Friday, August 7, 2015

Greece Debt Crisis News Updates -- July 3, 2015



The Telegraph: Greek banks down to €500m in cash reserves as economy crashes

The daily allowance of cash from many ATM machines has already dropped from €60 to €50, purportedly because €20 notes are running out

Greece is sliding into a full-blown national crisis as the final cash reserves of the banking system evaporate by the hour and swathes of industry start to shut down, precipitating the near disintegration of the ruling coalition.

Business leaders have been locked in talks with the Bank of Greece, pleading for the immediate release of emergency liquidity funds (ELA) to cover food imports and pharmaceutical goods before the tourist sector hits a brick wall.

Officials say the central bank will release the funds as soon as Friday, but this is a stop-gap measure at best. "We are on a war footing in this country," said Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister.

WNU Editor: As the above Telegraph article clearly points out .... the Greek economy has collapsed .... and it is going to get worse. Cash is now king in Greece .... and there is now a growing fear that depositors will lose anywhere from 27% to 50% of their deposits.  To say that the common person in Greece is scared is an understatement .... I think there is a growing realization that as bad as the situation is, there is a very good chance right now that it is going to get far worse.

Greece Debt Crisis News Updates -- July 3, 2015

The Latest: Poll: Greek opinion on bailout vote a dead heat -- AP
Greek debt crisis: Major rallies due ahead of vote -- BBC
The Latest: Greek premier wants biggest 'no' vote possible -- AP
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Argues Worsening Economic Situation Supports His Position -- WSJ
Greece debt crisis: Tsipras urges 'No' to 'blackmail' -- BBC
'Yes' camp takes slim lead in Greek bailout referendum poll -- Reuters
Greece: Poll Shows 2 Sides Neck and Neck Before Referendum -- AP
Greece deeply divided as vote on Europe looms -- CNN
Confusion reigns in Greece on last day of campaigning before referendum -- Washington Post
IMF warns of huge financial hole as Greek vote looms -- Reuters
IMF says Greece needs extra €50bn in funds and debt relief -- The Guardian
Greek bank closures may deplete supermarket shelves -- Reuters
Greece's leader has done mega damage to the economy -- CNN
Greece crisis: Berlin accuses Tsipras of seeking scapegoats outside own ranks -- The Guardian
Greece's highest court to rule on legality of referendum -- The Guardian
Young Greeks flee abroad as crisis deepens -- AFP
Greece and the damage caused by Syriza’s delusional gamble -- The Australian
Factbox: Mechanics of the Greek referendum on Sunday -- Reuters
Why Greece and Germany just don’t get along, in 15 charts -- Darla Cameron, Richard Johnson and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post
18 key facts about Greece that will leave you totally up to date about a huge crisis -- Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post

Friday, July 3, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

U.S. Operates Secret Drone Bases In Somalia

© US Air Force

Foreign Policy: Exclusive: U.S. Operates Drones From Secret Bases in Somalia

Two decades after “Black Hawk Down,” U.S. special operations forces are back in East Africa’s most troubled nation. FP provides a rare window into their shadowy operations.

KISMAYO, Somalia — Some say the Americans are everywhere. Some say they are nowhere. Still others say they are everywhere and nowhere at once. But the shadowy U.S. presence in this strategic port city in war-torn southern Somalia has clear consequences for anyone with a share of power here. That includes Somali regional officials who are quick to praise American counterterrorism efforts, African Union forces who rely on U.S. intelligence as they battle back al-Shabab, and even the al Qaeda-linked militants themselves, who are increasingly hemmed in by a lethal combination of AU-led counterinsurgency, airstrikes, and raids by U.S. special operators.

Based out of a fortress of fading green Hesco barriers at the ramshackle airport in Kismayo, a team of special operators from the Joint Special Operations Command, the elite U.S. military organization famous for killing Osama bin Laden, flies drones and carries out other counterterrorism activities, multiple Somali government and African Union sources have confirmed. Their presence in this volatile city, which until 2012 was controlled by al-Shabab, has not previously been reported. Nor has the United States acknowledged operating drones from Somali soil. (Unmanned armed and surveillance flights are said to originate from Camp Lemonnier in nearby Djibouti or from bases in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.)

Update: US Operates Top Secret Drone Bases Inside Somalia -- Sputnik

WNU Editor: 20 years after Black Hawk Down this is a confirmation that U.S. special forces have returned to Somalia. No debate .... no discussion .... no Congressional vote .... but for all intents and purposes the U.S. is now directly involved in Somalia's civil war.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 2, 2015



Wall Street Journal: Three Scenarios for Greece and the Eurozone

Greece has crossed a threshold that no other advanced economy in history of the International Monetary Fund has passed: Defaulting to the world’s senior-most creditor.

So, now what?

As the clock counts down to Greece’s referendum Sunday that could determine the country’s fate in the eurozone, here’s a look at a handful of scenarios predicted by analysts and economists.

All involve more pain for Greece’s battered economy, and some are more daunting than others.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 2, 2015

Advice for Greece: Never play chicken with Germany -- Paul Glader, Reuters

IMF Issues Reminder of Greece's Financial Woes Ahead of Sunday's EU Referendum -- Reuters, Newsweek

Greece crisis: Will Greek troubles spill over to the rest of Europe and the UK? -- Hazel Sheffield, The Independent

No, the U.S. Won't Follow Greece Over the Cliff -- Megan McArdle, Bloomberg

Why join Islamic State? -- Patrick Cockburn, London Review Of Books

Fight against IS draws Hamas, Egypt closer -- Adnan Abu Amer, Al-Monitor

America's 'plan B' for Iran comes with 2 huge problems -- Jeremy Bender, Business Insider

China's Boom Has World Bank Worried -- William Pesek, Bloomberg

China and Japan Are Getting on Better. Will It Last? -- David Tweed and Isabel Reynolds, Bloomberg

Want to escalate U.S.-Russia tension? Arm Ukraine. -- Josh Cohen, Reuters

Brzezinski on Russia: 'We Are Already In a Cold War' -- Interview by Sebastian Fischer and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online

Wake Up Europe. Peace Doesn't Preserve Itself -- Stephen Blank, Real Clear Defense

Is Sweden's military too small even for its peacenik ways? -- Gordon F. Sander, CSM

Economic exodus means two-thirds of Puerto Ricans may soon live in US -- Alan Yuhas, The Guardian

Has the global Jewish population finally rebounded from the Holocaust? Not exactly. -- Adam Taylor, Washington Post

World News Briefs -- July 2, 2015 (Evening Edition)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (centre L) meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) at a hotel in Vienna, Austria July 1, 2015. Reuters/Carlos Barria

Reuters: No breakthrough at Iran nuclear talks, ministers push for deal soon

Tehran and world powers were still shy of a breakthrough at nuclear talks on Thursday as foreign ministers flew in to help push for a swift deal and resolve disputes over how sanctions could be lifted and how Iran's compliance would be monitored.

Iran is in talks with the United States and five other powers - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - on an agreement under which it would curtail its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran takes hard line on inspections, sanctions at nuke talks.

Kerry consults US partners before further talks with Iran. Ministers convene at Iran talks but breakthrough not yet seen.

IAEA Chief, Iranian officials work to resolve nuclear issues.

Isis militants destroy 2,000-year-old statue of lion at Palmyra.

Iraqi forces say most of Baiji town recaptured from Islamic State.

U.S., allies target Islamic State with 28 air strikes in Syria, Iraq.

Syria refugee child labor a 'growing, dangerous problem'.

Iran wages media onslaught against Saudis over Yemen war.

Middle East peace process deadlocked — Russian FM Lavrov.

Gulf states tighten security for frightened Shi'ites after mosque blasts.

ASIA

China: The Indian Ocean can’t be India’s backyard.

Fears raised as 'one third' of China's Great Wall disappears.

Afghan court overturns death sentences in mob killing of woman. Afghan court quashes Farkhunda mob killing death sentences.

12 die in Pakistan as train carrying soldiers falls into canal.

Ferry capsizes in Philippines; 35 dead, 20 missing.

North Korean defector lifts lid on world's most secret state.

Japan’s population decline the steepest on record.

AFRICA

Attack on UN convoy in Mali kills 6 peacekeepers, wounds 5.

Boko Haram guns down 97 people praying in mosques in Nigeria. Boko Haram attack on Nigerian village leaves nearly 100 people dead.

Scores reported dead in Islamist attacks in Egypt.

Egypt's warplanes strike back at militants in troubled Sinai. Egyptian air strikes kill 23 militants in North Sinai: sources.

Egypt's Brotherhood calls for uprising after killings.

UN: Rebels in South Sudan attack civilian refugee camp.

Somalia reached 'tipping point,' can secure peace, U.N. official says.

Tunisia detains 12 in connection with hotel attack. Tunisia terror attack: 30 of 38 people killed are British, UK says.

Tunisia hunts for Libya-trained suspects after hotel attack.

EUROPE

IMF warns of huge financial hole as Greek vote looms.

Greece crisis: Berlin accuses Tsipras of seeking scapegoats outside own ranks.

Greek vote campaign begins amid grinding cash crisis.

Greece crisis: Eurozone rules out talks until after referendum.

The Latest: IMF: Greece needs debt relief and $56 billion. IMF warns Greece needs debt extension, may require writedown.

Russia, Ukraine trade barbs over politics, gas as hostility deepens.

Russia examines 1991 recognition of Baltic independence. Russia’s Prosecutor General to review legality of Baltics independence. Russian prosecutors scoff at Baltics independence probe.

In Armenia, the government waits out protests. Russia warns against 'color revolution' in Armenia.

Merkel's office invites US envoy to discuss latest spy claim.

Anti-migrant fence in Hungary to go up within months.

Dutch ban public gatherings in district hit by rioting over arrest death.

Vatican 'may' consider divestment from fossil fuels, despite pope's call to arms.

AMERICAS

Documents: Mexican army ordered troops to 'kill criminals'.

Solid hiring, lower US unemployment rate, but wages flat. Record 93,626,000 Americans not in labor force; Participation rate declines to 62.6%.

6 killed and 8 injured in 3 days of conflict-related violence across Colombia.

Coca production in Colombia jumped 44 percent, UN survey finds.

Brazil’s congress reduces age of criminal responsibility to 16.

Pope to tour 3 South American countries.

Nerves rattled by false reports of U.S. Navy Yard shooter in Washington.

Obama administration likely to block new Redskins stadium.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Senior Islamic State leader killed in U.S.-led coalition strike.

ISIS is installing surveillance cameras in its de facto capital.

Morocco breaks up militant cell linked to Islamic State.

Here's the manual that Al Qaeda and now ISIS use to brainwash people online.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall St. edged down on Greece worries, tepid U.S. data.

US asks Switzerland to extradite seven Fifa officials.

What crisis? Stronger banks, economies ease fear over Greece.

BP to pay record $18.7bn over 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP settles 2010 U.S. oil spill claims for $18.7 billion.

No One Is Safe In North Korea


NK News: No one is safe in Kim Jong Un’s court

When it comes to ruthlessness, North Korea’s leader surpasses his father and grandfather

Much speculation surrounds the fate of Hyon Yong Chol, the North Korean defense minister who was allegedly purged and executed in late April, but not immediately removed from all video footage. However, this controversy should not obscure one important fact: In the last three years the North Korean military, political and security police bureaucracy have been subjected to a purge on a scale not seen since at least the late 1960s.

It seems that the recent events give us the first ideas of Kim Jong Un’s own peculiar style of purging officials he considers dangerous, useless or annoying. Indeed, while purges have remained a constant feature of North Korean political life for many decades, the style of purges has not remained unchanged.


WNU Editor: Most of the men and women who have been purged are the "old timers" .... people who have been in power for years who felt that they were in control of the state apparatus and who in turn believed were in a position to control and influence Kim Jung Un. Recent events have proven to be spectacularly wrong for these individuals. I am speculating now, but I suspect that when Kim Jung Un came to power he had already made the decision to establish his own personal security and intelligence unit that was loyal only to him, earn the trust of some key people, and when he felt comfortable and confident of success .... start his purge. No surprise ... he has succeeded. Fear has now taken over .... key people who could have opposed him are now dead .... and for all intent and purposes there is now no effective opposition. Out with the old .... in with the new .... the North Korean version on the cycle of life. But there is something else that bothers me about North Korea. A new and younger generation headed by Kim Jung Un have now assumed power in North Korea, and the key questioned that needs to be asked is .... with the purges now tapering off, where will Kim Jung Un focus his attention. I will confess that when I think of the answers to that question .... I start to feel very nervous.

Three Countries Have No Relations With The U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay. Rick Wilking / Reuters

Matt Schiavenza, The Atlantic: After Cuba: The Only 3 Countries That Have No Relations With the U.S.

Why is one of them Bhutan?

On Wednesday, the United States and Cuba announced that they would reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, thus restoring diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. The agreement doesn’t mean that Washington-Havana ties will go back to where they were before Fidel Castro’s revolution: Congress still maintains an economic embargo on the island, a policy that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. But the re-establishment of embassies, scheduled to occur on July 20, is nonetheless a major breakthrough in the long-acrimonious relationship between the two countries.

According to The New York Times, the overture to Cuba leaves just three countries with which the United States has no diplomatic relations. Two of these are easy enough to guess: Iran and North Korea. Washington severed ties with Tehran in 1980, months after Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy there and took 52 Americans hostage. U.S. ties with North Korea, meanwhile, have been fraught throughout the latter country’s existence, and have only grown worse since Kim Jong Un assumed control of the country in 2011.

WNU Editor: Bhutan is the third country!?!?!?!

U.S. Military Morale At 'Rock Bottom' Again

Army soldiers and a civilian have a group discussion during the Army Master Resilience Training course held in Seoul, South Korea, in 2013. (Photo: Mark Abueg, U.S. Army)

USA Today: Army morale low despite 6-year, $287M optimism program

More than half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about their future in the military and nearly as many are unhappy in their jobs, despite a six-year, $287 million campaign to make troops more optimistic and resilient, findings obtained by USA TODAY show.

Twelve months of data through early 2015 show that 403,564 soldiers, or 52%, scored badly in the area of optimism, agreeing with statements such as "I rarely count on good things happening to me." Forty-eight percent have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.

The results stem from resiliency assessments that soldiers are required to take every year. In 2014, for the first time, the Army pulled data from those assessments to help commanders gauge the psychological and physical health of their troops.


Update: US military morale is reportedly at 'rock bottom' again -- Business Insider

WNU Editor: What got my attention on low morale in the U.S. military was this report .... Air Force General: 'There Was a Huge Morale Problem' in Nuke Force (Military.com). The last people who you do not want to be unhappy are those who are responsible for our nuclear forces .... but it appears that low morale is now becoming the rule .... and for all the forces .... and throwing a few dollars here and there are not going to solve it..

U.S. Intelligence Warned The U.S. Government That Their Computer Data Networks Were Insecure To Hackers



Shane Harris, Daily Beast: Spies Warned Feds About OPM Mega-Hack Danger

U.S. intelligence agencies initially refused to share data with OPM, the now-infamously insecure arm of the government. Then the spies apparently handed over their files anyway.

Five years ago, U.S. officials refused to merge a database containing classified personnel records of intelligence-agency employees with another run by the Office of Personnel Management, fearing that if the two systems were linked, it could expose the personal information of covert operatives to leakers and hackers.

Those concerns look prescient now that the OPM, the government’s human-resources department, has been overrun by hackers who exploited its weak computer security and made off with huge amounts of personal information on millions of government employees and contractors. But that incident has also raised troubling questions about whether U.S. spy agencies actually heeded their own advice and have kept their records physically segregated from the OPM systems that were recently hacked, presumably by spies in China.

WNU Editor: As I said before .... people need to be fired .... but so far no one has resigned and/or been fired. In short .... no one has been held accountable for what has now become the largest data breach in U.S. history.

Life Is Not Good For An Ex-Russian FSB Agent Who Decided To Defect To The FBI

Portland, Oregon

Chris McGreal, The Guardian: Russian defectors living the dead end of the American dream in distant Oregon

For Janosh and Victorya, who in Russia lived as a former bag man for a Moscow bank and an FSB agent, the dream of a life as defectors has been plagued by spats with the FBI, and an unexpected life in a city they’d never heard of

The Russian who now goes by the name of Janosh Neumann had a clear plan for how things would unfold once he crossed the threshold of the US embassy on the Caribbean island he chose as his hideout.

Neumann would offer the CIA chapter and verse about his years as a Russian intelligence officer and his work after that as a bag man for a Moscow bank specialising in money laundering. He would lay bare the intricate web of ties between Russia’s security service, the FSB, organised crime and Moscow banks. He would name names.

Neumann also knew he would have to frankly admit he too was on the take, accepting bribes and his cut of illegal deals.

Update: Former Russian spy who defected describes what it's like to be broke and living in Oregon -- Business Insider

WNU Editor: My family, friends, and associates in Russia always asked me the same question about life in the West .... is it easy to live well in the West .... and how well do you (I) live. Sighhhh .... I tell them the truth .... you can live well but life is hard and you must be willing to sacrifice, work hard, work long hours, save, be prepared for tough times, and be prepared to be disappointed. Unfortunately .... when I say this everyone's eyes "blank over" .... yup .... the perception is different "over there" .... the general belief is that U.S. life is easy, money is easy, and (for Aleksey Artamonov) the U.S. government will be willing to give you tons of it if you are a so-so FSB agent with a murky past and who is willing to defect. I have only one word to say to that .... idiots. And my advice to Aleksey Artamonov and his wife is simple .... take any job, get another one, work 100 hours a week, save, and (maybe) in 5 years buy a  car (with cash), and maybe 5 years after that buy a home with a decent mortgage, and maybe ten years after that buy a country home in the woods.

Iran And Saudi Arabia Are Waging Media War Over Yemen



NDTV/Reuters: Iran Wages Media Onslaught Against Saudis Over Yemen War

Dubai: Cut off from Yemen and its allies there by a Saudi-led military campaign, Iran has intensified a media counter-offensive against Riyadh, accusing its regional rival of inflicting catastrophic suffering while presenting itself as a blameless peacemaker.

Iranian state media have given blanket coverage in Arabic, Farsi and English to the three-month-old war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and Sunni Arab allies have been bombing the Iranian-allied Houthi faction for over three months.

The violence has killed more than 2,800 people, displaced one million and left more than 21 million people or 80 per cent of the population in need of some form of humanitarian aid and or protection, the United Nations says.

WNU Editor: I see this war being waged on YouTube daily .... but of the two I would have to say that it is Iran that is the most effective in waging this media war. Iran is targeting the English audience, and they are overwhelming what videos are available (and current) on the Yemen war. I can only presume that Saudi Arabia is more focused on presenting their point of view to their own people and to the Arab world in general .... the West is not a priority .... so far. I predict this will change .... Western public opinion is important, and it would not surprise me if a shift in Saudi coverage will occur in the months to come.

Yemen War News Updates -- July 2, 2015



Reuters: Civilians in Yemen's Aden struggle to survive fighting, shortages – Red Cross

Civilians struggling to survive street battles and Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's southern port city of Aden are also facing shrinking supplies of food and fuel, a senior official from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

Hunger and disease are threatening the 1 million residents of Aden, now a war zone caught between local militiamen and Houthi fighters, Bertrand Lamon told Reuters in Geneva.

"The general level of food stocks in Aden has been dramatically reduced because of the lesser volume of imports by sea and difficulty to transport items by road from (the capital)Sanaa," the outgoing head of the ICRC's delegation in Aden said.




Yemen War News Updates -- July 2, 2015

Yemen rebels kill 31; United Nations declares a humanitarian emergency -- China Post/AFP
Eight dead in new Saudi-led strikes on Yemen's Sanaa: agency -- Reuters
Yemen: Rockets Kill at Least 18 Civilians -- AP
Deadly clashes rock Yemen as UN raises emergency level -- Global Post/AFP
UN envoy hopeful on Yemen truce -- AFP
U.N. sets top-level aid emergency in Yemen -- Al Arabiya
UN Declares Highest-level Humanitarian Emergency for Yemen -- VOA
UN declares highest-level humanitarian emergency in Yemen -- Al Jazeera
Stiff fines in Al Qaida campaign to stamp out qat in Yemen city -- AFP
Yemen water crisis may be ‘bigger problem than war’ -- Reuters
UNESCO lists Yemen world heritage sites as endangered -- Daily Star/AFP

A Look At China's Artificial Island Building Project At Sea Level



CBS: China: "Nothing to hide" on islands, but no peeking!

As China continues to reclaim land in the South China Sea, the government is not allowing any reporters to see the islands, but CBS News correspondent Seth Doane got as close as any westerner might.

A reef belonging to China is close to an atoll claimed by Vietnam, and not far from a shoal belonging to the Philippines.

Pag-asa, claimed by China and inhabited by Filipinos is just 13-miles from Subi Reef, one of the islands the Chinese have been creating.

China denied CBS News access to the artificial islands, which could become military bases, so Doane and his crew hired a local Filipino fisherman to help them get as close as possible.


WNU Editor:That Filipino fisherman who took this CBS crew was clearly scared when he approached that "Chinese island". Personally .... I am surprised that he got that close.

World News Briefs -- July 2, 2015



Reuters: Greeks head toward Sunday vote in anger and confusion

As Greece heads to a referendum on Sunday that could decide its future in the euro zone, long queues at cash machines have become the most potent symbol of the cost of the deadlock between the left-wing government and its international lenders.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' rejection of what he terms the "blackmail" of EU and IMF creditors demanding spending cuts and tax hikes has so angered Greece's partners that there is no hope of reconciliation before Sunday's vote on the issue.

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi forces say most of Baiji town recaptured from Islamic State.

U.S., allies target Islamic State with 28 air strikes in Syria, Iraq.

Syria refugee child labor a 'growing, dangerous problem'.

Kerry consults US partners before further talks with Iran. Ministers convene at Iran talks but breakthrough not yet seen.

IAEA Chief, Iranian officials work to resolve nuclear issues.

Iran wages media onslaught against Saudis over Yemen war.

Middle East peace process deadlocked — Russian FM Lavrov.

Gulf states tighten security for frightened Shi'ites after mosque blasts.

ASIA

China: The Indian Ocean can’t be India’s backyard.

Fears raised as 'one third' of China's Great Wall disappears.

Afghan court overturns death sentences in mob killing of woman. Afghan court quashes Farkhunda mob killing death sentences.

12 die in Pakistan as train carrying soldiers falls into canal.

Ferry capsizes in Philippines; 35 dead, 20 missing.

North Korean defector lifts lid on world's most secret state.

Japan’s population decline the steepest on record.

AFRICA

Scores reported dead in Islamist attacks in Egypt.

Egyptian air strikes kill 23 militants in North Sinai: sources.

Egypt's Brotherhood calls for uprising after killings.

UN: Rebels in South Sudan attack civilian refugee camp.

Somalia reached 'tipping point,' can secure peace, U.N. official says.

Tunisia detains 12 in connection with hotel attack. Tunisia terror attack: 30 of 38 people killed are British, UK says.

Tunisia hunts for Libya-trained suspects after hotel attack.

EUROPE

Greek vote campaign begins amid grinding cash crisis.

Greece crisis: Eurozone rules out talks until after referendum.

The Latest: IMF: Greece needs debt relief and $56 billion. IMF warns Greece needs debt extension, may require writedown.

Russia, Ukraine trade barbs over politics, gas as hostility deepens.

Russia examines 1991 recognition of Baltic independence. Russia’s Prosecutor General to review legality of Baltics independence. Russian prosecutors scoff at Baltics independence probe.

In Armenia, the government waits out protests. Russia warns against 'color revolution' in Armenia.

Merkel's office invites US envoy to discuss latest spy claim.

Anti-migrant fence in Hungary to go up within months.

Dutch ban public gatherings in district hit by rioting over arrest death.

Vatican 'may' consider divestment from fossil fuels, despite pope's call to arms.

AMERICAS

Solid hiring, lower US unemployment rate, but wages flat. Record 93,626,000 Americans not in labor force; Participation rate declines to 62.6%.

6 killed and 8 injured in 3 days of conflict-related violence across Colombia.

Coca production in Colombia jumped 44 percent, UN survey finds.

Brazil’s congress reduces age of criminal responsibility to 16.

Pope to tour 3 South American countries.

Nerves rattled by false reports of U.S. Navy Yard shooter in Washington.

Obama administration likely to block new Redskins stadium.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

ISIS is installing surveillance cameras in its de facto capital.

Morocco breaks up militant cell linked to Islamic State.

Here's the manual that Al Qaeda and now ISIS use to brainwash people online.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US asks Switzerland to extradite seven Fifa officials.

What crisis? Stronger banks, economies ease fear over Greece.

BP to pay record $18.7bn over 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP settles 2010 U.S. oil spill claims for $18.7 billion.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 2, 2015



Voice of America: China Expands Military Facilities on Man-Made Islands

China has nearly completed a military-length runway on one of the artificial islands it has built in the disputed South China Sea, according to satellite photos published by a maritime monitoring group.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) says China continues to pave and mark the 3,000-meter airstrip, which analysts say is capable of accommodating any plane in China's air force fleet.

Additional military facilities - including two helipads, up to 10 satellite communications antennas, and a possible radar tower - are also being built on the Fiery Cross Reef, said the group's online report.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 2, 2015

Meet China's East China Sea Drones -- The Diplomat

Military facilities in S China Sea easy targets for US forces: experts -- Want China Times

Threat of war with major power ‘low, but growing,’ military strategy report warns -- Washington Times

Dempsey: Other Nations Gaining on US Military Supremacy -- Voice of America

Pentagon Says Odds Of Clash With Russia, China Rising -- Radio Free Europe

Kremlin regrets confrontational tone of US national military strategy -- ITAR-TASS

Russia: New US Military Strategy Is Confrontational -- VOA

Russia’s new version of national security strategy to counter all threats — Kremlin -- ITAR-TASS

New Pacific Russian Nuclear Missile Submarine Facility Could Open by October -- USNI News

Full Steam Ahead: Russia to Maintain Naval Shipbuilding Despite Economy -- Sputnik

Russian arms chief pledges to completely replace Ukrainian components by 2018 -- RT

Russia’s future amphibious assault ships to be greatly different from Mistrals -- ITAR-TASS

Russia to deploy 1st Bastion silo-based coastal missile system in Crimea by 2020 -- Russia Beyond the Headlines

Russians are confident in their military, poll shows -- RT

NATO Accuses Russia of 'Aggressive Methods' of Naval Intel Collection -- Sputnik

NATO navies should beef up against Russia: commanders -- i24 News

NATO is Not a Real Military Actor -- Jyri Raitasalo, War On The Rocks

Lithuania: NATO Keeps Mum On 'Baltic Brigade' Request -- Defense News/AFP

Bulgarian Cabinet Approves Negotiations for Purchase of New Fighter Jets -- Novinite

NATO chief visits site of future facility in Romania -- Washington Post

New Amphib Ship Planned for Italian Navy -- Defense News

Japan subs option driven by politics not merit warns inquiry -- Financial Review

UK Pushing to Bomb Syria as Defense Chief Labels ISIL Strategy 'Illogical' -- Sputnik

Murphy's Law: The Hidden Flaw Of The Su-30 -- Strategy Page

Congress Aims to Keep Bans on Dealing with Cuban Military -- VOA

America's Got Useful Ships Just Lying Around -- David Axe, War is Boring

Deadly Osprey crash spurred safety changes -- San Diego Union Tribune

Prowler Retires Following 45 Years of Naval Service -- Navy.mil

Live fire test sees F-16 shoot down a drone -- Geek

Submarines: Robotic Subs Evolve -- Strategy Page

NSA’s XKEYSCORE spy program is ‘as easy as typing a few words in Google’ -- RT

US Navy Yard shooting scare deemed false alarm -- Defense News

The US Military Should ‘Go Small’ to Defeat ISIS -- Robert A. Newson, Defense One/Council on Foreign Relations

US military morale is reportedly at 'rock bottom' again -- Business Insider

Russia Reacts To The Pentagon's 2015 Military Strategy

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Defense Secretary Ash Carter brief the press at the Pentagon, July 1, 2015. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton

Reuters: Russia calls new U.S. military strategy confrontational

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia denounced a new U.S. military strategy that accuses Moscow of failing to respect its neighbors' sovereignty as "confrontational" on Thursday, saying it would set back efforts to improve relations.

The Pentagon has updated the U.S. National Military Strategy to take into account changes in the global security situation, which include a standoff with Russia over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis.

It said in the document, published on Wednesday, that Russia had contributed to global security in areas such as fighting the narcotics trade and terrorism but had "repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals".

Previous Post: Pentagon Releases 2015 National Military Strategy For The U.S.

WNU Editor: The Chinese have also been singled out in the Pentagon's 2015 Military Strategy report .... but they have yet to respond.

More News On Russian Reaction To The Pentagon's 2015 Military Strategy

Kremlin regrets confrontational tone of US national military strategy -- ITAR-TASS
Pentagon's new military doctrine contains confrontational provisions regarding Russia - Kremlin spokesman -- Russia Beyond The Headlines
Kremlin Regrets New US Military Strategy Targeting Russia -- Russian Peacekeeper
Russia says new U.S. military strategy is confrontational -- The Bell Jar
Russia Slams New U.S. Military Strategy As 'Confrontational' -- Radio Free Europe
Russia: New US Military Strategy Is Confrontational -- VOA

How Russia Handles Those Who Have Debt Problems

The region with the largest number of people unable to travel abroad due to unpaid debt is Sverdlovsk. Sergei Nikolayev / Vedomosti

Moscow Times: Millions Barred From Leaving Russia Due to Unpaid Debt

More than 6 million Russians face bans on vacationing abroad this summer due to a law prohibiting anyone with more than 10,000 rubles ($180) in unpaid debt from leaving the country, the TASS news agency reported Wednesday.

In accordance with Russian legislation, anyone who owes more than 10,000 rubles in unpaid bank credit, alimony, taxes, community service payments or fines is forbidden from leaving the country, TASS reported.

Of Russia's approximately 8 million holders of unpaid debt, some 6.6 million owe more than 10,000 rubles, TASS cited debt collectors Sequoia Credit Consultation as saying in a report.

WNU Editor: This is actually news to me, and something that I have only learned about recently. I was suppose to receive my cousin's daughter from St. Petersburg a week ago for a brief visit (they are on their way to see the Calgary Stampede) .... but she got stuck because her husband owes money AND alimony to an ex-wife. LOL .... guess what .... the debt and alimony has been paid up, but it caused quite a stir in that part of my family. Hmmmm .... will this work on Greece?

Is Armenia About To Have A Revolution?



Martin Vladimirov, OilPrice.com: Could Armenia Be The Next Ukraine?

When Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of the Russian Federation Council's International Relations Committee, said the protests in Armenia against a 16.7 percent power price hike follow a color revolution scenario sponsored by Western powers, many commentators rushed to compare the crisis in Yerevan with the 2014 protests in Kyiv that toppled the pro-Russian president, Victor Yanukovych.

However, the street protests in Armenia have more to do with the overall economic situation in the country than with proxy clashes between foreign countries. Although the main power supplier, the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) company, 100 percent-controlled by the Russian state-owned energy giant Inter RAO United Energy Systems, is behind the proposal for a steep power price hike, Armenian activists reject the notion that the protests are anti-Russian. What they have demanded is a halt of widespread corrupt practices in the power sector, which ultimately are the real reason why prices have to go up.

WNU Editor: I have a few friends from Armenia .... the story is always the same .... life is very hard for those who live in Armenia. Employment and economic opportunities are limited, and tensions are always high with Azerbaijan over territorial disputes. Will this unrest spread .... I give it a 50-50 chance right now.

More News On The Unrest In Armenia

Armenia Whacked by Protests Over Electricity Price Hike -- AP
Armenian Protests Continue Despite Suspension of Price Hike -- Moscow Times/Reuters
Kremlin official: Energy prices are Armenia’s internal issue -- Armenia Now
Three weddings and a fuel subsidy as Armenia's electricity protests spread -- The Guardian
In Armenia, the Government Waits Out Protests -- Stratfor
Armenia’s Mini Maidan Gives Voice To New Generation -- World Crunch
Russia warns against 'color revolution' in Armenia -- Reuters
Putin’s Armenia Shock -- WSJ
Why the Armenian Spring Is Not Maidan 2.0 -- Samuel Ramani, Huffington Post

Egypt Is Facing A Growing Islamic Insurgency



Bloomberg: Week of Islamist Militant Violence Lays Bare Threat Facing Egypt

Egypt’s military said it was firmly in control of the Sinai peninsula after beating back the fiercest assault yet by Islamist militants behind a week of violence that has laid bare the growing threat facing the nation.

The day-long battle between Egypt’s security forces and militants linked to the Islamic State on Wednesday left 17 soldiers and more than 100 jihadists dead, the military said in a televised statement. As fighting had unfolded, officials in Sinai said as many as 64 security personnel were killed. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the figures.

“No one, whoever he is, will be able to control even one millimeter of Sinai or any part of Egypt while the Egyptian army and Egyptian police exist,” military spokesman Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said, suggesting media were to blame for the widely varying casualty tolls.

WNU Editor: What struck me about the Sinai attack yesterday was not only the coordination, but that these ISIS fighters had heavy weapons and even uniforms .... Egypt Proudly Posts Photos of Mangled ISIS Corpses on Facebook (Daily Beast).

More News On Egypt's Growing Islamic Insurgency

Egypt media says sophisticated weapons used in Sinai attack -- Washington Post
Egypt Vows to Wipe Out 'Dens of Terror' After Islamic State Attacks -- NDTV
Egypt's Sinai hit by worst violence in years -- Al Jazeera
Egypt army says it killed 100 terrorists, lost 17 personnel in fight against IS Wednesday -- Ahram Online
Scores Killed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as Militants, Army Clash -- WSJ
Egyptian air strikes kill 23 militants in North Sinai: sources -- Reuters
Fresh air strike kills 22 Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis militants in North Sinai: Sources -- Ahram Online
Egypt launches air strikes on group linked to Isis -- Bloomberg
F-16 vs. ISIS: Biggest battle in Sinai since Yom Kippur War -- YNet News
The longest battle in North Sinai: Egypt's army fights back against IS assaults -- Ahram
Egypt: Sinai operations will last 'until IS removed' -- BBC
Egypt's Brotherhood calls for uprising after killings -- Al Jazeera
Egypt Proudly Posts Photos of Mangled ISIS Corpses on Facebook -- Daily Beast
Islamist militants in Sinai rely on sophisticated networks of support, military experts say -- Ahram
Israel boosts defence on Sinai border fearing ISIS spillover -- Business Standard
Two years after military coup: How stable is Egypt? -- Al Jazeera
Analysis: Egypt is losing its war against ISIS in Sinai -- Jerusalem Post

U.S. Troops Feel Abandoned In Afghanistan

WND: U.S. troops in Afghanistan 'feel abandoned'

Intel officer: 'We're essentially waiting for politicians to pull the plug'

WASHINGTON – ISIS is beginning to extend its influence into Afghanistan, but the Obama administration no longer is giving the country priority, and the 10,000 American troops that remain are feeling abandoned, a U.S. intelligence officer has told Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin

The officer, who is stationed in Afghanistan and has requested anonymity for security reasons, paints a bleak picture in a war zone that is apparently all but forgotten after an investment of more than $1 trillion by the U.S.

There simply aren’t enough active-duty U.S. reservists or National Guard personnel in Afghanistan to complete the mission, he contends.

The United States has “zero strategy for the country,” the intelligence officer said.

“We’re essentially waiting for politicians to pull the plug.”


WNU Editor: Another conflict where the U.S. has no strategy on what to do.

Update: At least here is a more optimistic assessment on what is happening in Afghanistan .... What I Saw in Afghanistan (Barnett Rubin, New Yorker).

U.S. Will Not Permit The Arab States To Supply The Kurds With Heavy Weapons In Their War Against The Islamic State

Asaib Ahl al-Haq Shi'ite militia fighters from the south of Iraq and Kurdish peshmerga forces walk with their weapons as they take control of Sulaiman Pek from the Islamist State militants, in the northwest of Tikrit city September 1, 2014. Reuters/Youssef Boudlal

The Telegraph: US blocks attempts by Arab allies to fly heavy weapons directly to Kurds to fight Islamic State

Middle East allies accuse Barack Obama and David Cameron of failing to show strategic leadership in fight against Islamic State

The United States has blocked attempts by its Middle East allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, The Telegraph has learnt.

Some of America’s closest allies say President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including David Cameron, are failing to show strategic leadership over the world’s gravest security crisis for decades.

They now say they are willing to “go it alone” in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand all weapons be channelled through Baghdad.


WNU Editor: The Kurds have been pleading for heavy weapons since last year .... but the truth is now finally out .... and from America's closest allies in the region. Bottom line .... the U.S. has no plan or strategy to defeat the Islamic State, and the White House will not support those groups (in this case the Kurds) with supplies of needed weapons who have proven (more than once) to be able to combat and to defeat the Islamic State on the ground. It is now easy to predict what will happen next .... our Middle Eastern allies are going to start shipping heavy weapons to the Kurds, they are going to alienate Turkey and Iraq who do not want to see such arms shipments to the Kurds, and the U.S. will be shown to be impotent in influencing any of these actions. In the interim .... as all of these divisions keep dividing the "alliance" .... the Islamic State will continue to consolidate its territories and to gain more recruits.

Israel's Army Chief For The North: Hezbollah Is In 'Strategic Distress'

Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Director of the IDF Military Intelligence, Speaking at the 12th Annual Herzliya Conference in 2012.

Business Insider/Times of Israel: Senior IDF officer: Hezbollah is in 'strategic distress'

Nine years after the Second Lebanon War, the army’s chief commander in the north said last week that a future round of fighting against Hezbollah will be conducted across two fronts.

“It’s clear to me that the next campaign against Hezbollah will take place in Syria and in Lebanon,” said OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi at an evening devoted to the situation in Lebanon held at the IDF Galilee Division headquarters.

Kochavi, as quoted by the army’s weekly news magazine Bamahane, described this new security reality as “a small dot” amid the sea changes in the region.

WNU Editor: 6,000 to 8,000 Hezbollah fighters in Iraq/Syria/Yemen is still a small percentage on what Hezbollah is capable of deploying .... but with the conflicts in Syria and Iraq now in a quagmire and with no exit strategy in place .... the prospect of being in a war that may last for years must be putting a considerable amount of strain within the organization and especially within its military wing.