Wednesday, April 1, 2015

China Showcases Their New Long Range Bombers In Latest Military Drills

Chinese bombers lined up on an undisclosed airfield China MOD

Newsweek: China Reveals New Long-Range Bombers

China has released pictures of an unnamed “new-type of bomber”, along with an announcement that it has carried out its first military drills in the airspace above the Western Pacific Ocean.

According to a statement on the Chinese Ministry of Defence website, the drills took place over the Bashi Canal, which is between a Taiwanese island and a Philippines island.

The release of the pictures of the warplanes suggests the exercise was a test of China’s long-range bombing capabilities. According to Want China Times, the photos indicate the aircraft taking part in the drill were H-6K long-range strategic bombers, which have “a combat radius of 2,000 kilometers” meaning they could be used to launch attacks against U.S. military facilities on Guam.

More News On China's New Long-Range Bombers Conducting Military Drills In The Western Pacific

China's Air Force Conducts Exercise Between Taiwan and the Philippines -- The Diplomat
PLA Air Force conducts first training stint in West Pacific -- Global Times
PLA H-6 bombers conduct first drill in Western Pacific -- Want China Times
China air force completes drill in west Pacific -- Xinhua
First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific -- AFP

Israel Successfully Tests U.S.-Backed Missile Shield 'David's Sling'



Reuters: Israel tests U.S.-backed missile shield as Iran nuclear talks churn

* "David's Sling" due to be deployed next year
* Israel sees threat from Iran-backed Hezbollah
* Tests completed on deadline for Iran nuclear talks

A new Israeli air defense system being developed in partnership with the United States met all its objectives in a series of recent live interception tests, U.S. and Israeli officials said Wednesday, putting it on course for deployment by next year.

The system, David's Sling, shot down targets simulating longer-range missiles like Scuds that could be fired at Israel from Syria and by Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas.

Defense sources said the more recent tests took place last week and on Tuesday. The latter coincided with international negotiations on Iran's disputed nuclear program that have drawn censure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in turn soured his relations with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Update #1: Following a successful test series David’s Sling to become operational this year -- Defense Update
Update #2: Israel successfully tests US-backed missile shield -- Deutsche Welle

How Do Rogue Countries Get Their Weapons


Business Insider: This map shows how the world's most dangerous regimes got their weapons in 2014

Several countries have managed to build massive arsenals despite being under various forms of international sanction.

China has anti-satellite weapons, advanced fighter jets, and ballistic missiles, despite the US banning all weapons-related trade with Beijing after the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre.

The Arab League maintains an official boycott on Israel — which nevertheless has the strongest military in the Middle East. And EU and US sanctions haven't wiped out Russia's ongoing military modernization drive.

WNU Editor: Russia and China are the main suppliers .... and it's all about the dollars.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries

YouTube

IntelCenter: Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries

IntelCenter's Country Threat Index (CTI) examines the volume of terrorist and rebel alerts, messaging traffic, videos, photos, incidents and the number killed and injured in a country over the past 30 days and runs it through an algorithm to assign the country its CTI. The higher the CTI the greater the risk.

The top 10 most dangerous countries in the world based on terrorist and rebel activity over the past 30 days as of 1 Apr. 2015 are shown below with their CTI rankings and score. The map above shows the CTI scores for all countries as of 1 Apr. 2015. You can see the CTI score for each country by hovering over it. Up-to-the-minute CTI rankings for all countries are contained in the IntelCenter Database (ICD).

Update: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine Among World's Most Dangerous Countries -- Radio Free Europe

WNU Editor: Radio Free Europe ranks Ukraine as #9 .... but on the IntelCenter's web site, #9 is Egypt.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 1, 2015



Ian Black, The Guardian: Crisis in Yemen – the Guardian briefing

Proxy war in country between Saudi Arabia and Iran will fuel wider instability unless power-sharing can be agreed upon

The Arab world’s poorest and most misunderstood country has been facing multiple crises for years: a shortage of oil and water, a rapidly growing population, hunger, dictatorship, corruption, an international terrorist presence and deep internal regional and political differences. Now escalating regional rivalry between neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Iran has sparked a wider war that threatens chaos and possible collapse.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- April 1, 2015

In Yemen Strikes, Signs of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Policy Shift -- Ray Takeyh, WSJ

Can the Saudi Coalition Win in Yemen? -- Frederic Wehrey, Newsweek

Will Yemen kick-off the 'War of the two Blocs?' -- Sharmine Narwani, RT

Why did Israel side with Saudi Arabia on Yemen? -- Jacky Hugi, Al-Monitor

Understanding The Forces At Play In Yemen's Civil War -- NPR

Progress made, but can an Iran nuclear framework deal be reached? -- Elise Labott and Greg Botelho, CNN

Obama’s Next Move May Be Lifting U.S. Protection of Israel at UN -- Sangwon Yoon, Bloomberg

Obama Comes to His Senses on Egypt -- Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

India and Japan Continue to Deepen Their Defense Ties -- Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat

What’s Behind Washington’s Tussle With China Over China’s Asia Bank? -- Bill Powell, Newsweek

East Asia's Bloodiest Border War -- Robert Beckhusen, War Is Boring

Can Nigeria's election inspire wave of African democracy? -- Margaux Benn, AFP

Russia Launches Next Deadly Phase of Hybrid War on Ukraine -- Maxim Tucker, Newsweek

Europe: A continent enfeebled by economic crisis -- Tony Barber, Financial Times

The Troops vs. Bergdahl -- Elise Cooper, American Thinker

World News Briefs -- April 1, 2015 (Evening Edition)

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland. Credit Ruben Sprich/Reuters

New York Times: Iran Nuclear Talks Are Extended for Another Day

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart on Wednesday night for what diplomats said could be a series of pivotal sessions as the United States and its negotiating partners sought to secure a preliminary accord to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said before the meetings that the Iranians were expected to present “new recommendations” on how to bridge the gaps that have been holding up the accord.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran nuclear deal: Kerry extends stay as talks overrun.

Despite progress, Iran nuclear talks hit impasse on details. Iran: Sanctions must be dropped for nuclear deal.

Israeli leader says world needs 'better deal' with Iran.

Yemen Houthi fighters backed by tanks reach central Aden.

Situation in Yemen critical, no safe place in Sanaa – Red Cross spokesperson.

Americans in Yemen fear they have been left behind as bombing escalates.

Heavy clashes on Saudi-Yemeni border; Hadi government pleads for troops. 35 dead in Yemen after airstrikes hit factory vicinity. Death toll in Yemen rises as Saudi-led military attacks continue.

U.S. reports 14 air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Iraq army hunts ISIL fighters after Tikrit breakthrough. Iraqi minister says Tikrit to be recaptured within 'hours'. ISIS' legacy in Tikrit: booby traps, IEDs and fear.

ISIL 'seizes most' of' Yarmouk district in Damascus. Islamic State seizes most of south Damascus refugee camp: witnesses.

Jordan closes border with Syria amid heavy clashes.

Turkey detains 22 suspected radicals after hostage stand-off; gunman enters ruling party office in Istanbul.

Palestine formally joins International Criminal Court.

ASIA

Jack Lew: China's currency is not ready for prime time.

North Korea will never give up nuclear weapons, says envoy to U.N..

Thailand lifts martial law 10 months after coup. Thailand PM 'to replace martial law' with new restrictions.

US Navy: Beijing creating a 'great wall of sand' in South China Sea.

Pakistan nears deal to buy 8 Chinese submarines.

Pakistan wants to become China’s newest superhighway to Europe.

Japanese PM could comment on WWII atrocities during US visit.

Typhoon Maysak heads towards central Philippines after storm batters Federated States of Micronesia, killing at least five.

AFRICA

Nigeria's president-elect Muhammadu Buhari says he will fight corruption.

Nigeria election: Muhammadu Buhari hails 'vote for change'. Nigeria elections: Muhammadu Buhari hails peaceful handover of power.

Nigeria's Buhari says to 'spare no effort' in squashing Boko Haram.

Niger President: End of Boko Haram is near.

UN rights chief: Boko Haram fighters murdered captive women. UN calls for global response to stop Boko Haram terror threat.

Chad says hundreds of Boko Haram militants, 9 soldiers killed in clash.

Egypt president welcomes release of withheld US military aid.

Shells launched at U.N. base in north Mali: sources.

Libya crisis: Head of Islamist Tripoli government fired.

Kenya corruption watchdog makes allegations against 175 officials.

EUROPE

Alps crash: Bodies recovered, but families must wait months.

Prosecutor denies reports of cell phone video from inside Germanwings crash plane. Germanwings crash video 'must be handed to investigators'.

Serious doubts raised over Germanwings 4U-9525 investigation.

Main suspect in Nemtsov murder withdraws confession, says he has alibi.

Crimean Tatar media 'silenced by Russia'.

Greece denies will delay IMF payment without new aid.

Greek anti-establishment protesters occupy buildings, enter parliament grounds.

Record number of migrants expected to drown in Mediterranean this year.

AMERICAS

California drought: No snow found in snow survey; Gov. Brown announces first-ever statewide mandatory water reductions.

US Senator Robert Menendez indicted on corruption charges.

Fire blazes on oil platform in Gulf of Mexico, 4 dead, multiple injures reported.

Venezuela to file a complaint against the US with the UN.

White House criticized for resuming weapons deliveries to Egypt.

Peru's Prime Minister Ana Jara deposed over spy row.

Buenos Aires streets empty as transport strike hits. Argentine workers strike over income tax rate.

Popularity of Brazil's Rousseff keeps falling: poll.

Chile's Bachelet approval sinks amid political and natural storms.

Floods death toll rises in Chile, president cancels trips.

U.S., Cuba end human rights meeting amid “differences” and “respect”.

Canadian diplomat Roxanne Dubé's son killed, another in custody after Miami shooting.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

UN report: More than 25,000 foreigners fight with terrorists.

Syria, Iraq turned into ‘international finishing school for extremists’ – UN report.

Islamic State's propaganda magazine justifies use of child executioners.

Jabhat Al Nusra is back in Syria ... with a vengeance (commentary).

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Oil rallies as Iran nuclear talks drag on, overshadowing supply concerns.

Google announces budget-priced Chromebits and Chromebooks.

Global manufacturing growth eased slightly in March -survey.

The Islamic State Wants A Truce


Jamie Dettmer, Daily Beast: ISIS Wants a Truce

In the new edition of its magazine, ISIS floats the idea of a truce. Is the group flagging—or is this just another trick?

After months of being targeted by U.S.-led airstrikes, losing ground in Iraq and suffering defeat in a weeks-long assault to capture the Syrian border town of Kobani, is the Islamic State flagging and putting out feelers to see if a truce might be possible? Or is it just seeking to sow confusion in the ranks of its opponents and to undermine their unity and resolve by raising the idea of negotiations?

Intriguingly, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, floated the idea on Tuesday of a negotiated truce in the latest issue of the militants’ English-language magazine Dabiq, via an article written by one of the group’s remaining Western hostages, British photojournalist John Cantlie.

WNU Editor: Here is an easy prediction .... no one is going to take up their offer.

Saudi Defense Minister: ‘Iran Can’t Be Trusted’

Saudi defense minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman is supervising the campaign against Houthi militias in Yemen. (Al Arabiya)

Washington Free Beacon: Saudi Defense Minister to Congress: ‘Iran Can’t Be Trusted

Concerns mounting on Capitol Hill

LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Saudi Arabia’s newly installed defense minister told members of Congress on a recent trip to the oil-rich nation that “Iran can’t be trusted,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R., Fla.).

Buchanan, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, participated in a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the son of the newly crowned King Salman, to discuss regional issues and Iranian aggression.

When asked by Buchanan and other lawmakers present at the sit-down about the current talks with Iran—which have now passed their March 31 deadline—Salman called the tentative agreement disastrous for the region.


WNU Editor: Iran has been saying the same thing about Saudi Arabia for years.

Iranian Nuclear Talks To Continue For One More Day



VOA: Iran Nuclear Talks Head Into Another Day

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will stay in Switzerland at least one more day to keep talking with Iran on a nuclear deal.

"We continue to make progress," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said late Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, "but have not reached a political understanding."

Negotiators from Iran and major six world powers missed their self-imposed midnight Tuesday deadline to close the remaining gaps in a framework deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

WNU Editor: I do expect some announcement .... and a document that will be drafted that will state broad goals and understandings .... but bottom line .... these talks have been a failure.

More News On The Iranian Nuclear Talks Continuing For One More Day

Iran talks to be extended another day -- Washington Post
Iran nuclear deal: Kerry extends stay as talks overrun -- BBC
Kerry to stay at Iran talks till at least early Thursday -- AFP
Iran Nuclear Talks Are Extended for Another Day -- NYT
Kerry extends Iran talks, French foreign minister returns -- Reuters
One foot out the door? Iran talks enter double overtime, White House repeats ‘walk away’ threat -- FOX News
Kerry to remain at Iran nuclear talks until at least Thursday: spokeswoman -- Reuters
Iran nuclear talks: US says negotiations with Iran are at an end; warns world powers will walk away -- ABC News (Australia)
Iran Negotiators Weigh How Long to Stay After Missing Deadline -- Bloomberg
US faces calls to ‘walk away’ from Iran talks -- FOX News

The Saudi Arabian Military Is Showcasing Their War In Yemen



Brian Murphy, Washington Post: Saudi generals use Yemen war to showcase their new swagger

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- There’s no fog of war here. It’s more like a high-gloss, stage-crafted showcase of Saudi Arabia’s new military swagger.

Every evening since the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen began last week, the fortress-like grounds of the defense ministry in Riyadh has opened to journalists. They listen to a briefing on the latest battlefield events, see some black-and-white warplane video clips of missiles destroying suspected rebel buildings and convoys, and pose a few questions. All pretty standard fare for reporters covering any conflict.

But the Saudis have added their own sense of purpose and pride. The event has become something of a possible dress rehearsal for a country that could be quickly moving out of the background of American-directed security agreements and taking regional matters into its own hands.

WNU Editor: Saudi Arabia's generals and defense officials may feel good with what is happening right now, but on the ground the Houthis rebels are still advancing and taking territory .... Yemen Houthi fighters backed by tanks reach central Aden (Reuters). There is going to be a point when Saudi Arabia will have to commit ground troops to push back the Houthi rebels .... and when that day comes every analyst is saying the same thing .... a ground war will be extremely difficult and bloody in Yemen .... Analysis: Yemen ground operation carries risks, from hostile terrain to guerrilla warfare (Fox news/AP). My prediction .... when that happens expect the Saudi "swagger" to disappear.

Update: The U.S. is staying out of this fight, but they are letting their weapons play a big role .... The Pentagon Hangs Back in Yemen As American-Made Planes Pound Rebels (Joseph Trevithick, War Is Boring)

Yemen War News Updates -- April 1, 2015



Washington Post: Rebel forces push farther into key Yemeni port city of Aden

Rebel forces push farther into key Yemeni port city of Aden

SANAA, Yemen — Shiite rebel forces backed by tanks and heavy machine guns pushed deeper into Yemen’s second-largest city on Wednesday in a bid to strengthen their hold even as Saudi-led airstrikes attempt to cut off their supply lines and cripple their capabilities.

The showdown over Aden, a key port and gateway to Yemen’s south, underscores the imperatives on both sides in the widening conflict — in which Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have launched a campaign to beat back the rebels, thought to be backed by Shiite power Iran, and block a perceived bid by Tehran to expand its influence.

WNU Editor: This sums up how bad the situation is in Yemen .... Yemen's disaster, summed up in one depressing tweet (VOX)

Yemen War News Updates -- April 1, 2015

Yemen Houthi fighters backed by tanks reach central Aden -- Reuters
Saudi Coalition Hits Houthi Stronghold as Aden Battle Rages -- Bloomberg
Yemen Crisis: Saudi Arabia Forces, Houthi Rebels Clash On Border As Yemen Calls For Ground Troops -- IBTimes
Yemen fighting intensifies as clashes break out on Saudi border -- Middle East Eye
Yemen crisis: Blast at Hudaydah factory 'kills 35' -- BBC
Explosion at Dairy Factory in Yemen Kills Dozens -- NYT
Dozens killed in Yemen dairy plant blast -- The Guardian
Explosion at Yemen factory kills at least 25: residents, medics -- Reuters
Saudi-led coalition tightens grip on Yemen; casualties rise -- CNN
Yemen crisis: Civilian toll mounts from Saudi airstrikes -- CSM
Witness to air strike on Yemen refugee camp: women and children burned beyond recognition -- The Guardian
Iran Calls for Talks on Yemen -- WSJ
Yemen on verge of total collapse, UN human rights chief warns -- BBC
Aid for Yemen Dwindles as Need Rises Amid Chaos -- NYT
Don't sugarcoat it — Yemen is a mess -- Daniel R. DePetris, The Hill
Saudi Arabia and Yemen: An easier road in than out -- The Economist
Can the Saudi Coalition Win in Yemen? -- Frederic Wehrey, Newsweek

Nigeria's President-Elect Buhari Vows To 'Spare No Effort' In Squashing Boko Haram

Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari. AFP Photo

Al Jazeera: Buhari vows to ‘spare no effort’ to rid Nigeria of Boko Haram

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari also extends ‘hand of fellowship’ to Goodluck Jonathan after winning historic election

Nigeria President-elect Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to “spare no effort” to defeat Boko Haram — the brutal armed group that has plagued the oil-rich country with violence in recent years.

In his first address to the nation since a landmark vote saw him elected to power, Buhari said that Nigeria had a “tough and urgent” job ahead, but that: “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror and bring back peace.”

WNU Editor: Nigeria's President-Elect Buhari has his work cut-out for him.

More News On Nigeria's President-Elect Buhari Vowing To 'Spare No Effort' In Squashing Boko Haram

Nigeria elections: Winner Buhari issues Boko Haram vow -- BBC
Nigeria's Buhari says to 'spare no effort' in squashing Boko Haram -- Reuters
Nigeria's Buhari vows action on Boko Haram, graft after election win -- AFP
Nigeria will 'spare no effort' in fight against Boko Haram -- RTE
Buhari Promises Campaign to Crush Boko Haram in Nigeria -- Bloomberg

Islamic State Seizes Parts Of The Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp In Damascus



The Guardian: Clashes in Damascus refugee camp after reported arrival of Isis

Palestinian officials says Islamic State fighters have entered Yarmouk refugee camp in Syrian capital and are under attack from anti-government rebels

Fighting has erupted throughout Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, with observers claiming Islamic State has entered the area, less than 10 miles from the Syrian capital’s most secure hub.

Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian camp in Syria, has been a frequent battle zone pitting regime forces against mainstream and Islamist rebels during more than three years of fighting, which along with a brutal siege has emptied it of all but around 15,000 of its pre-war population of close to 200,000 residents.

WNU Editor: The Yarmouk refugee camp has become one of the many places that the Islamic State is now focusing their energies on .... ISIS Said to Step Up Offensive in Syria (NYT).

More News On The Battle For The Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp In Damascus

IS militants 'enter Yarmouk refugee camp' in Syrian capital -- BBC
Islamic State captures most of Palestinian refugee camp in Syria's capital -- CSM/AP
ISIL seizes parts of Yarmouk district in Damascus -- Al Jazeera
Syria: ISIL militants seize parts of Palestinian camp -- Euronews
ISIS Storm Palestinian Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Syrian Capital -- Newsweek
ISIS captures Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus -- YNet news
Isis battles for foothold on the edge of Syrian capital -- Financial Times

Iraq Claims Final Victory In The Battle For Tikrit



Reuters: Iraq claims victory over Islamic State in Tikrit

(Reuters) - The Iraqi government claimed victory over Islamic State insurgents in Tikrit on Wednesday after a month-long battle for the city supported by Shi'ite militiamen and U.S.-led air strikes, saying that only small pockets of resistance remained.

State television showed Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, accompanied by leaders of the army and police, the provincial governor and Shi'ite paramilitary leaders, parading through Tikrit and raising an Iraqi flag.

The militants captured the city, about 140 km (90 miles) north of Baghdad, last June as they swept through most of Iraq's Sunni Muslim territories, swatting aside a demoralised and disorganised army that has now required an uneasy combination of Iranian and American support to get back on its feet.


WNU Editor: Some are skeptical of these sweeping claims .... Iraqi Claims That ‘Tikrit Has Fallen’ Is Disputed (NYT)

More News On Iraq Claiming A Final Victory In The Battle For Tikrit

Iraq claims "magnificent victory" over ISIS -- CBS/AP
Iraq hails Tikrit 'liberation' after month-long battle -- AFP
Iraq claims victory over ISIS in Tikrit, but US military official says 'block-to-block' fighting ongoing -- FOX News
Iraq takes back Tikrit from ISIS: Jihadists lose battle for region as government forces raise country's flag in city centre -- Daily Mail
Iraq army hunts ISIL fighters after Tikrit breakthrough -- Al Jazeera

Update: Iraq claims victory over ISIS in Tikrit, but US military official says 'block-to-block' fighting ongoing -- FOX News

World News Briefs -- April 1, 2015



CNN: President-elect Buhari: 'A new day and a new Nigeria are upon us'

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)For the first time in Nigeria's history, the opposition has defeated the ruling party in democratic elections.

Muhammadu Buhari has won Nigeria's presidential election, the country's Independent National Electoral Commission said. He defeated incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by about 2 million votes.

The win comes after a long history of military rule, coups and botched attempts at democracy in Africa's most populous nation.

MIDDLE EAST

Despite progress, Iran nuclear talks hit impasse on details. Iran: Sanctions must be dropped for nuclear deal.

Israeli leader says world needs 'better deal' with Iran.

Heavy clashes on Saudi-Yemeni border; Hadi government pleads for troops. 35 dead in Yemen after airstrikes hit factory vicinity. Death toll in Yemen rises as Saudi-led military attacks continue.

Iraq army hunts ISIL fighters after Tikrit breakthrough. Iraqi minister says Tikrit to be recaptured within 'hours'. ISIS' legacy in Tikrit: booby traps, IEDs and fear.

ISIL 'seizes most' of' Yarmouk district in Damascus.

Jordan closes border with Syria amid heavy clashes.

Turkey detains 22 suspected radicals after hostage stand-off; gunman enters ruling party office in Istanbul.

Palestine formally joins International Criminal Court.

ASIA

North Korea will never give up nuclear weapons, says envoy to U.N..

Thailand lifts martial law 10 months after coup. Thailand PM 'to replace martial law' with new restrictions.

US Navy: Beijing creating a 'great wall of sand' in South China Sea.

Pakistan nears deal to buy 8 Chinese submarines.

Pakistan wants to become China’s newest superhighway to Europe.

Japanese PM could comment on WWII atrocities during US visit.

Typhoon Maysak heads towards central Philippines after storm batters Federated States of Micronesia, killing at least five.

AFRICA

Nigeria election: Muhammadu Buhari hails 'vote for change'. Nigeria elections: Muhammadu Buhari hails peaceful handover of power.

Nigeria's Buhari says to 'spare no effort' in squashing Boko Haram.

Niger President: End of Boko Haram is near.

UN rights chief: Boko Haram fighters murdered captive women. UN calls for global response to stop Boko Haram terror threat.

Egypt president welcomes release of withheld US military aid.

Shells launched at U.N. base in north Mali: sources.

Libya crisis: Head of Islamist Tripoli government fired.

Kenya corruption watchdog makes allegations against 175 officials.

EUROPE

Prosecutor denies reports of cell phone video from inside Germanwings crash plane. Germanwings crash video 'must be handed to investigators'.

Serious doubts raised over Germanwings 4U-9525 investigation.

Main suspect in Nemtsov murder withdraws confession, says he has alibi.

Crimean Tatar media 'silenced by Russia'.

Greece denies will delay IMF payment without new aid.

Greek anti-establishment protesters occupy buildings, enter parliament grounds.

Record number of migrants expected to drown in Mediterranean this year.

AMERICAS

White House criticized for resuming weapons deliveries to Egypt.

Peru's Prime Minister Ana Jara deposed over spy row.

Buenos Aires streets empty as transport strike hits. Argentine workers strike over income tax rate.

Popularity of Brazil's Rousseff keeps falling: poll.

Chile's Bachelet approval sinks amid political and natural storms.

Floods death toll rises in Chile, president cancels trips.

Canadian diplomat Roxanne Dubé's son killed, another in custody after Miami shooting.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Syria, Iraq turned into ‘international finishing school for extremists’ – UN report.

Islamic State's propaganda magazine justifies use of child executioners.

Jabhat Al Nusra is back in Syria ... with a vengeance (commentary).

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Oil rallies as Iran nuclear talks drag on, overshadowing supply concerns.

Google announces budget-priced Chromebits and Chromebooks.

Global manufacturing growth eased slightly in March -survey.

Military And intelligence News Briefs -- April 1, 2015

Members of the armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic drive a tank on the outskirts of Donetsk on January 22. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Military.com: US Army Eyes Ukraine Conflict for Intel on Russian Military Technology

The U.S. Army is working to glean intelligence on Russian military technology from the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces, American generals said.

The Moscow-backed rebels are waging a hybrid war that includes the use of soft power such as disinformation and cyberattacks to hard power such as truck-mounted Grad rocket launchers, according to Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe.

Military And intelligence News Briefs -- April 1, 2015

The Pentagon Hangs Back in Yemen As American-Made Planes Pound Rebels -- Joseph Trevithick, War Is Boring

Bashar Assad, Syrian president, contradicts Moscow, says Russia supplying weapons since 2011 -- Washington Times

Mistral contract freezing's no laughing matter — Kremlin -- ITAR-TASS

Russia’s strategic aviation begins exercise featuring missile carrying cruisers, bombers -- ITAR-TASS

Russia Again Flight Tests New ICBM to Treaty-Violating Range -- Washington Free Beacon

Russia’s All-New Armata Tank Rolls Over the Competition - Stern -- Sputnik

Self-sufficient Russian military force to be formed in Arctic by 2018 — Defense Ministry -- ITAR-TASS

Russian army to have more than 350,000 contract servicemen by year end -- ITAR-TASS

Guardians of the Galaxy: Russia Creates International Space Patrol -- Sputnik

First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific Ocean -- Economic Times/AFP

China detains, fines person for military graft rumors -- Reuters

Taiwan’s largest missile ship goes into service -- Gulf Times

Germany, France, Italy plan to develop military drones -- Military Times/AP

Turkish military officers acquitted of charges of plotting a coup in retrial -- FOX News/AP

Bolivia defence minister sacked over controversial top -- BBC

Congo Military Leaders Sign Pledge to Combat Rape in War -- ABC News/AP

Remove US military bases from Latin America - UNASUR chief -- RT

Obama ends freeze on U.S. military aid to Egypt -- Reuters

Obama administration ends long hold on military aid to Egypt -- Washington Post

Marine Corps Identifies $2.1B in Unfunded Priorities, Mostly in Aviation -- USNI News

Navy Fixes Carrier Catapult to Launch Jets with External Fuel Tanks -- Defense Tech

Navy Builds New Radar for Carriers, Amphibs -- DoD Buzz

Army not content to ‘own the night,’ seeks aircraft for all weather conditions -- Washington Times

GOP senators warn of new threat to A-10 fleet -- The Hill

DARPA wants an army of drones to overwhelm the enemy -- Endgadget

U.S. Expands Foreign Cyberattack Retaliation Options -- NYT

Obama Unveils New Penalties for Overseas Cyberattacks -- WSJ

Why the Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Dollars Don’t Add Up -- Aliya Sternstein, Nextgov

Federal judge denies FOIA request for secret CIA document -- The Hill

Ex-Navy SEAL lawmaker: Don't lower standards for military recruits -- The Hill

Carter Sidesteps Question on Whether Bergdahl Served With Distinction -- Military.com

These Women Are Fighting the Pentagon Over Its Handling of Sexual Assault Claims -- Mother Jones

Active-duty suicides up in 2014: report -- Washington Times

For Sale on eBay: Military Vehicle To Start Your Robot Army -- Gizmodo

Pentagon Needs Budget Reality, Not Gimmicks -- Defense News

Mexico Is Arming Itself With U.S. Military Hardware: But America’s southern neighbor once preferred European weapons — what changed? -- Robert Beckhusen, War Is Boring

New Report Outlines How Blackwater Made Money In The Losing War To Stop Afghanistan Drug Production

American troops patrolled poppy fields in southern Afghanistan on Monday minutes before being ambushed by the Taliban. Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

The Guardian: Former Blackwater gets rich as Afghan drug production hits record high

Opium poppy cultivation is up in Afghanistan despite the infamous mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater being paid $569m by the Pentagon to stop it

In a war full of failures, the US counternarcotics mission in Afghanistan stands out: opiate production has climbed steadily over recent years to reach record-high levels last year.

Yet there is a clear winner in the anti-drug effort – not the Afghan people, but the infamous mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater.

Statistics released on Tuesday reveal that the rebranded private security firm, known since 2011 as Academi, reaped over half a billion dollars from the futile Defense Department push to eradicate Afghan narcotics, some 32% of the $1.8bn in contracting money the Pentagon has devoted to the job since 2002.

WNU Editor: They have clearly (and spectacularly) failed in their mandate .... Afghanistan Opium Harvest Reaches Record Level.

Where Did All The Money Disappear In Afghanistan?

Matthew Gault, War Is Boring: How the Pentagon Lost Track of $45 Billion

It’s almost impossible to audit what taxpayers have spent to rebuild Afghanistan

Since 2002, Congress has set aside $104 billion specifically to rebuild Afghanistan. Of that, $66 billion went to the Pentagon.

Recently, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction asked the military to account for all that spending. It couldn’t. According to a new report from SIGAR, the Pentagon only knows how it spent a third of its reconstruction budget.

It didn’t break any rules when it did this, and has since fixed the oversight that led to the underreporting, but it’s cold comfort for taxpayers who will probably never know how the U.S. military spent that money in Afghanistan.

Most likely … not all of it well. The Pentagon has a history of wasting billions in the country on bad projects, corrupt business partners and disreputable construction companies.

Update: The Pentagon Can't Account for $45 Billion It Spent in Afghanistan -- Gizmodo

WNU Editor: The latest report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is here. The Nation has an interesting post on how some of the money has been spent in Afghanistan .... the one that caught my eye is IBM receiving funds to develop Afghanistan's mineral wealth (I guess they provided the computers/software) .... Blackwater: The Top Pentagon Contractor for Afghanistan Training (The Nation).

President Obama Approves Program That Allows Sanctions On Individuals Or Groups Engaged In Cyber Attacks Or Cyber Spying



Washington Post: U.S. establishes sanctions program to combat cyberattacks, cyberspying

President Obama on Wednesday signed an executive order establishing the first sanctions program to allow the administration to impose penalties on individuals overseas who engage in destructive attacks or commercial espionage in cyberspace.

In the works for two years, the order declares “significant malicious cyber-enabled activities” a “national emergency” and enables the treasury secretary to target foreign individuals and entities that take part in the illicit cyberactivity for sanctions that could include freezing their financial assets and barring commercial transactions with them.

WNU Editor: President Obama's executive order is here.

More News On President Obama Authorizing A New Cyber Sanctions Program

U.S. targets overseas cyber attackers with new sanctions program -- Reuters
Obama Signs Order Creating New Cyber Sanctions Program -- AP
Obama Approves Targeted Sanctions Against Cyberattackers -- NBC
Obama authorizes sanctions on cyber criminals -- USA Today
Obama signs order creating sanctions for cyberattacks -- Washington Times
President Obama creates new cyber sanctions programme -- BBC
U.S. Economic Sanctions to Target Cyber-Attacks, Cyberspying -- Bloomberg

Does Israel Have An Effective Military Option To Stop Iran's Nuclear Program?

Israeli F-16 fighter. Getting ready to visit Iran?

Dan Arbell, CNN: Does Israel have a military option vs. Iran nuclear program?

(CNN)The Iran nuclear negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, reportedly have made substantive progress, inching closer toward a provisional agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. While the talks continued to unfold this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restated his concern about an agreement with Iran, vowing "to continue to act against any threat."

If an agreement is reached, the international spotlight will turn to Israel, in anticipation of its possible reaction. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe "Bogy" Yaalon stated that a deal is "a tragedy for the whole world." The question is, however, what can Israel really do once a deal is signed? In recent days, notable conservatives in the United States have attacked President Barack Obama's handling of the negotiations with Iran, arguing that a bad deal will force Israel's hand, leaving it with no choice but to attack Iranian targets.

But is this a realistic conclusion?


WNU Editor: Apparently any military option will only be partially effective, and weighed against the consequences .... not at all appetizing. My prediction on what Israel will do .... they will be pursuing options for stricter controls that are outlined in this WSJ post .... Israel Readies Next Steps to Counter Any Iran Nuclear Deal (Wall Street Journal).

Update: U.S. Secretary of Defense Carter is still brandishing the military option .... Carter Says Iran Nuclear Deal Would Not Limit US Military Options (Military.com) .... more here.

This U.S. Navy SEAL Was Shot 27 Times And Is Now Training To Run A Half-Ironman To Raise Money For Fellow Veterans



The Telegraph: Meet the Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times and lived to tell the story

Eight years ago, Mike Day took multiple bullets to the legs, arms and abdomen while serving in Iraq. Now, he is training to run a half-Ironman to raise money for fellow veterans

A US Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times during one incident while on tour in Iraq has made such an exceptional recovery that he his now preparing to compete in a half-Ironman to raise money for his fellow veterans.

In 2007, Mike Day was caught in a brutal firefight with three al-Qaeda insurgents after he was the first of his team to enter a room in a town near near Fallujah, Iraq.

The enemy fighters opened fire, hitting Day with 27 separate bullets. 11 of the shots were stopped by his body armour, but 16 penetrated his body and left him perilously wounded.

Update: Ex-Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times to run Ironman for fellow vets -- FOX/Tribune

WNU Editor: Hearing and reading these incredible stories .... I am always left speechless.

The U.S Grows Wary As China Continues To Expand Its Navy

China’s navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli, left, speaks with U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert during a ceremony last summer in Beijing. Photo: Stephen Shaver/Press Pool

Wall Street Journal: As China Expands Its Navy, the U.S. Grows Wary

Washington is divided over whether Beijing should be viewed as naval partner or potential adversary.

China’s navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli, strolled the Harvard University campus in a tweed blazer and slacks during a visit to the U.S. last fall, joking with students and quizzing school officials about enrolling some of his officers.

A few days earlier, he became the first Chinese navy chief to attend a 113-nation naval forum in Rhode Island, where he hailed U.S.-China military ties and discussed working together on global maritime challenges.

Shortly after his U.S. visit, Adm. Wu took another trip—this time to the Spratly Islands, an archipelago in the South China Sea where his country appears to be building a network of artificial island fortresses in contested waters. It was his first known visit to facilities U.S. officials fear could be used to enforce Chinese control of nearly all the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

WNU Editor: The Chinese have been very clear in the past few years that their goal is to first establish a modern naval force in their region of Asia, followed by a modern global navy. As to whether or not they should be viewed as naval partner or potential adversary .... from the Chinese perspective .... they see the U.S. as the adversary.