Sunday, November 30, 2008

Codes For Armageddon: A New President To Hold Nuclear Launch 'Football'

(Photo from Time Magazine)

From the Baltimore Sun:

WASHINGTON - It is a simple transfer of immense power.

On Jan. 20, an unobtrusive military officer carrying a small leather-bound metal briefcase will follow President George W. Bush up to Capitol Hill. After the inauguration ceremony, he will accompany President Barack Obama back to the White House.

Inside the attaché, known as "the football," are the codes to identify and authenticate a presidential order that could launch nuclear weapons and ignite a global holocaust.

Routine to us, perhaps astonishing to much of the world, this peaceful passing of "the football" will propel Obama into a maelstrom. What awaits the new commander in chief is the weighty responsibility of defending the United States - and a nasty brew of nuclear weapons problems that range from the threat of terrorist attacks to potential new regional and superpower arms races. Iran and North Korea are rushing headlong toward building nuclear arsenals. And the main arms reduction treaty with Russia expires next year.

Read more ....

My Comment: For some reason .... for the first time in my life (and I lived through the cold war) .... I feel very uncomfortable.

Mumbai Attacks: 300 Feared Dead As Full Horror Of The Terrorist Attacks Emerges

A member of a rescue team covers a room of the Taj Mahal hotel Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

The death toll in the Mumbai terror attack is expected to soar to nearly 300, Indian officials said, as details emerged of the highly-organised terror plot.

Piles of bodies were found yesterday after commandos stormed the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the last of three buildings that terrorists had occupied in the city. Three terrorists were killed in the battle.

The end to four days of carnage came as tensions grew between India and Pakistan over the atrocity.

It is believed that just 10 highly-trained terrorists took part in the attack. Nine were killed and one suspect is under arrest.

British and Indian authorities were yesterday playing down reports that some of the attackers were British, although this had not been comprehensively ruled out.

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My Comment: Some Indian bloggers are putting the death toll between 400 - 500. Either way .... this death squad of ten men caused enornous damage, ruining multiple families, and putting India at the brink of war with Pakistan.

Georgia And Ukraine Split NATO Members

From The International Herald Tribune:

PARIS: NATO foreign ministers gather this week in Brussels, with the United States and Germany quarreling over just how much distance to keep from Georgia and Ukraine.

The debate is ostensibly over the mechanisms through which Georgia and Ukraine will, at some point, become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But the real debate is over relations with Russia, especially in the aftermath of its conflict last summer with Georgia. And those ties with Moscow are wrapped up in domestic politics, both in Germany and the United States.

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My Comment: Nato is in confusion because there is no leadership coming from Washington at the moment. This (I hope) will change when President Obama assumes power.

Claims Of Secret Arms Sales Rattle Ukraine’s Leaders

President Viktor A. Yushchenko of Ukraine at a ceremony in Kiev this month remembering victims of famine in the 1930s. Sergey Dolzhenko/European Pressphoto Agency

From The New York Times:

KIEV, Ukraine — With the Ukrainian government reeling from a financial crisis and internal power struggles, the country’s pro-Russian opposition has been leveling potentially damaging accusations of improper arms sales to Georgia during that country’s brief war with Russia.

And Russia’s leaders, furious with Ukraine’s president over his pro-Western leanings and vocal support of Georgia, have personally weighed in, making accusations of their own.

It may not matter that the opposition has provided no conclusive evidence of the claims, despite weeks of pronouncements that the evidence — once released — will be explosive. The claims alone, which have made headlines, have nonetheless helped to further undermine the government’s authority at a time of heightened political instability, while also roiling Ukraine’s already tense relationship with neighboring Russia.

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My Comment: I talked with my Ukrainian cousin yesterday. She runs an investment bank in Kiev, and she summed up the present situation in the country as one big political mess.

Vicious Drug Turf War Turns Mexican Border Town Of Tijuana Into A Killing Zone

Mexico's drug war death tally is more than 4,000 this year - 685 in Tijuana Photo: AP

From The Telegraph:

The four men in bulletproof vests, Kalashnikovs held casually at their sides, crossed the street to Tijuana's Crazy Banana pool hall so calmly that onlookers presumed they were undercover police officers – until they heard the gunfire and screams.

Moments later, the men raced back out of the bar and sped off in a getaway car, leaving the once-popular pool hall with its thatched roof and yellow painted walls a bullet-ridden crime scene.

The five billiards players gunned down there were the some of the latest victims in a brutal drug turf war that has unleashed an orgy of killing along America's southern frontier.

The attack was one of dozens of recent incidents in the sprawling Mexican border city, where nearly 300 people have been killed since late-September – many mutilated, tortured and beheaded in gruesome terror tactics copied from Iraq's brutal conflict.

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My Comment: This is a war that that is far worse than what happened in Mumbai this past week.

Mugabe Regime Arrests Soldiers Amid Fears Of Pay Revolt

Robert Mugabe is said to be fearful of an army revolt after soldiers went on the rampage in Harare, unable to withdraw money from banks in the city Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

From The Telegraph:

President Robert Mugabe's regime has begun locking up members of his armed forces amid fears that anger over low pay could spark a revolt by the army.

Restrictions on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from the country's banks amid an economic crisis and hyperinflation mean that soldiers, like the rest of the population, can only take out the equivalent of 50 pence a day - enough to buy a single banana.

Fourteen soldiers were arrested this week after scores went on the rampage in the capital Harare and the middle class suburb of Braeside, attacking foreign currency dealers with batons.

The soldiers had earlier swarmed into a city centre bank demanding more than the allocated maximum withdrawal but neither it nor any commercial banks, including Britain's Standard Chartered and Barclays, have enough cash to placate the daily queues outside.

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The Misery Of Zimbabwe

A victim of the political repression in Zimbabwe (Photo from Times Online)

Land of Broken Trust -- Washington Post

Though Widespread Brutality Has Ebbed in Zimbabwe, Political Violence Simmers and Threatens to Reignite

ZAKA, Zimbabwe -- Perhaps, Kudakwashe Tsumele said, it is better that he cannot walk. If he could traverse the red dirt pathways surrounding his rural home, he might pass supporters of this troubled nation's ruling party. And then, he said, he "would want to kill."

Instead, Tsumele, 22, lies mutilated by burns and bedridden under a blue mosquito net, six months after armed thugs loyal to President Robert Mugabe set fire to the opposition party office where he was working as a campaign volunteer. If he could leave his brick shanty, his relatives said, he might face what they do: taunts from ruling party backers, promises of more blazes.

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My Comment: And the tragedy of Zimbabwe is that the conditions are getting worse. At its present trend, Zimbabwe will approach a Somalia "environment" within ten years. A broken and dysfunctional state.

At War Level: India Raises Security Status Amid Grief

Indian soldiers (Photo from Military Photos)

From The Guardian:

Fallout from Mumbai attacks jeopardises south Asian peace process

The Indian government raised the country's security to a "war level" yesterday saying it had certain proof of a Pakistani link to the Mumbai attacks.

The dramatic move prompted Pakistan to say it would end military operations against Islamist militants on the Afghan border, which are critical to the "war on terror", for an "unwanted conflict" with Delhi.

With bodies being pulled from the Taj Mahal hotel, where gunmen had made their last stand after a rampage that left more than 170 dead, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, India's minister of state for home affairs, said the country's "intelligence will be increased to a war level, we are asking the state governments to increase security to a war level". The Press Trust of India, India's official news agency also reported that the government was considering suspending the four-year-old peace process with its neighbour.

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How U.S. Military Contractors Get The Business

"If they can't characterize what's going on in Iraq in an honest fashion, we can't begin to address the problem," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey. Photo Credit: "Meet The Press" Via Getty Images
(Image from the Washington Post)

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex
-- New York Times

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

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My Comment: When I read stories like this, my head sinks. The problem with a 24/7 media universe is that in depth stories that examine issues extensively are almost always ignored. What we have instead is some spokesperson .... whose credentials are impressive .... present a point of view (in a few minutes) that is neither substantiated or countered against. The impression that is then left is fact .... and that rebuttal will take either too much time (thereby missing the present news cycle) or ignored completely.

Ret. Gen. McCaffrey is a thoughtful and intelligent man .... he should no better. He should also know that his connections with defense contractors cannot be hidden and will be revealed with time .... a 24/7 universe works on this level also.

Pakistan Warns Of Threat To Terror War

From The Financial Times:

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, on Sunday warned that escalating tensions between Pakistan and India would be disastrous for the war on terror by sapping his nation’s effort against militants on its Afghan border.

Pakistan is worried that suspected foreign involvement in the terror attacks on Mumbai will lead to a sharp deterioration of relations with India. Deepening hostility between the two adversaries could lead Pakistan to defend its border with India more heavily.

Since the creation of Pakistan 61 years ago, the two nuclear-armed states have fought three wars. They have thousands of troops stationed on either side of the disputed border of Kashmir, called the Line of Control. But the ushering in of Mr Zardari’s government had held promise of an easing of tensions and an acceleration of confidence-building measures to secure a lasting peace.

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My Comment: At least the Pakistani Government is making it publicly known that they are aware of the problems that confronts them .... what I am sure that India and other countries like to see is some concrete action.

Report Sounds Alarm Over Bioterror

From The Washington Post:

Bipartisan Study Finds Insufficient Laboratory Safeguards, Loose Regulation

Seven years after the 2001 anthrax attacks, a congressionally ordered study finds a growing threat of biological terrorism and calls for aggressive defenses on par with those used to prevent a terrorist nuclear detonation.

Due for release next week, a draft of the study warns that future bioterrorists may use new technology to make synthetic versions of killers such as Ebola, or genetically modified germs designed to resist ordinary vaccines and antibiotics.

The bipartisan report faults the Bush administration for devoting insufficient resources to prevent an attack and says U.S. policies have at times impeded international biodefense efforts while promoting the rapid growth of a network of domestic laboratories possessing the world's most dangerous pathogens.

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My Comment: A massive terror attack that is just waiting to happen.

Pakistan Moves Army From Terror Front To India Border

Pakistani army troops move toward the area of Dara Adam Khel, near Peshawar, Pakistan, in an operation against militants. A new GAO report cites a lack of oversight in U.S. funds to Pakistan for counterrorism activities. AP/Mohammad Zubair (Photo from American Progress)

From The Australian:

PAKISTAN is withdrawing troops from the fight against al-Qa'ida and the Taliban to redeploy them to its border with India as tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations escalate over the terrorist massacre in Mumbai.

As the clean-up began after terrorists killed at least 195 people, including two Australians, the only gunman captured provided testimony of the operation's links to a Pakistan-based militant group, intelligence sources said yesterday.

Ajmal Amir Kamal, 21, whose clean-shaven face has become an enduring image of the attacks after he was caught on a CCTV camera wearing a Versace T-shirt, was interrogated in a safe house in Mumbai.

He identified all the attackers as Pakistani citizens and acknowledged that they were trained by Lashkar-e-Toiba, a militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, reports said.

He confirmed the militants had come ashore in dinghies launched from a hijacked vessel whose crew had been killed, reports said.

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My Comment: The Pakistan Government is going to use the increase in tensions with India to justify discontinuing its war with Islamic militants in the tribal regions. This is going to backfire against the Pakistan Government ..... its war with militant Islamists is the only thing that is giving it credibility in the eyes of the west and India.

Owners Of Pirated Ukrainian Freighter Reach Deal On Ransom

In this photo released by the U.S. Navy on Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, the crew of the hijacked merchant vessel MV Faina stand on the deck after a U.S. Navy request to check on their health and welfare, at sea off the coast of Somalia Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008. The commander of a multinational naval force off Somalia's coast says a shipping corridor patrolled by warships is helping protect merchant vessels from a surge in pirate attacks. Photo from

From The International Herald Tribune:

NAIROBI: The saga over the pirated Ukrainian freighter stuffed with weapons may be coming to an end.

Andrew Mwangura, head of a Kenyan maritime association, said the Somali pirates who captured the freighter more than two months ago have reached an agreement with the ship's owners on a ransom, though he would not reveal the amount. The only thing left to figure out, he said, is how to get the ransom to the pirates and regain the ship - no simple feat with a half-dozen American and European vessels circling the freighter and a band of jumpy pirates aboard.

"There is some good news," Mwangura said Sunday. "Both sides have agreed. They are now working on modalities of transferring the money."

Mwangura, who has helped several times before in the delicate negotiations over hijacked ships and has a network of seamen in Kenya and Somalia, said he expected the situation to be resolved peacefully in the coming days.

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My Comment: This is only going to encourage more hijackings.

Steadfast, Mumbai Begins Picking Up The Pieces

Mourners gather for a memorial to pay tribute to Indian police officers who lost their lives in the recent attacks in Mumbai, India, Sunday Nov. 30, 2008. India's top security official offered his resignation Sunday, a senior aide said, as the government struggled under growing accusations of security failures following the Mumbai attacks. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Witnesses return defiantly to a favored haunt, amid dismay at massive security failures.

MUMBAI - Leopold's Café, the first target of Wednesday's terrorist attacks, crawled back to life Sunday.

The bullet pockmarks on the wall were crudely patched, and the regular customers were waiting as Leopold's shutters were rolled up, amid a cheering crowd, for the first time since terrorists opened fire here last week, killing 10 people.

"We need to prove to terrorists that we've won and they've lost," says Ferhan Farzad Jehani, the defiant owner of Leopold's – a favorite among locals and foreign backpackers alike, especially after it got several mentions in "Shantaram," a popular novel loosely based on the life of author Gregory Roberts.

Leopold's, located in a teeming market in the heart of Mumbai (Bombay), has been a daily stop for a middle-aged man named Lawrence, who is not comfortable giving out his last name. He arrived at the cafe just minutes after the shootout Wednesday.

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Obama's Strong-Willed National Security Team

THE TEAM: No longer a rival, Clinton and Obama hold similar positions on many issues. Gates, center, is admired by the Obama team despite significant differences over nuclear weapons policy. Jones has separated himself from the Obama playbook on a few issues, including troop withdrawal. Carolyn Kaster / AP; Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images; Dennis Cook / AP

Form The L.A. Times:

With Clinton as secretary of State, retired Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. as national security advisor and Gates remaining in Defense, Obama will have a choice among often starkly differing views.

Reporting from Washington -- President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to lead an administration where strong-willed senior officials are ready to argue forcefully for differing points of view.

It appears that in two months, he'll get his wish, and then some.

Obama's new national security team is led by three veteran officials who have differed with each other -- and with the president-elect -- on the full menu of security issues, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and Arab-Israel conflict.

The president-elect is expected on Monday to begin introducing a team that includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom he has chosen as secretary of State; retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., tapped to be the new national security advisor; and Robert M. Gates, who has agreed to stay on as Defense secretary.

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My Comment: Gates will be gone in less than year, Sen. Clinton has been on the wrong side of major policy issues .... with Iraq being the center piece. Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. is known .... but is also unknown (He is the wild card in this mix).

Officials: Obama Set To Introduce Clinton Monday

President-elect Barack Obama pauses as he speaks with the media at a food bank in Chicago, November 26, 2008. (John Gress/Reuters)

From Yahoo News/AP:

A deal with Bill Clinton over his post-White House work helped clear the way for Hillary Rodham Clinton to join President-elect Barack Obama's national security team as secretary of state, reshaping a once-bitter rivalry into a high-profile strategic and diplomatic union.

Obama was to be joined by the New York senator at a Chicago news conference Monday, Democratic officials said, where he also planned to announce that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would remain in his job for a year or more and that retired Marine General James L. Jones would serve as national security adviser.

The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for the transition team.

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My Comment: The Clintons are back .... this is going to be fun.

Calm 'Returning Slowly To Nigerian City After Clashes'

A map of Nigeria showing the location of the central Nigerian city of Jos. There were no violent incidents Sunday in Jos, a Nigerian army spokesman said, after two days of clashes between Muslims and Christians that witnesses said left hundreds dead. (AFP/Graphic)

From Yahoo News/AFP:

LAGOS (AFP) – There were no violent incidents Sunday in the central Nigerian city of Jos, a Nigerian army spokesman said, after two days of clashes between Muslims and Christians that witnesses said left hundreds dead.

"The situation this morning is gradually returning to normal. There's not been any cases this morning of any destruction or violence," Brigadier Emeka Onwamaegbu told AFP.

Muslims and Christians clashed in the streets of the Plateau State capital Jos Friday and Saturday over the results of a local election held Thursday.

Although there was no official casualty toll, several witnesses spoke of hundreds of dead.

Plateau State spokesman James Mannok told AFP by phone that he was not able to give a casualty toll for the clashes.

A Nigerian Red Cross official in Jos, who asked to remain anonymous, Sunday told AFP: "Well over 300 people have been killed in the last two days of violence."

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My Comment: It may be calmed for now, but when the army/defense forces leave .....

Indians Claim Terrorists Took Orders From Pakistan

Security staff stand guard during an exchange of fire between the police and terrorists. Photograph: Harish Tyagi/EPA (Image from The Guardian)

From The Times:

THE Indian authorities yesterday claimed to have proof that the Mumbai terrorists were receiving instructions from Pakistan and discussing tactics with their handlers during the three days of attacks in which they killed at least 195 people.

The claims threaten further to embitter relations between the two nuclear powers. Tensions have been high since confirmation that the only captured gunman was a 21-year-old Pakistani.

It has also emerged that India had been warned that terrorists were planning an attack in Mumbai.

Up to 22 foreigners were among those killed in raids by 10-15 terrorists on sites across the city, including hotels, the main railway station, a Jewish community centre and two hospitals. The last of the gunmen was killed by Indian commandos yesterday morning, ending the siege at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. One hotel worker was found alive and 22 bodies were removed. As many as 80 bodies may still be in the building.

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Update: Mumbai terror attacks: India fury at Pakistan as bloody siege is crushed -- The Guardian

My Comment: Some in India may now start to plan on getting revenge fro what has happened in mumbai. If unchecked, this is going to poison everything.

Joint Chiefs Chairman 'Very Positive' After Meeting With Obama

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photo Navy Times/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / Navy

From The Washington Post:

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went unarmed into his first meeting with the new commander in chief -- no aides, no PowerPoint presentation, no briefing books. Summoned nine days ago to President-elect Barack Obama's Chicago transition office, Mullen showed up with just a pad, a pen and a desire to take the measure of his incoming boss.

There was little talk of exiting Iraq or beefing up the U.S. force in Afghanistan; the one-on-one, 45-minute conversation ranged from the personal to the philosophical. Mullen came away with what he wanted: a view of the next president as a non-ideological pragmatist who was willing to both listen and lead. After the meeting, the chairman "felt very good, very positive," according to Mullen spokesman Capt. John Kirby.

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My Comment: I have never read a news report in which the Chairman of the Joint's Chiefs leaves a meeting with a President-elect and is unhappy. True sentiments will only be known in the next few months when President-elect Obama's team at the White House starts to make their demands on the Pentagon.

My personal take .... this is the high point of the relationship .... everything (unfortunately) is downhill from now.

First pictures of burned-out rooms inside Mumbai terror siege hotel

Cover: Soldiers in sniper positions as a gun battle rages inside the Taj Mahal Hotel

From The Daily Mail:

The first pictures of burned-out rooms at a luxury Mumbai hotel where terrorists were holed up for three days were released today after the siege ended.

The shocking images emerged after crack troops killed the remaining three insurgents at the five-star Taj Mahal after a fierce one-hour gun battle.

At least 195 people were killed in a series of ten coordinated attacks which began on Wednesday - but the death toll is likely to rise much further.

Elite National Security Guard commandos said they discovered 30 bodies in a single room after storming the Taj Mahal hotel at 7.30am.

Authorities said that nine of the ten terrorists who arrived in India's financial capital by boat . One was captured during the intense standoff.

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My Comment: In the days to come, I am sure that more pictures and videos will become available that will reveal the true destructive nature of this assault.

Citigroup Says Gold Could Rise Above $2,000 Next Year As World Unravels

An employee of Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry K.K. displays a gold bar
at the company's store in Tokyo. Photo: Reuters

From The Telegraph:

Gold is poised for a dramatic surge and could blast through $2,000 an ounce by the end of next year as central banks flood the world's monetary system with liquidity, according to an internal client note from the US bank Citigroup.

The bank said the damage caused by the financial excesses of the last quarter century was forcing the world's authorities to take steps that had never been tried before.

This gamble was likely to end in one of two extreme ways: with either a resurgence of inflation; or a downward spiral into depression, civil disorder, and possibly wars. Both outcomes will cause a rush for gold.

"They are throwing the kitchen sink at this," said Tom Fitzpatrick, the bank's chief technical strategist.

"The world is not going back to normal after the magnitude of what they have done. When the dust settles this will either work, and the money they have pushed into the system will feed though into an inflation shock.

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My Comment: A blunt assessment .... one which I cannot disagree with. Our political establishments have failed us .... the only thing that we can do now is protect ourselves (in the event of the worse case scenario).

Mumbai Attacks: First Look Inside The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Security services survey a destroyed room inside Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

The Sunday Telegraph witnessed the scene of carnage inside Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

The sickly sweet smell of dead bodies mixed with the odour of cordite was overwhelming in the shattered lobby of the Taj Mahal hotel after the siege ended.

The charred remains of the ground floor soon after army commandos killed the final terrorist in the Bombay (Mumbai) attacks and began to remove the corpses of his victims. Once patronised by the world's rich and famous, only a burnt out shell remains.

In the lobby, peppered with bullet holes, traumatised hotel staff huddled disconsolately together in groups. All wore face masks against the overpowering stench and gloves in case they were summoned to carry yet another dead body recovered from the debris upstairs.

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My Comment: All of that wealth, style, and beauty destroyed in an instant.

'Pak May Relocate 100,000 Army Personnel To Border'

From Rediff India Abroad:

Pakistan may relocate around 100,000 military personnel from its restive border area with Afghanistan if there is an escalation in tension with India,which has hinted at the involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai carnage, a media report said today.

Private channel Geo News reported that Pakistan's military and intelligence sources told a select group of journalists today that NATO and American command had been told
that Islamabad would be forced to relocate its military from the borders with Afghanistan if there is escalation in tension with India, where nearly 200 people were killed in the multiple terror attacks on the Indian financial capital.

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My Comment: the Taliban and Al Qaeda are the only two groups that will benefit from this relocation of resources.

Mumbai Attacks: India Raises Security Footing To 'War Level'

Indian soldiers stand guard at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai on November 29, 2008. The attacks on Mumbai have again highlighted the lack of coherence in India's counter terrorism strategy, its underfunded intelligence services and its poor rapid response networks, analysts say. (AFP/Pedro Ugarte)

From The Telegraph:

India will increase security in the country and on its borders to a "war level" in the wake of the deadly attacks in Mumbai that have been blamed on militants linked to Pakistan, a government minister said.

The only one of the gunmen captured alive is believed to be from Pakistan and India claims to have proof of a Pakistani link to the Mumbai attacks.

In response to a string of public accusations from Delhi, officials in Islamabad said troops could be moved to the Indian border if relations continue to deteriorate.

"Our intelligence will be increased to a war level, we are asking the state governments to increase security to a war level," Sriprakash Jaiswal, India's minister for state for home affairs, told Reuters.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is going to make Pakistan respond in kind.

Blackwater Gunboats Will Protect Ships

From The Independent:

The American security company Blackwater is planning to cash in on the rising threat of piracy on the high seas by launching a flotilla of gunboats for hire by the shipping companies.

The firm, which gained international notoriety when its staff killed civilians in Iraq, has already equipped one vessel, called The McArthur, which will carry up to 40 armed guards and have a landing pad for an attack helicopter.

The McArthur, a former survey ship, arrives in the Gulf of Aden, the scene of the recent high-profile hijackings and shootouts with Somali pirates, at the end of the year. It is to be joined by three or four similar vessels over next year to form the company's private navy.

Blackwater, which has strong ties with the Republican administration in Washington, was the subject of investigations by the US Congress and the Iraqi government after its guards shot dead 17 people in Baghdad's Nisoor Square last year, a massacre which led directly to changes in law regarding security contractors in Iraq.

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My Comment: They are going to receive a considerable amount of business from a number of shippping and insurance firms.

Mumbai Photographer: I Wish I'd Had A Gun, Not A Camera. Armed police Would Not Fire Back

A gunman walks at the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. Teams of gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, hospitals and a crowded train station in coordinated attacks across India's financial capital, killing people, taking Westerners hostage and leaving parts of the city under siege Thursday, police said. A group of suspected Muslim militants claimed responsibility. Sebastian D'Souza/AP

From The Belfast Telegraph:

It is the photograph that has dominated the world's front pages, casting an astonishing light on the fresh-faced killers who brought terror to the heart of India's most vibrant city. Now it can be revealed how the astonishing picture came to be taken by a newspaper photographer who hid inside a train carriage as gunfire erupted all around him.

Sebastian D'Souza, a picture editor at the Mumbai Mirror, whose offices are just opposite the city's Chhatrapati Shivaji station, heard the gunfire erupt and ran towards the terminus. "I ran into the first carriage of one of the trains on the platform to try and get a shot but couldn't get a good angle, so I moved to the second carriage and waited for the gunmen to walk by," he said. "They were shooting from waist height and fired at anything that moved. I briefly had time to take a couple of frames using a telephoto lens. I think they saw me taking photographs but theydidn't seem to care.

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My Comment: His eye witness account of the police not shooting back at the terrorists is going to raise a few questions within the Indian Government.

51 Protesters Wounded In Thailand Explosions

Bangkok Police gather in formation near a checkpoint Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008, at Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok. Demonstrators with the People's Alliance for Democracy continue to hold both of Bangkok's airports and say they will not leave until Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resigns from office. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

From Yahoo News/AP:

BANGKOK, Thailand – Attackers set off explosions at anti-government protest sites Sunday, wounding 51 people and raising fears of widening confrontations in Thailand's worst political crisis that has strangled its economy and shut down its main airports.

The first blast occurred inside Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's office compound, which protesters seized in August and have held ever since. Suriyasai Katasiya, a spokesman for the protest group, said a grenade landed on the roof of a tent where protesters were resting, rolled down to the ground and exploded.

At least 49 people were injured, said Surachet Sathitniramai at the Narenthorn Medical Center. He said nine were hospitalized, including four in serious condition.

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My Comment: The confrontation at the airport is probably going to end this week. No country can sustain such a blockade for any length of time.

India Security Chief Resigns After Mumbai Attacks

In this July 27, 2008 file photo, Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil poses for photographs after addressing the media in New Delhi, India. Patil sent his resignation to the prime minister Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 to take responsibility for the attacks on Mumbai. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi, File)

From Yahoo News/AP:

MUMBAI, India – With corpses still being pulled from a once-besieged hotel, India's top security official resigned Sunday as the government struggled under growing accusations of security failures following terror attacks that killed 174 people.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who has become highly unpopular during a long series of terror attacks across India, submitted his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who accepted, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. The reports could not be immediately confirmed.

The Cabinet shuffling comes as a chorus of criticism about the government's handling of the Mumbai attacks grows louder.

"Our Politicians Fiddle as Innocents Die," read a headline Sunday in the Times of India newspaper.

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My Comment: He had to do the right thing .... which was to be the minister responsible for what had happened in Mumbai.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Attacks: 300 Feared Dead As Full Horror Of The Terrorist Attacks Emerges

The landmark 565-room Taj Mahal hotel is seen after dawn in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Indian commandos killed the last remaining gunmen holed up at a luxury Mumbai hotel Saturday, ending a 60-hour rampage through India's financial capital by suspected Islamic militants that killed people and rocked the nation. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

From The Telegraph:

The death toll in the Mumbai terror attack is expected to soar to nearly 300, Indian officials said, as details emerged of the highly-organised terror plot.

Piles of bodies were found yesterday after commandos stormed the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the last of three buildings that terrorists had occupied in the city. Three terrorists were killed in the battle.

The end to four days of carnage came as tensions grew between India and Pakistan over the atrocity.

It is believed that just 10 highly-trained terrorists took part in the attack. Nine were killed and one suspect is under arrest.

British and Indian authorities were yesterday playing down reports that some of the attackers were British, although this had not been comprehensively ruled out.

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My Comment: Indian bloggers are putting the figure closer to 500.

Russia's New Nuclear Missile

RS-24 missile Missile Launch

Russia To Deploy Missile To Counter US Missile
Shield Next Year -- The Telegraph

Russia will, from December 2009, deploy its new RS-24 intercontinental missile, designed to counter defence systems like the controversial US missile shield, the military has announced.

The announcement of the deployment of the multiple-warhead, nuclear-capable missile, came amid continued disagreement between Moscow and Washington over US missile defence plans.

"It is expected the new missile complex including the RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile will be deployed with Russian forces from 2009," Nikolai Solovtsov, the commander of Russia's missile forces, told Russian news agencies.

"It is planned that the main regiment equipped with this missile... and one squadron will be put on combat duty in the Teikovo missile unit in December 2009," he said, referring to a base northeast of Moscow.

Read more ....

My Comment: While the U.S. debates the need to modernize its nuclear forces .... Russia is forging ahead.

Commandos Entered Dark Hotel Filled With Bodies, Gunfire

A commando in disguise give details of what went down in the Taj hotel when commandos went in.

From CNN:

MUMBAI, India (CNN) -- Inside the blacked-out Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, hallways were littered with bloodied bodies.

Terrorists were still holding 200 people 33 hours after the assault began.

Knowing next to nothing about what they might encounter in the dark recesses of the hotel, Indian Army commandos decided to go back in -- and were met by terrorists firing mercilessly, throwing grenades and continuously switching positions.

The sound of gunfire and explosions reverberated throughout the hotel's atrium, making it impossible to pinpoint the origin of the shots.

Through it all, the commandos walked down pitch-black halls, trying to navigate the damaged hotel without knowing the layout.

Read more ....

Hundreds Dead In Clashes In Nigerian City: Witnesses

From Yahoo News/AFP:

LAGOS (AFP) – Hundreds were killed and thousands forced to flee their homes in the central Nigerian city of Jos when Christians and Muslims clashed over the result of a local election, witnesses said Saturday.

"So far about 400 bodies have been brought to the mosque following the outbreak of violence," the worst sectarian riots since President Umaru Yar'Adua took office last year, Khaled Abubakar, the imam of the central mosque in Jos, told AFP.

"Families are coming to identify and claim the bodies, while those that can not be identified or nobody claims them will be interred by the mosque," Abubakar said.

Road links to Jos from the Muslim-majority north were sealed on Saturday, an AFP journalist said, and flights to the city cancelled.

Earlier in the day, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale in Jos, Aminu Manu, told AFP he had counted 381 bodies at the mosque.

Read more ....

My Comment: As I had mentioned in a previous post this afternoon .... this has the potential to get completely out of control .... a fact that is unfortunately rapidly becoming the case in the region.

The Plan Wast To Kill 5000

Destroyed: The charred interior of the the Taj Mahal hotel after
the terrorists were finally stopped

'I Was Told To Kill To My Last Breath': Captured Terrorist's Account Of Mumbai Massacre Reveals Plan Was To Kill 5,000 -- The Daily Mail

The only terrorist captured alive after the Mumbai massacre has given police the first full account of the extraordinary events that led to it – revealing he was ordered to ‘kill until the last breath’.

Azam Amir Kasab, 21, from Pakistan, said the attacks were meticulously planned six months ago and were intended to kill 5,000 people.

He revealed that the ten terrorists, who were highly trained in marine assault and crept into the city by boat, had planned to blow up the Taj Mahal Palace hotel after first executing British and American tourists and then taking hostages.

Read more ....

Many Democrats Do Not Support Robert Gates As U.S. Defense Secretary

U.S. Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates

Liberals Angry Over Obama Keeping Gates
as Pentagon Chief -- FOX News

President-elect Obama's expected selection of Robert Gates as his defense secretary and retired Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser is raising eyebrows among liberals.

More than a month before he takes the oath of office, President-elect Barack Obama already is testing the loyalty of his liberal base.

On Monday, he is expected to announce his national security team, which will include Robert Gates as his defense secretary, a carry-over from the Bush administration, and retired Gen. Jim Jones, who supported John McCain for president, as his national security adviser.

Liberal blogger Chris Bowers of The Open Left says the message sent by the selection of Gates undermines Democrats.

"The message would be clear," he writes in his blog. "Even Democrats agree that Democrats can't run the military."

Read more ....

My Comment:
It appears that a number of Obama supporters prefer ideological leanings over job competence in filling important roles in the military/intelligence departments. President-elect Obama has other ideas.

Recriminations Are Now Starting In India On The Failure To Stop The Mumbai Attacks

Indian soldiers take cover on the water front as they surround the Taj Mahal hotel during gun battles between Indian military and militants inside the hotel in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Police say the siege at the Taj Mahal hotel is over, bringing an end to three days of terror in Mumbai in which more than 150 people were killed. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Mumbai Sea Attack Alert Came Nov 19
-- Indian Express

New Delhi: The most brazen and longest Terror attack on India has left several red faces in the Government with facts emerging that not only was there advance intelligence about this attack but even the time to have possibly thwarted it. But what happened, instead, was a case of competitive mistrust in the entire security establishment leading to a catastrophic misjudgement.

The Sunday Express has learnt that on November 19, just about a week before the attack, one of the intelligence agencies had circulated “top secret” information on the basis of an intercept the previous day that an attack had been planned from sea on Mumbai and would be effected very soon. While November 26 was not mentioned as a precise date, sources said, another date before the day of the attack was specified. It also said the terrorists could probably come by an Indian fishing trawler.

Read more ....

Mexico's Drug Wars

A Mexican federal officer examines the scene where a woman was killed and a police investigator was critically injured during a midday shooting in Tijuana on Tuesday. (By Guillermo Arias -- Associated Press)

Calderón Defends War on Cartels -- The Washington Post

Mexican President's Administration Concedes That Many Police Are Unqualified

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 28 -- President Felipe Calderón and his government defended their fight against public corruption and drug trafficking Friday, asking for greater powers to go after organized crime. They conceded that most Mexicans feel unsafe and that many police are unqualified to do their jobs.

One hundred days after calling for a sweeping overhaul of security forces, including a reorganization of the federal police into a single agency, Calderón and his cabinet cited some successes, such as the recent arrest of several drug captains and corrupt officials. But they acknowledged that the extreme violence unleashed in Mexico was daunting.

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My Comment: mexico's President does the right thing .... he lists the success and failures of Mexico's drug war.

Arrested Terrorist Says Gang Hoped To Get Away

Media persons run for cover during a gun battle at Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai November 29, 2008. Operations to dislodge militants at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai ended on Saturday, security officials said, and at least three Islamist gunmen were killed. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (INDIA)

From The Economic Times Of India:

NEW DELHI: The gang of terrorists who wreaked mayhem in Mumbai for three days were made to believe by their Lashkar bosses that they were not
being sent on a suicide mission and that they would be coming back alive.

In a sensational disclosure made by Ajmal, the jihadi nabbed alive by Mumbai cops, the group had planned to sail out on Thursday. Their recruiters had even charted out the return route for them and stored it on the GPS device which they had used to navigate their way to the Mumbai shoreline.

This suggests that the terrorists were willing to undertake a mission which they knew would be very risky, but not necessarily suicidal.

Read more ....

My Comment: They are were obviously very confident that they would get away.

US Training Iraqis To Defeat Deadly Roadside Bombs

An instructor talks about various explosive devices during a for bomb disposal training for the Iraqi security forces at a Besmaya range complex just outside Baghdad, Iraq on Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

From Yahoo News/AP:

BESMAYA RANGE COMPLEX, Iraq – Two Iraqi soldiers acting as insurgents hook up a cellular phone detonator to a 155mm artillery shell with a coiled red wire, bury the mock bomb in a pile of dirt next to a rusty electricity pole and then disappear down the street.

Minutes later, an Iraqi army patrol in Humvees and an armored vehicle with radio-jamming equipment speed into the dusty intersection and disable the bomb remotely with a robot, as U.S. and Iraqi generals observe the training drill from the shade of a tent.

The exercise at this sandy, wind-swept Iraqi military base south of Baghdad is part of U.S. efforts to pass on hard-learned lessons to Iraq's army on how to combat what has long been the insurgent weapon of choice — roadside bombs.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a problem that will be with the Iraqis for a very very long time.

Attack On Mumbai -- I Want To Live: Captured Terrorist Azam

Azam Amir Kasav, only surviving terrorist.

From Economic Times Of India:

MUMBAI: His swaggering image as he walked around Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus dispensing death was captured by Mumbai Mirror photo editor Sebastian D' souza, and was the first glimpse of the terrorists who have held Mumbai hostage over the last 48 hours. ( Watch )

Now we can also tell you who this man is and how he has become the vital link for investigating agencies to crack the terror plot.

His name is Azam Amir Kasav, he is 21 years old, speaks fluent English, hails from tehsil Gipalpura in Faridkot in Pakistan.

An ATS spokesperson confirmed that the man captured was indeed the one photographed by us.

On the night of Wednesday-Thursday Azam and his colleague opened fire at CST before creating havoc at Metro and then moving on to Girgaum Chowpatty in a stolen Skoda, and where they were intercepted by a team from the Gamdevi police station . Azam shot dead assistant police inspector Tukaram Umbale.

Read more ....

Under-Fire Saakashvili Defends Georgia War

Bodyguards escort the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, to shelter from the threat of a Russian air attack in Gori in August 2008. Sergei Grits/AP (Photo from The Guardian)

From Reuters:

TBILISI (Reuters) - President Mikheil Saakashvili on Friday mounted a fresh defense of Georgia's assault on South Ossetia in August, denying accusations Tbilisi had been the aggressor in the disastrous war with Russia that ensued.

Under fire from opponents who say he walked into a war Georgia could not possibly win, Saakashvili defended his actions of the night of August 7 during televised testimony before a bipartisan parliamentary commission probing the war.

Saakashvili remains popular among voters, but Georgia's fractious opposition is using the five-day conflict and its consequences to mount a fresh challenge to the pro-Western president, who came to power with the 2003 "Rose Revolution."

Read more ....

My Comment: If it was not for the political intervention of the Europeans and Americans, Saakashvili would either be dead or enjoying the diplomatic protection of another country. His confrontation with the South Ossetians was ill conceived, executed terribly, and producing a result that has split the country.

Nope .... you cannot defend the indefensible.

India Terror Begins With Corpses On Train Platform

The burning funeral pyres of victims who died in the attacks in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Indian commandos killed the last remaining gunmen holed up at the luxury Taj Hotel Mumbai hotel Saturday, ending a 60-hour rampage through India's financial capital by suspected Islamic militants that rocked the nation. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

From Yahoo News/AP:

MUMBAI, India – 9:21 p.m. Wednesday, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus __ Two young men walk casually through Mumbai's main railway station, a worn Victorian hulk bustling with late commuters heading home, scurrying past small food stands and juice bars and vendors selling newspapers. They enter near the taxi stand, where long lines of battered black and yellow cabs wait for fares. One wears khaki cargo pants and a blue T-shirt. A pair of small knapsacks are slung over a shoulder. He looks like a college kid.

They are, says a photographer who follows them on part of their grim journey, "backpackers with assault rifles."

The two — and other death squads working in pairs — are to wreak carnage in landmark after landmark across Mumbai over the next three days, creating panic in this normally unflappable city and killing more than 195 people.

Read more ....

Ethiopia To Pull Its Troops From Somalia By End Of The Year

Ethiopian soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia, guard a cache of ammunitions they said were used by insurgents during two days of heavy fighting. Photograph: Mustafa Abdi/AFP/Getty. Photo from The Guardian.

From The Washington Post:

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Nov. 28 -- Ethiopia announced Friday that it will pull its forces from Somalia by year's end, leaving the ravaged capital vulnerable to the Islamist fighters who have seized nearly all of the country.

The decision ends the unpopular two-year presence here of the key U.S. ally much as it began -- with the fighters in near-total control of a failed state beset by a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Ethiopia has sent thousands of troops here since early 2007, when it launched a U.S.-backed operation that drove the Islamists from the capital, Mogadishu, after six months in power.

Read more ....

Somalia's Transitional Government Fears Withdrawal of Ethiopian Troops -- Voice Of America

My Comment: Ethiopia is resigned to the fact that thy would never be able to control Somalia and its many clans. With no support from its allies, they are going to leave very soon. Somalia's Transitional Government will fall a few weeks after the Ethiopians have left.

Scene Of Unimaginable Carnage Inside Taj Majal Hotel

Nov. 27, 2008: The Taj Majal hotel has became a symbol of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai because of the gunmen who holed up inside so long, killing as many as 150 people.

From FOX News:

The scene Saturday night inside the Taj Majal hotel was one of unimaginable carnage in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist onslaught across Mumbai.

Two Indian commandos told FOX News that 150 bodies still were inside the hotel, and dead victims were found all over the hotel, on all five floors.

The terrorists used incendiary bombs, or grenades thrown on gas or fuel canisters, indicating they had access to the Taj hotel in advance, though the Taj Majal hotel denies any staffers were involved.

Read more ....

PHOTO ESSAY: (WARNING: Graphic Images)

100,000 Stranded In Thailand After Airports Shut

Stranded Western tourists wait for transportation Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008, at Bangkok, Thailand's Suvarnabhumi airport following a takeover of the facility by the People's Alliance for Democracy. Tourism officials and economists project the tourism industry's losses for the remainder of the year will amount to billions of dollars. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

From AP:

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — The vacation is over for tens of thousands of tourists in Thailand. But they can't go home.

The Hotel California-like drama began Tuesday when anti-government protesters shut the country's primary international airport. The following day they moved in on the capital's domestic airport, grounding all commercial flights in and out of the city.

About 100,000 people have been stranded by the closures, dealing a severe blow to the country's reputation as a safe and reliable vacation destination. Officials project the tourism industry's losses from now until the end of the year will balloon to about 150 billion baht ($4.2 billion), equal to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product.

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My Comment: No one benefits from this shutdown. No one.

India, Pakistan Simmer Over Mumbai Attacks

Indian army soldiers take position during a gun battle at the Taj Mahal hotel (seen in the background) in Mumbai, November 29, 2008. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

From Reuters:

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian accusations of a Pakistani link to the attacks on Mumbai that killed nearly 200 people threaten to damage attempts to improve ties between the rivals.

Indian officials have said most, perhaps all, of the 10 attackers who held Mumbai hostage with frenzied attacks using assault rifles and grenades came from Pakistan, a Muslim nation carved out of Hindu-majority India in 1947.

An official in Islamabad said the next one to two days would be crucial for relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan has condemned the assaults and denied any involvement by state agencies.

After a final battle between militants and security forces inside the Taj Mahal, Mumbai's best-known hotel, a crowd of protesters outside pumped their fists and shouted "Our soldiers came and Pakistan ran away."

Read more ....

My Comment: The people on both sides of this long and bloody conflict have been wanting to go at each other since Indian and Pakistan independence was declared in the 1940s. After numerous wars and low intensity battles, the specter of a full scale war with the possible use of nuclear weapons is now rearing its ugly head.

If one or two more "Mumbai" terror incidents should happen in the next few weeks, I would expect all hell to break out in India .... and it will be directed at Muslims and Pakistan.

Death Toll Over 300 In Nigerian Sectarian Violence

Nigerian soldiers are deployed in Jos after hundreds were killed during violent clashes between Christian and Muslims in 2001. Hundreds of people were killed in Jos when Christians and Muslims clashed over the result of a local election. (AFP/Pius Otomi Ekpei)

From Yahoo News/AP:

JOS, Nigeria – Mobs burned homes, churches and mosques Saturday in a second day of riots, as the death toll rose to more than 300 in the worst sectarian violence in Africa's most populous nation in years.

Sheikh Khalid Abubakar, the imam at the city's main mosque, said more than 300 dead bodies were brought there on Saturday alone and 183 could be seen laying near the building waiting to be interred.

Those killed in the Christian community would not likely be taken to the city mosque, raising the possibility that the total death toll could be much higher. The city morgue wasn't immediately accessible Saturday.

Police spokesman Bala Kassim said there were "many dead," but couldn't cite a firm number.

Read more ....

My Comment: Africa's deadly brew of ethnic, religious, and tribal hatred is now being felt in this part of Nigeria. This can get out of hand very quickly.

Legal Hurdles In West Slow Pursuit Of Pirates

Two Britons and an Irishman were rescued Friday after jumping overboard from a ship seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Eric Cabanis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

From The New York Times:

BERLIN — Somali pirates firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades hijacked yet another ship in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, this time seizing a chemical tanker. A German military helicopter from a nearby warship arrived in time to pull three security guards out of the water, but not soon enough to prevent the hijacking of the ship and the rest of the crew.

The latest attack, in which even trained security personnel aboard could not deter the pirates, demonstrated the urgent need for coordinated action by governments from Cairo to Berlin. But the bureaucratic and legal hurdles facing international institutions and national governments have so far defeated most efforts to deal with the nimble crews of pirates in speedboats, whose tactics have grown bolder as their profits have paid for better weapons and equipment.

Read more ....

My Comment: The legal obstacles are there because of political decisions .... i.e. lack of will to confront the pirates .... from our elected leaders.

Rebel Positions Are Slowly Disintegrating In The Sri Lanka Civil War -- News Updates And Summaries

Graphic with maps comparing the areas controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka since end of 2005, according to the defence ministry. The Sri Lankan government said Wednesday its troops were poised to capture the Tamil Tigers' political headquarters and were advancing on the remaining rebel military bases in the north of the island. (AFP/Graphic)

Sri Lanka: Air Force Bombs Rebel Positions
-- International Herald Tribune

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka's air force carried out a series of attacks against Tamil Tiger rebel targets, including a heavy gun position and a guerrilla training camp, while a separate infantry clash killed four guerrillas, the military said Saturday.

It said jets bombed the gun position in the rebel headquarters of Kilinochchi on Friday and the training camp in Visvamadu village on Saturday.

Also Saturday, helicopters bombed a group of rebels who were trying to stop soldiers from reaching Paranthan, a strategic crossroads north of Kilinochchi, it said in a statement.

Read more ....

More New on The Sri Lanka War

Tigers could go back to guerrilla war as mini state crumbles -- AFP
Lankan jets bombard LTTE positions -- Hindu Business Line
Sri Lanka: air force bombs rebel positions -- Yahoo News/AP
Sri Lanka rebels fleeing stronghold -- Al Jazeera
Sri Lanka troops slowed by rain in battle for Tiger HQ: military -- AFP

Mumbai Attacks: Terrorists Monitored British Websites Using BlackBerry Phones

From The Daily Telegraph:

Indian officials suspect the Islamic terrorists in Mumbai may have British links after examining BlackBerry phones they used to monitor news reports.

Key figures in the terrorist gang were equipped with the devices that meant they were able to monitor British news, even when the authorities turned off power.

A senior officer in the country's elite Black Cat commando unit told the Telegraph, the gunmen were able to trawl the internet for information once they lost cable television feeds to the two luxury hotels and office block.

The men looked beyond the instant updates of the Indian media to find worldwide reaction to the events in Mumbai.

Their analysis of at least five BlackBerry mobile phones recovered suggested the terrorists had links to England.

Read more ....

My Comment: I would not use this information in drawing conclusions that there is a link to Britain. The British news websites gave the best coverage. They always were having info a few hours ahead of the Indian and world news media. I should know, because I was using those resources most extensively for myself .... and I have absolutely NO link to those murderers in Mumbai.

Security Chiefs Fear Revamped Version Of 70s-Style Violence

An Indian soldier holds positions outside the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Indian commandos have killed the last remaining gunmen in Mumbai's Taj hotel to end a devastating attack by Islamic militants on India's financial capital that left 195 dead, including 26 foreigners. (AFP/Sajjad Hussain)

From The Guardian:

Head-on attacks on soft targets by small, well-trained gangs will be harder to detect and to stop, say intelligence officials

Western intelligence officials yesterday expressed concern about the security implications of the Mumbai attacks for their own cities as they confronted the prospect of new tactics being adopted by highly trained and motivated terrorists.

They contrasted the Mumbai attacks with suicide and car bombers who have plotted outrages in London. The latter have been mainly self-radicalised, self-selected groups of individuals, slowly gathering bomb-making equipment and vulnerable to surveillance by the security services, counter-terrorist officials said.

Read more

My Comment: From a terrorist point of view, the attacks on Mumbai were not only a military success that paralyzed a city of 18 million, but also a propaganda one.

I would not be surprise that this may become the modus operanda for many terror groups in the future.