights, most of them quiet. You get a feel for a dog walking him like that, with a shared purpose.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: How can you not love a dog that looks like that (above photo).

Friday, March 24, 2017

Report: One In Five Arab Mediterranean Youths Want To Emigrate

A Moroccan homeless youth sleeps in the street in the northeastern coastal city of Tangier

AFP: One in five Arab Mediterranean youths hopes to emigrate: study

One in five youths in several North African countries and Lebanon would like to emigrate in search of better prospects, including those with university degrees, according to a survey conducted for the European Commission.

The survey of 10,000 people in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia found a deep sense of "frustration and social exclusion", according to Elena Sanchez-Montijano at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), who coordinated the study.

In Tunisia, 53 percent of youths said they wanted to emigrate, according to the report released on Thursday, six years after the "Arab Spring" revolts that swept the region starting in Tunisia in late 2010.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The feedback that I have been receiving from my friends in Africa is that if given a chance .... those who are young and are not tied down by family would be emigrating to Europe and North America ASAP. This 1 out of 5 who want to emigrate is a very low number.

In A First, The Next Secret Service Director Will Be From The U.S. Military

Washington Examiner: Exclusive: Secret Service braces for 'outsider' director from the military

The Secret Service is bracing for the impending appointment of a new director with a senior military rank, the first time an agency chief would come from outside the service in modern history.

Agents and officers are expecting Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired Marine general and former head of U.S. Central Command, to tap another general to head the Secret Service and help reform the agency and impose more rigorous and even-handed discipline, according to two knowledgeable sources.

President Trump's appointment of a general to the top Secret Service post, at the behest of Kelly, is expected to take place soon – with employees anticipating an announcement some time in the next week. Former Director Joseph Clancy retired from the agency for a second time March 3, and acting director William Callahan has taken on the top leadership role over the last three weeks in his absence.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The new Secret Service Director is going to be faced with a lot of issues .... from handling discipline issues .... Suspended Secret Service Agent Who Said She Wouldn't Take A Bullet For Trump Removed From Top Post (Townhall), to his Department's budget .... Secret Service requested $60M budget increase to protect Trump, family: report (The Hill).

Watergate Reporter Bob Woodward: Obama Administration Officials Could Face Criminal Charges Over 'Unmasking' Trump's Team



Epoch Times: Obama Administration Officials Could Face Criminal Charges: Bob Woodward

Longtime Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward said officials who served under the Obama administration could be facing criminal charges for illegally revealing the names of people working on President Donald Trump’s transition team.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes said on Wednesday that he received new information unrelated to alleged Russian interference, suggesting team members or even Trump himself may have had their identities “unmasked” after communications were intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies during surveillance of foreign individuals.

Woodward, in an interview with Fox News, said if the allegation is true, “it is a gross violation.”

Read more ....

Update #1: Bob Woodward: Obama officials possibly facing criminal charges for unmasking scheme (Washington Examiner)
Update #2: Bob Woodward: If Obama "Unmasked" Trump Team's Names It Would Be A "Gross Violation" -- RCP

WNU Editor: We are a long way from what Bob Woodward is talking about .... and I doubt that it will eventually come to that (i.e. Obama officials facing criminal charges). But as I have said more than once in this blog on this story .... the 800lb gorilla in the room has always been the same .... who gave the press all of these leaks after the U.S. election .... leaks that are illegal, and leaks that could have only come from "intercepted" communications and surveillance. Find that answer with solid proof .... and you may have a story that will rival Watergate.

Update: From someone who served in the Nixon White House and was there during Watergate, he is starting to connect the dots .... The Obama Plot to Sabotage Trump (Pat Buchanan, Towhall)

Tonight's Movie Is 'War Devils'


From Wikipedia: During the campaigns in Africa in World War II, a Nazi officer and his American counterpart find they must help each other in order to make it across the desert to safety. After completing their trip, the German officer releases his American prisoner but pledges to kill him if they ever meet again. One year later, the two officers find themselves facing each other again but this time in occupied France.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 24, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Andrew Davies & Mark Thomson, The Strategist: What Trump Understands

It’s tempting to dismiss Trump’s election as a bizarre aberration of the digital age—a triumph of celebrity over reason. But it’s also clear that Trump succeeded because he appealed to voters on issues long ignored by the mainstream.

The dominant factor underlying Trump’s win is that the US economy is oversupplied with unskilled and semi-skilled labour. Too simplistic? Perhaps. But the core tenets of Trump’s economic agenda—infrastructure spending, trade protection, resurrection of labour-intensive manufacturing, immigration cuts and business tax relief—are all focused on closing the gap between the supply and demand for labour.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 24, 2017

The scourge of terrorism must be tackled at its roots
-- South China Morning Post

London attack: Terrorism expert explains three threats of jihadism in the West -- Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, AP

There's something missing from our counter-terrorism debate -- Stephen Bush, New Statesman

Arab Spring: Where are the leaders now? -- AFP

Why Erdogan Seeks to Provoke European Leaders -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

The Russia-Israel Relationship Is Perfect Realpolitik -- Nikolay Pakhomov, National Interest

Has Moscow Found Its New Gadhafi in Libya? -- Dmitriy Frolovskiy, RCW

Russia May Have Taken Advantage of Attention on London to Ignite Violence in Ukraine -- Nolan Peterson, Daily Signal

Estonia's lessons for fighting Russian disinformation -- Aliya Sternstein, CSM

How le Pen might win a runoff against macron -- Kevin Lees, Suffragio

German Nukes: The Phantom Menace -- Hans Rühle & Michael Rühle, RCD

The biggest risk to the Fed and European Central Bank -- Paul Wallace, Reuters

A Closer Europe Is a Better Europe -- Stijn Hoorens, US News and World Report

As the European Union turns 60, it starts to feel its age -- Kim Hjelmgaard , USA TODAY

Europe at 60: Can Europe be saved? -- The Economist

World News Briefs -- March 24, 2017 (Evening Edition)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives for the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Reuters: Tillerson to meet NATO on March 31, ending no-show furor

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet NATO foreign ministers at a rescheduled gathering on March 31, a senior State Department official said on Friday, ending a furor over his earlier decision to skip the event.

Reuters exclusively reported on Monday that Tillerson had decided not to attend his first meeting with the ministers, originally scheduled for April 5-6 - raising fears about the new U.S. administration's commitment to the military alliance.

But the State Department official said the meeting in Brussels had been brought forward and would now go ahead. There was no official statement from NATO.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria army retakes Damascus areas from rebels: state news.

US-led coalition vows to crush 'Islamic State'.

US: Syrian fighters facing little resistance at Tabqa dam. Syrian militia reaches Tabqa dam: SDF official.

Final push on Syria's Raqa to begin in days: France.

Iraqi forces to deploy new tactics in Mosul, civilians flee city.

Escaping IS-held Mosul, residents head into unknown.

Iraq's Sadr threatens boycott if election law unchanged.

27 killed in south Yemen clashes.

Third of Yemen provinces on brink of famine: UN.

Israel, US conclude talks without settlement agreement.

UN: Israel didn't comply with UN call to stop settlements.

ASIA

U.S. general: Russia possibly supporting Taliban in Afghanistan.

‘Complete fabrication’ – Russian FM on US allegations Moscow aids Taliban in Afghanistan. Russia denies supplying Taliban after NATO claim.

Reports of Sangin’s fall are 'complete fabrication,' U.S. military insists.

U.S. turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference.

Taliban denies talks with Pakistan on Afghan peace prospects.

Report: North Korea preparing for another nuclear test.

UN condemns North Korea tests which contribute to nukes.

North Korea security agents are being purged, report says.

China dismisses 'militarisation' of disputed islands in South China Sea.

UN will investigate allegations of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Myanmar.

AFRICA

Burkina links Ivory Coast jihadist with hotel attack in capital.

One in five Arab Mediterranean youths hopes to emigrate: study.

Islamic State routed in Somalia's Puntland, President says.

U.S. warns South Sudan government against 'deliberate starvation tactics'.

250 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean off Libyan coast.

Somali pirates take over Somali vessel to use as floating base: police.

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak freed after six years in detention. Hosni Mubarak: Egypt's toppled dictator freed after six years in custody.

ICC awards 'symbolic' $250 each to Congo war crimes victims.

Tanzania's president warns journalists that press freedom has limits.

EUROPE

Tillerson to meet allies as NATO races to save talks.

EU leaders converge on Rome to rekindle sense of unity.

UK police arrest 10 in London attack probe, search 21 sites.

London attack: Police make two more 'significant' arrests in terror investigation.

Middle-aged London attacker was criminal who wasn't seen as threat.

Russia says six of its soldiers killed in Chechnya base attack.

In eastern Ukraine, troops tiptoeing up to front line risk heavy battles.

Murdered ex-lawmaker knew 'misdeeds of Russian elites,' Kremlin critic says.

France's Le Pen meets Putin in Moscow.

20,000 evacuated after fire at Ukrainian military arsenal.

AMERICAS

Trump, GOP leaders pull health care bill in humiliating loss.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on failure of GOP health bill: 'Today is a victory for the American people'.

President Trump says health care bill fell short in lead-up to House vote because of no support from Democrats. President Trump says he would be 'open' to tackling health care again if 'Obamacare' law implodes.

Speaker Paul Ryan says the nation will be 'living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future'.

Partisan split at House intel committee over canceled open hearing.

Manafort volunteered to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee in its Russia probe. Trump aide with Russia ties offers to talk to House panel.

US Senators introduce new Iran sanctions.

Venezuela president asks United Nations for 'help' boosting medicine supplies in shortage-plagued South American nation.

Nations urge Venezuela on elections, warn of diplomatic 'last resort'.

Lima struggles with flooding aftermath.

Toronto school board bars US trips amid travel ban uncertainty.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Terror charges for suspect in murky Antwerp car incident.

Terrorist threat higher in Europe than anywhere else except war zones – EUCOM chief.

FBI's Comey warns of 'terrorist diaspora' from ISIS territory.

London attacker Khalid Masood was investigated by MI5 over extremism concerns.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street dips in dramatic session as health bill pulled.

U.S. sanctions 30 firms, individuals for aiding Iran, North Korea arms programs.

Saudi Arabia faces $6 billion U.S. lawsuit by Sept. 11 insurers.

Trump greenlights Keystone XL pipeline, but other obstacles loom.

FBI Director Comey Visits The White House


The Hill: FBI Director Comey visits White House

FBI Director James Comey was at the White House on Friday, days after he confirmed his bureau is investigating ties between associates of President Trump and Russia.

The White House said Comey visited to attend a “routine interagency meeting,” but did not say with whom he met.

No meeting with Comey was listed on the president's public schedule. Comey was spotted leaving the White House less than an hour later after television cameras showed him entering the West Wing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The FBI Director is going to be busy next week .... Nunes Calls Comey, Rogers For "Closed Session" After Finding "Concerning Info" In Intel Reports (Zero Hedge).

Update: Not everyone is happy .... House intelligence panel leaders split over session on Russia (Reuters).

U.S. Officials Are Denying Reports that The Afghan District Of Sangin Has Fallen


Military Times: Reports of Sangin’s fall are 'complete fabrication,' U.S. military insists

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials are disputing reports the Taliban have retaken a hotly contested region in the opium-rich Helmand valley, saying local security forces made a planned, deliberate withdrawal from the Sangin district center after months of heavy fighting left their facilities in ruins.

"It is a complete fabrication," Navy Capt. William Salvin, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Kabul, told Military Times on Thursday. "This move has been in the planning for months. ... There is nothing left in the old district center except dirt and rubble."

The Taliban, he added, caused extensive damage to the local bazaar in Sangin, rendering it impossible for citizens to access government officials and services. A new municipal complex has been established about a mile to the south. From there, "the Afghan police can now do their jobs effectively," Salvin said, and the Afghan army elements posted to Sangin are "better positioned to take the fight to the Taliban."

An Afghan defense official echoed those sentiments.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Long War Journal/Threat Matrix completely rips apart these U.S./NATO/Afghan claims .... Resolute Support spins loss of Sangin district center as a victory (Threat Matrix). And yes .... the top U.S. General in Afghanistan is blaming the Russians for why the Taliban are winning .... NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Suspects That Russia Is Supplying The Taliban (March 24, 2017).

U.S. Navy Commanders: US Warships Are Being 'Harassed' By Iranian Forces In The Strait of Hormuz

The USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier transits the Strait of Hormuz on March 21, 2017. Laura Mackenzie / The National

Business Insider/Reuters: U.S. Navy Commanders Say Iranian Navy Endangering Freedom of Navigation in Gulf

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, March 22 (Reuters) – U.S. Navy commanders accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by “harassing” warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and said future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash.

They spoke after the U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted what one of the commanding officers described as two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that had approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait on Tuesday on a journey from the Indian Ocean into the Gulf.

It was the first time a U.S. carrier entered the narrow waterway, where up to 30 percent of global oil exports pass annually, since President Donald Trump took office in January pledging a tougher U.S. stance towards Iran.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Navy Commanders Warning That  US Warships Are Being 'Harassed' By Iranian Forces In The Strait of Hormuz

Iran ‘harassed’ US aircraft carrier in Strait of Hormuz -- The National
Iranian boats pointing weapons at US Navy ships, admiral says -- Washington Examiner
Iran TARGETS weapons at US warships that scramble deadly helicopters in FIERCE stand-off -- Express
US warships ‘harassed’ by Iranian forces in Strait of Hormuz – navy commanders -- RT

U.S. Pilot Explains How Coalition Forces Are Conducting Air Strikes Against ISIS Targets In Syria And Iraq

Reuters

Navy Times/AP: U.S. pilot describes challenges of bombing ISIS

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH — The crowded skies over Islamic State-held territory have complicated U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the extremists, though military planners are working to keep fliers safe, an American pilot involved in the bombing campaign has told The Associated Press.

Lt. Cmdr. William Vuillet also described the efforts American forces use to try to minimize civilian casualties from strikes on major cities like Mosul, where allied forces are trying to sweep the remaining militants out of the western half of Iraq's second-largest city.

Vuillet said he believes coalition forces will "eradicate" the extremist group responsible for mass killings, beheadings and other atrocities targeting civilians across the Middle East and around the world.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Good luck in trying to bomb places like the "old section of Mosul" where in a small area there are reports of almost 400,000 civilians trapped.

U.S. General Overseeing The Air Campaign over Mosul Pushes Back Against Claims Of Indiscriminate Bombing

An Iraqi Air Force helicopter fires missiles against Islamic State militants, during a battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants, in Mosul, Iraq March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

US News and World Report: U.S. General Pushes Back Against Claims of Indiscriminate Bombing in Mosul

Following claims of hundreds of civilian deaths in Mosul, Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler says the ‘risk calculus’ has not changed.

A top general overseeing the U.S.-led coalition's air campaign against the Islamic State group pushed back Thursday against claims warplanes under his command are being less discriminate in preventing civilian deaths, following reports earlier in the day that airstrikes in Mosul killed more than 200 civilians and that civilian casualties have risen under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler may be "pushing back" against claims of large number of civilian casualties in the battle for Mosul, but the Air Force is pursuing an investigation .... Pentagon investigating report that US-led airstrike killed more than 100 civilians in Iraq (FOX News). More here .... US Probes Civilian Deaths in Mosul Amid ‘Unprecedented Levels’ of Fighting (Sputnik).