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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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

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


Tweets For Today

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 10:00 PM PST











Picture Of The Day

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 09:30 PM PST

U.S. Marines raise the American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, 1945. This month marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima, which saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War Two take place on a small Japanese island 745 miles south of Tokyo. U.S. Marine Corps/Private Bob Campbell/via REUTERS

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... 75 years since the Battle of Iwo Jima (Reuters).

Russian President Putin Has Fired Long Term Aide Vladislav Surkov

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 09:00 PM PST

Vladislav Surkov © Alexei Druzhinin/TASS

TASS: Putin removes Surkov from presidential aide office

The order is effective on the day of signing

MOSCOW, February 18. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an executive order to release Vladislav Surkov from the position of his aide, the Kremlin's press service said.

"To relieve Vladislav Surkov from the position of the aide to the Russian president," the order reads.

The order also notes that it is effective on the day of signing.

Surkov was appointed Putin's aide in September 2013. He headed the Russian Presidential Directorate for Social and Economic Cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States Member Countries, the Republic of Abkhazia, and the Republic of South Ossetia. Following the coup d'etat in Ukraine in winter 2014, he was also put in charge of the Ukrainian policy and issues of the Donbass settlement. He took part in preparations for Normandy Four meetings and was engaging in contacts with the US Department of State representatives on the Ukrainian crisis issues.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is big news. Known as the Kremlin's Grey Cardinal, he has been with Putin since the beginning. His departure, like that of former Prime Minister Medvedev last month, is a signal to me that big changes are underway in the Kremlin. What are those changes? IMHO it all revolves around President Putin positioning himself to stay in power, and removing those who he feels will be an obstacle to him.

More News On Russian President Putin Firing Long Term Aide Vladislav Surkov

Putin orders to remove Surkov from Russian presidential aide office -- RT
Vladislav Surkov: Russia's Putin dismisses secretive adviser -- BBC
Putin sacks prominent Kremlin ideologue, Ukraine hardliner -- Reuters
Putin Fires Longtime Aide, Ex-Ukraine Peace Negotiator Surkov -- RFE

Will The US Navy Bring Back Diesel Submarines?

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 08:00 PM PST

Reuters

Robert Farley, National Interest: Why It Is Past Time for the Navy to Bring Back Diesel Submarines

Silent and deadly.

Key point: AIP works well and is arguably more stealthy than nuclear power. If America wants more affordable submarines, it should look into building AIP boats.

Over the past decade, air-independent propulsion (AIP) for submarines has spread rapidly around the world. The technology, which allows conventionally powered submarines to operate without access to outside air, has the potential the shift the balance away from the big nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) that have dominated undersea warfare since the 1950s, and back towards small conventional boats. In global terms, this might again make submarines the great strategic equalizer; small, cheap weapons that can destroy the expensive warships of the world's most powerful navies. Does this mean that the United States should invest in these kinds of boats? Probably not.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The US Navy wants subs that can travel quickly and go anywhere around the world. So they will stick with nuclear subs. But many there is some room for a few diesel subs. IMHO it is an idea that should be explored more deeply.

An Undeclared Submarine Arms Race Is Underway In Asia

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 07:30 PM PST


Forbes: Undeclared Submarine Arms Race Takes Hold In Asia

Since its inception at the turn of the 20th century, the submarine has been the ace asymmetrical weapon. It has allowed smaller navies to stand up to the most powerful, and the powerful ones stay on top. Today, arguably, they are the most potent weapon platform on the planet. (Aircraft carrier fans may disagree!) And almost every navy in Asia wants them.

When we talk about submarine arms races in Asia, the big players are China, Australia, Japan and India. And the list goes on: Pakistan, South Korea and Singapore all have high-tech submarine capabilities. But there is another less discussed submarine revolution taking place. Virtually all the smaller navies in the region are also building up submarine capabilities. This is the part of an undeclared arms race which is changing the shape of the submarine threat worldwide.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Submarines are not the only weapons systems that are fuelling an arms race in Asia .... This Is Why Military Spending Is Soaring In The Asia-Pacific Region (June 8, 2019).

Iran Is Still Scrambling To Recover From General Suleimani's Death

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 07:11 PM PST

Iranian General Qassem Soleimani

Martin Chulov and Dan Sabbagh, The Guardian: After Suleimani: Iran's scramble to recover from general's death

Loss of revered Quds Force commander and his aides has derailed country's momentum in region.

In the early hours of 3 January, Iraq's prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, frantically phoned his advisers. "Something big has happened," he said, summoning them to a meeting in his office. "You need to come now."

Like their boss, the advisers had heard the boom of the explosions that crunched into the airport road just after 1am, and their phones had been ringing incessantly. Each call had brought the unthinkable closer to shocking reality: Qassem Suleimani, the revered commander of Iran's Quds Force and the most powerful man in Iraq, had been killed, and so had nearly all of his closest aides. Throughout 17 years of post-Saddam Hussein bedlam across the Middle East, there had been little to rival this moment.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Everyone is replaceable. But some take a bit longer to be replaced. Qassem Soleimani is one of those men.

Kurdish Leader: ISIS Now 20,000 Fighters In IRaq And Syria

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 06:51 PM PST

ISIS has 20,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, double the number it had when it started capturing territory across the region in 2014, a Kurdish leader has warned (file image)

Daily Mail: ISIS has DOUBLE the number of soldiers across Iraq and Syria than it did when it swept through the region in 2014, Kurdish leader warns

* Trump has proclaimed 'victory' over ISIS, wants to withdraw from Middle East
* But Kurdish leader Masrour Barzani warns the group is rallying for a comeback
* Terrorists have 20,000 fighters, he claims, double the number they had when they began capturing territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014
* Terror group is also thought to have a war chest of $300m to wage attacks with

ISIS has double the number of soldiers it had when it began capturing territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014 and is poised for a comeback, a Kurdish leader has warned.

Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, issued the stark warning amid moves by President Trump to withdraw US troops from the region after years of fighting.

While ISIS has lost all of its territory and much of its leadership, Barzani believes the terror group still has 20,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria and is trying to recruit more.

Read more ....

Update: ISIS is Poised for a Comeback as it Doubled its Troop Number (Albawaba)

WNU Editor: I am sure there are many in the region that support ISIS. But 20,000 ISIS soldiers?!?!?! I have some doubts.

Update #2: A sobering analysis on ISIS .... The Inconvenient Truth About ISIS (Mike Giglio and Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic)

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 18, 2020

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 05:35 PM PST

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets supporters during a ceremony in Istanbul, June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Kamal Alam, National Interest: The Turkish Trap: How Erdogan Made New Enemies and Enraged the Arab Community

As Recep Erdogan sends Turkish troops and Syrian rebel fighters into Libya, it has become clear that the Syrian forces Turkey-backed were never meant to fight for Assad but instead do Turkey's bidding.

As the Syrian military backed by the Russian air force takes another strategic town in Idlib, thereby inching closer towards the Turkish border, the endgame for Turkey in Syria has begun. The Syrian government has also taken the key highway that links Damascus to Aleppo and secured Aleppo from the incoming Turkish backed rebel artillery. Diplomatically the first acknowledged meeting between the Turkish and Syrian intelligence chiefs in Moscow just over a week ago heralded the final act in Erdogan's quest to knock over President Bashar al-Assad. Not only has he failed in dislodging Assad, but he has also failed to convince the Russians to see the Turkish perspective.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 18, 2020

Is Turkey planning to curb radicals in Idlib under strategy shift? -- Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor

Aging Shiite cleric a powerhouse in Iraq. What comes after? -- Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Mariam Fam, AP

It's not too late for Lebanon: A view from the ground -- Sasha Toperich and John Craig, The Hill

How coronavirus turned the Diamond Princess cruise into a floating quarantine facility -- ABC News Online

How China, Singapore differ in battling Covid-19 -- Joseph Nathan, Asia Times

Global Impact: China's 1989 vs. Hong Kong's 2019 -- Jeffrey Wasserstrom, RCW

Is Political Change Coming to China? -- Yuen Yuen Ang, Project Syndicate

Can the EU's new arms-embargo mission to Libya be effective? -- Barbara Wesel, DW

Libya's rival factions dig in for long conflict -- Middle East Monitor

Is the US heading to the front lines of European defence? -- John Psaropoulos, Al Jazeera

Can US export controls on chips stop Huawei? -- David P. Goldman, Asia Times

So, can hackers take over a satellite? -- William Akoto, Navy Times

World News Briefs -- February 18, 2020 (Evening Edition)

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 05:01 PM PST



Reuters: Coronavirus cases in China's Hubei fall for second day, Apple and markets feel impact

BEIJING/GENEVA (Reuters) - New coronavirus cases in the Chinese province at the epicenter of the outbreak fell for a second straight day, but deaths rose after the World Health Organization had cautioned there was not yet enough data to know if the epidemic had slowed.

Hubei reported 1,693 new cases as of Tuesday, down from 1,807 the previous day and the lowest number in the province since Feb. 11. But deaths rose by 132, up from 93 the previous day. The latest figures bring the total number of cases in China to over 74,000 with about 2,000 deaths.

The head of a leading hospital in China's central city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, died of the disease, becoming one of the most prominent victims since the novel virus first appeared at the end of last year.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Russia and Turkey agree on more talks on Syria amid crisis.

Almost 900,000 Syrians are displaced with nowhere to go amid conflict in north-west, UN says. 'A horrifying new level': UN says 900,000 displaced in northwest Syria since December.

Syria conflict: UN says Idlib displacement 'overwhelming' relief effort.

Turkey deploys 300 military vehicles to Idlib amid conflict with Syria - reports.

Tribal forces in eastern Yemen clash with Saudis.

Khamenei says voting in Iran's election 'a religious duty'. 'No way!': disgruntled Iranians say they'll boycott poll.

UAE: Arab world's first nuclear power plant raises stakes in the Persian Gulf.

Jerusalem: Jordan condemns Israeli Western Wall railway plan.

Jerusalem court sets March 17 start date for Netanyahu corruption trial.

Turkish court acquits defendants in landmark Gezi Park protests trial.

ASIA

New virus cases in China fall for 2nd day, deaths top 2,000.

Mainland China reports 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Feb. 18.

China's Hubei province reports 132 new coronavirus deaths on Feb. 18.

Decrying 'propaganda,' US tightens rules on China state media.

Afghanistan presidential election: Ashraf Ghani re-elected.

Exclusive: US-Taliban ceasefire to begin on Feb. 22. Peace deal with US to be signed by months' end, Taliban says. Taliban confirms Afghan peace deal 'finalized,' will be signed this month.

China says mainland death toll from coronavirus reaches almost 1,900.

China's economy won't be overwhelmed by virus epidemic: Xinhua China takes new steps to help revive coronavirus-hit economy.

North Korea health minister reports 'zero' COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk.

Exclusive: China's systematic tracking, arrests of Uighurs exposed in new Xinjiang leak.

Uighur whistleblower: China is 'arresting people without any reason'.

Japan's economy shrinks at fastest rate since 2014.

AFRICA

UN demands 'independent, impartial' probe of Cameroon deaths.

Tripoli government suspends Libya talks after Haftar attacks Tripoli port.

European Union agrees to set up warships to enforce Libya arms embargo.

Libyans mark 9 years since start of uprising that removed Gaddafi.

UN envoy: Impact of long Libya war on civilians 'incalculable'.

Locust swarms: South Sudan latest to be hit by invasion.

Niger aid stampede: At least 20 killed in Diffa.

Pompeo arrives in Ethiopia to finish 3-nation Africa tour. Pompeo touts US investment as alternative to Chinese loans on Africa trip.

Lesotho leader's wife's murder trial to start next month.

EUROPE

Europe resists mounting US pressure on Huawei 5G technology.

Ukraine conflict: Deadly flare-up on eastern front line. Ukrainian soldier killed, several wounded in Donbass flare-up.

Coronavirus: Germany hopes to contain COVID-19.

Slovak far-right leader on trial for hate speech may play election kingmaker.

Dutch appeals court reinstates $50B award against Russia.

Sex video throws Macron's party into turmoil ahead of Paris elections.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's health improving in prison, spokesman says.

Government buildings will not have to fly flag for Prince Andrew's birthday.

AMERICAS

Trump commutes Blagojevich sentence, pardons junk bond king Milken.

Sanders opens 12-point lead nationally: poll.

Bloomberg set to debate in Nevada after qualifying in new poll.

U.S. blacklists unit of Russian oil giant to hurt Venezuela's Maduro.

Dominican Republic poll halted after electronic glitch.

Brazil's gangs: Militias expanding control in Rio de Janeiro.

Costa Rica makes biggest ever cocaine haul.

Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy over sex abuse lawsuits.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Pakistan confirms escape of ex-Pakistan Taliban spokesman.

Suicide bomber kills eight in Pakistan.

China's 'war on terror' pulls apart Uighur families, leaked database shows.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Dow, S&P 500 decline after Apple's sales warning.

HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide as profits plunge.

Donald Trump blasts proposed restrictions on China trade, wants China to buy US jet engines.

Apple warns on coronavirus — it won't meet revenue guidance because of constrained iPhone supply and suppressed demand in China.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion to fight climate change.

Fighting Flares Up Again In Eastern Ukraine

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 04:25 PM PST

Ukrainian troops fighting in the Luhansk region, Jan 2015

BBC: Ukraine conflict: Deadly flare-up on eastern front line

Ukraine says its troops on the eastern front line have come under heavy shelling during a rebel attack, with one soldier killed and four wounded.

It says four rebel soldiers were killed and six injured.

Russian-backed rebels say Ukrainian forces tried to break through their lines and got caught in a minefield, with two killed and three wounded.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the rebel "provocation" would not derail Kyiv's course to achieve peace.

The violence puts new pressure on a shaky ceasefire deal.

Read more ....

More News On The Ukraine War

Fighting flares in eastern Ukraine, Kiev and rebels blame each other -- Reuters
Ukrainian soldier killed, several wounded in Donbass flare-up -- Al Jazeera
Soldier killed as violence flares-up in eastern Ukraine -- Euronews/AFP
Heavy fighting erupts in separatist-held eastern Ukraine -- The Telegraph
Ukraine, Russia-Backed Separatists Trade Accusations Over Latest Deadly Clashes -- RFE

UN-Backed Government In Libya Suspends Talks After Tripoli Port Attack

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 03:35 PM PST

The Turkish ship was allegedly carrying armaments for fighters in Tripoli. Reuters

The National: Turkish ship carrying weapons destroyed at Tripoli port, Libyan National Army claims

UN holds peace talks with rival military officers in Geneva, who refuse to meet in the same room.

A Turkish cargo ship said to be carrying weapons was shelled while docked at Tripoli port in Libya on Tuesday as the UN held talks with military leaders of the country's rival factions in Switzerland.

The forces of eastern commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar claimed responsibility for the attack and said the boat was destroyed.

Field Marshal Haftar's Libyan National Army launched an offensive last April on the capital, where the UN-backed Government of National Accord is based and defended by militias.

While the airport in Tripoli has often been a target, it is rare for the seaport to come under attack.

Read more ....

More News On The Libyan War

Haftar's forces hit Tripoli port as Geneva ceasefire talks resume -- Al Jazeera
UN Libya envoy says Tripoli port was attacked on Tuesday -- Reuters
Libyan General Haftar's forces claim they've bombed Turkish ship 'loaded with weapons & ammo' at Tripoli port -- RT
UN-backed government in Libya suspends talks after attack -- AP
Libya's GNA suspending ceasefire talks after Tripoli port attack -- Al Jazeera
UN-backed government in Libya says it is suspending UN-brokered talks with rivals following attack on port. -- Washington Post
Libya is 'world's largest theatre' for drone attacks: UN -- Middle East Eye
Libya faces financial crisis due to oil blockade - PM -- Reuters
Libya faces 'catastrophic financial crisis' due to oil blockade -- Al Jazeera
UN: Impact of long Libya war on civilians is `incalculable' -- AP

EU Agrees To Deploy Warships To Enforce Libya Arms Embargo

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 02:59 PM PST





AFP: EU agrees naval mission to stop Libya arms flow

Brussels (AFP) - EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to a naval operation to enforce an arms embargo on war-torn Libya, overcoming objections from countries who feared it may encourage new migrant flows.

The mission will be authorised to intervene to stop arms shipments, EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said, insisting the vessels would not be "having a promenade" in the Mediterranean.

The EU hopes to have the operation, focused on the eastern part of the Libyan coast, up and running by the end of March, Borrell said, though many details -- including the rules of engagement for naval units -- are yet to be worked out.

The conflict in the oil-rich but turbulent North African state was on the agenda for EU ministers meeting in Brussels, but Borrell had played down hopes of an agreement over objections from Austria and Hungary.

Read more ....

More News On The EU Agreeing To Deploy Warships To Enforce The Libyan Arms Embargo

Libya conflict: EU agrees new patrols to stop arms flow -- BBC
UN welcomes help in enforcing Libya arms embargo -- France 24
EU to Deploy Warships Off Libya in First Sign of Military Muscle -- Bloomberg
EU agrees on new mission to enforce Libya arms embargo -- Middle East Monitor

Afghanistan Re-Elects President Ashraf Ghani. Rival Abdullah Abdullah Says He Is The Winner

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 02:52 PM PST





The Guardian: Ashraf Ghani wins Afghan presidential election

Incumbent gained just over 50% of September votes but Abdullah's team reject results

Five months after Afghans went to the polls to choose a new president, election authorities have declared the incumbent, Ashraf Ghani, the winner, but his main opponent has rejected the result and said he will form his own "inclusive government".

After a heavily contested poll, Ghani officially scraped just over 50% of votes, averting a second round run-off. But hours after the election results were announced, rival Abdullah Abdullah declared himself the victor.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The opposition is not accepting this result .... Afghan election challenger Abdullah declares himself president, announces parallel government (France 24).

More News On The Re-election Of Ashraf Ghani

Afghan president wins vote, opponent says he's the winner -- AP
Afghanistan presidential election: Ashraf Ghani re-elected -- BBC
Ghani named winner of Afghanistan's disputed poll amid fears of new turmoil -- Reuters
Ashraf Ghani secures second term as Afghan president: final results -- AFP
5 months later, Ashraf Ghani declared winner of Afghanistan's presidential election -- CNN
Afghanistan's presidential election: Ashraf Ghani declared winner -- Al Jazeera

Kremlin Temporarily Suspends All Chinese Visitors From Entering Russia Effective February 20

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 01:25 PM PST

FILE PHOTO: Medics meet Russian citizens evacuated from China's Wuhan province in Tyumen, Russia on February 5, 2020

RT: Russia temporarily bans ALL Chinese visitors amid coronavirus epidemic

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree on Tuesday evening prohibiting Chinese citizens from entering Russia for tourism, work and for private purposes. The new rules are effective from Thursday.

The decision is the strongest measure yet taken to prevent the entry and spread of the new coronavirus in Russia. Previously, Russian Railways suspended all passenger traffic to and from China, and flights have been heavily restricted. In addition, border crossings in the Far East have been closed.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a drastic measure. What does the Kremlin know that no one else in the public knows?

More News On Russia Temporarily Suspending All Chinese Visitors From Entering The Country Effective February 20

Russia Suspends Entry of Chinese Nationals Starting February 20 - Anti-Coronavirus HQ -- Sputnik
Russia's Aeroflot Cancels Flights As China Traffic Collapses -- Forbes
Russia temporarily bans Chinese nationals from entering country amid coronavirus outbreak -- Euronews

Chinese Medical Studies On Covid-19 Have Been Made Public

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 11:17 AM PST

Ninety-nine per cent of cases have been in China, where tens of millions of residents are in lockdown to contain the escalating crisis

Daily Mail: Deadly coronavirus 'kills 15 PER CENT of patients over 80' and the never-before-seen strain is 'up to 20 TIMES more infectious than SARS'

* Chinese health officials carried out the biggest ever study on the coronavirus
* Results showed SARS-CoV-2 virus posed the greatest threat to older patients
* It is also dangerous for those with underlying conditions, such as heart disease
* More than 73,000 cases have been recorded, with up to 99% of them in China

The deadly coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world kills up to 15 per cent of patients over the age of 80, scientists have revealed.

Chinese health officials carried out the biggest ever study on the never-before-seen strain of the virus, using data from 72,000 cases.

Results showed the SARS-CoV-2 virus posed the greatest threat to older patients and those with underlying conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.

Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention researchers also found 80.9 per cent of infections are mild. Less than five per cent are critical.

A separate group of virologists studying the coronavirus have also claimed it is up to 20 times more infectious than its deadlier sister SARS.

More than 73,000 cases have been recorded worldwide, with 99 per cent in China. Almost 1,900 patients have already died.

Read more ....

More Medical News On Covid-19

Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk -- BBC
First coronavirus patient had NO connection to Wuhan seafood market - so did the disease start elsewhere? -- Daily Mail
Coronavirus 20 times more deadly than the flu? Death toll approaches 2,000 -- USA Today
Shanghai virus hospital tries array of treatments in 'big test' -- AFP
Is the new virus more 'deadly' than flu? Not exactly -- AP
These 2 questions will determine if the coronavirus becomes a deadly pandemic -- VOX

Covid-19 World Outbreak -- News Updates February 18, 2020

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 11:12 AM PST



Reuters: Countries evacuating nationals from coronavirus-hit areas

A growing number of countries around the world are evacuating or planning to evacuate diplomatic staff and citizens from parts of China and a cruise ship in Japan hit by the new coronavirus.

Following are some countries' evacuation plans, and how they aim to manage the health risk from those who are returning.

Read more ....

Covid-19 World Outbreak -- News Updates February 18, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Map Shows More Than 73,000 Confirmed Cases in 25 Countries -- Newsweek
Locked in a coronavirus breeding ground: Cruise quarantine put hundreds of vulnerable people in the perfect environment for contamination and left the ship with more cases than the whole world outside China -- Daily Mail
Coronavirus cases top 500 on cruise ship off Japan -- AFP
Coronavirus cruise ship quarantine will be EXTENDED for anyone who was close to infected patients: Passengers must remain isolated for two weeks from the date they made contact -- Daily Mail
Coronavirus: American cruise passengers quarantined at US bases -- Al Jazeera
More passengers to leave cruise ship in Cambodia after coronavirus tests -- Reuters
Health experts question coronavirus quarantine measures on cruise ship -- The Guardian
Dozens of Australians from Westerdam cruise ship cleared of coronavirus as Cambodian PM Hun Sen promotes country -- ABC News Online
Cambodia PM defends ship docking despite virus diagnosis -- AFP
Philippines 'ill-prepared' as it grapples with coronavirus threat -- Al Jazeera
Germany sends more medical aid to China to fight virus -- AP
Coronavirus: Germany hopes to contain COVID-19 -- DW
Philippine workers allowed to travel to Hong Kong, Macau amid virus fear -- Reuters
North Korea health minister reports 'zero' COVID-19 cases -- UPI
Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases? -- Al Jazeera
Airlines suspend China flights due to coronavirus outbreak -- Reuters
Sports events affected by coronavirus epidemic -- Reuters
Coronavirus strikes Apple: Tech giant warns of a global iPhone shortage because the outbreak has limited its production in China -- Daily Mail
Misguided virus fears hitting Asian American businesses -- AP
Coronavirus forces delay of trade fairs and conferences -- Reuters
Face masks vs coronavirus: How effective are they? -- France 24

Covid-19 Outbreak In China -- News Updates February 18, 2020

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 11:04 AM PST



Daily Mail: Coronavirus death toll climbs to almost 1,900 with more than 73,000 cases recorded across the world – including nearly 1,000 OUTSIDE of China

* Ninety-nine per cent of cases of the SARS-CoV-2 infection have been in China
* Most of the cases recorded in China have been in the deserted Hubei province
* The Diamond Princess cruise has the largest cluster of cases outside of China

Almost 1,900 people have now died from the killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world.

And more than 73,000 patients have been struck down with the deadly SARS-CoV-2 infection, including nearly 1,000 outside of China.

Ninety-nine per cent of cases have been in China, where tens of millions of residents are in lockdown to contain the escalating crisis.

The Diamond Princess cruise, docked off the coast of Japan, has the largest cluster of cases outside of China, with 542 passengers infected.

Read more ....

Covid-19 Outbreak In China -- News Updates February 18, 2020

Live Updates: Over 150 Million Chinese Are Under Coronavirus Lockdown -- The New York Times
Latest on coronavirus spreading in China and beyond -- Reuters
China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates -- Al Jazeera

WHO reports 92 cases of human-to-human coronavirus cases outside China -- Reuters
China says mainland death toll from coronavirus reaches almost 1,900 -- France 24
China's coronavirus COVID-19 death toll nears 1,900 as PM Scott Morrison pledges vaccine funding -- ABC News Online
Virus claims life of hospital director in hard-hit Wuhan -- AP
Hospital director dies in China's Wuhan, epicentre of coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak -- ABC News Online
China's Hubei to adopt thorough checks on patients to curb virus epidemic: Xinhua -- Reuters
China continues to struggle with rising coronavirus cases -- Al Jazeera
China takes major steps to prop up coronavirus-hit economy -- Reuters
Activist who criticised President Xi's handling of coronavirus outbreak is arrested in China -- AFP
China to waive tariffs on US medical imports amid virus outbreak -- AFP

World News Briefs -- February 18, 2020

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 05:34 PM PST



Reuters: China sees fall in coronavirus deaths, WHO urges caution, Apple takes hit

BEIJING/GENEVA (Reuters) - China reported its fewest new coronavirus infections since January on Tuesday and its lowest daily death toll for a week, but the World Health Organization said data suggesting the epidemic had slowed should still be viewed with caution.

The head of a leading hospital in China's central city of Wuhan, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, died of the disease on Tuesday, becoming one of the most prominent victims since the disease first appeared at the end of last year.

Illustrating the economic impact of the outbreak, European shares dropped on Tuesday after Apple Inc issued a revenue warning due to the disruption the disease is causing to global supply chains.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Almost 900,000 Syrians are displaced with nowhere to go amid conflict in north-west, UN says. 'A horrifying new level': UN says 900,000 displaced in northwest Syria since December.

Syria conflict: UN says Idlib displacement 'overwhelming' relief effort.

Turkey deploys 300 military vehicles to Idlib amid conflict with Syria - reports.

Tribal forces in eastern Yemen clash with Saudis.

Khamenei says voting in Iran's election 'a religious duty'. 'No way!': disgruntled Iranians say they'll boycott poll.

UAE: Arab world's first nuclear power plant raises stakes in the Persian Gulf.

Jerusalem: Jordan condemns Israeli Western Wall railway plan.

Jerusalem court sets March 17 start date for Netanyahu corruption trial.

Turkish court acquits defendants in landmark Gezi Park protests trial.

ASIA

Afghanistan presidential election: Ashraf Ghani re-elected.

Exclusive: US-Taliban ceasefire to begin on Feb. 22. Peace deal with US to be signed by months' end, Taliban says. Taliban confirms Afghan peace deal 'finalized,' will be signed this month.

China says mainland death toll from coronavirus reaches almost 1,900.

China's economy won't be overwhelmed by virus epidemic: Xinhua China takes new steps to help revive coronavirus-hit economy.

North Korea health minister reports 'zero' COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk.

Exclusive: China's systematic tracking, arrests of Uighurs exposed in new Xinjiang leak.

Uighur whistleblower: China is 'arresting people without any reason'.

Japan's economy shrinks at fastest rate since 2014.

AFRICA

European Union agrees to set up warships to enforce Libya arms embargo.

Libyans mark 9 years since start of uprising that removed Gaddafi.

UN envoy: Impact of long Libya war on civilians 'incalculable'.

Locust swarms: South Sudan latest to be hit by invasion.

Niger aid stampede: At least 20 killed in Diffa.

Pompeo arrives in Ethiopia to finish 3-nation Africa tour. Pompeo touts US investment as alternative to Chinese loans on Africa trip.

Lesotho leader's wife's murder trial to start next month.

EUROPE

Ukraine conflict: Deadly flare-up on eastern front line. Ukrainian soldier killed, several wounded in Donbass flare-up.

Coronavirus: Germany hopes to contain COVID-19.

Slovak far-right leader on trial for hate speech may play election kingmaker.

Dutch appeals court reinstates $50B award against Russia.

Sex video throws Macron's party into turmoil ahead of Paris elections.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's health improving in prison, spokesman says.

Government buildings will not have to fly flag for Prince Andrew's birthday.

AMERICAS

Sanders opens 12-point lead nationally: poll.

Bloomberg set to debate in Nevada after qualifying in new poll.

U.S. blacklists unit of Russian oil giant to hurt Venezuela's Maduro.

Dominican Republic poll halted after electronic glitch.

Brazil's gangs: Militias expanding control in Rio de Janeiro.

Costa Rica makes biggest ever cocaine haul.

Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy over sex abuse lawsuits.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Pakistan confirms escape of ex-Pakistan Taliban spokesman.

Suicide bomber kills eight in Pakistan.

China's 'war on terror' pulls apart Uighur families, leaked database shows.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide as profits plunge.

Donald Trump blasts proposed restrictions on China trade, wants China to buy US jet engines.

Apple warns on coronavirus — it won't meet revenue guidance because of constrained iPhone supply and suppressed demand in China.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion to fight climate change.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 18, 2020

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 08:49 AM PST


Anti-war.com: US, China Drive Surge in Global Military Spending

Biggest increase in spending in 10 years

New data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has shown a roughly 4% increase in military spending for 2019, the single largest rate of growth seen in the past 10 years.

The increase is being driven in large part by the two largest military spenders in the world, the United States and China. Both nations increased their respective spending by 6.6%. The US alone increased spending $53.4 billion, which is itself almost as much as other major nations, like Britain, spend on their entire national defense budget.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 18, 2020

US-China strategic rivalry and new technology propel global surge in military spending, IISS report says -- SCMP/AFP

Europeans crank up defense spending amid doubts over US backing -- Defense News

Graham tells Defense Secretary Esper he could 'make your life hell' in battle over Trump Africa policy -- NBC

Graham warned Pentagon chief about consequences of Africa policy: report -- The Hill

Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall -- The Hill

US Successfully Tests Trident II Ballistic Missile Capable of Carrying Nuclear Warhead -- Sputnik

Roosevelt, America strike groups unite for Pacific operations -- UPI

DoD: We're retiring 44 A-10s. Arizona lawmakers: fight me -- Task & Purpose

DARPA Wants Millions To Design An Unmanned 'Flying Gun' Under Its New Gunslinger Program -- Warzone/The Drive

The Army is doubling down on a brand new sniper rifle -- Task & Purpose

Life of a C.I.A. Coder: Nerf Guns, Pranks and Fat Jokes -- The New York Times

Report: U.S., South Korea defense talks on shaky ground -- UPI

Ending Philippines-US military pact will affect South China Sea disputes: analysts -- SCMP

Allies show US the price of reducing common defense funding -- Dov S. Zakheim, The Hill

Esper to allies: Picking Huawei risks intel and security ties with the US -- Defense News

'It is dangerous': France's Macron startles allies and angers US officials with defense proposals -- Washington Examiner

Without Britain, the European Union Lurches Towards Its Own Army -- Bill Wirtz, American Conservative

Cyprus buys missiles, partners with France for exercises to thwart Turkey -- UPI

Germany wants another crack at a EU mission in the Strait of Hormuz -- Defense News

Despite suggestion, shorter skirts not the way the Canadian military is trying to recruit more women -- CTV News

US Plans to Deploy Weapons in Space Would Destroy Current Security Balance - Moscow -- Sputnik

US Paving Way to Deploy Intermediate and Short-Range Missiles in Europe and Asia - Lavrov -- Sputnik

Russia's Next Aircraft Carrier Will Likely Be Nuclear -- Forbes

More Than a Decade After Military Reform, Hazing Still Plagues the Russian Army -- Moscow Times

Afghan forces facing an increase in insider killings -- Army Times

China to fast-track biosecurity law in coronavirus aftermath -- SCMP

Taiwan's Military Is a Hollow Shell -- Foreign Policy

Australian navy begins three-week fleet certification exercise -- UPI

Italy in talks to sell frigates to Egypt -- Defense News

Why is Egypt seeking African military force? -- George Mikhail, Al-Monitor

Israel rolls out new wartime plan to reform armed forces -- Defense News

AI a new and 'frightening' battlefield in cyber war, experts warn -- Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel

This Israeli Cyber Billionaire Battles Hackers In China, Russia And Iran: 'It Will Only Get Worse' -- Forbes

WWI-era helmets as good for shock wave protection as modern versions -- UPI

U.S. Navy Is Preparing Its New Ford Carriers For Massive Ocean Warfare

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 08:25 AM PST

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) raises the American flag on it's mast as the ship get underway, Feb. 3, 2020 - file photo. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zack Guth)

FOX News/Warrior Maven: Navy preps its new USS Ford carrier for massive ocean warfare

Navy weapons developers say the service's emerging Ford-class carriers are engineered for the purpose of enabling a much higher volume of high-speed, overwhelming air attacks in rapid succession, as compared to today's Nimitz-class carriers … all due to new technologies and the design configuration of the platforms.

The Ford carriers, now on the cusp of entering operational service, are built with larger deck space to enable a higher sortie rate for attack missions. In addition, there are other technologies built into the Ford-class that create the opportunity to quickly rearm and refuel fighters, rapidly sending them back into the air for further attack missions, Capt. Ron Rutan, CVN 78 (USS Ford) Program Manager, said in January at the 32nd annual Surface Navy Association symposium, Arlington, Va.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There are still a lot of problems with this aircraft carrier .... The U.S. Navy's Newest Aircraft Carrier Can't Deploy (October 25, 2019).

Tweets For Today

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 07:43 AM PST













Picture Of The Day

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 07:27 AM PST

Statues with face masks on are seen amid snow in Wuhan, China, February 15. China Daily via REUTERS

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

The U.S. Navy Is Looking To Eliminate $40 Billion From Its Budget In The Next 6 Weeks

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 06:39 AM PST

Forbes: Valentine's Day Massacre: U.S. Navy Eliminating $40 Billion In 6 Weeks

The Department of the Navy is preparing to announce a crash program to find "at least $40B in real line-of-accounting savings" over the next six weeks. This lighting-fast cost-cutting initiative, called a "Stem-to-Stern Capability Strategic Review", will begin on February 18 and end on Tuesday, March 31.

The projected $40 billion in cuts will meet a budget savings target in the Navy's Fiscal Year 2022-2026 "Future Years Defense Program" and support a required June Program Objective Memorandum (POM) submission to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

While nothing is exempt from review, the Navy intends to primarily look for savings in eight areas: 1) Duplication of Information Technology systems and infrastructure; 2) Consolidation/Elimination of headquarters, commands and organizations; 3) Streamlined naval logistics; 4) Enabling capabilities that can be outsourced; 5) Enabling capabilities that can be consolidated to support an integrated naval force; 6) Reductions in Global Force Management offerings; 7) Significant reductions in service support contracts; and 8) Organization structure and manning constructs.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Looking for where to cut is one thing. Having the political will to follow through is another. At the moment I do not see any political will in Washington to follow through on any cuts, starting from the White House.

Why Is California's Public Pension Fund Investing In Chinese Companies That Are Blacklisted By The U.S. Government?

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 06:26 AM PST



The Hill: GOP lawmaker accuses California public pension fund of investing in blacklisted Chinese companies

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) on Thursday said that he has written a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to voice concerns over the state's public pension fund chief and his connections with China.

The Indiana congressman is calling out the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest state pension fund in the U.S., for allegedly investing in numerous select blacklisted Chinese companies that manufacture military products.

The California-based fund invested $3.1 billion into 172 different Chinese companies, Banks said in an appearance on Fox Business Network. He said that some of the companies invested in have been blacklisted by the U.S. government.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I guess it is OK now to invest in Chinese companies that are involved in China's arms and security industry

Update: The fund is defending its CIO and his investments .... CalPERS says call for probe into China holdings unwarranted (Pensions and Investments).

More News On California's Public Pension Fund Investing In Chinese Companies That Are Blacklisted By The U.S. Government

A U.S. Congressman Wants CalPERS CIO Ben Meng Fired -- Institutional Investor
Congressman Urges Firing of CalPERS CIO for Deep China Links, Investments -- Epoch Times
California public pension fund invested in blacklisted Chinese companies: congressman -- FOX News

U.S. Democrat Senator Held Secret Meeting In Munich With Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif

Posted: 18 Feb 2020 06:08 AM PST

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The Federalist: Source: Democrat Senator Held Secret Meeting In Munich With Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and other Democratic senators had a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference last week, according to a source briefed by the French delegation to the conference. Murphy's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment by press time.

Such a meeting would mean Murphy had done the type of secret coordination with foreign leaders to potentially undermine the U.S. government that he accused Trump officials of doing as they prepared for Trump's administration. In February 2017, Murphy demanded investigations of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn because he had a phone call with his counterpart-to-be in Russia.

Read more ....

Update #1: Report: Sen. Chris Murphy Held Secret Meeting With Iran's FM (Sara Carter)
Update #2: Dem Senator Who Mocked Trump As 'Literal Laughingstock' After Killing Of Soleimani Holds Secret Meeting With Iranian Official, Report Says (Daily Wire)

WNU Editor: You have to wonder on what does he want to achieve.