Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Even The Pope Can Get Angry

WNU Editor: She did yank him.

Angolan Court Seizes Assets Of Africa's Richest Woman Isabel dos Santos

Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, speaks to journalists before being sworn in as chief executive of state oil firm Sonangol in Luanda, Angola, June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Ed Cropley/File Photo

DW: Court seizes assets of Africa's richest woman Isabel dos Santos

A court in Angola has ordered the bank accounts of ex-President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' daughter to be frozen. An anti-corruption drive launched by his successor has targeted the former first family's assets.

Angola's public prosecutor said on Tuesday that bank accounts held by Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, have been frozen in accordance with a court order.

The court was acting in a graft investigation looking at alleged irregularities involving state companies, including the oil giant Sonangol which Isabel dos Santos used to run, and a diamond-marketing firm, Sodiam.

"The state through its companies ... transferred enormous quantities of foreign currency to companies abroad whose beneficiaries are the defendants, without receiving the agreed return," the court said in its order, dated December 23.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: She is no longer in Angola, and my gut is telling me that she is not coming back.

More News On An Angolan Court Seizing The Assets Of Africa's Richest Woman

Angola court orders seizure of Isabel dos Santos' assets -- BBC
Angola hits 'Princess' dos Santos with asset freeze -- Reuters
Angola Court Freezes Assets Held by Africa’s Richest Woman: Reports -- Bloomberg
Assets of Africa's richest woman frozen -- 7 News

Kim Jong Un: North Korea Ending Nuclear And Missile Test Moratoriums

In this picture released today by North Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Un can be seen smiling during a party conference in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang

The Guardian: Kim Jong-un signals North Korea will resume nuclear missile tests

The dictator says Washington’s ‘gangster-like demands’ meant self-imposed ban was no longer needed

Kim Jong-un has signalled that North Korea will lift its moratoriums on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests in a move likely to anger Donald Trump.

The North Korean leader told a four-day meeting of party officials in Pyongyang that the test ban, which Kim agreed to in talks with the US president, was no longer needed, state media said on Wednesday.

Kim also reportedly said his country planned to introduce a “new strategic weapon” in the near future.

North Korea has previously fired missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland and has carried out six nuclear tests.

Read more ....

More News On Kim Jong Un Saying That North Korea Is Ending It's Nuclear And Missile Test Moratoriums

Kim vows to show new N. Korean weapon, never trade security -- AP
Kim says North Korea to show 'new strategic weapon' in near future -- Reuters
Kim Jong Un: North Korea ending test moratoriums -- AFP
North Korea's Kim says world will soon witness 'new strategic weapon' -- France 24
North Korea Is No Longer Bound by Nuclear Test Moratorium, Kim Says -- The New York Times
North Korea's Kim ends freeze of nuclear and missile tests -- Al Jazeera
N.K. leader says scope and depth of bolstering nuclear deterrent will depend on U.S. attitude -- Yonhap News Agency
Kim Jong-un warns 'impudent' US they face 'shocking action' unless Trump relaxes 'gangster-like' sanctions -- Daily Mail
North Korea won’t stop nuclear expansion in face of US threat - but US attitude adjustment can work wonders, Kim says -- RT
North Korea's Kim Slams Trump's "Gangster-Like Demands", Warns Of "New Strategic Weapon" -- Zero Hedge
Kim Jong Un Ends Testing Moratorium And Threatens To Unveil New "Strategic Weapon" (Updated) -- The Drive

Is The The Picture To Close Out The Decade?

New York Times Under Fire For Claiming Thousands Of Organized Iranian- Backed Militia Fighters Storming The US Embasssy In Iraq Were Grieving “Mourners”

FOX News: NY Times tweet on 'Iraqi mourners' storming Baghdad embassy prompts backlash online

The New York Times if facing backlash for referring to the violent protestors who tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday as "Iraqi mourners."

Crowds of angry Iraqis protesting America's recent airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia laid siege to the U.S. Embassy compound, chanting "Down, Down USA!" as they stormed through a main gate, prompting U.S. guards to fire tear gas in response.

However, the Times offered a more sympathetic description of the mob.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What the New York Times saw is different from what I saw. Today's attack against the US embassy in Iraq was extremely well organized, with many of the top militia leadership present. These "mourners" were also armed with Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades, and most were wearing their militia uniforms.

Iraqi Security Forces Turned A Blind Eye During Attack On US Embassy In Baghdad

Washington Examiner: ‘How did they get so close?’: Analysts ask if Iraqi security forces turned a blind eye during attack on US Embassy in Baghdad

An Iranian-controlled militia couldn’t have breached the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad without the tacit acquiescence of some Iraqi security forces, according to American government sources and analysts.

“It shows just how fragile that relationship is with the U.S. and Iraq,” a U.S. government source who has worked in Baghdad told the Washington Examiner. "It's not an Iraqi government, it's an Iranian satellite.”

Such frustrations have simmered for months amid rocket attacks on bases that house American troops in Iraq. The attacks were launched by Iranian-controlled militias that are supposed to report to the Iraqi central government. Those tensions erupted Tuesday when the militias succeeded in breaching the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Iraqi official who was recently appointed to be responsible for the security in the Green Zone is a friend of Iranian Quds General Qassem Soleimani .... Was Iran Involved In Today's Attack On The U.S. Embassy In Baghdad? Iran's fingerprints are all over this attack.

100 US Marines And Apache Helicopters Deployed To Reinforce U.S. Embassy In Baghdad After Iraqi Protesters Storm Gates

Daily Mail: Trump says Iran 'will pay a very BIG PRICE' after US embassy in Baghdad was attacked by pro-Tehran mob forcing Pentagon to deploy 100 Marines in Chinooks to reinforce the compound

* A swarm of protesters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday
* Militia fighters broke through the compound gate and set fires within the high-security complex
* American soldiers inside the embassy have fired tear gas, stun grenades and warning shots at the fighters
* The ambassador was on leave at the time of the attack and embassy staff had already been evacuated before the US Marine guard became besieged at the compound
* The Pentagon deployed 100 additional Marines to the embassy in Chinook helicopters in wake of attack
* Trump has vowed to hold Tehran accountable for the embassy attack, which is in retaliation for US air strikes on the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah on Sunday night
* Those USAF strikes were themselves in retaliation for last week's killing of an American contractor in Kirkuk
* Trump tweeted Tuesday: 'Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible'
* The embassy's security team evacuated some local staff through a rear gate while others left by helicopter as the rest remained inside 'safe' areas within the embassy, an employee said
* 62 protesters have been reported injured in the carnage by the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces
* The State Department said that all embassy personnel were safe and that no evacuation was planned

Donald Trump announced that the US embassy in Baghdad is safe after some 6,000 pro-Iran militia fighters stormed the compound on Tuesday, set walls ablaze and chanted 'Death to America!' in a violent retaliation for American air strikes.

The president doubled down in his warning to Iran, saying their government will be held 'fully responsible' for the attack that forced the Pentagon to send 100 Marines as reinforcements to the Iraqi embassy.

'The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE! Many of our great Warfighters, together with the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site. Thank you to the President & Prime Minister of Iraq for their rapid response upon request,' Trump tweeted Tuesday evening.

'Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!' he added.

Read more ....

More News On 100 US Marines And Apache Helicopters Deployed To Reinforce The U.S. Embassy In Baghdad

U.S. Sending Troops to Protect Iraqi Embassy Following Protests in Baghdad -- Time/AP
100 Marines from Crisis Response Unit Sent to Secure US Embassy in Iraq -- Military.com
US sending additional forces to protect embassy threatened by protesters in Iraq -- CNN
Baghdad embassy attack: US Marines and Apache helicopters reinforce compound after Iraqi protesters storm gates -- The Independent
Watch: Apache Gunships Attempt To Disperse Iraqi Mob As Kataib Hezbollah Flags Erected Over Embassy Walls -- Zero Hedge
Trump blames Iran for embassy attack as US says all personnel safe -- Reuters
US presses Iraq to protect American personnel after embassy attack: ‘There will be no Benghazis’ -- FOX News
Pompeo speaks with Iraq's prime minister, president after protesters breach US Embassy in Baghdad -- The Hill

Britain Floated NATO Membership For Russia In 1995

First Russian President Boris Yeltsin

Daily Mail: Secret plan to bring Russia in from the cold and make it an 'associate member' of Nato in the 1990s was dismissed as 'farcical' by MPs, memo reveals

* Cabinet held foreign policy discussion on the subject at Chequers in 1995
* Defence secretary Malcolm Rifkind's department said 'integrating Russia into the Western family...' was 'the most difficult problem we face'
* Russia couldn't have full membership and military commitment that went with it
Possible solution was to 'create a new category of associate member' - giving Russia the status to attend meetings

Russia could have been made an 'associate member' of Nato to bring it back into the fold after the Cold War, declassified files reveal.

A discussion of foreign policy at Chequers – the prime minister's countryside retreat – reveals that the prospect was considered by the Cabinet in 1995.

Defence secretary Malcolm Rifkind's department said that 'integrating Russia into the Western family of nations in a realistic and sensitive way' was 'the most difficult problem we face'.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Russia would not have accepted such a proposal. Even if it was serious. Call it pride.

More News On Britain Floating NATO Membership For Russia In 1995

MoD proposed Russian membership of Nato in 1995, files reveal -- The Guardian
National archives: Officials floated 'farcical' idea of Russia joining Nato -- BBC
Secret documents from 1990s reveal ‘farcical’ plans to allow Russia to join Nato -- The Independent
Britain Floated NATO Membership for Russia, Archives Reveal -- Moscow Times
UK Mulled Offering Russia Spot in NATO to Aid Alliance's Expansion to East -- Sputnik

Twenty Years Ago On New Years Eve Vladimir Putin Became Russia's Acting President

Marc Bennetts, Politico: Putin’s Russia, 20 years on

The president’s hold over the country has been absolute — and it’s not over.

MOSCOW — Boris Yeltsin had a reputation for the sensational and the unpredictable, from ordering tanks to shell a rebellious Russian parliament to drunkenly hunting for pizza in Washington in his underwear. But he saved arguably his biggest surprise for last.

Twenty years ago this New Year’s Eve, with six months to go until the end of his final term, an ailing Yeltsin addressed Russia in a special noontime broadcast. “I am leaving. I have done all I could,” he said, his words slurred by ill health and alcohol abuse. “A new generation is coming. They can do more, and better.”

Later that night, as the Kremlin clock ticked down the final minutes of the 1990s, a dour-faced representative of that “new generation” appeared before the nation as Russia’s acting president.

“Like you, I intended this evening to listen to the New Year greetings of President Boris Yeltsin,” said Vladimir Putin, the former state security service chief who had been named prime minister just four months earlier. “But things turned out otherwise.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Twenty years ago this New Year’s Eve an ailing Yeltsin addressed Russia in a special noontime broadcast and said the following .... “I am leaving. I have done all I could”. “A new generation is coming. They can do more, and better.” Twenty years later I can say the same about President Putin right now. He is done all that he can. There is a new generation that is coming. And they can do more, and better. His priority is to prepare Russia for this change until he leaves office in 2024, and like Yeltsin he could do so on his terms.

More News On Russian President Putin

Putin weighs future options as he marks 20 years in power -- AP
Is Vladimir Putin plotting to rule forever after two decades in power? Russia's longest serving leader since Stalin decides how to stay in charge even after term as president ends in 2024 -- Daily Mail
By The Numbers: 20 Years Of Putin's Russia -- RFEL
Vladimir Putin put Russia back on the world map – but his job is as yet unfinished -- Mary Dejevsky, The National
20 years of Putin: From political unknown to dominant force -- Al Jazeera
Putin Predictions of Yore: What the Pundits Thought 20 Years Ago -- Moscow Times
20 Years of Vladimir Putin: Kremlin Releases Never-Before-Seen Photos With Russian President -- Sputnik

In A Phone Call Ukraine President Zelenskiy And Russian President Putin Talked About Natural Gas And Prisoner Deals

Putin and Zelenskyy held face-to-face talks in Paris on December 9 [Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin/Sputnik via Reuters]

Al Jazeera: Russia, Ukraine mulling new prisoner swap: Kyiv

Ukrainian presidency says Kyiv and Moscow are working towards new prisoner exchange, days after swapping 200 captives.

Ukraine and Russia are working towards a new prisoner exchange, just two days after swapping 200 captives, Kyiv said after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke on the phone.

The two countries "agreed to immediately start agreeing on lists [of names] for freeing Ukrainians, including Crimeans, who are in Crimea and in Russia, as well as Russians in Ukraine," the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement on Tuesday.

Read more ....

Update: Putin, Ukraine's leader talk about natural gas, prisoners (AP)

WNU Editor: There are still a lot of differences between the two governments .... Ukraine and Russia Can Deal When They Must But Peace Isn’t Close (Bloomberg). But they are now calling each other. This was not possible when Ukrainian President Poroshenko was in power.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Warns Iran Nuclear Deal In Danger Of ‘Falling Apart’

RFE: Russia's Foreign Minister Says Either Abide By Iran Nuclear Deal Or Kill It

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the United States and the European Union should either comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran, or recognize it as nonexistent.

Lavrov made the comments on December 30 after meeting in Moscow with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said that the European signatories to the deal were "not taking any practical steps" to support it.

The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear activities.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is all for show. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov knows that the deal is dead.

More News On Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Warning The Iran Nuclear Deal Is In Danger Of ‘Falling Apart’

Russia warns Iran nuclear deal in danger of ‘falling apart’ -- AP
Russia warns Iran nuclear deal in danger of 'falling apart': report -- The Hill
Russian FM: Iran nuclear deal in danger of 'falling apart' -- Arutz Sheva
Russian FM urges U.S., EU to make efforts to fulfill Iran deal -- CGTN

China Steps Up Its Warship Building Program

China launches its sixth Type 055 destroyer as its overseas ambitions increase. Photo: Handout

SCMP: China steps up warship building programme as navy looks to extend its global reach

* Latest launches bring total number of PLA Navy ships built this year to 24
* Analysts say new ships have improved quality and capability but country is lagging behind in developing sailors’ technical skills

China is speeding up its warship building programme as its navy extends its reach to cover Beijing’s increasingly far-flung interests.

The latest warships, launched last week, were a Type 055 and a Type 052D, both guided missile destroyers built by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company in Liaoning province.

The ships – China’s sixth Type 055 and, according to mainland media its 23rd Type 052D, were among 24 launched by the PLA Navy in 2019.

At about 12,000 tonnes, the Type 055 class is China’s first guided missile destroyer equipped to hold and fire 112 missiles.

At 8,000 tonnes, the Type 052D has 64 vertical launchers. Typically, such ships require one or two years of outfitting and sea trials before they enter service.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is a good review on China's naval goals earlier this year .... What are China's naval goals? The West can't wait to find out (Carl Schuster, CNN).

Are These The 3 Worst Foreign Policy Disasters Of The 2010s?

Daniel R. DePetris, Foreign Policy: The 3 Worst Foreign Policy Disasters of the 2010s

Will Washington be able to dodge similar mistakes in the 2020’s? This is certainly the hope. But if U.S. officials are too afraid to come to terms with their own-goals over the last decade, they are flirting dangerously with failure.

With the year 2019 coming to a close, the world is poised to enter a brand new decade of promise, opportunity, and unpredictability. None of us have a crystal ball; we can only hope that the next stretch of time is peaceful and prosperous, devoid of the kind of superpower conflagrations that defined the Cold War period.

Progress over the next decade will depend in large measure on our ability to avoid the kinds of self-inflicted wounds that can make our lives hell. For the men and women who have the privilege and weighty responsibility of running U.S. foreign policy in the future, avoiding mistakes means looking back in time and recognizing when judgment was poor and when policy errors were made. There is no better time to perform this exercise than at the end of a calendar year.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I disagree with number two. No deal was signed, and inspectors were denied access to Iranian military installations long suspected of conducting nuclear research and enrichment. This "agreement" also emboldened Iran to become actively engaged in military operations in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, while green lighting military strikes by their allies against Israel and Saudi Arabia. In short, they have become like Saudi Arabia (as outlined in foreign policy disaster #3), but on steroids.

Is The U.S. And Russia Entering A New Nuclear Arms Race?

An Avangard missile test launch in 2018. Source: TASS

Henry Meyer and Jake Rudnitsky, Bloomberg: Putin’s Hypersonic Nuclear Missile Stirs Fears of Arms Race

  * Russia is beating U.S. on defense-evading weapons, Putin said
  * Last U.S.-Russia strategic arms-control pact expires in 2021

A new hypersonic nuclear missile that Russia says it has deployed is fueling concerns of a new arms race with the U.S. as the clock ticks down on the expiry of the last treaty limiting the strategic arsenals of the two former Cold War foes.

Russia’s first regiment of Avangard missiles was commissioned in the Urals region of Orenberg, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Dec. 27, days after President Vladimir Putin boasted that the new weapon could penetrate any defensive shield.

“Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons,” Putin told military chiefs. “They’re trying to catch up with us.”

The Russian leader unveiled the Avangard and five other new-generation weapons in his annual state-of-the-nation address in March 2018, saying it could travel at up to 20 times the speed of sound like a “meteorite” or a “fireball.”

The new weapon has gone into service amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of a landmark 1987 treaty banning deployment of short- and medium-range missiles, accusing Russia of being in breach of its terms. The Kremlin, which withdrew from the pact in response, denied the allegation.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Kremlin is using this new hypersonic nuclear missile to get Washington back to the negotiating table. But considering what is happening in Washington today .... the 2020 elections and impeachment .... I do not think it is a priority right now for the White house.

McLaren Speedtail Versus A F-35 Fighter

Driving: New 'Top Gear' trailer features McLaren Speedtail racing F-35 fighter

The hosts are also taking heat for the way they treated some classic French cars in Nepal during the Christmas special

While the old Top Gear hosts are piloting boats up the Mekong River over on Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour, the new Top Gear hosts are pitting fighter jets against McLarens, bungee-jumping in British cabriolets and ragging on classic French cars in Nepal.

Yup, there should be plenty of motoring shenanigans to watch this year.

In a trailer for the 28th season of Top Gear, hosts Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff can be seen performing and/or preparing for all sorts of wild stunts, including lining up a Rover for a bungee jump down the face of a massive dam and racing a McLaren Speedtail against an F-35 fighter jet on an airstrip.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The clip of the F-35 vs. a McLaren is at the 31 second mark in the above video. It lasts only a few seconds.

Was Iran Involved In Today's Attack On The U.S. Embassy In Baghdad?

WNU Editor: Here is the evidence that Iran was behind today's storming of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and on how these protesters got into the Green Zone. A zone that is suppose to be heavily protected.

Update: More evidence that Iran is involved.

Update: The US Marines looked calm.

U.S. Embassy Under Attack By Pro-Iranian Militia Members In Baghdad

Daily Mail: Donald Trump vows to hold Iran 'fully responsible' for attack on US embassy in Baghdad: Under-siege American soldiers fire at pro-Tehran Hezbollah mob and wound 20 as Iraqis storm complex and set it on fire in retaliation for airstrikes

* American soldiers inside the embassy have fired tear gas, stun grenades and warning shots at hundreds of fighters who broke down the compound gate and set fires within the complex on Tuesady
* The ambassador was on leave at the time of the attack and embassy staff had already been evacuated before the US marine guard became besieged at the compound
* Trump has vowed to hold Tehran accountable for the embassy attack, which is in retaliation for US air strikes on the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah on Sunday night
* Those USAF strikes were themselves in retaliation for last week's killing of an American contractor in Kirkuk
* 'Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will.' Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. 'Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!'

President Donald Trump has vowed to hold Iran 'fully responsible' for an attack on the US embassy in Baghdad today, where hundreds of pro-Iran militia members stormed the compound in retaliation for American air strikes.

American soldiers inside the embassy have fired tear gas, stun grenades and warning shots, wounding 20 of the hundreds of fighters who broke down the gate and set fires within the complex in the Iraqi capital.

The ambassador was on leave at the time of the attack and embassy staff had already been evacuated before the US marine guard became besieged behind the bullet-proof glass and on the rooftops.

Trump has vowed to hold Tehran accountable for the embassy attack, which is in retaliation for US air strikes on the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah on Sunday night. Those strikes a retaliation for last week's killing of an American contractor at a US base in Kirkuk.

Read more ....

More News On The Attack On The U.S. Embassy In Baghdad

Militiamen breach US Embassy in Baghdad; Trump blames Iran -- AP
Violent protests erupt around U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after U.S. air strikes -- Reuters
US Embassy compound in Baghdad under siege as crowds protesting airstrikes break through gate -- FOX News
Protesters chanting ‘Death to America’ break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad -- The Washington Post
US Baghdad embassy attacked by protesters angry at air strikes -- BBC
Protesters storm US embassy compound in Baghdad -- Al Jazeera
Iraqi protesters storm US embassy compound in Baghdad -- DW
Protesters ‘break into’ US embassy compound in Baghdad, as crowds rally against American airstrikes in Iraq (PHOTO, VIDEO) -- RT
Protesters angered over U.S. airstrikes storm embassy in Baghdad -- UPI
Protesters storm US embassy compound in Baghdad -- Al Jazeera
Iraqi protesters attempt to storm US Embassy in Baghdad, condemning US air strikes -- ABC News Online
Trump says Iran will be held ‘fully responsible’ for attack on the US embassy in Iraq -- CNBC
Trump: Iran 'fully responsible' for tensions around US embassy -- Al Jazeera
Trump accuses Iran over storming of US embassy compound in Baghdad -- The Guardian

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

People watch confetti as it's thrown from the Hard Rock Cafe marquee as part of the annual confetti test ahead of the New Year's Eve ball-drop celebrations in Times Square in New York City. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Editor's Choice Pictures (Reuters).

Did Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Violate US Sanctions On Venezuerla?

Erik Prince testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 2, 2007. REUTERS/Larry Downing

The Hill: US officials say Erik Prince may have violated Venezuela sanctions: report

Blackwater founder Erik Prince may have evaded U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, two senior U.S. officials reportedly said Monday.

The unnamed officials told The Associated Press that Prince, the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, had been referred to the Treasury Department over a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, with the country's vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, a sanctioned ally of President Nicolás Maduro.

An attorney for Prince told the news outlet that his client's meeting was not business-related and that no violation had occurred.

Read more ....

Update #1: AP Exclusive: Trump ally may have broken Venezuela sanctions (AP)
Update #2: US Officials Suggest Blackwater Founder Violated Sanctions on Venezuela - Report (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: Apparently Erik Prince notified the National Security Council and Treasury Department that he was travelling to Venezuela, and received no objections. My gut tells me that he is one of the back channels that the White House uses to talk to governments that the U.S. does not have good relations with.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Lockheed Martin Delivered 134 F-35 Jets In 2019


Reuters: Lockheed Martin hits 2019 F-35 delivery target of 131 jets

Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said on Monday it has reached its 2019 target to deliver 131 F-35 fighter jets to the United States and its allies, as the defense contractor built 47% more jets this year.

The world’s largest defense contractor delivered a total of 134 of the stealthy jets this year and aims to deliver 141 F-35s in 2020.

The most common variation of the jet, the F-35A, now costs $77.9 million, beating its goal of lowering the price to below $80 million a year earlier than expected.

Read more ....

Update: Lockheed Martin Delivers 134 F-35s in 2019, Exceeding Annual Commitment (PRNewswire)

WNU Editor: The goal is to deliver 141 F-35s in 2020.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He To Visit Washington To Sign Phase One Of Trade Deal With U.S.

SCMP: Trade war: China’s top negotiator Liu He to visit US for phase one deal signing this week, source says

* Vice-Premier Liu He has accepted an invitation to lead a delegation to the US from this Saturday, a source briefed on the matter told the Post
* US trade representative Robert Lighthizer previously said phase one trade deal would be signed in the first week of January

Vice-Premier Liu He is set to lead a delegation to Washington this Saturday, where he is expected to sign a phase one deal that would significantly de-escalate the US-China trade war, a source briefed on the matter has told the South China Morning Post.

“Washington has sent an invitation and Beijing has accepted it,” said the source, who declined to be named due to the highly sensitive nature of the information. The Chinese delegation is expected to stay “a few days” in the US until the middle of next week, the source added.

Neither side has officially confirmed the trip. China’s Ministry of Commerce was not immediately available for comment.

Read more ....

More News On Chinese Vice Premier Liu He Visiting Washington To Sign Phase One Of The Trade Deal With The U.S.

White House adviser says China trade deal signing expected soon -- Reuters
China and US trade deal tipped to be signed next week, but not until Donald Trump says so -- ABC News Online
Vice Premier Liu He to sign ‘phase one’ trade deal in Washington this week, Chinese media says -- CNBC
China's top trade negotiator will reportedly sign the 'phase one' trade deal in Washington this week -- Business Insider

Wikileaks: CIA Is Able To Restrict The Use Missiles To A Specific Region

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Reuters: CIA devised way to restrict missiles given to allies, researcher says

LEIPZIG, Germany (Reuters) - The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has devised technology to restrict the use of anti-aircraft missiles after they leave American hands, a researcher said, a move that experts say could persuade the United States that it would be safe to disseminate powerful weapons more frequently.

The new technology is intended for use with shoulder-fired missiles called Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS), Dutch researcher Jos Wetzels told a cybersecurity conference here in Leipzig, Germany on Saturday. Wetzels said the system was laid out in a batch of CIA documents published by WikiLeaks in 2017 but that the files were mislabeled and attracted little public attention until now.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The software that makes this possible (i.e. limiting the use of a missile to a specific region) must be impressive.

The Pentagon Is Preparing To Fight The Wrong War

David Axe, Daily Beast: This Is What War Looks Like in 2029

America has the most military hardware of any country—but experts say the nature of war is shifting underground and online, and the U.S. may struggle to keep up.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 11 passed its version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, clearing the way for the U.S. Senate to approve the measure. If President Donald Trump signs the bill, it will channel a staggering $740 billion into the Pentagon’s accounts.

That’s by far the biggest military budget of any country. The United States lavishes on its armed forces more than twice as much as No. 2 spender China does, and more than 10 times what No. 6 Russia does.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is one of those must reads.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 30, 2019

From left, protests in 2019 in Paris, France, in Baghdad, Iraq, and in Hong Kong. Stephane de Sakutin, AFP; Khalid al-Mousily, REUTERS; Danish Siddiqui, REUTERS

Tamar Shiloh Vidon, France 24: A year of discontent: Protests of 2019 toppled world leaders from Bolivia to Sudan

Street demonstrations rocked cities around the world in 2019, with some leading to the downfall of longtime leaders who once appeared invulnerable while others put their governments on notice in a year that proved to be one of widespread discontent.

Protesters are demanding the removal of corrupt governments, better living standards, greater freedoms and more rights.

The leaders of Bolivia, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq and Sudan have been pushed out as a consequence. Elsewhere, such as in Chile and Ecuador, protesters have won concessions from their governments.

FRANCE 24 takes a look at some of the popular movements that have successfully led to the ouster of political leaders in 2019 – some of them after decades in power.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 30, 2019

Are the US and Iran heading for a confrontation on Iraqi soil? -- Ali Younes, Al Jazeera

Erdogan eyes early poll as time not on his side -- Ömer Taşpınar, Asia Times

US isolationism leaves Middle East on edge as new decade dawns -- Martin Chulov, The Guardian

China’s sea claims to face stiff test in 2020 -- Richard Javad Heydarian, Asia Times

Trying To Form The World's Newest Country, Bougainville Has A Road Ahead -- Ashley Westerma, NPR

Central Asia’s seething Uighurs -- Alexander Kruglov, Asia Times

Xenophobia threatens to undermine Sudan's revolution -- Magdi el-Gizouli & Abraham T Zere, Al Jazeera

Putin weighs future options as he marks 20 years in power -- Vladimir Isachenkov, AP

Russia Rubs Its Hands At The Prospect Of Profit From Climate Change -- Michael Scollon, RFE

Angela Merkel and her view of the world -- Christoph Hasselbach, Michaela Küfner, Maximiliane Koschyk, Kay-Alexander Scholz, DW

30 Years After Romania's Revolution, Questions Remain -- Carmen Paun, Politico EU

The US is to blame for its foreign policy paralysis over the past decade -- Hussein Ibish, The National

Ignore the So-Called Experts; They Keep Getting It Wrong. -- Adriana Cohen, RCP

Crowdfunding and solidarity: How French rail workers sustain a record-long strike -- Camille Nedelec, France 24

World News Briefs -- December 30, 2019 (Evening Edition)

CNN: Iran warns of 'consequences' after US strikes in Iraq and Syria

Iran has warned the US of "consequences" after Washington carried out airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq.

The US has "openly shown its support to terrorism and shown its negligence to the independence and national sovereignty of countries," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mosavi , according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

"It must accept responsibility of the consequences of the illegal attacks," added Mosavi.

At least 25 people were killed and 51 wounded in the airstrikes that targeted five facilities controlled by Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria on Sunday.

Read more ....


Trump sets 'red line' for Tehran amid mounting risks.

Russia warns Iran nuclear deal in danger of 'falling apart'.

US attacks Iran-backed militia bases in Iraq and Syria.

Iran, Iraq governments condemn U.S. airstrikes targeting Iraqi militia.

Top Iraqi militia chief warns of tough response to US air strikes on Iraq, Syria-based groups.

Yemen: Houthis blamed for attack on military parade.

Iraq protesters blockade oilfield, rally in southern cities.

Iraq: Operations resume at Nasiriya oilfield closed over protests.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe to go on hunger strike for fellow detainee in Iran.

More nuclear energy for Turkey as Russia starts work on 2nd power unit for Akkuyu plant.


Hong Kong to end year with multiple protests, kick off 2020 with big march.

Australia: Fires worsen and reach Melbourne suburbs. Thousands flee as heatwave-fuelled bushfires reach Melbourne. Australia fires worsen as every state hits 40C.

Taliban attack Afghan forces in country’s north, killing 14.

Taliban slams ‘baseless reports' of ceasefire plans.

U.S. promises action on any North Korea missile test: White House.

PLA’s Hong Kong garrison holds joint drill in city’s harbour in ‘message to radical protesters’.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen says talks with Beijing could resume. Ahead of election, Taiwan president calls China 'biggest threat'.

Samoa lifts state of emergency after bringing measles outbreak under control.

China to stop sending sex workers to forced labour 'education' centres.

China’s gene-editing ‘Frankenstein’ jailed for three years in modified baby case.


Sudan to deploy troops to West Darfur after deadly unrest.

Militia attack kills 20 in eastern DR Congo.

Mogadishu truck bomb death toll rises to 90 as Turkey evacuates wounded.

US air strikes target al-Shabaab after Mogadishu bombing.

Mozambique opposition rejects accusation of role in attacks.

Head of UN-recognised gov't in Libya asks world leaders for help.

Libya conflict: Turkey troop deployment bill sent to MPs.

France, Egypt urge ‘restraint’ in Libya as Turkey weighs sending troops.

Ivory Coast ex-rebel Soro vows to lead resistance from abroad, 'like de Gaulle'.

Sudanese court sentences 27 security officials to death. Sudan jails 27 soldiers over protest killing.

Liberia: Anti-government protest postponed for security reasons.


Spain: Socialists pin future government on Catalan’s release.

Strike deadlock continues as French government, unions trade barbs.

Italian PM calls for unity as three senators move to far-right party.

Ukraine swaps 200 prisoners with pro-Russian separatists.

Pompeo to visit Ukraine amid impeachment drama. US Secretary of State plans to visit Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus.

Polish PM furious at Putin rewriting history of second world war.

Croatia finds former prime minister guilty of corruption.

Shots fired near Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie.

Russia has hottest year since records began in 1891.


Giuliani reportedly made a back-channel call with Venezuelan President Maduro.

Joe Biden says he would consider a Republican for his running mate.

Trump, Putin discussed Russia attack, arms control, relations: White House.

Democrats worry impeachment acquittal will embolden Trump.

Monsey stabbing: NYC mayor vows action on anti-Semitism 'crisis'.

45 mass killings leave 211 dead as United States hits horror high mark in 2019.

Bolivia: interim leader expels Mexican ambassador and two Spanish diplomats.

Nicaragua releases dozens of political prisoners.

Uruguayan officials seize 4 tons of cocaine valued at $1.3 billion.

Venezuela crisis: The refugees who fled a collapsed economy.

With births down, U.S. had slowest growth rate in a century.


Al-Shabaab militants claim huge Mogadishu bomb attack.

New Year holidays TERRORIST ATTACK in St. Petersburg averted after US tip-off: FSB releases VIDEO of suspects’ arrest.

Turkey arrests scores of suspected 'Islamic State' members.

US targets al-Shabab militants after deadly Mogadishu bombing.


Dow drops nearly 200 points on second-to-last day of trading, trimming big gain for the year.

China’s top negotiator Liu He to visit Washington for phase one trade war deal signing this week, source says.

Tesla delivers first Chinese-made Model 3 vehicles.

US, China and Germany profit most from global free trade, says WTO.

The Pentagon Tried Again To Decommission The Aircraft Carrier USS Harry Truman

The carrier Harry S. Truman, left, and the cruiser Normandy transit the Atlantic Ocean. Truman was again the target of Pentagon budget cuts until the decision was reversed earlier this year. (MC2 Scott Swofford/U.S. Navy)

Defense News: Memo reveals Pentagon again tried to decommission the carrier Truman, cut an air wing

WASHINGTON — Despite causing a political firestorm earlier this year and forcing President Donald Trump to publicly reverse his administration’s position on the matter, the U.S. military again tried to push a plan that would lead to the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman retiring 25 years early and would defund a carrier air wing, according to a White House memo obtained by Defense News.

The plan, which was killed sometime in November during a back-and-forth between the Pentagon and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, was recycled from the 2020 budget submission. At the time, the move was framed as a way to pay for investments in unmanned technologies and long-range hypersonic missiles.

The now-reversed decision to defund the Truman’s refueling lends further insight into the pressures the Navy faces in this budget cycle.

Read more ....

Update #1: The Pentagon has tried twice this year to mothball one of its aircraft carriers, but it keeps getting shut down (Business Insider)
Update #2: White House Once Again Torpedos Pentagon Plan to Retire Broken USS Truman Early (Sputnik)

WNU editor: The problem is money. Specifically the lack of it. The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is currently deployed to the Middle East .... USS Harry S. Truman starts operations in Middle East as long deployment for USS Abraham Lincoln continues (WTKR).

A Deadly Year For Children In Conflict Zones

A boy holds a rifle as he attends a rally of Houthi movement supporters to mark the Ashura in Sanaa, Yemen, on Sept. 10. (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

DW: UNICEF: 2019 ends 'deadly decade' for children in conflict zones

The United Nations has documented 170,000 grave violations against children over the past decade. Millions more have lost their childhood and future through conflict.

Millions of children across the world are entering a new decade facing the devastating consequences of violence in conflict zones, UNICEF said on Monday.

The United Nations' children's agency has documented 170,000 grave violations against minors since 2010, including killing, maiming, abduction, sexual violence and recruitment into armed groups.

Read more: Children at risk of 'new threats' like climate change, warns UNICEF

From Afghanistan and Mali to Syria and Yemen, conflicts are costing millions of children their health, education, future and lives, UNICEF said.

Read more ....

More News On UNICEF's Report On Children In Conflict Zones

2019 concludes a ‘deadly decade’ for children in conflict, with more than 170,000 grave violations verified since 2010 -- UNICEF
Deadly decade: UNICEF reports three-fold rise in verified attacks on children since 2010 -- UN News
UNICEF: More than 10,000 children suffered war zone violence first half of 2019 -- UPI
Children suffering as number of countries in conflict is highest in 30 years, UNICEF says -- CNN
Three-fold rise in attacks on children in war areas since 2010 -- Al Jazeera

How Chinese Hackers Uncovered America's Undercover Spies

Illustration: Shonagh Rae for Yahoo News

Yahoo News: 'Shattered': Inside the secret battle to save America's undercover spies in the digital age

When hackers began slipping into computer systems at the Office of Personnel Management in the spring of 2014, no one inside that federal agency could have predicted the potential scale and magnitude of the damage. Over the next six months, those hackers — later identified as working for the Chinese government — stole data on nearly 22 million former and current American civil servants, including intelligence officials.

The data breach, which included fingerprints, personnel records and security clearance background information, shook the intelligence community to its core. Among the hacked information’s other uses, Beijing had acquired a potential way to identify large numbers of undercover spies working for the U.S. government. The fallout from the hack was intense, with the CIA reportedly pulling its officers out of China. (The director of national intelligence later denied this withdrawal.)

Read more ....

WNU Editor:Bottom line. Being undercover is going to be next to impossible in the digital age.

U.S. Congress Wants To Know More On White House Policies When It Comes To Using Cyber Weapons

Wall Street Journal: White House Expands Use of Cyber Weapons but Stays Secretive on Policies

Congress remains largely in the dark despite bipartisan criticism of President Trump’s stance

WASHINGTON—In his three years in office, President Trump has overseen an escalation in the U.S. military’s deployment of cyber weapons as a way to engage forcefully with adversaries around the globe without provoking all-out war.

But the White House hasn’t made the same effort to inform Congress and the public about its rules for using these new cyber capabilities, lawmakers and experts say, prompting a bipartisan push to demand more transparency from the administration.

President Trump issued a classified directive nearly a year-and-a-half ago that outlines new, less restrictive rules for the military’s use of cyber weapons. Approved efforts can range from a temporary network disruption to long-term degradation or sabotage of an adversary’s computer systems, officials have said.

That more-aggressive posture has largely paid off, current and former officials say, as it has allowed the administration to rely on cyber operations to confront a broader array of threats and to react more nimbly to changing circumstances, including during a peak in hostilities with Iran this summer and Russian election interference attempts during last year’s midterm elections.

But the White House hasn’t let members of Congress see the directive, known as National Security Presidential Memorandum 13, the lawmakers said, leaving them with little understanding of a key element of American warfighting capability.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Congress understandably wants to know more. U.S. Cyber Command is already making it public that they are going to be playing an aggressive role in defending U.S. elections (see below).

More News On U.S. Cyber Command Protecting U.S. Elections

U.S. Cybercom contemplates information warfare to counter Russian interference in 2020 election -- Washington Post
Washington Post: US eyeing information warfare tactics against Russia in 2020 -- CNN
CyberCom mulls aggressive tactics if Russia interferes in next election: report -- The Hill
US military cyber officials 'are developing plans to target the personal data of Russian politicians and oligarchs should the country interfere in 2020 election' -- Daily Mail

Gallup Poll: Obama And Trump Tied For Most Admired Man

The Hill: Obama, Trump tied for most admired man: Gallup

President Trump and former President Obama have finished 2019 tied as the "most admired men" in the U.S., according to new polling from Gallup.

Obama and Trump both received 18 percent of the vote for most admired man, according to Gallup, with no other man named by more than 2 percent of respondents.

The top 10 most admired men also included former President Carter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Pope Francis, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the Dalai Lama and Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Gallup poll is here .... Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019 (Gallup).