Wednesday, March 31, 2010

US Launches Agency To Monitor Everyone

Army Biometrics U.S. Army Staff Sgts. Jerrod McClure, foreground, and Aaron McFarland, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, input Iraqi's data into a biometrics system Dec. 15, 2008, in Nimrud, Iraq, as part of the application process for Iraqis applying to work on a road repair project in the city. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. JoAnn S. Makinano

U.S. Government Launches Official Agency to Manage Biometric Database -- Popular Science

All hail BIMA, the new U.S. biometrics agency.

Collecting fingerprints and other biometric data has long allowed law enforcement and the military alike to track down wanted individuals, solve cases, or just keep tabs on people. Now what was a U.S. government task force under the U.S. Army has officially become a full-scale national security agency in charge of biometrics, according to the Secrecy News blog run by the Federation of American Scientists.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is the future of warfare and intelligence. Databases with all types of biometric information .... including our DNA and any scraps of intelligence that has been gathered.

My prediction, when fully implemented the days of not knowing who the enemy is will probably come to an end.

What Does The Defection Of A Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist Mean?

The Iranian nuclear scientist who defected to the United States is thought to have worked on the Iran nuclear program at this suspected uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, Iran. DigitalGlobe/Handout/REUTERS

Iranian Scientist Defects: US Covert Ops Hurt Iran Nuclear Program -- Christian Science Monitor

The defection of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri to the US shows that a long-running CIA covert program against the Iran nuclear program is working.

An Iranian nuclear scientist who disappeared while on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia last year is reported to have defected to the United States and been briefing the CIA on Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

ABC News's report on Shahram Amiri is a rare public revelation on a long-running covert intelligence effort led by the United States.

Read more ....

More News On The Defection Of An Iranian Nuclear Scientist

Defection of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri ‘a CIA coup’ -- Times Online
Missing Iranian nuclear scientist 'resettled' in the US -- The Guardian
Espionage helps sow seeds of paranoia in Tehran -- The Guardian
A defect(ion) in Iran's nuclear program -- Foreign Policy
Iranian Nuclear Scientist Secretly Moved to U.S., Report Says -- Global Security Newswire
Iranian nuclear scientist defects to U.S.: report -- Reuters
Missing Iran N-scientist 'defected to US' -- Press TV (Iran)
EXCLUSIVE: Iran Nuclear Scientist Defects to U.S. In CIA 'Intelligence Coup' -- ABC News
Meaning of Iranian Nuclear Scientist's Defection to U.S. -- The Atlantic Wire

Iraq's Election Uncertainty Continues

Empowered Sadrists Organize New Ballot in Iraq -- New York Times

BAGHDAD — Followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the militant cleric whose militia was a major force in the Shiite insurgency against American forces, announced Wednesday that they were arranging a special vote to pick Iraq’s next prime minister.

Mr. Sadr, who has been living in Iran, released a statement through his political office in Iraq that called for putting the “choice of prime minister into the hands of the Iraqi public through a referendum for all Iraqi people.”

Read more ....

More News On Iraq's Election

Al-Sadr asks backers for input on future Iraq PM -- AP
Sadrists plan referendum on PM candidate -- Press TV
Iraq PM appeals poll results, Sadr plans referendum -- Reuters
Mounting obstacles block efforts to form new Iraq government -- AFP
Iraqi PM: Not trying to change election outcome -- AP
Iraq's Election: Can This Deadlock Be Broken? -- Time Magazine

Election Chaos In Sudan As Main South Sudan Party Boycotts The Election

Photo: Presidential Candidate Yassir Arman

South Sudan Party Withdraws Presidential Candidate -- Reuters

KHARTOUM, March 31 (Reuters) - South Sudan's leading party said on Wednesday it was withdrawing its candidate for the presidency in April elections, paving the way for a likely victory for incumbent President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) vice-chairman Riek Machar cited continued conflict in Darfur and electoral irregularities, adding the party would also boycott all levels of elections in Darfur.

"We decided that Yasir (Arman) should end his campaign for the presidency of the Republic," he told reporters.

Read more

More News On Sudan's Election Turmoil

Yassir Arman quits Sudan presidential poll -- BBC
Sudan ex-rebel, presidential hopeful Arman quits election -- AFP
Sudan’s SPLM Candidate Pulls Out of Presidential Vote -- Business Week/Bloomberg
SPLM quits Sudan presidential poll -- Al Jazeera
Sudan opposition warns against holding elections in April -- Yahoo News/AFP
Sudan president warns south over election delay -- BBC
Sudan leader warns south on referendum -- Mail & Guardian
A Crucial Vote in South Sudan -- Michael Gerson, Real Clear World

My Comment: This is laying the groundwork for war in the region. The next month will be crucial to solve this impasse, but I have my doubts that it will be resolved.

Is The Afghan Taliban At War With The Taliban In Pakistan?

Terrorist vs. Terrorist -- Ralph Peters, New York Post

Bad-guy fratricide in AfPak.

As an intelligence officer or journalist, you've got to know which sources you can trust. And a source who's never let me down told me yesterday that the terrorist multinational based in Pakistan is coming apart.

According to this insider's insider, the Pakistan-headquartered Afghan Taliban is furious at the Taliban's Pakistani wing because its assaults on the Islamabad government triggered a stunning backlash.

Read more ....

My Comment:
I sometimes disagree with Ralph Peters .... and I sometimes agree. In this post he has some good points .... and I can only hope that he is right.

On a side note, both Taliban groups have been at war with each other in the past .... but they have always found a way to get together and cooperate. If they are having differences now, I do expect them to reconcile again in the future.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- March 31, 2010

Russia's Hot Spot -- Rajan Menon, L.A. Times

The deadly suicide bombings Monday in two Moscow subway stations demonstrate clearly that the violence in the North Caucasus cannot be easily contained within that region.

The suicide bombings of two Moscow subway stations that killed 39 people Monday appear to have emanated from a place that few people could find on a map: Russia's North Caucasus region, a sliver of land wedged between the Black and Caspian seas that is home to 7 million people.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous? -- New York Times opinion

The Moscow Bombings -- New York Times editorial

The Caucasus Emirate -- Yulia Latynina, Moscow Times

This Time We Really Mean It - Thomas Friedman, New York Times opinion

Destroying Morale in Afghanistan - Washington Times editorial

Peace Not Possible if Iran Escapes Real Sanctions -- Sarah Palin, Facebook

In South Sudan, a crucial election may give birth to a nation
-- Michael Gerson, Washington Post

The case for western missile defence
-- Anders Fogh Rasmussen, The Guardian

Blind Man's Bluff: The truth about Iran is that we haven't got a clue how the Islamic Republic would respond to an attack. -- Bilal Y. Saab, Foreign Policy

Gaza Drifts Back Toward War
-- Jeffrey White, Real Clear World

Obama's Treatment of Israel is Shocking -- Ed Koch, Real Clear Politics

Not Exactly Terrorists
-- Washington Times editorial

World News Briefs -- March 31, 2010 (Evening Edition)

Chechen Rebel Doku Umarov Claims Responsibility For Moscow Blasts -- Times Online

A Chechen militant leader claimed responsibility last night for sending “Black Widow” suicide bombers into the Moscow Metro as the head of Russia’s Security Council accused Georgia of backing terrorism in his country.

Doku Umarov said that he had personally ordered the attacks at Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations that killed 39 people on Monday. In a video posted on a Chechen separatist website, he warned that more were planned.

Read more ....


Israel silent on Obama's four-month building freeze in East Jerusalem.

Security Council backs Iraq election results.

Several wounded in Gaza by Israeli gunfire.

U.S. seeks 4-month Jerusalem building freeze: report.

Maliki is block in Iraq coalition merger talks.

Obama wants U.N. sanctions on Iran in weeks.

US pushes Israel to freeze settlement construction.


China signals thaw in relations with US.

SKorea suspends underwater rescue operation.

U.S. forces set sights on Taliban bastion of Kandahar.

Bomb attack kills 13 in crowded Afghan market.

Pre-dawn Pakistan violence kills 32.


Another hate speech controversy for ANC youth leader.

Sudanese President accused of rigging elections.

Niger police arrest officials loyal to ex-leader.

Pirate attacks return to record levels.

Rebels blamed for Central African Republic deaths.

Kenya vetoes Somali wish for troops in Mogadishu.


Belgium moves to ban Burqas worn in public.

Vatican official defends Pope’s handling of case.

Double suicide bombings kill 12 in Russia's Dagestan.

EU welcomes Serbia's Srebrenica apology. Serbia apologizes for 1995 massacre.

Sarkozy reveals rift in U.S.-European relations.


Fearful, angry Latinos might shun US Census.

In Honduras, journalist slayings raise alarm.

FARC release hostage held for 12 years.

Obama to open offshore areas to oil drilling for first time.

Putin Venezuelan trip to focus on energy, arms.

International community pledges billions for Haitian reconstruction. Clinton to co-chair Haiti rebuilding authority.

New chill enters US-Cuba relations after Obama's brief thaw.


Safer subways: easier said than done.

CIA says ACLU-backed plan endangered Gitmo officers.

US Attorney General Eric Holder's trials and tribulations.

US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan.


Sheik Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Abu Dhabi investment authority’s chief, dies at 41.

US churches find no salvation from bad economy.

Eurozone unemployment rate rises to 10%.

Germany, France move toward bank levy.

O'Reilly Pays Legal Bill For Fallen Marine's Father

Margie M. Phelps, left, stands with her husband Pastor Fred Phelps and her daughter Margie J. Phelps during a lunchtime demonstration. JED KIRSCHBAUM/Baltimore Sun

From Newsmax:

No. 1 cable news host Bill O'Reilly said Tuesday that he will personally write a check to cover $16,500 in legal costs for the father of a fallen U.S. Marine who sued the members of a church who picketed his son's funeral.

According to news reports, the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, located in Topeka, Kan., believe that God is punishing the United States because of its acceptance of gay people. The church garners attention for its views by protesting high-profile funerals.

On March 3, 2006, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder died in a non-combat related vehicle accident in Al Anbar province in Iraq.

"He was a hero and he was the love of my life," said Albert Snyder, Matthew's grieving father.

Read more ....

My Comment: Kudos to Bill O'Reilly to be able to (and willing to) help a father whose son committed the ultimate sacrifice for America.

Bill O'Reilly's full comments on this case are here.

Update: Bill O'Reilly is not the only one who is chipping in. More news here and here.

Are CIA Gitmo Officers In Danger?

CIA Says ACLU-Backed Plan Endangered Gitmo Officers - -Washington Times

A team of CIA counterintelligence officials recently visited the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and concluded that CIA interrogators face the risk of exposure to al Qaeda through inmates' contacts with defense attorneys, according to U.S. officials.

The agency's "tiger team" of security specialists was dispatched as part of an ongoing investigation conducted jointly with the Justice Department into a program backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The program, called the John Adams Project, has photographed covert CIA interrogators and shown the pictures to some of the five senior al Qaeda terrorists held there in an effort to identify them further.

Read more ....

My Comment: When Valeire Plame's CIA status was made public, we had 24/7 news coverage, a special prosecutor appointed, and individuals like Chief of Staff for the VP Libby being convicted for perjury.

On a case that now involves multiple CIA officers being identified to their Al Qaeda/Taliban prisoners .... the media is generally silent.

Is a double standard at play?

The UK Are Expecting Heavy Casualties From Afghanistan This Summer. Should We Also Be Concerned?

Photo: Invaluable care: Lance Corporal Stuart Hale, 24, undertakes rehabilitation at Headley Court in Surrey - one of two major hospitals that care for those injured in Afghanistan

Military Hospitals 'At Breaking Point' And Couldn't Cope With Rise In Afghan Casualties -- The Daily Mail

Military hospitals are nearly at capacity and could not cope with a rise in casualties from Afghanistan, a panel of senior MPs warned today.

The Public Accounts Committee said any increase of the wounded would force soldiers to be treated in the NHS.

In a report published today, the MPs warned that there would be problems transferring the 'military culture' to the health service.

Read more ....

Update: Military medical facilities 'not prepared for increase in casualties' -- The Telegraph

My Comment: The UK Government's Committee of Accounts report is here (pdf file).

President Obama Calls For Iran Sanctions Within Weeks

Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant. Western governments fear Iran is using its nuclear programs to make weapons. Photo from Radio Free Europe

Obama Expects U.N. Sanctions on Iran to Be Approved Soon -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama predicted on Tuesday that he would be able to persuade the United Nations to “move forcefully” against Iran with new sanctions within weeks, not months, as he turned up the pressure on Tehran to back off its nuclear program.

“We think that we can get sanctions within weeks,” Mr. Obama told reporters after meeting at the White House with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who has been pressing for an aggressive approach to Iran.

Read more ....

More News On The Movement Towards Iranian Sanctions

Obama wants U.N. sanctions on Iran in weeks -- Reuters
Obama and other world leaders press Iran on its nuclear program -- Washington Post
Obama Expects U.N. Sanctions on Iran to Be Approved Soon -- New York Times
Obama demands deadline for Iran -- Washington Times
Barack Obama: new sanctions on Iran in weeks -- Times Online
Iranian nukes -- UPI
G8 ministers to call for 'strong steps' over Iran's nuclear activity -- The Telegraph
G8 Foreign Ministers Back 'Strong Steps' on Iran -- Voice of America
G8 Pushes Iran Sanctions, Meets Resistance -- New American
Iran Sanctions Are Failing. What's Next? -- Danielle Pletka, Wall Street Journal

After The Moscow Subway Bombings, Russia's War In The Caucasus Heats Up

The site of two explosions in the southern Russian town of Kizlyar on Wednesday. Zaur Halikov/Reuters

Bomb Attacks In Southern Russia Aim At Police -- New York Times

MOSCOW — Two bomb attacks aimed at the police killed at least 12 people in the volatile North Caucasus region of Russia on Wednesday, according to the Russian prosecutor’s office, further heightening security concerns two days after deadly suicide bombings struck the Moscow subway.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said he did not rule out that Wednesday’s attacks in Dagestan, near the border with Chechnya, could have been organized by “the same group” behind the Moscow subway bombings. Dmitri A. Medvedev, Russia’s president, called the two sets of attacks “links of the same chain.”

Read more ....

More News On Russia's War In The Caucasus

13 killed in double suicide attack in southern Russia -- Long War Journal
Bombs kill 12 in Russia's Dagestan region -- CNN
At least 12 killed in suicide blasts in Russia -- Washington Post
Suicide Bombs Strike Southern Russia -- New York Times/AP
Russia Rocked By Another Twin Suicide Bombing -- ABC News
Fatal blasts rock North Caucasus town -- UPI
New twin suicide blasts rock southern Russia -- China View
Dagestan Suicide Bombings (VIDEO): Second Bombing Caught On Camera -- Huffington Post
Echoing Moscow attack, Dagestan bombings underscore Russia's terrorism threat -- Christian Science Monitor
Single terrorist group may be behind Moscow, Dagestan bombings - Putin -- RIA Novosti
Moscow, Kizlyar bombings linked - Dagestan's president -- RIA Novosti
First bomb in Dagestan blasts had power of 200 kg TNT - investigators -- RIA Novosti
Radical Dagestan is legacy of Kremlin's siege of Chechnya -- The Guardian

The North Caucasus region is the part of Russia that slopes up towards the main ridge of the Caucasus mountains, often considered the border between Europe and Asia. It is home to dozens of nationalities and languages, many of which have troubled relationships with their neighbours or with central governments in Moscow or Tbilisi.

Serbia Is Coming To Terms With It's Past

More than 600 coffins with remains of victims of Srebrenica massacre wait for the funeral in a factory hall in Potocari. Photo: Reuters

Serbia Condemns 1995 Srebrenica Massacre Of 8,000 Muslim Men And Boys -- Times Online

Serbia took a significant step towards a future in the European Union when its MPs last night endorsed a landmark declaration condemning the massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

While stopping short of using the term genocide, the statement recognised that Serbia failed to prevent the killings carried out by its forces after seizing the UN safe haven in the ethnic conflict that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

The declaration was driven by Boris Tadic, Serbia’s pro-EU President but opposed by nationalists who warned it would “turn Serbia into an eternal villain”.

Read more

My Comment: The focus is on Serbia, but the Croats and Bosnian Muslims also committed atrocities and mass murder in the Yugoslav civil war.

Realistically .... it is going to take decades (if not a century or two) before the bitterness and hate that was generated by this war dissipates .... but willing to atone is a start and Serbia is rightfully making the first move.

Moscow Subway Bombings -- The Aftermath

Mourners standing at the site of a bombing in the Park Kultury metro Tuesday. Putin says the organizers will be “dredged from the bottom of the sewers.” Igor Tabakov / MT

Russians Have A Sense Of Dread After Subway Bombings -- L.A. Times

It's not only the fear that violence is returning to Moscow, but also the feeling that Putin's decade-old approach of dealing harshly with rebels in the Caucasus isn't working.

Reporting from Moscow - Russia's strategy regarding its mostly Muslim southern republics has varied little over the last decade of turbulence: Answer force with force. Attacks on trains, apartment blocks and schools are met with crushing military campaigns, disappearances and death.

Read more

More News On The Subway Bombings In Moscow

Russia Boosts Security as Capital Mourns -- Wall Street Journal
Chilling images of dead 'black widow' Moscow bombers -- The Sun
Moscow fears tide of Black Widows -- Times Online
What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous? -- New York Times opinion
Putin Vows to Dredge Terrorists From Sewers -- Moscow Times
Putin talks tough after Moscow subway bombings -- USA Today
Putin talks tough after Moscow subway bombings -- Yahoo News/AP
Moscow blasts may spur a Vladimir Putin takeover -- The Australian
Russian grief turns to anger toward leaders -- Washington Post
The Nation: Seeking Security In Russia -- NPR
Blasts Could Derail Medvedev’s Softer Tack in the Caucasus -- New York Times
Beyond Moscow subway bombings, Russia-U.S. intelligence bond limited -- Washington Post
Moscow subway bombings: What now? -- Yahoo News/Christian Science Monitor
The Moscow Bombings -- New York Times editorial

Is There A Poison Pill In The New START Agreement? And Is It Called Missile Defense?

President Barack Obama discusses the START treaty, during a phone call with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia in the Oval Office, , March 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Questions Persist Over Arms Pact's Missile Defense Terms -- Global Security Newswire

Russia yesterday reaffirmed its right to withdraw from a pending successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty if the United States bolstered its missile defense forces past a certain degree, possibly throwing into question a compromise the countries had reached on the issue, the Washington Times reported (see GSN, March 29).

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week approved the final terms of the pact, which would require the United States and Russia to both lower their respective strategic arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads. Each nation's fielded nuclear delivery vehicles -- missiles, submarines and bombers -- would be capped at 700, with another 100 allowed in reserve. The leaders are expected to sign the document in the Czech capital of Prague on April 8.

Read more ....

My Comment: Missile Defense has always been the sticky point in any U.S.-Russian nuclear arms agreement. The fact that it should be coming out now .... before the treaty is even signed .... is a bad omen that tells me that if the U.S. continues with its missile defense program .... which they say they will .... the Russian's will eventually walk away from the treaty.

Is this a potential disaster .... you betcha. But what infuriates me is that for the past week the US main stream media has been giving a distorted view of what this treaty will mean to both parties and the consequences if both sides continue the path that they are following. Instead, for the past week all that I have been listening to are high praises directed towards President Obama and the work that he has done to get this arms control agreement.

What our media pundits and reporters should have done is first .... read the treaty, and two .... read what the Russian Press and negotiators have been saying since the agreement. The Russians are not happy with this treaty, and everyone is now positioning themselves to make this treaty fail.

From where I am standing .... there will be a signing in Europe that will ratify this agreement. But as soon as this agreement is signed, the old U.S.-Russian differences on US missile defense will rear it's ugly head (again). In the end, the political crisis that will erupt will have the potential to make last years controversy over positioning 10 missile interceptors in Poland a cakewalk in comparison .... but for the moment .... the American public is blind to what is coming down.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- March 31, 2010

U.S. Forces Set Sights On Taliban Bastion Of Kandahar -- Washington Post

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- U.S. forces have begun the initial phases of a political-military offensive in this Taliban bastion and hope to control the city and surrounding areas by late summer, according to senior U.S. military officials.

Officials have pressed local leaders and tribal elders over the past several weeks to begin holding shuras, or conferences, in Kandahar city and outlying districts, telling them that they must improve governance, address corruption and eject the Taliban. Otherwise, their areas will be the focus of expanding military operations scheduled to begin in June with the arrival of 10,000 new U.S. troops, the officials have said.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Kandahar is NATO's next Afghanistan challenge -- Yahoo News/AFP
Date set for attack on Kandahar -- The Australian
Kandahar 'Shaping' Operations Under Way, Official Says -- US Department of Defense
Officials: June push in Kandahar -- CNN
Kandahar's sitting ducks -- Al Jazeera
Operation against Taliban in Kandahar to be led by Afghan forces: U.S. official -- China View
Taliban ejected from Kandahar villages ahead of latest NATO sweep. -- Canadian Press
Pentagon: Operations Underway Against Taliban in Kandahar -- Voice of America
Nato to launch surge against Taliban in Kandahar -- The Telegraph

Afghanistan: Taliban bomb attack targets anti-opium drive -- Christian Science Monitor
Afghan Bomb Aims at Anti-Opium Aid -- New York Times
Bicycle bomb kills 13 in southern Afghanistan -- Yahoo News/AP
Explosion Kills At Least 10 in Southern Afghanistan -- Voice of America

UN: Afghanistan is leading hashish producer -- Yahoo News/AP
Afghanistan also world's top hashish producer: UN -- Yahoo News/AFP
Afghanistan world's top cannabis source: U.N. -- Yahoo News/Reuters
The opium wars in Afghanistan -- Asia Times
Can Anyone Pacify An Opium State? -- CBS
U.N.: Afghanistan 'world's biggest producer of hashish' -- CNN

Canada tells Clinton troops are leaving in 2011 -- Washington Post
PM stresses security, but holds firm on Afghan withdrawal -- Toronto Star
Canada adamant about Afghanistan pullout; France sounds supportive note -- L.A. Times
Full Afghan withdrawal ‘wrong,’ top Tory says -- Toronto Star

Afghan president wraps up talks with insurgents -- Washington Post
Afghan militant Hekmatyar packs a surprise -- L.A. Times

SOLDIER MESSAGE - U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with soldiers assigned to the 12th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion on Forward Operating Base Wilson, Afghanistan, March 29, 2010. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

U.N. report on poverty in Afghanistan -- UPI
Corruption contributes to poverty in Afghanistan - UN -- BBC
Poverty kills more people than war in Afghanistan -- Rediff
UN report: Afghans plagued by poverty, corruption -- Washington Post/AP
Despite Doubt, Karzai Brother Retains Power -- New York Times
Afghanistan’s Corruption Cripples Economy, UN Says -- Businessweek/Bloomberg
Taliban IEDs `are harder to detect' -- The Australian
Around the Web: Comparing Marjah and Kandahar -- CNN

Destroying Morale in Afghanistan -- Washington Times editorial
This Time We Really Mean It -- Thomas Freidman, New York Times opinion

World News Briefs -- March 31, 2010

The site of two explosions in Russia’s southern town of Kizlyar. Reuters

Echoing Moscow Attack, Dagestan Bombings Underscore Russia's Terrorism Threat -- Christian Science Monitor

In Russia's restive republic of Dagestan, bombings killed 12 people and injured 23 just two days after the devastating Moscow attack.

Two suicide bombers, one disguised as a policeman, killed at least 12 people and injured 23 in attacks against Russian security forces in the turbulent southern republic of Dagestan Wednesday.

Read more ....


U.S. seeks 4-month Jerusalem building freeze: report.

Maliki is block in Iraq coalition merger talks.

Obama wants U.N. sanctions on Iran in weeks.

US pushes Israel to freeze settlement construction.


SKorea suspends underwater rescue operation.

U.S. forces set sights on Taliban bastion of Kandahar.

Bomb attack kills 13 in crowded Afghan market.

Pre-dawn Pakistan violence kills 32.


Pirate attacks return to record levels.

Rebels blamed for Central African Republic deaths.

Kenya vetoes Somali wish for troops in Mogadishu.


Double suicide bombings kill 12 in Russia's Dagestan.

Serbia apologizes for 1995 massacre.

Sarkozy reveals rift in U.S.-European relations.


Obama to open offshore areas to oil drilling for first time.

Putin Venezuelan trip to focus on energy, arms.

Clinton to co-chair Haiti rebuilding authority.

New chill enters US-Cuba relations after Obama's brief thaw.


CIA says ACLU-backed plan endangered Gitmo officers.

US Attorney General Eric Holder's trials and tribulations.

US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan.


US churches find no salvation from bad economy.

Eurozone unemployment rate rises to 10%.

Germany, France move toward bank levy.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- March 31, 2010

NEW COMBAT SHIP - The Navy's newest littoral combat ship USS Independence arrives at Mole Pier at Naval Air Station Key West, March 29, 2010. It will then sail to Norfolk, Va., for initial testing and evaluation of its aluminum vessel before continuing to its homeport in San Diego. The Independence is a fast, agile, mission-focused ship specifically designed to defeat "anti-access" threats in shallow, coastal water regions, including surface craft, diesel submarines and mines. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Kontodiakos

Congressional Report Cites Problems With LCS Ships -- Reuters

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy sees the launch and recovery of smaller boats as a "major risk" to both competing designs for its new Littoral Combat Ship program, a congressional watchdog agency said on Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the research arm of Congress, said the Navy's risk assessment was troubling, given that watercraft launch and recovery are "essential to complete the LCS antisubmarine warfare and mine countermeasures missions" for the new class of warships.

Read more ....


The USS Enterprise’s Long ESDRA Drydocking -- Defense Industry Daily

EADS ‘Will Bid,’ Sarkozy Says -- DoD Buzz

Boeing VP: DoD Cyber Spending To Grow, Even if Budgets Shrink -- Defense News

Drones may ship to Pakistan 'within a year': Pentagon -- AFP

US to consider Japan base alternatives -- AFP

Germany Weighs ‘Slight’ Reduction in A400M Orders
-- Bloomberg

UK cuts Airbus transport plane order after cost over-runs -- The Telegraph

US Air Force prefers extending old fighters' life -- Reuters

Former AF Sec Wynne Says 75 More F-22s a Bargain at $173 Million Per -- Defense Tech

Dad of a fallen Marine perseveres against protests at military funerals -- Christian Science Monitor

iPad As A Secret Weapon -- Strategy Page

South Africa Prepares to Secure World Cup -- Global Security Newswire

The Difference Between Russian Prime Minister Putin And Russian President Medvedev

Russian President Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Putin

From Foreign Policy:

Ever wonder why Vladimir Putin is so much more popular in Russia than his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev?

Their reactions to yesterday's subway bombings in Moscow shows why.

Read more ....

My Comment: My Russian aunt is what I would call an old style communist. She was happy living in her small room that included a small kitchen and a communal washroom with someone else. She received her small pension check every month, and was content with what she had.

When President Putin came to power, he upped the pensions for people like my aunt to a livable level. His government then moved pensioners like her to what we in the West regard as an old age home .... but for my aunt it was her own kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom .... and it was all new .... and it was now hers.

Who do you think she will vote for in the next Russian Presidential election?

Multiply my aunt by the millions who have benefited from Putin's reforms .... it is not hard to see who is the front runner in Russia's Presidential race. Putin has the pulse of the Russian people .... they know it .... current Russian President Medvedev knows it .... and Putin knows it.

Should Protestors Be Permitted At The Funerals Of Our Fallen Soldiers? U.S. Supreme Court To Decide

Justices To Hear Case Of Protest At Marine Funeral -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether the father of a Marine killed in Iraq may sue protesters who picketed his son’s funeral with signs that read “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

A federal appeals court dismissed the suit on First Amendment grounds and threw out a $5 million award against the protesters, who are members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and maintain that God hates homosexuality and that the death of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is God’s way of punishing the United States for its tolerance of it.

Read more ....

More News On The Supreme Court's Decision To Rule On Protests At The Funerals Of Soldiers

Marine's dad ordered to pay protesters' court fees but says he won't -- Wichita Eagle
Supreme Court Wades Into Funeral Protests -- Wall Street Journal
Supreme Court to rule on picketing military funerals -- Jurist
Snyder v. Phelps -- Frederick News Posts opinion

My Comment: I hate these protesters and for what they stand for .... but I will fight to protect their 1rst Amendment Right .... reluctantly.

Ayad Allawi, Iraq's Next Prime Minister .... Maybe

Ayad Allawi spoke of being viciously attacked in his bedroom in 1978 in London, where he was in exile after breaking with Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Joao Silva for The New York Times

Iraqi Ex-Premier Looks To Past In Fighting Critics -- New York Times

BAGHDAD — Ayad Allawi has seldom spoken publicly about the night more than 30 years ago when a pair of ax-wielding assassins turned his London bedroom into an abattoir.

Now, determined to counter charges by his political enemies that he won Iraq’s national elections by appealing to Baathists, and locked in a struggle with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to assemble a government, he offered up that story in the middle of an interview on Monday.

Read more ....

My Comment:
It is interesting to see what is happening in Iraq today. A Shiite dominated government is using the law to ban Allawi Sunni candidates because of past Baathist connections .... even though in the past Allawi was on a Baathist death list.

If successful, this will seriously undermine the Iraqi political process, and any government that PM Maliki may cobble together. The key is for both Ayad Allawi and PM Maliki to work together .... but from what I am seeing .... this cooperation is nowhere on the horizon.

Tech That Uses The Ocean Waves To Power A "Vessel"

Engage the wave drive (Image: Liquid Robotics)

Oceanology: Robot 'Gliders' Swim The Undersea World -- New Scientist

THE way we study oceans could be transformed by a high-tech "surfboard" that generates its own power from sunlight and water waves. The device is capable of navigating at sea for months at a time and recently completed a 4000-kilometre trip from Hawaii to San Diego, California.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am curious to know if (and how) this technology can be applied to larger vessels in the US Navy ... because it sounds cool to me.

US General Sorry For Blaming Massacre On Gay Soldiers

The cemetery at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and
Cemetery to Genocide Victims. Photo from Wikipedia

US General Apoloises For Blaming Gay Dutch Troops At Srebrenica -- Times Online

A retired US general has apologised for saying that Dutch troops failed to prevent the Srebrenica massacre because openly gay soldiers were included in their UN peace-keeping force.

John Sheehan, a former Nato supreme commander, wrote a letter to a senior Dutch general accepting that he was wrong to name him as the source of the claims and putting the blame for the atrocity on political guidance given to officers.

Read more ....

More News On General John Sheehan's Anti-Gay Comments

US ex-general apologizes for Dutch gay comments -- AP
US general apologises for anti-gay remarks -- AFP
US general apologises for gay Dutch troops slur -- The Telegraph

My Comment: Case closed .... time to move on.

US Marines Embrace Web 2.0

In About-Face, Marines Embrace Web 2.0 -- The Danger Room

Last summer, the U.S. Marine Corps took a draconian approach to Web 2.0, issuing a sweeping ban on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites from its networks.

In an order issued yesterday, the service changed course, issuing guidelines to encourage “responsible and effective use” of social networking technology. “The Marine Corps embraces and strives to leverage the advances of internet-based capabilities,” the directive states. “Effective immediately, internet-based capabilities will be made available to all MCEN [Marine Corps Enterprise Network] users.”

Read more ....

My Comment: I call this a positive direction. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. they all add to the morale and well being of our soldiers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Assault Breacher Vehicles Beat Bombs In Afghanistan

From Popular Mechanics:

Marine corps engineers in Afghanistan have a new beast of a vehicle to help them defeat explosive booby traps.

The civilian mechanics at Anniston Army Depot in Alabama usually only fix vehicles for the Army, not design them for the Marine Corps. But as Marines push into contested areas of Afghanistan, their engineers face a persistent threat from roadside bombs. The mechanics at Anniston saw they could build a safe ride for these military engineers by adding off-the-shelf equipment to an M1A1 Abrams battle tank. The result, called the Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV), maximizes the depot staff’s experience at fixing the M1A1 and their ability to mount heavy engineering equipment, including a 12-foot plough, onto its hull. The Army donated excess tank parts from its inventory to create the ABV.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is truly a monster vehicle.

On The Ground Report From Afghanistan

HELPING AFGHANS - U.S. Army soldiers help injured Afghan villagers onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an operation to transport patients in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, March 28, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nicholas T. Loyd

Afghan Front Feels Little Obama Effect -- Washington Times

Focus is Taliban, not corruption.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan | Surrounded by gravel-filled buttresses and manned 24 hours a day by alert American and Afghan gunners, Combat Outpost Kowall appears like an outpost under siege. It is one of the frontline posts in Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's expanded campaign to flush out a resurgent Taliban militia ahead of the major offensive on Kandahar expected in the coming months.

President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan was an opportunity to express U.S. displeasure with the rampant corruption in the government of President Hamid Karzai. But for the soldiers of Alpha Company of the 82nd Airborne Division, Kabul's conference halls and money-

Read more ....

My Comment: This article focuses on President Obama's trip to Afghanistan, but in outposts like Combat Outpost Kowall it is clear that President Obama's visit has zero if any impact.

I feel for the Afghan soldiers who must operate in this part of Afghanistan even though they are from a different ethnic group, and I feel for the Americans who find themselves in the middle of all of this.

Afghanistan's Top General Has Declared War Against Junk Food

Fast food in Afghanistan: This is the equivalent of a military flatpack. Pizza Hut comes complete within a haulage container. It's a little bit of home cooking for soldiers serving overseas. (Photo from The BBC)

Army Food: The Battle Of The Bulge -- Times Online

The top general in Afghanistan has banned junk food for the troops. In Kabul report on a clash of culinary traditions.

It was visions of Ambrosia that sustained the Spartans, while GIs in the Vietnam War imagined the culinary and sensual pleasures of Saigon. For the troops fighting in the Helmand desert, fantasies tend to focus on chilled milkshakes and Double Whoppers served up on a neon-lit strip of Kandahar airbase known as “The Boardwalk”.

Or they did until yesterday, when the famously ascetic commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, ordered that the Boardwalk — an ever-expanding cluster of fast-food joints at the sprawling airbase — be closed.

Read more ....

My Comment: General McChrystal is going a "little bit" overboard. I can understand the alcohol prohibition .... but Burger King and Pizza Hut?

Meet The Man Who Has Been Spilling Iran's Nuclear Secrets To The CIA

Shahram Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early 30s, went missing last June three days after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, according to the Iranian government. Photo from Press TV

EXCLUSIVE: Iran Nuclear Scientist Defects to U.S. In CIA 'Intelligence Coup' -- ABC News

Shahram Amiri Disappeared Last June in Saudi Arabia, Reportedly Now Resettled in the United States.

An award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared last year under mysterious circumstances, has defected to the CIA and been resettled in the United States, according to people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials.

The officials were said to have termed the defection of the scientist, Shahram Amiri, "an intelligence coup" in the continuing CIA operation to spy on and undermine Iran's nuclear program.

Read more ....

My Comment:I would love to know what he knows .... but I suspect that the information that he is providing will probably remain classified for a very long time.

Canada Confirms That They Will Be Leaving Afghanistan In 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks towards Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he makes an opening statement at the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting at the Chateau Cartier in Gatineau, Que., on Tuesday, March 30, 2010. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Tories Firm On Afghan Exit Plan Despite Clinton's Plea -- CTV

The Canadian government insists it will not back down from its intention to pull its troops out of combat in Afghanistan next year, despite a not-so-subtle hint from the U.S. Secretary of State that Washington wants its closest ally to remain there.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CTV's Power Play on Monday that Washington values the work of Canadian soldiers and would "obviously like to see some form of support continue" beyond 2011 -- the year that Ottawa has pledged to pull the Canadian Forces off the Afghan battlefield.

Read more ....

More News On Canada's Exit From Afghanistan

Harper firm on Afghan withdrawal despite U.S. appeal -- Vancouver Sun
Canada rebuffs U.S. on Afghan extension -- UPI
PM Harper: Canadian Troops To Withdraw From Afghanistan In 2011 -- RTT
Canada Tells Clinton Troops Are Leaving in 2011 -- New York Times
Canada confirmed army forces withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 -- The Examiner
No means no, PM tells Clinton -- Globe And Mail
Clinton wants continued Canadian Afghan presence -- Washington Post

My Comment: As a Canadian .... I say good riddance .... and not soon enough.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- March 30, 2010

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace -- Wall Street Journal

Are settlements more offensive than pop stars?

Pop quiz—What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video?

If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism. If, however, you answered (a), then congratulations: You are perfectly in synch with the new Beltway conventional wisdom, now jointly defined by Pat Buchanan and his strange bedfellows within the Obama administration.

What is that wisdom? In a March 26 column in Human Events, Mr. Buchanan put the case with his usual subtlety:

Read more

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Terror Returns to Moscow -- The Times editorial

Moscow Under Attack -- Sergey Kuznetsov, New York Times

Day the War Came Back to Moscow -- Anna Nemtsova, Foreign Policy

An Illusory New START -- Alexander Golts, Moscow Times

Unruly Clients: The Trouble with Allies -- Steven Metz, World Affairs

Soothing China-U.S. Tensions -- Charles A. Kupshan, New York Times

Afghan war spilling Over in Central Asia -- Joshua Foust, Current Intelligence

President Obama in Kabul -- New York Times editorial

Drone dependency trivializing Afghan war -- Cesar Chelala, Japan Times

Decision time in Burma for democracy's advocates -- U Win Tin, Washington Post

What the Iraqis are building -- Washington Post editorial

Why Precious Is Strategic -- Brahma Chellaney, Times Of India

World News Briefs -- March 30, 2010 (Evening Edition)

Russian Blast Accomplices Caught On Camera -- ABC News

Security officials in Russia say they have made important breakthroughs in the investigation into the fatal bombing of the Moscow metro.

Russian police say video surveillance has revealed the two suspected suicide bombers had accomplices.

They are searching for two women and a man seen with the suspected bombers at a metro station outside central Moscow on the morning of the attack.

Read more ....


Allawi accuses Tehran of meddling in Iraqi politics.

G8 leaders: Growing momentum for Iran nuclear sanctions.

In Iraq, candidates seek an edge with post-election maneuvers.

CIA: Iran capable of producing nukes.

Hamas seizes $270,000 in frozen funds from bank.


‘The Silent Surge’: Pakistan's foreign minister on what his country is doing to combat militant Islamists.

Thai red-shirt peace talks reach stalemate.

Afghanistan: Nato to launch Kandahar assault in June.

Diver dies at South Korean warship rescue site.

Pakistani court keeps curbs on nuclear scientist.

Myanmar Opposition Party's vote boycott angers some.


Nigerian Islamist sect threaten to widen attacks.

White Zimbabwe farmers win South Africa property.

Pirates hijack Panamanian ship off Yemen. Somali pirates hijack eight ships in three days.

Sudan opposition mulls poll boycott.

New LRA attacks leave 26 dead in C.Africa: military.


Serbia debates Srebrenica massacre apology.

The difference between Putin and Medvedev.

Death toll from Moscow blasts rises to 39

Russia faces continuing problems in the Northern Caucasus.

Geneva atom smasher sets collision record.

Berlusconi scores political victory in local vote.


Haiti to unveil $3.9B restructuring plan at the U.N. Britain turns off Haiti aid and delivers a snub to New York donor conference.

FBI launches raids on Christian militia group which is 'preparing for battle against an Anti-Christ'.

Obama signs health care reconciliation bill.

Hillary Clinton criticises Canada over Arctic talks.

Mexican Azteca gang leader arrested in killings of 3 tied to U.S. consulate. Ventura County probe leads to arrest of alleged Mexican drug kingpin.


After Moscow bombings, U.S. subways still vulnerable to terrorism.

India's hottest weapon in fight against terrorists: chili peppers.

CNN poll: Americans favor keeping Guantanamo open.

Bin Laden is 'healthy, giving the orders' says terror suspect.

Nuclear ambitions, terrorism focus at G8 meet.

The growing threat from female suicide bombers.


Google CEO's compensation for 2009 falls 52 pct.

Pssst: Wall Street is hiring again.

World stocks gain as US economic outlook brightens.

Can a former KGB agent save London's Independent?