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Friday, February 14, 2020

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

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

US Warship Seizes Suspected Iranian Weapons In The Arabian Sea

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 11:00 PM PST

Reuters: U.S. warship in Arabian Sea seizes suspected Iranian weapons

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy warship seized weapons believed to be of Iranian "design and manufacture," including 150 anti-tank guided missiles and three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, the American military said on Thursday.

In a statement, the military said the guided-missile cruiser Normandy boarded a dhow, a traditional sailing vessel, in the Arabian Sea on Sunday.

"The weapons seized include 150 'Dehlavieh' anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian Kornet ATGMs," the statement said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The seizure of surface to air missiles is what is catching everyone's attention.

More News On A US Warship Seizing Suspected Iranian Weapons In The Arabian Sea

US warship seizes Iranian weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, Navy says -- FOX News
Navy Cruiser Seizes Huge Iranian Arms Cache in Arabian Sea --
US Navy seizes 'Iranian-manufactured' weapons in Arabian Sea raid -- DW
US warship in Arabian Sea seizes suspected Iranian weapons -- Al Jazeera
US warship seizes suspected Iranian weapons in Arabian Sea -- Middle East Monitor
US Navy seizes cache of 'Iranian manufactured' weapons in Arabian Sea – Pentagon (PHOTO, VIDEO) -- RT

Tweets For Today

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 10:30 PM PST

Picture Of The Day

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 10:00 PM PST

Medical workers in protective suits attend to novel coronavirus patients in the ICU of a designated hospital in Wuhan, February 6, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Inside Wuhan, epicenter of China's coronavirus outbreak (Reuters)

Will Leaving Afghanistan Cause Another 9/11?

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 08:53 PM PST

Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. Hamid Mir took this picture during his third and last interview with Osama bin Laden in November 2001 in Kabul. Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri was present in this interview and acted as the translator of Osama bin Laden.

David Roza, Task & Purpose: Will leaving Afghanistan cause another 9/11? Former soldiers and diplomats say no, not necessarily

As the war in Afghanistan drags on, and as President Donald Trump reportedly approves a tentative peace deal with the Taliban, several experts addressed a national security question that has dogged policy makers for years: if the 13,000 American troops still in Afghanistan were to leave, would the country become a launching pad for a second terrorist attack on the scale of September 11, 2001?

That question was brought up at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, where former officials from the U.S. military and State Department agreed that a large military presence in Afghanistan would not be necessary to ensure a second plot against the U.S. on the scale of 9/11 does not unfold. Instead, the officials said the U.S. could rely on diplomacy and its current mix of worldwide counter-terrorism assets to defeat any emerging threats to the homeland.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Taliban and Al Qaeda are still allies. Some Al Qaeda leaders who were involved in 9/11 are still active today, including current Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Taliban control large sections of Afghanistan, and will probably gain more if the US leaves. I am sure that Al Qaeda would take advantage of such a situation, and establish in these Taliban controlled regions bases of operations. Is Al Qaeda still focused on attacking America? They have been saying for years that this is one of their goals, and I believe them. So will leaving Afghanistan cause another 9/11? All that I know is that the Al Qaeda leadership have wanted another 9/11 since 9/11, and if the Taliban do succeed in controlling Afghanistan they will then be one step closer in accomplishing just that. 

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper Says The U.S. Has Secured A Seven-Day Partial Truce With The Taliban

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 08:52 PM PST

DW: US announces 7-day partial truce with Taliban

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an "important breakthrough" in broader negotiations with the Taliban. The US is involved in talks seeking a path to peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

The United States has secured a seven-day partial truce with the Taliban, following talks to negotiate a path to peace in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Thursday.

"The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence," he said.

The announcement was made as NATO defense ministers met in Brussels, and a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani touted "notable progress" in negotiations with the insurgent group.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have zero confidence that this will end the war.

More News On US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's Remarks That The U.S. Has Secured A Seven-Day Partial Truce With The Taliban

US announces partial Taliban truce, Trump says peace deal 'close' -- AFP
U.S. could sign peace deal with the Taliban THIS MONTH if insurgents cut down on violence - opening way to troops getting out of Afghanistan -- Daily Mail
U.S. ready to sign peace deal if Taliban abide by promise to reduce violence -- NBC
US-Taliban talks: Pompeo hails 'pretty important breakthrough' -- BBC
US, Taliban negotiate 7-day reduction in violence: Pentagon -- Al Jazeera
'Notable Progress' Made by US, Taliban in 'Reduction of Violence' Agreement -- Sputnik
US, Taliban Close to 'Reduction in Violence' Agreement -- The Diplomat

U.S. says prepared to help North Korea combat threat from coronavirus

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 08:09 PM PST

North Korean Premier Kim Jae Ryon, right top, has a meeting at the emergency anti-epidemic headquarter in Pyongyang, North Korea, yesterday

SCMP/Reuters: Coronavirus: US ready to allow North Korea sanctions exemption amid outbreak fears

* International organisations have called for 'life-saving intervention' to allow aid to flow into country, which borders China, where virus was first identified
* Personal protective gear and testing kits urgently needed to prepare for possible outbreak, Red Cross says

The United States is "deeply concerned" about the possible impact of a coronavirus outbreak in North Korea and is prepared to facilitate efforts by US and international organisations to contain the spread of the virus there, the State Department said on Thursday.

"We strongly support and encourage the work of US and international aid and health organisations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said after the Red Cross called for an urgent exemption to sanctions on Pyongyang to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

"The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organisations," Ortagus added in a statement.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If the Covid-19 coronavirus takes a hold in North Korea, I agree with all the experts that this will be a disaster. The U.S. offer to help North Korea is the right thing to do.

More News On The Coronavirus Outbreak In North Korea

North Korean cover-up? Officials hold meeting wearing face masks amid claims they are hiding cases of coronavirus in the country - after 'executing a trade worker for ignoring quarantine demands' -- Daily Mail
North Korea 'clearly lying' about coronavirus cases, expert says -- FOX News
The coronavirus has reportedly spread to North Korea. Experts say the country isn't equipped to fight it. -- Business Insider
North Korea's Bizarre Strategies for Tackling the Coronavirus Outbreak -- The Diplomat

Did The Coronavirus Outbreak In China Delayed North Korea's 'Christmas Surprise'?

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 07:46 PM PST

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk after lunch at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Washington Times: North Korea scraps 'Christmas surprise' amid China woes

SEOUL — North Korea has delayed its much-anticipated "Christmas surprise" of a major intercontinental ballistic missile test out of concern that such a provocation — after two years of stop-start nuclear diplomacy — would trigger sharp negative reactions from Washington and the international community.

South Korean analysts, including a high-level defector from the North, say Pyongyang's planning for a launch also has been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak in China, which shares a long border with North Korea and serves as its closest security and economic ally.

"The most friendly country of North Korea — China — is having serious difficulties, and North Korea doesn't want to make things worse," said Lee Gee-dong, vice president of the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul. "I think for the coming three or four months, it will be quite quiet and the North Koreans will not carry out any provocative or dangerous actions against the world."

Read more ....

Update: China's Coronavirus Outbreak Delayed North Korea's 'Christmas' ICBM Launch - Report (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: If the above report is true, it would mean that China knew this was a crisis before Christmas.

Covid-19 News Updates -- February 13, 2020

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 06:55 PM PST

SCMP: Beijing battles 'crisis of Chernobyl proportions' in coronavirus outbreak

* Public fury is growing, with calls for more freedom of speech, but observers don't expect any dramatic changes
* Xi Jinping has been mostly absent from view, as heads start to roll in Hubei province

Right in the centre of China, the city of Wuhan in Hubei province has also been at the heart of some key political events in the country's modern history.

It was where a nationalist revolution began in 1911 that overthrew the Qing dynasty, ending thousands of years of imperial rule. And from where supreme leader Mao Zedong famously swam across the Yangtze River in 1966 at the age of 72, as he launched the Cultural Revolution – a decade of social and political turmoil which left wounds that remain unhealed.

This winter, it was the starting point for an outbreak of a new coronavirus – which causes the disease now officially known as Covid-19 – that has rapidly spread across the country and beyond, claiming the lives of more than 1,300 people and infecting over 59,000 so far.

Read more ....

Covid-19 News Updates -- February 13, 2020

Coronavirus latest updates: death rate in China's Hubei slows after spike – live news -- The Guardian
Latest on coronavirus spreading in China and beyond -- Reuters
WHO scrambling to get details of new cases – as it happened -- The Guardian
China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates -- Al Jazeera

China's coronavirus death toll surpasses 1400, but fewer new cases -- France 24
Coronavirus cases spike in Hubei; death toll hits 1,367 -- UPI
Huge rise in coronavirus cases casts doubt over scale of epidemic -- The Guardian
China's coronavirus death toll surges, fuels speculation cases were under-reported -- France 24
Coronavirus: Beijing purges Communist Party heads in Hubei over 'botched' outbreak response in provincial capital of Wuhan -- SCMP
Coronavirus: Wuhan doctors battle outbreak in nappies as masks rub their faces raw -- SCMP
China reports big rise in coronavirus deaths, WHO sees no 'tip of iceberg' -- Reuters
China's coronavirus spike not necessarily indicative of new trajectory, World Health Organisation says -- ABC News Online
Coronavirus: No change in outbreak despite China spike, WHO says -- BBC
Closed, canceled, downsized: Coronavirus hits Chinese culture -- DW
Coronavirus lockdown in Wuhan means foreign residents with no flight out must sit tight -- SCMP
Singapore's biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases takes tally to 58 -- Reuters
Japan confirms first death of person with new coronavirus -- SMP
Olympics officials: Coronavirus outbreak won't cancel Tokyo Games -- UPI

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 13, 2020

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 06:51 PM PST

Michael O'Hanlon and Steven Heydemann, The Hill: Syria is not a lost cause for the US — but it is getting close

The long-awaited assault in Syria's Idlib province by President Bashar al-Assad's army, backed by Russian airpower and Iranian-sponsored militias, is well underway. Again, the people of Syria are experiencing horrific tragedy. Assad justifies his actions in terms of counterterrorism. But his scorched-earth tactics primarily kill, maim and render homeless innocent civilians, most from the nation's Sunni majority population.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 13, 2020

Deadly clash in Syria a vivid reminder of US troops' ill-defined mission -- Martin Chulov, The Guardian

Too little, too late in Syria, where Turkey undermined the rebellion -- Seth J. Frantzman, The hill

Following Russian expansion, roadblocks in northeast Syria delineate zones of US control -- Dan Wilkofsky, Al-Monitor

Trump's peace plan and the Gulf Arab States' reaction -- David May and Varsha Koduvayur, The Hill

The System for Diagnosing Epidemics Is Failing -- Bloomberg

Is Pakistani intelligence radicalizing Rohingya refugees? -- Zobaer Ahmed, DW

Algeria: 60 years on, French nuclear tests leave bitter fallout -- Elizabeth Bryant, DW

Will the Man in the Funny Hat Replace Merkel? -- Andreas Kluth, Bloomberg View

Is Prague trolling Moscow by honouring slain Putin critic? -- Tim Gosling, Al Jazeera

Bukele's Politicization of the Military Revives Old Fears in El Salvador -- Christine Wade, WPR

Amazon's fight with Trump is about much more than $10bn -- Dave Lee, BBC

World News Briefs -- February 13, 2020 (Evening Edition)

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 06:28 PM PST

SCMP: Coronavirus: Hubei province reports 4,823 new cases and 116 more deaths

* Latest figures follow the roll-out this week of expanded diagnostic criteria amid a purge of party officials in Hubei
* Total mainland cases now at more than 64,627 and deaths at 1,483

China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, reported a further 4,823 cases of the disease early on Friday morning, bringing the total in the mainland to 64,627.

Deaths in the country caused by the disease, now officially known as Covid-19, reached 1,483 after the province's health commission announced a daily increase of 116.

Current as of midnight on Thursday, the figures were the second daily batch to be released since the roll-out of expanded diagnostic criteria, under which a diagnosis based on an analysis of symptoms is considered a confirmed case.

Read more ....


Syrian air defence intercepts missile attack: state media. Syrian air defenses down several missiles from Israel: Syrian state TV.

Syria parliament recognises Armenian genocide.

Turkey threatens force against 'radicals' in Syria's Idlib.

Regime offensive in NW Syria displaces more than 800,000: UN.

Rocket attack hits northern Iraq base hosting US troops.

Iran says it will strike U.S. and Israel if they make the 'slightest error'.

Iran purges reformists as legislative election campaign kicks off.

Iranians feel strain of turmoil and sanctions.

Yemen war: Saudi-led coalition forces face trials over violations.

Boxed in by US and Israel, an ailing Abbas takes defiant stance against Trump peace plan.

'Advanced' hackers targeted Palestinian officials, experts say.


China reports big rise in coronavirus deaths, WHO sees no 'tip of iceberg'. China's coronavirus spike not necessarily indicative of new trajectory, World Health Organisation says.

Singapore's biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases takes tally to 58.

Esper: US, Taliban near seven-day 'reduction in violence' deal.

Trump sees 'good chance' for accord with Taliban by end of month.

North Korea 'clearly lying' about coronavirus cases, expert says.

Coronavirus: US ready to allow North Korea sanctions exemption amid outbreak fears. US offers to help virus efforts in N.Korea.

At least 19 children hurt by shelling at school in Myanmar's Rakhine state: authorities.

Heavy rainfall in Australia fills dams, helps contain fires. Australia's most populous state says fires contained for the first time in nearly six months.


New clashes in Libya despite UN ceasefire call.

Cluster bombs dropped in Libyan capital.

African countries braced for 'inevitable' arrival of coronavirus.

WHO extends global emergency for Ebola in DRC.

Mali army returns to former rebel bastion Kidal in symbolic move.

Malawians urge electoral commission's chairwoman to resign.

Buhari booed over burning of Nigerian motorists.

Ramaphosa admits South Africans' 'trust deficit'.

Hunger stalks southern Africa as climate crisis deepens.

Amnesty International: Somali journalists suffer killings, attacks and threats.

IMF, World Bank say Somalia eligible for debt relief.


EU crisis center monitors coronavirus outbreak, offers aid to China.

Irish general election: Fianna Fáil rules out Sinn Féin talks.

Belgium weighing French military mission in Mali: minister.

UK PM Johnson's meeting with Trump postponed until June: the Sun.

London's 'Big Ben' tower more badly damaged by Nazi bombs than thought.

Amsterdam looks to bar foreign visitors from buying cannabis.


US Senate votes to curb Trump's war powers on Iran.

Trump says he might keep others from listening in on calls.

Trump says Romney should have voted the same way on both impeachment articles 'if it was just the religion'.

AG Barr says Trump tweets 'make it impossible for me to do my job'.

Sanders builds double-digit national lead: poll.

Venezuela holds uncle of opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro names active-duty general as chief of staff.


Blast kills another Pakistani Taliban leader in Afghanistan.

Brussels seeks to bring home children of Belgian jihadists in Syria.

USS Cole bombing: Sudan agrees to compensate families.


Shares step back as hopes of early end to coronavirus fade.

Huawei, Meng face new US charges of trade secrets theft.

IEA: Global oil demand will fall in Q1 for first time in years.

Airbus reports billions in losses after corruption fines.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 13, 2020

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 04:40 PM PST

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, sits on the flight line, Oct 24, 2019. Consistent training and exercising validates the B-2's ability to respond to challenges all over the globe. (Sr. Airman Thomas Barley/Air Force)

Defense News: The Air Force is massively scaling back a major upgrade for the B-2 stealth bomber

WASHINGTON — After years of delays and technical issues, the Air Force is restructuring a key B-2 modernization program, transforming it from a suite of technologies meant to help the bomber evade Russia and China into a less ambitious cockpit display upgrade.

In the Air Force's fiscal year 2021 budget request, the service zeroes out the Defensive Management System Modernization program, or DMS-M, over the next five years. Instead, it intends to put about $155 million toward a cockpit upgrade that will include a more advanced graphics processor and modernized displays.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 13, 2020

B-2 Stealth Bombers Are Getting Upgraded Cockpits as DoD Seeks Billions for B-21 Build -- Sputnik

For F-22 and F-35 demo pilots, aggressive manoeuvres are just part of the job -- Flight Magazine

US service member killed in non-combat incident in Afghanistan -- The Hill

DoD looks to divert $3.8B from weapons programs to border wall -- UPI

FIRE!: The Navy's New Torpedo Will Make American Submarines Even Deadlier -- National Interest

Navy preps stealthy USS Zumwalt for new lasers, missiles and guns -- FOX News/Warrior Maven

Bataan ARG and 26th MEU complete passage through Strait of Hormuz -- UPI

Raytheon nabs $35.9M for work on Navy's over-the-horizon missile system -- UPI

Army to invest $3B in new handheld radios -- C4ISRNet

The Army's Anti-Tank Javelin Missiles Are Getting A Range Upgrade -- National Interest

The Army is offering select Green Berets up to $100,000 to stay in the service -- Task & Purpose

Pentagon seeks to cut F-35s, other equipment to pay for Trump's border wall -- Defense News

Judge temporarily blocks Microsoft Pentagon cloud contract after Amazon suit -- CNBC

Top Armed Services Republican: Pentagon using $3.8B on border wall 'requires Congress to take action' -- The Hill

Pentagon Mulls Space National Guard Options -- Air Force Magazine

US national security concerns return to spotlight as new investment regulations set in -- SCMP

In standoff with Iran, U.S. sailors say the threat level was unlike anything they had seen in years -- Washington Post

China threatens Pacific stability, US commander warns, citing 'military intimidation and outright corruption' -- SCMP/Reuters

US sends three aircraft along Taiwan Strait after back-to-back Chinese drills near Taiwan -- Stars and Stripes

NATO plans expanded training mission in Iraq -- Defense News

NATO eyes boosting Iraq army training, still needs Iraq's OK -- Military Times/AP

Munich Report: NATO funding quarrels mask a more sinister threat to the Alliance -- Defense News

Russia alarmed by U.S. Air Force visit to Norwegian island -- Reuters

Aircraft Carriers: This Icon Of U.S. Power Is More Sinkable Than Ever But Hard To Kill Off -- Investors Business Daily

India's Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant Set for 2022 Commissioning -- Naval News

Mystery as Royal Navy's £3.1bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth set to slink back to Portsmouth at 4am -- Posrtmouth News

A new anti-drone system shows promising results -- Asia Times

You Can't Stop This Fighter Jet: Why Israel's Air Force Rules -- National Interest

War on Autopilot? It Will Be Harder Than the Pentagon Thinks -- Patrick Tucker, Defense One

U.S. Senate Passes Resolution To Limit President Trump's War Powers On Iran (Update)

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 02:55 PM PST

CNN: Senate passes Iran War Powers resolution despite Trump's opposition

Washington (CNN)The Senate passed an Iran War Powers resolution on Thursday, a rare measure that was approved with bipartisan support despite the fact that it has been opposed by President Donald Trump and aims to rein in his ability to use military action against Iran without congressional approval.

The vote was 55-45. Eight Republicans voted in favor of it: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Todd Young of Indiana, Mike Lee of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

The President warned the Senate not to green-light the measure on Wednesday, tweeting that "it is very important for our country's security that the United States Senate not vote for the Iran War Powers Resolution," and adding, "If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day."
The White House has also issued a veto threat against it.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Senate Passes Resolution To Limit President Trump's War Powers On Iran

Senate moves to limit Trump on military force against Iran -- AP
U.S. Senate rebukes Trump, votes to limit Iran warmaking ability -- Reuters
Senate votes to limit Trump's war powers on Iran, presidential veto expected -- France 24
Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran -- The Hill
Senate votes to limit Trump's military authority against Iran -- Politico

German Government Approves Funds For A New Fighter Jet

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 01:25 PM PST

DW: Bundestag approves funds for German-French fighter jet

Germany has voted to pay €77 million for the first prototypes of a "new generation fighter" for European armed forces. The country's defense minister has called it a concrete step towards European security.

Bundestag lawmakers approved on Wednesday the initial funds for a transnational project with France to create a new fighter jet and develop a program aimed at bringing together European military forces.

Representatives in German parliament's lower chamber signed-off on loans worth €77 million ($83 million) to build the first sets of the "new generation fighter." France is expected to contribute the same amount.

The research initiative forms an important part of Germany's joint Future Combat Air System (FCAS) with Spain and is part of a wider plan to draw back on the European Union's long dependency on US aircraft, drones and satellites.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Germans and French have high hopes for this future fighter .... What If the EU Got a Franco-German Stealth Fighter Superior to the F-35? (National Interest).

Report: 415 Million Children Grow Up In War Zones

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 12:56 PM PST

DW: 415 million children grow up in war zones, Save the Children reports

Children face a greater risk than ever before of growing up surrounded by war, sexual abuse and recruitment into armed groups, a study by the charity Save the Children reported. Children in Africa are the most affected.

Nearly one in six children around the world — 415 million children in all — were living in a conflict zone in 2018, more than double the figure recorded in 1995, according to a report released Thursday by Save the Children.

"It's staggering that the world stands by while children are targeted with impunity," the charity's chief executive Inger Ashing said in a statement. "Since 2005, at least 95,000 children were recorded to have been killed or maimed, tens of thousands of children abducted, and millions of children denied access to education or health services after their hospitals were attacked."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The 'Save The Children" report is here .... Stop The War On Children (Save The Children).

More News On The 'Save The Children" Report That 415 Million Children Are Growing Up In War Zones

'We must all do more' to protect children in armed conflict: UN chief -- UN News
More than 400 million children living in war zones: report -- Sydney Morning Herald
UN chief says there's 250 million children living in conflict-affected nations -- NYPost/AP
Stop the war on children 2020: Gender matters -- Relief Web

National Security Adviser Confirms That Cuts Are Underway At The White House's National Security Council

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 12:33 PM PST

Zero Hedge: NSC Chief O'Brien Confirms Staffer Bloodbath After Vindmans Expelled

National Security Adviser told a room full of Atlantic Council attendees on Tuesday that significant cuts were under way at the leak-prone White House National Security Council, confirming a Monday report in the Washington Examiner that up to 70 positions would be cut.

While O'Brien pitched it as a return to "a manageable size," he didn't mention what the Examiner reported - namely, that most of the cuts would be Obama-era holdovers such as anti-Trump impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, 44, and his twin brother Yevgeny, who were fired from the NSC last week and escorted out of the White House by security.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien does have a point that American foreign policy is not run (and should not be run) by Lieutenant Colonels .... 'We are not a banana republic': National security adviser defends Vindman dismissals (Politico). So this begs an answer .... they were there for three years, so who was running foreign policy, at least in regards to Ukraine.

U.S. Military Tracking Russian Government News Agencies For Disinformation On Coronavirus

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 12:17 PM PST

Prime Minister Mishustin closed Russia's border with China to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency

Newsweek: Exclusive: Documents Reveal U.S. Military is Tracking Russian Government News Agencies For Disinformation on Coronavirus

The U.S. military is bracing for possible Russian disinformation regarding the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Department of Defense documents obtained by Newsweek.

Military planners are actively tracking disinformation campaigns promulgated by accounts operated by — or attributable to — the Russian government. Between January 28 and February 3, the "coronavirus" hashtag was the most used by major Russian news Twitter accounts, according to the documents.

Information about the new coronavirus flooding social media was cause for concern among World Health Organization (WHO) officials who said they were working to diminish an "infodemic." Such campaigns, while not uncommon, are an obstacle for implementing an effective response, those officials said.

But the documents obtained by Newsweek more broadly reveal U.S. military efforts to track and detail social media during a heated election year as cyber officials at U.S. Cyber Command are anticipating further Russian meddling in the 2020 presidential elections which could rival Kremlin efforts in 2016.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have been following this story since the beginning. For now the Russian government news agencies have been saying the same thing as everyone else.

The 56th Munich Security Conference To Discuss Coronavirus, Nuclear Weapons, And 5G

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 12:00 PM PST

CNBC: Coronavirus, nukes and 5G will be hot topics as global leaders gather in Germany

* More than 500 global leaders will gather in Germany over the weekend to discuss everything from the development of 5G networks to nuclear weapons to the recent coronavirus outbreak.
* The 56th Munich Security Conference brings together more than 35 heads of state, 100 foreign and defense ministers as well as leaders from business and international organizations.
* Attendees include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

MUNICH — More than 500 global leaders gather here over the weekend to discuss everything from the development of 5G networks to nuclear weapons to the recent coronavirus outbreak.

The 56th Munich Security Conference, held at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel, brings together more than 35 heads of state, 100 foreign and defense ministers as well as leaders from business and international organizations. The conference will run Friday through Sunday.

This year's attendees include French President Emmanuel Macron, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Coronavirus will be the number one issue discussed in this summit.

U.S. Military Now Preparing For A Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 08:19 AM PST

Military Times: US military prepping for coronavirus pandemic

U.S. Northern Command is executing plans to prepare for a potential pandemic of the novel coronavirus, now called COVID19, according to Navy and Marine Corps service-wide messages issued this week.

An executive order issued by the Joint Staff and approved by Defense Secretary Mark Esper this month directed Northern Command and geographic combatant commanders to initiate pandemic plans, which include ordering commanders to prepare for widespread outbreaks and confining service members with a history of travel to China.

The Navy and Marine Corps messages, issued Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, reference an executive order directing U.S. Northern Command to implement the Department of Defense Global Campaign plan for Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Diseases 3551-13.

The document serves as the Pentagon's blueprint for planning and preparing for widespread dispersion of influenza and previously unknown diseases.

Read more ....

Update: Coronavirus update: US military prepare for pandemic as first London case is confirmed (Express)

WNU Editor: People are getting nervous.

North Korea Executes Official Who Broke Coronavirus Quarantine

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 07:27 AM PST

Daily Mail: North Korea 'executes trade official for visiting a public bath while he was in quarantine over coronavirus fears after returning from China'

* South Korean media said the trade official was arrested and immediately shot
* Kim Jong-un has imposed military law to enforce the coronavirus quarantine
* North Korea has no confirmed cases but has taken strict quarantine measures

A North Korean official has been executed for going to a public bath while he was meant to be in quarantine, a report in the South has claimed.

The trade official was arrested and immediately shot after risking the spread of coronavirus by visiting the public bath, the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported.

The official had been placed in isolation after travelling to China with Kim Jong-un imposing military law to enforce the lockdown, sources said.

North Korea has not yet confirmed any cases of the virus, but has taken drastic measures to stop it spreading over its border with China.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: North Korea is not messing around with this disease.

Editor's Note

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 07:22 AM PST

Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted later today.

Tweets For Today

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 07:19 AM PST

Picture Of The Day

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 06:39 AM PST

A police officer wears a mask as he walks in front of the Oriental Pearl Tower in Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, China, February 5. REUTERS/Aly Song

WNU Editor: OMG!!! That is Shanghai's financial district. This is unprecedented in modern times. We are seeing a country shutting-down completely. The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... China's empty streets amid coronavirus fears (Reuters).

Sick Instagram Pranksters Dressed In Hazmat Suits Cause Havoc On New York Subway Train

Posted: 13 Feb 2020 06:32 AM PST

Daily Mail: Sick Instagram pranksters dressed in hazmat suits cause havoc on New York subway train by pretending to spill coronavirus (which was actually Kool-Aid)

* David Flores and Morris Cordewell donned hazmat suits for their subway prank
* Cordewell, holding a bucket with biohazard markings, spills liquid on the floor
* Concerned passengers jumped out the way but others realized it was not a virus
* Prank comes as the death toll soared over 1,100, with 45,000 infected globally

Two Instagram pranksters have outraged New Yorkers by pretending to contaminate a subway carriage with coronavirus.

David Flores and Morris Cordewell donned hazmats suits for the stunt while holding a container filled with liquid that had biological hazard markings on it.

In the video Cordewell gets up and spills the liquid over the floor as train passengers quickly jump out of harm's way. However, it turns out their bucket contained Kool-Aid juice.

The latest prank comes as the coronavirus death toll soared to over 1,100, with more than 45,000 infected around the world. That includes 12 with the virus in the US.

Read more ....

Update: Teen pranksters pretend to spill coronavirus on NYC subway (NYPost)

WNU Editor: Ten years ago I caught a flu-like bug after visiting Mexico/California that kept me bedridden for almost 3 months. In the first week of the infection I was so sick and weak that on one of those days I lost my will to live. It is the only time that I have ever felt that way, and one that I do not want to repeat. What I learned from that experience is that this is how diseases like pneumonia, Covid-19, etc. kill people. They sap your will to live, and once your body understands that you do not want to live, it quickly accommodates you.

That is why Covid-19 is not a joking manner, and why it is very deadly. It destroys your respiratory system, and it drains your will to live. I am now hearing and reading reports from China that if you have to be admitted into a hospital with Covid-19, the mortality rate is an astounding 20%. I am also reading that it takes a long time to recover from this disease. So what does this all mean? We are not at the end of this disease spreading and/or levelling off, we are at the beginning of what will probably become a worldwide pandemic that many experts have been fearing for a long time.

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