Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Taliban Commander Boasts That 150,000 U.S. Troops Will Not Be Able To Win In Afghanistan

A captured Taliban insurgent is presented to the media after he was arrested with car explosive devices in Kabul earlier this month. A report released Tuesday by a U.S. watchdog says Taliban influence in the war-torn country has increased in recent months. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

The Guardian: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

Rare interviews with militants shine light on resilient movement that resisted both Obama’s surge and now Trump’s ‘killing terrorists’ strategy

Squatting on the floor, a brown shawl draped over his shoulders, the Taliban commander and his bodyguard swiped on their phones through attack footage edited to look like video games, with computerised crosshairs hovering over targets. “Allahu Akbar,” they said every time a government Humvee hit a landmine.

Mullah Abdul Saeed, who met the Guardian in the barren backcountry of Logar province where he leads 150 Taliban militants, has fought foreign soldiers and their Afghan allies since the US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan when he was 14. The Taliban now controls its largest territory since being forced from power, and seems to have no shortage of recruits.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is a sobering review on what 16 years of war have brought to Afghanistan .... Afghanistan: 16 years, thousands dead and no clear end in sight (CNN)

More News On The Deteriorating Situation In Afghanistan

We're Losing Afghanistan By Every Metric That Matters -- Popular Mechanics
Afghanistan security deteriorates as US takes deeper role -- Washington Times
Taliban increases influence, territory in Afghanistan: US watchdog -- Reuters
Watchdog: Kabul's Territorial Control Dips to Lowest Level -- Voice of America
Watchdog criticizes Pentagon for making data on Afghan forces classified -- The Hill
US Report on War in Afghanistan Shows Historic Losses, But Hides Death Toll Previously Made Public -- Newsweek
US Military Withholds Key Measures Of Afghan War -- NPR
Islamic Jihad Union showcases 'special forces' training camp -- Long War Journal

CBO Report: Updating And Sustaining America's Nuclear Arsenal Will Cost $1.2 Trillion Over 30 Years

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) streaks through the sky of Vandenberg in California, August 25, 2005. The U.S. test fired its second ICBM in a week on Thursday. REUTERS

New York Times: Trump Plans for Nuclear Arsenal Require $1.2 Trillion, Congressional Review States

The report from the Congressional Budget Office was an authoritative accounting of the cost of rebuilding a nuclear arsenal that relies on Cold War-era technology.

The price tag of President Trump’s vision of remaking the American nuclear arsenal soared on Tuesday as a new government estimate put the cost of a 30-year makeover at $1.2 trillion, more than 20 percent higher than earlier figures.

The rebuilding proposal includes the nation’s nuclear weapons, bombers, missiles and submarines.

The report from the Congressional Budget Office was the most authoritative accounting yet of the full cost of rebuilding an aging, potentially vulnerable nuclear arsenal that often relies on Cold War-era technology. It was published just weeks before the Pentagon is supposed to issue its first broad nuclear strategy of the Trump administration, an assessment called the Nuclear Posture Review.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who had been a skeptic about the need to preserve the nuclear force’s 400 land-based missiles, in silos across the American West, said in September that he had changed his view and now believed it was necessary to preserve them.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The CBO report can be read here .... Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046

More News On The $1.2 Trillion COst Of Updating And Sustaining America's Nuclear Arsenal Over 30 Years

CBO Says $1.2 Trillion Needed for Nuclear Weapons Overhaul -- US News and World Report/AP
US nuclear arsenal to cost $1.2tn over next 30 years, independent CBO report finds -- The Guardian
CBO: Updating, sustaining nuclear arsenal would cost $1.2T over 30 years -- The Hill
Modernizing America's nuclear arsenal would cost $1.2 trillion, CBO says -- PBS NewsHour
The $1.2 Trillion Question: Modernizing America's Nuclear Arsenal -- The National Interest Online

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis Explains How The U.S. Would Respond To A North Korean Nuclear Attack

US Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Business Insider: Mattis explains how the US would respond if North Korea launched a nuclear missile at America

* Defense Secretary James Mattis laid out the US's response to a North Korean nuclear missile attack.
* The US would try to shoot it down, and it has rehearsed its offensive response many times.
* Both Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended President Donald Trump's capability to launch a nuclear first strike without consulting Congress.

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee how the US would respond to a North Korean nuclear missile attack.

"What happens if somebody knocks on the door of the Oval Office and says, 'Mr. President, they've launched'?" Sen. Jim Risch said.

Read more ....

Update #1: Mattis: White House Could Order Nuclear Strike if North Korean Attack ‘Imminent’ (Sputnik)
Update #2: U.S. Military Has ‘Not Been Discussing’ Nuking North Korea, Mattis Says (Newsweek).

WNU Editor: Bottom line .... if a North Korean nuclear attack was imminent .... the U.S. would respond first.

Russian Foreign Minister: No Evidence That Russia Interfered In The U.S. Election In Manafort Indictment





DW: Lavrov: No evidence of Russian interference in US presidential elections

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denied evidence exists of any Russian interference in the US elections in 2016. The statement came after charges were filed in the US against former aides of the Trump campaign.

Speaking to a meeting of business leaders in Moscow, Lavrov said: "Without any evidence, as you know, we are being accused of interfering in elections not only in the US but also in European states."

The United States has been using a "pretext of a fight against a Russian threat in Washington" to muscle in on Russian business interests out of Europe. Washington was working to weaken Russia's position in the arms export and energy sectors to the benefit of the US, Lavrov added, according to Interfax news agency.

Later on Tuesday, Lavrov said Washington should investigate "the Ukrainian trace," the RIA news agencyreported. Kiev "has information" about the 2016 US presidential election," Lavrov told a news briefing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Just because George Papadopoulos was not charged with having improper communications with Russians (he was charged on lying to FBI agents when asked about his contacts in Russia)does not necessarily mean that Russia did not interfered in the U.S. election. But I will admit that it was strange to not see any reference to Russian collusion in George Papadopoulos' statement of the offense (see here). When you have a a suspect that spills the beans and gets a deal .... in his statement to the judge everything must be detailed. But in the case of George Papadopoulos .... there is nothing there. Same for Paul Manafort and his former associate Rick Gates .... the charges are focused on money laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent. There is a charge on "conspiracy against the United States" .... is that the Russian collusion part of the case .... no one knows (for now). But to the Kremlin .... they feel that they have been absolved on all allegations of U.S. election interference, and that future Robert Mueller Special Counsel cases will have nothing to do with Russia. I personally think this approach ignores what the Mueller Commission is actually doing .... which is shedding a light on how Russian money and their contacts in Washington are influencing U.S. policy .... and in my opinion .... they are influencing it a lot. As I have mentioned in previous posts .... the $145 million donation from Russians and their friends connected to the Uranium deal to the Clinton Foundation was not done out of the goodness of their hearts .... it was a business arrangement where services were paid. Same for the $500,000 speaking fee to Former President Bill Clinton when he gave an hour speech in Moscow .... Russians do not care what Mr. Clinton says (certainly not at $500,000 per hour) .... but paying $500,000 to curry a favor is understandable to them. And there are the multiple consulting/lobbying/and research firms (like Fusion GPS) in Washington with Russian connections .... I have no clue on how many of these firms and individuals have Russia and/or people linked to Russian interests .... but I do know that they are being paid a lot of money to represent them. If that is not interference .... I do not know what is. But here is the punchline .... in the U.S. it is not against the law to collude with foreign interests .... as long as you properly register who you are, pay your bills, and do not provide advice or encouragement that breaks U.S. law. IMHO .... in this regard .... the U.S. .... specifically Washington .... is a very strange place.

More News On Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Claiming That There Is No Evidence That Russia Interfered In The U.S. Election

Kremlin says Russia not accused in U.S. case against ex-Trump aides -- Reuters
'Not one piece of evidence' Russia interfered in US polls: Lavrov -- AFP
No proof of Russian interference in U.S., EU elections: Russian FM -- New China
Russian FM: Allegations of meddling in US election are ‘fantasies’ -- Politico
US should probe Manafort’s ‘Ukrainian trail’ rather than blaming Russia – Lavrov -- RT
Lavrov on Manafort Charges: Ukrainian Trace Should Be Investigated -- Sputnik

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- October 31, 2017

Saddam Hussein, Wikimedia Commons

Mark Perry, American Conservative: How Saddam Hussein Predicted America’s Failure in Iraq

One of his top generals provides a window into the former dictator's mind.

In early 1917, during World War I, British general Sir Frederick Stanley Maude led an army of sixty thousand British and Indian soldiers from Basra up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Baghdad. His enemy was a Turkish army, some twenty-five-thousand strong, defending a province of what was then a part of the decrepit Ottoman Empire. Maude was hardly a creative campaigner (his troops called him “systematic Joe”), but then his conquest of Mesopotamia wasn’t much of a fight. “The Turkish Army that was recently before us,” he reported to his superiors, “has ceased to exist as a fighting force owing to its casualties, prisoners, demoralization and the loss of a large proportion of its artillery and stores.” Maude led his army into Baghdad on a prancing horse on March 11 and then, in the finest British tradition, issued a proclamation: “We come as liberators, not occupiers,” it said. The Iraqis thought otherwise.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- October 31, 2017

America Never Understood Iraq -- Robert Ford, The Atlantic

The unseen costs of dethroning 'rocket man' -- Max Brooks, The Hill

“Everyone will become rich”: in China, the newly wealthy live in contrast with the old rural poor -- Nick Holdstock, Prospect Magazine

China's Vision of Global Leadership Takes Shape -- Jack Goldstone, RealClearWorld

Inside view of Myanmar’s Rohingya insurgency -- Carlos Sardiña Galache, Asia Times

Lithuania, Leery of Moscow, Spars With Belarus over nuclear reactor -- Reid Standish, Foreign Policy

It Seems Inconceivable That We’re Still Fighting In Afghanistan…And Yet Here We Are -- Jason Dempsey, Task & Purpose

The Catalan crisis: Is the contemporary nation-state in jeopardy? -- Patrick Lawrence, Salon

What Europe can do for the Western Balkans -- Vessela Tcherneva, ECFR

With new Wall of Grief, Russia grapples with Soviet crimes -- Julia Chapman, DW

In the new Cold War, Putin is employing Lenin’s counsel -- Kristofer Harrison, The Hill

Russia again casts a long shadow over Cuba -- Andreas Knobloch, DW

The War on Drugs: The Narco States of North America -- Earl Anthony Wayne, National Interest

OPEC who? US oil producers are moving into the Asian market -- Sri Jegarajah, CNBC

Is It Ever Really Appropriate to Use Nuclear Weapons? -- Rod Lyon, National Interest

World News Briefs -- October 31, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: Ousted Catalan leader agrees to election, summoned to Madrid court

BRUSSELS/MADRID (Reuters) - Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont agreed on Tuesday to a snap election called by Spain’s central government when it took control of the region to stop it breaking away, but he said the fight for independence would go on.

Spain’s High Court issued a summons for Puigdemont and 13 members of his sacked administration to testify in Madrid on Thursday and Friday as the court starts processing charges of rebellion, sedition and breach of trust against them.

Under Spain’s legal system, a judge will then decide whether Puigdemont should go to jail pending a comprehensive investigation and potential trial.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. General's slip spotlights US troop numbers in Syria.

Russia, Turkey and Iran agree to plan for Syria 'congress'.

Syria: Russia sees end in sight at peace talks.

Iraq 'to take control of Kurdistan border crossings'.

Tillerson: US could stay in Iraq to fight ISIS, wanted or not.

Tensions rise after Israel blows up tunnel from Gaza.

Yemen cholera: MSF closing most clinics as cases decline.

Saudi FM says Iran major obstacle to peace efforts in Yemen.

Academics flee Turkey for Germany as Erdogan targets teachers.

ASIA

U.S. welcomes China, South Korea bid to improve ties despite anti-missile dispute.

Kabul Green Zone attacked by suicide bomber.

Taliban fighters mass in western Afghan province.

Taliban warn US that hostage Kevin King is dangerously ill.

200 dead in tunnel accident at N.Korea nuclear test site: report.

China, South Korea pledge to mend ties, hold talks.

US lawmakers push for action on Myanmar atrocities.

South Koreans to protest against 'war maniac' Trump.

Marawi residents report military abuses during jihadist siege.

Japan police investigate possible serial killer in Tokyo suburb.

AFRICA

Deadly plague slowing down in Madagascar: authorities.

At least 12 killed in east Libya air strike: medical source.

Kenyan president declared winner of disputed election rerun.

Kenya's Odinga rejects 'sham' election, pledges to fight on.

Egypt says air force kills militants after attack.

US State Department issues travel warning for Niger.

Mogadishu bombings: Daytime ban on trucks to stop attacks.

South Sudan is on the brink of more chaos.

EUROPE

Britain accelerates Brexit plans, divorce talks also to speed up.

Kremlin slams reports about alleged preparations for Putin-Trump meeting as ridiculous.

Failing at home, Catalan leader takes his fight to Europe.

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to stay in Belgium for 'safety'. Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont flees to Belgium amid accusations of sedition from Spain.

Catalonia: 'Rajoy will not make concessions to anyone'.

Eurozone growth exceeds expectations.

French President Emmanuel Macron signs controversial anti-terror law.

'Not one piece of evidence' Russia interfered in US polls: Lavrov.

Vladimir Putin assassination plot suspect wounded, wife killed in attack. Vladimir Putin assassination plot: Wife of accused Chechen shot dead near Kiev.

Reformation: Four things about the 500th anniversary celebrations.

AMERICAS

Trump admin to defend Cuba embargo at UN, reversing Obama.

With first charges, Mueller sends warning to Trump, aides.

Trump calls former campaign aide who pleaded guilty a 'liar'.

White House says Trump has ‘no intention’ to fire Mueller.

Trump won't go to DMZ during S.Korea visit: White House.

US Fed to meet as Yellen era appears set to close.

Venezuela: Leading opposition parties will boycott December vote.

Canada's economy shows more signs of cooling.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Several people killed as truck drives down New York City bike path. 8 killed by New York motorist in ‘cowardly act of terror’.

Qatar agrees to crack down on terrorism financing following Mnuchin visit.

Benghazi attack: US captures man in Libya over 2012 raid.

Syrian man 'planned bomb attack' in Germany. German police arrest Syrian suspect, avert 'major terrorist attack'.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Stocks rise: S&P 500 closes seventh straight month of gains.

Facebook, Twitter, Google defend security measures.

Bitcoin digital currency smashes all-time high of $6,300.

Russia-backed Facebook posts 'reached 126m Americans' during US election.

China's Xi meets Zuckerberg, Cook in Beijing.

Terror Attack In New York City. 8 Killed, 15 Wounded



Daily Mail: Eight feared dead in terror attack after truck mows down victims on a cycle path just seven blocks from Ground Zero before being shot by police as he waved imitation firearms and screamed Allahu Akbar

* The truck rammed into cyclists and runners on the West Side Highway on Tuesday shortly after 3pm
* Driver drove south from further uptown and mounted the bike path a few blocks above Chambers Street
* He mowed down several cyclists and runners, according to police sources, then crashed into a school bus
* The driver then reportedly got out of the Home Depot truck with fake guns in his hands and was shot by police
* The suspect survived and is in hospital but it remains unclear how many he injured in his path of destruction
* He had rented the truck from Home Depot which said it was cooperating with authorities after the attack

Seven people are feared dead after a truck mounted a bicycle path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, mowing down cyclists and runners while shouting 'Allahu Akbar'.

The driver made his way from down towards Tribeca on the West Side Highway and mounted the bike path a few blocks north of Chambers Street shortly before 3pm.

After striking several cyclists and runners, he came to a stop when his truck crashed into a school bus beneath the Tribeca bridge.

The man then emerged with imitation guns in his hand and was shot in the leg by police. He survived and was taken to hospital but at least seven innocent people were killed and others are injured.

Read more ....


More News On Today's Terror Attack In New York City

The Latest: NYC mayor says 8 dead in bike path terror attack -- AP
Several people killed as truck drives down New York City bike path -- Reuters
8 killed by New York motorist in ‘cowardly act of terror’
New York City vehicle attack an 'act of terror' with at least eight dead, mayor says -- Washington Post
Truck attack in Manhattan being investigated as terrorism, sources say -- CNN
Eight people killed after terrorist shooter driving Home Depot truck rips through Lower Manhattan bike lane -- NYDaily News
8 Dead After Truck Driver Plows Through Bike Path, Into School Bus in Apparent Act of Terror: Sources -- NBC New York
Attacker in downtown NYC bloodbath shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ -- NYPost
8 dead, at least 12 injured in Manhattan terrorist attack -- RT

How Many U.S. Soldiers Are There In Syria?


Washington Post: A top U.S. general just said 4,000 American troops are in Syria. The Pentagon says there are only 500.

A senior U.S. military commander said Tuesday that 4,000 American troops are on the ground in Syria, a figure far greater than the 503 personnel the Trump administration says are deployed there.

Army Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard, who heads the U.S.-led special operations task force targeting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, offered the surprising figure while briefing Pentagon-based reporters via satellite from Baghdad.

When asked to confirm the 4,000 figure, Jarrard appeared to be caught off guard. Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman facilitating the briefing then interjected, insisting the number is just 503.

“The general misspoke,” Pahon told The Washington Post after the briefing. “I don’t know what 4,000 refers to. That’s nowhere near an accurate number.”

Read more ....

Update: General's momentary slip underscores confusion over troop totals in Syria (Washington Examiner)

WNU Editor: This blog has been following the conflict in Syria since day one .... and I have no clue on how many U.S. soldiers there are in Syria. If I was to hazard a guess before this Washington Post story .... I would have said about 2,000, of which most would consist of support staff at the few airfields that the U.S. military operates with the Kurds.

Backed By Iran Damascus Is Now Setting Its Sights On Territory Held by Kurdish-Led Forces In Eastern Syria

SDF forces in Raqqa city on October 17. Photo courtesy of Euphrates Wrath.

Reuters: Assad sets sights on Kurdish areas, risking new Syria conflict

BEIRUT (Reuters) - With Islamic State near defeat in Syria, Damascus is setting its sights on territory held by Kurdish-led forces including eastern oil fields, risking a new confrontation that could draw the United States in more deeply and complicate Russian diplomacy.

President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian allies appear to have been emboldened by events in Iraq, where Kurdish authorities have suffered a major blow since regional states mobilised against their independence referendum, analysts say.

Rivalry between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by the United States, and the Syrian government backed by Iran and Russia is emerging as a fault line with their common enemy - Islamic State - close to collapse in Syria.

Syria’s main Kurdish groups hope for a new phase of negotiations that will shore up their autonomy in northern Syria. Assad’s government, however, is asserting its claim to areas captured by the SDF from the jihadist group, known in Arabic by its enemies as Daesh, in more forceful terms.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The SDF (Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces) are already setting their terms .... After victories against Islamic State, SDF redefines its role (Syria Direct). The Russians are also trying to defuse the situation .... Russia invites Syrian Kurds to people's congress: Kurdish official (Reuters). But the quick defeat of Kurdish forces in Iraq must be emboldening both Syria and Iran that they could do the same thing in Syria. I say this is a mistake. In Iraq, the Baghdad government was (and is) more important to U.S. long term strategic interests than the Iraqi Kurds .... hence the U.S. stayed quiet. But in Syria the dynamics is different, starting with the simple fact that both Syria and Iran are not allies of the U.S. while the Syrian Kurds have proven to be very reliable and loyal to U.S. interests. The key is Russia, and do they have the influence to temper the desire of both the Syrian government and Iran to start another war. My gut says yes .... and we should know the answer in the coming months.

Iran Boasts That It Can Already Hit All U.S. Bases In The Middle East

A view of an underground depot where missiles are launched, in an undisclosed location, Iran, in a photo released by the official website of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in March 2016. REUTERS/sepahnews.com

Reuters: Iran says no need to increase missile range as can already hit U.S. forces

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran has no need to increase the range of its ballistic missiles as they could already reach U.S. forces stationed in the region, the head of the Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday.

As U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to impose new sanctions against Iran’s missile program, Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari said “sanctions would only increase number of Iranian missiles, and their precision”.

Trump this month refused to certify Tehran’s compliance with a deal struck with world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting most international sanctions.

The House of Representatives voted last week for new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and Trump has urged U.S. allies to join Washington in taking strong action to curb “Iran’s continued dangerous and destabilizing behavior”, including sanctions targeting its missile development.

Read more ....

More News On Iran's Missile Program

IRGC Top Commander: Americans within Range of Iranian Missiles -- Fars News Agency (Iran)
Iran Able to Extend Range of Missile Beyond 2,000 km: IRGC Chief -- Tasnim News Agency (Iran)
Iran says supreme leader limiting ballistic missile range -- AP
Iran Threatens Ballistic Missile Strikes on American Forces, Can Hit ‘All U.S. Bases’ -- Washington Free Beacon
Iran: No need to extend 2000km ballistic missile range -- Al Jazeera

Why Did The Hillary Clinton Campaign Use GPS Fusion With Putin-Linked Clients To Dig Up Dirt On Donald Trump?


Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post: Clinton’s link to Putin is the underreported ‘dossier’ bombshell

The news that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for research used in the discredited Trump-Russia “dossier” is a bombshell. But even more shocking — and overlooked — is the revelation that the firm the Clinton campaign hired to compile that dossier, Fusion GPS, is the same firm that has been accused in recent congressional testimony of launching a smear campaign in Washington against Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who was tortured and killed in a Russian prison in 2009 after uncovering a $230 million tax theft by 23 Kremlin-linked companies and individuals close to President Vladimir Putin.

Which raises the question no one seems to be asking: Why was Hillary Clinton using an opposition research company with Putin-linked clients to dig up dirt on Donald Trump?

The claimed link that was identified in congressional testimony has its roots in the Putin regime’s lobbying for the repeal of the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which froze assets and banned visas for Russians involved in or benefiting from Magnitsky’s murder, as well as for others involved in torture, extrajudicial killings or abuses against those seeking to promote human rights or expose illegal activity by Russian officials. So far, some 35 Putin cronies have been sanctioned under the act, infuriating the Russian president.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Some good points from Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post .... why did the Clinton campaign team decide to use and pay a firm with Kremlin ties to dig up dirt on Donald Trump? So far .... no one has given an answer.

Chechen Fighter Accused Of Plotting To Kill Putin Is Wounded And Wife Killed In Kiev Attack

Amina Okuyeva was killed and her husband Adam Osmayev wounded in Kiev. (Twitter: @Hromadske)

The Guardian: Man accused of plotting to kill Putin injured and wife killed in Ukraine attack

Husband-and-wife team fought as volunteers alongside Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed insurgents in the east of the war-scarred country

A Chechen volunteer soldier previously accused of plotting to kill Vladimir Putin has been wounded and his wife killed when their car was attacked near Kiev.

Amina Okuyeva died and her husband Adam Osmayev was injured when their car was hit by a hail of bullets while crossing a railroad track, said Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko. The apparent assassination of Okuyeva is the latest involving high-profile figures in Ukraine who are opposed to Russia.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There was a previous assassination attempt on this couple and the attacker was captured .... a Chechen criminal (probably hired by someone). This attack was more intense .... so I have to assume that it was the same group that wanted this couple dead a few months ago. As to who ordered the hit .... one can speculate all that they may want, but this has all the appearance of a Chechen - Chechen fight with one group opposing Russia, and the other group supporting it.

More News On The Recent Assassination attack In Kiev

Man accused of Putin murder plot ambushed with wife in Kiev -- CBS/AP
Ambush wounds 'anti-Putin plotter' and kills wife near Kiev -- BBC
Vladimir Putin assassination plot suspect wounded, wife killed in attack -- DW
Vladimir Putin assassination plot: Wife of accused Chechen shot dead near Kiev -- ABC News Online
Putin Critic Who Fought Pro-Russia Rebels Shot Dead in Ukraine -- New York Times

JFK Files: Pentagon Estimated They Would Need 261,000 Troops And Between 10 To 15 Days To Invade Cuba



USA Today: U.S. planned a 261,000-troop invasion force of Cuba, newly released documents show

WASHINGTON — U.S. military planners estimated they would need 261,000 troops and between 10 to 15 days to invade Cuba, oust its dictator, Fidel Castro, and take control of the country, an Aug. 8, 1962, memo for the John F. Kennedy administration shows.

"In order to seize control of key strategic areas in Cuba within 10-15 days with minimum casualties to both sides about 261,000 US military personnel would participate in the operation," said the memo addressed to the "Special Group" developing plans to remove Castro.

The memo was one of almost 2,900 files released Thursday by the National Archives as part of the final disclosure of files collected in the investigation of Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Not surprised that there was a plan to invade Cuba .... I am sure there is a modern version on the shelf right now. What is interesting is that this file was in the JFK assassination files, and not elsewhere.

Catalan Independence Leaders Flee To Belgium As Spain Seeks Sedition Charges Against Them



DW: Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to stay in Belgium for 'safety'

The ex-Catalan leader said he traveled to Brussels because he can act there in "freedom and safety" as Spanish prosecutors seek sedition charges against him. He accused Madrid of undermining "our political project."

Catalonia's former President Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday said he will return to Spain if he received certain guarantees, noting that he left to Brussels because it is the capital of Europe where he can act in "freedom and safety" and not to specifically apply for asylum.

"The situation is developing every day. Here we have better guarantees for our rights and we can meet our obligations from here," Puigdemont said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Support for Catalan independence is now at a three year high .... Support for an independent Catalonia rises to three-year high: poll (Reuters)

More News On Catalan Independence Leaders Fleeing To Belgium

The Latest: Nationalist group backs Puigdemont in Brussels -- AP
Catalan leader says he is seeking safety outside Spain -- AP
Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont flees to Belgium amid accusations of sedition from Spain -- ABC News Online
Catalan leaders facing rebellion charges flee to Belgium -- The Guardian
Catalan independence: Sacked leader Puigdemont 'not seeking asylum' -- BBC
Catalonia crisis: Ousted Catalan leader accepts new elections, not seeking asylum in Belgium -- ABC News Online
Catalonia's ex-president Puigdemont: I'm not in Belgium to seek asylum -- The Guardian
Ousted Catalan leader accepts new election, says 'long road' to independence -- Reuters
Belgium PM says did not invite ousted Catalan leader to Brussels -- Reuters
Catalonia: 'Rajoy will not make concessions to anyone' -- DW

World News Briefs -- October 31, 2017



Reuters: Blast in Afghan capital causes numerous casualties

KABUL (Reuters) - A blast in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday caused numerous casualties, Reuters witnesses and Afghan officials said.

A Reuters television team saw at least eight people who appeared to have been killed, besides several wounded at the explosion site in the city’s Wazir Akbar Khan area.

A public health official said three dead bodies and 10 wounded had been taken to city hospitals.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria: Russia sees end in sight at peace talks.

Iraq 'to take control of Kurdistan border crossings'.

Tillerson: US could stay in Iraq to fight ISIS, wanted or not.

Tensions rise after Israel blows up tunnel from Gaza.

Yemen cholera: MSF closing most clinics as cases decline.

Saudi FM says Iran major obstacle to peace efforts in Yemen.

Academics flee Turkey for Germany as Erdogan targets teachers.

ASIA

Kabul Green Zone attacked by suicide bomber.

Taliban fighters mass in western Afghan province.

Taliban warn US that hostage Kevin King is dangerously ill.

200 dead in tunnel accident at N.Korea nuclear test site: report.

China, South Korea pledge to mend ties, hold talks.

US lawmakers push for action on Myanmar atrocities.

South Koreans to protest against 'war maniac' Trump.

Marawi residents report military abuses during jihadist siege.

Japan police investigate possible serial killer in Tokyo suburb.

AFRICA

At least 12 killed in east Libya air strike: medical source.

Kenyan president declared winner of disputed election rerun.

Kenya's Odinga rejects 'sham' election, pledges to fight on.

Egypt says air force kills militants after attack.

US State Department issues travel warning for Niger.

Mogadishu bombings: Daytime ban on trucks to stop attacks.

South Sudan is on the brink of more chaos.

EUROPE

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to stay in Belgium for 'safety'. Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont flees to Belgium amid accusations of sedition from Spain.

Catalonia: 'Rajoy will not make concessions to anyone'.

Eurozone growth exceeds expectations.

French President Emmanuel Macron signs controversial anti-terror law.

'Not one piece of evidence' Russia interfered in US polls: Lavrov.

Vladimir Putin assassination plot suspect wounded, wife killed in attack. Vladimir Putin assassination plot: Wife of accused Chechen shot dead near Kiev.

Reformation: Four things about the 500th anniversary celebrations.

AMERICAS

With first charges, Mueller sends warning to Trump, aides.

Trump calls former campaign aide who pleaded guilty a 'liar'.

White House says Trump has ‘no intention’ to fire Mueller.

Trump won't go to DMZ during S.Korea visit: White House.

US Fed to meet as Yellen era appears set to close.

Venezuela: Leading opposition parties will boycott December vote.

Canada's economy shows more signs of cooling.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Qatar agrees to crack down on terrorism financing following Mnuchin visit.

Benghazi attack: US captures man in Libya over 2012 raid.

Syrian man 'planned bomb attack' in Germany. German police arrest Syrian suspect, avert 'major terrorist attack'.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Bitcoin digital currency smashes all-time high of $6,300.

Russia-backed Facebook posts 'reached 126m Americans' during US election.

China's Xi meets Zuckerberg, Cook in Beijing.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- October 31, 2017

Courtesy Alert 5

South China Morning Post: China tests new spy drones in near space ‘death zone’

High-altitude unmanned vehicles tasked with military intelligence gathering can fit inside a shoebox and cost just a few hundred yuan

High-altitude spy drones could help China dominate “near space” – a region of the Earth’s atmosphere that is at the heart of a modern-day space race.

Near space, which begins at about 20km above sea level, has until now been regarded a “death zone” for drones – thin air at this altitude makes it hard to generate lift, while extremely low temperatures mean electronic components like batteries are prone to fail.

However, a new type of Chinese-developed drone that is undergoing testing appears to have overcome such difficulties, marking a significant step towards China’s ambitions of exploiting near space for purposes of military intelligence.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- October 31, 2017

China's First 5th Generation Fighter Moves Into Serial Production -- The Diplomat

With all eyes on North Korea, Beijing looks ready to deploy fighter jets in the South China Sea -- Business Insider

Australian universities are helping China's military surpass the United States -- Sydney Morning Herald

Taiwan leader promises to raise defence spending as she praises ‘unprecedented’ friendship with United States -- SCMP

S. Korea not mulling any more THAAD deployments: foreign minister -- Yonhap News Agency

Lull in South China Sea tensions brings joint Asean-China naval drill closer -- South China Morning Post

Japanese 'marines' eyed for Okinawa mission -- Asahi Shimbun

India, Japan begin anti-submarine warfare exercise -- Economic Times

Why Japan's New Military Aircraft Gift to the Philippines Matters -- The Diplomat

Japanese expert: Military alliance with US remains the only option for Japan -- The Hankyoreh

US, Japan seen teaming on military tech more closely: panel -- Nikkei Asian Review

Why Did Putin Launch 4 ICBMs? Because He Can, Czech General Says -- Defense Tech

Why Russia's New 'Stealth' Submarines Have a Big Problem -- National Interest

Iranian Air Force Holds Massive Drills Protecting Nuclear Facilities -- AP

French senator demands public inquiry into Microsoft military deal -- The Register

North Korea threat of above-ground bomb test serious, US says -- Defense News

New $400m army to fight human traffickers and terrorists faces UN moment of truth -- The Guardian

Afghan War Data, Once Public, Is Censored in US Military Report -- New York Times

Pentagon responds to GAO F-35 sustainment report -- Inside Defense

Marines to get Star Trek phaser-like device for nonlethal weapon option -- Marine Times

Mattis: Soldiers killed in Niger not part of anti-terror authorization -- The Hill

Mattis, Tillerson: No authority for military action in North Korea outside 'imminent threat' -- The Hill

Mattis Gives Guarded OK to New Military Force Authorization -- DoD BUzz

Mattis, Tillerson tell Congress new war authorization should have no time, geographic constraints -- The Hill

Niger attack reignites debate over military authorization: What to know about AUMF -- FOX News

Court partially blocks Trump's transgender military ban -- The Hill

The U.S. F-35 versus the PRC J-20 -- Mark B. Schneider, RCD

Kelly: I'll 'never' apologize to Dem lawmaker over Gold Star phone call -- The Hill

Danger's of Buying the Next ICBM From the Lowest Bidder -- Loren Thompson, Forbes

The Video Game That Could Shape the Future of War -- Adin Dobkin, The Atlantic

China Warns U.S. To Stay Out Of South China Sea Talks



Reuters: Beijing seen poised for fresh South China Sea assertiveness

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - China has quietly undertaken more construction and reclamation in the South China Sea, recent satellite images show, and is likely to more powerfully reassert its claims over the waterway soon, regional diplomats and military officers say.

With global attention focused on North Korea and Beijing engrossed in its Party Congress, tensions in the South China Sea have slipped from the headlines in recent months.

But with none of the underlying disputes resolved and new images reviewed by Reuters showing China continuing to develop facilities on North and Tree islands in the contested Paracel islands, experts say the vital trade route remains a global flashpoint.

Read more ....

More News On China Warning The U.S. To Stay Out Of South China Sea

China to US: Stay out of South China Sea talks -- AP
China to US: Mind your own business on South China Sea disputes -- Stars and Stripes
Beijing seen poised for fresh South China Sea assertiveness -- Reuters
Beijing warns US against trying to contain China’s rise -- Financial Times
Why China Never Draws A Boundary Line Around Its Claim To The South China Sea -- Forbes
Risk of US-China showdown hangs over South China Sea -- Global Risk Insights

China Conducts Practiced Bombing Runs Targeting Guam



Defense News: China has practiced bombing runs targeting Guam, US says

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — China has practiced bombing runs targeting the U.S. territory of Guam, one of a host of activities making U.S. forces here consider Beijing the most worrisome potential threat in the Pacific, even as North Korea pursues a nuclear warhead.

Beyond the well-publicized military build up on man-made islands in the South China Sea, China has built up its fleet of fighters to the extent that it operates a daily, aggressive campaign to contest airspace over the East China Sea, South China Sea and beyond, U.S. military officials in the region said. China has also taken several other non-military steps that are viewed as attempts to make it much more difficult for the U.S. to operate there and defend allies in the future.

The officials described the escalatory behaviors by China in a briefing they provided to reporters traveling with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Read more ....

Update: China is said to have practiced bombing attacks against Guam (CNBC)

WNU Editor: China practices bombing many targets .... Guam included. The focus on Guam is also not a surprise. U.S. bases at Okinawa/Japan/South Korea are important .... but in any major conflict Guam will be critical in supplying these bases .... hence the big target from countries like China and North Korea.

Japanese Media: North Korea Nuclear Tunnel Collapse Has Killed Hundreds Of Workers. Massive Radiation Leak Being Reported



Daily Mail: At least 200 people killed after tunnel collapses at North Korean nuclear test site, claims Japanese media

* Japanese media report says 200 have been killed at North Korean nuke test site
* Up to 100 were said to have been trapped before a second collapse took place
* Unverified report claims North's sixth nuclear test had weakened the ground near the tunnels

At least 200 people have been killed at a nuclear test site in North Korea after a tunnel collapsed, according to an unverified Japanese media report.

The collapse is said to have taken place during the construction of a new underground facility at the Punggye-ri site in northeastern North Korea on October 10, the report says.

But there has been no official confirmation of the claims, apparently made by an unnamed North Korean 'source'.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are also reports of a massive radioactive leak in the area.

More News On Reports That A North Korea Nuclear Tunnel Collapse Has Killed Hundreds Of Workers

Tunnel collapse may have killed 200 after N.Korea nuclear test - Japanese broadcaster -- Reuters
Up to 200 killed at North Korea's nuclear test site: report -- USA Today
As many as 200 N. Koreans killed in tunnel collapse at nuclear test site: report -- Korea Herald
Hundreds killed at North Korean nuclear base -- NEWS.com.au
'Hundreds die' as tunnel collapses at North Korean nuclear site -- Yahoo News
200 dead in tunnel accident at N Korea nuclear test site: report -- News24
North Korean tunnel at nuclear test site collapses with as many as 200 workers killed, Japanese media report -- Independent
North Korea Nuclear Site Tunnel Collapses, Amid Reports As Many As 200 People Killed -- HuffPost UK
200 N Koreans killed at nuclear test site collapse – Japanese media (VIDEO) -- RT

China And South Korea Have Reset Their Relationship

Reuters: China, South Korea agree to mend ties after THAAD standoff

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) - Seoul and Beijing on Tuesday agreed to move beyond a year-long stand-off over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea, a dispute that has been devastating to South Korean businesses that rely on Chinese consumers.

The unexpected detente comes just days before U.S. President Donald Trump begins a trip to Asia, where the North Korean nuclear crisis will take center stage, and helped propel South Korean stocks to a record high.

The installation of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system had angered China, with South Korea’s tourism, cosmetics and entertainment industries bearing the brunt of a Chinese backlash, although Beijing has never specifically linked that to the THAAD deployment.

Beijing worries the THAAD system’s powerful radar can penetrate into Chinese territory.

Read more ....

Update: South Korea and China End Dispute Over Missile Defense System -- New York Times

WNU Editor: I am not surprised that this rapprochement is occurring only after the Chinese Party Congress ended last week. South Korea is not the problem .... the problem is North Korea .... but because of internal politics Chinese President Xi felt constrained. That constraint is now gone. Expect more changes in Chinese foreign policy in the coming weeks.

Three-Year Jail Terms Proposed In China For Disrespecting National Anthem And Flag



Reuters: China considers three-year jail terms for disrespecting national anthem, flag

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament is considering jail terms of up to three years for people who disrespect the national anthem or flag in public, while an existing anthem law will be applied in Hong Kong, state media said on Tuesday.

Xi Jinping has ushered in new legislation aimed at securing China from threats both within and outside its borders since taking over as president in 2013, as well as presiding over a sweeping crackdown on dissent and free speech.

China passed a new law in September mandating up to 15 days in police detention for those who mock the “March of the Volunteers” national anthem, a law that also covers the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Parliament is now looking at whether to amend China’s Criminal Law to include criminal penalties for disrespect of the national anthem, including intentionally distorting the lyrics or tune, Xinhua said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Not everyone loves Communist rule in China .... and that resentment has always targeted Chinese Communist symbols like the flag and monuments. Is it a big problem .... no (unless you are in the rebellious West of the country or in Tibet) .... but it is a reflection on how insecure Beijing feels when it comes to dissent .... a sentiment that they have had for a very long time.

Another Record Opium Crop In Afghanistan

An Afghan policeman destroys poppies during a campaign against narcotics in Kunar province, April 29, 2014. Parwiz Parwiz/REUTERS

Business Insider: Heroin is driving a sinister trend in Afghanistan

* Afghanistan looks set for another year of record opium production in 2017, maintaining its role as the world's biggest producer.
* As opium production has grown, the Taliban has assumed a bigger role in it, deriving much of its income from the drug trade.
* As the Taliban relies more and more on drugs, many of its fighters are less likely to accept reconciliation with the US-backed government.

Afghanistan has long been one of the world's biggest producers of opium, which is used to make heroin, and the Taliban has made a lucrative business from taxing and providing security to producers and smugglers in the region.

But the militant group has expanded its role in that drug trade considerably, boosting its profits at a time when it is making decisive gains against the Afghan government and its US backers.

According to a New York Times report, the Taliban has gotten involved in every stage of the drug business. Afghan police and their US advisers find heroin-refining labs with increasingly frequency, but the labs are easy to replace.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are many factors on why Afghanistan is consumed by conflict. But if it was not for the drugs, the war in Afghanistan would probably be a lot more smaller (if not gone) than what it is today.

Washington Is Awash With Russian Money



WNU Editor: In the past year I have mentioned a few times about Russian money in New York City, and how it plays a big role in financing real-estate projects .... including (and I would not be surprised) projects that probably involved President Trump. Is that illegal .... no ... as long as New York laws and rules are followed. But that is New York City. In Washington  .... the story is very different .... and after today's events the public is now quickly learning how lobbyists like Paul Manafort and Tony Podesta made their money while promoting Russian-Ukrainian and Russian interests in Washington. But what is really freaking out everyone .... and justifiably so .... is how well paid they were to do just that. The sad fact is that Washington is awash with Russian money .... and as we learned when the Clinton Foundation got $145 million in cash as a "donation" .... everyone's hand is in it. But as bad as this Russian money is .... and it is bad .....the Russians are not the only ones who have money in Washington .... you can add a whole bunch of other countries .... and China is on the top of my list. As for the Mueller Commission .... I could be wrong (and I hope that I am not) but I think this is what Robert Mueller wants to do .... to expose how lobbyists that are employed by foreign governments  work in Washington .... and to prosecute those who break the law. This is not Russian-election collusion .... this is something far more deeper .... this is how people are bought in Washington .... and this is how this city works. 

Tweets For Today




Video Of The Day



RT: Russia showcases Su-30SM fighter jet in breathtaking action VIDEO

The Russian Defense Ministry has published a video showcasing the capabilities of the Sukhoi Su-30SM, an advanced multipurpose fighter jet. The Sukhoi aircraft are shown in detail performing aerobatics maneuvers and deploying weapons.

The highly-maneuverable generation 4+ warplane is the modern variant of the design equipped with thrust-vectoring engines. It was based on the Su-30MKI, the version made by Russia for the Indian Air Force. The SM version made its maiden flight in 2012.

Read more ....

Picture Of The Day

Falcon Feat
F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the Thunderbirds, the Air Force flight demonstration team, perform during the Thunder Over South Georgia air show at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Oct. 28, 2017. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... 'Thunder Over South Georgia' Air Show Soars (DoD).