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Friday, March 15, 2019

Latest World News, World News, Current Affairs, Daily Current Affairs

Latest World News, World News, Current Affairs, Daily Current Affairs


First Missile Live Firing by Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 11:00 PM PDT



Defense Blog: Norwegian F-35 successfully completed first AMRAAM missile tests

Early last week, the Norwegian F-35A fighter aircraft assigned to 332 Squadron of the Royal Norwegian Air Force conducted the first practical launches of an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) air-to-air missile at the Halten proving ground northwest of the Orland air base.

The Norwegian Ministry of Defence selected the F-35A to fulfil its Future Combat Aircraft (FCA) requirement in November 2008.

The first Norwegian F-35s arrived in-country for permanent basing at Orland Air Base in November 2017.

Currently, the Norwegian government has funded the procurement of 40 of 52 F-35s, and subsequent authorization will occur on an annual basis.

Read more ....

Update: Watch Norwegian F-35 Stealth Jet Test Fire First Air-to-Air Missile (Zero Hedge)

WNU Editor: I am surprised that Norway has funded the procurement of 40 of 52 F-35s. For a small country, they are clearly dedicated to spend the money necessary to have this fighter jet.

Tweets For Today

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 10:30 PM PDT











Only Seven NATO Countries Hit Their Spending Targets In 2018

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 10:00 PM PDT

After 20 years in NATO, Poland is a model member

DW: NATO edges towards Trump's spending demands, Germany lags

While seven NATO countries hit spending targets in 2018, German outlay lagged. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg was satisfied spending was moving in "the right direction," but will it be enough for US President Donald Trump?

European NATO allies increased defense expenditure in 2018, with big rises in the Baltics, Poland and the Netherlands, according to new figures.

But while Canadian spending fell, Germany's lagged and only six of NATOs 30 members, excluding the US, met the spending target demanded by President Donald Trump.

Germany's spending actually rose last year but remained stable relative to growing gross domestic product (GDP). Berlin has previously attracted the brunt of Trump's claims of freeloading by European NATO members.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Only six of NATOs 30 members, excluding the US, met the spending target demanded by President Donald Trump. Nothing to brag about in my book.

Picture Of The Day

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 09:30 PM PDT

People detained by security forces lie on the street after looting broke out during an ongoing blackout in Caracas, Venezuela, March 10. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Photos of the week (Reuters).

Terror Attack In New Zealand. Multiple People Have Been Shot At Mosques Across Christchurch

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 09:00 PM PDT





Daily Mail: Gunman believed to be Australian shoots several people in Christchurch mosque and livestreams the massacre - as more bodies are found at a second mosque

* Witnesses reported hearing 50 shots and police are responding to the incident
* Bangladesh cricket team were inside mosque at the time of the shooting
* Witnesses have said they saw 'blood everywhere' and people seriously injured
* There are reports of another shooting outside Christchurch Hospital

A gunman has opened fire at a mosque in New Zealand, shooting at children and reportedly killing at least nine people.

Witnesses reported hearing 50 shots from his automatic rifle at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on the country's South Island.

The gunman live-streamed the mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque, which happened about 1.30pm (11.30am AEDT) as Friday prayers were underway.

A video seen by Daily Mail Australia shows the man firing multiple shots at dozens of people as they try to flee. The gunman is still at large.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is an developing story. It will be updated later today.

More News On Today's Terror Attack In New Zealand

Christchurch mosque shootings: Police say gunman in custody, hunting for other shooters after murderous rampage: Live -- ABC News Online
Christchurch shooting: multiple fatalities after mass shooting at two mosques – live updates -- The Guardian
Witness: Many dead in New Zealand mosque shooting -- AP
'Multiple fatalities' in New Zealand shootings: police -- Reuters
New Zealand mosques: Several dead after shootings in Christchurch -- BBC
Christchurch mosques targeted in mass shooting; police say one person is in custody and several are dead -- ABC News Online
Bangladesh cricket team escaped Christchurch mosque shooting -- The Guardian
'Multiple fatalities' as gunmen open fire in two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch -- CNN
New Zealand: Multiple fatalities as gunman opens fire at Christchurch mosque -- DW
'Active shooter' situation in New Zealand during mosque attacks -- Al Jazeera

Israel Launches Airstrikes On Gaza After Rockets Were Fired At Tel Aviv

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 08:00 PM PDT



Haaretz: Israeli Army Strikes in Gaza After Rockets Target Tel Aviv in First Since 2014 War

* No casualties reported on both sides
* Israel says Hamas fired, but organization denies involvement
* IDF spokesman says army 'surprised' by escalation

The Israeli army attacked Thursday overnight targets in Gaza Strip, hours after two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv from Gaza, a first since Israel's 2014 campaign in Gaza.

According to the Israeli military, the Iron Dome missile defense system was activated. It is assumed that the rockets landed in open areas due to the fact that no damage or injuries were reported.

The last time rocket alerts were activated in Tel Aviv was two years ago, in what turned out to be a false alarm. The flare-up comes three weeks before Israel holds its general election.

Read more ....

More News On Israel Launching Airstrikes On Gaza After Rockets Were Fired At Tel Aviv

The Latest: Israeli military accuses Hamas of firing rockets -- AP
Israel strikes Gaza in retaliation to Hamas rocket launch at Tel Aviv -- Jerusalem Post
IDF attacks targets in Gaza, rockets fired toward south -- Arutz Sheva
Israel launches Gaza strikes after rockets fired at Tel Aviv -- CNBC/Reuters
Israel strikes Gaza targets following Tel Aviv rocket attack -- AP
Israel launches airstrikes on 'terror sites in Gaza' after attack on Tel Aviv, military says -- FOX News
Israeli launches Gaza air strikes after rockets fired at Tel Aviv -- Al Jazeera
Israel strikes Gaza in reprisal for 2 rocket launches (VIDEO) -- RT
IDF Pounds Gaza in Response to Recent Attack Toward Tel Aviv -- Sputnik

Top Afghan Government Official 'Blasts' The Trump Administration's Peace Talks With The Taliban

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 07:00 PM PDT



NBC: Trump envoy is selling out Afghanistan in Taliban peace talks: senior Afghan official

"We don't know what's going on. We don't have the kind of transparency that we should have," said Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib.

A top Afghan government official on Thursday blasted the Trump administration's peace talks with the Taliban, accusing a U.S. presidential envoy of shutting out the Kabul government and betraying the trust of a close ally.

"We don't know what's going on. We don't have the kind of transparency that we should have," Hamdullah Mohib, Afghan national security adviser, told reporters during a visit to Washington.

Asked if President Donald Trump's envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, was consulting the Afghan government on his talks with the Taliban insurgents, Mohib said: "No. We get bits and pieces of information."

He added: "The last people to find out are us."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Afghan government clearly feels that they are being kept out of the loop in the current round of peace talks. This does not bode well on where these talks are heading.

More News On The Afghan Government's Concerns That They Are Being Left-Out Of The Current Round Of Peace Talks

U.S.-Afghan tensions erupt over Kabul's exclusion from peace talks -- Reuters
Senior Afghan official accuses US envoy of 'delegitimizing' Afghan government -- CNN
Afghan Official Warns of U.S. Deal With Taliban 'That Doesn't End in Peace' -- The New York Times
Afghan official accuses top U.S. envoy of undermining Ghani government with colonial intentions -- CBS
Afghan official accuses U.S. envoy of undermining Taliban peace talks -- PBS
Is Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump's Envoy To Taliban Talks, Angling To Take Over Afghanistan? -- Kimberly Dozier, Daily Beast

Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan Defends The Pentagon's $165 billion Wartime Budget

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 06:20 PM PDT



Task & Purpose: 'There is no slush fund,' Acting SecDef Shanahan says of $165 billion wartime budget (that mostly doesn't fund combat operations)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused the Pentagon of creating a "slush fund" by loading its wartime budget with nearly $100 billion that does not fund operations in Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan.

The Pentagon's proposed $718 billion fiscal 2020 budget includes $165 billion for "overseas contingency operations," which is supposed to fund combat operations and is not subject to limits on defense spending that Congress imposed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Read more ....

More News On Today's US Senate Testimony By Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan

Senators sharply question Pentagon on budget 'slush fund' -- AP
Shanahan: Charging allies to house US troops, plus 50 percent surcharge, isn't happening -- Defense News
Pentagon chief calls reports of charges to allies erroneous: 'We won't do cost plus 50' -- The Hill
Dear Allies: Pay 'Fair Share,' Says Shanahan — Not 50% Plus -- Breaking Defense
Shanahan grilled on Pentagon's border wall funding -- The Hill
Pentagon's Shanahan Warns of China's Growing Military Might -- Bloomberg
In testimony, Shanahan underlines it's 'China, China, China' -- Defense News
Acting Defense secretary distances himself from Boeing controversy -- The Hill
Shanahan pitches Space Force in Senate testimony -- Space News
Pentagon chief Shanahan makes pitch for Space Force -- Washington Times

Russia Is Defeating Sanctions

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 05:44 PM PDT

Reuters

Judy Twigg, National Interest: Russia Is Winning the Sanctions Game

These sanctions were supposed to punish Moscow's elite, but instead they've spurred economic development and patriotism.

The current conversation about Russia sanctions centers around targeting and scope. Are we punishing the people whose behavior we most want to change? Is there pain, well inflicted, on those individuals responsible for creating chaos in Ukraine and Crimea, for reckless attacks on Sergei Skripal and others, and for wanton interference in Western elections? Can we hurt Russian elites in a way that Putin will notice? Have we done enough?

In at least one sector, though, the sanctions are a textbook case of unintended consequences: they've put Russian farmers in the best shape they've ever been. Countersanctions aimed at imported Western food products—put into effect just days after the initial sanctions in the summer of 2014—initially sent Russian consumers into a tailspin, hungry from a lack of immediate alternatives to tasty European cheeses and processed foods. But palates adjusted quickly, and the import substitution effects boosted Russia, by 2016, to the position of top wheat exporter in the world. As the United States hemorrhages global agro-market share courtesy of Trump-era tariffs and trade wars, Russia is actively and aggressively filling the gap.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I concur with the above analysis. I go back to Russia 2 or 3 times a year, and I do not see an economy in decline or economic turmoil. Everyone is working. Starting a small private enterprise is now the cultural norm. There are building cranes everywhere in Moscow. And food is readily available and cheap. I should also add that the meats and poultry are better quality (they do not use hormones and other chemicals in their feed). I do know that sanctions will be lifted one day, but the Kremlin is going to protect critical industries .... especially the agribusiness. And I do not see the mentality of buying Russian changing anytime soon.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 14, 2019

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 04:00 PM PDT



Arthur MacMillan, The National: Syria's peace plan takes shape — but it relies on Bashar Al Assad

A new UN envoy is in place but there are signs that even Russia is losing influence in Damascus.

When Staffan de Mistura addressed the UN Security Council for the last time in December as the Secretary General's special envoy for Syria he ended in unusual fashion, seeking permission to break protocol and shake the hands of ambassadors from member states he had been briefing.

Warm applause followed. Privately, however, some felt relief rather than appreciation at his departure.

"I could not believe that happened," said a diplomat from a permanent member of the Security Council, scolding the veteran Swedish-Italian envoy's efforts to broker a peace.

"It all just kind of fell apart under him."

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 14, 2019

Kurds look to EU to replace US in Syria -- Faisal Al Yafai, Asia Times

In Mosul's enduring rubble, fertile soil for an ISIS revival? -- Scott Peterson, CSM

Drone Damage: Why Trump's Terror Tactics Could be Costly -- Paul R. Pillar, National Interest

Bette Dam about Taliban's Mullah Omar: 'It was all fake news' -- Ann-Christin Herbe (Interview)

Netanyahu's departure would be a very big deal -- Aaron David Miller, CNN

The Middle East's Great Divide Is Not Sectarianism -- Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, The New Yorker

UK seeks to slam the brakes on Brexit, but what comes next? -- Jill Lawless, AP

The risk of a no-deal Brexit just increased again -- Robert Peston, The Spectator

Michel Barnier: Brexit extension 'for what?' -- Maïa de La Baume, Politico.eu

China's Growing Hawkishness -- Aaron Kliegman, Washington Free Beacon

Bouteflika May Have Stepped Aside, but the Generals Really Running Algeria Won't -- Francisco Serrano, WPR

What's next for Algeria? -- Ramy Allahoum, Al Jazeera

Closed borders and fighting words: Rwanda and Uganda's deepening rift -- Ivan M. Ashaba & Gerald Bareebe, African Arguments

Russia's Tragic Great Power Politics -- Robert Hamilton, Foreign Policy Research Institute

How Turkey's Lifeline to Maduro May Fall Apart -- Imdat Oner, American Quarterly

Explainer: How to read an aircraft's black box -- Tim Hepher, Reuters

Why France is analyzing Ethiopian jet's black boxes -- Angela Charlton, AP

World News Briefs -- March 14, 2019 (Evening Edition)

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 03:01 PM PDT

Islamic State fighters and their families walk as they surrendered in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 12. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Reuters: Hundreds surrender in last Islamic State enclave as SDF advance

BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - Islamic State militants along with women and children surrendered in the hundreds to U.S.-backed forces in eastern Syria on Thursday as the jihadists lost ground in their last shred of territory.

Many of the men were limping as they crossed out of the Baghouz enclave along a dirt path over a rocky hill, with weeping children and fully veiled women, dragging suitcases and backpacks behind them.

Some men trudged along on crutches with bandages wrapped around their legs. Women hoisted children onto their shoulders to get them up the hill, leaving strollers and blankets behind in the dust.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Israel PM convenes military brass after apparent rocket fire.

Air raid sirens in Tel Aviv over apparent Gaza rocket attack. Rockets fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv, no casualties: Israeli military.

Hamas denies responsibility for rockets fired into Israel.

Donors pledge $7B in aid for Syria, refugees.

US-backed SDF says fight against ISIL enters 'final moments'.

Diehard Syria jihadists go down all guns blazing.

Bad weather gives IS militants in Syria a second wind.

Hundreds lumber out of last IS redoubt in east Syria.

Syria's Assad struggles to reap spoils after military gains.

Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria.

Targeted killings of Hamas leaders will resume if needed, says Israeli prime minister candidate Gantz.

ASIA

India, Pakistan officials meet to discuss border opening.

Senior Afghan official publicly criticizes U.S. negotiator on visit to Washington.

Taliban political chief says optimistic about Afghan peace talks.

Afghanistan probes mistaken US air attack on its army base.

China hits back at US over human rights violations.

China deflects India's call for United Nations sanctions on leader of Pakistan-based militants.

India 'disappointed' as China foils bid to blacklist JeM chief.

Maneuvering to isolate Taipei, China fires rhetorical broadsides at Taiwan.

Tokyo slams Russian military drills in south Kurils as inadmissible.

New Zealand in shock after climate change minister attacked on way to parliament.

AFRICA

Burkina army investigating claims its troops carried out executions.

Sudanese vow to keep protesting as president digs in.

Ethiopian Airlines black boxes flown to Paris for investigation. France receives black boxes from Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Congo's president pardons hundreds of political prisoners. DRC President Tshisekedi pardons about 700 political prisoners.

Eight killed in blast at Somali market: official.

New Algerian prime minister to form 'technocratic government'. Algeria to form interim government. Algerian prime minister promises new government in days.

Ethiopia's ex-rebels start hunger strike.

Search for survivors ends a day after Lagos building collapse.

WHO: Deadly plague breaks out on Uganda-Congo border.

Billions pledged to halt Africa's forest loss.

EUROPE

Trump sharply criticizes British leader's handling of Brexit.

Brextension: UK lawmakers vote to seek delay of EU departure.

UK lawmakers gear up for vote on delaying Brexit.

Brexit Article 50: Tusk to ask EU to consider long extension.

Poroshenko camp in damage-control mode as Ukrainian election nears.

NATO edges towards Trump's spending demands, Germany lags.

Estonian intelligence flags Russian civilian vessels as would-be spy ships.

US ups pressure on Europe over 5G infrastructure from China's Huawei.

Former U.K. soldier to be charged for 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre.

Spanish NGO: survivors say 45 migrants die in Mediterranean.

AMERICAS

Senate rejects Trump border emergency as Republicans defect.

Trump makes last-ditch effort to stop Senate rebuke of emergency declaration. Trump tells GOP to back border emergency, but defeat likely.

US House unanimously demands Mueller report be made public.

Last remaining US diplomats leave Venezuela.

U.S. considers sanctions to restrict Visa, Mastercard in Venezuela: official.

Venezuela accuses US of 'terrorist attack' on oil facility.

Venezuela's oil production plunged in February, OPEC says.

Colombia: March in favour of FARC peace accord.

Trudeau scandal: PM's party blocks ex-attorney general from testifying again.

Millions in path of potential bomb cyclone as winter storm slams central U.S..

Brazil says goodbye to shooting victims, questions mount.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Pakistan's Masood Azhar: China blocks bid to call militant terrorist.


UN: Al Qaeda continues to view Afghanistan as a 'safe haven'.

US on track to nearly triple airstrike record in Somalia.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US stock indexes veer lower as 3-day winning streak stalls.

US candidate clears big hurdle in effort to head World Bank.

Ethiopian Airlines crash puts US$633 billion worth of Boeing 737 MAX jet orders in jeopardy – with Asian airlines among the biggest customers.

Donald Trump orders Boeing 737 MAX fleet grounded, as plane maker backs 'caution'.

Facebook and Instagram suffer most severe outage ever.

Two Rockets Fired At Tel Aviv From Gaza

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 02:00 PM PDT


Haaretz: Two Gaza Rockets Fired at Tel Aviv, One Intercepted

* Gaza source tells Haaretz rockets were fired from northern Strip but it is unclear who stands behind fire
* Prime minister holding emergency security consultation
* Flare-up comes three week before general election

The Israeli army said at least two rockets were fired at Israel on Thursday night, causing rocket alerts to blare throughout central Israel.

According to the Israeli military, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one of the rockets, while the other is likely to have landed in an open area.

The flare-up comes three weeks before Israel holds its general election.

Israelis reported hearing sounds of blasts in the area, with some saying that they saw the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepting rockets.

Read more ....

More News On Two Rockets Fired At Tel Aviv From Gaza

Two rockets fired at Tel Aviv -- Jerusalem Post
PM heads to military headquarters in preparation for response to rocket fire -- Times Of Israel
Terror groups in Gaza fire two rockets at Tel Aviv area -- YNet News
Rockets fired at Tel Aviv, triggering air raid sirens -- FOX News

U.S. Senate Votes To End U.S. Support For Saudi Led-Coalition War In Yemen

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 01:39 PM PDT



USA Today: Senate approves measure to force US withdrawal from Yemen despite Trump's veto threat

WASHINGTON – Despite a veto threat from the president, the Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would force the Trump administration to end its military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Wednesday's 54-to-46 vote served as a bipartisan rebuke to President Donald Trump and to Saudi leaders. It also highlighted lawmakers' growing unease with America's role in that grisly conflict, which has left more than 50,000 civilians dead and millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation.

"The United States, with little media attention, has been Saudi Arabia's partner in this horrific war," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said during a Senate floor speech Wednesday. He is a lead author of the measure, which relies on a Vietnam-era law designed to limit the president's power to start or escalate military engagement abroad.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This will probably be President Trump's second veto .... White House advisers recommend Trump veto Yemen resolution (The Hill).

More News On U.S. Senate Voting To End U.S. Support For The Saudi Led-Coalition War In Yemen

Senate breaks with Trump as it votes to end U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia in its war with Yemen -- Daily Mail/AP
Senate Votes Again to End Aid to Saudi War in Yemen, Defying Trump -- The New York Times
US Senate votes to end support for Yemen war -- France 24
Senate passes resolution to end US support of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, 54-46 -- Defense News
Senate clears Yemen War Powers Resolution in rebuke to Trump -- CNN
Senate Votes to Defy Trump on Yemen, Setting Up Eventual Veto -- Bloomberg
Senate defies Trump, passes historic resolution to end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen war -- Business Insider
Bill to pull US support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen passes both chambers of Congress in historic vote -- ABC News
Senate votes to end US support of Saudi-led Yemen war -- BBC
US Senate passes bill to halt military support to Saudi in Yemen -- Al Jazeera

U.S. Senate Votes To Block President Trump's Border Emergency Declaration

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 12:59 PM PDT


FOX News: Senate votes to block Trump's border emergency declaration, in bipartisan rebuke teeing up veto

Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues on Thursday in voting to block President Trump's border emergency declaration -- a move that will prompt the president's first-ever veto.

The president made his intentions crystal clear, tweeting "VETO!" moments after the resolution cleared Congress.

The measure passed 59-41 as a dozen Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the resolution, despite White House efforts to keep the GOP united on the issue of border security. Those GOP members who backed the resolution cited concerns about the expansion of presidential powers.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: According to 59 US Senators, the President does not have the right to announce an emergency on the border. So who does? As for the Republican Senators who supported this measure, there is going to be blow-back against them. No one believes excuses like this one from U.S. Senator Mitt Romney ....

.... Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters ahead of the vote. "This is a constitutional question, it's a question of the balance of power that is core to our constitution." "This is not about the president or border security, in fact I support border security, I support a barrier," he said.

He does not support border security and/or barrier.

My prediction. President Trump will veto this measure, and on this issue Republican voters will at least now know where 12 US Republican Senators stand .... 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration (The Hill).

More News On The U.S. Senate Voting To Block President Trump's Emergency Declaration

Senate rejects Trump border emergency as Republicans defect -- AP
Senate rebukes Trump over wall but he vows veto -- Reuters
Senate rejects border declaration in major rebuke of Trump -- The Hill
Senate votes to reject Trump's national emergency declaration, setting up his first veto -- CBS
Senate deals blow to Trump in vote to terminate border emergency -- Politico

Is Cuba's Supply Of Oil From Venezuela Under Risk?

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 11:00 AM PDT

Venezuela and Cuba strengthened ties after Chavez rose to power in 1999

DW: Venezuela crisis: Is Cuba's oil supply under threat?

For years, Cuba has received large quantities oil from Venezuela. But with the government in Caracas in turmoil and President Nicolas Maduro under increasing pressure, is the country at risk of losing its energy supply?

Economic ties between Cuba and Venezuela have been close ever since Hugo Chavez became Venezuelan president 1999. Twenty years later, Venezuela still is Cuba's second most important trading partner after China.

Today, Venezuela is marred by political turmoil and President Nicolas Maduro's days could be numbered. What would this mean for Cuba?

"Most of Cuba's energy consumption is covered by Venezuelan oil, and getting oil from elsewhere would throw Cuba into crisis," said Bert Hoffmann, a senior research fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies. Such a scenario, he added, would lead to "dire austerity measures, which would mean immense hardship for the Cuban population."

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Venezuela is on the brink of not even having enough oil for itself, let alone export. For Cuba, they better look for other suppliers. My prediction. They are going to beg Russia for oil shipments, and at the same terms that Venezuela was giving them. Will Moscow give Cuba oil .... I hope not.

Russia Is Going To Lose Billions For Backing Venezuela Under Chavez And Now Maduro

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 10:35 AM PDT

DUELLING PARTNERS: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, holds a replica of the sword of Simon Bolivar, a national hero, as Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil firm Rosneft, looks on from the left in July 2016. Joint ventures between Rosneft and Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, have not always gone smoothly. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Reuters: How Russia sank billions of dollars into Venezuelan quicksand

Russian oil company Rosneft spent a fortune on joint ventures in Venezuela even though it suspected it was losing out on millions of dollars, documents show. It continued investing, sources say, because the Kremlin wanted to support its ally in South America.

MOSCOW – At the end of 2015, managers at Rosneft, the Russian state-controlled oil firm, sounded the alarm to their bosses about the company's investments in Venezuela. Rosneft's local partner, Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, owed it hundreds of millions of dollars, according to internal documents, and there seemed no prospect things would get better.

"It will be like this for eternity," a Rosneft internal auditor wrote in an email to a colleague in November 2015, complaining there was no progress in getting PDVSA to explain a $700 million hole in the balance sheet of a joint venture.

The email was among scores of internal Rosneft communications - including presentations, copies of official letters, memos and spreadsheets – reviewed by Reuters. They cover the firm's operations in Venezuela between 2012 and 2015.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Reuters has been following this story for a long time, specifically on Venezuela's inability (or unwillingness) to repay its loans to Russia .... Russia Wants To Know Why Venezuela Is Behind It's Debt Payments (November 24, 2018).

Update: The story continues to get worse on Venezuela's ability to repay its loans .... Venezuela's oil production plunged in February, OPEC says (UPI). And with electrical blackouts now the norm in Venezuela, here is an easy prediction. Venezuela's oil production figures for March when they are released will be worse.

U.S. - China Trade Summit Delayed. Presdient Xi May Meet Chinese Presdient Xi In April

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 10:16 AM PDT

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping arrive at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

CNBC: China and US to reportedly push back Trump-Xi meeting to at least April

China and the U.S. are looking to push an earlier scheduled meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping to at least April, Bloomberg reported citing unnamed sources.

Trump said on Wednesday he was in no rush to complete a trade pact with China and insisted that any deal should include protection for intellectual property, a major sticking point between the two sides during months of negotiations.

Trump and Xi had been expected to hold a summit at the U.S. president's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida later this month, but no date had been set for a meeting and no in-person talks between their trade teams have been held in more than two weeks.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I will be surprised if they meet in April.

More News On The U.S. - China Trade Summit Being Delayed

China and U.S. to Push Back Trump-Xi Meeting to at Least April -- Bloomberg
A Trump-Xi meeting on trade is reportedly being pushed back until at least April -- Business Insider
Stocks slip as Trump-Xi meeting is reportedly pushed back -- Yahoo Finance
Trump and Xi reportedly won't meet until April -- NBC
China and US to push back Trump-Xi summit to at least April: Bloomberg -- Channel News Asia/AFP/Reuters

Is OPEC Being Replaced By Another Oil Cartel?

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 10:03 AM PDT

A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma. Nick Oxford, Reuters

Oil Price: U.S. Supermajors Could Form A New Oil Cartel

The ambitious shale growth plans of the U.S. supermajors could in the future allow them to control so much of U.S. shale oil production that they could also control the price of the U.S. light tight oil going to foreign markets in an 'OPEC of their own kind,' Investing.com quoted John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital, as saying.

If the U.S. supermajors, such as Exxon and Chevron, end up controlling a lot of the U.S. shale production with their plans to significantly boost Permian production, and if smaller shale players bleed cash and decide to sell acreage and operations to Big Oil, then supermajors could be the ones determining the price of light crude oil, according to Kilduff.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Is the age of the "Seven Sisters" coming back, where it is the oil companies dictating oil and energy prices rather than OPEC .... IMHO it is too early to say. But technology advances in the energy industry have definitely revolutionized how this industry operates, and it has broken the OPEC cartel. Market forces are now coming into play, and the majors are well positioned to take advantage of it.

U.S. Wants To Cut Iranian Oil Exports To Below 1 Million Barrels By May

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 09:49 AM PDT

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. aims to cut Iran oil exports to under 1 million bpd from May - sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States aims to cut Iran's crude exports by about 20 percent to below 1 million barrels per day (bpd) from May by requiring importing countries to reduce purchases to avoid U.S. sanctions, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports and thereby choke off Tehran's main source of revenue. Washington is pressuring Iran to curtail its nuclear program and stop backing militant proxies across the Middle East.

The United States will likely renew waivers to sanctions for most countries buying Iranian crude, including the biggest buyers China and India, in exchange for pledges to cut combined imports to below 1 million bpd. That would be around 250,000 bpd below Iran's current exports of 1.25 million bpd.

"The goal right now is to reduce Iranian oil exports to under 1 million barrels per day," one of the sources said, adding the Trump administration was concerned that pressing for a complete shutdown of Iran's oil in the short-term would trigger a global oil price spike.

Washington may also deny waivers to some countries that have not bought Iranian crude recently, the sources said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The ultimate goal is to bring this number to zero .... US sees room to be more aggressive on sanctions and take Iran oil exports to zero (CNBC)

World News Briefs -- March 14, 2019

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 01:40 PM PDT



The Guardian: Russian and Syrian airstrikes intensify on rebel-held Idlib

Attack comes as Brussels pushes for Assad to agree to a UN-sanctioned political settlement

Russia has sent in aircraft to attack the Syrian rebel-held province of Idlib in its first major assault for months, as foreign ministers gathered in Brussels to pledge as much $5bn (£3.8bn) to support countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where many Syrians have sought refuge.

The bombardment of the country's last rebel-held enclaveby Russian and Syrian planes was the most extensive yet. A full-scale assault could lead to hundreds of thousands of refugees joining the four million who have already fled the country.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

US-backed SDF says fight against ISIL enters 'final moments'.

Diehard Syria jihadists go down all guns blazing.

Bad weather gives IS militants in Syria a second wind.

Hundreds lumber out of last IS redoubt in east Syria.

Syria's Assad struggles to reap spoils after military gains.

Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria.

Targeted killings of Hamas leaders will resume if needed, says Israeli prime minister candidate Gantz.

ASIA

Taliban political chief says optimistic about Afghan peace talks.

Afghanistan probes mistaken US air attack on its army base.

China hits back at US over human rights violations.

China deflects India's call for United Nations sanctions on leader of Pakistan-based militants.

India 'disappointed' as China foils bid to blacklist JeM chief.

Maneuvering to isolate Taipei, China fires rhetorical broadsides at Taiwan.

Tokyo slams Russian military drills in south Kurils as inadmissible.

New Zealand in shock after climate change minister attacked on way to parliament.

AFRICA

Ethiopian Airlines black boxes flown to Paris for investigation. France receives black boxes from Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Congo's president pardons hundreds of political prisoners. DRC President Tshisekedi pardons about 700 political prisoners.

Eight killed in blast at Somali market: official.

New Algerian prime minister to form 'technocratic government'. Algeria to form interim government.

Ethiopia's ex-rebels start hunger strike.

Search for survivors ends a day after Lagos building collapse.

WHO: Deadly plague breaks out on Uganda-Congo border.

Billions pledged to halt Africa's forest loss.

EUROPE

UK lawmakers gear up for vote on delaying Brexit.

Brexit Article 50: Tusk to ask EU to consider long extension.

Poroshenko camp in damage-control mode as Ukrainian election nears.

NATO edges towards Trump's spending demands, Germany lags.

Estonian intelligence flags Russian civilian vessels as would-be spy ships.

US ups pressure on Europe over 5G infrastructure from China's Huawei.

Former U.K. soldier to be charged for 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre.

AMERICAS

Trump makes last-ditch effort to stop Senate rebuke of emergency declaration. Trump tells GOP to back border emergency, but defeat likely.

US House unanimously demands Mueller report be made public.

Venezuela accuses US of 'terrorist attack' on oil facility.

Venezuela's oil production plunged in February, OPEC says.

Colombia: March in favour of FARC peace accord.

Trudeau scandal: PM's party blocks ex-attorney general from testifying again.

Millions in path of potential bomb cyclone as winter storm slams central U.S..

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Pakistan's Masood Azhar: China blocks bid to call militant terrorist.


UN: Al Qaeda continues to view Afghanistan as a 'safe haven'.

US on track to nearly triple airstrike record in Somalia.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Ethiopian Airlines crash puts US$633 billion worth of Boeing 737 MAX jet orders in jeopardy – with Asian airlines among the biggest customers.

Donald Trump orders Boeing 737 MAX fleet grounded, as plane maker backs 'caution'.

Facebook and Instagram suffer most severe outage ever.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 14, 2019

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 09:01 AM PDT


SCMP: American B-52 bombers fly over disputed South China Sea for second time in 10 days

* Planes 'conduct routine training', US Pacific Air Force says, reiterating that it does so regularly 'in support of allies and a free, open Indo-Pacific'
* It follows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's criticism of 'China's illegal island-building in international waterways'

Two US B-52 strategic bombers flew over the contested South China Sea on Wednesday, according to the US Pacific Air Force, the second such flight in 10 days despite China's objections.

"Two B-52H Stratofortress bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and conducted routine training in the vicinity of the South China Sea on March 13 [Hawaii Standard Time], before returning to base," a spokeswoman for the Pacific Air Force said in a statement released on Thursday.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 14, 2019

US flies bombers near contested South China Sea islands -- CNN

Air Force receives first AC-130J Ghostrider gunship -- UPI

Boeing nets $250M to integrate new cruise missile onto B-52H -- UPI

US Army cuts current vehicle fleet to make way for next-gen tech -- Defense News

Lockheed tapped by Navy for rapid missile technology development -- UPI

Pentagon launches development agency seen as key to future Space Force -- CNN

Pentagon officially stands up Space Development Agency, names first director -- Defense News

Special Ops Command contracts Barrett for new sniper rifles -- UPI

Spec ops in trouble: Mired in scandal and under Pentagon review, what will it take to clean house? -- Military Times

Grunts are getting a big boost in the Marine Corps' 2020 budget -- Task & Purpose/Military.com

One of These 5 Marine Corps Generals Could Be the Next Commandant -- Military.com

Congressman Pushes Back on Navy's Plan to Retire the Carrier Truman -- Military.com

In testimony, Shanahan underlines it's 'China, China, China' -- Defense News

Pentagon chief calls reports of charges to allies erroneous: 'We won't do cost plus 50' -- The Hill

Report: Navy is under 'cyber siege,' national secrets leaking from the hull -- Navy Times

US warns of sophisticated cyberattacks from Russia, China -- AP

US ups pressure on Europe over 5G infrastructure from China's Huawei -- AFP

GOP senator requests meeting with Air Force leaders to discuss sexual assault -- The Hill

Watchdog files ethics complaint over acting Pentagon chief's Boeing ties -- The Hill

US looks to trim budget for deterring Russia in Europe, increase 'burden-sharing' with allies -- Stars and Stripes

Russian aggression on the rise in the Balkans, US Army four-star says -- Army Times

Russians are serious about using nukes, US NATO general warns -- Washington Examiner

Prepare to man Fort Trump? US has made Poland a 'very serious robust offer' for base -- Military Times

Russia's Northern Fleet to get new submarines -- TASS

Russia demonstrates night vision goggles that outshine US analogues -- TASS

Military drills will be held in Venezuela on protecting strategic facilities -- TASS

Turkish Defence Minister DISCLOSES F-35 Delivery Date as Pentagon Urges Freeze -- Sputnik

Turkey, US head to new crisis over Ankara's S-400 purchase -- Al-Monitor

IRGC Holds Massive Drone Drills in Persian Gulf - Reports -- Sputnik

India Conducts Twin Tests of Fire & Forget Anti-Tank Missile Near Pak Border -- Sputnik

Pentagon’s New Ballistic Missile Interceptor Doesn’t Work

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 07:22 AM PDT

A missile fired from the USS John Paul Jones intercepted a target at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in 2017.

Breaking Defense: Pentagon's New Ballistic Missile Interceptor Doesn't Work, Suffers Years-Long Delay

What happens when the Pentagon's new ballistic missile defeat program doesn't work? They keep using the old one, which has a spotty track record.

PENTAGON: The Pentagon's next-generation interceptor warhead to kill ballistic missiles, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (KV), is at least two years away from working out its issues, despite years of development. That pushes back the fielding of the last pieces of a $40 billion dollar missile defense system that has struggled since the late 1990s.

The RKV delay won't effect the overall expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system from 44 to 64 interceptors based in California and Alaska — meant to protect the United States from North Korean missiles — but it does ensure that the existing interceptor, the Exoastmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), s will stay in service even longer, despite a spotty track record.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: No one said that this program was going to be easy to pull-off. But after billions of dollars spent and only a so-so success rate in intercepting incoming missiles during fixed tests, you have to wonder if this program is ever going to meet its expectations.

U.S. Will Be Testing A Cruise Missile Banned Under The Previous INF Treaty This August

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 07:13 AM PDT

A launching unit for BGM-109G Gryphon missiles TSGT ROB MARSHALL/US Air Force

Reuters: U.S. looks to test ground-launched cruise missile in August

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States aims to test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of about 1,000 km (620 miles) in August, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday, after Washington announced last month it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Last month, the United States said it would withdraw from the INF treaty in six months unless Moscow ends what Washington says are violations of the 1987 pact.

Russia announced it was suspending the treaty. Moscow denies flouting the accord and has accused Washington of breaking the accord itself, allegations rejected by the United States.

"We're going to test a ground-launched cruise missile in August," said a senior defense official, who declined to be named.

If the testing is successful, the missile could be deployed in about 18 months.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Testing A Cruise Missile Banned Under The Previous INF Treaty This August

US plans tests this year of long-banned types of missiles -- AP
US to Test Ground-Launched Cruise Missile Systems Once Banned by INF Treaty -- Sputnik
The US is set to start building once-banned cruise missiles for the first time since the Cold War -- Business Insider
US begins work on new cruise missile after pulling out of cold war treaty -- The Guardian
US to make parts for missile system covered by treaty Trump suspended -- The Hill
US to Start Making Parts for Ground-Launched Cruise Missile Systems -- VOA/Reuters
Pentagon Prepares to Build Banned Missiles as Treaty Expires -- Popular Mechanics

Is China The Reason Why Many Countries In Asia Are Buying the F-35?

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 06:40 AM PDT

The Air Self-Defense Force's F-35A fighter jet is shown at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture in February. Pool photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun

FoxTrot Alpha: China Says It's Not the Reason Countries Are Buying the F-35 (It Totally Is)

Countries across the Asia-Pacific are not—repeat not—buying the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter because of China. That's from China's hawkish Global Times—an arm of the newspaper run by the Communist Party of China—which assured readers this week that, while they may read stories that Australia, Japan, South Korea, and now Singapore are all purchasing America's newest stealth fighter, it has totally nothing to do with them.

The result is an interesting look at how the region views China's rapidly expanding defense budget and an increasingly brash and powerful Beijing—and how that news gets spun within China itself.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China is the reason why there is currently a massive arms race occurring in Asia today .... An Asian Arms Race Is Underway (January 30, 2018).

These Are The Planes And Helicopters That The U.S. Air Force Wants To Buy In 2020

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 06:29 AM PDT


Popular Mechanics: The Pentagon's 2020 Budget Asks for Nearly 380 Aircraft, But One Buy Is Raising Eyebrows

Fighters are down, but helicopters are up.

The Trump Administration's 2020 Budget is out, and the Pentagon is asking for 17 more aircraft than it received in 2019. A quick tally of the aircraft shows the number of fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles the services are asking for is down slightly, while the number of helicopters is up. Also, the Air Force is purchasing eight new F-15s in a deal that smells fishy, given the Acting Secretary of Defense's work career.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The 8 new F-15EXs caught my eye.