Monday, August 2, 2021

Who Are China's Allies?

Chinese soldiers on the march in Tiananmen Square. Photo: Settamana News 

 Francesco Sisci, Asia Times: China without an army of friends 

China needs allies, people and countries who will stand for its universal values but it's not clear yet what they are 

As China celebrated its Army Day on August 1, the children of Sunzi, the strategist of victory without a fight, know there is something better than guns for national defense. Or they ought to know. 

China needs friends, people and countries who will stand for China’s universal values, as they stood in the past century for the values of the Soviet Union or the United States. 

The USSR narrative was of liberation from capitalist oppression. The American narrative is about freedom and liberty. These values lead to a lot of mistakes but they are part of the quest for freedom. These narratives are not “the truth” but they have a drive, a global appeal that goes beyond the single country.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: China's lack of having committed allies that will stand by its side in a crisis is a problem and weakness that China has had throughout its history. 

When I was working in China in the 1980s I told my Chinese hosts that they had no real allies. And the ones who support them do so because they have either been bought off and/or are in their debt. My Chinese hosts at the time did not disagree. And sadly .... 30+ years later .... I can say with confidence that they have made zero progress on this file. 

Case in point.

China's closest allies are Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea. To a lesser extent I would add Myanmar, Venezuela, and Cambodia. If a crisis should explode and a shooting war breaks out between China and the U.S., China's allies will keep their distance. This will not be the case for the U.S.. Most of America's allies will jump in to provide not only tangible military support, but also overwhelming political and economic assistance.

Pentagon Is Experimenting With Using Artificial Intelligence To See The Future


Warzone/The Drive: The Pentagon Is Experimenting With Using Artificial Intelligence To "See Days In Advance" 

The Pentagon aims to use cutting-edge cloud networks and artificial intelligence systems to anticipate adversaries' moves before they make them. 

U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) recently conducted a series of tests known as the Global Information Dominance Experiments, or GIDE, which combined global sensor networks, artificial intelligence (AI) systems, and cloud computing resources in an attempt to "achieve information dominance" and "decision-making superiority." According to NORTHCOM leadership, the AI and machine learning tools tested in the experiments could someday offer the Pentagon a robust “ability to see days in advance," meaning it could predict the future with some reliability based on evaluating patterns, anomalies, and trends in massive data sets. While the concept sounds like something out of Minority Report, the commander of NORTHCOM says this capability is already enabled by tools readily available to the Pentagon.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Forget about this tech being used for national security and military operations. The social/political/economic possibilities from developing and applying this type of tech is mind-blowing.

YouTube Suspends Sky News Australia Channel For 7 Days Over Covid Reporting

Business Insider/Reuters: YouTube suspends Sky News Australia for a week after an apparent breach of the platform's COVID content policies 

* YouTube removed videos and issued a strike to Sky News Australia's channel, the tech platform said. 

* A YouTube spokesperson confirmed the move, saying: "We apply our policies equally for everyone." 

* Media outlets said the suspension followed a review of the broadcaster's COVID-related content. 

Sky News Australia said on Sunday it has been temporarily suspended by YouTube following the platform's review of content for compliance with its COVID-19 policies. 

"Sky News Australia acknowledges YouTube's right to enforce its policies and looks forward to continuing to publish its popular news and analysis content to its subscribers shortly," the broadcaster said in a statement on its website in relation to the suspension.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Instapundit makes a good point .... Sky News needs to put together a special unit investigating Google, YouTube and — especially — their top executives.  

More News On YouTube Suspending Sky News Australia Channel For 7 Days Over Covid Reporting

Sky News Australia has been suspended from YouTube following a review of old videos -- SKY News  

Sky News is BANNED from YouTube for 'posting Covid-denying videos' - after newspapers dumped Alan Jones' column 'over similar misinformation' -- Daily Mail

Sky News Australia given 1-week YouTube suspension after breaching COVID-19 misinformation policy -- ABC News Australia YouTube suspends Sky News Australia channel -- France 24  

Sky News Australia barred for week by YouTube over Covid misinformation -- BBC  

Sky News Australia suspended from YouTube for a week over Covid-19 misinformation -- CNN  

YouTube bans Sky News Australia for a week over alleged Covid misinformation -- RT

NBC's Olympic Coverage Sucks

Aaron Timms, The Guardian: NBC paid $7.75bn for its Olympic rights ... and we got televisual vomit 

US viewers have been able to see everything at any given moment while understanding fundamentally nothing about what’s going on 

If there’s one message the Olympics unfailingly conveys, it’s that elite competition is all about making the right choices. At a certain point every athlete needs to make the decision not to do certain things: the fencer lunging for the head rather than the body, the trampolinist starting their routine on the third jump instead of the fourth, the whitewater slalom all-rounder choosing to focus, early in their career, on the kayak over the canoe. 

 In 2014 NBC paid $7.75bn for the rights to broadcast the Olympics in the US until 2032. For these Olympics, faced with an inhospitable timezone for US viewers, the host broadcaster has taken the competing athletes’ message of elite discipline in the heat of battle, thrown it out the window, and instead tried to show a bit of everything to every viewer on every available platform all at once. Fitting perhaps for a tournament held in 2021 but still stuck with the previous year’s label, a frazzled atmosphere has suffused American coverage of Tokyo 2020.

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: I live in Canada, and I can see watch the Olympics on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Network) or NBC. 

I gave up on NBC on Day one. 

I am also tired of seeing this type of U.S. coverage .... 'The X is the intersection where all people who are oppressed meet': US silver medalist shot putter Raven Saunders crosses arms above her head in most high-profile protest yet at Tokyo Olympics (Daily Mail), and this .... 'I represent the oppressed': Hammer thrower Gwen Berry who turned back on US flag says she's 'earned right to wear the uniform' after making it through qualifying round in Tokyo and says she'll 'CONTINUE to do what she's doing' (Daily Mail).

The Biden Administration's Acceptance Of Nord Stream 2 Will Redefine Europe

Andrew A. Michta, 19FortyFive: America’s Acceptance of Nord Stream 2 Will Redefine Europe 

Much ink has already been spilled lamenting the end of the post-Cold War era of American hegemony and the emergent strategic competition with Russia and China. 

Moscow has been described as a manipulative alien power, which, since at least the invasion of Crimea, has been seen as subverting American democracy and world stability. 

But this telling severely undersells how much the burden of the current state of affairs falls squarely on the West’s shoulders. 

Russia could not have achieved what it has without a healthy mix of complacency and wishful thinking on our part. The latest example of this has been Washington’s decision to lift sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: the above analysis is spot on. Especially the Biden administration's misguided hope that Germany will work with Washington to curtail China. Needless to say. This is my must read post for today.

U.S. Congress Likely To Pass Infrastructure Bill That Threatens To 'Kill' The Crypto Industry

Business Insider: Crypto organizations say $28 billion tax plan in Senate infrastructure bill poses an 'imminent threat' to the industry 

* Crypto leaders said new tax provisions in the Senate infrastructure plan were an "imminent threat." 

* The Senate bill added new reporting rules for crypto trading firms and brokers. 

* The estimated $28 billion in new taxes would help fund President Joe Biden's infrastructure package. 

Cryptocurrency organizations have asked Congress to reconsider language in the Senate's infrastructure bill that posed an "imminent threat" to the industry. 

President Joe Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which includes hundreds of billions in funding for roads, railways, and broadband access, would be partly financed by increasing revenue from taxes on cryptocurrencies, according to The White House.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: It’s Not About Taxes, Congress is Coming After the Entire US Crypto Industry (Bitcoin Exchange)  

Update #2: Congress Likely to Pass $550 Billion Infrastructure Bill That Threatens to 'Kill' Crypto Industry (Decrypt) 

WNU Editor: Cryptocurrencies have increased substantially in the past week. If this bill passes, I think some of this enthusiasm is going to evaporate.

Tweets Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

Murtha Motions 

A sailor directs an MV-22 Osprey to land on the flight deck of the USS John P. Murtha in the Pacific Ocean, July 24, 2021.

Kamala Harris Has Become The Most Unpopular US Vice President Six Months Into Her Term Since The 1970s

Kamala Harris speaks as President Joe Biden looks on. © Provided by The Telegraph 

The Telegraph: Future president? Kamala Harris now 'underwater' as sinking popularity alarms Democrats 

Kamala Harris has become the most unpopular US vice president six months into an administration since at least the 1970s, according to polls. 

Alarmed Democrat strategists are grappling with the Vice President's floundering poll numbers which show she is now "underwater," meaning more Americans disapprove, than approve, of her job performance. 

The White House intends to deploy her only in certain areas to campaign ahead of next year's midterm Congressional elections, and will attempt to raise her profile by sending her on foreign trips in the coming months.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: She dropped out of the Democrat primaries because she was only polling 1%. To put it bluntly. She was never a popular politician on the national scene.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

After Wargaming Loss To China, U.S. Joint Chiefs Are Overhauling How The Military Will Fight

A recent Joint All-Domain Command & Control System demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. USN/MC2 Michael H. Lehman 

Business Insider: The US military is changing the way it fights after it 'failed miserably' in a war game against an aggressive adversary who knew its playbook 

* The US military is changing its new warfighting concept after a war game last fall. 

* During the simulated conflict, the US military strategy "failed miserably," a US general said. 

* The exercise reportedly involved a confrontation with China over Taiwan. 

The US military put its new warfighting concept for future warfare to the test in a wargaming exercise last fall and it did not go well, 

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said Monday, multiple defense outlets reported. "Without overstating the issue, it failed miserably," Hyten said at the National Defense Industrial Association's Emerging Technologies Institute, according to Defense One. 

 "An aggressive red team that had been studying the United States for the last 20 years just ran rings around us," the general said, according to Defense News. 

"They knew exactly what we were going to do before we did it, and they took advantage of it."  

Read more .... 

More News On The U.S. Joint Chiefs Overhauling How The Military Will Fight 

‘It Failed Miserably’: After Wargaming Loss, Joint Chiefs Are Overhauling How the US Military Will Fight -- Defense One 

Joint Chiefs Seek A New Warfighting Paradigm After Devastating Losses In Classified Wargames -- Warzone/The Drive  

US military changing strategy after losing simulated war with China -- The Independent  

War Games Revealed US Military Vulnerabilities: Joint Chiefs Vice Chair -- Defense Post  

Hyten explains new acquisition directives to industry -- Defense News

Did President Biden Declare Victory Over Covid Too Soon When Back In May The CDC Said That Vaccinated People Can Take Off Their Mask?

President Biden ABC News  

Yahoo News: 'President Biden absolutely declared a victory too soon,' Leana Wen says 

“I am hopeful as I look to the future,” Dr. Leana Wen writes in her new book, “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.” On the day she spoke to Yahoo News, however, case counts were spiking across the United States, due almost entirely to the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant. Masks were back. So were concerns that schools might reopen in the fall. 

A former Baltimore public health commissioner who now teaches emergency medicine at George Washington University, Wen has become a prominent commentator on the coronavirus pandemic. Below, she offers thoughts on how to navigate the next stage of the coronavirus pandemic, as the nation grapples with the Delta variant, students prepare to return to school and President Biden struggles to maintain momentum against the pandemic.  

Yahoo News: Did we declare victory too soon? 

Leana Wen: The single biggest mistake that the Biden administration made during this entire pandemic response — and I would argue in the entire Biden presidency — was back in May when the CDC said that vaccinated people can take off their mask, but did not have proof of vaccination attached to it. And as a result, people understood the pandemic to be over them. The unvaccinated began behaving like they were vaccinated. 

 Read more ....  

WNU Editor: I have mentioned this before on this blog. The messaging from the Biden White House on Covid has been a mess. But instead of blaming themselves, they are now blaming the media .... White House frustrated with 'hyperbolic' and 'irresponsible' Delta variant coverage, sources say (CNN) and Republicans .... Who Is Not Taking The Vaccine In The U.S.? (July 31, 2021).

White House Chief Medical Adviser Warns 'Things Are Going To Get Worse' With COVID


Daily Mail: People who don't wear masks are 'encroaching on others' individual rights': Fauci defends new CDC mask guidance for the vaccinated as he warns things are 'going to get worse' with COVID 

* Dr Anthony Fauci on Sunday said COVID-19 cases will continue to rise, but he does not see the need for lockdowns again 

* Fauci again called out unvaccinated Americans for furthering the spread 

* Currently, about 60 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated 

* Fauci made his statements as Florida became the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the US 

Dr Anthony Fauci has warned of 'some pain and suffering in the future' as coronavirus cases continue to rise, but said that he does not see the need for new lockdowns. 

'I don't think we're going to see lockdowns,' Fauci told Jonathan Karl of ABC's This Week on Sunday. 

'I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country – not enough to crush the outbreak – but I believe enough to allow us to not get into the situation we were in last winter.'  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Florida is now in the midst of another wave with large increases in hospitalization .... Florida Emerges As Epicenter Of COVID Outbreak: ‘Numbers Are Unbelievably Frightening’ (CBS 4 Miami) 

More News On Dr. Fauci Warning 'Things Are Going To Get Worse' With COVID  

Transcript: Dr. Anthony Fauci on "Face the Nation," August 1, 2021 -- CBS  

Fauci says unvaccinated Americans are "propagating this outbreak" as Delta spreads -- CBS  

Fauci: More ‘pain and suffering’ ahead as COVID cases rise -- AP  

Fauci Predicts Worsening Virus Conditions -- VOA  

Fauci warns 'things are going to get worse' with COVID -- GMA  

Fauci: Amount of virus in breakthrough delta cases 'almost identical' to unvaccinated -- The Hill  

Dr. Fauci warns latest COVID-19 wave is ‘going to get worse’ -- NYPost  

United States will not lock down despite Delta variant surge, Dr Anthony Fauci says as cases in Florida spike -- ABC News Australia

Madagascar Arrests Generals Over Plot To Kill President Rajoelina


 BBC: Madagascar arrests generals over plot to kill President Rajoelina 

High-ranking army and police officials have been arrested in Madagascar in connection with a failed attempt to kill the country's president. 

The arrested include five generals and several active police officers, meaning 21 people are now being investigated over last month's foiled assassination. 

Authorities have also seized a gun and $250,000 (£180,000), local media said. 

The attempt on President Andry Rajoelina's life was among ongoing turbulence rocking the island nation. 

Madagascar has been under a lockdown since the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year and its southern region is in the grips of a famine.  

Read more ....  

Update: Madagascar president targeted in assassination plot — prosecutors (DW)  

WNU Editor: Madagascar is currently facing multiple crisis. Besides Covid lock-downs there is a famine in the southern part of the country .... ‘Nothing left’: A catastrophe in Madagascar’s famine-hit south (al Jazeera).

This U.S. Navy’s Future VTOL Drone Hovers and Stares Like No Other


Autoevolution: U.S. Navy’s Future VTOL Drone Is Best-in-Class, Hovers and Stares Like No Other 

Maximum versatility and minimal logistic support requirements are 2 of the main features the U.S. military is looking for when it comes to new assets, especially if we’re talking about unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that need to deliver an increased payload quickly, in any type of environment. This is what the U.S. Navy found in the V-Bat 128, which is about to be publicly unveiled this weekend. 

Earlier this year, Texas-based Martin UAV was one of the 13 contestants that responded to the Navy’s Mi2 Challenge and ended up being selected, together with L3Harris Technologies, to compete in a demonstration at the Yuma Proving Grounds, in Arizona. This is where the V-Bat 128, an innovative VTOL UAS (vertical takeoff and landing UAS), made an impression with its remarkable capabilities.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This drone looks impressive.

Taliban Threaten To Seize First Afghan Provincial Capital


CNN: Taliban threaten to seize first provincial capital as fighting intensifies across Afghanistan 

(CNN)Heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces has continued in the capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gah. The Taliban now control several districts of the city, according to local journalists contacted by CNN. 

The Afghan military reinforced its presence in the city on Saturday, bringing in special forces, according to a tweet from the 215 Corps, an army unit. It also carried out airstrikes against Taliban positions. 

Lashkar Gah sits on strategic routes in all directions, including the highway between Kandahar and Herat and important agricultural areas to the south of the city. The Taliban has long had a strong presence in Helmand province, including around the capital, but has not occupied any part of the capital since being overthrown in 2001.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: It is only a matter of time before one of these cities fall.

 More News On The Afghan War  

Afghan forces struggle against Taliban assaults on major cities -- France 24  

Taliban continue to advance on major cities in Afghanistan, attack Kandahar airport -- NBC/Reuters  

Taliban attack Afghan district capitals -- DW  

Resurgent Taliban escalates nationwide offensive in Afghanistan -- The Guardian  

Several rockets hit Afghanistan’s Kandahar airport amid ongoing Taliban assault -- RT  

Taliban fighters strike airport in southern Afghanistan -- Washington Examiner 

Taliban and Afghan forces clash again outside Herat city -- AFP  

Watchdog Alarmed at ‘Mounting Taliban Revenge Killings’ -- VOA  

Pak ‘jihadis’ join Taliban ranks, return as dead bodies -- Times of India  

The Challenges of Mapping Taliban Control in Afghanistan -- Lawfare

US Marine Quick Reaction Force Has Brrn Deployed Twice In The Last 30 Days To Protect American Embassies

U.S. Marines attached to the Marine Security Augment Unit (MSAU) practice firing on stationary targets in Summit Point, W.Va., April 9, 2015. The training prepares members of MSAU for the protection and security of American Embassies and assets across the globe. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Daniel Benedict/Released) (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Daniel Benedict/Released)  

Task & Purpose: This US Marine quick reaction force has deployed twice in the last 30 days to protect American embassies 

They deploy on average every 8 days. 

When U.S. Marine Security Guards at American embassies around the world need backup, they call on the Marine Security Augmentation Unit. And in the past 30 days, the quick reaction force has responded to that call twice to protect embassies in Africa and the Caribbean. 

 “Everywhere we have an embassy, we can reinforce it with what we call an MSAU team,” Lt. Gen. Ronald Bailey said in a 2014 video. “It consists of about a squad size of Marines that can break down into teams and go out and reinforce an embassy all around the world.” 

 Read more .... 

 Update: US Marine quick reaction force deployed twice in last 30 days to defend embassies (FOX News).  

WNU Editor: The two countries that this US Marine quick reaction force has been deployed to in the past month are (1) Haiti .... Marines headed to protect embassy in Haiti, but no troops to stabilize nation, says Biden (Military Times/AP), and Eswatini/Swaziland .... Marines Bolster Embassy Security After Unrest in Tiny African Kingdom of Eswatini ( and Stripes). 

Here is an easy prediction. I expect this quick reaction force will be used in the near future to protect the US embassy in Kabul.

The Cost To Canada For Its Covid Lockdowns Has Been Steep (And Still Counting)

National Post: What 16 months of COVID lockdowns have cost us 

The most crushing pandemic debt in the G20, and thousands of deaths attributable to the effects of lockdowns Canada is entering the post-lockdown era. We are officially the most vaccinated country on earth and our daily rate of COVID-19 fatalities has plummeted to just one in every two million Canadians.  

This is by far the most expensive thing Canada has ever done 

In March 2020, just as the first stay-at-home orders were hitting Canadian cities, the country’s federal debt stood at $721.4 billion. 

Only one year later, the Department of Finance was pegging the debt load at $1.2 trillion. It took 153 years to get to $721.4 billion, and in one year Canada grew that total by 66 per cent. That’s enough debt to pay for Canada’s entire inflation-adjusted contribution to the Second World War.  

Read more ....  

Update: Canada is heading towards a 'Delta-driven' fourth wave, Tam says (CTV News).  

WNU Editor: I live in Canada, and I have seen first hand on how lock-downs have destroyed people's businesses. 

And as for Canada's finances. 

From having one of the best fiscal balance sheets in the world to one that has been demolished in just 14 months, I shudder on what this will eventually cost to the young who will be facing the burden of paying all of this off.

It Has Almost Been One Year Since The Massive Beirut Port Blast


 France 24: One year after deadly blast, Beirut struggles with ‘trauma after trauma’ 

Huge twin blasts in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 left more than 200 people dead and 6,000 injured. The source of the disaster was 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a compound used as a fertiliser that is also a very powerful explosive agent. It had been stored at the port with no precautions for more than six years. The tragedy soon became a symbol of Lebanon’s years-long political, social and economic crises. Despite promises of change, wounds left by the explosion have yet to heal.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: A year after Beirut blast, Lebanon sinks deep into mire of corruption (The Guardian) 

Update #2: Beirut blast one year on: No answers and no economic optimism (RTE) 

 WNU Editor: For those who are interested on what became of the bride almost swept away by the Beirut blast (see video below). 

China Warns Britain Is 'A Bi*ch And Is Asking For A Beating' If British Warships Challenge Beijing's Claim To The South China Sea.

China has warned Britain to ‘remain restrained and obey the rules’ as the Royal Navy’s carrier strike group (CSG) sails through the South China Sea (PA Media)

The UK strike group plans to carry out 'freedom of navigation' operations in the South China Sea as a rebuke to Beijing, which claims part of the waters as its own  

The Independent: China warns ‘b***h’ Britain about aircraft carrier sailing in disputed South China Sea 

China has warned Britain against provocation in the wake of Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group approaching the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca on Sunday. 

“We seriously warn this group: They are obliged to remain restrained and obey the rules. Please follow the current international shipping lanes and stay at least 12 nautical miles away from the Chinese islands and reefs,” wrote state mouthpiece Global Times. 

China’s defence ministry spokesperson, Wu Qian, said the country respected freedom of navigation but “the action should never try to destabilise regional peace, including the latest military collaboration between the UK and Japan”.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Here is Chinese state media's warning .... UK shouldn’t tempt own fate in South China Sea (Global Times editorial). 

More News On China Warning Britain Is Asking For A Beating' If British Warships Challenge Beijing's Claim To The South China Sea.  

China has warned Britain is 'a bi*ch... asking for a beating' if British warships challenge Beijing's claim to the South China Sea. -- Daily Mail 

China tells UK to ‘obey the rules’ as Royal Navy enters South China Sea -- Evening Standard 

'Obey the rules': China's stern warning to the UK -- AAP  

UK says it has no plans for South China Sea confrontation after Beijing warning -- The Guardian  

Britain Wants No Escalation in South China Sea, Report Says After Royal Navy Mission Irks Beijing -- Sputnik  

UK's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier pictured in South China Sea -- CNN

India, China Hold 12th Round Of Talks On Border Dispute


Indian Express: Ladakh standoff: India, China hold 12th round of talks; hope for a breakthrough 

Sources said the meeting, which began around 10.30 am, continued until 7.30 pm, and defence establishment sources were hopeful of reaching an understanding for disengagement from Hot Spring and Gogra Post, Patrolling Point (PP) 15 and PP17A, respectively, friction points. 

India and China held the 12th round of the Corps Commander-level talks on Saturday to find a possible resolution for the nearly 15-month-long military standoff in eastern Ladakh. The meeting was held on the Chinese side of Chushul-Moldo Border Personnel Meeting point.  

Read more ....  

Update: Indian, Chinese army officers meet to defuse border standoff (AP)  

WNU Editor: This is the 12th round of talks in the past 15 months. No progress was made then, and I expect no progress will be made with this round of talks.

Myanmar Military Promises Elections In Two Years. Extends State Of Emergency


The Guardian: Myanmar junta leader declares himself PM as election timeline stalled 

Six months after seizing power, Min Aung Hlaing extends coup with promise of elections in 2023 Myanmar‘s military leader has declared himself prime minister and said he would lead the country under the nation’s state of emergency until elections are held in two years’ time – vastly extending the timeline given when the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi six months ago. 

“We must create conditions to hold a free and fair multiparty general election,” Gen Min Aung Hlaing said on Sunday during a recorded televised address. 

“We have to make preparations. I pledge to hold the multiparty general election without fail.”  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: This announcement from the junta is going to placate no one .... Myanmar's anger simmers, six months after military takeover (Nikkei Asia). 

More News On Myanmar's Military Promising Elections In Two Years  

Myanmar: State of emergency extended with coup leader as PM -- BBC 

Six months after coup, Myanmar's military ruler promises elections by August 2023 -- France 24  

Myanmar military extends state of emergency, promises vote in 2 years -- CBC/AP  

Myanmar military ruler promises elections, says ready to work with ASEAN -- CNA

Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Admits Iran 'Did Not Tell Part Of The Truth' During His TimeIin office

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, July 14, 2021. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)  

The Hill: Rouhani says Iran 'did not tell part of the truth' during his time in office 

Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged in an address on Saturday that the government in Tehran “did not tell part of the truth" at times during his eight years in office. 

As Reuters reports, Rouhani made his remarks during his last cabinet meeting as president and just days after he was lectured by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the country's recent failures in nuclear negotiations. 

“What we told people was not contrary to reality, but we did not tell part of the truth to people,” Rouhani said. “Because I did not find it useful and I was afraid it would harm national unity.”  

Read more ....  

Update: Outgoing Iran president says government not always truthful (AP)  

WNU Editor: As a rule. All governments are rarely truthful.

Israel Accuses Iran For Thursday's Oil Tanker Attack

This January 2, 2016 photo shows the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mercer Street off Cape Town, South Africa


NBC News/Reuters: Israel blames Iran for attack on tanker off Oman coast that killed two 

There was no immediate official reaction from Iran to the accusation that it may have been responsible. 

A Briton and a Romanian were killed when an Israeli-managed petroleum product tanker came under attack on Thursday off the coast of Oman, the company said on Friday, in an incident that Israel's foreign minister blamed on Iran and said deserved a harsh response. 

There were varying explanations for what happened to the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned ship, with Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime describing the incident as "suspected piracy" and a source at the Oman Maritime Security Center as an accident that occurred outside Omani territorial waters.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Iran is denying these claims .... Iran denies ‘baseless’ Israeli claim it struck ship in deadly attack (Times of Israel). But Iranian state TV says that Iran was responsible .... Iran says 'suicide' drone attack on oil tanker that killed British army veteran was in retaliation for Israeli airstrike on military airport in Syria (Daily Mail).  

Update: This conflict is definitely escalating in the sense that Iran can now target soft Israeli targets like ships .... A deadly new level in the tit-for-tat war between Israel and Iran (Jerusalem Post).  

Update #2: Israel wants the UK to retaliate .... Fury as Dominic Raab IGNORES calls from Israel to retaliate against Iran after regime launched 'suicide' drone attack on oil tanker that killed British army veteran off coast of Oman (Daily Mail).

Update #3: The UK has responded .... UK accuses Iran of ‘deliberate & targeted attack’ on Israeli-operated tanker off Oman (RT). 

More News On Israel Accusing Iran For Thursday's Oil Tanker Attack 

 Israeli premier blames Iran for tanker attack; Tehran denies -- AP  

Tanker attack: Tensions rise as Iran and Israel trade accusations -- BBC 

After ship strike, Lapid speaks to Blinken, urges international response -- Times of Israel

Israel pushes for UN action against Iran over deadly ship attack -- France 24 

Israel calls for HARSH RESPONSE to attack on Israeli-operated ship off Oman, blames ‘terrorism exporter’ Iran -- RT  

U.S. navy says drone strike hit oil tanker off Oman, killing 2, as Israeli officials blame Iran -- CBC/AP  

Report: Iranian attack on Israeli-operated ship carried out by 'several kamikaze drones' -- i24 News  

Deadly drone attack on tanker escalates Iran-Israel maritime tensions -- CNN 

Israeli PM Bennett: We Have Evidence That Iran is Behind Attack on Oil Tanker Mercer Street -- Sputnik

Tweets Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

An Israeli soldier pepper sprays a journalist during a protest against Israeli settlements, near Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 27, 2021. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta  

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

Saturday, July 31, 2021

U.S. Seizes Tanker Used To Evade North Korean Sanctions

This undated handout image obtained July 30, 2021, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice, shows oil tanker M/T Courageous docked in an undisclosed location.  

Reuters: U.S. says seizes tanker used to evade North Korea sanctions 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) on Friday announced the seizure of a 2,734-ton tanker it said was owned and operated by a Singaporean national and used to make shipments of petroleum products to North Korea in violation of international sanctions.

A DoJ statement said the M/T Courageous was seized by Cambodian authorities in March 2020 in accordance with a U.S. warrant, having been used to transfer oil products to North Korean vessels and to make direct shipments to the North Korean port of Nampo. 

"Criminal charges of conspiracy to evade economic sanctions on the DPRK and money laundering conspiracy are pending against the alleged owner and operator of the Courageous, Kwek Kee Seng, a Singaporean national who remains at large," it said, using the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Read more .... 

More News On The U.S. Seizing A Tanker Used To Evade North Korean Sanctions  

US Seizes Tanker Used to Deliver Oil to North Korea -- VOA/AFP  

US seizes Singaporean tanker for evading North Korea sanctions -- Nikkei Asia  

US seizes tanker shipping oil to North Korea in violation of sanctions -- Washington Examiner  

US seizes tanker used to evade North Korea sanctions -- Al Jazeera  

US Court Ordered to Confiscate Tanker That Was Illegally Supplying North Korea With Oil -- Sputnik

US B-52 Bombers Back Into Action Over Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force photo  

Arab News: US brings B-52 bombers back into action as Taliban sweep across Afghanistan 

* Washington’s strategy to deploy the heavily armed planes a ‘worrying sign’ 

KABUL: A US B-52 bomber has pounded Taliban positions in Afghanistan’s western Herat province after the group gained ground near the area amid intense clashes with government forces, officials and lawmakers said on Saturday. 

The strike took place on the outskirts of Herat city on Friday, with flights to and from the area suspended after increased violence near its airport. 

“Unfortunately, all flights to Herat have been canceled due to the fighting and the information we have received suggest that a B-52 was used in the fighting yesterday (Friday) in Herat,” provincial lawmaker Habib Ur Rahman Pedram told Arab News.

No further details were given, such as the number of casualties or the scale of the attack.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This is definitely a worrying indication on how bad the situation in Afghanistan has become.

Battle For Control In Afghanistan Worsens. Three Major Cities Now Under Seige


 BBC: Afghanistan: Fighting rages as Taliban besiege three key cities 

Fighting is raging around three major cities in southern and western Afghanistan as Taliban militants seek to seize them from government forces. 

Taliban fighters have entered parts of Herat, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar. 

They have made rapid gains in rural areas since it was announced almost all foreign troops would go by September. 

But the fate of these key cities could be crucial amid fears of a humanitarian crisis and how long government forces will be able to hold out. 

The fundamentalist Islamist militia is already thought to have captured up to half of all Afghanistan's territory, including lucrative border crossings with Iran and Pakistan.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: The Taliban are now claiming that they have seized the city of Herat. 

More News On the Afghan War  

Fighting rages for key Afghan cities as Taliban blamed for attack on UN -- National Interest  

Afghanistan’s Herat under pressure amid ongoing Taliban assault -- Al Jazeera  

Key Afghan City in Danger of Falling to the Taliban -- NYT  

Taliban and Afghan forces clash again outside Herat city -- AFP  

Herat residents fear Taliban in their homes and workplaces as it masses outside city -- The Guardian 

Fighting rages in three Afghan cities as Taliban launches sustained assault -- The Independent  

Taliban fighters enter provincial capital, clash with Afghan forces -- Jerusalem Post/Reuters

Who Is Not Taking The Vaccine In The U.S.?

A KFF survey found young people, rural residents and black adults are among the groups most likely to refuse a vaccine, along with registered Republicans 

Daily Mail: Pelosi and White House blame Republicans for fueling spread of COVID but fewer than half of young people and 36% of black people have had shots while 92% of older Americans are jabbed 

* Nancy Pelosi has attempted to blame the spread of COVID-19 on unvaccinated Republicans 

* However, data that shows many key Democrat groups are also not signing up to be immunized 

* Young people aged 18-24 - who are reliable Democrat voting bloc - are among the most hesitant groups; almost a quarter say they'll never have the shot 

* Meanwhile, more than half of black and Hispanic Americans have not had a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine 

* One survey revealed that one-third of black Americans would not have the shot even if it was determined safe by scientists 

Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden's digs at Republicans for refusing to get vaccinated have been cast into doubt after figures showed key Democrat demographics are among the main groups who aren't being jabbed. 

Figures from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) show key Democrat voting blocks - including blacks, Hispanics and people of all races between ages 18 and 24 - are also hesitant to have the shot. 

Earlier this week, Nancy Pelosi attempted to blame Republican leaders for failing to encourage their constituents to get vaccinated, but failed to mention why her own party hadn't been pushing millions of reluctant Democrat voters to also get the shots.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This is not the message that the media is spreading.

President Biden Directs Pentagon To Plan For Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccines Biden directs Pentagon to plan for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines 

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he was taking the first step toward making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for members of the military . 

“Since many vaccinations are required for active-duty military today, I’m asking the Defense Department to look into how and when they will add COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations our armed forces must get,” Biden said in an address from the White House. 

Service members already are required to get as many as 17 vaccines, depending on where they are based around the world. 

They include inoculations against measles, mumps, diphtheria, hepatitis, smallpox and the flu.  

Read more .... 

More News On President Biden Directing The Pentagon To Plan For Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccines  

Pentagon, reacting to Biden order, working on plan for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations -- Military Times  

Pentagon says it will start talks on making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory -- The Hill  

Pentagon grappling with new vaccine orders; timing uncertain -- AP 

Biden directs Pentagon to figure out ‘how and when’ to require COVID vaccine for the military -- Washington Examiner 

Pentagon calls COVID-19 a threat to national security, weighs making vaccinations a requirement -- FOX News

President Biden Says Americans Should Expect More COVID Restrictions


CNN: Biden says US will 'in all probability' see more guidelines and restrictions amid rising Covid cases 

(CNN)President Joe Biden said Friday the US will, "in all probability," see more guidelines and restrictions amid rising coronavirus cases and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. 

"And by the way, we had a good day yesterday," Biden told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for Camp David, referring to what he said were encouraging numbers of people who got vaccinated Thursday. 

Pressed Friday on whether the US is headed for more lockdowns amid rising cases, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, "The way we see this is that we have the tools in our tool belt to fight this, this, this variant," adding, "we are not going to head towards a lockdown."  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: It looks like a national vaccine mandate has been shot down .... Chaos in the White House over COVID messaging: Biden advisor Jeff Zients insists they are NOT exploring national vaccine mandates 'at all' - after president said it is 'still a question' (Daily Mail). 

More News On President Biden Saying Americans Should Expect More COVID Restrictions  

Biden says Americans should expect more COVID restrictions -- FOX News  

Biden predicts more COVID restrictions as CDC head causes vax mandate confusion -- NYPost  

Biden says US to see new Covid restrictions 'in all probability' -- France 24  

Countdown To The Next Lockdown: Biden Says "In All Probability" US Will See More Restrictions -- Zero Hedge

America’s ‘Great Retreat’ Is Accelerating

Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island clear out of the way of a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II in preparation for takeoff from the flight deck of the ship. Photo: US Marine Corps / Patrick Crosley  

Stephen Bryen, Asia Times: America’s ‘Great Retreat’ is well underway 

The US is rapidly lowering its military profile and backing away from commitments to allies in the Middle East and Asia 

Why would the US Department of Justice drop five cases against Chinese researchers including Dr Juan Tang, a cancer researcher who allegedly lied on her visa application after photos of her were found wearing a Chinese military uniform? 

Part of the answer is that Tang’s case was dropped to facilitate Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s high-level visit this week to China, where she was treated hostilely by her Chinese hosts. 

The five cases are just part of a bigger picture which can best be termed as “The Great Retreat.” In many areas, the US is lowering its profile and backing away from its commitments. 

For example, the US has pulled its only aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, from the Pacific ostensibly to cover the retreat from Afghanistan. But whether the Ronald Reagan carrier will return to Japan in the future isn’t altogether clear. 

 Read more ....  

WNU Editor: U.S. foreign policy is being dictated by its problems at home. It is a country that is politically divided coupled with racial tensions not seen in years. Massive deficits and liability obligations. Inflation and a major part of the workforce unemployed. Homelessness on the rise. An infrastructure that is crumbling even after multiple promises and disbursements over the years to repair it. A border crisis being ignored by Washington. Its reserve currency status being challenged. Bottom line. There is no longer any stomach among the U.S. electorate to save the world when real problems exist at home.

Is Iran And Saudi Arabia On The Verge Of Announcing A Rapprochement?

Iran and Saudi Arabia could be on the verge of a rapprochement. Photo: Facebook  

Asia Times: Iran, Saudi Arabia on the edge of rapprochement 

Backchannel talks that began in April are now an open secret and poised to produce a symbolic breakthrough in the coming days 

Iran and Saudi Arabia are inching towards a rapprochement that, if achieved, would profoundly shift the region’s dynamics, diplomacy and stability. Officials from both sides have recently hailed backchannel talks held first in Iraq and now in Oman as “constructive.” 

In May, Iraqi President Barham Salih confirmed his country had been hosting quiet talks between the two often bitter rivals. The talks, which started in April, have recently been attended by high-profile delegates, including Saudi chief of General Intelligence Directorate Khalid al-Humaidan and Iranian Deputy Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Iravani.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: There are still many differences between the two regional powers. The war in Yemen. Iran's nuclear ambitions. The Syrian war. Just to name a few.

Russian Money Is Keeping Belarus Afloat

Belarus' leader Alexander Lukashenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoy a close relationship 

 DW: How Russian money keeps Belarus afloat 

Moscow does not financially support any other country as generously as it does Belarus. DW spoke with economic experts to learn about this lopsided relationship, and the strain it places on the Russian budget. 

Russia has supported its western neighbor Belarus for decades — long before the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Minsk and President Alexander Lukashenko. Earlier this summer, Moscow loaned its ally $500 million (€423 million) — six months prior, it had issued Lukashenko's regime a similar sum. 

Looking on from the outside, such figures appear to be a largish run-of-the-mill loan that one country grants another and for which interest is collected. But the situation with Belarus and Russia is different. According to observers: interest is mounting and debts carry on growing year in and year out, yet Minsk continues to receive new loans from Moscow. 

Russia has been subsidizing its neighbor for years. Between 2005 and 2015, Moscow pumped $106 billion into the Belarus economy, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: The IMF report that Russia has subsidized Belarus to the tune of $106 billion between 2005 and 2015 is probably correct. And that support has even grown even more since 2015. 

But that is the history of the Kremlin when it comes to giving support to other countries. 

$6 billion a year to Cuba when the Soviet Union existed, and money that has since been written off.

$40 to $50 billion a year to Ukraine before that relationship imploded in 2014 (and is one of the reasons why the Ukraine economy is still floundering). 

Venezuela owes Russia approximately $60 billion for arms purchases and other aid. 

And then there is Russian support of the Assad regime in Syria. God only knows how much money that disaster is costing.  

Update: This would be a catastrophe .... Belarus leader ready to invite Russian troops ‘if necessary’ (AP). More here .... Belarus leader would 'not hesitate' to invite Russian troops if needed (Reuters).

Poll Says That A Majority Of Russians Want To See The Name Of Volgograd Changed Back To Stalingrad

© Unsplash / Dmitry Ant  

RT: Back to Stalingrad? Disputed poll claims TWO THIRDS of Russians want Volgograd to return to name used during legendary WW2 battle  

A majority of Russians support restoring the name of the country’s twelfth-largest city back to ‘Stalingrad,’ 60 years after it was renamed Volgograd in the Soviet program of de-Stalinization, a controversial poll has revealed. 

The survey, commissioned by the center-left political party ‘A Fair Russia’ and made public on Thursday, revealed that 68% of Russians are in favor of returning to the title it bore from 1925 to 1961, with just 28% wanting to keep the current name.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This is what happens when the young in Russia are not educated on how much of a homicidal maniac Stalin really was. Those who lived during the Stalin era and their children who were taught by their parents on how much of a vicious tyrant Stalin was are overwhelmingly against changing this name. Those who are 40 or younger want the city's name to be changed. I definitely see this generational split that among my own family in Russia.

Why Do Nuclear Bombs Form Mushroom Clouds?


Live Science: Why do nuclear bombs form mushroom clouds?  

What forms this iconic shape? 

When a bomb goes off, energy is shot out indiscriminately in all directions. So, instead of an expanding ball of fire, why do nuclear explosions result in mushroom clouds? 

Although the outburst of energy does initially form a sphere of hot air, that's only the beginning of the story, according to Katie Lundquist, a researcher of computational engineering at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Because hot air rises, the larger bulk of the sphere in the middle column — where the core of an apple would be — experiences more buoyancy than the edges do.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This is one of those things that I hope I never see or experience in my lifetime.

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