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Archive | December, 2011

Why Putin failed and the Russian democrats may too: The Sources and Risks of Russia’s White Revolution

It is yet unclear what the exact outcome of the current upheaval in Moscow will eventually be. Nonetheless, speaking of an – at least, attempted – Color Revolution is already justified. To be sure, neither will Russia’s possible White Revolution become a real revolution, nor were the other Color Revolutions fully fledged revolutionary upheavals. Yet, we have now, in Russia, the typical pattern of mass protests after a falsified election that partly delegitimizes the incumbent leadership – a sequence similar to, though not (yet) identical with, what we observed in Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004 and Kyrgysztan in 2005 – as well as, perhaps, the Arab world, more recently. Why is the Putin system which looked stable as recently as a year ago currently failing? And what are the risks for the re-emerging democratic movement in Russia?

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Cuba’s ‘NSA’ Suspected of Aiding North Korea

Intelligence sharing between Cuba and North Korea has likely spiked following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Unlike the broad intelligence sharing agreements Havana has with Moscow and Beijing, Cuba’s support to Pyongyang is narrowly focused on US Special Operations Forces (SOF), particularly those supporting Seoul. Washington and both Koreas have long viewed Special Operations as the force of choice in a shooting war, especially during the decisive early days of a conflict.

Cuba’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM) runs a signals intercept site at Bejucal, which has long served as the hub for targeting US SOF.

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Jordan Islamist demonstrators demand reform

Thousands of Islamist opposition supporters demonstrated Friday in Amman to demand reform, a week after the movement’s offices in a northern city were torched during clashes with loyalists.

Chanting “enough is enough,” around 7,000 people, including Islamists, youths and tribesmen, marched from Al-Husseini mosque in central Amman to the nearby city hall, an AFP correspondent said.

Carrying a large national flag, they called for “reforming the regime” and fighting corruption, rejecting “intimidation and bullying.”

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Iran to start missile tests in the Persian Gulf

Iran says it is planning to start missile tests in the Persian Gulf. The announcement is likely to aggravate the row between Iran and the United States over Iran’s threat to close a vital oil transport route.

Iran has said it is set to begin tests of long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf on Saturday.

“Shorter and longer-range, ground-to-sea, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles will be tested on Saturday,” navy deputy commander Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi told the semi-official Fars news agency.

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Kashmir Power Protests Hold Up 1000s At City Gates

Kashmir’s aggravated power crises blocked summer capital’s lifeline till midday on Thursday as residents bereft of light and heat faced police batons and noxious pepper blasts outside the region’s military headquarters.

At least six women were injured in the violent police charge on the demonstration at the gates of the army’s 15 Corps in Badami Bagh on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in yet another explosion of the Himalayan region’s chronic problem, generated politically and worsened by huge corruption and misuse.

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Influence And Guns For Hire: Engaging Non-State Armed Groups

Barrack Obama entered his term of the American presidency aiming to set a different tone for US foreign policy. One initiative which illustrates a change in attitude came in 2010 when the US State Department issued a Quadrennial Diplomatic and Development Review (QDDR). It was the first of its kind to be published, and emulated the long-standing Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

This first-ever QDDR, titled “Leading through Civilian Power,” set a course for US diplomacy of “engaging beyond the state.” Crisis and conflict resolution were to be regarded as a central national security objective, so the goal articulated in the QDDR was one of broadening US diplomatic efforts to include non-state actors.

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The Pentagon and its Sock Puppets

The inspector general’s investigation grappled with the question of whether the outreach constituted an earnest effort to inform the public or an improper campaign of news media manipulation. The inquiry confirmed that Mr. Rumsfeld’s staff frequently provided military analysts with talking points before their network appearances. In some cases, the report said, military analysts “requested talking points on specific topics or issues.” One military analyst described the talking points as “bullet points given for a political purpose.” Another military analyst, the report said, told investigators that the outreach program’s intent “was to move everyone’s mouth on TV as a sock puppet.”

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Pakistani death squads go after informants to U.S. drone program

The death squad shows up in uniform: black masks and tunics with the name of the group, Khorasan Mujahedin, scrawled across the back in Urdu.
Pulling up in caravans of Toyota Corolla hatchbacks, dozens of them seal off mud-hut villages near the Afghan border, and then scour markets and homes in search of tribesmen they suspect of helping to identify targets for the armed U.S. drones that routinely buzz overhead.

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Israel and South Sudan strengthen cooperation in oil and military

Southern Sudan and Israel strengthen cooperation. Salva Kiir, President of the newborn African state independent of Khartoum in July this year, made a lightning visit to the Middle East, accompanied by his ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs. Salva Kiir met in Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of diplomacy Lieberman, Defense Minister Barak and was also received by President Shimon Peres.

During the ‘meeting between Kiir and Netanyahu has talked of cooperation in the fields of technology, industry, water development and the search for a solution to the issue of immigrants coming to Israel from the African country.

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Analysis: Saber-rattling in Strait of Hormuz

It is just 34 miles (55 kilometers) wide and dotted with islands and rocky outcrops, a channel that links the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean. Like many marine “chokepoints,” the Strait of Hormuz has long commanded the attention of empires and their navies.

And in recent decades it has become even more critical: one-third of the oil carried by sea passes through Hormuz — that’s some 15 million barrels every day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Now Iran’s Vice-President is warning that the Islamic Republic could block the Strait if sanctions are imposed on its exports of crude. France, Britain and Germany have proposed such sanctions as punishment for Iran’s lack of co-operation on its nuclear program.

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Vladimir Putin Just Fired The Kremlin’s ‘Puppet Master’

Vladimir Putin has forced his enigmatic and powerful PR advisor Vladislav Surkov out from the Kremlin, according to Reuters.

This is a big deal for the embattled Russian government, and a huge admission of failure for Putin personally. As Reuters puts it “Surkov’s system was Putin’s system”.

You may remember Surkov was recently profiled in the London Review of Books by Peter Pomerantsev.

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Chinese Politburo’s Official Statement: The West tries out old tricks in Russia

The West assumes that the disintegration of the Soviet Union was the result of its victory in the Cold War. It hopes that with Western support, separatists and criminals will take the next step to cause the collapse of Russia. In their writings, American politicians such as political scientist and former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright have described scenarios of an expected collapse of Russia and even redrawn its national borders.

Putin, who posed the main geopolitical obstacle to the realization of such goals, outlined the strategy for Russia’s revival and consolidation of its status as an important independent country that would cooperate with other countries, including the US, on the principle of equal rights.

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Special Report: Energy giant hid behind shells in “land grab”

Late in the summer of 2010, hundreds of farmers in northern Michigan were fuming.

All had signed leases with local brokers permitting drillers to tap natural gas and oil beneath their land. All were demanding thousands of dollars in bonuses they had been promised in exchange. But none knew for certain whom to go after.

That’s because the company rejecting their leases hadn’t signed them to begin with. In fact, the company issuing the rejections wasn’t much of a business at all. It was a shell company – a paper-only firm with no real operations – called Northern Michigan Exploration LLC.

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Is Russia on the verge of an ‘Egypt scenario’?

Some 80,000 Russians took to the streets of Moscow on December 24, calling for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to step down and the December 4 parliamentary elections to be rerun fairly. There were a larger number of demonstrators than at a similar gathering on December 10 on Bolotnaya Square – but even more importantly, their demographic and political diversity indicated that the rally gathered support well beyond the ‘Facebook generation.’

The respected Levada Centre surveyed attendees and found that two-fifths were over 40 years old. The next-largest demographic was 23-39 year-olds (31.0%), followed by 18-24 year-olds (24.5%). Between two-thirds and four-fifths wanted Putin to leave office, the parliamentary elections to be cancelled, criminal charges to be brought against those who carried out election fraud and a new, liberal electoral law to be adopted.

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Algeria: Motives Behind Spy Agency Shake Up

Several Algerian news outlets reported the appointment of retired General Athman Tartag (alias Bashir) to head of the Department of Homeland Security (known by its French initials DSI), the most significant branch of Algeria’s powerful and notoriously secretive Intelligence Agency DRS. General Tartag replaced General “Ahmed” (his real name Abdelkader Kherfi) who was fired by DRS’ strong man Major General Mohamed Mediene (alias Toufik. While no reasons were given for this rare and unusually candid shake up, Algerian observers and Intelligence experts are speculating about the motivations and the timing of General Medienne decision to nominate the controversial General Tartag. A significant change at the DRS, the center of power in Algeria, will have ramifications around the region.

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Street roars in Russia: “The Gulag Archipelago” shaken

Vladimir Putin has come to exasperate the people at the end of asphyxia. He has hands on everything, even the Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, who he hopes to succeed in March, is in practice a puppet.

Russia saw a turning point in its history. For the first time, the power of the former member of the legendary and sinister KGB, Vladimir Putin, is also openly criticized.Not only the challenge and the wind of revolt that strikes the Arab world, seem inexorably reach this part of Eastern Europe which remained impervious to the ideals of freedom and democracy.

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‘China increasing presence in Pakistani Kashmir’

AMMU: Causing concern in the Indian Army, China has increased the presence of its military engineers in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a senior army officer said.

Although the exact number of Peoples Liberation Army men and engineers engaged in building infrastructure across the Line of Control is not known, their number has increased in recent months, the senior commander said.

The LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

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Afghanistan to Disband Irregular Police Force Set Up Under NATO

President Hamid Karzai has taken steps to disband a little-known, irregular police force financed by the American military with members in at least four northern provinces. Some members of the force are former militiamen and thugs known as much for extorting money from ordinary citizens as for intimidating insurgents and upholding the law.

The decision appeared aimed at stopping at least some of the militias that are beyond the control of Mr. Karzai’s administration and could one day challenge the government

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25,000 radioactive sites in Russia

There are as many as 25,000 hazardous underwater objects containing radioactive waste in Russia, emergency ministry officials said Monday.

The ministry compiled a list of sea hazards, including objects in the Baltic, Barents, White, Kara, and Black Seas as well as the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan, RIA Novosti reported.

The hazardous objects include sunken nuclear submarines and ships carrying aluminum and oil products, chemicals and radioactive waste.

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Coup attempt ‘fails’ in Guinea-Bissau

An army official in Guinea-Bissau has said there was a failed coup attempt, while the ill president of the West African country undergoes medical treatment abroad.

Fighting erupted between two factions of Guinea Bissau’s armed forces early on Monday, forcing the prime minister to seek refuge at a foreign embassy.

Residents said automatic weapons and rocket fire could be heard at the Santa Luzia army base in the capital Bissau but no casualties have been reported.

“Apparently, it is friction between the army chief and the head of the navy,” a Bissau-based diplomat said. “The prime minister has sought refuge in a foreign embassy.”

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Afghanistan, China to sign first oil contract

Afghanistan will sign a deal Wednesday allowing China’s state-owned National Petroleum Corporation to become the first foreign firm to produce oil in the country, the Ministry of Mines said.

The deal will allow the Chinese firm to work oil blocks in the northeastern provinces of Sari Pul and Faryab. The area, known as the Amu Darya River Basin, is believed to have reserves of about 87 million barrels of oil.

Minister Wahidullah Shahrani will sign the accord with the director of the Beijing-based company, ministry spokesman Jawad Umer said Tuesday. The contract calls for CNPC to form a joint venture with a local partner, the Watan Group.

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Former Northern China Surgeon Discloses Live Organ Harvesting in China

A Uighur refugee and former surgeon, Enver Tohti, spoke with NTD about how he harvested organs from Uighur prisoners who were still alive. Tohti is the first surgeon to admit to personally performing live organ harvesting—a practice that is believed to be used on prisoners of conscience in China.

At a recent rally in England, Tohti recounted what took place 16 years ago when he was asked to remove organs from an executed prisoner.

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Putin promises Russians psychotherapy, to build their ‘confidence’

The state should more extensively use modern means of communication with society. This was stated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the State Council, reports ITAR-TASS .
“The main goal – a national psychotherapy to inspire citizens confidence in the future” – curled Prime. Putin again compared himself to former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who during the Great Depression weekly appealed to citizens on the radio.

According to the head of government, the possibility of an American president were limited to radio, and now there is the television and the Internet.

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Potentially explosive movements on a volatile Asian chessboard

A new era of increasing instability is opening in East Asia.

The death of North Korean leader Kim Il-Jong is only adding another, if explosive, element to an already volatile equation:

China enters a period of substantially slower economic growth, if not a crash, on the eve next autumn of a takeover by a new generation of undistinguished Communist Party leaders.
Japan wrestles with efforts to remake its domestic politics, but buoyed by its always magnificent; if constipated; bureaucracy, pursues a security buildup despite, ironically, a left-leaning governing party precariously clinging to power.

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A Kremlin PR Strategist Tries to Defuse Discontent and Undermine the Protesters’ Leaders

The Kremlin’s chief political strategist sought to soothe the discontent of street protesters on Friday, a day before a rally expected to draw a large crowd, saying in an interview that the government had already acquiesced to many of the protesters’ demands.

“The system has already changed,” the strategist, Vladislav Y. Surkov, a former advertising man who has shaped the Kremlin’s public messages for years, said in the interview published in the newspaper Izvestia.

His comments continued what appears to be a two-pronged effort to defuse street protests with concessions, while simultaneously attacking the protesters’ already splintered leadership with accusations of foreign backing.

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Inside the first ever U.S.-Japan-India trilateral meeting

While Washington grappled with the consequences of Kim Jong Il’s death, the United States, Japan, and India held the first meeting of what is shaping up to be a robust trilateral dialogue — but all sides have been quick to say that it’s not aimed at isolating China.

The four-hour meeting was held at the State Department on Dec. 19, and the U.S. delegation was led by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Bob Blake.

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Tens of thousands demonstrate against Putin in Moscow as leader fears ‘revolution’

Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin warned on Saturday that Russia risked a new revolution if there was no dialogue between protestors and the Kremlin, in a speech to a mass opposition rally in Moscow.

“There needs to be a platform for dialogue, otherwise there will be a revolution and we lose the chance that we have today for a peaceful transformation” of Russia, Kudrin said in a speech that was nonetheless loudly whistled by protestors.

In addition to that, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday to heed protester demands and quit politics instead of seeking a third term as president next year.

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Syria fires new Russian missiles in exercise as ‘warning to Turkey and NATO’

The regime of President Bashar Assad has displayed its new
Russian-origin weapons during a military exercise.

Western diplomats said Assad’s military fired new missiles and other
weapons acquired from Moscow in late 2011 during an exercise that took place
on Dec. 20. They said the new weapons included the P-800 Yakhont cruise
missile, which arrived in November.

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Former Pakistan Army Chief Reveals Intelligence Bureau Harbored Bin Laden in Abbottabad

In spite of denials by the Pakistani military, evidence is emerging that elements within the Pakistani military harbored Osama bin Laden with the knowledge of former army chief General Pervez Musharraf and possibly current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Former Pakistani Army Chief General Ziauddin Butt (a.k.a. General ZiauddinKhawaja) revealed at a conference on Pakistani-U.S. relations in October 2011 that according to his knowledge the then former Director-General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan (2004 – 2008), Brigadier Ijaz Shah (Retd.), had kept Osama bin Laden in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad. In the same address, he revealed that the ISI had helped the CIA to track him down and kill on May 1.

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India’s New Fusion Centers: An overhaul for state’s intelligence system

According to the officers, S-MAC will be an intelligence ‘fusion’ centre for bringing together information from various agencies like Intelligence Bureau (India’s internal spy agency), the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the special branches of all the state police departments.

Intelligence wings of the enforcement agencies like Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Income Tax and the Customs will also coordinate with S-MAC units.

Officials said though the country had intelligence agencies at various levels, there was no coordination among the agencies at the ground level to work jointly on an intelligence input.

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Minerals: The Blood Diamond of Afghanistan

Last year in June, the United States discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond what was previously estimated. The mineral wealth of Afghanistan was no secret for Afghans. They knew Afghanistan was an intact mineral reservoir, and for centuries they used crude tactics to extract accessible resources. This recent discovery indicates that Afghanistan has a rich prospect ahead, and the country could be raised by its own bootstraps with the revenue from the mining industry. However, the real question is if the Afghan government is ready – and has the tools – to responsibly develop these deposits.

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Kazakhstan’s U.S. Ambassador Calls Video Of Police Shooting Protesters In The Back ‘Shocking’

Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the United States says an amateur video showing police in the western Kazakh town of Zhanaozen shooting at unarmed protesters as they flee is “shocking” and that the government is planning an investigation.

Erlan Idrissov made the comments on December 21 at a Washington press conference following several days of protests by striking and unemployed oil workers in the country’s oil-rich Caspian coastal region.

The video was apparently taken by a witness from her apartment window near the square where the incident happened. It was posted on YouTube on December 20.

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Soviet Collapse Altered Ongoing World Power Balance

“Normally, Russia is a spoiler in international relations. It wants a global role. It wants to sit astride the world stage and act as it used to be able to do. And it can still do that to a certain extent. But for the most part, it acts as a spoiler or a counterweight to the West, at best,” said Nixey.

The world has changed a lot since the fall of the Soviet Union. China has become a major world power. The European Union has expanded into the old Soviet sphere of influence, and may go farther into the former Soviet Union itself. Militant groups have sought new benefactors.

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US Cities Going Bankrupt In Economic Crisis

With less than a year to go until America elects its next president, the country has been warned of a looming new economic crisis.

Major cities across the United States are declaring themselves bankrupt in the face of huge debts and declining revenues.

Birmingham, in Alabama, and Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania, are the latest high-profile cities to file for bankruptcy. Analysts warn as many as 100 American cities are at risk.

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One Nation Under The Drone: The Rising Number Of UAVs In American Skies

“The FAA is working with urban police departments in major metropolitan areas and national public safety organizations on test programs involving unmanned aircraft,” the release says, also noting that members of law enforcement agencies participated in the committee that is drafting the new sUAS rule.

So far, there is a handful of law enforcement agencies that already have authorization to use drones, like sheriff’s departments in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland and Lane County, Oregon and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Police in Arlington, Texas have a drone theyacquired to help with security during the February, 2011 Superbowl.

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No control over army and ISI, admits Pakistan government

Pakistan’s defence ministry does not have operational control over the military and theInter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the ministry has admitted in the Supreme Court.

The Ministry of Defence Wednesday conceded that it has no operational control over the armed forces as well as the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), reported the daily Dawn.

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Family Intrigue Shadows North Korea’s Secretive Dynasty

According to Baek Seung-joo at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, a key indicator in the coming months will be whether Kim Jong-un will assume the top five titles his father held — general secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party, chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, presidium member of the Politburo, chairman of the National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the People’s Army. The son is now a four-star general and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

On Thursday, the North’s main party paper, Rodong Sinmun, said that the “great successor” Kim Jong-un would honor the “dying wishes” of his father by continuing his songun, or “military-first,” policy, which emphasizes building military might.

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Kazakh crackdown deepens

Yesenbek Ukteshbayev, a leader of the Zhanartu trade union, told the press conference of a doctor in a local hospital, who herself “closed the eyes of 23 [dead] people.”

Over 300 have been arrested, according to the trade unions. Some say they saw their friends taken away or killed, but their names are missing from official records of those dead and injured.

“Screams and groans are repeatedly heard from the local detention center,” Kurmanov said. “Yesterday they were seen taking out several rolled carpets from there. In the Muslim tradition, bodies are rolled in carpets.”

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Fallout is just beginning in North Korea

There are many surprising things about Kim Jong-il’s sudden death, not the least of which is that it took two days for the rest of the world to hear about it. Yet most surprising is the sanguine reaction of the global and especially the Asian markets. On Monday, or actually Sunday as we now know, the world woke up to its first leaderless nuclear power. Coming as close as anyone could to filling his seat was his youngest son, who is in his late twenties. There’s no way these facts were accurately priced into markets that took just a relatively minor dip as a first response. The news from North Korea appears to have been taken far too lightly, and just a few days out, it’s disappearing from the front pages.

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Central Asia Focus of Russia-China Rivalry

The years to come will see Central Asia at the centre of an economic competition as traditional ally Russia tries to regain ground from an increasingly powerful Chinese presence, a leading Italian expert on the region says.

IWPR asked Fabio Indeo, a research fellow at the University of Camerino who specialises in the geopolitics of Central Asia and the competition of external players for influence in the region, to comment on the growing role of China, and how Moscow is trying to counter it.

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DARPA’s new spy satellite could provide real-time video from anywhere on Earth

“It sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake” could be the theme song for a new spy satellite being developed by DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s latest proof-of-concept project is called the Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE), and would provide real-time images and video of any place on Earth at any time — a capability that, so far, only exists in the realm of movies and science fiction. The details of this huge eye-in-the-sky look like something right out of science fiction, as well, and it would be interesting to determine if it could have applications for astronomy as well.

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China believes that unrest in Kazakhstan supported by external forces

China condemns the riots and is ready to provide the necessary assistance to maintain stability in Kazakhstan, Kazakh edition of Liter published, referring to the Director of Eurasia, Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhuy says.

“We are monitoring the situation in Zhanaozen. We have heartache when such things happen in our neighbouring country. I want to assure you that we strongly support the efforts of the President and the Government of Kazakhstan to maintain peace and stability in their country.

We categorically oppose intervention in the internal affairs of Kazakhstan. China is ready to render any assistance: moral, material, if it is necessary,” the Chinese politician said.

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Planned US combat ship deployments aimed at China

The United States, facing a rising China but a tighter budget, expects to station several combat ships in Singapore and may step up deployments to the Philippines and Thailand, a naval officer said.

The United States has been increasingly vocal about defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where tensions over territorial disputes between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations have been on the rise.

In an academic article forecasting the shape of the US Navy in 2025, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, wrote that “we will station several of our newest littoral combat ships” in Singapore.

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South Korean activists launch propaganda balloons over northern border

The leaflets sent by a small group of activists gathered at the border are sure to infuriate the North, which views such actions as propaganda warfare. The leaflets contained messages opposing another hereditary power transfer in North Korea, as well as portraits of Kim Jong-il and heir Kim Jong-un. It wasn’t immediately known if they mentioned Kim Jong-il’s death.

North Korea has previously warned that it would fire at South Korea in response to such actions, and Wednesday’s balloon launch comes at an extremely sensitive time for North Korea.

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Falklands war may be over, but the diplomatic conflict rumbles on

The war may have been officially over for almost 30 years, but the diplomatic conflict over the Falkland Islands rumbles on. The decision by several South American nations to close their ports to ships flying the archipelago’s “illegal” flag is only the latest attempt by Argentina to get the disputed sovereignty back on the agenda.

Having affirmed its claim for the islands in its constitution in 1994 – just four years after the two countries resumed relations – Argentina treated Las Malvinas as a priority throughout the years that followed, with President Nestor Kirchner campaigning vigorously on the issue in 2003 and the United Kingdom remaining implacably indifferent.

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What’s Likely in New Pentagon Strategy: 2 Theaters, Fewer Bases, A2D2

The threat of a $500 billion defense sequestration looms as a result of the Super Committee failure – a prospect that Secretary Panetta has called “potentially ruinous.” Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon and some of his Senate colleagues have promised to introduce legislation to reverse the cuts.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is in the midst of a “comprehensive strategic review” designed to bring missions and resources into alignment with dramatically reduced budgets relative to what the military had expected to receive just two short years ago.

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Eurasian Spring: The Mink/Leopard Revolutions

At the 20-year mark of the Soviet Union’s collapse, protests have broken out now in two of its oil-soaked constituent states — Russia and neighboring Kazakhstan. In the latter, at least 15 oil workers and others died over the weekend. There is debate whether we are witnessing a spread of the Arab Spring, but I do not know why — clearly we are.

The key matter is context — Russians and Kazakhs are in the street of their own accord, but against the backdrop of wholly unpredicted upheaval in some of the world’s most compleat police states.

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Russian court shuts pro-Kremlin youth group

A court in the central Russian city of Voronezh has ordered the closure of the regional office of the pro-Kremlin youth group, Nashi.

The group, set up in 2005 to prevent a “color” revolution in Russia, had repeatedly violated a federal law controlling the activities of “public organizations.”

The ruling took effect on December 9, a statement on the website of Voronezh’s office of the Justice Ministry said.

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CSTO slams door on US bases in Central Asia

he Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) today announced that no-one will be able to establish military bases on the territory of a CSTO member state without the express agreement of all other member states.

In practice, this is a setback for the United States, who will find it next to impossible to establish a new base in Central Asia once the lease on the Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan expires in 2014, and a boost to Russia who, as a CSTO member state, has a veto on the construction of future bases.

The decision was taken at a meeting of all seven CSTO members – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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Boots On The Ground: U.S. Special Forces Join Hunt for Ugandan Rebels

US special forces have set up a base in the Central African Republic as part of their regional hunt for fighters from the Ugandan-born Lord’s Resistance Army group, military sources said Monday.

“The deployment of this contingent, the size of which is unknown, was carried out very discreetly with Ugandan military aircraft,” a Central African military official said on condition of anonymity.

The US elite troops set up a base in Obo and are expected to coordinate their efforts with local government forces and Ugandan soldiers.

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Kazakh police chief defends use of live rounds, Kazakh government shuts down Internet

Kazakhstan’s Interior Minister said Sunday that live firearms will continue to be deployed against violent protesters if necessary, in defiance of the international outcry that followed the more than a dozen deaths caused by clashes over recent days.

At least 15 people have been killed since the monthslong sit-in demonstration by oil workers in southwestern town of Zhanaozen descended into a violent confrontation Friday morning between police and protesters.

The unrest is causing palpable tension among authorities in the energy-rich Central Asian nation, whose economy relies heavily on the oil extracted from the region affected by the disturbances.

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Israel forms corps for strategic strikes

Amid deepening tension between Iran and its principal adversaries — the United States and Israel — the Jewish state has formed a Special Forces command to carry out strategic strikes deep inside hostile territory.

The formation of the new command indicates that Israel’s military envisages long-range, largely clandestine and multi-arm operations will have a much higher priority than the conventional operations that have been the main focus of military activity for decades.

Israeli defense officials say the elite new corps’ area of operations includes the “third circle,” a term that usually encompasses the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa.

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Bangladesh: Monitoring failure leads to secret killings

High-ups of the law-enforcing agencies have failed to monitor activities of their forces, some of them are allegedly being involved with major crimes like abduction, silent killing and collecting bribe money from people.(The New Nation )

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB),Detective Branch (DB) of police, and police forces have some political posting at the lower tier who are allegedly involved in these crimes, informed sources said.

The elite force – RAB – has be enformed with 14 battalion and sub battalions. The sub battalions have several teams and are headed by sub inspectors.

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Violence Spreads to a Second Oil Town in Kazakhstan

Violence between striking workers and the authorities in western Kazakhstan spread over the weekend, bringing the death toll to 14, the country’s general prosecutor announced on Sunday.

The clashes began Friday in the city of Zhanaozen, where police officers opened fire on striking oil workers who had occupied a city square for six months demanding better wages. The authorities said that 13 people were killed and 86 were wounded. Relatives and some witnesses have said that the death toll is much higher.

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South Korean Unification Ministry Staff Get CIA Training

Unification Ministry staff were given two intelligence analysis training sessions by the U.S.’ Central Intelligence Agency this year. According to the Unification Ministry, around a dozen members of its staff were trained by the CIA in April and November to learn to analyze intelligence from socialist countries.

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President Back in Pakistan as Tensions With Army Rise

A tense showdown between Pakistan’s powerful army and its besieged civilian government brought President Asif Ali Zardari hurrying back from Dubai early on Monday, after weeks of growing concerns by his supporters that the military has been moving to strengthen its role in the country’s governance.

Pushed by the army, a Pakistani Supreme Court hearing set to begin on Monday will investigate whether Mr. Zardari’s government was behind an unsigned memorandum that surfaced in October, purportedly asking the Obama administration’s help to curb the military’s influence and avert a possible coup in the wake of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

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India’s Domestic Intelligence Agency RAW gets power to tap phones, track emails

Bringing India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), at par with international spy agencies in terms of arming it with legal snooping powers, the government recently notified it as one of the eight agencies to intercept phone calls, emails and voice and data communications ‘domestically’.

The other agencies in the list are Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Technical Research Organisation and state police.

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Iran’s Caspian Discovery Could Change the Regional Gas Game

Iran’s recent announcement that it has found a huge new gas field in the Caspian has been touted as a major event, which will “will change the energy and political balance around the Caspian Sea”, according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. With estimated reserves of 1.4 trillion cubic metres of natural gas and 8 billion barrels of oil, the find is undoubtedly significant, but perhaps not for the reasons which Iran means.

First is the legal issue. Iran has not yet revealed the exact location of the field, which is unusual.

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Breakdown: Kim Jong-Il Dead, Brother-in-Law Cements Favored Position

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law Jang Song-taek was appointed vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission on Monday, rising to the effective No. 2 post in the Stalinist country.

Jang (64) is apparently a strong supporter of Kim’s son Jong-un for the succession. “The promotion of Jang Song-taek to vice chairman just a year and a half after his last appointment and the promotion of his aide Pak Myong-chol to minister of sports is clearly an effort to bolster Jang’s power to boost Jong-un,” said a North Korean source.

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Russian Military Post in Armenia Cut, Russia Preparing for Iranian Invasion: Analysis

More than a year ago, Russia began to take steps to minimize losses from a possible military action against Tehran, and now preparations are nearly complete. The Russian military base in Armenia is fully optimized, military families have been evacuated from the country, the Russian garrison stationed near Yerevan has been cut, and military units have been moved to Gyumri, closer to the Turkish border. The US troops can hit targets in Iran from Turkey, writes Russian news source Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

In connection with the prospect of war against Iran, Russia’s Ministry of Defense is wary of Azerbaijan, which in the past three years has doubled its military budget, acquiring Israeli drones and other advanced means of intelligence. In addition, Baku has stepped up pressure on Moscow, demanding that it pay more in rent for the use of its Gabala radar station.

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Wrapped Up in Russia’s ‘Mink’ Revolution

Rigged elections sparked the so-called color revolutions in the post-Soviet states of Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. But in Moscow, nostalgia for the old order and fear of change have been more entrenched. Mr. Putin often plays on those sentiments. State TV reminds Russians of the initial euphoria and crushing disappointments of perestroika, the Gorbachev-era thaw whose political debates and mass demonstrations were followed by the grinding poverty and humiliations of the Yeltsin years. “We’ve gotten up off our knees, now we want more,” says Tina Kandelaki, a 36-year-old talk-show host.

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Russian expert: Iran will be apparently attacked from Georgia’s territory

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is a sign of future war against Iran, according to head of the Center for Strategic Research into Contemporary Religion and Politics.

“Should the U.S. forces remain in Iraq, it would inevitably lead to unpredictable consequences, with Iran striking heavy blows on the U.S. bases,” Maxim Shevchenko told vesti.az.

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US think tank paid $100,000 to Haqqani to write book against army

Smith Richardson Foundation, an American think tank, claims that it paid $100,000 to Husain Haqqani to write a book, which attacks the Pakistan army and the military-mosque alliance and its implications for US policies.

Haqqani came up with a book within two years and the controversial memo reflects many of the thoughts stated in his book.

The think tank also claims that it funded another $175000 to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for developing a new US policy toward Pakistan in 2004 and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hired Husain Haqqani for the purpose.

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UK Isolation: France Says Agencies should downgrade ‘Greece-like’ UK

Relations between France and the UK plumbed new depths on Thursday when the head of the French central bank said ratings agencies should downgrade the UK before France and the country’s finance minister compared the British economy to that of Greece.

“A downgrade does not strike me as justified based on economic fundamentals,” French central bank chief Christian Noyer said in a interview with a French local newspaper.

“Or if it is they should begin by downgrading the UK, which has a bigger deficit, as much debt, weaker growth and where bank lending is collapsing.”

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Crude And Cruelty: Kazakhstan army expected to interfere to end uprising in oil rich town

At least 10 people were killed Friday in violent clashes between police and demonstrators in an oil town in western Kazakhstan where workers have been protesting for higher wages, authorities said.

Prosecutor General Askhat Daulbayev said in a statement that the mayor’s office, a hotel and vehicles were set afire in Zhanaozen, a city of 90,000 in the far southwestern corner of the energy-rich Central Asian nation.

The clashes appear to be some of the largest unrest to hit the former Soviet republic since it gained independence in 1991.

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Top Turkish military council reviews preparedness for war

Top Turkish military council has said it reviewed Turkish military’s preparedness for war following a key meeting.

A statement released by General Staff in its web-site on Thursday said Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) discussed activities of Turkish military in domestic and border security, adding that it reviewed Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) preparedness for war.

The statement didn’t elaborate threats Turkey face and said it assessed Turkish army’s needs and necessary steps to address these requirements to this end.

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Russian oil the winner from Syria, Iran sanctions

Russia is emerging as the winner from international sanctions against Syria and stands to benefit even more if the European Union bans imports of Iranian crude, keeping Russia’s Urals crude at stiff premiums for months more.

Urals crude already has been fetching premiums over the North Sea Dated Brent benchmark since mid-October, the longest period ever.

“The strength of Urals relative to Brent in recent weeks is due to a combination of factors: uncertainty over the impact of sanctions on Iran and the loss of Syrian production and exports,” Roy Jordan with consultancy Facts Global Energy said.

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Hunger up in U.S. cities, more to come: mayors

A survey of 29 U.S. cities shows hunger has risen in most of them in the last year and is largely expected to increase in 2012, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said on Thursday.

Eighty-six percent of the survey cities reported requests for emergency food aid had increased in the last year, the study by the mayors’ group said. Two cities said they had stayed the same.

Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

No survey city expected requests for emergency food aid to drop over the next year, and 93 percent expected a rise.

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IMF warns that world risks sliding into a 1930s-style slump

The world risks sliding into a 1930s-style slump unless countries settle their differences and work together to tackle Europe’s deepening debt crisis, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

On a day that saw an escalation in the tit-for-tat trade battle betweenChina and the United States and a deepening of the diplomatic rift between Britain and France, Christine Lagarde issued her strongest warning yet about the health of the global economy and said if the international community failed to co-operate the risk was of “retraction, rising protectionism, isolation”.

She added: “This is exactly the description of what happened in the ’30s and what followed is not something we are looking forward to.”

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India Plans Robots To Replace Soldiers

“Whatever a soldier will do in warfare, a robot soldier should be able to do. If the human is doing a search in warfare, the robot soldier will also do that. If a human is doing firefighting, the robot soldier will do that,” says V.K. Saraswat, DRDO’s director general and scientific adviser to India’s defense minister. “The DRDO is working on the project to have robot soldiers by 2020 or 2030,” he says.

The robot soldiers will be able to perform duties including carrying loads of ammunition and payloads for mine detection and surveillance.

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Koreas Is Caught in Arms Race Among Superpowers

The raging arms race in the region between the U.S, China, Japan and Russia has shifted from naval weapons to fighter planes. The Japanese government says it will select Lockheed Martin’s F35 stealth jet as its choice for the next-generation fighter plane. Tokyo will apparently announce its selection later this week. It will purchase four of the radar-evading fighters in 2016 and deploy a total of 50 in stages. The total cost is estimated at W10.23 trillion (US$1=W1,156).

Japan’s decision stems from moves by China and Russia to deploy their own stealth fighters in the near future. In January, China completed test flights of its J-20 stealth fighter, to be deployed around 2018, while Russia will begin operating its T50 stealth plane as early as 2015. Japan is also spending W578.4 billion to develop a home-grown stealth fighter known as Shinshin, a project begun in 2009.

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Putin calls ‘color revolutions’ an instrument of destabilization

‘Color revolutions’ are a well-tested scheme of destabilizing society, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

“As far as ‘color revolutions’ are concerned, I think that everything is clear. It is a well-tested scheme for destabilizing society. I do not think it appeared by itself,” Putin said during his annual Q&A session broadcast live on Thursday.

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DNA Hackers: Synthetic biology weaponized virus, zero-day exploit to infect your brain?

rom the let’s get futuristically freaky department, future hacking crimes could take a decidedly sinister twist; not hacking to breach systems but brains, bodies and behaviors. This DNA hacking goes way beyond potentially using police bees to bust biohackers, or even storing unhackable data in box of bio-encrypted bacteria. It’s not science fiction to hack insulin pumps or to use jamming signals to stop hackers from lethal pacemaker attacks, but now bioengineers and security futurists are warning that the day is coming when criminals and bioterrorists hunt for vulnerabilities that will give a new meaning to zero-day exploits. In the future, a weaponized virus will aim to infect you, your brain and body biology, and not just your computer or mobile device.

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U.S. collision with Iran may lead to disastrous war – Zbignew Brzezinski

The United States appears headed on a collision course with Iran that could lead to a war with “disastrous” consequences, a former adviser to ex-president Jimmy Carter has warned.

“We think we are going to avoid war by moving towards compulsion,” Zbignew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to Carter in the late 1970s, told an audience at an Atlantic Council think tank event in Washington late Tuesday.

“But the more you lean towards compulsion, the more the choice becomes war if it doesn’t work. That narrows our options in a very dramatic way,” said the former official, who remains an influential voice on U.S. foreign policy.

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Philippines sends newest warship to disputed waters in sovereignty battle with China

The Philippines launched its newest warship on Wednesday, a former US coast guard cutter that President Benigno Aquino said would be deployed to waters at the heart of a territorial dispute with China.

Aquino said the 115-meter (378-foot) Gregorio del Pilar would lead patrols in the parts of the South China Sea that the Philippines claims exclusively as its own and where exploration for potentially lucrative gas fields is underway.

“The Gregorio del Pilar, named after the newest general of the Philippine revolution, will take the lead in patrols for our sovereignty, and in ensuring that our waters are crime-free,” Aquino said.

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‘Pakistan spy chief had got nod to sack Asif Ali Zardari’

Omar Waraich in his blog on The Independent claimed that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Gen Shuja Pasha had sought and “received permission from senior Arab leaders to sack Z” (President Zardari), reported Geo News.

The blog said: “`I was just informed by senior US intel,’ Ijaz writes in a message on May 10, `that GD-SII Mr P asked for, and received permission, from senior Arab leaders a few days ago to sack Z. For what its worth’.” GD-SII was an anagram for DG-ISI.

Mansoor Ijaz, who had revealed the secret memo to Washington that said Zardari had feared a military coup after US commandos killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad May 2, told Geo News: “This information has been on the record now for the better part of six weeks.”

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U.S. to establish new fund supporting NGOs in Russia

The U.S. administration is in talks with Congress on the establishment of a new organization supporting NGOs in Russia, Philip Gordon, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, said on Wednesday, December 14.

“As part of our democracy strategy, the administration has been consulting with Congress on an initiative to create a new fund to support Russian non-governmental organizations that are committed to a more pluralistic and open society,” Gordon said.

“The fund would not require an additional appropriation, as necessary funding would be drawn from the liquidated proceeds of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund – an example of successful U.S. foreign assistance to Russia,” he said at a meeting of a subcommittee in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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U.S. Officials Cite ‘Nationwide Awakening’ In Russia

A U.S. State Department official says recent mass protests in Russia could represent a “nationwide awakening” among Russians who want more accountability from their government.

Protesters across Russia have staged a series of demonstrations accusing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his ruling United Russia party of rigging votes in the party’s favor during the December 4 parliamentary elections, which United Russia narrowly won. More major protest rallies are being organized for December 24.

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Sources: Plan to kill Iran Supreme Leader thwarted

According to informed sources inside Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has recently ordered the arrest of a number of prominent members of the Revolutionary Guards. He ordered to investigate them and others, who were not arrested, in a suspected plot to assassinate him.

The sources said that among those arrested and interrogated so far are some of Khamenei’s bodyguards. The sources conveyed that those arrested tried to convince Khamenei to visit Mlard missile base in western Tehran on November 12th. It should be mentioned that on that day a huge blast took place in this military base, which killed among others the head of ballistic missiles production and development unit.

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An ‘Arab Spring’ in Iran: A viable option?

As far as Iran concerned, the question of crucial importance should be whether such a strategy could indeed be applied to Iran, as some circles in the West, in Israel in particular, vividly claim it could. But before proceeding, let me underline boldly that Iran is undoubtedly not Yugoslavia and Middle Eastern dynamics dramatically differ from those of the Balkans, or any other region. Iran, at least, has been a power in its own right for nearly 2,500 years.

It is precisely for this reason that I keep repeating that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s candidature in the presidential elections was a carefully engineered “selection” of Iran’s centuries-long political culture. In that regard, the regime’s capacity to politically mobilize masses becomes critical.

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Syrian defectors regroup in Turkey, plot Assad’s end

Ayham Kurdi refused to open fire on unarmed protesters and is now an enemy of the Syrian state. A captain in President Bashar al-Assad’s army, Kurdi, 30, a soft-spoken man with a trimmed black moustache, deserted his post in June and fled to neighbouring Turkey with his family Today`s Zaman reported

He is now a member of the Free Syrian Army, a loose collection of deserters who are fighting to topple Assad.

Other Free Army officers have taken refuge in Turkey as well, including the group’s most senior commander, from where they communicate and coordinate operations with rebel units inside Syria.

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China to open its first military base abroad in Indian Ocean

In a move that may cause unease in India, China on Monday announced that it will set up its first military base abroad in the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles to “seek supplies and recuperate” facilities for its Navy.

The naval fleet may seek supplies or recuperate at appropriate harbours in Seychelles or other countries as needed during escort missions, Chinese defence ministry announced here.

China has already cemented its foothold in the Indian Ocean by signing contract with the UN backed International Seabed Authority to gain rights to explore polymetallic sulphide ore deposit in Indian Ocean over the next 15 years.

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Chinese police besiege town and cut of food supplies in bid to quell riots

At the same time, the local government brought the village’s simmering anger to a boil by admitting that Xue Jinbo, a 43-year-old butcher who had represented the villagers in their negotiations with the government, had died in police custody of “cardiac failure”.

Mr Xue was taken into custody last week and accused of inciting riots. Mr Xue was widely believed to have been tortured, perhaps to death, and his family were rumoured to have found several of his bones broken when receiving his corpse.

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Major battle in Syria; shops shut by strike

Army defectors fought government troops on Sunday in one of the biggest battles of Syria’s nine-month uprising, and a strike shut businesses in a new gesture of civil disobedience, residents and activists said.

In a major international development likely to raise Western pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Paris believed Syria was behind attacks that wounded French peacekeepers in neighbouring Lebanon on Friday.

In Sunday’s fighting, Syrian troops mainly from the 12th Armoured Brigade based in Isra, 40-km (25 miles) from the border with Jordan, stormed the nearby town of Busra al-Harir.

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Armed groups clash in turf war near Tripoli airport

A convoy carrying one of Libya’s most senior military leaders was involved in a gunfight between rival armed groups overnight near Tripoli’s international airport, local militia commanders said on Sunday.

It was the latest in a series of clashes between rival militias which, in the absence of a fully-functioning central government, wield the real power on the streets in Libya since a revolt forced out former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Two commanders said the clashes began when a vehicle carrying Khalifa Haftar, head of ground forces in the Libyan national army, approached a checkpoint about 3 km from the airport which was manned by militiamen from outside Tripoli.

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Russia plans to complete new radar station construction in Azerbaijan by 2019

Russia plans to complete the construction of a new radar station Voronezh-VP in Gabala, Azerbaijan in 2019. This station will replace a radar station of previous generation Darial, General Director of Academician A.L. Mints Radio Engineering Institute Vladimir Savchenko said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

The Academician A.L. Mints Radio Engineering Institute is the only supplier of meter range radar station Voronezh-VP, which along with the decimeter range radar station Voronezh-DM will form Russia’s prospective system of early warning of missile attack by 2020.

“It is dealt with high potential station with high manufacture of Voronezh-VP meter range radar station. According to the plans, the terms will cover 2017-2019, but all depends on the goodwill of our esteemed neighbors – a final agreement will be consolidated on a political level,” Savchenko said.

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Pakistan: U.S. Drones In Its Air Space Will Be SHOT Down

Pakistan will shoot down any U.S. drone that intrudes its air space per new directives, a senior Pakistani official told NBC News on Saturday.

According to the new Pakistani defense policy, “Any object entering into our air space, including U.S. drones, will be treated as hostile and be shot down,” a senior Pakistani military official told NBC News.

The policy change comes just weeks after a deadly NATO attack on Pakistani military checkpoints accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Pakistani officials to order all U.S. personnel out of a remote airfield in Pakistan.

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UN Floats Global ‘Climate Court’

United Nations climate envoys have proposed the creation of a global “climate court” that would be responsible for enforcing a sprawling set of rules requiring developed countries to cut emissions while compensating poorer countries in order to pay off a “historical climate debt.”

The proposals are contained in a draft document pieced together for the climate conference in Durban, South Africa. Representatives at the conference are struggling to come up with a compromise that negotiators from 194 nations can agree on.

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Sterilisation: Peru’s darkest secret

That allegation may now finally be tested in court, after Peru’s Attorney General last month reopened an investigation into the alleged forced sterilisations during the government of Alberto Fujimori, President from 1990 to 2000, who is currently serving a 25-year prison term for embezzlement and directing death squads during the crackdown against the Maoist Shining Path.

The investigation will look at the entire issue of forced sterilisations while focusing on one sample case, of Mamerita Mestanza, a 33-year-old, Quechua-speaking mother-of-seven, from the Andean region of Cajamarca. She died in 1998 from complications from sterilisation surgery that health officials allegedly harassed her into accepting.

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Russia protests: Moscow rocked by biggest since fall of USSR

If there was any doubt that significant numbers of Russians are ready to tear up the Putin-era social contract, which exchanges political freedom for relative prosperity, it was dramatically dispelled Saturday.

Ignoring ranks of riot police with unmuzzled dogs, gusting snow, and accusations by Vladimir Putin that protesters are dupes of the United States
tens of thousands of Muscovites poured into Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin, to vent their anger at alleged fraud and vote-rigging on behalf of the ruling United Russia(UR) party in last weekend’s parliamentary elections

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China Aims to Bypass Heaven in Securing Rain for Crops

The plan marks a major expansion of China’s “weather modification” efforts, deployed for years in Beijing to sometimes mixed results. Cloud-seeding – accomplished by shooting shells or rockets filled with silver iodide particles into promising puffs of white – was instrumental in clearing the smog out of the skies during the 2008 Olympics and has helped relieve the capital from chronic water shortages. But the effort has occasionally gone horribly, and expensively, awry.

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Daily Brief: Pakistan ups air defenses at Afghan border

A Pakistani official said Friday on the condition of anonymity that Pakistan has enhanced its air defense system on the border with Afghanistan to give it the ability to respond immediately to air incursions and shoot down attacking aircraft (AFP, AP). The defense upgrade comes as Pakistan’s Director General of Military Operations, Maj. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, reportedly described last month’s NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers as a “pre-planned conspiracy” from Pakistan’s “supposed allies”

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Iranian general who controls Iraq steps out of the shadows

Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the covert action wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, is stepping out of the shadows as a leading hard-liner, and as tension with the United States heats up, that’s a really bad sign.

There is a school of thought among Iran-watchers that Tehran believes the United States and Israel, backed by Britain, are gearing up for a showdown with the Islamic Republic.

The Iranians, several seasoned analysts say, are getting ready for trouble as hard-line conservatives in the ruling elite demonstrated when they stormed and sacked the British Embassy in Tehran Nov. 29.

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Cold War Propaganda Revisited – spinning the ideological battlefront

“This conference spurred a vital conversation about the channels and means by which governments ‘sold’ the Cold War to their own people – and how journalists, movie-makers, academics, researchers and the general public took up the ideological battle of their own volition.”

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Government and tribal forces clash in Yemen

Pro-government forces and tribesmen opposed to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh traded artillery fire on the streets of the capital Sanaa on Wednesday, witnesses said.

The fighting, which raged near government buildings and the compound of Sadeq al-Ahmar, a foe of Saleh commanding significant forces, were the latest challenge to a Gulf-brokered transition plan to prevent civil war after 10 months of bloodstained protests demanding an end to Saleh’s 33-year rule.

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Sino-Indian Mammoth Military Border Buildup

India is keeping close tabs on China’s massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control as well as its move for exploration in south-west Indian Ocean.

“The government keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning our national security and commercial interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them in accordance with the prevailing security situation and strategic considerations,” defence minister A K Antony said in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

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Pakistan president Zardari in Dubai for treatment as coup rumours intensify

Rumours of a coup or a resignation forced by the military consumed the media and the internet, fuelled by a report in Foreign Policy magazine that said Zardari was “incoherent” on Monday night during a telephone conversation with Barack Obama.

Zardari’s son and political heir-apparent, Bilawal, met prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Islamabad, adding to media hysteria about imminent change. Bilawal is chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party.

The speculation hit a receptive, febrile political atmosphere, rocked by a diplomatic scandal and the recent jolt to relations with the US over the deaths of Pakistani soldiers at a border checkpost.

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Leaders Fear Snow(Color) Revolution: South Ossetian leadership closes border with Russia

The border of South Ossetia with Russia temporarily closed. According to latest news, the South Ossetian leadership has decided to temporarily close the border with Russia. “This is happening due to the political situation in the republic and to prevent any kind of provocation. This measure is temporary; the citizens, traveling across the border should temporarily refrain from trips”, the Interfax quoted the words of the representative of South Ossetian law enforcement bodies. This interview was cited by the GHN.

Meanwhile, the situation in South Ossetia is escalating. Earlier, former presidential candidate of South Ossetia Alla Dzhioeva expressed her intention to ask for political asylum in Russia for herself, her supporters, as well as for voters.

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‘Blow-fly zone’ takes hold over Syria

Russia’s announcement of major Mediterranean drills, is designed to prevent another attempt at manufacturing cover for an invasion, or lighter warmaking, such as an embargo on arms and ammunition, jamming of military communications, or sabotage. Russian officials say that there is no special plan for the Admiral Kuznetsov to call on the Syrian port of Tartus.

The blow flies this time are being sent in to sniff and snuff out the prospects, before Assad and his men are corpses. The blow-fly zone is a Russian military trip-wire – the first such strategic move outside the borders of the old Soviet Union for more than 20 years.

It isn’t known whether (but it can be expected that) they will be supported under the Mediterranean by hunter-killer submarines to add uncertainty and nervousness for the British and US submarines around the US surface squadron, already in position in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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Eurasian Union as an attempt to restore the Soviet Union. Part I

In order to implement the ultimate objective it was deemed necessary:

- To unite representative of the media of the post-Soviet space, which against the background of the last 20 years of political battles and geopolitical changes, is not easy;
- To begin establishing relations with a view of their subsequent strengthening, which in turn implies choosing relevant, more or less favourably disposed to the Kremlin media sources in these countries – and this too is not easy;
- Gradual selection of participants in the project framework and awakening a favourable approach toward Russia in them, as well as a desire to participate in future meetings and the timing of the announcement of final objectives

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