Friday, July 31, 2015

Pilot Calls F-35 A Threat To Be Feared


WNU Editor: At least someone likes the F-35.

Why Is The Pentagon's War Budget Increasing While U.S. Troops Deployed To War-Zones Is Decreasing

Wikipedia

Reuters: How Pentagon war fund became a budget buster Washington can't resist

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. troops deployed in battle zones is at its lowest level since before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Still, Congress has authorized a 38 percent increase in the war budget over last year.

The contradiction is the legacy of an emergency war fund, started in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, that has become a favorite Washington way to sidestep the impact of fiscal constraints on military spending.

The Overseas Contingency Operations account, or OCO, has been tapped to fund tens of billions of dollars in programs with questionable links, or none, to wars, according to current and former U.S. officials, analysts and budget documents.

WNU Editor: So much for budget discipline.

Drone Warfare Is Big Business

An X-47B drone combat aircraft. Final targeting decisions are made by military personnel but mistakes by contractors could lead to the wrong people being killed. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The Guardian: Revealed: Private firms at heart of US drone warfare

Corporate staff are reviewing top-secret data and helping uniformed colleagues decide whether people under surveillance are enemies or civilians.

The overstretched US military has hired hundreds of private-sector contractors to the heart of its drone operations to analyse top-secret video feeds and help track suspected terrorist leaders, an investigation has found.

Contracts unearthed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveal a secretive industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars, placing a corporate workforce alongside uniformed personnel analysing intelligence from areas of interest.

While it has long been known that US defence firms supply billions of dollars’ worth of equipment for drone operations, the role of the private sector in supplying analysts for combing through intelligence material has remained almost entirely unknown until now.

WNU Editor: Here is an easy prediction .... this involvement of private contractors in drone operations and analysis is only going to grow.

Tonight's Movie Is The 1964 World War II Classic 'The Train'



From Wikipedia: The Train is a 1964 war film directed by John Frankenheimer from a story and screenplay by Franklin Coen and Frank Davis, based on the non-fiction book Le front de l'art by Rose Valland, who documented the works of art placed in storage that had been looted by the Germans from museums and private art collections. It stars Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, and Jeanne Moreau.

Set in August 1944, the film, shot in black-and-white, sets French Resistance-member Paul Labiche (Lancaster) against German Colonel Franz von Waldheim (Scofield), who is attempting to move stolen art masterpieces by train to Germany. Inspiration for the scenes of the train's interception came from the real-life events surrounding train No. 40,044 as it was seized and examined by Lt. Alexandre Rosenberg of the Free French forces outside Paris.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 31, 2015



Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal: The Taliban’s new leadership is allied with al Qaeda

The Taliban has announced that a new emir and two deputy emirs have been chosen to lead the organization following the confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death.

The Taliban’s new emir is Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, a longtime deputy to Omar. Mansour previously served as the minister of civil aviation and transportation during the Taliban’s rule from 1996 to 2001 and as the group’s shadow governor for the Kandahar province.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 31, 2015

Analysis: Afghan govt hopes to divide and conquer Taliban -- Lynne O'Donnell, AP

Mullah Omar: the one-eyed man who was king -- The Economist

Intel Assesses Iran Deal, Without Really Assessing Iran -- Eli Lake, Bloomberg

The Iran Side Deals: The GOP’s New Reason to Vote ‘No’ -- Rob Garver, Fiscal Times

Gambling on Iran: The Nuclear Deal and the Legacy of John Kerry -- Jonathan Broder, Newsweek

The U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue: Drift Along the Nile -- Guest Blogger for Steven A. Cook, Council on Foreign Relations

The secret to Ethiopia's counterterrorism success -- Mehari Taddele Maru, Al Jazeera

It's not at war, but up to 3% of its people have fled. What is going on in Eritrea? -- Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian

Vaccine success holds hope for end to deadly scourge of Ebola -- Kate Kelland and Tom Miles, Reuters

Who's Nexit? 5 EuroStates in Trouble -- Daniel Altman, Foreign Policy

Year under sanctions: how Russian banks survive -- ITAR-TASS

Why Switzerland’s central bank just lost $52 billion -- Chris Matthews, Fortune

Brazil's Corruption Crackdown Isn't Just P.R. -- Mac Margolis, Bloomberg

After 500 days of mystery, MH370 answers could come soon -- Michael Pearson, Jethro Mullen and Nima Elbagir, CNN

Beyond Cecil the Lion: Trophy-Hunting Industry in Africa Explained -- ABC News

World News Briefs -- July 31, 2015 (Evening Edition)



New York Times: ISIS Rivals Attack U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group

BAGHDAD — A Syrian insurgent group at the heart of the Pentagon’s effort to marshal local foot soldiers against Islamic State militants came under intense attack on Friday from a different hard-line Islamist faction, the Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

The Nusra Front said in a statement that its aim was to eliminate the American-aligned unit, known as Division 30, before it could gain a deeper foothold in Syria. The Nusra Front did much the same last year when it smashed the main groups that had been trained and equipped in a different American effort, one run covertly by the C.I.A.

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqis vent rage at power shortages, 'corrupt' leaders.

U.S.-led coalition stages 41 air strikes on Islamic State: military statement.

Nusra Front attacks Western-backed rebels in northern Syria. US-trained Syrian rebels killed and leaders captured by al-Qaida affiliate.

Several dead in Turkey in attacks blamed on PKK group.

Erdogan signals possible Turkey snap election.

Yemen's Houthis suffer more setbacks near Aden-southern sources.

Iran's foreign minister calls for world's nuclear weapons states to disarm.

Iran calls for Israel's nuclear disarmament.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt sign 'Cairo Declaration'.

Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record.

Palestinian fury as 'Jewish settler' arson attack kills child. UN chief calls attack that killed a Palestinian toddler a 'terrorist act,' blames impunity.

ASIA

India, Bangladesh settle decades-old boundary dispute.

Olympics: Beijing celebrates historic day after landing 2022 Winter Games. Olympics-Rights groups slam decision to give Beijing Winter Games.

China blames U.S. military actions for tensions in the South China Sea.

China, Southeast Asia to set up hotline for South China Sea issues.

US urges Taliban to remain engaged in Afghan peace talks.

Increasing confidence plane wreckage is from MH370, Australian official says.

Freeing of Chinese loggers riles Myanmar citizens.

Myanmar floods: More than 20 die and many displaced.

Executives to be tried over Fukushima nuclear disaster.

AFRICA

Seven Libyan soldiers killed in clashes with Islamic State.

Nigeria attacks kill 16 as force chief promises to crush Boko Haram.

Nigeria: Bombing at Maiduguri market kills 5.

Muslims being 'erased' from Central African Republic.

Chad reintroduces death penalty for acts of terror.

Tunisia prolongs state of emergency.

Eritrea blames migrant exodus on human trafficking.

Zimbabwe wants US man in lion killing extradited.

Ebola vaccine is 'potential game-changer'.

EUROPE

Moscow vows to retaliate against latest US sanctions.

Ukraine court permits self-rule for pro-Russia rebels.

Greek PM Tsipras defends Varoufakis over 'Grexit' row.

Greek debt crisis adds to a spike in burglaries and robberies.

Litvinenko inquiry: Vladimir Putin 'ordered killing'.

Germany wants to resume the NATO-Russia Council.

Poland's future President wants more NATO presence.

Under Western pressure, Kosovo to put war crimes court to new vote.

Striking French ferry workers block Calais port route with huge fire.

Calais migrant crisis: PM pledges extra dogs and fencing.

AMERICAS

Venezuela supermarket looting leaves one dead, dozens detained.

Mexican president's approval ratings hit after drug kingpin's escape.

Growing California wildfire destroys homes, forces hundreds to flee.

Obama urges supporters of Iran deal: Lobby Congress for it.

IAEA chief 'positively' mulling U.S. Senate invite to speak on Iran.

Colombia begins exhuming what may be the world’s largest urban mass grave.

Mexico approves U.S. extradition warrant for fugitive kingpin Guzman.

Chileans spooked by crime, demand government action.

Venezuela troops occupy Polar food distribution warehouses.

U.S. officials can’t find Cecil the lion’s killer as Zimbabwe calls for his extradition.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

New Taliban leaders have deep experience in Afghan insurgency.

Jalaluddin Haqqani, Afghan militant leader 'has died'. Reports of Haqqani network founder's death, but family denies.

US judge rejects Guant√°namo detainee's unlawful imprisonment challenge.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street ends lower as weak oil weighs.

Weak oil prices hurt Exxon Mobil and Chevron results.

These nations are panicking with gold and copper prices so low.

Swiss central bank makes 50bn Swiss franc loss.

U.S. Air Force Secretary Acknowledges Wide Range Of Problems With The F-35 Program

The F 35 (back) flies alongside the F 16 (front). US Air Force

Business Insider/Military: Air Force secretary: The F-35 has a wide range of problems

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has admitted to a wide range of past and present problems with the F-35 while maintaining that the fifth-general will eventually guarantee the US continued air supremacy over rivals.

"The biggest lesson I have learned from the F-35 is never again should we be flying an aircraft while we're building it," James said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last week.

In development stages, "People believed we could go faster, cheaper, better" by designing and building the F-35 concurrently, "and that the degree of concurrency would work. Indeed it has not worked as well as we had hoped and that's probably the understatement of the day," James said.

WNU Editor: This is so typical of how the main stream media covers the F-35 program .... scores of news reports on the U.S. Marine Corps announcement that the F-35 is now combat ready (no mention on the limits that have been imposed because it is not ready for combat) ..... and on the other side only one or two reports on the U.S. Air Force Secretary acknowledging that the F-35 has a "wide range of problems" .... who then tries to reassure everyone that it will eventually (cough cough) be solved. And people wonder why I am sceptical?!?!?!?

U.S. Marines: F-35B Fighter Is Now Ready For Combat.

Lockheed Martin

Bloomberg: U.S. Marines Declare F-35B Ready for Limited Combat Duty

The Marine Corps has declared its version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter ready for limited combat operations, a milestone for the Pentagon’s costliest weapons program, according to three people familiar with the decision.

General Joseph Dunford, the Marine Corps commandant, made the decision, according to the people, who asked not to be identified in advance of an announcement expected on Friday afternoon. Members of Congress were being notified of the decision.

The declaration of “initial operational capability” came more than five years later than originally predicted in 2001, when the F-35 program began. Earlier delays resulted from difficulties in reducing the plane’s weight, with its propulsion system and with reliability.

Shortcomings in the current version of the fighter’s software limit how many weapons it can carry and how many planes can share data during a mission.

More News On The U.S. Marines Announcing That The F-35B Fighter Is Now Ready For Combat

Marines: F-35B Squadron Ready for Worldwide Deployment -- US Department of Defense
Marine Corps Announces F-35B Fighter Jet Ready for Initial Operations -- DoD Buzz
Marines Declare F-35B Operational -- Defense News
U.S. Marines declare initial F-35 squadron ready for combat -- Reuters
Marine Version Of F-35 Deemed 'Combat Ready' -- NPR
First F-35 fighter jets declared ‘combat ready’ by Marines -- Star Telegram
Marine Corps Declares Its Problem-Plagued F-35 Ready for Combat -- Fiscal Times
First F-35 squadron ready for deployment -- The Hill
First operational F-35 squadron declared ready for combat -- Flight Global
F-35 fighter declared ready to deploy -- Washington Examiner
Much criticized F-35 goes operational for Marines -- Stars and Stripes
The Marines say the controversial F-35 fighter is now ready for combat. Now what? -- Christian Davenport, Washington Post

Al Qaeda Linked Al Nusra Front Has Launched A Full Scale Attack On U.S. Trained Syrian Rebels



New York Times: Nusra Front Attacks U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group

BAGHDAD — A Syrian insurgent group at the heart of the Pentagon’s effort to marshal local foot soldiers against the Islamic State came under intense attack on Friday, not from Islamic State militants but from a different hard-line Islamist faction, the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Witnesses described the fighting as an all-out assault with medium and heavy weapons against a base west of the border town of Azaz in Aleppo province. It came a day after two leaders and at least six fighters of the American-aligned insurgent unit, called Division 30, were captured by the Nusra Front.

The Nusra Front issued a statement later on Friday saying that its aim was to eliminate the American-aligned fighters before they gained a deeper foothold in Syria. The Nusra Front did much the same last year when it smashed the main groups that had been trained and equipped in a different American effort, one run covertly by the C.I.A.

WNU Editor: The interesting thing about the above video is the remark made by the U.S. trained Syrian rebel that U.S. forces are in Syria directing air strikes. As of yet .... no response from the Pentagon or White house on these claims.

More News On Reports That The Al Qaeda Linked Al Nusra Front Has Launched A Full Scale Attack On U.S. Trained Syrian Rebels

Al-Qaida Attacks HQ of Rebel Group It Calls US 'Agents' -- AP
US-trained Syrian rebels killed and leaders captured by al-Qaida affiliate -- The Guardian
US-trained Syrian rebels killed by al-Qaeda affiliate -- The Telegraph
Al Qaeda in Syria says detains U.S.-trained rebels -- Reuters
Al-Qaeda in Syria claims capture of US-backed rebels -- AFP
Syria crisis: Al-Nusra Front 'seizes US-backed rebels' -- BBC|
Monitor: US-trained Rebels in Syria Attacked -- VOA

U.S. Marines Detained In Vienna For Flying With 'Unlicensed Arms'



Stars and Stripes: Marines held up in Vienna en route to Ukraine

Nine U.S. Marines en route to Ukraine for a training exercise were held up in Vienna for questioning last week because their weapons had not been properly declared, an Austrian newspaper reported.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Westover, a EUCOM spokesperson, said the Marines were traveling by commercial air from Alaska to Ukraine to participate in the Saber Guardian exercise.

“They were stopped while traveling on NATO travel orders through Vienna,” Westover said in a statement. The Austrian newspaper Kurier reported on its website Wednesday that the Marines were carrying weapons without the necessary clearance.

WNU Editor: Not surprising .... the Russian press is having a field day on this story .... US marines flying with unlicensed arms to Ukraine detained in Vienna, sent home (RT). Also not surprising .... it is going to take weeks to sort this all out (or when the story blows over) .... Probe Into US Soldiers' Attempt to Bring Weapons to Ukraine Will Take Weeks (Sputnik).

Yup .... the dog days of summer are upon us.

Russia And France Agree On Compensation Terms For Failed Mistral Ship Deal

Two Mistral-class helicopter carriers Sevastopol (L) and Vladivostok are seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France, May 21, 2015. REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE

Defense News/AFP: Russia Says Mistral Compensation Deal Reached

MOSCOW — Russia has reached a compensation deal with France for the non-delivery of two Mistral warships, a Kremlin aide has said, but Paris on Friday refused to confirm a final agreement.

The fate of the two Mistral helicopter carriers has plagued France-Russia ties for more than a year, following Paris' decision in November to put the €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) deal on ice as the West slapped sanctions on
Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and alleged backing for separatist rebels in Ukraine.

"The negotiations are completely finished, everything has already been decided, both the time-frame and the amount," President Vladimir Putin's adviser for military and technical cooperation, Vladimir Kozhin, told state
news agency RIA Novosti on Thursday evening. "I hope we will sign the agreement on the termination of the contract as soon as possible."

WNU Editor: France is denying reports that a deal has been reached .... France Denies Russian Reports of Deal on Mistral Warship Compensation (Moscow Times/Reuters).

More News On Russia And France Agreeing On Compensation Terms For Failed Mistral Ship Deal

France, Russia reach Mistral compensation deal: RIA -- Reuters
Exposed: France Will Pay Russia $1.27 Billion for Mistral Non-Delivery -- Sputnik
Decision on Mistral helicopter carriers to be made by end of summer — French PM -- ITAR-TASS
France 'agrees to pay compensation' to Russia for cancelling delivery of $1.3bn helicopter carriers over Ukraine crisis -- Daily Mail
Mistral Military Ships Refund: Russia, France Agree To Terms For Undelivered Seacraft -- IBTimes
France and Russia ‘reach Mistral compensation deal’ -- Euronews
France, Russia in compensation deal on Mistral warships -- Deutsche Welle
Kremlin Aide Says Refund Deal Reached For Undelivered Mistral Warships -- Radio Free Europe
Collapse of Mistral deal to make Russia more pragmatic — lawmaker -- ITAR-TASS

Germans Appear Split On Keeping German Patriot Missiles In Turkey



Sputnik: NATO Split: Germany Wants to Withdraw Patriot Missiles From Turkey

Military expert of the German CSU party Florian Hahn called for the withdrawal of German Patriot missiles from Turkey due to attacks carried out by the government forces against the Kurds, DWN reported.

The expert believes that Germany and Turkey have less and less in common due to attacks of the Turkish forces against the Kurds in northern Iraq.

This signifies the first split inside NATO, which earlier decided to lend military support for its member, Turkey, the German newspaper wrote.

WNU Editor: If Turkey's war against the Kurds escalates .... expect concerns from NATO to rise .... exponentially so if it becomes evident that Turkey is targeting Kurdish forces while leaving ISIS forces alone.

Israel Prepares Its Defenses On The Lebanese Border As Hezbollah Anticipates Arms From Iran

Iron Dome missile defense batteries are being redeployed to the north in Israel, according to Col. Yoni Saada Marom, commander of Israel’s Active Defense Air Wing. (FoxNews.com)

FOX News: Israel readies Iron Dome on Lebanon border as Hezbollah anticipates arms from Iran

HAIFA, Israel – One year after Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system helped protect citizens from a rocket barrage launched from Gaza, the Jewish State has deployed the shield to the north, likely amid fears Lebanon-based Hezbollah could get an infusion of cash and weapons from Iran.

In an exclusive interview with FoxNews.com, Col. Yoni Saada Marom, commander of Israel’s Active Defense Air Wing, said that the military drills were not a direct reaction to recent events, but made clear that Hezbollah and other terror organizations close to Israel's borders presented a potentially heightened threat.

“We saw that during Operation Protective Edge [2014 Gaza War] the Iron Dome faced one kind of challenge in the south,” he said. “Now, we are dealing with the challenges and scenarios that we think the enemies from the north will bring. One of the scenarios could be that, like Hamas, they will try and challenge us with a variety of threats simultaneously -- which is a great challenge -- but we are developing our concepts of operation.”

WNU Editor: With sanctions being lifted against Iran coupled with tens of billions of dollars that have been frozen now being returned to the Iranian government .... I guess Hezbollah is expecting some of this cash will be going there way in the form of arms .... and Israel doubly so as they boost their defenses.

Another Top Afghan Militant Leader Being Reported Dead One Year After His Death

Pakistani militant Jalaluddin Haqqani (file photo)

BBC: Afghan militant leader Jalaluddin Haqqani 'has died'

Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Afghan founder of the militant Haqqani network, died at least a year ago, sources close to the group have told the BBC.

Haqqani died after a long illness and was buried in Afghanistan, the sources added.

Rumours about Haqqani's death have circulated for some years and can still not be independently confirmed.

The latest report comes a day after the Taliban acknowledged that its leader, Mullah Omar, was dead.

Reports of Haqqani's death, quoting Taliban sources, also appeared in Pakistani media on Friday. One senior Afghan official said he had died six years ago.

WNU Editor: Another top militant's death being reported a year after the fact .... of course .... the family is denying these reports .... Rumors Over Jalalludin Haqqani's Death Swirl, Family Denies (Reuters).

More News On The Death Of Jalaluddin Haqqani

Jalaluddin Haqqani, veteran Afghan militant leader, 'has died' -- The Telegraph
Haqqani Network leader Jalaluddin Haqqani has died -- Khaama Press
Pakistani Media: Founder Of Militant Haqqani Militant Died 'A Year Ago' -- Radio Free Europe
‘Haqqani Network’ chief Jalaluddin Haqqani dead -- Times of India
Jalaluddin Haqqani, chief of Haqqani network, dead: Report -- Hindustan Times
Haqqani Network Chief Jalaluddin Haqqani Dead: Sources -- NDTV

World News Briefs -- July 31, 2015



VOA: Monitor: US-trained Rebel Group in Syria Attacked by Nusra Front

The al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front attacked the headquarters of a new U.S.-formed rebel group in northern Syria early Friday, rebel groups and an organization monitoring the war said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based pro-opposition group that relies on sources inside Syria, said the clashes left at least 13 people on both sides dead.

The Observatory also said Friday that warplanes believed to belong to the U.S.-led coalition had bombed Nusra Front positions near Azaz, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Aleppo city.

MIDDLE EAST

U.S.-led coalition stages 41 air strikes on Islamic State: military statement.

Nusra Front attacks Western-backed rebels in northern Syria. US-trained Syrian rebels killed and leaders captured by al-Qaida affiliate.

Several dead in Turkey in attacks blamed on PKK group.

Yemen's Houthis suffer more setbacks near Aden-southern sources.

Iran's foreign minister calls for world's nuclear weapons states to disarm.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt sign 'Cairo Declaration'.

Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record.

Palestinian fury as 'Jewish settler' arson attack kills child.

ASIA

Olympics: Beijing celebrates historic day after landing 2022 Winter Games. Olympics-Rights groups slam decision to give Beijing Winter Games.

China blames U.S. military actions for tensions in the South China Sea.

China, Southeast Asia to set up hotline for South China Sea issues.

US urges Taliban to remain engaged in Afghan peace talks.

Increasing confidence plane wreckage is from MH370, Australian official says.

Freeing of Chinese loggers riles Myanmar citizens.

Myanmar floods: More than 20 die and many displaced.

Executives to be tried over Fukushima nuclear disaster.

AFRICA

Nigeria: Bombing at Maiduguri market kills 5.

Muslims being 'erased' from Central African Republic.

Chad reintroduces death penalty for acts of terror.

Tunisia prolongs state of emergency.

Eritrea blames migrant exodus on human trafficking.

Zimbabwe wants US man in lion killing extradited.

Ebola vaccine is 'potential game-changer'.

EUROPE

Greek PM Tsipras defends Varoufakis over 'Grexit' row.

Greek debt crisis adds to a spike in burglaries and robberies.

Litvinenko inquiry: Vladimir Putin 'ordered killing'.

Germany wants to resume the NATO-Russia Council.

Poland's future President wants more NATO presence.

Under Western pressure, Kosovo to put war crimes court to new vote.

Striking French ferry workers block Calais port route with huge fire.

Calais migrant crisis: PM pledges extra dogs and fencing.

AMERICAS

Obama urges supporters of Iran deal: Lobby Congress for it.

IAEA chief 'positively' mulling U.S. Senate invite to speak on Iran.

Colombia begins exhuming what may be the world’s largest urban mass grave.

Mexico approves U.S. extradition warrant for fugitive kingpin Guzman.

Chileans spooked by crime, demand government action.

Venezuela troops occupy Polar food distribution warehouses.

U.S. officials can’t find Cecil the lion’s killer as Zimbabwe calls for his extradition.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

New Taliban leaders have deep experience in Afghan insurgency.

Jalaluddin Haqqani, Afghan militant leader 'has died'.

US judge rejects Guant√°namo detainee's unlawful imprisonment challenge.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Weak oil prices hurt Exxon Mobil and Chevron results.

These nations are panicking with gold and copper prices so low.

Swiss central bank makes 50bn Swiss franc loss.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 31, 2015



David Axe, War Is Boring: A Series of Mistakes Led to NATO’s Bloody Air Crash

A stray checklist and sloppy procedures might have caused a Greek F-16 to crash into a crowded tarmac

The twin-seat F-16D was airborne for just 7.8 seconds. Barely enough time for the two Greek air force pilots to register what was happening — and not enough time to safely eject before the single-engine jet fighter plunged to Earth, plowing into the crowded tarmac at Los Llanos air base in southern Spain during the middle of a NATO Tactical Leadership Program war game.

Ten people — eight of them French airmen on the ground — died immediately in the Jan. 26, 2015 incident, including the two flight lieutenants in the F-16, Panagiotis Laskaris, 35, and 32-year-old Athanasios Zagas. One French airman died in a hospital the next day, raising the death toll to 11. Thirty-three French and Italian ground personnel suffered injuries, some of them serious.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 31, 2015

NATO agrees on support package for Iraq to strengthen security, defense sectors -- FOX News/AP

NATO Decides to Provide Defense Assistance Package to Iraq -- Sputnik

Ukraine-Russia Conflict: German Military Spending $21 Million On Troops For NATO Exercises In Ukraine -- IBTimes

NATO Commander: Russia’s use of force in Europe is a major threat -- PBS Newshour

NATO intercepts record numbers of Russian aircraft over Baltic -- IHS Jane's 360

Russian military controls 500km of offshore Arctic - Defense Ministry -- RT

Russia to re-start launches of ‘Satan’ ICBM -- Russia & India Report

Russia’s Answer to NATO: Robotic Cannon and Smart Anti-Torpedo -- Sputnik

Russia’s Defense Ministry gives up excessive types of uniforms, saves $200 mln -- ITAR-TASS

Russia Mistral: France 'agrees warship compensation' -- BBC

India, Russia to Resume Co-Development of 5th Generation Fighter Jet -- Sputnik

China and Russia to Hold Military Exercise in the Sea of Japan -- The Diplomat

Brand New Russian, Chinese Hypersonic Weapons Unnerve US -- Sputnik

Xi Jinping’s fight against corruption in the military continues -- The Economist

Confirmed: China Building New Aircraft Carrier Possibly Nuclear Powered -- Sputnik

S. Korea to start mass production of new M-SAM missile -- Yonhap News Agency

Britain to double number of military personnel in South East Asia war games -- The Telegraph

Airbus seeks to rebuild trust as A400M systems fall short -- Reuters

Nigeria military poorly equipped to fight Boko Haram: military chief -- AFP

Nigerian Army Lacks Funding, Arms To Fight Boko Haram, Sacked Military Chief Warns -- IBTimes

Wikileaks: US 'spied on Japan government and companies' -- BBC

The first F-35 squadron is ready for combat, according to the Marines -- Reuters

Boeing Shuffles Leadership for Struggling KC-46 Program -- Defense News

Report: US strategic bomber spending totals $58B through 2024 -- Flight Global

LCS Anti-Sub Warfare Package Too Heavy; 3 Contracts Issued For Weight Reduction Study -- USNI News

More Powerful, Special-Ops Sniper Rifle Unlikely for Marine Snipers -- Military.com

Army faces recruit deficit, may miss '15 goal -- USA Today

Pentagon Could Allow More Military Personnel to Carry Guns in Wake of Chattanooga Shooting -- WSJ

Force 2025 and Beyond: How the Army Is Preparing for Its Future -- Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Defense One

Podcast: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may be the future, but is that a good thing? -- Jason Fields, Reuters

Pakistan 'Protected' The Afghan Taliban Leader From U.S. Authorities

FOX News: US long suspected Pakistan of sheltering late Taliban leader Mullah Omar, report says

U.S. intelligence officials suspected Pakistan of sheltering Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, one of the world's most wanted men, for years before his death, according to a published report.

On Wednesday, Afghan officials announced that they believed Omar had died in a Pakistan hospital sometime in 2013. On Thursday, the Taliban issued a statement confirming the death of the man known as "The Commander of the Faithful", but did not specify when or how he had died. The Taliban statement also specifically claimed that Mullah Omar never left Afghanistan, "even to go to Pakistan or to any other country."

However, the Washington Post, citing diplomatic and intelligence documents, reported that the CIA had a lead on the reclusive Omar's whereabouts several times in 2010 and 2011, always placing him in Pakistan. The suspicions are another example of the complex relationship between the U.S. and one of its key allies in the global war on terror.

WNU Editor: This is an understatement on U.S. - Pakistan intelligence cooperation from former CIA/NSA Director Michael Hayden .... Michael Hayden: Mullah Omar Mystery Shows Poor Intel Cooperation (Newsmax). As to the Washington Post story that the above FOX News report is quoting, it is here .... Taliban leader Omar’s tale reflects clashing agendas (Washington Post).

Taliban Fighters 'Worried And Confused' After Death Of Leader

The Independent: Mohammad Akhtar Mansoor: Taliban fighters 'worried and confused' after death of leader

The Afghan Taliban has sought to quell divisions within the group following confirmation of the death of its former leader.

A statement released by the group on Friday described Akhtar Mohammad Mansour as one of the most “trusted” associates of the late leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

According to the group, Mansoor had been an “active director” of jihad for at least three years and had been serving as Omar’s deputy before he died.

WNU Editor: The war will go on .... the Taliban military commanders have made that very clear .... but the announcement of Mullah Omar's death is a major hit to the rank and file in the Taliban, and the real battle will now be on the political level, and who will represent the Taliban on this level. On a side note .... the big winners will be the Islamic State .... A Leaderless Taliban Benefits Islamic State (Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, Bloomberg).

With The Death Of Mullah Omar Will The Taliban Now Split Apart?

The Tolonews website runs a story on its front page reporting about news of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in Kabul May 23, 2011. REUTERS/AHMAD MASOOD/FILES

Reuters: Exclusive: Walkout at Taliban leadership meeting raises specter of split

At the Taliban meeting this week where Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was named as the Islamist militant group's new head, several senior figures in the movement, including the son and brother of late leader Mullah Omar, walked out in protest.

The display of dissent within the group's secretive core is the clearest sign yet of the challenge Mansour faces in uniting a group already split over whether to pursue peace talks with the Afghan government and facing a new, external threat - Islamic State.

Rifts in the Taliban leadership are likely to widen after confirmation this week of the death of elusive founder Omar.

Mansour, Omar's longtime deputy who has been effectively in charge for years, favors talks to bring an end to more than 13 years of war. He recently sent a delegation to inaugural meetings with Afghan officials hosted by Pakistan, hailed as a breakthrough.

Update #1: Top Omar Aide Says New Taliban Leader Faced Opposition -- Radio Free Europe
Update #2: News Analysis: Mullah Omar's death may split Taliban's ranks -- Xinhua

WNU Editor: The new leader of the Taliban kept the death of Mullah Omar secret for two years .... if he had felt comfortable in his leadership position he would have made this announcement within days if not weeks after he learned of his death. He choose not to .... which tells me that he knew that he would be facing opposition to his leadership role in the Taliban, hence the deception. Now that the secret is out of the bag, he is facing opposition. Will this opposition be enough to have him replaced .... we shall see.

Who Is Mullah Akhtar Mansoor The New Leader Of The Taliban

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the newly named chief of the Taliban

Sami Yousafzai, Daily Beast: Up Close With the Taliban’s Next King

Over the last 21 years I’ve had many encounters with the man who will now head the Afghan Taliban fighting the U.S.-backed government in Kabul. What lies behind his dark glasses?

The first time I met Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor, the new leader of the Afghan Taliban, was in 1994, as the movement was just taking shape and before he’d decided to join. He came to my father’s Islamic bookshop in the Jalozai refugee camp for Afghans near Peshawar, Pakistan. He was about 25, appeared serious and was not so slender as the other students with him. He wore a big shalwar kamiz, the typical Pashtun clothing, and he wore sunglasses which was not really typical at all. In this part of the world, people like to see each other’s eyes.

This was the same man, you will recall, who hid the death of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, for more than a year. But of course that was much later.

More News On Mullah Akhtar Mansoor The New Leader Of The Taliban

Taliban leader: Who is Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansoor? -- AP
Mullah Akhtar Mansoor: Taliban's new leader has a reputation for moderation -- The Guardian
Who is 'new Taliban leader' Mullah Akhtar Mansoor? -- The Telegraph
Afghanistan: Who is new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour? -- IBTimes
Who is Mullah Akhtar Mansoor? -- Ary News
Mullah Mansoor: A look at the new leader of Taliban -- Times of India
Q&A: A Look at the New Leader of Afghanistan's Taliban -- AP

An 'Insiders' Account On The Death Of Afghan Taliban Leader Mullah Omar

A reward poster from a Pakistani newspaper shows Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. FAISAL MAHMOOD/REUTERS

Newsweek: Exclusive: Inside the Mysterious ‘Death’ of Taliban Leader Mullah Omar

Just before the end of Ramadan this year, I received an unexpected call from one of Mullah Mohammed Omar’s longtime family friends. He had just learned a secret held by only a tiny circle of Omar’s most trusted associates: The supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban was dead.

Rumors of Omar’s death have been circulating since he vanished in late 2001. The last verifiable sighting placed him on the back of a Honda motorbike, heading into the mountains outside Kandahar while the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance fighters closed in on the city. But this caller was different—extraordinarily well placed to know about the Mullah’s whereabouts. His claims were also very detailed. He asked not to be quoted by name on such a sensitive topic, but he and his family are highly respected for their longtime humanitarian work in Pakistan’s Afghan exile community.

WNU Editor: Rumours of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar dying have been circulating for years .... and just like Osama Bin Laden .... these rumours could never be confirmed. Osama Bin laden met his fate in 2011 ... but Mullah Omar fate remained a mystery until this week. I do not know if the above Newsweek account is accurate, but I do know that it must have been quite a feat to keep his death secret for two years .... New Taliban Chief Deceived Others About Mullah Omar's Death: Report (NDTV).

More News On The The Death Of Taliban Leader Mullah Omar (Updated)



Daily Mail: Taliban appoint new leader as family of former commander Mullah Omar say he died from an 'unspecified illness'

* Akhtar Mohammed Mansour thought to have been named Supreme Leader
* Known as a moderate who is keen on a peace deal with Pakistani officials
* Appointment has thought to have caused a rift with more militant leaders
* Comes as letter thought to be from family of Omar says he died of illness

The Taliban have appointed a successor to leader Mullah Omar just a day after the Afghan government revealed he has been dead for the last two years.
Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour, Omar's former deputy, has reportedly been elevated to the rank of 'Supreme Leader', sources close to the Taliban said.
Mansour was the former minister for civil aviation when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan from 1993 to 2001 before going into hiding following the American invasion.

More News On The The Death Of Taliban Leader Mullah Omar (Updated)

Taliban Announce New Leader, and Pick 2 Deputies From Hard-Line Wing -- NYT
Afghan Taliban announces new leader -- L.A. Times
The Afghan Taliban Has Elected a New Leader After Mullah Omar’s Death -- Time
Taliban Announces New Leader as Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor -- NBC
Afghan Taliban Praise New Leader in Effort to Rally Ranks -- AP
Taliban Announce New Leadership -- VOA
Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead. Here's why that matters. -- Zack Beauchamp, VOX
Taliban leader Omar’s tale reflects clashing agendas -- Greg Miller, Washington Post
After Mullah Omar, Taliban leaders face a legitimacy crisis -- Michael Wahid Hanna, Al Jazeera

Is The U.S. Navy Facing A 'Carrier Gap'?

The USS Carl Vinson leads the USS Bunker Hill and the USS Halsey during a passing exercise with Indian navy ships during Exercise Malabar 2012 in the Indian Ocean, April 16, 2012. The Vinson, Bunker Hill and Halsey comprise Carrier Strike Group 1 and are participating in the annual bilateral naval field training exercise with the Indian navy to advance multinational maritime relationships and mutual security issues. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman George M. Bell

Stars and Stripes: Admiral: Carrier gap in Persian Gulf hinders war effort

WASHINGTON — A rare gap in the presence of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf this fall could hinder military capabilities in the war against the Islamic State, the Obama administration’s nominee to lead the Navy told the Senate Thursday.

Adm. John Richardson conceded the effects of a two-month gap in carrier presence — the first since 2007 — under intense questioning from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as the Senate Armed Services Committee weighs whether approve the admiral’s nomination as chief of naval operations.

“Without that carrier, that will be a detriment to our capability, yes, sir,” Richardson said.

WNU Editor: There are consequences when you start cutting your defense budgets .... limiting your options on what you can do in a war-zone is one of them.

Why Is The White House Treating Unclassified Documents On The Iran Nuclear Deal 'Secret'

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Tim Mak, Daily Beast: The Iran Nuke Documents Obama Doesn’t Want You to See

Seventeen unclassified Iran deal items have been locked in ultra-secure facilities ordinarily used for top secret info. Why is the Obama administration trying to bury this material?
Scattered around the U.S. Capitol complex are a series of Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities, or SCIFs, which are typically used to hold Top Secret information.

But today in these deeply secure settings are a series of unclassified documents—items dealing with the Iran nuclear deal that are not secret, but that the Obama administration is nevertheless blocking the public from reading.

The Obama administration delivered 18 documents to Congress on July 19, in accordance with legislation requiring a Congressional review of the nuclear deal. Only one of these documents is classified, while the remaining 17 are unclassified

WNU Editor: I expect these documents will eventually be made available to the public .... if not after the affirmation of the Iranian nuclear deal by Congress .... than after the next US Presidential election..

The World Nuclear Threat Is Worse Than Ever

www.icanw.org

Nathalie Guibert, World Crunch: Iran Deal Or Not, World Nuclear Threat Is Worse Than Ever

The treaty signed with Iran won't eliminate the risk of global proliferation. Russia, China and North Korea in particular are building arsenals and see destabilization as strategy.

PARIS — Despite the historic agreement reached with Iran July 14, the idea of a world with no atomic weapon remains a dream, even 25 years after the end of the Cold War. There are 4,100 nuclear warheads on the planet, and 1,800 of them are American or Russian ones in a state of alert, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) experts.

No indeed, the Iranian deal hasn't come close to eliminating the risks of proliferation. In fact, North Korea announced in the wake of the deal that, for its part, it was "not interested at all by a unilateral freeze or the abandonment of its nuclear program."

The use of the bomb became irrelevant in the past decade as new threats emerged (terrorism and cyber-terrorism, in particular) and as existential border risks to Europe disappeared. During the 1990s, the United States, Russia, France and United Kingdom decided to cut their nuclear arsenals. China was the only country with nuclear weapons that did not follow suit. Asia, in fact, has become a nuclear continent. Those who believed that the Iran nuclear deal would stop proliferation were wrong.

WNU editor: I cannot help but feel that the world has become desensitized to the existential threat that these weapons possess. Growing up .... the fear of these weapons and their possible use was something that we were all exposed to, and in turn I could not help but feel that our political leaders .... while still pursuing a policy of nuclear proliferation .... had to also be sensitive to these public concerns. Today .... the focus is elsewhere, and while our attention is elsewhere the technology and knowledge to make these weapon systems is becoming more widely distributed and available.

The U.S. Navy SEALs Want A Mini-Sub



Foxtrot Alpha: Is This Semi-Autonomous Mini Submarine The SEALs' Next Super Weapon?

U.S. Navy SEALs have to infiltrate and exfiltrate from some of the most hostile areas on earth, and often times they travel underwater to do so. The Mark 8 SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) has been used in various configurations for decades for this mission, and after previous tries to replace it, a group with an incredible maritime tech pedigree thinks they have the solution.

Meet Proteus, the brainchild of Huntington Ingalls Underwater Solutions Group, Bluefin Robotics and Battelle. This streamlined mini-sub goes far beyond being just another swimmer delivery vehicle, it is a “dual-mode” vehicle that can operate manned or unmanned for a wide array of missions.

WNU Editor: This is something new for the US Navy SEALs .... which surprises me because I thought they have been using mini-subs for years.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Russian Army Is Sabotaging Putin

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
Russian President Putin visiting the Armed Forces Central Command Centre. Kremlin.ru

Alexander Golts, Moscow Times: Army Brass Sabotaging Putin's Plans

Surprisingly, Russia's leaders do manage to come up with good ideas on occasion. But, of course, their subordinates immediately sabotage them to the best of their abilities. To the casual observer, it seems the military brass long ago stopped offering resistance to proposals from the president and defense minister, but Russian generals in fact continue to sabotage every order from the top that they dislike.

For example, President Vladimir Putin first began an experiment two years ago to create military reserve forces in a fairly civilized manner, and recently issued fresh orders to implement that project.

WNU Editor: I come from a family that has a long history of serving in the Russian military .... with some of my descendants even attaining the rank of General (my uncle retired a few years back with a rank that is equivalent to a 3-star U.S. general .... my father only served in the Second World War .... ending his career with the rank of Colonel) .... so growing up I can say with a great degree of confidence .... I have heard it all. This post by Alexander Golts is just the tip of the iceberg.

Japan Successfully Fired The World's Most Powerful Laser

Researchers in Osaka were able to produce a 2-petawatt - or 2 quadrillion-watt - laser beam using the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments (LFEX). This is equivalent to 1,000 times the world's electricity consumption, causing the laser to be compared to that on the Death Star in Star Wars (pictured)

Daily Mail: The Death Star weapon is here! Japan fires world's most powerful laser to produce energy equal to 1,000 times the planet's power consumption

* LFEX device produced 2-petawatts (2 quadrillion-watts) of energy
* The energy used for the laser beam itself would only be powerful enough to run a microwave for around two seconds, the Osaka researchers claim
* The high output was produced by firing the beam for just 1 pico-second

Japan claims to have fired the most powerful laser ever created.

Researchers in Osaka were able to produce a 2-petawatt laser beam using a device known as the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiment (LFEX).

The power of the 'Death Star'-like beam is equivalent to 1,000 times the world's total electricity consumption, the scientists claim.

WNU editor: The Japanese are already giving an indication on where they want to go with this technology .... Japan to Equip Two Warships With Laser Weapons (Sputnik).

More News On Japan Successfully Firing The World's Most Powerful Laser

World's most powerful laser fired in Japan -- Space Daily
Move over Dr. Evil! Japan fires world’s most-powerful laser beam -- RT
Japan fires the world's most powerful laser. -- Popular Science
Japan Just Successfully Fired The World's Most Powerful Laser -- Tech Times
Japan Creates 'Death Star' Laser, World's Most Powerful Pulse Could Blow Stuff Up -- IBTimes

It Costs The Pentagon $600,000 To Train One Anti-Islamic State Fighter

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Nancy Youssef, Daily Beast: U.S. Spends $600K Per Anti-ISIS Fighter

The Pentagon has spent roughly $36 million on its initial class of U.S.-trained rebels—or $600,000 per anti-ISIS trainee. The average fighter makes between $200-$400 a month, depending on his skillset. In all, officials have allotted $500 million for the training program. U.S. defense officials recently boasted that more Syrians signed up to receive U.S training and take on the self-proclaimed Islamic State since the inaugural class of only 60 fighters. As it turns out, the new class is short of 100 fighters, two defense officials told the Daily Beast. With that, the keystone of the U.S. approach to the war against ISIS in Syria – building up a force to counter the group continues to falter.

At U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East, defense officials said that while the current pace did not portend of reaching the goal of 15,000 recruits, at a rate of 5,000 a year, the program was on the right course. Defense officials said they are having a hard time because the vetting process is nearly impossible for most Syrians to pass through. The U.S. demands potential trainees vow to not attack Syrian President Bashir al Assad forces, even as many of those trainees hold Assad responsible for the destruction of their communities and unending death tolls. And U.S. trainers are reticent to accept fighters who have fought alongside many Syrian groups as they consider them too extreme, a difficult proposition in a nearly five-year civil war.

The result: 7,000 applied, 1,700 passed the initial vetting and only 60 completed the inaugural course.

WNU Editor: This article was posted 3 days ago .... but in view of what happened yesterday .... U.S. Anti-ISIS Rebels In Syria Kidnapped By Al Qaeda .... it is clear that this entire program is a complete and unmitigated disaster.

U.S. Anti-ISIS Rebels In Syria Kidnapped By Al Qaeda

Members of the Nusra Front, a group in Syria that is affiliated with Al Qaeda, near Aleppo last year. Nusra fighters have kidnapped the leader of a group of American-trained Syrian fighters. Credit Hosam Katan/Reuters

Michael Weiss and Nancy A. Youssef, Daily Beast: Pentagon Turns Its Anti-ISIS Rebels Into Cannon Fodder

Is Washington really trying to train a rebel army in Syria? Or are they just marking fighters for death—and worse?
The Pentagon’s plan to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIS had already devolved into farce, with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter informing Congress this month that a mere 54 had so far graduated from a program meant to produce 5,000 by the end of this year. But now the inevitable has happened: America’s new-minted counterterrorist proxies have been abducted by al Qaeda.

Colonel Nadim al-Hassan and as many as 20 other members of his U.S.-backed “Division 30” faction of Free Syrian Army rebels were kidnapped in the northern Aleppo countryside Thursday. The culprit, apparently, was Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al Qaeda franchise in Syria. A statement put out by Division 30 called for their comrades’ immediate release “to avoid bloodshed between Muslims.”

Jabhat al-Nusra has yet to comment as of Thursday afternoon.

WNU Editor: This is worse than farce.

More News On Reports That Anti-ISIS Rebels Who Have Been Trained By The U.S. Have Been Kidnapped By Al Qaeda In Syria

Abductions Hurt U.S. Bid to Train Anti-ISIS Rebels in Syria -- New York Times
Al Qaeda Kidnaps U.S.-Trained Rebels In Syria -- AP
Syrian conflict: Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front abduct leader of US-backed rebels dealing blow to plans to build moderate opposition to regime -- The Independent
Commander Of US-Trained, Anti-ISIS Force Reportedly Captured -- Daily Caller

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 30, 2015



Joseph Goldstein and Taimoor Shah, New York Times: Death of Mullah Omar Exposes Divisions Within Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — With word of Mullah Muhammad Omar’s death now getting out, most likely two years after the event, the world is catching up with a Taliban leadership crisis already in progress.

The questions the Taliban are wrestling with include not just who stands to succeed Mullah Omar as leader, but whether anyone has enough support to keep the insurgency from splintering irrevocably, especially over the issue of peace talks, according to Afghan and Western officials.

For the moment, the Taliban’s deputy leader over the past five years, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, is the de facto leader of the group’s governing body in exile, the Quetta Shura. He has had years to influence who rose among the Taliban’s ranks, has the tacit acceptance of the group’s Pakistani military monitors, and he has been the leader in a year when the Taliban have made their biggest military gains on the Afghan battlefield.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 30, 2015

Why the West may miss the Taliban’s Mullah Omar -- David Rohde, Reuters

How Turkey will change the war against ISIS -- Startfor

Mullah Omar's death: Will it make a difference in Afghan conflict? -- Tom Peter, CSM

After the Nuclear Deal, a Region Recalibrates -- Stratfor

Iran nuclear agreement: Is a 'better deal' possible – and at what cost? -- Howard LaFranchi, CSM

Are there really only two options on Iran? -- Doyle McManus, L.A. Times

Yemen's Hidden War: A journey into one of the most remote and dangerous countries in the world -- Matthieu Aikins, Rolling Stone

Democrats Own the Disaster in the Middle East -- Noah Rothman, Commentary

Africa to Obama: Mind your own business -- Andrew M Mwenda, Al Jazeera

The Greek crisis: What's Germany up to? -- ULRICH SPECK, EU Observer

Putin's Energy Giant Falls on Hard Times -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Vladimir Putin is suffocating his own nation -- Washington Post editorial

Why Americans Believe that Bombing Hiroshima was Necessary -- Gary G. Kohls, Scoop

Debris Shows MH370 Didn’t Nose Dive -- Clive Irving, Daily Beast