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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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

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

Fighting In Syria Enters Its Tenth Year

Posted: 18 Mar 2020 02:00 AM PDT

DW: War in Syria enters tenth year

Fighting has entered its tenth year as Russian and Turkish troops began joint patrols of the northwestern Idlib province as part of a fragile ceasefire. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed since the conflict began.

As the world comes to terms with the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing war in Syria entered its tenth year to little fanfare on Sunday.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, the decade-long conflict has displaced 11 million people, killed more than 384,000, including 116,000 civilians, and created an international humanitarian crisis with no end in sight.

Sunday marked the 10-year anniversary of the conflict when demonstrators engaged in an unprecedented anti-government protest.

Read more ....

Update: Brutal war in Syria enters 10th year as Assad regime consolidates power (France 24)

WNU Editor: According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, almost 400,000 people have been killed in this war.

Afghanistan Is Still Among The Countries With A Relatively Low Rate Of Coronavirus Cases

Posted: 18 Mar 2020 01:00 AM PDT

Civil society activists wearing face masks prepare for a campaign to raise awareness of the new coronavirus in Kabul, Afghanistan. AP Photo

Al Jazeera: War-ravaged Afghanistan battles a new threat: coronavirus

As COVID-19 cases are reported in Afghanistan concerns are raised if country's healthcare system can handle an outbreak.

Kabul, Afghanistan - With 22 verified cases so far, Afghanistan is still among the countries with a relatively low rate of coronavirus cases. However, the outbreak of the illness comes at a particularly trying time for the country.

The recent rise in positive cases - six new cases across three provinces in a 48-hour span - has taken some attention from a continuing election dispute that saw the top two finishers each hold an inauguration ceremony last week.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Even the Taliban are voicing concerns .... Taliban sound alarm over coronavirus in Afghanistan (The National). In the meantime, the war continues .... Taliban militants, Afghan forces suffer heavy casualties in Ghor clash (Khaama Press).

Ex-German Army Laptop Filled With Secrets Sold On eBay For $100

Posted: 18 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Classified documents on an old Bundeswehr laptop about the Ozelot air defense system. Der Spiegel

Sputnik: Ex-German Army Laptop Sold on eBay Told Buyer How to Destroy Ozelot Air Defense System

An old laptop once used by the German Army was recently sold on eBay, but the sellers forgot to remove its hard drive first. The buyers, fortunately a team of security researchers, found easy access to documents instructing them how to destroy the army's Ozelot air defense system.

When pawning your old computers, remember to remove or wipe the hard drives first! Germany's Bundeswehr nearly told a random internet buyer how to take down one of its anti-aircraft vehicles; fortunately, the folks who scooped it up were a pair of German security researchers.

Read more ....

Update #1: German Military Laptop Sold on eBay Included Classified Missile Information (The New York Times)
Update #2: Laptop with classified files sold on eBay in German army blunder (The Telegraph)

WNU Editor: Groan. Another major security leak.

Tweets For Today

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 11:00 PM PDT

Video For Today

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 10:30 PM PDT

Mesmerizing Slow Motion Footage Of An F-22 Raptor Manoeuvring

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 10:35 PM PDT

Warzone/The Drive: This Slow Motion Footage Of An F-22 Raptor Maneuvering Is Mesmerizing

The clip shows all the work being done by the Raptor's huge control surfaces and thrust vectoring nozzles to make the maneuvers happen.

After 15 years of operations, the F-22 remains the biggest dog on the air-to-air combat block. One of the many tricks up the Raptor's sleeve is super-maneuverability, which is a result of its high thrust-to-weight ratio, massive control surfaces, fly-by-wire flight control system, and it's two-dimensional thrust vectoring capability. These features combined allow the F-22 to perform incredibly throughout its huge envelope—from flying upwards of 60,000 feet in thin air to rocking and rolling and doing incredible backflips down in the far thicker air. An amazingly well-shot video of an F-22 Demonstration Team jet in action showcases the latter like never before.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Impressive!

Picture Of The Day

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 09:30 PM PDT

Medical workers in protective suits transfer a coronavirus patient from the intensive care unit of the Gemelli Hospital to the Columbus Covid Hospital, which has been assigned as one of the new coronavirus treatment hospitals in Rome, Italy, March 16, 2020. Gemelli Policlinico/Handout via REUTERS

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Italy's hospitals struggle through coronavirus outbreak (Reuters).

Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic In Italy -- News Updates March 17

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 08:39 PM PDT

Daily Mail: Italy's doctors warn of 'catastrophic' situation as coronavirus death toll rises 345 to 2,503 and infections reach 31,506

* Patients who should be in intensive care but are instead slumped in busy wards
* Hospitals which typically provide excellent care were caught flat-footed by virus
* Papa Giovanni hospital in Bergamo is creaking at the seams with case overload

Doctors on the front line of Italy's coronavirus outbreak have described 'catastrophic' scenes in hospitals which are creaking with the sheer volume of cases.

They tell of critically ill patients who should be in intensive care but are instead slumped in busy wards because of a woeful lack of equipment and staff.

Worryingly, the doctors who have spoken out are from state-of-the-art hospitals which typically provide excellent care but were caught flat-footed by the virus which is stretching their capacity to breaking point.

Italy's outbreak - the worst outside of China - spiralled further today as infections hit 31,506 and the death toll jumped 345 to 2,503.

Read more ....

Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic In Italy -- News Updates March 17

Italy struggles to make room for onslaught of virus patients -- ABC News/AP
Italy rushes new doctors into service as coronavirus deaths rise above 2,500 -- Reuters
Italy's death toll from coronavirus tops 2,500 -- The Hill
Italy coronavirus death toll soars past 2,500 after week in full lockdown -- RT
Italy Records More Than 3,500 COVID-19 Cases, 368 Deaths Over Past 24 Hours -- Sputnik
Italy reports one-third of deaths in global coronavirus pandemic -- FOX News
Coronavirus pandemic piles pressure on Italy's health system -- Al Jazeera
Italy will renationalize the struggling Alitalia airline after the coronavirus pandemic brought the carrier to its knees -- Business Insider
'This is like a war': view from Italy's coronavirus frontline -- The Guardian
Coronavirus: What life under quarantine is really like around Italy -- The Local
Why the Coronavirus Hit Italy So Hard -- Wired
Italy will be Europe's canary in the coalmine for the post-Covid economy -- Marchel Alexandrovich, The Guardian

Morgan Stanley And Goldman Sachs Declare A Global Recession Is Already Underway

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 07:39 PM PDT

Daily Mail: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin 'warns unemployment in the US could hit 20 PERCENT' for the first time since 1935: Coronavirus plunges economy into recession with a fifth of workers already losing wages and fears millions will be laid off in days

* Steven Mnuchin reportedly said on Tuesday that unemployment may reach 20%
* The Treasury secretary made the comment during a meeting with US senators
* Mnuchin reportedly said he believes economic fallout from the coronavirus is potentially worse than the 2008 financial crisis
* Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs said a global recession is already underway
* A recession is defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative growth
* New poll finds 18% of US adults have lost jobs or had hours cut due to crisis
* Trump for the first time acknowledged that the US 'maybe' faces recession
* Marriott hotel chain is beginning furloughs for tens of thousands of workers

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has reportedly warned that the US could see an unemployment rate of 20 per cent as the coronavirus plunges the economy into a recession.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that a global recession has already begun due to the spread of COVID-19 as major companies begin laying off employees worldwide and a fifth of US workers say that they have already lost wages due to the crisis.

Mnuchin reportedly made his remarks about the economy during a meeting with senators on Tuesday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I concur with their analysis. Trillions have been lost in the stock markets. Literally every business in Asia, Europe, and the U.S./Canada is impacted. And as for unemployment rates. I cannot help but sense that this 20% rate that US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is talking about is actually a low-ball number. And then there is the nightmare scenario where the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in regions like Latin America, Africa, and the warzones of the Middle East. In that case the disease will always be with us until a safe vaccine has been developed to counter this deadly disease, a frightening prospect since a safe vaccine is projected to be only available by the middle of next year. If that becomes the case, this will not be a recession, it will be a depression that will take a long time for the global economy to bounce back.

Update: I have a lot of friends who own their own business in Montreal. When I think about their current situation, I cannot help but feel that half will be forced to close their doors permanently within three to four months.

More News On Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Declaring A Global Recession Is Already Underway

Morgan Stanley says a global recession in 2020 is now the firm's 'base case' -- CNBC
US entering coronavirus recession: S&P Global -- The Hill
Coronavirus has plunged the world into a recession, according to S&P -- CNN
Morgan Stanley officially says a global recession is now its base case as the coronavirus outbreak escalates -- Business Insider

U.S. Pulling Out Of Three Key Military Bases In Iraq

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 06:43 PM PDT

BBC: Iraq military bases: US pulling out of three key sites

The US army is pulling out of al-Qaim and two other key military bases in Iraq in the coming weeks.

The decision to leave three of its eight bases in Iraq is a sign the US is looking to dramatically reduce its footprint in the country.

It comes amid heightened tensions with the Iraqi government and Iran.

A ceremony will take place this week at al-Qaim, where the US will formally hand over equipment to the Iraqi army to help it ensure security in the area.

It will end any US presence along the Iraqi side of the border with Syria.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Pulling Out Of Three Key Military Bases In Iraq

US hands over base to Iraqi forces in area known to be a hotbed for Iran-backed militia -- Military Times
US troops in Iraq are leaving 3 smaller bases as ISIS threat wanes and tensions with Iran grow -- Task & Purpose
US re-positioning some troops from smaller bases in Iraq following deadly rocket attack -- Military Times
Reports: US to reposition troops in Iraq -- Al-Monitor
Troops from US-led coalition begin leaving Iraq bases, officials say -- RT

Another Rocket Attack On Baghdad's Green Zone, The Fourth Attack On U.S. Forces In Iraq In Days

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 06:19 PM PDT

US soldiers walk near a rocket launcher missile at Basmaya military base in Baghdad. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED AMEEN)

Al Jazeera: Rockets strike Baghdad's Green Zone, fourth attack in days

Projectiles fell 2km from the US embassy and there were no immediate reports of casualties, military official says.

At least three rockets struck Baghdad's fortified Green Zone near the United States Embassy late Tuesday, the fourth such attack in the span of a week.

It came a day after an attack on a training base south of the capital, where US-led coalition troops and NATO trainers were present, Iraqi security officials said.

At least three rockets struck the Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government and home to several foreign embassies, two Iraqi security officials said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. is blaming this Iranian-backed militia .... Kataeb Hezbollah, the shadowy Iranian-backed militia behind attacks on US troops in Iraq (FOX News).

More News On Rocket Attacks Against Coalition Bases In Iraq

Iraqi officials say rockets strike Baghdad's Green Zone -- AP
Rockets strike Iraqi base hosting foreign forces for 3rd time in a week -- Jerusalem Post
Multiple rockets hit Green Zone in Baghdad, US coalition denies attack on Camp Taji -- RT
Iraq Rocked by New Violence as Tensions Escalate Among Soldiers, Militias and Militants -- Newsweek
Pompeo warns US will act in self-defense in Iraq after attacks on troops -- The Hill

Should China Be Blamed For The Expected Global Recession/Depression In 2020?

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 06:21 PM PDT

SCMP: Coronavirus: will Donald Trump blame China for expected global recession in 2020?

* Donald Trump tweet on Monday noted that Washington will support those US industries hit by the 'Chinese virus' outbreak
* Analysts suggest that while China engaged in early cover up of virus, US initial response failure may render blame game ineffective

On Monday, US President Donald Trump posted a tweet suggesting that China was responsible for the global economic damage that will be caused by the coronavirus pandemic, because the virus was first detected there.
The tweet may come to be viewed as the first shot in a blame game between the world's two largest economies, as they look to fault the other for an incoming global recession
that analysts now see as inevitable this year.

That the economy is set to nosedive in a US election year provides greater motivation for Trump to find a scapegoat, as he looks to shore up his domestic support.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China currently has "two big fears/concerns" among the many that they are going through right now. Being blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions from the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and the horrible economic costs that it will inflict on the world. Image and face have always been important to China. This pandemic disaster is a nightmare scenario for how the Beijing government wants the world to see China. Does China deserve this blame. Not really. Pandemics have been, are, and always will be acts of nature. Circumstances bring them about, and we as humans try our best to confront these pandemics as best as we can. We usually fail, but most of us survive, and we forget about them when they have passed until the next one appears and repeat the entire process again.

President Trump And Beijing In A War Of Words Over The 'Chinese Virus'

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 04:30 PM PDT

Daily Mail: 'It DID come from China!' Donald Trump lashes out at Beijing for telling him not to call coronavirus 'Chinese virus' and says it's them who are smearing the U.S. military as the 'source' of pandemic

* Donald Trump said Tuesday that he thinks calling coronavirus the 'Chinese virus' is appropriate because the disease originated in Wuhan, China
* Trump said that 'rather than having an argument,' about where it originated, he would 'have to call it where it came from'
* 'It did come from China. So I think it's a very accurate term,' he said
* Chinese officials are floating the conspiracy that those in the U.S. Army brought coronavirus to China during the Military World Games in Wuhan in October 2019
* When asked about the stigma around calling it the 'Chinese virus,' Trump said the real 'stigma is 'saying that our military gave it to them'
* Trump referred to the coronavirus as 'the Chinese Virus' on Monday
* Beijing condemned Washington of linking the coronavirus with China on Tuesday
* After the comments from China, Trump doubled down, tweeting the term again Tuesday morning
* China and the U.S. have blamed each other as the alleged origin of the disease
* Escalating tensions have seen the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. summoned to the State Department and Mike Pompeo angrily call his Beijing counterpart

Donald Trump said Tuesday that he doesn't think it's inappropriate to call coronavirus the 'Chinese virus' because that's where the disease originated.

The president said during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon that he only started referring to the virus in that way after Beijing blamed the U.S. military for brining coronavirus to China.

'Well China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave this to them. That was false,' Trump asserted in remarks to the press. 'And rather than having an argument, I said I have to call it where it came from. It did come from China.'

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What did the Chinese government expect after accusing the US Army for being responsible for the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and condemning President Trump's tweets on the "Chinese virus". That he would be quiet. Of course not. President Trump always "double-down". And as for the "Chinese virus". I the beginning this was called the "Wuhan virus", a term that this blogger used until the WHO changed it to Covid-19.

More News On President Trump And Beijing Waging A War Of Words Over The 'Chinese Virus'

Trump angers Beijing with 'Chinese virus' tweet (BBC)
US, China trade barbs over coronavirus pandemic (Al Jazeera)
Trump tweets about coronavirus using term 'Chinese Virus' (NBC)
Trump defends use of phrase 'China virus,' despite demands from China to stop (FOX News)

China Expels U.S. Journalists From Wall Street Journal, New York Times And Washington Post

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 04:03 PM PDT

CNBC: China expels journalists from New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post

* China said Tuesday that it will expel American journalists working in the country for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post whose press credentials are due to expire in 2020.
* The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that U.S. reporters for those publications must return their press cards within 10 days.
* The move continues a tit-for-tat battle between Washington and Beijing that began in February after the Journal ran an opinion article with the headline, "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia."

China said Tuesday that it will expel American journalists working in the country for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post whose press credentials are due to expire in 2020.

The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that U.S. reporters for those publications must return their press cards within 10 days.

"They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People's Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions," the statement said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The current Chinese narrative is that the U.S. is to blame for the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic .... China Accuses The U.S. For Starting The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (March 12, 2020). Beijing does not want reporters in their country offering a different narrative. The Chinese government is also responding to recent U.S. moves to limit the activity of Chinese state reporters in the U.S. after China revoked the press credentials of three Beijing-based Wall Street Journal news reporters over an opinion piece which referred to the most populous country in the world as "the real sick man of Asia" in a headline.

More News On China Expelling Journalists From The NYT, WSJ, and The Washington Post

China expels American journalists from 3 US newspapers: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post -- SCMP
China moves to expel journalists from 3 U.S. outlets -- Politico
China announces retaliatory measures on US media outlets -- CNN
China expels US journalists from NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post -- The Hill
Trump administration hits back after China kicks out US journalists amid coronavirus pandemic -- FOX News

Comparing The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic To History's Deadliest Pandemics

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 03:33 PM PDT

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Daily Mail: How coronavirus compares to history's deadliest pandemics: Visual timeline pits COVID-19 against Black Death, smallpox and AIDS - as experts warn current crisis could rival Spanish flu 'in its lethality and scale'

* Shows bubonic plague, also known as Black Death, killed 200million people and most lethal of all pandemics
* 1918 Spanish flu outbreak claimed lives of almost 50million people in just one year after racing around globe
* By comparison, COVID-19 killed more than 7,000 people and infected 182,000 since outbreak in December
* Scientists say the 'scale' and 'lethality' of the virus is on the scale of Spanish flu and warn of lack of vaccine

The true scale of the coronavirus outbreak currently sweeping the world has been laid bare in a visual timeline comparing it to history's most deadly pandemics.

It shows the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, was the most lethal of all diseases, killing roughly 200million people in the 14th century.

Smallpox, the second deadliest pandemic in history, claimed the lives of 56million people over more than 400 years before it was finally eradicated in 1980.

By comparison, COVID-19 has so far killed 7,000 people and infected more than 180,000 since December. But it is still in its early stages.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Black Death's 200 million deaths occurring when the global population was just a fraction of what it is today is a sobering number.

EU Leaders Agree To Close Their External Borders To Limit The Coronavirus From Spreading

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 03:22 PM PDT

CNBC: European Union will close external borders for 30 days to slow coronavirus pandemic

* Leaders of European Union countries have agreed to close the EU's external borders to most people from other countries for 30 days in a new effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
* Movement within European Union member nations will be still be allowed.
* On Monday, Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he was closing his nation's borders to foreigners, with the major exception of U.S. citizens.

European Union member nations agreed Tuesday to close the EU's external borders to most people from other countries for 30 days in a dramatic new effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the planned closings of the massive union's external borders at a press conference.

Movement of people within the European Union's 27 member nations will still be allowed under the restrictions.

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission said the United Kingdom is not applying restrictions to their external borders, even though it had been invited to do so.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The EU is moving to close their external borders in response to EU governments imposing their own controls at their borders .... EU executive warns against border closures as way to curb coronavirus (Reuters).

More News On EU Leaders Agreeing To Close Their External Borders To Limit The Coronavirus From Spreading

Coronavirus: European Union seals borders to most outsiders -- BBC
EU leaders agree to close external borders -- The Hill
The EU shuts its borders to slow the coronavirus crisis -- CNN
Coronavirus: E.U. announces sweeping ban on most nonessential incoming travel -- NBC
EU leaders agree to close external borders to limit coronavirus spreading - President of EU commission -- RT

US Halts Deployment And Recalls Troops From NATO’s Biggest War Exercise In 25 Years

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 02:05 PM PDT

Army Times: Soldiers in Europe for Defender 2020 to return home amid pandemic

U.S. officials are significantly reducing the size and scope of the long-awaited Defender 2020 exercise intended to test the Army's ability to move a division-sized force from U.S. seaports to European training grounds this spring.

The exercise included 20,000 soldiers who were meant to conduct training across 10 European countries. Several linked exercises — Dynamic Front, Joint Warfighting Assessment, Saber Strike and Swift Response — will no longer be conducted, Army Europe officials said Monday.

Approximately 6,000 soldiers had already deployed from the United States to Europe since January, including a division headquarters and an armored brigade combat team.

Read more ....

Update #1: US military curtails another major exercise due to coronavirus pandemic (CNN)
Update #2: US halts deployment & recalls troops from NATO's biggest drill 'Defender Europe 2020' due to coronavirus threat (RT)

WNU Editor: I am willing to bet that right now most soldiers are more focused on the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on them and their families than participating in the Defender 2020 exercises.

President Trump Considering A Full Pardon Of Michael Flynn Citing FBI Missing Files

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:37 PM PDT

Washington Examiner: Trump considering 'full pardon' for Michael Flynn after FBI 'lost' records

President Trump said he is seriously considering a pardon for former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

"So now it is reported that, after destroying his life & the life of his wonderful family (and many others also), the FBI, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, has 'lost' the records of General Michael Flynn. How convenient. I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!" Trump tweeted on Sunday.

Read more ....

Update #1: Trump says he's "strongly considering" full pardon for Michael Flynn (CBS)
Update #2: Donald Trump considering full pardon of Michael Flynn citing missing files (UPI)

WNU Editor: I have been wanting to make a post on this story since Sunday. When I first heard that the jury foreperson was openly and publicly biased against General Flynn before the trial, followed by the Judge  saying that this would not have impacted the case anyway, I then took notice. And now the FBI is admitting that they have LOST their records of General Michael Flynn, the same records that were used to indict him and used to get a plea deal from him?!?!?!? This whole thing stinks. I for one would not be surprised if a full pardon is granted. As for the FBI officials responsible for safe-guarding these files. Who are they and are they being punished? In my book people like this should be demoted or fired.

U.S. Justice Department Drops Plans For A Trial Against Two Russian Firms Accused Of Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:04 PM PDT

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's heavily redacted report is shown during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, June 10, 2019. © REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Politico: Justice Department drops plans for trial over Russian interference in 2016 U.S. election

A judge dismissed charge against two companies tied to "Putin's chef."

The Justice Department is abandoning plans for a looming criminal trial focused on claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

With jury selection set to begin in just over two weeks, prosecutors asked a federal judge to permanently dismiss the charges special counsel Robert Mueller brought two years ago against two Russian firms linked to a St. Petersburg businessman known as Putin's chef, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: When you have bad news that you want buried, you announce it during a crisis like the current Covid-19 pandemic crisis. These charges were bogus when they were first made, and they are still bogus now that the trial has been dropped. Bottom line. The Justice Department did not want to pursue this case in a courtroom, because they knew too well that they did not have any evidence to convict the companies and individuals that they charged. The Russian firms and individuals whose trials have been dropped are now demanding compensation .... 'Russian troll firm' says it has a $50bn grudge to settle with US after indictment dropped by DoJ (RT).

More News On The U.S. Justice Department Dropping Plans For A Trial Against Two Russian Firms Accused Of Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

Feds dropping case for 2 Russian companies in troll probe -- AP
Judge allows US to drop two of 16 defendants in Russian troll farm case brought by Mueller -- CNN
DOJ drops charges against 'Russian trolls' after they dared demand evidence in US court -- RT
DOJ moves to drop charges against Russians accused of funding troll farm -- Axios
Why did the Justice Department drop its prosecution of 2 firms linked to a Putin associate? -- NBC

Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic In Russia -- News Updates March 17, 2020

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 12:43 PM PDT

Daily Mail: Putin says coronavirus is 'under control' as Russia launches hi-tech system to spot empty supermarket shelves and track quarantined citizens

* President Putin visited a new coronavirus information centre in Moscow today
* He told a government meeting after that the situation is 'generally under control'
* Officials at the centre said they can use artificial intelligence and surveillance cameras to monitor supermarket shelves and track quarantined individuals

President Vladimir Putin said the spread of coronavirus in Russia is 'under control' today, after touring a new facility built to spot empty supermarket shelves and to track quarantined citizens.

'We were able to contain mass penetration and spread' of the pandemic, the Russian president told a government meeting.

'The situation is generally under control despite high risk level.'

Putin's comments came after a tour of a new coronavirus information centre in Moscow that is pulling together IT resources including surveillance cameras and artificial intelligence.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here are some of the measures the Russian government is implementing now .... Here's Russia's plan for facing the coronavirus crisis and preventing new infections, point by point (Meduza)

What's my take on the Covid-19 pandemic reaction in Russia. From what I know, read, and talking with friends and family, everyone is taking this crisis seriously. Everyone knows what has happened/happening in China, so the expectation is that the same will happen in Russia. The country has just closed its borders to foreigners, and are advising everyone in Russia to stay home. I know many businesses in Moscow and Saint Petersburg are closing until further notice, and that the highways and major streets in both cities are empty of cars and pedestrians. There are currently 114 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and no deaths. IMHO these numbers are accurate. What strikes me about this crisis is how focused the Kremlin and the media are on telling everyone that if precautions are not taken, the country faces a disaster. If they are trying to scare people, they are succeeding.

Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic In Russia -- News Updates March 17, 2020

Number of coronavirus cases in Russia reaches 114 -- TASS
56 coronavirus cases confirmed in Moscow -- TASS
New Coronavirus Cases in Russia Jump 47% in 24 Hours -- Moscow Times
Russia Temporarily Bans Entry of Foreigners Amid Coronavirus Outbreak -- Reuters
Coronavirus: Russia closes borders until May -- The Independent
Russia Closing Border With Belarus for Travel Amid COVID-19 Outbreak -- Sputnik
Russia begins work on a second 500-bed, speed-build coronavirus hospital as Moscow limits gatherings and closes schools -- Daily Mail
Coronavirus just got real in Moscow: outdoor events banned, schools closed, indoor crowds restricted -- RT
Russia suspends all professional soccer, hockey, and basketball competitions until April 10 -- Meduza
Russian Cabinet, Central Bank Introducing Measures to Minimise Impact of Coronavirus on Economy -- Sputnik
Russia Employs AI and Video Surveillance Against Coronavirus Disruption -- RT
Russian Tourists Trapped in Europe Amid Canceled Flights, Closing Borders -- Moscow Times
Foreign Ministry sets up task force to coordinate repatriation of Russians -- TASS
Putin calls for solidarity and discipline amid coronavirus pandemic risks -- TASS
Q&A: Russia's Anti-Coronavirus Measures -- Moscow Times
Russia Starts Testing Potential Coronavirus Vaccine -- Moscow Times/AFP

U.S. AC-130W Gunship Practices Wiping Out Small Boat Swarms With The U.S. Navy In The Persian Gulf

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 11:58 AM PDT

Warzone/The Drive: Warning To Iran: AC-130W Gunship Practices Slaying Boats With U.S. Navy In The Persian Gulf

The AC-130's massive volume of fire, precision, magazine depth, and sensors make it a ferocious tool for mitigating the threat of small boat swarms.

A U.S. Air Force AC-130W Stinger II gunship recently conducted a first-of-its-kind training exercise in the Persian Gulf with U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes and Cyclone class patrol boats. These assets working together could provide a formidable means of defeating swarms of small boats, such as the ones that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operates in significant numbers. The exercise came just days before Iranian-backed militias killed two U.S. troops and a British servicemember, and wounded more, in a rocket attack that has led to retaliatory American airstrikes and a spike in tensions in the region.

The exercise took place between Mar. 8 and 9, 2020, but the Navy's top command in the Middle East only publicly announced that it had occurred on Mar. 15. It's not clear how many AC-130Ws, P-8As, and Cyclones took part in total, but video and images Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) subsequently released show at least one Stinger II gunship and three of the patrol boats, including the USS Monsoon.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is definitely not lessening tensions between the two countries .... Coronavirus adds new element to rising US-Iran tensions (The Hill).

Iran's State Media Says Coronavirus Pandemic 'Could Kill Millions'

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 11:47 AM PDT

Al Jazeera: Coronavirus pandemic 'could kill millions' in Iran

Stark warning from state TV comes as death toll in the country nears 1,000, with at least 16,000 confirmed cases.

Iran has issued its most dire warning yet about the new coronavirus outbreak ravaging the country, suggesting "millions" could die in the Islamic Republic if people keep travelling and ignore health advisories.

A state television journalist, who is also a medical doctor, gave the warning on Tuesday citing a study by Tehran's prestigious Sharif University of Technology, which offered three scenarios regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, one of the deadliest outside China, where the illness originated.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Good question .... Where Is Iran's Supreme Leader? (The Atlantic).

More News On Iranian State Media Saying That The Coronavirus Pandemic 'Could Kill Millions'

Iran warns virus could kill 'millions' in Islamic Republic -- AP
Iran warns that 'MILLIONS' of its citizens could die from coronavirus -- Daily Mail/Reuters
Iran suffers biggest one-day coronavirus death toll as crisis intensifies in Mideast -- AP
Iran: 'Millions' May Contract Coronavirus as Regime Struggles With Containment -- US News and World Report
Virus toll in Iran climbs as lockdowns deepen across Mideast -- AP
Iran's coronavirus death toll jumps by 113 in a day -- Al Jazeera
Coronavirus kills Iran religious leader as death toll jumps again -- Al Jazeera
Iranian Senior Cleric Dies From Coronavirus As President Says Infections Peak Has Passed -- Newsweek
Iran temporarily frees 85,000 from jail including political prisoners -- Reuters
Virus-hit Iran closes four key religious sites -- AFP
Faithful in Iran storm closed shrines -- The Hill
Iranian police disperse crowds from shrines after Covid-19 closures -- The Guardian
Will coronavirus bring down Iran's ruling elite? -- Israel Hayom
'Virus at Iran's gates': How Tehran failed to stop outbreak -- FOX News/AP

Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic: The Best And Worst Death Case Scenarios In The U.S.

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 09:30 AM PDT

New York Times: Could Coronavirus Cause as Many Deaths as Cancer in the U.S.? Putting Estimates in Context

Although it's impossible to say how many Americans will die because of the new coronavirus, under a reasonable set of assumptions the number of fatalities could be high — potentially in the hundreds of thousands or more.

Deaths on that scale are not easy to grasp. To put the estimates in context, we're comparing the possible toll with other leading causes of death in the United States in 2018, the most recent year with data available. We've started with an estimate from a University of Nebraska public health researcher, Dr. James Lawler, that was recently presented to hospital executives: 480,000 American deaths over the course of the illness known as Covid-19.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The worst case scenario for the U.S. .... 70% infection rate with a 3% mortality rate .... will be 7 million Americans dead. I do not think this worst case scenario is going to happen. The pandemic appears to be levelling off in China and South Korea, and places like Hong Kong and Taiwan have been successful in minimizing the impact of the covid-19 coronavirus. I am confident that countries like the U.S. and Canada will also be successful in minimizing the death rate. But it is going to be a rough few months, and maybe into the next year.

Editor's Note

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 08:59 AM PDT

WNU Editor: I am now in my chalet isolated from everyone. There is a lot of snow. I had to help my neighbour this morning. He had too much snow on his roof, and it was buckling. My hideaway is the chalet below. Some have asked me where I am. It is in St-Donat, 200 kilometers north of Montreal, and I am in a valley with only 4 neighbours scattered around a lake. I just finished setting up my computers in a room that I have made as my office. I suspect that I am going to be here for a long time. Blogging will resume within the hour after I have catch up on what is happening around the world. From what I have read so far. It is all Covid-19 news, and the situation is very grim. My message to everyone is simple. Stay healthy. Sleep and nap a lot. Eat right. And do what is necessary to keep your immune system in top shape.

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