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Monday, February 10, 2020

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

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

Coronavirus Puts Downward Pressure On Oil Prices And Demand

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 09:19 PM PST Oil falls near $50 as coronavirus hits demand without OPEC action

Oil briefly fell past the psychologically important $50 a barrel mark as hopes for an extraordinary OPEC+ meeting to decide on further production cuts to deal with the demand hit from the coronavirus diminished.

Ministers from the group and its allies are unlikely to hold an early meeting this month, while one planned for March will go ahead, Azerbaijan Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov told the RIA Novosti newswire. Russia has been resisting Saudi Arabian efforts to reduce output after OPEC+ technical experts recommended an additional cut of 600,000 barrels a day through June.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: OPEC has been cutting production to prop up the price of oil, but Russia is no longer on board .... Oil Prices Could Fall Much Further As Russia Refuses Additional Production Cuts (Forbes).

Taiwan's Air Force Scrambles Jets As Chinese Fighters And Bombers Fly Around The Island

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 09:08 PM PST

Taiwan's defence ministry says mainland Chinese J-11 fighters and H-6 bombers flew around the island on Sunday. Photo: Handout

SCMP/Reuters: Taiwan scrambles jets as mainland Chinese air force flies around island

* Beijing says patrol was necessary action while Taipei says it was a threat to regional peace and stability

Taiwan's air force scrambled on Sunday to intercept jets from mainland China that flew around the island.

Beijing said the flight was a "necessary action" under "current security situation across the Taiwan Strait".

Taipei's defence ministry described the People's Liberation Army's patrol as a threat to regional peace and stability.

Beijing has been flying what it calls "island encirclement" drills on and off since 2016 when Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen first took office.

Beijing maintains that the self-governed island, which broke away in 1949 after the civil war, remains part of China, and that Tsai, who was re-elected last month, wishes to push the island's formal independence. She says Taiwan is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name.

Read more ....

More News On Taiwan's Air Force Responding To Chinese Fighters And Bombers Flying Around The Island

China sends military aircraft to circle half of Taiwan -- Taiwan News
Taiwan scrambles F-16 fighters to monitor Chinese warplanes -- Focus Taiwan
Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese air force flies around island -- Al Jazeera

Iran Unveils New Ballistic Missile With Composite-Built Engine

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 08:58 PM PST

Al Jazeera: Iran shows missile, launches satellite which fails to reach orbit

Moves come days before Islamic Revolution anniversary, routinely used by Iran to display tech advances for armed forces.

In the space of a few hours on Sunday, Iran unveiled a new ballistic missile and launched a domestically-built satellite - which failed, however, to reach orbit.

The launch of the satellite happened at 7:15pm local time at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran's Semnan province, some 230km (145 miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran. State television said, however, that a Simorgh rocket could not put the Zafar 1 communications satellite into orbit due to a low speed.

Read more ....

More News On Iran Unveiling A New Ballistic Missile

Iran announces development of new short-range missile -- OAN
Iran unveils ballistic missile, 'new generation' engines -- Times of Israel/AFP
Iran Unveils Raad-500 – A New Tactical Ballistic Missile -- Defense Update
Weighs less & packs more range: Iran unveils new ballistic missile with composite-built engine (VIDEO) -- RT

Iran Fails Again To Launch A Satellite Into Orbit

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 08:15 PM PST

Business Insider: Iran tried and failed for the fourth time in a row to put a satellite into orbit

* Iran tried, despite US opposition to the program, to put a satellite into orbit on Sunday, but it was unsuccessful, a defense official told state media, according to Reuters.
* "It was launched with success and ... we have reached most our aims ... but the 'Zafar' satellite did not reach orbit as planned," the official told state television Sunday.
* The latest failure marks the fourth time in a row Iran has been unable to successfully put a satellite in space.

Iran's latest attempt to put a satellite in space in spite of US opposition ended in failure, an Iranian defense ministry official told state media, Reuters reported Sunday.

"It was launched with success and ... we have reached most our aims ... but the 'Zafar' satellite did not reach orbit as planned," the official told state television Sunday.

The latest failure marks the fourth time in a row Iran has been unable to successfully put a satellite in space.

In January 2019, the Iranian rocket carrying the satellite into space failed to reach the "necessary speed" during the third stage of flight, a senior telecommunications official told state media, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Iran is claiming the launch was a success .... 'Simorgh' successfully launched 'Zafar' satellite (Mehr News Agency).

More News On Iran Failing Again To Launch A Satellite Into Orbit

Iranian 'Victory' satellite fails to reach orbit -- Reuters
Iran fails to put satellite into orbit, country's leader still hails 'remarkable' achievement -- SCMP/AP
Iranian Satellite Launched But Fails To Reach Earth's Orbit -- RFE
Iran Failed to Put Zafar Satellite Into Orbit, Defence Ministry Says -- Sputnik

Suspect In Car Crash That Killed A Teenage Motorcyclist In The U.K. Last Year Was A Senior CIA Spy

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 07:10 PM PST

Fugitive mother-of-three Anne Sacoolas - who is accused of killing Harry Dunn - was a CIA agent, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Pictured: Mrs Sacoolas back home in Virginia last week, where she was pictured filling up her car

Daily Mail: Fugitive American wife Anne Sacoolas who is wanted over the death of Harry Dunn was a CIA spy and 'held a higher rank than her husband'

* Anne Sacoolas crashed into Harry Dunn's motorbike outside RAF Croughton
* British Ministers and officials are aware of Mrs Sacoolas's career in espionage
* US government sources said Mrs Sacoolas was 'not active' while in the UK
* However, a security source told the Mail: 'You never really leave the CIA'
* Harry's mother Charlotte Charles said things are 'beginning to fall into place'

The American woman accused of killing Harry Dunn was a CIA agent, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Fugitive mother-of-three Anne Sacoolas, who fled Britain after crashing into the teenager's motorbike outside an air base last August, is understood to have served as a senior spy.

British Ministers and officials are aware of Mrs Sacoolas's career in espionage, but she was not declared as an agent when she came to the UK alongside her intelligence officer husband Jonathan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is not much that the family of Harry Dunn can do. Anne Sacoolas may have once been a CIA officer, but she is the wife of an intelligence officer based at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, and when this terrible accident occurred she did have diplomatic immunity. Bottom line. The only way that Anne Sacoolas can go back to the U.K. is if the U.S. extradites her there, and for now the US is saying no. On another note. Who leaked the intel that she was a former senior CIA spy?

More News On Claims that Fugitive American Anne Sacoolas Wanted For The Death Of Harry Dunn Was A Senior CIA Officer

Harry Dunn's mother is 'livid' at claims Anne Sacoolas, a suspect in the car crash that killed the teenage motorcyclist, was a CIA spy -- Daily Mail
Harry Dunn's family seek answers over reports Anne Sacoolas was CIA officer -- The Guardian
Anne Sacoolas: Harry Dunn's alleged killer a more senior spy than husband, report claims -- The Independent
How could they do this to us? – Dunn's mother attacks Government after spy claim -- Yahoo News/PA Media
Harry Dunn death: Call for public inquiry after family 'abandoned' -- Sky News

Turkey Reinforces Positions In Syria As Syrian Military Continues Its Offensive To Seize The Rebel Stronghold Of Idlib Province

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 06:38 PM PST

Reuters: Turkey ready to act after reinforcing Syria's Idlib: official

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has sent major reinforcements to Syria's northwestern Idlib region and "all options are on the table", a senior official said on Sunday, as Ankara tries to stem rapid advances by Syrian government forces.

The government offensive in Idlib, the last major enclave of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, has driven more than half a million people from their homes toward the closed Turkish border, threatening a new humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, says it cannot absorb any more and has demanded Damascus pull back in Idlib by the end of the month or face Turkish action.

Large convoys of military vehicles carrying tanks, armored personnel carriers and other equipment have crossed into Syria to reinforce a dozen Turkish military positions, several of which are now surrounded by advancing Syrian troops.

Read more ....

More News On Turkey Reinforcing Its Positions In Syria

Turkey reinforces troops in Syria's Idlib, talks with Russia -- Middle East Monitor
Turkey Strengthens Syria Outposts as Russia Talks Continue -- Bloomberg
Turkey has alternative plans for Idlib if warnings ignored -- Daily Sabah
Turkey showed it has Plan B in Syria: Minister -- Hurriyet Daily News
'We have Plan B': Turkey warning over violation of Idlib deal -- Al Jazeera
Turkey threatens to hit back as Assad advances in northern Syria -- The Guardian
Syrian army takes Idlib crossroads town despite Turkish warnings -- Al Jazeera
Syrian army vows to keep up campaign against last rebel area -- AP

More Refugees Pour Into The Geek Island Of Lesbos Raising Tensions And A Backlash From The Locals

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 06:20 PM PST

Refugees and migrants confront riot police outside the Kara Tepe camp, on the island of Lesbos. Photograph: Elias Marcou/Reuters

The Guardian: Crisis in Lesbos as more refugees arrive

Greek island a 'powder keg ready to explode' as boat landings lead to tensions with local people.

Greek authorities are struggling to cope with rising tension on islands where pressure from a new influx of refugees and migrants has reached a critical point.

Friction is growing between local people and asylum seekers landing in boats from Turkey. Last week the region's most senior official likened the situation on Lesbos to a "powder keg ready to explode". Kostas Moutzouris, governor of the north Aegean, said: "It's crucial that a state of emergency is called."

More than 42,000 men, women and children are estimated to be on Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos. Unable to leave because of a containment policy determined by the EU, they are forced to remain on the islands until their asylum requests are processed by a system both understaffed and overstretched.

Read more ....

Update #1: Thousands of migrants clash with police as riot cops fire tear gas to disperse crowds protesting about refugee camp conditions on Lesbos (Daily Mail)

WNU Editor: This crisis is only going to escalate. Syria military forces launched a major military offensive a few weeks ago that has created a massive refugee crisis that in turn (I predict) will result in many trying to flee to Europe .... 500,000 flee Syrian regime's deadly offensive in Idlib (The Guardian).

Update #2: Refugee camps are always horrible places to live .... A doctor's story: inside the 'living hell' of Moria refugee camp (The Guardian).

US Special Operations Command Now Wants A Fleet Of Light Attack Aircraft Fleet

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 05:44 PM PST

The Air Force in October 2019 announced plans to purchase small numbers of AT-6 (shown at top) and A-29 aircraft (shown at bottom) as part of its light attack experiment. Air Force photos.

Task & Purpose: SOCOM is eyeing a fleet of light attack aircraft for 'armed overwatch'

U.S. Special Operations Command is looking to pick up 75 light attack aircraft to conduct "armed overwatch" missions in conjunction with ground forces, according to new solicitation.

SOCOM plans on holding several industry days with defense contractors in March for the new Armed Overwatch program which is intended to provide U.S. special operations forces with "deployable and sustainable manned aircraft systems" for "close air support, precision strike, and SOF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in austere and permissive environments," according to the Feb. 3 solicitation.

Based on the outcome of those industry days, SOCOM intends to then award a follow-on indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to furnish the command with an expected total of 75 light attack aircraft over a five-year base ordering period, according to the solicitation.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Special Operations Command Now Wanting A Fleet Of Light Attack Aircraft Fleet

SOCOM Announces Plans to Buy 75 'Armed Overwatch' Planes -- Air Force Magazine
US Special Operations Command Now Wants its Own Light Attack Aircraft Fleet --
SOCOM seeking Armed Overwatch planes (Video) -- Defense News

French President Macron Calls For A Coordinated EU Nuclear Defence Strategy

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 05:21 PM PST

France 24: Macron unveils nuclear doctrine, warns EU 'cannot remain spectators' in arms race

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday unveiled his nuclear doctrine advocating a more coordinated European Union defence strategy in which France, the bloc's only post-Brexit nuclear power, and its arsenal would hold a central role.

In a much anticipated speech to military officers graduating in Paris, Macron called on EU member states to play a more direct role in halting a new nuclear arms race, saying they "cannot remain spectators" against a threat to the continent's collective security.

"In the absence of a legal framework, they could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil," said Macron.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: On a side note .... France cut its nuclear arsenal to under 300 warheads (Defence Blog)

More News On French President Macron Calling For A Coordinated EU Nuclear Defence Strategy

Macron urges greater EU role in curbing nuclear threats -- The Local/AFP
Amid arms race, Macron offers Europe French nuclear wargames insight -- Reuters
Macron calls for coordinated EU nuclear defence strategy — with France at centre -- Euronews/AP
France seeks lead post-Brexit role in EU nuclear strategy -- AP
In post-Brexit push, Macron calls for European nuclear arms control agenda -- Euractiv
Macron: Europeans cannot remain spectators in new arms race -- Al Jazeera
France Seeks Leading Role In Post-Brexit EU Nuclear Strategy-- Forces Network
Macron warns that European nations 'cannot remain spectators' in the face of a potential nuclear arms race -- RT

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte Orders The Termination Of The Visiting Forces Agreement With The U.S.

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 05:05 PM PST

The Visiting Forces Agreement allows the US military to send troops for training missions alongside Filipino soldiers. The above file photo from 2002 shows American soldiers at a base in Zamboanga, Philippines

Daily Mail: Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte says he will end defense pact with the US in response to the State Department cancelling the visa of a former police chief accused of illegal killings in his war on drugs

* Philippines expected to terminate Visiting Forces Agreement with Washington
* Defense pact allows US military to send soldiers to train in the Asian country
* Duterte's defense secretary says the president 'is not changing his decision'
* Last month, State Department revoked visa of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa
* Dela Rosa was Duterte's police chief during brutal anti-drug crackdown

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to terminate a security accord that allows the United States military to train with his country's soldiers, according to one of his advisers.

'The president said he is terminating the [Visiting Forces Agreement],' Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted as saying by local Filipino news media on Friday.

'I asked for clarification and he said he is not changing his decision.'

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been threatening to do this for a long time .... Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatens to end U.S. military pact (NBC).

More News On Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte Ordering The Termination Of The Visiting Forces Agreement With The U.S.

Philippines' Duterte moves to terminate defence pact with US -- Al Jazeera
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte strikes another blow at US alliance -- Washington Examiner
"End That Son Of A Bitch": Duterte Moves To Terminate Philippines' Military Pact With US -- Zero Hedge

Major Cuts To The U.S. National Security Council Are Expected This Week

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 04:56 PM PST

Trump speaks to reporters with US hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien after he named O'Brien as his fourth White House national security adviser [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

CNN: Major cuts to National Security Council staff expected as soon as next week, sources say

National security adviser Robert O'Brien is expected to make major cuts to the National Security Council staff as early as next week, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

Some people with knowledge of the impending change previously said once President Donald Trump's impeachment trial had concluded, O'Brien was expected to oust about a dozen or so officials as part of an effort to streamline the NSC, which critics charge has become too large.

O'Brien has largely been downsizing the NSC by attrition and getting staffers detailed to the council from other departments to return earlier than planned to their home agencies, but one of the sources told CNN it looks like the final phase will involve more direct firings and cuts.

"So it's bloated. We're going to bring it back to a size that's manageable and efficient. And look, the folks who are there, they really need to want to serve the President," O'Brien told Fox News' Laura Ingraham Tuesday night.

"What I said when I came to the NSC is that I would drastically downsize it," he added.

Read more ....

Update: US National Security Council Expected to Get Downsized Next Week - Reports (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: National security adviser Robert O'Brien has been making it very clear that he was going to downsize the NSC. This should surprise no one.

Azerbaijans Got To The Polls Today To Elect A New Parliament

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 09:00 AM PST

Radio Free Europe: Azerbaijani Voters Head To Polls In Snap Elections Called By Longtime Ruler Aliyev

BAKU -- Voting continues across Azerbaijan in snap parliamentary elections amid pledges of reform in the wake of a government shakeup by entrenched President Ilham Aliyev.

Meanwhile, irregularities including multiple voting, interrupted video feeds at polling stations, and hindrance or abuse of independent observers were reported in the early hours of voting.

Officials said turnout was around 27 percent by noon local time.

Some opposition parties are not participating in the elections over continued lack of access to fair coverage among government-dominated media. Critics have cast serious doubt on hopes of genuine reforms that might strengthen the country's long-beleaguered opposition.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Aliyev run Azerbaijan as their personal fiefdom. There are no doubts on who is going to win.

Cyberattack Shuts Down A Major Portion Of Iran's Internet

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 08:00 AM PST

Radio Farda: Cyberattack Caused Internet Shutdown In Iran, Official Says

An official of Iran's Telecommunications Infrastructures Company on Saturday said a cyberattack "temporarily" disrupted Internet services but was repelled by Iran's home-grown firewall DEZHFA.

Sadjad Bonabi who made the announcement in a tweet on Saturday morning said the disruption affected some mobile operators as well as home internet providers. According to Bonabi who is a member of the board of directors of the Telecommunication Infrastructures Company owned by the Ministry of Telecommunications, the attack was repelled by DEZHFA, a home-developed firewall.

In a tweet the Internet watchdog Netblocks said that from11:45 a.m. local time the national connectivity in Iran had fallen to 75% after authorities reportedly activated "Digital Fortress" isolation mechanism. Net blocks said the incident is ongoing.​

Read more ....

Update #1: Powerful Cyber Attack Takes Down 25% Of Iranian Internet (Forbes)
Update #2: Iran says foils cyberattack targeting internet providers (AFP)

WNU Editor: It is not related (maybe), but there is now a move within the US Senate to ban Iranian leaders from US social platforms .... Hawkish Senators Demand Twitter 'Obey Sanctions' By Banning Iran's Leaders (Zero Hedge).

Afghan ‘Insider Attack’ Kills 2 US Soldiers, Wounds 6 (Update)

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 07:08 AM PST

FOX News: Afghanistan 'insider attack' leaves 2 US soldiers dead, 6 wounded

Two U.S. soldiers were killed and six were wounded Saturday when American and Afghan troops were fired on during a mission in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials told Fox News.

The casualties occurred when an Afghan wearing an army uniform suddenly opened fire, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. military has not officially called the incident an "insider attack," because the motive remains unclear and the shooter "was not one of the soldiers on the patrol," a U.S. defense official told Fox News.

Such attacks have been frequent occurrences in the nearly two decades U.S. troops have been deployed in the country. In 2012, for example, 25 percent of American military deaths in Afghanistan were caused by allied Afghan forces, military officials have said.

Read more ....

More News On Yesterday's Attack That Killed 2 US Soldiers And Wounding 6

US says 2 soldiers killed, 6 wounded in Afghanistan attack -- AP
Insider attack in Afghanistan kills two American soldiers and Afghan serviceman -- Reuters
Afghan 'Insider Attack' Kills 2 US Soldiers, Wounds 6 Others -- VOA
Two US service members killed in insider attack in Afghanistan -- The Hill
Two US service members killed in Afghanistan attack -- CNN

Tweets For Today

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 06:58 AM PST

Picture Of The Day

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 06:23 AM PST

Staff wearing protective suits check passengers arriving to board a flight, chartered by the U.S. State Department to evacuate Americans and Canadians from China due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in China, February 7, 2020. Among them was Canadian citizen Edward Wang and his mother. He was eager to be back in Canada and nervous about the lack of hospital beds in Wuhan. The outbreak has killed more than 600 people. Courtesy of Edward Wang via REUTERS

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Evacuee's flight out of coronavirus-hit Wuhan (Reuters).

How Lethal Is The Wuhan Coronavirus?

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 06:19 AM PST

A laboratory worker in China. Photo: Xinhua

Jeff Pao, Asia Times: How lethal is the Wuhan virus?

No worse than a 'bad cold' say some experts, but others fear it could kill 14,000 people in Hong Kong alone

Pathologists, microbiologists and public health experts from the University of Hong Kong have expressed different views about the lethality of the Wuhan coronavirus in a bid to help governments shape their strategies against the epidemic.

Based on different scientific evidence and viewpoints, some said the mortality or fatality rate, which indicates the lethality of the Wuhan coronavirus could be as low as 0.6% and that it may go down further if more minor cases are recorded.

Others said even if the mortality rate was between 1-2%, compared with 7% of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Wuhan virus could kill tens of thousands of people due to it being highly contagious.

Read more ....

Update: Is China hiding how bad the coronavirus is? (James Adams, Spectator)

WNU Editor: Here is a worst case analysis on what is happening in China right now .... 50,000 New Coronavirus Infections Per Day in China (Mish Talk).