Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Afghanistan Will Make Or Break U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis



Sandra Erwin, RCD: Afghanistan Strategy a Defining Moment for Mattis

The Afghanistan war strategy that President Trump announced Monday night was remarkable in that it was not a string of angry tweets but the product of a meticulous policy review.

“The process was rigorous,” said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The strategy does not dramatically depart from the status quo. It essentially calls for a continued — but not open-ended — U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Notably, the president leaves it to the discretion of the Pentagon to set troop numbers and decide what targets to pursue in the battlefield.

The president, in a prime-time speech at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in Arlington, Va., credited Mattis for changing his views on the war.

Shortly after his inauguration, Trump directed Mattis to undertake a comprehensive review of all strategic options in Afghanistan and South Asia. But up until a few weeks ago, it appeared the Afghanistan policy was very much in limbo, stalled by internal White House rivalries that pitted the generals against the isolationists.

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said. “After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David, with my Cabinet and generals, to complete our strategy.”

Mattis — who as a general in the Marine Corps was nicknamed “warrior monk” for his blunt talk and disciplined approach — was instrumental in assembling the team that put together a strategy that Trump could live with. The coalition included the State and Treasury Departments, the attorney general, the director of homeland security. Even the director of the Office of Management and Budget was involved so he could weigh in on the cost implications.

Read more ....

WNU editor: My uncle was a senior officer who fought for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. I asked him years ago if the Soviet Union ever had a chance to win the war against the Mujaheddin. He said no .... they had united the country against the Soviet occupation, and with arms continuously flowing to support the rebellion it was only a matter of time before Moscow would call it quits (In his mind the Soviets should have left in 1982 instead of 6 years later). He was still alive when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and he believed in 2002 that with victory over the Taliban now assured, the U.S. should leave the Afghans and the numerous tribes and ethnic groups that make up the country to sort out what needs to be done .... including security arrangements. That (of course) did not happen, and he believed to his last days that George Bush's support for nation building (backed by the UN) and establishing a major permanent US military presence in the country was one of the most "stupidest" policies that he had ever heard .... a policy (nation building) that President Trump fortunately put the rest in his speech last night. Flash forward to today .... if my uncle was alive today I think he would support US Defense Secretary Mattis' approach and strategy to fighting the Afghan war. He would tell me that the Taliban does have a lot of support, but there are also far more Afghans who oppose them than support them ... and they have proven themselves in the past two years that they are willing to fight. It is from this base that the U.S. (with its international allies) and the Afghan government must work together to present a unified and formidable front against the Taliban, and like Iraq, use the resources at hand and this base of support to confront and if not defeat the Taliban, at least severely limit their influence that will force them to the negotiating table. Will this strategy succeed .... I do not know. I am just a blogger who reads and talks to a lot of people who have a personal history with Afghanistan. But I do know that after last night's speech there is now a different tempo in the air, and like Iraq where a renewed focus spearheaded by the Obama administration and accelerated under President Trump and Defense Secretary Mattis has now helped to change the tide in that war, the same may now start to happen in Afghanistan. And as for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' legacy .... if extremism in this part of the world is curtailed to a significant degree .... there is no doubt in my mind that he will be viewed by future historians as one of the greatest military planners and strategists of all time. But should he fail .... into the dustbin of history.

Update
: Why am I not surprised that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Iraq right now .... Mattis: Islamic State Caught in Iraq-syria Military Vise (RCD).

Pope Francis: Migrants' Rights Should Override National Security Concerns

Pope Francis welcomes a group of Syrian refugees after landing at Ciampino airport in Rome following a visit at the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos, April 16, 2016. Filippo Monteforte

Reuters: Pope says migrants' rights should override national security concerns

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis urged political leaders on Monday to defend migrants, saying their safety should take precedence over national security concerns and that they should not be subjected to collective deportations.

His challenge to politicians, made in a comprehensive position paper on migrants and refugees, again appeared to put him at odds with the restrictive policies of a number of governments dealing with growing popular anti-immigrant sentiment.

"Solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return," he said in a message ahead of the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Easy for his to say that. He lives behind a wall and is protected by bodyguards 24/7.

Who’s At The Trigger When The U.S. President Calls A Nuclear Strike

Hezbollah Boasts That It Is Using Drones To Bomb ISIS In Syria



Times of Israel: Hezbollah says it used drones to bomb Islamic State in Syria

Media outlet linked to terror group says unmanned craft struck jihadist targets during fighting along border.

A source in the coalition fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime said Hezbollah has confirmed using attack drones in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

The Lebanese terror group used the drones to hit IS positions in the Qalamoun mountains, near the border with Lebanon, a military media unit linked to the Shiite terror organization said, according to Reuters.

Video said to be from the drone showed unguided bombs being dropped on a site in the mountains.

While the official told the news agency it was the first such confirmation from the Lebanon-based group, a media unit connected to Hezbollah posted video of what it said was a drone dropping bombs near Aleppo last year.

Read more ....

More News On Hezbollah Boasting That It Is Using Drones To Bomb ISIS In Syria

Hezbollah uses drones against IS in Syria- Hezbollah-run media -- Reuters
Hezbollah using weaponised drones against IS in Syria -- AFP
Hezbollah drones attack ISIS positions on the Lebanese border -- Ynetnews
Terror Drones Growing Danger to Israel and IDF: Experts -- Breaking Israel News
As Israel Faces Growing Threat From Enemy Drones, Science Fiction Comes to Life -- Algemeiner

The Next Generation Of Drones Will Revolutionise Warfare

A Perdix swarm captured by high-speed cameras at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. CBS NEWS

CBS 60 Minutes: New generation of drones set to revolutionize warfare

Autonomous drones are being called the biggest thing in military technology since the nuclear bomb. David Martin reports.

One of the biggest revolutions over the past 15 years of war has been the rise of drones -- remotely piloted vehicles that do everything from conduct air strikes to dismantle roadside bombs. Now a new generation of drones is coming. Only this time they are autonomous -- able to operate on their own without humans controlling them from somewhere with a joy stick. Some autonomous machines are run by artificial intelligence which allows them to learn, getting better each time. It's early in the revolution but the potential exists for all missions considered too dangerous or complex for humans to be turned over to autonomous machines that can make decisions faster and go in harm's way without any fear. Think of it as the coming swarm, and if that sounds like the title of a sci-fi mini-series, well, as we first reported earlier this year, it's already a military reality. We saw it with our own eyes and captured it on camera.

Read more ....

WNU editor: I have been predicting this for years .... but I never expected this to be happening now.

Tech Leaders Call On The UN To Ban 'Killer Robots'





DW: 'Autonomous weapons': Tech leaders warn UN of killer robots

With significant advances in robotics and AI, technology leaders have called for safeguards to avoid "destabilizing effects." They warned that "once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close."

More than 100 leaders in the industries of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics signed an open letter on Monday warning of a "third revolution" in warfare, when the UN's Conference of the Conventional Weapons was scheduled to meet to discuss the subject.

"As companies building the technologies in artificial intelligence and robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm," said the letter.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The open letter to the UN calling for the ban of "killer robots" is here .... An Open Letter To The United Nations On Certain Conventional Weapons (Future of Life).

More News On Tech Leaders Calling On The UN To Ban 'Killer Robots'

Tech leaders warn against 'Pandora's box' of robotic weapons -- AFP
Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots -- The Guardian
Elon Musk calls for ban on killer robots before 'weapons of terror' are unleashed -- Washington Post
Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots -- The Guardian
Elon Musk and AI experts urge UN to ban artificial intelligence in weapons -- Los Angeles Times
The world's top artificial intelligence companies are pleading for a ban on killer robots -- Business Insider
Killer robots are coming, and Elon Musk is worried -- Ars Technica
Sorry, Banning 'Killer Robots' Just Isn't Practical -- WIRED

U.S. Secret Service's Budget Under Strain Protecting President Trump And His Family



Washington Post: Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30

The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

If lawmakers don’t lift the cap, about a third of the agency’s agents would be working overtime without being paid, agency officials said.

“The Secret Service estimates that roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime hours in excess of statutory pay caps during calendar year 2017,” Director Randolph “Tex” Alles said in a statement. “To remedy this ongoing and serious problem, the agency has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration, and the Congress over the past several months to find a legislative solution.”

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Secret Service's Budget Being Drained To Protect The President

Exclusive: Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump's frequent travel, large family -- USA Today
Report: Secret Service can't afford to pay agents to protect Trump family -- CBS News
Secret Service can't pay agents for Trump and his family, report says -- CNN
Secret Service: Trump’s Not Our Only Problem -- NBC
Secret Service nearing spending limit for protecting Trump: report -- The Hill
Secret Service says it will run out of budget to protect Trump and his family on September 30 -- The Independent
Secret Service director says agency running out of money protecting Trump -- The Guardian
US Secret Service Says 1,100 Employees Face Unpaid Overtime -- VOA
Secret Service director cleans up comments on Trump travel demands -- Politico
Secret Service having trouble affording Trump family protection – but funding crunch not new -- FOX News

Tweets For Today






For President Trump's Generals, Afghanistan Is Deeply Personal

Sgt. Mallory Vanderschans/US Marine Corps

Peter Bergen, CNN: For Trump's generals, this is personal

(CNN)The seriously deteriorating situation in Afghanistan -- and what to do about it -- is a deeply personal issue for Trump's top national security advisers and generals.

In the months after the 9/11 attacks, Trump's secretary of defense, retired Marine four-star General James Mattis, led the deepest assault from a ship in Marine Corps history near the key Taliban city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

Trump's National Security Adviser Lt. General H.R. McMaster served in Afghanistan, leading an anti-corruption task force there in 2010.

Trump's top military adviser, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, was the commanding general in Afghanistan in 2013.

And General John Kelly, the retired four-star Marine general who is now Trump's chief of staff, lost a son in Afghanistan, 29-year-old Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly who was killed by a landmine there in 2010.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They have the ear of the President .... for now.

Picture Of The Day

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
A jet plane flies by the total solar eclipse in Guernsey, Wyoming U.S. August 21, 2017. Rick Wilking, Reuters

President Trump Sets Out New US Strategy For Afghanistan -- News Roundup



Daily Mail: Trump sets out new US strategy for Afghanistan claiming 'we will win' – but makes no mention of new troop infusion

* Trump announced his Afghanistan plan Monday night address to the nation
* He spoke from Ft. Myer outside Washington
* He had been expected to announce an additional 4,000 troops to help Afghanistan avoid being overrun by Islamist jihadis
* Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accompanied him to Fort Myer
* Trump's Defense Secretary and National Security Advisor argued in favor of the troop surge
* Says his own first instinct was to 'pull out'
* Tough talk includes 'Obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda'
* Blasts Pakistan's 'safe havens' for terrorists
* Trump tweeted in 2012: 'It is time to get out of Afghanistan. We are building roads and schools for people that hate us'
* Vice President Mike Pence called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in anticipation of the speech
* Tillerson phoned top diplomats in Pakistan and India
* America's longest war began in October of 2001

President Donald Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy Monday that relies on features of the current one: Maintaining a lethal force of U.S. troops to battle Taliban and ISIS insurgents and propping up the wobbly Afghan government – while amping up the pressure on Pakistan to stop harboring terrorists in its territory.

After a strategy review finalized with top advisors at Camp David, Trump revealed what he called a 'path forward' and a 'dramatically' different approach in a prime time address Monday night.

He called for victory and use of overwhelming force, but made no specific mention of dispatching thousands of new American troops to boost the effort, saying levels would be based on conditions on the ground.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In anticipation of President Trump's speech, the Taliban send their own message .... Rocket strikes downtown Kabul (Reuters).

President Trump Sets Out New US Strategy For Afghanistan -- News Roundup

Full text: Trump's speech on Afghanistan -- Politico
Trump renews Afghan war commitment, sees no speedy exit -- AP
Trump commits to more troops in Afghanistan, vows 'fight to win' -- Reuters
Trump Sets US Strategy but No 'Blank Check' for Afghan War -- New York Times
Trump announces plan to increase U.S. presence in Afghanistan -- ABC News
‘Attack We Will’: Trump Vows Victory in Afghanistan, Stays Silent on Troop Levels -- NBC
'We Are Not Nation-Building Again,' Trump Says While Unveiling Afghanistan Strategy -- NPR
Trump Offers Open-Ended U.S. Commitment to Shore Up Afghanistan -- Bloomberg
Trump vows 'fight to win' in Afghanistan -- BBC
We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens, says Donald Trump -- Times of India
Trump fires warning at Pakistan -- AFP
In Afghanistan strategy speech Trump slams Pakistan for providing safe havens -- DW
Donald Trump refuses to set deadline for withdrawing from Afghanistan, door open for troop increase -- ABC News Online
Donald Trump says he'll expand US military intervention in Afghanistan -- The Guardian
Trump Says It's 'Possible' for New Afghan Government to Include Taliban Elements -- Sputnik
'We won't talk troop numbers': Trump vows 'clear definition of victory' in Afghanistan (VIDEO) -- RT
In escalating America's longest war, Trump acts against his 'original instinct' -- Washington Post
TRUMP: My instinct was to pull out of Afghanistan — here's why I changed my mind -- Business Insider
Trump faces the grim reality of Afghanistan: No quick path to victory and no clear way out -- Washington Post
Inside the White House: How Trump Took Command to Get the Afghanistan Plan He Wanted -- Mother Jones
Afghanistan speech: Trump rejects 'timetables,' ups pressure on Pakistan, refocuses on 'killing terrorists' -- Fox News
Trump declares US will 'win' in Afghanistan, but gives few details -- CNN
Analysis: Trump vows to win the seemingly unwinnable war -- AP

Monday, August 21, 2017

Four U.S. Navy Accidents In Asia This Year

The McCain's collision with the Alnic MC caused "significant damage" to the destroyer's hull, resulting in flooding in the crew berths, machinery and communications rooms. (MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 2ND CLASS JOSHUA FULTON)

CNN: A spate of US Navy warship accidents in Asia since January

(CNN)Another US Navy warship accident in Asian waters took place early Monday, the fourth this year.

The USS John S. McCain, a Navy guided-missile destroyer, collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday he supports a decision by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to conduct a "broader inquiry" into the recent accidents and "to determine any causal factors." Mattis spoke to reporters while traveling in Jordan.

In the wake of Monday's collision, Richardson is expected to order a rare operational pause across the entire Navy, a US defense official told CNN. The pause is a one-day, safety stand-down that would be done over the course of a couple of weeks and at the discretion of individual commands, the source said.

The following are the details of the four accidents:

Read more ....

Update: Previous Collisions Involving U.S. Navy Vessels (New York Times)

WNU Editor: The Chinese just cannot resist .... China newspaper claims US Navy is 'hazard' in Asian waters (FOX News).

U.S. Navy Orders 'Operational Pause' For The Entire Fleet After Warship Collision





CNN: US Navy plans 1-day operational pause following warship collisions

(CNN)Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson is expected to order a rare operational pause across the entire US Navy, a US defense official told CNN.

The pause is a one-day safety stand-down that would be done over the course of a couple weeks and at the discretion of individual commands, the source said.

The operational pause comes in the wake of the USS John McCain's collision with an oil tanker east of Singapore early Monday -- the fourth accident in Asian waters this year.

CNN has obtained an advance copy of a statement expected to be released by Richardson Monday, in which he says: "I have directed fleet commanders to immediately conduct an operational pause with commands and leaders across the fleet, to ensure we are taking all appropriate immediate measures to enhance the Navy's safe and effective operation around the world."

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Navy Ordering An 'Operational Pause' For The Entire Fleet After Warship Collision

Navy Orders ‘Operational Pause’ After USS John S. McCain Collides With Tanker -- NBC
Top Navy admiral orders fleetwide investigation following latest collision at sea -- Washington Post
After warship collision, Navy calls for review of incidents in the Pacific -- CBS News
Navy chief halts Pacific fleet operations, orders review after collisions -- The Hill
Navy to Pause Operations, Review Collisions, With 10 Missing -- WSJ
US Navy orders 'operational pause' after collision -- BBC
What we know about the latest US Navy collision near Singapore -- ABC News

President Trump's Address To The Nation On Afghanistan (Live)





Lebanese Army Discover Anti-Aircraft Missiles Among A Cache Of Weapons Abandoned By ISIS Militants

Lebanese army soldiers are seen on their military vehicles in the town of Ras Baalbek, Lebanon August 21, 2017. Ali Hashisho, Reuters

Reuters: Lebanese army finds anti-aircraft missiles in Islamic State cache

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's army found anti-aircraft missiles among with a cache of weapons in an area abandoned by Islamic State militants, it said on Monday.

The arms cache also included mortars, medium and heavy machine guns, assault rifles, grenades, anti-tank weapons, anti-personnel mines, improvised explosive devices and ammunition.

On Saturday Lebanon's army began an operation to dislodge Islamic State from its small enclave in the mountains straddling the border with Syria.

The Syrian army and Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group are conducting a simultaneous but separate operation against the same pocket from inside Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For those who are responsible for airline security .... this must send a chill up their spines.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 21, 2017

Beawiharta Beawiharta / Reuters

Marina Koren, The Atlantic: The King of Totality

A veteran astronomer describes more than 60 years’ worth of memories from inside the moon’s shadow.

Donald Liebenberg remembers clearly his first total solar eclipse.

It was 1954, and he was a physics major at the University of Wisconsin. Liebenberg and his professors drove a station wagon up a hill in a small town south of Lake Superior and set up their instruments under a clear morning sky. Black flies buzzed around them in the June heat. The moon began its slow creep across the sun, inching further and further until it blocked the light and cast its shadow on Earth. For about a minute, their little spot on the globe was blanketed in darkness.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- August 21, 2017

Learning From the First Eclipse Media Event -- Justin Fox, Bloomberg

We’ve been predicting eclipses for over 2000 years. Here’s how. -- Mary Beth Griggs, Popular Science

Looking Past Afghanistan, NATO Sees an Urban Battlefield -- John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes

On Afghanistan, Trump seeks answer to question: Why are we still there? -- Byron York, Washington Examiner

How Trump can win in Afghanistan -- David Andelman, CNN

Does Trump need permission from South Korea to attack the North? -- Jamie McIntyre, Washington Examiner

Time for nuclear balancing act? Calls grow in Seoul to deploy tactical atomic weapons to counter NK nuclear threats -- Yeo Jun-suk, Korea Herald

Southeast Asia Grapples with Extremism Resurgence -- John Watts, Cipher Brief

Anger simmers in Philippines over Duterte's drug war -- Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

China’s plans to rule the seas hit trouble in Pakistan -- Saim Saeed, Politico

Dance with the Devil: Europe finances Libyan militias to curb migration -- Leanne Tory-Murphy, African Arguments

Is a U.S.-Russia Reset Possible? -- Eric Edelman, National Interest

Why Putin Dare Not Celebrate the Bolshevik Revolution -- Konstantin Von Eggert, Newsweek

The Untapped Geopolitical Power of U.S. Natural Gas -- Neil Bhatiya & Elizabeth Rosenberg, National Inteerst

Too Much Power Lies in Tech Companies' Hands -- Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg

The United States and 250 Years of Irregular War -- David E. Johnson, CSBA

World News Briefs -- August 21, 2017 (Evening Edition)

U.S. President Donald Trump watched the solar eclipse with first Lady Melania Trump and son Barron from the Truman Balcony at the White House

Daily Mail: Trumps on the White House balcony join the millions watching eclipse as totality sweeps eastwards across the US in celestial event-of-a-lifetime

* Eclipse has finished its trajectory, traveling from Oregon to South Carolin some 90 minutes later
* The deepest part of the shadow, or umbra, cast by the moon fell over a 70-mile-wide, 2,500-mile-long 'path of totality' traversing 14 states
* First Family gathered on the White House balcony to watch the first total solar eclipse to sweep across America from coast to coast in 99 years
* Dozen of celebrities including the Kardashian clan, Ellen DeGeneres and Serena Williams also watched
* Experts advised people to wear proper protective eyewear or risk lasting blind spots during the eclipse
* Many in the Midwest missed the eclipse as rain, cloud and even fog is predicted over several states

The First Family gathered on the White House balcony to watch the first total solar eclipse to sweep across America in 99 years.

President Donald Trump was joined on the terrace by wife Melania, his children Barron and Ivanka, and cabinet members including Jeff Sessions, for the once-in-a-lifetime event. At one point he even risked blindness by peeking at the sun without eclipse viewer glasses before an aide instructed him to put them on.

Darkness swept across the US on Monday as the eclipse traveled from coast to coast, ending just before 3pm EDT in South Carolina.

The celestial event began in Oregon at just after 9am PDT, and by 10.20am, the sun was completely blocked out except for a halo-like solar corona plunging the area into twilight. Over the next 90 minutes, the total eclipse traveled through 14 different states until ending in South Carolina. The other 36 states were all treated to a partial solar eclipse, where the moon covers only a part of the sun.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi forces advance on Isis-held city of Tal Afar. Iraq: Islamic State militants warned 'surrender or die' as battle to take back Tal Afar begins. IS conflict: Iraq army makes advances on Tal Afar.

US-led strikes killed 27 civilians Sunday in Syria's Raqa: monitor.

Russia hails progress in Syria conflict, ups bombing runs.

Syria war: Russian jets 'destroy IS convoy near Deir al-Zour'. Russian air force destroys 200+ ISIS terrorists heading for Deir ez-Zor, Syria – MoD.

Analysis: The Syrian regime’s offensive towards Deir Ezzor.

Turkey, Iran step up coordination in Syria.

Suleimani: Iran has 'upper hand' in region but is not a source of crisis.

3 Lebanese soldiers killed during offensive against IS.

Qatar criticizes Saudi over haj planes offer.

ASIA

Trump likely to approve modest troop increase for Afghanistan.

Ten sailors missing after U.S. warship, tanker collide near Singapore.

Pyongyang calls U.S.-South Korean war games a step to nuclear war.

South Korea and US launch Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills.

Joint US-South Korea military exercises not meant to raise tensions, says Moon.

South Koreans split over US missile shield.

China's top diplomat issued stern warning to North Korea, Seoul says.

North Korea warns Australia over joint military exercises with US and South Korea.

War with India won’t give China any clear gain, only cause casualties, assesses govt. India says China stand-off will end 'soon'.

Nine killed in Philippines militant attack: police.

Bangladesh sentences 10 Islamists to death over plot to kill PM Sheikh Hasina.

China-Taiwan tensions show at Universiade sports event.

Philippines' Duterte says there could have been abuses in war on drugs.


AFRICA

Exclusive: Armed group stopping migrant boats leaving Libya.

Thirteen dead in fresh C. Africa clashes.

Aid workers face unique crisis in South Sudan war, says ICRC.

Death toll in DR Congo landslide climbs to 140.

Hospital officals: Nearly 500 dead in Sierra Leone mudslides.

Somalia forces capture key al-Shabab town of Bariire.

President Buhari in plea for Nigerian unity. Muhammadu Buhari addresses nation on return from UK.

Grace Mugabe gets diplomatic immunity, returns home to Zimbabwe pursued by assault allegation.

EUROPE

Serbia recalls embassy staff from Macedonia.

Spanish police shoot dead suspected Barcelona attacker.

Police extend hunt for Barcelona attack suspect across Europe. Barcelona search for van attack suspect intensifies, widens.

Spanish town struggles to reconcile locals as extremist cell.

US Embassy in Russia suspends issuing nonimmigrant visas.

Moscow to further examine US decision to limit issuing visas to Russians.

Marseille crash: one dead after car driven into bus shelters.

Moroccan suspect named over Finland stabbings in Turku.

German nationalists try reviving migration as election topic.

Migrants in Rome evicted from office block as UN voices concern.

Britain's Big Ben falls silent for four years of renovation work.

AMERICAS

Americans cheer as rare total solar eclipse marches across country.

Trump will address path forward on Afghanistan.

Most Americans oppose threatening North Korea with military action: CBS News Poll.

British spy behind Trump-Russia dossier could be forced to talk after US court ruling.

Venezuela prepares world summit to defend new legislative body.

President Maduro strips Venezuela’s parliament of power.

NAFTA partners wrap up first round of renegotiation talks.

Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau take part in Montreal Pride Parade.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Pakistani army says it has acted against militants including Haqqani network.

Lebanon says it helped foil plot to down plane in Australia.

Suspect raising money for IS granted bail in Pakistan.

Soft targets and tourist terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street flat as North Korea worries remain; energy a drag.

US business economists fret over Trump policy agenda.

France’s Total buying Maersk Oil for $7.45 billion.

Most expensive British car ever sold goes for $22.5 million.

Syrian War News Updates -- August 21, 2017

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Long War Journal: Analysis: The Syrian regime’s offensive towards Deir Ezzor

The Syrian regime is conducting a multi-axis offensive against the Islamic State’s stronghold in the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria. Russian support, including the negotiation of safe zones and air support, has been essential to the ongoing offensive. The Assad government, along with Iranian-backed fighters and its Russian allies, are advancing from both the west and the north, as depicted in the map above.

A victory in Deir Ezzor would be a landmark event for the regime, as its forces have been besieged by the Islamic State’s jihadists at the Deir Ezzor Airbase and the 137th Mechanized Army Base since July 2014. In January, the self-declared caliphate launched its own offensive in the city of Deir Ezzor, effectively cutting the Assad regime’s positions in two.

Read more ....

Syrian War News Updates -- August 21, 2017

Syria war: Russian jets 'destroy IS convoy near Deir al-Zour' -- BBC
Russian air force destroys 200+ ISIS terrorists heading for Deir ez-Zor, Syria – MoD -- RT
Russian jets 'destroy ISIL column' in Syria -- Euronews
Russian air strike kills 200 Daesh militants in Deir Ez-Zor -- Middle East Monitor
Russian air strikes kill more than 200 Isis militants in Syria, claims Moscow -- International Business Times
ISIS terrorists pulling strongest units to Deir ez-Zor for last stand – Russian MoD -- RT
US-led strikes killed 27 civilians Sunday in Syria's Raqa: monitor -- AFP
Over 30 Daesh Militants Killed in Clashes With SDF in Raqqa - Reports -- Sputnik
Raqqa Families Make Daring Escapes From Islamic State Stronghold -- US News and World Report
Central Syria Almost Liberated From Terrorists - Russian General Staff -- Sputnik International
Syria's al-Assad praises Russia, Iran for help; rocket kills 5 at fair -- UPI
Syria: Bashar al-Assad rejects security cooperation with west -- The Guardian/AP
Turkey, Iran step up coordination in Syria -- Al-Monitor
In Blow to Iran, Egypt Becomes Surprise New Player in Syria -- Haaretz
Pentagon distances itself from allies of the U.S. partner force battling ISIS -- Military Times

Iraqi Forces Attack The Islamic State Stronghold Of Tal Afar





The Guardian: Iraqi forces advance on Isis-held city of Tal Afar

Military leaders are confident of recapturing one of the last remaining Islamic State strongholds in the country but humanitarian groups fear for civilians

Iraqi forces have pushed into the outskirts of one of the last Islamic State-held areas in the country – the north-western city of Tal Afar.

The operation comes just over a month after Mosul was retaken from the terror group, ending a three-year rule over Iraq’s second city and confining the extremists to ever-shrinking pockets of the country, stretching to the Syrian border.

Up to 1,500 Isis members are believed to remain in Tal Afar, which has been besieged by Iraqi and Kurdish forces for much of the past year. The extremists’ ranks are thought to contain large numbers of foreign fighters, some of whom had fled the fight for Mosul. Others are thought to have spent many months digging in for the expected assault.

Read more ....

More News On Iraqi Forces Attacking The Islamic State Stronghold Of Tal Afar

Iraqi forces close in on IS-held town west of Mosul -- ABC News/AP
Iraqi forces close in on Daesh-held Tal Afar -- Gulf News/AFP
IS conflict: Iraq army makes advances on Tal Afar -- BBC
Iraq: Islamic State militants warned 'surrender or die' as battle to take back Tal Afar begins -- ABC News Online
Iraqi Forces Attack Tal Afar, Make Gains -- Asharq Al-awsat
Foreign IS members killed as troops target group’s locations in Tal Afar -- Iraqi News
Iraqi Army, Militias Establish Control Over Mosul-Tal Afar Road -- Sputnik
Thousands flee as Iraqi forces advance on ISIL-held Tal Afar – UN -- UN News Centre
The battle for Tal Afar and why Shiite militias are involved -- Florian Neuhof, The National

Eclipse Of The Sun (Live Feeds)







Russia Names Anatoly Antonov As Its New U.S. Ambassador



The Guardian: Putin names hardliner Anatoly Antonov as Russia's US ambassador

Deputy foreign minister, seen as a tough negotiator, to replace Sergei Kislyak as Moscow-Washington ties continue to strain

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has named the deputy foreign minister, Anatoly Antonov, as the country’s new ambassador to the US, replacing Sergei Kislyak.

“By presidential decree, Anatoly Ivanovich Antonov is appointed Russian ambassador to the United States,” the Kremlin announced on Monday.

Relations between Moscow and Washington are at their lowest since the end of the cold war, driven by accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.

Kislyak has been at the centre of a political storm over his meetings with senior campaign aides to Donald Trump during the presidential race.

Antonov, 62, has served as a deputy foreign minister since December. Previously he served as a deputy defence minister.

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More News On Russia Naming Anatoly Antonov As Its New U.S. Ambassador

Russia Names Sanctioned Diplomat Antonov as New Ambassador to U.S. -- Bloomberg
Vladimir Putin appoints new ambassador to the United States -- ABC News
Putin Names New Ambassador to US -- VOA
Putin appoints new Russian ambassador to U.S. -- PBS
Putin Names EU-Sanctioned Diplomat Antonov Ambassador To U.S. -- RFE
Putin names new ambassador to US after Kislyak's departure -- The Hill

U.S. Temporarily Suspends Russia Non-Immigrant Visas



NBC: U.S. Suspends Russia Nonimmigrant Visas in Tit-For-Tat Fallout

The United States said Monday it has been forced to suspend nonimmigrant visas in Russia because President Vladimir Putin ordered it to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff.

The U.S. Mission to Russia said it was forced to cancel all appointments in Moscow between Wednesday and Sept. 1 because of reduced staffing levels.

Outside of the Russian capital, at the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok, visa operations would remain suspended indefinitely, the U.S. Mission said in a statement.

In the capital, the mission said "visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale."

The decision would come as a blow to Russian tourists, nearly 250,000 of whom visited the U.S. last year, according to The Associated Press.

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More News On The U.S. Temporarily Suspending Russia Non-Immigrant Visas

U.S. Sharply Curtails Visa Services in Russia -- NYT
US halts non-immigrant visas in Russia as diplomatic standoff deepens -- Washington Post
U.S. scales back Russian visa operations after Putin cuts embassy staff -- Reuters
U.S. Institutes Visa Restrictions At Its Missions Across Russia, Blames Kremlin Order -- RFE
US Embassy in Russia suspends issuing nonimmigrant visas -- ABC News/AP
U.S. Cuts Visa Service After Russia Orders Staff Reduced -- Bloomberg
U.S. Embassy in Russia temporarily suspends nonimmigrant visas -- Washington Times
US embassy in Russia temporarily halts issue of non-immigrant visas -- RT
Moscow Calls U.S. Visa Move Attempt to Stir up Unrest in Russia -- US News and World Report/Reuters
Lavrov: Russia Won’t Follow ‘Stupid’ U.S. Example After Visa Freeze -- Moscow Times
Russian Citizens Could Wait Nearly 3 Months for US Visa Appointments - DoS -- Sputnik

Who's At Fault When Ships Collide?

PHOTO: The USS John McCain was on its way to Singapore for a routine port visit. (Reuters: US Navy, file)

The Alnic MC tanker, pictured here outside Singapore, collided with the USS McCain in the early hours of the morning

ABC News Online: USS John McCain Destroyer: Who's At Fault When Ships Collide?

A collision between US Navy warship USS John McCain and oil tanker Alnic MC, that left 10 sailors missing in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca, begs the question: whose job is it to stop ships crashing into each other?

The rules for ships at sea are known as the COLREGS or the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

They apply to all vessels upon the high sea, whether they be sailing yachts, large ships, tankers or Naval ships.

They also apply to inshore waters, such as Sydney Harbour, but local authorities can add their own regulations as well.

The responsibility for complying with the COLREGS falls entirely to the captains of each vessel. There is no overall director of sea traffic — nothing like air traffic control for planes, or traffic cops for the road.

The most important rule is known as Rule 5, which says to avoid collisions:

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WNU Editor: Either way .... right or wrong .... for the captain of the USS John McCain this will be his last command.

President Trump To Address The Nation Monday Night On Afghanistan



New York Times: Trump Settles on Afghan Strategy Expected to Raise Troop Levels

AMMAN, Jordan — President Trump, who has been accused by lawmakers of dragging his feet on Afghanistan, has settled on a new strategy to carry on the nearly 16-year-old conflict there, administration officials said Sunday. The move, following a detailed review, is likely to open the door to the deployment of several thousand troops.

“The president has made a decision,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on an overnight flight that arrived in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday. “I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous.”

Mr. Mattis declined to say what steps the president had ordered, including on troop levels, saying that the president wanted to outline the new approach himself.

The defense secretary received the authority in June to send as many as 3,900 troops to Afghanistan so that the United States military could expand its efforts to advise Afghan forces and support them with American artillery and airpower. But Mr. Mattis has refrained from building up the American force there until the Trump administration agreed on a broader strategy.

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More News On President Trump Addressing The Nation Monday Night On Afghanistan

Trump to present vision for U.S. strategy in Afghanistan war -- Reuters
Trump will address path forward on Afghanistan -- AP
Trump to address nation on new Afghan strategy -- AFP
Trump To Explain Path Forward On Afghanistan -- RFE
Donald Trump to announce new strategy on Afghanistan in major speech -- The Guardian
Trump to unveil Afghanistan strategy after struggling with decision -- Politico
Trump to address nation Monday on Afghan strategy -- UPI
Trump to address nation on new Afghan strategy -- Al Jazeera
After a Punishing Week, Trump Hopes to Redirect Attention With an Address on Afghanistan -- Darlene Superville, AP
Today: Afghanistan Is Now Trump's War -- Los Angeles Times
Trump to ask Americans to trust him on Afghanistan -- Stephen Collinson, CNN

World News Briefs -- August 21, 2017





Daily Mail: Eclipse mania! Millions of Americans sit in some of the 'worst traffic jams in history', flock to Burning Man-style festivals and fill camp grounds at 21 national parks ahead of TODAY'S once-in-a-lifetime celestial event

* The eclipse begins its cross-country trajectory over the Pacific Coast of Oregon late Monday morning and will reach South Carolina's Atlantic shore some 90 minutes later
* On Monday, the deepest part of the shadow, or umbra, cast by the moon will fall over a 70-mile-wide, 2,500-mile-long 'path of totality' traversing 14 states
* Officials in Oregon and other states are warning drivers the eclipse could cause the worst traffic jams
* Experts advise people to wear proper protective eyewear or risk lasting blind spots during the eclipse
* Monday's event will be the first total solar eclipse spanning the entire continental United States since 1918
* It is also the first total solar eclipse visible anywhere in the Lower 48 states in 38 years

Twilight will fall at midday on Monday, stars will glimmer and birds will roost in an eerie stillness as millions of Americans and visitors witness the first total solar eclipse to traverse the United States from coast to coast in 99 years.

The sight of the moon's shadow passing directly in front of the sun, blotting out all but the halo-like solar corona, may draw the largest live audience for a celestial event in human history. When those watching via broadcast and online media are factored into the mix, the spectacle will likely smash records.

'It will certainly be the most observed total eclipse in history,' astronomer Rick Fienberg of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) said last week.

The eclipse begins its cross-country trajectory over the Pacific Coast of Oregon in late morning. It will reach South Carolina's Atlantic shore some 90 minutes later.

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MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi forces advance on Isis-held city of Tal Afar. Iraq: Islamic State militants warned 'surrender or die' as battle to take back Tal Afar begins. IS conflict: Iraq army makes advances on Tal Afar.

US-led strikes killed 27 civilians Sunday in Syria's Raqa: monitor.

Syria war: Russian jets 'destroy IS convoy near Deir al-Zour'. Russian air force destroys 200+ ISIS terrorists heading for Deir ez-Zor, Syria – MoD.

Analysis: The Syrian regime’s offensive towards Deir Ezzor.

Turkey, Iran step up coordination in Syria.

Suleimani: Iran has 'upper hand' in region but is not a source of crisis.

3 Lebanese soldiers killed during offensive against IS.

ASIA

South Korea and US launch Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills.

Joint US-South Korea military exercises not meant to raise tensions, says Moon.

South Koreans split over US missile shield.

China's top diplomat issued stern warning to North Korea, Seoul says.

North Korea warns Australia over joint military exercises with US and South Korea.

War with India won’t give China any clear gain, only cause casualties, assesses govt. India says China stand-off will end 'soon'.

Nine killed in Philippines militant attack: police.

Bangladesh sentences 10 Islamists to death over plot to kill PM Sheikh Hasina.

China-Taiwan tensions show at Universiade sports event.

AFRICA

Thirteen dead in fresh C. Africa clashes.

Aid workers face unique crisis in South Sudan war, says ICRC.

Death toll in DR Congo landslide climbs to 140.

Hospital officals: Nearly 500 dead in Sierra Leone mudslides.

Somalia forces capture key al-Shabab town of Bariire.

President Buhari in plea for Nigerian unity. Muhammadu Buhari addresses nation on return from UK.

Grace Mugabe gets diplomatic immunity, returns home to Zimbabwe pursued by assault allegation.

EUROPE

Police extend hunt for Barcelona attack suspect across Europe. Barcelona search for van attack suspect intensifies, widens.

Spanish town struggles to reconcile locals as extremist cell.

US Embassy in Russia suspends issuing nonimmigrant visas.

Moscow to further examine US decision to limit issuing visas to Russians.

Marseille crash: one dead after car driven into bus shelters.

Moroccan suspect named over Finland stabbings in Turku.

German nationalists try reviving migration as election topic.

Migrants in Rome evicted from office block as UN voices concern.

AMERICAS

Eclipse eve: Millions converge across US to see sun go dark. Millions pour into US towns in path of total eclipse.

Trump will address path forward on Afghanistan.

Most Americans oppose threatening North Korea with military action: CBS News Poll.

British spy behind Trump-Russia dossier could be forced to talk after US court ruling.

President Maduro strips Venezuela’s parliament of power.

NAFTA partners wrap up first round of renegotiation talks.

Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau take part in Montreal Pride Parade.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Lebanon says it helped foil plot to down plane in Australia.

Suspect raising money for IS granted bail in Pakistan.

Soft targets and tourist terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US business economists fret over Trump policy agenda.

France’s Total buying Maersk Oil for $7.45 billion.

Most expensive British car ever sold goes for $22.5 million.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- August 21, 2017



RFE: US and South Korean Troops Have Started Annual Joint Military Drills Amid a Tense North Korea Standoff

U.S. and South Korean troops have begun their annual military exercises amid continued angry words from North Korea.

The joint maneuvers, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, started early on August 21 and will run through August 31. The drills will involve computer simulations designed to prepare for war with nuclear-capable North Korea.

The official North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun on August 20 assailed the exercises, calling them an "expression of enmity" and saying they could trigger the "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war."

Some 17,500 U.S. service members and 50,000 South Korean soldiers are participating in the exercises, along with 3,000 troops from Australia, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

Officials said there will be no field training, such as live-fire exercises or tank maneuvers.

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Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- August 21, 2017

US and S. Korean troops start drills amid N. Korea standoff -- AP

U.S., South Korea begin computer-simulated drills amid North Korea tension -- Reuters

US-South joint drills begin amid North Korea tensions -- AFP

South Korean President Moon reaffirms commitment to military reform, reinforcement -- Yonhap

China urges halt to US-S.Korea military drills -- AFP

F-35 fighter jets to surround North Korea -- UPI

James Mattis: Reduction in U.S. troops not North Korea related -- UPI

Japan faces obstacles to deploying new missile defenses -- Nikkei Asian Rview

Trump to present vision for U.S. strategy in Afghanistan war -- Reuters

President Trump to present new Afghanistan, Asia strategy Monday night -- Defense News

US military leaders await Trump decision on Afghan mission -- Military Times/AP

Marine commander in Afghanistan: 'We cannot allow the Taliban to win' -- Marine Times

US Centcom chief stresses sustained ties with Pakistan -- DAWN

Russia's Next Gen Subs Too Stealthy for Enemy's Radars -- Sputnik

How a humanitarian naval mission is boosting China’s global ambitions -- SCMP

Did China Hack the Seventh Fleet? -- RCD

Sweden increases military spending and reintroduces conscription as Russia tensions mount -- The Independent

Europe cannot rely on US support to defend itself – EU Commission chief -- RT

ANALYSIS: Canada's DND uncertain how best to defend satellites -- CBC

Royal Canadian Navy awards Thales support contract for up to 35 years -- UPI

Predator crashes in Turkey; investigation underway -- Air Force Times

Asian Pivot: US Military To Bolster Future Base in Guam -- Sputnik

Trump elevates Cyber Command; split with NSA still an option -- Defense News

Escape From Berthing 2: The Navy’s Dramatic Timeline Of The USS Fitzgerald’s Fatal Collision -- Task & Purpose

Navy Extends, Upgrades Sub-Launched Nuclear Weapons to 2080 -- Scout Warrior

The Navy Is Getting A ‘Game-Ghanging’ Upgrade That Could Turn The Tables On China And Russia -- Task & Purpose/Business Insider

New Navy Rule Will Allow Commanders To Reverse E-4 Demotions -- Task & Purpose

Top Pentagon posts 74 percent vacant as Congress returns -- Defense News

Mattis: Continuing resolution ‘about as unwise as can be’ -- Defense News

Elon Musk, world tech leaders, call for ban on killer robots -- UPI

General Atomics: Export restrictions help China grow its drone tech -- Defense News

Raytheon marks milestone for its Tomahawk, looks to the future -- Defense News

Navy anticipates housing crunch in San Diego region -- Navy Times/AP

A family's anguish: How did Raheel Siddiqui lose his life at Marines boot camp? -- USA Today

Poll results: 79 percent of Army Times readers support Confederate post names -- Army Times