Thursday, March 30, 2017

Did A Former Obama Intelligence Official Admit That President Trump`s Staff Was Under Surveillance?





FOX News: Who is Obama administration official who spilled beans?

The former Obama administration official who admitted earlier this month that her former colleagues tried to secretly gather intelligence on President Trump’s team was no low-level staffer.

Evelyn Farkas was once considered the most senior policy officer for Russia within the Pentagon, and she is now apparently defending the leaks that have been coming out of the Trump White House.

Now an MSNBC analyst and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, Farkas has "advised three secretaries of defense on Russia policy," according to a senior defense official quoted in Politico. She has served on the Council on Foreign Relations and the Senate Armed Services Committee, among others, and was executive director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism in 2008-2009.

Read more ....

Update: Priebus: WH Will Look Into Evelyn Farkas Story; Almost Too Incredible To Be True (RCP)

WNU Editor: The partisans are out .... on the right ....

Former Obama Official Stumbles While Trying to Backtrack After Implying Intel Leaks (News Busters)
Obama Official Who Hinted at Intel Leaks Now Says She’s Victim of ‘Fake News’ (News Busters)

and on the left ....

Right-Wing Media Misinterpret Weeks-Old Interview To Justify Trump’s Wiretap Lie (Media Matters)

and even on Snopes ....

Did Evelyn Farkas Just Leak Information Confirming President Obama Spied on President Trump? (Snopes)

As to what is my take .... she was not a minor official in the Obama administration .... and what she said is truly eye-opening. She is now backtracking on what she said (I am not surprised there) .... and some are saying that because she left in September 2015 .... she was not privy to this intelligence. But I am not sure .... once an intel person, you are always an intel person, and your friends who are still working will always keep you in the loop.  She is definitely someone who knows a lot of intel stuff .... but I think this is the last that we will hear from her.

New York Times Has Revealed Who Provided The Intel Files To Rep. Nunes That President Trump Was Under Surveillance During The Obama Administration



New York Times: 2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports

WASHINGTON — A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election.

Mr. Nunes has also been faulted by his congressional colleagues for sharing the information with President Trump before consulting with other members of the intelligence committee.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I said last week that Rep. Nunes made the mistake of running to the White House to disclose what was in these documents instead of first informing his colleagues on the committee on what he had found. It took the story away from what was in the documents .... and onto him. And while everyone knew that he had read these documents on White House grounds .... who specifically let him in was not known until this afternoon. Again ... the focus will be on who let him in .... and not on these documents and files  .... which have be explosive for everyone to be reacting as they are. As for the White House .... it is clear to me that they are now going through every intel file and document that went through the Obama administration .... and they are not liking what they are finding. Upon reflection ... and this is pure speculation on my part .... on the day that President Trump tweeted that he found out that he was under surveillance .... I commented that it looks like an important official told him that morning that he was monitored/wiretappeded/etc. ....  and that it was not the New York Times and Bret Baier that he learned this intel as he (President Trumo) had claimed. Today .... if my instincts were correct .... I am wondering if that official was either Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, or Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s office .... who we now know were the two men who briefed Rep. Nunes last week on what they found.

Update: The White House should have done this last week instead of letting Rep. Nunes say that he will provide these files to his committee members .... and then he did nothing about it .... White House invites Congress investigation leaders to view documents (CNN).

More News On The New York Times Revealing Who Provided The Intel Files To Rep. Nunes That President Trump Was Under Surveillance During The Obama Administration

Two White House officials helped give Nunes intelligence reports: NYT -- ReuterséNew York Times
White House Officials Aided Nunes in Getting Intel: Report -- NBC
2 White House officials helped Nunes get intel: report -- The Hill
Report: 2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports -- FOX News
Report: Two White House officials gave surveillance information to Nunes -- US News and World Report
White House Mum on Report That Staffers Helped Supply Nunes with Intel Reports -- US News and World Report
Ezra Cohen-Watnick: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know -- Heavy

Turkey Ends Military Operations In Northern Syria



The Independent: Turkey ends 'Euphrates Shield' military operation in Syria, PM says

'Any operation following this one will have a different name'

Turkey has ended the "Euphrates Shield" military operation it launched in Syria, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said.

However, Mr Yildirim suggested there might be more cross-border campaigns to come.

Last August, Turkey sent troops, tanks and warplanes to support Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels, push Isis fighters away from its border and stop the advance of Kurdish militia fighters.

"Operation Euphrates Shield has been successful and is finished," Mr Yildirim said in an interview with broadcaster NTV. "Any operation following this one will have a different name."

Read more ....

More News On Turkey Ending Its Military Operations In Northern Syria

Turkey says ends its military operation in northern Syria -- AFP
Turkey calls end to its military incursion in Syria -- UPI
Turkey 'ends' Euphrates Shield campaign in Syria -- BBC
Turkey ends ‘Shield’ military operation in Syria -- Al Arabiya/Reuters
Turkey announces end to military operation in Syria -- DW
Turkey says 'Euphrates Shield' operation in Syria 'successfully completed' -- RT
What's Behind Turkey Ending Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria -- Sputnik

EU President Warns President Trump That He Will Support Independence For Ohio And Texas



CNN: I'll back Texas independence, EU's Juncker warns Trump

(CNN)The president of the executive arm of the European Union had a message for US President Donald Trump on Thursday: mind your own business.

"The newly elected US president was happy that the Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same," European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said. However, he warned, "if he goes on like that I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas, in the United States of America."

Juncker, a Luxembourg politician who has been president of the European Commission since 2014, was speaking at the conference of the center-right European People's Party (EPP) in Malta.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker clearly has no clue on how Americans think .... let alone Texans.

More News On EU President Juncker Warning President Trump That He Will Support Independence For Ohio And Texas

Juncker warns Trump over Brexit support -- AFP
Juncker threatens to promote Ohio independence after Trump’s Brexit backing -- Politico
Juncker threatens to take revenge on Trump over Brexit by campaigning for OHIO to go independent -- Daily Mail
EU to Trump: Mess With Brexit and We’ll Mess With Texas -- Bloomberg
An EU Official Lets Loose on Trump -- The Atlantic
Trump better stop encouraging EU secession or kiss Texas goodbye, warns Juncker -- RT

U.S. President Donald Trump And Chinese President Xi Jinping Will Meet At Mar-a-Lago On April 6-7



Reuters:
China's Xi to meet Trump in Florida next week

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold their first face-to-face talks next week, a highly anticipated meeting between leaders at odds over trade, China's strategic ambitions and how to deal with North Korea's weapons programs.

The White House said Trump would host Xi next Thursday and Friday at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida and "discuss global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual concern."

Trump and his wife Melania will host Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan at a dinner next Thursday, a White House statement said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They are not going to play golf .... Xi Jinping's 'War on Golf' Could Leave Donald Trump With No Sports Buddy (Newsweek).

More News On U.S. President Donald Trump And Chinese President Xi Jinping Will Be Meeting At Mar-a-Lago On April 6-7

China's Xi to meet Trump in Mar-a-Lago on April 6-7 -- AP
Chinese President Xi to visit Trump next week at Mar-a-Lago -- Politico
Trump to host China's President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, and both men's wives will attend, the White House officially announces -- Daily Mail
Trump Will Host China's President In Florida On April 6 -- NPR
Trump to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago -- The Hill
How Chinese media are spinning Trump-Xi Palm Beach superpower summit -- Palm Beach Post

World News Briefs -- March 30, 2017



BBC: Brexit: UK sets out plans to replace all EU laws

Thousands of EU laws on everything from workers' rights to the environment are to be transferred into UK law as the country gears up for Brexit.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Great Repeal Bill would allow the UK Parliament and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations to scrap, amend and improve laws.

It would also end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

But Labour warned it was being done without proper Parliamentary scrutiny.

It comes a day after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, starting the process which will officially take Britain out of the EU in March 2019.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi forces in Mosul see deadliest urban combat since World War II. Mosul shows difficulty of removing militants from urban area.

UN chief in Iraq backs fight against Islamic State group.

Rush hour on Mosul's 'displacement highway'.

Turkey announces end to military operation in Syria. Turkey 'ends' Euphrates Shield campaign in Syria. Turkey ends 'Euphrates Shield' operation in Syria.

UN: Number of Syrian refugees passes five million. UN calls for action as Syrian refugee numbers exceed 5 million.

Assad’s fate ‘to be decided by Syrian people,’ says Tillerson.

Iran denies meddling in Arab world.

Rattled by Donald Trump's ambiguous policies, Arab leaders renew calls for Palestinian statehood.

Thousands commemorate Palestinian 'Land Day'.

Netanyahu vows to move ahead on new settlement plan.

ASIA

North Korea condemns U.S. senators for 'offending' Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong-nam: Malaysia releases body of slain half-brother of Kim Jong-un, diplomatic spat ends.

Russia, Iran urge dialogue between Afghanistan, Taliban.

Philippines' Duterte threatens press over critical coverage.

Cambodian opposition figure sentenced again.

Veils and 'abnormal' beards banned as China attempts to combat religious extremism in Xinjiang. China's Xinjiang cracks down on Muslim practices in 'anti-extremist' push.

Trump to meet China's Xi in Florida next week.

AFRICA

Boko Haram faction seeks grassroots support in NE Nigeria.

Libya asks EU for ships and radars to stop migrants: sources.

Aide to warlord Kony surrenders as US pulls from mission.

Ethiopia extends state of emergency by four months.

US demands cuts to UN's DRC troop deployment.

UN to scale back DR Congo peacekeeping force.

Exclusive: South Africa's Zuma considers stepping down early in deal to oust Gordhan.


South African opposition parties aim at President Jacob Zuma.

EUROPE

Putin wants to meet Trump before July's G20 summit.

West ignoring Putin's actions, says dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Russia opposes THAAD defense system in Korea.

Putin says Western criticism of Russia's handling of protests political.

Poland shuts down Ukraine consulates following Lutsk grenade attack.

Brexit: No talks with the UK before clear withdrawal terms, says France.

EU could BREAK UP the US: Juncker in jaw-dropping threat to Trump over support for Brexit.

AMERICAS

Senators voice alarm over Russian election interference. Russia draws senators' focus in hearing on election meddling.

US senators McCain and Graham: We won't back short-term government funding bill.

Venezuela Supreme Court takes over legislative powers from National Assembly. Venezuela high court to take over National Assembly duties.

Leftist gains edge ahead of tense Ecuador presidential vote.

Brazil ex-speaker Eduardo Cunha jailed for 15 years.

El Salvador becomes first country to ban metals mining.

10 bodies found in mass grave in Mexico.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Top general: ISIS ‘extraordinarily savvy’ in cyber.

Pentagon picks national security lawyer to run Guantanamo war court.

Canadian airport employees showed signs of radicalization, visited ISIS websites – report.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US move to relax privacy rules for internet service providers could trigger European pushback.

Toshiba shareholders angry as chip unit sale approved.

UK's Brexit poses trade headache.

Air traffic booming around the world.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 30, 2017



Washington Times: Gen. Joseph Votel: Rigorous rules of engagement remain unchanged for U.S. forces in Iraq, Syria

The rigorous rules of engagement under which U.S. forces battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria operate remain unchanged, despite claims that subtle changes to those rules have opened the door to increased risk of civilian casualties.

“We have not relaxed the rules of engagement” for U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel told House defense lawmakers Wednesday.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 30, 2017

US military opens investigation into Mosul airstrike -- ABC News

Reports: Germany involved in deadly Syria airstrike -- DW

U.S. sees more civilian casualties as campaign against militants intensifies -- Washington Times

Mosul Lays Bare the Challenge of Asymmetric Warfare -- Dan Perry & Susannah George, RCD/AP

Iraqi forces in Mosul see deadliest urban combat since World War II -- USA Today

New Details on Surprise Deployment as More Soldiers Head to War -- Military.com

US Army announces new Iraq, Afghanistan deployments for 600 soldiers -- Army Times

CENTCOM: More U.S. artillery troops may be needed in Raqqa -- UPI

CENTCOM chief: 'Vital US interests at stake' in Yemen -- Defense News

U.S. Gen. Votel: Russia providing weapons, support to Taliban in Afghanistan -- Washington Times

U.S. General: 'Fair to Assume' Russia Is Supporting Taliban in Afghanistan -- FOX News

Amid US Uncertainty on Afghanistan, Russia Resurrects Interest -- Military.com/AP

Afghan generals face charges in crackdown on military corruption -- Washington Post

Russia's hypersonic missile ratchets up arms race -- DW

Russia's hypersonic missile ratchets up arms race -- DW

Report: South Korea to deploy upgraded tactical transporter with air force -- UPI

Analyst: North Korea could conduct simultaneous nuclear bomb tests -- UPI

Brexit countdown leaves British defense industry uneasy -- Defense News

Israel reports upswing in defense sales -- Defense News

Trump administration to allow Bahrain F-16 deal -- Defense News

Trump Drops Human Rights Demand in Bid to Sell Bahrain F-16 Jets -- Bloomberg

F-15 retirement likely not a possibility until 2020s, Air Force officials say -- Defense News

Air Force pushes B-21 advanced stealth bomber with more flexible tech approach -- CNBC

Boeing Proposes Massive New F-18 Upgrades - What Will Keep the Aircraft Flying for Decades to Come? -- Scout Warrior

U.S. may sell Stryker vehicles to Latin American countries -- UPI

Next-gen combat vehicle prototype efforts emerge -- Defense News

U.S. Missile Defense Agency buys Lot 9 THAAD Interceptors -- UPI

General Electric to install Hornet engines for U.S. Navy -- UPI

Marine Corps plans to offer pilots retention bonuses for first time since 2011 -- Marine Times

The Air Force is thinking about paying pilots up to $455,000 to stay in uniform -- Air Force Times

Army: Arlington National Cemetery Is At a 'Critical Point' for Space -- Military.com/Stars and Stripes

Four veterans living with PTSD reveal the disorder’s many faces -- PBS News Hour

CENTCOM U.S. General: Iran is A 'Destabilizing' Force. Military Action May Be Necessary



CNBC: General calls Iran 'destabilizing' force, suggests US 'disrupt' regime by military means

The nation's top military official in the Middle East on Wednesday said Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region.

"I believe that Iran is operating in what I call a gray zone," Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony Wednesday. "And it's an area between normal competition between states — and it's just short of open conflict."

Read more ....

More News On CENTCON Gen. Joseph Votel's Remarks On Iran

Iran Is the 'Greatest Long-Term Threat to Stability,' Army General Warns -- Newsweek
Army General Votel: U.S. Needs to Examine Ways to 'Disrupt' Iran Through Military -- The Street
US should use ‘military means’ against Iran: CENTCOM chief -- Press TV
US General Says Iran Poses “Most Significant Threat”, Calls for Military Action -- Al Manar

I May Have A New Job

NATO military exercise in Adazi, Latvia, © Ints Kalnins / Reuters

RT: NATO acting up: Alliance looking for people to portray ‘Russians’ during war drills

NATO is offering jobs to Russian-speaking actors ready to play civilians in the alliance’s military drills, according to a job advertisement on the official website for the city of Berlin.

The ad was posted on March 22 by the German recruitment agency Optronic HR GmbH, which specializes in enlisting extras for military exercises conducted by NATO and the US Armed Forces. Pictures and data on the organization's website suggest it previously looked for extras primarily for NATO military maneuvers within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), during which it was necessary to create conditions close to those of Afghanistan.

Read more ....

Update: Germany Recruits Russian-Speaking Actors to Take Part in US Army Training (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: Hmmm .... I walk like a Russian. Talk like a Russian. And even act like a Russian .... so I must be a Russian .... and a natural shoe-in for such a job.

Darn .... the job openings are in Germany. I live in Canada. Sighhh .... no new job for me :((

A Trump - Putin Summit In Finland In May?

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin © Reuters / Sputnik

RT: Putin ready to meet Trump at upcoming Arctic summit in Finland

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would be ready to meet with US President Donald Trump at the upcoming summit of Arctic countries in Finland, if the talks are properly prepared.

“I believe Finland suits this purpose well, and Helsinki is a very convenient platform to organize an event like this,” Putin said, when asked if he thought a meeting between him and Trump was possible in Finland.

Putin was speaking at the International Arctic Forum in Russia’s northwestern city of Arkhangelsk.

However, he added that any meeting between him and Trump should be well prepared “by both sides.”

“If this happens, we – and I personally – would be glad to take part in such an event. If not, the meeting [with Trump] could take place in the framework of the G20 summit [set to take place in July],” Putin concluded.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I was asked this question on a Moscow radio program that I was on this morning. I said  this meeting is not going to happen. All things Russian are now poisonous in Washington .... and the optics of Trump meeting Putin and shaking hands .... the U.S. media and Trump's critics will have a field day on just that.

More News On President Putin wanting To Meet President Trump in Finland

Putin seeks Trump meeting in Helsinki in May -- BBC
Read my lips: NO – Putin says about Russia’s 'meddling' in US elections -- FOX News/AP
Russia's Putin says ready to meet Trump at a summit in Finland -- Reuters
Putin Wants to Meet with Trump in Finland -- VOA
Putin wants to meet Trump before July's G20 summit -- UPI
Putin Says He’s Ready to Meet Trump If Finland Hosts Summit -- Bloomberg

Russian President Putin On Russian 'Meddling' In U.S. Elections: 'Read My Lips: NO!!!!'



RT: Read my lips: NO – Putin says about Russia’s 'meddling' in US elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again dismissed allegations that Moscow meddled in last year’s US elections while answering a question during the Arctic Forum hosted by Russia.

“Once Reagan, discussing taxes, addressed Americans with ‘Read my lips – No’!’” the Russian President said, answering a question posed by the anchor of the forum, which is underway in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: "Read my lips" .... where did I hear that before. Hmmmm .... oh yeah .... President Bush: Read my lips.

More News On President Putin's Denial That Russia Meddled in the U.S. Presidential Campaign

Did Russia Influence the US Election? Putin Says, 'Read My Lips—No' -- Newsweek
Putin slams US election meddling claims as 'lies' -- CNN
Putin blasts ‘fictional’ hacking claims ahead of Senate hearing -- Washington Times
Putin: 'Read my lips,' election interference claims are lies -- The Hill

Poll: Independents And Republicans Believe President Trump Was 'Wiretapped' During The Campaign


WNU Editor: These poll results (and more) are from here .... Republicans blame bill, not Trump, for health care defeat (CBS)

Did The Obama Administration Block The FBI Director From Revealing Russian Interference In The Presidential Election Last Year?



Newsweek: FBI Director James Comey Tried To Reveal Russian Tampering Months Before Election

FBI Director James Comey attempted to go public as early as the summer of 2016 with information on Russia’s campaign to influence the U.S. presidential election, but Obama administration officials blocked him from doing so, two sources with knowledge of the matter tell Newsweek.

Well before the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused the Russian government of tampering with the U.S. election in an October 7 statement, Comey pitched the idea of writing an op-ed about the Russian campaign during a meeting in the White House Situation Room in June or July.

“He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward. What do people think of this?’” says a source with knowledge of the meeting, which included Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson and the national security adviser Susan Rice.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If these allegations are true .... that the Obama administration nixed the FBI Director to come forward on Russian election interference .... so much for FBI Director Comey's claims yesterday that .... FBI director Comey: 'We're not on anybody's side, ever' (ABC News). But if the Newsweek article is true, it contradicts what the FBI Director said in December (see bottom of the following report) .... Confusion over James Comey: Two reports shine different lights over the state of the Trump-Russia probes (Salon). This story needs to be cleared up, but the only people who can clear it up are those who were at the meeting .... FBI Director Comey, Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson and the national security adviser Susan Rice. Unfortunately .... none of them are talking .... unless they are the anonymous source .... and I include the FBI Director in that mix.

Update: Not surprised that both Democrats and Republicans are becoming very upset with the FBI Director .... New FBI official at the center of the storm (The Hill).

.... The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee had accused the FBI of withholding critical information from an investigation. Some Democrats had called for FBI Director James Comey to resign. And in one dramatic moment behind closed doors, frustrated lawmakers shouted at Comey in anger.

Update #2: The U.S. Senate are now getting involved .... Senate intelligence leaders pledge bipartisan Trump-Russia inquiry (Reuters)

More News On Reports That The Obama Administration Blocked The FBI Director From Revealing Russian Interference In The Presidential Election Last Year

Comey reportedly tried to expose possible Russia tampering before election -- FOX News
FBI director James Comey 'wanted to reveal Russian meddling months before the election but was talked out of it by the Obama administration' -- Daily Mail
FBI Director Comey sought to reveal Russian election meddling last summer: report -- The Hill
James Comey Reportedly Tried to Reveal Russia's Election Meddling Last Summer -- Vanity Fair
White House Blocked Comey’s Op-Ed on Russia’s Alleged Meddling in Elections -- Sputnik

Russia's Young Are Now Coming Out To Protest

Protesters in St. Petersburg gathered outside the city's famous Winter Palace

Allison Fedirka, Geopolitical Futures: The Russian Opposition's Coming Out

On March 26, an estimated 70,000 Russians participated in anti-Kremlin rallies in 99 cities across the country. Geopolitical Futures forecast that Russia would have economic and political problems in 2017 due to continuously low oil prices. Mounting wage arrears, localized banking crises, cuts to government spending, and decreased purchasing power have laid the groundwork for social unrest, particularly in the country’s interior regions. These protests show seemingly coordinated unrest, including in metropolitan centers like Moscow and St. Petersburg. This suggests that control by the regime in Moscow is becoming more tenuous, and it raises the question of whether our forecast was too conservative.

Our forecast envisioned a scenario of sporadic, minor unrest in small towns and cities that would increase in magnitude and intensity throughout the year. But it is only March, and tens of thousands of people already have taken to the streets, including in major urban areas, to express disapproval of President Vladimir Putin’s administration. The increase in scope and intensity has occurred at a faster pace than originally thought.

Read more ....

Update #1: Russian students committed to fighting 'absurdity' (DW)
Update #2: Russia's new protest generation (Roman Dobrokhotov, Al Jazeera)

WNU Editor: Since the weekend I have been checking and reading Russian social media posts .... focusing on my cousin's kids (they are all in their late twenties) and their friends. Wow .... everyone .... and I mean everyone in this generation are talking about more protests and changing the system. If I was the Kremlin .... I would be worried .... and from what I am hearing .... they are starting to be concerned.

Editor's Note

Was on a Moscow radio program this morning (talking about all the wars and conflicts in the world). The discussion is now over. Getting back to blogging now.

A Look At President Trump's Proposed Defense Budget


Will Edwards, Cipher Brief: Sizing Up the Trump Defense Budget

President Donald Trump’s defense budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 calls for $54 billion in additional spending, but it is not yet clear where this new funding will come from or what it will be used for. The proposed increase builds on spending hikes planned by the outgoing Obama administration, but it is publicly unpopular. In a recent poll, 58 percent of Americans said they opposed the increase. The size and complexity of the defense budget makes it a lightning rod for disagreements, which can ultimately work against the goal of providing a first-class military with global reach.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am not surprised that 58 percent of Americans say they oppose the increase .... if I was an American, I would oppose it too. The reason for this opposition is simple .... no one has made the case on why the Pentagon budget should be increased. Make the case by outlining what are the national security concerns of the United States ..... what is needed .... what it would cost .... have the debate .... and if you do it right, the people will support you.

Foreign Tanks Can Now Match The U.S. M1 Abrams

Russian's T-90 tank fires live ordnance in this undated photo from the Russian Defense Ministry. The T-90 is among the foreign tanks whose capability now match the U.S.-made M1 Abrams tank, a U.S. Army general told senators during a March 22, 2017, hearing on Capitol Hill.

Defense Tech: These Foreign Tanks Now Match the M1 Abrams, US General Says

A handful of foreign tanks — including Russia’s — now match the power of the U.S. Army’s main battle tank, the M1 Abrams, an American general recently testified to Congress.

“I think for the very near term, the Abrams is still near the very top of its class,” said Lt. Gen. John M. Murray, deputy chief of staff for financial management, referring to the third-generation tank built by General Dynamics Corp. that entered service in 1980.

“I think we have parity,” he said during a March 22 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Airland Subcommittee. “I think there is parity out there. I don’t think we have overmatch.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia’s T-14 Armata is probably the top tank .... but the West should not fear it that much .... production of the tank has hit many snags.

Tweet For Today

EU Parliament President: 30 Million Africans May Flee To Europe Within The Next 10 Years

© Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

RT: 30mn Africans may come to Europe within next 10 years – EU parliament chief

Protracted violence, civil wars and poverty may force up to 30 million Africans to come to Europe within the next 10 years, posing new security challenges to the continent, says the newly-appointed president of the European Parliament.

Europe must now tackle two greatest challenges, namely, terrorism and migration, with both phenomena being interconnected, Antonio Tajani, an Italian politician appointed president of the European Parliament in January, told Die Welt.

“The so-called Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] seeks to embed terrorists with refugees,” he said. “They explain them that it’s now quite easy to carry out an attack in a European state using a knife or a car.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I personally think that 30 million number is too small.

Picture Of The Day

Iraqi rapid response members fire a missile against Islamic State militants during a battle with the militants in Mosul, Iraq March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily

WNU Editor: The above photo is from this photo gallery .... Iraqi forces battle toward landmark Mosul mosque (Reuters)

Poll: 42% Believe The U.S. Is Winning The 'War On Terror'

Military Times: Poll: 42 percent of Americans think the US is winning the 'war on terror'

The survey of 1,000 likely American voters, conducted between March 26-27, found that 42 percent of respondents believe that the U.S. and its allies are winning the global war on terrorism. Twenty percent said that terrorists have the upper hand, 31 percent said neither and 7 percent were unsure.

While that number is down from 45 percent during the week leading up to President Trump’s inauguration in January, confidence levels are still higher than they have been since January 2013 when they were also at 42 percent. The last time that confidence levels in the fight against terrorism reached 45 percent was December 2012. Rasmussen Reports has been conducting the survey multiple times per year since early 2005.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I definitely do not see us winning .... what I have been seeing consistently since 9/11 is a forever war.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Is There Now A Russia - China - U.S. Space Arms Race?

CNBC: Space arms race as Russia, China emerge as 'rapidly growing threats' to US

U.S. satellites may be vulnerable to attacks that could make our whole way of fighting war riskier, according to experts.

"Every major space-faring nation that can track a satellite and launch into outer space has the means to mess up a satellite," said Michael Krepon, a space security expert and co-founder of the Stimson Center think tank in Washington, D.C.

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces is scheduled Wednesday afternoon to hold a hearing looking at the role space-based capabilities play in emergencies and the threats to U.S. space systems.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I know the Russians are worried .... Top Russian military brass warns nearly all low-orbit satellites within reach of US missiles (TASS).

Poll: Most Americas Believe Traditional Media Are Publishing Fake News Reports

Politico: Poll: 6 in 10 Americans think traditional news outlets report fake news

A majority of Americans believe traditional media outlets publish fake news reports, and Republicans are more likely to believe that fake news is being pushed to advance an agenda, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

The poll, which was conducted by phone during the first week of March, found that 80 percent of respondents believed online news sources reported fake news either regularly or occasionally. Fifty-four percent of respondents, including a majority of Republicans, independents and Democrats, said that fake news reports online were published on purpose in order to advance a specific agenda.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As WNU commentator Andrew Jackson likes to always put it .... "Fake News!!!!" :)

Where Is President Obama?

Yes, this is a real photo, but it’s not on Tetiaroa. Barack Obama smiles as he looks out at Turtle Beach on a visit to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Midway Atoll, U.S., September 1, 2016. JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

Hufington Post: Obama Is Holed Up Writing His Book On The South Pacific Island Of Tetiaroa

Marlon Brando used to own it.

After a brief layover in Hawaii, former President Barack Obama is hanging out on a South Pacific island for a month to write his White House memoir, according to the Washington Post.

The island, called Tetiaroa, is an atoll located in a group of French Polynesian islands. Its closest neighbor is Tahiti, which is roughly 30 miles away. Not only is it super private and exclusive, it’s also gorgeous:

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am willing to bet that he is sleeping in everyday. As for the Secret Service agents who are guarding him .... they are working in paradise, and they must be the most envied in the Secret Service right now.

Russia-Gate News Updates -- March 29, 2017



Reuters: Russia probe should focus on Trump financial ties: senator

A U.S. Senate investigation into Russia's meddling during the U.S. election should include a thorough review of any financial ties between Russia and President Donald Trump and his associates, Democratic senator Ron Wyden said Wednesday.

In a formal written request made to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden said financial relationships between Trump, a real estate developer with properties around the world, and Russia are deserving of scrutiny because of resistance by Trump and some in his orbit have not been forthcoming about their finances.

"Efforts to understand these relationships and to separate fact from speculation have been hampered by the opacity of the finances of President Trump and his associates," Wyden, who also sits on the intelligence panel, wrote to Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This story is being conveniently ignored by many in the main stream media .... Former Obama official discloses rush to get intelligence on Trump team (FOX News).

Russia-Gate News Updates -- March 29, 2017

Two Russia probes churn on as House panel's investigation stalls -- USA Today
Sen. McCain Says Select Committee Must Be Formed to Probe Trump & Russia -- Fox News
Republicans rally around Nunes as Russia firestorm spreads -- Politico
Nunes tries to blame Democrats for troubled Russia probe -- Politico
NUNES: 'We're going to do an investigation with or without' cooperation from the Democrats -- Business Insider
Nunes Uproar Sidelines House Intel Panel, Puts Eye on Senate -- Caitlin Huey-Burns, RCP
How Obama's White House weaponized media against Trump -- Michael Doran, The Hill
Did the Trump Administration Really Try to Block Sally Yates From Testifying on Russia? -- Leon Neyfakh, Slate
These are the key names that keep coming up in the Trump-Russia investigation -- Business Insider
Who's who in Trump-Russia saga -- Zachary Cohen, CNN

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 29, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May in the cabinet, sitting below a painting of Britain's first Prime Minister Robert Walpole, signs the official letter to European Council President Donald Tusk invoking Article 50 and the United Kingdom's intention to leave the EU on March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Christopher Furlong/Pool

Peter Apps, Reuters: For Britain, the real work on Brexit starts now

On March 29 British Prime Minister Theresa May will begin Britain’s exit from the European Union by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

It will start a two-year process of departure – and for now, we know little about what that will look like. When its members signed the Treaty in December 2007, no one could imagine circumstances in which a nation would leave.

On one extreme, Britain could crash out of the EU without any deals on trade, migration or other substantive issues. Or it could agree to a “hard Brexit”, regaining the right to limit EU migration within its borders, but losing access to the single market.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 29, 2017

The divorce bill: What happens if Brexit's conscious uncoupling turns sour? -- Brigid Andersen and Barbara Miller, ABC News Online

Brexit Doesn't Have to Be a Disaster -- Clive Crook, Bloomberg

Staring Into Brexit's Abyss -- Linda Kinstler, The Atlantic

Article 50: What will be negotiated -- Al Jazeera

What happens now that Britain has triggered Article 50? -- The Economist

The Ukrainian Argument for Scottish Independence -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

The Real Threat to Israel: Hezbollah and Iran -- Moshe Arens, Haaretz

The battle for Raqqa explained -- Mariya Petkova, Al Jazeera

Arab Summit: 'Arabs lost confidence in their leaders' -- Zena Tahhan, Al Jazeera

Egypt’s Strongman Heads to Washington, Where He Can Expect a Warm Welcome -- Frederick Deknatel, WPR

Trump's North Korea Policy: Is It Different from Obama's? -- Jenny Lee, VOA

Can Park's potential leftist successor mend ties with North Korea? -- Julian Ryall, DW

How to Make a Deal With North Korea -- John Delurym, NYT

A year on, regal Suu Kyi struggles to move Myanmar on from conflict -- Simon Lewis and Antoni Slodkowski, Reuters

What a World Led By China Might Look Like -- Uri Friedland, The Atlantic

Is Russia America's Enemy? -- Brandon Valeriano, RCW

World News Briefs -- March 29, 2017 (Evening Edition)



BBC: 'No turning back' on Brexit as Article 50 triggered

Britain's departure from the EU is "an historic moment from which there can be no turning back", Theresa May has said.

She was speaking after Britain's EU ambassador formally triggered the two year exit process by handing a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk.

A sombre-looking Mr Tusk said it was not a "happy day" for him or the EU.

The European Parliament warned security cooperation was not on the table as it fired its opening salvo in what are expected to be tough negotiations.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi forces battle toward landmark Mosul mosque.

Engineers repair Syria's Tabqa dam spillways after shelling.

Syrian opposition, Russia discuss reinforcing ceasefire.

Raqqa residents trapped by militants ahead of assault.

Syria conflict: 'Deal reached' for four besieged towns.

Iranian president notes Tehran, Moscow enter new stage of cooperation.

Bahrain sentences 2 people to death on terror charges.

Jordan FM says Arab summit ends with 'message of peace'.

Arab leaders reaffirm support for Palestinian state amid unease over U.S. stance.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas meets Trump envoy at Arab summit.

Turkish court orders Booking.com to be blocked.

ASIA

Australia holds emergency meet with China after extradition treaty failure.

Mobs attack Africans in India after a local boy went missing.

Sri Lanka signals arrests over high-profile killings.

Cambodia's government increases pressure on opposition.

North Korea's nuclear test site active.

China coal imports from North Korea surge in February.

Japan's ruling party wants capability to attack enemy bases.

China, Japan island fight reignites with population push.

‘We are not safe here’: Afghan interpreters left behind by US troops cry for help (EXCLUSIVE).

Philippines, China to hold direct talks on sea row.

Duterte to US: Why didn't you send armada vs China islands?

Amnesty International calls for Fiji Times sedition charges to be dropped.

Australia begins 'war zone' cleanup after Cyclone Debbie. Cyclone Debbie: Experts fear damage to Great Barrier Reef.


AFRICA

Uganda hails surrender of senior LRA commander.

Over 60,000 S.Sudanese enter Sudan in three months: UN.

U.S. envoy says U.N. aiding 'corrupt' Congo government.

DR Congo protests turn violent after power-sharing talks collapse.

UN: Malaria outbreak kills over 4,000 in Burundi this year.

Calls for UN, Congo to investigate deaths of Swede, American.

Pilot killed in Libya fighter jet crash.

146 migrants feared missing after boat capsizes in Med: UN.

Egyptian president to visit Trump next week.

Somalia faces major cholera outbreak.

EUROPE

U.N. rights experts call on Russia to release protesters.

Poland shuts consulates in Ukraine after grenade attack.

Troubled Ukrainian anti-corruption drive hits software obstacle. Ukraine central bank offices searched in corruption probe.

Dozens rescued off Cyprus coast.

European parliament aims for general deal on future ties with Britain in two years.

'No turning back' on Brexit as Article 50 triggered.

Scottish Parliament votes to back bid for new independence referendum.

NATO, Russia ambassadors to meet to resolve differences.

US ambassador: Tillerson counting on meeting Putin soon.

Kosovo Albanians block roads to prevent Serb rally.

France's former Socialist PM Manuel Valls backs Macron in election.

Germany nabs Taliban fighter accused of killing U.S. soldiers.

London Stock Exchange-Deutsche Boerse deal blocked by EU.

AMERICAS

Trump faces skeptical Democrats as he eyes bipartisan deals.

Congress may stiff Trump on wall funding.


Shots fired near Capitol, suspect in custody: Police.

Russia probe should focus on Trump financial ties: senator.

Hillary Clinton criticises Trump in one of her first public speeches since US election defeat.

Lead US senators upbeat Congress will avoid shutdown, CR, but DoD taking no chances.

Brazil police hold top Rio lawmaker, seek court members in probe.

Venezuela's government hopes for international sanctions.

Second day of Mexican prison riot leaves two dead. Mexico prison riot leaves two inmates dead in Monterrey.

California is the top state with most UFO sightings, say UFO experts.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Terrorism risk from small domestic drones concerning: Official.

Four suspected al Qaeda members killed in Yemen drone strike: residents.

London attack a 'wake-up' call for tech firms to put house in order: police.

North Caucasian group highlights training in Syria.

In the fight against ISIS, Predators and Reapers prove close-air support bona-fides.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Bangladesh Bank heist was 'state-sponsored': U.S. official.

'Pink Star' diamond set to fetch record price in Hong Kong.

Toshiba's Westinghouse files for US bankruptcy.

Samsung aims to start 'new era' with Galaxy S8.

The Battle For The Iraqi City Of Mosul -- News Updates March 29, 2017



Reuters: Iraqi forces battle toward landmark Mosul mosque

Iraqi special forces and police fought Islamic State militants to edge closer to the al-Nuri mosque in western Mosul on Wednesday, tightening their control around the landmark site in the battle to recapture Iraq's second city.

The close-quarters fighting is focused on the Old City surrounding the mosque, where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate nearly three years ago across territory controlled by the group in both Iraq and Syria.

Thousands of residents have fled from IS-held areas inside Mosul, the militants' biggest remaining stronghold in Iraq. But tens of thousands more are still trapped inside homes, caught in the fighting, shelling and air strikes as Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition advance in the west.

Read more ....

The Battle For The Iraqi City Of Mosul -- News Updates March 29, 2017

Over 280 Iraqi security forces members killed in west Mosul: U.S. general -- Reuters
Nine Iraqi soldiers killed storming western Mosul district -- Iraqi News
Mosul battle: Iraqi forces edge closer to key mosque -- BBC
Battle for Mosul: Soldiers facing most brutal street fighting since WWII to defeat ISIS -- Express
Mosul civilian death toll rises as residents face threat on two fronts -- ABC News Online
US opens formal investigation into civilian deaths in Mosul -- AP
Probe into Mosul blast moves to formal investigation: U.S. general -- Reuters
US military opens investigation into Mosul airstrike -- ABC News
Inside Mosul, a huge blast, then screams, dust and horror -- Reuters
Iraqi government 'made a mistake' by attacking Mosul before capturing Isis sanctuaries -- The Independent

Russian And American Troops Are Within 'Hand-Grenade Range' Of Each Other In Syria

Recently US and Russian forces 'have converged literally within hand-grenade range of one another'. Pictured above, Russian soldiers gather as rebel fighters and their families evacuate the besieged Waer district in the central Syrian city of Homs, after an agreement reached between rebels and Syria's army

Daily Mail: Russian and American troops are within 'hand-grenade range' of each other in Syria as they overlap while fighting ISIS, warn US commanders

* Russian and US troops are working with Kurdish YPG fighters to combat ISIS
* A defense expert warns that 'escalation is bound to happen' between troops
* US Central Command said, however, that military commanders are working together to avoid accidental casualties and inadvertently striking one another
* Russia wants an 'alliance' with the US and to be 'recognized as an equal partner'
* During the first two weeks of March, the troops worked together to stop the Turkish army from entering Manbij, a town in the Aleppo region of Syria

Russian troops are within 'hand-grenade range' of American forces in parts of Syria, sparking fears of escalated tension in the region.

The two nations are working together with Kurdish YPG fighters in the country to combat ISIS in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Though the countries' commanders are in contact, the Pentagon stopped military-to-military cooperation following Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Recently the forces 'have converged literally within hand-grenade range of one another', warned Army Lt. Gen. Steven Townsend, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.

Read more ....

Update #1:
Russians Are Fighting Near Americans on Same Side of Syria’s Battlefield (NBC)
Update #2: Russians reportedly in ‘hand-grenade range’ of friendly US troops in Syria (New York Post)

WNU Editor: I thought we were all (cough cough) friends and allies in the war against the Islamic State?

Syria War News Updates -- March 29, 2017



Daily Mail: The city of human shields: 300,000 civilians trapped in ISIS 'capital' Raqqa forced to dress as militants and dig trenches so enemies cannot pick them apart from terrorists

* Landmines and checkpoints around the northern Syrian city prevent escape
* US-backed forces are bearing down on Raqqa, the capital of ISIS's caliphate
* Spies are living among the population, and two people have been executed for alleged collusion with outsiders
* Civilians are made to dress as ISIS militants so they cannot be distinguished

ISIS is using 300,000 civilians as human shields as enemy forces bear down on its capital in northern Syria.

Men living in Raqqa are being forced to wear the baggy pants and long shirts worn by the terror group, making it difficult to pick them apart from militants.

And landmines and checkpoints have been laid out around the city to prevent people from escaping.

Read more ....

Syria War News Updates -- March 29, 2017

IS holds terrified civilians as human shields in Syrian city -- AP
ISIS leaders’ families escape Raqqa -- Al Arabiya
US-Led Coalition Destroyed Four Bridges, Interrupting Transportation in Raqqa -- Sputnik
Syria fighters take control of IS-held airbase near Raqqa -- BBC
British volunteers preparing for 'bloodbath' fighting Isis in Raqqa as offensive on Syrian stronghold looms -- The Independent
British anti-Isis fighters 'trolling' terrorists as they advance on Syrian stronghold of Raqqa -- The Independent
US service member dies in Syria of natural causes -- AP
An American service member has died in Syria -- Military Times
Syrian army captures Islamic State village near Aleppo -- Reuters
Bus bombing kills five in Syria's Homs: SANA -- Reuters
Syria deal to evacuate Shi'ites and Sunnis from towns: source, Observatory -- Reuters
US-backed Forces to Resume Anti-IS Operations at Syrian Dam -- VOA
Syrian experts visit critical dam spillway near main IS base -- AP
Engineers set to to enter IS-held parts of Syria dam -- AFP
Engineers repair Syria's Tabqa dam spillways after shelling -- Reuters
Spillways functioning normally at Syrian dam: SDF media official -- Reuters
Monitoring groups say US behind deadly air strike on Syrian dam -- Financial Times
Russia criticizes US-led coalition over bombing of Syria dam -- AP
U.S. envoy to U.N.: Syria's Assad 'hindrance to moving forward' -- Reuters
Syrian opposition, Russia discuss reinforcing ceasefire -- Reuters
Russia's Lavrov: still possible to renew cooperation with U.S. in Syria -- Reuters