Thursday, August 24, 2017

Why Did The UN Cyberwarfare Talks Collapse In June?

Department of State

The Guardian: Dispute along cold war lines led to collapse of UN cyberwarfare talks

Thirteen years of negotiations came to an abrupt end in June, it has emerged, because of a row over the right to self-defence in the face of attacks.

Thirteen years of negotiations at the United Nations aimed at restricting cyberwarfare collapsed in June, it has emerged, due to an acrimonious dispute that pitted Russia, China and Cuba against western countries.

The split among legal and military experts at the UN, along old cold war lines, has reinforced distrust at a time of mounting diplomatic tension over cyber-attacks, such as the 2016 hacking of the US Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computers. That break-in was allegedly coordinated by Russian intelligence and intended to assist Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Negotiations aimed at forging an international legal framework governing cybersecurity began in 2004. Experts from 25 countries, including the UK and all the other members of the UN security council, participated in the discussions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I follow the UN very closely .... and I was not aware that the cyber-warfare talks collapsed in June. Talk about low priorities.

These Are The Countries That Have More Than 1,000 US Troops Stationed

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Quartz: Mapped: Where in the world the US still has a military presence

In a speech delivered last night (Aug. 21) in Fort Meyer, Virginia, Donald Trump confirmed what was expected: he is walking back opposition to military involvement in Afghanistan, and instead sending more troops to a war that’s already cost the US some $800 billion and over 2,400 troops’ lives. After Obama failed to make good on his promise to withdraw from Afghanistan, Trump seems set to follow the same path.

This essentially confirms something the rest of the world has been suspecting for decades: Once it gets involved in a conflict, the US seems just incapable of leaving. According to the Department of Defense, the US still controls or operates 179 bases in Germany, hundreds more all over Europe, and 109 in Japan.

Read more ....

WNU editor: A few surprises .... Vietnam, Mozambique, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, etc..

What Are Sound Weapons

Ship's Serviceman 1st Class Scott D. Amberger aims a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) at an incoming small craft off the starboard bridge wing of amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a small boat attack drill. 27 January 2006

James Hamblin, The Atlantic: What Are Sound Weapons?

Attacks on Americans in Cuba are calling attention to how inaudible sound waves can alter moods and perceptions.

Earlier this month the U.S. State Department disclosed that several Havana-based diplomats have experienced “incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms.” Secretary Rex Tillerson said the incidents began last fall, calling them “health attacks.”

They were not the good kind of health attacks. Symptoms have included severe hearing loss, headaches, and problems with balance—forcing some diplomats to return to the United States. “We hold the Cuban authorities responsible for finding out who is carrying out these health attacks,” Tillerson said.

His remarks came after a search for the cause of the symptoms—also reported among Canadian diplomats living in Cuban housing—led some U.S. officials to conclude that the weapon is inaudible sonic waves.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Apparently the effects are serious .... U.S. And Canadian Diplomats In Cuba Suffered Serious Brain And Nerve Damage (August 23, 2017).

Tweets For Today

The Death of Stalin (Official Movie Trailer)

WNU Editor: I am looking forward to its release.

Picture Of The Day

A sniper of the Syrian Democratic Forces aims his weapon during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in the old city of Raqqa, Syria. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

WNU Editor: The above picture comes from this photo gallery .... Battle for Raqqa (Reuters).

Is North Korea's Economy Booming?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reacts as he inspects a test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile with Ri Pyong-chol (right). Photo: KCNA via Reuters

Asia Times: What sanctions? North Korea economy grows at fastest pace in 17 years

North Korean GDP grew 3.9% in 2016, according to the central bank of South Korea

North Korea’s economy grew at its fastest pace in 17 years in 2016, South Korea’s central bank said on Friday, despite the isolated country facing international sanctions aimed at curbing its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in North Korea last year rose 3.9% from the previous year when the economy contracted due to a drought and low commodity prices, the Bank of Korea said.

The expansion, driven by mining and energy, marked the biggest rise since a 6.1 percent gain in 1999.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The North Korean economy may be booming, but then I read these stories .... North Korea soldiers go without food after drought hits crops (UPI).

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

North Korea Releases Photos On New Missile Design

CNN: New North Korea photos reveal hidden details of missile program

(CNN)Newly released photos appear to reveal unexpected advances in North Korea's missile program, experts say, including a previously unseen type of projectile.

On Wednesday, North Korean state media KCNA announced leader Kim Jong Un had visited the country's Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Sciences.

"He instructed the institute to produce more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips by further expanding engine production process," the statement said.
But it was the photos of the inspection released by state media which missile analysts seized upon immediately.

"This is the North Koreans showing us, or at least portraying, that their solid-fuel missile program is improving at a steady rate," David Schmerler, research associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies' James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told CNN.

Read more .....

More News On North Korea Releasing Photos On A New Missile Design

North Korea photos suggest new solid-fuel missile designs -- AP
North Korea discloses diagrams of new missiles Pukguksong-3, Hwasong-13 -- UPI
North Korea releases photo appearing to show new missile designs --
North Korean media reveals missile plans as Kim orders more ICBM production -- The Asian Age

Western Europe Accounted For 1% Of Terror Victims In 2016

People gather around an impromptu memorial a day after a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain August 18, 2017. Sergio Perez, Reuters

AFP: W. Europe had less than 1% of terror victims in 2016: study

Western Europe accounted for less than one percent of the 34,676 people killed in terror attacks in 2016 and only two percent of attacks, according to a new report.

The Middle East and North Africa bore the brunt of last year's extremist violence, according to figures from the Global Terrorism Database maintained by the University of Maryland.

The report offers a different perspective after carnage in France, Britain and other European countries including Spain, where police are probing a terror cell behind attacks last week.

Western Europe suffered two percent of the attacks in 2016 -- 269 out of a total of 13,488 -- and fewer than one percent of victims: 238 out of 34,676 (0.7 percent).

In contrast, terror attacks killed 19,121 people in north Africa and the Middle East -- 55 percent of the total.

Read more ....

WNU editor: The Global Terrorism Database website is here .... Global Terrorism Database. Their study is here.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov: No Cold War Between Russia And The U.S..

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. YouTube

WNU Editor: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov remarks were reported by AP .... Russian official says US and Russia aren’t in new Cold War (AP). His remarks contradict what Russian Prime Minister Medvedev said last year .... Russian Prime Minister Medvedev: 'Russia And NATO Are Now In A New Cold War' (February 13, 2016) .... but from my point of view Sergei Ryabkov is right. I grew up during the Cold War .... and we are certainly no where near the tensions that existed during that time.

Angolans Are Electing A new President In 38 Years

Reuters: Polls close for Angolans electing first new leader in 38 years

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angolans voted in a parliamentary election on Wednesday expected to usher in the ruling party's defense minister as the first new leader for 38 years.

Joao Lourenco, who has pledged to boost growth and fight corruption, would inherit an economy mired in recession as gaping inequality, soaring inflation and high unemployment squeeze poor Angolans who have benefited little from a decades-long oil boom.

Polls closed at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) but in some remote areas where voting started late, polling station were allowed to stay open a little longer.

An unofficial result is expected by Friday. But there may be no formal announcement for two weeks as ballot boxes wend their way along pot-holed roads and dirt tracks in a country of 28 million spread across an area twice the size of France.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The results will be known on Friday at the earliest.

More News On Today's Angolan Presidential Elections

Polls Close in Angolan Election That Ends Dos Santos's Rule -- Bloomberg
Angola votes for 1st new president in nearly 4 decades -- ABC News/AP
Angolans choose new leader to replace Jose Eduardo dos Santos -- BBC News
Angolans Will Elect a New President, But Reform Seen Unlikely -- VOA
He outlasted Reagan, Castro and Gorbachev. Now Angola's 74-year-old leader is stepping down. -- Washington Post
Trump Staying the Course with Angola -- Council on Foreign Relations

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 23, 2017

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times: Korea, Afghanistan and the Never Ending War trap

While the US-backed 'Hunger Games' in South Korea plow on, a 'new strategy' for Afghanistan is really all about business. But China is already there

There are more parallels between an unfinished 1950s war in Northeast Asia and an ongoing 16-year-old war in the crossroads between Central and South Asia than meet the eye. Let’s start with North Korea.

Once again the US/South Korea Hunger Games plow on. It didn’t have to be this way.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 23, 2017

Trump's Afghan Strategy Is Different, and Braver, Than Obama's -- Meghan L. O’Sullivan, Bloomberg

Trump Goes from Afghanistan War Skeptic to True Believer -- Christopher A. Preble, National Interest

Why Are We Losing in Afghanistan? -- Daniel Byman, Lawfare

As Trump Announces Afghanistan Strategy, Here’s What the War Has Cost -- Yuval Rosenberg, Fiscal Times

Talks Reassure Israel That U.S. Wants Iran Out of Syria -- Eli Lake, Bloomberg

Understanding Kim Jong Un’s nuclear game plan -- Peter Apps, Reuters

US sanctions China, Russia companies for helping North Korea -- David Brunnstrom and Doina Chiacu, Asia Times

How Kim Jong-un Saved the World from North Korea -- Sergey Radchenko & Campbell Craig, National Interest

North Korea: Bad History -- Leon V. Sigal, 38 North

The Dark Side of China's Tech Boom -- Eugene Chow, The Diplomat

The Achilles Heel of Putin’s Regime -- Anders Åslund, Project Syndicate

Catalonia’s Fight for Independence Turns Nasty -- Mark Nayler, The Spectator

The New Nuclear Danger -- Joschka Fischer, Project Syndicate

Can Anything Stop Rural Decline? Small towns across Japan are on the verge of collapse. Whether they can do so gracefully has consequences for societies around the globe. -- Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

As global hostilities rise, Trump is no help -- Peter Apps, Reuters

World News Briefs -- August 23, 2017 (Evening Edition)

Reuters: Iraqi forces make gains in Islamic State stronghold of Tal Afar

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi forces made fresh gains on Wednesday in an offensive to dislodge Islamic State from the city of Tal Afar, a militant stronghold in the northwest of the country, the military said.

On the fourth day of the offensive, Iraqi units seized two neighborhoods on the western outskirts of the city, al-Kifah north and south, according to statements from the Iraqi joint operations command.

On Tuesday, army and counter-terrorism units broke into Tal Afar from the east and south.

The city is the latest objective in the U.S.-backed war on Islamic State, following the recapture of Mosul after a nine-month campaign that left much of the city in ruins.

Read more ....


Iran, Saudi Arabia to exchange diplomatic visits: Iranian foreign minister.

Yemen's rebel alliance unravels in Sanaa.

Iraqi forces make gains against ISIL in Tal Afar push. Iraqi troops reached the first urban areas of Tal Afar, one of ISIS' last pieces of Iraqi territory.

Iran extends reach with fight for land link to Mediterranean.

Netanyahu calls strengthening Iran’s positions in Syria 'a threat to the entire world'. Netanyahu denounces Iran 'threat' in Putin talks.

Deadly airstrikes near Sanaa, Yemen's rebel-held capital. Air raid in Yemen kills at least 35 people.

U.S. asks if Iran military sites to be checked under nuclear deal. UN atomic chief briefs US's Haley on Iran deal.

Kushner in Middle East for peace talks.

Saudi teen arrested for dancing to ‘Macarena’ in the street.


'Humanitarian catastrophe' in Philippines: Aid groups.

Study: 50M at risk of arsenic poisoning in Pakistan.

Thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar for Bangladesh.

Taliban suicide bomber kills civilians in Helmand. Taliban retakes district in northern Afghanistan.

After Trump's Afghan policy statement, China reaffirms support to Pakistan.

North Korean leader secretly visited border area — media.

Two North Korean shipments to Syria intercepted in six months, UN told.

'Too many soldiers to feed': North Koreans fear more sanctions as drought threatens famine.

Tillerson renews offer to talk with N. Korea.

Comments on Japan’s wartime past by South Korea’s President Moon rattle Tokyo: observers.

Marawi trying to get back on its feet even as fighting goes on.

Beijing warns US ahead of Taiwan defence minister’s visit.

Typhoon batters Hong Kong and south China, three dead in Macau.


Polls close for Angolans electing first new leader in 38 years.

IS claims beheading of 11 at Libya checkpoint.

Libya ex-premier freed after nine-day kidnapping.

Ailing Nigeria president cancels cabinet meeting.

UNICEF: Boko Haram has used 83 children as 'human bombs' in 2017.

Suicide bomber kills 4 in northern Cameroon.

UN aid chief issues bleak warning on Central African Republic.

Egypt’s leader, US envoy meet after cut in American aid.

Egypt criticises US decision to withhold military aid.

‘We would rather die than stay there’: the refugees crossing from Morocco to Spain.


Pick your kingmaker: small parties loom large in Norway's election.

Russia warns against new sanctions on North Korea.

Prague agrees to hand Vietnamese 'kidnapper' to Germany.

Ukraine: European and Russian leaders agree new ceasefire deal.

Merkel challenger advocates removal of US nuclear weapons.

Germany's rapid deportations of Salafist suspects ruled lawful.

Spain attack suspects did not come to France just for shopping: prosecutor.

Cologne secures cathedral in light of Sagrada Familia terror plot.

French President Emmanuel Macron lobbying against labor dumping.

Kim Wall: Police confirm headless torso found in Copenhagen waterway belonged to journalist.

Prominent Russian director put under house arrest in fraud case.


Brazil's Lula says party may field someone else in 2018.

McConnell says he and Trump are united on ‘shared goals’.

The Latest: Trump says US will ‘probably’ end NAFTA.

Trump threatens government shutdown over border wall funding.

Hillary Clinton says ‘my skin crawled’ during debate with Trump.

Polls shows majority of Americans think Confederate statues should remain.

Venezuelan leader asks Russia, Vatican to help fend off U.S. 'military threat'.

Venezuela’s rebel prosecutor heads to Brazil as Maduro seeks her arrest. Venezuela ex-prosecutor says she has evidence of Maduro corruption.

Charlottesville: United Nations warns US over 'alarming' racism.

Players hold breath as $700M Powerball jackpot drawing nears.


W. Europe had less than 1% of terror victims in 2016: study.

Trump takes hard line on Pakistan for supporting terrorist groups.

U.S. may sanction Pakistani officials with ties to terrorists, Trump official says.

Spain terror cell was planning Sagrada Família attack, suspect tells court.

ISIS in Indonesia trying to recruit Malaysians.


Wall Street falls as Trump threatens government shutdown.

Warming Arctic spurs battles for riches, shipping routes.

European Union to investigate $66B Bayer-Monsanto deal.

Google, Wal-Mart join forces in voice-shopping market.

U.S. Considering More Sanctions Against Venezuela

Bloomberg: U.S. Weighs New Venezuela Sanctions That May Hit Bonds

* Measures would seek disrupt Maduro’s financing channels
* Trump administration targets Venezuelans to increase pressure

The U.S. is preparing another round of sanctions to punish the government of Venezuela, and one potential tool under review would squeeze trading in the country’s debt, according to two people familiar with the deliberations.

The next steps in a campaign to pressure President Nicolas Maduro are still being debated within the Trump administration and no decisions have been made, one of the people said. U.S. President Donald Trump is traveling outside of Washington and discussion is still going on at the State and Treasury departments.

One measure under consideration would block trades of Venezuelan-held dollar-denominated notes sold by the government and Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state-run oil company, according to another person. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because the actions are still under deliberation.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is all PR. International banking institutions are already limiting what bonds can be traded by Venezuela, and the state oil company and the Venezuelan government are already under U.S. sanctions.

More News On Reports That The U.S. May Impose More Sanctions Against Venezuela

Venezuela bond prices fall on U.S. trading ban report -- Reuters
Venezuelan bonds drop on US trading ban report -- Financial Times
Washington Will Impose Greater Sanctions On Venezuela -- Forbes
U.S. Mulls More Sanctions On Venezuela -- NPR

Ukraine Government Rejects Claims That They Supplied Rocket Engines To North Korea

RFE: Ukraine Rejects Claims It Supplied Rocket Engines To North Korea

Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has rejected reports that Kyiv supplied missile technology to North Korea, saying that such claims amounted to Russian disinformation.

The council on August 22 published the results of its investigation into the alleged sale of missile technology, including the RD-250 rocket engine, from Ukrainian state-owned plant Pivdenmash to North Korea.

Oleksandr Turchynov, the council's chief, reported the results of the investigation to President Petro Poroshenko on August 22, the council said in a post on its website.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These U.S. experts are sceptical of these Ukrainian denials .... The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success (Atomic Bulletin Of Scientists).

More News On Ukraine Rejecting Claims That They Supplied Rocket Engines To North Korea

Ukraine Says Its Rocket Engines Not Behind North Korea's Missile Success -- Daily Signal
Ukraine sees itself victim of Russian 'provocation' in North Korea missile row -- EURACTIV
Ukraine bats away claims it supplied rocket engines to North Korea -- Kyiv Post
Kiev Finds No Evidence of Ukraine's Involvement in N Korean Missile Program -- Sputnik
Ukraine Calls for Probe Into Alleged Missile Engine Supply to N Korea -- Sputnik
Ukrainian government investigation concludes no engine transfers to North Korea -- Space News

European And Russian Leaders Agree To A New Ceasefire Deal in Ukraine

DW: Ukraine: European and Russian leaders agree new ceasefire deal

Germany and Russia have announced their support for a proposed new ceasefire deal in east Ukraine. The announcement follows a four-way phone call with the French and Ukrainian presidents.

A fresh ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region is expected to be announced on Wednesday, according to Berlin and Moscow.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, revealed that Merkel took part in a four-way telephone conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko late on Tuesday, where the four leaders agreed to back a proposed truce deal in time for the beginning of the school year.

Read more ....

Update #1: Ukraine, Russia Agree To New Cease-Fire At Start Of School Year (RFE)
Update #2: Kremlin says support for ceasefire in Ukraine 'decisive' (Euronews)

WNU Editor: Over the past 3 years I will admit that I have lost count on how many ceasefires have been called. Absent a political settlement .... something that both the Ukraine government and the rebels in the east are refusing to do .... this conflict will just keep on churning.

U.S. And Canadian Diplomats In Cuba Suffered Serious Brain And Nerve Damage

CBS: Some U.S. diplomats in Cuba diagnosed with serious health conditions, medical records show

According to medical records reviewed exclusively by CBS News, a U.S. doctor who evaluated American and Canadian diplomats working in Havana diagnosed them with conditions as serious as mild traumatic brain injury, and with likely damage to the central nervous system.

The diplomats complained about symptoms ranging from hearing loss and nausea to headaches and balance disorders after the State Department said "incidents" began affecting them beginning in late 2016. A source familiar with these incidents says officials are investigating whether the diplomats were targets of a type of sonic attack directed at their homes, which were provided by the Cuban government. The source says reports of more attacks affecting U.S. embassy workers on the island continue.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is incredibly serious ... and beyond stupid for the Cuban government. These actions .... if they continue .... will force both Canada and the U.S. to either close their embassies or severely limit operations, and in turn a quid-pro-quo in closing or severely limiting Cuba's diplomatic operations in both countries. So much for the hundreds of millions that Cuba makes each year on Canadians travelling to Cuba on vacation alone .... good luck on getting visas.

More News On U.S. And Canadian Diplomats In Cuba Suffering Serious Brain And Nerve Damage

Diplomats in Cuba suffered brain injuries, nerve damage: report -- Globe and Mail/Reuters
US diplomats in Cuba suffered traumatic brain injury and nerve damage in 'covert sonic attack' on their homes -- Daily Mail
US and Canadian diplomats suffering from brain damage after suspected 'sonic device' incident in Cuba -- The Telegraph
Diplomats in Cuba suffered traumatic brain injuries, records show -- The Hill

Yemen War News Updates --August 23, 2017

Al Jazeera: Air raid in Yemen kills at least 35 people

Bombs hit close to Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa, leaving dozens dead and injured, local media reports.

An air attack on a hotel near the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, has killed at least 35 people, according to a local medic.

Physician Ali al-Rakmi who was helping at the site of Wednesday's strike in Arhab town's Qaa al-Qaidhi district, said there were more than 100 people inside at the time of the attack, all farmers who work in growing qat - a plant widely used for a stimulant effect.

At least 35 bodies were retrieved so far, he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here are more signs that the country is further splitting apart .... Yemen's rebel alliance unravels in Sanaa (AFP).

Yemen War News Updates --August 23, 2017

Civilian Casualty Count in Saudi-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Yemen Totals 71 -- Sputnik International
Saudi-led airstrikes hit Yemen hotel, killing at least 41 -- ABC News/AP
Deadly airstrikes near Sanaa, Yemen's rebel-held capital -- Deutsche Welle
Dozens killed in airstrike on Yemeni hotel -- The Guardian
Air Strikes Near Houthi Checkpoint Kill at Least 35 in Yemen -- Reuters
Saudi-led airstrikes kill up to 41 people, including 30 civilians in Yemen (PHOTOS, VIDEO) -- RT
Yemen's Houthis declare 'emergency state' in Sanaa -- The National
Houthi militias accuse Yemen’s ousted president Saleh of treason -- Al Arabiya
Houthis 'declare war' on ally Ali Abdullah Saleh amid signs of divorce -- The New Arab
How the Houthi-Saleh dispute could turn Yemen's war on its head -- Middle East Eye
Yemen blames Iran for war, says it can't be part of solution -- Washington Post
US commander visits Yemen border for firsthand look at war -- ABC News/AP
UN accuses two sides in Yemen war of international law violations -- Al Jazeera
Witnessing Yemen's desperate suffering -- BBC
Seven million in Yemen face threat of famine -- Al Jazeera
Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen 'a strategic failure' -- Al Jazeera