Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Ebola Epidemic Is About to Get Worse

The Ebola Epidemic Is About to Get Worse. Much Worse. -- Michael T. Osterholm, Politico

As in: We need to order 500 million vaccines. Now.

Ebola is spreading faster than anyone would like to admit, and the current, slow international response to the deadly disease is morphing into a modern tragedy. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta confirmed the first case in the United States, in Dallas. If Ebola has already arrived on these shores, imagine how quickly it could be spreading in Africa.

Ebola’s dispersion on the African continent must be stopped soon. But right now there exists no realistic scheme to do so: Plan A is failing, there is no real Plan B and the best chance for a magic bullet—Plan C—is at best many months away.

Plan A—smothering the virus where it is currently an epidemic—hinges on having a sufficient number of Ebola treatment-center beds in African countries and necessary health-care providers for every Ebola virus disease (EVD) patient. In this ideal setting, each EVD patient is isolated and is no longer in a position to transmit the virus to family members or others in the community. Once patients are identified, public health workers begin to track down their contacts to ensure that if contacts become sick with EVD-like symptoms they are quickly provided a treatment-center bed, where they, in turn, can be isolated and the process repeats itself. This strategy has worked in containing every previous Ebola outbreak.

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My Comment: This epidemic is out of control

First Confirmed Case Of Ebola In The United States

Ebola Is in America: Dallas Man Is Diagnosed With Disease AFTER Return From Africa In First Case Found On U.S. Soil. Now In Isolation But He MAY Have Infected Others -- Daily Mail/AP

* An isolated patient inside Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is sick with Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said
* CDC Director Tom Frieden said the patient traveled from Liberia to the United States earlier this month and was visiting his family
* The man was reportedly given antibiotics before he was critically ill and admitted two days later
* The misdiagnosis is reportedly being investigated
* Frieden said there was no risk to anyone on the airplane because the patient had no symptoms at the time of the flight
* It is the first Ebola case diagnosed in the United States
* The hospital said in a statement Monday night that the patient's symptoms and travel history suggested the patient has the deadly virus
* The Ebola virus has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa
* Doctors say risk of infection is low without bodily fluid exchange

Federal health officials on Tuesday confirmed the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., a male patient who recently traveled from Liberia to Dallas and a sign of the far-reaching impact of the out-of-control epidemic in West Africa.

The unidentified patient was critically ill and has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since Sunday, officials said.

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More News On The First Confirmed Case Of Ebola In The United States

White House Urges Calm After First Confirmed U.S. Ebola Case -- Time
Traveler from Liberia is first Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S. -- Reuters
Ebola Is Diagnosed in Texas, First Case Found in the U.S. -- New York Times
First diagnosed case of Ebola in the U.S. -- CNN
CDC confirms first case of Ebola in US -- FOX News
First Ebola case diagnosed in the US -- Al Jazeera
First US Case of Ebola Diagnosed in Dallas -- VOA
CDC director says U.S. should be able to contain Ebola spread -- Reuters
Timeline for first case of Ebola diagnosed in US -- AP
There’s Really No Way To Screen for Ebola at Airports -- Defense One
EMS crew, ambulance in Dallas Ebola case put in isolation -- CBS
Ebola Virus Symptoms and Prevention Tips -- News92
CDC issues Ebola guidelines for U.S. funeral homes -- CBS
Ebola case stokes concerns for Liberians in Texas -- Washington Post
American Ebola Survivor: Outbreak is 'A Fire Straight From the Pit of Hell' -- Sophie Novack, National Journal
Wait, You Can Have Ebola and Still Board a Plane? -- Olga Khazan, The Atlantic
Ebola in the U.S.: What you need to know now -- CBS
Ebola Fast Facts -- CNN Library

Here Are 6 Reasons On Why One Soldier Was Happy That He Went To War

Why ’6 Reasons I’m Happier Because I Went To War’ Went Viral -- Washington Post

It’s counter-intuitive: Why would combat veterans who risk their lives repeatedly, experience gruesome events and witness their fellow service members die be happy that they went to war?

And yet that’s exactly what Marine veteran John Walters reflects on in a new post on LinkedIn that has gone viral. Tens of thousands of readers have shared the piece, titled “6 Reasons I’m Happier Because I Went to War.” Many of them say they also served in the military and relate to what he shared.

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WNU Editor: The original post is here.

An Analysis On The Many Missteps In Assessing The ISIS Threat

Many Missteps In Assessment of ISIS Threat -- Peter Baker and Eric Schmittsept, NYT

WASHINGTON — By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.

But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”

The White House denies that, but the threat certainly has its attention now as American warplanes pound the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State in hopes of reversing its lightning-swift seizing of territory in Iraq and Syria. Still, even as bombs fall from the sky thousands of miles away, the question of how it failed to anticipate the rise of a militant force that in the space of a few months has redrawn the map of the Middle East resonates inside and outside the Obama administration.

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My Comment: The New York Times tries to explain why the White House failed to understand the threat posed by the Islamic State .... I am not impressed by their explanation. This blog has been covering the emergence of the the Islamic State since last year, and our analysis has been spot on.

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

Is Obama Passing The Buck On Underestimating Islamic State? -- Peter Grier, CSM

Some don't like how President Obama handled a question about the Islamic State during a '60 Minutes' interview. Some think he threw his Director of National Intelligence under a bus.

Washington — Is President Obama blaming everyone but himself for missing the danger posed by the Islamic State (IS), allowing it to grab a big slice of territory in Syria and Iraq?

That’s what critics are claiming Monday in the wake of Mr. Obama’s appearance on CBS's “60 Minutes” Sunday night.

Here’s the underpinning of their argument: At one point, interviewer Steve Kroft asked the president how it was that IS ended up in control of so much land, and whether that had been a surprise to him.

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

Obama’s Own JV Team: After the bin Laden raid, the deluge. -- Max Boot, Weekly Standard

Special Report: Islamic State uses grain to tighten grip in Iraq -- Maggie Fick, Reuters

The Caliphate Next Door: Turkey Faces Up to its Islamic State Problem -- Katrin Elger, Hasnain Kazim, Christoph Reuter and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online

Turkey shifts tone on Islamic State. Will it join US-led coalition? -- Dominique Soguel, CSM

Syria Raids Show Saudi, UAE Ambition to Extend Regional Authority -- Voice of America/Reuters

Why is Hong Kong protesting? -- BBC

Hong Kong’s protests could have far-reaching consequences for China -- Rowan Callick, The Australian

Hong Kong's protests: A tough test for China's leaders -- The Economist

65 Years of Communism and One Red Hot Hong Kong -- Bloomberg News

Ukrainians just pulled down a massive Lenin statue. What does that signal for Russia? -- Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post

Threatened, Raided, And Exiled: Opposing Putin In Crimea -- Leonid Ragozin & Max Seddon, BuzzFeed

Life After Putin: Russia Needs to Be Rebuilt From Scratch -- The Moscow Times

How American Fracking Could Cause a Russian Recession -- American Interest

“This will get worse before it gets better”: How America's top public health expert sees the Ebola crisis -- Ezra Klein, VOX

Is the World at the Cusp of a New Dark Age? -- Joseph Camilleri, The Conversation

Did Russia Threaten To Retaliate Against The U.S. Military If They Should Bomb Assad's Forces In Syria?

MIG-29 fighters. © RIA Novosti. Vladimir Rodionov

Russia Threatens To Retaliate Against U.S. Military -- WND

Warns airspace over Syria under protection of Moscow

TEL AVIV – Russia has delivered a behind-the-scenes threat to retaliate if airstrikes carried out by the U.S. or its allies target the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Middle Eastern security officials told WND.

The security officials said Russia complained Sunday in quiet talks with United Nations representatives that the Obama administration’s current aerial campaign against Islamic State fighters in Syria is a violation of international agreements regarding control of Syrian airspace.

The officials said Russia warned it could potentially retaliate if U.S. or Arab airstrikes go beyond targeting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and instead bomb any Syrian regime targets.

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My Comment: WND is the only news group carrying this story, and my sources in Russia who can confirm and/or deny this story are asleep right now (it is after midnight in Moscow). I am sure that a denial and/or explanation will be issued soon from Moscow .... probably within 24 hours.

The RAF Does Not have The Means To Sustain An Air Campaign Against The Islamic State

Photo: Heathcliff O'Malley/The Telegraph

The RAF Is Too Run-Down For The Campaign Against Islamic State -- Con Coughlin, The Telegraph

Britain had 30 combat squadrons at the start of the 1991 war in Iraq – today it has only seven.

So here we go again: we’re counting the RAF Tornado GR4 warplanes as they take off from Cyprus to attack Islamic fighters in Iraq; and then we’re counting them safely back to base. Only this time, our main interest is focused not so much on the number of warplanes flying back from their combat missions, but whether any of them have actually managed to drop their bombs on the enemy.

Even at this early stage of Gulf War Three, as the military operation against Islamic State has somewhat ambitiously been labelled, it is pretty clear that it bears no relation to the two conflicts that preceded it.

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Update: British Combat Planes No Match for Islamic State Ground Attacks: Reports -- RIA Novosti

My Comment: I guess Con Coughlin's post got someone's attention in the MOD, the RAF did their first bombing run today .... RAF bombing of Iraq begins -- The Telegraph

One Graph Shows The Rise In U.S.-Led Airstrikes In Iraq And Syria

The Rise In U.S.-Led Airstrikes In Iraq And Syria, In One Graphic -- Washington Post

As outlined a short time ago on Checkpoint, the cost of the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State is likely closing in on $1 billion, and could rise at a cost of between $200 million and $320 million per month as it continues.

This graphic was produced by colleagues at The Washington Post with information released by U.S. Central Command and compiled in this spreadsheet I posted on Google Docs. It shows that the pace of U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have increased rapidly, especially since President Obama called for the first ones in Syria on Sept. 23. In the span of less than a week, there had been 51 there as of early Monday afternoon. Twenty-eight more have conducted in Iraq in that timeframe.

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My Comment: If this is not mission creep .... I do not know what is.

American-Led Coalition Nearly Bombed U.S. Allies In Syria

Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

Exclusive: America’s Allies Almost Bombed In Syrian Airstrikes -- Josh Rogin, Daily Beast

The White House says it wants to work with Syria’s moderate rebels. But warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition came awfully close to striking one of their HQs.

Last week, an airstrike from the American-led coalition nearly hit a command-and-control facility affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the moderate rebels the Obama administration says are America’s “boots on the ground,” according to two opposition leaders. They are asking the Obama administration to please coordinate with them in the future before America bombs its only allies in Syria.

Since U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria began on Sept. 22, there has been no coordination between the U.S. military and its alleged partners on the ground, according to FSA leaders, civilian opposition leaders, and intelligence sources who have been briefed on the U.S. and allied military operation. It’s this lack of communication that led to an airstrike that hit only 200 meters from an FSA facility in the suburbs of Idlib. One source briefed on the incident said multiple FSA fighters were killed in the attack.

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Update: U.S. Airstrikes Said to Have Nearly Hit American Allies in Syria -- The Wire

My Comment: Oooppssss ....

U.S. Airstrikes Against The Islamic State Continues

U.S. Strikes Help Iraq Kurds, Army Advances Against Islamic State -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Iraqi Kurdish forces captured a strategic border crossing and several villages from Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq on Tuesday, scoring gains as the militants were pounded by heavy U.S.-led air strikes and the Iraqi army advanced from the south.

An Iraqi Kurdish political source said Kurdish peshmerga fighters took control of the Rabia border crossing with Syria in a battle that began before dawn.

"It's the most important strategic point for crossing. Once that's taken it's going to cut the supply route and make the operation to reach Sinjar easier," the source said, referring to a mountain further south where members of the Yazidi minority sect have been trapped by Islamic State fighters.

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More News On U.S. Air Strikes Against The Islamic State

U.S.-led airstrikes hit Islamic State near Turkey -- AP
U.S.-led Airstrikes and Kurdish Forces Target Islamic State Militants -- Foreign Policy
F-22 Continuing Operations in Syria -- Defense News
Official: In Air War in Iraq and Syria, 4,100 U.S. Flights -- Naharnet
Air Force general: ISIS adjusting to strikes -- The Hill
Islamic State 'adapting to US-led air strikes' -- BBC
US Airstrikes Hit Grain Silos In Syria, Killed Civilians, Human Rights Group Says -- IBTimes
U.S. airstrikes on ISIS 'killed Syrian civilians after mistaking grain silo for jihadist base' -- Daily Mail
NBC Report: Kurds Frustrated Because US Airstrikes Are Not Hitting ISIS Hard Enough (Update: ISIS Agrees) -- PJ Media
‘We will fight until death or victory': U.S. air strikes fail to stop ISIS onslaught in Syrian border town -- National Post/The Telegraph
Military Action Not Enough to Defeat IS: Syrian Opposition Leader -- RIA Novosti
Opposition in Syria Is Skeptical of U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS -- New York Times
Analysts: Pace Of Campaign Could Strain U.S. Navy Forces -- Stars and Stripes/Virginia Pilot

Will Turkey Enter Into The War Against The Islamic State?

Turkey Prepares For Bigger Role In Fight Against Islamic State -- The Guardian

Direct Turkish military engagement and the creation of a buffer zone could serve to curb growing Kurdish self-rule aspirations

After months of hanging back amid angry accusations of collusion, Turkey is gearing up for a bigger role in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) that could include sending Turkish ground troops across the border into Syria and Iraq.

But counter-terrorism aside, Turkey’s leaders have another, less altruistic motive for getting involved: preventing independent-minded Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, who have links to Turkish Kurd separatists, from further strengthening and exploiting their position as key western allies.

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More News On Reports That Turkey Will Join the Coalition Against The Islamic State

Turkish Tanks Reinforce Border as Islamic State Shells Syrian Town -- Newsweek/Reuters
Turkey boosts troop levels on Syrian border amid Islamic State siege -- Washington Post
Turkish Troops Head to Syria Border as Options Weighed -- Bloomberg
Turkey sends tanks to border as Islamic State closes on Kurdish city -- Sydney Morning Herald
Turkey Government to Ask Parliament for Approval to Join Campaign Against Islamic State -- WSJ
Hesitant Turkey seeks mandate for military action against IS. -- VOA
Kurds say Turkey not doing enough to stop Islamic State -- USA Today

Heavy Fighting Reported Between ISIS And Kurdish Forces In Syria

Islamic State Crisis: Heavy Fighting On Iraq-Syria Border -- BBC

Heavy fighting is reported on both sides of a key border crossing between Iraq and Syria, where Kurdish forces are battling Islamic State militants.

Iraqi Kurdish troops are said to have recaptured the town of Rabia, but suffered heavy casualties.

Meanwhile, IS fighters have been trying to dislodge Syrian Kurdish forces on the other side of the border.

It comes amid continuing air strikes by a US-led coalition on IS targets both in Syria and Iraq.

Also on Tuesday, a series of deadly bomb attacks were reported in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and the holy Shia city of Karbala.

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More News On Heavy Fighting Between ISIS And Kurdish Forces In Syria

Islamic State Closes in on Kurdish Area of Syria -- AP
Airstrikes hit Islamic State group near Turkish border -- AP
U.S-led raids hit Islamic State in north, east Syria -- Reuters
Refugees Flood Turkish Border as Islamic State Steps Up Attacks on Syrian Kurds -- New York Times
UN: Islamic State Forcing Thousands to Flee Syria -- AP
Residents of Kobane, Syria, flee to Turkish border after Islamic State attacks -- Washington Post
The Battle of Kobane -- ABC News

Iraq's Kurdish Militia Launches A Major Miltiary Assault On Islamic State Positions

Kurdish Militia Launches Offensive Against IS In Northern Iraq: Reports -- RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, September 30 (RIA Novosti) - Kurdish Peshmerga troops have launched a large-scale offensive against the Islamic State (IS) jihadists in northern Iraq on Tuesday.

Kurdish forces are carrying out attacks on three principal fronts: north of the city of Mosul, seized by rebels, south of Kirkuk oil fields and on the border crossing town of Rabia between Iraq and Syria, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing senior Kurdish officers.

The source also said the Peshmerga are trying to dislodge the IS from the city of Zumar, near Iraq's largest dam Mosul.

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More News On Iraq's Kurds Launching A Military Offensive Against ISIS

Kurd troops attack ISIS on three fronts in Iraq -- AFP
ISIL under heavy assault by Kurds in Iraq -- Al Jazeera
Iraqi Kurdish forces battle IS on three fronts -- Al Bawaba
Kurdish Fighters Recapture Villages From Islamic State -- Bloomberg
Kurds Retake Key Syrian Border Town -- Rudaw
Arab Iraqis say Kurdish soldiers created difficult situation for displaced people in Kirkuk -- AP

Unrest In Hong Kong -- News Updates September 30, 2014

Hong Kong Protests: CY Leung Urges Crowds To Leave -- BBC

Hong Kong leader CY Leung has urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign "immediately", as huge crowds continue to bring parts of the territory to a standstill.

Tens of thousands of people have been blocking streets in several areas.

The protesters want Beijing to give Hong Kong a free vote for its next leader, something Beijing has rejected.

Occupy Central has called on Mr Leung to meet protesters in person on Tuesday night.

During a news conference, the pro-democracy group also said it would open "humanitarian corridors" in protest areas to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

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Unrest In Hong Kong -- News Updates September 30, 2014

Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying says Beijing won't back down -- CBC/AP
Hong Kong's Leader To Protesters: China Won't Back Down -- CNN
More than 100,000 protesters expected to flood the streets of Hong Kong as holiday begins -- National Post/Bloomberg
Hong Kong protesters stockpile supplies, fear fresh police advance -- Reuters
Hong Kong protesters ignore calls to end demonstrations. -- The Guardian
Hong Kong's leader calls for protesters to leave the streets as pro-democracy campaigners continue to bring parts of the region to a standstill -- Daily Mail
In Hong Kong, Clean and Polite, but a Protest Nonetheless -- New York Times
Hong Kong protesters remain on streets -- Al Jazeera
Hong Kong Protesters, and China, Dig in -- VOA
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong give deadline for demands -- FOX News
Hong Kong protest: Drone captures scale of protest -- BBC
Hong Kong protests: Mapping the crowds -- BBC
In Hong Kong, protesters and government officials try to sway the silent majority -- Washington Post
Why is Hong Kong protesting? -- BBC
Hong Kong’s protests could have far-reaching consequences for China -- Rowan Callick, The Australian
65 Years of Communism and One Red Hot Hong Kong -- Bloomberg News
All you need to know about the Hong Kong protests -- Euronews

World News Briefs -- September 30, 2014

Hong Kong's Leader To Protesters: China Won't Back Down -- CNN

Hong Kong (CNN) -- As dusk fell on Hong Kong Tuesday evening, the mass of protesters packing the streets grew by the minute.

CNN's Ivan Watson stood in the middle of the demonstration. "The crowd is swelling as it did last night as sunset approaches and as both sides in this dispute appear to be digging in their heels and unwilling to find a compromise," he reported.

Though China has said it won't give into the protesters' demands for a full democracy and the right to elect its own leader, protesters camped out wearing masks, protective goggles and plastic raincoats on the main road leading into the city's central business district. They were bracing for a potential re-match with police who fired tear gas at them two days ago.

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ISIL closes in on border town with Turkey. Despite US-led airstrikes, Islamic State closing in on Kurdish area of Syria.

Kurdish militia launches offensive against IS in northern Iraq: Reports.

Syria is ‘satisfied’ with US airstrikes against Islamic State positions: Reports. Syrian official: US should expand airstrikes to all militant groups.

U.S.-led air strikes pose problem for Assad's moderate foes.

Hesitant Turkey seeks mandate for military action against IS.

Syria refugees in Lebanon face rising violence: HRW.

Yemen's Houthi rebels refuse to leave Sanaa.

Netanyahu says Iran greater threat than ISIL.


Hong Kong protests: CY Leung urges crowds to leave.

Hong Kong protesters ignore calls to end demonstrations.

Afghanistan signs deal keeping U.S. troops beyond 2014.

Northern Afghans threaten to rebel if power-sharing deal fails.

China announces date for key Communist Party meeting.

Myanmar confirms controversial Rohingya plan at United Nations.

Homes raided by counter-terrorism units in Australia.


Islamist-allied militias in Libya reject UN talks.

South Sudan factions agree on federal government.

Frustrated, Liberian students want Ebola fight role.

Niger issues arrest warrant for opposition chief.

Security situation in Somalia improving despite new risks: Survey.

Egypt's Sisi delivers economic reforms but hurdles remain.

Egyptian court jails 68 Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

EXPOSED: How arms dealer Thales bankrolled South African President Zuma.


Ukraine forces repel two fresh assaults on Donetsk's airport.

EU to keep Russia sanctions in place over Ukraine.

Ukraine to hold parliamentary polls in controlled areas of self-proclaimed republics.

New case launched against Ukraine’s Ex-President Yanukovych: Chief Prosecutor.

Russia hopes for Ukraine gas deal this week. Ukrainians gear up for winter without Russian gas.

Catalonia independence referendum halted by Spain’s constitutional court.

Europe's newest front line against ISIS: a Spanish town in North Africa.

Pope summons Mideast envoys to Rome over Islamist advance.


Homeland Security Chair requests review of Secret Service. Officials: Fence jumper made it into East Room of White House.

Obama will 'make good' on immigration reform promise, aide says.

Brazil's Rousseff extends lead over Silva in election poll. Brazilian stocks, currency plummet as Presidential election looms.

Canadian fighter jets intercept Russian military aircraft in Baltics.

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro defends Clorox seizure.

Nicaragua canal will wreak havoc on forests and displace people, NGO warns.

Argentina found to be in contempt of court by US judge.


Terror threat highest since 9/11, says former intel chairman.

Schoolgirl jihadis: the female Islamists leaving home to join Isis fighters.

Obama goal of Gitmo closure stalled at Pentagon.


Record global debt risks new crisis – Geneva report.

EBay spinning off PayPal as separate company.

Global stock markets mostly turn higher.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 30, 2014

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of September 23, 2014. (Reuters/U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew)

Cost Of U.S. Campaign Against The Islamic State Likely Closing In On $1 Billion -- Washington Post

The United States has likely spent between $780 million and $930 million in its military campaign against the Islamic State militant group so far, and it will likely cost between $200 million and $320 million per month going forward if conducted with about 2,000 U.S. service members on the ground, according to a new report published Monday.

Those costs would grow to between $350 million and $570 million per month if the pace of the airstrikes increases and 5,000 U.S. troops are deployed, according to the report, released by the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. On an annual basis, lower-intensity air operations could cost $2.4 billion to $3.8 billion per year, the report said. The annual cost would jump to between $4.2 billion and $6.8 billion if the pace of airstrikes increases and is sustained.

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Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 30, 2014

Analysts: Airstrike Costs Creep Toward $1 Billion -- DoD Buzz

Nearly $1bn already spent on US military campaign against ISIS -- RT

F-22 Continuing Operations in Syria -- Defense News

Official: In Air War in Iraq and Syria, 4,100 U.S. Flights -- Naharnet

Air Force general: ISIS adjusting to strikes -- The Hill

Military Action Not Enough to Defeat IS: Syrian Opposition Leader -- RIA Novosti

New U.S. crisis response force gets ready to deploy to Middle East -- Stars and Stripes

New US Marine Corps Crisis Unit To Be Based in Kuwait -- Defense News

Russia “actively developing an unmanned sixth generation aircraft”, said former Air Force commander -- Ground Report

Troubled Russian Aircraft Carrier Kuznetsov Returns to Sea -- Moscow Times

Russia, France May Sign Transfer Act for Mistral Warship This Fall: Official -- RIA Novosti

China's warships perfect fit for Russian navy, says magazine -- Want China Times

Danish defence secrets obtained by foreign spies -- The Local

China accused of spying on Danish defence industry -- Copenhagen Post

Chinese ambassador 'spy case' would not be first, warns state-run newspaper -- The Guardian

Japan’s Largest Warship Since World War II Takes To Sea -- USNI

Exclusive: Lockheed to buy European satellite for South Korea in F-35 deal -- Reuters

Canadians will likely have to pay millions of dollars to upgrade CF-18 fighter jets — again: secret documents -- National Post

Canada to funnel money into upgrades to keep CF-18 fighter jets flying -- Globe and Mail

EXPOSED: How arms dealer Thales bankrolled Zuma -- Times Live

US resumes supply of Hellfire missiles to Israel -- Times of Israel

A look inside Iranian submarines -- Press TV

Iran 'to militarily assist' Lebanon's army -- Al Jazeera

Watchkeeper fully operational in Afghanistan, UK reveals -- Flight Global

Poland Says French-Russian Warship Deal Raises Issues for Missile Shield -- Defense News/AFP

Emotional toll taxes military drone operators, too -- AP

Boeing plans 2,000 cuts in defense work -- Stars and Stripes/Seattle Times

Secret Service chief faces grilling over how far intruder got inside White House -- Washington Times

Homeland Security Chair requests review of Secret Service -- The Hill

Obama official defends Secret Service -- Washington Post

Retired FBI Spy Hunter Confesses Guilt to Afghani Troop Supply Fraud -- RIA Novosti

Column: A Threat The F-22 Can't Eliminate -- John T. Bennett, Defense News

The Obama-Military Divide -- Seth Cropsey, Wall Street Journal

The World is on Fire: Where is the U.S. Army? -- Douglas Macgregor and Young Kim, Small Wars Journal

U.S. - Afghan Security Agreement Signed

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (2nd L) stands next to Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (L) and two deputy officials as he takes the oath during the inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 29, 2014. [Photo: Xinhua]

US And Afghanistan Sign Security Deal -- The Guardian

Pact allows 10,000 American troops to remain in the country and raises hopes for improved US-Afghan relations

Afghanistan and the US have signed a long-delayed agreement to allow international forces to stay in the country beyond 2014.

In a low-key ceremony at the presidential palace, the Afghan national security adviser and the US ambassador signed the bilateral security agreement in the presence of the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani.

Hamid Karzai, Ghani’s predecessor, refused to sign the pact for more than a year, frustrating international partners who would have had to begin withdrawing material and personnel soon without it. The deal also ensures aid will continue to come from Nato countries.

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More News On The Signing Of The U.S. - Afghan Security Agreement

U.S. signs pact to keep troops in Afghanistan past 2014 -- Reuters
Afghanistan, US Sign Long-Awaited Security Pact -- Defense News
Afghanistan signs deal keeping U.S. troops beyond 2014 -- CNN
Accord to keep US troops in Afghanistan signed in Kabul -- Stars and Stripes
New Afghan government signs US troops deal -- BBC
US and Afghanistan sign security pact -- Al Jazeera
Afghanistan, US Sign Security Pact -- VOA
Afghanistan, US sign security agreement -- FOX News/AP
U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement Signed -- WSJ
Afghan, US officials sign long-awaited pact to ensure troops stay past 2014 -- RT
US Signs Deal on Limited Military Presence in Afghanistan -- RIA Novosti
US, Afghanistan sign security agreement -- The Hill
U.S., Afghanistan sign security deal for troops to stay -- Washington Times
Afghanistan, U.S. sign long-delayed security pact -- USA Today
U.S., Afghanistan sign security pact to allow American forces to remain in country -- Washington Post
US To Keep 10,000 Troops in Afghanistan -- Defense News

REPORT: President Obama Has Skipped Nearly 60% Of His Daily Intelligence Briefings Since Becoming President

Report: Obama Has Missed Over Half His Second-Term Daily Intel Briefings -- Daily Caller

A new Government Accountability Institute (GAI) report reveals that President Barack Obama has attended only 42.1% of his daily intelligence briefings (known officially as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB) in the 2,079 days of his presidency through September 29, 2014.

The GAI report also included a breakdown of Obama’s PDB attendance record between terms; he attended 42.4% of his PDBs in his first term and 41.3% in his second.

The GAI’s alarming findings come on the heels of Obama’s 60 Minutes comments on Sunday, wherein the president laid the blame for the Islamic State’s (ISIS) rapid rise squarely at the feet of his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” said Obama.

According to Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake, members of the Defense establishment were “flabbergasted” by Obama’s attempt to shift blame.

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My Comment: These intelligence briefings are like school .... you go there to learn. And while I am sure that there are many good reasons on why many of these briefings had to be missed .... still ... missing 60% is a lot and it tells me that you are not learning.

Some American Allies In Syria Are Against The U.S. Bombing Campaign

Al Qaeda Makes A Play For The U.S. Allies The War Against ISIS Depends On -- Jacon Siegel, Daily Beast

In Syria, the al Qaeda branch is wooing America’s proxies—and some of those proxies just hate the new U.S. bombing campaign.

Al Qaeda’s leader in Syria reemerged online Sunday with his first official statement in eight months. In the wake of ongoing U.S.-led airstrikes, his threats to attack Western civilians in retaliation for American attacks in Syria were ominous but predictable. Aside from threatening the West, the message was clearly aimed at gaining support from Syrian rebel groups—the same groups U.S. officials have courted as the future ground force to fight ISIS. Essentially, America is competing with al Qaeda for the support of those rebel groups. And so far the momentum is on Qaeda’s side.

Members of the Syrian opposition who had been eyed by U.S. officials as members of a potential proxy force have already condemned the bombardment by America and its allies. Sunday’s statement from Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the head of Syrian al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, addressed the rebel groups directly saying that he was their true ally, not the U.S.

Read more ....

My Comment: No one likes "outsiders" bombing your country .... even if you despise the regime that you are fighting against. In the case of Syria .... anti-U.S. sentiment has always run deep, and it will only intensify as this bombing campaign continues.

Mystery Still Shrouds What The Pentagon's Secret Space Plane Has Been Doing For Nearly Two Years

Mystery Of the Pentagon Space Plane That Has Been Circling The Planet For TWO YEARS: Experts Are Trying To Uncover Details Of Its Classified Mission -- Daily Mail

* Experts believe the X-37B is likely carrying classified sensors and satellites into space
* The plane is designed similarly to the larger, retired NASA space shuttle that once performed such functions
* Aircraft may have captured images of North Korea and Iran

The mystery behind the mission of an space plane spotted circling the planet for nearly two years may have been unraveled by a group of devoted satellite watches and intelligence experts.

Bearing no small resemblance to a NASA space shuttle, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle's only role acknowledged by the Pentagon is for experimenting with new technologies.

Some have theorized it's an anti-satellite weapon or even a space bomber.

Read more ....

More News On The Pentagon's X-37B

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle’s mission is Pentagon’s closely guarded secret -- News.com.au
What is the Pentagon’s secret space drone doing? -- New York Post
Mystery Surrounds Pentagon's Secret Space Plane Mission -- Newsmax

Fence-Jumper Made It Far Deeper Into The White House Than Previously Known

Image: Mashable Composite, WhiteHouse.gov

White House Fence-Jumper Made It Far Deeper Into Building Than Previously Known -- Washington Post

The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.

An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds — often through the alarm boxes posted around the property — they must immediately lock the front door.

Read more ....

More News On Last Week's Security Breach At The White House

Armed Intruder at White House Got to East Room -- NYT
Fence-jumper Ran Through Main Floor of White House -- VOA
Knife-carrying intruder made it farther into White House than reported -- The Hill
Omar Gonzalez, White House Fence-Jumper, Made It Farther Inside -- NBC
White House Security Breach Worse Than Feared -- SKY News
White House Intruder Made It Much Farther Than Previously Thought -- Mashable
White House fence jumper may have gotten deep in building. Consequences? -- Peter Grier, CSM
Fence jumper got deep inside White House: What's up with Secret Service? -- Doug Mataconis, CSM
A Shattered Sense Of Security In The Secret Service -- Washington Post
The Secret Service opens door to ridicule -- Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post
Is Barack Obama's life safe in the Secret Service's hands? -- The Telegraph

Monday, September 29, 2014

Israel's Mossad Is Looking For New Recruits

Israel’s Mossad Comes In From The Cold In Search For New Recruits -- The Guardian

Israel’s infamous spy agency drops secretive cloak-and-dagger approach and goes online to seek out potential agents

It used to be that if you wanted to join one of the world’s most secretive espionage organisations you had to sneak into a foreign embassy, answer a cryptic newspaper ad or show up in a nondescript building in Tel Aviv to meet a shadowy recruiter. Now, all it takes to apply for a job at Israel’s Mossad spy agency is a click of the mouse.

The usually shadowy Mossad revamped its website last week to include a recruiting video and an online application option for those seeking employment. With versions in Hebrew, English, French, Russian, Arabic and Persian, the site looks to revolutionise the way Israel’s infamous agency seeks out potential agents after generations of backdoor, cloak-and-dagger antics.

Read more ....

More News On Israel's Mossad Looking For New Recruits

Israel's Shadowy Mossad Now Recruits Online -- AP
Mossad Looks For New Recruits Online -- The Tablet
Mossad Extending Its Reach in New Recruitment Campaign -- Washington Free Beacon
Israel's legendary Mossad steps out of the shadows in recruitment drive -- FOX News
Watch: Mossad launches new site and recruitment campaign -- Jerusalem Post

Having A Starbucks At The CIA Headquarters In Langley

Image from Sprudge

At CIA Starbucks, Even The Baristas Are Covert -- Washington Post

The new supervisor thought his idea was innocent enough. He wanted the baristas to write the names of customers on their cups to speed up lines and ease confusion, just like other Starbucks do around the world.

But these aren’t just any customers. They are regulars at the CIA Starbucks.

“They could use the alias ‘Polly-O string cheese’ for all I care,” said a food services supervisor at the Central Intelligence Agency, asking that his identity remain unpublished for security reasons. “But giving any name at all was making people — you know, the undercover agents — feel very uncomfortable. It just didn’t work for this location.”

This purveyor of skinny lattes and double cappuccinos is deep inside the agency’s forested Langley, Va., compound.

Welcome to the “Stealthy Starbucks,” as a few officers affectionately call it.

Or “Store Number 1,” as the receipts cryptically say.

Read more ....

Update: Inside the CIA's Starbucks: Coffee shop known as Store Number 1 bans names on cups and runs background checks on baristas -- Daily Mail

My Comment: A cup of freshly brewed ground coffee in the morning when I wake up .... and a small coffee after supper to keep me going for the evening .... that's my coffee habit. As to brands .... Starbucks is not my favorite .... I prefer Van Houtte (it is a Canadian thing), and some specialty brands from Kona (Hawaii) and Central America (of course). And yes .... living in Canada means that I do (once in a while drink) a Tim Horton's .... which is actually OK (for the price). Worse coffee that I ever had .... China.

America's Oil Boom Continues

US Poised To Become World’s Leading Liquid Petroleum Producer -- Financial Times

The US is overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum, in a sign of how its booming oil production has reshaped the energy sector.

US production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries.

With US production continuing to boom, its output is set to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991.

Read more ....

My Comment: And people were predicting the opposite only a few years ago.

Update: Here is an interesting read .... Why Peak-Oil Predictions Haven't Come True (Wall Street Journal).

Update #2: Russia is also experiencing an oil boom .... Russia Says Arctic Well Drilled With Exxon Strikes Oil (Bloomberg).

President Obama's ISIS War Strategy Is Hurting Him Politically

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Public Strongly Backs Airstrikes Against Islamic State; Obama Struggles Politically -- Washington Post

More than 7 in 10 Americans support airstrikes against Sunni insurgents in Iraq, up from 45 percent when the threat of the Islamic State first became apparent in June. Support for action in Iraq and Syria spans Democrats and Republicans, with 9 in 10 saying the Islamic State poses a serious threat to U.S. interests. President Obama’s approval ratings continue to lag, especially on handling international affairs and immigration. Majorities see him as too cautious on international issues, and 52 percent view his presidency as mostly a failure.

Read more ....

Previous Post: Poll: Most Americans Believe That The U.S. Will Use Combat Troops Against The Islamic State

Update: Poll: Americans back airstrikes, but oppose use of U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria -- CNN

My Comment: U.S. Congressional elections are only a few weeks away .... that (and polls) is what Washington is focused on right now.

How To Make A War Stratgey On The Fly

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington, June 8, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

For Obama, A Swift Leap From No Strategy To A Full Battle Plan For Islamic State -- Washington Post

After keeping his promise to avoid American involvement in extended wars for nearly six years, President Obama on Monday began a military engagement that he acknowledged is likely to far outlive his time in office.

The launch of airstrikes in Syria and expanded U.S. action in Iraq, at the head of a dozens-strong coalition of nations, is by far the biggest commitment of U.S. might Obama has made, far beyond 2011’s limited air action in Libya or the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Yet his decision seemed all but inevitable as Islamic State militants publicly executed U.S. hostages and it became clear that extremist advances in Iraq — whose survival is key to a host of U.S. objectives in the Middle East — could not be reversed without direct intervention in Syria. Once decided, the plan commenced with head-spinning speed.

Barely a month ago, there wasn’t even a plan.

Read more ....

My Comment: Another critical article of President Obama .... so what I say. But this is from the Washington Post!!!!! If your allies and friends are beating you up .... that is when you know that you are in trouble.

Comparing Obama To Reagan


Who Had It Easier, Reagan Or Obama? -- Thomas Friedman, New York Times

OVER the past few weeks I’ve been reading Ken Adelman’s fascinating history “Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War.” Adelman, who led Reagan’s arms control agency, was an adviser at Reagan’s 1986 Iceland summit meeting with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Using some newly declassified documents, Adelman fills out the extraordinary dialogue between the two leaders that set in motion a dramatic cut in nuclear arms.

You learn a lot about Reagan’s leadership in the book. For me, the most impressive thing was not Reagan’s attachment to his “Star Wars” strategic defense initiative, which is overrated in ending the Cold War. What is most impressive about Reagan is that he grasped that Gorbachev was a radically different kind of Soviet leader — one with whom he could make history — long before his intelligence community did. That made a big difference.

These days there is a lot of “if-only-Obama-could-lead-like-Reagan” talk by conservatives. I’ll leave it to historians to figure out years from now who was the better president. But what I’d argue is this: In several critical areas, Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now.

Read more ....

Update: Tom Friedman says Reagan had it easy compared to Obama -- Thomas Lifson, American Thinker

My Comment: Let us see .... when President Reagan came to power there was double digit unemployment, double digit interest rates, an inflation rate in double digits, the height of the Cold War, the real threat of massive nuclear war, the collapse of U.S. influence in the world, million plus peace marches in Europe, Afghanistan, Lebanon civil war, etc. .... you get the picture. But according to Thomas Friedman .... Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now.

Hmmmm .... I have my doubts.

But what specifically hit me about this post is Thomas Friedman's assertion that Islamic radicals are a far more difficult foe than what the Soviets were?!?!?!!? Being one who grew up on the Soviet side .... I can state without any hesitation that Mr. Friedman has no idea what he is talking about. But this is the whole point of Mr. Friedman's post .... tear down a great man to build up someone who is not .... and hope that no one pays any attention.

U.S. Troops Prepare To Assist In The Battle Against The Ebola Epidemic

U.S. Troops Battling Ebola Get Off to Slow Start in Africa -- WSJ

Rare Military Effort Comes as Concerns Mount Over Epidemic's Expansion

The American military effort against history's deadliest Ebola outbreak is taking shape in West Africa, but concerns are mounting that the pace isn't fast enough to check a virus that is spreading at a terrifying clip.

On Saturday, a handful of troops from the Navy's 133rd Mobile Construction Battalion led a bulldozer through thigh-high grass outside Liberia's main airport, bottles of hand sanitizer dangling from their belt loops.

They had been digging a parking lot in the East African nation of Djibouti this month when they received a call to build the first of a dozen or more tent hospitals the U.S intends to construct in this region. The soldiers started by giving the land a downward slope for water runoff—"to keep out any unwanted reptiles," said Petty Officer Second Class Justin Holsinger.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Preparing To Assist In The Battle Against The Ebola Epidemic

US Troops Take First Steps to Help Liberia Combat Ebola -- VOA
US military battles to halt spread of Ebola virus in West Africa -- FOX News
Ebola: US Military Struggles To Keep Pace With Racing Virus -- IBTimes
US troops in Liberia struggle to catch up to Ebola outbreak -- Rick Moran, American Thinker

The War Against The Islamic State Is Expanding With Turkey And Iran Preparing To Become Involved

U.S., Kurds Strike At Islamic State In Syria -- Reuters

(Reuters) - U.S. warplanes attacked Islamic State targets in Syria overnight, in raids that a group monitoring the war said killed civilians as well as jihadist fighters.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, in an area controlled by Islamic State, killing at least two civilian workers.

Strikes on a building on a road leading out of the town also killed a number of Islamic State fighters, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory which gathers information from sources in Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These are today's developments (with a brief comment after each story):

ISIS threat: Syrian town fears massacre; Obama admits underestimating rise -- CNN
My Comment: It appears that airstrikes have not stopped the Islamic State from continuing it's war throughout Syria and Iraq.

Turkish tanks face ISIL near Syria border -- Al Jazeera
My Comment: Turkey's involvement will change the dynamics of this conflict and will have a profound impact on the entire region. They are also acting because they are fearful that the islamic State may actually win.

Insight - U.S.-led strikes pressure al Qaeda's Syria group to join with Islamic State -- Reuters
Isis reconciles with al-Qaida group as Syria air strikes continue -- The Guardian
ISIS+Al-Nusra Front? Islamists reportedly join forces, new threat against West issued -- RT
My Comment: This is an alliance that only the Devil could dream of.

Iran threatens to attack ISIS ‘deep’ inside Iraq -- Al Arabiya
My Comment: Even the Iranians know that boots on the ground will be necessary to defeat the Islamic State.

Iraq Army Woos Deserters Back to War on ISIS -- New York Times
My Comment: Billions in U.S. aid and years of U.S. training and effort utterly wasted.