Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Different Viewpoint On The Crisis In Myanmar And The Rohingya

A large plume of smoke is seen on the Myanmar side of the border from Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 15, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Bertil Lintner, Asia Times: The truth behind Myanmar’s Rohingya insurgency

While the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army claims to be fighting an ethno-nationalist struggle, its leaders and extremist group links point towards a wider regional agenda.

While Myanmar’s emergent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claims it’s like other ethnic armed groups fighting for self-determination across the country and should not be branded as a terrorist organization, the realities on the ground tell a different tale.

ARSA represents an entirely new type of insurgency, one which the Myanmar military has demonstrated it is wholly ill-equipped to combat. Other ethnic resistance armies in Myanmar, such as those from the Kachin, Shan, Karen or Mon, dress in military uniforms with the names of their respective groups prominently displayed and badges showing their ranks.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is some truth to the above Asia Times post. WNU has been covering the ongoing insurgency in Rakhine state for a long time .... Violence Erupts In Myanmar's Region Bordering Bangladesh (October 10, 2016). And before the Rohingya crisis exploded last month, there was an insurgent attack on a number of police posts last month .... Rohingya Muslim Insurgents Have Launched Multiple Attacks Against Myanmar Police Posts (August 25, 2017). Does this justify ethnic cleansing .... of course not. But there is more to this conflict than just the exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Tweets For Today




After The War Comes The Clean-Up

A member of an Iraqi unit searches for bombs and mines near the site of an explosion in the city of Mosul, Iraq March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

Jack Detsch, Al-Monitor: US faces WWII-scale explosives cleanup in Iraq after Islamic State fight

Iraq’s fight to defeat the Islamic State won’t end with the military defeat of the group.

As the US-backed Iraqi Security Forces liberated Mosul and Tal Afar this summer, retreating fighters continued to leave behind scores of complex improvised explosive devices (IEDs), deliberately hidden in populated areas to kill and injure civilians. US officials tell Al-Monitor that American support for the Herculean effort to clear those vestiges of the three-year war might be needed for decades.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In Europe they are still finding bombs from World War One. In the case of Iraq .... I suspect that this work is going to last for decades.

Picture Of The Day

Soldiers, rescuers and people work at a collapsed building in Mexico City. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Mexico reels after devastating earthquake (Reuters).

Will The Mueller Commission Question Julian Assange?

Julian Assange

WNU Editor: Just want to share something that I have been wondering about for the past month. It was Julian Assange and Wikileaks that posted the emails that resulted in all the investigations, massive media speculation and hype, political battles that no one has seen since Watergate, wide spread demonstrations and accusations of electoral fraud ... culminating with the U.S. government imposing sanctions on Russia and the creation of the Mueller Commission whose purpose is to investigate Russia's role in last year's election. But what I do not understand is that even though all of these investigations and controversies center around what Julian Assange did last year .... no one from the Mueller team has even bothered to contact him or Wikileaks. No one. Just ponder that point.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Where Are The Russian Experts?


Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg: Wanted: Russia Experts, No Expertise Required

Jingoism has replaced scholarship and a spirit of real inquiry when it comes to Russia. That's a mistake.

There's a lot to unpack about the newly formed Committee to Investigate Russia, which aims to "help Americans recognize and understand the gravity of Russia’s continuing attacks on our democracy." Perhaps its most striking feature is that no Russia experts are involved; that's a sign of the times.

The Committee's birth received broad coverage in the U.S. because of the involvement of two celebrity actors, Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman, who introduced the new nonprofit in a video asserting that "We are at war." Reiner doesn't appear to have come into contact with Russia in his long career. Freeman made two movies with Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian director, including the 2016 flop "Ben Hur."

Read more ....

WNU Editor:I know how you feel Leonid Bershidsky .... no one is going to hire us .... but it is us that these "Russian experts" are always reading to know/learn what is happening in Russia.

Why China Will Not Accept A Nuclear Armed North Korea

Sarah Zheng, South China Morning Post: Three reasons China will not accept a nuclear armed North Korea

China’s ambassador to the US has said Beijing will not accept a nuclear armed North Korea amid the crisis over Pyongyang’s rapidly escalating weapons programme.

Cui Tiankai’s comments on Friday came after some experts and observers have said global powers should accept that Pyongyang has nuclear weapons and policy should now be directed at ensuring they do not use them.

Here are three reasons why China is so opposed to Kim Jong-un’s regime having nuclear arms:

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese that I know are horrified with what is happening in North Korea .... but they are too late. On my last trip to China a few years ago I was always talking about North Korea and the growing backlash against China's trade policies, but my Chinese hosts only wanted to talk about border disputes in the South China Sea and their dispute with Japan over a few islands. To them .... Chinese sovereignty and nationalism ruled the day, and issues like North Korea/tariff and trade restrictions/etc. were not even on their radar.. Today .... when I talk to them on Skype .... nothing but trade and North Korea.

We Are Now In A Pre-War Period

Earlier North Korea unveiled 'game-changer' ballistic missiles during a display of the country's military might

Arthur Waldron, FPRI: Our Brave New Nuclear World

So now we have a North Korea armed with long-range missiles and thermonuclear weapons. Make no mistake. This is the new normal. Pyongyang will never give them up, and no one can make them do so.

The follow-on effects of this development will transform global politics and security policy. A wave of nuclear proliferation and military buildup is definitely to be expected. So one must ask: given our knowledge of what was going on in North Korea, how did we ever let this happen? Also we must ask, what realistically can be done to lower the threat of war?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Could not have said it any better. But stopping a threat before it becomes too big of a threat to stop is also fraught with danger. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was to stop Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program before he became a real threat .... and we all know how that story turned out.

What Does The Total Destruction Of North Korea Mean?



Kori Schake, The Atlantic: What Total Destruction of North Korea Means

As Trump considers military options, he’s drawing unenforceable red lines.

Speaking before the UN General Assembly today, President Donald Trump announced that, unless North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, “the United States will have no choice but to totally destroy” the country. He sounded almost excited as he threatened, “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

North Korea is a serious problem, and not one of Trump’s making—the last four American presidents failed to impede North Korea’s progress towards a nuclear weapon. President George H.W. Bush took unilateral action, removing U.S. nuclear weapons and reducing America’s troop levels in the region, hoping to incentivize good behavior; Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush tried to negotiate restrictions; President Barack Obama mostly averted his eyes. North Korea defied them all.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a critical post on President Trump's U.N. remarks on North Korea yesterday .... but I think the author is missing the big picture, which is that North Korea's development of hydrogen bombs and a delivery system to carry them has completely changed the geopolitics of the region .... if not the world. President Trump's rhetoric was hard-core yesterday .... but a response had to be delivered in view of what is being said in North Korea. To put it bluntly .... using rhetoric promising the destruction of the U.S. if his (Kim Jong-Un's) demands are not met has crossed so many red-lines that I do not know where to begin. To put everything in context .... in the past the U.S., Soviet Union, China, etc. were very careful on the rhetoric that they used when it came to nuclear weapons. And if any country had used the rhetoric that Kim Jong-Un is using now, I can assure you that a nuclear war would have erupted very quickly. That is why I worry about the future .... if war breaks out on the Korean peninsula today the deployment and usage of nuclear weapons by the U.S. will happen very quickly. No leader in Washington, Tokyo, and I will even say Seoul itself .... is going to take the chance that in such a conflict North Korea may launch nuclear missiles at their cities. This is what it means when you become a nuclear state .... a conventional war with the U.S. and its allies is no longer an option .... because U.S. military doctrine will work under the assumption that such a conflict will quickly precipitate into a nuclear one. Is North Korea aware of this .... I do not know .... but they are certainly behaving in a manner where they do not care. My prediction .... if the DMZ explodes into war, expect dozens of U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons being deployed and used to destroy suspected North Korean command and control centers, and nuclear/missile storage sites. That is what the total destruction of North Korea will look like.

Update: Since his speech yesterday the pundits and politicians in Washington have been relentless in their criticisms of President Trump and his remarks on North Korea. But for those who are living under the threat of North Korea and who are aware of the extreme danger that we are now living under, a different reaction .... Donald Trump applauded by Japan, South Korea for brazenness on North Korea in UN speech (ABC News Online).

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 20, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller: Is This The Next War In The Middle East?

President Donald Trump reportedly warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates not to use military force in the early days of their regional dispute with Qatar in a meeting at the U.N. Tuesday, according to Bloomberg News.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab countries diplomatically cut off relations with Qatar in June, alleging that the tiny nation is funding terrorists and is too close to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Qatar instead maintains that it is being bullied for an independent foreign policy, and has found little room for compromise in the now months-long crisis.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 20, 2017

In Kurdish Referendum, a Vote for Independence May Be a Vote for Battle -- Micah Halpern, Observer

A Man Who Could Have Changed Iran -- Andrew Scott Cooper & David Daoud, RCW

100 Days and Counting of Pointless Arab Self-Destruction -- Anthony Cordesman, RCW

Yingluck’s flight reinforces Thai military rule -- Shawn W. Crispin, Asia Times

What the US Military (Still) Doesn’t Understand About Afghanistan -- Ann Jones, The Nation

Afghanistan, Regional Security and the Central Asia Republics -- STRATFOR

The real deal Trump has to make on Afghanistan -- Maysam Behravesh, Reuters

Japan’s Abe to pledge something for all generations in snap election -- Yoshifumi Takemoto and Takashi Umekawa, Asia Times

Togo protests: Why are people marching against Faure Gnassingbé? -- Alex Duval Smith BBC

Catalan Separatists Are on a Path to Failure -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Is this the most dangerous man in Britain? -- Oliver Wiseman, CapX

Don’t be fooled by Merkel’s aura of invincibility -- Paul Wallace, Reuters

Time for US to push back on China’s economic bullying of allies -- Grant Newsham, Asia Times

Is the U.S. Prepared for ISIS's Latest Terror Tactic? -- Shazar Shafqat, RCD

Coalition building and compromise are the future of global leadership. Here’s why. -- Sophie Eisentraut, Out Of Order

World News Briefs -- September 20, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Washington Post: Puerto Rico entirely without power as Hurricane Maria hammers island with force not seen in ‘modern history’

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria raked across Puerto Rico on Wednesday as the most powerful storm to strike the island in more than 80 years, ripping roofs off buildings, filling homes with water and knocking out power to the entire population.

"Definitely Puerto Rico — when we can get outside — we will find our island destroyed," Puerto Rico's emergency management director, Abner Gomez, said at a midday news conference, adding that 100 percent of the island is without electricity. "The information we have received is not encouraging. It's a system that has destroyed everything it has had in its path."

The storm first slammed into the coast near Yabucoa at 6:15 a.m. with 155 mph winds — the first Category 4 hurricane to directly strike the island since 1932. By midmorning, Maria had fully engulfed the 100-mile-long island as winds snapped palm trees, peeled off rooftops and sent debris skidding across beaches and roads. By afternoon, the intense gusts had become less frequent and the lashing rains eased, giving residents their first glimpse of the storm's wake.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iran says it does not expect U.S. to leave nuclear deal. Iran defends nuclear deal, warns Trump to respect it.

Mines hold up Iraqi advance against IS in western desert.

Russia's air force killed 850 militants in Syria in last 24 hours: Interfax.

Syria war: Assault on IS-held Raqqa in 'final stages'. US-backed force seizes 90% of Syria's Raqa from IS.

US confirms Syrian Army crossed deconfliction zone in Deir el-Zour.

Curfew imposed in Iraqi city before Kurdish independence vote.

Kurdish referendum: Turkey's Erdogan demands vote be called off.

Suffering grips Yemen three years after rebel takeover.

Palestinians submit Israel 'war crime' evidence to ICC.

Israel shoots down Iranian-made drone over Syrian frontier: military.

Israeli leader vows to keep Iran from establishing military bases in Syria.

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on internet calls.

ASIA

Trump urges 'strong and swift' U.N. action to end Rohingya crisis.

Japan PM says time for North Korea dialogue is over.

Kyrgyzstan accuses Kazakhstan of election 'influence'.

UN demands access to Myanmar's Rakhine amid Rohingya crisis.

Rohingya refugees take little heart from speech by Myanmar's Suu Kyi.

Rohingya crisis: Suu Kyi speech criticised by global leaders.

Nine communist rebels dead in Philippine clash: military.

Donald Trump applauded by Japan, South Korea for brazenness on North Korea in UN speech.

China calls for 'six-party' diplomacy on North Korea.

Japan's Abe using North Korea's threats to boost election chances.

Afghanistan arms civilians to protect mosques during holy month.

Bali volcano: Locals urged to stay calm as Mount Agung threatens to erupt.

AFRICA

Sudan's Bashir pushes for Darfur arms collection.

US, EU slam DR Congo army for using 'excessive force'.

Congo leader opens peace conference in bloody Kasai region.

12 dead, 92 missing as floods hit eastern DR Congo.

Rival protests in Togo as government blasts street 'coup d'etat'.

Riek Machar's men blamed for deadly South Sudan raid.

Unveiling new Libya plan, U.N. sees opportunity for peace.

Kenya court blames electoral commission over annulled election. Kenya court blames polls commission for botched vote.

Cameroon using 'anti-terror' law to silence media: CPJ.

Zimbabwe renames airport after President Mugabe.

EUROPE

Spanish police arrest Catalan officials in attempt to halt illegal independence referendum. Catalonia referendum: Spain steps up raids to halt vote.

Theresa May ‘will offer Brussels £20bn for a transition deal’ in crucial speech after Boris Johnson BACKS DOWN on resignation threat.

Merkel dismisses hecklers as polls point to fourth term.

Dutch government seeks to overturn court ruling on Srebrenica.

Beslan siege: Russia 'will comply' with critical ruling.

Grenfell Tower death toll may fall as fraudsters may have invented missing relatives.

Melania Trump lawsuit threat forces Zagreb language school to remove billboards.

AMERICAS

Hurricane Maria cuts electricity, triggers flooding across Puerto Rico.

Scramble for survivors as quake flattens Mexico City buildings.

Brazil Supreme Court sends new Temer graft charges to Congress.

Trump made decision on Iran nuclear deal but does not reveal it.

Trump pressing GOP senators to act on new health proposal.

California to file lawsuit over Trump border wall.

Maduro calls Trump 'new Hitler' after his remarks about Venezuela in UN speech.

New surge in migrants crossing US-Canada border.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

UK's May urges internet firms to remove extremist content quicker.

Al-Qaida propaganda outlet posts ‘wanted dead or alive’ poster of Trump.

London Underground blast: UK police arrest two more in tube attack investigation.

IS-aligned militant jailed over plot to bomb Indonesian presidential palace.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall St. closes slightly higher after Fed policy decisions.

US Federal Reserve keeps interest rates unchanged.

IMF's Lagarde warns US won't meet growth targets amid slow reforms.

Ryanair provides update on flight cancellations.

Report: 40 million live in slavery, 125 million in child labor.

Afghanistan's President Believes President Trump's War Plan Has A Better Chance For Success Than President Obama's Plan

Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Reuters: Afghan president says Trump war plan has better chance than Obama's

(Reuters) - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to win the war in Afghanistan will work where his predecessor’s failed because the Afghan army is stronger and Trump wants a regional approach and a harder line with Pakistan.

Ghani also said that former President Barack Obama “did not have a partner in Afghanistan,” implicitly criticizing former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who frequently disdained U.S. policy and the U.S.-led international military force.

“President Trump is not just an individual (but) a team of partners in Afghanistan,” Ghani told the Asia Society in New York, where he is attending the U.N. General Assembly. “The Trump administration’s strategy has the uniqueness of immense consultations with us.”

Read more ....



More News On Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's Remarks At The UN

Afghan leader outlines US goal to wrest control from Taliban -- AP
Afghanistan's Ghani Welcomes New US 'Resolve' To Win War In UN Address -- RadioFreeEurope
Afghanistan's president praises Trump's Afghan strategy at UN -- CNN
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani emphasizes terrorist threats and backs new US strategy -- Los Angeles Times
Taliban and their backers cannot win militarily, Ghani says -- Khaama Press
Afghan president at UN urges dialogue with Pakistan to curb extremism -- DAWN

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Condemns President Trump



Washington Post: Iranian president rips into Trump as a ‘rogue newcomer’ to world politics

NEW YORK — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted President Trump on Wednesday for his “ignorant, absurd and hateful” speech before the United Nations a day earlier and vowed Iran would not be the first to walk away from the historic 2015 nuclear deal.

Rouhani, during a 23-minute address at the U.N. General Assembly, never mentioned Trump by name. Instead he referred to him obliquely, at one point saying it would be a pity if the nuclear deal were undone by “rogue newcomers to the world of politics.”

Rouhani denied that Iran had ever sought to obtain nuclear weapons and said the ballistic missiles it has been testing would be used only for defensive purposes.

“Iran does not seek to restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others or export its revolution through the force of arms,” he said.

Read more ....

More News On Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Condemning President Trump

Iran's Rouhani pushes back on Trump -- CNN
Iran says it will not be the first to violate nuclear deal -- Reuters
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani condemns ‘ignorant, absurd and hateful’ Trump at UN -- SCMP/AP
Iran defends nuclear deal, warns Trump to respect it -- AFP
Iranian president Rouhani condemns 'ignorant, absurd, hateful' Trump speech -- The Guardian

President Trump: 'I Have Made A Decision On The Iran Nuclear Deal'



New York Times: Trump Says He’s Made a Decision on Iran Nuclear Deal

President Trump said on Wednesday that he had made a decision on what to do about the nuclear agreement his predecessor negotiated with Iran, but declined to tell reporters what it was.

“I have decided,” he said, repeating the phrase three times. Pressed by reporters, he added: “I’ll let you know. I’ll let you know.”

Mr. Trump’s comments, made as he met with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, came the day after he told the United Nations General Assembly that the deal was “an embarrassment for the United States.”

Under United States law, Mr. Trump has until Oct. 15 to certify whether Iran is complying with the agreement, which required it to dismantle much of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Mr. Trump has already certified Iran’s compliance twice, and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson acknowledged this week that Iran remains in “technical compliance.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: U.S. Senate Democrats want to know if the White House has proof that Iran has violated the nuclear deal .... Senate Democrats want Iran nuclear info from White House: aides (Fiscal Times/Reuters). No disagreement from me on this, but where were these Democrat Senators  when the nuclear deal was signed and the administration refused to make the details of the nuclear agreement public .... U.S. State Department Admits That Parts Of The Iran Nuclear Deal Were Kept Secret From The Public (July 20, 2016).

More News On President Trump's Remarks That He Has Made A Decision On The Iran Nuclear Deal

Trump Says He’s Made a Decision on Iran Deal -- US News and World Report
Trump Makes Decision on US Involvement in Iran Nuclear Accord -- VOA
Trump Says 'I'll Let You Know' if US Will Keep Iran Deal -- Wall Street Journal
Trump says he's 'decided' on Iran deal -- The Hill
Trump: ‘I have decided’ on Iran deal — but won’t share yet -- Politico

How North Korea Is Breaking International Sanctions Via Through Russia

Reuters: Exclusive: From Russia with fuel - North Korean ships may be undermining sanctions

MOSCOW (Reuters) - At least eight North Korean ships that left Russia with a cargo of fuel this year headed for their homeland despite declaring other destinations, a ploy that U.S. officials say is often used to undermine sanctions.

Reuters has no evidence of wrongdoing by the vessels, whose movements were recorded in Reuters ship-tracking data. Changing a ship’s destination once underway is not forbidden and it is unclear whether any of the ships unloaded fuel in North Korea.

But U.S. officials say that changing destination mid-voyage is a hallmark of North Korean state tactics to circumvent the international trade sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Changing course and the complex chain of different firms --many offshore -- involved in shipments can complicate efforts to check how much fuel is supplied to North Korea and monitor compliance with a cap on fuel imports under U.N. sanctions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Reports of Russia breaking North Korean sanctions have been circulating a long time .... Russia Is Breaking UN Sanctions On North Korea (May 17, 2017). I have to also wonder if this is the reason why Russia made the Russia-North Korean border a no-go zone .... Kremlin Orders The Evacuation Of Citizens Away From The North Korean Border (August 30, 2017). By having no one around, no one would then be able to spot the trucks crossing into North Korea. Mind you .... the spy satellites would pick this up, but no one (Japan, South Korea, the U.S.) are saying anything about this.

U.S. Backed Forces: 'Battle For The Islamic State's De-Facto Capital Of Raqqa Has Reached Its Final Stages'



Reuters: Raqqa campaign in final stages, SDF says

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Wednesday its campaign to capture Raqqa from Islamic State (IS) was in its final stages and its fighters had seized 80 percent of the city.

In its fight against a separate operation waged by the Syrian army and its allies, Islamic State has collapsed along the west bank of the Euphrates downstream of Raqqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

IS has lost swathes of territory in Syria this year, attacked from the north by the SDF and from the west by the Syrian army, which has pushed it back across the desert to its last strongholds in the Euphrates valley.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, launched its offensive on the jihadist group in Raqqa city in June, backed by U.S.-led air strikes and special forces on the ground. The city had served as Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The collapse of ISIS is going faster than what many had predicted .... myself included.

More News On The Battle For The Syrian City Of Raqqa

Syria war: Assault on IS-held Raqqa in 'final stages' -- BBC
US-backed force says in 'final stages' of defeating IS in Raqa -- AFP
From the front line in Raqqa: Isis to lose Syrian 'capital' in days after 'surprise attack' by US-backed forces -- The Independent
Syria: Battle for IS Capital Reaches 'Final Stages' -- US News And World Report/AP
SDF: Battle for ISIL-held Raqqa city in 'final stages' -- Al Jazeera
SDF advance in northern Raqqa after surprise attack on ISIS -- RUDAW
Syrian civilians fleeing Raqqa are taking up arms to go back and fight Isis -- Independent
Inside the fight to retake Raqqa from ISIS -- VICE News

Spain Orders The Police To Storm Catalan Government Buildings To Stop The Oct. 1 Independence Referendum



The Independent: Spanish police storm Catalan government buildings to stop independence referendum

The central government in Madrid says the breakaway region's referendum is illegal

Spanish national police have stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia's regional government to put a stop to the region's independence referendum.

The Guardia Civil, which acts with the authority of Madrid's interior ministry, is searching for evidence regarding the planned 1 October referendum on Catalan independence, which Spain's Constitutional Court has declared illegal.

In the early hours of the morning armed officers arrived at various Catalan ministries, including the economy department, foreign affairs department, and social affairs department, Spanish media reports.

Read more ....

More News On Spain Escalating Tensions By Ordering The Police To Storm Catalan Government Buildings To Stop The Oct. 1 Independence Referendum

The Latest: Barca condemns efforts to halt Catalan vote -- Washington Post/AP
Spanish police raid Catalan government to halt banned referendum -- Reuters
Clash over Catalan vote heats up in Spain as police swoop -- AP
Catalan president says Madrid is suspending region’s autonomy -- The Guardian
As Catalonia Independence Referendum Nears, Madrid Escalates Tensions -- New York Times
Hundreds of Catalan protesters chanting 'occupying forces out' storm government buildings in Barcelona as Spanish police arrest officials over illegal independence referendum -- Daily Mail
Spain Moves Against Catalan Separatists With Police Raids -- Bloomberg
Spanish police raids seen as attempt to thwart Catalan referendum -- UPI
Spanish police arrest Catalan officials in attempt to halt illegal independence referendum -- ABC News Online
Spanish police raid Catalan government offices, arrest top official -- DW
Police arrest Catalan minister Josep Maria Jove -- Al Jazeera
Clashes with police in Catalonia as authorities make arrests in referendum crackdown (VIDEOS) -- RT
Catalonia's Independence Referendum Is Getting Messy. Here's What's Going On -- Newsweek

Hurricane Maria Is 'Pounding' Puerto Rico -- News Updates





Daily Mail: Storm of the century: Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico as a deadly Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds - and it's the strongest storm to hit the island in 85 years

* Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico around 6:15am Wednesday
* It's expected rage across the island for most of the day
* Maria is the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the island since 1932
* Most of the island is still without power after a brush with Irma earlier this month
* More than 4,400 people were in shelters on Puerto Rico late Tuesday night
* The National Hurricane Center says little change in strength is expected in the coming 48 hours
* The storm is next headed to the Dominican Republic, where it's expected to strike tonight
* The Turks & Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas will see hurricane conditions Thursday evening
* Before hitting Puerto Rico, Maria battered St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands for about five hours overnight
* So far, Maria has been blamed for nine deaths - seven on Dominica and two on Guadeloupe
* The hurricane made it's first landfall on Dominica as a Category 5 storm on Monday
* An estimated 70 per cent of homes on the island lost their roofs

The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since the Great Depression pummeled the island on Wednesday, tearing off roofs and doors, toppling cell towers and unleashing heavy flooding in an onslaught that could deepen the U.S. territory's financial crisis.

Maria, which left at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, blew ashore in the morning in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph. It was expected to punish the island with life-threatening winds, storm surge and rain for 12 to 24 hours.

Read more ....

Hurricane Maria Is 'Pounding' Puerto Rico -- News Updates

Hurricane Maria Cone -- NOAA
Hurricane Maria Live Updates: Puerto Rico Suffers a Direct Hit With Worries of Floods: Live Updating -- New York Times
Hurricane Maria: record flooding in Puerto Rico as Dominica reports seven dead – latest updates -- The Guardian
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after slamming Dominica -- AP
Hurricane Maria blasts Puerto Rico with high winds and flooding -- Reuters
Hurricane Maria slams into Puerto Rico with 155-mph winds, sending thousands to shelters -- Los Angeles Times
'Storm of the century' Maria pummels Puerto Rico -- AFP
Hurricane Maria pounds Puerto Rico after killing 7 people in Dominica -- CNN
Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico -- BBC
Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico, death toll rises to nine in Caribbean -- ABC News Online
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico -- DW
Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico -- Al Jazeera
Hurricane Maria Hits Puerto Rico, First Category 4 Storm In 85 Years -- International Business Times

Mexico Earthquake -- News Updates September 20, 2017



Daily Mail: Tourist boats are tossed around as 7.1 magnitude earthquake hits Mexico leaving at least 248 people dead including 20 children after school collapsed

* Central Mexico was hit by 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday afternoon that has devastated five states
* At least 248 people have been killed including 20 children who died after their school building collapsed
* American tourist captured terrifying video showing canals of Xochimilco into a raging mess
* Disaster struck days after another 8.1-magnitude quake hit the south of the country, and on the anniversary of a devastating tremor in 1985

This is the shocking moment one of Mexico City's most popular tourists attractions was turned into a frothing torrent when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the country on Monday

American tourist Alyne Tamir filmed on her phone as the quake's vibrations turned the usually tranquil canals of Xochimilco, in the north of the city, into a undulating, quivering mess.

While she can be heard saying 'it's not a good idea to be on this boat', it seems she was one of the lucky ones as at least 248 people were killed elsewhere.

Read more ....

Mexico Earthquake -- News Updates September 20, 2017

The Latest: Death toll rises to 226 from Mexico earthquake -- AP
Mexico quake updates -- BBC
Mexico earthquake: at least 217 dead after powerful quake – as it happened -- The Guardian
7.1-magnitude earthquake strikes Mexico: Live updates -- CNN
Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as quake kills 225 -- AP
Scramble for survivors as quake flattens Mexico City buildings -- AFP
Rescue Work Continues After Tuesday's Mexico City Earthquake -- Voice of America
Mexico quake: Where buildings collapsed -- BBC
At least 225 dead after powerful earthquake hits central Mexico -- The Guardian
More than 200 dead as 7.1-magnitude earthquake hits Mexico -- UPI
Powerful earthquake hits central Mexico, more than 200 dead -- DW
Mexico earthquake leaves more than 200 dead, searches continue into evening -- ABC News Online
Mexico earthquake: Rescuers search for survivors in rubble of school as toll hits 217 -- ABC News Online
Rescuers wriggle into collapsed school after Mexico quake -- AP
Mexico earthquake: Many children killed at primary school -- BBC
Mexico quake: Rescuers race to find missing children at destroyed schoolhouse -- UPI
Earthquake kills more than 200 in central Mexico -- Al Jazeera

World News Briefs -- September 20, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Reuters: Russia rebukes Trump over Iran, North Korea, accuses U.S. of missile treaty breach

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is “extremely concerned” by U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments questioning the Iran nuclear deal and suspects that Washington itself may have violated a landmark arms control treaty, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Lavrov’s comments, made to Russian reporters at the United Nations in New York and published by his ministry on Wednesday, illustrate how deeply Moscow and Washington are at odds over an array of issues and suggest any attempts to improve already battered relations face an uphill struggle.

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MIDDLE EAST

Syria war: Assault on IS-held Raqqa in 'final stages'. US-backed force seizes 90% of Syria's Raqa from IS.

US confirms Syrian Army crossed deconfliction zone in Deir el-Zour.

Curfew imposed in Iraqi city before Kurdish independence vote.

Kurdish referendum: Turkey's Erdogan demands vote be called off.

Suffering grips Yemen three years after rebel takeover.

Palestinians submit Israel 'war crime' evidence to ICC.

Israel shoots down Iranian-made drone over Syrian frontier: military.

Israeli leader vows to keep Iran from establishing military bases in Syria.

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on internet calls.

ASIA

UN demands access to Myanmar's Rakhine amid Rohingya crisis.

Rohingya refugees take little heart from speech by Myanmar's Suu Kyi.

Rohingya crisis: Suu Kyi speech criticised by global leaders.

Nine communist rebels dead in Philippine clash: military.

Donald Trump applauded by Japan, South Korea for brazenness on North Korea in UN speech.

China calls for 'six-party' diplomacy on North Korea.

Japan's Abe using North Korea's threats to boost election chances.

Afghanistan arms civilians to protect mosques during holy month.

Bali volcano: Locals urged to stay calm as Mount Agung threatens to erupt.

AFRICA

Rival protests in Togo as government blasts street 'coup d'etat'.

Riek Machar's men blamed for deadly South Sudan raid.

Congo leader opens peace conference in bloody Kasai region.

12 dead, 92 missing as floods hit eastern DR Congo.

Kenya court blames electoral commission over annulled election. Kenya court blames polls commission for botched vote.

Cameroon using 'anti-terror' law to silence media: CPJ.

Zimbabwe renames airport after President Mugabe.

EUROPE

Spanish police arrest Catalan officials in attempt to halt illegal independence referendum. Catalonia referendum: Spain steps up raids to halt vote.

Theresa May ‘will offer Brussels £20bn for a transition deal’ in crucial speech after Boris Johnson BACKS DOWN on resignation threat.

Merkel dismisses hecklers as polls point to fourth term.

Dutch government seeks to overturn court ruling on Srebrenica.

Beslan siege: Russia 'will comply' with critical ruling.

Grenfell Tower death toll may fall as fraudsters may have invented missing relatives.

Melania Trump lawsuit threat forces Zagreb language school to remove billboards.

AMERICAS

Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico.

Scramble for survivors as quake flattens Mexico City buildings.

Trump made decision on Iran nuclear deal but does not reveal it.

Trump pressing GOP senators to act on new health proposal.

California to file lawsuit over Trump border wall.

Maduro calls Trump 'new Hitler' after his remarks about Venezuela in UN speech.

New surge in migrants crossing US-Canada border.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Al-Qaida propaganda outlet posts ‘wanted dead or alive’ poster of Trump.

London Underground blast: UK police arrest two more in tube attack investigation.

IS-aligned militant jailed over plot to bomb Indonesian presidential palace.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

IMF's Lagarde warns US won't meet growth targets amid slow reforms.

Ryanair provides update on flight cancellations.

Report: 40 million live in slavery, 125 million in child labor.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 20, 2017



Washington Post: What would a Russia-NATO war look like? Russia’s wargaming it right now.

LUGA, Russia — A revitalized Russian military on Monday sent tanks, paratroopers, artillery, antiaircraft weapons, jets and helicopters into frigid rains to engage the forces of a mock enemy called the “Western Coalition.” The barrage of firepower , part of war games that began last week, was an explosive show of force that Baltic leaders said was a simulation of an attack against NATO forces in Eastern Europe.

Russian President Vladi­mir Putin visited the field Monday, skipping the 72nd U.N. General Assembly in favor of the military exercises held jointly with Belarus. The muscle-flexing, which began Thursday, highlights the lethality of a fighting force that has taken a crash course of reforms and upgrades over the last decade.

In response, U.S. fighter jets in Lithuania have been scrambling nearly daily to inspect Russian activity over the Baltic Sea.

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Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 20, 2017

Russian navy launches barrage of cruise missiles in drills -- New York Daily News

Russian planes return to bases after Zapad-2017 exercise -- TASS

Putin displays massive firepower in Russian war games on border with Europe -- ABC News

Zapad: What can we learn from Russia's latest military exercise? -- Jonathan Marcus, BBC

Belarus plays down Western fears of aggression stirred by joint war games with Russia -- Reuters

Watch Russia's Only Operational Battlecruiser Launch A Massive "Shipwreck" Anti-Ship Missile -- The Warzone/The Drive

Russia Conducts Test Launch of RS-24 Yars ICBM -- Sputnik

Russia honors AK-47 creator with 30-foot statue -- UPI

Egypt to Help Libyan Military Rebuild As Civil War Dies Down -- Sputnik

Xi packs top Chinese military posts with allies -- Nikkei Asia Review

Trudeau threatens to halt Canadian fighter jet buy over Boeing complaint -- The Hill

Britain, Saudi Arabia sign military cooperation deal -- New Arab

Britain testing Ajax armored vehicles -- UPI

US Military surgeons in Afghanistan treat civilian injuries -- Reuters

Afghan Air Force Receives First U.S.-Made Black Hawk Helicopters -- RFE

Japan to fund Marine Corps facilities on Guam pending Okinawa move -- UPI

F-35s Were Carrying Live AIM-120 Missiles During Show Of Force Training Flight Over Korea -- The Warzone/The Drive

As Trump Threatens to 'Destroy' North Korea, Air Force Says It's 'Ready to Fight' -- Foreign Policy

Pentagon’s F-35 deep dive to drive lower costs on block buy deal -- Defense News

Ellsworth poised for next generation bomber -- Stars and Stripes

Rand ‘cautiously optimistic’ about B-21, looking to B-2 for lessons learned -- Defense News

Air Force chief: Bomber bases will keep that capability, even as inventory changes -- Air Force Times

Navy leadership testifies before SASC on ship collisions, readiness concerns -- UPI

McCain rips into Navy leaders over 'unacceptable' ship collisions -- The Hill

McCain: 20 sailors reprimanded in wake of 7th Fleet at-sea incidents -- Navy Times

Navy Leaders Pledge to Solve Problems Stretching Limits of Sailors -- New York Times

Navy sailor 'sleep deprivation' highlighted at Senate hearing on deadly accidents -- CNBC

After Deadly Collisions Navy will Broadcast Warship Locations in High Traffic Areas -- USNI News

U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet holds change of command ceremony -- UPI

The Marine Corps is following the Army's lead and looking to change its arsenal -- Business Insider

New nuclear cruise missile program appears safe going forward -- Defense News

Congress must reassert itself on use of military force -- The Hill

Air Force secretary unconcerned with $9.2B Northrop-Orbital deal: report -- The Hill

Mattis Says ‘We Stand By’ Canada Amid Concern About Missile Defense Policy -- US News and World Report

The US Military Can't Keep Track of Which Missions It's Fueling in Yemen War -- The Intercept

President Trump's Idea Of A Huge Military Parade Through The Capital Isn't Unprecedented -- The Warzone/The Drive

Everything You Need to Know About the U.S. Navy's Newest Ship -- Scout Warrior

How Pirates Made The US Navy Into The Strongest Sea Force On Earth -- Sarah Sicard, Task & Purpose

Are Americans Angry?



The Hill: Fury fuels the modern political climate in US

Americans are angry about everything.

That’s what Rep. Steve Israel thought just months before the 2014 midterm elections. During that cycle, Israel poured over reams of data and watched hours of focus groups with voters across the country. The New York Democrat, who had been tasked with coordinating his party’s messaging strategy, saw voters deeply antipathetic about more than just the partisan political process.

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WNU Editor: This anger has been around for a while .... so why the focus now? I guess it is a slow realization among the Washington establishment and the main stream media (i.e. The Hill) that there must be something behind the election of Donald Trump .... a person that almost everyone in this community did not expect him to win in 2016. So they are ticking off the "anger box" as their explanation .... I say that it is more. The first one is the realization that both political parties do not really represent them .... advocating one thing during an election cycle, doing something else when they have secured their electoral win. The second is the main stream media .... a realization that they are biased and partisan in their coverage. Third .... and this is a big one .... economic policies that punish those who want to work hard to have a better life.

The Future Of Air War Is Being Determined Over The Skies Of Syria Today

Four Falcons
Four Air Force F-16 Falcon aircraft taxi before taking off on a sortie during an aviation rotation at Krzesiny Air Base, Poland, Sept. 11, 2017. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder

Patrick Tucker, Defense One: Syria is a ‘Laboratory’ for the Air War of the Future

U.S. airmen are rapidly developing and remixing new technologies and techniques in the fight against ISIS, but sometimes you can’t beat the tried and true.

ISIS doesn’t have an Air Force, but the Syrian skies are nevertheless a rapidly evolving “laboratory” for air warfare, said U.S. military leaders, who described how the U.S. is fusing cyber attacks with real bombs and using open-source intelligence to find and strike targets.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, who leads U.S. Air Forces Central Command, described a “dynamic targeting tool” that lets analysts and airmen at al Udeid Air Base in Qatar send the latest targeting information to airborne pilots and ground-based commanders alike. “The tool pulls together everything from the intelligence background to show me all the data on that target. Where did that target generate, how many times have we looked at it? And how do we communicate that, ultimately.”

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WNU Editor: The focus and the experienced learned from the Syrian conflict will probably now be shifted to Afghanistan, where the ability to locate and target the enemy is sorely needed .... especially to stop this .... Taliban video documents takeover of district center in Kunar (Threat Matrix).

The U.S. War In Yemen Is Escalating

 
Long War Journal: U.S. Has Launched 'More Than 100 Strikes Against AQAP' in 2017

Last week, after the US launched an airstrike in Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), FDD’s Long War Journal noted that US Central Command (CENTCOM) has consistently maintained since April 2017 that it has conducted more than 80 attacks against the terror group. Over the weekend, we inquired with CENTCOM to see if that number has changed, and received a response that “To date, the US has conducted more than 100 strikes against AQAP militants, infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment.”

In addition to the updated strike total for Yemen, the response is interesting as it notes that AQAP operatives are not the only target of the air campaign: the US military is also hitting the entirety of the network. This is important as AQAP is not merely a grouping of cells with a leadership that can easily be decapitated; it is a networked jihadist insurgency that seeks to overthrow the Yemeni state. This jihadist insurgency operates hand in hand with AQAP’s desire to attack the West.

 Read more ....

WNU Editor:  100 air strikes .... and one can only speculate on the number of ground operations .... and we have a situation where it is obvious that the U.S. is deeply involved in the Yemen conflict. But there has been no debate, very little media attention, and a perception that the U.S. public that does not care. I guess this is what 16 years of continuous war does to a nation.