Saturday, June 30, 2012

Editor's Note

Saturday is "chore day" for me. Regular blogging will return tonight.

RAF Bomber Command Memorial Poppy Drop

RAF Bomber Command Memorial Poppy Drop Seen From The Air -- The Telegraph

Camera on-board an RAF Lancaster bomber captures the dropping of thousands of poppies over London as a new memorial to RAF Bomber Command is unveiled.

The poppies filled the London sky line over Green Park following a ceremony to unveil a memorial to tens of thousands of British airmen who died in the Second World War.

The Bomber Command Memorial remembers the sacrifice and bravery of the 55,573 RAF crewmen who lost their lives in the conflict.

Read more ....

World News Briefs -- June 30, 2012

Annan Warns Of Severe Crisis If Syria Unresolved -- Reuters

(Reuters) - International mediator Kofi Annan appealed to world powers to reach unity on a peace plan for Syria on Saturday, including principles for a Syrian-led political transition.

Annan, in opening remarks to a meeting of foreign ministers in Geneva, said the situation could ignite the region and develop into an international crisis if unresolved.

Read more ....


Syria now officially at war, says President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria peace plan in danger of collapse; Annan warns of severe crisis if nations fail at talks. World powers to push Russia on Syria solution.

Syrian forces push into Douma, residents flee. Syrian troops recover rebellious Damascus suburb.

Panetta downplays military buildup on Turkey-Syria border.

New sanctions hit Iran amid diplomatic stalemate.

Yemen: Mines kill 81 in 2 weeks in embattled town.

Palestinian leader Abbas postpones Israel meeting.

UNESCO accepts Church of the Nativity as Heritage site. UNESCO designates Church of the Nativity as endangered site.


U.N. publishes report on North Korea sanctions violations.

Floods leave up to 1.3m homeless in Assam.

Thousands at Japan PM's office decry nuke restart.

Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi returns home after triumphant 2-week tour of Europe.

China's incoming president Xi Jinping's family 'has wealth of hundreds of millions'.


In Tahrir Square, Morsi challenges military, says he’ll seek U.S. release of Sheikh Abdel-Rahman.

Sudan agrees to allow aid in rebel-held border areas.

President al-Bashir feels heat from 'Sudanese Spring'.

Mali Islamists destroy holy Timbuktu sites.

ECOWAS to meet on Mali, Guinea Bissau crises.


In breakthrough, Europe agrees to bail out troubled banks; stock prices soar.

German parliament approves EU bailout fund. Opponents of Europe fiscal pact, permanent rescue fund seek injunctions from top German court.

David Cameron rules out EU referendum.

Russia's Lavrov warns U.S. over human rights law: agency.

Clashes injure dozens as Serbs visit Kosovo battle site.


Mexico seems poised to embrace party it ousted in 2000.

Mexico’s next President won’t slow the drug war.

Mercosur welcomes Venezuela, suspends Paraguay.

Canada growth picture brightens on oil output rebound.

Eastern US braced for searing heat as storms leave two dead. Storms leave millions without power in mid-Atlantic region.

Colombia court: No jail time for possession of cocaine, marijuana for personal use.


Taliban raid Nuristan district.

Next-Gen terror watchers go deep into Al-Qaida, tweet a lot.

U.S. drops charges against Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo.


Stocks soar; Dow posts best June since 1997.

Apple patent case: Samsung Galaxy Nexus banned in US.

Blow to FBI as court rules Dotcom police raid illegal.

McDonald's worker reveals secrets of fast-food giant .

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- June 30, 2012

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief reporters at the Pentagon, June 29, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sun L. Vega

Panetta & Dempsey Slam Sequester, Defend Afghanistan Strategy -- Aol Defense

PENTAGON: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey took the stage together at the Pentagon this afternoon, 12 months after Panetta took office, to urge Congressional action against sequestration and to defend the administration's strategy in Afghanistan.

The normally calm Panetta became audibly emotional as he discussed the sacrifices of the wounded troops he's visited.

Read more


Pentagon, CEOs Team Up to Fight Sequestration Cuts -- Defense News

DoD Reprograms $8B, Pakistan Closure Costs $2.1B -- Defense News

Russia approves plans for NATO base -- UPI

China to lead talks on nuclear definitions -- Reuters

Iran expects to equip Gulf ships with missiles soon -- Reuters

Doubts Cast on Turkey's Story of Jet -- Wall Street Journal

Israeli Coalition Divided on Military Conscription for Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs -- New York Times

U.S., Israeli military drill set for October-November -- Reuters

U.K. battalions with foreign bias face axe in Army cuts -- The Telegraph

Finnish defense minister rejects Russia rhetoric -- Chicago Tribune/Reuters

Russia Grounds SU-27 Fleet After Thursday Crash -- Defense Tech

Qatar keen on $2.5bn US helicopters deal -- Arabian Business

China Caught the U.S. in Manufacturing, High-Tech Weapons Might Be Next
-- Defense Tech

Foreign spying of US companies on the rise, FBI says -- Stars and Stripes/L.A. Times

All 8 Air Force firefighting planes activated -- Stars and Stripes/AP

Wasp To Get Combat System Upgrade, Return to Deployment Schedule -- Defense News

V-22s Cleared For Okinawa And Heads To UK Air Shows -- Aol Defense

Military Radios Join The Internet
-- Strategy Page

US hosts world's largest naval exercises in Hawaii -- Seattle Times/AP

Lockheed workers okay labor contract, end strike -- Reuters

Military looks for ways to save more lives on battlefield -- USA Today

Naval Academy greets record number of female plebes for Class of 2016 -- Stars and Stripes/Baltimore Sun

Bill offers benefits to gay military couples
-- Army Times

Hood shooting suspect again barred from court -- Army Times

Trial dates set for 2 more MTIs at Lackland -- Military Times

In Military Justice System, an All-Powerful Arbiter -- New York Times

Showdown looms in House on measure to end military’s NASCAR sponsorships
-- The Hill

Breaking the cycle of sexual assault in the military
-- Garry Trudeau and Loree Sutton, Washington Post

The Supreme Court defends the right to lie -- Washington Post editorial

Holy Timbuktu Sites Destroyed By Mali Islamists

Mali Islamists Destroy Holy Timbuktu Sites -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Al Qaeda-linked Mali Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes began destroying prized mausoleums of saints in the UNESCO-listed northern city of Timbuktu on Saturday in front of shocked locals, witnesses said.

The Islamist Ansar Dine group backs strict sharia, Islamic law, and considers the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam idolatrous. Sufi shrines have also been attacked by hardline Salafists in Egypt and Libya in the past year.

The attack came just days after UNESCO placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger and will recall the 2001 dynamiting by the Taliban of two 6th-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.

Read more ....

My Comment: Why does this not surprise me.

Lawmakers Retarget ‘Stolen Valor’ Thieves

Lawmakers Retarget ‘Valor’ Thieves After Court Rules Bogus Military Boasts Are Free Speech -- FOX News

A day after the Supreme Court struck down a law that made it a crime to lie about military service, veterans groups and lawmakers are gearing up for another battle.

The nation's top court voted 6-3 on Thursday that the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 infringes upon speech protected by the First Amendment. The law, which was enacted amid the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, targeted those who made bogus claims about receiving the Medal of Honor or other military decorations. The retooled Stolen Valor Act of 2011 wouldn't stop barroom boasting about bogus service, but would take aim at people who benefit financially or otherwise from their phony claims.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am sure the law will be rewritten .... something along the lines of what happens if you impersonate a police officer. But I still believe that an open data base will probably be the best route.

Update: Why Is The Pentagon Unable To Keep Awards Records? -- US News and World Report

25% Of War Deaths Medically Preventable

An Afghan soldier runs past a U.S. Army paratrooper armed with an M249 squad automatic weapon during a firefight with insurgent forces near Joint Security Station Hasan near the village of Spedar in southern Afghanistan's Ghazni province, June 15, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

Study: 25% Of War Deaths Medically Preventable -- Army Times

A new study finds that nearly a quarter of the 4,596 combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011 were “potentially survivable,” meaning that under ideal conditions — and with the right equipment or latest medical techniques — the troops may have had a fighting chance.

But the study also notes that 90 percent of the deaths occurred before the injured reached a medical facility: of the 4,090 troops who suffered mortal wounds on the battlefield, 1,391 died instantly and 2,699 succumbed before arriving at a treatment center.

Read more ....

My Comment: The stat that caught my attention was in the last sentence ....

.... As of June 28, 5,106 U.S. troops have been killed in action in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan according to the Defense Department.

U.S. Navy Caused 'Skyquake' Along San Diego County's Coastline

Navy Says It Caused Mysterious 'Skyquake' -- North County Times

After an initial couldn't-have-been-us denial, it turns out it was the military's fault after all.

A Navy spokesman confirmed late Friday that two Navy F/A-18 fighter jets went "supersonic," rattling doors and windows ---- and nerves ---- like an earthquake along San Diego County's coastline about 12:45 p.m. Friday.

The jets were showing off for about 2,000 family members and invited guests of sailors aboard the Carl Vinson during a daylong family cruise, said Lt. Aaron Kakiel, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces Pacific, at North Island Air Station.

Read more

My Comment: The original story is here. It must have been impressive to experience such a sonic quake .... especially for the spectators who were close.

Friday, June 29, 2012

No U.S. Military Intervention In Mali

US Rules Out Military Intervention In Islamist-Dominated Breakaway Region Of Mali -- The Hill

The State Department's top official for Africa on Friday shot down proposals to reunify the West African country of Mali by force following a rebellion by nomadic Tuaregs and Islamist militants.

The comments by Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson come as several multinational organizations — notably the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) — are discussing the viability of a peacekeeping mission in Mali. A military coup overthrew the country's government in March, and rebel groups in the north grabbed the opportunity to seize control of the northern part of the country and declare an Islamic breakaway state last month.

Read more

Mali Islamists threaten nations that join intervention force -- AFP

My Comment: The people in this region must eventually sort out their differences and conflicts. Throwing in a few hundred U.S. forces .... if not more .... will not resolve their underlying problems.

Picture Of The Day

Navy Capt. Brandon Cordill flies an F/A-18 Hornet over Baltimore, June 15, 2012, during the Star Spangled Sailabration, which coincides with Baltimore Fleet Week 2012. The event commemorates the War of 1812 and the writing of "The Star Spangled Banner.” Cordill, left wingman, is assigned to the the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Johnson

Why Should The US Support A Missile Defense Program That They Are Not Going To Use?

A MEADS launcher on display. (File photo)

Panetta Presses Congress For MEADs Funding -- DoD Buzz

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hopes to save an international missile defense program that the U.S. Army has already decided it will not field.

The Pentagon boss wrote a letter sent June 26 to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, pleading for his support to insert $400.9 million back into the budget to fund the Medium Extended Air Defense System in 2013. Congress has already denied Panetta’s budget request to fund the mobile missile defense system originally designed to replace the Patriot.

Read more ....

More News On Providing Funding For The MEADS Program

U.S. leaders see fallout if joint missile funds nixed -- Reuters
Funds for Lockheed-Led Missile Defense Urged by Panetta -- Bloomberg
Panetta Urges Senate Panel To Back MEADS Funding -- Defense News
Panetta pleads for missile defense dollars -- RT

Ronald Reagan Made Secret Plans To Loan U.S. Warship To Britain If Aircraft Carrier Was Lost During Falklands War

Loan: Mr Reagan would have handed Britain the use of the amphibious warship USS Iwo Jima (pictured) should harm have come to either HMS Invincible or HMS Hermes, which the Royal Navy had deployed to the Falklands

Not So Neutral After All: Ronald Reagan Made Secret Plans To Loan U.S. Warship To Britain If Aircraft Carrier Was Lost During Falklands War -- Daily Mail

* Revelation made by former U.S. Secretary of the Navy John Lehman
* Reagan would have loaned Britain use of amphibious warship USS Iwo Jima should harm have come to either HMS Invincible or HMS Hermes
* U.S. was officially neutral during the two-month conflict

Ronald Reagan made secret plans to loan Britain a U.S. warship if she lost an aircraft carrier during the Falklands War, it has emerged.

The then-president was prepared to support Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher despite the U.S. being officially neutral during the 1982 conflict.

Read more

My Comment: If it was President Obama in the Oval Office and NOT President Reagan .... would the same thing have happened? More to the point .... would the U.S. help Britain today if the Argentinians were successful in invading and occupying the Falklands?

I was young at the time (22 years old) but I had no doubt on what US policy was in regards to the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands .... and to the extent of what President Reagan would do to help his ally in London. But President Reagan is gone, and today we have a situation where I am not even sure on what US policy would be .... or even if they take a position.

Mexico's Presidential Election Raises Concerns In Washington

Mexican presidential frontrunner Enrique Pena Nieto greets supporters. Photograph: REUTERS

Mexican Election Raises Fears In Washington -- The Telegraph

The frontrunner in Mexico’s presidential election has promised to bring down the death toll in his country’s bloody drug war, prompting American fears he may step back from directly confronting the cartels.

Mexico’s 80 million voters will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president for the first time since the military was deployed against the drug barons six years ago, beginning a bloody conflict that has already cost 50,000 lives.

Enrique Peña Nieto, a telegenic former governor who enjoys a commanding 14-point lead, has vowed to shift the focus away from disrupting the cartels’ smuggling operations and look instead to curb the violence that all too often ends in beheadings or with bodies hung publicly from bridges.

Read more

My Comment: Here are my Mexico predictions. Enrique Peña Nieto will win with an overwhelming majority .... and will start to disappoint Mexicans right away. The drug cartel war will continue .... but at a slightly lower level not because of government policies but because so many drugs lords have killed each other off. The economy will stagnate because their number one economic partner (i.e. the U.S.) has an economy that (as we all know) will continue to stagnate .... and a slow trickle of Mexicans will start to self-deport from the U.S. and go back to Mexico. Corruption will continue .... and maybe even get worse. U.S. - Mexican relations will remain the same.

US Homeland Security Details How Law Enforcement Should Respond To Gunmen

A pocket card handed out to Homeland Security employees in April detailing how they should handle an "active shooter" situation.

Border Patrol Union Blasts Homeland Security Instructions To 'Run Away' And 'Hide' From Gunmen -- FOX News

Border Patrol agents in Arizona are blasting their bosses for telling them, along with all other Department of Homeland Security employees, to run and hide if they encounter an "active shooter."

It's one thing to tell civilian employees to cower under a desk if a gunman starts spraying fire in a confined area, say members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council, but to give armed law enforcement professionals the same advice is downright insulting. The instructions from DHS come in the form of pamphlets and a mandatory computer tutorial.

Read more ....

My Comment: To me .... these instructions are bizarre .... but here is the kicker .... to many others (including some in Homeland Security) .... these instructions are very reasonable and they make total sense.

The Majority In Pakistan View The U.S. As An Enemy

Poll: Most In Pakistan View US As Enemy -- The Hill

A record number of Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy, according to a new survey from the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

The survey found that 74 percent of the Pakistani respondents thought the Untied States was more of an enemy than a partner, while just 8 percent thought of America as a partner.

The percentage of people in Pakistan that think the United States is an enemy has risen the last few years, up from 69 percent in 2011 and 64 percent three years ago.

Read more

My Comment: The feeling is mutual.

Iran Believes There Will Be War

Iran: There Will Be War – And We'll Win -- WND

More than 1,000 ballistic missiles capable of reaching U.S. bases.

Just days after the breakdown of talks with the West over Iran’s nuclear program, the deputy chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards announced that there soon will be war – and that Allah will ensure his forces are victorious.

The last round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) ended in Moscow last week without any agreement on Iran’s illicit nuclear program.

Gen. Hossein Salami, in a televised interview, boasted that, “Iran has complete control of all the enemy’s interests around the world and is on a path to reach equivalency with world powers.” The commander emphasized that Iran’s nuclear program is irreversible, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Salami said war is inevitable, and the Iranian forces are ready.

Read more ....

My Comment: They certainly seem to be very sure of themselves.

Iran's Nuclear Program Continues

Iran’s Arms Programs Continue To Accelerate -- Aviation Week

The pressure is growing and the threats are escalating against Iran. The U.S. Congress is increasingly expressing impatience. Both major U.S. presidential candidates keep making it clear they see war as an option to end Iran's nuclear program. Yet direct talks between Iranian and European negotiators have broken down. And Iran's uranium-enrichment program continues.

The question is, why has nothing moved Iran to compromise?

Read more ....

My Comment: Even I am skeptical that the US will launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities .... that after spending years criticizing President Bush for invading Iraq we end up with a situation in which President Obama would start a war of choice with Iran .... hmmmm .... no .... it's not going to happen .... and the Iranians know that.

Bo Xilai: Inside The Scandal – A WSJ Documentary

The fall of Bo Xilai, once a rising star in Chinese politics, has plunged the country into its biggest crisis since Tiananmen Square. In this documentary, The Wall Street Journal examines how his downfall has altered the debate about China’s future.

United Technologies Admits To Covering Up The Sale Of Military Software To China

China's Z-10 gunship, its first modern attack helicopter. U.S. defense giant United Technologies and two subsidiaries admitted selling restricted military software used to build the helicopter, covering up the sales and lying to the U.S. government. Via Defense Tech

United Technologies Acknowledges Coverup Of Sale Of Military Software To China -- Washington Post

United Technologies, a major defense contractor, and two of its subsidiaries on Thursday acknowledged covering up the illicit sale of sensitive military software to China — technology that the country later used to develop its first attack helicopter.

Federal prosecutors announced criminal charges against the firms and a fine of more than $75 million for what they called a violation of U.S. export laws. Justice officials said the software sold to China posed a risk to American troops overseas and U.S. allies.

Read more

More News On United Technologies Acknowledging A Coverup In the Sale Of Military Software To China

Military Contractors Are Fined Over Aid to China -- New York Times
United Technologies sent military copter tech to China -- Reuters
US firm fined for selling China military helicopter software -- MSNBC/Reuters
United Technologies sold China software for attack copter -- USA Today
UTC exported software used in Chinese helicopter -- FOX News/AP
United Technologies sold military software to China: US -- AFP
U.S. firm, subsidiaries admit role in sending military software to China -- CNN
US, Canada sold military copter tech to China -- Montreal Gazette

Sending Terrorists To Sub-Gitmo Hell

Obama Sends Terrorists to Sub-Gitmo Hell -- Abe Greenwald, Commentary

Among the unfortunate things about the ObamaCare ruling is that it’s taking oxygen away from some important stories. None more important than Eli Lake’s sensational scoop at the Daily Beast on the wretched facilities in Somalia where America is sending alleged terrorists caught in the expanded U.S. war on terror in that country. When Barack Obama came to office he described Guantanamo Bay as a “misguided experiment,” owing to the facility’s supposedly harsh conditions. He has since decreed that the United States will no longer accept new prisoners there (he was unable to close the facility altogether); Obama also shuttered CIA black site prisons in Europe. But if Gitmo was a “misguided experiment” and CIA sites beneath American standards of humane treatment, what on earth is this?

Read more

My Comment:
No tears shed from this blogger.

Why Does The White House Want To Increase Health Care Fees For Members Of The Military?

Obama To Soldiers: Pay Up -- Washington Free Beacon

Threatens to veto bill unless it hikes health care fees for service members

The Obama administration on Friday threatened to veto a defense appropriations bill in part because it does not include higher health care fees for members of the military.

“The Administration is disappointed that the Congress did not incorporate the requested TRICARE fee initiatives into either the appropriation or authorization legislation,” the White House wrote in an official policy statement expressing opposition to the bill, which the House approved in May.

Read more

My Comment: This is not the only reason why the White House has threatened to veto this defense appropriations bill. But .... the White House's intention to increase health care charges on military personnel is the provision that I find personally unpalatable. With the Supreme Court deciding yesterday that "Obamacare" is constitutional, I now do expect a full-court press on the part of this administration to limit the choices that US military personnel (and everyone else for that matter) have in selecting health care, and to eventually divert them to the government health care program that they want implemented.

So much for choice.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- June 29, 2012

Iran is storing oil in tankers at sea, but may soon have to decommission wells if the EU trade emargo is not lifted. Photograph: Tim Chong/Reuters

Iran Sanctions Are About To Get Tougher -- Ramin Mostaghim and Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

Western governments are preparing to increase the economic pressure on Tehran, and already-scrimping Iranians will no doubt feel the impact.

TEHRAN — As the West has tightened its economic chokehold in an effort to force Iran's government to scale back its growing nuclear program, Iranians have coped by cutting back.

Ali, a 31-year-old employee at a Tehran print shop, doesn't buy as much chicken or red meat as before and has stopped going to the barber. He gave up smoking Marlboros for cheaper Iranian-made Bahmans, and asked his wife to quit her health club.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Iran sanctions will halve oil sales but may still not succeed
-- Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian

Battle Rial: To end Iran's nuclear program, it's time for America to step up its economic warfare. -- Mark Dubowitz, Foreign Policy

Syria's Threatened Christians
-- Daniel Brode and Roger Farhat and Daniel Nisman, New York Times

Your Syria Is My Bahrain -- Mark N. Katz, The Moscow Times

Kuwait’s Crossroads: Islamists and American power imperil the Gulf’s freest state. -- Doug Bandow, American Conservative

US still faces 'volatile situation' in Iraq despite strategic gains -- Carlo Munoz, The Hill

Beijing, a Boon for Africa -- Dambisa Moyo, New York Times

Analysis: Sudan rulers dig in as foes look for Arab Spring -- Alexander Dziadosz, Reuters

Sudan’s fundamental questions -- Mohammad Fadhel, Special to Gulf News

Why Mexico and Paraguay are embracing controversial parties of the past
-- Sara Miller Llana, Christian Science Monitor

What Really Happened at the European Summit? -- Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek

Did EU Leaders Actually Deliver A Fiscal And Banking Union At The Summit? -- Agustino Fontevecchia, Forbes

Putin's Got America Right Where He Wants It: And that's bad news for Obama. -- Micahel Weiss, Foreign Policy

World News Briefs -- June 29, 2012 (Evening Edition)

Syrian Groups Say Bloody Day Left High Toll of Civilians -- New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria’s opposition on Friday reported the deadliest 24-hour period so far in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and said rebel fighters had seized two Syrian generals, one of them the highest-ranking officer to fall into insurgent hands.

Accounts of the intensified mayhem in Syria came as Kofi Annan, the special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League, prepared to hold a high-level meeting in Geneva that includes the five permanent members of the Security Council to rescue his sidelined Syrian peace plan from total irrelevance.

Read more ....


Assad rejects external solution for Syria crisis.

Assad forces bombard northern towns, avoid Turkish border. Military funerals in Syria suggest mounting casualties.

Syria on agenda as Clinton, Lavrov meet in St. Petersburg.

Iraq's commitment to U.S. mission questioned in Congress. U.S.’s $51 billion Iraq projects at risk, inspector says.

EU oil embargo on Iran goes into effect Sunday.

National service proposal riles Israeli arabs.


Report: US mulls clandestine raids into Pakistan.

Australian vote keeps question mark over asylum seekers.

South Korea puts off Japan military pact at last minute.

China blocks Bloomberg for exposing financial affairs of Xi Jinping's family.

China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft returns to Earth.

Democrats beat ruling party in Mongolian election.

India police kill '17 Maoists' in Chhattisgarh.

India floods: Many thousands flee homes in Assam.

15 years after China takeover, Hong Kong uneasy.


Democracy a learning process as Libya set to vote.

Back-to-back coups hand ECOWAS huge challenge.

Islamist militants stream into northern Mali town after victory.

Egyptians pack Tahrir on eve of Mursi inauguration.

Egypt's defence minister hangs defiantly on to power.

Amnesty International: Arms imports fuel S. Sudan violence.

Khartoum: Sudan austerity protesters 'tear-gassed'.


Breakthrough in Europe bank talks send Spain, Italy borrowing costs down. Merkel defends compromise deal on eurozone banks.

EU deal for Spain, Italy buoys markets but details sketchy.

Uzbekistan quits Russia-dominated security pact.

Eta members arrested in London.

Julian Assange remains at embassy after failing to report to police.


Border Patrol union blasts Homeland Security instructions to 'run away' and 'hide' from gunmen.

Republican hopes dimming to repeal health care law.

Obama in Colorado to tour state's worst-ever wildfire. President Obama signs Colorado disaster declaration.

Mercosur 'to suspend' Paraguay over Lugo impeachment.

Drug cartel rivals behead Zetas on camera.

Mexican drug cartels work to sway local vote.

Falklands responds to Argentine approaches on fishing and flights.

Russian arms dealer jailed in U.S. will appeal.


House foreign affairs leaders band together on designating Haqqani Network as terror group.

Pakistan Army facing greater threat from al-Qaeda: observers.

Yemen says al Qaeda militants may have fled to Oman.

London police arrest 2 terror suspects.


Barclays boss Bob Diamond says he will not resign.

Nestle 'failing' on child labour abuse, says FLA report.

Google gave us a week of product launches and impressive demos at I/O.

Boeing, Embraer teaming up on military plane.

Egypt's New President Wants The U.S. To Release The Blind Sheik From Prison

Morsi Wants To Free Sheik Who Plotted U.S. Terror -- New York Times

CAIRO — President-elect Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood pre-empted the military’s choreographed swearing-in ceremony by taking his oath of office a day early in a televised speech to hundreds of thousands of supporters in Tahrir Square on Friday. But his rousing tribute to Egyptian sovereignty may be overshadowed by a promise likely to complicate relations with the United States: to work for the release of the Egyptian-born Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, jailed for plotting to bomb a series of New York City landmarks.

The comments appeared to come almost offhandedly in the context of a vow to free Egyptian civilians imprisoned here after military trials during the transition after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

Read more ....

My Comment: We should not be surprised by these remarks .... there were rumors a few months ago that the US administration was itself prepared to release the "Blind Sheik" in return for the release of some US human rights observers.

Secret Wiretaps Are 'Rocking' The US Department of Justice

Darrell Issa Puts Details of Secret Wiretap Applications in Congressional Record -- Roll Call

In the midst of a fiery floor debate over contempt proceedings for Attorney General Eric Holder, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record.

The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.

Read more

My Comment: Supporters of Attorney General Eric Holder must know that this drip-drip of information from House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa indicates that he has confidential contacts and (yes .... moles) within the Justice department .... otherwise this information would have never made the light of day. For the moment .... because of executive privilege .... this case is now in the memory hole. My hope is that one day a Special Prosecutor is appointed, and that the information which is now "protected" be released to satisfy those like myself who want to know the truth, as well as providing some peace to families like the family of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry who .... as unbelievable as this may sound .... are still waiting for answers.

In the meantime .... supporters of Attorney General Eric Holder are pushing a different story.

Update: Here is a good article from the Economist that tries it's best to look at both sides of the issue.

Update #2: I guess some people are above the law.

US Air Force Faces Growing Sex Scandal

31 Female Victims And Counting In Air Force Sexual Assault Scandal -- The Atlantic

In what's probably the worst sex assault scandal in the U.S. military in the last 20 years, Air force officials have determined that 31 women have been identified as victims of sexual misconduct and assault at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where 12 male boot-camp instructors are under investigation for allegedly raping, assaulting, harassing, and having sex with female recruits. "Gen. Edward Rice, commander of the Air Education and Training Command, told Pentagon reporters that a dozen male instructors were under investigation, and that nine of them were from the same unit — the 331st Training Squadron," according to The Associated Press. The San Antonio Express News' Tracy Idell Hamilton notes that Rice said all 31 women were still part of the Air Force.

Read more ....

More News On the Growing US Air Force Sex Scandal

AETC commander addresses recruits' allegations of sexual misconduct -- US Air Force
Revealed: The shocking sex scandal that has rocked a Texas Air Force base, leading to four being charged over misconduct allegations -- Daily Mail
Air Force investigates growing sex-abuse scandal -- Washington Post
Sex scandal widens at Air Force base in Texas -- Reuters
31 victims identified in widening Air Force sex scandal -- CNN
Air Force expands sex abuse investigation -- UPI
Widening sex scandal rocks Texas Air Force base -- MSNBC/AP
Air Force has identified 31 alleged victims in Lackland sex abuse scandal -- Stars and Stripes
Air Force Investigating 12 Instructors on Sexual Misconduct -- SFGate/Bloomberg
Sex abuse scandal rocks US Air Base -- RT
6 US Military Instructors Charged With Sexual Offense Against Women Trainees -- RTT News
‘Aggressive Action’ Follows Sexual Misconduct Charges -- US Department of Defense

White House Threatens To Veto The Defense Appropriations Bill

WH Issues Veto Threat On Defense Approps Bill -- DoD Buzz

The House’s Republican-controlled defense committees are 0 for 2 so far this year in yielding legislation that President Obama could sign. That may not come as a shock.

Still, there it is: Having already threatened to veto the House Armed Services’ Committee’s defense authorization bill in May, the White House has now threatened to veto the House Appropriations Committee’s defense bill, which sets aside funding for the Defense Department.

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Update #1: White House ‘Strongly Opposes’ House Appropriations Bill -- Defense News
Update #2: Obama threatens to veto defense appropriations bill -- The Hill

My Comment: This debate is going to continue until long after the November elections.

Civil War In Syria -- News Updates June 29, 2012

Young Children, Entire Families Among Almost 200 ‘Massacred’ In Besieged Syrian City Of Douma -- National Post/Reuters

BEIRUT — Syrians in the besieged city of Douma wrapped mangled and bloodied corpses in white burial shrouds early on Friday, according to video posted online, after 190 people were killed in one of the deadliest days of Syria’s 16-month-old uprising.

Activists said more than 50 of those killed on Thursday died in Douma, about 15 km (9 miles) outside the capital Damascus.

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More News On Syria's Civil War

Syria crisis: Assad vows to 'annihilate terrorists' - Friday 29 June 2012 -- The Guardian

Corpses line street as Syrian toll spirals -- Reuters
Syrian Groups Say Bloody Day Left High Toll Of Civilians -- New York Times
Syria death toll spirals: 170 killed in one day -- Jerusalem Post/Reuters
190 Killed in Syria Uprising's Bloodiest Day -- Newser
Syrian forces pound Damascus suburb: NGO -- AFP
Activists: Dozens killed by Syria shelling -- New York Daily News
Syria shelling kills dozens in rebel town -- FOX News/AP
Syria forces bombard opposition strongholds -- Al Jazeera
Military funerals suggest mounting Syrian casualty numbers -- L.A. Times
Syrian troops besiege rebellious suburb -- AP
Assad forces bombard northern towns as 170 tanks mass near major city, Syrian rebels say -- MSNBC

Syrian Tanks Amass Near Turkish Border: FSA General -- New York Times/Reuters
Syrian troops near Turkish border: rebels -- AFP
Turkey fortifies border: Assad sends helicopters to hammer northern Syria -- Christian Science Monitor
Assad Forces Bombard Northern Towns, Avoid Turkish Border -- New York Times/Reuters
Turkey Boosts Forces at Syrian Border -- Voice of America
Turkey deploys forces to border with Syria -- L.A. Times

Syrian Arrests Are Said to Have Snared Tens of Thousands -- New York Times
US: Damascus Violence Is Sign Assad Losing Control -- Voice of America

Clinton, Lavrov Set for Syria Showdown -- New York Times/AP
Officials unable to agree on Annan Syria plan: diplomats -- Reuters
Clinton, Lavrov Meet Ahead Of Geneva Talks -- Radio Free Europe
Moscow Upbeat on Syria Conference -- RIA Novosti
Russia calls Geneva talks on Syria 'positive step' -- AFP
Assad’s Exit Focus of Geneva Meeting as Russia Objects -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Russia Favors Syrian Solution to Political Crisis -- Voice of America
Russia regrets absence of Iran, Saudi in Geneva -- Reuters
Syrians defiant as world powers plan talks -- CNN

UN Seeks More Money to Help Syrian Refugees -- Voice of America
Syria: Can Geneva meeting wield fresh hope for the crisis? -- Imogen Foulkes, BBC
Forging a peace plan for Syria -- Kofi Annan, Washington Post
Can the Geneva meeting on Syria accomplish anything? -- Ariel Zirulnick, Christian Science Monitor
Turkish and Israeli military alerts show risks of wider Syrian war -- Matt Gurney, National Post

The Global Arms Trade (Infographic)

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

UN To Seek Arms Trade Treaty In July

July UN Meeting To Discuss Global Arms Trade Treaty -- Voice of America

Delegates from more than 150 countries are to meet next month (July 2-27) at the United Nations in New York to draft a global arms trade treaty.

The proposed legally-binding treaty would set international standards to regulate the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons - from aircraft carriers to machine guns and small arms. Major arms exporters, such as the United States, and major importers, such as India, will participate.

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More News On UN Efforts For A Global Arms Trade Treaty

Pressure mounts for tough arms treaty at UN talks
-- The Guardian
UN to seek Arms Trade Treaty in a world awash with weapons -- Stars and Stripes/Deutsche Presse-Agentur
EU Pushes for U.N. Arms Trade Treaty -- Defense News
Regulating the arms trade: A dirty business -- The Economist
Gearing up for the arms trade treaty negotiations -- David Bosco, Foreign Policy

Unrest Grows In Sudan

Hundreds Tear Gassed Amid Clampdown On Sudan Protests -- CNN

(CNN) -- Riot police sprayed tear gas at hundreds of protesters who attempted to lead a march after Friday prayers from the two main opposition party mosques in Sudan's capital Khartoum and its second city, Omdurman.

A CNN journalist at the Al Sayid Abdelrahman mosque said that after prayers about 500 riot police gathered outside the gates and fired tear gas canisters at the crowd as they began to leave.

Protesters responded by throwing rocks at officers, he said.

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More News On The Unrest In Sudan

Sudan police uses tear gas to disperse protest -- AP
Analysis: Sudan rulers dig in as foes look for Arab Spring -- Reuters
UN urges calm in Khartoum ahead of Friday mass protests -- AFP
Khartoum: Sudan austerity protesters 'tear-gassed' -- BBC
Will the ‘Elbow Lickers’ bring the Arab Spring to Sudan? -- Al Arabiya
Sandstorm Friday -- Sigurd Moskvil Thorsen, Foreign Policy
Wishful Spring Thinking or the Beginning of the End for al-Bashir? -- Alex Perry, Time
Change is in the air in Sudan -- Nesrine Malik, The Guardian
Elbows and sandstorms in Khartoum -- Mutasim Elagraa, Al Jazeera

Israel's Vice Premier: 'We Are Preparing For War'

Photo: Moshe Ya'alon

IDF Chief Of Staff-Turned-Vice Premier: 'We Are Not Bluffing' -- Truth Provider

Moshe Ya'alon tells Ari Shavit he is preparing for war. He suggests you do the same.

Exactly seven years ago, I interviewed the chief of staff. On the eve of his retirement from the Israel Defense Forces, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon spoke with an expressionless face against the Gaza disengagement, against a Palestinian state and against giving terrorism a “tailwind.” He predicted that Hamas would seize control of the Gaza Strip and that rockets would rain down on Israeli cities. But when, at the end of the interview, we were joined by the Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman and a Haaretz photographer, the chief of staff became a different person. As the photographer had him pose in his office, he started telling jokes.

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Update: Moshe Ya'alon: Strategic thinker and leader -- Jerusalem Post

My Comment: Poignant and disturbing .... and I have no reason to doubt him.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- June 29, 2012

A U.S. paratrooper fires his M249 squad automatic weapon at insurgents during a firefight on the outskirts of the village of Spedar in southern Afghanistan's Ghazni province, June 15, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

Afghan Officials Hail Talks With Insurgents -- New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — A flurry of informal contacts between the Afghan government and insurgent representatives over the past week suggests that long-stalled peace negotiation efforts may be inching forward, Afghan officials say, though American officials played down the significance of the meetings.

Afghan government negotiators sat with representatives of the insurgents first at an informal meeting in Paris this week and then at an academic conference in Kyoto, Japan, through the past two days, officials said. President Hamid Karzai’s top peace negotiator, Salahuddin Rabbani, hailed the public contacts this month as an indication that the Taliban were backing off their demand that Americans be the main interlocutors in any talks.

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More News On Afghanistan

ISAF Joint Command morning operational update, June 29 -- ISAF
Combined Force Detains Taliban Leader -- US Department of Defense
Militants kill 10 in attack in eastern Afghanistan -- AP
Air Strike Kills Taliban Leader In East Afghanistan -- RTT
Troop immunity likely to be focus of U.S., Afghanistan deal -- Reuters
Afghan Taliban Deny Taking Orders From Pakistan -- New York Times/Reuters
Afghan Taliban Deny Taking Orders From Pakistan -- Radio Free Europe
Radio Mullah re-emerges as security threat -- Express Tribune
Afghans face mass deportation from Pakistan -- DAWN/AFP
400,000 Unregistered Afghan Refugees Face Deportation By Pakistan -- Radio Free Europe
Afghanistan appeals for foreign corporate investment as a way to stabilize after years of war -- Washington Post/AP
Afghanistan Woos Foreign Investors in New Delhi -- New York Times
India's growing stake in Afghanistan -- BBC
India seeks larger role in stabilizing Afghanistan after NATO drawdown -- Washington Post
An Umbrella for Afghan Stability -- Chinmaya R. Gharekhan and Karl F. inderfurth, New York Times