Monday, May 27, 2019

Heavy Fighting Continues In The Libyan Capital

Reuters: Libya's Haftar rules out Tripoli ceasefire, dismisses U.N.-led talks: newspaper

PARIS (Reuters) - Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has ruled out a ceasefire in the battle for Tripoli and accused the United Nations of seeking to partition Libya, according to an interview published by French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) began an offensive in early April to take Tripoli from fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) which has the backing of the United Nations.

The LNA, which is allied to a parallel government in the east, has not been able to breach the southern defenses of Tripoli. The fighting has killed at least 510 people, forced 75,000 out of their homes and trapped thousands of migrants in detention centers.

Read more ....

More News On The Libyan Civil War

Heavy fighting in Libyan capital -- Reuters
Libya's Haftar vows to fight until Tripoli 'militias' defeated -- Al Jazeera
Libya's Haftar Says Offensive to Go On Until Militias Disbanded -- Bloomberg
Haftar-Led Libyan Army Advancing South, East of Tripoli – General Command -- Sputnik
Heavy Fighting Rips Through Tripoli As Libya's Gen. Haftar Renews Offensive -- Zero Hedge
Under-pressure Libyan prime minister coming to Malta for talks -- Times of Malta
“We’re Living in Horror:” Civilians Are Bearing the Brunt of Libya’s Civil War -- VICE

The When And Where 1.2 Million Americans Died Fighting Wars Since The American Revolution

ABC News: Memorial Day: When and Where 1.2M People Died Fighting for America

At least 1.2 million people have died fighting for America during its wars dating back 241 years, according to Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs data.

Most died in battle, while many others never landed abroad but are no less honored on this Memorial Day.

Here’s a by-the-numbers breakdown of when and where they died, as of May 27, starting with the American Revolution:

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A Soldier's Reflection For Memorial Day

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day. Wikipedia.

Viewpoint: A Soldier's Reflection For Memorial Day -- Time

It is the early days of January 2010, and the company forms to the front of the memorial display at the chapel of the forward operating base in Afghanistan. The backdrop for the small shrine: the crossed staffs of an American flag and the regimental colors. An M4 rifle stands upright, its bayonet lodged into a felt-covered wooden desk in front of the flags, the pistol grip facing the audience. The fallen soldier's helmet rests on the weapon's buttstock, shielding it as it once did his silhouette. Two dog tags dangle from the rifle's pistol grip, clamoring in the desert wind. Below, centered on the rifle's barrel and arrayed at the position of attention, are the soldier's desert tan boots — tied, laces tucked.

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My Three Pics For Memorial Day

The photo, taken by The New York Times’s Todd Heisler, while he was a staff photographer at The Rocky Mountain News in 2005. The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the coffin, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her. Associated Press/Rocky Mountain News, Todd Heisler

Memorial Day Video Tribune

Memorial Day -- The First Proclamation


General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of


Adjutant General


President Trump In Japan For a Four-Day State Visit

CNN: Sumo, golf and barbeque: Trump and Abe bond after a tweet underscored divides

A sunny round of golf, double hamburgers for lunch, ringside seats at a sumo wrestling "basho" and a barbeque dinner. Those were the components Sunday of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest bid to become President Donald Trump's best global friend.

Whether the hours of male bonding result in wins on trade and security remains to be seen. Before the day even began, there were signs the ardent effort at cultivating the US leader -- started even before he assumed office -- had not paid off in new agreement on North Korea.

Still, the lavish displays of camaraderie clearly suited Trump, who was pictured at the Mobara Country Club south of Tokyo smiling broadly in a selfie taken by Abe as they played 16 holes and sat together for both breakfast and lunch (double cheeseburgers made from American beef, according to Japan's foreign ministry).

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WNU Editor: Trade, North Korea, and China are on the agenda.

More News On President Trump's Visit To Japan

Japan rolls out red carpet for Trump amid trade war threat -- France 24
President Trump is joined by first lady Melania as he becomes the first foreign leader to meet Japan's Emperor Naruhito in a stunning ceremony at Tokyo's Imperial Palace -- Daily Mail
Trump sees 'great progress' in trade negotiations with Japan -- The Hill
In Japan, Trump pushes a hard line on trade — and a soft line on North Korea -- VOX
Trump celebrates 'progress' in trade negotiations during eventful Japan visit -- FOX News
Wagyu beef, vanilla ice cream, and potatoes: Here's what on the menu for Trump's dinner with the Japanese prime minister -- Business Insider

President Trump Downplays North Korea's Missile Test

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played a round of golf with US President Donald Trump

CNN: Trump plays down North Korea's missile test, putting him at odds with Abe

Tokyo (CNN): President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday he doesn't view North Korea's short range missile tests as disturbing, a view deeply at odds with his Japanese hosts and in conflict with statements made a day earlier by his national security adviser.

"North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me," Trump wrote on Twitter.

This is a major blow ahead of his meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which are set to begin in a few hours.

The Japanese government has said North Korea's recent test of short range missiles violated UN resolutions -- a determination that national security adviser John Bolton agreed with in Tokyo on Saturday during a briefing with reporters before Trump arrived in Japan.

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Update: Trump dismisses North Korean tests of 'some small weapons' (BBC).

WNU Editor
: President Trump may downplay North Korea's missile tests, but this problem cannot be downplayed .... NKorea says talks won’t resume unless US changes position (AP).

U.S. Authorizes Emergency Arms Sale To Mideast Allies

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Reuters)

The National: Iran threat forces White House to push through arms sales to Middle East, says Mike Pompeo

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that planned arms sales to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan that will bypass congressional approval are needed quickly as any delay could increase the risk for American partners at a time of instability caused by Iran.

Mr Pompeo’s statement came just hours after the Pentagon said it would send an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East to bolster defences against Iran as it accused country's Revolutionary Guard of direct responsibility for this month's tanker attacks off the coast of the UAE.

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Update #1: Exclusive — Pompeo: $8B Arms Sales to Middle East Allies ‘Appropriate and Necessary’ (Breitbart)
Update #2: Pompeo authorizes emergency arms sale to Mideast allies in challenge to Congress (Washington Examiner)

WNU Editor: Will Congress object? We shall see.

Iran Boasts That It Has 'Secret Weapons' To Destroy The U.S. Navy

U.S. officials said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps sent boats to approach the USS New Orleans and USS Stout as Gen. Votel rode aboard the New Orleans. PHOTO: US NAVY/REUTERS

Times of Israel: Iran general says it has ‘secret weapons’ to destroy American Naval forces

But second general says ‘rational American commanders’ will prevent war; FM Zarif calls Trump’s dispatch of 1,500 troops a threat to world stability.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday a US decision to deploy 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East was “a threat to global peace and stability.”

“Increased US presence in our region is very dangerous and a threat to global peace and stability and must be confronted,” Zarif told the official IRNA news agency before heading home from a visit to Pakistan.

Washington says the reinforcements, which come after the deployment earlier this month of an aircraft carrier task force, B-52 bombers, an amphibious assault ship and a missile defense system, are in response to a “campaign” of recent attacks approved by Iran’s top leadership.

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WNU Editor:  Iran is gong to need more than just "secret weapons" to destroy the U.S. Navy.

U.S. Secretary Of State Pompeo And Iranian Foriegn Minister Javad Zarif Have Never Spoken Directly To Each Other

The Hill: Pompeo has never directly spoken to Iranian counterpart: report

With the Trump administration set to deploy U.S. troops to the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Tehran, a new report reveals that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has never talked with his Iranian counterpart.

Pompeo has never directly spoken with Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, Reuters reported on Friday, citing Iran’s mission at the United Nations. The two men serve as their respective country's highest diplomat.

Zarif argued in an interview with Reuters that part of the reason the two men have never spoken is Pompeo's tendency to "insult" Zarif in public statements about Iran's government.

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WNU Editor: Having direct communications and/or back channel communications are essential to avoid this .... Why U.S.-Iran tensions could quickly escalate into a crisis (Phil Stewart, Michelle Nichols). But the U.S. has been trying for the past year, with the last one happening only two weeks ago .... Iran Rejects President Trump's Offer For Talks (May 10, 2019). What also does not help is rhetoric like this .... Iran’s youth ‘will witness the demise of America and Israel’, Ayatollah Khamenei vows as commander boasts Trump ‘wouldn’t dare’ attack (The SUN).

Iran Condemns U.S. Troop Deployment To The Middle East

NBC: U.S. troop boost in Middle East is 'highly dangerous,' says Iran Foreign Minister Zarif

The U.S. is sending 1,500 more troops to the region amid simmering tensions, President Donald Trump said Friday.

The U.S. decision to deploy more troops to the Middle East amid simmering tensions with Iran is "highly dangerous," the country's foreign minister warned Saturday.

President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. is sending 1,500 more troops to beef up American forces in the region.

“The U.S. move to increase its military presence in our region is highly dangerous and a threat against international peace and security,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state news agency IRNA.

The new deployment will consist of surveillance aircraft, a fighter jet squadron and engineers to fortify buildings and other facilities. The military is also extending the deployment of a 600-person Patriot missile battalion in the region, defense officials said.

All told, the military is sending fewer than 1,000 more troops to the region, officials said.

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Update #1: U.S. troop move to Middle East dangerous for international peace: Iran's Zarif (Reuters)
Update #2: Iran Slams U.S. After Middle East Troop Buildup Is Announced (The New York Times)

WNU Editor: An extra thousand soldiers to the Middle East will not pose a threat to Iran.

U.S. To Deploy 1,500 Soldiers To The Middle East

Stars and Stripes: Pentagon to deploy another 900 troops to Middle East, extend Patriot missile battalion amid tensions with Iran

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon will send another 900 troops to the Middle East in the coming weeks in a move meant to bolster security for U.S. troops in the region amid heightening tensions with Iran, the Defense Department announced Friday.

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan notified Congress on Friday that he had authorized a request from U.S. Central Command to send the additional forces – an Air Force fighter jet squadron, an engineering element and combination of manned and unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets – into the Middle East, he said in a statement. The Pentagon will also extend the deployment of some 600 soldiers from a Patriot missile battalion already serving in the region.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As deployments, 1,500 extra soldiers to the Middle East is just a drop in the bucket.

More News On The U.S Deploying 1,500 Soldiers To The Middle East

US moves to strengthen forces in Middle East to counter Iran -- AP
Pentagon to strengthen forces in Middle East to 'protect' US from Iran -- France 24
‘Patriots,’ fighter jets, spies & engineers: What US is sending to Mid East after hyping Iran threat -- RT
US says Gulf troop surge ‘defensive in nature’ -- Laura Rozen, Al- Monitor
Why Is Trump Sending More Troops and Firepower to the Middle East? That's Classified -- W.J. Hennigan, Time

Pentagon Claims Iran Revolutionary Guard Are Behind The Attacks Two Weeks Ago On Vessels Off UAE

Tanker A. Michel is seen off the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on Monday. The U.A.E says it was one of four shipping vessels targeted Sunday. (Satish Kumar/Reuters)

Reuters: Pentagon accuses Iran's Revolutionary Guards over tanker attacks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military on Friday accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, describing it as part of a “campaign” by Tehran driving new U.S. deployments.

“The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC,” said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe “the means of delivery” of the mines.

Read more ....

Update: Pentagon: Iran Revolutionary Guard behind attacks on vessels off UAE (Al Arabiya/AP)

WNU Editor:  Who else would be responsible?

CIA Director Gina Haspel Has Returned The Agency To Its 'Roots'

In January, CIA Director Gina Haspel and fellow spy chiefs testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that North Korea was unlikely to abandon its nuclear weapons and that Iran was complying with a 2015 nuclear accord—assessments that seemed to undercut President Trump’s policies. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Wall Street Journal: Under CIA Chief Gina Haspel, an Intelligence Service Returns to the Shadows

CIA director seeks the mute button—for herself and her agency.

WASHINGTON—At a gala dinner in February to raise funds for the families of Central Intelligence Agency officers killed in the line of duty, CIA Director Gina Haspel surprised her audience by delving into details of spycraft the agency has used to run agents on the streets of Moscow. But the crowd’s astonishment at the unusual revelation quickly evaporated when the spy chief confided that the material came from a journalist’s book.

After a year atop the CIA, Ms. Haspel is giving away few secrets. With a 35-year career in clandestine operations and a U.S. president who pounces when his spy chiefs contradict him publicly, she and her agency have adopted their lowest public profile in decades.

“She’s gone to ground,” said Mark Lowenthal, a former CIA official and staff director of the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s not going to be any good for her to be out there attracting lightning bolts.”

Interviews with nearly 20 current and former U.S. intelligence officials reveal a portrait of a CIA director who has been warmly received by the workforce she has spent her life among.

The CIA’s first female director since its 1947 founding, she has put in place her own leadership team—which also includes many women—and so far has avoided having President Trump’s political allies embedded in the agency’s senior ranks.

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WNU Editor: Best to work in the shadows.

Will The CIA Object To The Justice Department Declassifying Intellgience Concerning The Russian Investigation?

Attorney General William P. Barr has repeatedly described investigative efforts to understand the nature of links between Russia and the Trump campaign as “spying.” © Doug Mills/The New York Times

New York Times: Potential Clash Over Secrets Looms Between Justice Dept. and C.I.A.

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s order allowing Attorney General William P. Barr to declassify any intelligence that led to the Russia investigation sets up a potential confrontation with the C.I.A. It effectively strips the agency of its most critical power: choosing which secrets it shares and which ones remain hidden.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he wanted Mr. Barr to “get to the bottom” of what the intelligence agencies knew about the investigation into his campaign. He promised, “We’re exposing everything.”

The president raised questions about C.I.A. involvement in the origins of the Russia investigation, and other officials said Mr. Barr wanted to learn more about sources in Russia, including a key informant who helped the C.I.A. conclude that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered the intrusion on the 2016 election. Mr. Trump also invoked two close allies, Australia and Britain, telling reporters he wanted the attorney general to examine their roles in sharing intelligence about Russia’s interference.

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WNU Editor: Russia-Gate occupied the  U.S. media and political landscape for two years. If the CIA played a role in this entire affair, they should permit the Justice Department to declassify all relevant information. My prediction. If President Trump wants it declassified, they will.

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

A Sukhoi Su-30 supermanoeuverable fighter aircraft from the Russian Knights aerobatic team performs a demonstration flight during the "Open House" day at the Taganrog Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex named after G.M. Beriev. © Sputnik / Sergey Pivovarov

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... This Week in Pictures: 18 May - 24 May (Sputnik).