Thursday, December 14, 2017

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 14, 2017

Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria. United Nations

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian: 'Golden opportunity' lost as Syrian peace talks collapse

UN special envoy blasts Bashar al-Assad, who is ‘unwilling to meet anyone with a different opinion’

UN-sponsored talks in Geneva designed to end the Syrian civil war have collapsed, with a deflated special envoy Staffan de Mistura admitting “a golden big opportunity” had been missed.

He largely blamed the Syria government delegation for setting preconditions on holding direct talks with the opposition, saying it would be difficult for any future talks sponsor to make progress “if the government is not willing to meet anyone who has a different opinion”.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 14, 2017

Years of fruitless efforts to end Syrian conflict -- AFP

Putin Declared 'Mission Accomplished' in Syria. What's Next? -- Nikolas K. Gvosdev. National Interest

Turkey switches to full defiance of US, continues Putin courtship -- M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times

Iran's weak hand exposed by ongoing developments in Yemen -- Amir Basiri, Washington Examiner

Can Diplomacy Work with North Korea? -- Georgy Toloraya, 38 North

Is there a way to avoid war on the Korean Peninsula? -- Alexander Gillespie, Al Jazeera

The Dangerous Appetites of North Korea's Dictator -- Matthew Little, The Epoch Times

China is furious and Australia should expect more backlash after questioning its influence -- Ryan Manuel, ABC News Online

Will those presiding over the killings of Rohingya children ever face justice? -- National editorial

Political Islam, Intolerance, and the IS Threat in Indonesia -- Bobby Anderson, RCD/The Conversation

Australian universities accused of sharing military technology with China -- Tom Iggulden, ABC News Online

EU leaders' summit: What's on the agenda? -- David Martin, DW

With Russia, Try Try Again -- Michael Nordeen, RCD

The scars of Catalonia -- Paul Preston, New Statesman

Can the PRI Escape Peña Nieto's Legacy in Election? -- Paul Imison, WP Review

2017 Was Bad for Facebook. 2018 Will Be Worse. -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- December 14, 2017 (Evening Edition)



DW: Syria missed 'golden opportunity' at peace talks, says UN mediator de Mistura

A political solution to Syria's conflict may require "new ideas" to move peace talks forward, the UN's top mediator said. Going on seven years, the conflict has shown no sign of ending despite several attempts at peace.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN's Special Envoy for Syria, on Thursday said the latest round of peace talks aimed at advancing a political solution to the Syrian conflict was a "missed golden opportunity."

"I did not see the (Syrian) government really looking to find a way to have a dialogue and negotiate during this round," de Mistura said.

"I will probably need to come up with new ideas, parameters, about how to move the talks forward, particularly on constitution and elections."

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels: US. US gives evidence Iran supplied missiles that Yemen rebels fired at Saudi Arabia.

UN blames Damascus for 'golden opportunity missed' at Syria peace talks. U.N. calls Syria talks a 'big missed opportunity', seeks new ideas.

UN Syria envoy urges Putin to have ‘courage’ to push Assad.

U.S. jets fire flares to warn Russian jets in Syria.

UN: Syria's Ghouta faces 'complete catastrophe'.

UN chief: Iran may be defying UN on missiles, OK on nukes.

Hamas marks 30-year anniversary with Gaza rally.

Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket fire.

Netanyahu: OIC Jerusalem statement fails to impress us.

Turkish coast guard in dramatic rescue of stranded migrants.

Pence Middle East trip to go ahead.

ASIA

U.N. chief presses for release of arrested Reuters journalists in Myanmar.

Rohingya death toll likely above 10,000, MSF says amid exodus. 6,700 Rohingya Muslims killed in one month in Myanmar, MSF says.

South Korean President Moon in China on visit to repair ties. N Korea threat high on agenda of S Korea-China talks.

China constructing North Korean border refugee camps in preparation for disaster: leaked report.

China summons Australia's ambassador over influence row.

China's central bank raises interest rates after Fed rise.

India PM Modi's party seen sweeping state polls in popularity boost.

Fortified by family and China cash, Cambodia's strongman digs in.

AFRICA

Cameroon's Anglophones flee to Nigeria as crackdown grows.

UN warns of cost if South Sudan stymies 'last chance' peace plan.

Togo opposition wants regional backing for political change.

Kenyan police accused of rape in opposition strongholds after elections, says HRW.

Macron calls for Sahel force against armed groups.

Boko Haram tries to take over military base in NE Nigeria.

Somalia: Suicide bomber hits Mogadishu police academy. Somalia suicide bomber kills police at Mogadishu academy.

German naval vessel rescues more than 100 migrants off Libyan coast.

Congolese fighters convicted of raping young girls in landmark case. Militiamen jailed in DR Congo's Kavumu for raping 40 children.

Zimbabwe’s new leader begins journey to key 2018 election.

Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president, suffers double court blow.

Nelson Mandela’s family voice dismay at funeral corruption claims.

EUROPE

EU agrees to extend economic sanctions on Russia until mid-2018.

EU extends economic sanctions against Russia, agrees to new defense force.

Cyprus, Greece, Egypt vow closer security cooperation in Mediterranean.

Children killed as train and school bus collide in southern France.

Putin says will run as independent candidate for new Kremlin term.

Vladimir Putin takes aim at claims of US election meddling in marathon press conference. Putin: Trump opponents harm US with 'invented' Russia scandal.

EU leaders wrestle with migrant quotas at summit.

British troops breached Geneva conventions in Iraq, high court rules.

Theresa May: We're on course to deliver Brexit despite vote.

EU’s Tusk warns of bruising Brexit battle ahead, urges unity.

Brexit: Paris steps up efforts to lure London firms.

Eurozone economy to grow at faster rate, says central bank.

AMERICAS

Peru opposition demands president's immediate resignation.

Republicans forge tax deal, final votes seen next week.

‘Petro’-bolivar: Venezuela to launch oil-backed cryptocurrency. Venezuelans seeing bitcoin boom as survival, not speculation.

Mexico: murders of women rise sharply as drug war intensifies.

Mexico’s proposed security law draws strong criticism.

Colombia's main gang declares unilateral ceasefire.

Ecuador VP Jorge Glas sentenced for corruption in Odebrecht case.

Human foot found on Canada shoreline – the 13th such discovery in a decade.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

'Islamic State' is fighting with weapons made in the EU: study.

ISIS threatens National Cathedral in fiery propaganda image.

Terrorism not a ‘systemic threat’ to UK says former MI6 head.

Iraq hangs 38 members of IS, Qaeda for 'terrorism'.

US to publicize Khamenei's assets to prove Iranian support of terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall St falls as investors fret about tax bill passage.

World's richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half.

Rupert Murdoch reshapes media empire with $66bn Disney deal. Walt Disney buys Murdoch's Fox for $52.4bn.

As Bitcoin, other currencies soar, regulators urge caution.

US prosecutors confirm Uber target of criminal probe.

Vice President Pence Delays His Trip To The Middle East Because Of GOP Tax Vote



The Hill: Pence delays Israel trip over GOP tax bill

Vice President Pence will delay his trip to the Middle East as Congress prepares to vote on a major tax overhaul, his office said Thursday.

A Pence spokeswoman said the vice president plans to leave next week instead, so he can preside over the Senate during a vote on the tax bill.

“Yesterday, the White House informed Senate leadership that due to the historic nature of the vote in the Senate on tax cuts for millions of Americans, the vice president would stay to preside over the vote,” Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: With Senator McCain in hospital because of complications from his cancer treatment, and with Senator Corker hinting that he will not support the bill .... Vice President Pence's vote will be needed.

Update: Hmmmm .... maybe his vote will not be enough .... Rubio’s defection threatens Senate GOP’s margin on tax bill (AP)

More News On Vice President Pence Delaying His Trip To The Middle East Because Of GOP Tax Vote

Pence delays Israel trip to stay for possible Senate tiebreaker -- Politico
Pence delays Middle East trip in case needed for U.S. tax vote -- Reuters
Pence postpones Israel trip in case he's needed to vote on tax cuts -- Los Angeles Times
Pence Delays Middle East Trip Ahead of Nail-Biter Tax Vote -- Bloomberg

U.S. Presents Evidence Of Iranian Missiles Being Used By Houthi Rebels In Yemen



VOA: In a First, US Presents Evidence of Iran Weaponry from Yemen

WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday presented for the first time pieces of what it said were Iranian weapons supplied to the Iran-aligned Houthi militia in Yemen, describing it as conclusive evidence that Tehran was violating U.N. resolutions.

The arms included charred remnants of what the Pentagon said was an Iranian-made short-range ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Nov. 4 at King Khaled International Airport outside Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, as well as a drone and an anti-tank weapon recovered in Yemen by the Saudis.

Iran has denied supplying the Houthis with such weaponry and on Thursday described the arms displayed as "fabricated."

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Evidence Of Iranian Missiles Being Used By Houthi Rebels In Yemen

Haley unveils missile parts, says proof Iran arming Houthis -- AP
In first, U.S. presents its evidence of Iran weaponry from Yemen -- Reuters
Huthi missile fired at Saudi was 'made in Iran': Haley -- AFP
Iran supplied Yemen rebels with ballistic missile - US -- BBC
Haley says US has evidence Iran is violating UN resolution -- Politico
Haley: Missile debris 'proof' of Iran's UN violations -- CNN
Haley displays missile as evidence Iran violating nuclear deal -- NBC
Haley presents 'undeniable' evidence of Iran's support for Yemeni rebels -- The Hill
Haley Says Missile Parts Prove Iran Is Violating UN Resolutions -- Bloomberg
US gives evidence Iran supplied missiles that Yemen rebels fired at Saudi Arabia -- The Guardian
US rep to UN shows ‘evidence’ of Iran’s missile in Yemen, promises coalition against Tehran -- RT

Pentagon Reporting That F-22s Intercepted Russian Jets Over Syria And Had To Fire Warning Flares



CNN: US F-22s intercept Russian jets over Syria, fire warning flares

wo US F-22 stealth fighters intercepted two Russian aircraft Wednesday after the Russian jets crossed the Euphrates River in Syria, flying east of the "de-confliction line" that is supposed to separate Russian and US-led coalition aircraft operating over Syria, two US defense officials told CNN.

The US jets fired warning flares during the intercept of the two Russian Su-25 close air support jets according to the officials after they crossed the de-confliction line multiple times.

One of the officials said a Russian Su-35 fighter jet was also involved and that the aerial encounter lasted "several minutes."

The official said that coalition officers called their Russian counterparts about the incident via the pre-established de-confliction hotline.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russian media is reporting the Russian Su-35s were also involved in this incident.

Update: Here is the Russian response .... US F-22 was hampering Russian Su-25 jets to provide cover for aid convoy – MoD (RT).

More News On The Pentagon Reporting That F-22s Intercepted Russian Jets Over Syria And Were Forced To Fire Flares

Syria war: US and Russian jets spar over Syria -- BBC News
US fighter jets intercept Russian aircraft over Syria, Pentagon says -- CBS News
US intercepts Russian fighter jets over Syria -- The Hill
US fighter jets 'head-butt' Russian jets in Syria, US official says -- Fox News
US intercepts Russian jets over Syria, sends warning flares -- UPI.com
US jets intercept Russian planes over Syria and fire warning flares -- The Independent
F-22s Fire Warning Flares at Russian Jets in Coalition Territory -- Military.com
US F-22s intercept Russian fighters over Syria -- Stars and Stripes
American Fighter Jets 'Head-Butt' Russian Planes Over Syria: Reports -- The Epoch Times
US, Russia Militaries Discuss Close Call Between Their Jets Over Syria - CENTCOM -- Sputnik International

China Protests U.S. Navy Plans To Visit Taiwan

A live-fire drill using an aircraft carrier is seen carried out in the Bohai sea, China, December 11, 2016. Reuters

Reuters: China angered as U.S. considers navy visits to Taiwan

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) - China accused the United States on Thursday of interfering in its internal affairs and said it had lodged a complaint after U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law an act laying the groundwork for possible U.S. navy visits to self-ruled Taiwan.

Tensions have risen in recent days after a senior Chinese diplomat threatened China would invade Taiwan if any U.S. warships made port visits to the island which China claims as its own territory.

On Monday, Chinese jets carried out “island encirclement patrols” around Taiwan, with state media showing pictures of bombers with cruise missiles slung under their wings as they carried out the exercise.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Need I remind everyone of this .... China's U.S. Diplomat Threatens War If A U.S. Warship Docks In Taiwan (December 10, 2017)

More News On China Protesting U.S. Navy Plans To Visit Taiwan

Beijing protests over potential US warship visits to Taiwan -- South China Morning Post
China Accuses US of Meddling Over Potential US Navy Visits to Taiwan -- Voice of America
China fumes over potential US navy visits to Taiwan -- Times Of India
Beijing sends warning to US with a new aircraft carrier to patrol South China Sea -- The Times
US And China At Odds Over Taiwan Again As Trump Signs National Defense Bill Into Law -- The Daily Caller
China Outraged as US Plans Navy Visits to Taiwan -- Sputnik International

Sister Of Missing Crew Member Claims A Royal Navy Helicopter Was Chasing Her Brother's Argentine Submarine Before It Went Missing

Photo: This picture was tweeted by a Falkland Islands account, saying: '#ARASanJuan as she left port for the last time on Monday, Nov 13'

Daily Mail: MoD blasts claims that a Royal Navy helicopter was chasing an Argentine submarine when it went missing with 44 sailors on board as 'completely untrue'

* Sister of missing crew member said British helicopter chased missing submarine
* Roberto Daniel Medina messaged his sister saying aircraft was tracking them
* Jesica Medina also claimed of family members of crew were told similar stories
* But Ministry Of Defence has denied the claims and said it is 'compeltely untrue'

The Ministry of Defence has denied claims that a Royal Navy helicopter was chasing an Argentine submarine when it went missing.

Jesica Medina, the sister of one of the 44 missing sailors, Roberto Daniel Medina, claimed she had received a 'strange' message from her brother days before the vessel's last known communication.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Her comes the conspiracy theories.

More News On Sister Of Missing Crew Member Claiming A Royal Navy Helicopter Was Chasing Her Brother's Argentine Submarine Before It Went Missing

Argentina submarine chased by British helicopter before vanishing, sailor's sister claims -- Fox News
Missing Argentine Submarine Latest: Defense Ministry Denies Royal Navy Helicopter Chased Vessel -- International Business Times
Ministry of Defence denies claim made by sailor's sister that Royal Navy was chasing Argentine submarine -- Evening Standard
MoD Denies Claims That Missing Argentine Sub Was Being "Chased" By Royal Navy Helicopter -- Forces Network

Russian President Vladimir Putin: U.S. Now Gripped By 'Spymania' Over Russian Collusion With Donald Trump



Reuters: Putin says U.S. gripped by fabricated spymania, praises Trump

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the United States was in the grip of a fabricated spymania whipped up by President Donald Trump’s opponents but he thought battered U.S.-Russia relations would recover one day.

Putin, who said he was on first name terms with Trump, also praised the U.S. president for what he said were his achievements.

“I‘m not the one to evaluate the president’s work. That needs to be done by the voters, the American people,” Putin told his annual news conference in Moscow, in answer to a question.

Read more ....

More News On Russian President Putin's Remarks On Russian Collusion And Interference In The U.S. Presidential Election

Putin blasts accusations of 'meddling' in US election as 'spy hysteria' -- TASS
Putin: US hurts itself with invented Trump collusion case -- AP
Russia's Putin laments 'spymania' gripping Washington -- Reuters
Putin: Accusations Russia colluded with Trump damages US politics -- Politico.eu
Putin calls Russia-US contacts 'all invented' in annual press conference -- ABC News
Vladimir Putin calls U.S. election meddling claims ‘spy hysteria’ -- USA Today
'Why Do You Have This Spy Hysteria?' Putin Asks At Annual News Conference -- NPR
In Moscow, Vladimir Putin Calls Journalists 'Curious Bunch,' Claims Trump-Russia Collusion 'Invented' -- Newsweek
Putin blames Trump's 'opponents' for poor US-Russian relations -- Washington Post
Putin praises 'Donald' and says US is gripped by fabricated spymania -- Sydney Morning Herald
Vladimir Putin takes aim at claims of US election meddling in marathon press conference -- ABC Online
Putin: Trump’s political opponents blocking efforts to improve relations with Russia -- The Hill

Russian President Vladimir Putin Holds His Annual Press Conference -- News Roundup



TASS: Vladimir Putin's annual news conference

Russia's head of state is holding his annual news conference in Moscow

On Russia's economy and upcoming elections

Vladimir Putin believes that Russia must be a 21st century country with a hi-tech powered economy.

"Our GDP grew by 75% since 2000, while industrial production surged 70%, the processing industry grew at an accelerated pace," the president pointed out. Putin added that taxes have tripled since 2000, and the country's reserves have increased 30-fold.

“Russia must keep its eyes fixed on the future. It must be up-to-date. Its political system must be flexible and its economy must be built on high technology," he told the annual news conference. "Labor productivity must grow many times."

Read more ....

Russian President Vladimir Putin Holds His Annual Press Conference -- News Roundup

Russian President Vladimir Putin's Annual Press Conference in Full (VIDEO) -- Sputnik
From Trump to Russian 2018 Election: Key Takeaways From Putin's Press Conference -- Sputnik
Live Blog: President Putin's 2017 End-of-Year Press Conference -- The Moscow Times
Main issues raised by President Putin during his annual news conferences -- TASS
Putin to run for new term as an independent -- RT
Putin vows to run as independent candidate in 2018 race -- TASS
Putin says will run as independent candidate for new Kremlin term -- Reuters
Putin, ahead of election, says opposition would destabilize Russia -- Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds court on re-election, claims of collusion and North Korea during annual press conference -- SCMP
Putin warns against U.S. strike on North Korea -- Reuters
Putin says stronger Russia-China ties a major boon for everyone -- Reuters
Putin on Kurdistan’s future: Iraqi sovereignty and laws must be respected -- TASS
Putin: Poland should turn page on plane crash that killed president -- Reuters
Putin praises Chechen leader for saving children in Middle East -- TASS
Putin suggests U.S. drugged whistleblower who exposed Russia's Olympic doping regime -- National Post/AP
Putin Praises Trump’s Achievements, Says He Calls Him ‘Donald’ -- Bloomberg

Doctors Without Borders: 6700 Rohingya Killed In First Month Of Myanmar Army Crackdown



VOA: Report: Nearly 7,000 Rohingya Muslims Killed in First Month of Army Crackdown

Doctors Without Borders says at least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in the first month of a brutal army crackdown on Rohingya rebels.

The Geneva-based international aid group, commonly known by its French acronym MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), says Thursday it came up with its estimate after conducting a survey of several Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. The group says its estimated death toll includes at least 730 children younger than 5.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are some who believe the death toll is much higher .... The Actual Rohingya Death Toll Is 22 Times Higher Than Official Estimate, Survey Shows (HuffPost).



More News On The Report From Doctors Without Borders That6700 Rohingya Were Killed In The First Month Of The Myanmar Army Crackdown

Aid group: At least 6,700 Rohingya killed in Myanmar -- AP
6,700 Rohingya killed in first month of Myanmar violence: MSF -- AFP
Aid group says shocking number of Rohingyas killed in 2 months -- CBS News
Rohingya death toll likely above 10,000, MSF says amid exodus -- ABC News Online
6,700 Rohingya Muslims killed in one month in Myanmar, MSF says -- The Guardian
6700 Rohingya killed in first month of Myanmar crackdown, MSF reports -- CNN
MSF: More than 6,700 Rohingya killed in Myanmar -- Al Jazeera

World News Briefs -- December 14, 2017



Reuters: China says war must not be allowed on Korean peninsula

BEIJING (Reuters) - War must not be allowed to break out on the Korean peninsula and the issue must be resolved through talks, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday, while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the danger of “sleepwalking” into conflict.

Xi made his comments to visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in just days after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered to begin direct talks with North Korea without pre-conditions.

But the White House said on Wednesday that no negotiations could be held until North Korea improved its behavior. The White House has declined to say whether President Donald Trump, who has taken a tougher rhetorical line toward North Korea, approved Tillerson’s overture.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

UN Syria envoy urges Putin to have ‘courage’ to push Assad.

UN: Syria's Ghouta faces 'complete catastrophe'.

UN chief: Iran may be defying UN on missiles, OK on nukes.

Hamas marks 30-year anniversary with Gaza rally.

Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket fire.

Netanyahu: OIC Jerusalem statement fails to impress us.

Turkish coast guard in dramatic rescue of stranded migrants.

Pence Middle East trip to go ahead.

ASIA

Rohingya death toll likely above 10,000, MSF says amid exodus. 6,700 Rohingya Muslims killed in one month in Myanmar, MSF says.

South Korean President Moon in China on visit to repair ties. N Korea threat high on agenda of S Korea-China talks.

China constructing North Korean border refugee camps in preparation for disaster: leaked report.

China summons Australia's ambassador over influence row.

China's central bank raises interest rates after Fed rise.

India PM Modi's party seen sweeping state polls in popularity boost.

Fortified by family and China cash, Cambodia's strongman digs in.

AFRICA

Macron calls for Sahel force against armed groups.

Boko Haram tries to take over military base in NE Nigeria.

Somalia: Suicide bomber hits Mogadishu police academy. Somalia suicide bomber kills police at Mogadishu academy.

German naval vessel rescues more than 100 migrants off Libyan coast.

Congolese fighters convicted of raping young girls in landmark case. Militiamen jailed in DR Congo's Kavumu for raping 40 children.

Zimbabwe’s new leader begins journey to key 2018 election.

Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president, suffers double court blow.

EUROPE

Putin says will run as independent candidate for new Kremlin term.

Vladimir Putin takes aim at claims of US election meddling in marathon press conference. Putin: Trump opponents harm US with 'invented' Russia scandal.

EU leaders wrestle with migrant quotas at summit.

British troops breached Geneva conventions in Iraq, high court rules.

Theresa May: We're on course to deliver Brexit despite vote.

EU’s Tusk warns of bruising Brexit battle ahead, urges unity.

Brexit: Paris steps up efforts to lure London firms.

Eurozone economy to grow at faster rate, says central bank.

AMERICAS

Republicans forge tax deal, final votes seen next week.

‘Petro’-bolivar: Venezuela to launch oil-backed cryptocurrency. Venezuelans seeing bitcoin boom as survival, not speculation.

Mexico: murders of women rise sharply as drug war intensifies.

Mexico’s proposed security law draws strong criticism.

Colombia's main gang declares unilateral ceasefire.

Ecuador VP Jorge Glas sentenced for corruption in Odebrecht case.

Human foot found on Canada shoreline – the 13th such discovery in a decade.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Terrorism not a ‘systemic threat’ to UK says former MI6 head.

Iraq hangs 38 members of IS, Qaeda for 'terrorism'.

US to publicize Khamenei's assets to prove Iranian support of terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Rupert Murdoch reshapes media empire with $66bn Disney deal. Walt Disney buys Murdoch's Fox for $52.4bn.

As Bitcoin, other currencies soar, regulators urge caution.

US prosecutors confirm Uber target of criminal probe.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 14, 2017

YouTube

South China Morning Post: Chinese navy starts live-fire drill off North Korean waters as tensions over nuclear programme escalate

PLA Navy carrying out four-day operation as the United States and its allies conduct similar exercises in the region

China is conducting a live-fire exercise off the North Korean peninsula as concerns over the security situation on the peninsula rise.

The drill in the Bohai Sea was due to start on Thursday afternoon and will last until 4pm next Monday, according to a notice issued by the Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration.

The administration marked out a rectangular prohibited area in the waters west of Lushun in Liaoning province, an important naval base for the People’s Liberation Army’s North Sea Fleet, which is responsible for defending the Bohai and Yellow Seas off the Korean peninsula.

In response to North Korea’s rapidly increasing missile threat, the United States, South Korea and Japan are also currently holding a joint exercise in the East China Sea.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 14, 2017

Russia and China Military Drills Target Both North Korea and U.S. -- Newsweek

North Korea Might Possess Atomic Bomb, Kim Jong Il's Photograph Suggests -- International Business Times

North Korean WMD Is Not Just Nuclear -- Bart Marcois, OpsLens ·

Russia, North Korea military commission starts first meeting in Pyongyang: RIA -- Reuters

China to build monsters of the sky with Ukraine company -- Asia Times

Xi stresses army restructuring to enhance combat readiness -- Xinhuanet

China targets export market with latest submarine designs -- Jane's 360

Engine Woes for Russia's New Su-57 Stealth Fighter -- Dave Majumdar, National Interest

Serbia turns to Russia for air defense systems, helo procurement -- Defense News

US Military and NATO May Now Target Russia With Cyber Weapons, Marking Huge Policy Change -- Newsweek

NATO's Stoltenberg says EU and NATO stronger together -- Reuters

Our new aircraft carrier could sink the U.K. defence budget without firing a shot -- Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian

U.S. Prepares to Help Afghans Train, Sustain Divested Black Hawks -- National Defense

Saudi-backed military alliance to help G5 Sahel fight: minister -- Reuters

Exclusive: U.S. suspends aid to Somalia's battered military over graft -- Reuters

US Africa Command leader orders new probe into Somalia raid -- Military Times

US announces new assistance to Lebanese military -- FOX News/AP

US Forces Japan lifts alcohol ban and curfew for troops -- Navy Times

Report: Lax security allowed suicide bomber to kill 5 on Bagram Airfield -- Army Times

Navy to equip T-45 jets with new system after oxygen issues -- The Hill

Loose Screw Likely Caused Marine Harrier Crash Off Carolina Coast -- DoD Buzz

Army & Marine Corps Merge Missiles, Attack Planes & Radar Nodes -- Scout Warrior

Fire Scout to Serve as Forward Spotter for Navy Surface Ships With Addition of Radar, Datalink -- USNI News

Missile Defense Agency Looking to Intercept Ballistic Targets Earlier During Boost Phase -- USNI News

US Navy's Most Advanced Destroyers to Get New Primary Anti-Ship Mission -- The Diplomat

Marines plan to experiment with autonomous helicopters -- Marine Times

Trump just made a 355-ship Navy national policy -- Defense News

A US Aircraft Carriers 2 Greatest Foes (And No, Not North Korea, China or Russia) -- The National Interest

Army vows to reinvigorate electronic warfare by combining it with cyber, intelligence functions -- Federal News Radio

Allies Are Key, Says Trump’s National Security Strategy -- Defense One

Corker says panel likely won't take up war authorization before 2018 -- The Hill

Advocacy groups sue US military for sexual assault records -- ABC News

Hard Lessons from America’s Longest Wars -- James Kitfield, Breaking Defense

North Korean TV Footage Shows What Appears The Country's First Ever Atomic Bombs

A picture caught in the background of state propaganda appears to show late leader Kim Jong-il inspecting what could be a nuclear bomb

BBC: North Korean TV appears to show early 'A-bomb photo'

North Korean TV footage of an arms and munitions industry conference appears to show the country's former leader Kim Jong-il inspecting one of the country's first ever atomic bombs.

A 30-minute bulletin showing the 12 December conference in the capital Pyongyang has North Korea watchers agog at the picture's appearance in the conference hall.

The photograph, never before seen in the West, is visible for only a few seconds as the camera sets the scene for the industry conference, attended by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, the son of the late Kim Jong-il. It hangs among others showing North Korea's "achievements" in arms production, alongside scale models of ballistic missiles.

Read more ....

Update: North Korea Might Possess Atomic Bomb, Kim Jong Il’s Photograph Suggests (IBTimes)

WNU Editor: The first nuclear test was in 2006 during Kim Jong-il's rule. So it should not surprise anyone that he would have wanted to document this achievement.

Reports: North Korea's Second Most Powerful Man Has Been Executed

Hwang Pyong-so(right)stands with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. Yonhap

Daily Mail: Has Kim executed another top aide? Former confidante vanishes after reports he was punished for his 'impudence' towards North Korean leader

* Hwang Pyong-So vanished in a purge of senior North Korean military figures
* Dictator Kim Jong-un's former confidante was punished for his 'impudence'
* South Korean media say it is not clear whether Hwang is even still alive

One of Kim Jong-un's top aides has not been seen for months and may even have been executed after being accused of 'impudence', it has been claimed.

Kim's former confidante Hwang Pyong-So vanished as part of a purge of senior military figures in North Korea during a bid by the dictator to reduce the influence of the powerful army.

Hwang, the head of the military's powerful General Political Bureau, was once seen as the second most powerful man in the secretive country.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Usually when a senior official disappears in a Stalinist regime .... the reasons are never good. Is this the case for General Hwang Pyong-So? I guess we will find out soon enough.

More News On Reports That North Korea's Second Most Powerful Man Has Been Executed

Has North Korean leader Kim Jong-un executed one of his top aides? -- The Telegraph
Telegraph
KIM PURGES PALS… AGAIN Kim Jong-un’s death squads ‘executed second most powerful man in North Korea General Hwang Pyong-so’ days after leader’s visit to a sacred mountain ‘predicted’ a blood-letting -- SKY News
Kim Jong-un’s top man VANISHES – and may have been EXECUTED -- Daily Star
One of Kim Jong-un's top aides has disappeared as bribery and execution rumours swirl -- IBTimes

Here Are Some Global Threats To Watch In 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides a target-striking contest of the special operation forces of the Korean People's Army (KPA) to occupy islands in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on August 25, 2017.KCNA via Reuters

Ben Brimelow, Business Insider: The 8 biggest global threats to watch in 2018

2017 saw a number of predictions on global security become reality.

Now, with 2017 coming to a close, many people are wondering what 2018's biggest global threats will be.

The Council on Foreign Relations recently released their list of the top global threats to watch in 2018 and it covers brewing crises around the world.

CFR asked experts to rank 30 ongoing or potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring or escalating in the next year. These experts identified eight "top-tier" risks, many of which involve the US.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: No arguments from me on this list.

Iran’s Cyber Warfare Program Is Now A Major Threat To The United States


Dorothy Denning, The Conversaton: Following the developing Iranian cyberthreat

Iran is one of the leading cyberspace adversaries of the United States. It emerged as a cyberthreat a few years later than Russia and China and has so far demonstrated less skill. Nevertheless, it has conducted several highly damaging cyberattacks and become a major threat that will only get worse.

Like Russia and China, the history of Iran’s cyberspace operations begins with its hackers. But unlike these other countries, Iran openly encourages its hackers to launch cyberattacks against its enemies. The government not only recruits hackers into its cyberforces but supports their independent operations.

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Update: Iran’s cybersecurity threat on the increase (Dr. Majid Rafizadeh)

WNU Editor: The Iranians have been a threat for a long time .... Iran Blamed For This Summer's Cyber Attack Against The British Parliament (October 14, 2017). More here .... Iran Resumes Its Cyber War On Saudi Arabia (February 23, 2017).

US Army Will Soon Send Teams Of Cyber Warriors To The Battlefield

"The right team members will not always come out of traditional recruiting and commission programs," Gen. Raymond Thomas said. (U.S. Army)

AFP: US military to send cyber soldiers to the battlefield

Washington (AFP) - The US Army will soon send teams of cyber warriors to the battlefield, officials said Wednesday, as the military increasingly looks to take the offensive against enemy computer networks.

While the Army's mission is generally to "attack and destroy," the cyber troops have a slightly different goal, said Colonel Robert Ryan, who commands a Hawaii-based combat team.

"Not everything is destroy. How can I influence by non-kinetic means? How can I reach up and create confusion and gain control?" he told reporters.

The cyber soldiers have been integrated for six months in infantry units, and will tailor operations according to commanders' needs, said Colonel William Hartman of the Army's Cyber Command.

The Army has for the past three years conducted training for such operations at a huge center in southern California.

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Update: U.S. Commanders Must Embrace Cyber, Special Ops Chief Says (US Department of Defense)

WNU Editor: I do not see these units being helpful in conflicts like what is happening in Afghanistan. But against more sophisticated adversaries (like Russia and China) .... in the event of a conflict there is probably some value.

For The First Time In A Decade U.S. Marines Are Practicing A Full-Scale Air, Sea And Ground Assault

Marines with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214 remove ordnance from an AV-8B Harrier II at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 29. Marines prepared several Harriers to support Winter Fury 18, which spans several locations including Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar and MCAS Yuma, Ariz. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nadia J. Stark/Released)

Orange County Register: Marines practicing full-scale air, sea and ground assault on Southern California bases

CAMP PENDELTON — A war game exercise that deploys a battalion-size air, sea and ground assault is playing out across Marine Corps bases in Southern California this week.

The exercise, which includes more than 20,000 Marines from the 1st Marine Division and more than 600 Marine aviators and their crews, is taking place at San Clemente Island, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Camp Pendleton and at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

It combines the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s “Winter Fury” exercise with the 1st Marine Division’s “Steel Knight” training. Both are held annually to prepare Marines for worldwide threats and to sharpen their skills for upcoming deployments. But the combined exercise is the first in more than a decade, military officials say.

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WNU Editor: It must be quite entertaining to see all of this action happening in southern California.