Thursday, September 21, 2017

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 21, 2017



Euronews: Western concerns over Russia-Belarus military drills

Seven days of joint Russia-Belarus military exercises have ended amid a warning from the Lithuanian president that the drills could be used as a pretext for an attack on the West.

Dalia Grybauskaitė made the claim during her address to the UN General Assembly on Monday (September 19).

The drills involved 12,700 personnel, according to Russia, as well as aircraft, tanks, rocket systems and other equipment.

“As we speak around 100,000 Russian troops are engaged in offensive military exercises named Zapad 2017,” Grybauskaitė said.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 21, 2017

If Russia gets its war games wrong, Europe could be in big trouble -- The Conversation

Russia flexes military muscle with new warheads and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles -- Mirror

US fighter jets escort Russian bombers over Baltic and Norwegian Seas -- TASS

Russian Strategic Bombers Fly Over Baltic, Norwegian Seas -- Sputnik

Russian warship sails through English Channel -- TASS

The Russians Just Test-Fired an ICBM -- Defense One

What's in the New Russia-Thailand Military Pact? -- The Diplomat

New Generation of Chinese Drones Equipped With Anti-Tank Missiles Unveiled -- Sputnik

Israeli Air Force stands up second Iron Dome battalion -- UPI

Turkish state media boasts about new missile, ability to shoot down US aircraft -- Military Times

Turkey presses ahead with Nato exercises despite Russian arms deal -- Middle East Eye

Poland, NATO troops hold drills amid security concerns -- Washington Post

Official Report Finally Reveals Why Norwegian F-16 Mistook Tower for Target -- Sputnik

Czech Defence Ministry eyes $5B land modernization program, $2B vehicle acquisition -- Defense News

The Royal Navy Faces a Frightening Future Without Anti-Ship Missiles -- The National Interest Online

As Russia threatens, Sweden ponders joining NATO -- The Economist

Trump to 'consider' resuming military aid to Egypt -- The Times of Israel

U.S. Navy, stunned by two fatal collisions, exhausts some sailors with 100-hour workweeks -- National Post/Washington Post

Navy Secretary Says Perry Class Frigates Could Be Brought Back On The Cheap Without Upgrades -- The Drive

Army, Pentagon Upgrade ATACMS Missile to Attack Ships at Sea -- Scout Warrior

Lockheed to Develop ‘Legion Pod’ for Air Force F-15C Fleet -- Defense Tech

Air Force could ground more than 100 A-10s as early as FY18 as life of wings runs out -- Defense News

Mattis: DoD Lines of Effort Include Building a More Lethal Force -- Department of Defense

Air Force Reserve grooming space warriors -- SpaceNews

Air Force and industry rethink requirements to prep for space war -- Defense Systems

Air Force Plans to Test Gunship Laser Next Year, Top Commando Says -- Defense Tech

Air Force: It's Time to Get Rid of Stupid Policies -- Military.com

Mattis spells out how transgender 'ban' will work: No enlisting if you're transitioning and no more sex reassignment surgery starting next year – but current trans troops can keep serving indefinitely -- Daily Mail

The military may soon consider revenge porn a criminal act -- Vox

Commandant to Marines: You’ll have to fight to get to your next fight -- Marine Times

Top Marine general: Commanders need a 'holodeck' for war games -- Marine Times

What government wants from tech in the fight against terror -- Gordon Corera, BBC

Is This China's Second Most Powerful Person?

China's Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Qishan, the head of China's anti-corruption watchdog, attends the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Reuters: China top graft buster says corruption fight 'world class hard'

BEIJING (Reuters) - Fixing the corruption problem in China’s ruling Communist Party is “world class hard” and the battle will never end, the country’s top graft-buster told Singapore’s prime minister in a rare meeting with a visiting foreign leader.

Wang Qishan, who heads the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, has been at the forefront of President Xi Jinping’s fight against deep-seated corruption, and speculation has swirled about whether he will retire or stay on at next month’s key party Congress.

Meeting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the central leadership’s Zhongnanhai compound in Beijing, Wang said the party’s anti-corruption campaign and efforts to supervise itself had been highly effective.

“Carrying out an operation on yourself to cure an illness is world class hard,” the commission cited Wang as saying, in a statement late on Wednesday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I like what one of my Chinese business friends told me last year .... if you get a call from his office, you better put your personal affairs in order. He is President Xi's hammer when it comes to his opponents, and my prediction is that he will stay in his position for the next year or two. As for Chinese corruption .... I was never personally impacted by it, but I can write a book on what I have seen over the past 30 years.

Is The Story Of Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort Wanting To Brief A Russian Billionaire On The U.S. Election A Big Story?

Paul Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's staff listens during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Washington Post: Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaign

Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I call this a "so what" story on Russian collusion, and if this is what they got .... to put it bluntly they got nothing. But if anyone watched the Rachel Maddow show last night (see link here) .... you would think this is the biggest story out there. What I find hilarious about all of this is that if what Manafort did was all wrong, what about the parade of Clinton officials and backers who have done extensive business with Russians .... Podesta being on the top of the list. As I said .... they have nothing.

Why Is The U.S. Main Stream Media Ignoring The Story That ISIS Is Being Destroyed?


Paul Mulshine, NJ.com: Don't look now, but Donald Trump's strategy is beating ISIS in Syria

Did you see all those front-page stories last week about how ISIS is getting trounced in Syria?

Neither did I.

In recent weeks I read more about the high heels that Melania Trump wore on a trip to Texas than I did about the positive developments in a war that was at the center of the foreign-policy debate in last year's presidential election.

In that debate, you may recall, Donald Trump went against most of the candidates from his own party in welcoming the Russian military into the war against ISIS as an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"Russia wants to get rid of ISIS as much as we do because they don't want them coming into Russia," he said way back in 2015.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My take on why ISIS has rapidly collapsed in the past 6 months has more to do with President Trump giving US Defense Secretary Mattis the authorization to pursue his annihilation strategy against ISIS than Russia or Syria upping their military campaign. Not surprising .... the main stream media is no longer covering this story, and if anyone wants to learn more on what is happening in the Middle East, you have to rely on the foreign press or military blogs.

Update: They have no choice .... Islamic State changes battlefield tactics to guerrilla warfare after losing territory to coalition (Washington Times).

U.S. Army Reveals Their Laser System To Shoot Down Drones

Last month’s tests saw Athena up against five Outlaw unmanned drones, each with a 10.8-foot wingspan. Using its advanced beam control technology and fiber laser, it managed to take down all five in an invisible attack from below

Daily Mail: US Army reveals video of 'Athena' laser weapon shooting down FIVE drones in most impressive test yet

* 'Athena' is a ground-based laser system that can be mounted atop vehicles
* In tests at White Sands Missile Range, it shot down 5 unmanned Outlaw drones
* The system causes loss of control and structural failure in an invisible attack

Lockheed Martin has released new footage from tests with its laser weapon system, revealing how ‘Athena’ can deliver an invisible killing blow to take down an enemy drone.

In the tests conducted last month at New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, the prototype weapon successfully shot down five unmanned Outlaw aircraft.

The hair-raising footage shows the moment flames burst from the tails of the flying drones one by one before they plummet toward the ground, as the silent attack causes both loss of control and structural failure.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It appears that this laser system is designed to shoot down multiple drones, and if the video is any indication, it is also highly successful.

A New Refugee Crisis In Africa


Reuters: As Congo refugees pour over border, Angola's backing for Kabila in doubt

DUNDO, Angola (Reuters) - Captured by militia and accused of being married to a Congolese government official, Kimpanga Caro could smell the fire she was told would be used to burn her decapitated head to ash.

Caro, whose husband is a pastor not an official, was freed when one of the militiamen recognized her. She raced back home to find her husband in their ransacked village. They fled south, on foot with their five children, towards a country they heard was safe: Angola.

Thirty thousand of her compatriots have made the same journey so far, among 1.4 million people driven from their homes in a year of violence in the central Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Peace talks to stem the violence have started .... Congo Leader Opens Peace Conference in Bloody Kasai Region (VOA). Is there reason to be optimistic .... considering the history of the region probably not.

The Next Gen Fighter?



The WarDrive/The Drive: No, That YF-23 Like Rendering Of The Skunk Works' Next Gen Fighter Isn't New

The concept may be ironic, but it isn't new.

There's lots of hype going around regarding Lockheed Skunk Works' most recent promotional video that seems to have been released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force. The commotion surrounds what some say appears to be a 6th generation fighter concept—one that looks a hell of a lot like Northrop's passed over YF-23 Black Widow Advanced Tactical Fighter. The thing is that this isn't a new concept at all, it first appeared in video nearly four years ago in another Skunk Works sizzle reel and I did a little post on it then noting its likeness to the YF-23. The message couldn't have been stranger: "the future of air dominance is a refreshed 25 year old competitor's design!"

Read more ....

WNU Editor: What is old is new again.

A Different Viewpoint On The Crisis In Myanmar And The Rohingya

A large plume of smoke is seen on the Myanmar side of the border from Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 15, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Bertil Lintner, Asia Times: The truth behind Myanmar’s Rohingya insurgency

While the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army claims to be fighting an ethno-nationalist struggle, its leaders and extremist group links point towards a wider regional agenda.

While Myanmar’s emergent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claims it’s like other ethnic armed groups fighting for self-determination across the country and should not be branded as a terrorist organization, the realities on the ground tell a different tale.

ARSA represents an entirely new type of insurgency, one which the Myanmar military has demonstrated it is wholly ill-equipped to combat. Other ethnic resistance armies in Myanmar, such as those from the Kachin, Shan, Karen or Mon, dress in military uniforms with the names of their respective groups prominently displayed and badges showing their ranks.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: There is some truth to the above Asia Times post. WNU has been covering the ongoing insurgency in Rakhine state for a long time .... Violence Erupts In Myanmar's Region Bordering Bangladesh (October 10, 2016). And before the Rohingya crisis exploded last month, there was an insurgent attack on a number of police posts last month .... Rohingya Muslim Insurgents Have Launched Multiple Attacks Against Myanmar Police Posts (August 25, 2017). Does this justify ethnic cleansing .... of course not. But there is more to this conflict than just the exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Tweets For Today




After The War Comes The Clean-Up

A member of an Iraqi unit searches for bombs and mines near the site of an explosion in the city of Mosul, Iraq March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

Jack Detsch, Al-Monitor: US faces WWII-scale explosives cleanup in Iraq after Islamic State fight

Iraq’s fight to defeat the Islamic State won’t end with the military defeat of the group.

As the US-backed Iraqi Security Forces liberated Mosul and Tal Afar this summer, retreating fighters continued to leave behind scores of complex improvised explosive devices (IEDs), deliberately hidden in populated areas to kill and injure civilians. US officials tell Al-Monitor that American support for the Herculean effort to clear those vestiges of the three-year war might be needed for decades.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In Europe they are still finding bombs from World War One. In the case of Iraq .... I suspect that this work is going to last for decades.

Picture Of The Day

Soldiers, rescuers and people work at a collapsed building in Mexico City. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Mexico reels after devastating earthquake (Reuters).

Will The Mueller Commission Question Julian Assange?

Julian Assange

WNU Editor: Just want to share something that I have been wondering about for the past month. It was Julian Assange and Wikileaks that posted the emails that resulted in all the investigations, massive media speculation and hype, political battles that no one has seen since Watergate, wide spread demonstrations and accusations of electoral fraud ... culminating with the U.S. government imposing sanctions on Russia and the creation of the Mueller Commission whose purpose is to investigate Russia's role in last year's election. But what I do not understand is that even though all of these investigations and controversies center around what Julian Assange did last year .... no one from the Mueller team has even bothered to contact him or Wikileaks. No one. Just ponder that point.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Where Are The Russian Experts?


Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg: Wanted: Russia Experts, No Expertise Required

Jingoism has replaced scholarship and a spirit of real inquiry when it comes to Russia. That's a mistake.

There's a lot to unpack about the newly formed Committee to Investigate Russia, which aims to "help Americans recognize and understand the gravity of Russia’s continuing attacks on our democracy." Perhaps its most striking feature is that no Russia experts are involved; that's a sign of the times.

The Committee's birth received broad coverage in the U.S. because of the involvement of two celebrity actors, Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman, who introduced the new nonprofit in a video asserting that "We are at war." Reiner doesn't appear to have come into contact with Russia in his long career. Freeman made two movies with Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian director, including the 2016 flop "Ben Hur."

Read more ....

WNU Editor:I know how you feel Leonid Bershidsky .... no one is going to hire us .... but it is us that these "Russian experts" are always reading to know/learn what is happening in Russia.

Why China Will Not Accept A Nuclear Armed North Korea

Sarah Zheng, South China Morning Post: Three reasons China will not accept a nuclear armed North Korea

China’s ambassador to the US has said Beijing will not accept a nuclear armed North Korea amid the crisis over Pyongyang’s rapidly escalating weapons programme.

Cui Tiankai’s comments on Friday came after some experts and observers have said global powers should accept that Pyongyang has nuclear weapons and policy should now be directed at ensuring they do not use them.

Here are three reasons why China is so opposed to Kim Jong-un’s regime having nuclear arms:

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese that I know are horrified with what is happening in North Korea .... but they are too late. On my last trip to China a few years ago I was always talking about North Korea and the growing backlash against China's trade policies, but my Chinese hosts only wanted to talk about border disputes in the South China Sea and their dispute with Japan over a few islands. To them .... Chinese sovereignty and nationalism ruled the day, and issues like North Korea/tariff and trade restrictions/etc. were not even on their radar.. Today .... when I talk to them on Skype .... nothing but trade and North Korea.

We Are Now In A Pre-War Period

Earlier North Korea unveiled 'game-changer' ballistic missiles during a display of the country's military might

Arthur Waldron, FPRI: Our Brave New Nuclear World

So now we have a North Korea armed with long-range missiles and thermonuclear weapons. Make no mistake. This is the new normal. Pyongyang will never give them up, and no one can make them do so.

The follow-on effects of this development will transform global politics and security policy. A wave of nuclear proliferation and military buildup is definitely to be expected. So one must ask: given our knowledge of what was going on in North Korea, how did we ever let this happen? Also we must ask, what realistically can be done to lower the threat of war?

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Could not have said it any better. But stopping a threat before it becomes too big of a threat to stop is also fraught with danger. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was to stop Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program before he became a real threat .... and we all know how that story turned out.

What Does The Total Destruction Of North Korea Mean?



Kori Schake, The Atlantic: What Total Destruction of North Korea Means

As Trump considers military options, he’s drawing unenforceable red lines.

Speaking before the UN General Assembly today, President Donald Trump announced that, unless North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, “the United States will have no choice but to totally destroy” the country. He sounded almost excited as he threatened, “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

North Korea is a serious problem, and not one of Trump’s making—the last four American presidents failed to impede North Korea’s progress towards a nuclear weapon. President George H.W. Bush took unilateral action, removing U.S. nuclear weapons and reducing America’s troop levels in the region, hoping to incentivize good behavior; Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush tried to negotiate restrictions; President Barack Obama mostly averted his eyes. North Korea defied them all.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a critical post on President Trump's U.N. remarks on North Korea yesterday .... but I think the author is missing the big picture, which is that North Korea's development of hydrogen bombs and a delivery system to carry them has completely changed the geopolitics of the region .... if not the world. President Trump's rhetoric was hard-core yesterday .... but a response had to be delivered in view of what is being said in North Korea. To put it bluntly .... using rhetoric promising the destruction of the U.S. if his (Kim Jong-Un's) demands are not met has crossed so many red-lines that I do not know where to begin. To put everything in context .... in the past the U.S., Soviet Union, China, etc. were very careful on the rhetoric that they used when it came to nuclear weapons. And if any country had used the rhetoric that Kim Jong-Un is using now, I can assure you that a nuclear war would have erupted very quickly. That is why I worry about the future .... if war breaks out on the Korean peninsula today the deployment and usage of nuclear weapons by the U.S. will happen very quickly. No leader in Washington, Tokyo, and I will even say Seoul itself .... is going to take the chance that in such a conflict North Korea may launch nuclear missiles at their cities. This is what it means when you become a nuclear state .... a conventional war with the U.S. and its allies is no longer an option .... because U.S. military doctrine will work under the assumption that such a conflict will quickly precipitate into a nuclear one. Is North Korea aware of this .... I do not know .... but they are certainly behaving in a manner where they do not care. My prediction .... if the DMZ explodes into war, expect dozens of U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons being deployed and used to destroy suspected North Korean command and control centers, and nuclear/missile storage sites. That is what the total destruction of North Korea will look like.

Update: Since his speech yesterday the pundits and politicians in Washington have been relentless in their criticisms of President Trump and his remarks on North Korea. But for those who are living under the threat of North Korea and who are aware of the extreme danger that we are now living under, a different reaction .... Donald Trump applauded by Japan, South Korea for brazenness on North Korea in UN speech (ABC News Online).

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 20, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller: Is This The Next War In The Middle East?

President Donald Trump reportedly warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates not to use military force in the early days of their regional dispute with Qatar in a meeting at the U.N. Tuesday, according to Bloomberg News.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab countries diplomatically cut off relations with Qatar in June, alleging that the tiny nation is funding terrorists and is too close to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Qatar instead maintains that it is being bullied for an independent foreign policy, and has found little room for compromise in the now months-long crisis.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 20, 2017

In Kurdish Referendum, a Vote for Independence May Be a Vote for Battle -- Micah Halpern, Observer

A Man Who Could Have Changed Iran -- Andrew Scott Cooper & David Daoud, RCW

100 Days and Counting of Pointless Arab Self-Destruction -- Anthony Cordesman, RCW

Yingluck’s flight reinforces Thai military rule -- Shawn W. Crispin, Asia Times

What the US Military (Still) Doesn’t Understand About Afghanistan -- Ann Jones, The Nation

Afghanistan, Regional Security and the Central Asia Republics -- STRATFOR

The real deal Trump has to make on Afghanistan -- Maysam Behravesh, Reuters

Japan’s Abe to pledge something for all generations in snap election -- Yoshifumi Takemoto and Takashi Umekawa, Asia Times

Togo protests: Why are people marching against Faure Gnassingbé? -- Alex Duval Smith BBC

Catalan Separatists Are on a Path to Failure -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Is this the most dangerous man in Britain? -- Oliver Wiseman, CapX

Don’t be fooled by Merkel’s aura of invincibility -- Paul Wallace, Reuters

Time for US to push back on China’s economic bullying of allies -- Grant Newsham, Asia Times

Is the U.S. Prepared for ISIS's Latest Terror Tactic? -- Shazar Shafqat, RCD

Coalition building and compromise are the future of global leadership. Here’s why. -- Sophie Eisentraut, Out Of Order

World News Briefs -- September 20, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Washington Post: Puerto Rico entirely without power as Hurricane Maria hammers island with force not seen in ‘modern history’

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria raked across Puerto Rico on Wednesday as the most powerful storm to strike the island in more than 80 years, ripping roofs off buildings, filling homes with water and knocking out power to the entire population.

"Definitely Puerto Rico — when we can get outside — we will find our island destroyed," Puerto Rico's emergency management director, Abner Gomez, said at a midday news conference, adding that 100 percent of the island is without electricity. "The information we have received is not encouraging. It's a system that has destroyed everything it has had in its path."

The storm first slammed into the coast near Yabucoa at 6:15 a.m. with 155 mph winds — the first Category 4 hurricane to directly strike the island since 1932. By midmorning, Maria had fully engulfed the 100-mile-long island as winds snapped palm trees, peeled off rooftops and sent debris skidding across beaches and roads. By afternoon, the intense gusts had become less frequent and the lashing rains eased, giving residents their first glimpse of the storm's wake.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iran says it does not expect U.S. to leave nuclear deal. Iran defends nuclear deal, warns Trump to respect it.

Mines hold up Iraqi advance against IS in western desert.

Russia's air force killed 850 militants in Syria in last 24 hours: Interfax.

Syria war: Assault on IS-held Raqqa in 'final stages'. US-backed force seizes 90% of Syria's Raqa from IS.

US confirms Syrian Army crossed deconfliction zone in Deir el-Zour.

Curfew imposed in Iraqi city before Kurdish independence vote.

Kurdish referendum: Turkey's Erdogan demands vote be called off.

Suffering grips Yemen three years after rebel takeover.

Palestinians submit Israel 'war crime' evidence to ICC.

Israel shoots down Iranian-made drone over Syrian frontier: military.

Israeli leader vows to keep Iran from establishing military bases in Syria.

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on internet calls.

ASIA

Trump urges 'strong and swift' U.N. action to end Rohingya crisis.

Japan PM says time for North Korea dialogue is over.

Kyrgyzstan accuses Kazakhstan of election 'influence'.

UN demands access to Myanmar's Rakhine amid Rohingya crisis.

Rohingya refugees take little heart from speech by Myanmar's Suu Kyi.

Rohingya crisis: Suu Kyi speech criticised by global leaders.

Nine communist rebels dead in Philippine clash: military.

Donald Trump applauded by Japan, South Korea for brazenness on North Korea in UN speech.

China calls for 'six-party' diplomacy on North Korea.

Japan's Abe using North Korea's threats to boost election chances.

Afghanistan arms civilians to protect mosques during holy month.

Bali volcano: Locals urged to stay calm as Mount Agung threatens to erupt.

AFRICA

Sudan's Bashir pushes for Darfur arms collection.

US, EU slam DR Congo army for using 'excessive force'.

Congo leader opens peace conference in bloody Kasai region.

12 dead, 92 missing as floods hit eastern DR Congo.

Rival protests in Togo as government blasts street 'coup d'etat'.

Riek Machar's men blamed for deadly South Sudan raid.

Unveiling new Libya plan, U.N. sees opportunity for peace.

Kenya court blames electoral commission over annulled election. Kenya court blames polls commission for botched vote.

Cameroon using 'anti-terror' law to silence media: CPJ.

Zimbabwe renames airport after President Mugabe.

EUROPE

Spanish police arrest Catalan officials in attempt to halt illegal independence referendum. Catalonia referendum: Spain steps up raids to halt vote.

Theresa May ‘will offer Brussels £20bn for a transition deal’ in crucial speech after Boris Johnson BACKS DOWN on resignation threat.

Merkel dismisses hecklers as polls point to fourth term.

Dutch government seeks to overturn court ruling on Srebrenica.

Beslan siege: Russia 'will comply' with critical ruling.

Grenfell Tower death toll may fall as fraudsters may have invented missing relatives.

Melania Trump lawsuit threat forces Zagreb language school to remove billboards.

AMERICAS

Hurricane Maria cuts electricity, triggers flooding across Puerto Rico.

Scramble for survivors as quake flattens Mexico City buildings.

Brazil Supreme Court sends new Temer graft charges to Congress.

Trump made decision on Iran nuclear deal but does not reveal it.

Trump pressing GOP senators to act on new health proposal.

California to file lawsuit over Trump border wall.

Maduro calls Trump 'new Hitler' after his remarks about Venezuela in UN speech.

New surge in migrants crossing US-Canada border.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

UK's May urges internet firms to remove extremist content quicker.

Al-Qaida propaganda outlet posts ‘wanted dead or alive’ poster of Trump.

London Underground blast: UK police arrest two more in tube attack investigation.

IS-aligned militant jailed over plot to bomb Indonesian presidential palace.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall St. closes slightly higher after Fed policy decisions.

US Federal Reserve keeps interest rates unchanged.

IMF's Lagarde warns US won't meet growth targets amid slow reforms.

Ryanair provides update on flight cancellations.

Report: 40 million live in slavery, 125 million in child labor.