Sunday, September 22, 2019

Iran's Foreign Minister Is Not Confident That War Can Be Avoided

The Hill: Iranian official: 'I'm not confident that we can avoid a war'

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that he's "not confident that we can avoid a war" but stressed that Iran will not start one amid escalating tensions with the U.S. in recent days.

"I'm not confident that we can avoid a war. I'm confident that we will not start one," Zarif said in an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" set to air Sunday.

"I'm confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it," he added.

Asked what he meant, Zarif said "That means that there won't be a limited war."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: More threats from Iran.

Mexico Facing A New Record For Homicides And A Sluggish Economy

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president, speaks during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City. Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg: Mexico’s Record-Setting Homicides, Slugglish Economy Test AMLO

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s homicides in August show the nation remains on pace to break last year’s record, while a national poll showed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s approval falling as the economy teeters on the brink of a technical recession.

Murders rose 3.3% in the first eight months of the year to 23,063 from 22,316 last year, according to government data released Friday. The August toll rose to 2,966 from 2,954 in the same month a year ago. The uptick is unsettling investors already uncertain about an economy now estimated by the central bank to grow 0.2%-0.7% this year, down from 0.8%-1.8% previously.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is fast approaching his first anniversary as President of Mexico, and he is not succeeding on the two issues that he vowed he was going to solve .... lowering Mexico's homicide/crime rate, and improving the economy. I give him two more years to produce positive results, or he will be facing some serious backlash.

Protests Against President Al-Sisi Continue For A Second Day In Egypt

BBC: Egypt: Protests and clashes enter second day

Egypt has seen a second night of clashes and dozens of arrests in rare demonstrations against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

About 200 demonstrators took to the streets in the port city of Suez demanding his resignation.

Dozens were reportedly arrested and police responded with tear gas.

The protests - which also took place in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday - are in response to corruption allegations against President Sisi's government.

Read more ....

More News On The Growing Unrest In Egypt

Riot police tear gas protesters in Egypt as they take to the streets to demand resignation of President Al-Sisi -- Daily Mail
Demonstrators clash with Egyptian police in second day of anti-Sisi protests -- France 24
Hundreds of Egyptians arrested in latest wave of protests against Sisi -- The Guardian
Riot police crack down on spontaneous demonstrations against President Sisi in cities across Egypt -- The Independent
Clashes in Egypt's Suez on second day of protests against el-Sisi -- Al Jazeera
Following protests, Egypt warns media it's monitoring press coverage -- CBC/AP

Seventy Thousand Indian Americans Attend Trump-Modi Rally In Houston

Reuters: 'Howdy, Modi!' - Thousands, plus Trump, rally in Texas for India's leader

HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a stage and showered each other with praise on Sunday at a “Howdy, Modi!” rally attended by upward of 50,000 people, a rare mass showing for a foreign leader on American soil.

Trump, calling the gathering a “profoundly historic event,” was greeted with a standing ovation by the Indian-American crowd and his speech was interrupted several times by roars of approval.

The U.S. leader hailed the India-U.S. relationship and the Indian-American community as he reached out to an ethnic group that voted overwhelmingly against him in 2016.

“You uphold our values, you uplift our communities and you are truly proud to be American and we are truly proud to have you as Americans,” Trump the crowd.

Read more ....

Update #1: 'Howdy Modi': thousands of Indian Americans attend Trump rally (The Guardian/AP)
Update #2: "Howdy Modi" Event In Houston: Trump And Indian PM Modi Celebrate U.S.-India Alliance (RCP)
Update #3: At a rally like no other, Trump woos Indian American voters ahead of 2020 (Politico)

WNU Editor: These images are not going to be shown on the main stream media tonight (see below)

Update #4: I think the estimate of 50,000 is wrong. The stadium's seating capacity is 72,000 (see here), and it does not include the grounds. From what I am seeing, that placed is completely packed, grounds included. There are 70,000 people there if not more.

Update #5: It should put an end to the narrative, but it will not.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi And Other Democrats Hint On Impeaching President Trump

Rolling Stone: Pelosi Hints at Impeachment in Letter on Ukraine Whistleblower

“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress… they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,” the speaker wrote

In a rare Dear Colleague letter sent to Democrats and Republicans on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that if the Trump administration refused to turn over a whistleblower report, it “will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,” leading many to believe she is hinting at possible impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,” Pelosi wrote, referring to the administration blocking acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from disclosing the contents of a whistleblower report alleging Trump asked the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on business dealings by Hunter Biden, son of former vice president Joe Biden, in the country.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If this "whistle-blower" becomes the reason why congressional Democrats push for impeachment, they will pay for it when voters go to the polls.

More News On Democrats Hinting At Impeaching President Trump

Pelosi hints at impeachment over Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint -- Axios
Pelosi Warns of ‘New Stage’ of Inquiry if Trump Blocks Whistle-Blower Complaint -- The New York Times
U.S. Democrat Schiff says Trump's Ukraine call could justify impeachment -- Reuters
Schiff on Whistleblower Allegation: Impeachment "May Be The Only Remedy" Equal To "Evil" Of Trump -- RCP

Ukraine Foreign Minister Denies Media Reports That President Trump Pressured Ukraine President Zelenskiy

Euronews: Ukraine minister denies Trump put pressure on Zelenskiy during call: report

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko on Saturday denied suggestions U.S. President Donald Trump had put pressure on Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a phone call in July.

In an interview with media outlet Hromadske, Prystaiko said Ukraine was an independent state and would not take sides in U.S. politics even if “in theory” the country was in a position to do so. He added that Kiev appreciated the assistance it received from Washington.

On Friday reports by U.S. media outlets said Trump repeatedly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden, one of Trump’s chief political rivals, in a July phone call.

Read more ....

Update #1: Ukraine foreign minister defends Trump's call with Zelenskiy: 'I think there was no pressure' (FOX News)
Update #2: Ukraine minister denies Trump put pressure on Zelenskiy during call: report (Reuters)

WNU Editor: I met Ukrainian Foreign Minster Vadym Prystaiko when he was the Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada twice around 2013 (one was in a social environment, and the second one was to help a Canadian friend of mine who wanted to invest in Ukraine). The Ambassador struck me as a typical diplomat but one who was sincere and honest on what could and could not be done. If he says President Trump did not pressure Ukrainian President Zelenskiy, I believe him. But the U.S. press (of course) has a different take on this story .... Ukraine and Whistle-Blower Issues Emerge as Major Flashpoints in Presidential Race (New York Times). More here .... Trump urged Ukraine president eight times during call to investigate Joe Biden's son, report says (CNBC). There are even Democrat calls for impeachment .... U.S. Democrat Schiff says Trump's Ukraine call could justify impeachment (Reuters). And all of this because a whistle-blower heard from someone else on what may have been discussed !!!! .... Whistleblower 'didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications' between Trump and Ukraine (Washington Examiner).

As for the Biden family's history in Ukraine, it has been chronicled by this blog for years .... With Fighting Continuing In The Region, Ukraine Is Still Proceeding To Develop It's Shale Gas Deposits (July 26, 2014). Everyone in Ukraine knew that Hunter Biden was made a director of this Ukrainian company (at $50,000/month) as a favour to his dad. It is how business is done in Ukraine. As for the need to launch a probe on the Biden family's business in Ukraine. This is actually old news but one that I strongly believe should be done in both Ukraine and in the U.S. .... A Probe Into Former U.S. Vice President Biden's Family Business Deals In Ukraine May Be Opened (April 2, 2019).

Videos Emerge Of Hundreds Of Blindfolded And Shackled Uighur Muslim Prisoners In China

FOX News: Hundreds of shackled, blindfolded prisoners in China purportedly seen in online videos: report

Videos purportedly showing hundreds of prisoners in China with their heads shaved, their hands bound behind their back and blindfolds over their faces that were posted online earlier this week appears to be authentic.

The videos, posted anonymously on Twitter and YouTube Tuesday, appears to show hundreds of prisoners believed to be from China’s minority Uighur Muslims, Sky News reported.

The footage shows the men sitting in lines on the floor or being moved by guards at a station in the city of Korla in Xinjian, northwest China.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are more videos in the above FOX News report. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

More News On The Emergence Of Videos Showing Hundreds Of Blindfolded And Shackled Uighur Muslim Prisoners In China

Video showing hundreds of shackled, blindfolded prisoners in China is 'genuine' -- SKY News
Video showing hundreds of shackled, blindfolded prisoners in China is 'genuine' -- SKY News
Chilling video shows Chinese police transferring hundreds of blindfolded, shackled prisoners --

Beijing's Crackdown On Islam Is Spreading Across China

Chinese officials have cracked down on Arabic-style domes and minarets of the kind seen on this mosque in Lanzhou, a city in Gansu Province. Photo: The New York Times

Indian Express/NYTimes: A crackdown on Islam is spreading across China

In China s northwest, the government is stripping the most overt expressions of the Islamic faith from a picturesque valley where most residents are devout Muslims. Authorities have destroyed domes and minarets on mosques, including one in a small village near Linxia, a city known as Little Mecca.

Similar demolitions have been carried out in Inner Mongolia, Henan and Ningxia, the homeland of China s largest Muslim ethnic minority, the Hui. In the southern province of Yunnan, three mosques were closed. From Beijing to Ningxia, officials have banned the public use of Arabic script.

This campaign represents the newest front in the Chinese Communist Party s sweeping rollback of individual religious freedoms, after decades of relative openness that allowed more moderate forms of Islam to blossom. The harsh crackdown on Muslims that began with the Uighurs in Xinjiang is spreading to more regions and more groups.

Update #1: Mosque demolitions across China raise fears over escalating persecution of Uighur Muslims (The Independent)
Update #2: ‘Boiling us like frogs’: China’s clampdown on Muslims creeps into the heartland, finds new targets (The Washington Post)

WNU Editor: The Chinese may destroy the places where people go to worship, but the worshippers will only go underground.

Google Is Claiming A Major Breakthrough In Quantum Computing. Implications On National Defense Will Be Enormous

Fortune: Google Claims ‘Quantum Supremacy,’ Marking a Major Milestone in Computing

In what may be a huge milestone in computing, Google says it has achieved "quantum supremacy," an experimental demonstration of the superiority of a quantum computer over a traditional one.

The claim, made in a new scientific paper, is the most serious indication yet that the promise of quantum computers—an emerging but unproven type of machine—is becoming reality, including their potential to solve formerly ungraspable mathematical problems.

Essentially, Google purports to have pulled off a stunt on a quantum computer that no classical machine—not even the world's most powerful supercomputer—can replicate.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is why advancements in quantum computers are important for the defense establishment ....

Quantum computing in a Defence context (Australian Defence)
The US and China are in a quantum arms race that will transform warfare (MIT Technology Review)

Saudi Arabia Wants The U.S. And Other Allies To Launch A Retaliatory Military Strike Against Iran After Last Week's Oil Attack

Reuters: Saudi Arabia seeks action against Iran after oil attack, allies wary

DUBAI/RIYADH, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will seek to make a case at a global gathering in New York this week for concerted action to punish and deter arch-foe Iran after strikes on Saudi oil plants rattled global markets and exposed the kingdom's vulnerability to attack.

However, even Riyadh's main allies the United States and the United Arab Emirates have little appetite for a conventional military confrontation which may spark a war in the Gulf and drag in other oil producers, diplomats say.

As it tries to build a coalition, Riyadh is preparing to provide evidence to the U.N. General Assembly which it says will prove Iran was behind the Sept. 14 drone and missile assault which initially drastically affected its oil output, a view shared by Washington. Riyadh says Iranian weapons were launched from the north and that it is working to pinpoint the exact location.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is going to take a lot more than a just a military strike on two oil facilities for Saudi Arabia's allies to get involved in launching a military strike against Iran and risking war. The Saudis must accept that the focus from the U.S. and its allies is to enforce sanctions, and leaving the military option on the table as a last resort. But should Iran launch more attacks and move to cripple oil shipping in the Gulf, there is no doubt in my mind that this is when this conflict will then move quickly from the diplomats to the Generals. My prediction. Iran is pushing the boundaries, almost wishing for a war. I for one would not be surprised if they do something dramatic, because sanctions are crippling their economy, and they feel that they must respond in order to show their citizens that they are in control.

Inside President Trump’s Decision To Not Attack Iran After They Shot Down A U.S. Drone In June

President Trump has argued that his decision not to attack Iran was an expression of long-overdue restraint by a nation that has wasted too many lives and dollars overseas. © Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

New York Times: An Abrupt Move That Stunned Aides: Inside Trump’s Aborted Attack on Iran

WASHINGTON — By the time President Trump met with congressional leaders on the afternoon of June 20, he had already decided to retaliate against Iran for shooting down an American surveillance drone. But for once, he kept his cards close to the vest, soliciting advice rather than doing all of the talking.

“Why don’t you go after the launch sites?” a Republican lawmaker asked.

“Well,” Mr. Trump replied with a hint, “I think you’ll like the decision.”

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But barely three hours later, Mr. Trump had changed his mind. Without consulting his vice president, secretary of state or national security adviser, he reversed himself and, with ships readying missiles and airplanes already in the skies, told the Pentagon to call off the airstrikes with only 10 minutes to go. When Vice President Mike Pence and other officials returned to the White House for what they expected would be a long night of monitoring a military operation, they were stunned to learn the attack was off.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is no public and very little political will in the U.S. to start another war in the Middle East. And U.S. allies are even more reluctant to participate in such a conflict, especially over the shooting down of a drone. President Trump's call on this one was the right one.

These Are The Wars That Killed The Most People In Human History

Dresden. World War II

National Interest: These Conflicts Killed the Most People in Human History

So many millions dead.

Key point: History is full of very bloody conflicts.

All wars are awful. Some wars are much, much more awful than others.

All wars are awful. Some wars are much, much more awful than others.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor does it comprise anything but a fraction of the overall deaths in wars in human history. Still, the five wars on this list may have collectively killed up to a quarter of a billion people.

These wars were big and upset the status quo. The Chinese Civil War turned more than half a billion people Red. World War II destroyed a totalitarian menace. Even the Mongol invasions echo in the present as an estimated 16 million people worldwide carry the genes of Genghis Khan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese Civil War and the Tai Ping Rebellion were incredibly bloody. But the Second World War holds the record of people being killed.

A Look At Where U.S. Troops And Military Assets Are Deployed In The Middle East

AFP/File photo

Axios: Where U.S. troops and military assets are deployed in the Middle East

The U.S. has maintained a costly presence in the Middle East for decades, with at least 60,000 troops stationed around the region, according to United States Central Command.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense announced Friday it will send more American troops to Saudi Arabia following mid-September attacks on the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq and a major oil field at Khurais. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi officials claim Iran was responsible for the attack, despite the nation's denial.

By the numbers: The U.S. has nearly 800 military bases around the world, and U.S. Central Command says there are between 60,000 and 70,000 U.S. troops in the Middle East.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. military presence in the Middle East has declined over the years, but it can be easily ramp up if tensions increase.

Iran's President Tells The West To Leave The Persian Gulf. Head Of Revolutionary Guards Threatens To Destroy Any Aggressor

Daily Mail: 'Stay away!' Iran's President Rouhani issues chilling warning to the West to keep out of the Gulf and avoid an arms race as he shows off nation's military hardware after US sent reinforcements to the region in wake of of drone attacks

* President Hassan Rouhani called on foreign powers to 'stay away' from the Gulf during parade in Tehran today
* Row after row of soldiers marched in tight unison and tanks, armoured vehicles, drones and missiles also seen
* Rouhani said: 'Farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be'
* Annual parade marks start of week commemorating Iran's 1980-1988 war with Iraq known as 'sacred defence'

Iran's president has warned the West to 'stay away' while showing his country's strength during a military parade.

President Hassan Rouhani denounced the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf and said Iran will put forward a peace plan, after arch-foe the United States ordered reinforcements to the region.

His speech came as he and top military brass saluted row after row of soldiers marching past them in tight unison in front of the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran today.

The parade showcased tanks, armoured vehicles, drones and missiles - including the Khorramshahr which is said to have a range of 2,000 kilometres (more than 1,200 miles).

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If these reports are true, there will be a response .... Yemeni Rebels Warn Iran Plans Another Strike Soon (The Wall Street Journal).

More News On Iranian Threats

Iran's Rouhani blames foreign forces for causing 'insecurity' in the Gulf -- France 24
Iran asks West to leave Persian Gulf as tensions heightened -- AP
Iran: Foreign troops in region could threaten 'energy security' -- The Hill
Iran's president warns America to 'stay away' as it unveils long range missiles that could strike US bases -- The Telegraph
Iran says it will destroy any aggressor -- Reuters
Iran warns it will 'destroy aggressors' after US troop announcement -- BBC

Is The U.S. Navy's Zumwalt 'Stealth' Destroyer A Real Threat To China And Russia?

U.S. Navy

National Interest: The Navy's Zumwalt 'Stealth' Destroyer Is a Real Threat to China and Russia

Or is it just a piece of junk? We take a look?

Key point: The Zumwalt is supposed to be the future of high-tech naval warfare.

As the USS Zumwalt progresses with combat activation, weapons integration and further preparations for operational combat, the Navy continues to more broadly scope its operational envelope and envision operations previously less emphasized mission areas for the ship.

Could the new destroyer actually wind up changing surface warfare?

While initially conceived, in large measure, as a littoral land attack platform, Navy program managers now say fast-progressing technology and the ship's performance thus far, will increasingly enable it to succeed in open or "blue water" combat should it engage is major power, force-on-force ocean warfare.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This defense program is a mess .... The Navy's Zumwalt-Class 'Stealth' Destroyer Has One Big Problem (National Interest). And the US Navy once wanted to build 32 of them!!!!

U.S. Army Prepares For Large-Scale Global Combat

Gen. James McConville became the 40th Army chief of staff Aug. 9, 2019. (U.S. Army)

Newsweek: U.S. Army Prepares for Large-Scale Global Combat as New Chief of Staff Takes Command

The Army Chief of Staff said the army must bolster its presence around the world. It's not just a show of power, but rather a quicker response to ever-changing global events. These range from boots on the ground to crews working behind computers to counter cyber attacks—and everything in between.

Gen. James McConville said he wants mass deployments of troops around the globe to be ready, rather than sitting at standby from a base in the United States.

"It's wonderful that we have a brigade, sitting maybe at Fort Campbell, that's at the highest level of readiness," McConville told the Army Times. "But we also need to get that brigade to where we need ... and that may be by airlift, it may be by sealift."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The new U.S. Army chief is definitely ambitious, but does he have the money? .... Will the US Army have enough to pay for its modernization? (Defense News).

Fighting In The Sahel Region Of Africa Is Displacing Tens Of Thousands

Eurasia Review: Violence, Displacement On Rise In Sahel Region Of Africa

Catholic Relief Services is warning of increasing violence and displacement in the Sahel— the vast area of western and north-central Africa stretching from Senegal to Sudan.

In 2018, more than 320,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger were forced to leave their homes, CRS reports. Burkina Faso, in particular, saw a four-fold increase in displaced persons since the start of this year.

“The increase of violent attacks has been devastating to so many families,” Jennifer Overton, CRS’ regional director for West Africa, said Sept. 12.

“People are struggling not only to keep their families safe and together, but also to meet basic needs like food and shelter.”

Read more ....

More News On The Growing Violence In The Sahel Region Of Africa

Commander Visits Niger, Assesses Security Situation -- Africa News
Rebel-controlled town in Mali concerns African leaders -- AFP
The further north, the more dangerous it is: On the Burkina Faso front line -- Al Jazeera
Periscoping Burkina Faso: a jihadist domino in the Sahel? -- Foreign Brief

Are Chechen Death Squads Roaming Europe Killing Former Separatist Commanders?

Photo: Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a former Chechen separatist commander, shot dead in Berlin in August.

The Guardian: ‘We can find you anywhere’: the Chechen death squads stalking Europe

Ramzan Kadyrov rules the Caucasus republic through fear and oppression, amid reports of torture. But those seeking asylum in Europe are not safe, as assassins hunt them down.

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili spent a long time living on the edge. He survived several years of partisan warfare against Russian forces in Chechnya during the early 2000s. He survived an assassination attempt in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi in 2015, a spray of bullets hitting him in the arm and shoulder. He survived a stint living in Ukraine, where he was tipped off about another planned attack and went into hiding. Finally, he arrived in Germany towards the end of 2016, and breathed a sigh of relief.

“I think he felt much safer here. He was only thinking about building a bright future in Germany, also for the children, not about fighting or going back there,” said Manana Tsatieva, Khangoshvili’s ex-wife, who lives in Germany with their four children.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is hard for me to feel any sympathy to these former Chechen separatist commanders. These Islamic extremists are responsible not only for murdering opponents in Chechnya during their drive for independence, but also launching a terror campaign against Russian civilians that then precipitated two destructive and bloody wars followed by a terror campaign that killed tens of thousands of people. The Beslan school massacre, the Moscow theatre hostage crisis, the list is long and many. It is also a sad state of affairs that it takes a psychotic like Ramzan Kadyrov who currently rules this Caucasus republic to go after these other psychotics who have caused so much pain.