Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Pentagon Admits That It Has Loss Track Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of US Guns In Afghanistan And Iraq


Zero Hedge: Pentagon Admits "Lapses In Accountability" Led To Loss Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of US Guns In Afghanistan And Iraq

Back in April 2016, the New York Times published an article highlighting a number of Facebook pages in the Middle East being used to sell U.S. military equipment.

A terrorist hoping to buy an antiaircraft weapon in recent years needed to look no further than Facebook, which has been hosting sprawling online arms bazaars, offering weapons ranging from handguns and grenades to heavy machine guns and guided missiles.

The Facebook posts suggest evidence of large-scale efforts to sell military weapons coveted by terrorists and militants. The weapons include many distributed by the United States to security forces and their proxies in the Middle East. These online bazaars, which violate Facebook’s recent ban on the private sales of weapons, have been appearing in regions where the Islamic State has its strongest presence.


Many of the Facebook pages have subsequently been shut down, as selling stolen U.S. military equipment to terrorist organizations technically violates Facebook's user policies. But the remnants remain...like the Facebook post below showing a row of kids shooting increasingly lower caliber weapons culminating with a young man shooting a sling-shot...adorable!

Read more ....

WNU Editor: To say this is staggering is an understatement.

Was The Clinton Foundation A 'Pay For Play' Scheme?



USA Today: Clinton's cash for access diplomacy

Clinton ran a pay-to-play program at the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State.

Back in July, Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "there is absolutely no connection between anything that I did as secretary of state and the Clinton Foundation.”

On Monday of this week, ABC’s Liz Kreutzer reminded people of that statement, as a new batch of emails reveal that there was a connection, and it was cash. As the emails, recovered by the public-interest law firm Judicial Watch, demonstrate, people who made donations to the Clinton Foundation got preferential treatment, and access, at the State Department when Hillary was Secretary of State:

Read more ....

Update #1: Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State (AP)
Update #2: AP statement on Clinton Foundation donors (AP)

WNU Editor: If you paid .... you then had access to the Secretary of State. And what you can do with this access is apparently lot .... Was The Clinton Foundation Behind Shady Middle Eastern Arms Deals? (Federalist). This is going to dodge her for the rest of the election .... and beyond.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Is Snubbed In Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) meets with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on August 24

Bloomberg: Biden Met by Snubs as He Seeks to Mollify Turkey’s Angry Erdogan

* Junior officials met the U.S. vice president at the airport
* Turkish government-linked newspaper calls trip a waste of time

From the minute he stepped off the plane on Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Turkey seemed ill-fated.

Intended to smooth relations frayed by last month’s botched coup, Biden’s visit instead showcased acrimony with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey sent low-ranking officials -- including Ankara’s deputy mayor -- to greet Biden at the airport. And even before the vice president’s visit ended, the Daily Sabah, a pro-Erdogan newspaper, declared that "Biden wasted a trip, Turkey wasted time."

Biden -- the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Turkey since the coup -- was apologetic and conciliatory during his joint news conference with Erdogan. As the vice president spoke, the Turkish leader sat back in his chair, stone-faced.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This was never going to be an easy trip .... Biden’s Nearly Impossible Task in Turkey (Politico).

Tweet For Today

Only In Russia

Picture Of The Day

Firing Downrange
Marines fire weapons at targets during a simulated attack with CS gas, also known as tear gas, during live-fire training as part of Exercise Koolendong 2016 at Bradshaw Field Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 18, 2016. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Anderson

America's Intelligence Community Feel Uneasy About Trump



Politico: Trump makes intel community queasy

One terrorism expert described the mood about a possible President Trump in the intelligence community as 'fearful.'

Just ahead of his first classified briefing, Donald Trump said he didn't trust the work of America's intelligence agencies.

Well, they don't exactly trust him either.

Interviews over the past several months with current and former intelligence officials and intelligence experts revealed significant trepidation about the notion of a Trump presidency — an uneasiness that the Republican nominee’s latest comments are likely to exacerbate.

Several sources cited Trump's unpredictability, his harsh rhetoric about Muslims, his vocal support for torture and his suggestions that he'd go after terror suspects' families as causes of concern, even among the most hawkish elements of the intelligence world.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Donald Trump also does not trust them .... Trump: I don't trust U.S. intelligence information (Politico). But in all fairness, the U.S. intelligence community has always had a problem with Presidents .... including with the current occupant.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Is The U.S. About To Lose Its Dominant Position On Global Financial Markets?



Simon Black, Sovereign Man: Barack Obama may have finally destroyed America’s #1 advantage

In July 1944, just weeks after the successful Allied invasion of Normandy, hundreds of delegates from around the world gathered in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to determine the future of the global financial system.

The vision was simple: America would be the center of the universe, and every other nation would revolve around the US.

This arrangement ultimately led to the US dollar being the world’s dominant reserve currency which still remains today.

Whenever a Brazilian merchant pays a Korean supplier, that deal is negotiated and settled in US dollars.

Oil. Coffee. Steel. Aircraft. Countless commodities and products across the planet change hands in US dollars, so nearly every major commercial bank, central bank, multi-national corporation, and sovereign government must hold and be able to transact in US dollars.

This system provides a huge incentive for the rest of the world to hold trillions of dollars worth of US assets– typically deposits in the US banking system, or US government bonds.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Everyone in the world wants an alternative to the U.S. banking system .... everyone. And while Ripple is an interesting development (see above video) .... it will probably be a few more years before U.S. financial dominance has been replaced because of developments in technology and the unwillingness of foreign customers to use American financial institutions.

These Are The Weapon Systems That China Wants


Washington Free Beacon: China’s Covert Weapons Procurement Revealed in Florida Case

‘Technology spy’ sought advanced jet engines, Reaper drone for reverse engineering

China’s government covertly tried to obtain advanced U.S. fighter jet engines and a Reaper drone in a high-technology spying operation uncovered by federal authorities in Florida.

A Chinese-born woman, Wenxia Man, was sentenced to 50 months in prison on Friday following her conviction for conspiracy to export restricted American defense articles, namely engines for F-35, F-22, and F-16 jets, and the Reaper, a front-line unmanned aerial vehicle used by the military and intelligence agencies.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Jet engines and anti-missile defense are probably on the top of the spy-list for China.

Thinking The Unthinkable: War With China


Crispin Rovere, The Interpreter: "War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable"

Among US analysts, war with China is no longer a taboo subject. RAND Corporation has now tackled the issue head on, publishing a lengthy analysis titled: 'War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable'. So far, Paul Dibb and Mike Scrafton have provided two excellent assessments on what this means for Australia. This review evaluates RAND’s assessment itself.

RAND presents four conflict scenarios over two different time periods: low-intensity and high-intensity, short and long duration, and occurring either in 2015 or 2025. The low-intensity conflicts are fairly straightforward; however, RAND’s high-intensity 2025 scenario draws a number of contestable conclusions, namely that:

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WNU Editor: A worrying sign of the times .... thinking the unthinkable has become the new trend.

Iranian Speedboats 'Harass' U.S. Navy Destroyer In The Strait Of Hormuz



Reuters: Iran vessels make 'high speed intercept' of U.S. ship: defense official

Four vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) "harassed" a U.S. destroyer on Tuesday by carrying out a "high speed intercept" in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said on Wednesday.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was "unsafe and unprofessional."

"The Iranian high rate of closure...created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures by Nitze," the official said.

Read more ....

More News On Iranian Speedboats Harassing A U.S. Navy Destroyer In The Strait Of Hormuz

Iranian boats harassed U.S. destroyer in Persian Gulf -- Navy Times
Navy Destroyer 'Harassed' by Iranian Speedboats, US Official Says -- ABC news
Iranian ships harass US destroyer -- The Hill
Iranian Guards Harass US Warship -- Defense News
Four Iranian vessels 'harass' US Navy ship in Strait of Hormuz, official says -- FOX News
Iranian ships reportedly conduct unsafe ‘high-speed intercept’ of U.S. destroyer -- Washington Times

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 24, 2016



Robert Fisk, The Independent: The predictions have come to pass: Turkey is now in Syria and this is what it means for the Middle East

The Turks don’t want a Kurdish mini-state on their frontier any more than the Syrians want to lose territory to the Kurds

How the West would love to believe that Turkey’s army in Syria – all 10 tanks of it – are striking at last at everyone’s enemy, the blood-soaked cult of the “Islamic State”. But few in Syria or Turkey will be fooled. Isis have been sitting in Jerablus for many months; it is the advance of the American-armed Kurdish YPG militia along the Turkish border towards Jerablus that worries Sultan Erdogan.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 24, 2016

Turkey's New Incursion into Syria -- J. Weston Phippen, The Atlantic

How is Turkey dealing with threats from Syria? -- Inside Story/Al Jazeera

Does Turkey trust Washington? -- Inside Story/Al Jazeera

Volatile mix in Syria war puts new strain on US strategy -- AP

Why Is the United States Abetting Saudi War Crimes in Yemen? -- Mohamad Bazzi, The Nation

Iraqi militias aspire to be like Iran’s Revolutionary Guards -- Al-Monitor

Pakistan's Role in the Syria Conflict -- Samuel Ramani, The Diplomat

The battle for Kunduz and Helmand -- Masood Saifullah, DW

Should the South China Sea be given a new name? -- Gavin Fernando, News.com.au

South Africa’s ANC has lost control of Johannesburg for the first time to a novice politician -- Lynsey Chutel, Quartz

Jailing Jihadis for Destroying Treasures -- Christopher Dickey, Daily Beast

Moscow won't let Ukraine go -- Bernd Johann, DW

From the destruction of Greece to democracy in Europe -- James K. Galbraith, Boston Globe

Does Survival In Venezuela Depend on Shippers In Miami? -- Tim Padgett, WLRN

Has Colombia finally reached a peace deal with FARC? -- David Iaconangelo, CSM

World News Briefs -- August 24, 2016



Reuters: Turkish tanks roll into Syria, pushing Islamic State out of key border town

Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes entered one of Islamic State's last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border on Wednesday, in Turkey's first major U.S.-backed incursion into its southern neighbor.

A column of at least nine Turkish tanks crossed into Syria with the group of largely Arab and Turkmen rebels to drive Islamic State out of Jarablus and surrounding villages. A Reuters reporter at the border witnessed intense bombardments, with palls of black smoke rising around the town.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST



Syria: Turkish-backed rebels 'seize' Jarablus from ISIL.

Turkish tanks cross Syrian border in military op to retake city of Jarablus from ISIS. Turkey's Syria offensive aimed at Kurdish YPG.

Syria, Kurds condemn Turkish incursion.

US military aids Turkey anti-IS operation in Syria.

U.S. military says air strike in Syria may have killed civilians.

Turkish, US officials discuss US-based cleric's extradition. Biden seeks to reassure Turkey over alleged coup-plotter.

Iraq forces advance in town south of Mosul.

Putin offers Middle East peace talks.

Thousands of Yemenis stranded after Saudis close airport.

Exiled Yemen government risks humanitarian catastrophe to cut off central bank.

Israel uncovers illegal Palestinian weapons-making network.

Israel clears forces in several deadly 2014 Gaza war cases.

ASIA

American University attack: one dead and 24 injured in Afghanistan. American University under attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. American University of Afghanistan attacked, students and staff shelter in place.

Duterte warns China over South China Sea dispute.

Indonesia in bid to rename disputed area in South China Sea.

Vietnam seeks support for 'maritime freedom'.

U.N. Security Council to meet Wednesday on North Korea missile launch.

North Korean submarine missile launch shows improved ability.

Japan, China and South Korea condemn latest Pyongyang missile test.

Japan tells China to stop violating territory in East China Sea.

Fatal car bombs explode in Thailand.

Powerful earthquake shakes central Myanmar. Earthquake rattles Myanmar and neighboring countries.

China takes aggressive steps to fend off banking, financial risks.

AFRICA

Anti-Mugabe protests turn violent in capital Harare.

Nigeria claims it killed Boko Haram leaders.

UN: 4.5 million need food assistance in northern Nigeria.

Libya's unity government says still seeks approval from eastern parliament.

UN-backed Libyan government to present new Cabinet.

South Sudan fighting kills at least 275, both sides say.

DR Congo elections: Opposition strike cripples Kinshasa.

Nigeria 'terror mastermind' appeals conviction by S.Africa court.

Nigeria banks banned from foreign currency deals.

South African finance minister won't meet police.

EUROPE

US Secretary Kerry to discuss Syria and Ukraine with Russia's Lavrov in Geneva.

Merkel under fire after call for Turks in Germany to show 'loyalty'.

Attempts to find 'Nazi gold train' in Poland hit the buffers.

At least 120 killed as quake flattens towns in central Italy. Italy earthquake kills dozens, reduces towns to rubble. Deadly earthquake rocks central Italy. Earthquake in central Italy leaves dozens dead.

Russia, Germany, France raise alarm over fighting in Ukraine.

Ukraine: Moscow failed to bring Kiev to its knees.

Migration minister: 180,000 migrants to flood Greece if EU-Turkey deal fails.

Germany's anti-immigration AfD party gaining allegiance.

More Europeans turning to firearms following terrorist attacks – report.

French burkini ban row escalates after clothing incident at Nice beach.

France's DCNS says India submarine data leak may be 'economic warfare'.

AMERICAS

Russian hackers 'targeted New York Times'.

Louisiana floods: Obama 'heartbroken' after tour.

Colombia, FARC to unveil final deal to end five decades of bloodshed. Colombia-FARC final peace agreement 'imminent'.

Central America leaders agree on joint force to fight gangs.

Venezuela confirms plan to purge state workers who signed recall.

U.S. seeks Latin American help amid rise in Asian, African migrants.

Canada's Mounties allow women in uniform to wear hijabs.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Islamic State attacks Western-backed camp on Jordan-Syria border.

IRGC commander discusses Afghan militia, ‘Shia liberation army,’ and Syria.

Malian jihadist 'lost way' in Timbuktu attacks, court told.

Drone strike kills 2 Qaeda suspects in Yemen.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Pfizer on buying spree with AstraZeneca antibiotics deal.

Google punishes sites with pop-up adverts.

US warns European Commission over treatment of Apple.

Qatar buys a piece of The Empire State Building.

Tesla claims records for e-car speed and range.

U.S. Election News Updates -- August 24, 2016



Daily Mail: Trump slams Hillary for 'Third World' corruption after it emerged that HALF of her meetings as Secretary of State were with Clinton foundation donors

* Republican nominee called revelations about Clinton 'a disgrace'
* Speaking at a rally in Austin, he called them 'a threat to... democracy'
* Report drew attention to meetings with donors to Clinton Foundation
* Mike Pence also called for the foundation to be 'immediately shut down'

Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on Hillary Clinton by accusing her of 'Third World' corruption after revelations about donor access to the Democratic candidate.

The Republican nominee called the revelations about Clinton and her family's charitable foundation a 'disgrace' and a 'threat to the foundation of democracy' at a rally in Austin, Texas.

A report revealed that more than half the people outside government who met Clinton while she was Secretary of State donated money to the Clinton Foundation.

Read more ....

The Democrat Campaign

Chorus grows for Clintons to shutter charitable foundation -- Reuters
Clinton to be questioned under oath on origins of email server -- Washington Examiner
Clinton keeps stay-the-course strategy on foundation, emails -- AP
Clinton targets Trump on race -- The Hill
Before debates, Clinton aims to keep Trump expectations high -- AP
Horrified by Trump, Democrats getting nostalgic about Romney -- AP
Clinton to receive first classified briefing Saturday -- The Hill

The Republican Campaign

As Trump tries minority outreach, many blacks unconvinced -- AP
Trump, aiming to widen support, makes pitch to Hispanics -- AP
Trump says immigration enforcement would protect jobs for minorities -- Reuters
Trump's evolving immigration plan compared to Clinton, Obama -- AP
Trump targets China trade, says plans serious measures -- Reuters
Donald Trump Says He Would Meet With Mexico's President -- ABC news
Trump, GOP see gold in Clinton Foundation attacks -- The Hill
Donald Trump: Hollywood celebs who ‘aren’t very hot’ are excited for Hillary Clinton -- Washington Times

General Election Coverage

Sanders: I'll campaign for Clinton, down-ticket Democrats -- AP
Staffers quit new Sanders group after campaign head joined -- The Hill
Nigel Farage To Tell 'Brexit Story' At Trump Rally In Mississippi -- SKY News
Defense industry bucks tradition with donations to Clinton -- Politico
McCain rips major Trump donor, warns of future campaign finance scandals -- Politico

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials


Emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Dept.
-- Rosalind S. Helderman, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post
Was access to Hillary Clinton's time for sale? -- Buck Sexton, CNN
Selling the Secretary: No one should be surprised the Clinton Foundation was hawking access to Hillary. -- Peter Roff, US News and World Report
Hillary Clinton’s run-out-the-clock strategy -- Annie Karni, Politico
Five takeaways from Clinton, Trump finance reports -- Jonathan Swan, The Hill
These Tech Companies Are Bankrolling Hillary Clinton -- Alex Fitzpatrick, Time
Trump gnaws at shorter leash -- Eli Stokols, Politico

Both Donald Trump And Hillary Clinton Have No Idea On How To Deal With Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of his Security Council amid heightened tensions with Ukraine over Crimea. 11 August 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin/via REUTERS

Matthew Rojansky, Foreign Policy: Trump and Clinton Have No Idea How to Deal With Putin

Murky links to Moscow and speculation of Kremlin interference have dominated the U.S. election. So how come neither candidate has a coherent Russia policy?

The degree to which Russia has taken center stage in the U.S. presidential election hasn’t been seen since the height of the Cold War. Whether it’s the strange and disturbing details of an apparent Kremlin-sponsored Democratic National Committee email hack or the Donald Trump campaign’s curious and convoluted links to the former Soviet region, Russia and its strongman president Vladimir Putin have emerged as a top U.S. national security concern. But so far, polarizing campaign rhetoric and media sensationalism have largely overshadowed all this attention on Russia.

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WNU Editor: The U.S. has not had a coherent policy towards Russia for years .... and I expect Hillary Clinton will continue this status quo should she occupy the White House. As for Donald Trump .... I honestly do not know what he will do .... and I suspect neither does he. But even if he wins the White House, there are too many vested interests who want to keep the status quo when it comes to relations with Russia .... and I have doubts that Donald Trump will resist these interest groups when "push comes to shove".

Is Russia And Ukraine On The Brink Of 'All Out War'?

Ukrainian servicemen look at a Ukrainian military jet fly above them while they sit on top of armoured personnel carriers in Kramatorsk April 16, 2014. (Reuters/Maks Levin) / Reuters

The Independent: Russia is teetering on the brink of ‘all out war’ with Ukraine

Whether tensions escalate or subside will depend most upon the political calculus of Russia. Previously, Moscow had hoped that sustained economic, military and political pressure could lead to significant loss of support within Ukraine for its pro-Western government.

Ukraine is holding a major military parade in Kiev today to mark its 25th anniversary as an independent state. But, at a time that should otherwise be a moment of national celebration, a serious crisis with Moscow is flaring up. So serious, in fact, that on Tuesday the Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande were forced to hold a three-way phone call to try to de-escalate the situation.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko has even warned that there is growing risk of a “full scale Russian invasion along all fronts,” ratcheting up what is already the bloodiest European conflict since the wars over the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is zero interest or support among the Russia public for an invasion and subsequent occupation of Ukraine .... and the Kremlin knows that. The cost alone would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up, rebuild, and support the Ukraine economy .... and with Presidential elections less than two years away, Putin is not going to threaten his chances in a new and costly war. Unfortunately .... the Ukraine crisis is going to brew on for a long time. The Ukraine government has no interest to come to an accommodation with the rebels in the east .... and as long as this conflict continues to bleed both sides, the elimination of sanctions .... which is the Kremlin's priority .... will always being pushed into the future. Hence the threats, military build-up, and warnings from Moscow .... but this is all "bark, and no bite".

Ukraine Marks 25th Independence Day As Tensions With Russia Worsen



WSJ: Ukraine Celebrates Independence Amid Tensions With Moscow

Kiev celebrates 25th anniversary of exit from Soviet Union with parade of tanks and rocket launchers

MOSCOW—The Ukrainian government marked a quarter-century of independence Wednesday with a display of military might, as tensions flared in the country’s war-torn east.

Tanks and rocket launchers rolled through downtown Kiev to mark Ukraine’s exit from the Soviet Union in 1991, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko set the tone for the celebrations with a call to defend the country’s sovereignty.

“Our parade is a signal to the enemy: Ukrainians are seriously ready to fight for their independence,” Mr. Poroshenko said.

The military parade in Kiev was a reminder of the conflict simmering along the 300-mile front line in eastern Ukraine, where fighting continues between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists. The United Nations estimates that almost 10,000 have been killed since fighting began in 2014.

Read more ....

More News On Ukraine Marking Its 25th Independence Day

Ukraine marks 25 years of independence a riven nation despite the flags -- The Guardian
Ukraine's Poroshenko Strikes Martial Tone on Independence Day -- VOA
Ukraine Celebrates 25 Years Of Independence As Tensions With Russia Worsen -- RFE
Ukraine: Moscow failed to bring Kiev to its knees -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine Independence Day Facts And Trivia: 7 Things To Know About National Holiday -- IBTimes

Colombia Government And FARC Rebels On The Verge To Announce Peace Deal

© AFP 2016/ LUIS ACOSTA

Wall Street Journal: Colombia Reaches Tentative Peace Deal With FARC Rebels

A half-century of conflict has left more than 200,000 dead.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia—Peace talks between the Colombian government and Marxist rebels have concluded successfully after nearly four years of contentious discussions to end a half-century of conflict that has cost more than 200,000 lives, people familiar with the talks said Wednesday.

Negotiations that began in November 2012 in Havana ended Tuesday night with both sides putting the finishing touches on a pact. President Juan Manuel Santos will present details to Congress, the people said, and then request electoral authorities to organize a nonbinding referendum to ask Colombians if they approve of the deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a group that took up arms against the state in 1964.

Read more ....

More News On The Colombia Government And The FARC Rebels On The Verge Of Announcing Their Peace Deal

Colombia government and FARC rebels ready to announce peace deal -- Washington Post
Colombia, FARC to make 'historic' peace announcement -- AFP
Colombia’s government and Farc rebels finalize peace deal to end 52-year war -- The Guardian
Colombia's war victims urge forgiveness as society splits over peace deal -- Reuters
Colombia to finalize peace deal ending half-century war with FARC rebels -- VICE News
After Colombia-FARC Peace Talks Lead To Truce, Questions Remain About Agreement Becoming Law -- IBTimes
Has Colombia finally reached a peace deal with FARC? -- David Iaconangelo, CSM
AP EXPLAINS: How Colombia conflict developed over decades -- AP