Friday, June 30, 2017

This Is The Pentagon's Plan To Pacify Raqqa



Paul McLeary, Foreign Policy: Seven Days, a Gun, and a Prayer: The Pentagon’s Plan to Pacify Raqqa

Thousands of new security personnel are being trained by U.S. special operations forces to keep the peace in Raqqa after the Islamic State, but is a week of training enough?

As the Islamic State crumbles, American special operations forces and their Arab and Kurdish allies have been working quietly to establish a force of about 3,500 militiamen to help secure Raqqa, Syria, according to U.S. military and State Department officials.

In April, a 100-member Raqqa Civilian Council was formed in the city of Ain Issa just north of Raqqa, and U.S. troops have been training, equipping, and paying a growing security force that will be given responsibility for keeping the peace once the Islamic State is defeated. The current plan, outlined for Foreign Policy by several government officials, calls for the security forces to go through a weeklong training program that includes human rights instruction, crowd control techniques, and guidelines in setting up checkpoints.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is doomed to fail. The Syrian government under Assad will eventually want to take over .... and then there is Iran and Hezbollah who have their own agenda on what they want to do in eastern Syria. Will U.S. forces remain in this part of Syria to give assurances to their Syrian-Arab and Kurdish allies that they will not be forgotten .... I doubt it. The sectarian differences that have been fuelling the Syrian civil war will remain .... thereby guaranteeing that this conflict will continue albeit under a different banner and name.

Update: Raqqa is not the only city that is going to be faced with problems after liberation .... Liberty doesn’t mean life: Report shows freed cities in Iraq and Syria face major hurdles (Military Times).

This Is The U.S. Navy Plan To Fix The USS Fitzgerald

The US navy said it was unclear how the collision off the coast of Japan occurred [Kyodo/Reuters]

Defense News: Navy struggles with approach to fix crippled destroyer Fitzgerald, as investigation continues

WASHINGTON — The collision off Japan that claimed the lives of seven sailors on the U.S. Navy destroyer Fitzgerald punched a hole large enough to drive a tractor trailer through, leaving the service with the considerable task of putting the crippled destroyer back together again.

The bulbous bow of the ACX Crystal left a 12x17-foot hole beneath the waterline, per three Navy sources who spoke on background, an enormous breach that rapidly flooded three spaces. Sailors had about a minute to evacuate their berthing, and several were awoken by salt water rushing into their rack, per two sources familiar with the details of the accident said

Read more ....

WNU Editor: She will be fixed. It will take a long time. And yes .... it will be expensive.

Why Does The U.S. Tech Industry Want To Do Business With Russia's Spy Service?

Police guard the FSB headquarters during an opposition protest in Moscow, Russia, on March 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky/File Photo

Reuters: Despite hacking charges, U.S. tech industry fought to keep ties to Russia spy service

As U.S. officials investigated in January the FSB's alleged role in election cyber attacks, U.S. technology firms were quietly lobbying the government to soften a ban on dealing with the Russian spy agency, people with direct knowledge of the effort told Reuters.

New U.S. sanctions put in place by former President Barack Obama last December - part of a broad suite of actions taken in response to Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election - had made it a crime for American companies to have any business relationship with the FSB, or Federal Security Service.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Sanctioning Russia's spy agency would mean sanctioning the entire country from all U.S. electronics. And while Russians do love their iPhones, these sanctions would only result in Russian consumers switching to Samsung and other non-U.S. products.

Tonight's Movie Is 'Papilon'

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 1, 2017

Sheen Ibrahim, Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) stands on a roof top in Raqqa, Syria June 16, 2017. Goran Tomasevic, Reuters

Michael Georgy and John Walcott, Reuters: New conflicts threaten Syria after Islamic State defeat

RAQQA, Syria/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sheen Ibrahim's track record fighting ultra-hardline militants explains U.S. President Donald Trump's policy of arming Syrian Kurds like her as he seeks to eradicate Islamic State. It also highlights the risks.

Taught by her brother to fire an AK-47 at 15 and encouraged by her mother to fight for Syrian Kurdish autonomy, she says she has killed 50 people since she took up arms in Syria's six-year-old civil war, fighting first al Qaeda, then crossing into Iraq to help Kurds there against Islamic State.

Now 26, she leads a 15-woman unit hunting down the hardline group in its global headquarters Raqqa, speeding through streets once controlled by the militants in a pick-up truck as fellow fighters comb through ruined buildings for booby traps.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- June 30, 2017

Syria war: Why the battle for Raqqa is far from won -- Gabriel Gatehouse, BBC News

Mosul’s fall won’t stop Islamic State spreading fear -- Mohamad Bazzim, Reuters

The fall of Mosul is a defeat for Isis, but it remains a deadly force -- Patrick Cockburn, The Independent

ISIS’s Caliphate Is Collapsing, But Don’t Celebrate Just Yet -- Jonah Shepp, NYMag

Saudi Arabia is Weakening US Influence in the Middle East -- Federico Pieraccini, Strategic Culture

The Only Way Out of the Qatar Crisis -- Ahmed Charai, National Interest

A Cold War Turning Hot in the Middle East -- Mohammed Ayoob, The Strategist

What's the secret behind Australia's unbroken growth? -- Insa Wrede, DW

Is a New China-Vietnam Maritime Crisis Brewing in the South China Sea -- The Diplomat

Moving from a Sunshine to Sunburn Policy on North Korea -- Frank Aum and S. Nathan Paski, 38 North

Here’s Trump’s Chance to Recommit to the Vital Alliance With South Korea -- Bruce Klingner, Heritage Foundation

Four Downward Turns in U.S.-Russian Relations -- Pavel K. Baev, Eurasia Daily Monitor

We were warned about Russia – but didn’t listen -- Edward Lucas, CapX

Germans Should Accept What a Military is For, or Get Used to Dissappointment -- Mario Schulz, War On The Rocks

How Liberal Portland Became America’s Most Politically Violent City -- Casey Michel, Politico

Counter-terrorism was never meant to be Silicon Valley's job. Is that why it's failing? -- Olivia Solon, The Guardian

World News Briefs -- June 30, 2017 (Evening Edition)

The ruined Grand al-Nuri Mosque is seen after it was retaken by the Iraqi forces from the Islamic State militants at the Old City in Mosul, Iraq, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

Reuters: Islamic State under pressure in Iraqi and Syrian strongholds

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pressed Islamic State fighters holding out in Mosul's Old City on Friday, while in Syria the militant group launched a counter-attack against an alliance of militias trying to oust it from its de facto capital of Raqqa.

In Iraq, dozens of civilians poured out of Mosul, long held by IS, and fled in the direction of the Iraqi forces, many of them women and children, thirsty, tired and some wounded.

Iraqi authorities say they are only days away from a victory over militants in their remaining redoubt in Mosul, though commanders of counter-terrorism units fighting their way through the narrow streets of the Old City say die-hard IS fighters are dug in among civilians and the battle ahead remains challenging.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Erdogan, Trump talk amid dispute over arms to Kurd fighters.

UN cites ‘notable trend’ of people returning home in Syria.

Gunfire cuts short celebrations at recaptured Mosul mosque.

Mosul victory in 'days' as pressure on IS mounts.

US-backed Syrian forces 'surround' ISIL in Raqqa. IS retakes Raqa district from US-backed forces: monitor.

OPCW probe: Sarin used in deadly April 5 attack in Syria.

New conflicts threaten Syria after Islamic State defeat.

Israel responds to Syrian spillover fire in repeat incident.

New batch of Turkish troops arrives in Qatar.

Lebanon refugee camps hit by five suicide bombers.

It was 129 degrees in Iran Thursday, which is one of the Earth's hottest temperatures ever recorded.

ASIA

Pakistan beefs up security in tribal northwest.

Death toll in Pakistan oil tanker fire rises to 190.

Trump, South Korean president hold post-dinner talks on NKorea policy.

US blacklists Chinese bank, company and two nationals to pressure Beijing to rein in Pyongyang.

China condemns US sanctions over 'North Korea funding'. China, US ties sour over N.Korea, Taiwan.

North Korea drought mobilizes workers to fight drought, bans travel.

China flexes military muscle in Hong Kong during Xi’s visit.

Massive military parade for Xi as Hong Kong activists freed. Xi asserts authority over Hong Kong in PLA troop inspection.

Chinese boats attack Vietnamese fishermen in South China Sea.

Myanmar to block visas for UN delegation.

Former TEPCO executives face trial over Fukushima nuclear disaster.

AFRICA

Dozens feared drowned after 'migrant boat sinks off Libya'.

UN ends peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast after 13 years.

UN agrees to draw down Darfur peacekeeping force.

Congo violence fuels fears of return to 90s bloodbath.

DR Congo skips independence parade amid security fears.

US 'concerned' over Sudan human rights record: embassy.

Libya's oil output nears 1 million bpd, highest in four years: source.

Egypt has blocked over 100 local and international websites including HuffPost and Medium.

EUROPE

UN chief: Progress in Cyprus talks, much more to be done.

Finland, Sweden join British-led rapid action military force.

2 Russian border guards get lost, end up in Ukraine.

Protests, policy rows, volatile leaders — welcome to the Hamburg G20 summit.

G20: Angela Merkel sketches vision of French and German-led Europe.

Merkel issues warning to Trump ahead of G20 summit.

Germany legalises same-sex marriage after Angela Merkel allows free vote.

French far-right leader charged with alleged EU funds misuse.

Slovenia wins maritime border dispute, Croatia defiant.

Awkward farewell for Helmut Kohl, who united Germany but divided family.

Hitler's birthplace seizure backed by Austrian court.

AMERICAS

More court challenges expected for Trump’s new travel ban.

Trump travel ban comes into effect for six countries.

Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace later.

Senate revises Russia sanctions bill, sends it to House.

House passes 'Kate's Law' and bill targeting sanctuary cities.

Grassley: Why hasn't acting FBI chief recused himself on Flynn?

Susan Rice to testify before House Intelligence Committee: Report.

Top GOP senator wants vote on Trump's FBI nominee in July.

Brazil authorities seek arrest of 95 Rio de Janeiro police officers.

More Venezuelan children dying from preventable diseases amid crisis.

Mexico spyware scandal: Opposition politicians 'targeted'.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

IS withdraws from Syria's Aleppo province: monitor.

NATO: We will do more to fight terrorism.

Terrorists use tech to their advantage, but it's time to stop them, UN expert says.

Ex-CIA agent convicted over imam kidnapping to face sentencing.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Global stocks pressured by tough central banker talk.

Global cyberattack seems intent on havoc, not extortion.

Germany's Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech. Germany votes for 50m euro social media fines.

Could Apple's next big thing be a car?

Battle For The Iraqi City Of Mosul -- News Updates June 30, 2017



Reuters: Iraqi forces close in on IS redoubt in Mosul after declaring end of caliphate

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces attacked Islamic State's remaining redoubt in Mosul's Old City on Friday, a day after hailing the end of the insurgents' self-declared caliphate with the capture of an historic mosque that symbolized their power.

Dozens of civilians, mostly women and children, fled across the frontline toward the troops as bullets whizzed through the air. They were thirsty and tired, and some had been wounded.

Commanders of Iraq's Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) cautioned that with the mostly non-Iraqi IS militants dug in among thousands of civilians and likely to fight to the death, the battle ahead remained challenging.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: After Mosul the Iraqi army is going here .... After Mosul, Iraq Plans to Launch Assault on IS in Hawija (Voice of America)

Battle For The Iraqi City Of Mosul -- News Updates June 30, 2017

Iraqi prime minister declares end to ISIS caliphate, but long fight remains -- FOX News
Mosul victory in 'days' as IS falls back in Syria -- AFP
Iraqi troops mop-up in Mosul after pushing out ISIS stronghold -- CSM
Iraqi troops fighting for last few hundred meters of ISIS ground in Mosul -- RUDAW
Mosul: Iraqi forces take al-Nuri Mosque in final push to seize Old City -- CNN
Iraqi Troops in Mop-up Operations in Mosul, Victory in 'Days' -- Asharq Al-awsat
Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze extremists -- FOX News
Thousands of Iraqi children still trapped in Islamic State-held areas in Mosul, says UNICEF -- First Post
Mosul is 'Worst' Disaster for Iraqi Rescuers -- Asharq Al-awsat
Advances and setbacks: A timeline of key ISIS battles in Iraq and Syria -- The Straits Times

U.S. President Trump And Turkish President Erdogan In Intense Talks Over U.S. Military Support For Syria's Kurds

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke on the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 30.

Daily Hurriyet News: Turkey, US in intense talks over YPG split

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke on the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 30, while Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was holding discussions in Ankara following his visit to northern Syria.

The phone conversation between Erdoğan and U.S. President Trump ended on the afternoon on June 30, with the Turkish president also set to hold a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Ünal stated.

Read more ....

Update #1: Erdoğan and Trump make phone call, discuss Gulf crisis, YPG presence in Afrin -- Daily Sabah
Update #2: Erdogan, Trump talk amid dispute over arms to Kurd fighters -- Arab News/AP

WNU Editor: The top U.S. envoy in the war against the Islamic State is currently in Turkey to explain U.S. support for the YPG .... Top US anti-Daesh envoy in Turkey for talks amid tension over US support for YPG (Daily Sabah). As for the Kurds in Syria who are leery of Turkey .... they are expecting the worse .... Kurds in Northern Syria Fear New Turkish Incursion (VOA).

The Battle For The Syrian City of Raqqa -- News Updates June 30, 2017



Radio Free Europe: U.S.-Backed Syrian Forces Encircle Islamic State In Raqqa Stronghold

U.S.-backed forces have completely encircled the Islamic State extremist group's self-proclaimed capital in northern Syria after cutting off the last remaining escape route, a monitoring group and military officials said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, "have completely surrounded and besieged the Islamist militants inside Al-Raqqa city from all sides," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late on June 29.

The gains for anti-IS forces in Syria came as Iraqi forces announced the recapture of an iconic mosque in IS's last major Iraqi bastion Mosul, prompting Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to declare "the end" of the "fake" extremist state.

Raqqa has been under IS control since 2014.

Read more ....

The Battle For The Syrian City of Raqqa -- News Updates June 30, 2017

Islamic State counter attack causes fierce clashes in Syria's Raqqa -- Reuters
ISIS counter attack causes fierce clashes in Syria’s Raqqa -- Straits Times
Daesh retakes Raqqa district from US-backed forces: monitor -- TRT
Allies cut ISIS escape routes from Raqqa -- The Australian
Syria war: US-backed forces 'surround IS in Raqqa' -- BBC
Fighters surround ISIS-controlled Raqqa in Syria, commander says -- CNN
US-backed Syrian forces 'surround' ISIL in Raqqa -- Al Jazeera
Marine Corps artillery support vital as the fight for Raqqa intensifies --Military Times
US envoy on the battle to retake ISIS's capital: “They will die here in Syria” -- Jennifer Williams, VOX
Seven Days, a Gun, and a Prayer: The Pentagon's Plan to Pacify Raqqa --Foreign Policy

Report: FBI Conducting 1,000 Active Investigations Into ISIS-Related Threats Throughout The U.S.


Charlotte Observer: Feds confirm ISIS investigations underway in NC

Shortly after Justin Sullivan was sentenced to life in prison for planning to commit mass murder in support of the Islamic State, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose of Charlotte confirmed that investigations of other suspected ISIS sympathizers continue in North Carolina.

A domestic-terrorism expert told the Observer this week that the North Carolina probes are among some 1,000 active FBI investigations into ISIS-related threats encompassing all 50 states.

One case involves a 29-year-old Waxhaw man accused of lying to the FBI when he denied he told someone he planned to fly to Syria to fight with ISIS while helping others get there to do the same, according to a bill of indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charlotte.

Read more ....

Update: Feds report 1,000 active investigations in US into ISIS-related threats (American Thinker)

WNU Editor: You cannot watch all of them.

President Trump: The ‘Era Of Strategic Patience’ With North Korea Has ‘Failed’



NBC: Trump: ‘Era of Strategic Patience’ with North Korea has ‘Failed’

President Donald Trump was forceful and direct Friday, presenting a united front against what he called the "reckless and brutal regime in North Korea," as he stood next to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

"The North Korean dictatorship has no regard for the safety and security of its people or its neighbors," Trump said in the Rose Garden on Friday. "And has no respect for human life — and that's been proven over and over again."

The latest sign of brutality from the regime, Trump said, resulted in the death of American Otto Warmbier, who was released back to the United States earlier this month after being held in North Korea for over a year.

Signaling an urgency on North Korea and their continued nuclear efforts, Trump stressed "the era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed".

"Frankly, that patience is over," he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and the long range missiles to deliver them has changed the strategic situation in this part of the world. President Trump is right .... the "era of strategic patience" has not worked, and a new strategy needs to be found.

More News On President Trump's remarks That The ‘Era Of Strategic Patience’ With North Korea Has ‘Failed’

Trump says strategic patience with North Korea over -- Reuters
Trump, hosting Moon, sees 'many options' on N.Korea -- AFP
Trump: US patience with the North Korean regime 'is over' -- CNN
Trump: We have 'many options' on North Korea -- Politico

Is President Trump About To Start A Global Trade War?



Axios: Trump overrules cabinet, plots global trade war

With the political world distracted by President Trump's media wars, one of the most consequential and contentious internal debates of his presidency unfolded during a tense meeting Monday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, administration sources tell Axios.

* The outcome, with a potentially profound effect on U.S. economic and foreign policy, will be decided in coming days.
* With more than 20 top officials present, including Trump and Vice President Pence, the president and a small band of America First advisers made it clear they're hell-bent on imposing tariffs — potentially in the 20% range — on steel, and likely other imports.
* The penalties could eventually extend to other imports. Among those that may be considered: aluminum, semiconductors, paper, and appliances like washing machines.

One official estimated the sentiment in the room as 22 against and 3 in favor — but since one of the three is named Donald Trump, it was case closed.

No decision has been made, but the President is leaning towards imposing tariffs, despite opposition from nearly all his Cabinet.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Continuous trade deficits are never economically sustainable for the country that has them. I am just surprised that the U.S. has taken this long to respond to it.

More News On Concerns That President Trump About To Start A Global Trade War

Trump plots trade wars against Cabinet's advice: report -- The Hill
Trump Planning Steel Tariffs and Maybe a Trade War, to the Horror of Most of His Cabinet -- NYMag
Trump reportedly 'hell-bent' on imposing steel tariff despite objections from most advisors -- CNBC
Trump could start a trade war this week -- CNN
White House Readies Steel Verdict as Trade-War Worry Mounts -- Bloomberg
Trump’s trade plan sets up global clash over 'America First' strategy -- Politico
Trump wants to start a trade war with the biggest countries in the world -- Business Insider
Trump "Overrules" Cabinet, Prepares To Unleash Global Trade War -- Zero Hedge

The Kremlin Expects Next Weeks Trump-Putin Meeting Will Clarify Where U.S.-Russian Relations Are Going



Moscow Times: Lavrov: Trump-Putin Meeting Will Bring 'Clarity' on U.S.-Russia Relations

A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 summit next month will clarify the issue of cooperation between their two countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today.

U.S.-Russia relations are of "special importance" because "the solution to many issues, from maintaining strategic stability to settling regional crises," depends upon them, Lavrov said.

The foreign minister characterized the current situation as “abnormal” due to political in-fighting in Washington. However, the two presidents' meeting in Hamburg will likely “bring clarity on the prospects of Russo-American cooperation,” he said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Kremlin is on the verge of implementing counter-sanctions against the U.S. for last year's U.S. expulsion of diplomats .... as well as implementing a defense/military strategy that will probably conflict with a number of U.S. interests around the world. The purpose of this meeting (from the Kremlin's point of view) is to feel comfortable with President Trump that he is someone that the Kremlin does not need to be confrontational with. That there are numerous issues where common ground can be found .... and that counter-sanctions will not be necessary. In short .... Russian Putin needs to be reassured that he can work with President Trump .... even though the current environment in Washington is one that seeks confrontation with Russia.

More News On Next Weeks Trump-Putin Meeting At The G20

The Latest: Lavrov wants ‘pragmatism’ in Trump-Putin talks -- Washington Times/AP
Lavrov assures Hamburg meeting between Putin, Trump will clarify Russian-US ties -- TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Hopes Putin-Trump Meeting in Hamburg 'Clarifies' Ties -- Sputnik
Trump seeks 'more constructive relationship with Russia' ahead of second foreign trip -- Washington Examiner
Trump has reportedly asked his aides to come up with 'deliverables' he can offer to Putin in their big meeting -- Business Insider
What to Expect From Trump’s High-Stakes Meeting With Putin at the G20 Summit -- Fortune/AP
Long anticipated Trump-Putin meeting raises worries -- Politico
Don't expect much out of a Putin-Trump meeting -- CNN
Trump, Putin Meeting Next Week Can Be A Minefield For President -- International Business Times
Spies Fear Trump’s First Meeting With Putin -- Kimberly Dozier, Daily Beast
Kissinger calls Putin-Trump meeting a chance to mend ties -- Reuters
Kremlin comments on Kissinger's role in arranging Putin-Trump meeting -- TASS

Beijing Outraged Over U.S. Arms Sales To Taiwan And Sanctions On Chinese Banks With Ties To North Korea





Washington Post: Taiwan arms sale, North Korea sanctions outrage Beijing in test of U.S.-China ties under Trump

BEIJING — Call it President Trump’s hamburger diplomacy.

On Friday, U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and a clutch of American cattlemen in 10-gallon hats gathered at a chic hotel in Beijing to sip champagne and celebrate the return of American beef after 14 years.

The cubes of U.S. cattle were the product of the 100-day plan negotiated when Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in April. Trump’s message then was: You help us rein in North Korea, and the rest is on the table in trade talks.

But the message is changing — and so is the mood.

Just hours before the ceremonial return of U.S. beef, the White House announced two moves that could spoil the U.S.-China party: the latest round of arms sales to Taiwan and fresh sanctions on North Korea that target a Chinese bank.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: First things first .... there was never a U.S.-China "honeymoon" as some in the press are claiming. Second .... the Chinese are claiming that this violates the consensus reached when President Xi met President Trump in April .... US decision to sell arms to Taiwan ‘violated consensus’ reached by Xi, Trump in Florida (South China Morning Post). What's my take .... everything was contingent on China reigning in North Korea .... and that has not happened. Third .... Washington is calling Beijing's bluff and China is reacting .... The Trump administration calls China’s bluff on North Korea (Josh Rogin, Washington Post). My prediction .... this is nothing in comparison to what is going to happen when the U.S. starts to impose tariffs and restrictions on Chinese imports. that is when the "shit is going to hit the fan".

More News On Beijing's Outrage Over U.S. Arms Sales To Taiwan And Sanctions On Chinese Banks With Ties To North Korea

US, China relations begin to cool as Trump's honeymoon with Xi ends -- CNN
US-China honeymoon over: Washington sanctions Chinese bank and sells arms to Taiwan -- The Guardian
US risks angering China as it blacklists bank over dealings with North Korea and sells weapons to Taiwan -- The Independent
US arms sales to Taiwan will hurt Beijing-Washington ties, says China ambassador -- The Straits Times
Donald Trump-Xi Jinping honeymoon over: US sells arms to Taiwan, sanctions Chinese bank over North Korea -- First Post
U.S. sanctions two Chinese men, shipping firm, over North Korea ties -- Reuters
Trump sanctions Chinese bank in bid to rein in North Korea -- CNN
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, new sanctions hurt mutual confidence: Chinese ambassador -- Xinhuanet
China strongly protests US arms sales to Taiwan -- SFChronicle/AP
China's envoy in Washington bemoans US arms sale to Taiwan -- DW
Ambassador: US decision to approve Taiwan arms undermines US-China relations -- CNN
Arms to Taiwan and Action Against a Chinese Bank: Is Trump's US-China 'Honeymoon' Over? -- The Diplomat

Are America's Aircraft Carriers Becoming Obsolete?

The USS Gerald R. Ford Source: U.S. Navy

Bloomberg: How America’s Aircraft Carriers Could Become Obsolete

Modern missiles make them vulnerable. A $13 billion price tag makes them expensive. New technology may make them unnecessary.

President Donald Trump has been consistent in his argument that the U.S. Navy has shrunk to a woefully inadequate size. The Republican has repeatedly said he wants the service to expand, including a fleet of a dozen aircraft carriers. That plan isn’t in the Pentagon’s current budget, but on July 22 the Navy will formally commission CVN-78, the USS Gerald R. Ford, its newest, most sophisticated nuclear-powered carrier.

The Ford, hit with delays and technical glitches, is expected to become operational in 2020. One question about its formal readiness, however, rests on whether the Navy will perform “full-ship shock trials,” a test in which the service detonates explosives nearby to demonstrate its fitness. Some in Congress—which has mandated a carrier fleet no smaller than 11—want to move the Ford into duty more quickly to reduce strain on the rest of the carrier fleet.

Read more ....

Update: Are America's Aircraft Carriers On Their Way To Obsolescence? (Zero Hedge)

WNU Editor: Maybe this is the solution? .... Here's Why the U.S. Navy Could Add 'Light' Aircraft Carriers to the Fleet (Dave Majumdar, National Interest).

World News Briefs -- June 30, 2017



Reuters: Iraqi forces close in on IS redoubt in Mosul after declaring 'end of caliphate'

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces attacked Islamic State's remaining redoubt in Mosul's Old City on Friday, a day after formally declaring the end of the insurgents' self-declared caliphate and the capture of the historic mosque which symbolized their power.

Dozens of civilians fled in the direction of the Iraqi forces, mostly women and children, some wounded by insurgents fire, thirsty and tired.

Commanders of Iraq's CTS counter terrorism units cautioned that with the mostly non-Iraqi IS militants dug in among civilians and likely to fight to the death, the battle ahead was challenging.

CTS Major General Maan al-Saadi told Reuters it could take four to five days of fighting to capture the insurgents' redoubt by the Tigris River, defended by about 200 militants.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Mosul victory in 'days' as pressure on IS mounts.


US-backed Syrian forces 'surround' ISIL in Raqqa. IS retakes Raqa district from US-backed forces: monitor.

OPCW probe: Sarin used in deadly April 5 attack in Syria.

New conflicts threaten Syria after Islamic State defeat.

New batch of Turkish troops arrives in Qatar.

Lebanon refugee camps hit by five suicide bombers.

It was 129 degrees in Iran Thursday, which is one of the Earth's hottest temperatures ever recorded.

ASIA

Trump, South Korean president hold post-dinner talks on NKorea policy.

US blacklists Chinese bank, company and two nationals to pressure Beijing to rein in Pyongyang.

China condemns US sanctions over 'North Korea funding'. China, US ties sour over N.Korea, Taiwan.

North Korea drought mobilizes workers to fight drought, bans travel.

Massive military parade for Xi as Hong Kong activists freed. Xi asserts authority over Hong Kong in PLA troop inspection.

Chinese boats attack Vietnamese fishermen in South China Sea.

Myanmar to block visas for UN delegation.

Former TEPCO executives face trial over Fukushima nuclear disaster.

AFRICA

UN agrees to draw down Darfur peacekeeping force.

Congo violence fuels fears of return to 90s bloodbath.

DR Congo skips independence parade amid security fears.

US 'concerned' over Sudan human rights record: embassy.

Libya's oil output nears 1 million bpd, highest in four years: source.

Egypt has blocked over 100 local and international websites including HuffPost and Medium.

EUROPE

Protests, policy rows, volatile leaders — welcome to the Hamburg G20 summit.

G20: Angela Merkel sketches vision of French and German-led Europe.

Merkel issues warning to Trump ahead of G20 summit.

Germany legalises same-sex marriage after Angela Merkel allows free vote.

Slovenia wins maritime border dispute, Croatia defiant.

Awkward farewell for Helmut Kohl, who united Germany but divided family.

Hitler's birthplace seizure backed by Austrian court.

AMERICAS

Trump travel ban comes into effect for six countries.

Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace later.

Senate revises Russia sanctions bill, sends it to House.

House passes 'Kate's Law' and bill targeting sanctuary cities.

Grassley: Why hasn't acting FBI chief recused himself on Flynn?

Susan Rice to testify before House Intelligence Committee: Report.

Top GOP senator wants vote on Trump's FBI nominee in July.

Brazil authorities seek arrest of 95 Rio de Janeiro police officers.

More Venezuelan children dying from preventable diseases amid crisis.

Mexico spyware scandal: Opposition politicians 'targeted'.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

NATO: We will do more to fight terrorism.

Terrorists use tech to their advantage, but it's time to stop them, UN expert says.

Ex-CIA agent convicted over imam kidnapping to face sentencing.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Global cyberattack seems intent on havoc, not extortion.

Germany's Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech. Germany votes for 50m euro social media fines.

Could Apple's next big thing be a car?

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- June 30, 2017



Defense Tech: First Strike Against North Part Of South Korea’s Defense Strategy

The U.S. tends to avoid talk of a first strike against North Korea but pre-emptive action called the “Kill Chain” is part of the official and public national defense strategy of South Korea.

The stark difference between Seoul and Washington on the ultimate form of deterrence against North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is an example of the many issues in dispute in the once-solid U.S.-South Korea alliance.

Those differences will the subject of “frank and serious” discussions in White House talks between President Donald Trump and new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a senior White House official said on background Wednesday.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- June 30, 2017

North Korea Warns of War With US and 'Puppet' South as Trump Meets With Korean Leader -- Newsweek

Trump orders ‘new approach with military option’ to resolve North Korea nuclear crisis -- South China Morning Post

US Deploys 10 Long-Range Air-to-Ground Missiles to South Korea -- The Diplomat

Russia Delivers More Anti-Tank Missile Systems to Azerbaijan (VIDEO) -- Sputnik

Beijing's South China Sea outposts nearly set for missile deployment: report -- AFP

China says Pakistan military base talk pure speculation -- Reuters

South Korea develops self-propelled howitzer -- UPI

Here Is All the Weapons Japan Would Need to Fight North Korea In a War -- Kyle Mizokami, National Interest

Indian army chief tours border state with China amid tensions -- Reuters

Canada prolongs Iraq mission to 2019 -- AFP

German army receiving more Future Soldier System equipment -- UPI

Defense spending by European NATO countries to rise in 2017 -- UPI

Trump foreign policy: American military increasingly involved in Yemen civil war -- FOX News

U.S. plans to sell Taiwan about $1.42 billion in arms -- Reuters

US approves first arms sales to Taiwan under Trump in US$1.4 billion deal -- South China Morning Post

U.S. plans to sell Black Hawk helicopters to Thailand -- Reuters

Trump Set to Meet NATO Leaders Again Next Summer -- US News and World Report/AP

Study: Basing Troops in Europe, South Korea Is Cheaper Than Rotations -- Military.com/Stars and Stripes

Army general: US military wasn't 'necessarily concerned' about killing civilians in Iraq during the surge -- Business Insider

Why the F-22 Raptor Didn’t Get the Air-to-Air Kill in Syria -- Defense Tech

Senate panel approves $1.2B to start US Air Force OA-X aircraft procurement -- Defense News

F-35 Unreliability Risks Strain on Pentagon Budget, Tester Says -- Bloomberg

US Senate panel: Army's request for 17K more soldiers unrealistic -- The Hill

Glock Released Photos of its Modular Handgun System Entries -- Kit Up!

U.S. senators seek military ban on Kaspersky Lab products amid FBI probe -- Reuters

Senate Committee Approves Boeing Exec Shanahan as Deputy SecDef -- DoD Buzz

WikiLeaks Dump Reveals a Creepy CIA Location-Tracking Trick -- WIRED

Ex-CIA agent, accused of helping China, claims he exposed scheme -- Washington Post

Ex-CIA: Media leaks put lives of US foreign agents -- and Americans -- at risk. Is that worth a scoop? -- FOX News

Here's Why the U.S. Navy Could Add 'Light' Aircraft Carriers to the Fleet -- Dave Majumdar, National Interest

Future Weapons: Rivals Push Pentagon to Boost Funding for Hypersonics Research -- National Defense

Bombers: Long-Range Force Projection in the 21st Century -- Jerry Hendrix & James Price, RCD

Is The Russian Military Dangerous?

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu provided details of Russia's latest snap exercise at the National Defence Control Centre in Moscow on 16 March Source: Russian MoD

Dave Majumdar, National Interest: Just How Dangerous Is Russia's Military?

The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency has released a new assessment of Russian military power—reviving a Cold War-era practice. The agency concludes that the modern Russian military builds upon its Soviet heritage but has modernized its capabilities and doctrine for the present day.

“The Russian military has built on the military doctrine, structure, and capabilities of the former Soviet Union, and although still dependent on many of the older Soviet platforms, the Russians have modernized their military strategy, doctrine, and tactics to include use of asymmetric weapons like cyber and indirect action such as was observed in Ukraine,” the DIA report states.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Russia is spending the money to field a modern conventional military .... but it is still far away from matching what the U.S. and many of its allies can field.

Update: Is Putin's Russia the Critical Threat Americans Believe It to Be? (Ronald Suny, RCD).

Islamic State Forced To Try A New Strategy In Raqqa

A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) is shown in Raqqa, Syria, June 27, 2017.

VOA: Battered by US Airstrikes, IS Tries New Strategy in Raqqa

WASHINGTON — With Islamic State in disarray in Raqqa, its fighters are switching to small-scale suicide attacks to fend off a rapid offensive by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and a stream of coalition airstrikes, SDF commanders say.

Unlike past battles, when IS militants attacked SDF front lines with hundreds of fighters and car bombs, the terror group’s new strategy involves using small groups of suicide bombers – six or seven -- to cause large numbers of casualties, SDF commanders on the scene told VOA.

“This new method involves scattered attacks and most likely ends in the killing of all attackers,” SDF commander Agid Muhammad told VOA from Raqqa.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The battle for Raqqa is going to end .... the question is when. On a side note, it appears that U.S. artillery is having a devastating impact on ISIS .... This Is The Devastating Piece of Artillery Leading The Ground Fight Against ISIS (Task & Purpose).

A Look At The Former Super-Secret U.S. Navy Submarine USS Halibut (SSGN-587)

View of Halibut (SSGN-587) departing San Francisco likely in the mid 1970's. Navsource.org

Kyle Mizokami, National Interest: How a Super-Secret U.S. Navy Submarine Tapped Russia's Underwater Communications Cables

In 1970, Halibut was again modified to accommodate the Navy’s deep water saturation divers. The following year, it went to sea again to participate in Ivy Bells, a secret operation to install taps on the underwater communications cables connecting the Soviet ballistic missile submarine base at Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula with Moscow’s Pacific Fleet headquarters at Vladivostok.

The taps, installed by divers and their ROVs, allowed Washington to listen in on message traffic to Soviet nuclear forces. Conducted at the bottom of the frigid Sea of Okhotsk, the Ivy Bells missions were conducted at the highest level of secrecy, as the Soviets would have quickly abandoned the use of underwater cables had they known they were compromised.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Halibut's Wikipedia page is an interesting read .... USS Halibut (SSGN-587).

Global Debt Is Now A Record $217 Trillion


Reuters: Emerging market borrowing spree lifts global debt to record $217 trillion -IIF

Global debt levels have surged to a record $217 trillion, driven by a $3 trillion borrowing spree in the developing world, the Institute of International Finance said, warning of risks to emerging markets from short-term debt repayments.

The IIF, one of the most authoritative trackers of capital flows, said in a note late on Tuesday that global debt amounted to 327 percent of the world's annual economic output (GDP) by the first quarter of 2017 and the rise was driven principally by emerging market borrowing.

While advanced economies continued to deleverage, cutting total public and private debt by over $2 trillion in the past year, the report found total debt in developing countries had risen by $3 trillion to $56 trillion.

Read more ....

Update #1: Global Debt Hits A New Record High Of $217 Trillion; 327% Of GDP (Zero Hedge)
Update #2: World’s debt over three times greater than economic output (RT)

WNU Editor: This will not end well.

China, South Korea, Japan Summit ‘Postponed’ Over Tensions On The Deployment Of The U.S. Missile Defence Shield

Image: Flickr/futureatlas.com.

South China Morning Post: China, South Korea, Japan summit ‘postponed’ amid missile shield row

Talks planned for next month will not go ahead, sources say, with Beijing’s anger over Seoul’s deployment of a missile defence shield among the reasons.

A summit of top officials from China, South Korea and Japan has been postponed and will not be held next month as Tokyo had planned, according to diplomatic sources.

China’s reluctance to attend partly prompted by the prolonged dispute between Beijing and Seoul over the deployment of a US-developed anti-missile system on the Korean peninsula were blamed, the sources and Japanese media said on Thursday.

Tokyo had wanted to host the summit either between July 19 and 21 or July 24 and 26, but China replied it was “difficult” to attend during those dates, the Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported, citing diplomatic sources.

However, a South Korean diplomatic source told the South China Morning Post that deteriorating relations between China and Japan, which have long been stained by territorial disputes over islands in the East China Sea, were also a reason behind the postponement.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The summit may be postponed, but China - Japan talks on preventing accidental clashes in the East China Sea are progressing .... Japan, China start talks to prevent accidental clashes in East China Sea, disputed isles (Japan Times/Kyodo).

These Are The Key Men In Chinese President Xi's Inner Circle

President Xi Jinping waits to meet Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying after arriving in the city on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

South China Morning Post: All the president’s men – the key players at Xi Jinping’s side in Hong Kong

The handful of trusted officials include party big shots and close companions, such as the PLA’s top general, who are rarely seen during the leader’s trips.

As President Xi Jinping landed in Hong Kong for the first time as the country’s top leader on Thursday, he and his wife were accompanied by a pool of officials in charge of Beijing’s policies for the city.

The handful of officials, most of them Xi’s trusted aides, include party big shots involved in top-level policymaking, government and foreign affairs. They include companions rarely seen in Xi’s domestic and overseas trips, such as the PLA’s top general, and those who run the nerve hubs of China’s legislature and consultation body that ensure the loyalty of social elites.

Read more ....

Previous Post: How One Family In China Pulls The Strings Of Those Who Rule China (June 29, 2017)

WNU Editor: Presidential Chief of Staff Li Zhanshu is the gate-keeper if you want access to President Xi. I am surprised to see top policy adviser Wang Huning in this report. He is rarely mentioned in the press and he is completely unknown in the West .... but (after President Xi) he is China's top strategist and I would say that many of the foreign and domestic policies that are driving China today originated from him.

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Concerns That China's Newest Destroyer Can Match What The Japanese And The U.S. Navy Currently Have

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Ralph Jennings, Forbes: New Chinese Navy Destroyer Can Best Japan, India And Maybe The United States

The expansion of China’s military is no secret. Beijing raised the People’s Liberation Army budget by 7% this year, typical of its annual increases. Late last year it floated one aircraft carrier into the open Pacific and in April unveiled a domestically built aircraft carrier, its second in the fleet. On Wednesday the PLA navy announced it had finished work on a destroyer warship that can displace 10,000 tons, according to the state-run China Daily news website.

This is a particularly major advance. The extra-hardy, domestically built destroyer not only helps Beijing double down on its disputed claims in the East and South China seas but also gives it new deterrent weight against its most powerful Asian rivals such as Japan and India.

Read more ....

Previous Post: China's Navy Launches A New Class Of Destroyer (June 28, 2017)

WNU Editor: The naval arms race begins.

Picture Of The Day

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in the rain during a wreath-laying ceremony marking the anniversary of the Nazi German invasion in 1941, by the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Russia June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

China Has Built New Military Facilities On Islands In The South China Sea

Construction is shown on Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Islands, the disputed South China Sea in this June 19, 2017 satellite image released by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to Reuters on June 29, 2017. MANDATORY CREDIT CSIS/AMTI DigitalGlobe/Handout via REUTERS

Reuters: China builds new military facilities on South China Sea islands: think tank

China has built new military facilities on islands in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Thursday, a move that could raise tensions with Washington, which has accused Beijing of militarizing the vital waterway.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, said new satellite images show missile shelters and radar and communications facilities being built on the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs in the Spratly Islands.

The United States has criticized China's build-up of military facilities on the artificial islands and is concerned they could be used to restrict free movement through the South China Sea, an important trade route.

Read more ....

Update: China builds new missile shelters on South China Sea islands (Financial Times)

WNU Editor: Yup .... the U.S. and its allies in the region need a better strategy .... South China Sea: America needs a better strategy (The Straits Times).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Only 4 U.S. Intelligence Agencies Approved "Russia Hacking" Assessment. Not All


Consortium News: NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard

Exclusive: A founding Russia-gate myth is that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that Russia hacked into and distributed Democratic emails, a falsehood that The New York Times has belatedly retracted, reports Robert Parry.

The New York Times has finally admitted that one of the favorite Russia-gate canards – that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred on the assessment of Russian hacking of Democratic emails – is false.

On Thursday, the Times appended a correction to a June 25 article that had repeated the false claim, which has been used by Democrats and the mainstream media for months to brush aside any doubts about the foundation of the Russia-gate scandal and portray President Trump as delusional for doubting what all 17 intelligence agencies supposedly knew to be true.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It only took the New York Times a few months to correct this story. In the meantime the Russians are laughing at the New York Times .... New York Times Retracts Rumor on Russia-Gate Following Ridicule (Sputnik).

German Chancellor Merkel Issues A Warning To President Trump Ahead Of Next Weeks' G20 Summit In Hamburg



Bloomberg: Merkel Takes On Trump and Brexit in Combative G-20 Preview

* Chancellor champions Europe, calls climate accord irreversible
* Macron says it’s ‘pointless’ to try to isolate Trump at G-20

German Chancellor Angela Merkel championed Europe, dismissed Brexit and said efforts to fight climate change are irreversible in a combative speech ahead of the Group of 20 summit that’s shaping up to be a confrontation over the direction of global policy.

Merkel, in a speech to lawmakers in Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday, noted that “the world has become less united” and acknowledged that discussions at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg on July 7-8 “will be very difficult.”

“The discord is obvious and it would be dishonest to paper over the conflict,” said Merkel, who later held talks with eight other European leaders to align positions before the summit.

Read more ....

Update: Merkel issues warning to Trump ahead of G20 summit (Reuters)

WNU Editor: She is not going to change President Trump's mind. Her speech is to a German audience, and she is solidifying her vote for this year's German elections.