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Archive | March, 2012

Greek-Cypriot-Israeli ’energy axis’

Greece, Cyprus and Israel agreed on Wednesday to deepen their energy cooperation, but stopped short of signing a memorandum to seal their agreement.

The discovery of considerable reserves of hydrocarbons in the Israeli and Cypriot exclusive economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean and estimates of more reserves in Greece have brought the three countries closer together. Israel’s Energy Minister Uzi Landau spoke of “an axis of Greece, Cyprus and Israel and possibly more countries which will offer an anchor of stability.” He was addressing an energy conference in Athens organized by The Economist.

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Greece Joins Israel-USA Military Exercise in Southern Mediterranean

At the same time the tripartite energy agreement will be signed between Greece, Israel and Cyprus on Thursday at Kavouri of Vouliagmeni, Athens, in the presence of Richard Morningstar, the special envoy of the US Foreign Affairs Ministry, a large-scale aeronautical military exercise will be taking place in the Southern Mediterranean.

According to defencenet.gr, Greece, Israel and USA will launch their joint military exercise from Crete to Haifa against “virtual enemy forces” that bear great resemblance to the Turkish aeronautical forces in this particular military operation scenario.

“Noble Dina” was initially planned to take place in April just like in 2011. However, it was decided that the military exercise should coincide with the date of the energy agreement signing between the three countries of the Southeastern Mediterranean. Thus, it would underline that the cooperation between Israel, Greece and the US does not only concern energy but military affairs as well.

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Foreign Policy Junta: Trained in The U.S.A.

The United States has a long history of inadvertently (and sometimes not so inadvertently) training future coup plotters around the world.

AMADOU HAYA SANOGO

Country: Mali

Training: U.S. military officials have acknowledged that Sanogo “participated in several U.S.-funded International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs in the United States, including basic officer training,” though it’s not yet clear which courses he took. He has affirmed receiving U.S. training in several interviews, but has declined to elaborate. Until this month’s events, the United States allocated $600,000 per year for military training in Mali as part of an effort to combat Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

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Western Powers And Their Mideast Partners Lay Their Syrian Cards On The Table

The Kofi Annan Syrian peace plan has made the gears of the war machine move faster than originally planned. Russia and China have become impatient and want to see this come to an peaceful end ostensibly but their interests are in Syrian and Iranian oil, infrastructure and military sales. U.N. envoy Kofi Annan has met with China’s senior officials and this had led to pressure being put on Assad to agree to the peace plan. Their hope is that their businesses in those respective countries remain the same and they don’t want to lose their investments like they did in Libya after the invasion.

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Mali Coup a New Step towards Global Resources Grab

The media uniformly stress that Mali is among the world’s poorest countries, which is basically true considering that it ranks 127th in the global GDP listing and 168th (of 179) (6) in terms of the index of human development (7). The ratings, however, should not overshadow the strategic importance and the economic potential of the territory of Mali. It borders seven other countries – Algeria, Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Senegal – and sits on considerable natural reserves of gold, uranium, bauxites, iron, manganese, tin, and copper. According to fresh reports, the northern part of Mali is found to be rich in oil and, importantly, contains a usable underground water ecosystem.

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Lithuania protests airspace violation by Russian fighter

Lithuania’s foreign ministry said a Russian Su-27 jet fighter had flown 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) into its airspace on Tuesday evening, before returning to the neighbouring Baltic territory of Kaliningrad that belongs to Russia.

The Russian ambassador to Lithuania “received a protest note over the Lithuanian airspace violation”, the ministry said in a statement.

Lithuania and fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia, which won independence in 1991 after five decades of Soviet rule, have strained relations with Moscow and are sensitive to any military moves by Russia.

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Arab Spring Brings Steep Rise In US Attacks In Yemen

Covert US strikes against alleged militants in Yemen have risen steeply during the Arab spring, and are currently at the same level as the CIA’s controversial drone campaign in Pakistan, a new study by the Bureau reveals.

At least 26 US military and CIA strikes involving cruise missiles, aircraft, drones or naval bombardments have taken place in the volatile Gulf nation to date, killing hundreds of alleged militants linked to the regional al Qaeda franchise. But at least 54 civilians have died too, the study found.

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Letters warned Kremlin of ‘corrupt Vladimir Putin’

The Kremlin was warned 20 years ago not to appoint Vladimir Putin to “any other positions” until a corruption scandal during his time as a local government officer in St Petersburg had been resolved, according to a cache of documents released on the internet.

Hundreds of scanned letters and other papers were published on Facebook on Tuesday by friends of Marina Salye, a former member of St Petersburg city council who launched an inquiry into Mr Putin’s office in the early 1990s, and who died earlier this month at the age of 77.

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NATO: Member nations should share military systems

Two F-4 Phantom jet fighters under NATO control streaked off the runway at a former Soviet air base in Lithuania this week in response to a report that an aircraft had lost communications as it neared Finnish airspace.

It was all an exercise — a simulation — but one with a point beyond mere rehearsal: NATO officials hope that, at a summit in Chicago this May, member nations will put aside concerns over sovereignty and agree in principle to create joint defense capabilities.
The idea is that, in a time of dwindling defense budgets, it makes sense to have coordinated programs in which specific countries agree to buy certain weapons systems — and forgo others — to create a coherent whole.

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LEND Network To Connect Leaders In Emerging Democracies

The United States and Estonia will lead a groundbreaking new effort to support leaders in emerging democracies.

This was announced by the U.S. State Department after a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her visiting Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

The LEND Network (for Leaders Engaged in New Democracies) will leverage expertise from the Club de Madrid, the world’s largest forum of democratically elected former Presidents and Prime Ministers, and 21st century technologies developed by Google and OpenText to connect leaders who have successfully navigated the challenges of democratization with leaders in emerging democracies.

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Drone strikes in Yemen soar as U.S. stokes ‘secret war’

America has dramatically stepped up its “secret war” in Yemen with the U.S. ordering dozens of drone attacks on al-Qaida hotspots, which have also killed scores of civilians.

With the backing of Yemen’s fragile government, President Barack Obama has authorized a rapid increase in attacks since last May, with 26 incidents recorded.

The pace appears to be accelerating, with nine attacks so far this year and at least five this month, including a strike last week near the terrorist hotbed of Zinjibar. Up to 30 militants were killed in three separate missile strikes on the town, witnesses said.

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They Didn’t Get The Memo: Mali northern rebels fight on despite coup in capital

Despite a ceasefire call from the military junta now ruling Mali, northern Tuareg rebels have shown no signs of halting their offensive, their boldest and most successful campaign yet.

The coup leaders who ousted Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 said they were partly motivated by the government’s incompetent response to the fresh Tuareg assault, launched two months ago.

The Tuaregs — who have for years demanded autonomy for their nomadic tribes — have over the past two decades launched several uprisings against Mali’s government.

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Flashpoint Caucasus: Israel’s Secret Staging Ground

In 2009, the deputy chief of mission of the U.S. embassy in Baku, Donald Lu, sent a cable to the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom titled “Azerbaijan’s discreet symbiosis with Israel.” The memo, later released by WikiLeaks, quotes Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev as describing his country’s relationship with the Jewish state as an iceberg: “nine-tenths of it is below the surface.”

Why does it matter? Because Azerbaijan is strategically located on Iran’s northern border and, according to several high-level sources I’ve spoken with inside the U.S. government, Obama administration officials now believe that the “submerged” aspect of the Israeli-Azerbaijani alliance — the security cooperation between the two countries — is heightening the risks of an Israeli strike on Iran.

In particular, four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran’s northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. “The Israelis have bought an airfield,” a senior administration official told me in early February, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”

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NATO Could Not Handle Intervention in Syria

Calls are intensifying for the United States, NATO and the Arab League to intervene to halt the bloodbath being perpetrated in Syria. Commentators on both the Left and Right are castigating the Obama Administration for its seeming hypocrisy in refusing to act in Syria having done so in Libya. The same arguments that were made to justify intervention in Libya apply in spades to the situation in Syria.

The White House’s reluctance to intervene in Syria is based on two simple facts. The first of these is that Syria is not Libya. As Pentagon leaders have pointed out, Syria deploys four times the air defenses that were available to Libya. Syria has a real Army. Access to Syrian airspace would pose a greater challenge than was the case in Libya, particularly if Turkey isn’t involved.

The second reason is that NATO would be only a limited player in such an operation.

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Eni makes ‘giant’ gas find in Mozambique

Italian energy company Eni estimates there is at least 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place off the coast of Mozambique.

Eni said it made a “new giant natural gas discovery” in a section of its Mamba North East 1 exploration prospect in the deep waters off the coast of Mozambique. That find, the company said, increases the resource base by at least 10 trillion cubic feet, 8 trillion of which are in so-called Area 4.

“This new discovery further improves the potential of the Mamba complex in Area 4 offshore Mozambique now estimated at at least 40 tcf of gas in place,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it expects to drill at least four wells in the area to assess the potential of the offshore Mamba prospect.

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Sudanese border region sees second day of fighting over oil fields

South Sudan has accused its neighbour Sudan of waging war against it after a second day of fighting in the oil-rich border region – the worst confrontation since the countries split last year.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, appealed for calm between the antagonists, which fought a long civil war before South Sudan gained independence in July last year. Oil is still the main source of hostility between the countries, which continue to spar over the border demarcation and other unresolved issues.

In a trade of claim and counter-claim, South Sudan alleged that Antonov warplanes dropped at least three bombs near oil fields in the town of Bentiu, Unity state, on Tuesday. “They are hovering and dropping over the northern part of town in the oil fields, the main Unity oil fields,” Gideon Gatpan, information minister for Unity, told the Associated Press. Sudan denied any air strikes.

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US could fly spy drones from Australian territory

Australia on Wednesday said it may allow Washington to use its territory to operate long-range spy drones, as part of an increased US presence in the Asia-Pacific that has rankled China.

The United States and Canberra are planning a major expansion of military ties, with the first of a 2,500-strong Marine deployment to northern Australia unveiled last November by President Barack Obama due to arrive next month.

The plan has irked China and worried some Asian countries who see it as a statement by Washington that it intends to stand up for its interests in the region amid concerns of increasing assertiveness by Beijing.

Australian media carried reports Wednesday citing a Washington Post story that the United States was considering using the Cocos Islands, an atoll in the Indian Ocean off northwest Australia, to launch unmanned surveillance aircraft.

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Spy agency cash used for Saudi arms plant: report

The company, Swedish Security Technology and Innovation (SSTI), was reportedly set up by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut – FOI) in order to oversee the construction of a factory for the maintenance and upgrade of anti-tank missile systems.

In order to keep the company secret, FOI needed cash in order to set it up, according to Svergies Radio (SR), which first reported on the secret plans for the Saudi weapons plant earlier this month.

However, FOI was unable to procure the necessary cash on its own, but instead had to rely on help from the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service (Militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten – MUST).

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Wars and crises spark global rise in refugees

The wars and crises of 2011 have lead to a steep increase in refugees across the globe. With many western countries closing their borders, refugees are beginning to look elsewhere for shelter.

It’s like the calm before the storm. The sea is washing against the shore, small fishing boats are returning to port after a day’s work. The town is preparing for the coming tourist season. Over the course of the winter, Lampedusa almost vanished off the radar of public interest.

The small Italian island nestled just off the Tunisian coast had been the focus of much attention last year. For months, Lampedusa had been flooded with African refugees searching for a better life. The poor conditions in the refugee camps led to protests and uprisings. In September the camp was set on fire.

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Israel sees new advantage in Iron Dome anti-missile system

Israel’s newest weapon sits squarely along the border of this southern Israeli town. The Iron Dome, a rocket interception system built by Israel, guards many of the cities that lie within the range of rockets fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

The system, considered among the most advanced in the world, fires a missile to intercept incoming rockets after it gauges whether a rocket will fall in an area where it can cause damage. It is, according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a “game changer.”

When violence flared along the Israel-Gaza border earlier this month, the effectiveness of the Iron Dome was tested, and Israeli officials couldn’t have been more pleased.

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Thousands riot over fuel prices in Indonesia

Thousands of Indonesians protesting at plans to push up fuel prices by more than 30% have clashed with riot police.

Rallies were held under tight security in big cities all over the country as parliament debated the need for a rise.

Some MPs said the government had no choice but to cut budget-busting fuel subsidies, which have for years enabled motorists to fill up for roughly €1.45 per gallon. Others argued raising prices could more than double inflation to 7%.

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Indian Nuclear bases in Assam to combat China – ULFA

In a startling revelation, the outlawed ULFA fighting for an Independent Asom has claimed that the Indian Government is secretly setting up Nuclear Missile Bases in North East India, especially in Assam in lieu of its growing conflict with China. As such, the Indian Government has already completed surveys for setting up bases for BRAHMOS cruise missile (Indo-Russian Technology) in Nagaland and Nuclear missile AKASH in Assam respectively. This explosive revelation has been made by none other than the ULFA Commander-in-Chief Paresh Asom alias Paresh Baruah.

In a press release sent to Times of Assam, the ULFA Supremo stated that Assam is being sandwiched between the Indo-China conflicts and maintained that Assam has never had any conflict with China over the centuries.

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Kurds say will end oil exports

Iraq’s Kurdistan region threatened on Monday to stop oil exports if the central government does not hand over promised funds which regional authorities say have been withheld for more than a year. The move was the latest in a long-running dispute over energy contracts and revenues between Baghdad and the autonomous region, with the two sides squabbling over payments, revenue-sharing and Baghdad’s refusal to recognise dozens of contracts Kurdish officials have signed with foreign energy firms. “The MNR has reluctantly decided to reduce exports to 50,000 bpd (barrels per day) with a view to possible cessation in one month.

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The cracks in the BRICS

As it prepares to hold its latest annual summit in New Delhi on March 28-29, the BRICS grouping — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — remains a concept in search of a common identity and institutionalized cooperation.

That is hardly surprising, given that these countries have very different political systems, economies and national goals, and are located in very different parts of the world. Yet the five emerging economies pride themselves on forming the first important non-Western global initiative.

The lack of common ground among the BRICS has prompted cynics to call the grouping an acronym with no substance.

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Sweden, Finland to Take Part in NATO’s Baltic Airspace Exercise

NATO forces will hold its 11th airspace policing exercise in Baltic skies on March 27 and 28 in conjunction with Finnish and Swedish air forces.

The units will practice establishing contact with airplanes that appear to lack communications and escorting such aircraft from sovereign airspace into NATO’s area of responsibility, midair transfer of escort procedures and coordination between air traffic control centers.

On the first day, a plane will be escorted from Swedish airspace to Lithuania and the next day the same scenario will be repeated in Finnish airspace.

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How Russia Plays the Great Game

Russia is playing a careful balancing game in Central Asia – stirring up worries about the U.S. military presence is just part of the game.

In keeping with their post-Soviet realpolitik, Russian officials consistently voice support for NATO’s Afghanistan mission. After all, they don’t
want NATO forces to withdraw from Afghanistan too soon for fear that the Afghan War burden will be dumped on them. But should the alliance’s stabilization effort succeed, Russians will be the first to demand the departure of Western troops. And in the meantime, Russian officials are determined to constrain NATO’s military presence in Eurasia by making it dependent on Moscow’s goodwill.

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US Seeks Missile Shields For Asia, Mideast

The United States is seeking to build regional shields against ballistic missiles in both Asia and the Middle East akin to a controversial defense system in Europe, a senior Pentagon official disclosed on Monday.

The effort may complicate U.S. ties with Russia and China, both of which fear such defenses could harm their security even though the United States says they are designed only to protect against states like Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. push for new anti-missile bulwarks includes two sets of trilateral dialogues—one with Japan and Australia and the other with Japan and South Korea, said Madelyn Creedon, an assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs.

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Turkey edges nearer to buffer zone for Syrians

Events are pushing Turkey ever closer to setting up a buffer zone in Syria to protect civilians.

Turkish officials have long been hesitant about the idea, even while the U.N. reported that thousands of Syrians were being killed as President Bashar Assad’s forces crush dissent.

But on Monday, a Turkish official indicated that a surge of refugees from Syria might compel Turkey, preferably with international backing, to establish a buffer zone on Syrian soil to guarantee the security of its own southern border as well as the welfare of civilians fleeing violence.

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India/Balkans Package?: Turkey prepares for partition of Iraq

According to a senior government official who I talked to last week, Turkey has set things in motion to beef up a contingency plan for the future of Iraq in the face of the increasing likelihood that the country may be divided along sectarian lines under the joint pressure of the militant Shiite regime in Tehran and its co-conspirators in Baghdad.

The fallback position for Turkey now or Plan B for the future of Iraq is to create a united front, consisting of Sunni Arabs and Kurds, against the Shiite majority. Because of the sensitivity of the partition issue, the official spoke under the condition of anonymity.

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Losing Geopolitical Battle in Syria

The 3rd Millennium crusaders US, UK, France and other NATO members along with their ‘democracy lover’ Arab clients in Gulf Cooperation Council, Riyadh and Qatar with an Islamists ruled Ankara have been halted at Homs in Syria with stiff military ,political and strategic resistance internationally by Moscow and Beijing in UNSC and elsewhere. The delicate task of defusing the violent conflict situation and then working out some solution to save face has been entrusted to Kofi Annan; former secretary general of UNO, not Washington’s favorite .Kofi had described US led 2003 invasion of Iraq against the UN Charter and hence illegal .So an agreement on Annan is a significant trend in itself.

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Flashpoint Region: Supply of Weapons to South Caucasus

The South Caucasus can no longer be viewed as a region in regard to which the balance of forces is arranged. The states of the south Caucasus were not given the opportunity to be more independent, their policy was practically aimed at the external actors.

In the course of a number of years the impression was that the United States and Russia mostly had shared goals. Now one can claim confidently that the United States, Russia and other great powers were interested in limited factors of the states of the South Caucasus because not only the possibility of ousting their opponents but also the possibility of holding active operations of political and military character is there, having a larger scale of importance than just regional.

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Israeli special forces makes covert forays into Iran

According to the newspaper, the soldiers of the IDF special forces disguised as Iranian soldiers are regularly sent to this base set into the rear of Iran, using, including transport helicopters. Their main task – not to miss the start of work on nuclear warheads.

According to sources in the Western intelligence community, for the Israeli agents use a modern, extremely sensitive equipment. They monitor radiation background in suspicious areas, and the fluctuations of the soil, able to testify about the nuclear tests.

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RAF trained to bomb airfields in Argentina

RAF bomber crews trained to attack airfields in Argentina in retaliation for any attempt to retake the Falkland Islands, it can be disclosed for the first time.

Vulcan bombers, designed for nuclear raids on Russia, trained night and day in Scotland, Wales and Canada for a low-level attack hundreds of miles deep into Argentine sovereign territory, a new book has shown.

The news is likely to strain further the poor relations between Britain and Argentina, which have been at their lowest since the Falklands conflict 30 years ago next month.

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Tug of War: Strain in the EU-Ukraine-Russia Energy Triangle

Ukraine’s current tug-of-war with Russia over the pricing of its Russian gas imports should be watched closely by the EU, which receives 20% of its gas supply via Ukraine and which suffered record supply disruptions in 2009, the last time a similar price dispute escalated. After having accepted Ukraine into its Energy Community in 2011, the EU is rightly making further financial and diplomatic support conditional on Ukraine liberalising its domestic gas market. Those reforms, however, run counter the interests of well-connected local business magnates. Coupled, with EU concerns over the jailing of Ukrainian opposition leader Yuliya Timoshenko, Ukraine’s resistance to reforms is cornering it into a difficult negotiating position with Russian Gazprom, which may well gain a stake in Ukraine’s gas transportation system (GTS) in exchange for a discount.

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How Oligarchy Wastes Armenia

t is difficult to guess how much money the government will spend on the parliamentary elections. I don’t mean the budget money – everything is clear with the costs of all the election campaign solutions, such as the social benefits for public servants, subsidy of car fuel for village people, the so-called tax amnesty etc.

I mean the costs which will not be reported anywhere. I mean the election bribes both for the majority system and proportional representation, the coalition candidates and lists of the RPA, BHP and OYP.

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DOD Develops Cyberspace Rules of Engagement

Whether by land, sea or air, Defense Department leaders have long crafted rules of engagement to determine how, where and when forces can attack the enemy. They expect soon to complete the same for their newest domain: cyberspace, the assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs said today.

“We are working closely with the Joint Staff on the implementation of a transitional command-and-control model for cyberspace operations” while reviewing existing rules of engagement,Madelyn R. Creedon told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

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Leader of Mali coup received officer training from AFRICOM

The leader of the military coup that toppled the democratic government of the West African nation of Mali this week underwent basic officer training in the United States, the Obama administration acknowledged Friday.

Capt. Amadou Sanoga, who is the apparent leader of the group of junior officers that toppled the government of President Amadou Toumani Toure, “participated in several U.S.-funded International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs in the United States, including basic officer training,” the U.S. military’s Africa Command said in an email to McClatchy Newspapers.

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Syria intervention talk as diplomacy withers

A year of sanctions, diplomacy and harsh rhetoric failed to stop Syria’s bloody crackdown and oust President Bashar Assad. With frustration running high, Turkey and other countries that have staked moral credibility on ending the violence are increasingly looking at intervention on Syrian soil, a strategy they have so far avoided for lack of international consensus and fears it could widen the conflict.

Diplomacy has not yet run its course, but more treacherous options, including aid to Syrian rebels, are likely to come up at a meeting of dozens of countries that oppose Assad, including the United States and its European and Arab partners, in Istanbul on April 1.

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How India created Bangladesh & lessons for Sri Lanka

With a population of 1.2billion living across a landmass of 2973190 square kilometers, there is no denying India’s power. Yet, if not for its inferiority we cannot comprehend why India would desire to adopt a consistent policy and go to great lengths to destabilize each of its neighbors whilst pretending to be their friend.

The example of Bangladesh is perfect to describe the birth of Indian intelligence agency RAW tasked to partition Pakistan and create Bangladesh in 1971. It was in 1947 that 2 different countries were created – Pakistan and India. Muslims were divided into 2 countries bearing 2 different nationalities. West Pakistan was dominated by Punjabi’s while East Pakistan was the home to Sindhis, Pathans, Balochis and Mohajirs.

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Al Jazeera obtains secret Syria files

Al Jazeera has gained access to confidential documents prepared for the Syrian president by the country’s intelligence and security chiefs on the current conflict.

The files provide an insight into President Bashar al-Assad’s strategy to suppress anti-government protests, including the lengths the government went to for protecting its strongholds.

The documents, running into hundreds of pages, pointed to a government that was desperate to keep control of the capital Damascus and included clear orders to stop protesters from getting into the city

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U.S. spy agencies can keep data on Americans longer

Until now, the National Counterterrorism Center had to immediately destroy information about Americans that was already stored in other government databases when there were no clear ties to terrorism.

Giving the NCTC expanded record-retention authority had been called for by members of Congress who said the intelligence community did not connect strands of intelligence held by multiple agencies leading up to the failed bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas 2009.

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Kurd militants threaten Turkey if it enters Syria

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish Kurd militants threatened on Thursday to turn all Kurdish populated areas into a “war zone” if Turkish troops entered Syria, a sign the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has allies in Syria may be taking sides in the conflict there.

A renewed alliance between Damascus and the PKK would anger Turkey and could prompt it to take an even stronger line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his brutal repression of anti-government protesters.

PKK field commander Murat Karayilan said Turkey was preparing the ground for an intervention in Syria.

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Trapped In The Grid: How Net-Centric Devices And Appliances Provide Voluminous Information To Intelligence Agencies And Their Business Partners

The Internet has revolutionized our world. It has shaped the way most people live and think. The Internet can be used to bring families together or it can be used to organize riots around the world. At this point in time it is not enough to be able to access websites, music and games at home, we need devices that can do this as well as any desktop computer. Today we have tablets and smart phones and they have been built so that you can connect to the web from wherever you are. The massive appetites of Internet users have created fortunes for those who were quick to act on it.

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New IDF Field Intelligence Battalion to be Stationed at Egypt Border

The Field Intelligence Corps established a new battalion to be stationed in the Southern Command along the eastern and western borders. An inauguration ceremony was held earlier this week, with Southern Command GOC, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo and Field Intelligence Corps Commander, Brig. Gen. Eli Pollack.

The new battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. Erez, was established to enhance field intelligence capabilities in the region and the battalion specifically for these purposes. The battalion will fortify Israel Defense Forces (IDF) forces already stationed in the region. The IDF is taking every measure to maintain routine life of Israeli civilians in the region as well as maintaining their security.

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80 French ‘training with Pakistan Taliban’

More than 80 French nationals are training with the Pakistan Taliban in the lawless north-west of the country, according to a militant commander, raising fears of a renewed campaign against Western targets.

Mohammed Merah, the man believed to have killed seven people in south-western France, was trained by al-Qaeda in Waziristan on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, according to the French prosecutor.

His visits, thought to be in 2010 and 2011, highlight again Pakistan’s reputation for jihadi tourism and raise the chilling prospect of more attacks.

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China test its J-10 fighters near borders with India

China has conducted a massive military exercise in the high altitude Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, close to the disputed borders with India, during which it has for the first time tested the multi-role J-10 fighter jets.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force have conducted ground attack training over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the “first operation of its kind”, official media here reported on Thursday.

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Syrian rebels form ‘military council’ to conduct operations around Damascus

The Free Syrian Army has set up a military council to coordinate operations around Damascus, as it brings the year-old conflict to the capital, it announced in an online video on Thursday.

“I, Colonel Khaled Mohammed al-Hammud, announce the creation of the military council for Damascus and the region that will be in charge of FSA operations in this region,” an army deserter said in the video.

He invited other “noble officers still in the ranks of Bashar’s army” to join the rebel force, referring to President Bashar al-Assad.

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U.S. intelligence sees global water conflict risks rising

Fresh water supplies are unlikely to keep up with global demand by 2040, increasing political instability, hobbling economic growth and endangering world food markets, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment released on Thursday.

The report by the office of the Director of National Intelligence said that areas including South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will face major challenges in coping with water problems that could hinder the ability to produce food and generate energy.

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Google wants to serve you ads based on the background noise of your phone calls

Just when you think that we’re pretty tech savvy, companies like Google and Nokia file outlandish “forward-thinking” patents that make you feel like we’re all in a Star Trek episode. In the case of Google’s latest patent, it makes us feel like we’re in a police state.

The patent discusses the technology to analyze the background noise during your phone call and serve up ads for you based on the environmental conditions Google picks up on. Yeah, that’s creepy.

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Beijing On Edge Amid Coup Rumors

The Chinese capital is awash with speculation, innuendo and rumors of a coup following the most important political purge in decades, with even some of the most well-informed officials in the dark about what comes next.

Since Bo Xilai, one of China’s most powerful leaders, was removed from his job last Thursday, the bureaucracy and the public have been on tenterhooks, awaiting the next twist in the gripping political saga.

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Mali coup leaders close all borders amid condemnation from Washington and Africa

A Malian junta announced Thursday the closure of the country’s borders after claiming to have seized power from President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup in the early hours of the morning.

“We have closed all the borders until further notice,” Sergeant Salif Kone said in a statement on state television, surrounded by the band of mutineers who have formed a junta calling itself the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy, according to AFP.

A source at the airport had earlier confirmed the closure of the airport, saying all flights to and from Mali had been cancelled in the wake of the coup.

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Chinese spies target Taiwan’s US-made defenses

When Taiwanese security personnel detained a suspected spy for China at a top secret military base last month, they may have had a sense of deja vu.

Air force Capt. Chiang — he was identified only by his surname — was the fourth Taiwanese in only 14 months known to have been picked up on charges of spying for China, from which the island split amid civil war 63 years ago. While Taiwan’s Defense Ministry did not disclose details of his alleged offense, his base in the northern part of the island hosts the air force’s highly classified radar system and U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles, both vital to the island’s aerial defense.

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Chinese coup watching

Last week, controversial politician Bo Xilai, whose relatively open campaigning for a seat on China’s top ruling council shocked China watchers (and possibly his elite peers, as well), was removed from his post as Chongqing’s party secretary. He hasn’t been seen since. Rumors of a coup, possibly coordinated by Bo’s apparent ally Zhou Yongkang, are in the air.

Western media has extensively covered the political turmoil: Bloomberg reported on how coup rumors helped spark a jump in credit-default swaps for Chinese government bonds; the Wall Street Journal opinion page called Chinese leadership transitions an “invitation, sooner or later, for tanks in the streets.” The Financial Times saw the removal of Bo, combined with Premier Wen Jiabao’s strident remarks at a press conference hours before Bo’s removal as a sign the party was moving to liberalize its stance on the Tiananmen square protests of 1989. That Bo staged a coup is extremely unlikely, but until more information comes to light, we can only speculate on what happened.

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Thousands of Red Shirts take over ‘richest part’ of Bangkok

Thailand’s “Red Shirts” congregated in their tens of thousands at an up-market Bangkok shopping district on Wednesday, preparing a “final battleground” in their fight to oust army-backed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

About 40,000 had gathered by evening as the prospect of further impasse looked set to hit growth in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy after clashes on Saturday killed at least 22 people, Thailand’s worst violence in 18 years.

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Mali seals presidency as gunfire heard in capital

Mali surrounded its presidential palace with armoured vehicles on Wednesday as heavy gunfire rang out across the capital Bamako and in a nearby barracks, Reuters correspondents said.

Correspondents heard 10 minutes of automatic gunfire coming from close to the state broadcaster, whose programmes went off air. Soldiers blocked the path towards its premises.

The incidents came amid growing anger in the army at the government’s handling of a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north of the country that has claimed dozens of casualties and forced nearly 200,000 civilians to flee their homes.

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ISI funding insurgency in North East/Bangladesh, says ex-ISI chief

Pakistan’s former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Assad Durani has made a startling before the Pakistan Supreme Court. Durani told the court that the Pakistan spy agency had been meddling with India’s affairs in the North East.

India has been claiming what the former ISI chief has stated since a very long time. India has also said that the operations in the North East, which have several instances of insurgencies, are all being funded by the ISI. The Harkat-ul-Jihadi in particular has been causing a great deal of trouble in both the North Eastern states. According to Durrani, the ISI had paid Rs 50 crore to former prime minister Khaleeda Zia during the 1991 elections.

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Moscow abolished “independence” of Abkhazia

A new position – special representative of President of Russia in Abkhazia has emerged simultaneously in Russia and Abkhazia. In political vocabulary of the 19th century such post was called “viceroy” while in modern it is called “governor.” On March 16, 2012 governor of the Krasnodar Territory Alexander Tkachev was appointed on this post. He will work on both these two positions.

Appointment of Tkachev was not accompanied by “instructions” – functional responsibilities that he will be given in relations to Abkhazia, “independence” of which Moscow recognized in 2008 after yet another invasion of Georgia and another ethnic cleansing in other occupied region – Tskhinvali. Therefore, analysts will have to make an effort to learn a true purpose of this appointment. The more so that “Russian ambassador” Semyon Grigoryev is already working in Abkhazia.

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India’s arms mostly target Pakistan

India and China have never been serious military rivals. Never in history, other than the minor Sino-Indian Border Conflict of 1962, has India fought a sustained war with China. The probability of a future war between India and China is minimal. And that is so because the Great Himalayas run through the entire 3,380 km of the India-China border.

According to a report by Stratfor, the Texas-based private intelligence agency, “China has been seen as a threat to India, and simplistic models show them to be potential rivals. In fact, however, China and India might as well be on different planets. Their entire frontier runs through the highest elevations of the Himalayas. It would be impossible for a substantial army to fight its way through the few passes that exist, and it would be utterly impossible for either country to sustain an army there in the long term. The two countries are irrevocably walled off from each other.

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Medvedev: Military to counter US missile shield

The Russian military must prepare to counter U.S. missile defense plans in Europe even as talks between Moscow and Washington are ongoing, President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.

Medvedev told a meeting of Russia’s top military brass that the country “isn’t shutting the door to dialogue,” but nevertheless must get ready to take military countermeasures.

The U.S. says the NATO missile defense plan is aimed at deflecting potential missile threats from Iran, but Moscow fears that in the next few years it will grow powerful enough to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

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Pentagon war game forecasts U.S. would be pulled into a new war if Israel strikes Iran

A classified Pentagon war game this month forecast that an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would likely draw the United States into a wider regional war in which hundreds of American forces could be killed, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The war games’ results have “raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran,” the Times Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker wrote.

Defense experts said the reported war games results are another attempted warning signal to Israel not to go it alone or risk harming relations with the United States.

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Russia Is Reportedly Sending 20,000 To 25,000 Troops To Its Southern Regions

Multiple unconfirmed reports have suggested that Russia is sending between 20,000 and 25,000 federal troops to its southern region of Dagestan.

The reports come from Moscow-based analyst group Caucasian Knot and Dagestan-based news group Chernovik, who cited local police officials and reports of a large convoy seen en-route.

Official sources are confirming a smaller movement of troops.

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Global Intelligence & Information Grid Goes Online: DI2E framework aims for streamlined intelligence sharing

If everything goes according to plan, sometime in the next few years the Defense Department and intelligence community members will begin reaping the benefits of a common cross-agency environment that’s designed to help users access and use a wide range of essential intelligence resources.

The planned Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise (DI2E) framework seeks to integrate currently disconnected systems, information, teams, tools and other technologies into a tightly unified environment. The common system will enable users to securely add, access and share information and other intelligence resources anytime, anywhere.

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Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria

A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was “a bomb” certain to have serious repercussions.

Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest allies despite international condemnation of the government’s violent crackdown on the country’s uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council’s attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war.

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Pakistani Generals Conjure up a New Terror body

Pakistan seems to be back with its old ways. Its policy of using terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy continues with regard to India. This is despite the right noises made recently by Pakistan in granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India in trade by this year end and invigorating bilateral trade ties in a big way. Though Pakistan seems to have dumped its “Kashmir first, trade later” policy for good, the Pakistani Generals are focused on another ‘T’ – Terror.

Terrorist and extremist groups and leaders, guilty of several terrorist attacks, hosting Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida and killing hundreds of minorities in Pakistan, are now staging a major comeback with the backing of ISI and Pakistan Army.

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BRICS Bank Could Change the Money Game

India’s proposal to set up a bank of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will top the agenda at the summit of the group in New Delhi Mar. 28.

India believes a joint bank would be in line with the growing economic power of the five-nation group. The bank could firm up the position of BRICS as a powerful player in global decision-making.

“The BRICS bank does not need much capital for a start,” Alexander Appokin, senior expert at the Moscow- based Centre for Macroeconomic Analysis and Forecasting tells IPS. “What is more important is that the BRICS development bank presents a unique opportunity for indirect investment of central bank foreign reserves inside the countries.”

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Think tank: US intervention in Syria could require 300K troops, cost $300 billion

A think tank report says that U.S. intervention in Syria involving on-the-ground forces could require between 200,000 and 300,000 troops and cost up to $300 billion per year to be executed properly.

While no one is advocating a strategy involving an invasion, the report from the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy highlights the difficulties of accomplishing the Obama administration’s goal of removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

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Russia Hosts Eurasian Union Summit

Heads of state from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine are among those gathering for a regular summit of the Eurasian Union in Moscow.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said further economic integration among states of the former Soviet Union will be discussed.

According to ITAR-TASS, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will attend as an observer.

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India World’s Top Arms Importer – SIPRI

India has topped a rating of the world’s largest heavy arms importers, released on Monday by the independent Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), researching into conflicts, arms control and disarmament.

According to the report, India, the largest arms recipient, accounted for 10 percent of global arms imports between 2007 and 2011. Among the most significant contracts signed by India is the purchase of 120 Russian Su-30MK multirole combat aircraft, 29 Mig-29Ks and 20 British Jaguar fighters.

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US navy to position three aircraft carriers near Iran

The US navy will have three aircraft carriers positioned near Iran in the coming days, and is doubling the number of minesweeping ships and helicopters based in the Gulf.

Israel, meanwhile, is keeping up rhetoric that makes many think the Jewish state — the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, which is not involved in the talks — is serious about possibly attacking Iran, with or without US support.

A majority of Israel’s 14-member security cabinet now supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in launching a pre-emptive strike on Iran in a bid to end its nuclear programme, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Thursday, citing political sources it did not identify.

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The presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau marred by an assassination

The former head of military intelligence of Guinea Bissau was assassinated a few hours after the first round of the presidential election, which he apparently took place Sunday in calm, we learn of a security source.

Colonel Samba Diallo was shot by soldiers in a bar near his home late Sunday night, state witnesses. He was removed from office and temporarily imprisoned after a coup within the military that led to the shelving of the Chief of Staff Jose Zamora Induta in April 2010.

The presidential election was held after the death, on January 9 in a Paris hospital, the Head of State, Malam Bacai Sanha. It purports to permit the former Portuguese colony of West Africa to the history dotted with military coups, to consolidate its political stability.

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Saudi sends military gear to Syria rebels: diplomat

Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels in an effort to stop bloodshed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a top Arab diplomat said on Saturday.

“Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“This is a Saudi initiative to stop the massacres in Syria,” he added, saying that further “details will follow at a later time.”

The announcement came two days after the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom said it had shut down its embassy in Syria and withdrawn all its staff.

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Argentina plans ‘civil and criminal’ actions against oil companies exploring in Falklands

Argentina is intensifying its campaign to block oil development in the Falkland Islands, announcing on Thursday it will pursue “administrative, civil and criminal” penalties against the dozens of companies involved.

“We are going to defend the resources of the South Atlantic, which are the property of all the Argentines,” Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said at a news conference. He said that includes any oil found off the shores of the islands they call the Malvinas, which have been controlled by Britain since 1833.

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Canada bails out of NATO airborne surveillance programs

The Canadian Forces hope to save $90 million a year by pulling out of NATO programs operating unmanned aerial vehicles as well as airborne early warning planes, according to documents obtained by the Citizen.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay gave U.S. officials a heads-up last year about the withdrawal, pointing out that it will free up 142 Canadians assigned to NATO for new jobs, the documents show.

The shutdown of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s airborne warning aircraft, known as AWACS, will save about $50 million a year, according to the records obtained under the Access to Information law.

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To the Chinese and the Indians go … the spoils of war

The money and blood pit that is Afghanistan – where the United States and Britain have spent more than 2100 lives and £302 billion ($580 billion) – is about to pay a dividend.

But it won’t be going to the countries which have made this considerable sacrifice. The contracts to open up Afghanistan’s mineral and fossil-fuel wealth, and to build the railways that will transport it out of the country, are being won or pursued by China, India, Iran, and Russia.

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Yemen’s New President Is Facing Unrest in the South

For all the challenges that Yemen’s new president faces, none may be more imperative than the unsettled state of the south, where many are eager for secession and a security breach has allowed an Al Qaeda affiliate to grow strong.

The president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has moved quickly to try to shore up the south amid rising violence and political uncertainty. He appointed a new head of security and a new governor for the southern province of Aden, as well as a new commander of the southern military force. But residents of the south say that while shifting personnel may help in the long term, the crisis needs to be addressed more aggressively now.

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Chinese foreign minister on Beijing’s firm foothold in Africa

China’s burgeoning influence around the world has reshaped global affairs, not least, the economic and political issues. In a recent interview with more than 500 journalists at the Great Hall of the People, China’s Foreign Affairs minister Yang Jiechi spoke on a wide range of issues and underlined his country’s foreign policy and external relations.

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Japan may shoot down North Korean rocket

The last time this happened, when North Korea said it was launching a satellite using a long-range missile, Japan said it had the right to shoot the thing down.

Tokyo is again considering a similar warning, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing unidentified government officials.

An attempted satellite launch in 2009 — like a similar effort in 1998 — were widely declared to be failures, with the payloads crashing into the Pacific Ocean. But North Korea insists one of the satellites went into full orbit, where it remains today, broadcasting patriotic anthems.

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Iran claims to have domestically produced drone

Less than four months after confiscating a US drone that went down in its territory, Iran has domestically produced a new unmanned aerial vehicle called the Shaparak (Moth), Iranian state-owned news agency Press TV reported on Saturday.

The drone has an operational radius of 50 kilometers and a flight ceiling of 4,572 meters, Press TV quoted Reza Danandeh Hakamabad, the aeronautics engineer in charge of the project, as saying on Friday.

He added that the aircraft has the capability to fly non-stop for three and a half hours and can carry an 8 kilogram payload.

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Spies could use your TV to snoop on you, according to CIA director David Petraeus

Spies could now snoop on you through your TV, dispensing with the necessity of planting bugs in your room, according to CIA director David Petraeus.

The CIA says it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home, Petraeus added.

Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells, according to the Daily Mail.

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New Chinese central banker worth watching

With China’s economy slowing, expect the PBoC to weigh in with rate cuts and further easing on the level of assets commercial banks need to deposit with it.

In the meantime, the central bank of the world’s second biggest economy has just appointed three new members to its monetary policy committee.

All three are highly regarded economic professors from China’s most prestigious universities. One of them is Professor Qian Yingyi, a Harvard educated economist who had a tenured professorship at UC Berkeley in the ‘States.

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Turkey may consider buffer zone at tense Syrian border

Turkey is doing its best to facilitate the accommodation of terrified Syrians fleeing the violence in their country at refugee camps in Hatay province, but may consider the creation of a buffer zone if it is deemed necessary, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has said.

Atalay, who spoke to the NTV news station on Thursday, said 1,100 people from Syria have entered Hatay in the last 24 hours, adding that more are expected to come as the Syrian army is believed to be preparing to storm nearby villages in the city of Idlib, which saw a bloody massacre take place over the last few days. “Currently, there are more than 15,000 Syrian citizens in Turkey,” he said.

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Chinese Regime Indirectly Admits Organ Harvesting: Bioethics Professor

Professor Arthur Caplan heads the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He said on Tuesday that China’s Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu may have confirmed what some rights group have long suspected—that the Chinese regime has been harvesting organs from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners as part of the regime’s persecution of the spiritual practice.
Huang acknowledged last week that executed prisoners remained the primary source of organs for the country’s expanding organ transplant industry.
[Professor Arthur Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania]:
“I found it startling, because no one has actually said anything from that official source that high up about the use of prisoners.”

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Army Tests Menu Of Battlefield Intelligence Apps

The Army is developing a new Web-based system that allows soldiers to download real-time intelligence applications and information from laptops in the field.

The Army likened the new system to an app store that allows soldiers to use a battlefield communications network to access and download applications that combine real-time operations data and intelligence collected by the military, according to an article on the Army website.

The Army will test the system–part of its fusion of networking capabilities to support what it calls “ops-intel” convergence–during the next Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) in May.

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CIA chief holds closed-door meeting on Syria with Turkish prime minister

Top U.S. officials are reaching out to American allies in the Mideast to get a better read on the escalating crisis in Syria.

CIA chief David Petraeus on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss the violent crackdown by Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad on anti-government forces, according to Agence France-Presse.

U.S. embassy spokesman T.J. Grubisha said Petraeus met with Erdoğan and Turkish National Intelligence Organization chief Hakan Fidan and “discussed areas of mutual concern, including regional security issues and counter-terrorism cooperation.”

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Iranian intelligence agents detained in Azerbaijan

As a result of a special operation conducted by the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security, a group of 22 individuals was revealed and detained. It is accused of espionage activity against Azerbaijan on the instructions of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the public relations department at the Ministry told Trend today.

Thus, the citizens of Azerbaijan – Kerimov Niazi, Aliyev Mubariz, Tagiyev Elman, Jalilov Nusrat, Gasimov Rahim, Zekiev Mammadtagi, Gashimov Bahram, Abbasov Ayaz, Abbasov Afgan, Mamedov Shahin, Agayev Miralesker, Zulfugarov Rovshan, Alekperov Gamidaga, Gasimov Seymour, Rasulov Taleh, Gabibov Jeyhun, Kerimov Elchin, Mammadov Zahid and others were brought by IRGC to a secret cooperation. While carrying out espionage activity on the instructions of the organization, they collected and delivered information to use it against Azerbaijan’s national security.

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Indian Air Force to convert Kargil Airport into air base

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday said the IAF is planning to convert Kargil airport into a full-fledged air force base in the state.

“Indian Air Force is planning to convert Kargil airport into a full-fledged air force base in Jammu and Kashmir,” state Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather told the legislative Assembly in reply to a query of PDP member Peerzada Mansoor Hussain.

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Israeli warships pass though Suez canal

Two Israeli naval vessels passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Tuesday, headed from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, Israeli and Egyptian sources said.

“It was routine, they were on their way to Eilat” where Israel has its Red Sea naval base, an Israeli security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A source at the Canal Authority named the vessels as the Lahav and the Yafo, without giving their size or type.

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China’s Force Multipliers?

China’s penchant for breaching technological barriers has been in the news and is frequently being discussed in many forums. It is obvious that China’s “Peaceful Development” has more to do with preparing for higher levels of war in many theatres while declaring to the world that it means peace. Unfortunately for China there are not many takers for this declaration amongst the comity of nations, where China seems to have more adversaries than friends.

There has been plenty of speculation about whether some of the critical technologies would indeed be game changers in any future conflict. This paper seeks to examine some of the critical technologies where there is demonstrated potential to be game changers. The hype and overestimation of how this would tilt the balance of power in favour of China is largely due to a lack of understanding of the present state of such developments, gestation period prior to operationalisation and the limitations thereof. Let us look at them one by one.

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Sri Lanka’s sinister white van abductions

All sorts of people are disappearing, but many of them appear to have been at loggerheads with the authorities.

As well as human rights workers and ordinary businessmen, those who have disappeared include some accused of being part of organised crime networks or the so-called “underworld”.

Campaigners are privately pointing the finger at pro-government forces and security personnel. But the government and security forces deny being responsible for disappearances.

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Exclusive: U.S. dangles secret data for Russia missile shield approval

VBO is at the heart of what Russia wants as the price for its cooperation, said Riki Ellison, head of the private Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, who has close ties to missile defense and military officials.

VBO tells how fast an interceptor is going when its rocket-booster motor fuel is spent and the motor burns out.

With VBO and certain other technical data, Moscow could more readily develop countermeasures and strategies to defeat the system and transfer the information to others, Ellison said.

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How Iran Risks Another Chernobyl

Russia’s relations with the “near abroad” – those countries it considers directly under its sphere of influence and manipulation – is a relic of the country’s long history of buffering the heartland from external threats through conquered vassal states. The Russian Federation’s nuclear cooperation with Iran, epitomized by the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, is no different.

Scratch beneath the surface of the Bushehr project and you soon encounter dysfunctionality and safety concerns that echo back to Russia’s own nuclear facilities, which include 11 Chernobyl-type reactors operating to this day, 26 years after the accident. An even closer look lays bare a smoldering core of safety problems – problems that go largely unnoticed because international attention is so often focused on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons development efforts.

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8 Creepy Spy Technologies That Can Be Hitched to Your Neighborhood Drones

AlterNet has assembled an incomplete list of spy technologies and surveillance programs, military and civilian, that can take to the air on drones. Here are eight things that could potentially be strapped to the UAV that may be flying over your head in the next few years.

1. WiFi and phone hacking: The Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform (WASP) can break into WiFi networks and hack cell phones, according to Forbes. Jerry-rigged from an old army drone by two former military network security analysts, the spy plane comes with a Linux system and dictionary to help generate password-cracking words.

Plus, its antennas mimic cell phone towers, allowing the machine, allegedly, to tap into cell phone conversations and access text messages. “Ideally, the target won’t even know he’s being spied on,” one of the designers told Forbes.

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DARPA wants swarms of “disposable” satellites to provide almost-live images on demand

DARPA, the United States’ defense technology research agency that’s created such notable projects as the Internet you’re using right this moment, is now looking for help in creating a swarm of “disposable” eyes in the sky. It is seeking technical assistance from a wide range of fields – from auto racing to optics – to create the means to provide on-demand satellite imagery for troops on the front lines.

The agency’s SeeMe program (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements) aims to achieve what currently available military and commercial satellites cannot – near real-time satellite images of an area that could be used to plan military missions from the field.

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Inside China’s secret ‘black jails’

China is set to pass a landmark criminal procedure law to provide more rights to detainees, including rendering all evidence collected under torture unusable, granting suspects immediate access to a lawyer, and obliging authorities to tell families within 24 hours of a relative’s detention.

But for those held in China’s so-called ‘black jails’ – secret detention centres where people are kept without charge and without having been formally arrested – what is written in law can be very different to what happens on the ground.

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India-Iran oil corridor part of new great game

India is making a concerted push into Central Asia by taking charge of a crucial transportation network through Iran into Central Asia and beyond. After getting an enthusiastic thumbs up from 14 stakeholder countries in the region in January, experts from all the countries will meet in New Delhi on March 29 to put final touches to the project known as the International North-South Corridor.

The project envisages a multi-modal transportation network that connects ports on India’s west coast to Bandar Abbas in Iran, then overland to Bandar Anzali port on the Caspian Sea; thence through Rasht and Astara on the Azerbaijan border onwards to Kazakhstan, and further onwards towards Russia. Once complete, this would connect Europe and Asia in a unique way — experts estimate the distance could be covered in 25-30 days in what currently takes 45-60 days through the Suez Canal.

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CSTO Troops Will Be Deployed in Armenia Silently

The CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha has arrived in Armenia to discuss issues relating to the new strategy and planning of the CSTO with the Armenian leadership. A few days ago, Nikolay Bordyuzha stated that the CSTO is discussing the issue of the use of a mechanism of the CSTO Rapid Reaction Forces to participate in the preservation of public order in the member states.

He said that mechanisms are required for the CSTO to use its potential to restore public order in member states if the leadership of the countries fails. Now he is in Yerevan, discussing the new strategy of the CSTO, including the future exercise of the CSTO Rapid Reaction Forces in Armenia.

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Secret SAS squadron sent to spy in Africa

A SECRET squadron of Australian SAS soldiers has been operating at large in Africa, performing work normally done by spies, in an unannounced and possibly dangerous expansion of Australia’s foreign military engagement.

The deployment of the SAS’s 4 Squadron – the existence of which has never been publicly confirmed – has put the special forces unit at the outer reaches of Australian and international law.

The Age has confirmed that troopers from the squadron have mounted dozens of secret operations over the past year in African nations including Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya.

They have been out of uniform and not accompanied by Australian Secret Intelligence Service officers with whom undercover SAS forces are conventionally deployed.

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New police surveillance drones could be armed with nonlethal weapons

As a Texas sheriff prepares to use an unmanned drone as his force’s eye in the sky, and perhaps even arm it with nonlethal weapons like Tasers and rubber bullets, civil liberties groups are crying foul.

In the coming weeks, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office north of Houston says it will deploy a $300,000 ShadowHawk drone — bought with a federal homeland security grant — to spy on criminals, support SWAT operations and look for missing persons.

The unmanned helicopter is about the size of a large dog, has a range of 25 miles and can be operated for 11 percent of the cost of a manned helicopter, according to the ShadowHawk’s manufacturer, Vanguard Defense Industries.

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Narco-States: Africa’s Next Menace

Since emerging as Africa’s first narco-state in the mid 2000s, Guinea Bissau’s slide toward instability has been swift and precipitous. The homicide rate has spiked by 25 percent and is now nearly three times the global average. Meanwhile, poverty levels have remained near the very bottom of world rankings. Over the last five years its score on the well known “Failed States Index” has plunged more than any other country.

Cocaine traffickers, mostly from South America, first visited this sleepy West African country almost a decade ago. Guinea Bissau offered a backdoor route into the booming European cocaine market and was virtually risk free on account of its weak, easily corruptible government agencies. Co-optation, after all, is the preferred method of South America’s drug cartels.

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Marketing to Your DNA: The Suits Want To Know More About You

The potential for DNA marketing was presented yesterday at SXSW by Paul Saarinen, of the agency Yamamoto in Minneapolis, and Dr. Scott Fahrenkrug of the University of Minnesota (Disclosure. I wasn’t there and rely on the Social Media Today report for the detail).

Rohan Jay Miller, author, explains:

“If a company could access your DNA and could find out you like bitter tastes or are lactose intolerant they could market very specifically to your tastes. Sequencing a person DNA used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the cost is dropping dramatically. Today it costs $1,000 to sequence your DNA, which provides about a million points of data about your body.”

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