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Archive | April, 2012

Kashmir’s blue sapphire mines on spy agency’s radar

An Indian espionage agency keeping tabs on terrorism modules operating from Pakistan is nowadays “eyeing” Kashmir’s world-famous blue sapphires.

Intercepts of snatches of conversation between unknown persons in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir about mining operations at Padder sapphire mines in Doda district have put these on the spy agency’s radar.

Sketchy conversations are related to the volume of the sapphire mining business and details of domestic and foreign players in the race to win the “golden opportunity” to mine the expensive gemstones, sources told The Tribune.

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Spain confirmed in recession as austerity bites

Spain sank into recession in the first quarter and economists said spending cuts aimed at meeting strict EU deficit limits, together with a reeling bank sector, would delay any return to growth until late this year or beyond.

It is the second recession in just over two years for the euro zone’s fourth largest economy and comes as the government tries to convince investors it will not need outside aid to put its house in order.

The country is caught between pressure from its European peers to fix public finances and growing domestic resistance to austerity measures that have helped push unemployment to more than double the EU average.

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USARAF: U.S. Soldiers ‘train the trainer’ in Africa

“The AMISON mission is a shift from peacekeeping operation to a more kinetic-oriented operation, and these changes require a different approach to training and preparation,” Buzzurro said. “Our mentoring team brings combat experience from both Iraq and Afghanistan which combined with the instruction of the ACOTA program enhances the capabilities of the unit to accomplish its mission.”

ACOTA is a State Department, Bureau of African Affairs Program that originated in 1997 to enhance the capacities and capabilities of its African Partner Countries, regional institutions, and the continent’s peacekeeping resources as a whole so they can plan for, train, deploy, and sustain sufficient quantities of professionally competent peacekeepers to meet conflict transformation requirements with minimal non-African assistance.

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Letter signals US may sell Taiwan new fighter jets

A lawmaker yesterday suggested the government look into reports that the United States is considering selling new fighter aircraft to Taiwan.

The military might as well explore the possibility of submitting a “letter of request” to Washington on the matter, said Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), convener of the Legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committees.
In its reply to a letter to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, the White House on Friday said it would seriously consider selling new U.S. fighter jets to Taiwan to close a gap in air power with China.

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EU Readying ‘Marshall Plan For Europe’: Report

The European Commission is preparing a €200 billion “pact for growth” to be presented at the next EU summit in June.

According to leading Spanish newspaper, El País, the plan aims to raise funds valued at €200 billion for investments in infrastructure, renewable energies and advanced technologies with the involvement of the private sector, in a bid to kick-start economic growth without raising public debt in the 27 member states.

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China-Russia relations reach new heights

Cooperation between China and Russia has huge potential, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said in Moscow yesterday.

“The China-Russia all-around strategic partnership is unprecedented at the moment, and I believe the cooperation between the two countries could reach a new high, as there is a wide range of areas that we could jointly develop,” said Li during his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“Of course, the way ahead is always not smooth, but we are good neighbours, good friends and good partners.”

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Increased U.S. military presence prompts unease in Philippines

The squad from the U.S. Army’s 196th Infantry Brigade was moving quietly through the hills of Luzon Island when the staccato bursts of machine gun fire sent them into action.

About a dozen soldiers fired into the surrounding mountains, while a small contingent broke away to make a direct assault on the hidden gunmen. After a brief, intense gun battle, the squad cleared the area.

The firefight was part of joint military exercises in which the message, at least in part, appeared to be clear despite proclamations to the contrary.

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S. Korea, US to form nuke attack contingency plan

The South Korean and US militaries will develop operational scenarios for possible nuclear attacks by North Korea as part of their efforts to improve the ability to respond to weapons of mass destruction, the Ministry of National Defence said Friday.

The scenarios will be discussed at a bilateral table-top exercise later this year aimed at political and military preparations for the North’s nuclear attacks.

The two sides also agreed to cooperate in conducting research and to hold seminars for high-level decision makers in relation to the issue at the first Korea-US Integrated Defence Dialogue meeting that was concluded on Friday in Washington.

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New US Stealth Fighters Now at Iran’s Back Door

America’s most sophisticated stealth jet fighters have been quietly deployed to an allied base less than 200 miles from Iran’s mainland, according to an industry report, but the Air Force adamantly denied the jets’ presence is a threat to the Middle East nation.

Multiple stealth F-22 Raptors, which have never been combat-tested, are in hangars at the United Arab Emirates’ Al Dafra Air Base, just a short hop over the Persian Gulf from Iran’s southern border, the trade publication Aviation Week reported.

Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. John Dorrian would not confirm the exact location of the F-22s, but told ABC News they had been deployed to a base in Southwest Asia — a region that includes the UAE. Dorrian also stressed that the F-22s were simply taking part in a scheduled deployment and are “not a threat to Iran.”

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New armed group takes control of Timbuktu

A new armed group on Friday tightened its grip on the Malian city of Timbuktu as the Tuareg rebels reached the center.

Members of the National Liberation Front of Azawad (FLNA), which was set up this month, on Thursday arrived in vehicles and seized control of entries to the east and south of the ancient city.

On Friday the group, which says it has neither a secessionist nor Islamist agenda, moved into Timbuktu’s central area.

“Around 100 vehicles full of armed FLNA fighters came today to the (central) Sans Fil area of Timbuktu. They are armed to the teeth,” said a Malian security source in the town.

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China’s space know-how said threat to U.S., Taiwan

China’s growing capabilities in space could undercut any U.S. military response if Beijing resorted to force to bring self-ruled Taiwan into its fold, a study released Friday by a congressionally mandated U.S. commission said.

China’s military is rapidly boosting its space programs to advance Communist Party interests “and defend against perceived challenges to sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the 84-page report by the Project 2049 Institute, a research group on Asia-Pacific security issues.

China has claimed Taiwan as its own since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and has vowed to bring the island under mainland rule, by force if necessary.

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Chinese Army vows to ‘safeguard’ territory in China Sea

The Chinese military has vowed to “fulfill their duty” to safeguard the South China Sea.
“China’s military forces will collaborate closely with related governing bodies, including fishery administration and maritime law enforcement, to jointly ensure the country’s maritime rights and interests,” the China Daily quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng, as saying.

This was the first official remark from the armed forces of China following a standoff with a Philippine warship in waters off China’s Huangyan Island on April 10.

Analysts claimed that the comments were also in response to growing domestic demand to ensure sovereignty in the South China Sea.

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Romanian government toppled, Czechs face test too

Romania’s opposition torpedoed the center-right cabinet in a confidence vote on Friday, raising the prospect of months of political turmoil and questions over a belt-tightening campaign that has caused a wave of protests against IMF-backed reforms.

Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s two-month-old government is the latest in a string of austerity-minded ruling coalitions that have fallen across the European Union in disputes over spending cuts and tax hikes.

The defeat came ahead of another confidence vote, in the Czech Republic, whose budget-cutting cabinet is expected to survive but may find itself hamstrung by infighting among its scandal-plagued parties and widespread public anger over its policies.

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Color revolutions won’t succeed in Post Soviet regions – Nazarbaev

The economy of Ukraine lost its leading positions due to color revolutions. Georgia lives on credits. All these make successful future of these countries doubtful. Kyrgyzstan has ongoing permanent revolution and livelihoods of people do not improve from that, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev said in an interview with the Russia-24 television channel.

When asked about risks of recurrence or continuation of color revolutions in the CIS region, Nursultan Nazarbaev said some attempt was observed after the presidential elections in Russia, but color revolutions, their first wave, lost their strength, since the population of the post-Soviet countries became cold eyed.

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Turkey and China host biggest EU outposts

Staff numbers at embassies highlight EU interest in Turkey, China, the Western Balkans and in multilateral bodies, as well as member states’ ongoing reliance on bilateral diplomacy.

The EU’s top 10 delegations in terms of staff numbers are: Ankara (137), Beijing/Hong Kong (116), Moscow (102), Belgrade (100), Tel Aviv/Ramallah (97), Kiev (93), Sarajevo (92), New Delhi (87), Washington (86) and Nairobi (85). The EU also has 187 people posted to various branches of the UN, the WTO, the African Union, the OECD economic club and democracy watchdogs the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

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The Balkanization of Pakistan: Is Baluchistan the next to cede?

Way back in 2006, the eminent US think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a report titled, “Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism”. The report highlights the rich natural resources of Baluchistan and then makes the case to use Baluchi rebels against Islamabad and Tehran. Furthermore, the US State Department-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Voice of Baluchistan (VOB) have been instrumental in fomenting dissension and nationalistic feelings. NED has been funding the Baluchistan Institute for Development (BIFD) which claims to be the leading resource on democracy, development and human rights in Baluchistan, whereas the VOB on the other hand, has been active in carrying propaganda messages on behalf of the American government. Also, there is the Baluchi Society of North America’s, which openly carries messages of support from Rohrabacher. Over the past few years, the US has also been pressing Pakistan to allow it to open a consulate in Quetta the capital of Baluchistan.

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The rise of Turkey as a superpower

Turkey’s rise has been engineered by its brilliant, proud, and often prickly prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A devout Muslim, Erdogan has revolutionized Turkish politics by challenging his country’s historic commitment to secularism and introducing a greater role for Islam in Turkish politics. Under his leadership, Turkey was, for a time, the only country that managed decent relations with all the regional powers, including Israel, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

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Sudan at the brink: Hidden hands behind the oil war

Sudan is caught in a multidimensional conflict involving weapons trade, internal instabilities, multiple civil wars and the reality of outside players with their own interests.

None of this is enough to excuse the readiness for war on behalf of Khartoum and Juba, but it certainly presents serious obstacles to any attempt aimed at rectifying the situation.

With a single act of aggression, a whole set of conflicts are prone to flaring up. It is the nature of proxy politics, as many armed groups seek opportunities for territorial advances and financial gains.

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Europe’s Collapse Is Becoming Inevitable

For the first time in the history of the European Union, the collapse of the EU has become a realistic scenario. This was stated by the Chairman of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. Speaking before the board of commissioners, Schulz drew their attention to the fact that the leaders of EU member states are not satisfied with the method of communitarian decision-making in favor of their “re-nationalization”.

Schultz expressed concern over the calls in France and Germany to restore border controls in the Schengen area and the growth of xenophobia in the EU.

Financier George Soros also predicted the imminent end of the euro and the European Union in general. In an interview with the French Le Figaro, Soros has compared the crisis in the European Zone with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Syrian ‘transitional government’ set up in Paris: exile

Exiled Syrian businessman Nofal Dawalibi announced in Paris on Thursday the setting up of a “transitional government to answer the needs of the Syrian opposition”, AFP reported.

“The situation in Syria is getting worse every day. Chaos is rising,” said Dawalibi, whose father Maarrouf was Syrian prime minister before President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party took power in 1963.

“We have decided to replace existing structures with a purely executive structure which coordinates the operations of the divisions fighting for freedom and follows the will of the sovereign Syrian people,” he told reporters.

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Brain scans of small group of people can predict actions of entire populations

Brain scans of a small group of people can predict the actions of entire populations, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Oregon and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The findings are relevant to political advertising, commercial market research and public health campaigns, and broaden the use of brain imaging from a diagnostic to a predictive tool.

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Civil Unrest Leads Aon to Downgrade 37 Countries on Political Risk Map

Aon Risk Solutions, the global risk management business of Aon plc, has just issued its latest political risk map, which gauges the level of risk for international business in more than 200 countries. Aon said “37 countries were downgraded in the Aon 2012 Terrorism & Political Violence Map, largely due to civil unrest.”

The principle reason for the downgrades is linked to the “continued effects of the global economic crisis,” Aon said, “as austerity measures and spending cuts took hold, civil unrest, riots, strikes and student protests were witnessed across large parts of Europe.”

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West Africa bloc to send troops to coup-hit Bissau: sources

West African regional bloc ECOWAS plans to send more than 600 troops to Guinea-Bissau in coming days to protect institutions and political figures after a military coup there, a senior ECOWAS source and another informed official said on Wednesday.

If ECOWAS follows through, the move risks triggering renewed conflict in the impoverished nation since the military junta that seized power on April 12 has warned it would treat any foreign troops dispatched to Guinea-Bissau as occupiers.

A regional security force in Guinea-Bissau could provide the country’s politicians cover to form a caretaker government and create a fresh roadmap to democratic elections.

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Greece and 6 other NATO Countries To Join U.S. in Schriever CyberWargame

“The Schriever Wargame, set in the year 2023, will explore critical space issues and investigate the integration activities of multiple agencies associated with space systems and services. Schriever Wargame 2012 will also include international partners from Australia, Canada and the U.K.,” said a press release from U.S. Air Force Space Command.

“This is a significant development in what was predominately a U.S. event and reflects the need to cooperate and share information to develop future capabilities that benefit NATO collectively,” a NATO official said.

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China newspaper warns of ‘small-scale war’ with Philippines

One of China’s most popular newspapers has warned of a potential “small-scale war” between Beijing and Manila as a result of their standoff at Panatag Shoal, or Scarborough Shoal as the area is known internationally.

The Global Times, in an editorial published in its Chinese and English editions, said over the weekend that “China should be prepared to engage in a small-scale war at sea with the Philippines”.

“Once the war erupts, China must take resolute action to deliver a clear message to the outside world that it does not want a war, but definitely has no fear of it,” the tabloid said.

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Azerbaijan & Armenia Locked in Conflict After Breach of Ceasefire

On April 25, Azeri troops shelled the village of Doveg, Armenia’s Tavush province.

As a village administration representative Manya Sarukhanyan, told PanARMENIAN.Net Azeri troops have been shelling the village from 11 am to 12 pm local time.

Local school and kindergarten students were immediately evacuated; the incident was reported to commanders of a regional regiment, who’ve already arrived at the site to take necessary measures.

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U.K. Succumbs to First Double-Dip Recession Since 1970s: Economy

The U.K. economy shrank in the first quarter as Britain slid into its first double-dip recession since the 1970s, forcing Prime Minister David Cameron to defend his spending cuts in Parliament.

Gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, when it declined 0.3 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The median of 40 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for an increase of 0.1 percent. A technical recession is defined as two straight quarters of contraction.

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Tajikistan, Russia Inch Closer To Deal on Troop Presence

Russia and Tajikistan are getting closer to a deal that would extend the presence of Russian troops in the Central Asian nation beyond 2014, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

It is expected that the lease for the three Russian-controlled garrisons in the former Soviet republic neighboring Afghanistan will be extended by 49 years — a prospect first floated by outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in September.

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Deniable War Crimes?: Robots fighting wars could be blamed for mistakes on the battlefield

As militaries develop autonomous robotic warriors to replace humans on the battlefield, new ethical questions emerge. If a robot in combat has a hardware malfunction or programming glitch that causes it to kill civilians, do we blame the robot, or the humans who created and deployed it?

Some argue that robots do not have free will and therefore cannot be held morally accountable for their actions. But psychologists at the University of Washington are finding that people don’t have such a clear-cut view of humanoid robots.

The researchers’ latest results show that humans apply a moderate amount of morality and other human characteristics to robots that are equipped with social capabilities and are capable of harming humans.

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Russian Defense ministry tests electromagnetic weapon, might use it to suppress mass protests

Experts from the science and research center of Russia’s Defense Ministry are testing a unique electromagnetic weapon with non-lethal effects, Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

As the center’s director, Dmitry Soskov said, the weapon would be most effective in local conflicts, where there is no solid frontline. It would also be very useful while suppressing mass riots in cities.

“The new weapon is designed to have non-lethal effects on humans. It has a striking factor in the form of electromagnetic radiation of very high frequency. The directed ray causes intolerable pain,” Soskov said.

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Russia creates special Arctic troops

The Russian authorities have announced the formation of two dozen special border guard units in the Arctic. The strengthening of the Arctic borders will be implemented in the next eight years. The Defense Ministry promised to patch all the holes in the Arctic border formed in the post-Soviet years. The military presence will be strengthened by the ground troops.

Meanwhile, as noted by the Ministry of Defense, the unprotected border areas in the Arctic are frequented by foreign submarines belonging to the U.S. and the UK not particularly friendly towards Russia. Now these foreign visitors will be required to meet the eight new nuclear attack submarines of class “Severodvinsk”. These submarines are the first to join the Northern Fleet.

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FOIA: FBI and police free to launch spies in sky over US cities

The American skies may soon be full of drones after it was disclosed that domestic law enforcement agencies, from the FBI to local police, have been granted permission to deploy the unmanned aircraft.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show that more than 50 non-military organisations have asked to fly drone aircraft, many of which can carry cameras and surveillance equipment for spying, within the US.

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Facing bankruptcy, Detroit to spend $330K on Washington lobbyists

The mayor of Detroit has signed a $330,000 contract with a team of Washington lobbyists as he tries to save the city from bankruptcy.

The office of Mayor Dave Bing has employed Clark Hill, a law and lobby firm, to work on “funding for municipal government activities, including workforce development, education, public safety, transportation and housing,” according to public documents filed last week.

The city will pay Clark Hill a set fee of $330,000 for the contract, which will run until the end of the year, Deputy Detroit Mayor Kirk Lewis told The Hill.

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Iranian oil ministry hit by cyber-attack

Iran’s oil ministry has called a crisis meeting after its main website and internal communications system were hit by an apparent cyber-attack that forced authorities to cut off the country’s oil export terminal from the internet.

Local news agencies reported on Monday that a virus had struck the computer and communication systems of Iran’s main oil export facilities on Kharg Island as well as the internal network and the websites of its oil ministry and subsidiary organisations.

The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted ministry officials as saying an investigation was under way. “We are making plans to neutralise this cyber-attack,” said the deputy oil minister in charge of civil defence, Hamdollah Mohammadnejad.

The Kharg Island oil terminal, which exports 80% of the country’s daily 2.2m barrels, was hit by the virus, along with terminals on the islands of Gheshm and Kish.

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Philippines Deploys 2 More Warships to Scarborough Shoal, Urges Other Countries Against China

The Chinese-Filipino dispute over the islands in the South China Sea known internationally as Scarborough Shoal is entering its third week, and tensions between the two countries show no signs of dissipating.

The Filipino government is raising the stakes by sending more ships and a plane to the area it refers to as Panatag Shoal and which China calls Huangyan Island.

In China, China Youth Daily and other news outlets reported on Monday that the commander of the Philippine navy, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, told the Philippines’ ABS-CBN news that his country would dispatch two more warships and an anti-submarine airplane to Scarborough Shoal.

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ECOWAS moves against the endangered business of coup plotting

From a community once dominated by military heads of state, majority of whom came to power through the usurpation of constitutional order, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) is fast gaining a reputation of intolerance of undemocratic succession to power.

From mere rhetoric and handling of military and undemocratic usurpers with kid gloves, ECOWAS has indeed transformed into a community that is ready to go to war to restore constitutional order.

Barely weeks after sustained pressure, including threat of military intervention, caused a reversal of the forceful take over of government in Mali by elements of its military, the sub-regional body once again bared its fangs against the military junta in Guinea Bissau, which forced its way into power penultimate week.

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Pentagon creates new espionage unit

The Pentagon is planning to ramp up its spying operations against high-priority targets such as Iran under an intelligence reorganization approved last week by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, a senior defense official said Monday.

The newly created Defense Clandestine Service would work closely with the CIA to expand espionage operations overseas at a time when the missions of the agency and the military increasingly converge.

The defense official said the plan was developed in response to a classified study completed last year by the director of national intelligence that concluded that the military’s espionage efforts needed to be more focused on major targets outside war zones.

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Expert: Azerbaijan preparing for war against Iran

The exercises Azerbaijan conducted in the Caspian Sea in the period
from April 12 to 20 are preparations for a war against Iran, Nver
Davtyan, specialist in Iranian studies, told media on April 21.

The State Frontier Service of Armenia conducted tactical exercises
“Protection of the oil and gas recovery regions in the Azerbaijani
sector of the Caspian Sea, pipelines, organization of protection in
case of a threat to oil and gas platforms, rescue operations.”

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Over 400 killed in recent Sudan v Sudan oil battle

Sudanese forces killed hundreds of South Sudanese during a day-long battle for Sudan’s most important oil field Heglig, a senior official said on Sunday.

Nafie Ali Nafie, a top aide to President Omar al-Bashir, said the “death toll within the SPLA and mercenaries in [the] Heglig battle amounted to 400″, according to the Sudanese Media Centre which is close to the security apparatus.

It did not say how many Sudanese troops died and the army itself has released no casualty figures for either side.

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NATO to deploy more troops to Kosovo amid tensions

Germany will deploy a quick reaction force of several hundred troops to Kosovo to strengthen the NATO mission there amid heightened tensions ahead of next month’s election in neighboring Serbia, an official said Saturday.

About 550 German soldiers and 130 Austrian troops will be deployed to the region by May 1 at NATO’s request in a bid to strengthen its KFOR peacekeepers mission, said German Central command spokesman Hauke Bunks.

Serbia will hold parliamentary and local elections May 6, which could re-ignite tensions between minority ethnic Albanians and majority Serbs in northern Kosovo.

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Price of “Kurdistan’s” independence – oil agreement for 50 years?

During a visit of the head of the Kurdish regional government (KRG) in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, to Turkey the sides discussed a number of issues, including measures against terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which turned into a headache for both sides.

Most of the Kurdish leader’s meetings with officials from Turkey and a meeting with former Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi were held behind closed doors.

On the second day of his visit to Ankara after talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gul Barzani made not new, but this time more important statement.

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Taiwan plans to buy four warships from US: report

Taiwan plans to purchase four warships from the United States as part of the island’s efforts to modernise its forces and offset the perceived military threat from China, local media reported on Sunday.

The defence ministry briefed President Ma Ying-jeou on the proposed arms deal during a meeting last month and is prepared to set aside the budget next year, the United Daily News said, without specifying the cost.

The ministry declined to comment on the report.

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American troops deploy to Morocco

Troops from Texas, Utah, California and other states deployed to the northwest coast of Africa today to gather with a total of approximately 1,200 American troops in support of Task Force African Lion 2012, a U.S.-Moroccan military exercise.

These soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen will be conducting joint-combined training with the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and providing humanitarian assistance aid in the form of medical and dental care.

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Ministers ponder creation of EU super-president

Ideas kicking around in a reflection group of select EU foreign ministers include merging the roles of the EU Council and European Commission presidents.

A senior EU source told this website following a meeting of the club in the Val Duchesse stately home in Brussels on Thursday (19 April) that the new supremo would have more power than either Herman Van Rompuy or Jose Manuel Barroso do today but also more “democratic legitimacy” because he or she would be elected by MEPs.

In other reforms, the new figure would “streamline” the European Commission into a two-tier structure.

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South Sudan leader’s Beijing trip goes on amid tensions

The visit by South Sudan’s president to China was not rescheduled despite escalating tension between Sudan and South Sudan.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July after decades of civil war, but the two states never agreed on a border, how much the landlocked South should pay to transport its oil through Sudan and the division of national debt, among other issues.

Beijing will offer to mediate and ease the tension during Salva Kiir Mayardit’s April 23-28 visit and will try to ensure the safety and interests of Chinese people and assets in the two African countries, experts said.

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The New Hungarian Secret Police

TEK was created in September 2010 by a governmental decree, shortly after the Fidesz government took office. TEK exists outside the normal command structure of both the police and the security agencies. The Prime Minister directly names (and can fire) its head and only the interior minister stands between him and the direct command of the force. It is well known that the head of this force is a very close confidante of the Prime Minister.

TEK was set up as an anti-terror police unit within the interior ministry and given a budget of 10 billion forints (about $44 million) in a time of austerity. Since then, it has grown to nearly 900 employees in a country of 10.5 million people that is only as big as Indiana.

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New federal agency OFR stirs ‘Orwellian’ fears

It is the most powerful federal agency you’ve never heard of — and lawmakers from both parties on Thursday vowed to keep abreast of its astonishing growth and rein it in, if necessary.

The Office of Financial Research, or OFR, was created by the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul that President Obama signed into law in July 2010. Technically housed under the Treasury Department, the agency has until now received its funding not from the Congress, but directly from the Federal Reserve.

Starting in July, the OFR Fiscal Year 2013 budget, estimated at $158 million, will be funded entirely through assessments — also known as taxes — on bank-holding firms with consolidated assets worth at least $50 billion.

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Taiwan tests ‘China invasion’ scenario

Taiwan Thursday tested its ability to defend one of it largest air bases against Chinese invasion, a scenario experts insisted remained relevant in an age of missile and cyber attacks.

About 1,500 soldiers took part in the drill, part of the island’s biggest annual war game “Han Kuang (Han Glory) No 28″, at Hsinchu Air Base in the north of the island, home to dozens of French-made Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets.

“Radars have detected enemy aircraft approaching from across the Taiwan Strait,” an officer told foreign and local journalists invited to report on the event.

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South Korea Deploys Hyunmu-3C Missile For Strikes Within NK Territory

South Korea has deployed a new long-range cruise missile that puts nuclear and missile sites in the entire North Korean territory within striking distance, defense ministry officials said Thursday, amid growing security jitters sparked by the North’s botched rocket launch.

The new, home-grown cruise missile has a range of “more than 1,000 kilometers and can immediately strike anywhere in North Korea,” said Maj. Gen. Shin Won-sik, the senior official in charge of policy planning at the ministry.

“While maintaining unwavering readiness with this longer-range weaponry, our military will firmly and thoroughly retaliate if North Korea conducts a reckless provocation.”

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Bo Xilai Purge Gathers Momentum with Military-Led ‘Inquisition’

In what may be a crucial development in the Bo Xilai affair, the Chinese military is conducting internal investigations into the size and nature of Bo’s military influence.

Bo didn’t have any troops officially under his command. But he did have close relationships with the army, including in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

The South China Morning Post reports that on April 15, the Party’s Military Committee sent out five teams to investigate Bo’s influence in the Chengdu Military Region, in Sichuan. The military unit in Yunnan, once led by Bo’s father, has also reportedly been placed under investigation.

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A Military and Intelligence Clash Over Spy Satellites

In recent years, advances in commercially available technology have allowed private companies to develop satellites carrying high-resolution sensors and perform many of the surveillance tasks that were once the sole preserve of classified satellites owned and operated by the intelligence community. Two private companies already provide some of America’s spy satellite imagery, at far lower costs than government-owned satellites, according to current and former government and industry officials and outside analysts.

But at the urging of senior intelligence officials, the Obama administration has proposed cutting the contracts for commercial satellite imagery in half next year — to about $250 million from $540 million — to help meet deficit reduction requirements, while bringing back more of the work inside the government, according to administration and Congressional officials and industry experts.

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Tiny Gulf islands rekindle big Arab-Iran dispute

here would seem to be enough points of tension to keep Iran and its Gulf Arab rivals fully occupied: Tehran’s nuclear program, accusations of Iranian meddling in Bahrain’s uprising, Iranian threats to block Gulf oil shipping lanes. But it’s all been overshadowed by three contested islands that Iran wants to turn into a tourist draw.

For more than a week, the political temperature has been rising since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a surprise visit to the Gulf outpost Abu Musa, the largest in the three-island cluster controlled by Iran but also claimed by the United Arab Emirates.

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China says considering sending observers to Syria

China said on Thursday it was considering sending observers to monitor a week-old truce in Syria that has so far failed to put an end to a year of bloodshed.

China is “seriously studying” the idea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said an expanded UN monitoring mission for Syria would be composed of “an initial deployment” of up to 300 unarmed observers who would supervise a fragile week-old ceasefire between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and opposition fighters seeking to oust him.

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Sarkozy calls for humanitarian corridors as Friends of Syria meet

Paris (dpa) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday renewed his calls for the establishment of humanitarian corridors in Syria as Western and Arab foreign ministers met in Paris to discuss continuing violations of a UN-brokered ceasefire.

Speaking to Europe 1 radio Sarkozy compared the plight of the opposition stronghold of Homs with the Libyan city of Benghazi, which world powers intervened to protect last year from a threatened massacre by dictator Moamer Gaddafi‘s forces.

“He (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) wants to wipe Homs off the map like Gaddafi wanted to wipe Benghazi off the map,” Sarkozy accused.

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Argentina’s Oil Takeover Ticks Off Spain and Mexico

Argentina’s takeover of its top energy company from Spain’s Repsol, in an effort to control its energy future, has provoked an avalanche of diplomatic protests and vows of retaliation from Spain and other affected parties like Mexico.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has made Spain furious by decreeing that her government will recover YPF SA, Repsol’s Argentine oil operations, by expropriating Repsol’s majority stake in the company.

President Fernández said the company hasn’t invested enough in the South American country and has rejected Repsol YPF’s demand for $10.5 billion in compensation. Argentina is still in the process of valuing its’ 51 percent of YPF’s shares and will not use estimates from Repsol, the Deputy Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said at a Senate hearing yesterday.

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Euro on brink of collapse: IMF

The crisis-hit euro is teetering on the brink of collapse, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

In a significant vote of no-confidence, Tuesday’s report from the global financial organisation admitted the troubled European single currency had “flaws” and was at risk of a “disorderly default and exit by a euro area member”.

And it warned that a euro meltdown could be even more devastating for the world economy than the 2008 credit crunch, the express.co.uk reported.

The admission in the World Economic Outlook from the IMF came amid renewed fears that Spain could soon follow Greece, Portugal and Ireland in accepting a multi-billion pound international bail-out.

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“Montenegro must get rid of Russian domination to join NATO”

The U.S. Atlantic Council delegation is visiting Montenegro in order to assess the country’s current results regarding fulfillment of conditions necessary to join NATO.

Montenegro is a part of the NATO membership action plan and Montenegrin officials expect NATO to confirm the country’s “membership perspective” at the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago.

Wilson stressed that the upcoming summit was not an enlargement summit and concluded that Montenegro “still has a lot of work to do” before it is invited to join NATO.

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US military intelligence critic to lead spy agency

A US general who once blasted the work of military spies in Afghanistan as “only marginally relevant” has been nominated to take over the Pentagon’s intelligence agency, officials said.

The decision to name Lieutenant General Michael Flynn suggests a possible shake-up of the sprawling Defense Intelligence Agency as the general has earned a reputation for pushing for dramatic change in his work with special forces.

Flynn was a scathing public critic of military intelligence in Afghanistan, where he served as a top intelligence officer in 2010, saying it failed to provide decision makers with a clear picture of conditions on the ground.

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Viet Nam, China army brass urge stronger defence ties

High-ranking army officers of Viet Nam and China have affirmed the importance of defence ties in the comprehensive co-operative strategic partnership between the two Parties and States.

The statement was made by Senior Lieutenant-General Do Ba Ty, chief of the General Staff of the Viet Nam People’s Army, and his Chinese counterpart Chen Bingde during talks in Beijing on Monday.

They expressed their pleasure at the development of the two countries’ defence ties, saying that the two sides had effectively implemented the protocol signed between the two defence ministries in 2003, along with other co-operative agreements.

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More U.S. cities set to enter default danger zone

America’s swelling ranks of fallen municipal borrowers have been blamed in the past year on ‘what-were-they-thinking’ causes, be it a Taj Mahal sewer system in Alabama or an overpriced trash incinerator in Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg.

But the next series of major cities and counties in danger of defaulting on their debt can hardly point to one single decision for their malaise. Whether it be Detroit, Miami or Providence, Rhode Island, their problems have a lot more to do with financial policies that put them on course to live well beyond their means.

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New Cold War for Resources Looms in Arctic

To the world’s military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea-lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.

By Arctic standards, the region is already buzzing with military activity, and experts believe that will increase significantly in the years ahead.

Last month, Norway wrapped up one of the largest Arctic maneuvers ever — Exercise Cold Response — with 16,300 troops from 14 countries training on the ice for everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats.

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The security situation in the SCO region is generally stable

On April 12, 2012, the Seventh Meeting of the Secretaries of the Security Councils of the SCO Member States was held in Beijing. Chinese State Councilor Meng Jianzhu chaired and spoke at the meeting.

Meng Jianzhu said that China is the rotating presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this year. The 7th Meeting of the Secretaries of the Security Councils of the SCO Member States, which marks the prelude to a series of SCO summits, has laid a solid foundation for the successful holding of the SCO summits this year and for the Organization to better perform the functions of safeguarding regional peace, security and stability in the next 10 years.

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Macedonia: Mysterious ‘army’ threatens ‘liberation of Albanian lands’

Tensions were high in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Tuesday, less than a week after the murder of five Macedonians near the capital of Skopje, as a mysterious “army” threatened a “liberation of occupied Albanian lands”

Recently unknown “The Army for Liberation of Occupied Albanian Lands”, in a statement published by Macedonian media, gave the government an ultimatum to withdraw in two weeks from what it called “occupied Albanians lands” or face reprisals.

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Uzbekistan & Tajikistan on the brink of war?

Without a mediator, the Tajik-Uzbek conflict could lead to another civil war in Tajikistan and to a serious destabilization of the whole of Central Asia. For Russia, this means it has to urgently develop a new strategy.

The relations between Dushanbe and Tashkent have worsened considerably lately and both countries are on the brink of open conflict as a result of this. Uzbekistan, knowing that Tajikistan is completely dependent on it has completely cut off the country from gas and transport. Tashkent claims that the blockade is purely economic: the Tajiks do not pay for the transit of gas and it is therefore more profitable to sell gas to the Chinese.

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‘Attempted military coup against Qatari regime fails’

A military coup was staged against the regime of US-backed Qatari King Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani with no success, a Saudi TV channel reports.

According to Al Arabiya TV, a number of high-ranking military officers rose against the Qatari Emir, triggering fierce clashes between some 30 military officers and US-backed royal guards outside the Emir’s palace, the report said on Tuesday.

The coup was foiled following the arrest of the officers involved in the effort.

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China, Russia plan naval exercises in Yellow Sea

State media say China and Russia will conduct a joint maritime drill next week in the Yellow Sea off China’s eastern coast.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday that the April 22-27 drill will focus on maritime defense and protection of navigation. It said it will involve 16 vessels, including destroyers, frigates, support and hospital ships and two submarines.

Xinhua said four warships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet have left Vladivostok for the exercise.

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‘China and Russia are clearly aiming to become larger powers’

The US is still No.1, with China second and Russia just behind. Isn’t that a shift in the balance?

Does change the balance but the US and China have for quite some time been the two largest spenders globally speaking. Russia is the one that this year is changing a little bit the old balance. Russia had a large increase in 2011, and is now number 3. The European countries have been facing in a different way their own economic problems, and I think that’s why in some cases the picture of Europe shows more weakened economies with large deficits in some countries and in some small countries the impact has been even larger in terms of cuts to the military budgets.

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Russian media: Moscow could deploy radar station in Tiraspol, in response to U.S. shield in Europe

Thus, the Russian leadership would intend to pay particular attention to Transnistria. “Given the proximity region with a NATO country – Romania – already four NATO bases and processes related to the integration of Moldova in Romania is increasing, the Russian Federation intends to maintain its military presence in Transnistria, moreover, suggests Voronezh radar installation, “added the sources cited.

On the other hand, the Russian Defense Ministry has said independent military Publication editor, Viktor Litovnik, had no plans to conduct a Voronezh-DM radar station in Transnistria. Head of the Moscow military decided to build such stations exclusively in Russia – Leningrad regions (north), Kaliningrad (west), the Armavir (south) and Irkutsk (east).

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United Russia: Russian Protesters Will Clean The Streets

A group of deputies of the State Duma on the party “United Russia” led by first deputy chairman of the Committee on Housing, Alexander Sidyakin made to the State Duma amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences (CAO).

The amendments require increased penalties for violations of the organization of street activities, from 10,000 to 100,000 rubles (3,400 dollars) for the organizers of the shares and 1,000 to 10,000 rubles ($ 340) – for the participants. Currently the maximum fine for such offenses is not more than 2000 rubles.

The bill also introduces an alternative punishment – mandatory work. Now they are provided only to the Penal Code (60 to 480 hours) for persons who have committed minor crimes. In the proposed Administrative Code to establish the period of compulsory work from 20 to 200 hours.

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Balochistan being pushed to civil war: Raisani

Balochistan Chief Minister Sardar Aslam Raisani has said the province is being pushed to civil war through a plan.

While chairing a meeting to review law and order situation in the province, Aslam Raisani said that the government would launch a targeted operation in Quetta for the restoration of peace.

Provincial Home Minister Zafarullah Zahri, Ali Madad Jatak, religious leaders and representatives of law enforcement agencies were also present on the occasion.

Raisani urged the religious leaders to play their role to normalize the situation in the province.

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US Army Africa(USARAF) conducts first AT/FP Level II training in Africa to U.S. personnel

Mike Miller, an AT/FP instructor with Department of the Air Force, said it is important to build relationships with the country team and regional security officers due to the unique situation in Africa. To conduct current and future operations, the country team and RSOs are utilized to help conduct joint exercises and other operations.

“Inside AFRICOM (Africa Command), both U.S. Army Africa and U.S. Air Force Africa’s unique mission faces security challenges, and force protection has to be in the forefront, and to do that successfully, you have to have a good relationship with both DoD in-country and DoS. It was an excellent opportunity to get some training for all those organizations,” Miller, a Chicago, Ill. native, said.

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National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency: Mapping Africa One Country at a Time

When the U.S. military wants to head into un-chartered, or minimally chartered territory, they call on the experts of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or the NGA. By compiling the most current satellite imagery, existing maps, and layers of data like roads, rivers, and towns they are able to create custom maps and imagery for specific locations or events.

Currently, two Geospatial Analysts from Stuttgart, Germany are mapping out the terrain for African Lion 2012 in southern Morocco. AL-12 is a bi-lateral exercise between U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa, the Utah National Guard, and the Kingdom of Morocco. It’s the 8th annual African Lion exercise in the country.

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Is NATO’s “Smart Defense” Program a Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

The NATO juggernaut is rolling forward to next month’s summit in Chicago. A key theme of the summit will be improvements to the Alliance’s capability to defend its members and meet evolving threats. NATO has promised concrete deliverables in Chicago including a long-term capability strategy for the so-called “Smart Defense” initiative which focuses on greater prioritization, specialization and cooperation among the NATO members so as to improve actual military capabilities. NATO has already announced that this strategy will consist of three parts: what is called a tangible package of multinational projects to address critical capability shortfalls; a set of longer-term multinational projects that include missile defense, Alliance ground surveillance and air policing; and, strategic projects for 2020 covering areas such as joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and air-to-air refueling.

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Russian Bombers Exercise Near Japan Border

Russia on Monday began a five-day aerial exercise in the country’s maritime territory near the Japanese border in which some 40 strategic bombers are taking part, the Defense Ministry said.

The long-range aviation exercise includes aerial bombings and launching of airborne cruise missiles from the Litovka test range, Russian state media quoted Ministry spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik as saying.

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Human brain to be built using supercomputer

“The complexity of the brain, with its billions of interconnected neurons, makes it hard for neuroscientists to truly understand how it works. Simulating it will make it much easier – allowing them to manipulate and measure any aspect of the brain,” he said.

Housed at a facility in Dusseldorf in Germany, the ‘brain’ will feature thousands of three-dimensional images built around a semi-circular ‘cockpit’ so scientists can virtually ‘fly’ around different areas and watch how they communicate with each other.

It aims to integrate all the neuroscience research being carried out all over the world – an estimated 60,000 scientific papers every year – into one platform.

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Taiwan stages anti-China military exercise

Taiwan has begun its annual military exercise to simulate fending off air attacks and troop landings by communist China.

The Defence Ministry said the five-day Han Kuang, or Chinese Glory, exercise began Monday at air bases and along the island’s coasts. It said thousands of troops will participate in the drills but there will be no live firing.

Instead, officials say, soldiers will use computers to simulate shooting down Chinese drones and aircraft targeting Taiwanese military bases. Chinese drone use is increasing as the country seeks to economize on troop use.

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IARPA: The Forecasting World Events Project

Forecasting World Events (FWE) is a nationwide research program funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Our study will investigate various aspects of individual and group predictions to gain fresh insights into the factors that influence people’s predictions about key world events and trends. In addition, we will look at ways to leverage and integrate this information to develop more accurate overall predictions.

The Project’s forecasting questions will be quite varied in subject matter and scope, spanning such domains as global security and politics, business and economics, public health, science and technology, and social and cultural change.

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New Tumult in Egypt’s Politics After Panel Bars 3 Candidates for President

CAIRO — Candidates in Egypt’s presidential race scrambled Sunday to find their footing in an increasingly slippery field as new questions emerged about whether Hosni Mubarak’s former spy chief would be allowed to compete.

A day after the presidential election commission knocked out of the race three of the five front-runners on various technical grounds — with just over a month until the voting begins — on Sunday it clarified that it had disqualified the former intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, because he had fallen just 31 short of the 30,000 notarized statements of endorsements required to enter the race. It was unclear whether his campaign would be allowed to make up the difference.

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The Special Collection Service: Inside the secret world of America’s top eavesdropping spies

The NSA, the intelligence arm of the United States responsible for eavesdropping and code breaking, weathered criticism and high-profile legal challenges in 2005 for its warrantless wiretapping program, and now we have a decent idea of the sophisticated and controversial methods the NSA employs to penetrate global telecommunications networks. Still in the shadows, however, is a secretive joint program with the Central Intelligence Agency codenamed F6, but better known as the Special Collection Service.

The men and women of the Special Collection Service are responsible for placing super-high-tech bugs in unbelievably hard-to-reach places.

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Russian warships to patrol Syrian coast

Russian warships will be continuously deployed for patrol duty off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean, a defence ministry official said on Friday.

“A decision has been made to deploy Russian warships near the Syrian shores on a permanent basis,” the official said.

Russia’s Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy is currently deployed near the Syrian coast.

“Another Black Sea Fleet ship will replace the Smetlivy in May,” the official said.

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Syrian strife hits Lebanese border villages

A few kilometres separate the two Lebanese villages of Ersal and Qaa from the Syrian border, both of which have been unwillingly drawn into the violence of the Syrian uprising. Unrest has been brewing in the region for weeks and recently it was on the receiving end of intermittent gunfire from the Syrian army. The situation remains tense despite the fragile new ceasefire.

Official sources are now reporting Syrian army incursions into Masharii Qaa (the Qaa Projects), a border town consisting of Ersal, a Sunni village, and Qaa, which is predominately Christian. Ersal supports Syrian opposition fighters, whom Qaa residents view with great suspicion.

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Spy games lurk behind China politics struggle

China’s Communist Party is undergoing a factional battle that involves allegations of murder, torture, betrayal and espionage.

CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: In today’s China the brutal and sometimes violent machinations of party politics are usually played out behind the scenes, but the Communist Party is now in the grip of a factional battle the likes of which hasn’t been seen for decades, and it’s dramatically public. It’s not just an ideological struggle but a tale of espionage, betrayal, torture and even murder – and whoever wins will determine the destiny of 1.5 billion people. China correspondent Stephen McDonnell has the story.

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China puts on show of might over Bo Xilai’s military allies

The People’s Liberation Army, which played a central role in helping the Communist Party win control of China in a long civil war before 1949, does not have a history of meddling in domestic politics.

But the fact that rumors of a military coup to rescue Bo circulated shortly after his downfall on March 15 was a reminder that the ambitious politician has long had good friends among the country’s top brass.

His father, Bo Yibo, was not only one of the “Eight Immortals,” the most senior first-generation Communist leaders, but also a veteran military leader in charge of military affairs in northern China as early as in the 1920s.

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Georgian billionaire storms K Street

A Georgian billionaire has taken Washington by storm, hiring more than half a dozen lobbying and public relations firms over the past three months.

Bidzina Ivanishvili wants to become an official candidate in the country’s first prime minister race and he hopes that U.S. pressure for free and fair elections will help, since that could be a step toward Georgia’s long-held goal of being recognized by NATO.

The lobbying push is massive — going beyond what most countries spend trying to influence Washington lawmakers, much less an individual.

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New U.S. ‘stealth’ warship could deploy in Asia, Navy says

An enormous, expensive and technology-laden warship that some Navy leaders once tried to kill because of its cost is now viewed as an important part of the Obama administration’s Asia-Pacific strategy, with advanced capabilities that the Navy’s top officer says represent the Navy’s future.

The stealthy, guided-missile Zumwalt that’s taking shape at Bath Iron Works is the biggest destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy.

The low-to-the-water warship will feature a wave-piercing hull, composite deckhouse, electric drive propulsion, advanced sonar, missiles, and powerful guns that fire rocket-propelled warheads as far as 100 miles. It’s also longer and heavier than existing destroyers — but will have half the crew because of automated systems.

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Georgia redesigns reserve troops

Georgia will have approximately 70,000 trained volunteer reservists in summer of this year, while the number will reach 150,000 next year, according to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. The goal, he said, is to make Georgia’s self-defense system stronger.

“[In] each of Georgia’s villages we will train locals, and this will represent one of the main “guarantees of peace,” Saakashvili said while visiting a state-run factory in Tbilisi named Delta, a part of the Defense Ministry’s research center on April 11.

“In 2008 we all saw clearly that we need [a strong] territorial defense; nobody will do our job for us,” Saakashvili said. The August war, he noted, provided a “good lesson” so Georgia rejected the pre-war system of reserve troops, which was based on size. The new system, he explained, prioritizes quality over quantity.

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Arab Spring negotiator meets with Saakashvili’s political foe

Wisner arrived on invitation of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian president’s main political competitor, and has already met with the Georgian businessman at his business-center on a hill above Tbilisi.

No information was available about in what capacity Wisner is visiting. After the meeting Wednesday, the guest said he received good information about the current reality of Georgian political life.

“I’m enormously interested in Georgia’s future, the future of Georgian democracy. Over the past 20 years I’ve followed your history as closely as Americans normally can or are able to do and I believe very much in the course that you’ve set for yourselves to have vibrant democracy that contributes to stability throughout this region of the world and that is in harmony with the most fundamental values of Euro Atlantic community and my country,” Wisner said.

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PM: Turkey may invoke NATO’s Article 5 over Syrian border fire

In a statement that may be interpreted as the harshest response yet to the escalating 13-month-old Syrian crisis, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the first time on Wednesday raised the possibility of calling on the NATO military alliance to protect Turkey’s border against incursions by Syrian forces.
Speaking to reporters travelling with him during his official visit to China, Erdoğan said Turkey may consider invoking NATO’s fifth article to protect Turkish national security in the face of increasing tension along the Syrian border. His comments came after four Syrians who fled to Turkey from the violence in Syria were killed by Syrian forces targeting refugees on the Turkish side of the border on Monday.

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“Some Western forces try to include Azerbaijan in anti Iranian affairs”

“Some Western forces try to includeAzerbaijan in anti Iranian affairs. At the same time Azerbaijan is unable to act against Iran obviously”. Expert on Azerbaijan Sargis Asatryan announced about this during the press conference at “Armat” press-club today.

The speaker underlined the fact Azerbaijanhave got a great amount of weapon during the last time and added that the events in Caucasian countries make an image as if the countries are getting for the way.

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Uzbekistan’s policy of secretly sterilising women

The BBC has been told by doctors that Uzbekistan is running a secret programme to sterilise women – and has talked to women sterilised without their knowledge or consent.

Adolat has striking looks, a quiet voice and a secret that she finds deeply shameful.

She knows what happened is not her fault, but she cannot help feeling guilty about it.

Adolat comes from Uzbekistan, where life centres around children and a big family is the definition of personal success. Adolat thinks of herself as a failure.

“What am I after what happened to me?” she says as her hand strokes her daughter’s hair – the girl whose birth changed Adolat’s life.

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Sudan, South Sudan war fears loom

Sudan and South Sudan on Wednesday ordered mass civilian mobilisations for defence as their armies battled along their contested border, raising the spectre of a return to all-out war.

A day after Southern troops seized the contested oil-producing Heglig region from Khartoum’s army amid heavy artillery bombardments and air strikes, the parliaments in Juba and Khartoum called for preparation for conflict.

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Will EurAsEC grow into Eurasian economic union?

The last of the EurAsEC summit in Moscow demonstrated that for all the optimistic public statements, the integration processes are not advancing well in practice.

It was predicted that the summit will announce the replacement EurAsEC with full fledged Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). However, the results of the summit were more than modest – comprehensive agreement on formation of EEU can be signed only by January 1, 2015.

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China revises land grab laws to halt unrest

China has tightened regulations governing forced land expropriations in a bid to put a lid on what has become an explosive social issue and one of the country’s biggest sources of unrest.

Authorities have for years tried to address the issue of government-backed “land grabs,” which regularly trigger protests as residents complain of poor compensation for homes that have been demolished to make way for new buildings.

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Kosovo’s demographic time-bomb

Kosovo is, however, a country of young people. Its two million inhabitants make up the youngest population in Europe: every second person is under 25. More than half of the ministers in Kosovo’s government are under 40. The country’s president, a former police commander named Atifete Jahjaga, was just 36 when she was elected last year. And, as officials like to stress when discussing the challenges faced by Kosovo, the state, which celebrated its fourth birthday in February, is the second-youngest in the world after South Sudan.

“You cannot find a single case in history where, within three or four years of independence, the major issues of development in a country were addressed,” says Kosovo’s deputy prime minister, Edita Tahiri. “I would say to our young people, give us time.”

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Is Turkey preparing for an intervention in Syria?

The short answer is yes. Although it won’t happen tomorrow or without assistance especially from the United States, which is evidently first going to allow Kofi Annan to try his luck getting Iran to broker a peace deal. But Abdullah Bozkurt, a columnist at Turkey’s Today Zaman newspaper, outlines the legal case for intervention that wouldn’t require UN Security Council authorisation (read: the say-so of Russia and China). This strikes me as the most likely set of events to unfold:

What will happen if the UN cannot get its act together, and Russia and China end up using their veto powers for the third time? Ankara will probably invoke the 1998 Adana agreement with Syria to justify the military interference while calling on NATO members for the application of the Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all.

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Iranian Army, IRGC planning joint wargames

The Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) plan to stage joint military drills to boost their defense and combat capabilities in the current Iranian year (started on March 20), a senior Army commander announced on Wednesday, April 11.

According to Fars News Agency, speaking to reporters Commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced that his forces plan to hold 8 wargames in different fields, among them specialized airborne exercises and joint drills with the IRGC.

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In Syria, send in the mercenaries

he world community, including the United States, is at a crossroads about the right steps to forcefully prevent the further slaughter of civilians in Syria. There are many good reasons to intervene — to stop the death, detention and probable torture of any number of innocents; to support the democratic right of people to consent to rule by a freely elected government; and to avoid a repeat of the U.S. inaction that allowed Iran’s dictatorship to prevail in 2009.

There are just as many reasons not to intervene — the sovereignty of nations; the moral hazard of providing U.S. troops where our national interest does not dictate; and the uncertainty about those we would be helping take power. All the while, do-nothing diplomatic talks and easily ignored cease-fires continue to fail because the talking doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

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Duma in Spin Over Anti-Color Revolution Council

Russia’s State Duma’s CIS Affairs Committee announced on Tuesday the creation of an “anti-color revolution” council, but then retracted its statement several hours later after what appeared to be reluctance to go ahead with the plan.

Duma’s CIS affairs committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky told Kommersant daily on Tuesday that the committee would establish an “anti-revolution council” to study threats to Russia and CIS-States’ security.

“An expert and consultancy council will be established within our committee,” Kommersant quoted Slutsky as saying.

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Inside Russia: Putin’s Private National Guard

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that President-elect Vladimir Putin is poised to undertake the most significant reform Russia has seen in recent years by creating a National Guard from scratch. These special forces, numbering up to 400,000 men, would answer directly to the president and would be charged with protecting the country from internal threats.

As a result, Russia would resemble a classic South American or Middle Eastern dictatorship. Take, for example, Syria, where for decades men from the lower classes have had only two career options — a dead-end job with a state company or joining the troops that guard the president. Ironically, Putin is considering adopting such a system even after the entire world witnessed how the Libyan version of this model failed miserably, while the Syrian version of this model is headed toward a similar demise.

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Uzbekistan Seems About Broke — A Continuing Series

Since the government of Uzbekistan’s economic and budget reports are unreliable, making proxy indicators about the only things that allow for any kind of realistic assessment of the government and country’s financial health. The latest sign of the Uzbek government’s poor financial health is the news that teachers and doctors in Vobkent district of Bukhara province have beenpaid a portion of their salaries in the form of chickens.

Public sector workers get 10 chicks each under the initiative, launched after cabinet ministers in February urged regional governments to boost domestic production of poultry, eggs, meat, and vegetables.

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