Saturday, May 31, 2014

Editor's Note (Updated)

6:00 EST (Thursday May 28, 2014): Blogging will be light for the next few days. Relatives from Russia have flown in to see my 88 year old mother (she is slowly recovering from a bad fall 3 weeks ago), as well as my brother from San Francisco who just arrived late this morning to see her.

Update 8:30 EST (Saturday, May 31): Thankfully .... all of my visitors are going to be gone this Monday evening. It has been a tough few weeks .... but I now see the light at the end of the tunnel where everything will be returning to a normal schedule and I can do what I love to do which is to read/investigate/and post interesting news developments and trends. I must also add that everyone's words of encouragement and support during this time are greatly appreciated .... it is always good to feel that you are not alone. :))

Update 8:35 EST (Saturday, May 31): Eric K. Shinseki's resignation (long overdue), rising U.S. - China tensions (that will only increase with time), Ukraine civil war (I am now calling it a civil war now), the Syrian civil war, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Afghanistan, the NSA surveillance scandal, etc  .... I am definitely looking forward to covering these exciting and global shaking news stories and receiving your feedback which gives me even more juice to do more.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Have Ukraine And Its Pro-Russian Separatists Passed The Point Of No Return?

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
A Ukrainian helicopter Mi-24 gunship fires its cannons against rebels at the main terminal building of Donetsk international airport in Ukraine, May 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Ukraine And Its Separatists Have Passed The Point Of No Return -- Haaretz

All Ukrainians are unified in their revulsion against corruption, but the depth of hostility and suspicion, fuelled by nationalists on either side and by Russia, makes bridging the divide impossible.

KIEV — On Monday morning, dozens of shoppers filled the shop near the Roshen chocolate factory by Moskovska Square in south Kiev. The night before, billionaire Petro Poroshenko, owner of the eponymous company, had been elected Ukraine’s new president with a 55 percent of the vote. Ukrainians and Russians are well-known for their sweet-tooth and Roshen, founded in 1996, is one of the strongest brands in the former Soviet Union.

“I love shopping in the Roshen shop” says Liana Orasho, a student from Polatov, who has come to buy gifts for her family before she travels home. “They have traditional sweets here but also always something new,” she says. And yes, she admits the chocolate played a part in her decision to vote Poroshenko. “I felt that he’s like his chocolate — Ukrainian tradition along with innovation.” Other shoppers also said that at least on a subconscious level, “the chocolate convinced us to vote for him.”

Read more ....

Update: ‘Point of no return’: Resolve builds among Ukraine rebels with each death -- Al Jazeera

My Comment: At the beginning of the eastern Ukraine rebellion (two months ago) I said that there were only a few hundred to a few thousand hard core separatists who would not compromise on their dream of becoming independent from Ukraine. For most Russian-Ukrainians .... they were more focused on having work, making money, and hoping that the security situation would stabilize. About a month ago the dynamics on the ground changed radically when the Ukraine military began it's offensive .... or what many are now saying in eastern Ukraine was actually a "rampage". Throw in the fact that the economy in this part of the country has now come to a standstill with many men now facing unemployment with no hope for work .... the rebellion has definitely gained a momentum of it's own that will probably not stop. If I was to take the pulse of the situation today .... I would say that a majority of the civilians in this region are now supporting the rebels .... and they have become radicalized to accept nothing less than independence from Kiev. What has also not helped the situation are the hundreds (if not thousands) of "volunteers" flooding eastern Ukraine from Russia .... this is only galvanizing a terrible situation into something worse.

Update: This RT video report will give you an indication on what Russians are seeing in their news reports on the Ukraine crisis, and what civilians in eastern Ukraine are now saying is happening. Even if this video report is partially accurate .... I have trouble seeing how reconciliation can occur when so many civilians have been traumatized by this conflict.

Pro-Russian Separatists Prepare For Ukraine Military Attack As The Fighting Continues

Situation in Luhansk. © RIA Novosti. Evgeny Biyatov

Russian-Led Rebels Dig In For Ukraine Attack -- Al Jazeera

Vostok Battalion takes over Donetsk government HQ, removing rebel administration and preparing defences against attack.

Donetsk, Ukraine - Russian-led paramilitaries are fortifying Donetsk’s provincial government building after kicking out separatist administrators, signalling a shift in power as rebels prepare for an expected assault by Ukrainian troops.

The Russian-dominated Vostok Battalion was securing the building on Friday, a day after it removed local separatist fighters and accused them of looting shops while they engaged Ukrainian forces at the city’s international airport earlier this week.

Vostok soldiers set up defences outside of the building, including an anti-aircraft gun, and bulldozed barricades to create a "free-fire zone" to prepare for an expected attack by Ukrainian soldiers.

Read more ....

More News On the Fighting In Eastern Ukraine

Over 20 Ukrainian Personnel Killed During Special Op in East – Defense Ministry -- RIA Novosti
Ukraine Rebels Outfox Army to Dent Poroshenko Troop Goal -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Fearing Kiev's jets, Ukraine's rebels hold their ground -- Haaretz
In pictures: Ukrainian security forces fight Pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk -- The Telegraph

Ukraine Military To Continue It's Offensive In The Eastern Part Of The Country

Ukrainian troops near Slaviansk (Archive) © REUTERS/ Yannis Behrakis

Ukraine Vows To Bring Peace To East -- BBC

Ukrainian forces will continue their offensive against rebels until peace and order are restored in the east, the interim defence minister has said.

Fighting has intensified around Sloviansk and 12 Ukrainian troops were killed on Thursday when pro-Russian rebels shot down an army helicopter.

Dozens of separatists died on Monday in a battle at Donetsk airport.

Russia has again called for Ukraine to stop its military campaign against the pro-Moscow rebels.

Interim Defence Minister Mykhailo Koval told reporters Ukrainian forces would continue operations in border areas "until these regions begin to live normally, until there is peace," the Reuters news agency reported.

Read more ....

More News On The Ukraine Military Vowing To Continue It's Offensive In The Eastern Part Of The Country

Ukraine to Continue Special Op in East Until Situation Stabilized – Official -- RIA Novosti
Military op to continue in E. Ukraine until 'stability' restored - defense minister -- RT
Government says it will push on with offensive against rebels -- AP
Ukraine's Acting Defense Minister Says Government Pressing on in East -- Wall Street Journal
Ukraine's Military to Continue Eastern Offensive -- Voice of America
Ukraine leader vows to punish rebels after chopper downed -- Global Post/AFP
Ukraine's President-elect vows vengeance over helicopter attack -- CNN
Ukraine’s President-elect Poroshenko will punish ‘bandits’ who shot down helicopter -- Euronews

U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel: Russia Has Withdrawn Most Troops from Ukraine Border

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses service members on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 28, 2014. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

US Official Says Russia Has Withdrawn Most Troops from Ukraine Border -- Voice of America/Reuters

SINGAPORE — Russia has withdrawn most of its troops from the Ukrainian border, but seven battalions, amounting to thousands of men, remain, a U.S. defense official said on Friday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in Singapore to attend a weekend security conference, has called the withdrawal of thousands of Russian troops from the border a promising sign, but said all troops positioned there earlier this year needed to be moved back.

The defense official said that most of the troops had been pulled back.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Russia Has Withdrawn Most It's Troops From The Ukrainian Border

Russia has withdrawn most troops from Ukraine border, Hagel says -- Washington Post
Russia Withdraws Most of Forces From Ukraine Border: U.S. -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Russia pulls most troops from Ukraine border, US defense officials say -- FOX News
Hagel: Russia has pulled back most troops from border with Ukraine -- The Hill
Russian troops said to pull back from Ukraine border -- Times of Israel/AP
Russia withdraws thousands of troops from Ukraine border hours after Ukrainian helicopter was shot down killing 14 onboard -- Daily Mail

Top Iranian Commander: 'U.S. Empire About To Collapse'

Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Photo: REUTERS

Iranian Commander Says Collapse Of US Empire Is Near -- Jerusalem Post

The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami said that the US’s status in the world has deteriorated and that its collapse is near.

“Today nowhere in the Muslim world” does anyone pull out “a red carpet for American officials and that’s why [US President Barack] Obama secretly” showed up at Bagram military base in Afghanistan without first letting President Hamid Karzai know, said Salami according to a report by Iran’s Fars news agency.

“And this shows that the US empire is coming to an end,” he said.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is not only a continuation of Iran's "hardline" approach with the West .... but also indicative of internal Iranian politics as hardliners are trying to act as a counterweight to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's overtures to the West.

Has President Obama Given Up On America's Asia-Pacific ‘Pivot’?

Where Was The Rebalance To Asia in Obama’s West Point Speech? -- Shannon Tiezzi, The Diplomat

Obama’s foreign policy address offered little clarity (or emphasis) on America’s role in the Asia-Pacific.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. The speech was billed in advance as a major foreign policy address, a chance for Obama to both defend his past foreign policy moves and to lay out his vision for the future. The speech is just the beginning of what is expected to be a major administration push to shape messaging on its foreign policy decisions, past and future. Given that Obama’s signature foreign policy slogan is the “rebalance to Asia,” a general foreign policy address has direct implications on the Asia-Pacific. What role does the U.S. seek to play there and around the world? What are its priorities and goals?

Read more ....

Update: Obama drops Asia-Pacific ‘pivot’ from U.S. security vision -- Japan Times/AP

My Comment: I do expect the U.S. "pivot" to Asia to continue in the foreseeable future .... but recent events have also clearly changed the President's focus from Asian security issues to that of pursuing an anti-terrorism policy in the Middle East and North Africa .... and we are now seeing this in recent U.S. military deployments.

Update #2: The complete U.S. President Obama foreign policy address at West Point can be seen at the above video.

Japan Lays Out It's Asian Security Vision

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his May 23 interview with The Wall Street Journal. Ko Sasaki for The Wall Street Journal

Abe To Promote Japan As Counterweight To China -- Japan Times/AFP-JIJI/Kyodo/AP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left Friday morning for Singapore to attend a three-day security summit for the Asia-Pacific region, where he will lay out a vision of Japan as a counterweight to the growing might of China.

Abe will tell the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue that Japan and its partner the United States stand ready to bolster security cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech Friday night in which he will outline his vision for a Japan that can contribute more to global peace. He will also explain why Japan is reviewing the legal constraints imposed by the pacifist Constitution amid the changing security landscape, officials said.

Read more ....

More News On Japan Laying Out It's Asian Security Vision

Abe to pledge Japan's defense contribution in Asia in first security summit speech -- FOX News/AP
Abe To Put Forward Japan as Counterweight to China -- Defense News/AFP
Abe Speech to Lay Out Asia Security Vision -- WSJ
Japan and China Face Off on Asian Security -- WSJ

My Comment: This is a seismic change in Japan's approach to foreign and national security affairs. And while I am sure that the U.S. and Australia will be applauding this change .... the rest of Asia are going to remember what Japan did in World War II .... and they will remain quiet.

NSA Releases A Portion Of It's Email Exchange With NSA Leaker Edward Snowden

NSA Releases Edward Snowden E-Mail Exchange -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- The NSA has released an e-mail exchange between Edward Snowden and the agency's general counsel's office, countering a claim the former contractor made in an interview this week.

Speaking to NBC News in an interview that aired Wednesday, Snowden claimed that he'd reached out to the office while working as an National Security Agency contractor to report what he saw as an abuse of power by the agency.

"I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities," he told NBC's Brian Williams.

In the e-mail exchange released by the NSA Thursday, Snowden requests clarification about training material he'd received, asking whether executive orders can override federal laws.

Read more ....

Update #1: Edward Snowden responds to release of e-mail by U.S. officials -- Washington Post
Update #2: US tries to debunk Snowden email claims -- ZDNet

My Comment: What hurts the U.S. government's case is that a few months ago they denied that such Edward Snowden emails existed .... and now they are finding them? Edward Snowden's contention that the NSA has only released a small portion of his correspondence has credence in view of how much the NSA and the US government have completely botched this case .... starting from from day one. My prediction .... expect more correspondence to suddenly pop-up in the weeks and months ahead.

Update #3: The full Edward Snowden exclusive interview with NBC Brian Williams can be seen in the above video.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

There Was A Time When US Diplomats Called Newly-Elected Ukrainian President Poroshenko A 'Disgraceful Oligarch'

© Photo: RIA Novosti/ Pavel Palamarchuk

US Diplomats Call Newly-Elected Ukrainian President Poroshenko 'Disgraceful Oligarch' – WikiLeaks -- Voice of Russia

US diplomats called the newly-elected president of Ukraine, Petr Poroshenko, a "disgraceful oligrach," according to WikiLeaks. The new Ukrainian leader is a well-known figure for the US government. WikiLeaks website contains 100 references to him, including uncomplimentary ones.

Billionaire Petr Poroshenko has been holding high-status positions in Ukraine for a long time, Kommersant newspaper says. The newspaper's journalists have found, what American diplomats wrote about Poroshenko in their dispatches, which were made public by WikiLeaks. Poroshenko was mentioned in the documents of the US Department of State 100 times during the period from 2006 to 2010. At the same time, part of these references was negative.

The majority of negative commentaries about Poroshenko were made during the period from 2006 to 2009.

Read more ....

Update: WikiLeaks show turnaround in US attitude to 'discredited' Poroshenko -- ITAR-TASS

My Comment: He is not an angel .... but as I had mentioned in a post after his victory .... of all the choices he was the "least bad".

International Concerns Over The Growing Crisis In Ukraine Intensifying

Kerry Raises Concerns About Ukraine, Syria With Lavrov -- NYT/Reuters

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has raised concerns with Russia's foreign minister about reports of foreign fighters, including Chechens, crossing into Ukraine from Russia, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

"He pressed Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov to end all support for separatists, denounce their actions and call on them to lay down their arms," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said of Kerry's telephone call with Lavrov on Wednesday.

The U.S. secretary of state also urged Russia to engage with Petro Poroshenko, a confectionary magnate who on Sunday was elected Ukraine's president, the first Ukrainian since 1991 to win the presidency in a single round of voting.

Read more ....

More News On Growing International Concerns Over The Ukraine Crisis

US Troubled by New Ukraine Violence -- AP
Russia urges West to press Kiev to avert Ukraine 'catastrophe' -- Reuters
Russia accuses the West of pushing Ukraine into 'fratricidal war' as Chechen leader denies sending troops to help pro-Moscow forces -- Daily Mail
Hollande to Meet Putin in First Western Meeting Since Crimea -- New York Times

Infighting Among Pro-Russian Militias In Eastern Ukraine

The forces moved the flags after surrounding and storming the building, in a bid to eject the group from the premises, amid rumours of looting at a supermarket near the airport on Monday

Pro-Russian Forces In Ukraine Turn On Each Other With Rebel Militia Arresting Rival Groups And Removing Their Flags From Check-Points -- Daily Mail

* Insurgent fighters turned against each other as clashes in Ukraine escalated
* Pro-Russians stormed separatist HQ in Donetsk amid reports of looting
* They also removed flags from check points and arrested rival groups
* It comes after helicopter was shot down with Russian anti-aircraft missiles
* Army General Serhiy Kulchytskiy among the dead in attack in Slovyansk
* Kulchytskiy once served in Soviet army and was head of combat training for Ukraine's National Guards
* Pro-Moscow rebels impose curfew in Donetsk after declaring martial law
* Reports suggest Kiev has sent armoured vehicles to the embattled city

Clashes have escalated in eastern Ukraine after dozens of rebel fighters surrounded and stormed the separatist headquarters in Donetsk, in the most serious case of insurgent infighting seen so far.

Earlier today, pro-Russian forces from the Vostok Battalion broke through the regional government building and demanded activists from the so-called People's Republic of Donetsk - which was set up in April - leave the premises.

The insurgents then arrested members of the rival group, before removing their flags from check-points in the area.

Read more ....

Update #1: Ukraine's rebels in crisis after Donetsk 'coup' -- The Telegraph
Update #2: Ukraine crisis: Paramilitaries seize Donetsk rebels’ HQ -- Financial Times

My Comment: The perception in the West is that there is a unified rebel command structure in eastern Ukraine that is organized and responsible for directing the insurgency against pro-Ukrainian forces .... but the reality on the ground is very different. What we have are primarily local militias that have been established in the past two months with little if any training, organization, direction, or even having the proper communications network amongst themselves on how to proceed in a unified military structure. Some of these militia groups are also nothing more but criminal gangs who are taking advantage of the near lawlessness that now exists .... a truly frightening situation for some of the villages that are now under their control. This is why I know that Russia has not been directly involved in this fight (Luhansk and Donetsk) .... because if Moscow was directly involved this type of disorganization would never exist. Mind you .... today's battles do indicate that someone is trying to bring some order to the chaos .... and we will probably find out in the next few days on who is directing this internal fight.

Are Chechen Fighters In Ukraine?

Analyst: Chechen Fighters Sent to Ukraine on Russian Orders -- Voice of America

Ukraine's presidential elections have not restored peace in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists continue to fight for independence and possible annexation by Russia. Moscow has denied supplying any military support to the insurrection, but reports from the region say there is growing evidence that many rebel fighters are Russian nationals, including some from Chechnya.

The ballots from Sunday's presidential election were still being counted when insurgents in the Donbas region seized the area's main airport and fought one of the fiercest battles to keep control over the city of Donetsk.

Moscow has officially endorsed the Ukrainian election. But Ukrainian officials say Russia is sending forces across the border to fight alongside the separatists, and this needs to be addressed.

Read more ....

More News On Reports Of Chechen Fighters In Ukraine

Chechen leader Kadyrov denies sending troops to Ukraine -- BBC
Chechen leader denies sending troops to Ukraine -- AP
Chechen Leader Denies Sending Fighters to Ukraine -- Voice of America
Kadyrov Denies Sending Chechen Troops to Eastern Ukraine -- Moscow Times
Chechen fighters among ranks of rebel militants in Ukraine, self-appointed mayor says -- FOX News
Chechens join pro-Russians in battle for east Ukraine -- Financial Times
Chechen Militants Are Now Spreading Chaos In Ukraine -- Business Insider
Yes, There Are Chechen Fighters in Ukraine, and Nobody Knows Who Sent Them There -- Vice
Chechens in Ukraine Capture Public Interest -- Moscow Times

My Comment: According to my sources .... there are Chechen fighters in eastern Ukraine .... but they are not in the large numbers that many in the media are trying to portray. They are easy to pick out in this region because they do not look Ukrainian (their Russian dialect is different and their physical appearance is from the Caucasus) .... and they are also traveling with heavy weaponry and equipment that local pro-Russian militias do not have.

The next big question that needs to be answered is .... are they there on Russia's orders? My answer is yes .... the Caucasus is one of the most militarized regions in the world .... armed militia units will never be permitted to cross literally a thousand kilometers of Russian territory unless they are given permission. What I do not understand is why send only a few units in a vast region where their role and impact will be minimal at best .... the only answer that I could think of is that this is a message from Moscow to Ukraine .... be compliant or else you will soon be fighting against thousands of Chechen fighters instead of a few hundred.

Ukraine Military Unprepared To Fight Against The Numerous Militia Groups That Are Now Springing Up In Eastern Ukraine

Fighting in Ukraine Escalates As Militia Groups Flock to Donetsk -- VICE

"Our president [Ramzan Kadyrov] gave the order. They called us and we came,” 33-year-old Zelimhan tells VICE News. The bearded fighter, a member of a unit known as the “Wild Division,” says he arrived a week ago with 34 Chechen men who volunteered to come and support their “brothers” in the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

Russia and the authorities of the rebel republic have repeatedly denied allegations that foreign groups are crossing into Ukraine to fight alongside the rebels.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has said that the country is under “undisguised aggression” from Moscow, which is “exporting foreign terrorism” to the country.

The Wild Division is just the latest unit to join the swirling mix of militia groups that are descending on eastern Ukraine to join in a conflict that increasingly looks to be turning into a civil war.

Fighting in the region has killed scores in the last week.

Read more ....

More News On The Ukraine Military Not Prepared To Fight A Guerrilla War In Eastern Ukraine

New Ukraine military losses highlight dangers of unfolding guerrilla warfare scenario -- AP
Ukraine Sees Russia as Source of Insurgent Threat -- Moscow Times/AP
In eastern Ukraine, residents fear threat of civil war -- CBS
A Coffin Convoy to Russia -- Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast
Why are Ukraine's armed forces so ineffective? -- Sabra Ayres, Christian Science Monitor

My Comment: I am now hearing continuous reports that morale is hitting rock bottom for much of the Ukraine military .... especially among those who have been deployed to the east. This is not a surprise to me .... much of the military is deeply fractured with many of these conscripts not interested in fighting against militia groups who know the terrain and are operating with support from much of the civilian population. In short .... the Ukraine military is not even close to being capable of fighting a guerrilla war.

Ukrainian Military Helicopter Shot Down Killing Top General And Thirteen Soldiers

Ukrainian Military Helicopter Shot Down, 14 Dead, President Says -- CNN

Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) -- At least 14 people, including a general, were killed Thursday when a Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down by "terrorists" near Slovyansk, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told Parliament.

Turchynov said the chopper, which was carrying soldiers for a troop rotation, was shot down using a Russian rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Militants in the rebel stronghold claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter, a spokesman for the militants said. The aircraft had flown there from Kramatorsk, he said, where the Ukrainian military has a substantial presence.

Read more ....

More News Reports On A Ukrainian Military Helicopter Being Shot Down Leaving 14 Troops And A General Dead

Ukraine separatists down army helicopter, 14 killed -- Reuters
Rebels down helicopter; another big loss for Kiev -- Washington Post/AP
Ukraine army helicopter shot down near Sloviansk -- BBC
General Among 14 Killed in Ukraine as Rebels Down Copter -- NYT
Ukraine military helicopter shot down, leaving 14 troops and general dead -- FOX News
Ukraine: general reportedly among dead as rebels down helicopter -- The Guardian
Ukraine rebels down helicopter, 14 dead -- SKY News
Military helicopter downed in eastern Ukraine -- Deutsche Welle
Ukraine general dies as helicopter shot down -- Al Jazeera
14 military killed in chopper downed in E. Ukraine - acting president -- RT
Ukrainian General, 13 More Troops Killed as Helicopter Shot Down Near Slaviansk -- RIA Novosoti
Obituary: Major General Serhiy Kulchytsky -- BBC

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

World News Briefs -- May 27, 2014

Obama Outlines Plans for Foreign Policy -- Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama announced plans to keep a robust U.S. force in Afghanistan next year but then withdraw it by the end of 2016, as he prepared a major address Wednesday aimed at recalibrating American foreign policy and countering criticism that U.S. power has waned under his watch.

As part of that effort, officials said Mr. Obama is close to approving, for the first time, a military training program for the armed Syrian opposition, in a reflection of growing criticism that the U.S. hasn't done enough to help moderate rebels counter the Assad regime and challenge the growing strength of al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Read more ....


Obama says U.S. to boost support to Syrian opposition groups.

Tens of thousands of Syrians abroad vote in early poll.

Iraq attacks kill 14 as 2014 toll tops 4,000.

Hamas prepares for unity government with last cabinet meeting in Gaza City.

Palestinians riot on Temple Mount as Jews gather at Wall for Jerusalem Day.

Courting Kurdish vote, Turkey's Erdogan warns against sabotaging peace.

In rare Israel visit, Lebanese church head hears exiled Christians.


US, China roles in Asia-Pacific security to top multinational summit.

Relief in Afghanistan after Obama makes troop commitment.

Thai military relaxes curfew to boost tourism.

Thai military briefly cuts off Facebook to silence protests.

Pakistan Taliban splits into factions.

India, Pakistan leaders meet, signal steps to rebuild trust.

India special task force to find 'black money'.


U.S. tells citizens to leave Libya immediately.

Libya PM's home attacked as US deploys Marines.

Libyan warplanes hit Benghazi bases.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda sending 2,500 troops to South Sudan.

Boko Haram too extreme for 'al Qaeda in West Africa' brand.

Egypt voting extended amid poor turnout. Egypt polls open for 3rd day, few voters show up.

Mozambique's opposition Renamo warns of more bloodshed.

South African Platinum strike talks break down: minister. South Africa mines minister vows to break strike deadlock.


Chechen troops suspected of helping pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. Calm returns after battle as divided east Ukraine city awaits fate.

Russia warns of 'fratricidal war' in Ukraine.

Chechen leader denies sending troops to Ukraine.

Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine will owe $5.2 billion as of June 7.

Russia offers humanitarian aid to east Ukraine.

Prudent on talks, Turkish Cypriots say gas find could be obstacle.

Hundreds of migrants storm across Spanish border at Melilla. French riot police clear three migrant camps in Calais.


Obama: US must show restraint abroad.

Obama tells cadets U.S. must refocus on terrorism.

Divided Latin America favors fast-growing Pacific region.

Brazil police fire tear gas at anti-World Cup protesters.

It’s official: Most American kids are physically unfit.

US civilian pilots still straying into restricted airspace.

@HiddenCash: Mystery benefactor Twitter clues lead to money.

U.S. author, poet Maya Angelou dies at 86: publisher.


US to start $5 billion anti-terrorist fund.

First American jihadist may have carried out suicide bombing in Syria: report.

Military judge asked to review Guantanamo order.


Corporate stranglehold of farmland a risk to world food security, study says.

Google is to start building its own self-driving cars.

Goldman’s Cohn says inactive trading environment is abnormal.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 28, 2014

'Harder To End Wars Than It Is To Begin Them': Obama Will Keep 9,800 US Troops In Afghanistan After December Despite State Of The Union Promise To Have All Troops Out By End Of This Year -- Daily Mail

* A senior White House official told reporters Tuesday that 'we want to maintain a counterterrorism ability ... we're going to train Afghan National Security Forces to help us in mitigating that threat'
* But Obama said Tuesday afternoon that in 2015 'Afghans will be fully responsible for securing their country' and the US will be limited to 'an advisory role'
* 'This year we will bring the war in Afghanistan to a responsible end,' he said
* The conference-call official said by the end of 2016 the US would have only an 'embassy presence with a security assistance office' – meaning Bagram Air Base could be closed or given to the Afghans
* Obama said in January's that only 'a small force' of Americans might stay behind, but nearly 10,000 U.S. military personnel will remain
* Originally the White House said they would help a few thousand NATO troops train Afghan fighters, and man 'counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al-Qaeda'
* President Hamid Karzai has not signed a Bilateral Security Agreement that would keep U.S. personnel there while making them immune from Afghan law; both of his possible successors have said they will sign it

In a stunning admission Tuesday afternoon, a senior White House official told reporters on a conference call that part of the continuing U.S. mission in Afghanistan will involve training security forces in that country to 'help us' defeat al-Qaeda – not the other way around.

The White House has sought to assure the press that the U.S. role after 2014 would be reduced to what President Barack Obama called 'an advisory role' just an hour later.

But the official's statement, which drew no follow-up inquiry from the few reporters permitted to ask questions, indicates that American forces will take on a more substantial part of Afghanistan's coming security needs.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs

Obama Details Plan for Forces in Afghanistan -- WSJ

How much money will Obama want for Afghanistan troops? -- The Hill

Relief in Afghanistan after Obama makes troop commitment -- Stars and Stripes

It’s a mistake to set strict Afghanistan withdrawal deadlines: Hayden -- Washington Times

With Afghanistan plan revealed, Obama to spell out foreign policy vision -- CNN

Obama to answer foreign policy critics in Military Academy speech -- Reuters

U.S. to Train Moderate Syrian Rebels, Sets $5 Billion Fund to Fight Terrorism -- Wall Street Journal

Chinese Fighters Intercept Japanese Surveillance Planes -- Defense Tech

Russian Naval Aviation Monitoring NATO Warships in Black Sea – Source -- RIA Novosti

Russia Lays Down 6th Kilo-Class Sub for Vietnam -- RIA Novsoti

Djibouti-based troops restricted to base following bombing -- Stars and Stripes

McKeon Hits Back at Critics of Defense Bill -- DoD Buzz

Why Can’t America’s Newest Stealth Jet Land Like It’s Supposed To? -- Bill Sweetman, Daily Beast

HAYDEN: Questions that still puzzle me about the Snowden, NSA spying story -- Washington Times

White House to investigate inadvertent naming of CIA officer -- Washington Post

The U.S. Army’s New Drone Is a Hunter and a Killer -- David Cenciotti, War Is Boring

DARPA introduces 'invulnerable' hack-proof drone -- RT

Chastened Pentagon promises better ammo count -- USA Today

U.S. Military's 'Iron Man' Suit Prototype Debuts This Month -- Yahoo News/Live Science

Hagel Orders Review of Military Health System -- AP

Hagel orders review of military health system amid VA scandal -- FOX News/Wall Street Journal

US Military Defeats British Forces--in Surfing -- Breitbart

Why the U.S. Should Welcome Japan’s ‘Spear’ Capability -- Ayumi Teraoka, The Diplomat

Military Official Says They’ll Be ‘Tweeted Into Combat’ -- Daily Caller

US Military in Afghanistan by the Numbers: 2,184 Dead, 19,600 Wounded -- ABC News

Obama To Spell Out Foreign Policy Vision In Commencement Address At West Point (Live)

WNU Editor: The live link to President Obama's visit and address at West Point is here.

Secretary of State John Kerry: Edward Snowden Should "Man Up" And Come Home

Kerry: Edward Snowden Should "Man Up" And Come Home -- CBS

Secretary of State John Kerry said accused National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden had "damaged his country very significantly, " and called on him to "man up and come back to the United States."

Snowden has taken refuge in Russia after being the alleged mastermind behind an extensive series of leaked secrets involving the inner workings of one of America's most secretive spying programs.

In a recent interview with NBC, Snowden claimed he was "trained as a spy, " and that he chose to remain in Russia because he feared an unfair trial back home, and because the U.S. decided to "revoke my passport."

Read more ....

More News On Secretary of State John Kerry's Remark That Edward Snowden Should "Man Up" And Come Home

John Kerry: Edward Snowden should ‘man up’ and return to the U.S. -- Washington Post
Kerry tells Snowden to 'man up' and come home -- AP
Kerry rips Snowden for 'dumb answer,' tells him to 'man up' -- Sun Times
Kerry slams Snowden's 'dumb answer' -- The Hill
Snowden should 'man up', face justice -- SKY News
John Kerry Wants Edward Snowden to 'Man Up' and 'Trust the American System of Justice' -- The Wire
John Kerry to Edward Snowden: Man Up and Come Back to the U.S. -- Mashable

WNU Editor: Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks on Edward Snowden are at the 6:00 mark of the interview

NBC's Interview With NSA Leaker Edward Snowden -- A News Roundup

EXCLUSIVE: Edward Snowden Tells Brian Williams: 'I Was Trained As A Spy' -- NBC

Edward Snowden, in an exclusive interview with "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, is fighting back against critics who dismissed him as a low-level hacker — saying he was “trained as a spy” and offered technical expertise to high levels of government.

Snowden defended his expertise in portions of the interview that aired at 6:30 p.m. ET on Nightly News. The extended, wide-ranging interview with Williams, his first with a U.S. television network, airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said in the interview.

Read more ....

More News On NBC's Interview With NSA Leaker Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden says he was trained 'as a spy' -- Reuters
Edward Snowden 'was trained as a spy,' he tells NBC -- CNN
Snowden Says He Was a Spy, Not Just an Analyst -- New York Times
Edward Snowden claims to be a spy, blames State Dept. for stranding him in Russia -- Washington Times
I am a real spy, not low-level system administrator - Snowden -- RT
Snowden Says He Worked As A Spy At 'All Levels' -- Radio Free Europe
Snowden: I Was 'Trained as a Spy' -- Voice of America
Snowden: I was a trained spy for the NSA and CIA -- Computing
Edward Snowden tells Brian Williams the U.S. stranded him in Russia, that he was 'trained as a spy' -- NewsOK
Edward Snowden Says He’s ‘Trained As a Spy,’ Not Just a Low-Level Hacker -- New York Magazine
Edward Snowden wants you to call him what he is: a trained government spy -- Endgadget
Edward Snowden Says The U.S. Stranded Him In Russia -- AP
To Get Snowden Interview, NBC News Relied on Secrecy -- New York Times
Brian Williams: Edward Snowden Is 'Blindingly Smart' -- Huffington Post
Edward Snowden: A Timeline -- NBC
Who Is Edward Snowden, the Man Who Spilled the NSA's Secrets? -- NBC

A Story Of True Grit

Quadruple amputee U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills is interviewed at by a member of the media as a documentary, "Travis: a Soldier's Story" about his life after being wounded, is screened in the Capitol Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C., Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Mills is one of just five quadruple-amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive their injuries. He was injured from an IED (improvised explosive device) on April 10, 2012, while on patrol during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Veteran Who Lost Four Limbs To IED In Afghanistan Now Says: ‘I’m Just A Guy Living Life’ -- Washington Times

A U.S. veteran who lost all four of his limbs when he was hit by an improvised explosive device during one of his three tours in Afghanistan now says he’s “just a guy living life” — a humbling sentiment that captured even the attention of Mike Rowe, star of the TV show “Dirty Jobs.”

“He has a motto,” Mr. Rowe wrote on his Facebook page on Memorial Day, in honor of retired U.S. ArmyStaff Sgt. Travis Mills. “Never give up — never quit. He has a Foundation. He’s featured in a new documentary. He also has a wife and a kid and a deeply personal commitment to help other wounded vets cope with their injuries. But when I asked him why I hadn’t seen him in any of the typical commercials and PSAs for wounded veterans, his answer was stunning. He said he didn’t consider himself to be wounded. ‘I’m not a victim, Mike. And I refuse to be portrayed that way. Case closed.’ “

Still, Staff Sgt. Mills said his first reaction during his injury was to wave the battlefield medic away.

Read more ....

My Comment: These stories always put everything into perspective for me. Complain as much as I do .... my life pales in comparison to people like Andrew Harnik.

The U.S. Air Force Is Upgrading The B-52

B-52 Receives First Tech Upgrade Since 1961: Now With color Screens And Wireless Networking -- Extreme Tech

The B-52 Stratofortress, which first entered service as a nuclear deterrent during the Cold War in 1952, has received its first ever technology overhaul. This overhaul, dubbed CONECT, brings the B-52H bomber kicking and screaming into the late 20th century, with a digital intercom system, color displays, a LAN for the plane’s various systems, and other bleeding-edge upgrades. Previously, the B-52H was a mishmash of digital and analog systems, with monochrome displays and targeting systems that had to be manually programmed from pen-and-paper coordinates. You’ll be glad to hear that, like the plane’s original load-out, all of the new systems have been radiation shielded for nuclear apocalypse warfare.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Air Force Upgrading The B-52

The B-52 Bomber Is Now A Network Hub With Wings -- Gizmodo
B-52 gets first full IT upgrade since ’60s, now LAN party ready -- Ars Technica
The US Air Force's oldest bomber is now a flying network -- Endgadget
Boeing updates B-52 bombers with CONECT comms system -- Gizmag
B-52 Bomber Gets Its First New Communications System Since the 1960s -- NBC

Is Russia's Sukhoi PAK FA -50 'Superior' To America's F-22 Raptor?

Russian Sokhoi PAK FA Stealth Fighter Superior To U.S. F-22 Raptor In Many Important Ways -- Ground Report

Russia’s new fifth-generation Sukhoi PAK FA -50 (Russian: Перспективный авиационный комплекс фронтовой авиации) fighter jet performed its first demonstration flight at MAKS-2011 international air and space show in the town of Zhukovsky, near Moscow.

According to all reports the Sukhou PAK preformed admirably.

Spectators marveled as two T-50 jets appeared in the sky above Zhukovsky at 16:00 o’clock yesterday.

Among the dignitaries at the air show was Russian Prime Minister Putin, who inspected the aircrafts when they landed and shook hands with the Russian pilots.

Read more ....

My Comment: Here is a general comparison chart of the two fighters and China's J-20.

Hat Tip: Naval Open Source Intelligence

Russia Explores Greater Space Cooperation With China While Threatening To End Any Future Cooperation With The U.S.

Russia May Carry Out Joint Astronautic Projects With China – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin -- Voice of Russia

Russia may implement joint astronautic projects with China, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin told journalists. "As for the period after 2020, Russia may have new astronautic projects with other partners or a broader range of partners," Rogozin said, speaking about a possible denial to renew the program of the International Space Station (ISS) after 2020.

"We may take on a project with China. We've agreed upon holding negotiations with our Chinese colleagues during the upcoming Universal Exposition in the city of Harbin, China, in June," Rogozin said. Moreover, Russia may work on some projects with other countries, like India.

As for China, Rogozin said that the country "is making progress very fast; Russia congratulates its Chinese colleagues with their success in the astronautic sphere."

Read more ....

More News On Russia Threatening To End Space Cooperation With The U.S.

Permanently manned ISS could end in 2020 -- RT
Using Space Station after 2020 unprofitable for Russia — deputy PM -- ITAR-Tass
Russia's ISS Cooperation with US 'Pointless' - Deputy PM -- Novinite
Earthly Conflicts Threaten US-Russia Space Cooperation -- Voice of America

Picture Of The Day

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
A Ukrainian helicopter Mi-24 gunship fires its cannons against rebels at the main terminal building of Donetsk international airport in Ukraine, May 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Ties Deepen Between Russia And Syria

Russian Deputy PM Rogozin Meets With Syria's Assad -- Radio Free Europe

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Rogozin wrote on May 24 on his Twitter account that he was meeting with officials in Damascus and "finishing meeting with Assad."

The tweet contained a picture of Rogozin shaking hands with Assad.

Speaking after the meeting with the Syrian president, Rogozin contrasted upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine and Syria, saying Syria's election was being conducted in strict accordance with the constitution and "not as a result of a state coup with an accompanying usurpation of power."

Read more ....

More News On Russian Deputy PM Rogozin Meeting With Syrian President Bashar Assad

Russian Deputy PM Rogozin meets with Syrian President Bashar Assad -- Voice of Russia
Rogozin Rubs Elbows With Assad in Damascus -- Moscow Times
Syria's President Assad thanks Russia for support -- Al Bawaba
Assad to Moscow: Thank you! -- Middle East Online

Will 10,000 U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Be Enough To Stop Al Qaeda?

Will Obama's 10,000 Troops in Afghanistan Be Enough To Stop Al Qaeda? -- Eli Lake and Josh Rogin, Daily Beast

The Pentagon prevailed this week in a fight over how many U.S. forces will fight in Afghanistan past 2014. But will 9,800 troops be enough to keep a resurgent al Qaeda out?

President Obama is poised to keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan until at least 2016. Some top intelligence and military officers now fighting that war say the number of troops under consideration by the White House should be just enough to prevent al Qaeda from re-establishing a safe haven. Others aren’t so sure that 9,800 troops can keep the terror group and its allies at bay.

The stakes in the troop decision couldn’t be higher. Not only will it help shape the relationship between Obama and his national security state during the president’s final years in office, but in a very real way, the decision could determine the final outcome of America’s longest war. There are top military and intelligence officials who are deeply concerned about what the president might do next.

“The bottom line is that 10,000 troops is not enough to deny al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan,” one U.S. intelligence officer told The Daily Beast. “As a result, they will come back. We have decided as a political leadership that we can live with this.”

Read more ....

My Comment: In a country as vast as Afghanistan .... I fail to see how 10,000 U.S. soldiers can make a difference when tens of thousands of U.S. and international troops could not stop the Taliban after 13 years of war. This is all political posturing done to placate critics of the White House that the Obama administration is not doing enough in Afghanistan .... and to make everyone feel good that they are trying their best. My prediction .... the Taliban and their Al Qaeda are going to step up their attacks .... especially on targets where U.S. forces are based and their defenses are weak.

White House To Investigate How The CIA's Station Chief In Afghanistan Had His Name Revealed To The Media

White House Launches Internal Probe Into Accidental Outing Of CIA Official -- FOX News

The White House has launched an internal probe after its press office inadvertently outed the top CIA official in Afghanistan -- a national security blunder that could put that individual at risk.

A spokeswoman with the National Security Council confirmed to Fox News that the White House chief of staff asked White House Counsel Neil Eggleston to “look into what happened” and make recommendations on “how the administration can improve processes and make sure something like this does not happen again.”

The brief statement from the National Security Council was the first on-the-record comment made by the administration since the CIA official’s name was disclosed over the weekend. The internal review, though, reflects the severity of the error.

Read more ....

Update: White House to review leak of CIA agent's name -- USA Today

My Comment: This is a serious incident .... someone screwed up big time and deserves to be fired.

Why Is The U.S. State Department Promoting A Muslim Cleric Who Supports The Killing Of U.S. Troops?

Muslim Cleric Who Backed Fatwa On ‘Killing Of U.S. Soldiers’ Promoted By State Dept. -- Washington Times/Washington Free Beacon

The State Department’s Counter Terrorism (CT) Bureau promoted on Friday a controversial Muslim scholar whose organization has reportedly backed Hamas and endorsed a fatwa authorizing the murder of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The CT bureau on Friday tweeted out a link to the official website of Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, the vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), a controversial organization founded by a Muslim Brotherhood leader “who has called for the death of Jews and Americans and himself is banned from visiting the U.S.,” according to Fox News.

Bin Bayyah is reported to have been one of several clerics who endorsed a 2004 fatwa that endorsed resistance against Americans fighting in Iraq, PJ Media reported in 2013, when Bin Bayyah met with Obama’s National Security Council staff at the White House.

Read more ....

My Comment: WTF?!?!?!?!

Update: It appears that saner heads have prevailed .... State Department Apologizes for Promoting Muslim Cleric Who Backed Killing of U.S. Soldiers -- Washington Free Beacon

President Obama To Authorize U.S. Military Training Of Syrian Rebels

Syrian Rebels Describe U.S.-Backed Training in Qatar -- Frontline

WASHINGTON — With reports indicating that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad are gaining ground in that country’s brutal civil war, moderate Syrian rebels have told a visiting journalist that the United States is arranging their training in Qatar.

In a documentary to be aired Tuesday night, the rebels describe their clandestine journey from the Syrian battlefield to meet with their American handlers in Turkey and then travel on to Qatar, where they say they received training in the use of sophisticated weapons and fighting techniques, including, one rebel said, “how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.”

The interviews are the latest evidence that after more than three years of warfare, the United States has stepped up the provision of lethal aid to the rebels. In recent months, at least five rebel units have posted videos showing their members firing U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles at Syrian positions. The weapons are believed to have come from Saudi Arabia, but experts on international arms transfers have told McClatchy that they could not have been given to the rebels without the approval of the Obama administration.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That President Obama Is About To Authorize U.S. Military Training Of Syrian Rebels

Obama Close to Authorizing Military Training of Syrian Rebels -- WSJ
US nears decision on training Syrian rebels -- AP
U.S. closer to expanding training for Syrian rebels -- CNN
Obama to authorize training of Syrian rebels -- Global Post/AFP
Obama expected to announce training for moderate Syrian rebels -- CBS
US trains Syrian rebels in Qatar to ‘ambush' soldiers and 'finish off' the wounded – report -- RT
Obama about-turns on Syria: US military training and weapons for moderate Syrian rebels -- Debka
U.S.-Saudi relations still strained by Syria -- Washington Post

US Deploys Warship Carrying 1,000 Marines Off The Coast Of Libya. U.S. Citizens Are Told To Leave The Country Immediately

US Sends Assault Ship With 1,000 Marines Near Libya, Asks Americans To 'Depart Immediately' -- RT

The US is sending 1,000 Marines in an amphibious assault ship to Libya's coast as a “precautionary” move should the US embassy require evacuation, a US official said. Security concerns also led the US to suggest Americans in Libya "depart immediately."

Adding to tensions, gunmen attacked the Tripoli home of Libya’s new prime minister, Ahmed Maiteeq, on Tuesday. Businessman Maiteeq, 42, and his family escaped harm, according to AFP.

An aide to Maiteeq said "there was an attack with rockets and small arms on the prime minister's house" in Tripoli at 3:00 a.m. (0100 GMT). Maiteeq’s guards opened fire on the attackers, wounding and arresting two of them, the official added.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The US Has Deployed A Warship Carrying 1,000 Marines Off The Coast Of Libya. U.S. Citizens Are Also being Told To Leave The Country Immediately

As Libya deteriorates, U.S. prepares for possible evacuation -- CBS/AP
US deploys warship carrying marines off Libya -- AFP
Navy ship with 1,000 Marines arrives off Libya to help Americans if unrest escalates -- FOX News
US deploys warship off Libya -- SKY News
U.S. beefs up Mediterranean crisis force with warship, Marines -- Reuters
USS Bataan moves into Mediterranean -- Bloomberg Businessweek/AP

My Comment: You do not have to be a top notch intelligence expert to know that the security situation in Libya is deteriorating fast.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- May 27, 2014

Petro Poroshenko, the billionaire owner of Ukrainian chocolate manufacture Roshen and president-elect of Ukraine, talks with Reuters reporters in Kiev on April 4, 2014. Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters/File

Ukraine's Autocratic New President -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

The first actions and pronouncements of the new Ukrainian president, billionaire Petro Poroshenko, suggest that he intends to be a strong-arm leader in the traditional post-Soviet mold. A worthy adversary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, perhaps, but not quite what the pro-European protesters wanted when they overthrew another authoritarian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, just three months ago.

Of the 15 former Soviet republics, only Moldova and two Baltic states -- Estonia and, to a lesser extent, Lithuania -- settled on a parliamentary republic as their form of government, though this is the dominant model throughout Europe. The rest opted for strong presidents, who quickly evolved into dictators in Central Asia, Russia and Belarus.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

War and Murder in Eastern Ukraine -- Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast

Ukraine crisis analysis: There is no chance of the offensive ending within weeks, let alone hours -- Kim Sengupta, The Independent

Ukraine’s 'chocolate king' signals strong ties to West, yet can't quit Russia -- Howard LaFranchi, CSM

US Ambassador: Russian Involvement in Ukraine Hard to Deny -- VOA

U.S.-Saudi relations still strained by Syria -- Liz Sly, Washington Post

How Not to Find Closure in Iraq -- Rob Kunzig, Politico Magazine

Israel better off with Arab tyrants -- Smadar Perry, YNet News

The Master Plan: How to Avoid a Dangerous U.S.-China Rivalry -- Mira Rapp-Hooper, National Interest

Voices of Egypt's voters on presidential election -- AP

Lurching Right: UKIP Win Creates Pressure for Cameron and Europe -- Carsten Volkery, Spiegel Online

Why Washington Will Worry About UKIP's Rise -- Tom Rogan, Daily Telegraph

The Pope's Holy-Land Trip Wasn't About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict -- Emma Green, The Atlantic

Obama's half-full, half-empty Afghanistan plan -- Anna Mulrine, CSM

Obama’s Split-the-Difference Foreign Policy -- Max Boot, Commentary

Superpowers Don't Get to Retire -- Robert Kagan, New Republic