Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Is Russian Intelligence Funding The Anti-Fracking Movment In The U.S.?

People walk away from a protest against fracking and neighborhood oil drilling in Los Angeles, California, May 14. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Drew Johnson, Newsweek: Intelligence: Putin Is Funding the Anti-Fracking Campaign

Recent intelligence reports show that Russia is interested in influencing more than just America's elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies have taken aim at undermining the U.S. energy industry, as well.

Buried within the U.S. intelligence community's report on Russian activities in the presidential election is clear evidence that the Kremlin is financing and choreographing anti-fracking propaganda in the United States. By targeting fracking, Putin hopes to increase oil and gas prices, destabilize the U.S. economy and threaten America's energy independence.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a decades-old drilling technique in which water and sand is pumped through rock at a high pressure to release previously unreachable deposits of oil and natural gas.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are a lot of groups who oppose fracking .... with many supporters and a lot of funding. I would be surprised if these groups are dependent on Russian funding. But it is true that fracking and its impact on oil production and prices is a strategic threat to Russia .... and it is in Russia's interest (as well as OPEC's) to see these anti-fracking movements succeed.

Is Israel The Most Technologically Advanced Military On The Planet?

Israel is one of the world's top weapons exporters with $6.5 billion in annual arms sales. IDF

Yaakov Katz, New York Post: Why Israel has the most technologically advanced military on Earth

In 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was founded, the country’s first commercial delegation set off for South America.

Israel desperately needed trading partners. Unlike its Arab adversaries, Israel did not have natural resources to fund its economy. There was no oil or minerals. Nothing.

The delegation held a couple of meetings but was mostly met with laughs. The Israelis were trying to sell oranges, kerosene stove tops and fake teeth. For countries like Argentina, which grew its own oranges and was connected to the electrical grid, the products were pretty useless.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is about time someone did this story. This blog has been covering Israel's advances in military technology for years .... and I have labelled it more than once to be one of those under-reported stories (probably on purpose). It looks like they are getting the attention now.

Is President Trump's Attempt To Develop A Detente With Russia Upsetting The Balance Of Power?


Kambiz Foroohar, Bloomberg: UN Braces as Trump’s Detente With Russia Upsets Balance of Power

* Historic alliance between U.S., U.K. and France seen at risk
* Foreign diplomats are said to be ‘flying blind’ with Trump

President Donald Trump’s outreach to Russia is reverberating through the United Nations, where U.S. allies worry that a partnership between Washington and Moscow could undermine a historic balance of power dating to the early days of the Cold War.

For decades, the five veto-wielding members of the 15-nation Security Council have fallen into two camps -- France, the U.K. and the U.S., referred to as the P3, on one side and Russia and China on the other.

Just days into his presidency, Trump is upsetting all that.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Too early to say that the U.S. is entering a period of "detente" with Russia .... but I know that many in the Kremlin are hoping that this will be the case. As for the role of China and Russia in the Security Council .... they are making it very clear that they want the U.S. to join them .... Russia And China Wants The U.S. To Join Them To Split Up The World (January 26, 2017). If such an alliance ever comes to past (which I do not see happening now .... but later .... who knows what the future holds).... the UN will definitely then become a minor payer.

U.S. President Donald Trump Has Nominated Neil Gorsuch To The Supreme Court



Reuters: Trump picks conservative judge Gorsuch for U.S. Supreme Court

President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated Neil Gorsuch for a lifetime job on the U.S. Supreme Court, picking the 49-year-old federal appeals court judge to restore the court's conservative majority and help shape rulings on divisive issues such as abortion, gun control, the death penalty and religious rights.

The Colorado native faces a potentially contentious confirmation battle in the U.S. Senate after Republicans last year refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the vacancy caused by the February 2016 death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia.

The Senate's top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, indicated his party would mount a procedural hurdle requiring 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate rather than a simple majority to approve Gorsuch, and expressed "very serious doubts" about the nominee. Liberal groups called for an all-out fight to reject Gorsuch while conservative groups and Republican senators heaped praise on him like "outstanding," "impressive" and a "home run."

Read more ....

More News On U.S. President Donald Trump Nominating Neil Gorsuch To The Supreme Court

Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court -- NYT
Trump taps conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court -- AP
Gorsuch: Conservative court nominee praised by some liberals -- AP
Trump nominates Judge Gorsuch to Supreme Court -- FOX News
Trump Nominates Federal Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court -- NBC
Trump picks Gorsuch for Supreme Court -- Politico
Democrats ready for Gorsuch battle on Capitol Hill -- CNN
Trump Made His Supreme Court Pick. Now What? 5 Steps To Confirmation -- NPR
GOP won't rule out killing the filibuster for Supreme Court pick -- Politico

Editor's Note

Have to attend to a small family emergency. Blogging will return later this evening.

As Anti-ISIS Forces Close In On Raqqa The U.S. Sends Them Armoured Vehicles



Euronews: Syria: Anti-ISIL forces close in on Raqqa

The US-backed campaign against ISIL is closing in on Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

The offensive is being waged by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who say that under President Donald Trump they have seen signs of increased American support.

They aim to fully encircle Raqqa, severing it from ISIL strongholds in Deir al-Zor where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped by the jihadists.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Sending Armoured Vehicles To Anti-ISIS Fighters In Syria

Syria anti-IS forces say US sent them armoured cars -- AFP
US-led coalition delivers armored vehicles to Syrians fighting ISIS -- FOX news
Coalition supplied armored vehicles to SDF for first time -- RUDAW
Syrian militias see more US support for IS fight, plan new phase -- Channel News Asia/Reuters
Trump administration sends armored vehicles to Syrian rebels -- RT

More Details Emerge On Sunday's U.S. Special Forces Raid Against An Al Qaeda Base In Yemen



BBC: US raid on al-Qaeda in Yemen: What we know so far

US special forces operatives carried out a raid in central Yemen on Sunday, targeting the house of a suspected leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

US officials have confirmed that one Navy commando died and three more service members were wounded, and say 14 al-Qaeda fighters were killed. Unconfirmed reports suggested a number of civilians were killed, including an eight-year-old girl whose father and brother were killed in drone strikes six years ago.

Here's what we know and what's been reported.

Read more ....

More News On Sunday's U.S. Special Forces Raid Against An Al Qaeda Base In Yemen

During troubled Yemen raid, U.S. troops fought and killed several women trained by al-Qaida -- Military Times
US says female Al-Qaeda combatants killed in Yemen raid -- AFP
Navy SEAL Team 6 Members Fought Female Fighters in Yemen Raid -- Military.com
Women Killed in Yemen Raid Were Qaeda Fighters, Pentagon Says -- New York Times
Navy SEAL, 8-year-old American girl died in Yemen raid -- NBC
Pentagon IDs Navy SEAL killed in Yemen raid -- UPI
Pentagon identifies Navy SEAL killed in Yemen raid -- Navy Times
U.S. Raid in Yemen Garners Intelligence -- US Department of Defense

Two Video Documentaries Reporting On The War Against The Taliban



Al Jazeera: This is Taliban Country

In 2014 we reported from a Taliban stronghold, where armed fighters were patrolling the streets. What has changed since?

In 2014, Fault Lines reported from the Taliban stronghold of Charkh District, just an hour outside Kabul. Charkh had become a microcosm of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Armed Taliban were openly patrolling the streets and had built a parallel administration in Charkh, including Sharia courts and special girls' schools.

Filmmaker Nagieb Khaja took us to a Taliban-controlled town for a rare glimpse of life under Taliban rule in the midst of a civil war.

REWIND spoke to Nagieb about what, if anything, has changed in the past three years and since the planned US drawdown was scrapped.

Read more ....



Al Jazeera: Afghanistan: Taliban At The Gates

We join Afghan forces on the frontlines in Helmand, as they try to keep the Taliban from seizing a crucial capital.

Fifteen years after suffering defeat at the hands of the United States, the Taliban are retaking territory in Afghanistan at an alarming pace.

Wide swaths of the country are now under their control. But the prize for the armed group is the city of Lashkar Gah, seen as the gateway to the rest of the country. Standing in their way, is a ragtag group of Afghan soldiers and police, ill-trained, and ill-equipped.

But a newly installed governor is rallying the forces. Can the city hold the Taliban at bay?

101 East goes to the frontlines to meet the last defenders of Afghanistan.

Read more ....

Violence Escalating In Eastern Ukraine



DW: Deadly violence erupts in eastern Ukraine amid 'worsening humanitarian situation'

Ukrainian soldiers, rebels and civilians have been killed in the latest spate of violence. European officials have warned of a humanitarian disaster after power outages left thousands to cope in sub-zero temperatures.

At least 13 civilians and fighters have been killed in the latest escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv and rebel authorities said on Tuesday.

Kyiv announced that eight government troops have been killed and another 26 wounded since Sunday, when clashes erupted between rebel and Ukrainian forces, marking the heaviest losses for the military since last month.

Read more
....

WNU Editor: This is why the fighting is increasing in Ukraine .... Anxious Ukraine Risks Escalation In 'Creeping Offensive' (RFE).

More News On The Growing Violence In Ukraine

Battle Rages Amid East Ukraine’s Bloodiest Fighting in Weeks -- Bloomberg
Kiev and Kremlin trade blame over surge in east Ukraine fighting -- Reuters
Tension High In Eastern Ukraine As Kremlin, Kyiv Trade Blame -- RFE
Deadly Fighting Surges in Ukraine Despite Truce -- AFP
Ukraine prepares to evacuate town under siege; no electricity, no water -- UPI
Ukraine: Fighting flares up in eastern town of Avdiivka -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine conflict: Evacuation planned in frontline town of Avdiivka -- BBC
Ukraine Reports Surge in Deadly Fighting with Pro-Russian Separatists -- VOA
Coal Miners Rescued as Fighting Increases in Eastern Ukraine -- AP
8 people killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine -- Tribune News Service
Poroshenko Cuts Short Germany Trip Amid Renewed Ukraine Fighting -- RFE
Ukrainian paramilitary supported by army attacked rebels in East – Peskov, citing Kremlin data -- RT
EU Condemns Ukraine Clashes -- VOA
Military situation in eastern Ukraine worsens -- EurActiv

Trident Missile Nose Cap Washes Up On The Beach In The Bahamas.

Trident II (D5) ballistic missile fired by HMS Vigilant during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean, the week of 22 October 2012

BBC: Trident missile nose cap lands in Bahamas

In late October 2016, the residents of the tiny Bahamas island of Man-O-War Cay found a mysterious object had washed up on their beach.

Taller than a person, conical in shape with a large spike at the end, it looked unmistakably like some sort of missile.

"People were curious of course, the kids were excited to see something so large on the beach," local resident Mailin Sands told the BBC.

It had washed up right in front of the holiday home of Prof Janine Maddock, who was back in the US at the time and spied it from a CCTV camera at the top of her house.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Something that you do not find everyday on the beach.

Editor's Note

Today is my annual physical/blood test/etc.. Blogging will return when I come back.

China Tests A New Missile That Can Carry 10 Nuclear Warheads


Washington Free Beacon: China Tests Missile With 10 Warheads

Multi-warhead weapon tested amid growing tensions with the United States.

China flight tested a new variant of a long-range missile with 10 warheads in what defense officials say represents a dramatic shift in Beijing's strategic nuclear posture.

The flight test of the DF-5C missile was carried out earlier this month using 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs. The test of the inert warheads was monitored closely by U.S. intelligence agencies, said two officials familiar with reports of the missile test.

The missile was fired from the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in central China and flew to an impact range in the western Chinese desert.

No other details about the test could be learned. Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross suggested in a statement the test was monitored.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a major development for China's nuclear forces .... and a heads-up to everyone that China is serious abuot developing their nuclear forces.

The FBI's Power To Spy On Journalists Is Raising Concerns

The Intercept: Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy For The FBI To Spy On Journalists

Rules governing the use of national security letters allow the FBI to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the targeted news organization.

SECRET FBI RULES allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is an update to the story from last year.

Yemen's Houthi Rebels Attack A Saudi Frigate Killing Two Crew Members



Reuters: Yemen's Houthis attack Saudi ship, launch ballistic missile

The armed Houthi movement attacked a Saudi warship off the western coast of Yemen on Monday, causing an explosion that killed two crew members and injured three others, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

Separately, the Houthis said they launched a ballistic missile at a Saudi-led coalition military base on the Red Sea island of Zuqar between Yemen and Eritrea on Tuesday morning, according to the group's official news channel al-Masira.

There was no immediate coalition reaction to that claim and it was unclear if there were any casualties.

Read more ....

More News On Yesterday's Houthi Rebel Attack On A Saudi Frigate That Killed Two Crew Members

Saudi Arabia says Yemeni rebel boat rams frigate in Red Sea -- AP
Yemen rebel 'suicide boat' attack kills Saudi sailors -- AFP
Yemen conflict: Rebels in deadly attack on Saudi warship -- BBC
Yemen rebel 'suicide boat' attack kills Saudi sailors -- AFP
Two sailors are killed when Yemen SUICIDE BOATS smash into Saudi warship -- Daily Mail
Iran-backed Houthi rebels attack Saudi warship in Red Sea -- FOX News
Deadly 'suicide boat' attack on Saudi warship near Yemen claimed by Houthi fighters -- SKY News
Two killed as Houthis attack Saudi warship off Yemen coast -- Euronews
Yemen Rebels Hit Saudi Naval Vessel with Missile Attack (VIDEO) -- Sputnik
Two dead after Houthi militant suicide attack against Saudi Arabian ship near Yemen -- Business Insider

Iran Carries Out Missile Test



New York Times: Iran Launches a Missile, Testing Trump’s Vows of Strict Enforcement

WASHINGTON — Iran conducted its first missile test since President Trump took office, American and Israeli officials said Monday, posing an early test of whether the Trump administration will make good on its promises to strictly enforce all aspects of the Iranian nuclear deal and a side agreement on missile testing.

The Iranian missile traveled about 600 miles, but its re-entry vehicle reportedly exploded before the flight was complete. It is unclear whether that was accidental or a deliberate detonation.

Israel’s United Nations ambassador, Danny Danon, accused Iran of violating a Security Council resolution passed in 2015, shortly after the nuclear accord was reached in Vienna.

While the agreement itself dealt only with Iran’s nuclear program, then-Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated for days with the Iranians about a revised Security Council resolution on missiles. That last concession by the United States, China, Russia, Germany and France sealed the entire diplomatic package.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: While first refusing to confirm that there was a missile test .... Iran refuses to confirm conducting missile test (AP), Iran is now saying that it did nto violate the nuclear agreement .... Iran: Missile tests not in violation of nuclear deal (Al Jazeera).

More News On Iran's Missile Test

Iran carries out ballistic missile test in violation of UN resolution in direct challenge to Donald Trump -- Daily Mail
Iran tested medium-range ballistic missile: U.S. official -- Reuters
U.N. Security Council to meet over Iran missile test -- UPI
Iran Test-Fires Medium Range Ballistic Missile: U.S. Officials -- NBC
Iran conducts first missile test since Trump's inauguration -- CNN
Iran tests ballistic missile in defiance of UN resolution, US officials say -- FOX News
UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting over Iran missile test -- FOX News
UN Security Council to Meet on Iran Missile Test -- VOA
Netanyahu: Iran missile test must not go unanswered -- BBC
Iranian Ballistic Missile Test is a 'Gift for Anti-Iranian Propaganda' -- Sputnik
Iran missile firing puts Trump strategy to the test -- Financial Times

Former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Wants To Combat President Trump By “Unleashing Drug Cartels”



WNU Editor: This is just one more reason why the border will need to be secured. Hat tip to SHTFplan.com for this story.

Tweet For Today

Does The Kremlin Think They Are Already At War?

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C) attends a conference at the main operation centre of the Russian armed forces, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) and armed forces Chief-of-Staff Valery Gerasimov (R) in Moscow, June 6, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Michael Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Oscar Jonsson/Thomas E. Ricks, Foreign Policy: Gen. McChrystal is right — in fact, Russian leaders think they already are at war

General Stanley McChrystal perhaps shocked many when he spoke out on the chance of a war in Europe — aside from the continuing conflict in Ukraine. He stated that “A European war is not unthinkable. People who want to believe a war in Europe is not possible might be in for a surprise.” He is absolutely correct, and it is with Russia.

The common idea on how this will happen is that increased activity can lead to incidents and unintentional escalation. That is, however, only focusing on the direct issues. The underlying issue is that Russia believes itself to be in a war with the West, albeit, for now, a non-military one (coincidentally the topic of my PhD).

The economic sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine are not perceived as a moderate response from the West to a breach of international law. Rather, as the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated, they are seen as an attempt to provoke regime change in Russia. Moreover, this perception has a longer story than economic sanctions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: From my vantage point .... for much of 2016 I sensed that there was a growing unease in the Kremlin that they were entering into a new Cold War with the West. But with the election of Donald Trump .... I can now say that this worry has disappeared.

Picture Of The Day

The warship can carry up to seven metric tons of armaments on 10 stations and can reach a speed of Mach 2.25 (over 2,700 kmph). A new multirole Russian MiG-35 fighter lands during its international presentation at the MiG plant in Lukhovitsy outside Moscow, Russia January 27, 2017. © REUTERS/ Maxim Shemetov

Does China Want A Nuclear Arms Race?

China's road-mobile ICBMs. Chinese Defense

Melissa Hanham, Foreign Policy: China’s Happy to Sit Out the Nuclear Arms Race

While Putin and Trump push for bigger arsenals, Beijing has all the nukes it'll ever need.

While U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin preen and compare the size of their nuclear arsenals, China has been quite modest on the subject. This macho dance doesn’t interest Beijing. Why? Isn’t bigger always better? For decades, when it comes to nuclear weapons, the answer from China has been a resounding no. The rest of the world would do well to consider their reasons why.

In his last defense speech of 2016, Putin argued that his country needed to “enhance the combat capability of strategic nuclear forces, primarily by strengthening missile complexes that will be guaranteed to penetrate existing and future missile defense systems.” It wasn’t clear from the speech whether Putin seeks to improve nuclear warhead delivery systems in order to confuse American missile defense, or whether he will seek to increase the number of weapons deployed to overwhelm them, or even deploy cyber-capabilities to weaken the ability to respond. Perhaps it’s a strategy, perhaps it’s just rhetoric. U.S. ballistic missile defense efforts — particularly in Europe and Asia — have been a sore spot for both Russia and China.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is a Russian take on China's nuclear ambitions .... Say Hello to China's ICBMs (Sputnik).

Monday, January 30, 2017

Is The U.S. On The Precipice Of Widespread Civil Unrest?

Demonstrators marching on Market Street in San Francisco on Wednesday after the election of Donald Trump as US president.REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Michael Snyder, Zero Hedge/The Economic Collapse blog: The United States Is On The Precipice Of Widespread Civil Unrest

It doesn’t take much of a trigger to push extremely large crowds of very angry protesters into committing acts of rioting and violence. And rioting and violence can ultimately lead to widespread civil unrest and calls for “revolution”. The election of Donald Trump was perhaps the single most galvanizing moment for the radical left in modern American history, and we have already seen that a single move by Trump can literally cause protests to erupt from coast to coast within 48 hours. On Friday, Trump signed an executive order that banned refugees from Syria indefinitely and that placed a 90 day ban on travel to the United States for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Within hours, protesters began to storm major airports, and by Sunday very large crowds were taking to the streets all over the country…

Read more ....

WNU Editor: President Trump's opponents .... both Democrat and Republican .... were completely shocked by the election results that gave the victory to Donald Trump .... and that is saying it lightly. I have been a devoted student of U.S. Presidential elections since Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980 .... and I have never seen the vitriol and hatred that has been directed at a new President .... even before he has been sworn in .... as I am seeing now. And once he was sworn in .... with the full power of the Presidency .... the intensity of this opposition and hatred has now gone off the scale. The fact that President Trump does not back down .... but in fact doubles down when he is attacked .... only adds to the anger that I am now seeing. And while many protestors and opponents of President Trump now believe that the momentum is in their camp .... I have a completely different take. Support for President Trump among his base and who helped get him elected has not wavered .... in fact .... I sense that they are reveling in it as President Trump continues to deliver on the campaign promises that he made during the election. As for the future .... these protests are going to intensify .... and the media will help to galvanize it .... but it is not going to change the situation, and that situation is that President Trump is the President.

President Trump Has Fired The Acting Attorney General



Reuters: Fired: Trump dumps top lawyer who defied immigration order

U.S. President Donald Trump fired top federal government lawyer Sally Yates on Monday after she took the extraordinarily rare step of defying the White House and refused to defend new travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority nations.

It was another dramatic twist in the unusually raucous roll-out of Trump's directive that put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The Friday night ban prompted protests and chaos at airports on the weekend as customs officials struggled to put the order into practise, and the fallout spread to U.S. markets on Monday, where stocks suffered their biggest drop of 2017 and companies affected by the change spoke out against it.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump fires Justice Dept. head over executive order defiance (AP)
Update #2: Trump fires acting AG after she declines to defend travel ban (CNN)
Update #3: Why Yates Had to Go (NRO)

WNU Editor: The Democrats are calling President Trump a tyrant .... DNC blasts 'tyrannical' Trump for firing acting AG Yates (The Hill). What's my take .... if I was the President I would have fired her also. But this story is going to be forgotten within 24 hours .... President Trump is going to name his Supreme Court Justice Tuesday night .... I already know (as well as everyone else) on what the reaction will be from all sides.

In A Show Of Defiance, Acting Attorney General And Obama Nominee Declares Justice Department Will Not Defend Trump’s Immigration Order



Washington Post: Acting Attorney General declares Justice Department won’t defend Trump’s immigration order

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend challenges to President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo Monday she is not convinced the order is lawful.

Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure the department’s position is both “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

Read more ....

Update #1: Acting Attorney General Orders Justice Dept. Not to Defend Refugee Ban (NYT)
Update #2: Acting attorney general orders DOJ not to defend Trump's travel ban (The Hill)
Update #3: Justice head tells staff not to defend Trump refugee order (AP)

WNU Editor:
This Acting Attorney General's declaration only makes President Trump's case on how politicised the U.S. government has become. The US Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on President Trump’s pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions. I suspect that once his nomination has been approved and he is in the Justice Department, this Justice Department decision by its acting head will be quickly reversed.

Terror Attack In Quebec City -- News Roundup



CBC News: Quebec City mosque attack suspect Alexandre Bissonnette charged with 6 counts of 1st-degree murder

Facebook group described Bissonnette as having 'pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist positions'

Alexandre Bissonnette, the man police believe opened fire on a Quebec City mosque, has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm.

Bissonnette appeared in Quebec City court on Monday around 6 p.m. ET. His next court appearance is set for Feb. 21.

According to his Facebook page, which has since been taken down, Bissonnette is from the Quebec City suburb of Cap-Rouge.

His profile also shows he studied anthropology and political science at Laval University and was a cadet as a child.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A lot of details have still not been made public on the person who is responsible for these horrific crimes .... but what we do know is what I outlined yesterday .... a French Quebecer who harbours a deep hatred towards visible minorities who are not French Quebecers. And what is particularly sad about this story is that the men who were killed in this terror attack represent the best of the immigrant community in Canada. All of these victims are/were success stories who had loving families .... who came to Canada for a better life and who fulfilled their goals of becoming citizens that Canada is proud to have .... and now everyone is grieving. This blog covers wars and conflicts around the world .... it is a different story when I cover what is happening in my backyard. My prayers are for the families who lost their loved ones .... and for those whose loved ones are still in hospital. On a side note, I promised last night to give an explanation on why this terror attack happened in Quebec .... and how Quebec nationalism may have played a role. But not tonight .... my anger on what happened is still there and any commentary from my part will be clouded by my hatred on what this killer did. And while I do know that some in the Canadian media are trying to tie President Trump and France's Le Pen to these killings because of some Facebook postings that the killer did .... I also do know that the killer was an admirer of the Pope ..... which these same pundits are conveniently choosing to ignore because it does not fit their narrative. But like I said .... if I am up to it I will provide a more comprehensive commentary in the next day or two.



Terror Attack In Quebec City -- News Roundup

Quebec mosque shooting: update on the police operation -- Montreal Gazette
The Latest: Police now say just 1 suspect in mosque attack -- AP
Multiple murder charges for mosque shooting suspect -- CTV News
PM, premier attend vigil at Quebecers unite after mosque attack -- CTV News
Police now say 1 suspect in Canada mosque shooting -- AP
Quebec mosque suspect charged with murdering six people: court. -- Reuters
Canadian PM says mosque shooting a 'terrorist attack on Muslims' -- Reuters
Suspect In Quebec Mosque Shooting Charged With 6 Counts of Murder -- NYT
Quebec mosque attack: Student Alexandre Bissonnette charged -- BBC
Suspect charged with murder in Quebec mosque terror attack -- FOX News
Quebec ‘Terrorist Attack’: College Student Alexandre Bissonnette Charged -- NBC
Several shooters kill 6 worshipers at Quebec City mosque -- UPI
Two suspects arrested after Quebec mosque shooting kills six, injures eight -- DW
Quebec City mosque shooting: At least six killed, eight injured in 'terrorist attack', officials say -- ABC News Online
Quebec City mosque attack: Six dead and eight injured -- Al Jazeera

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 30, 2017

© REUTERS/ Rick Wilking

Paul Mulshine, NJ.com: Drilling down on a crazy government: Trump can't be any nuttier than Bush and Obama

Maybe it was the Novocaine, but last week I had an epiphany:

This country has been run by insane people for this entire century.

We started out the 2000s with no deficits and no wars.

We ended up with more debt than we can count and more wars than we can count.

I gleaned this knowledge as I was having a couple of crowns installed by my dentist. He's got a TV set up by the chair and the patient can pick the channel.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 30, 2017

The U.S. Was Hardly Wide Open to Muslims Before Trump -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

AP Analysis: Trump travel ban risks straining Mideast ties -- AP

Can Donald Trump Defeat ISIS? -- RCW

ISIL has evolved into something more dangerous -- Hassan Hassan, The National

Can Russian Diplomacy End the Syrian War? -- Frederic C. Hof, Atlantic Council,

End the War by Saving a Unified Yemen -- Garrett Khoury, The Strategy Bridge

Why Islamists are no longer Erdogan’s favorites -- Mustafa Akyol, Al-Monitor

Conditions in the Sahel Benefit Al Qaeda -- Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck, The Cipher Brief

Why the World Needs to Watch the India-Pakistan Nuclear Standoff -- Michael Krepon, National Interest

Russia intends to test Trump in the Middle East -- Jed Babbins, Washington Times

How Russian Hackers Became a Kremlin Headache -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Underdogs complete sweep of French primaries, upending presidential race -- Sara Miller Llana, CSM

Will Paris Pivot to Moscow? -- Robert Zaretsky, RCW

Venezuela, once South America's richest country, continues to spiral -- The Economist

Mosque Shooting Proves Canada Divided Like Rest of West -- D. Capurro, Telegraph

World News Briefs -- January 30, 2017



New York Times: Suspect In Quebec Mosque Shooting Charged With 6 Counts of Murder

QUEBEC — Alexandre Bissonnette, the alleged gunman who killed six and wounded eight at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday, was charged with six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder at the Quebec City Courthouse late on Monday afternoon, handcuffed and wearing a white jumpsuit but leaving a country wondering why.

The shooting on Sunday, the first time someone had been killed in a mosque in Canada and, at least recently, a rare event outside the Muslim world, shocked a nation that has prided itself on openness and has been lauded for its welcoming acceptance of Syrian refugees. The shooting, however, underscored a growing anti-Muslim sentiment that has been particular virulent in some parts of this French-speaking corner of the country.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Russian long-range bombers conduct airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria.

Moscow ready to clarify issue of 'safe zones' in Syria with US. Lavrov: Syria ‘safe zones’ possible if Damascus agrees.

Trump, Saudi King agree to back safe zones in Syria and Yemen.

Syrian government denies rumors Assad in poor health.

Iraqi forces discover ISIS chemical warfare agent in Mosul.

Iraq to oppose U.S. travel curbs, keen to work together against Islamic State.

Jihadist rule in Mosul sparked backlash against religion.

Yemeni civilians killed in first US raid under Trump.

UN report slams Saudi-led coalition over Yemen targets.

Kuwait cabinet approves budget with huge deficit.

Israeli parliament to vote on bill retroactively legalising about 4,000 settler homes.

Netanyahu denounces Iran missile test ahead of Trump meeting.

Netanyahu in hot water over praise of Trump's wall.

ASIA

Philippines police 'halt war on drugs' over rogue officers. Philippines to disband police anti-drugs units after killing of South Korean businessman.

Trump, South Korea's Hwang agree to strengthen defenses against North Korea: White House.

Report: China, North Korea reaffirmed relations.

As Secretary Mattis prepares for Asia visit, North Korea starts reactor.

Pakistan cracks down on group linked to Mumbai attacks.

Six heroin labs destroyed in Afghanistan raid.

Powerful Afghan governor pushes for role on national stage.

Australia's Turnbull: Trump to honor refugee swap deal.

AFRICA

Boko Haram in deadly ambush on motorists in NE Nigeria.

Cameroon widens clampdown to curb Anglophone protests.

Weapons seized from Gambia ex-leader's home: general.

Congolese M23 fighters 'seek refuge in Rwanda'.

African Union re-admits Morocco after 33-year absence.

EU boosts Libya coastguard training to stem migrant flow.

Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat named AU Commission chair.

Madagascar: Truck crash kills 47, including newly-weds.

U.S. travel ban heralds 'turbulent times' for Africa: AU chief.

EUROPE

Germany will support those affected by US travel ban, says Merkel.

One million sign petition to cancel Trump's state visit to the UK following travel ban.

Seven soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine fighting.

Russian top diplomat comments on first Putin-Trump conversation. Kremlin says lifting of sanctions not discussed in Russia-US talks.

Day after Putin call, GOP warns Trump on lifting sanctions.

Germany's Merkel, Trump agree on importance of NATO in call.

Poland's leader hails 'historic' presence of US troops.

Nordic NATO members alert to risk of Russian cyberattacks.

Macedonia's political crisis continues as conservatives fail to form coalition.

Russia grounds Proton space rockets because of faulty engines.

AMERICAS

Quebec mosque suspect charged with murdering six people: court. Quebec City mosque attack suspect Alexandre Bissonnette charged with 6 counts of 1st-degree murder.

Canada's terrorism threat level unchanged after shooting: minister.

Donald Trump: Green card holders allowed to re-enter US as immigration ban eased.

Trump says his order didn't cause weekend airport chaos.

Trump imposes sweeping limits on new US regulations. Trump order targeting business rules leaves key regulations untouched.

Supreme Court nomination will come TOMORROW as Trump strains to shift national conversation away from Friday's travel ban executive order.

Colombia, FARC to help farmers eliminate coca production.

Ex-tycoon Batista jailed in graft probe on return to Brazil.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Commando dies in U.S. raid in Yemen, first military op OK'd by Trump. SEAL, American girl dies in first Trump-era U.S. military raid.

US says female Al-Qaeda combatants killed in Yemen raid.

U.S. drones target two suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen - officials.

France has dropped twice as many bombs on IS as in Libya: airforce chief.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Trump's Muslim travel ban plunges airlines into chaos.

Goldman CEO takes lead on Wall Street in slamming Trump travel ban.

Trump immigration order causes rift with business.

Report: More than 4B data files stolen worldwide last year, a record.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 30, 2017

Russian servicemen of the Northern Fleet's Arctic mechanised infantry brigade participate in a military drill on riding reindeer and dog sleds near the settlement of Lovozero outside Murmansk, Russia January 23, 2017. Picture taken January 23, 2017. Lev Fedoseyev/Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS

Reuters: Putin's Russia in biggest Arctic military push since Soviet fall

The nuclear icebreaker Lenin, the pride and joy of the Soviet Union's Arctic great game, lies at perpetual anchor in the frigid water here. A relic of the Cold War, it is now a museum.

But nearly three decades after the Lenin was taken out of service to be turned into a visitor attraction, Russia is again on the march in the Arctic and building new nuclear icebreakers.

It is part of a push to firm Moscow's hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States, and Norway as well as newcomer China.

Interviews with officials and military analysts and reviews of government documents show Russia's build-up is the biggest since the 1991 Soviet fall and will, in some areas, give Moscow more military capabilities than the Soviet Union once had.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 30, 2017

First-Rate MiG-35 Multirole Jetfighter to Join Russia's Fleet -- Sputnik

Massive combat readiness check completed in Russia’s Central Military District -- TASS

North Korea could test midrange missile before ICBM, officials say -- UPI

Images reveal mock-up of Chinese carrier-borne AEW&C aircraft -- IHS Jane's 360

The Indian Navy Looks for a New Carrier-Based Fighter -- Ankit Panda, The Diplomat

Why Israel has the most technologically advanced military on Earth -- Yaakov Katz, NYP

Rodrigo Duterte accused the US of building arms depots in his country, but his military says they don't exist -- Reuters

Manila Eager to Sign Military Agreement With Moscow, Eyes Russian Weapons. -- Sputnik

Where is the New U.S.-Philippines Military Pact? -- Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat

'Sadistic rituals' practiced at German elite base detailed by media, investigated by military -- RT

The British Army Can’t Find Enough Soldiers -- Kevin Knodell, War Is Boring

HMS Putin Hunter: For the first time since the Cold War Theresa May sends Royal Navy warship to Black Sea after warning we must stand up to Russia -- Daily Mail

U.S. to Deploy Tanks to the Baltics -- WSJ

Trump Immigration Order Shakes US-Iraq Alliance Against ISIS -- Defense News

Military: First-known combat death since Trump in office -- Military Times

US Congress orders review of Russian & Chinese leadership’s nuclear strike ‘survivability’ -- RT

U.S. Army spotlights innovative ZH2 vehicle -- UPI

Army Wires Armored Vehicles With Weapons, Electronic Warfare -- Scout Warrior

The Curious Case of the U.S. Army's M551 Sheridan Light Tank -- National Interest

Trump calls for more submarines — for less money -- The Day

Trump: Lockheed Martin to Cut $600Mln Off F-35 Jet Program -- Sputnik

F-35 Review: A Fresh Look at the Industrial Base -- National Defense

The Price of an F-35 Was Already Falling. Can Trump Drive it Lower? -- Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One

This jet fighter is a disaster, but Congress keeps buying it -- Sam Ellis, VOX

Senators Question Army Chief on Supposed Polymer Magazine Ban -- Military.com

Pentagon Can Take Control of Attacking Drones -- Scout Warrior

The US Military Is Developing a Drone That Can Fly For a Week Straight -- Motherboard

Pentagon wants Japanese firms’ energy, materials tech -- Japan Times

Trident missile nose cap lands in Bahamas -- BBC

Russian Rockets Sold To NASA May Blow Up Due To Faulty Metal -- Daily Caller

Forget the Sig Sauer — 5 Deadly Alternatives To The Army’s New Pistol -- Task & Purpose

Former Staffers Alarmed by Trump's National Security Council Shakeup -- Defense News

Robert Gates: 'Big Mistake' to Push Key Intelligence, Military Leaders Out of Security Council Principals Committee -- ABC News

Critics Go Apoplectic On President Trump's Decision To Install His Top Political Adviser On The National Security Council Principal's Committee (Updated)



CNN: Bannon role on National Security Council under fire

(CNN)President Donald Trump further reorganized the National Security Council on Monday after he came under sharp criticism for ousting the country's most senior intelligence and military officials as regular members of the Principals Committee -- and installing one of his top political advisers on the key panel.

On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced that Trump will reinstate the director of the CIA as a regular Principals Committee member. But the President will keep his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, as a regular committee member -- a move that came under fire -- while the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will not be regular attendees.

The committee is a Cabinet-level group of agencies focused on national security that was established by President George H. W. Bush in 1989.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Is a media double standard at play on the Steve Bannon appointment? .... Donald Trump’s National Security Council reorganization copies previous GOP president (Washington Times).

More News On The Growing Criticisms Of President Trump's Decision To Install His Top Political Adviser On The National Security Council Principal's Committee

White House defends Steve Bannon’s role on National Security Council -- USA Today
White House Defends Trump’s NSC Reorganization -- US News and World Report
White House balks at flap over National Security Council: ‘Utter nonsense’ -- Washington Times
Bannon Is Given Security Role Usually Held for Generals -- New York Times
Trump’s dangerous move to politicize the National Security Council -- Michael R. Ortiz, The Hill
White House press secretary goes on lengthy rant in attempt to clarify changes to national security team -- Pamela Engel, Business Insider
The White House Just Charted a Dangerous Course With NSC Machinations -- John R. Schindler, Observer

Pentagon Rushes To Make Exemptions For Iraqi Translators From The White House's Immigration Rules

A masked translator for the U.S. soldiers distributes peace pamphlets as they inspect a road repair project in Baghdad January 27, 2007. REUTERS/Erik de Castro

The Cable/Foreign Policy: Pentagon Scrambles to Make Exception for Iraqi Translators

Blindsided by Friday’s order from the White House that temporarily slammed the door on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Department of Defense is scrambling to put together a list of Iraqi nationals who helped U.S. forces over the past 15 years that might be in line for a waiver.

The list would consist of “those who have tangibly demonstrated their commitment” to support U.S. forces, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.

Davis wouldn’t confirm if the Pentagon asked the White House for permission to start compiling the list of names, but said, “we have been provided the opportunity by the White House” to submit the list. Reports have indicated that the executive order wasn’t shared outside of the White House before it was signed on by President Trump on Friday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: One sore point that I have had with past U.S. administrations is how they have treated those .... who at great risk .... have gone out of their way to assist the U.S.. If there is ever a group that deserves to be put on the express lane for U.S. citizenship .... it is these people. Kudos to the Pentagon to finally make the effort to assist these people .... now they must deliver. on a personal note .... in my book this man should be on the top of the list to be granted U.S. citizenship.

Senior Chinese Military Official Muses On Why A War Against The U.S. May Become A 'Practical Reality'

Jon Woo/Reuters

The Independent: China military official says war with US under Donald Trump 'becoming practical reality'

Sino-US relations are becoming more tense under America's new administration

War with the US under Donald Trump is “not just a slogan” and becoming a “practical reality”, a senior Chinese military official has said.

The remarks were published on the People’s Liberation Army website, apparently in response to the aggressive rhetoric towards China from America's new administration.

They communicated a view from inside the Central Military Commission, which has overall authority of China’s armed forces.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is very dangerous talk coming from China. Sino-U.S. relations were already growing tense before President Trump's election victory .... and it is going to become even worse when the U.S. starts to focus on the massive trade imbalance that they have with China. The number one worry in Beijing right now is the economy .... and the direction on where it is heading is not good .... doubly so if the U.S. starts to impose restrictions on Chinese strade .... How Long Can China's Debt Continue To Grow Before A Systemic Crisis Strikes? (Zero Hedge).

More News On China Now Musing On How A War Against The U.S. May Become A 'Practical Reality'

China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’ -- South China Morning Post
Trump effect? War with the US has become practical reality, China army official -- Hindustan Times
Chinese military official warns that war with US under Trump is becoming a 'practical reality' -- Business Insider
The Nuclear Arsenals of China and the U.S. -- Jeffrey Lin & P.W. Singer, Popular Science
Is War Against China Justified? -- Anders Corr, Forbes
China vs. U.S. in the South China Sea — a very deadly situation -- Paul Wallis, Digital Journal

The U.S. Congress Wants To Know If The Russian And Chinese Government Can Survive A Preemptive Nuclear Strike

A Trident II, or D-5 missile, is launched from an Ohio-class submarine © Reuters

Bloomberg: U.S. Reviews Nuclear Strike Survival for Russia and China

* Intelligence agency, Pentagon study resiliency of governments
* Report mandated by Congress in bill predating Trump presidency

U.S. intelligence agencies and the Pentagon’s Strategic Command are working on a new evaluation of whether the Russian and Chinese leadership could survive a nuclear strike and keep operating, even as President Donald Trump seeks to reshape relations with both nations.

The new study, ordered by Congress before Trump took office, drew bipartisan support from members who harbor deep concern about China’s increasing military boldness and distrust of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions.

Read more ....

Update #1: US Congress orders review of Russian & Chinese leadership’s nuclear strike ‘survivability’ (RT)
Update #2: Congress Commissions Study on What Would Happen if US Preemptively Nuked Russia (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: This report was mandated before President Trump took office, and while there has been no reaction from the Chinese government on this U.S. Congressional request, the Russians are not amused.

President Obama Calls For Protests Against President Trump



Washington Post: Obama rejects comparison between Trump’s immigration policy and his own, encourages protests

Former president Barack Obama rejected the idea Monday that President Trump based his immigration executive order on a policy adopted by his own administration, and he endorsed the protests that have been taking place across the country in response to the new restrictions.

Trump has said that his move to ban the entry of migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries into the United States, and to suspend temporarily the admission of refugees, was based in part on a decision in 2011 by then-President Obama to ban the admission of Iraqis to the country after evidence surfaced that two Iraqis seeking resettlement had been linked to terrorist activity in their homeland. The Obama and Trump administrations also identified the same seven countries as harboring terrorism threats.

Former Obama administration officials have denied that there was ever a halt to the awarding of visas to Iraqis, though the processing of these applications slowed after they were subject to more intense scrutiny.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A former President .... just two weeks after leaving office .... now attacking a sitting President and encouraging protests. The media and progressives are going to be overjoyed .... but there is going to be blow-back from this "encouragement".

Editor's Note

Helping a friend of my brother's whose wife is stuck in Montreal because of the confusion over restrictions on U.S. immigration. She is Iranian .... her American husband lives in San Francisco and they are both visiting Montreal for the annual car show. I should be in front of my computer in the next few hours to resume blogging.

Update 15:29 EST: Problem solved .... their problem had nothing to do with U.S. immigration restrictions .... it was a misunderstanding with U.S. customs that was quickly resolved .... they are flying out tonight. But it was still an interesting and educational day. My brother is as progressive as you can get .... and since his friends are from uber-liberal San Francisco .... I expected to get an earful from them about Trump this and Trump that .... but it did not happen. In fact .... it was the complete opposite. They are not Trump supporters .... but they are beyond fed-up on how out-of-control the U.S. border has become .... and are wondering why other countries are not on Trump's list. As I said .... an interesting and educational day .... watching and hearing the main stream media go into a melt-down over a White House trying to control it's border .... and hearing people who are being impacted by it saying the opposite.

President Trump Reorganises The National Security Council. Adds His Chief Strategist To The Council

Steve Bannon attends as Trump signs executive orders in the Oval Office on Saturday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

NPR: With National Security Council Shakeup, Steve Bannon Gets A Seat At The Table

President Trump has reorganized the National Security Council by elevating his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and demoting the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bannon will join the NSC's principals committee, the top interagency group for discussing national security. The National Security Council is the staff inside the White House that coordinates decision-making by the president on such matters, in coordination with outside departments including the State Department and the Pentagon.

It's an unusual decision, NPR's Mara Liasson reports. "David Axelrod, for instance, who had a similar job as Bannon in the Obama administration, never sat in on principals meetings," she added. When such figures seen as part of the political wing of the White House have participated in broader National Security Council meetings, it has sparked sharp criticism from the national security establishment.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The White House defends its decision .... Trump Administration Defends Bannon’s Role on Security Council (NYT). More here .... Trump chief of staff: defense officials not off NSC after Bannon move (The Guardian). What's my take .... national security, wars, defense and intelligence policies .... these are always issues that have been politicised by every President in the past. The optics of putting chief strategist Steve Bannon on the NSC certainly do not look good .... but in reality .... politics is what drives many of the national security decisions that comes out from the Council. As to reports that the Joint Chief and other senior intel officers have been left out .... this is a mistake .... but since this announcement the White House Chief of State is now saying that these officials have not been left out of the NSC.

More News On President Trump Reorganising The National Security Council And Addsing His Chief Strategist To The Council

Bannon Is Given Security Role Usually Held for Generals -- NYT
White House backs Steve Bannon attending national-security meetings -- AP
Trump adds Steve Bannon to national security team -- CBS
Trump gives National Security Council seat to ex-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon -- The Guardian
Trump gives Stephen Bannon National Security Council role -- USA Today
Trump National Security Council Shake-Up Elevates Stephen Bannon -- Fortune
The man behind Trump? Still Steve Bannon -- Politico