Sunday, September 30, 2018

Canadian Press Is Reporting That A Deal Has Been Reached On NAFTA

CBC: Canada, U.S. have reached a NAFTA deal, senior Canadian source says

After more than a year of fractious negotiations, a deal has been reached

After more than a year of fractious negotiations, Canada and the U.S. have reached an agreement on key sections of a new NAFTA, a senior source told CBC News.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That A Deal Has Been Reached On NAFTA

The Latest: Trudeau meeting with Cabinet over trade -- AP
Canada reaches 11th-hour NAFTA deal with U.S., Mexico: sources -- CTV
Canada agrees to join trade accord with U.S. and Mexico, sending new NAFTA deal to Congress -- Washington Post
Canada, U.S. reach framework deal on NAFTA: source -- Reuters
Trudeau calls meeting as Canada, US near free trade deal -- AP
As deadline looms, US and Canada close to NAFTA deal -- CNN
'They're in the final strokes': Canada and U.S. make key concessions as deadline looms, sources say -- Financial Post
U.S., Canada said to be close to Nafta deal ahead of midnight deadline -- Market Watch
Trump on cusp of closing biggest trade deal, in late-night NAFTA marathon -- Politico

Russian Media Posts CCTV Footage Of The Explosion That Killed Donbass Leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko Last Month

RT: CCTV footage of explosion that killed Donbass leader released (VIDEO)

Footage of the blast that killed Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has been obtained by the Russian media. The investigators also shared some new details of the incident.

The video, aired by the Russian Rossiya 1 TV channel, shows the CCTV footage of Zakharchenko entering a café in Donetsk, in Eastern Ukraine, surrounded by his bodyguards on August 31, moments before the deadly explosion.

One of his bodyguards was the first to enter the café to check security. It is only then that Zakharchenko himself goes into a small lobby accompanied by another bodyguard. A massive explosion immediately rocks the entire building.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For someone who had a huge entourage of bodyguards, they still could not protect him. This was a well planned and targeted assassination where the bomb was detonated remotely. As to who killed him. The Kremlin is convinced that the Ukraine government was behind this assassination. And in Ukraine, from what I am reading, no one really wants to know.

If you understand Russian, the full report is below:

Norway Has Posted A Map That Shows The Exact Locations Of Its Armed Forces And Secret Installations

© Photo : esri

Sputnik: 'Handy Tool for Foes': Norway Rolls Out Map With Secret Army Facilities

A digital map published by Norwegian authorities shows 239 "no flight" zones where drones are prohibited. It is searchable and includes geographical maps and aerial photos. Experts believe this disclosure can assist foreign intelligence and terrorists.

The Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) has published a digital map showing the exact locations of armed forces facilities, including sensitive antennas and secret installations.

The map shows red marks over objects the authorities previously tried to keep secret, including a facility often referred to as the government's wartime headquarters. Several of the Intelligence Service's facilities are also displayed with exact coordinates.

Read more ....

Update: Norway authorities reveal top secret military sites: report (Xinhuanet)

WNU editor: Why spy on Norway. They just give their top secret information away for nothing. But what is sadly funny about all of this is that it is the Russian and Chinese press that are doing the necessary reporting to bring attention to this story.

Is The U.S. Subsidizing Saudi Arabia's, South Korea's, And Japan's Military?

US President Donald Trump questioned at this rally in West Virginia why his country is "subsidizing" allied militaries

AFP: US 'subsidizing' Saudi, Asia militaries: Trump

President Donald Trump on Saturday complained that the US is "subsidizing" the military of Middle East ally Saudi Arabia, as well as Japan and South Korea.

The comment, at a West Virginia rally for local candidates of his Republican Party, follows similar jibes at European members of the NATO alliance.

"When you have wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, like Japan, like South Korea, why are we subsidizing their military?" asked Trump, who pushes an aggressive "America First" policy on trade.

"They'll pay us. The problem is nobody ever asks."

He added that he had spoken to Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Saturday to make the same point.

Read more ....

Update: Trump: Why are we subsidizing Saudi Arabia's military? (Washington Examiner)

WNU Editor: Saudi Arabia has the third largest defense budget in the world (see here). So no .... the U.S. is not subsidizing Saudi Arabia. But it is true that the U.S. presence in the region is costly, and we are there because protecting Saudi - Gulf state oil supplies is in the long term strategic interest of the United States. As for Japan and South Korea. The case can be made that the U.S. is not being compensated enough for maintaining their forces in these two countries .... but both countries are spending heavily, and they are primarily buying U.S. equipment.

U.S. Marine’s Son Elected Governor In Okinawa Running Against U.S. Base Relocation

Danny Tamaki, the son of a U.S. Marine and Japanese mother, raises his hands with supporters in celebration after he was elected in gubernatorial election in Naha, on the Japanese southern island of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 30, 2018. Kyodo via REUTERS

Reuters: Son of U.S. marine elected Okinawa governor on anti-U.S. base platform

TOKYO (Reuters) - Danny Tamaki, the son of a U.S. Marine and Japanese mother, was elected governor of Japan’s Okinawa island on Sunday on an anti-U.S military presence platform, defeating a candidate backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc, domestic media reported.

Tamaki defeated Atsushi Sakima who ran with the support of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, NHK and Kyodo news agency said.

Public broadcaster NHK showed a jubilant Tamaki and his supporters cheering and dancing after news of his victory.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is going to be no changes (at least in the short to medium term) .... Whatever the result in Okinawa election, US troops are there to stay (Washington Post/SCMP).

More News On Today's Election In Okinawa

Candidate pledging to resist new US military base wins Okinawa election, defeating ruling party’s preferred choice -- SCMP/AP
US Marine’s son wins office in Okinawa running against base relocation -- The Hill
Opponent of U.S. military bases wins Okinawa gubernatorial election -- Washington Post
Anti-US base candidate wins Okinawa governor elections -- RT

Macedonians Do Not Show Up At The Polls To Approve A Change In The Country's Name

Map showing the Greek province of Macedonia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. (AFP Photo/Kun TIAN)

Reuters: Macedonia leader vows to press on with name change despite low referendum turnout

SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonia’s prime minister pledged on Sunday to press on with a vote in parliament to change the country’s name, although his coalition acknowledged a referendum appeared to have failed to secure the 50 percent turnout needed to make it legally valid.

The proposed name change is part of an agreement reached in June by pro-Western Prime Minister Zoran Zaev with Macedonia’s neighbor Greece to resolve a decades-old dispute that had prevented Macedonia from joining NATO or the EU.

With the official turnout tally stuck at 34 percent half an hour before polls closed, a ruling coalition official acknowledged that it seemed unlikely that the 50 percent threshold would be reached. The opposition said the low turnout proved that Macedonians had rejected the name change.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Even with this low turnout (90% approved of the name change), Macedonia's Prime Minister has vowed to press on with a vote in parliament to change the name.

More News On Today's Vote In Macedonia

Low Turnout Threatens The Result Of Macedonia's Vote On Whether To Change Its Name -- NPR
In a blow to the West, most Macedonians sit out vote to unlock NATO and E.U. membership -- Washington Post
Macedonia referendum: Low turnout in name change vote -- BBC
Macedonia PM vows to move on with name change despite referendum failure -- TRT
Macedonia: a decades-long quarrel over a name -- AFP

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Condemns President Trump's 'Bully Behavior'

CBS: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: Trump's "bully" behavior will prompt backlash

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says President Trump's threat of sanctions against European countries continuing to do business in Iran is "unprecedented," comparing his behavior to that of a "bully." He also said it's "still a possibility" that Iran could restart its nuclear program.

"The United States is asking countries to violate international law, and is telling countries and companies that if they observe the law they'll be punished," Zarif told CBS News' John Dickerson in an interview on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week. "This is probably unprecedented, even for a bully, in a town to go to the sheriff's office and tell them, 'If you try not to drop people you are going to be punished.'"

Read more ....

Update: Foreign minister: Pompeo has made 'all the wrong moves against Iran' (The Hill)

WNU Editor: The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accuses Secretary of State Pompeo of making "all the wrong moves" when it comes to Iran. Hmmmm .... I can say the same about him and Iran's approach towards the U.S. for the 40 years.

Euronews Sends A Reporter To Check Out The 'Secret Atomic Warehouse' That Israeli PM Netanyahu Claimed Iran Was Using

Euronews: 'Secret atomic warehouse': The mystery building at the centre of Israeli PM's claim

This is Mehr Alley in Torquzabad, and this is the same building Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said was Iran's secret nuclear warehouse at the UN General Assembly last week.

He asked Yukio Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to inspect the area, which lies just outside Tehran, before it is cleaned up by the Iranians.

But is this place really a secret warehouse where abundant nuclear materials and facilities have been hidden?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Israel is saying that Iran is rushing to hide evidence of its nuclear program .... Iran scrambling to cover up newly revealed nuclear site, Israeli official says (Times Of Israel). But as the above Euro-reporter discovered, for a site that holds (or once held) nuclear material, it is poorly defended.

India And Pakistan Accuse Each Other For Supporting Terrorism At The U.N.

India and Pakistan were scheduled to hold talks at UN, but they were abruptly called off last week [Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]

RFE: India, Pakistan Trade Angry Accusations At UN General Assembly

India's foreign minister has accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists in an angry speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking to the UN gathering on September 29, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj rejected the notion that India is sabotaging peace talks with Pakistan, calling it "a complete lie."

Hours after her speech, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi responded in his speech to the General Assembly by declaring that India "preferred politics over peace."

Swaraj pointed to the fact that Osama bin Laden lived quietly in Pakistan before he was found and killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL team.

Read more ....

More News On India And Pakistan Accusing Each Other For Supporting Terrorism At The U.N.

India, Pakistan Resume Sniping at UN After Meeting Falls Through -- Bloomberg
India and Pakistan clash in UN over terror support -- DW
India, Pakistan trade barbs at UN over failed bid for talks -- Al Jazeera
India's Foreign Minister Accuses Pakistan of Harboring Terrorists -- Time/AP
India behind terrorism in Pakistan, UN told -- Daily Times

Will The U.S. Build A Permanent Military Base In Poland?

L.A. Times: What's in a name? Poland tempts Trump with deal to build permanent military base for U.S. troops

It’s a blockbuster Polish real estate deal, structured to tempt a certain former Manhattan developer who affixes his name to all his properties.

Poland is offering President Trump as much as $2 billion and a long-term lease in an “ideal location” if the United States will build a permanent military base there. But that’s not all: Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested only half-jokingly earlier this month at the White House that the complex should be named “Fort Trump.”

Bypassing the Pentagon and its allies in NATO, Poland is making a naked appeal directly to the man who could seal the deal. But the offer is vexing other nations in the 29-member NATO alliance, who already are reeling from Trump’s repeated broadsides against members who fail to meet self-imposed military spending targets.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Poland has a long history of being invaded form the east and west, so I can understand why many Poles view a major U.S. base within their country as a long-term security guarantee. I can also understand German and Russian concerns. For Germany .... the U.S. may shift some assets from their German bases to Poland. For Russia, it means a closer U.S. military presence to their borders. My prediction .... this U.S. base is going to be built, but it will not house the numbers and equipment that many in Germany and russia are worried about.

Growing Tensions Between Serbia And Kosovo Over Possible Territory Swap

RFE: Thousands Protest In Kosovo Over Possible Serbia Land Swap

PRISTINA -- Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital of Kosovo on September 29 to protest a possible territory swap with Serbia.

Supporters of Kosovo's opposition Self-Determination Party held banners and national Albanian flags as they marched through Pristina toward Skanderbeg Square, chanting "No bargaining with national land!"

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci has mentioned a "border correction" that would bring southern Serbia's Albanian-dominated Presevo Valley into Kosovo.

Read more ....

More News On Growing Tensions Between Serbia And Kosovo A Over Possible Territory Swap

Tension flares in Kosovo over possible land swap with Serbia -- ABC News/AP
Thousands in Kosovo Protest Against 'Border Correction' Proposals -- Balkan Insight
Kosovo president visits disputed area after similar visit by Serbian leader -- Reuters
Serbia puts military on high alert over incident involving ‘Kosovo special forces’ -- RT
Serbian Army Put on High Alert Over Pristina's Actions - Reports -- Sputnik
Serbia's President Vucic to Ask Putin for Support Over Situation in Kosovo -- Sputnik

U.K. To Send 800 Troops To The Arctic

Gavin Williamson visiting UK troops of the NATO eFP battle group in Tapa, Estonia in March Credit: REUTERS

The SUN: Britain will send 800 troops to the Arctic to stop Russia grabbing land as the ice caps melt, Gavin Williamson says

In a warning shot to Russia, Gavin Williamson said the Government was drawing up a 'defence Arctic strategy' with hundreds of commandos being deployed to Norway next year

BRITAIN will send 800 troops to the Arctic next year to stop Russia grabbing land as the ice caps melt.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said ministers were drawing up a new strategy which will see hundreds of commandos being deployed to Norway to deal with the growing threat from Russia "in our back yard".

Read more ....

Update #1: UK sending 800 troops to Arctic in warning shot to Russia (The Telegraph)
Update #2: UK to Send Commandos to Norway to Curb Russian Activity in Arctic – Report (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: Bring warm clothing.

A U.S. - Canada NAFTA Agreement Today?

The Hill: US and Canada working furiously to come to NAFTA agreement

The U.S. and Canada are working furiously to reach an agreement by Sunday, a self-imposed deadline to complete an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

President Trump was prepared to give up on the weekend deadline with Canada because the United States and its largest trading partner still had major issues left to resolve.

Instead, the White House and Mexico on Friday held off on releasing the text of a Mexico-only deal as negotiations ramped up between the U.S. and Canada in a effort to meet the deadline.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is the Canadian side that is pushing the news story that a NAFTA agreement may be reached today. I do not share this optimism, but the deadline is today, and they surprise us by announcing an agreement later tonight (or first thing tomorrow morning).

More News On Reports That Canada And the U.S. May Reach A NAFTA Agreement Today

Canada and U.S. close to reaching NAFTA deal this weekend, but key sticking points remain -- National Post/Bloomberg
Canada, U.S. make progress in bid to save NAFTA, no deal yet: sources -- Reuters
US, Canada likely to conclude NAFTA talks this weekend: report -- FOX News
Canada's race against time with US to reach NAFTA deal -- AFP
The NAFTA deadline is Sunday. What happens if there’s no deal? -- VOX

America's Culture Wars: Kanye West Delivers Pro-Trump Speech On ‘SNL’

Daily Beast: Kanye West Delivers Pro-Trump Rant on ‘SNL,’ Gets Booed By Audience

The rapper/entrepreneur delivered a pro-Trump speech in a red MAGA hat after his final performance—one that didn’t make it to air.

Following his performance of “Ghost Town” during the 44th season premiere of Saturday Night Live, Kanye West, sporting a red Make America Great Again hat in support of President Donald Trump, went on one of his typical rants.

The bizarre lecture occurred off-air, after his performance, where he was joined by Kid Cudi and 070 Shake, and was cut for time—but comedian Chris Rock, who was in the audience at Studio 8H in New York City, was able to capture part of it on his Instagram.

Read more ....

Update: WATCH: Kayne West delivers thunderous pro-Trump rant on the set of ‘SNL,’ crowd boos and jeers (The Blaze)

WNU Editor: Kanye West calls for a dialogue between both sides in America, but the American media labels it as a “bizarre rant”. And yes .... many in the media see this as a bizarre rant (thereby making Kayne Wets's point on how biased they have become). But what was surprising to me was that in the boos there were also a lot of cheers, and in the liberal bastion of New York City I was not expecting this. America's cultural wars have always been dominated and dictated from the progressive left, but it looks like there is a change afoot (albeit a small one), and it will impact U.S. politics.

Update #2: President Trump has reacted (see below).

Is President Trump's Doctrine Focused On Fighting The World?

Image: U.S. President Donald Trump sits behind his desk as he announces a bilateral trade agreement with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Doug Bandow, National Interest: America Is Determined to Fight the World

Boosted by its victory in the Cold War, the United States has allowed hubris to dominate its foreign-policy decision making.

The United States sanctioned Beijing for purchasing Russian military equipment. Does the administration really believe that China will cancel the deal because of American economic pressure? Yet again Washington has deftly pushed the People’s Republic of China toward Russia, encouraging an unnatural friendship, even alliance.

America is the world’s strongest, most dominant nation. However, its power has become a problem. Hubris conquered Washington. Today the Trump administration appears determined to go to war, military, political, and/or economic, with virtually every other state.

Washington’s arrogance has been long building. During the Cold War the United States was necessarily constrained. Moscow could match U.S. military force, sported numerous allies in Europe and elsewhere, and challenged America ideologically. Although the Soviet Union was weaker than commonly believed—the CIA consistently overestimated the USSR’s economic strength—Moscow could counter the United States when important Soviet interests were involved.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The above author's commentary is in sync with much of the Washington foreign establishment. They believe that America's role in foreign affairs should be one of accommodation, compromise, coalition building, mediation, and generosity. They definitely do not favor the current White House policy and strategy. As to what is my point of view. I do not see President Trump's policy as one that is determined to fight the world, but one that is primarily and exclusively focused on protecting and advancing American interests. This may be a radical departure of past U.S. foreign policy, but it is also one that is quite frankly practiced by almost every nation in the world. And while I sympathize with my progressive friends that their liberal idealism of the world order is now coming to an end .... I do understand the reason why .... the U.S. can no longer afford it, and more importantly, a growing segment of the American public now want nothing to do with it.

The F-35's Combat Debut In Afghanistan A Terrible Waste Of Taxpayer Money?

1st Class Isaac Berwick launches an F-35B Lightning II aboard the USS Essex (LHD 2) in preparation for the F-35B's first combat strike, Sept. 27, 2018. US Navy

Paul Szoldra, Business Insider/Task & Purpose: The F-35's combat debut in Afghanistan was a terrible waste of taxpayer money

* The F-35B made its combat debut in Afghanistan on Thursday, dropping more than $40,000 worth of bombs on a mined weapons cache that ground forces were unable to clear.
* For a target as insignificant as this, a Predator drone would've done just fine, or perhaps it could've been punted to an Afghan Air Force pilot.
* So why the hell is a super-expensive, fifth-generation, stealth-with-all-the-bells-and-whistles aircraft being used to drop bombs presumably on a bunch of AK-47's and RPGs?

I got a little bit more out of the military public affairs types on the recent "combat debut" of the F-35B in Afghanistan, and it turns out the $115 million stealth aircraft was used to obliterate a static cache of enemy weaponry.

Now, I originally intended to use this column to criticize the U.S. Marine Corps for putting together what appeared to be a big, taxpayer-funded PR stunt. Indeed, my inbox was inundated with press releases, photos, and video from the strike that the service clearly wanted (and subsequently got) covered in the media.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Using an F-35B to drop $40,000 worth of bombs to destroy a mined weapons cache that anyone else could have done .... so yes .... this was a terrible waste of money that was just done to make the boast that the F-35B is now combat ready.

China's Defense Ministry Warns Against Forged Data And Plagiarism In Science And Technology Research

SCMP: Chinese military warns against forged data and plagiarism in science and technology research

Academics have been put on notice to maintain ‘integrity of scientific research’ as rampant misconduct puts lives at risk

China’s military top brass have released research integrity guidelines urging leaders in charge of the country’s defence-related science and technology research to avoid forgery, plagiarism and other wrongdoing.

The guidelines published on Friday are the first indication that China’s defence industry faces a forgery problem similar to that found in the academic community – including feigning scientific data, plagiarising subordinates’ study results, exaggerating study achievements and other misconduct.

The guidelines have been proposed by the Science and Technology Commission, a functional department directly under the powerful Central Military Commission headed by President Xi Jinping, which is in charge of China’s military defence technology research and development.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My brother works as a researcher in the Bay area. He has told me more than once that no one he knows trusts the medical research and data that is coming out of China. I can only presume that this sloppiness also exists in the defense industry .... if not more so because of demands for progress from Beijing.

Do China And The U.S. Really Know Each Other’s Intentions In The South China Sea?

Mark J. Valencia, SCMP: South China Sea: how well do China and the US really know each other’s intentions?

Mark J. Valencia says Washington and Beijing both act as though they know what the other wants in the South China Sea, but may be falling victim to worst-case thinking that risks further conflict

The visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia signals a new era of competition between the United States and China in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea.

China critics in the US frequently warn of what they assume are China’s dangerous intentions regarding the South China Sea – and what it may do to achieve its goals. They say it wants to dominate the sea militarily as part of its ambitious and aggressive expansionism and that, therefore, it will continue to militarise the features it occupies and undertake major naval exercises there.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am not worried about U.S. - China miscalculations. I am more concerned about miscalculations between China and its neighbors. These are the countries that are on the front line, and there is a lomg history of confrontation and conflict.

U.S. Warship Sails Near Contested Islands In The South China Sea

Ships of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sail in formation during bilateral training in the South China Sea, Aug. 31. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Kaila V. Peters)

CNN: US Navy sails past contested islands in South China Sea amid U.S.-China tensions

The United States sailed a warship close to disputed islands in the South China Sea on Sunday, a move that is bound to draw the ire of Beijing and comes amid heightened US-China tensions over a broad range of issues.

Two US officials told CNN that the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of what the US Navy calls "freedom of navigation operations," which are meant to enforce the right of free passage in international waters.

"US Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including the South China Sea. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows," a US defense official told CNN.

Read more ....

Update: U.S. warship sails near disputed South China Sea islands: U.S. official (Reuters)

WNU Editor: This appears to be a follow up on this weeks B-52 flights in the region .... U.S. flies bombers over South China Sea amid heightened tensions with Beijing (Reuters)

India To Sign S-400 Missile Deal During Vladimir Putin’s Visit Next Week

Russian servicemen drive S-400 missile air defence systems during the Victory Day parade, at Red Square in Moscow.(Reuters/File Photo)

Hindustan Times: Amid US sanctions, India set to sign S-400 missile deal during Vladimir Putin’s visit next week

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between PM Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping for a US sanction waiver, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping that it has done enough business with the US to secure a waiver from sanctions, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

Hindustan Times had first reported in April that the deal would be signed during the October summit and, in May, that New Delhi would go ahead with the purchase despite US sanctions against countries buying arms from Russia.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Pakistan is raising its objections .... Russia-India S-400 air defence systems deal problematic: Pakistan (The Nation).

More News On India's Agreement To Purchase Russia's S-400 Missile System

India approves S-400 buy from Russia, amid expectations for more bilateral deals -- Defense News/AP
India Likely To Sign $6 Billion Missile Deal During Putin Visit Next Week -- NDTV/Bloomberg
India finalizes S-400 Russian air defense missile system deal -- Army Recognition
Defense Deals Worth $10Bln on the Cards During India-Russia Annual Summit -- Sputnik

China's Economy Shows Signs Of Slowing Down

SCMP/Reuters: China economy shows fresh signs of cooling amid US trade war

Export orders drop at fastest rate in over two years, according to latest data that suggests US tariffs may be starting to bite.

Growth in China’s factory sector stalled in September after 15 months of expansion, with export orders falling the fastest in over two years, a private survey showed on Sunday, suggesting US tariffs are starting to inflict a heavier toll on the Chinese economy.

A separate, official survey confirmed a further weakening in Chinese manufacturing last month, with domestic and export demand also softening, though its headline reading still pointed to some growth.

Taken together, the business activity gauges – the first major readings on China’s economy for September – confirm consensus views that the world’s second-largest economy is continuing to cool, which is likely to prompt Chinese policymakers to roll out more growth support measures in coming months.

Read more ....

Update: China manufacturing weakens amid US tariff battle (AP)

WNU Editor: U.S. tariffs are only impacting China's economy now. These Chinese economic numbers are more of a reflection of tighter debt and lending practices by Chinese banks. When the full impact of U.S. tariffs hit, these economic numbers are going to far worse. As to how the Chinese government is handling this bad news. They are admitting they are facing tough times to people outside of China .... China's second-in-command: We're facing 'greater difficulties' in keeping economy stable (CNBC), but censoring it within China .... China increases censorship of bad economic news (The Bulletin/New York Times Service).

F-35B Lands On A British Aircraft Carrier For The First Time

Defense One: F-35 Lands on New British Carrier for First Time

The fighter jets are conducting trials with the ship off the U.S. east coast.

ABOARD THE HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN — The expansive flight deck of the United Kingdom’s newest aircraft carrier is largely empty as it steams along the U.S. coastline on its first deployment.

Two fighter jets, U.S.-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, sit waiting to race down the ship’s runway. Unlike American aircraft carriers, which use catapults to launch their warplanes, the Queen Elizabeth has a large ramp — called a ski jump — to help heavy, bomb-laden aircraft leap from the flight deck.

“We’ve come across to the eastern seaboard of the United States to conduct the first developmental test trials with the F-35B,” said Commodore Andrew Betton, commander of the U.K.’s Carrier Strike Group. “It’s the first time, anywhere in the world, that we’ve brought together a fifth-gen fighter with a fifth-gen aircraft carrier. So designed and built from the keel up to support these fifth-gen jets.”

Read more ....

More News On An F-35B Landing On A British Aircraft Carrier For The First Time

Video: WATCH: First look at F-35 flight operations on the HMS Queen Elizabeth -- Defense News
Here Are Some Photographs of the F-35B Lightning Jets Landing on (and Launching From) Britain’s Newest Carrier for the First Time -- The Aviationist
Britain regains carrier strike capability as F-35 stealth jets touch down on HMS Queen Elizabeth -- The Telegraph
First F-35Bs Operate off of HMS Queen Elizabeth as U.K. Works Toward a Native Carrier Strike Group -- USNI News
British fighter jets land aboard HMS Elizabeth in 'monumental moment' -- SKY News
After Eight Years, Royal Navy Welcomes Back Carrier-Based Jets -- Maritime Executive
Touchdown! First Royal Navy pilot to land an F-35B stealth fighter on Britain's brand new £3.1bn HMS Queen Elizabeth tells his incredible story -- Daily Mail

Tweets For Today

Canadian Soldiers Can Now Grow A Beard And Smoke Marijuana When Not On Duty

Canadian Armed Forces

Task & Purpose: You Can Now Grow A Beard And Get Stoned AF In The Canadian Military

The U.S. military dangles cash bonuses and post-military college money to entice recruits into the service. Meanwhile, the Canadian military has beards and weed.

As Chad Garland of Stars & Stripes reports, a new rule took effect on Tuesday allowing all members of the Canadian military to rock a beard as long as they can grow more than just peach fuzz. “A member will … shave off unsuccessful attempts to grow a beard,” the policy says.

The policy also says Canadian soldiers with beard-growing genes will need to have a mustache as well, keep their fur neatly trimmed, and not let it “exceed two centimeters in bulk.” Sadly, that last requirement means that although beards are okay, soldiers will not be able to attempt Chad Garland-esque levels of beard-growing.

It also allows commanders to restrict facial hair if operations require it.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. military offers cash bonuses to entice recruits .... the Canadian military permits you to have a beard and to smoke pot. If I had a choice, I would take the cash.

Picture Of The Day

Residents stand in front of a damaged shopping mall after an earthquake hit Palu, Sulawesi Island, Indonesia September 29, 2018. Antara Foto/Rolex Malaha via REUTERS

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Earthquake and tsunami devastate Indonesian island (Reuters). More pictures can be seen from here .... Aerial footage shows tsunami destruction in Sulawesi – in pictures (The Guardian).

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Indonesia Tsunami Disaster -- News Updates September 30, 2018

Daily Mail: Drone footage shows Indonesia tsunami devastation after 10ft wave wipes out a beach festival - sweeping away partygoers, obliterating two towns and killing 384

* WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Almost 400 are dead and 540 injured after a 6.1 magnitude tremor hit the central Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday followed by a massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake
* Indonesia's disaster agency's Sutopo Purwo Nugroho withdrew an earlier warning to residents of a tsunami
* But three hours later Indonesia's geophysics agency said there had been one, and hundreds have now died
* The cities of Palu and Donggala were struck by 10ft waves which demolished houses and swept away car

The devastating impact of a huge tsunami in the Indonesian city of Palu has been revealed in chilling aerial photographs - in a natural disaster estimated to have killed at least 384 people.

The tsunami, which was triggered after a magnitude-7.5 earthquake, ripped through the Pacific Ring of Fire and crashed into the Palu at 500mph, causing widespread destruction.

Indonesian media, citing the national disaster agency, said Saturday that a further 540 people were injured in Palu City alone, on the the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Read more ....

Indonesia Tsunami Disaster -- News Updates September 30, 2018

The Latest: Tsunami-hit Indonesia shopping mall being looted -- AP
Indonesia tsunami death toll nears 400, expected to rise -- AP
Indonesia searches for survivors after powerful quake, tsunami -- Reuters
Indonesia tsunami: Aftershocks rock Palu day after disaster -- BBC
Indonesia tsunami: cries for help from rubble amid fears thousands dead -- The Guardian
Tsunami kills hundreds in Indonesia's Sulawesi after earthquake -- DW
Hundreds dead as quake, tsunami hit Indonesia's Sulawesi -- Al Jazeera
When tsunamis strike: five deadliest disasters -- AFP

The U.S. Army Wants a Super-Light ATV To Transport Troops

Image: Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Fries (U.S. Army)

FoxTrot Alpha: The U.S. Army Wants a Super-Light ATV to Ferry Troops on the Battlefield

The U.S. Army is looking for a new vehicle to quickly transport troops across the battlefield. Qualified applicants must carry nine fully-armed infantry soldiers, work after being pushed out of an airplane, and enjoy a road speed of 55 mph. And no armor either. Wait, what?

The Army recently released a market survey for what it’s calling the Infantry Squad Vehicle, or ISV. The ISV is meant to be an ultra-light vehicle capable of hauling troops across the battlefield. Unlike other vehicles, the ISV is merely a people hauler and won’t actually do any fighting.

Still, the emphasis on light weight and mobility—at the expense of any sort of protection—is sort of an eyebrow-raiser.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Speed without protection. Some trade-off.

China's Copy Of A Russian Jet Keeps On Crashing, And Russia Is Not Bothered By It

A People's Liberation Army Navy Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark jet fighter. CCTV

National Interest: Russia Is Mocking China For Screwing Up The Fighter Jet They Stole

Cheaters never prosper, says Russia.

Remember that Russian carrier-based jet that China copied without permission? Those airplanes are crashing, and Russia doesn’t seem too broken up about it.

Though Russia and China are now friends, even holding joint exercises, Russia’s Sputnik News recently trotted out an article titled “Chinese Navy Short on Carrier-Based Fighters, Only Has Problem-Ridden J-15. ”

The J-15 is an unlicensed copy of Russia’s Su-33 carrier jet, which is a 1980s derivative of the Su-27K land-based fighter. China had acquired a T-10K-3, an Su-33 prototype, from Ukraine and then reverse-engineered it.

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WNU Editor: There is some poetic justice at play here.

China Conducts 'Live Fire' Drills In The South China Sea

Live-fire drills being carried out by Chinese fighter jets and bombers in the South China Sea, September 28, 2018. CCTV via People's Daily China/Twitter

Business Insider: Days after multiple US bomber flights, Chinese warplanes did 'live fire shooting drills' in the South China Sea as tensions in the region boil

* Chinese fighter and bomber aircraft carried out live-fire drills in the South China Sea this weekend, state media said.
* The exercises come days after US bombers flew through the area with Japanese fighter jets — one of several recent overflights by US planes.
* Activity over the South China Sea has increased amid heightened tension between China and the US.

A few days after multiple US bomber flights over the disputed waters of the South China Sea, fighters and bombers from the Chinese military carried out live-fire exercises over the same area — the latest round of drills in a period of increasing tension between the two countries.

Aircraft from the Southern Theater command of the People's Liberation naval air force conducted "live fire shooting drills" at a sea range in the South China Sea, according to the People's Daily official newspaper, which released photos from a broadcast by state-run CCTV.

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WNU Editor: China is trying to intimidate everyone with these "live fire drills", as well as reassuring the Chinese population that Beijing will not back-down. The problem for China is that I do not think it is working.

China Moves To Develop Precision Nuclear Warheads That Are Unstoppable

SCMP: China takes step towards precision warheads for unstoppable nuclear weapon, state media says

Three hypersonic aircraft designs tested with adjustable speed, enabling better flight control and improved aiming accuracy.

China takes step towards precision warheads for unstoppable nuclear weapon, state media says

Three hypersonic aircraft designs tested with adjustable speed, enabling better flight control and improved aiming accuracy

Tests of three scaled-down models of “wide-speed-range vehicles”, which can fly at from hypersonic velocity to lower than the speed of sound, were carried out on September 21 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

In the news footage, three models representing differently shaped designs, code named D18-1S, D18-2S and D18-3S, were lifted and then dropped from a balloon.

This was China’s first test of this type of hypersonic aircraft, whose speed will be adjustable, meaning its scientists are working on another major aim – precision strike – towards an unstoppable nuclear-capable weapon.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese are definitely pushing hard to develop these weapons platforms.

Alcohol Is A Global Killer

ABC News Online: The country where a quarter of all deaths are due to booze (and how we compare)

If you thought Aussies hit the bottle a bit too hard, then spare a thought for the small country of Moldova.

Nestled between Ukraine and Romania, this patch of Europe may be landlocked but its residents seem to have no problem finding ways to wet their whistle.

In fact, it has the highest proportion of deaths relating to alcohol of any country in the world, according to the latest World Health Organisation report.

More than a quarter — 26.1 per cent — of all deaths there in 2016 were attributable to booze.

This compares to 4.6 per cent in Australia and a global average of 5.3 per cent.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: According to the above report .... Moldova is number one. Russia is number two. All that I can say is that I have had two car accidents in my life. One in Russia .... I was hit by a drunk driver. The second time was in Moldova .... again I was hit by a drunk driver. But aside from my own personal history .... it is true that in Russia alcohol related deaths are a major problem. Russians are big into binge drinking .... it is their way to escape from the world.

China Working To Develop A Crack Anti-Terror Force That Can Operate At Home And Abroad

President Xi Jinping presents a new flag to the "Falcon Commando Unit," an elite police counter-terror brigade under the the Special Police Academy of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force, in Beijing on Wednesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Reuters: China eyes anti-terror force to protect overseas interests

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is working to develop a first-class, crack anti-terror force that can operate at home and abroad and protect the country’s overseas interests, a senior Chinese officer said in comments carried by state media on Saturday.

In late 2015, China passed a new anti-terrorism law that allows the military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations, though experts have said Beijing faces big practical and diplomatic problems to actually execute such an action.

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WNU Editor: Chinese President Xi has been pushing for the establishment of such forces for years .... Xi calls for better anti-terror forces (China Daily/Xinhua). But the problem has always been the same. China does not have many international allies who would be willing to accept such a foreign military presence on their soil.

Here Is What Is Believed To Be The Only Joint US Special Forces-Russian Spetsnaz Combat Mission In History

While the joint Russian-American mission was on patrol in Kosovo, they ran across some Swedish Rangers (Jaegers) one of which took this picture showing three ODA members (top left) and three Spetsnaz soldiers. The other soldiers are Swede.

Jack Murphy, Newsrep: US Special Forces and Russian Spetsnaz: Their first, and only, joint combat operation

Many books have been written and several movies made about America’s Green Berets, the Special Forces, but it is incredible how many stories about these warriors are obscure if not lost to history entirely. The history of Special Forces is in many ways a living history, and the only way to learn it, is to talk to the men directly involved. One such example comes in the form of what is believed to be the only joint US Special Forces-Russian Spetsnaz combat mission in history.

It happened in the winter and into the spring of 2001, months prior to the the events of September 11th, which of course changed the trajectory of US Special Operations Forces forever. This was a time in which the Green Berets were not as widely known by the public and not so often reported on by the press. Special Forces members deployed around the world training foreign militaries, and sometimes on more quiet, classified operations. However, combat was very rare for these troops. Technically, it was peacetime. But in the 1990’s, war had again visited Europe in the Balkans, and Special Forces were deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo.

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WNU Editor: A fascinating story. But is this the first and only joint combat mission? My gut tells me otherwise, especially after 9/11.

Where Has Israel Hide Its Arsenal Of Nuclear Weapons?


Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: Israel Could Have As Many As 300 Nuclear Weapons. And This Is Where They Hide Many of Them.

Many could be underwater.

A closer avenue for attack would lie in the Persian Gulf, but this would involve transiting the submarines through the Suez Canal (controlled by Egypt), around Africa (impractically far for the Dolphin-class), or stationing some at the naval base at Eilat, which faces the Gulf of Aqaba on the southern tip of Israel and is surrounded by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In short, deploying Israeli submarines to Iran’s southern flank would require some degree of cooperation and logistical support from other Middle Eastern states that might not be forthcoming in a crisis scenario.

Israel has never officially admitted to possessing nuclear weapons.

Unofficially, Tel Aviv wants everyone to know it has them, and doesn’t hesitate to make thinly-veiled references to its willingness to use them if confronted by an existential threat. Estimates on the size of Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile range from 80 to 300 nuclear weapons, the latter number exceeding China’s arsenal.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Where these weapons are hidden is probably Israel's most important military secret. Israel is also not hesitant to warn foes on the consequences if war does break out .... Israel threatens to use nuclear weapons to ‘wipe out’ its enemies (Middle East Monitor), while at the same time hardening its own nuclear sites from possible threats .... Israel says it’s reinforcing its nuclear sites because of Iranian threats (Times of Israel).

The F-35 Fighter Jet Is Getting Cheaper To Build

Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp’s factory located in Fort Worth, Texas. Lockheed Martin photo.

Defense News: F-35 price falls below $90M for first time in new deal

WASHINGTON — The price of a conventional F-35A model has fallen below $90 million for the first time through a deal announced Sept. 28 between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin.

The Defense Department’s F-35 Joint Program Office and F-35 prime contractor Lockheed have finalized an $11.5 billion contract for the 11th batch of F-35s. The deal comprises 141 new jets and follows a handshake deal between the two parties that was announced in July.

The agreement pushes the cost of the F-35A conventional model — used by the U.S. Air Force and most foreign buyers — to $89.2 million per aircraft, a 5.4 percent reduction from the $94.3 million in the 10th batch of aircraft.

Read more ....

More News On The F-35 Fighter Jet Getting Cheaper To Build

Lockheed agrees to cut price for new F-35 fighter jets: Pentagon -- Reuters
Price of Air Force's F-35 dips below $90M for first time -- The Hill
Pentagon, Lockheed Martin Agree to New F-35 Contract -- USNI News
Lockheed Martin cuts F-35 price in latest contract with Pentagon -- Washington Examiner
Lockheed Martin, Pentagon Strike New F-35 Deal at Lowest Prices Yet -- DoD Buzz
Lockheed Lowers Price Of F-35 Under $90M In New Contract -- Forbes

North Korean Foreign Minister: Will Not Abandon Nuclear Weapons If It Cannot Get Trust-Building Concessions From The U.S.

The North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, said his country had “reasons to distrust” the United States. He spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday. Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

New York Times: ‘No Way’ North Korea Will Denuclearize Without U.S. Concessions

North Korea’s foreign minister said on Saturday that there was “no way we will denuclearize” without getting so-called trust-building concessions from the United States, an assertion that reflected a continuing divide over efforts to ease nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“Without any trust in the United States, there will be no confidence in our national security, and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first,” the North Korean minister, Ri Yong-ho, told the United Nations General Assembly.

The United States has called for North Korea to surrender all of its nuclear capabilities first, before other issues can be negotiated. The North insists it needs reciprocal concessions from the United States, including the lifting of crippling economic sanctions and an official declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War has ended.

Speaking to world leaders who had gathered for the General Assembly, Mr. Ri expressed a “firm determination to turn the Korean Peninsula into a land of peace” but said the American-backed sanctions were a “hostile policy.”

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WNU Editor: The only thing that the North Koreans have given-up has been a suspension of missile and nuclear testing. In my book the onus is on North Korea to provide trust-building measures, specifically to South Korea.

More News On The North Korean Foreign Minister Declaring That The Country Will Not Abandon Nuclear Weapons If It Cannot Get Trust-Building Concessions From The U.S.

North Korea says 'no way' will disarm unilaterally without trust -- Reuters
N. Korea FM: Peace possible, but only if US ends hostility -- AP
North Korea: 'No way' we will disarm without trust in US -- The Hill
NKorea: US needs to build our trust, and sanctions lower it -- AP
North Korea says there is 'no way' it will give up nuclear weapons without trust -- The Independent
North Korean foreign minister says country will never disarm nuclear weapons without trust in US -- FOX News
No unilateral disarmament while US prevents trust building with coercive methods – North Korea -- RT

The U.S. Navy Is Worried About This Russian Nuclear Submarine


National Interest: Russia's Most Advanced (And Stealthly) Nuclear Submarine Ever Just Went to Sea

And the navy is worried, and for good reason.

Russia’s second Severodvinsk-class submarine K-561 Kazan , which is a modified Project 08851 Yasen-M design, went to sea for the first time for builder’s trials on September 24.

The massive nuclear-powered guided missile submarine (SSGN) was designed by the Malachite design bureau in St. Petersburg and was built in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk. Kazan was launched on April 8, 2027, and was originally expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy this December, but construction work on the vessel was delayed. At present, Kazan is not expected to be delivered to the Russian Northern Fleet until at least 2019. Nonetheless, the Russian vessel is expected to be the most formidable enemy submarine the United States Navy has ever faced.

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WNU Editor: The Russians want a capable submarine fleet. It looks like they are accomplishing it.

US-China Security Meeting Next Month May Be Cancelled Due To Current Tensions

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the Chinese delegation listen to U.S. President Donald Trump address the U.N. Security Council meeting at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Reuters: 'Turbulence' in ties threatens U.S.-China security meeting

BEIJING (Reuters) - A key diplomatic and security meeting between China and the United States next month may not take place due to tensions in relations, sources briefed on the matter said, potentially the latest casualty of worsening ties.

Beijing and Washington are locked in a spiraling trade war that has seen them level increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports.

Friction between the world’s top two economies is now moving beyond trade, with U.S. President Donald Trump accusing Beijing this week of seeking to interfere in congressional elections, marking what U.S. officials told Reuters was a new phase in an escalating campaign by Washington to put pressure on China.

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WNU Editor:  Friction between U.S. and China are now moving beyond trade. This security meeting is not going to happen next month.