Saturday, December 7, 2019

North Korea Says It Has Conducted A 'Very Important Test' At It's Sohae Satellite Launch Site

State media KCNA reported that a 'significant' test was carried out on Sunday, local time, at its Sohae satellite launch site, but did not specify what was tested at the site previously used to launch rockets into space.

Daily Mail: North Korea carries out 'very significant' test at satellite launch site a day after it said denuclearization talks with the U.S. were off the negotiating table

  * The test was carried out at North Korea's Sohae satellite launch site
  * State media KCNA did not specify what was tested, but said the results would 'be used for upgrading the country's strategic status'
  * Missile experts said the operation was likely a static test of a rocket engine
  * It comes after talks between U.S. and North Korea stalled, with the country's UN ambassador saying that denuclearization talks were off 'the table'

North Korea has carried out a 'very significant' test at its Sohae satellite launch site hours after it announced denuclearization talks with the U.S. were off the negotiating table.

State media KCNA reported that the test was carried out on Sunday, local time, but did not specify what was tested at the site previously used to launch rockets into space.

However, local media reports say a new satellite image indicated North Korea may be preparing to resume testing engines used to power satellite launchers at the site.

Analysts have said the site has never before been used to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile, but it has been used to test missile engines. Past satellite launches have helped scuttle talks with the United States.

Read more ....

More News On North Korea Saying It Has Conducted A 'Very Important Test' At Its Sohae Satellite Launch Site

North Korea carries out 'very important test' -- BBC
North Korea carries out 'very important' test at once-dismantled launch site: KCNA -- Reuters
North Korea conducts 'very important test': KCNA -- AFP
North Korea Says It Carried Out ‘Very Important Test’ at Missile-Engine Site -- The New York Times
North Korea says it has carried out a ‘very important test’ at its long-range rocket launch site -- Washington Post

North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Says Denuclearization Is Off The Table In Talks With The U.S.



DW: North Korea says denuclearization off the table in US talks

North Korea does not need "lengthy talks" with the US and denuclearization is "already gone out of the negotiating table," Pyongyang's UN envoy said. "We'll see," responded US President Donald Trump.

The talks between Pyongyang and Washington are merely a "time-saving trick" for the US administration to advance its "domestic political agenda," the North Korean ambassador to the UN said on Friday, apparently referencing the 2020 election campaign.

"We do not need to have lengthy talks with the US now and denuclearization is already gone out of the negotiating table," ambassador Kim Song said.

Song also slammed the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Estonia in his statement, after those countries condemned Pyongyang's repeated ballistic tests.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: President Trump and South Korea Moon know that they have a problem .... Trump, Moon discuss ‘grave’ Korea tensions in Saturday phone call (NYPost).

More News On North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Saying Denuclearization Is Off The Table In Talks With The U.S.

North Korea says denuclearization not on negotiating table -- ABC News/AP
North Korea's U.N. envoy says denuclearization off negotiating table with United States -- Reuters
North Korea says denuclearization off the table in US talks -- The Guardian
North Korea says denuclearization is off the table in talks with US -- France 24
North Korea says denuclearization is now OFF 'negotiation table' with US - and accuses Trump of using talks as ‘time-saving trick’ to help his reelection bid -- Daily Mail
North Korea's UN ambassador says denuclearization is off the table in talks with US -- CNN
N. Korea envoy at UN says denuclearization ‘already off the table’ in talks with US -- RT

Polls Predict A Comfortable Win For The UK Conservatives When Voters Go To the Polls This Thursday



Reuters: Poll predicts UK Conservatives to win majority of 38 in election: Sunday Times

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is on course to win a parliamentary majority of 38 seats in Thursday’s election, according to a new poll, the Sunday Times’ political editor reported.

A Datapraxis poll, using the multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) model, predicted that the Conservatives would win 344 seats, with the opposition Labour Party taking 221, the Times’s Tim Shipman said on Twitter.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am skeptical that this is going to happen .... Calls grow to stop Boris Johnson with tactical voting as race tightens (The Guardian).

Update: When you are enjoying an eight to ten point lead, that is usually more than enough to form a majority government .... Knife-edge? UK's Johnson ahead but polls suggest majority might be tough (Reuters).

Update #2: My U.K. election prediction. My gut tells me that everyone has already made up their minds on who they re going to vote for. The Tories are going to win with a comfortable majority, and  Brexit will be a "fait-accompli" at the beginning of the new year.

More News On A Number Of Polls Published Today On The U.K. Election

UK PM Johnson sees lead over Labour edge up: YouGov poll -- Reuters
UK's Conservatives 11 points ahead of Labour before election: Deltapoll -- Reuters
UK PM Johnson's lead over Labour narrows: Savanta ComRes poll -- Reuters
UK PM Johnson's Conservatives keep 15-point lead over Labour: Opinium poll -- Reuters
Knife-edge? UK's Johnson ahead but polls suggest majority might be tough -- Reuters
Tories hold 15-point lead over Labour with just days until election -- The Guardian

U.S. And Iran Agree To a Prisoner Exchange

Xiyue Wang, left, was arrested in Iran while researching Persian history for his doctoral thesis [Princeton University via Reuters]

ABC News Online: Iran-US prisoner exchange sees release of US scholar for Iranian scientist

Iran and the US have conducted a prisoner exchange that saw a detained Princeton scholar released for an Iranian scientist held by America, marking a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions.

In a trade conducted in Zurich, Switzerland, Iranian officials handed over Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang, detained in Tehran since 2016, for scientist Massoud Soleimani, who had faced a federal trial in Georgia.

While the exchange represents a rare win for both countries, it comes as Iran still faces crushing US sanctions and the aftermath of nationwide protests that reportedly saw over 200 people killed.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is just more proof to me that there are a lot of back-channels at work between the U.S. and Iran.

More News On The U.S. And Iran Agreeing To a Prisoner Exchange

Iran frees Chinese-American scholar for US-held scientist -- AP
United States and Iran swap prisoners in rare act of cooperation -- Reuters
Iran releases American graduate student in prisoner swap -- The Hill
American student Xiyue Wang freed in prisoner swap after three years in Iran jail -- NBC
US and Iranian men released in prisoner swap -- BBC
US scholar released in Iran, jailed Iranian scientist freed in prisoner swap -- DW
Iran frees Chinese-American scholar for US-held Iranian scientist -- Al Jazeera
U.S. hopes U.S. citizen's release means more progress possible with Iran -- Reuters
Factbox: Reactions to Iran-U.S. prisoner swap -- Reuters

Pensacola Naval Base Shooting -- News Roundup December 7, 2019



Daily Mail: FBI hunt for missing Saudi servicemen as it's revealed Pensacola Naval base killer hosted dinner party to watch mass shooting videos and visited New York to see Rockefeller Christmas tree lights turned on just two days before

* Saudi military student Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, 21, killed three people and injured 12 when he opened fire at Navy Station Pensacola on Friday
* Another Saudi student allegedly videotaped the attack, while two others watched from a nearby car
* Authorities have now detained 10 Saudi students for questioning, a number revised up from six yesterday evening
* However, the FBI is still searching for 'several' other Saudis students who have not been seen since the attack
* al-Shamrani hosted a dinner party on Thursday evening with three other Saudi students where they watched videos of mass shootings
* He and fellow Saudi students also traveled to NYC in the days before the attack
* Investigators are now trying to work out their motives for the trip to the city

The FBI is reportedly hunting for several Saudi students from Navy Station Pensacola, after they vanished in the wake of Friday's mass shooting at the base.

Fellow Saudi Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, 21, killed three and wounded 12 others in the attack before he was shot dead by police.

According to AP, investigators have now detained 10 Saudi military students from the base - a number revised up from six - but several others remain unaccounted for.

Authorities have not revealed the number of Saudi students they are still looking for, and it's unclear why they have not come forward to police.

It follows chilling new details emerging in the wake of Friday morning's shooting, including news that three Saudi serviceman joined al-Shamrani for a dinner party the night before the attack where they watched videos of mass shootings.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: US Defense Secretary Esper is not ready to say that this was a terrorist attack .... US defense secretary can't label US base attack 'terrorism' at this point (The Hill). Hmmmm .... this looks like a deliberate terror attack.

Update: Really?!?!?!? You can start with the vetting process .... No Plans to Change Foreign Military Training After Pensacola Shooting, Top Generals Say (Military.com).

Update #2: This is what they always say after a major incident in a military base .... Navy, Pentagon to Review Base Security Following 3 Deadly Incidents in a Week (Military.com).

Pensacola Naval Base Shooting -- News Roundup December 7, 2019

Official: Base shooter watched shooting videos before attack -- AP
Pensacola attack: Gunman 'played mass-shooting videos at dinner' -- BBC
Saudi suspect in base attack hosted dinner party to watch mass shooting videos: report -- The Hill
Florida naval base shooting: Saudi student assailed US as 'nation of evil' -- France 24
Naval Air Station shooter wrote anti-American and anti-Israeli tweets before rampage: report -- FOX News
Saudi airman may have become radicalized before U.S. Navy base attack -- Reuters
Officials Continue Investigating Gunman’s Motive in Navy Base Attack -- The New York Times
Saudi king orders compliance with US probe on Navy base shooting incident -- Jerusalem Post/Reuters
Pensacola shooting: Saudi king condemns 'barbaric' attack -- BBC
Pensacola naval base shooting tests US-Saudi relations -- AP
Hero Naval Academy grad shot 5 times at Naval Air Station relayed crucial information before succumbing to injuries -- FOX News
First Pensacola shooting victim is identified as Naval ensign, 23, whose brother says 'died a hero' and 'saved countless live' by crawling to alert police after being shot multiple times -- Daily Mail

Friday, December 6, 2019

Editor's Note

Someone reneged at the last moment to do a presentation to a business group in Toronto. I was asked if I could step in and replace him, and I accepted. The presentation is for Saturday morning, so I am flying out as I type this and I will be back in Montreal tomorrow night. Blogging will return Saturday evening.

Pentagon Confirms It's Drawing Up Plans To Send As Many As 7,000 Troops To The Middle East



Daily Mail: Pentagon confirms it's drawing up plans to send as many as 7,000 troops to the Middle East despite threat from Iran and Donald Trump's pledge to 'end the endless wars'

* President Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. out of 'endless wars' and has succeeded in a few troop drawdowns
* But the Pentagon says it will send as many as 7,000 troops back to the Middle East in a major deployment meant to check Iranian aggression
* Iran is blamed for a series of maritime attacks and bombings in Saudi Arabia
* 'If there is a threat, it will be met very strongly,' the president said Thursday

The United States said Thursday it was considering deploying fresh forces to counter the strategic threat Iran poses in the Middle East, with an official saying some 5,000 to 7,000 troops could head to the region.

Testifying before Congress, John Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, said that the United States was 'observing Iran's behavior with concern.'

'We're continuing to look at that threat picture and have the ability to dynamically adjust our force posture,' Rood told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The troop deliberations follow several decisions since spring to beef up the U.S. presence in the Middle East because of a series of maritime attacks and bombings in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. and others have blamed on Iran.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Pentagon may be drawing up plans, but President Trump continues to say no .... Donald Trump says story '12,000' troops will deploy to Saudi Arabia is 'fake news' and blasts 'anonymous sources' after unnamed Pentagon officials claimed he's sending either 14,000 or 7,000 to counter Iran (Daily Mail).

More News On Plans To Deploy U.S. Forces To The Middle East

Trump admin: More US troops may be headed for Middle East -- MSNBC
Pentagon mulls sending up to 7,000 additional forces to Middle East, officials say -- FOX News
US considers sending thousands more troops to Middle East to deter Iran -- CNN

Pensacola Shooter Was Saudi Air Force Lieutenant. Investigation Now Probing Whether Attack Was Terror-Related



Daily Mail: Pensacola naval base suspect is identified as Saudi Air Force trainee who was armed with a handgun as authorities probe whether attack that left shooter and three others dead and eight injured was terror-related

* Shooting took place on base early Friday morning, sparking a lockdown
* Escambia County Sheriff's deputies responded to Naval Air Station and confronted the gunman, resulting in his death
* Sources identified gunman as Saudi aviation student Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani
* Rep Matt Gaetz, a Republican representing Pensacola, called the shooting 'an act of terrorism'
* Three other people were shot and killed during incident inside classroom building on base
* Nearby hospital received total of eight patients, one of whom later died
* Deputies who engaged gunman were shot but are expected to recover
* 'Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,' Sheriff David Morgan told reporters

The suspect in Friday's deadly mass shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia and authorities are now investigating if the shooting was terrorism-related.

US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the suspect was a second lieutenant attending the aviation school at the base.

Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola for flight training.

The shooter opened fire in a classroom building early this morning. The attack left four people dead, including the assailant, and eight others wounded.

Read more ....

More News On Pensacola Shooter Being A Saudi Air Force Lieutenant

Pensacola Shooter Was Saudi Air Force Lieutenant; Authorities Investigating Possible Terrorism Link -- KTLA5/AP
Saudi airman suspected in shooting at U.S. Navy base that left four dead -- Reuters
Suspected shooter at Naval Air Station Pensacola was Saudi national -- NBC
Sailor Who Killed 2 at Pearl Harbor Was Unhappy with Commanders -- Military.com/AP
NAS Pensacola shooting: Why the Naval air base has international flight students -- Pensacola News Journal

Nationwide Strike Continues For A Second Day In France





Daily Mail: French workers are told 'you'll have to work a bit longer' by PM as the country prepares for a second day of strike chaos and violent protests over pension reforms

* Train operator SNCF again axed 90 per cent of high-speed TGVs today after Thursday's public sector strikes
* Air France cancelled 30 per cent of domestic flights for Friday with severe disruptions expected on Eurostar
* Some 800,000 protesters marched in several cities on Thursday in the largest nationwide strikes in decades
* Disruption comes days after President Macron appeared to be caught mocking Trump at NATO conference
* Some 90 people arrested in Paris as hooded youths lit fires, looted stores and hurled fireworks at officers

France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told workers they might have to 'work a bit longer' under a proposed new pension scheme as the country prepared for a second day of strike chaos over the reforms.

He added that the government is 'very determined' to push ahead with these reforms, despite some 800,000 demonstrators taking part in marches and walkouts with paralysed transport networks across France.

Philippe said the government would work with trade unions to introduce a single points-based pension scheme that would require the French to 'work a bit longer' and replace dozens of more advantageous plans currently enjoyed by public sector workers.

Read more ....

More News On The Unrest In France

French strike against pension reform continues for a second day -- France 24
Macron pension reform: Strike continues for second day -- BBC
France pension reform strikes: Transport chaos on day 2 -- DW
Paris travel nightmare enters second day as hundreds of miles of traffic jams reported around French capital -- FOX News
France faces difficult weekend on roads and rail as strikes continue to bite -- The Local.fr
French workers extend strike over Macron's pension reforms -- Al Jazeera
2nd day of national strikes halt trains, planes in France -- UPI
'We won't give up': France's teachers protest government pension reform plan -- France 24
French PM Philippe says government will hold course on pension reform as strikes continue -- France 24
As unions turn the screws, French PM says pension reform unavoidable -- Reuters
France’s Macron faces decisive test over economic policies -- AP

World News Briefs -- December 6, 2019

Iranian political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Abbas Araghchi, right, and German Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Maria Schmid attend a JCPOA meeting at EU Delegation to the International Organizations office in Vienna, Austria [Joe Klamar/AFP]

Al Jazeera: Europeans, Iran to clash at nuclear talks as deal nears collapse

Europeans will urge Iran to stop violating nuclear deal, but Tehran remains angered by sanctions imposed by Washington.

European powers will demand at talks on Friday that Iran stop violating their nuclear deal or risk renewed UN sanctions, but with Tehran angry over a lack of European protection from US sanctions, there appeared to be scant scope for compromise.

The afternoon meeting comes amid heightened friction between Iran and the West.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iran nuclear deal parties meet as accord nears collapse.

UN rights chief says Iranian regime using ‘severe violence’ against protesters.

Iraq unrest: Protester anger unabated, demands unchanged.

Iraqi authorities intensify clampdown on media outlets amid unrest.

'Yemen conflict has no military solution': Sudan's Abdalla Hamdok.

Lebanon PM appeals for foreign help to fight import crisis.

Lebanon's economic crisis fuelling Syria's currency fall.

US House warns against Israel annexation of West Bank settlements.

ASIA

Hong Kong’s lunchtime protests resurgent as hundreds vent anti-government anger across the city.

China’s tsunami of bond defaults topped US$17 billion since November, poised to break last year’s record amid tepid growth.

U.S. criticizes 5-year World Bank plan to lend billions to China.

Taiwan gets tough on disinformation suspected from China ahead of elections.

Hyderabad case: Police kill suspects in rape and murder of Indian vet.

Samoa measles vaccination campaign a 'success'.

Australia bushfires north of Sydney 'too big to put out'. Australia fires: five blazes merge north of Sydney as conditions forecast to worsen.

AFRICA

Russian mercenaries backing militia commander trying to capture Tripoli, Libya and US officials say.

UN peacekeepers intervene after violent clashes in South Sudan.

Greece to expel Libyan ambassador over Turkey-Libya accord.

Africa's rights court suffers setback as Tanzania blocks cases.

Mike Sonko: Nairobi governor arrested over Kenya corruption scandal.

UK court dismisses torture charges against former Liberian first lady.

Gambian town mourns after Mauritania migrant boat deaths.

EUROPE

Paris travel nightmare enters second day as hundreds of miles of traffic jams reported around French capital.

French PM Philippe says government will hold course on pension reform as strikes continue.

EU distances itself from Johnson’s timetable for post-Brexit trade deal.

Corruption cases pile pressure on Czech prime minister.

German Social Democrats give Merkel coalition a chance.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Auschwitz for first time.

Zhukov case: Young symbol of Russian opposition avoids jail.

AMERICAS

Trump faces deadline as House Democrats craft articles of impeachment.

US-China trade pact 'still close': White House.

Bloomberg denies trying to buy White House election.

Dominicans head to polls amid protests and legal challenge.

Bolivia: Tense calm under interim government.

Bolivian minister seeks Israel help in fighting alleged leftist 'terrorism'.

Argentine debt restructuring expert Guzman to be named economy minister: source.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

US offering $15 million for info on Iranian planner of 2007 Karbala attack that killed 5 US troops.

Thirty Britons believed to be among Isis fighters held in Syria.

Saudi national suspected in shooting at U.S. Navy base that left four dead.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

OPEC and Russia agree to cut oil production.

Saudi Aramco raises $25.6bn in world's biggest share sale.

US economy adds 266K jobs in November, blowing past expectations.

Daddy Yankee, Stormzy and Billie Eilish are YouTube's most-watched of 2019.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 6, 2019



The Hill: Pentagon: Reports of 14K troop increase in Mideast 'flat out wrong'

The Pentagon on Friday vehemently pushed back on reports that the United States may send 14,000 more troops to the Middle East to confront a growing Iranian threat but did not deny that a force increase is forthcoming.

“As the Department has stated repeatedly, we were never discussing or considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 6, 2019

US considers sending thousands more troops to Middle East to deter Iran -- CNN

New US troop boost in Mideast ‘possible,’ says top DoD official -- Defense News

Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East -- The Hill

The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says -- Task & Purpose

How force buildups on both sides could increase chances of US-Iran armed conflict -- Shawn Snow, Military Times

F-22 armed with more precision attack technology -- FOX News/Warrior Maven

Navy Still Mulling Post-F-35C Aviation Combatant; Could be Mix of Manned, Unmanned Aircraft -- USNI News

Caroline Kennedy, former NASA administrator to christen USS John F. Kennedy -- UPI

US Navy, Air Force team up on new ‘Manhattan Project’ -- Defense News

Raytheon nabs $13.1M for third anti-drone laser system for testing -- UPI

These companies are teaming up to pursue a $1B cyber contract -- Fifth Domain

U.S. government joins whistle-blower suit accusing Navistar of false billing -- UPI

The convicted US Army war criminal Trump released early says he can't get a job 'even at Walmart or Target' -- Business Insider

Suspect in deadly shooting at Florida naval base was reportedly a foreign national in the US for training -- Business Insider

U.S. Coast Guard Intercepts Highlight Growing Drug Submarine Epidemic -- Forbes

Air Force May Be About to Make Another Big Force Structure Mistake -- John A. Tirpak, Air Force Magazine

This B-52 pilot — a volunteering powerhouse — is one of Forbes magazine’s ‘30 under 30’ -- Air Force times

Double the Fighters: Why Japan Wants Domestic F-3s and the F-35 -- National Interest

Russia to Never Deploy Medium-Range Missiles in Europe Unless US Does – Lavrov -- Sputnik

Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty -- The Hill

Putin offers US an immediate extension to key nuclear pact -- AP

China stealing U.S. arms and military technology from Hong Kong: defector -- Washington Times

India Spent 35 Years Building A Tank That Was A Total Piece of Junk -- National Interest

Iran says it will continue ballistic missile program: tweet -- Reuters

Iran is secretly moving missiles into Iraq, US officials say - report -- Jerusalem Post

Israel Successfully Tests New Rocket Propulsion System - Defence Ministry -- Sputnik

What caused this great warship to sink? -- BBC News

How Many Cold Wars Does It Take to Make a ‘New’ One? -- Ian Li, The Interpreter

Impeachment Inquiry Obtained And Published Phone Records Of Congressman And News Reporter

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes listen to testimony at a hearing on Nov. 19, 2019. (SBG)

Washington Post: Phone records from AT&T and Verizon obtained in impeachment inquiry spark controversy

WASHINGTON - Phone logs subpoenaed from Verizon and AT&T put a spotlight on the powerful tools at lawmakers' disposal as they seek to investigate President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry.

The records were some of the strongest circumstantial evidence included in the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment report this week, revealing extensive contact between Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and the Trump administration during critical points of the Ukraine saga. They also exposed calls between a Giuliani associate who has been indicted in New York, Lev Parnas, and the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes of California.

Republican lawmakers are blasting Democrats' decision to publish the records of Nunes' calls, as well as call records from John Solomon, a conservative columnist formerly at The Hill. Nunes said in a Fox News interview the inclusion of the phone records in the impeachment report is an infraction of his "civil rights" and promised to explore "whatever legal remedies I have."

Read more ....

Update: Republicans angry and concerned about Schiff release of phone records (Byron York, Washington Examiner).

WNU Editor: Not surprised by the revelation that President Trump and Rudy Giuliani talked a lot on the phone. After-all he is Trump's personal attorney. What is disturbing is that Democrats used their Congressional Committee authority to obtain the records of a fellow Congressman and a member of the media. This now sets a precedent, and it is going to be quite a sight to see when this authority to obtain these records will be used against the Democrats.

Turkey - Libya Agreement On Maritime Borders Condemned By Neighbouring Countries

New map outlining Turkey's claimed continental shelf and the borders of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), via Hurriyet Daily.

Al-Monitor: Turkey-Libya agreement shakes up eastern Mediterranean

Ahead of this week’s NATO summit in London, fresh developments in the eastern Mediterranean Sea will likely add to a long list of tensions between Turkey and allied nations as the bloc celebrates its 70th anniversary.

On Nov. 27, Ankara signed an agreement with Libya’s internationally recognized government denoting new maritime boundaries between the two nations. The area spanning from southwest Turkey to northeast Libya cuts across a zone currently claimed by Greece and Cyprus, where plans for a future gas pipeline are in the works to link eastern Mediterranean gas fields with European markets.

The agreement comes as Turkish ships continue gas exploration and drilling activities within Cyprus' territorial waters, actions Ankara claims are necessary to ensure gas revenues are shared between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized solely by Turkey. The latest move further escalates tensions between the nations, which hold conflicting claims over the development of eastern Mediterranean energy resources.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In Turkey's mind this is the new map .... Diplomat Leaks Map Confirming Turkey’s Real Territorial Claims (OilPrice.com).

More News On The Recent Turkey - Libya Agreement On Maritime Borders

Turkey Signs Maritime Boundaries Deal With Libya, Bypassing Greece -- Epoch times
Turkey Is Trying to Take over the Mediterranean, through Libya -- Seth Frantzman, Middle East Forum/The Jerusalem Post
Turkey Just Made a Secret Deal With Libya – Now Erdogan is Trying to Conquer the Mediterranean -- CBN
Greece 'registers disagreement' with Libya-Turkey maritime accord -- Reuters
Greece to expel Libyan ambassador over Turkey-Libya accord -- Al Jazeera

How Did Russia Improved Its Military With An Economy That Is The Size Of Spain

Russia troop and hardware stand in formation during Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military drills. © Sputnik / Vadim Savitskii

US News and World Report: How Russia Improved its Military With An Economy the Size of Spain

The Russians spend the highest share of their military budget on procurement and build much of the equipment in-house.

After a decade of heavy investment in modernizing its military, Russia, a country with an economy similar in size to Spain, now has an updated army, navy and air force that fuel President Vladimir Putin's ambitions of keeping the country's superpower status. The upgrade has been possible, experts say, by boosting in-house production levels of weapons and equipment, and choosing to spend a larger share of the budget on acquisitions.

The Russian military received increased funding beginning in 2011, which improved pay for employees, allowed for the purchasing of high quantities of new and more sophisticated equipment, and supported more training and exercises.

Although the country spends significantly less in absolute figures than what the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India or France each put into their military, in relative numbers Moscow spends a higher share of its defense budget for acquiring new or modernized equipment and weaponry.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia focuses its military spending on things that work. Would they spend over $1 trillion to develop a new F-35 fighter .... no. But the would spend a billion or two on how to shoot it down.

Two Killed And Multiple Injuries Reported After Shooting At Naval Air Station Pensacola In Florida



Daily Mail: BREAKING NEWS: Gunman among two killed and multiple injuries reported after shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida - just two days after Pearl Harbor attack left three dead

* Shooting took place on base early Friday morning, sparking a lockdown
* Escambia County Sheriff's deputies responded to Naval Air Station and confronted the gunman, resulting in his death

A shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida early this morning left one person dead and several others injured before the gunman was killed by law enforcement officers.

A spokesperson for the Escambia County Sheriff's Office told Pensacola News Journal that shots have been fired on base at around 7am local time.

Just before 8am, the sheriff's office announced the shooter has been shot and killed by deputies.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Shooting At Naval Air Station Pensacola In Florida

Active shooter at NAS Pensacola confirmed dead; 11 patients transported to area hospitals: Live Updates -- Pensacola News Journal
Shooter killed, at least 11 hurt at Pensacola Navy base -- AP
Shooter, one other person dead at U.S. Navy base in Pensacola, Florida -- Reuters
Suspect dead, at least 11 hospitalized in shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida -- USA Today
Multiple Victims After Shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola; Shooter Dead -- Military.com
Active shooter at NAS Pensacola reported dead -- Navy Times

Tweets For Today











Picture Of The Day

A man drinks a Frucola as a policeman chases demonstrators during a protest against Chile's government in Santiago, Chile December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Photos of the week (Reuters).

Activity Spotted At North Korean Missile Test Site


CNN: New satellite image shows activity at previously dismantled North Korean test site

Washington (CNN)A new satellite image obtained by CNN indicates North Korea may be preparing to resume testing engines used to power satellite launchers and intercontinental ballistic missiles at a site President Donald Trump previously claimed was dismantled after his Singapore summit with dictator Kim Jong Un this summer, according to experts who analyzed the photo.

The commercial satellite imagery, which was captured on Thursday by Planet Labs, shows new activity at Sohae Satellite Launching Station and the presence of a large shipping container at the facility's engine test stand, according Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute, which works in partnership with the imaging company.

The shipping container was not seen at the site before Thursday and its presence suggests the North Koreans are moving to resume tests engine tests at Sohae, Lewis told CNN.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Too early to say that North Korea is about to test missile engines. But there are concerns that in the coming weeks North Korea may be conducting a major ballistic missile firing or (what really worries everyone) a nuclear test .... North Korean missile and Kim Jong-un's 'Christmas gift' decision (BBC).

A Look At The North Korean Economy

Kim Jong Un cuts a ribbon to launch the town of Samjiyon, a signature project completed despite biting sanctions [KCNA via Reuters]

38 North: The North Korean Economy, November 2019: Kim Jong Un’s Kumgang Statement Signals a Shift in Economic Gears

Introduction

On Wednesday, October 23, Kim Jong Un visited the Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region in the southern part of the country, which was started and formerly operated in cooperation with South Korea’s Hyundai Asan conglomerate. His comments during the visit put another nail in the coffin of traditional forms of North-South economic cooperation. It also illustrated North Korea’s growing confidence that it can promote economic growth without direct involvement from South Korea, through systemic economic change and self-sufficiency in managing its tourism industry.

Read more
....

WNU Editor: Apparently sanctions are not working .... Report: North Korea economy developing dramatically despite sanctions (UPI).

US Navy's Zumwalt-Class Destroyer Program Is A Failure

Reuters

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: Is This Flaw In The Navy's Stealth Zumwalt-Class Destroyer Fatal?

These "stealth" ships might not be worth the cost.

Key Point: Costoverruns and a failure to match the ship with a proper weapons system has people scratching their heads on what the Zumwalt-class destroyers are actually useful for.

In January 2019, the Navy will commission its second hi-tech Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer, the USS Michael Monsoor. The third and last, USS Lyndon B. Johnson was launched this December 2018 and will be commissioned in 2022.

Traditionally, warships are tailored to perform specific missions. But the cutting-edge Zumwalt has been a ship in search of a mission, especially since procurement of hyper-expensive ammunition for its primary weapon system was cancelled. Years and billions of dollars later, the Navy may finally have found one.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Another sobering summary on how useless the US Navy's Zumwalt-Class destroyer program has become.,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Three U.S. National Guard Soldiers Killed When Black Hawk Helicopter Crashes In Minnesota





NBC: 3 National Guard members dead in Black Hawk helicopter crash in Minnesota

Three people died after a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed Thursday after taking off from an airport in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Three people died after a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed Thursday after taking off from an airport in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

The Minnesota National Guard confirmed to NBC News it lost contact with the Black Hawk at around 2 p.m. CST and authorities are searching for it. Master Sergeant Blair Heusdens said the helicopter was conducting a maintenance test flight and that three Guardsmen were on board.

All three Guardsmen on the helicopter were declared dead, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz confirmed Thursday evening. Walz, a former Guardsman, said that the soldiers were "brothers in arms."

Brig. Gen. Sandy Best said the state's guard was devastated over the loss and is investigating the cause of the crash. She did not identify the deceased, as the family has not yet be notified.

Read more ....

More News On The Three U.S. National Guard Soldiers Killed When Their Black Hawk Helicopter Crashed In Minnesota

3 soldiers killed when Minnesota National Guard Black Hawk crashes -- ABC News
Three national guard soldiers killed when helicopter crashes in Minnesota -- Guardian/AP
‘Devastated’: 3 crew killed in Black Hawk crash in Minnesota -- AP
Black Hawk Helicopter Crash Kills 3 Minnesota National Guardsmen -- Sputnik

Senior Pentagon Official Failed In Explaining Pentagon Troop Deployments To The Middle East


Politico: Pentagon officials struggle to explain plans for Middle East deployments

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is considering sending additional military forces to the Middle East to deter Iranian attacks, the Pentagon’s policy chief acknowledged Thursday after initially trying to knock down a news report that said as many as 14,000 troops could go.

“The secretary of Defense is consistently, and continues to evaluate, with the advice of others, what the appropriate number of forces to be deployed to the Middle East is,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood told the Senate Armed Services Committee. He later added that “as necessary, the secretary of Defense has told me he intends to make changes to our force posture there.”

Rood wouldn’t say how large of a force the Pentagon is considering, or what types of units might go. But he said that of an initial 14,000 troops sent to the Middle East since the spring, about half have been aboard warships, and the other half included ground and air units that have reestablished a major air base in Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon sent those troops in increments after Iranian attacks on commercial shipping, a U.S. surveillance drone and Saudi oil facilities.

The Pentagon is looking at sending more troops now because of new intelligence about possible Iranian attacks in the region, Rood explained.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood was definitely not clear in explaining Pentagon troop deployments to the Middle East, and it showed.

European Powers Now Claim That Iran Has Developed Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles


CNN: France, Germany and UK reiterate claim that Iran has nuclear-capable ballistic missiles

Ambassadors from France, Germany and the UK have again alleged that Iran has developed nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, in a joint letter addressed to the United Nations Secretary-General officially released by the UN on Wednesday.

The ambassadors listed four examples of activity indicating nuclear-capable missiles, adding that "Iran's developments of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and related technologies is inconsistent" with a UN resolution restraining the country from doing so.

The European countries -- all signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal -- have previously written to the UN about Tehran's alleged nuclear activity, claiming "these activities are the latest in a long series of advances in Iranian ballistic missile technology."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Iran is saying that they are conforming with UN regulations .... Iran says its ballistic missile & space launch program is in line with UN resolution (RT). They are also declaring that they will not stop .... Iran vows to continue missile work, dismisses EU powers' U.N. letter (Reuters).

More News On France, Germany, And The UK Claiming That Iran Has Developed Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles

Iran developing nuclear-capable missiles, European powers warn UN -- BBC
Iran working on nuclear-capable missiles: European powers -- AFP
Europeans, Iran to cross swords at nuclear talks -- Reuters
Europeans warn Iran over nuclear-capable missile development -- Al Jazeera
France: Iran Ballistic Activities Do Not Conform With U.N. Resolution -- Washington Free Beacon
France, Germany And UK Say Iran Has Nuclear-Capable Missiles -- Radio Farda
Iran to continue ballistic missile program despite EU warning -- DW

U.S. Says Iran Protest Death Toll May Surpass 1,000 In Recent Protests





Reuters: U.S. says Iran may have killed more than 1,000 in recent protests

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iranian security forces may have killed more than 1,000 people since protests over gasoline price hikes began in mid-November, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said on Thursday, adding that many thousands were also wounded in the unrest.

“As the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over a thousand Iranian citizens since the protests began,” Hook told reporters at a briefing at the State Department.

Among those were at least a dozen children, Hook said, but cautioned that the numbers were not definitive as Tehran blocked information. He said that “many thousands of Iranians” had also been wounded and at least 7,000 detained in Iran’s prisons.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Officials Saying That The Iran Protest Death Toll May Surpass 1,000 In Recent Protests

Iran may have 'murdered' more than 1,000 in recent protests over fuel prices claims US, as Supreme Leader Khamenei orders victims should be treated as 'martyrs' -- Daily Mail
US says Iran protest death toll may surpass 1,000 -- AFP
Iranian forces may have killed more than 1,000 in recent protests, official says -- FOX News
U.S. envoy to Iran says as many as 1,000 protesters killed in government crackdown -- Politico
1,000 Iranians may have been killed in protests, U.S. estimates -- Axios

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 5, 2019





Adam Nossiter, New York Times: General Strike in France Challenges Macron’s Latest Ambition for Change

The president wants to combine a complex of 42 different generous pension schemes into one state system. It scares fellow citizens. And his personal style grates on many.

PARIS — The streets of French cities were filled with anti-government demonstrators, tear gas and police officers on Thursday as Emmanuel Macron again faced what has become an emblem of his presidency: social unrest. This time it was a general strike over his plans to overhaul the country’s pension system.

Much of the country came to a halt as transport workers went on a strike that could last into next week. By some estimates nearly half a million took part nationwide in the demonstrations. Trains, subways and buses were canceled, many schools were closed, and thousands were forced to stay home from work across the country.

In Paris, smoke billowed from the Place de la République and the wide Boulevard de Magenta was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with unionists furious with Mr. Macron. In Rennes, protesters smashed store windows; in Nantes, the riot police pushed the crowds back with tear gas; in Lyon, scuffles broke out between the police and demonstrators.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 5, 2019

Explainer: What's at stake in Macron's reform of France's cherished pensions? -- Leigh Thomas, Reuters

Macron pension reform: Why are French workers on strike? -- BBC

A look at France’s heated debate over pensions -- Sylvie Corbett, AP

What's behind the wave of Middle East protests? -- BBC

North Korea's Christmas Gift to President Trump: A Missile or Nuclear Test? -- Robert E. Kelley, National Interest

U.S. Uighur bill's threat to surveillance economy puts China on offensive -- Matt Spetalnick, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom, Reuters

China’s growing global challenge to US interests -- Manoj Kumar Mishra, Asia Times

Why Abiy Ahmed's Prosperity Party could be bad news for Ethiopia -- Awol K Allo, Al Jazeera

UK election is full of dirty tricks and political clicks -- Danica Kirka, AP

Who Will Win Next Thursday in Britain? -- Denis MacShane, The Globalist

Will Brexit and the general election see Scotland leave the United Kingdom? -- Europe bureau chief Samantha Hawley, ABC News Online

The Day After NATO -- Joschka Fischer, Project Syndicate

NATO must not become an alliance only for the few -- Faisal Al Yafai, Asia Times

NATO No Longer Serves American Interests -- Doug Bandow, National Interest

Confusion, Unforced Errors, and the Costs of Having No Strategy. -- Peter Harris, RCW

World News Briefs -- December 5, 2019 (Evening Edition)

French CRS riot police face off with protesters during clashes at a demonstration against French government's pensions reform plans in Paris as part of a day of national strike and protests in France, December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Reuters: French police fire tear gas at strikers challenging Macron reform

PARIS (Reuters) - Police fired tear gas at protesters in the center of Paris on Thursday and public transport ground to a near halt in one of the biggest strikes in France for decades, aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to ditch a planned reform of pensions.

The strike pits Macron, a 41-year-old former investment banker who came to power in 2017 on a promise to open up France’s highly regulated economy, against powerful trade unions who say he is set on dismantling worker protections.

The outcome depends on who blinks first - the unions who risk losing public support if the disruption goes on for too long, or the government which fears voters could side with the unions and blame officials for the standoff.

“People can work around it today and tomorrow, but next week people may get annoyed,” said 56-year-old cafe owner Isabelle Guibal.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

EXCLUSIVE: Satellite images suggest Iran stockpiling missile arsenal in Syria.

'In cold blood': Syria Kurds say killed, robbed by Turkey proxies.

Exclusive: U.S. military completes pullback from northeast Syria, Esper says.

US says Iran protest death toll may surpass 1,000.

Iran says its ballistic missile & space launch program is in line with UN resolution.

Iran to continue ballistic missile program despite EU warning.

Pro-paramilitary demonstrators stream into Iraqi protest camp.

US says seized Iranian weapons bound for Yemen.

Israel: Netanyahu cousin and associates to be charged with corruption.

ASIA

Hong Kong residents living with tear gas worry of effects.

As scandal simmers, majority of Japan firms want PM Abe to finish term: Reuters poll.

In rare legal test, Myanmar faces genocide hearings at The Hague.

US peace envoy to Afghanistan launches ‘accelerated effort’ in surprise stop in Kabul.

South Korean president hears reassurances from senior Chinese diplomat.

Kim Jong Un was 'displeased' by Trump's Rocket Man remarks at Nato summit and repeating them would be the ‘dangerous actions of a dotard’ North Korea warns.

Report: China, North Korea officials meet ahead of sanctions deadline.

Major Hong Kong anti-government rally and march get police permission.

China maintains tariffs must be reduced for phase one trade deal with U.S..

China’s economic clout welcomed by most of the world, but Asian neighbours remain wary: Pew survey.

AFRICA

Libyan officials collect evidence of Russian fighters in war.

Armed attack in Burundi aggravates tensions with Rwanda.

UN appeals for aid to help millions of Zimbabweans buy food.

Boko Haram kidnaps 17 youths in north Cameroon: officials.

Pirates kidnap 19 crew members of Greek tanker off Nigeria.

At least 58 die as migrant boat sinks off Mauritania.

Botswana poll result 'to be challenged in court'.

Ethiopian PM's new party labelled 'illegitimate'.

EUROPE

French strike against Macron reforms enters day two.

Paris police arrest scores amid strike over pension reform.

More than 800,000 people march against Macron as strikes grip France.

Russia ready to extend New START arms control treaty without conditions and further discussions – Putin .

Little wiggle room as Ukraine, Russia leaders meet for crunch Paris talks.

Boris Johnson vows to ban all-out strikes on public transport.

3 British members of European Parliament quit Brexit Party.

Prince Philip 'ordered Andrew to step down for the sake of the monarchy' at Sandringham showdown with Charles amid worsening Jeffrey Epstein crisis.

Trump lawyer meets Ukraine MP who called for Biden probe.

AMERICAS

Trump threatens trade action to spur NATO contributions.

Mexican president hails 'good meeting' with U.S. attorney general Barr.

Anti-impeachment witness says he's received threats since Judiciary Committee hearing.

Pelosi says Trump to be impeached, Trump says ‘do it fast, but I’ll win’.

Trump likely to face at least three articles of impeachment.

At Iowa event, Biden gets into spat over Ukraine.

Joe Biden says he will REFUSE to testify voluntarily if impeachment trial reaches the Senate because he doesn't want to 'divert' attention from Donald Trump's 'crimes'.

Joe Biden: John Kerry endorses presidential bid.

US trade deficit falls in October to lowest since May 2018: report.

Bolivia: 'Overwhelming' evidence of vote rigging.

Colombia protests resume after talks flounder. Third general strike in Colombia keeps pressure on Duque government.

US indicts 'Evil Corp' hackers with alleged Russian intelligence ties.

Canada's Trudeau clears first hurdle as opposition party offers support.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

ISIS has NOT been defeated and Syria is a 'tinder box' that could easily ignite, head of Britain's Armed Forces warns.

Syrian farmer says his arm was blown off and his two friends were killed in raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi despite US claims that troops 'protected all non-combatants'.

ISIS is taking a beating in Afghanistan setting the stage for potential US troop withdrawal.

Morocco and Spain arrest 4 suspected ISIS supporters in joint raids.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street inches higher as Dec. 15 tariff deadline looms.

OPEC talks end without announcement of expected cuts.

Nearly 6,000 US sexual assaults reported to Uber in 2017 and 2018.

OPEC, allies agree to deepen oil output cuts.

Saudi Aramco to be world's most valuable firm after IPO next week.

Outcry as Google bans political advertising in Singapore as election looms.