Monday, January 22, 2018

Fire Spotted At Russia's Vladivostok Submarine Naval Base


Warzone/The Drive: Fire At Russia's Vladivostok Submarine Base Sure Doesn't Look Like An "Exercise"

Lighting your own sub on fire, or setting a fire right next to one, seems like a pretty stupid, if not unbelievable way to execute a drill.

Videos began emerging overnight of what appeared to be a sizable fire on the frigid water at Russia's submarine base in Vladivostok. Three separate angles show thick black smoke rising from a blaze burning among docked Kilo class diesel-electric attack submarines. Shortly after the videos appeared, Russian media said the fire was part of a "damage control exercise" according to the Russian Navy.

Russia's semi-official news outlet TASS quoted the Russian Navy as stating:

"Exercises to extinguish a fire on the pier using imitation were conducted on the territory of the connection of the Pacific Fleet submarines among the personnel... The personnel coped with the [fire] excellent."

It's very hard to imagine that such a training event would include lighting one of your own submarines on fire, or at least igniting a fire right next to a cluster of submarines sitting vulnerable tied up to a pier.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russian media is calling this an exercise. I am calling it a real fire.

Does India Need A Third Aircraft Carrier?


Robert Beckhusen, National Interest: India's Aircraft Carriers Might Just Be the Ultimate Paper Tiger

The Indian Navy has put out a proposal for its third aircraft carrier, tentatively titled the Vishal due to enter service in the latter 2020s. The 65,000-ton Vishal will be significantly larger than India’s sole current carrier, the Vikramaditya known formerly as the ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, and the incoming second one, the domestically-built Vikrantwhich is expected to enter service later in 2018.

To see why Vishal is a big deal for the Indian Navy, one needs only to look at her proposed air wing — some 57 fighters, more than Vikramaditya — 24 MiG-29Ks — and Vikrant‘s wing of around 30 MiG-29Ks. While below the 75+ aircraft aboard a U.S. Navy Gerald R. Ford-class supercarrier, Vishal will be a proper full-size carrier and India’s first, as the preceding two are really small-deck carriers and limited in several significant ways.

Read more ....

Update #1: Aircraft carrier Vikrant to be commissioned by 2020: Official (Economic Times/PTI)
Update #2: Navy confident of commissioning aircraft carrier Vikrant in two years (The Hindu)

WNU Editor: There is an arms race underway in Asia right now. China's building a third aircraft carrier .... China's Third Aircraft Carrier Will Be A Massive Leap Forward (January 21, 2018) .... so why not India.

The Pentagon Teams Up With Silicon Valley To Revolutionize The Battlefield



FOX News: US military teams up with Silicon Valley to revolutionize the battlefield

The U.S. military is partnering with Silicon Valley to step up its game on the battlefield.

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX), which is part of the Department of Defense, is connecting the U.S. military with companies developing leading-edge technology that would help it carry out missions quicker and cheaper.

"It's all about decision making faster than the enemy,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian told Fox News.

As the commander of the air war in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, Harrigian knows that on today’s complex battlefields, winning often comes down to timing and efficiency.

“We can't do what we need to do every day without software that's the leading edge,” he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It all comes down to software.

Chinese Tech Companies Facing U.S. Security Concerns

Photo from Reuters

The Hill: Security fears spark crackdown on Chinese tech

The federal government is taking steps to reduce the presence of some Chinese technology firms in American markets.

Earlier this month, AT&T scrapped a deal with Chinese phone maker Huawei, reportedly as a result of pressure from anonymous U.S. lawmakers who cited national security concerns. Reuters reported this week that lawmakers are now pressing AT&T to sever all of its commercial ties with Huawei.

And the White House blocked two acquisitions of American companies by Chinese firms in recent months, also citing “national security concerns.”

Lawmakers reportedly are pushing to keep Chinese telecommunications firm China Mobile out of the U.S. for similar reasons.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When the U.S. government banned Russian software giant Kaspersky Labs last year, I said this was the first (among many) where tech companies from overseas will find themselves banned in the U.S. .... Kaspersky Lab Reports Growth Despite U.S. Government Ban (RFE). For Chinese phone maker Huawei .... they are learning that lesson right now.

RAND Study: The Russian Way Of Warfare



Scott Boston & Dara Massicot, RAND Corporation: The Russian Way of Warfare

Russia has recently carried out substantial reforms to its military forces, increasing capability in several key areas. Russia's military has improved to the extent that it is now a reliable instrument of national power that can be used in a limited context to achieve vital national interests. Russian strategists, concerned about the capability of an advanced military adversary to carry out a large-scale conventional aerospace campaign against the Russian heartland, focus on preserving Russian influence in buffer states along its borders and on reinforcing a series of defensive bulwarks. Russian operations will show a high degree of coordination across a wide range of military units, using deception and simultaneity to achieve objectives quickly and minimize periods of vulnerability to an adversary's most dangerous capabilities. Russian tactics will continue to heavily emphasize gaining and maintaining fire superiority over an adversary; leveraging improved ISR capabilities and a wide range of fires platforms; and using speed, surprise, and integrated combined arms in maneuver forces to disrupt and overwhelm enemies once encountered.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The bottom line from this report .... Russia does not have the means to launch a protracted conventional war against the West.

Tweets For Today











Who's Going To Davos



Zero Hedge: Who's Going To Davos

This year’s edition of the World Economic Forum begins on Tuesday in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

According to the organizers, some 3,000 visitors will attend this year's meeting.

As our infographic shows most of them come from the United States.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The World Economic Forum begins on Tuesday, and if President Trump does show up, he will steal the show.

Picture Of The Day

Drills with the participation of military engineers from the assault battalion and obstacle clearing. © Photo: Evgeny Kel / Russian Defense Ministry

WNU Editor: The above picture comes from this photo-gallery .... Red-Blooded Photos of Engineer Troops Day in Russia (Sputnik)

Jamaica Issues State of Emergency Due To Rising Gun Violence



FOX News: Tourists in Jamaica warned to stay in resorts after shootings lead to state of emergency

British and Canadian tourists were warned to stay inside their Montego Bay resorts in Jamaica after a spate of violence led officials there to deploy soldiers and declare a state of emergency.

The British government on Thursday advised its citizens visiting the tropical island that they should “limit movements” outside of resorts and exercise caution if traveling at night.

Police have said they will take a zero tolerance approach to crime in the parish of St. James, where Montego Bay is located, and nearby communities that have seen an increase in killings that officials blame on gangs and lottery scams.

On Jan. 19 Canada advised citizens visiting Jamaica to “exercise a high degree of caution” while traveling in the country.

Read more ....

Update #1: British tourists warned to 'stay in resorts' in Jamaica security emergency (BBC)
Update #2: Britons in Jamaica's Montego Bay urged to stay in resorts (The Guardian/Agencies)
Update #3: Jamaica travel: Everything you need to know about state of emergency -- The Independent

WNU Editor: A couple that we know went to a Montego Bay resort for a week after Christmas. They told me when they came back that you can gunfire at night in the distance.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mexico's Murder Rate Is Out Of Control

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

The Guardian: Drug violence blamed for Mexico's record 29,168 murders in 2017

Homicide rate surpasses that from peak year of country’s drug war in 2011, official figures show.

Mexico recorded more than 29,000 murders in 2017, the highest annual tally in decades, government figures have shown.

The country has struggled with years of violence as the state has battled drug cartels that have increasingly splintered into smaller, more bloodthirsty gangs.

The record 29,168 murders in 2017 is higher than the homicide rate at peak of Mexico’s drug war in 2011, when there were 27,213.

The interior ministry reported the figures on Sunday, which are the highest since comparable records began in 1997.

Read more ....

Update #1: Mexico posts highest homicide rate in decades (AP)
Update #2: With 25,339 murders in 2017, Mexico suffers record homicide tally (Reuters)

WNU Editor: So much for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's election campaign pledge in 2012 that he was going to cut the murder rate.

In Venezuela You Must Loot Or Die From Hunger



The Guardian: 'We loot or we die of hunger': food shortages fuel unrest in Venezuela

As the country’s economic problems mount, towns and cities have been hit by an outbreak of looting and violence

Amid desperate food shortages Venezuelans are picking up new survival skills.

On the night of 9 January, for example, a hungry mob took just 30 minutes to pick clean a grocery store in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz. By the time owner Luis Felipe Anatael arrived at the bodega he’d opened five months earlier, the looters had hauled away everything from cold cuts to ketchup to the cash registers.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As bad as it is now, the anger and hatred that will be focused on the Venezuelan government when this is all over will be worse, and it will last for generations.

More News On The Crisis In Venezuela

Venezuela's economic collapse, by the numbers -- Axios
You can't get $1 out of the bank in Venezuela. I tried. -- CNN
Venezuelan Hyperinflation Explodes, Soaring Over 440000 Percent -- Bloomberg
Venezuela is trying to float its own cryptocurrency to save a sinking economy—but investors aren't believing the 'petro' hype -- CNBC
Venezuela's woes may give way to future Opec headache -- The National
Why Venezuela Suffers -- Wall Street Journal

Was The 'Fix In' For The Clinton Email Probe?

The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington, DC, U.S. on July 14, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo Reuters

FOX News: Newly released texts between ex-Mueller team members suggest they knew outcome of Clinton email probe in advance

The Justice Department has given various congressional committees nearly 400 pages of additional text messages between two FBI officials who were removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

One of the newly discovered messages, lawmakers said, appeared to indicate that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page knew that charges would not be filed against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as a result of the investigation into her email server -- before Clinton was interviewed by the bureau.

Strzok and Page were pulled off the probe last summer after it emerged that some of their messages to each other included anti-Trump content. Strzok, an FBI counterintelligence agent, was reassigned to the Bureau's human resources division after the discovery of the exchanges with Page, with whom he was having an affair.

Read more ....

Update #1: Senator: FBI missing months of texts between officials involved in Trump, Clinton probes (Politico)
Update #2: Was Lynch coordinating with Comey in the Clinton investigation? (Sharyl Attkisson, The Hill)

WNU Editor: As of this moment these text messages have not been publicly released .... they are being quoted by lawmakers. But the disturbing part of this entire report is not the possibility that the fix was in for the probe on how Hillary Clinton used her email server, but that critical text messages were not saved during a critical moment during the Trump transition .... FBI did not save officials’ texts during key period in Trump probe, senator says (Washington Post). More here .... More texts turned over from FBI agent taken off Mueller team (CBS/AP), and here .... FBI ‘Failed To Preserve’ Five Months Of Text Messages Between Anti-Trump FBI Agents (Daily Caller). The FBI has already given a technical explanation on why these texts were lost .... but still .... the optics look horrible. Correction .... this sticks to high-heaven.

UNICEF: 250,000 Children In War-Torn South Sudan Are "At Risk Of Imminent Death"

Al Jazeera: War-hit children in S Sudan 'at risk of imminent death'

More than 250,000 children in war-torn South Sudan are "at risk of imminent death" because of severe malnutrition, a United Nations official has said.

Henrietta H Fore, executive director of the UN children's agency (UNICEF), issued the stark warning on Friday after a two-day visit to some of the areas most affected by the country's civil war, now in its fifth year.

"It's serious here in South Sudan," she told Al Jazeera from South Sudan's capital, Juba.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This makes the crisis worse .... 28 aid workers killed in South Sudan last year, a new high (ABC News/AP)

More News On UNICEF's Report That 250,000 Children In War-Torn South Sudan Are "At Risk Of Imminent Death"

250,000 South Sudanese children could die by July -- Axios
UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict -- Africa News/Reuters
South Sudan Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 01. 18 January 2018 (Relief Web)
Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore following two-day visit to conflict-ravaged South Sudan -- Relief Web
Farmers Risk Whippings as War Decimates South Sudan Breadbasket -- Bloomberg

United Nations Seeks $3 Billion To Aid 13.1 Million People In Yemen

Relief Web: US$ 2.96 billion needed to provide life-saving assistance to 13.1 million people in Yemen in 2018

Sana’a, 21 January 2018 - The United Nations and humanitarian partners today launched the 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP)which seeks US$2.96 billion to provide lifesaving assistance to 13.1 million people this year. This is the largest consolidated humanitarian appeal for Yemen ever launched.

Three years of escalated conflict have turned Yemen into the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time. Three quarters of the population – 22.2 million people – need humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million people in acute need who urgently require assistance to survive.

Read more ....

Update #1: UN appeals for $3B in aid to war-battered Yemen (FOX News/AP)
Update #2: UN appeals for $3 billion to save Yemen (The New Arab)

WNU Editor: This is as bad as it gets .... Humanitarian Response Plan Snapshot January-December 2018.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 21, 2018



Simon Tisdall, The Guardian: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's risky gamble could quickly turn sour

Turkish president defies Russia, the US and Bashar al-Assad with assault on Kurds in Syria

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Kurdish vendetta has taken a dramatic new twist with the cross-border ground assault on the Afrin enclave in north-west Syria.

Defying Russia, the US, and Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Turkey’s headstrong president is betting on a decisive victory over Syrian Kurd forces. But his risky gamble could quickly turn sour.

The initial incursion by Turkish troops and their Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies on Sunday, preceded by days of airstrikes and artillery shelling, appeared tentative and limited in scope. The Syrian Kurd People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, said to number 10,000 fighters in Afrin, is not giving an inch. They are dug in and they are defending the Rojava – the fabled Kurdish homeland.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 21, 2018

Is America's Alliance with Turkey Worth It? -- Ted Galen Carpenter, National Interest

Turkey’s State of Emergency: Could the Kurdish issue be the one that ultimately shakes Erdoğan’s seemingly unbreakable grip on power? -- Maurice Glasman, The Nation

Palestine's Outdated Leadership Threatens Its Future -- Mohammed Ayoob, National Interest

Destroying the Iran Deal While Claiming to Save It -- Philip Gordon and Robert Malley, The Atlantic

Iran's wealth gap: tens of millions struggle to get by -- Zein Basravi, Al Jazeera

Iran's Latest Revolution Won't Fade Away -- Geneive Abdo and Abdallah Hendawy, Bloomberg

The next supreme leader could transform Iran -- Saeid Golkar, Al Jazeera

Why is Jerusalem so central to Pence's Middle East visit? -- Reuters

On the Politics behind Tunisia’s Protests -- Issandr El Amrani and Michael Ayari, Cairo Review

Anger that drove the Arab spring is flaring again -- Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian

Big News From China: Its Implosion Didn't Happen -- Daniel Moss, Bloomberg

Matteo Renzi fights to save Italy (and himself) -- Giada Zampano, Politico

U.S. rising as world's 'undisputed' energy leader, global chief tells senators -- John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The World Has Never Seen an Oil Spill Like This -- Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

What to do when liberals are the censors? -- John Lloyd, Reuters

A year of real change -- President Donald Trump

Iran To Stage Massive Military Drills Tomorrow

Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari

Tasnim News Agency: Iranian Army to Stage Massive Military Drills Tomorrow

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iranian Army’s forces plan to hold a large-scale joint war game in Makran coasts and the Sea of Oman in southeastern Iran on Monday, the deputy chief of the Army for coordination announced.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday morning, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the military drills code-named “Muhammad Rasulullah-5 (Muhammad, the Messenger of God)”, would cover a vast area, including all of the Makran coasts and the Sea of Oman.

He further emphasized that all of the forces of the Army, including the Navy, the Ground Force, and the Air Force as well as air defense unit would participate in the war game.

Read more ....

Update #1: Iran to conduct war games near southern coast (AMN Al-Masdar News)
Update #2: Army to hold drills in southern Makran region (Mehr News Agency)

WNU Editor: This is what I call the Iranians sending a message to everyone in the region.

China Mocks The U.S. Government Shutdown

The U.S. Capitol is seen through traffic during rush hour in Washington Jan. 19, 2018. The U.S. government was shutting down as the Senate failed to pass a stopgap spending bill on Friday. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

Reuters: Chinese state media: US government shutdown exposes 'chronic flaws'

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's official news agency said in a commentary on Sunday that the shutdown of the U.S. government exposed "chronic flaws" in the U.S. political system.

Funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight on Friday in Washington after lawmakers failed to agree on a stopgap funding bill.

"What's so ironic is that it came on the first anniversary of Donald Trump's presidency on Saturday, a slap in the face for the leadership in Washington," China's Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary by Xinhua writer Liu Chang.

The commentary said that the Trump administration had "backtracked" on policies supported by his predecessor, Barack Obama, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese are not the only ones who are mocking and/or are "scratching their heads" on why there is a U.S. government shutdown. Every news outlet in the world is following this story, and almost all of them are acknowledging that this shutdown is primarily over the immigration status of those who entered the country illegally. But this is where it gets interesting .... the comments that are being posted are coming from a lot of people who do not understand why the U.S. government should be shut down over people who are not even American citizens. As an immigrant myself (albeit I am in Canada) .... I also do not understand .... especially when I know that there are numerous avenues for people to get a proper and legal status to live, work, and obtain a U.S. citizenship if they try.

Xinhua writer Liu Chang's commentary is here .... Gov't shutdown exposes chronic flaw in U.S. political system (Liu Chang, Xinhua)

Is China Preparing To Lay The Groundwork To Claim The East Coast Of The Philippines?



George Amurao, Asia Times: China eyes Philippines’ strategic eastern shores

Manila's allowance for a Chinese state-funded think tank to conduct 'scientific' research at Benham Rise has raised concerns of ulterior motives.

After consolidating control over Philippine-claimed features in the South China Sea, China is now casting its gaze on the island nation’s eastern waters opening onto the Pacific Ocean.

Last week, Filipino Congressman Gary Alejano revealed in a privilege speech that the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) had approved a Chinese state-funded think tank’s request to conduct a scientific survey of the Benham Rise, a seismically active 13 million hectare underwater plateau.

As part of the agreement, China’s Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) will work with a team from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute. Largely undeveloped, the marine feature is believed to be rich in natural gas, heavy metals, fisheries and other resources.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Using the playbook on the eastern shores of the Philippines as they have did on the western shores in the South China Sea .... who is to stop China if they should decide to build an artificial island(s) in these waters, and when completed then make their territorial claims. It may sound far-fetch .... but this is exactly what happened when China started to explore and construct artificial islands in the South China Sea .... most were not concerned until China completed their island construction, built their defenses, and then lay claim to the the entire region. But it does not even stop there .... need I remind everyone that the Chinese believe they also have a claim to the Arctic .... China Lays Claim To The Arctic (March 9, 2010)