Saturday, August 8, 2020

Will Joe Biden's Basement Campaign Propel Him To The Presidency?

Patrick Buchanan: Biden’s Game Plan — Take No Risks & Run Out the Clock

When Vice President Calvin Coolidge ascended to the presidency on the death of Warren Harding in 1923, a wag remarked that Silent Cal’s career had exhibited unmistakable signs of celestial intervention.

Governor Coolidge vaulted to national attention during the Boston police strike of 1919, where, in a stinging letter to Sam Gompers of the AFL, he thundered: “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”

If Joe Biden becomes president, celestial intervention, once again, cannot be ruled out.


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WNU Editor: It is going to be hard to keep his campaign low key and tightly scripted. But they are going to try. As to the question .... will it succeed? In the normal situation the answer is no. But we are in the middle of a pandemic, and the old rules no longer apply. And because of that there is a possibility that this campaign strategy may succeed. But my money is still on President Trump winning re-election based on three issues. He has not put the US in a new war. People have more confidence in him rebuilding the economy. The opponent is weak and campaigning from his basement.

Russian Defense Ministry Says Any Inbound Ballistic Missile Will Be Seen As A Nuclear Attack

FILE PHOTO. © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov

RT: Nuke first, ask questions later! Top military officers reveal Moscow could respond to ANY rocket attack with a nuclear strike

Fire any ballistic missile at Russia, and Moscow might respond with a nuclear warhead. That's according to the Russian Defense Ministry, which has publicly disclosed its conditions for launching a nuclear strike.

“Any attacking missile will be treated as a nuclear-equipped missile. Information about the launch of an automatic missile will be communicated to the country's top leadership, which, depending on the situation, will determine the scale of the nuclear forces’ response,” wrote Andrey Sterlin, a member of Russia's General Staff and Alexander Khryapin, a top military scientist, in the Defense Ministry's newspaper Red Star.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For as long as I can remember this has always been Soviet and now Russian policy. Any inbound ballistic missile will be seen as a nuclear attack.

More News On The Russian Defense Ministry Saying Any Inbound Ballistic Missile Will Be Seen As A Nuclear Attack

Russia warns it will see any incoming missile as nuclear -- AP
Russian General Staff Outlines What Kind of Attack on the Homeland May Spark Nuclear Retaliation -- Sputnik
Kremlin Warns The US Of Nuclear Retaliation If Russia Or Her Allies Are Targeted -- Eurasian Times
"Any Inbound Missile Will Be Seen As Nuclear" - Russia's Military Warns Amid Arms Treaty Talks -- Zero Hedge

In A Crisis With The U.S. Would China Answer The Hotline? US-China Hotline Sparks Paranoia Among Military, Intel Officials

High tensions mean communications are often difficult in the modern era, and countries have used a direct hotline as a way to keep things from spiraling out of control. Recently, the US and China are considering an updated version of the hotline to avoid catastrophes.

But US-China relations are at a multi-decade low, and distrust is such that intelligence and military officials are offering rather paranoid predictions of ways that China might abuse the hotline to deceive the US.

The biggest objection to the phone seems to be based on it being a phone, with retired Captain James Fanell, a former director of intelligence in the Pacific Fleet warning the US might feel dependent on the phone, and then have China “fail to answer” when there is a crisis.

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WNU Editor: I am more worried about the lack of hotlines between China and its neighbours more than the one between the US and China .... Asian Governments Need To Establish More Hotlines (February 11, 2014).

President Trump: “This May Be The Last Time You’ll See Me For A While”

Summit News: Trump: “This May be the Last Time You’ll See Me for a While”

“I have a lot of enemies out there.”

Remarks made by President Trump during a speech have prompted speculation after he referred to having a lot of rich enemies and told the audience, “This may be the last time you’ll see me for a while.”

The comments were made during an address Trump gave at the Whirlpool Corporation Manufacturing Plant in Clyde, Ohio.

The context of the remarks was an executive order that will mandate U.S. government agencies purchase all essential drugs from American sources.

Trump blamed the American political class for the fact that drugs are cheaper to buy in other countries Canada even if they are made by the same company.

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WNU Editor: Talk about cryptic messages. But the President does have a lot of enemies who are not happy with his policies.

U.S. And China's Defense Chiefs Discuss Taiwan And South China Sea

SCMP: China, US militaries in crunch talks to avoid conflicts in Taiwan and South China Sea

* US Defence Secretary Mark Esper expresses concern over ‘destabilising activity in the vicinity of Taiwan and the South China Sea’, says Pentagon spokesman
* Esper also called on Beijing to share more of its data on Covid-19, adds the spokesman

China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and his US counterpart Mark Esper warned each other in a phone call about escalating risks over Taiwan and the South China Sea, in the highest-level US-China talks since state leader Yang Jiechi met
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Hawaii in mid-June.

Esper “expressed concerns about [the Chinese military’s] destabilising activity in the vicinity of Taiwan and the South China Sea, and called on [China] to honour international obligations” as well as share more of its data on Covid-19, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters in Washington on Thursday.

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WNU Editor: All they did was trade warnings. The Chinese defense minister is voicing what everyone is thinking .... China risks paying 'high cost' for South China Sea intimidation, Japan defense chief says (CNN).

More News U.S. And China's Defense Chiefs Discussing Taiwan And South China Sea

Pentagon chief expresses concern to Chinese counterpart about Beijing's activity in South China Sea -- Reuters
Pentagon chief voices concern to Chinese counterpart on South China Sea -- Nikkei Asian Review
Pentagon Chief Esper Talks With Chinese Counterpart As Tensions Soar -- NPR
China, U.S. defense ministers agree to push for stable military ties -- CGTN

Friday, August 7, 2020

CNN: President Trump's Advisers Hesitated To Give Military Options Over Fears He Might Start A War

CNN: Trump advisers hesitated to give military options and warned adversaries over fears he might start a war

Washington (CNN)Amid escalating tensions with both North Korea and Iran, President Donald Trump's advisers hesitated to give him military options fearing the President might accidentally take the US to war and deliberately informed their counterparts in both countries that they did not know what the President would do next, multiple former administration officials tell me.

These accounts are contained in my upcoming book, "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World," which will be published August 11 by Harper Collins.

Trump's relationship with Kim Jong Un has blown hot and cold throughout his presidency but in 2017 as the President dubbed Kim "little rocket man" and the North Korean dictator responded by calling Trump a "dotard," there was a very real fear amongst senior members of the administration that the war of words might culminate in the President launching military action against Pyongyang.

Read more ....

Update: Trump advisers were wary of talking military options over fears he'd accidentally start war: report (The Hill)

WNU Editor:Withholding information/intelligence/options/etc. from the President or his staff is a dangerous course of action.

Top U.S. Intelligence Official: China And Iran Don't Want Trump To Win Reelection, Russia Wants Trump

Chinese President Xi and Russian President Putin.

ABC News: Russia working to boost Trump's reelection and 'denigrate' Biden, as China undermines Trump: US intelligence

A top U.S. official released a statement Friday on foreign election meddling.

Three of America's top adversaries are actively meddling in U.S. presidential politics ahead of the November election, including efforts by Russia to advance President Donald Trump's reelection efforts, according to a public statement issued Friday by the U.S. intelligence community.

"We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia 'establishment,'" the statement said, adding that, "Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television."

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Update: Intelligence community's top election official: China and Iran don't want Trump to win reelection, Russia working against Biden (CNN)

WNU Editor: William R. Evanina, director of U.S. counterintelligence, was saying the same thing two weeks ago .... Counterintelligence chief warns of China, Iran, Russia efforts to influence U.S. election (Washington Times).

Update #2: President Trump has responded to this US intel statement .... Donald Trump insists neither Russia or China want him to win: President rejects claims Moscow wants him in office and says Beijing would 'own our country' if Biden is elected after intelligence warned of meddling in the 2020 vote (Daily Mail).

China Is Building More Type-075 Assault Carriers

Satellite imagery shows the 3rd Type-075 amphibious ship under construction. It's size and internal layout aid identification. H I Sutton (Includes material © CNES 2020, Distribution Airbus DS all rights reserved / PLEIADES satellite imagery | Acquired through ShadowBreak Intl)

Forbes: New Intelligence Shows China Is Building More Type-075 Assault Carriers

The Chinese Navy is expanding at an incredible pace, rapidly outstripping almost all other navies. A year ago it had no amphibious assault carriers (termed landing helicopter docks). These large helicopter carriers are often the most powerful ships in many navies, and almost all navies want them. Fast forward a year’s time and they will likely have the second largest fleet of them in the world. Only the U.S. Navy will have more. And China is building them quicker.

The rapid construction of Chinese Navy (PLAN) warships is hard to keep up with. China’s new Assault Carriers are known as the Type-075 LHD. They have already launched two in the past year. And now images have emerged on Chinese-language social media that, perhaps unwittingly, reveal yet another.

This equates to an assembly time in dry dock of about 6 months. It is difficult to make direct comparisons to the U.S. Navy because the construction approaches vary, and America is not in the same rush. But for context the U.S. Navy’s second America Class assault carrier, USS Tripoli, was laid down in June 2014 and launched in May 2017. 2 years and 10 months later.

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WNU Editor: When you look at the massive military buildup that is occurring right now in China, you have the question .... is China preparing to start a war with someone?

Editor's Note

My part of the world has had no power since this morning. I have been told that power will be restored this evening. When that happens blogging will resume.

Update 22:22 EST: 14 hours of no power. But I am one of the lucky ones. The reason for the outage was equipment failure. And while my power has just been restored, the street next to me will not be having power until tomorrow or Sunday. So much for those whose freezers are full.

President Trump Issues Orders Banning TikTok And WeChat From Operating In 45 Days

Daily Mail: Donald Trump raises tensions with Beijing by issuing executive orders to BAN TikTok and WeChat in 45 days - amid warning Apple and Microsoft could be outlawed in retaliation as world markets fall

* Trump on Thursday signed an executive order giving a 45-day deadline for deal
* After that time, transactions with TikTok parent ByteDance will be forbidden
* Order also effectively bans TikTok in the US unless a sale is completed
* Microsoft is said to be considering acquiring TikTok's global operations
* Separate executive order bans Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat
* Trump's orders are the latest escalation in growing US-China tensions on tech
* Fears mount of 'Silicon Curtain' descending between the two countries
* Experts say Beijing could bar Apple or Microsoft from China as retribution

President Donald Trump has issued executive orders effectively banning Chinese video sharing app TikTok and messaging service WeChat in a dramatic escalation of tensions with Beijing that sent stocks tumbling worldwide overnight.

Using national emergency powers, Trump on Thursday night signed the orders, which give TikTok parent ByteDance 45 days to sell the app, and bar WeChat from the U.S. after the same time period.

The orders also banned any U.S. transactions with WeChat owner Tencent, a major Chinese company that owns significant shares in Tesla, Snap Inc, and Reddit. Tencent shares fell as much as 10 percent in Asian markets overnight, and it was not immediately clear whether the company would be forced to divest its U.S. holdings.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like the US has just realized that China is waging cyber warfare against them. TikTok has responded .... TikTok threatens legal action against Trump’s executive order, saying it sets a ‘dangerous precedent’ (CNBC).

More News On President Trump Issuing Orders Banning TikTok And WeChat From Operating In 45 Days

Trump issues executive orders banning U.S. transactions with WeChat and TikTok in 45 days -- CNBC
Trump Signs Executive Order That Will Effectively Ban Use Of TikTok In the U.S. -- NPR
Trump issues orders banning TikTok and WeChat from operating in 45 days if they are not sold by Chinese parent companies -- CNN
Trump Signs Executive Order Banning TikTok, WeChat In 45 Days -- Zero Hedge
China fumes over United States ban on use of TikTok, WeChat -- DW
What is WeChat and why does Trump want to ban it? -- Shannon Liao, CNN Business

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

A general view shows the damage following Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Bader Helal

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Aftermath of deadly blast in Beirut (Reuters).

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Joe Biden Apologizes For Suggesting The Latino American Community Is More Diverse Than African Americans

Daily Mail: 'In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith': Joe Biden APOLOGIZES for suggesting the Latino American community is more diverse than African Americans

* During an interview that aired Thursday, Biden claimed the Latino American community is more diverse than the African American community
* By Thursday evening Biden had responded to the criticism over his comments
* 'Throughout my career I've witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community', he wrote
* President Donald Trump said before departing the White House Thursday that Joe Biden 'totally disparaged and insulted the black community'
* 'Wow! Joe Biden just lost the entire African American community. What a 'dumb' thing to say!' Trump tweeted along with an article including a clip of the gaffe

Joe Biden on Thursday attempted to 'clarify' his comments suggesting the Latino American community is more diverse than African Americans.

The presumed Democratic nominee wrote on Twitter: 'Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all.'

In an interview with NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro had asked Biden if he would stop Cubans from being deported if he became president. It sent Biden into a confusing comment about race in America.

Read more ....

Update: Biden Apologizes For Comments on Racial Diversity Among Blacks (Bloomberg)

WNU Editor: Biden had no choice. He to backtrack and apologize.

Saudi Crown Prince Accused Of Sending Hit Squad To Canada To Assassinate A Former Top Intelligence Official

CTV News/Canadian Press: Saudi Crown prince sent hit squad to Canada to kill former spy, lawsuit claims

TORONTO -- The crown prince of Saudi Arabia sent a hit squad to Canada in an effort to hunt down and kill a former top intelligence official who knows too much, a civil suit filed Thursday in court in the United States asserts.

The 106-page unproven complaint, which reads like a spy thriller, accuses Mohammed bin Salman of orchestrating attempts to silence Saad Aljabri, a permanent resident of Canada.

The document describes Aljabri as a 39-year veteran of the government of Saudi Arabia with expertise in national security and counterterrorism. As such, it says, few people know more about bin Salman than he does, including his allegedly corrupt business dealings and creation of a team of personal mercenaries called the Tiger Squad.

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More News On The Saudi Crown Prince Being Accused Of Sending A Hit Squad To Canada To Assassinate A Former Top Intelligence Official

Saudi crown prince sent hit squad to Canada to kill former spy, lawsuit claims -- CBC
Saudi crown prince accused of sending hit squad to Canada -- BBC
Ex-Saudi intelligence official accuses Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in lawsuit of ordering torture, assassination -- FOX News
Saudi Crown Prince accused of assassination plot against senior exiled official -- CNN
Former Saudi intelligence official accuses crown prince of plot to kill him -- The Guardian
Former Saudi spy accuses MBS hit squad of attempting to kill him -- Al Jazeera

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On The Beirut Bombing -- August 6, 2020

Lucia Stein, ABC News Online: Lebanon's banking, economic and political systems were already under threat before the explosion. Here's why

The massive blast that hit Lebanon's capital on Tuesday has delivered yet another devastating blow to a country already rocked by crises.

Well before the explosion, and even the coronavirus pandemic which upended the world, Lebanon was in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history.

Half its population of 6 million lives near or below the poverty line and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs.

The nation's currency has more than halved during the crisis, with people's savings locked up in inaccessible bank accounts.

And the pandemic has only further laid bare the strain the whole system is under.

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Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On The Beirut Bombing -- August 6, 2020

Why the US and its allies should keep Lebanon from blowing apart -- Jon B. Alterman, The Hill
'Moment of reckoning': angry Lebanese vow not to let leaders off the hook -- Martin Chulov, The Guardian
Someone’s to Blame for the Beirut Blast -- Bloomberg
Why Hezbollah will not escape blame for deadly chemical blast in Beirut -- Hussein Ibish, The Print
I have reported from Lebanon for years. What I saw at the Beirut port after the blast was total devastation -- Cherine Yazbeck, ABC News Online
Lebanon is no stranger to disaster – but this is like nothing we've ever seen -- Kim Ghattas, The Guardian
Don't blame fate for Beirut's cruel tragedy -- Frida Ghitis, CNN
No lights, no glass, no money: Beirutis hamstrung in efforts to rebuild -- Bethan McKernan, The Guardian
Beirut explosion: What we know so far -- BBC
Beirut blast timeline: what we know and what we don't -- The Guardian

Bride Whose Wedding Video Shoot Captured The Moment Of The Beirut Explosion Returns To The Scene

Daily Mail: Bride whose wedding video shoot captured the moment catastrophic Beirut explosion returns to the scene and says she thought she would die in the blast

* Bride Israa Seblani said she wondered if she was going to die after the explosion
* Young couple were sent flying by the huge shockwave but remain unharmed
* Seblani arrived in Beirut three weeks earlier to prepare for her wedding

Radiant in a long white gown and veil, 29-year-old Lebanese bride Israa Seblani stands smiling and posing for her wedding video. The scene is shattered by a deafening roar, and a powerful shockwave nearly blows her off her feet.

The dramatic footage captured the moment when a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, killing 135 people and injuring more than 5,000.

Seblani, a doctor working in the United States, helped to check on the injured nearby, before fleeing central Beirut's Saifi square to safety.

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Update: Beirut bride recounts horrors of wedding day blast (DW)

WNU Editor:That is a wedding shoot for the ages.

Who Is To Blame For The Beirut Bombing Disaster?

Daily Mail: 'It's crystal clear Hezbollah are in charge of the port and warehouse': Leading Lebanese politician blames terrorist group and 'corrupt' government for catastrophic explosion – as aerial images reveal blast even sank a cruise ship

* Bahaa Hariri, 54, has said everyone in the city knew that Hezbollah controlled Beirut's port and airport
* Blast has threatened to reignite anti-government protests in Lebanon that have been ongoing since last year
* At least 137 people have so far died, with some 5,000 wounded, 300,000 homeless, and widespread damage
* Investigators say 16 employees of Beirut's port have been detained and 18 questioned in total

A leading Lebanese opposition figure has blamed Hezbollah, along with the country's 'corrupt' government, for the devastating explosion in Beirut which capsized a cruise ship and has so far claimed 137 lives.

Bahaa Hariri, whose father, Prime Minister Rafiq, was assassinated in 2005, said last night everyone in the city knew Hezbollah controlled Beirut's port and airport and it was inconceivable that the authorities did not know the deadly ammonium nitrate was stored in a warehouse there.

Speaking for the first time Mr Hariri, 54, said: 'The question we have to ask is how come for six years this combustible material was allowed to remain in the middle of this city of two million people?'

'It is crystal clear Hezbollah are in charge of the Port and the Warehouse where the ammonium nitrate was stored.

'Nothing goes in and out of the Port or the Airport does so with them knowing. Nothing.

Read more ....

More News On Who To Blame For The Beirut Bombing Disaster

Lebanese officials deflect blame as anger grows over Beirut blast -- Al Jazeera
Lebanese investigators focus on negligence in Beirut blast -- France 24
The ship carrying the ammonium nitrate that blew up in Beirut was abandoned in 2014 by a Russian businessman, who has said nothing since the explosion -- Business Insider
What Caused the Beirut Explosion? What We Know -- New York Times

French President Emmanuel Macron Visited Shell-Shocked Beirut On Thursday

France 24: Macron pledges help for Beirut as Lebanese rage against rulers

French President Emmanuel Macron visited shell-shocked Beirut on Thursday, pledging support and urging change after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital in a disaster that has sparked grief and fury. Follow the day's events as they unfolded on our liveblog.

Macron was the first foreign head of state to make the trip after two explosions rocked Beirut on Tuesday, killing scores, injuring thousands and inflicting billions of euros in damage.

The French leader pledged the support of Lebanon's former colonial power and urged reform, telling crowds that he was not planning to write a blank cheque to the country's discredited regime.

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More News On French President Emmanuel Macron's Visit To Beirut

In devastated Beirut, French leader offers comfort and a hug -- AP
On Beirut visit, Macron says aid to go 'directly to the people', relief groups -- France 24
Macron promises angry Beirut crowds aid won't go to "corrupt hands" -- Reuters
Macron visits Beirut in aftermath of devastating blast -- Euronews
Beirut explosion: Macron calls for 'deep change' in Lebanon after blast -- BBC
‘Without reforms, Lebanon will continue to suffer,’ says Macron in Beirut -- France 24
After deadly blast, Beirut residents look to Macron for relief -- Al Jazeera
44,000 sign petition for France to take control of Lebanon -- DW

Anger Is Growing In Lebanon

The Guardian: Beirut explosion: security forces confront protesters near parliament

Calls for inquiry mount as officials begin blame game over ammonium nitrate storage

Lebanese security forces have reportedly fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-government demonstrators angered by a huge and deadly explosion widely seen as the most shocking expression yet of their government’s incompetence.

The scuffles in central Beirut took place in a ravaged street leading to parliament, amid wreckage from Tuesday’s explosion still littering the area.

Protesters had sparked a blaze, vandalised stores and lobbed stones at security forces, according to the state-run National News Agency.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is how revolutions start.

More News On The Growing Unrest In Lebanon

Beirut explosion: Angry residents rage at leaders after blast -- BBC
Lebanese police tear gas anti-government protesters in wake of devastating blast -- France 24
Beirut blast: Lebanon grows angry in search for answers in explosion aftermath -- NBC
Beirut Explosion Leads to Growing Anger as Lebanon Searches for Victims -- WSJ
Beirut port employees detained in investigation after devastating explosion sparks fury -- CNN
Beirut's Deadly Blast Reignites Anger Against Lebanon's Ruling Elite -- Foreign Policy

Beirut Bombing -- News Updates August 6, 2020

Daily Mail: Beirut counts the human cost: 300,000 people are left homeless with 50% of buildings damaged as death toll from fertilizer explosion nears 150 with thousands more injured

* Satellite images have revealed the true extent of the damage to Beirut's harbour after massive explosion
* Warehouse where blast happened is completely gone while surrounding buildings have been flattened
* At least 135 people died in the explosion with more expected, while 5,000 are wounded and tens missing
* Barely a building left untouched by blast the size of a small nuke, thought to have been sparked by a welder

Beirut has been brought to its knees by the devastating explosion which damaged half of the city's buildings and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

At least 135 were killed and 5,000 wounded on Tuesday following the blast at the port where 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded.

The international community has rallied to send aid to the country already on the brink of economic ruin - but citizens are fearful Lebanon will never recover.

'This explosion seals the collapse of Lebanon. I really blame the ruling class,' said Hassan Zaiter, 32, a manager at the heavily damaged Le Gray Hotel in downtown Beirut.

The economic cost of the damage is thought to be around $5billion, added to the more-pressing human cost includes 300,000 people left homeless along with hospitals struggling to cope.

Read more ....

Beirut Bombing -- News Updates August 6, 2020

LIVE: Protests as Lebanon detains 16 over Beirut explosion -- Al Jazeera
Sixteen Port of Beirut employees are arrested over cause of devastating explosion as tragic photo shows the moment firefighters tried to enter Warehouse 12 before store of ammonium nitrate ignited killing at least 145 people -- Daily Mail
Beirut explosion: Lebanese authorities detain workers, freeze assets -- DW
Beirut port manager among 16 held in blast probe, judicial source says -- ABC News Online
German diplomat confirmed killed in Beirut explosion -- DW
Victims of Beirut's explosion begin sifting through the rubble as hundreds of thousands face homelessness -- ABC News Online
Beirut blast pushes economy to edge as many remain missing -- Al Jazeera
'Lebanon was a heaven, they made it hell': Anger mounts in Beirut as activists vow anti-government protests after blast which killed at least 137 and wounded 5,000 as clean-up job is left to volunteers -- Daily Mail
‘Beirut is destroyed, my heart is broken’: Locals in despair over Lebanon blast -- France 24
Lebanese rally to assist those affected by Beirut explosion -- Al Jazeera
In pictures: Lebanon's capital in ruins after Beirut port explosion -- France 24
Beirut explosion aftermath revealed in satellite and drone images, officials estimate up to $20 billion in damages -- ABC News Online

Taiwan Wants To Buy Four Advanced US SeaGuardian Drones

File photo of a Guardian drone. AFP

Reuters: Exclusive: Taiwan in talks to make first purchase of sophisticated U.S. drones - sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is negotiating the sale of at least four of its large sophisticated aerial drones to Taiwan for the first time, according to six U.S. sources familiar with the negotiations, in a deal that is likely to ratchet up tensions with China.

The SeaGuardian surveillance drones have a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km), far greater than the 160-mile range of Taiwan’s current fleet of drones.

While the sale of the unmanned aerial vehicles has been tacitly authorized by the State Department, two of the people said, it is not known whether the U.S. officials have approved exporting the drones with weapons attached, one of them said.

The deal has to be approved by members of Congress who may receive formal notification as soon as next month, two of the people said. Congress could choose to block a final agreement.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This will significantly enhance Taiwan's surveillance capabilities. You can take this to the bank. By the end of today China is going to voice its objections (if not already).

Twitter And Facebook Remove A Video Of President Trump Saying That Children Are 'Almost Immune' From Covid-19

Daily Mail: 'The President was stating a fact': White House attacks Facebook and Twitter for 'flagrant bias' after they removed video of his interview claim that children are 'almost immune' from Covid-19

* Trump had uploaded a video to Facebook of an interview with Fox News in which he falsely stated that children are ‘almost immune' from COVID-19
* ‘They have much stronger immune system than [adults],’ Trump said in the video, which the account for his presidential campaign also tweeted
* The Trump campaign has accused Facebook and Twitter of displaying 'flagrant bias' against the president, saying he was 'stating a fact' in the shared video
* Facebook said the president's post was removed for violating the social media platform's 'policies around harmful COVID misinformation'
* The move was followed by Twitter a short while after, which announced it has ordered Trump's campaign account to remove a post featuring the same video
* Twitter said the account will be banned from tweeting until the post is removed

Donald Trump's press secretary accused Silicon Valley of 'flagrant bias' after Facebook took down a post from the President's personal page for making claims about children and coronavirus.

Trump had uploaded a video of an interview he gave to Fox News on Wednesday, in which he claimed children are ‘almost immune' to COVID-19.

'The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus,' Trump's deputy national press secretary Courtney Parella said in an emailed statement.

'Another day, another display of Silicon Valley's flagrant bias against this President, where the rules are only enforced in one direction. Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth.'

A spokesperson for Trump's campaign also leveled similar accusations of bias against Twitter.

'The Twitter employee who announced why the account was briefly suspended is also Kamala Harris’s former press secretary. Silicon Valley is hopelessly biased against the President,' the spokesperson said, according to Breaking911.

Read more ....

Update #1: Twitter and Facebook Block Trump Video, Citing Covid Misinformation (Bloomberg)
Update #2: Facebook and Twitter sanction Trump for post claiming kids are ‘virtually immune’ to coronavirus (Politico)

WNU Editor: Children have done remarkably well when it comes to Covid-19. There are very few deaths, and very few hospitalizations. So I can understand why someone would say that children are "almost immune" from Covid-19. But the big concern right now is over worries that children are transmitters of the disease. Unfortunately, it is only now that Science is starting to look at this.

Joe Biden Did Not Have A Good Interview With A CBS Reporter Yesterday

Zero Hedge: Biden Asked Point Blank About Apparent Cognitive Decline... It Didn't Go Well

Over much of the past year there's been increased scrutiny focused on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's possible cognitive decline, given a series of bizarre statements, mishaps, and sometimes testy exchanges with constituents.

To our knowledge, the below televised CBS interview this week is the first time the 77-year old former VP was asked directly on a major TV network whether he's willing to submit to a "cognitive test" in order to put widespread concerns of his perceived mental decline to rest.

"Why the hell would I take a test?" Biden exploded. This was followed by a strange and somewhat nonsensical cocaine analogy, and ended with Biden once again sputtering and trying to get out simple words — a familiar pattern. In short, it didn't go well:

Read more ....

Update: Biden raises eyebrows with remark contrasting African American, Latino diversity (FOX News)

WNU Editor: Latinos have diversity of thought, unlike Black Americans..... Nothing is going to happen to Biden because of this. And I doubt the main stream media will broadcast this bite. But the debate within the Democrat Party is growing because they can see that Joe Biden does not believe what he said is wrong.

Update: The discussion on Joe Biden's cognitive decline started when he won the Democrat nomination for President, and it is going to intensify until election day (see video below).

How Big Was The Beirut Blast?

Lawrence Person's BattleSwarm Blog: Beirut Blast: How Many Kilotons?

Yesterday a massive explosion ripped through Beirut, Lebanon from the city’s port:

Sometimes you do calculations and get a result that you know must be wrong, and you report them anyway so others can spot your errors. Reports had the explosion shattering windows 10 kilometers away, and doing damage to the Beirut airport, so I set out to calculate the explosive yield using the Nukemap, based on shattering windows at the airport (the 1 psi overpressure ring) and ignoring radiation effects. (The nukemap interface is far more user friendly than the “Nuclear bomb Effects Computer” at the back of Samuel Glasstone’s The Effects of Nuclear Weapons.)

Here’s the map with the resulting 1 psi ring just reaching the airport:

Read more ....

WNU Editor: According to the above calculations, the blast was about 1.98 Kilotons.

Are We Transitioning From A COVID-19 Recession To A COVID-19 Depression?

George Friedman, Geopolitical Futures: From a COVID-19 Recession to COVID-19 Depression?

It’s been roughly five months since COVID-19 lockdown measures were first put in place. That means that come September, we will have gone two quarters like this with no end in sight.

Masks and social distancing contained the spread of the virus somewhat but could never eliminate it. Yet that is the only containment strategy we had. The only real solution is a vaccine. Many have already claimed that a vaccine is coming soon, but even if comes to market in September, producing, distributing and administering it to billions of people will be a time-consuming and logistically fraught process. Obviously, the number of people vulnerable will decline over time, but it is not clear that social distancing or quarantining will be suspended simply because a vaccine will be available. They will likely continue.

I have argued that unless a solution is found by September, the probability that the recession could turn into a depression would mount. A recession is a normal part of the economy, a primarily financial event that imposes disciplines on an overheated economy. A depression, from a geopolitical standpoint, involves the physical destruction of the economy, something that lays waste to businesses, dislocates labor and vaporizes capital. A recession is the economy cycling. A depression is an economy breaking.

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WNU Editor: When the Russian economy collapsed after the breakup of the Soviet Union, I got first hand experience on what a depression is like. To say that it was a horrible experience is an understatement, and it took a decade for Russia to crawl out of it. Will the US and other countries experience the same thing in the coming months? That is why the above post is a sobering and must read commentary. The only difference that I have with the above post is that I believe the crunch time will happen after the US election in November, not before.

Who Will Joe Biden Pick As His Choice For Vice President?

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at a campaign event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 11, 2020. © REUTERS/Bastiaan Slabbers

Axios: Biden confidants see VP choices narrowing to Harris and Rice

Confidants of Joe Biden believe his choices for vice president have narrowed to Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice — and would be surprised if he picks anyone else.

The state of play: This is a snapshot of the nearly unanimous read that we get from more than a dozen people close to him.

* Of course, it comes with a giant asterisk: Only Biden knows for sure, and the more insiders know, the less they say to reporters.
* He's not expected to announce his choice for another week or so — the Democratic convention begins Aug. 17 — so that reality could certainly change.

What's happening: The campaign is now in methodical mode as it finalizes vetting, looks at internal polling results on potential picks and talks to finalists one-on-one.

* In third place is Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who had a faltering performance on the Sunday shows after revelations about her past views on Cuba and Scientology.

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Update: Sources Close to Biden Say He's Narrowed His VP List to Two (PJ Media)

WNU Editor: This is a tough one for me. Mainly because it is easier for me to say who he should not pick rather than who he should pick. All of the names that have been thrown in the air have a lot of baggage that will hurt the Biden campaign, and I do not see any of them being an asset in swing states that the former Vice President needs to win. But if I had to choose, it will be Susan Rice. Both Rice and Biden are creatures of Washington. They have known and worked with each other for many years. She is someone that Biden trusts, and she presents herself well on TV. Her weakness is no one knows how she will be as a campaigner. I looked and could not find any videos of her in campaign mode in front of a large audience. What Biden needs is someone to dominate the campaign trail. To hit 4 or 5 campaign spots daily, because he certainly does not have the energy to do it. If Biden does not choose Rice, it will be due to this lack of campaign experience. And if Sen. Kamala Harris is chosen, it will be due to her ability to campaign all across the country and to motivate the Democrat base because many of them are only motivated to vote Trump out rather than voting Biden in.

Poll Says Distrust In The Media Is Growing Among Americans

Knight Foundation: American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy


There is a widening gulf between American aspirations for and assessments of the news media. With each passing benchmark study, the American people render deeper and increasingly polarized judgments about the news media and how well it is fulfilling its role in our democracy.

In 2018, Gallup and Knight Foundation published the inaugural American Views report as part of their Trust, Media and Democracy research program. This landmark study of Americans’ attitudes toward the news media and its role in our democracy is part of the ongoing Gallup/Knight research effort. The 2018 report found that while Americans valued the role of the news media as an important institution in a free society, they did not believe it was fulfilling its democratic roles well. Political party was the primary determining factor driving Americans’ opinions of and trust in the media.

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WNU Editor:
This is a huge Gallup-Knight Foundation poll and study. There is a lot of data in their study, and it makes the case that the mass majority of Americans see an intentional bias in the news that the media is reporting on. Am I surprised by the results of this poll. No. Is anybody in the media listening? I seriously doubt it.

As for WNU. What I try to do on this blog is to present the news from multiple sources. Give my own opinion on a story that interests me. And then let you .... the reader .... make your own judgment.

This US Congressman Wants To Ban Current History Classes Because They 'Lead To Racism'

Daily Mail: History classes should be banned in schools because they 'lead to racism', an Illinois lawmaker has said

* Representative LaShawn K. Ford said teaching 'unfairly communicates' history
* Said it overshadows work done by undermined groups including Black people
* Urged state to stop history classes until a better teaching method can be found

History classes 'lead to white privilege and a racist society' and should be stopped in schools, according to an Illinios lawmaker.

Representative LaShawn K. Ford claimed history books and teaching as it stands 'unfairly communicates' the US's past and overshadows the work done by historically undermined groups - including LGBT, Black and Jewish people.

Both Ford - a Democrat - and other community leaders in Evanston, Illinois, are calling on state leaders to stop history lessons until a better teaching method can be found.

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WNU Editor: I have a friend in Moscow who is trying to do the opposite of what Representative LaShawn K. Ford wants to do in Illinois. And what my friend is trying to do is restore the history that was purged by the Communists because they believed it did not reflect what they felt was the true history of the Soviet people. Bottom line. When political leaders want to change history, always be wary on what are their true intentions. In the meantime Chicago Takes Down 2 Columbus Statues Overnight.

More News On A US Congressman Wanting To Ban Current History Classes Because They 'Lead To Racism'

Chicago-Area Leaders Call for Illinois to Abolish History Classes -- NBC 5
Illinois officials call to abolish history classes in the state until an 'alternative' is set up to highlight underrepresented groups -- Business Insider
Evanston group calls for history class to be updated with contributions from underrepresented groups -- ABC 7
Illinois Rep Wants to Abolish History Classes as Racist -- Mish Talk

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

A general view shows the damage at the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Aftermath of deadly blast in Beirut (Reuters).

Who Owns The 2,750 Metric Tons Of Ammonium Nitrate That Is Being Blamed For The Massive Explosion That Rocked Beirut On Tuesday?

CNN: A Russian ship's cargo of dangerous ammonium nitrate was stranded in Beirut port for years

(CNN)As Lebanon's investigation into the devastating blast in Beirut continues, officials have pointed to a possible cause: A massive shipment of agricultural fertilizer that authorities say was stored in the port of Beirut without safety precautions for years -- despite warnings by local officials.

Documents newly reviewed by CNN reveal that a shipment of 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate arrived in Beirut on a Russian-owned vessel in 2013. The ship, named the MV Rhosus, was destined for Mozambique -- but stopped in Beirut due to financial difficulties that also created unrest with the ship's Russian and Ukrainian crew.

Once it arrived, the ship never left Beirut's port, according Lebanon's Director of Customs, Badri Daher, despite repeated warnings by him and others that the cargo was the equivalent of "a floating bomb."

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Update #1: Lebanese officials unloaded a 'floating bomb' and apparently ignored warnings for years, according to reports (Business Insider)
Update #2: Beirut deadly blast: What makes ammonium nitrate so dangerous? (DW)

WNU Editor: An abandoned ship with its abandoned cargo of ammonium nitrate being removed and put into storage where it stayed for six years until it exploded on Tuesday. Bottom line. No one owned this cargo.

Michelle Obama Blames President Trump For Suffering From 'Low-Grade Depression'

The Hill: Michelle Obama says she is managing 'low-grade depression'

Former first lady Michelle Obama, in a new episode of her podcast on Wednesday, acknowledged that she is "dealing with some form of low-grade depression" this year.

"Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting," Obama said on the podcast episode, the second episode of the season.

The former first lady in the episode discusses mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing protests over racial injustice with Michele Norris, the former anchor of NPR’s “All Things Considered."

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WNU Editor: She has aged. But to blame President Trump for her "low-grade depression"?!?!?!? The Obamas are on their way to become billionaires. She lives in a mansion. All of her needs are met. Whatever she wants will be given to her. But she is still "down".


In my life I have met many people like her. They can never be satisfied, and they will always blame their dissatisfaction on others. Her podcast is here. 

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates Tells The US Senate Judiciary Committee That Former FBI Director Comey Went 'Rogue'

FOX News: Yates: Comey went 'rogue' with Flynn interview

Yates defended the investigation, but took issue with how Comey handled it.

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that when the FBI interviewed then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn in January 2017, it was done without her authorization, and that she was upset when she found out about it.

Committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Yates about the circumstances surrounding the interview, particularly the actions of then-FBI Director James Comey.

"I was upset that Director Comey didn't coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally," Yates said.

"Did Comey go rogue?" Graham asked.

"You could use that term, yes," Yates agreed.

Yates said she also took issue with Comey for not telling her that Flynn's communications with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were being investigated and that she first learned about this from President Barack Obama during an Oval Office meeting. Yates said she was "irritated" with Comey for not telling her about this earlier.

That meeting, which took place on Jan. 5, 2017, was of great interest to Graham, who wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn's conversations before she did. Graham and other Republicans have speculated that Obama wanted Flynn investigated for nefarious purposes. Yates claimed that this was not the case, and explained why Obama was aware of the calls at the time.

Yates said that after Obama placed sanctions on Russia, the Kremlin vowed to take retaliatory action, only to suddenly change course. She said Obama wanted to find out why, which led to the Justice Department discovering Flynn's talks with Kislyak.

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Update #1: Yates says Obama, Biden didn’t influence Flynn investigation (Politico)
Update #2: Ex-Justice Dept. official says Michael Flynn secretly ‘neutered’ Obama’s moves on Russia (Washington Post)

WNU Editor: President Obama ran a very tight ship. No one went rogue under his administration, and those who did were quickly fired/replaced. So did the former FBI Director go rogue? I have trouble believing that. On another note and one that everyone in the media is ignoring .... former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates confirmed in today's testimony that the Obama administration did monitor incoming Trump administration official General Flynn.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Will There Be A U.S. Presidential Debate This Year?

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Reuters/AFP

Tom Kludt, Vanity Fair: “We’ll Find Out the Night They Have the Debate”: A Trump–Biden Face-Off Is Yet Another Uncertainty in a Turbulent Election Year

The campaigns are at loggerheads over the debate schedule—as Team Trump proposes moderators. Bartiromo? Hewitt? Muir? Still, media insiders are optimistic. “Huge TV audiences,” said one. Trump’s “going to skip that?”

NBC anchor Chuck Todd was skeptical last year that President Donald Trump, who has spent years battling institutions and shredding norms, would agree to the general election debate schedule. Todd said he doubted “there will be debates as far as the way we’re used to them,” and that Trump “is just not going to agree to anything that somebody else suggests.” At that time, Trump was in a position of electoral strength. On Wednesday, however, Todd told me that “Trump is in the position where he needs more debates,” finding himself in the same precarious spot as Jimmy Carter in 1980. “Not only is Trump going to participate, he’s going to ask for more,” Todd said. “They’re already trying.”

A pair of network-news executives I spoke to this week also expect Trump will participate this year, even as he knocked the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday as “left-leaning” on Fox News and—unlike Joe Biden—has yet to commit to the three-debate plan unveiled last October. The executives cited the president‘s sagging poll numbers as a looming factor in the decision, with the debates potentially representing the last opportunity to resuscitate his campaign. Such expectations for the familiar election-year ritual, of course, come in an unprecedented cycle that has seen the national conventions upended and fundraisers held via Zoom.

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WNU Editor: The above author is confident that former Vice-President Biden will participate in this year's US Presidential debates, and that it is President Trump who is the unknown factor. I am not sure if this Vanity Fair columnist is watching how Biden is performing on TV. Case in point. This morning's interview with a sympathetic reporter went off the rails very quickly (see below).

US Director Of Infectious Diseases Dr. Fauci Says US Has The World's Worst COVID-19 Outbreak

Business Insider: 'Numbers don't lie': Fauci says you can't deny the US has the world's worst COVID-19 outbreak

* Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said "the numbers don't lie" when asked if the US has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world.
* "Yeah, it is quantitatively if you look at it, it is. I mean the numbers don't lie," Fauci said.
* Fauci's comments on Wednesday stand in stark contrast with recent rhetoric from President Donald Trump, who has fervently defended his administration's handling of the pandemic as deaths and cases rise.
* Trump has repeatedly downplayed the impact of COVID-19 in the US.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious disease, on Wednesday was unequivocal that the US coronavirus outbreak is the worst in the world.

"We're not quite 5% of the world's population, yet represent 20-25% of the world's infections ... I mean, that has to be the worst. Is it not the worst?" CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked Fauci during an interview.

"Yeah, it is quantitatively if you look at it, it is. I mean the numbers don't lie," Fauci said.

His words directly undercut the misleading and rosy picture President Donald Trump has sought to paint around the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, which is part of a broader effort to downplay his administration's failures in responding to the pandemic.

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WNU Editor: The US has the world's worst Covid-19 numbers today. But this pandemic is far from over, and I will not be surprised if other countries are going to be hit hard with the approach of winter.

What Will Be The Pandemic's Geopolitical Aftershocks?

Mohan Malik, The Strategist: The Pandemic’s Geopolitical Aftershocks

The triple crises of geopolitical power shifts, the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic disasters that flow from it will shape global politics, restructure global supply chains and bring an end to unregulated globalisation. The post-pandemic world is yet to take shape, but it’s likely to be as divided and bifurcated as occurred after World War II.

We are entering a new cold war with eyes wide open, not sleepwalking into it as some would argue. The vast Indo-Pacific region from the western Pacific to the western Indian Ocean is its ground zero.

Every crisis has winners and losers. China emerged as a winner after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2008 global financial crisis. The world’s worst pandemic will also have winners and losers. China could emerge bruised and much weakened in a post-Covid-19 world that is fragmented and has a more regulated style of ‘guided globalisation’.

China’s economy is particularly susceptible to declines in foreign investment, technology controls and export markets. A prolonged economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, war or natural disasters, potentially made worse by the exodus of multinational corporations (aka Chiexit), could even threaten the stability of China’s one-party regime.

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WNU Editor: With most countries now wanting to decouple from China, I cannot help but feel that when this is all over, the biggest geopolitical aftershock will be on China and its place in the world.