Friday, November 21, 2014

Tunnel Warfare Comes To Syria

At least 20 government fighters and militia have been killed in an apparent attack by Syrian rebels after a tunnel bomb was exploded near the historic old city of Aleppo. Daily Mail

Syrian Rebels, Increasingly Desperate, Turn To Tunnel Warfare -- L.A. Times

For three days, Syrian rebels dug through a wall of a library that housed a trove of historical religious texts, and underneath an adjacent road.

When they were done with the 50-foot-long tunnel, they waited at one end of it for a tank to drive by, and blew it up.

The explosion cut off the road, a crucial supply route for government soldiers stationed at the nearby 13th century citadel, but it also destroyed what was left of the Waqifiyya Library, already damaged during months of clashes.

Rebel commander Iyad Saqaan, who in 2006 had helped furnish the library with woodwork from his studio, had also overseen the digging of the tunnel. Sitting on a mound of rubble, skipping rocks as if perched on the edge of a lake, Saqaan pursed his lips, shook his head and said, "What alternative do we have?"

Read more ....

My Comment: After years of conflict all sides are becoming desperate to break the stalemate.

These Are The Weapons That The U.S. Wants To Give To Iraq's Army And Kurdish Fighters

Kurdish peshmerga fighters take part in weapons training in the grounds of their camp in Irbil, Iraq, on Nov. 3. The Pentagon wants $1.6 billion to train and equip Iraqi forces, including the peshmerga, in fiscal 2015, according to a new Defense Department report. (Azad Lashkari/Reuters)

A Breakdown Of All The Weapons The U.S. Wants To Give Iraq To Fight Militants -- Washington Post

Top U.S. officials said earlier this month that they would ask Congress to spend $1.6 billion in fiscal 2015 to help equip security forces across Iraq, as the country continues to grapple with how to expel Islamic State militants from cities and towns in controls. A new Defense Department document outlines what that money will go toward — and underscores just how much firepower Washington wants to send Baghdad in its bid to help.

The details are in a 16-page justification for an amendment to the Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget sent to Congress. It calls for $1.24 billion to be spent on weapons for the Iraqi military, $354.8 million to be spent on arms for Kurdish peshmerga troops, and $24.1 million for an arsenal sent to tribal security forces in western Anbar province. Bloomberg News reported on the document Friday.

Read more ....

Update: Colt M4 Carbines Top U.S. Arms List for Iraqi, Kurdish Forces -- Bloomberg

My Comment: Let's hope that these new weapons do not end up in the Islamic State's hands as these weapons did .... Iraq Needs Weapons But Can It Keep Them? (Foreign Policy).

U.S. Airstrikes Are Having A Minimal Impact On The Islamic State's Military Capabilities

Months Of Bombing Makes Small Impact On ISIS' Military Capabilities -- Robert Windrem and Jim Miklaszewski, NBC

After more than three months of air attacks against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, U.S. intelligence and defense officials say minimal progress has been made toward President Barack Obama’s stated goal to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic terror group.

Intelligence gathered over the past several weeks, which was being presented at a classified briefing for senators on Wednesday, indicates that while airstrikes have stalled offensives by ISIS forces in some areas, in at least one aspect, ISIS appears to be growing stronger despite the bombing.

“The trajectory of foreign fighters is ticking up,” said one U.S. intelligence official, who like the others spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity. The official cautioned that the figures U.S. intelligence has compiled are estimates and that analysts have “limited insight” into the number of foreign fighters arriving from the West.

Read more ....

Update: Airstrikes Fail to Slow ISIS' Iraq Killing Spree, Database Suggests -- NBC

My Comment: More evidence that maybe ground troops will be necessary.

Tonight's Movie Is 'The Last Drop'

From YouTube: During Operation Market Garden, different factions in WWII-era Holland race to find a stash of Nazi gold.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- November 21, 2014

The Islamic State's Terrifying Strategy -- David Ignatius, Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- A centerpiece of President Obama's strategy for defeating the Islamic State is mobilizing tribal fighters to join the Iraqi military in retaking Anbar and other Sunni-dominated provinces. But new research shows the jihadists have been working since 2009 to gut the very Sunni tribal leadership on which Obama's rollback depends -- making the U.S. campaign much more difficult.

U.S. strategists want to create a "national guard" version of the tribal militia known as the "Awakening," which in 2007 and 2008 crushed al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of the Islamic State. But overlooked evidence shows that the jihadists have worked systematically to destroy the Awakening and assassinate tribal leaders who might challenge their rule.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- November 21, 2014

ISIS: The Unstoppable Juggernaut -- Paul D. Shinkman, US News and World Report

Are Mass Killings by IS Group Genocide? -- Sharon Behn, VOA

How ISIS Corporatized Terror -- Cam Simpson, Bloomberg Businesweek

The war against Islamic State: The tide may slowly be turning against the jihadists in Iraq and Syria -- The Economist

Seven unlikely events in the fight against Islamic State, and their likely outcomes -- Aki Peritz and Tara Maller, Reuters

US, Turkey still not in sync on Syria -- Deb Riechmann, AP

Bashar al-Assad looks more comfortable than ever. -- Jeremy Bowen, New Statesman

Q. and A.: The Difficulties in Reaching a Nuclear Agreement With Iran -- David Sanger, NYT

Ebola crisis in Liberia: 'One in two workers now jobless' -- BBC

Putin Would Risk Everything In A War With Ukraine -- Martin van Creveld, Worldcrunch

Ukraine crisis: Will war return? -- BBC

Russia’s lackluster economy means Putin simply can’t afford a new Cold War -- Geoffrey Smith, Fortune

Healing Colombia's Scars of War -- Wesley Tomaselli, OZY

Why the Surveillance State Lives On -- Michael Hirsh, Newsweek

What the War Classics Teach Us about Fighting Terrorists -- Colonel (Ret.) Philip Lisagor, Cicero magazine

Left or right: whose side is The Hunger Games on? -- The Telegraph

World News Briefs -- November 21, 2104

U.S., Iran Discussing New Ideas To Break Nuclear Impasse: Sources -- Reuters

(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are discussing new ideas aimed at breaking the deadlock in nuclear talks between Tehran and six world powers, sources close to the talks said on Friday.

The sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the top Iranian and U.S. diplomats were preparing ideas that could be shown to both countries' capitals.

"Discussions are continuing," said a senior U.S. official, who declined to discuss details about the negotiations in Vienna.

Read more ....


Nuclear talks: Iran says 'no new ideas' on table.

Militants, Iraqi forces battle for Ramadi. ISIL launches fierce assault on Iraq's Ramadi.

Islamic State group's drive for Kobani is blunted.

Iraqi dealers confirm ISIS hoarding gold, precious metals to issue currency – report.

Amid mutual suspicion, Turkish premier visits Iraq.

Turkey, U.S. play down differences on fight against Islamic State.

Israel arrests four Palestinians over 'plot to kill minister'.

Jerusalem mayor: Revoke citizenship for terrorists’ families.

Abbas warns Israel against 'religious war'.


Signs North Korea preparing bomb material amid nuclear test threats.

Ethnic rebel coalition slams ‘deliberate’ attack by Myanmar military.

U.N. calls for credible Myanmar election, minority protection.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe dissolves parliament for election.

Plunging crude oil prices boon for Indian economy.

China pledges more dialogue on regional conflicts. China calls for enhanced dialogue to resolve conflicts.

China building South China Sea island big enough for airstrip: report.

US Congressional Panel predicts China will keep confronting US.

Chinese military leaders committing suicide in droves.

Chinese journalist Gao Yu faces life sentence for leaking state secrets.


WHO declares end to Ebola outbreak in DRC.

Sectarian violence spreads to southeastern C.A.R..

DR Congo violence: Axe attackers kill dozens near Beni. Up to 80 people killed by suspected Ugandan rebels in Congo: group.

Islamic State pledge in Sinai raises stakes for Egypt.

Zimbabwe stampede after Kwekwe church service.

Total of 40 people die of plague in Madagascar since August — WHO.

Tunisia’s Islamists get sobering lesson in governing.

Power struggle in Zambia intensifies with suspension of acting President.


Ukraine's Facebook revolution, 1 year later.

US, IMF to provide financial support to Ukraine — Poroshenko.

Ukraine crisis: Joe Biden warns Russia faces 'isolation'.

Estonia hopes to ratify border treaty with Russia soon — FM.

UK troops in largest armored deployment in Eastern Europe for six years.

Merkel: Palestinian recognition not right path.

North Korean linked to Kim Jong-un's purged uncle 'goes missing' in Paris.

Serbia to revoke Ukrainian billionaire's passport.


Conservatives, states set to launch legal blitz against Obama over immigration.

Latin America applauds Obama's immigration plan.

Mexico president vows judicial transparency.

Chile colonels jailed for torturing President Bachelet's father.

Argentina rules all public transport must state: 'The Falklands are Argentina'.

Brazil's Rousseff struggling to limit Petrobras scandal's damage.

Vazquez favorite to win Uruguay presidential vote as economy shines.

NSA chief: Foreign powers penetrating U.S. infrastructure.

Widespread flooding ahead for snowy western New York: officials.


AQAP rejects Islamic State's 'caliphate,' blasts group for sowing dissent among jihadists. Al-Qaida in Yemen denounces Islamic State group.

5 Guantanamo prisoners released to Slovakia, Georgia.

US Congressional bill would offer $5M reward to people who help catch ISIS terrorists.


Russia discusses no possibility of oil output cuts to support world oil prices — ministry.

Falling gas prices impact US oil extraction.

China, Europe chase growth amid global slowdown.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 21, 2104

Koreas On Edge Amid Live-fire Drills -- Voice of America

SEOUL — It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as North Korea threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the United States and South Korean forces held joint military exercises.

The drills – conducted from Kunsan Air Base on South Korea’s coast – may not have been scheduled in response to specific threats from North Korea, but they demonstrate U.S. and South Korean forces’ capabilities.

The weeklong exercise called “Max Thunder” included approximately 80 U.S. and South Korean fighter jets, some of which flew from military bases in the United States. Commanders were simulating a rapid-response scenario to defend against both air and missile attacks.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 21, 2104

South Korean Military Conducts Live-Fire Drill To Check Preparedness Against North Korea -- IBTimes

South Korea Runs Live-Fire Exercise Despite Pyongyang Warnings: Reports -- Sputnik

Surge of Russian aircraft seen over Baltic Sea -- AP

Russia to develop new AWACS aircraft based on IL-76MD-90A plane -- ITAR-TASS

Russia's priority is to prevent terrorists from getting chemical weapons — diplomat -- ITAR-TASS

Litigation Possible if France Fails to Honor Warship Deal With Russia -- Sputnik

8 Military Dead in Helicopter Crash in Romania -- ABC News/AP

Boeing frustrated by Canada’s move to extend life of fighter jets -- Globe and Mail/Reuters

Ex-Chinese military leader found with 1 ton of Chinese, foreign money -- Focus Taiwan

China defence minister brushes off fears over military growth -- AFP

China's defense minister calls for mutual security in Asia -- Global Times

China's defense minister calls for improved crisis management -- Reuters

J-31 stealth jet gets bad reviews after Zhuhai Airshow flight -- Want China Times

Chinese military buildup affects US options: report -- Taipei Times

U.S. congressional panel warns of China's military buildup -- Kyodo News International

US, Japan Postpone Changes to Defense Cooperation Guidelines: Reports -- Sputnik

Japan Officially Selects Osprey, Global Hawk, E-2D -- Defense News

Japan raises military profile in naval war games with U.S. -- Reuters

U.S. Aircraft Carrier’s Cost Likely to Rise Again, GAO Says -- Bloomberg

Months of Bombing Makes Small Impact on ISIS' Military Capabilities -- Robert Windrem and Jim Miklaszewski, NBC

Pentagon, in reversal, won't wait for Congress to deploy Iraq troops -- The Hill

Navy Plans for Fighter to Replace the F/A-18 Hornet in 2030s -- Defense Tech

Pentagon, Lockheed Finalize 8th F-35 Lot -- Defense News

Air Force begs for F-35 to be top priority over A-10 jet -- Washington Post

Army, Marine Corps Finish Testing JLTV Prototypes -- DoD Buzz

HAGEL: The World Is 'Damn Dangerous' And Our Army Is Not Ready -- Business Insider

Hagel: ‘U.S. Military Capability is Being Threatened’ -- Washington Free Beacon

Hagel rallies chairmen around defense budget -- The Hill

Dempsey: Military Policy Faces Challenges in an Era Without Secrets --

Senior GOP Senator: Immigration Order Could Derail Full-Year Pentagon Spending Bill -- Defense News

House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories -- AP

CIA wants to delete thousands of emails as Obama administration stalls release of torture report -- RT

Pentagon considers changes to recruitment policies -- The Hill

Obesity Affects Number Of Those Eligible For Military Service -- CBS

Amnesty International Launches App to Detect Government Spyware -- Sputnik

Ukrainians Mark The First Anniversary Of The Euromaidan

A Year After Ukraine's Revolution Began, Slain Protesters' Families Demand Justice -- Reuters

KIEV, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was shouted down by angry relatives of 100 protesters killed in Kiev's "Euromaidan" revolution at a ceremony on Friday to pay tribute to the victims.

The relatives, frustrated by Poroshenko's failure to bring officials of the previous government to justice, shouted, "Who is a hero for you, Poroshenko?", "Where are their killers?" and "Down with Poroshenko!"

They also attacked him for failing to keep a promise to confer the title of national hero on the victims, which would bring financial benefits to their families.

Read more ....

Ukrainians Mark The First Anniversary Of The Euromaida

President heckled as Ukraine marks 'Euromaidan' anniversary -- Deutsche Welle
A year after Kiev protests, Ukraine vanishes in rebel east -- AFP
Ukraine's Facebook revolution, 1 year later -- UT San Diego/AP
Protesters heckle Ukrainian President -- The Independent
Ukraine crisis: President Petro Poroshenko heckled by relatives of 100 killed in Maidan protests -- ABC News (Australia)
Poroshenko Heckled, Biden Escapes Angry Protesters in Kiev -- MINA
Joe Biden retreats from angry crowd in Ukraine -- Washington Times
Ukraine and Russia media on two sides to Maidan anniversary -- BBC
Ukraine protests: 'Of course we haven't achieved our goals' -- The Telegraph
Between chaos and hope: one year of crisis in Ukraine -- Deutsche Welle

Islamic State War News Updates -- November 21, 2014

Islamic State Targeted In 30 Air Strikes By U.S., Allies -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The United States and its allies have staged 30 air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq since Wednesday, the U.S. Central Command said on Friday.

The 23 strikes in Iraq included six near Baiji that hit Islamic State buildings, vehicles and tactical units while buildings, vehicles, a guard post and two tactical units were destroyed near Sinjar in four air strikes, Central Command said. Similar targets were destroyed or damaged west of Kirkuk, near Mosul and Ramadi and in Tal Afar.

Read more ....

More News On The War Against The Islamic State

U.S., Allied Planes Hit Islamic State Militants -- Radio Free Europe/AFP/Reuters
Militants, Iraqi Forces Battle for Ramadi -- VOA
ISIL launches fierce assault on Iraq's Ramadi -- Al Jazeera
Militants shoot at Iraqi government building in Ramadi: officials -- Reuters
Islamic State launches onslaught on Iraq's city of Ramadi -- AFP
IS launches assault on Iraq's Ramadi -- SKY News
ISIS Militants Attack Iraqi Provincial Capital Ramadi, Residents Urged To Fight -- IBTimes
Senior Islamic State figure killed in Mosul: sources -- Reuters
Islamic State group's drive for Kobani is blunted -- AP
Islamic State Casualties Mount in Kobani Amid War of Attrition -- Bloomberg
Iran Aiding Islamic State with Weapons -- Washington Free Beacon
U.S. Ramps Up Military Aid for Islamic State Fight -- Foreign Policy
Iraqi Kurds to U.S.: We need heavy weapons to defeat Islamic State -- Washington Times
Iraq says Islamic State stole 1 million tonnes of grain, took it to Syria -- Reuters
From Islamic State militant to Iraq informant -- AP
Ancient Prophecies Motivate Islamic State Militants -- WSJ
Watching Kobani -- Al-Monitor
'Kurdish Stalingrad' -- Is Islamic State Floundering In Kobani? -- Radio Free Europe
The bureaucracy of terror -- Deutsche Welle

Ebola Deaths Continue Top Rise

Ebola Deaths Near 5,500 As Virus Still Rages -- WSJ

Rate of Transmission Intense in Three West African Countries

ZURICH—Nearly 5,500 people have died from Ebola, the World Health Organization said Friday, adding that the rate of transmission remains intense in the three West African countries at the center of the epidemic.

In an update, the United Nations health agency said 15,351 confirmed, suspected or probable cases of Ebola had been reported in eight countries that have been affected by the disease. Most of the cases were concentrated in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A total of 5,459 people have died of Ebola since the outbreak began, the WHO said. On Wednesday, the WHO reported 15,145 cases and 5,420 deaths.

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More News On The Ebola Epidemic

Ebola death toll rises to 5,459; Cuban doctor 'stable' -- Reuters
Ebola spread remains intense in Sierra Leone, WHO reports -- CBC/Reuters
Sierra Leone hit hardest in latest WHO Ebola numbers -- Deutsche Welle
Ebola Spread Has Slowed in Liberia, C.D.C. Says -- NYT
U.S. Says New Ebola Cases in Liberia Slowing -- Bloomberg
Ebola cases no longer rising in Guinea, Liberia, UN health agency reports -- UN News Center
WHO Declares End to Ebola Outbreak in DRC -- VOA
Bandits in Guinea Steal Suspected Ebola Blood -- AP
Roadside bandits steal cooler full of Ebola blood in Guinea -- Mashable
A Day in the Life of an Ebola Worker -- Scientific American

Iran Nuclear Talks Are Going Down To The Wire

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (3rd L), EU envoy Catherine Ashton (6th L), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (3rd R) and Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (front L) sit a a table during talks in Vienna November 21, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

U.S., Iran In Last-Ditch Bid To Clinch Historic Nuclear Deal -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Iran and the United States on Friday intensified efforts to overcome deep divisions in talks on Tehran's nuclear program days ahead of a deadline for agreement.

With the deadline for a deal to defuse a 12-year stand-off over Iran's nuclear ambitions due to expire on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif unexpectedly met for a second time in Vienna on Friday evening.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China began a final round of talks with Iran on Tuesday, looking to clinch a pact under which Tehran would curb its nuclear work to help ensure it cannot be diverted to bomb-making in exchange for a lifting of economically crippling sanctions.

Read more ....

More News On The Iranian Nuclear Talks

Diplomats eye interim Iran agreement as final deal talks stall -- Financial Times
Kerry, Zarif to meet again in push to reach nuclear deal -- Reuters
Kerry and Iran Counterpart Scrambling as Monday Deadline Looms in Nuclear Talks -- New York Times
Kerry still at nuke talks despite planning to go -- AP
Kerry Remains In Vienna At Nuclear Talks -- Radio Free Europe
Iran nuclear negotiations intensify as Vienna talks reach critical point -- Haaretz
Talks on Iran's nuclear program called complex but useful as deadline nears -- CNN
Iran nuclear talks: Kerry presses for deal with Zarif -- BBC

Mexico City Sees Mass Protests Over The Apparent Massacre Of 43 Students

Molotov Cocktails Fly as Violent Protests Over Missing Students Rage in Mexico -- VICE

Protests across Mexico turned violent on Thursday as crowds clashed with police, throwing Molotov cocktails and burning an effigy of President Enrique Peña Nieto in opposition to his government's handling of the apparent massacre of 43 teaching students from Guerrero state.

The protests devolved into riots near a large public square called the Zocalo in Mexico City located outside of the National Palace, the doorway of which was burned in riots two weeks ago.

The protests were peaceful at first but grew violent once the march reached the Zocalo and the protesters were met by riot police. Another 300 protesters fought with police near the near Mexico City's airport. No one was hurt in Thursday's protests. Several marches were held across the country, demanding answers in the case of the missing students.

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More News On Mexico City Seeing Mass Protests Over The Apparent Massacre Of 43 Students

Molotov cocktails, clashes as thousands of Mexicans protest over massacre -- Reuters
Thousands protest in Mexico against corruption, missing students -- L.A. Times
Mexico missing students: Capital sees mass protests -- BBC
Isolated incidents in Mexico's mass protests for missing students -- Global Post/EFE
Massive protest over 43 missing students rocks Mexico City -- FOX News
Mass Mexico protests target government over student disappearances -- Al Jazeera
Keeping the peace: Mexican protesters say non-violence is key to change -- Whitney Eulich, CSM
Mexican Protesters Look to Start a New Revolution -- Jason McGahan, Daily Beast

Pentagon Releases 5 More Guantanamo Detainees

The U.S. flag flies over Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, in this March 5, 2013 file photo. Officials confirmed Thursday that five detainees were released from the center bringing the population of the controversial detention center to 143. Bob Strong. Reuters

5 Guantanamo Detainees Sent To Europe; Largest Release In Years -- L.A. Times

Five Guantanamo detainees have been flown to Europe for resettlement, the Pentagon announced Thursday, in the largest release of former terror suspects in years.

Three Yemenis sent to Georgia and a Yemeni and a Tunisian delivered to Slovakia were among the longest-held prisoners at the detention center for terror suspects at the U.S. naval base in Southern Cuba.

Georgia, a former Soviet republic, and Slovakia, a member of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact during the Cold War, are now U.S. allies and accepted the released prisoners as a favor to the Obama administration, which has been trying to downsize and close the Guantanamo camps since the president took office in 2009. More longstanding U.S. allies have been reluctant to take in men the Pentagon has branded as dangerous terrorists for more than a decade, nor do they want to be seen as legitimizing a detention practice widely condemned in the democratic world.

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More News on 5 Guantanamo Detainees Being Released

US Sends Guantanamo Prisoners to Georgia, Slovakia -- ABC News/AP
U.S. releases five Guantanamo detainees to Georgia, Slovakia -- Reuters
US announces release of 5 Guantanamo prisoners -- FOX News
5 Guantánamo Inmates Are Sent to Eastern Europe -- NYT
Five Guantanamo detainees transferred -- CNN
Guantanamo Transfers First Yemeni Detainees Since 2010 -- WSJ

My Comment: So much for listening to Congress .... Obama releases Gitmo detainees, setting up fight with GOP (Washington Examiner).

Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev: Putin Sees Himself As 'Second Only To God

Vladimir Putin was in Brisbane for the G20 summit, where he experienced a series of diplomatic snubs from Western leaders following fresh reports of Russian troops pouring into eastern Ukraine

Putin Sees Himself As 'Second Only To God': Gorbachev Blasts Russian President For His 'Big Head' As It Emerges Kremlin Leader Was In Furious Four Hour Bust-Up With Angela Merkel -- Daily Mail

* Gorbachev criticised Putin as he launched his book 'After the Kremlin'
* He warned him not to get a big head because 'that is what ruined me'
* But he also praised Putin saying he worked 'in the interest of the majority'
* Putin and Merkel met for private talks at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane
* Meeting seemed to indicate worsening relations for Germany and Russia
* Merkel insists she wants to keep dialogue open between the two countries

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has blasted Vladimir Putin for getting big headed and seeing himself as God's deputy, complaining that the Kremlin leader now never consults him.

The 83-year-old father of glasnost declared: 'He has started picking up the same illness which I suffered from earlier - self-confidence.

'He thinks he is second only to God, but I don't know in charge of what really.'

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My Comment: No one listens to Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia anymore .... but the news that there was a big "blow-out" between Putin and Merkel is news .... and when I think about it ....  not surprising when one considers what is happening in Ukraine and how it is impacting the seuciruty and economic situation in eastern Europe.

Iran Continues Its Nuclear Weapons Work While The U.S. Pushes For A Deal

A Bad Deal Gets Worse -- Lee Smith, Weekly Standard

As we go to press, the White House has reportedly offered Iran a deal regarding its nuclear program, a framework agreement with details to be worked out in the coming months. However, even as the interim agreement is set to expire November 24, it seems the Iranians have not responded to the Obama administration’s offer. And why would they? The White House has made it clear it wants a deal more than the Islamic Republic does. Under the circumstances, why wouldn’t Tehran wait to see how many more U.S. concessions it can extract?

There appears to be compromise on a number of major issues, like the number of centrifuges Iran will be able to keep (around 5,000). Other details, like the pace of sanctions relief and addressing the possible military dimensions of the program, seem to be where the Iranians are trying to force the administration to bend. All we know for certain is that the Obama White House is a long way from where it was a year ago, and not in a good sense.

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My Comment: There is no reason for Iran to accept a nuclear deal right now .... their policy has always been the same .... delay and get more concessions .... and they have been very successful at it.  My prediction is that they will request (and get) another nuclear extension .... and they will continue to work on their nuclear weapons program .... Report: Iran Secretly Continuing Nuclear Weapons Work (Washington Free Beacon).

Many Russian Soldiers Have Died (And Are Dying) In Ukraine

The War in Ukraine Is Killing Lots of Russians -- Paul Richard Huard, War Is Boring

Trucks marked ‘Gruz 200' could be hearses for Moscow’s dead.

The Kremlin has gone to great lengths to deny any direct involvement in the war in Ukraine, even as Russian soldiers have entered eastern Ukraine in increasing numbers since April to fight alongside pro-Moscow separatists.

But despite tactics ranging from blunt official denials to government pressure on soldiers’ families to remain silent, there is mounting evidence that Russian soldiers are not just fighting in Ukraine.

They are dying there in large numbers.

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My Comment: The mass majority of Russians (if not almost all) .... are against any Russian military action in support of the Ukraine pro-Russian rebels. Sending relief convoys/humanitarian missions .... there is universal support .... sending in soldiers .... zero if any support. This is why these deaths are being kept as secret as possible ... public reaction and opposition will be swift and overwhelming. But by keeping it secret it fuels speculation and rumor that thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed .... not the hundreds that my best sources have been telling me. My advice to the Kremlin is to come clean ... and take the hit that it will entail. But .... I very much doubt that such an action is even being contemplated by Putin and his aides.

Update: The above video is from Russia (it is in Russian) that reveals the extent of Russian military deaths in Ukraine, and why the Kremlin's attempts to keep it secret are no longer working.

5 Foreign Policy Lessons

The Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons Of The Past 20 Years -- Stephen Walt, Foreign Policy

From Russia to China to the United States, from hubris to ultimatums to power plays, the good, the bad, and the ugly of (recent) world politics.

Tell me, friend: Do you find the current world situation confusing? Are you having trouble sorting through the bewildering array of alarums, provocations, reassurances, and trite nostrums offered up by pundits and politicos? Can't tell if the glass is half-full and rising or half-empty, cracked, and leaking water fast? Not sure if you should go long on precious metals and stock up on fresh water, ammo, and canned goods, or go big into equities and assume that everything will work out in the long run?

Today's world is filled with conflicting signals. On the one hand, life expectancy and education are up, the level of violent conflict is down, and hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty over the past several decades. Private businesses are starting to take human rights seriously. And hey, the euro is still alive! On the other hand, Europe's economy is still depressed, Russia is suspending nuclear cooperation with the United States, violent extremists keep multiplying in several regions, the odds of a genuine nuclear deal with Iran still look like a coin toss, and that much-ballyhooed climate change deal between the United States and China is probably too little too late and already facing right-wing criticisms.

Read more ....

My Comment: These foreign policy lessons have been the rule since the development of the nation state .... not just the past 20 years.

An Analysis On The Geopolitical Impact Of Declining Oil Prices

Cheap-Oil Era Tilts Geopolitical Power to U.S. -- Bloomberg

A new age of abundant and cheap energy supplies is redrawing the world’s geopolitical landscape, weakening and potentially threatening the legitimacy of some governments while enhancing the power of others.

Some changes already are evident. Surging U.S. oil production enabled America and its allies to impose tough sanctions on Iran without having to worry much about the loss of imports from the Middle Eastern nation. Russia, meanwhile, faces what President Vladimir Putin called a possibly “catastrophic” slump in prices for its oil as its economy is battered by U.S. and European sanctions over its role in Ukraine.

Read more ....

My Comment: If we are entering a four or five-year cycle with oil prices in a general range of $65 to $80 a barrel .... the impact on countries like Venezuela, Iran, Nigeria, and Russia will be profound and negative. For a country like China .... totally dependent on oil imports .... the benefits will be enormous.

A Look At How The U.S. Air Force Determines What Targets Are Attacked By U.S. Jets And Drones

Image: Wikipedia

A Look Inside a Secret US Air Force Intelligence Center -- Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. – While there might not be any American combat boots on the ground in Syria, dozens of manned and unmanned aircraft dot the skies above gathering video and other types of intelligence about the movement of Islamic State militants. The images collected by those aircraft are streamed by satellites in near real-time thousands of miles away to Langley Air Force Base in southern Virginia.

Here in a dimly lit room about the half the size of a football field, airmen — some not even old enough to legally drink alcohol — stare at computer screens interpreting people’s movements and producing intelligence reports that could ultimately be read by President Barack Obama. And without those soldiers on the ground in Syria and Iraq providing context, it’s largely up to these intelligence analysts to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys.

Read more ....

My Comment: This intelligence group is busy ....

....  The 480th receives about 20 terabytes of data each day. In 2013, the wing processed 460,000 hours of full-motion video, disseminated 2.6 million images and generated 1.7 million signals intelligence reports, according to Air Force officials.

A Look At America's THAAD System

THAAD: America's Super Shield against Ballistic Missiles? -- Dan Sauter, National Interest

Editor’s Note: TNI’s Managing Editor, Harry J. Kazianis, spoke with Dan Sauter of the Business Development for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense at Lockheed Martin about the various advantages of the THAAD defense system and how it could help deal with emerging security threats in the Asia-Pacific.

Kazianis: For our readers who might not be familiar with THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, could we begin by you giving TNI readers a basic description of the system and how it works? What makes it unique? Why is it in America's interest to have such a system?

Sauter: THAAD is a key element of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and is designed to defend U.S. troops, allied forces, population centers and critical infrastructure against short-thru-medium-range ballistic missiles. THAAD has a unique capability to destroy threats in both the endo- and exo-atmosphere using proven hit-to-kill (kinetic energy) lethality. THAAD is effective against all types of ballistic-missile warheads, especially including Weapons of Mass Destruction (chemical, nuclear or biological) payloads.

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Senior Rebel Leader In Eastern Ukraine Has Proposed Settling The Outcome Of The Country’s Civil War With A Duel

Prime Minister of the Luhansk People's Republic Igor Plotnitsky (L) and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R) (RIA Novosti)

Rebel Leader’s New Solution To The Ukraine Civil War: He Wants To Duel The Ukrainian President On Live TV -- National Post/The Telegraph

DONETSK — A senior rebel leader in eastern Ukraine has proposed settling the outcome of the country’s civil war with a duel.

In an open letter to Petro Poroshenko, the president, Igor Plotnitsky, head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, suggested that they decide the conflict once and for all in the manner of a gentlemen’s quarrel.

“Each party has the right to 10 witnesses and 10 media representatives,” Mr. Plotnitsky, 50, wrote in an open letter to Mr. Poroshenko.

“I would not be against the duel being shown live on TV. I will let you choose the place and the weapons.”

Mr. Poroshenko, 49, has not responded to the challenge, which came as chances of a diplomatic solution to the crisis continued to dwindle.

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My Comment: We all know that such a duel is not going to happen .... but if if on the bizarre chance that it does (you just never know about Ukraine) .... my money is on Igor Plotnitsky to win.

'Hunger Games' Becomes Symbol Of Resistance In Thailand

‘Hunger Games’ Continues to Inspire Coup Resistance in Thailand -- Bloomberg

Thai police detained three students on the opening day of the new “Hunger Games” movie, including one who flashed a three-fingered salute made popular by the film’s resistance fighters and adopted by opponents of military rule.

The detentions outside two Bangkok movie theaters yesterday came a day after five student activists were taken away by police after giving the salute during a speech by junta leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha on his first post-coup visit to the country’s northeast, the political stronghold of the government he toppled in May. The students wore t-shirts that spelled out the words in Thai for “No Coup.”

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More News On How The Finger Salute In The Movie 'Hunger Games' Becomes A Symbol Of Resistance In Thailand

Three Thais detained for handing out tickets to Hunger Games -- Reuters
Thai Students Held for Using ‘Hunger Games’ Salute -- New York Times
‘Hunger Games’ Film Strikes Thai Nerve -- WSJ
Thai student protestors arrested for “Hunger Games” salute -- Quartz