Wednesday, May 24, 2017

President Trump Meets Pope Francis At The Vatican



VOA: Trump, Pope Hold 'Cordial' Talks at Vatican

VATICAN CITY — U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis held a 30-minute meeting at the Vatican on Wednesday, underscoring the emphasis during the first presidential foreign trip on the three Abrahamic (monotheistic) faiths.

The two men, meting for the first time, shook hands. The pope appeared somber. The president grinned.

“It’s a very great honor,” Trump said to the leader of the Roman Catholic Church after they were seated in the pope’s private study.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump Meeting Pope Francis At The Vatican

The Latest: Trump says meeting with Pope was honor -- AP
Trump holds first face-to-face talks with Pope Francis -- BBC
Pope urges Trump to work for peace as smiles replace spats -- AFP
‘We can use peace’: Trump and Pope Francis meet -- AP
Pope asks Trump to be peacemaker, gives him environmental letter -- Reuters
Donald Trump holds ‘cordial’ talks with Pope Francis at Vatican -- Financial Times
Pope welcomes Trump at the Vatican despite past disagreements -- Washington Post
Trump meets the pope at the Vatican -- The Hill
Donald Trump Meets Pope Francis: Issues The Two Leaders Differ On -- International Business Times
Pope asks Trump to be peacemaker, gives him environmental letter -- Reuters
Trump gives Pope Francis books by Martin Luther King, Jr. at Vatican meeting -- Washington Examiner
Melania and Ivanka Trump Wore Veils to Meet the Pope -- TIME

Terror Attack In Manchester -- News Updates May 24, 2017



Washington Post: Britain says Manchester bomber ‘likely’ had accomplices as focus turns to Libya visits

MANCHESTER, England — Britain’s domestic security chief said Wednesday it was “likely” that the bomber who killed 22 people at a concert venue was not acting alone, underscoring the expanded security measures as the nation’s threat level was raised to its highest point.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd did not provide details on possible associates of the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi. But she told the BBC that security services — which had been aware of Abedi “up to a point” before the bombing — were focusing on his visits to Libya, at least one of which was very recent.

Rudd’s French counterpart, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, told broadcaster BFMTV that Abedi — whose parents emigrated from Libya — may have also gone to Syria and had “proven” links with Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the Manchester blast and called Abedi a “soldier.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The British are upset that U.S. intelligence has leaked a lot of intel on this case to the press .... U.K. Chides U.S. for Leaking Manchester Bombing Detail (Bloomberg). More here .... Britain Slams US For Leaking Details About Suicide Bomber Who "Did Not Act Alone", Had "Proven Links To ISIS" (Zero Hedge).

Terror Attack In Manchester -- News Updates May 24, 2017

The Latest: Investigators hunt for accomplices of bomber -- AP
UK Minister Says Manchester Bomber Likely Did Not Act Alone, Criticizes U.S. Leaks -- Reuters
Manchester Arena Suicide Bombing Suspect ‘Likely’ Didn’t Act Alone: Official -- NBC
Salman Abedi, Manchester Bomber, Likely Had Help, Officials Say -- NYT
The Manchester Attacker Likely Did Not Act Alone, British Home Secretary Says -- Time
Manchester bomber had 'proven' links to Islamic State: French minister -- Reuters
Lounging on a Libyan beach with his childhood mates, the cannabis-smoking teenager who went on to slaughter 22 people in Manchester Arena attack after being radicalised and 'receiving secret terror training in Syria' -- Daily Mail
UK police arrest 3 in connection to Manchester arena attack -- ABC News
Officials: Manchester bomber was local man of Libyan descent -- AP
Warning of imminent attack, Britain raises threat level -- AP
Manchester attack: What we know so far -- BBC

Is Russia Implementing A Partial Economic Embargo On Latvia?

Reuters: Exclusive: Russia refusing to send some rail freight to Latvia - sources

Russia's state-owned railway monopoly is refusing most requests to take cargo from Russia to ports in Latvia, industry executives said, a serious blow to the Baltic state which depends on the transit trade.

The monopoly, Russian Railways (RZhD), has in many cases offered no explanation to customers for turning down the cargoes, mostly oil products, fertilizer, coal and metals which had previously been transported relatively easily by rail to Latvia, nine people familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Asked for comment, RZhD said it had not introduced any restrictions on transporting freight to Latvia, and that it looks at each request to transport freight on its own merits.

Russia has a long history of testy political relations with Latvia, a former Soviet republic now in the European Union.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The person who runs Russian Railways (RZhD) is a Russian who was born in Latvia. And if there is one thing that a lot of Russians who are in Latvia are upset about (Russian is spoken by about a third of the population), it is the treatment of their language and culture by the Latvian government. You cannot teach Russian in school, official correspondence must be in Latvian, etc.. Is there a personal vendetta at play here by this railway manager .... I do not know. But I do know that there is no sympathy in Russia to what happens in Latvia .... and if they can be hurt economically because there is a better route and/or it is cheaper .... so be it. On a side note .... the EU is always making a point that minority languages should be protected .... but on this issue they have been consistently silent.

Tweet For Today

China Does Not Want This Exiled Chinese Businessman To Talk



Washington Free Beacon: China Intervenes to Block Businessman From Revealing Spying Secrets on VOA

Guo Wengui details PRC intel operations, a potential intelligence windfall for FBI, CIA

An exiled Chinese businessman with close ties to the government has begun revealing secrets about Beijing's intelligence operations after China pressured the official Voice of America radio to curtail a lengthy interview with him.

Four VOA employees were suspended last month after more than an hour of the radio's exclusive interview with billionaire businessman Guo Wengui exceeded a time limit imposed under radio rules.

The four employees of the Chinese language radio division are now calling on Congress to investigate whether VOA managers gave in to pressure from China's government to shorten the Guo interview and as a result undermined the radio's integrity.

Read more ....

Update: Did the Chinese Government Influence Voice of America? (Helle Dale, Daily Signal).

WNU Editor: It appears Guo Wengui knows where all the skeletons are hidden .... and the Chinese know that because he is now on China's most wanted .... China’s most wanted man is in the United States (Quartz). But getting him is going to be hard .... he is living a good (and protected) life in the U.S. .... The Chinese Fugitive Living In A $67 Million Manhattan Apartment (Forbes).

Picture Of The Day

Iraqi rapid response forces gather during a battle against Islamic State militants in Mosul. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo gallery .... Endgame in Mosul (Reuters).

North Korean Defector Claims Norht Korea Has 300 To 400 Drones That Can Launch A Biological And Chemical Attack On Seoul

North Korean drones, according to South Korean intelligence estimates. © PHOTO: SPUTNIK, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, PRC DEFENSE MINISTRY, ROK DEFENSE MINISTRY, YOUTUBE/MBCNEWS

Washington Times: North Korea attack drones carrying biological, chemical weapons can strike Seoul within 1 hour

North Korea’s military has 300 to 400 attack drones capable of carrying biological and chemical weapons that could reach the South Korean capital of Seoul within one hour, according to a high-level defector from the isolated regime ruling Pyongyang.

The claim from a 42-year-old former third secretary who fled Kim Jong-un’s regime in 2015 coincides with heightened international concern over a different threat from North Korea: mobile, medium- to long-range missiles that Pyongyang has tested with increasing frequency.

After successfully launching one of the solid-fuel missiles Sunday, North Korean leaders said they are ready to begin deploying and mass-producing the Pukgukson-2 projectiles, which Pyongyang says are capable of reaching major U.S. military bases in Japan.

Read more ....

Update: Defector: DPRK Drones Can Hit Seoul With Biochemical Attack in One Hour (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: These claims have been circulating for the past few months .... North Korea reportedly has a fleet of 1,000 drones it can use for chemical attacks (Business Insider)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sudan Accuses Egypt Of Supplying Weapons To Rebel Forces In Darfur Who Are At War With Khartoum

Sudan Tribune: Sudan’s Bashir accuses Egypt of supporting Darfur rebel attack

May 23, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Tuesday has accused Egypt of supporting the armed movements that recently entered Darfur from Libya and South Sudan.

On Friday, fierce clashes erupted in North and East Darfur between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement - Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the SLM-Transitional Council, a splinter group from the SLM-Abdel Wahid.

The government says the rebels entered into the region from Libya and South Sudan where Khartoum claims they are based, while the armed movements say the government forces attacked their positions in North Darfur state.

Read more ....

More News On Sudan Accusing Egypt Of Supplying Weapons To Rebel Forces in Darfur Who Are At War With Khartoum

Sudan accuses Egypt of backing rebels ahead of foreign minister's trip -- Reuters
Sudan president accuses Egypt of aiding Darfur insurgency -- Middle East Eye
Sudan: Egypt supplying weapons to rebels -- Middle East Monitor
Sudan’s Bashir accuses Egypt of arming Darfur rebels, says convoys destroyed -- Daily Sabah
Sudan discloses confiscation of Egyptian armored vehicles -- Xinhuanet
Sudan: 'More Than 200 Paramilitaries, Rebels Killed in Darfur Fighting' -- All Africa

Is A U.S. Attack On North Korea Imminent?

Sailors aboard the US Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the western Pacific Ocean. Reuters/ U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Handout

Business Insider/Mauldin Economics: GEORGE FRIEDMAN: A US attack on North Korea is imminent

The US is preparing to attack North Korea, according to Geopolitical Futures founder George Friedman — setting the stage for a difficult, messy war with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Speaking Monday to a rapt audience at the 2017 Strategic Investment Conference in Orlando, Friedman said that while it was unlikely the US would take action before President Donald Trump returns home at the weekend, North Korea's actions appeared to have "offered the US no alternative" to a clash.

According to Geopolitical Futures analysis, evidence is mounting that the enmity between the two is escalating to a point where war is inevitable.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I do not see such an attack happening .... even with 2 aircraft carrier strike groups in the region. Any decision to launch a war of choice against North Korea must involve a massive deployment of naval assets (at least 3 aircraft carriers), air assets (B-2 bombers and a large number of bombers and fighters), and ground forces. This deployment will not go unnoticed. Congress will demand a say. U.S. allies will demand a say. And more importantly .... the South Korean and Japanese governments will demand a say. And from this vantage point .... if push comes to shove .... I am willing to bet that none of these "partners" will be willing to go to war.

More Revelations On How The NSA Routinely Violated Privacy Protections During The Obama Administration

John Solomon and Sara Carter, Circa: Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is one of those stories that deserves far more coverage than what it has received. But for the moment the media .... and Congress .... are giving the former Obama administration a pass.

A Transcript Of President Trump's Private Call With Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Has Been Leaked



Jeremy Scahill, Alex Emmons & Ryan Grim, The Intercept: Trump called Rodrigo Duterte to congratulate him on his murderous drug war: "You Are Doing An Amazing Job"

Part 1

It was enormously controversial that President Trump placed a friendly call to Philippine strongman Duterte on April 29. Now, we can read what they said.

IN A PHONE CALL from the White House late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump heaped praise on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, one of the world’s most murderous heads of state, for doing what Trump called an “unbelievable job” in his war on drugs. Trump offered an unqualified endorsement of Duterte’s bloody extermination campaign against suspected drug dealers and users, which has included open calls for extrajudicial murders and promises of pardons and immunity for the killers.

“You are a good man,” Trump told Duterte, according to an official transcript of the April 29 call produced by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and obtained by The Intercept. “Keep up the good work,” Trump told Duterte. “You are doing an amazing job.”

Trump began the call by telling Duterte, “You don’t sleep much, you’re just like me,” before quickly pivoting to the strongman’s drug war.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is not the first time that President Trump has called Philippine President Duterte where he praised him for his war against drugs (see above video). As for the transcript that has been leaked to The Intercept that records their second and more recent call .... it is from a Philippine source .... so its accuracy and validity is open for debate. But I read the transcript (it is here) .... and my read is the following. There are numerous grammatical errors, but President Trump definitely sounds like Trump in this transcript. He opens up by being polite to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte .... and he praises him for his drug war. This was/is definitely a poor choice of words .... Duterte's war against drugs has been condemned by every human rights groups in the world ,,,, and with cause. But President Trump does get Philippine President Duterte to open up on what was probably the main reason why he called him .... North Korea .... What Trump and Duterte said privately about North Korean nuclear threat. In this conversation the tone changes completely, and President Trump is clearly hoping that Duterte will assist him with China to curtail North Korea. In short .... the Philippine drug war is not what President Trump is focused on .... it is North Korea. Now that this transcript has been leaked to the press President Trump is going to be condemned for this .... and rightly so. But dealing with dictators and murderous authoritarian leaders when you have to is always a difficult exercise .... you have to go down to their level to win their trust. But if this transcript is accurate .... I can confidently say that President Trump definitely knows how to flatter these people to win their trust.

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



Peter Apps, Reuters: Europe's rising tide of attacks show diminishing political effect

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Islamic State was quick to claim responsibility for Monday’s suicide attack in Manchester that killed 22 people. As its last territory in Iraq’s second city of Mosul falls to U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and its Syrian capital Raqqa is encircled, the group is increasingly desperate for legitimacy. Attacks on the West are one of its few remaining options.

Although IS claimed the attack as revenge against "Crusaders", neither U.S. nor U.K. authorities have attributed blame to the group.

Whatever the truth, Islamic State faces another, perhaps more serious problem. Its attacks on Europe may be monstrous, but they yield a declining political return.

Read more ....

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

The Manchester Attack Shows How Terrorists Learn -- Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, The Atlantic

Are Europeans getting used to terror attacks? -- Darko Janjevic, DW

The Manchester Arena attack is the appalling price we pay for the freedom of European democracy -- Matthew Norman, The Independent

Enabling Murder: Western politicians worry more about being called “Islamophobic” than they do about stopping jihadist slaughter. -- Bruce Bawer, City Journal

The Manchester murderer may have been a 'lone wolf' but I refuse to believe NOBODY knew ANYTHING. As Trump said, Muslims must Drive. Them. Out. -- Piers Morgan, Daily Mail

Bereft of meat, Trump declarations leave Israel with much to chew on -- Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel

Donald Trump’s reset on Islam -- The Economist

Trump's Saudi embrace, Iran disdain upend Obama's vision: analysts -- AFP

Iran’s President Isn’t a Reformer. He’s an Enabler. -- Ray Takeyh, Politico

What NATO Needs from Trump -- Michael Mandelbaum, Project Syndicate

Lessons From Turkey's Slide Toward Dictatorship -- Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Sorry, Time, but Putin doesn’t work in a cathedral -- Bryan MacDonald, RT

Don’t Let the Original Trump-Russia Question Fade -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Shale Is Just a Scapegoat for Weaker Oil Prices -- Jason Schenker, Bloomberg

Google Is Building the Future, and the New York Times Is Depressed -- John Tamny, RCM

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



BBC: Manchester attack: UK threat level raised to highest

The UK terror threat level has been raised to its highest level of "critical", meaning further attacks may be imminent, Theresa May has said.

The move came after investigators were unable to rule out whether Manchester bombing suspect Salman Abedi acted alone, the prime minister said.

Military personnel will now be deployed to protect key sites.

Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured when a suicide bomber attacked concert-goers at Manchester Arena.

The prime minister also confirmed the government had triggered "Operation Temperer", a long-standing emergency plan to put soldiers into key public locations to support armed police in protecting the public.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Kurdish independence in Iraq likely 'not if but when': U.S. general.

Trump 'to do everything' for Middle East peace. Trump envisions Israeli-Palestinian peace after talks with Abbas, Netanyahu. Trump promotes his goal of Middle East peace, offers no details.

Donald Trump arrives in Bethlehem for talks with Abbas.

UN envoy: Liberation of Mosul from ISIL is 'imminent'.

New bridge reunites Mosul as Iraqi forces gear up for final assault.

Anti-IS coalition trains policemen in Syria's Raqa.

Deadliest month for Syria civilians in US-led strikes: monitor.

In Syria’s devastated twin towns, tears mix with rubble.

Bahrain security forces raid home of Shi'ite spiritual leader.

ASIA

Duterte declares martial law in southern Philippines. Duterte declares martial rule in besieged south Philippines. Philippines President Duterte declares martial law on Mindanao island.

North Korea, if left unchecked, on 'inevitable' path to nuclear ICBM: U.S..

China sees 'no reason' not to talk with N. Korea.

India 'bombs Pakistan army posts' in Kashmir. India hits positions across line of control with Pakistan.

Pro-Islamic State group, army clash in Marawi City, Philippines.

Ten Afghan soldiers killed in Kandahar army base attack. Taliban attack on Afghan army base kills 10 soldiers.

UN Security Council vows new sanctions on North Korea.

More evidence for WannaCry 'link' to North Korean hackers.

South Korea fires 90 warning shots after object flies across border.


Myanmar army rejects UN Rohingya abuse claims.

Park Geun-hye: S Korea trial of impeached president begins. Park Geun-hye: Former South Korean president denies wrongdoing as corruption trial begins.

AFRICA

Somali suicide bomber kills 4 at Puntland checkpoint.

UN questions DR Congo probe of experts' murder.

Two UN peacekeepers killed in Mali: UN.

Sudan accuses Egypt of backing rebels ahead of foreign minister's trip.

Somalia: "Otherwise we'll have to go to war" - Somaliland demands recognition 26 years on.

South Sudanese rebels have rejected President Salva Kiir’s offer for dialogue.

Tunisians mourn protestor as tensions mount.

UN urges Libyan government to shut ‘inhumane’ refugee centres.

DR Congo has world's highest population fleeing conflict.

EUROPE

UK raises threat level to 'critical'. British police name suicide bomber, threat level raised to critical.

Police race to establish if Manchester suicide bomber acted alone.

Dramatic moment armed police swoop on home of bomber Salman Abedi’s brother and arrest man, 23, over ISIS arena massacre as addresses across Manchester are raided.

Manchester police conduct raids after concert bombing. British police raid houses after bombing decried by PM as sickening attack on young.

Manchester bomber identified: Latest in terror investigation.

Trump arrives in Italy to meet Pope Francis, Italian leaders.

Exclusive: Russia refusing to send some rail freight to Latvia - sources.

Greece fails to secure fresh bailout funds. No deal reached over Greece's latest bailout.

NATO's feel-good meeting aims to impress Trump.

Hackers hit Russian bank customers, planned international cyber raids.

War crimes suspect Mladic appeals for release on medical grounds.

Roger Moore, star of 7 James Bond films, dies at 89.

AMERICAS

Trump seeks to slash $3.6 trillion of spending in austere budget.

CIA director alerted FBI to pattern of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates.

Manchester attack: Trump calls attacker a 'loser'.

Trump's $3.6 trillion budget cuts hit his supporters hard.

US intel chief mum on possible Trump pressure on Russia probe.

Pope Francis, Donald Trump to seek common ground at Vatican.

Brazil president retreats from attempts to suspend investigation.

Brazil police arrest presidential aide in World Cup probe.

Venezuela prosecutor decries Maduro plan, unrest worsens.

Hugo Chavez's childhood home burned in Venezuelan violence.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Islamic State claims responsibility for Manchester bombing.

Madrid to Manchester: A chronology of terror in Europe.

US military conducts ground raid in Yemen on AQAP compound. Clashes between US troops, al-Qaida militants in Yemen.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street rises on investor relief after Trump budget.

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting.

Apple and Nokia to 'co-operate' after settling patent row.

German police search Daimler facilities in dieselgate probe.

World's best Go player flummoxed by Google’s ‘godlike’ AlphaGo AI.

The U.S. Coalition Has Dropped 14,192 Bombs On The Islamic State In The First Four Months Of 2017

Smoke rises from an airstrike during a battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in western Mosul. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

USA Today: U.S.-led coalition increases airstrikes by 50% against Islamic State

The U.S.-led coalition has increased the number of bombs dropped on the Islamic State by about 50% this year, reflecting the progress U.S.-backed ground forces have had in pushing militants out of key strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

A total of 14,192 rockets, bombs and other munitions were dropped in the first four months of this year, up from 9,442 during the same period in 2016, according to the latest monthly statistics from U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

The expansion of airstrikes "can be attributed to the increased pace of operations in both Iraq and Syria as we target and destroy ISIS," Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for Air Forces Central Command, said Tuesday, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They say that they have kept civilian casualties to a minimal .... but when you drop over 14,000 bombs  .... with many of them hitting urban areas .... common sense dictates that civilian casualties must be sky-high. Here is an easy prediction .... with the end-game near in the battle for Mosul and with the Raqqa campaign a month or two away .... this bombing campaign is going to escalate even more.

Philippine President Duterte Has Declared Martial Law On The Southern Island Of Mindanao



Reuters: Philippine leader halts Russia trip, imposes martial law on restive island

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cut short a visit to Russia and imposed martial law on the island of Mindanao on Tuesday after a fierce bout of fighting erupted during a raid by security forces at a hideout of Islamic State-linked militants.

Two soldiers and a policeman were killed and 12 wounded amid chaos in Marawi, a predominantly Muslim city of about 200,000 people, where members of the Maute militant group took control of buildings and set fire to a school, a church and a detention facility.

Duterte, a native of Mindanao, canceled a meeting set for Wednesday with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Tass news agency said President Vladimir Putin would see him before his departure Tuesday night, instead of on Thursday as planned.

Read more ....

More News On Philippine President Duterte Declaring Martial Law On The Southern Island Of Mindanao

Duterte declares martial rule in besieged south Philippines -- ABC News/AP
Duterte declares martial law in southern Philippines -- Channel News Asia/AFP
Mindanao, a Philippines Island, Is Placed Under Martial Law -- NYT
Philippines' Duterte Declares Martial Law in Southern Province -- VOA
Duterte declares martial law in Philippine island of Mindanao in response to militant attacks -- L.A. Times
Philippines Declares Martial Law on Southern Island -- WSJ
Duterte declares martial law as Philippine troops clash with gunmen -- DW
Philippines: Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao amid clashes -- CNN
Philippines crisis: Duterte declares martial law on Mindanao in face of ISIS-linked onslaught -- RT
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Declares Martial Rule in Southern Part of Country -- Time
Pro-Islamic State group, army clash in Marawi City, Philippines -- UPI
Philippines soldiers battle Isis-linked gunmen on Marawi city streets -- The Independent
Gov't forces, Maute group clash in Marawi City -- CNN

Director Of U.S. National Intelligence Dan Coats Testifies Before The Senate Armed Services Committee



FOX News: DNI Coats blasts leaks, mum on report Trump sought help disputing collusion claim

The nation’s top intelligence official testified Tuesday that government leaks are hurting national security, while remaining mum on the latest leak-driven report – that President Trump asked him and another top official to swat down claims of collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump looked to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers to push back against the FBI’s Russia probe after former FBI Director James Comey’s March 20 testimony in which he told lawmakers the bureau was investigating the “nature of any links.”

Read more ....

More News On Director Of U.S. National Intelligence Dan Coats Testifying Before The Senate Armed Services Committee

Intel chief Dan Coats dodges Trump-Russia question, says the real threat is leaks -- Washington Examiner
U.S. intel chief declines comment on any Trump request about Russia -- Reuters
U.S. not started assessment on any Trump intel disclosure to Russia: Coats -- Reuters
US intelligence chief: No confirmation ISIS responsible for Manchester attack -- The Hill
National Intel Director Reveals ISIS Attack Plan -- NBC
Top U.S. Intel Official: Retaking Raqqa Will Fail to Hamper ISIS Ambitions Abroad -- Washington Examiner
Russia is trying to interfere with UK general election says top US intelligence official -- Mirror
U.S. Spy Chiefs Differ on Iranian Threat as Trump Rallies Allies -- Bloomberg
Dan Coats: Ukraine, Libya taught other countries to seek nuclear weapons -- Washington Examiner
Cyber security should be a 'top priority,' Coats says -- Washington Post
Who is Dan Coats? -- CNN

Former CIA Director John Brennan's Testifies On Trump-Russia Ties



New York Times: Former C.I.A. Chief Tells of Concern Over Possible Russia Ties to Trump Campaign

• John O. Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., said publicly for the first time Tuesday that he was concerned about possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

• President Trump asked two top intelligence officials to deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia, former officials said. Both of the intelligence officials are testifying before lawmakers on Tuesday.

The former C.I.A. chief speaks publicly about his worries.

Mr. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, said Tuesday that he became concerned last year that the Russian government was trying to influence members of the Trump campaign to act — wittingly or unwittingly — on Moscow’s behalf.

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Mr. Brennan told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: As far as I know it is not against the law to talk to talk to Russians (or anyone else from abroad) .... and if you are involved in U.S. politics .... it is a guarantee that you will meet people from all over the world who want to meet you and to influence your opinion. This is what diplomats, lobbyists, and yes .... spies .... do all the time. So listening to former CIA Director John Brennan telling this committee that Russian officials went out of their way to meet Trump officials does not surprise me .... I would be shocked and surprised if they did not. But that is not why former CIA Director John Brennan showed up at today's committee .... he showed up because this Congressional committee wanted to know if he has tangible evidence and proof that Trump campaign officials and Russian officials colluded to influence the U.S. election. Not surprisingly .... he had nothing to offer but his own opinion and concerns. In short .... he has nothing .... but he is still recommending that the FBI continue their probe and investigation.

More News On Former CIA Director John Brennan's Testimony On Trump-Russia Ties

CIA director warned Russian security service chief about interference in election -- Washington Post
Brennan says he saw intel linking Russia to Trump campaign associates -- FOX News
Ex-CIA chief John Brennan: Russians contacted Trump campaign -- CNN
Former CIA chief says there were contacts between Russia and Trump aides -- CBS
Former CIA director: I was concerned about 'interactions' between Russians and the Trump campaign -- Business Insider
Former CIA Director 'Concerned' About Contacts Between Trump Campaign and Russia -- TIME
Ex-CIA head: Intel showed contacts between Russians and Trump team -- The Hill
Ex-CIA director John Brennan: 'Unresolved questions' about Trump campaign ties to Russia -- USA Today
Former CIA director says he warned Russia against meddling in the 2016 election in Aug. 4 call to Russia intel chief -- Washington Post
Ex-CIA chief Brennan says Trump-Russia inquiry 'well-founded' -- BBC
Former CIA director defends FBI investigation on Russia -- Axios

U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director: North Korea Is On The Path Of Developing The Capability To Launch A Nuclear Strike Against The U.S.


VOA: Top US Intel Official: North Korea on Trajectory to Nuclear-armed Missile

A top American intelligence official has warned that North Korea is on the path of developing the capability of carrying out a nuclear strike against the United States.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart told lawmakers Tuesday on Capitol Hill that although "shortfalls remain," North Korea continues to learn from the missile and nuclear tests it has conducted in recent years.

"If left on its current trajectory, the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland," Stewart said before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Read more ....

Update: North Korea Missile Test Seen as Step to Put U.S. in Range (Bloomberg)

WNU Editor: I am not surprised by Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart's testimony, what I am surprised about is that apparently that this is the Defense Intelligence Agency's first official assessment on North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Where have they been for the past few years?

U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director: No Evidence Russia Is Transferring Weapons Or Money To The Taliban

Members of the Taliban. © Reuters

Reuters: U.S. official: No physical evidence Russia gave weapons to Taliban

The director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said on Tuesday that while there were indications that Russia had offered some support to Taliban militants in Afghanistan, he had not seen physical evidence of a transfer of weapons or money.

"We have seen indication that they offered some level of support but I have not seen real physical evidence of weapons or money being transferred," Marine Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart said at a Senate hearing.

Last month the head of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan said he would not refute reports that Russia was providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency is completely contradicting what the top U.S. General in Afghanistan has been saying for the past month .... Top U.S. General In Afghanistan Is Accusing Russia Of Providing Support To The Taliban (April 15, 2017). More here .... More Claims That Russia Is Providing Military Support To The Afghan Taliban (May 19, 2017). And while the U.S. press (with the exception of Reuters) are avoiding this story, the Russians are all over it .... No Evidence Russia Transfers Weapons, Money to Taliban - US Defense Intelligence (Sputnik). More here .... No proof to back allegations Russia gave weapons to Taliban – US military intel chief (RT).

India Launches Attacks On Pakistani Army Posts In Kashmir

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full and have fought two wars over it (AFP Photo/TAUSEEF MUSTAFA)

Reuters: India says it attacked Pakistan army posts in divided Kashmir

India said on Tuesday it had attacked and damaged Pakistani army posts in Kashmir as it sought to prevent militants infiltrating from the Pakistani side of the disputed region, but Pakistan denied the assertion.

The Indian army said its troops had attacked positions in the Nowshera area, but it did not say when or how it had inflicted the damage. Reuters was unable to verify footage circulated on Indian television showing explosions in a hilly area.

"It is essential that the infiltrations along the Line of Control are controlled," Indian Major General Ashok Narula told reporters, referring to the disputed border between the Pakistani and Indian sides of Kashmir, known as the LoC.

He also accused Pakistan of firing into villages on the Indian side of the frontier.

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More News On Reports That India Has Launched Attacks On Pakistani Army Posts In Kashmir

India fires on Pakistani military posts, army says -- AFP
Pakistani posts damaged in punitive fire assaults across LoC: Army -- Times of India
Massive Fire Assault On Pakistan Posts To Check Infiltration, Says Army, Releasing Video -- NDTV
Pak army says India destroying Pakistani posts along LoC in Naushera ‘false claim’ -- Hindustan Times
Pakistan army denies India destroyed its posts -- Times of India
Pakistan Army dismisses Indian claim of 'assault' on its post -- Economic Times

Terror Attack In Manchester -- News Roundup May 23, 2017



Daily Mail: Concert suicide bomber is named as 'Manchester-born British-Libyan' jihadist Salman Abedi whose 22 victims include girl aged just EIGHT

* At least 22 people killed after an explosion rang out at the end of an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester Arena
* A teenage fan and an eight-year-old primary schoolgirl are among the dead, as well as a 26-year-old man
* Video footage showed thousands fleeing in tears from the venue, many covered in blood, when gig ended
* Horrifying video footage showed petrified children leaping over chairs and barriers as they tried to escape
* Police confirmed the suicide bomber died at the venue after an improvised explosive device was detonated
* Bomber has been named by US officials as Salman Abedi and is said to be a British citizen of Libyan origin
* US security sources say he travelled to the arena by public transport. Another man, 23, has also been arrested
* 23-year-old Grande tweeted: 'Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don't have words'

The suicide bomber who blew himself up at a pop concert killing 22 people including young children has been named as Salman Abedi.

ISIS have claimed responsibility after the terrorist set off a ball bearing bomb at an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 and injuring 119 in the worst terror attack Britain has seen since the 7/7 London bombings.

Eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, 18-year-old Georgina Callander and 26-year-old John Atkinson were among those killed. Of the injured, at least 12 were children were among 59 taken to hospital, with 60 others treated at the scene.

Traumatised witnesses have told how of nuts and bolts tore into young music fans when the bomb was detonated in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena moments after a concert by the US popstar ended.

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LIVE UPDATES

Terror attack in Manchester: Live Coverage -- BBC
Manchester Arena: 19 dead after explosion at Ariana Grande concert – latest updates -- The Guardian
Live Manchester Arena explosion: 19 killed in 'terror attack by suicide bomber' at Ariana Grande concert -- The Telegraph
Live: At least 19 killed in Manchester concert blast -- France 24
Police treating Manchester concert blast as 'terrorist incident' -- ABC News Online
Manchester Arena explosion Live updates -- RT
The Latest: US officials identify bomber as Salman Abedi -- AP

Terror Attack In Manchester -- News Roundup May 23, 2017

Manchester attack: 22 dead and 59 hurt in suicide bombing -- BBC
UK blast: Blood, horror as bomber strikes young crowd -- AP
Manchester attack: Children among 22 dead after Ariana Grande concert explosion -- ABC News Online
UK police: Suicide bomber behind deadly Manchester attack -- Al Jazeera
'He was chanting Islamic prayers loudly in the street': Neighbours of British-born Manchester suicide bomber tell of his 'strange behaviour' in the weeks before deadly attack -- Daily Mail
British police raid houses after bombing decried by PM as sickening attack on young -- Reuters
Dramatic moment armed police swoop to arrest man, 23, in south Manchester over ISIS arena massacre as addresses across the city are raided -- Daily Mail
Manchester police hunt for accomplices; victims young as 8 -- AP
Manchester police conduct raids after concert bombing -- DW
Manchester attack: 23yo man arrested in relation to Ariana Grande concert bombing, police say -- ABC News Online
Islamic State claims responsibility for Manchester bombing -- UPI
ISIS claims responsibility for Manchester Arena terrorist attack -- RT
US Intel Community Cannot Confirm Daesh Responsibility for Manchester Attack -- Sputnik
U.S. hasn't verified Islamic State link to Manchester attack: Coats -- Reuters
Manchester attack: PM condemns 'sickening, cowardly' act -- BBC
UK looking into whether others involved in Manchester attack: PM May -- Reuters
Britain's PM Theresa May condemns 'worst of humanity' -- DW
Donald Trump on Manchester attack: Bomber is 'evil loser' -- BBC
Putin offers condolences to UK over terror attack in Manchester -- TASS
International leaders express sorrow & solidarity after Manchester terrorist bombing -- RT
World leaders condemn Manchester attack -- DW
Reaction to explosion at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester -- AP
Europeans offer support, sympathy for Manchester attack -- Reuters
Reaction to explosion at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester -- AP
Manchester attack: What we know so far -- BBC
Manchester resilient in the face of terrorism -- DW
London police to review security for events after Manchester attack -- Reuters
'This painful memory will live with us all forever': Ariana Grande's drummer reveals the 'surreal' moment the bomb detonated at their Manchester gig in tragic terror attack, leaving 22 dead -- Daily Mail
Manchester attack: Georgina Callander and Saffie Roussos named as victims -- BBC
Manchester bombing victim, 8, was a beautiful little girl -- AP
In pictures: Manchester attack aftermath -- BBC

World News Briefs -- May 23, 2017



Reuters: British police raid houses after bombing decried by PM as sickening attack on young

British Prime Minister Theresa May decried a suicide bomb attack that killed 22 people in a crowded concert hall as a sickening act targeting children and young people, and police raided houses in the city of Manchester looking for accomplices.

Islamic State, now being driven from territories in Syria and Iraq by Western-backed armed forces, claimed the attack as revenge against "Crusaders". But Western experts were skeptical, noting it had offered two accounts of the attack partly contradicting each other and the British police version.

In a statement made outside her Downing Street offices after a meeting with security and intelligence chiefs, May said police believed they knew the identity of the bomber.

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MIDDLE EAST

Trump 'to do everything' for Middle East peace. Trump envisions Israeli-Palestinian peace after talks with Abbas, Netanyahu. Trump promotes his goal of Middle East peace, offers no details.

Donald Trump arrives in Bethlehem for talks with Abbas.

UN envoy: Liberation of Mosul from ISIL is 'imminent'.

New bridge reunites Mosul as Iraqi forces gear up for final assault.

Deadliest month for Syria civilians in US-led strikes: monitor.

In Syria’s devastated twin towns, tears mix with rubble.

Bahrain security forces raid home of Shi'ite spiritual leader.

ASIA

India 'bombs Pakistan army posts' in Kashmir. India hits positions across line of control with Pakistan.

Pro-Islamic State group, army clash in Marawi City, Philippines.

Ten Afghan soldiers killed in Kandahar army base attack. Taliban attack on Afghan army base kills 10 soldiers.

UN Security Council vows new sanctions on North Korea.

More evidence for WannaCry 'link' to North Korean hackers.

South Korea fires 90 warning shots after object flies across border.


Myanmar army rejects UN Rohingya abuse claims.

Park Geun-hye: S Korea trial of impeached president begins. Park Geun-hye: Former South Korean president denies wrongdoing as corruption trial begins.

AFRICA

Two UN peacekeepers killed in Mali: UN.

Sudan accuses Egypt of backing rebels ahead of foreign minister's trip.

Somalia: "Otherwise we'll have to go to war" - Somaliland demands recognition 26 years on.

South Sudanese rebels have rejected President Salva Kiir’s offer for dialogue.

Tunisians mourn protestor as tensions mount.

UN urges Libyan government to shut ‘inhumane’ refugee centres.

DR Congo has world's highest population fleeing conflict.

EUROPE

Manchester police conduct raids after concert bombing. British police raid houses after bombing decried by PM as sickening attack on young.

Manchester bomber identified: Latest in terror investigation.

Greece fails to secure fresh bailout funds. No deal reached over Greece's latest bailout.

NATO's feel-good meeting aims to impress Trump.

Hackers hit Russian bank customers, planned international cyber raids.

War crimes suspect Mladic appeals for release on medical grounds.

Roger Moore, star of 7 James Bond films, dies at 89.

AMERICAS

Trump's $3.6 trillion budget cuts hit his supporters hard.

US intel chief mum on possible Trump pressure on Russia probe.

Pope Francis, Donald Trump to seek common ground at Vatican.

Brazil president retreats from attempts to suspend investigation.

Brazil police arrest presidential aide in World Cup probe.

Venezuela prosecutor decries Maduro plan, unrest worsens.

Hugo Chavez's childhood home burned in Venezuelan violence.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Islamic State claims responsibility for Manchester bombing.

Madrid to Manchester: A chronology of terror in Europe.

US military conducts ground raid in Yemen on AQAP compound.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting.

Apple and Nokia to 'co-operate' after settling patent row.

German police search Daimler facilities in dieselgate probe.

World's best Go player flummoxed by Google’s ‘godlike’ AlphaGo AI.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 23, 2017


Kris Osborn, National Interest: This Is How the U.S. Air Force Plans to Protect the B-21, B-2 and F-35 from Russia and China

The Navy is engineering a new, more powerful, high-tech electronic warfare Next-Generation Jammer technology designed to allow strike aircraft and stealth bombers to destroy enemy targets without being detected by modern surface-to-air missile defenses.

While radar warning receivers are purely defensive technologies, the NGJ is configured with offensive jamming capabilities in support of stealth bombers and strike aircraft such as an F/A-18 Super Hornet or F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 23, 2017

An F-35 pilot explains why Russia and China's counterstealth can't stop him -- Alex Lockie, Business Insider

Exclusive: U.S., Japanese firms collaborating on new missile defense radars - sources -- Reuters

Report: North Korea has developed road-mobile launchers -- UPI

North Korea's hacker army: A look at Hermit Kingdom's 'elite' cyber ops -- FOX News

Indian Fighter Jet Missing in Region Claimed by China -- Bloomberg

Countering China’s Submarine Operations in South Asia -- Abhijit Singh, Lowy Institute

British military reports troop levels remain below stated needs -- UPI

Germany is quietly building a European army under its command -- Foreign Policy

Polish Navy Wants to Obtain 4 Submarines to 'Protect' Baltic Sea -- Sputnik

Nato hit by Turkish veto on Austria partnership -- BBC

Canadian fighter jets will begin patrolling Iceland airspace as part of NATO agreement -- Global News

As Iraqi air force grows more confident, U.S. advisers provide guidance -- Air Force Times

Pentagon To Detail Plans For Arming Syrian Kurds Fighting ISIS -- NPR

A military analyst told Mattis in 2011 that if US troops left Iraq 'all hell's going to break loose'
-- Business Insider

Lockheed Martin secures $28 billion in Saudi contracts -- UPI

Special Operations: Size Matters -- Strategy Page

Lockheed Wants to Get Head Start on Refurbishing F-22’s Stealth Feature -- Sputnik

Boeing awarded $1B contract for Redesigned Kill Vehicle -- UPI

General Dynamics to support Columbia-class submarine development -- UPI

The Army and Marine Corps want big changes for their infantry arsenals — and Congress seems to be on board -- Business Insider

Trump budget fails to live up to ‘historic’ defense promises, analysts say -- Defense News

US: Trump’s budget-plan to boost military spending -- Al Jazeera

Trump’s Defense Spending Boost Faces Fight in Congress -- DoD Buzz

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Set to Answer Lingering Navy Acquisition Questions -- USNI News

Trump budget seeks to slash new Air Force One -- Politico

Why the Future Air Force One Will Be a Boeing 747-8 -- Popular Mechanics

Pentagon: Evans Casualties Are Not Vietnam War Deaths -- Maritime Executive

Why the U.S. Navy Needs to Study Battleships to Save the Aircraft Carrier -- James Holmes, National Interest

Three Things the Army Chief of Staff Wants You to Know -- David Barno and Nora Bensahelmay, War on the Rocks

Guarding the Guards at the CIA -- George Friedman, Geopolitical Futures

What Would a President Pence Mean for America's Military? -- Loren Thompson, RCD

Turkey Has Vetoed NATO's Partnership With Austria In Retaliation For Austria Blocking Its Bid To Join The EU

BBC: Nato hit by Turkish veto on Austria partnership

Turkey is vetoing Nato's co-operation with Austria, blocking the alliance's partnership activities with 41 countries, the BBC understands.

Turkey is in Nato, providing the most military muscle after the US, while Austria is not. But Austria co-operates closely with Nato, and has more than 400 troops serving in Kosovo.

Austria condemned the Turkish veto, calling it "irresponsible".

Turkey is angry with Austria for trying to block its bid to join the EU.

A well-informed source told the BBC that heightened tensions between Turkey and Austria had essentially blocked Nato co-operation with the government in Vienna for the past year. The veto was affecting all the Western alliance's partnership activities, which include several ex-Soviet states.

A Nato meeting is planned for Thursday, at the 28-nation alliance's Brussels headquarters.

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WNU Editor: Turkey is only making Austria's case on why they should not be a part of the EU.