Friday, March 24, 2017

World News Briefs -- March 24, 2017



Reuters: U.S. sanctions 30 firms, individuals for aiding Iran, North Korea arms programs

The United States has imposed sanctions on 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or for violating export controls on Iran, North Korea and Syria, the State Department said on Friday.

Eleven companies or individuals from China, North Korea or the United Arab Emirates were sanctioned for technology transfers that could boost Tehran's ballistic missile program, the State Department said in a statement.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

US-led coalition vows to crush 'Islamic State'.

US: Syrian fighters facing little resistance at Tabqa dam. Syrian militia reaches Tabqa dam: SDF official.

Final push on Syria's Raqa to begin in days: France.

Iraqi forces to deploy new tactics in Mosul, civilians flee city.

Escaping IS-held Mosul, residents head into unknown.

Iraq's Sadr threatens boycott if election law unchanged.

27 killed in south Yemen clashes.

Israel, US conclude talks without settlement agreement.

ASIA

U.S. general: Russia possibly supporting Taliban in Afghanistan.

‘Complete fabrication’ – Russian FM on US allegations Moscow aids Taliban in Afghanistan. Russia denies supplying Taliban after NATO claim.

Reports of Sangin’s fall are 'complete fabrication,' U.S. military insists.

U.S. turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference.

Taliban denies talks with Pakistan on Afghan peace prospects.

Report: North Korea preparing for another nuclear test.

UN condemns North Korea tests which contribute to nukes.

North Korea security agents are being purged, report says.

China dismisses 'militarisation' of disputed islands in South China Sea.

UN will investigate allegations of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Myanmar.

AFRICA

Islamic State routed in Somalia's Puntland, President says.

U.S. warns South Sudan government against 'deliberate starvation tactics'.

250 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean off Libyan coast.

Somali pirates take over Somali vessel to use as floating base: police.

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak freed after six years in detention. Hosni Mubarak: Egypt's toppled dictator freed after six years in custody.

ICC awards 'symbolic' $250 each to Congo war crimes victims.

Tanzania's president warns journalists that press freedom has limits.

EUROPE

UK police arrest 10 in London attack probe, search 21 sites.

London attack: Police make two more 'significant' arrests in terror investigation.

Middle-aged London attacker was criminal who wasn't seen as threat.

Russia says six of its soldiers killed in Chechnya base attack.

In eastern Ukraine, troops tiptoeing up to front line risk heavy battles.

Murdered ex-lawmaker knew 'misdeeds of Russian elites,' Kremlin critic says.

France's Le Pen meets Putin in Moscow.

20,000 evacuated after fire at Ukrainian military arsenal.

AMERICAS

House steers toward climactic vote on GOP health care bill.

Partisan split at House intel committee over canceled open hearing.

Manafort volunteered to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee in its Russia probe. Trump aide with Russia ties offers to talk to House panel.

US Senators introduce new Iran sanctions.

Nations urge Venezuela on elections, warn of diplomatic 'last resort'.

Lima struggles with flooding aftermath.

Toronto school board bars US trips amid travel ban uncertainty.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Terrorist threat higher in Europe than anywhere else except war zones – EUCOM chief.

FBI's Comey warns of 'terrorist diaspora' from ISIS territory.

London attacker Khalid Masood was investigated by MI5 over extremism concerns.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

U.S. sanctions 30 firms, individuals for aiding Iran, North Korea arms programs.

Saudi Arabia faces $6 billion U.S. lawsuit by Sept. 11 insurers.

Trump greenlights Keystone XL pipeline, but other obstacles loom.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 24, 2017

The Izumo and the Kaga, Japan’s Helicopter carriers Newsline

RT: Japan commissions new $1bn Izumo-class helicopter carrier amid tensions with China

Japan's new, $1-billion helicopter destroyer ‘Kaga’ has entered service. The 248-meter-long destroyer can reportedly carry up to 28 aircraft, including helicopters involved in searching for Chinese submarines amid the deepening row in the South China Sea.

Maritime Self Defense Force commanders inaugurated the ship at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo. The ‘Kaga’ is docked there next to its sister ship, the ‘Izumo’.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 24, 2017

Japan commissions second helicopter carrier -- UPI

Japan Commissions Sub-Hunting Helicopter Carrier to Brace for ‘China Threat’ -- Sputnik

China says hopes new Japanese carrier doesn't mark return to militarism -- Reuters

China Is Building a 100,000 Strong Marine Corps -- The Diplomat

Russian Armed Forces Receive Over 6,000 Advanced Arms in 2016 - Defense Minister -- Sputnik

Russia's New Air Defense System to Be in Line With Armata Tank -- Sputnik

Pakistani president offers talks to India at military parade -- AP

Scottish independence might hurt defense industry more than Brexit -- Defense News

Germany blocks defense exports to Turkey -- UPI

Why France is Boosting Its Military Muscle in Pacific -- Sputnik

Poland mulls F-35, F-16A/B fighters acquisition -- Defense News

NATO forces assemble in eastern Europe -- UPI

US warships ‘harassed’ by Iranian forces in Strait of Hormuz – navy commanders -- RT

Navy Bracing For Air Wing Shutdowns, Ship Maintenance Cancellations If Continuing Resolution Extended -- USNI News

The Navy Will Struggle to Build Trump's 350-Ship Fleet -- The Diplomat

New amphibious landing tactics and technology -- Marine Times

Pentagon, Air Force Continue F-35 vs A-10 Close Air Support Testing -- Scout

Raytheon tapped for Super Hornet, Growler radar upgrades -- UPI

The Army Just Started Producing Its Brand New Ballistics Helmet -- Task & Purpose

General: US no longer has a 'world class' tank -- Washington Examiner

The U.S. Army Wants A Super 'Bullet' To Kill Enemy Tanks -- Kris Osborn, National Interest

Mattis presses Congress for $30B defense hike -- UPI

Top general: Trump State Department cuts would hurt military's efforts against Russia -- The Hill

Pentagon worried about Chinese investment in US startups: report -- The Hill

The Army is developing a new Expert Action Badge for soldiers who aren't grunts -- Army Times

Bergdahl lawyers appeal Trump motion to top military court -- The Hill

Army develops new nutritional bed-time snack bar for basic trainees -- Army Times

The US Navy has a severe 'missile gap' with China and Russia — here's how it can beat them anyway -- Alex Lockie, Business Insider

Report: North Korea Preparing For Another Nuclear Test

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pictured at the Headquarters of Large Combined Unit 966 of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 1, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS/File Photo

Reuters: North Korea maintains readiness for nuclear test at any time: South Korea

North Korea has maintained readiness to conduct a new nuclear test at any time, a South Korean military official said on Friday, amid a report of a possible test within days as Pyongyang defies international pressure.

U.S. and South Korean military surveillance assets were closely monitoring the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site on the reclusive state's east coast, said the official, who declined to be identified.

Speaking by telephone, the official also declined to comment on whether there were fresh signs pointing to an imminent test.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That North Korea Is Preparing For Another Nuclear Test

North Korea will launch another nuclear test in next few days, officials say -- FOX News
North Korea preparing for nuclear test at Punggye-ri, officials say -- UPI
North Korea prepping nuclear test in next few days: report -- Japan Times
North Korea Might Be Getting Ready for Its Next Nuke Test -- The Diplomat
UN condemns North Korea tests which contribute to nukes -- AP
North Korea's Kim Jong Un Is Starving His People to Pay for Nuclear Weapons -- Newsweek

French Presidential Contender Le Pen Meets Russian President Putin At The Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Marine Le Pen in Moscow. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Reuters: Russia's Putin meets French presidential contender Le Pen in Kremlin

President Vladimir Putin granted an audience to French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin on Friday, bestowing a level of international recognition that has so far eluded her in the countdown to France's presidential election.

Opinion polls show Le Pen getting through to the second, decisive round of the French presidential election on May 7 but then losing to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen, who has said she admires Putin, reiterated her call for a lifting of the European Union's economic sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict.

"We attach great importance to our relations with France, but at the same time we try to maintain equal relations both with the current authorities and with representatives of the opposition," said Putin ahead of his talks with Le Pen.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When I heard about this meeting I said to myself .... why go and meet Putin now? And when I look at the above photo .... Putin has the look of a cat that just ate the canary.



More News On French Presidential Contender Le Pen Meeting Russian President Putin At The Kremlin

Putin meets Le Pen, denies French election interference -- AP
Putin Meets Le Pen as Far Right Leader Criticizes Sanctions -- Bloomberg
Putin meets French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at Kremlin -- CNN
National Front leader Le Pen meets with Putin in Moscow -- RFI
Putin Meets Le Pen, Says Not Seeking To Influence French Vote -- RFE
Le Pen and Putin discuss counter-terrorism and French elections in surprise Moscow meeting -- City AM
Aide to France's Le Pen says Putin wished her 'good luck' with election -- Reuters

Former Egyptian Leader Hosni Mubarak Is Freed After 6 Years In Detention

Ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak looks towards his supporters during celebrations of the 43rd anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, at Maadi military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo, October 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

New York Times: Hosni Mubarak Is Freed, to Dismay of Many in Egypt

CAIRO — Six years after roaring crowds ousted him at the peak of the Arab Spring, former President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was freed on Friday from the Cairo hospital where he had been detained, capping a long and largely fruitless effort to hold him accountable for human rights abuses and endemic corruption during his three decades of rule.

Mr. Mubarak, 88, was taken from the Maadi Military Hospital in southern Cairo, where he had been living under guard in a room with a view of the Nile, to his mansion in the upmarket suburb of Heliopolis.

“He went home at 8:30 this morning,” his longtime lawyer, Farid el-Deeb, who has stewarded Mr. Mubarak through a tangled cluster of prosecutions since 2011, said by telephone. “I don’t have further details, but he is home and all is well now.”

Read more ....

More News On Former Egyptian Leader Hosni Mubarak Being Released After 6 Years In Detention

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak freed after six years in detention -- BBC
Egypt’s Mubarak free, back home after years-long detention -- AP
Mubarak, Egypt's toppled Pharaoh, is free after final charges dropped -- Reuters
Hosni Mubarak: Egypt's toppled dictator freed after six years in custody -- The Guardian
Six years after his overthrow, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is freed from detention -- Washington Post
Ex-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak freed after 6 years in detention -- CNN
Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak freed after six-year detention -- Euronews

Did North Korea Steal $81 Million From The New York Federal Reserve Last Year?

FBI offices in Los Angeles and New York have been leading an international investigation into the February 2016 incident, in which hackers breached Bangladesh Bank's systems and withdrew money from its account at the New York Fed (seen above)

Daily Mail: Did Kim Jong-Un pull off one the biggest bank robberies in history? FBI investigates cyber-theft of $81m from central bank of Bangladesh held at the New York Federal Reserve

* Last year, $81million was stolen in cyber heist from Bangladesh Bank
* The bank held the money at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
* FBI believes that North Korea orchestrated heist with help from Chine

US prosecutors are building potential cases that would accuse North Korea of directing the theft of $81million from Bangladesh Bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year.

It would try and charge alleged Chinese middlemen, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that North Korea is responsible for the heist, an official briefed on the probe told Reuters.

Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the US National Security Agency, publicly suggested on Tuesday that North Korea may be linked to the incident, while private firms have long pointed the finger at the reclusive state.

Read more ....



More News On Reports That North Korea Stole $81 Million From The New York Federal Reserve Last Year

US blames North Korea for $US81 million bank heist-- The Australian/WSJ
North Korea Said to Be Target of Inquiry Over $81 Million Cyberheist -- NYT
Prosecutors could implicate North Korea in NY Federal Reserve cyber bank heist: report -- The Hill
North Korea investigated for possible role in $81 million bank cyberheist -- CBS
US may accuse N. Korea in Bangladesh cyber heist: WSJ -- CNBC
The US Thinks North Korea May Have Robbed the New York Federal Reserve -- Vanity Fair

16 Years Of European Terrorism In One Chart

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Hat tip Zero Hedge.

This Is What Passes For Live TV In Today's Venezuela

Reuters: Maduro's awkward TV shows raise hackles amid Venezuela crisis

CARACAS (Reuters) - A single mom tells Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, on live television that she cannot afford to adequately feed her four kids, and he quickly changes the subject to joke about her foreign-sounding name, Joandry Smith.

A girl complains that hungry classmates are fainting at school, and Maduro chides her for not doing more for them. A boy says he missed a big soccer game because he was hospitalized, and Maduro recommends he find it on YouTube.

The unpopular leftist president's hours-long televised visits to clinics or schools are meant to soften his image, but foes say they instead highlight his disconnect from a national economic crisis in which millions of people are missing meals.

"As much as they try and hide reality, it always gets out and hits them 'live on TV,'" opposition leader Henrique Capriles said in a recent speech to a local community.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When I read multiple reports from multiple different sources stories like the following ....

Venezuelans protest about medicine shortages (Al Jazeera)
Motorists line up for scarce petrol in oil-rich Venezuela (DW)
Venezuela shocked as children arrested for soldiers' killings (BBC)
US, 13 other nations demand Venezuela hold elections soon (AP)

You have to wonder how long will this last.

Report: NSA To Provide 'Smoking Gun' Proof That The Obama Administration Spied On The Trump Team



FOX News: Potential 'smoking gun' showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says

Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.

Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretappedhim in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on March 4.

The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.

Read more ....

Update: Intelligence Reports Reveal Improper Political Surveillance of Trump, Transition Team (Washington Free Beacon)

WNU Editor: There may be some truth to this story. Apparently the FBI is not cooperating with the House Intel committee .... Intel chair Nunes: FBI not yet cooperating on surveillance questions (Washington Examiner) .... but the NSA is .... Nunes: NSA cooperating with our investigation, the FBI is not (West Virginia) .... and they are the ones who are providing the intel to Chairman Nunes. But I am still sceptical of all of this .... no one has provided anything that I would call evidence .... all that I am hearing and reading is just talk.

Tweet For Today

Pentagon Is Denying Reports That They Shelved A Study That Found $125 Billion In Waste

Military.com/Stars and Stripes: DOD Denies It Tried to Shelve Study That Found $125 Billion in Waste

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department on Tuesday denied it tried to quash a 2015 study that found it could save $125 billion in noncombat administrative programs but admitted it has so far only found a small fraction of those savings.

The department hopes to save $7.9 billion during the next five years through recommendations in the study of back-office waste, which itself cost about $9 million to complete, the Defense Department's acting deputy chief management officer told a House panel.

The study's original findings as well as a perceived lack of action from the Defense Department riled members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which held the hearing on the fate of the report as President Donald Trump's administration plans a $54 billion boost in defense spending by cutting other federal programs such as foreign aid.

Read more ....

Update #1: Pentagon Denies Trying To Shelve Study That Found $125 Billion In Waste (Zero Hedge)
Update #2: Pentagon Denies It Hid Report Showing More Than $100 Billion in Waste (Sputnik)

WNU Editor:
I do not know when it is going to happen .... or how .... but every American should look forward to this day .... The Pentagon has never been audited. That's astonishing (Thomas Hedges, Zero Hedge).



Picture Of The Day

Strangers consoled Mrs Cochran as she lay on the bridge next to a toppled postcard stand before an ambulance arrived

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this Daily Mail link .... They thought they were on a dream vacation but yesterday afternoon 'ISIS' attacker left Utah man crumpled and dead after hurling him over bridge and his wife bloodied and weeping in a pile of scattered postcards in image that went around the world (Daily Mail).

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Suspects That Russia Is Supplying The Taliban

Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti speaks during a news conference in Tallinn, Estonia, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

NBC: Top U.S. General in Europe Says Russia May Be Supplying Taliban in Afghanistan

Russia may be influencing and supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan, the top U.S. general in Europe said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday.

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who also serves as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, told Senators that Russia's role in Afghanistan seemed to be growing, according to Reuters.

"I've seen the influence of Russia of late — increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban," Gen. Scaparrotti said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: That is one hell of an accusation.

More News On NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Suspecting That Russia Is Supplying The Taliban

Russia may be helping supply Taliban insurgents: U.S. general -- Reuters
Russia 'perhaps' supplying Taliban: NATO commander -- AFP
Russia may be aiding Taliban in Afghanistan, top US general says -- FOX News
Russia 'Perhaps' Supplying Taliban in Afghanistan -- VOA
Top U.S. general in Europe says Russia might be supplying the Taliban -- Chicago Tribune/Washington Post
Top NATO General Says Russia ‘Perhaps’ Supplying Taliban In Afghanistan -- RFE
Top US General Suspects Russia Is Now Aiding The Taliban In Afghanistan -- Task & Purpose

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 23, 2017



Dawood Azami, BBC: Why Sangin's fall to the Taliban matters

The Taliban's capture of the strategically-located Sangin, once considered the deadliest battlefield for US and British troops in Afghanistan, will increase the group's mobility in the north of the province and give it control of an important supply line with the provincial capital Lashkar Gah

The Taliban has already captured a few of the 14 districts of Helmand, which borders Pakistan. According to some estimates, the insurgent group now controls more than half of the province, which produces the bulk of Afghanistan's lucrative opium crop.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 23, 2017

Against the Islamic State, the U.S. Focuses on the Battle, Not the War -- Stratfor

After ISIS: For Iraqis, reconciliation in Mosul will be challenging, and vital -- Scott Peterson, CSM

A year after Brussels attacks, many questions linger -- DW

Japan Has Ambitious Plans To Be Asia's Next Superpower, Thanks To China -- Ralph Jennings, Forbes

How to describe American military options in North Korea? Bad and worse. -- Peter Apps, Reuters

Trump’s pivot to North Korea -- Clifford D. May, Washington Times

Murder, Missiles, and Messages From North Korea -- Bruce Bennett, RCD

Misreading Tillerson -- Leon V. Sigal, 38 North

Russia, an Alleged Coup and Montenegro's NATO Bid -- Vesko Garcevic, RCW

A Franco-German bargain to save Europe -- Philip Stephens, Financial Tiems

What Martin McGuinness’s eulogisers would like to forget: The IRA commander never showed any remorse for the suffering he caused -- Jenny McCartney, The Spectator

Russian Defector's Murder Sends a Chilling Message -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

If Trump Kills NAFTA, "Modern Mexico" May End Up Dead Too -- Luis Rubio, World Crunch

What Trump Can Do for Venezuela -- Bloomberg editorial

Can President Trump Handle the Truth? -- Michael Scherer, Time

World News Briefs -- March 23, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: Police identify British-born attacker, victim count rises to four

The attacker who plowed a car through a throng of pedestrians and then stabbed a policeman outside Britain's parliament was named on Thursday as Khalid Masood, a British-born man who was once investigated by MI5 intelligence officers over concerns about violent extremism.

The death toll from Wednesday's attack on the heart of Britain's democracy grew to five as police said one of the injured, a 75-year-man, had died in hospital after his life support was withdrawn.

That number included Masood, 52, who was shot dead by police.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since 2005, when 52 people were killed by Islamist suicide bombers on London's public transport system.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Dozens killed, buried in rubble after Mosul air raid - Iraqi officials, residents.

Jihadist-led offensive in Syria's Hama advances: monitor. Syrian army prepares Hama counterattack ahead of renewed peace talks.

US tells allies to do more amid new offensive against IS.

US combat airlift marks deepening involvement in Syria.

Syrian troops besiege Islamic State stronghold.

UN's troubled Syria peace talks restart in Geneva.

UN: 400,000 Iraqis 'trapped in Mosul's Old City'. 400,000 'trapped' in west Mosul's Old City: UN.

Two years on, Yemen stuck in 'quagmire'.

Turkey urging U.S., Britain to lift flight electronics ban: foreign ministry.

ASIA

China is not militarizing South China Sea, Premier Li says.

UN Security Council condemns latest N.Korea missile tests.

US sees 'activity' at North Korea nuke sites: US official.

Taliban overtakes Sangin district in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Afghan Taliban capture crucial city of Sangin.

Afghanistan wants more US help in fight against Taliban, ISIS.

Pakistan hosts Afghan Taliban leaders to talk peace talks.

North Korea accuses Japan of espionage.

FBI prepares charges against North Korea over Bangladesh heist.

Report: Kim Jong Nam assassination cripples North Korea businesses.

North Korea hunger: Two in five undernourished, says UN.

South Korea raises sunken Sewol disaster ferry.

Shinzo Abe and wife accused of giving cash to ultra-nationalist school.

UN condemns Sri Lanka over war probe.

AFRICA

Somali president pleads to UN for aid to avert famine.

UN chief accuses South Sudan's government of ignoring famine. UN Security Council again eyes sanctions on South Sudan.

Egyptian soldiers killed by roadside bombs in central Sinai: military. Roadside bombings kill 10 Egypt soldiers during Sinai raid. Ten Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai fighting: army.

Uganda at 'breaking point' as South Sudan refugees pour in.

French national kidnapped in Chad, say military and security sources.

Protesters call for Zimbabwe Election Commission to be disbanded.

South Africa police warn of taxi rape gang in Johannesburg.

At 93 years old, Zimbabwe's Mugabe remains a jet-setter.

Anglophone versus Francophone tension continues in Cameroon.

EUROPE

London defiant as IS claims attack by British ex-con, 52.

Around 250 feared dead on 'Black Day' in Mediterranean.

U.S. Senate to vote on Montenegro's NATO membership.

Support for Merkel's conservatives and SPD tied, German poll shows.

Belgian police intercept car and thwart 'attempted terrorist attack'. Man held for 'driving at crowd' in Antwerp, Belgium. Belgian police stop attempted car-ramming attack in Antwerp.

Russia's foreign minister says ready to discuss reducing nuclear arms.

Ukraine calls depot explosion an act of sabotage.

Former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov shot dead in Ukrainian capital.

Ukraine bars Russia entry from Eurovision Song Contest 2017.

Soros-funded charities targeted by Trump-inspired crackdown in East Europe.

Italian court: No rape happened since woman didn't scream.

Poland's World War II museum opens amid controversy.

AMERICAS

Trump ultimatum: Pass health bill Friday or Obamacare stays. White House, in gamble, demands make-or-break health vote.

White House defends GOP lawmaker's decision to brief Trump.

Vote looming, Trump struggles to win Obamacare repeal. Republican Rep. Brooks: 30-40 Republican 'no' votes on health bill.

Lawmaker says U.S. foreign surveillance 'unmasked' Trump associates.

Exclusive: U.S. embassies ordered to identify population groups for tougher visa screening.

US, 13 other nations demand Venezuela hold elections soon.

Venezuelans protest about medicine shortages.

Motorists line up for scarce petrol in oil-rich Venezuela. Venezuela shocked as children arrested for soldiers' killings.

Chile sentences 33 over Pinochet-era disappearances.

US immigrants make sub-zero trek for slim chance at asylum in Canada.

Imam calling for Jews to be killed in sermon at Montreal mosque draws police complaint.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Judge seeks common ground in 9/11 suits against Saudi Arabia.

Trump steadily ramps up military action against ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Saudi officials say Yemen's Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad.

London terrorist attack: Vehicle, knife incident shows threat of low-tech terror.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Trump preparing orders to review trade deals, procurement: officials.

Laptop ban creates turbulence for airline profits.

Americans are dying with an average of $62K of debt.

Google advertising row spreads to US brands.

The Case Of Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort And His Russian Connections



NPR: Former Trump Campaign Head Manafort Was Paid Millions By A Putin Ally, AP Says

A Russian billionaire paid former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort millions of dollars to boost the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Associated Press reports. The new allegations arise months after Manafort resigned from the campaign amid concerns over his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

"According to documents that we've reviewed, Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian oligarch who wanted him to promote Russian interests," the AP's Chad Day tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "And in particular, he wrote a memo that outlined this kind of vast plan for him to promote Russian interests in the former Soviet republics — and also to specifically benefit the Putin government."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Russians are denying this story .... Kremlin says new report linking Trump team to Moscow ‘defies reason’ (Washington Times). More denials here .... Kremlin denies any involvement in Manafort-Deripaska contacts (TASS). There is also some good background information on Paul Manafort here .... Trump Just Hired His Next Scandal (Eli Lake, Bloomberg). When the story first broke out I avoided it because a good part of the case against Paul Manafort was coming from Ukrainian sources .... Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Chief, Faces New Allegations in Ukraine (New York Times). I have one rule when it comes to Ukrainian sources .... always be sceptical. But the Cyprus bank revelations are new .... and these revelations are "independent" from Russian and Ukrainian pressures. I also know that the banking system in Cyprus is favoured by many Russian oligarchs who like to move money around .... so if they were to pay some money to someone like Paul Manafort .... they would use that system. But the problem with this entire Manafort story is that there is really no evidence of any collusion between Russia and the Trump team .... just claims based on what the people who are investigating this case believe happened. They is also another big problem with this story .... doing business with Russian oligarchs (which is what the Russians and Manafort are claiming) .... is still not against the law. In fact .... U.S. - Russian business activities (even with sanctions) is now a huge business, that now involves literally everyone who makes up the who's who list in America's business community .... and this also includes the political establishment in Washington. In this context .... Paul Manafort is really a small fish, and the only reason why the focus is now on him is because of his Trump connection. If he was not Trump's former campaign chairman .... this would not even be a story. My prediction .... this is going to be President Trump's next scandal .... and it is going to be a tough one to defend. The image and optics of your campaign manager receiving millions of dollars from associates who know President Putin directly is not a good one .... even if you broke no laws nor violated any rules. And as to the question .... were laws broken .... the FBI are going to have their work cut out for them because no one on the Russian side is going to talk .... and I doubt that Paul Manafort is going to be accommodating. But politically .... for President Trump .... this is going to hurt, and for the media .... they are not going to avoid this story.

More News On The Case Of Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort And His Russian Connections

US probes banking of ex-Trump campaign chief -- AP
US agents have obtained documents on Paul Manafort in eastern Europe inquiry -- The Guardian
US probes Manafort’s banking: report -- The Hill
Paul Manafort Once Worked to ‘Benefit the Putin Government’: Report -- NBC
Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort 'tried to hide' £600000 payment, claims Ukrainian lawmaker -- The Telegraph
Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort secretly influenced US politics to benefit Vladimir Putin -- International Business Times
Trump Campaign Chief Paul Manafort Linked to Putin Interests -- The Quint
White House struggles with questions about the Russia scandal -- MSNBC
Trump ex-aide Paul Manafort 'offered to help Putin' -- BBC
A look at Cyprus banks, now tied to ex-Trump campaign chief -- AP
Who is Oleg Deripaska? Paul Manafort Allegedly Worked With Russian Magnate to Advance Putin's Interests -- Newsweek
Paul Manafort is at the center of the Trump-Russia investigation — here's what you need to know about him -- Business Insider
Kremlingate Creeps Closer to Trump -- Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

The Trump - Russian - Surveillance Story Is All About Politics



Eli Lake, Bloomberg: In Defense of Devin Nunes

One of the strangest turns in the story of Russia and the Trump campaign has been the recent outrage from Democrats over politicization of the investigation.

This all centers on Chairman Devin Nunes, the Republican who is leading the House Intelligence Committee's investigation. He was an adviser to the Trump presidential transition. The White House asked him last month to talk to a reporter to rebut news stories that alleged Trump associates had many contacts with Russian intelligence officers. On Wednesday, Nunes briefed the president about new information he had regarding dozens of widely disseminated intelligence reports on the Trump transition. He did this before he briefed his committee's Democrats.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The media and Democrats (plus some Republicans) are piling on Chairman Devin Nunes ... but Eli Lake tries to make the case that maybe some of the points that Chairman Devin Nunes are raising should be pursued and investigated. As to what is my take .... Devin Nunes should have first briefed his colleagues on the panel on what was brought to him, and from there go to the President (or not). He choose to go straight to the White House .... hence becoming the story instead of what he has discovered .... which should be the main story. But in all fairness .... this story has become 100% politicised .... and it is going to get worse .... especially if the intel that Chairman Devin Nunes claims he has do reveal that there was wide spread surveillance of the Trump team, and that this intel was then disseminated to the press and others. And if the paper trail reveals that this was done under the direction of officials from the Obama administration ..... wow .... this is then going to be an even bigger story than I could have ever imagined. But .... if I was a betting man .... I am willing to bet that there is going to be no smoking gun or evidence of anything .... and that all sides are going to be deeply disappointed .... especially on the Democrat/progressive side who still cannot accept the idea that President Trump won the election. In the meantime .... the Trump agenda rolls on.

Top Democrat On The House U.S. Intelligence Committee: New Evidence Shows Possible Trump-Russia Collusion



CNN: Schiff: New evidence shows possible Trump-Russia collusion

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is claiming that he has been presented with new information on collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and Russia that would merit a grand jury investigation.

Rep. Adam Schiff told CNN Thursday that he had seen additional evidence, but would not specify what it was.
"We continue to get new information that, I think, paints a more complete picture of at least what we know at the outset of our investigation," Schiff said.

Asked to explain his comments earlier in the week when he said there was more than just "circumstantial evidence of collusion," Schiff said, "I do think that it's appropriate to say that it's the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation.

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Update: FBI has information suggesting Trump aides ‘coordinated with Russia to damage Clinton campaign’ -- The Independent

WNU Editor: The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee (Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has already come out and said that he does not know what this new evidence is. Also .... the top Democrat in the US Senate does not share the same point of view that his Democrat colleague in the House is saying .... Top Senate Democrat Won't Go As Far As House Counterpart On Trump-Russia Collusion (NBC). What's my take .... I have been hearing the same thing from Rep. Adam Schiff since the election .... now is the time to produce his new evidence to the committee instead of just talking about it.