Friday, July 21, 2017

U.S. To Ban Americans On Travelling To North Korea

L.A. Times: State Department to ban Americans from travelling to North Korea

The State Department said Friday it will prohibit U.S. citizens from traveling to North Korea starting late next month, citing the risk of arrest and imprisonment by the authoritarian regime.

The move follows the death of an American student last month who was imprisoned for nearly 18 months in Pyongyang before he was flown home to Ohio in a coma.

The State Department long has advised Americans not to visit but the decision by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flatly bars use of U.S. passports "to travel in, through, or to North Korea," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Several hundred Americans visit North Korea each year on tour groups that specialize in the country. Some aid workers, journalists and academics also travel there.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The U.S. Will Banning Americans From Travelling To North Korea

North Korea tourism: US to ban Americans from visiting -- BBC
U.S. State Dept to ban American travel to North Korea -- Reuters
State Department: U.S. to block Americans from traveling to North Korea -- Washington Post
US to ban Americans from visiting North Korea -- DW
US to bar Americans from traveling to North Korea -- ABC news
U.S. Bars Travel to North Korea After Student Visitor's Death -- Bloomberg

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Hints That The U.S. Wants Regime Change In North Korea

CNN: CIA chief signals desire for regime change in North Korea

Washington (CNN)CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday evening offered some of the most aggressive comments yet from the Trump administration with regard to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has in the past said the US was against forcing Kim out of power or the collapse of his government, Pompeo said that the administration needed to find a way to separate Kim from his growing nuclear stockpile.

"It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today," Pompeo said in a discussion moderated by conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens at the Aspen Security Forum.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If true .... this is a major shift away from what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been saying for the past few months.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Hints That The U.S. Wants Regime Change In North Korea

The CIA director just dropped some heavy hints that the US is looking into regime change in North Korea -- Business Insider
CIA chief 'hopeful' for change in North Korea -- The Hill
CIA Director: The North Koreans Would Love To See Kim Jong Un Go -- Newsweek

CIA Director Mike Pompeo: 'Moscow Loves To ‘Stick It To America'

RT: ‘Russians find any place they can make our lives more difficult’ – CIA chief

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has downplayed Russia’s role in the Syrian operation, saying there is only “the most minimal evidence” that Russia is pursuing a serious strategy there.

US-Russian relations cannot be unambiguously characterized, the US intelligence chief said at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday. While stating that the landscape in Syria has “fundamentally changed” since Russia entered into the country, he said that its interests are not the same as America’s.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia's foreign minister responds .... Lavrov: CIA Chief's Claims of Russian US Election Meddling Goes Beyond Reason (Sputnik).

More News On CIA Director Mike Pompeo

CIA director: Moscow loves to ‘stick it to America’ -- AP
‘Russians find any place they can make our lives more difficult’ – CIA chief -- RT
WikiLeaks wants to ‘take down America any way they can,’ says CIA chief -- Washington Times
CIA Director Pompeo slams NY Times for outing covert officer -- FOX News
CIA chief promises fundamental policy shift toward Iran -- Tehran Times
CIA Director Pompeo’s views on Wikileaks have apparently evolved -- MSNBC
CIA director: 'I don't love' Wikileaks -- The Hill
CIA Director Mike Pompeo: 'Of course' Russia interfered in the 2016 election, 'and the one before that' -- Washington Examiner
RT and Sputnik are thrifty but effective propaganda tools, says CIA head -- RT

Chinese Warships Arrive In The Baltics For Drills With The Russian Navy

The Telegraph: US 'closely tracking' as Chinese navy in the Baltics for war games with Russia

Chinese warships will join Vladimir Putin’s navy in the Baltic Sea on Friday ahead of war games which are being watched closely by Western powers.

The drills, which are a sign of both the growing reach of the Chinese military and closer strategic ties between Moscow and Beijing, kick off a busy summer of drills by Russia in eastern Europe which have raised alarm in Washington.

China’s most advanced guided-missile destroyers are expected to arrive in the Russian enclave of Kalingrad on Friday before taking to the seas with a Russian flotilla on Monday for exercises that will run until July 31.

Read more ....

More News On Chinese Warships Arriving In The Baltics For Drills With The Russian Navy

China in Baltic navy drill with Russia -- BBC
China's navy expands reach: Ships in Baltic for drills with Russia -- CNN
Chinese ships heading for joint exercises with Russia in the Baltic Sea -- UPI
Chinese Naval Group To Sail The Baltic Sea At Same Time As Russian Armada -- The Drive
China sends advanced warships to the Baltic Sea for war games with Russia -- Straits Times
The Chinese Are Coming! Joint Moscow-Beijing Exercise Scares Scandinavia -- Sputnik
Chinese Navy warships arrive in Russian Baltic port for joint drills -- TASS
Chinese military vessels enter Russia’s Baltic for 1st time as joint drills kick off -- RT
Joint China-Russia naval maneuvers not aimed at anyone, expert says --
Chinese naval fleet arrives in Russia for joint drill -- Xinhuanet

World News Briefs -- July 21, 2017

DW: Palestinian protests over Jerusalem Temple Mount site turn deadly

Two Palestinians have been reported killed in protests in Jerusalem over restrictions at Haram al-Sharif, also known as Temple Mount. Israel caused outrage by installing metal detectors at the holy site.

The Palestinian protests - triggered by tensions over the placement of metal detectors at a Jerusalem holy site - turned into clashes in which two men were shot dead on Friday.

News of the deaths came from the Palestinian health ministry. The ministry also said at least 20 people were hospitalized from rubber bullet wounds and tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli police.

Security forces have prohibited Palestinian men under the age of 50 from entering Jerusalem's Old City for Friday Muslim prayers, but allowed women of all ages.

Read more ....


Al-Aqsa: Palestinians killed as Jerusalem protests rage. Palestinian killed as Israel restricts access to Jerusalem's Old City. 3 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

US official: IS putting up stiff resistance in Syria’s Raqqa.

Jihadists battle rebels for control of key Syria province.

Hezbollah, Syria army launch attack on Lebanon border.

Mosul's Christians face dilemma after Islamic State.

Yemen's cholera epidemic is worst on record: Oxfam.

UN blames Saudi-led coalition for deadly Yemen strike.

Police hit crowd with tear gas in more clashes at Jerusalem mosque.


Indian troops open fire on Kashmir protesters, killing one.

IS galvanized in Asia by Philippine city siege, report says.

No Korean military talks after North snubs South's call.

North Korean children face hunger amid worst drought since 2001.

N Korea economy grows at fastest rate in 17 years.

US to ban citizens from travel to North Korea, tour operators say.

Philippines freezes peace talks with communist rebels.

Pentagon blocks some Pakistan military payments.


Nigerian refugee camp hit by air strike was not marked on maps: military.

Mauritania referendum campaign starts under opposition boycott.

Congo's mining revenue 'missing' - Global Witness.

Kenya warns of social media crackdown ahead of polls.

Congo civil servants call strike over wages as crisis bites.

Angola adopts law limiting power of future presidents.

Namibia genocide victims battle for compensation.

Burundi relying on U.S. police to find missing robotics teenagers: official.


Several Ukrainian troops killed in worst violence for months.

Germany sends Turkey carefully calibrated warning signal.

Moldova calls on Russia to withdraw troops from breakaway region.

Strong earthquake hits Greece, Turkey. Earthquake in Turkey and Greece leaves at least two dead in Kos.

Russian parliament bans use of proxy Internet services, VPNs.

Support for Catalan independence slips as referendum nears.

Kosovo indicts four for 2004 killing of two U.N. policemen.


Two left dead as Venezuela strike erupts into violence. Venezuela crisis: Deadly clashes as millions join strike.

Trump legal team gets shake-up as investigation deepens.

Mueller expands probe to Trump business transactions.

Trump's FBI nominee passes committee, heads to full Senate.

New Hawaii campaign to help residents plan for North Korea attack.

Canadian military helping exhausted police officers dealing with B.C. fires.

'People are getting poorer': hunger and homelessness as Brazil crisis deepens.


Growing number of potential Islamist terrorists in Germany: police chief.

How many fighters does the Islamic State still have in Libya?

Qatar changes anti-terror legislation amid Gulf crisis.


FTC probing allegations of Amazon's deceptive discounting.

What drug-dealing ‘darknet’ sites have in common with eBay.

Mastercard £14bn 'overcharge' legal action fails.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 21, 2017

Reuters: U.S. general says allies worry Russian war game may be 'Trojan horse'

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. allies in eastern Europe and Ukraine are worried that Russia's planned war games in September could be a "Trojan horse" aimed at leaving behind military equipment brought into Belarus, the U.S. Army's top general in Europe said on Thursday.

Russia has sought to reassure NATO that the military exercises will respect international limits on size, but NATO and U.S. official remain wary about their scale and scope.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who heads U.S. Army forces in Europe, told Reuters in an interview that allied officials would keep a close eye on military equipment brought in to Belarus for the Zapad 2017 exercise, and whether it was removed later.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 21, 2017

Defense leaders brief Trump on Afghanistan, ISIS fight at Pentagon -- The Hill

Analyst: North Korea submarine deployment could mean SLBM test -- UPI

U.S. Navy chief asks Chinese counterpart for help on North Korea -- Reuters

South Korea considers its nuclear options -- UPI

Russia's Military Challenges US and China By Building a Missile That Makes Its Own Decisions -- Newsweek

Russia's New Military Plan Calls for Defense Against the US Across The "World Ocean" -- Newsweek

'Simply Mind-Blowing!': Russia's 5th-Gen T-50 Steals the Show at MAKS (VIDEO) -- Sputnik

Russia completes first stage of 5th-generation fighter jet’s trials -- TASS

Everything You Need to Know About Russia's New Sukhoi Su-30SM1 Fighter -- National Interest

Russia to develop artillery reconnaissance drone — source -- TASS

High-Precision Cruise Missiles to be Core of Russian Navy's Weaponry by 2025 -- Sputnik

Chinese military vessels enter Russia’s Baltic for 1st time as joint drills kick off -- RT

Chinese ships heading for joint exercises with Russia in the Baltic Sea -- UPI

The Chinese Are Coming! Joint Moscow-Beijing Exercise Scares Scandinavia -- Sputnik

Taiwan scrambles jets to monitor military planes from mainland China in air defence zone -- SCMP/AP

What Are China's Military Ambitions? -- Esquire

New anti-ship missile tipped for Japanese fighters -- UPI

Amid Brexit, Germany and UK to expand defense cooperation -- Defense News

Germany continues war of words with Turkey, reviews arms sales -- DW

U.S. general urges more German spending to ease military transit -- Reuters

BAE starts construction of first Type 26 frigate fro the British Royal Navy -- UPI

F-35B helmet's night-vision camera failed during test flight -- Marine Times

SOCOM Is Looking For Better Eyes And Ears For US Commandos -- Task & Purpose

USAF, USN Still Struggle With Aircraft Oxygen Woes -- Joseph Trevithick, The War Zone

House briefed on anti-ISIS campaign progress -- The Hill

US Awards $133Mln for Base Operations Support in Iraq - Pentagon -- Sputnik

US Senators ask for Syria policy study in defense bill -- The Hill

Senate panel approves five Trump Pentagon picks -- The Hill

‘Russians find any place they can make our lives more difficult’ – CIA chief -- RT

House to consider GI expansion bill next week -- The Hill

Families of Slain Green Berets Demand Further Justice from Jordan --

Mattis Turns to Tech Advisers for Help to Modernize Military -- Sandra Erwin, RCD

Navy's Hypervelocity Railgun Could Be A Gamechanger -- If Congress Funds It -- Loren Thompson, Forbes

Top U.S. General Voices His Fears On The Rise Of 'Killer Robots'

The Hill: Top US general warns against rogue killer robots

The second-highest-ranking general in the U.S. military on Tuesday warned lawmakers against equipping the armed forces with autonomous weapons systems that humans could lose control of and advocated for keeping the "ethical rules of war" in place.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Gen. Paul Selva responded to a question from Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) about a Defense Department directive that requires a human operator to be involved in the decision-making process when it comes to taking lives with autonomous weapons systems.

Selva warned lawmakers that the military should keep "the ethical rules of war in place lest we unleash on humanity a set of robots that we don't know how to control."

Read more ....

Update #1: Sentient killer robots could go rogue, warns top US general (International Business Times)
Update #2: Sentient killer war robots could turn on humans and must NOT be 'unleashed' on the battlefield, warns top US general (Daily Mail)

WNU Editor: General Paul Selva's testimony begins at the 35 minute mark in the above video.

Syrian Rebels Feel Abandoned By The U.S.

Thousands of FSA rebels were trained in a covert CIA programme in Turkey and Jordan.

Reuters: Syria rebels blindsided by U.S. move, say jihadists to benefit

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebels said on Thursday a U.S. decision to halt a covert CIA program of military aid would mark a big blow to the Syrian opposition and risked allowing jihadists to tighten their grip over the insurgency.

Rebels who have received aid under the CIA program said they had yet to be informed of the U.S. decision first reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday and confirmed by two U.S. officials to Reuters.

A Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said the U.S. decision risked triggering the collapse of the moderate opposition, which would benefit President Bashar al-Assad and jihadists linked to al Qaeda that have long sought to extinguish more moderate groups.

Other rebel sources said much would depend on whether U.S.-allied regional states Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey kept up their support to groups fighting under the FSA banner, which had been the focus of the CIA program.

Read more ....

Update : In Syria, the U.S. Reverses Course (Stratfor)

WNU editor: President Trump's critics are saying that this decision dooms the Syrian rebel movement .... Trump’s CIA Decision Dooms Syrian Rebels (US News and World Report), and that it is a win for Russia/Iran/and Assad of Syria .... Analysis: Trump's cutoff of aid to Syrian rebels marks victory for Assad, Russia and Iran (Oren Dorell, USA TODAY). I say the opposite .... U.S. assistance was too late and inconsistent to begin with, the Syrian rebel movement itself was (and is) deeply fragmented, and for Syria/Iran/and Russia .... they are now involved in a quagmire that will take years (if ever) to quiet down. This Washington Post analysis gives a good explanation on why this CIA program did not only fail, but probably caused more problems than good .... What the demise of the CIA’s anti-Assad program means (David Ignatius, Washington Post).

The Islamic State Is Reinventing Itself For Guerrilla Warfare

An ISIS militant carrying the regime's flag in a propaganda video. Twitter

Reuters: 'We have tougher days coming': ISIS is reinventing itself for guerrilla warfare

MOSUL (Reuters) - Islamic State militants began reinventing themselves months before U.S.-backed Iraqi forces ended their three-year reign of terror in Mosul, putting aside the dream of a modern-day caliphate and preparing the ground for a different fight.

Intelligence and local officials said that, a few months ago, they noticed a growing stream of commanders and fighters flowing out of the city to the Hamrin mountains in northeast Iraq which offer hideouts and access to four Iraqi provinces.

Some were intercepted but many evaded security forces and began setting up bases for their new operations.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: We are going to find out in the coming months/years if the Iraqi security forces are capable of taking on an insurgency with sleeper cells and small units of militants who pop out of deserts and mountains, carry out attacks and melt away. My money is on them being able to do so .... and the reason why is that their rules of engagement .... while brutal from our perspective .... will work to pacify populations who have no interest to repeat this cycle of violence again. After decades of war and conflict .... much of the Sunni population in Iraq is going to accept this new reality (albeit reluctantly) .... and this is how insurgencies end .... when a war-weary population has to make that choice of continuous warfare and chaos, or accepting a form of peace and stability. In the end .... peace and stability is always preferable.

TIME: President Obama Approved A Plan That Included Deploying Armed Federal Officers If Election-Day Interference Had Caused Widespread Disruption In The 2016 Vote

Time: Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s U.S. Election Plot

Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin was at his desk on June 7, 2016, when the calls started coming in. It was the day of the California presidential primary, and upset voters wanted the county's top prosecutor to know that they had been prevented from casting their ballots. "There were people calling our office and filing complaints that they had tried to vote and that their registration had been changed unbeknownst to them," says Hestrin. Soon there were more than 20 reports of trouble, and Hestrin, a 19-year veteran of the office and a graduate of Stanford Law School, dispatched investigators to county polling places to see what was going on.

At first what they found was reassuring. Everyone who had been blocked from voting had been offered a provisional ballot, and most had cast their votes that way. But as the investigators dug deeper, things looked less innocuous. In the days after the vote, more people started coming forward to say they'd also had problems with their voter registration on primary day. In at least half a dozen cases, Hestrin and his investigators concluded, the changes had been made by hackers who had used private information, like Social Security or driver's-license numbers, to access the central voter-registration database for the entire state of California.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What this leaked document is saying is that the U.S. federal government .... on the authority of the President .... would institute a form of "martial law" if election day interference had caused widespread disruption in the 2016 vote. Scary stuff if you ask me .... because I can only imagine the chaos and anger if the U.S. vote was suspended in such a manner.

On a side note .... the best voting system that I have come across is the Canadian election-voting system. People go door to door to register you to vote every few years. When an election is called everyone who is on the registration rolls gets a notice that they are on it .... if you are not you go to the registration office with proper ID and proof that you live in the riding where you are then put on the roll. On election day you show-up with a valid (federally recognised) photo-Id, given a paper ballot where you can mark your vote and then put in a box to be counted manually later with reps from the parties involved in the vote being present. Unfortunately .... the way it is in the U.S. .... photo-ID/proof of residence/etc. .... what is common sense to me is treated as discrimination or worse in the U.S..

More News On President Obama's Plan To Deploy Armed Federal Officers If Election-Day Interference Had Caused Widespread Disruption In The 2016 Vote

Exclusive: Read the Previously Undisclosed Plan to Counter Russian Hacking on Election Day -- Time
Obama's Secret Plan to Deploy the Military on Election Day -- FOX News
Obama's Election Day Plan For Russian Hacking Included Military Option: Report -- International Business Times
Obama White House drew up plan for armed federal officers at polling places over fears of a Russian cyber attack on election day -- Daily Mail
Obama administration considered deploying military to counter Election Day cyberattacks: Report -- Washington Times
Obama was ready to send armed guards to polling places in the event of an Election Day cyberattack -- Washington Examiner
Leaked Obama Plan To Fight Election-Day Meddling Included 'Martial Law' -- Zero Hedge
Denis McDonough defends Obama’s Russia hacking response in op-ed -- Politico

Su-35 Flight Demo At Russia's MAKS 2017 Airshow Outside Of Moscow Wows Everyone

Defense Tech: WATCH: Russia’s Su-35 Wows Crowds at MAKS and Beyond

Russia’s Su-35 fighter jet wowed crowds this week at the MAKS 2017 airshow outside Moscow, according to multiple reports on social media.

The twin-engine aircraft designed by Sukhoi carrying the NATO reporting name Flanker-E performed feats of aerial acrobatics that stunned even longtime aviation enthusiasts on social media.

“I mean, come on,” Stephen Trimble, aviation reporter and editor for Flightglobal’s Americas bureau, tweeted Thursday after seeing footage of the aircraft’s demonstration. “And people actually thought the F-35A display at Paris last month was impressive. This isn’t impressive. It’s unbelievable.”

Others described the maneuvers as “insane” and “against the laws of physics,” and said they’ll “make your head explode.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is an update from my earlier post at 2:00 AM. In a dogfight I have trouble seeing how the F-35 can even come close to matching this. For an explanation of all the manoeuvres conducted in the above video go here .... This Su-35 Flight Demo Will Make Your Head Explode (Popular Mechanics)

Hat tip to Fred for the Defense tech link.

Editor's Note

The past week has probably been the best week that this blog has ever had for traffic .... and most are from new visitors. I do not know why .... but I am truly humbled by all of this attention. Thank you.

This Is So Cool!

Tweets For Today

How A North Korean Nuclear Attack On The US Would Play Out

A man and a child watch as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base Thomson Reuters

Alex Lockie, Business Insider: Here's how a North Korean nuclear attack on the US would play out

After North Korea shocked the world on July 4 by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, the US has picked up the pace and urgency of ballistic missile defense despite major flaws in existing systems and tactics.

US plans in the event of a North Korean missile attack would center around spotting the launches early on and prepare to intercept them.

The US has had plans since 2013 to have 44 missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California by the end of 2017, and North Korea would need at least that long to perfect the missiles for its attack.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Alex Lockie is optimistic that the worst case scenario is not going to happen .... I hope he is right.

Picture Of The Day

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
President Donald J. Trump speaks to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and members of the National Security Council during a meeting at the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

WNU Editor: The above picture is from the U.S. Department's Flickr album .... Trump Meets With Defense, Security Leaders at Pentagon (US Department of Defense).

Is North Korea Preparing A Missile Test From A Submarine?


Newsweek: North Korea's Next Missile Test Could be Launched From a Submarine

North Korea may be preparing for another missile launch aimed at the United States.

Kim Jong Un’s regime conducted its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on July 4—Independence Day in the U.S.—with some experts speculating that the missile could reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii, or even the Pacific Northwest.

And now the totalitarian regime appears to be preparing for submarine-based missile launches in the future.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This could be nothing .... or it could be something .... Unusual level of North Korean submarine activity detected  (Economic Times)

More News On Reports That North Korea Is Preparing A Missile test From A Submarine?

Sinpo South Shipyard: Preparations for a New SLBM Test? -- 38 North
Satellite photos reveal North Korea preparing for another ballistic missile launch --
North Korea likely to conduct another missile test in 14 days: US intelligence -- Financial Express
N. Korea Preparing For Another Ballistic Missile Test in Two Weeks -- Defense World
US intelligence shows North Korean preparations for a possible missile test -- CNN
‘Unusual Activity’ Detected in North Korea May Indicate Submarine Missile Test -- Sputnik

Thursday, July 20, 2017

No Response From North Korea On South Korea's Offer For Talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts during the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) test launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA | Reuters

CNN: No reply yet from North Korea on offer of talks, South Korea says

(CNN)Hours before they are due to start, possible joint military talks between North Korea and South Korea remain up in the air, with Pyongyang having yet to confirm its attendance.

The talks were proposed for Friday, near the demilitarized border that divides the two nations, but with the clock ticking down, the South Korean defense ministry said they would give their North Korean counterparts until Thursday afternoon local time to respond.

"We are still waiting for North Korea's official position," Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said at a Thursday briefing. "The administrative preparation for the talks from our side is in progress and going smoothly."

The news comes amid US suspicions that North Korea could be preparing for a new missile test, and as US defense officials said a North Korean submarine had been spotted engaging in "unusual activity" in international waters.

Read more ....

Update: No Korean military talks after North snubs South's call (CNBC/Reuters)

Previous Post: South Korea Proposes Military Talks With North Korea Later This Month (July 17, 2017)

WNU Editor: Memo to South Korean President Moon Jae-in .... North Korea's silence on his proposal for talks is their response.

Is The Kremlin Late To Internet Espionage?

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a display during the MAKS 2017 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow. Credit: Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin-Sputnik

Joyce Hackel, PRI: How Putin learned to stop worrying and love internet espionage

Vladimir Putin came late to the cyber arena.

Up until a few years ago, the Russian leader seemed to all but ignore the internet and spoke out loudly against it. He called the web a "CIA project," with interests that opposed Russia.

Author Richard Lourie says that's basically because Putin is "a television guy."

"Television was the main way he got his news and the main way Russians got their news," says Lourie, who explores the Russian president's conversion to online espionage in his new book "Putin: His Downfall and Russia's Coming Crash."

Lourie notes that about 80 percent of Russians follow official TV news sources, about the same percentage that, according to some estimates, support the Russian leader.

Read more ....

WNU editor: The Kremlin's interest in the internet goes back a long time .... they are not late to the cyber arena. From conducting cyber attacks against Georgia during the Russia-Georgia war in 2008 .... Cyberattacks during the Russo-Georgian War (Wikipedia), to using the internet to discredit political opponents within Russia itself today .... the internet has been a vital tool for the Russian government to shape public opinion. The problem is for those who think the Kremlin is good at this .... the reality is that (at least in Russia) the Kremlin has been lousy at using the web to push their agenda and to discredit their opponents .... What is stirring Russia's youth to rally around Alexei Navalny? (CSM). This is why many Russians (myself included) are sceptical on Western media reports on Russian hacking and use of bots to influence the U.S. election. From our perspective .... we know how bad and inept they are .... a sentiment that is definitely not shared by many in the West who are sold on Russia-Gate. But the best part of this PRI report is the last ....

.... Still, the ease with which former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked reams of classified documents demonstrated to Putin just how dangerous the internet could be for any leader. And Lourie says, ultimately, the internet's power and reach will leave Putin and his associates vulnerable.

"They're terrified of the Russian equivalent of an Edward Snowden appearing," Lourie says. "Younger people are increasingly getting their news and their views from the internet, not from newspapers or television.

Yup .... they are afraid of a Russian Edward Snowden not from the intel that he may leaked .... but because he may expose how inept they really are.

Hat tip to Fred for this story.

Former Obama National Security Official: 'The Media Colluded With Russia'

NTK Network: Senior Obama Admin Official: The Media Colluded With Russia

“You had to have blinders and earmuffs on not to know that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian intelligence official,” Edward Price said on Wednesday.

Edward Price, a former CIA employee who served as a top spokesman and a senior director for President Obama’s National Security Council, accused the media of colluding with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential election while taking part in a panel discussion at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday.

The panel discussion titled “The Kremlin Plan to Beat the West without Firing a Shot,” dealt with Russian’s involvement in the 2016 election and was moderated by CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

During the discussion, Price took exception with how the media covered Russia’s involvement in the election citing October 7, 2016, as the most vivid example of the media’s poor coverage of Russia’s role.

Read more ....

WNU editor: The media carried the stories because they were true .... but this clearly irks former National Security official Edward Price who is trying to tell everyone to look at the origin .... not the content. I say yes .... always look at the origin on the content that is being posted. That is why this blog is always listing the sources for each link (with the exception of my World News Briefs). But if RT/Al Jazeera/China News has a blockbuster story that no one else has and that it can be verified .... tough like Mr Edward Price .... it will be carried even if you do not like the source.

Congress Wants To Know Why Former UN Ambassador Powers Demanded Intel Related To Trump And His Team

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power addresses the United Nation Security Council a during a high level meeting on Syria, at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 25, 2016. Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Washington Free Beacon: Fmr. U.N. Amb. Power Emerges As Central Figure In Obama Unmasking Investigation

Congress demands answers on why Obama officials demanded classified intel that harmed Trump.

Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power's involvement in the unmasking by former Obama administration officials of sensitive national security information is raising red flags over what insiders view was an attempt by the former administration to undermine President Donald Trump and key figures on his team, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

Power appears to be central to efforts by top Obama administration officials to identify individuals named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team, according to multiple sources.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Apparently she felt the need to have access to this intel .... Hoekstra on Samantha Power: How Much Raw Intel Does a UN Ambassador Need? (FOX News). She is slated to give testimony to the US Senate sometime in the future, and it is expected that she will be asked the question on why she demanded this information .... Obama official Samantha Power agrees to testify before House intel panel (FOX News).

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 20, 2017

CSM Editorial: Why the ground shifts under Venezuela's regime

The country’s political crisis is coming to a head as the poor embrace democratic rights and reject the Maduro regime.

A defining moment in a democratic revolution often comes when a nation’s poor, who mostly focus on daily material needs, join others in demanding basic rights and uncorrupted governance. A fruit vendor in Tunisia, for example, sparked a revolution in 2011 after taking a public stand for equality of law. In recent months, as Venezuela nears a breaking point in a political crisis, its poor have begun to join the peaceful efforts of others in seeking an end to the Maduro regime’s grab for indefinite power.

This widening support among Venezuelans to restore democracy, reflected in months of protests and a large voter turnout for an unofficial July 16 referendum by the opposition, has forced other countries to seek a resolution as the crisis slides toward chaos.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 20, 2017

Iran could make or break the US war in Afghanistan -- Rupert Stone, Middle East Eye

Afghanistan’s Opium Trade: A Free Market of Racketeers -- Franz Marty, The Diplomat

Turkey’s Year of Turmoil -- Carl Bildt, Project Syndicate

Down but Not Out: How the Islamic State Could Rebound -- Scott Stewart, Startfor

How to Win the Online War Against Islamic State -- Bloomberg editorial

A coup in the House of Saud? -- Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Netanyahu Puts Trump on Notice Over Syria -- Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor

North Korea: The Flaws of Deterrence -- Crispin Rovere, RCD

Trump's Zig-Zag China Policy Is Confusing U.S. Allies -- Dennis P. Halpin, National Interest

India searches for way out of border standoff with China -- M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times

Why Macron Dared to Confront France's Top General -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Ukraine Needs to Address Its Paramilitary Problem -- Michael Sheldon, National Interest

The U.S. Special Relationship With Britain Needs a Rest -- Noah Smith, Bloomberg

Congress Must Preserve the INF Treaty with Russia -- Thomas Graham Jr., National Interest

Should America’s Tech Giants Be Broken Up? -- Paula Dwyer, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- July 20, 2017 (Evening Edition)

Reuters: Buildup in rival Syrian rebel factions threatens spread of fighting

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jihadist insurgents in northwestern Syria took ground from rival Turkey-backed Islamist fighters as they battled for a second successive day on Thursday, rebel sources said.

Infighting has weakened the Syrian opposition since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. Their turf wars have helped Assad and his allies recover significant ground in the north and around the capital Damascus.

Tensions have been building between Idlib province's two biggest insurgent factions mainly over ideological differences between Islamist militant and more nationalist-leaning armed factions. They have also vied for dominance in the only Syrian province that is entirely under rebel control.

Read more ....


IS families, Mosul displaced live side-by-side in Iraq camp.

UN adds Syrian armed groups to sanctions blacklist.

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus: monitor.

Syria war: Trump 'ends CIA arms programme for rebels'.

Iran's president says his country will 'stand up to' US.

Kuwait closes Iran cultural mission, expels diplomats. Iran slams 'baseless' Kuwait claims over terror plot.

Saudi prince arrested on King Salman’s order after video appears to show abusive behavior. Video of beating shared on social media leads to Saudi prince arrest.

Saudi Arabia sets up state security agency.

Hamas warns Israel of al-Aqsa 'red lines' amid protest. Israel and Palestinians dig in over Jerusalem site security.

Power-sharing deal between former foes taking shape in Gaza.


UN rights chief pressures China on dissident widow's fate.

North Korea drought: Children at risk in 'worst crisis since 2001'.

U.S. Navy chief asks Chinese counterpart for help on North Korea.

Philippines' Duterte makes surprise visit to warzone.

Pakistani forces kill 13 terrorists, destroy hideouts: army.

India low caste leader elected president in boost for Modi coalition.

Get out! Chinese agents bar access to the 'free' wife of Liu Xiaobo.

PNG elections: Free speech under attack during vote, Media Council warns.


'Less fighting' in Darfur led to troops cut: UN official.

Clashes between herdsmen, farmers kill 33 in Nigeria.

US warns South Sudan regional plan is last chance for peace.

Rival Libyan leaders Haftar, Seraj to meet in Paris on July 25: Hayat.

Ugandan police arrests dozens over presidential age limit protest.

Suspects 'tortured' at Cameroon military base, says Amnesty. Amnesty: Cameroon troops tortured Boko Haram suspects.

DRC: vast business network of president who won't step down revealed.

Tanzanian leader urges Burundian exiles to go home.

Protesters to hold Morocco march in defiance of ban.

Son of Cecil the Lion is shot dead by a big game hunter two years after his father was killed.


Keep migrants off mainland, Austria tells Italy.

Few compromises at Brexit talks, minister says UK can survive without deal.

Brexit: UK and EU at odds over 'exit bill'.

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus plans after talks failure.

France’s Macron visits air force base amid military crisis.

Polish lawmakers pass controversial Supreme Court bill. Thousands protest in Poland against court reorganizations.

‘It hurts not having ambassadors,’ says US Army commander in Europe.

Court convicts more than 40 in Rome corruption trial.

Germany overhauls Turkey policy. Germany warns citizens of Turkey risks amid arrests.


Millions heed anti-Maduro shutdown in Venezuela.

Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as strike action begins.

Even with Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe finances.

US House GOP defiant on health bill amid Senate uncertainty.

Trump nominees lose patience with lengthy vetting process.

Brazil's former President Lula has assets frozen.

Police: 2 African teens reported missing crossed into Canada.

Top adviser to Puerto Rico governor resigns, 'in no way pressured'.


U.S. lawmakers want fresh sanctions on Hezbollah.

Qatari emir amends laws to bolster fight against terrorism: agency.

US praises Qatar's role in fight against 'terrorism'.

US: Iran still top state terror sponsor; global attacks down.

IS falling 'very fast': Trump at Pentagon.


Wall Street flat as home improvement retailers get Amazoned.

Microsoft profit rises on shift to cloud computing.

US and China emerge from trade talks without agreement.

AlphaBay and Hansa dark web markets shut down.

ExxonMobil fined by US for Ukraine sanctions violations.

U.S. says ExxonMobil violated Russia sanctions while Tillerson was CEO.

Ukraine War Heats Up

A soldier walks through the abandoned district of summer houses in Avdiyivka on July 11. Photo by Anastasia Vlasova (Kyiv Post)

RFE: Ukraine Says Eight Soldiers Killed Amid Intense Shelling

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said on July 20 that eight Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded in the previous 24 hours as Russia-backed separatists stepped up shelling attacks on their positions in the country's east.

The ministry said on its Facebook page that four servicemen were killed and seven were wounded on July 20, while on the previous day, four soldiers were killed and three wounded.

A ministry spokesman had initially said that nine soldiers were killed and five wounded over the past two days.

Read more ....

More News On The Ukraine War

Ukraine’s army suffers heaviest death toll in a day this year: 8 dead, 10 wounded (UPDATED) -- Kyiv Post
9 Ukrainian soldiers killed in bloodiest day of fighting in 2017 -- AP
Four Ukrainian servicemen killed, one captured, seven wounded in shelling in Donbas on Thursday -- Interfax-Ukraine
US condemns deadliest day of violence in Ukraine this year -- AP

President Trump Visits The Pentagon For A Briefing On Afghanistan And ISIS

The Hill: Defense leaders brief Trump on Afghanistan, ISIS fight at Pentagon

President Trump on Thursday met with his national security team in a more than two-hour-long Pentagon briefing that touched on Afghanistan and the fight against the Islamic State and Iraq and Syria.

Trump — who met with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford — said "we'll see," when asked prior to the meeting if he was planning on sending more troops to Afghanistan.

He then added, "We're doing very well against ISIS. ISIS is falling fast. Very fast.”

The president arrived at the Pentagon along with Vice President Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. His son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner also attended.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump Visiting The Pentagon For A Briefing On Afghanistan And ISIS

Trump, Tillerson, Mattis meet at Pentagon to discuss way ahead in ISIS, Afghan fight -- Washington Times
Trump focuses on Afghanistan during Pentagon visit -- AP
Trump on more U.S. troops in Afghanistan: 'We'll see' -- Politico
Pentagon briefs Congress on plans to up troop levels in Afghanistan -- FOX News
Trump says "we'll see" about increasing troop levels in Afghanistan -- CBS
No decision on more troops to Afghanistan as Trump meets with Pentagon leaders -- Stars and Stripes
'ISIS is falling fast': Trump says the US and its allies have Middle East terrorists on the run as Pentagon considers troop surge in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban -- Daily Mail
Trump: Islamic State ‘Falling Fast’ -- VOA
Trump at Pentagon: ISIS Is ‘Falling Fast’ -- NBC

Millions On Strike in Venezuela

Reuters: Millions heed anti-Maduro shutdown in Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) - Many Venezuelan streets were barricaded and deserted on Thursday for a strike called by foes of President Nicolas Maduro to demand elections and the scrapping of plans for a new congress they fear will consolidate dictatorship in the OPEC country.

From the Andes to the Amazon, millions appeared to be participating in the 24-hour shutdown, staying at home and closing businesses in a civil disobedience campaign the opposition hopes will end nearly two decades of socialist rule.

"We must all do our best to get rid of this tyrant," said Miguel Lopez, 17, holding a homemade shield emblazoned with "No To Dictatorship!" as he manned a roadblock on a Caracas thoroughfare that was devoid of traffic.

Read more ....

More News On The Crisis In Venezuela

Opposition strike paralyzes parts of Venezuela as fears of violence mount -- Washington post
Venezuela strike erupts into sporadic violence -- ABC News/AP
Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as strike action begins -- BBC
Venezuelans stage general strike against Maduro's leadership -- DW
Venezuela crises set to escalate as general strike begins -- The Guardian
Venezuelans begin 'final offensive' 24-hour walkout against President Nicolas Maduro -- SKY News
Venezuela will 'turn into a bloodbath' warns Organization of American States chief as anti-government protestor is burned alive -- Daily Mail
Venezuela strike deepens challenge to Maduro's rule -- Digital Journal
Venezuelan Business Leader Slams Maduro's Congress Plan -- VOA
Venezuelans cross Colombia border in search of new life -- CBS
Venezuela's military backs Maduro over vote on constitutional changes -- TRT World

President Trump Is At Odds With His National Security Advisers On Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin © Reuters / Sputnik

NBC: Trump at odds with his national security team over pro-Russia moves

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Donald Trump is scrapping “the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad.” As luck would have it, that’s precisely what Vladimir Putin’s Russian government wanted the American president to do.

This wasn’t an isolated development. As we discussed last week, Trump has also tried to weaken sanctions, isolated the United States diplomatically, fractured Western alliances, diminished the influence of the State Department (which is now led by Putin’s closest American ally), and largely ignored Russia’s attack on the U.S. elections – all of which serve Moscow’s strategic goals. As Rachel noted on Tuesday’s show, the list of actions in D.C. that Putin is certain to like keeps growing.

Read more ....

Update: By embracing Russia, Trump bumps up against top advisers (AP).

WNU Editor: President Trump was very opened on what he wanted to do when he ran for President .... and now that he is implementing his agenda .... at least that part of his agenda that is not dependent on Congress .... and we are now seeing (and this not a surprise to me at all) the blow-back from national security "anonymous" sources .... whoever they may be.

US Attorney General Session Has No Intention Of Resigning After President Trump's Criticism

The Guardian: Jeff Sessions says he'll keep job 'as long as appropriate' despite Trump's criticism

Attorney general speaks after Donald Trump’s comments that he would not have hired Sessions had he known he would recuse himself from Russia inquiry

The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said on Thursday that he would continue in his job “as long as that is appropriate”, despite Donald Trump’s barrage of criticism of him.

Trump had told the New York Times in an interview published late Wednesday about his regrets in appointing Sessions as attorney general.

At the center of Trump’s attack was Sessions, the former senator from Alabama who was forced to step aside from the investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in March after meetings he had failed to disclose with the Russian ambassador came to light.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: From my perspective .... after hearing President Trump's remarks on US Attorney General Sessions in yesterday's NYT's interview  .... it is clear to me that he wants his Attorney General to resign to resign. In turn .... it is obvious that US Attorney General Sessions has no intention of resigning.

More News On U.S. Attorney General Sessions' Remarks After President Trump's Criticism

US attorney general plans to stay on despite Trump rebuke -- AFP
Attorney general has no plans to resign despite Trump rebuke -- AP
After Trump criticism, Sessions not planning to resign -- The Hill
Sessions: No plans to resign after Trump criticism -- Politico
Attorney-General Jeff Sessions brushes off Donald Trump rebuke --
After Trump criticism, Sessions not planning to resign -- UPI
Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions 'to stay in job' -- BBC