Sunday, December 17, 2017

Miss Iraq Flees Iraq Over Selfie With Miss Israel

New York Post: Miss Iraq forced to flee over selfie with Miss Israel

So much for diplomacy by selfie.

Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, and her family had to flee their homeland after receiving death threats over a photo she posted online last month.

Why? Because Idan posed with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, at a Miss Universe International Beauty Pageant, the Times of Israel reported.

Idan came under fire for posting the photo to Instagram, captioned, “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” in addition to modeling a bikini.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What did Miss Iraq expected?

Picture Of The Day

Undercover Israeli security personnel detain a Palestinian demonstrator during clashes at a protest against President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Photos Of The Week (Reuters).

Watch The Loading Of A Russian Yars Nuclear Missile Into It's Silo? (Video)

RT: Delicate job: Russian Yars ICBM loaded into underground shaft (VIDEO)

A missile unit in Kozelsk is the first in Russia being armed with stationary Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles, with the Defense Ministry releasing unique footage of a 50-ton ICBM being loaded into the underground shaft.

The video shows the transportation of the giant missile, which is capable of destroying an entire city. The truck carrying the ICBM was accompanied by police, firemen, several APCs and military vehicle

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is not everyday that you see something like this.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Who Will Rebuild Raqqah?

Alexandra Zavis, L.A. Times: Islamic State’s self-styled capital is in ruins and its population scattered. Who will rebuild Raqqah?

The crowd was seething with frustration.

“We want to go inside!” one man yelled. “They told us when Raqqah is liberated we can go home.”

Some of the U.S.-backed fighters who drove Islamic State militants from the Syrian city in October tried to reason with him. It’s not safe, they said. Scores of people have been injured or killed by mines since the fighting ended.

“Haram!” the crowd shouted. “This is wrong!”

There have been many such testy exchanges at checkpoints as the fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, wrestle with the difficult business of governing a swath of territory reclaimed from Islamic State in northeastern Syria.

The challenges are especially acute in the city that Islamic State claimed as its capital and ruled with a bloodthirsty grip. Nearly two months after its capture, Raqqah remains a rubble-strewn ghost town.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As the above drone video images show .... there is nothing left of the city. It will take years and untold amounts of money to rebuild this city .... and there is no guarantee that the pre-war population may even return.

Recent B-52 Mission Over Afghanistan Dropped A Record-Setting Number Of Precision Munitions

Business Insider/American Military News: A B-52 in Afghanistan dropped the most bombs ever from a single Stratofortress

* A B-52 Stratofortress dropped a record-setting number of precision munitions in Afghanistan.
* The B-52s from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron are the first to be outfitted with the conventional rotary launcher.
* Since the new Afghan strategy to target Taliban drug labs, 25 drug processing labs have been destroyed.

A B-52 Stratofortress dropped a record-setting number of precision munitions by a single Stratofortress by using the “conventional rotary launcher” during a strike on Taliban drug labs.

The B-52s from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron are the first to be outfitted with the conventional rotary launcher (CRL), allowing it to hold eight additional precision-guided munitions (PGMs) in its weapons bays.

“Combined with PGMs carried on the wing pylons, the CRL allowed the B-52 to carry more PGMs than any previous mission,” Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told the Washington Examiner. “These guided munitions allowed us to effectively destroy the targets while mitigating the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The B-52 is about to get even more deadlier .... The B-52 Bomber Will Soon Be Able to Carry 66 Percent More Bombs (The National Interest).

More News On A Recent B-52 Mission Over Afghanistan Dropping A Record-Setting Number Of Precision Munitions

Combat Mission Sets New B-52 Smart Bomb Record --

US B-52 Sets New Record for Most Smart Bombs Dropped Against Enemy in One Mission -- The Western Journal
The B-52’s Devastating New Weapons Upgrade Is Already Kicking Ass In The Middle East -- Task & Purpose

Chinese Government Officials And Security Experts: China Must Be Ready For A War On The Korean Peninsula

North Korean soldiers stand guard behind the national flags of China, front, and North Korea on a boat anchored along the banks of the Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, on June 10, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Jacky Chen

SCMP: ‘North Korea is a time bomb’: government advisers urge China to prepare for war

The risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula is the highest its been in decades and Beijing must mobilise resources for fallout, observers say.

China must be ready for a war on the Korean peninsula, with the risk of conflict higher than ever before, Chinese government advisers and a retired senior military officer warned on Saturday.

Beijing, once seen as Pyongyang’s key ally with sway over its neighbour, was losing control of the situation, they warned.

“Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” said Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong, who also advises the State Council, China’s cabinet.

Shi said US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were locked in a vicious cycle of threats and it was already too late for China to avert it. At best, Beijing could stall a full-blown conflict.

Read more ....

Update: China Must Prepare for Imminent War With North Korea, Top National Security Experts Warn (Newsweek)

WNU Editor: A year ago such talk from Chinese officials and experts was unthinkable. Today .... it is becoming more and more regular.

Is The Moscow-Beijing Alliance The Most Important In The World?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. © RIA Novosti. Sergei Guneev

TASS: Chinese envoy calls Moscow-Beijing ties most important in the world

They are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui said

MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui believes relations between Moscow and Beijing are the most important in the world.

"The Chinese-Russian relations of comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership are the most important bilateral relations in the world, and, moreover, the best relations between big countries," he told reporters on Wednesday at a TASS news conference dedicated to the results of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

"One can say that they are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations and an important force to protect peace and stability throughout the world," the diplomat added.

Read more ....

Update #1: China Snubs Trump, Says Russia Ties Best and Most Important in World -- Newsweek
Update #2: China snubs Trump, says Russia ties best and most important in world -- Vestnik Kavkaza

WNU Editor: As bilateral relations go, it is definitely one of the most important ties in the world.

President Trump To Accuse China Of 'Economic Aggression' On Monday's National Security Strategy Speech

U.S. President Donald Trump walks out from the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to Camp David, December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Reuters: Trump to say in security speech that China is competitor: officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will lay out a new U.S. national security strategy on Monday based on his “America First” policy and will, among other items, make clear that China is a competitor, two senior U.S. officials said on Saturday.

Trump has praised Chinese President Xi Jinping while also demanding that Beijing increase pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program and to change trade practices to make them more favorable to the United States.

The national security strategy, to be rolled out in a speech by Trump, should not be seen as an attempt to contain China but rather to offer a clear-eyed look at the challenges China poses, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The strategy, which was still being drafted, may also reverse Democratic President Barack Obama’s declaration in September 2016 that climate change is a threat to security, one official said.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump's National Security Strategy Speech (On Monday) Where He Will Be Accusing China Of 'Economic Aggression'

Trump to accuse China of 'economic aggression' -- Financial Times
Trump to accuse China of 'economic aggression': Financial Times -- CNBC
Trump Starts New War Against China Over 'Economic Aggression' -- Newsweek
The next battle: Trump to take on China -- Axios

What Happened To All The Foreign Islamic State Fighters?

AFP: Islamic State: What happened to all the foreign fighters?

Washington (AFP) - An estimated 40,000 people traveled from around the world to take up arms for the Islamic State group as it occupied territory in Syria and Iraq and declared a caliphate in 2014.

A few hundred are believed to still be fighting as IS struggles to survive, having lost most of its territory to campaigns by Western-backed Syrian and Iraqi coalition armies.

But what happened to the rest?

Many thousands were certainly killed in the intense fighting, but US experts believe many have survived, posing a formidable threat going ahead.

"The issue is: how many have died? How many are still there and willing to fight? How many have gone elsewhere to fight?" said Seth Jones, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation.

"How many have given up? I don't think we have a good answer."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A good number are dead. The rest are either hiding in Syria/Iraq or have joined rebel groups in Syria, have traveled back home, have traveled to join Islamic State offshoots elsewhere, or are now in a third country wondering on what to do next.

Who Won The War Against The Islamic State?

A Kurdish fighter keeps guard while overlooking positions of Islamic State militants near Mosul in northern Iraq August 19, 2014. Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

Newsweek: U.S. Military and Russia Clash Over Donald Trump’s Boast of Victory Over ISIS

Russia’s Defense Ministry has criticized the U.S. over what it claims are mixed messages about its fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Syria.

The Russian military was irked by President Donald Trump’s taking credit for defeating the Islamist group, while the military has maintained forces on the ground in Syria. Moscow’s blunt response came after Trump saluted U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis for doing a “fantastic job” in fighting the group last week and once again praised the U.S. “campaign to obliterate ISIS” during a defense budget signing on Tuesday. “As you know, we’ve won in Syria, we’ve won in Iraq. But they spread to other areas, and we’re getting them as fast as they spread,” Trump said.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has attempted to portray Moscow as the winner in the Syrian war, and his defense ministry took offense at Trump’s words, accusing U.S. defense chiefs of lying. Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, said the U.S. should either pull out of Syria or stop letting President Donald Trump claim victory.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These arguments never end. Who won the Second World War? Roosevelt? Stalin? Churchill? Soviet General Zhukov in Europe ... or is it General Eisenhower? US General MacArthur in Asia? And now who won the war against ISIS. Trump? Putin? Obama? Or is it this Iraqi General .... Bergen: It wasn't Trump but this general's elite soldiers who defeated ISIS (CNN).

This Is How The U.S. Navy Will Sink The Chinese Navy

James Holmes, National Interest: This Is the Navy's Master Plan to Kill China's Aircraft Carriers

Fortress China is festooned with airfields and mobile antiship weaponry able to strike hundreds of miles out to sea. Yes, the U.S. Navy remains stronger than the PLA Navy in open-sea battle. A fleet-on-fleet engagement isolated from shore-based reinforcements would probably go America’s way. But that hypothetical result may not make much difference since the two navies are more likely to join battle in confined Asian waters than on the open ocean.

Ah, yes, the “carrier-killer.” China is forever touting the array of guided missiles its weaponeers have devised to pummel U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs). Most prominent among them are its DF-21D and DF-26 antiship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has made a mainstay of China’s anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) defenses.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I say the U.S. Navy has the advantage for now, but decades from now the Chinese may have the edge when it comes to naval engagements in Asia. At least that is what the Chinese are hoping for.

The German Navy Does Not Have One Working Submarine

Image: A submarine at the German shipyard Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH in Kiel. Reuters/Fabian Bimmer.

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: Germany Does Not Have One Working Submarine

On October 15, the submarine U-35 was performing a diving maneuver off the Norwegian coast when one of the four fins on its X-shaped rudder struck a rock. The damage was severe enough it needed to be escorted back to Kiel by the testing ship Helmsand. The fifty-six-meter-long submarine would have to miss an international exercise in the Skagerrak Strait, scheduled for December.

Underwater collisions are a hazard of submarine operations. Both U.S. and Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarines have run aground in recent years. Repairs are often expensive and time-consuming. But spokesman Capt. Johannes Dumrese told a German publication in October that U-35’s accident had an extraordinary consequence.

On paper, the Deutsche Marine has six Type 212A submarines equipped with advanced air-independent propulsion, allowing ultraquiet operations submerged for over two weeks at a time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They many not have a working sub for the moment, but at least the German Navy has a cool frigate .... The Curious Case Of Germany's Massive New But Relatively Toothless Type 125 "Frigates" (Warzone/The Drive)

It Looks Like The A-10 Is Going To Fly For A Long Time

Task & Purpose: The A-10 Warthog Gets A Boost From Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson

After years of speculation surrounding the fate of the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” — and amid compounding budget pressures — the Air Force’s beloved light attack aircraft just picked up a major boost from current Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Dec. 11, the former Air Force officer reassured lawmakers that a multi-million-dollar A-10 wing production program to upgrade the wings on half the service’s A-10s, far from being a budget boondoggle, would keep the aircraft dominant against all manner of baddies— and Wilson added, with a smirk, “I happen to be a fan of the A-10.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This plane has proven itself more than once on why it is needed. And speaking of planes that have proven themselves more than once over the years .... The B-52 Bomber Will Soon Be Able to Carry 66 Percent More Bombs (National Interest).

In The Largest Of Its Kind Ever, 37 C-17 Globemaster III And 21 C-130 Hercules Airlifters Took Part In An Exercise Last Week


Warzone/The Drive: That Massive Cross-Country USAF Airlift Exercise Was the Largest of Its Kind, Ever

The service's latest Joint Forcible Entry Exercise looked like a particularly impressive spectacle, because it was.

Earlier in December 2017, Americans across the country looked up to see a steady stream of lights in the sky, which, as we were first to explain, was a huge formation of U.S. Air Force transport aircraft plodding their way to the Nevada Test and Training Range, or NTTR. But if the spectacle seemed particularly eye catching this time around, it’s because this particular iteration of what is known as a Joint Forcible Entry Exercise, or JFEX, was the largest one ever.

On the night of Dec. 9-10, 2017, a total of 37 C-17 Globemaster III and 21 C-130 Hercules airlifters took off for Nevada from a dozen bases around the United States as part of the capstone JFEX for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Integration phase’s Class 17B. The simulated mission was to get into enemy territory and drop U.S. Army paratroopers, who would then establish a presence on the ground. Additional aircraft, including F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, flew support missions against the mock opposing forces. In total, more than 100 planes were involved in the exercise, making the biggest of its kind, according to an official Air Force article.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Now that is one big exercise.

U.S. Air Force Has Started To Experiment And Conceptualize A 6th Generation Fighter Aircraft

Northrop Grumman

Scout Warrior: Air Force Starts Experiments for 6th Gen Fighter

The Air Force has begun experimenting and conceptual planning for a 6th generation fighter aircraft to emerge in coming years as a technological step beyond the F-35, service leaders said.

"We have started experimentation, developmental planning and technology investment," Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview earlier this year.

The new aircraft, engineered to succeed the 5th-generation F-35 Joint StrikeFighter and explode onto the scene by the mid 2030s, is now in the earliest stages of conceptual development with the Air Force and Navy. The two services are now working together on early conceptual discussions about the types of technologies and capabilities the aircraft will contain. While the Air Force has not yet identified a platform for the new aircraft.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is amazing how long it now takes to plan, conceptualize, experiment, develop, and manufacture these planes.

What Is Boeing's Mysterious Aircraft That Will Be Unveiled Next Week?

Warzone/The Drive: Boeing Defense Teases Mystery Aircraft Unveiling By Hiding It Under A Black Sheet

The strange teaser came on Twitter, showing a puzzling design that the company says will "change the future of air power."

Boeing Defense posted a provocative Tweet today showing what appears to be a new aircraft design under a big black sheet with the teaser "Robust? Check. Ready? Check. Changing future air power? Check it out! See the reveal 12/19! #PhantomWorks" on their Twitter account. Phantom Works is the company's secretive leading-edge design house that is modeled roughly on Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works.

New military aircraft unveils can come with all the glitz and glamour of a new car model unveil, but what's different here is there seems to be nothing definitively known about this new aircraft or its origins at this time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:
It s probably this .... Could "Phantom Swift" Be The Aircraft Boeing Defense Is Set To Reveal Next Week? (Warzone/The Drive).

Russia And N. Korea Are Eyeing Bitcoin Exchanges For Money Laundering

Some of Bitcoin enthusiast Mike Caldwell's coins and paper vouchers, often called "paper wallets", are pictured at his office in this photo illustration in Sandy, Utah, January 31, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Patrick Tucker, Defense One: Russia, N. Korea Eye Bitcoin for Money Laundering, Putting It on a Crash Course with Regulators

Thieves and sanctioned countries are targeting the digital currency’s exchanges, setting up a fight between governments and cryptocurrency powerhouses.

Bitcoin’s rising value got a further boost last week with the debut of the first futures trading. But the digital currency has also attracted the attention the interest of U.S. adversaries. A report out this week says that Russia is eying the currency as a means to bypass harsh sanctions levied by the United States and European governments, while North Koreans are suspected of trying to steal Bitcoins from South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. All this puts pressure on the U.S. government – and may ultimately hurt the cryptocurrency’s value.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I can understand why North Korea may be targeting South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges to steal bitcoins .... but the suggestion that Russia may be focusing on these exchanges to circumvent sanctions does not make sense to me. The Bitcoin bubble is just that .... a bubble .... and I for one would not want my assets in that bubble knowing all too well that what it may be worth today may be a radically different story tomorrow .... $19,000: Bitcoin Hits New All Time High After Burst Of Asian Buying; Bigger Than Wells, Wal-Mart (Zero Hedge).

The Pentagon Has A Secret Program To Search For UFOs

Luis Elizondo, who led the Pentagon effort to investigate U.F.O.s until October. He resigned to protest what he characterized as excessive secrecy and internal opposition to the program. Credit Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

New York Times: Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program

WASHINGTON — In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find.

Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

Read more ....

Update: The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs (Politico)

WNU Editor: Incidences like this one makes people wonder .... "Look at the thing" US Navy Jet Encounters Unknown Object (Video: New York Times/Department of Defense).