Thursday, May 28, 2020

Presdient Trump To Sign Executive Order On Social Media

President Trump's aides told reporters traveling on Air Force One that the president would sign a social media-focused executive order. While they didn't give details he's been in a fight with Twitter for 24 hours over the site's decision to fact-check his tweets

Daily Mail: Donald Trump will sign executive order on 'social media' after threatening to CLOSE platforms he claims are censoring conservatives in wake of Twitter fact-checking his tweets

* President Trump plans to sign a 'social media'-focused executive order on Thursday, White House aides told reporters travelling on Air Force One
* They have no details about what the executive order would say, though Trump has been fighting with Twitter ever since the company fact-checked him
* In Wednesday morning tweets, the president said he would regulate or 'close down' social media companies he perceived as censoring conservative voices
* On Tuesday, Twitter had flagged two Trump tweets that suggested mail-in voting was more ripe for widespread voter fraud than casting in-person votes
* The president and the GOP have been against governors' plans to send ballots to every American so they aren't forced to vote in-person during a pandemic
* While Democrats argue this is the best way to vote for citizens' safety, Trump has alleged that ballots could be stolen, harvested or created fraudulently

President Trump will sign some sort of 'social media'-focused executive order on Thursday, White House officials said, amid a rift with Twitter over the company fact-checking his tweets.

Reporters traveling on board Air Force One Wednesday were told by press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that an executive order was coming as soon as Wednesday night, but she wasn't able to give any details about what it would do.

Communications Director Alyssa Farah later clarified to the group that the president would sign the executive order Thursday instead.

Wednesday marked 100,000 Americans dead of the coronavirus. But the president spent much of his bandwidth on a trip to NASA's headquarters for an aborted manned spacecraft mission and attacking 'Social Media Platforms' - likely for Twitter's actions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This raises some interesting legal questions. Twitter has enjoyed legal protection because it provides a platform for content. It does not provide content .... that is until now via through its "fact-checking" tool. Here is an easy prediction, no one knows what will be in President Trump's executive order, but whatever he signs will end up in the courts.

Picture Of The Day

Anti-government demonstrators scuffle with riot police during a lunch time protest as a second reading of a controversial national anthem law takes place in Hong Kong, May 27. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Top Photos of the Day (Reuters).

Democrats Say U.S. Considering New Weapon Sale To Saudi Arabia

Senator Bob Menendez calls into question motives behind another Saudi arms sale (AFP/File photo)

CNN: Trump administration considering new weapons sale to Saudi Arabia, top Democrat says

The Trump administration is considering yet another weapons sale to Saudi Arabia despite the fact that it is facing scrutiny from congressional Democrats who believe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have recommended the firing of an independent watchdog because he was investigating the top US diplomat's controversial decision to fast-track a previous arms deal to the Kingdom.

In a CNN op-ed Wednesday, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, said he discovered that the administration is pursuing a previously undisclosed arms sale to Saudi Arabia, which includes "thousands more precision-guided bombs to the President's 'friend,' Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman."

Read more ....

More News On Democrats Saying U.S. Considering New Weapon Sale To Saudi Arabia

Trump planning new arms sale to Saudi Arabia, says senator -- AFP
Top US Democrat warns of another Pompeo-Saudi arms deal -- Middle East Monitor
Top Democrat: Trump administration pursuing new Saudi arms sale -- The Hill
Top Senate Democrat says State Dept. is working on new Saudi arms deal -- Axios

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

World Health Organization Says Latin America Is The New Epicenter Of The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

Reuters: WHO says the Americas are new COVID-19 epicenter as deaths surge in Latin America

BRASILIA, May 26 (Reuters) - The Americas have emerged as the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a Tuesday briefing, as a U.S. study forecast deaths surging in Brazil and other Latin American countries through August.

"Now is not the time for countries to ease restrictions," Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization, said via videoconference.

The Americas have registered more than 2.4 million cases of the new coronavirus and more than 143,000 deaths from the resulting COVID-19 respiratory disease. Latin America has passed Europe and the United States in daily infections, she said.

"Our region has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic," Etienne said, as other PAHO directors warned there are "very tough" weeks ahead for the region and Brazil has a long way to go before it will see the pandemic end.

Read more ....

More News On The World Health Organization Saying Latin America Is The New Epicenter Of The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

Latin America is now the 'epicenter of the outbreak,' says health official -- CNN
Latin America becomes new epicenter of coronavirus pandemic, as corruption surges with mismanaged relief funds -- FOX News
Latin America Now Epicenter of Coronavirus Outbreak With More Than 2.4 Million Cases -- US News and World Report
Latin America surpasses Europe, US in daily COVID-19 infections, health group says -- The Hill
WHO: Coronavirus 'accelerating' in some Latin American countries -- Al Jazeera

US Covid-19 Coronavirus Death Toll Passes 100,000. Nearly 1.7 Million Cases

Daily Mail: US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 just four months after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country

* The U.S. death toll from coronavirus topped 100,000 on Wednesday
* It remains the highest death toll from the virus in the world
* As deaths hit 100,000, President Donald Trump was in Florida hoping to watch the first launch of NASA astronauts into orbit from the U.S. in nearly a decade
* It came after the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation revised its projected death toll downwards on Tuesday by 11,000
* The latest forecast predicts 131,967 people will die in the US by August 4
* It is down from the 143,357 fatalities projected in last week's revision
* At least 100,047 Americans have so far died from coronavirus and there are currently over 1.6 million cases across the United States
* President Trump had previously said that keeping the death toll to 100,000 would be a sign that the administration had 'done a very good job'

The U.S. death toll from coronavirus topped 100,000 on Wednesday, a startling milestone just four months after the country's first case was confirmed.

It remains the highest death toll from the virus in the world and surpasses the U.S. military combat fatalities suffered in every conflict since the Korean War.

Johns Hopkins University said there were at least 100,047 American deaths from coronavirus as of Wednesday evening. The figure is more than double the deaths in any other country.

It is a figure that President Trump initially stated would never be hit as he claimed in February that the virus would go away itself as warmer weather began.

Read more ....

More News On US Covid-19 Coronavirus Death Toll Passing 100,000

US death toll from coronavirus surges past 100,000 people -- AP
U.S. coronavirus deaths top 100,000 as country reopens -- Reuters
US Covid-19 death toll surpasses 100,000 mark -- France 24
U.S. death toll from coronavirus tops 100,000 -- CBS
U.S coronavirus deaths top 100,000 -- NBC
US coronavirus death toll crosses 100,000 in harrowing milestone -- FOX News
U.S. coronavirus death toll rises above 100,000 in world’s deadliest outbreak -- CNBC
Coronavirus deaths in US top 100,000 -- BBC
US passes 100,000 coronavirus deaths as states relax lockdown measures -- The Guardian
US coronavirus death toll passes 100,000, with nearly 1.7 million cases -- ABC News Online
US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 as politics overshadows grief -- RT

U.S. Announces The End Of Waivers That Allowed Countries To Cooperate With Iran On Civil Nuclear Projects

CNN: US ends waivers for Iran's civil nuclear programs in latest maximum pressure campaign move

The United States announced the end of waivers that allowed countries to cooperate with Iran on civil nuclear projects under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday that the waivers will end following a 60-day wind-down period that is meant to allow businesses to cease operations.

"I am announcing the end of the sanctions waiver covering all remaining JCPOA-originating nuclear projects in Iran -- the Arak reactor conversion, the provision of enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the export of Iran's spent and scrap research reactor fuel," Pompeo said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Announcing The End Of Waivers That Allowed Countries To Cooperate With Iran On Civil Nuclear Projects

U.S. to end sanctions waivers allowing some work at Iran nuclear sites -- Reuters
US ends sanction waivers for nations in Iran nuclear deal -- AFP
Trump administration ends waivers in Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran -- The Hill
Trump administration to end Iran deal waivers in a blow to Obama-era pact -- Washington Post
US to Revoke Iran Nuclear Cooperation Sanctions Waivers -- New York Times
US to end sanction waivers that allowed some countries to work at Iran nuclear sites -- Middle East Eye
US to end sanctions waivers on Iran nuclear sites: Sources -- Al Jazeera
US ends ALL BUT ONE sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear facilities -- RT

China Stepping Up As A Military Power

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, attends a meeting of the delegation of the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force at the third session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing on May 26, 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)

DW: China unveils plans to step up military power

The announcement comes days after Beijing said it wants to increase its presence in Hong Kong. Leader Xi Jinping said China's military should also explore new ways of training amid the pandemic.

China is planning to step up its preparedness for armed combat and improve its ability to carry out military tasks, reported state TV on Tuesday, citing Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The decision has been influenced by the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on national security, added Xi.

His announcement comes as Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam was forced to defend Beijing controversial new security legislation intended to quell unrest in the former British colony.

The legislation sparked recent protests by pro-democracy activists.

The country's performance in fighting the new coronavirus has proved the success of military reform, Xi was quoted as saying. China's armed forces should also explore new ways of training amid the pandemic, he added.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China has border disputes with almost all of its neighbours. And to enforce its claims Beijing is now telling everyone that the military will be the instrument that they will be using. We are entering tense times in Asia.

Border Tensions On The India - China Border Are Escalating Again

The Guardian: China and India move troops as border tensions escalate

Thousands of Chinese troops reportedly move into sensitive areas along Himalayan frontier

Tensions between China and India over their Himalayan border have escalated, with China accused of moving thousands of troops into disputed territory and expanding a military airbase in the region.

Thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops are reported to have moved into sensitive areas along the eastern Ladakh border, setting up tents and stationing vehicles and heavy machinery in what India considers to be its territory.

In response, the Indian army has moved several battalions from an infantry division usually based in the Ladakh city of Leh to “operational alert areas” along the border, and reinforcement troops have been brought in.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This offer is dead on arrival .... Trump offers to mediate 'raging' India-China border dispute (Reuters).

More News On Growing Border Tensions Between China And India

India, China teeter toward a border clash -- Asia Times
India and China Move In More Troops as Border Tensions Rise -- Bloomberg
'All-out combat' feared as India, China engage in border standoff -- Al Jazeera
Scale-up battle preparedness, Xi tells Chinese military -- The Tribune
NDTV Exclusive: China Expands Airbase Near Ladakh, Fighter Jets On Tarmac -- NDTV

Drones Are Playing A Critical Role In The Libyan War

Turkey's Bayraktar TB2 drone has quickly reversed the year-long siege of Tripoli by General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army [Courtesy: Creative Commons]

Al Jazeera: 'Largest drone war in the world': How airpower saved Tripoli

LNA's goal of seizing the capital abruptly ended after Turkey's intervention with its supply of armed Bayraktar drones.

Air power has played an increasingly important role in the Libyan conflict. The relatively flat featureless desert terrain of the north and coast means that ground units are easily spotted, with few places to hide.

The air forces of both the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) use French and Soviet-era fighter jets, antiquated and poorly maintained.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Drones .... big and small .... are the future of warfare. The war in Libya is a testing ground on the role that they can play.

Pentagon Says Russia Flew 14 MiG 29s And Su-24s To Libya

Warzone/The Drive: Russia Now Has At Least 14 Combat Jets In Libya As Satellite Images Reveal New Details

It's now clear that the Kremlin has launched a major airpower intervention into the country.

The U.S. military's top command for operations in Africa says that Russia has sent at least 14 combat jets to Libya and that Russian military pilots are flying them. It has also released additional satellite imagery shot last week showing two MiG-29 Fulcrums at Al Jufrah Air Base in the center of that country. This comes a day after it first revealed evidence that the Kremlin had sent the aircraft to bolster forces fighting on behalf of strongman Khalifa Haftar against Libya's U.N.-recognized government.

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Tweeted out the new imagery and information on May 27, 2020. The satellite images are dated May 20, a day before the first reports began to emerge that Russian MiG-29s, as well as Su-24 Fencers, had touched down in Libya.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is an easy prediction. The war in Libya is about to escalate significantly.

More News On Reports That Russia Flew 14 MiG 29s And Su-24s To Libya

U.S. Africa Command Releases Additional Images, Details About The “At Least” 14 Russian Jets Deployed To Libya -- The Aviationist
U.S. Military Says Russia Flew 14 MiG 29s and Su-24s to Libya -- New York Times
Russian 'camouflaged' fighter jets deployed to Libya to back rebel airstrikes on capital: US military -- FOX News
Russia delivers fighter jets to Libya over Syria: US -- Anadolu Agency
U.S. Accuses Russia Of Sending Jets To Libya To Support Mercenaries -- RFE
What Is Russia Doing in Libya? Pentagon Warns of Escalation As Putin Sends Fighter Jets -- Newsweek

NASA Astronauts Ready For SpaceX Rocket Launch To The International Space Station (Live Video)

UPDATE: The launch has been scrubbed for today.

Daily Mail: Ready for blast off: NASA astronauts are strapped into their seats for SpaceX rocket launch after giving farewell air hugs to their families - as Elon Musk says he accepts full responsibility if something goes wrong

* NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are strapped in the Crew Dragon capsule
* The pair conducted a series of communications checks in the cabin, all of which seem to be working properly
* They are suited up in their sleek one-piece tailor made suits that are only for use in the Dragon capsule
* Behnken and Hurley had a social distancing farewell with their families outside of the launchpad
* The mission is set to kickoff at 4:33pm and will take the team to the International Space Station

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have loaded into the cabin of Crew Dragon Capsule, following a social distancing farewell with their families.

The team was greeted by their wives and children at Launch Complex 39A, but unlike previous launches, were only allowed to send air hugs and blow kisses to their family due to the social distancing policy.

After strapping in their seats, Behnken and Hurley completed a series of communications checks inside the capsule - all of which seemed to be working.

From inside the capsule, Hurley said they are 'feeling great' ahead of the launch.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is so cool. The launch is set for 4:33 EST.

Update: President Trump is there .... The Trumps fly in for SpaceX's first manned launch: Donald, Melania and his children take Air Force One to Cape Canaveral for VIP flyover before astronauts take Elon Musk's rocket to space for the first time (Daily Mail).

 UPDATE #2: The launch has been scrubbed for today.

Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou Loses Her Bid To Have The U.S. Extradition Case Against Her In Canada Thrown Out

SCMP: Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou loses bid for freedom as Canadian judge decides US extradition case must continue

* Judge rules that the US fraud charges against Meng satisfy the ‘double criminality’ rule for extradition cases
* Meng’s lawyers will continue to fight against her extradition on other grounds

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has lost a bid to have the extradition case against her thrown out, with a Canadian judge instead ruling on Wednesday that the US charges against her meet a key condition and the hearings must continue.

Justice Heather Holmes of British Columbia’s Supreme Court ruled that the fraud charges against Meng satisfied the extradition requirement of “double criminality”, which demands that suspects be accused of something that would constitute a crime in Canada as well as in the requesting country.

“On the question of law posed, I conclude that, as a matter of law, the double criminality requirement for extradition is capable of being met in this case,” Associate Chief Justice Holmes wrote in her judgment.

Meng’s lawyers will continue to fight against her extradition on other grounds.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Meng Wanzhou is going to launch an appeal. But this is a major loss for her. I would not be surprised if she is extradited to the U.S. by next year. I also expect China will be retaliating against Canada for this ruling.

More News On Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou Losing Her Bid To Have The U.S. Extradition Case Against Her Thrown Out

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou loses major court battle as B.C. judge rules extradition bid should proceed -- CBC
B.C. judge finds double criminality in Huawei case; extradition process continues for Meng Wanzhou -- CTV News
Huawei CFO Meng loses key court argument in fight against extradition to United States -- Reuters
Meng Wanzhou: Huawei executive suffers US extradition blow -- BBC
Canadian court rules against Huawei exec fighting extradition -- AFP
The case to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou from Canada to the United States can continue, judge rules -- CNN
Timeline: Key events in Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's extradition case -- Reuters
Explainer: What happens next in Huawei CFO's U.S. extradition case -- Reuters

Protests Continue In Hong Kong

BBC: Hong Kong police arrest hundreds and fire pepper pellets amid fresh unrest

Police in Hong Kong have arrested about 300 people and fired pepper pellets amid new anti-mainland unrest.

Protesters were rallying against a bill on China's national anthem and Beijing's planned introduction of a national security law.

Police said most arrests were on suspicion of unauthorised assembly.

Protesters oppose the anthem bill, which would criminalise insulting it, and the security law, which they fear will strip Hong Kong of basic freedoms.

Meanwhile in the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he has certified to Congress that Hong Kong no longer merits special treatment under US law.

Read more ....

More News On Protests In Hong Kong

Hong Kong protests: more than 360 arrested as thousands take to streets to oppose new laws concerning Chinese sovereignty -- SCMP
Hong Kong crisis: at least 360 arrested as China protests grow -- The Guardian
Protesters gather in Hong Kong amid Chinese anthem law debate -- France 24
Hong Kong police fire pepper balls at protesters and arrest 360 people for unauthorised assembly -- Hong Kong Free Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tells Congress That Hong Kong Is No Longer Autonomous From China

CNBC: Pompeo declares that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, threatening trade with U.S.

* Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported to Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China, a move that could jeopardize the special administrative region’s favorable trade relationship with the U.S. and open up Chinese officials to sanctions.
* The State Department was required to issue a determination on Hong Kong’s autonomy under pro-democracy legislation passed late last year. The law also requires the president to impose sanctions on foreigners who undermine “fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported to Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China, a move that could jeopardize the special administrative region’s favorable trade relationship with the U.S. and open up Chinese officials to sanctions.

The State Department was required to issue a determination on Hong Kong’s autonomy under pro-democracy legislation passed late last year. The law also requires the president to impose sanctions on foreigners who undermine “fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong.”

Pompeo’s move comes amid a controversy in Hong Kong over a proposed national security law from Beijing that has spurred protests in the streets of the former British colony.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China's new national security law makes it very clear to everyone that Hong Kong is no longer "autonomous". Secretary of State Mike Pompeo statement to Congress is declaring the obvious. The consequences for Hong Kong are going to be profound. I am now 100% sure that it is going to lose it's favorable trade relationship with the U.S., and there are going to be sanctions against Chinese officials. This is a sad moment. The Hong Kong that I have visited dozens of times over the years and gotten to love is now coming to an end.

More News On U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Telling Congress That Hong Kong Is No Longer Autonomous From China

Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, US determines, as Mike Pompeo makes certification that may mean sanctions -- SCMP
Pompeo says Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, jeopardizing billions of dollars in trade -- CNN
U.S. considering suspension of Hong Kong's special tariff rates: sources -- Reuters
Pompeo says Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, which could mean the US ends the city's special trade status -- Business Insider

Two Su-35 Russian Fighter Jets Surround A P-8A US Spy Plane Over The Eastern Mediterranean

Daily Mail: Two Russian fighter jets 'buzz' a US reconnaissance plane and come within FEET over the Mediterranean provoking Navy fury at 'unsafe' manuever

* Two Su-35 Russian fighter jets surrounded a P-8A US spy plane on Tuesday
* The US Navy accused the jets of flying 'in an unsafe and unprofessional manner'
* It is the third time in two months Russian pilots buzzed US aircraft, said the Navy

Two Russian fighter jets have been accused of flying in 'an unsafe and unprofessional manner' while intercepting a US spy plane.

The Su-35 fighters surrounded a P-8A US plane as it flew over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday, the US Navy revealed in a statement.

It's the third time in two months Russian pilots buzzed US aircraft. The fighters 'took close station of the spy plane' over a period of 65 minutes, the statement read.

It added: 'While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible.

'We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety.'

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Those two Su-35s are flying very close. They are also heavily armed.

More News On Two Su-35 Russian fighter Jets Surrounding A P-8A US Spy Plane Over The Eastern Mediterranean

Armed Russian Fighters Fly Dangerously Close To U.S. Navy Patrol Plane Over The Mediterranean -- Warzone/The Drive
Video shows Russian pilots making "unsafe" intercept of U.S. surveillance plane for 3rd time in 2 months -- CBS
US military again accuses Russian jets of 'unsafe' aerial encounter -- CNN
2 Russian fighter jets buzz US spy plane over Mediterranean -- FOX News
Russian Fighters Intercept U.S. Aircraft, Risk Midair Collision, U.S. Navy Says -- RFE
VIDEO: Two Russian Fighters Make Unsafe Intercept of Navy P-8A Over Eastern Med -- USNI News
Russian Jets Blocked US Plane in Unsafe Maneuvers Over Mediterranean, Navy Says --
Photos And Videos Show Russian Su-35s Performing “Unprofessional Interception” of a P-8 in the Med Sea -- Aviationist
Navy Says 'Irresponsible' Russian Fighter Interception Jeopardized Safety of U.S. Spy Plane -- Newsweek
Video: US Navy Blasts Russia for 'Irresponsible' Intercept of P-8A Poseidon Over Mediterranean Sea -- Sputnik

Facebook Failing To Block China's Targeting Of President Trump

During the BBC interview Zuckerberg said: 'If you're saying something that is just wrong and is spreading quickly but isn't going to put people at imminent risk, we don't take that down but we stop it from spreading'

Laura Edelson and Sheila Krumholz, USA Today: China's hidden targeting of Donald Trump one reason Facebook needs new cybersecurity approach

Too many loopholes exist for bad actors to influence our elections. It's time for Facebook to get serious about closing them.

Six months out from election 2020, Facebook is awash with coronavirus-themed paid advertising — but the American public has been left in the dark about who is paying for these ads and how they are being targeted. Facebook has taken steps toward transparency by voluntarily disclosing political ad content and data through its online Ad Library. But the library is complicated to use, untold numbers of ads are missing and a significant element is lacking: adequate information on how ads are directed toward specific demographics and groups of people.

For the public to be better informed about who is trying to influence their votes and why, we need to embrace new approaches for transparency. Tried and true techniques from the practice of cybersecurity can help us strengthen democracy by revealing vulnerabilities in disclosure of online political ads.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like Facebook CEO Zuckerberg is aware there is a problem .... Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is in a fake news 'arms race' against Russia, Iran and China as he bids to stop electoral interference and misinformation about coronavirus and 5G masts (Daily Mail).

This Is The Territory That The Taliban Control In Afghanistan

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

WNU Editor: That is a lot of territory that the Taliban control.

How Did The Afghan Taliban Survive?

Taliban members gathered under a tree in March in Alingar District of Laghman Province, Afghanistan.Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

New York Times: How the Taliban Outlasted a Superpower: Tenacity and Carnage

The Taliban stand on the brink of realizing their most fervent desire: U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan. They have given up little of their extremist ideology to do it.

ALINGAR, Afghanistan — Under the shade of a mulberry tree, near grave sites dotted with Taliban flags, a top insurgent military leader in eastern Afghanistan acknowledged that the group had suffered devastating losses from American strikes and government operations over the past decade.

But those losses have changed little on the ground: The Taliban keep replacing their dead and wounded and delivering brutal violence.

“We see this fight as worship,” said Mawlawi Mohammed Qais, the head of the Taliban’s military commission in Laghman Province, as dozens of his fighters waited nearby on a hillside. “So if a brother is killed, the second brother won’t disappoint God’s wish — he’ll step into the brother’s shoes.”

It was March, and the Taliban had just signed a peace deal with the United States that now puts the movement on the brink of realizing its most fervent desire — the complete exit of American troops from Afghanistan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:
I can sum up the above New York times post in one sentence. The Taliban are a factor in Afghanistan because of their safe havens in Pakistan, the madrases that they are permitted to operate in Pakistan, and Pakistan's flow of weapons to them.