cue the lightning bolts

the only question that matters: is it true?

Iran has signed the NPT. As a signatory to the NPT, Iran may rightfully, legally, use nuclear technology for peaceful energy purposes. Iran has submitted to and passed repeated IAEA inspections. The US intelligence community (NIE) does not consider Iran a nuclear threat. Israel refuses to sign the NPT. Israel has an estimated several hundred undeclared nuclear weapons. Russia and China have warned that an attack on Iran will have global consequences. That's the situation in a nutshell. Where to next, people? Where to?

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? - Galatians 4:16


why there is never any progress

We now know that 911-related intelligence was "fixed" around a preset agenda for Greater Israel long sought by Israelis and pro-Israelis with the help of Iraqi liar Ahmad Chalabi, an asset developed over decades by Zionist war-planners Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz.

Pakistan must realize that the same mental and emotional manipulation deployed to induce a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is now being used to provoke an invasion of Iran. By destabilizing Pakistan and portraying its western provinces as a haven for Al Qaeda, Zionists will make it appear that Islamabad's nuclear arsenal is insecure. That perception heightens the plausibility of an attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran, citing a nuclear risk.

read more @ veterans today

1. ex-CIA operative warns of terror attack, the terrorists will come from the very areas where our troops are deployed

(CBS) A former CIA operative with the most direct experience fighting al Qaeda on the ground and who predicted the 9/11 attacks has "no doubt" the terrorist organization will strike U.S. soil again.

Henry Crumpton, the ex-CIA mastermind of the war on the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan right after 9/11, also tells 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan the U.S. needs to be in Pakistan making deals with locals to fight the Qaeda and Taliban leaders hiding there.

Logan's story, including a rare interview with the head of the Afghan intelligence service, will be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 27, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"There will be an attack in the homeland …sadly…I think we'll be hit again," says Crumpton. Asked by Logan whether he had any doubts, he replies, "None." The former CIA man on the ground in Afghanistan days after 9/11 says the future attack could be greater than the one that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.

Crumpton is in the best position to make such a statement. It was he, with a few other CIA operatives, who enlisted Afghan tribal fighters to dislodge al-Qaeda and their Taliban hosts from Afghanistan in the weeks after the 9/11 attack.

To do so, he offered tribal leaders "a carrot and stick," says Crumpton. "The carrot would be if you come cooperate with us, we will reward you and your people. The stick was if you did not cooperate, the chances of your survival were greatly diminished," says Crumpton. Some tribal leaders were killed to make the point, he says.

That's how the U.S. needs to deal with the current situation in Afghanistan, says Crumpton. "This is not going to be a war that we win, certainly in a conventional sense, anytime soon," he tells Logan. "In Pakistan and elsewhere where you see enemy's safe haven, where they are the power…we must be the insurgents. We must work and recruit with locals and we must collect intelligence…engage in subversion and sabotage," says Crumpton.

Amrullah Saleh, the head of the Afghan intelligence service who worked with Crumpton in 2001, agrees. "Al Qaeda and Taliban are now headquartered in Pakistan," he tells Logan. "The bulk of the people we kill, neutralize or capture in Afghanistan are the expendable part of the terrorist network. The leadership is there and they are not feeling the heat, apart from these occasional drone attacks," says Saleh.

But the U.S. needs to stay in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future as well, says Amrullah.

To withdraw the troops not only means glory for al Qaeda, but a nightmare scenario for Afghans. "First, a massacre campaign will start. The human cost in this country will easily be up to two million people killed," says Amrullah. Says Crumpton, "[Afghanistan] is an enduring security concern for the United States…and for me, it’s much like déjà vu because prior to 9/11, I said 'If we do not address the situation in Afghanistan, we will suffer in the homeland. It will happen.' And it did."

source: cbs news

2. Mumbai attacks impeded improvement of Indo-Pak relationship - which is convenient to those who wish to prolong instability in the region

NEW DELHI, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- Relations between India and Pakistan have been plagued by decades of mistrust and suspicion, and now it still can not be changed after 10 terrorists launched attacks on Mumbai in November last year.

Political analysts here said that for several years prior Mumbai attacks, India had tried to forge a "friendly" relation with Pakistan although the two nations fought three major wars since the Partition in 1947. But the Mumbai terror attacks destroyed it all and is now an impediment in the peace process between the two countries.

...Some analysts also said that India is in the meantime frustrated with U.S. strategy in South Asia and should not blindly follow the anti-terror ideology of the West while solving its disputes with Pakistan.

"In fact, the U.S. is playing a game in South Asia. On the one hand, it's saying that Pakistan should act on India's Mumbai attacks dossiers, on the other hand it wants the Pakistani Army's cooperation in its fight against the al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan," political analyst S.K. Gupta said.

For solving the dispute over Mumbai attacks, India and Pakistan should count on bilateral efforts to reduce tension rather than allowing the situation being further complicated by other issues such as the U.S.-led Afghan War, said some other analysts.

"Both India and Pakistan should realize one truth: outside powers will complicate the politics of this region, not help solve it," said Mehta in an article published in a leading local newspaper recently.

read more @ chinaview

3. ramping up Afghan war to control Caspian oil and transport routes

The 800-pound gorilla standing in the auditorium at West Point is still waiting for an answer to why Obama made his surge-speech for 30,000 more troops and $30 billion to pay for them. That gorilla wonders “why” Obama pitched so hard for the US to stay and surge through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The reasons given were that the Afghanistan Taliban and Al Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden were the people that attacked us on 9/11, which was an iteration of George W. Bush’s reasons for the War on Terror. They are as phony now as the day Bush promised to smoke out Bin Laden.

But, here are Obama’s actual words, pointed out by Christopher Bollyn on page 2 of his article, Why Afghanistan?

“1. I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al-Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.

“2. It is important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them murder nearly 3,000 people.

“3: If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.”

Also, as early as Oct. 14, 2001, a month and three days after 9/11, Bollyn wrote in The Great Game – The War For Caspian Oil And Gas: “President Bush’s ‘crusade’ against the Taliban of Afghanistan has more to do with control of the immense oil and gas resources of the Caspian Basin than it does with ‘rooting out terrorism.’

...Back then, Maiman also mentioned to the Wall Street Journal his role was to further the “geopolitical goals of both the US and Israel in Central Asia. We are doing what US and Israeli policy could not achieve, controlling the transport route is controlling the product.”

...Murray adds, “There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”

read more @ online journal

4. also, the drug trade

Instead, in the aftermath of 9/11 they were there to wage a “War on Terror”; at least that’s the official line repeated by the corporate media.

In reality however, Coalition forces were there to help re-establish the drugs trade. All the talk about fighting terror is a smokescreen to conceal the real reason for the invasion and continued occupation.

When the Taliban took power in 1996 the world powers took little interest in Afghanistan. In July 2000 that changed when the ruling Taliban outlawed the cultivation of opium poppies as a sin against Islam. At the time Afghanistan was the source of nearly 80% of the world’s heroin.

...It’s not just ‘foreign policy’ however but a lucrative business where vast amounts of money can be made. What’s more none of it need be accounted for, which is why it is so appealing to the West’s ruling elite. Vast amounts of money can be made and used to finance secret ‘Black Budget’ projects, which needn’t be accounted for or even known about.

read more @ the truth seeker

Nigerian allegedly got explosives in Yemen

1. Nigerian government orders probe into US plane bombing attempt

LAGOS, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian government announced a probe on Saturday into the attempted attack by its national on a U.S. passenger plane.

In a statement, the government authorized the security department to take steps to "identify" the suspect and the motives behind the bombing attempt.

U. S. intelligence officials said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid, which failed when the suspect, a 23-year-old Nigerian, tried to detonate it before the landing of an AirbusA330 wide-body jet at a Detroit airport. All the 278 passengers onboard the plane were evacuated, with the suspect burned and several others slightly injured.

source: chinaview

2. Nigerian man linked to al-Qaeda, flew via Amsterdam to US, got the explosives in Yemen naturally. Miraculously gets past security with his explosives.

bdul Mudallad, a 23 year-old Nigerian burnt his leg trying to ignite an explosive device on the jet with 278 passengers on board. Mr. Mutallab reportedly told investigators he had links to al-Qaeda and had received the explosives in Yemen. U.S. intelligence official said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it. Mr. Mudallad was an engineering student at University College London.

According to the federal “situational awareness” bulletin: “The subject is claiming to have extremist affiliation and that the device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used.”

Fellow passengers who smelled smoke and heard cracking sounds reportedly rushed to subdue the Nigerian. Mr. Syed Jafri one of the passengers aboard the airline told MSNBC television network that he had been seated three rows behind the suspect and had seen a glow and noticed a smoke smell. "A young man behind me jumped on him. Next thing you know, there was a lot of panic," Mr. Jafri was quoted.

Another unnamed passenger said he heard a pop sound and saw a smoke and flames, before the suspect was reprimanded. The suspect later told the US authorities he had taped explosive powder to his leg and used a syringe of chemicals to mix with the powder that was to cause explosion, MSNBC reported.

The plane which flew from Amsterdam was to land at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport Friday afternoon. The suspect was reported to have traveled from Lagos international airport in Nigeria on board KLM Flight 588 and made a connection in Amsterdam on to Northwest 253. According to ABC News his visa stated that he was traveling to the US for a religious ceremony. Initial reports were that he had lit firecrackers on board the Airbus 330, which was carrying 278 passengers. According to U.S authorities, Mr. Muttalab was reportedly on a US intelligence “watch-list” but not on the US Government’s no-fly list.

The US House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee chair, Republican Peter King, has said that investigators were looking into whether the incident was part of a larger plot and a worldwide alert had been raised. However additional screening measures has been put into effect since the incident. The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing shortly before noon when a smoke detector alarm went off.

The Nigerian Diaspora have meanwhile expressed disappointment and concern over the susceptibility of al-Qaeda sleeper cells amongst predominantly Northern Muslim Nigerians. The Nigerian Taliban known as Boko Haram, an anti-western extremist Muslim group that sprung up in Northern Nigeria in July and threatened state civility in Nigeria were armed with machetes, knives, home-made hunting rifles and petrol bombs.

The group went on rampage in several states across Northern Nigeria, attacking churches, police stations, prisons and government buildings, and demanding sharia law for all Nigeria as opposed to democratic western-styled education and ideals.

After the sects uprising in northern Nigeria, many beheaded bodies were found in the sect’s headquarters, including at least three Christian preachers and the second in command of the military operation. Hundreds of sect members were also killed by Nigerian security forces in a major clampdown to dismantle the sect. Over 700 deaths related to the violence was reported.

The presence of an al-Qaeda branch operating across the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, Morocco, Mali and Niger and Nigeria’s porous borders was confirmed when a report submitted to top government officials in 2007 had identified and classified the Boko Haram sect as a "murderous religious group" that had been train by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. State Security Service of Nigeria stated that "the group was linked to Al Qaeda through some of its members including Barah Abdul and Mohamed Al-Amin who were in Afghanistan and have strong links with some Al Qaeda leaders".


3. 12/14/09: US sends special forces to Yemen amid crisis

US special forces have reportedly been sent to Yemen to train its army, as the Yemeni military backed by the Saudi Arabian army has been fighting local Houthi fighters in the north of the country.

The development comes amid fears that foreign military intervention in the country has put Yemeni civilians in dire condition.

American officials told The Daily Telegraph on Sunday that US forces have been sent to Yemen to prevent the country from turning into a "reserve base" for al-Qaeda.

The move to strengthen Yemen's army comes at a time that the country's army is not fighting with al-Qaeda militants, which are based in the southern parts of the country.

read more @ press tv

4. let's recap

Nigeria's president has been in a hospital in Saudi Arabia for a month, leaving Nigeria in political chaos. Oil companies are trying to get deals done but cannot because the president has not delegated his authority and remains behind some sort of information firewall in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia has been fighting Yemeni rebels also for a month. Supposedly al-Qaeda is in Yemen. The rebels are conflated with al-Qaeda.

US forces go to Saudi Arabia to help fight the Yemeni "al-Qaeda" rebels. They kill civilians. al-Qaeda has a news conference, seemingly unafraid of exposure.

A Nigerian somehow gets explosives from Yemen, not sure when or how, and flies to the US, via Amsterdam, supposedly on a religious purpose, and explodes the firecrackers on his leg. He is apprehended and claims to be linked to al-Qaeda. The Nigerian government vows to investigate.

Just waiting on how this ties back to Iran.....

political chaos in Nigeria

1. President of Nigeria has been away in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment since 11/23/09.

A new twist has been added to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s absence-from-the-country saga, as an opposition member of the House of Representatives – Farouk Adamu Aliyu - and one Sani Garun Gabass have approached an Abuja Federal High Court seeking an order directing Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to start performing the function of the president. Also yesterday, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) denied that he wrote to the vice-president, asking him to take over from President Yar’Adua who has been admitted in a Saudi Arabian hospital since November 23, 2009. Aondoakaa said he was not in a position to direct the vice-president to take over.

2. Nigeria faces government collapse as a result

President Yar'''Adua was flown out of Nigeria on 23 November, 2009 to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia where he has since been receiving medical attention for acute pericarditis'' (inflammation of the heart'''s lining). He jetted out of the country without informing both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives about his inability to discharge the functions of his office and has spent more than one month outside the country. During his absence, a number of state duties having to do with release of monies for the running of government machineries which the 1999 constitution directly empowers him to do are suffering while in less than one week from today, the nation'''s Chief Justice, Justice Kutigi would bow out of the bench with no one to swear in his successor, Justice Katsina Iyorger Alu.

3. Corrupt aides running the show while the president remains in Saudi Arabia

It does not include those who are sufficiently worried about the president’s achievement or lack of it in almost three years in office. Those who do not wish Yar’Adua well, like the insects that destroy the kola nut, live within. They are some of his aides and advisers and ministers and political associates who have little or no clue about his present condition and yet lie to the nation on how well he’s recovering.

...What the nation is told after every cabinet meeting is that the president is responding to treatment or the president will soon return home or only his doctors can determine when he would return or such other sweeping generalization that says nothing and means nothing. There have been no specifics, no facts, nothing to hold on to as to his state and condition on a daily basis. This has created room for all kinds of media speculations and widespread rumours that are neither dignifying to the person and office of the president nor healthy for the nation. Indeed the handling of Yar’Adua’s illness has made Nigeria a laughing stock around the world.

4. Important decisions languish while the president remains in Saudi Arabia

Some of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country, particularly Shell and Chevron, which mining and exploration licenses have expired are said to be in a quandary as their mining leases cannot be renewed because of the absence of the President.

Again, the National Assembly is in the process of passing the Petroleum Industry Bill, a critical legislation that would open up the oil sector and ensure the equity participation of the oil producing communities in Nigeria. It is a single bill that contains all the legal requirements that will apply to the entire petroleum industry in Nigeria.

If this bill is passed tomorrow, it cannot become law because the assent of the President is required. And the Vice President cannot give such assent in the present circumstance.

Even militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, whom Mr. Yar'Adua brought into peace talks only weeks ago, now worry they have no "good faith partner" to negotiate an end to attacks that have cut into Nigeria's oil-dependent economy.

An oil industry source disclosed that Yar'Adua's absence had become an important issue for oil and gas investors, especially as the multinational petroleum operators have not renewed their OMLs, which are due for renewal very soon. The situation, it was gathered, was particularly delicate for the foreign oil firms, which have been locked in negotiations over their expiring licenses and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), now before the National Assembly. An official of one of the companies, who craved anonymity, stated that they may follow the example of ExxonMobil Corporation, which successfully signed a 20-year extension on three oil licenses in November, this year.


oh dear, that's gonna leave a mark

teh awkward turtle

1. US rabbi involved in sex scandal led fight against Israel conversions

It is hard to imagine a more embarrassing situation in which to find an exclusive ultra-Orthodox organization - a group that was a standard-bearer in the fight against "breaches in the wall of conversion" and "the penetration of complete gentiles into the vineyard of Israel."

These breaches pale into insignificance in comparison with the accusations against the man who heads the organization itself: according to the claims, Rabbi Leib Tropper of Rockland County abandoned the apparently stringent Halakhic standards of his Haredi organization and established a conversion process based on his most private impulses.

A report in the New York Post earlier this week revealed a sensational story about "a prominent Orthodox rabbi has been caught on tape discussing his apparent love affair with a shiksa he was converting to Judaism."

The woman involved is 32-year-old Shannon Orand of Houston, who still seeks to convert from Christianity to Judaism. The bulk of the report deals with embarrassing comments that the rabbi made during a phone call, during which he was recorded demanding the woman perform a number of sexual services for himself and his friends in exchange for granting her a conversion certificate.

read more @ haaretz

2. Tal-mood for love: sex-tape rabbi tries to "share" hottie

Eww, that's not kosher!

A prominent Orthodox rabbi has been caught on tape discussing his apparent love affair with a shiksa he was converting to Judaism -- whom he allegedly also pushed to have sex with his friends.

Rabbi Leib Tropper of Rockland County is heard encouraging pretty, blond Shannon Orand of Houston to participate in phone sex and actual sex with men the rabbi knows, including one he calls "the Satmar guy."

Tropper, who calls the woman "darling" and "cutie pie," talks about his own love affair with her at one point, saying: "I want to squeeze you."

He also fantasized about rape. "I could role-play a rape with you but I couldn't actually rape you -- you know what I'm saying, darling -- does that make sense?" he asks.

The scandal has rocked the Orthodox community from Rockland to Israel, and transcripts of the sex tapes are circulating on Jewish blogs, with the audio posted on YouTube.

The rabbi talks about paying Orand money for a lawyer and a stipend of $1,300 for the month of November. He also mentions putting in writing an agreement between the two.

"Why would you want to document that kind of agreement on an e-mail?" an upset Orand asks.

Orand, who identifies herself on the tape, apparently recorded the phone conversations. "It was only supposed to go to a few leading rabbis," Orand, 32, told The Post.

She refused to comment further, and later released a statement saying, "While an individual 'rabbi' acted in an inappropriate manner, my desire to become a bona fide Jew is undeterred."

Orand reportedly told a Jewish blog,, that Tropper would tell her: "If you fulfill my needs, I'll fulfill yours -- and you need a conversion."

The blog reported that Orand's conversion was to have been finalized last week, but was canceled at the last minute by a religious court.

Tropper declined to comment, but a source close to him said the rabbi feels like he's a victim and was used by Orand.

He resigned effective Dec. 12 from Eternal Jewish Family, a Monsey-based organization that primarily works to convert gentiles in interfaith marriages to Judaism.

The 59-year-old rabbi is the founder of Eternal Jewish Family and sought to create strict universal guidelines for conversion, which are handled differently by various Jewish sects.

source: ny post

3. America's Most Wanted: doctor found living in tent on Mont Blanc

It was the beginning of a five-year flight from justice that ended this week even more strangely than it began, almost 6,000 feet up in the Italian Alps. Two officers of the paramilitary Carabinieri, led by a mountain guide, trudged up to the southern slopes of Mont Blanc to find one of America's most wanted fugitives living in a tent. He was surviving in temperatures as low as -18C on dried and tinned food and snow he melted on a portable stove.

Dr Mark Weinberger, a 46-year-old ear, nose and throat specialist, was tonight in a secure ward at the Molinette hospital in Turin recovering from a wound he sustained when he tried to take his own life at the Carabinieri station in Courmayeur, below Mont Blanc.

The US authorities have 40 days in which to apply for his extradition. He faces trial on 22 counts of healthcare fraud, having previously been indicted by a grand jury.

Brought up in a prosperous New York suburb, Weinberger was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and the UCLA medical school. He later worked with one of Chicago's most renowned plastic surgeons before opening his own practice, the Weinberger Sinus Clinic, in Merrillville, Indiana.

...Michelle Weinberger later said she reckoned her husband was earning $200,000 (£124,000) a week, performing between seven and 15 operations.

...The first hint of trouble emerged in October 2002 when a lawyer acting for the estate of a woman who had died of throat cancer filed a complaint with the Indiana department of insurance. The complaint claimed Weinberger failed to diagnose her cancer and instead carried out an unnecessary operation on her sinuses that was paid for by her insurance company.

After it became clear that they knew who he was, the runaway doctor asked to go to the lavatory. There, he whipped out a tiny knife he had secreted in his underwear and plunged it into his throat. But despite being an expert surgeon, he missed the artery he appeared to be aiming for, and the Carabinieri hustled him away for first aid.

read more @ guardian

4. Italy ok's extradition

A court in Turin has approved a U.S. extradition request for a fugitive American doctor accused of fraud and malpractice who was found in a tent near Mont Blanc.

Deputy chief prosecutor Gianfranco Burino says Mark Weinberger, arrested Dec. 15 near Italy's northern border with France, didn't fight extradition at hearing Tuesday.

It is now up to the Justice Ministry to decide how to proceed. Justice Minister Angelino Alfano has 40 days to decide whether to return Weinberger to the United States.

Weinberger, of Merrillville, Indiana, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Hammond, Indiana, in 2006 on 22 counts of fraud for allegedly scheming to overbill insurance companies for procedures that were either not needed or never performed.

source: taiwan news

5. Nevada gambler cons CIA

The intelligence reports fitted the suspicions of the time: al-Qaida sleeper agents were scattered across the US awaiting orders that were broadcast in secret codes over the al-Jazeera television network.

Flights from Britain and France were cancelled. Officials warned of a looming "spectacular attack" to rival 9/11. In 2003 President Bush's homeland security tsar, Tom Ridge, spoke of a "credible source" whose information had US military bracing for a new terrorist onslaught.

Then suddenly no more was said.

Six years later, Playboy magazine has revealed that the CIA fell victim to an elaborate con by a compulsive gambler who claimed to have developed software that discovered al-Jazeera broadcasts were being used to transmit messages to terrorists buried deep in America.

Dennis Montgomery, 56, the co-owner of a software gaming company in Nevada, who has since been arrested for bouncing $1m worth of cheques, claims his program read messages hidden in barcodes listing international flights to the US, their positions and airports to be targeted.

The CIA took the information seriously, working with Montgomery at his offices and paying him an undisclosed amount of money. The "intelligence" Montgomery claimed to have found was passed on to the White House and homeland security where it kickstarted an alert that bordered on panic.

According to Playboy, Montgomery's claims caused the cancellation of British Airways and other flights supposedly mentioned in the codes.

Some officials were not at all surprised to hear the allegation that al-Jazeera was involved. The then defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, later vilified the station for "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable" reporting of the US invasion of Iraq.

For months, the source of the information was kept under wraps within the CIA but once it became more widely known in the agency it immediately came under question. Playboy quotes one former counterterrorism official who attended a briefing on the source as being furious. He said: "I was saying: 'This is crazy. This is embarrassing.' They claimed they were breaking the code, getting latitude and longitude, and al-Qaida operatives were decoding it. They were coming up with airports and everything, and we were just saying: 'You know, this is horseshit!' "

Frances Townsend, a homeland security adviser to Bush, defended the decision to work with Montgomery. "It didn't seem beyond the realm of possibility. We were relying on technical people to tell us whether or not it was feasible. I don't regret having acted on it," she told Playboy.

But the doubts began to prevail as Montgomery refused to reveal how he was finding the barcodes, when no one else could, and he demanded $100m for the software. The CIA also began to wonder why al-Qaida didn't use emails and web pages to communicate with its agents.

source: guardian

6. hahahahaha, Merry Christmas!

fun with oligarchs

1. Deripaska blasts Khodorkovsky, lauds Putin

Former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky became an oligarch through "the support of a fairy godfather" and Russia became a free country under Vladimir Putin, billionaire Oleg Deripaska
said in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, Deripaska offered harsh criticism for the reforms of the 1990s and made a string of accusations about Khodorkovsky.

"Khodorkovsky, for example, didn't serve in the army," Deripaska said. "And I'd like to know why, and he didn't have very good grades."

The Basic Element owner also brought up Khodorkovsky's past as a high-ranking official in the Komsomol, the Communist Party's youth organization.

"There are people who worked, and there are those who, as a member of the Komsomol, found the support of a fairy godfather who gave them everything," Deripaska told the newspaper.

Alexander Temerko, a former deputy chief of Yukos, responded to the interview, suggesting that Khodorkovsky would defend his political convictions even from prison, where he is serving an eight-year sentence on tax charges.

"If, God forbid, Oleg Vladimirovich [Deripaska] were to find himself in such a situation, one could only wish him courage and express the hope that his service in the army would help him bear similar ordeals with just as much dignity" as Khodorkovsky, Temerko said.

The interview is not political, and Deripaska is merely offering his personal opinion on a number of economic issues, his spokesman said. In October, El Pais and other Spanish newspapers said local judge Balthazar Garzon was planning to visit Moscow to speak with Deripaska, whom he suspects of laundering "the Russian mafia's" money in Spain.

Deripaska criticized the reformers of the 1990s, including the recently deceased Yegor Gaidar, who served as Russia's first acting prime minister and "put an end to the planned economy overnight and didn't create anything to replace it."

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin received much warmer praise. "Our country is much freer than certain other developed democratic countries," he told the newspaper.

He also said he was not an oligarch because he only helps the state and doesn't ask it for anything.

Over the past two years, however, his companies have received significant state assistance. In October 2008, United Company RusAl received a $4.5 billion loan from VEB, and the state bank recently said it was willing to spend 20 billion rubles ($656 million) to buy 3 percent of the company during its January IPO.

The state has also offered guarantees for 20 billion rubles in loans to Deripaska's carmaker, GAZ Group.

Deripaska is now very dependent on the state, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said. GAZ is making a not very competitive product, so it is no surprise that Deripaska would give an interview like this, he added.

source: moscow times

2. Russian supreme court deems arrest of Khordorkovsky associate "illegal"

Russia's supreme court has ruled the 2003 arrest of Platon Lebedev, a business associate of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was illegal.

Russia's highest court ruled on Wednesday that the 2003 arrest of Platon Lebedev, the businessman convicted in connection with Russia's former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was illegal.

The case was reviewed after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that found Lebedev's rights had been violated during his arrest and pre-trial detention.

Lebedev was arrested in 2003 along with Khodorkovsky, who is the former CEO of the now disbanded Yukos oil company. Both men are serving eight-year prison terms after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion. They are now facing a second trial on fresh charges of embezzlement and money laundering which could keep them in jail for another 20 years. Khodorkovsky's supporters have argued for quite some time that the charges against both men were politically motivated. They say the prison sentences amount to government retaliation for the fact that they helped finance the opposition when Vladimir Putin was president. Khodorkovsky has repeatedly stressed his innocence, and says government officials wanted him in jail so they could carve up his multi-billion dollar empire.

However, the government has maintained that the two men are guilty of large financial crimes dating back to the 1990's. Putin, who is now prime minister, recently said on Russian TV that Khodorkovsky and other former bosses of Yukos ordered the murder of their opponents.

Lebedev's lawyers say they are still not sure what the implications of Wednesday's court decision will be.

source: dw-world


shorter: China is in charge

1. China resets terms of engagement in Central Asia -- long but very informative


Growing nervousness in Washington about the Chinese pipeline was quite palpable. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a rare hearing in July regarding China's geopolitical thrust into the Central Asian region. Testifying at the hearing, Richard Morningstar, the US special envoy for energy, underlined that the US needed to develop strategies to compete with China for energy in Central Asia.

This was perhaps the first time that a senior US official has openly flagged China as the US's rival in the energy politics of Central Asia. US experts usually have focused attention on Russian dominance of the region's energy scene and worked for diminishing the Russian presence in the post-Soviet space by canvassing support for Trans-Caspian projects that bypassed Russian territory. In fact, some American experts on the region even argued that China was a potential US ally for isolating Russia.

Certainly, 2009 was a turning point in American discourses on Chinese policies in Central Asia. As China's Turkmen gas pipeline got closer to completion, US disquiet began to surface.

read more @ asia times

2. how do i know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? i was in teh room -- with 700+ comments

Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.

China's strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world's poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait. The failure was "the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility", said Christian Aid. "Rich countries have bullied developing nations," fumed Friends of the Earth International.

read more @ guardian

3. China, India, S. Africa, Brazil emerge from Copenhagen

The emergence of China, India, South Africa and Brazil as a grouping was the most significant outcome of the climate talks in Copenhagen, the chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Wednesday.

The Copenhagen Accord _ which urges major polluters to make deeper emissions cuts but does not require it _ emerged principally from President Barack Obama's meeting with the leaders of the four countries, a group referred to as BASIC.

"This is a very significant political development," said Rajendra Pachauri, whose scientific panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in 2007.

Developed countries will "have to deal with the power of this group ... for reaching a full fledged binding agreement in Mexico next year," Pachauri said in his first media briefing since returning from talks in the Danish capital last week.

read more @ taiwan news

playing games

1. israel conducts wargames, channels Obama, tries to divine the future

TEL AVIV: Israel will find itself diplomatically sidelined and militarily muzzled as the United States pursues a nuclear deal with Iran next year, according to a closed-door wargame at Israel's top strategic think-tank. Not even a warning shot by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - the simulation featured an undeclared Israeli commando raid on Iran's Arak heavy water plant-would shake US President Barack Obama's insistence on dialogue. Israel's arch-foe, meanwhile, will likely keep enriching uranium, perhaps even winning the grudging assent of the West.

The Iranians came out feeling better than the Americans, as they were simply more determined to stick to their objectives," said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser who played Netanyahu in the Nov 1 wargame at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). Reflecting Israel's relative isolation, Eiland and his team spent much of the simulation sequestered from the multilateral talks in the snug, three-storey INSS building. "Netanyahu" did have hallway encounters with President Barack Obama-played by Zvi Rafiah, an Israeli ex-diplomat with extensive US ties. But their chats were hasty and hazy.

Our leverage over the Americans, when we could prise them away from the Iranians and Europeans and others, was limited," Eiland told Reuters. "Pretty much the only card we had to play was the military action card. And that's a faded card." Assumed to have the region's sole atomic arsenal, Israel has hinted at preemptive air strikes as a last resort for denying Iran the means to make a bomb. But many experts believe Israel would be tactically stymied and loath to cross Washington, which is wary of unleashing a fresh Middle East conflict. "I care about Israel. I must defend Israel. But Israel cannot act unilaterally," said Rafiah, channeling Obama.

The simulation-in which several serving Israeli officials took part on condition their names would not be made public- was run by Emily Landau, a senior INSS policy expert. Reuters obtained a first look at the conclusions after they were passed to the Netanyahu government. "The idea was to create a situation whereby the Americans try a new, bilateral approach to Iran-both in terms of curbing its nuclear project and finding a way of satisfying its other demands," said Landau, who sees little future for UN Security Council sanctions given Russian and Chinese balking. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the wargame results would be incorporated in internal strategic assessments. Such papers are not generally shared with the United States.

As it happened, the wargamers hunkered down in long-set stances: Iran entertaining negotiations while refusing to give up nuclear projects it says are peaceful; the United States talking tough but avoiding outright threats; and Israel fuming. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, a former chief of Israel's military intelligence who played Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, envisaged Tehran staying on its nuclear track "unless facing a threat to the survival of the regime".

That just wasn't forthcoming from the Americans or their coalition," Zeevi-Farkash said, adding that "Obama" should have buttressed negotiations by boosting the US naval deployment in the Gulf or persuading India to slash its business ties to Iran. According to Zeevi-Farkash, Iran would be unlikely to launch a nuclear attack on Israel, preferring to use such weaponry to protect against invasion and wield regional clout. As such, a preemptive Israeli strike could spur Iran to get the bomb.

Iran would argue that it was the victim of international aggression, and appeal for foreign understanding," he said, adding that, as Khamenei, he had kept open communications with other world powers while negotiating with the United States. The simulation saw brief brinkmanship after the imagined Israeli sabotage at Arak. "Khamenei" responded by dispatching a Revolutionary Guards commander to Syria and Venezuela, flaunting Iranian influence near the Israeli and US orbits.

To the dismay of "Netanyahu", "Obama" did not answer this with force, though he did extend security guarantees to Israel. Eiland said the simulation pointed to an eventual US-led shift to a policy of allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium and of "containment" should Iran eventually gain nuclear arms. Israel would have to go along with its US ally, Eiland said: "Israel cannot act alone here. An American-Iranian deal would divest Israel of the ability to attack Iran." - Reuters

source: kuwait times

2. 'US has intelligence personnel, but no troops, in Pakistan' - Holbrooke

WASHINGTON: The United States has members of its intelligence services in Pakistan but it has no troops, US Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said on Tuesday.

‘We have members of our intelligence services in every country in the world,’ Mr Holbrooke told PBS Television when asked if the United States had troops in Pakistan.

‘No members of the American military or CIA are in Pakistan, is that what you’re saying?’ he was asked.

‘I only said there are no American troops in Pakistan,’ said Mr Holbrooke.

The interviewer — Charlie Rose — then asked: ‘So there may be CIA people and special operations people?’

Mr Holbrooke responded by confirming that the US had members of its intelligence services in every country in the world and then quickly added: ‘But this is not a replay of another war (Vietnam) and another part of the world 50 years ago or 40 years ago. We are not doing what you’re alluded to.’

read more @ dawn

3. report says Bundeswehr lied during Kunduz strike

The German military deliberately misled the American fighter pilots who carried out the Kunduz air strikes in which up to 142 Afghans, including many civilians, were killed, daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported Wednesday.

Citing a confidential investigation report by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the paper reported that Bundeswehr Colonel Georg Klein’s communications officer falsely claimed the German troops had “enemy contact” to justify the September 4 strike.

According to the report, the officer, codenamed "Red Baron 21," was acting on instructions from Col. Georg Klein, who ordered the deadly air strike.

Red Baron 21 knowingly misled the flight control centre that was instructing the two F-15 fighters that carried out the attack, saying troops were in “immediate danger” in order “to make it possible for the mission to go ahead,” the ISAF report said, according to the Frankfurter Rundschau.

But no such enemy contact had taken place. Under the ISAF rules, such an air strike can only go ahead if troops are under fire or immediately threatened. But at the time of the attack, the nearest German troops were nearly eight kilometres away in the Kunduz Bundeswehr field camp. If the report is correct, then the Germans breached the regulations.

read more @ the local

war on terror news

1. detained Americans under investigation

TEHRAN: Three Americans arrested in July after crossing into Iran from neighboring Iraq are still under investigation, a prosecutor said yesterday, adding that Tehran was concerned about 11 Iranians it says are being held in the US The Tehran prosecutor did not link the two issues, but officials have increasingly mentioned their campaign for the Iranians when speaking about the detained Americans.

US officials have been concerned since the arrest of the Americans that Iran would try to use them as bargaining chips in its dealings with the West. "The Americans should know that there are 11 Iranian nationals in US prisons. We hope the Americans are treating them based on regulations," Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

The 11 Iranians on a list Tehran released this month include a nuclear scientist who disappeared on a pilgrimage to Mecca, a former Defense Ministry official who vanished in Turkey and a man held in Canada on charges of trying to obtain nuclear technology. Iran believes all of them, including three others who it says were abducted in Europe, have been transferred to the United States. Others on the list have been tried in the US on charges of business dealings that violate trade sanctions against Iran.

read more @ kuwait times

2. all your psyops fail

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said on Monday that Lebanon will be able to confront any psychological war launched by the Israeli enemy in the future just like it did in July 2006.

Speaking through a giant screen while commemorating the fifth night of Muharram, Sayyed Nasrallah addressed the Israelis telling them that they have tried all forms of psychological wars in the past but failed. "With every psychological war, we became even more courageous and firm. In any upcoming war, we will be the same or even better," his eminence declared.

Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech by noting that the purpose of the Israeli psychological wars is basically to terrorize and intimidate the other side in order to lead to its surrender and withdrawal from the battle. His eminence also noted that the Israeli maneuvers that took place following the July war sought to tell the "Israeli people" that their army is regaining its strength, durability, capacity and vitality.

read more @ al manar tv

3. kingdom gives ultimatum to Yemeni intruders

AL-KHOBA/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has given Yemeni infiltrators still hiding in the southern border village of Jabiriya 24 hours to vacate the area or face death. “They have 24 hours to surrender, or we will destroy them,” Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation, warned Tuesday....

The following day, Saudi military jets began bombing enemy positions. Prince Khaled said that the main operation is now over. “The southern border is now under the complete control of Saudi forces.”

Informed sources told Arab News that the southern border area was calm on Tuesday.

Prince Khaled said Saudi forces would remain in the area until the last of the intruders are expelled.

“What we are doing now is bringing things to normal. We have also made arrangements to prevent infiltration and other crimes,” the minister told reporters.

He indicated that the infiltrators were backed by foreign parties. “It seems that their allegiance is not to their country.”

read more @ arab news

4. India, Israel discuss counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing, arms delivery

NEW DELHI, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- India and Israel Tuesday began a meeting of joint defense working group focused on counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing, delivery of weapons and enhancement of cooperation in research and development, reported the Indo-Asian News Service.

The group is co-chaired by Indian Defense Secretary Pradeep Kumar and Israeli defense ministry director-general, retired Brig. Gen. Pinchas Buchris, said the report.

The report quoted a defense official at the meeting as saying that the main focus of the talks was on enhancing the counter-terrorism cooperation based on intelligence sharing especially after the Mumbai terror attacks.

This meeting followed a low-profile visit of Israeli chief of defense staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, earlier this month to India, during which he had met the top brass of the Indian armed forces.

India has bought military hardware and software from Israel worth about eight billion U.S. dollars since 1999, making India the biggest buyer of Israeli arms, according to the news service.

source: chinaview

5. Gitmo hell on earth: Somali

HARGEISA, Somalia: A Somali just home from eight years in the US jail at Guantanamo Bay told AFP the prison was "hell on Earth", and alleged torture there had scarred some of his fellow inmates. Mohamed Saleban Bare, who arrived in his hometown of Hargeisa on Saturday, said he was innocent of any charges that would have caused security forces to arrest him in Pakistan in 2001 and transfer him to the US jail via Afghanistan.

Guantanamo Bay is like hell on Earth," he said in an interview Monday with an AFP reporter who visited him at his hotel in Hargeisa, capital of the northern breakaway state of Somaliland. "I don't feel normal yet but I thank Allah for keeping me alive and free from the physical and mental sufferings of some of my friends," he said. Sporting short hair and a long scrawny beard, Bare says he is in good physical health but looks dazed, speaks very softly and walks gingerly.

read more @ kuwait times

6. OBL's family in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria

DUBAI - SIX of Osama bin Laden's children and one of his wives, missing since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, are under house arrest in Iran, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper said on Wednesday, quoting a family member.

'Until a month ago we did not know where the siblings were,' Omar bin Laden, 29, the fourth son of the Al-Qaeda chief, told the Saudi-owned newspaper. Omar bin Laden, who lives in Qatar, said he only learnt that family was in Teheran after receiving a call from his brother Uthman about a month ago. A young Iranian had lent his mobile phone to his brother to make the call.

Mr Saad, 29, Mr Uthman, 25, Ms Fatima, 22, Ms Hamza, 20, and Bakr, 15, along with Hamza's mother Khairiya are under house arrest in Teheran, Mr Omar said. Mr Omar's brother Saad had reportedly been killed in a US drone strike a year and a half ago in Pakistan. Meanwhile, a sixth sibling, Mr Omar's sister Ms Iman, 17, recently sought asylum at the Saudi embassy in Teheran.

'Iman has lived for more than 25 days inside the Saudi embassy,' Omar said. Fuad Qassas, the Saudi charge d'affairs at the kingdom's embassy in Teheran, confirmed that Iman was staying there, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Efforts to allow her to leave Iran have so far proved unsuccessful. Omar said that five of his father's other children are currently in Saudi Arabia, while three, along with his mother Najwa, are in Syria.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast did not deny that six members of the bin Laden family were in Teheran, at a weekly press conference on Tuesday. -- AFP

source: straits times

1. Egypt reports 90th H5N1 case -- H5N1 being the very deadly version that doesn't spread easily, H1N1 being the mild version that spreads quickly -- the presumed depopulation idea being to blend them together "in the name of preparedness" and then set it loose "accidentally" which would be "regrettable"

Dec 21, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Egypt's health ministry has confirmed an H5N1 avian influenza infection in a 21-year-old woman, the country's third case since late September, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

The woman, from El Tanta district of Gharbia governorate, in northern Egypt, got sick with a fever and cough on Dec 15 and was admitted to the hospital the same day, where she was treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu). She is in stable condition, the WHO reported. She is listed as Egypt's 90th WHO-confirmed H5N1 case, of which 27 have been fatal.

An investigation into the source of her infection revealed that the woman had close contact with dead poultry and had helped slaughter sick birds.

Egypt's Central Public Laboratories, one of the WHO's national collaborating centers, confirmed the case.

The country so far has recorded more H5N1 cases in 2009 than any other. Of 52 cases reported internationally, 38 were from Egypt. Of those Egyptians who were infected, only four died.

Egypt's latest case confirmation raises the global H5N1 tally to 447 cases, of which 263 have been fatal.

source: CIDRAP

2. CDC now to focus on getting vaccine to adults

Dec 22, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The nation's supply of pandemic vaccine has grown to 111 million doses, enough so that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is turning part of its attention toward boosting the percentage of adults who get vaccinated.

Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters that though the virus seems to be retreating in many states, nearly all of what's circulating is the pandemic H1N1 strain, and it's clear that the virus isn't going away.

The burgeoning supply of vaccine provides a good window of opportunity to be vaccinated, she said. "Now is the time to act. The flu virus is not taking off for the holiday."

Holiday gatherings provide a good setting to encourage friends and family members to be immunized. Schuchat said, advising, "Remind your loved ones to take care of their health and look for that vaccine."

New survey data from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that over the past few weeks, the percentage of children vaccinated has far surpassed that for adults. Schuchat said about half of Americans want to be vaccinated, but only one in three have done so. So far, about 60 million people have received the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, she said.

The Harvard poll found that, as of last week, about three quarters of parents who had tried to get the pandemic vaccine for their children were able to do so. About a third of parents said they didn't expect to have their children vaccinated, with about half of that group citing safety concerns.

Though the poll found that over recent weeks more adults were getting the vaccine, 55% said they don't intend to get vaccinated.

read more @ CIDRAP

corruption news

1. Malaysia govt under fire

KUALA LUMPUR - THE Malaysian government faced a storm of criticism on Wednesday over allegations of official corruption after the theft of two US-made fighter jet engines worth US$29 million.

News reports this week said the stolen Northrop F-5E jet engines had been sold on the black market by military officers to a South American company. They had been taken from a military airbase, apparently last year....'The government should declare it has failed in the fight against corruption. The country is heading in the direction of a failed state like Zimbabwe,' prominent opposition lawmaker Tian Chua told AFP. 'The theft could not have happened without the sanction of top officials.'

read more @ straits times

2. fugitive Swede arrested for $11M bank heist in Denmark

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration together with agents of the Philippine Center for Transnational Crimes have arrested a Swede wanted by authorities in Denmark for an $11-million bank heist.

In a report to Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, the bureau’s Interpol Unit chief Floro Balato Jr. identified the Swede as 37-year-old Lukas Hasselgren. The suspect was nabbed on Dec. 8 outside his condominium at the Adriatico Place Tower II, along M. Adriatico Street, Ermita, Manila.

Libanan ordered the deportation of the fugitive to Sweden, and then to Denmark to stand trial for his crime.

Citing a report from the Swedish Embassy, Libanan said Hasselgren is suspected of robbing a security cash center in Denmark of more than 60 million Danish crowns (about $11 million or about P538 million) on Aug. 8, 2008.

The Swedish and Danish police have been hunting down Hasselgren since then.

read more @ global nation

3. FBI probes cyber-attack

NEW YORK - THE US Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing a computer hacking that targeted Citigroup Inc and resulted in the theft of tens of millions of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, but the financial institution denied its systems had been breached.

'There has been no breach and there have been no associated losses,' Citigroup said in a statement. 'Occasionally, as with virtually all financial institutions, there are instances of fraud or breaches of third-party systems that result in our taking actions to protect our customers and Citi,' the bank added.

The cyber attack, believed to be linked to a Russian gang, was aimed at Citigroup's Citibank subsidiary, the paper reported, citing unnamed government officials. It also said the hackers may have gained access to the bank's systems through third parties.

The attack on Citibank is believed to have taken place over the summer and was detected at that time, but investigators suspect it could have taken place up to a year earlier, the paper said. Two other entities, including a US government agency, were also attacked by hackers, the paper said, citing people familiar with the Citibank incident.

read more @ straits times

4. head of Russian Interpol: Russian mafia abroad is a myth

Moscow, December 23 (Interfax-AVN) - There is no organized Russian criminal community abroad, said Timur Lakhonin, the head of the Russian National Central Bureau of Interpol.

"The notion of mafia implies connections with political and government structures. I believe there is no Russian mafia abroad in this sense," Lakhonin said at a press conference at the Interfax main office on Dec. 22.

"Certainly, there is crime involving our former compatriots abroad," but there is no data suggesting that an organized structure of criminal groups comprising former Russians exists abroad, Lakhonin said.

"Statistically, this looks like this: for instance, Russians accounted for less than 1% of crimes in Germany, most often not in an organized form," he said.

source: kyiv post

defense spending

1. China wary of Russian naval repairs

Hong Kong, China — China has procured from Russia 12 Kilo class submarines and four 956E/EM DDGs, or guided missile destroyers, since 1993. The first two Vasayanka-class Kilo submarines were exported to China in 1993, and the second two Kilo 636 submarines were delivered in 1996. The first two 956E DDGs were delivered in 1996 and 1999 respectively.

These battleships are now all due for overhaul or technical upgrading. But there are differences between China and Russia as to how this is to be done. Simply, China does not wish to trust its naval equipment to Russian technical experts.

A senior authoritative source from the Russian military industry said that for submarines, maintenance is more important that building the vessels themselves. Maintenance was not a major topic of discussion when the submarines were purchased, he said, but with the PLA Navy submarines due for overhaul, Russia and China have been involved in long drawn-out discussions.

In fact, the discussions have been under way for four years, the source said, adding that providing overhaul services was not necessarily included in the permit to export submarines.

read more @ upi asia

2. US senators oppose French warship sale to Russia

Six U.S. senators have warned France against the planned sale of a powerful warship to Russia, saying the move has unsettled NATO allies and Moscow's neighbors and risks upsetting regional stability.

"We fear this sale sends Russia the message that France acquiesces to its increasingly bellicose and lawless behavior," the senators, all Republicans, said in a letter dated Friday to French ambassador Pierre Vimont in Washington.

The group included Senators Jon Kyl, the number two Republican; John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sam Brownback; James Risch; Roger Wicker; and Tom Coburn.

The letter, first reported by Foreign Policy magazine on its website, came after members of the U.S. House of Representatives also expressed concerns about the planned sale of a Mistral-class warship to Russia.

The vessel is a 21,000-ton, 200-meter amphibious assault ship that can carry heavy-lift helicopters, landing craft, tanks and up to 900 commandos. It is the second largest ship in the French fleet.

The senators underlined a Russian Navy commander's recent statement that the ship would have allowed Russian forces battling Georgia's military in August 2008 to land troops ashore in 40 minutes, against the 26 hours it took them to do so in last year's war.

In late November, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said it should be sold to Moscow "with precautions" and that Paris should stand with Georgia.

The sale, estimated at 600-750 million dollars, would be the first time a NATO nation has provided such advanced technology to Russia.

The senators said two treaties aimed at curbing proliferation of sensitive military hardware ought to halt the sale and underlined that Russia was in violation of the ceasefire accord that ended the war with Georgia.(AFP)

source: naharnet

3. Lockheed Martin wins mega Morocco F16 contract

WASHINGTON - US defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin is being awarded an 841.9 million dollar contract to produce 24 F-16 aircraft for Morocco, which ordered the jets in 2008, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Lockheed also won contracts to supply the Pentagon with "advanced counter measure system electronic warfare system, along with associated support equipment, alternate mission equipment and support elements," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The total value of the contract between the United States and Morocco is estimated at around 2.4 billion dollars, not all of which will be handled by Lockheed.

Other firms that manufacture or supply parts and equipment or can train technicians will share in the contract.

The Rafale jet produced by France's Dassault was among those that competed for the Moroccan contract.

Dassault has yet to sell any of the aircraft abroad, but French Defense Minister Herve Morin said last week he remained "resolutely optimistic" about the possibilities of exporting Rafale, Dassault Aviation's "multirole" combat jet.

"We are having advanced discussion with the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and also other partners," Morin told France's La Tribune newspaper.

source: middle east online


i believe it was Pontious Pilate who asked, what is truth?

1. US forces mounted secret Pakistan raids in hunt for al-Qaeda

American special forces have conducted multiple clandestine raids into Pakistan's tribal areas as part of a secret war in the border region where Washington is pressing to expand its drone assassination programme.

A former Nato officer said the incursions, only one of which has been previously reported, occurred between 2003 and 2008, involved helicopter-borne elite soldiers stealing across the border at night, and were never declared to the Pakistani government.

...The secretive nature of the raids underscores the suspicious nature of the relationship between the two allies as they argue about Washington's latest demands.

read more @ guardian

2. Peshawar journalist club hit by blast

ESHAWAR, Pakistan, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Militants struck Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday with an explosion outside a journalists' club, killing and wounding nearly two dozen people, police said.

Geo News reported at least three persons died and 18 others were wounded in the attack in which a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the Press Club Building in the Saddar area of the city where a series of attacks in recent months have killed hundreds of people.

CNN, quoting officials at the Lady Reading Hospital, reported four people died in the blast. The attacker blew himself up when stopped and searched by a policeman outside the gated club, the report said quoting police head Saleem Amanullah. The policemen died in the blast.

It was not known if any journalist died in the attack but there were four of them among those injured, Dawn newspaper reported. It was the first such attack against journalists in the city, who have been threatened lately, the report said.

Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province near the border with Afghanistan, has taken the brunt of the deadly militant violence plaguing Pakistan's major cities. Authorities say they are retaliation for the military's counter-insurgency campaign, which has been under way since Oct. 17 against the Taliban and other terror groups in the South Waziristan tribal region.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

3. will Pakistani journalists be diverted from the truth?

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- At least three died and 17 others received serious injuries when a suicide bomber blew up himself before the Peshawar Press Club here last Thursday.

Information Minister of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province(NWFP) Mian Iftihar Hussain visited the site and said that terrorists "can't weak our well power".

"It is the agenda of militants to horrify us but we would stand on our motto until we finished them, because they are not friend of human being," he said. "All the people should cooperate with the administration and security agencies."

The minister said that journalists have been targeted as they are writing truth at the time when the terrorists are targeting mosques, houses, markets and public places.

He expressed sympathy with the journalist community and hoped that journalists will continue their mission to expose militants despite such attacks.

Hussain said that the government will continue campaign against militants and such attacks will not deter the government from its resolve to eliminate terrorists.

read more @ chinaview

4. what is the truth? Obama declares war on Pakistan.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Obama's West Point speech of December 1 represents far more than the obvious brutal escalation in Afghanistan -- it is nothing less than a declaration of all-out war by the United States against Pakistan . This is a brand-new war, a much wider war now targeting Pakistan , a country of 160 million people armed with nuclear weapons. In the process, Afghanistan is scheduled to be broken up. This is no longer the Bush Cheney Afghan war we have known in the past. This is something immensely bigger: the attempt to destroy the Pakistani central government in Islamabad and to sink that country into a chaos of civil war, Balkanization, subdivision and general mayhem. The chosen strategy is to massively export the Afghan civil war into Pakistan and beyond, fracturing Pakistan along ethnic lines. It is an oblique war using fourth-generation or guerrilla warfare techniques to assail a country which the United States and its associates in aggression are far too weak to attack directly. In this war, the Taliban are employed as US proxies. This aggression against Pakistan is Obama's attempt to wage the Great Game against the hub of Central Asia and Eurasia or more generally.
The ongoing civil war in Afghanistan is merely a pretext, a cover story designed to provide the United States with a springboard for a geopolitical destabilization campaign in the entire region which cannot be publicly avowed. In the blunt cynical world of imperialist aggression à la Bush and Cheney, a pretext might have been manufactured to attack Pakistan directly. But Pakistan is far too large and the United States is far too weak and too bankrupt for such an undertaking. In addition, Pakistan is a nuclear power, possessing atomic bombs and medium range missiles needed to deliver them. What we are seeing is a novel case of nuclear deterrence in action. The US cannot send an invasion fleet or set up airbases nearby because Pakistani nuclear weapons might destroy them. To this extent, the efforts of Ali Bhutto and A.Q. Khan to provide Pakistan a deterrent capability have been vindicated. But the US answer is to find ways to attack Pakistan below the nuclear threshold, and even below the conventional threshold. This is where the tactic of exporting the Afghan civil war to Pakistan comes in.
read more @ rense

al qaeda news

1. AQ makes rare appearance

SANAA - AL-QAEDA militants made a rare public appearance in restive south Yemen on Monday, telling an anti-government rally that the group's war was with the United States and not the Yemeni army, residents said.

The West and Saudi Arabia fear al-Qaeda will take advantage of the Yemeni government's focus on a Shi'ite rebellion in the north and rising secessionist sentiment in the south to spread its operations to the kingdom, the world's top oil exporter.

'Soldiers, you should know that there is no problem between us and you. The problem is between us and America and its lackeys,' residents quoted one militant as telling hundreds of people gathered to protest against the killing of dozens of civilians in government raids aimed at al-Qaeda last week.

Al Jazeera television showed footage of the militant addressing the crowd while an armed comrade stood by as a bodyguard. Both were unmasked.

read more @ straits times

2. here's the video -- another texas longhorn fan, at 20 seconds

3. 73 Saudis killed so far in fighting with Yemen

Seventy-three Saudis have been killed and 26 have gone missing since fighting broke out on November 3 between Saudi forces and Yemeni rebels, a Saudi minister told reporters Tuesday.

source: naharnet

4. key charges dropped in US base plot trial

KUWAIT: Kuwait's public prosecutor is set to withdraw a key conspiracy charge against six nationals on trial for plotting attacks against a US military base in the state, a defence lawyer said yesterday. Prosecutors took the decision a month ago and also ordered an inquiry into allegations by the accused that they had been tortured in custody, Jamal Al-Kandari said, although Judge Hisham Abdullah retained the charge on the charge sheet read out in court at yesterday's opening hearing.

All six of the eight accused in custody pleaded not guilty to all of the charges levelled against them, which also include planning to manufacture explosives, illegally possessing weapons and hiding longtime Al-Qaeda suspect Mohsen Al-Fadhli, who has been on the run since Jan 2005 and was one of two defendants being tried in absentia. The men told the judge that their initial confessions were extracted under torture by the state's secret service.

The suspects were arrested in August and the interior ministry then said they were suspected of being members of an Al-Qaeda cell that was preparing to attack Camp Arifjan and other key installations. They have been in custody since their arrest in the first week of August. The judge set Jan 18 for the next hearing when a state security officer will be cross-examined. The judge also called chemicals and forensic experts to testify in the case. He rejected a defence application for bail.

One of the suspects, Mohammed Assad, a surgeon at a public hospital, appeared in court with his arm in a sling, an injury he said he had sustained during questioning. Following the arrest of the six, a US defence department spokesman said that US forces in Kuwait had been targeted for attack but added that it was unclear if the suspects were linked to Al-Qaeda or planned to strike Camp Arifjan. About 15,000 US soldiers are stationed in Kuwait, which is also used as a transit point for thousands of US soldiers going to and from neighbouring Iraq. - AFP

source: kuwait times

5. DynCorp ditches Agility

KUWAIT: Logistics firm Agility said yesterday that US defence contractor DynCorp International had dropped its US unit as a subcontractor in a US Army deal, breaching contractual terms. The Kuwaiti firm said it was looking at legal options over DynCorp International's decision to drop Agility Defense and Government Services Inc as a subcontractor as of Dec 17. In November, a US grand jury indicted Agility under its previous name, Public Warehousing Co, on charges of fraud and conspiracy alleging that it overcharged the US Army on $8.5 billion worth of contracts to provide food to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. In July, Agility DGS secured a role the US Army deal with a group led by DynCorp International worth up to $5.874 billion for logistical support in Afghanistan.

source: kuwait times

Iran news

1. Ahmadinejad says if we made a bomb we'd tell you

Iran's president has dismissed a year-end deadline set by the Obama administration for Tehran to accept a U.N.-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that "if Iran wanted to make a bomb, we would be brave enough to tell you."

He says the West can give Iran "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care." Ahmadinejad spoke on Tuesday to supporters in the southern city of Shiraz. He said that Iran won't allow the U.S. to dominate the region.

"We are a great and brave nation. We told you that we will launch the [nuclear] fuel cycle and we did it. We told you that we will industrialize the fuel production and we did it ... we told you that we will launch a new generation of centrifuges and we did."

read more @ al manar tv

2. US forged documents

WASHINGTON - Documents revealed last week that appear to show Tehran is working on a nuclear bomb trigger were "forged" by Washington, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told a US news network.

"They are all fabricated bunch of papers continuously being forged and disseminated by the American government," Ahmadinejad told ABC News in an interview aired Monday when asked about the confidential documents first revealed in London's The Times newspaper.

...Describing charges that Iran's is continuing work on a clandestine nuclear weapons program as "a repetitive and tasteless joke," Ahmadinejad said the reports were about a nuclear trigger were "fundamentally not true."

US President Barack Obama's senior advisor David Axelrod said Sunday that any accusation of Washington fabricating documents was "nonsense."

"Nobody has any illusions about what the intent of the Iranian government is," Axelrod told ABC's "This Week," but without citing any evidence to his allegations.

read more @ middle east online

3. by the way, US and Japan kept this other lie going for decades

TOKYO - A SECRET agreement under which Japan allowed the US military to bring nuclear weapons to the Asian nation has been uncovered despite years of denial of its existence by Tokyo, media reports said Tuesday.

The 1969 contract, signed by then US President Richard Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, was kept by the Sato family, said the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, which showed a picture of the two-page document.

The existence of the agreement has been denied for decades by past conservative administrations, which issued a complete ban on nuclear weapons, including transporting of such items by its main ally, the United States.

The discovery was a major step forward for the Democratic Party of Japan, which formed a centre-left government in September, ousting the conservative Liberal Democratic Party.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has set up a committee of experts to examine allegations about various hidden agreements between previous regimes and Washington.

In 1991, then US president George Bush announced that US vessels would no longer carry tactical atomic arms, rendering any pact with Japan allowing US nuclear-armed ships to visit obsolete. -- AFP

source: straits times

4. Iran denies arms aircraft heading for Iran -- where did this flight plan come from all of a sudden???

TEHRAN, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- Iran on Tuesday rejected reports that an aircraft loaded with weapons and seized in Thailand might have been en route to Iran.

"Unfortunately, every time when the Western countries try to deprive us of our nuclear rights ... and exert more pressure on Iran, such news would be spread quickly around the world," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a weekly press conference.

"These pieces of news were fabricated as part of their attempt to exert political pressure and stage their psychological warfare," Mehmanparast said.

"We don't think these actions are meaningful in today's world and we strongly deny such an incident," he added.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that according to a flight plan obtained by researchers, the plane was due to make refueling stops in Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine before unloading in Tehran.

Thai police impounded an IL-76 plane on Dec. 12 after it landed for refueling at Bangkok's Don Muang airport. They found and seized about 35 tons of war weapons and detained five crew members of the plane. 

source: chinaview

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