web analytics

Archive | August, 2011

CIA recruits 1,500 from Mazar-e-Sharif to fight in Libya

The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States recruited over 1,500 men from Mazar-e-Sharif for fighting against the Qaddafi forces in Libya.

Sources told TheNation: “Most of the men have been recruited from Afghanistan. They are Uzbeks, Persians and Hazaras. According to the footage, these men attired in Uzbek-style of shalwar and Hazara-Uzbek Kurta were found fighting in Libyan cities.”

When Al-Jazeera reporter pointed it he was disallowed by the ‘rebels ‘to capture images.

Sources in Quetta said: “Some Uzbeks and Hazaras from Afghanistan were arrested in Balochistan for illegally traveling into Pakistan en route to Libya through Iran. Aljazeera’s report gave credence to this story. More than 60 Afghans, mainly children and teenagers, have been found dead after suffocating inside a shipping container in southwestern Pakistan in an apparent human smuggling attempt.

Read More Comments Off

U.S., Canada Planning Harmonized Trading Rules Amid Canadians’ Objections

The U.S. and Canada plan to harmonize regulations governing the most-heavily traded products, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson said, one day after a report showed some Canadians are uneasy with the idea.

The two countries will release more details over the next several weeks on the “first tranche” of industries where conflicting regulations will be harmonized, Jacobson said in an Aug. 30 interview with Bloomberg News. He didn’t elaborate on specific products.

“It’s fair to say that we want to focus on areas where there is more trade, because the more trade that we focus on, the more jobs that we’re going to create in this process,” Jacobson said.

The effort will focus on streamlining “dumb” regulations that are “different because they’re different,” said Jacobson, 59, who took office as ambassador in October 2009.

Read More Comments Off

UK memo welcomes Karzai plan to step down in 2014

British officials believe Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s decision to step down at the end of his second term in 2014 greatly improves his country’s political prospects, a confidential memo accidentally disclosed by a minister showed.

The memo, held by British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell as he left a high-level meeting on Tuesday and caught by a photographer, also expressed hope that talks between Afghanistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which broke down in June, will get back on track soon.

The revelation of the views of Britain’s international aid department on Karzai is embarrassing for the British government.

Britain, which has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan battling Taliban insurgents and is a major aid donor, strongly supports Karzai in public. But Karzai has often had difficult relations with the United States and other Western backers.

Read More Comments Off

Gaza: Israeli Military Arming, Training Vigilantes

In what can be interpreted as a clear admission that Israeli state institutions are not up to the task, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has admitted it is training settlers in occupied Palestinian territory, and arming them with stun grenades, tear gas, and other weaponry “to handle any unrest which breaks out during the UN campaign.” (1)

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the information is contained in a military document in their possession. (2)

The training of civilian vigilantes by the Israeli state to deal with proposed peaceful Palestinian protests within their own territory is not only an excess of florid paranoia, but an unmistakable sign to the international community that the Israeli government has no faith in the state’s organs’ ability to maintain the peace – either within its own territory, or that which it illegally occupies.

Read More Comments Off

Italian Town Prints Its Own Currency to Fight Austerity Measures

If you’re a small-town mayor unhappy with your national government, there’s one thing you can do: declare independence and start issuing currency with your face on it. Just ask the mayor (or should we say, prince?) of Filettino, Italy.

Italy is right in the middle of the larger sovereign debt crisis going on in Europe, which is shaking the confidence of markets across the globe. The Italian government has issued a number of austerity measures to get its books in order, including plans to merge the governments of towns with less than 1,000 people to cut costs. That’s 1,963 towns total.

But Luca Sellari, the mayor of Filettino, Italy, is fighting back. Rather than give into the national government’s demands, Sellari wants his central Italian town of 598 to become an independent state under a monarch. Who would be the monarch, you ask? Well, Sellari, of course.

Read More Comments Off

Questions abound over Algeria-Libya connection

Algeria has not only offered a safe haven for members of the Gadhafi clan, but also been openly critical of the rebels in Libya. Deutsche Welle investigates the relationship between two dictatorial neighboring states.

Deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and his allies don’t have many friends around the world at the moment. But the government of neighboring Algeria is bucking the international trend in offering Gadhafi’s wife and three of his children refuge – as well as challenging the legitimacy of National Transitional Council (NTC) now in charge of Libya.

On Tuesday an Algerian government spokesperson said his country had given the Gadhafi family members sanctuary for humanitarian reasons. But cordial relations between Algeria and Gadhafi have a substantial history.

Read More Comments Off

Medvedev Names Ex-KGB Officer as St. Petersburg Governor

President Dmitry Medvedev named former KGB officer Georgy Poltavchenko as governor of St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

“This is a major responsibility that you should carry out with honor,” Medvedev told Poltavchenko at his residence in Sochi.

The new governor’s candidacy must be approved by the St. Petersburg parliament, which is dominated by the ruling United Russia party.

Poltavchenko, 58, replaces Valentina Matviyenko, the outgoing governor, who will lead the Federation Council. A St. Petersburg native and presidential envoy for the Central Federal District that includes Moscow, Poltavchenko worked for the KGB and Federal Security Service between 1979 and 1992. He was appointed acting governor on Aug. 22.

Read More Comments Off

Myanmar jails man for 10 years for web article

A court in military-dominated Myanmar has sentenced a retired major to a decade in prison for writing an article deemed subversive and distributing it to overseas media, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Nay Myo Zin, 36, was arrested in April, accused of harming national security, the rule of law, peace and stability and national unity with his article on reforming Myanmar’s military and dictatorship.

He was accused of sending the article by email to pro-democracy activists and media-in-exile, such as the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). The article is believed to have been published on the Internet.

“He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment last Friday under the electronic act at a closed-door special court in Insein prison,” one of his lawyers, Hla Myo Myint, told AFP.

Read More Comments Off

Kremlin’s Fear of China Drives Its Foreign Policy

Russia perceives China as being highly unpredictable and worries about Beijing’s technological dominance, growing military strength and demographic and economic expansion into Siberia, which is sparsely populated but resource-rich.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s saber-rattling in the Far East, while purportedly aimed at protecting the Kuril Islands from a weak Japan, is Moscow’s subtle signal to Beijing.

The real threat for Russia is China’s capabilities. Beijing’s ability to expand its nuclear arsenal is worrisome because at parity levels, Russia’s nuclear deterrent loses credibility in relation to China’s greater counterstrike potential. Thus, fear, which is the dominant factor behind the Kremlin’s policy of maintaining nuclear superiority over China, hinders global efforts to decrease Russia’s nuclear arsenal — in particular, its tactical weapons.

Read More Comments Off

Is China’s nuclear power risky?

By settling for cheap technology, China has “vastly increased” the risk of a nuclear accident, claim diplomatic cables from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, The Guardian newspaper reports.

The U.S. Embassy cables from August 2008, released by WikiLeaks, warned that China’s choice of technology would be a century old by the time dozens of China’s reactors come to the end of their lifespan.

In one of the August 2008 cables, the embassy suggested “continuous high-level advocacy” on behalf of Westinghouse to push its AP-1000 reactor, noting that China was in the process of building 50-60 new nuclear plants by 2020, the newspaper reports. At that time, China was keen on building its CPR-1000 reactors, based on old Westinghouse technology.

Read More Comments Off

Our World: The perils of a remilitarized Sinai

Will the Egyptian military be permitted to remilitarize the Sinai? Since Palestinian and Egyptian terrorists crossed into Israel from Sinai on August 18 and murdered eight Israelis this has been a central issue under discussion at senior echelons of the government and the IDF.

Under the terms of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Egypt is prohibited from deploying military forces in the Sinai. Israel must approve any Egyptian military mobilization in the area. Today, Egypt is asking to permanently deploy its forces in the Sinai. Such a move requires an amendment to the treaty.

Supported by the Obama administration, the Egyptians say they need to deploy forces in the Sinai in order to rein in and defeat the jihadist forces now running rampant throughout the peninsula. Aside from attacking Israel, these jihadists have openly challenged Egyptian governmental control over the territory.

Read More Comments Off

Libyan rebels accused of targeting and killing innocent black workers

”The NTC [National Transitional Council] seems to confuse black people with mercenaries,” the African Union chairman, Jean Ping, said.

He said this could be a reason the African Union has not recognised opposition forces as Libya’s interim government. One third of the population is black, he said. ”They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them.”

Mr Ping speculated that the killings could be the work of ”looters or uncontrolled forces”.

”But then the [new] government should say something, condemn this,” he said.

”We want to see a signal that the African workers … [will] be evacuated.”

Read More Comments Off

‘Smart’ CCTV could track rioters

CCTV that can automatically monitor criminal behaviour and track suspects is being developed by UK scientists.

Researchers at Kingston University have created a system that uses artificial intelligence to recognise specific types of behaviour, such as someone holding a gun.

The technology is capable of following a person across multiple cameras.

Privacy campaigners warned that it might be used to target groups such as political protesters.

However, the developers insisted that their invention would allow police to focus on law breakers and erase images of innocent civilians.

Read More Comments Off

Using Open Data To Understand War And Peace

Academic studies of wars and conflicts have been around for centuries, but a new one funded by the U.S. Defense Department could change our fundamental understanding of war and peace. The massive, publicly accessible conflict data archive called “The Empirical Studies of Conflict (ESOC)” project, headed up by Stanford and Princeton University academics, will also publish working papers and other research showing their findings.

To start, the ESOC project is analyzing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines (against the amazingly named MILF separatist group), Colombia, Northern Ireland, and Pakistan. According to project co-director Col. Joseph Felter of Stanford University, the choice of conflicts to be studied primarily reflects the availability of pre-existing data to collect and analyze–with priority given to “the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Read More Comments Off

CIA’s Bay of Pigs foreign policy laid bare

A once-secret CIA history of the Bay of Pigs invasion lays out in unvarnished detail how the American spy agency came to the rescue of and cut deals with authoritarian governments in Central America, largely to hide the U.S. role in organizing and controlling the hapless Cuban exile invasion force.

CIA pilots and Cuban foot soldiers then help suppress a Guatemalan Army coup attempt that threatened their foothold in the country. Gen. Anastasio Somoza hits up the CIA for a $10 million payoff, development loans, as the price of letting the Americans launch the Cuban exile invasion from Nicaragua.

Read More Comments Off

WikiLeaks cable: Cebuanos tolerated death squads?

Cebu residents may have allowed death squads to go on killing sprees in the city in the mid-2000s as a means to combat crime, a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks said.

Cable 05MANILA1774 titled “Latest Vigilante Killings in Cebu – No End in Sight” said summary executions of suspected criminals by “death squads” in Cebu rose by an alarming rate from December 2004 to the time of the cable’s creation on April 18, 2005.

The embassy memo, sent by then US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone Jr., said suspected vigilantes killed at least 41 people in a 4-month period alone.

“Civil society groups have condemned the extrajudicial killings, but much of the public appears willing to tolerate them as an expedient means of combating crime,” the cable said.

Read More Comments Off

NASA, DARPA set aside $500,000 for private, long-distance space travel project

On paper anyway the 100 Year Starship – now with its own acronym, 100YSS — project could be one of the most ambitious space developments ever attempted. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with NASA Ames Research Center have officially announced a $500,00 grant that will likely be awarded to one outfit to create a self-sustaining organization that will tackle all the issues and challenges inherent in long-duration interstellar space flight.

According to DARPA: “The goal is to develop an investment vehicle-with the patronage and guidance of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and technology visionaries-which provides the stability for sustained investment over a century-long time horizon, concomitant with the agility to respond to the accelerating pace of technological, social, and other change.

In attempting to achieve major endeavors, such as the first flight to the moon, mankind has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible technically.

Read More Comments Off

The ShadowHawk drone – is it a killbot?

How else can you explain the fact the ShadowHawk can be equipped with a XREP taser that is capable of shooting four barbed electrodes? These electrodes can be shot at a distance of up to 100 feet giving “neuromuscular incapacitation” to the victim from above.

It gets more killtastic though.

This baby can also be armed with 37mm or 40mm grenade launchers and or a multiple shot 12 gauge shotgun. Just in case some people on the ground need to be taken out.

The same technology that has been utilized to find and kill insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq for years now has the Department of Homeland Security’s approval for use in the United States. Our tax dollars are funding a killbot revolution it seems.

Read More Comments Off

DHS Testing Iris Scanners At U.S. Border

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) next month will test the use of commercial iris-scanning technology at a U.S.-Mexico border patrol station.

The DHS has not yet decided whether it will ever deploy the technology, but is conducting the two-week test at a station in McAllen, Texas, for operational feasibility, DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said via e-mail Monday.

“This is a preliminary test of how the technology performs — we have no specific plans for acquiring or deploying this type of technology at this point,” she said.

Currently, the backend databases the DHS would need to successfully deploy the technology don’t exist, and no DHS customers are requesting the use of such technology.

Read More Comments Off

China’s plan for secret detentions alarms rights activists

A proposed change in the Chinese criminal code that would allow authorities to detain suspects for up to six months in a secret location is a dangerous step backward for the country, activists charged Saturday.

The change would essentially enshrine what has become a common practice for silencing dissidents, many of whom have disappeared for months without formal charges being filed. Under the change, the suspects could be held without their family members or lawyers being notified.

The proposed change in the law was disclosed last week in the respected Legal Daily.

“This new amendment will legalize ‘forced disappearance,’” Beijing attorney Liu Xiaoyuan wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Liu was briefly detained around the same time as his friend and client Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist whose arrest this spring made international headlines.

Read More Comments Off

Ankara at a point of no return on Syria?

This week, among all the other developments going on around the world, Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser at the White House, gave an important interview in which he laid down two “core principals” for the United States in terms of the preferred model for any future military interventions. While talking to Foreign Policy Magazine, Rhodes said that in order for the U.S. to intervene militarily, the drive first had to come from an indigenous political movement as it is “far more legitimate and effective [in allowing] regime change to be pursued.”

“Secondly,” he said, “we put an emphasis on burden sharing, so that the U.S. won’t be bearing the brunt of the burden” and so that there won’t just be international support for the effort, but also meaningful international contribution.

Read More Comments Off

India’s New Strike Corps

The news that the Indian Army is preparing to set up a new strike corps tasked with attacking targets in China in the event of a war between the two neighbours marks a bold escalation in India’s attempts to balance against China militarily and to assert control over its Himalayan possessions.

China’s defeat of India in the 1962 border conflict left behind a conceptual legacy of one-way traffic in the disputed areas of the Himalayas, and a sense that India would henceforth be the party on the back foot. Indeed, this has often been the case on the ground, with Indian allegations about Chinese incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) never really drying up, but with India lacking the resources to do very much about them. Just this month, there were Indian media reports of Chinese military construction on India’s side of the line in Ladakh (known as Aksai Chin by the Chinese).

Read More Comments Off

African ‘mercenaries’ are executed in cold-blood by rebels in Libya

The fighting in Libya is taking a new twist as rebels engage in despicable atrocities with reports of summary executions as they hunt for ‘mercenaries’ who they alleged aided and supported Gaddafi’s forces. The ‘mercenaries’, mostly from sub-saharan Africa, were said to be violently massacred in revenge for their role in the ongoing conflict. It seems the TRC has been unable to prevent such acts of heinous crimes despite appeals from the UN and the international community to the rebels not to carry out revenge killings. At this point, the TRC seems more anxious to take power in Libya than ensuring that civilians are protected as they wage war on Gaddafi’s forces. It must be said that before these reports of summary executions came to light, the TRC had been instrumental in coordinating a well organised offensive by the rebels, but things seems to have got out of control when the excitement of securing Tripoli and driving out soldiers loyal to the regime turned to celebrations that may have invoked vengeance.

Read More Comments Off

Pre-War Propaganda?: Syria ‘on radar’ as WMD source

U.S. and Israeli officials say there is fear a government breakup in Syria could lead to rogue groups armed with a variety of chemical weapons.

“We are very concerned about the status of Syria’s weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons,” Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren recently told The Wall Street Journal.

“Together with the U.S. administration, we are watching this situation very carefully,” he said.

With civil unrest turning into a prolonged conflict for regime change in Libya — an event following former President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall in Egypt — there is concern that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could also be toppled with a populist revolt.

Read More Comments Off

In Russia’s Shadow, Abkhazia Elects President

Aleksandr Z. Ankvab has been elected president of Abkhazia, a rebel enclave of Georgia still struggling for legitimacy three years after Russia unilaterally declared it a sovereign nation.

Abkhazia’s Central Elections Commission announced on Saturday that Mr. Ankvab, the former vice president, won with nearly 55 percent of the vote, besting two opponents.

The election, which was held on Friday, was fairly unusual for regions of the former Soviet Union in that the outcome was not known beforehand, and it appeared to adhere to democratic principles.

But observers said the results would do little to alter politics in Abkhazia, a slice of subtropical land on the Black Sea that is dependent on Russia for its survival.

Read More Comments Off

Thinktanks are in crisis. To survive, they must become ‘do tanks’

Thinktanks have been part of the British political landscape for some time. Mostly, they do good work, making a considerable impact nationally and in more localised ways. For example, work on supporting the working poor by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), for example, led directly to the development of child tax credits by the last Labour government, while the findings of the Hansard Society’s Puttnam commission have led to significant increases in funding and support for outreach and educational services, making parliament more accessible, particularly to young people.

Recently, though, all has not been well in the world of thinktanks. Funding at the moment is fickle; thinktanks are reliant on benefactors, small donations, membership and paid-for work, usually from the public sector or trusts. Unlike the wealthy American policy institutes, British thinktanks rarely have wealthy endowments. And where they do, must be careful not to confuse fancy offices in SW1 with quality of research.

Read More Comments Off

BIS Warns Bernanke On Fed’s Easy-Money Policies

A top economist at the Bank for International Settlements, the central bank of central banks, made a veiled criticism on Friday of Ben Bernanke‘s easy-money policies by siding with one of the Federal Reserve chairman’s chief internal critics.

Stephen G. Cecchetti, chief economist at the BIS, praised Kansas City Fed PresidentThomas Hoenig for persistently speaking his mind in warning Bernanke about the dangers of keeping interest rates near zero for so long. When he had a vote on the Fed’s policy-setting body in 2010, Hoenig always voted against keeping credit so easy.

Read More Comments Off

‘New Gandhi’ used fear and violence to build model village

INDIA’S ‘new Gandhi’, the anti-corruption leader whose hunger strike has provoked nationwide protests, led a campaign of fear and intimidation to create his acclaimed model village, his followers said yesterday.

Anna Hazare’s campaign for an anti-corruption watchdog has paralysed the Congress-led government and inspired millions to protest against widespread fraud and bribery.

Now in the 10th day of his fast, Mr Hazare has lost about 15lb and his health is deteriorating. The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, paid tribute to him yesterday and called for parliament to debate the reform proposals today.

But while Mr Hazare is widely admired for his campaign, there are growing concerns over his authoritarian style and use of violence to effect change.

Read More Comments Off

Will China Be Rome or Greece?

The latest report offers the balanced assessment that China will need several decades to develop the capacity to project and sustain large high-intensity military operations far from Chinese territory, but it still expects the Chinese armed forces to acquire considerable regionally focused capabilities by 2020. It also estimates that China spent more than $160 billion for its military in 2010, well above China’s official figure, which sounds about right since the Chinese government excludes several categories from the official defence budget.

True to form, on Friday, China’s Defence Ministry, in the first official Chinese response to the report, accused the United States of exaggerating China’s military power. In its faxed comments to Reuters, the Ministry said that: ‘It is very normal for the Chinese military to develop and upgrade some weapons and armaments.’ Chinese officials have repeatedly denounced the annual reporting process as inherently divisive and hypocritical in light of the enormous US defence budget, which is several times greater than even the highest estimate of Chinese military spending.

Read More Comments Off

China deploys advanced n-missile on Indian border: US

China has deployed more advanced and survivable solid-fuel nuclear capable CSS-5 MRBM missiles against India as a ‘deterrent posture’, Pentagon has said warning that a high degree of mistrust continues to strain their bilateral ties.

The PLA has replaced liquid-fuelled, nuclear-capable CSS-2 IRBMs with more advanced and survivable solid-fuelled CSS-5 MRBM systems to strengthen its deterrent posture relative to India, the Pentagon has said in its annual report on Chinese military build up to the Congress.

The report also says that Beijing is pumping in huge investments on border infrastructure developments laying more roads and rail network along the Sino-Indian border.

Read More Comments Off

Secrecy, leaks, and the real criminals

Ali Soufan is a long-time FBI agent and interrogator who was at the center of the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism activities from 1997 through 2005, and became an outspoken critic of the government’s torture program. He has written a book exposing the abuses of the CIA’s interrogation program as well as pervasive ineptitude and corruption in the War on Terror. He is, however, encountering a significant problem: the CIA is barring the publication of vast amounts of information in his book including, as Scott Shane details in The New York Times today, many facts that are not remotely secret and others that have been publicly available for years, including ones featured in the 9/11 Report and even in Soufan’s own public Congressional testimony.

Shane notes that the government’s censorship effort “amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath…

Read More Comments Off

Looting, unrest as Chileans strike against Pinera

Protesters scuffled with police in the Chilean capital on Thursday, the second of a two-day strike against unpopular President Sebastian Pinera marked by sporadic looting, though the linchpin mining sector was not affected.

Youths set fire to piles of trash at some intersections in Santiago and other cities to block traffic, and police used water cannon and tear gas to defuse the latest rash of social unrest against conservative billionaire Pinera’s policies.

The government said hundreds of people had been detained since Wednesday and several police officers were badly injured — two of them shot — as violence flared overnight, when dozens of shops, supermarkets and gas station kiosks were looted and buses damaged.

Read More Comments Off

South Korean Intelligence Services Resorts To Repression

In censoring and controlling the flow of information reaching its citizens, the democratic South is mirroring — albeit to a lesser degree — the notoriously closed North.

The relationship between the North and South has worsened since North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan and its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year — and, more recently, another live-fire incident in the Yellow Sea and reports that a North Korean assassination team was targeting the South’s defense minister. As tensions rise, Lee Myung-bak’s conservative government in Seoul is wielding the National Security Law to cut off even ostensibly innocuous attempts at engagement and understanding.

Before South Korea achieved its inchoate democracy in the early 1990s, the National Security Law was used by successive military governments to detain, torture, and sometimes kill student dissidents and others thought to have pro-North Korean sympathies. The law can be radical, broad, and arbitrary in its application.

Read More Comments Off

UK spy files reveal details of 1950s Guyana coup

Secret documents declassified Friday by Britain’s MI5 security service reveal in dramatic and everyday detail how the U.K. under Prime Minister Winston Churchill overthrew the elected government of British Guiana — now Guyana — because he feared its left-wing leader and his American wife were leading the British colony into the arms of the Soviet Union.

The documents reveal how British spies kept up intense scrutiny on Cheddi and Janet Jagan, who founded the People’s Progressive Party to campaign for workers’ rights and independence from British rule for the sugar-producing colony in northern South America.

Christopher Andrew, the spy agency’s official historian, said the files provide new details of the coup, and “further evidence that MI5 played a more important part in British decolonization than is often realized.”

Read More Comments Off

Pak Frontier Corps chief in Balochistan rejects HRW’s damning report as “one-sided”

The 132-page HRW report, “‘We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan,” documents dozens of enforced disappearances in Balochistan, in which the authorities take people into custody and then deny all responsibility or knowledge of their fate or whereabouts.

The HRW said it investigated several cases in which uniformed personnel of the Frontier Corps, an Interior Ministry paramilitary force, and the police were involved in abducting Baloch nationalists and suspected militants.

In others cases, witnesses typically referred to abductors as being from “the agencies,” a term commonly used to describe the intelligence agencies, including the military Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intellilgence, and the civilian Intelligence Bureau.

Read More Comments Off

Evidence of ‘Mass Execution’ in Tripoli

Visiting a hospital in Tripoli on Thursday, Al Jazeera’s James Bays said he saw the bodies of 15 men suspected to have been killed a few days earlier as the rebels closed in on the Libyan capital.

“The smell here is overpowering,” Bays said from the hospital where a number of bodies lay.

“I have counted the bodies of 15 men we were told there were 17 here. Two bodies were taken away by relatives for burial.”

“We are told these men were political activists who have been arrested over the last few days and weeks and being held near the Gaddafi compound. When the opposition fighters started to enter the compound we are told they were killed.

Read More Comments Off

China squeeze drives boom in ‘black’ banks

More than 7,300 companies in Zhejiang were forced to close from January to April this year due to Beijing’s monetary tightening measures, according to People’s Daily newspaper.

Zhejiang has about 2.4 million non-state companies with an output valued at more than 1.5 million yuan, and abounds with underground banks for cash-strapped small businesses. About 600 billion yuan flows through the province’s underground banking system a year, state media report.

Dodgy lenders are particularly active in Wenzhou, a Zhejiang town that has boomed over the past three decades by producing a wide range of consumer goods – from shoes, cigarette lighters to spectacles – whose low cost has helped to make China the world’s workshop.

Of the Wenzhou’s 360,000 SMEs, 30% have cut back operations or closed their doors so far this year, said Cai. State media have carried reports of some SMEs borrowing from underground lenders at annualized rates of up to 120%.

Read More Comments Off

India & Pak intensify water war

India and Pakistan have upped the ante on the issue of constructing another hydro-electric station over the Chenab River at Rattle on the Doda-Kishtwar Highway in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

According to a newspaper report in Lahore, mechanical and civil works are to be allotted in November this year, and the construction work on the Rattle project is to be completed by 2017.

Under the Indus Water Treaty, 1960, Pakistan has the exclusive rights over waters of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

Read More Comments Off

PR Firms Get Back In The Behaviour Modification Business

PR. Two letters that can spark a volatile emotional reaction in many people. And judging from a recent article in the Guardian detailing its psychologically manipulative roots in Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, they can’t be blamed. Bernays first used public relations during World War I to sell the idea that the purpose of the war was ‘bringing democracy to all of Europe.’ The campaign was tremendously effective, which made Bernays realize that public opinion could be shifted by appealing to the unconscious. PR and other practices spearheaded by Bernays can be credited for creating the modern day consumer, one that is based not on practical needs but emotional gratification.

As Bernays put it, “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it?”

Read More Comments Off

Destabilization & War Games: Spy Agency Wants To Predict Future Uprisings

The DNI’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity office is soliciting research proposals for sophisticated software and other tools that can sort through “noisy data” to pull out meaningful patterns, according to an >agency solicitation posted Wednesday.

The agency is interested in developing “methods that leverage population behavior change in anticipation of, and in response to, events of interest [and] processing of publicly available data that reflect those population behavior changes,” the solicitation said.

The U.S. intelligence community has used publicly available or “open source” data since its inception as a supplement to satellite and signals intelligence and on-the-ground spying. It’s less common, though, for the intelligence community to look at spikes and valleys in data rather than the data itself, essentially focusing on “volume rather than depth” as Wednesday’s solicitation says.

Read More Comments Off

Turkey prepares for ground assault on Kurdish rebels in Iraq

Recent days have seen an escalation in the conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebel group the PKK, with Turkish forces bombarding rebel positions in neighboring northern Iraq.

The airstrikes, which the government claimed killed some 100 rebels and the PKK said killed only three, followed the killing of nearly 40 Turkish solders by the PKK in recent weeks.

Those PKK attacks were carried out in retribution for earlier special forces operations which reportedly eliminated more than 20 rebels. Stoking Kurdish anger, soldiers were reportedly ordered to leave rebel corpses to decompose, prompting the PKK to vow revenge.

Read More Comments Off

With CIA help, NYPD moves covertly in Muslim areas

The department has dispatched teams of undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims.

Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.

A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency’s payroll, was the architect of the NYPD’s intelligence programs.

Read More Comments Off

School of the Americas Graduate Suspect in Murders of Jesuit priests in El Salvador

Federal officials charged today that the former Salvadoran government minister accused of colluding in the infamous killing of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador 20 years ago engaged in immigration fraud while living in Massachusetts.

Inocente Orlando Montano who has lived in Massachusetts for years under his own name — most recently in Everett — is among 20 former military officers charged in fresh indictments from Spain with conspiring to kill the priests, the Globe reported this month.

The international indictments issued in May seek justice for the clergymen, five of them Spaniards; their housekeeper; and her 16-year-old daughter, who were roused at night from their beds on the campus of Central American University in San Salvador and executed by an elite unit of the Salvadoran military.

Read More Comments Off

Thailand’s forced labour and human trafficking rising

Thailand faces a rise in human trafficking, a United Nations expert said, urging the country to fight the corruption blamed for the problem.

Joy Ezeilo, speaking in Bangkok at the end of a 12-day trip, said she found that “internal trafficking in children is rampant” and that migrant, stateless and refugee children are most vulnerable.

“Root causes of trafficking, particularly demands for cheap and exploitative labor provided by migrant workers, are not being effectively addressed,” she said.

Read More Comments Off

Karachi Strike Mitigates Ethnic Murder

The London riots were bad, but not in comparison to what has been happening in Karachi. Today Karachi, Pakistan’s financial and trade center, home to 18 million people, was silenced by a day of mourning called by the city’s main political party, the Urdu speaking Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

The day of mourning was in protest for the killing of over 100 people during this week and at least 500 people in the first half of the year by gangs linked to the main political parties, the MQM and the Pashtun Awami National Party.

Karachi, formerly the capital of Pakistan until the move to Islamabad, attained its population and sprawl as a result of successive waves of refugees who came following the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947, the secession of Bangladesh in 1971 and the Russian invasion of Pakistan.

Read More Comments Off

Sinai crisis could spark Egypt-Israel war

Under the 1979 treaty, Egypt demilitarized Sinai. But the military-led interim regime in Cairo, like most Egyptians, objects to the treaty.

If it deploys large numbers of troops into Sinai, sovereign Egyptian territory, without Israel’s approval, there will be trouble and that could seriously damage what little is left of the Mideast peace process.

But, analyst Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said, “Pre-emptive Israeli operations across the border would certainly trigger a major crisis.”

After the treaty, Israel substantially downsized its military forces because it no longer needed to protect its 170-mile Sinai border with Egypt.

Read More Comments Off

Pak Army has frequently intruded in Kashmir, often with perilous results: Analyst

The Pakistan Army has frequently intervened- both covertly and openly- in Kashmir, often with dangerous results, an analyst has said.

The problem started right after independence in August 1947, when the then Jammu and Kashmir’s ruler Maharaja Hari Singh “decided to join India after failing to maintain independence. Pakistan’s nascent political leadership then decided to reverse the decision by force,” Hamid Hussain, an independent analyst based in New York, wrote in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera.

He said the major flaw was completely ignoring the native Kashmiris- a mistake that the Pakistani army has repeated again and again over the past 60 years.

Read More Comments Off

Achtung Baby: German Women Seek Pure Blood Aryan Men In India

Nobody knows of their real origin or if they are indeed Aryans. But, regarded as long-lost members of a purebred ‘Master Race’ settled in the Himalayas, Brokpas attract curious visitors, some of who try to satisfy their fantasy of having pure Aryan babies.

In 2007, filmmaker Sanjeev Sivan released his documentary Achtung Baby: In Search of Purity on the phenomenon of German women travelling to Indian villages by the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir to get impregnated by men they believe to be racially pure Aryans. These villages are inhabited by a tribe called Brokpas, who are rumoured to be the ‘last pure specimens’ of the Aryan race. Across the world, several people still regard Aryans as the ‘Master Race’—tall, blue-eyed blondes endowed with superior intelligence and values.

Read More Comments Off

Torture in Bahrain Aided by Nokia Siemens

In the hands of autocrats, the surveillance gear is providing unprecedented power to monitor and crush dissent — a phenomenon that Ben Wagner of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, calls “push-button autocracy.”

The technology has become pervasive. By the end of 2007, the Nokia Siemens Intelligence Solutions unit had more than 90 systems installed in 60 countries, according to company brochures.

Besides Bahrain, several other Middle Eastern nations that cracked down on uprisings this year — including Egypt, Syria and Yemen — also purchased monitoring centers from the chain of businesses now known as Trovicor.

Read More Comments Off

EU oil companies get set to return to Libya

“I won’t be revealing any secrets if I say that Eni technicians have already been called to Benghazi to reactivate plants … The facilities were made by Italians and therefore it is clear that Eni will play a No. 1 role in the future,” he told Rai TV.

Eni spokesman Cesaro Fabio declined to comment on the Benghazi trip. He told EUobserver that Eni’s oil and gas licences in the country are valid until between 2042 and 2047, however. The firm’s pre-war oil output in Libya was 270,000 barrels a day. It also operated the 10-billion-cubic-metre-a-year Greenstream gas pipeline.

Read More Comments Off

Sri Lanka deploys military to quell unrest over strange urban legend

Sri Lanka yesterday deployed soldiers to quell unrest sparked by a fear of nighttime prowlers known as “Grease Devils,” after at least five died over the past two weeks in a wave of vigilantism and clashes with police across the island nation.

Sri Lanka’s army also set up a new brigade in Kinniya near the eastern port of Trincomalee, where thousands of angry people last week besieged a government office after fighting with the navy in pursuit of suspected “grease devil”.

The increased deployment came a day after a mob killed a police officer in the northwestern town of Puttalam. Troops have remained out in force since Sri Lanka’s government won a 25-year civil war in May 2009 with the Tamil Tiger ethnic separatists.

Read More Comments Off

Trinidad declares state of emergency to fight crime

The government has clamped a limited form of emergency rule on Trinidad and Tobago in a bid to halt a surge in violent crime linked to the drug trade in the oil-rich Caribbean country.

“The nation will not be held to ransom by marauding groups of thugs bent on creating havoc on our society,” said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who announced a “limited” state of emergency on Sunday night.

Read More Comments Off

Future Shock: EU, A brave new superpower

Le Figaro’s fictional series “The world in 20 years” begins with the view from Europe. In 2031, the launch of a European flagship inaugurates an age of shared defence and marks the final move in a “great awakening” that began fifteen years before. The Union is a superpower at last.

By 2034 the Konrad-Adenauer would be fully operational, a marvel of hyperspeed technology bristling with strike forces, insertion vectors and an array of multipurpose drones. The christening of the EU Assault Group flagship also marked the end of Germany’s longstanding absence from the military arena. Its troops would face an uncertain mission. But the decline of NATO, the incurable instability of the Muslim arc and the presence of fresh threats from China and Russia had left the Federal Republic few options. There was no strategic alternative other than to join the common defence axis.

Read More Comments Off

Global Land Grab: Nervous Rulers And Hedge Fund Managers Alike Scramble For Land

Fortunately for nervous rulers, the strategy of growing food abroad as shelter against the fires of revolution dovetails nicely with the goals of private and public capital. Governments drawing on sovereign wealth funds, and rich investors accessing state subsidies, have negotiated deals to acquire tens of millions of acres of farmland in Africa, South America and South Asia. When they export the food to their home countries, the valuable water used to grow the crops will ride along as a free bonus.

The largest investors in foreign croplands hail from China, India and South Korea, along with Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states. What these countries have in common is that all were shaken financially or politically by the 2007-08 food crisis.

Read More Comments Off

Gaddafi under siege: Two CIA-backed groups, an al-Qaeda-linked LIFG on top of power stakes

With the imminent departure of Muammar Gaddafi from absolute power as the rebels are closing on Tripoli two CIA-backed Libyan groups and an al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a declared foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the US State Department since 2004, could emerge as real power in Libya when it is clear that the rebel military forces are a patchwork of armed groups, former soldiers and freelance militias including self-appointed neighborhood gangs.

The main rebel group, based in Benghazi in the country’s east, consists of former government ministers who have defected, and longstanding opposition figures, representing a range of political views including Arab nationalists, Islamists, secularists, socialists and businessmen.

Read More Comments Off

Phantom States and Rebels With a Cause

Phantom states stoke wars, foster crime, and make weak states even weaker. Nagorno-Karabakh is lauded by Armenia and loathed by Azerbaijan, leading all sides to stockpile arms in case of renewed violence. The unsettled status of Northern Cyprus weakens the economic prospects of all Cypriots and strains relations between the European Union and Turkey, Northern Cyprus’s chief supporter. And although Somaliland has been an island of effective governance in anarchic Somalia, its unrecognized status has discouraged aid and investment.

Phantom countries frequently emerge from wars, and are sustained by the threat of further fighting. In Gaza, Hamas has waged an off-and-on war with Israel even as it has cracked down on local crime and picked up the trash.

Read More Comments Off

Foreign students protest slave labor at Hershey’s

Students had to fork over upwards of $6,000 to the California-based Council for Educational Travel USA, or CETUSA, for participation in the program.

Though workers are making $8.35 an hour, housing and program fees are deducted directly from their paychecks. While they came to America seeking a land of opportunity, many are finding themselves in the hole now that their duration with the program has neared expiration. Once all fees are taken into account, students say they are left with less money than they had at the beginning, even after weeks of grueling labor.

Read More Comments Off

Militarisation of Latin America: The Islamo-Bolivarian threat

Roger Noriega, one of various Iran-Contra relics recycled into subsequent US administrations, served under the Bush II regime as US ambassador to the OAS and then as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. The Iran-Contra portion of his curriculum vitae suggests that he has already had considerable experience with a different sort of caudillo-mullah axis, according to which profits from arms sales to the axis’ latter half went to benefit supporters of right-wing dictatorships in Nicaragua.

Read More Comments Off

US cap-and-trade scheme set for key battle

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a programme covering 10 states from Maine to Maryland, set out a timetable last week for a review that could lead to tighter limits on emissions being agreed next year.

Opponents are seeking to persuade more member states to follow New Jersey out of the scheme. On Friday, Chris Christie, New Jersey’s Rep­ublican governor, vetoed an attempt by the state’s legislature to keep it in.

Read More Comments Off

Spain: Brutal Police Repression Against Journalists Covering “Secular March”

The Spanish Interior Ministry opened an investigation into the violent repression by the national police of two lay demonstrations against public funding for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.

The Madrid-based newspaper Publico confirmed on Saturday that the Interior Ministry ordered the opening of an investigation specifically into a video that shows several policemen beating a photographer.

Read More Comments Off

Cash strapped Aussie families return to Waltons-era lifestyle

A growing number of Australian households have three and even four generations under the same roof due to financial pressures, natural disasters, aged-care limitations, offspring staying at home longer and high childcare costs.

According to futurist Mark McCrindle, by 2020 we will flashback a century and there will be a return to the multi-generational household like the Waltons family, made famous in the smash hit television series of the ’70s and ’80s.

Read More Comments Off

Colombia’s Operation Stairway and the secret agent who carried it out

Her operation, carried out from 2007 to 2009, was not only illegal but, according to Colombia’s attorney general’s office, designed to find incriminating evidence on judges and debilitate their investigation of the president’s congressional allies. The ensuing scandal has led to criminal investigations against Uribe’s top advisers and ensnared the former president himself, who served from 2002 to 2010.

A close U.S. ally in the war against drug trafficking, Uribe’s conduct is now under investigation by a special congressional commission. He denies giving orders to infiltrate the court.

Read More Comments Off

ParaMil-Business Gone Bananas: Chiquita Brands in Colombia

In March 2007 in a U.S. District Court, Chiquita Brands International pled guilty to one count of “Engaging in Transactions with a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist.”[i] The banana giant confessed to paying the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the nation’s notoriously violent network of right-wing paramilitary groups, USD 1.7 million in over one hundred payments between 1997 and 2004.[ii] Yet the case was resolved by a cash settlement, thus failing to publicly expose both sides of their quid pro quo relationship. A 2011 declassification of Chiquita documents, confessions by former paramilitaries, and ongoing lawsuits lay bare the U.S. corporation’s ruthless profiteering and invite cautious hope of justice for the victims.

Read More Comments Off

U.S. Military: Invest in Special Ops, Not in Drones

As intelligence and defense departments enter a new era with reduced spending, special operations forces provide some stability to the security of the U.S. Special ops forces are a key component of the war in Afghanistan and have a high rate of military success, so even in an economic recession, people remain the greatest asset to the military.

These forces operate a network of secret prisons across the world and engage in: counter-terrorist activities; assassinations; long-range reconnaissance; intelligence analysis; foreign troop training; and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

Read More Comments Off

Synthetic Life Could Help Colonize Mars, Biologist Says

Synthetic organisms engineered to use carbon dioxide as a raw material could help humans settle Mars one day, a prominent biologist says.

Man-made, CO2-munching lifeforms are already in the works, geneticist Craig Venter told a crowd here during an event called TEDxNASA@SiliconValley Wednesday night (Aug. 17). Venter and his team, who made headlines last year by creating the world’s first synthetic organism, are trying to design cells that can use atmospheric carbon dioxide to make food, fuel, plastics and other products.

Read More Comments Off

World Bank Calls On Ghana To Check Population Growth

Mr Javed Talat, Executive Director of the World Bank on Monday called on the Ghana Government to fashion out mechanisms that would help check the ever-growing population to solve development challenges.

He said Technology was fast moving towards reductions in job creation such that unchecked population growth could become disastrous to developing countries in terms of high rates of unemployment.

Read More Comments Off

Meet Verizon’s Newest Security Force: Blackwater

Wait. What? Blackwater? That private, for-profit, trigger-happy army that killed 17 civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007? Yeah. THAT BLACKWATER.

I have just confirmed with Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1104 that Blackwater is indeed being contracted by Verizon for security purposes. At this moment, CWA Local 1104 was not able to say how many security contractors have been hired or where they will be working. I’m sure more information will follow.

Read More Comments Off

US to build shadow web

When a wave of revolution crashed over the Middle East this spring, many said what ended in the streets began with 140 characters or less — through social media like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Hoping to harness the people power of online communication, the US State Department is providing $2 million in grants for the “Internet in a suitcase” to help dissidents circumvent repressive regimes’ Internet censorship with mobile Web technology.

The suitcase is part of the $70 million the US State Department will spend on Internet circumvention technology in 2011.

Read More Comments Off

Iran’s covert war with Israel in Caspian

A senior Iranian general has warned zerbaijan about getting too close to Israel, underlining fears in Tehran that the Jewish state could use Iran’s northern neighbor to launch pre-emptive strikes against Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel has been quietly building intelligence and military links with oil rich Azerbaijan, a largely secular Muslim state, since the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago.

The Israelis sell significant amounts of weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles to the government in Baku, on the Caspian Sea, as its intelligence services dig in along the border with Iran.

Read More Comments Off

Massive spying operation uncovered in Dominica

Dominicans are reeling from news that the government of Dominica through the National Joint Intelligence Committee (NJIC) has been discretely spying on the activities and actions of several Dominicans over the last few months.

The NJIC is a secret outfit allegedly set up by the authorities, and comprising of security officers of the Dominica Police Force. It is said to be headquartered at the sixth floor of the Financial Services Building in Roseau.

News of the spying came after Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan inadvertently released a report he received from the NIJC concerning the meetings held by opposition groups at the beginning of the year.

Read More Comments Off

Silicon Valley billionaire funding creation of artificial libertarian islands

Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties.

Read More Comments Off

Massive Russia’s Arctic ‘Sea Grab’

In a multinational race to seize the potential riches of the formerly icebound Arctic, being laid bare by global warming, Russia is the early favorite.

Within the next year, the Kremlin is expected to make its claim to the United Nations in a bold move to annex about 380,000 square miles of the internationally owned Arctic to Russian control. At stake is an estimated one-quarter of all the world’s untapped hydrocarbon reserves, abundant fisheries, and a freshly opened route that will cut nearly a third off the shipping time from Asia to Europe.

Read More Comments Off

Russia shows off Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter

Russia has demonstrated its first stealth fighter, designed as a cheaper alternative to the US F-22 Raptor.

The Sukhoi T-50, jointly developed with India, flew publicly for the first time at the MAKS 2011 air show near Moscow.

The supersonic T-50 aims to match the latest US design, handling manoeuvres that are impossible to older aircraft.

Russia plans to make up to 1,000 of the jets over coming decades, with India expected to buy up to 200. However, full production is not due before 2015.

Read More Comments Off

Caught on camera: Cops fire at protesting farmers in Pune

Visuals of the police firing on Tuesday, that NDTV has accessed exclusively, are likely to fuel the furore further. These show a group of policemen in riot gear and armed with sticks, shields, helmets and service revolvers running down the Mumbai-Pune expressway where the farmers were protesting against the diversion of agricultural water away from their land.

Captured on camera is a scene where the locals are running from the police on an adjoining road. One policeman is seen firing shots at the locals as they flee. Then, a group of policemen gather around him, and throw stones at the fleeing crowd from the expressway.

Read More Comments Off

Protesting Farmers Sent to Reeducation Camp

Seven Uyghurs from China’s restive Xinjiang province who went missing after petitioning the central government last year over what they called unfair farm policies have been sent to reeducation camps, according to relatives of the men.

The seven were part of a larger group of 25 who had traveled to Beijing in November last year by train from Guma county in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’s Hoten prefecture.

Read More Comments Off

Iran sees ally Syria surrounded by U.S., Arab “wolves”

In a country that knows a thing or two about diplomatic isolation, Iran’s politicians and media describe the Damascus government as an outpost of resistance to Israel that has been set upon by Washington and its lackeys in the region.

While several Gulf Arab countries have withdrawn their ambassadors in protest at the violence, and countries once close to Damascus, Russia and Turkey, have turned harshly critical, Iran is the only big country still backing Syria, arguing anything else would spell disaster.

Read More Comments Off

Is gender selection of a fetus ethical?

In countries such as China and India, the cultural preference for boys is well-documented, and parents for years have been using ultrasound and amniocentesis — followed by abortion — to avoid giving birth to girls. In some parts of rural India, where basic health care is hardly available, local clinics have sophisticated ultrasound machines used privately — and illegally — for sex selection.

Such practices have already skewed sex ratios in these countries. In China in 2005, there were 32 million more men under 20 than women. This has cast a shadow over the young men’s prospects of marriage and raised concerns about social instability and expansion of the sex industry.

Read More Comments Off

Chinese Rating Agency Chief: It Is No Longer Safe To Invest In US

SPIEGEL: You recently said that it would be a “catastrophe” if an American rating agency downgraded the United States’ credit rating. Now that Standard and Poor’s has taken that step, is the situation as bad as you imagined?

Guan: This rating on the US credit crisis has a significant influence on the world. China is the largest debt holder of the United States, and the downgrade will primarily damage the value of the US dollar assets and bonds held by China. Second, it will influence China’s export of commodities to the United States in the future. More importantly, it will lead to the deterioration of global macroeconomics for both developed debtor economies and emerging creditors.

Read More Comments Off

The Consumption Economy Is Dying—Let it Die

With the stock market plunging, we’ve heard plenty of warnings that a “pullback” in consumer spending could trigger another recession. Let me suggest an alternative. The last thing this economy needs is more debt-fueled consumer spending which mainly creates jobs overseas. Instead, we should be focused on boosting investment in physical, human, and knowledge capital.

It’s true that consumer spending creates economic activity. But it’s not true that all that economic activity is in the United States.

Read More Comments Off

Dragon tries to slay US military

The high-voltage drama played in the United States over the indebtedness of the world’s biggest economy produced fission of a wholly different kind from its biggest creditor, as China expressed anxiety by treading on territory more strategically sensitive than routine calls for America to shoot down its ballooning deficit.

One of its commentaries accused the US of overspending on its military “to meddle everywhere in international affairs, advancing hegemonism, and paying no heed to whether the economy can support this”.

Read More Comments Off

Secret Indonesia files on Papua guerrilla ‘threat’

A confidential report on Papuan separatists prepared by Indonesia’s elite Kopassus military unit claimed armed groups stood ready for guerrilla war but had proof of just one weapon for every 10 men.

The report “Anatomy of Papuan Separatists” was published by Australia’s Fairfax newspapers Saturday, and claimed the people of the resource-rich eastern province were “easily influenced by separatist ideas”.

Read More Comments Off

Syria uprising may lead to regional war

In recent days, the Turkish army summoned hundreds of officers for reserve duty, placing them in bases near the border with Syria. Turkish sources report that the military has been on high alert along the border to prepare for a massive flight of Syrian refugees into the country, as well as for the possibility of NATO strikes in Syria. Only hours after Turkey’s foreign minister visited Damascus did the government understand that Prime Minister Erdrogan’s ultimatum to Assad fell on deaf ears, after news broke that the city of Homs was being battered by Syrian security forces.

Read More Comments Off

Soros suggests Greece, Portugal quit euro-zone

George Soros, the US speculator turned billionaire philanthropist, has suggested both Greece and Portugal quit the European Union and the euro-zone because of their massive debts.

“One has so mishandled the Greek problem that the best way forward at present might be an orderly exit” with Greece leaving both the EU and the euro common currency, he said in an interview published Sunday by the German magazine Spiegel.

He suggested the same might go for Portugal.

Read More Comments Off

Future Shock: Berlin gets ready to leave the euro

On the night of his re-election, Nicolas Sarkozy learns that Angela Merkel is about to be overthrown by a faction in her party that wants to leave the euro. A short time later, Germany’s constitutional court invalidates the euro stability mechanism. In this political fiction, Le Monde examines a possible scenario — which may be more likely than it seems — for the end of the single currency. Excerpts.

Read More Comments Off

China sends anti-terrorism unit to restive west

BEIJING — China has sent its elite Snow Leopard anti-terrorism unit to its far western frontier where ethnic violence has flared, hoping to boost security before the area stages an international trade convention in weeks, a state newspaper reported Saturday.

At least 20 people died in two attacks last month in the southern Xinjiang region, where security had already been tight since 2009 fighting between majority Han Chinese and minority ethnic Uighurs (pronounced WEE’-gurs), who are Muslim and share other cultural links with groups in Central Asia.

Read More Comments Off

The Pentagon’s new China war plan

According to the defense trade press, Pentagon officials are seeking ways to adapt a concept known as AirSea Battle specifically for China, debunking rote claims from Washington that it has no plans to thwart its emerging Asian rival. A recent article in Inside the Pentagon reported that a small group of U.S. Navy officers known as the China Integration Team “is hard at work applying the lessons of [AirSea Battle] to a potential conflict with China.”

AirSea Battle, developed in the early 1990s and most recently codified in a 2009 Navy-Air Force classified memo, is a vehicle for conforming U.S. military power to address asymmetrical threats in the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf — code for China and Iran. (This alone raises a crucial point: If the U.S. has had nothing but trouble with asymmetrical warfare for the last 45 years, why should a war with China, or Iran for that matter, be any different?)

Read More Comments Off

UK Chancellor, Italy Economy Minister Propose “Outright Fiscal Union” and Common Bonds

Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti stepped up calls for a more coordinated response to the euro zone debt crisis on Saturday ahead of a potentially vital summit between the leaders of France and Germany next week.

Tremonti returned to proposals — rejected in the past by Berlin and Paris — for the creation of common euro zone bonds that would effectively make individual governments debt a common burden.

His British counterpart George Osborne, long a supporter from outside the euro zone of more fiscal integration within the currency bloc, went as far as to say that some form of outright fiscal union was now needed.

Read More Comments Off

Iran to be engulfed by mass protests – MP

How can you assess the situation in Iran in general terms?

This is a state built on totalitarian, clerical and ideological foundations. The socioeconomic problems in the country become more acute day by day due to country’s isolation. In addition, lack of human and political rights exacerbates tension within the country.

The suppression of nations and ethnic groups that have lived in Iran for centuries paves a way for social and political explosion in the country. Millions of Azerbaijanis living in Iran are denied even the minor rights. They are deprived of education in mother tongue. This discrimination holds true in both television and media.

Read More Comments Off

Former CIA chief questions the intelligence of the smart grid

Advocates of the smart grid, which will add digital sensors, wireless communications, and other intelligence technologies to the nation’s century-old electrical grid, say these upgrades will make the grid more secure against human attacks, like those perpetrated by terrorists and hackers. But former CIA Director James Woolsey offered a different view during a recent interview on energyNOW!

“There’s no one in charge of security for the grid,” Woolsey told host Thalia Assuras. “They’re constructing a smart grid that will make it easier for you or me to call our homes on our cell phones and turn down our air conditioner on a hot afternoon. But that may well mean that a hacker in Shanghai can do the same thing with his cell phone, or worse. The so-called smart grid that’s as vulnerable as what we’ve got is not smart at all. It’s a really, really stupid grid.”

Read More Comments Off

Global Reserve Talks: What Can Replace the Dollar?

For more than a half-century, the US dollar has been not only America’s currency, but the world’s as well. It has been the dominant unit used in cross-border transactions and the principal asset held as reserves by central banks and governments.

But, already before the recent debt-ceiling imbroglio, the dollar had begun to lose its luster. Its share in the identified foreign-exchange reserves of central banks, for example, had fallen to just over 60%, from 70% a decade ago.

Read More Comments Off

The Gorbachev Papers: Secret Papers Reveal Truth Behind Soviet Collapse

Communist hardliners staged a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev 20 years ago, and the Soviet Union collapsed soon afterwards. Previously unknown documents, which SPIEGEL has obtained, show just how desperate the last Soviet leader was as he fought to retain power — and how he begged Germany for money to save his country.

There is one moment — a single decision — that some people still hold against Mikhail Gorbachev today, 20 years later.

Read More Comments Off

Partnered again–Russia and NORAD conduct Exercise Vigilant Eagle 2011

Within minutes after takeoff, the first fighter aircraft are visible off the left wing and Exercise Vigilant Eagle 2011 is well underway.

The Russian Federation Air Force and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducted their second Vigilant Eagle cooperative exercise Aug 5-9, further strengthening the communication channels between Russia and NORAD in the event of a hijacked aircraft transiting across the Bering Sea.

Read More Comments Off

The U.S. Military’s Plan for London-Like Riots

According to National Journal’s White House correspondent Marc Ambinder the U.S. already has a game plan in place. “If what happened in London ever happened in the US, the military has plans — CONPLAN 3501 and 3502 — to suppress the ‘insurrection,’ he tweeted. The mysterious reference to a numbered military plan generated a flurry of interest on Twitter as NPR host Michele Norris shot back:”I want to know more about the military’s plan to suppress any potential ‘insurrection.’– CONPLAN 3501 and 3502????”

Read More Comments Off

India’s new spy agency spooked by ‘internal spies’

Alarm bells are ringing for India’s youngest spy agency — the National Technical Research Organsation (NTRO) — as many vital “targets” in Pakistan and China under its electronic surveillance have started “disappearing” from its radar.

Thanks to the so-called “whistleblowers” from within the NTRO, and some former officers using the “right to information” weapon, the agency has suffered major setbacks recently.

In the aftermath of the Kargil war, the NTRO was established in 2004 as the top technical intelligence-gathering agency. It is on the pattern of America’s super espionage agency — the National Security Agency.

Read More Comments Off

With U.S. Support, Private Security Company Trains African Troops in Somalia

Richard Rouget, a gun for hire over two decades of bloody African conflict, is the unlikely face of the American campaign against militants in Somalia.

A husky former French Army officer, Mr. Rouget, 51, commanded a group of foreign fighters during Ivory Coast’s civil war in 2003, was convicted by a South African court of selling his military services and did a stint in the presidential guard of the Comoros Islands, an archipelago plagued by political tumult and coup attempts.

Read More Comments Off

Portugal loves its new IMF rulers

The Finance Ministry in Athens reported last month that the budget deficit there had widened by almost a third in the first six months of this year — blowing its targets — as a deep recession exacerbated by budget cuts dampens government revenue.

“What we learnt from Greece is that it’s all about implementation,” said Carlos Moedas, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker named by the Portuguese prime minister to oversee the budget agreement with its foreign creditors. “The kind of implementation monitoring that we are putting in place is completely new in Portugal and I believe even ahead of what was done in past I.M.F. programs.”

Read More Comments Off

TRANSITIONS ONLINE: Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia: A Family Reunited?

In principle, all post-Soviet countries share similar authoritarian tendencies. The only ones that stand out in any way are, on the one hand, the Baltic states, with their more European mentalities and, on the other hand, Islamic states. In these latter countries, the regimes are as authoritarian as Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus, but the character of the political process is made more complex by the conflict of secular authoritarianism with Islam. This makes Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan subject to a different analysis, outside the scope of this article.

In the Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus of the early 1990s, there was a very strong demand for an effective economic system that was able to rescue people from the kind of shortages that had blighted the Soviet Union. That very system appeared just about everywhere in the post-Soviet world; and despite its many shortcomings, the model has been accepted by the population.

Read More Comments Off

Strike on Syria is technically feasible, former French general says

A Nato strike to disable the Syrian army is technically feasible according to experts, such as former French air chief Jean Rannou. But it could make the country’s internal situation worse.

Nato member countries would begin by using satellite technology to spot Syrian air defences. A few days later, warplanes, in larger numbers than Libya, would take off from the UK base in Cyprus and spend some 48 hours destroying Syrian surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and jets. Alliance aircraft would then start an open-ended bombardment of Syrian tanks and ground troops.

The scenario is based on analysts in the French military, from the specialist British publication Jane’s Defence Weekly and from Israel’s Channel 10 TV station.

Read More Comments Off

Another Year Passes Without A New Russia-Georgia War, But Nothing Can Be Ruled Out

The most important event marking the third anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war was the interview Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave on August 4 to three media outlets: the Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, the TV company Russia Today, and Georgia’s First Caucasian (PIK) TV channel.

The Russian president’s missive was taken unequivocally in Tbilisi as meaning that the cold war between the two countries is not over and there is no sign that it will end soon. And when there is no hope for an end to a cold war, the main question is whether it could develop into a hot one.

Read More Comments Off

Karzai decrees Afghan courts cannot overturn election results

Afghanistan’s president issued a decree Wednesday stating that the country’s courts do not have the power to alter election results, a move appeared aimed at ending months of uncertainty over the parliament’s legitimacy.

The Afghan parliament has been in limbo after a special court in June called for the removal of 62 sitting lawmakers, saying they won their seats through fraud.

Read More Comments Off