Monday, April 23, 2018

Tweets For Today






Who Learned More From The Strikes In Syria ― America or Russia?

The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducting strike operations from the Mediterranean Sea that the Defense Department said was part of a cruise-missile strike against Syria on Friday.Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

Aaron Mehta, Defense News: Who learned more from the strikes in Syria ― America or Russia?

WASHINGTON ― When the U.S., France and Britain launched 105 cruise missiles at a trio of Syrian targets April 13, all eyes were on how the vaunted air defense network in Syria would handle the weapon.

But the crown jewel of that system, Russia’s highly regarded S-400, never fired. And while the older Syrian systems did appear to launch some munitions, the Pentagon claims those systems were not used until after the Western weaponry had already impacted their targets.

“Russian air defenses were energized. They were scanning, they had a main state air [defense] aircraft up. They did not choose to engage,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said during an April 19 press event. “I can tell you though that the rest of Syrian air [defense] capability, which is completely Russian-made, Russian-designed, Russian-supported, engaged extensively and comprehensively failed.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Russians had a front seat to witness and study a massive NATO style missile attack, without showing their hand. It sounds like a win to the Russians for me.

Picture Of The Day

President Gerald R. Ford dances with Queen Elizabeth II in the East Room of the White House at the Bicentennial State Dinner held in honor of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Great Britain, on July 7, 1976, in Washington, D.C.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library / Ricardo Thomas

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Photos From State Dinners Past (The Atlantic)

Update: This is my favorite picture taken of a U.S. State dinner (link is here).

Mexico Is On Course To Have Over 30,000 Murders This Year

In 2017, a total of 25,339 people were killed in Mexico, the highest number since monitoring began a decade earlier (AFP Photo/Herika MARTINEZ)

AFP: Mexico murder rate soars with 7,667 killed in 3 months

Mexico City (AFP) - Some 7,667 people were killed in Mexico in the first quarter of 2018, up 20 percent on the same period last year, making it the most violent year in two decades, government figures showed Sunday.

In 2017, the figure stood at 6,406 violent deaths, according to the Mexican security services.

The worst month was March, when 2,729 people were killed, most of them shot dead. January's figure stood at 2,549 murders, with another 2,389 in February.

The bloodshed follows a proliferation of gangs involved in drug trafficking, as well as stealing fuel, kidnappings, extortion and other criminal activities.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: During the same period in 2017, the figure stood at 6,406 violent deaths. Even the politicians are now being targeted as the elections near .... Narco cartels target politicians as Mexico's elections near (DW). But as bad as the crime rate is, the tourists are still flocking to MExico in record numbers .... 29,168 murders in one year, so is it safe to travel to Mexico? (News.com.au)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Renewing Sanctions On Iran Will Increase The Price Of Oil By $2 To $10 Per Barrel

Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice.com: Is The Oil Market Ready For Sanctions On Iran?

Oil market participants and analysts will be intently watching the Trump Administration over the next month. May 12 is the deadline for the U.S. President to decide to waive sanctions on Iran as part of the nuclear deal that global powers reached with Iran in 2015, allowing Tehran to resume oil exports and regain part of its market share.

The re-imposition of sanctions on Iran’s oil is not 100-percent certain, although the probability is high, various analysts say. The potential loss of Iran’s oil exports varies from zero to 1 million bpd, according to investment banks and analysts.

Iranian sanctions could add between $2 and $10 to oil prices this year, analysts polled by Bloomberg say.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: European attempts to find a compromise that would satisfy both Iran and the U.S. have failed .... though there is a lot of pressure on President Trump to bend .... French, German leaders will bring Trump the same message: Save the Iran nuclear deal (LA Times). But I am with the consensus opinon on this one .... President Trump is going to impose some form of sanctions on Iran by May 12.

Warnings From Iran's Foreign Minister That They Will Restart Their Nuclear Program If The U.S. Withdraws From The Accord



CNN: Iran's foreign minister warns of consequences if Trump leaves nuclear deal

(CNN)Iran's foreign minister warned that President Donald Trump's threats to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement send a "very dangerous message" about the wisdom of negotiating a deal with the United States.

Speaking to reporters in New York, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States has failed to implement its side of the nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers. Under the deal, which went into force in January 2016 when President Barack Obama was still in office, Iran agreed to put limits on parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions.

"That's a very dangerous message to send to people of Iran, but also to the people of the world -- that you should never come to an agreement with the United States because at the end of the day, the operating principle of the United States is 'what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable,'" he said. "The situation is creating an impression globally that agreements don't matter."

Read more ....

More Warnings From Iran's Foreign Minister That They Will Restart Their Nuclear Program If The U.S. Withdraws From The Accord

Iran's foreign minister warns nation will restart 'nuclear activities' if US withdraws from accord -- Washington Post
Iran's foreign minister says resuming nuke program on table if U.S. scuttles deal -- NBC
Top Iranian diplomat: Options if US pulls out of nuclear accord are 'not pleasant' -- The Hill
Iran prepared to resume nuclear program if US backs out of deal -- UPI.

Is An Israeli - Iran War Looming?

An RAF Hercules takes part in an air show that was part of Israel’s independence celebrations last week. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Simon Tisdall, The Guardian: Israel celebrates but is war with Iran looming?

Israelis enjoyed a lavish party last week to mark the nation’s seven eventful decades, but the threat to its existence could hardly have been greater.

There were fireworks, concerts, torch processions and parties throughout the country. In Jerusalem the night sky was illuminated by 300 drones that coalesced to form images of favourite Israeli symbols, such as the national flag and a dove with an olive branch in its mouth. The celebrations included a live, televised retelling of Jewish history dating to biblical times. In one scene children with yellow stars pinned to their clothes fled marching Nazi soldiers. Another showed pioneers building the fledgling Jewish state.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, helped lead the national extravaganza, despite objections that his presence contradicted the event’s traditional, non-political character. This moment – the 70th anniversary last Wednesday of Israel’s independence, according to the Hebrew calendar – marked the country’s emergence as a rising world power, he declared.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I can easily see a war between Israel And Iran's proxies (Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas, etc.) .... but not a direct conflict.

Israel Hints That It Is Ready To Strike Iranian Targets In Syria

Israeli Air Force F15 planes fly during an aerial demonstration at a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel, December 27, 2017.. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Middle East Monitor/Reuters: Israel hints it could hit Iran’s ‘air force’ in Syria

Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian “air force” deployed in neighbouring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate.

Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 air strike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals.

Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: All the signs of a possible Israeli attack are there. Showing images of bombed-out Iranian military sites in Syria .... Satellite photos show precision of raid on Iranian military facility in Syria (Times of Israel). Canceling military exercises with other countries .... Israel pulls fighter jets from drill in Alaska amid tensions with Iran (Jerusalem Post). And increasing the hostile rhetoric .... ‘There’s a price to be paid for threatening Israel’ – defense minister warns Iran as tensions flare (RT).

Iran Foreign Minister: Does Not Believe Iran Heading Into A War With Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Tehran Times)

Times of Israel/AP: As tensions rise, Zarif says he doesn’t believe Iran heading to war with Israel

Iranian foreign minister blames Israel for escalation, saying Jerusalem repeatedly violated Syrian territory under 'smokescreen' of US support.

Despite rising tensions and mutual warnings traded between Tehran and Jerusalem in recent weeks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview to be aired Sunday on American television that he did not believe the two countries were “headed towards regional war”

“I do not believe that we are headed towards regional war. But I do believe that unfortunately, Israel has continued its violations with international law, hoping to be able to do it with impunity because of the US support and trying to find smokescreens to hide behind,” Zarif told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Read more ....

Update #1: Iranian FM says doesn't believe war likely with Israel (i24 News)
Update #2: Iran FM: No desire for regional war, Netanyahu: I put my faith in the IDF (Jerusalem Post)

WNU Editor: Israeli PM Netanyahu responds .... Netanyahu Fires Back at Iran's FM: 'Huge Gap Between His Moderate Words and Revolutionary Guards' Actions' (Haaretz).

Head of Iran’s Army: Israel Will 'Fade Away' In 25 Years

Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi, head of the Iranian Army. (Screen capture)

The Telegraph: Iran pledges to destroy Israel within 25 years as tensions rise

The head of Iran’s army, Abdolrahim Mousavi, threatened to “annihilate” Israel on Saturday as tensions escalated between the two countries.

At a ceremony in Tehran, Mr Mousavi warned that any acts of war against his country would put his country on the offensive.

“Hands are on the trigger and missiles are ready and will be launched at any moment that the enemy tries to carry out its sinister plot against (our) lands,” Tasnim news agency quoted him as saying.

His comments came a day after the Iranian Brigadier General Hossein Salami also issued a threat and said Israel could be destroyed if tensions escalate to war.

Salami added Israel would “fade away” in the next 25 years despite the support it receives from the United States.

"If any war happens , it will definitely be followed by your annihilation.

Read more ....

Update: Iran threatens to ‘annihilate’ Israel, as Hezbollah boasts of reach of rockets (Haaretz)

WNU Editor: Really?!?!?! .... Iran, Israel play down prospects they'll go to war over Syria (Reuters)

What If A Nuke Goes Off In Washington, D.C.?



Science: What if a nuke goes off in Washington, D.C.? Simulations of artificial societies help planners cope with the unthinkable

At 11:15 on a Monday morning in May, an ordinary looking delivery van rolls into the intersection of 16th and K streets NW in downtown Washington, D.C., just a few blocks north of the White House. Inside, suicide bombers trip a switch.

Instantly, most of a city block vanishes in a nuclear fireball two-thirds the size of the one that engulfed Hiroshima, Japan. Powered by 5 kilograms of highly enriched uranium that terrorists had hijacked weeks earlier, the blast smashes buildings for at least a kilometer in every direction and leaves hundreds of thousands of people dead or dying in the ruins. An electromagnetic pulse fries cellphones within 5 kilometers, and the power grid across much of the city goes dark. Winds shear the bomb's mushroom cloud into a plume of radioactive fallout that drifts eastward into the Maryland suburbs. Roads quickly become jammed with people on the move—some trying to flee the area, but many more looking for missing family members or seeking medical help.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Thinking the unthinkable. Such an event would put the world at the brink of a major nuclear war, and (I would not be surprised) retaliation will be swift. Speaking for myself .... I have already planned out what to do in the event of such a possibility .... a nuclear event in Washington DC/New York City/London/etc.. If I am in Moscow ..... drop everything and rush to my parents country home 100 km. west of Moscow. In Montreal .... rush to my chalet 200 km north into the Laurentians.  And while this is no guarantee that I or anyone else would survive a global nuclear war .... in the event that war does not happen, I do know that there will be global panic and one that will last a long time. In that case .... it would be best to be far away from urban centers ... well stocked and armed. And yes .... I would continue to post for as long as I can.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 22, 2018



Andrei Lankov, The Atlantic: How North Korea Learned to Live With 'Fire and Fury'

Kim Jong Un’s concessions on his weapons program suggest that he has adapted to President Trump’s threats.

It's astonishing how quickly the story of the North Korea crisis seems to have changed from one of fear to one of optimism. It was less than a year ago that the U.S. president was threatening “fire and fury” against Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, to touting upcoming talks with him. It is not the case, as Trump tweeted Sunday morning, that the North “agreed to denuclearization.” But the North’s recent declarations that it would at least talk about denuclearization, and put a moratorium on the nuclear and missile tests that kept the world on edge last year, certainly do look like significant concessions.

Or do they? Does this all really mean that the North Korean nuclear issue, the scourge of U.S. policy makers for decades, is about to be solved? Not at all, even if recent developments provide some grounds for—very conditional—optimism.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 22, 2018

Kim Jong-un: fragile and under pressure but he won’t give up -- Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian

Kim heralds more N. Korea economic reforms: analysts -- AFP

Road to N. Korea’s denuclearization is littered with failure -- Kim Tong-Hyung, AP

Falling Into Old Habits at the 38th Parallel -- Ian Morris, Stratfor

Trouble in Paradise: A Chinese Occupation in Tahiti -- Anne-Marie Brady, The Diplomat

How Trump Could Stumble from a Trade War Into a Real War with China -- Graham Allison, National Interest

Japan’s leader confronts ‘Rising Sun’ president -- William Pesek, Asia Times

US Syria effort hinges on unreliable Egypt -- Jack Detsch, Al-Monitor

New Threat to the U.S.: the Axis of Autocracy. Russia and China had a vicious split in the 1960s. Now they are in a budding bromance. -- Hal Brands, Bloomberg

Why America Just Got Serious about Sanctioning Russia -- Sergey Aleksashenko, National Interest

A very potent protest movement is emerging in Armenia -- Anna Ohanyan, Al Jazeera

The Changing Face of the Country -- Spiegel Online

Cubans sceptical of new president's promises -- Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera

How Chinese gangs are laundering drug money through Vancouver real estate -- Sam Cooper, Global News

Collapse of Russia-Saudi Oil Deal Could Push Prices Down -- Meghan L. O’Sullivan, Bloomberg

TIME's 100 List Of The World's Most Influential People Of 2018 (Putin Did Not Make The List)

Photographs by Peter Hapak for TIME

Time: How We Chose the 2018 TIME 100 List of the World's Most Influential People

One of the most stirring moments in this year’s billion-dollar blockbuster Black Panther, whose director, Ryan Coogler, and lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, are both on this year’s TIME 100, comes early in the film. A terrorist attack has upended the kingdom of Wakanda. As Boseman’s T’Challa returns to take the throne, his mother, played by Angela Bassett, reassures him, “My son, it is your time.”

TIME’s annual list of the world’s most influential people is a designation of individuals whose time, in our estimation, is now. The TIME 100 isn’t a measure of power, though many on the list wield it. Nor is it a collection of milestones accumulated. As our staff considers candidates, we often find ourselves wowed by those with stunning lifetime achievements. But editorial director Dan Macsai, maestro of the TIME 100, brings us back to the key question: Was this their year?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The top 100 list is here .... TIME 100 List of the World's Most Influential People Of 2018.

Update: Hmmmm .... Russian President Putin did not make the list .... Are we done with Russiagate? TIME leaves Putin off ‘100 most influential’ list (RT).

U.S. Drone Base In Niger Is Half-Finished




New York Times: A Shadowy War’s Newest Front: A Drone Base Rising From Saharan Dust

AIR BASE 201, Niger — Rising from a barren stretch of African scrubland, a half-finished drone base represents the newest front line in America’s global shadow war.

At its center, hundreds of Air Force personnel are feverishly working to complete a $110 million airfield that, when finished in the coming months, will be used to stalk or strike extremists deep into West and North Africa, a region where most Americans have no idea the country is fighting.

Near the nascent runway, Army Green Berets are training Nigerien forces to carry out counterterrorism raids or fend off an enemy ambush — like the one that killed four American soldiers near the Mali border last fall.

Taken together, these parallel missions reflect a largely undeclared American military buildup outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, often with murky authorities and little public attention, unfolding in remote places like Yemen, Somalia and, increasingly, West Africa.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Niger's Defense Minister wants these drones to be armed .... Niger Defense Minister Wants The U.S. To Deploy Armed Drones Against Militants (November 1, 2017).


AFP: More than 20 dead in Nicaragua protests: rights group

Managua (AFP) - More than 20 people have been killed in a clashes between Nicaraguan police and demonstrators in a wave of protests over pension reform, a local human rights body said Sunday.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said it was still trying to verify figures, but that at least 20 people had been killed since protests erupted in the central American country on Wednesday over plans by President Daniel Ortega to reform the nation's pension system.

"We are dealing with more than 20 dead, but we are verifying because there is a lot of misinformation, the situation is really serious and beyond our possibilities to confirm," the Center's director Vilma Nunez told AFP.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: University students, the young, etc. were always the base of support for Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas. No more now.

More News On The Growing Unrest In Nicaragua

The Latest: Pope calls for peace amid Nicaragua protests -- AP
Nicaragua’s Ortega agrees to talk as deadly protests rage on -- AP
Journalist among over 2 dozen killed in Nicaragua unrest -- AP
Nicaragua's Ortega offers benefits rethink as protest death toll rises -- Reuters
At least 10 killed as unrest intensifies in Nicaragua -- Al Jazeera
Nicaragua: Reporter shot dead during live broadcast of protests -- DW
Nicaragua reporter killed during Facebook Live amid unrest. -- BBC
Pope calls for end to violence in Nicaragua after 25 killed -- The Guardian
Nicaragua's pension reform protests turn deadly -- DW
Pope calls for end to deadly violence in Nicaragua after protests -- Reuters

Opposition Leaders Arrested In Armenia. After Ten Days Protests Continue To Grow







Armenia: Opposition leader Pashinian detained after abortive meeting with PM

The newly elected prime minister of Armenia has walked out of a live broadcast meeting immediately after it began. Police later arrested opposition leader Nikol Pashinian.

Armenian security forces clashed with protesters after Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan walked out of a meeting with opposition leader Nikol Pashinian on Sunday, with Pashinian being subsequently arrested.

The failed meeting came after tens of thousands of people held 10 days of rolling protests against Sargsyan's attempt to maintain his grip on power.

Read more ....

More News On The Growing Unrest In Armenia

Armenia Detains 3 Opposition Leaders Amid Protests -- New York Times
Armenian police detain almost 200 in protests -- Reuters
Armenia unrest: Police detain protest leader Nikol Pashinyan -- BBC
Armenia: Tens of thousands call for PM Serzh Sargsyan to step down after 'power grab' -- DW
Armenian opposition leader detained amid political unrest -- The Guardian
Armenia unrest: Police detain protest leader Nikol Pashinyan -- BBC
Armenian opposition leader Pashinyan detained at protest -- Al Jazeera
Armenia opposition leader detained after failed talks -- AFP
Armenian protest leader detained amid mass demonstrations -- CNN
Police start dispersing rally in Yerevan -- TASS
Armenian PM suspends talks with opposition leader -- TASS

Islamic State Claims Credit For Today's Suicide Attack At A Voter Registration Center In Kabul That Killed 57





BBC: Afghanistan: Kabul voter centre suicide attack kills 52

A suicide bomb attack at a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 52 people, officials say.

The dead include 21 women and five children, killed when the blast hit the queue outside. A further 112 people were injured.

The Islamic State group (IS) said it had carried out the attack.

Voter registration began this month for legislative elections which are due to take place in October.

IS's mouthpiece said a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt had targeted the centre, which is in the Dashte Barchi area of western Kabul.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Suicide Attack In Kabul

The Latest: Toll from Kabul bombing climbs to 57 dead -- AP
Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital -- AP
Islamic State claims responsibility for attack in Kabul, killing more than 50 -- ABC News Online
Blast at election center in Afghan capital kills dozens -- Reuters
Islamic State claims responsibility for Kabul blast: group's AMAQ news agency -- Reuters
Afghanistan: Kabul suicide bomb kills dozens -- DW
Dozens dead in bombing at Kabul voter registration centre -- The Guardian
Suicide bombing kills at least 48 at Kabul voter ID site -- UPI
'Nobody will vote': attack on Afghan election centre leaves 48 dead -- AFP
48 killed, 112 injured in Kabul suicide blast – health official (VIDEO) -- RT

World News Briefs -- April 22, 2018



Al Jazeera: Afghanistan: 54 dead in attacks on voter registration centres

At least 54 people killed in bombings targeting voter registration centres in Kabul and Baghlan province, officials say.

Bomb attacks at voter registration centres in the Afghan capital, Kabul, and in Baghlan province have killed at least 54 people and wounded more than a hundred others, health officials said.

Kabul's acting police chief, Mohammad Daoud Amin, said an assailant detonated his explosives at the doorway of an ID distribution centre in the capital on Sunday, killing 48 people

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syria: OPCW takes samples from alleged attack site in Douma.

Syria 'chemical' attack: Experts finally visit Douma site. Chemical weapons experts collect samples from Syrian city. Chemical weapons experts collect samples from Syrian city.

Syrian military pummels IS-held districts in Damascus.

Syria government advances as rebels evacuate Qalamoun area.

Syrian rebels surrender more territory outside Damascus.

Evacuated Syria rebels, civilians head to Afrin.

Saudi-led coalition air raid kills 20 Yemeni civilians: residents.

Saudi King reportedly hides in military bunker as Palace Guards fight toy drone.

Saudi drone enthusiasts to require permit after 'palace incident'.

Qatari fighter jets endanger Emirati passenger plane – UAE officials.

Iranian general threatens to 'annihilate' Israel.

Iran threatens to 'vigorously' resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal.

Top Iranian diplomat: Options if US pulls out of nuclear accord are 'not pleasant'.

Iran would talk prisoners if US shows respect: Zarif.

Palestinian scholar killed in Kuala Lumpur, family blames Mossad. Fadi al-Batsh killing: Israel dismisses involvement.

ASIA

Afghan Army: Dozens of militants killed in operations.

Trump says North Korea nuclear crisis 'long way from conclusion'. Trump praises North Korea's 'progress' as expert warns against optimism.

North Korea: 3 U.S. detainees could soon be released.

Report: North Korea executed six for leaking phone numbers.

Chinese, Indian leaders to meet this week. India's Modi to visit China this week as rapprochement gathers pace.

Two killed in sectarian attack in southwestern Pakistan.

Gunfight in west India kills 14 suspected rebels.

India to introduce death penalty for child rapists.

AFRICA

15 militants killed in anti-jihadist operation in Mali: army.

South African president appeals for calm after violent protests.

Calm in Madagascar as troops deployed to quell violent protests.

Libyan oil pipeline attacked by 'terrorist group': source.

Mauritanian opposition to contest upcoming polls.

Somalia warns Dubai Ports World against violating its sovereignty.

Zimbabwe nurses end strike, challenge dismissal in court.

Mozambique prays for rain as water shortages hit country’s poor.

EUROPE

Armenia unrest: Police detain protest leader Nikol Pashinyan.

Tens of thousands protest in Hungary against Viktor Orban. Hungarians protest PM Orban for second week.

Macron to visit U.S. as Europe pressures Trump on Iran deal.

Germany's Angela Merkel meets India's Narendra Modi amid industry worries.

Syria airstrikes violated international law: German parliamentary report.

Putin Russia's most trusted politician, but approval falling.

Basque separatists' apology fails to appease victims.

Russia adds Google IPs to registry of banned sites.

Queen Elizabeth II marks 92 years with celebrity concert.

AMERICAS

Trump's travel ban faces U.S. Supreme Court showdown.

Trump casts doubt on legality of special counsel Mueller.

Sessions warned White House he could quit if Trump fired Rosenstein: report.

Paraguay’s Mario Abdo Benitez expected to win presidential election.

Nicaragua launches deadly crackdown on anti-government protests. Five people die as anti-government protests spread across Nicaragua.

Nicaragua reporter killed during Facebook Live amid unrest.

Underlining alliance, Venezuela's Maduro visits new Cuban leader.

Nude gunman kills four at Tennessee waffle house.

Former presidents, friends, family honor Barbara Bush.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Iraq says its strikes in Syria killed 36 IS militants.

Military strikes target ISIS terrorists in Syria, Iraq.

Trump appeals decision blocking transfer of combatant John Doe.

Returning ISIS members pose potential chemical weapons risk to Canada: internal government documents.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin hints that he'll travel to China for trade talks after tensions over tariffs.

China's ZTE seeks resolution of U.S. export ban.

EU and Mexico reach 'agreement in principle' to modernize free trade deal.

World Bank shareholders approve $13 bln capital increase.

The richest 1% are on track to control two-thirds of the world’s wealth by 2030.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- April 22, 2018

As storm clouds gather in the background multiple B-2 Spirit aircraft land for aircraft recovery Aug. 24, 2016 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The B-2s low-observable, or “stealth,” characteristics give it the ability to penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most-valued, heavily defended targets while avoiding adversary detection, tracking and engagement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

The Warzone/The Drive: Huge Strategic Exercise Is Underway With Half The B-2 Fleet Airborne Over The U.S. (Updated)

A series of strategic aircraft movements, including the congregation of a dozen KC-10s tankers, signaled a major operation was underway.

It started around 4pm PST when no less than a dozen KC-10 tankers began to pop up over the central United States. Around the same time, spotters in Minneapolis-St. Paul looked up to see a quartet of B-2 bombers barreling their way towards the southwest, their contrails streaking across the sky. It seems that two other groups of B-2s, another four-ship formation and a two-ship formation, followed shortly after. That is half the B-2 fleet in the air together at one time—something was clearly going on.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- April 22, 2018

South Korea Says North Agrees to U.S. Military Presence in the Peninsula -- Newsweek

Russia calls on U.S., South Korea to cut military activity after North Korean move -- Reuters

Xi Jinping claims progress on national security in meeting of secretive commission -- South China Morning Post

China deploys new missile seen as 'Guam Express' -- Nikkei Asian Review

China: No Military Aim of Corridor Project With Pakistan -- VOA

Russia Put Up A Smoke Screen To Hide Delivery of S-300 SAMs To Syria According To Claim -- Warzone/The Drive

US Strikes on Syria Promoted Russian Weapons - Military Specialist -- Sputnik

Proton Launches Russian Military Communications Satellite -- Space.com

Russia’s Shipbuilding Program: Postponed Blue-Water Ambitions -- Ihor Kabanenko, RCD

Australia’s new military leadership: a view from America -- Nathan Finney, The Strategist

Trump sees big arms sales as quick fix for Japan trade deficit -- Nikkei Asian Review

Mexico cleared to buy Seahawk helicopters -- Defense News

Forces plan rule changes as 15 per cent of Canada’s regular military unable to deploy -- National Post

German soldier must be reimbursed for luxury cruise, court rules -- DW

Germany shouldn’t buy the F-35, Europe needs military independence – Airbus Defense CEO -- RT

America's F-35s, F-15s and F/A-18s Will Soon Have a New Bomb to Drop -- National Interest

Navy, Marine Leadership Looking at LPD Flight II Missiles, Additional Virginia-class Buys -- USNI News

Congress members call on US Army to buy Iron Dome -- Globes

Pentagon Aims to Win Global Race for New Hypersonic Technologies -- Military.com

A Small Part Is Causing Big Problems For The Army’s Apache Fleet -- Task & Purpose

Goal of 80,000 Recruits Won't Be Met, Army Secretary Says -- Military.com

Strong US economy hurting Army recruitment, military officials say -- FOX News

Army lowers recruiting goal but leaders say more soldiers are staying on -- CBS/AP

Lawmaker: Is the Army Paying Too Much for its New Ultra-Light Vehicle? -- Kit Up!

Trump VA pick faces challenge to convince senators he’s ready for job -- The Hill

White House announces new deputy national security advisor -- Defense News

The US Military Has A Satellite Problem -- Newsy

Global Military Drone Market to Reach $13B by 2024 -- Rotor & Wing

Military vet sets out to make world's strongest bullet-proof vest -- FOX News

Report: Fallen Air Force Tech Sgt. Approved for Medal of Honor -- Military.com

CIA declassifies memo on nominee's handling of interrogation tapes -- The Hill

The CIA Is Getting a Private-Sector Makeover -- Bloomberg

CIA Discrimination Against Disabled Officers Is Hurting the U.S. -- Daily Beast

Red lines and military strikes: Media coverage of the Syrian war -- Al Jazeera

Drones Level the Battlefield for Extremists -- Alexander Harper, RCD

In His First Act As President Cuba's Diaz-Canel Receives Venezuelan President Maduro

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel (R) speaks to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the Revolution Palace in Havana, Cuba April 21, 2018. Ernesto Mastrascusa/Pool via Reuters

Reuters: Underlining alliance, Venezuela's Maduro visits new Cuban leader

HAVANA (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro became on Saturday the first foreign leader to meet with Cuba’s Miguel Diaz-Canel since he became president of the communist-run island this week, underscoring the importance of the Venezuelan-Cuban alliance.

Diaz-Canel, 58, was sworn in on Thursday as president to succeed his mentor Raul Castro, 86, in a transition designed to continue rather than change the one-party socialist system, one of the last in the world.

Maduro flew to Havana the following day to congratulate him and map out further cooperation between the two countries that became strategic allies in 2000 with the rise to power in Venezuela of socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

“We come to renew hope, to renew dreams and ... above all, to visualize the 10 years ahead,” Maduro told Cuban state-run media shortly before meeting with Diaz-Canel in the Palace of the Revolution.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Cuba's new 'babysaur' meets Venezuela's dinosaur .... what more can I say.

Night Stalker Choppers Conduct Low-Flying Exercises Of Lower Manhattan


Warzone/The Drive: Night Stalker Choppers Freak Out Manhattan With Nighttime Low-Level Training Exercise

The training mission caused confusion and criticism as helicopters went zipping down the city's streets as part of an apparent mock raid.

Residents of lower Manhattan in New York City got a bit of a scare recently as MH-60 Black Hawk and MH-6 Little Bird helicopters from the U.S. Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment went zooming between skyscrapers as part of a training exercise. But it's hardly the first time the U.S. military, and the Night Stalkers in particular, have caused a stir with similar so-called "realistic urban training" events, or RUTs.

This particular exercise occurred overnight on April 17-18, 2018 and involved at least two MH-60s and two MH-6s, likely carrying additional special operators. According to witnesses, there may have been two additional MH-6 helicopters as well. A subsequent statement from the New York Police Department said that the activities would be confined to areas around the Verrazano and Brooklyn Bridges, as well as near Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

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WNU Editor: Ten B-2 bombers flying around Middle America on Thursday, and now this exercise in lower Manhattan .... something is up.

Will Senator John McCain Sink The Nomination Of Gina Haspel As CIA Director?

Sen. Jon McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been away from the Capitol battling cancer, is the most closely watched figure in the debate over GIna Haspel's nomination to lead the CIA. (Melina Mara / The Washington Post)

L.A. Times: John McCain was tortured as a POW in Vietnam. Will he help sink CIA nominee implicated in torture program?

Activists seeking to derail President Trump's nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA are looking to Sen. John McCain to cast the deciding vote against her — assuming he is well enough to return to Washington.

The 81-year-old Republican was diagnosed with brain cancer in July and last cast a vote in the Senate on early December before he returned home to Arizona for treatment. He underwent surgery in Phoenix for an intestinal infection on April 15.

Haspel's critics are counting on McCain to speak out against her nomination, even if he can't cast a vote on the Senate floor, cementing his legacy as the country's most prominent critic of torture as he faces the twilight of his career.

"Sen. McCain is essential," said Matt Hawthorne, policy director for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. "He has more moral leadership on the issue of torture than anyone."

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WNU Editor: When it comes to Senator John McCain anything is possible. But from what I have read so far, much of the intel community appears to be backing Gina Haspel's nomination. Will Sen. John McCain decide to go against what the intel community wants and sink the nomination of the agency's first female CIA Director ..... we shall see.

Special Ops Team And Their Stealthy Boats Jump Out Of A C-17 (Video)



The Warzone/The Drive: Watch This Special Ops Team Toss Their Stealthy Boats And Themselves Out Of A C-17

Special Warfare Combat-craft Crewmen and their Combat Craft Assault boats perform the ultimate high-dive out the back of a USAF cargo jet.

We have become somewhat accustomed to seeing special operators jump out of an aircraft and into the ocean along with their rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs), but this week the Navy treated us to a very special video that takes airborne maritime insertion tactics to a whole new level. The video shows Special Warfare Combat-craft Crewmen (SWCCs) of Special Boat Team 20 leaping out of a C-17 behind two of their stealthy Combat Craft Assault (CCA) boats as part of a training evolution. In total, 11 SWCCs followed their rides into the water below.

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WNU editor: I always find it uncomfortable watching people jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane. The video is still awesome.

Is the F-35 Program Really Worth $1,500,000,000,000

Department of Defense

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: Is the F-35 Really Worth the $1,500,000,000,000 Price Tag?

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is estimated to be the most expensive weapons system in human history, based on its projected lifetime cost of $1.5 trillion dollars ($406 billion for the aircraft, the rest in lifetime operating costs)—and that’s before we factor in the endless cost overruns.

One could argue there is a certain logic to this. The United States spends greater sums on the military than any other country (though some spend a greater percentage of GDP), and it has emphasized air power as its chief military instrument in recent decades. Additionally, different variants of the F-35 are prepared to equip the Air Force, Navy and Marines through most of the twenty-first century, and the type is also slated to serve in the air forces or navies of Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and Turkey—with more countries likely to join the list.

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WNU Editor: A good review on the F-35 program. And yes .... this $1.5 trillion number is probably going to be higher in the years to come.

F-22s Played A Bigger Role In Syria Than Initially Reported

© Flickr/ US Air Force

Sputnik: Here's What America's Fifth-Gen F-22s Were Doing During Failed Strike on Syria

US Air Force Central Command has altered its account of the aircraft and missile systems used during April 14's airstrikes, sowing more confusion among defense observers.

F-22 Raptors "played an integral role" during last Saturday's attack in Syria, US. Air Force Central Command spokesman Capt. Mark Graff has said, according to the Air Force Times.

Last week, Joint Staff director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters that since US air assets did not enter Syria's air defense zone, F-22s were not used to accompany bombers. He also reported that the US's B1-B bombers launched 19 of its new JASSM-ER cruise missile, making it the first time the new but troublesome Lockheed Martin standoff weapon was deployed.

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WNU Editor: As I had speculated a few days ago, my gut told me they were involved .... Why Was The F-22 Not Involved In The Military Strike Against Syria Last Week? (April 18, 2018)

You Will Not See This On The News

Syria And Russia Claim They Recovered Two U.S. Cruise Missiles That Did Not Explode In Last Weeks Missile Strikes

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Zero Hedge: Russia Claims It Captured Trump's "Nice And New And Smart" Missiles After Syrian Strike

Two of President Trump’s “nice and new and smart” cruise missiles were recovered non-detonated by the Syrian Armed Forces on April 14, one day after the US, the UK and France fired more than 100 rockets into Syria according to the Russian TASS new agency. The U.S.-led missile strike targeted what they assumed were Syrian chemical weapon facilities in response to the April 07 gas attack in the Syrian city of Douma.

And now the reverse engineering of America's "new and smart" technology can begin: an unnamed source within the Syrian military confirmed to TASS that the cruise missiles were sent to Russia on April 18.

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WNU Editor: If the Syrian government had retrieved two U.S. cruise missiles intact, they would be broadcasting images of these missiles to everyone.

Tweets For Today






One Of Dance Music’s Greatest Military Tributes



Task & Purpose: Before He Died, Avicii Gave Us One Of Dance Music’s Greatest Military Tributes

DJ and recording artist Avicci died on Friday in Muscat, Oman, of undetermined causes, Variety reported today.

EDM is not a musical style typically associated with patriotic themes, which tend to be more the province of country artists and metal bands. But with the video for “Hey Brother,” released in 2013, the Swedish-born musician, born Tim Bergling, gave us an unexpectedly moving tribute to the U.S. armed forces.

Bathed in gauzy light, the video depicts a Mayberry vision of America in the late sixties, with two young brothers riding bikes and catching fireflies. As the younger boy digs through a box of his father’s military keepsakes, scenes from the Vietnam War are intercut with the action back home. Sparklers from a Memorial Day barbecue fade into old footage of napalm being dropped and artillery rounds fired. A penny flattened on a stretch of railroad tracks dissolves into the brass button on a Marine’s dress blues as he prepares to bury a fallen comrade in a local military cemetery. And as the song’s inescapable fanfare blares, we see another Marine playing taps.

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Picture Of The Day

Residents walk through the ruins of their houses in the Islamic city of Marawi, Philippines. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Returning to Marawi after Islamic State (Reuters).

Drone Shot Down Near Saudi Royal Palace Sparks Coup Fears



Reuters: Saudi security shoots down recreational drone near royal palace

DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian security forces said they had shot down a recreational drone in the capital on Saturday after online videos showing gunfire in a neighborhood where royal palaces are located sparked fears of possible political unrest.

The Riyadh police spokesman, quoted by the official Saudi News Agency (SPA), said a security screening point noticed the flying of a small unauthorized recreational drone at 7:50 p.m. local time (1650 GMT), leading security forces to deal with it according to their orders and instructions.

There were no casualties, and King Salman was not at his palace at the time, a senior Saudi official told Reuters.

“The king was at his farm in Diriya,” the official said, naming another area of the capital.

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WNU Editor: A lot of nervous security people in Riyadh.

More News On Reports Of A Drone Being Shot Down Near The Saudi Royal Palace

Fears of a coup are sparked in Saudi Arabia after heavy gunfire erupts near the Royal Palace - but officials claim it was only guards shooting down a drone that flew too close to the King Salman's residence -- Daily Mail
Saudi forces shoot down 'toy drone' near royal palaces -- AFP
Confusion erupts after a 'small, drone-type' object was reportedly shot down near the king's palace in Saudi Arabia -- Business Insider
Saudi forces shoot down 'toy drone' near royal palace -- Aljazeera
Saudi Arabia Says Toy Drone Shot Down in Capital Riyadh -- New York Times
What's Happening in Saudi Arabia? Gunfire Erupts Near Royal Palace -- Newsweek
Gunfire Heard At Saudi Royal Palace In Riyadh As Rumors Of Attempted Coup Mount (Updated) -- The Warzone/The Drive

Saturday, April 21, 2018

U.S. Admiral: Only 'War' Could Stop China From Controlling South China Sea (Update)

Chinese amphibious transport dock Changbai Shan fires its close-in weapons system at simulated air targets during a maritime training exercise in the South China Sea, April 18, 2018. Liu Jian/China Military Online

Newsweek: Only 'War' Could Stop China From Controlling South China Sea, U.S. Military Commander Says

The head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command told lawmakers that China has become powerful enough to enforce its vast territorial claims across the disputed South China Sea and only an armed conflict would be able to stop this.

Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson, who has been nominated for head of U.S. Pacific Command, submitted the written remarks for his hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. He said that China's expanding military presence, including secret island bases, in the waters of the Asia Pacific have given its People's Liberation Army (PLA) a step toward total dominance of the region, where countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contest China's expansive, self-proclaimed maritime borders.

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Previous Post: U.S. Admiral: The Chinese Military Now Controls The South China Sea (April 20, 2018)

WNU Editor: A blunt assessment from Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson.

China Is Bringing Its Drone And Aircraft Carrier Programs Together

Type 003
This display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution (China's official military museum) in 2016 shows a nuclear-powered carrier with stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Oedo Soldier

Popular Science: China is building drone planes for its aircraft carriers

They're robotics wingmen for China's carrier pilots.

The Chinese military is bringing its drone and aircraft carrier programs together, pulling unmanned aerial systems onto carriers as robotic wingmen for pilots.

Shi Wen, the chief engineer of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC)'s attack drone family, told the Global Times that China is working on drones capable of flying from aircraft carriers. This program would be China's response to the U.S. Navy's UCLASS program, which proved drones' ability to take off and land from aircraft carriers, and the U.S. MQ-25 Stingray program, which will deploy refueling tanker drones to carriers in the coming years.

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WNU Editor:  The Chinese are dreaming big.

China Carries Out Aircraft Carrier Drills In The Pacific For The First Time As Taiwan Tensions Rise



Japan Times: In first, Chinese aircraft carrier performs drills in Pacific, Japanese Defense Ministry says

The Defense Ministry in Tokyo confirmed Saturday that for the first time China has conducted a drill in the Pacific with its sole operating aircraft carrier.

The ministry said it had detected several apparent fighter jets being launched from the Liaoning, which was sailing eastward with six other Chinese Navy vessels some 350 km (over 200 miles) south of Japan’s westernmost island of Yonaguni, in Okinawa Prefecture, on Friday morning.

On Saturday, the carrier and its escorts passed through the Miyako Strait between the islands of Miyako and Okinawa, venturing northwest toward the East China Sea.

The Chinese government had earlier notified vessels in the area of plans to conduct the drill, it said.

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WNU Editor: A lot of messages being sent around with these exercises.

More News On China Carrying Out Aircraft Carrier Drills In The Pacific For The First Time As Taiwan Tensions Rise

China carries out aircraft carrier drills in Pacific as Taiwan tensions rise -- AFP
China navy drills in Pacific as tension with Taiwan rises -- Reuters
China's aircraft carrier formation conducts exercises in West Pacific -- Xinhuanet
Live-fire drills shows PLA's amphibious capabilities: expert -- ECNS.cn
Taiwan monitors politically charged voyage of Chinese aircraft carrier -- Taiwan News
Taiwan Calls Chinese Military Drills a Threat to Region -- VOA/AP