Monday, March 19, 2018

The U.S. Navy Newest Attack Submarine Is Joining The Fleet

US Navy

Popular Mechanics: Navy's New Attack Submarine Named Colorado to Join the Fleet

The 377-foot-long sub weighs about 7,800 tons submerged.

The U.S. Navy's newest attack submarine, the USS Colorado, will go into service Saturday at the Naval Submarine Base in Connecticut.

Cmdr. Reed Koepp, the Colorado's commanding officer, says it's an exciting time for the crew, shipbuilders, the local community in Connecticut and the state of Colorado. The submarine is "ready to protect the homeland and project our power forward," he added.

"We're really looking forward to this Saturday when we can introduce the Colorado as an official naval asset," Koepp said.

The 377-foot-long sub weighs about 7,800 tons submerged. It can fight submarines and surface ships, conduct surveillance and deliver Special Operations troops. It has two large tubes that can launch six Tomahawk missiles each.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Russians are not impressed .... they just commissioned three subs .... What a Day for Navies: US Commissions 1 Nuclear Sub, Russia 3 (Sputnik).

Tweets For Today

The CIA Has Set-Up Commando Units To Track And Kill Terrorists

Buzz Feed: Trump's CIA Has Set Up Teams To Kill Terrorists

“Small teams are locating and killing bad guys. That’s what we are doing.” The official in charge of the hit teams was a senior aide to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who Trump just nominated to be secretary of state.

The Central Intelligence Agency has been deploying small teams of commandos to kill selected suspected terrorists, according to two sources familiar with the program.

The program, which has not been previously disclosed, is coordinated by units from the CIA’s Special Activities Center, which oversees the agency’s paramilitary capability, the sources said.

The CIA denied that it has such a program. “Your story is wrong,” said Ryan Trapani, an agency spokesperson.

Director Mike Pompeo, who President Trump has just tapped to become secretary of state, has publicly said the agency will become more “aggressive” and “vicious” but has not mentioned the new effort to kill terrorists.

Read more ....

Update: Trump’s Pick For Secretary Of State Reportedly Set Up ‘Kill Teams’ Of Commandos At The CIA (Task & Purpose/Business Insider)

WNU Editor: The U.S. has been targeting terrorists since 9/11. The whole purpose of the drone program was just that .... observe and gather intelligence, and if a high value target shows up .... take him out. So why the uproar over reports that the CIA has now set up commando units to track and kill terrorists. The mission is still the same .... gather intelligence and if a high value target is present, take him out.

Picture Of The Day

WNU Editor: Regular reader Adam was kind enough to send me some incredible pictures of a few U.S. aircraft carriers docked in Virginia (Norfolk). Just click on each image to enlarge it. According to the Go Navy's Aircraft Carrier location website, there are five aircraft carriers docked at Norfolk right now (link here).

Chinese Textbooks Blame South Korea For The First Korean War


Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: 1,000,000 People Died during the Korean War. This Is the Forgotten Story of How It Started.

The Korean War is variously estimated to have claimed between 1.2 and three million lives, most of them civilian. Who was responsible for this tragedy?

For Western nations, the answer is uncomplicated: North Korea, backed by China and the Soviet Union, launched an unprovoked invasion of its southern neighbor in 1950.

An alternate history has been presented in Chinese textbooks, one in which the illegitimate lackeys of Western imperialists in the South attacked first, but China and the Soviet Union intervened to prevent an aggressive American invasion that threatened to sweep into China. The fact that a significant portion of North Korea’s population perished due to extensive U.S. bombing has made some sympathetic to the suffering of the small nation.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Yup .... this article brings back an experience that I had in China in the 1980s. At that time I got into a debate with some of my Chinese counterparts on the Korean war, and they sincerely believed that the Korean war was started by South Korea. I said no .... but they did not believe me.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Venezuela News Updates -- March 18, 2018

Caracas, Venezuela. CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

Panam Post: “The Only Full Refrigerator in Venezuela Is in the Morgue”: Tomas Paez

Sociologist Tomas Paez argues that the disastrous socialist public policy of Chavez and Maduro has been the primary factor in the massive exodus from Venezuela.

“The main cause of Venezuelan emigration is socialism of the 21st century,” said sociologist Tomás Páez, coordinator of the Global Project of the Venezuelan Diaspora; responding to Nicolás Maduro’s comments admitting to a “brain drain” in the country.

The Venezuelan dictator said on Wednesday, March 14, there existed a massive “brain drain” in Venezuela, and also confessed that the diaspora is seeking to “improve their life abroad.”

Read more ....

Venezuela News Updates -- March 18, 2018

Maduro challenger shakes up Venezuela's presidential vote -- Reuters
Venezuela election candidate Falcon is Maduro's pawn: OAS head -- Business Insider
'Barely surviving': Amid soaring inflation, life is a daily struggle in Venezuela -- NBC
UN official warns of humanitarian "catastrophe" in Venezuela -- AP
Venezuela begins power rationing as drought causes severe outages -- Reuters
'Destroyed' Venezuela needs $15 billion per year: presidential hopeful's aide -- Reuters
Looks like Trump is cracking down on Venezuela's Petro cryptocurrency -- Mashable
Market Gives Venezuelan President Maduro 12 Months Max -- Forbes
U.S. sanctions and worries of a coup erode Maduro's control of Venezuelan military -- Miami Herald

China To Expand It's 'Social Credit System' To Punish Citizens Who Misbehave

The Independent/Reuters: China to ban citizens with bad 'social credit' rating from taking flights or using trains for up to a year

President Xi Jinping's plan based on principle 'once untrustworthy, always restricted' to come into effect on 1 May

China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year.

People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.

Those found to have committed financial wrongdoings, such as employers who failed to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines, would also face these restrictions, said the statements which were dated 2 March.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Soviet Union had a similar system .... it regulated and controlled where people lived and traveled. And yes .... everyone (including yours truly) hated it. With time .... I predict that the people in China are going to hate this system also.

More News On China Expanding It's 'Social Credit System' To Punish Citizens Who Misbehave

China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains -- The Verge
Millions in China with bad 'social credit' barred from buying plane, train tickets -- Channel News Asia
China’s Orwellian ‘Social Credit System’ to Begin Banning People From Planes, Trains -- Epoch Times
China bans people with bad ‘social credit’ from air travel, trains -- Asian Correspondent

Chinese President Xi's Move To One Man Rule Will Impact Its Relations With The U.S. And Its Allies, And With China's Neighbours

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Reuters

Cary Huang, SCMP: Why Xi Jinping’s term limits move makes China-US conflict more likely

America’s policy towards China has long been that interaction could help the countries grow closer. But as Mao-style, one-man rule returns, they are growing apart – raising fears in the West that confrontation is inevitable.

The move to clear the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely by amending the constitution is an internal affair for China.

But the development will have profound ramifications beyond Chinese borders, particularly towards China’s relations with the United States, America’s allies in the free world and China’s neighbours.

Many Western analysts see the move to remove term limits on the Chinese presidency – a move that will enable Xi to become president for life – as a major setback in Chinese politics, something that harks back to the one-man rule of the Mao era.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: For almost three decades a good part of China's economic growth was based on pursuing a slow but stable policy of political liberalization. This decision to go back to a one man rule has now destroyed this trend in political liberalization, and in turn it will hamper China's economic growth. After all .... most free economies are reluctant in dealing with an authoritarian regime .... and Western political institutions are certainly not interested in embracing such regimes. For a country like China that is dependent on foreign trade and easy access to markets for its growth .... this is going to become a problem. A fact that I do not think that President Xi Jinping and his ministers have yet to fully appreciate.

U.S., South Korean, And Japanese Security Advisers Meet To Discuss The Upcoming North Korean Summits

South Korea's National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong arrives at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, March 15, 2018. Yonhap via REUTERS

Reuters: Security advisers from U.S., South Korea, Japan meet on North Korean summits: Seoul

SEOUL (Reuters) - The top national security advisers of the United States, South Korea and Japan met at the weekend to discuss North Korea and the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said on Monday.

The two days of meetings could also help prepare the way for a possible meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

They were the latest in a flurry of diplomatic activity spanning Asia, the United States and Europe ahead of North Korea’s planned summits with the South and the United States.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: North Korean diplomats in Sweden .... North Korean diplomats discuss denuclearization in Stockholm (UPI), and soon to be in Finland .... North Korea to meet informally with U.S., South Korea in Finland. (UPI). And while the South Koreans are optimistic, it will take more than just assurances from North Korea to make these talks succeed .... South Korean diplomat says Kim has ‘given his word’ on nukes (AP).

Drugs Kill More Americans Die Than Guns, Cars And AIDS

Argus Leader/USA Today: Drugs kill more Americans than guns, cars and AIDS. How we got here.

Dr. Bill Fannin found his son unconscious in his bedroom. Medical training and a father’s love told him what to do.

Give him breath. Start his heart.

The Pikeville, Kentucky, physician cupped his son’s face and tried to resuscitate him on this October evening in 2011. He pushed down on his son’s chest.

Sean Fannin laid there, still unmoving.

“It was,” Fannin recalled, his voice fading as he spoke, “too late.”

He soon learned Sean had overdosed on a drug derived from the opium poppy.

It was a drug the doctor knew all too well, one he had prescribed to many patients to ease their pain.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This opoid epidemic is killing America.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 18, 2018

Elizabeth Schumacher, DW: Vladimir Putin: How a spy rose to power and held on to it

Vladimir Putin has used a system of misinformation and cronyism to stay in power for decades. DW takes a look at how an obscure low-level spy became an unbeatable leader.

Vladimir Putin is set to be re-elected as president of Russia, giving him a further six years in power. The political victory caps off a career spent accumulating power, evading consequences for legally questionable activities and changing Russia's image for the world and for itself.

After completing his law degree in 1975, Putin famously started his career at the KGB, the Soviet secret police force. He was posted to Dresden, East Germany, where he posed as a translator.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 18, 2018

Meet Putin's New Technocrats -- Kathrin Hille & Henry Foy, Financial Time

The Second Cold War Has Begun — and We Only Have Ourselves to Blame -- Darius Shahtahmasebi, The

Putin’s new Cold War -- Lawrence Freedman, New Statesman

It’s Time to Attack Putin’s Soft Underbelly -- John Fund, NRO

What does Turkey's seizure of Afrin mean for Syria war? -- AFP

What next for rebels, civilians in Syria's crumbling Ghouta? -- AFP

The Turks have taken Afrin. Let’s not let Manbij fall next. -- David Ignatius, Washington Post

Syria: Civilians without hope, a leader without a country: call this a victory? -- Martin Chulov, The Guardian

At 31, my first glimpse of life outside Gaza -- Abier Almasri, Reuters

Chairman Xi, Chinese Idol -- Ian Johnson, New York Review Of Books

Could the Kim-Trump summit succeed? -- Ramesh Thakur, Asia Times

Is it time for Germany to revisit its Russia relationship? -- Maximiliane Koschyk, DW

How journalism prompted a closer look at 14 deaths in the U.K. with Russian connections -- Diana Swain, CBC News

Crimea four years after the Russian takeover -- DW

The My Lai Massacre and How to Write About War -- Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat

Trump's goal of 'energy dominance' could change the global balance of power -- Tony Seskus, CBC News

Russian President Putin Re-Elected With More Than 70% Of The Vote

RT: Vladimir Putin decisively re-elected as Russian president – preliminary results

Incumbent Russian leader Vladimir Putin is set to secure a resounding victory in the Russian presidential election, according to partial results made public by the electoral commission.

Vladimir Putin is now leading with over 76 percent of the vote, well above the simple majority needed to avoid a run-off.

First-time Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin is running second with little over 12 percent, while veteran nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who first ran against Boris Yeltsin in 1991, rounds out the top three with about six percent.

Read more ....

More News On Russian President Putin Winning Re-Election For Another 6 Years

LIVE UPDATES: Putin Leading Presidential Election, Wins According to Polls -- Sputnik
Russian presidential election 2018 -- TASS
The Latest: Putin dodges question about future elections -- AP
Presidential Election 2018: Preliminary Results Show Putin in Lead With Over 70% -- Sputnik
Putin headed towards landslide victory -- TASS
‘Dear friends, thank you’: Putin talks to supporters as preliminary results signal election victory -- RT
'We Need a Leap Forward': Putin Adresses Rally Amid Projected Landslide Win -- Sputnik
Putin thanks his supporters for their votes at Sunday’s presidential polls -- TASS
Russia election: Vladimir Putin wins by big margin -- BBC
Putin wins another six years at Russia's helm in landslide victory -- Reuters
Vladimir Putin wins Russian election with 74% of vote – exit poll -- The Guardian
Vladimir Putin set to win Russian presidential election with more than 70 percent -- DW
Vladimir Putin posts landslide election victory but opponents allege voter pressure -- ABC News Online
Russians re-elect Putin to fourth term by wide margin -- UPI
Putin heads for big win in fraud-tainted Russian vote -- AP
Putin winning over 90% of votes at Russian presidential polls in Crimea and Sevastopol -- TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry points to unprecedented overseas voter turnout -- TASS
Russian vote problems: Ballot stuffing, coercion, gimmicks -- AP
Russian polling stations in Ukraine blocked by police & radicals (VIDEOS) -- RT
Significant moments in Putin’s 18 years of power -- AP

World News Briefs -- March 18, 2018

DW: Vladimir Putin wins Russian presidential election with more than 70 percent, exit polls show

Vladimir Putin has won the Russian presidential election, according to initial exit polls. While officials have reported strong turnout, Putin's political opponents claim there were numerous electoral violations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin won a landslide re-election victory on Sunday, garnering more than 70 percent of the vote, exit polls showed.

An exit poll by pollster VTsIOM showed the incumbent president had won 73.9 percent of the vote.

The former KGB spy has won about a three-fourths of the 50 percent of the votes counted, Russian media reported, citing Russia's Central Election Commission data.

Addressing his supporters at a victory rally in Moscow, Putin said the election result was a recognition of what had been achieved in the past few years, despite difficult conditions.

Read more ....


Thousands more Syrians flee their homes as two battles rage.

Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army capture Afrin city. Turkish forces and Syrian allies drive Kurds from Afrin.

Rebels in Syria's eastern Ghouta discussing ceasefire with UN – statement .

Syria's Assad visits troops in battle-scarred Ghouta.

Iraqi lawmaker warns of “plots to expand U.S. military bases” in Iraq.

Israeli military destroys Gaza tunnel, underground military complex.

Israeli forces raid village of driver who killed two soldiers.


Chinese president Xi Jinping re-appointed with no term limits.

China anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan named Xi Jinping's deputy. China's Congress reappoints Premier Li Keqiang and names new anti-graft watchdog.

China confirms anti-graft official’s position on military’s ruling body as war on corruption heats up.

North Korea's Kim 'taking stock' of Trump meet: SKorean official. South Korean diplomat says Kim has ‘given his word’ on nukes.

North Korea to meet informally with U.S., South Korea in Finland.

North Korean diplomats discuss denuclearization in Stockholm. Sweden, North Korea talks end, may help pave way for Trump-Kim encounter.

Taliban suicide bomber targets foreign contractors in Kabul.

Opium production in Afghanistan reaches record high.

ASEAN: Malaysian PM condemns inaction of Aung San Suu Kyi over Rohingya 'suffering'. Myanmar's Suu Kyi pressed on Rohingya crisis at ASEAN summit.

Aung San Suu Kyi: lawyers seek prosecution for crimes against humanity.

Sri Lanka violence: Nationwide state of emergency lifted.


Mauritius: Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigns over credit card scandal.

Sierra Leone presidential poll set for Julius Maada Bio and Samura Kamara runoff.

Egypt election: President Sisi's re-election looms as contenders arrested, withdraw from the race.

Burundi sets May 17 for vote on contested reforms.

UN mission in DR Congo urged to play stronger role in polls.

Nigeria skips African summit in blow to free trade deal.

Somalia clans secure peace with death sentences and hefty fines.

UN backs 'free, fair, credible' July elections in Zimbabwe.


Russia election: Vladimir Putin wins by big margin.

UK finance, power and water on highest alert as threat of Russian cyber reprisal grows.

Russia spy poisoning: Czechs angrily reject Russia claims.

Spy poisoning: Russia stockpiling nerve agent, says Johnson.

UK lawmakers suggest postponing Brexit in committee report.

Kurds in Germany march against Turkey's 'massacre' in Afrin.

Merkel defends surplus as US threatens trade war.

Catalan independence: Puigdemont moots Swiss model 'attractive'.


Donald Trump attacks Mueller's 'biased' Russia inquiry.

Republican lawmakers concerned by Facebook data leak.

Republican senator expects Trump to pull out of Iran deal: CBS.

Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis.

Peru president says he used offshore firm to legally avoid U.S. taxes: audio.

Maduro challenger shakes up Venezuela's presidential vote.

Canada: Saskatchewan would support Alberta's decision to turn off oil taps.


Syria: Al-Qaida and IS increasingly lose territory to Assad.

Militant threat emerges in Egyptian desert, opening new front in terrorism fight.

US vice president tells Pakistan to do more to combat terrorism.


U.S. tariffs, China trade tensions overshadow G20 finance meeting.

US crude exports becoming bigger presence in global oil.

Investors in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies face hefty tax bills.

Tesla boss in line for mega-pay deal.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 18, 2018

Taiwan has conducted regular defense drills, such as the annual Han Kuang Exercises, since 2001. Photo: Central News Agency

DW: China warns Donald Trump against Taiwan military ties

The Chinese government has urged the US to "correct its mistake" regarding President Donald Trump's recently approved "Taiwan Travel Act," which allows unrestricted two-way travel for officials from the US and Taiwan.

US President Donald Trump's "Taiwan Travel Act" continues to draw ire from Chinese authorities. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Saturday the bill "severely violates" the "one China" principle and sends "very wrong signals to the 'pro-independence' separatist forces in Taiwan."

"China is strongly opposed to [the bill]," Lu said in a statement.

"We urge the US side to correct its mistake, stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way," he added.

In a separate statement, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the act "interferes in China's internal affairs."

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 17, 2018

China Conducts Largest Military Exercise of Its Kind as Troops Train to Challenge U.S. Overseas -- Newsweek

China confirms anti-graft official’s position on military’s ruling body as war on corruption heats up -- SCMP

Li Keqiang endorsed as China’s premier, while military commission chiefs consolidate power -- SCMP

China Leads Race to Install Railgun on a Warship – Reports -- Sputnik

The Evolution of Chinese Nuclear Doctrine: Updating or Overhauling? -- Lorenzo Termine, RCD

Cambodia begins military drills with ‘great friend’ China -- SCMP

North Korean nuclear-armed ICBMs can reach Europe – reports -- RT

US Defense System Deployment to Protect Japan From N Korea – Japan's Minister -- Sputnik

Russia `Probably Developing’ Nuke-Armed Drone, DIA Says -- Bloomberg

Russian Threat Becoming 'More Unpredictable and More Aggressive,' Military Leader Warns -- Newsweek

Is Turkey preparing to replace US military base in Qatar? -- Shehab Al-Makahleh, Al Arabiya

Air Force General Downplays Possible Restrictions at Incirlik --

Nato must improve defences against a 'more aggressive' Russia, says chief -- The Guardian

Saudi, US forces continue military training exercises -- Al Arabiya

Czech minister puts hold on Israeli radar deal over NATO concerns -- Defense News

Saab’s GlobalEye swing-role surveillance aircraft goes airborne -- Defense News

Canada sending troops to UN peacekeeping mission in Mali -- CBC

Canada to deploy troops, helicopters to Mali: Report -- DW

The Air Force's Light Attack Search Won't Yield a New A-10. Here's Why -- Defense Tech

Air Force: GPS Satellites Vulnerable to Attack -- Washington Free Beacon

Army Wants Armed Ground Robot Prototype by 2019 -- Breaking Defense

Pentagon wants Silicon Valley’s help on A.I. -- CNBC

The Pentagon Wants AI To Reveal Adversaries’ True Intentions -- Government Executive

SpaceX to split $640 million in Pentagon contracts with United Launch Alliance -- Market Watch

Pentagon hints budget woes possible factor in fighter jet crash off Key West -- CBS/AP

Pentagon Tells Leaders to Talk More With Contractors — and Less to the Public and Press -- Defense One

What the Coming Space Conflict Will Really Look Like -- RCL

The Powerful Global Spy Alliance You Never Knew Existed -- The Intercept

Turkish Backed Forces Have Taken Control Of The Syrian City Of Afrin

DW: Turkey-backed rebels seize Afrin town, says Turkish President Erdogan

Syrian rebels have taken control of the town of Afrin, the Turkish president said. But a Kurdish official has denied that YPG fighters fled, saying Kurdish forces are still engaged in clashes over the strategic town.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Syrian rebels backed by Ankara had taken control of the Syrian town of Afrin, marking a major setback for Kurdish forces in the area.

"Units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which are backed by Turkish armed forces, took control of the center of Afrin this morning," Erdogan said. "Search operations to locate mines and other explosives are under way."

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is very revealing that in the all videos that I have seen on the Turkish take-over of Afrin .... there are no large crowds greeting them as liberators. In fact there is no one.

Update: This is going to create an enormous amount of bitterness .... Pro-Turkish forces pillage Afrin after taking Syrian city (AFP).

More News On Turkish Backed Forces Taking Control Of The Syrian City Of Afrin

Syria war: Turkey-backed forces oust Kurds from heart of Afrin -- BBC
Turkish forces and Syrian allies drive Kurds from Afrin -- Reuters
Turkey-backed forces capture Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin -- AP
Turkish-led forces in control of Syria's Afrin city -- AFP
Turkish forces seize control of Syrian town of Afrin and celebrate by tearing down statue of Kurdish hero -- The Independent
Erdogan: Syria’s Afrin city center ‘entirely under control,’ Kurds ‘fled’ (VIDEOS, PHOTOS) -- RT
Syria war: What has happened in Afrin? -- BBC
Turkey's offensive in Syria: a timeline -- AFP

India And Pakistan Positioning Themselves For Another War

Pakistani military personnel stand beside short-range Surface to Surface Missile NASR during Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Mohammed Ayoob, National Interest: India and Pakistan: Inching Toward Their Final War?

Both India and Pakistan have between 120 and 140 nuclear warheads, according to estimates provided by the Arms Control Association. However a report produced in 2015 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center asserts that Pakistan may be outpacing India in terms of its nuclear stockpile, and may possess 350 nuclear warheads in the next five to ten years. A 2016 SIPRI report confirmed the assessment that Pakistan has more nuclear warheads than India.

However, what distinguishes the two neighbors’ nuclear-weapons programs from each other is not so much the pace of production or the size of the stockpiles, but their radically different nuclear doctrines. The major difference between the two countries’ nuclear doctrines is that while India has renounced first use of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has refused to do so by reserving its right to use nuclear weapons in the face of India’s conventional superiority.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The bitterness that these two countries have reminds me of the bitterness that exists between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Religious and sectarian hatreds that go back years.

U.S. Is Looking For A Way Out Of Syria

King Salman and President trump reviewed bilateral relations and developments around the world. (Reuters)

Zero Hedge: Trump Asked Saudi King For $4 Billion So US Troops Can Leave Syria

The Washington Post has revealed that President Trump attempted to extricate US troops from Syria by asking ally Saudi Arabia to foot the bill for postwar reconstruction and "stabilization" projects in the area of northeast Syria currently occupied by US coalition forces, to the tune of $4 billion. The deal would involve US allies like Saudi Arabia moving into a lead position regarding coalition policy in Syria, while hastening a US exit.

Though the coalition continues to claim that its occupation of Syrian soil is toward anti-terror and humanitarian efforts, including the reestablishment of civilian infrastructure in a region previously controlled by ISIS, America's top general, CENTCOM chief Gen. Joseph Votel, admitted in congressional testimony this week that the Syrian government along with its Russian and Iranian allies have effectively won the war.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  The Islamic State in eastern Syria has been destroyed .... so the original reason for the U.S. presence in the country has been fulfilled. So why are U.S. forces still there? Loyalty to the Kurds? Making sure that there is no direct Iran to the Israeli border road link? Positioning to play a post-war role in Syria? The White House appears to have no policy on what to do next.

A Look At Chinese President Xi's Inner circle, And The Role That They Will Play In U.S.-China Relations

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan. Nikkei Asia Review

Wall Street Journal: All President Xi’s Men: China’s New Government Braces for Trump

Mr. Xi and deputies have met with U.S. officials recently, a sign of concern in Beijing about relations with the U.S.

BEIJING—Cleared to stay in power indefinitely, Chinese President Xi Jinping has discarded the leadership structure he inherited and is kicking off his second term with a handpicked team of trusted lieutenants.

For the next five years, Mr. Xi will look to his inner circle to shore up a sluggish economy, eradicate poverty and enhance China’s global standing—while shielding his ambitious agenda from being derailed by rocky relations with the U.S.

Two men in particular have emerged in key roles: Wang Qishan, the former anticorruption chief who took office as deputy head of state on Saturday, and Liu He, the architect of Mr. Xi’s economic policies, who is due for promotion on Monday.

In recent weeks, Mr. Xi and his two deputies met directly with U.S. officials, people familiar with the matter say—a sign of the president’s heightened concerns about China-U.S. ties.

Mr. Xi hosted the U.S. ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, at an informal gathering of both men’s families in early February, according to people with knowledge of the event. The two have known each other since Mr. Xi visited the U.S. in 1985.

The president also dispatched Messrs. Wang and Liu to meet with the U.S. ambassador separately, those people said. And right before the start of the legislative session, Mr. Liu went to Washington, holding at times contentious talks with senior U.S. officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. A hoped-for meeting with President Donald Trump didn’t materialize.

Read more ....

WNU editor: These appointments tell me the following. The priority for Chinese President Xi's administration will be the economy, eradicating poverty and building up China's middle class, enhancing China’s global standing, and keeping relations with the U.S. at the status quo. The problem will be the U.S. relationship .... and U.S. measures to slash China's massive trade surplus because of imbalances in trade.