Thursday, July 19, 2018

Picture Of The Day

One artist's rendering of what a future Air Force One could possibly, maybe, potentially look like. (Staff illustration)

WNU Editor: I could not resist. The above picture is from here .... Making Air Force One great again (Charlsy Panzino, Air Force Times).

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed And Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki Will Win This Year's Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopia's Prime minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerk sign a declaration in Eritrea on July 9. Reuters

CNN: Eritrea leader brings 'peace, love and good wishes' on historic Ethiopia visit

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Eritrea has reopened its embassy in Ethiopia as the leaders of both countries took another significant step in strengthening the peace process between two former sworn enemies.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki raised the Eritrean flag together inside the embassy, while a military band performed the Eritrean national anthem.

Eritrea's Minister of Information, Yemane Meskel, said in a tweet that the event was "yet another milestone in the robust and special ties of peace and friendship both countries are cultivating with earnestness in these momentous times."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: You heard it here first because the Nobel Committee is sure as hell not going to give President Trump the Prize for his efforts on the Korean peninsula.

Did President Trump Want To Meet With The Iranian President Last Year At The U.N.?

New York Times: Iran Says Trump Sought Meeting With President 8 Times at U.N. Last Year

Iran rejected eight requests from the United States for a meeting of their presidents at the United Nations General Assembly last year, a top Iranian official said Wednesday.

The assertion, if confirmed, suggests a previously undisclosed level of hostility among top Iranian officials toward President Trump, who has called Iran a nuclear threat, regional menace and global sponsor of terrorism. It would also suggest a previously unknown eagerness by the Trump administration for some kind of dialogue.

White House and State Department officials did not immediately respond to the Iranian assertion, made by President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, at a cabinet meeting reported in Iran’s state-run news media.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There may have been feelers out for a meeting .... but eight times?!?!?! I have some doubts .... one "no" is more than enough for the other side to get the message. But if reports that the White House did ask for a meeting are true .... it is too bad that the Iranian President declined. We may be in a different place today if the lines of communications between the two leaders were opened up last year.

Is President Trump 'Muddying' The Message That Russia Interfered In The 2016 Election?

James B. Comey, James R. Clapper Jr. and John O. Brennan at a Senate hearing on Russia’s election interference in January 2017.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

New York Times: From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered

WASHINGTON — Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

The shifting narrative underscores the degree to which Mr. Trump regularly picks and chooses intelligence to suit his political purposes. That has never been more clear than this week.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I can understand why President Trump would be skeptical. All of this occurred during President Obama's watch, and the men who were telling him about this Russian operation were the same men that President Trump believed were targeting him during the campaign (and we now know that they were "spying" on his campaign). And as for that January briefing and the intel community's collective opinion that Russia interfered in the U.S. election .... an opinion that was written by James Clapper and his closest aides (apparently based on a highly-secretive anonymous source in the Kremlin and other "evidence" that we will never see) ... and is the reason why the above New York Times post was published yesterday. If I was President Trump and knowing who I was talking to .... I would be raising my eyebrows and wondering what is their hidden agenda, and not on the report that they were presenting. 18 months later we now know where Clapper, Comey, and Brennan stand vis-a-vis President Trump, and it is obvious to me that President Trump is treating all of their work product when they were working under the Obama administration as suspect, even though many in the media have chosen not to.

Iraq Unrest Over Corruption And Poor Services Continue In Southern Iraq

CNBC: More turmoil in Iraq as deadly protests ravage oil-rich south

* Cities across Iraq are being roiled by popular protests triggered by widespread anger over abysmal public services provision by the government.
* The unrest threatens to delay formation of a new government and has already led to break-ins to oil facilities and political offices.
* Particularly acute is the demonstrators’ resentment toward the international oil companies — despite living in the heart of the oil industry, residents of Basra and Iraq’s south are some of the country’s poorest.

Protests that began last week in Iraq are continuing amid widespread anger over abysmal public services provision by the government.

The unrest threatens to delay formation of a new government, mandated after Iraq’s elections in May, and has already led to break-ins to oil facilities and political offices.

First sparked in the oil-rich southern province of Basra and spreading to several cities including the capital Baghdad, Iraqis are voicing their frustrations over widespread unemployment, pollution, dirty drinking water and electricity failures during a stifling heat wave in the country’s south. While many of the protests have been peaceful, others have seen buildings set on fire, roads blocked and infrastructure damaged.

Read more ....

Update: Protests are threatening OPEC's 2nd biggest oil producer (Business Insider/

WNU Editor: These protests show no sign of ending.

Will President Trump Accept A Russian Request To Interrogate A Former U.S. Diplomat?

NBC: Lawmakers slam Trump for weighing Russian request to interrogate U.S. diplomat

Democrats introduced a resolution Thursday that said the U.S. should refuse to make any U.S. diplomat available to Russian investigators.

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are slamming the Trump administration over the possibility that President Trump would consider allowing Russian officials to question former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced a non-binding resolution Thursday that says that the U.S. should refuse to make any former diplomat available to Russian investigators who say that official may have interfered in their country's domestic affairs. The Senate was expected to vote on that resolution Thursday afternoon.

“It is the sense of Congress that the United States should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official, or member of the armed forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin,” the resolution says, Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Read more ....

Update: Lawmakers condemn White House suggestion that Kremlin could interrogate former US ambassador (ABC News)

WNU Editor: Not going to happen .... especially in regards to former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. But it is true that Russia's Justice Department want to get their hands on this man .... Bill Browder Doubts He'll Be Swapped To Russia For U.S. Access To Russian Agents (NPR).

Update #2: The White House has officially refused Putin's offer.

FBI Director: China 'The Broadest, Most Significant' Threat To The U.S.

FBI Director Christopher Wray at the Aspen Security Forum. Screenshot/Aspen Security Forum

Business Insider: FBI director calls China 'the broadest, most significant' threat to the US and says its espionage is active in all 50 states

* FBI Director Christopher Wray has described China as "the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country."
* Wray's comments come after a week of controversy surrounding President Donald Trump's response to Russian election meddling.
* Wray said that investigations into economic espionage linked to China were taking place in every US state and that China wanted to become the "sole dominant superpower."
* China's intelligence success is due in part to its ability to act in a "whole of state effort" and also to its capacity to take a patient, long-term view.

Amid rampant discussion about Russian election interference and espionage, FBI Director Christopher Wray has deemed China the largest, most concerning threat to the US.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday, Wray was asked whether he saw China as an adversary and, if so, to what level.

"I think China, from a counterintelligence perspective, in many ways represents the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country," Wray answered.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The FBI Director is right, but this story is being eclipsed by his comments on Russia.

FBI Director Will Not Take-Up Russian President Putin's Offer For Investigation Cooperation

FBI Director Wray

Bloomberg: FBI Chief Dismisses Putin Offer for Investigation Cooperation

* It’s ‘not high on our list of investigative techniques’: Wray
* Trump had called the offer by Putin an ‘incredible’ deal

FBI Director Christopher Wray made clear that U.S. law enforcement doesn’t support a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to have American investigators go to Russia to observe interviews of suspects wanted by the U.S.

“I never want to say never, but it’s certainly not high on our list of investigative techniques," Wray said wryly at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Wednesday.

Wray also dismissed the other side of Putin’s proposed deal: to let Russian investigators come to the U.S. to observe questioning of suspects that they’re interested in.

“That’s probably even lower on our list of investigative techniques," Wray said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They (the FBI) have not even bothered to question Julian Assange and the role that Wikileaks had in exposing DNC emails on how their primary was fixed .... so I doubt that they would be interested in going to Russia to question these Russian intel officers.

FBI Director: Russian Influence Efforts Are Still 'Active'. Election Infrastructure Not Impacted

The Hill: FBI director says Russian influence efforts are ‘very active’

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday described Russian malign influence efforts to sow discord among the American public as “very active.”

Wray was asked to directly respond to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election during an appearance as the Aspen Security Forum. Wray described the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of Russian meddling as sound, adding that Moscow “continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.”

Read more ....

Update #1: FBI Director Christopher Wray reaffirms Russia continues to try to meddle in U.S. elections (CBS)
Update #2: FBI director: Russia ‘continues to engage in malign influence operations’ against U.S. (Politico)
Update #3: FBI boss Wray says Russia engaging in 'malign influence operations,' calls Mueller a 'straight shooter' (FOX News)

WNU Editor: FBI Director Wray also said this  ....

.... "We haven’t yet seen an effort to target specific election infrastructure this time but certainly other efforts – what I would call ‘malign influence operations’ – are very active,"

According to the FBI Director the election infrastructure is not being impacted, it is the message that Russia is promoting that is causing problems. So hence exposing the Democrat Party's plan to fix the primary for Hillary Clinton is a "malign influence operations" .... not the fact that the Democrat Party had fixed its primary process to favor Hillary Clinton. And they say the Russians are sowing doubts in the U.S. election process?!?!?!

President Trump: 'Summit Critics Have Trump Derangement Syndrome'

The Guardian: Summit critics have Trump derangement syndrome – says Trump

US president hits out at comments about his relationship with Putin

Donald Trump has accused critics of “Trump derangement syndrome” as the fallout from his summit with Vladimir Putin showed no sign of abating.

The US president might be regretting his partial climbdown on his drawing a moral equivalence between the Kremlin and American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, which triggered accusations of treason.

“Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!”

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump Putin: US president defends meeting and press conference (BBC)
Update #2: Trump on summit critics: Some ‘would rather go to war than see’ good relations with Putin (TASS)

WNU Editor: President Trump is looking forward to his next meeting with Russian President Putin .... Undaunted by criticism, Trump looks to next Putin meeting (Reuters).

The Pentagon Embraces AI For Its Ships, Tanks, Aircraft, And Drones

The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008. Wikipedia

Kris Osborn, National Interest: The U.S. Military's Ships, Tanks, Aircraft and Drones Are Getting AI

And that is a really big deal.

The Pentagon is making a massive push to accelerate the application of artificial intelligence to ships, tanks, aircraft, drones, weapons and large networks as part of a sweeping strategy to more quickly harness and integrate the latest innovations.

Many forms of AI are already well-underway with US military combat systems, yet new technologies and applications are emerging so quickly that Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has directed the immediate creation of a new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

“The Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the DoD Chief Information Officer to standup the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in order to enable teams across DoD to swiftly deliver new AI-enabled capabilities and effectively experiment with new operating concepts in support of DoD's military missions and business functions." DoD spokeswoman Heather Babb told Warrior Maven.

Read more ....

Update #1: But First, Infrastructure: Creating the Conditions for Artificial Intelligence to Thrive in the Pentagon (Richard Kuzma, War On The Rocks)
Update #2: Pentagon Makes Massive New AI Push - Tanks, Ships, Weapons, Drones & Networks (Warrior Maven)

WNU Editor: This is the next frontier in military innovation, and one that will definitely change warfare as we know it.

Top AI Researchers Pledge Never Help Anyone Make AI Systems That Are Lethal

A remote-controlled robot equipped with a machine gun under development by the United States Marine Corps. Image: USMC

The Guardian: Thousands of leading AI researchers sign pledge against killer robots

Co-founder of Google DeepMind and CEO of SpaceX among the 2,400 signatories of pledge to block lethal autonomous weapons

Thousands of scientists who specialise in artificial intelligence (AI) have declared that they will not participate in the development or manufacture of robots that can identify and attack people without human oversight.

Demis Hassabis at Google DeepMind and Elon Musk at the US rocket company SpaceX are among more than 2,400 signatories to the pledge which intends to deter military firms and nations from building lethal autonomous weapon systems, also known as Laws.

Read more ....

More News On Top AI Researchers Pledging To Never Help Anyone Make AI Systems That Are Lethal

Top AI Researchers—Including Elon Musk—Pledge to Never, Ever Help Anyone Make Killer Robots -- Fortune
Representatives from 150 tech companies sign pledge against 'killer robots' -- ZDNet
Google DeepMind Researchers Join Pledge Not to Work in Lethal AI -- Defense One
Leading AI researchers pledge not to develop autonomous weapons -- UPI
Elon Musk, DeepMind founders, and others sign pledge to not develop lethal AI weapon systems -- The Verge
Tech leaders call for autonomous weapons ban -- Al Jazeera

Is This Woman A Russian Spy?

Politico: Prosecutors say accused foreign agent has ties to Russian intelligence, poses ‘extreme risk of flight’

Maria Butina was arrested over the weekend.

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors say Russian national and accused foreign agent Maria Butina has been in contact with Kremlin intelligence services and poses “an extreme risk of flight,” according to court documents filed Wednesday.

The documents released ahead of Butina’s scheduled appearance in federal court Wednesday argue for her to be detained before a trial. The reasons given for the flight-risk assessment include what prosecutors say is a history of deception by Butina, a lack of ties to the U.S. that would keep her in the country and connections to Russian intelligence services.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For a spy she had a very public presence, and she was (and is) not shy to say where she came from and what she believes in. But the law is the law, and if she had registered herself as a foreign lobbyist, she certainly would not be in prison right now. As for the media attention on her .... in my opinion it is way overboard. But the arrest does serve a purpose and it does send a message. Russians in the U.S. need to be beware on how they conduct themselves .... with all of this anti-Russian hysteria right now in the media and voiced by many in the political class .... deportation or arrest could be your fate. And as for Americans who have Russian contacts .... a message is being sent to them .... beware of who you know who is from Russia. You could be dealing with a spy.

More News On Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina

'You've upstaged Anna Chapman': What Kremlin handler told Russian redhead accused of infiltrating the NRA, offered sex for a role, and who was seized by FBI as she 'prepared to flee' -- Daily Mail
Suspected Russian agent Maria Butina to be jailed until trial -- DW
Russian 'agent' faces charges of seeking to infiltrate US govt -- AFP
Russian 'agent' held on charges of seeking to infiltrate US govt -- AFP
Real-life 'Red Sparrow'? Court filings allege Russian agent offered sex for access -- ABC News
Russian Activist Butina Pleads Not Guilty in Washington Courtroom, Bond Denied -- Sputnik
Russian woman arrested in US faces charges with two offenses -- TASS
Judge Orders Maria Butina, Linked To Russian Spy Agency, Jailed Ahead Of Trial -- NPR
Diplomat emphasizes US ‘espionage’ arrest timed to undercut Putin-Trump summit -- TASS
Maria Butina: Alleged Russia agent 'offered sex for job' -- BBC
Mere gun lover, or Siberian spy? Maria Butina’s curious path -- Angela Charlton, AP
Maria Butina: NRA member, lobbyist, and Kremlin spy? -- DW
How Maria Butina, accused Russian spy, worked her way into top US circles -- Jon Swaine and Lois Beckett, The Guardian

Does NATO Have A Money Problem?

William D. Hartung Director, Defense One: NATO Already Vastly Outspends Russia. Its Problems Are Not About Money.

The alliance’s security issues can’t be fixed by a traditional military buildup.

President Trump’s dismissal of Russian interference in the 2016 election – choosing to believe Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies – has rightly sparked outrage and astonishment. But we shouldn’t let Trump’s disgraceful performance in Russia overshadow the other key issues raised by his recent trip.

In particular, Trump’s tantrum over the need for NATO allies to spend more on defense deserves greater scrutiny. Whether the goal is 2 percent of GDP – the alliance’s long-stated goal – or 4 percent, a fantastic figure Trump floated as well – the real question is whether NATO or the United States need to spend more on traditionally military assets to ensure their security. Contrary to Trump’s assertions, the answer is no.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The only part of the above commentary that I agree with is his remarks on how NATO spends its money. When Germany spends over $40 billion on defense and can only field a few working fighter aircraft .... you know you have a problem. The author's focus on cyber attacks and Russian propaganda are also nothing new, and if that was the only threat, our defense budgets would be a fraction of what they are. As to the authors concerns about "combating the rise of right-wing, and in some cases neo-fascist parties; finding an equitable solution to its refugee crisis; and reforming its political and economic system to give hope to those left behind by European integration" .... these are political issues where the author has adopted the progressive view. But NATO was not established for this. NATO is a political-military alliance that was established to face foreign threats like the former Soviet Union. NATO was not established to counter the internal threats that this author fears.

China Today

WNU Editor: An old friend that I got to know in China when I was there in the 1980s sent me this picture last night. As he told me .... his country has certainly changed in the past 30 years.I completely agree.

Tweets For Today

New Spanish Sub Too Big For Its Dock

The Warzone/The Drive: Oops! The Spanish Navy Is Constructing New Submarines That Are Too Big For Their Pens

Spain will likely have to spend millions of dollars to build a proper home for the boats, which have already suffered years of problems and delays.

Spain’s diesel-electric S-80 Plus submarine program has hit a new snag, with the boats now reportedly being too big for the existing pens at the Spanish Navy’s base in Cartagena. It could take millions of dollars to improve the facilities and the issue underscores the hurdles the country and many of its fellow NATO members face in attempting to revitalize their military capabilities after years of post-Cold War neglect.

Spanish newspaper El PaĆ­s was first to report on the new developments on July 18, 2018. The outlet included graphics highlighting that the docks at Cartagena are just shy of 256 feet long, while the S-80 Plus is over 265 feet long. The report also said that Spanish authorities would have to dredge out the pens to accommodate the new boats, which are larger overall compared to the country’s existing S-70 Galerna-class submarines, with the complete upgrades to the facilities costing more than $18 million.

Read more ....

More News On Spain's New Sub Being Too Big For Its Dock

Sub-standard: £900million Spanish submarine that was too heavy to sail is now too big for its dock after it was made longer to fix the problem -- Daily Mail
Spain's new submarine 'too big for its dock' -- BBC
Once Too Heavy, Now Too Big. Spain's New Sub Can't Fit in Dock. -- The New York Times
Too long to fit: launch of new Spanish sub runs aground -- The Guardian

Picture Of The Day

A demonstrator poses for a photo next to a graffiti that reads 'Monimbo volcano of dignity' in the indigenous community of Monimbo in Masaya, July 11. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Nicaraguan police storm anti-government stronghold (Reuters).