Friday, April 30, 2010

What Is The U.S. Airforce's Secret Space Mission About?

From Discovery:

These days, with the multitude of global surveillance systems watching the skies, it's pretty tough to keep secret the inaugural test launch of what many suspect to be a space weapon. Which is probably one reason why the U.S. Air Force not only issued a press release, but put up a web video of the April 22 launch of its X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a smaller, robotic version of the Space Shuttle that can stay in orbit for up to 270 days before returning to Earth for eventual reuse.

Read more ....

My Comment: The keyparagraph in this report is the following ....

So what, then, is the X-37B's real purpose? The military isn't saying. In a recent Popular Science article, the Air Force's chief scientist, Werner J.A. Dahm, was asked what he could reveal about the spacecraft. "Nothing very useful," he replied, before quickly changing the subject.

It is a prototype .... I do not expect much from it either.

Past And Present Politics On The Space Program And National Security -- A Commentary

Space Wars: Circa 1959 To 2010 -- Bryan Demko, American Thinker

I noted with interest President Obama's April 16 visit to Cape Kennedy to rally the "workers". Certain reports have it that there were few in any "workers" invited to hear the speech. There did seem to be a lot of applause from people who were about to lose their jobs. Then on April 22 I noted the launch of an Atlas/X-37 "space plane" combination on a "secret" mission.

Had I seen this before? The Atlas/X-37 stirred my memory. In June of 1959 the Eisenhower administration awarded a contract to Boeing for a project called Dyna-Soar. This also was an Atlas/Space Plane combination very closely resembling the current configuration. The intended offensive purpose of the 1959 system sounds remarkably similar to the theories put forth for the X37. Also remarkable is the involvement of the same contractor & booster.

But is there a more over-riding theme in both of these events?

Read more ....

My Comment: Technology changes with time, but Washington politics stays the same .... especially with this administration.

Tensions And Threats Increase Between Israel, Syrian, And Iran

Hillary Clinton warned President Bashar al-Assad of the risk of sparking a regional war if he is found to be supplying long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Tehran Warns Israel Against Attack On Syria As Arms Tension Mounts -- The Guardian

Iranian vice-president declares solidarity with Damascus after Clinton intervenes in Middle East missile row.

Iran has pledged to "cut off Israel's feet" if it attacks Syria, fuelling tensions over one of the Middle East's most combustible flashpoints after the US publicly warned Damascus not to risk starting a war.

Mohammad Rida Rahimi, the Iranian vice-president, made the statement today at the end of a visit to Syria that was billed as underlining the strategic relationship between the two countries.

Read more ....

More News On The Conflict Between Israel, Syria, And Iran

Iran, Syria enhance relations -- Tehran Times
Iran: We'll cut off Israel's legs -- Jerusalem Post
Iran Vows to Back Syria With All Its 'Strength' -- Voice of America
Hezbollah leader won't say if militants have Scuds -- AP
Clinton Blasts Syria Arms Transfers to Hezbollah -- Voice of America
Clinton Warns Syria on Sending Arms to Hezbollah -- ABC News
Clinton warns Assad about war risks -- AFP
Clinton warns Iran, Syria on threats to Israel -- AP
Are Hezbollah, Israel headed for another war? -- Xinhuanet

A Canadian Connection To Somali Piracy

In this handout from the U.S. Navy, The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) passes by the smoke from a suspected pirate skiff it disabled March 31, 2010 in the Gulf of Aden. USS Farragut is part of Combined Task Force 151, a multinational task force established to conduct anti-piracy operations. Photograph by: (Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

Somali-Canadians Getting Piece Of Pirates' Ransom Pie: Intelligence Expert -- Montreal Gazette

Some Somali-Canadians have received a cut of the ransoms collected by pirates operating off the Horn of Africa and money may have been sent back to Somalia to fund other hijackings, according to an intelligence specialist on piracy.

Karsten von Hoesslin, a senior analyst for Risk Intelligence, told naval officers from Pacific Ocean nations gathered in Victoria for a three-day maritime security conference, that the transfer of ransom money has been tracked from Somalia to Ottawa and a number of other locations that are home to Somali communities.

"It's coming to Ottawa, it's in London and Nairobi," he said. "We know where the money is going."

Read more ....

My Comment: Unlike the U.S. .... post 911 .... Canada has always had a problem (or lack of will?) in tracking money going and out of the country. Being a Canadian myself .... this news does not surprise me at all.

Can U.S. Military Force Stop Iran's Nuclear Program?

Stop Iran? You Bet, Says One General -- IBD Editorial

Nuclear Terror: Over and over we've heard the military option against Iran isn't feasible because the country's nuclear sites are buried, spread out and too numerous. But even some left-leaning military figures disagree.

'If I were an Iranian leader I'd be very worried," former NATO commander and Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark said at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday. "I'd be paying close attention."

Read more ....

My Comment:I agree with the General's assessment, the U.S. military can easily and effectively destroy Iran's nuclear and military infrastructure. The problems that will arise will not be from the attack, but from the consequences of committing ourselves to such a course of action.

Iraq's military was defeated in a few weeks, but the war has continued (at a lower intensity) to this day. The same case will be for Iran .... we can easily destroy Iran's military infrastructure, but the conflict will continue for years (primarily through terrorism) even if U.S. forces are not in Iran proper.

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

South Korean Army soldiers are seen atop armoured vehicles during a drill at the boder town of Paju on May 29, 2009. North Korea warned on May 27 of possible military action after South Korea announced it is joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a US-led campaign to stop the trade in weapons of mass destruction. Picture: AFP

South Korea’s Secret War -- David Axe

It may want to keep it quiet, but South Korea is developing a modern, more assertive military, says David Axe.

More than half a century since the end of the Korean War and the beginning of a long period of relative military isolation, South Korea is gradually, and quietly, playing a larger role in world security.

Despite strong US support, South Korea’s rise as a military power is complicated by domestic politics, and by a belligerent North Korea. To avoid provoking foreign and domestic opposition, Seoul has cleverly disguised its newest overseas military operation as a strictly peaceful affair.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

The U.S. must defend the integrity of Iraqi elections -- Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan, Washington Post

Is time on Israel’s side? -- Shira Herzog, Globe And Mail

India's Dirty War -- Megha Bahree, Forbes

The Dangers of Nuclear Disarmament -- Sergei Karaganov, Moscow Times

Europe’s economy is the sick man of the world -- Bill Emmott, Times Online

Will Greek Contagion Bring Portugal Down? -- Stefan Schultz, Spiegel Online

The latest national security threat: obesity -- John M. Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton, Washington Post

World News Briefs -- April 30, 2010 (Evening Edition)

U.S. Gulf States Mobilize for Valdez-Like Oil Spill -- Bloomberg Business Week

U.S. Interior Department inspectors began boarding deep-water platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana mobilized the National Guard as an expanding oil slick that may rival the Exxon Valdez spill approached the coast.

Future drilling must safeguard against a recurrence, President Barack Obama said today in remarks at the White House, promising a “thorough review” of the BP Plc well leak the government estimates is spewing 5,000 barrels a day.

Read more ....


Egypt rejects claims that it gassed Gaza tunnels.

Iraq vote recount to start Monday; May take 3 weeks.

Clinton questions Ahmadinejad's role at nuclear conference.

New US warning to Syria on Scuds.

Mass protest in Nepal today.

Schools in China prepare for copycat attacks.

U.S. report on Afghan war finds few gains in 6 months.

Thai protesters on defensive after storming hospital.

Japan PM renews vow to resolve U.S. base row.

China set to open World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.


UN extends Sudan peacekeeping mission another year.

North Korea and Zimbabwe in World Cup controversy.

'Hundred killed' in Chad clashes.

Somali-Canadians getting piece of pirates' ransom pie: Intelligence expert.

South African police find large explosives cache.


Ex-PM Tymoshenko says Russia wants to destroy Ukrainian sovereignty.

Greece readies austerity measures.

U.K. General Election 2010: Tony Blair denies Gordon Brown has 'failed'.

Belgian lawmakers vote to ban full-face veils in public.

U.S. seeks to revamp NATO Treaty in Europe.

Spain unemployment tops 20 percent.


Deaths in Mexico drug war pass 22,000, but who's counting?

Immigration debate shakes US to the core.

Obama threatened by heckuva glob.

White House says no new offshore drilling until investigation is complete.

Rescue mission under way for Mexican journalists.

Arizona law on immigration puts police in tight spot.

Tensions rise over Haiti tent camps.


Two NY men charged with aiding al Qaeda.

Pakistani intelligence officials say Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is alive.

CIA to station more analysts overseas as part of its strategy.


Criminal investigation being considered for Goldman Sachs.

Buffett: Economy showing signs of big improvement.

U.S. economy likely grew 3.4 percent in first quarter.

Russia's Katyn Files Are Now Open To The Public

The mass graves were found by the German army when it invaded Russia. It was immediately used as propaganda against the Russians who continued to deny they were to blame until 1990. But even today the Communist Party in Russia says the killings were carried out by German soldiers. Photo from The Daily Mail

Russia Opens Its Files On The Katyn Massacre

In a move that takes it one step closer to easing its long-running tensions with Poland, Russia on Wednesday posted online for the first time its files on the Soviet Union's World War II massacre of thousands of Polish officers in Katyn forest.

The documents — which were once classified — were opened to the public in 1992, but have mainly only been read by researchers and historians. Now for the first time, anyone with a computer can see for themselves the files that prove Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his aides were responsible for the killings of 22,000 Polish officers in the forest in western Russia. "Let people see [the files], let them know who made the decision to kill the Polish officers," said Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, who ordered that the files be published online. "It's all there in the documents. All signatures are there, all the faces are known."

Read more ....

More News On The Katyn Massacre

Documents prove Stalin signed death warrant for 22,000 Poles -- Sydney Morning Herald
Secret documents confirm Stalin DID sanction Katyn massacre... but Russia still won't name police who shot 22,000 -- The Daily Mail
Documents show Stalin signed Katyn death warrants -- The Telegraph
Russia posts Katyn massacre documents online -- The Guardian
Russia opens Katyn massacre archive -- Financial Times
Russia posts documents on Polish executions online -- CNN
Russia posts some Katyn documents on Internet -- AP
Commentary: The issue will never die - Poles will always want more -- Times Online
New Katyn documents published by Russia "good sign": Polish PM -- Xinhuanet

My Comment: Russia wants to close the file on this part of it's Soviet history .... this goes a long way to accomplish that.

Europe's Financial And Economic Mess Gets Messier Everyday

Spain's Unemployment Rate Rises To One In FIVE As Investors Fear Debt Crisis Of Greek Proportions -- Daily Mail

Spain's jobless rate has surpassed 20 per cent for the first time since 1997, sparking investors' fears that the country could soon be facing a debt crisis of Greek proportions.

The Spanish government revealed the figures today as it offered more dismal news for a recession-plagued economy that is being dragged into Europe's debt crisis.

The National Statistics Institute said the rate rose 1.22 percentage points in the first quarter to 20.05 percent.

Read more ....

More News On Europe's Financial Crisis

Greece readies austerity measures -- Yahoo News/Reuters
As Greek Drama Plays Out, Where Is Europe? -- New York Times
Spain unemployment tops 20 percent -- CNN
Spain jobless rate over 20 pct, adding to woes -- AP
Downgraded Spain decides to shelve worthless enviro-energy projects -- Washington Examiner
Germany and Greece: Neither a borrower nor a lender be -- The Economist
Greek debt crisis: Bailout likely, but will it be enough? -- Christian Science Monitor
Financial Crisis in Greece, Europe Could Threaten US and World Economy -- L.A. Times
Crisis for Europe in Greek Debt? -- Council On Foreign Relations
FACTBOX-German commentaries on Greek debt crisis -- Reuters
Explaining German angst over Greece -- Gavin Hewitt, BBC
Angela Merkel is pushing Greece beyond the pain threshold -- Kevin Featherstone, The Guardian opinion
Europe's Other Crisis -- Mathew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal

South And North Korean Officials Meet Seperately With China's President

Photo from Korea Times

South Korea's Lee Talks Security Risks With Chinese Leader -- Washington Post/Reuters

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - South Korean President Lee Myung-bak held talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Shanghai on Friday that touched on security risks caused by the North's suspected attack on a warship from the South.

China, the reclusive and impoverished North's biggest benefactor with the most influence in Pyongyang, wants to prevent further tensions that increase the chances of war but is not about to punish its neighbor, analysts said.

Read more ....

More News on South And North Korea Meeting With China's Officials

China president meets leaders of 2 Koreas amid crisis over sinking of South's naval ship -- Today Online
South Korea & China Discuss Naval Disaster of Cheonan -- Arirang
Chinese President offers condolences -- Korea Times
N. Korean Denial on Sunken Ship Clouds Lee-Hu Meeting -- Bloomberg Businessweek
North Korea's No. 2 Official Meets With China's President -- Global Security Newswire

My Comment: Both China and South Korea have little (if any) influence over North Korea. I expect nothing to come from these talks .... but I do expect excellent photo ops.

Why Is Our Intel On "Dead" Terrorists Usually Wrong

Wanted: Accurate Intel On 'Dead' Terrorists -- Washington Times

Taliban leader Qari Hussain? Killed in January 2008 ... until he appeared at a news conference a few months later in Waziristan.

Al Qaeda official Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri? Annihilated in a drone attack in September ... but still able to give an exclusive interview in October.

Taliban honcho Hakimullah Mehsud? Wiped out in a missile attack in January ... or was he?

Reports on Thursday that Mehsud was only wounded in that U.S. drone attack have prompted questions about the quality of intelligence emerging from Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Read more ....

My Comment: The CIA (and the Pakistan military) do not have the boots on the ground to quickly verify on who was killed and/or wounded in a drone missile strike. This lack of information will always produce false reports and analysis .... including (maybe) this one.

Remembering The Fall Of Saigon

Vietnam Re-Enacts Fall Of Saigon To Mark 35th Anniversary Of War's End -- USA Today

Vietnam today marked the 35th anniversary of the Communist victory in the Vietnam War with a grand military parade through the former Saigon and a re-enactment of North Vietnamese tanks crashing through the gates of the presidential palace.

While official speeches touted the liberation of the country, the Associated Press reports, the government basked more in their economic achievements that in the historic military defeat of the United States.

Read more ....

More News On The 35th Anniversary Of The Fall Of Saigon

Vietnam celebrates 35th anniversary of war's end -- AP
Vietnam re-enacts fall of Saigon to mark war milestone -- BBC
Vietnam, 35 years on -- New York Post
Vietnam 35th Anniversary -- ABD News (Photos)
Six More Names Added to Vietnam Wall -- US News & World Report
Saigon’s Fall, 35 Years Later -- Ling Dinh, New York Times opinion
Fall of Saigon revisited -- Washington Times editorial

Heavy Fighting Reported On Chad - Darfur Border

'Hundred Killed' In Chad Clashes -- BBC

Chad's government says the army has killed 105 insurgents and beaten back a new attack near the Sudan border, but the rebels have denied the claims.

FPRN leader Adoum Yacoub said both sides had lost lives but did not give any details.

This is the first battle since Chad and Sudan agreed to stop supporting rebels in each other's country in February.

Chad's President Idriss Deby this week sent a message congratulating Sudan's Omar al-Bashir on his re-election.

Read more ....

More News On Chad

Chad Says Forces Kill More Than 100 Rebels -- Voice of America
106 killed in Chad clashes: government spokesman -- AFP
Chadian army clashes with rebels -- Washington Post/Reuters
Over 100 dead as Chad rebels clash with government -- RFI English
War And Peace On The Eastern Front -- Strategy Page

Afghanistan Goes GaGa Over Lady Gaga's Hit "Telephone."

Afghanistan Goes Gaga -- The Smoking Gun

Meet the soldiers behind the hit viral remake of "Telephone" video.

In what may be the most entertaining music video homage ever shot in a war zone, a group of American soldiers stationed at a military base in southwest Afghanistan star in a lip-synced version of Lady Gaga's hit "Telephone." The video, which yesterday began to spread online, was filmed recently inside what appears to be a garage at the Forward Operating Base in Farah Province. Posted to YouTube a week ago, the 3:45 production--complete with props, signs, and costumes--features an all-male cast from the 82nd Airborne Division.

Read more ....

My Comment: The official Lady Gaga version of this song is below.

Inquest In The Death Of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe Begins

Procession: Hearses carrying the coffins of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, 39, and Trooper Josh Hammond, 18, pass mourners Wootton Bassett last year. Photo from The Daily Mail.

Inquest Resumes Into Death Of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe -- Times Online

The inquest into the death of the most senior British Army officer to be killed in action since the Falklands resumes this morning.

Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, died alongside a teenage soldier when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on July 1 last year.

Read more ....

More News On The Death Of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe

Lt Col Thorneloe died after insisting on taking 'top cover' position -- The Telegraph
British officer killed by IED 'insisted on taking most exposed position' -- The Telegraph
Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe took role to 'inspire' his men -- BBC
Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe inquest begins -- The Guardian
Army commander killed by Taliban bomb on Helmand patrol 'requested more helicopters' -- Daily Mail
Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe 'died leading from the front' -- Times Online

My Comment: This officer is a true hero .... and I am sure his soldiers must miss him everyday.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- April 30, 2010

U.S. and Afghan soldiers walk with Afghan civilians to a helicopter pick-up landing site in the village of Kopak in the Mohammud-Agha district, Logar province, Afghanistan, April 22, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest

Afghanistan Forces Face Four More Years Of Combat, Warns Nato Official -- The Guardian

Nato's top civilian official in Afghanistan warns of further deaths in 'very tough year' for British and other foreign troops.

British and other foreign troops deployed in Afghanistan face a "very tough" time ahead and can expect to be engaged in a combat role for three or four more years, Nato's most senior civilian official in the country said today.

Mark Sedwill, a former UK ambassador to Afghanistan, warned of further troop deaths in the region, saying: "We cannot allow judgment of success to be the absence of casualties."

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Afghan Taliban getting stronger, Pentagon says -- L.A. Times
U.S. Report on Afghan War Finds Few Gains in 6 Months -- New York Times
NATO soldier killed in Afghanistan: ISAF -- AFP
France says troops killed 4 Afghan civilians -- CNN
France says troops kill four young Afghan civilians -- Reuters
Afghan Death Sparks Protest -- Wall Street Journal
Afghanistan war: US night raid sparks protest over civilian deaths -- Christian Science Monitor
Troops kill guest in MP’s home -- Dispatch Online
US forces kill MP’s relative in botched night raid -- Times Online
Afghan MP: US troops murdered my relative in raid -- Independent

World News Briefs -- April 30, 2010

Oil From Spill Is Reported to Have Reached the Coast -- New York Times

NEW ORLEANS —Coast Guard officials were investigating reports early Friday morning that oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico had washed ashore overnight, threatening fisheries and wildlife in fragile marshes and islands along the Gulf Coast.

Officials had not confirmed whether any tentacles of the oil slick had actually touched land, but Petty Officer Shawn Eggert of the United States Coast Guard said that officials were planning a flyover Friday morning to assess how the oil was moving, and whether it was making landfall.

Read more ....


Iraq vote recount to start Monday; May take 3 weeks.

Clinton questions Ahmadinejad's role at nuclear conference.

New US warning to Syria on Scuds.


U.S. report on Afghan war finds few gains in 6 months.

Thai protesters on defensive after storming hospital.

Japan PM renews vow to resolve U.S. base row.

China set to open World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.


'Hundred killed' in Chad clashes.

Somali-Canadians getting piece of pirates' ransom pie: Intelligence expert.

South African police find large explosives cache.


Greece readies austerity measures.

U.K. General Election 2010: Tony Blair denies Gordon Brown has 'failed'.

Belgian lawmakers vote to ban full-face veils in public.

U.S. seeks to revamp NATO Treaty in Europe.

Spain unemployment tops 20 percent.


Obama threatened by heckuva glob.

White House says no new offshore drilling until investigation is complete.

Rescue mission under way for Mexican journalists.

Arizona law on immigration puts police in tight spot.

Tensions rise over Haiti tent camps.


Pakistani intelligence officials say Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is alive.

CIA to station more analysts overseas as part of its strategy.


Criminal investigation being considered for Goldman Sachs.

Buffett: Economy showing signs of big improvement.

U.S. economy likely grew 3.4 percent in first quarter.

Military And Intelligence Nes Briefs -- April 30, 2010

Police officers are sealed into protective suits during a 2005 bioterrorism drill in New Jersey. The United States is unlikely to use nuclear weapons against a biological-weapon threat, even though a recent nuclear policy review left that option available, according to analysts (Stan Honda/Getty Images).

U.S. Unlikely to Respond to Biological Threat With Nuclear Strike, Experts Say -- Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- The United States is not likely to use nuclear force to respond to a biological weapons threat, even though the Obama administration left open that option in its recent update to the nation's nuclear weapons policy, experts say (See GSN, April 22).

"The notion that we are in eminent danger of confronting a scenario in which hundreds of thousands of people are dying in the streets of New York as a consequence of a biological weapons attack is fanciful," said Michael Moodie, a consultant who served as assistant director for multilateral affairs in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the George H.W. Bush administration.

Read more ....


Navy Says NLOS-LS Cancellation Won’t Delay LCS -- Defense Tech

Helium-3 Shortage Could Mean Nuke Detection ‘Disaster’ -- The Danger Room

Six issues in military robotics -- James Hasik (H/T: Defense Industry Daily)

Boeing starts production line for A160 in Mesa
-- Business Journal

U.S. Army Modernization Strategy Stresses Affordability -- Defense News

Critiquing Prompt Global Strike -- Armchair Generalist

US Army Wants 120mm Guided Mortars for the Front Lines -- Defense Industry Daily

Army Slaps Gear On Chopping Block
-- DoD Buzz

Top Gun Rises From The Dead -- Strategy Page

Vietnam marks 35th anniversary of end of war -- Navy Times

New U.S. - Russia Nuclear Agreement Facing Ratification Problems In The U.S. Senate

Key Senator Expects Tough Fight On Arms Control Deal -- Global Security Newswire

Friction between Democratic and Republican senators is likely to complicate efforts to ratify a new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) told the Boston Globe in remarks published today (see GSN, April 28).

Signed earlier this month by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the pact would obligate the two former Cold War adversaries to both lower their respective strategic arsenals to 1,550 fielded warheads and to limit their deployed nuclear delivery vehicles -- missiles, submarines and bombers -- to 700, with another 100 permitted in reserve. Under a 2002 pact, Moscow and Washington had until 2012 to reduce their deployed strategic stockpiles to a maximum of 2,200 weapons each.

Read more ....

My Comment: Traditionally .... when important treaties were being negotiated and agreed upon between the U.S. and other countries .... the U.S. Senate was involved by being briefed and having their own opinions considered. However .... under this administration .... a different tack was followed in which many in the Senate are of the opinion (particularly on the Republican side) that they were deliberately left out.

There are always political consequences when a government pursues such an independent course, and the White House is going to experience this when they find that they have problems in ratifying the treaty. With a majority of Americans opposing the treaty, this is going to be an uphill battle .... especially in an election year.

Soldiers Surprising Their Love Ones (Video)

Hat Tip: Theo Spark

Not Much To Show After 6 Months Into The Afghan Surge

U.S. and Afghan soldiers prepare to board a CH-47 Chinook helicopters to return to base after a mission in the village of Kopak, Mohammud-Agha district, Logar province, Afghanistan, April 22, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest

U.S. Report on Afghan War Finds Few Gains in 6 Months -- New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Pentagon report on the last six months in Afghanistan portrays an Afghan government with limited credibility among its people, a still active if not growing insurgency and an enormous reliance on American troops to train, outfit and finance the country’s defense forces for the foreseeable future.

The report, released on Wednesday, is mandated by Congress every six months. It points to some improvements, including an increased optimism among Afghans about their government and the slowing of the insurgency in places where NATO troops have concentrated their efforts.

Read more ....

My Comment: After spending tens of billions of dollars, scores of lives lost, and a surge that has been growing in strength since last year .... this is all that we have to show for it?

With military and political planners laying the groundwork for an exit strategy two years from now .... I am not optimistic that anything will improve by then .... not optimistic at all.

Why Does It Cost Roughly $1 Million A Year To Support The Deployment Of A Single Soldier To Afghanistan

Pentagon Doles Out Sweetheart Deals For Wartime Supplies -- The Danger Room

According to White House budget estimates, it costs roughly $1 million a year to support the deployment of a single soldier to Afghanistan. Ever wonder why it costs so much? Landlocked country, long supply lines, poor infrastructure, yadda yadda. But how about another possible contributing factor: The reliance of the Pentagon’s main supply agency on no-bid contracts?

Read more ....

My Comment:
I am definitely in the wrong type of work.

Mexico's Drug Cartel War Casualties Approaching 23,000 Killed

People mourn the death of victims of a shootout in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Alejandro Bringas/Reuters

Deaths In Mexico Drug War Pass 22,000, But Who's Counting?

MEXICO CITY — As the death toll has climbed from drug-related violence in Mexico, it's fallen largely to newspapers to keep the count.

Two weeks ago, a government report that legislators leaked spoke of 22,700 deaths over little more than a three-year period, a far higher body count than the 18,000 or so given by El Universal, a leading newspaper.

Read more ....

My Comment: When you have casualty rates of 50 killed in three days .... in one city .... that is when you know that you are in a war.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pakistan's Civil War Is About To Escalate

In Shift, Pakistan Considers Attack On Militant Lair -- New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani military, long reluctant to heed American urging that it attack Pakistani militant groups in their main base in North Waziristan, is coming around to the idea that it must do so, in its own interests.

Western officials have long believed that North Waziristan is the single most important haven for militants with Al Qaeda and the Taliban fighting American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan has nurtured militant groups in the area for years in order to exert influence beyond its borders.

Read more ....

My Comment: For the past few years U.S. military and government officials have been pushing Pakistan to conduct this offensive, but the Pakistan Government has always refrained because they knew that such an offensive would produce enormous casualties and a massive refugee crisis.

But with Pakistan's war against its Islamic extremists continuing, the Pakistan Government and military have come to the conclusion that they now have no choice .... they will now need to storm the Taliban's safe sanctuaries in North Waziristan.

The repositioning of thousands of Pakistan troops into Pakistan's Frontier regions has already changed the dynamics on the ground, but when the offensive starts .... and it will start in the next few months .... expect a massive increase in casualties and a spill over effect into Afghanistan.

Pentagon On Alert As Oil Spill In The Gulf Of Mexico Worsens

Pentagon On Alert As Gulf Coast Readies For Oil's Onslaught -- McClatchy News

WASHINGTON — With crude oil expected to wash up Thursday night on the Gulf Coast, President Barack Obama stepped up federal efforts Thursday to help clean up the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, putting the Department of Defense at the ready and dispatching three Cabinet officers to the scene.

The president spoke Thursday with the governors of Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi, and in brief remarks from the White House Rose Garden he said the government was using "every single available resource at our disposal."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency.

Read more ....

Where crews placed booms along the Gulf Coast to ward off the approaching oil spill. | Lee Hulteng, Judy Treible / MCT

My Comment: I presume that the U.S. military will assist in the placement of booms as well as protecting it's own naval assets in the region. But this disaster is too big for any one group to take a handle of the situation .... the military included.

India And Pakistan Pledge To Improve Relations

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during their meeting in Thimphu, capital of Bhutan, on April 29, 2010. (Xinhua/Chen Zhanjie)

From L.A. Times:

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meet in Bhutan and officials later say they will open discussions on ‘all issues of mutual concern.’ The U.S. would like to see Pakistan focus more troops on Afghanistan and fewer on India.

Senior Indian and Pakistani officials pledged Thursday to improve frosty relations between their nations following a meeting between their prime ministers at the periphery of a regional summit in Bhutan.

Lowering the temperature between the wary nuclear neighbors has been a key goal of the United States in its broader bid to root out terrorism in South Asia.

Read more ....

My Comment: Resuming the discussion to have peace talks is better than having no talks at all .... but both sides still have a very long way to go.

U.S. Navy To Permit Women To Serve On Submarines (Update)

Waterworld … Leading Seaman Centa on HMAS Dechaineux. (Photo from The Sydney Morning Herald)

Women To Start Serving On Submarines, But Not Everyone's On Board -- FOX News

Despite concerns from critics over privacy, costs and the possibility of sexual activity, the Navy says it's ready, willing, able, and now ready to put women on submarines. FOXNews' Diane Macedo gets an unprecedented look aboard the USS Alaska to see what hurdles the Navy needed to overcome.
Another exclusive "men's club" is about to go coed: The U.S. Navy will soon allow women to serve on submarines.

Women have served side-by-side with men for decades in all branches of the military, but submarines, up until now, have remained off-limits. The reason, the Navy says, was privacy. Crew members generally sleep 9 to a room. Up to 40 people can share one bathroom. Even officers bunk together.

Read more ....

My Comment: The times .... they are certainly changing.

When We Understand That Slide, We'll Have Won The War

(Click to Enlarge)
Baffling: The PowerPoint slide shown to US commanders shows security, economic and political conditions in Afghanistan. The dark blue arrows represent Afghan National Security Forces with the enemy in red. Other arrows highlight corruption, tribal favouritism and drug trafficking.

'When We Understand That Slide, We'll Have Won The War:' US Generals Given Baffling PowerPoint Presentation To Try To Explain Afghanistan Mess -- The Daily Mail

Its coloured charts, graphs and bullet-points are supposed to make the most incomprehensible data crystal clear.

But even the sharpest military minds in American were left baffled by this PowerPoint slide, a mind-boggling attempt to explain the situation in Afghanistan.

'When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war,' General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO force commander, remarked wryly when confronted by the sprawling spaghetti diagram in a briefing.

Read more ....

My Comment: Someone should do a power point presentation from the Taliban point of view. My prediction .... it will be simpler presentation and probably more effective.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- April 29, 2010

Anger bubbles over in Athens Photo: Reuters

Greek Crisis: Athens To Ashes -- The Telegraph

The Greek horror story should scare us all, says Edmund Conway. Its problems are not unique.

It has all the ingredients for a perfect Hollywood sequel. The cliffhanger plot kicks off right where its predecessor ended; the cast is stellar, some characters from the original reprising their roles. But this time the stakes are even higher, the mood even tenser.

Greece is on the brink of bankruptcy. Based on almost any yardstick, markets are now betting that the government will default on its debt. At a staggering 18 per cent, the going rate to borrow for a mere two years is similar to the penal rates credit card companies charge their dodgiest customers. The government, International Monetary Fund and European Union have promised, vaguely, to hand over the necessary cash to help tide the country over, but to no avail.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

The emperor has no clothes and the euro has no future -- Alan Philps, The National

Greece is one giant Ponzi scheme -- Steven R. Earle, National Post

Dangerous Games in Iraq -- New York Times editorial

Is Kim Jong-il Planning to Occupy Seoul? -- Bradley Martin, Real Clear World/Global Post

So, Ready for War With North Korea?
-- Tom Plate, Korea Times

Iran’s Secret Uranium Deal with Zimbabwe -- Ryan Mauro, Pajamas Media

Africa Needs a New Map -- G. Pascal Zachary, Foreign Policy

World News Briefs -- April 29, 2010 (Evening Edition)

Mad Scramble As Oil Slick Nears Louisiana Coast -- Yahoo News/AFP

VENICE, Louisiana (AFP) – Offshore winds pushed a giant oil slick closer to the Louisiana coast Thursday amid a frenzied effort by authorities to contain what one official said had become a disaster of "national significance."

The White House pledged "all available resources," including the military, to avoid an environmental catastrophe, and the Defense Department said it was studying ways to help as officials revealed that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was far worse than believed.

Read more ....


US gives Abbas private assurances over Israeli settlements.

Baghdad vote recount begins Monday.

Hezbollah: Egyptian jailings 'unjust and politicised'.

Ahmadinejad applies to visit US for UN nuclear meeting.

Iran, Egypt ready for battle at U.N. nuclear meeting.

Rights group: Torture routine in secret Iraq jail.


Pentagon issues downbeat assessment on Afghanistan.

Expo offers Shanghai a turn in the spotlight.

Thai troops struggle to contain Bangkok protests.

South Korea vows to avenge sailors’ deaths. South Korea holds funeral for sailors killed in sinking.

On a holiday for Afghans, tight security and violence.

China to build reactors in Pakistan.

Pakistan Taliban chief believed alive.


Nigerians welcome sacking of election head Maurice Iwu.

U.N.-trained Somali soldiers deserting.

Sudan resumes demarcation of north-South border.

World Cup hosts S.Africa back on winning trail.


Russia and US discuss adoptions.

UK's Brown seeks redemption at debate after gaffe. UK's Brown seeks redemption at debate after gaffe.

Merkel tested as escalating Greek crisis hurts Euro.

Ukraine's Yanukovych signs Russian naval base deal into law.


Government sends skimmers, other gear to oil spill.

Shootings kill 16 people in Mexican border city.

Oil-rich Venezuela gripped by economic crisis.

Chavez foes fielding unified lineup for election.

Argentine media-government conflict turns ugly.


Read the Pentagon’s new rules for military trials.

Yemen arrests dozens of al Qaeda suspects.

North Africans move against al-Qaida.


Roubini says rising sovereign debt leads to defaults.

BP says would welcome military help on oil spill.

Greek fire turns to Spanish fever.

Dangers loom beyond the eurozone.

Lawmakers to Holder: Goldman, other firms aren't 'too big for jail'.

Pakistan Civil War News Updates -- April 29, 2010

Pentagon Sees Pakistan Shift, Downplays Afghan Impact -- New York Times/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistan has shifted 100,000 of its troops from its Indian frontier to spearhead an unprecedented crackdown on militants along the Afghan border, but the offensives are unlikely to have an immediate impact on the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said.

In a report to Congress released on Wednesday, the Pentagon estimated that about 140,000 Pakistani troops were taking part in offensives against militants in the semi-autonomous tribal regions, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, and the Northwest Frontier Province, near Afghanistan.

Read more ....

More News On Pakistan's Civil War

U.S., Pakistan bolster joint efforts, treading delicately -- Washington Post
Elders' absence hinders army goals in NW Pakistan -- AP
Pakistan Taliban militants 'reappear' in Swat valley -- BBC
Taliban strike in North Waziristan and Peshawar -- Long War Journal
Clashes in NW Pakistan leave 6 dead -- Press TV
19 Taliban killed in North Waziristan, Orakzai, Swat -- Daily Times
Strong military presence necessary in Pakistan's tribal area: analysts -- Xinhuanet

Unrest In Thailand -- News Updates April 29, 2010

Thai Loyalists Call For Military Action Against Red Shirts -- The Guardian

Yellow-shirted counter-protesters demand firm response to end 'anarchy' of anti-government demonstrations

Pro-establishment activists demanded military action against anti-government protesters and an end to "anarchy" in Bangkok yesterday, a day after clashes turned a busy motorway into a battle zone.

Read more ....

More News On The Unrest In Thailand

Thai chaos leaves power vacuum -- AP
Thai government 'in control' amid red protests -- BBC
Stand-off in Bangkok: Head to head -- The Economist
Thailand's orange-robed monks reveal shades of red -- AFP
Can foreign mediators defuse Thailand’s red shirt protests? -- Christian Science Monitor
SCENARIOS-How is Thailand's crisis likely to play out? -- Reuters
Compromise only answer to Thai crisis -- Thitinan Pongsudhirak, The Guardian

A Commentary On Mexico's Drug Cartel War And It's Impact On The U.S. (Arizona Included)

Three bodies lie in a Tijuana street during 72 hours of ferocious street battles between drug cartels. Photograph: Sergio Ortiz

Border Disorder: Mexico: The Real War Next Door -- Ralph Peters (Commentary)

South of the border, down Mexico way, a new and savage revolution rages just beyond our inspection lanes. After less than five years of fighting, estimates of the dead have reached 22,000.

The rate of killing accelerates each month. And Washington covers its eyes like a kid at a scary movie. Well, the Mexican narco-insurgency, in which well-armed guerrilla forces confront the authority and presence of the state, is our No. 1 security challenge.

The chaos in northern Mexico has far deeper implications for our country than Islamist terror or even an Iranian nuclear capability (as grim as those threats are).

Read more ....

My Comment: I was a constant traveler to Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s. It was my #1 tourist destination during my winter break .... tequila, rum, and Mexican food coupled with sunshine and beach volleyball .... for me .... Mexico was paradise, especially outside of the tourist areas.

This has not been the case since the early 1990s .... and I have stayed away since then. Crime, government corruption and grinding poverty .... coupled with the rise of the narco trade and the criminal culture that it breeds has killed the Mexico that I learned to love and respect. Now .... I see the same problems that have plunged Mexico into the mess that it is in today slowly creeping into the southern U.S., with cities like Tuscon and Phoenix bearing the brunt of this onslaught.

The only thing that I am surprised about is that only 70% of the people in Arizona favor the state's new immigration law. Considering what is happening .... I expected this total to be closer to 90%. Hmmmm .... give it time .... give it time.