Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mass Grave Of First World War Soldiers Found And Reburied With Honors

A coffin bearing the remains of an unknown soldier is carried to its final resting place Saturday in Fromelles, France. Photo from CNN

First World War Soldiers Reburied In Special Service At Fromelles -- Times Online

The first of 250 unknown British and Australian soldiers who died during a First World War battle was reburied at a service in France today.

The soldiers, who were killed in the 1916 Battle of Fromelles, are being interred with full military honours at new a cemetery near the site.

They were buried in six mass graves by German soldiers shortly after the battle and not discovered until 2008.

Read more ....

More On Yesterday's World War I Burial

WWI soldiers who died at Fromelles are reburied (Video) -- BBC
First soldier from forgotten First World War battle laid to rest in cemetery in France -- The Telegraph
Unknown WWI soldier buried as mass graves give up secrets -- CNN
WWI soldiers reburied in France -- Euronews
Burial at last for 250 unknown soldiers -- The Independent
WWI dead from mass grave laid to rest in France -- AFP
France Reburies Soldiers Who Died in WWI -- FOX News/AP
Fromelles Scots soldiers to be reburied -- BBC

Al Qaeda's Philosophy Still Has Great Support In The Muslim World

Khaled al-Bawardi is an alumnus of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for
Counselling and Care outside Riyadh

Recruits Seek Out Al-Qaeda's Deadly Embrace Across a Growing arc Of Jihadist Terror -- The Telegraph

Just two years ago al-Qaeda was believed to be on the back foot. Now the jihadist group is attracting ever more recruits across a growing arc of terror.

Bored, depressed and stuck in a dead-end job, Khaled al-Bawardi. spent just a few hours watching jihadi videos to convince himself that he wanted to fight for militant Islam.

It took another six years in Guantanamo Bay, plus a year in religious rehab in Saudi Arabia, to realise there might be better career options.

Read more ....

My Comment: Another sobering analysis and observation that Al Qaeda is gaining more recruits and supporters .... even though for the past year US President Obama has been making a direct appeal to the Muslim world for cooperation and peace.

I guess the people that should be listening to President Obama are not .... and the only people who are listening to him are more likely his base of support back home or his allies abroad.

Ralph Peters Fears For The Future When He Looks At The Middle East

Click Above Image to Enlarge
Middle East Conflict Map From 2006 (Image From The New York Times)

Nightmare In The Middle East -- Ralph Peters, New York Post

Strategic analyst RALPH PETERS handicaps the region that threatens Obama — and the world — in a volatile year

Whatever planet Earth may find in short supply in 2010, violence and misrule will remain abundant, from the most-recent round of Muslim-vs.-Christian massacres in Nigeria to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez's delight in unleashing his thugs on students marching for freedom.

Read more ....

My Comment: A friend of mine sent me an email with Ralph Peters' commentary and a quip that he finally found someone who was more pessimistic than I was when it comes to the Middle East.

Cough .... cough .... , but ignoring Peters' anti-Obama rhetoric, I am in agreement with much of what he says. This is a must read .... even for those who do not agree with Mr. Peters point of view most of the time.

On a side note, Ralph Peters forgot to mention the Palestinians .... but then again .... most people in the Middle East have already forgotten about them.

Trying To Save The Northern Ireland Peace Process

Security guards outside the Stormont parliament building in Belfast. Photo AFP

'Second Chance' For Northern Ireland Devolution Hangs In Balance -- Belfast Telegraph

The promise of a ‘second chance’ for Stormont hangs in the balance today as the parties attempt to finalise a deal and complete devolution.

After the most intense negotiations in their history, the DUP and Sinn Fein appear close to agreement which, with the transfer of control over policing, prisons and the courts, will finish the constitutional jigsaw started with the Good Friday Agreement 12 years ago.

Read more ....

More News On Northern Ireland's Efforts To Save The Peace Process

Northern Ireland: hopes high for deal to save power-sharing assembly -- The Telegraph
High hopes of deal as North talks continue -- Irish Times
McGuinness hopeful on N. Ireland policing deal -- AFP
Policing and justice talks progress made - McGuinness -- BBC
'Advancement' on NI talks, says DUP -- BBC
'Gap narrows' between DUP and Sinn Féin on sixth day of talks -- The Guardian

My Comment: They will reach an agreement in the next few days. The reason why is simple .... they have no choice. With the exception of a few Catholic/Protestant extremists .... no one really wants to go back to the days of "The Troubles".

AU Summit Begins IN The Ethiopian Capital Of Addis Ab

African Summit Hears World Ignoring Somalia Crisis -- Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The worsening crisis in Somalia is as big a threat to global security as Afghanistan but is being ignored by the world, delegates told an African Union summit on Sunday.

Somalia's U.N.-backed transitional government is fighting an Islamist insurgency and has been hemmed into a few streets of the capital Mogadishu.

An African Union (AU) peacekeeping force of 5,000, provided by Burundi and Uganda, is struggling to hold back the rebels. The AU has repeatedly asked for U.N. peacekeepers to bolster its efforts but has only been given funding.

Read more ....

More News on The AU Summit

African Union summit starts with dispute over leader -- AFP
Malawi's president elected African Union leader -- Washington Post
Gaddafi loses role as head of African Union -- Financial Times
Gadhafi Blasts AU as He Steps Down as Chairman -- Voice of America
African Union relief at Kadhafi exit -- AFP

AU kicks off 14th summit with theme on ICT development -- People's Daily
African heads meet to discuss regional conflicts, climate change -- CCTV
African leaders arrive in Ethiopia for AU summit -- Afrique En Ligne
AU summit opens in Ethiopian capital with several African leaders in attendance -- Ethiopian Journal
14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union opens in Addis Ababa -- Ethiopian news Agency
Zimbabwe elected to Africa's Peace and Security Council -- afrique en Ligne
Ghana dissatisfied with dictatorial leadership in Africa -- Ghana Web
Ban commits UN to harnessing support for African development needs -- UN News Centre
UN chief calls for Sudan unity ahead of African summit -- AFP
Libya Renews Call for United States of Africa -- Voice of America
Backgrounder: Previous summits of the African Union (AU) -- CCTV
Africa to hit 4.3% growth in 2010: report -- AFP

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- January 31, 2010

FALLEN COMRADES - U.S. Army soldiers of hold a memorial service on Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Miss., Jan. 28, 2010, to honor 14 fallen comrades who gave their lives while serving in Iraq in 2004 to 2005. The ceremony included the unveiling of a granite monument to the fallen heroes of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard. U.S.Army Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

Playing With Fire In Iraq -- Joost Hiltermann, The National

Iraq’s already fragile political order has been thrust into further turmoil in the past three weeks over an attempt to bar 511 candidates, several of them prominent political figures, from legislative elections in March for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. The decision, taken by Iraq’s Accountability and Justice Commission, has the potential to ignite a new civil war and precipitate the collapse of the post-2003 order.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Why is it Important to Talk to the Taliban? -- Major Ali Iqbal, Small Wars journal

Kabul's Western allies want to pay Taliban fighters to quit the insurgency. Lots of luck. -- Rom Moreau, Newsweek

Afghanistan's corruption poses dilemma for U.S. military -- Joshua Partlow, Washington Post

To Rebuild Haiti, Start Young -- R. Muggah & R. Maguire, L.A. Times

Axelrod: "We Have Not Lost Anything" by Giving Abdulmutallab Miranda Rights -- Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard

China's growing arrogance -- Blake Hounshell, Foreign Policy

Battling the Information Barbarians -- Ian Buruma

What lies in store for Antarctica, the world’s last repository? -- Ilya Kramnik, The Hindu

Global warming science implodes overseas: American media silent -- Rick Moran, American Thinker

US Watchdog: Catastrophic Financial Meltdown Looms

Photo: Neil Barofsky. special inspector general overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Photo from Top News

Watchdog: Bank Bailouts Created More Risk in System --

The problems that led to the last financial crisis have not yet been addressed, and in some cases have grown worse, says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the trouble asset relief program, or TARP. The quarterly report to Congress was released Sunday.

The government's bailout of financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" has created a risk that the United States could face a worse fiscal meltdown in the future, an independent watchdog assigned to review the program told Congress on Sunday.

The Troubled Assets Relief Program, known as TARP, has not addressed the problems that led to the last crisis and in some case those problems have festered and are a bigger threat than before, warned Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general at the Treasury Department.

Read more ....

Update: Swiss warn UBS bank could collapse -- Breitbart/AFP

My Comment: The headline caught my attention ... I am also sure that it also caught yours. Gotta love FOX news to put up the most attention grabbing headlines possible.

On a more serious note, there is some legitimacy to be concerned. I sometimes feel that we are sleepwalking to a precipice, and the bottom is just about to drop. But no one wants to look at the reality of the situation, which is that we are highly leveraged and deep in debt but unwilling .... or unable .... to confront the crisis at hand.

Hence we talk about unemployment, health care reform, cap and trade, global warming .... all important issues .... but the 800 lb guerrilla in the room that represents our debts and future obligations is ignored.

The Fascinating And Mysterious Death Of A Hamas Commander

Photo: Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. (Reuters)

Israel: Slain Hamas Commander Was Top Weapons Smuggler -- Voice of America

The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai prompts threats from Hamas, increases tension between Israel and the Palestinians and could hamper efforts to free a captive Israeli soldier.

Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas are trading accusations and threats after the killing of a top Hamas commander in the United Arab Emirates.

Israeli officials say a Hamas commander who was found dead in the Persian Gulf city state of Dubai played a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. But officials stopped short of confirming Hamas allegations that Israel's Mossad spy agency assassinated the commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Read more ....

More News On the Death Of Hamas Commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Israel: Hamas commander killed in Dubai was key arms smuggler -- Christian Science Monitor
Israeli says slain Hamas commander was key arms smuggler -- Canadian Press
Dubai police say Mossad may have killed Hamas chief -- AFP
Dubai narrows down 7 European suspects; Report: Assassins injected Mabhouh with heart attack drug. -- Haaretz
Report: Mabhouh's bodyguards couldn't get plane tickets -- Ynet News
Report: Al-Mabhouh was without security guards when assassinated -- Ynet News
Hamas: Mabhouh killers traveled to UAE with Israeli minister -- The Majlis
Landau denies link to Hamas man's death -- Jerusalem Post
Long history of Israel's 'covert killing' -- BBC News

9/11 Trial News Updates -- January 31, 2010

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Reuters)

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Likely To Be 'Executed' If Convicted, Says White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs -- New York Daily News

Where he gets tried is still up for debate, but the White House thinks it knows what will happen when alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is convicted.

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he’s going to meet his maker," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told John King on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning.

"He's likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed," he added.

Read more ....

More News On The Impending 9/11 Trials

Obama aide: Alleged 9/11 mastermind 'going to meet his maker' -- CNN
Gibbs Hedges On Whether KSM Will Get Civilian Or Military Trial -- Huffington Post
Obama Seeks $200M for Terror Trials -- CBS News
Trials costing $200m-a-year threaten to strip New York of 9/11 terror cases -- The Daily Mail
Site for Terror Trial Isn’t Only Obstacle -- New York Times
White House to rethink venue for 9/11 trial -- Financial Times
White House holds out hope for 9/11 trial in New York -- AFP
Obama’s NYC terror trial switch: Pragmatism or indecisiveness? -- Christian Science Monitor
US to consider local views on 9/11 trial location -- Washington Post
U.S. to consider local opposition on Sept. 11 trial site -- Canadian Press
Obama to Weigh Objections to Holding Terror Trial in New York -- Bloomberg
Obama admnistration takes several wrong paths in dealing with terrorism -- Michael Hayden, Washington Post
In New York, Mix of Emotions Over 9/11 Trial Move -- New York Times
Plan for NYC 9/11 Trial All But Dead, Sources Say -- ABC News
Lower Manhattan residents, business owners relieved 9/11 trial won't be hosted there -- New York Daily News
Bay what? Guantanamo eyed for 9/11 trial -- New York Post
The High Cost of Misunderstanding Terrorism -- Power Line, opinion
Obama’s Indecision in War on Terrorism is Dangerous -- Peter Roff, US News And World Report

US Rushes Missile Defense Systems To The Middle East

Gen. David H. Petraeus said this month that Patriot missile batteries were deployed in Gulf countries. The systems will likely mean more U.S. troops in the region. Photo from The L.A. Times

U.S. Beefs Up Missile Defenses in Gulf -- CBS News/AP

Protection Upgraded for Allies Against Potential Iranian Strikes

As the Obama administration edges toward imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, it has begun upgrading its approach to defending its Persian Gulf allies against potential Iranian missile strikes, officials said Saturday.

The United States has quietly increased the capability of land-based Patriot defensive missiles in several Gulf Arab nations, and one military official said the Navy is beefing up the presence of ships capable of knocking down hostile missiles in flight.

Read more ....

More News On The Buildup Of US Missile Boats In The Persian Gulf

US boosts missile presence in Gulf as warning to Iran -- The Guardian
U.S. expanding missile defenses in Persian Gulf -- Reuters
U.S. beefs up defenses near Iran -- L.A. Times
Gulf countries accept air defences -- The Australian
U.S. Upgrading Approach to Defending Persian Gulf Allies -- FOX News/AP
U.S. Speeding Up Missile Defenses in Persian Gulf -- New York Times
US speeds up its own and Gulf allies' preparations for clash with Iran -- Debka Files

Disaster In Haiti -- News Updates January 31, 2010

US Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 prepare to load an injured Haitian man onto an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter in Grand Goave, Haiti, Jan. 25, 2010. Photo: US Navy

Desperation Grows In Haiti, Officials Worry About Santitation As Well As Food, Water, Shelter -- Canadian Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A lack of sanitation threatens to create killer diseases in the vast refugee camps where hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors have crammed in together, relief officials said Saturday, as the need for latrines increasingly joined food and water and shelter as major concerns.

Just one portable toilet serves about 2,000 people in a sprawling camp across from the collapsed National Palace, forcing most to use a gutter next to where vendors cook food and mothers struggle to bathe their children.

Read more ....

More News On The Disaster In Haiti

Haiti Earthquake (Full Coverage) -- Yahoo News
Latest Updates on the Crisis in Haiti -- The Lede/New York Times
Full Coverage from CBS News -- CBS News
Haiti Earthquake (Full Coverage) -- BBC
Haiti earthquake: News updates -- CNN
Haiti earthquake updates -- The Telegraph
Live: Haiti earthquake - latest updates -- Times Online
Haiti Updates -- The Guardian
Haiti – All coverage -- Christian Science Monitor

Massive food distribution to begin Sunday in Port-au-Prince -- CNN
UN begins major Haiti food distribution programme -- BBC
Women-only food sites open in Haiti -- CBC
Relief workers in Haiti hand out 'women only' aid coupons in new distribution strategy -- Canadian Press
UN sets up women-only food aid in Haiti -- The Independent
U.N. to set up 16 food distribution sites in quake-devastated Port-au-Prince - -Washington Post
Food Distribution Retooled; Americans Arrested -- New York Times

U.S. Airlifts of Haitian Earthquake Victims on Hold Over Logistics -- ABC News
Money spat didn't stall Haiti evacuations: US -- ABC News (Australia)
U.S. suspends Haitian medical flights as Florida hospitals run short of capacity -- Washington Post
U.S. Halts Haiti Airlift Over Cost Dispute -- CBS News
US Military Suspends Medical Evacuations from Haiti -- Voice of America
U.S. Military Suspends Evacuations of Haitian Quake Victims -- Wall Street Journal
Haiti quake victims stranded as U.S. medical airlift stalls -- McClatchy News

Haiti: Americans Improperly Took Children -- CBS News
Haiti arrests US nationals over child 'abductions' -- BBC
Americans arrested taking children out of Haiti -- Reuters
Haiti Officials Arrest 10 U.S. Baptists for 'Rescuing' Orphans -- Christian Post

Military official: U.S. hospital ship in Haiti near capacity -- CNN
More deaths feared when foreign medics leave Haiti -- Reuters
Haitians in makeshift camps organize 'platoons' to provide services -- Christian Science Monitor
WHO: Risk of Epidemics in Haiti Increasing -- Voice of America
Haiti Is Again a Canvas for Approaches to Aid -- New York Times
US Military Center Assesses Haitian Needs -- Voice of America
Quake has rendered Haiti's government powerless -- Globe And Mail
Money slowly trickling into Port-au-Prince, Haiti as banks and wire transfer offices begin to reopen -- New York Daily News
In Haiti, body hunters seek to unite the living with the dead -- McClatchy News
Haiti’s earthquake survivors turn to cockfighting to raise spirits -- Times Online
Haitian Earthquake Victim's Sketches Show Disaster, Relief -- Voice of America

Blowback From China On US Military Sales To Taiwan Continues

A handout photograph released on January 30, 2010 shows M60A3 tanks during an exercise in Taiwan on November 7, 2009. REUTERS/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

Beijing Says US Arms Sale to Taiwan Harms China's National Security -- Voice of America

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister summons U.S. Ambassador in Beijing Saturday to lodge a protest.

China's foreign minister says U.S. plans to sell weapons to Taiwan harm China's national security and its reunification efforts.

In remarks reported Sunday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Cyprus Saturday that China firmly opposes the move, which he said runs counter to the U.S. commitment to support the peaceful growth of cross-Strait relations.

A U.S. State Department spokesman (P.J. Crowley) said Saturday that U.S. policy toward Taiwan contributes to stability and security in the region.

U.S. officials announced Friday plans to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion in military equipment.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. - China Disagreements On Military Sales To Taiwan

China retaliates over US arms deal with Taiwan -- Sydney Morning Herald
China Says U.S. Arms Sales To Taiwan Hurt National Security -- Radio Free Europe
China threatens sanctions over arms sale to Taiwan -- L.A. Times
China threatens sanctions over U.S. arms deal -- CNN
China responds angrily to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan -- McClatchy News
U.S. assessing sale of fighters, subs to Taiwan -- China post
China Angry Over U.S. Arms Supply To Taiwan -- RTT News
China responds angrily to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan -- McClatchy News
U.S. Deal With Taiwan Has China Retaliating -- New York Times
China threatens US arms companies -- Financial Times
China fumes at US arms sale to Taiwan -- The Guardian
US defends $6.4bn weapons sale to Taiwan -- BBC
US expresses 'regret' at China suspending military exchanges -- AFP
US defends $6.4bn Taiwan arms deal as China threatens sanctions -- Times Online
SCENARIOS-How could China hit back at U.S. arms sales to Taiwan? -- Reuters
China's strident tone raises concerns among Western governments, analysts -- Washington Post
FACTBOX - How China and Taiwan square off militarily -- Reuters

North Korean Arms Shipment Headed To Iran: UN Report

Photo: GROUNDED: From left, IIyas Issakov, 56, Alexandr Zrybnev, 53, both from Kazakhstan, Mikhail Petukhou, 54, from Belarus, Viktor Abdukkayev, 58, Vitaliy Shumkov, 54, both also from Kazakhstan. Photo: Sarot Meksophawannakul

Seized North Korea Arms Were Bound For Iran: Thailand -- Reuters

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A shipment of weapons from North Korea seized by Thai authorities last month were headed for Iran, according to a confidential report the Thai government sent to a U.N. Security Council committee.

Thai authorities seized more than 35 tons of arms from a cargo plane they said had come from North Korea, and arrested its five crew members after the aircraft made an emergency landing at a Bangkok airport in December.

The report to the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee, seen by Reuters on Saturday, said the shipment included rockets, fuses, rocket launchers and rocket-propelled grenades.

Read more ....

More News On This Arms Shipment To Iran

North Korean Arms Were Headed to Iran, Thailand Report Says -- Business Week
Thai prosecutors defer decision on arms cargo plane crew -- RIA Novosti
Decision on arms plane crew deferred -- Bangkok Post
Dogs of war or players in a political game? -- Bangkok Post

Yemen Civil War News Updates -- January 31, 2010

Yemen Rejects Cease-Fire Offer -- Wall Street Journal/AP

SAN'A, Yemen--Yemen's government on Sunday rejected a cease-fire offer from the country's northern rebels and issued a fresh demand calling on the militants to pledged not to attack neighboring Saudi Arabia.

After more than five years of sporadic fighting with the rebels, Yemen has come under international pressure to quickly end the conflict to free up resources to confront a separate threat from an al Qaeda offshoot that has set up operations there over the past year.

Read more ....

More News On Yemen

Yemen says war will stop if rebels agree six terms -- Yahoo News/AFP
Yemen clashes continue, ceasefire offer rejected -- Reuters
Fighting Breaks Out Despite Cease-fire Offer Between Yemenis, Shi'ites -- Voice of America
Yemeni army: “rebels killed in clashes” -- Radio Netherlands
Yemen says 24 rebels killed in Saada clashes -- Xinhuanet
Yemen rejects truce offer as Saudi forces clash with Shiite rebels -- Al Bawaba
Yemen to stop military operation if rebels accept six conditions -- Xinhuanet
Yemen says war will stop if rebels agree six terms -- AFP
Yemen counters rebels' offer with own preconditions -- CNN
Ceasefire accepted if six point condition implemented -- Yemen Observer
Confusion over Yemen ceasefire deal -- Euronews

Is Pakistan's Taliban Leader Dead?

Pakistani Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud. Pakistan's military is trying to confirm reports that he has been killed. Photograph: A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan Army Investigates Report Mehsud is Dead, Taliban Denies Report -- Voice of America

A TV report says Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a U.S. drone missile strike in mid-January.

The Pakistani army said Sunday it is investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a U.S. drone missile strike in mid-January.

The army's announcement followed a report on Pakistani state television that Mehsud had died and has been buried.

Conflicting reports about the militant leader's death first surfaced after the January bombing in northwest Pakistan that killed at least a dozen militants.

Read more ....

More News On Pakistani Taliban Leader Hakimullah Mehsud

Reports of Pakistani Taliban leader's death are premature
-- Long War Journal
Pakistan checks reported death of Taliban chief -- Yahoo News/AP
Pakistan Investigates Reports of Taliban Leader's Death -- Wall Street Journal
Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud dead, says state television -- The Guardian
Taliban chief 'killed' in Pakistan -- Press Association
Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of Pakistani Taleban, reported killed in drone attack -- Times Online
Pakistani Taliban leader 'dead' -- Al Jazeera
Profile: Hakimullah Mehsud -- Al Jazeera

Afghanistan War News Updates -- January 31, 2010

Analysts and officials are warning the deaths of 44 foreign soldiers in January
is a sign of things to come. Photo AFP

January Death Rate Signal Of Tough Year In Afghan War -- AFP

KABUL — The Afghan war has notched up another grisly record, with the number of international troops to die in the fight against the Taliban the highest for the month of January since the war began.

With tens of thousands more international troops being deployed to Afghanistan this year, analysts and officials are warning the deaths of 44 foreign soldiers in January is a sign of things to come.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Four Afghan Soldiers Killed in NATO Air Strike -- Voice of America
NATO airstrike kills 4 Afghan troops -- L.A. Times
4 Afghan Soldiers Are Killed by a Mistaken Airstrike -- New York Times
4 Afghan troops killed in friendly fire incident -- Washington Post
NATO troops clash with Afghan allies -- Reuters
Interpreter kills 2 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan -- Reuters
Afghan interpreter shoots dead two US soldiers -- BBC
Afghan troops battle Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan; 6 militants killed -- Today Online
Troops detain Taliban commander in S. Afghanistan -- Xinhuanet
Afghan cleric killed by Western troops; NATO apologizes -- L.A. Times
Canadian general plans offensive against Taliban -- CTV
AP Interview: Months ahead key to Afghan fight -- Washington Post

Few see reason to take rumors of Taliban talks seriously -- McClatchy News
Karzai renews call for Taliban to reconcile -- AFP
Karzai urges Taliban talks before U.S. pullout -- Reuters
Afghan leader appeals to Taliban to lay down guns -- Yahoo News/AP
Hamid Karzai fails Taliban who gave up arms -- Times Online
In Afghanistan: fighting over the terms of a settlement -- Reuters
Afghan Taliban deny meeting with UN -- Yahoo News/AP

A Look at America’s New Hope: The Afghan Tribes -- New York Times
New U.S. air strategy in Afghanistan: First, do no harm -- McClatchy News
Marine assault vehicles key to Afghan strategy -- L.A. Times
US Marines fight a 'different war' in Afghanistan -- AFP
Marines Invest in Local Afghan Projects -- New York Times
Afghanistan: Making Counterinsurgency Work -- ABC News
Afghan 'geological reserves worth a trillion dollars' -- Yahoo News/AFP
Afghanistan: Armed And Ready To Rumble -- Strategy Page

World News Briefs -- January 31, 2010

Beijing Says US Arms Sale To Taiwan Harms China's National Security

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister summons U.S. Ambassador in Beijing Saturday to lodge a protest

China's foreign minister says U.S. plans to sell weapons to Taiwan harm China's national security and its reunification efforts.

In remarks reported Sunday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Cyprus Saturday that China firmly opposes the move, which he said runs counter to the U.S. commitment to support the peaceful growth of cross-Strait relations.

Read more ....


US upgrades defense of Persian Gulf allies.

Iranian opposition leaders reported to call for more protests on February 11.

U.S. beefs up defenses near Iran.

Yemen rejects cease-fire offer. More news here.

Israel: Slain Hamas figure smuggled arms from Iran.


Pakistan checks reported death of Taliban chief. Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud dead, says state television.

Thousands protest in Tokyo against U.S. military presence in Japan.

Karzai appeals to Taliban to put down weapons. Karzai fails Taliban who surrendered arms.

Afghan 'geological reserves worth a trillion dollars'.


Nigerian oil militants declare resumption of hostilities.

Report: Russia to sell Libya weapons in $1.8 billion deal.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe closes in on last white farmers.

Africa's continental divide: land disputes.

Ban slams Africa power-grabs as Kadhafi steps aside.


Greece and EU close ranks, say no bailout.

Northern Ireland power-sharing talks go on.

Dagestan: Political uncertainty grips a Russian Republic.


Americans arrested taking children out of Haiti. A glance at Haiti developments 18 days after quake.

Brazil's Lula 'in perfect health' after hospital tests.

Mexican police find headless bodies in border city.

Body of lottery winner found buried in Florida.


In New York, mix of emotions over 9/11 trial move.

No sanctions for Bush lawyers who approved waterboarding.


Davos forum considers world economy on last day.

Brazil suggests summit to push for WTO Doha deal.

Toyota recall update: dealers face full lots, anxious customers.

Eurozone unemployment rate hits 10%.

A New Job For The Pentagon?

Asteroid Defense Let's not keep the proposals too long in committee, yeah? NASA/Don Davis

U.S. Scientists Call For The Creation Of An International Asteroid Defense Agency -- Popular Science

Russia's proposal for an Armageddon-style mission to deflect the space rock Apophis seemed bold, but it's not the only one fretting about a catastrophic impact on Earth. The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) released a new report that calls for an international asteroid defense agency that can organize a proper mission to counter possible asteroid threats, New Scientist reports.

Read more ....

My Comment: If the global warming community can get billions .... why not this agency.

Did Russia Try To Destroy The U.S. Economy?

From Foreign Policy Blog:

Via FP contributor Ashby Monk, here's an interesting story from Bloomberg News that hasn't gotten much attention. It seems that Russia tried to use its vast financial holdings and conspire with China to create "economic disruptions" in the United States in 2008. An astonishing scoop, if true.

The source of the tale is Hank Paulson, the former U.S. Treasury secretary whose memoir, On the Brink, is coming out soon.

Says Bloomberg:

The Russians made a “top-level approach” to the Chinese “that together they might sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the U.S. to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies,” Paulson said, referring to the acronym for government sponsored entities.

Read more ....

My Comment: Quoting Hank Paulson on this issue is like catching a pyromaniac with an empty gas can and matches and asking him if he was the one who started the fire down the street. As much as we may like to look for a boogey man as the main cause for our problems, the truth is that for the US, many of our economic problems can be traced back directly to the steps of Congress and the White House.

The QDR-USAF-DOD Disception

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing. (From Aviation Spectator)

From ELP Defens(c)e Blog:

With the leak (?) of a weak “final” draft (PDF) on the quadrennial defense review (QDR), the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Department of Defense (DOD) have a big problem with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

That problem extends to the cancellation of the F-22.

The graphic below from the QDR draft shows that it disagrees with not only the USAF road map for the F-35 but also Mr. Gates unjustified cancellation of the F-22. Gates decision to cancel the F-22 was never based on sound evidence.

Read more ....

My Comment: A spot on analysis from ELP Defens(c)e Blog.

On a side note, one of my better contacts in the Canadian Ministry of Defense has hinted to me that even though Canada is a partner in the JSF program, it may backtrack on their commitment to buy a certain number of F-35s (60 to 65), and focus more on the Super Hornets.
Hmmm .... one more nail into the F-35 program.

Chinese Spy Rings Target Britain

From Times Online:

THE security service MI5 has accused China of bugging and burgling UK business executives and setting up “honeytraps” in a bid to blackmail them into betraying sensitive commercial secrets.

A leaked MI5 document says that undercover intelligence officers from the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security have also approached UK businessmen at trade fairs and exhibitions with the offer of “gifts” and “lavish hospitality”.

The gifts — cameras and memory sticks — have been found to contain electronic Trojan bugs which provide the Chinese with remote access to users’ computers.

Read more ....

My Comment: I would not be surprised if the tactics used by China in the U.K. are being duplicated by China in many other countries around the world.

To Solve Cyber Crimes, DARPA Wants A "Cyber Genome Program"

The U.S. Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command The U.S. military and intelligence arms are already defending the nation from cyber attacks. DARPA hopes to give them another tool.

From Popular Science:

Digital times mean digital crimes. But catching and convicting criminals, or even nations, that dabble in digital espionage, cyber attacks, and cyber terrorism is no easy task. Google – and the U.S. State Department – recently pointed the finger at China for a string of sophisticated cyber attacks on U.S. companies, but proving guilt in the matter will be tricky. Then there are the buckets of data that intelligence agencies pull from captured laptops and hard drives in terror sweeps; we have the files, but it can be difficult to figure out who’s aiding America’s enemies or what they are up to. Enter DARPA’s Cyber Genome Program, aimed at creating a paternity test for digital artifacts.

Read more ....

My Comment: A cyber fingerprint .... hmmmm ....

China's Anti-Missile Defense Program -- An Analysis and Commentary

China's latest missiles on show last October. China says it has successfully tested missile interceptor technology. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

China’s Alarming, Puzzling, Missile Test -- David Axe, The Diplomat Magazine

On January 11, a large missile streaked upward from a test site in China. The missile rocketed beyond the atmosphere and struck another similar missile launched from a separate site. Later that day, the official Xinhua news agency announced a ‘test on ground-based midcourse missile interception technology.’

‘The test has achieved the expected objective,’ Xinhua proclaimed. ‘The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country.’

Read more ....

My Comment: David Axe brings up a number of points that I have been thinking about for a long time .... what are China's long term strategic interests and goals.

Probably the answer to that question was given to me when I first visited (and lived) in China in 1988. I was part of a joint Canadian-Chinese consortium of businessmen who were looking to developing investment and trade. But since all of our Chinese partners were also the political leadership of their provinces/federal government, I was privy to a lot of interesting discussions on China's long term goals.

In a nutshell .... this is what was told to me. China's 22nd century goal is to have a population of 600 million people who all have the same benefits of technology, business/economy, infrastructure, education, legal/political structure, and a military capability that we take for granted in Japan or in the West.

If we assume that this is the long term strategic goal, this Chinese missile test then makes perfect sense. It is not what this technology can do now that should impress us .... it is what continuous development and research in this technology will bring 25, 50, or 100 years from now that should concern us.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my Chinese, Korean, and Japanese friends .... it is that whenever Asia focused on short term gains and goals, failure and tragedy was always the result. But when the focused was on long term goals and objectives, Asia always succeeded and persevered.

Trust me on this .... Asian countries like China are looking at the world from a 25 to 100 year time span.

Is Russia Becoming A Third World Country?

A Time And A Place For Russia -- Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, New York Times

For Russia, the past decade started out on an optimistic note. The country was emerging from a severe financial crisis and the political upheavals of the ’90s. Industry and agriculture were rapidly recovering and the financial system had been rescued and strengthened. Business attracted millions of people to apply their efforts and talents. The institutions of state had begun to work more reliably and the structures of a real civil society had begun to form.

Read more

My Comment: When Gorbachev change the law to permit easy travel in/and out from Russia, I was one of the first to take advantage of this openness to visit my relatives. On a number of my trips .... and because a number of my relatives had contacts within the government (and were in government) .... I was offered numerous business opportunities to invest in Russia.

I did not take any of them. Many of the deals were too good to be true. Prime real estate at pennies on the dollar. Investments in the resource sector were even cheaper. Factories and engineering firms that employed thousands could be bought for a small bribe. Everything and anything could be bought cheap and quickly.

The reason why they were so many opportunities was because the bureaucrats and managers who Ok's these sales (and accepted the bribes) always felt confident that in the end the state would take over these interests (again), and kick out these speculators. Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky was one of these speculators/pirates .... buying huge swaths of Russia's oil industries at unbelievably low prices.

But surprise .... surprise .... in the beginning the state did not move to stop these privatizations .... privatizations that were corrupt in every way. It took President Putin and the power of the state to finally bust up these oligarchs .... and to put people like Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky in jail ... where he does belong.

So back to the question .... Is Russia becoming a third world state? Absolutely not. Is Russia having problems .... absolutely yes. But these problems are puny in comparison to what Russia has gone through in the past few centuries .... a state of affairs that I can assure you that many Russians prefer than the world that Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky prefers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Can The ICC Charge President Obama For Launching "Illegal Wars" In Afghanistan And Elsewhere?

International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. Photo from Radio Free Europe.

International Criminal Court Proposes Powers To Try Politicians Who Wage 'Illegal Wars' -- The Telegraph

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is proposing to take new powers to put politicians who launch "illegal wars" on trial.

At a special "review conference" in Kampala, Uganda, the nations which have signed up to the court, including Britain, will consider a proposal to let the court try the "crime of aggression" - the offence allegedly committed by Tony Blair.

If the proposal, backed by more than 70 countries, passes, national leaders alleged to have launched "illegal" wars could be seized, transported to the Hague, tried and imprisoned.

Read more ....

My Comment: It is bad enough that we have US Justices trying to interpret US law on US foreign policy .... imagine having liberal justices in Europe deciding on what US foreign policy should be. President Bush was right to not sign into this legal train wreck, and I expect President Obama to do the same.

U.S. Speeding Up Missile Defenses In Persian Gulf

Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait have accepted American Patriot missiles, military officials said. The New York Times

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.

The deployments come at a critical turning point in President Obama’s dealings with Iran. After months of unsuccessful diplomatic outreach, the administration is trying to win broad international consensus for sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Western nations say control a covert nuclear arms program.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Arab sheikdoms have read the riot act on their concerns when it comes to Iran .... and the White House/Congress/Pentagon are now responding in kind.

But what struck me was the following sentence ....

Gulf countries are also taking steps of their own to harden their defenses. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bought more than $15 billion in American arms in the past two years, including missile defense systems.

Hmmmm .... when money talks, everyone listens.

Pentagon Review To Address Climate Change For The First Time

Scientists had previously conceded that the speed with which glaciers in the Himalayas are melting had been greatly overhyped. Photo from The Telegraph

From The Hill:

The Pentagon is addressing climate change for the first time in its sweeping review of military strategy.

The Pentagon is set to release the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) on Monday, along with the 2011 budget request.

In the review, Pentagon officials conclude that climate change will act as an “accelerant of instability and conflict,” ultimately placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.

Read more ....

My Comment: With the controversy over University of East Anglia's handling of the data that pro-global warming proponents have been using to promote their cause now in doubt .... it is at this time that the Pentagon decides to spend limited resources and monies on pursuing this (yes) questionable issue.

He Who Controls The Middle East Also Controls The World

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Reuters)

Ahmadinejad: Whoever Controls The Mideast Controls The World -- Haaretz

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a Tehran conference Saturday that whoever controls the Middle East controls the world, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

In a speech during a conference marking 30 years to the Islamic Revolution, Ahamdinejad reportedly implied that Iran is the top power in the Middle East. "Now the question is who has the last say in the Middle East? Well, of course, the answer is clear to every one," Ahamdinejad said.

Read more ....

My Comment: An interesting choice of words from the Iranian President. Is he right? .... to a certain extent he is. With the exception of the Middle East, the only other countries in the world that are self sufficient in energy resources are Canada, Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and to a certain extent Mexico and Brazil. Everyone else needs to import what they lack .... and what they lack mostly comes from the Middle East.

At the moment no one actually "controls" the Middle East. There are spheres of influence and competing interests among multiple parties and governments .... the US included .... but no one can say that anyone (including the US) is the dominant player. The fear is that a country like Iran may try to assert its control and influence in the region .... US officials like National Security adviser James Jones have already expressed their concerns on Iran's intent .... but there is a difference between intent and action, and what happens in Iran in the next few years will determine if this observation and intent from the Iranian President becomes reality.

U.S. Pushes For New Okinawa Site

From Wall Street Journal:

TOKYO -- The U.S. stepped up its pitch to push through the construction of a controversial new military facility in Okinawa Friday, as Japanese leaders pledged to redouble their effort to solve the thorny bilateral debate on bases by the end of May. Yet a wide gap seemed to remain between both sides on the issue.

John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, said in a speech here Friday that the U.S. is ready to take various steps to make its military presence more palatable to people in Okinawa, such as reducing noise or using the latest green technology to make its bases more environmentally friendly. Washington and Tokyo, he added, can also work together to help spur economic development on the island by taking advantage of its young and growing population and its strategic location close to the rest of Asia.

Read more ....

More News On Okinawa and How It Impacts U.S. - Japan Relations

U.S. ambassador stresses need for troops on Okinawa -- Stars And Stripes
Ambassador says US-Japan security pact, now in 50th year, is critical for regional peace -- Canadian Press
Roos stresses need for U.S. forces in Japan -- Japan Times
Thousands in Tokyo protest US military presence -- Washington Post/AP
6,000 rally in Tokyo against Futenma relocation -- Japan Today
Thousands in Tokyo, Japan protest U.S. presence for noise, crime -- Digital Journal
Mayor-Elect in Okinawan City Opposes U.S. Base -- New York Times
Japan Voter Angst About U.S. Ties Erodes PM Ratings -- New York Times
Okinawa base still a go, admiral says -- Star Bulletin
Japan to press ahead with US base review -- AFP
Okinawa's air base battle -- L.A. Times editorial
Japan and the American Bases -- New York Times editorial

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- January 30, 2010

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (left) and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. EPA-Corbis (left); Atta Kenare / AFP-Getty Images

End of the Rogue State -- Nader Mousavizadeh, Newsweek

The world that created 'rogue states' is gone, and the sooner Washington recognizes it, the better.

A year after Barack Obama relaunched America's relations with the world's rogue states, the verdict is in: from Burma to North Korea, Venezuela to Iran, the outstretched hand has been met with the clenched fist. Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest in Rangoon, Pyongyang is testing missiles, Caracas rails against gringo imperialism, and Tehran has dismissed a year-end deadline to do a deal on its nuclear program. Engagement has failed and Obama is now poised to deliver on threats of tougher sanctions, as surely he must. Right? Well, not necessarily.

Read more ....


Autocrats Of The World, Rejoice! -- Gordon G. Chang, Forbes

Rocky road ahead for relations between global superpowers -- Ian Bremmer, The Scotsman

Two Superpowers Take on the World -- Andreas Lorenz, Spiegel Online

A sheik-up call for O's Justice joker -- Rich Lowry, New York Post

President Obama: National Security as Afterthought -- Andrew Bacevich

The Greening Of Osama Bin Laden -- IBD Editorial

Lack of Intelligence: Why didn’t the Obama administration interrogate the Christmas bomber? -- Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard

You cannot stop the terrorist threat if you are unable to profile it -- Charles Moore, The Telegraph

More airport security won’t do much to stop terrorists. Leaving the Middle East would. -- Jeffrey Miron, Christian Science Monitor

A Time and a Place for Russia -- Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky