Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Facebook Wants To Hire People With National Security Clearances

Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

Fortune: Facebook Plans to Hire People With National Security Clearances

Facebook is planning to fight possible election rigging with help from people with national security clearances, according to a new report.

The world’s largest social network is planning to hire people with national security clearances to prevent foreign governments from using its service to impact elections, Bloomberg is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. Employees with national security clearances can access classified U.S. government information. Facebook would need to petition the U.S. for the employee to receive the information because clearances are deactivated after a person leaves the government’s employ, according to the report.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I suspect that Facebook will pay well for these type of individuals.

More News On Reports That Facebook Wants To Hire People With National Security Clearances

Facebook Is Looking for Employees With National Security Clearances -- Bloomberg
Have national security clearance? Facebook wants you -- CNET
Facebook trying to find employees with national security clearance -- Engadget
Facebook seeking hires with national security clearances: report -- The Hill
Wanted: People with security clearances to work at Facebook -- Silicon Valley Business Journal

One Can Now Make The Claim That Spain Keeps Political Prisoners

Jordi Cuixart (L), leader of Omnium Cultural, and Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly, arrive at the High Court in Madrid on 16 October REUTERS

The Independent: Catalonia: Spanish judge jails two independence leaders for possible sedition

A Spanish judge has ruled that the leaders of the two biggest grassroots pro-independence associations in Catalonia should remain in prison without bail on possible charges of sedition - for which, if convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to 10 years.

An ongoing legal investigation claims Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of the ANC movement, and Mr Cuixart, who heads the Omnium Cultural association, were heavily involved in organising a massive protest aimed at hindering a Guardia Civil investigation in Barcelona into the build-up for the 1 October illegal referendum.

Read more ....

Update #1: Spain High Court jails two Catalan separatist leaders pending investigation (Reuters)
Update #2: Two Catalan separatists in Spanish custody (BBC)

WNU Editor: Throwing political leaders into jail never works well for a country that believes in democracy.There is going to be blow-back from this action.

Tweets For Today

This Is America's Newest 40mm Grenade Machine Gun

Marines with 2d Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment field-test the MK47 40 mm Advanced Lightweight Grenade Machine Gun at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The new weapon system may one day replace the MK-19. (Photo courtesy of General Dynamics)

We Are The Mighty: Say hello to America's newest 40mm grenade machine gun

The 40mm grenade has become a very valuable asset for a small infantry unit. Each fire team of four grunts usually has at least one 40mm grenade launcher. These grenades can pack a punch, too.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, a M433 high-explosive, dual-purpose grenade can punch through about two inches of steel and inflict casualties to a distance of roughly 17 feet.

Often, these grenades were used on single-shot systems like the M79 or the M203. But soon, automatic grenade launchers were developed. One that became iconic was the Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher. With a range of 1,500 yards, it could fire a grenade a second, and it weighs nearly 73 pounds. The Mk-19 is in service with 23 countries.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  This weapon has a range of 1,500 yards .... impressive.

Picture Of The Day

Crawling Marine
Marines prepare to run with ghillie suits through a mud pit and water during an exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 13, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Allison M. DeVries

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Marines Hone Ghillie Suit, Sniper Skills (US Department of Defense).

China Wants To Buy An Enormous Stake In Saudi Arabia's Main Oil Company Directly

Reuters: Exclusive: China offers to buy 5 percent of Saudi Aramco directly - sources

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - China is offering to buy up to 5 percent of Saudi Aramco directly, sources said, a move that could give Saudi Arabia the flexibility to consider various options for its plan to float the world’s biggest oil producer on the stock market.

Chinese state-owned oil companies PetroChina (0857.HK) and Sinopec (0386.HK) have written to Saudi Aramco in recent weeks to express an interest in a direct deal, industry sources told Reuters. The companies are part of a state-run consortium including China’s sovereign wealth fund, the sources say.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said last year the kingdom was considering listing about 5 percent of Aramco in 2018 in a deal that could raise $100 billion, if the company is valued at about $2 trillion as hoped.

“The Chinese want to secure oil supplies,” one of the industry sources said. “They are willing to take the whole 5 percent, or even more, alone.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If this deal goes through, it will be seen as major geopolitical shift by historians in the future. Saudi Arabia is clearly pursuing/exploring a foreign policy that will be independent from the U.S. and the West. Overtures to Moscow, now this potential purchase of a major stake by China in Saudi Aramco .... I was always afraid that when the U.S. started (and brokered) a nuclear deal with Iran, it would alienate Saudi Arabia in ways that we can only imagine. Well .... we do not need to imagine any more. Saudi Arabia's intentions to form an alliance with China and Russia are now very clear .... they need reliable allies to offset Iran, and this is the strategy that they are pursuing. Bottom line, if successful the Middle East as we know it will probably be a very different place a few years from now.

More News On Reports That China Has Offered To Buy An Enormous Stake In Saudi Arabia's Oil Company Directly

Saudi Arabia reconsiders Aramco share sale -- Financial Times
Saudi Aramco denies FT report, says IPO on track -- The Star Online
Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO -- OilPrice.com
Oil Rally Threatened As China Reportedly Offers To Buy Aramco Stake Directly -- Zero Hedge
Fiscal woes, Aramco IPO driving Saudi oil policy: analysts -- The Daily Star
Saudi Arabia Needs Lots of Private Oil Money -- Chris Hughes, Bloomberg

Monday, October 16, 2017

What Should The West Do With Returning ISIS Fighters

Syrian Democratic Forces furl an Islamic State flag recovered in Raqqa, Syria, October 4, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro

Alexander Smith and Vladimir Banic, NBC: What Should the West Do With Fighters Returning From Syria and Iraq?

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Albert Berisha is both a paradox and a dilemma.

His lilac shirt, soft features and neatly trimmed beard could belong to any office worker in the world.

He certainly doesn't look like someone who swapped his life in Europe to go fight in Syria alongside ISIS militants he openly describes as murderous psychopaths.

But Berisha is also the embodiment of some crucial questions perplexing Western security officials.

Is it possible for a jihadi who traveled to fight in Iraq or Syria to be peacefully reintegrated into society? And how can any government be certain such returnees won't kill in the name of Islam?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Europeans are not the only ones who are going to have a problem with returning ISIS fighters .... Fall of Raqqa inflames Southeast Asia terror threat (John McBeth, Asia Times)

Top Anti-Corruption Reporter Murdered In Malta

VICE News: Reporter who investigated Panama Papers killed in car bomb

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a journalist who relentlessly investigated corruption in her home country of Malta, was killed Monday afternoon in a car bomb outside her home. One of Malta’s leading politicians has called it “political murder” motivated by her reporting.

“What happened today is not an ordinary killing,” said Adrian Delia, a leader of Malta’s political opposition.

Galizia was perhaps most famous for her reporting linking Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife, and several associates to the Panama Papers, a trove of documents detailing several heads of states’ connections to secret offshore shell companies in Panama. Galizia alleged that Muscat’s wife, Michelle, owned one of these companies, and that the company had received a series of payments from an account linked to the government of Azerbaijan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Her anti-corruption efforts clearly irked a lot of people. It cost her life.

More News On Top Anti-Corruption Reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia Murdered In Malta

Maltese blogger who accused government of corruption killed by car bomb -- The Sun Daily (Malta)
Bomb kills reporter who covered Malta’s ‘Panama Papers’ link -- AP
Anti-corruption blogger killed by huge bomb in Malta -- Reuters
Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist -- The Guardian
Malta blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia dies in car bomb attack -- BBC
Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia killed in car blast -- CNN
Car bombing kills Malta journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia -- CPJ Press Freedom Online

Venezuela's Opposition Claims Fraud As Socialists Sweep Regional Elections

Reuters: Dispute over Venezuela vote could spark more unrest, sanctions

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition refused on Monday to recognize a surprise win for the ruling socialists in weekend gubernatorial elections, raising the prospect of new protests and foreign sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Maduro’s candidates took 17 governorships, versus five for the opposition, in Sunday’s nationwide poll, according to the pro-government electoral board.

The socialists’ strong showing came despite devastating food shortages, triple-digit inflation, and a collapsing currency. Polls had suggested the opposition would easily win a majority.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This result will only mean the following .... hyper-inflation will continue, 70% of the country will go hungry to bed hungry tonight, and Venezuela's debt payment obligations will not be met in the coming months thereby making a horrible situation even worse.

More News On Venezuela's Regional Elections

Venezuelan socialists claim victory as opposition cries foul -- AP
U.S. condemns Venezuelan elections as neither free nor fair -- Reuters
Venezuela vote dispute increases threat of new foreign sanctions -- Reuters
Venezuela elections dogged by fraud claims -- Financial Times
Venezuela Opposition Has Few Options After Vote Many Call Fraudulent -- Wall Street Journal
Venezuela: Mixed reaction online after election results -- Al Jazeera
In Venezuela, opposition took risk that might not pay off -- Washington Post

President Trump And Senator McConnell Joint Press Conference From The White House Rose Garden

CBS New York: Trump, McConnell Proclaim Republican Unity As They Field Questions

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — There was a show of unity Monday from President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, Trump and McConnell spoke to reporters Monday afternoon after they had lunch together at the White House. They fielded questions from reporters on everything from health care to hurricane recovery response, Harvey Weinstein, and even Hillary Clinton.

Trump has been critical of McConnell in the past, blaming him for the failure of the health care overhaul. But on Monday McConnell and Trump appeared together claiming that they have the same agenda and that they are closer than ever.

Read more ....

President Trump And Senator McConnell Joint Press Conference From The White House Rose Garden

Trump, McConnell insist they’re together for GOP agenda -- AP
Trump, McConnell show Republican unity at White House -- Reuters
Trump Embraces McConnell in Search of a Tax Win -- Bloomberg
Trump Says He's Best Friends With Hill Republicans -- US News and World Report
Trump: 'Obamacare is dead' -- AFP
Trump upbeat on bipartisan U.S. healthcare fix -- Reuters
Trump says he'll tell Bannon to stop picking on Mitch McConnell's friends -- McClatchy
Trump faces blowback after claim about calls to families of the fallen -- The Hill
US 'not taking sides' between Iraqi forces, Kurds: Trump -- AFP
Trump says ‘total termination’ of Iran deal possible -- AP
'Total termination' of Iran nuclear deal possible: Trump -- AFP
Trump says he believes Cuba responsible for attacks that hurt U.S. diplomats -- Reuters
Trump: Cuba ‘is responsible’ for attacks on US personnel -- AP
Trump blames difficulty accessing water in Puerto Rico on local distribution -- CNN
Trump urges former rival Clinton to again seek presidency -- AFP
Trump not considering firing Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller -- CNN
Trump dubs sexual harassment claims 'totally fake news' -- AFP

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- October 16, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a ceremony ahead of their talks at the Kremlin on October 5, 2017. Photo: Sputnik via Reuters

David P. Goldman, Asia Times: Russia emerging as new player in Middle East balance of power

Moscow's sale of a better defense system to the Saudis than to its "ally" Iran is consistent with the pattern of its attempts to influence outcomes in the region, writes Spengler

Remarkably little comment attended the strangest outcome of Saudi King Salman’s four-day visit to Moscow in early October, namely Russia’s sale of its top-of-the-line S-400 air defense system to a country whose relations with Russia have been hostile until recently. It was strange because Iran, habitually characterized as Russia’s “ally” in Western media, was permitted to purchase a much older and inferior Russian system, the S-300.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- October 16, 2017

Russia’s S-400 missile system: A new Middle East invasion -- Stephen Bryen, Asia Times

The Trump Administration Just Stabbed the Kurds in the Front -- Michael J. Totten, World Affairs

Trump's Neutrality Only Deepens the Kurdish Crisis -- Eli Lake, Bloomberg

Procrastination Hasn't Solved Dispute Over Kirkuk -- Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Iran currency run unravels stability -- Gary Kleiman, Asia Times

The Coming Confrontation Between Israel and Iran -- Elliot Abrams, The Atlantic

In Africa, Jihadists See a Chance to Expand -- Allison Fedirka, Geopolitical Futures

Great Power Competition Is Back in Africa. Could the U.S. and Others Collide? -- Steven Metz, WPR

Nigeria’s Next Security Threat -- Ayo Awokoya, Raddington Report

Germany and France push harder line on Brexit talks -- Jacopo Barigazzi and Maïa de La Baume, Politico.eu

Donbas war will be won by force of example, not arms -- Mark Galeotti, European Council on Foreign Relations

A right-wing coalition in Austria threatens the EU -- Bernd Riegert, DW

Where's the EU in the Catalonia Crisis? -- Susi Dennison, New York Times

Haiti, the UN and the unintended effects of a peace mission -- Jan D. Walter, DW

The Demise of Dollar Diplomacy? -- Barry Eichengreen, Project Syndicate

World News Briefs -- October 16, 2017 (Evening Edition)

Reuters: Iraqi forces seize oil city Kirkuk from Kurds in bold advance

BAGHDAD/KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi government forces captured the major Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk on Monday, responding to a Kurdish referendum on independence with a bold lightning strike that transforms the balance of power in the country.

A convoy of armored vehicles from Iraq’s elite U.S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Force seized Kirkuk’s provincial government headquarters on Monday afternoon, less than a day after the operation began, a Reuters reporter in Kirkuk said.

Neither side gave a casualty toll for the operation. But an aid group working in Kirkuk said several Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi soldiers had been killed in an overnight clash south of the city - the only serious fighting reported.

Read more ....


Site of IS beheadings in Raqqa seized by Kurdish-led force. US-backed fighters seize infamous Raqa roundabout from IS.

US-backed Syrian force expects Raqqa victory in ‘a few days’. 'Toughest fighting yet' to oust IS from Syria's Raqa.

Clashes between Iraqi, Kurdish troops close to Kirkuk city.

Turkish troops move into al-Qaida-dominated Syrian province.

Israeli warplanes strike Syrian anti-aircraft battery after coming under 'fire'. Israeli jets attack anti-aircraft battery in Syria in retaliatory strike .

IS claims responsibility for rockets fired into Israel.

Palestinian Authority official in Gaza to advance unity deal.

Israel approves settler housing in the heart of Hebron.

Worn down by censors, Iran's Facebook shuts down.


North Korea warns states: Don't join any U.S. action and you're safe.

North Korea tells UN will not negotiate with a 'hostile' US.

EU slaps new sanctions on North Korea.

Trump to meet Duterte on Asia trip dominated by N.Korea.

China’s Xi looks to solidify grip on power, ensure legacy at key Communist Party meeting. China’s ruling Communist Party reasserts itself under Xi.

Kyrgyz leader's chosen successor wins presidential vote.

Abe on course for landslide win in Japan vote: poll.

Top nuclear envoys of S. Korea, U.S. to meet in Seoul this week.

Philippines military 'kills Islamist Isnilon Hapilon'. Marawi: Leaders of pro-Islamic State siege killed by Philippine troops, Defence Minister says.

Cambodian MPs prepare to take over seats if opposition dissolved.


Cameroon premier in troubled anglophone region for 'dialogue'.

DR Congo wins seat on UN rights council despite US opposition.

Guterres wants UN to help tackle Sahel violence.

Somalia truck bombing toll over 300, scores remain missing.

Somalia bombing death toll rises above 300 as loved ones search hospitals for survivors. Somalia bombing: Death toll from explosion in capital Mogadishu tops 250.

After bombing, Somalia fears renewed al-Shabab onslaught.

World leaders condemn Somalia bombing 'in strongest terms'.

Kenya police killed 67 opposition supporters: Rights groups.

Militants rob bank, attack church in Egypt’s Sinai; 7 dead.

In Madagascar, plague outbreak now threatens largest cities.

Kenya elections: Opposition holds rally in Mombasa.

Weah to face Boakai in Liberia presidential runoff.


Bomb kills reporter who covered Malta’s ‘Panama Papers’ link.

Populist parties gain more victories in European politics.

The world's youngest leader, 31, wins power in Austria: Anti-EU 'Wunderwuzzi' who wants to cut benefits for foreigners triumphs in election - as the far right surges to second and is poised for coalition government.

EU ministers close ranks to support Iran deal. EU defends Iran deal despite Trump, appeals to U.S. Congress.

Madrid moves towards direct rule over Catalonia.

Spain issues new Catalonia deadline, saying response wasn't 'credible'.

EU backs Iran deal, urges US Congress to protect it.

UK leader makes surprise Brussels trip to undo Brexit logjam. Theresa May heads to Brussels before Brexit talks with EU.

Scotland sees progress in Brexit talks with London but still objects to bill.

Russia's Putin signs decree imposing restrictions on North Korea.

Driving through the killer inferno: Terrifying moment motorist escapes wildfires blamed on 'terrorist arsonists' that have claimed dozens of lives in Portugal and Spain. Portugal wildfires kill at least 27; 4 dead in Spain. Portugal and Spain wildfires: Death toll soars to dozens.


Trump, McConnell insist they’re together for GOP agenda.

Trump: Cuba ‘is responsible’ for attacks on US personnel.

Puerto Rico struggles with massive environmental crisis.

Firefighters gaining edge in California wildfires that have killed at least 40. As crews gain ground, California fire victims return home.

EXCLUSIVE: We won’t give back a cent of Harvey Weinstein’s tainted $250,000 says the Clinton Foundation - we’ve spent accused rapist’s every cent claims group run by Bill and Chelsea.

Trump: 'I hope' Hillary Clinton runs in 2020.

Venezuela regional elections: Maduro's party takes most states. Venezuela opposition rejects election results.

US immigration population hits record 60 million, 1-of-5 in nation.

U.S. Army Sergeant Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion.

Big drop in asylum seekers illegally crossing into Canada in September.


Drone strikes target IS training camps in Yemen.

New Jersey man convicted in New York bombing that injured 30.

US special forces deaths in Niger lift veil on shadow war against Islamists in Sahel.

ISIS-affiliated leaders killed in Southern Philippines.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines target ISIS in trilateral air patrols.


Wall St. closes at records helped by finance, energy sectors.

Oil prices rise amid Iraq tensions.

Weinstein Company in talks over possible sale.

Nikkei index highest in over 20 years.

Kaepernick files grievance claiming NFL owners collusion: report.

Are 'Arson Terrorists' Responsible For The Massive Fires In Spain And Portugal?

Daily Mail: Driving through the killer inferno: Terrifying moment motorist escapes wildfires blamed on 'terrorist arsonists' that have claimed dozens of lives in Portugal and Spain

* Authorities in Portugal said that at least 35 people died and dozens were injured by wildfires in the country
* The government in Portugal declared a state of emergency for regions north of the Tajo river during the fires
* In the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia, four people have died and thousands have been evacuated
* Authorities in both countries said that the strong winds from Hurricane Ophelia have fanned the wildfires
* Investigators in both countries have questioned if the fires were started by human and criminal causes

A man who drove through raging wildfires in Portugal says luck was on his side after he filmed himself escaping the deadly blazes ravaging the region.

Wildfires have killed at least 39 people across Portugal and Spain as hundreds of blazes were fanned by strong winds caused by a hurricane, authorities said on Monday.

Thirty-five people - including a one-month-old baby - in Portugal have died and dozens have been injured, most of them firefighters, during fires raging in central and northern areas of the country.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is no proof that I have seen or read that people are running around starting fires. What I see are huge fires, helped along by high winds.

More News On Today's Massive Fires In Spain And Portugal

Wildfires kill at least 35 in Portugal and Spain -- Reuters
Portugal wildfires kill at least 35; 4 dead in Spain -- AP
Deadly Fires Sweep Portugal and Northern Spain -- New York Times
Portugal and Spain wildfires: Dozens dead and injured -- BBC
At least 36 dead from wildfires raging in Portugal, Spain -- UPI
Portugal and Spain wildfires kill at least 35 people -- CNN
Deadly fires rage in Portugal, Spain, ex-Hurricane Ophelia fans flames -- DW
At Least 34 Killed in Wildfires Ravaging Portugal, Spain -- Voice of America

North Korea Rejects Diplomacy With The U.S..

The European Union is set to impose tougher new sanctions upon the regime in North Korea. Reuters.

CNN: North Korea rejects diplomacy with US for now, source says

Washington (CNN)A North Korean official reaffirmed Pyongyang's commitment to developing a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching "all the way to the East coast of the mainland US," on Monday, telling CNN that the rogue nation is currently not interested in diplomacy with the US until it achieves that goal.

North Korea is not ruling out diplomacy, but "before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States," the official said.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If this CNN report is true, then President Trump, President Obama, Japan and South Korea have been right .... Is Trying To Talk With North Korea A Waste Of Time? (October 1, 2017). There is also (IMHO) a lot of truth to this observation .... N.K. unlikely to talk until securing ICBM capability that levels playing field: Robert Gallucci (Yonhap News Agency). More here .... North Korea Unlikely to Negotiate Until It Can Hit US With Nukes, Says Former Ambassador (Epoch Times). In the meantime the North Korean narrative is to blame the U.S. for everything .... North Korea Says It Tested Its Most Powerful Nuclear Bomb Yet Because of the U.S.’ ‘Belligerent Policy’ (Newsweek).

Russian President Putin Has Signed A Decree Imposing Restrictions On North Korea

© Sergey Guneev / Sputnik

RT: Putin signs decree imposing restrictions on N. Korea as Pyongyang delegation is in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree imposing restrictions on North Korea in order to comply with a UN Security Council resolution.

The decree specifically refers to the UN Security Council resolution on restrictions imposed against North Korea in November 2016. The document, spanning almost 40 pages, specifies certain punitive measures that were introduced in 2007. It also refers to 11 North Korean individuals, who have been linked with the country’s nuclear program.

The move comes as a North Korean delegation arrived in St. Petersburg for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Why is Russian President Putin signing this decree now .... even with a North Korean delegation in Moscow right now. The reason why is probably because of this North Korean snub .... North Korea Rejects Direct Talks With South Korea in Russia: RIA (US News and World Report/Reuters). But even with these restrictions, Russia has thrown a "bone" to North Korea .... Russia reopens ferry route to North Korea (Daily Mail/Reuters).

More News On Russian President Putin Signing A Decree That Imposes Restrictions On North Korea

Even Russia Is Slamming North Korea, Despite Blaming U.S. for Missile Launch -- Newsweek
Russia's Putin signs decree imposing restrictions on North Korea -- Reuters
Russia Condemns North Korea Nuclear Tests: Agencies -- US News and World Report/Reuters

Report: U.S. Has Deployed A Special Forces 'Decapitation Team' To South Korea

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan docked at South Korea's Busan Naval Base as part of a routine port visit. Petty Officer 2nd Class Jermaine Ralliford / Business Insider

Yonhap News Agency: S. Korea, U.S. start maritime drills against N. Korea

(Yonhap) -- The South Korean and U.S. navies on Monday kicked off massive combined drills off the coast of the peninsula amid heightened tensions.

The allies plan to continue the Maritime Counter Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) through Friday in the East Sea and the Yellow Sea, also known as the West Sea.

It involves the U.S. 7th Fleet's aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers -- the USS Stethem (DDG-63) and the USS Mustin (DDG-89).

The carrier strike group will train with South Korean warships and other defense assets, such as the Sejong the Great Aegis ship and P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft in the East Sea.

Read more ....

Update #1: The monster nuclear submarine the US sent to South Korea looks like it may be packed with Navy SEALs (Business Insider)
Update #2: US Deploys Special Forces "Decapitation" Team To South Korea (Zero Hedge)

WNU Editor: The key sentence in the above Yonhap report is this one ....

.... A unit of U.S. special forces tasked with carrying out "decapitation" operations is aboard a nuclear-powered submarine in the group, according to a defense source.

This disclosure was deliberate .... to send a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he is not safe.

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl Pleads Guilt To Desertion And Misbehavior

Reuters: U.S. Army Sergeant Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Reuters) - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, accused of endangering fellow soldiers who searched for him after he walked off his combat outpost in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban, pleaded guilty on Monday to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

In court in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Bergdahl admitted leaving his post in Paktika province in June 2009. He said he got lost after 20 minutes, was captured two or three hours later, and that he never wanted to put anyone at risk.

“I was captured by the enemy against my will,” the 31-year-old Idaho native told the hearing. “At the time I had no intention of causing search and recovery operations. ... It’s very inexcusable.”

The offense of misbehavior before the enemy carries a possible life sentence. Neither side has said whether Bergdahl has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The desertion charge carries a maximum 5 years sentence. The misbehavior charge is the serious one .... the maximum is life. No agreement was made for this plea deal, which means that U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Berghdahl is facing jail time, and (I can only presume) no salary reimbursement.

More News On U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl Pleading Guilt To Desertion And Misbehavior

The Latest: Judge accepts Bergdahl's guilty pleas -- ABC News/AP
Army Sgt. Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion, misbehavior -- AP
Bowe Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion for leaving Afghanistan post -- The Guardian
Bowe Bergdahl pleads guilty in desertion, misbehavior case -- ABC News
Bergdahl Pleads Guilty to Desertion, Misbehavior -- Military.com/FOX News
Bowe Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion and misbehavior after leaving base in Afghanistan -- New York Daily News

Israeli Jets Strike Syrian Anti-Aircraft Battery Site After Being Fired Upon

FILE PHOTO. © Baz Ratner / Reuters

The Guardian: Israeli jets attack anti-aircraft battery in Syria in retaliatory strike

Israeli military says airstrike on missile launcher followed attack on jets on reconnaissance mission over Lebanon

Israeli jets have attacked a Syrian government anti-aircraft missile launcher after it fired on its aircraft patrolling in Lebanese air space on a photographic reconnaissance mission, the Israeli military said.

The incident occurred on Monday morning, according to an Israeli military spokesman, who said it was the first time Israeli aircraft had been targeted by Syrian forces while flying over Lebanon since the Syrian war began.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Syria is warning Israel of serious consequences from today's strike .... Syria warns of 'serious repercussions' following Israeli airstrike (The Jerusalem Post). More here .... After IAF strikes anti-aircraft battery, Syria warns of 'dangerous consequences' (The Times of Israel).

More News On Reports That Israeli Jets Struck A Syrian Anti-Aircraft Battery Site After Being Fired Upon

Israeli military strikes anti-aircraft battery in Syria -- AP
Israeli warplanes strike Syrian anti-aircraft battery after coming under 'fire' -- DW
Israeli jets attack anti-aircraft battery in Syria -- Al Jazeera
Israel targets Syrian anti-aircraft battery after its planes take fire -- CNN
Israel destroys anti-aircraft battery in Syria after it fires at IDF jets -- The Times of Israel
Israel attacks Syrian unit that fired at its planes over Lebanon -- Al-Arabiya