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Archive | July, 2012

India gets hawk eye over Strait of Malacca

India will on Tuesday formally open a key naval station, aptly named INS Baaz (Hawk), in the southern part of Andaman and Nicobar Islands that will boost its ability to keep an eagle eye on the critical maritime choke-point: the Strait of Malacca.

With navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma declaring the base open, the nation’s southeastern-most fringe, which is closer to Indonesia than the Indian mainland, India will gain strategic supremacy in the area, an Indian Navy officer said in New Delhi.

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Regular military exchanges between Pakistan and China to further strengthen strategic ties

Regular exchanges between the armed forces of Pakistan and China would deepen the existing strategic ties and give further push to the all-weather and time-tested friendship between the two countries. Ambassador Masood Khan expressed these views while speaking at an impressive graduation ceremony of the 2nd Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)-Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Officer Development Programme (APOD) held in Beijing Saturday. The Pakistan Envoy in China expressed deepest appreciation to AVIC, China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), and the AVIC University for organizing an advanced and sophisticated programme with rich contents for the participants from the PAF.

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Why’s China’s Navy in the Mediterranean?

For the first time since China’s re-emergence as a power to be reckoned with, Western powers are being confronted with scenarios involving the risk of clashes with Chinese military forces outside the Asian giant’s backyard.

Key to China’s expansion is a shift in recent years from Mao Zedong’s Army-centric military to one where other branches of the armed service — the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the Second Artillery Corps — are given greater freedom of action.

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Washington’s nervous Gulf allies seeking more firepower as tensions with Iran grow

While Iran’s military loudly trumpets every new project or purported advance in hopes of rattling the U.S. and its Gulf Arab allies, the U.S. is quietly answering with an array of proposed arms sales across the region as part of a wider effort to counter Tehran.
In the past two months, the Defense Department has notified Congress of possible deals totaling more than $11.3 billion to Gulf states such as Qatar and Kuwait, which are seen as some of America’s critical front-line partners in containing Iran and protecting oil shipping lanes.

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Kurdistan in secret weapons deal: Iraqi official

A high-ranking Iraqi official on Sunday said security agencies have uncovered a secret weapons deal between the autonomous Kurdistan region and an unnamed foreign country.

“Iraqi security agencies (discovered) a secret weapons deal between the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, and a foreign country,” the security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The weapons include anti-armour and anti-aircraft missiles, and a large number of heavy weapons,” the official said, without specifying the exact weapons systems.

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War by “Remote Control”: An Invisible Confrontation

Syrian activists and FSA leaders have confirmed spotting UAVs in the skies above Syria, suggesting that drones are often seen on reconnaissance missions of targets that are subsequently bombarded.

Meanwhile, military sources and experts have reported the flight of Iranian, as well as “American and Israeli” drones, over Syria. This means that what might look like a domestic confrontation in Syria can also double as a war by “remote control” between Western and regional intelligence groups, especially between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Iranian Republican Guard Corps (IRGC).

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Bunker Mentality: Iran begins stockpiling 3-month food supply

An Iranian news agency is reporting the country has begun to stockpile a three-month supply of foodstuffs for its population.

The Friday report by semi-official Mehr quotes deputy industry minister Hasan Radmard as saying the country has been buying wheat, cooking oil, sugar and rice for the food reserve.

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Anush Levonian: Who is behind the autonomization of Syrian Kurdistan?

The Kurdish factor begins to play an important role in the events in Syria. Both the authorities and the opposition are trying to use a large Kurdish community (variously estimated at from 2 to 3 million) for its own purposes. Simultaneously, the Kurds themselves are trying to take advantage of the situation in their tactical and strategic interests.

Activation of the Kurds, who are known for weakening the central government in Damascus, captured a number of localities in the north-east of the country, alarmed Ankara.

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Geopolitical potential of Dagestan

Regions of the Northern Caucasus, especially Dagestan, are a special geopolitical position. Here interests overlap both regional and global nature. In the system of regional geopolitics Dagestan plays a central role, due to many factors. Specifically, in case of loss of Dagestan, Russia risks losing the entire North Caucasus, whence it follows immediately the value of Dagestan as a bastion of Russian geopolitics in this volatile region.

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Turkish army requests Syrian weather forecast to direct artillery

The army and the Turkish meteorology department signed a protocol three years ago and founded a forecast system to help guide artillery and missile strikes, the report said.

The system covered areas in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, where clashes often occur between Turkish security forces and militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Today, the army asked for Syria and Iraq to be included in the system in their entirety, as well as an area stretching from the Balkans to the Caspian Sea.

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Brainwashing 101: 32,000 take to Hong Kong streets to protest Chinese patriotism classes

Students and pro-democracy activists were among those who marched to the Hong Kong government’s headquarters to protest the new curriculum, which authorities are encouraging schools to begin using when classes resume in September.

They fear the classes will be used to brainwash children into supporting China’s Communist Party. The government has denied that and says they are aimed at building Chinese national pride.

The controversy flared up after reports emerged that pro-Beijing groups published a booklet for use in classes that extolled the virtues of one-party rule.

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Classic armed insurgency taking shape in Syria

Insurgencies are Darwinian contests where failure by either side to evolve and adapt to changing battlefield circumstances almost guarantees eventual defeat. Furthermore, the grueling nature of insurgencies means they can last a long time before one side or the other can proclaim victory. It took 22 years before Lebanese resistance groups were able to drive Israeli troops from Lebanese soil. In Sri Lanka, it took government forces 26 years before finally defeating the Tamil Tiger insurgency.

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US presents Israel with Iran strike plan

An Israeli newspaper reported Sunday that the Obama administration’s top security official has briefed Israel on U.S. plans for a possible attack on Iran, seeking to reassure it that Washington is prepared to act militarily should diplomacy and sanctions fail to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear enrichment program.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential talks, said the article in the Haaretz daily was incorrect.

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Russia denies plans for new navy bases in Cuba and Vietnam

Russia’s Defence Ministry has denied reports Moscow its planning to set up its first new overseas navy bases since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Earlier, a news agency quoted Russia’s navy chief as saying that Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles were being considered as possible sites.

But the ministry said that Vice Adm Viktor Chirkov had never made the alleged remarks.

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China Sea Cold War: Japan ‘could deploy troops on islands’

Japanese soldiers take part in a military parade at the Ground Self Defence Force’s training ground in Asaka. Japan’s defence minister has warned Tokyo could send troops to a chain of East China Sea islands at the centre of a territorial row with China if the simmering dispute escalated.

Satoshi Morimoto said Tokyo’s position had not changed, but confirmed that it would use force to defend the islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

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Hired assassins force Philippine massacre witnesses to live in fear

Hired assassins are stalking witnesses to a Philippine massacre in which a political warlord allegedly led the slaughter of 57 people, victims’ relatives and a rights group said almost two years into a complex trial.

Three witnesses and three relatives of others who planned to testify have been killed in what locals regard as chilling messages for anyone speaking out against the politician and other clan members on trial for the massacre.

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Secret Turkish clandstine nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels

DOHA/DUBAI: Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.

News of the clandestine Middle East-run “nerve centre” working to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers – who played a key role in unseating Moammar Gaddafi in Libya – have avoided military involvement so far in Syria.

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Russian Paranoia Turned Inward: Officials with the foreign accounts would be “foreign agents”?

The State Duma of the EP and CP contributed to the colleagues, the bill, which requires parliamentarians and officials at all levels under threat of criminal penalties to claim the cash deposits, securities and real estate abroad. The owners of such facilities, buildings and shares should receive the status of “foreign agents”. The bill is an attempt to justify the law on NGOs and revoked a few days ago a bill recognizing “foreign agents” media with financing from abroad, experts say.

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Citi sees 90% chance of Greece leaving euro

Citigroup Inc. raised its estimate of the chances Greece will drop the euro in the next 12 to 18 months to about 90 percent, with prolonged economic weakness and spillover for the euro area.

In an analyst note, Citigroup updated its forecast for a Greek exit from the 17-nation currency union from a previous estimate of 50 percent to 75 percent, and said it would most likely happen in the next two to three quarters. Specifically, the bank assumes a Greece exit would occur on Jan. 1, 2013, while saying that is not a forecast of a precise date.

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US to station forces in Poland for first time

The Pentagon said yesterday it plans to send a U.S. air force detachment to Poland to support fighter jets and transport planes, marking the first time that U.S. soldiers have been stationed there. The announcement was made at the end of talks between US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Polish counterpart Tomasz Siemoniak. The detachment “will arrive this fall to support quarterly F-16 and C-130 deployments beginning in 2013 and will be the first U.S. forces stationed on Polish soil,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

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Jordanian, Syrian forces trade fire as tensions rise along border

Jordanian and Syrian forces traded gunfire along the shared border early Friday morning in what marked the latest escalation of tensions between Amman and Damascus, dpa reported.

According to a Jordanian security source, “brief” clashes broke out between the two armies in the Tal Al Sihab region after Syrian forces opened fire on a group of some 300 refugees attempting to flee into Jordan, mistakenly targeting Jordanian forces in the process.

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The shadowy dictatorship and the lobbyists with the ‘dark arts’ to help them

As potential clients go, the brash expat British businessman and his Uzbek colleague could not have been less sympathetic characters.

They were, they said, trusted representatives of the “Azimov Group”, an agent for the central Asian government of Uzbekistan – a dictatorship responsible for killings, human rights violations and child labour – and also representing its cotton industry, which wanted to sell to the West.

Who better to help them than a selection of Britain’s lobbyists?

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Moscow Seeks New Role In Indian Defense Market

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin made a pitch for the joint development with India of defense equipment that could be sold to other countries during a visit to New Delhi last week.

“We want to move from basic trade to joint development projects with India in defense,” Rogozin says.

In talks with Indian authorities, Rogozin expressed keen interest in joint ventures for the production of cargo and passenger aircraft.

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Computer model ‘predicts’ Afghan conflict

SCOTTISH scientists have developed a computer model which could help predict how the 
conflict in Afghanistan might unfold.

The team from the University of Edinburgh analysed military logs from Afghanistan between 2004 and 2009 to develop a model to see how events would occur in troublespots in 2010.

They say their program was more than 80 per cent 
accurate in determining which provinces were going to have 
increases or decreases in 
violence.

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Tokyo plays up ‘military theory’

Japan keeps using China as an excuse to build up its military muscle as NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organisation, reported that the Tokyo’s forthcoming white paper on defence warns that China’s military movement has raised concerns worldwide.

Japan’s 2012 white paper on defence questions China’s military spending, citing data that shows it has increased 30 times in the past 24 years. The white paper says spending on defence will continue to grow as China develops aircraft carriers and other advanced weapons.

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Turkey threatens military invasion of Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria

Kurdish-controlled western Syria could prompt Turkey to invade Syria, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview with Turkish mediaon Wednesday.

“If a formation that’s going to be a problem, if there is a terror operation, [if] an irritant emerges, then intervening there would be our most natural right,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey has repeatedly struck PKK operatives and bases in Iraqi Kurdistan since that region began exerting autonomy after the 1991 Gulf War.

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Developing Eight: D-8 works to create ‘seed bank’

The Developing Eight (D-8) Organization for Economic Cooperation has launched a “seed bank project” to fight global food crises.

D-8 Secretary-General Professor Widi Pratikto told Anatolia news agency that the world was facing another food crisis.

“To prevent a new food crisis, the organization has launched a ‘seed bank’ project which will be focused on the sectors of agriculture, food safety, energy and trade as well as industry and transportation,” said Pratikto.

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Fresno Might Be Calif.’s Next Bankrupt City ‎

There is a Citigroup report out that bond watchers are now worried about Fresno following Stockton into bankruptcy — which would be, if true, a much more serious calamity given Fresno’s far greater size and budget.

Throughout California’s Central Valley, almost everyone the last decade or more has witnessed a perfect storm of events that evoked a reaction to each day’s news along the lines of “This can’t go on.”

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Don’t Mention Argentina and Greece In the Same Breath!

Judging from conversations I had in Europe a few weeks ago with journalists, academics, and policymakers (including at least one foreign minister), I’d say there’s growing worry about two countries being used in the same breath: Argentina and Greece.

These Europeans are deeply concerned that Greece – not to mention Spain and Italy — will follow Argentina’s example in renouncing debts, flouting international norms, and getting rewarded for its irresponsibility.

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EU Creates Endowment For Assimilation of Post-Soviet States

The European Union’s response to the Arab awakening again highlighted its inability to react swiftly and decisively to extraordinary events unfolding in its neighborhood, Hrant Kostanyan and Magdalena Nasieniak write in a report for the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies. But the new European Endowment for Democracy has the potential to make the EU a committed, pro-active and effective leader of democracy assistance, free of nationally-driven decisions, European ‘turf wars’ and cumbersome bureaucracy.

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US to deploy surveillance drones over the Caribbean

The US Department of Homeland Security has announced the setting up of a drone squadron for surveillance activity over the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, ostensibly for the purpose of fighting drug trafficking.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already approved the air routes for the spy drones, known worldwide for their raids over Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as part of US military activities in those nations, PL news agency reported.

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Labor Camp for Hong Kong Protesters

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi have sentenced to labor camp two petitioners who took part in the annual July 1 demonstrations in Hong Kong, their relatives said on Tuesday.

Song Ningsheng and Zeng Jiuzi were handed the one-year sentences, which can be processed administratively with no need for a trial, as a punishment for their involvement in the demonstrations, during which tens of thousands of people each year vent their frustrations against the authorities in the former British colony.

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Taiwan to deploy cannons, mortars on Taiping in South China Sea

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) yesterday confirmed that it will complete the installation of a certain number of cannons and mortars on Taiping Island in the South China Sea next month in a move to enhance its military presence in the disputed seas amid the escalating conflict over the region.

A total of eight sets of 40mm autocannons and a certain number of 120mm mortars will be shipped to the island by the end of August, unidentified MND sources told the Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday.

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Fighting breaks out in south-east Tajikistan

The fighting is the most severe in Tajikistan for almost two years and will worry Western politicians who are counting on the former Soviet state to act as a bulwark against any surge north by Islamic militants when Nato forces withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan in 2014.

The Associated Press news agency quoted a Tajik security service officer as saying that 20 soldiers had been killed in gun battles around the town of Khorog, near the border with Afghanistan.

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Reach Out and Touch: Turkey begins work on ICBM

The Turkish Armed Forces have begun working on a project to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), broadcaster NTV reported on its website today.

A decision to launch the project was made in a July 17 meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Board, headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel. Erdoğan had previously requested that the military develop missiles with a 2,500-kilometer range.

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The CIA has been unable to establish a presence in Syria

US officials say they believe intelligence gaps have impeded efforts to support the ousting of President Bashar al-Assad.

The officials say spy agencies have expanded their efforts to gather intelligence on rebel forces and Dr Assad’s regime in recent months, but they are still largely confined to monitoring intercepted communications and observing from a distance.

Interviews with US and foreign intelligence officials revealed that the CIA has been unable to establish a presence in Syria, in contrast with the agency’s prominent role gathering intelligence from inside Egypt and Libya during their revolts.

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Taiwan: China vessels closely monitored during Han Kuang war games

Taiwan was closely monitoring the whereabouts of China’s military aircraft and vessels deployed near Taiwanese waters during last week’s computerized war games, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.

There were no military information leaks during the five-day computer-aided Han Kuang drills, the MND said in a released statement yesterday to refute a Chinese-language report that said Chinese Navy vessels were collecting confidential data on the drills.

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Cash-strapped Argentine town pays employees by raffle

A raffle will determine which civil servants in a small Argentine town will receive their pay first, due to insufficient funds, its mayor announced Monday.

“We will draw lots to decide the (order) of payment,” said the mayor of Bialet Masse, Gustavo Pueyo, in a broadcast from Buenos Aires private radio station Radio Mitre.

Pueyo said the raffle was approved by national mayoral authorities and the first draw took place Friday, with 23 of the town’s 92 employees receiving their pay. A second raffle is slated for Monday.

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Fearing recruitment, India restricts contacts with CIA

Fearing that the CIA might use counter-terrorism meetings to recruit Indian intelligence operatives, New Delhi has restricted agency-to-agency contacts with Washington, says a new book.

“Today, middle-ranking IB (Intelligence Bureau) and RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) officers are vulnerable to enticement by well-funded foreign intelligence agencies – a factor which has constrained counter-terrorism cooperation post 9/11.”

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N.Korea Stations Attack Helicopters Near Sea Border

North Korea has deployed around 20 helicopters at two bases near South Korea’s Baeknyeong Island in the West Sea, according to a government source here. They include attack helicopters that are capable of engaging targets on the ground.

Baeknyeong Island is South Korea’s northernmost island that lies just south of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border with North Korea. The North has deployed the attack and transport helicopters at air bases since May, the source said. “They seem to have been put there independently of any military exercises,” the source added.

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NATO and the problem of asymmetric warfare

NATO nations do not yet show any willingness to intervene in Syria along those lines, but the issue is bound to arise as the opposition grows stronger. According to Lyall, the strategy raises ethical questions: first, there is a danger of supporting potential war criminals, he says, and then, “if you are going to intervene with air power, are you actually encouraging would-be insurgents to take up arms and are you encouraging the spreading of insurgencies into different places?”

Lyall fears “a knee jerk reaction” – with air power being deployed without considering the consequences. The fall of the Assad regime might require troops on the ground which might “start off a really dangerous cycle of another quagmire forming,” Lyall says.

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Australia’s spies active in world’s strategic hotspots

ASIS specialises in “HUMINT”—human intelligence—mostly derived from spies “running agents.” Since 2001, under the cover of the so-called “war on terror,” the agency has already acquired new roles, conducting “active operations” and providing front-line intelligence support for Australian military units, particularly the SAS, in the US-led invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. It has received an unprecedented five-fold expansion of its budget—to about $250 million a year.

Now, ASIS is being increasingly focussed on three fronts that provide a pretext for its agents to step up their activities in far-flung and critical conflict zones. Most notably, these are in Central Asia and South East Asia, where the US and its allies are aggressively combating China’s economic and strategic influence.

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Propaganda War: Syrian media warn of staged videos, rebels dressed as soldiers

As fighting rages on in the heart of Damascus, still reeling from a stunning attack on Syria’s military leadership Wednesday, Syrian state media called the bombing a failure and alleged that a Qatari company was staging fake videos using models of the capital and another city, Aleppo, to mislead the world.

The claims are the latest salvo in the propaganda battle over the 16-month Syrian uprising. With scant access for foreign journalists, Syrian state media and opposition activists have competed to control the story, offering radically different accounts of what is happening inside the battered country.

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Israel: IDF Trains for ‘Arab Spring’ in Judea and Samaria

A large-scale IDF exercise in Judea and Samaria, the first in three years, is preparing soldiers in the Menashe Brigade for a possible “Arab Spring” rebellion. The brigade is based near Jenin, located in central Samaria between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River.

“The drill tested main scenarios of a potential violent escalation in the region, including terrorist attacks on a local road, terrorists infiltrating a community and killing civilians, abduction of soldiers, numerous explosives set on a fence and more,” military spokesmen reported on the IDF Website.

Forces from the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), Israeli Police, Israeli emergency medical services Magen David Adom, regular and reserve units, and community security bodies participated in the drill.

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South China Sea Cold War: China To Deploy Military To Sansha

China will establish a military presence in its newly established city of Sansha, which covers a vast expanse of the flashpoint South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) including islands within the Philippines’ territory.

In a news report posted on Chinese government website gov.cn, Beijing announced that its central military authority “has approved to form and deploy a military garrison in the newly established city of Sansha”.

The online report posted Saturday said China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) had authorized the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Guangzhou Military Command to set up the garrison.

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FAA Has Authorized 106 Government ‘Entities’ to Fly Domestic Drones

Since Jan. 1 of this year, according to congressional testimony presented Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized 106 federal, state and local government “entities” to fly “unmanned aircraft systems,” also known as drones, within U.S. airspace.

“We are now on the edge of a new horizon: using unmanned aerial systems within the homeland,” House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Michael McCaul (R.-Texas) said as he introduced the testimony.

“Currently,” said McCaul, “there are about 200 active Certificates of Authorization issued by the Federal Aviation Administration to over 100 different entities, such as law enforcement departments and academic institutions, to fly drones domestically.”

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Greece now in ‘Great Depression’

Greece is in a “Great Depression” similar to the American one in the 1930s, the country’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Sunday.

Samaras was speaking two days before a team of Greece’s international lenders arrive in Athens to push for further cuts needed for the debt-laden country to qualify for further rescue payments and avoid a chaotic default.

Athens wants to soften the terms of a 130-billion euro bailout agreed last March with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, to soften their impact on an economy going through its worst post-war recession.

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Turkey sends missile batteries to Syria border

Turkey sent batteries of ground-to-air missiles to the border with Syria on Sunday, media reports said, boosting its firepower as rebels in Syria seized several border posts.

As fighting raged in Damascus and Aleppo, rebels were said to have taken control of three crossing points on the border with Turkey, which is sheltering thousands of Syrians who have fled the conflict at home.

A train convoy carrying several batteries of missiles arrived in Mardin in southeastern Turkey and will be transferred to several army units deployed on the border, according to the Anatolia news agency.

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Hichem Karoui: Spies, murders and secret wars

Benjamin Netanyahu, commenting on the Burgas bombing, admitted that a secret war was going on between Israel and Iran. He particularly mentioned “a number of attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli targets, in Thailand, Georgia, India, Greece, Cyprus, and other countries.” The Israeli newspapers that reported the PM’s comment also reported a US anonymous official cited by The New York Times saying: “This was tit for tat.”

That was equal to saying: “We were expecting it, since we know what we’ve done to them!” The French dictum says: C’est de bonne guerre! (It is just fair war).

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Pentagon prepares for collapse of Syrian regime

The Pentagon has set up a special team to prepare for what many U.S. officials believe is the imminent collapse of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The Crisis Asset Team will help prepare the U.S. military for whatever role it might take in the conflict that appears to be reaching a decisive moment in which the government could fall apart, officials said.

Signs that the Syrian regime is on the verge of collapsing grew stronger over the weekend as violence escalated in its capital Damascus and more senior Syrian military officials defected and left the country.

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Arab Spring Aftermath: Power struggle in Cairo

THERE IS a crisis of confidence in Cairo. The wrangling between the judiciary and the executive might plunge the strife-torn country into a renewed phase of power struggle.

Often, it is so mindboggling to interpret as to what each organ of the state means when it comes down with its own diagnosis to overcome the vacuum at work. The military junta that has ruled Egypt de facto since president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown seems to be in a straight-jacket module while asserting its influence.

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Carter: Guam Central to Asia-Pacific Strategy

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said after his meetings with Guamanian and military leaders over the past two days, he is more convinced than ever that Guam has a central role to play in the strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

The deputy secretary left Guam today en route to Japan, the next stop on his 10-day Asia-Pacific tour that will continue with visits to Thailand, India and South Korea.

“The insights I was able to gather during this visit [to Guam] reinforce the department’s optimism that our plan is achievable and in line with our strategic priority of maintaining security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” Carter said.

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Israel ‘will have to strike’ if Syrian weapons are moving to Hezbollah, says top analyst

Israel “will have to strike” at Syrian weapons shipments if they are being transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon amid the collapse of the Assad regime, a prominent Israeli military analyst said on national television Friday night.

Roni Daniel, of Israel’s most-watched news station Channel 2, made the prediction immediately after Defense Minister Ehud Barak had indicated warily in two TV interviews that Israel was preparing options to ensure Syrian weapons did not reach the pro-Iranian Hezbollah.

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Syrian rebels forming squad to secure country’s chemical weapons

Syrian rebels are forming a special unit to secure the country’s chemical weapons, a rebel leader said in an interview published Saturday in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“We have a group just to deal with chemical weapons. They are already trained to secure sites,” said General Adnan Silou, the most senior member of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to have defected and joined the Free Syrian Army, DPA reported.

According to the newspaper, analysts believe Syria has the world’s largest stocks of chemical weapons, consisting principally of sarin, mustard gas and cyanide.

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Panetta orders Pentagon to monitor media for information leaks

The measures included improved training for handling classified information, the publication of a manual with clear instructions on what constitutes an unauthorized disclosure and the creation of an online security incident reporting system.

“The department is continuously improving its security posture and overall capability to prevent unauthorized disclosures,” the Pentagon said in a statement disclosing the recent security changes.

McKeon said the House panel was “concerned about the leaks that have come out over the years and accelerated, it seems, over the last few months.”

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U.S. oil giant signs deal with Iraqi Kurds, defies central authority

Chevron has signed a deal with Kurdish Regional government becoming the second US oil company to secure oil agreements with Kurds in conflict with Baghdad

U.S. oil giant Chevron announced July 19 that it had signed a deal with Iraqi Kurds to explore for oil in their northern region, defying the Iraqi central government which itself wants to control the area’s oil wealth. Turkeyhas also developed energy ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), straining its relations with Baghdad

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Extra Saudi forces deployed with Iran in mind

Saudi Arabia has deployed more troops in the oil-rich Eastern Province and cancelled some military leave amid worries of fresh unrest stoked by Iran and regional tensions, Saudi government sources and diplomats said on Thursday.

A Saudi government source said that top commanders, in a directive issued on June 26, ordered extra security forces to be stationed in the kingdom’s crude-producing east, home to a majority of the country’s Shiite population.

The source said Saudi troops were put on alert and summer leave was cancelled for some officers but “those already on holiday are are not being called back.”

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Shadowy CIA men vetting rebels’ suitability

On Turkey-Syria Border: There is much talk here of shadowy CIA men vetting rebel brigades’ suitability for US taxpayers’ largesse. Everyone seems to want a piece of that action, but how to get in on the game seems to baffle many.

“It’s all very foggy,” agreed Mahmoud Shaikh Al Zor, a slim, bespectacled former heavy-equipment salesman in Atlanta who gave up selling Caterpillars and returned to his homeland to fight. He, like others, came to Turkey seeking help for his battalion, known as the Brave.

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Air Force to begin testing drone-fired lasers over North Dakota

At the Devils Lake home of the North Dakota Army National Guard, pilots train on MQ-1 Predator drones — the most prevalent unmanned attack vehicle in the military arsenal. In late June the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published an updated set of rules and regulations covering Devils Lake, creating several large restricted airspaces over the Camp Gilbert C. Grafton military base.

The reason: the Air Force plans to begin tests of potentially dangerous lasers shot remotely from the drone.

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Harvard scientists to build Iron Man-like suit for military

Harvard University scientists are working on an Iron Man-like smart suit that could improve soldiers’ endurance in war zones.

The suit, which is expected to include sensors and its own energy source, will be designed to delay the onset of fatigue, enabling soldiers to travel further in the field, while also supporting the body and protecting it from injuries when the soldier is carrying heavy loads.

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Kim Jong-Un’s Big Moves: Reforms in North Korea

BEIJING – Impoverished North Korea is gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after young leader Kim Jong-un and his powerful uncle purged the country’s top general for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing said.

The source added that the cabinet had created a special bureau to take control of the decaying economy from the military — one of the world’s largest — which under Kim’s father was given pride of place in running the country.

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2045 Avatar Project: Do Billionaires Crave Eternal Life?

A brain in a bot is just a way station to Nirvana, which would ultimately involve downloading the brain’s contents into a computer. That and other tweaks to the technology will take a few decades, Itskov says, which is why he calls his project the2045 Initiative. It held its first meeting in Moscow in February and has just opened an office in San Francisco. It is planning a big meeting in New York’s Lincoln Center in June 2013.

In ages past, those who would cheat Death generally talked of an elixir, but nowadays their line of patter tends to run in a cybernetic vein.

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Huge police state controls N Korea: Study

The most visible face of the North Korean state is the Ministry of People’s Security, the national police force. The study estimated that the ministry had 210 000 personnel, whose duties included routinely stopping citizens for documents.

The secret police benefit across North Korea from neighbourhood committees, often consisting of housewives, which meet weekly and send informants to both the department and the ministry, the report said.

State Security Department officers in each district “have all official documents regarding the residents, so they know everything about an individual’s” life and history, a former agent was quoted as saying.

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China lends Africa $20bn to defend against Western ‘bullying’

China has emerged as Africa’s main trading partner and a major source of investment for infrastructure. But its presence has also sparked concerns about labour abuses and corruption.

Hu made the lending pledge on Thursday during the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing.

Hu also said China and African countries, as developing nations, should better coordinate their response to international affairs to counter the practices of “the big bullying the small, the strong domineering over the weak and the rich oppressing the poor”.

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The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit

It was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. “The move was historic,” says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. “It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise.”

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Missile shield may spark China nuclear upgrade: officer

China may need to modernize its nuclear arsenal to respond to the destabilizing effect of a planned U.S.-backed missile defense system, a senior Chinese military officer said on Wednesday.

“It undermines the strategic stability,” said Major General Zhu Chenghu of China’s National Defense University about the U.S.-led development of a missile shield, which has also alarmed Russia.

“We have to maintain the credibility of deterrence,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a panel discussion on nuclear disarmament, referring to the military doctrine that an enemy will be deterred from using atomic arms as long as he can be destroyed as a consequence.

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People’s Republic of California Does It Again: City of Compton may declare bankruptcy by September: officials

The City of Compton, a city of 93,000 people located on the outskirts of Los Angeles, must decide by September 1 whether to seek bankruptcy, according to its two most senior financial officials.

Such a move would see it join a growing number of deficit-hobbled California cities that have used the filing to restructure onerous debt loads.

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Egypt intelligence agency tries to reclaim image

Egypt’s top intelligence agency, long a secretive power behind the country’s ruling system, is taking a small but unprecedented step out of the shadows in an apparent attempt to win the public’s support in the face of potential challenges from the new Islamist president.

In an unusual move, the General Intelligence Service — known as the “Mukhabarat” in Arabic — released a 41-minute-long documentary boasting of its achievements, presenting itself as the defender of the nation and vowing to continue to protect the country.

“The eye of the Egyptian intelligence does not sleep,” the narrator says. In one of the film’s many dramatic images, it shows footage of a falcon — the agency’s symbol — circling in the sky and swooping down to snatch up a snake.

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Kim’s Powerplay: N.Korean Military in Crisis

South Korean government officials believe the chief of the North Korean Army’s General Staff, Ri Yong-ho was abruptly sacked as part of a purge aimed at consolidating leader Kim Jong-un’s grip on power.

A government official here said it seems Jang Song-taek, the uncle and patron of Kim, and Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the People’s Army General Political Bureau, got the nod from Kim to investigate Ri and sacked him after uncovering corruption.

“Ri’s dismissal did not happen suddenly but was meticulously planned to gain control of military officers whose power had grown out of hand,” says one source familiar with North Korean affairs. “The new military heavyweights will see their influence weaken significantly.”

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Russia’s ‘Shrewd’ Central Asia Play

Central Asia’s strategic value came to prominence after the September 11 terrorist attacks and the start of the Afghan war. Before then, the region was known for its considerable natural resources but otherwise rarely mentioned. Today, however, these countries are relevant beyond their oil and natural gas reserves. Both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have hosted—and the latter still does—U.S. military installations in support of Afghan combat operations. Moreover, the region has been a vital component of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which is used by NATO to transport almost all non-lethal and some lethal supplies to Afghanistan.

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Gps Hack: Researchers demonstrate ‘spoofing’ of UAVs

A University of Texas at Austin research team successfully demonstrated for the first time that the GPS signals of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, can be commandeered by an outside source – a discovery that could factor heavily into the implementation of a new federal mandate to allow thousands of civilian drones into the U.S. airspace by 2015.

Known as “spoofing,” the technique creates false civil GPS signals that trick the vehicle’s GPS receiver into thinking nothing is amiss – even as it steers a new navigational course induced by the outside hacker.

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ISI-CIA meeting: Spymasters plan US rendezvous

In a key development in thawing ties with Washington, the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) will visit the US in coming days, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Well-placed sources said that Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-General Zaheerul Islam’s visit has been approved by the government. It will be the first visit by the army chief or an intelligence chief to the US in over a year.

The ISI chief will meet his US counterpart, Director Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus, and other senior American officials to discuss matters related to counter-terrorism cooperation.

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Former hard man of Indonesia’s dictatorship on course to be elected president

It is an almost inconceivable political resurrection, but the man widely held responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses of the last years of the Indonesian dictatorship of President Suharto is the front-runner to win the presidency himself.

Maj. Gen. Prabowo Subianto, the son-in-law Suharto, has in the 14 years since the collapse of the old regime refashioned himself beyond belief.

From the personification of all that was vile and violent in the final decade of the Suharto regime

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Turkish party Saadat proposes establishment of Islamic NATO

The chairman of the Turkish party Saadat, Mustafa Kamalak, stated that it is necessary to establish an Islamic NATO and Islamic Peacekeeping Forces as soon as possible, SalamNews reports, citing the Turkish mass media.

The chairman of the party arrived in Morocco to participate in a session of the Justice and Development party. There he met the prime minister of Morocco, Abdelilyah bin Kiran, and the foreign minister, Saadeddin Al Osmani. At the session he proposed establishing an Islamic NATO.

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Abkhazia leaves open the possibility of border strife with Georgia

In the last few weeks, the issue of Georgian-Abkhazian relations has shifted from a purely diplomatic field to some other one once again. The subject of security on the border of Abkhazia with Georgia in the Gali district became the first priority. On 22 June, Stanislav Lakoba, the head of the Security Council of Abkhazia, made a statement which was pompous enough. We are talking about a new round of tensions that could lead to new instability on the Georgian-Abkhaz border, i. e. about destabilization, from which the people of Abkhazia became estranged in recent years.

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Georgia Complains Of Russian ‘Militarization’ In Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry has released a statement claiming that Russia is engaged in “intensive militarization” in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The statement mentioned the recent visit of the head of Russian ground forces General Vladimir Chirkin to both regions and Russian plans to hold military exercises in those regions in September as creating a threat to the peace and stability of Georgia.

The statement said Russia “has nothing to offer the Caucasus except criminal, mafia-style rule and militarization.”

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Taiwan tests new weapons in China war simulation

Taiwan for the first time tested how a fleet of advanced submarine hunting aircraft and attack helicopters would be utilized in the event of an attack by rival China, officials and media said today.

The weapons were included at the beginning of the five-day “Han Kuang No 28″ computer-aided wargame – the biggest of the military’s series of annual drills.

The defense ministry confirmed the drill started today but refused to provide further details.

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Russia’s Ruling Party Seeks ‘Foreign Agent’ Media Bill

United Russia MPs intend to enter media financed from abroad into the “foreign agents” register, Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday.

According to United Russia deputies Vladimir Burmatov and Ilya Kostunov, a number of media services working in Russia, may be categorized as foreign agents in the fall.

A range of amendments will be introduced to the law on the media and they will contain a reference to “media acting in the interests of foreign states” which receives finances from abroad.

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FSB: Federal Security Service stops wiretapping of high-ranking officials

The Federal Security Service (FSB) has put a stop to the illegal activity of a former security services officer and a private detective who were illegally gathering information on the private lives of high-ranking officials by unlafully wiretapping telephone conversations, the service reported on Monday.

“The flats and offices of former security services officer Smirnov and private detective Mikhaylenko, as well as the premises of private security firm Belgan, have been searched as part of the criminal case,” reads the report.

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Inevitable Sword of Heat: US military briefing on directed energy weapons and their history

The March of Laser Technology The year 2010 in particular was a great year for laser weapons. Just how great? The open-source world brims with myriad “firsts” and breakthroughs heralding great change. Here are some of the more recent, perhaps ominous ones:

● Breaking the 100 kW threshold with a solid state laser.
● The Army testing green lasers for defense.
● The U.S. Navy shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles.
● The Army planning to test lasers in shooting down incoming rockets and mortars.

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Israeli study points to Yemen as site of proxy confrontation between Iran, Gulf and the west

The study concluded that the upcoming months will be pivotal for Yemen. “We will know whether the Islamists will be able to take control of Change Square in Sana’a, and how the national dialogue is going to take place which aims to shape a new constitution.”

Sokolsky went on to state that the effective powers in the Yemen each have particular agendas, driving them to seek external powers in order to improve the situation within the country. Thus, Yemen is an arena of confrontation due to its geopolitical position between Iran and Al-Qaeda on one side and the west and the Gulf Initiative on the other.

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Demanding Dominatrix: Merkel wants central control over euro member states

Chancellor Angela Merkel gave no ground on Germany’s demands for more central control over euro member states in return for joint burden-sharing as the region struggles to contain the debt crisis.

The German leader said yesterday she hadn’t softened her stance at last month’s summit in Brussels and that a so-called banking union involving a bloc-wide financial overseer will have to include joint oversight on a “new level.”

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An “Arab Spring” scenario in Central Asia?

Central Asian presidents are deeply worried about the potential contagion and effects of the “Arab Spring” events in their countries – which could spark a democratisation process aimed to modify the political status quo – mainly because they fear to lose their power: moreover, the potential overthrow of their secular governments, a following condition of prolonged instability and uncertainty could draw up a kind of power vacuum which radical Islamist forces could dangerously fill.

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CIA: Five particularly timeless tips from the Simple Sabotage Field Manual

The CIA today published a very interesting piece of its history, the once classified “Simple Sabotage Field Manual,” which defines how the ordinary person could disrupt an ordinary environment, say an office “in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal.”

The booklet was at the time of its distribution, aimed at defining ways to “sabotage the US’ World War II enemies,” the CIA said.

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IDF intelligence units growing to cope with Mideast upheaval

On Thursday, Military Intelligence marked the graduation of another course of new intelligence officers. A senior officer said that the course was the largest in the directorate’s history and saw a 25 percent increase in the number of participants.

“MI is growing due to the changes in Israel’s strategic and operational positions, the need for more technology and the increase in the areas of interest that we follow,” the officer said. According to the officer, among the new areas of interest that Military Intelligence has added to its list are Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan.

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Is it time for a genetically engineered Superman?

So: want to have Superman-like strength? The military is developing exoskeletons that strap onto soldier’s bodies and do the heavy lifting, literally. Soldiers in the field typically tote upwards of 100 pounds on their backs. Strap-on exoskeletons could make this vastly less stressful while also reducing the back injuries that are endemic in the army. Want to stave off the cognitive deficits caused by too little sleep?

Or how about getting by on four hours a night? Something called transcranial magnetic stimulation can help you do that. Or maybe you’d like to move objects using only the power of your mind? It’s possible – and you don’t have to be Uri Geller. In 2011, the Guinness Book of World Records issued an award to the NeuroSky MindWave, a brainwave reader, for the “heaviest machine moved using a brain control interface.”

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TURKMENISTAN Quietly Builds Up Caspian Military Might

When it comes to the brewing arms race in the Caspian Sea region, no one can accuse Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of navel-gazing. Ashgabat is now able to back its claims to some energy-rich patches of the sea with considerable firepower.

Abundant energy resources under and around the sea have pushed all five littoral states – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan – to bolster their naval capabilities. Analysts agree that Russia has the most powerful flotilla on the Caspian. But who is Number Two is a matter of debate.

Iran traditionally has played second fiddle to Russia on the Caspian.

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Hit-and-run: Rioters’ new tactic in Saudi Arabia’s unrest-hit east

Petrol bombs were thrown during the night by unknown attackers at a parking lot of a Saudi Arabian court in the kingdom’s unrest-hit Shiite-populated east, an official and witnesses said on Sunday.

They said the bombs were thrown in the parking lot outside the compound of the court in Qatif district, setting the plastic shades that covered the area on fire.

“The shades of the parking lot outside the court caught fire,” said a civil defence official in Eastern Province as videos posted on social networking websites showed the blaze.

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Turkey And Israel Display Military Mettle In Energy Rich Cyprus

Defence Minister Demetris Iliadis condemned Turkey for infringement of the freedom of navigation at sea as Turkish naval and airborne forces conduct military exercises within the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

British and Israeli forces will also be conducting military exercises within the island’s EEZ after having procured the consent of the island’s Defence Ministry.

Iliadis said that the government would be considering filing a complaint in international forums regarding Turkey’s provocative actions in the region.

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Top HASC Democrat Backs Military-Centric U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa

Nobody in war-fatigued Washington these days wants to hear this, but the United States needs to step up its military presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking minority member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Having recently returned from his second congressional oversight trip to Africa, Smith is convinced that the U.S. military is needed in that region, not to fight wars, but to train local forces and to help create conditions for economic development, he told an audience of foreign policy experts July 12 at the American Security Project, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

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Africa: U.S. Military Steps Up Its ‘Sustained Engagement’ With Africa

A stepped-up role for the American military, which has been the subject of widespread discussion and debate since the establishment of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) in 2008, has been getting more U.S. press attention in recent weeks.

“The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa,” the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reported last month in the first of a series of ground-breaking articles. Whitlock described “a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.”

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Oil dispute, proxy wars threaten stability of the two Sudans

ONE YEAR AFTER the Republic of South Sudan celebrated its independence, people in the capital of Juba still speak hopefully about freedom and dignity after decades of war. But the sad reality is that the south, freshly minted as a nation, and Sudan, from which it seceded, face deepening instability. True, in the past year they did not fight a full-scale war like the one that cost 2 million lives, but that’s about the best that can be said. Both countries remain in terrible shape.

A halt in oil shipments from the south is punishing both economies.

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Arab spring took British intelligence by surprise, report says

Britain’s intelligence agencies were surprised by the Arab spring, and their failure to realise unrest would spread so rapidly may reveal a lack of understanding of the region, according to the parliamentary body set up to scrutinise their activities.

A particularly sharp passage of the intelligence and security committee’s (ISC) report describes as “ill-considered” an attempt by MI6 to smuggle into Libya two officers who were promptly seized by rebels.

The report says that at the time the Arab spring erupted, both MI6 and GCHQ, the government’s electronic eavesdropping centre, were cutting resources devoted to Arab countries.

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Lithuania trying to throw off Soviet-era energy shackles

An aide to the Lithuanian President has said Russia is intent on keeping the Baltic countries inside its energy supply grip.

“For them [Russia], it is a vital interest. In Russia’s military strategy, Russia defines decreasing energy dependency as a national security threat,” Mindaugas Zickus told reporters in Vilnius on Tuesday (10 July).

They [Russia] were the only ones up to now to have the power to [set the energy] price and they want to do everything to retain that power [and] to dictate price. It is in their national interest to keep us in their electricity grid, to prevent the Baltic states, not only Lithuania, from building any alternative energy supply lines,” he explained.

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Israel to build “Iron Dome” rocket interceptor on Egypt’s Sinai border

The country’s media reported on Wednesday that it would be the first time the interceptors were being deployed near Egypt, but they have been used to track rocket attacks from Gaza.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the battery “will be placed near Eilat as part of an operational deployment program which includes changing the locations of the batteries from time to time,” in comments published by Reuters news agency.

Iron Dome, a system produced with American funding, uses radar-guided missiles to blow up Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of 5-70 km (3-45 miles) and mortar bombs in mid-air, Reuters said.

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U.S. Sends New Navy Forward Staging Ship to Gulf in Escalation Against Iran

The U.S. sent the U.S.S. Ponce, described as a floating command post for forays into Iran, to Gulf waters for the first time. Although, the Ponce has been described as a forward staging base for attacks against Iran by special forces personnel, the latest PR from the Navy minimizes the ship’s offensive capabilities. Instead, it describes it as an anti-mine vessel that can also serve as a floating repair dock for other navy ships.

There can be no doubt that this is further psychological warfare intended to show the Iranians we’re serious about our military threat against them should they go nuclear.

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United Nation’s use of mercenaries ‘out of control,’ warns watchdog

The forum said that the increasing UN use of these companies is “dangerous,” may increase rather than reduce threats and attacks on UN buildings and personnel and suggests the system is “unaccountable and out of control.”

Even incomplete UN data shows a steady rise in the number of security contracts, with the value increasing from $44 million (£28.8m) in 2009 to $76m (£48.8m) in 2010, the latest data available.

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21st Century Dictators Take Cues From Activists to Hold on to Power

It’s never been harder to be a dictator, says at least one analyst. Faced with rapid demographic growth, massive increases in unemployment for college graduates, and changes in the information environment, modern authoritarian regimes are increasingly coming under challenge. But in response, they are using 21st-century techniques themselves, to wield their power and maintain the status quo.

In the battle between repression and freedom in the 21st century, opposition movements are increasingly turning to modern technology and non-violent methods.

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Reset: The ‘Great Game’ 2.0

Russia’s plan to use regional organizations as levers in Central Asia has some flaws, argues Richard Weitz.

Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) highlights the growing influence of this often overlooked Moscow-led military alliance in Eurasia. But it also underscores the limited ability of Russia to dominate the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Even more, it indicates how the typical “great game competition” framework for analyzing great power competition in the region is misleading.

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Another One Bites The Dust: San Bernardino officials OK bankruptcy

The San Bernardino [Calif.] City Council voted Tuesday to file for municipal bankruptcy because of a $45 million budget shortfall.

The vote came after interim City Manager Andrea Miller told the council San Bernardino has “an immediate cash-flow issue,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The city negotiated $10 million in concessions from municipal employees and cut the workforce by 20 percent during the past four years but that wasn’t enough to head off the budget shortfall, the newspaper said.

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