Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Editor's Note

Blogging will be light for the next few days. I have been invited to a private business event north of San Francisco that will last for four days. Flying out right now, and I will be back Monday night. I will blog when I can.

Update May 23 - 9:00 PST: Arrived late last night. I will be busy for the entire day, but I will be putting up some posts later this evening. On a side note. Northern California is truly beautiful.

Russian Media Is Reporting A Massive Milliant Attack On Their Forces In Syria

FILE PHOTO. Pantsir-S anti-aircraft system seen at Khmeimim airbase. © Sputnik / Dmitriy Vinogradov

RT: Missiles fired at Russian Khmeimim airbase in Syria amid massive militant offensive – MoD

Al-Nusra terrorists on Wednesday fired 17 missiles at Russian Khmeimim airbase in Syria, all of which were either intercepted or fell short. The attack came as the Syrian Army faced a mass militant offensive in the Idlib province.

Nine missiles were intercepted by the Khmeimim’s air defense, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, while eight others hit the ground before reaching the base. The attack, carried out with the use of multiple rocket launcher systems, originated from a terrorist held area in the Idlib province.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Militant attacks on Russia's Khmeimim airbase in Syria are now becoming routine. See here .... Russia’s Khmeimim airbase shelled by DOZENS of rockets, attack repelled – MOD (May 7, 2019), here .... Russian military repels 12 rockets fired in NEW attack on Khmeimim airbase in Syria – MOD (April 9, 2019), and here .... Russian Defense Ministry reports shelling of Khmeimim military base in Syria (May 20, 2019).

China Compares U.S. Foreign Policy To 'Don Quixote'

A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Reuters: China: U.S. resembles "Don Quixote" in seeing other powers as threats

GENEVA (Reuters) - China told the world’s main disarmament forum on Wednesday that U.S. foreign policy was destabilizing, baffling and redolent of Don Quixote, the Spanish fictional hero whose misplaced determination leads him on a series of doomed endeavors.

“The Cold War mentality has come back to drive the security strategy and policy of a major power,” China’s disarmament ambassador Li Song told the Conference on Disarmament, a long-stalemated arena for arms talks at the United Nations in Geneva.

“In particular the U.S. keeps saying other countries make it feel unsafe – this is truly baffling,” he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am impressed that someone in China ractually ead Miguel De Cervantes' 1500 page book "Don Quixote" to make such a claim. As to those who never read "Don Quixote", you can download a free ebook version from here (Miguel De Cervantes, "Don Quixote").

Is The U.S. Planning To Deploy Thousands Of More Soldiers To The Middle East?

CNN: Pentagon to brief on plan that could send thousands of additional US troops to Middle East

Pentagon officials are scheduled to brief senior members of President Donald Trump's national security team as soon as Thursday on a plan that could send thousands of additional US troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran, according to three US officials familiar with the effort.

The officials emphasize no decision about a deployment has been made. They also say all the troops might not be needed at once. Some could be sent quickly as a deterrence measure, others might only be sent if tensions rise to the point the US believes an attack is imminent.

It wasn't immediately clear who called for the meeting and it is not yet certain if Trump will attend, though his approval would be needed for such a significant deployment of troops.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like President Trump's national security team is looking at options. What's my take? Intelligence warnings on what Iran may do in response to sanctions. A coordinated attack on four ships in the Persian Gulf two weeks ago. The Yemen war escalating. Reported chemical attacks in Syria. I can see why the White house may want more U.S. forces in the region.

North Korean State Media Takes Aim At Democratic Presidential Hopeful Joe Biden



ABC News Online: Joe Biden in sights of North Korea after criticising Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un relationship

North Korean state media has slammed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden for criticising leader Kim Jong-un, calling him "bereft of elementary quality as a human being".

The criticism contrasts with North Korea's repeated references to the good relationship between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Mr Kim said in April his personal relationship with Mr Trump was still good despite the collapse of their second summit in Vietnam in February.

Taking aim at the President's strategy towards North Korea, Mr Biden asked crowds at a recent campaign rally: "Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Kim Jong-un?"

Read more ....

More News On North Korean State Media Taking Aim At Democratic Presidential Hopeful Joe Biden

North Korea calls Biden ‘fool of low IQ’ over Kim criticism -- AP
N. Korea state media hits out at 'imbecile' Biden -- AFP
North Korea is insulting Biden using Trump's terms such as 'low IQ' individual -- ABC News
North Korea calls Joe Biden a 'Philistine' in latest invective -- UPI
Joe Biden the subject of critical editorial published by North Korea's state-owned media agency -- FOX News
A 'fool of low IQ': North Korea derides US presidential candidate Joe Biden -- CNN
North Korea's Joe Biden 'imbecile' insult and what it tells us -- Helier Cheung, BBC

Turkey Given Two Weeks To Cancel It's S-400 Purchase From Russia

S-400 Triumph © Sergey Malgavko / Sputnik

CNBC: Turkey has until next month to cancel a messy multibillion-dollar Russian arms deal or face harsh US penalties

* Turkey has a little more than two weeks to decide whether to complete a complex arms deal with the U.S. or risk severe penalties by going through with an agreement to buy a missile system from Russia, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
* By the end of the first week of June, Turkey must cancel the Russian deal and buy Raytheon’s U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system or face removal from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, forfeiture of 100 promised F-35 jets, imposition of U.S. sanctions and potential blowback from NATO.
* The U.S. State Department’s current offer is the final one, according to multiple sources.

WASHINGTON — Turkey has a little more than two weeks to decide whether to complete a complex arms deal with the U.S. or risk severe penalties by going through with an agreement to buy a missile system from Russia, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

By the end of the first week of June, Turkey must cancel a multibillion-dollar deal with Russia and instead buy Raytheon’s U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system — or face removal from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, forfeiture of 100 promised F-35 jets, imposition of U.S. sanctions and potential blowback from NATO.

Read more ....

More News On Turkey Being Warned To Cancel Its S-400 Purchase From Russia

Turkey preparing for possible U.S. sanctions over S-400s: minister -- Reuters
Turkey sees improvement in F-35 talks with U.S. but prepares for sanctions -- Jerusalem Post
Turkey Preparing For U.S. Sanctions Over Russian Missile Deal -- RFE
Russia slams US ultimatum to Turkey over missile sale -- CNBC
US ultimatum to Turkey over S400-deal ‘unacceptable’ – Kremlin -- RT

U.S. Issues Warning To Syria On Chemical Weapons Use



CNBC/Reuters: US says there are signs Syria may be using chemical weapons, warns of quick response

* “Unfortunately, we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
* Ortagus said the alleged attack was part of a violent campaign by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces violating a ceasefire that has protected several million civilians in the greater Idlib area.
* U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has twice bombed Syria over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

The United States sees signs the Syrian government may be using chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack on Sunday in northwest Syria, the State Department said on Tuesday, warning that Washington and its allies would respond “quickly and appropriately” if this were proven.

“Unfortunately, we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19, ” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Issuing A Warning To Syria On Chemical Weapons Use

Trump administration warns Assad regime it is investigating 'signs' dictator used chemical weapons in Syria and says it WILL respond if he does -- Daily Mail
U.S. Says Assad May Be Using Chemical Weapons in Syria Again -- The New York Times
US investigating possible Assad chemical attack in Syria -- The Guardian
US warns Syrian regime following allegations of chemical weapons use -- CNN
US warns Syria over suspected chemical weapons attack -- DW
U.S. warns Assad against using chemical weapons -- UPI
US 'sees signs' Damascus 'may' have used chlorine in Idlib, threatens ‘quick & appropriate’ response -- RT

US intelligence officials directly contradict Trump, saying no evidence al-Qaeda cooperating with Iran



Time: Officials Dispute Mike Pompeo's Claim That Iran Is Collaborating With Al Qaeda

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claim that Iran and Al Qaeda are collaborating is at best an exaggeration that is not supported by any available information, U.S. intelligence officers and officials with the State and Defense Department tell TIME.

Pompeo made the claim about the terrorist organization during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month, at a time when tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen.

“There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda. Period. Full stop,” he said. “The factual question with respect to Iran’s connections to al Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al Qaeda. They have permitted al-Qaeda to transit their country.”

But U.S. officials say that he dramatically overstated the case.

Read more ....

Update #1: U.S. Intel to Congress: No Evidence al Qaeda Is Helping Iran (Daily Beast)
Update #2: US intelligence officials directly contradict Trump, saying no evidence al-Qaeda cooperating with Iran (The Independent)

WNU Editor: I guess these anonymous intelligence officials do not think that "an enemy of my enemy is my friend" is in play here.

Top U.S. Commander In Afghanistan: Al Qaeda Operating ‘Across’ The Country

Long War Journal: US commander confirms: al Qaeda operating ‘across’ Afghanistan

Al Qaeda is operating “across the country” and not confined to one region, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan confirmed.

General Austin Miller, the commander of Resolute Support Mission and US Forces – Afghanistan, confirmed several analyses by FDD’s Long War Journal, which has noted for years that al Qaeda’s footprint spans all regions of Afghanistan.

“We have seen al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yes, in different parts of Afghanistan,” Miller said, according to TOLONews. “In different parts of Afghanistan, we can find them, so it’s not one particular region, it’s across the country.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Al Qaeda and the Taliban have always been close allies, and al Qaeda has always had a certain degree of support in Afghanistan. This is nothing new.

World News Briefs -- May 22, 2019



The Guardian: May faces crunch meeting as support for Brexit deal slips away

Scottish secretary said to be concerned by PM’s promise of a vote on second referendum

The Scottish secretary, David Mundell, has demanded a meeting with Theresa May on Wednesday afternoon, amid concerns that cabinet support for her “new Brexit deal” is falling away.

Mundell, who does not have a reputation as a cabinet rebel, was said by allies to have been irked by the prime minister’s promise of a vote on a second referendum.

May repeated on Wednesday in the House of Commons that she was not supporting a referendum, merely allowing MPs to vote on one during the passage of the Brexit bill.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

US says there are signs Syria may be using chemical weapons, warns of quick response. US investigating possible Assad chemical attack in Syria.

Missiles fired at Russian Khmeimim airbase in Syria amid massive militant offensive – MoD.

Syria regime-jihadist clashes kill 44: monitor.

Iranian lawmaker says his country doesn’t want war with US.

Bill to stop Netanyahu corruption indictment reaches Knesset.

Saudi Arabia, UAE will participate in peace plan workshop.

Saudi Arabia to execute three scholars after Ramadan: Report.

ASIA

Prabowo Subianto's loss in Indonesia's election sparks deadly protests in Jakarta. 6 dead, 200 injured in Indonesia election protests.

Indian soldier killed, 7 wounded in explosion near India-Pakistan border.

India set to count votes after marathon general elections.

North Korea says "biggest issue" in U.S. ties is impounded ship.

North Korea calls Joe Biden a 'Philistine' in latest invective.

Philippines: President Duterte's allies dominate Senate race.

Philippines' Duterte orders rubbish sent back to Canada.

AFRICA

Economic warfare plays out as Libyans battle for capital.

Violent clashes rage south of Libya's Tripoli.

Suicide car bomb kills at least 9 in Somalia’s capital.

Egypt says security forces kill 16 militants in Sinai.

Zimbabwe increases fuel prices as economic crisis deepens.

Gabon President Ali Bongo sacks vice president, forestry minister.

Dreams of Comoros oil boom hang on seismic survey.

EUROPE

Resignation calls grow as UK PM May's final Brexit gambit bombs.

Theresa May under pressure to resign over latest Brexit plan.

Europe holds "most important" EU vote.

Divided Britain heads to the polls for EU elections it was not meant to hold.

Austria's Kurz appoints technocrats after FPÖ leaves cabinet.

Poland’s Kaczynski says Le Pen’s party ‘linked to Moscow’.

British Steel collapses but will trade in administration.

AMERICAS

Pelosi tries to tamp down impeachment fervor among Democrats.

Justice Department to turn over some Mueller documents. House panel, Justice Dept end standoff over Mueller documents.

Donald Trump hosts Pacific leaders in historic White House meeting amid US-China tensions.

Mnuchin says more U.S. tariffs on China at least a month away.

Russian bombers, fighters intercepted off Alaska: US military.

Argentina: Fernández in court for first corruption trial.

Canada lawmakers in China to press for detainees' release.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh to be released.

Officials dispute Mike Pompeo's claim that Iran is collaborating with Al Qaeda.

US commander confirms: al Qaeda operating ‘across’ Afghanistan.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

UK, Japan mobile operators suspend Huawei 5G phone launches.

China's big three airlines seek 737 MAX payouts from Boeing: reports.

Tariffs prompt US firms to rethink China business: survey.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 22, 2019

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
Iran's influence with jihadist militias stretches across the Middle East and their domestic weapons capabilities pose a constant threat to US allies in the Persian Gulf

Daily Mail: How Iran can strike US targets in the Middle East: Missiles, sea mines, drones and battle-hardened jihadist militias stand ready throughout the region amid mounting tensions

* Iran can fire missiles at US warships, as well as deploy sea mines and submarine drones in the Persian Gulf
* Tehran can also call on thousands of battle-hardened jihadists in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan
* Their weapons at home and those with which they have armed the jihadists can devastate US targets
* US warships have sailed to the Gulf amid mounting tensions with Tehran over Washington's trade sanctions

Iran could deploy missiles, sea mines, drones and thousands of battle-hardened jihadist militias across the Middle East if Tehran's increased tensions with Washington descend into war.

Iranian sea mines pose a constant threat in the Gulf, while their missiles are capable of striking US warships and raining down chaos in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Across the blood-soaked deserts they have battle-hardened jihadists ready for war with American troops in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 22, 2019

Iran's reach puts U.S. forces, allies in striking range -- Reuters

Trump officials say US efforts to deter Iran have worked -- The Hill

US Aircraft Carrier Group, Marine Expeditionary Unit Drill in Arabian Sea -- Sputnik

Pentagon reporters left in dark as Iran tensions escalate -- The Hill

Ex-NATO commander: US in 'dangerous place' with Iran -- The Hill

Congress cuts F-35 spare parts request amid supply problems -- UPI

Boeing Wins $164M Modification Deal to Upgrade F/A-18 Jets -- Yahoo finance

Trump taps Barbara Barrett, former Aerospace Corporation chairwoman, as next Air Force secretary -- Air Force Times

House Appropriators Take Aim at Some of the Pentagon’s Most Ambitious Tech Ideas -- Defense One

Democrats’ Pentagon budget bill would curb Trump’s war powers -- Defense News

Lawmakers bristle at new rules for sharing Pentagon information with Congress -- The Washington Post

House appropriators to Pentagon: Figure out an alternative to Space Force -- Defense News

Why Is the Pentagon Interested in UFOs? -- Iain Boyd, Space.com

US troops, nonprofit trainers and a 'Lightning Brigade’ battle for Somalia -- Military Times

'I hate this PC Navy': Old salts dismayed by downfall of master chief over Pence 'strip club' quip -- Washington Examiner

Here’s how the Army is more ‘survivable’ in a war in the Pacific than air and naval forces -- Army Times

Russian warplanes intercepted off Alaska for 2nd day in a row -- CBS

US agrees to sell $600M in air-defense missiles to Japan and S. Korea -- Stars and Stripes

Angela Merkel inspects NATO troops in Germany -- DW

WATCH Bulgarian Defence Minister Wearing MiG-29 T-shirt Speak About US F-16 -- Sputnik

Turkish Troops Learning in Russia to Operate S-400 Despite US Threats - Minister -- Sputnik

US ultimatum unlikely to change Turkey’s position on S-400 deal, says Russian lawmaker -- TASS

Delivery of Russia's First Yasen-M Attack Submarine Pushed to 2020 -- The Diplomat

No More Aircraft Carrier for Russia? It Might Not Be a Bad Idea. -- David Axe, National Interest

Chinese military starts inspecting 2nd regiment set of S-400 systems for China’s army -- TASS

China to send defence minister to Singapore security conference as tensions with US rise -- SCMP

Long time coming: China’s defense minister to speak at Shangri-la Dialogue -- Defense News

India Test Fires Air Launched Version of BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile -- Sputnik

How Yemen’s rebels increasingly deploy drones -- Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

Russia Is Rearming Its Light-Medium Armored Vehicles With 57mm Caliber Guns

© Ladislav Karpov/TASS

TASS: New 57mm caliber to help Russia’s armor securely strike foreign armored vehicles — expert

The 57mm munitions also boost the possibilities of fighting enemy air targets and manpower, the expert said

MOSCOW, May 21. /TASS/. Russia’s military hardware armed with 57mm caliber guns will securely strike modern and future foreign light-and medium-armored vehicles, Editor-in-Chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland journal Viktor Murakhovsky told TASS on Tuesday.

The 57mm munitions also boost the possibilities of fighting enemy air targets and manpower, he added.

Deputy CEO of the Russian engineering firm Tecmash (part of the state hi-tech corporation Rostec) Alexander Kochkin told TASS earlier on Tuesday that Russia was considering rearming light-and medium-armored vehicles from their basic 30mm caliber to 57mm guns.

"Proceeding from the ballistic capabilities of these [57mm] munitions, especially their new types, they will securely pierce the front armor of foreign light-and medium armored vehicles at effective fire ranges," Murakhovsky said.

Read more ....

Update: Russia’s top brass considers switching armor to 57mm caliber firepower (TASS)

WNU Editor: This is an admission that the basic 30mm caliber used by the Russian military is no longer effective against advanced foreign armoured vehicles.

Could Turkey Take Down The F-35 Program?

F-35

Michael Peck, National Interest: Could One of America's Allies Take Down the F-35 Program?

What does America need to save its troubled F-35 stealth fighter?

Turkey, that’s what.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan recently warned that the multinational F-35 program, of which Turkey is a member, would fail if Turkey were excluded. Turkey is facing sanctions, including being dropped from the F-35 program if it goes ahead with purchasing Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, which has raised Washington’s fears that F-35 secrets might be leaked to Russia. The U.S. has stopped shipping equipment to Turkey for that nation’s planned purchase of 100 F-35s, while the first two aircraft officially delivered to Turkey are still in the United States.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Turkey .... when given the choice by the U.S. and NATO .... made the decision that Russia's S-400 anti-missile/aircraft platform is more important to their national security needs than the F-35. And while I can understand Turkey's position that they should be the ones to decide on what military systems they should buy, being in an alliance means making group decisions over an individual one. As for the decision to ban Turkey from buying the F-35 fighter jet .... it is going to cause production delays and it will increase the overall jet's cost. But this is all temporary. Alternative suppliers will be found, and the production of the fighter jet will recover. The big loser will be Turkey. Manufacturers do not want to invest and build a plant in a country or engage with a country's  manufacturers that may face future restrictions and bans. Bottom line. Turkey is going to regret this decision years from now.

Will This Laser System Be Able To Knock-Out Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles From The Sky?


Futurism: Raytheon Says Laser Weapon Will Blast Nuclear Missiles From Sky

Military technology company Raytheon is teasing plans to build a powerful laser weapon capable of shooting down hypersonic nuclear missiles.

A hypersonic missile is able to strike at several times the speed of sound. That’s too fast for conventional anti-missile technology, but on Monday Raytheon tweeted out an animated video showing a futuristic laser zapping hypersonic missiles out of the sky.

Read more ....

Update: Raytheon discloses future lasers that can stop hypersonic missiles (Defense Blog)

WNU Editor: The problem has always been the same. Producing enough power on the ground so that a laser that can knock out a target from a far distance. Then you need the means to track and target your laser to do so. As long as that is not possible, such a system is more science-fiction than reality.

Indonesia Rocked By Post-Election Violence





BBC: Indonesia post-election protests leave six dead in Jakarta

Six people have been killed and 200 injured during mass rallies in Jakarta against the re-election of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Indonesian police confirmed the death toll based on reports from hospitals. They said the cause of the deaths was being investigated.

The national police chief has denied his officers used live ammunition.

Social media has been restricted in some areas to stop rumours spreading.

"Some had gunshot wounds, some had blunt force wounds but we still need to clarify this," national police chief Tito Karnavian said, referring to the six dead, who are believed to have been killed overnight.

Read more ....

More News On Post-Election Violence In Indonesia

Six die, protests swell as Indonesia plunges into post-election unrest -- Reuters
Protesters clash with Indonesian police after election loss -- FOX News/AP
Six dead, 200 injured in protests over Indonesia's election result -- CNN
Protests Over Indonesia's Election Results Have Turned Deadly -- Time

U.S. Air Force Rushing to Prepare Facilities To House Its B-21 Fleet


Warzone/The Drive: Major Expansion Underway At Edwards AFB Ahead Of B-21 Raider's Arrival

A big burst of construction has taken place since the New Year at Edwards AFB's South Base facility where the B-21 is slated to begin testing soon.

The B-21 Raider is coming to Edwards Air Force Base, when exactly remains unknown, but recent satellite imagery shows a number of new structures have been built over the last eight months at the historic installation's South Base facility. This is where the B-21 program, and potentially others that are part of a family of next-generation systems related to it, are set to be tested in the coming years.

This was the case as far back as 2011. During a visit to Edwards AFB at that time, I noticed the B-1B and B-52H bomber contingent had been relocated to the base's main apron after calling South Base home for decades. This move was done to accommodate classified programs including the B-21. The B-2 test contingent at the base will presumably continue its life-long tenancy at South Base, as well.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is also a push to build more bombers than originally planned .... The Air Force Needs 20 B-2 Bombers, 75 B-52 and 288 B-21 Stealth Bombers (National Interest).

U.S. Air Force F-22s Intercept Four Russian Bombers Near Alaska


FOX News: Russian 'bear' bombers intercepted near Alaska for second time in two days

Russian “Bear” bombers flew near Alaska under fighter escort for the second time in two days.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said that it had to scramble two pair of U.S. F-22 fighter jets to intercept the Russian formation on Tuesday.

“The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time entered U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace,” NORAD said in a statement posted on social media.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Air Force F-22s Intercepting Four Russian Bombers Near Alaska

F-22 stealth fighters intercept Russian strategic bombers probing US air defenses near Alaskan airspace -- Daily Mail
F-22s intercept Russian fighters, bombers off Alaska -- Air Force Times
US intercepts Russian bombers, fighter jets off the coast of Alaska -- CNN
US Military: Russian Bombers, Fighters Intercepted off Alaska -- VOA/AFP
US F-22 stealth fighters intercepted 4 Russian bombers testing US air defenses near Alaska -- Business Insider
Four Russian Tu-95MS strategic bombers perform observation flight over Alaska coast -- TASS

U.S. Considering Banning Top Chinese Surveillance CCTV Manufacturers Hikvision, Dahua, And Others

Surveillance cameras in front of the giant portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in September 2009. China is increasingly monitoring on citizens' behavior. Jason Lee/Reuters

Reuters: After Huawei, U.S. could blacklist Chinese surveillance tech firm: media

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The U.S. administration is considering Huawei-like sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision, media reports show, deepening worries that trade friction between the world’s top two economies could be further inflamed.

The restrictions would limit Hikvision's ability to buy U.S. technology and American companies may have to obtain government approval to supply components to the Chinese firm, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: To the Chinese this is a multi-billion industry when it comes to the U.S.. This is going to hurt. On a personal note, I have used Hikivision cameras, it is an excellent product when it comes to quality and price.

More News On The U.S. Banning Top Chinese Surveillance CCTV Manufacturers

Trump Administration Could Blacklist China’s Hikvision, a Surveillance Firm -- The New York Times
U.S. Weighs Blacklisting Up to Five Chinese Surveillance Firms -- Bloomberg
US 'could blacklist' Chinese surveillance kit firm Hikvision -- The Guardian
Xinjiang: U.S. May Blacklist China's Largest Surveillance Technology Companies (Updated) -- Forbes
Top Chinese CCTV manufacturers Hikvision & Dahua named as next US blacklist targets – reports -- RT

Tweets For Today











Canada Sends A Delegation To China To Press The Release Of Its Citizens



Reuters: Canada sends delegation to China to press for release of citizens

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has sent a parliamentary delegation to China to press for the release of two Canadian citizens formally arrested for espionage last week, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday.

Businessman Michael Spavor, who worked with North Korea, and former diplomat Michael Kovrig were picked up separately in December, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition to the United States.

Canada has condemned the detentions as “arbitrary”, while China has repeatedly demanded Meng be released. Freeland, in an interview with CBC radio, said she sought “repeatedly” to speak with her Chinese counterpart, but to no avail.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a low level Canadian delegation. The Chinese are not going to take it seriously. So why send them in the first place? It is all for show. As to what do the Chinese want? They want  Canada to immediately release Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

Picture Of The Day

A student supports her fellow plebes (freshmen) as they build a human pyramid to climb the 21-foot vegetable-shortening covered Herndon Monument at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The midshipman who makes it to the top replaces the 'dixie cup' hat with a midshipman's hat, marking their class ascent to upperclassmen. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WNU Editor: The above picture is form this photo-gallery .... Editor's Choice Pictures (Reuters).

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's New Brexit Deal Has Been Roundly Rejected By MPs Of All Parties



Daily Mail: 'I will not vote for it': Boris leads criticism as Tories AND Labour slam May's desperate 'dog's breakfast' plan to get MPs to back her Brexit Bill by offering them a second referendum and 'temporary' customs union

* Cabinet has signed off on Theresa May's plan to bring forward new Brexit Bill
* But PM had to water down concessions on referendum after mutiny by ministers
* Ministers threatened to quit if Mrs May allowed a free vote on the referendum
* Her chances of getting the deal through are fading as Tories voice opposition
* Fears legislation could suffer heavier defeat next month than her deal in March
* Cabinet is openly rowing about whether to leave the EU with No Deal in October

Theresa May's Brexit deal was hanging by a thread last night as furious Tory MPs savaged her decision to open the door to a second referendum.

In a dramatic gamble, the Prime Minister offered MPs a binding vote on a second EU poll – if they backed her withdrawal deal at the fourth attempt next month.

Mrs May pleaded with Parliament to finally approve her plan so Britain could avoid 'a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics'.

Desperate to win over Labour MPs, she also suggested the agreement could be amended to include a temporary customs union. The move followed a fractious three-hour Cabinet meeting, in which at least two ministers are said to have hinted they might resign in protest at the concessions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What a mess. After three years where the British public made it very clear in a referendum that they wanted to leave the EU, Prime Minister May is now offering another referendum. She is toast. The question that now remains to be answered is .... when will she leave?

More News On Theresa May's Brexit Deal Being Roundly Rejected

Seeking Brexit support, May offers vote on new referendum -- AP
May tries to break Brexit deadlock with offer of 'new deal' -- Reuters
Britain's Theresa May offers 'new deal' and possible second referendum to try to break Brexit deadlock -- ABC News Online
Theresa May offers UK lawmakers a vote on second Brexit referendum — if they approve her deal -- CNBC
Theresa May offers vote on second referendum if lawmakers back 'new Brexit deal' -- CNN
May offers 'confirmatory referendum' on her Brexit deal -- Al Jazeera
Theresa May offers vote on second referendum if MPs back ‘new’ Brexit deal -- RT
May’s final effort to win backing falls flat as MPs reject ‘new' Brexit deal -- The Guardian
Brexit: PM under fire over new Brexit plan -- BBC
'Convoluted mess': Tory support for May's Brexit deal drains away -- The Guardian
'Desperate, deluded, doomed': what the papers say on May's new Brexit deal -- The Guardian

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Is A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier The Safest Place To Be In A War?

Top to bottom: USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) alongside Nimitz class carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) & USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). Pinterest

Loren Thompson, Forbes: Ten Reasons A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Is One Of The Safest Places To Be In A War

Large-deck, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are the signature expression of American military power. They enable U.S. warfighters to sustain devastating air attacks against hostile forces on land or at sea for months at a time, precisely hitting hundreds of targets each day. And unlike some other combat systems, they don’t need access to bases ashore to accomplish their missions.

The fearsome power of America’s aircraft carriers makes them a potent tool for deterring aggressors without needing to rely on nuclear weapons. However, it is a common refrain among military analysts that our carriers are becoming vulnerable as long-range, anti-ship missiles proliferate around the world. For instance, Sydney Freedberg of Breaking Defense—one of the most respected journalists covering the military—observed in a March 12 budget analysis that “Beijing’s growing arsenal of precision-guided missiles seems increasingly able to find and cripple a thousand-foot-long flattop.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor:Hmmmm .... I am not sure about a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier being one of the safest places to be in a war. It looks like a big and high priority target to me.

Did The U.S. Navy Launch A cyber Attack On The U.S. Air Force

U.S. soldiers on “virtual missions” (IMAGE – U.S. Army)

Military Times: Why the Air Force is investigating a cyber attack from the Navy

The Air Force is investigating the Navy for a cyber intrusion into its network, according to a memo obtained by Military Times.

The bizarre turn of events stems from a decision by a Navy prosecutor to embed hidden tracking software into emails sent to defense attorneys, including one Air Force lawyer, involved in a high-profile war-crimes case of a Navy SEAL in San Diego.

The tracking device was an attempt to find out who was leaking information to the editor of Navy Times, a sister publication. A similar tracking device was also sent to Carl Prine, the Navy Times editor, who has written numerous stories about the case.

Navy Capt. David Wilson, chief of staff for the Navy’s Defense Service Offices, wrote in the May 19 memo that an Air Force attorney was among the defense lawyers who had received emails with the hidden tracking software, which he described as “malware.”

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WNU Editor: Quoting Pogo. "We have fond the enemy, and it is us".

Is The Risk Of Nuclear War Now The Highest Since WW2?

Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-14 is pictured during its second test-fire in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on July 29, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

Reuters: Risk of nuclear war now highest since WW2, U.N. arms research chief says

GENEVA (Reuters) - The risk of nuclear weapons being used is at its highest since World War Two, a senior U.N. security expert said on Tuesday, calling it an “urgent” issue that the world should take more seriously.

Renata Dwan, director of the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), said all states with nuclear weapons have nuclear modernization programs underway and the arms control landscape is changing, partly due to strategic competition between China and the United States.

Traditional arms control arrangements are also being eroded by the emergence of new types of war, with increasing prevalence of armed groups and private sector forces and new technologies that blurred the line between offence and defense, she told reporters in Geneva.

With disarmament talks stalemated for the past two decades, 122 countries have signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, partly out of frustration and partly out of a recognition of the risks, she said.

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WNU Editor: Being one who lived through the Cold War, today's risk of a nuclear war do not come even close to what was the situation at that time. So no .... risk of nuclear war now is not the highest since WW2.

Poll: Half Of American Adults Expect War With Iran 'Within Next Few Years'



Reuters: Half of American adults expect war with Iran 'within next few years': Reuters/Ipsos poll

Half of all Americans believe that the United States will go to war with Iran “within the next few years,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released on Tuesday amid increased tensions between the two countries.

While Americans are more concerned about Iran as a security threat to the United States now than they were last year, few would be in favor of a pre-emptive attack on the Iranian military. But if Iran attacked U.S. military forces first, four out of five believed the United States should respond militarily in a full or limited way, the May 17-20 poll showed.

Historically tense relations between Washington and Tehran worsened in May after U.S. President Donald Trump hardened his anti-Iran stance and restored all sanctions on Iranian oil exports following his decision a year ago to pull the United States out of a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran.

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Update: US Americans believe war with Iran is coming: poll (DW)

WNU Editor: It is not going to happen.

World News Briefs -- May 21, 2019 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: May tries to break Brexit deadlock with offer of 'new deal'

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May set out a “new deal” on Tuesday for Britain’s departure from the European Union, offering sweeteners to parliament including the chance to vote on whether to hold a second referendum to try to break the impasse over Brexit.

Three years after Britain voted to leave the EU and almost two months after the planned departure date, May is mounting a last effort to try to get the deeply divided parliament’s backing for a divorce deal and leave office with some kind of legacy.

The odds do not look good.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Pompeo says 'quite possible' Iran behind Gulf incidents.

Iran warns of 'painful consequences' if US escalates tensions.

Iran hits back at Trump for tweeting 'genocidal taunts'.

Iran urges UN to launch talks over 'alarming' Gulf tensions.

Iranian production of enriched uranium quadruples: reports.

Iraqi Shiite figures warn US-Iran war could ‘burn’ Iraq.

Iran's basic goods prices double as fall of rial continues.

US Congress asks Donald Trump not to withdraw from Syria.

Yemen: Houthi drone 'hits Saudi arms depot'.

Bomb-laden drone from Yemen rebels targets Saudi airport.

ASIA

North Korea warns U.S. over seized ship at rare U.N. news conference.

Local MP, at least 10 others, killed in NE India.

Singapore's economy slows to decade low as trade war bites.

Election results see Scott Morrison reach 76 seats to win majority government in Australia.

China highlights Korean War in TV shows amid trade tensions.

Thousands of North Korean women are being forced into sexual slavery in China, rights group says.

North Korea, Russia officials to meet in Moscow.

South Korea, U.S. consider 'various ways' to resume talks with N. Korea.

In Sri Lanka, Muslims say Sinhala neighbours turned against them.

Philippine youth losing faith in political system.

U.N. study: Corruption still a problem in reformed Afghanistan.

Looming collapse of fisheries in the South China Sea?

AFRICA

UN envoy warns of 'long and bloody war' in Libya.

Water supply restored for millions in Libya, averting crisis. Water supply restored to besieged Libyan capital Tripoli.

Malawi votes in tight election as Mutharika seeks second term.

Sudan protesters plan general strike as talks falter.

Sudan agents prevent arrest of former spy chief.

Angola to re-bury body of rebel chief Savimbi.

Raw ivory sales: Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia call for end to ban.

Egypt raises electricity prices to spur economic recovery.

EUROPE

Seeking Brexit support, May offers vote on new referendum.

Ukraine’s president calls new parliamentary election.

Official: Poland entitled to seek German WWII reparations.

Austria's Sebastian Kurz faces no-confidence vote in wake of Ibiza scandal.

UK's 'Mr. Brexit' Nigel Farage eyes EU election success.

Catalan jailed MPs attend Spain parliament opening.

Russian police arrest Navalny ally Leonid Volkov over protest rally.

Watchdog: 10,000 Russians dying annually from HIV.

Sweden requests Julian Assange's detention over rape allegation.

AMERICAS

Don McGahn defies subpoena as Trump clash with Congress intensifies.

Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress.

Donald Trump's former aide will not testify before Congress after White House warning.

After economy, Venezuela's waste collection system collapses.

Maduro proposes early elections for opposition-run congress.

Venezuela's ambassador to Italy resigns, blaming government's lack of money.

Argentina ex-President Christina Kirchner faces corruption trial.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Senators ask Trump administration why the ‘American Taliban’ is getting out of prison early.

Islamic State group emerges as a political force in western Africa.

IS militants blamed for prison riot that killed at least 32. Tajikistan prison riot kills prominent opposition members.

Christchurch mosque shooter faces terrorism charge.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall St. rises as Huawei reprieve boosts tech shares.

US issues Huawei a temporary reprieve.

These are the areas around the world where Google's breakup with Huawei will likely be felt the most.

Xi Jinping may have showed how he plans to cripple US tech and defense giants in the trade war with a visit to a Chinese magnet factory.

US-China trade war: Huawei's loss is Samsung's gain.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 21, 2019



Philip Oltermann, The Guardian: Austria's 'Ibiza scandal': what happened and why does it matter?

Deputy chancellor and head of far-right party has resigned after video sting operation

What happened in Austria over the weekend?

On Friday night, two German media outlets published a video that shows the Austrian deputy chancellor and leader of the far-right Freedom party (FPÖ), Heinz-Christian Strache, talking to an unidentified woman purporting to be the niece of a Russian oligarch at a luxury resort in Ibiza. When the woman expresses an interest in gaining control of the country’s largest-circulation tabloid, Kronen Zeitung, Strache suggests he could offer lucrative public contracts in exchange for campaign support.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 21, 2019

Austrian government on verge of collapse as EU election looms -- DW

The U.S. Is Outplaying Iran in a Regional Chess Match -- Seth Frantzman, National Review

Iran Bluster Is about Red Lines, Not War -- Michael Rubin, National Interest

Iraq caught in the middle of US-Iran face-off -- AFP

Hunting Bashar Assad's henchmen in Syria -- Frank Hofmann, DW

Exit polls predict smooth victory for Narendra Modi -- Aritry Das, Asia Times

Indonesia election: What will the next five years of Joko Widodo look like? -- Max Walden, ABC News Online

Indonesia election: What will the next five years of Joko Widodo look like? -- Max Walden, ABC News Online

How Baloch Separatists Are Trying to Derail China’s Investments in Pakistan -- Adnan Aamir, WPR

Is Sri Lanka Really a Victim of China’s ‘Debt Trap’? -- Umesh Moramudali, The Diplomat

How should the world respond to North Korean hunger? -- Bradley K. Martin, Asia Times

Hifter’s rule brings security to eastern Libya, at a cost -- Rami Musa and Joseph Krauss, AP

Theresa May makes concession on second Brexit referendum -- Tom McTague and Annabelle Dickson, Politico

Corruption and Populism Are the West's Weaknesses, Not Moscow’s Invention -- Mark Galeotti, The Moscow Times

China's Offensive on Canada, in Plain Sight -- Terry Glavin, Maclean's

U.S. Defense Chief: Iranian Threats 'Put On Hold'



RFE: Pentagon Chief Says Iranian Threats 'Put On Hold'

The United States' response to alleged Iranian threats has “put on hold” potential attacks by Iran, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has said.

"I think our steps were very prudent and we've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans and that is what is extremely important,” Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon on May 21.

He added that "the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians."

Later in the day, Shanahan, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, are set to brief U.S. lawmakers on Iran.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What threats is he talking about? They have still not clarified the original warnings/threats that started this crisis.

More News On U.S. Defense Chief Claiming That Iranian Threats Have Been 'Put On Hold'

Pentagon chief: Threat from Iran 'on hold' -- The Hill
Shanahan: Iranian threats 'on hold' thanks to U.S. actions -- Politico
Patrick Shanahan: Iranian threats against America ‘on hold’ -- Washington Examiner
Iranian threats 'put on hold', says US defence chief -- BBC
Iran 'threat' has diminished, says US defense secretary -- The Guardian
Iran Threat Has Been Put ‘On Hold,’ Acting Defense Chief Says -- The Wall Street Journal
Trump's Pentagon is patting itself on the back for putting a 'hold' on unexplained Iran threat -- Business Insider

Iran's Economy Continues To Plunge




FOX News: Iran's economy is sucking wind

Tensions are escalating between the United States Opens a New Window. and Iran – and its economy is buckling even further after the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and reinstated sanctions.

Over the weekend President Trump lashed out at Iran after a rocket landed less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone Opens a New Window. , the first such attack since September as reported by Fox News. An Iraqi military spokesman told reporters the rocket appeared to have been fired from east Baghdad, which is home to several Iran-backed Shiite militias.

Read more ....

Update #1: In Iran, a plunging economy trumps fears of US confrontation (ABC News/AP)
Update #2: Trump Readies a New War on Iran’s Economy (Erin Banco and Asawin Suebsaeng, Daily Beast)

WNU Editor: The Iranian President wants more powers .... Iran’s Rouhani Seeks More Powers Amid U.S. ‘Economic War’ (Bloomberg).