Sunday, May 31, 2009

White House Not Moving on DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell)

From The Advocate:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked twice during Thursday's press briefing about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Both times, he reverted to his standard talking points on the subject.

When would the White House push Congress to repeal the policy, asked one reporter?

Gibbs reiterated the president's support for repeal, then added, "He does not think the policy is working in the national interests and is working with the Joint Chiefs, the Pentagon, and others to bring about a change in that policy."

Read more ....

My Comment: I guess the White House is thinking along the same lines that I am .... there are more important things to focus on. Of course .... for many in the gay community .... this is the important issue.

G8 Wants Closer Cooperation To Fight Terrorism, Piracy

From Yahoo News/AFP:

ROME (AFP) – Fighting the global terrorism threat as well as the scourge of piracy calls for stronger cooperation among G8 nations, the group's interior and justice ministers said Saturday.

Despite some successes, "terrorism is still one of the most serious threats to international security," the ministers from the Group of Eight rich nations said in a final statement after three days of talks near Rome.

Extremists have shown a "significant offensive capability" and "organisational flexibility," they said, along with an ability to recruit and radicalise their followers, which is "a cause of great concern."

Read more ....

My Comment: The same speeches, platitudes, and announcements made at this (and past) meetings/conferences.

What Is Happening In Iran -- News Updates For June 1, 2009

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his opponents were serving the interests of the West. Hasan Sarbakhshian / Associated Press

Iran President's Rivals Slam His Foreign Policy -- L.A. Times

Challengers in the presidential race dare to criticize Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's positions on sensitive issues such as U.S. relations and Israel.

Reporting from Tehran -- In a political race most analysts predicted would hinge on domestic bread-and-butter issues, foreign policy has emerged as a major battleground -- and a potential Achilles' heel for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With campaigns for the June 12 presidential election in full swing, none of the three challengers have shied away from publicly criticizing Ahmadinejad on topics long considered off-limits for debate in Iran, such as his stance on the country's nuclear program and his vitriol for Israel.

Read more ....

More News On Iran

Iran: Polls put Ahmadinejad in lead -- Jerusalem Post
Iran set for intense vote battle -- Middle East Online
Iranian Candidate Taps Student Woes -- New York Times
Iran reformist candidate wants end of US sanctions -- Yahoo News/AP
Iran candidate Mousavi backs women's rights -- BBC
Iranian Women Campaign for Greater Rights -- Washington Times
Think tank accuses Ahmadinejad of distorting facts -- Yahoo News/AP
Homemade bomb on board plane raises tension ahead of Iran elections -- The Guardian
Suspected bomb found on Iranian flight -- The Telegraph
Three hanged in Iran mosque bombing -- L.A. Times
Iran Hangs 3 Men Held in Bombing of Mosque -- New York Times
Change in the Air in Iran -- David Ignatius, Washington Post opinion

Extra U.S. Troops In Afghanistan By Mid-July

A U.S. Marine from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit looks through his gun sights during a patrol in the town of Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan, Sunday, July 13, 2008. Some 2,200 Marines, who have been deployed since late April, moved into the town of Garmser to sweep out insurgents. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

From Reuters:

KABUL, May 31 (Reuters) - The majority of the 17,000 extra U.S. troops being sent to fight a growing Taliban-led insurgency in southern and western Afghanistan should be on the ground by mid-July, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

A further 4,000 troops are arriving to train Afghan security forces and they will be deployed by August.

Washington pledged to send 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to reinforce security ahead of presidential elections scheduled for Aug. 20 and to support NATO-led troops which have struggled to fight an escalating insurgency there.

"10,000 Marines are beginning to arrive now and will continue to arrive for the next month and a half or so and they will be principally located in Helmand but also in Farah," said Colonel Greg Julian, spokesman for U.S. forces.

Read more ....

My Comment: These troops are needed now.

Cyber War/Security News Updates -- May 31, 2009

Terry Gillette, left, and Scott Chase run a Raytheon unit that finds flaws in Pentagon computers. Gregg Matthews for The New York Times

Contractors Vie For Plum Work, Hacking For The United States -- New York Times

MELBOURNE, Fla. — The government’s urgent push into cyberwarfare has set off a rush among the biggest military companies for billions of dollars in new defense contracts.

The exotic nature of the work, coupled with the deep recession, is enabling the companies to attract top young talent that once would have gone to Silicon Valley. And the race to develop weapons that defend against, or initiate, computer attacks has given rise to thousands of “hacker soldiers” within the Pentagon who can blend the new capabilities into the nation’s war planning.

Nearly all of the largest military companies — including Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon — have major cyber contracts with the military and intelligence agencies.

Read more ....

More News On Cyber War/Security Issues

Obama's strategy for countering cyber attacks -- Christian Science Monitor
Obama: Cyber Security is a National Security Priority -- Washington Post
Cyber security strategy unveiled -- Washington Times
Obama's Cybersecurity Initiative Wins Praise -- PC World
Obama's cybersecurity plan prompts praise and some questions -- Washington Technology
Obama Moves to Curb Data-System Attacks -- Wall Street Journal
Obama will name official to push for cyber security -- Star Telegram
Cyber attacks continue to grow -- MSNBC
What Obama's Cyberplan Means For Business -- Forbes
All hail the cyber czar -- Washington Times Editorial

‘Top Gun’ Takes On Taliban Upside Down

Photo: Simon Rawlins says he has come close to death at least twice during his 193 missions

From Times Online:

The navy’s leading pilot in Afghanistan tells of the daring manoeuvre he used to tackle a militant stronghold

THE Royal Navy’s “Top Gun” pilot and veteran of almost 200 missions in Afghanistan has relived the hair-raising aerial manoeuvres used against a Taliban stronghold.

Lieutenant Simon Rawlins, 30, described flipping his Harrier jet upside down while flying up the side of a mountain at more than 500mph to scare off enemy troops.

The “show of force” mission required the fighter pilot to fly just 100ft above ground, the minimum safe distance, leaving him vulnerable to rocket attack and rifle fire.

Rawlins has clocked up in excess of 400 flying hours - more than any other navy pilot - providing air support for British and Nato troops in Afghanistan over five years.

Read more .....

My Comment: A riveting read.

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

Meet The New, Government-Owned GM -- Forbes

Bankruptcy will force lots of changes on the automaker, putting bureaucrats in the driver's seat.

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- With General Motors poised to enter Chapter 11 reorganization, the question arises: What will the bankrupt company look like and how will it be different?

The answer to the second part is "a lot." The answer to the first is nobody knows for sure, but it may not be pretty.

Read more ....


A military answer to North Korea? Not likely. -- Christian Science Monitor

North Korea and Diplomacy -- Wall Street Journal opinion

Loose cannon gives Obama a lesson -- The Australian opinion

Truce Or Consequences For N. Korea -- IBDeditorial

Is Aid Working in Africa? -- Real Clear World

The Disaster in Sri Lanka -- The Times editorial

Why It's So Hard to Close Gitmo -- Wall Street Journal

War against the West -- Clifford May, Washington Times

There's No Room for Partisanship on Iran -- Wall Street Journal

The Mother of All Myths (On The Middle East)
-- Michael Totten, Commentary

American capitalism gone with a whimper -- Pravda

A nation up for grabs -- Thomas Henriksen, Washington Times

Who Is to Blame for the Next Attack? -- Frank Rich, New York Times

A perpetual missile crisis -- Victor Hanson, Washington Times

Change in the Air in Iran -- David Ignatius, Washington Post opinion

The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse -- Richard Clarke, Washington Post

Failure of make-nice diplomacy -- Oliver North. Washington Times

World News Briefs -- May 31, 2009

A Pakistani Soldier On Patrol In The Swat Valley's Main Town Of Mingora Photo: EPA

Pakistan Makes Progress In Battle To Defeat Taliban In Swat Valley -- The Telegraph

Pakistan heralded a decisive victory over the Taliban in the Swat valley within days as the army announced it had taken control of the main town of Mingora.

A senior government official said the offensive to wrest control of Swat from the Taliban would end in two or three days but a military spokesman warned the challenge of securing the area from Taliban infiltration would last for a time.

Read more ....


Shootout between Palestinian police, Hamas kills 6.

Israel begins its biggest civil defense drill.

Three hanged for mosque bombing in Iran.

Freed journalist Roxana Saberi tells of fearful jail time in Iran.

Hizbullah raises alert ahead of drill.

Egypt: Iran less important than peace process.


Pakistan city centre 'destroyed'.

Web-savvy & cynical: China's youth since Tiananmen.

Sri Lanka rules out outside probe. U.N. is pressed to report Sri Lanka toll.

Burmese activist's health is a concern.

Pakistani on US list of drug barons.

China's contribution to UN Peacekeeping grows.


Darfuri women report ominous pattern of rape.

Zimbabwe PM party says central bank chief must go.

African leaders want transparent Mauritania vote.

IMF approves $200 million loan for Kenya.

Sudan buries ex-president who imposed Islamic rule.

UN team meets Chad child soldiers.


Police detain would-be anti-Putin protesters.

Paris gunman makes off with millions in jewels.

Rebel Georgian region holds election, tension builds.

Last Titanic survivor dies at 97.


Chávez seeks tighter grip on military.

Venezuela's Chavez shifts gears in leftist revolution.

Missile buildup has U.S. on edge.

What you'll need to satisfy new U.S. identification requirements.

Mexico drug traffickers corrupt politics.

Cuba accepts US migration talks.


Homeland Security to scan fingerprints of travelers exiting the US.

Italian Minister says EU should decide unanimously on Gitmo inmates.

Australia considers resettling Gitmo detainees.

Terrorist flees to Lebanon, FBI confirms.


World Bank President Zoellick warns stimulus ‘sugar high’ won’t stem unemployment.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner's China trip comes at difficult time.

Leaders Live In Luxury While North Koreans Starve To Pay For Nuclear Bomb

North Korea Uncovered pin point Kim Jong Il's manicured residence and swimming pool in an area reserved for North Korea's ruling elite

From Times Online:

Satellite images of North Korea have revealed the luxury lifestyle of dictator Kim Jong Il and his inner circle, replete with palaces, golf courses and swimming pools with giant waterslides.

They appear to show that the country's secretive elite, who sparked a fresh nuclear crisis last week by test firing an atomic device, live in circumstances more appropriate to residents of Beverley Hills than leaders of the world's last Stalinist state.

The privileges of Pyongyang's select few are unheard of for most ordinary citizens in North Korea, whose government's disastrous economic polices have left millions reliant on foriegn food aid handouts.

Read more ....

My Comment: Saddam Hussein had the same deal going .... but many in the West opposed the invasion that had him over thrown. In fact .... Saddam Hussein's palaces were many and bigger.

Amateurs Use Google Earth To Uncover Kim’s Sinister Secrets

Camp 16: Fences and boundaries match accounts by escaped prisoners

From Times Online:

FOR all the billions of dollars worth of surveillance technology directed at North Korea as it breathes fire this weekend, its closed society is so impervious to spying that diplomats in Asia are forced to admit that they might as well rely on Google Earth.

A set of images - “North Korea Uncovered”, released by Curtis Melvin, a keen American amateur - includes a tantalising view of the site where the North Koreans detonated a nuclear device last week that diplomatic sources say may have been based on a Chinese design.

Melvin’s satellite map of the country, collated from Google Earth, reveals palaces, labour camps, mass graves and the entrance to the subterranean test base in the remote northeast of the country.

Read more ....

My Comment: Kudos to those who work tirelessly to reveal the truth.

U.S. Vows To Keep Using 'State Secrets' Defense

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Obama administration has informed a federal judge it will continue to invoke the "state secrets" privilege in a legal battle with an Islamic charity suspected of funding terrorism.

The United States has designated the Oregon-based al-Haramain Islamic Foundation as a terrorist organization. The group, which has sued the government over alleged warrantless wiretapping, is demanding classified information about the program.

Read more ....

My Comment: Goodbye to the old boss .... hello to the new boss.

Predator Drones Could Face Legal Challenges From Human Rights Advocates

Photo from The New Republic

From FOX News:

Human rights activists are turning their attention to the drone program in part because they say there's no warning to innocent civilians who are in a targeted area.

Human rights activists at odds with President Obama over his recent national security decisions are indicating that they might legally challenge the U.S. military's use of Predator drones, a weapon that intelligence officials say is their single most effective tool in combating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Predator spy planes are unmanned aerial vehicles that are virtually invisible when flying overhead. The Air Force uses them frequently in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they are able to track and hit targets from the air when mountainous terrain makes it notoriously hard to send troops.

Read more

My Comment: This legal attempt will go nowhere with the exception of creating publicity .... which is probably the main reason for doing this.

A Korean Invasion Blindsides The U.S. Army -- But In A Good Way

A Korean man signing up at an Army recruitment office in Los Angeles.
Miriam Jordan/The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal:

Immigrants From Peninsula Swamp Program Offering Citizenship; Other Groups Squeezed

LOS ANGELES -- Suk Joon Lee, a South Korean immigrant, feared his days in the U.S. were numbered. His ice-cream shop wasn't doing well, and if it failed, his investor visa could be revoked.

Then Mr. Lee stumbled upon a Korean-language Web site that described a way out: a program that the Army was about to launch that offered a shortcut to getting U.S. citizenship. The site was created by another Korean immigrant, James Hwang, and it explained in minute detail the steps required to qualify.

Read more ....

My Comment: From my own personal experience (my parents are immigrants from Russia) .... I have found that many immigrants are more loyal and dedicated to their adopted country than citizens who are fifth, sixth etc. generations. This program will (and is) a success story, and this does not surprised me at all.

Man Who Tracked Che For CIA Awarded $1 Billion In Lawsuit

From McClatchy News:

MIAMI — In what may be the largest civil judgment ever against the Cuban government, a Miami-Dade judge on Friday awarded more than $1 billion to a Homestead man who blamed Fidel Castro and Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara for driving his father to suicide in 1959.

''What the defendants did was torture this family and tear it apart,'' said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Adrien in ruling for Gustavo Villoldo, 73, who ironically became a CIA operative and helped track down Guevara in the jungles of Bolivia in 1967.

In keeping with its practice in a handful of similar lawsuits, the Cuban government did not respond to the suit or attempt to defend itself.

Read more ....

My Comment: Liabilities and court judgments against the Cuban Government runs into the billions. Until the Cuban Government can come to terms with these legal judgements .... open and free economic trade with the U.S. will never be possible.

Likely Hizbollah Electoral Victory In Lebanon Raises Prospect Of New Tensions With Israel

Lebanese Hizbollah women with the national and Hizbollah flags draped about their shoulders walk in Beirut's southern suburbs Photo: REUTERS

From The Telegraph:

Hizbollah, the heavily armed militant group supported by Iran, is poised to lead a coalition to victory in Lebanon's parliamentary elections next week.

The party could come to power thanks to its unlikely alliance with Michel Aoun, a leader of Lebanon's Christian minority, whose followers have joined forces with the hardline Shia Muslim party after falling out with fellow Christians.

Mr Aoun's party is expected to secure around 30 seats, while Hezbollah, which is allied with the Amal party, another hardline Shia faction, is expected to retain its current holding of 35 seats. With around 65 seats between them, the alliance would have a slender majority in the 124 seat parliament.

Read more ....

My Comment: Hexbollah's control of the Lebanese Government will guarantee war with Israel within the next year or two. Their victory will also guarantee the end of the Cedar Revolution as we know it.

North Korea News Updates -- May 31, 2009

A missile-firing drill in an undisclosed location in North Korea.
Photograph: KCNA/KCNA/AFP/Getty Images

Gates, Allies Discuss Response to North Korea -- Wall Street Journal

SINGAPORE -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates Saturday began to lay the groundwork for building up U.S. and allied military defenses in East Asia should the Obama administration fail to convince China and Russia to join in a multilateral diplomatic response to North Korea's nuclear test.

In closed-door meetings with the defense ministers of U.S. treaty allies Japan and South Korea -- and a separate half-hour discussion with a senior Chinese general -- Mr. Gates said the U.S. preferred for the five countries that have engaged Pyongyang in talks on its nuclear program to present a unified front to punish North Korea.

Read more ....

More News On The North Korean Crisis

Gates Looks to Tougher Approach on North Korea -- New York Times
U.S., Asian allies gear up for tougher stance toward N. Korea -- L.A. Times
Gates Issues Tough Warning to N. Korea -- Washington Times.
Gates: 'Painful' Sanctions May Be Required Against North Korea -- Voice of America.
Gates Calls North Korea’s Actions ‘Reckless, Ultimately Self-destructive’ -- American Forces Press Service
North Korea planning to launch long range rocket -- Times Online
N. Korea Seen Moving Missile to Launchpad -- Washington Post
US May Shoot Down NK Missile -- Korea Times
Pentagon Official: U.S. Could Shoot Down North Korean Missiles -- FOX News
A look at North Korea's missile arsenal -- AP
Nuclear-armed North Korea is 'not acceptable', warns US -- The Guardian
N.Korea threat hangs over S.Korea, ASEAN summit -- AFP
Dealing with North Korea by Ralph A. Cossa -- Global Security
Understanding China's Approach to North Korea -- Huffington Post
US journalists' trial begins in NKorea this week -- Yahoo News/AP

Nigeria's Unrest In The Oil Rich Delta Region Continues

Fighters with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) raise their rifles in celebration after an operation against the Nigerian army in the Niger Delta on September 17, 2008. "Our target is to crimple the oil installations in order to force the government to a round table to solve the problem once and for all". Photo: AFP

Nigerian Militant Group Rejects President's Amnesty Offer -- The Wall Street Journal

IBADAN, Nigeria (Dow Jones)--Militants in the Niger Delta region Friday rejected Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua's renewed offer of amnesty to those who lay down their arms.

Yar'Adua renewed the offer, which he first made last month, in an address to commemorate a decade of democracy in Nigeria on Friday.

"The recently renewed amnesty offer by the Nigerian government has been hereby rejected by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta because it is ambiguous, dictatorial, and has not been tested in a test tube," the militants said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News On Nigeira

Nigerian army out of control -- Next
Official: 7 militants killed in Nigeria clashes -- Taiwan News/AP
Niger Delta offensive intensifies -- Next
Niger Delta Militant Chief Threatens Restarting Oil Attacks -- Easy Bourse

Pakistan Civil War News Updates -- May 31, 2009

Taliban rebels in Pakistan are taking their war to the cities, honing terror tactics to maximise civilian carnage after suffering heavy losses in a blistering military offensive, analysts say. — AFP/File Photo

Pakistan: Corpses Lie Exposed In Retaken Swat Town -- Yahoo News/AP

MINGORA, Pakistan – Corpses lay exposed in the Swat Valley's main town on Sunday, and residents rushed to mostly empty markets in search of food a day after the military claimed to have retaken the city from the Taliban.

Elsewhere in the northwest, officials said scores of militants were killed in fighting with soldiers that could signal Pakistan is expanding the offensive from Swat into other parts of the northwestern border region with Afghanistan.

Read more ....

More News On Pakistan's Civil War

Pakistan: 2-3 Days From Victory in Swat, Buner -- Voice of America
Pakistan battles Taliban; Swat offensive "near end" -- Reuters
Pakistan Army Claims Control of Main Swat Town -- New York Times
Pakistani Forces Reclaim Swat Valley's Largest City -- Washington Post
Pakistan troops say kill 40 Taliban near Afghan border -- Reuters
Pakistani offensive shifts towards Afghan border -- Radio Netherlands
Pakistan diary: Hit and run tactics -- Al Jazeera
Taliban take war to Pakistan cities -- Dawn
Terror Attacks, Threats Put Pakistanis Cities on High Alert -- Voice of America
Pakistani cities are new battleground for Taliban -- Mercury news
3.4 million displaced by Pakistan fighting -- UPI
Pakistani Refugees Wait Out Swat Valley Conflict -- Washington Post
Taliban recruits teenagers for future suicide bombers: Report -- Economic Times
Facebook Pakistanis unite against terror -- Times Online
INTERVIEW - Pakistan says confident nuclear assets safe -- Reuters
Gates Calls on Asian Partners for Help in Afghanistan -- U.S. Department of Defense

Administration Blocks Helicopters For Israel Due To Civilian Casualties In Gaza

AH64-D Apache Longbow during flight testing at Boeing testing ground.

From World Tribune:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has blocked Israel's request for advanced U.S.-origin attack helicopters.

Government sources said the administration has held up Israel's request for the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. The sources said the request was undergoing an interagency review to determine whether additional Longbow helicopters would threaten Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

"During the recent war, Israel made considerable use of the Longbow, and there were high civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip," a source close to the administration said.

Read more ....

My Comment: I guess last weeks meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was not as great as advertised.

Camp Lejeune Vets Suffer From Drinking Water Contamination

A sign at Camp Lejeune, N.C., warns about treatment of the underground plume
of TCE, or trichloroethylene, on the base.

From St. Petersburg Times:

The last years of Marine Corps veteran Ian Colin MacPherson's life were spent fending off one puzzling ailment after another.

Rashes. Headaches. Vertigo. Nausea. And finally, the abnormally aggressive prostate cancer that killed the Riverview man at age 46 in 2004.

MacPherson always figured he must have been poisoned. But by whom?

His widow, Jody MacPherson, believes she found the culprit last year: MacPherson's beloved Marine Corps.

"They killed him," she said.

Camp Lejeune, a sprawling Marine base on the North Carolina seaboard, is the site of what some scientists call the worst public drinking-water contamination in the nation's history. Its water wells were tainted with cancer-causing industrial compounds for 30 years, ending in 1987.

Read more ....

My Comment: I must confess that this is the first time I have heard of this story. It deserves more coverage and commentary.

Cirsis On The Korean Peninsula -- Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

North Korea’s Nuclear Tests: A Sign Of Things To Come? -- RUSI

North Korea’s most recent nuclear testing has provoked international outrage, but the challenges here come with a foreboding of an ‘American strategic disaster’ further afield.

North Korea’s latest nuclear test has been met with a wave of international outrage, UN Security Council emergency meetings and a flurry of political consultations. And, just as predictably, the ultimate result was not very encouraging: a new UN Security Council resolution, a few statements warning that what North Korea has done is ‘unacceptable’, yet little action. Nevertheless, behind all this diplomatic noise lurk some horrible realities. The entire system of deterrence which governed relations between nuclear powers for over half a century appears to be melting down. The proliferation of nuclear weapons is now an established fact; what North Korea has done is precisely what Iran is seeking to achieve as well. But nobody has a workable policy to prevent these ominous developments. In short, the world’s nuclear future is now set to become predictably unpredictable.

Read more

More Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials On North Korea

Is Kim Chong-Il losing his nerves in North Korea's gigantic nuclear bluff? -- Defpro

A military answer to North Korea? Not likely. -- Christian Science Monitor

North Korea and Diplomacy -- Wall Street Journal opinion

Loose cannon gives Obama a lesson -- The Australian opinion

Truce Or Consequences For N. Korea -- IBDeditorial

North Korea Provokes with Impunity -- Mark Steyn, OC Register

What Can Be Done About North Korea? -- John Metzler, China Post

America's North Korean Military Options -- Todd Crowell, RealClearWorld

Force Alone Won't Solve Korean Crisis -- Donald Kirk, Los Angeles Times

North Korea and Diplomacy -- Wall Street Journal editorial

Pyongyang Strutting -- Japan Times editorial

US Lab Debuts Super Laser

A US weapons lab pulled back the curtain on a
super laser with the power to burn as hot as a star

From AFP:

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — A US weapons lab on Friday pulled back the curtain on a super laser with the power to burn as hot as a star.

The National Ignition Facility's main purpose is to serve as a tool for gauging the reliability and safety of the US nuclear weapons arsenal but scientists say it could deliver breakthroughs in safe fusion power.

"We have invented the world's largest laser system," actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said during a dedication ceremony attended by thousands including state and national officials.

"We can create the stars right here on earth. And I can see already my friends in Hollywood being very upset that their stuff that they show on the big screen is obsolete. We have the real stuff right here."

NIF is touted as the world's highest-energy laser system. It is located inside the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory about an hour's drive from San Francisco.

Read more ....

The Kilcullen Doctrine

From Zen Pundit:

Dr. John Nagl, president of CNAS, lead author of The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, retired lieutenant colonel and top COIN expert, has penned an important review of Accidental Guerrilla by Col. David Kilcullen, in the prestigious British journal RUSI. Unfortunately, at present no link is is available, but my co-author Lexington Green is a subscriber and sent me a copy of the review, which I read last night. I now look forward to reading Kilcullen firsthand and have put Accidental Guerrilla near the top of my summer reading List.

I state that Nagl’s review is important because beyond the descriptive element that is inherent in a review, there is a substantive aspect that amounts to an effective act of policy advocacy. First, an example of Nagl’s descriptions of Kilcullen’s arguments:

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My Comment: An excellent essay and post by Zen Pundit. The Strongest Tribe by Bing West is my favorite book .... but the Accidental Guerrilla appears to be another must read book for me this summer.

To Marines, Day At Beach Means Seizing It

From Sign On San Diego:

Cpl. Andrew Mustain joined the Marine Corps a few years ago, drawn partly by its storied heritage of storming beaches and the chance to drive a large vehicle in and out of water.

The Marines' expertise with amphibious landings has been memorialized in movies, posters and recruiting commercials. It's arguably the Corps' defining image – a Leatherneck rushing the shores of Iwo Jima, Japan; Inchon, Korea; and other foreign locales.

That's what Mustain, 21, is learning to do at Red Beach, a mile-long stretch of sand in the middle of Camp Pendleton's coastal training zone. The parcel is one of the most uncluttered yet heavily used oceanfront tracts in Southern California.

Read more ....

My Comment: That part of Southern California typifies the beauty of Southern California. Sigh .... I wish I was there now.

Russian Fighter Jets Worse Than Those Of USA And Europe?

Indian Il-78MKI gassing two Su-30MKIs (IAF)

From Pravda:

The failure of the deal to sell Russian IL-78 fuel tankers to India once again raised the issue of the competitive ability decrease of Russian arms and military technique on the world market. Russia’s "Оboronka" (the defense industry) is facing yet harder problems in handling export contracts and servicing clients of earlier transactions. “It is impossible to improve the situation”, our expert concludes.

According to Russian and foreign media sources, India refused to buy Russian Il-78 fuel tanker aircraft. Indian officials motivated this decision with the non-conformity of planes to the customer’s requisitions. The spare parts supply and the after-sales service were also mentioned.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Russian arms industry is selling weapons and fighters worldwide at a brisk rate.... but it appears that with India cost over-runs and delays is hurting Russia's international image.

Robert Gates: The Bureaucrat Unbound

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates greets U.S. military service personnel at Kabul airport following his visit to Forward Operating Base Airborne on May 8, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Gates is in Afghanistan ahead of the 21,000 increase in U.S. troops in the country. (Photo by Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images) Katie Couric;Robert Gates. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac)

From Time Magazine:

A few weeks ago, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates trooped up to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the new Pentagon budget. This is an unseemly spectacle under the best of circumstances. Even reasonable members of Congress have been known to empretzel themselves shamelessly, attempting to defend weapons the Pentagon doesn't want or need, but which provide jobs for their constituents. Usually, they win, too. It is just too difficult for a Secretary of Defense to argue against shiny new weapons systems with subcontractors in 46 states, even if they are fantastically over budget and designed to counter a missile threat that the Soviets never perfected 30 years ago.

But this is a different year, and Gates is a different sort of Defense Secretary. He warned the legislators that each decision was "zero sum." Any money that went to things he didn't want would come out of programs necessary to support the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read more ....

My Comment: For a man who was ready and prepared to retire when President Obama was sworn into office .... Secretary of Defense Gates has been one busy man. He has even usurped the State Department on the issue of North Korea .... something that was considered inconceivable when Hillary Clinton took the post of Secretary of State.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Taliban Target Britain On 'Orders' From Al-Qaeda

(7/7 London)

From The Telegraph:

A Taliban-trained terrorist was part of a cell sent to bomb Britain as revenge for their presence in Afghanistan, it has emerged.

The terrorist informant has told prosecutors he was trained by Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, and was planning a series of suicide attacks with 11 other men.

The informant, known as "Ahmed", told investigators the bombers were to work in pairs using a "device carried in a backpack with a third person to detonate a remote control" in order to ensure the bombers went through with their mission.

Read more ....

My Comment: You know that it is only a question of time before Al Qaeda is successful in conducting a major hit in the U.K.

Lovelorn Iraqi Men Call On A Wartime Skill

When this young woman’s family rejected a neighbor’s marriage proposal, he planted a bomb in front of his own home, hoping to blame them for it. Christoph Bangert for The New York Times

From The New York Times:

BAGHDAD — It goes like this: Boy meets girl. They exchange glances and text messages, the limit of respectable courting here. Then boy asks girl’s father for her hand. Dad turns him down. Boy goes to girl’s house and plants a bomb out front.

The authorities call it a “love I.E.D.,” or improvised explosive device, and it is not just an isolated case. Capt. Nabil Abdul Hussein of the Iraqi national police said that six had exploded in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad alone in the past year.

“These guys, they face any problem with their girlfriends, family, anyone, and they’re making this kind of I.E.D.,” Captain Hussein said.

Read more ....

My Comment: We do not have to go all the way to Iraq to see men act stupid and (in some cases) dangerous when it comes to relationships and families .... we have enough of them here.

Taliban Recruits Teenage Suicide Bombers For Revenge Attacks

From The Telegraph:

Video films made by the Taliban in Pakistan's troubled Swat valley show teenage boys being groomed as suicide bombers for revenge attacks against local security forces.

After the army began an operation to clear Taliban from the valley in May, fighters went from house to house demanding a boy or young man from each family, with recruits encouraged to volunteer for martyrdom missions.

Last week 24 people died and more than 300 were wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded outside a secret police headquarters in Lahore, and six policemen were killed when an attacker detonated explosives at a checkpoint in Peshawar.

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My Comment: This is the true of evil .... remarkably caught on camera.

5 Reasons Why This North Korean Crisis Is No Groundhog's Day -- Commentary And Analysis

A South Korean tourist looks at northern side through binoculars on South Korea's western Yeonpyong Island as Chinese fishing boats gather near the disputed sea border with communist North Korea, Saturday, May 30, 2009. North Korea vowed to retaliate if punitive U.N. sanctions are imposed for its latest nuclear test, and U.S. officials said there are new signs Pyongyang may be planning more long-range missile launches. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

From Foreign Policy:

North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, new threats of war against its declared enemies, and the predictable results of these developments -– expressions of concern at the UN Security Council, U.S. offers of more unconditional talks, China’s ambivalent response –- suggest that we remain in the “Groundhog Day” cycle of crisis and response that has characterized U.S. policy towards Pyongyang since 1994. In fact, new dynamics on the peninsula and in the region, and the fresh opportunity provided by what can now clearly be judged to be years of failed policy on denuclearization and disarmament, present an opportunity for a creative rethink about U.S. policy options. To clarify a way forward, it’s worth considering how the playing field has shifted (I see five ways that it has), and how this may create a different set of possibilities for the United States and our allies vis-à-vis the North Korean regime -– one that breaks decisively from the past and offers real hope for change.

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My Comment: A good analysis .... a must read.

The Nuclear Arms Race Between Pakistan And India

A nuclear-capable missile is displayed during
National Day celebrations in Pakistan — APP photo.

Pakistan Enhances Second Strike N-Capability: US Report --

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has addressed issues of survivability in a possible nuclear conflict through second strike capability, says a US congressional report.

The first part of the report, published on Friday, deals with Islamabad’s efforts to develop new weapons, while the second part studies its strategy for surviving a nuclear war.

According to the report, Pakistan has built hard and deeply buried storage and launch facilities to retain a second strike capability in a nuclear war.

It also has built road-mobile missiles, air defences around strategic sites, and concealment measures.

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More News On The Nuclear Arms Race Between Pakistan And India

Pakistan-India tensions spur nuclear race --
Pak develops second strike capability: US report -- SIfy
Army chief expresses concern over Pak nuke arsenal -- Times Of India
India army chief calls for Pakistan nuclear cap -- Reuters
Pak has 60 nukes & counting... -- Economic Times of India
South Asia nuclear upgrades worry United States -- Daily Times
Pakistan and the Bomb -- Wall Street Journal

Courageous Exploits Of SAS May Never Be Reported

From Times Online:

When the last British combat soldier withdrew from Iraq this week, one of the most fraught campaigns of modern British military history ended.

But for the SAS the story is very different.

As General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, told The Times recently, the exploits of the SAS in Iraq “may stay untold for ever”. But enough details have emerged to provide some insight into what the SAS achieved, and over time their achievements will fill an important chapter in the history of the regiment.

Unlike the Americans, who use the title of “special forces” to embrace thousands of troops, Britain’s version, the SAS and SBS, are relatively few. Efforts to boost numbers have always been resisted to preserve their elite status.

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My Comment: Fellow soldiers and their families will always know .... and that's what counts.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez Is Putting His Military Chiefs Into Jail

President Hugo Chávez, left, in 2004 with Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel, who is now a critic of Mr. Chávez and a prisoner. Juan Barreto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Chávez Seeks Tighter Grip on Military -- New York Times

LOS TEQUES, Venezuela — They say prison life can be lonely, but not for Raúl Isaías Baduel, Venezuela’s former army chief and once one of President Hugo Chávez’s confidants, who was detained last month.

Among his cellmates in the Ramo Verde military prison here are a former admiral, Carlos Millán, and Wilfredo Barroso, a onetime general arrested along with Mr. Millán on charges of conspiring to oust Mr. Chávez.

Since February, Mr. Chávez has moved against a wide range of domestic critics, and his efforts in recent weeks to strengthen his grip on the armed forces have led to high-profile arrests and a wave of reassignments.

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My Comment: Chavez's paranoia is starting to show. Like all dictators, they have trouble accepting dissent .... worse when it comes from military commanders. Expect more Venezuelan officers being arrested over forced out of the country.

Cyber War Games Pit Hackers Vs. Military

U.S. Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command. Wikimedia

From CBS:

Exclusive Look At Air Force Office Tasked With Stopping Criminal, Terrorist And Espionage Computer Threats 24/7.

(CBS) It may not look like a battleground, but behind the walls at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations are the front lines in the booming cyber war against hackers driven to disrupt - even destroy - vital U.S. military networks and investigators intent on protecting them.

"What we want to do is protect the way we do business, protect the Air Force, and protect our country from this kind of harm," Brigadier General Dana Simmons said.

At the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, agents identify and attempt to neutralize criminal, terrorist and espionage computer threats of every kind, reports CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian. They have 11 field offices around the world.

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My Comment: These Air Force agents have a lot of work cut out for them.

Documentary Highlights Success Of Land Warrior System

The US Army exhibited the improved Land Warrior individual soldier combat system on Capitol Hill in Washington. (US Army photo)

From The U.S. Army:

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Army News Service, May 27, 2009) -- "Keep Up the Fire," a new documentary produced by the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, tells the story of the first infantry unit deployed to Iraq with the Land Warrior system.

In 2007, the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, deployed to Iraq to help bring peace to a region paralyzed by war. With them, the battalion brought a vital system called Land Warrior, the most advanced piece of infantry technology ever fielded.

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My Comment: This is my first post on this remarkable piece of technology .... this tech with improved body armor and weaponry is revolutionizing how infantry works.

Aftermath Of The Sri Lankan Civil War -- News Updates For May 30, 2009

Civilians at a refugee camp outside Vavuniya, in northern Sri Lanka. The camps around this town are woefully overcrowded. David Gray/Associated Press

UN Urged To Release Sri Lankan Civilian Death Toll -- AP

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A leading human rights group has asked the United Nations to publicize its estimate of civilian deaths in the final weeks of Sri Lanka's civil war amid escalating reports over how many died.

Amnesty International said in a statement late Friday that it has received "consistent testimony" that both government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels killed thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone and called for an independent international investigation. The group did not say who had testified to the alleged abuses.

The U.N. said earlier that 7,000 civilians were killed and 16,700 wounded from Jan. 20 through May 7. However, these estimates circulated among diplomats were not released publicly.

Amnesty cited an investigation published on Friday in a British newspaper, The Times, which said some 20,000 civilians were killed in the final phase of the war. The report cited unnamed U.N. sources.

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More News On the Aftermath Of The Sri Lankan Civil War

Aid Slowly Reaching Sri Lanka’s War Refugees
-- New York Times
Rights Group Asks UN to Speak Out on Sri Lanka 'Bloodbath' -- Voice of America
Sri Lanka's death toll much higher, groups say -- Toronto Star
Amnesty calls for probe of Sri Lanka civilian deaths -- AFP
Calls mount for Sri Lanka probe -- BBC
Sri Lanka toll 'may never be known' -- Al Jazeera
Sri Lanka Disputes Report of 20,000 Dead -- New York Times
Killing Rajiv was LTTE's biggest mistake: Rajapaksa -- Press Trust of India
Sri Lanka Stirs an Economy Racked by War -- Wall Street Journal

Afghanistan War News Updates -- May 30, 2009

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates talks to soldiers deployed to Field Operating Base Ramrod, Afghanistan, during a recent trip to southwest Asia, May 7, 2009. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison

56 Die In Afghan Violence; Bomb Targets Afghan Gov -- Yahoo News/AP

KABUL – A battle in a militant-controlled region of western Afghanistan killed 30 insurgents and nine Afghan soldiers, while a roadside bomb in the country's north wounded an Afghan governor, officials said Saturday.

Violence elsewhere in the country killed 17 others, part of a spate of attacks that killed 56 people over all.

The battle in Badghis province began Friday and continued into Saturday. Afghan troops supported by international forces killed 30 militants in the Bala Murghab district, a region where the Afghan government has little control. Nine Afghan soldiers died in the battle, and four "disappeared," the Ministry of Defense said. The ministry did not elaborate.

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More News On The Afghan War

34 insurgents killed in eastern Afghanistan -- AP
Four killed, Afghan governor wounded in blasts -- Yahoo News/AFP
Militants Killed, Governor Wounded in Afghan Violence -- Voice of America
6 Afghan Troops, 18 Taliban Killed In Battle -Official -- Wall Street Journal
FACTBOX-Security developments in Afghanistan, May 30 -- Reuters
SAS take on Taleban in Afghanistan after defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq -- Times Online
Constant mistaken killings tarnishing future of U.S.-led int'l troops in Afghanistan -- China View
U.S.: Taliban 'very clearly' target of raid -- Washington Times
Petraeus: Video Shows Air Strikes Aimed at Taliban Targets -- U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. seeks pact on joint probes of Afghan deaths -- Stars And Stripes
DEFENCE officials have cleared Australian troops of killing Afghan civilians -- The Australian
NATO moves to counter Taliban propaganda machine --
Author Claims Taliban Funds South Asia Fighting with Poppy Cultivation -- Voice of America
U.S. urges more foreign aid for Afghanistan -- Washington Post
US urges Europe, China to step up Afghan help -- AP
Afghan women fight on -- Philadelphia Inquirer
US military deaths in Afghanistan region at 618 -- AP

Azerbaijan Seen As New Front In Mideast Conflict

(Click the Map to Enlarge: Image from Global Security)

From The L.A. Times:

Officials say they foiled a plot by Hezbollah and Iran to bomb the Israeli Embassy in revenge for the 2008 slaying of Imad Mughniyah. Anti-terrorism officials fear a new militant hub.

Reporting from Paris -- It happened in Baku, transforming the capital of Azerbaijan into a battleground in a global shadow war.

Police intercepted a fleeing car and captured two suspected Hezbollah militants from Lebanon. The car contained explosives, binoculars, cameras, pistols with silencers and reconnaissance photos. Raiding alleged safe houses, police foiled what authorities say was a plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic that borders Iran.

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My Comment: Azerbaijan is important to Iran .... but Iran cannot get directly involved in this "new front". Enter Hezbollah .... Iran's front man for black ops.

The Crisis On The Korean Peninsula -- News Updates For May 30, 2009

South Korean soldiers on a drill Friday in the border town of Paju. North Korea warned this week of possible military action after the South said it is joining a U.S.-led initiative to stop trade in weapons of mass destruction. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

U.S. Warns North Korea Against Nuclear Activity -- Wall Street Journal

Defense Secretary's Tough Talk, Following Another Missile Test, Signals Washington May Be Rethinking Pyongyang Policy

SINGAPORE -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued North Korea the sternest warning from Washington since Monday's test of a nuclear weapon, saying the U.S. "will not stand idly by" as Pyongyang develops nuclear and missile technologies that could threaten America and its allies in the region.

The warning came in a Saturday-morning address Mr. Gates delivered to an annual gathering of Asian defense officials here. "President Obama has offered an open hand to tyrannies that unclench their fists; he is hopeful but he is not naive," Mr. Gates said. "North Korea's latest reply to our overtures isn't exactly something we would characterize as helpful or constructive."

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More News On The Crisis On the Korean Peninsula

Gates draws the line on North Korea's nuclear program: No proliferation -- L.A. Times
Gates: Tougher sanctions against NKorea needed -- Yahoo News/AP
North Korea Is Warned by Gates on Testing -- New York Times
Official: New signs of NKorea missile preparations -- AP
US warns N.Korea amid reports of rocket test -- AFP
Official: Signs NKorea prepping long-range missile -- Yahoo News/AP
N. Korea seen preparing for new ICBM test -- UPI
Officials: NKorea may plan long-range missile test -- Breitbart/AP
North Korea 'may' launch new long-range missiles -- Press TV
N. Korea Fires Sixth Missile in a Week -- Washington Post
North Korea's next move: long-range missile tests? -- Christian Science Monitor
N.Korea fires short-range missile; may take more action -- Alertnet
U.S. ‘Likely’ Could Intercept North Korean Missile -- Bloomberg
UK military aid Korean nuclear investigation -- Times Online
U.S., Japan, S Korea reaffirm position on DPRK's nuclear issue -- China View
Analysis: NKorea nuke test won't break China ties -- Yahoo News/AP
Nuclear N.Korea won't change Japan defense: minister -- Reuters
A military answer to North Korea? Not likely. -- Christian Science Monitor
North Korea and Diplomacy -- Wall Street Journal opinion
Loose cannon gives Obama a lesson -- The Australian opinion