Friday, October 20, 2017

Tweets For Today

With The Fall Of Raqqa, The War Has Intensified In Other Parts Of Syria

American-backed forces have largely driven the Islamic State from Raqqa, above. The big question is who will rule it next. Credit Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

New York Times: As ISIS’ Role in Syria Wanes, Other Conflicts Take the Stage

BEIRUT, Lebanon — American-backed forces have barely begun to clear the land mines from Raqqa after pushing the Islamic State from the city, the de facto capital of its self-declared caliphate.

But the militants’ defeat there is already setting the stage for a new round of conflict and instability in Syria’s long civil war.

Fleeing jihadists are already regrouping in remote areas, rearming with the help of desert smugglers. Tensions are brewing over who will ultimately control Raqqa, where American-backed Kurdish and Arab forces declared victory on Tuesday.

And as the Islamic State threat wanes, the Syrian government is expected to return its military attention to the Syrian rebels, intensifying the kind of bombardment that has led to mass civilian casualties, with no sign of a political solution in sight.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Bottom line .... even though the city of Raqqa has fallen, the war in Syria is far from over.

Picture Of The Day

Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces inspect weapons and munitions recovered at the former positions of the Islamic State militants inside a building at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo gallery .... What Islamic State left behind (Reuters).

Spain Prepares To Suspend Catalonia's Autonomy

L.A. Times: Independence crisis intensifies as Spain prepares to strip Catalonia of local powers

Fear, anger and anxiety heightened on both sides of a secession divide as the Spanish government vowed Thursday to take the unprecedented step of stripping autonomous powers from the northeastern region of Catalonia.

The region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, did not renounce independence despite a Thursday deadline imposed by the central government.

The escalating confrontation between Madrid and Spain’s most prosperous region sent ripples of unease across the continent, where European Union leaders are already wary of fissures within the bloc.

Spain’s worst political crisis in nearly four decades of democracy could hamper a still fragile economic recovery in the country as a whole and cause particular financial harm to Catalonia, which is already experiencing a flurry of corporate flight.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Spain did not suspend Catalonia's autonomy today, but this may change in the coming days.

More News On Spain Preparing To Suspend Catalonia's Autonomy

Spain to suspend Catalonia's autonomy in response to independence threat -- Reuters
Spain set to strip Catalonia of powers over independence bid -- AP
Spain to impose direct rule as Catalonia leader refuses to back down -- The Guardian
Spanish Officials to Meet on Taking Local Powers from Catalonia -- Voice of America
Spain threatens to take over Catalonia's government as constitutional crisis looms -- Washington Post

Thursday, October 19, 2017

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Believes That 20% Of U.S. Military Properties Around The World Are Not Needed

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

Business Insider/Washington Examiner: Mattis estimates nearly 20% of the US military's property around the world may be unneeded

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress that an estimated 19 percent of U.S. military properties around the world might be unneeded and he is pressing lawmakers to allow him to take a closer look.

Mattis provided the 19-percent-excess-capacity figure in a report to Congress earlier this month in what is the latest push by the Pentagon to get lawmakers to permit a new review of properties under the Base Realignment and Closure program, or BRAC, which could result in the shuttering of excess facilities in the 2020s.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Remarks That 20% Of U.S. Military Properties Around The World Are Not Needed

Pentagon chief pushes for new round of base closures -- The Hill
DoD says it has 19 percent more facilities than it needs, even assuming a larger military -- Federal News Radio
Defense Secretary James Mattis tells Congress that shuttering unnecessary bases could save billions -- The Week Magazine
US military doesn't need 19% of its property, Pentagon chief estimates -- RT
Is a plan to save $2 billion by closing unneeded military bases really dead? -- Washington Examiner

Pentagon Is Insisting They Are Informing Lawmakers On What Happened In A Niger Ambush That Killed 4 Special Forces Soldiers

The Hill: Pentagon officials insist they are informing lawmakers on Niger attack

Pentagon officials insisted on Thursday that they were being open with Congress while briefing lawmakers on the attack in Niger that left four U.S. special forces dead and two others injured.

Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said the Defense Department had a military general brief members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees in a closed session on the Oct. 4 ambush. She did not say who spoke to the committees.

The briefing came the same day Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters it might require a subpoena to get more information about the Niger attack.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is going to take a while, but this is now a media and political story, and I can only imagine the pressure that the Pentagon must be under right now.

More News On The Pentagon Insisting That They Are Informing Lawmakers On What Happened In A Niger Ambush That Killed 4 Special Forces Soldiers

Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger
-- Washington Post
US Military Investigating Deaths of Soldiers in Niger Ambush -- VOA
Pentagon Probing Troubling Questions after Deadly Niger Ambush --
Trump administration admits it doesn't have 'all the accurate information' on four US soldiers killed in Niger -- The Independent
Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger -- The Telegraph
New details emerge on ambush in Niger that killed 4 U.S. soldiers -- CBS
Pentagon Sends Team to Niger to Find Out What Happened -- NBC
Jim Mattis: Don't question military response to deadly ambush in Niger -- Washington Examiner
Mattis Is Angered by Press on Niger Coverage, Says 'War Is War' -- Newsweek
Everyone Wants Answers About What Happened In Niger. That Includes The Pentagon. -- Buzz Feed
What we know and don't know about the deadly Niger attack -- CNN

Poll: Majority Of Americans Believe President Trump Will Lead The Country Into A Major War

President Donald Trump discusses current military operations with Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command Commander, and Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas, U.S. Special Operations Command Commander at MacDill, AFB, FL, Feb. 6, 2017. (DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released)

The Independent: Three-quarters of Americans think Trump is going to lead them into war

Unlike the President, most Americans don't think diplomacy is a waste of time

Almost three-quarters of Americans fear the US is to become involved in a “major conflict” in the next few years, according to a new survey.

Amid escalating tensions with North Korea over its aggressive missile tests and development of nuclear warheads, combined with sabre-rattling from Donald Trump, 72 per cent of the population fears the country will become embroiled in such a war within four years.

Most people believe the greatest threat to the US is from North Korea, followed by Isis and Russia. Only two per cent of people believe Iran is the greatest threat.

Read more ....

Update: Forget Putin, Americans Fear North Korea and ISIS More (Newsweek).

WNU Editor: The NBC poll results are here. Some interesting stats from the poll that are not being reported are the following .... only 6% of Americans care about foreign policy, 10% are worried about terrorism, and 72% believe the U.S. will be in a major war in 4 years. Am I surprised by these numbers .... no .... these numbers have been around for a long time. This is also a repeat of another NBC poll that was done 3 months ago .... and it is being rehashed again (see link here). On a side note .... I also remember that when President Reagan was in power, an even greater majority of Americans believed that he was leading the U.S. into a major war .... which of course did not happen.

North Korean Military Officials Watch ‘Morning Joe’ For News On President Trump And North Korea

The Hill: NBC News correspondent: Senior North Korean officials watch 'Morning Joe'

NBC News correspondent Kier Simmons landed a rare interview with a North Korean military official on Thursday and learned that officials in the communist country watch "Morning Joe" specifically for reports and discussions about their country.

Simmons appeared on the MSNBC show Thursday from the border of North and South Korea to share his recent conversation with a North Korean lieutenant colonel that included his belief that President Trump is "mentally ill" and that his country could prevail over the U.S. in war.

“He quite plainly said he believes President Trump is mentally ill,” Simmons told "Morning Joe" co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. “And he was unequivocal in saying he believes North Korea could win a war with America.”

Read more ....

Update: NBC News Correspondent: North Korean Military Officials Watch ‘Morning Joe,’ Believe Trump Is ‘Mentally Ill’ (Washington Free Beacon).

WNU Editor: If Morning Joe was my source for news on America every day .... I would also believe that President Trump was mentally ill/corrupt/illegitimate/about to be impeached/has no public support/is a racist/a misogynist/evil/etc.. And that America is a divided country that is being torn apart because of race/economic inequality/and war. Truth be told .... this NBC reporter is being played by these North Korean officials. They may watch Morning Joe .... but they watch and monitor hundreds of other outlets .... and maybe even WNU (I have a program that monitors where people are coming from when they visit this blog, and sometimes I have a visitor or two from North Korea).

More Details Emerge On Former President Clinton Wanting To Meet Russian Officials On A Uranium Deal

Former president Bill Clinton (left) received $500,000 for a Moscow speaking engagement with Renaissance Capital. He also met Vladimir Putin (right), at the time Russia's prime minister, during the visit

The Hill: Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A $500,000 speaking fee. A million plus dollar contribution to the Clinton Foundation from the a Kremlin-linked company that wanted to buy a U.S. based uranium company. And now we know that former President Clinton wanted to meet Russian officials linked to this uranium deal. This is the second Hill expose/article on the Clintons and this uranium deal in the past few days .... hmmmm .... it looks like someone is feeding them information . In his defense former President Clinton's aides are saying that he did not have any conversations on uranium while in Russia, and that no one connected to the deal was involved in his trip to Russia. Maybe so .... but he did get a lot of money from these people anyway, and while he did not meet any Russian officials involved in this deal, former President Clinton did meet the man that all of these officials must answer to .... and that man is Vladimir Putin. And where was that meeting .... at Putin's private residence in Sochi. Robert Mueller's commission should expand their investigation on Russian collusion .... because from my vantage point the more extensive and lucrative business relationships are between top Democrats and Kremlin-associated oligarchs and companies .... and not from President Trump or the people within his inner circle. But here is my prediction .... it is not going to happen.

Russian President Putin: 'Do Not Back North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Into A Corner'

Russian President Vladimir Putin © Grigoriy Sisoev / Sputnik

NBC: Putin on North Korea Crisis: Don’t Back Kim Jong Un Into a Corner

SOCHI, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that North Korea must not be "backed into a corner" and urged dialogue to end its nuclear standoff with the U.S.

Tensions have increased between Pyongyang and Washington in recent weeks, with President Donald Trump promising in August that North Korea would be met with "fire and fury" if it threatens the U.S. and calling Kim Jong Un, the North's leader, "rocket man" in a speech at the U.N. last month.

Putin did not mention the U.S. specifically on Thursday, but warned of the growing possibility of conflict and pointed out that North Korea is a "sovereign country."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The person who has put Kim Jong Un into a corner is Kim Jong Un himself. On a side note .... Putin is right about this .... Putin says doubts U.S. strike on North Korea would destroy arsenal (Reuters).

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Discusses Iran

CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaks at the FDD National Security Summit in Washington, October 19, 2017.

CNBC: US spies can make it harder to do business with Iran. Here's how, says CIA chief Mike Pompeo

* The United States should make it more expensive for Iran to engage in "adventurism" in the Middle East, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday.
* The intelligence community is trying and struggling to expose Iranian companies with ties to the nation's sanctioned security forces.

The U.S. intelligence community and Treasury Department can make it harder for Iran to meddle in regional affairs by exposing Iranian businesses that have ties to the nation's elite security force, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said on Thursday.

Their comments suggest the investment climate in Iran could become more challenging just as foreign firms seek to build or restore ties in the country following the lifting of sanctions last year.

Read more ....

More News On CIA Director Mike Pompeo Discussing National Security Issues

CIA Director: Iran deal 'failed' to permanently block Tehran's path to nukes -- Jerusalem Post
CIA Director Confirms Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Was In Kirkuk -- Daily Caller
CIA to publish documents revealing Iran's relations with al-Qaeda -- Al Arabiya
Pompeo: Al-Qaeda-Iran Connection an "Open Secret" -- The Weekly Standard

U.S. Intelligence Officials: North Korea Months Away From Being Able To Hit US With A Nuclear Missile

VOA: US: North Korea Months Away From Being Able to Hit US with Nuclear Missile

WASHINGTON — North Korea is likely just months away from being capable of striking the United States with a nuclear missile, according to two top U.S. officials.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a forum in Washington on Thursday he is "deeply worried" about the advancing threat from North Korea and the possibility it could spark a nuclear arms race across East Asia.

"We ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective," Pompeo said when asked about Pyongyang's pursuit of missile technology that could launch a warhead to targets in the U.S.

"They are so far along in that it's now a matter of thinking about how do you stop the final step?" he added.

Read more ....

More News ON The CIA Believing That North Korea Is Only Months Away From Being Able To Hit US With A Nuclear Missile

CIA head: North Korea months from perfecting nuclear capabilities -- Chicago Tribune/AP
Pompeo warns of North Korea's nuclear advances -- CBS
North Korea 'months' away from strike range on US, says CIA head -- Financial Times
North Korea 'months' away from capability to nuke US, CIA Director Mike Pompeo says -- Washington Examiner
US preparing for North Korea's 'final step' -- CNN

John Kelly Defends President Trump And His Call To Gold Star Families

CNN: Kelly says he was 'stunned' by congresswoman's account of Trump's call

Washington (CNN)White House chief of staff John Kelly, in an extraordinary and at times emotional statement Thursday, said he was "stunned" by what a Democratic congresswoman told reporters after she listened in on President Donald Trump's call to the widow of a fallen soldier.

Kelly, a Gold Star father, said he was "brokenhearted" by the congresswoman's criticism and said that he had advised Trump on what to say before he called the families of the four fallen soldiers who died during an ambush in Niger. Kelly said he encouraged Trump to echo words Gen. Joseph Dunford offered to Kelly when his own son was killed in Afghanistan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a must read .... John Kelly’s fiery defense of Trump’s shot at Obama and Gold Star phone call, annotated (Washington Post). It is telling that every reporter was silent when he gave this account.

More News On John Kelly Defending President Trump And His Calls To The Gold Star Families On Tuesday

Kelly lends Trump powerful and personal credibility -- Politico
Defending Trump, Gen. Kelly Opens His Heart About Death of Son -- NBC
John Kelly defends Trump on calls, lashes out at Florida Democrat -- The Hill
Kelly defends Trump’s call to Gold Star widow -- NYPost
John Kelly 'broken hearted' by Dem rep's attacks on Trump -- Fox News
Defending Trump, Gen. Kelly Opens His Heart About Death of Son -- NBC

Editor's Note

A bit overwhelmed with stuff today. Nothing special .... just things that had to be done. Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted at the normal time tomorrow.

U.S. Homeland Acting Security Secretary: ISIS Is Planning The Next 9/11

The Telegraph: Terrorist groups planning another 9/11-style attack, top US official warns

Islamic State and other terrorist groups are planning to target aircraft as they aim to carry out another major attack on the scale of 9/11, a top US security official has said.

Elaine Duke, acting US Homeland Security Secretary, said the groups were using smaller attacks to raise money and “keep their members engaged”.

“The threat is still severe,” she said in London after meeting Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

“The terrorist organisations, be it Isis or al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that."

Britain and Europe have seen a string of crude attacks, from the ramming and stabbing attack on London Bridge to the homemade bomb in Manchester.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Homeland Acting Security Secretary Warning That ISIS Is Planning The Next 9/11

Terror groups working for another 9/11, acting DHS chief warns -- Fox News
Isis and other Islamist terror groups plotting similar attack to 9/11, says US security chief -- The Independent
ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning a 'New 9/11,' Security Chief Elaine Duke Warns -- Newsweek
This US Security Chief Says ISIS is Planning the Next 9/11 -- Al-Bawaba
Intelligence shows Isis plotting terror attacks similar to 9/11 says top US security chief -- International Business Times
US Homeland Security Chief Warns Terrorists Plotting New 9/11-Style Attack -- Sputnik

Islamic State Terror Cells Are Spreading World-Wide

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
It's spreading: A dozen ISIS terror cells have been uncovered across the world in the past four weeks alone

Daily Mail: How ISIS virus has spread around the globe even as its heartland caliphate collapses: Map reveals where cells have sprung up in the past MONTH as the group is obliterated in Iraq and Syria

* New Islamic State terror cells found in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in just four weeks
* Nine cells have been uncovered, including in Russia, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo
* ISIS fighters are believed to be looking for new territory after fall of their 'caliphate' in Iraq and Syria

At least a dozen terror cells linked to Islamic State have been uncovered across the globe in the past month alone, research has found.

As ISIS is defeated in its 'caliphate' in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist organisation is looking for new territory.

In the past four weeks, ISIS cells have sprung up in as far flung places as Russia, Ireland and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is probably just a tip of the iceberg. And then there is Al Qaeda .... ISIS' loss could end up being Al Qaeda's gain (AP).

Hillary Clinton Criticizes President Trump On North Korea

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton speaks during an interview with Mariella Frostrup at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in Cheltenham, Britain October 15, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

CNBC/Reuters: Hillary Clinton says US threats of war with North Korea are 'dangerous, short-sighted'

* Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that "cavalier" threats to start war on the Korean peninsula are "dangerous and short-sighted"
* She also called on China to take a "more outfront role" in enforcing sanctions against North Korea
* North Korea's Deputy U.N. Ambassador told the U.N. Monday that "a nuclear war may break out any moment"

Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that "cavalier" threats to start war on the Korean peninsula are "dangerous and short-sighted", urging the United States to get all parties to the negotiating table.

Clinton also called on China to take a "more outfront role" in enforcing sanctions against North Korea aimed at curbing its missile and nuclear development.

"There is no need for us to be bellicose and aggressive (over North Korea)," said Clinton at a forum in the South Korean capital Seoul, stressing the need for greater pressure on North Korea and diplomacy to bring Pyongyang to talks.

Read more ....

Update: Hillary Clinton criticizes U.S. policy on North Korea (Washington Times).

WNU Editor: I am surprised that Hillary Clinton is still in the news .... but such is the state of the Democrat Party today and their lack of a national leader. As to her claim that more diplomacy is needed when it comes to North Korea .... it is hard to conduct diplomacy with someone who has already made it clear that they are not interested in diplomacy .... North Korea Rejects Diplomacy With The U.S.. (October 16, 2017). Speaking of Hillary Clinton, some are calling this a non-story .... Donald Trump Accuses 'Fake Media' Of Not Reporting An Actual Fake News Story (HuffPost UK), but the Clintons and their Foundation did receive an enormous amount of money from the principles involved, and it has legs .... Russia Uranium Investigation: Why Obama, Clinton, Mueller and Holder Are at the Center of a New Probe (Newsweek). What is my take .... nothing is going to happen .... this is just one more example on how the elites enrich themselves, and how the media ignores a story because it does not fit into their narrative on what Russian collusion really looks like.

China Has A 30 Year Plan To Rule The World

Chinese President Xi Jinping is served tea as he delivers a speech during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song China’s 30-year deadline to rule the world

CHINESE President sets out ambitious plans for Asian powerhouse in epic three-hour speech, with huge implications for Australia.

BEIJING has outlined plans to become the world’s biggest superpower within the next 30 years.

Opening a five-yearly national congress, Chinese President Xi Jinping set out his time frame for the country to become a “global leader” with international influence.

In his 3 ½ hour speech, Mr Xi urged a reinvigorated Communist Party to take a stronger role in society and economic development to better address the nation’s “grim” challenges.

Speaking in the massive Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square, Mr Xi laid out his vision of a ruling party that served as the vanguard for everything from defending national security to providing moral guidance.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is now official .... China wants to rule the world (or at least be the world's super-power).