Monday, August 31, 2009

Another On The Ground Report From the Danger Room In Afghanistan


No Mochaccinos, No Problem for Marines of Echo Company -- The Danger Room

MIANPOSHTEH, Afghanistan — By any rational measure, the Marines of Echo company should be miserable. During the day, they trudge through the mud until they got shot at and endure temperatures that regularly spike above 110 degrees. At night, they sleep in holes in the dirt, next to mortar tubes. Dinner for the last three evenings has been something brown called “beef burgundy.” With enough hot sauce, you can keep it from tasting too much like cigarettes.

Read more ....

My Comment:
The Danger Room has a series of excellent articles that report what the fighting has been like for the past month. My recommendation is go through their archives and enjoy each story.

Obama, Gates Are Gutting America’s Defense Industry -- A Commentary


From The Examiner:

When Gen. William Snow arrived in Washington, D.C., to direct the buildup of the artillery for the Allied Expeditionary Force, he thought his office ought to have stationary reflecting the importance of the task.

His request was rejected. Rather than fund this excessive extravagance, it was suggested the general purchase a rubber stamp to mark his correspondence.

Snow joined a War Department completely unprepared to fight World War I. The Army hadn’t been used to buying much of anything since the Civil War. They had forgotten how. And, there wasn’t much to buy.

Read more ....

My Comment: Of course they are gutting America's Defenses .... with $2 trillion dollar budget deficits they have no choice .... they are just not leveling this information to the American people (so they think).

White House: President Obama More Successful In Killing Terrorists Than Bush. Problems In Afghanistan Are The Fault Of President Bush

Ret. Marine Gen. James Jones speaks at a press conference with President-elect Barack Obama in Chicago, Dec. 1, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

ABC News Exclusive: National Security Adviser Says President Obama Is Having Greater Success Taking Terrorists Out of Commission Than Bush Did -- ABC News

Responding to criticism from former Vice President Cheney that President Obama is making the nation more vulnerable to terrorism, the president’s National Security Adviser, Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.), told ABC News in an exclusive interview that actually the reverse is true: President Obama’s greater success with international relations has meant more terrorists put out of commission.

Read more ....

My Comment: The National Security adviser provides no stats or numbers. The only figure that I know in which there is an increase is in Predator/Reaper missile strikes in Pakistan. Ignoring the high civilian casualty rate from these attacks, I would have to assume that some "terrorists" have been killed.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs

U.S., NATO Must Change To Win Afghan War Says Commander -- Reuters

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its allies must change strategy and boost cooperation to turn around the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. and NATO commander there said on Monday, wrapping up a much-anticipated review.

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal said the situation was "serious" but the 8-year-old war could still be won. He gave no indication if he would ask for more troops but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Read more
....

My Comment: The money quote is the following ....

The White House sought on Monday to pin the blame for the grave state of the war in Afghanistan on the Bush administration, which made Iraq its top military priority.

"This was underresourced, underfunded, undermanned and ignored for years," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.


Sighhh.... they should stop pointing the finger at someone else. In these situations I always remember one of Buddha's many sayings .... when you are pointing a finger at someone, you are actually pointing three fingers at yourself.

General Stanley McChrystal's Submits His Report/Review On Afghanistan

An American Marine on patrol in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan in early August. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images for The New York Times

U.S., NATO Must Change To Win Afghan War-Commander -- Yahoo News/Reuters

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and its allies must change strategy and boost cooperation to turn around the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. and NATO commander there said on Monday, wrapping up a much-anticipated review.

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal said the situation was "serious" but the 8-year-old war could still be won. He gave no indication as to whether he would ask for more troops but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal's Report

US general calls for new strategy against Taliban -- AP
McChrystal: Afghan strategy needs revising -- UPI
US commander in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy -- The Guardian
US commander: Afghan situation 'serious' but winnable -- Christian Science Monitor
McChrystal’s Afghanistan Review Is In -- Washington Independent
U.S. troops in Afghanistan wrap up assessment report: Pentagon officials -- China View
Q+A: What is in McChrystal's Afghan strategy review? -- Reuters
Groundwork Is Laid for New Troops in Afghanistan -- New York Times
Marine commander sees progress in Afghanistan -- L.A. Times
The Afghan 8os are back -- Jonathan Steele, The Guardian opinion

South Sudan Clashes Are Escalating

At Least 43 People Killed In Sudan Clashes: Military -- AFP

JUBA, Sudan — At least 43 people have been killed, including seven soldiers, and dozens wounded in clashes between troops and cattle rustlers in south Sudan, a military spokesman said on Saturday.

Gunmen attacked a small settlement in the Twic East region of Jonglei state early on Friday, said Major General Kuol Diem Kuol, of the southern Sudan People?s Liberation Army (SPLA).

"The men attacked at the settlement of Wernyol at 5:00 am with guns, coming to take the cattle, and to loot and steal.

Read more ....

More News On South Sudan

UN: Tribal violence kills 46 people in south Sudan -- AP
Gunmen kill 38 in escalating south Sudan violence -- Reuters
Scores killed in south Sudan clash -- Al Jazeera
Scores dead in south Sudan clashes -- Africa News
Kenya dispatches military experts to train South Sudan army -- Sudan Tribune
South Sudan Accuses North Of Arming Southern Civilians, Militias -- New York Times
S.Sudan accuses north of arming southern civilians, militias -- Reuters

Libyan Leader Khadafi Blames The Jews For Africa's Problems

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi put his credentials as a statesman on display by hosting a meeting of African leaders to discuss 'conflict resolution' on the eve of the 40th anniversary of his rule. Photo: REUTERS

Gadhafi Blames Israel for Africa's Problems -- Voice of America

Libya is hosting a special session of the African Union Assembly in an effort to resolve conflicts on the continent. AU chairman and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi told the heads of states gathered for the meeting one of the greatest dangers facing the war-torn region is the presence of Israel.

Colonel Gadhafi opened the session by saying conflicts such as that in Sudan's Darfur region are internal matters, and that much of the history of African countries involve infighting over power. The Libyan leader said the African Union could help parties negotiate a solution, but that the wars pose no real danger.

Read more ....

More News On Khadafi

Kadhafi blasts Israel over Africa's woes at AU summit -- Yahoo News/AFP
Gaddafi: Israel 'aids Africa wars' -- Al Jazeera
Gaddafi blames Israel for Africa wars -- Ynet News
Kadhafi blasts Israel over Africa's woes at AU summit -- Africasia

Was Russia's 'Hijacked' Ship Carrying Missiles To The Mideast?

Undated photo of the Maltese-registered, Finnish-chartered vessel, Arctic Sea, that mysteriously disappeared off the coast of France three weeks ago. REUTERS/SOVFRACHT

From Time Magazine:

In July, the Russian-manned cargo ship the Arctic Sea disappeared on its way to take timber from Finland to Algeria, sparking reports of the first incident of piracy in European waters since the days of the buccaneers. Experts and observers weighed in with their theories: the ship had been snatched in a commercial dispute; it was being used to run drugs; it was carrying something more precious — or dangerous — than timber.

Read more ....

Previous Post: The Arctic Sea Mystery Gets Stranger And Stranger

My Comment: Time Magazine is going to a place that I was not willing to go when I posted this story this morning .... but the idea that weaponry (including missiles) was part of this ship's cargo is probably valid. The fact that everyone connected to this case was released from jail yesterday only adds to this (cough cough) mystery.

People Sometimes Never Learn

Fears Over Ch√°vez Threaten Oil Auction -- Financial Times

The future of one of the world’s biggest oil auctions is in jeopardy as Venezuela’s socialist government and oil companies remain at loggerheads over terms to develop a key oil field.

Repeated delays in the bidding for rights to exploit the Orinoco Belt – which was postponed for a third time at the end of last month – reflect investor concerns about political risk, onerous financing costs and the profitability of the projects. Lower oil prices and a stuttering global economy only add to the problem.

Read more ....

My Comment: A good friend of mine is a ticket scalper. A few years ago he bought a block of Formula 1 Grand Prix tickets at a great discount. On the day of the event, he and about 50 of his customers found out that they were counterfeit. When I asked him why did he buy the tickets without realizing that maybe there was a catch .... his answer .... "the thief played on my greed".

Venezuela's Chavez is doing the same thing right now. He is playing on the greed of major oil companies to invest in something that anyone in his right mind will know that he will seize later on.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- August 31, 2009 (Evening)

U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Pat Bragan and his Marines prepare to return fire at insurgents in Mian Poshteh, Garmsir district in Helmand province, Afghanistan, after drawing fire Aug. 15, 2009. Bragan is assigned to Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Kurt Stahl

How to Lose in Afghanistan -- Anthony H. Cordesman, Washington Post

The United States cannot win the war in Afghanistan in the next three months -- any form of even limited victory will take years of further effort. It can, however, easily lose the war. I did not see any simple paths to victory while serving on the assessment group that advised the new U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, on strategy, but I did see all too clearly why the war is being lost.

Read more ....

COMMENTARIES, OPINIONS, AND EDITORIALS

Is the War in Afghanistan in the Interests of the United States and its Allies? -- Major Jeremy Kotkin, Small Wars Journal

The U.S. and U.K. Both 'Go Wobbly' on Terrorism -- Amnda Bowman, Wall Street Journal

Hatoyama's Fantasy Island -- Tim Kelly, Forbes

No Clean Sweep in Japan -- Philip Bowring, New York Times

Honduras' Coup Must Not Stand -- Robert White and Glenn Hurowitz, Los Angeles Times opinion.

Obama vs. Honduran Democracy -- Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal opinion.

Navigating Iraq's Next Nor'easter -- JP Schnapper-Casteras, Real Clear World

Moscow’s New Afghanistan -- Edward Lozansky, Moscow Times

Hope in South Africa -- New York Times editorial.

A Deal That Is A Defeat For Israel -- Amir Oren, Haaretz

Isolating Israel Through 'Human Rights' -- Gerald Steinberg, Jerusalem Post

World News Briefs -- August 31, 2009 (Evening Edition)

A U.S. soldier from the 3-71 Cavalry fires his weapon during a gun-battle with Taliban fighters in the village of Bargematal, Nuristan province, August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Oleg Popov

U.S., NATO Must Change To Win Afghan War-Commander -- Yahoo News/Reuters

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and its allies must change strategy and boost cooperation to turn around the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. and NATO commander there said on Monday, wrapping up a much-anticipated review.

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal said the situation was "serious" but the 8-year-old war could still be won. He gave no indication as to whether he would ask for more troops but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Lieberman: Israel won`t let Palestinians declare state unilaterally.

No talks without full settlement freeze: Abbas aide.

Israel launches air strike in Gaza.

Olmert becomes 1st Israeli PM to be indicted. Olmert indictment / Why are the charges so serious?

Iraq: suspected bomber recently released by US.

'Bombs hampering US-Syria resolution'.

Remnants of Iraq Air Force are found in Serbia.

Saudi tightens security to protect oil plants.

Turkey, Armenia agree to establish diplomatic ties.

ASIA

With bold stand, Japan opposition wins a landslide.

2 American, 2 British troops killed in Afghanistan.

Karzai maintains lead in latest Afghan vote count.

Blast kills 15 Pakistani police recruits. Pakistan military kills 30 militants in Swat: statement.

China again decries Dalai Lama visit to Taiwan. Dalai Lama says Taiwan visit is not political.

Myanmar refugees weigh risks of returning from China.

Remains of last 2 Australia MIAs in Vietnam return.

AFRICA

Bongo, son of Bongo, is favourite for Gabon election. After 40 years of dictatorship, Gabon votes.

Gaddafi prepares for his 40-year spectacular - but will anyone turn up?

Ethiopian troops seize Somali town.

Millions facing famine in Ethiopia as rains fail.

In oil-rich Niger Delta, the sun never sets.

Zuma holds talks with both Mugabe, Tsvangirai to break deadlock.

EUROPE

Arctic Sea sailors freed after mystery detention: Reports.

Moldova elects pro-western house speaker amid turmoil.

Merkel's party loses ground in German votes.

70 years on, Poland's WWII wounds haven't healed.

Slowing price fall raises Europe recovery hopes.

AMERICAS

Calif. wildfire heads north, threatens thousands.

Hurricane stronger, heads for Mexico's Los Cabos.

Latin American journalists face new opposition.

Ecuador's Correa to close private TV station for 'spying'.

Commandos kill eight people in northern Mexico.

New flu hit estimated 10 percent of New Yorkers.

Bolivia cries foul over Peru plans for drilling in Titicaca.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Libya says Lockerbie bomber in hospital. Lockerbie letters to be released.

Is Al-Qaida opening a Gaza front to counter Hamas?

Saudi prince defends policy on militants.

Russia 'kills al-Qaeda operative'.

Cheney offers sharp defense of C.I.A. interrogation tactics.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Meltdown 101: Why banks' struggles have worsened.

Regulators shutter three U.S. banks, bringing 2009 toll to 84.

Commercial real estate lurks as next potential mortgage crisis.

Canada to urge G20 copy "boring" financial system.

Ridge Backpedals On Pressure To Raise Terror Alert Level

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, speaking for the first time about accusations made in his new book, says he did not mean to suggest that other top Bush administration officials were playing politics with the nation's security before the 2004 presidential election.

"I'm not second-guessing my colleagues," Ridge said in an interview about The Test of Our Times, which comes out Tuesday and recounts his experiences as head of the nation's homeland security efforts in the first several years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Read more ....

My Comment: His retractions are coming a few days late and with no apology. I know that he is trying to create a stir for his book .... but pummeling his former associates .... and then taking his "sweet time" to retract these remarks will not help in selling his book.

As for prevailing against others to not raise the threat level in 2004 .... at the time I felt that this was a mistake. Al Qaeda was successful in hitting against the Spanish Government just days before their Presidential election, and the fear was justified that they would try to do the same during the American election. I wrote extensively at the time that even though this may be interpreted as electioneering .... damn the critics because prudence and caution would never hurt anyone.

Anyway .... the terror alert was not raised .... and President Bush still got pummeled by his critics when they found out about the discussions pertaining to raising the terror alert level.

Damn if you do .... damn if you do not.

Myanmar Army Routs Ethnic Chinese Rebels In The North

From The New York Times:

BANGKOK — The Myanmar military has overwhelmed rebels from an ethnic Chinese minority in the northern reaches of the country, the junta’s second victory over armed opponents in three months.

The routing over the weekend of the forces of the small, Chinese-speaking Kokang ethnic group gives Myanmar’s governing generals momentum in their campaign to quell armed opposition before elections and the adoption of a new Constitution next year.

Read more ....

More News On The Myanmar's Offensive Against Rebel Strongholds

US urges Myanmar to halt ethnic attacks -- AFP
Myanmar refugees begin to return home from China -- AP
Burma Refugees in China Head Home as Fighting Dies Down -- Voice of America
Myanmar refugees wary of return -- Al Jazeera
Ethnic Chinese in Myanmar give up fight -- Philadelphia Inquirer
Border war rattles China-Myanmar ties -- Asia Times
Burmese unrest may provoke reaction from China -- San Francisco Chronicle
China angered by clashes in Burma -- Financial Times
Why Violence Erupted on the China-Burma Border -- Time Magazine

Iraq War News Updates -- August 31, 2009

Plastic flowers were placed along the rim of the blast crater by relatives and friends of victims of the Aug. 19 truck bombing at the Foreign Affairs Ministry building in central Baghdad. Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Arms Finds In Hitherto Quiet South Iraq Ring Alarms -- New York Times/Reuters

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces say they have found numerous caches of new weapons in the Shi'ite south, raising the possibility that an area which has been peaceful could relapse into violence before elections next year.

The discoveries of handguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, automatic weapons, roadside bombs and explosives suggest a recent spike in bloodshed from bombings in Baghdad and the north may soon be mirrored in Iraq's south.

The weapons are being stockpiled by Shi'ite political rivals of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, officials believe.

Read more ....

More News On Iraq

U.S. prepares move of 80,000 Iraq troops -- UPI
American commander: US on the road out of Iraq -- AP
Iraq ministry bombers 'recently freed by US' -- The Telegraph
Iraq: suspected bomber recently released by US -- AP
5,000+ Iraqi prisoners released by US this year -- AFP
US military: Number of Iraqi detainees below 9,000 -- AP
Syria Dismisses Iraqi Charges it Shelters Bombers -- Voice of America
Syria, Iraq accuse each other of worsening tension -- AP
Turks begin Iraq-Syria mediation -- BBC
Turkish envoy in mission to ease Iraq-Syria tensions -- CNN
Iraq's PM renews demand of int'l court to prosecute Baghdad bombers -- China View
Iraqi planes found in Serbia, but in pieces -- AP
Remnants of Iraq Air Force Are Found -- New York Times
Iraq seeks Serbian return of MiGs -- BBC
Iraq seeks return of 19 MiG fighters from Serbia -- Reuters
Nine Iraqis wounded in Baghdad bomb attacks -- China View
New Iraqi Violence by the Numbers -- New York Times
FACTBOX: Security developments in Iraq, August 31 -- Reuters
Party Picks Son to Replace Powerful Iraqi Shi'ite -- New York Times
Iraq struggles to expand exports beyond oil -- Reuters
Iraq: Delayed in a desert war zone -- Christian Science Monitor
IRAQ: Drought hits rice, wheat staples -- IRIN
US Military Deaths in Iraq War at 4, 337 -- New York Times/AP

Navy’s Role In The Arctic May Change As Icy Lanes Clear Up

Members of the Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station clear ice from the hatch of the submarine USS Annapolis in March during a U.S. Navy exercise in the Arctic Ocean. Tiffini Jones/Courtesy of the U.S. Navy

From Stars And Stripes:

Early explorers dreamed of a safe trade route across the frozen Arctic for hundreds of years.

Now as global temperatures warm and ice rapidly melts, the U.S. Navy is weighing the possibility that within decades the Arctic will open into one of the world’s prime shipping lanes.

New climate data point to a summer season completely free of sea ice as early as 2030 — about 70 years sooner than previously predicted — allowing ships to move freely for the first time in history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Read more ....

Previous Post: The Russians Are Serious About Making A Presence In The Arctic

My Comment:Russia and Canada are now spending an enormous amount of money to make a presence in the North Pole. This should not be a surprise. The Arctic is one of the last remaining frontiers in the world, and it holds geological and energy resources that have yet to be discovered. The U.S. footprint up north is via through Alaska .... a footprint that is neither small nor insignificant by any stretch of the imagination.

CIA News Updates -- August 31, 2009


CIA's Black Sites, Illuminated -- L.A. Times

The facilities were never meant to be 'ordinary prisons,' recently released documents reveal in meticulous detail.

Reporting from Washington - Their transformations took place in a sensory cocoon: aboard a CIA aircraft, shackled in place, deprived of sight and sound by blindfolds, headsets and hoods.

They emerged into an existence that was hidden for most of the last eight years, but now is possible to glimpse through dozens of declassified files released by the Obama administration last week.

Read more ....

More News On The CIA

Ex-Intelligence Officials Cite Low Spirits at CIA -- Washington Post
Ex-CIA official: Probes hurting morale -- UPI
'The Agency Went over Bounds and Outside the Rules' -- Spiegel Online
Blackwater recruits used in CIA squads -- Washington Times
Blackwater Founder Accused in Court of Intent to Kill -- Washington Post
Blackwater moves to dismiss lawsuit -- UPI
Cheney Offers Sharp Defense of C.I.A. Interrogation Tactics -- New York Times
Cheney shrugs off CIA-torture investigation -- Christian Science Monitor
Ridge, Cheney Assail Holder's Decision -- ABC News
Democratic lawmaker questions probe of CIA interrogations -- AFP
Is Cheney Right? -- FOX News
'Special Report' Panel on the Obama Administration's CIA Probe -- FOX News
McCain Denies Giving O.K. to a CIA Torture Tactic -- Time Magazine
Ex-Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff sees risk in current anti-terror policies -- L.A. Times
The 'Most Prolific' Detainee -- Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard opinion
Acknowledging the Obvious -- Stephen F. Hayes, Weekly Standard opinion
Eric Holder's Anti-CIA Witch Hunt -- Jennifer Rubin, Weekly Standard opinion
Eric Holder’s Hidden Agenda -- Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review opinion
No Cause for Shame -- Marc A. Thiessen, National Review opinion

WNU Editor: I have listed a few commentaries from conservative pundits who are critical of the CIA probe and investigation. Tomorrow, I will list those who are in favor of such a probe and investigation.

Lack Of Translators Hurts U.S. War On Terror

Interpreters provide vital local knowledge, as well as language skills.
Photo from The BBC

From The Washington Times:

U.S. national security agencies remain woefully short of foreign-language speakers and translators nearly eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks resulted in a war on an enemy that often communicates in relatively obscure dialects, current and former officials say.

The necessary cadre of U.S. intelligence personnel capable of reading and speaking targeted regional languages such as Pashto, Dari and Urdu "remains essentially nonexistent," the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence wrote in a rare but stark warning in its 2010 budget report.

Read more ....

My Comment: In the past few years the U.S. military has been boasting about providing cultural awareness programs to its troops. I have no problem with such a program ... in fact I support it .... but it is all for nothing if the language barrier cannot be breached.

The Arctic Sea Mystery Gets Stranger And Stranger

The freighter Arctic Sea set out from Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic, with a cargo of timber bound for Algeria. EPA / SOVFRACHT

Arctic Sea Sailors Freed After Mystery Detention: Reports -- Times Of India

MOSCOW: Sailors from a cargo ship allegedly hijacked by pirates in the Baltic Sea have gone home after their detention by Russian authorities fuelled theories of a cover-up, reports said today.

"According to my information, all 11 have returned home," Mikhail Voitenko, a shipping expert who has followed the case, said in a posting on his website, the Sovracht Maritime Bulletin.

Read more ....

More News On The Arctic Sea

Reports: Arctic Sea crewmen home after questioning -- AP
Crew of Arctic Sea released after nearly two weeks -- Helsingin Sanomat
Arctic Sea crewmen home in Arkhangelsk -- Barents Observer
Arctic Sea crew return home -- Di-ve
Sailors Say Ship Went To Bermuda Triangle -- Moscow Times

My Comment: These sailors were first charged .... and now they are released? This tells me that all charges have been dropped, and for all practical purposes this case is now closed. I doubt that there is going to be investigation (at least publicly) ..... it seems that the intent is to now have this case "go away:.

From where I am standing .... this confirms a lot of suspicions, but with no proof and no evidence anything that I say will just be conjecture and opinion. For what it is worth,it appears that the Arctic Sea was carrying cargo that others were interested in. The ship is now back at port (with a new crew), and answers to questions are now being politely declined. No mention of cargo and what has happened in the past month.

As I said .... this mystery gets stranger and stranger with each passing day.

Iran News Updates -- August 31, 2009

Image: A general view shows the reactor at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, 1200 kilometers south of Tehran. Pre-commissioned in late February, the Bushehr plant is the first nuclear power plant to produce electricity for Iran. Photo from Press TV

Israel, Iran and Obama -- Wall Street Journal Commentary

Conflict is inevitable unless the West moves quickly to stop a nuclear Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on Iran's nuclear programs, though it hasn't released it publicly, only to governments that would also rather not disclose more details of Iran's progress toward becoming a nuclear theocracy. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution, backed by more than 100 members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, that would ban military attacks on nuclear facilities. No actual mention of Israel, of course.

Read more
....

More News On Iran

6 nations to hold meeting on Iran in Germany
-- AP
NATO interest in Iran increasing -- Jerusalem Post
Iran's nuclear program has military aspects, says IAEA -- Haaretz
Iran Claims Report 'Vindicated' Nuclear Program -- Voice of America
Israel accuses IAEA of hiding Iran information -- JTA
Cheney Says He Was Proponent for Military Action Against Iran -- Wall Street Journal
Iran Arms Remained Sealed -- Wall Street Journal
Weapons Seizure Turns Spotlight Onto Two Rogue States -- CNS News
Storm over North Korea-Iran arms vessel -- Asia Times
Panel in Iran Will Oversee Investigations Into Unrest -- New York Times
Hard-line Iranian prosecutor fired -- L.A. Times
Tehran prosecutor 'promoted' into obscurity? -- L.A. Times
Iran's president defends Cabinet amid skepticism -- AP
Fight resumes over Iran cabinet -- BBC
Pressuring Iran on Nukes: Would a Gas Embargo Help? -- Time Magazine
Israel Has Iran in its Sights -- Micah Zenko, Los Angeles Times opinion.
A Libyan Lesson In Tehran -- Jim Hoagland, Washington Post opinion

Afghanistan War News Updates -- August 31, 2009

McChrystal (L) commands US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Photo AFP

Turning Point Looms for the U.S. in Afghanistan -- Time Magazine

Monday marks the end of August, a month with both good and bad news out of Afghanistan — and the approach of a key turning point. Civilian casualties caused by Western attacks have fallen dramatically under a new edict from General Stanley McChrystal barring air strikes that risk innocent deaths (19 killed since July 1, down from 151 in the same period of 2008). That's designed to show the Afghan people that the U.S. military is a force for good in their country. But at the same time, U.S. troop deaths reached 45 in August, making it the deadliest month for American military personnel since the war began 94 months ago. That's due to U.S. forces challenging the Taliban more directly, and the Taliban's stepped-up use of roadside bombs to kill as many Western troops as possible.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

US general: New strategy needed to defeat Taliban -- Yahoo News/AP
U.S. commander: Afghanistan situation serious -- Washington Post/Reuters
Afghanistan strategy not working, US commander McChrystal to tell Obama -- The Guardian
Coalition strategy in Afghanistan failing, admits US -- The Telegraph
Situation in Afghanistan 'serious but achievable' -- CTV
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy' -- BBC
NATO commander calls for revised Afghan strategy -- AFP
General completes Afghan war review -- Press Association
US general sends Afghan war review to Pentagon -- AP
Commander delivers Afghan review, no word on troops -- Reuters
UK troops blow up damaged helicopter in Afghanistan -- The Guardian
British forces lose Chinook helicopter as it crash-lands in Helmand -- Times Online
British Chinook Helicopter Destroyed in Afghanistan Following Crash -- The Daily Telegraph
Taliban Hits NATO Fuel Convoy -- Washington Times/AP
Royal Marine commando dies and five hurt in bombing -- The Mirror
Anti-Taliban ops claim high toll in Afghanistan -- AFP
Escalating insurgency in Afghanistan's Kunduz province rooted in past -- China View
Taliban Ready if Afghan Government Fails, Analyst Warns -- New York Times
Taliban 'out-governing' Afghan govt -- ABC News (Australia)
US Walks Fine Line in Afghan Vote -- Wall Street Journal
Major Fraud Allegations Top 550 in Afghan Election -- Voice of America
Afghan vote fraud claims mount -- Yahoo News/AFP
Increasing Accounts of Fraud Cloud Afghan Vote -- New York Times
Many Women Stayed Away From the Polls In Afghanistan -- Washington Post
U.S. Applies Colombia Antidrug Lessons to Afghanistan -- ABC News
Making A Profit In Afghanistan -- Strategy Page
Afghanistan is now Obama’s war -- Clive Crook, Financial Times
How to Lose in Afghanistan -- Anthony H. Cordesman, Washington Post opinion.

Lockerbie Bomber Release -- Contradictions And A MI6 Connection

The release of Megrahi, who is suffering from prostate cancer, on compassionate grounds and his return to Libya provoked a storm of provoked a storm of international condemnation. Photo: Reuters

MI6 Agent Joined Disgraced BP Boss In Secret Meetings With Gaddafi -- Daily Mail

New questions about the extent of the Government’s involvement in the trade deals that led to the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, were raised last night with the revelation that an MI6 agent flew to Libya with former BP boss Lord Browne for two cloak-and-dagger meetings with Colonel Gaddafi.

Jeff Chevalier, the ex-lover of Lord Browne, has told The Mail on Sunday that Browne was ‘shocked’ when the agent made a reference to his relationship with Mr Chevalier, indicating the authorities knew about their liaison, which was a closely guarded secret.

Read more ....

My Comment: The following news stories reveals the confusion within the Labor Government on this issue.

Jack Straw Denies Allegations He Gave Green Light To Release Megrahi -- The Guardian

But

Jack Straw Admits Cave-In Over Libyan Lockerbie Bomber Demands -- The Telegraph

Also

Downing Street Approved Lockerbie Bomber Deal -- Times Online

Japan's Election -- News And Analysis Updates August 31, 2009

Yukio Hatoyama, third from left, leader of Democratic Party of Japan, places a flower on the name of a party member who was announced a winner at Laforet Museum Roppongi in Tokyo, Japan. Getty Images

Rise Of A New Era In Japan -- Wall Street Journal

A 50-Year Dominance Ends as Voters Oust LDP; Rivals to Spend More, Weigh U.S. Ties

TOKYO -- Japanese voters overwhelmingly rejected the party that has largely ruled their nation for most of the past half a century, choosing instead an untested rival to grapple with an enfeebled economy and an aging society.

The historic change in government could usher in a new era for Japanese politics that replaces the staid consensus that guided Japan in its postwar boom years with a more fractious, competitive environment. The upstart Democratic Party of Japan and the establishment Liberal Democratic Party share similar positions on a number of issues. But the more-liberal DPJ is pushing an ambitious and expensive domestic spending agenda with an eye toward reigniting Japan's economy.

Read more ....

More News On Japan's General Election

Japan's election results -- AP
A glance at Japan's parliamentary elections -- AP
Record 54 women elected in Japan -- News.com.au
With Bold Stand, Japan Opposition Wins a Landslide -- New York Times
A landslide victory for the DPJ in Japan -- Economist
Japan victor hails 'revolution' -- BBC
Japanese voters reject longtime ruling party -- L.A. Times
Japan's opposition crushes LDP in landmark victory -- Christian Science Monitor
Ruling Party Is Routed In Japan -- Washington Post
Japan's Opposition Wins Election in Landslide -- Voice of America
Ruling party swept away in Japanese election rout -- The Australian
Japanese turf ruling party -- Toronto Star
Japan awakes to new era as opposition sweeps into power -- The Guardian
Japan's victorious Democrats in talks over new govt -- Yahoo News/AFP
Japan's post-election market euphoria short-lived -- AFP
Japan Democrats take power, fiscal challenges loom -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Japan opposition takes on economy after landslide -- Yahoo News/AP
Japan Democrats take power, fiscal challenges loom -- Forbes
FACTBOX-Policy challenges facing Japan's next govt -- Reuters
Q+A: Japan PM-elect may ruffle U.S. on security issues -- Reuters
China sees chance of Japanese remorse -- Asia Times
Singapore PM congratulates DPJ's victory in elections -- China View
Q+A: What happens next after Japanese election? -- Reuters
Pivotal moment in Japan's history -- The Australian
Tough times ahead for LDP, Japan's fallen giant -- Asia One
Japan's Aso Steps Down as Head of Ruling Party -- Time Magazine
Likely Japanese PM Hardly a Natural Politician -- Washington Post
The part alcohol played in the landslide victory of the Democratic Party of Japan -- The Telegraph
An Insider's Revolution -- Daniel Sneider, Washington Post opinion.
Japan's World Turned Upside Down -- Tobias Harris, Observing Japan
Japan's Electoral Tsunami -- Jeff Kingston, Foreign Policy
Japan Throws the Bums Out -- Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- August 31, 2009


The C.I.A. In Double Jeopardy -- Joseph Finder, New York Times

EARLY in 2002, Eric Holder, then a former deputy attorney general, said on CNN that the detainees being held at Guant√°namo Bay were “not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention,” particularly “given the way in which they have conducted themselves.”

Read more ....

More Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Afghanistan Is Now Obama's War -- Clive Crook, Financial Times

As Our Enemies Rejoice . . . -- Max Boot, Commentary Magazine

Pentagon Marketing War as Video Game -- David Sirota, Salon

Russia's Obsession with 'Respect' -- O. Matthews & A. Nemtsova, Newsweek

A Libyan Lesson In Tehran -- Jim Hoagland, Washington Post opinion

Israel Has Iran in its Sights -- Micah Zenko, Los Angeles Times opinion.

Time to Make Peace With Taliban -- James Fergusson, The Independent

Liberals Need Foreign Policy Lesson -- Greg Sheridan, The Australian

The Roots of Burma's Ethnic Violence -- Nehginpao Kipgen, China Post

Protect Our Mariners -- John B. Perkins III, Washington Times opinion

Iran's Bomb: A Done Deal? -- James Lewis, American Thinker

World News Briefs -- August 31, 2009

Japan's Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama walks toward to an executive room at the party headquarters in Tokyo August 31, 2009. Japan's next leader, Yukio Hatoyama, fresh from a historic election win, faced the task on Monday of forming a government to tackle challenges such as reviving the economy and steering a new course with close ally Washington. The picture of the party leader Yukio Hatoyama is seen in the party posters and the red words reading "change of government" . REUTERS/Issei Kato

Japan Democrats Take Power, Tough Challenges Loom -- Yahoo News/Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan's next leader, Yukio Hatoyama, fresh from a historic election win, faced the task on Monday of forming a government to tackle challenges such as reviving the economy and steering a new course with close ally Washington.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Olmert becomes 1st Israeli PM to be indicted. Olmert indictment / Why are the charges so serious?

Iraq: suspected bomber recently released by US.

'Bombs hampering US-Syria resolution'.

Remnants of Iraq Air Force are found in Serbia.

Saudi tightens security to protect oil plants.

ASIA

Blast kills 15 Pakistani police recruits. Pakistan military kills 30 militants in Swat: statement.

China again decries Dalai Lama visit to Taiwan. Dalai Lama says Taiwan visit is not political.

Myanmar refugees weigh risks of returning from China.

Remains of last 2 Australia MIAs in Vietnam return.

AFRICA

Bongo, son of Bongo, is favourite for Gabon election. After 40 years of dictatorship, Gabon votes.

Gaddafi prepares for his 40-year spectacular - but will anyone turn up?

Millions facing famine in Ethiopia as rains fail.

In oil-rich Niger Delta, the sun never sets.

Zuma holds talks with both Mugabe, Tsvangirai to break deadlock.

EUROPE

Arctic Sea sailors freed after mystery detention: Reports.

Merkel's party loses ground in German votes.

70 years on, Poland's WWII wounds haven't healed.

AMERICAS

Calif. wildfire heads north, threatens thousands.

Ecuador's Correa to close private TV station for 'spying'.

Commandos kill eight people in northern Mexico.

New flu hit estimated 10 percent of New Yorkers.

Bolivia cries foul over Peru plans for drilling in Titicaca.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Is Al-Qaida opening a Gaza front to counter Hamas?

Saudi prince defends policy on militants.

Cheney offers sharp defense of C.I.A. interrogation tactics.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Meltdown 101: Why banks' struggles have worsened.

Regulators shutter three U.S. banks, bringing 2009 toll to 84.

Commercial real estate lurks as next potential mortgage crisis.

Canada to urge G20 copy "boring" financial system.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- August 31, 2009


Social Media as a Paradigm Shift (Hat Tip: Zen Pundit)

MILITARY AND INTELLIGENCE NEWS BRIEFS

Experts doubt Russian military has moved Bulava production -- RIA Novosti

Competition for the JSF Engine? - It Never Happened! -- Ares Blog/Aviation Week

Video: Belarussian Su-27 crashed at air show in Poland
-- Alert 5

USA’s B-2 Bombers Leading the Way in Contracting for Availability -- Defense industry Daily

Temporary Rundown Of India's Submarine Numbers -- Australia In the Indian Ocean

Japan Launches A Second Aircraft Carrier -- The Strategy Page

Pakistan Denies Modifying Harpoon Missiles -- Defense News

New Chute Means ‘Softer’ Landing for Paratroopers -- Danger Room

Al Qaeda's Bio Threat - Not So Much -- Armchair Generalist

Counter IED Plus Up in The 'Stan -- Defense Tech

Soldiers ordered to fire blanks in training as Ministry of Defence tries to save £700m -- Daily Mail

Djibouti, Africa: Base Operations Contracting -- Defense Industry Daily

Holes in US Defense Umbrella: Wynne -- DoD Buzz

Israel's Enemies Are a Strong Match in Cyber Realm -- Newsweek

Mullen On "Strategic Communication" -- Information Dissemination

Female Pilots Honored for WWII Service -- Military.com

The Russians Are Serious About Making A Presence In The Arctic

Launching of the icebreaker St Petersburg at the Baltiysky Zavod in May 2009

Russia Is Breaking Into The Arctic With New Ship Technology -- The Telegraph/Russia Now

An historic event could have been left unnoticed if it wasn’t for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The operational start of icebreaker St Petersburg has helped Russia increase its advantages in the fight for the Arctic’s hydrocarbon and raw mineral reserves.

Several years ago, if the Russian icebreaking fleet did not seem hopeless, the outlook was definitely bleak. Veterans of the Soviet “ice power” ships, Lenin and Siberia, were effectively obsolete; three more nuclear-powered icebreakers were ready to be discarded; the unfinished successor – the nuclear-powered 50 Years of Victory – had been rusting on the water since 1993.

In 2007, it moved to an operational stage and shipbuilders also began working on a new order – the construction of two diesel-electric icebreakers, Moscow and St Petersburg.

Read more ....

My Comment: This should be a wake up call for Canada, the U.S., the Danes, and the Norwegians.

A New Vision For The U.S. Army

Image: Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster (Photo from Frontline)

McMaster Rewrites Army Vision -- DoD Buzz

Big news out of Army Training and Doctrine Command: Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster is rewriting the service’s Capstone Concept, a document laying out the service’s vision of how it intends to fight future wars. The capstone concept document is important because it guides future Army force development including modernization.

Most readers are likely familiar with McMaster from his 2005 exploits in Tal Afar, Iraq, considered one of the first, large scale, applications of counterinsurgency best practices there. Those readers who are a bit older, like myself, better know McMaster as commander of the cavalry troop at the Battle of 73 Easting during Desert Storm (for a time, the most scrutinized battle in American history, though that may no longer be the case).

Read more ....

My Comment: This is going to be an interesting document to read. Much has changed in the past few years. Programs have been canceled. Money is tight. The Iraq war is winding down .... the Afghanistan war is heating up.

December is when this report will be released ... I am looking forward to it.

Moving The U.S. Military Out Of Iraq

Photo from Wired/The Danger Room

From Yahoo News/AP:

BAGHDAD – The U.S. military is packing up to leave Iraq in what has been deemed the largest movement of manpower and equipment in modern military history — shipping out more than 1.5 million pieces of equipment from tanks to antennas along with a force the size of a small city.

The massive operation already under way a year ahead of the Aug. 31, 2010 deadline to remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq shows the U.S. military has picked up the pace of a planned exit from Iraq that could cost billions.

Read more ....

My Comment: The movers are going to make a killing on this contract.