Tuesday, March 31, 2009

GM Collapse Would Be No Big Deal To The Military

From Nukes And Spooks:

Dear readers: It seems that everything these days centers around the ongoing economic crisis, even national security issues. Will the American public have the patience for the inevitable costs of the president’s new strategy in Afghanistan? Will billions of dollars in aid in Iraq suddenly seem intolerable? How much must the Defense Department cut its one-time burgeoning budget in the current climate? And on and on.

As such, we started asking what effect GM and Chrysler potentially filing bankruptcy could have on national security. Those images of Detroit car production halting so that workers could build vehicles for the troops serving in battle was somehow seared in my mind. The auto industry and the military are inevitable linked, I thought.

Read more ....

Army Gear Gets Tailored For Afghan Mission

U.S. soldiers stand guard near the site of an explosion in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan on March 15. By Rafiq Maqbool, AP

From USA Today:

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — After seven years of combat, the Army is sending soldiers to Afghanistan with tougher, lighter gear to help them deal with the rugged, high terrain.Everything from boots to pants to mountaineering equipment is being redesigned as the military prepares to send 21,000 more servicemembers there by summer. Each new piece of equipment must balance the protection it offers with the weight it adds to a soldier's burden.

The weight of soldiers' gear has become a top concern for the Army. This month, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, told U.S. senators the average soldier's load of rucksack, weapon, ammunition, helmet and gear can top 130 pounds. That weight makes soldiers tired and more prone to injury, Chiarelli said.

Read more ....

My Comment: Are they saying that the uniforms worn for the past 7 years have not been up to spec? I guess there is always room for improvement.

U.S. Sec. of State Clinton Says Most Taliban Fight Out Of Desperation, Not Belief

Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a conference on Afghanistan that most Taliban can be brought around to support the country's government. (Bas Czerwinski/Associated Press)

Canada Brokers Afghan-Pakistani Border Security Deal -- CBC

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that most Taliban fighters are in it for the wages — "not committed to a cause so much as acting out of desperation" — and could be brought over to the government side.

The CBC's David Common, reporting from The Hague, said no one expected the United Nations-sponsored meeting to solve Afghanistan's many problems, including political instability, drug trafficking and unrelenting violence.

The aim was to bring together the neighbours — a relatively new idea even after more than seven years of war — as well as countries such as Canada that have soldiers fighting in the country, he said.

Read more ....

My Comment: What Sec. of State Clinton is saying is exactly what Soviet leaders were saying during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. I can only hope that the ending will be a different story.

Pentagon Budget: Big Cuts Are Expected

Senator: Expect Painful Cuts In Pentagon Budget -- AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate defense committee chairman says Pentagon budget will include large, painful cuts. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said Tuesday that major program cuts will not be pushed off until the 2011 budget, but will be included when Defense Secretary Robert Gates sends his spending plan to the president later this month.

Levin's comments confirmed what many contractors and military leaders have expected, but he offered no details on which programs may be axed. He said Pentagon officials have indicated they will not be able to submit the much-anticipated spending plan by April 21, as initially hoped.

Read more ....

More News On The Incoming Pentagon Budget

Pentagon’s Gates Might Detail Weapons Cuts Early -- Wall Street Journal
Senator says Defense chief will reveal budget cuts ahead of Obama -- Government Executive
Defense budget plan could be pushed to May -- Federal Times
Deep cuts, cancellation of Future Combat Systems on the table -- Nextgov
Arms Development Costs Soar -- Washington Post
$296 Billion in Overruns in U.S. Weapons Programs -- New York Times
GAO: Weapons cost overruns rising -- UPI
Nearly 7 in 10 major U.S. arms programs over budget -- Reuters
Weapons programs over budget, behind schedule: audit -- AFP

Pakistani Taliban Threatens Attack On White House

From Yahoo News/AP:

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan's Taliban chief claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a police academy, saying he wanted to retaliate for U.S. missile attacks on the militant bases on the border with Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States, also vowed to "amaze everyone in the world" with an attack on Washington or even the White House.

The FBI, however, said he had made similar threats previously and there was no indication of anything imminent.

Mehsud, who gave a flurry of media interviews Tuesday, has no record of actually striking targets abroad although he is suspected of being behind a 10-man cell arrested in Barcelona in January 2008 for plotting suicide attacks in Spain.

Read more ....

My Comment: Baitullah Mehsud is the chief suspect in the murder of (Pakistan) Presidential candidate Bhutto in 2007. There is a lot of blood on his hands, and he has thousands of followers. The idea of a suicide hit squad of 20 or 30 crossing into the U.S. whereby they then plan and attack (in a Mumbai style fashion) the White House or Congress is not a far fetched idea.

They will fail, but the bloodshed will be incredible and the impact on the U.S./World political scene will be equal to 9/11. The FBI may say there are no indicators of such an attack .... but I am sure that they are always prepared for the worse each day.

I will take these threats very seriously.

How Israel Foiled An Arms Convoy Bound For Hamas

From Time Magazine:

Israeli fighter-bombers, backed by unmanned drones, were responsible for a mid-January attack on a 23-truck convoy in the Sudanese desert carrying arms to Hamas militants, two highly placed Israeli security sources revealed to TIME. The attack was a warning to Iran and other adversaries, showing Israel's intelligence capability and its willingness to mount operations far beyond its borders in order to defend itself from gathering threats.

The sources revealed exclusive details about the bold air attack on what they said was an Iranian weapons convoy, which was transporting rockets and explosives destined for Gaza, where an Israeli assault was ongoing. They denied earlier news reports that U.S. aircraft had been involved in the attack on the arms convoy as it crossed at night through the Sudanese desert heading for Egypt's poorly guarded border. "The Americans were notified that Israel was going to conduct an air operation in Sudan, but they were not involved," a source said. He denied prior claims by a U.S. television network that a ship and a second convoy were destroyed. "There was only one raid, and it was a major operation," he said, adding that "dozens of aircraft" were used.

Read more ....

My Comment: Drones were not used to do the strike .... as previously reported .... but jet fighters were used with drones confirming the kill. A fascinating action report .... if true.

World News Briefs -- March 31, 2009

Workmen place wooden boards around a war memorial statue outside the Bank of England in London. US President Barack Obama arrived in London Tuesday ahead of the G20 economic summit, on his eagerly awaited first foray onto the global stage since he moved into the White House in January. (AFP/Ben Stansall)


Israeli military closes probe. More news here.

Doha Summit ends with a whimper.

Army Sergeant pleads guilty to murder in Iraqi prisoner deaths.

U.S. to retain pressure on Iran Guards.


Australian Mmlitary not ready for war as fighter jets, choppers and submarines unfit for frontline.

Khmer Rouge genocide trial opens. Khmer Rouge defendant expresses 'heartfelt sorrow'.

Tamil leader killed in suicide fleet sea battle. Fierce clashes in North Sri Lanka.

Was the U.S. set up by an Afghan drug lord?

Lahore 'was Pakistan Taleban op'.

N. Korea to put American journalists on trial.


Arab leaders end summit with support for Sudan's embattled leader.

Southern African leaders discuss Madagascar, Zimbabwe.

Hundreds feared drowned off Libya.

Africa faces battle for G20 spotlight.


Obama arrives in London, 1st leg of Europe trip.

Walesa threatens to leave Poland.

Prominent Chechen killed in Dubai. More news here.

Russian court begins 2nd Khodorkovsky trial.


Mexico rules out joint border patrols with U.S.

Obama's aunt becomes symbol in immigration debate.

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities fell by a record 19%.

Red River recedes below most sandbags in Fargo.


U.S. drops 'War on Terror' phrase, Clinton Says. More news here and here.


World Bank: global economy will shrink for first time on record.

World Bank offers trade boost ahead of G20.

Double-digit unemployment looms, OECD tells G8.

Russia, China cooperate on new currency proposals.

Chavez to seek Arab backing for `petro-currency'.

Russia backs return to Gold Standard to solve financial crisis.

Zimbabwe Jail Likened To Death Camp

PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN BROADCASTING CORP. SUFFERING: In these screen captures from "Hell Hole" provided to The Washington Times in advance of its broadcast Tuesday, gaunt prisoners share stories of being neglected by the Zimbabwean government. The documentary, produced with hidden cameras, is set to air on "Special Assignment".

From The Washington Times:

Evokes images from Holocaust.

Halfway through a 25-month sentence for theft, Brian Gumbo is literally rotting away - his skin peels because of malnutrition and the muscles in his legs have withered to the point where he can barely walk.

Mr. Gumbo, thought to be in his late 20s or early 30s, is one of several inmates videotaped through hidden cameras inside Zimbabwe's prisons.

The images, shared with The Washington Times, are of gaunt prisoners with protruding ribs reminiscent of just-freed Holocaust survivors or Muslim prisoners held by Serbian troops during the Bosnian war.

Read more ....

More News On Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, law has a long road ahead -- L.A. Times
Zimbabwe: Farm Seizures Assailed -- New York Times
A year after contested poll, Zimbabwe seeks hope -- AFP
Goods reappear in Zimbabwe shops -- AFP
Has Zimbabwe's Runaway Inflation Been Tamed? -- Time Magazine
Zimbabwe: Is the basket case finally on the mend? -- Independent

Report: Chinese Develop Special "Kill Weapon" To Destroy U.S. Aircraft Carriers

From U.S. Naval Institute:

Advanced missile poses substantial new threat for U.S. Navy.

With tensions already rising due to the Chinese navy becoming more aggressive in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy seems to have yet another reason to be deeply concerned.

After years of conjecture, details have begun to emerge of a "kill weapon" developed by the Chinese to target and destroy U.S. aircraft carriers.

First posted on a Chinese blog viewed as credible by military analysts and then translated by the naval affairs blog Information Dissemination, a recent report provides a description of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) that can strike carriers and other U.S. vessels at a range of 2000km.

The range of the modified Dong Feng 21 missile is significant in that it covers the areas that are likely hot zones for future confrontations between U.S. and Chinese surface forces.

Read more ....

My Comment: This should not be a surprise. At least the Chinese are not like the Russians who are putting tactical nukes into their subs .... instead, the Chinese are exploring alternative non-nuclear methods. The post from Information Dissemination that first broke this story, and is a must read, is here.

Iran, Syria Got Indirect U.S. Nuclear Aid

From Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON -- Four countries designated by the U.S. as terrorism sponsors, including Iran and Syria, received $55 million from a U.S.-supported program promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, according to a report by Congress's investigative arm.

Iran received more than $15 million from 1997 to 2007 under the International Atomic Energy Agency's Technical Cooperation program, according to the Government Accountability Office report set to be released Tuesday. An additional $14 million went to Syria, while Sudan and Cuba received more than $11 million each, it said.

The U.S. is the largest funder of the United Nations body's program and provided $20 million in 2007, or about a quarter of the budget, the report said.

Read more ....

My Comment: We have found the enemy .... and it is us.

Iraq War News Updates -- March 31, 2009

In a Tyrant's Shadow: Defaced images of former Iraqi President Hussein adorn an apartment building in Baghdad

The Return Of The Baathists -- Newsweek

For years this man has spoken out for members of Saddam's old party. Now Iraqis are listening.

Grinning with vindication, Saleh al-Mutlaq says he knew this day would come. For years the amiable, disheveled parliamentarian, now 61, has been the foremost defender of Iraqis with ties to Saddam Hussein's old party. In return, Mutlaq and his allies have been called just about everything from opportunists to terrorists. Nevertheless, he claims, he told Nuri al- Maliki four years ago that someday Maliki would beg the Baathists to come back.

Read more ....

More News On Iraq

Al-Qaeda Infiltrating Security Forces in Iraq, Sources Say -- Time Magazine
Suicide Bomber Kills 7 and Wounds 17 in Mosul -- Associated Press
Iraq Bombing Kills 7 -- Voice Of America
Seven killed in suicide attack on Iraqi police -- AFP
FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 31 -- Reuters
Rebellious Sunni Council Disarmed -- New York Times
Rebellious Sunni Council Disarmed After Clashes, Officials in Baghdad Say -- New York Times
A Look Inside Iraq's Interior Ministry -- Los Angeles Times
Iraq's Unraveling? -- The Atlantic

Uneasy Rivals US, Iran Meet At Afghan Conference

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, right, are seen at the start of a meeting at the Afghanistan Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday March 31, 2009. A 72-nation conference on Afghanistan will launch a broader international commitment to the security of the region, including neighboring Pakistan, special U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said Monday. The hastily convened conference brings together all the countries bordering Afghanistan, including Iran, and all nations contributing troops to the NATO-led international force fighting Taliban insurgents. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

From Yahoo News/AP:

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Top U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke had a brief but cordial meeting with Iran's deputy foreign minister Tuesday at an international conference on Afghanistan, marking another step in unlocking 30 years of tense relations.

The meeting between Holbrooke, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Iran's Mehdi Akhundzadeh came on the sidelines of a meeting where Iran pledged to help the reconstruction of its neighbor but criticized U.S. plans to send more troops into Afghanistan.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. - Iranian Relations

US says Iran meeting was "brief, cordial" -- Reuters
Iran and US hold 'cordial' talks -- BBC
Clinton: Iran, US diplomats will keep in touch -- Press TV
Iran: U.S. troops in Afghanistan raise "radicalism" -- Reuters
Iran hits out at American troop surge in Afghanistan -- Times Online
Iran offers to help US rebuild Afghanistan -- The Guardian
US, Iran the offstage drama at Afghan meet -- AP
Iran to the U.S.: Where we go now -- L.A. Times opinion

After The G20 Meeting, We Have The NATO Summit

Police And Protesters Prep For NATO Summit -- AP

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — Some 25,000 French and German police — and perhaps as many protesters — are taking up positions around three cities on both sides of the Rhine before a NATO summit involving President Barack Obama and 25 other leaders.

French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie called it France's biggest security operation in years, and warned of possible terrorist acts and clashes over Afghanistan and waging war in the 21st century.

The summit runs Friday and Saturday in the French city of Strasbourg and the German cities of Kehl and Baden Baden, following a similarly tightly monitored summit of the G-20 leaders on the world economic crisis in London on Thursday.

Read more ....

More News On NATO

Strasbourg turns into fortress for NATO -- Reuters
Germany, France Express Security Fears for Upcoming NATO Summit -- Deutsche Welle
PREVIEW: Obama, Afghanistan to hold centre stage at NATO summit -- M&C
Croatia and Albania to join Nato -- The Telegraph
NATO Turns 60; Reflects Past; Defines Future -- Voice Of America
NATO: After 60 Years, Out of Area or Out of Business? -- Political Affairs

Europe's A400M Transport Plane Is Overbudget And Late For Delivery

An A400M was displayed for the media in June. The earliest delivery of the first aircraft appears to be at least several years away. Jose Manuel Vidal/European Pressphoto Agency

From The New York Times:

There is no agreed-upon engine design, but rather four entirely different engineering concepts produced by four companies in four countries. The fuselage is too heavy, and the electronic control system has failed several tests.

Such is the current state of the A400M transport plane, Europe’s flagship military project, an enterprise costing €20 billion, or about $26 billion, and spanning more than 15 years.

New plans for the troubled aircraft were supposed to have been unveiled Wednesday, two days before a NATO summit meeting in Strasbourg at which the U.S. president, Barack Obama, was to meet with other NATO members to discuss his plans for Afghanistan. Instead, an internal dispute in the consortium manufacturing the plane broke out Monday that underscored the tenuous future of the project. And the earliest delivery of the first aircraft appears to be at least several years away.

Read more ....

My Comment: There are a number of legitimate "beefs" about U.S. military programs being over budget and not meeting up to specs .... but this pales in comparison to what happens in European programs.

Sri Lanka War News Updates -- March 31, 2009

Defiant Tigers Frustrate Sri Lanka's Military -- Yahoo News/AFP

COLOMBO (AFP) – Two months after President Mahinda Rajapakse vowed that the Tamil Tiger rebels would be defeated within days, fighting rages on in Sri Lanka at the cost of escalating military, rebel and civilian lives.

Government forces who were advancing into Liberation Tigers' of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) territory at the rate of more than a kilometre (0.6 miles) a day have slowed to a snail's pace.

Read more ....

More News On Sri Lanka

Tamil Tiger leader no-surrender vow nears last test -- Reuters
Sri Lanka Won’t Sign Cease-Fire With Rebels, President Says -- Bloomberg
Sri Lanka 'could halt fighting' -- BBC
Sri Lanka considers pause in fighting -- Market Watch
45 LTTE cadre killed, claims military -- The Hindu
Kerala hunts for fleeing Tamil Tiger rebels -- Reuters
Sri Lanka withdraws troops from 'welfare camps' -- ABC News (Australia)
Q+A-What is fate of civilians trapped in Sri Lanka's war? -- Reuters
The silence surrounding Sri Lanka -- Boston Globe

North Korea Missile News Updates -- March 31, 2009 (Updated)

Photo: A soldier walks in front of Air Self Defense Forces' Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor missile launchers. Image from AFP

Expert: NKorea Has Several Nuclear Warheads -- Yahoo News/AP

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea is believed to have several nuclear warheads that could be mounted on a missile, an international security expert said Tuesday ahead of a rocket launch that regional powers suspect will test weapon delivery technology.

But Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based North Korea expert for the International Crisis Group, stressed it is unclear if the communist nation has mastered the technology necessary to miniaturize the warheads and put them on Rodong missiles, which have a range of 620 to 930 miles (1,000 to 1,500 kilometers). The North is believed to have five to eight warheads, he said.

The National Intelligence Service, South Korea's main spy agency, said it could not confirm Pinkston's remarks.

Read more ....

More News On North Korea

N. Korea Said To Have Nuclear Warhead Capacity -- Forbes
North Korea Has Two Nuclear Warheads for Missile, Kyodo Reports -- Bloomberg
Expert: North Korea has several nuclear warheads -- China Post
North Korea Threatens War If Japan Tries to Shoot Down Missile -- Bloomberg
NKorea vows military response if Japan downs satellite -- Times Of India
Japan protests planned NKorean rocket launch -- AFP
Warships set sail ahead of N. Korean rocket launch -- AP
All Eyes on Japan as North Korea Prepares for Missile Launch -- Voice of America
US Destroyers Move from South Korean Port -- Los Angeles Times
Warships Set Sail Ahead of N. Korean Launch -- Associated Press
All N.Korean forces on alert -- Strait Times
North Korean Launch Success Would Lead To Missile Sales -- Defense Technology News
Satellite ISIS pegs N.Korea rocket launch site: U.S. Navy & Japan mobilized missile defense systems -- Examiner
A look at North Korea's missile arsenal -- Yahoo News/AP

Petraeus, Holbrooke Describe Afghanistan Strategy

From U.S. Department of Defense:

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2009 – The new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan will include unprecedented integration of military and civilian activities, two key leaders in the effort said yesterday.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, spoke with host John King on the CNN program “State of the Union.”

Holbrooke said that in the wake of a full review of Afghanistan policy ordered by President Barack Obama, he and Petraeus plan to meet soon to work on details for the way forward.

Read more .....

My Comment: Discussing in public what the U.S. goals and objectives are for Afghanistan. This tells me that public support for the war is not as "hot" as publicized.

Unfortunately, nothing new came out of this CNN interview. More of a committment that the details are going to be sorted out in the next few weeks.

Gates Securing A Role Under Yet Another President

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Dec. 11, 2008, visiting visiting Kandahar, Afghanistan. Pool photo by Scott Olson

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Robert M. Gates spent 115 days on the road last year as President George W. Bush’s defense secretary and the superintendent of the United States’ two wars. He was in Iraq three times, Afghanistan twice, Russia, Kosovo, India, Kyrgyzstan — 26 countries in all.

Not this year. As President Obama’s defense secretary and the lone holdover from the Bush cabinet, Mr. Gates has cut back his trips overseas and is staying close to home.

His advisers say his most important travel now is the two-mile journey he makes almost every day between the Pentagon and the White House, where this canny, deceptively bland Washington master of adaptation — he is a former director of central intelligence who has served eight presidents of both parties — is trying to cement his role in the Obama inner circle.

Read more ....

My Comment: His loyalties are to the United States of America .... that's good enough for me.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 31, 2009

Russian President Medvedev takes off in supersonic fighter-jet.
Hat Tip Naval Open Source Intelligence


Electronic Spy Network Focused on Dalai Lama and Embassy Computers -- Threat Level/Wired News

Monitoring the Coast of North Korea -- Information Dissemination

Speeding Up the Homeland Security Technology Curve -- HS Today

Soldiers Blinded, Hospitalized by Laser 'Friendly Fire' -- The Danger Room

Boots on the Ground -- Cyber War Edition -- Defense Tech

New homeland security tool to detect Conficker worm -- Breitbart/AP

Somali Pirates Attack German Navy -- Information Dissemination

Waziristan-based terror group takes credit for Lahore assault -- Long War Journal

MoD admits responsibility for Afghanistan Nimrod explosion deaths -- The Telegraph

Creating Combat Ready Gadgets -- Strategy Page

Japan Deploys Patriot Missiles to Protect Tokyo -- Buzzle.com

F-22s versus Russia’s Rusting, Ramshackle Air Force -- War Is Boring

North Korean Launch Success Would Lead To Missile Sales -- Defense Technology News

Gates Puts 'Don't Ask' Issue on Back-Burner -- Military.com

Homeland Security Seeks Bladerunner-Style Lie Detector

Bladerunner: The Voight-Kampff test. Photograph: Public Domain

From The Guardian:

Do our eyes betray us when we lie? The US government hopes to find out.

In Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, Bladerunner, the police have a problem. The wayward androids they are pursuing behave so much like humans, they have a tough time telling them apart.

They turn to the Voight-Kampff test, a futuristic version of the age-old polygraph, to help them out. During the test, subjects are grilled with a list of questions, while their physiology is monitored. In particular, the test looks for abnormal eye responses that might indicate the subject isn't human.

Read more ....

Iran Ups Support For Gaza And Lebanon Hardliners

Masked Palestinians take part on an anti-Israel rally organised
by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Reuters

From Der Spiegel:

Iran is reportedly increasing its military aid to both Hezbollah and Hamas, according to Israeli intelligence sources. Meanwhile, Tehran is suspected of interfering in the reconciliation talks between the rival Palestinian factions.

It appears that Iran is continuing with is massive support for extremist groups that are intent on attacking Israel. A 20-page dossier compiled by the Israeli intelligence agencies, which has been seen by SPIEGEL, reports that Iran "has strengthened its operative help to Palestinian terror groups." The military aid is said to take the form of supplies of weapons, ammunitions and money, as well as the education and training of fighters.

Read more ....

My Comment: So much for the election of President Obama and a new era of foreign policy. It appears that Iran is prepping their war machine.

The Wider View: Nazi Codebreaker Which Shortened The Second World War By Two Years

Mike Hillyard, one of the volunteers who rebuilt a replica of the Turing Bombe machine that played a crucial part in cracking the Nazi Enigma Code, stands by the machine at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes

From The Daily Mail:

The rows of silver dials and tangle of scarlet wires look more like a telephone exchange.

But this is the inside of the Turing Bombe, the part-electronic, part-mechanical code-breaking machine and forerunner of the modern computer, which cracked 3,000 messages a day sent on Nazi Enigma machines during the Second World War.

There were 210 such bookcase-like Bombes that gave Britain advance warning of Hitler’s plans and shortened the conflict by two years.

Read more ....

Its Official .... "War On Terror" Rhetoric No More

Hillary Clinton with President Elect Barack Obama. Photo from The Daily Mail

Obama Team Drops "War On Terror" Rhetoric -- Reuters

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday the Obama administration had dropped "war on terror" from its lexicon, rhetoric former President George W. Bush used to justify many of his actions.

"The (Obama) administration has stopped using the phrase and I think that speaks for itself. Obviously," Clinton told reporters traveling with her to The Hague for a conference on Afghanistan, which Bush called part of his "global war on terror."

The term "war on terror" was coined after the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, which were planned in Afghanistan by the militant group al Qaeda.

Read more ....

My Comment: This playing with language is going to fool no one .... especially to our enemies.

Pentagon Looks At Green Options

Alternative engergy ... the Pentagon is looking at ways to become greener
by partnering with private firms / Reuters

From The Daily Telegraph:

THE Pentagon may seem an unlikely promoter of alternative energy, but the biggest consumer of oil in the United States is looking at ways to become just that by partnering with private firms.

"When you don't use as much fuel, not only does it not cost you as much, but it also saves lives and injuries of those people who would have to deliver fuel through hostile territory," Assistant Army Secretary for Installations and the Environment Keith Eastin said.

Despite reducing its overall energy consumption by five per cent between 2005 and 2007, the US military spent $US13 billion ($18.46 billion) on energy in 2007 and requested an additional $US5 billion ($7.1 billion) due to a spike in oil prices.

Read more ....

My Comment: An army does not only march on its stomach .... it also needs fuel and energy. But green options .... I am skeptical.

Monday, March 30, 2009

North Korea Missile Test -- News Updates March 31, 2009

Sat Tracks North Korean Missile Build-Up -- The Danger Room

Thanks to satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe, we not only have the clearest pictures yet of North Korea's about-to-be-launched missile. We've also got an eye-in-the-sky pictorial history of how the Musudan-Ri missile test site has been built up, to prepare for the lift-off. The presentation, completed late last week, shows troops marching in formation around the missile assembly building, vehicles delivering materials to the launch pad -- as well as rennovations and new additions to the missile assembly facility.

Read more ....

More News On North Korea's Impending Missile Test

Ahead of North Korea’s planned rocket launch, US dispatches destroyers -- Christian Science Monitor
US moves warships into position for North Korean missile -- The Guardian
U.S. destroyers move from South Korean port -- L.A. Times
US, SKorea, Japan coordinate on NKorea launch -- AFP
Anti-missile flotilla sets sail as North Korea readies its 'satellite' -- Scotsman
An Afghan boy looks through a broken window at the site of the raid in Imam Sahib.

US Used by Afghan Drug Clan to Take Out Rival -- Der Spiegel

A "high-ranking" member of al-Qaida was seized during a recent US mission in Afghanistan which left five people dead. But the Americans were set up: The tip-off as to his location came from a drug clan who wanted to get rid of a rival.

A secret mission by elite American Delta Force commandos in northern Afghanistan has triggered resentment among German forces, SPIEGEL has learned.

The American forces were tricked by a drug clan into taking out a rival as part of an operation to seize an al-Qaida member. Now German soldiers are paying the price for the operation's civilian casualties.

Read more ....

My Comment: The problem with this German report and its protestations, is that an Al Qaeda operative was there, and that the people who were his hosts also fired back at the Americans. This tip-off also came about because the tipster did not trust the Germans .... which makes sense when you read and learn how much the Germans are upset that this occurred on their turf without being notified. From my point of view .... it appears that they were protecting and/or tolerating him.

So .... the US used by an Afghan drug clan to take out a rival .... hmmmm ..... it appears that the Germans were being used to keep a drug operation going.

I can understand why the Americans did not trust their German counterparts.

Somali Piracy News Updates -- March 30, 2009

Photo: Greek commandos prepare to board Somali pirate vessel in Gulf of Aden. Credit: Greek Navy via Associated Press

Pirates Attacking German Ship Captured Off Somalia -- Yahoo News/AP

SAN'A, Yemen – Seven pirates opened fire on a German naval supply ship in the Gulf of Aden but were chased down and captured by an international anti-piracy task force, the U.S. Navy and European officials said Monday.

Meanwhile, Yemen reported that pirates killed a Yemeni fisherman and wounded two others in an attack on a fishing boat Saturday, also in the Gulf of Aden.

The expanse between Somalia and Yemen is one of the world's busiest waterways and the thousands of ships passing through each year have been plagued by pirate attacks.

Read more ....

More News On Somali Piracy

Pirates fire on German ship, leading to five-hour chase -- L.A. Times
European Forces Capture 7 Somali Pirates -- Voice Of America
EU anti-piracy mission arrests seven Somali pirate suspects -- China View
Pirates' Shock As They Pick On The Wrong Ship -- SKY News
Pirates attacks German Navy supply tanker FGS "Spessart" -- Defpro

Nearly 7 In 10 Major U.S. Arms Programs Over Budget

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly 70 percent of the Pentagon's 96 major weapons-buying programs were over budget in 2008 for combined cost growth of $296 billion above original estimates, congressional auditors said in an annual report released on Monday.

The total estimated development cost for 10 of the largest acquisition programs, commanding about half the overall arms- purchasing dollars in the portfolio, has shot up 32 percent from initial estimates, from about $134 billion to more than $177 billion, the Government Accountability Office said.

The two largest programs -- Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Boeing Co-led Future Combat Systems Army modernization -- "still represent significant cost risk moving forward" and will dominate the portfolio for years, the survey said.

Read more ....

More News On Budget Over Spending

Weapons programs over budget, behind schedule: audit -- AFP
GAO: Weapons programs remain far over budget -- AP
Harvard defense expert aims to fight Pentagon cost overruns -- Reuters
Obama's Pick for Weapons Czar Will Target Cost Overruns -- Wall Street Journal
Pick to Oversee Pentagon Acquisitions Targets Costly Weapons Programs -- Washington Post
A schoolboy runs by a blazing van in the Ardoyne area of Belfast. (Alan Lewis/Photopress Belfast)

IRA Dissidents Burn Cars, Block Belfast Roads -- Yahoo News/AP

DUBLIN – Suspected IRA dissidents and their supporters hijacked cars Monday in working-class Catholic areas of Northern Ireland in a coordinated effort to block roads and threaten police stations, police said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was receiving a wave of reports of vehicles being hijacked by masked gunmen in several parts of Belfast and in the Kilwilkie district of Lurgan, a power base for Irish Republican Army dissidents southwest of Belfast.

Read more ....

More News On Northern Ireland

Vehicles hijacked in Belfast -- Reuters
Suspected IRA dissidents hijack and burn cars in Belfast -- Daily Mail
Belfast paralysed by dissident bomb warnings -- Times Online
IRA dissidents burn cars, block Belfast roads - -AP
Erupting violence puts Irish peace plan at risk -- Montreal Gazette
Alerts in Northern Ireland as Dublin bombs are found -- Independent
N. Ireland police re-arm after killings -- AFP

Extreme Right Gains Ground As Ukraine Falls Into Crisis

A poisonous feud between President Viktor Yuschenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister, has compounded the problems facing Ukraine Photo: AFP/GETTY

From The Telegraph:

Europe's economic crisis has allowed the extreme right in Ukraine to capitalise on the turmoil engulfing the former Soviet republic.

An unexpected regional election victory by a previously marginal ultra-nationalist party is among a string of developments in Ukraine that threaten to fulfil the worst fears of G20 leaders as they gather for their summit in London.

Lacking the protection of European Union membership, Ukraine has few of the safeguards that prevent its Western neighbours from falling into ruin.

Read more ....

My Comment: My Russian father grew up in the Ukraine from 1922 - 1941. I have scores of cousins, uncles, and aunts in the country. It is a crying shame to see what is happening now .... and I am grateful that my father is not alive to see what is happening.

Government incompetence mixed with the poison of Ukrainian/Russian nationalism ..... this country of 50 million is going through rough times. The financial crisis in the country is destroying people's faith in the government and their future, and the ones who are now being looked upon as their saviors are the worse of the worse in the Ukrainian political establishment.

Again .... I am grateful that my father is not alive to see what is happening in the country that he bled for during the Second World War.

World News Briefs -- March 30, 2009

President Barack Obama announces that he is appointing Ed Montgomery, right, as the Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, as he makes remarks about the American automotive industry, Monday, March 30, 2009, in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds). More news here.


Arab Summit: New Syrian-Jordan unity.

'No halt' to Gaza arms smuggling.

US seeks to reassure Sunni allies in Iraq. Also .... UN suggests power-sharing for Kirkuk.

US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,262.


N. Korea to indict detained 2 American reporters.

No U.S. plans to stop Korea on ICBM test. Further news from Def. of Sec. Gates: US not planning to shoot down N. Korean missile.

U.S. deploys anti-missile ships before N.Korea launch.

Brisk traffic on North Korea's forbidden border.

Trials of Khmer Rouge officials begin. More news here and here.


Sudan's leader arrives in Qatar. More news here and here. Also .... Often split, Arab leaders unite for Sudan’s chief.

Drop in Nigerian oil revenues foreshadows economic downturn.

Mauritania's military ruler running for President.

Zimbabwe to arrest farm invaders.


Hungary parties back Bajnai as PM.

Turkey ruling party wins, but opposition makes gains. Also .... AK Party wins Turkish vote but reforms less clear.

Ex-Georgia leader says Saakashvili should resign.

Deal in Basque Country to oust nationalists.


U.K. dismisses Falkands talks demand.

Momentum grows for relaxing Cuba policy.

Drug Smugglers: Thwarted on land, they're smuggling by sea.


Police identify 200 children in Britain as potential terrorists.

US judge orders Iran to pay $25M for Hamas killing.

Five arrested in G20 'bomb plot' as London goes into lockdown for world leaders.

Spain to consider Prosecuting Bush officials over torture allegations.


Russia, China cooperate on new currency proposals.

FOCUS: G20 countries damp expectations for April 2 summit.

George Soros: Britain may have to seek IMF rescue.

Obama outlines plans for GM, Chrysler.

U.S. Sales of second homes fall 22 percent.

Will Arab Leaders Discuss Israeli Airstrike In Sudan?

General view showing the closing session of the Arab summit in Doha, Qatar, Monday, March 30, 2009. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi stormed out of an Arab summit on Monday after denouncing the Saudi king and declaring himself 'the dean of Arab rulers.' Gadhafi disrupted the opening Arab League summit in Qatar by taking a microphone and criticizing Saudi's King Abdullah, calling him a 'British product and American ally.' (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Arab League likely support Sudan's Bashir against war crimes charge, but discourage ties with Iran.

Tel Aviv - Arab reaction to media reports that Israeli aircraft attacked convoys in Sudan allegedly ferrying weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip has been tepid.

The relatively muted reaction highlights Sunni Arab concerns about Iran's increasing interference in the region – a focus of an Arab summit Monday.

Israel carried out three attacks since January on what were believed to be arms shipments to Hamas, including longer range missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv, ABC News reported on Friday citing US officials. While Israel has adopted its familiar policy of declining comment, Arab countries have refrained from any protest.

Read more ....

My Comment: The short answer is .... NO.

Gen. Petraeus: U.S. No Less Safe Under Obama

Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 22, 2008, before the Senate Armed Services committee nomination hearing for his reappointment to the grade of general and to be commander of the U.S. Central Command. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Photo from Huffington Post)

From The Hill:

General David Petraeus countered recent suggestions by former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday that the United States is less safe under the Obama administration.

“I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that,” Petraeus said during an appearance on CNN where he was asked about Cheney's comments.

In an interview on CNN two weeks ago, Cheney defended Bush administration interrogation policies and the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay as making the U.S. safer. He criticized Obama for announcing changes to U.S. interrogation policies, which he said had foiled terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Read more ....

My Comment: The difference between Vice President Cheney and General Petraeus is that while General Petraeus focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vice President Cheney's focus was on the bigger picture. I would trust Vice President Cheney's analysis over General Petraeus's on this issue of U.S. security.

G20 News Updates -- March 30, 2009

Draft Communique For G20 Summit -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) leading and emerging nations will agree at a summit on Thursday to refrain from currency moves that would hurt each other's economies, according to a draft statement.

Following is the statement, dated March 26, 2009, obtained by Reuters.


1. We, the Leaders of the Group of Twenty met, for a second time, in London on 2 April.Over the last half century strong growth and increasing international trade has brought untold jobs and prosperity to our citizens. We now face the greatest challenge to the world economy in modern times, a crisis affecting the lives of ordinary men, women, and children around the world. A global crisis requires a global solution.

Read more ....

More News On The G20

Brown: G-20 will rise to challenge -- CNN
Pressure on leaders ahead of G20 summit -- BBC
Further G20 meeting could be necessary, hints Downing Street -- The Guardian
Obama seeks strong message of unity at G20: report -- Reuters
G24 Developing Nations Urge G20 To Help Emerging Markets -- Wall Street Journal
London braces for G20 protests -- Market Watch
Britain tightens security as leaders meet for G-20 -- AP

Mexico's Drug Cartel War -- News Updates March 30, 2009

Mexican Army soldiers on patrol in Reynosa, a border town. A cartel has hired a paramilitary force to protect its turf there. Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

In Drug War, Mexico Fights Cartel and Itself -- New York Times

REYNOSA, Mexico — An army convoy on the hunt for traffickers rolled out of its base recently in this border town under the control of the Gulf Cartel — and an ominous voice crackled over a two-way radio frequency to announce just that. The voice, belonging to a cartel spy, then broadcast the soldiers’ route through the city, turn by turn, using the same military language as the soldiers.

“They’re following us,” Col. Juan José Gómez, who was monitoring the transmission from the front seat of an olive-green pickup truck, said with a shrug.

Read more ....

More News On Mexico's Drug Cartel War

Mexico drug violence "out of hand": Obama -- Yahoo News/AFP
Obama worried by spillover from Mexico drug fight - -Yahoo News/AP
Mexico rules out joint border patrols with U.S. -- Reuters
One Day of Violence in Mexico Leaves 15 Dead - AFP
AP IMPACT: With Mexico's army in the war on drugs -- AP
Human Smuggling Rings Drive Mexico Violence -- World Politics Review
Mexico: War Comes Closer to Home - Washington Times opinion
Mexico's Dinosaurs Exploit the Crisis - Wall Street Journal opinion
Mexico's War Must Be Our War - Los Angeles Times opinion
Mexico’s border -- La Opinion
Secure Borders at Last -- Human Events

Russia Backs Return To Gold Standard To Solve Financial Crisis

From The Telegraph:

Russia has become the first major country to call for a partial restoration of the Gold Standard to uphold discipline in the world financial system.

Arkady Dvorkevich, the Kremlin's chief economic adviser, said Russia would favour the inclusion of gold bullion in the basket-weighting of a new world currency based on Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund.

Chinese and Russian leaders both plan to open debate on an SDR-based reserve currency as an alternative to the US dollar at the G20 summit in London this week, although the world may not yet be ready for such a radical proposal.

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My Comment: Unlike most Western countries, the Russian Government understands the importance of gold, and how it can be used to instill discipline in a countries financial and currency situation.

Kudos to the Russian Government, they are showing far more common sense than our own governments. I predict China, the Gulf States, and other major countries to soon follow. These actions will have a long term profound impact on both world economics and business.

Arab League Tells Israel: Accept Saudi Initiative Now Or Never

Photo: Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, right, greeting Saudi King Abdullah upon his arrival in Doha for Arab League summit. Reuters

From Haaretz:

Arab leaders in Qatar for the Arab League summit sent Israel an ultimatum Sunday: Accept the Saudi Peace Initiative or it will be rescinded.

The draft proposal of the statement states: "The peace initiative being proposed today will not be on offer for a long time. Arab commitment to this initiative is dependent on Israeli acceptance."

The draft proposal was formulated by the Arab foreign ministers, and will be presented to the Arab League's leaders Monday for approval. The wording is a compromise between the hardline Arab countries, mainly Syria and Qatar, and the moderates, including Egypt and Saudi Arabi

Read more ....

My Comment:The problem with these proposals is that it ignores extremist Arab groups who have no interest in pursuing peace. News like the following, does not help the peace process at all, nor do comments from Hezbollah and Iran.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- March 30, 2009

IN KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the new U.S. strategy was better than expected. Obama said there would be a focus on training Afghan forces.
Rafiq Maqbool / Associated Press

Afghanistan Will Not Be A Quagmire, Obama Assures -- L.A. Times

President Obama says the troop buildup and other efforts are not open-ended, emphasizing the need for diplomatic and development efforts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan to curb militancy.

Reporting from Washington -- Invoking what he described as a lesson of Vietnam, President Obama said Sunday that his commitment to step up military operations in Afghanistan was not open-ended, and that success would require vigorous diplomatic and development efforts there and in neighboring Pakistan.

Obama framed the escalation of military activity in Afghanistan and aid for Pakistan that he announced Friday as part of an effort to regain focus on defeating or neutralizing Al Qaeda, which was dislodged from enclaves in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

No early exit from Afghanistan: NATO chief -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Obama Says He Is Sharpening Focus of War in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
Afghanistan Will Not Be a Quagmire, Obama Assures -- Los Angeles Times
'Flourishing' Democracy Remains Long-term Goal, Gates Says -- U.S. Department of Defense
New Afghan-Pakistan Strategy Refocuses Military Efforts, Obama Says -- U.S. Department of Defense
US won't hunt militants over Pakistan border: Obama - -AFP
Suicide bomber in police uniform kills 9 Afghans -- Yahoo News/AP
At Least 7 Afghan Security Personnel Killed in Attacks -- Voice of America
US Pushes Afghan Plan In The Hague This Week -- Wall Street Journal
Obama: America Expects Accountability From Pakistan -- Voice of America
Court Favors Karzai Term Until Election -- New York Times
Both Iran, US to attend Afghanistan peace meeting -- Yahoo News/AP
Obama's 'Stronger, Smarter' War -- Washington Times editorial
Hidden Danger in Afghanistan -- Washington Post opinion
The Real Afghan Issue Is Pakistan -- Wall Street Journal opinion
For Afghanistan, a Season of Promise and Peril -- Washington Post
The great Afghan bailout -- Asia Times
he Afghan Plan, "Mr. Obama's War" -- CBS News