Monday, August 31, 2015

World News Briefs -- August 31, 2015

Reuters: Migrant trains reach Vienna, EU asylum rules under strain

Trains carrying hundreds of migrants started arriving in Vienna on Monday after Austrian authorities appeared to give up trying to apply European Union rules by filtering out refugees who had already claimed asylum in Hungary.

In the latest twist in a humanitarian and political crisis that is now testing the survival of both Europe's open-border regime and its asylum rules, Hungary allowed the migrants, many of them fleeing Syria's civil war, to cram into at least four trains leaving Budapest for Austria or Germany.


U.S., allies conduct 12 air strikes against Islamic State: U.S. military.

Islamic State fights Syrian rebels and 'moves closer to central Damascus'.

Syria ceasefire breaks down in three areas, monitor says.

Isil blows up another Palmyra temple. Palmyra's Temple of Bel 'still standing'.

Iran deal could open door to Gulf businesses.

Iran sentences 2 on spy charges.

You Stink! Thousands take to the streets in Lebanon as they protest against corruption, police brutality...and piles of rotting rubbish.


Thai police seek 2 new suspects in Bangkok bombing probe. 2 new suspects sought in Bangkok bombing case.

Thai police pay themselves reward for Bangkok bombing arrest.

Afghan police investigate gas poisoning at girls' school.

Myanmar's president signs off on law seen as targeting Muslims.

Blast reported at chemical plant in northern China.

China intensifies Internet censorship ahead of military parade.

China to open high-speed rail link to North Korean border.

U.S. developing sanctions against China over cyberthefts.

Mothers, students join Japan's protests over bills to expand country's military role.

India's economic growth slows to 7%.


South Sudan rebel leader: Cease-fire, peace pact in danger. South Sudan troops break ceasefire - Riek Machar. South Sudan rebels say peace deal at risk from ceasefire breaches.

Nigeria's Boko Haram 'spreads to Lagos'.

Car bomb damages Italy's ENI joint venture in Libyan capital.

Six elite soldiers killed in eastern Congo ambush.

Clan warfare trumps diplomacy in Mali's fragile north.

Egypt's long awaited elections to be held in October.

UN: Hunger rises in Somalia as floods loom.

Ivorian opposition coalition threatens to obstruct elections.

Somalia warns of return to piracy.


Protesters, police clash over Ukraine reforms vote. Ukrainian guardsman killed in protests against vote on rebel autonomy.

Foreign ministers to discuss Ukraine by mid-Sept: Kremlin.

Ukrainian kids learn to fight at military summer camp.

Greek holiday island of Lesbos 'overwhelmed' by 13000 refugees and migrants.

Greek coastguard rescues 2,500 migrants over three days.

Austria inspects trucks for migrants, create 18-mile backup.

Czech President calls for Army to defend border against migrants.

Gold hunters blocked from site of alleged Nazi gold train. Poland backtracks on Nazi gold train find, asks for Army help.


Oregon Dem becomes 31st senator to support Iran deal.

New batch of Hillary Clinton emails to be released at 9 p.m.: State Department.

Colombia 'to reunite families in Venezuela border crisis'.

Border dispute forces Venezuelans to use ingenious ways to cross into Colombia.

Venezuela rejects US’ ‘interventionist’ offer to help solve Colombia border crisis.

Venezuela police shootings raise concerns about crime crackdown, but also draw support.

Brazil mayor who ran town via WhatsApp wanted for corruption.

Mount McKinley's Alaska name Denali is restored by Obama.


Pakistani official says Haqqani militants weakened, despite US concern.

Taliban admit covering up death of leader Mullah Omar for two years.

Cheney: Obama's Iraq withdrawal created ISIS.

Obama considering array of options for closing Guantanamo prison: White House.


Russia, Venezuela to discuss potential steps to stabilize oil prices.

Ashley Madison says site is 'still growing'.

Guinness World Records confident of future as it celebrates 60th anniversary.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- August 30, 2015

Defense Tech: Big Week for China Watchers

This week will be a big one for China watchers as the People’s Liberation Army holds a massive parade on Thursday in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender during World War II.

The parade comes the same week Taiwan released its a report warning that China will declare an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, in the South China Sea after it finishes building military facilities on the Spratly Islands, according to the aviation blog Alert 5.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- August 30, 2015

Military parade to lift curtain on China's 'game-changing' missiles, fighter fleet -- CNN

Taiwan’s report on China military says Beijing will declare ADIZ over South China Sea; building 2 aircraft carriers -- Alert 5

China test-flies new generation drone -- CCTV

PLA's nuclear subs still unable to strike US homeland: Kanwa -- Want China Times

Vietnam Pushes Modernization as China Challenge Grows -- Defense News

South China Sea tensions threaten Australia's interests; Australia seeks tighter alliance with the U.S. -- IBTimes

Heightened Military Exercises Due to Chinese Expansion -- Maritime Executive

Iran's Rouhani says military power not affected by nuclear deal: state TV -- Reuters

Amid NATO Tension, Russian Army Held 79 Drills In August -- IBTimes

Russia’s Ailing Navy: A Toothless Tiger? -- Value Walk

E. Europe Hikes Military Spending Ahead of MSPO Show -- Defense News

2 US F-22 fighter jets carry out exercises with Polish military -- FOX News/AP

Afghan Airfields Built for War Seen as Economic Hubs --

Britain orders £46m air defence radar to protect Falklands from Argentina -- The Telegraph

British Royal Navy upgrading submarine base in Scotland -- UPI

Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Leaves for Japan Starting Second Phase of 3-Carrier Crew Swap -- USNI News

US Navy orders 13 P-8As, with four for Australia -- Flight Global

Lockheed Pitches UQ-2 or RQ-X for Future Spy Missions -- Defense Tech

Abrams tank proves itself in war, faces fight for future -- Crains Detroit

US Army Searching For Missile That Fell From Apache Helicopter Over New York -- IBTimes

U.S. submarine returns from Arctic mission -- CNN

Army Creating Cyber Units With Soldiers, Civilians -- and Stripes

Obama orders pay raise for military, fed workers -- The Hill

Researchers find sunken military vessel missing for decades -- FOX News/AP

As New Book Arrives, Pentagon Warns Special Operators Against Leaks -- Government Executive

Here’s What The Military’s Top Roboticist Is Afraid Of (It’s Not Killer Robots) -- Patrick Tucker, Defense One

The Navy Hasn’t Been This Small Since the 1930s. Can We Afford a Larger Navy? -- Justin Johnson, Daily Signal

5 Battlefield Innovations That Came From The Rank-And-File Troops -- Task & Purpose

If You’re Lying About Being a Navy SEAL, This Man Will Catch You -- Washingtonian

China steals American military artwork, too -- Matthew Gault, The Week/War Is Boring

Rams cheerleader gets huge surprise from her military husband -- CBS Sports

Taiwan Report: China To Declare ADIZ In South China Sea

Focus Taiwan: China seen likely to declare ADIZ in South China Sea

Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) China's island-building spree in the South China Sea has completely changed the strategic structure in the region, and China will speed up militarization and declare a South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the area, according to an assessment by the Republic of China's Ministry of National Defense.

In a report to the Legislature on China's military strength, the defense ministry said that in September 2013, China started piling sand onto Johnson South Reef (赤瓜礁), one of the 50-plus reefs in the South China Sea.

China continued the reclamation work on six other reefs and is undertaking construction of a seaport, airport runways and other infrastructure facilities, the ministry said.

WNU Editor: For the past year the Chinese have been making repeated territorial claims on the South China Sea. It is only logical that the next step would be for them to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the same manner that they did for the East China Sea. My prediction .... they will be doing that within a year.

Blue Angels Did A Fly-Over The Pentagon This Weekend

AP: Blue Angels flew over the Pentagon, DC area

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Blue Angels flew over the Pentagon and the Washington area on Sunday as part of a team photo shoot.

U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron was in the region for Sunday's shoot, which was scheduled between approximately 6:15 and 6:45 p.m.

The Blue Angels flew the squadron's six-jet F/A-18 Hornet Delta Formation. In a statement, the team said it would be making multiple passes from east to west over Ronald Reagan International Airport. The team flew all around the city from north to south between photo runs. A seventh jet flew alongside as a photo platform.

WNU editor: I am looking forward to the pictures and video when they are released.

The Politics Of U.S. Military Aid

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice calls on Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at the PM House, Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 30, 2015.

Stepehn Tankel, War On The Rocks: Is The United States Cutting Pakistan Off? The Politics Of Military Aid

Ending U.S. reimbursements to Pakistan's military is not as simple as it sounds. The way Washington handles this delicate issue could have a big impact on Pakistan's behavior as well as on militant groups with American blood on their hands.

U.S. policymakers have learned a lot of hard lessons since the invasion of Afghanistan months after 9/11. One of them is that no realistic inducements or threats of coercion are likely to change the Pakistan military’s strategic calculus regarding support for militant groups like the Haqqani network. The most lethal arm of the Taliban insurgency and a critical ally for the Pakistan military, the Haqqanis became the bête noire for the United States in Afghanistan. Most U.S. forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan, but the group nevertheless was a major subject of discussion over the weekend in Islamabad, where U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice met with Pakistani civilian and military leaders.

WNU Editor: A sobering analysis on why the U.S. gives military aid to Pakistan .... a less than reliable ally.

Pakistan Denies U.S. And Afghan Claims That The Haqqani Network Is Using Its Territory To Launch Attacks

Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz (R) shakes hands with German Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier (L) in Islamabad on August 31. PHOTO: PID

Wall Street Journal: Pakistan Denies Haqqani Insurgents Use Its Territory as Base

Pakistan responds to comments by U.S. national security adviser.

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan on Monday denied that a key Afghan insurgent group was using it as a base, responding to statements by the U.S. national security adviser about the group’s links to Pakistan during a weekend visit to Islamabad.

Washington and Kabul believe the group, called the Haqqani network, is based in Pakistan and is behind a series of bombings in the Afghan capital in August. U.S. security officials also believe the group is responsible for many of the most deadly and complex attacks in Afghanistan over the past decade.

On Sunday, on a trip to Islamabad, Susan Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, told Pakistani civilian and military leaders that the operations of the Haqqani network in Pakistan were “absolutely unacceptable,” according to a senior U.S. official.

WNU Editor: The organization has probably declined since the death of its founder .... Haqqani terror network founder may have died a year ago (CNN) .... but I suspect that the Afghans and U.S. intelligence are probably right that what remains is still dangerous and lethal.

More News On Pakistan Denying U.S. And Afghan Claims That The Haqqani Network Is Using Pakistan To Launch Attacks

Pakistani official says Haqqani militants weakened, despite US concern -- Reuters
Pakistan insists Haqqani network almost wiped out -- AFP
Pakistan rejects US claim on Haqqani Network -- Business Standard
Haqqani Network Wiped Out, Pakistan Assures Germany -- NDTV
Haqqani network disrupted due to military ops: Pakistan -- Zee News

Top Ukraine General Declares That Town Was Destroyed Even Though it Had 'No Military Value'

Chief of General Staff Colonel General Viktor Muzhenko

Kyiv Post: Chief of General Staff sparks outrage with remark Shyrokyne has ‘no military value’

The chief of Ukraine’s Army General Staff has left many baffled after declaring that the destroyed village of Shyrokyne “has no military value” – after soldiers held positions there for months that they said were key to defending the strategic city of Mariupol.

Army chief Viktor Muzhenko made the comments in an interview with the news portal ZN.UA on Aug. 30, saying the “(separatists’) winter offensive on this village was more a PR stunt than a military operation” and while Shyrokyne was known the whole world over, the besieged town “has no military value whatsoever.”

Muzhenko’s comments ignited a flurry of angry condemnations from activists and soldiers with experience in the war-torn village, which saw Ukraine’s volunteer battalions withdrawn in late July despite major protests against the move.

WNU Editor: This remark capsulizes why there is little support for the war in Ukraine, and why Ukraine President Poroshenko's poll numbers are in the basement.

This Is The Face Of Evil

Abu Abdullah, the Isis suicide-bombing commander known as ‘the planner’, in his Baghdad prison cell. Photograph: Sam Tarling for the Guardian

The Guardian: No regrets, no remorse: Isis mastermind who sent out 15 suicide bombers

In prison interview, Baghdad commander is defiant as he details his deadly campaign that left more than 100 people dead, including children.

For almost a year Abu Abdullah was the most wanted man in Baghdad. He was known among his bosses inside Islamic State as “the planner” – the man responsible for dispatching suicide bombers to attack mosques, universities, checkpoints and market places across the Iraqi capital.

Now his home is a cramped cell in a high-security prison on the city’s fringe, where he has spent the 11 months since his capture. From there Abdullah outlined to the Guardian his role as the man who consigned more human bombs across Baghdad than, perhaps, any other throughout the decade-long insurgency.

WNU Editor: This is someone who has no remorse .... and will commit even more murder and mayhem if given the chance. His execution will not come sooner enough in my book.

China Using Falcons, Monkeys And Hunting Dogs To Clear WW2 Parade Skies Of Birds

A Chinese air force employee handles the monkeys, who can together dismantle 60 birds' nests a day.

Wall Street Journal: China Military Uses Falcons, Monkeys to Clear WW2 Parade Skies

China’s World War II Victory Day parade is approaching, and the Chinese air force is using three types of animal helpers to boost security ahead of the big day, according to an official news website run by the Chinese army.

The unusual trio: falcons, macaques and hunting dogs.

The “three treasures,” which have also been enlisted to protect some military sites on a daily basis, will join the protection team for Beijing’s Sept. 3 military parade as well as the practice sessions ahead of it, base director Wang Yuejian told the PLA news portal

Update: China is using trained monkeys to help prepare for its upcoming military parade -- South China Morning Post

WNU Editor: If it works ... why not.

Japan Defense Ministry Plans A Huge Budget Increase To Counter China

File photo of Japan's PM Abe reviewing members of JSDF during the JSDF Air Review to celebrate 60 years since the service's founding at Hyakuri air base in Omitama. Reuters

The Guardian: Japan plans largest ever defence budget to counter China's reach

Defence ministry requests £27bn amid concern over Beijing’s construction of artificial bases in the South China Sea and claims to Senkaku islands.

Japan’s defence ministry has requested its biggest ever budget to bolster its ability to protect outlying islands in response to China’s growing military reach in the region.

The ministry has asked for 5.09 trillion yen (£27bn) for the financial year starting in April 2016, amid concern over Beijing’s construction of artificial bases in the South China Sea and its claims to the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain in the East China Sea

If approved, the defence budget would be Japan’s biggest ever, after the fourth increase in as many years. The budget will be drafted into a bill in December and submitted to parliament for approval.

More News On Japan's Defense Budget

Japan Seeks Biggest-Ever Defense Budget Amid China Concerns -- AP
Japan Defense Ministry asks for record budget -- AFP
Defense budget hike sought to fortify island chain facing China -- Japan Times/Reuters
Japan's military requests budget increase for range of hardware purchases -- Big News Network
Japan Defense Ministry asks for record 5.1 trln yen -- Xinhuanet

Fighting In Ukraine Has Dropped 'Significantly' In The Past Few Days

Ukraine's voluntary militia, the Azov Battalion, holds artillery training in east Ukraine's village of Urzuf, west of the port city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea, March 19. As the Ukraine war continues to escalate and as casualties mount, the Azov Battalion remains sidelined from the conflict, the author writes, highlighting the uneasy relationship between the government in Kiev and many volunteer units. MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS

Bloomberg: Ukraine Sees ‘Significant’ Drop in Fighting During Past Few Days

Ukraine said fighting in its eastern regions eased “significantly” in the past few days as an agreement for a total cease-fire is expected to come into force Tuesday after repeated breaches to a six-month old truce.

Russian-backed rebels stopped using heavy weapons on Sunday and reduced the intensity of shelling to the lowest level since April 19, Ukrainian officials said yesterday. In the past 24 hours, rebels fired at government troops from rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers in only 19 instances.

The February truce, co-signed by Russia, hasn’t been fully implemented. Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists its army has been battling for more than a year said Wednesday that they’d seek a “total cease-fire” starting Sept. 1. Ukrainian military officials warned rebels may resume fighting as early as Tuesday and possibly target local schools, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters on Sunday, citing security service data.

WNU Editor: I would not hold out hope that this will become a permanent trend. Both sides are still bitterly divided, and there is no progress on talks.

Editor's Note

Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted later today.

Grenade Thrown At Police During Riot Outside Ukraine parliament

Daily Mail: Policeman dies and ninety are injured after grenade explodes outside Ukraine parliament leaving 'pools of blood' as riot police clash with protesters

* Grenade was reportedly launched from a crowd of demonstrators in Kiev
* Dozens of police officers and members of the national guard left injured
* Tear gas used in clash over plans to give special status to separatist areas
* More than 30 have since been arrested amid reports of 'several explosions'

A policeman has died and 90 people have been injured after a grenade was thrown from a crowd of protesters in Kiev this morning.

The blast, outside the city's parliament buildings, knocked officers off their feet and witnesses reported seeing pools of blood on the ground near some of the wounded.

About 90 police and members of the Ukrainian national guard have been injured - four severely - in clashes over a draft law to give special status to separatist regions.

WNU Editor: Ukrainian nationalists are furious. Expect more protests in the future. I feel for these parliamentarians .... they want to find a way to end the war .... but I cannot help but feel that what the parliament is trying to do is too little and too late and there are too many within the government of Ukrainian President Poroshenko itself who prefer a military solution over a diplomatic one in the current crisis.

More News On Today's Violence Outside The Ukraine Parlaiment

Guardsman killed in protests as Ukraine MPs back more autonomy for rebel regions -- Reuters
Grenade explodes during Ukraine clashes: 1 officer killed -- AP
Ukraine crisis: Deadly anti-autonomy protest outside parliament -- BBC
Fierce clashes as Ukraine MPs back more autonomy for rebels -- AFP
Violence outside Ukrainian parliament after vote -- CNN
Ukrainian guardsman killed in protests against vote on rebel autonomy -- The Guardian
Kiev protests against separatists turn violent as grenade thrown at police -- The Telegraph
Ukrainian National Guardsman Killed At Protest Outside Parliament -- Radio Free Europe
Scores Injured in Ukraine Parliament Protest Blast -- WSJ
Police Officer Is Killed in Kiev During Protests Over East Ukraine Vote -- NYT
Dozens wounded in blast, clashes in front of Ukraine parliament -- Deutsche Welle
Ukrainian guardsman dies of gunshot wounds outside parliament: minister's adviser -- Reuters
Nearly 90 police, national guard, hurt in blasts at Ukraine parliament - minister -- Reuters

The World's Central Banks Are Losing Their Power To Save The Markets From A Crash

Photo: Arrangement of various world currencies including Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen, US Dollar, Euro, British Pound, Swiss Franc are pictured in Warsaw January 26, 2011. REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL

The Guardian: Central banks can’t save the markets from a crash. They shouldn’t even try

Alarming data from China was met with a soothing hint about monetary policy. But treasuries cannot keep pumping cheap credit into a series of asset bubbles.

Like children clinging to their parents, stock market traders turned to their central banks last week as they sought protection from the frightening economic figures coming out of China. Surely, they asked, the central banks would ward off the approaching bogeymen, as they had so many times since the 2008 crash.

The US Federal Reserve came up with the goods. William Dudley, president of the bank’s New York branch, hinted that the interest rate rise many had expected next month was likely to be delayed.

A signal that borrowing costs would remain at rock bottom was all it took. After Black Monday and Wobbly Tuesday, the markets recovered to regain almost all their recent losses.

WNU Editor: We all know that a crash is going to happen one day .... the key question that remains unanswered is when.

Update: Hmmmm .... the Islamic State wants to speed up this disaster .... Islamic State Plotting ‘Second Blow’ to U.S. Financial System in Bid to ‘Purify the Earth of Corruption’ (The Blaze).

Defense Sec. Carter Warns Special Forces 'No More Leaks'

Kevin Baron, Defense One: As New Book Arrives, Pentagon Warns Special Operators Against Leaks

Defense secretary, SOCOM remind troops to keep secrets as new details of bin Laden raid and other missions emerge.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned the U.S. military’s special operators that classified leaks were not theirs to share, four days ahead of the public release of a new book that reveals secret information about recent missions in the war on terrorism.

Carter’s remarks are the latest in a string of warnings from top national security leaders cautioning troops and intelligence workers not to divulge national security secrets and classified information.

“Obviously, it’s not up to any individual who is entrusted with national security secrets to disclose them,” Carter said Friday, when he was asked about the book, “and especially when it would affect the ability to protect our people and our country, our compromised secrets.”

WNU Editor: In the past .... such warnings were always respected. But in today's world where top Generals and Defense Secretaries publish books and leaks are a regular occurrence done to justify government policy .... these warnings carry less weight.

Morale Problems In The Green Berets?

Washington Times: Green Berets have growing doubts of duties with skittish political leadership

They were the first troops to hit the ground in Afghanistan while al Qaeda’s dirty work still smoldered back in the United States.

On foot, helicopter and horseback, ArmySpecial Forces showed that if the U.S. was to win a long counterinsurgency war against Islamic extremists, the special skills of Green Berets would be fundamental.

Nearly 14 years later, these soldiers, some of the military’s smartest and best trained, are still creating lots of headlines, but not necessarily for heroics.

In recent months, the Army has disciplined, admonished and ended the careers of a number of Green Berets for actions that the soldiers themselves believe were part of combating an evil enemy. Pristine standards for fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda are not achievable, some in the community say.

WNU Editor: I suspect that what the Green Berets are going through is indicative on what many other military services are now experiencing. Morale is low .... and the brass along with their political masters have their priorities elsewhere.

Why The Current Wars In The Middle East Are Going To Escalate

Stratfor/Real Clear World: Why Middle Eastern Conflicts Will Escalate

Tehran's competitors in the region will not sit idly by without attempting to curb the expansion of Iranian influence. This will not manifest in all-out warfare between the Middle East's most significant powers; Iran is not the only country well versed in the use of proxies. But the conflicts that are already raging in the region will continue unabated and likely only worsen. These clashes will occur on multiple fault lines: Sunni versus Shiite, for example, plus ethnic conflicts among Turks, Iranians, Arabs, Kurds, and other groups. The Iranian nuclear deal in the short term thus means more conflict, not less.

WNU Editor: A sobering analysis .... and one that I cannot help but agree with.

Is Now The Time To Bring Back The Battleship?

Robert Farley, National Interest: Is It Time to Bring Back the Battleships?

What if America had a true successor to the classic battleship, designed to both deal out and absorb punishment?

Is it time to bring back the battleship?

For decades, naval architects have concentrated on building ships that, by the standards of the World Wars, are remarkably brittle. These ships can deal punishment at much greater ranges than their early 20th century counterparts, but they can’t take a hit. Is it time to reconsider this strategy, and once again build protected ships? This article examines how these trends came about, and what might change in the future.

WNU Editor: I think the obstacle to building these ships in today's environment is cost. To say that each one would cost billions of dollars is an probably an understatement.

Hugo Chavez's 35 Year Old Daughter Is Venezuela's Richest Woman

Last year, reporter María Elvira Salazar displayed what appeared to be a receipt showing millions in a bank account belonging to Gabriela Chavez withdrawn in the United States

Daily Mail: Being the ex-President's daughter pays off: Hugo Chavez's ambassador daughter is Venezuela's richest woman

* Diario las Americas claims that Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, has $4.2billion in assets held in American and Andorran banks
* Hugo Chavez famously declared 'being rich is bad' and during his lifetime railed against the wealthy for being lazy and gluttonous
* Efforts to determine Chavez's wealth have been made before, without much luck

The daughter of Hugo Chavez, the former president who once declared 'being rich is bad,' may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets.

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president's second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billion, Diario las Americas reports.

The figure would make Gabriela Chavez wealthier than media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, whom Forbes named the wealthiest Venezuelan earlier this year with $3.6billion in assets.

Update: I was stunned when I read this ... and I am no fan of Hugo Chavez and what he has done to Venezuela. But this massive and wanton corruption and thievery .... if true .... had to be done with Hugo Chavez's A-OK when he was alive.

U.S. To Impose Sanctions On China For Cyberthefts

Photo: A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. REUTERS/EDGAR SU

Washington Post: U.S. developing sanctions against China over cyberthefts

The Obama administration is developing a package of unprecedented economic sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from their government’s cybertheft of valuable U.S. trade secrets.

The U.S. government has not yet decided whether to issue these sanctions, but a final call is expected soon — perhaps even within the next two weeks, according to several administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Issuing sanctions would represent a significant expansion in the administration’s public response to the rising wave of ­cyber-economic espionage initiated by Chinese hackers, who officials say have stolen everything from nuclear power plant designs to search engine source code to confidential negotiating positions of energy companies.

Update #1: US working on cyber sanctions for China -- Sydney Morning Herald
Update #2: U.S. considering sanctions over Chinese cyber theft: Washington Post -- Reuters

WNU Editor: Too little and too late.

This Week's Massive Chinese Military Parade Is Raising Concerns Across Asia

Bloomberg: Xi's Military Parade Fans Unease in Region Already Wary of China

* President to reaffirm peace pledge while marking WWII victory
* Procession of 12,000 troops demonstrates Xi's supreme power

As Xi Jinping presides over thousands of goose-stepping troops marching down Beijing’s Changan Avenue -- or “Eternal Peace Street” -- on Thursday, the Chinese president will also proclaim his commitment to the world’s peaceful development.

It’s a message China’s neighbors may find hard to swallow as it flexes its military muscle from the East China Sea to the Indian Ocean. The parade marking the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end -- or “Victory of the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War" -- will put on display much of what has frayed nerves throughout the region.

The first-of-its-kind victory celebration will show the world the military might Xi has put at the center of his Chinese Dream for national rejuvenation. The pageant will feature 12,000 soldiers, almost 200 of China’s latest aircraft and mobile ballistic missile launchers capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the continental U.S.

WNU Editor: The Chinese are sending the wrong messages to their neighbours .... but then again .... the Chinese really do not care.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Is The U.S. Interested In The Arctic?

New York Times: U.S. Is Playing Catch-Up with Russia in Scramble for the Arctic

ABOARD COAST GUARD CUTTER ALEX HALEY, in the Chukchi Sea — With warming seas creating new opportunities at the top of the world, nations are scrambling over the Arctic — its territorial waters, transit routes and especially its natural resources — in a rivalry some already call a new Cold War.

When President Obama travels to Alaska on Monday, becoming the first president to venture above the Arctic Circle while in office, he hopes to focus attention on the effects of climate change on the Arctic. Some lawmakers in Congress, analysts, and even some government officials say the United States is lagging behind other nations, chief among them Russia, in preparing for the new environmental, economic and geopolitical realities facing the region.

“We have been for some time clamoring about our nation’s lack of capacity to sustain any meaningful presence in the Arctic,” said Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant.

WNU Editor: President Obama's visit to the Arctic this Monday will be a rarity ... I have lost count on how many times Russian President Putin has visited the Arctic, and Canadian Prime Minister Harper has made it a routine to visit the Arctic every summer since assuming his office.

Will China Try To Hide Its Submarines In The South China Sea?

McClatchy News: China may be trying to hide its submarines in the South China Sea

For months, China’s visible construction of artificial islands and military facilities in the South China Sea has alarmed U.S. officials and many of China’s neighbors.

For months, China’s visible construction of artificial islands and military facilities in the South China Sea has alarmed U.S. officials and many of China’s neighbors.

What is happening under the water is also worrisome, say several defense and security analysts.

China has a growing fleet of nuclear submarines armed with ballistic missiles. The expansion of its claim on the South China Sea may be intended to create a deep-water sanctuary – known in military parlance as a “bastion” – where its submarine fleet could avoid detection.

“The South China Sea would be a good place to hide Chinese submarines,” said Carl Thayer, a U.S.-born security specialist who has taught at the University of New South Wales and other Australian institutions. The sea floor is thousands of meters deep in places, with underwater canyons where a submarine could easily avoid detection.

WNU Editor: You are correct Jay .... this article symbolizes what passes for mainstream media analysis. The South China Sea is the last place that the Chinese are going to put their missile subs .... their subs have limitations, and if they are to be deployed, it will be in the Pacific or very close to the Chinese mainland .... and even then. Bottom line ....the Chinese submarine fleet may become a threat one day .... but I do not see that happening any-time soon.

Hat Tip to Jay for this link.

Who Should The U.S. Support .... Turkey Or The Kurds?

A Kurdish resident holds a signs during a demonstration in support of the Peshmerga troops in front of the U.S. consulate in Erbil, north of Baghdad, August 11, 2014. (Reuters)

Nahal Toosi, Politico: ISIL fight forces U.S. to choose between allies

Syrian Kurds are serving as 'boots on the ground' against the Islamic State, but Turkey opposes their involvement.

As the United States and Turkey launch airstrikes to oust the Islamic State from a stretch of northern Syria, they appear at odds over the role of a critical fighting force on the ground: the Syrian Kurds.

Turkey insists that the main Syrian Kurdish militia have no role in the new operation, a reflection of its worries about the separatist leanings of Kurds in the region. But U.S. officials aren’t willing — at least not publicly — to freeze out the Syrian Kurds, whose fighters already have driven the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, out of much of northern Syria.

WNU Editor: To me .... this choice is a no brainer. The Kurds have proven themselves more than once to be the only effective ground force that can take on the Islamic State .... and to defeat them. In the case of Turkey, they have been an ineffective ally in this conflict, and there is mounting evidence that they have in fact been helping the Islamic State in its war against Syrian President Assad. But .... there are other factors at play, and one of them is that the Kurds themselves are deeply divided. Until the Kurds are unified .... I do not see the U.S. changing its Kurdish policy.

The Pentagon Has A Long History Of Organizing Manhunts To Snare Top Enemy Leaders And Terrorists

Sean Naylor, Defense One/The Atlantic: Inside the Pentagon’s Manhunting Machine

A brief history of Joint Special Operations Command, from Panama to the war on terror

At the cutting edge of the U.S. military’s campaigns against al-Qaeda and its offshoots over the past 14 years has been an organization still unused to the spotlight. Born from the wreckage of the United States’s failed attempt to rescue its hostages in Iran in 1980, Joint Special Operations Command was created to provide a standing headquarters that could run similar operations in the future. But although JSOC (pronounced “jay-sock”) had grown significantly in its first two decades, on September 11, 2001, it remained a fringe presence on the U.S. military scene, with a narrowly circumscribed set of responsibilities that included short-term counterterrorist missions, operations to secure weapons of mass destruction, and very little else.

WNU Editor: An excellent summary/analysis on how the Pentagon successfully developed its ability to conduct manhunts to track and capture/kill specific targets.

Massive Natural Gas Field Discovered Off The Coast Of Egypt

Eni said the well could be one of the largest in the world

BBC: Italy's Eni discovers huge gas field off Egyptian coast

Italian energy group Eni says it has found one of the world's largest natural gas fields off Egypt's coast.

The company said the area was 1,450m (4,757 feet) beneath the surface and covered 100 sq km (39 sq miles).

It could hold as much as 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, or 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, Eni said.

The company says that the Zohr field "could become one of the world's largest natural-gas finds" and help meet Egypt's gas needs for decades.

WNU Editor: This discovery is huge ... and I suspect that it is also a huge surprise for everyone involved.

French Intelligence Warns Of Civil Unrest And Terror Attacks

French security security services have warned that France be targeted with a 9/11-style attack or a strike on a passenger jet with a surface-to-air missile (like the one above) after a series of terror attacks in the country

The Telegraph: French intelligence fears Islamist 'missile strike on airliner' or 9/11-style attack

Army prepares for civil unrest as Islamist threat grows amid fears of September 11-style attack or missile strike on passenger airliner.

French security forces are bracing for the eventuality of civil unrest and fear there could be a missile strike on a passenger airliner or a September 11-style attack, according to sources close to French intelligence.

“Airlines have been warned of a possible attack on a plane with an anti-tank missile,” a source told The Telegraph. “But pilots are unsure how to take evasive action.”

After Friday’s thwarted attempt to massacre passengers on an Amsterdam-Paris train and a series of terrorist attacks and attempted killings in France this year, President François Hollande warned the nation to prepare for more violence, considered inevitable as the Islamist threat grows.

Update: Intelligence services warn France is facing a 9/11-style attack or a missile strike on a passenger jet as the Islamist terror threat grows -- Daily Mail

WNU Editor: French intelligence appears to be spooked.

China Wants To Build Their Own SR-71 Spyplane

Harry J. Kazianis, National Interest: Is China Getting Ready to Develop the World's Fastest Plane?

China’s military over the last twenty years has worked at breakneck speed to develop weapons platforms that have created a certain amount of concern in capitals all over Asia and in Washington. And if reports prove correct, Beijing might be able to add one more military marvel to its list of accomplishments—the world’s fastest plane.

According to various reports, China is planning to develop a domestically crafted turbofan ramjet engine. Such an engine—at least in theory—could be the foundation for a jet faster than the legendary U.S. SR-71 spyplane, the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft, retired in the late 1990s.

WNU Editor: China still has a long way to go before being able to accomplish such an engineering feat .... but they are clearly stating their intentions right now.

Russian President Putin Shows How He 'Pumps Iron' In A Gym

Amazingly Putin managed to resist the urge to rip off his t-shirt, preferring to complete his whole workout without revealing his torso

Daily Mail: Putin launches a new arms race: Action man Vlad's latest photo stunt shows him and Russian PM Medvedev pumping iron in the gym (... but this time he keeps his shirt ON)

* Putin and his prime minister Dmitry Medvedev were busy working out in a gym in Bocharov Ruchei, Sochi
* Vladimir Putin, 62, demonstrated his muscular arms but managed to keep his shirt on for his whole workout
* The Russian President has previously been seen playing ice hockey and recently pledged to start yoga

From horse riding to hunting, Vladimir Putin has long portrayed himself as Russia's action-man president and this morning was no different with the Russian president being pictured enthusiastically working out with prime minister Dmitry Medvedev in his gym in Sochi.

Amazingly, Putin managed to resist the urge to rip off his t-shirt, preferring to complete his whole workout without revealing his famous torso.

After struggling to keep up with Putin, Medvedev joined the President for a relaxing cup of tea and breakfast at his residence in Bocharov Ruchei.

WNU Editor: I am rolling my eyes right now. Everything about this is choreographed .... but this PR does work in Russia. On a side note .... nice gym.

The Death Of MI6 Gareth Williams Just Got More Mysterious

The Sun: Clinton secrets hacked by spy in bag

EXCLUSIVE: Shocking new twist to the mystery five years on

THE MI6 spy found dead in a holdall had illegally hacked into secret data on Bill Clinton, The Sun on Sunday can reveal.

Gareth Williams, 31, dug out the guestlist for an event the former American president was going to as a favour for a pal.

The codebreaker — who had breached his security clearance — handed the list to the friend, who was also to be a guest.

MI6 bosses raged over the data breach amid growing tensions with US security services over Mr Williams’s transatlantic work.

Today, just over five years since his body was found inside a padlocked bag, his death remains one of Britain’s most mysterious unsolved cases.

WNU Editor: Why is this news being released now .... especially the Clinton link .... and 5 years after his death? Something is not right. The above video is a documentary that was done on the death of MI6 spy gareth Williams 3 years ago.

More News On The Death Of MI6 Gareth Williams

Spy found dead in a bag 'had infuriated his MI6 bosses by illegally hacking into secret US data on Bill Clinton' -- Daily Mail
MI6 spy Gareth Williams found dead in bag had 'hacked Clinton secrets' -- IBTimes
MI6 spy found in holdall 'hacked into secret data about Bill Clinton' -- Mirror
Claims that Welsh MI6 spy who was found dead in holdall 'hacked into secret data about Bill Clinton' -- Wales Online
Agents 'killed the body-in-bag spy... then got into his flat through skylight to destroy evidence': New theory could solve the mystery five years later -- Daily Mail
‘Body-in-a-bag’ MI6 spy: Was he killed by secret service after uncovering money laundering? -- RT

Are There 35,000 Russian Soldiers In Eastern Ukraine?

Business Insider/XX Committee: Ukraine just published detailed intelligence of Russian troop movements and equipment

Today the office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko released via Twitter important details about the organization and structure of Russia’s occupying army in Southeastern Ukraine. The order of battle (ORBAT) information is clearly derived from a lot of intelligence, especially SIGINT (I say this as someone who used to do ORBAT intelligence for a living: this is well done).

Since most of my readers know neither Russian or Ukrainian, I’m passing on what Kyiv has released today in English. The translation isn’t great but it works. I’m providing comments below since most normals are not well acquainted with the nuances of Russian military organization.

WNU Editor: If there were 35,000 Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine .... the OSCE, independent journalists and news organizations, including social media .... they would be seeing this and reporting on this non-stop. And while it is true that both sides in this conflict are hindering outside observers to the conflict .... Both sides in Ukraine conflict hinder observers, OSCE says (Deutsche Welle) .... hiding 35,000 Russian soldiers with their Russian accent, equipment, supply trucks and depots, and coupled with their massive numbers .... to say that I am sceptical about this Ukrainian government report is an understatement.

As I keep on telling everyone .... do not reflexively accept the news that is now coming out from the Ukraine conflict. Both sides are engaged in a massive disinformation campaign .... and they are not reliable. That is why I am now only posting links from independent news organizations and monitoring groups on this war .... and even then I am sometimes wondering if their reports are true.

Case in point .... the OSCE is following and monitoring the conflict closely, and their daily news releases are a must read if a person wants to better understand the conflict (their link is here). As to a Russian military presence .... they have reported on what they believe are a few Russian solderers guarding a depot in Doentsk, a few suspicious military convoys of supplies, and Cargo 200 trucks (Russian vehicles used to carry the dead) .... but they have certainly not seen 35,0000 Russian soldiers. But like I said before .... their observations are being restricted .... who knows what is happening deep in the woods.

As to who do I completely trust on this conflict .... I only trust what my family, friends, and associates who are still in Ukraine are saying. But even then .... when they discuss the conflict with me on the phone and/or on Skype .... I know that they are very careful on what they are saying .... all communications are being monitored in Ukraine, and saying the wrong thing can get you in serious trouble.

Hat Tip to Dave for the above Business Insider/XX Committee report.

Chinese And Israeli Weapons Are Fueling The Conflict In South Sudan

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Quartz: China’s largest weapons manufacturer is allegedly selling arms to South Sudan—again

China’s biggest arms manufacturer has been selling weapons to South Sudan’s government, whose military has been accused of a “scorched earth” campaign of razing entire villages, burning people alive, and raping children.

According to a United Nations report released this week, the state-owned China North Industries, better known as Norinco, sold the South Sudan government $20 million worth of missiles, guided missile launchers, grenade launchers, almost 10,000 automatic rifles, and 24 million rounds of ammunition last year. China promised last year to halt all arms sales to South Sudan after it was discovered to have sold $38 million of small arms and lights weapons to the government. So far, Chinese officials have not responded to the report.

Update #1: UN Report: China Sold $20 Million in Arms and Ammunition to South Sudan -- The Diplomat
Update #2: South Sudan army using Israeli weapons in civil war, UN says -- Times of Israel

WNU Editor: It is not the money that is important to these two countries .... what is important to them is (1) for the Chinese they are providing assistance to an ally, and (2) for Israel it is to provide assistance to a country that is in conflict with Sudan .... a country that is a sworn enemy of Israel.

South Sudan's Ceasefire Is Breaking Down

Reuters: South Sudan rivals trade accusations over new fighting

JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudan's rebels accused government troops on Saturday of launching attacks on their forces in the north of the country after a ceasefire that is part of a peace deal came into effect, a charge the government denied.

It was the latest exchange of accusations since President Salva Kiir signed the pact on Wednesday that aims to end 20 months of conflict in the world's newest nation.

More News On The Conflict In South Sudan

South Sudan ceasefire takes effect after eleventh-hour clashes -- AFP
South Sudan rebels: Attacks continue after cease-fire takes effect -- FOX News/AP
South Sudan rebels accuse army of violating ceasefire -- News 24/AFP
South Sudan's gov't accuses rebels of violating cease-fire -- Xinhuanet
South Sudan rebel chief orders ceasefire -- The Australian
Implementation of S. Sudan Peace Agreement Begins -- VOA
South Sudan Budgeted $850 Million to Crush Rebels, UN Says -- Bloomberg
Security Council threatens sanctions on South Sudan if peace deal not fully implemented -- Sudan Tribune
UN warns South Sudan rivals to honour ceasefire -- BBC
UN urges S. Sudan's Kiir to uphold ceasefire -- Deutsche Welle
US proposes UN arms embargo on South Sudan -- Dispatch Times
U.N. council welcomes South Sudan peace deal, threatens arms embargo -- Reuters
A country on the brink: Millions go hungry in South Sudan -- Al Jazeera
South Sudan Faces Long Road to Genuine Peace Despite Signing Agreement -- Daniel K. Kalinaki, The East African/AllAfrica
A Peace Plea for South Sudan -- New York Times editorial
South Sudan’s Peace Deal May Not Be Worth the Paper It’s Written On -- Colum Lynch and Siobhan O'Grady, Foreign Policy

Yemen War News Updates -- August 30, 2015

Reuters: Saudi-led coalition air strike kills 36 Yemeni civilians: residents

An air strike by warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition killed 36 civilians working at a bottling plant in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah on Sunday, residents said.

In another air raid on the capital Sanaa, residents said four civilians were killed when a bomb hit their house near a military base in the south of the city.

The attacks were the latest in an air campaign launched in March an alliance made up mainly of Gulf Arab states in support of the exiled government in its fight against Houthi forces allied to Iran.

Yemen War News Updates -- August 30, 2015

Saudi-Led Strike 'Kills 36 Civilians' In Yemen -- SKY News
Saudi-led airstrike kills 36 civilians at north Yemen bottling plant - reports -- RT
36 killed in Yemen air strike -- RTE
Coalition pounds Yemen rebels, sets sights on capital -- AFP
Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen build as allies push north -- AP
Car bomb explodes in rebel-held Yemen capital -- AFP
Car Bomb Explodes Near US Embassy in Yemen -- Sputnik
Gunmen Kill Head of Security in Yemen's Aden -- AP
Gunmen kill senior security officer in Yemen's Aden -- AFP
Yemen: Cluster Munition Rockets Kill, Injure Dozens -- Human Rights Watch
Yemen army recruits 4,800 southern fighters: Official -- Ahram Online/AFP
Yemeni president enlists thousands to form new brigade in south -- Al Bawaba
Yemen's army recruits almost 5,000 southern fighters: Officer -- Middle East Online
Yemeni President Says Fighting To Stop 'Iranian Expansion' -- Radio Free Europe
‘Iranian expansion’ warning from Yemen’s exiled president Hadi -- Euronews
Yemen: warning of ‘a lost generation,’ UN child rights envoy urges end to grave violations against children -- UN News Centre
Civilian needs mount in Yemen as medical supplies dwindle – UN health agency -- UN News Centre
UAE launches multi-pronged relief campaign for Yemen -- Gulf News
Yemen: Situation deteriorating in Taiz -- ICRC
Yemen: A country in chaos as fighting continues -- BBC
When was the last time Yemen had a government? -- Stephen Snyder, PRI

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice Is In Pakistan

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice calls on Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at the PM House, Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 30, 2015.

VOA: Rice Meets With Sharif in Islamabad

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is in Pakistan to meet with the prime minister and other top officials to discuss a range of topics, "particularly terrorist and militant attacks emanating from Pakistani soil," according to the U.S. State Department.

After Rice met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Sunday in Islamabad, the Pakistani leader's office said little about the content of the talks, noting that they focused on matters of bilateral interest and the future of Pakistan-U.S. relations.

WNU Editor: This visit was not disclosed in advance. This was done for security reasons .... or there is something brewing (Afghanistan, India), and the U.S. has become deeply concerned.

More News On U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice In A Surprise Visit To Pakistan

U.S. national security adviser discusses militant attacks in Pakistan talks -- Reuters
Rice to Press Pakistan on Antiterror Vigilance -- WSJ
Rice makes surprise visit to Pakistan on peace mission -- The Hindu
US National Security Adviser Susan Rice calls on PM Nawaz Sharif -- GEO TV
US NSA Susan Rice's trip to Pakistan unrelated to Indo-Pak tension: White House -- Economic Times