Saturday, March 17, 2018

Russian Exiles In The U.K. Want Better Security

Yulia, 33, and Sergei Skripal, 66, are both fighting for their lives following the poison plot and it has sparked panic among wealthy Russians in Britain

BBC: Russian exiles contacted over safety after tycoon murder

UK police have begun to contact a number of Russian exiles to discuss their safety as they investigate the murder of businessman Nikolai Glushkov.

The 68-year-old's body was discovered at his south-London home on 12 March. A post-mortem examination has found he died from "compression to the neck".

The UK granted Mr Glushkov political asylum in 2010 after he fled Moscow.

The BBC has been told police and the security services have reassessed their view that other exiles are at low risk.

Police say there is no evidence at this stage linking Mr Glushkov's death to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury on 4 March.

Read more ....

Update: Russian exiles are contacted by police to discuss their safety after demanding 'nuclear bunker-style' security and bodyguards at their homes after spy poisoning (Daily Mail)

WNU Editor: For the average Russian immigrant in the U.K. .... they are not worried. For those who have a certain "past in Russia" .... no question about it in my mind .... they are all nervous.

Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats And Has Closed The Consulate General In St. Petersburg

TASS: Russia to expel 23 British diplomats, close consulate general in St. Petersburg

Twenty three diplomats of the British Embassy in Moscow have been declared personae non gratae and will be expelled within a week’s time

MOSCOW, March 17. /TASS/. Twenty three British diplomats have been declared personae non gratae and will be expelled within a week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"On March 17, British Ambassador to Moscow Laurie Bristow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was handed a note saying that in response to provocative actions of the British side and evidence-free accusations against the Russian Federation over the incident in the city of Salisbury on March 4 this year, the Russian side has taken the following retaliatory measures.

Read more ....

More News On Russia Expelling 23 British Diplomats

Moscow expels 23 UK diplomats & shuts British Council in response to ‘provocative moves’ -- RT
Skripal Case: Moscow to Expel 23 UK Diplomats, London Reiterates Accusations -- Sputnik
Russia spy poisoning: 23 UK diplomats expelled from Moscow -- BBC
Russia boots 23 UK diplomats in spy-poisoning tit for tat -- AP
Russia expels 23 British diplomats as crisis over nerve toxin attack deepens -- Reuters
Russia to expel 23 British diplomats, close consulate in escalating row over poisoned ex-spy -- Washington Post
Sergei Skripal: Russia expels 23 UK diplomats as row deepens -- The Guardian
Russia to expel 23 British diplomats in spy-poisoning row -- DW
May says Britain will 'consider our next steps' after Putin's expulsion of 23 UK diplomats from Moscow adding that 'we will never tolerate threat to life on British soil' as tit-for-tat spy poisoning row deepens -- Daily Mail
Russia spy poisoning: What happens when you expel a diplomat? -- BBC

Even Though U.S. Forces In Africa Are Not Seeking Combat, The Combat Seems To Seek Them

A US Special Forces soldier demonstrates how to detain a suspect during Flintlock 2014, a US-led international training mission for African militaries in Diffa, Niger. (Reuters / Joe Penney)

Task & Purpose: US Troops In Africa Aren’t Seeking Combat, But They Keep Finding It Anyway

U.S. troops in Africa may be killing bad guys – and getting shot at in the process – but most of them are not there on a combat mission, Department of Defense officials insist.

In December, a combined force of U.S. and Nigerien troops killed 11 Islamic State fighters during a mission in Niger – just two months after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush by Islamic State fighters elsewhere in the country.

Between 2015 and 2017, U.S. troops have been involved in 11 firefights in West Africa, the New York Times reported on March 14.

Despite these repeated clashes, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said on Thursday the majority of U.S. troops in Africa are taking part in “train and advise” missions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Some of them are there for combat.

There Is No U.S. Plan To Buy Light Attack Aircraft

A pair of AT-6 Wolverine demonstrators. Textron

The War Zone/The Drive: USAF Says It Could Speed Up Buying Light Attack Aircraft, But Doesn't Have an Actual Plan

Senior officials explain ways they could begin buying the planes before 2020, but still have yet to firm up any actual requirements.

As the U.S. Air Force plods along with its light attack aircraft experiment, commonly known as OA-X, the service is reportedly looking for ways to speed up the process and begin buying actual airplanes. At the same time, senior officials have given somewhat contradictory descriptions of the project’s present status and, more importantly, have indicated that there are still no formal requirements in place for this type of aircraft.

On March 14, 2018, during a hearing before the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson told members of Congress that it might be possible to reprogram funds in order to speed up purchases of light attack aircraft. The month before, she had revealed plans to set aside $2.4 billion in spending over the next five years for the program, but this wouldn’t begin until at least the 2020 fiscal year.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They U.S. Air Force makes no secret that thy have lots of plans on what to do with the F-35, F-22, a new bomber, drones, a futue sixth-generation fighter, and nuclear missiles .... all projects that involve tens of billions of dollars. But when it comes to smaller projects that involve small budgets and less glamorous planes .... but planes that actually win the war on the ground. The Pentagon is awol. On a positive note .... at least the US Air Force is admitting that they do not have a plan.

This Is Why China Will Not Dominate The World Economy


Milton Ezrati, National Interest: The Fatal Flaw in China's Plan for Dominating the World Economy

Dependence is baked into China's industrial plans—and will likely fail.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang recently delivered a remarkably revealing speech. Addressing the National People’s Congress for two full hours early in March, he stressed the county’s determination to rely on broad industrial policies as a means to development. The objective, to use Li’s words, is to “speed up work to build China into a leader in manufacturing.” Li doubtless wanted his audience and the world to hear his remarks as a challenge to Western economic power. Many no doubt did. What Li failed to note, and assuredly does not realize, is how his blueprint for progress, rather than ensure Chinese dominance, will instead keep that country indefinitely dependent on the West, doom it to repeat its already well-established pattern of wasteful overbuilding, and ensure that its economy will always remain just a bit behind the West technologically.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I concur with Milton Ezrati's analysis. The Chinese government is depending on an environment where China will continue to export products abroad, enjoy huge trade surpluses, and reinvest these earning to build-up China. But this export-driven policy does have one fundamental flaw .... countries with huge trade deficits will falter and will no longer be capable (or able) to buy the products that China needs to sell in order to continue growing. What happens then .... and specifically .... what happens when countries like the U.S. start to consider imposing tariffs to protect their own industrial base. Telling the U.S. to "take a hike" is not going to cut it .... Don’t push us, China says to Trump’s demand for US$100 billion cut in the Sino-US trade gap (SCMP).

Former General/CIA Director Petraeus Is Asked Whether The Iraq War Was Really Worth It

Gen. David H. Petraeus explains security improvements in Sadr City while giving an aerial tour of Baghdad Monday to Sen.'s Barack Obama, Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel. 21 July 2008 (Wikipedia).

Task & Purpose: We Asked Gen. Petraeus Whether The Iraq War Was Really Worth It. Here’s What He Said.

Fifteen years of war have turned Iraqi cities such as Ramadi, Fallujah, and Mosul into ruins. Iraq remains as divided as ever along sectarian lines, despite the deaths of more than 4,500 U.S. troops and untold numbers of Iraqis.

U.S. troops remain in Iraq to help advise and assist Iraqi forces as they try to prevent ISIS from launching yet another insurgency. Meanwhile, Iran has flooded the country with thousands of proxy fighters, giving it a large say in what the government of Iraq does post-ISIS.

This wasn’t the Iraq that was supposed to emerge when U.S. troops crossed the berm from Kuwait to Iraq in March 2003. Nor is this the Iraq that troops who trounced al Qaeda during the surge bled for. There are few tangible signs of success, and Iraq’s future is still unclear.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: With hindsight the answer to the above question is an easy one .... the answer is no. But apparently some .... like former General Petraeus .... believe it was worth it.

A Fifth Of The Current F-35 Fleet Are Grounded Because Of A Lack Of Spare Parts

U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Caleb Worpel

Popular Mechanics: Lack of Spare Parts Is Keeping F-35s on the Ground

Many of the high-tech fighters are grounded by a lack of new parts, or delays in repairing broken ones.

The logistics system designed to keep the F-35 fleet flying often doesn’t, with more than a fifth of grounded planes sitting idle waiting for spare parts. The result is fewer airplanes available for training—and increasingly, combat—as the system struggles to keep an ever-growing number of jets flying.

Aviation Week & Space Technology reports that parts shortages and bureaucracy are hampering efforts to keep the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the air. In particular,it includes an anecdote about an Air Force major whose helmet had a broken plastic clip, a problem that would have grounded him for two weeks as he waited for a replacement. It was only when the issue was escalated to the Joint Program Office, which runs the F-35 program, that rules were bent to fix the problem.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  It looks like the US Navy is trying to address the problem .... Navy awards Lockheed $481M for F-35 spare parts (UPI).

U.S. General In Syria Confirms US Forces Killed Hundreds Of Russians In A Battle Last Month's In Eastern Syria

The War Zone/The Drive: American General In Syria Confirms US Forces Killed Hundreds Of Russians In Massive Battle

US Army Brigadier General Jonathan Braga also said he was 'absolutely worried' the situation could have escalated in a bigger conflict.

A senior U.S. general appears to have confirmed that hundreds of Russians fought – and died – in a major battle against American forces and their local counterparts in Syria. More importantly, U.S. Army Brigadier General Jonathan Braga, director of operations for the main U.S. military task force in charge of operations in Iraq and Syria, said he feared the situation could have escalated into an all-out conflict with Russia, something we at The War Zone have warned repeatedly is becoming a worryingly realistic possibility.

Braga gave the surprisingly candid account of what had happened to NBC's Richard Engel, who traveled with the general to visit the exact site of the incident in Syria and to see what the U.S. military was doing to improve its defensive posture.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  U.S. Army Brigadier General Jonathan Braga's concerns that this could have easily escalated into an all-out conflict with Russia are valid .... and what is worrisome is that tensions since the battle have now decreased at all.

Don't Expect A Cliffhanger In Russia's Presidential Election

Winemaker Andrey Kulichkov of Sober Bash Winery said he won't be voting in Russia's presidential election, because he believes it is a foregone conclusion. (Pascal Dumont/CBC)

CBC: 'Mr. Putin will be president without my vote': The role of apathy in the Russian election

Don't expect a cliffhanger in Russia's presidential election

With all the accusations and retributions Vladimir Putin has had to deflect from Britain this week over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, one thing the Russian president hasn't had to fret about is his re-election.

The vote, which has seemed like a footnote compared to the espionage-related events of recent days, will happen on Sunday, when approximately 115 million Russians get to cast a ballot in the presidential election.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have seen more than my share of Russian elections .... but this one is generating zero enthusiasm .... even among the pro-Putin crowd (of which they are many). The only question that remains unanswered is what will be the voter turn-out .... my prediction is around 65% to 70% .... and they will achieve this number because older Russians (the above 50 crowd) believe it is their duty to vote even if none of the candidates appeal to them.

Venezuela's Power Grid Is Breaking Down

Reuters: Venezuela begins power rationing as drought causes severe outages

SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela imposed electricity rationing this week in six western states, as the crisis-hit country’s creaky power grid suffered from a drought that has reduced water levels in key reservoirs needed to run hydroelectric power generators.

The four-hour formal outages began on Thursday. But many residents scoffed at the announcement, wryly noting that they have been suffering far more extended blackouts during the last week.

“We have spent 14 hours without electricity today. And yesterday electricity came and went: for six hours we had no power,” said Ligthia Marrero, 50, in the western state of San Cristobal, noting that her fridge had been damaged by the frequent interruptions.

Crumbling infrastructure and lack of investments have hit Venezuela’s power supply for years. Now, the situation has been exacerbated by dwindling rains.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Venezuela's power grid had problems long before this drought hit .... The roots of Venezuela's appalling electricity crisis (VOX).

This Former Soviet-Era Spokesman Says Russia's Involvement In Ex-Spy Poisoning 'Makes No Sense'

ABC News Online: Soviet Union-era spokesman Vladimir Pozner says Russia's link to ex-spy poisoning 'makes no sense'

Soviet Union-era spokesman and journalist Vladimir Pozner says he doubts Russia is behind the poisoning of a former spy because "it makes no sense".

This comes as leaders from the United States, France and Germany have backed British Prime Minister Theresa May in accusing Russia for the nerve agent attack in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been in critical condition in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4.

Mr Pozner said there had been no proof the Russians were responsible, and that Ms May came to the conclusion they were after Moscow failed to meet her ultimatum and explain how the toxin came to be used on British soil.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The following remark by Vladimir Pozner also sums up how I feel about the claims that Russia is behind the poisoning of its former spy ....

.... "To do this, just before the presidential elections in Russia, to do this with the World Cup coming up, it just makes no sense really, it's not a mistake — it's worse, it's stupid, if they did it," he told the ABC.

The sad part is that I have met a lot of these "stupid people" in my life .... and I would not be surprised one bit if a department in the Russian government that is linked to the intelligence community made the decision that by murdering Sergei Skripal, they would be rewarded and praised by Russian President Putin (at least privately). And the facts are the facts. Russian defector. Known Russian nerve agent. A history of Russian defectors being murdered. In short ... if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck .... it is a duck.

As to the above post .... Vladimir Pozner's view on what is the future of Russia is a must read.

10 Greatest Military Operation Names

Israeli troops on a 1976 rescue raid in "7 Days in Entebbe" (Focus Features) 10 Greatest Military Operation Names

"7 Days in Entebbe" (now in theaters) tells the story of Operation Thunderbolt, the daring 1976 rescue of 94 Israeli passengers and 12 crew members from an Air France grounded in Uganda after a hijacking by German PLO sympathizers. Inspired by the movie, we've got a list of the ten greatest operation names in military history.

The Entebbe raid was an enormous story back in 1976, so big that is wasn't totally overshadowed by the fact that the raid took place on the American Bicentennial on July 4, 1976. The popular fascination with the successful raid inspired two better-than-average, all-star TV movies that fall: "Victory at Entebbe" (starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Dreyfuss, Kirk Douglas, Helen Hayes, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Hopkins and Linda Blair) and "Raid on Entebbe" (starring Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Jack Warden, James Woods, Sylvia Sidney and Martin Balsam. Plus Irvin Kershner of "The Empire Strikes Back" directed).

Read more ....

The My Lai Massacre Happened 50 Years Ago

Daily Mail: Vietnam marks 50 years since My Lai massacre: More than 1,000 gather to mark one of the most notorious episodes in U.S. military history where 504 unarmed civilians were gunned down by troops

* Some 504 unarmed civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers on March 16, 1968 in Son My, Quang Ngai Province
* Among those slaughtered in the attack were 182 women - 17 of whom were pregnant - and 173 children
* More than 1,000 people remembered victims of the most notorious episode in modern U.S. military history

Vietnam has marked 50 years since the horrific My Lai massacre in a memorial ceremony at the site of the killings.

On Friday more than 1,000 people gathered to remember the victims of the most notorious episode in modern U.S. military history.

Some 504 unarmed civilians were butchered by American soldiers on March 16, 1968 in Son My, Quang Ngai Province, making it one of the worst recorded U.S. war crimes committed in the 20th century.

Among them were 182 women - 17 of whom were pregnant - and 173 children.

Read more ....

More News On The My Lai Massacre

Vietnam commemorates 50th anniversary of My Lai massacre -- AP
50 years ago, US troops massacred more than 500 civilians in Vietnam during the My Lai massacre -- Business Insider/Reuters
My Lai Massacre Of 1968 Continues To Resonate In America -- NPR
Lessons for the US from My Lai, 50 years after the massacre -- Clare Richardson, DW
‘It was a Rampage’: My Lai Massacre 50 Years Later -- Sputnik
The My Lai Massacre -- Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker

Wang Qishan Is Now China's Second Most Powerful Man

China's Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Qishan, the head of China's anti-corruption watchdog, attends the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Reuters: Xi's trusted 'firefighter' lieutenant becomes China's vice president

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament chose former top graft-buster Wang Qishan, a key ally of President Xi Jinping, as vice president on Saturday, a widely-expected move that nonetheless breaks with convention and underlines Xi’s dominant authority.

Xi was also re-elected president by parliament, with no votes cast against him. The body is packed with party loyalists and there was no chance he would not win the vote.

Wang bowed twice and then walked over to Xi to shake his hand after the vote was announced inside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Only one person voted against Wang out of the 2,970 votes cast.

Read more ....

Update: Xi gets second term with powerful ally as VP (AFP)

WNU Editor:  So after almost six months of speculation, it is now official .... China's Second Most Powerful Man Is Not Retiring (Updated) (January 30, 2018)

Tweets For Today

China Tells President Trump To Not 'Push It' On Trade, While The EU Prepares To Retailiate Against The U.S. If Tariffs Are Imposed

SCMP: Don’t push us, China says to Trump’s demand for US$100 billion cut in the Sino-US trade gap

More talks behind the scenes expected as Beijing and Washington seek to avoid a trade war.

Beijing underscored its determination to protect its interests after Washington demanded a US$100 billion cut in China’s trade surplus with the United States.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Thursday that the two countries should resolve their disputes through talks, since a trade war would not benefit either country.

China would protect its legitimate rights if “something happens we don’t want to see”, he said.

Read more ....

Update: EU starts retaliation process against U.S. tariffs (Reuters).

WNU Editor: Both China and the EU enjoy trade surpluses with the U.S., but they are employing different tactics to counter any possible imposition of U.S. tariffs. The Chinese are employing the tactic of delay in the hope that with time the momentum to implement tariffs will die down .... but I do not think this will succeed. President Trump clearly wants a change, and he wants it soon. As for the EU .... they are employing the tactic of threats .... but I do not think the White House is impressed, especially since the EU has some of the most rigid tariffs and import controls in the world.

Picture Of The Day

US President Donald Trump tosses a hat into the crowd as he arrives to speak at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California. March 13. © REUTERS/ Kevin Lamarque

WNU Editor: The above picture is form this photo-gallery .... This Week in Pictures: March 10-16 (Sputnik).

Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe Has Been Fired Effective Immediately By The Attorney General

Politico: Sessions fires former FBI deputy director McCabe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday, dismissing the longtime bureau veteran who became a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump just days before he was set to retire Sunday.

In a statement, Sessions said that the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility reviewed an inspector general's report about McCabe "and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I did not think Attorney General Sessions had the courage to do it .... even though the Inspector General was blunt in his report that the former Deputy Director had lied to FBI officials, and the FBI disciplinary office had strongly recommended his firing. As to what will come next .... the Inspector General will soon be releasing his report on how the FBI handled a number of critical and sensitive investigations since 2016 .... if this firing of the Deputy Director is any indication, I will not be surprised if we see more firings in the future, and maybe even the appointment of a Special Counsel. On a side note .... FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has been completely silent on this story .... no defense of his Deputy Director .... no comments to the press .... nothing. I guess he knew what was (and is) coming down.

Update: Former FBI Director McCabe has condemned his firing, saying that he had not lied to investigators, and that his firing was politically motivated because he supported former FBI Director Comey's claim that President Trump tried to obstruct the Russian investigation.

Update #2: And just when you think the night is over, there is this bombshell report .... Strzok-Page texts reveal personal relationship between FBI official and judge recused from Flynn case (FOX News).

More News On Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe Being Fired Effective Immediately By The Attorney General

Sessions fires former FBI Deputy Director McCabe -- AP
Attorney General Sessions fires former FBI no. 2 McCabe -- Reuters
Andrew McCabe, a Target of Trump's FBI Scorn, Is Fired Over Candor Questions -- New York Times
FBI's Andrew McCabe is fired a little more than 24 hours before he could retire -- Washington Post
Sessions fires McCabe from FBI -- The Hill
Former FBI deputy director fired just days before retirement to kick in -- ABC News
Sessions fires McCabe before he can retire -- NBC
US Attorney General: Mccabe Firing From FBI Is 'Effective Immediately' -- Sputnik