Monday, January 23, 2017
U.S. Counterintelligence Agents Are Investigating President Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Over His Russian Contacts
Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, at the inaugural parade in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo: lucas jackson/Reuters
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Eyes Michael Flynn’s Links to Russia
Counterintelligence agents have investigated communications by President Trump’s national security adviser, including phone calls to Russian ambassador in late December
WASHINGTON—U.S. counterintelligence agents have investigated communications that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser had with Russian officials, according to people familiar with the matter.
Michael Flynn is the first person inside the White House under Mr. Trump whose communications are known to have faced scrutiny as part of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Treasury Department to determine the extent of Russian government contacts with people close to Mr. Trump.
It isn’t clear when the counterintelligence inquiry began, whether it produced any incriminating evidence or if it is continuing. Mr. Flynn, a retired general who became national security adviser with Mr. Trump’s inauguration, plays a key role in setting U.S. policy toward Russia.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russia has been known for a long time .... so why the investigation now? This has the potential of becoming a very serious story (or maybe not).
More News On U.S. Counterintelligence Agents Investigating President Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Over His Russian Contacts
Flynn’s communications with Russia investigated: report -- The Hill
US counterintelligence agents probed Trump adviser Flynn’s Russia ties: WSJ -- CNBC
U.S. Counterintelligence Probes Flynn’s Russian Contacts: Wall Street Journal -- RFE
U.S. Investigated National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia Ties -- NYMag
US Spy Agencies Probe Trump's National Security Adviser's Ties to Russia -- Sputnik
A-12 Avenger (YouTube)
Robert Farley, National Interest: Stealth Bombers Flying from Aircraft Carriers: 5 Killer Weapons the U.S. Military Never Built
Weapons die for all kinds of different reasons. Sometimes they happen at the wrong time, either in the midst of defense austerity, or with the wrong constellation of personnel. Sometimes they fall victim to the byzantine bureaucracy of the Pentagon, or to turf fights between the services. And sometimes they die because they were a bad idea in the first place. For the same reasons, bad defense systems can often survive the most inept management if they fill a particular niche well enough.
This article concentrates on five systems that died, but that might have had transformative effects if they had survived. These transformations would only rarely have changed the course of wars (countries win and lose wars for many reasons besides technology), but rather would have had ripple effects across the entire defense industrial base, altering how our military organizations approached warfighting and procurement. Not all the changes would have been for the best; sometimes programs are canceled for sound reasons.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: The A-12 Avenger and the Future Combat Systems are the two programs that have always caught my eye.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
The Pentagon Is Facing A Manpower Shortage Even With President Trump's Goal Of Boosting The U.S. Military
Marines cheer on a fellow Marine during a relay as part of the "Super Squadron" competition at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Jan. 13, 2017. The Marines are assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron 1. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. George Melendez
Washington Times: Manpower shortage threatens Trump’s hopes to rebuild military
Manpower, not money, may prove a bigger challenge to President Trump’s hopes to rebuild what he calls a “hollowed-out” U.S. military.
While much of the debate over how the administration will pay for its ambitious defense buildup, an equally large question mark looms over whether Mr. Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis can find enough willing and able recruits to meet the demands for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump called for a restoration of force levels across the services to numbers before a series of “sequestration” cuts to defense spending, including a 540,000-member Army, backed by a 350-ship Navy and an Air Force of 1,200 fighter aircraft.
The increases to the Navy and Air Force would likely result in a small uptick of 100,000 sailors and airmen combined, compared with the force levels sought in the Army and Marine Corps, Mark Cancian, senior international security adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Times.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: The U.S. military is a volunteer force .... and serving in the military is a career choice that many Americans are more and more deciding to not make. To build up its manpower will take time .... and of course money .... something that is in short supply in the U.S. today.
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
EW: Trump inauguration ratings second biggest in 36 years
Donald Trump’s inauguration ratings were the second-highest in 36 years, according to Nielsen.
The swearing-in of the 45th president was seen by 30.6 million viewers across 12 networks.
The only inauguration over the last three decades that tops Trump’s number in the linear ratings? Barack Obama’s first inauguration back in 2009, which had a record-setting 37.8 million viewers. So Trump was down from the last new president to take office.
But before that, to get an Inauguration Day number this high, you’d have to go all the way back to Ronald Reagan in 1981, who was seen by 41.8 million viewers (Nielsen released tracking for inauguration ratings back to 1969).
Trump’s numbers are all the more remarkable considering he’s entering into office with rather low approval ratings compared to past presidents and sparked protests worldwide along with vows to not watch his inauguration.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: I watched both of President Obama's inaugurations on TV .... President Trump I watched online. I am not surprised that President Reagan holds the record. But these inauguration ratings do not incorporate the impact that online viewing has .... which has grown astronomically in just the past few years. As for the Trump - main stream media war .... it is going to get worse ..... the White House is hitting back, and the main stream media hates it .... White House vows to fight media 'tooth and nail' over Trump coverage (Reuters).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Vows To Seek Compromises On Issues Like Trade And Military Spending With U.S. President Trump
German Chancellor Angela Merkel walks in the Lower house of parliament Bundestag before a ceremony to commemorate victims of the Berlin truck attack in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Reuters: Merkel vows compromise with U.S. on trade, military spending
German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Saturday to seek compromises on issues like trade and military spending with U.S. President Donald Trump, adding she would work on preserving the important relationship between Europe and the United States.
"He made his convictions clear in his inauguration speech," Merkel said in remarks broadcast live, a day after Trump vowed to put 'America first'.
Speaking at a news conference in the south-western town of Schoental, Merkel struck a more conciliatory tone toward Trump than Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who on Friday said Germany should prepare for a rough ride under the new U.S. president.
Relations with the United States, Germany's biggest trading partner, are likely to be a hot topic in electioneering in coming months leading to a general election in September.
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WNU Editor: Germany enjoys an annual $60 billion trade surplus with the U.S. .... German Chancellor Merkel knows this .... and she is not going to jeopardize it. This is a major change from just a few months ago .... Obama and Merkel tell Trump not to ditch EU trade deal (Politico). Her remarks on Saturday are also a repudiation of her Vice-Chancellor .... Germany must prepare for 'rough ride' under Trump: Vice Chancellor (Reuters). My prediction .... German Chancellor Angela Merkel has read the tea leaves, and she will seek an agreement with the Trump administration ASAP.
Iran's Atomic Chief Warms That Iran Will Quickly Ramp Up Its Nuclear Program If President Trump 'Tears-Up' The Deal
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), a vice-president of Iran, and key architect of deal U.S. President Donald Trump wants to tear up, says he'll 'wait and see' on what the new administration actually does. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)
CBC News: If Trump nixes nuclear deal, 'we are prepared,' says country's atomic chief
Atomic energy chief is a key architect of nuclear deal Trump wants to tear up
Iran says it is reserving judgment on new U.S. President Donald Trump. But if he does, as he's vowed, "tear up" the international deal Tehran reached on curbing its nuclear program, it could quickly ramp that program back up, says the country's atomic energy chief.
In the first comments on Trump's inauguration from a high-ranking member of Iran's government, Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also a vice-president, said he viewed the absence of a mention of Iran in Trump's inaugural speech as "positive."
Read more ....
More News On Iran's Atomic Chief Warming That Iran Will Quickly Ramp Up Its Nuclear Program If President Trump 'Tears-Up' The Deal
Iran says will ‘act appropriately’ if Trump violates nuclear deal -- Tehran Times
Iran to ‘Act Appropriately’ If Trump Nixes JCPOA: AEOI Chief -- Tasnim News Agency
Iranian Atomic Energy Chief: If Trump Rips Up Nuclear Deal, We Will ‘Snap Back’ and Be In Better Position Than Before -- Algemeiner
Iran vows reprisal upon breach of nuclear deal -- CCTV
Iran to resume enhanced nuclear program if Trump dishonors P5+1 agreement -- RT
A U.S. Army transport truck (pictured) slid off a snowy road in Poland on Saturday, spilling tank ammunition and injuring two soldiers
Daily Mail: Army truck slides off the road in Poland, spilling tank ammunition and injuring two U.S. soldiers
* Transport truck carrying M-1 Abrams tank ammunition slid off road on Saturday
* Investigation says truck was traveling too fast on snowy road after dark
* Two soldiers were injured, with one hospitalized after the crash
* Armored brigade present as part of first continuous U.S. deployment to Poland since the fall of communism; Kremlin has strongly criticized the troop presence
An Army transport truck carrying tank ammunition skidded off a snowy road in Poland on Saturday, injuring two U.S. soldiers.
A preliminary investigation indicated that the truck was traveling too fast for the winter road conditions, and the driver lost control and slid off the road, according to a Polish Defense Ministry communique.
Some of the M-1 ammunition for M-1 Abrams tanks the truck was hauling spilled onto the road leading to Zagan, where several hundred U.S. troops and equipment for an American armored brigade are based.
Read more ....
Update: US military truck overturns on Polish road, spills tank shells (RT)
WNU Editor: Traveling fast on an icy winter road .... a perfect recipe for an accident.
Reuters: Trump to begin renegotiating NAFTA pact soon with Mexico, Canada
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he plans talks soon with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"We will be starting negotiations having to do with NAFTA," Trump said at a swearing-in ceremony for his top White House advisers. "We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border."
Trump pledged during his presidential campaign that if elected he would renegotiate the NAFTA trade pact to provide more favorable terms to the United States.
NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, and other trade deals became lightning rods for voter anger in the U.S. industrial heartland states that swept Trump to power this month.
Read more ....
WU Editor: According to Canadian media pundits (for those in Canada I am referring to Craig Oliver's response on today's CTV's Question Period) .... we should stall and prolong these talks as long as possible while working with Canada's allies in Congress and on the border states to raise objections to changing this trade agreement. I am also reading the same thing from Mexico .... delay or object to any revision. What's my take .... this is the wrong approach. By announcing his wish to renegotiate the agreement .... President Trump has just killed all future plans by U.S. companies who may want to invest in a place like Mexico because of its cheap labor and easier regulatory environment .... or in Canada because of educated workforce and infrastructure. After-all .... who wants to make an international investment when the rules may change. President-elect Trump knows this .... and I would venture that his policy will be to delay serious negotiations .... since he has already accomplished what he had wanted .... a pause in U.S. companies who are interested in moving their manufacturing facilities to Mexico .... and to a lesser extent .... to Canada. My prediction .... the governments in both Canada and Mexico know that any delay in talks will only hurt their economies .... so do not be surprised if they push for talks sooner rather than later. And when it is over .... I expect a revised agreement near the end of President Trump's term. But in the interim .... starting today .... expect no more announcements of U.S. manufacturing jobs being relocated to Mexico.
The next big trade battle will be with China .... and I predict President Trump's approach will be different. He will be wanting reciprocity .... and if he does not get what he wants, he will impose the same policies on China that China imposes on the U.S.. This .... I fear .... can become very messy.
Update: Yup .... a clear sign (from China of all places) that change is coming .... Foxconn CEO says investment for display plant in U.S. would exceed $7 billion (Reuters).
More News On President Trump Vowing To Start Negotiating NAFTA With Mexico And Canada
Trump: ‘We’re going to start renegotiating NAFTA’ -- The Hill
Trump to begin renegotiating NAFTA with leaders of Mexico, Canada -- CNN
President Trump vows to start renegotiating NAFTA -- CBS News
Trump vows to 'start renegotiating' NAFTA with Mexico, Canada -- AFP
Trump makes it official: He will renegotiate NAFTA -- USA Today
President Trump Promises ‘Good Results’ From Nafta Talks -- Bloomberg
Trump says Nafta 'renegotiations' with Mexico and Canada to start -- BBC
New York Times: Theresa May Is Grilled Over U.K. Missile Test Failure
LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain refused to comment on Sunday about the reported failure of an unarmed British Trident missile that was test-fired from a submarine off the coast of Florida last June.
Mrs. May said she had “absolute faith in our Trident missiles” in a television interview with the BBC, but she would not say whether she had known about the failure or whether, as The Sunday Times of London reported, it had been covered up by Downing Street under her predecessor, David Cameron, shortly before the referendum on Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Mrs. May did not mention any missile failure in her first major speech to Parliament on July 18, when she persuaded Parliament to spend up to 40 billion pounds, or about $53 billion then, on four new submarines to keep Britain’s nuclear deterrent up-to-date.
Read more ....
Previous Post: No. 10 Covered Up A Failed British Trident Missile Test Off The U.S. Coast Last Year (January 21, 2017)
WNU Editor: This has to be cleared up. $53 billion is not chump change.
More News On British PM Theresa May Refusing To Answer Questions On Last Year's British Trident Missile Failure
Missile failure off Florida? British leader won’t say -- Washington Post/AP
Britain's May refuses to talk about reported test missile failure -- UPI
Theresa May under pressure over Trident missile test -- BBC
Theresa May 'faith' in Trident after test 'malfunction' -- BBC
British PM faces allegations of knowledge of alleged nuclear misfire -- CSM
Theresa May refuses to answer four times whether she knew about Government 'cover-up' on Trident -- The Independent
Theresa May to face grilling over British Trident nuclear weapon misfire -- The Australian
MoD cannot fall back on usual excuses to explain Trident misfire -- Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian
Activists leave the site of a limousine which was set ablaze during a protest against Trump. Someone wrote on the side of the burning limo: 'We the People'
Daily Mail: Majority of 230 protesters arrested on Inauguration Day will face 10 years in prison and $25k fine as US attorney says they will be charged with felony rioting
* 230 people have been arrested and six police officers injured in the D.C.protests against President Trump
* Many any of those arrested will reportedly face up to a 10 year prison sentence and $25,000 fine
* A violent rampage started two blocks from the White House in McPherson Square and along K Street
* A limo was set on fire after destructive demonstrators threw a flare into its shattered windows
* Police with shields lined up and blocked the parade route as riots broke out around the city
* Officials have used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades on the mob
* Windows have been smashed at Starbucks, McDonald's and Bank of America buildings
* Broadcaster Larry King said the windows of his SUV were smashed by protesters while he was in studios
Most of the 230 rioters arrested after violent protests erupted in Washington D.C. following Donald Trump's inauguration will be charged with felony rioting, federal prosecutors said on Saturday.
The charge carries a punishment of up to ten years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
Thousand of protesters launched a violent rampage just blocks away from the White House as anti-Trump demonstrators smashed store windows, set fire to cars and threw bricks at police.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: Another sign that business as usual is no more. This is no longer President Obama's Justice Department .... and I would not be surprised if the message was sent out by the incoming White House to prosecute these rioters to the full extent of the law. And while I have to wonder if a DC jury will convict these rioters .... the prospect of spending a few years in jail, heavy fines .... and even heavier legal bills .... should be more than enough to dissuade all but the committed.
U.S. President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Youtube
RT: ‘Months, not weeks’ before a Trump-Putin meeting can be organized – Kremlin
It would take months rather than weeks to organize a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“It won’t happens in a matter of weeks,” Peskov said of a possible meeting between the two leaders, in an interview with the BBC as cited by Russian news agencies. “Let’s hope that it can happen in months to come.”
Peskov added that no negotiations between Moscow and Washington on the matter were underway, but this may change once Trump and Putin have a phone conversation in the near future.
“President Putin will call President Trump after the inauguration to congratulate him. It’s a protocol thing that has to be done,” he said. “We expect that they may discuss their positions on a possible meeting.”
He added that whenever the meeting happens, “Putin would be ready.”
Read more ....
Update #1: Russia's Putin ready to meet Trump, preparations may take months: TASS (Reuters)
Update #2: Trump-Putin Meeting Could Take Months (IBTIMES)
WNU Editor: These meetings always take time to arrange. I had a taste of it when Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev visited China in 1989 to meet Deng Xiaoping (link is here). Preparations and negotiations took almost two years .... and every detail was worked out months in advance (i.e. the exact time for the meeting, locations, snacks, etc.). In the case of Trump - Putin .... they will be meeting at the G20 .... but what will be discussed will first be arranged by the officials from both the White House/State Department and the Kremlin/Foreign Office .... and that will probably start to happen when Rex Tillerson is confirmed, and his aides/officials/etc. are hired/confirmed/etc..
Washington Post: Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Trump spoke Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a brief conversation that Trump described as “very nice,” and Netanyahu called “very warm.”
Netanyahu, in a statement issued by his office, said Trump had invited him to visit the White House in February, although a final date was not yet set. They discussed the Iran nuclear deal, the “peace process with the Palestinians,” and other issues,” the Israeli leader said, adding that he had “expressed his desire to work closely . . . with no daylight between the United States and Israel.”
The White House provided no initial details of the call, which was scheduled to last 30 minutes. Trump characterized it to reporters gathered to witnesses the swearing in of his new White House staff.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: If this happens it will be a signal to the world that U.S. foreign policy as we know it is about to change .... Donald Trump ‘to announce US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday' (The Independent).
More News On Today's Brief Conversation Between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Trump Tells Netanyahu: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Only Through Direct Negotiations -- Haaretz
With Trump in the White House, Israel moves aggressively to build on disputed land -- L.A. Times
President Trump pressures Israel to postpone vote on settlement annexation bill -- Al Bawaba
`Very beginning´ of Israeli embassy move discussions, says White House -- Daily Mail/Press Association
Trump invites Netanyahu for early February meeting -- CNN
A pedestrian walks past the store 'Army of Russia', located opposite the U.S. embassy, with an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump seen on the advertising board, in Moscow, Russia, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Steven Metz, WPR: Which of America’s Adversaries Will Test Trump First?
America’s adversaries are almost certain to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump early on, testing his inexperience in national security affairs and his propensity to personalize political interactions. How he and his team respond will show the mettle of the new administration and determine whether other adversaries mount challenges of their own. What is not clear, though, is which of America’s adversaries will move first.
Russia, which appears to have launched a multidimensional assault to weaken Western democracies, seems the least likely to challenge the new administration. Indications are that Trump will get along well with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has shown little concern for Russia’s cyberattacks, intervention in the U.S. electoral process, and aggression against neighboring states. Hence Putin would gain little from openly testing the Trump administration, at least in the short run.
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WNU Editor: Russia wants better relations with the U.S. to stop the build-up to Cold War II, and to eliminate current sanctions .... so no test from them. China has traditionally been the first country to test an incoming U.S. President .... but they do not want to give an excuse to President Trump to start a trade war and/or trade restrictions .... so they will stay quiet. My money is on either North Korea (testing a nuclear device or launching a missile), or Iran (naval confrontation in the Persian Gulf).
Reuters: West African troops near Gambia's capital after Jammeh flees
West African troops were seen approaching Gambia's capital, Banjul, on Sunday, several witnesses said, as they sought to secure the country and allow new President Adama Barrow to take office after its former ruler fled overnight.
Yahya Jammeh, who led Gambia for 22 years but refused to accept defeat in a December election, flew out of Banjul late on Saturday en route to Equatorial Guinea as the regional force was poised to remove him.
Several witnesses in Barra, a town on the opposite bank of the Gambia River from Banjul, saw scores of soldiers massing near a ferry terminal.
"I saw a lot of them. Too many to count," said Pamadou Joof, 26, who operates a pirogue, a type of small boat. "They had vehicles and a lot of guns."
Read more ....
More News On Former President Yahya Jammeh leaves The Gambia
Ex-President Yahya Jammeh leaves The Gambia after losing election -- BBC
Gambia: Defeated leader Jammeh leaves country after election loss -- CNN
Yahya Jammeh leaves the Gambia after 22 years of rule -- The Guardian
Gambia: Former leader flies out of Banjul airport with President of Guinea -- The Independent
Gambia awaits new leader, but exiled one has right to return -- AP
Jammeh Cedes Power, Flies into Exile -- VOA
The Gambia awaits new era of democracy under Adama Barrow -- The Guardian/AP
Gambia: A lesson for African dictators -- Solomon Ayele Dersso, Al Jazeera
Soldiers march past the podium during a military parade in Pyongyang (Reuters)
Daniel R. DePetris, The National Interest: Is North Korea's Military the Ultimate Paper Tiger (That Could Still Kill Millions)?
Iran’s regional aggression. Budget turmoil at home. Domestic politics. An establishment in Washington resistant to reform. Ongoing wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. President-elect Donald Trump will have all of this to focus on and more, including the possibility of a Republican Party—a party that, let’s be honest, wasn’t especially happy that Trump won the GOP nomination—opposing a Trump White House on the construction of a border wall and on a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan.
None, however, will come as close on the Richter scale as rising instability on the Korean Peninsula, powered first and foremost by a North Korean nuclear and ballistic-missile program that is advancing in both quality and quantity. Indeed, just like his predecessor, Trump comes to office dealing with a North Korean government that isn’t particularly interested in negotiating its nuclear deterrent away—except today, Pyongyang for all intents and purposes is a nuclear-weapons state, whether Washington will accept that reality or not.
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WNU Editor:The South Koreans have invested tens of billions of dollars in their military because of their fears on what North Korea is capable of. In their eyes .... North Korea is not a "paper tiger".
Washington Post: Trump administration not sending a delegation to Syria peace talks
The Trump administration will not send a delegation to next week’s Syrian peace talks, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, because of the “immediate demands of the transition,” the State Department said Saturday.
Russia’s ambassador to the United States had personally invited President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, to the meeting, scheduled to begin Monday in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. The Obama administration was not invited.
“The United States is committed to a political resolution to the Syrian crisis through a Syrian-owned process, which can bring about a more representative, peaceful, and united Syria,” acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. It said that the U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan would attend as an observer.
Read more ....
WNU Editor: The U.S. government is in transition right now .... it is going to take a few months before key people have been nominated and vetted before policies are brought forward and implemented. It should be noted that it is Russia that is pushing for the U.S. to participate against the wishes of Iran, and it is Russia that pointedly made this offer to the incoming Trump administration and not to the Obama administration. But there will be a U.S. observer at these talks.