Saturday, June 30, 2018

Multinational RIMPAC Exercises Begin Off The Coast Of Hawaii

Popuar Mechanics: China's Not Coming to America's Big Pacific War Games This Time

But 52 ships, 18 armies, and 26 countries are participating in this year’s RIMPAC.

The world's largest (and longest-running) multinational naval exercise began its 2018 edition yesterday, June 27, in Hawaii and southern California.

The 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, hosted by the United States military, is drawing visitors from 25 countries across Asia and the Pacific. But one previous attendee is noticeably absent from this year’s war games: China.

Read more ....

More News On This Year's Multinational RIMPAC Exercises Beginning Off The Coast Of Hawaii

US trying to make friends, counter China with massive naval exercise -- Brad Lendon, CNN
RIMPAC 2018 Begins, But Without China -- Maritime Executive
RIMPAC, the world’s largest maritime exercise, underway at Pearl Harbor -- Honolulu Star Advertiser
What Will It Take for the PLAN to Come Back to RIMPAC? -- The Diplomat

Libyan Strongman Khalifa Haftar Wants To Now Confront the U.N.-Backed Unity Government

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar has been bolstered by a string of military victories

AFP: West Libya in strongman's sights after conquering east

After tightening his grip on eastern Libya, military strongman Khalifa Haftar now wants to extend his influence across the west where the UN-backed unity government is based, experts say.

One of the most powerful players in the Libyan conflict, the 75-year-old field marshal heads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) allied with a rival authority in the east.

He has been bolstered by a string of military victories in eastern parts of the country, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Barely a week after seizing key oil export terminals from a rival militia, his forces on Thursday announced the "liberation" of Derna, the last eastern city beyond his control, from radical Islamist militias.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar's string of victories has caugh the attention of the West .... Washington, allies demand Libyan oil terminals be returned to UN-backed government (AFP).

South Sudan Ceasefire On The Verge Of Collapse

Al Jazeera: South Sudan ceasefire violated hours after taking effect

South Sudan's government and armed opposition trade blame as 'permanent' ceasefire is violated within hours.

South Sudan's latest ceasefire has been violated hours after it began with the government and armed opposition trading blame.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his opponent Riek Machar agreed, at talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Wednesday, to a "permanent" ceasefire to take effect within 72 hours, raising hopes of an end a devastating civil war.

The conflict erupted in 2013, around two years after South Sudan won independence from Sudan, when Kiir accused his then-deputy Machar of plotting a coup. It claimed tens of thousands of lives, displaced four million people and left the newly created country's oil-rich economy in tatters.

The "permanent" ceasefire had gone into effect at midnight.

Read more ....

Update: South Sudan opposition accuses government of breaking ceasefire (AFP)

WNU editor: Usually a day or two passes before a ceasefire is broken. They did not even wait for that.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Calls President Trump After Canada Imposes $16 Billion In Tariffs

President Donald Trump is greeted by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the official welcoming ceremony at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix town of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Reuters: Trump, Trudeau discuss trade, economic issues over phone call

BEDMINSTER, N.J./OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late on Friday to discuss trade and other economic issues, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Saturday.

The phone call between the two leaders was the first to be publicly disclosed since Trump blasted Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak” at the end of the Group of Seven leaders meeting in Canada earlier this month.

Trump has repeatedly suggested Canada was profiting from U.S. trade, and his blistering comments after the G7 meeting drove bilateral relations to their lowest point in decades.

On Friday, Canada struck back at the Trump administration over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, vowing to impose punitive measures on C$16.6 billion ($12.6 billion) worth of American goods until Washington relents.

Read more ....

Update: Trudeau calls Trump 2 days before Canadian tariffs take effect to say Canada 'had no choice' but to act (CBC)

WNU Editor: Prime Minister called President Trump after making this announcement .... Trade War Heats-Up - Canada Imposes Billions In Tariffs On U.S. Goods (June 29, 2018). I suspect that this conversation was very businesslike with both men being very careful on what they were saying, especially President Trump knowing where he now stands with the Canadian Prime Minister .... Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's Office Leaks Story That President Trump Accused Canada Of Burning The White House In 1812 (June 7, 2018). More here .... Inside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Campaign Against President Trump (June 13, 2018).

I expect a U.S. response to these Canadian tariffs in the next month or two. Everyone is waiting on what is going to happen in Mexico (Presidential election this Sunday), and how will this impact current NAFTA negotiations. In my opinion the new Mexican President .... and I predict that it will be Andrés Manuel López Obrador .... will want a mini- NAFTA., and not the all-encompassing trade deal that it is.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Coalition Partners Will Meet On Sunday To Decide Her Fate

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a news conference following the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium June 29, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Reuters: Weakened Merkel to face judgment of her Bavarian allies

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political future rests in the hands of the Christian Social Union (CSU) on Sunday, when the Bavarian party’s leadership meets to decide whether to accept migration deals she brought back from Brussels.

Nine months after elections that saw her lose votes to the far right, a weakened Merkel was forced to turn to European Union neighbors to help resolve a conflict with her allies after they rebelled against her immigration policy.

The party’s leader, interior minister Horst Seehofer, threatened to turn migrants back from the Bavarian border, a move that would almost certainly precipitate a government collapse.

At a Brussels summit this week, leaders hammered out a deal to share out refugees on a voluntary basis and create “controlled centers” inside the European Union to process asylum requests.

Read more

WNU Editor: Her coalition partners have a choice .... get rid of her now, collapse the government,  and suffer serious loses in the election that would be called. Or wait till the next election (regional elections are in the fall) .... where they will face serious losses . I am willing to bet that they are going to do nothing, give the support that Angela Merkel needs to survive, and hope that the migration crisis will not be an issue when election time comes. My prediction .... the migration crisis is not going to go away.

Afghan Forces Resume Military Operations After Govt 18-Day Ceasefire Ends

Reuters: Afghan president orders troops to resume operations against Taliban

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a formal end to his government’s ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday but called on the insurgents to agree to full peace talks following a three-day truce during this month’s Eid holiday.

“It is now the Taliban’s decision, whether they want to keep killing or join the peace process,” Ghani told a news conference in Kabul where he repeated an appeal for comprehensive peace talks.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. did not delay launching their air srikes when they got the greenlight .... US strikes more than 20 Taliban targets after cease-fire ends (Stars and Stripes).

More News On Afghan Forces Resuming Military Operations After The Govtès 18-Day Ceasefire Ends

Afghan forces resume offensive operations after govt ceasefire ends -- AFP
Afghan president ends unilateral truce extension amid rising Taliban attacks -- Washington Post
Afghan government calls off ceasefire with Taliban -- CNN
Afghanistan: Ghani orders resumption of anti-Taliban operations -- Al Jazeera
Afghan forces to resume operations as historic ceasefire with Taliban ends -- RT

African Army Chiefs Have Been Invited To China

Hans Spross, DW: Why has China invited African army chiefs to Beijing?

China wants to redefine its military engagement in Africa and has invited military officials from across the continent to Beijing to explore new forms of strategic cooperation.

China's economic influence as an investor and trade partner continues to grow in Africa and new strategies are being discussed to ensure the security of Chinese business interests and investments.

Emphasizing Beijing's strategic interest in Africa, China's Ministry of National Defense invited high-ranking military representatives from 50 African countries to the first China-Africa Defense and Security Forum. The forum began on Tuesday in Beijing and is set to run until July 10.

"Securing trade routes is important for China as Africa's northeastern coast up to the Suez Canal is a part of the new maritime silk road, which is also a segment of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)," said Cobus van Staden, a China expert at the South African Institute for International Affairs. BRI is a massive development and trade project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping to connect China with Eurasian markets.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China sees Africa as the place to be in the next few decades .... and when it comes to the military Beijing wants the following. Bases to protect their interests, a market for their arms, and above all else .... military allies.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 30, 2018

Four candidates are vying for the presidency on Sunday [Handout/National Electoral Institute/Reuters]

Tom Phillips, The Guardian: 'We're in the abyss': how despair in Mexico set 'Amlo' on verge of presidency

Violence, corruption and poverty explain why leftwing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the frontrunner in election.

It’s a searing afternoon in Ecatepec, one of Mexico’s most violent and deprived cities, and thousands of followers have gathered under a vast white tarpaulin to hear their pathfinder rage against the machine.

For the next hour Andrés Manuel López Obrador – or Amlo to his fans – will deliver a unyielding assault on the scoundrels, mafiosos and influence peddlers he claims have plundered Latin America’s second largest economy and plunged it into a cauldron of thievery, bloodshed and want.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 30, 2018

Mexico elections: What to expect -- John Holman, Al Jazeera

Mexico’s Answer to Donald Trump -- Jorge Guajardo, The Atlantic

Will the working class be the kingmakers in Mexico's elections? -- Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera

Mexico's Election, Between Fear And Disgust -- Luis Rubio, World Crunch

Factbox: A look at Mexico's presidential contenders ahead of key election -- Reuters

Turkey’s controversial S-400 missile transfer is ‘done deal’ -- Emanuele Scimia, Asia Times

US needs to draw a line in the sand with Iran over Yemen -- Stephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen, Asia Times

'Everyone is feeling more despair': A look back at Hong Kong's handover to China 21 years later -- Xiaoning Mo and Christina Zhou, ABC News Online

Imran Khan starts race to lead Pakistan but can he please the ‘umpires’? -- Memphis Barker, The Guardian

Controversial Islamist laws being used to sideline Pakistani politicians -- Kunwar Khaldune Shahid, Asia Times

North Korean deception, or too-rigid doctrine? Too early to know -- Daniel Hoffman, The Hill

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz: The EU's new power broker? -- Doris Pundy, DW

The Trump-Putin Summit: What the Europeans Fear -- Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic

Why Time Might Be NAFTA’s Best Friend -- Kimberly Ann Elliott, WPR

World News Briefs -- June 30, 2018

Sputnik: UN warns of 'catastrophe' as 160,000 flee southern Syria push

Number of displaced people jumps amid UN alarm at reports of fleeing civilians being forced to pay for safe passage.

The United Nations has warned of a looming "catastrophe" in southern Syria, as it raised the number of people fleeing a fierce government offensive aimed at retaking rebel-held areas to 160,000.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN's high Commissioner for human rights, said in a statement on Friday that there was a "grave risk that intensified fighting will see many civilians trapped", condemning "[how] civilians in Syria continue to be used as pawns by the various parties".

Read more ....


Syrian forces press offensive in south as rebels consider truce terms and civilians flee. Syrian government offensive uproots 120,000, UN warns of catastrophe. Syria: southern towns surrender to Assad forces after thousands flee home.

UN asking warring parties in Syria's Deraa to cease hostilities.

Talks with Russia over Deraa peace deal collapse: Syrian rebels.

Russia sets no deadlines for withdrawal of its taskforce from Syria, says top diplomat.

Aid agencies warn cholera and catastrophe loom in Yemen.

Post-Saddam Iraq faces parliamentary vacuum for first time.

Iraq hangs 13 'IS' prisoners as PM Haidar al-Abadi calls for 'just retribution'.

Iran urges foreign firms to resist US sanction 'threats'.

Iran's leaders seek ways to defend economy from U.S. sanctions.

Protests at Gaza border leave two Palestinians dead.

Qatar blockade case to appear before UN's highest court.


Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani ends ceasefire with Taliban.

Jim Mattis tries to ease Japan's worries about North Korea talks.

North Korea likely making more nuclear bomb fuel despite Trump-Kim talks, report says.

Pompeo addresses North Korea denuclearization in call to China. China must keep up North Korea sanctions, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells counterpart Wang Yi.

Australia warns of cold war-style espionage as it passes law banning covert foreign interference in politics.

Maldives opposition unites to challenge Yameen.

Sri Lanka moves navy unit to Chinese-run port.


African Union leaders set to meet to review free trade, crises.

UN central Mali G5 military base bomb and grenade attack leaves six dead.

Four Mali soldiers killed by landmine.

Ethiopia, Eritrea and the hope for lasting peace.

Ethiopia to remove OLF, ONLF and Ginbot 7 from terror list.

South Sudan ceasefire violated hours after taking effect. South Sudan opposition accuses government of breaking ceasefire.

100 feared dead after migrant ship sinks off Libya coast.

HRW warns of government repression in advance of DRC elections.

Defence in Burkina Faso failed coup trial slams lack of evidence.


EU extends economic sanctions against Russia.

Migrant crisis: Italy minister Salvini closes ports to NGO boats.

Chancellor Merkel confirms bilateral migrant agreements with Spain and Greece.

EU leaders agree on screening centers to ease migrant crisis.

Quit the EU for better trade deal, Trump reportedly told Macron.

Poland's Jaroslaw Kaczynski renews call for German WWII reparations.

US ambassador to Estonia quits over Donald Trump's EU comments.

Germany's BND spy agency employed Heinrich Himmler's daughter.

10 Chinese-owned vineyards in Bordeaux seized by French police in fraud inquiry.

First great white shark in decades spotted near Spain's Balearic Islands.


Obrador holds commanding lead ahead of Mexico elections Sunday.

Thousands in US march against immigration policy.

Pence tells Central American leaders to respect U.S. borders.

Migrant crisis overshadows Mike Pence's Central America tour.

Trump says he's cut his Supreme Court short-list down to five candidates including TWO women and he'll announce a nominee July 9 – but he doesn't plan to ask any of them about Roe v. Wade.

Canada hits US with retaliatory tariffs: 'We will not back down'. Canada 'will not back down' over US metals tariffs.

Trump, Trudeau discuss trade, economic issues over phone call.

Quebec court extends suspension of law banning face veils.

Jamaica to boost security after murders of returning expats .

Heat wave scorches U.S. Midwest and East.


Sahel anti-terror force vows to fight on after suicide attack on HQ.

Iraq executes 12 for terrorism after IS captives found dead.

Civilian death cases in coalition strikes against ISIS reopened after ‘War of Annihilation’ report.

Lafarge cement giant in terrorist funding probe.


World stocks up slightly Friday, but down for June as U.S. trade policy unnerves investors.

Kuwait pumps up oil output as part of OPEC, Russia plan.

Trump claims Saudi Arabia has agreed to boost oil production amid turmoil.

U.S. Tariffs Will Severely Undermine Chinese President Xi's Domestic And Foreign Policy Objectives

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping arrive for a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Gordon G. Chang, National Interest: Trump's Tariffs Could Crush China's Ambitions

China is not in a position to prevail over a determined American leader.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday handed a reprieve to ravenous Chinese acquirers looking for U.S. tech companies by issuing a statement that he will not put in place across-the-board rules blocking certain investments from China.

On May 29, the White House in a statement promised by June 30 to “implement specific investment restrictions” barring Chinese parties from acquiring “industrially significant technology.”

Instead of using authority granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 to issue such investment restrictions, the president on Wednesday endorsed legislation, now working its way through Congress, expanding the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. CFIUS, as the Treasury-led interagency body is known, can block certain acquisitions of U.S. businesses by foreign parties.

“China will closely monitor the legislation process and evaluate its potential impact on Chinese companies,” Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday in Beijing to reporters. “China does not agree with tightening foreign-investment conditions using national security as reasons.” The official reaction was, considering the circumstances, mild, an indication Chinese leaders were relieved by Trump’s decision not to act.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If it was not an issue, Chinese President Xi would never have made this direct threat .... Chinese President Xi Tells The U.S. That 'In Our Culture, We Punch Back' (June 29, 2018). Bottom line .... China is seeing its annual $400 billion trade surplus with the U.S. being threatened by these tariffs, money that they have already made plans to spend.

U.S. Navy Sends The Carrier USS Harry S. Truman To Monitor Russian Activity In The Atlantic

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) conducts a strait transit. Truman is currently deployed as part of an ongoing rotation of U.S. forces supporting maritime security operations in international waters around the globe on April 27, 2018. US Navy Photo

USNI News: Carrier USS Harry S. Truman Operating in the Atlantic as Russian Submarine Activity is on the Rise

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) has left the Mediterranean Sea and is now operating in the Atlantic Ocean, a defense official confirmed to USNI News.

This week the carrier, the embarked Carrier Air Wing 1 and some of its escorts passed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Atlantic after spending several days in port in Marseille, France.

“As a matter of longstanding policy, we do not discuss future operations, but I can tell you that the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group will continue to conduct operations in support of our NATO allies, European and African partner nations, coalition partners, and U.S. national security interests,” Cmdr. John Perkins, a spokesman with U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, told USNI News.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: You do not send an aircraft carrier to monitor submarine activity in the Atlantic. This is more for show before next week's NATO summit.

President Trump Sends Warning Letters To Eight E.U. Leaders Ahead Of NATO Summit

© REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst

DW: Donald Trump calls out Germany, EU allies on NATO defense spending ahead of summit

Belgium's prime minister was "unimpressed" after receiving a letter from Trump about sticking to NATO pledges. With less than two weeks until the alliance summit in Brussels, Trump also said Germany needs to up spending.

US President Donald Trump sent letters to eight NATO members cautioning them about not meeting their spending commitments, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Friday.

"I am not very impressed by this type of letter," Michel told reporters on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.

"Belgium has halted the systematic fall in defense spending and takes part in a lot of military operations," he added.

Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands also received individual letters that were personally signed by the US leader, a diplomatic source told the AFP news agency.

Trump took aim at Berlin and other European allies over NATO spending in comments to reporters on Friday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These EU leaders are not going to listen to Presdient Trump. Instead they are warning via through their media allies that President Trump wants to break-up NATO ....Is Trump Out To Dismantle NATO? By Tom Ricks (Task & Purpose). Personally .... I am not impressed by this scare-mongering. Instead of facing up to their own failure to meet promised commitments to NATO, what I see is an attempt to shift the focus on what President Trump may do, while making the same vague promises that they have been making for the past two years .... EU to deepen military readiness, raise spending, leaders say (Reuters).

More News On President Trump Sending Warning Letters To Eight E.U. Leaders Ahead Of NATO Summit

Trump, ahead of NATO summit, repeats complaints on Germany, other Europeans -- Reuters
Trump’s letters to allies mean the NATO Summit could be in trouble before it begins -- Defense News
'Unimpressed': Trump Sends EU Leaders Warning Letters Ahead of NATO Summit -- Sputnik

Report: Pentagon Considering Troop Withdrawal From Germany

Paratroopers with the 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) get artillery rounds ready for an artillery live-fire exercise at Grafenwoehr, Germany, Friday, May 18, 2018. MARTIN EGNASH/STARS AND STRIPES

DW: US considering troop withdrawal from Germany, report says

EU officials are reportedly trying to figure out if a US evaluation of the impact of moving troops from Germany is a negotiating ploy ahead of a NATO summit in July. The US Department of Defense has rejected the claims.

The US Department of Defense is examining options for withdrawing US forces stationed in Germany after President Donald Trump expressed interest in such a move, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources familiar with the evaluation, said officials were analyzing the cost and consequences of shifting either some or all 35,000 US troops to the US or Poland. Top defense officials, the paper said, have not been involved in the analysis.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The White House is saying that they did not order this review .... Pentagon: White House did not request plan to withdraw Germany troops (Washington Examiner). So who did? My guess is that there is some truth to this report .... Trump was reportedly surprised by the number of US troops stationed in Germany and expressed interest in pulling some of them out (Business Insider).

What's my take .... there is a problem here. NATO is important, and the U.S. role and participation is vital. But how can one take the alliance seriously when countries like Germany are not interested in spending the necessary money and political capital to maintain it. In this context, a review on the entire NATO alliance is (unfortunately) necessary.

More News On Reports That The U.S. Is Considering Troop Withdrawals From Germany

U.S. assessing cost of keeping troops in Germany as Trump battles with Europe -- Washington Post
US Mulls Pulling Troops From Germany as Trump-Merkel Tensions Mount - Reports -- Sputnik
Is Trump Out To Dismantle NATO? -- Tom Ricks, Task & Purpose

President Trump: When I Meet Russian President Putin We Are Going To Talk About Everything

Politico: Trump on meeting Putin: ‘I’ll talk to him about everything’

President Donald Trump said on Friday that nothing was off the table for his upcoming meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

“I’ll talk to him about everything,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on his way to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for the weekend.

Trump said he planned to address election integrity when the two leaders come face to face in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16. Though Trump and Putin often speak warmly of each other, their countries are increasingly at odds when it comes to issues like foreign policy and meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

“We don’t want anyone tampering with elections,” Trump said on Friday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: President Trump has sized up Russian President Putin accurately. Putin prefers being involved in broad discussions with no specific agenda or points that need to be covered. In this way he is like President Trump .... they want to talk about everything and make the big decisions, and when it is over leave the details to the diplomats. As for Russian President Putin .... he sees in President Trump an ally, but one that is also constrained by the current state of U.S. politics and suspicions/lack of trust/hostility towards Russia. But both men do want to show progress in U.S. - Russian relations, and that is why I believe that when the summit has ended , they will be declaring tremendous progress in restoring and repairing the U.S. - Russian relationship. As to what will be discussed at this summit .... here is my list .... Russian sanctions, G8, Syria, Ukraine, nuclear arms control, how to reduce tensions between Russia and NATO, election interference, restoring diplomat ties by re-opening consulates, North Korea, Iran, etc..

Update: These experts are right .... Trump hopes he and Putin will get along. Russia experts worry they will. (Washington Post)

More News On The Upcoming U.S. - Russian Summit

An Agenda for the Trump-Putin Summit -- National Interest
Trump says he’ll bring up election meddling with Putin -- CNBC/AP
The Memo: Trump seeks Kim repeat with Putin -- The Hill
Trump Reveals Topics He Plans to Discuss With Putin During Meeting -- Sputnik
What Should the World Expect from the Trump-Putin Summit? -- Angela Stent, National Interest

Russian TV Boasts That They Elected Trump

The Independent: Russian TV boasts about electing Trump ahead of summit with Putin

'What trouble did we cause? We just elected Trump, that's all,' a Russian news presenter said

Russia’s state-owned television shows have mocked the outcry over the country's alleged hacking of the US 2016 presidential election ahead of an upcoming summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Russia 24, a government-funded network covering domestic and international news, criticised the issue of cyber security being included in Mr Putin’s planned discussions with American officials. In the same segment, Russian news analysts also derided CNN and one of its shows, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, for its coverage of the election hacking.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I love how the Western media covers stories like this one. Someone on a panel on Russian TV channel 24 makes a joke that Russia elected Trump, and it gets twisted by The Independent in its headline claiming that Russia help to elect Trump. Regular watchers of Russia 24 knows that this is a channel .... like FOX cable news in the U.S. .... where scores of people show up and debate the issues. And yes .... sometimes the debates has no basis in reality. On a side note .... Russia 24 has some of the most beautiful women in the world on that channel .... which tells me that they know their audience.

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Calls The Russian Government Corrupt

Edward Snowden in 2018. Photograph: Lindsay Mills

The Guardian: Edward Snowden describes Russian government as corrupt

Whistleblower’s comments a risk given his sanctuary in the country since 2013

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has delivered his most trenchant criticism yet of the Russian government, describing it unequivocally as “corrupt”.

His comments mean the proposed US-Russia summit in Helsinki on 16 July is potentially risky for him if Donald Trump was to request Vladimir Putin to hand him over.

Snowden is wanted in the US on three charges under the Espionage Act, carrying a minimum of 10 years each in jail. Putin could balance the propaganda value of having Snowden in Russia against providing Trump with an easy gift.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Edward Snowden is only voicing what almost every Russian thinks about his government. I also do not think the Russians are going to expel him even though by making political comments critical of the Russian governemnt he is violating the terms of his residency status. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is correct when he said the following .... Lavrov on trading Snowden for sanctions relief: Russia sees US exile as ‘master of his own destiny’ (RT). Where it will be a problem for Edward Snowden is if he participates in anti-government protests and makes numerous comments denouncing the government. In that case .... when his residency permit is up for renewal (I think it is in the next year or two) .... they are not going to renew it, and he will have to find another safe haven. I think Iceland would accept him .... but he will have to figure out a way to get there.

EU Migrant Deal Falls Apart

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

France 24: EU migration deal 'agrees that they don’t agree on anything'

After a tense night of negotiations, the European Union’s 28 countries announced that they had reached an agreement on migration on Friday. But many observers are doubtful as to how solid the deal really is.

The EU 28 agreed that they would share the burden of welcoming refugees; that “controlled centres” would be set up within the bloc to accommodate them; that “regional disembarkation platforms” would be set up to process migrants outside of Europe; and that the EU would invest in strengthening its external borders.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am only surprised that this deal lasted one day. I expected it to last a week or two in order to give German Chancellor Merkel a chance to tell her coalition partners that she is working hard and that a solution to handle the EU migration crisis (that she caused with her open borders policy) is progressing. But they (other EU states) did not even give her that. Here is why the deal fell apart .... Why the EU's new migrant deal fell apart on the same day it was signed (Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner)

More News On The EU Migrant Deal Falls Apart

Europe's migration fiasco: Brussels plan to build EU migrant centre descends into farce as leaders queue to say 'not in my back yard' -- Daily Mail
Migrant crisis: EU leaders split over new migrant deal -- BBC
Migration Deal in Europe Makes No Commitments. Victory Is Declared. -- The New York Times
EU leaders defend migration deal as doubts emerge -- The Guardian

G5 Anti-Terror Force Headquarters Based In Mali Targeted In Deadly Attack

Long War Journal: Suicide assault targets African coalition military base in central Mali

The headquarters of the G5 Sahel force, a coalition of Sahelien states sent to combat the growing insurgency in central Mali, was subjected to a complex assault earlier today. At least six people were killed in the attack, which has so far yet to be claimed by any group.

Earlier today, suspected jihadists attempted to infiltrate the G5 base in Sevare, a town in Mali’s central Mopti region. A suicide car bomb was used in the attempt to penetrate the perimeter. The explosion was then followed by heavy gunfire as militants attempted to exploit the chaos to enter the base. According to local reports, the provisional death toll stands at six people dead. However, it is unclear if all six are members of the G5 military force.

Read more ....

More News On G5 Anti-Terror Force Headquarters Based In Mali Being Targeted In Deadly Attack

Headquarters of G5 Sahel anti-terror force attacked in central Mali -- France 24
At least six dead in Mali after attack on regional anti-terror force base -- The Guardian/AFP
Six soldiers killed in attack on G5 force headquarters in Mali: mayor -- Reuters
Mali: G5 force headquarters targeted in deadly attack -- Al Jazeera
6 killed in attack on EU-funded anti-terror force in Mali implicated in ‘summary executions’ -- RT

Report: North Korea Has Increased Nuclear Production At Secret Sites

President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.Kevin Lim / The Straits Times via Reuters file

NBC: North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials

"Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles," said one U.S. official.

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months — and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The intelligence assessment, which has not previously been reported, seems to counter the sentiments expressed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted after his historic June 12 summit with Kim that "there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."

Analysts at the CIA and other intelligence agencies don't see it that way, according to more than a dozen American officials who are familiar with their assessments and spoke on the condition of anonymity. They see a regime positioning itself to extract every concession it can from the Trump administration — while clinging to nuclear weapons it believes are essential to survival.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That North Korea Has Increased Nuclear Production At Secret Sites

U.S. intelligence believes N.Korea making more nuclear bomb fuel despite talks: NBC -- Reuters
US intel agencies believe North Korea has increased nuclear fuel production: report -- The Hill
North Korea still secretly enriching uranium, say US officials -- The Guardian
US intel report suggests North Korea is boosting fuel creation for nuclear weapons: Report -- Washington Examiner
Speculation swirls amid reports N Korea ‘rapidly’ upgrading nuke site -- Asia Times
Kim Plays the Long Game: Don’t look now, but it’s just possible that North Korea isn’t actually denuclearizing. -- Fred Kaplan, Slate

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

Military aircraft enthusiasts watch as a United States Air Force (USAF) F-15 fighter jet as it travels at low altitude through the 'Mach Loop' series of valleys near Dolgellau, north Wales on June 26, 2018. © AFP 2018 / Oli Scarff

WNU Editor: The above picture comes from this photo-gallery .... This Week in Pictures: June 23-29 (Sputnik).

Friday, June 29, 2018

Editor's Note

The GF just gave me an ultimatum. It is a beautiful Friday evening right now in Montreal. I can either stay in my home office and blog all evening, or we go out and have a good time. Hmmmm .... this is an easy choice. Blogging will return late tonight.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- June 29, 2018

Patrick Tucker and Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley at the Defense One Technology Summit, June 26, 2018.
Kristoffer Tripplaar

Patrick Tucker, Defense One: Pentagon Intelligence Chief: Russia And China Will Have Weapons in Space ‘In the Near Future’

The Defense Intelligence Agency’s director says the U.S. lead in space is diminishing and tomorrow’s skies will be filled with enemy robot satellites.

Russia and China are developing new space-based weapons and they’ll be ready “in the near future,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Tuesday at the Defense One Technology Summit in Washington, D.C.

The countries, which Ashley called “competitors,” are developing “the ability to interdict satellites both from a ground standpoint and from a space standpoint,” he said. “The technology is being developed right now. It is coming in the near future.”

It was the most overt admission yet from an intelligence leader that Russia and China were rapidly seeking to weaponize space. But a February report from the Office of the Director of Intelligence also hinted at it.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- June 29, 2018

South Korea unveils first images of KF-X design with European missiles -- Defense News

South Korea to introduce alternative service for military objectors -- UPI

U.S. Forces in Korea Move Headquarters to Largest Overseas Military Base -- Newsweek

U.S. military opens massive South Korea headquarters -- UPI

Putin: New Russian Weapons Decades Ahead of Foreign Rivals --

China’s Electromagnetic Railgun Progress Goes into Overdrive -- Sputnik

Australian universities helping China to modernise its military -- Financial Review

Australia officially announces $26B frigate contract. Here are the build details -- Defense News

Boeing awarded $1.5B contract for Super Hornet aircraft for Kuwait -- UPI

Hungarian military orders 20 H145M military helicopters -- Defense Blog

Italy’s new defense minister commits to F-35, butts heads with France -- Defense News

The US Air Force is arming pilots with this longer-range, stand-off rifle to use if they’re ever shot down -- Air Force Times

Air Force awards nearly $900 million for new bunker buster bombs -- UPI

Boeing to build 4 new Chinooks for U.S. Special Operations -- UPI

US House sinks submarine proposal, OKs Pentagon spending bill with dual-carrier buy -- Defense News

US Radio Fans Pick Up 'Emergency' Message to Nuke-Capable B-52s - Report -- Sputnik

Military Repair Depots Eye Flying Robots, 3D Printing to Improve Ops --

Cabela’s might have been a cheaper option for the military’s newest handgun after all, report shows -- Army Times

From a Bradley replacement to soldier-controlled robot swarms, big moves coming with Army robots -- Army Times

To predict the future of military satellite communications, ‘follow the terminals’ -- Space News

Planning for Trump's military parade finally getting underway -- NBC

‘Dishonored and disgraced’: IG slams AFCENT one-star for ‘inappropriate relationship’ -- Air Force Times

The US Military Must Support Women For One Simple Reason: It Can’t Afford to Lose Them -- Antonieta Rico, Long March Council of the Former Enlisted/Task & Purpose

Should Chesty Puller Finally Get the Medal of Honor? -- The Radar

Trade War Heats-Up - Canada Imposes Billions In Tariffs On U.S. Goods

CNBC: Canada makes retaliatory tariffs official: 'We will not back down'

* Canada strikes back at the U.S. with $12.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs announced Friday.
* “We will not escalate, and we will not back down,” Canada’s foreign minister says.
* Canada's plan taking effect next week will include imports of U.S. products such as yogurt, caffeinated roasted coffee, toilet paper and sleeping bags.

Canada’s foreign minister announced Friday that Ottawa plans to impose about $12.6 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods on July 1, joining other major U.S. allies striking back in the escalating trade dispute.

The country is working closely with the European Union and Mexico, according to Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We will not escalate, and we will not back down,” Freeland said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I live in Canada, and I know that Canada is not going to win this fight. Canada exports 75% of its goods to the U.S., the U.S. exports 18% and is less dependent on what Canada does. The regulatory and tax system in Canada also no longer makes this country competitive in many key sectors when compared to the U.S., and (for the moment) there is no interest within the Canadian government to lower taxes and/or remove regulations to at least match what investors can get in the U.S.. Energy costs (due to tax and green energy policies) are also significantly higher in Canada (always a killer if you want to be competitive) .... but more importantly .... as I had mentioned in a commentary two days ago ..... the U.S. economy is booming, the Canadian economy not so much ....

.... another indication that the U.S. and Canadian economies are headed in opposite direction. Canada lost 31,000 full time jobs in May (for an economy 1/10th the size of the U.S.), while the U.S. gained 223,000 full time jobs during the same period.

Bottom line .... I expect this economic decline to continue in Canada, and if this trade war really gets out of hand, expect massive Canadian government deficits and a real prospect of a recession in Canada. Another big worry is that household debt in Canada is one of the worst in the world. To put it bluntly, the Canadian public is not ready for hard times if they do come. And on another note .... Canadians will be going to the polls next year .... not a good time to have an election when the economy is tanking (a small nudge to my Liberal friends who run the country in Ottawa).

More News On Canada Imposing Billions In Tariffs On U.S. Goods

Freeland vows to 'not back down' as Ottawa reveals $2B in aid, new tariff targets -- CBC
Canada hits back at U.S. on tariffs, says it will not back down -- Reuters
Feds unveil counter-tariffs, offer metal and manufacturing industries up to $2B -- CTV News
Canada moves ahead with $16.6 billion in tariffs on U.S. products as trade war heats up -- Toronto Star
‘We will not back down’: Ottawa strikes back at U.S. with tariff targets -- Financial Post
Canada to aid steel, aluminum industries hit by U.S. tariffs: source -- Reuters
The full list of 229 US products targeted by Canada’s retaliatory tariffs -- Quartz

Chinese President Xi Tells The U.S. That 'In Our Culture, We Punch Back'

CNBC: Xi has strong words for Trump: 'In our culture, we punch back' — report

* Chinese President Xi Jinping said last week he will not hesitate to retaliate against the U.S. on trade, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing sources.
* Xi was speaking Thursday to the Global CEO Council, a China-organized group of roughly 20 chief executives from mostly Western multinational companies such as Goldman Sachs and Volkswagen, the Journal said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said last week that he will not hesitate to retaliate against the U.S. on trade, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing sources.

“In the West you have the notion that if somebody hits you on the left cheek, you turn the other cheek,” Xi said in the report, according to people briefed on his remarks. “In our culture, we punch back.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Truth be told .... the Chinese have been punching the U.S. in the face for the past 20 years when it comes to trade. It is also moments like this that I have to wonder what advice is Chinese President Xi getting. He is basically issuing a threat to the U.S. that they must permit Chinese goods to enter the U.S. unhindered .... and that the trade imbalance between the two countries must continue (if not get bigger). And of course there is no mention from him on Chinese tariffs and restrictions that are limiting U.S. goods from entering China. Bottom line .... Chinese President Xi is clearly not interested in compromise, he has issued his demands and he expects the U.S. to surrender to them. And no .... he is not bluffing. My recommendation to President Trump .... keep on putting tariffs, and tell Western multinational corporations with big investments in China that they better re-evaluate their positions.

More News On Chinese President Xi Telling The U.S. That 'In Our Culture, We Punch Back'

China’s Xi Tells CEOs He’ll Strike Back at U.S. -- Wall Street Journal
‘In our culture we punch back,’ Xi warns Trump -- Asia Times
‘In our culture, we punch back,’ Xi says China won’t ‘turn the other cheek’ to Trump’s tariffs threats -- Shanghaiist

Is It Wrong If President Trump Admires The Military?

President Trump with members of the U.S. military at the ”Celebration of America” event on the South Lawn of the White House on June 5.CreditKevin Lamarque/Reuters

Gary J. Bass, New York Times: Should We Worry About Trump’s Fawning Admiration of the Military?

In his short time in office, President Trump has surrounded himself with senior military officers and expressed unquestioning admiration for the armed forces, even going so far as to propose a military parade on Veterans Day — something more typical of Beijing or Moscow. Should we be worried?

The best answer can be found in a book by Samuel Huntington that came out more than six decades ago. When most people think of Huntington, they remember his book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,” or perhaps his hostility to Latino immigration in his latter years, but they would be far better off reading “The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations.” First published in 1957, it is by far the most influential book on the subject — and itself a source of no small controversy.

Ambitious and deftly written, “The Soldier and the State” is an argument for civilian mastery over a professional military. For Huntington, modern military officers were like doctors or lawyers, with a specific professional expertise: managing violence. Whether in the United States or even the Soviet Union, their proper ethic was realistic, conservative and prudent, more wary of going to war than their reckless or crusading civilian masters.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Politics and the military .... from my perspective .... have always walked hand in hand. As a student of U.S. history I have come across many instances where Presidents have used the military to provide cover and/or support for a government policy or agenda. Is this wrong .... we can have a debate on that. But in the end the military and their political masters are always subservient to the will of the people .... and in this regard U.S. democratic institutions have performed admirably in making sure that the military does not become an instrument for a President to preserve his political position and legacy ... or vice-versa. To put it bluntly, in the end we can always vote them out. But on a side note .... while I do agree with Gary Bass' legitimate concerns on the role of the military and how politicians can use them .... I think he is missing the bigger picture. As we learned from the U.S. Justice Department's Inspector General report .... we now have tangible evidence that senior FBI officials felt it was their duty to "stop Trump". The focus by the New York Times should be on these agencies, and how deep was the previous administration involvement in supporting their actions to influence an incoming administration .... and not on a hypothetical concern over President Trump's love of the military.

The U.S. Air Force's C-5 Galaxy Plane Turns %0 Years Olf This Year

The US Air Force C-5 transport jet hits the big 5-0. Did we say big? Yes. Freakishly big.

CNN: Happy 50th birthday to America's biggest military airplane

Marietta, Georgia (CNN)One of the largest airplanes in the world -- a jet that forever changed America's military and airline industry -- is turning half a century old.

When you see a C-5 Galaxy on the ground for the first time, the first thing that strikes you is... it's freakishly huge.

Length: 247 feet. Wingspan: wider than a Boeing 747-400. The pilot sits about three-and-a-half stories high in the cockpit, and the plane's T-tail stands as tall as a six-story building.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: 50 years already!?!?!?! 

How Much Will It Cost To Denuclearize North Korea?

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore in this picture released on June 12, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. KCNA via REUTERS/File Photo

Reuters: Explainer: What will it cost to denuclearize North Korea?

VIENNA (Reuters) - At a summit in Singapore in early June with U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un pledged to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.

Follow-up talks between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials are due to be held, and Trump said last week, “It will be a total denuclearization, which has already started taking place.”

Assuming denuclearization of North Korea does take place, what would it look like and how much would it cost?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: To denuclearize .... billions of dollars. To convince North Korea that it is in their best interests to denuclearize .... tens of billions (and maybe more).