Sunday, October 22, 2017

Niger's Problem With Militants Has Been Growing For A Long Time

War-Zone/The Drive: The U.S. Military's Incident In Niger Has Been a Long Time Coming

A "light footprint," limited resources, and political complexities put American troops in Africa at increased risk.

The revelation that a private contractor took part in the efforts to rescue American service members who came under attack in Niger, which The War Zone first reported, has prompted renewed scrutiny of the U.S. military’s preparedness in the region and even viral conspiracy theories about the incident. In reality, already underscored by the infamous Benghazi incident, it highlights a long-standing set of issues and it’s a wonder such things haven’t occurred more often.

At the core of the present debate is why American soldiers in Niger had to rely primarily on air support from French forces in the area, as well as contract aircrews stationed in the country’s capital Niamey, after they came under attack from militants near the border with Mali on Oct. 4, 2017. How this all contributed to U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson ending up missing for two days afterwards before local forces found him dead remains unclear. That the combined force of U.S. and Nigerien troops reportedly rode in unarmored vehicles and had only personal weapons when they encountered more than 50 enemy fighters in trucks with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades has only served to add apparent insult to injury, though.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This blog has been covering Niger and its militancy problem for a long time ....

Niger Has Become A Key U.S. Counter-Terrorism Partner In Africa (April 24, 2016)
Jihadists Blamed For Military Assault On A Refugee Camp In Niger That Kills 22 Soldiers (October 7, 2016)
The Growing Importance Of Niger In U.S. Anti-Terrorism Operations (April 16, 2013)
Is The Conflict In Mali Now Shifting To Niger? (April 13, 2013)
Niger Is The Latest Country To Join The U.S. War On Terror (March 26, 2013)
Islamist Militants Make Inroads In Niger (August 18, 2012).

So when President Obama deployed U.S. forces to Niger a few years ago to assist in counter-terrorism operations  .... did he make a mistake to keep a "small footprint". Upon reflection .... my answer is no. The threat was there but it was low-key, and the U.S. presence was kept at a minimum to respect what governments like Niger wanted. But here is an easy prediction. After what happened 2 weeks ago in Niger, the U.S. military presence and the support that it can get is going to change significantly in the coming weeks .... starting with the positioning of far more lethal assets in the field.

President Trump Credits Social Media And Twitter For Winning The White House

Reuters: Trump defends tweets as key to White House victory

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump defended his regular use of social media, especially Twitter, and said he may not have won the White House without it.

In an interview airing on Sunday on “Fox Business Network,” Trump says he can bypass what he labels unfair media coverage by speaking directly.

“Tweeting is like a typewriter -- when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show,” he said, according to a transcript released by the network. “I doubt I would be here if weren’t for social media, to be honest with you.”

Trump called his social media accounts on Facebook Inc (FB.O), Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Instagram “a tremendous platform.”

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WNU Editor: President Franklin Roosevelt used radio in his fireside chats. President Kennedy was sensitive to the reach and power of television. President Trump has embraced social media, and with 41 million followers he can easily reach those who support him (and those who do not) almost immediately.

The Kim Family Have Consolidated Their Control Of North Korea

On Friday North Korea’s state-controlled media outlet KCNA transmitted footage of Kim Yo Jung touring new construction in progress at a tree nursery along with her brother Kim Jong Un. File Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

South China Morning Post: With sister’s promotion, Kim Jong-un consolidates family’s control over North Korea

Adam Cathcart writes that Kim Yo-jong can no longer be ignored by North Koreans who must shield the Kim family from plots and internal discontent.

When looking at North Korea, sometimes it is useful to tune out the Americans altogether and look at who is governing the country internally, and how they are doing it. As the instrument that built and continues to amplify the overarching personality cult of the Kims, the Korean Workers’ Party remains an important vehicle both for controlling and understanding North Korea. On October 7, the party’s Central Committee voted to elevate Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, to the rank of alternate to the Politburo. It is a further reminder of the unique family dynamic that continues to shape the nominally socialist regime and increasingly marketised society.

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WNU Editor: She is probably her brother's closest adviser.

If North Korea Goes Ahead With Its Threat To Do An Above-Ground Nuclear Test, This Is How It Would Go Down

Alex Lockie, Aol/Business Insider: North Korea has been threatening an aboveground nuclear detonation — here's how it could go down

* North Korea has threatened to detonate a nuclear device aboveground.
* Such a test could turn China, and the world, against it.
* The US may even strike to prevent it, but North Korea may do it anyway.

North Korea recently repeated its threat to test a nuclear device aboveground, in what would be its most dangerous and provocative move ever, unleashing a massive explosion and hale of radiation that could turn the world decisively against it.

After President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if provoked, Pyongyang responded by saying it may test "an unprecedented scale hydrogen bomb," which experts interpreted as possibly meaning a detonation of a nuclear-armed missile above the Pacific.

But regardless of what Trump says, North Korea has reasons to test aboveground.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If North Korea wants to freak out the world .... specifically it's neighbors (China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia) .... it would be to detonate an above-ground hydrogen bomb. I can easily see the reaction right now. The leaders would be beyond upset and angry, but the public in all of these countries would be beyond livid. Complete and total sanctions by every neighboring country would be the immediate action. A naval blockade would be next. And expect the biggest arms buildup on the borders of North Korea in a manner that has not been seen for generations.

More Details Emerge On South Korea's 'Frankenmissile'

Straits Times: South Korean army reveals plan to develop 'Frankenmissile' targeting North Korea

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - South Korea's military plans to develop a "Frankenmissile" to counter North Korea's escalating missile and nuclear capabilities in a bid to overwhelm the North during the initial phase of the war.

In its report for an annual parliamentary audit by the National Assembly's Defence Committee, the army said they would develop the "Hyunmoo IV" surface-to-surface missile, powerful enough to destroy North Korea's underground military facilities and command centre.

Combined with indigenous tactical surface-to-surface missiles and Hyunmoo-class intermediate-range ballistic missiles, the advanced pre-emptive strike capability would inflict "unbearable cost" on the North by neutralising its nuclear and missile sites, as well as long-range artillery units, the army said.

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Previous Post: A Look At South Korea's 'Frankenmissile' (September 12, 2017)

Update #1: South Korea's New 'Frankenmissile' Would Take Out North Korea's Kim Jong Un and His Nuclear Weapons (Newsweek)
Update #2: South Korea developing 'Frankenmissile' to combat North Korean nuclear threat (International Business Times)

WNU Editor: The South Koreans are going to need a lot more than a few "Frankenmissiles" to stop North Korea.

U.S.-Backed Forces Have Seized Syria's Largest Oil Fields From The Islamic State

A road sign welcomes people to the town of Deir al-Zor in Syria September 20, 2017. Picture taken September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

FOX News: Syria's largest oil field seized from ISIS by US-backed forces

Syria's largest oil field was seized from the Islamic State terror group on Sunday by the U.S.-led coalition, dealing another blow to the extremist group after the loss of its de-facto capital last week.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forced, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition, said it captured the Al-Omar field in a "swift and wide military operation," adding that some militants have taken cover in oil company houses nearby, where clashes are underway.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That U.S.-Backed Forces Have Seized Syria's Largest Oil Fields From The Islamic State

U.S.-backed militias seize key oil field in east Syria: SDF -- Reuters
U.S.-allied force captures Syria's largest oil field from ISIS -- CBS/AP
US-backed forces seize major Syria oilfield -- AFP
US-backed SDF captures Syria's largest oil field from 'Islamic State' -- DW
US-backed forces claim capturing 1 of Syria's largest oil fields -- Xinhua
Syrian Democratic Forces Recapture Oil Field in Deir ez-Zor Province -- Sputnik

Photo Of Lady Gaga With Five Former U.S. Presidents In One Photo

The Hill: Photo of Lady Gaga and five former presidents goes viral

A photo of pop music star Lady Gaga and all five living former presidents went viral on social media this weekend as the group united to raise money for disaster relief.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama gathered for a benefit concert at the One America Appeal fundraiser.

The five leaders joined together to raise money for victims of the recent hurricanes that have devastated the U.S.

The joint effort has raised $31 million so far for disaster relief, the campaign announced hours before the concert.

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WNU Editor: Lady Gaga for President. :)

Celebrations In Raqqa By Women Who Feel Liberated That They No Longer Have To Wear The Burqa

WNU Editor: The above video is quite a sight to see .... and it has been repeated many times when a region has been liberated from ISIS .... celebrations by women that the burka and all that it symbolizes is no more. In Canada where I live .... the opposite .... protests against those who want to ban the burka and all that it symbolizes when it comes to using public services .... Montreal protesters don surgical masks, scarves over new face-covering law (CBC). Two different places .... two different reactions .... and all happening at the same time. As to what is my take .... this issue is not a priority in my life, probably because I grew up in the Soviet Union where many girls and women have worn (and are still wearing) head-scarfs like this one. I have also given these scarfs as gifts (which can also be used as a neck scarf). Bottom line .... from my experience it has always been a personal choice, influenced by culture, and worn by women not because they are forced to do so, but because they want to. But what I find interesting about the debate in Canada is that the burka and niqab has long been associated with groups like the Taliban and the Islamic State to subjugate women. For these women, it was never a choice .... it was an obligation. And for those who have escaped that type of treatment (two of my friends are women who left Iran 25 years ago) .... I have found these women to be the most vociferous opponents on permitting this type of clothing in public. As one put it to me rather bluntly on Friday when I asked her about the debate that was happening in Canada .... she sees the burka/niqab in the same way that Blacks see people dress up as the Klan .... symbols of oppression and hate, and definitely not as a religious issue. But that is not how the debate is being framed in Canada .... which is unfortunate .... the women who have lived in that type of society do need to be heard, but for the moment their voices are being ignored.

WNU Editor: 2 minutes after posting this story, a reader of this blog (and a well know female reporter to boot) just emailed me on how do you put on a Russian scarf. Paula, the answer is here .... How To Style Russian Scarves. :)

Bowe Bergdahl Complains That The U.S. Army Has Treated Him Worse Than The Taliban

Daily Mail: Bowe Bergdahl whines that the US treated him WORSE than the Taliban as he faces a life sentence for desertion

* Bowe Bergdahl complains about his treatment by US in new interview
* He deserted his post in Afghanistan in 2009 for reasons that are unclear
* Was held captive by the Taliban for five years until his release in 2014
* Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion charges in military court Monday morning
* He did not strike a deal with prosecutors on sentencing and faces up to life

Bowe Bergdahl has whined that the US treated him worse than his Taliban captors in a newly released interview, as he faces up to life in prison for desertion.

'At least the Taliban were honest enough to say, "I’m the guy who’s gonna cut your throat",' the 31-year-old Army sergeant told the The Sunday Times of London in an interview released on Sunday.

'Here, it could be the guy I pass in the corridor who’s going to sign the paper that sends me away for life,' the Army deserter griped in the interview, which was recorded last year and is his first video interview since returning to the US.

'We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs.'

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is hard to tell from videos and press reports on what is the current state of mind of Bowe Bergdahl. But the impression that I am getting is that he does not truly understand the consequences of what he did. He deliberately put a lot of lives risk .... and soldiers were probably lost and/or injured looking for him. But there is little if any genuine reaction from him  .... it is like a distant memory for him. A normal person would show enormous remorse for what happened .... and that person would be repeating it everyday and to everyone. But not in the case of Bowe Bergdahl .... very little remorse .... but a lot of complaints (in his opinion) on being treated unfairly and without justice. Here is an easy prediction .... when the judge makes the determination on what his sentence should be, he will be taking this lack of remorse into consideration.

More News On Bowe Bergdahl

Dramatic Sentencing Hearing Expected in Bergdahl Case -- Bloomberg
Deserter Bergdahl says Taliban more 'honest' than US Army -- Fox News
Bowe Bergdahl Says Returning to US Was as Tough as Captivity -- NBC
Bowe Bergdahl: US treated me worse than the Taliban -- NYPost

Former U.S. President Carter Wants To Be President Trump's Envoy To North Korea

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says he would go to North Korea on Trump's behalf. REUTERS / Neil Hall

Business Insider/Reuters: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says he would travel to North Korea on a diplomatic mission

* Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he would be willing to travel to North Korea on a diplomatic mission.
* "I told him that I was available if they ever need me," Carter allegedly told National Security Adviser Lt.-Gen. H. R. McMaster.
* In the mid-1990s, Carter travelled to Pyongyang and struck a deal with Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the current leader.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he would be willing to travel to North Korea on behalf of the Trump administration to help diffuse rising tensions, The New York Times reported on its website on Sunday.

"I would go, yes," Carter, 93, told the Times when he was asked in an interview at his ranch house in Plains, Georgia whether it was time for another diplomatic mission and whether he would do so for President Trump.

Carter, a Democrat who was president from 1977 to 1981, said he had spoken to Trump's National Security Adviser Lt.-Gen. H. R. McMaster, who is a friend, but so far has gotten a negative response.

"I told him that I was available if they ever need me,” the Times quoted Carter as saying.

Read more ....

Update #1: Jimmy Carter Lusts for a Trump Posting (New York Times)
Update #2: Jimmy Carter willing to be Trump's envoy to North Korea (Washington Examiner)

WNU Editor: As I had commented on this post, not a good idea .... Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Wants To Go To North Korea And Meet Kim Jong-un (October 9, 2017).

WHO Has Cancelled The Appointment Of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe As A Goodwill Ambassador

BBC: WHO cancels Robert Mugabe goodwill ambassador role

The World Health Organization has revoked the appointment of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador following a widespread outcry.

"I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns," WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

He had previously praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health.

But critics pointed out that Zimbabwe's healthcare system had collapsed under Mr Mugabe's 30-year rule.

Staff often go without pay, medicines are in short supply, and Mr Mugabe, who has outlived the average life expectancy in his country by three decades, travels abroad for medical treatment.

Read more ....

Update #1: Mugabe removed as WHO goodwill ambassador after outcry: statement (Reuters)
Update #2: WHO Removes Mugabe as 'Good-Will Ambassador' (New York Times)

WNU Editor: Robert Mugabe is the poster child for what a racist, uncaring, greedy, and incompetent but murderous leader looks like. The next step should be the resignation of the idiot within WHO who wanted Robert Mugabe to be its goodwill ambassador.

Exit Polls: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Has Secured A Massive Win In Parliamentary Elections

DW: Japan's Shinzo Abe wins resounding election victory

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has secured a commanding victory in early parliamentary elections held on Sunday. Abe called for the early vote to reinforce his mandate amid a growing security crisis with North Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition was on track to win by a wide margin on Sunday's, according to media exit polls.

A survey by Japan’s TBS television showed Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition was set to win 311 seats, meaning it would hold its two-thirds "super majority" in the 465-member lower house. Other broadcasters, however, predicted that the coalition would fall just short of the super majority mark.

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WNU Editor: This is a huge win for him. The final results will be announced tomorrow.

More News On Japan's Parliamentary Elections

Japan exit polls show Abe to win fresh majority in election -- Nikkei Asian Review
Exit polls show win for Japanese PM Abe’s ruling coalition -- AP
Abe sweeps to resounding victory in Japan vote -- AFP
Japan PM Abe's ruling bloc on track for big win in election: TV exit polls -- Reuters
Shinzo Abe secures strong mandate in Japan's general election -- The Guardian
Abe May Retain Supermajority in Japan Vote, Exit Poll Says -- Bloomberg
Abe: Nationalist blueblood at home, shrewd diplomat abroad -- AFP
Japan: Is a new sun rising for Japan's Shinzo Abe? -- Martin Fritz, DW

Is The Spanish Government Pushing People In Catalonia To The Pro-Independece Movement?

James Glenday, ABC News Online: Catalonia: Will the Spanish Government's tactics drive people to the pro-independence movement?

Among the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have been flocking to the streets of Barcelona, there are many who claim to have recently converted to the cause of Catalan independence.

"Each step the Spanish Government is doing it turns more people to independence," says Elena Jimenez from Omnium Cultura, one of Catalonia's big pro-independence cultural organisations.

"That's why we don't really understand the Spanish Government's tactics.

"It's almost like they don't understand us here at all."

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WNU Editor: The Spanish government should have taken the Canadian example on how to handle an independence movement .... I should know because I now live here. The french province of Quebec has had two referendums on independence. The first one was in 1980 with a very clear-cut question .... the No side won by 59.5%. The second referendum was in 1995 on an ambiguous question led by an energized leadership pushing for independence .... the No side won by only 50.5%. The fall-out from that close call reverberated throughout Canada for at least a decade, and the net result has been two things .... (from Wikipedia) the federal government, after unilaterally recognizing Quebec as a distinct society and amending the federal constitutional veto procedure, referred the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada, which stated that the unilateral secession contemplated in the referendum was illegal. And the second requirement is that in any future referendum .... all sides must agree on a clear-cut question. But this was not enough to kill the separatist movement in Quebec, what has killed it .... and former Canadian Prime Minister Harper has not been given the proper credit for this .... is that the former PM ruled in a very unique way that tempered and neutered the rational for the independence movement. And what was that style .... is style of ruling was to have the central government dictate policy directions and objectives, but he permitted the provinces on how to implement these policies while giving them the monies and resources to do it. The current Prime Minister .... Justin Trudeau .... is now doing the opposite. He is dictating policies, and he is also telling the provinces that they must implement it his way. Not surprising .... in the past year separatist sentiments in Quebec are now rising.

For the Spanish government .... they have clearly embarked on using a policy of using a sledgehammer to crush Catalonian independence. There is no room for compromise, accommodation, or even discussion. And for the Catalonian leadership .... jail if they refuse .... One Can Now Make The Claim That Spain Keeps Political Prisoners (October 17, 2017). I have asked my political friends in Quebec and in the Canadian federal government on what would have happened if the Canadian government employed the same tactics and policies that the Spanish government is now doing in Catalonia. Without exception .... all of my friends in Quebec and Canada (federalist and separatist) are saying that Quebec would be independent today.

President Trump Says After The Recapture Of Raqqa The 'End Of ISIS Caliphate Is In Sight'

Reuters: Trump: Raqqa fall 'critical breakthrough', end of Islamic State in sight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday hailed the defeat of Islamic State fighters in their self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa as “a critical breakthrough” in a worldwide campaign against the militants.

On Friday, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) formally announced Raqqa’s liberation from Islamic State after four months of battles and said the city would be part of a decentralized federal Syria.

“Together, our forces have liberated the entire city from ISIS control,” Trump said in a statement.

“The defeat of ISIS in Raqqa represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology. With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I agree. Until Saturday the White House was eerily quiet on the liberation of the Islamic State's capital .... Trump White House oddly quiet after major victory over ISIS in Syria (Washington Examiner). I also agree with this post .... Raqqa is free as ISIS loses steam, but hold off on the victory dance (The Hill)

More News On President Trump's Remarks That After The Recapture Of Raqqa The 'End Of ISIS Caliphate Is In Sight' 

Trump: End of ISIS caliphate 'in sight' with Raqqa victory -- Politico
Trump hails liberation of Raqqa as 'critical breakthrough' in anti-ISIS campaign -- The Hill
Trump: 'End of the ISIS caliphate is in sight' -- CNN
Donald Trump says 'end of Isis caliphate is in sight' after de-facto capital of Raqqa recaptured -- The Independent
Trump Claims 'End of Daesh Caliphate in Sight' After Raqqa Liberation -- Sputnik
Defeating ISIS isn't enough: Trump urgently needs a new Syria policy -- Fox News

U.S. Air Force May Recall 1,000 Retired Pilots To Address 'Acute Shortages'

USA Today: Air Force could recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots to address serious shortage

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an executive order Friday allowing the Air Force to recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots to active duty to address a shortage in combat fliers, the White House and Pentagon announced.

By law, only 25 retired officers can be brought back to serve in any one branch. Trump's order removes those caps by expanding a state of national emergency declared by President George W. Bush after 9/11, signaling what could be a significant escalation in the 16-year-old global war on terror.

"We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years," Navy Cdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The U.S. Air Force May Recall 1,000 Retired Pilots To Address 'Acute Shortages'

Air Force may recall up to 1,000 retired military pilots to address 'acute shortage' -- ABC News
Trump signs order allowing Air Force to bring 1000 retired pilots back to active duty to help tackle shortage -- Daily Mail
Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots after Trump order -- FOX News
Trump order could recall 1000 retired pilots to active duty: report -- The Hill
The Air Force now has the power to recall up to 1000 retired pilots to address its personnel crisis -- Business Insider
Air Force Can Recall Up To 1000 Retired Pilots Under New Executive Order -- Task & Purpose

When It Comes To Selling Weapons It Is All About Marketing

Orin Julie modeling a handgun designed for women. (Courtesy of Say Talent)

Times of Israel: A female Israeli combat soldier proudly models for weapons companies

At home, some see Orin Julie as a symbol of female empowerment; US fans think she and the guns are 'sexy'; on Instagram, she's been called a 'baby killer'.

JTA — When it comes to women posing with firearms, the United States is fully loaded. Lithe models can be found showing off weapons at gun shows, in rifle magazines and on dedicated social media pages.

Orin Julie may look like just another “gun bunny,” as such models are sometimes called, but she is the industry’s secret weapon. She is a former Israeli combat soldier who is trained to discharge the weapons she poses with.

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WNU Editor: She knows how to handle these weapons .... and she is definitely photogenic. Her Instagram account is here.

Israeli Woman Soldier Uses Martial Arts Skills To Fight Off An Ultra-Orthodox Mob

Daily Mail: Female Israeli soldier uses martial arts to fight off crowd of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators as they call her a 'wh***'

* Female soldier fights off a crowd of Jewish ultra-Orthodox anti-draft protesters
* Comes after two yeshiva students arrested after military service disagreement
* Footage shows Nomi Golan fending off the baying crowd with karate kicks
* The clip has sparked a major discussion in Israel in mainstream media channels

A fearless female soldier put her martial arts training to good use when she fought off dozens of Jewish ultra-Orthodox anti-draft protesters during a rally in Jerusalem.

Off-duty soldier Nomi Golan fended off a baying crowd of protesters, demonstrating against the arrest of two yeshiva students who refused to show up to the military recruitment office.

Using a series of expert karate kicks and chops, Golan held back the violent rabble who were preventing a car from driving up a street.

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WNU Editor: She has no fear.

Video Of The Day

WNU Editor: From the DOD .... Just like human warriors, military working dogs need care on and off the battlefield. The Military Working Dog Hospital at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland is the Defense Department’s premier facility for veterinary care.