Monday, April 24, 2017

President Obama Makes His First Public Event Since Leaving The White House



New York Times: Obama Steps Back Into Public Life, Trying to Avoid One Word: Trump

CHICAGO — Former President Barack Obama studiously avoided any mention of President Trump or the assault on his own legacy as he returned to his adoptive home on Monday for his first public event since leaving the White House.

What might have been a moment for Mr. Obama to challenge Mr. Trump’s wiretapping accusations, or to assail the Republican agenda, instead became a college seminar on how to engage with a new generation of young people — and urge them to participate in political life.

“The single most important thing I can do,” the former president told an audience of students, is to “help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world.”

Avoiding Mr. Trump was no accident.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The press is all excited .... but his avoidance on discussing President Trump was probably a "downer" for them.

More Details Emerge On President Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal

Josh Meyer, Politico: Obama’s hidden Iran deal giveaway

By dropping charges against major arms targets, the administration infuriated Justice Department officials — and undermined its own counterproliferation task forces.

When President Barack Obama announced the “one-time gesture” of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses” last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran’s pledge to free five Americans.

Read more ....

Update #1: The Iran deal: The full picture: A snapshot of those involved in the deal, including the key players Obama didn't mention. (Josh Meyer, Politico)
Update #2: Obama hid security threat of released prisoners in Iran deal (New York Post)
Update #3: Revealed: Obama sealed Iran nuclear deal by dropping charges against arms smuggler who helped kill HUNDREDS of U.S. troops in Iraq (Daily Mail)

WNU Editor: As I have said since the Iran nuclear deal agreement was signed ..... with each passing day/week/month .... more is being learned about this deal .... and none of it is appealing. On a side note, the Iranians have their own "beefs" .... Iranian candidate says nuclear deal failed to lift sanctions (ABC News/AP).

Libya's Two Main Warring Sides Have Reached An Agreement To End Years of Fighting


The Guardian: Libya's warring sides reach diplomatic breakthrough in Rome

Compromise is brokered between presidents of house of representatives and state council after years of fighting

Rome has brokered a diplomatic breakthrough in Libya that has the potential to bring the two main warring sides together in a new political agreement after years of division, fighting and economic misery.

The scale of the breakthrough will be tested later this week, but Italy is hailing a compromise brokered between the presidents of the house of representatives, Ageela Saleh, and the state council, Abdulrahman Sewehli.

The meeting was overseen by the Italian foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, and the Italian ambassador to Libya.

Read more ....

Update: Libya's rival governments agree path to peace: Reports (Middle East Eye).

WNU Editor: I have to see it to believe it.

Maoist Rebels In Central India Kill 24 Paramilitary Soldiers



Reuters: Maoist rebels kill 24 police in central India

Maoist guerrillas ambushed a paramilitary patrol in central India on Monday, killing at least 24 policemen and wounding six in one of the deadliest attacks this year, senior officials said.

The attack was the second in as many months in remote Sukma district in the forests of Chhattisgarh state, about 400 kms (250 miles) from state capital Raipur.

Maoists seeking to overthrow the government have operated for decades across a wide swathe of central and eastern India. Security experts say the insurgency is India's biggest internal security challenge.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the attack on the patrol party of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was cowardly. "The sacrifice of the martyrs will not go in vain," he said.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Maoist Rebel Attack In Central India That Killed 24 Paramilitary Soldiers

India Maoist rebels kill 24 CRPF policemen in Chhattisgarh -- BBC
Maoist rebels kill at least 25 Indian paramilitary soldiers -- AP
Suspected Maoist rebels kill 24 troops in Chhattisgarh -- Al Jazeera
Sukma Attack: 26 CRPF Personnel Dead In Encounter With Maoists -- NDTV
25 CRPF personnel killed in Maoist encounter in Chhattisgarh, PM Modi calls attack ‘cowardly, deplorable’ -- Hindustan Times
Maoist Rebels Gun Down Dozens of Paramilitary Policemen in Central India -- Sputnik
Maoist rebels kill 24 paramilitary soldiers in central India -- TRT World
Deadliest Maoist attacks in the last decade -- Hindustan Times

Top U.S. General In Afghanistan Is Accusing Russia Of Providing Support To The Taliban

Defense Secretary James Mattis (right) and Army Gen. John Nicholson (left), commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, hold a news conference at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 24. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Daily Star/Reuters: Top US general says 'not refuting' reports Russia supplying Taliban

KABUL: The head of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan said Monday he was "not refuting" reports that Russia was providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban.

Gen. John Nicholson was speaking in Kabul during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Asked about reports that Russia was providing a range of help including weapons to the Taliban, who control large areas of Afghanistan, he replied: "Oh no I'm not refuting that."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Accuse Russia .... but provide no evidence. Am I surprised .... no. Everyone is now in CYA mode because everyone knows that this is going to be tough year .... Afghan defense chief quits over attack; U.S. warns of 'another tough year' (Reuters).

More News On The Top U.S. General In Afghanistan Accusing Russia Of Providing Support To The Taliban

US general in Afghanistan suggests Russia arming the Taliban -- Washington Post/AP
Defense chief, top general: US needs to confront Russia in Afghanistan -- The Hill
Is Russia Supplying the Taliban With Arms? -- Idrees Ali, US News and World Report/Reuters

Taliban Target CIA - Special Forces Base In Afghanistan


Reuters: Bomb attack hits U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan

Suspected Taliban insurgents on Monday attacked a U.S.-operated base in Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost, officials said, but gave few immediate details of an assault that coincided with a visit to Kabul by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The attackers had detonated a car bomb at an entrance to Camp Chapman, a secretive facility manned by U.S. forces and private military contractors, said Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

But he had little immediate information on any damage or casualties.

"I am aware of a car bomb attack at one of the gates in the U.S. base, but we are not allowed there to get more details," the spokesman said.

Read more ....

Update #1: Taliban attacks U.S. base as Mattis flies into Afghanistan -- CBS/AP
Update #2: Bomb attack hits US base in Afghanistan as Defense Sec Mattis visits Kabul, casualties reported -- RT

WNU Editor: The main casualties were the Afghan security guards .... 4 security guards killed in suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan ( FOX News). This is the same base where 7 CIA officers were killed in 2009 (link is here).

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Arrives In Afghanistan As The Country's Top Military Officials Resign



Reuters: Afghan defense chief quits over attack, as Mattis flies in

Afghanistan's defence minister and army chief of staff resigned on Monday after the deadliest ever Taliban attack on a military base, threatening to overshadow a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as Washington looks to craft a new strategy for the country.

Mattis was expected to meet Afghan officials and U.S. commanders who are pushing for more troops. But his arrival in Kabul came amid the fall-out from Friday's Taliban assault on a base in the north of the country in which more than 140 Afghan soldiers were killed.

"Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim stepped down with immediate effect," the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced in a post on its Twitter account.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Arriving In Afghanistan As The Country's Top Military Officials Resign

U.S. defense chief arrives in Kabul as his Afghan counterpart resigns in disgrace -- Washington Post
2 Top Military Officials in Afghanistan Resign After Taliban Attack -- New York Times
Afghan Defense Minister and Army Chief Resign Over Deadly Attack -- VOA
Afghan Defense Chiefs Resign Over Bloody Taliban Attack That Killed More Than 100 Soldiers -- TIME
Afghan defence chiefs resign over deadly Taliban attack -- BBC
Taliban Massacre of Soldiers Spurs Afghan Minister to Resign -- Bloomberg
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrives in Afghanistan -- USA Today
Pentagon chief arrives in Afghanistan -- The Hill
Mattis in Afghanistan amid calls for troop increase -- Military Times
US Defense Sec'y Mattis in Afghanistan to discuss war needs -- FOX News
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Makes Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan -- NBC
US Defense Secretary Mattis visits Afghanistan -- CNN

World News Briefs -- April 24, 2017

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the South China Sea while conducting flight operations on April 9, 2017. Z.A. Landers/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

Reuters: U.S. carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a telephone call about North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Japan conducted exercises with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.

Trump sent the carrier group for exercises in waters off the Korean peninsula as a warning, amid growing fears North Korea could conduct another nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Angered by the approach of the USS Carl Vinson carrier group, a defiant North Korea said on Monday the deployment was "an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade".

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syrian government forces advance against rebels north of Hama.

Hundreds of Iraqis flee heavy fighting in Mosul.

Western Iraq ambush on military convoy kills 10.

Saudi Arabia restores perks to state employees, boosting markets.
Egypt's Sisi visits Saudi Arabia as tensions ease.

Yemen missile seriously wounds AFP photographer.

Israel PM issues Holocaust day warning. Siren wails as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Anzac Day: Turkey boosts security for Gallipoli ceremony after warnings about potential attack.

ASIA

Afghan army chief, defense minister resign following attack. Furious Afghans call for resignations after Taliban base attack.

Torture use by Afghan officials on the rise: UN.

Pentagon chief Mattis visits Afghanistan after Taliban attack.

College confirms N. Korea detains US citizen amid tension.

South Korea, allies brace for North Korea follow-up act.

Xi urges restraint on North Korea in phone call with Trump.

China, Philippines spar over military visit to island.

Abu Sayyaf beheads kidnapped Philippine soldier.

Philippine lawyer accuses Duterte of 'mass murder' at ICC.


AFRICA

Libya's warring sides reach diplomatic breakthrough in Rome.

Somalia drought fuelling piracy - US Africa command head. Famine fuels resurgence of Somali piracy: US general.

Mali extends state of emergency as jihadist attacks persist.

Hope as C. Africa holds disarmanent talks.

Suicide bombers kill four in Northeast Nigeria: vigilantes.

Zambian opposition denies arson, says government plotting against it.

3 African countries chosen to test 1st malaria vaccine.

EUROPE

French election: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to fight for presidency.

Gloves off in French election as Le Pen aide slams Macron.

Tight, tense French presidential vote echoes around world.

EU's Mogherini, on Moscow visit, says bloc's Russia sanctions to stay.

Ukraine roadside bomb kills OSCE worker. American member of watchdog OSCE killed in Ukraine.

Greece: Death toll from migrant boat sinking reaches 16, with 9 bodies recovered in Greece, 7 in Turkey.

Italy prosecutor claims NGOs working with human smugglers.

Sweden arrests second suspect over deadly truck attack.

AMERICAS

Congress aims to avoid shutdown, while Trump presses for 100-day wins.

Trump at 100 days: 'It's a different kind of presidency'.

As budget deadline looms, Trump pushes border wall funding.

Venezuela protest death toll rises as injured woman dies.

Colombia's ELN loses kidnap victim in jungle escape.

At least 35 killed in drug violence across Mexico: officials.

Haiti leader expected to plead guilty in US drug case.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Al-Qaida leader tells fighters to prepare for long Syria war.

US counting on French anti-terror ops in Africa: Mattis.

ISIS moves its capital in Syria.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

China clamps down on excess steel as Japan decries Trump 'protectionism'.

Jimmy Choo seeks well-heeled buyer.

Russia and Saudi Arabia could face economic and political consequences if the oil-production deal isn't extended.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- April 24, 2017


Dave Majumdar, National Interest: Should the World Fear North Korea's Air Force?

The Korean People's Army Air Force is perhaps the least threatening branch of Pyongyang’s military forces.

However, while technologically backwards and often lacking the level of proficiency of Western air forces (with pilots often receiving fewer than 20 annual flight hours), the KPAAF does have a few strong points. As with many North Korean facilities, most KPAAF air bases are hardened to withstand air attacks and the country has a large number of aircraft available.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- April 24, 2017

North Korea threatens to sink US aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might -- The Independent

North Korea 'ready to strike' US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson as it heads for Korean peninsula -- ABC News Online

Pyongyang’s Third Failed Missile Test: What Now? -- Liang Tuang Nah, The Diplomat

South Korea develops missile with flight path-changing capability -- Defense News

China trying to hack South Korea missile defence efforts, researchers claim -- Ars Technica

This is What China's 1st Domestically-Built Aircraft Carrier Means for its Navy -- Sputnik

Congressional Request For Proposal Solicits Expert Report on Chinese Weapons -- Scout Warrior

Global defense spending increases -- DW

Russia Is Deploying Special Anti-Aircraft Missiles to the Arctic -- National Interest

Russia pushes for Iranian membership in NATO counterweight group -- Washington Examiner

WATCH: New F-35 Joint Strike Fighters Touch Down in Israel -- Sputnik

German Intelligence Spying on Interpol Since 2000 -- Sputnik

Belarus plans to deepen dialogue with NATO -- TASS

Russia hacked Danish defense for two years, minister tells newspaper -- Reuters

NATO builds up military forces in Baltic region -- Euronews

Italy's Gentiloni Vows to Meet Trump NATO Spending Demand Slowly -- Bloomberg

U.S., Philippines scale back next month's military drills, no more 'war games' -- Reuters

US counting on French anti-terror ops in Africa: Mattis -- AFP

US Defense Sec'y Mattis in Afghanistan to discuss war needs -- AP

Army looking for experienced soldiers who want to help train foreign forces -- Army Times

The Air Force Is Preparing To Test A Laser Cannon On Its ‘Ultimate Battle Plane’ -- Task & Purpose

Navy Scientists Transform World War II-era Test Tunnel to Develop Laser Weapons -- Sea Power

Navy Increases Restrictions on T-45 Flights After New Cockpit Episode -- Military.com

The Army is adding the 'Dronebuster' to its set of anti-drone tools -- Army Times

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti -- AFP

Trump awards Purple Heart to Army solider injured in Afghanistan -- FOX News

CIA liaison is first casualty of conflict between intelligence agency and Trump -- The Guardian

Palantir No Longer Works For The NSA, CEO Slams Trump In Leaked Video -- SFist

Army Hoping to Entice Doctors to the Battlefield -- Military.com/The Fayetteville Observer

Posting private nude photos is now a crime in the Navy and Marine Corps -- Navy Times

President Trump Talks To Chinese President Xi And Japanese PM Abe On North Korea



Yonhap News Agency: Trump discusses North Korea in phone talks with Xi, Abe

TOKYO/BEIJING, April 24 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump had separate phone conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Abe on Monday and pledged closer cooperation with them amid the growing possibility of North Korea's nuclear or missile test.

"In today's telephone conversation, (we) completely shared the opinion that (the U.S. and Japan) will continue to demand that North Korea refrain from provocative behaviors," Abe told reporters after his talks with Trump.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump's Phone Calls With Chinese President Xi And Japanese PM Abe On North Korea

Trump discusses North Korea tensions with Asian leaders -- FOX News
Trump Again Calls Leaders of China and Japan to Discuss North Korea -- VOA
Donald Trump holds telephone talks with Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe on North Korea situation -- International Business Times
Abe, Trump reconfirm commitment on North Korea -- Japan Times
Trump and Abe speak about North Korea tensions as Japanese warships join US carrier strike group for drills -- South China Morning post
North Korea: In phone call, Xi warns Trump not to go beyond UN resolutions -- Sydney Morning Post
Xi Urges Restraint on North Korea in Phone Call With Trump -- Bloomberg
Xi urges restraint on North Korea in phone call with Trump -- AP
Chinese leader urges restraint over North Korea in call with Trump -- The Guardian

A Look At The 8 Most Elite Special Forces In The World

YouTube

Business Insider: The 8 most elite special forces in the world

Elite special forces are some of the best-trained and most formidable units a country can boast.

They go where other troops fear to tread, scoping out potential threats, taking out strategic targets, and conducting daring rescue missions.

These are the best of the best.

Though it's extremely difficult to rank these forces relative to one another, some units that rise above the rest with their track records and the fear they instill in their adversaries.

Read more ....

The Suwalki Gap Will Be A Major Battleground Should NATO And Russia Go To War

The vulnerable Suwalki Gap, an isolated NATO land bridge between Russia and Moscow aligned BelarusSource:Supplied

News.com.au: The Suwalki Gap — the potential European flashpoint Vladimir Putin is keeping a close eye on

IT’S one of the most peaceful corners of Europe. Quiet country roads lead through immaculate towns, skim past lakes and wind their way around virginal forests dotted with oak and spruce.

But defence watchers say this thin strip of land, fully within the European Union, could be a flashpoint of future military action between Russia and the US.

A strategic affairs analyst has even raised the prospect that an emboldened Russia, intent on pushing the Washington-led NATO military alliance away from its territory, could drop a nuclear bomb on the isolated sliver of land.

Known as the ‘Suwalki Gap’, this 80km patch of relatively flat, difficult to defend countryside, straddles Poland and Lithuania.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If Russian and NATO armies are fighting in this part of Europe .... the use of strategic nuclear weapons will not be far behind thereby making The Suwalki Gap irrelevant.

The U.S. Navy's New Railgun Is Ready

Artist's rendering of a railgun mounted on USNS Millinocket. Image source: U.S. Navy.

Motley Fool: Navy's New Mach 6 EM Railgun Almost Ready for Prime Time

The latest railgun test suggests the Navy could be moving closer to deployment.

For more than three years now, I've been tracking the U.S. Navy's progress toward building a working electromagnetic railgun prototype -- a Mach 6 cannon reputedly capable of striking targets 110 miles away with pinpoint accuracy.

Each railgun projectile would cost about $25,000 to produce -- and if you're keeping track, then yes, success on the railgun project would yield a weapon boasting nearly twice the 67-mile range of Boeing's (NYSE:BA) Harpoon II missile but costing just 1/48th the Boeing missile's $1.2 million cost.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Its field tests should begin later this year.

By Not Clarifying The Carl Vinson's Deployment Change A 'Global And Media Crisis' Was Sparked

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson leads the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy

David B. Larter, Navy Times: Carried away: The inside story of how the Carl Vinson's canceled port visit sparked a global crisis

In early April, officials at U.S. Pacific Command were developing plans to respond to a sharp rise in tensions with North Korea. Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered PACOM Commander Adm. Harry Harris to come up with “robust and sustainable” options for North Korea if President Trump ordered a strike on the rogue regime, according to four defense officials who spoke on background.

Harris was traveling in Washington away from his Hawaii base of operations, something that he dislikes because, in his view, something always seems to happen when he’s not in his office. At one point that week, top PACOM officials called Harris to recommend that Vinson cancel its upcoming trip to Australia and make its way back to the waters near North Korea where the carrier had just been in March, thus serving as one of the responses to Mattis’s directive that they explore military options for the Trump administration.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The media got carried  away .... and the Pentagon did not treat it with the urgency that they should have to clarify the story.

Is North Korea Profiting From the Syrian War?

North Korea and Syria’s relationship stretches back to the Cold War | Photo: www.greywoolknickers.net

Defense One/Quartz: Syria’s War Has Been a ‘Goldmine’ for North Korea—and Don’t Expect It to Change Anytime Soon

Weapons from North Korea have ended up in Syria, ultimately enriching the Kim regime and prolonging Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power.

The civil war in Syria, which began in 2011, has been a tragedy for millions of people, including refugees fleeing the violence and residents caught in the crossfire. But for North Korea’s ruling elite, the conflict has in many ways been a good thing.

Since the 1960s, North Korea has sold arms and equipment to Syria, and provided other sorts of military-to-military assistance, such as training and technical assistance. Of particular importance, Pyongyang has helped develop Syria’s chemical weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Syrian - North Korean connection goes back decades (see above photo).

This Is How The Pentagon Plans To Beat Russian And Chinese Air Defenses In A War



Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: How the Pentagon Plans to Beat Russia and China's Air Defenses in a War

U.S. warplanes flying over Syria today find themselves operating within the range of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles. While the U.S. military is unlikely to intentionally attack Russian forces in Syria, the situation highlights the importance of suppressing enemy air defenses—one major tactic U.S. flyers have long relied upon is radar jamming, or saturating enemy radars with “noise” and false signals so that they can’t track and fire upon friendly airplanes. The U.S. Navy has relied on the ALQ-99 jamming system for nearly half a century, even as opposing radars grew in ability. However, by the beginning of the next decade it will begin fielding the superior Next Generation Jammer, boasting significant electronic-attack and signal-intelligence capabilities.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Impressive .... if it works as advertised.

Tweet For Today

Is There A Russian Mole Inside The NSA/CIA?

Kevin Poulsen, Daily Beast: Is There a Russian Mole Inside the NSA? The CIA? Both?

The latest leak by the Shadow Brokers hackers exposed classified information that could only have come from within the NSA, setting the stage for a Cold War ritual—the mole hunt.

A message from Vladimir Putin can take many forms.

It can be as heavy-handed as a pair of Russian bombers buzzing the Alaska coast, or as lethal as the public assassination of a defector on the streets of Kiev. Now Putin may be sending a message to the American government through a more subtle channel: an escalating series of U.S. intelligence leaks that last week exposed a National Security Agency operation in the Middle East and the identity of an agency official who participated.

The leaks by self-described hackers calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers” began in the final months of the Obama administration and increased in frequency and impact after the U.S. bombing of a Syrian airfield this month—a move that angered Russia. The group has not been tied to the Kremlin with anything close to the forensic certitude of last year’s election-related hacks, but security experts say the Shadow Brokers’ attacks fit the pattern established by Russia’s GRU during its election hacking. In that operation, according to U.S. intelligence findings, Russia created fictitious Internet personas to launder some of their stolen emails, including the fake whistleblowing site called DCLeaks and a notional Romanian hacker named “Guccifer 2.0.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russian moles are not the only moles that the U.S. intelligence community is worried about .... Why the CIA Is Increasingly Worried About China's Moles (Jeff Stein, Newsweek)

Picture Of The Day

Directing Aircraft
Sailors conduct flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the East Sea, March 20, 2017. The Carl Vinson Strike Group is deployed to the Western Pacific as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command-and-control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano

Wikileaks Publishes More Secret CIA Tools

The British 'Extending' and American 'Weeping Angel' describe plans for turning certain Samsung TV models into recording devices

The Independent: WikiLeaks releases top-secret CIA documents as US considers charges against Julian Assange

A 31-page manual on how to use the CIA's 'Weeping Angel' surveillance software is now available online

WikiLeaks has leaked what it calls a 31-page user manual for a device allegedly used by the CIA to spy on people from their televisions and smartphones.

The device, code named “Weeping Angel”, hit the headlines last month when WikiLeaks claimed the CIA had built the software to exploit vulnerabilities in Samsung products which would allow them to turn any phone or smart TV into a listening device. The group described the software as something out of George Orwell’s 1984.

The newly released CIA documents appear to corroborate the earlier claims about the capabilities of the system.

Read more ....

More News On Wikileaks Publishing Additional CIA Surveillance Tools

WikiLeaks releases CIA manual on how to turn a Samsung TV into a secret microphone as the US prepares to charge Assange -- Daily Mail
WikiLeaks publishes more secret CIA tools after the US threatens criminal charges -- Business Insider
WikiLeaks Exposes 'Weeping Angel' CIA Tool That Spies On Samsung Smart Televisions -- Hot Hardware
WikiLeaks releases more top-secret CIA docs as U.S. considers charges -- CBS News
Why the Wikileaks CIA dump was the most damaging one yet -- Eric O'Neill, Tech Crunch

Sunday, April 23, 2017

AP Interviews President Trump

US President Donald Trump is interviewed by Reuters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, February 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters

WNU Editor: An interesting interview between President Trump and AP reporter Julie pace. From AP .... A transcript of an Oval Office interview Friday with President Donald Trump by AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace. Where the audio recording of the interview is unclear, ellipses or a notation that the recording was unintelligible are used. The link is here .... Transcript of AP interview with Trump (AP)

Global Military Spending Increases Again In 2016



24/7 Wall Street: Countries With the Fastest Growing and Shrinking Militaries

The United States military remains the largest force on the planet. The superpower’s 2016 military expenditure of $611 billion was equivalent to approximately 36% of all global military spending. U.S. military spending was also up 1.7% from 2015, the first increase after five consecutive years of decline. A number of other countries substantially increased their military budgets last year, while a number of others cut spending substantially.

The world’s nations spent $1.67 trillion on their militaries in 2016, up slightly from 2015. Based on annual military expenditures estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 15 countries with the largest one-year military expenditure increases and declines.

Read more ....

Update #1: US upped military spending, Asian militarization accelerated in 2016: Report (CNBC)
Update #2: Russia boosts military spending despite sanctions: study (AFP)

WNU Editor: And all signs are indicating that 2017 military spending will be even greater.

Venezuela In Crisis -- News Updates April 23, 2017



Daily Mail: Violent protests imminent in Venezuela as civilians are urged to block the streets and grind the country to a halt following the weekend's peaceful protest in Caracas over riots that left 20 dead

* Demonstrators took to the streets to honour the 20 people who have died in clashes over the last month
* The weekend's protest saw demonstrators march towards the city's slums for the first time in Venezuela
* Marchers in Caracas did not encounter any resistance from law enforcers, according to reports in Venezuela
* But on Monday, civilians are being urged by the government's opposition to wreak havoc on Caracas' streets

After a peaceful protest on the weekend went uncontested by Venezuelan authorities, civilians are poised to ramp up their demonstrations on Monday.

Thousands of protesters dressed in white marched into the west of Venezuela's capital on Saturday- an act likened to 'crossing the Berlin Wall' - in reaction to the deaths of 20 people during anti-government riots.

Three weeks of constant protests have involved violent clashes between the people of Caracas and riot police, and after a short respite over the weekend, things look set to turn ugly once more.

Civilians are being urged by the opposition to the government to flood the streets and block off the roads in order to grind the country to a halt.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The formation of these groups is what will probably (in the end) push Venezuela to the edge of revolution .... Armed Civilian Bands in Venezuela Prop Up Unpopular President (New York Times).

Venezuela In Crisis -- News Updates April 23, 2017

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro threatens opponents in bizarre video while playing catch -- New York Daily News
Thousands march in Venezuela in honour of those killed in unrest -- The Guardian/AP
Venezuela opposition march to honor those killed in violence -- Reuters
Venezuela opposition holds silent protest rally as campaign goes on -- DW
Venezuela On The Verge Of Revolution As Hyperinflated Currency Crashes To New Record Low -- Zero Hedge
What the world needs to do about Venezuela -- José Miguel Vivanco and Tamara Taraciuk Broner, CNN
The art of surviving a Venezuela on the brink -- Marcos Gomez, Al Jazeera
Hold the celebrity enablers of Venezuela's hellhole accountable -- Monica Showalter, American Interest
Venezuela’s broken system cannot fix itself -- Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, Financial Times
Venezuela's Tiananmen Square: Woman Stands In Front Of Armored Truck -- RCW

Report: Islamic State's Caliphate 'Is On A Path To Collapse'



Business Insider: New report finds ISIS' caliphate 'is on a path to collapse'

A new report from the Rand Corporation found that the terrorist group ISIS has lost most of the territory it once controlled and that its self-declared "caliphate" is now "on a path to collapse."

The report found that ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, "has lost substantial control of territory and people since 2014 in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Nigeria," putting it in danger of losing its state, which it calls a "caliphate," altogether.

But control over territory and people isn't the only thing that makes ISIS a formidable terrorist organization. The group has recently been focusing heavily on external attacks, some of which are mounted without any direct orders from ISIS leaders.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The RAND report is here. If current tends continue .... the war to finally defeat the Islamic State will probably end within a year.

President Trump To Speak With Chinese President Xi And Japanese Prime Minister Abe Tonight

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Reuters: Trump to speak with China's Xi, Japan's Abe on Sunday, official says

U.S. President Donald Trump will speak on Sunday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, with North Korea expected to be discussed.

Tensions have risen sharply with North Korea over its advancing nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might and detained a U.S. citizen on Saturday as he attempted to leave the country.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I cannot recall the last time a U.S. President talked with the Chinese President and the Japanese Prime Minister on the same night/day. The topic of discussion has to be North Korea, and I can only imagine what will be discussed. My hope is that the focus will be on finding a political/diplomatic solution to the Korean crisis .... but a part of me is wondering if President Trump is requesting a pre-clearance from both governments to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea. Bottom line .... something is "cooking".

A Chinese Assessment On Strength Comparison Between The Chinese Navy And The U.S. Navy

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning

Global Times: Military strength comparison: PLA navy vs US navy

China

When Xiao Jin'guang, a former naval commander of the People's Liberation Army, wanted to inspect a fleet base on an island 67 years ago, he could only find a fishery ship to take him there.

With a stern expression on his face, he told his entourage, "Remember, Navy Commander Xiao Jin'guang took a fishery boat on his inspection tour on March 17, 1950."

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy was founded on April 23, 1949, in Taizhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, with just nine warships and 17 boats obtained after a unit of the Kuomintang's second coastal defense fleet defected to the PLA. In its early stages, the PLA fleet was mainly composed of wooden ships and sailing boats.

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WNU Editor: A fair assessment from the Chinese.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis Wants A Political Solution To Yemen But Will Support Saudi Arabia's Military Campaign

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is greeted by Saudi Armed Forces Chief of Joint Staff General Abdul Rahman Al Banyan (L) upon his arrival at King Salman Air Base, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Reuters: Yemen war needs a political solution: U.S. defense secretary

A political solution through U.N.-brokered negotiations is needed to resolve the conflict in Yemen, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday as he made his first trip in the role to Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, officials have said the United States is considering deepening its role in the Yemen conflict by more directly aiding its Gulf allies, who are fighting Iranian-supported Houthi rebels.

At least 10,000 people have been killed and more than 3 million displaced in the war, now in its third year. Millions of people are also struggling to feed themselves.

The Houthis control the capital Sanaa and large swathes of territory. The United States backs the Saudi-led coalition which is trying to restore the Aden-based government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power, including through a devastating aeriel bombing campaign.

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More News On The Yemen War

Jim Mattis, in Saudi Visit, Calls for Political Solution in Yemen -- New York Times
US Weighs Giving Saudis More Military Aid for Yemen Efforts -- AP
US to step up support for Saudis, says Pentagon chief -- The Hill
US Considering More Military Assistance for Saudi Arabia in Yemen's Civil War -- Newsweek
Mattis: US must overcome destabilizing Iranian influence in Yemen -- The Hill
U.S. defense secretary: must overcome Iran's destabilization efforts to help Yemen -- Reuters
Mattis Wants a Political Solution in Yemen -- American Interest
Yemen government, coalition vow to expel Al Houthi militia from Hodeida -- Gulf News
20 soldiers killed or injured in Yemen -- SKY News
Drone kills 5 Al Qaeda suspects in Yemen -- The National
Suspected US drone strike kills three al-Qaida operatives in Yemen – report -- The Guardian
Mass graves, torture, and a big battle in Yemen: The cheat sheet -- IRIN
Yemen: The Graveyard of US Policy Myths -- Kevin Schwartz, War on the Rocks

Pirates Have Returned To The Waters Off Somalia



Washington Post: Piracy back on the rise in Somali waters, U.S. military says

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti — After years of relative calm, piracy is on the rise again off the coast of Somalia, U.S. officials here said Sunday.

Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the Marine officer in charge of the U.S. Africa Command, said there have been “five or six” piracy incidents in the region in two months.

Waldhauser, speaking at a news conference here with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, attributed the spike in attacks to the widespread drought and famine gripping the region. He said the ships the pirates were targeting have been small in size and carried goods such as food and oil.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a trend, but we’ll watch it,” he said.

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WNU Editor: The above video is a recent deadly fight between Somali pirates and private security guards on board a cargo ship.

More News On Piracy Returning Off The Coast Of Somalia

US officials say pirates have returned to waters off Somalia -- Washington Post/AP
U.S. watching piracy increase off Somalia, sees ties to famine -- Reuters
Pirate attacks rising off East Africa, Pentagon and shipping records show -- USA Today
Why Somali piracy is staging a comeback -- The Economist

More Details Emerge On The Taliban Attack That Killed Almost 200 Afghan Soldiers





CNN: Taliban 'started firing at anyone who came in front of them,' soldier says

(CNN)The crowd of soldiers barely had time to finish their prayers before the Taliban came to kill them.

Atiqullah was one of soldiers praying at the northern Afghan army base. As he left, he saw the carnage unfold.

"I saw a ranger model military vehicle with three or four attackers. Two of them had suicide vests -- they blew themselves up," said Atiqullah, a member of the 209th Shaheen Corps.

Another similar vehicle "went to mosque side -- they had M16 weapon(s) and started firing at anyone who came in front of them."

By the end of the bloodshed Friday, "I saw more than 80 to 100 people killed in front of me," the 25-year-old soldier said.

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More News On Friday's Taliban Attack That Killed Almost 200 Afghan Soldiers

Taliban ‘infiltrated’ Afghan Army to carry out deadly attack in north -- Long War Journal
Taliban fighters infiltrate Afghan army base -- The Australian
Hundreds killed in Taliban raid on Afghan military base -- Th Australian/The Times
Taliban’s surprise attack forced 30 coalition troops to ‘shelter in place’ -- FOX News
Afghans mourn casualties of deadliest Taliban attack on army base -- France 24
Corpses being sent home for burial after Taliban attack -- Washington Post/AP
Afghanistan reels from Taliban's deadliest attack on army since 2001 -- The Guardian
Deadly Taliban raid shakes Afghan government -- Financial Times
Taliban attack prompts resignation calls in Afghanistan -- Al Jazeera

Italian Prosecutor: Rescue Boats And NGOs Are Colluding With People Smugglers


BBC: Italy migrant crisis: Charities 'colluding' with smugglers

An Italian prosecutor says he has evidence some of the charities saving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea are colluding with people-smugglers.

Carmelo Zuccaro told La Stampa (in Italian) phone calls were being made from Libya to rescue vessels.

Organisations involved in rescue operations have rejected accusations of collusion, saying their only concern is to save lives.

Italy is the main route for migrants trying to reach Europe.

Almost 1,000 people are thought to have drowned in waters between Libya and Italy this year, according to the UN refugee agency.

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More News On Claims That Mediterranean Rescue Boats And NGOs Are Colluding With People Smugglers

Italy prosecutor says rescue boats in contact with people smugglers -- Reuters:
Sicily prosecutor probes possible NGOs-smuggler 'contacts' -- AP
Italy prosecutor stirs migrant 'taxis' row with NGOs -- AFP
Refugee death toll passes 1,000 in record 2017 as charities attacked for conducting Mediterranean rescues -- The Independent
Italian prosecutor accuses NGOs of colluding with human traffickers in Libya -- RT

French Election Results Are In -- Macron vs. Le Pen Will Be In The Final Round On May 7





Daily Mail: BREAKING NEWS: Shock waves through France as far-right Marine Le Pen makes it into the second round of nation’s presidential elections

* Marine Le Pen made it into the second round of nation’s presidential elections, according to exit polls
* She stormed into the final ballot in second place to face centrist independent Emmanuel Macron
* A polling station in Eastern France was forced to close as bomb squad was deployed to deal with a vehicle
* The worrying incident comes after a deadly ISIS gun attack on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Thursday

France’s far right National Front sent shock waves through Europe tonight after leader Marine Le Pen made it into the second round of nation’s presidential elections, according to exit polls.

The hard-line anti-immigration candidate stormed into the final ballot to face centrist independent Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen, 48 came second in the national poll behind Macron with 22 per cent of the vote in the tense election which saw 11 candidates vying for the role, according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

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WNU Editor: French voters have clearly shifted to the right. The ruling Socialist Party was wiped-out. Conservative Francois Fillon who was expected to win when the election race started but ho ended up being mired in scandal .... has failed in his bid to be in the run-off.

LIVE UPDATES

French Election Results: Live -- France 24
French Election: Live Coverage -- BBC
French election: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen estimated to be through to second round – live -- The Guardian
French Elections 2017 -- Reuters
The Latest: French Socialist candidate Hamon concedes defeat -- AP
Macron, Le Pen qualify for second-round of French presidential election: projections - live updates -- DW

More News On Today's French Presidential Election

Projections say Macron, Le Pen go through to runoff in French vote -- Reuters
French exit polls point to showdown between right-wing firebrand and unconventional centrist -- Washington Post
Pollsters project Macron vs. Le Pen in French runoff -- AP
France elections: Macron-Le Pen through to run-off, projections say -- BBC
Macron, Le Pen lead in 1st round of French presidential elections – projection -- RT

After Dropping A Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb In Afghanistan, Questions Linger

Afghan Special Forces keep watch at the site of a MOAB, or ''mother of all bombs'', which struck the Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Parwiz

Reuters: Few clues on casualties at site of huge U.S. bomb in Afghanistan

The remote site in eastern Afghanistan where the U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in combat earlier this month bears signs of the weapon's power, but little evidence of how much material and human damage it inflicted.

Reuters photos and video footage - some of the first images from journalists allowed to get close to the site - reveal a scarred mountainside, burned trees and some ruined mud-brick structures.

They did not offer any clues as to the number of casualties or their identities.

Since the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb was dropped on a fortified tunnel complex used by suspected Islamic State fighters in Nangarhar province, access to the site has been controlled by U.S. forces who are battling the militant group alongside Afghan troops.

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Update: After US Drops 'Frankenbomb' on Afghanistan, Questions Linger (Military.com)

Previous Post: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis Will Not Release 'Body Counts' (April 22, 2017)

WNU Editor:  I would want to know what was the impact on the enemy from such a blast. But apparently this is not the opinion of those who are fighting the war.

NATO Interception Of Russian Military Planes Are Now At Cold War Levels

Two Tu-95 Bear H Russian bombers were identified and intercepted by F-16s from Portugal. © Wikicommons

The Independent: Nato intercepting highest number of Russian military planes since the Cold War as 780 incidents recorded in 2016

Figures revealed after Russian planes approach Alaskan coast four nights in a row

More Nato fighter jets are being scrambled to monitor and intercept Russian planes than at any time since the end of the Cold War as tensions continue to rise.

Around 780 deployments were made from European military bases last year in response to Russian aircraft, compared to just 410 in 2015.

British planes have been scrambled in numerous operations involving the RAF, which has pilots in the Quick Reaction Alert force ready to launch 24-hours a day.

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Update: NATO Fighter Jets Scrambled About 780 Times in 2016 to Observe Russian Aircraft (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: Russia has been saying (and doing) the same thing for months now .... Russian Aircraft Intercept NATO Planes (Military.com).

This Is Why The C-130 Is An Awesome Flying Machine



Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics: Why the C-130 Is Such a Badass Plane

It's the go-anywhere, do-anything flyer that's much more than a jack of all trades.

Amidst the chaotic withdrawal of American forces from Saigon in April 1975, a young man in the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF), Tinh Nguyen, peered out from a bunker at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. The airfield had been under North Vietnamese mortar fire all night and more than 100 aircraft had been destroyed. But there was still one flyable C-130A (the initial production version). During a lull in the firing, it taxied toward the runway navigating around the smoking debris.

This massive plane's rear ramp was still open with a crowd of people huddling on it, and Nguyen knew he had to get to it.

"It was either leave right then or stay and get killed."

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WNU Editor: Like the B-52, it has been around forever.

Call Customer Service If Your Sniper Rifle Fails During A Firefight



Jared Keller, Task & Purpose: A Marine’s M-107 Sniper Rifle Failed During A Firefight — So He Called Customer Service

The Barrett M-107 .50-caliber long-range sniper rifle is a firearm made for the modern war on terrorism. Officially adopted by the U.S. Army in 2002 and boasting a 2,000-meter range, a suppressor-ready muzzle brake, and recoil-minimizing design, the semi-automatic offers “greater range and lethality against personnel and materiel targets than other sniper systems in the U.S. inventory,” in an assessment by Military.com.

While Barrett’s reputation of “flawless reliability” has made the M-107 the Army sniper’s weapon of choice, the rifle is just like any other essential tool: It often breaks when you need it most. And that’s apparently what happened to one Marine Corps unit pinned down in a firefight, according to one of Barrett’s longtime armorers.

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WNU Editor: Now that is what I call customer service.

President Trump's Base Is Still Supporting Him



Washington Post: Nearing 100 days, Trump’s approval at record lows but his base is holding

President Trump nears the 100-day mark of his administration as the least popular chief executive in modern times, a president whose voters remain largely satisfied with his performance, but one whose base of support has not expanded since he took the oath of office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Trump’s first months in office have produced some tangible successes. Beyond the continued enthusiasm of his most loyal supporters, a small majority of Americans see him as a strong leader. A bigger majority approves of his efforts to pressure U.S. companies to keep jobs in this country. Those who say the economy is getting better outnumber those who say it’s getting worse by the biggest margin in 15 years in Post-ABC polling.

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WNU Editor: I know among by American friends who voted for Trump .... not one has said to me that they regret their vote. Among those who did not vote for him .... a mixture of fear and outright hostility.

Update: I am not surprised .... Wash Post poll hides: Trump still beats Clinton, 43%-40% (Washington Examiner).

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Visits Djibouti

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is greeted by Djibouti's Minister of Defense Ali Hasan Bahdon as he arrives at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport in Ambouli, Djibouti, April 23, 2017.

VOA: Defense Secretary Mattis Arrives at Only US Base in Africa

DJIBOUTI — US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Djibouti, the tiny east African nation that’s home to the United States’ only military base on the continent.

Mattis arrived Sunday at Camp Lemonnier before visiting the Djiboutian president and minister of defense.

Officials say Camp Lemonnier is one of the most strategically important areas for the United States military due to its geographic location.

The base is critical for U.S. exercises and operations on the continent, and U.S. special forces use the facility to conduct counter-terror operations against al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia, according to officials.

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More News On US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Visiting Djibouti

Pentagon chief visits African nation home to key US base -- AP
U.S. defense secretary arrives in Djibouti to visit key military base -- Reuters
US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti -- Daily Mail