Sunday, August 1, 2021

It Has Almost Been One Year Since The Massive Beirut Port Blast


 France 24: One year after deadly blast, Beirut struggles with ‘trauma after trauma’ 

Huge twin blasts in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 left more than 200 people dead and 6,000 injured. The source of the disaster was 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a compound used as a fertiliser that is also a very powerful explosive agent. It had been stored at the port with no precautions for more than six years. The tragedy soon became a symbol of Lebanon’s years-long political, social and economic crises. Despite promises of change, wounds left by the explosion have yet to heal.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: A year after Beirut blast, Lebanon sinks deep into mire of corruption (The Guardian) 

Update #2: Beirut blast one year on: No answers and no economic optimism (RTE) 

 WNU Editor: For those who are interested on what became of the bride almost swept away by the Beirut blast (see video below). 

China Warns Britain Is 'A Bi*ch And Is Asking For A Beating' If British Warships Challenge Beijing's Claim To The South China Sea.

China has warned Britain to ‘remain restrained and obey the rules’ as the Royal Navy’s carrier strike group (CSG) sails through the South China Sea (PA Media)

The UK strike group plans to carry out 'freedom of navigation' operations in the South China Sea as a rebuke to Beijing, which claims part of the waters as its own  

The Independent: China warns ‘b***h’ Britain about aircraft carrier sailing in disputed South China Sea 

China has warned Britain against provocation in the wake of Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group approaching the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca on Sunday. 

“We seriously warn this group: They are obliged to remain restrained and obey the rules. Please follow the current international shipping lanes and stay at least 12 nautical miles away from the Chinese islands and reefs,” wrote state mouthpiece Global Times. 

China’s defence ministry spokesperson, Wu Qian, said the country respected freedom of navigation but “the action should never try to destabilise regional peace, including the latest military collaboration between the UK and Japan”.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Here is Chinese state media's warning .... UK shouldn’t tempt own fate in South China Sea (Global Times editorial). 

More News On China Warning Britain Is Asking For A Beating' If British Warships Challenge Beijing's Claim To The South China Sea.  

China has warned Britain is 'a bi*ch... asking for a beating' if British warships challenge Beijing's claim to the South China Sea. -- Daily Mail 

China tells UK to ‘obey the rules’ as Royal Navy enters South China Sea -- Evening Standard 

'Obey the rules': China's stern warning to the UK -- AAP  

UK says it has no plans for South China Sea confrontation after Beijing warning -- The Guardian  

Britain Wants No Escalation in South China Sea, Report Says After Royal Navy Mission Irks Beijing -- Sputnik  

UK's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier pictured in South China Sea -- CNN

India, China Hold 12th Round Of Talks On Border Dispute


Indian Express: Ladakh standoff: India, China hold 12th round of talks; hope for a breakthrough 

Sources said the meeting, which began around 10.30 am, continued until 7.30 pm, and defence establishment sources were hopeful of reaching an understanding for disengagement from Hot Spring and Gogra Post, Patrolling Point (PP) 15 and PP17A, respectively, friction points. 

India and China held the 12th round of the Corps Commander-level talks on Saturday to find a possible resolution for the nearly 15-month-long military standoff in eastern Ladakh. The meeting was held on the Chinese side of Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting point.  

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Update: Indian, Chinese army officers meet to defuse border standoff (AP)  

WNU Editor: This is the 12th round of talks in the past 15 months. No progress was made then, and I expect no progress will be made with this round of talks.

Myanmar Military Promises Elections In Two Years. Extends State Of Emergency


The Guardian: Myanmar junta leader declares himself PM as election timeline stalled 

Six months after seizing power, Min Aung Hlaing extends coup with promise of elections in 2023 Myanmar‘s military leader has declared himself prime minister and said he would lead the country under the nation’s state of emergency until elections are held in two years’ time – vastly extending the timeline given when the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi six months ago. 

“We must create conditions to hold a free and fair multiparty general election,” Gen Min Aung Hlaing said on Sunday during a recorded televised address. 

“We have to make preparations. I pledge to hold the multiparty general election without fail.”  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: This announcement from the junta is going to placate no one .... Myanmar's anger simmers, six months after military takeover (Nikkei Asia). 

More News On Myanmar's Military Promising Elections In Two Years  

Myanmar: State of emergency extended with coup leader as PM -- BBC 

Six months after coup, Myanmar's military ruler promises elections by August 2023 -- France 24  

Myanmar military extends state of emergency, promises vote in 2 years -- CBC/AP  

Myanmar military ruler promises elections, says ready to work with ASEAN -- CNA

Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Admits Iran 'Did Not Tell Part Of The Truth' During His TimeIin office

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, July 14, 2021. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)  

The Hill: Rouhani says Iran 'did not tell part of the truth' during his time in office 

Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged in an address on Saturday that the government in Tehran “did not tell part of the truth" at times during his eight years in office. 

As Reuters reports, Rouhani made his remarks during his last cabinet meeting as president and just days after he was lectured by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the country's recent failures in nuclear negotiations. 

“What we told people was not contrary to reality, but we did not tell part of the truth to people,” Rouhani said. “Because I did not find it useful and I was afraid it would harm national unity.”  

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Update: Outgoing Iran president says government not always truthful (AP)  

WNU Editor: As a rule. All governments are rarely truthful.

Israel Accuses Iran For Thursday's Oil Tanker Attack

This January 2, 2016 photo shows the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mercer Street off Cape Town, South Africa


NBC News/Reuters: Israel blames Iran for attack on tanker off Oman coast that killed two 

There was no immediate official reaction from Iran to the accusation that it may have been responsible. 

A Briton and a Romanian were killed when an Israeli-managed petroleum product tanker came under attack on Thursday off the coast of Oman, the company said on Friday, in an incident that Israel's foreign minister blamed on Iran and said deserved a harsh response. 

There were varying explanations for what happened to the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned ship, with Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime describing the incident as "suspected piracy" and a source at the Oman Maritime Security Center as an accident that occurred outside Omani territorial waters.  

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WNU Editor: Iran is denying these claims .... Iran denies ‘baseless’ Israeli claim it struck ship in deadly attack (Times of Israel). But Iranian state TV says that Iran was responsible .... Iran says 'suicide' drone attack on oil tanker that killed British army veteran was in retaliation for Israeli airstrike on military airport in Syria (Daily Mail).  

Update: This conflict is definitely escalating in the sense that Iran can now target soft Israeli targets like ships .... A deadly new level in the tit-for-tat war between Israel and Iran (Jerusalem Post).  

Update #2: Israel wants the UK to retaliate .... Fury as Dominic Raab IGNORES calls from Israel to retaliate against Iran after regime launched 'suicide' drone attack on oil tanker that killed British army veteran off coast of Oman (Daily Mail).

Update #3: The UK has responded .... UK accuses Iran of ‘deliberate & targeted attack’ on Israeli-operated tanker off Oman (RT). 

More News On Israel Accusing Iran For Thursday's Oil Tanker Attack 

 Israeli premier blames Iran for tanker attack; Tehran denies -- AP  

Tanker attack: Tensions rise as Iran and Israel trade accusations -- BBC 

After ship strike, Lapid speaks to Blinken, urges international response -- Times of Israel

Israel pushes for UN action against Iran over deadly ship attack -- France 24 

Israel calls for HARSH RESPONSE to attack on Israeli-operated ship off Oman, blames ‘terrorism exporter’ Iran -- RT  

U.S. navy says drone strike hit oil tanker off Oman, killing 2, as Israeli officials blame Iran -- CBC/AP  

Report: Iranian attack on Israeli-operated ship carried out by 'several kamikaze drones' -- i24 News  

Deadly drone attack on tanker escalates Iran-Israel maritime tensions -- CNN 

Israeli PM Bennett: We Have Evidence That Iran is Behind Attack on Oil Tanker Mercer Street -- Sputnik

Tweets Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

An Israeli soldier pepper sprays a journalist during a protest against Israeli settlements, near Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 27, 2021. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta  

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

Saturday, July 31, 2021

U.S. Seizes Tanker Used To Evade North Korean Sanctions

This undated handout image obtained July 30, 2021, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice, shows oil tanker M/T Courageous docked in an undisclosed location.  

Reuters: U.S. says seizes tanker used to evade North Korea sanctions 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) on Friday announced the seizure of a 2,734-ton tanker it said was owned and operated by a Singaporean national and used to make shipments of petroleum products to North Korea in violation of international sanctions.

A DoJ statement said the M/T Courageous was seized by Cambodian authorities in March 2020 in accordance with a U.S. warrant, having been used to transfer oil products to North Korean vessels and to make direct shipments to the North Korean port of Nampo. 

"Criminal charges of conspiracy to evade economic sanctions on the DPRK and money laundering conspiracy are pending against the alleged owner and operator of the Courageous, Kwek Kee Seng, a Singaporean national who remains at large," it said, using the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Read more .... 

More News On The U.S. Seizing A Tanker Used To Evade North Korean Sanctions  

US Seizes Tanker Used to Deliver Oil to North Korea -- VOA/AFP  

US seizes Singaporean tanker for evading North Korea sanctions -- Nikkei Asia  

US seizes tanker shipping oil to North Korea in violation of sanctions -- Washington Examiner  

US seizes tanker used to evade North Korea sanctions -- Al Jazeera  

US Court Ordered to Confiscate Tanker That Was Illegally Supplying North Korea With Oil -- Sputnik

US B-52 Bombers Back Into Action Over Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force photo  

Arab News: US brings B-52 bombers back into action as Taliban sweep across Afghanistan 

* Washington’s strategy to deploy the heavily armed planes a ‘worrying sign’ 

KABUL: A US B-52 bomber has pounded Taliban positions in Afghanistan’s western Herat province after the group gained ground near the area amid intense clashes with government forces, officials and lawmakers said on Saturday. 

The strike took place on the outskirts of Herat city on Friday, with flights to and from the area suspended after increased violence near its airport. 

“Unfortunately, all flights to Herat have been canceled due to the fighting and the information we have received suggest that a B-52 was used in the fighting yesterday (Friday) in Herat,” provincial lawmaker Habib Ur Rahman Pedram told Arab News.

No further details were given, such as the number of casualties or the scale of the attack.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This is definitely a worrying indication on how bad the situation in Afghanistan has become.