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Philippeans eye deployment of add’l Marine troops near disputed islands

AFP eyes deployment of add’l Marine troops near Spratlys

The Philippine military is mulling the transfer of a Sulu-based Marine battalion to Palawan near the disputed West Philippine Sea, citing “territorial defense operation.” A source said this is being studied by the military top brass in Camp Aguinaldo in coordination with the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command. “That’s being planned by GHQ (General Headquarters) but there is still no confirmation to it. It is still being discussed,” a ranking official said Tuesday.

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Spain’s prime minister will ask for a court ban on Catalonia’s independence vote

Spain's prime minister will ask for a court ban on Catalonia's independence vote

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced Monday that he plans to ask the country’s Constitutional Court to ban a new law that would allow the semi-autonomous Catalonia region to vote on its independence. Rajoy said the new Catalan law is “anti-democratic” and that the vote is “not compatible with the Spanish constitution.” His statement comes after Catalonia’s President Artur Mas signed a decree on Saturday that called for a referendum on independence, which would be held on Nov. 9.

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Thailand army on ‘high alert’ after Myanmar clashes

Thailand army on 'high alert' after Myanmar clashes

Thai soldiers in Tak province have been put on high alert after heavy fighting between Burmese government soldiers and Karen rebels temporarily closed the Mae Sot border pass. Lt Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, commander of Thailand’s 3rd Army, said the clashes erupted four to five km from the Thai border.Despite the lull in violence, Thai Prime Minister and army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha has placed Thai soldiers on high alert.

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Mass default looms as world sinks beneath a sea of debt

Mass default looms as world sinks beneath a sea of debt

As if the fast degenerating geo-political situation isn’t bad enough, here’s another lorry load of concerns to add to the pile. The UK remains the fourth most highly indebted major economy in the world after Japan, Sweden and Canada, with total non financial debt of 276pc of GDP. The US is not far behind with debt of 264pc of GDP. However, the real stand-out is China, which since the crisis began has seen debt spiral from a very manageable 140pc of GDP to 220pc and rising.

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In the shadow of Iran a new UAE oil port is transforming energy sector

In the shadow of Iran a new UAE oil port is transforming energy sector

In response to Iran’s strategic grip over oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz, a new export route for crude from the Persian Gulf is growing on the coast of the Arabian Sea, with the potential to transform global energy markets. Giant tankers now queue in lines stretching for miles to load oil or refuel at Fujairah after the government invested billions of dollars into building a giant oil pipeline across the rugged Hajar mountains.

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Germany Unable to Meet NATO Readiness Target

Germany Unable to Meet NATO Readiness Target

Germany’s military is unable to meet its medium-term readiness target should NATO call on its members to mobilize against an attack, officials said Monday. The revelation follows days of embarrassing reports about equipment failures that included German army instructors being stranded in Bulgaria en route to Iraq when their plane broke down, and delays in sending weapons to arm Kurdish fighters because of another transport problem. But, he said, Germany’s short-term readiness isn’t an issue.

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Turkey deploys 35 tanks in border town near Syria

Turkey deploys 35 tanks in border town near Syria

Turkey’s military on Monday deployed 35 tanks in a border town near Syria after mortar shells landed on Turkish territory, injuring three people, media reported. As clashes between Islamic State (IS) militants and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) intensified in Kobane city in northern Syria, the Turkish Armed Forces stepped up security measures on the border line in Suruc town of the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, Xinhua reported citing the semi-official Anadolu Agency.

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Hong Kong Protesters Fear Martial Law Is Coming

Hong Kong Protesters Fear Martial Law Is Coming

Authorities in Hong Kong, at least for the moment, have lost control of spiraling protests in the city. Although the government said Monday it had pulled back riot police, Chinese state media reported that Beijing is prepared to send the People’s Armed Police, essentially a branch of the military, to Hong Kong to restore order, and some observers say martial law could soon be imposed. Others worry that police might resort to deadly force against protesters. The deteriorating situation must make the Communist Party in China nervous.

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EU asking shippers for daily updates on Russian natural gas supply

EU asking shippers for daily updates on Russian natural gas supply

Since Monday, the European Commission has been asking some European gas shippers via national regulators to fill in a form daily to check if nominations for natural gas are being met by physical flows from Russia, ICIS has learnt. Some worry exists among EU leaders of a disruption in the supply of Russian gas to Europe. There is a fear that the flow of Russian gas transiting through Ukraine could be disrupted, although there has been no sign of this so far since the flare up geopolitical tensions in Ukraine. There is also a worry Russia could disrupt supply in response to sanctions or other reasons, even if this is viewed as unlikely.

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US AFRICOM to establish its own Air Command

US AFRICOM to establish its own Air Command

Come the start of October US Air Forces Africa will be activated and given the designation of the 17th Air Force. This announcement was made at Ramstein Air Base in Germany by General William Ward, Commander of US Africa Command (Africom). Welcoming the US Air Forces Africa to Africom he said it was a major undertaking involving hard work to establish a new air force service component command from the ground up. The airborne component of Africom, Ward said, will have the same mission.

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Is Samaras Resorting to ‘Bank Run’ Threats?

Is Samaras Resorting to ‘Bank Run’ Threats

New Democracy MP Adonis Georgiadis recently announced that, should the current coalition government fall and SYRIZA rise to power, he will immediately withdraw all his money from the bank. At any other time, a statement of that sort would sound merely colorful. But given the fragile, fragmented nature of Greece’s banking system, Georgiadis’s words border on the incendiary. His threat also sounds uncannily similar to those old slogans the Greek right used to feed to their electorate: “If the Communists take power, they will take your homes.”

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Poland sells military drones to Ukraine

Poland sells military drones to Ukraine

Speaking at the 11th Arms and Security exhibition in Kiev, Ukrainian chairman of parliament Oleksandr Turchynov said that the government is buying drone aircraft from Poland to assist ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine. “It’s very important to us, and our Polish colleagues want to supply these products to Ukraine,” Oleksandr Turchynov is quoted by Interfax as saying. The Polish unmanned aircraft are able to lift up to 15 kilograms of cargo, including arms, he said, and would be used immediately in battle zones.

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China’s New Export: Military in a Box

China's New Export: Military in a Box

At the Africa Aerospace and Defence expo in September, weapons buyers from across the continent descended on Air Force Base Waterkloof in the South African capital of Pretoria for a bit of shopping. There they were wooed by Chinese defense gear giant Norinco, which has honed its pitch to an art. Norinco has even devised a novel way to make buying weapons easier: It bundles together starter kits of basic defense gear—everything from rifles to howitzers, laser-guided bombs, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and drones—for governments that want to quickly outfit their armed forces.

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African Forces Plan Surge to Cut Somali Militants’ Supply Routes

African Forces Plan Surge to Cut Somali Militants’ Supply Routes

African troops in Somalia are planning a “surge” to free areas still controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militants, with more than two-thirds of the country already liberated, government and African Union officials said. Barawe serves as an access point for al-Shabaab “to get weapons and supplies by sea,” Syong’oh said. “It will be the next big thing after Kismayo,” he said, referring to the capture two years ago of the Somali port that severed an income stream generated by illegal charcoal exports. Barawe serves as an access point for al-Shabaab to get weapons and supplies by sea.

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Moody’s says private security firm Academi is cash-strapped post-acquisition

Moody's says private security firm Academi is cash-strapped post-acquisition

An acquisition that brings together leaders in the private security industry also leaves the combined company strapped for cash — but still stable, according to one rating agency. The deal announced in June united McLean-based Academi Holdings LLC with Triple Canopy in Reston and a few other global security companies, creating a company with estimated annual revenue of about $800 million, according to Moody’s Investors Service. But it also leaves liquidity dangerously tight, Moody’s says. C

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Tanzania Likely to Become Next Major Producer of ‘Rare Earth’

Tanzania Likely to Become Next Major Producer of 'Rare Earth'

Some 189 kilometres from the district centre in Chunya, on the edge of the East African Rift Valley, there lies one of the largest and highest grade rare earth deposits in the world. It consists of 17 elements on the periodic table, including 15 elements beginning with atomic number 57 (lanthanum) and extending through number 71 (lutetium), as well as two other elements having similar properties (yttrium and scandium). These are referred to as “rare” because although relatively abundant in total quantity, they appear in low concentrations in the earth’s crust and extraction and processing is both difficult and costly.

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Turkish warship monitors Cyprus gas exploration

Turkish warship monitors Cyprus gas exploration

Turkey has sent a warship to the island of Cyprus to monitor a drillship that has been sent to search for natural gas reserves off the island’s coast. Italian-Korean consortium ENI/KOGAS has sent the Bahamas flag-carrier Saipem 10000 drillship to the “Onasagoras” gas field in Block 9 of the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on Tuesday. In response, the Turkish navy has sent its Bafra Korveti warship to observe the drillship’s activities. Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister said that hydrocarbon exploration in the region will continue despite Turkey’s objections, calling Turkey’s actions ‘potential harassment’.

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Courting Vietnam, US Prepares to Ease Arms Embargo

Courting Vietnam, US Prepares to Ease Arms Embargo

Senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the initiative said Washington wants to support Vietnam by strengthening its ability to monitor and defend its coastline, and said unarmed P-3 surveillance planes could be one of the first sales. Such aircraft would also allow Vietnam to keep track of China’s increasingly assertive activities in the South China Sea, a potential flash point because of interlocking claims from many countries to its islands and reefs. Two senior Obama administration officials said discussions on easing the embargo are taking place in Washington and could result in a decision later this year.

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Bahraini fighter jets join Syria strikes

Bahraini fighter jets join Syria strikes

Bahraini fighter jets have joined US-led air strikes in Syria to prevent extremist fighters from expanding throughout the region. The US operation included the Royal Bahrain Air Force (RBAF) and military forces from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Jordan, which was part of an international action plan to stamp out the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation. “A group of fighter jets from the RBAF carried out, along with the air forces of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states and those of allied and friendly countries, air strikes against a number of selected targets of terrorist groups and organisations, and destroyed them.”

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Bangladesh becoming gold smuggling hub for Mideast gold: officials

Bangladesh becoming gold smuggling hub for Mideast gold

Bangladesh has seen a huge leap in gold smuggling to neighboring India, the customs intelligence chief said. Mainul Hossain Khan said his team was catching gold smugglers red-handed every day at the country’s two international airports, with bullion brought in mainly from the Middle East and believed destined for India. They had seized 623 kilograms of gold since July 2013, up from just 15 kilograms over the whole of the previous five years, he said. “Gold seizures in the airports have become a daily affair,” Khan told AFP, saying that only that day his team had found 27 gold bars hidden in a microwave oven.

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Unrest continues in Yemen day after the peace agreement

Unrest continues in Yemen day after the peace agreement

Despite Sunday’s peace agreement in Yemen, the Houthi group still refuses to withdraw from sites they had previously controlled. Militants affiliated to the Houthis have stormed the home of activist and Nobel Peace prize winner Tawakkol Karman, as well as two homes owned by an advisor to the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the capital Sanaa. Eyewitnesses confirmed that the militants looted the contents of the homes. Houthis broke into the headquarters of the Suhail satellite channel in Sanaa, owned by tribal leader Hameed Al-Ahmar.

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ISIL has formed oil trading network in Syria

ISIL has formed oil trading network in Syria

Islamic fighters led by ISIL have established an oil trading network within Syria which includes other opposition groups and the Assad regime, Turkish Anadolu Agency reports today quoting experts on Syria as saying. Having taken major oil fields in the north of Syria, ISIL is rumored to have created a local market in which they produce oil and sell it within the country to other opposition-held areas, as well as Assad regime, either directly or indirectly. ISIL militants have taken the Raqqa, Dair az Zor and al Omar oil fields in the north of Syria since last November.

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Secret nuclear cargo along coast of Norway

Secret nuclear cargo along coast of Norway

Despite cold political climate, the U.S. and Russia cooperated on a secret September voyage with Highly-enriched uranium from Poland to Murmansk. Norwegian radiation authorities not informed before the vessel sailed into its economical zone. Head of Vardø Vessel Traffic Service, Ståle Sveinungsen, confirms to BarentsObserver that the vessel “Mikhail Dudin” was carrying a load of highly radioactive material when it sailed along the coast of Norway two weeks ago. Last position of the vessel, was just outside Atomflot in the Kola Bay.

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Chinese and Indian troops in Himalayan standoff

Chinese and Indian troops in Himalayan standoff

Hundreds of Indian and Chinese troops have dug into positions on a high Himalayan plateau, leading India’s army chief to cancel a foreign trip and monitor a standoff that underscores deep differences between the Asian giants as they seek closer ties. Military officials in New Delhi and Kashmir said on Tuesday that Chinese troops set up a camp about 3 km (2 miles) into territory claimed by India in the Chumar region of the Ladakh plateau more than a week ago.

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