Friday, April 20, 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov: Putin & Trump Will Not Allow Armed Confrontation Between Russia, US

© Saul Loeb / AFP

RT: Putin & Trump will not allow armed confrontation between Russia, US – Lavrov

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will absolutely not allow armed confrontation between Russia and the US, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told RIA Novosti in an interview.

“Speaking about risks of a military confrontation, I am 100 percent sure that [both the US and Russian] militaries won’t allow this, and of course neither will President [Vladimir] Putin or President [Donald] Trump,” Lavrov said.

“After all they are leaders, elected by their people and are responsible for their peace,” the Russian foreign minister added.


Amid deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington, Lavrov signaled that there are attempts to ease the knot. In particular, the foreign minister announced that the US president invited his Russian counterpart to Washington during a phone call. Trump said he would “be glad to see [Putin] in the White House” and then added that he “would be happy to make a reciprocal visit [to Moscow].”

Read more ....

Update: Lavrov: "I'm 100% Certain Trump And Putin Wouldn't Allow A Military Confrontation" (Zero Hedge)

WNU editor: I have a number of concerns about Russian President Putin and President Trump .... and I disagree with both men a lot. But on this core issue of war .... I agree with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov .... I have confidence that both men will move heaven and earth to make sure that such an outcome never happens.

Three Australian Warships Were Challenged By The Chinese Military In The South China Sea

HMAS Toowoomba is among the ships challenged by the Chinese military while on deployment in South East Asia. (Supplied: Royal Australian Navy)

ABC News Online: Australian warships challenged by Chinese military in South China Sea

Three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military as they travelled through the disputed South China Sea earlier this month, the ABC can reveal.

The confrontations with the People's Liberation Army are believed to have occurred as China was conducting its largest ever naval exercises in the hotly contested waters.

Defence sources have confirmed HMAS Anzac, HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Success were challenged by the PLA Navy as they were transiting towards Vietnam where they are now conducting a three-day goodwill visit in Ho Chi Minh City.

Read more ....

More News On Three Australian Warships Being Challenged By The Chinese Military In The South China Sea

China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say -- CNN
China says had 'encounter' with Australian navy in South China Sea -- Reuters
Australian warships 'challenged' by Chinese navy in South China Sea -- The Guardian
The Chinese navy challenged Australian warships in the South China Sea as it conducted its largest-ever naval parade -- Business Insider
Three Australian warships are confronted by the Chinese military in ‘robust’ dispute in the South China Sea -- Daily Mail
Chinese military 'challenged Australian warships in the South China Sea' -- The Telegraph
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia should be able to sail its ships wherever it wants -- The West Australian

This New Start-Up Wants To Provide 'Live And Unfiltered' High Definition Footage Of Every Inch Of Earth

EarthNow will offer its stream and intelligent vision services to a range of government and enterprise customers. At the same time, it expects to allow civilians to access the video from a smartphone or tablet

Daily Mail: Bill Gates backs a $1 billion plan to cover Earth in 'Big Brother' satellites capable of streaming 'live and unfiltered' HD footage of the planet

* Japanese firm Softbank and aerospace giant Airbus are also backing the project
* 500-strong network of spacecraft will monitor Earth with and livestream video
* Applications could including tracking illegal fishing, monitoring the weather and tracking natural migrations globally

Microsoft's Bill Gates is backing a start-up that will provide 'live and unfiltered' high definition footage of every inch of Earth.

The startup, EarthNow, plans to launch 500 satellites to cover Earth's atmosphere in 'Big Brother' real-time video surveillance.

As well as Gates, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and aerospace giant Airbus are also backing the project.

The price of the project could run to $1 billion (£700m), although the value of the investment by the companies has not been disclosed.

Applications could including tracking illegal fishing, monitoring the weather and tracking natural migrations globally.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I can easily see where this is all heading. One day everything will be watched and recorded for those who are willing to pay for it.

The Strategic Importance of Doolittle’s Raid During The Second World War

B-25B Mitchell bombers aboard the USS Hornet (CV-8) during the Doolittle Raid. (Wikimedia)

Chris Byrd, The Bridge/RCD: Bombers over Tokyo: The Strategic Importance of Doolittle’s Raid

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was determined to avenge the December 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. The attack enraged and shocked the American public. It seemed the national mood would only worsen as news of Japan’s follow-on victories at Wake Island and in Thailand, Hong Kong, Manila, and Singapore made its way onto American airwaves and newspapers. Japan appeared unstoppable. To prevent the national mood from deteriorating further, President Roosevelt pressed his advisors for a military win to raise morale and support for the inevitable two-front war. The president insisted they “find ways and means of carrying home to Japan proper, in the form of a bombing raid, the real meaning of war.”[2] His advisors developed a bold plan to launch sixteen modified land-based bombers from an aircraft carrier, and eighty brave men stepped forward to carry out the first strike on Japan’s homeland. That strike would become known as the famous Doolittle Raid.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have always been a student of this specific raid. It's reach and impact at the beginning of the war can never be under estimated.

More Syrian Rebels Surrender Outside Of Damascus

Smoke rises from Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus, Syria April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Reuters: Insurgents south of Syrian capital surrender, says state TV

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Insurgents in the last area outside the Syrian government’s control near Damascus agreed to surrender on Friday, state media said, after a pounding bombardment overnight and through the morning.

A source familiar with negotiations between the insurgent groups there and the government told Reuters that some fighters from the enclave around Yarmouk refugee camp would be taken to eastern Syria, where Islamic State controls some territory and others to rebel areas in the northwest.

The reported move comes as President Bashar al-Assad accelerates his push to retake remaining enclaves and strengthen his position around the capital following the defeat of rebels in eastern Ghouta this month.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Syrian Rebels Are Surrendering Outside Of Damascus

Syria forces enter Dumayr after rebel evacuation -- Business Recorder/AFP
Syrian rebel fighters lay down weapons and leave another town -- Belfast Telegraph
Syria: Rebels in Dumayr agree to leave after Ghouta devastation -- Al Jazeera
IS fighters given 48 hours to leave fringe of Syrian capital -- UPI
Assad steps up efforts to crush last besieged enclaves -- Daily Times/Agencies

U.S. State Department: Russia, Syria Sanitizing Alleged Chemical Attack Site

The OPCW inspectors are staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus

ABC News: US has 'credible evidence' Russia, Syria sanitizing alleged chemical attack site: State Department

The U.S. said Thursday it has "credible information and intelligence" that shows Russian and Syrian regime officials are denying an investigative team access to the alleged chemical weapons attack sites in Douma, Syria, as they sanitize them and remove incriminating evidence.

The accusation comes as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, investigators have still not reached Douma, the city outside the capital Damascus where the attacks reportedly took place. It has been 12 days since the chemical weapons were reportedly used – and nearly one week since President Donald Trump joined France and the United Kingdom in ordering the bombing of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for the attacks, which Syria denies carrying out.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Citing security concerns, the inspectors are still waiting to inspect the site .... Inspectors yet to reach alleged Syria chemical attack site (CBS).

Not All Of France's Missiles Were Able To Launch In Last Week's Missile Strike Against Syria

French Rafale jet with a Storm-Shadow / SCALP cruise missile © mbda-systems.com

Defense News: France turns to plan B when missile launch fails during Syria airstrikes

PARIS — When a French multimission frigate failed to fire its salvo of three naval cruise missiles during last weekend’s joint airstrike on Syria, the military drew on a backup plan.

The frigate’s sister ship, the Languedoc, instead launched its naval cruise missiles at the three Syrian targets. The mission was the first time France fired its naval cruise missile, a weapon which up until then only the British and U.S. had fired against a threat.

“The first salvo did not fire,” Army Col. Patrick Steiger, spokesman for the French Joint Chief of Staff, told Defense News on April 18.

The launch by a backup ship is part of France’s standard “redundancy” approach, the spokesman said.

Read more ....

Update #1: France Had Some Issues Firing Ze Missiles During The Syria Strikes (Task & Purpose)
Update #2: Macron’s fizzle: 12 French missiles launched at Syria, but several more fail to fire (RT)

WNU Editor: At least plan B worked.

Tweets For Today






President Trump: 'Many People Died' In Fight Between U.S. And Russia Troops In Syria

Newsweek: Trump Says 'Many People Died' In Fight Between U.S. And Russia Troops In Syria

President Donald Trump said Wednesday a fight between the U.S. and Russia in Syria produced scores of casualties, apparently referring to a Pentagon-led strike on pro-Syrian government fighters in February.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump defended his record on Russia after the White House rejected sanctions announced Sunday by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Trump said that, although he wanted to improve Washington's relationship with Moscow and wasn't sure if additional sanctions were currently necessary, he had demonstrated his ability to challenge the Kremlin by building up the U.S. military, funding Western military alliance NATO and bombing Russian fighters in Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is not playing well in Russia.

Picture Of The Day

Newly elected Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel (L) reacts as former President Raul Castro raises his hand during the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Adalberto Roque/Pool via Reuters

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Castro era ends in Cuba (Reuters).

Former FBI Director James Comey's Memos Have Been Made Public



Reuters: Comey says in memos that Trump showed concerns about leaks, loyalty, dossier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former FBI Director James Comey in memos recounting conversations with President Donald Trump last year said Trump repeatedly raised concerns over salacious allegations in an intelligence dossier, the need for loyalty and ferreting out leakers.

The partially redacted memos were handed over on Thursday by the U.S. Justice Department to three House of Representatives committees.

The memos, seen by Reuters, include notes on a meeting at the Trump Tower in New York in January 2017 just before Trump’s inauguration in which Comey spoke alone with the then president-elect about the dossier that detailed an alleged 2013 encounter involving Trump and prostitutes in Moscow.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Comey memos are here.

More News On Former FBI Director James Comey's Memos Being Made Public

The Latest: House chairs say memos prove no obstruction -- AP
Comey memo: Trump complained about Flynn’s ‘judgment issues’ -- AP
Comey memos offer more details about fired FBI director's dealings with Trump -- Politico
Memos document Comey's interactions with Trump -- The Hill
Comey memos released to Congress, track his testimony and new book -- USA Today
Comey Memos Show Trump Sought Loyalty, End to Probe -- Bloomberg
Comey memos: Trump asked for "honest loyalty" -- CBS
James Comey promised Trump: 'I don't leak' -- Washington Examiner
Comey: Trump says Putin bragged about Russia having the 'most beautiful hookers in the world' -- The Hill
Comey Memos Leak, Show Putin Pimping Hookers, Comey Joking & Trump Doubting Flynn -- Zero Hedge

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What Future Chinese Foreign Diplomats Are Being Taught

The ability to think and express the "correct" ideas is one of the most valued attributes in a Chinese student. (Reuters)

Merriden Varrall, ABC News Online: Chinese students being taught 'us and them' brand of diplomacy

Future diplomats in the Chinese foreign service are taught that a particular set of ideas and ways of thinking are "correct". Above all, they are being taught the importance of maintaining correct-ness.

While the future of Chinese diplomacy is without doubt exceptionally intelligent, talented, earnest, and hard-working, many budding diplomats have been immersed in a socialisation process that may not equip them to deal with the fast-paced global environment in which they will find themselves.

Recently, an article was published describing the global public relations challenge looming for China as its experienced and savvy diplomats age, with no clear replacements lined up to take their places. While the shortage in numbers of diplomats is important, what is also noteworthy is how new diplomats are being trained to think and operate in the international arena.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: "Us and them" .... this is not going to work well (for the Chinese that is).

Russian, NATO Generals Meet In Baku, Azerbaijan

The chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, General Valery Gerasimov, meets with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.

VOA/Reuters: Russian, NATO Generals Hold Rare Face-to-Face Meeting

MOSCOW / BRUSSELS — The head of Russia's military general staff and NATO's supreme allied commander held a rare face-to-face meeting Thursday to try to ease the worst East-West tensions since the Cold War.

U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti and Valery Gerasimov met in Baku, Azerbaijan, less than a week after the United States, Britain and France staged missile strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Russia.

In separate statements, NATO and the Russian defense ministry said the participants discussed military exercises and troop movements. Each side has accused the other of risky deployments in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe.

Read more ....

Update: Top Russian, NATO Generals Discuss Syria, Europe In Baku (RFE)

WNU Editor: Duh!!! .... Military expert: Baku meeting of Russian, NATO generals aimed at preventing ‘threat of a third world war’ (APA).

Reports: Trump Is Not The Target Of Mueller's Probe


Bloomberg: Rosenstein Tells Trump He’s Not a Target in Mueller, Cohen Probes

* Trump told associates he no longer needs to fire either man
* Deputy attorney general volunteered assurance last week

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or the probe into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein, who brought up the investigations himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, the people said.

Read more ....

Update: Rosenstein Told Trump He Is Not The Target Of Mueller's Probe (Zero Hedge)

WNU Editor: I am skeptical of this report. To me this entire investigation has been focused on President Trump, using the Russian collusion narrative to justify it.

Update: If President Trump was not the target, then why this .... Giuliani says he is joining Trump's legal team to 'negotiate an end' to Mueller probe (Washington Post).

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Facing Possible Criminal Prosecution



Reuters: U.S. watchdog sends criminal referral on ex-FBI deputy director: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Justice has referred its findings on former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney in Washington for possible criminal prosecution, according to a person familiar with the referral on Thursday.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department and its inspector general’s office declined to comment to Reuters, as did a spokeswoman for McCabe. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington could not immediately be reached.

The referral does not automatically mean charges will be filed, and it would be up to the U.S. attorney’s office to evaluate the referral and decide whether to prosecute McCabe.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Justice Department fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe because of the IG's report on what the former FBI Deputy Dirctor did. To not prosecute him would put into doubt on why he was fired. My prediction .... former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will be facing criminal charges in the coming months.

More News On Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Facing Possible Criminal Prosecution

The Latest: McCabe lawyer says criminal referral unjustified -- AP
Fired FBI deputy chief Andrew McCabe faces criminal referral -- AP
Inspector general referred findings on McCabe to US attorney for consideration of criminal charges -- Washington Post
DOJ watchdog sends criminal referral for McCabe to federal prosecutor -- FOX News
Justice Dept. watchdog sends McCabe findings to federal prosecutors for possible charges -- CNN
Inspector general recommends criminal investigation of Andrew McCabe -- NBC
Will Andrew McCabe Be Prosecuted? -- Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 19, 2018



Mimi Whitefield And Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald: Who is Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba's handpicked president?

On the eve of the anniversary of Cuban patriot José Martí's birth, Raúl Castro, flanked by members of the revolutionary old guard and a much younger man who hadn't even been born at the time of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, led a torchlight parade from the University of Havana.

While the younger man, Miguel Díaz-Canel, stepped briskly along during the late January parade, the octogenarians walked gingerly and haltingly, graphically illustrating Cuba's coming generational shift in power.

Now Díaz-Canel is the man Cuba's National Assembly has selected as the new president and the face of the island's future.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 19, 2018

New leader in Cuba: What's in store after the Castros? -- Chase Winter, DW

Can Cuba Change after the Castros? -- Scott B. MacDonald, National Interest

Don't expect change from Cuba's new president -- Kevin Hulbert, Cipher Brief

U.S.-Cuban relations are about to get worse -- Ted Piccone, Brookings

Syria strike leaves murky, risky aftermath -- Peter Apps, Reuters

In Syria, America Moves Back to the War Against ISIS (And Watching Assad Carefully) -- Dave Majumdar, The National Interest

To sweeten summit pill, Moon offers Kim a peace treaty. So what? -- Asia Times

Kim, Pompeo and the art of a N. Korean deal -- Gideon Rachman, The Straits Times

How to Make Sure a U.S.–North Korea Summit Will Be Worthwhile -- Wallace C. Gregson, National Interest

Why the Trump-Kim talks will fail -- Bertil Lintner, Asia Times

The collapse of the “Chinese collapse” theory -- Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute

4 factors that led to Turkey’s snap elections -- Asli Aydıntaşbaş, European Council on Foreign Relations

Erdoğan springs an election surprise -- Zia Weise, Politico

More bad news for Turkey's EU accession bid -- Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor

Israel at 70: What does the future hold? -- Tania Krämer, DW

World News Briefs -- April 19, 2018 (Evening Edition)

Iraqi F-16 jets target ISIS positions near the eastern Syrian town of Al-Bukamal, located by the Iraqi border on April 19, 2018. The operation was reportedly coordinated with the Syrian government, which is opposed by the U.S. and supported by Iran. Media Office of the Prime Minister of Iraq

Newsweek: Iraq Bombs ISIS 'Terrorist Death Machine' in Syria, Siding With U.S. Foes Russia and Iran

Iraq conducted rare airstrikes in neighboring Syria on Thursday, highlighting an alliance that may further threaten U.S. interests in the region.

On Thursday, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in a statement that "our heroic armed forces carried out deadly airstrikes on Thursday against positions of ISIS terrorist gangs in Syria by the Iraqi border." Iraq has mostly defeated the jihadis at home with outside help from a U.S.-led coalition and Iran, and the strikes come after Abadi said last week he may intervene against ISIS in Syria, where the U.S. and Iran were at odds over a seven-year civil war.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability: Pentagon.

Assad steps up efforts to crush last besieged enclaves.

ISIL given '48 hours' to evacuate area south of Damascus.

Syria: Rebels in Dumayr agree to leave after Ghouta devastation.

Surprise IS attack kills 25 regime forces in east Syria: monitor.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls snap elections as state of emergency is extended.

Don't scrap Iran deal, MPs from UK, France and Germany urge US.

Iran arrests culture ministry official over public dance.

Earthquake strikes near Iranian nuclear plant.

Four Saudi officers killed in gun attack.

ASIA

North Korea wants total denuclearisation, says Seoul. South Korea's Moon: North Korea seems willing to denuclearize.

North Korean regime 'shifting to traditional socialist party system'.

At least 13 Afghan troops killed In Taliban attacks.

Afghanistan returns captured, dead Pakistani soldiers after cross-border clash.

Kidnapped Afghan election staff freed by Taliban: officials.

Fears for Rohingya as first rains flood Bangladesh camps.

Vanuatu Prime Minister assures Malcom Turnbull there will be no Chinese military base on islands.

AFRICA

Senegal capital erupts in protest over new election law.

Rockets hit Libya airport as U.N., French officials visit to talk peace.

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister.

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 mn annually'.

France confirms Libya's Haftar is treated in a Paris hospital.

Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed names cabinet.

Senegal police fire tear gas to break up anti-government protest.

Zimbabwe warns strikes threaten economic recovery.

GBissau parliament meets for the first time in two years.

Swaziland king renames country 'the Kingdom of eSwatini'.

EUROPE

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran nuclear deal.

EU foreign policy hails Western Balkan efforts at membership.

As Macron heads to U.S., 'strong relationship' with Trump under test.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron present united front in Berlin.

EU threatens sanctions ahead of Venezuela vote.

Armenia: Police detain dozens of anti-government protesters.

Ukraine moves to split church from Russia as elections approach.

Poland marks 75th anniversary of uprising in Warsaw Ghetto.

Queen Elizabeth hopes Charles will be next Commonwealth head.

AMERICAS

Chicago court rebuffs Trump move against 'sanctuary cities'.

Diaz-Canel takes over from Raul Castro as Cuba's president. Cuba's Raúl Castro hands over power to Miguel Díaz-Canel. Diaz-Canel replaces Raul Castro as Cuba’s president.

New York attorney general wants power to bypass Trump pardons.

California reaches deal on National Guard border mission.

Remnants of migrant caravan move toward US-Mexico border.

Conservative candidate expected to win Paraguay presidency.

Venezuelan farms have begun feeding their workers — so they don't faint from hunger.

Cuba says Canada's withdrawal of diplomat families unjustified.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

FBI offers $1M for info on US reporter missing in Syria.

Suspected 9/11 recruiter Mohammed Haydar Zammar captured in Syria: report.

Egyptian Army kills leader of Islamic State-affiliated group.

Fate of US citizen with ties to IS in hands of judge.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Tobacco and tech drag on Wall Street; yields boost banks.

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC.

Facebook to exclude billions from European privacy laws.

Jack Ma says Alibaba 'doing a lot of research' on driverless cars.

Syrian Government Steps Up Efforts To Crush The Last Rebel Enclaves Near Damascus



Reuters: Assad steps up efforts to crush last besieged enclaves

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - The Syrian government stepped up its efforts on Thursday to retake the opposition’s last besieged enclaves, as rebels prepared to withdraw from one and a newspaper reported an ultimatum against another.

President Bashar al-Assad scored a major victory this month by retaking eastern Ghouta, the biggest rebel stronghold near Damascus, putting his forces in by far their strongest position since the early months of the seven-year-old civil war.

The United States, Britain and France launched a volley of air strikes on Saturday against three Syrian targets in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons strike during the Ghouta assault.

But the limited Western intervention, far from any contested battlefront, has shown no sign of having any impact on the ground, where Assad’s forces have pressed on with his offensive.

The last rebels withdrew from eastern Ghouta hours after the Western bombing. Since then, the government has focused on regaining four less populous encircled enclaves.

Read more ....

Update: Rebels in Syria's south brace for onslaught, fear wider war (Washington Post)

WNU Editor:  It is only a question of time before these bastions fall. After that .... the focus will shift to the rebel strongholds along the Jordan border.