Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Turkey, Russia, Syria, And Iran Condemn U.S. Plans To Establish A 30,000 Kurdish Military Force In Syria

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Reuters: Turkey, Russia, Syria, and Iran all bash 'terror army' of US-backed kurds

* Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Russia have all come out against the US's announced plan to back a force of 30,000 mainly Kurdish fighters to operate along Syria's border with Turkey and Iran.
* Syria's president desribed the force as a "terror army," in keeping with a long tradition of calling all who oppose him of being terrorists.
* Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi urged the US to leave Syria immediately.

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday a new U.S.-backed, 30,000-strong force inside Syria would "fan the flames of war", echoing the vehement response of Syria, Turkey and Russia to the plan.

On Sunday, the U.S.-led coalition said it was working with its Syrian militia allies, the mainly Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to set up a force that would operate along the borders with Turkey and Iraq, as well as within Syria.

Read more ....

More News On Turkey, Russia, Syria, And Iran Condemning U.S. Plans To Establish A 30,000 Kurdish Military Force In Syria

Iran adds to criticism of US-trained Kurdish force in Syria -- ABC News/AP
Iran Says Trump Fanning 'Flames of War' With New Syria Force -- Newsweek
Erdogan: we will 'strangle' US-backed force in Syria "before it's even born" -- Reuters
Syria war: Turkey denounces US 'terror army' plan for border -- BBC
Turkish President Steps Up Threats on US-backed Militia in Syria -- Voice of America
Syria denounces US-led coalition 'border force' plan -- Indian Express/AFP
Russia's top diplomat says US not interested in keeping Syria's territorial integrity -- TASS

Turkey Has Informed NATO That Turkish Forces Are About To Launch Military Operations Against Kurdish Forces In The Syrian Region Of Afrin

Zero Hedge: Turkey Notifies NATO Of Imminent Massive Invasion Of Syria To Fight Kurds

Turkey is poised for an imminent massive ground invasion of Northern Syria to quash Kurdish militia groups currently holding Afrin near the Turkish border. Multiple regional outlets have reported a build-up of forces that could constitute the largest external intervening force thus far in the entirety of the Syrian war.

According to Middle East based Al-Sura News, Turkey's military build-up currently underway includes special forces troops, Army units, Turkish-backed Syrian Rebels and Turkey's air force. The Kurdish YPG/J (People's Protection Units) has held Afrin since the Syrian government withdrew from the area in 2012, which constitutes the western-most part of the self-declared Rojava autonomous Kurdish zone.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. has distanced itself away from the Kurds in the Afrin region of Syria where Turkish forces are now concentrating .... I call this a green light for the Turks to attack. But if Turkey does launch a military operation into Syria, it's biggest problem will not be with the U.S., but with Russia .... Afrin offensive could risk Turkey’s relations with Russia (Arab News).

More News On Reports That Turkey Is About To Launch Military Operations Against Kurdish Forces In The Syrian Region Of Afrin

Huge Turkish Army convoy enters Syria to combat Kurdish forces in Afrin -- AMN
Turkey's Erdogan tells NATO will take all precautions for national security: sources -- Reuters
Erdogan says Turkish operation in Syria's Afrin to be supported by rebels -- Reuters
Possible Afrin operation to be conducted with Syrian opposition groups: Erdo─čan -- Hurriyet Daily News
Turkey to launch imminent Syria operation against YPG -- Al Jazeera
Afrin Analysis: How the Imminent Turkish Invasion Could Play Out -- NRT

Hat tip to Steven for a heads-up to this story.

The Chinese Are Selling Arms To Everyone

Epoch Times: As China Increases Arms Exports, More Weapons End up in the Hands of Terrorists and Dictators

The Communist regime’s military-industrial complex arms rebels and pariah states worldwide

Despite the country’s burgeoning military budget, China has not fought a war since 1979. But that hasn’t stopped Chinese weapons from seeing extensive use in conflict zones across multiple continents—and in the hands of the world’s most notorious terrorists and dictatorships.

A recent report compiling three years of research has indicated that as the United States, Russia, and other countries battle the ISIS terrorist group, the biggest proportion of their arsenal originates in Chinese weapons factories. Fully 43 percent of arms captured from ISIS were Chinese-made, compared to 1.8 percent of American origin.

The report, published by the UK-based Conflict Armament Research, said that its findings “mirror broad trends in the global market for Warsaw Pact-calibre materiel. China predominates as a producer.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These Chinese weapons are "low-end" .... but with a policy of selling weapons to almost anyone who pays cash .... and no restrictions on who gets these weapons .... no one should be surprised that today's Chinese arms merchants are prospering.

The Chinese Military Is Accelerating Its Modernization Plans

Jamestown Foundation: The PLA Accelerates Modernization Plans

China is moving up plans for the completion of its military reforms and modernization. Shortly after the close of the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping announced that the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) would essentially complete by 2035. Subsequent reporting confirmed that this announcement represented an acceleration of the military modernization plan, shortening the original plan’s third stage by 15 years from 2049 to 2035 (Xinhua November 24, 2017). However, Xi added that the PLA would not transform into a world-class military until mid-century (Xinhua, October 27, 2017).

Read more ....

Update: The Early Returns of China's Military Reforms (The Diplomat)

WNU Editor: The Chinese are spending the money .... Future of the Chinese Defense Industry to 2022 (Business Wire), and their focus on smaller mobile units backed with intense firepower is emulating what the Americans have been doing for the past few years. The days of mass Chinese attacks with basic weapons is a thing of the past.

Japan Spots Chinese Nuclear Attack Submarine Near Disputed Islands In The East China Sea

DW: Chinese attack submarine lurking near disputed waters angers Japan

Japan's government has reacted angrily after one of the most advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines in the Chinese navy was spotted in waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea. Julian Ryall reports.

There are renewed tensions in the East China Sea after a Chinese attack submarine was detected last Thursday operating in the so-called contiguous zone around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China claims as its territory and calls the Diaoyu Islands.

The contiguous zone is a 12-nautical-mile band of ocean that is beyond a nation's territorial waters, which extend 12 nautical miles from a coastline. The Chinese vessel was also operating well within the 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around the uninhabited archipelago.

Read more ....

More News On The Japanese Spotting A Chinese Nuclear Attack Submarine Near The Disputed Islands In The East China Sea

Mystery vessel lurking near Senkakus last week was Chinese nuclear attack sub, Japan's defense chief says -- The Japan Times
Chinese sub near Senkakus ignored Japan's warnings: defense minister -- Nikkei Asian Review
China Sent Nuclear Missile Attack Submarine to Disputed Islands, Japan Says -- Newsweek
Japan criticizes China for sailing an advanced, stealthy submarine near disputed islands -- Business Insider
Japan Identifies Chinese Submarine in East China Sea: A Type 093 SSN -- The Diplomat

Japan Public Broadcaster Issues False North Korean Missile Alert

Reuters: Days after Hawaii alert gaffe, Japan issues false alarm about a missile launch

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued a false alarm about a North Korean missile launch on Tuesday, just days after a similar gaffe caused panic in Hawaii, but it managed to correct the error within minutes.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the mistake.

"We are still checking," an NHK spokesman said.

NHK's 6.55 p.m. alert said: "North Korea appears to have launched a missile ... The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground."

The same alert was sent to mobile phone users of NHK's online news distribution service.

In five minutes, the broadcaster put out another message correcting itself.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Another false missile alert?!?!?!

More News On Japan's Public Broadcaster Issues False North Korean Missile Alert

Japan issues false alarm over missile launch, days after Hawaii alert gaffe -- Reuters
Just days after Hawaii incident, Japan issues false missile alert -- The Hill
Japan Broadcaster Joins Hawaii in Issuing False Missile Alert -- Bloomberg
Japan sounds false alarm over North Korean missile -- News.com.au
Japan public TV sends false North Korean missile alert -- DW
North Korea Missile Launch? False Alarm Set Off By Japanese Broadcaster -- International Business Times

Summit On North Korea Begins In Vancouver Without China Or Russia

CBC: Summit on North Korea begins in Vancouver

Delegates will review sanctions, maritime security, ways to find a peaceful resolution.

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting in Vancouver today to discuss ways to promote a peaceful resolution to the North Korea crisis.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are co-hosting the one-day gathering.

Freeland, Tillerson and the Korean and Japanese foreign ministers will kick off the summit with opening remarks at 11:30 a.m. ET. CBC News will carry them live.

The co-hosts will answer reporters' questions at the end of the summit at 8 p.m. ET.

Read more ....

WU Editor: China has condemned this summit .... China Blasts U.S. for ‘Cold War Mentality’ Over ‘Useless’ North Korea Nuclear Summit (Newsweek), as well as Russia .... Russia calls Vancouver meeting on North Korea 'destructive' (TASS).

Update: Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is defending his decision to not invite China or Russia to the summit .... Trudeau defends decision to not invite China, Russia to Vancouver meeting on North Korea (iPolitics/Canadian Press). More here .... Trudeau Not Sorry Russia, China Weren't Invited To Vancouver Meeting On North Korea (HuffPost Canada). To put it bluntly .... I do not understand the Prime Minister's logic. In short .... he is saying that China and Russia are vital to solve the North Korea crisis, but he decided to not invite them?!?!?

More News On The Summit On North Korea Beginning In Vancouver

Politics Briefing: North Korea summit begins in Vancouver — without Russia or China -- Globe and Mail
Vancouver Talks Focus on Pressuring North Korea -- VOA
20 nations gather in Vancouver to discuss North Korean nuclear threat -- Global News/AP
Canada pledges solidarity with S. Korea over handling N. Korean nukes -- Yonhap News
Japan, Canada vow to 'maximize pressure' on North Korea through Vancouver talks -- Nikkei Asian Review
Russia and China Criticize Vancouver Meeting on North Korea -- Sputnik

Surging U.S. Shale Production Upending Global Oil Trade

Reuters: U.S. oil industry set to break record, upend global trade

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Surging shale production is poised to push U.S. oil output to more than 10 million barrels per day - toppling a record set in 1970 and crossing a threshold few could have imagined even a decade ago.

And this new record, expected within days, likely won’t last long. The U.S. government forecasts that the nation’s production will climb to 11 million barrels a day by late 2019, a level that would rival Russia, the world’s top producer.

The economic and political impacts of soaring U.S. output are breathtaking, cutting the nation’s oil imports by a fifth over a decade, providing high-paying jobs in rural communities and lowering consumer prices for domestic gasoline by 37 percent from a 2008 peak.

Fears of dire energy shortages that gripped the country in the 1970s have been replaced by a presidential policy of global “energy dominance.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: So much for peak oil happening now .... and if it was not for this U.S. production .... I just shudder on what the price for oil would be today.

More Details On The SR-72 Emerge

Lockheed Martin posted an artist's impression of the craft to its website, with the caption 'The Skunk Works hypersonic design – an aircraft developed to execute Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and strike missions at speeds up to Mach 6.'

Boeing has finally unveiled the potential successor to the legendary Blackbird SR-71 spy plane (pictured)- and it is set to travel at more than five times the speed of sound

National Post/Bloomberg: Six times the speed of sound: America’s fastest spy plane could be making a comeback

Lockheed Martin officials have said the hypersonic SR-72 — dubbed the 'Son of Blackbird' by one trade journal — could fly by 2030

(Bloomberg) — For years, Lockheed Martin Corp. has been developing a successor to one of the fastest aircraft the world has ever seen, the SR-71 Blackbird, the Cold War reconnaissance craft that the U.S. Air Force retired almost three decades ago. Lockheed officials have said the hypersonic SR-72 — dubbed the “Son of Blackbird” by one trade journal — could fly by 2030.

But a rather curious talk last week at an aerospace conference by a Lockheed Skunk Works executive implied that the SR-72 might already exist. Referring to detailed specifics of company design and manufacturing, Jack O’Banion, a Lockheed vice president, said a “digital transformation” arising from recent computing capabilities and design tools had made hypersonic development possible. Then — assuming O’Banion chose his word tense purposely — came the surprise.

“Without the digital transformation the aircraft you see there could not have been made,” O’Banion said, standing by an artist’s rendering of the hypersonic aircraft. “In fact, five years ago, it could not have been made.”

Read more ....

More Details On The SR-72 Emerge

Get Your First Look at the Future of Hypersonic Flight -- Futurism
Boeing unveils its ‘Son of Blackbird’ hypersonic spy plane concept that could travel at 3,800mph -- Daily Mail
Boeing Unveils ‘Son of Blackbird’ Hypersonic Aircraft That Could Go Five Times the Speed of Sound -- Epoch Times
Boeing's 'Son of Blackbird' hypersonic strike aircraft could go five times the speed of sound -- FOX News/The SUN

Stock Market Booming!

CNBC: Dow breaks above 26,000 for the first time, Merck and UnitedHealth jump

* The Dow rose broke above 26,000. It first traded above 25,000 on Jan. 4.
* The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite also hit record highs.
* UnitedHealth and Citigroup reported better-than-expected earnings.

U.S. stocks traded sharply higher as investors chased a market breaking out on better-than-expected earnings and rising economic optimism under President Donald Trump.

The Dow Jones industrial average broke above 26,000 for the first time earlier in the session. At 11:13 a.m. ET, the Dow traded 140 points higher, slightly below the milestone level. The 30-stock index was boosted by gains in UnitedHealth, Boeing and Merck.

It took the Dow just 12 calendar days to move from 25,000 to 26,000, making it the fastest 1,000 move on record for the index. It first traded above 25,000 on Jan. 4.

Read more ....

Update: Dow 26,000: The stock market is a runaway freight train (CNN).

WNU Editor: The Dow Jones has gone back below 26,00 .... but the bull market continues. For those who have 401Ks .... these are definitely the good times.

Update #2: This debate is going to intensify as the U.S. mid-term elections approach .... Economists agree: Trump, not Obama, gets credit for economy (The Hill).

Editor's Note

Busy this morning. Blogging will return in a few hours.

Tweets For Today

The Hunt For ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet. REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV/File Photo

The Guardian: 'We will get him': the long hunt for Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The world’s most wanted man remains at large, but as his ‘caliphate’ has crumbled so has the discipline of his leadership.

Day and night for the past three years, an unprecedented number of the world’s spies have zeroed in on a patch of Iraq and Syria to hunt for one man. Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, has eluded them all. But only just.

The most wanted man on the planet has been traced to a specific place at least three times in the past 18 months alone. And despite the protection of a devoted network, there have been other sightings of the reclusive leader, reported by Isis members shortly afterwards and confirmed later by intelligence officers. Being a fugitive in the digital age, or in a losing cause, clearly has its shortfalls.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They will get him one day.

U.S. Officials Believe Russian Intelligence Used Kaspersky Software To Steal U.S. Classified Information

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Very high level of confidence' Russia used Kaspersky software for devastating NSA leaks
There is increasing evidence linking Russia to the Shadow Brokers leaks, which is "one of the worst security debacles ever to befall American intelligence."

Michael B. Kelly, Yahoo News: 'Very high level of confidence' Russia used Kaspersky software for devastating NSA leaks

Three months after U.S. officials asserted that Russian intelligence used popular antivirus company Kaspersky to steal U.S. classified information, there are indications that the alleged espionage is related to a public campaign of highly damaging NSA leaks by a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers.

“That’s a Russian intelligence operation,” a former senior intelligence official, who requested anonymity to speak bluntly, told Yahoo Finance. “They’ve gotten a lot noisier than they used to be.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: NSA allegations aside, Kaspersky is still doing good work .... One Of The 'Most Powerful' Android Spyware Tools Ever Was Just Uncovered (Forbes).

Picture Of The Day

Police investigate near the statue of 'Christ of the Pacific' that was partially burned after a fire at the base of the monument, at Morro Solar hill in Chorrillos, Lima, Peru, January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

WNU Editor: The above picture is form this photo-gallery .... Editor's Choice (Reuters).

Cranberries Singer Dolores O'Riordan Dead At 46

WNU Editor: I have always enjoyed her music with the Cranberries and when she went solo. Too young to die at 46 .... Friends reveal troubled Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan was 'dreadfully depressed' in the weeks before she was found dead at 46 having previously told of battle with alcohol and failed suicide attempt (Daily Mail). The above are two of my favorite songs.

Monday, January 15, 2018

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis: North Korea Didn’t React To False Hawaii Missile Alert

NBC: North Korea didn’t react to false Hawaii missile alert, Mattis says

There is no indication that North Korea reacted after the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency mistakenly sent an alert Saturday warning of an imminent ballistic missile strike against the islands, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday.

On Saturday morning local time, thousands of tourists and residents in Hawaii received mobile alerts on their phones that a missile would soon be impacting the state. With tensions high over the regime's ballistic missile program and President Donald Trump recently warning North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, that he has the bigger "nuclear button," the false alarm prompted panic that Hawaii was the target of an attack from North Korea.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like the North Koreans did not know what was happening. But I am definitely curious on what was the Russian and Chinese reaction to this alert.

Why Hasn't There Been A Nuclear War?

Amos Zeeberg, Nautilus: Why Hasn’t the World Been Destroyed in a Nuclear War Yet?

When opposing nations gained access to nuclear weapons, it fundamentally changed the logic of war. You might say that it made questions about war more cleanly logical—with nuclear-armed belligerents, there are fewer classic military analyses about morale, materiel, and maneuverings. Hundreds of small-scale tactical decisions dissolve into a few hugely important large-scale strategic ones, like, What happens if one side drops a nuclear bomb on its nuclear-armed opponent?

Using a dangerous weapon like a nuclear bomb can of course provoke dangerous responses. If one country crosses the nuclear line, what will its opponent do? What will its allies, or other nuclear-armed states do? The decision to use a nuclear weapon is practically nothing next to the chain reaction it begins. The act of one nation simply developing a nuclear weapon can provoke a “nuclear proliferation cascade,” as other nations, concerned about new nuclear-armed rivals, rush to follow suit. This is cited as one reason why it’s so important to prevent Iran from building its own nuclear weapons.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Mankind since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been incredibly lucky.