Monday, April 6, 2020

Is The U.S. Preparing Military Actions Against The Venezuelan Regime Of Maduro?

Miami Herald: U.S. expands Navy presence in Caribbean. Is military action against Maduro more likely?

When President Donald Trump weighed the options earlier last year to address the political and humanitarian consequences of Nicolás Maduro’s tight grip on power in Venezuela, he realized his harsh rhetoric against the South American leader was not backed up by a show of force in the region.

That was corrected Wednesday, as Trump, surrounded by the country’s top officials, announced an expanded military presence near the Venezuelan shores that had been unseen for decades.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, National Security Council Director Robert O’Brien and Attorney General William Barr all said during the press conference that the additional military is meant to crack down on “counternarcotics operations,” but is also aimed at denying funds to Maduro and his closest allies, who have been recently indicted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The White House is focused on the Covid-19 pandemic. Venezuela is important, but it is not a priority for the administration. Newsweek is saying that Pentagon officials have told them that the U.S. Navy expansion in the Caribbean is a diversion from the coronavirus crisis .... Trump Administration Used Venezuela Anti-Drug Operation to Distract from Coronavirus Crisis at Home, Officials Say (Newsweek). I have doubts about this Newsweek report. Short of a nuclear war, nothing is going to divert the American public's attention right now from the Covid-19 pandemic.

U.S. Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff Says President Trump Is Decapitating The Leadership Of The Intelligence Community'

The Guardian: Trump 'decapitating' intelligence leadership amid coronavirus crisis – Schiff

President says someone should ‘sue the ass off’ whistleblower whose complaint fired official relayed

Donald Trump is “decapitating the leadership of the intelligence community in the middle of a national crisis”, senior Democrat Adam Schiff has charged, after the president fired the inspector general of the US intelligence community late on Friday night.

News of the firing of Michael Atkinson came as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the US passed 7,000 and the White House faced continuing criticism for its handling of the response.

Trump raged about Atkinson at Saturday’s White House coronavirus taskforce briefing, claiming someone should “sue the ass off” the whistleblower whose complaint Atkinson relayed to Congress, per his constitutional duty.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff wants to set up 9/11-style commission to review the White House's coronavirus response .... Lawmakers fight for a piece of coronavirus ‘9/11 commission’ (Politico). Translation .... it looks like they want to lay the ground-work to impeach President Trump again. What I want to know is why did the US intelligence committee that oversees the intel community and led by Chairman Adam Schiff failed in its duty to warn the public that the intel community was not doing its job on the growing coronavirus outbreak in China in December, January, and February. Is it because they were more focused at the time on impeaching President Trump instead of overseeing the intel community and protecting the American public?Just asking.

Will The Air Force's X-37B 'Orbital Drone' Be The First Of America's Space Weapons?


David Axe, National Interest: Could The Air Force's X-37B 'Orbital Drone' Be The First Of America's Space Weapons?

For now, space weapons are prohibited by treaty.

Key point: The Air Force denies that the X-37B has ever carried weapons. Overtly arming a spacecraft would be a violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

A Dutch skywatcher achieved a rare feat in late June and early July 2019. Using a 10-inch-diameter telescope fitted with a camera, Ralf Vandebergh photographed the U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane in mid-mission 210 miles over Earth’s surface.

"We can recognize a bit of the nose, payload bay and tail of this mini-shuttle, with even a sign of some smaller detail," Vandebergh told

Vandebergh had been hunting for the robotic spacecraft for months and finally managed to track it down in May 2019, according to reporter Leonard David. But it took a few more weeks to actually photograph the roughly 29-feet-long robotic shuttle.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Space weapons are prohibited by treaty (for now).

Video Emerges Of Venezuelan Navy Ship Naiguata Firing On And Colliding With The Cruise Ship The Resolute Before Sinking

Daily Mail: Venezuelan Navy releases video of moment German cruise liner collides with one of its warships which then sinks

* New video shows the moment a Venezuelan naval vessel and German cruise ship collided last Monday
* A seaman aboard the Venezuelan patrol boat Naiguata is seen in the footage firing an AK-47 at the RGCS Resolute
* The Naiguata, in the heavily edited footage released by the Venezuelan government, is then seen facing the liner head on
* Moments later, the Resolute, which has a hull that's reinforced to enable the ship to smash through ice, strikes the warship, which begins to take on water
* The Resolute's operator, Columbia Cruise Services, insists the Venezuelans were the aggressor in an ill-fated attempt to illegally seize the vessel

New video footage shows when a Venezuelan naval vessel and German cruise ship collide, which causes the warship to sink because the liner had a hull that was reinforced for crashing through ice.

A seaman aboard the patrol boat Naiguata is seen at the beginning of the footage firing an AK-47 at the RGCS Resolute from Germany last Monday

The heavily edited footage released by the Venezuelan Navy shows the warship at one point facing the cruise ship head on.

Read more ....

Update #1: Video Emerges Of Venezuelan Navy Ship Firing On And Colliding With Cruise Ship Before Sinking (Warzone/The Drive)
Update #2: Venezuelan Navy Retweets Questionable ‘Evidence’ In Cruise Ship Case (Forbes)

WNU Editor: Bottom line. Do not let a ship whose hull has been reinforced for crashing through ice crash into yours.

Former Captain Of The Aircraft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt Tested Positive For The Covid-19 Coronavirus

Daily Mail: Fired captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt tests positive for coronavirus as it's revealed top US commanders 'were opposed to his dismissal but were OVERRULED by Navy secretary because Trump wanted him gone over letter'

* Capt. Brett Crozier has tested positive for COVID-19, according to close friends
* Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly decided to remove Crozier on Thursday
* Crozier wrote letter to Navy high command about coronavirus on USS Roosevelt
* He demanded Navy evacuate aircraft carrier due to an outbreak on board
* Crozier's letter was eventually leaked to the news media on Monday
* Military chiefs initially began investigation into the leak of Crozier's letter
* Acting secretary reportedly fired him immediately against colleagues' advice
* Modly is reported to have been told that the president wanted Crozier gone
* Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of Joint Chiefs, reportedly backed military probe
* Top naval officer, Adm. Michael Gilday, is also said to have opposed termination
* But they were reportedly overruled by Modly, who announced firing on Thursday
* Video online shows sailors giving rousing salute to Modly as he left ship in Guam

Captain Brett Crozier, the officer who was relieved of command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt after his letter warning of a coronavirus outbreak on board the ship leaked to the press, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier who remain close to the family revealed the diagnosis to The New York Times on Sunday.

The classmates told the Times that Crozier began to show symptoms of the disease before he was dismissed by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Thursday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Pentagon says President Trump was not involved in the firing of Capt. Brett Crozier, but the President supports the firing .... Donald Trump says he '100 percent' agrees with the firing of USS Theodore Roosevelt captain and blasts the Navy commander for his 'terrible' leaked letter warning of coronavirus that infected 155 of the crew (Daily Mail). The acting US Navy Secretary is clearly unhappy with Capt. Brett Crozier .... Acting U.S. Navy chief says fired ship captain may have been 'stupid' -officials (Reuters). As for the sailors, according to the media reports they support the captain .... USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors believe fired captain should have been PROMOTED for letter pleading for help to evacuate and say they 'braced for the worst' when coronavirus spread through the ship (Daily Mail).

More News On The Firing Of Captain Brett Crozier

He Led a Top Navy Ship. Now He Sits in Quarantine, Fired and Infected -- New York Times
Ousted USS Theodore Roosvelt captain tests positive for coronavirus, defense official says -- FOX News
Acting Navy secretary blasts ousted aircraft carrier captain as 'stupid' in address to ship's crew -- CNN
Esper defends firing of Navy ship captain over virus warning -- AP
U.S. Defense chief backs Navy decision to oust U.S. ship commander -- Reuters
Fired Captain Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is facing disciplinary action for raising virus alarm says Navy chief - despite huge backlash at his removal amid thunderous goodbye from his loyal crew -- Daily Mail
'She can't talk and breathe at the same time': Mother of coronavirus-stricken sailor on USS Theodore Roosevelt reveals fears for her daughter as thousands of crew are evacuated from the vessel in Guam -- Daily Mail

Pentagon Orders U.S. Military Personnel To Wear Face Coverings, Including Using 'Cloth Face Coverings'

US Army soldiers wear qualitative test fit hoods in Seattle, Washington, U.S., April 1, 2020. © REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Military Times: SECDEF issues guidelines for how troops will start wearing face coverings in public to prevent COVID-19 spread

Service members will be instructed to start wearing face coverings in public in the latest effort to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in in a military-wide memo issued Sunday afternoon.

DoD will not issue masks specifically for this and the memo says individuals should make their own face coverings.

Read more ....

More News On The Pentagon Ordering U.S. Military Personnel To Wear Face Coverings

US Troops Will Be Directed to Wear Face Masks, SecDef Says --
Pentagon announces new face mask guidance -- ABC News
Pentagon mandates all workers wear face coverings to protect against coronavirus -- FOX News
U.S. Military Tells Members to Make Their Own Masks to Fight Coronavirus in New Guidelines Met with Criticism -- Newsweek
Esper directs individuals on Defense property to wear 'cloth face coverings' when they can't practice social distancing -- CNN
Defense Secretary directs troops to wear face coverings when social distancing isn't possible -- Task & Purpose
Pentagon orders US military personnel to wear face coverings made from... ‘СLEAN T-SHIRTS’ & other household items -- RT

Taliban Warn That Their Deal With The U.S. In Afghanistan Is Near The Breaking Point

Members of Afghanistan's Taliban delegation gather ahead of an agreement signing with US officials in Doha, Qatar, on February 29, 2020. Reuters

DW: Taliban accuses US of violating Doha peace agreement

The militant group said it is "asking the Americans to seriously comply" with a preliminary peace deal. US military officials have accused the group of distorting the deal, saying it should be the one reducing violence.

The Taliban militant group has accused the US of failing to comply with the terms of a confidence-building agreement that included releasing thousands of militants and suspending attacks on military targets, Afghan media reported on Sunday.

"We are asking the Americans to seriously comply with the contents of the agreement and to alert their allies to fully abide by the agreement," the Taliban said in a statement published online.

Read more ....

More News On The Taliban Warning That Their Deal With The U.S. In Afghanistan Is Near The Breaking Point

Taliban warn peace deal with US near breaking point -- ABC News/AP
Taliban warn deal with US in Afghanistan near breaking point -- Al Jazeera
Taliban warn US agreement breach could lead to mistrust -- Arab News

Will Russia Cancel It's Massive Victory Day Parade And Celebrations On May 9?

The Guardian: Russia defies calls to halt Victory Day parade rehearsals

Defence ministry presses on with plans for 9 May event with 15,000 troops, despite coronavirus pandemic.

Russia is holding rehearsals for its Victory Day parade, scheduled for 9 May despite the coronavirus crisis, as the Kremlin resists cancelling a patriotic holiday with major political significance.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is supposed to host France’s Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders at a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the second world war. The event is a significant historical landmark for Russia and a coveted photo opportunity to claim Putin’s re-emergence from political isolation in the west.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For the moment all preparations and rehearsals will continue (see above video). In Russia everyone goes out in their city/town/village on May 9 to watch their version of a Victory Day parade. If you want to infect a good portion of your population with this disease, I cannot think of a better way. I personally hope they will cancel, but they will not. This is the 75th anniversary of the defeat of the 'Nazis, and everything is being done to make it the biggest celebration since 1945. The only scenario where I can see them cancelling everything is if the hospitals are overflowing with patients, the morgues are filled, bodies are on the street, and no one is being buried because the grave-diggers are either sick or dead. Then, and only then, they may cancel it (and that is a big maybe). On a personal note. I am/was suppose to be in the Russian city of Vyazma with my mother on this day. It is a city that is about 100km west of Moscow, and my mom (along with her two sisters) are the last surviving members of the city that was destroyed by the Germans during the Second World War. The city was going to honour my mom, but with all international flights into Russia cancelled or restricted, and with the Covid-19 coronavirus raging in Canada where I live, I told my mom and the people that I know in Vyazma that such a trip and my mom's participation will not be possible. They understand, but they still want to honour my mom on what she and my family went through, and they will do so in the future.

Kremlin Continues To Claim That It's Covid-19 Coronavirus Outbreak Is Small

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Denis Protsenko a week before the hospital chief announced he had COVID-19. (AP: Alexei Druzhinin)

ABC News Online: Russia says its coronavirus outbreak is extremely small. Vladimir Putin's critics say that's a facade

Last week, Vladimir Putin came face to face with the coronavirus and emerged unscathed. Nobody was surprised.

He'd been seen on Russian television, touring a hospital and standing just centimetres from a doctor who later tested positive.

However, according to the Kremlin, tests showed "everything was OK" with Mr Putin.

While the 67-year-old President may indeed be fit and well, a positive test result would not have been in keeping with his strongman image.

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WNU Editor: The Kremlin may be forced to change its tune in the following days .... Russia confirms biggest one-day spike in new Covid-19 cases, as almost 1000 reported on Monday (RT). In another sign that the Kremlin is concerned on the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, Russian President Putin will be continuing to work "remotely" .... Putin to Cut Down Personal Contacts, Work Remotely for at Least Another Week – Kremlin (Sputnik).

Japan To Declare A State Of Emergency As Early As Tuesday To Stop The Covid-19 Coronavirus

Reuters: Japan to declare coronavirus emergency, launch $990 billion stimulus: PM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is to impose a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures as early as Tuesday to try to stop the coronavirus, the prime minister said, with the government preparing a $990 billion stimulus package to soften the economic blow.

More than 3,500 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Japan and 85 have died - not a huge outbreak compared with some hot spots. But the numbers keep rising with particular alarm over the spread in Tokyo, which has more than 1,000 cases, including 83 new ones on Monday.

“Given the state of crisis on the medical front, the government was advised to prepare to declare the state of emergency,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Japanese government will be declaring a state of emergency coupled with a trillion dollar aid package .... Japan's Abe unveils 'massive' coronavirus stimulus worth 20% of GDP (Reuters), but they will not lock down the cities .... Abe says he'll declare emergency, but won't lock down Japan's cities (Nikkei Asian Review).

More News On Reports That Japan Will Be Declaring A State Of Emergency

Japan's govt. to declare state of emergency -- NHK
Japan PM Abe to declare state of emergency amid surge in virus infections -- Kyodo News Agency
Japan PM to declare state of emergency as early as Tuesday -- AP
Japan’s Abe announces coronavirus stimulus package and state of emergency -- France24
Japan poised to declare state of emergency over coronavirus -- The Guardian
Japan declaring weeks-long state of emergency -- The Hill
Running out of beds and gear, Tokyo medical staff say Japan's 'state of emergency' already here -- Reuters
Japan calls coronavirus pandemic 'biggest crisis' since world war -- Al Jazeera

U.S. Coronavirus Peak Death Rate Is Expected To Strike The U.S. In 11 Days When 2,644 People Are Projected To Die In 24 Hours

Daily Mail: Coronavirus peak death rate will strike U.S. in 11 days when 2,644 people will die in 24 hours as shocking graphs reveal grim state-by-state breakdown of when hospitals will be overwhelmed and how many will die

* Metrics model shows the US is 10 days from its peak resource use, when 262,092 hospital beds, including 39,727 ICU beds, will be needed
* The University of Washington's Institute for Health warns that the protections for each state assume that social distancing measures are maintained
* It shows New York - the epicenter of the outbreak in the US - will reach its peak in five days with 855 deaths
* The figures for Illinois make for particularly grim reading; COVID-19 deaths there are expected to hit 3,386 by August 4 with the state's peak in 15 days when an estimated 109 people will die in 24 hours

Shocking graphs have revealed the United States is still 11 days away from its coronavirus peak when it is predicted 2,644 people will die in 24 hours across the nation.

The stark new model - created by researchers from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics - also shows the country is also 10 days from its peak resource use, when 262,092 hospital beds will be needed.

That is 87,674 less than the number of beds the U.S. has to its disposal, the predictions show. A staggering 39,727 ICU beds will be required; the estimated shortage of these will be 19,863, it adds.

Researchers also warn 100,000 Americans will die by August 4. Previous White House predictions have put the figure between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the US if the nation continues on its trajectory and current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics's model details a grim state-by-state breakdown of when hospitals will be overwhelmed and how many will die.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here are the latest numbers in the past 24 hours .... US reports 363 fewer deaths from coronavirus in 24 hours as toll reaches 9,662: Latest figures show a slight drop in single-day casualties - but experts warn the real number is far higher because of the shortage in testing (Daily Mail).

More News On Projected Estimates That The U.S. Will Be Facing A Peak Death Rate From The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

US, UK brace for soaring death tolls as pandemic bears down -- AP
Europe's coronavirus numbers offer hope as US enters 'peak of terrible pandemic' -- The Guardian
U.S. faces 'really bad' week as coronavirus deaths spike -- Reuters
Coronavirus: Trump predicts ‘a lot of death’ as cases pass 300,000 -- BBC
Coronavirus: Trump voices hope for ‘levelling-off’ in US hotspots -- BBC
'This is our Pearl Harbor moment': Surgeon General Jerome Adams says coronavirus is defining moment for this generation, claiming this will be 'the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives' as death toll is expected to peak next Thursday -- Daily Mail
US braces for 'Pearl Harbor moment' as coronavirus death toll rises -- France 24
Surgeon General: This week will be like a 'Pearl Harbor' and '9/11' moment -- CNN

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Picture Of The Day

A Christ the Redeemer statue made from sand is pictured with a mask on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 28, 2020. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

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

Sunday, April 5, 2020

When Will This Pandemic's Lockdown Restrictions End? Deutsche Bank Has Some Estimates

Zero Hedge: When Will The Coronavirus Lockdowns Be Lifted? Here Are One Bank's Estimates

With most of the developed world on lockdown, and markets and economies paralyzed until there is a material decline in new coronavirus cases, i.e., until we slide "over the hump" of the coronavirus curve, the biggest question - and variable - in assessing the economic damage unleashed by the covid-19 virus is the length of the lockdowns now in force, with Deutsche Bank's Luke Templeman pointing out that "politicians and health officials have discussed dates ranging anywhere from weeks to over a year."

In an attempt to answer this most important for capital markets question, namely when will the civic and economic restrictions begin to be lifted in various key countries, Deutsche Bank provides some estimates largely based on the experience of the lockdown and reopening in China's Hubei province.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I do not share Deutche Banks view on when these lockdowns will be lifted. They based their projections on what is happening in China, and I frankly do not believe what China is reporting. There is also the issue of their being no vaccine and/or no medical remedy to treat this disease, meaning that we are probably going to be facing repeat outbreaks in the future.

A View From Henry Kissinger On The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic And Its Aftermath

Henry Kissinger in his office on Park Ave. Manhattan Photo: DAVID HOWELLS

Henry Kissinger, WSJ: The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order

The U.S. must protect its citizens from disease while starting the urgent work of planning for a new epoch.

The surreal atmosphere of the Covid-19 pandemic calls to mind how I felt as a young man in the 84th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. Now, as in late 1944, there is a sense of inchoate danger, aimed not at any particular person, but striking randomly and with devastation. But there is an important difference between that faraway time and ours. American endurance then was fortified by an ultimate national purpose. Now, in a divided country, efficient and farsighted government is necessary to overcome obstacles unprecedented in magnitude and global scope. Sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity, to the relation of societies with each other, and to international peace and stability.

Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed. Whether this judgment is objectively fair is irrelevant. The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus. To argue now about the past only makes it harder to do what has to be done.

The coronavirus has struck with unprecedented scale and ferocity. Its spread is exponential: U.S. cases are doubling every fifth day. At this writing, there is no cure. Medical supplies are insufficient to cope with the widening waves of cases. Intensive-care units are on the verge, and beyond, of being overwhelmed. Testing is inadequate to the task of identifying the extent of infection, much less reversing its spread. A successful vaccine could be 12 to 18 months away.

The U.S. administration has done a solid job in avoiding immediate catastrophe. The ultimate test will be whether the virus’s spread can be arrested and then reversed in a manner and at a scale that maintains public confidence in Americans’ ability to govern themselves. The crisis effort, however vast and necessary, must not crowd out the urgent task of launching a parallel enterprise for the transition to the post-coronavirus order.

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WNU Editor: Not a fan of Henry Kissinger. But his analysis is correct. Once this is over the "world order" is going to be different.

Where The World Is On The "Corona Curve"

Zero Hedge: This Is Where The World Is On The "Corona Curve" At This Moment

Two weeks ago, we wrote that with 1.7 billion people in the world under quarantine (a number which has since ballooned to over 3 billion) and "desperate to find out where on the coronavirus "curve" they are to calculate how much more pain there is, JPM made an attempt at a (very nonscientific) visual representation of where on the curve the main covid outbreaks in the world currently stand." Additionally, this is how we laid out the good/not so good/bad news as of March 24:

* The good news, China has is now well into the recovery phase, although since any and every number out of China is a lie, we would ignore any reports that the covid pandemic in China is easing especially after a spate of recent indications that China is openly manipulating its infection numbers. Also good news: Korea is almost "over the hump", and absent new clusters emerging in the next few days, should be in recovery.

* The not so good news: both Italy and Iran are in the "late accumulation" phase. If they fail to halt the breakout at this point as the recovery phase approaches, it will get very ugly as much of the local population could then be infected. Behind Italy and Iran is the rest of Europe, with Spain, Germany, France, the UK all in the acceleration phase. The onus in on them to execute successful lockdowns.

* Finally, the bad news: both the US and India are at the very start of the curve and things will get much uglier in the coming weeks before they get better.

Long story, short, this is what the global "corona curve" looked as of March 24.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Bottom line. Many countries are only now starting up this curve.

China Advises Foreign Diplomats To Stay Away

UPI: China urges foreign diplomats to stay away

Beijing's foreign ministry is advising foreign diplomats to refrain from traveling to China, a week after it banned all non-Chinese people from entering the country.

Chinese diplomatic spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday at a regular press briefing China's priorities lie in preventing the importation of the deadly coronavirus back into the country and blocking a second wave of infections.

China has claimed since last month the epidemic is under control and that the situation has stabilized. Travel restrictions have been lifted against the residents of Hubei Province, the epicenter of China's outbreak, but the public may be leery of official assessments. Last week, police in Jiangxi Province fought back people from Hubei attempting to cross a bridge.

On Friday Hua said globetrotting diplomats should not be an exception to the rule.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Advising foreign diplomats not to come to China is one more reason why people are skeptical that China has a grip on this pandemic .... As China goes back to work, many wonder if the country's coronavirus recovery can be trusted (CNN).