Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Kremlin Says It Is 'Stupid' To Think President Trump Is a Russian Agent

©REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

Politico: Kremlin says it's 'stupid' to think that Trump could be a Russian agent

Top Kremlin officials are scoffing at the idea that President Donald Trump is working as a Russian agent, dismissing the notion as “nonsense” and blasting U.S. journalists for their attention to the issue.

“That’s stupid,” said Yuri Ushakov, a foreign policy aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Bloomberg News. “How can the president of the United States be an agent of another country? Just think about that.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. main stream media are "sugar-coating" the remarks that are coming out of Russia on the story that President Trump is a Russian agent. I am hearing far more harsher language. The word "insane" is being commonly used.

More News On The Kremlin Saying It Is 'Stupid' To Think President Trump Is a Russian Agent

Kremlin derides allegations that Trump could work for Moscow -- AP
Kremlin: The idea that Donald Trump could have worked for Russia is stupid -- Reuters
Kremlin official: ‘Stupid’ to think Trump is working for Russia -- The Hill
Kremlin says it's 'stupid' to say Trump is a Russian agent amid reports he tried to hide Putin conversations -- Business Insider
Kremlin mocks notion that Trump could have worked for Russia -- NYPost

245 Million Christians Face Violence And Oppression Worldwide

Daily Mail: Christians suffered an increase in persecution last year with 245 MILLION facing violence or oppression around the world - 30 million more than a year ago

* Around 30million more Christians than a year ago suffered from persecution
* Open Doors, a Dutch charity, published a report into Christian persecution
* It said millions more Christians in India and China had been targeted last year

Christians around the world suffered a huge increase in persecution last year - with around 30 million more people being targeted than in the previous year.

A report by Open Doors, a Dutch charity that supports persecuted Christians showed that in total, 245 million faced violence or oppression in 2018, with 73 countries listed as danger zones for Christians.

China has been named among the most dangerous places to be a Christian after new laws governing religious expression led to raids and the demolition of scores of churches.

Read more ....

Update #1: Open Doors USA Reveals World's Worst Persecutors of Christians (CBN)
Update #2: Open Doors 2019 report: Persecution is on the rise globally (Christian Today).

WNU Editor: The Open Doors list of the worse offenders is here.

Aide To Drug Kingpin El Chapo Says He Paid A $100m Bribe To Former Mexican President Peña Nieto



CNN: 'El Chapo' Guzman associate claims kingpin paid $100M bribe to former Mexican President

(CNN)A former close personal aide to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman testified Tuesday that the drug kingpin once paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The stunning testimony came from Alex Cifuentes, a Colombian trafficker who once served as Guzman's secretary and close personal aide.

After three days on the stand in the Brooklyn federal courtroom, the bombshell revelation was only brought up in court by defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, not prosecutors.

Peña Nieto's former chief of staff, Francisco Guzman, denied the allegation Tuesday evening.

"The statements of the Colombian drug trafficker in New York are false, defamatory and absurd. The government @EPN was the one who located, arrested and extradited Joaquín Guzmán Loera. Since the beginning of the administration, it was a priority objective of the security cabinet," Francisco Guzman said in a tweet.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The former President is denying these reports.

More News On Reports That Drug Kingpin El Chapo Paid A $100m Bribe To Former Mexican President Peña Nieto

El Chapo Trial: Former Mexican President Peña Nieto Took $100 Million Bribe, Witness Says -- The New York Times
'El Chapo' paid former Mexican president $100 million bribe: trial witness -- Reuters
Ex-president of Mexico was paid $100M bribe to call off manhunt for cartel leader El Chapo, trial told -- AP
El Chapo 'paid $100 million bribe to former president of Mexico' -- France 24
Former right-hand man testifies El Chapo bribed ex-Mexican president with $100 million -- The Hill
El Chapo 'paid $100m bribe to former Mexican president Peña Nieto' -- BBC
Drug trafficker says ‘El Chapo’ boasted of $100 million bribe to ex-president of Mexico -- Boston Globe
El Chapo trial: Joaquín Guzman paid former Mexican president $100m bribe, witness claims -- The Independent

Russian Foreign Minister Tells Japan To Accept The Result Of World War II

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

DW: Russia urges Japan to 'accept the result' of World War II

Russia's foreign minister has called on Tokyo to accept the outcome of the war in order to advance discussions on a peace plan. Russia and Japan have yet to sign a peace treaty since the end of World War II.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday questioned whether Japan had fully embraced the results of World War II when it came to resolving a territorial dispute that could pave the way for a peace treaty.

Speaking during an annual press conference, Lavrov said recognizing the outcome of World War II "is neither an ultimatum nor a precondition" for talks.

"It is an inevitable and indispensable factor in today's international system," said Lavrov. "Why is Japan the only country in the world that cannot accept the result of World War II in their entirety?"

Read more ....

Update #1: Russia calls on Japan to recognise outcome of World War Two -- Reuters
Update #2: Russia-Japan Peace Treaty Talks Will Not Affect Kurils Residents - Kremlin -- Sputnik

WNU Editor: Russia is not the only country that has a "beef" with Japan over the Second World War. China, the Koreas, Philippines, etc. .... they have a greater beef with Japan than Russia.

Democrats Want The U.S. State Of The Union Postponed



Politico: Pelosi asks Trump to reschedule SOTU because of the shutdown

The House speaker is citing security concerns, but Democrats also don't want to give Trump a platform to blame them for the shutdown.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday asked President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address — or deliver it in writing — as long as the government remains shut down.

Pelosi said the partial shutdown has hamstrung both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, potentially harming the security planning that precedes the primetime address.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If there was ever a time when a State of the Union speech should be given, it is now. And as for security concerns. State of the Union speeches were given during war time, with far less security than today. My gut tells me that this is more about optics, and not giving President Trump a platform. I guess the Democrats are worried that five minutes into his speech President Trump would point to a family member in the gallery who lost a loved one because of an illegal immigrant, and then push for why the U.S. needs border security.

More News On Democrat House Speaker Pelosi Asking Presdient Trump To Postpone The State Of The Union

As shutdown lingers, Pelosi urges Trump to reschedule State of the Union -- Reuters
Nancy Pelosi to Trump: Reschedule State of the Union address or just submit it in writing to Congress because of shutdown -- CNBC
Pelosi asks Trump NOT to deliver State of the Union during the government shutdown in bid to prevent prime time attack on Democrats as key Republican senators tell him to surrender -- Daily Mail
Trump feels shutdown pressure from economists, Nancy Pelosi -- AP
Pelosi asks Trump to reschedule State of the Union amid shutdown -- FOX News
Pelosi asks Trump to move State of the Union or submit it in writing -- NBC

U.S. Soldiers Killed In Suicide Attack In Syria





CNN: US service members killed in ISIS-claimed attack in Syria

Washington (CNN)ISIS has claimed responsibility for a deadly explosion that killed US service members in the Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday.

US service members were killed in the attack, according to a tweet from the spokesperson for the US-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve.

"U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time," the tweet said.

The coalition has not said how many service members were killed. Prior to Wednesday's attack, only two US service members had been killed in action in Syria since the start of the campaign in 2014.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The first reports are saying that 4 US soldiers were killed, 3 wounded .... U.S. official: four U.S. soldiers dead, three injured in Syria blast (Reuters). The media is portraying this attack as a repudiation of President Trump's remarks last month that much of ISIS has been destroyed. I see it differently, this attack will only give ammunition to President Trump's case and reinforce the mood among the American public that the U.S. should leave Syria.

More News On Reports That U.S. Soldiers Were Killed In A Suicide Attack In Syria

US military says American troops killed in Syria blast -- AP
IS group claims deadly suicide attack on US-led coalition patrol in Syria -- France 24
U.S. service members killed by explosion in Manbij, Syria -- NBC
Four U.S. troops reported among 16 dead in north Syria attack -- Reuters
U.S. troops killed in Syria suicide attack claimed by ISIS -- CBS
Four US soldiers killed by Isis in Syria, just weeks after Trump said 'we have defeated' terror group in country -- The Independent

Pentagon To Purchase Two Iron Dome Batteries From Israel

Iron Dome testing . (photo credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)

Jerusalem Post: Report: U.S. Army acquires two Iron Dome batteries

"The Iron Dome system provides the best value for the US military in terms of the timetable for its acquisition and deployment," the US report said.

The US Army will acquire two Iron Dome batteries by 2020 as well as consider the full adoption of the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2-Intercept, both systems developed by Israel, Inside Defense reported Wednesday.

The Iron Dome batteries will provide US ground forces an interim capability against unmanned air vehicles, mortars, rockets, artillery and cruise missiles.

Read more ....

Update: US army eyes $373 million purchase of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system (i24 News)

WNU Editor: The Pentagon did say that they were going to examine new ways to detect and track enemy missiles .... US weighs new ways to detect and track enemy missiles (AP). More here .... Pentagon Reportedly Considering Boosting Missile Defences Worldwide (Sputnik).

U.S. - Russia Nuclear Talks Facing Collapse

An Iskander-K system thought to be capable of launching the 9M729, which Washington claims violates the INF Treaty. © Vitaliy Timkov

VOA: Russia, US: No Progress in Talks Over 1987 Nuclear Arms Treaty

Russia and the United States said Tuesday there was no progress in talks over Washington's intention to withdraw from a 1987 nuclear arms treaty because it says Moscow is violating its terms.

"On the whole, we are forced to state that there is no progress. The U.S. position is frozen in its uncompromising and peremptory demands," state news agency Tass quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying after talks with U.S. Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson in Geneva.

The U.S. side described the meeting as "disappointing."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The American position is that Russia has violated the terms of the agreement .... Russia in 'material breach' of key nuclear treaty: US (AFP). The Russian position is that the U.S. has violated the terms of the agreement .... Russia Claims US Violating Treaty Over 'Unverified' B-52 Bombers, Missiles (DOD Buzz). All that I can say is that at least both sides are still talking .... Russia, US start consultations in Geneva on INF Treaty (TASS)

More News On U.S. - Russia Nuclear Talks

Nuclear arms treaty faces collapse after failed US-Russia talks -- AFP
US & Russia trade blame on INF as last-ditch talks to save nuclear treaty fail in Geneva -- RT
Russia In 'Material Breach' Of Key Nuclear Treaty, U.S. Says -- RFE
US demands Russia destroy missile system to save nuclear pact — Moscow -- Financial Times
Russia ready to work with U.S. to save INF arms treaty: Lavrov -- Reuters
Russia says US ignored offer to inspect controversial weapon -- ABC News/AP
Russia ready for serious conversation with US on entire strategic agenda — Putin -- TASS

Extreme poverty rises again in Latin America


Reuters: Number of Latin Americans in extreme poverty highest since 2008: U.N. agency

(Reuters) - The number of people living in extreme poverty in Latin America increased in 2017 to the highest level in almost a decade despite an improvement in government social spending policies, a United Nations agency said on Tuesday.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said the proportion of people in extreme poverty, which is characterized by lack of access to basic human necessities like food and shelter, rose to 10.2 percent of the population in 2017, or 62 million people, from 9.9 percent in 2016.

The figure is the highest since 2008 and largely due to an economic deterioration in Brazil, which has only begun to rebound in the last year from its worst recession in decades. Brazil has about 200 million people, making it Latin America’s most populous nation.

Read more ....

Update #1: Extreme poverty rises again in Latin America (France 24)
Update #2: Extreme Poverty Increases in Latin America, reports ECLAC (Prensa Latina)

WNU Editor: Economic and political turmoil in Brazil for the past few years, coupled with the disaster in Venezuela, is the reason for this increase in extreme poverty.

The Fascinating Story Of Army Colonel Robert Rheault

Rheault shortly after the end of the "Green Beret Case."

Task & Purpose: A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in 'Apocalypse Now'

The Army's Special Forces command came down to one man during the Vietnam War. His job performance earned him the nod from screenwriter John Milius, who turned retired Army Colonel Robert Rheault's legacy into something more enduring than he ever imagined. He was immortalized forever by actor Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

Unlike Col. Kurtz, however, there was nothing insane or dark about Col. Rheault.

Robert Rheault grew up in a privileged New England family, went to West Point and later studied in Paris, at the Sorbonne. The young Army officer picked up a Silver Star for service in Korea, but it was his time in Vietnam that would change his career forever, devastating the man who only ever wanted the Army life.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These war stories never get old.

Tweets For Today






Picture Of The Day

Rescuers and journalists evacuate an injured man from the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the Dusit hotel compound, in Nairobi. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Gunmen attack Kenyan hotel compound (Reuters).

Are Western Mercenaries Heading To Syria?

Erik Prince, a former Navy Seal and founder of private military contractor Blackwater USA, has been waiting to pitch his ideas to the US administration. Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb

Asia Times: Western mercenaries ready for Syria; Russians already there

Speculation is rampant that US-based 'Dogs of War' may engage in Syria and Afghanistan, but Russian competitors are more flexible and aggressive.

Although US President Donald Trump has announced a pullout of troops from Syria and a draw-down in Afghanistan, the fighting continues.

Waiting to make a killing are the “Dogs of War” – men who fight not for flags, but for cash. As pullouts leave geopolitical vacuums that invite or intensify conflict, the business forecast looks upbeat for “private military contractors,” or PMCs – the polite corporate term for “mercenaries.”

There is considerable speculation underway as to whether US PMCs – and the man who had led the American sector, Erik Prince of former blue-chip PMC Blackwater – will fill the vacuum created by Trump. However, the sector is in flux.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Who will pay these mercenaries to go to Syria. The U.S. taxpayer? I doubt it, especially with a Democrat Congress.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Afghan Taliban Threaten To Pull Out Of Peace Talks (Again)

A member of the Taliban holds a flag in Kabul, Afghanistan June 16, 2018. The writing on the flag reads: 'There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah'. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/File Photo

Reuters: Taliban threatens to pull out of peace talks with U.S.

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban on Tuesday threatened to stall peace talks with the United States if they deflect from the issue of foreign force withdrawal from Afghanistan, a key demand of the hardline Islamic militants to end the 17-year war.

In a statement, the Taliban said America must pursue the peace talks with “sincere intentions” or it “will be forced to stall all talks and negotiations until America ends her unlawful pressures and maneuvering and steps forward toward true peace.”

The warning comes a day after Taliban fighters blew up a car-bomb outside a highly fortified compound killing at least five people and wounding more than 110 Afghans and expatriates in Kabul city.

Read more ....

Update: Taliban threaten to end talks with US on ending Afghan war (AP)

WNU Editor: The U.S. is putting pressure on the Taliban .... The US and its partners are bombing ISIS and the Taliban at levels not seen in a long time (Business Insider), and Pakistan is doing its part .... Taliban talks: Pakistan arrest 'sends militants message' (BBC).

Pentagon: China Is Modernizing Its Military To Fight Regional Conflicts Over Places Like Taiwan

YouTube

CNN: US report says rapidly modernizing Chinese military has set sights on Taiwan

(CNN)Over the last few years China has made a series of ambitious military reforms and acquired new technology as it aims to improve its ability to fight regional conflicts over places like Taiwan, according to a new report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

"Beijing's longstanding interest to eventually compel Taiwan's reunification with the mainland and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence has served as the primary driver for China's military modernization," said the agency's report, titled "China's Military Power."

The report, which was published Tuesday, added that "Beijing's anticipation that foreign forces would intervene in a Taiwan scenario led the (People's Liberation Army) to develop a range of systems to deter and deny foreign regional force projection."

The report estimates that Chinese spending on its armed forces "probably exceeded $200 billion" in 2018, "a threefold increase since 2002."

Read more ....

Update #1: Defense intel report fuels worries of China attack on Taiwan (AP)
Update #2: U.S. eyes Taiwan risk as China's military capabilities grow (AP)

WNU Editor: China has many "issues" with its neighbours, and Taiwan is just one of them.

Pentagon: Some Chinese Military Tech Surpasses U.S.

This photo taken on October 24, 2018, shows Thai sailors visiting Chinese guided missile destroyer Guangzhou during the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise at a military port in Zhanjiang, in China’s southern Guangdong province. China is on the cusp of fielding some of the world’s most advanced weapons systems — and in some cases already has surpassed its rivals, a Pentagon assessment released Tuesday found. AFP

SCMP/AFP: Some Chinese military tech surpasses US, Pentagon admits, citing hypersonic weapons

* The US Defence Intelligence Agency says Chinese rules forcing foreign business partners to divulge technical secrets has led to major military advances in China
* The advances will ‘enable China to impose its will in the region’, the report says

China is on the cusp of fielding some of the world’s most advanced weapons systems – and in some cases already has surpassed all rivals, including the US, a Pentagon assessment released Tuesday found.

An unclassified report by the Defence Intelligence Agency says Beijing has made enormous military strides in recent years, thanks partly to domestic laws forcing foreign partners to divulge technical secrets in exchange for access to China’s vast market.

Read more ....

Update #1: New defense intelligence assessment warns China nears critical military milestone (Defense News)
Update #2: China’s advances seen to pose increasing threat to American military dominance (Washington Post)

WNU Editor: Here is the report .... DIA Chinese Military Power Report (USNI News).

Terror Attack In Nairobi -- News Roundup



Daily Mail: Briton and American are among 15 killed in Islamist attack on Kenyan hotel as CCTV shows terrorist gunmen shooting up compound where wounded victims still beg for rescue

* Strike at 14 Riverside Drive complex began around 3pm local time when four gunman arrived at the entrance
* Attackers threw grenades at cars outside a bank before one of the gunmen blew himself up in the hotel lobby
* Other three began shooting guests - some of whom hid under tables or fled through windows onto ladders
* Witness Charles Njenga said victims' bodies looked like 'minced meat all over' as he fled scene in the capital
* Special forces arrived and eight hours later officials said scene was clear - but more gunfire was heard later on
* At 4am local time (1am GMT) more shots heard and officials were still evacuating casualties trapped inside
* CCTV has emerged showing three suspected al Shabaab attackers entering the complex before opening fire

A British man and an American man are among at least 15 people killed after four gunmen sprayed guests with bullets and a suicide bomber blew himself up in a terror attack on a luxury hotel in Kenya.

The four attackers, one wearing a green belt laden with grenades, were seen on CCTV blasting their way into the hotel and office complex in Nairobi after denoting car bombs outside a nearby bank.

The suicide bomber then blew himself up in the lobby before the other three began hurling grenades and shooting people as they fled or hid under tables.

Charles Njenga, a worker at the complex, said after fleeing: 'What I have seen is terrible. I have seen a human as I ran out and there is what looks like minced meat all over.'

Read more ....

Terror Attack In Nairobi -- News Roundup

The Latest: Kenyan police officer reports 15 bodies -- AP
Africa Live: How Nairobi attack unfolded -- BBC
Gunmen kill 14 in Kenya hotel compound attack claimed by Somali Islamists -- Reuters
Al-Shabab extremists claim deadly attack on Nairobi hotel -- AP
Somali Islamists claim responsibility for deadly Nairobi hotel attack -- France 24
Nairobi DusitD2 hotel attacked by suspected militants -- BBC
Nairobi terror attack: police regain control of hotel complex from gunmen -- The Guardian
Islamic extremists claim responsibility for Nairobi hotel attack that killed at least seven -- ABC News Online
Al-Shabab claims responsibility for terror attack at upscale Kenyan hotel complex -- FOX News
Gunmen storm Nairobi hotel complex -- Al Jazeera
American Among Those Killed As Explosions, Gunfire Rock Nairobi Hotel -- NPR
U.S. State department official confirms American killed in Kenya attack -- Reuters
Wounded victims of militant attack still trapped inside Kenya hotel complex: emergency responder -- Reuters
Nairobi hotel attack a grim reminder of spectre of the terrorism which hangs over Kenya -- Kim Sengupta, The Independent
Major al-Shabab attacks targeting Kenya Major al-Shabab attacks targeting Kenya -- Al Jazeera

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 15, 2019



Tim Sculthorpe, Daily Mail: So what happens now? Here are SIX ways the next stage of the Brexit drama might play out after May's humiliating defeat tonight

* Theresa May has suffered an historic defeat in the Brexit vote in the Commons tonight losing by a landslide
* The Prime Minister must now outline a plan B for Brexit within days and is expected to fly to Brussels
* But the Brexit drama could play out in an almost unlimited number of ways as MPs try and seize control
* May could try to renegotiate with Brussels and hold the showdown vote on the deal for a second time
* But she could be ousted by a confidence vote or even try to call a general election or a new referendum

Theresa May suffered the predicted humiliation in the Commons tonight and must now face the unpredictable consequences.

Following the showdown, the real question tonight is what the Prime Minister wants to do after losing and whether or not she will be able to get her way.

There is an almost unlimited number of possible scenarios of what might happen in the aftermath of tonight's defeat.

Britain is currently due to leave the EU on March 29 - but tonight's defeat could force a delay to the two year Article 50 process.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 15, 2019

Brexit victory was never an option for Theresa May — it was about how badly she would lose -- Samantha Hawley, ABC News Online

Brexit: What happens next? -- DW

Syria’s Kurds seek outside help to negotiate with regime -- Hossam Rabie, Al-Monitor

Is Turkey Capable of Defeating ISIS in Syria? -- Doug Bandow, National Interest

Learning from the Folly of Middle Eastern Regime Change -- Ted Galen Carpenter, National Interest

A new war rages in Myanmar -- David Scott Mathieson, Asia Times

Analysis: China pulling out all stops in Canada tensions -- Christopher Bodeen, AP

Is Xi Jinping’s Taiwan reunification push hastening a US-China clash? -- Shi Jiangtao, SCMP

How China Avoids War in the South China Sea -- Nicolai Fogth Gjøde Nielsen, National Interest

Australia's fortunes are linked to China's economy — for better or worse -- David Chau, ABC News Online

Japan and South Korea Must Focus on North Korea (Not Each Other) -- Sukjoon Yoon, National Interest

2019 Nigeria election: What you need to know -- Ineke Mules, DW

Huawei’s Poland spying case threatens China’s efforts to win over Eastern and Central Europe -- Shi Jiangtao, SCMP

The Naval Power Shift in the Black Sea -- Michael Petersen, War On The Rocks

There's no walking away from Islamic jihad -- Jeff Goodson, The Hill

World News Briefs -- January 15, 2019 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: Brexit bedlam: May's EU divorce deal crushed by 230 votes in parliament

LONDON (Reuters) - British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal by a crushing margin on Tuesday, triggering political chaos that could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU or even to a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave.

After parliament voted 432-202 against her deal, the worst defeat in modern British history, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn promptly called a vote of no confidence in May’s government, to be held at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the United Kingdom is now ensnared in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project that it joined in 1973.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

US, Turkish presidents discuss creating 'security zone' in northern Syria. Trump, Erdoğan discuss Syria after Trump threatens to 'devastate Turkey economically'.

Erdogan: Turkey to set up 'security zone' in Syria.

Rival groups refuse to meet in Yemen's Hodeidah, UN says.

Iran conducts failed satellite launch, despite US warning.

Iran could enrich uranium to 20 percent within four days: atomic chief.

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo says to visit Kuwait 'in coming days': KUNA.

Palestine launches bid for full UN membership despite US veto.

Rahaf Mohammed: Saudi teen says women 'treated like slaves'. Saudi teen refugee, now in Canada, wants to fight for other women.

ASIA

Taliban threaten to end talks with US on ending Afghan war.

Fatal blast rocks Afghan capital Kabul.

Japanese ex-commander: Kim Jong Un still building nuclear weapons.

North Korea no longer listed as 'enemy' in Seoul defense report. South Korea defense report doesn’t refer to North as enemy.

Chinese firms warned of overseas investment risks amid tensions with US and security threats from Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

China issues travel alert telling citizens they could be ‘arbitrarily detained’ in Canada a day after Ottawa issued similar warning.

Canada warns citizens about China’s ‘arbitrary enforcement of laws’ after drug smuggling death sentence.

AFRICA

Al-Shabab extremists claim deadly attack on Nairobi hotel.

Sudan police fire tear gas at protesters in capital.

South Sudan pursues fragile peace, but people remain wary.

SADC calls emergency meeting over disputed DR Congo election.

UN urges DR Congo to respect election outcome.

Congo Ebola epidemic becomes second-largest in history.

Zimbabwe protests turn deadly after petrol prices become most expensive in the world. Zimbabwe soldiers patrol streets after deadly protests.

Gabon's Bongo returns home after months abroad.

ICC acquits ex-Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo of war crimes.

EUROPE

Brexit bedlam: May's EU withdrawal deal crushed by 230 votes in parliament. UK Parliament votes overwhelmingly to reject Theresa May's Brexit deal with EU.

UK’s May faces no-confidence vote after Brexit plan crushed.

Pound rises after 'meaningful' Brexit vote.

German economic growth slowest for five years.

Seeking to quell Yellow Vest anger, Macron says some of the poor are just 'screwing around'.

'Hatred is becoming more visible': shocked Gdańsk mourns slain mayor.

Germany steps up monitoring of far-right AfD party.

Greek PM defends Macedonia deal ahead of confidence vote.

Moscow courts extends arrest for Ukrainian seamen.

AMERICAS

Democrats turn down White House invitation for shutdown talks.

Trump's pick for U.S. attorney general says he will not 'be bullied' by anybody.

Judge blocks Trump question on citizenship in US Census.

'We live in a crisis in Honduras': New US-bound caravan forms.

Head of anti-graft body offers to resign amid Guatemalan crisis.

El Chapo paid $100m bribe to former Mexican president Peña Nieto, witness says. Drug trafficker tells of bribe to ex-president of Mexico.

Brazil's Bolsonaro signs decree easing gun laws.

Venezuela Congress and U.S. government ratchet up pressure on Maduro.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Somali Islamists claim responsibility for deadly Nairobi hotel attack.

US-backed fighters seize east Syria village from IS: monitor.

Spain arrests 17 in ongoing Catalonia anti-terror operation.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall St rises after Netflix introduces record US price hike.

US Fed official says interest rates nearing final goal.

Huawei founder denies spying for China in rare interview.

Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert'.

U.K. Prime Minister May's Brexit Deal Overwhelmingly Defeated In Parliament - 432 Votes To 202





Daily Mail: 'What DO you want then?' May's scathing reply to MPs after they reject her Brexit deal by a crushing 230 votes - the biggest government defeat in history - as Britain's future hangs on crunch no-confidence motion TOMORROW

* Theresa May suffered massive House of Commons defeat on her Brexit deal in the long-awaited vote tonight
* Defeat by 230 votes was comfortably the biggest for a government in history, outstripping Labour in 1924
* DUP and Tory Eurosceptics joined Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and other parties against package
* Mrs May made a statement immediately after the vote tonight saying she would 'listen' but will not quit
* Jeremy Corbyn has immediately called a vote of no confidence in the government in a bid to force an election

Theresa May vowed to fight on tonight despite her Brexit deal being dramatically crushed in the biggest Commons defeat in history.

The PM's grip on power was left hanging by a thread after Tory rebels joined forces with Labour to trounce the plan by 432 votes to 202.

The majority of 230 was by far the biggest on record, higher than the 166 defeat for the Labour majority government in 1924. Cheering could be heard by crowds of protesters gathered outside Parliament as the news filtered through - while the EU expressed shock.

Read more ....

More News On U.K. Prime Minister May's Brexit Deal Being Overwhelmingly Defeated In Parliament

The Latest: EU leaders plan no-deal Brexit, leave door ajar -- AP
Brexit: Theresa May's deal is voted down in historic Commons defeat -- BBC
Theresa May loses Brexit deal vote by majority of 230 -- The Guardian
UK Parliament votes overwhelmingly to reject Theresa May's Brexit deal with EU -- France 24
Brexit deal proposed by Theresa May rejected by British Parliament, plunging UK into uncertainty -- ABC News Online
Theresa May’s Brexit plan rejected by British parliament -- RT
UK PM May's statement to parliament after Brexit vote defeat -- Reuters
UK’s May faces no-confidence vote after Brexit plan crushed -- AP
Labour calls General Election vote which could bring Theresa May down within 24 hours and overturn Brexit completely -- The SUN
Corbyn tables no confidence vote in May's Tory govt -- RT
Remain supporters rejoice outside Parliament as May's deal is crushed by 230 votes - while Leave voters ALSO celebrate and far-right 'Yellow Vest' is arrested -- Daily Mail
EU to step up planning for no-deal Brexit: Juncker, Michel -- Reuters
The EU calls for Brexit to be CANCELLED AFTER May's crushing defeat: Council President Donald Tusk says 'no one wants no deal' and asks 'who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is' -- Daily Mail
'Brexit chaos complete!' How the world reacted to news of Theresa May's Brexit humbling -- Daily Mail

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 15, 2019

The Sea Hunter, developed by DARPA, has launched the Navy down a path of developing a fleet of unmanned ships that could upend the way the Navy has fought since the Cold War. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)

Defense News: US Navy moves toward unleashing killer robot ships on the world’s oceans

WASHINGTON — The world’s largest navy has spent the last few years feeling like it was being put in check.

China and Russia have heavily invested in anti-access technologies aimed at holding its main force-projection assets — aircraft carriers — at risk. Now the U.S. Navy and the upper ranks of the military are preparing to take back control of the game board, and it’s looking to unmanned technologies to help.

The U.S. surface fleet has for the past few years sought to flip the script on actors such as China. The fleet aimed to move from a role of simply defending the carrier to going on the offensive.

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Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 15, 2019

Plan calls for US troop pullout from Syria to take months, bringing hundreds more troops in to assist -- AP

Trump suggested withdrawing US from NATO: report -- The Hill

Navy plans to deploy three littoral combat ships by this fall -- UPI

Raytheon taps Phoenix Products for Naval Strike Missile containers -- UPI

Major upgrades are on the way for the Army’s missiles, tanks and artillery -- Army Times

Army Moves Forward With Next-Gen Squad Rifle Program (Updated) -- National Defense

Pentagon extending mission of troops at southern border -- The Hill

Extended stay at border likely for US troops after Pentagon approves additional support -- CNN

Raytheon to equip classic Hornet with upgraded radar -- UPI

Space Force, F-15X, Light Attack: What Will the Air Force Seek in Latest Budget? -- Military.com

Coast Guard commandant confirms missed pay checks in letter to members -- The Hill

For the First Time in History, a US Military Service Is Working Without Pay -- Military.com

New leaders and budget, old wars and foes, worry Pentagon in 2019 -- Dov S. Zakheim, The Hill

New Pentagon Boss Doubles Down on the Hard Line Against China -- Michael Auslin, National Review

The American Military Sucks at Cybersecurity -- Matthew Gault, MotherBoard

U.S. Military Is Building Smarter Robots and Thinks Insects Might Be Key to New Artificial Intelligence -- Newsweek

U.S., Japan participate in joint deployment in East China Sea -- UPI

Chinese military rapidly closing gap, Pentagon warns -- Washington Times

Russia in 'material breach' of key nuclear treaty: US -- AFP

Russia upgrades the stealth on Su-57 fighter that's meant as an F-35, F-22 killer -- Business Insider

Pair of Chinese firms eye Subic Bay shipyard, causing alarm in the Philippines -- Stars and Stripes

Who is China targeting with its armed drones sales? -- Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet

France orders 28 upgraded Rafale warplanes for $2.3 billion -- UPI

France orders $2.3 billion upgrade for Rafale warplanes -- Defense News

Germany detains Bundeswehr employee for spying for Iran -- DW

Defence Secretary accused of ‘naked ambition’ over plans for new military bases -- Yahoo News/PA

South Korea to receive first two F-35A stealth jets in March -- UPI

New Israeli military chief pledges to lead ‘innovative’ army -- Seattle Times

New Israeli Military Chief Pledges to Lead 'Innovative' Army -- VOA/AP

China Warns India (and Other Countries) To Not Sell Submarine Tech To Taiwan

Khanderi, the second of Indian Navy Scorpene-class stealth submarines. (Photo by Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times)

Hindustan Times: China cautions India, US against helping Taiwan to produce submarines

There were reports that six foreign companies, including one from India, have already submitted design proposals for the submarines.

China on Monday firmly opposed transferring technology to Taiwan to make submarines, saying countries which have relations with Beijing should earnestly abide by the one China principle and stop any form of military links with Taipei.

Taiwan media last year reported that the US State Department had approved the transfer of technology that will allow Taiwan to produce its own submarines. There were reports that six foreign companies, including one from India, have already submitted design proposals for the submarines. Among the six companies, there are two from Europe, two from the US, as well as an Indian company and a Japanese firm offering designs for the submarines, the Taiwan News reported in October last year.

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More News On China Warning India (and Other Countries) To Not Sell Submarine Tech To Taiwan

China opposes Indian bid to supply submarine technology to Taiwan -- Times of India
China Warns US, India Against Transfer Of Defence Technology To Taiwan -- NDTV
Indian Bid To Supply Submarine Technology To Taiwan Receives A Strict ‘No’ From China -- Swarajya
China worries over Taiwan's submarine program, implores US, other nations not to provide tech -- Taiwan News

China Will Not Tolerate U.S. Involvement In Taiwan Affairs

General Li Zuocheng warned that China would defend its sovereignty at all costs. Photo: Handout

SCMP: China won’t tolerate interference in Taiwan, military chief warns US

* General Li Zuocheng also called for efforts to strengthen trust and communication and manage risks during meeting with US Navy commander Admiral John Richardson in Beijing
* Two military leaders have ‘deep exchange’ of views over the self-ruled island and the South China Sea, according to Chinese defence ministry

A top Chinese military official on Tuesday called for efforts to strengthen trust between China and the United States, but said Beijing would not tolerate “outside interference” in Taiwan affairs.

General Li Zuocheng, the PLA’s chief of the Joint Staff Department, made the remarks during a meeting with Admiral John Richardson, the US chief of naval operations, in Beijing.

Richardson is in China on a three-day visit that also includes a stop in the eastern city of Nanjing, headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command.

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Update: 'At any cost': China warns US Navy over Taiwan (AFP)

WNU Editor: Nothing but threats from China over Taiwan.

U.S. Democrat Representative: President Trump Pulling The U.S. Out Of NATO Is Grounds For Impeachment


The Hill: Dem rep: Trump pulling US from NATO would be grounds for impeachment

A Democratic member of the House warned Tuesday that any move by President Trump to exit NATO would be grounds for removal from office.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told CNN's "New Day" that Congress or the president's advisers would be forced to take "profound" action to prevent Trump from exiting the decades-old military alliance, formed following World War II.

"It had better be an idle threat from the president, because I think that act would be so destructive to our country and to our ability to protect the national security of every American that it would be a ground for some profound effort by our part, whether it is impeachment or the 25th Amendment," Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN.

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WNU Editor: President Trump believes that since NATO members are not fulfilling their promised obligations to NATO, a new arrangement must be found, even maybe exiting NATO. Is this debate off-limits now because it is grounds for impeachment? Currently most Democrats support staying in NATO, less so for Republicans .... NATO is seen favorably in many member countries, but almost half of Americans say it does too little (PEW Research).

New York Times: President Trump Raised Withdrawing The U.S. From NATO Several Times In 2018



CNBC: Trump reportedly said he wanted to pull the US from NATO multiple times last year

* U.S. President Donald Trump privately said a number of times in 2018 that he wanted the U.S. to leave NATO, according to the New York Times.
* The U.S. leader made headlines last year when he hinted that he could leave the defense bloc without Congressional approval before eventually saying that U.S. withdrawal was "unnecessary."
* Many fear NATO could fall apart if the world's largest economy is no longer a member.

U.S. President Donald Trump privately said several times last year that he wanted to withdraw his country from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The newspaper's findings, which cited unnamed senior administration officials, are likely to resurface worries of a breakdown in the military alliance that was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada and some European nations.

Those concerns were first sparked last year when the U.S. leader hinted that he could leave the 29-member defense bloc without Congressional approval. At the time, Trump was pushing member countries to increase spending. Since then, however, the Republican has backtracked on that threat.

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WNU Editor: This is old news. President Trump's views on NATO have been known for a long time, and his reasons why are also known Why support an alliance when its own members do not meet their commitments on their defense budgets, and in the case of Germany, sign multi-billion dollar energy agreements with Russia.

More News On President Trump's Saying They He Wants To Withdraw From NATO

Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia -- The New York Times
New York Times: Trump raised withdrawing the US from NATO several times in 2018 -- CNN
Trump repeatedly mulled leaving NATO military alliance, report claims -- USA Today
Trump suggested withdrawing US from NATO: report -- The Hill
NATO trashing Trump repeatedly pushed to pull out of anti-Russia alliance: report -- Washington Times

President Trump And Turkish President Erdogan Discuss Setting Up A 'Security Zone' In Syria



Al Jazeera: Erdogan, Trump consider setting up 'security zone' in Syria

Two leaders discuss situation in Syria over the phone amid growing tensions over the fate of US-allied Kurdish fighters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, have discussed the situation in northern Syria over the phone amid rising tensions over the fate of Kurdish fighters in the war-torn country.

The conversation on Monday came a day after Trump threatened on Twitter that he would "devastate" Turkey's economy if its forces attacked the US-backed Kurdish fighters, who helped Washington in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

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WNU Editor: On the ground the sentiment is that this U.S. withdrawal is going to take time, and only if certain conditions are met .... U.S. Allies in Syria Claim 'There Is No Withdrawal' and It's 'Merely a Media Decision' As Donald Trump Talks to Turkey (Newsweek)

More News On President Trump And Turkish President Erdogan Discussing Setting Up A 'Security Zone' In Syria

Erdogan, Trump consider creating security zone in Syria -- AFP
Trump speaks with Erdogan after threatening to 'devastate' Turkey's economy -- CNN
Trump Proposes Buffer Zone to Protect Syrian Troops from Turkey -- Military.com
Trump again warns Erdogan not to attack Kurds after Syria pullout -- Washington Examiner

Canada Issues Travel Warning On China. China Issues Its Own Travel Warnings



CTV: Canada updates China travel advisory: 'risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws'

Canada has officially updated its travel advisory for China, suggesting Canadians exercise a high degree of caution “due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

The move comes after diplomatic tensions escalated Monday when a Canadian citizen was sentenced to death.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who was initially arrested in 2014 and tried in 2016, was re-tried and sentenced to death for allegedly attempting to smuggle methamphetamine.

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Update #1: Canadians urged to exercise caution in China amid ‘arbitrary enforcement’ of laws -- Global News
Update #2: Canada issues travel warning for China amid 'crisis' over death sentence -- CNN

WNU Editor: China has issued its own travel warning, telling its state firms to avoid travel to Canada, U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. On a side note. Last month I posted a commentary on why Canada should issue a trade warning on China, and within the hour I received an email from a friend who works in Prime Minister Trudeau's government that I was over-reacting. Sighhh .... I know that the mandarins in Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs are clued  in on what is happening in China, the problem is the Prime Minister's Office. They are so focused on trying to get a free-trade deal with China, they are missing out on who they are really dealing with.

Iran's Satellite Launch Fails To Reach Orbit



The Independent: Iran fails to launch satellite into orbit after ignoring warnings from US

Washington concerned long-range ballistic technology could also be used to launch nuclear missiles

Iran’s attempt to launch a satellite failed to reach orbit, the country’s telecommunications minister has said.

The rocket carrying the Payam satellite failed to reach the “necessary speed” in the third stage of its launch, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi told Iranian state television.

Mr Jahromi said the rocket had successfully passed its first and second stages before developing problems in the third. He did not elaborate on what caused the failure, but promised that Iranian scientists would continue their work.

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More News On Today's Failed Satellite Launch By Iran

Iran satellite fails to reach orbit in US-criticized launch -- AP
Iran satellite launch, which U.S. warned against, fails -- Reuters
Iran satellite in US row fails to reach orbit: state media -- France 24
Iranian Satellite Launch Ends in Failure -- The New York Times
Despite US warning, Iran launches satellite and fails -- CNN
Iran satellite Payam fails to reach orbit -- DW
Iran launches satellite into space, fails: report -- Jerusalem Post
Iran says it's launched a satellite that didn't reach orbit -- Al Jazeera
Iran satellite in US row fails to reach orbit -- Phys.org

U.K. Prime Minister May Faces Major Government Defeat In Brexit Vote



Daily Mail: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox tears into 'childish' MPs for gambling with 'people's lives' and risking 'chaos' as May faces the worst defeat EVER in Commons showdown tonight - but vows to push on with her Brexit deal

* Theresa May faces a massive House of Commons defeat on her Brexit deal in the long-awaited vote tonight
* Feared defeat by 200-plus votes would be biggest for a government in history, outstripping Labour in 1924
* DUP and Tory Eurosceptics have confirmed they are against the package, while Labour opposition looks solid
* Mrs May is expected to make a statement immediately after the vote tonight but allies insist she will not quit
* The EU has offered new assurances that the Irish border backstop will be temporary amid hints of more talks
* Jeremy Corbyn is then expected to call a vote of no confidence in the government in a bid to force an election

Theresa May's supporters clashed brutally with critics of her Brexit deal today as she braced for the biggest Commons defeat in history.

The PM signalled defiance as she gathered her team despite fears that she is on track for catastrophic failure in the showdown tonight - with warnings the margin could be more than 200 votes.

And Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC launched an extraordinary assault on those opposing her plan during the Commons debate, accusing them of 'childish' behaviour and gambling with people's lives.

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WNU Editor: She says that she is not going to quit. But with her Brexit deal now on the verge of being re-soundly rejected, her options on trying to save her deal are (IMHO) zero.

More News On Today's Brexit Vote

Deal or no deal? UK Parliament nears historic vote on Brexit -- AP
Britain's May faces defeat in parliament over Brexit plan -- Reuters
Brexit vote: Juncker clears diary for possible emergency talks with May in Brussels – Politics live -- The Guardian
Theresa May facing crunch vote on her Brexit deal -- BBC