Saturday, August 19, 2017

Editor's Note

Spending time with family today. They are all leaving late tonight which means life will be returning to normal tomorrow .... and yes .... so will blogging after a hectic 2 weeks.

President Trump Makes No Decision On Afghan Strategy

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One prior to departing Morristown Municipal Airport en route Camp David, Maryland, where he'll meet with his national security team to discuss a U.S. security strategy for South Asia that includes sending more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan, in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S., August 18, 2017. Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

Reuters: Trump makes no decision on Afghanistan strategy

HAGERSTOWN, Md./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump reviewed an array of options for a strategy on Afghanistan with his top national security aides, but made no decision on whether he would commit more troops to America's longest war.

Friday's meeting was the latest in a series of high-level discussions on Afghanistan and a broader security strategy for the South Asia region that has been bogged down by internal differences.

Trump was briefed extensively "on a new strategy to protect America's interests in South Asia", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, after the meeting at the Camp David Maryland retreat.

"The president is studying and considering his options and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at the appropriate time," Sanders said.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump Undecided On Committing More U.S. Troops To Afghanistan (RFE).
Update #2: Trump again puts off Afghanistan war decision (The Hill).

WNU Editor: Not committing to a U.S. military expansion in Afghanistan is a decision in my book .... and I can only hope that he sticks with it.

Picture Of The Day

The Russian team's tank during the final relay of the 2017 International Army Games’ Tank Biathlon competition at the Alabino range in Moscow Region, Russia, on August 12, 2017. © SPUTNIK/ MAKSIM BLINOV

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... This Week in Pictures (Sputnik).

China Is Shifting Its Focus From The South China Sea To The Yellow Sea.

Map from Wikipedia

South China Morning Post: What’s China worried about? Clue lies in where it’s holding navy drills

Beijing’s concerns evident in the shift of its focus from South China Sea to the Yellow Sea.

China has shifted the focus of its naval exercises from the South China Sea to the northeastern Yellow Sea amid simmering tensions over the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, military experts said.

“The tension in the South China Sea has eased as Sino-Philippines relations have improved,” said Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based commentator on military affairs.

Despite its victory last year in a tribunal ruling on territorial claims in the disputed waterway, Manila was now more concerned with seeking greater economic cooperation with Beijing, he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Many reasons for this shift. China has (if reports are to be believed) finished constructing its artificial islands in the South China Sea .... Has China Finished Its Island Building Campaign In The South China Sea? (August 16, 2017). North Korea is a problem .... and will be for the foreseeable future. But the big one has been the U.S. deployment of THAAD in South Korea .... a deployment that China views as a strategic threat.

Friday, August 18, 2017

This Is What A China - India War Will Look Like

Blake Stilwell, We Are The Mighty: This is how it could go down if China and India went to war

A war between the world’s largest Democracy and the world’s largest Communist state may not seem likely to the casual observer. But not only is it possible, it’s happened before. Only things were very different back then.

China was facing an economic collapse in the early 1960s in the years following the Great Leap Forward. The country was struggling to feed its people, let alone support an all-out war. India, on the other hand, was on an economic upturn. Militarily, however, India was unprepared and could only field 14,000 troops, compared to China’s exhaustive manpower.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A nightmare scenario. And while China will probably win in such a conflict .... the military and economy favours China .... the long term consequences for Asia will be a region that will be on edge for decades.

Get Ready For The Coming Wars Over Fish

Captain Jay Caputo, US Naval Institute: A Global Fish War is Coming

Hungry World

The demand for fish as a protein source is increasing. The global population today is 7.5 billion people, and is expected to be 9.7 billion by 2050, with the largest growth coming in Africa and Asia. Fish consumption has increased from an average of 9.9 kilograms per person in the 1960s to 19.7 kilograms in 2013 with estimates for 2014 and 2015 above 20 kilograms. The ten most productive species are fully fished and demand continues to rise in regions generally with little governance and many disputed boundaries.

In 2014, there were 4.6 million fishing vessels on the world’s oceans: 75 percent were in Asia and 15 percent in Africa. High seas fishing capacity has grown significantly, and there are now 64,000 fishing vessels with lengths in excess of 24 meters, and Asia’s distant water fishing nations continue to add newer and larger ships.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have been covering this story for a long time .... The Growing Threat Of Global 'Fish Wars' (Febraury 20, 2017).

Captured ISIS Fighters Show Signs Of Drug Addiction

A banner belonging to Islamic State fighters is seen during a battle with Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa, Syria, Aug. 16, 2017. (photo by REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Al-Monitor: Pentagon says captured Islamic State fighters hooked on drugs

Encircled on all sides by US-backed Syrian rebels and cut off from municipal services in Raqqa, captured Islamic State (IS) fighters are showing increasing signs of malnutrition and drug use.

Among a handful of IS fighters who have surrendered in the Old City, where some 2,500 militants remain, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have found track marks indicating the use of amphetamines. Leaders of the US-led coalition to defeat IS in Iraq and Syria say the condition of IS fighters shows the increasing desperation of militants to keep themselves awake and in the fight.

“As the central services, as water turns off, it makes it very difficult to sustain oneself,” said Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, in response to a question from Al-Monitor. “This was a relatively new report of some of these fighters using some sort of drugs to keep them alert and keep them going.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is summer. The power is sporadic (if there is electricity). Water and other supplies are in short supply. I can only imagine the hell-hole that the remaining civilians must be going through .... and in the middle of all of this are 2500 desperate ISIS fighters with some addicted to drugs. Yup .... hell-hole.

An Interactive Tour Of The USS Zumwalt

RCD: Inside the USS Zumwalt

The Bookmark has launched an interactive 3D animated tour of the USS Zumwalt, the most technologically advanced surface ship in the world. The Zumwalt is the US Navy's new multi-purpose stealth missile destroyer. The warship features a futuristic, inward-sloping "tumblehome" hull and backswept bow, both of which contribute to its low radar profile. The ship measures two football fields and can carry two choppers and two attack boats, but it has the radar signature of a 50-foot fishing vessel.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The interactive tour is here.

United Nations: Yemen Violence Worsening

Reuters: Yemen violence worsening, more access to north needed: U.N.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Top United Nations officials on Friday warned violence in Yemen was worsening and greater access was needed to the Houthi rebel-held north, particularly through the key Red Sea port of Hodeidah.

U.N. aid chief Stephen O'Brien slammed Yemen's government and a Saudi-led military coalition for "unilaterally denying or excessively delaying entry to vessels carrying essential cargo" to the port.

"It is simply wrong to insist these cargoes go to Aden, not Hodeidah," O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council, appealing for countries to back a U.N. mechanism that started inspecting commercial shipments to rebel-held ports in May last year.

The United Nations has worked to avert attacks on Hodeidah port, where around 80 percent of Yemen's food imports arrive.

Read more ....

More News On The Crisis In Yemen

Yemen's 'man-made catastrophe' is ravaging country, senior UN officials tell Security Council -- UN News Centre
UN demands more humanitarian access to Yemen -- Al Jazeera
Yemen facing 'triple tragedy' of conflict, cholera, famine, UN says -- Daily Sabah
Yemen Teeters On Brink Of A New 'Catastrophe' As Blood Bank Eyes Closure -- NPR
Saudi coalition killed hundreds of children in Yemen, confidential UN report claims -- The Independent
Saudi forces deployed in Yemen’s port of Aden -- Daily Star
Confidential UN Report Suggests Saudi-Led Coalition Failing in Yemen -- Foreign Policy

President Trump Meets With National Security Team At Camp David To Decide On Options For Afghanistan

VOA: Trump, Security Team Mulling Strategic Options on Afghanistan

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is nearing a decision on a new strategy to deal with the 16-year war in Afghanistan, according to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Several options will be considered Friday when Trump meets with Vice President Mike Pence and his national security team at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Speaking to reporters Thursday in Washington, Mattis said “We are coming very close to a decision and I anticipate it in the very near future.”

Mattis did not provide hints about a new strategy to fight the war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in U.S. history, but several options will be considered Friday.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump, top aides seek to overcome divisions delaying Afghan strategy (Reuters)
Update #2: Trump studying options for new approach to Afghan war (AP)

WNU Editor: There are no good options. My prediction .... a significant increase in soldiers. Increase air support. Changing the rules of engagement for US forces. Maybe use more contractors (a big maybe). Train more Afghan soldiers. Create an even larger Afghan Special Forces unit modelled in the same manner as Iraq to take on Taliban strongholds directly. And .... the most important point of them all .... pray that it works. And while no one will say it publicly .... give a timetable of two years for this strategy to work. As to the big question .... will it work? If history is any indication, the answer will be no.

President Trump Elevates US Cyber Command To A Unified Combatant Command

Washington Post: President Trump announces move to elevate Cyber Command

President Trump has directed that Cyber Command, the Pentagon’s offensive cyber force, will become its own unified military command in a move that is meant to strengthen cyberspace operations and bolster U.S. defenses.

“The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries,” Trump said in a statement Friday.

CyberCom was formed in 2010 from two smaller organizations subordinate to Strategic Command, the same military body responsible for U.S. missile defenses. Since its beginning, it has been led by the director of the NSA, which is currently Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers.

Trump’s move means that Cyber Command will become the 10th unified command in the U.S. military, putting it on par with the main combatant commands, such as Central Command.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Welcome to the 21rst century.

More News On President Trump Elevating US Cyber Command To A Unified Combatant Command

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Elevation of Cyber Command -- Whitehouse
President Elevates U.S. Cyber Command to Unified Combatant Command -- US Department of Defense
Trump approves plan to create independent cyber command -- AP
Trump lifts Cyber Command status to boost cyber defense -- Reuters
Trump boosts US Cyber Command -- The Hill
Trump Boosts Military Cyber Command, Hints At Future NSA Changes -- IBTimes
Trump Boosts U.S. Cyber Command's Status in Military Chain -- Bloomberg
Trump announces plan to elevate U.S. military command that oversees cyber operations -- L.A. Times
Trump elevates U.S. Cyber Command, vows 'increased resolve' against threats -- Politico
Trump approves Obama-era plan for a more independent US Cyber Command -- Tech Crunch
Trump elevates US Cyber Command to independent status -- RT

The Aftermath From Yesterday's Terror Attack In Barcelona -- News Roundup

Daily Mail: Baby-faced jihadi, 18, who drove van into Barcelona crowds 'WAS among five terrorists shot dead during Spanish terror attack', as hunt continues for remaining ISIS cell members

* Moussa Oukabir, 18, is believed to have stolen his brother's passport to rent the van used in the attack
* He escaped the scene of the attack which killed 13 and injured more than 100 in Barcelona yesterday
* Authorities are investigating whether he then joined four others for an attack on a nearby beach resort
* His brother, Moroccan national Driss Oukabir, handed himself in to police last night and denies involvement
* Attack suspect Moussa wrote in a post online that his first act as king of the world would be 'kill infidels'
* Five members of the terror cell were shot dead during a second attack. Four people have been arrested
* Police say the cell may have had as many as 12 members although ID of Barcelona attacker not confirmed

The terrorist who drove the van which ploughed into crowds of pedestrians in Barcelona's tourist district was among five jihadists shot dead in the early hours of this morning, it has been confirmed.

Reports in Spain state that Moussa Oukabir, who authorities believe was behind the wheel of the rented Fiat van, was among the dead after a shootout at the beach resort of Cambrils.

His identity is currently unconfirmed, although police have said that the van driver - who killed 13 and injured more than 100 when the vehicle drove into crowds in the Las Ramblas district - was shot dead.

A second terror attack hours later in Cambrils claimed the life of a 61-year-old Spanish woman.

Read more ....

The Aftermath From Yesterday's Terror Attack In Barcelona -- News Roundup

Spain Attacks - Latest Updates -- BBC
Barcelona and Cambrils attackers planned bigger atrocity, say police – live updates -- The Guardian
Barcelona and Cambrils: 'Bigger' attacks were prepared -- BBC
Barcelona van attacker among five killed by police: Spanish media -- Reuters
Timeline of terror in Spain: how Barcelona and Cambrils attacks unfolded -- The Guardian
Hero policewoman kills FOUR jihadists wearing fake suicide vests made from Coke cans -- Daily Mail
Spanish police hunt van driver from Barcelona terror attack -- UPI
Inside flat where 'Las Ramblas jihadi' Moussa Oukabir lived with his mother and sisters as neighbours say he's a 'normal teenager who loves football' -- Daily Mail
Barcelona: Las Ramblas reopens as police make fourth arrest over terror attacks -- ABC News Online
'Resilient Barcelona' stands up against fear -- DW
'I am not afraid': Barcelona vigil sends message of defiance -- The Guardian
Barcelona terror attacks draw diverse reactions online -- DW
First CCTV video emerges showing van attack in Barcelona -- RT
Pictured smiling hours before Barcelona carnage: British boy, seven, who hasn't been seen since being caught in van terror attack, as US citizen confirmed dead and photos emerge of Las Ramblas victims -- Daily Mail
Spain attack: What do we know about the victims? -- BBC

President Trump Has Fired White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

New York Times: Stephen Bannon Out at the White House After Turbulent Run

Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled chief strategist who helped President Trump win the 2016 election but clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers, is leaving his post, a White House spokeswoman announced Friday.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”

Earlier on Friday, the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion. But a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted that the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week. But the move was delayed after the violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Read more ....

WNU editor: According to the New York Times, Steve Bannon submitted his resignation on August 7, but apparently President Trump was going to fire him anyway. As to what will be the consequences of his resignation .... he was a constant critic of those who wanted to implement military solutions to places like Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Korea. His departure will mean that there will be no one else to give an alternative point of view to the Generals and hawks within the administration. My prediction .... expect to see a major ramping up of military deployments and actions around the globe very soon. He was also a critic of global trade deals .... so we may see a lesser push to disband trade deals like NAFTA (maybe). He has also been the fiercest critic on Chinese trade, but that voice is now gone .... Experts dismiss Bannon's call for economic war with China (CBS/AP). On the domestic political scene .... his departure is not going to lessen the intense opposition towards President Trump. If anything, it is going to embolden them.

More News On The Firing Of White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump’s turbulent White House -- AP
Trump fires controversial chief strategist Bannon -- Reuters
Trump gets rid of Stephen Bannon, a top proponent of his nationalist agenda -- Washington Post
Steve Bannon Out as White House Chief Strategist -- NBC
Steve Bannon out at the White House -- FOX News
Bannon out as White House chief strategist -- Politico
Steve Bannon out as Trump's chief strategist -- LA Times
Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon fired -- CNN
Steve Bannon is out at White House -- New York Post
Steve Bannon Out As Chief White House Strategist -- NPR
Steve Bannon fired as Trump White House's top strategist -- BBC
Conservatives react with fury to Bannon's departure -- The Hill

The Case Of The Russian Dossier On President Trump Is Now In The Courts

McClatchy News: Trump dossier author faces deposition

Washington: Within days, weeks at most, the former British spy behind the infamous dossier on Donald Trump could find himself forced by courts on both sides of the Atlantic to sit for a deposition.

The stakes are high for Christopher Steele. As it stands, he faces defamation lawsuits in England and the United States. And U.S. congressional committees and investigators want to talk to him about the contents of his dossier and who compensated him for his work.

But the stakes are also high for Trump, as Steele might be forced to provide corroborating evidence and even sources for the many charges in the dossier that allege collaboration between the Republican candidate and Russian operatives.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If the author (Christopher Steele) of the Russian dossier on President Trump cannot verify its comments .... the legal consequences are going to be beyond severe for him. But if he can verify his claims .... wow .... this story (which is why the Mueller Commission was established) will get very interesting.

Update: Speaking of Robert Mueller .... some are getting restless .... Robert Mueller May Not Be The Savior The Anti-Trump Internet Is Hoping For (NPR). I have a different take .... this investigation is going to go on for a long time, it is just starting.

Editor's Note On Comments

In the past few months the comments on this blog have degenerated to name calling, swearing, even calling me a Nazi. Calling me a Nazi was the final straw. I have no patience for people who are filled with hate, and I know that most people who read this blog do not have that type of patience either.

I have now instituted comment moderation.

Venezuelan Intensifies Its Crackdown On Opponents

Bloomberg: Venezuela's Maduro Regime Steps Up Crackdown on Dissidents

* Secret police raid home of former public prosecutor Ortega
* Constituent assembly orders investigation of opposition heads

Venezuela’s government is intensifying its crackdown on critics of President Nicolas Maduro, ordering the detention of the husband of former Public Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz and separate investigations of prominent opposition leaders.

Ortega said in a post on her Twitter account that secret police were raiding the family’s home in Caracas. The Supreme Court later ordered the arrest of her lawmaker husband, German Ferrer, accusing him of leading an extortion ring out of the prosecutor’s office.

“It’s revenge for fighting against the totalitarianism that exists in Venezuela,” she wrote on Twitter, blaming the raid on Maduro and Diosdado Cabello, a high-ranking socialist party official who brought the suit against her husband. Ortega had been the highest-ranking member of Maduro’s administration to break ranks with the government before she was deposed this month by a newly convened legislative super body, the constituyente. She has since fled and gone into hiding.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is only going to get more intense. Unfortunately .... this is not going to solve Venezuela's problems of limited food, limited medicines, and hyper-inflation. On the contrary, it is only going to make it worse.

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

Nice View
Army Sgt. Michael Buchanan sits on the loading ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during Exercise Northern Strike 17 over Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, Mich., Aug. 2, 2017. Buchanan is a jumpmaster assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 238th General Support Aviation Regiment. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Niles Lee

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Marines, Soldiers Participate in Exercise Northern Strike (US Department of Defense).