Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Celebrity Deaths 2014 (Video)

WNU Editor: I know that this video has nothing to do with wars and conflicts .... but culture and entertainment does have an impact on all of our lives .... and this is that one time in the year that this blog acknowledges it.

RT Wraps Up The Events That Shaped 2014 (Video)

WNU Editor: A link to even more videos from RT on the events that shaped 2014 are here.

The 50 Most Unforgettable Photos Of 2014

In June, ISIS took over the Iraqi city of Mosul. Kurdish peshmerga fighters have led the fight against ISIS in Iraq. Here, a fighter held a grenade launcher overlooking the edge of Mosul in September.

WNU Editor: The link to these 50 photos is here.

Update: Photographers Reveal The Stories Behind 2014's Most Powerful Pictures (Business Insider).

U.S. Department of Defense: 2014 Year In Photos

U.S. special forces soldiers provide security while an Afghan special forces soldier directs other Afghan soldiers during a firefight with insurgents in the Gelan district in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, Feb. 8, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. David Devich

WNU Editor: The link to this impressive photo gallery is here.

The White House Releases 'Best Photos Of 2014'

"The President sits for a 3D portrait being produced by the Smithsonian Institution. There were so many cameras and strobe lights flashing but the end result was kind of cool. See the video at here."
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WNU Editor: The White House link is here.

Update #1: From President Obama's emotional embrace with an Ebola survivor to the First Lady's trip to China with her daughters: The White House releases best photos of 2014 -- Daily Mail
Update #2: Bill Murray, Corvettes, and 3D portraits: these are the White House's photos of the year -- The Verge

My Comment: My favorite picture is this one .... I love the ears. :)

The Verge 50: The Most Important People Of 2014 (Video)

WNU Editor: A non-political/non-business list of the top 50 for 2014.

A Look At Some Of The Top Stories Of 2014

Top News Stories For 2014

World in 2014: the stories of the year -- The Telegraph

The Top 5 Events of 2014 -- George Friedman, Stratfor

Year in Review: The Top Stories of 2014 -- NBC

2014 Year in Review: The Events That Shaped a Turbulent Year -- Wall Street Journal

Top International Stories of the Year 2014 -- Chosun Ilbo

2014: not such a bad year after all -- The Guardian

What (not) to look forward to in 2015: ISIS, life on Mars, Europe's mood -- Tim Lister, CNN

Here are the top military stories on Checkpoint in 2014 -- Washington Post's top 10 most read stories of 2014 -- Stars and Stripes

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 31, 2014

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 31, 2014

The Afghan war that didn't really end yesterday ended in defeat -- Dan Murphy, CSM

Afghanistan ends 2014 with mix of violence, hope -- Lynne O'Donnell, AP

Obama Envoy John Allen: No 'Short-Term Solutions' for Stopping Islamic State -- Interview Conducted By Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online

The end of Christian communities in Iraq? -- Trudy Rubin, Stars and Stripes/The Philadelphia Inquirer

Gaza Is Nowhere -- Roger Cohen, NYT

Mere borders will not contain Yemen’s wars -- Faisal Al Yafai, The National

A Looming Succession Crisis Could Plunge Saudi Arabia Into Crisis -- Simon Henderson, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy

Tackling militancy in Punjab -- Zahid Hussain, DAWN

China's Foreign Policy in 2014: A Year of 'Big Strokes' -- Xie Tao, The Diplomat

China Needs Its Lehman Moment -- William Pesek, Bloomberg

US Navy joins AirAsia recovery efforts: why the US military is helping -- Anna Mulrine, CSM

Russia Considers a Fighters-For-Food Deal with Argentina -- Ankit Panda, The Diplomat

From Putin to the pope: Europe's year in review -- Sara Miller Llana, CSM

Little hope for future as east Ukraine ends nightmare year -- Max Delany, AFP

Remember These Energy Numbers From 2014 -- Green Tech Media

How low will oil fall? $30 is possible -- Matt Egan, CNN

Energy Crisis As Early As 2016 -- Dan Steffens,

World News Briefs -- December 31, 2014


U.S.-led forces launch 10 air strikes in Syria, Iraq.

Syria Kurds control 70 percent of besieged Kobani: monitor.

Kurds in new Islamic State group offensive in Iraq.

Iraqi forces 'recapture Dhuluiya from Islamic State'.

Shi'ite militias expand influence, redraw map in central Iraq.

Houthis killed in Yemen suicide bombing. At least 23 killed in Yemen suicide bombing: state news agency.

Palestinians join International Criminal Court. Palestinians decide to join ICC.

Netanyahu threatens Israeli response to ICC approach.

Iran says new U.S. sanctions violate spirit of nuclear talks.

Hamas govt employees strike over expected job losses.

Saudi beheads 83 people in 2014, the most in years.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia hospitalised.


AirAsia QZ8501: First bodies returned to airport. Weather hinders effort to recover AirAsia bodies. Bodies from crashed AirAsia plane arrive in Indonesian city.

‘Unbelievably’ steep climb recorded before AirAsia crash, report says.

2,000 “separatists” killed in ongoing Pakistan army operations.

India, Pakistan trade fire in Kashmir; 1 dead.

South Korean to drop Sony film into North by balloon.

Retired Afghan leader meets, advises successor 'almost daily'.

Myanmar enters election year with powerful military largely unchanged.

Mudslides, flash floods kill at least 53 in Philippines.

No New Year’s fun: Indonesian city bans celebrations under Sharia law.


Yayha Jammeh: Gambia president 'home after coup plot'.

Many killed in Burundi-DRC border clashes.

U.S. envoy urges U.N., Congolese military action against Rwandan rebels.

Libya containing Es Sider oil fire but export resumption in question.

Djibouti government reaches deal to bring opposition into parliament.

New Tunisia president pledges reconciliation.

Spain: 800 migrants storm North African border fence.

Ebola-hit Liberia lifts night curfew for New Year.


US, NATO unwilling to raise tensions with Russia: Pentagon.

Russia annual inflation jumps to 11.4% as rouble falls.

Putin calls annexation of Crimea a historic landmark.

Putin sends New Year greetings to Obama, recalls responsibility of Russia, US.

Pussy Riot activist arrested after pro-Alexei Navalny protests in Moscow.

Cargo ship carrying '700 migrants' docks in Italy. Almost 1,000 migrants arrive in Italy on packed cargo ship.

Italy: 98 still unaccounted for from fire-ravaged ferry.

Cyprus says Turkey must stop 'bullying' over gas.

Greece formally dissolves parliament ahead of election. Greece: Election campaign starts with clash over debt.


US police shooting deaths up 56 per cent this year.

US warns of threats to media from Sony hackers.

US unemployment claims rise.

Venezuela recession confirmed as Maduro attacks US 'oil war'.

U.S. condemns Cuba's 'practice of repressing' after activists detained.

Severe flu cases on the rise in U.S..

Canada Edmonton: Eight killed in 'senseless mass murder'. Suspected killer of eight in Canada had criminal past -police.


US strike in Somalia 'killed al-Shabab intelligence chief'. U.S. confirms drone strike killed al Shabaab leader in Somalia.

Five Guantanamo Bay inmates 'resettled' in Kazakhstan.

UAV strikes to continue in Afghanistan despite mission end: Former official.

Al-Qaeda’s glossy media and how they help expand ‘Media Jihad’.


Oil industry set for year of mergers and takeovers, says PwC.

Oil slides, Brent slated for biggest annual drop since 2008.

Bull market for stocks keeps on going in 2014.

Billionaires chasing Warhols fuel $16 billion art sales.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 31, 2014

A Canadian Army crewman stands inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter flying over Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, July 5, 2011. (BAZ RATNER/BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 31, 2014

Iran and Iraq Deepen Defense Ties, Sign Pact -- Defense News

Iran in new deal to boost Iraq army -- Al Arabiya/AFP

Iranian Navy's AB-212 Helicopters Destroy Targets in Massive Wargames -- Fars News Agency

Russian Naval Destroyer Leaves English Channel, Enters North Sea -- Sputnik

Russia's second Black Sea Fleet Varshavyanka sub to take northern deepwater trials -- ITAR-TASS

US plans to deploy armored brigade to Europe pre-date Ukraine hostilities -- RT

UAV Strikes to Continue in Afghanistan Despite Mission End: Former Official -- Sputnik

Afghan Mountain Hamlet a Proving Ground for Army -- AP

Boehner warns Obama on Afghanistan strategy -- The Hill

LCS, P-8 Standing By to Help with Downed Airliner -- DoD Buzz

The U.S. Air Force Has a Spy Ship — Yes, Ship — in the Persian Gulf -- David Axe, War Is Boring

Beretta wants to be U.S. Army's new gun. Again. -- CNN

DARPA Projects to Watch in 2015 -- Defense Tech

Congress again denies SEALs 'performance center' -- Stars and Stripes

U.S. Military compensation report out by Feb. 1 -- Stars and Stripes

DoD braces for political battle over military pay -- Military Times

US Army Looks To 3D Print Food For Soldiers -- Forbes

Army gets new chief, top enlisted soldier in 2015 -- Army Times

Federal judge orders Marine Corps to answer charges it discredited whistleblower -- Washington Times

There And Back Again For U.S. Military In Iraq -- Alice Fordham, NPR

2-star on Iraq: 'Still a big fight going on here' -- Michelle Tan, Defense News

IG investigation: Marine generals remain at odds over sniper video scandal -- Washington Post

Two U.S. Army 'deserters' and two different kinds of justice -- Peter Lucas, Lowell Sun

Should Ft. Hood victims get the Purple Heart? -- Martin Matishak, The Hill

The Unknowns in the Invisible War -- David Mattingly, War On The Rocks

At least 2,213 US military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001 -- FOX News/AP

Stars and Stripes' most watched videos of 2014 -- Stars and Stripes

Here are the top military stories on Checkpoint in 2014 -- Washington Post's top 10 most read stories of 2014 -- Stars and Stripes

Jordan Has Suspended Military Actions Against The Islamic State Since The Capture Of Its Pilot

The Hill: Official: Jordan halts ISIS strikes after capture

WNU Editor: The wrong message to send to the Islamic State .... but I guess there is a lot of internal politics at play within Jordan

Update: Jordan Stops Bombing ISIS After Jet Goes Down In Syria (NPR)

The Taliban Are At The Gates Of Kabul

Washington Post: Kabul was eerie and dangerous under the Taliban. It feels that way again.

WNU Editor: A depressing read from the Washington Post .... and probably very accurate. The above video is from Al Jazeera .... and it is discussion on what is the future of Afghanistan.

What is my prediction .... when the winter season is over and the opium harvest has been brought in .... the war in Afghanistan is going to erupt to a level not seen since the Taliban came to power. Do not be surprise if a major city .... like Kandahar .... is hit with continuous and bloody warfare.

Report: U.S. Wants To Re-Engage With Russia

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Bloomberg (Josh Rogin): Inside Obama’s Secret Outreach to Russia

WNU Editor: It is not going to happen .... and the reason why comes down to trust .... both sides do not trust each other. My prediction .... U.S. - Russian relations are going to be in the "toilet" for a long time, and will continue to be there long after the crisis in Ukraine has come to past.

Oliver Stone: The CIA's 'Fingerprints' Are All Over Ukraine

Oliver Stone with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Facebook

Hollywood Reporter: Oliver Stone on Ukraine Protests: "The Truth Is Not Being Aired in the West"

WNU Editor: Oliver Stone's Facebook post on this topic is here. Not surprising .... the comments thread is overwhelmingly negative.

What is my take .... while it is true that the U.S. has been involved in shaping Ukrainian politics for years .... Senior U.S. Diplomat Admits That The U.S. Has Spent $5 Billion To Influence The Ukrainian Government .... it is also true that this part of the world has seen its share of crisis and conflicts for centuries .... long before the U.S. was even a country. But was the CIA involved in this latest crisis? .... an idea and strategy hatched in Langley and/or Washington and then implemented .... that is an answer that I do not know with 100% certainty. What I do know is that the radical forces for change in Ukraine have been there for my entire life .... driven by a fanaticism for Ukrainian nationalism coupled with a fierce anti-Russian sentiment they have been pushing Ukrainian governments for years to adopt their policies and agendas .... and this year they were successful. Was this success dependent on foreign involvement .... with CIA help .... I doubt it. At the beginning of this year the overwhelming sentiment among all Ukrainians was that they wanted change .... they wanted Viktor Yanukovych gone .... and no one could have have manipulated that .... even the CIA. Everything was happening very quickly ... no one could have calculated the consequences of that change .... no one could have predicted what would happen next .... and on top of that ..... no one believed that civil war was going to break out. But .... if Oliver Stone is right .... and if the CIA did have a role in fostering this crisis .... it would have been in the formation of the interim government when a few Ukrainian parliamentarians decided on who was going to be in the interim government and who would be responsible for running the ministries before scheduled national elections. This is an important point, because it  was the interim government that planted the seeds and policies that quickly fractured the country between Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Russians .... it was the interim government that passed anti-Russian laws and regulations .... and it was the interim government that refused to negotiate and compromise with Russian Ukrainians in the east. But like I said .... did the CIA foster this .... or was this already in the minds and spirits of those who assumed power in Kiev .... hmmmm .... my money is on the CIA not having a significant (if any) role in the events that have shaped the Ukraine of today.

Update: ‘CIA fingerprints’ all over Kiev massacre – Oliver Stone -- RT

The Syrian Regine Is Running Out Of Soldiers

Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Business Insider: The Assad Regime Is Running Low On Soldiers

My Comment: Introducing conscription in order to have enough soldiers to fight in this messy and horrific civil war is not going to go over well .... especially when one looks at the high casualty rates for those who have served (100,000 killed in the past 3 1/2 years .... a force of 300,000 at the beginning of he conflict .... to a force of 150,000 today). People are now getting tired of this civil war .... Some Alawites are beginning to question their support for Syria’s Assad (Washington Post) .... and if it was not for the Islamic State and Al Qaeda .... peace feelers and peace talks would probably have happened a long time ago.

More News On The Syrian Government Introducing Conscription To Replace It's Depleted Army

Desperate for soldiers, Assad’s government imposes harsh recruitment measures -- Washington Post
Syria's Depleted Military Ramps Up Conscription --
Syria increasing efforts to build up military after substantial loses -- South China Morning Post
The Syrian Army Is Shrinking, And Assad Is Running Out Of Soldiers -- Business Insider/IBTimes

Five More Guantanamo Inmates Are Released

FOX News: US releases 5 more Guantanamo Bay prisoners, sends them to Kazakhstan

My Comment: So much for listening to the objections from Congress. At this rate .... there will only be a handful of inmates left in Guantanamo by the middle of 2015.

More News On Five More Guantanamo Inmates Being Released

Five Guantánamo Prisoners Are Released to Kazakhstan -- New York Times
Pentagon, moving to close Guantanamo, sends five prisoners to Kazakhstan -- Washington Post
U.S. sends five Guantanamo prisoners to Kazakhstan for resettlement -- Reuters
5 more Guantanamo Bay detainees transferred -- CBS/AP
Five Guantanamo Bay inmates 'resettled' in Kazakhstan -- BBC
US Transfers 5 Guantanamo Inmates to Kazakhstan -- VOA
Five Guantanamo prisoners held for a dozen years are released and resettled in Kazakhstan -- Daily Mail
Five Guantanamo prisoners flown to Kazakhstan for resettlement -- The Guardian
US sends five Guantanamo prisoners to Kazakhstan -- Deutsche Welle
US Announces Release Of 5 Guantanamo Detainees, Held Without Charges, To Kazakhstan -- IBTimes
Five more Guantanamo detainees freed -- Al Jazeera

What Will Be The International Flashpoints For 2015

Islamic State fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, June 30, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Stringer

Reuters: After turbulent 2014, next year may be no calmer

My Comment: Here are my predictions on what will be the major flashpoints for 2015 .... Russia/Ukraine coupled with a even greater worsening in ties between the West and Russia, the war against the Islamic State and the ongoing civil war in Syria, the continuing rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, another financial crisis brought on by too much debt and crashing oil prices, China's economy, Libya, Europe being flooded by refugees from Africa and the Middle East, and .... international terrorism ... including (my biggest fear) a major and significant terror strike in Europe and/or in the U.S..

German Politicians Want An Inquiry On U.S. - NATO Taliban 'Hit List' For Drone Strikes

Photo from The Danger Room

Spiegel Online: Obama's Lists: A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan

My Comment: If more reports like this one continue to come out .... it would not surprise me to see a movement growing (especially in Europe) to have top U.S. officials .... President Obama included .... to be indicted for war crimes. Whether or not that day in court will happen is something that we will have to wait and see (I personally doubt that it will happen) .... but sanctioning certain targets for assassination is making a lot of people uncomfortable .... in NATO and within the U.S. itself.

Update #1: German opposition urges probe into NATO 'hit list' -- AP
Update #2: German opposition urges probe into NATO hit list -- Al Jazeera

Iraq Kills 300 Islamic State Fighters In A Major Battle North Of Baghdad

BBC: Iraqi forces 'recapture Dhuluiya from Islamic State'

WNU Editor: If these reports are accurate .... it is a huge victory for the Iraqi army. This also suggests that the Islamic State is not very good at defending sites when confronted by an organized military opposition.

More News On The Battle For Dhuluiya

Iraqi forces 'retake Dhuluiyah from ISIL' -- Al Jazeera
Iraqi forces clear Dhuluiyah of ISIS jihadis: commanders -- Daily Star/AFP
Iraqi forces recapture town in Salahudin province -- Xinhuanet

North Korea Is Doing Everything In It's Power To Stop the Movie 'The Interview' From Entering The Country

Business Insider/The Telegraph: North Korea Has A Dedicated Military Team To Keep The Interview Out Of The Country

My Comment: When it comes to North Korea .... nothing surprises me .... nothing. But it looks like the case from the FBI citing North Korea as the main culprit behind the cyber attack against Sony is falling apart .... FBI Won’t Stop Blaming North Korea for Sony Hack -- Despite New Evidence (Shane Harris, Daily Beast).

More News On Doubts Being Raised That North Korea Was Responsible For The Sony Cyber Attack

Experts doubt North Korea was behind the big Sony hack -- CNN
Doubts Persist On U.S. Claims Of North Korean Role In Sony Hack -- NPR
New Clues In Sony Hack Point To Insiders, Away from DPRK -- The Security Ledger
Sony insider -- not North Korea -- likely involved in hack, experts say -- L.A. Times
Doubts on N. Korea claim? FBI briefed on theory Sony hack was inside job -- FOX News
New evidence Sony hack was ‘inside’ job, not North Korea -- New York Post
North Korea did it: FBI not budging on Sony hack culprit -- CNN
FBI still believes North Korea is responsible for Sony hack -- CBS
What if North Korea didn’t hack Sony? -- Adam Taylor, Washington Post

It Looks Like NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Is Going To Stay In Russia

RT: Meet Edward Snowden’s new friend: Rick the dog

WNU Editor: I openly speculated last year that Edward Snowden must be an idiot to give up his Hawaiian home, well paying job, and a girlfriend who was devoted to him .... for principle and getting stuck for the rest of his life in Moscow. Hmmmm .... if the above picture is any indication .... I was clearly wrong about the girlfriend. As to him getting a dog .... in Russia ... getting a dog is a sure sign that you have become domesticated. :)

Russia's Government Budget Is Being Squeezed By Lower Oil Prices

Reuters: As oil falls, Russia choked by military, social spending

My Comment: President Obama was right when he said that the only thing that was keeping the Russian economy afloat was high oil prices .... and if prices were to go down, they would impact their economy directly .... Russian economy attacked through oil prices – Obama (RT). As a result some hard decisions will need to be made by Putin next year .... and basically it all comes down to "guns or butter". His closest aides and advisers are telling Putin to cut the military budget .... Russia Has To Slash Military Spending To Balance The Budget ( Tim Worstall, Forbes) .... and my prediction is that he will hold back on making such a decision until the situation in Ukraine becomes more clearer .... i.e. war or peace. In the meantime .... hello recession .... Economist: Long Painful Recession in Store for Russia (VOA).

OPEC Price War Deepens

The Telegraph: Brent oil hits new low as Opec price war deepens slump

My Comment: Enjoy it while it lasts.

More News On Declining Oil Prices

Oil Set for Biggest Slump Since 2008 as OPEC Battles U.S. Shale -- Bloomberg
OPEC Resolve on Supply Promises No Calm for Oil Markets: Energy -- Bloomberg
OPEC oil output hits six-month low in December on Libya -- Reuters
Why Oil Will Probably Stay Cheap in 2015 -- Jordan Weissmann, Slate
Saudi Arabia's Playing The Oil Market The Right Way For The Lowest Cost Producer, Almost Like Standard Oil -- Tim Worstall, Forbes
Are low oil prices here to stay? -- BBC

For Ukraine This Has Been The Worst Year Since World War II

Euronews: Ukraine turns its back on its ‘worst year since World War II’

My Comment: It has been a year and a half since I last visited Ukraine .... it feels like a decade. And I must confess .... when I was last there .... the last thing that was on my mind was the possibility of unrest, civil disorder, revolution, civil war, and economic collapse. Yup .... my mind and focus was on places like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc .... but never on my backyard. I guess this is why the video below hits home ....

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Russian Foreign Minister: New U.S. Sanctions Will End Russian Cooperation On Iran And Syria

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Reuters)

IBTimes: Russia warns West's increasing sanctions could end cooperation on Syria, Iran

WNU Editor: U.S. - Russian relations are in tatters .... and as a result Russia has little if any interest to now help the U.S. on any issue. The same can be said about the U.S. .... they also have zero interest in helping Russia on any issue. As to the threat from Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that Russia will end cooperation with the U.S. on Iran and Syria .... from where I am standing .... they have already ended any cooperation.

More News On Russian Warnings That New U.S. Sanctions Will End Russian Cooperation On Iran And Syria

Russia says new U.S. sanctions may hamper dialogue on Iran, Syria -- Reuters
Russia says U.S. sanctions may halt talks on Iran, Syria -- AP
Russia threatens to halt cooperation with US on Iran, Syria -- L.A. Times
Russia: Sanctions may end efforts on Iran, Syria -- The Hill
Russia Warns U.S. Sanctions Could Harm Cooperation On Iran, Syria -- Radio Free Europe
US Sanctions Undermine Bilateral Cooperation on Global Issues: Moscow -- Sputnik

Did The U.S. Offer A Prisoner Swap With Iran?

The armed forces identification card of Iranian-American Amir Mirza Hekmati is seen in this undated still image taken from video in an undisclosed location made available to Reuters TV on January 9, 2012. Credit: Reuters/via Reuters TV

Reuters: U.S. calls for release of Americans in Iran, denies swap deal

WNU Editor: The U.S. is denying these reports .... but this White House has a history of making deals with groups that they vowed they would not make deals with .... especially when it came to hostages/prisoners.

More News On Reports Of A U.S. Offer To Swap Prisoners With Iran

US Calls for Exchange of Spy Held in Iran -- Tasnim News Agency
Lawyer: US offers prisoner exchange for former Marine detained in Iran -- AP
Is US looking to swap prisoners with Iran? -- The Hill
US reportedly offer Iran prisoner swap deal -- SKY News
U.S. denies reports about proposed prisoner swap with Iran -- Xinhuanet
Amir Hekmati Release? US State Department Denies Reports of Proposed Prisoner Exchange -- Epoch Times
U.S. denies reports about proposed prisoner swap with Iran">US Denies Prisoner Swap With Iran for Iranian-American Ex-Marine: DoS -- Sputnik

Venezuela Is On The Brink Of Default

Time: Low Oil Prices Pushing Venezuela Towards Default

WNU Editor: The lineups (see the above video)  remind me of the old Soviet Union .... all this wealth .... but everyone (with the exception of those at the top in government) are poor.

More News On Venezuela's Economic Crisis 

Venezuela Confirms Recession, Highest Inflation in Americas -- VOA
Venezuela's president blames opposition for deep recession -- AP
Maduro blames plunging oil prices on U.S. 'war' vs Russia, Venezuela -- Reuters
Venezuela accuses US of starting oil war to 'destroy' Russia and Venezuela -- Al Jazeera
Venezuela confirms recession, inflation hits 63.6 percent in Nov -- Reuters
Venezuelan 1,000% Inflation Seen by BofA Without Weaker Bolivar -- Bloomberg
Venezuela's milk shortage closes famous ice-cream shop -- BBC
Venezuela behind only Honduras as country with most murders per capita, NGO says -- FOX News
Venezuela Has World's Second-Highest Homicide Rate: NGO -- Huffington Post
Lopez: 'Venezuela on the brink of collapse' -- Merco Press

7 Under-Reported Conflicts In 2014

A gun fight between loyalists of former president Francois Bozize and ex-rebels who ousted him killed nearly 55 people in Central African Republic. (Photo : Twitter)

Washington Post: 7 awful conflicts that were under-reported in 2014

WNU Editor: Libya, Yemen, Assam, The Sudans, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia/Kenya .... 7 conflicts that are always covered by this blog. I would also add .... Central African Republic, Mali, Colombia, and Congo.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 30, 2014

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 30, 2014

As AirAsia debris found, Indonesia learns from Malaysia mistakes -- Jeffrey Hutton, CSM

Who Will Get AsiaAir 8501’s Black Boxes? -- Clive Irving, Daily Beast

Iran Is Getting Away With Murder -- Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic

An opening in Afghanistan: Kabul’s deal with Pakistan -- Amir Taheri, New York Post

FBI Fixated on North Korea for Sony Hack Despite New Evidence -- Shane Harris, Daily Beast

China’s economic vulnerabilities -- Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Ebola Leaves West African Economies Ailing Heading Into 2015 -- Patrick McGroarty and Drew Hinshaw, WSJ

Falling Oil Prices and the Consequences for Sub-Saharan Africa -- Amadou Sy, Brookings

Putin goes medieval on the Russian opposition -- Leonid Bershidsky, Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg News

After 15 years in power, Putin risks running out of luck -- Timothy Heritage, Reuters

Cheap oil: when bad things happen to bad people -- Paul Sheehan, Sydney Morning Herald columnist

Trouble ahead? Europe winces as Greece fails to find a president. -- Sara Miller Llana, CSM

What to expect from Greece’s January 25 snap elections -- Kevin Lees, Suffragio

Rethinking European Security -- Charles Doran & Jakub Grygiel, National Interest

Barack Obama Had a Really Terrible Year -- James Oliphant, National Journal

World News Briefs -- December 30, 2014 (Evening Edition)


UN Security Council rejects Palestinian resolution. UN rejects Palestinian resolution to end Israel's occupation.

U.S.-led coalition air strikes hit Islamic State in Syria, Iraq.

Islamic State group claims suicide attack in Iraq. ISIS claims car bomb targeting Syria gas plant.

Residents of eastern Syria create popular resistance group to battle IS.

US does not back UN Palestinian statehood resolution.

Iran says nuclear talks set for Jan 15, vows to stand firm.

U.S. names more Iran targets for sanctions. US Treasury enforces Iranian sanctions.

UN, EU concerned at arrest of top Bahrain Shiite leader.


AirAsia plane debris and bodies found; Little hope of any survivors.

Wreckage, bodies reveal jet's fate days after it disappeared.

North Korea may have hired outside hackers for Sony attack, says US.

U.S. failed to track spending on aid for Afghan women, auditor finds.

Afghans decry economic and security woes.

Pakistan re-arrests suspected mastermind of Mumbai attacks.

Deadly storm hits Philippines.

Bangladesh sentences Islamist leader to death.


U.S. envoy urges military action against Congo rebel group.

Somalia says Al-Shabaab intelligence head killed in U.S. strike. Al Shabaab leader killed in U.S. air strike in Mogadishu. US strike in Somalia 'killed al-Shabab intelligence chief'.

Libya: Car bomb explodes near parliament in city of Tobruk, three wounded.

Libya FM: Extremists seek to capture oil resources. Fire at Libyan oil port destroys up to 1.8 million barrels of crude.

UN support mission to Libya warns of full-fledged war in country.

Gunfire hits Gambian capital. Firing reported at Gambia presidential palace.

Boko Haram kills 15 in northeast Nigerian town: witnesses.

South Sudan rebels accuse army of killing civilians.


Ukraine denies radioactive leak on Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant.

U.S. to station 150 armored vehicles in Europe.

'US military hardware will cause more bloodshed in Ukraine' – Russian senator.

More than half of Ukrainians dislike drift towards NATO — Yushchenko.

Russia says new U.S. sanctions may hamper dialogue on Iran, Syria.

Russia's economy begins shrinking.

Top Russian opposition figure Navalny guilty of embezzlement, gets 3.5yrs suspended. Alexei Navalny sentenced: thousands expected to protest against ruling. Navalny says Putin's regime must be destroyed.

Aleksei Navalny, Putin critic, is arrested at rally after suspended sentence in fraud case. Thousands of people protest near the Kremlin.

Backlash in Berlin over NSA spying recedes as threat from Islamic State rises.

German opposition urges probe into NATO 'hit list'.

New law spells end for many small Spanish businesses.

Suspected migrant ship heads to Italy. 'Migrant ship' heads for Italy after distress call scare.

U.S. to station 150 armored vehicles in Europe.


Venezuela confirms economy fell into recession.

President Obama focused on ‘long-term’ projects in final two years.

Relatives: Cuba detains dissidents before protest.

Some Cubans anxious about renewed US diplomatic relations.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner fractured ankle may be something else.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio to meet with leaders of five NYPD unions.

US federal government lost $9.26B on auto rescue.

U.S. on verge of a flu epidemic.

A tragic day for Edmonton': Nine dead across three linked crime scenes in Alberta capital, police say.


Islamic State to systematically target Europe in 2015: French expert.

U.S. military bombs senior leader of al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia.

Islamic State uses US-made anti-tank missile near Damascus.


Global markets fall as New Year holiday nears.

Oil continues decline on supply glut despite weaker dollar.

Google to blame for Gmail shutdown, say Chinese state media.

World’s 400 richest add $92 billion in 2014 as Alibaba jumps.

They Say The Wars Are Ending, But It Appears That They Will Still Go On

A U.S. soldier kneels at the memorial for Army Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Morris and Spc. Wyatt Martin on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 23, 2014. The soldier is assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Vance Trenke


US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on

WNU Editor: I definitely do not see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Russian Opposition Activist Aleksey Navalny Arrested At Moscow Rally


Opposition activist Navalny detained at Moscow rally, defying house arrest

WNU Editor: He just could not lie down and stay quiet. Kudos for what he is trying to do .... unfortunately .... he is probably going to be back in jail. A few thousand also showed up to voice support for him with a few hundred being arrested. And while I do not expect Aleksey Navalny to be a threat to President Putin .... making him a martyr by putting him in jail will bring headaches to Putin in the future.

Russian Opposition Activist Aleksey Navalny Arrested At Moscow Rally

Putin critic Navalny among 'hundred held' at Moscow protest -- BBC
Kremlin Foe Alexei Navalny Is Detained by Police After Breaking the Terms of His House Arrest -- AP
Alexei Navalny Detained After Breaking House Arrest to Join Moscow Protest -- Moscow Times/Reuters
Blogger Navalny Detained After Violating House Arrest to Attend Protest -- Sputnik

Update: The authorities have decided to send him home .... Moscow police says detained opposition figure Navalny will be sent home (ITAR-TASS).

Previous Post: Russian Opposition Leader Aleksey Navalny Found Guilty Of Fraud, But Will Not Go To Jail

Editor's Note

For the past six - seven years I have been using a certain format to post stories on this blog. Picture or video, followed by a copy of a portion of a news story, it's link, and then other links that add content to the story. Unfortunately .... Google has now told me that because of copyright laws changing in Europe .... this is no longer permitted (they call it .... FRAMING THIRD PARTY CONTENT).

So there will now be a new format effective immediately .... and I can only hope that the Google Overlords will be satisfied with this change. If not .... well then .... I will then think of something else (i.e. create my own website independent from Blogger .... but with the same format).

I will also no longer be using any news links from Ireland, France, and Spain. And while I do not care about France and Spain .... Ireland does have a few good news websites .... unfortunately .... they do not like news aggregators like War News Updates.

BREAKING NEWS: Serious Radiation Leak Reported At Ukraine's Main Nuclear Plant

Radioactive Leak At Major Ukrainian Nuclear Plant – Report -- RT

A radioactive leak has been detected at Ukraine’s Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in Europe, a media report says, citing the country’s emergency services. The report claims that levels of radiation are 16.8 times the legally permitted norm.

LifeNews published a leaked report by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, which denies an earlier assessment by the plant’s authorities that the radiation at the facility is equal to the natural background following an incident on Sunday.

Read more .....

Update: Radioactive Leak Reported at Ukraine's Largest Nuclear Plant -- MINA

My Comment: This is a breaking news story. If true .... it raises concerns on the safety of these reactors .... and if these reactors are shut down .... a major energy crisis for Ukraine. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Update: This is ominous .... Russia: Ukraine's import of US nuclear fuel risky (AP).

Update #2: If true .... this is a big relief .... Ukraine denies radioactive leak on Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant (Reuters).

Islamic State Posts 'Interview' With Captured Jordanian Fighter Pilot. Utilizes Social Media To Decide His Execution

Photo: The image of al-Kasasba IS posted online.

Islamic State Releases Q&A 'Interview' With Captured Jordanian Fighter Pilot -- Liz Fields, VICE News

The Islamic State released what is allegedly a short question and answer-style interview with the Jordanian pilot captured by the militants last week after his plane was downed over the militant stronghold of Raqqa, in northern Syria.

The purported interview was published in Dabiq, the English-language version of the militants' online magazine. It quotes 1st. Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh as stating that his coalition F-16 fighter jet was "struck by a heat-seeking missile."

"I heard and felt its hit," Kasaesbeh is quoted as saying. "The other Jordanian pilot in the mission contacted me from a participating jet and told me that I was struck and that fire was coming out of the rear nozzle of my engine."

Read more ....

More News On The Islamic State And Their Captured Jordanian Pilot

Jordanian pilot shown in ISIS' propaganda magazine -- CNN
Isil publishes interview with captured Jordanian pilot -- The Telegraph
Jordan pilot purportedly interviewed by Islamic State -- Washington Post
IS Releases Interview With Captured Jordanian Pilot -- VOA
Jordanian pilot captured by Isis says militants 'will kill me' in magazine interview -- The Independent
IS Releases 'Interview' With Captured Jordanian Pilot -- Sputnik
Islamic State Magazine Features Captured Jordanian Pilot -- The Intercept
How to kill captured Jordanian pilot? ISIS asks on Twitter -- Times of India
ISIS militants use Twitter to ask for suggestions on how to kill captured Jordanian pilot -- Mirror
After Capturing Fighter Pilot, ISIS Utilizes Social Media To Decide His Execution -- Inquisitr
‘Decapitate him, burn him alive’: Islamic State supporters call for hostage’s death --

al-Shabab Intelligence Chief Killed In U.S. Drone Strike (Updated)

US Strike In Somalia 'Killed al-Shabab Intelligence Chief' -- BBC

A leader of the al-Shabab Islamist group was killed by a US air strike on Monday, Somali officials say.

The intelligence chief, named as Abdishakur, was part of a unit responsible for suicide attacks, security officials said.

US defence chiefs did not confirm whether the al-Shabab leader had died.

Washington has supported an African Union (AU) force which has driven the fundamentalist group from strongholds across the country since 2011.

On Monday the US said it had targeted a "senior leader" of al-Shabab in the area of Saakow, about 320km (200 miles) west of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Read more ....

Previous Post: U.S. Launches Airstrikes Against al-Shabaab Extremist Leader In Somalia

More News On al-Shabab's Intelligence Chief Killed In U.S. Drone Strike

Al Shabaab leader killed in U.S. air strike in Mogadishu -- Reuters
U.S. airstrike killed al-Shabab intelligence chief, Somalia says -- AP
U.S. Airstrike Kills Al-Shabaab’s Intelligence Chief -- WSJ
Al Shabaab 'spy chief' killed by U.S. air strike in Somalia days after top militant turned himself in -- Daily Mail
U.S. Airstrike Kills Senior al-Shabaab Leader in Somalia -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Drone strike kills one of al-Shabab's top leaders -- CBS
US kills terror intel chief -- The Hill

Attempted Coup Put Down In The African Country Of Gambia

Gambian Soldiers Attempt Coup While President Is Abroad -- The Guardian/AFP

Three suspects killed by forces loyal to Yahya Jammeh following attack on presidential palace in Banjul

A group of disaffected soldiers launched a foiled coup bid in the Gambia on Tuesday while the president was abroad, military and diplomatic sources said.

Forces loyal to President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the west African country for 20 years, killed three suspects including the alleged ringleader – an army deserter, a military officer said.

The officer, speaking from Bissau, said the deserter – named as Lamin Sanneh – led a heavily-armed attack with six men on the presidential palace in the capital Banjul.

The pre-dawn assault triggered panic in Bissau, while national radio went off air for several hours and state television was suspended.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Attempted Coup In Gambia

Dozen Soldiers Killed as Armed Men Attack Gambian Palace -- Senegambia News
Soldiers lock down Gambian capital after overnight shooting -- Reuters
Gambia Military Coup? Capital Locked Down By Soldiers Amid Reports Of Heavy Gunfire -- IBTimes
Gunfire reported in Gambian capital as president away, raising specter of coup -- CSM/AP
Gambia foils coup bid, attackers killed -- AFP
Gambian Capital Locked Down After Apparent Coup Attempt -- VOA
Gunshots heard in Gambian capital amid reports of failed coup -- Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg
'Coup attempt foiled' in Gambia -- Al Jazeera
Mutiny in Gambia underscores heightened risk of violent change of government and policy instability under current administration -- IHJane's 360
Gambia government denies coup plot against Yahya Jammeh -- BBC

AirAsia Flight 8501 News Updates -- December 30, 2014

AirAsia Crash Victims Found: Six Bodies From Doomed Jet Are Recovered From The Java Sea -- Daily Mail

* Bodies of crash victims spotted floating in sea off coast of Borneo Island
* At least six bodies recovered from the water by Indonesian naval vessel
* Officials have now confirmed wreckage is from AirAsia flight 8501
* Navy spokesman earlier claimed 40 bodies were retrieved from Java Sea
* But this figure has now been corrected to six by search and rescue teams

Rescue workers searching for the doomed AirAsia flight 8501 have recovered six bodies from the Java Sea, Indonesian search and rescue teams have confirmed.

Bodies were discovered alongside luggage, a plane door and an emergency slide in the water 100 miles off the coast of Borneo Island earlier today, following three days of searching.

Officials have confirmed that the bodies and debris found in the Java Sea off Indonesia are from flight 8501, and a naval spokesman said the rescuers remain 'very busy' retrieving the victims.

Despite an earlier claim by a navy spokesman that 40 bodies had been recovered, the figure was later corrected by the search agency Basarnas, which said that six bodies had been found so far.

Read more ....

AirAsia Flight 8501 News Updates -- December 30, 2014

AirAsia QZ8501: Officials say debris is missing plane: Latest -- BBC
AirAsia Live: PM Modi condoles death of passengers on flight 8501 -- First Post
AirAsia LIVE: Relatives of passengers on Flight QZ8501 distraught as bodies found in sea -- Zee News
AirAsia flight QZ8501 found off Borneo coast LIVE UPDATES -- RT

Bodies, debris from missing AirAsia plane pulled from sea off Indonesia -- Reuters
Wreckage, bodies reveal jet's fate days after it disappeared -- AP
AirAsia Relatives Distraught by Plane Discovery -- Wall Street Journal
AirAsia Plane Debris and Bodies Found; Little Hope of Any Survivors -- New York Times
AirAsia flight: teams retrieve bodies from Java Sea -- The Guardian
Anguish as bodies, debris found from AirAsia Flight 8501 -- CNN
AirAsia plane wreckage found, bodies being recovered -- RT
Over 40 bodies recovered from Malaysian passenger jet crash scene in Java Sea -- ITAR-TASS
'Bodies and debris' found in AirAsia search -- Al Jazeera
AirAsia flight QZ8501: Who were the victims? -- BBC
Flight QZ8501: What we know about the AirAsia plane crash -- BBC
Exclusive: AirAsia crash probe focuses on timing of request to climb, weather -- Reuters
How the U.S. Navy could aid in the recovery of AirAsia Flight 8501 -- Dan Lamonthe, Washington Post
AirAsia disaster's lasting effects -- Alan Khee-Jin Tan -- CNN
10 questions about the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 tragedy -- Laura Smith-Spark and Ashley Fantz, CNN