Wednesday, January 18, 2017

President Obama Updates New Rules On How The CIA Conducts Citizen Surveillance

John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, this month. He signed new rules governing the agency’s power to gather and use information about Americans. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times

Washington Post: CIA reveals new rules for handling information on Americans

The Obama administration has imposed new privacy restrictions on the CIA that are designed to limit its use of information on Americans — changes that the agency made public just two days before President-elect Donald Trump is to take office.

CIA officials described the changes as a comprehensive update to guidelines that have been in place since the early 1980s, adapting those rules for an age when sensitive data about Americans is increasingly abundant online and vulnerable to being swept up by U.S. intelligence agencies.

One of the new provisions requires the CIA to purge certain types of information that it gathers overseas — including communications that might involve U.S. individuals — from its systems within five years. There was no previous restriction on how long the agency could keep such materials, officials said.

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WNU Editor: This is being done with just 2 days left in his administration?!?!?!

More News On President Obama Updating New Rules On How The CIA Conducts Citizen Surveillance

Obama Updates C.I.A. Rules for Handling Americans’ Information -- New York Times
CIA unveils new rules for collecting information on Americans -- Reuters
CIA publishes guidelines for handling Americans' info -- AP
CIA cites new rules on protecting privacy -- AFP
CIA, In a First, Divulges Procedures for Information on Citizens -- WSJ
The CIA Just Published Its Updated Rules on Citizen Surveillance -- Time
CIA New Rules Allow Operatives to Remain Covert Within US Organizations -- Sputnik

US Congresswoman Gabbard Makes A Secret Trip To Syria

Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. CNN

AFP: US congresswoman Gabbard makes secret Syria trip

Washington (AFP) - A US congresswoman made a rare secret visit to Syria as part of her effort toward ending the years-long conflict in the Middle Eastern nation, her office said Wednesday.

House Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, made a fact-finding mission to the capital Damascus despite continued fighting in the war-torn country in contravention of a frail ceasefire.

"As an individual committed to doing all she can to promote and work for peace, she felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees and government and community leaders," said Gabbard spokeswoman Emily Latimer.

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WNU Editor: Purely a gut feeling .... but my "Spidey-sense" is telling me that this is not a solo trip by her to Syria, but she is acting at the request of the President-elect to go there and give a personal message to Syrian President Assad (unofficially) .... Trump eyeing Democrat rebel Tulsi Gabbard for administration (Washington Times)

More News On US Congresswoman Gabbard Making A Secret Trip To Syria

Democratic Rep. Gabbard Makes Secret Trip to Syria -- Foreign Policy
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard makes unannounced trip to Syria -- Washington Post
Gabbard won't disclose who's paying for secret trip to Syria -- Politico
The GOP’s Favorite Democrat Goes to Syria -- The Atlantic
Gabbard makes secret trip to Syria -- The Hill
Syria: Democrat Tulsi Gabbard meeting President Bashar Assad? -- International Business Times

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump Plans To Keep On Tweeting When He Takes Office On Friday

Reuters: One habit Trump says he will keep as president: tweeting

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump plans to select the media representatives who are given access to the presidential press briefing room, but will not move the room out of the White House, he said in interview with Fox News broadcast on Wednesday.

Trump, whose election campaign was punctuated by a stream of Twitter messages, also said he plans to keep tweeting when he takes office on Friday.

"Look, I don't like tweeting. I have other things I could be doing. But I get very dishonest media, very dishonest press. And it's my only way that I can counteract," said the Republican president-elect.

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WNU Editor: This is a tough one. On the one hand .... the Presidency is special .... communications, policies, opinions .... there should be some judgement before they are made. Twitter does not make this possible .... you cannot take back your off-the-cuff remark/opinion/comment. But on the other hand .... I do like this personal connection .... that if the U.S. President has something to say .... I will know it right away instead of being told about it through the filter of the media. Will President-elect Trump keep on tweeting .... I would not be surprised. The media is not going to change their opinion of him, and he will always want that connection with his supporters. President-Elect Trump's tweeter page is here.

President Obama Vows To Be Vocal On The Issues After He Has Left Office

President Obama spoke during his final news conference in the White House briefing room on Wednesday. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

New York Times: Obama Vows to Speak Out on ‘Core Values’ After Office

WASHINGTON — President Obama made clear on Wednesday that he would not go silent after leaving office this week, promising to speak out whenever he feels America’s “core values” are threatened.

While he said he was looking forward to taking a break from politics, Mr. Obama said at the final news conference of his presidency that certain major issues would be important enough to draw him out of retirement and back into the national conversation after President-elect Donald J. Trump takes over on Friday.

“There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” he said. “I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least, I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them somewhere else, when they love this country.”

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WNU Editor: He will have his friends and allies in the media giving him a voice .... but it is not the same if you are President .... a fact that I suspect is going to hit him hard a few months from now.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- Janury 18, 2017

New York Times: Obama’s Last News Conference: Full Transcript and Video

The following is the full transcript of a news conference that President Obama held in Washington on Wednesday, as prepared by the Federal News Service.

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Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 18, 2017

Was Barack Obama a transformative president? -- Linda Feldmann, CSM

Obama should give back his Nobel -- Scott Jennings, USA Today

The American Epoch is over. It ended on Obama’s watch -- Terry Glavin, National Post

How To Salvage U.S.-Russia Relations: One Expert's Take -- Lucian Kim, NPR

What Happens Next In The Baltics? -- Claude Schmid, Strategy Bridge

Theresa May's Brexit Plan: I Want, I Want, I Want -- Christoph Scheuermann, Spiegel Online

At Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, empty shops echo a country's deepening strains -- Scott Peterson, CSM

Purges Have Weakened Once Mighty Turkish Military -- Peter Müller and Maximilian Popp, Spiegel Online

What I’ve witnessed in Turkey is an assault on democracy itself -- Owen Jones, The Guardian

Is Myanmar on the Path to Genocide? -- Michael Hart, The Diplomat

A Chinese Model for the Global Economy -- Xi Jinping. RCW

The Empty Trump Administration -- Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg

Trump isn't the first president to distrust US intelligence -- Peter Grier, Bloomberg

The CIA’s Secret History Is Now Online -- Jason Leopold, Buzzfeed

CIA publishes its history, nearly 13 million pages of documents online -- Paul P. Murphy, CNN

World News Briefs -- January 18, 2017 (Evening Edition)

BBC: Senegal troops move to Gambia border as Jammeh faces ultimatum

Senegal has moved troops towards the Gambian border in an effort to force President Yahya Jammeh to accept electoral defeat and step down.

Senegal is leading the operation, which is supported by Nigeria and other states in the region.

Mr Jammeh has been told to leave office by the end of Wednesday and hand over to last month's election winner, Adama Barrow, who is currently in Senegal.

Mr Jammeh has ruled The Gambia since taking power in a coup in 1994.

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U.S. officials say Sizable Arab force identified for Raqqa campaign.

Russia-Turkey carried out first joint air operation in al-Bab.

Iraq announces 'liberation' of east Mosul.

Mosul battle: Iraqi army prepares offensive on west of city. Iraqi general sees easier battles in western Mosul, American sees opposite.

As caliphate crumbles, Islamic State lashes out in Iraq.

Key rebel group to stay away from Syria peace talks.

Iran 'hostile' to US involvement in Syria talks.

Syrian government rejects Qatari, Saudi role in talks: report.

Turkey seeks arrest of 243 military personnel in ongoing crackdown.

Fatah and Hamas to form unity government.

Israeli policeman and Bedouin killed during clashes over demolitions.

Saudi Minister welcomes Trump's vow to contain Iran, fight IS.

Iran's Rouhani says Donald Trump's talk about renegotiating nuclear agreement 'meaningless'. Iran to reserve judgment on Trump before he takes office.


First 'Silk Road' train arrives in UK from China.

Pakistan forces kill new leader of banned sectarian militant group.

India's currency swap sees economy take a hit, but most remain supportive of anti-graft objective.

Prospect of warming US-Russia ties worries China.

China urges U.S. to bar Taiwan delegation from Trump inauguration.

Philippines' Duterte says won't declare martial law, but can if wants to.

Philippine Church speaks out on drug killings.

E. Timor to hold presidential poll in March.

Australia says suspended MH370 search could resume in future.


African troops on standby as Gambia deadline looms. Regional troops move toward Gambia amid political standoff.

Gambia's Yahya Jammeh declares state of emergency.

Nigerian airstrike targeting Boko Haram mistakenly bombs camp, killing 100 refugees and aid workers: officials.

Death toll in Mali suicide blast rises to more than 50. Mali car bomb 'kills at least 37 people' in Gao. Suicide blast kills 33 at north Mali military camp.

Al-Shabab video shows purported execution of Ugandan soldier.

Malta wants EU-Libyan patrols to stop boat migrants.

Ivory Coast begins paying bonuses to mutinous soldiers.

Egyptian football star Mohamed Aboutrika placed on 'terror' list.


Anxious European leaders seek an early audience with Trump.

Ukrainian president calls for global response to Russian threat.

Joe Biden tells Davos: Russia 'trying to collapse' liberal order. Biden calls Russia biggest threat to international order.

Snowden just got his asylum extended, surely won’t be ‘gifted’ to Trump – Moscow. Edward Snowden's leave to remain in Russia extended for three years.

Details of roundup of suspected Chechen extremists unclear, contradictory.

Greece sees progress on Cyprus, says Turkey should drop 'aggressive' talk.

German cabinet proposes 24 September election date.

Hungary set to turn screws on Soros-backed NGOs.

Multiple earthquakes hit central Italy.


Obama at final press conference: ‘We’re going to be OK’. Obama warns Trump, tells supporters 'we'll be okay'.

Obama: 'Return to adversarial spirit' worsened Russia-US relationship.

Obama defends Chelsea Manning commutation.

Despite showman reputation, Trump inauguration shaping up as low-key.

Schedule of events for Trump's inauguration.

Trump's protectionist policies top risk to U.S. economy in 2017: Reuters poll.

With clemency for Manning, attention turns to WikiLeaks head.

Ex-US president George H.W. Bush hospitalized: reports.

US, Mexico, Cuba ready to sign 'Doughnut Hole' deal in Gulf waters.

Mexico violence: Four killed in Cancun gunfight.


As Donald Trump takes over, a diminished ISIS awaits.

Pentagon identifies 10 Gitmo detainees sent to Oman.

The White House won't rule out more Guantanamo releases this week.

Istanbul nightclub attacker says was directed by Islamic State: report.


US Federal Reserve sees growth pickup at end of last year.

Rising U.S. shale-oil output threatens OPEC’s production pact.

OPEC output inches down after November deal.

Business group: China preparing to retaliate on trade.

Israel's New Anti-Ballistic Missile System Now Operational

An ''Arrow 3'' ballistic missile interceptor is seen during its test launch near Ashdod, Israel December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Reuters: Israel deploys 'Star Wars' missile killer system

Israel's upgraded ballistic missile shield became operational on Wednesday, in a "Star Wars"-like extension of its capabilities to outer space where incoming missiles can be safely destroyed.

The Defence Ministry said the U.S.-funded Arrow 3 system, jointly developed by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries and U.S. firm Boeing Co. (BA.N), was handed over the Israeli Air Force.

The Arrow 3, together with the Arrow 2, which has been operational since 2000, would "significantly reduce the possibilities of ballistic missiles" hitting Israel, the ministry said in a statement.

The Arrow 2 is designed to intercept projectiles high and low within the atmosphere. Arrow 3 missiles will fly into space, where their warheads detach to become "kamikaze" satellites that track and slam into their targets.

Read more ....

More News On Israel's New Anti-Ballistic Missile System Becoming Operational

Israel expands missile defense system with new interceptor -- AP
Israeli military unveils new ballistic missile interceptors -- AFP
Israel Air Force Receives First Arrow 3 Missile Defense Rockets -- Haaretz
'Arrow 3' missile defense system delivered to Air Force -- YNet News
Watch: Israel enters 'new era' of missile defense with Arrow-3 -- Jerusalem Post
Air force gets first Arrow 3 missile defense battery -- Times of Israel
Israel Enters 'New Era' With Arrow 3 Anti-Ballistic Missiles -- Sputnik

Russian Foreign Minister: UK, Germany, & France ‘Grossly Interfered’ In US Election

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov. © Iliya Pitalev/Sputnik

RT: UK, Germany, & France ‘grossly interfered’ in US election – Russian FM

Leaders and top officials from the UK, Germany, and France have “grossly interfered” in US internal affairs, “campaigned” for Hillary Clinton, and openly “demonized” Donald Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Speaking at a press conference following a meeting with Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz, Lavrov said Moscow “is tired" of accusations it meddled in the US election.

In fact, Lavrov said, it is time to “acknowledge the fact” that it was the other way around.

“US allies have grossly interfered in America’s internal affairs, in the election campaign,” Lavrov said.

“We noticed that Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Theresa May, and other European leaders” did so. He added that official representatives of some of the European countries did not mince words, and essentially “demonized” Donald Trump during the election campaign.

In August last year, German Foreign Minister Frank Walther Steinmeier called Trump a “hate preacher.”

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Update: Russia Snaps, Accuses UK, Germany And France Of "Grossly Interfering" In The US Election (Zero Hedge).

WNU Editor: While doing this blog I lost count on how many times European leaders and politicians unloaded on Trump .... and the media frenzy that followed. Can this be labeled as interference in the U.S. election .... apparently not. But leaked emails that expose how the Democrat primary was fixed are labeled as election interference .... that the Russians are to be blamed for it (even though no evidence has been made public to prove these allegations) .... and that this in turn makes President-elect Trump illegitimate.

The Battle For The Iraqi Cty Of Mosul -- News Updates January 18, 2017

The Guardian: Iraq has retaken east Mosul from Isis, says army general

Lt Gen Talib Shaghati says government troops are in ‘full control’ of eastern part of Iraq’s second largest city

Iraqi government troops say they are in “full control” of east Mosul three months into a major operation to recapture the country’s second city, despite some Islamic State fighters remaining along the Tigris river.

The Iraqi army’s Lt Gen Talib Shaghati, who commands the counter-terrorism forces, hailed what he called a “big victory” and told reporters that plans were now being drawn up to retake the Isis-held western part of the city. He did not elaborate on when that part of the operation would begin.

Sheghati added however that while the east of the city could be considered under government control, some work remained to flush out the last Isis fighters. “Important lines and important areas are finished ... there is only a bit of the northern (front) remaining,” he said at a press conference.

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WNU Editor: The next phase on the battle to liberate Mosul is being prepared .... Mosul battle: Iraqi army prepares offensive on west of city (BBC). More here .... Iraqi forces preparing to capture west Mosul after east mostly seized (UPI).

The Battle For The Iraqi City Of Mosul -- News Updates January 18, 2017

Iraq special forces chief says mission accomplished in east Mosul -- Reuters
Iraq announces 'liberation' of east Mosul -- AFP
Iraq military says it's gained 'full control' of eastern Mosul -- AP
Iraqi forces liberate eastern Mosul from Islamic State group -- France 24
Iraqi Forces Retake Eastern Mosul -- VOA
Battle for Mosul: Iraqi forces announce entire east of Mosul liberated from Isis -- International Business Times
Iraq's military has retaken half of Mosul from ISIS -- VICE News
Life returns to Mosul neighborhoods freed from IS -- DW
Iraqi Forces Fight to Recapture Mosul Block by Block (Photo Gallery) -- NBC
Key dates in battle for Mosul -- AFP

President Obama Holds His Final Press Conference (Live)

Russia And Turkey Join Forces For The First Time To Launch Airstrikes Against The Islamic State In Syria

DW: Russia and Turkey join forces to launch airstrikes against militants in Syria

The joint attack is the latest example of Moscow co-opting a key NATO member as it tries to, again, become a superpower. Russian led peace talks are due to convene in Kazakhstan next week without the UN or the US.

Russian and Turkish war planes joined forces to bomb Islamic State (IS) militant targets in a suburb of war-ravaged Aleppo.

Russian Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi said Wednesday that the bombing of al-Bab, a town about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Aleppo, marked the first time the two country's air forces had teamed up in such a manner.

Rudskoi, a senior Russian Defense Ministry official, said on television that the Syrian government agreed to the joint assault.

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More News On Russia And Turkey Joining Forces For The First Time To Launch Airstrikes Against The Islamic State In Syria

Syria conflict: Russia and Turkey 'in first joint air strikes on IS' -- BBC
Russia, Turkey stage first joint air strikes against IS in Syria -- AFP
Russia says teams up with Turkey for first time to bomb Syrian militants -- Reuters
Russian and Turkish jets 'bomb ISIL' in Syria's Al Bab -- Al Jazeera
Russia and Turkey 'conduct first joint air strikes against Isil' -- The Telegraph
Turkey, Russia carry out first joint air op against Daesh terrorists in Syria's al-Bab -- Daily Sabah
Russia, Turkey hit ISIL in first joint air operation in Syria’s al-Bab: Report -- Hurriyet Daily News
Turkish General Staff Praises First Joint Airstrikes With Russia in Al-Bab -- Sputnik
Russian, Turkish Air Forces conduct first joint anti-ISIS op in Syria -- RT

Suicide Bomb Attacks Kill Over 50 In Mali

BBC: Mali car bomb 'kills at least 50 people' in Gao

At least 50 people have been killed in northern Mali in a car bomb attack on a military base, officials say.

A vehicle packed with explosives detonated at a camp housing soldiers and members of rival armed groups in the region's main city, Gao.

Mali's northern desert region has been restive since it was captured by militant Islamists in late 2012.

Despite French military intervention in 2013, the region remains tense with sporadic attacks and kidnappings.

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More News On Today's Suicide Bomb Attacks In Mali

Mali car bomb kills 50 in fresh blow to peace -- AFP
Mali suicide bomber kills at least 50 people in Gao military camp -- The Guardian/AP
Suicide blast kills more than 40 in northern Mali military camp -- Reuters
Suicide blast kills dozens at army base in Mali's Gao -- Al Jazeera
More than 50 killed in suicide bombing at Mali military base -- SKY News
Dozens die in Mali base suicide bombing -- DW
Death Toll in Mali Military Base Attack Rises to 47, Including 5 Suicide Bombers -- Sputnik

U.S. Vice President Biden: 'Liberal International World Order' Is At Risk Of Collapse

Time: Joe Biden Is Warning About the Collapse of the ‘World Order’ as He Says Goodbye

"This is a moment to lead boldly"

Vice President Joe Biden warned Wednesday that the “liberal international world order” is at risk of collapse, using his final speech to global leaders to frame the stakes on the world stage as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office.

Biden urged leaders in Europe and the U.S. to defend democracies against dangers that he said include Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden, in remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland reported by CNBC, said Putin “has a different vision of the future,” and he accused the Russian leader of trying to “roll back decades of progress.”

Read more ...

More News On U.S. Vice president Biden's Speech At The World Economic Forum

Joe Biden tells Davos: Russia 'trying to collapse' liberal order -- BBC
Biden calls Russia biggest threat to international order -- Reuters
Biden hits Putin's Russia in final address as VP -- AFP
Biden Takes Aim at Putin in Final 48 Hours as Vice President -- Bloomberg
In an epic final speech, Joe Biden warns that the progressive democratic world order is at risk of collapse -- CNBC
Biden Warns Of Russian Threat To World Order, Election Meddling -- RFE

Gambia's President Refuses To Relinquish Power

NYT: Gambia Shudders as Defeated Leader Tightens Grip Before Inauguration

BANJUL, Gambia — President Yahya Jammeh once predicted that his rule could last a billion years.

Now, the fate of his nation is hanging on one more anxiety-filled day.

After acknowledging defeat in an election last month, Mr. Jammeh abruptly changed his mind, refusing to step aside for the inauguration of the new president scheduled for Thursday and threatening to drag the nation into a bloody standoff.

Mr. Jammeh, who has long been criticized for human rights abuses and grandiose claims like being able to cure AIDS with little more than prayer and a banana, has insisted on a do-over election. He declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, warning the nation not to engage in any “acts of disobedience.”

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More News On The Crisis In Gambia

Gambia parliament extends President Jammeh’s term amid political crisis -- France 24
Gambia MPs extend President Jammeh's term -- Al Jazeera
The Gambia's Yahya Jammeh's term extended by parliament -- BBC
Gambia leader’s term extended as tourists are evacuated -- AP
Gambia's Jammeh can stay in office for three months: national assembly -- Reuters
Gambia Declares State Of Emergency As Leader Refuses To Cede Power -- NPR
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh declares state of emergency -- DW
Gambian president declares state of emergency before opponent sworn in -- The Guardian
Gambia's Yahya Jammeh declares state of emergency -- Al Jazeera
Gambia political crisis: What happens next? -- BBC