Tuesday, June 30, 2020

EU Excludes United States From Their 'Safe' Travel List

Reuters: EU excludes United States from 'safe' travel list

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union has excluded the United States from its initial “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday.

The 27-member bloc gave majority approval on Tuesday to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders, the Council of the EU, which represents EU governments.

The countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:I am surprised to see Canada on the EU "safe" list. We are still getting hundreds of cases per day. And Canada does have a lot of restrictions. There is a travel ban for all foreign travellers until the end of July, and a 14 day quarantine is mandatory.

Will The Border Conflict Between China And India Lead To A Naval War?

RCD/The Strategist: Will the India–China Border Conflict Lead to a Naval War?

The recent developments in Ladakh on the disputed border between India and China were shocking and tragic. The clash in Galwan Valley last week has opened up a deep fissure in India–China ties, spawning tensions that could even escalate into an all-out-war. The latest reports suggest the Indian armed forces have begun a rapid mobilisation and the Chinese military has been shoring up its positions, even as political efforts are on to defuse the crisis.

With a spiral of escalation building, a conflict so far limited to the Line of Actual Control with China could see other theatres open up, including one in the Indian Ocean. Unlike on the land border, where China has a relative advantage of terrain, military infrastructure and troop strength, India is better placed at sea. In the Eastern Indian Ocean through which most of China’s cargo and energy shipments pass, the Indian Navy is the dominant force.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For the moment India is focused on building up its border defenses .... India moves air defense missiles to Chinese border (UPI). More here .... India Sends Tanks Along Border To Prevent China "Redefining" Line Of Actual Control (Zero Hedge).

China May Have A New Stealth Fighter

J-20. Via Wikimedia Commons

Forbes: Surprise! China May Have A New Stealth Fighter

China might be developing a new stealth fighter, if an announcement from the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment—a government research organization—is any indication.

For those keeping count, the new plane could be the sixth manned, radar-evading warplane in service or in development in China.

To put that in context, the world’s leading operator of stealth aircraft, the United States, has fielded six different manned stealth aircraft types, five of which remain in service—the F-117, the B-2, the F-22 and the three highly distinctive variants of the F-35.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It would not escape me if China has more than one fighter project in development.

Top U.S. Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Fauci Warns Spread 'Could Get Very Bad'

Daily Mail: Dr. Fauci predicts America will have 100,000 new coronavirus cases every DAY as number hits 40,000 'if things don't turn round' and warns 'it could get very bad'

* Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified that the U.S. could start seeing up to 100,000 infections each day
* There are currently about 40,000 infections each day
* But he warned Americans weren't practicing sufficient social distancing
* U.S. infection rates have spiked even as other nations saw theirs go down
* 'I think it's important to tell you and the American public that I'm very concerned because it could get very bad,' he testified Tuesday
* COVID-19 cases across the US increased by 46 percent in the week ending June 28, compared to the previous seven days, with the majority of rises in the West and South
* Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the HELP Committee chairman, urged the president to wear a mask as an example
* Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders quizzed health experts on the idea of having the government distribute masks to every U.S. household
* Dr. Tony Fauci responded there was 'no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected'
* Fauci and other experts testified before the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a dire prediction about U.S. coronavirus infection rates Tuesday – saying as many as 100,000 Americans could become infected each day if the nation doesn't make urgent behavioral changes.

Fauci made the bleak prediction as new coronavirus cases surged 46 per cent amid new outbreaks in the south and west.

Diagnoses almost doubled last week with 31 states reporting an uptick in cases - as Arizona became the latest hot spot to reverse its reopening by closing bars and gyms.

COVID-19 cases across the US increased by 46 percent in the week ending June 28, compared to the previous seven days, with the majority of rises in the West and South of the country.

Nationally, new cases have consistently spiked every week for four straight weeks. Daily cases have been increasing to record highs of 40,000 in the past week - well above the initial surge of infections that were seen back in mid-April.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There was nothing positive in his testimony today.

More News On Top U.S. Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Fauci's Senate Testimony Today

Fauci: US ‘going in wrong direction’ in coronavirus outbreak -- AP
Fauci says no guarantee U.S. will have effective COVID-19 vaccine, warns spread 'could get very bad' -- Reuters
Dr. Anthony Fauci says U.S. coronavirus outbreak is ‘going to be very disturbing,’ could top 100,000 new cases a day -- CNBC
Fauci warns Congress that new US coronavirus cases could rise to 100,000 a day -- CNN
Fauci: 'Too early to say' what caused coronavirus cases to surge in parts of US -- FOX News
Fauci warns U.S. could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day -- Axios
U.S. coronavirus cases rise by 47,000, biggest one-day spike of pandemic -- Reuters

Editor's Note

Just finishing up on a project right now. Blogging will return later this evening.

Rzhev Memorial To Soviet Soldiers Dedicated Today By Russian President Putin And Belarusian President Lukashenko

Belta: Opening of Rzhev memorial described as landmark event for Belarusians

RZHEV, 30 June (BelTA) - The opening of the Rzhev Monument to the Soviet Soldier, which took place with the participation of presidents of Belarus and Russia Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin on 30 June, is a landmark event not only for Russians but also for Belarusians, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko told BelTA.

According to the latest data, the Soviet army lost 1.400 million soldiers in the battles near Rzhev. “There were a lot of Belarusians among them," said Vladimir Semashko. “Many Belarusians retreated together with the Red Army troops. Together they defeated the Germans near Moscow, participated in the battles near Rzhev where from January 1942 to March 1943 the Red Army conducted both defensive and offensive operations to deter the Nazis from a new offensive on Moscow, on the one hand, and on the other - to pull their forces and assets from the southern direction. Belarusians participated in all operations and on all fronts,” the ambassador noted.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Rzhev is 50 kilometers north of my mother's home town of Vyazma. Some of the most intense fighting during the Second World war occurred along this front. Before the war Vyazma had a population of 50,000. After the war only a few hundred survived, including my mother..

India Bans Chinese-Owned Apps That Include Tiktok Due To Recent Border Clashes

The Hill: India bans dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok

India on Monday banned dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok, pointing to privacy and security concerns, a move that comes less than two weeks after a deadly skirmish along the border of the two nations.

The Ministry of Electronics & IT said that the 59 apps were “engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, and security of state and public order."

“The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues,” the Indian government agency also said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I am willing to bet that this ban will be temporary.

More News On India Banning Chinese-Owned Apps

The Chinese app that Modi took to as a gesture of friendship is now banned in India -- Quartz
Ban on Chinese apps, including TikTok, surprises India content makers -- CNN
Beijing says it's 'strongly concerned' by India's decision to ban Chinese apps -- CNN
India’s Ban of 59 Chinese Apps Is the Latest Test for Beijing’s Faltering ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy' -- Time

China Approves Hong Kong Security Law

VOA: China's Approval of Hong Kong Security Law Sparks Widespread Jitters

HONG KONG - China’s legislature has passed a controversial national security law for Hong Kong that is causing widespread jitters among activists and ordinary citizens. Passage of the law has prompted several activist groups to immediately close while individuals delete social media posts out of fear that the new measures could send them to jail.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that China’s top lawmaking body, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, adopted the measure on Tuesday and President Xi Jinping signed an order to endorse it.  Xinhua said the new measure will be added to a list of national laws that apply to Hong Kong in an annex of its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China and Hong  Kong are going to try and make believe that nothing has changed. But everything has changed.

More News On China Approving Hong Kong Security Law

China passes sweeping Hong Kong national security law -- CNN
China enacts sweeping national security law seen as major blow to Hong Kong autonomy -- NBC/Reuters
China's Xi Jinping signs new security legislation for Hong Kong -- Nikkei Asian Review
China passes sweeping national security laws for Hong Kong, further crushing the city's autonomy -- Business Insider
Details of China's national security law for Hong Kong unveiled -- Al Jazeera

President Trump Called Former UK PM Theresa May Weak. Germany's Angela Merkel 'Stupid'

The president is said to have 'bullied' Theresa May when she was prime minister

The Hill: Trump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report

Senior U.S. officials believed President Trump posed a danger to national security after phone calls to other heads of state, according to classified phone calls obtained by CNN.

The CNN report claims that multiple high-ranking administration officials, such as former national security adviser John Bolton, former Defense Secretary James Mattis and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, concluded that the president was "delusional” after the phone calls.

Trump reportedly told former British Prime Minister Theresa May that she was "a fool" and spineless in her approach to Brexit, NATO and immigration policy. He also told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was "stupid” and accused her of being in the pocket of the Russians.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump said to be 'humiliating and bullying' toward Theresa May in phone calls that left her 'flustered and nervous' (Business Insider)
Update #2: Donald Trump: Theresa May told she was 'weak' during phone call with president, report claims (SKY News)

WNU Editor: I do not know if President Trump said all of these things. This is CNN after-all. But in my book former British Prime Minister Theresa May is the worst politician that I have ever seen. She calls an election when she has a clear mandate to deliver on Brexit and to rule. Loses her majority when she declares in the middle of the campaign that she is going to raise everyone's taxes?!?!?!? Talk about completely burning your own base. And even though she still manages to squeak in a minority government because the alternative of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn was not palatable to the majority in the UK .... she spends the next two years dithering and procrastinating on Brexit. It is not a surprise to me that when she finally left government, her polling numbers were the lowest for a leader in decades. Bottom line. Theresa May as a leader was weak. And as for Angela Merkel. As this blog predicted almost five years ago when Chancellor Merkel declared that Germany would open her borders to accept refugees, she set into motion a sequence of events that would not only be damaging to the European Union, but may never be resolved. The biggest migration crisis in Europe since the Second World War, the original impetuous for the UK to leave the EU, the revival of nationalism on the continent, and a large migrant population that is not assimilating. Using the word "stupid" to describe German Chancellor Merkel and her decisions is a soft description in my book.

The U.S. Army Wants To Expand Its Recruiting Drive Online

Army-Technology: US Army to opt for virtual recruitment to meet end-strength goal

The US Army is planning to leverage virtual technologies for recruitment in a bid to meet end-strength goal of 485,000 soldiers by 30 September.

Army News Service Thomas Brading reported that the military branch aims to sign 10,000 enlistment contracts during a three-day virtual hiring programme scheduled to start from 30 June.

Army Training and Doctrine Command commander General Paul Funk said: “We’re looking for those young men and women that want to be infantry people; multiple launch rocket systems crew members; air and missile defence crew members; unmanned aircraft systems operators.

Read more ....

Update: Army recruiters pushing more into digital world (US Army)

WNU Editor: The 18 to 30 generation are always online. It makes sense that this is one avenue that can be used to find new recruits.

F-35 Vs. A-10 Warthog


National Interest: F-35 Vs. A-10 Warthog: Which Plane Wins the Battle for Close Air Support King?

The US Army wants the F-35 to support its ground troops, but Congress loves the A-10.

Here's What You Need To Remember: Regardless of the conclusions arrived upon by the ongoing assessment, it is likely both the A-10 and F-35 will perform CAS missions in the immediate years ahead.

The US Army wants the F-35 to support its ground troops.

It’s that simple. We hear volumes of information about the Marine Corps vertical-take-off-and-landing F-35B, Navy carrier-launched F-35C and Air Force F-35A - but what does the Army think of the emerging Joint Strike Fighter?

Does the Army think the 5th-Gen stealth fighter would bring substantial value to targeting and attacking enemy ground forces in close proximity to advancing infantry? What kind of Close Air Support could it bring to high-risk, high-casualty ground war?

Read more ....

WNU Editor:I have been hearing for years that there will be  F-35 vs. A-10 close air support test to see which one is the best. And each year it is always postponed with the excuse that the F-35 is not ready. That tells me which of the two planes is best in providing CAS.

The U.S. Army To Get A 120mm Mortar System

Photo by Patrick Albright

Defence-Blog: Patria, Kongsberg to build U.S. Army’s future mortar system

Finnish aerospace and defense Patria Group, along with its partner Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, has announced that it will develop a new mortar system for the U.S. Army.

According to a press release issued Tuesday by Patria, the team will provide to the U.S. market a combination of Patria’s mortar systems together with Kongsberg’s U.S. remote weapons systems (RWS) manufacturing capabilities and experience in the U.S. market.

Read more ....

Update: Kongsberg and Patria team up to provide turreted mortar solutions (Army Recognition)

WNU Editor: That is one big mortar system.

Unique Satellite Image Shows Russia’s Newest Ballistic Missile Submarine Leaving The Port City Of Severodvinsk

The Satellite image shows the Russian Navy Submarine Knyaz Vladimir leaving Severodvinsk where it was built. H I Sutton (Imagery from Sentinel Hub)

Forbes: Russia’s Newest Submarine Caught In Unusual Satellite Image

On Monday, a satellite passing over Russia’s arctic north captured an intriguing image. You can see a bright light, followed by a long plume stretching miles behind it. At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that it has caught a rocket launch in mid-flight. But it is in fact Russia’s newest submarine, the Knyaz Vladimir.

The image was spotted by open-source intelligence expert Frank Bottema (twitter). Bottema was researching other vessel movements when he noticed what looked like a missile streaking out into the White Sea from the port city of Severodvinsk. Its location, and the fact that no warning notices or sea closures were reported (which can indicate missile tests) quickly pointed to something other than a missile test. But visually,it is unusual for a submarine to look like this in satellite imagery.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: That is one hell of a long wake. 

China Discovers Major Oil And Gas Deposit In Disputed Region Of The South China Sea

Beijing has deployed a new oil rig in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Photo: Weibo

OilPrice.com: Chinese Oil Major Strikes It Big In South China Sea

The listed arm of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) said on Monday that it had made a significant discovery of oil and natural gas in the eastern part of the South China Sea.

A discovery well at the Huizhou 26-6 discovery in the Pearl River Mouth Basin in the Eastern South China Sea was tested to produce around 2,020 barrels of oil and 15.36 million cubic feet of gas per day.

CNOOC expects the new oilfield to become the first mid-to-large sized condensate oil and gas field in the shallow water area of Pearl River Mouth Basin.

CNOOC's new discovery could be a boon to China's ambitions to boost its domestic oil and natural gas production in an attempt to lessen its dependence on oil and gas imports. State-controlled CNOOC is one of the companies that China has tasked with replacing domestic reserves, even as the oil price crash has forced Chinese state oil majors to cut capital expenditures for this year.

Read more ....

Update: CNOOC proves oil and gas in complex South China Sea play (Offshore)

WNU Editor: This discovery has just raised the stakes in the South China Sea.

Iran's Fishing Fleet Is Accused Of Stealing Somalia's Fish Resources

Iranian vessels have been operating in Somali waters for more than a year (Charles Kilgour/Global Fishing Watch)

The Guardian: Iranian fleet accused of stealing Somalian fish despite acute food shortage

Evidence from NGOs suggests fleet of up to 192 Iranian vessels could be one of the largest illegal fishing operations in the world

A large fleet of Iranian fishing vessels has been identified operating illegally in Somalian waters for over a year, depleting fish stocks in a country where one in three people face acute shortages of food.

The Somali government, which is unable to police its vast coastline, has expressed concern over food and maritime security and has called on Iran to investigate.

Analysis by Global Fishing Watch, a nonprofit which tracks vessels, and Trygg Mat Tracking, an NGO which provides fisheries intelligence and analysis to African coastal states to help fight illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, suggests it could be one of the largest illegal fishing operations in the world.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Iranian fishing boats are also operating off the coast of Yemen .... Iranian ships conducted 'world's largest illegal fishing operations' in Somali and Yemeni waters (Middle East Eye). Chinese fishing vessels are also operating off Somalia's coast, and reviving fears that Somali fisherman may go back to piracy in order to make a living .... China-Somalia fishing deal may revive sea piracy (TRT).

U.S. Air Force Wants Its Arsenal Plane To Be Able To Launch Long-Range Missiles ‘En Masse’

Lockheed Martin MC-130J. Source: US Air Force

Flight Global: US Air Force requests ideas for arsenal plane to launch long-range missiles ‘en masse’

The US Air Force (USAF) is looking for idea for an aircraft prototype that would be able to launch long-range missiles en masse.

The service and the US secretary of defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office are partnering to survey the market for ideas and research technical maturity, feasibility and operational utility of using such an aircraft to launch weapons, says the USAF in a request for information posted online on 25 June. The Department of Defense says it prefers aircraft designs that could quickly enter experimentation and prototyping for rapid development and fielding.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The critics are stating to weigh in on their objections to an "arsenal plane" .... Five reasons an arsenal plane isn’t the best choice for rebalancing America’s long-range strike forces (Mark Gunzinger, Defense News). More here .... Report: Standoff Weapons and Arsenal Plane No Match for Bombers (Air Force Magazine).

Pentagon Releases Rare Video Showing Green Berets Training In Taiwan

Warzone/The Drive: Army Releases Ultra Rare Video Showing Green Berets Training In Taiwan

The equally rare public confirmation of the exercise comes as fears of a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait are growing.

An official video from the U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Group has offered a rare look at Green Berets training on the island of Taiwan. The unusual release comes at a time when authorities in Taipei are looking to further distance themselves from the mainland government in Beijing, which has prompted threats from Chinese officials. In addition, the U.S. government has increasingly shown its support for Taiwan in more visible ways, including sending warships and aircraft through the Taiwan Strait and approving significant arms sales to the Taiwanese military.

The 1st Special Forces Group first posted the short motivational video, titled "Excellence," on its official Facebook page on June 16, 2020, and it remains up and prominently featured there at the time of writing. One segment notably shows Green Berets carrying a mock casualty to what is clearly a Taiwanese Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter, which is readily identifiable by the blue and white insignia on the tail boom. In another clip, an individual is seen holding a Type 91 assault rifle, the standard individual arm of the Taiwanese military.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Cannot tell much from the video, but US soldiers training in Taiwan is nothing new.

How SEALs Are Picked, Trained, And Paid

US Navy SEAL candidates during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, January 23, 2018. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt

Business Insider/SOFREP: Everything you want to know about Navy Special Warfare: How SEALs are picked, trained, and paid

* US Naval Special Warfare Command is the Navy component of US Special Operations Command.
* NSWC is organized around Navy SEAL teams, Special Warfare Combatant-craft teams, and other supporting units.
* Below, you can see how Navy SEALs and Combatant-craft crew members are selected and trained and how they're equipped and paid.

How long is Navy boot camp?

Navy Boot Camp is seven to eight weeks long, depending on scheduling. Navy Boot Camp resides at the Recruit Training Command (RTC) in Great Lakes, Illinois, which is in close proximity to Chicago. In Boot Camp, civilian recruits are transformed into Navy sailors.

During their time at RTC, recruits are subjected to physical training and military discipline. They are trained in subjects such as seamanship, small-arms familiarization, swimming qualification, firefighting, and ship damage control. Navy history, traditions, and core values are an integral part of the Boot Camp regimen, and recruits are constantly taught and questioned on these subjects.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They are not paid enough.

US Navy's Secret SHARC Spy Vessel Spotted Off The Coast Of Florida

Forbes: Mystery Unmanned Craft Seen Off Florida May Be Secret SHARC Spy Vessel

A ‘what is this?’ Facebook video from FishMonster, picked up by HI Sutton on his Covert Shores site, shows a curious vehicle spotted off Florida’s Key West last week. Virtually the only part of it above water is a mast supporting an array of antennae. The vehicle is almost certainly a Wave Glider made by U.S. company Liquid Robotics (now owned by Boeing BA ) , and the antennas suggest it is part of a U.S. Navy program known as Sensor Hosting Autonomous Remote Craft, or SHARC.

Read more ....

Update #1: Mysterious Wave Glider Spotted Off Florida Keys Had Electronic Intel Gathering System (Updated) (Warzone/The Drive)
Update #2: Stealthy US Robotic Spy Craft Caught on Video Near Florida, Media Claims (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: With its low radar signature I can understand why this would be suitable for intelligence and surveillance operations.

U.S. Will Deploy Its New B-21 Stealth Bomber To The Pacific

The B-21 Raider - artist's impression. (U.S. Air Force)

FOX News: Pentagon will deploy its new B-21 stealth bomber to Pacific

The B-21 stealth bomber will be deployed to the Pacific, according to Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs David Helvey.

The Pentagon plans to deploy its emerging B-21 stealth bomber in the Pacific as part of a decided effort to ensure technical superiority, sustain deterrence and, if needed, hold potential adversaries at risk.

The plan, articulated by Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs David Helvey, incorporates the integration of surveillance assets, submarines and what the Pentagon envisions as a new generation of stealth technology contained in the B-21.

“We're making investments to ensure that we maintain operational readiness and strengthen the conventional capabilities that we have that are our enduring advantage such as submarines, the new B-21 Stealth bomber, the P-8 aircraft,” Helvey told reporters June 18, according to a Pentagon transcript.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: All eyes are on China.

US Marines Are Testing A New Weapon That Can Electrocute Enemies From 300 Feet Away

The U.S. Sun: ZAP! US Marines’ new weapon can electrocute enemies from 300 feet away – and is so dangerous they had to make it LESS deadly

THE US Marine Corps is testing a powerful electroshock weapon that can zap enemies from 300 feet away.

Dubbed "Specter", the non-lethal projectile can be fired from a shotgun and downs targets using a taser-like electric shock.

The weapon is the brainchild of Colorado-based tech research firm Harkind Dynamics and is part-funded by the US Department of Defense, New Scientist reports.

The makers of Specter (Small arms Pulsed Electronic Tetanization at Extended Range) say it can be fired from any 12-gauge shotgun.

It's designed to incapacitate targets rather than kill them, with a range of up to 330 feet (100 metres) – roughly the length of a football pitch.

For comparison, the average range of a taser is roughly 25 feet (7.6 metres).

Read more ....

Update #1: US Military Tests 330-Feet Long-Range Electrocution Weapon -- Interesting Engineering
Update #2: The US Marine Corps’ New Weapon Can Electrocute Targets from 100 Feet Away -- Futurism

WNU Editor:Useful if you want to capture someone alive.

Should President Trump Have Been Briefed On The Russian Bounty Intelligence?

CNN: Former Intelligence officials scoff at White House denials that Trump wasn't briefed on Russia bounty

In response to reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops in Afghanistan, the White House has denied that President Donald Trump was "personally briefed" on the matter, claiming that the intelligence "wasn't verified."

But a US official familiar with the latest information told CNN on Monday that intelligence about the Russian bounty was included in the President's Daily Briefing (PDB) sometime in the spring. The written document includes the intelligence communities' most important and urgent information. On Monday night, the New York Times reported that the information was included in a written briefing to the President in late February.

Trump is not known to read his daily briefing, and instead prefers an oral briefing a few times a week.

These latest revelations come as numerous former senior intelligence officials are pushing back on the White House denials, saying it was "absurd," "ridiculous," and "inconceivable" that the President would not have been briefed on such critical intelligence that potentially put US soldiers in harm's way.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When I first I started this blog, I learned very quickly that the debate on what to put in a Presidential intelligence briefing has been an ongoing discussion for years. In this case, if the New York Times/Washington Post reporting is accurate, U.S. intelligence learned that a lot of US money was found in a Taliban outpost, and the prisoners told those that captured them that it was given to them by Russians to kill US soldiers. The problem with that story is that the Taliban do not need to be bribed with money to kill US soldiers. They are doing it for free. And considering the source .... low level Taliban prisoners and criminals .... not a very good source of intel. So to notify the President based solely on this intel is to me a waste of time. And considering when this intel was brought up the chain of command, in the middle of a pandemic that was gripping the world, it would have been an unnecessary diversion. As to the accuracy of the media on reporting this story. It is revealing to me that Richard Grenell, who was the acting Director of National Intelligence during this time and who would be privy to all intel, is saying that this is the first time he is hearing this. Which (for me) puts into doubt the entire media narrative behind this story.

Update: Even NBC has trouble making the case .... Russia intel mystery: How strong is the case Russia bribed the Taliban to kill Americans? (NBC).

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

A couple draws their firearms on protestors, one of whom holds a video camera and microphone (R), as they enter their neighborhood during a protest against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, in St. Louis, Missouri. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Top Photos of the Day (Reuters).

Monday, June 29, 2020

Gold Market Rocked By Massive China Counterfeiting Scandal Involving 83 Tons Of Fake Gold Bars

Zero Hedge: 83 Tons Of Fake Gold Bars: Gold Market Rocked By Massive China Counterfeiting Scandal

Over the years, we have periodically reported of the occasional gold bar discovered as counterfeit in Manhattan's Diamond District which instead of containing the yellow precious metal would be filled with gold-plated tungsten or in some cases copper. The news would spark a brief wave of outrage, prompting physical gold holders to run ultrasound spot checks of their inventory, at which point interest would wane and why not: buyer, after all, beware in gold as in every other market, and if someone is spending thousands to buy fake gold, well that's Darwinism in action.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: That is a lot of fake gold. But China is not the only country facing this problem. Even in Canada there has been cases like this one .... Fake gold not ours, mint says (CBC).

Are President Trump's Phone Calls A Security Risk?

CNN: From pandering to Putin to abusing allies and ignoring his own advisers, Trump's phone calls alarm US officials

(CNN)In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America's principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials -- including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff -- that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is well known that President Trump is someone that is almost always on the phone. Apparently the only time that he is not on a phone is when he is playing golf. But even though he is always on the phone, the details of his conversations are rarely made public. From the few phone calls of President Trump that have been leaked and/or released .... his conversation with Ukraine President Zelenskiy that led to him being impeached by the Congress, Philippine President Duterte, former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull .... I have found the phone calls to be straight forward and respectful. As for his conversations with Putin. I understand that they do talk regularly on a wide range of issues. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact. That is what world leaders do all the time. So why this CNN story right now? It is obvious that some former and current officials feel left out. But calling this a security risk .... that is a stretch. Trump is the President. He has the mandate to discuss national security issues with world leaders if he chooses to. I still remember President Trump's administration warning the Kremlin last year that US intelligence had learned of a terror plot in Saint Petersburg .... Putin thanks Trump for foiling New Year attacks (BBC). Many in Washington were not happy that certain US intelligence methods may have been compromised with this warning and subsequent phone calls between the two leaders. I say too bad. That is not a decision for them to make. Nor should it be.

The Covid-19 Coronavirus Continues To Mutate

The spikes on the outside of the coronavirus (illustrated in red) are what it uses to latch onto cells on the inside of a victim's airways. A mutated version of the virus appears to have developed stronger spikes so it is more likely to infect someone if they breathe it in, scientists say

Daily Mail: World's dominant strain of coronavirus 'is 10 TIMES more infectious than the one that jumped to humans in China' because it mutated so its vital spike protein doesn't snap as often in the body, scientists say

* Experts in Florida have added deeper understanding about the changed virus
* They say spike protein in original version of Covid-19 was weaker and snapped
* But the dominant strain in Europe and North America has evolved to be stronger
* This does not, however, appear to make patients any sicker or less sick

A mutated version of the coronavirus that has gripped Europe and the West is more infectious because it doesn't break as often while inside the body, a study has found.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida say the 'spike protein' that the virus uses to attach to cells in the airways has adapted since January.

It used to break off regularly while trying to bind to receptors in people's airways, which it would use to gain entry to the body, but is now more resilient, they say.

A genetic mutation which scientists around the world have been picking up on for months appears to have caused this spike to be less likely to snap, and also to force the coronaviruses to produce more of them to make itself more infectious.

Read more ....

Update: This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why. (Washington Post)

WNU Editor:You have to wonder if the vaccines that are being developed will work if the coronavirus continues to mutate.

Poll: European Trust In The US As A World Leader Has Collapsed During The Pandemic

The Guardian: Europeans' trust in US as world leader collapses during pandemic

Many citizens appalled by Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus crisis, study finds.

The coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic deterioration in the European public perception of the US, extensive new polling reveals.

More than 60% of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in the United States as a global leader.

A report based on the survey’s findings argues that the shock of the pandemic has “traumatised” European citizens, leaving them feeling “alone and vulnerable”.

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WNU Editor: Details on this poll are here .... Together in trauma: Europeans and the world after covid-19 (European Council on Foreign Relations). What's my take of this poll. The U.S. is not alone in not being trusted. Most Europeans do not trust their own EU institutions and fellow EU member states.

World News Briefs -- June 29, 2020 (Evening Edition)

CNBC: Nearly half the U.S. population is without a job, showing how far the labor recovery has to go

* The employment-population ratio — the number of employed people as a percentage of the U.S. adult population — plunged to 52.8% in May, meaning 47.2% of Americans are jobless.
* As the coronavirus-induced shutdown tore through the labor market, the share of population employed dropped sharply from a recent high of 61.2% in January, farther away from a post-war record of 64.7% in 2000.
* “To get the employment-to-population ratio back to where it was at its peak in 2000 we need to create 30 million jobs,” said Torsten Slok, Deutsche Bank’s chief economist.
* Investors will look to this week’s June jobs report for an update on the pace of the labor market recovery.

Nearly half of the population is still out of a job showing just how far the U.S. labor market has to heal in the wake of the coronavirus.

The employment-population ratio — the number of employed people as a percentage of the U.S. adult population — plunged to 52.8% in May, meaning 47.2% of Americans are jobless, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the coronavirus-induced shutdowns tore through the labor market, the share of population employed dropped sharply from a recent high of 61.2% in January, farther away from a post-war record of 64.7% in 2000.

Read more ....


Syria faces mass starvation or mass exodus without more aid, WFP says.

Iraq frees pro-Iran fighters held over rocket fire.

Coalition denies Iraqi militia’s claim that it caused C-130 crash in Iraq.

Iran reports record 162 COVID-19 single-day death toll.

Iran issues arrest warrant for Trump over drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani.

Interpol says it can't act on Iran's request to arrest Trump for ordering the k.illing of General Soleimani.

Iran's currency plummets to lowest level against the US dollar.

Netanyahu’s annexation plan threatens Palestinian, Israeli economies already struggling after Covid-19.

Netanyahu’s annexation plan in disarray as Gantz calls for delay.

Lebanon top finance official resigns citing bad crisis management.


U.S. begins to pare back Hong Kong's special status.

Civilians killed in rocket attack on Afghanistan cattle market.

China-India border rift simmers with reports of troop moves on both sides.

India bans dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok.

Coronavirus: India reports nearly 20,000 cases a day as it struggles to contain pandemic .

Pakistan: Several dead after gunmen attack stock exchange.

Hong Kong: 'Silent protest' march targets national security law.

Chinese state media accuses Australia of spying campaign, says agents were arrested in 2018.

Locusts overtake India's capital region.

More than a million hit by India monsoon floods.


IMF warns pandemic set to undo decade of progress in Africa.

Congo president vows not to accept judicial reforms that cause 'harm'.

Islamist militants abduct four aid workers in north-east Nigeria.

Libya: Haftar's forces mobilise mercenaries for Sirte battle.

Talks may lead to end of blockade of Libyan oilfields.

'It's my dam': Ethiopians unite around Nile River mega-project.

Ethiopia to begin filling Nile dam in 2 weeks.

Malawi opposition leader sworn in as president after repeat vote.

Somalia to delay elections by 13 months, says official.

Nigeria wants cancellation of African artifacts auction in Paris.


Kosovo president says he will resign if case goes ahead.

Coronavirus: EU to allow in visitors from 14 'safe' countries.

Macron and Merkel push Covid-19 recovery fund as Germany takes on EU presidency.

Irish Parliament elects Michael Martin as new prime minister.

Polish President Duda faces tough run-off vote July 12, according to exit polls.

The US Navy's top admiral in Europe says China is copying Russia's interference playbook there.

US says Putin seeking to stay in power for life.

Russia denies being behind a mysterious radiation leak making its way across Scandinavia.

Ukraine declassifies secret Soviet documents on Chernobyl explosion.

Low voter turnout in French local elections tells a tale of disillusionment.


Facing criticism, White House to brief Democrats on reports Russia paid Taliban to kill U.S. troops.

White House says no intel consensus on Russia bounties.

Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion restrictions.

US Supreme Court declines to take up federal inmates' execution appeal.

Trump pushes back on Biden criticism: 'Russia ate his and Obama's lunch'.

Protests target Bolsonaro after Brazil's worst coronavirus week.

Coronavirus worsens Cuba's economic woes.

Mexico launches raids after assassination attempt of police chief.

Argentina and Brazil crops threatened by locust swarm.

Canada over worst of coronavirus outbreak, U.S. spike a cause for concern: Trudeau.

Pandemic leads to rise in Canada fatal drug overdoses.

Nova Scotia gunman was paranoid survivalist – but not informer, say police.


Washington raises bounty on Daesh leader Mawla to $10 million amid reports of his death.

Pakistan a ‘safe haven’ for ‘terror groups’: U.S. State Department.

India seeks extradition of Mumbai attacks suspected mastermind Sajid Mir.


Wall Street stocks claw back a chunk of last week’s losses.

Coronavirus: UK hardest hit by virus among leading G7 nations.

US to join summit on global green recovery from Covid-19 crisis.

Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection, terminates 3,500.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 29, 2020

LIBYAN MILITARY commander Khalifa Haftar (left) walks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo in April 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Judah Waxelbaum, Jerusalem Post: Egypt is prepared to go to war in Libya

Egypt is hellbent on ensuring any remnants of the Arab Spring come nowhere near their borders.

After a fourteen-month campaign on Tripoli, forces loyal to the Libyan National Army are in retreat. To those who support the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, this should serve as great news. Since 2012, a power vacuum has consumed Libya following the fall of longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Both sides of the civil war view themselves as the true leaders of Libya. The Government of National Accord is the product of a 2015 UN-brokered agreement, known as the Libyan Political Agreement. This agreement was deemed unacceptable by neighboring Egypt, which originates from their political history with those who make up the GNA.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 29, 2020

What's going on between Russia, US and Afghanistan? -- Jonathan Marcus, BBC

All you need to know about Iran's arrest warrant for Trump -- Al Jazeera

Japan’s False Hopes of Courting Russia -- Anna Borshchevskaya, Japan Times

India-Japan naval exercises: a message for China? -- Kunal Purohit, SCMP

China is so fixed on the US, it may lose India -- Zhiqun Zhu, Al Jazeera

Modi vs Xi: Battle of Nationalist Strongmen -- Kevin Brown, The American Conservative

Does Russia-India-China Trilateral Still Matter? -- Aleksei Zakharov, The Diplomat

What is behind the dispute over Africa's largest dam project? -- Al Jazeera

COVID-19 and the Global Safety Net -- Stephanie Segal & Dylan Gerstel, CSIS

Prioritizing the Pentagon in a Pandemic -- Mandy Smithberger, TomDispatch

A Facebook ad boycott has cost Mark Zuckerberg $72 billion. But will it make any difference? -- Emily Sakzewski, DW

Could a boycott kill Facebook? -- James Clayton, BBC

Is China Getting Ready For A Two Front War With US In The South China Sea & India-China Border?

Eurasian Times: China Ready For A Two Front War With US In South China Sea & India-China Border?

India-China Border Clash: Chinese experts acknowledge that Indian Army is expecting a prolonged standoff in the China-India border region but suggest that the US coming to Indian aid would be a fantasy.

India-China border clash seems to be prolonging and possibilities of a full-scale war are looming. The US has extended its support to India over its border conflicts with China and this has expectedly perturbed Beijing.

Chinese experts acknowledge that Indian Army is expecting a prolonged standoff in the China-India border region. They also boost that the Chinese army battle-ready on all the fronts and has accelerated military drills in the South China Sea, Taiwan and India-China border.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China is not even remotely ready to fight two major wars. And neither is anyone else.

China And India Tensions Continues Over Their Border Dispute

The Chinese military carries out a live-fire drill in Tibet as its tensions with India elevated following a deadly clash on the disputed Himalayan border. Photo: Weibo

SCMP: China and India flex military muscle near disputed border

* Satellite images indicate that the People’s Liberation Army has built new bunkers near the site of a deadly clash
* PLA forces hold live-fire drills in Tibet while India deploys battle tanks close to conflict zone

China and India have both strengthened their military presence near their disputed border areas
after a violent clash last week that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.

Citing satellite images from a space technology company Maxar, Reuters reported on Thursday that China appeared to have built new structures near the site of the Himalayan border clash.

The images, taken on Monday, showed bunkers, tents and storage units for military hardware set up in an area where there were none last month.

Read more ....

More News On China And India Tensions Continuing Over Their Border Dispute

China-India border rift simmers with reports of troop moves on both sides -- SCMP
China Intrudes 423 Metres Into Indian Territory In Galwan: Satellite Pics -- NDTV
Prepare for India border row to escalate, Chinese strategists warn Beijing -- SCMP
France Accelerates Rafale Fighter Jet Deliveries To India Over Border Conflict With China – Reports -- Eurasian Times

China Locks Down 500,000 People After Virus Spike Detected Near Beijing

BBC: Hebei: China locks down 400,000 people after virus spike near Beijing

China has reinstated a strict lockdown near Beijing, affecting around 400,000 people, after a small surge in cases.

The restrictions have come into force in Anxin county in Hebei province near the capital.

After the pandemic emerged in China at the end of last year, the country has managed to get new infections to a consistently low level.

To avoid a second wave, even small surges are taken very seriously by the country's health authorities.

Read more ....

Update #1: China puts 500,000 in lockdown as coronavirus cases rise again -- DW
Update #2: China 'seals off' more than 400,000 in Anxin county to tackle small Covid-19 cluster -- The Guardian

WNU Editor: China is in a rush to find a vaccine .... China’s military becomes world’s first to use experimental coronavirus vaccine (SCMP).

WHO: Pandemic 'Is Not Even Close To Being Over'

CNBC: WHO warns coronavirus pandemic is speeding up as countries ease lockdown rules: ‘The worst is yet to come’

* “Although many countries have made some progress, globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual news conference.
* The virus has infected more than 10.1 million people around the world and killed at least 502,634 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
* “The single most important intervention is ... tracing and quarantine contacts,” he said. “Six months since the virus started, it could be like a broken record to say exactly the same thing, but the same thing works. Test, test, isolate, quarantine cases.”

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating around the world as many countries that reopened their economies see a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Monday.

“Although many countries have made some progress, globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up,” he said during a virtual news conference from the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives, but the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over.”

The virus has infected more than 10.1 million people around the world and killed more than 502,000 people so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 60% of daily new cases came from countries in the Americas on Sunday, according to data published by the WHO.

Read more ....

More News On WHO Declaring That The Pandemic 'Is Not Even Close To Being Over'

Pandemic 'is not even close to being over', WHO chief says -- Reuters
After 500,000 deaths, WHO warns worst of coronavirus pandemic is "yet to come" -- CBS/AFP
Coronavirus live news: pandemic is 'not even close to being over', warns WHO chief -- The Guardian
WHO says worst of pandemic 'yet to come': Coronavirus latest -- Al Jazeera
WHO director: Pandemic 'speeding up' -- The Hill
Coronavirus: Worst is still to come on pandemic, WHO chief warns -- BBC
WHO director warns coronavuris pandemic 'not close to being over' -- The Hill
Global Covid-19 death toll reaches half a million -- France 24
Global report: deaths from coronavirus pass half a million -- The Guardian