Friday, November 30, 2012

ASEAN Chief Worries That China Is Deliberately Raising South China Sea Tensions

ASEAN Chief Worries Beijing Raising Stakes in South China Sea -- Voice of America

South-East Asia's leading diplomat is joining those worried China is dangerously raising tensions over the disputed South China Sea.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan says Beijing's plan to possibly board and search foreign ships is alarming.

“Certainly it has raised a lot of concern and anxiety and I think it is creating a bit of a general sense that the situation is becoming more tense.''

Surin has been urging all parties to agree to a code of conduct for an area considered by many to be a potential military flashpoint.

Read more ....

More News On China Escalating Tensions In The South China Sea

ASEAN chief says China plan on disputed seas escalates tension -- Reuters
Asean chief Surin Pitsuwan warns on China's ship patrol plan -- BBC
China issues new warning -- UPI
China gives police more sea rights: state media -- AFP
China plan to board ships sets off alarm --
Law enhances Chinese police's power in disputed South China Sea -- L.A. Times
New Chinese Law Allows for Search, Expulsion of Foreign Ships -- Voice of America

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- November 30, 2012

Why Is Egypt's Draft Constitution So Controversial? -- Kristen Chick, Christian Science Monitor

Protesters took to the streets in Cairo and other Egyptian cities today over a draft constitution written by Islamists. Here are the points many in Egypt are talking about.

Egypt's constituent assembly worked through the night to finish voting on Egypt's new constitution, finalizing its work early this morning and sent the contentious document to the president, who will call a national referendum on the constitution within two weeks.

President Mohamed Morsi's allies made the surprise move to finish the document this week after he issued a decree sidelining the judiciary and removing nearly all checks on his power.

Read more

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Kurdish-Iraqi government talks collapse amid fear of civil war -- Jane Arraf, Christian Science Monitor

Should the U.N. Have Recognized Palestine? -- Teresa Welsh, US News and World Report

China's military crossroads
-- Brahma Chellaney, Japan Times

China’s Oil Quest Comes to Iraq
-- J. Michael Cole, The Diplomat

The Problem From Hell: South Asia’s Arms Race -- Paul Bracken, The Diplomat

Is China trying to implode Japan's economy? -- Peter Lee, Asia Times

A chance for calm in Congo
-- L.A. Times editorial

Russia's Misery Loves U.S. Company
-- Michael Bohm, Moscow Times

Mexico’s Peña Nieto Talks to TIME: ‘We Can Move Beyond the Drug War’ -- Tim Padgett, Time

Let Women Fight: Ending the U.S. Military’s Female Combat Ban -- Megan H. MacKenzie, Council On Foreign Affairs

More Evidence Of War Crimes In Syria (Graphic Video)

Syrian Rebel Films Himself Shooting 10 Prisoners -- Reuters

Nov 30 (Reuters) - New footage posted on the Internet appears to have been filmed by a Syrian rebel who points the camera along the barrel of his gun as he shoots 10 unarmed prisoners.

The video, posted on YouTube on Thursday, shows 10 men wearing t-shirts and camouflage trousers lying face down next to a building and a lookout tower. Even before the shooting, two of the men are not moving and one has blood coming from his torso.

"I swear to God that we are peaceful," begs one of the men to the camera, which is being held by the gunman. Cowering, the man gets up to plead with rebels. As he approaches a rebel off-screen, a shot is heard and he returns holding his bloodied arm.

Read more ....

My Comment: Once in a while these videos come out of Syria, but I suspect that such incidences are now happening everyday.

Civil War In Syria -- News Updates November 30, 2012

Is Syria's Assad Running Short Of Helicopters And Cash? -- Christian Science Monitor

ProPublica reports that Syria asked Iraq to allow helicopter shipment overflights from Russia, just days after other documents revealed Russia sent Syrian currency to Damascus.

According to a new report, Syria sought permission from Iraq last month to ship attack helicopters being refurbished by Russia through Iraqi airspace. But while it is unclear whether the shipments ever occurred – unlike eight shipments of Syrian currency sent from Russia that was revealed earlier this week – the reports, taken together, indicate an increasing level of desperation on the part of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Read more ....

More News On Syria's Civil War

Syria Live Blog -- Al Jazeera
Syria conflict: internet blackout continues - Friday 30 November 2012 -- The Guardian

Syrian fighting rages as rebels push for Damascus breakthough
-- The Guardian
Fighting rages near Damascus airport; Syrian Web and phone blackouts continue
-- Washington Post
Opposition: Fierce fighting closes Damascus airport for second day -- CNN
Fighting continues near Damascus airport -- Al Jazeera
Flights to Damascus airport disrupted for second day -- BBC
Syrian security forces cut internet, phone and kill 17 Lebanese fighting with Syrian rebels -- FOX News/AP
Syria jets bombard rebel targets on airport road -- Reuters
20 Lebanese killed in Syria ambush -- Daily Star
Militant leader in Syria seeks Islamic state, says his men do not fear death -- Washington Post/AP

At General Assembly, Ban and UN-Arab League envoy call for greater efforts to resolve crisis in Syria -- UN News Centre
UN Envoy Warns of Worsening Syria Situation -- Voice of America
Envoy warns that Syria will become a failed state unless there is a political solution to war -- Washington Post/AP
U.N. chief "horrified" by Syrian violence -- Reuters
UN Envoy Warns Syria Could Become 'Failed State' -- Voice of America

Syria Fighting Rages On, Nations Discuss More Sanctions -- Voice of America
Friends of Syria want tighter sanctions -- UPI

U.S. Moves Toward Recognizing Syria’s Opposition -- New York Times
Russia warns US on Syria
-- Examiner
Russia supplies weapons to Syria -- Examiner
U.S. communications equipment to Syria opposition ‘spy-proof’ -- Washington Times

UN Finds Dire Humanitarian Needs in Homs, Syria -- Voice of America
Syrian refugees shot at while fleeing to Jordan: UNHCR -- Reuters
Syrian Refugees Attacked by ‘Armed Groups,’ U.N. Says -- New York Times
250,000 displaced in Syrian city of Homs: UN -- Business Recorder

War rips apart families, neighbors in Syria as political, sectarian loyalties take over -- Washington Post/AP
Is the Collapse of the Syrian Regime Imminent? -- Nehad Ismail, Huffington Post
Can the Syrian Rebels Unite? -- Mike Giglio, Daily Beast
Are Syria’s rebels on the verge of victory? -- Hugh Macleod, Salon

Tens Of Thousands Protest Against Egypt's New Constitution

Cairo's Tahrir Square Fills With Anti-Morsi Protesters -- BBC

Tens of thousands of protesters opposed to Egypt's president and the sweeping new powers he assumed last week are in Cairo's Tahrir Square, hours after a new constitution was hastily approved.

The Islamist-dominated constituent assembly finished voting on the draft in the early hours on Friday.

The draft will now be sent to Mr Morsi, who is expected to call a referendum.

The Supreme Constitutional Court is due to rule on Sunday on whether the assembly should be dissolved.

Senior judges have been in a stand-off with the president since he granted himself sweeping new powers.

Read more

More News On Today's Protests In Egypt

Egypt draft constitution sparks mass protest -- Bloomberg Businessweek/AP
Egyptians protest after draft constitution raced through -- Reuters
Street protests follow approval of Egypt's draft constitution -- L.A. Times
Egyptians protest after Islamist-dominated assembly hastily approves constitution -- Washington Post
Mass Cairo protests after charter adopted -- The Australian
Egyptians Protest After Panel Backs Constitution -- Voice of America
Christians, liberals left out as Islamists back Egypt's draft constitution -- NBC
Washington Warily Eyes Egypt’s Constitutional Crisis -- Time
Q&A: Controversy over Egypt’s draft constitution -- BBC
Factbox: Egypt's draft constitution -- Reuters

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Back In Cuba For Cancer Treatments

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Battling Bone Metastasis, Report Says -- FOX News

Venezuela President Hugo Chávez is now battling bone metastasis from his pelvic cancer, according to a report by Spanish newspaper ABC. Citing an unnamed intelligence source, ABC's Washington correspondent Emil J. Blasco says there has been a recurrence and spread of the tumor, which was detected in a test performed on a trip to Havana just after the elections on October 7.

Blasco said the metastasis is causing Chavez “severe pain in the left femur and serious walking difficulties." He also says that Chavez passed out twice in August, losing consciousness briefly, and that doctors determined that his situation was deteriorating slowly but steadily.

Read more ....

My Comment: This does not look good for him .... his cancer has spread.

Can Afghanistan Tackle Corruption?

My Comment:
The culture of corruption is so interwoven in Afghanistan that I have zero expectation that it can be tackled in my lifetime. As for the billions that have been sent to Afghanistan .... we in the West must come to the realization that with the exception of educating millions of children (boys and girls) on how to read and write as well as some health/medical programs .... the rest of the money has been spent (on God knows what) or embezzled.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- November 30, 2012

Members of Provincial Reconstruction Team Ghazni and Afghan national police walk up a hill after their vehicles became stuck in the mud in the Nawur District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2012. Members of the team visited the Nawur District to perform quality assurance quality control on a collapsed building and two comprehenisve health clinics. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Rebecca F. Corey

US Senate Votes For Faster Afghan Withdrawal -- Al Jazeera

Overwhelming majority of Senate in favour of accelerated withdrawal, while Pentagon stresses need for post-2014 mission.

The United States Senate has voted overwhelmingly for an accelerated withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan after more than a decade of fighting, reflecting the wishes of a war-weary nation.

Thursday's bipartisan vote of 62-33 sends a clear message to President Barack Obama and the military as they engage in high-stakes talks about the pace of drawing down the 66,000 US troops there.

While the senators talk about the withdrawal, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the US needs to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 because al-Qaeda is still present in the country.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

ISAF Joint Command operational update, Nov 30 -- ISAF
Combined Force Arrests District-level Taliban Leader -- US Department of Defense
Security forces arrest Afghan accused of funding the Taliban -- Reuters
Conflict continues to displace Afghans, study finds -- CNN
Germany to close two bases in northern Afghanistan -- Deutsche Welle
Immunity at issue for troops in Afghanistan -- Marine Times

Panetta: Post-2014 Afghan effort to be substantial -- Stars and Stripes
Panetta: US foresees 'enduring presence' to fight al-Qaida in Afghanistan -- NBC
Panetta: Post-2014 US military mission in Afghanistan will include targeting al-Qaida -- Washington Post/AP
Panetta Calls for Substantial Post-2014 Presence In Afghanistan -- Voice of America
Al Qaeda battle in Afghanistan to stretch for years: U.S. -- Reuters
Panetta says U.S. will maintain ‘enduring presence’ in Afghanistan -- Examiner

Majority in U.S. Senate Support Accelerated Afghanistan Transition Pace -- Defense News
Senate votes to accelerate withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan -- FOX News/AP
US Senate backs quicker Afghan withdrawal -- 9 News

Pakistan Agrees to Free More Taliban Prisoners -- ABC News/AP
Afghan FM Presses Pakistan to Free More Taliban Detainees -- Voice of America
Afghanistan pushes Pakistan for more Taliban releases -- Foreign Policy

India’s Role in Afghanistan: Past Relations and Future Prospects
-- Shreshta Balachandar, Foreign Policy Journal
Afghanistan: a human rights tragedy -- Rawa News

World News Briefs -- November 30, 2012

Egyptians Protest After Panel Backs Constitution -- Voice of America

CAIRO — Egyptians protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday for an eighth straight day of demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi, as an Islamist-dominated panel approved Egypt's new draft constitution that must now be voted on in a nationwide referendum.

The panel, boycotted by several Christian and liberal members, retained the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation. The group rushed through the approval of the 234 articles in a meeting that lasted from Thursday afternoon until early Friday.

Read more ....


Fighting continues near Damascus airport.

Global hacking network declares Internet war on Syria.

Palestinians win de facto U.N. recognition of sovereign state.

Senate approves new sanctions for Iran energy, shipping.

Iran may quit anti-nuclear arms pact if attacked: envoy.

Continued clean-up seen at Iranian military site tied to nuclear program.

Baghdad-Kurdistan talks stall over military command.


ASEAN chief voices alarm at China plan to board ships in disputed waters.

Chinese delegation said to meet with North Korean leader.

Satellite photos showing North Korea rocket preparations raise speculation.

Anti-Shiite violence rises in Pakistan as Islam’s sectarian divide moves beyond the Middle East.

'People will die': Muslims face expulsion from western Myanmar.

Japan PM postpones Russia trip due to Putin's health problems: media.


Egypt draft constitution sparks mass protest. Egypt assembly adopts draft constitution. All eyes on Egypt’s military as Morsi, judges battle for power.

Congo rebels extend stay in Goma. Dispute over munitions threatens Congo M23 pullout. DR Congo police arrive in Goma as M23 rebels delay pull-out.

Office in Uganda shows how easily rebels can move.

Nigeria Boko Haram leader urges global jihad in video.

Algeria says vote had 44 percent turnout, showing stability.


Eurozone unemployment rate hits new high in October.

Special Report: Greeks rage against pension calamity.

French socialist in Mittal row: We're just doing what Obama does.

Russian court bans 'extremist' Pussy Riot video from websites.

Napoleon's secret coded Kremlin letter on sale.


Mexico drug war continues to rage in region where president fired first salvo.

Mexico seeks to pivot relationship with US as new president takes office.

Brazil economy surprisingly weak, adds to global fears.

Colombia seeks talks with Nicaragua to solve maritime spat.

Cuban dissidents report escalated harassment.

Haiti seeks $2bn for cholera epidemic 'introduced by UN peacekeepers'.


Military action against al Qaida-linked extremists in Mali unlikely for months.

9/11 suspects may be tried in civilian courts not military tribunals.

Boko Haram emir praises al Qaeda.


German Parliament sends 'Google Tax' to committee.

Economic growth slows in India, Brazil and Canada.

Insight: How a desperate HP suspended disbelief for Autonomy deal.

Apple to sell iPhone 5, iPad mini in China.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 30, 2012

Okinawa Move, Key To Pacific Pivot, Will Cost More Than $10.6B: GAO -- Aol Defense

WASHINGTON: Sloppy number-crunching at the Department of Defense means that the official price tag to move 9,000 Marines off Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii, and Australia – already estimated at a whopping $10.6 billion – is probably short of the real cost, according to a draft Government Accountability Office (GAO) report obtained by AOL Defense.

The U.S. plans to move 4,700 of 8,000 Marines to Guam and send the others elsewhere: 1,800 would go to Hawaii – far from the action in the Western Pacific – and the rest to Australia – where the US is building up a "rotational" presence of 2,500 Marines (not all of them relocated from Okinawa) rather than permanent bases. The Pentagon's cost estimate is $10.6 billion.

Read more


Israeli Defense Chief Sounds Ready to Hit Iran, Thanks in Part to Iron Dome -- Danger Room

Senate backs accelerated withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan -- FOX News

German Air Force receives MANTIS air defence system
-- Defpro

Missing ‘Saudigate’ Documents in Sweden Spur Call for Inquiry -- Defense News

Azerbaijan To Boost Defense Spending in 2013 -- Defense News

Saudi Arabia keen on $130m Patriot missile deal -- Arabian Business

India Military Must Fill Gaps To Become Top Pacific Power: The Four P's -- Aol Defense

China threat spurs Japan to expand military presence
-- Sydney Morning Herald

China: Fighter jet plagiarism allegations 'offensive' -- China Daily

Canada: F-35 not the only plane that meets stealth requirements: Lawson -- iPolitics

US military institutes 'buddy program' for troops in Japan -- Stars and Stripes

The Tools of Mexico’s Drug Cartels, From Landmines to Monster Trucks -- The Danger Room

Chinese, U.S. soldiers complete disaster relief drill amid Asia tensions -- Reuters

China and US military in joint disaster exercise -- AFP

Air Force Reaches Deal to Bolster B-61 Nuclear Bomb's Accuracy -- Global Security Newswire

Will Stealth Survive As Sensors Improve? F-35, Jammers At Stake -- Aol Defense

Sequestration deadline speeds F35 negotiations -- DoD Buzz

Military Uniforms Of The Future Will Automatically Turn Into Chemical Suits In The Presence Of Threats -- Popular Science

Senate OKs Military March Toward Biofuels -- Discovery

Key U.S. official defends use of drones -- CNN

Drones soar past their military uses -- CNN

CEO Of Massive US Defense Firm Scoffs At The 'Fiscal Cliff' -- Business Insider

White House’s Opening Offer Excludes New Defense Cuts
-- Defense News

Saluting Military Mutts -- Time

US Senate votes to limit military detention -- Politico

Documents: FBI told Canadian police of possible security breach involving military officer -- Washington Post/AP

Bradley Manning takes stand at Wikileaks hearing -- BBC

Pentagon report defends ouster of military instructor -- Washington Times

Why Is Gen. Allen Still Under Investigation?
-- Max Boot, Commentary

A US Navy Ship Captured By North Korea In 1968 Has Suddenly Gone Missing -- Business Insider

USS Enterprise retirement will not include Shatner -- AP

South African air force officer reprimanded over pink slippers -- The Guardian

Editor's Note

Will be stuck in meetings today. Regular blogging will return at 13:00 EST

Ten Predictions For 2013

The World In 2013 -- Foreign Policy

Ten predictions for a year of brewing conflict.

Three major forces will loom behind the headlines in 2013, driving events in the new year: the crisis of the Western political order, rising sectarian strife in the Middle East, and worries about American withdrawal from the world.

The most immediate challenge is the crisis of the Western democratic model, caused by the inability of the United States and Europe to deal with their respective fiscal and financial issues. The problems are economic, but the weaknesses are fundamentally political. A continued failure to act will result in the weakening of the West's global stature in every dimension of national strength -- its ability to prosper, to summon and guide international action, and to advance core national interests.

Read more ....

My Comment: No arguments from me on any of these predictions. If I would add one, it would be Africa and the growing unrest from Islamic extremists in many of the Sahara nations.

Another North Korean Military Chief Is Fired

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has replaced his defence chief Kim Jong-Gak (AFP/File, North Korean TV)

South Korea Suspects North Korea Dumped Another Military Chief -- Wall Street Journal

In what may be the second major shake-up at the top of North Korea’s military this year, dictator Kim Jong Eun is believed by South Korean officials to have replaced another defense chief.

Reports circulated in Seoul on Thursday that Vice Marshal Kim Jong Gak, who just in February was promoted to that highest-level post below the dictator himself, is now out. A spokeswoman at the South Korea presidential office said the report was “highly possible though not confirmed.”

Read more ....

Update: N. Korea's defence chief replaced by hawk: report -- AFP

My Comment:
After only 9 months on the job .... North Korea's military chief is replaced by another. This was either a falling out, or only a temporary/caretaker appointment before someone else was chosen.

Pentagon To Activate Global Missile Defense For NKorean Missile Test

Japan's missile defense assets deployed to Intercept the North Korean missile on its ascent trajectory (April 2012). Illustration: Daily Yomiuri

North Korean Missile Launch Set -- Washington Times

The Pentagon is preparing to activate global missile defenses for an expected test launch of another long-range missile by North Korea, U.S. defense officials said.

Intelligence agencies are closely watching a North Korean missile launch site amid signs a test-firing will take place in the next two months, U.S. officials said, echoing reports from South Korea and Japan.

One official said the indicators from the launch site appear to be “a replay of the April launch, hopefully with the same success.”

North Korea’s last Taeopodong-2 missile was test-fired April 13 in what defense officials said was a failure shortly after the first stage lifted off.

Read more ....

My Comment: A prudent .... but expensive deployment.

U.S. Is Denied Entry Into Asia's Newest Economic Bloc

Asian, European and US exports

Post-US World Born In Phnom Penh -- Spengler, Asia Times

It is symptomatic of the national condition of the United States that the worst humiliation ever suffered by it as a nation, and by a US president personally, passed almost without comment last week. I refer to the November 20 announcement at a summit meeting in Phnom Penh that 15 Asian nations, comprising half the world's population, would form a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excluding the United States.

President Barack Obama attended the summit to sell a US-based Trans-Pacific Partnership excluding China. He didn't. The American led-partnership became a party to which no-one came.

Read more

My Comment:
I concur .... there was no U.S. coverage on this news story, instead .... the U.S. media's focus instead was on Asia's territorial disputes and America's "Asia-pivot".

The Growing Irrelevance Of The U.S. State Department

A Fine Mess At Foggy Bottom -- Seth Mandel, Commentary

Lost in all the speculation about the next secretary of state is the degree to which Foggy Bottom will need someone who can put the pieces back together. While Hillary Clinton coasted for much of her term on the good press that comes with being a Clinton, until the last couple of months she was having a decidedly average run as secretary of state. But the Benghazi debacle–which was in large part the result of Clinton’s incompetence and lack of attention–followed by the expected defection of most of our European allies at the UN vote on the Palestinians today, reveals a State Department marked by ineptitude and surprising irrelevance.

Read more ....

My Comment: It's true .... I am old enough to remember when U.S. diplomacy and the power of the Oval Office were always successful in garnering international support on important international issues. But this decline in U.S. diplomacy has been going on for a long time ..... and in the past four years it has definitely accelerated. Will there be a change of direction in the next four years .... I doubt it .... but on a positive note .... all the past (and meaningless) rhetoric of "smart power" will cease to be a talking point for this administration and their media supporters.

X-47B Inaugural Land-Based Catapult Launch

WNU Editor: Another cool video of the X-47B being hoisted is below.

A Look At Al Qaeda In Yemen (Book Review)

'The Last Refuge': Yemen, Al-Qaida And The U.S. -- NPR

In December 2009, a would-be terrorist boarded a plane for Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. While the explosive failed to properly ignite and the man was arrested upon landing, the ensuing investigation revealed the bomb in question had been made by al-Qaida leaders in Yemen.

This attempted act of terrorism heralded both the small Arabian country's re-emergence into the international consciousness as a refuge for al-Qaida and the ascendance of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), developments that have grown only more pronounced since.

According to Gregory Johnsen, a journalist who has covered Yemen and Islamic insurgency in the Middle East extensively, al-Qaida's presence has tripled in size within Yemen over the past three years. Johnsen charts this growing influence on the country in his new book, The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia.

Read more ....

My Comment: Another commentary that dismisses the idea that Al Qaeda is battered can be read here.

How Did A Guantanamo Detainee Die From A Drug Overdose?

Photo: Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif. Wikipedia

Investigators Said To Question How Detainee Died Of Overdose -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — A Yemeni detainee who was found dead in September at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, died from an overdose of psychiatric medication, according to several people briefed on a Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry.

But while a military medical examiner labeled the man’s death a suicide, how the prisoner obtained excess drugs remains under investigation, according to American and Yemeni officials. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Read more ....

My Comment: Many questions .... but no answers.

Benghazi Bungling

The White House’s Benghazi Bungling Is Proving A Disaster -- Nile Gardiner, The Telegraph

President Obama hasn’t even begun his second term yet, but his administration is already struggling with a huge credibility problem on the Benghazi front. Watch this video posted today at The Weekly Standard, which shows White House Press Secretary Jay Carney telling National Journal correspondent Major Garrett that Obama “is not particularly concerned” whether Susan Rice misled the American people in a series of talk show interviews following the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other US personnel in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11. Carney told the assembled White House press corps:

What the president is worried about, Major, is what happened and why in Benghazi. He is not particularly concerned about whether the ambassador or I went out and talked about the fact that we believed extremists might have been responsible. And whether we named them as al Qaeda or not does not–no, it certainly doesn't have any bearing on what happened and who was responsible as that investigation was continuing on Benghazi.

Read more

My Comment
: Nile Gardiner is right that the administration should come clean on how they handled the Benghazi affair before, during and after the attack .... especially on role that State, the intelligence community, and (most important of them all) President Obama played. To not only give closure to the families, but to also make sure that this does not happen again. But .... I cannot help but feel that they do not care, and with a compliant media .... will probably succeed in burying this in the new year as other crisis start to come along as they inevitably do.

The Knives Are Out For U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice

Susan Rice’s Enrichment Program -- Washington Free Beacon

U.N. ambassador has investments in companies doing business with Iran, disclosure forms show.

The portfolio of embattled United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice includes investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in several energy companies known for doing business with Iran, according to financial disclosure forms.

Rice, a possible nominee to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she steps down, has come under criticism for promulgating erroneous information about the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

Read more ....

My Comment: From her personal wealth to her investments .... to her role on how the U.S. should handle the Rwandan genocide, to a 1986 book in which she called for White students to be forced to read Black history .... a very unflattering portrayal of Susan Rice is starting to become available. Throw in even harsher commentary .... and one cannot help but believe that there is now a concerted effort to derail Susan Rice's prospects of being the next U.S. Secretary of State.

Update: At least she has some supporters .... including this person.

David Petraeus: 'I Screwed Up Royally'

David Petraeus Says He 'Screwed Up Royally' In Letter To Old Army Buddy -- New York Post

Ex-CIA chief David Petraeus took the blame for the extramarital affair that torpedoed his career, but his forgiving wife, Holly, is sticking by him, according to a newly revealed private letter.

“I screwed up royally,” Petraeus told his longtime Army pal, retired Brig. Gen. James Shelton in the hand-written missive.

“I paid the price (appropriately) and I sought to do the right thing at the end of the day,” he wrote in the Nov. 20 message.

Petraeus stepped down on Nov. 9 as news of his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell went public.

Read more ....

My Comment: Ignoring the fact that his "Army buddy" should not have publicized this personal letter .... but yeah .... the former General and CIA Director screwed up royally.

The Israel-Gaza War Is Still Ongoing Online

A chart prepared by CloudFlare documenting the huge spike in DDOS attacks on Israeli and Palestinian websites after last week’s ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Despite Ceasefire, Israel-Gaza War Continues Online -- Danger Room

It’s been a week since Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire pausing their war in Gaza. But on the internet, a different kind of fighting never stopped — and has actually intensified since the rockets stopped falling and the warplanes returned to their bases.

About two hours before last week’s ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, supporters of both sides intensified their barrage of distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against each other, according to CloudFlare, a U.S. company that provides DDOS protection services to websites that come under attack. The volume of attacks continuing after the ceasefire has outpaced those occurring during the offline hostilities.

Read more

My Comment: I expect these denial of service attacks will diminish with time .... and instead be replaced by a media and information campaign promoting one's side against the other. Some already believe that Hamas has won this type of information warfare.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

State Of Palestine Is Now Recognized By The U.N.

UN General Assembly Approves Palestinian Status Upgrade -- Voice of America

The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to recognize a Palestinian state with non-member observer status.

There was jubilation on the floor of the assembly after the resolution was approved Thursday by a vote of 138 to 9, with 41 nations abstaining. Palestinians in Ramallah, on the West Bank, erupted in wild cheers, hugging each other and honking horns after the vote.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the vote underscores the urgency for a resumption of meaningful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He urged both sides to renew their commitment to a negotiated peace.

Read more ....

More News On The UN Voting To Recognize State Of Palestine

Palestinians win upgraded UN status by wide margin -- BBC
UN vote recognizes state of Palestine; US objects
-- AP
Palestinians win implicit U.N. recognition of sovereign state -- Reuters
Palestinians Upgraded to ‘Observer State’ at UN -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Palestinians win UN recognition -- The Australian/AFP
U.N. approves Palestinian 'observer state' bid -- CNN
United Nations upgrades Palestine’s status -- Washington Post
Nine nations vote against Palestinian statehood upgrade at UN, including Israel, US and Canada -- Washington Post/AP
Palestinians celebrate UN statehood vote -- AP
UN Palestinian statehood vote a personal, political victory for Abbas -- NBC
UN vote boosts Palestinian statehood aspirations, could lead to new pressure on US and Israel -- FOX News/AP
What's all the fuss about a Palestinian U.N. upgrade?
-- Louis Charbonneau, Reuters

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

U.S. Ready to Step into Syria Conflict? -- Max Boot, Commentary

Better late than never. With President Obama having run and won reelection in part on a boast of having ended the war in Iraq and being in the process of ending the one in Afghanistan, his administration is now sending out signals that it might contemplate greater intervention in the war that has been raging in Syria. A front-page New York Times article reports that various steps are under consideration, from providing Patriot-3 batteries to Turkey to providing arms directly to the rebels and even sending intelligence officers into Syria to coordinate with the opposition. Such steps are long overdue, but now that they are on the table, the administration deserves Republican support for a bipartisan effort to try to bring the killing to an end and to hasten Bashar Assad’s downfall.

Read more

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Syria: The clouds darken for Assad -- Rodger Shanahan, The Interpreter

Falling for Hamas’s media manipulation -- Michael Oren, Washington Post

Will Egyptians put an end to Morsi's power grab? -- Khairi Abaza, FOX News

Analysis: Crisis tests Egyptians' constitution -- Jim Maceda, NBC News

Asia century a lot of hot air
-- Michael Richardson, Canberra Times

A theory for how China’s state newspaper got ‘fooled’ by The Onion -- Max Fisher, Washington Post

Benghazi Blowback -- Michael Walsh, NRO

Congo urgently needs U.S. help -- Ben Affleck, Washington Post

Inside Goma, Congo’s City of Terror‬ -- William Lloyd George, Daily Beast

US pivot to Mexico? -- Christian Science Monitor editorial

Al Qaeda’s Not as Battered as Obama Thinks -- Daniel Byman, New Republic

The double standard in affairs
-- Kathleen Parker, Washington Post

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

Palestinians Win Upgraded UN Status By Wide Margin -- BBC

The UN General Assembly has voted to grant the Palestinians non-member observer state status - a move opposed by Israel and the US.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the assembly the vote was the "last chance to save the two-state solution" with Israel.

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said the bid "doesn't advance peace - it pushes it backwards".

The assembly voted 138-9 in favour, with 41 nations abstaining.

Read more ....


Palestinians granted U.N. 'state' status. Palestine wins status of state in vote by U.N. Assembly. 'We are a country': Palestinians celebrate.

Fighting rages along Damascus airport road. Damascus fighting cuts off airport, Emirates suspends flights.

Syrian rebels turn looted missiles on Assad's aircraft.

Nationwide Internet blackout in Syria. Internet service goes out across Syria.

U.S. gives Iran until March to cooperate with IAEA.

Bombs kill 30 in Iraq Shi'ite cities. Wave of bomb attacks in Iraq kills 42.

Iran shows new submarines and warships, touts self-sufficiency in defense.

Palestinians to renew UN statehood bid.


U.S. Senate backs quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A not-so-firm deadline on a new government in Nepal.

NKorea speculation overshadows SKorean rocket.

Japan's new Restoration Party seeks more defense spending.

Sources: North Korea replaces defense minister.

North Korea pushing ahead with new nuclear reactor: IAEA.

Burmese police break up copper mine protest.

Afghan elite ransacked $900m from Kabul Bank, inquiry finds.

'Red Shirt' trial delayed in Thailand .


Egypt assembly votes on constitution.

Mursi to speak as Egypt's Islamists seek way out of crisis.

As rebels exit Goma, new concerns arise over insecurity.

Congo rebels pulling back; fate of Goma uncertain.

U.N. chief recommends "offensive military operation" in Mali.

UN envoy: No settlement in sight for W. Sahara.

Ethiopia promises support to rebuild Somalia.


NATO reassures Russia on missiles as ambassador contacts resume.

Analysis: At peak of powers, Merkel sets sights on third term.

Kosovo ex-premier Haradinaj cleared of war crimes again. Serbs frustrated, Kosovars elated as former Kosovo PM acquitted of war crimes.

Italy bracing for transportation strike.

Watchdog needed to curb British press 'havoc'.

Julian Assange suffering lung problems, says Ecuador.


GOP rejects cliff offer from Obama. Inside the talks: U.S. fiscal framework emerges. Democratic left keeps pressure on Obama.

Colombia: Farc peace talks in Cuba adjourned for a week.

Nicaragua patrols its new Caribbean maritime territory.

U.S. birth rate hits record low.

Largest trial of 'Dirty War' crimes starts in Argentina.

US economic growth rate revised up to 2.7%.

Shifting account of CIA's Libya talking points fuels Rice controversy.

2012 Mayan apocalypse rumors have dark side, NASA warns.

Winning Powerball tickets sold in Arizona, Kansas City area.


Three accused of plotting to join al Qaeda indicted in California.

Al-Qaeda urges Mali to reject foreign troops.

Guantanamo inmates could be moved to US jails.


Concorde crash: Continental Airlines cleared by France court.

RIM stock soars after Goldman Sachs upgrade.

US piracy crackdown delayed until 2013.

Bomb Attacks Sweep Iraq Killing Dozens

Deadly Bomb Attacks Rock Iraq For A Third Day -- CNN

Baghdad (CNN) -- At least 43 people were killed and more than 120 injured Thursday in Iraq as a series of bomb attacks ripped through the country for a third day running.

Eight people were killed and 21 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in the southern town of Twareej as a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims passed by, police officials said.

Sixteen more people were killed and another 75 wounded when two car bombs exploded outside popular restaurants in a commercial area of Hilla, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Bomb Attacks In Iraq

Scores killed in Iraq blasts -- Al Jazeera
Bombings in Iraq Kill at Least 48 -- New York Times
Iraq bombs take 43 lives -- Gulf Today
Iraq Bombings Target Shi'ite Areas -- Voice of America
Bombings kill Shias in Iraq cities of Hilla and Karbala -- BBC
Scores Dead in Iraq Attacks -- Wall Street Journal

U.S. Sets March Deadline For Iran To Cooperate With IAEA

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano attends a board of governors meeting at the UN headquarters in Vienna, November 29, 2012. Voice of America

U.S. Gives Iran Until March To Cooperate With IAEA -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The United States set a March deadline on Thursday for Iran to start cooperating in substance with a U.N. nuclear agency investigation, warning Tehran the issue may otherwise be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

The comments by U.S. diplomat Robert Wood to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency signaled Washington's growing frustration at a lack of progress in the IAEA's inquiry into possible military dimensions to Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran - which was first reported to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program by the IAEA's 35-nation board in 2006 and then was hit by U.N. sanctions - rejects suspicions it is on a covert quest for atomic bomb capability.

Read more ....

More News On Iran's Nuclear Program

IAEA Chief Hopes Tehran Meeting Will Aid Diplomatic Efforts
-- Radio Free Europe
U.N. nuclear chief sees no progress on Iran concerns
-- Reuters
IAEA Questions Iran's Nuclear Intentions -- Voice of America
UN nuclear chief expresses concern for inspectors -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Iran nuclear chief: Uranium enrichment to be stepped up with new centrifuges, reactor -- AP
Iran "will press on with enrichment:" nuclear chief -- Reuters
Iran's nuclear stockpile grows but not yet in "danger zone" -- Reuters
AP Exclusive: Graph suggests Iran working on bomb -- Bloomberg Businessweek/AP
AP's dangerous Iran hoax demands an accounting and explanation -- Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian
Iran Delay of Reactor to 2014 Gives Talks Time: Diplomats -- Bloomberg Businessweek

Egypt's President Unplugged

Egyptian President Now Rambling about “Planet Of The Apes” In Foreign-Policy Interviews -- Hot Air

On the one hand, he’s nuts. On the other hand, using a tortured pop-culture metaphor for geopolitics suggests he’d make a fine blogger. Is “The Walking Dead” actually an elaborate metaphor for America’s looming fiscal collapse? Your answer to that question will tell you if you’re prepared for the logic bomb that’s about to be dropped on you. (Answer: Yes.)

He does seem to think that the remake of “Planet of the Apes” was terrible, which means he hasn’t lost touch with reality entirely:

Read more ....

My Comment: When I was reading the Time's transcript of their interview with Egyptian President Mursi .... I was scratching my head and wondering if the translation got screwed up (apparently not). Sighhh .... if this is the type of man who is leading Egypt, Egypt is in trouble .... and if Egypt is in trouble, so is everyone else.

The Time's article is here, the transcript is here.

Aftermath Of A Bombing In Syria (Graphic Video)

My Comment
: I have seen many videos from Syria on the conflict .... and while this is not the worse one .... it clearly illustrates how destructive and desperate the Syrian civil war has become.

Who is Supporting The Syrian Government?

Without Iran’s Support, Assad Regime Will Collapse: Report -- Al Arabiya

Iran is increasingly worried about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime’s fate and is distraught that the regime is not taking recommendations from the Islamic republic to keep its power, an Iranian report obtained by a Western diplomatic source said.

Iranian forces in Syria are increasingly burdened due to the Syrian regime leaders not following their advices as the situation in the conflict-torn country becomes more chaotic, the report, which was obtained by an embassy of a Western country in Tehran, said.

The report, however, did not mention details explaining the Iranian recommendations given to the Syrian regime.

Read more ....

My Comment
: I would also throw in Russia with their "secret weapon supply routes" .... even though they deny it, and political support from leftist leaders in Latin America.

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

Fighting Rages Along Damascus Airport Road -- Al Jazeera

Activists say road closed following heavy clashes, as the internet is shut off across the country.

Battles between Syrian rebels and government troops have reportedly forced the closure of the main road leading to Damascus International Airport.

The news came as the Dubai-based Emirates airline suspended flights to the Syrian capital on Thursday.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said there was heavy fighting "along all the areas along the road" to the airport, southeast of the city.

The activist group said clashes were particularly intense in Babbila, a suburb bordering the rebel stronghold of Tadamoun.

Read more ....

More News On Syria's Civil War

Syria Live Blog -- Al Jazeera
Syrian internet and phone lines cut as Damascus fighting intensifies – live -- The Guardian

Major Syria army offensive on airport road -- The Australian
Syria Pushes Back as Rebels Advance -- Voice of America
Syrian rebels press ahead on two fronts -- Star Tribune/New York Times
Damascus clashes cut off airport, Emirates suspends flights -- Reuters
Syria conflict: 'Fierce clashes' near Damascus airport -- BBC
Rebel says Damascus airport blocked off, mortars fired -- Reuters

Syria using mines and cluster bombs on civilians: campaigners
-- Reuters
Syria alone using landmines in 2012: campaigners -- AFP

Syria rebels have new anti-aircraft missile systems: report -- Daily Star
Officials: Syrian rebels’ arsenal includes up to 40 antiaircraft missile systems -- Washington Post
Syrian rebels muster new air power -- The Australian/The Times
Arms and the Manpads: Syrian rebels get anti-aircraft missiles -- The Guardian

Syria rebels using children in battle: HRW -- The Australian/AFP
Syria Child Soldiers: Rebels Using Children In War - Human Rights Watch -- Huffington Post/Reuters
Syrian Rebels Using Children For Combat: Human Rights Watch -- RTT

In Syria, clashes between Arab rebels, Kurds -- Washington post
As Opposition Coalition Meets in Cairo, More Violence Kills Dozens in Syria -- New York Times
Splits mar start of Syrian opposition talks
-- Reuters
Clashes Between Syrian Kurds, Rebels Worry Turkey
-- Voice of America
Turkey president says Syrian attack unlikely -- AFP

EgyptAir cancels Friday flight to Damascus -- Reuters
Dubai's Emirates airline suspends Syria flights -- Reuters

Syrians cling to hope amid despair at refugee camp -- Gulf News
Syria crisis: Is the balance of power shifting? -- BBC
Syria: Is the World Waiting for Genocide? -- Ahmed Zewail, Huffington Post

U.S. Considering Deeper Involvement In The Syrian Civil War

U.S. Weighs Bolder Effort To Intervene In Syria’s Conflict -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Considering Greater Involvement In The Syrian Civil War

Obama's Syria Plan Just Got a Little Less Mysterious -- The Atlantic
AP sources: US preparing to upgrade recognition of Syria’s opposition, offer greater support -- Washington Post/AP
Ambassador to Syria Leaves Door Open to Arming Opposition -- Time
US Rethinks Role in Syria
-- Newser
National Security Brief: White House Considering Deeper Involvement In Syria -- Think Progress

My Comment: Republican and Democrat senators are unifying around the idea that the U.S. should get more directly involved. What's my opinion .... stay away from Middle East conflicts.