Monday, September 25, 2017

President Trump Adds Travel Restrictions On North Korea, Venezuela In A Sweeping New Ban

FOX News: Trump approves updated travel restrictions on 8 countries, adding North Korea and Venezuela to list

President Trump on Sunday signed off on updated travel restrictions that would limit entry for people coming to the U.S. from eight countries, as the existing travel ban is set to expire.

The new travel restrictions, set to take effect Oct. 18, would slow or limit entry from citizens of North Korea, Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela were not listed in the earlier ban.

Iraqi citizens do not face the same travel restrictions, but will "be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks" to U.S. security, the White House said.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump Adding Travel Restrictions On North Korea, Venezuela In A Sweeping New Ban

Trump replaces travel ban with new restrictions -- AP
Trump slaps travel restrictions on North Korea, Venezuela in sweeping new ban -- Reuters
North Korea, Venezuela, Chad among 8 countries on new US travel ban -- AFP
White House expands travel ban, restricting visitors from eight countries -- Washington Post
Trump Restricts Visas From Eight Countries as Travel Order Expires -- NBC
Trump's Revised Travel Ban Opens New Stage in Legal Fight -- Bloomberg

Seven Stories On Why Many In The U.S. Military Love The A-10

Deadly force: A line up of A-10s at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. Planes of this type will arrive in Kuwait for combat operations next week

Task & Purpose: 7 Stories That Remind Us Why Troops Love The A-10 Warthog

Every generation of American warriors gets the iconic aircraft it deserves, from the legendary B-52 Stratofortress to the F-14A Tomcat, and the service members and veterans who answered the call of duty after 9/11 are no exception. But the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, the workhorse of U.S. close air support in the skies for decades, and lovingly nicknamed “Warthog” by American troops, is more than just an aggro 30mm cannon with wings — it’s the guardian angel of U.S. and partner forces on the front lines of the Global War on Terror in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

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WNU Editor: The end for the A-10 may come sooner rather than later .... Air Force could ground A-10s as early as FY18 as life of wings runs out (Defense News).

Remembering The Time When North Korea Tried To Kill The South Korean President

Images from an April 15 military parade in Pyongyang show what appear to be North Korean 'commandos' carrying AK-47 assault rifles with attached grenade-launchers. But they are really 'helical' magazines designed to store bullets in a spiral shape

Sebastien Roblin, Scout Warrior: How North Korean Commandos Tried to Kill South Korean President

Recently the South Korean defense minister caused a stir when he announced the military was forming a “decapitation unit” of airborne special

Recently the South Korean defense minister caused a stir when he announced the military was forming a “decapitation unit” [3] of airborne special operators to target Kim Jong-un in the event of a conflict. While Seoul has long been exploring such a contingency, its prominent public airing is undoubtedly meant as a pressure tactic to cause Kim to reconsider how he might best ensure his own survival.

South Koreans are quite familiar with the stress caused by the threat of “decapitation.” That is because South Korean presidents have been the target of two major assassination attempts orchestrated by Pyongyang, both of which resulted in dozens of deaths.

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WNU Editor: A reminder on the "who and what" North Korea is.

These Are The Weapons That The U.S. Military Will Use Against North Korea?

US intelligence assessments say Pyongyang still faces hurdles in creating a nuclear capable missile [Reuters]

Kyle Mizokami, National Interest: Every Part of the U.S. Military That Could Get Dragged Into a War with North Korea

The United States has substantial air, land, and sea forces stationed in South Korea, as well as several units based in Japan and the western Pacific earmarked for a Korean contingency. Together, these forces far exceed the firepower of North Korea’s armed forces and represent a powerful deterrent not just against Pyongyang but any potential adversary in the region.

The first U.S. forces that would be involved in a North-South Korean conflict are those currently based in South Korea. On the ground, the U.S. Army rotates a new armored brigade into South Korea every nine months—currently the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Each brigade is manned by 3,500 soldiers and consists of three combined arms battalions, one cavalry (reconnaissance) battalion, one artillery battalion, one engineer and one brigade support battalion. Armored brigade combat teams typically consist of approximately 100 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 100 M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and eighteen M109-series self-propelled howitzers.

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WNU Editor: The South Koreans are building up their own arsenal .... South Korea to Boost Military Arsenal With Nuclear Submarines, Spy Satellites (Sputnik).

U.S. Boosts Surveillance In Syria After Russian Threats

© Photo: Facebook / Russian Defense Ministry

CNN: US boosts surveillance amid Russian threats in Syria

(CNN)US forces in Syria have increased surveillance of Russian troop locations following Moscow's suggestion that US troops could get caught in Russian military operations, according to a US official directly familiar with US military planning.

While the US has kept a close eye on Russian troop locations for the past several months, the need for increased surveillance has become critical given the proximity of US and Russian units in eastern Syria.

The goal is to ensure that US forces continue to know the location of Russian forces, especially those in eastern Syria, at all times, said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Surveillance and reconnaissance levels routinely fluctuate based on threats.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Russians are doing the same (i.e. surveillance) .... Russia Reveals Footage of US Forces Near Daesh Positions North of Deir-ez-Zor (Sputnik)

Tweets For Today

Cartoon Roundup ....

Picture Of The Day

Electoral officials sort ballot papers after the conclusion of voting in the general election (Bundestagswahl) in Cologne, Germany. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Merkel wins German election (Reuters)

Russian Lieutenant General Killed By Islamic State Shelling Near Deir ez-Zor, Syria

Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov (pictured) has been killed by an ISIS mortar strike in Syria (Daily Mail)

RT: Russian lieutenant-general killed in ISIS shelling near Deir ez-Zor, Syria - MoD

Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov, of the Russian armed forces, has been killed after coming under shelling from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants near Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced.

In its statement, the ministry said that Asapov was at a command outpost manned by Syrian troops, assisting commanders in the liberation of the city of Deir ez-Zor.

Asapov has been described as one of the senior Russian military advisers in Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The last time a Russian Lieutenant General was killed in action was in 2002 (General Igor Shifrin in Chechnya) .... The Russian Generals’ Funeral March (Statistics and Infographics 2.0)

More News On A Russian Lieutenant General Being Killed In Action By The Islamic State In Syria

Russian Lieutenant-General Killed in Daesh Shelling in Syria - MoD -- Sputnik
Russian general killed in IS shelling in Syria -- DW
Top Russian general is killed by ISIS mortar strike in Syria as he helps loyalist Assad troops fight to take city -- Daily Mail
Russian General Killed In Syria Fighting, Defense Ministry Says -- Radio Free Europe
Russian General Killed in Syria -- VOA
Daesh shelling kills Russian general near Syria's Deir el-Zour, defense ministry says -- Daily Sabah
Russian General killed in IS shelling in Syria: defense ministry -- ecns

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Iran Now Using Drones To Destroy Islamic State Bases In Syria

Press TV (Iran): Iranian drones destroy Daesh bases in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) drones have destroyed several Daesh bases on the Syrian border with Iraq.

According to an IRINN TV report on Sunday, during the IRGC operations carried out in Syria’s eastern Dayr al-Zawr province, many terrorists were killed in the attacks, which also destroyed large amounts of terrorists' equipment and weapons.

The report noted that the attacks were part of operations aimed at clearing the Syria-Iraq border of the Daesh terrorists group.

Read more ....

Update #1: Iran strikes IS bases on Syria-Iraq border with drones (ABC News/AP)
Update #2: Iran says Guards attack Daesh with drones in Eastern Syria (Middle East Monitor)

WNU Editor: The Iranians have really upped their drone game.

Is China Growing Frustrated With North Korea

Washington Post: China watches in frustration as North Korea crisis enters dangerous spiral

BEIJING — The view from China could hardly be much worse: the leaders of North Korea and the United States threatening to rain down total destruction on each other, while U.S. bombers and fighters stage a show of military might close to China’s shores.

In public, China’s foreign ministry has calmly advocated for restraint and warned Pyongyang and Washington not add to fuel to the fire. But behind closed doors, experts said Sunday, Beijing is as frustrated with North Korea, and with the situation, as it has ever been.

As North Korea’s dominant trading partner, China is widely seen as the key to solving the crisis, yet experts say its influence over Pyongyang has never been weaker.

Unwilling to completely pull the plug, it has nevertheless agreed to a stiff package of sanctions at the United Nations and implemented them with unprecedented determination, experts say.

So far, all that has achieved is to alienate its neighbor and erstwhile friend.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have been saying the same thing about the Chinese and how they view North Korea for the past few months. The difference is that the Washington Post does a better job in explaining why. Mind you .... sometimes I do wonder if the Chinese are playing a double game .... North Korea-China trade volume increases on-year despite strong global sanctions against regime (Arirang).

The Pentagon Has Gone All Out To Eliminate The Threat Of Drones From Groups Like The Islamic State

American Special Operations forces inspect a drone used by Islamic State militants to drop explosives on Iraqi forces in Mosul in January. Credit Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

New York Times: Pentagon Tests Lasers and Nets to Combat a Vexing Foe: ISIS Drones

WASHINGTON — At the vast, windswept White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico earlier this year, nearly a dozen military contractors armed with laser guns, high-tech nets and other experimental systems met to tackle one of the Pentagon’s most vexing counterterrorism conundrums: how to destroy the Islamic State’s increasingly lethal fleet of drones.

The militant group has used surveillance drones on the battlefield for more than two years. But an increase in deadly attacks since last fall — mostly targeting Iraqi troops and Syrian militia members with small bombs or grenades, but also threatening American advisers — has highlighted the terrorists’ success in adapting off-the-shelf, low-cost technology into an effective new weapon.

The Pentagon is so alarmed by this growing threat — even as it routs the Islamic State from its strongholds in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria — that it has launched a $700 million crash program overseen by two senior Army generals to draw on the collective know-how and resources of all branches of the armed services, Silicon Valley and defense industry giants like Boeing and Raytheon to devise tactics and technology to thwart the menace.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The drone threat is becoming global. And while the Pentagon is now spending $700 million to counter the threat .... this budget is going to explode in the coming years.

Will President Trump's Decision On Iran Impact Future Talks With North Korea?

The Hill: Trump's Iran decision could shake up North Korea stand-off

President Trump’s upcoming decision on whether to toss out the landmark nuclear deal with Iran could have ripple effects half-a-world away.

Experts on both sides of the political spectrum say that whatever happens with Iran will have effects on North Korea and vice versa.

Opponents of the Iranian nuclear deal argue that Iran is watching North Korea’s belligerence to see what they might be able to get away with. Supporters of the deal, meanwhile, say scrapping it would send a signal to Pyongyang that the United States cannot be trusted in any potential future negotiations.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Everyone is saying the same thing .... that if the U.S. walks away from the Iranian nuclear deal, it would ruin any chance of bringing North Korea to the table to negotiate on what to do with its nuclear program. Even the Chinese have jumped onto this bandwagon .... China state media: Pulling out of Iran deal would set 'bad precedent' for North Korea (CNBC). But everyone is conveniently ignoring the past. When President Obama completed the Iranian nuclear deal as well as opening diplomatic relations with Cuba ..... he tried to get the North Koreans on board .... Obama Pushes North Korea Nuclear Deal(Roll Call). The North Korean response was very clear .... North Korea Rejects More Talks On The Nuclear Program (October 18, 2015). If the North Koreans said no then .... when the momentum was there for a deal .... why should they change their minds now. The simple answer is that then .... as it is now .... the North Korean leadership's focus is on preserving their regime, and having the means to extract concessions from their neighbors .... not to have talks that would take their cards off the table. To put it bluntly. The idea that after decades of hostilities the North Korea regime is going to change .... and cater to what South Korea/Japan/and the U.S. wants in some settlement on a nuclear weapons program that North Korea sees is vital for its security .... I hate to break the news .... it is not going to happen. The focus on President Trumps decision on Iran (whatever that may be) is a side show .... what everyone should really focus on is putting pressure on North Korea to change policies that they have stuck to for decades. But in the current environment .... I just do not see that happening.

The Fall Of A Media Darling Who Achieved Recognition When She Was Unmasked As A Former CIA Employee

Alan Dershowitz, FOX News: Alan Dershowitz: Valerie Plame knew exactly what she was tweeting

Valerie Plame had to know what she was doing. The unmasked former CIA officer retweeted a virulently anti-Semitic article by a well-known bigot on the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah, which she characterized as “thoughtful.” Now she's trying to make excuses, but they don't wash.

The retweeted article by Phillip Giraldi itself contains the usual anti-Semitic tropes: Jews are guilty of dual loyalty; they control politicians, the media and entertainment; they want the U.S. to fight wars for the country to which they have real allegiance – Israel; they are dangerous to America. Giraldi has been pushing this garbage for years and Plame is one of his fans.

Read more ....

Update: Valerie Plame resigns from Ploughshares Fund after tweeting anti-Semitic article (The Hill)

WNU Editor: This story is making a lot of people in the main stream media uncomfortable. My prediction .... like Cindy Sheehan who received a lot of media exposure when she protested against President Bush' war policies (but was ignored when she continued those protests against President Obama) .... Valerie Plame will soon be receiving the same treatment (if not already).

Has A Solution Been Found On Athletes Kneeling Down During The National Anthem?

CBS: Mike Tomlin explains why Steelers will stay in locker room during national anthem

The Steelers say they won't be affected by 'divisive times'.

If Sunday's early game in London between the Jaguars and Ravens is any indication, the rest of this week's action will include more player protests than we've previously seen -- all because President Trump said this at a rally on Friday night: "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now," the president said to a cheering crowd. "Out. He's fired. He's fired!"

In the hours since Trump's words, players, teams, team owners, the NFLPA, the league and former coaches and players-turned TV analysts have all criticized the president for his divisive remarks. But one team that won't take part in any pregame protests are the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Read more ....

Update: No players on the field for the national anthem at Seattle Seahawks-Tennessee Titans game (Los Angeles)

WNU Editor: It looks like saner heads are prevailing. Staying in the locker room during the national anthem will solve this controversy .... unless there are some teams that will say no and want to make a statement.

Reactions To Germany's National Election From The Political Parties Involved

Reuters: Highlights: Reactions to German national election

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office on Sunday but will have to build an uneasy coalition to form a German government after her conservatives haemorrhaged support in the face of a surge by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Following are highlights of comments and reactions:

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WNU Editor: The coalition that has ruled Germany for the past few years is no more .... and in this regard this election is a huge defeat for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The SPD .... who also suffered heavy losses in this election .... will not form a coalition government with Merkel. The FDP will .... but they do not have enough votes to form a majority. The Greens have already stated their conditions .... but I do not see any coalition building from that. The biggest winner by far .... the AFD .... and they won because of their anti-immigration platform. German politics is now entering a new era .... and for the CDU-CSU .... do not be surprised in the coming months a movement to get rid of their leader .... Angela Merkel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wins Re-Election, But German Nationalists Have Made Significant Gains

BBC: Germany election: Merkel wins fourth term, nationalists rise

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been re-elected for a fourth term while nationalists have made a historic breakthrough in federal elections, exit polls suggest.

Her conservative CDU/CSU alliance is set to remain the largest party in the parliament, with 32.5% of the vote.

Its outgoing coalition partner, the social democratic SPD, says it will go into opposition after winning 20%.

The nationalist AfD is on track to become the third party, with 13.5%.

The performance, better than forecast in opinion polls, means the right-wing, anti-Islam party will have seats in the Bundestag for the first time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Live updates can be seen here ....

German election results live: Angela Merkel's CDU largest party, record low for SPD, AfD to be third power in Bundestag -- DW
The Latest: German election: Merkel vows to form stable govt -- AP
German Election: Live Updates -- BBC
German elections 2017: Angela Merkel seeks fourth term as country heads to polls – live updates -- The Guardian
German elections 2017 - live updates -- The Independent
German elections: Will Merkel win 4th term as chancellor? Live updates -- RT

The 2017 results can be seen here .... 2017 German Election Results (Bloomberg)

More News On German Chancellor Angela Merkel Winning Re-Election

Merkel hangs on to power but bleeds support to surging far right -- Reuters
Merkel wins 4th term but nationalists surge in German vote -- AP
Angela Merkel set for fourth term as German chancellor, election poll shows -- Press Association
Highlights: Reactions to German national election -- Reuters

Who Is Responsible In Washington For Tracking Down And Securing The World's WMDs?

Radioisotope thermoelectric generators on board a US Air Force C-17, destined for disposal at the Nevada National Security Site, in 2015. USAF

The War Zone/The Drive: This Obscure DC-Area Office Helps US Special Operators Hunt Down And Secure Loose WMDs

The fusion center coordinates US military efforts to make sure the deadly weapons don't end up in the wrong hands.

As part of its new job as the lead U.S. military organization managing responses to possible crises involving weapons of mass destruction, the Pentagon’s top special operations headquarters is running a dedicated office to gather intelligence and information about these potential threats. Since President George W. Bush’s administration made the case for its invasion of Iraq, “WMDs” has become something of a dirty word, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns about hostile foreign powers and other groups getting hold such arms, including nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: From an organizational and coordination perspective .... this is probably one of the most difficult jobs in Washington.