Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

WNU Editor: I wish I could take a drink or two, but fighting the flu has been a tough fight , and all that I want to do now is hit the sack and sleep for the next few days and hope that by Sunday/Monday I have recovered enough to return to blogging.

In the interim, thanks to all my readers for a fascinating and enjoyable year, and I know that next year will be an even better time.

World News Briefs -- December 31, 2010

A long-range, improved Sejil 2 missile is test-fired in the desert at an unknown location in Iran in 2009. Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons, and while they seek the technology, Israel's deputy prime minister and minister of strategic affairs Moshe Ya'alon says they are at least three years away. Fars News/Reuters/File

Is Iran About To Test A Nuclear Bomb In North Korea? -- FOX News

On December 24, a research report from the South Korean Foreign Ministry Institute indicated that North Korea would carry out another nuclear bomb test after the beginning of the year. -- South Korean media reported earlier this month that the North was digging a tunnel in preparation for such a nuclear test.

Read more ....


Israel - Iran nuclear bomb 'still three years away'.

Violent deaths in Iraq reach lowest level since war began, group reports. Christians targeted in Iraq.

Israel's ex president convicted of rape and sex harassment.

WikiLeaks show US frustrated with Egypt military.

Israeli media hail Katsav verdict.


US missiles kill 8 in northwest Pakistan.

Australia floods larger than France strand 200,000.

South Korea's Lee calls for six-party talks.

North Korean Air Force increases training flights. N. Korea boosts special forces, tanks: report.


UN chief warns attack could spark civil war in Ivory Coast. France advises citizens to leave Ivory Coast.

Nigeria's Christians in plea to halt killings. Why there's still no death toll for the Christmas Eve bombings in Nigeria.

Sudan's President Bashir calls time on Darfur talks.


Khodorkovsky's lawyer appeals sentence.

Hungarian President signs controversial media law.

Group: US refuses Poles help in CIA prison probe.


Tail end of storms blast some Western states.

Violent protests over Bolivian fuel prices.

Brazil refuses to extradite Italian 'terrorist'.


Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo receive video call service.

Obama, marking anniversary of CIA attack, says Al-Qaeda 'under more pressure'.

Terrorist watch list: One tip now enough to put name in database, officials say.


Swiss franc hits record high vs dollar, euro, pound.

US gas prices pass $3 mark. Will anything stop them from climbing higher?

GOP gets cold feet on ending bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 31, 2010

TUG TEAMS - The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman returns to Naval Station Norfolk after a seven-month deployment, guided by a team of tugboats, Norfolk, Va., Dec. 20, 2010. Truman deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Brooks

Defense-Related Businesses Try To Survive Cutbacks -- NPR

With cuts in the military budget coming in the new year, small defense-related businesses are trying to stay afloat. At a recent conference in Maryland, representatives from more than 250 of those businesses gathered to get tips on how to survive the cuts.

Read more ....


Where’s the Money? What to Expect in 2011 -- DoD Buzz

EU 'could end China arms embargo' -- France 24

Clear shots of XXJ -- Alert 5

The beginning of the end of U.S. dominance in the Pacific Rim -- ELP Defens(c)e Blog

Most Dangerous Year Ever, From Secret Spaceships to Killer Drones -- The Danger Room

Russia To Pay Almost $2B For French Warships -- Defense News/AFP

12 killed in Russian military plane crash -- CNN

IAF looks to Korea, Italy for training aircraft -- Jerusalem Post

Japan to consider using drones: report -- Space Daily/AFP

LCS's Shocking Ending: Everybody Wins -- Ares/Aviation Week

Navy Gets its Holiday Wish and Buys Both LCS Classes -- Defense Tech

Army Tests SmartPhones for Battlefield

Assange: Many Arab Officials Work With CIA -- CBS News

2010: CIA ramps way up -- Washington Post

CIA Spy Chief in Pakistan Still a Secret -- U.S. News And World Report

Over 100 Journalists Killed This Year Covering Wars And Conflicts

2010 Journalist Deaths At 105 — PEC Report 2010 -- Eurasia Review

The Swiss NGO Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) denounced on Monday the death of 105 journalists in 33 countries during 2010.

According to the PEC report, some 529 journalists were killed over a period of 5 years, 2 per week on average.

However, 2010 was better than 2009 which witnessed the killing of 122 journalists, and this high tally resulted from the unprecedented massacre of journalists in the Philippines. But the 2010 figure of 105 journalists killed is still higher than that of 2008, which stood at 91.

Read more ....

Update: More Than 100 Journalists Killed in 2010 -- Voice of America

My Comment: Here I am .... griping and complaining for the past week on how sick I have been with the flu .... and then I read this report. Puts everything into perspective

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Terror Plots Uncovered In Europe

Europe Learns No Nation Is Immune To Terror -- Time Magazine

The Dec. 29 arrest of five men suspected of plotting a deadly shooting siege in Denmark — just nine days after a dozen men were seized in Britain on suspicions they were preparing a bombing strike — offers further evidence that the high levels of alert across Europe are well-founded. But the flurry of recent news produced by European terror action also shows that, with the notable exception of the lone extremist who blew himself up in Stockholm on Dec. 11 in an apparently botched bombing, authorities seem to be catching more al-Qaeda-inspired plotters before they manage to attack. So what's behind that apparent success? Are security authorities getting better at picking off increasingly autonomous groups of disparate jihadists as they quietly ready for strikes? Or is it just that the public is hearing more about what's actually routine preventive activity?

Read more ....

More News On The Latest Terror Plot Uncovered In Europe

Three charged over plot to attack Danish newspaper -- Reuters
Denmark, Sweden Hold 4 Terrorist Attack Suspects in Custody -- Voice of America
'Muhammad cartoon plotters' charged in Denmark court -- BBC News
Swedish, Danish Courts Hold Suspected Terrorists -- Wall Street Journal
4 arrested over suspected plot to attack Danish paper -- CNN
Two in Danish plot had previous arrests -- UPI
Danish intelligence foils terror plot against newspaper -- Christian Science Monitor

An Analysis On The CIA's Long History With Pakistan's Intelligence Services

Should The CIA Turn Against Pakistan's Spies? -- The New Republic

The recent chief-of-station (COS) cover-shredding brouhaha between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate marks an ironic and possibly important shift in the historic affection that Langley has had for Pakistan’s premiere intelligence service. It’s uncommon for a COS to be yanked home from a country where the CIA has enjoyed a pretty intimate relationship with the host service; it’s certain that the Agency did not do so just because the true name of an operative surfaced in the press due to a drone-provoked wrongful death lawsuit.

Read more ....

My Comment: Being the head of the CIA desk in Pakistan must be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. To find someone who understands the culture, history, and be able to maneuver among the different factions and groups in Pakistan's government/military/intelligence services .... and still be able to conduct a covert war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban .... wow .... good luck to him.

Afghanistan's Drug Lords Have All The Appearance Of Colobian-Style Drug Cartels

A U.S. Marine patrols through a poppy field in a village in the Golestan district of Farah province, Afghanistan (Reuters)

Taliban Drug Cartels, Not Poverty, Forcing Afghan Farmers To Grow Opium -- The Australian

TALIBAN insurgents in Afghanistan have formed Colombian-style drug cartels that sell opium to fund the bloody nine-year insurgency, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

Released by website whistleblower WikiLeaks, the 2009 cable rejects the popular notion that poverty forces Afghan farmers into opium production.

A September 2009 briefing by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at NATO headquarters was told that the main factor driving Afghan opium production was coercion of local farmers by Taliban insurgents.

Read more ....

My Comment: I remembered reading many newspaper reports (30 years ago) that it was poverty that was fueling Colombia's growing drug problem. That farmers earned far more from selling cocoa leaves than coffee. While some of this was probably true, the bottom line was that it was a well funded and protected drug racket/cartel that managed and reaped the rewards from such a trade.

I suspect the same can now be said on what is happening in today's Afghanistan, but unlike Colombia, everyone from the family of the President of Afghanistan down to the local farmer is on in this racket.

China Is Preparing For All Out War

China Preparing For Armed Conflict 'In Every Direction' -- The Telegraph

China is preparing for conflict 'in every direction', the defence minister said on Wednesday in remarks that threaten to overshadow a visit to Beijing by his US counterpart next month.

"In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction," said Liang Guanglie in an interview published by several state-backed newspapers in China. "We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away," Mr Liang added.

China repeatedly says it is planning a "peaceful rise" but the recent pace and scale of its military modernisation has alarmed many of its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan which described China's military build-up as a "global concern" this month.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Chinese still have a long way to go before they have the military capability to fight wars on multiple fronts and on multiple levels. But their intent is there, and what is more of a concern is that they are committing the necessary resources and personnel to make that possible.

Update: Some good analysis on China's military from the Small Wars Journal.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Editor's Note

Update 10:45 EST Thursday: Thanks for your comments. I feel much better now, but this has been one rough bout of the flu. In fact .... the last time I felt like this was when I had the measles 25 years ago .... and that was rough. I should start posting later today.

For the past two weeks I have been fighting a bad case of the flu. It seems that work, blogging, and the flu has caught up to me in a big and bad way. I am presently waaayyyyyyy under the weather, and I going to stay in bed until this is over.

I will be posting a story or two during the day .... there is only so much sleep that I can have in one day, and I do need to post a story or two just to keep busy. But for now .... my apologies for the lack of blogging, I should get back to normal soon.

The Somali Piracy Problem Is Getting Worse

Somali Pirates More Dangerous Than Ever -- Globe And Mail

It’s been another lucrative week for the barefoot buccaneers of Somalia. First they collected a $5.5-million ransom payment for a German-owned chemical tanker. Then, a day later, they hijacked another European cargo vessel, adding its eight crew members to their growing hoard of hostages.

This latest haul of ocean booty is fresh evidence that the world’s navies are facing failure in their massive campaign to defeat the Somali pirates. Despite years of efforts by the naval forces of Canada and dozens of other countries, the pirates are more dangerous than ever.

Read more ....

Update: FACTBOX: Ships held by Somali pirates -- ABS/CBN - Reuters

My Comment: When Somali pirates are being paid ransoms of $5.5 million to do this type of work .... with very little risk to them .... you are only encouraging more piracy and violence.

India Issues A Nationwide Terror Alert

Security has been tightened in major cities including Mumbai, the target of an attack in 2008 [Reuters]

India Issues Nationwide Terror Alert -- The Guardian

Thousands of security personnel deployed following tip-offs that Lashkar-e-Taiba is planning New Year attack

Indian authorities have deployed thousands of security personnel following warnings that Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group, is planning an attack over the New Year weekend.

Police officers and paramilitaries were on high alert across the country, including in India's financial capital, Mumbai, Indian officials said. House-to-house searches were under way in some areas of the city, which was attacked by Lashkar-e-Taiba in November 2008. Airports and railway stations, the city of Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat and the popular beach resort state of Goa were also on high alert following the warning, said to be based on "human" intelligence and received in recent days.

Read more ....

More News On India Issuing A Nationwide Terror Alert

India on Alert for New Year's Attack -- Voice of America
Major cities on alert after terror warning -- The Independent/AP
India boosts new year security against militant attack -- BBC
India on alert over attack fears -- Al Jazeera

Is Guantanamo Bay Prison A Recruiting Tool For Al Qaeda?

Camp Delta, the fenced-in core of the Guantánamo prison. Angel Franco/The New York Times

Gitmo Is Not Al Qaeda's 'Number One Recruitment Tool' -- Weekly Standard

During a press conference on December 22, President Obama was asked about the difficulties his administration has encountered in trying to close Guantanamo. The president explained (emphasis added):

Obviously, we haven’t gotten it closed. And let me just step back and explain that the reason for wanting to close Guantanamo was because my number one priority is keeping the American people safe. One of the most powerful tools we have to keep the American people safe is not providing al Qaeda and jihadists recruiting tools for fledgling terrorists.

And Guantanamo is probably the number one recruitment tool that is used by these jihadist organizations. And we see it in the websites that they put up. We see it in the messages that they're delivering.

Read more ....

My Comment: I tend to agree. I have been following the war on terror for the past few years, and I have come across only a few references to Guantanamo Bay prison by Jihadist groups. In fact ..... when it is mentioned .... it is usually used as a point of passage for up and coming Jihadists who were able to convince American authorities that they would not return to Jihad, and are then released. Bragging rights are more important to them than saying how terrible Guantanamo prison is.

A Look At The History Of Public Debt, And the Conflicts That It Spawned

The West And The Tyranny Of Public Debt -- Newsweek

The history of public debt is the very history of national power: how it has been won and how it has been lost. Dreams and impatience have always driven men in power to draw on the resources of others—be it slaves, the inhabitants of occupied lands, or their own children yet to be born—in order to carry out their schemes, to consolidate power, to grow their own fortunes. But never, outside periods of total war, has the debt of the world’s most powerful states grown so immense. Never has it so heavily threatened their political systems and standards of living. Public debt cannot keep growing without unleashing terrible catastrophes.

Read more ....

My Comment: After reading this article, one should not be assured that our financial crisis will not spawn the same outcome in the form of wars and internal revolts. This is a brief but excellent analysis .... read it all.

Pic Of The Day

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
NORFOLK (Dec. 19, 2010) An F/A-18 Hornet is decorated with Christmas lights on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin J. Steinberg)

Another Obstacle In Building The Bomber Command Memorial

Work on the Bomber Command Memorial will begin in May

Change In Law Could Leave Bomber Command Memorial With £250k VAT Bill -- The Telegraph

The Bomber Command Memorial to 55,573 airmen who died in the Second World War could be hit by a £250,000 VAT bill because of a change in the law.

A Government scheme which exempts memorials from VAT expires on Jan 4, and with work on the £4.9m monument now scheduled to begin in May, tax will be payable on labour costs and professional fees.

Unless the Treasury agrees to waive the fee, it means the Bomber Command Association, which had met its fundraising target thanks largely to the generosity of readers of the Telegraph, will now have to raise more money before the work can begin.

Read more ....

My Comment: Who would have thought that there would be taxes on a memorial to the men and women who gave their lives in the Second World War .... but in England this now appears to be the case.

George Clooney And The Start-Up Phase Of The Satellite Sentinel Project

George Clooney Launches Satellite Monitoring System In Sudan -- The Telegraph

A group founded by American actor George Clooney is teaming up with Google, a U.N. agency and anti-genocide organisations to launch satellite surveillance of the border between north and south Sudan.

The aim is to try to prevent a new civil war after the south votes in a secession referendum next month

Organisers said on Wednesday that Clooney's Not On Our Watch is funding the start-up phase Satellite Sentinel Project that will collect real-time satellite imagery from Sudan and combine it with field analysis from the Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

Read more ....

My Comment: Kudos to George Clooney. He is putting his money up front.

No Kissing At Midnight On New Year`s Day

Comrades in arms: Married couple Neil and Michelle Lewis, who met in the Army, will be spending New Year together at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan

No Kissing At Midnight: Armed Forces Couple Will See In The New Year On Afghanistan Front Line -- The Daily Mail

It's normal for a husband and wife to celebrate New Year together, and they might even get out somewhere new.

But Neil and Michelle Lewis will be marking the end of 2010 on the front line in Afghanistan, where both are serving with the armed forces.

And, although they will welcome 2011 with a bottle of bubbly at their base in Helmand Province, they won't be allowed to kiss on the stroke of midnight as it is banned by the Army.

Read more ....

My Comment:
No kissing permitted .... yeah right.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Britain Gets Ready For A Worse Case Scenario In The Persian Gulf

Britain Forms Plan For Gulf Evacuation In Event Of War With Iran -- The Telegraph

The British armed forces are drawing up contingency plans to evacuate hundreds of thousands of British residents and tourists from Dubai and other Gulf cities in the event of war with Iran.

The Coalition government under David Cameron ordered an immediate review of British military planning in the Gulf after the election last May. The Daily Telegraph can reveal that new proposals are being drawn up to coordinate military activity in the region with local allies hostile to Iran, particularly the United Arab Emirates.

Read more ....

My Comment: Does the British Government know something that they are not telling us?

Afghanistan`s Death Toll Of Foreign Troops Passes 700

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
No comment: Classified United Nations maps reveal the security risk assessment of Afghanistan worsened between March and October this year

Afghanistan Death Toll Passes 700 In Deadliest 12 Months Since Conflict Began -- The Daily Mail

The number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this year has passed 700.

The death toll means it has been the deadliest 12 months for coalition forces since the conflict began in 2001.

The figure includes 102 British servicemen who have died fighting the Taliban in 2010 – just six fewer than the record 108 who were killed last year.

Read more ....

My Comment: The classified maps that show Afghanistan is becoming more dangerous can be seen here.

An Analysis On The Euro Rescue Plan And What It Means For European Unity

As Ireland Flails, Europe Lurches Across the Rubicon -- Wall Street Journal

DEAUVILLE, France—On Oct. 18, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy took a sunset stroll on the beach of this chic casino resort. Five months earlier, Europe had committed more than $100 billion to rescue Greece. Now the Continent's debt crisis was moving on to Ireland, and the German leader worried Berlin would have to foot the bill for this and future bailouts.

"Angela, I'm going to help you," the French president said, before they set out for the boardwalk. The air chilled, so Mr. Sarkozy ordered an aide to fetch Ms. Merkel's coat. The lights of the palatial casino flickered in the distance.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is an excellent summary and analysis on how Europe and the Euro are in the situation that they are in today. But while the politicians and the elites have their priorities, the electorate is having second thoughts.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- December 28, 2010

Breaking Away: Obama’s War On Terror Is Not “Bush Lite.” -- David Cole, New Republic

It is difficult, in these partisan times, to find any common ground in the debate over U.S. counterterrorism policy. But, on one matter, there seems to be almost uniform agreement: that President Obama has largely continued President Bush’s security policies. With the exception of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who faults Obama for suggesting that trying terrorists as criminals may be more appropriate than waterboarding them, everyone from the ACLU to John Bolton appears to agree that Obama has preserved the main features of Bush’s approach to the “war on terror.”

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

America's Dangerous Rush to Shrink Its Military Power -- Mark Helprin, Wall Street Journal

Who Will Be on Top at the End of this Century? -- Edward Bernard Glick, American Thinker

Taliban Recede: Coalition or Winter's Advance? -- Jason Motlagh and Muhib Habibi, Time Magazine

Iraq's precarious prospects -- Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer

Japan and South Korea as allies someday? -- Clayton Jones, Christian Science Monitor

Little hope for Middle East accord in 2011 -- Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald

Merkel Braces for Election Debacles in 2011
-- Florian Gathmann and Philipp Wittrock, Spiegel Online

Making Sense of the START Debate -- George Friedman, Stratfor

Russia, The World's Largest Dying Power -- Vladimir Ryzhkov, Moscow Times

The Muslim population has grown from 1.65 million to 2.87 million since 2001, say researchers. What does this mean for liberal Britain? -- Damian Thompson, The Telegraph

China's New Missile: A Game Changer? -- IBD Editorial

World News Briefs -- December 28, 2010 (Evening Edition)

After Khordokovsky Verdict, Taking Stock Of Business And Corruption In Russia -- Christian Science Monitor

Russia lashed out Tuesday at Western leaders who voiced their concern over Monday's conviction of Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

There will be no new year's present for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who parlayed Communist Party connections and well-placed friends into Russia's largest post-Soviet fortune before crossing Vladimir Putin seven years ago and ending up in a Siberian labor camp.

Read more ....


UAE considered keeping Hamas hit under wraps: WikiLeaks.

Iraq wants the U.S. out.

Iran says West hostility jeopardizes nuclear talks.

2 suicide bombings kill 19, wound 45 in western Iraq.

U.S. may cut Israel missile shield funds.

Mossad agent 'brought down Egypt's internet' .

Iran hangs man convicted of spying for Israel.


Nobel laureate Liu marks 55th birthday in prison.

US: No way to seal Afghan-Pakistan border.

UN: Afghan security situation deteriorates.

Pakistan govt in turmoil as party to quit Cabinet.

India issues nationwide terror alert.

New ROK drills add to tension on peninsula.


Bashir promises to help Sudan's independent south.

Somali pirates free German chemical tanker.

African leaders arrive in Ivory Coast to deal with political crisis.

Death toll of bomb blasts reaches 80 in Nigeria's Jos. Muslim group claims attacks on two Nigerian cities that killed 86.

Darfur conflict a 'deep concern' for U.N.

S.African police find weapons bound for Somalia.


Basque group makes peace offer.

Belarus gets new Prime Minister amid growing criticism.

'Plot to bomb London Eye': Nine in court accused of planning Christmas terror blitz on the capital's busiest landmarks. U.S. Embassy in London was terror target.

Ice and blackouts strand thousands at Moscow airports.

Cops say link between Italian, Greek anarchists.

Russian leaders argue about Soviet model.

Former Russian tycoon is again convicted.


Gallup poll: Top 5 men and women admired by Americans.

Cold snap freezes Florida citrus.

Stranded by trains, planes after Northeast storm.

No police in Mexico town after last officer kidnapped.

Mexican request for U.S. help in drug war detailed.

Strike over massive Bolivia fuel price rises begins.


Netherlands releases 11 of 12 Somali terror suspects.

Somali insurgents: Obama must convert to Islam or attacks on U.S. will come.

16 killed in four U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

Shabaab calls on al Qaeda to 'expand the East Africa jihad'.


Apple sued over apps privacy issues; Google may be next.

US blue-chip stocks hit 2010 closing high, led by Chevron.

Non-US banks gain from Fed crisis fund.

U.S. economy: Confidence falls on concern over jobs.

New global banking rules proposed on bankers' pay.

Where are the jobs? For many companies, overseas.

Euro zone reform does not go far enough: ECB's Mersch.

President Of The Ivroy Coast Refuses To Step Down

Ivory Coast President Toughens Stance -- Wall Street Journal

The incumbent president of Ivory Coast said Tuesday that his government would cut diplomatic ties with countries that follow a call issued by his opponent for the removal of the country's ambassadors.

The announcement, read on national television by a member of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo's government, came the same day three West African leaders arrived in Ivory Coast in an attempt to break a monthlong political stalemate between Mr. Gbagbo and his rival, Alassane Ouattara.

Read more ....

More News On The Crisis In The Ivory Coast

West Africa delegation tells Gbagbo he must go
-- Yahoo News/AP
More talks needed in ICoast crisis: ECOWAS envoys -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Ivory Coast's Gbagbo faces West African ultimatum -- Yahoo News/AFP
African Presidents Urge Gbagbo to Resign -- Voice of America
Ivory Coast: Africa trio hold crisis talks with leaders -- BBC
Ivory Coast's incumbent president locked in crucial negotiations -- The Telegraph
Three West African presidents try to convince incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to step down -- BBC
Gbagbo Claims He Is 'True President' Of Ivory Coast -- RTT News
UN says crowd attacked peacekeepers in Ivory Coast -- Reuters

Threats Is The Order Of The Day On The Korean Peninsula

S. Korean President Faces Conflicting Pressures As He Toughens N. Korea Response -- Washington Post

SEOUL - The latest provocations from North Korea and the resulting rightward swing in South Korean public opinion have transformed South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's strategy for dealing with the peninsula's troublemaker. The old method: Act with caution. The new method: Get tough.

Lee's shift in thinking has prompted modest but growing concern in the Obama administration, where officials worry that an overly aggressive South Korea could become a liability in its own right.

Read more ....

More News On The Tensions On The Korean Peninsula

South Korea Leader Sends North a Message -- New York Times
South Korea's Lee says unity vital to counter North -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Today in unverifiable North Korea news -- Foreign Policy
South Korean president ramps up aggressive stance towards North -- The Telegraph
N.Korean troops' new uniform alarms S.Korea -- AFP
North Korean soldiers boast of Yeonpyeong Island attack -- L.A. Times
South Korea, China defense chiefs to meet -- UPI
Report: S. Korean, Chinese defense ministers to meet next year -- CNN
What’s wrong with Seoul-Beijing ties? -- Korea Times
What's North Korea's next move? Perhaps a nuclear weapons test. -- Christian Science Monitor
Visitors See North Korea Still Stunted by Its Isolation -- New York Times
Analysts: NKorean provocations to increase in 2011 -- Yahoo News/AP

Russian Justice At Work

Russia Rejects US, European Criticism of Khodorkovsky Conviction -- Voice Of America

Russia has rejected U.S.and European criticism of the embezzlement and money laundering conviction of Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky was a vocal critic of then-President Vladimir Putin before being thrown into jail in 2003. He and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty Monday on charges that could extend their prison sentences.

Read more ....

More News On The Conviction Of Khodorkovsky

Russia rejects criticism of Khodorkovsky's trial -- Yahoo News/AP
Russia accuses West of meddling in Khodorkovsky trial -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Russia tells West 'mind own business' over tycoon -- Yahoo News/AFP
Russia attacks foreign critics over Mikhail Khodorkovsky guilty verdict -- The Telegraph
Russia hits out over Khodorkovsky verdict -- The Guardian
Yukos guilty verdict fails to surprise Russian media -- BBC
U.S. long concerned by Khodorkovsky trial, cables on WikiLeaks show -- CNN
Khodorkovsky verdict reading to continue on Wednesday -- RIA Novosti

My Comment: I cannot say that I am surprised by this trial and verdict. Many of Russia`s original capitalists took advantage of the fall of the Soviet Union, and what we are witnessing now is the politics of envy and revenge at work. In fact .... if a poll was done in Russia today on Khodorkovsky`s trial, the mass majority of Russians would believe he was guilty regardless of the evidence.

China's Anti-Carrier Missile Is Raising Alarm Bells In Washington

U.S. Navy flight deck personnel prepare a San Diego Coast Guard HH-60 helicopter for launch at dawn on the flight deck aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, Pacific Ocean, Dec. 15, 2008. The helicopter participated in a rescue in which an injured sailor was evacuated to Lincoln and stabilized before being flown to San Francisco for treatment. The USS Lincoln is under way conducting training and carrier qualifications. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class James R. Evans

China Missile May Cause Power Shift -- Financial Times

A new Chinese anti-ship missile that will significantly alter the balance of military power in the Pacific is now operational, according to a senior US commander.

Admiral Robert Willard, the top US commander in the Pacific, said the Chinese ballistic missile, which is designed to threaten US aircraft carriers in the region, had reached “initial operational capability”.

Read more

More News On China's Anti-Carrier Missile

China moves closer to ruling the waves with a ballistic missile that can sink an aircraft carrier -- The Daily Mail
China has carrier-killer missile, U.S. admiral says -- Washington Times
China 'stepping up anti-carrier missile tests' -- AFP
China advances missile program -- Herald Sun
China Deploying Carrier-Killing Missiles: Report -- Newsroom America
USN Believes The DF-21D Is Live -- Strategy Page
Head of US Pacific Command says China moving toward deploying anti-carrier missile -- L.A. Times
U.S. commander says China aims to be a 'global military' power --
China’s Aircraft Carrier Killer -- Human Events
China’s Military Surprises -- Jason Miks, The Diplomat

More Details On Britain's Christmas Day Plot Emerge

Christmas Bomb Plot: Nine Men Remanded Over Plan To 'Blow Up Big Ben And Westminster Abbey' -- The Telegraph

Nine alleged terrorists plotted a Christmas bombing campaign targeting sites that included the London Stock Exchange and Big Ben, a court heard.

They are alleged to have carried out reconnaissance missions before deciding on their possible targets.

Police were said to have found a list of six sites, including the full postal address of the Stock Exchange, Boris Johnson’s London mayoral office and the US embassy.

Defendants were seen studying the tower of Big Ben, before inspecting Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Church of Scientology.

Read more ....

More News On Britain's Christmas Day Terror Plot

U.S. embassy in London was a target of UK suspects -- Yahoo News/Reuters
British court holds 9 on US Embassy terror plot -- Yahoo News/AP
Nine remanded in custody over British 'bomb plot' -- Yahoo News/AFP
'Christmas terror plot' suspects are remanded in custody -- The Guardian
Terror suspects in custody over 'pre-Christmas plot' -- BBC
9 charged in British terror case held without bail -- CNN
Prosecutors: Terror Suspects Targeted US Embassy, Big Ben -- Aol News
Nine terrorism suspects appear in London court -- L.A. Times

Monty Python's Take On DADT

Hat Tip:
Theo Spark

Remembering The CIA's Fallen

Photo: Matthews was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery alongside veterans of other wars. Photograph by Matthew Worden

Silent Stars -- Washingtonian

A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed seven of the CIA’s own, including one of its best terrorist trackers. New details about Jennifer Matthews—and her secretive life—provide an inside look at a bloody and unfinished war.

When you die, if you’ve lived a good life, people will grieve. Your family and friends will meet in a church or a synagogue or a funeral home to pay their respects. At some point, an announcement will appear in a local paper. The news of your passing will spread. Eulogies may pop up on the Internet from long-forgotten friends. Your death, in other words, won’t be a solitary event.

When Jennifer Lynne Matthews—a mother of three from Fredericksburg, Virginia—died, there was no such public mourning. For the outside world, the tributes were very brief. Her family members were unwilling to share their memories. No obituary was written. And yet her death was noted by some of the nation’s most powerful officials—including the President—and her life was saluted with a star on a memorial wall.

Read more ....

My Comment: The other CIA names who were killed in this attack can be found here.

Multiple U.S. Drone Missile Strikes In Pakistan Being Reported

US Predators Strike Again In North Waziristan -- Long War Journal

US Predators struck again today in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, launching two airstrikes in an area right along the border with Afghanistan.

Both strikes took place in the Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan. In the first strike, the unmanned Predators or the more deadly Reapers launched missiles at two compounds in the village of Ghulam Khan, killing five people.

The second strike targeted vehicles in the nearby village of Nawab. The Predators made two passes at a group of vehicles. Ten Taliban fighters were reported killed.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Drone Strikes In Pakistan

Suspected US Drones Kill 6 in Pakistan
-- Voice of America
US drone kills 5 militants in Pakistan: officials -- AFP
Suspected US Drone Strike Kills Seven In Pakistan -- RTT News
12 killed in U.S. drone strike in Pakistan -- Xinhuanet
Pakistani officials: Latest suspected drone attack kills 10 -- CNN
Pakistan: suspected US drone strike against Taliban kills 18 -- The Guardian
25 killed in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan -- Xinhuanet

U.S. Aid To Israel's Missile Shield To Be Cut

Iran tests the Sajjil-2 missile with a range of 1,200 miles at an undisclosed location on December 16, 2009. The missile has a range to reach Israel and parts of southeastern Europe. UPI

U.S. May Cut Israel Missile Shield Funds -- UPI

TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Israel's increasingly troubled missile defense shield has taken another knock with media reports that budgetary problems could force the U.S. administration to delay funding for the system still being developed by Israel's defense industry.

The aid could be put back several months, the liberal Haaretz daily reports.

That's likely to heighten Israeli concerns over the vulnerability of the country's cities at a time when the Jewish state faces the growing threat of missile attack on an unprecedented scale from almost every quarter.

Read more ....

My Comment: The UPI puts the blame for these funding cuts on the Republicans .... which does not make sense since the Democrats still have huge majorities in both the Senate and Congress. The real reason is probably more deeper and more political between the White House and Netanyahu's government and their disagreements on advancing the Peace Process.

With The Passage Of START, The Attention Is Now On The Details

US President Barack Obama, with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, delivers remarks during a bilateral meeting at the APEC summit in Singapore, 15 November 2009. Photo from Novinite

START Has Passed, But Tactical Arms Remain An Issue -- Washington Post

What to do about Russia's overwhelming advantage in tactical nuclear weapons was among several tough issues for the Obama administration that emerged from the Senate debate on the new nuclear treaty.

Although public opinion was not a factor in the New START debate - polls showed overwhelming support for the arms-reduction agreement - questions about President Obama's toughness when it comes to Moscow were repeatedly raised, previewing a guaranteed GOP issue in the 2012 election.

Read more ....

My Comment: The key sentence in this Washington Post story is the following ....

Talking to reporters last week, a State Department official seemed to be trying to quell any expectation of quick progress on the issue of tactical weapons.

The White House is now admitting that they are unsure on what will be Russia's response to eliminating their tactical nuclear arsenal. Well .... if the Russian media is any barometer on Russian political opinion .... the bottom line is they see no reason why they should proceed with talks.

But my gut tells me that they will attend talks if Missile Defense is offered on the table. To get them to the table .... I would not be surprised if President Obama offers it to them.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- December 28, 2010

FORTIFIED OUTPOST - Active duty and reserve component U.S. Navy Seabees secure and fortify a remote combat outpost on the eastern edge of Khavejeh Molk, Afganistan, Dec. 13, 2010. The village is located approximately 25 miles north of Kandahar and is being used as a patrol base for the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Michael B. Watkins

Iran Seen Providing More Training, Weapons To Afghan Insurgents -- Washington Examiner

The recent arrest of a Taliban fighter suspected of trafficking weapons from Iran to Afghanistan comes at the end of a year in which Iran greatly increased its efforts to disrupt the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, military and intelligence officials say.

Over the past year, military officials have uncovered evidence of Iran training Afghan insurgents to make less detectable bombs out of plastic and supplying them with automatic rifles and other small arms. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has also tutored Taliban sympathizers in guerrilla warfare tactics.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Revealed: The classified maps that show Afghanistan is becoming more dangerous... with number of high risk areas spreading -- The Daily Mail
UN charts escalation of violence in Afghanistan -- The Telegraph
Afghan Security Deteriorates -- Wall Street Journal
Coalition Reports Progress in Afghanistan, UN Data Paint Bleaker Picture -- Voice of America

Explosion kills 3 in northern Afghan province -- Xinhuanet
Taliban car bomb kills three in Kandahar -- AFP
Car Bomb Kills 1 and Hurts 26 Near Afghan Police Station -- New York Times
10 militants killed in Afghanistan -- Press TV (Iran)

NATO, Afghan officials offer conflicting accounts of deadly raid in Kabul -- Washington Post
Coalition, Afghans split over Kabul raid -- Washington Post
NATO goals in Afghanistan doomed to failure if night raids continue - -Xinhuanet
Medvedev signs Afghan transit deal with France into law -- RIA Novosti

Round Table: Afghanistan's Political Breakdown -- CBS News
Taliban Recede: Coalition or Winter's Advance? -- Time Magazine
Afghan war to escalate in 2011 -- Hindustan Times
Pondering A 'Plan B' In Afghanistan -- Rachel Martin, NPR
Afghanistan War: making counterinsurgency work -- Stephanie Gaskell, Global Post
Obama’s Afghanistan Review: A Perspective From Pakistan -- Shabana Fayyaz, Eurasia Review

World News Briefs -- December 28, 2010

Airline Passengers Grapple With Days-Long Delays In Getting Home -- CNN

New York (CNN) -- While forecasters predict improving weather conditions in the Northeast for Tuesday, the news might be of little solace to the thousands of airline passengers who have been stranded since the holiday weekend -- and, in some cases, will still have to wait several more days before going home.

Zarmeen Hussain and her family knew their flight home to New Jersey -- scheduled for Monday evening -- might get canceled. But what they didn't expect was a delay of four days.

Read more ....


Iran says West hostility jeopardizes nuclear talks.

2 suicide bombings kill 19, wound 45 in western Iraq.

U.S. may cut Israel missile shield funds.

Mossad agent 'brought down Egypt's internet' .

Iran hangs man convicted of spying for Israel.


UN: Afghan security situation deteriorates.

Pakistan govt in turmoil as party to quit Cabinet.

India issues nationwide terror alert.

New ROK drills add to tension on peninsula.


African leaders arrive in Ivory Coast to deal with political crisis.

Death toll of bomb blasts reaches 80 in Nigeria's Jos. Muslim group claims attacks on two Nigerian cities that killed 86.

Darfur conflict a 'deep concern' for U.N.

S.African police find weapons bound for Somalia.


'Plot to bomb London Eye': Nine in court accused of planning Christmas terror blitz on the capital's busiest landmarks. U.S. Embassy in London was terror target.

Ice and blackouts strand thousands at Moscow airports.

Cops say link between Italian, Greek anarchists.

Russian leaders argue about Soviet model.

Former Russian tycoon is again convicted.


Stranded by trains, planes after Northeast storm.

No police in Mexico town after last officer kidnapped.

Mexican request for U.S. help in drug war detailed.

Strike over massive Bolivia fuel price rises begins.


Somali insurgents: Obama must convert to Islam or attacks on U.S. will come.

16 killed in four U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

Shabaab calls on al Qaeda to 'expand the East Africa jihad'.


New global banking rules proposed on bankers' pay.

Where are the jobs? For many companies, overseas.

Euro zone reform does not go far enough: ECB's Mersch.