Saturday, April 30, 2011

Editor's Note

Taking the rest of the day off for some badly needed R&R. Regular blogging will return later tonight.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- April 30, 2011

PANJWA'I PATROL - U.S. Special Operations service members and Afghan National Army commandos patrol a village during a clearing operation in the Panjwa'i district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 25, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel P. Shook

Afghanistan: Taliban Announce Spring Offensive -- BBC

The Taliban have announced the start of a spring offensive across Afghanistan.

In a statement, the group said the fighting would start on Sunday, targeting foreign troops as well as Afghan security forces and officials.

It warned civilians to stay away from public gatherings, military bases, government buildings and convoys.

Meanwhile initial findings from a Nato inquiry into a deadly attack at Kabul airport on Wednesday suggest the gunman was not connected to the Taliban.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Taliban announce beginning of spring offensive -- Yahoo News/AP
Taliban warns of spring offensive -- L.A Times
Taliban declares 'spring offensive' -- Al Jazeera
Taliban announce spring offensive in Afghanistan -- Vancouver Sun/AFP
Afghan Taliban declare start to spring offensive -- Reuters
NATO dismisses Taliban offensive as propaganda -- AP

Taliban 'great escape' tunnel had spotlights -- AFP
The Taliban jailbreak story has far too many holes -- Belfast Telegraph
Afghan warden, officials held in Taliban escape -- SFGate
Arrests made in Afghan jailbreak -- CNN

Afghanistan War Report Cites Progress by Troops
-- New York Times
Report Touts Progress in Afghanistan War --
Pentagon report sees 'fragile' gains in Afghanistan -- L.A. Times
Pentagon reports ‘tangible progress’ in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
Report says Afghan war showing progress -- Washington Times
Taliban Routed from Key Afghan Strongholds, Says Pentagon -- Voice of America
Pentagon's rosy report of Afghanistan war raises questions -- Christian Science Monitor
Afghan War Progress At Risk From Corruption, Training Lags -- Bloomberg

Kabul AF Deaths Worst Since Khobar Towers --
NATO says 8 U.S. troops were armed when Afghan pilot killed them -- L.A. Times
Remembering the victims of Kabul airport shooting -- Stars And Stripes

Will the Afghan army ever stand up and fight? -- Michael F. Walker, Washington Post
Obama’s Russian lessons: How the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan -- Artemy Kalinovsky, Washington Post

World News Briefs -- April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding Honeymoon: William And Kate Leave For Honeymoon By Helicopter -- The Telegraph

Married life began for newlyweds William and Kate today when they left London for a mystery destination.

Prince William and his new wife Kate Middleton left Buckingham Palace by helicopter this morning.

It is expected that they will first travel to one of the royal residences in Scotland, possibly Balmoral, where both the Queen and the Prince of Wales have private homes they could use.

Read more ....


Syrian forces kill 62, U.S. tightens sanctions. U.S. imposes sanctions on Syria’s intelligence service, security officials. Syria to bury dead as activists vow more protests.

Saleh 'to sign' Yemen deal amid unrest.

Iran's president asked to show obedience to leader.

Israeli official: We are troubled by developments in Egypt.

Half of Israelis back recognition of Palestinian state.


Criticism up on Japan PM's handling of nuke crisis.

US 'not withholding food aid from North Korea'.

Thai, Cambodian troops break cease-fire. 45,200 Cambodian evacuees flee home due to clashes with Thailand.

India, Pakistan agree to enhance trade.


Libya regime offers Misrata rebels amnesty. Muammar Gaddafi calls for ceasefire in Libyan TV address. Libya's Gaddafi calls for negotiation with NATO. Libyan fighting spills into Tunisia.

Political unrest turns bloody in Uganda. Uganda unrest gathers pace despite bloody government crackdown.

Vote in tense central Sudan could shape fates of 2 nations.

Nigerian opposition parties make gains in State houses.


Magical wedding for a Royal bride... and even the vergers were doing cartwheels in the aisle.

Putin fires Russia space chief after mishaps.

Pilgrims crowd into Rome for John Paul II ceremony.

Greek and Spanish economies falter ahead of expected rise in interest rates.


Twister outbreak is second deadliest in US history. Death toll from US tornadoes rises to 350.

Mexico extradites drug kingpin to the U.S.

Mexican military rescues 52 hostages in border city.

Senator cites threat to U.S. food supply.


British man killed in Marrakesh cafe bombing now blamed on Al Qaeda.

Army chiefs from four Sahel countries meet on Qaeda fight.

Al Qaeda suspects to appear in German court. Arrested al-Qaeda suspects allegedly plotting attack in Germany.


U.S. Treasury: China has decreased its holdings of U.S. debt.

EU hits banks with credit default swap probe.

Microsoft profit falls below Apple’s after IPad eats into Windows revenue.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- April 30, 2011

The U.K. Pays The Cost For Carrier Aviation -- DoD Buzz

The Royal Navy’s pending class of two aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales, could end up costing more than double what government officials initially projected, according to a BBC report today. It underscores how big a deal it was for the U.K. to decide to buy F-35C Lightning IIs, as opposed to the delayed B version. When the Brits shifted to the Cs last fall, it was read in Washington as just another blow against the B, but many Americans may not have realized the consequences it would also have in today’s Austerity Britain. The Royal Navy now needs to redesign one or both carriers to accommodate the conventional C models, and that could raise the cost of the ships from £5.2 billion — or about $8.7 billion — to £7 billion, or about $11.7 billion.

Read more ....


Libyan Rebels Already Talking to Defense Contractors -- Defense Tech

Europe's Defense Funding: An Inconvenient Truth -- Ares/Aviation Week

New Satellite Image of Construction at North Korea Nuclear Site -- ISIS

India Rejects Russia's Fighter Jet Bid: Official -- Defense News

Saab Targets Smaller Gripen Orders After Losing Bid for India -- Bloomberg

Indonesian Carrier Killer Comes Out Of Hiding -- Strategy Page

Israel urged to buy U.S. rocket defenses -- Space Daily

How far can upgraded F-15s take us againsts large threats? -- ELP Defens(c)e Blog

Second Sub in 2011 Ordered By U.S. Navy
-- Defense News

Can the U.S. Army Fix Its Broken Acquisition System? -- Defpro

Fire Scout Scoring High Praise -- Information Dissemination

Atlas Air Worldwide Announces Expansion Into Military Passenger Charter Service -- Business Wire

Military: Troop ailments, from backs to breathing, swell -- USA Today

Combat Stress as 'Moral Injury' Offends Marines --

Defense Department’s Vickers is a national security star — again -- Washington Post

Vietnam-era Green Beret finally returns home -- Tampa Bay/AP

Our Elite Schools Have Abandoned Military History -- Peter Berkowitz, Wall Street Journal (a commentary)

What Are Soldiers Reading

Canon Fodder -- Rolf Potts, The New Yorker

When allegations surfaced that details in Greg Mortenson’s memoir “Three Cups of Tea” had been fabricated, some reports noted that the book, a best-seller about doing good works in Central Asia, is “required reading” for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. These reports were referring to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center’s Pre-Deployment Afghanistan Reading List, which (in addition to cultural field guides and counter-insurgency manuals) recommends novels such as Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and George MacDonald Fraser’s “Flashman.”

Read more

My Comment: If I had a choice, I would read "Starship Troopers" .... but that is just me.

Asia Will Be Heart of U.S. Security Policy

Michele Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Photo from Charlie Rose

Engagement, Partnerships Must Guide U.S. Asia Policy -- Defense News

The United States must find new ways to engage China and India, two major stakeholders in Asian security, and build partnership capability with countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam as the continent continues to transform, according to a senior U.S. Defense Department official.

Speaking at an event in Arlington, Va., April 28, Michèle Flournoy, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, said Asia "sits at the crossroads of a number of emerging threats," including cybersecurity, its role in the global supply chain, climate change and terrorism.

Read more ....

Flournoy: Asia Will be Heart of U.S. Security Policy -- U.S. Department of Defense

My Comment: She has the ear of the President, so what she says has to be listened to very carefully. As to what is my opinion, the 21rts century will be Asia's .... and probably beyond.

What's In A Name?

PLAN navy carrier Shi Lang ( ex Soviet Varyag )

China's New Aircraft Carrier: A Menacing Name? -- Global Post

History speaks loudly in Asia. Heads up, Taiwan!

BOSTON — The Chinese military is putting the finishing touches on its first aircraft carrier, which could set sail later in 2011.

What will its first mission be? Officials aren't saying. But its neighbors worry that the vessel’s putative name may provide a not-so-subtle hint.

The ship is rumored to be called the Shi Lang, after a Qing Dynasty admiral who in 1681 conquered the Kingdom of Tungning — a territory better known today as Taiwan.

Read more

My Comment:
In China .... there are no coincidences. The name will be chosen to make a message, and being China's first aircraft carrier, that name will be deliberately chosen to make a worldwide message.

Picture Of The Day

LOADING UP - U.S. Special Forces team members with Special Operations Task Force South board two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters following a clearing operation in the Panjwa'i district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 25. 2011. The operation, led by Afghan commandos resulted in the removal of Taliban propaganda material and three suspected insurgents detained. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel P. Shook

How Mortars Are Made

Hat Tip: Defense Tech

What Will Be The Impact Of Having General Petraeus At The CIA

Petraeus To The CIA: Surge Superintendent To Spearhead Spooks -- The Economist

BIG personnel changes are afoot for President Obama's national-security lineup. Leon Panetta, currently director of the CIA, will move into the cabinet seat about to be vacated by Robert Gates, the secretary of defence. Meanwhile Mr Panetta's plum CIA gig will go to General David Petraeus, currently America's head honcho in Afghanistan. Mr Obama's decision to make George Bush's favourite general the CIA's new helmsman brings home the remarkable, and to many of us the deeply disappointing, continuity between the Bush and Obama's adminstrations' approaches to national security and war. Installing the architect of the Iraq surge in Langley raises several worries. As Glenn Greenwald observes:

One reason why it's so valuable to keep the CIA under civilian control is because its independent intelligence analyst teams often serve as one of the very few capable bureaucratic checks against the Pentagon and its natural drive for war.

Read more

More News On General Petraeus Being Appointed To Run the CIA

CIA's new boss once a customer of its spy efforts -- AP
Petraeus may shake up CIA: 'He doesn't suffer fools' -- MSNBC/AP
Petraeus Makes Quick Trip to Washington -- Wall Street Journal
For Petraeus, first impressions at CIA will be critical -- Washington Post
New CIA chief David Petraeus' possible new critic: himself -- L.A. Times
Gen. Petraeus to move from Afghanistan war command to CIA, step onto political stage -- Canadian Press
Bringing Petraeus to C.I.A. Offers Benefits for Obama -- The Caucus/New York Times
In Petraeus, a CIA pick with political heft -- Reuters
Petraeus' war legacy befits his future post at CIA -- USA Today
Analysis: Petraeus' CIA move raises awkward questions -- Reuters
Could Petraeus be too shiny for the CIA? -- Reuters
Petraeus to the CIA: good news for Barack Obama, bad news for America -- Peter Oborne, The Telegraph

Fallen USMC Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers Returns Home To Brandon MS.

From Small Wars Journal:

Staff Sergeant Jason Rogers, USMC, returned home Thursday, 14 April 2011, his body borne upon a sea of waving American flags and hands held tightly in salute for the Brandon, MS Marine killed in Afghanistan earlier this month.

The video is MHP Trooper Elmo Townsend's view as his dash cam recorded the escort from Airport Road and along U.S. 80, as hundreds of onlookers gathered to pay their respects.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Russia Outlines Its Vision Of Missile Defense

ABM. Photo: RIA Novosti

Russia Outlines Its Vision Of European Missile Shield -- RIA Novosti

Commander of Russian Space Forces Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko outlined on Friday Russia's proposals for the future Eur missile defense network.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called Euro missile shield during the Russia-NATO Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability.

Read more ....

More News On Russia's Views On European Missile Defense

Russia ready to unfold anti-missile umbrella over eastern Europe -- Xinhuanet
Russian ABM shield ready to cover Eastern Europe -- Voice of Russia
Russia, U.S. to hold intensive consultations on European missile defense in Brussels -- Kyiv Post

If Losing, Would Gaddafi Use WMDs?

The question of arming the rebellion in Libya has divided the international community Photo: REUTERS

Col Gaddafi Still Has Quarter Of Chemical Weapons Stockpile -- The Telegraph

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi still has a quarter of his stockpile of chemical weapons and is ready to use mustard gas in a "desperate" fight to the death, a senior Libyan rebel military commander claimed yesterday.

General Abdul Fatah Younis, who was Col Gaddafi's interior minister before defecting to the opposition and is now the rebel army's chief of staff, gave the warning as he pleaded for Nato allies to arm the rebels with heavy weapons, including helicopters and anti-tank missiles, to defend the besieged city of Misurata.

He predicted the Libyan dictator would "never accept retreat" and would be ready to use chemical weapons in a last stand against rebels or the civilian population.

Read more ....

My Comment: A part of me tells me that while he would be prepared to use WMDs, his sons would veto him. Wishful thinking on my part .... I hope not.

Border Clashes Continue Between Thailand And Cambodia

Thai army tanks travel on a road near the Thai-Cambodia border in Surin province April 28, 2011. (Sukree Sukplang/Courtesy Reuters)

Thai-Cambodia Ceasefire Breaks Down -- Al Jazeera

Border skirmishes continue for an eighth day as both sides accuse the other of breaking a short-lived truce.

A brief ceasefire between Thailand and Cambodia has broken down, shattering hopes for a quick end to the border conflict as the two sides exchanged fire for an eighth day.

Field commanders agreed to the truce in a meeting at the disputed border on Thursday. But Cambodian Colonel Suos Sothea said the Thai army fired artillery shells into Cambodia again on Friday and small arms fire crackled anew around the Ta Krabey temple, which lies in a disputed zone along the frontier.

"We cannot trust the Thais," he said. "Yesterday they said they'd stop fighting and now they are attacking us again."

The death toll since the clashes has risen to 16.

Read more ....

More News On The Border Clashes Between Thailand And Cambodia

Thai-Cambodia clashes resume despite truce -- BBC
Thai-Cambodia border clashes resume -- UPI
Soldier and civilian killed in fresh fighting -- Asia One
Thai soldier dies as ceasefire with Cambodia breached -- Reuters
Cambodia Seeks Court Ruling on Dispute With Thailand -- Voice of America
Thai-Cambodian border dispute heads to Hague as commanders meet again -- Christian Science Monitor
Domestic issues fuel Thai-Cambodian spats -- Asia Times
Can Thailand and Cambodia Step Back from the Brink? -- Joshua Kurlantzick, Council On Foreign Relations
Thailand and Cambodia: The Endgame? -- Joshua Kurlantzick, Council On Foreign Relations
Thailand and Cambodia clash: The guns that won’t fall silent -- The Economist

Death Of An African Warlord

Coulibaly had refused to surrender when government troops seized the Abobo neighbourhood on Wednesday [AFP]

Ibrahim Coulibaly: Ivory Coast's Serial Coup-Plotter -- BBC

The death of one of Ivory Coast's most charismatic commanders and serial coup-plotters, Ibrahim Coulibaly, eliminates one of the main threats to the new government.

But the offensive against Mr Coulibaly, nicknamed "IB" and recently self-promoted to a general, has shocked many who credit him with playing a key role in bringing the new President, Alassane Ouattara, to power.

The Ivorian ministry of defence has confirmed his death, along with six fellow fighters, after an offensive against his headquarters in the PK-18 district on the northern edge of Abidjan.

Read more ....

More News On The Death Of Ivorian Warlord Ibrahim Coulibaly

Ivorian warlord's death: suicide or assassination? -- Yahoo News/AP
Ivory Coast Troops Kill Powerful Warlord -- Wall Street Journal
Ivorian warlord 'beaten, then shot' -- Press Association
Pro-Ouattara militia leader killed by president's forces -- CNN
Ivory Coast insurgent militia leader killed -- Reuters
Ivory Coast militia leader killed -- Al Jazeera
Ivory Coast militia leader Coulibaly killed: spokesman -- Sydney Morning Herald

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- April 29, 2011

Anti-government protests have spread across Syria despite weeks of government repression [Reuters]

How America Must Respond to the Massacre in Syria -- Marco Rubio, Foreign Policy

It’s time for President Obama to back up his rhetoric with firm action. The first step: Recall the U.S. ambassador from Damascus.

In recent days, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has used its army to murder hundreds of innocent civilians as part of a vicious campaign of violence against unarmed Syrian demonstrators. What we are witnessing in Syria is another tragic outrage in the Middle East that requires immediate condemnation backed by specific measures from the United States and the international community. U.S. President Barack Obama needs to make clear whose side America is on, back up our rhetoric with action, and clearly articulate why Syria matters to the United States.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

President Assad’s Crackdown -- New York Times editorial

Syria's instability is its best defence against interference -- Alan Philps, The National

Could the Assad regime fall apart? -- The Economist

Welcome to Hezbollahland: An Interview With Michael J. Totten -- Kevin Sullivan, Real Clear World

Fatah and Hamas: Tectonic plates start to shift -- Guardian editorial

China wants to change the conversation. Let’s not. -- William J. Dobson, Washington Post

Beijing's troubling South China Sea policy -- Michael Richardson, Japan Times

A more interventionist ASEAN is needed -- Awidya Santikajaya, Jakarta Post

Time to wise up on North Korea -- Donald Kirk, Asia Times

Obama’s flawed approach to fighting terrorism
-- Jeff Sessions, Washington Post

A new national security team -- Washington Post editorial

Debt limit danger delayed till September? -- Conn Carroll, Washington Examiner

A world without oil -- Steve Hallett and John Wright,

World News Briefs -- April 29, 2011 (Evening Edition)

Royal Wedding Passes Without A Hitch As Kate And William Seal It With A Kiss -- The Guardian

Considering the huge guest list, the crowds, and the massed ranks of cameras, the royal wedding proved an intimate affair

Considering the size of the audience, the two sets of trumpeters, two choirs and several of the most senior clerics in the land, the presence of the entire British royal family, 45 crowned heads from around the world and a guest list stretching to nearly 2,000, it was quite an intimate wedding. And, confounding all the understandable fears, nerves and precautions, it went off without a hitch.

Read more ....


55 dead on Syria 'rage day': sources. Syrian rights group says 42 killed nationwide.
Syria Baath Party members quit; military defections reported. Assad's neighbors watch worriedly.

Bahrain: Four protesters sentenced to death by firing squad.

Ahmadinejad reportedly not showing up for work, sparking rumors of a possible power shift.

Yemeni protesters decry Saleh transition deal. Yemen's Saleh threatens to quit transition deal.

Israel rejects Palestinian unity government with Hamas. US to reassess Palestinian aid after Hamas-Fatah deal. Surprise Palestinian unity deal challenges Israel.

In northern Iraq, attacks kill at least 12.

Syria was constructing nuclear reactor, IAEA chief suggests.


Kim prepared for North-South summit, Carter says.

New wave of tainted food in China and how inflation could make it worse.

Thai military: Deadly fighting resumes at Thai-Cambodian border. Thai, Cambodia clashes continue despite cease-fire.

U.S. military dismayed by delays in 3 key development projects in Afghanistan.

Jimmy Carter criticizes U.S., South Korea for refusing food aid to North.

Pakistan tests ballistic missile.


Latest military activity in Libya. Pro-Gaddafi forces clash with Tunisian military. Libyan government forces make another push for embattled Misrata. Libya: Col Gaddafi still has quarter of chemical weapons stockpile.

Ivorian warlord's death: suicide or assassination?

Over 800 inmates escape Tunisian prisons.

Uganda riots reach capital as anger against President Museveni grows. Rioting breaks out in Ugandan capital.

Sudan: Bashir threatens south over Abyei.

Zimbabwe elections scheduled for this year may be delayed, Herald reports.

Egypt shows signs of new assertiveness abroad.


Watch the British royal wedding live. (ABC News) Britain celebrates monarchy as Kate, William wed. Royal Wedding coverage from Reuters. William and Kate marry as world watches.

Prince William's choice of uniform is a tribute to those serving in Afghanistan.

Photo gallery of Royal wedding.

Spain's jobless rate tops 21% as all major sectors lose jobs.

Belgium moves closer to banning burqa in public.

Putin eclipses Medvedev in run-up to 2012 election.

Earth to Greece: It’s over (a commentary).


Storm deaths hit 318; Obama sees damage up close. Survivors picking up pieces from deadly twisters.

Peru election race tightens to tie.

Late leftist surge spices up Canadian election.

Mexico extradites reputed drug lord Arellano Felix.

Obama announces cabinet, Afghanistan changes.

Drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia allegedly supplied with weapons from Honduran military.

Self-rule on the rise in Mexico's prisons.


Germans arrest 3 al-Qaida suspects.

Terrorists discover uses for Twitter.

Morocco official: cafe bomb matches al-Qaida style. Morocco probes deadly Marrakesh cafe blast.

Al-Shabaab terrorists on the offensive in Somalia.


Apple juggernaut sends ripples through tech world.

Growth data cast doubt over U.S. recovery.

Wal-Mart: Our shoppers are 'running out of money'.

Silver hits record near $50, first time since 1980.

CBS Reporter Lara Logan Recounts A ‘Merciless’ Assault

Lara Logan Breaks Silence On Cairo Assault -- CBS News

Lara Logan feared she would die a "torturous death" during a sexual assault and beating she suffered at the hands of a violent mob in Egypt's Tahrir Square. In her first television interview since her ordeal two months ago, the CBS News chief foreign correspondent and "60 Minutes" reporter reveals what happened to her for the first time in an interview conducted by Scott Pelley.

Logan's story will be broadcast on "60 Minutes" this Sunday, May 1 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Read more ....

More News On Lara Logan

'They raped me with their hands': Reporter Lara Logan reveals terrifying details of mob sex attack in Egypt -- Daily Mail
CBS' Lara Logan Thought She Would Die During Sexual Assault in Egypt -- ABC News
On ‘60 Minutes,’ Logan describes assault in Cairo -- Washington Post
CBS Reporter Recounts a ‘Merciless’ Assault -- New York Times
CBS' Lara Logan describes being sexually assaulted in Egypt's Tahrir Square -- CNN
CBS reporter Lara Logan recounts assault in Egypt -- Reuters
Lara Logan Will Talk About Her Sexual Assault To ‘60 Minutes,’ And Then Never Again -- Forbes
CBS reporter Lara Logan describes sexual attacks -- USA Today
Lara Logan Speaks Out: The 60 Minutes Interview About Her Sexual Assault in Cairo (VIDEO) -- Slate

Hamas And Fatah Agree To A Unity Government

Abbas Seeks To Allay Fears On Accord With Hamas -- Washington Post

RAMALLAH, West Bank — A day after his Fatah movement initialed a reconciliation agreement with militant Islamist group Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sought Thursday to counter warnings from Israel and suggestions in Washington that the accord would undermine peace efforts.

Meeting at his headquarters with a group of Israeli businessmen and former security chiefs advocating an Israeli peace initiative, Abbas gave assurances that the Palestine Liberation Organization, which he heads, would still be responsible for handling negotiations.

Read more ....

More News On The Fatah - Hamas Accord

Palestinian Rivals Agree to End Feud -- FOX News
Egypt Invites Palestinian Factions to Sign Unity Deal -- Voice of America

US to Reassess Palestinian Aid After Hamas-Fatah Deal -- Voice of America
PA warned aid at stake if it unites with Hamas -- Washington Times
US could reassess aid to Palestinians -- Stars And Stripes/AP

Israel rejects Palestinian unity government with Hamas -- BBC
Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas reach accord seen as obstacle for peace with Israel -- Washington Post
Some Palestinians Skeptical About New Reconciliation Agreement -- Voice of America
Why Israel and Obama should welcome Hamas-Fatah reconciliation -- Christian Science Monitor
Negotiations: Vindicating Israel -- Jerusalem Post
Analysis: Palestinian unity deal brings with it risks -- Reuters

With The Appointment Of Petraeus To CIA, Tensions Between The U.S. And Pakistan Are Going To Increase

Gen. David H. Petraeus, center, during the White House announcement that he was being named C.I.A. director. The move will give him direct control over drone attacks in Pakistan. Doug Mills/The New York Times

Move to C.I.A. Puts Petraeus in Conflict With Pakistan -- New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The appointment of Gen. David H. Petraeus as director of the Central Intelligence Agency puts him more squarely than ever in conflict with Pakistan, whose military leadership does not regard him as a friend and where he will now have direct control over the armed drone campaign that the Pakistani military says it wants stopped.

Read more ....

My Comment: I have no sympathy for the Pakistani position. They are openly supporting a terrorist group (the Haqqani network) that are killing and maiming U.S./NATO troops and our Afghan allies. If they are not willing to stop these people who are on their own soil .... what can I say .... but be prepare for the consequences. Unfortunately .... U.S. - Pakistan relations are going to go into the toilet even more than where they are now, and the conflict between U.S./NATO/Afghan soldiers and the Taliban are going to increase even more. But there are no good options in this situation .... but the realization that we need someone like Patraeus in the CIA to confront Pakistan when they need to be confronted.

Unrest In Syria -- News Updates April 29, 2011

Protests Reach Heart Of Damascus Despite Regime Violence [Video] -- L.A. Times

Tens of thousands fill the streets of cities across Syria -- and for the first time, the capital of Damascus – after weekly prayers to defy the regime of President Bashar Assad. The protests suggest that the use of extreme force has failed and perhaps outraged some on the sidelines.

Reporting from Beirut — Tens of thousands of Syrians poured into the streets of the capital, Damascus, and other cities after weekly prayers Friday, overcoming an official campaign of violence and intimidation to deliver a powerful message of defiance against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Read more ....

More News On The Unrest In Syria

Syrian army units fire on each other as soldiers refuse to attack Friday prayers protesters -- The Daily Mail

32 dead on Syria 'rage day:' activists, ministry -- Yahoo News/AFP
Syrian rights group says 24 killed nationwide -- Yahoo News/AP
Syrian forces kill 15 in Deraa shooting: medic -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Syrian troops open fire on protesters nationwide -- Washington Post
Up to 24 killed in clashes in Syrian cities as thousands protest -- USA Today
'Syrian forces fire into crowds killing at least 24' -- Jerusalem Post
More than 30 killed on Syria 'day of rage' -- Sydney Morning Herald
Massacre in Syria: Dozens killed -- Ynet News
Syrian Forces Shoot at Protesters Trying to Break Siege -- New York Times
Syrian forces shoot at civilians in Deraa -- Al Jazeera
Syrian troops open fire on protesters trying to break Deraa blockade -- The Telegraph
Marchers swarm Damascus after Syrian crackdown -- L.A. Times
Damascus protest largest in Syria unrest-activists -- Reuters

Syria Baath Party members quit; military defections reported -- L.A. Times
Members Of Syria's Baath Party Resign In Protest -- NPR (Audio)

U.S. to announce new Syria sanctions on Friday -- Reuters
EU considers sanctions as Syria crackdown worsens -- Sydney Morning Herald
Germany pushes for tough sanctions against Syria -- Deutsche Welle
'Large agreement' for wide EU sanctions on Syria -- AFP

Inside Syria's torture chambers: 'This regime is brutal but also stupid' -- The Guardian
Prisoners of Assad: What Syria's Detainees Are in for -- Time
Syrian Activists Seek Army Role in Transition -- Wall Street Journal
Syria's Assad regime gets little sympathy from neighbors -- Christian Science Monitor
Bloody Syrian crackdown embarrasses Turkish allies -- CNN
Syria 101: 4 attributes of Assad's authoritarian regime -- Christian Science Monitor

Women Can Now Serve Aboard U.S. Attack Subs

The Los Angeles class fast-attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) returns to Naval Submarine Base New London after a month-long surface transit from Bahrain. (Lt. Patrick Evans/U.S. Navy)

SECNAV: Women Will Serve On Attack Subs -- Navy Times

The Navy’s top civilian said that attack submarines are in the future for both enlisted and commissioned women.

As the first wave of female officers moves through training to report to ballistic and guided-missile submarines in November, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said enlisted women should also have the opportunity to serve on submarines. Additionally, both enlisted women and female officers should be allowed to serve onboard attack submarines, not just the guided-missile and ballistic boats open to them today.

Read more ....

My Comment: You can no longer smoke on a U.S. sub .... and now women can go aboard .... yup .... the times are a changing.

How The Arab Spring Changed President Obama's Foreign Policy

Photo: Obama has said that his foreign-policy ideas defy traditional categories and ideologies. Photograph by Martin Schoeller.

The Consequentialist: How the Arab Spring remade Obama’s foreign policy. -- Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker

Barack Obama came to Washington just six years ago, having spent his professional life as a part-time lawyer, part-time law professor, and part-time state legislator in Illinois. As an undergraduate, he took courses in history and international relations, but neither his academic life nor his work in Springfield gave him an especially profound grasp of foreign affairs. As he coasted toward winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, in 2004, he began to reach out to a broad range of foreign-policy experts––politicians, diplomats, academics, and journalists.

Read more ....

My Comment: Charles Krauthammer has a rebuke to Ryan Lizza's article, and it is here. Ryan Lizza was also interviewed by Charlie Rose last night, and that discussion is here.

What is my take .... last night Ryan Lizza remarked how the term .... "leading from behind" .... is the best way to describe U.S. foreign policy, and that the phrase first came from South Africa's Mandela who embraced it and used it to convince South African authorities to change their way of governing. I cannot deny that, but where I differ from Ryan Lizza is that Mandela had a clear objective and ideology as well as a willing negotiator in South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk. President Obama does not have this clarity of purpose in his foreign policy (with the exception of being critical of past U.S. foreign policy decisions), nor does he have willing allies who will go to bat for him when he needs them. He is a solitary leader on the world stage, and when interests intersect is when other world leaders will talk to him. Charles Krauthammer's analysis is on the money .... and unfortunately for us .... this lack of vision, commitment, and purpose from the White House (and State Department) is severely hurting U.S. foreign policy .... a situation that almost every other country around the world is now taking notice.

North Sudan Threatens South Sudan Over Abyei

Sudan: Bashir Threatens South Over Abyei -- BBC

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has threatened not to recognise the new state of South Sudan if it tries to claim the disputed Abyei region.

South Sudan will become independent in July after deciding in a referendum to split from the north.

Oil-producing Abyei should also have had a vote in January on whether to join north or south, but it was delayed by a dispute over who should vote.

An estimated 1.5 million people died in the two-decade north-south civil war.

Read more ....

More News On The Growing Conflict Between North And South Sudan

No recognition for south Sudan if it claims Abyei: Bashir -- AFP
Sudan May Not Recognize Southern Sudan If It Claims Disputed Abyei Region -- Bloomberg
Sudan's Bashir says disputed Abyei belongs to north -- Reuters
Abyei dispute threatens Sudan's peace deal -- UPI
Sudan President Al-Bashir threatens to wage war in South Kordofan, says Abyei will “remain northern” -- Sudan Tribune
Sudan leader remarks 'inflame' Abyei tensions: US -- AFP
US Criticizes Sudan’s Bashir Over Abyei Comments -- Voice of America
U.S. slams Abyei comments from Sudan's Bashir -- Reuters
U.S. angered by Sudan's comments on peace -- UPI

Inside A Nuclear Silo

Nuclear missile launch teams tether cases containing classified documents to their bodies before heading off to their 24-hour-alert shift in a Montana missile field. Jonathan Torgovnik

Meet The Airmen Who Watch Over America's Nukes—And Await the Unthinkable -- Popular Mechanics

Deep underground in remote locales lies the United States' stockpile of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Though they are icons of the Cold War, ICBMs remain the cornerstone of U.S. nuclear defense, and stand at 99 percent readiness levels decades into their lifetimes. Popular Mechanics descends into a Montana bunker to meet the airmen who stand guard over America's nukes, awaiting the call they hope never to receive.

Read more ....

My Comment: It has cost the U.S. taxpayer almost $1 trillion to have such an arsenal .... an arsenal that we rarely get a chance to peek at (until now).

Libya War News Updates -- April 29, 2011

Libyan Forces Clash with Tunisian Soldiers -- Voice of America

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi clashed with Tunisian soldiers Friday, after crossing the border while pursuing rebel fighters.

Witnesses say Tunisian forces fought back, pushing the pro-Gadhafi soldiers back into Libya.

Libyan forces have been trying to reclaim the border crossing, in the western Wazin region, which was seized by rebels last week.

Read more ....

More News On Libya's Civil War

Libyan forces breach border with Tunisia -- Yahoo News/AP
Pro-Gaddafi forces clash with Tunisian military -- Yahoo News/Reuters
Pro-Gadhafi forces clash with Tunisian military -- Haaretz
Libyan Fighting for Key Border Crossing Spills Into Tunisia -- Bloomberg
Libyan fighting spills into neighboring Tunisia -- Washington Post
Pro-Gaddafi forces flee into Tunisian border town: TAP -- Xinhuanet
Tunisia summons Libyan envoy over incursions -- Reuters

Battles rage at Misrata, Libya border post -- Yahoo News/AFP
Fighting Shows No Signs of Easing in Libyan City of Misrata -- Voice of America
Libyan government forces make another push for embattled Misrata -- CNN
Libya: Nato says Gaddafi tried to mine Misrata harbour -- BBC
Misrata rebel leader pleads for help to topple Gaddafi -- The Guardian
Evacuees flee Misrata for Benghazi -- Xinhuanet
Hundreds dead, bodies in the streets and a city reduced to rubble: Full horror of Misrata siege finally emerges -- The Daily Mail

US says Gadhafi troops issued Viagra, raping victims -- MSNBC/Reuters
Viagra allegations raised amid Libya divisions at UN -- AFP
U.S. Ambassador Alleges Qaddafi Issuing Troops Viagra -- New York Magazine

NATO mulls new plan to strike pro-Gaddafi forces -- Xinhuanet
NATO Says It Is Stepping Up Attacks on Libya Targets -- New York Times

Libya faces potential food crisis unless stocks are replenished soon, UN warns -- UN News Centre
UN says Libya will suffer food crisis within 2 months unless stock replenished -- Canadian Press/AP
Libya at risk of food crisis as domestic clashes continue -- Xinhuanet

US: Libya death toll could be as high as 30,000
-- SFGate/AP
In Egypt, Libyan Refugees Find Tough Conditions -- NPR
Misrata offers painful reality check for West -- Mary Dejevsky, Sunday Independent
Blame Italy for Libya -- Selig S. Harrison, National Interest

Unrest Grows In Uganda

Uganda Riots Over Kizza Besigye's Arrest -- BBC

At least one person has died in riots in Uganda's capital over the treatment of opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

Security forces have fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters burning tyres.

Mr Besigye sought medical treatment after being tear-gassed in his car and bundled roughly into a truck when he was arrested on Thursday.

It was his fourth detention this month for his participation in a "walk-to-work" protest over high prices.

President Yoweri Museveni has said the walking campaign over the rise in the cost of living is illegal.

After his arrest Dr Besigye was charged with inciting violence but released on medical grounds until 2 May.

Read more ....

More News On The Unrest In Uganda

Rioting breaks out in Ugandan capital -- AFP
Fresh Riots Erupt in Uganda -- Wall Street Journal
Ugandan Police Fire Bullets, Tear Gas in Kampala Amid Protests Over Prices -- Bloomberg
Uganda politician's arrest sparks deadly riot -- Al Jazeera
Uganda: Riots Break Out in Kampala, Leaving One Dead --
Ugandan Opposition Leader Arrested Again -- Voice of America
Ugandan opposition leader heads to Kenya for care -- Reuters
In pictures: Uganda riots erupt over Besigye's arrest -- BBC
Both Uganda's protesters and its government draw lessons from Egypt revolution -- Christian Science Monitor
Guest post: Will Uganda's protests play out like Egypt or Libya? -- Michael Wilkerson, Foreign Policy

Afghanistan War News Updates -- April 29, 2011

WADI WATCH - U.S. Army Pfc. Aaron Birmingham keeps on eye on a wadi or dry gully in Andar, Afghanistan, April 21, 2011. Birmingham is an infantryman assigned to the 1st Infantry Division's Company D, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade. The area is known as a Taliban stronghold and is where the unit received small arms fire earlier in the month. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Guffey

Petraeus’s Optimism About Afghanistan Not Shared At CIA -- Foreign Policy

CIA Director Leon Panetta and ISAF Commander Gen. David Petraeus will get new assignments Thursday, with Panetta being nominated to head the Pentagon and Petraeus replacing him at the CIA. But the CIA and the military have completely different assessments of the NATO-led force's progress in Afghanistan, placing Petraeus in charge of a bureaucracy largely skeptical of his optimistic analysis of the war.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Report touts progress in Afghanistan war -- Yahoo News/AP
Afghan violence rises amid troop surge-Pentagon -- Reuters
3 NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan -- RTT News
Air Force Academy professor Phil Ambard killed in Afghanistan -- Denver Post
NATO officers: Taliban planning spate of violence --
Tough summer ahead in Afghanistan, says Joint Chiefs chair -- Government Executive
NATO general: Mass Afghan jailbreak not endangering military gains -- M&C
Karzai considers military draft in Afghanistan instead of all-volunteer army -- Washington Post
To Lead Afghan War, Obama Chooses Marine Known for Swaying Sunnis in Iraq -- New York Times
Next ISAF commander Allen described as an educated, deliberate leader -- Stars And Stripes
How Allen's Time In Iraq May Serve Him In Afghanistan -- NPR (Audio)
Lt. Gen. John Allen to lead in Afghanistan -- Marine Times
U.S. military dismayed by delays in 3 key development projects in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
Funding cuts delay Afghan programs -- UPI
AfPak envoy comes down heavy on Pakistan -- Hindustan Times
‘Pakistan, US will work together to resolve Afghan conflict’ -- Daily Times
Fareed Zakaria on scaling back the U.S. role in Afghanistan -- CNN
Taliban finding clarity as NATO struggles to deliver message -- Reuters