Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Germany Admits That Their Foreign And Defense Ministries Have Been Hit By Russian Hackers

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

DW: Germany admits Russian hackers infiltrated foreign and defense ministries

German security services have admitted they uncovered a Russian cyberattack on the foreign and defense ministries in December. Sources say the malware had been planted up to a year earlier.

The German government admitted on Wednesday that the foreign and defense ministries had been infiltrated by Russian hacking group APT28.

Citing anonymous sources, the German news agency dpa reported the group likely placed a piece of malware in a key government network. The malware could have remained in the government's networks for as long as a year, security officials said.

Read more ....


More News On Germany Admiting That Their Foreign And Defense Ministries Have Been Hit By Russian Hackers

Russian hacking group Fancy Bear may have spyed on Germany's government -- Business Insider
German Government Computers Hacked; Reports Point To Russian Group -- Radio Free Europe
Germany says its government computers secure after 'isolated' hack -- Reuters
Fancy Bears Allegedly Attack Servers of German Government - Reports -- Sputnik International

New Russian Battle Tank Tactics Revealed (VIDEO)



Sputnik: Tank Tag: New Russian Battle Tactics Revealed (VIDEO)

Russia’s Ministry of Defense has published a video showing brand new tank tactics filmed at the Pogonovo proving grounds.

An all new tactic was rehearsed during military drills at Pogonovo proving grounds near the Russian city of Voronezh, in which battalion and division commanders of the Western Military district took part.

"The special feature of this military exercise was a unique method of hitting targets at distances of up to 12 kilometers," said Timur Trubienko, army vice commander.

The new tactics involve tanks posing as artillery and shooting from behind cover. Usually, tanks shoot only within their range of sight — but this time, they received intel from Orlan drones.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Can't tell much from the video .... but it is still cool to see the tanks fire their cannons.

Four Years After The Revolution Ukraine Is Still Suffering

Freedom Square in Kiev, Ukraine. The photograph compares 2009 to 2014

Nolan Peterson, The Daily Signal: 4 Years After the Revolution, Ukraine Still Battles Corruption and Russian Aggression

KYIV, Ukraine—Four years ago this week, central Kyiv resembled a quieted urban battlefield.

Ukraine’s capital city was, at that time, reeling from months of street protests and a revolution in which nearly 130 people died. The city’s central square, the Maidan, was left a charred ruin, still brimming with protester encampments and ad hoc defensive barricades.

Months earlier, in November 2013, protesters first took to the Maidan to oppose a last-minute decision by Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych to ditch a trade deal with the European Union in favor of one with Russia.

Yet, when Yanukovych—a Kremlin lackey—launched a brutal police crackdown on the protesters, those pro-European street protests boiled over into a revolution calling for the then-president’s ouster.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is hard to believe that four years has already passed. When I ask my friends and family in Ukraine that knowing what everyone knows now .... would they have supported the revolution (and many of my friends and family did .... including my cousin's daughter who was at the barricades) .... almost all of them say no. As for my cousin's daughter .... she now lives in Miami.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 28, 2018



Nadana Fridrikhson, National Interest: Will the Syria Conflict Continue to Escalate?

Moscow, Washington, Tehran and Ankara are all jockeying for power.

In early February, western media reported that the United States had led a strike on the Russian mercenaries of Wagner PMC. The number of casualties was constantly changing; Bloomberg News reported hundreds, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced a smaller number and noted that “Russian citizens” were injured.

Clearly, the battle was for oil and gas resources in the Deir-ez Zor region, which were not supposed to fall into the hands of the opposition and the Kurds in particular; this flows from the logic of restoring Syria under President Assad. Iran and Russia specifically are holding this position. This reasoning is understandable—the leadership of whoever controls these resources will set the tone for negotiations.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 28, 2018

‘Ambassador Samantha Power Lied to My Face About Syria,’ by Kassem Eid -- Tony Badran, Tablet

Xi Sets China on a Collision Course With History -- Max Fisher, New York Times

What keeping Xi in power means for China – and the world -- Peter Marino, Reuters

7 things you need to know about lifting term limits for Xi Jinping -- Jeffrey A. Bader, Brookings

Philippine Troops to China? -- Malcolm Cook, The Interpreter

How China Plans to Leverage Its Relationship with Japan -- Stephen Nagy, National Interest

China-South Korea Relations: A Delicate D├ętente -- Kristian McGuire, The Diplomat

Don't Let the Olympic Truce End -- Fu Ying, Bloomberg

The Brexit Talks Are Going in Circles -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

The real reason to worry about Italy’s election -- Paul Wallace, Reuters

Showdown over drilling vessel off Cyprus could spur more talks -- Jonathan Gorvett, Asia Times

4 Years After the Revolution, Ukraine Still Battles Corruption and Russian Aggression -- Nolan Peterson, Daily Signal

Facebook Could Do a Lot More on Trump-Russia -- Cathy O'Neil, Bloomberg

Jared Kushner, Easy Mark -- Timothy L. O'Brien, Bloomberg

AI Experts List the Real Dangers of Artificial Intelligence -- Dave Gershgorn, Defense One/NextGov

World News Briefs -- February 28, 2018 (Evening Edition)

Russian and Syrian soldiers are seen outside eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Reuters: Syrian government ground forces attack Ghouta despite Russian truce plan

Syrian government forces launched a ground assault on the edge of the rebel-held eastern Ghouta enclave on Wednesday, seeking to gain territory despite a Russian plan for five-hour daily ceasefires, a war monitor and sources on both sides said.

Hundreds of people have died in 11 days of bombing of the eastern Ghouta, a swathe of towns and farms outside Damascus that is the last major rebel-controlled area near the capital.

The onslaught has been one of the fiercest of Syria’s civil war, now entering its eighth year.

The U.N. Security Council, including President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally Russia, passed a resolution on Saturday calling for a 30-day countrywide ceasefire. But the measure has not taken effect, with Moscow and Damascus saying they are battling members of terrorist groups excluded from the truce.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Aid convoy blocked in Syria despite UN ceasefire order: official.

In Syria's Ghouta, rescuers keep finding bodies.

Syrian forces gain ground in Eastern Ghouta despite truce.

Second Russia truce attempt in Eastern Ghouta comes into effect.

Thousands of well-armed rebel fighters are in Syria’s Ghouta.

Saudi crown prince to visit Washington on March 19.

Lebanon's Hariri in Riyadh to meet King Salman, Crown Prince MBS.

Despite outcry, Iranian minister addresses UN rights body.

Israel to eliminate use of coal, gasoline, diesel by 2030.

ASIA

Suicide and gun attacks kill six in SW Pakistan: officials.

India's economic growth rises to 7.2%.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offers Taliban peace talks and political recognition.

China's Communist Party agrees on government reform, but no details.

N Korea 'providing materials for Syria chemical weapons'. North Korea sent Syria missile and chemical weapon items, says UN report.

Expert: Delayed war games between U.S. and South Korea to take place early April.

Indonesian Parliament passes controversial law targeting its critics, anti-corruption commission.

Rights groups accuse Bangladesh army of covering up sex assault.

Papua New Guinea: at least 16 dead after strongest ever earthquake hits.

AFRICA

Four UN troops killed in central Mali mine blast.

Cameroon deploys special forces in separatist regions.

Exclusive: CAR violence divides communities in Bria.

Nigeria orders ‘all schools’ defended in Boko Haram region.

Egyptians facing soaring prices not seeing fruit of reforms.

Egypt train collision kills 15: health ministry.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor wants close monitoring of the media.

Italy, China propose solution to Lake Chad's water problem.

EUROPE

EU, U.S. officials plan Berlin talks on Iran nuclear deal: source.

Italy's 5-Star presents would-be cabinet team ahead of election.

EU's Michel Barnier reveals draft Brexit treaty.

Theresa May rejects EU's draft option for Northern Ireland.

Cyprus: Turkey’s gas search blockade prevents peace talks.

Russia reinstated into Olympic movement after doping scandal.

Slovak leader offers a $1.2 million reward for information in case of murdered journalist.

Food bank gives access cards to Germans only, despite uproar.

Kosovo: Top war crimes prosecutor forced to leave amid US state department inertia.

Europe freezes as 'Beast from the East' arrives. 'Beast from the East' kills two in Romania as freeze hits Europe. Now snow causes chaos in SPAIN while 24 are killed in Arctic conditions sweeping Europe.

AMERICAS

New York regulator asks Deutsche, other banks about Kushner loans: source.

US growth in Q4 revised down a notch.

Students in emotional return to Florida high school.

Ex-Trump top aide Manafort pleads not guilty, faces Sept. 17 trial.

Jared Kushner: security clearance change ends direct access to top secret intelligence.

ICE announces more than 150 people arrested in San Francisco area.

Thousands of Venezuelans cross into Brazil to flee crisis.

Challenger to Venezuelan President Maduro steps forward.

Five Colombian soldiers killed in 'ELN rebel ambush.

Brazil called up the military to control violence in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, it's only gotten worse. Rio military deployment stirs controversy in Brazil.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

US warns law enforcement partners of spreading IS threat.

State Department designates 7 ISIS-affiliated groups as terrorist organizations.

A new strand of Islamist extremism in Pakistan.

Lebanon's Hezbollah launches Syria war video game.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street slides late; S&P 500 caps worst month since Jan 2016.

Apple back on track to become first $1 trillion company.

Bitcoin 'creator' slammed with $5 billion lawsuit.

iQiyi: 'China's Netflix' to list on US stock market.

$1bn painting 'only matter of time' as art prices surge.

The World's Migrant Crisis Is Going To Get Worse



David P. Goldman, PJ Media: A Tidal Wave of Refugees Is Coming

Harden your hearts.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 68 million people around the world are or at risk of becoming refugees. The migration of a few million people has already turned the European Union inside out and motivated the election of an America-first presidency. What we have seen so far, though, is nothing compared to what is to come.

Fertility is declining in almost all the educated and prosperous parts of the world, notably including East Asia. But it remains extremely high in the least-educated parts of the world with the worst governance and the poorest growth prospects.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Long term readers of this blog know that I have been predicting this wave of refugees/migrants for years. High birth countries in Africa and Asia do not have the infrastructure to support these huge populations .... and coupled with their own dire political and economic problems, many who live in these countries simply want to go somewhere else. The problem is that First World nations are not built to accommodate huge influxes of migrants, and there is almost no political support within these countries to accommodate the tens of millions who are looking for a new home. So what will happen in the end .... expect borders to be more enforced, and migrants (unless they are skilled) to be told to go somewhere else.

China's Censors Are Hard At Work



The Guardian: Ce*sored! China bans letter N (briefly) from internet as Xi Jinping extends grip on power

Amid fallout from the decision to allow Xi to be president for life, censors also crack down on letters, phrases and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

It is the 14th letter in the English alphabet and, in Scrabble, the springboard for more than 600 8-letter words.

But for the Communist party of China it is also a subversive and intolerable character that was this week banished from the internet as Chinese censors battled to silence criticism of Xi Jinping’s bid to set himself up as ruler for life.

The contravening consonant was perhaps the most unusual victim of a crackdown targeting words, phrases and even solitary letters censors feared might be used to attack Beijing’s controversial decision to abolish constitutional term limits for China’s president.

The Communist party has painted the move - which experts say paves the way for Xi to become a dictator for life - as an expression of overwhelming popular support for China’s strongman leader. However, there has been widespread online push-back in China since it was announced on Sunday on the eve of an annual political congress in Beijing.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Someone pointed out to me a few days ago that WNU is blocked in China. Yes it is .... WNU is hosted on the Blogger platform (which is part of Google), and the platform itself is banned in China. For those who want to check on who is being censored/banned in China, go to this link here.

Is China Accepting A 'Strongman' To Rule Over Them?

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)

Phillip Orchard, Geopolitical Futures: China: Herding Rivals and Rhinos

Socio-economic and political factors fuel Xi’s quest for power.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a string of moves over the weekend that reflect the extraordinary power he’s wielding from atop the Chinese system – but also the threats to both his position and his country that are keeping him up at night.

On Feb. 23, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party proposed that the rule limiting the president and vice president to two terms be removed from the Chinese Constitution at next week’s National People’s Congress. The proposal is certain to be implemented. On the surface, the move confirms what we already knew: Xi has no intention of sticking with recent precedent and stepping down when his second term ends five years from now. This was made abundantly clear at the epochal 19th Party Congress last fall, when “Xi Jinping Thought” was added to the party constitution. There, Xi declined to name a successor to replace him as party secretary in 2021. Xi’s intentions have been further underscored by a string of high-profile anti-graft purges of rising stars (generally from rival factions) seen as potential challengers to Xi.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The overwhelming response among all of my Chinese friends and contacts on President Xi's move to consolidate his rule is negative. When you position yourself to rule against the will of the people .... the end is never good .... even in China. And while President Xi does have control of the government .... I can easily see the day that if economic times get tough and/or an international incident puts China in a disadvantageous position .... his control may not be as solidified as he may think it is. But for now he is the President and ruler of China .... whether you like it or not .... and this is something that the Chinese in the end will need to resolve by themselves.

U.S. Views On China Is Shifting As Chinese President Xi Moves To Stay In Power Indefinitely

The People's Republic of China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly along Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol in Washington during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit, January 18, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

New York Times: As Xi Tightens His Grip on China, U.S. Sees Conflict Ahead

WASHINGTON — A few weeks after Stephen K. Bannon left the White House in August, he was invited to a dinner at the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss American policy toward China. With his unbridled China bashing and dark talk of a looming conflict in the Pacific, Mr. Bannon expected to be roughed up by the group, which included China scholars, writers and veterans from past Republican and Democratic administrations.

Mr. Bannon’s hosts were hard on him, but not in the way he expected. Rather than faulting him or his former boss, President Trump, for their hostile approach, they pressed him on why Mr. Trump had not followed through with his tough talk about trade and North Korea. “I walked out of there thinking, ‘Something has changed with the elite,’” he recalled.

China’s relentless rise and its more recent embrace of repressive tactics that recall the Mao era — a process accelerated by President Xi Jinping’s bid to stay in power indefinitely — have fractured a deeply rooted consensus in Washington about the long-term direction of its relationship with Beijing.

Gone is a widespread agreement among diplomats, scholars and businesspeople that China is gradually converging with the United States and, therefore, that Americans should work to manage any flare-ups between the two countries. With China now unabashedly charting its own course — one that diverges rather than converges with the liberal democracies and market economies of the West — conflict, many say, is inevitable.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China is not on the same page with the U.S. on multiple issues .... and this has been the case for a very long time. And while I am not sure on where this is going to end up, I do see the days of U.S. passivity and a willingness to accommodate China among the U.S. foreign policy and economic elite in Washington shifting to one that is more realistic and pragmatic.

This Is China's and Chinese President Xi Jinping's New Spy Master

Wang Xiaohong, head of Department of Public Security of Henan province, is pictured in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China January 17, 2014. Picture taken January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Reuters: Exclusive: Xi confidant set to become China's new spy master - sources

BEIJING (Reuters) - A vice minister of public security, a close confidant of President Xi Jinping, is tipped to take over as China’s spy master, five sources said, as the country looks to clean up its security apparatus and plug intelligence gaps.

China has poured billions of yuan into domestic security, but the secretive Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Public Security in recent years have been hit with high-level corruption scandals and intelligence failings.

Wang Xiaohong, 60, a vice minister of public security, will replace Chen Wenqing as minister of state security during the session of parliament which begins on March 5, three sources with ties to the leadership and two foreign diplomats said.

Chen, 58, will become the country’s top prosecutor after a little more than a year as minister of state security, three of the sources said. The ministry is responsible for counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and national security.

The change of guard is part of a broader cabinet reshuffle during the two-week parliamentary session.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: How close is China's new spymaster is to the Chinese President? He is this close .....

.... “They are very close,” a source with leadership ties said. “Wang Xiaohong used to help look after Xi Jinping’s daughter.”

U.S. Will Spend $500M On Syrian Kurds This Year

(Click On Image to Enlarge)

Robert Ford, Defense One/The Atlantic: The US Will Spend $500M on Syrian Kurds This Year. For What?

The Trump administration is embarking on a state-building project with no clear strategy, benchmarks, or goals.

As the world watches the Syrian government’s relentless bombing of Ghouta, 300 miles to the east, the United States remains focused on eradicating the last vestiges of the Islamic State. On February 11, Secretary of Defense James Mattis stressed that, following the group’s defeat, there is no plan for a deeper U.S. commitment in Syria. Several weeks later on February 23, President Donald Trump echoed Mattis’s message, saying that the 1,700 to 2,000 U.S. troops in the country would “go home” after ISIS had been beaten.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What is the U.S. strategy, benchmark, and goals in Syria? A legitimate question, and one that I predict will not be answered in the coming months.

Nothing Has Changed In Afghanistan

Image: A U.S. Marine with a Marine special operations team assists with security during a construction project for an Afghan Local Police (ALP) checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. Flickr / U.S. Department of Defense

Daniel DePetris, RCD: Things Are No Better in Afghanistan

On November 28, 2017, U.S. Commander Gen. John Nicholson delivered a remarkable briefing to the Pentagon press corps on the Trump administration’s new Afghanistan policy. The general was so upbeat about the progress that he witnessed on the battlefield that you could be forgiven for thinking the U.S. was just a few months away from celebrating complete and total victory. Nicholson beamed with confidence that the new war plan was a “game-changer” and a turning point against the Taliban. The “momentum is now with Afghan security forces,” he declared, and with just a little more time, the Taliban will soon realize that their only option is reconciliation with the Afghan government.

Apparently, the Defense Department’s Inspector General does not share the commander’s booming optimism.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I do not disagree with the above assessment. The Afghan war is now at a stalemate .... but the casualties continue to pile up.

Update: Another bleak assessment .... America Will Never Win the War in Afghanistan (Ali Wyne, National Interest).

Afghan President Ghani Offers Peace Talks With Taliban "Without Condition"



BBC: Taliban offer: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani seeks talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has offered peace talks "without preconditions" to the Taliban after 16 years of war.

Speaking at a peace conference in Kabul, he proposed measures including a ceasefire and prisoner swaps.

In return the Taliban would need to recognise the Afghan government and respect the rule of law.

Previous peace talks offers have not stopped attacks by the Taliban, who have yet to respond to the offer.

A Taliban spokesman told the BBC Afghan service they were waiting for reaction from their leadership.

Read more ....

WN Editor: This proposal from the Afghan President is DOA. The Taliban regard the Afghan government as illegitimate, and they only want to talk to the U.S. for the sole purpose of laying the groundwork for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan .... Afghan Taliban Have Renewed Their Call For A Dialogue With The U.S. To End The War (February 26, 2018). So why the offer from the Afghan President .... I guess it is all for show.

More News On Afghan President Ghani Offering Peace Talks With The Taliban "Under No Conditions"

Afghan president calls on Taliban to join in peace talks -- AP
Afghanistan's Ghani offers talks with Taliban 'without preconditions' -- Reuters
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offers Taliban peace talks and political recognition -- DW
Afghanistan offers to recognize Taliban as legitimate 'political party' -- CNN
Ghani Offers Unconditional Talks, Legitimacy to Afghan Taliban -- VOA
Afghan leader's offer to Taliban is a last-ditch gamble for peace -- The Guardian
Afghan president proposes constitution review and truce as part of peace bid with Taliban -- Arab News
Taliban: Doha office remains vital for talks -- Al Jazeera

World News Briefs -- February 28, 2018



Reuters: Syrian government ground forces attack Ghouta despite Russian truce plan

BEIRUT/GENEVA (Reuters) - Syrian government forces launched a ground assault on the edge of the rebel-held eastern Ghouta enclave on Wednesday, seeking to gain territory despite a Russian plan for five-hour daily ceasefires, a war monitor and sources on both sides said.

Hundreds of people have died in 11 days of bombing of the eastern Ghouta, a swathe of towns and farms outside Damascus that is the last major rebel-held area near the capital.

The onslaught has been one of the fiercest of the civil war, now entering its eighth year.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syrian forces gain ground in Eastern Ghouta despite truce.

Second Russia truce attempt in Eastern Ghouta comes into effect.

Thousands of well-armed rebel fighters are in Syria’s Ghouta.

Saudi crown prince to visit Washington on March 19.

Lebanon's Hariri in Riyadh to meet King Salman, Crown Prince MBS.

Despite outcry, Iranian minister addresses UN rights body.

Israel to eliminate use of coal, gasoline, diesel by 2030.

ASIA

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offers Taliban peace talks and political recognition.

China's Communist Party agrees on government reform, but no details.

N Korea 'providing materials for Syria chemical weapons'. North Korea sent Syria missile and chemical weapon items, says UN report.

Expert: Delayed war games between U.S. and South Korea to take place early April.

Indonesian Parliament passes controversial law targeting its critics, anti-corruption commission.

Rights groups accuse Bangladesh army of covering up sex assault.

Papua New Guinea: at least 16 dead after strongest ever earthquake hits.

AFRICA

Cameroon deploys special forces in separatist regions.

Exclusive: CAR violence divides communities in Bria.

Nigeria orders ‘all schools’ defended in Boko Haram region.

Egyptians facing soaring prices not seeing fruit of reforms.

Egypt train collision kills 15: health ministry.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor wants close monitoring of the media.

Italy, China propose solution to Lake Chad's water problem.

EUROPE

EU's Michel Barnier reveals draft Brexit treaty.

Theresa May rejects EU's draft option for Northern Ireland.

Cyprus: Turkey’s gas search blockade prevents peace talks.

Russia reinstated into Olympic movement after doping scandal.

Slovak leader offers a $1.2 million reward for information in case of murdered journalist.

Food bank gives access cards to Germans only, despite uproar.

Kosovo: Top war crimes prosecutor forced to leave amid US state department inertia.

Europe freezes as 'Beast from the East' arrives. 'Beast from the East' kills two in Romania as freeze hits Europe. Now snow causes chaos in SPAIN while 24 are killed in Arctic conditions sweeping Europe.

AMERICAS

Students in emotional return to Florida high school.

Ex-Trump top aide Manafort pleads not guilty, faces Sept. 17 trial.

Jared Kushner: security clearance change ends direct access to top secret intelligence.

ICE announces more than 150 people arrested in San Francisco area.

Thousands of Venezuelans cross into Brazil to flee crisis.

Challenger to Venezuelan President Maduro steps forward.

Five Colombian soldiers killed in 'ELN rebel ambush.

Brazil called up the military to control violence in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, it's only gotten worse. Rio military deployment stirs controversy in Brazil.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

State Department designates 7 ISIS-affiliated groups as terrorist organizations.

A new strand of Islamist extremism in Pakistan.

Lebanon's Hezbollah launches Syria war video game.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Apple back on track to become first $1 trillion company.

Bitcoin 'creator' slammed with $5 billion lawsuit.

iQiyi: 'China's Netflix' to list on US stock market.

$1bn painting 'only matter of time' as art prices surge.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 28, 2018

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Haaretz: Israeli Satellite Images Reveal: Iran Builds Military Base Near Damascus

Fox News published the images showing a military base northeast of Syria's capital. According to the report, Iran's Al Quds force is operating the post.

Iran has established a military base outside Syria's capital city of Damascus. Fox News published the Israeli satellite photos showing the base eight miles northwest of Damascus on Wednesday.

The images reportedly show two warehouses storing missiles capable of hitting all of Israel. According to the report, members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard's special operations Quds Force are operating the base.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 28, 2018

Satellite image said to show new Iranian military base in Syria -- The Times of Israel

US General: Iran Posing Long-Term Threat to Mideast Stability -- Voice of America

Saudi Crown Prince meets new military chiefs -- Arab News

Why Saudi Arabia Is Suddenly Shaking Up Its Military -- NPR

US General: 'Russia Threatens Our Ability to Dominate Airspace' in Middle East -- Sputnik

How Russia is using Syria as a military 'guinea pig' -- The Jerusalem Post

US training Europe to use tactical nukes against Russia is threat to non-proliferation – Lavrov -- RT

US Training European Military to Use Nuclear Weapons Against Russia - Russian FM -- Sputnik

China has plan to build nuclear-powered aircraft carrier -- Reuters

China's military flexes muscles for domestic objective: more funding -- Reuters

Pakistan launches naval exercise as it aims to counter India, protect economy -- Defense News

Sudanese president names new military chief, top commanders -- FOX News/AP

German lawmaker calls for end to ‘failed’ European Defense Agency -- Defense News

Should the Navy Fear China's 'Streetfighter' Ships? -- Lyle J. Goldstein, National Interest

After ISIS, US military confronts challenge from Russia, China in Middle East -- Washington Post

Development for future vertical-lift aircraft slow-rolled in Army budget plans -- Defense News

The Army says its next-generation assault rifle will pack a punch like a tank's main gun -- Business Insider

Battlefield tech demands: Rapid Equipping Force preps for surge with new Army brigades -- Defense News

U.S. Military Opened Secretive Drone Base to Visitors (After The Intercept Wrote About It) -- The Intercept

Navy to Develop Shipboard Defensive Laser Weapons -- USNI News

Navy to ‘take the man out of the minefield’ in clearing underwater explosives -- Navy Times

New Navy Block III Super Hornet Gets Advanced Targeting & EW Tech -- Warrior Maven

Super Hornets and Growlers to get bigger fuel tanks -- Navy Times

Navy's budget sets aside funds to replace aging Northwest tugboats -- Kitsap Sun

Sweeping legislation aims to fix the US surface Navy -- Defense News

We Must Shock-Test the USS Gerald R. Ford -- Jerry Hendrix, National Review

Commerce Dept. Sees Strong Link Between Steel And National Security; Military Doesn't Seem So Sure -- Forbes

Pentagon probes cost overruns, delays at StratCom’s new $1.3 billion HQ -- Omaha World Herald

Soldiers, With Empathy: U.S. Army Creates Dedicated Adviser Brigades -- NPR

Special Operations Command asks for more troops, biggest budget yet -- Military Times

The U.S. Military's Big Problem: An Addiction to Special Forces? -- Steven P. Bucci, National Interest

How the Pentagon devours the budget -- William D. Hartung & Tom Dispatch, Salon

New York Is Working To Prevent A Cyber-Apocalypse That Could Bring Down The Financial System

As hackers become more sophisticated and cyber attacks more routine, New York is on notice. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Business Insider: New York is quietly working to prevent a major cyber attack that could bring down the financial system

* With a lack of leadership from the federal government, New York is one of the first states to implement new cyber regulations.
* The state is quietly working to prevent a major cyber attack that could bring down Wall Street's financial system.
* But even with the strictest cybersecurity regulations in the country, experts warn New York's efforts may still not be enough.

NEW YORK — Five months before the 9/11 attacks, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent a memo to one of his advisers with an ominous message.

"Cyberwar," read the subject line.

"Please take a look at this article," Rumsfeld wrote, "and tell me what you think I ought to do about it. Thanks."

Attached was a 38-page paper, published seven months prior, analyzing the consequences of society's increasing dependence on the internet.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is one of those situations where if it does happens .... there could be tens of millions of victims.

Japanese Officials Admit That Their 'Helicopter Destroyers' Were Also Designed For Jets

Izumo-class helicopter destroyer (Wikipedia)

Tyler Rogoway, The Warzone/The Drive: Officials Admit Japan's 'Helicopter Destroyers' Were Also Designed For Jets

The Japanese government has consistently and vehemently denied that its hulking helicopter carriers were built with tactical jets in mind.

Japanese Ministry of Defense executives have outright admitted that despite the Japanese government's past denials that the Izumo class "helicopter destroyers" were not designed to accommodate fixed-wing short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) tactical jets, they actually were designed with exactly that in mind.

The Asahi Shimbun quoted Maritime Self Defense Force sources stating the following:

“It is only reasonable to design (the Izumo) with the prospect of possible changes of the circumstances in the decades ahead... We viewed that whether the Izumo should be actually refitted could be decided by the government.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It clearly looks like a mini-aircraft carrier ... so no one should be surprised that STOVL tactical jets may be deployed. As to what are those jets .... reports are that the Japanese are going to purchase 20 - 40 F-35Bs for these "aircraft carriers".

China Has Three Navies: The Regular Navy, The Police Navy And The Sneaky Navy

China Coast Guard vessels patrol past a Chinese fishing vessel at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017. Reuters/Erik De Castro

Andrew S. Erickson, National Interest: Numbers Matter: China's Three 'Navies' Each Have the World's Most Ships

Numerical superiority allows China’s second and third sea forces to flood the maritime gray zone in ways that its neighbors, as well as the United States, may find very hard to counter.

As a friend’s five-year-old puts it, “China has three navies: the regular navy, the police navy and the sneaky navy.” Each of these three sea forces is the world’s largest of its type by number of ships—at least by some measures. China is truly a maritime power in its own right, and its sea forces’ numbers matter in important ways. In maritime “gray zone” operations, Beijing employs its enormous coast guard and maritime militia to further its disputed Yellow, East and South China Sea sovereignty claims using coercion short of warfare. This article, which is part one in a series, will focus on these quantitatively superior second and third sea forces.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A must read for those who are interested on what China's "three navies" are doing.

Women Protesting Against Wearing The Hijab In Iran Are Facing Up To Ten Years In Jail

Risking jail: Shaparak Shajarizadeh, who was arrested last week, is facing charges of 'inciting corruption and prostitution' for taking off her hijab in public

Daily Mail: Women protesting against wearing the hijab in Iran will be charged with inciting PROSTITUTION and jailed for up to ten years as regime cracks down on growing dissent

* Iranian women removing hijab to be charged with 'inciting prostitution'
* If found guilty they may face a jail sentence of up to ten years
* Women are protesting the compulsory headscarf, which is religious law in Iran
* So far, some 35 women have been arrested in the capital Tehran alone

Iranian women protesting the compulsory headscarf by taking off their hijab in public could be facing up to a decade in jail for 'inciting prostitution', police has warned.

Authorities in Iran are desperately trying to stem the growing protests across the country against the dress code enforced on women since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

More than 35 women have been arrested in the capital Tehran alone in the past two months, with several reportedly subjected to torture while in custody.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If there is a place that needs a #MeToo movement, it is Iran.

Russian Media Claims It Now Has Lasers To Shoot And Damage Satellites

Artistic rendition of a satellite in earth's orbit. (NASA)

Defense One: Russia Claims It Now Has Lasers To Shoot Satellites

A defense source tells Russian media that military engineers have advanced work on the next big anti-satellite weapon.

Russian defense companies have created a plane-mounted laser that can hit satellites — at least according to an anonymous source quoted by Russian news agency Interfax. On Saturday, an Interfax report cited the source as saying that weapons maker Almaz-Antey has “completed work on the anti-satellite complex,” which includes the laser and associated ground control gear.

Independent and Western observers have not yet verified the claim. But the Russian program does exist. Last April, Almaz-Antey general designer Pavel Sozinov told Russian news agency Ria Novosti that Russian leadership had ordered the company to develop weapons that could interfere electronically with or achieve “direct functional destruction of those elements deployed in orbit.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Defense chiefs are sounding the alarm .... Air Force Chief of Staff Predicts That We’ll Be Fighting From Space In A Matter Of Years (February 25, 2018), and reports of advances by China and Russia made the media circuit two weeks ago .... China and Russia developing ‘destructive’ weapons for space conflict, US warns (The Independent). But truth be told, all sides are in a rush to weaponize space .... The U.S., Russia, And China Are Rushing To Weaponize Space (January 26, 2018).

Is Saudi Arabia Getting Ready For War?



Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner: Saudi Arabia gets ready for war

Saudi Arabia is preparing for war and doubling down on its modernity revolution. That’s my takeaway from the desert kingdom's replacement on Monday of its chairman of the joint chiefs and its air defense and army commanders. Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman's hand is very evident here.

The unceremonious dumping of incumbent officials wasn’t limited to the military; also Monday, various security and provincial officials were also sent packing and younger officials promoted to replace them. A female minister was also appointed to the Labor Department.

These changes speak to something deeper: While King Salman’s stamp was applied to the personnel changes, Mohammed bin Salman is the key here.

Read more ....

Update: Why Saudi Arabia Is Suddenly Shaking Up Its Military (Deborah Amos, NPR)

WNU Editor: Saudi Arabia has been at war for years. Against Islamic extremists within its borders. Through proxies in Syria. And directly in Yemen. And what is striking about these conflicts is that Saudi Arabia is not winning.

Tonight's E-Books Are The Complete Works Of Julius Caeser



WNU Editor: The link to download his works is here.

Eleven Marines Fall Ill After U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters Was Mailed An Unknown Suspicious Substance

A hazardous materials (Hazmat) team enters a building at Fort Myer-Henderson Hall military base in Arlington, Virginia, after a suspicious letter made 11 people sick on 27 February 2018 Twitter/@FtMyerFire

ABC News: 11 Marines affected in hazmat incident at Ft. Myer near Pentagon

The FBI and NCIS are investigating a hazmat incident Tuesday at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall next to Arlington National Cemetery and close to the Pentagon.

The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service were called in, a Marine official said, after 11 Marines were affected by an unknown substance found when an envelope was opened.

Local fire department hazmat teams responded to the scene within minutes.

Read more ....

More News On Eleven Marines Falling Ill After The U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters Was Mailed An Unknown Suspicious Substance

BREAKING: Hazmat Situation at Marine Corps Headquarters -- ARLNow
Eleven People Fall Ill After U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters Was Mailed Unknown Suspicious Substance -- Newsweek
At least 11 people being treated for symptoms after opening suspicious letter on Marine Corps base -- Business Insider
Two US Marines in hospital after suspicious letter sent to military base -- The Independent

Tweets For Today






CENTCOM General: Iran Meddling Has Increased Since Nuclear Deal

General Joseph Votel. AFP

Weekly Standard: Top U.S. General: Iranian Regional Meddling Has Increased Since Nuclear Deal

The Islamic Republic provides money and weapons to proxies in both Yemen and Syria.

Iran has boosted its investments in militant and terrorist groups across the Middle East since the enactment of the 2015 nuclear deal, the nation’s top general who oversees U.S. Central Command said Tuesday.

“What it took 20 years for Iran to do in Lebanon with the Lebanese Hezbollah, they’re attempting to do in about five years with the Houthis in Yemen,” General Joseph Votel told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee. “They’re accelerating their pace and their ability to do this.”

Asked whether Iran has reduced, maintained, or enhanced its investment in their proxy forces since the birth of the nuclear deal, Votel said, “I would characterize it as an enhanced investment in their proxies and partners.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: General Votel believes that the Iranians have increased their "meddling", but it is not the U.S. mission to stop them .... Top general: Countering Iran in Syria not a US military mission (The Hill).

Picture Of The Day

Smoke rises from the besieged Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, February 27. REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Bombs fall on Syria's Ghouta (Reuters).

Satellite Photos Reveal Iran Establishing A Missile Base Near Damascus

Western intelligence sources have found that Iran has built a new permanent military base outside Syria’s capital city. (ImageSat International)

FOX News: New satellite photos show Iran establishing another base in Syria

EXCLUSIVE – Iran has built another permanent military base outside Syria’s capital city complete with hangers used to store missiles capable of hitting all of Israel, according to Western intelligence sources.

Exclusive satellite images from ImageSat International obtained by Fox News show what is believed to be the new Iranian base, eight miles northwest of Damascus, operated by the Quds Force — the special operations arm of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The photos show two new white hangars, each roughly 30 yards by 20 yards, used to store short- and medium-range missiles.

Read more ....

Update: Satellite Images Reveal Iran Establishing Missile Base Near Damascus - Reports -- Sputnik

WNU Editor: I guess the above news ties in with this article that was posted over 2 weeks ago .... Pro-Hizbullah Lebanese Website: Hizbullah Has 70,000 Iranian Missiles Across Syria Ready To Launch Into Israel; In A Year It Will Have 500,000 (Memri).

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

United Nations: Yemen Faces 'Catastrophic' Conditions

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

DW: Yemen faces 'catastrophic' conditions, says UN

After three years of war, the Middle East country faces a growing risk of famine and cholera, the UN has warned. Warring parties have continued a "destructive pattern of zero-sum politics," said the outgoing UN envoy.

UN aid operations chief John Ging on Tuesday said living conditions in Yemen are "catastrophic" following three years of conflict.

Ging said Yemen, considered the world's worst humanitarian crisis, faces a growing risk of famine and cholera.

More than one million people have been infected with cholera since April 2017, the UN official noted, adding that diphtheria was on the rise for the first time since 1982.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Yemen is not facing "catastrophic" conditions .... it is already there.

More News On The UN Warning That Yemen Is Facing 'Catastrophic' Conditions

UN humanitarian chief calls Yemen conditions ‘catastrophic’ -- AP
UN officials warn over `catastrophic´ conditions in Yemen -- Press Association
War-wracked Yemen facing ‘catastrophic’ conditions -- Gulf Times/AFP
UN can help, but Yemen’s warring parties must make concessions, commit to peace – outgoing UN envoy -- UN News

NSA Chief: President Trump Has Not Ordered Retaliation Against Russian Hacking And Meddling



The Guardian: NSA chief: Trump 'has not ordered disruption of Russia election meddling'

* Mike Rogers: ‘Clearly what we’ve done hasn’t been enough’
* NSA chief says Putin has concluded there was ‘little price to pay’

A top national security official told lawmakers on Tuesday he had not been directed by Donald Trump to disrupt Russian efforts to meddle in US elections, and that Vladimir Putin had come to the conclusion there was “little price to pay” for such actions.

Adm Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and chief of US Cyber Command, told the Senate armed services committee: “Clearly, what we’ve done hasn’t been enough.”

Asked if he had been granted the authority by Trump to counter Russian cyber-attacks at source, Rogers said: “No, I have not.”

Read more ....

More News On NSA Director Mike Rogers Admitting That President Trump Has Not Ordered Him To Retaliate Against Russian Hacking And Meddling

Top intel official: US must do more to stop Russian meddling -- AP
White House Has Given No Orders to Counter Russian Meddling, NSA Chief Says -- New York Times
US cyber chief says Trump hasn't told him to confront Russian cyber threat -- CNN
NSA Chief: U.S. Response 'Hasn't Changed The Calculus' Of Russian Interference -- NPR
Trump has not ordered retaliation against Russian hacking, Pentagon's cyber chief says -- Washington Examiner
Trump Spy Chief Says Russia Hasn't Paid Price for 2016 Meddling -- Bloomberg
Analysis: NSA director Mike Rogers' careful indictment of Trump's anti-Russia efforts -- Virginia-Pilot/Washington Post

Presidential Son-In-Law And Adviser Jared Kushner Has Had His Top-Secret Intelligence Clearance Status Downgraded



Politico: Kushner loses access to top-secret intelligence

A memo sent Friday downgraded the presidential son-in-law and adviser and other White House aides who had been working on interim clearances.

Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access.

Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances — at the Top Secret/SCI-level — were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Apparently he is one of many who lost his top-secret intelligence clearance today. What's my take .... this review should have been done last year.

More News On Jared Kushner Having His Top-Secret Intelligence Clearance Status Downgraded

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law, has security clearance downgraded -- USA Today
Kushner loses access to top intelligence briefing: sources -- Reuters
Jared Kushner's Security Clearance Downgraded -- New York Times
Jared Kushner loses access to top-level security briefings -- BBC
Jared Kushner loses top security clearance -- NBC
Kushner security clearance is downgraded -- CNN

China Is No Longer A Stable Country



Noah Feldman, Bloomberg: China Now Faces the Downsides of Dictatorship

The period of term-limited presidents corresponded with unprecedented growth. Now Xi Jinping is changing the rules.

China’s nearly 30-year experiment with time-limited government is officially coming to an end. The Chinese Communist Party has suggested amending China’s constitution to allow President Xi Jinping to serve more than two five-year terms. Considering that the party rules the country, and Xi rules the party, that means two things: The constitution will be amended. And Xi is going to be president for life, much like Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping.

From the standpoint of communism, this result isn’t terribly surprising. From Lenin to Stalin to Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Andropov, the Soviet Union was never out of the hands of a dictator-like ruler until Gorbachev presided over its collapse.

Nor is Xi’s ascent surprising in the light of China’s traditional norm of imperial rule, which effectively carried over into communism.

Read more ....

Update #1: Xi Won’t Go: A China File Conversation (China File)
Update #2: In China, the Dawn of the Xi Dynasty? (Ashish Kumar Sen)

WNU Editor: There are three events that have always stuck with me when it comes to Chinese President Xi .... 

Chinese President Xi Jinping Wants To Now Be Referred As 'The Core Leader' (February 5, 2016)

Chinese President Xi Visits State Newsrooms. Demands Total Loyalty (February 19, 2016)

Chinese President Xi Wants The Chinese Military To Address Him As 'Chairman' (July 12, 2017)

The red flags were always there.

As for the future .... it is going to get worse on multiple levels. Since the adoption of a consensual political system at the top starting in the 1980s, China has enjoyed the greatest growth in its history. The provinces felt that their concerns were being addressed, and the growing entrepreneur class felt secure. No more now. The power in China is now going to be concentrated in the hands of President Xi, his cadre of supporters, and the Beijing bureaucracy. President Xi is a man driven more by ego rather than ideology .... and for modern day China this is going to be a new experience.