Wednesday, July 31, 2019

U.S. Intel Has Reports That Osama Bin Laden's Son And Heir Hamza Is Dead


NBC: U.S. has intel that Osama bin Laden's son and heir, Hamza, is dead, officials say

The officials would not provide details of how Hamza bin Laden died or if the U.S. played a role. It is unclear if Washington has confirmed his death.

WASHINGTON — The United States has obtained intelligence that the son and potential successor of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Hamza bin Laden, is dead, according to three U.S. officials.

The officials would not provide details of where or when Hamza bin Laden died or if the U.S. played a role in his death. It is unclear if the U.S. has confirmed his death.

Asked by reporters on Wednesday whether the U.S. had intelligence that Hamza is dead, President Donald Trump said, "I don't want to comment on that."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Apparently he has been dead for quite a while.

More News On Reports That Osama Bin Laden's Son And Heir Hamza Bin Laden Is Dead

REVEALED: America DID play a role in operation that killed Osama bin Laden's 'crown prince of terror' son Hamza after State Department put $1m bounty on 30-year-old heir to Al-Qaeda terror organization -- Daily Mail
Osama bin Laden's son Hamza, touted as future Al Qaeda leader, dead, reports say -- ABC News Online
US has intel that Osama bin Laden's son is dead: report -- France 24
Hamza bin Laden, Son of Qaeda Founder, Is Dead -- The New York Times
Report: Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s Son and Potential Successor, Is Dead -- NR
Osama bin Laden's son and heir Hamza dead, say reports -- The Independent
Osama bin Laden's son and heir Hamza bin Laden is dead – report -- RT
Trump refuses to comment on reports of death of bin Laden's son -- FOX News

This Is What Happens When The Radar Absorbent Skin Of An F-22 Crumbles

Reader submission

Warzone/The Drive: These Images Of An F-22 Raptor's Crumbling Radar Absorbent Skin Are Fascinating

The photos are a reminder of just how much work goes into keeping the F-22's skin ready for combat and the amazing science behind its stealthy design.

The F-22 Raptor was a highlight of this year's EAA Airventure Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Raptor Demo Team flew in aircraft that were from Langely AFB in Virginia, where the team is based. One of those jets showed comparatively extreme signs of corrosion on the upper nose area, right before the canopy. In fact, the section was in such poor shape, that it offered a bizarre and fascinating view of what some of the F-22's most prominent surface areas are made up of.

Read more ....

WNU editor: Maybe one day (in the far future) someone will write a book on how this incredible technology was developed and applied. 

US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Has Crashed In California

FILE PHOTO: A F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares to land. © Reuters / Stephanie Contreras / U.S. Navy

ABC News: Navy Super Hornet crashes near Death Valley, search and rescue underway for pilot

A U.S. Navy single seater F/A-18E fighter jet has crashed in Death Valley, California, according to the Navy. There are reports that visitors at the park have suffered minor injuries, a spokesperson for Death Valley National Park said.

Commander Ron Flanders, a spokesman for U.S. Naval Air Forces, confirmed to ABC News that the aircraft had crashed near Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake at approximately 10 a.m. PT.

Flanders said the status of the pilot was unknown and that a search and rescue helicopter from China Lake, located in Ridgecrest, was en route to the crash area.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The status of the pilot is currently unknown.

More News On Reports That A US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Has Crashed In California

US Navy jet crashes in California -- CNN
Navy fighter jet crashes near China Lake -- L.A. Times
Navy fighter jet crashes north of Los Angeles -- CBS
US Navy F-18 Super Hornet crashes in California -- RT
US Military Jet Crashes Near Death Valley, California -- Sputnik

Israel Wants F-35s And F-15s

National Interest: Israel Wants to Have All the F-35s and the F-15s Money Can Buy

Now that is air power.

Israel has made three purchases of the F-35 in the past decade, 50 planes altogether, at $100-110 million per plane. Israel will have two squadrons of these aircraft by 2024. Lockheed Martin has supplied the air force with 14 of the planes so far, and the planned rate of supply in the future is six planes per year.

Israel’s Globes says the country will decide by this summer what type of fighters it will acquire using U.S. defense aid money.

The report says the air force is keen to buy both the F-15 and F-35 if there are no budget constraints.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: According to the above report Israel's budget for new planes is $11 billion.

Report: Israel Launched Two Attacks Using F-35s On Iranian Targets In Iraq This Month

Israeli F-35Is in action.

Jerusalem Post: Report: Israel launched two attacks on Iranian targets in Iraq in July

According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Israel attacked a base in Ashraf, Iraq northeast of Baghdad on Sunday, targeting Iranian advisers and a shipment of ballistic missiles from Iran.

The first attack happened on July 19 at a base in Amerli in the Saladin province north of Baghdad. Iraqi and Iranian sources blamed Israel at the time, and Asharq Al-Awsat reported that “diplomatic sources” confirmed the attack, specifying that it was carried out by an Israeli F-35.

Al Arabiya television news reported that Iranian-made ballistic missiles were transported to the base shortly before the attack via trucks used to transport refrigerated food. The identity of the aircraft which conducted the attack was unspecified at the time, and the US denied any involvement. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah members were killed in the airstrike, according to Al Arabiya. However, the Iranian-backed al-Hashd ash-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Forces) denied that any Iranians were killed, according to Fars News Agency.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Israel Launched Two Attacks Using F-35s On Iranian Targets In Iraq This Month

Israel said to hit Iranian sites in Iraq, expanding strikes on missile shipments -- Times of Israel
In Major Shift, Israel Twice Struck Iranian Targets in Iraq 'Using F-35 -- Haaretz
Israeli Warplanes Expand Operations Against Alleged Iranian Targets to Iraq, Media Claims -- Sputnik
‘Israel Expands Scope of Strikes Against Iranian Assets in Middle East’ -- The Algemeiner
Here’s Everything We Know About The Alleged Israeli Air Force F-35 Air Strike on an Iranian Base in Iraq -- Aviationist
Did Israeli stealth fighters bomb Iraq? -- Arutz Sheva
Is Israel Flying F-35s In Iraq To Hit Iran Missile Shipments? -- Breaking Defense

EU-Initiated Payment System That Circumvents U.S. Sanctions With Iran Completes First Transactions

Xinhuanet: EU-initiated payment system with Iran completes first transactions, full-mode operation on its way

VIENNA, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The European Union(EU)-initiated payment system with Iran has seen the completion of its first transactions and is expected to be officially launched after related procedures are aligned, a Russian official said after a joint commission of the Iranian nuclear deal meeting in Vienna on Sunday.

The system, formally known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), "is operating in a pilot mode. In order to make it operate in full mode some bureaucratic procedures between the INSTEX and the Iranian structure similar to INSTEX need to be finished," Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov was quoted by Sputnik news agency as saying.

It was announced in January that the INSTEX, the European Union (EU)'s payment system to facilitate trade with Iran to get around U.S. sanctions, would secure trade with Iran and skirt U.S. anti-Iran sanctions after Washington pulled out of the 2015 landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018.

Following a meeting of the joint commission of the Iranian nuclear deal in June, the mechanism became operational and available to all EU member states.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: EU companies will still be exposed to U.S. sanctions, but this new payment system will help those who want to do business with Iran. Here is a good description on how this payment mechanism is going to work .... How Instex, Europe's Trade Channel With Iran, Will Work (NPR).

Update: Russia now wants to join this EU system to circumvent U.S. sanctions .... Russia wants in on INSTEX (Al Jazeera).

Iran Vows To Restart Activities At Arak Heavy Water Nuclear Reactor

Photo: Wikipedia

Reuters: Iran intends to restart activities at Arak heavy water nuclear reactor: ISNA news agency

GENEVA (Reuters) - The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, told lawmakers on Sunday that Iran will restart activities at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor, the ISNA news agency reported.

ISNA cited a member of parliament who attended the meeting. Heavy water can be employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads.

Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and re-introduced sanctions on Tehran.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Iran plans to suspend more of its nuclear commitments in September .... Iran Set to Suspend More Nuclear Commitments in Early Sept.: Russia (Tasnim).

More News On Iran Vowing To Restart Activities At Its Arak Heavy Water Nuclear Reactor

Iran vows to restart activities at Arak heavy water facility -- Times of Israel
Iran to reactivate Arak heavy water nuclear reactor -- Daily Sabah
Iran Announces Plans To Restart Activities At Arak Nuclear Reactor -- Radio Farda

White House: China Gathers Forces On Hong Kong Border

People’s Liberation Army soldiers at Stonecutters Island naval base in Hong Kong last month. Source: NYT/Reuters Chinese forces gathering at Hong Kong border, White House officials monitoring escalation

The White House is monitoring the sudden gathering of Chinese forces at the border with Hong Kong, in a worrying sign of escalation.

The White House is monitoring the sudden “congregation” of Chinese forces at the border with Hong Kong, according to reports, following another night of unrest and clashes between protesters and police.

A senior US official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity said a number of units had gathered, but it’s unclear if they are security police or part of China’s military, Bloomberg reports.

It comes as Beijing accused the United States of inciting the increasingly unruly protests in Hong Kong, which began two months ago over a proposed extradition bill that could see citizens sent to the mainland.

Since then, demonstrations have evolved into a statement against Beijing’s influence in the operation of the relatively autonomous region.

Read more ....

Update #1: White House Eyeing Chinese Forces Gathered on Hong Kong Border (Bloomberg)
Update #2: Crackdown Coming? China Gathers Forces On Hong Kong Border Amid Unrest (Zero Hedge)

WNU Editor: There is already a China military presence in Hong Kong. But to have a real impact on stopping the protests, the Chinese will need to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers, a deployment that will be quickly picked up by foreign intelligence services before it happens. What's my take. Beijing is not mentally prepared to send in military forces to crush the current protests in Hong Kong. But if these protests continue for another month, the option of using military force to crush the protests will be on the table, and they will use it.

U.S. Will Once Again Waive Five Different Nuclear-Related Sanctions On Iran

The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria. (REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

Washington Post: Trump administration will again waive nuclear sanctions on Iran

After an internal policy battle, the Trump administration is set to announce later this week that it will once again waive five different nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, preserving a key part of the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal. The decision will upset Iran hawks in Washington and be welcomed by Russia, China, European allies and the Iranian leadership. The issue is emblematic of the tension inside the administration over the implementation of President Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy.

In an Oval Office meeting last week, Trump sided with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who argued that the administration should again renew sanctions waivers related to five separate parts of Iran’s nuclear program. Mnuchin prevailed over the objections of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, according to six administration officials. Pompeo, who is the lead official on the issue, will nevertheless support Trump’s decision when it is announced later this week.

Mnuchin, these six officials said, argued to Trump that if the sanctions were not again waived as required by law by Aug. 1, the United States would have to sanction Russian, Chinese and European firms that are involved in projects inside Iran that were established as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Treasury Department asked for more time to navigate the collateral effects of these sanctions.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Will Once Again Waive Five Different Nuclear-Related Sanctions On Iran

U.S. to renew sanctions waivers for five Iran nuclear programs: Washington Post -- Reuters
Trump to hold off on tightening limits on Iran's nuclear work -- NBC
US expected to extend waivers for co -- CNN
Trump to disappoint Iran hawks with more nuclear waivers -- Politico

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Are U.S. Intelligence Agencies 'Running Amok'?

Reuters: In new attack, Trump says U.S. intelligence agencies 'run amok'

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his choice for the next U.S. spy chief as someone who could "rein in" intelligence agencies that "have run amok," fueling concerns Trump seeks assessments that support his own views.

Trump's choice of Republican Representative John Ratcliffe of Texas as the next director of national intelligence, has been greeted with scant enthusiasm by his fellow Republicans and charges by former intelligence officials and Democrats that he is unqualified and will frame intelligence to suit the president.

Ratcliffe, a member of the House Intelligence Committee for six months, would replace Dan Coats, whose judgments on Iran, North Korea and Russia's interference in the 2016 elections clashed with Trump's views, earning the president's disdain.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump says Ratcliffe will 'rein in' US intelligence agencies as spy chief (CNN)
Update #2: Trump hopeful nominee can 'rein in' intelligence agencies (The Hill)

WNU Editor: It looks like the U.S. intel community and their allies are not happy with this appointment .... John Ratcliffe is the 'least-qualified person ever nominated' for national intelligence director, officials say (The Week).

The U.S. Navy Can't Get Munitions Onto The Deck Of Its Newest Aircraft Carrier

Sailors on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford during its commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Julio Martinez Martinez

CNN: U.S. Navy's new $13B aircraft carrier can't fight

(CNN)The $13-billion USS Gerald R. Ford is already two years behind schedule, and the U.S. Navy's newest aircraft carrier is facing more delays after the Pentagon's top weapons tester concluded the ship is still not ready for combat despite expectations it would be delivered to the fleet this September.

According to a June 28 memo obtained by CNN, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's director of operational test and evaluation, said the most expensive warship in history continues to struggle launching and recovering aircraft, moving onboard munitions, conducting air traffic control and with ship self-defense.

"These four systems affect major areas of flight operations," Gilmore wrote in his report to Pentagon and Navy weapons buyers Frank Kendall and Sean Stackley. "Unless these issues are resolved ... they will significantly limit CVN-78's ability to conduct combat operations."

Read more ....

Update #1: On Costliest U.S. Warship Ever, Navy Can’t Get Munitions on Deck (Bloomberg)
Update #2: Navy’s $13 Billion Carrier Can’t Move Munitions to Its Deck (Fiscal Times)

WNU Editor: The US Navy's newest destroyer cannot fire its guns .... The destroyer Zumwalt's big guns don't have any ammo, and the Navy may ditch them entirely because they don't even work right (Business Insider). The Littoral Combat Ship program cannot deploy ships .... How the Navy Blew $30 Billion on 10 ‘Cheap’ Ships (Daily Beast). And now the Navy's newest carrier cannot even get munitions onto the deck of its newest aircraft carrier. For a department that spends over $200 billion a year, someone has some explaining to do.

U.S. And South Korea: North Korea Fires 2 Short-Range Ballistic Missiles

CNN: North Korea launches more projectiles, US and South Korean officials say

Seoul (CNN)North Korea on Wednesday launched yet another round of projectiles, US and South Korean officials confirmed.

"North Korea launched multiple projectiles in the early morning from around Hodo Peninsula in South Hamgyong Province," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told CNN, adding that it was on the alert for further launches.

"Our military is tracking and watching the related movement in preparation to additional launches, and is maintaining readiness posture."

Read more ....

More News On North Korea Firing 2 Short-Range Ballistic Missiles

North Korea fires multiple unidentified projectiles early Wednesday -Yonhap -- Reuters
North Korea fires 2 short-range ballistic missiles, US officials say -- ABC News
North Korea fires several unidentified projectiles off its eastern coast -- NBC
North Korea fires multiple ballistic missiles, South Korea says -- CNBC
North Korea 'fires two ballistic missiles' -- BBC

Brazilian Prison Riot Leaves 57 Dead, 16 Decapitated

Daily Mail: Bloody prison battle between rival gangs in Brazil that lasted five hours leaves 52 people dead - including 16 who were decapitated

* At least 52 people are dead in prison riot between rival gangs in Brazil
* The riot broke out on Monday at 7am local time at Altamira Regional Recovery Center in the northern state of ParĂ¡ and lasted for five bloody hours
* Gang members from one prison block invaded another and set a room on fire
* Several prisoners died of asphyxiation in the fire and 16 were decapitated in the conflict
* Two correctional officers were held hostage during the riot and later released
* Brazilian authorities have not named the two rival gangs involved in the attacks
* The prison has a capacity of 200 detainees but was occupied by 311 prisoners
* The bloody violence comes two months after a riot in Amazonas state jail left 55 inmates dead

At least 52 people have been killed in a jail in northern Brazil today in a bloody conflict between rival gangs that left 16 decapitated, an official has confirmed.

The 'rebellion' began at around 7am in the Altamira Regional Recovery Center, in the northern ParĂ¡ state, where gang members from one prison block invaded the prison annex and reportedly set part of it on fire.

Sixteen of the dead were decapitated in the bloody five-hour-long clash that ended around midday (3pm GMT), an official from the Para state government's penitentiary department said.

It was the latest violence to rock the country's overpopulated and deadly prison system.

Read more ....

Update #1: Brazil prison riot leaves 57 dead, 16 decapitated in "settling of accounts" between rival gangs (CBS/AP)
Update #2: At least 57 dead in Brazil prison riot (AFP)

WNU Editor: This is one case among many .... Deadly unrest in Latin America's prisons (AFP).

China Declares It Has Totally Released Most Of The Estimated 1 Million Muslims Held In Internment Camps

Photo: China says Uyghrs are undergoing "re-education" and vocational training. (Reuters: Thomas Peter)

CNN: China's top Uyghur official claims most detainees have left Xinjiang camps

A senior Chinese official has alleged that authorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang have released most detainees held in government internment camps, but refused to be drawn on how many people remained in the mass detention program.

During a rare press conference in Beijing Tuesday, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Chairman Shohrat Zakir, fiercely defended the controversial camps into which the United States State Department has said up to two million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have been held against their will in the past two years.

Speaking to reporters, Zakir, the country's top Uyghur official, described the camps as being "hugely positive" for the region. "I don't know how it's become such an international focus. It's probably due to unbalanced information," he said.

Read more ....

More News On China Declaring It Has Totally Released Most Of The Estimated 1 Million Muslims Held In Internment Camps

China: Most people in Xinjiang camps reintegrated to society -- AP
China says most people in Xinjiang camps have 'returned to society' -- Reuters
China says 'most' inmates in Xinjiang camps are out -- AFP
China Says Most Muslims Have Been Released From Camps. Others Say: Prove It. -- The New York Times
China: Most people in Xinjiang camps have 'returned to society' -- Al Jazeera
China Abruptly Announces It’s Totally Released Most of the Estimated 1 Million Muslims Held in Internment Camps - Slate

Are U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilots At Greater Risk For Prostate Cancer?

McClatchy News: Are fighter pilots at greater risk for prostate cancer? The Air Force is now asking

The Air Force has begun to look at whether there’s increased risk for prostate cancer among its fighter pilots. A new investigation by McClatchy shows just how serious the problem may be.

The fighter pilot study was requested by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein after he was contacted by concerned veterans service organizations in 2018, according to the report obtained by McClatchy.

At the heart of the Air Force study was a question of whether extended exposure in the cockpit to radiation may be linked to increased risk of prostate cancer.

The study said “pilots have greater environmental exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation ... (fighter pilots) have unique intra-cockpit exposures to non-ionizing radiation.” The Air Force study was conducted by the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Wow! That is a massive increase.

U.S. Navy SEAL And SAS Soldier Killed By Friendly Fire Last Year On An Underground Mission In Syria

Sergeant Matt Tonroe & Master Sgt Jonathan J Dunbar both died in the blast in Manbij, northern Syria. Composite: MoD/US military

The 33-year-old died last year alongside US commando Master Sergeant Jonathan J Dunbar in the blast in Manbij during the joint mission

Daily Mail: REVEALED: US Navy SEAL accidentally killed himself and British soldier when his grenade unintentionally detonated during undercover mission in Syria

* US Navy Seal Master Sergeant Jonathan J Dunbar, 36, and British Special Air Service Sniper Matt Tonroe, 33, died in March 2018 during a mission in Syria
* At first their death was reported as a roadside bomb explosion
* An investigation concluded that they died after an explosive in Dunbar's possession detonated, killing them both and injuring five others
* The UK's Ministry of Defence revealed the report conclusions on Saturday
* Tonroe, of Manchester, was embedded in Seal Team 6, the same unit that killed Osama Bin Laden, and was the first British person to die fighting terror in Syria
* Dunbar, of Austin, Texas, joined the army in May 2005

A US Navy Seal unintentionally killed himself and a British soldier while fighting ISIS in Syria after he accidentally detonated a grenade, the UK's Ministry of Defense revealed Saturday.

US Navy Seal Master Sergeant Jonathan J Dunbar, 36, was killed in March 2018 alongside British Special Air Service Sniper Matt Tonroe, 33, during a joint undercover mission to kill extremists in Manbij in northern Syria.

At first it was reported that they both died in a roadside bomb explosion but a new report revealed they died after 'explosives' carried by allied American forces detonated.

Tonroe, of Manchester, UK, was embedded in Seal Team 6, the same unit that killed Osama Bin Laden, and became the first British person to die fighting terrorists in war-torn Syria.

Read more ....

U.S. Navy SEAL And SAS Soldier Killed By Friendly Fire Last Year On An Underground Mission In Syria

UK soldier fighting ISIS in Syria was killed by friendly fire, not roadside bomb -- Military times/AP
SAS soldier who died in Syria killed by friendly fire, inquiry finds -- The Independent
SAS soldier was killed by friendly fire, inquiry finds -- The Guardian
SAS sniper, who was first British soldier to die fighting Isil, was killed by friendly fire -- The Telegraph
SAS soldier who was the first Briton to die in Syria fighting ISIS was ACCIDENTALLY killed by US Navy Seal grenade - probe FINALLY concludes more than a year after his death was blamed on IED -- Daily Mail
British SAS soldier who died in Syria was killed by friendly 'accidental detonation,' not IED like Pentagon initially claimed -- Task & Purpose
British soldier Matt Tonroe 'killed by American friendly fire,' MOD reveals -- Yahoo News

Wives And Children Of ISIS Fighters At Syrian Refugee Camp Attack Aid Workers And Guards

Al-Hol refugee camp. RT

Daily Mail: Aid workers are stoned and guards stabbed by wives and children of ISIS fighters at Syrian refugee camp

* Kurdish Al-Hol refugee camp under threat from relatives of former ISIS fighters
* About 7,000 refugees crammed into site complaining of lack of aid and facilities
* Guards have been stabbed and aid workers stoned many stay loyal to militants
* So-called 'Muhajirat' female jihadists are said to be behind the latest stabbings
* Children also throw stones at authorities in camp on the orders of their mothers

Guards have been stabbed and aid workers stoned by the families of ISIS fighters as the group's black flag is flown over a Syrian refugee camp.

The wives and children of the so-called 'caliphate' are reportedly sticking by the jihadists and waiting for orders from their leader.

Months after the defeat of the jihadist proto-state, families of ISIS fighters are among 70,000 people crammed into the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria.

Swarming around journalists, women clad-in-black complain of poor medical assistance, a lack of aid, and boiling tents.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is some drone footage of the camp .... Syria: See first drone footage of Al-Hol refugee camp since IS defeat (RT).

Is The U.S. Military Becoming More Politicized?

The military parade President Donald Trump proposed is set to be held on November 10. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Thomas Krasnican, Just Security: The U.S. Military Is Increasingly Politicized. Active-Duty Personnel Need to Prepare.

When Americans watch news coverage of any contemporary event, no one’s surprised to see it turn political. We live in a time when we can expect almost any topic – whether it’s school shootings, movie awards, climate change, or a sports event – to be packaged by members of one “side” to make their political point or use it as ammunition against the opposing political party. As we have seen with President Donald Trump’s 4th of July parade, the USS John S. McCain controversy and Trump’s transgender military ban, military events and policies are not exempt from this trend, and young service-members must begin preparing to serve in an increasingly politicized environment.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For as long as I can remember the U.S. military has always been heavily politicized. Presidents and politicians always want to put their stamp on the military, and President Trump is not an exception to the rule.

Is President Trump Politicizing The U.S. Intelligence Community With His Appointments?

Critics say Republican Representative John Ratcliffe is too inexperienced and too political to become US director of national intelligence (AFP Photo/ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

Paul Handley, AFP: Trump nominee sparks worries of intelligence politicization

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump's choice of a lawmaker with limited experience to oversee the massive US intelligence community has sparked concerns over the possible politicization of crucial national security decisions.

Trump announced the nomination Sunday of Republican Representative John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence, the person who coordinates the 17 agencies that make up the US intelligence community.

Coats is leaving after 24 months during which Trump has regularly ignored and undermined his spy chiefs, keeping them in the dark especially on his plans for relations with Russia.

While the departure is not a surprise, the choice of Ratcliffe has sparked worries among lawmakers.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I had to laugh when I read this analysis from AFP. The U.S. intelligence community has always been politicized, and Presidents always stack the upper echelons of the community with their loyalists. What has been different in the past two and a half years is that some in the community appear to have made it a mission to target President Trump when he was running to be President, before he took the oath of office, and I would say even when he became President.

U.S. National Intelligence Director Dan Coats To Resign. To Be Replaced By Congressman John Ratcliffe

ABC News Online: Donald Trump says national intelligence director Dan Coats will resign

US director of national intelligence Dan Coats is leaving his job next month, ending a two-year tenure marked by President Donald Trump's clashes with intelligence officials.

Mr Trump announced Mr Coats's August 15 departure in a tweet on Monday (AEST), in which he thanked Mr Coats for his service.

He said he would nominate Republican congressman John Ratcliffe for the post and name an acting official in the coming days.

Mr Ratcliffe has frequently defended Mr Trump, and he fiercely questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller last week during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The thing that surprises me about Intelligence Director Dan Coats is that he lasted this long. He and President Trump had many differences, especially on Russia .... Trump's intelligence chief resigned after the White House repeatedly suppressed his warnings about Russian interference, New York Times reports (Business Insider). I am willing to bet that President Trump is happy to see him gone, and that he now has his own loyalist at the top of the intelligence community.

Update: I agree .... Why Did It Take Trump So Long to Drive Out Dan Coats? (Bloomberg)

More News On The Resignation Of U.S. National Intelligence Director Dan Coats

Trump says Coats is out as national intelligence director -- AP
Trump announces departure of US intelligence director Coats, frequent dissenter -- France 24
Trump says spy chief Coats stepping down, says will nominate Ratcliffe -- Reuters
Dan Coats: US intelligence chief leaves Trump administration -- BBC
Ratcliffe tapped to replace Coats as U.S. spy chief -- Reuters
Coats to step down, Trump tweets, as President says Ratcliffe will be nominated as next director of national intelligence -- CNN
Trump's intelligence pick is attempt to 'neutralise' spy agencies, say ex-officials -- The Guardian
Trump appoints loyalist to top intelligence post after ousting of man who produced scathing assessments of Russia -- The Independent

Has The Kremlin Lost Touch On What Russia Wants?

Miodrag Soric, DW: The Kremlin fears its own people

Russian police reacted with force and arrested more than 1,000 people during opposition protests in Moscow. As the nervousness of Russia's rulers increases, so does the courage of its opposition, writes Mirodrag Soric.

Law enforcement officers clash with protesters during a rally in Moscow (Reuters/M. Shemetov)

Victories give you strength. And during the clashes between state forces and the opposition in Moscow, it's the latter which emerged as the moral victors.

Who, after all, could possibly defend the actions of a police officer taking a baton to a woman already beaten to the ground simply because she dared to voice her desire for free and democratic elections?

Who on earth would applaud secret service operatives carting away youths who they had beaten bloody, because they exercised their right to demonstrate?

Who could take the side of masked state operatives setting their viciously trained dogs upon protesters?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: All of these protests are being primarily driven by people under the age of 40. And while concerns over democracy and freedom of speech are high on the list for the protesters, much of these protests are being driven by economic fears and frustration. The life of an average Russian today is like this: (1) Everyone is working, but to have a better life everyone needs to take on a second job and/or start a small business. The economy is doing well because the official stats do not incorporate the growth of small businesses, but you have to put 70 - 80 hours a week to do well. (2) Sanctions have resulted in the absence of many cheap western goods. This has resulted in a spike in inflation as more expensive goods fill this void. Inflation is something that no Russian likes to see. (3) Housing in the cities have become incredibly expensive. My cousin from Moscow is visiting me this week, and he is giving me a heads-up on how expensive housing and land has become in Moscow and St-Petersburg. To say that my mouth dropped when I learned all of this is an understatement. (4) Corruption is not as bad as it was during the Soviet days, but it is still bad among senior levels in government. And while the older generation always treated corruption as a away of life, the younger generation have no tolerance for this. (5) The Kremlin's move to regulate and limit the internet is producing a backlash among the under 30 crowd. This generation loves being wired to the world, and I know from my cousins kids they are 100% angry about this.

My prediction for the future. The Kremlin and President Putin have lost touch on what the people want in the major cities. I think this is because Russian President Putin is slowly withdrawing from the day to day activities of running the state, especially on domestic issues. By the looks of it and from what people are telling me, he is committed to retiring after the end of this term. What this means is that others who want his job are now positioning themselves to place their allies and supporters in positions of power, and they are exercising themselves in ways that are rankling many Russians. This weekends brutal crackdown on protesters is a harbinger of what is to come, and I will not be surprised if it will gets worse before President Putin officially retires.

Doctor: Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny May Have Been Poisoned

DW: Russia's Alexei Navalny may have been poisoned: doctor

A Russian doctor has said the opposition leader's symptoms suggest that he might have been targeted with a "toxic agent." Berlin has urged Moscow to release over 1,300 prisoners arrested during Navalny-backed protests.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's personal doctor, Anastasiya Vasilyeva, said Monday that an unidentified "toxic agent" may have caused his health to deteriorate while in police custody. Navalny was rushed to a Moscow hospital on Sunday but was since reported to be in "satisfactory condition" and taken back to jail.

"He was poisoned by some sort of unknown chemical substance, it's unclear whether what he has is contact dermatitis or not - but he was in a life-threatening condition," she told reporters.

"And now they are sending him back to the same place where that same toxic, chemical substance might be again."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Kremlin was surprised by this weekend's violent protests .... Russia protests: Thousand arrests at Moscow rally (BBC). More here .... The Latest: Moscow police say over 1,000 arrests in protests (AP).

More News On Reports That Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny May Have Been Poisoned

Putin foe sent back to jail after suspected poisoning -- AP
Kremlin critic must stay in hospital over poisoning fears -doctor -- Reuters
Kremlin critic Navalny returned to jail despite poisoning fears -- France 24
Alexei Navalny discharged from hospital against wishes of doctor -- The Guardian
Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny rushed to hospital, 'may have been poisoned' -- ABC News Online

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Editor's Note

Blogging will be light for this week. Entertaining visiting family members, and I will blog when I can.

On The Ground Reporting From Hong Kong

WNU Editor: For those who are following events in Hong Kong, Michael Yon has some great coverage on what is happening on the ground on his Facebook page .... Michael Yon (Facebook).

Saturday, July 27, 2019

China is Building Three Huge Helicopter 'Aircraft Carriers'

A file picture of one China’s previous-generation amphibious vessels, the Kunlun Shan, after it docked in Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea last year for a concert given to military personnel and workers. Photo: China News Service

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: Bad News: China is Building Three Huge Helicopter 'Aircraft Carriers'

What will Beijing do with them?

Along the Huangpu River in the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyards in Shanghai, the hull modules of two huge new vessels have been captured in photographs taken by passengers in overflying airliners. Then early in July 2019, ground-level images of the construction leaked onto Chinese social media.

Measuring the length of two-and-half football fields and estimated to displace between 30,000-40,000 tons once in the water, the vessels appear to be the first of three Type 075 Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), essentially moving naval bases that can carry dozens of helicopters and launch amphibious landing craft from their floodable well deck.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: More evidence of China rushing to deploy a navy that can match the U.S..

North Korea Continues To Build-Up Its Nuclear Arsenal

Business Insider: North Korea may have built 12 nuclear bombs since the first Trump-Kim summit last year, according to recent reports from intelligence analysts

* North Korea may have expanded its nuclear arsenal with 12 more bombs since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un first met at a Singapore summit last year.
* The Wall Street Journal first reported that intelligence analysts are concluding that the secretive state is accelerating its production of long-range missiles and fissile material, both key components in making nuclear weapons.
* The revelation comes after North Korea unveiled a new submarine that could launch nuclear weapons and fired two short-range missiles off its coast, flouting a UN ban on such testing.
* Up to now, Trump has defended his negotiations with the North Korean leader, saying they've been a success because the country has not engaged in serious missile testing.

North Korea may have expanded its nuclear arsenal with 12 more bombs since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un first met at a Singapore summit last year.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that intelligence analysts have concluded that the secretive state is accelerating its production of long-range missiles and fissile material, both key components in making nuclear weapons.

Analysts have pored over satellite imagery to discover the movement of shipping containers and trucks at crucial weapons facilities in the northern part of the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. These same analysts estimate Pyongyang now has between 20 and 60 nuclear weapons.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Until a deal is signed and verification agreed upon, this nuclear buildup is only going to continue.

The Real State Of The U.S. Military

An M-2 Bradley combat vehicle at the "Salute to America" Independence Day celebration. Tom Brenner / Reuters

Thomas G. Mahnken & Roger Zakheim, The Atlantic: Antiques Road Show: The Real State of the U.S. Military

The wars of the future may depend not so much on the kinds of things you can put on parade, but on new technologies that reimagine warfare.

That a military display on Independence Day proved to be controversial should not be surprising, even if one discounts the partisan tone of much of the criticism. Americans tend not to favor displays of military power, except in the aftermath of successful wars: The Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the 1991 Gulf War were all followed by parades. Military displays nonetheless have the benefit of showing the American people what their investment in national defense has yielded. Contrary to President Donald Trump’s assertion that “our nation is stronger today than it ever was before,” the “Salute to America” looked more like a military antiques road show than a display of a 21st-century military power.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:A sobering essay on the state of the U.S. military today.

Is The U.S. Pushing For A “Face-Saving Way Out" Of Afghanistan?

Members of a Taliban delegation, led by chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (C, front), leave after peace talks with Afghan senior politicians in Moscow, Russia May 30, 2019. Evgenia Novozhenina, Reuters

Axios: Afghanistan peace talks: U.S. pushes toward “face-saving way out"

The ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban are a “charade” designed simply to provide the U.S. a “face-saving way out of Afghanistan,” former CIA deputy director Michael Morell tells Axios.

Why it matters: The Trump administration wants to move quickly toward a deal to end the war in Afghanistan. But Morell, who now hosts the Intelligence Matters podcast, is one of several experts and former officials warning that such a deal won’t secure peace.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is one of those conflicts that will take a few decades to burn itself out. I also do not think these peace talks will be successful. Does the U.S. have the patience to stay in this war for that long? Definitely not. But I also do not expect the U.S. to be leaving anytime soon.

South Korea Wants A New Amphibious Ship Designed To Carry F-35Bs

South Korea already operates the landing platform helicopter ship Marado. (Courtesy of the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration)

Warzone/The Drive: South Korea Kicks Off Development Of A New Amphibious Ship Designed To Carry F-35Bs

The planned ship will give the South Koreans a significant boost in capability for operations around and beyond the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea is in the early stages of developing a new, larger amphibious assault ship that could support short-takeoff and vertical-landing combat aircraft and plan to launch the ship toward the latter end of the next decade. For more than a year, the South Koreans have been considering a purchase of up to 20 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, which would likely form the core of the air wing onboard this future vessel.

South Korea's decision to acquire the ship, presently known only as Landing Platform Helicopter-II, or LPH-II, reportedly came during a meeting that South Korean Army General Park Han Ki, the Chairman of the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff, held on July 12, 2019. LPH-II is a reference to the ship being a successor South Korean Navy's two Dokdo class LPHs.

Read more ....

Update: South Korea to build ship for short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing aircraft (Defense News)

WNU Editor: The key stats to know about this new ship ....  

.... The new LPH is to be refit to displace 30,000 tons, double the capacity of the previous two LPHs — Dokdo and Marado — with 14,500 tons of displacement. The carrier-type vessel is also bigger than the 27,000 tons associated with Japan’s Izumo-class helicopter destroyers.

In short, this is the first time that a light aircraft carrier-class ship is being proposed under South Korea’s force improvement plans

How Tensions In Northeast Asia Led To South Korea Firing Warning Shots At A Russian Warplane

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Josh Smith, Reuters: How a web of disputes between Japan, South Korea, North Korea, China, and Russia almost boiled over this week

* Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan were all involved in encounters on, in, and above a patch of ocean in northeast Asia this week.
* The countries are all involved in disputes over air, land, and water in the area.

SEOUL (Reuters) - The wedge of sea between Japan, Russia, and the Korean peninsula became a new flashpoint this week, with a regional airspace dispute, a seized fishing boat, and missile tests by North Korea aggravating longstanding tensions.

The patch of ocean is commonly known as the Sea of Japan, but South Korea argues it should be known by the more neutral name the East Sea.

The dispute over the name exemplifies the numerous conflicting interests in the area, which has been the scene of sometimes intense military and political brinkmanship.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Both China and Russia feel embolden with their political-military alliance. Expect more confrontations in the future in this part of Asia.

This Is How The X-37B Spaceplane Can 'Disappear'

US Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 4 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, May 7, 2017. US Air Force

Popular Mechanics: Here's How the X-37B Spaceplane 'Disappears'

The winged spacecraft can alter its orbit to confound adversaries.

Former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson revealed to an audience last week that the X-37B spaceplane can pull off maneuvers in space that drives potential adversaries “nuts.” Although maddeningly unspecific, experts believe she was referring to the X-37B’s ability to change its orbit, throwing off both amateur and professional satellite watchers and making the spacecraft unpredictable.

According to, Wilson was speaking at the Apsen Security Forum when she remarked that the X-37B "can do an orbit that looks like an egg and, when it's close to the Earth, it's close enough to the atmosphere to turn where it is."

"Which means our adversaries don't know—and that happens on the far side of the Earth from our adversaries—where it's going to come up next. And we know that that drives them nuts. And I'm really glad about that."

Read more ....

Update: The Air Force's former top civilian explains how the mysterious X-37B spacecraft drives US foes 'nuts' ( Insider)

WNU Editor: It looks like the X-37B is going for a new record .... Is the US Air Force's Secretive X-37B Space Plane Headed for New Record? (

Business Is Good For America's Defense Industry

The F-35 Lightning II production line at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Lockheed Martin

CNBC: There’s no business like the arms business: Here’s how the top US defense companies did in Q2 earnings

* Here’s how America’s top five defense firms — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon — did during second-quarter earnings.
* Next week, the Senate will vote on a $1.3 trillion budget deal that includes $738 billion for defense spending.

WASHINGTON — Nobody spends money on arms like the United States, and it shows in the bottom lines of the biggest defense contractors.

The Trump administration’s 2019 defense-friendly spending bill increased the Pentagon’s spending power to a grand total of $717 billion. Next week, the Senate will vote on a $1.3 trillion budget deal for fiscal year 2020 that includes $738 billion for defense.

This week, America’s top five defense firms — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon — posted their second-quarter earnings. While the companies’ quarterly performances remained strong, collectively their stocks were largely unchanged. The iShares U.S. Aerospace and Defense ETF was slightly higher for this week after the companies reported. So far this year the benchmark ETF is up nearly 26%.

Here’s how America’s defense industry giants did.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is an easy prediction. Business is going to get even better. Especially with the rise of China and the growing arms race in Asia.

U.S. Special Ops Are Adopting The Secret Service's Command SUV For Crisis Response Missions

A WHCA Roadrunner with the cakepan-style satellite communications antenna on top. Paul Carter

Warzone/The Drive: Look Inside The Secret Service's Command SUVs That Are Being Converted For Special Ops Use

These "Roadrunners" will now support special operators during crisis response missions in the United States and elsewhere in North America.

Special Operations Command North, or SOCNORTH, is in the process of converting six Chevy Suburban sport utility vehicles to better meet the needs of its Crisis Response Team. The White House Communications Agency had previously used these already heavily modified "Roadrunners" to provide critical command and control and communications support for presidential motorcades, something you can read about in great detail in this past War Zone feature. We now have pictures of the outside and inside of these SUVs that offer a unique look at their previous lives and future roles.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is one thing that I can say about these SUVs. They stick out.

National Interest: Meet Kim Yo-jong: North Korea’s Most Powerful Woman

The sister of Kim Jong-un has been rising in the leadership ranks since she was a teenager, and might be considered North Korea’s second-in-command. The CFTNI’s Korean Studies team presents a look into her early years as part of a new series.

n an era when North Korea has begun to shift its focus away from its nuclear weapons capabilities to pursue a “charm offensive” aimed at transforming its global image, one person stands out: Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone following North Korea over the last several years. Many observers first saw her at the Pyeongchang Olympics, where she sat strategically positioned near U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Yo-jong’s historic visit to South Korea challenged preconceived perceptions of North Korea’s elite. She was a symbol of a North Korea very few people could have conceived of: young, friendly, and charismatic.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Long time readers of WNU know that she has been on our radar since 2014 .... Report: Kim Jong-Un's Younger Sister Has Taken Control Of North Korea (October 1, 2014).

Tweets For Today

A Summary On The 40 Year Battle Between The U.S. Intel Community And Iran's Rvolutionary Guards

Yahoo News: Shadow force: The secret history of the U.S. intelligence community's battle with Iran's Revolutionary Guard

The hackers pretended to be professors, appealing to Achilles’ heel of academics: their egos. Posing as admiring colleagues from other universities, they emailed their targets, claiming they had enjoyed their articles and wanted to read more of their work. The emails contained links to articles the “professors” claimed they could not access.

Once the actual professors clicked on these links, they were redirected to what seemed to be the login page for their universities, making it appear they had somehow inadvertently signed out. But the login page was fake. And once the professors entered their usernames and passwords, the information was captured by the hackers, who then had free rein over their accounts.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A good and brief summary.

Picture Of The Day

Guatemalan migrant Lety Perez embraces her son Anthony while praying to ask a member of the Mexican National Guard to let them cross into the United States, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico July 22, 2019. The mother and son had traveled some 1,500 miles (2,410 km) from their home country of Guatemala to the border city of Ciudad Juarez, only to be stopped mere feet from the U.S. When the soldier glanced away, Perez lunged into the shrubs growing on the side of the river bank, pulling her son with her. They quickly ran across to the other side of the river and out of the guardsmen's jurisdiction where U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents took them into custody. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Photos of the week (Reuters).