Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Chinese Navy Wants Robot Warships

Company representatives say China has a working prototype of the JARI USV, which is equipped like a mini DDG, but details beyond that are scant. (Photo by David B. Larter)

Defense News: China is working on killer robot ships of its own

ABU DHABI –The Chinese shipbuilder China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company is developing a small unmanned surface vessel that China wants to function essentially like the uninhabited baby brother of a U.S. Arleigh Burke destroyer.

The JARI USV is a 20-ton, 15-meter boat that is orders of magnitude smaller than the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s manned Type -55 destroyer but has all the same mission areas: anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-air warfare.

A model of the drone was on display at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi.

'The JARI comes equipped with electro-optical sensor atop a superstructure, a phased array radar, a dipping sonar, eight small vertical launch system cells, a torpedo launcher and a forward mounted machine gun and rocket launcher for counter-surface engagements, according to a model displayed at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference.

Read more ....

Update: The Next Chinese Naval Threat: Robot Warships? (David Axe, National Interest)

WNU Editor: The U.S. Navy is also building up its robot fleet .... The U.S. Navy Just Bought Four Giant Boeing Robot Submarines (February 15, 2019).

Report: The Best Hackers In The World Are From Russia

Russian Military Woos Young Computer Programmers. © RIA Novosti. Mikhail Fomitchev

NBC: Russian hackers 8 times faster than Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, says report

A new report from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike says hackers tied to Russian intelligence are quicker than North Koreans, Chinese, Iranians and criminals.

WASHINGTON — Experts have long said that the Russians are the most sophisticated among the many nation-state adversaries that are regularly hacking government and private computers in the United States.

Now, a leading cyber security firm has found a way to quantify that.

In its latest threat report, CrowdStrike — the company that discovered that the Russians had hacked he Democratic National Committee — finds that Russian intelligence hackers are quicker and more nimble than the North Koreans, the Chinese, the Iranians and sophisticated criminals.

CrowdStrike measured what it calls "breakout time" — the speed at which a hacking group can break into a network and start stealing data. That speed is important because intrusions are being detected and stopped faster than ever before. The faster the hackers can smash and grab, the more data they can steal.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The company behind this report is CrowdStrike, a company that has its own share of critics .... More Doubts That Russian Intelligence Was Involved In Last Year's DNC Hack (August 11, 2017). As to what nation-state has the best hackers? The answer is an easy one. It is the U.S. intelligence community.

Editor's Note

Stuck in meetings this morning. Blogging will return later today.

Did Russia Lose A Batch Of Top-Of-The-Line S-400 Surface-To-Air Missile Systems When The Ship That Was Carrying Them Lost Them In A Storm?

Warzone/The Drive: Is A Batch Of Russia's Most Advanced Surface To Air Missiles Sitting On The Sea Floor?

A Russian official confirmed an entire shipment of top-of-the-line interceptors for the S-400 surface-to-air missile system never made it to China.

Russia has confirmed that it did indeed sell long-range 40N6 surface-to-air missiles to China as part of a sale of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. At the same time, the Russians have revealed that none of those interceptors ever reached their destination after the ship carrying them got caught in a storm that resulted in the loss of the entire shipment, possibly with some of the missiles physically going overboard into the sea.

On Feb. 18, 2019, Sergei Chemezov, the CEO of the state-owned industrial conglomerate Rostec, which includes the state-run arms broker Rosoboronexport, offered up the new information at a press conference at the 2019 International Defense Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) in the United Arab Emirates. Aviation Week’s Defense Editor and our good friend Steve Trimble Tweeted out a full transcript of the exchange.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is huge global demand for these missiles, with orders backed-up till 2025 (see link here).

President Trump Warns Venezuela's Military To Abandon Maduro Or 'Lose Everything'

Reuters: Trump urges Venezuelan military to abandon Maduro or 'lose everything'

MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela’s military who remain loyal to socialist President Nicolas Maduro that they are risking their future and their lives and urged them to allow humanitarian aid into the country.

Speaking to a cheering crowd mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants in Miami, Trump said if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.”

Maduro retaliated late on Monday that Trump’s speech was “nazi-style” and said he acted as if he were the owner of Venezuela and its citizens his slaves.

Read more ....

More News On The Crisis In Venezuela

Donald Trump to Venezuela's military: 'accept amnesty or lose everything' -- DW
Trump Delivers Blunt Warning to Venezuela Military Over Aid Impasse -- The New York Times
Trump declares 'socialism is dying' amid Venezuela 'catastrophe,' promises 'this will never happen to us' -- FOX News
WATCH: Trump says ‘all options are open’ on Venezuela -- PBS
Maduro regime rejects aid, claims it's sending food to Colombia -- CNN
Colombian city braces for showdown as US military aircraft deliver aid on Venezuelan border -- Stars and Stripes/Washington Post
Venezuela: Colombian city prepares for showdown over US humanitarian aid at border -- The Independent
Venezuela denies EU lawmakers entry -- DW
Pressure Grows on Europe to Back Venezuelan Opposition Leader -- VOA
Venezuela in crisis: Seven stories to get up-to-date -- Al Jazeera

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

Japan's first female Defence Minister Yuriko Koike (L, black suits) reacts to a salute from officers as she inspects a Japanese Maritime Defence Force naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, 9 July 2007. Koike replaced former Defence chief Fumio Kyuma after his saying the 1945 nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima "couldn't be helped". © AFP 2018 / Jiji Press/Stringer

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Ladies Leading the Charge: Female Defence Ministers From All Around the Globe (Sputnik).

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's Political Crisis Widens As Top Aide And Friend Resigns

CBC: Gerald Butts resigns as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's principal secretary

In a major shakeup to the highest ranks of the Prime Minister's Office, Gerald Butts resigned Monday as Justin Trudeau's principal secretary.

The bombshell departure — Butts, along with chief of staff Katie Telford, are the two most senior staffers in Trudeau's inner circle — comes amid allegations that senior members of the PMO pressured former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to help Quebec-based multinational engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution on bribery and fraud charges in relation to contracts in Libya.

In a statement to reporters, Butts said he categorically denies allegations that he or anyone else in the PMO put this sort of pressure on Wilson-Raybould. He said the accusation is "simply not true."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If nothing is wrong .... why is the Trudeau government hiding behind privilege that does not permit the major players in this scandal the freedom to talk, and why the major resignations? It does not take a genius to know that there is more to this story than what is being told. As to what is my take. It looks like senior officials in the Prime Minister's office put pressure on the attorney general to make a deal on a criminal case involving a major Quebec corporation, and when she refused she was fired from her job.

More News On The SNC-Lavalin Scandal In Quebec

Trudeau's principal secretary Gerald Butts resigns -- CTV
Canada PM's chief secretary resigns amid SNC-Lavalin controversy -- Reuters
Justin Trudeau's top adviser resigns as 'political meddling' scandal widens -- The Guardian/AP
5 things to know about Gerald Butts, following his resignation from the PMO -- CBC
The hole that Gerry Butts leaves behind -- Stephen Maher, Macleans
Trudeau vulnerable in fall election amid growing damage from SNC-Lavalin file -- Chantal Hébert, Toronto Star
If no one did anything wrong why two resignations and a PMO in crisis mode? -- Kelly McParland, National Post

Monday, February 18, 2019

The 'Boneyard' Is A Busy Place

Planes from all five branches of the military, NASA, and the US Forest Service are stored at AMARG. (Fox News)

FOX News: 'Boneyard' in the desert recycles, refurbishes over 3,000 military-grade planes from military, NASA

TUCSON, Ariz. -- It's nicknamed the Boneyard. It sits on 2,600 acres of desert land, with more than 3,000 military aircraft on the Air Force’s Davis-Monthan Base. It's more than a retirement home for planes from all five branches of the military, NASA, and the U.S. Forest Service. It's a sort of memorial with multiple uses. Many of the planes are scrapped for parts and some completely refurbished.

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) is the only place in the country authorized to store military-grade planes.

“We’re looked at as a national air power reservoir…How do you make sure that what you’re keeping there is what’s of value to the service,” said Col. Jennifer Barnard, commander of the 309th AMARG. “So, there’s a really rigorous process by which it’s determined the assets should be stored here and what needs to come out of here, as well.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A scavenger's dream.

The Kissing Sailor In Famous World War II Photo Dies At 95

NBC: George Mendonsa, Navy veteran identified as 'kissing sailor' in WWII photo, dies at 95

"He was very proud of his service and the picture and what it stood for," Mendonsa's daughter said Monday.

George Mendonsa, a World War II veteran whose claim of being a sailor kissing a nurse in an iconic image was verified using facial recognition technology, died early Sunday, his daughter said. He was 95.

Mendonsa was living in an assisted living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island, and had been suffering from severe congestive heart failure, daughter Sharon Molleur told NBC News. He would have turned 96 on Tuesday, she added.

Mendonsa, a retired fisherman, had maintained for years that he was the sailor locking lips in a picture taken on Aug. 14, 1945, by Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in Life magazine as a scene from "V-J Day in Times Square." On that day, Americans crowded the streets to celebrate the Japanese surrender to the Allies and the end of the war.

The photo has become one of the most enduring images of the 20th century. But when it was published in Life, there was no caption confirming the identities of the pair.

Read more ....

Update: George Mendonsa, The Kissing Sailor in famous photograph, dies at 95 (The Guardian)

WNU Editor: George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman may be gone, but their picture will live forever.

ISIS Wives Now Want To Return To Their Homes In The West

ABC News Online: Shamima Begum, UK schoolgirl who joined Islamic State in Syria, asks to bring baby home

A British teenager who ran away to join Islamic State and now wants to return to the United Kingdom has given birth to a baby boy in a Syrian refugee camp.

Shamima Begum, 19, and the baby are in good health, according to her family's lawyer.

Speaking to Britain's Sky News from Syria, where she has been living in a refugee camp, Ms Begum said she did not know what she was getting into when she left and wants to bring her baby back to Britain with her.

"I think a lot of people should have sympathy towards me for everything I've been through," she said in an interview broadcast on Sunday (local time).

Read more ....

Update: US woman 'deeply regrets' joining ISIL, wants to return home (Al Jazeera)

WNU Editor: Russia brought back home the wives and children of ISIS fighters. I have doubts that the West will be that generous.

US-Taliban Meeting in Pakistan Cancelled

U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, center, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Afghan media at the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan Jan. 28, 2019.

VOA: US-Taliban Meeting in Pakistan Cancelled

ISLAMABAD — An upcoming meeting in Pakistan between a delegation of the United States and Taliban representatives has been cancelled, according to information coming from both sides.

A Taliban leader confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that the meeting was cancelled, “by the Americans.” A Taliban statement issued later in the day said the talks were postponed because many members of its 14 person negotiating team were unable to go overseas since they are on "the US and UN blacklist." Several of them are on the U.N. Security Council sanctions list which bars them from international travel.

Read more ....

More News On An Upcoming U.S. - Taliban Meeting Being Cancelled

Taliban say unable to attend Pakistan talks; blame travel blacklist -- Dawn/AP
Taliban Calls Off Planned Pakistan Meeting That Angered Afghans -- RFE
Cancellation of Pakistan Trip Revives Debate Over Taliban’s Ability to Travel -- The New York Times
Taliban cancel Imran Khan meet after Kabul complaint -- The National

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 18, 2019


Daniel R. DePetris, National Interest: North Korea: What Happens if Diplomacy Fails?

The good news: We have options other than a "bloody nose."

Diplomacy with North Korea looks like it’s moving in the right direction.

Chief U.S. negotiator Stephen Biegun is no longer being shunned by his North Korean counterparts. President Donald Trump is tweeting as if peace is just around the bend. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is openly talking about the desire of the United States to realize not just Pyongyang’s denuclearization but also peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

There is plenty that can go right, but there is also a lot that can go wrong. This is North Korea after all, a country whose leadership is inherently distrustful of American intentions regardless of who the president happens to be. So, as we hope for the best, the Trump administration needs to plan for the worst—and planning for the worst means settling a Plan B in the likely event the nuclear talks end in stalemate.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 18, 2019

What Caused the International Impasse Over Iran's Missile Program? -- Alireza Ahmadi, National Interest

AP Explains: What are India’s options after Kashmir attack -- Ashok Sharma, AP

Ahead of Hanoi summit, N Korea faces 'turning point': State media -- Al Jazeera

The looming Taiwan crisis -- Richard N. Haass, The Strategist

New Zealand bans Huawei, China has message for New Zealand -- Meaghan Tobin, SCMP

Bet on Trump to fold in China trade talks -- William Pesek, Asia Times

Africa's debt crises not the fault of creditors alone -- Silja Fröhlich, DW

Nigeria's postponed vote: What happens now? -- Ineke Mules. DW

Libya remains a battleground eight years after Gaddafi revolt -- Al Jazeera

Does Catalan crisis threaten to make Spain ‘ungovernable’? -- Joseph Wilson, AP

Tearing at Europe's core: Why France and Italy are at loggerheads -- Luigi Scazzieri, CER

The SNC-Lavalin Affair Is Overblown, but Liberals Still Bungled It -- Conrad Black, National Post

The Incredible Miscalculation by Trudeau and Co. -- Stephen Maher, Maclean's

No more BMWs or Mercs on Fifth Avenue? -- Anne Schwedt, DW

The sixth mass extinction, explained -- The Week

World News Briefs -- February 18, 2019

CNN: Commander of US-backed forces fighting ISIS asks US to keep troops in Syria

The commander of the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces is asking the US and its coalition partners to provide air support and keep up to 1,500 troops in Syria as part of an effort to stabilize the country.

"I feel that American forces must remain inside of Syria," General Mazloum told reporters, speaking through an interpreter, "we don't want them to leave Syria ... but in the end, it is an American decision."

"The withdrawal of American forces in the middle of the fight is something unfortunate," he added.

The SDF commander made his comments during a visit to Northern Syria by Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, which oversees all US military operations in the region.

Read more ....


US-backed Syria force says IS territorial defeat is near.

Commander of US-backed Syrian forces calls for 1,500 troops to stay.

Syria: SDF calls for help with 'time bomb' ISIL fighters.

Twin bombings kill at least 15 people in Syria's Idlib city.

Erdogan: NATO gives arms to 'terrorists' but not to Turkey.

Yemen's warring sides agree to pullback from Hodeidah: UN.

Thousands in Iran attend funeral for slain Guard members.

Iran presses Europe to defy US and stay in nuke pact.

Netanyahu secretly met Morocco's foreign minister: Report.

Saudi crown prince orders release of 2,100 Pakistani prisoners.


Nine killed in Kashmir gun battle days after deadly attack.

Pakistan recalls India envoy amid tensions over Kashmir attack.

Retired Indian general urges caution against Pakistan strike.

India deploys additional army units along Myanmar border as threat escalates.

Maldives court orders arrest of ex-President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

US, North Korea mull exchange of liaison officers: report.

Kim Jong Un could travel to Vietnam by train.

China accuses US of trying to block its tech development after accusations Huawei is a security threat.

China's Communist Party requires millions of people to tune into 'Xi Jinping thought' every day.

Russia's Far East gas to start China deliveries by December.


Nigeria’s candidates blame each other in surprise vote delay.

MSF says UN failed civilians in Central African Republic attack.

Libya marks 8th anniversary of revolution.

In Libya's former jihadist hotbed, residents hope for a better future.

Massive deforestation by refugees in Uganda sparks clashes with local people.

Zimbabwe opposition figure fined for claiming poll win.

Kenya recalls ambassador to Somalia over water rights clash.


Britain's Labour splits over Brexit and anti-Semitism.

Israeli-European summit canceled after Holocaust remarks about Poland.

EU parliament's centrist coalition set to lose majority, poll finds.

EU foreign ministers discuss taking back 'IS' fighters, Venezuela and Yemen.

Merkel defends Iran deal, multilateralism but Pence resists.

Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond scraps China trip amid plans to deploy new UK aircraft carrier to Pacific.

Bulgarian nationalists march in honor of pro-Nazi general.

Britain's cybersecurity chiefs say Huawei risks can be 'managed'.


Trump: 'Disgraced' McCabe, Rosenstein look like they were planning 'very illegal act'. Trump lashes out at 'treasonous' officials after McCabe interview.

Trump urges Venezuelan military to desert 'Cuban puppet' Maduro .

US willing to meet Maduro as military helps deliver aid to Venezuela. US military planes land near Venezuela border with aid.

Venezuela’s Juan Guaido calls for nationwide protests to allow US aid to enter.

Venezuela government plans own concert to oppose Guaido's aid event.

Venezuela crisis: More migrants cross into Brazil amid standoff.

Haitians seek water, food as businesses reopen after protests.

5 Americans arrested in Haiti as violent protests continue.

Canada PM Justin Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts quits, accused of meddling in bribery investigation.

Canadian missionaries, nurses, tourists evacuated from Haiti.


'Not responding to Trump's demands': France snubs US call to repatriate Jihadis.

Germany mulls US demand to take back 'IS' fighters captured in Syria.

English-speaking narrator behind Daesh propaganda videos captured – Report.


Oil gains as investors grow optimistic over OPEC output deal.

EU threatens ‘swift and adequate’ action if Trump imposes tariffs on imported cars.

It’s China’s Huawei against the world as spying concerns mount.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 18, 2019

U.S. Marines unload vehicles and equipment as they prepare for the NATO-led Exercise Trident Juncture in 2015. (Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/U.S. Army)

Defense News: Sphere of influence: US military budget drives arming of the West

COLOGNE, Germany — The Pentagon is front and center in driving worldwide military spending to new heights, pulling Europe along in its wake, according to a new study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“Defense budgets are growing again in the West,” said Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, a research fellow for defense economics and procurement with the London-based think tank. Pentagon spending under President Donald Trump is “pushing global numbers up,” she told Defense News.

The increase is fueled by U.S. and European perceptions of future threats emanating from China and Russia, she said.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 18, 2019

Trump’s ‘Arab NATO’ withers on the vine -- Defense News

Draper awarded $191M for Trident missile guidance system -- UPI

Boeing to deliver two F-18 Super Hornets to Navy for $17.8M -- UPI

Navy Proposing Bold Changes in How it Teaches Sailors in New Education Plan -- USNI News

Air Force May Lose Credibility With Industry Over Light Attack Decision -- RCD

Army Picks BAE Jammer To Kill Russian Missiles (Softly) -- Breaking Defense

New Army rifle offers more versatility in combat -- Stars and Stripes

Army calls base housing hazards 'unconscionable,' details steps to protect families -- The Hill

Marines Need $3.5 Billion for Camp Lejeune Repairs, Despite MILCON Cuts for Border Spending -- USNI News

US Secretary of Defense Shanahan says he hasn’t determined amount for border wall -- AP

US Military Releases Its Artificial Intelligence Strategy -- VOA

U.S., Australia, Britain conduct training aviation exercise in Nevada -- UPI

US steps up freedom of navigation patrols in South China Sea to counter Beijing’s ambitions -- SCMP

Submarine arms race seen heating up in Indo-Pacific amid ‘great threat’ from China -- SCMP

China is working on killer robot ships of its own -- Defense News

The Chinese Military Speaks to Itself, Revealing Doubts -- Dennis J. Blasko, War On The Rocks

Chinese military institute puts focus on ‘urgent needs’ of frontline troops -- SCMP

Xi Signs Order to Boost China’s 2 Mln Army Training Efficiency – Report -- Sputnik

40 years on, Chinese veterans defy official silence to remember the Vietnam border war -- SCMP

Germany's Angela Merkel makes arms export pact with France -- DW

Taking sides: Italian defense industry rep attacks Franco-German fighter deal -- Defense News

Riyadh's SAMI Agrees to Joint Venture With French Naval Group to Build Warships -- Sputnik

United Arab Emirates announces $1.3 billion in defense deals at IDEX -- Defense News

Saudi's military company eyes $10 billion revenue in next five years -- Reuters

Nigerian President Buhari: Military to Be 'Ruthless' Against Election Tampering -- VOA

Four Zimbabwe Generals Retired in Mnangagwa's First Purge of Military -- VOA

In Pursuit of a General Theory of Proxy Warfare -- Amos C. Fox, RCD

What Would Happen If India And Pakistan Waged A Nuclear War?


Zachary Keck, National Interest: What Could Happen if India and Pakistan Wage a Nuclear War

Billions Dead: That's What Could Happen if India and Pakistan Wage a Nuclear War

This is the real nuclear crisis the world is missing.

Armed with what they believe is reasonable intelligence about the locations of Pakistan’s strategic forces, highly accurate missiles and MIRVs to target them, and a missile defense that has a shot at cleaning up any Pakistani missiles that survived the first strike, Indian leaders might be tempted to launch a counterforce first strike.

With the world’s attention firmly fixated on North Korea, the greatest possibility of nuclear war is in fact on the other side of Asia.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: To me the outcome is very clear. In the event of a nuclear between India and Pakistan .... the nuclear fires and subsequent dust-cloud will destroy the infrastructure that provides the necessities of life to one and a half billion people. We would be witnessed to the biggest migration of peoples never been seen in human history.

The Security Situation Continues To Deteriorate Between Pakistan And India Because Of Kashmir

New York Times: Kashmir Militants Kill Again as Trouble Grows Between India and Pakistan

NEW DELHI — Militants in Kashmir struck again on Monday, killing an Indian Army major and at least three other soldiers just days after orchestrating a devastating bombing that left dozens of Indian security forces dead.

Fears are now rising that Kashmir, a disputed region that lies between India and its regional rival, Pakistan, could be sliding into an especially deadly phase again.

Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan are breaking down; Kashmiri students are being rounded up and attacked; other young people have been charged with sedition for criticizing the Indian Army; and Indians are lashing out at Pakistani civilians, including Bollywood actors.

The recent violence in Kashmir — a majority Muslim region that is mostly controlled by India, a predominantly Hindu nation — has uncapped a wave of jingoism that is sweeping across India. The orange, white and green national flag is going up everywhere, and many people say they want revenge.

Read more ....

More News On The Security Situation Continuing To Deteriorate Between Pakistan And India

Six More Killed in Kashmir as India-Pakistan Tensions Rise -- Bloomberg
Kashmir: Several dead in clashes between Indian army and militants -- DW
Nine killed in Kashmir gun battle days after deadly attack -- Al Jazeera
Pakistan recalls India envoy amid tensions over Kashmir attack -- Al Jazeera

U.K. Labor Party Faces A Revolt With The Resignation Of Seven MPs

BBC: Seven MPs leave Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership

Seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

Ms Berger said Labour had become institutionally anti-Semitic and she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to stay.

Mr Corbyn said he was "disappointed" the MPs had felt unable to continue working for the policies that "inspired millions" at the 2017 election.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the "honourable thing for them to do" would be to stand down as MPs and seek to return to Parliament in by-elections.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They are not going to be the last to leave the party .... The first step for Labour's exiles: bring 29 more with them (The Guardian).

More News On Seven MPs Resigning From The U.K. Labor Party

So who will be next to join the Independent Group? Senior Tory REFUSES to rule out joining 'gang of seven' MPs who have quit 'anti-Semitic' Labour - as even Corbyn's own DEPUTY says he doesn't recognise the party anymore -- Daily Mail
Seven UK lawmakers resign from Labour party citing 'Brexit,' 'bullying' and 'anti-Semitism' -- CNBC
Seven lawmakers quit UK Labour Party citing Brexit 'betrayal', anti-Semitism -- Reuters
Brexit fractures Britain's 'hijacked' opposition party -- Euronews/AP/NBC
Seven members of UK Labour Party quit over Brexit, anti-Semitism concerns -- The Hill

French Colonel Condemns U.S. Military Tactics Against ISIS In Syria

French and American forces offload supplies in Syria's Euphrates River Valley in May 2018. Image: French Armed Forces General Staff/Etat-Major Armees/Twitter

Middle East Monitor: French colonel slams US tactics against Daesh in Syria

A senior French officer faces punishment after publicly condemning the US-led coalition’s military tactics against Daesh in the east of Syria, accusing Washington of prolonging the conflict and disregarding a growing civilian death toll, the army said on Saturday.

Colonel Francois-Regis Legrier – who has been in charge of directing French artillery supporting Kurdish-led groups in Syria since October – said the coalition’s focus had been on limiting its own risks and this had greatly increased the death toll among civilians, as well as raised the level of destruction.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The French colonel probably has a point, but he is underestimating the lack of political and public will in the U.S. for any American casualties in Syria. A ground offensive over the use of artillery and fighter bombers may have ended the conflict quickly, but the casualties would have been high.

U.S.-Backed Syrian Forces Are Calling For 1,000 To 1,500 Coalition Troops To Stay

SDF members stand together near Baghouz, Deir Az Zor province, last week [File: Rodi Said/Reuters]

Reuters: U.S.-backed Syrian forces call for 1,500 coalition troops to stay

AIRBASE IN NORTHEAST SYRIA (Reuters) - The commander of U.S.-backed forces in Syria called on Monday for about 1,000 to 1,500 international forces to remain in Syria to help fight Islamic State and expressed hope that the United States, in particular, would halt plans for a total pullout.

The remarks by Mazloum Kobani, the commander-in-chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, followed talks with senior U.S. generals in Syria and offered perhaps the most comprehensive view to date of his requests for an enduring military assistance from the U.S.-led coalition.

It also shows that Kobani is still holding out hope that U.S. President Donald Trump may soften his withdrawal order, which has been criticized by allies at home and abroad and which triggered the resignation of Trump’s defense secretary.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: U.S.-backed Syrian forces are also pleading for help on what to to with about 800 foreign jihadist prisoners. This also includes around 700 of the fighters' wives and 1,500 of their children .... U.S.-backed Syria force seeks help with Islamic State prisoner 'time bomb' (Reuters).

ISIS Militants Besieged In Their Last Syrian Stronghold Are Requesting Safe Passage To Rebel-Held Idlib Province

Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. troops are seen during a patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria Nov. 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rodi Said/Files

The Hill: ISIS militants refuse surrender, attempt to negotiate exit

Hundreds of militants fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are refusing to surrender in the Syrian village of Baghouz despite being surrounded by U.S.-aligned Syrian forces.

The Associated Press reports that militants in the village are surrounded by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) troops, but are refusing to surrender and are requesting passage to the rebel-held Idlib province in the northwestern part of the country.

Read more ....

Update #1: Besieged IS militants refuse to surrender, ask for an exit (FOX News/AP)
Update #2: More Than 300 ISIS Militants Refuse To Surrender To US-Backed Syrian Forces, Try To Negotiate Exit (Daily Caller)

WNU Editor: It must be tempting for the SDF to make a deal, and have these militants go to Idlib province where in the end they will the Syrian government's problem. My prediction. They will make a deal.

The U.S. Navy's First Stealthy Zumwalt Class Destroyer Is Getting Some 30mm Guns

DDG-1000 seen with her new 30mm cannons installed while in port in San Diego. MrWasabi

Warzone/The Drive: Navy's First Stealthy Zumwalt Class Destroyer Photographed With 30mm Guns Fitted

The 30mm Bushmasters don't come without controversy. The ship was originally slated to get much more capable 57mm guns housed in stealthy enclosures.

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) has been undergoing trials and combat systems outfitting in and around her home port of San Diego. The ship's metamorphosis into an operational combat ship is something we have been following closely. Recently, we reported on additions to her stealthy frame that would only hurt the size of radar signature. These included an exposed mast and a number of communications aerials bolted directly onto her deckhouse instead of being integrated into it seamlessly. Now, a new photo shows her fitted with twin 30mm Bushmaster cannons for the very first time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These guns have a range of only 2 miles.

Tweets For Today

Editor's Note

The computer that I use for this blog has a nasty virus on it. As a precaution I am now formatting my drive and reinstalling my software. I should be back to blogging in a few hours.

60 Minutes Interview With Former Acting FBI Director Andrwe McCabe

Andrew McCabe. 60 Minutes CBS

CBS 60 Minutes: Andrew McCabe: The full 60 Minutes interview

Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe tells 60 Minutes about taking over for James Comey, starting investigations of President Trump, interactions with the president and his own firing

Tonight you will hear for the first time from the man who ordered the FBI investigations of the president. Former Acting Director Andrew McCabe is about to describe behind-the-scenes chaos in 2017, after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. In the days that followed, McCabe says that law enforcement officials discussed whether to secretly record a conversation with the president and whether Mr. Trump could be removed from office through invoking the 25th Amendment. McCabe is the first person present in those meetings to describe them publicly.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Justice Department is denying Andrew McCabe's allegations. As for McCabe's allegation that President Trump has an affinity for Russian President Putin .... I do not know where McCabe is coming from in making such an assessment, but that assessment is wrong. When you look at President Trump's push for tighter Russian sanctions, weapons to Ukraine, pushing NATO to buildup, opposition to North Stream II, termination of nuclear missile agreements, and letting the oil industry expand to levels that are severely damaging the revenues that oil producing nations like Russia make .... President Trump is no friend of Russia or Putin ..... not even close. So how did McCabe misjudged President Trump?  He has spent a life time in government working with officials and politicians. But it is clear to me that he never worked with someone like President Trump, who is in every way not a career politician. For his actions Andrew McCabe's career is over, and he now faces serious legal problems for lying to the FBI. The future is not going to be good for him.

Picture Of The Day

A protester jumps over a burning barricade during a protest against the government in the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 10 February 2019. © REUTERS / Jeanty Junior Augustin

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... This Week in Pictures: 8 - 15 February (Sputnik)

Data Leak Exposes Vast Hi-Tech Chnese Surveillance Operation In Xinjiang

The Chinese government has ramped up personal surveillance in Xinjiang over recent years. Photo: AFP

SCMP: China data leak exposes vast hi-tech surveillance operation in Xinjiang

* Dutch researcher says tracking firm left database of personal details unprotected for months

A Chinese surveillance firm is tracking the movements of more than 2.5 million people in the far-western Xinjiang region, according to a data leak flagged by a Dutch internet expert.

An online database containing names, ID card numbers, birth dates and location data was left unprotected for months by Shenzhen-based facial-recognition technology firm SenseNets Technology, according to Victor Gevers, co-founder of non-profit organisation GDI.Foundation, who first noted the vulnerability in a series of social media posts last week.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is a good article on how extensive China's surveillance operation is throughout the country .... Leave no dark corner (ABC News Online).

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Iran Unveils Its New 'Cruise Missile Capable' Submarine

Daily Mail: Iran launches its new 'cruise missile capable' submarine amid heightening tensions with the US

* The 600-tonne submarine can operate for 35 days beneath the surface at depths of up to 600 feet
* Iranian media said the new vessel was made domestically and is capable for firing cruise missiles
* The vessel, named Fatah - Farsi for Conqueror - is also equipped with naval mines as well as torpedoes
* President Hassan Rouhani said today's launch means Iran is self sufficient on land, in the air and at sea

Iran has launched a new submarine it built itself which it claims is capable for firing cruise missiles amid heightened tensions with the United States.

The new vessel, named Fateh - Farsi for 'Conqueror' - was launched by President Hassan Rouhani in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas.

She show of strength comes as relations between Tehran and Washington are tense following President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris nuclear accord.

Read more ....

More News On Iran Unveiling Its New Cruise Missile-Equipped Fateh Submarine

Iran unveils new submarine armed with cruise missiles -- Tehran Times
PHOTOS: Iran unveils Fateh submarine equipped with cruise missiles -- Payvand Times
Iran launches cruise missile equipped Fateh submarine -- DW
Iran Unveils Missile-equipped Submarine Capable of Reaching Israel -- Haretz/AP
Iran launches 'cruise missile capable' submarine -- AFP
Iran presents new Fateh submarine armed with cruise missile -- Express Tribune/Reuters
Rouhani unveils Iran's cruise missile-equipped Fateh submarine -- Al Jazeera

Islamic State Claims Sinai Attack That Killed/Wounded 15 Egyptian Soldiers

Military armoured vehicle securing worshippers outside a mosque in Bir Al-Abed, northern Sinai, Egypt, December 1, 2017.Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Times of Israel/AFP: Egypt: 7 Sinai jihadists killed, 15 soldiers dead or wounded in attack

Army spokesman says troops engaged in an ‘exchange of fire’ with gunmen at checkpoint in restive North Sinai, where forces are battling IS

CAIRO — Egypt’s army said Saturday seven suspected jihadists were “eliminated” and 15 soldiers killed or wounded in an attack in the Sinai Peninsula, where troops are fighting the Islamic State jihadist group.

Security forces responded to the attack on a checkpoint in restive North Sinai with an “exchange of fire,” army spokesman Tamer el-Refai said in a statement.

“An officer and 14 non-commissioned soldiers were killed or wounded,” he added, without giving a precise number for the dead.

Medical sources in North Sinai told AFP that 11 soldiers were killed in the attack.

Read more ....

More News On Yesterday's Islamic State Attack That Killed/Wounded 15 Egyptian Soldiers In The Sinai

ISIS claims North Sinai attack, says 20 Egyptian troops killed -- Al Arabiya/Reuters
Militant attack kills and wounds 15 soldiers in Egypt's Sinai -- The National
N. Sinai Terrorist Attack on Egyptian Military Results in 15 Casualties -- VOA
Egypt's military kills 7 terrorists in a shootout in North Sinai: Spox -- Ahram Online

Iran's Foreign Minister Accuses Israel And The U.S. Of Seeking War

Reuters: Iran's Zarif accuses Israel, U.S. of seeking war

MUNICH (Reuters) - Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its actions and those of the United States were increasing the chances of a clash in the region.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also criticized the U.S. administration after Vice President Mike Pence this week called on European powers to pullout of the nuclear deal with Iran. Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save that accord.

“Certainly, some people are looking for war ... Israel,” Zarif said. “The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law.”

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region.

Read more ....

More News On Iran's Foreign Minister Accusing Israel And The U.S. Of Seeking War

Iran's Zarif accuses Israel, US of seeking war -- CNBC/Reuters
Iran and Israel trade rebukes at Munich Security Conference -- DW
Israel ‘looking for war’ as US seeks to overthrow our government, says Iranian foreign minister -- The Independent
Iranian FM: Risk of war with Israel is great -- Arutz Sheva/AFP
Iranian FM Zarif says Israel 'looking for war' -- Al Jazeera
Iran says greater risk of war with Israel, launches new cruise missile sub -- Jerusalem Post
Iran’s Zarif says there is ‘great risk’ of war with Israel -- Times of Israel

US - Europe Rift Wide Open At Munich Security Talks

France 24: Trump-era US Europe rift wide open at Munich security talks

The United States and European powers voiced sharply differing views on issues from Mideast security to trade Saturday, laying bare a deep trans-Atlantic rift in the era of President Donald Trump.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders at a three-day international security conference voiced dismay at a range of Trump decisions deemed hostile to America's NATO allies.

In one awkward moment Friday, US Vice President Mike Pence said he was bringing greetings from Trump, only to be met with stony silence from a room full of national leaders, ministers and generals.

Merkel said a looming new shot expected in a trade war -- Washington readying to declare European car imports a "national security threat" -- was "frightening", speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

Read more ....

More News On The Munich Security Talks

US differences with Europe get full airing at Munich meet -- The National
Frank Talk at the Munich Security Conference -- Daily Signal
Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forum -- Reuters
Russia open for talks with US on New START extension, says foreign minister -- TASS
China Rebuffs Germany's Call for US Missile Deal With Russia -- VOA
China, US trade barbs over Huawei and South China Sea at Munich conference -- SCMP
Germany's Merkel Warns U.S. Against Withdrawing From Syria, Afghanistan -- RFE
Angela Merkel criticises US isolationism, urging 'win-win solutions' -- The Guardian
Zarif Condemns U.S. Efforts To Persuade Allies To Pull Out Of Iran Deal -- RFE
Iran and Israel trade rebukes at Munich Security Conference -- DW
Swiss Defence Minister: Swiss must be ready for global threats -- Swiss.info
Ivanka gives talk at the 55th annual Munich Security Conference alongside world leaders, Jared and the Pences -- Daily Mail
European divisions over arms sales on display in Munich -- The National

Another Critical Report On The State Of Germany's Military


Matthew Karnitschnig, Politico.eu: Germany’s soldiers of misfortune

The once mighty Bundeswehr is looking increasingly threadbare.

BERLIN — Fighter jets and helicopters that don’t fly. Ships and submarines that can’t sail. Severe shortages of everything from ammunition to underwear.

If it sounds like an exaggeration to compare Germany’s Bundeswehr to “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” look no further than the army’s standard-issue assault rifle, Heckler & Koch’s G36. The government decided to scrap the weapon after discovering that the gun misses its target if it’s too hot.

“There is neither enough personnel nor materiel, and often one confronts shortage upon shortage,” Hans-Peter Bartels, a Social Democrat MP charged with monitoring the Bundeswehr for parliament, concluded in a report published at the end of January. “The troops are far from being fully-equipped.”

Once one of the fiercest (and most brutal) fighting forces on earth, today’s German army increasingly looks more like a volunteer fire department — last month, mountain troops were dispatched to shovel snow from roofs in Bavaria — than a modern military machine.

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Previous Post: A Look At Germany's Army In Numbers (February 16, 2019)

WNU Editor: Germany's defense budget is the ninth largest in the world, there is clearly something terribly wrong here.

Russia's New Armata Tanks Will Finally Enter The Service This Year.

T-14 Armata Main Battle tank during the victory parade in 2015 (Image: Wikipedia)

Popular Mechanics: Russia to Receive First New 'Armata' Tanks in 2019

Moscow’s next generation tank is behind schedule and will be purchased in far fewer numbers than originally planned.

Russia’s brand-new T-14 Armata main battle tank will finally enter service in 2019, but in numbers far fewer than originally anticipated. The manufacturer will deliver twelve Armatas and four armored recovery vehicle variants by the end of 2019. That’s far short of the thousand or more tanks that were originally supposed to be in service by now.

In 2015, Russia unexpectedly debuted a new main battle tank. Known as T-14 Armata, the tank was a break from previous Russian Army tanks and Moscow’s first “clean sheet” tank design in decades. Western media tabloids predicted that the tank was “20 years ahead of anything in the West." The head of the Russian Ground Forces at the time, Colonel-General Oleg Salyukov, told state media that Russia would have 2,300 Armatas by 2020, by which time it would comprise 70 percent of Russia’s tank inventory.

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Update #1: Russian Troops to Receive 16 Armata Tanks by Yearend (Defense World)
Update #2: Russia's Military to Receive 12 T-14 'Armata' Battle Tanks in 2019 (The Diplomat)

WNU Editor: The original plan was to have 2,300 by the end of 2020. That is not going to happen. The reason why is typical of all new Russian military projects. Cost and development problems.

What Is More Important. Repairing The U.S. Military Or Worrying About The National Debt?

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks regarding the Administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C., U.S. December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua RobertsReuters

CNBC: Trump: I have to 'straighten out' the military before worrying about the $22 trillion debt

* President Donald Trump said he has to "straighten out" the "depleted" military before worrying about the national debt.
* Total public debt outstanding crossed $22 trillion for the first time this week, more than $2 trillion of which has come on Trump's watch.

President Donald Trump promised to eliminate the national debt during his campaign, but he said Friday that building up the military is more important.

Total public debt outstanding topped $22 trillion earlier this week, with nearly $2.1 trillion coming under Trump's watch.

When touting his plans to stimulate the economy, Trump insisted that the growth — which would come from tax cuts, less regulation and greater infrastructure spending — would offset debt and eventually eliminate the national IOU. However, Congressional Budget Office projections indicate that the budget deficit will only grow in the years ahead, pushing the debt ever higher and eventually reaching about 150 percent of GDP in the next 30 years.

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WNU Editor: I think both are important. But right now I do not see Congress having any interest in slowing down it's growth in spending or stabilizing the national debt, on the contrary, their addiction to spending is increasing.