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Archive | September, 2012

Papers Please: FSB to create massive domestic passenger database

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According to a new Transportation Ministry order, starting July 1, 2013 data about every passenger who enters or exits any region in Russia will be added to a new FSB/Interior Ministry database. The Transport Ministry has published the text of the new rules in the ‘Russian Gazette.’ The FSB and Interior Ministry are ordering this new database in order to track the route of any person that law enforcement on the ground deems suspicious.

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China Eyes Afghan Goldmine

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A failed state on China’s borders would be serious enough; one controlled by Islamist extremists who might offer support to insurgents in Xinjiang would be even worse.

Nor is Afghanistan a place that a resource-hungry nation like China would want to ignore, even if it could. The $1 trillion value placed on Afghanistan’s makes the country a prize as yet unclaimed, for the most part

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Japan and China ‘heading for military clash’

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“There is a danger of China and Japan having a military conflict,” said Yan Xuetong, one of China’s most influential foreign policy strategists, and a noted hawk. “I do not see either side making concessions. Both sides want to solve the situation peacefully, but neither side can provide the right approach.”

He warned that unless one side backed down, there could be a repeat of the Falklands conflict in Asia.

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US, Gulf countries seek to advance missile defence plan

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The United States and its Gulf partners are looking to deepen cooperation on missile defence as tensions rise with Iran, and announcements could come soon on new purchases, US officials said late on Friday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) officials in New York as Washington seeks to boost regional defences against perceived Iranian threats.

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Why Algeria will not intervene in the Sahel

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Why does Algeria not intervene in the Sahel? This is the great mystery that intrigues diplomats based in Algiers.

Algeria is after all the head of Cemoc the army of the sahel nations based in Tamanrasset.All indications are that Algeria is crucial to the liberation of Northern Mali. It is the leader of the Sahel armies, the Committee of Joint Chiefs (CEMOC) has its headquarters at Tamanrasset ,yet Algeria refuses any military involvement in Northern Mali, to the frustration and bewilderment of diplomats,including French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius

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Operation Sabre: France to Send Weapons to Sahel Ahead of Militiary Intervention

Militiaman from the Ansar Dine Islamic group ride on an armed vehicle between Gao and Kidal in northeastern Mali

France has granted its allies in the Sahel region a new batch of weapons ahead of a possible deployment of African troops in the Azawad region in northern Mali. A senior security source said that the countdown to a military intervention in northern Mali has begun, the exact date of which will be determined by France.

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Georgia, USA to discuss danger emanating from Russian military base in Armenia

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Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and US Deputy State Secretary Bill Burns discussed the danger emanating from a Russian military base in Armenia.

“The situation in the region regarding the concentration of Russian military forces in North Caucasus and their transfer to Gyumri which endangers the region, was discussed,” Vashadze stated.

The upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia, along with the situation in the Caucasian region and issues of cooperation within international organisations were also the subjects of negotiation during the meeting.

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China: What Kind of Superpower?

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There are some reasons to worry about the coming Chinese Century. The country’s domestic and international human-rights record is obscene. It’s been less than a quarter century since the government opened fire on unarmed citizens in the heart of the nation’s capital, and only 50 years since the Communist Party’s so-called Great Leap Forward killed tens of millions. Dissidents are still regularly imprisoned or disappear.

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Turkish official: NATO missile system not against any specific country

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A senior Turkish foreign ministry official Thursday said Turkey has contributed to the operational effectiveness of NATO’s ballistic missile defence capability by hosting two early warning radars on its territory but stressed that they are not directed against any country.

“Turkey’s decision to host the radar was a difficult one. Given the sensitivity felt in the Turkish public opinion,” Bulent Meric, Director General for international security affairs at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said.

“In the face of negative domestic and regional reactions to host the radar ,” he said Turkey’s move should be appreciated as our robust commitment to NATO solidarity.”

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Bunker Mentality: Iran quietly makes massive wheat buy

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Iran’s state grains agency GTC has discreetly snapped up around 1 million tonnes of milling wheat in the past 2 weeks mostly from the European Union, traders said on Thursday, showing increased ability to import food despite financial sanctions.

Iran has in the past exported wheat but Western sanctions aimed at its disputed nuclear programme coincided with a bad harvest, forcing the country to quietly enter global markets and make substantial wheat purchases to feed its large population. While sanctions don’t target food shipments, they make it difficult for importers to obtain letters of credit or conduct international transfers of funds through banks.

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How realistic is Arab military intervention in Syria

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Qatar’s call for Arab military intervention in Syria would be difficult to achieve practically and politically, and would risk dragging the region into an all-out conflict, analysts say.

Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on Tuesday urged Arab action over war-torn Syria because of the failure of the UN Security Council and other international efforts to end the conflict.

Because of this failure, “it is better for Arab countries to intervene themselves out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed,” Sheikh Hamad told the General Assembly.

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Ignore the Georgian Elections at Your Own Risk

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What with the Arab Spring, Israeli threats to attack Iran, and the bloodshed in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the world has largely forgotten the troubled Caucasus region.

But European and Western leaders would do well to take another look at what is happening there, four years after Georgia’s 2008 war with Russia proved the dangers still posed by unresolved military conflicts from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Eurogeddon: Spain Breaking Apart As Catalonia Seeks Independence

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This historic region on the Mediterranean — a center of European industrial design and tourism — has special status as an autonomous district of Spain known as Catalonia.

And as financial problems mount for Spain, many here want to get a whole lot more autonomous.

Spain is entering its second recession in four years and some Catalans say they are getting little for the river of tax revenue they send to Madrid annually. The solution they say is an independent nation.

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US Department of Homeland Security looking for (more than) a few good drones

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The US Department of Homeland Security this week issued a call for unmanned systems makers to participate in a program that will ultimately determine their safety and performance for use in first responder, law enforcement and border security situations. In a twist that will certainly raise some eyebrows, the program’s results of the ironically named program — The Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) — will remain unavailable to the public

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Disband secret agencies ‘death squads’, stop covert action in Balochistan: SC

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The Supreme Court on Thursday called for an end to military operations against the Baloch and for the disbanding of the ‘death squads’ of the intelligence agencies operating in Balochistan. The court also sought the civil and military leadership’s “black and white” reaction to the worsening law and order situation in the restive province and to the suggestions made by former chief minister Balochistan Sardar Akhtar Mengal.

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‘CIA sends monthly fax to ISI outlining drone attack plans’

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About once a month, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sends a fax to a general at Pakistan’s intelligence service outlining broad areas where the United States intends to conduct strikes with drone aircraft and Pakistanis, who in public oppose the strikes, don’t respond, US officials have said.

“On this basis, plus the fact that Pakistan continues to clear airspace in the targeted areas, the US government concludes it has tacit consent to conduct strikes within the borders of a sovereign nation,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) quoted officials familiar with the programme.

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Global Currency Wars In Full Escalation

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The worldwide currency debasement war has now entered a new and more deadly phase. Central banks have escalated the combat plan to bring about the world’s weakest currency for their individual countries. On the heels of the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank’s promises of unlimited counterfeiting forever, the Bank of Japan announced last week that it would expand its purchase of Japanese Government Bonds (and other assets including equities) by 10 trillion Yen. This brings the latest round of BOJ intervention to a total of 80 trillion Yen!

The sad fact is that the developed world’s central banks are in a desperate battle of one-upmanship.

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US, France Seek African Force for Mali

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The United States and France want the United Nations to back an African-led peacekeeping force to restore order in northern Mali, where Tuareg militants and al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists have expanded their reach since the March coup against the civilian government in Bamako.

French President Francois Hollande says the time has come for the U.N. Security Council to approve an African-led force for Mali.

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US is trying to make Armenia its ally in the region: Truman National Security Project

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Few countries are in better position to shape US foreign policy than Armenia.Armenia borders Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran. As a part of the former Soviet Union, it relies on nearby Russia extensively for trade and military backing. The US has a significant stake in all five countries, and Armenia is now coming into view as a potentially potent lever to advance American aims.That is, if the Armenians can be won over.As the US tries to woo Armenia to become a stronger ally in the region, the term “geostrategic” has never been more apt.

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New Fuel Player in Hot Spot

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Lebanon becomes the fourth country to search for natural gas in Eastern Mediterranean. However, the area is disputed with Israel and Greek Cyprus, which are advanced in oil and gas search there along with Turkey

Lebanon is technically ready to start drilling for offshore natural gas reserves, its energy minister has said, after exploration in around half the country’s exclusive economic zone was completed.

Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Greek Cyprus and Turkey are all much more advanced in drilling for oil and gas.

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MEK: Our Favorite Terrorists

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You should know that MEK was only taken off of the US’ terrorist list after years of high pressure lobbying by a veritable galaxy of the some of the biggest and most expensive stars in Washington. Bill Clinton placed them on the terrorist list in 1997, and this decision was reaffirmed by the Bush administration in 2007.

It’s a sad commentary on the way things get done in DC, but it’s extremely doubtful whether the terrorist designation change on MEK could have been accomplished any other way. Political celebrities were hired by the dozens to sing the praises of MEK. If you want Democrats, you could find Howard Dean, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, or Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

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Intervention in Mali: France launches ‘Opération Sabre’ in West Africa

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France has announced the deployment of a military mission dubbed Opération Sabre to rescue its nationals held hostage and flush out Islamist terror groups in the West Africa region.

French officials said 80 military vehicles, helicopter pilot trainers as well as commandos from contingents in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa were expected to join Operation Sabre or sword.

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Law enforcement to identify & store millions of voices via Russian biometric software

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The FBI Biometric Center of Excellence said that voice recognition systems are “a popular choice for remote authentication due to the availability of devices for collecting speech samples (e.g., telephone network and computer microphones) and its ease of integration.” Furthermore, the FBI believes voice biometrics will be a “reliable and consistent means of identification for use in remote recognition.” Deploying voice recognition requires no “special equipment” other than a good quality microphone which most of us have thanks to our mobile phones.

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The strategic triangle in the East: China, Russia and the US

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While economic issues have taken priority in negotiations between the two countries, Washington is increasingly concerned about Beijing’s military buildup. China is now capable of defending its own territory, but, more importantly, has also begun developing military capacity that will allow it to expand its “security perimeter” into the Pacific region.

The United States released a new defense policy early this year, which introduced an important change to the country’s military strategy. For the first time, the policy has named China, along with Iran, as a potential enemy of America.

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Can a Military Coup Occur in the GCC Countries?

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According to a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the sweeping unrest has forced the GCC governments to spend $150 billion, in the first half of 2011, to appease widespread discontent of its populations.

Clear signs of unrest are evident in the GCC states. They have vast populations of underpaid workers, from Pakistan and India, and are governed by ruling families with little consideration for democracy. Bahrain has a Sunni ruling family, but the majority of its citizens are Shi’a. Saudi Arabia has a repressive regime ruled by old and ailing sons of the nation’s founder Ibn Saud. Furthermore, there is growing unrest on the southern part of the peninsula in Yemen.

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Caucasus Tensions: Russia approves protocol on military base deployment in Armenia

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Russian government has approved the draft protocol on provisions of deployment of the Russian military base in the territory of Armenia, the government press service said.

Russia’s ministries of defense and foreign affairs were instructed to hold talks with the Armenian side and after reaching agreement to sign the protocol on behalf of the Russian government without making crucial amendments.

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China Carrier A Show Of Force As Japan Tension Festers

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China sent its first aircraft carrier into formal service on Tuesday amid a tense maritime dispute with Japan in a show of force that could worry its neighbours.

China’s Ministry of Defence said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”.

In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say.

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Leak reveals EU surveillance of communications

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CleanIT is duplicating much of the work of the CEO Coalition (child protection), which is also financed by the European Commission. Both create “voluntary” rules for notification and removal of possibly illegal content, explained EDRI.

Within the “best practices” to be discussed described in the leaked document we can find: “removal of any legislation preventing filtering/surveillance of employees’ Internet connections”, “law enforcement authorities should be able to have content removed, without following the more labour-intensive and formal procedures for ‘notice and action” and “Governments should use the helpfulness of ISPs as a criterion for awarding public contracts.”

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Occupy Earth: U.S. Marines, GSDF ‘retake island’ in Guam drill

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he Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marine Corps on Saturday held a joint drill on Guam aimed at bolstering their ability to defend remote islands.

The exercise was shown to the media and conducted amid rising tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands dispute. The uninhabited islets in the East China Sea are controlled by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

Saturday’s drill on the U.S. territory and vacation spot in the Western Pacific, was the final part of a wider island-focused exercise combining Japanese and U.S. forces. The GSDF said it was not designed or carried out with any specific island or foreign aggressor in mind, and that about 40 of its troops took part.

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U.S. expands its secret war in Africa

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President Barack Obama’s “secret wars” against al-Qaida are steadily widening, most notably in Africa, with the U.S. military’s Special Forces Operation Command doubling in size and the CIA’s strike capabilities undergoing a radical expansion, international analysts said.

“Ad hoc global ‘counter-terrorism’ efforts that began under President George W. Bush, and were encouraged by Obama, have now become institutionalized — and the bureaucracy that wages U.S. ‘secret wars’ will continue to expand for the next couple of years, particularly in Africa,” Oxford Analytica observed in a recent assessment.

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RAND Corp: ‘India must prepare for conventional wars with Pakistan, China’

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India must prepare itself for future conventional wars with Pakistan and China since nuclear deterrence is not a panacea as demonstrated by the 1999 Kargil War, says a new report by a US think tank.

“On a strategic level, the Kargil War vividly demonstrated that a stable bilateral nuclear deterrence relationship can markedly inhibit such regional conflicts in intensity and scale-if not preclude them altogether,” says the report on the role of the Indian Air Force by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“In the absence of the nuclear stabilising factor, those flash points could erupt into open-ended conventional showdowns for the highest stakes,” says the report by Benjamin S. Lambeth, a senior research associate at the RAND Corporation.

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Why Exxon Is More Interested In The Caspian Than The Gulf Of Mexico

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The assertion: Exxon is coming into Azerbaijan, and expect it to be big in Baku.

The ‘horse’s mouth’ was none other than Vitaliy Baylarbayov, Deputy Vice President of SOCAR, and far more importantly, SOCAR’s point man dealing with Southern corridor gas negotiations in Europe. The extremely able Mr. Baylarbayov made categorically clear to an international audience that Exxon was in formative discussions with SOCAR looking into pre-existing and potentially new plays in the Caspian. And doing so on the ‘largest possible fields’.

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Deadly Attack in Libya Was Major Blow to C.I.A. Efforts

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The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans has dealt the Central Intelligence Agency a major setback in its intelligence-gathering efforts at a time of increasing instability in the North African nation.

Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen C.I.A. operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city.

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North threatens South Korea after sea clash

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On Friday around noon, South Korean patrol vessels spotted six North Korean crab boats south of the so-called Northern Limit Line. The navy fired two warning shots at about 3:00pm as they resisted dropping back despite broadcast warning messages.

None of the ships were hit and they retreated to their waters by 4:00pm, the defence ministry said.

Later Saturday, another North Korean fishing vessel was reported to have violated the boundary.

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Russia on the brink of stagnation – economist

Alexei-Kudrin

Russia is on the brink of stagnation and only has limited time to brace for an impending global slump, former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told Reuters.

Kudrin, a widely respected fiscal hawk who quit 12 months ago, said “unprecedented” policy action taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other major central banks might delay a debt crisis by “maybe a year”.

“As soon as these measures fade, the crisis could resume,” Kudrin said in an interview on Friday before the Reuters Russia Investment Summit, to be held in Moscow from Sept. 24-27.

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Georgia, South Ossetia Both Claim Preparations For New Hostilities

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Meeting earlier this week with the co-chairmen of the ongoing Geneva talks on the security and human rights repercussions of the August 2008 war, two senior South Ossetian politicians accused Georgia of engaging in a new military buildup that they fear presages a new attack on their breakaway region.

The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) released a statementthree days later saying it “has not observed any evidence to support those claims.” At the same time, the EUMM said it had registered, and conveyed to the Russian authorities its concern about, a concentration of Russian forces along the “administrative boundary line” separating South Ossetia from the rest of Georgia.

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Israel denies trying to block Jordan’s nuclear development

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King Abdullah II – one of Israel’s few allies in the region – claimed that Israel has intervened to prevent international support for Jordan’s nuclear programme in a wide-ranging interview with the French news agency AFP last Wednesday.

“A Jordanian delegation would approach a potential partner, and one week later an Israeli delegation would be there, asking our interlocutors not to support Jordan’s nuclear energy bid,” King Abdullah said.

“Against this backdrop, I feel that those who oppose our peaceful nuclear programme for all the wrong reasons are furthering Israeli interests more efficiently than Israel could ever do.”

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Web of Entangled Alliances: U.S. Says Disputed Islands Covered by Defense Treaty With Japan

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said islands at the heart of a dispute between Japan and China fall under an American defense pact with Japan, while urging the sides to resolve the standoff via diplomacy.

“We want to focus more on issues associated with the maintenance of peace and stability and less on the particular details of this very complex and challenging matter,” Campbell told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee yesterday. He said the islands fall under a treaty which obligates the U.S. to defend Japan if it’s attacked.

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The slow bank run that could still doom Europe

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For one, banks in these “periphery” countries now have to offer higher interest rates to entice depositors and get money. Some Greek banks now pay as much as 5 percent interest on their deposits. In turn, this means that Greek and Spanish banks have to charge higher interest rates on the money they lend. Businesses are paying more to borrow money. Those higher rates stifle economic activity and make it harder for countries like Spain and Italy to grow.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that such financial “fragmentation” could undermine the euro zone. The countries with the biggest debt problems — Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy — are now having trouble revving up their economies because of the drain on their banks.

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Mideast ambitions: Turkey and Egypt seek alliance

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The image of an Ottoman sultan glowered at the gridlock from a highway billboard in the Egyptian capital, hands clasped, his feathered headgear and gold-hewn epaulettes in elegant contrast to the grind of traffic below. The poster for a Turkish-made movie about the 1453 fall of Constantinople recalled the early feats of an empire that eventually ruled the Middle East and beyond.

Egypt, like Turkey, has its own grand history – evident in the pyramids and other monuments that its ancients left behind, and in a national pride that’s distinctive in the Arab world.

The descendants of yesterday’s sultans and pharaohs, so to speak, also have ambitions of an outsized role for their respective countries. Each wants to speak for the Middle East.

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‘Adventure Camp’ for Recruits: Critics Slam German Military Ad Aimed at Teens

Screenshot Bundeswehr/ Bravo

“Are you a mountain or a beach type?” asks a new German military ad aimed at teens. While it may seem appealing to adolescents, the video selling “adventure camps” for young recruits is a misrepresentation of military service and a violation of children’s rights, critics say.

Pop music plays over vacation pictures that cut between idyllic mountains and blindingly white beaches in a video clip advertising “Adventure Camps” run by the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces. Teens participating in the camps can travel in a “real army plane” to Sardinia, where they can take part in “crazy water battles,” it says.

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India Hit by Nationwide Strike Over Economic Reforms

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In India, a day-long nationwide strike called by political parties from both the left and right to protest a fuel price hike and other economic reforms has disrupted life. The strike comes as the government grapples with political uncertainty.

Tens of thousands of slogan-shouting protesters marched through streets in major cities, shops closed and transport services were disrupted in some places.

But, although cities in opposition strongholds such as Bangalore and Kolkata virtually came to halt. But businesses remained open in other cities, such as the capital, New Delhi, and the financial hub, Mumbai.

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People Can Be Tricked into Reversing Their Opinions on Morality

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People can be tricked into reversing their opinions on moral issues, even to the point of constructing good arguments to support the opposite of their original positions, researchers report today in PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by Lars Hall, a cognitive scientist at Lund University in Sweden, recruited 160 volunteers to fill out a 2-page survey on the extent to which they agreed with 12 statements — either about moral principles relating to society in general or about the morality of current issues in the news, from prostitution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

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‘Future of Europe’ Group Backs Plan For European Military Force

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GERMANY, France and nine of Europe’s most powerful countries have called for an elected European Union president and an end to Britain’s veto over defence policy, in a radical blueprint for the continent’s future.

In a document released following a meeting between 11 foreign ministers in Warsaw, the bloc charted a vision for the ”future of Europe”.

As well as calling for a single, elected head of state for Europe, the bloc demanded a new defence policy, under the control of a pan-EU foreign ministry commanded by Baroness Ashton, which ”could eventually involve a European army”.

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Private Military Companies May Appear in Russia – Rogozin

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Russia’s significant economic interests abroad often operate in “difficult” conditions, and such companies would facilitate their work, said Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s military-industrial complex.

“We are thinking about whether our money should go toward financing foreign private security [and] military companies, or whether we should consider the feasibility of such companies in Russia itself,” he said.

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Bionic Eyes: Sensors that use lookout’s brainwaves to spot trouble

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Developed by a team of researchers from HRL Laboratories, Quantum Applied Science and Research, Advanced Brain Monitoring, and the University of California San Diego, the CT2WS system uses a combination of a 120-megapixel wide-field digital video camera, image processing software, and an electroencephalogram (EEG) “cap” that is worn by the operator. Scanning a 120-degree arc with its digital camera, the system presents up to 10 images per second to the sensor operator, monitoring for a specific type of brain activity—the P-300 brainwave

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China fears India backing Japan as tussle escalates

Yukio Hatoyama, Manmohan Singh

Chinese officials are worried that the growing relationship between India and Japan, its main rival, is meant to contain and counter it. This revelation comes from two Chinese experts at a time when China is engaged in a serious conflict with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands.

“India’s border disputes with China have yet to be resolved, therefore it views a stronger relationship with Japan as a way to counter balance China’s growing influence in the Asia Pacific region,” the experts said in an article published by the government owned think-tank, China Institute of International Studies.

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Self Appointed ‘Future of Europe group’ bids for foreign policy, defence clout

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A self-appointed “Future of Europe Group” of 11 EU foreign ministers published yesterday (18 September) its “final’ report, calling for a stronger EU role in foreign and defence policy. Many of their ideas appear to mirror proposals put forward by Commission President José Manuel Barroso in his recent State of the Union speech.

The report finalising seven months of work was adopted during a meeting of the Future of Europe Group held in Warsaw on 17 September, a press release of the Polish foreign ministry says.

The final meeting of the group was attended by the foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

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Israel army in largest snap exercise to simulate war scenario

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Israel’s military launched a surprise large-scale exercise on Wednesday on the occupied Golan Heights, testing its battle readiness amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear drive and civil war in Syria.

A military spokeswoman, appearing to play down any speculation the drill heralded imminent hostilities with Iran or Syria, said it was part of a routine training schedule. A similar snap exercise was held around this time a year ago.

Israel has urged world powers to set a red line for Tehran’s nuclear programme, saying time was running out to stop what it sees as its quest for atomic arms and raising international concern it could launch a go-it-alone strike against Iran.

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Israel Plans to Deploy Defense Force To Guard Leviathan Pipeline

Israel, Cyprus Sign Military Deal To Protect Energy Resources....

Cabinet ministers will soon be exposed to a new term – “exclusive economic zone” – and a new mission placed before the IDF, and will be asked to approve its financing. Until now the navy has protected Israel’s territorial waters, which extend 23 kilometers beyond the coastline. Following the successful exploration of the “Tamar” and “Leviathan” gas fields, the navy now has the added mission of defending off-shore drilling rigs, one of which is situated 150 kilometers from the coast, far beyond Israel’s territorial waters.

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China Policy Makers May Impose Sanctions On Japan Over Island Dispute

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China could use its position as Japan’s largest creditor or other economic leverage if Tokyo doesn’t back down in a heated territorial dispute, a senior Chinese researcher said.

Jin Baisong, the deputy director of a policy research unit affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said China should weigh its clout in the Japanese bond market as its seeks to find ways to “impose sanctions on Japan in the most effective manner”.

The statement suggested China could dump its $230 million worth of Japanese government bonds.

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Nicaragua formalizes pullout of School of Assassins

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The ‘School of the Americas’ (SOA) occupies a very dark place in Latin American history.

The U.S. military academy, based in Fort Benning, Georgia, has been training Latin American soldiers for well over half a century. More than 64,000 have passed through its doors, a significant number of which have been accused and convicted of human rights abuses. It has educated 11 dictators, including Panama’s former drug-dealing strongman, Manuel Noriega, and El Salvador’s Roberto D’Aubuisson, who controlled that country’s infamous death squads.

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Former Justice Souter: ‘Pervasive civic ignorance’ in U.S. could bring dictatorship

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Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter thinks the decline of civic education is putting the United States in danger.

During a question and answer session last week at University of New Hampshire School of Law, Souter described “pervasive civic ignorance” as one of the biggest problems in the United States. He warned that Americans’ ignorance about their own government could lead to a dictatorship.

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Chinese Defence Minister: ‘China could take action against Japan’ over disputed islands

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China’s national defense minister warned that Beijing reserves the right to take further action against Japan in the ongoing dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Standing next to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, General Liang Guanglie said Japan should bear full responsibility for the dispute, which has triggered violent protests in China against the Japanese. Panetta has been pressing both Liang and defense leaders in Japan to find ways to resolve the problem peacefully and diplomatically.

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Can China repeat its 1962 military humiliation of India?

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Can the history of India’s humiliation at the hands of China in 1962 repeat itself? As we approach the 50th anniversary of the humiliation next month, we have to analyse this question in depth in our governmental national security community as well as outside. It is important for the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) to organise a series of brainstorming on this subject with the participation of experts on China from the government and outside.

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Land Grab Convergence: China Military Drills Focus On Seizing Japanese Islands By Force

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Amid a raging dispute with Japan over islands in East China Sea, Chinese army has scaled up its military exercises on all fronts including aerial drills by its air force in Tibet as well as by special forces.

Special operations forces from the PLA have began an annual set of military drills aimed at training reconnaissance capabilities and survival skills, state-run CCTV reported.

While its naval forces in the East China Sea practiced capture of islands, state media here carried picture of Air Force planes flying over Himalayas in a formation.

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Return to Sanity in Europe?: EU Considers Splitting Up Major Banks

Plenary session in Strasbourg

In Europe, breaking up the banks was long seen as more of a subject for armchair economists than a real prospect. But in recent weeks, even corporate leaders like Nikolaus von Bomhard, head of the insurance giant Munich Re, and Klaus Engel, CEO of chemical manufacturer Evonik Industries, have conceded that they would like to see a separation between high-risk investment banking and other bank operations.

Despite numerous reforms in the financial sector, there is one problem regulators have yet to solve: Many banks are so big that no country can afford to allow them to fail. This is why the government bailed out a number of financial companies starting in 2008, a move that allowed major banks like Deutsche Bank to grow even larger.

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Sri Lanka is no stage for India-China rivalry: Envoy

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Amid New Delhi’s concerns over growing military ties between Beijing and Colombo, Sri Lanka’s envoy Prasad Kariyawasam has said there is no zero-sum game between India and China. He said his country will not be reduced to a stage for the two rising Asian powers to play out their “rivalry”.

“We are not in the habit of looking at our relations with India and China as a zero-sum game,” the envoy told IANS in an interview here.

“We will not allow our land or sea to be used for any inimical purpose by one country against the other,” the envoy said.

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In a first, Indian tank brigades to defend China border

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The army’s defences on the China border will get a major offensive boost with the impending deployment of two tank brigades, one each in Ladakh and north-east India. This is the first time that India will deploy armoured formations on the China border. Such formations, equipped with main battle tanks and BMP-II infantry combat vehicles, are traditionally used for striking into enemy territory.

Authoritative MoD (Ministry of Defence) sources tell Business Standard that the plan, cleared by the MoD, involves raising six new armoured regiments, equipped with 348 tanks (58 tanks per regiment, including reserves). In addition, three mechanised infantry battalions will be raised, amounting to about 180 BMP-IIs.

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US Strengthens Georgia’s Military Doctrine and Air Defenses

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Obama is sending a group of military engineers to Georgia in September for this purpose.

The bolstering of Georgia’s air defenses comes as a result of six-point plan between the American and Georgian presidents early in 2012, intended help Georgia boost its military capabilities.

Georgian defense minister Dimitry Shashkin says the military experts are coming to study the country’s air defenses. Afterwards, the implementation of the the six-point plan will go into its second stage. Specifically, US experts will write a report about how Georgia’s air defenses should be strenghened, considering current threats.

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Unrest grows among South Africa’s miners

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It was a scene right out of a television newsreel of a quarter century ago – armed police firing into a crowd of strikers. Not tear gas, mind you, not even the rubber bullets made infamous by the British during three decades of sectarian strife in Northern Ireland, but real bullets which ended up taking the lives of 44 people and wounding 78 others. The shooting took place last month at a platinum mine at Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg.

The unrest among miners began with a violent six-week strike at another platinum mine in January and intensified last month when workers at the Marikana refused to go into the shafts and staged demonstrations. That’s when the police fired on the crowd and fanned the flames of unrest.

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Is Greece a security risk for NATO?

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Greece staying in the eurozone is not just an economic question, some experts say. It is also a geopolitical concern. They argue that a Greek exit could have negative effects for NATO. But is that really the case?

The endless discussions about the future of Greece took an unexpected turn in Germany recently, and it had nothing to do with if, or when, the country would leave the eurozone. Instead, politicians focused on the potential security risk to the European Union, if Greece were to abandon the currency.

They presented a nightmare scenario in which economic instability leads to political volatility and regional unrest.

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SAIS experts see possible energy role in EurAsia’s political future

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Energy potentially could play a significant role if EurAsian countries successfully form alliances to exploit their crude oil, natural gas, and other mineral resources, experts from Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies suggested.

EurAsia’s biggest energy producers and consumers often are adjacent, Calder observed. He said Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East export 27 million b/d of crude, while South and East Asian nations import some 18 million b/d. Interdependence could grow as various national interests grow more complementary, he added.

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Report: US Positioning Forces in as Many as 18 Locations

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A U.S. defense official told the publication on a separate occasion that the Pentagon was considering sending 50 Marines to guard the embassy in Sudan, where protesters breached the American and German embassies on Friday. The country government officially rejected the request Saturday.

The Department of Defense has already announced it is sending 100 Marines to Libya and Yemen.

“We have to be prepared in the event that these demonstrations get out of control,” Panetta said.

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‘We’d do anything for Israel, but we don’t do that,’ say Mossad’s female secret weapons

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The secret sisterhood admit that they often feel they are “living in a movie, on a constant high” but are at pains to dismiss the idea that they are merely sexual weapons.

“A man who wants to gain access to a forbidden area has less chance of being allowed in. A smiling woman has a bigger chance of success,” Yael, a Mossad legend, tells Lady Globes.

“We use our femininity because any means is valid,” says Efrat, another agent.

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There are 50 senior agents in Turkey, ex-spy says

Philip Giraldi cia

Giraldi said he thought there were 15-20 high-ranking CIA agents in Turkey working on the Syrian conflict alone.

“They would be paramilitary agents,” Giraldi said. “They would be based at the consulate in Adana or the İncirlik Air Base, but could operate in the field as well,” Giraldi said, adding that the agents would not cross into Syria but would direct intelligence operations from within Turkey in collaboration with Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT).

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Could Iran’s Enemies Really Be Destroying Its Rain Clouds?

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly accused his country’s enemies of creating a drought in Iran by somehow destroying or co-opting its share of rain clouds.

“The enemy destroys the clouds that are headed towards our country and this is a war Iran will win,” Ahmadinejad said on Monday, according to Iranian news reports cited by Reuters.

Iranian authorities have made this claim repeatedly in the past year. During a severe drought in the Islamic republic last fall, Ahmadinejad said European countries were using “special equipment” to dump rainwater on their continent, leaving nothing for Iran.

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After “Fort Knox” break-in, U.S. nuclear stockpile security in focus

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A shocking security breach at what was supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the United States has put new attention on a proposal to overhaul the way the government oversees its nuclear laboratories and weapons plants.

Three aging anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, cut through fences surrounding a facility where highly enriched uranium, a key component of nuclear bombs, is stored. They vandalized its exterior, going unstopped until they walked up to a security guard’s car and surrendered.

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EU president launches big power grab

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European Union chief Jose Manuel Barroso launched a campaign today to grab sweeping new powers for the bloc under the pretext of solving the EU economic crisis.

The European Commission president, who heads the EU’s powerful yet unelected 27-commissioner policy-making and enforcement body, used his annual state of the union address to its weak parliament to tell countries that they should get used to giving up power to Brussels.

Faced with global powers such as the United States and China, he claimed, “even the biggest European countries run the risk of irrelevance.”

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US Missile Defense Strategy Flawed, Leaving Country Vulnerable To Enemy Attacks: Panel

US Missile Defense: A Strategic Challenge for Europe

A Congress-mandated report to assess the feasibility, practicality and affordability of a U.S. missile defense system and its efficiency in countering nuclear or conventional missile attacks from Iran or North Korea has found that the nation’s defense strategy suffers from major flaws.

In the report published on Tuesday, an expert committee of scientists and defense analysts from the nonpartisan National Research Council suggested that the nation should stop spending money on boost-phase defense systems and improve its focus on defense systems that intercept enemy missiles midcourse. Boost-phase defense systems are intended to shoot down enemy missiles immediately following their launch, while the rocket engine is still firing.

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U.S. strikes on Iran would risk all-out Middle East war

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U.S. military strikes on Iran would shake the regime’s political control and damage its ability to launch counterstrikes, but the Iranians probably would manage to retaliate, directly and through surrogates, in ways that risked igniting all-out war in the Middle East, according to an assessment of an attack’s costs and benefits.

The assessment said extended U.S. strikes could destroy Iran’s most important nuclear facilities and damage its military forces but would only delay — not stop — the Islamic republic’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

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Benghazi, Cairo, and the “New” Force Protection Reality

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This is the new reality: in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, the United States must expect that its diplomats will not enjoy protection in societies wracked by political instability and the birth pangs of transition into new forms of government. This problem is by no means exclusive to these areas of conflict. Even Mexican drug cartels have no fear of shooting at diplomatic cars. As Trombly pointed out, the ability of the State Department to advocate for US interests will be compromised if effective measures are not taken.

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Benghazi attack: US Marines deployed to Libya

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The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens,along with three other embassy staff, were killed Tuesday night following an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, US President Barack Obama confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

At least five Americans and 10 members of the Libyan security forces were wounded as mobs, allegedly protesting against an anti-Islam film, stormed the US mission armed with rocket propelled-grenades.

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History Repeats Again: The Game Plan in Syria

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Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the US and the UK undertook military expeditions to destabilise secular Arab nations. They undertook an invasion of Egypt, which failed. They sponsored two assassination attempts on Nasser, which failed. They tried to instigate two revolts in Syria, which also failed.

Way back in 1957 the British cabinet had approved Operation Straggle, a plot to engineer a coup in Damascus. The plan was to create disaffection on the border areas, infiltrate armed insurgents into urban areas and instigate uprisings.

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Russian elite may be forced to say goodbye to foreign properties

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The Russian elite is about to undergo what some have called “compulsory nationalization” – a ban on having properties and bank accounts abroad. The control of foreign assets of civil servants that the State Duma is about to introduce will reorient the political and business elite towards the interests of developing the country in order to rule out a “double loyalty temptation situation.” Many top civil servants will just step down to opt for a mansion abroad, experts say.

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Russia’s POV: There’s a threat of NATO turning into a global police state

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We primarily view NATO activity given the commitments that NATO took upon itself in the NATO-Russia Founding Act. The meaning of those commitments was that NATO had committed to not positioning its military infrastructure closer to Russian borders and refused to deploy substantial military forces long term on the territory of its new member states. Unfortunately, we see that there are military forces being deployed in the Baltic region. In particular, on the territory of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia new military objects have appeared and NATO aircraft are patrolling the territory.

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France pushes for strategic food stocks to cool prices

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French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday he was trying to persuade other world leaders to create strategic stockpiles of agricultural commodities to prevent extreme food price swings on international markets.

A drought in the U.S. Midwest and the Black Sea regions sent grain prices to record highs this summer and raised concerns of a repeat of 2008, when a spike in food prices triggered riots in some countries.

“I am pushing with heads of state and government for protection against (market) volatility in the form of emergency food stocks,” Hollande said in a speech to farmers in Rennes.

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Father of Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb Could Be Country’s Next President

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Dr. A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, notoriously anti-American and arguably the most popular man among 200 million Pakistanis, is the head of a recently launched political party dedicated to boosting him to the presidency.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Dr. Strangelove (“How I Learned to stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”) of Pakistan, recently created his own political party, Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Pakistan (TTP), closely linked to another TTP, Tehrik-e-Taliban.

To avoid prison, Musharraf ordered A.Q. to recant his misdeeds on Pakistani TV. Khan did so in English, not in Urdu.

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S Korea, U.S. practise occupying N Korea

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South Korean troops practised a war scenario involving the occupation and stabilization of North Korea during a joint military drill with the United States last month, a report said Tuesday.

The two allies, who staged a similar stabilization exercise in 2010, upgraded it to strengthen the role of the South Korean army in the event of an “emergency situation in the North,” Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said.

It cited an unnamed senior government official, who said the maneuver—called Wind of Freedom—involved humanitarian assistance for North Koreans after occupying the communist state and restoring administrative services.

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Countries pressed over CIA prisons

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European Union member states accused of having hosted secret CIA jails in the wake of the 9/11 attacks should come clean on the issue, said a resolution approved Tuesday by the European Parliament.

The non-binding resolution targeted Lithuania, Poland and Romania in particular.

They were urged to shed more light on allegations that they had hosted secret prisons used by the US Central Intelligence Agency for its controversial rendition programme in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

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‘Secret’ Syria strike helps Israel signal resolve on Iran

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An Israeli cabinet minister on Tuesday invoked his country’s ostensibly secret 2007 air raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor to suggest Israel could successfully strike Iran without US support.

Israel has never formally acknowledged the bombing of the desert site at Deir al-Zor nor said what was destroyed – a precaution against drawing Syria into a retaliatory war, according to then-US President George W Bush, who in his memoir described the target as a nascent, North Korean-supplied reactor.

That Bush, by his own account, declined to carry out a US strike as initially requested by Israel resurfaced this week in an expose by the New Yorker magazine.

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Secret British Envoy Warns Israel Against Iran Strike

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A special envoy from the British government came to Israel about two weeks ago on a secret visit for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

According to an Israeli source who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter, the high-ranking visitor delivered a stern message from British Prime Minister David Cameron against an uncoordinated Israeli strike on Iran at this time.

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The West’s ‘hard power’ deficit

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When it comes to “hard power,” the West is in steep decline. Virtually every nation in Europe is cutting its defense budget.Japan refuses to spend more than 1% of its gross domestic product on defense. And Australia is slashing its military budget, leaving it at just 1.5% of GDP, the smallest ratio in more than seven decades. Now add in the cuts of more than $800 billion in current and planned spending on U.S. defenses, with the prospect of nearly $500 billion more over the next 10 years.

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China multiplies its war toys, India plays catch-up

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In 2009, the Indian Army carried out top-secret war games — codenamed Divine Matrix — aimed at analysing China’s threat to the country. The conclusion: China could attack India by 2017, and there was a possibility of Pakistan stirring the pot by trying to trouble India at the same time.

Three years later, while there are no immediate signs of hostility on either border, a rare visit by China’s defence minister to India last week has thrown into focus the latter’s military capabilities to defend itself in a volatile neighbourhood, where India has fought five wars since Independence.

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US ‘helped Russia cover up Second World War Katyn Forest massacre’

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The US deliberately helped Russia cover up one of its most infamous Second World War atrocities to gain favour with Stalin, new documents suggest.

More than 22,000 captured Polish officers and other prisoners were systematically murdered in the Katyn forest on the western edge of Russia in 1940.

Three years later American prisoners of war sent secret coded messages to Washington with news of the massacre after seeing rows of corpses in an advanced state of decay in the forest, proof that the killers could not have been the Nazis who had only recently occupied the area.

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Gulag Reform: Will China Stop Sending Its Dissidents to Labor Camps?

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The phrase laojiao (劳教) doesn’t carry the same resonance as the word gulag. But this brutal Chinese system of re-education through labor isn’t so different from the Soviet archipelago of repression where democrats and dissidents alike were expected to reform themselves through physical toil. At least 60,000 (and perhaps up to several million) inmates are currently toiling in these Chinese camps, making the People’s Republic home to the most extensive such network in the world. Prisoners include veteran NGO workers, writers, petitioners aiming to publicize official wrongdoing and members of banned religious groups. Most chillingly, China, which began re-education through labor back in 1957, allows for such incarceration for up to two years without trial.

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Congressional Report Explores History of Military’s Use on U.S. Soil

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Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act more than 130 years ago to restrict the use of military personnel on U.S. soil, and the nation has long possessed an aversion to armed forces being relied upon for enforcement actions against civilians. But the spirit of the law since that time has been subject to different interpretations and is explored in depth in a recent report [PDF] by the Congressional Research Service.

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Putin’s siege-mentality Russia now firmly in the grip of a ‘cold civil war’

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What’s going on in the world’s largest non-democracy? Are the people cynically turning to that old Russian saw ni boga ni chorta (neither god nor the devil) in their attitudes toward authority and change?

At work here is a nationwide state of demoralization. In fact, the people’s hearts tell them to follow the protesters. But years of being browbeaten into a state of political torpor has left them numb. Apathy is surely the worst enemy of a downtrodden people; and it is just that apathy ruling the hearts and minds of the people of Russia today.

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Lebanon may have more gas deposits than Cyprus, Syria

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Lebanon may have more offshore natural gas deposits than Cyprus and Syria, based on a recent 3-D seismic survey, the CEO of Norway-based Spectrum Company said, according to albawaba.com.

“My humble opinion based on the data that I have is that there is greater potential [for natural gas] offshore Lebanon than offshore Cyprus and offshore Syria,” David Rowlands told The Daily Star.

He added that the Levantine basin offshore Lebanon was more perceptive than offshore Cyprus and Syria.

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Iran in talks to sell oil to Egypt – agency

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Iran is in talks to sell crude oil to Egypt, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) on Monday.

Iran has been looking for new buyers for its oil as western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program squeeze sales to long-time customers, Reuters reported.

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Brazilian Police Use Drones To Control Drug Trade

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A battalion of Special Forces (BOPE) from the Brazilian city of Rio do Janeiro started using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to air monitor the drugs trade and gangs in shanty towns surrounding the “marvellous city”.

The VANTS (Portuguese for UAV) manufactured by the Brazilian Military Engineering Institute with Israeli technology are currently being flown on an experimental basis over the estimated six hundred ‘favelas’ or shanty towns that ‘hang’ from the ‘morros’ (hills) which surround the city of Rio do Janeiro and its world famous beaches.

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Venezuela opposition scuttles rally due to violence fears

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With less than a month to go before Venezuela’s presidential elections, the opposition said it was forced to keep its candidate, Henrique Capriles, from attending a rally Sunday because of fears that pro-government forces posed a threat.

Capriles’ campaign chief, Armando Briquet, said that an event planned for the La Pastora neighborhood, a longtime government stronghold that is part of greater Caracas, had to be called off amid reports that there were armed supporters of President Hugo Chávez who were bent on stopping the rally.

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China’s “Brainwashing” Course Outrage Grips Hong Kong

A child takes part in a protest against a new Chinese national education course in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has barely been in office for two months, and he’s already faced repeated calls to step down. This time, it’s over backlash against an education course that critics are calling a veiled attempt by the Chinese regime to “brainwash” Hong Kong students.

Leung cancelled his trip to attend the APEC meeting in Russia this week, after days of protests in front of his office building by angry locals. They’re demanding the national education course be scrapped, which started this week in primary schools.

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Pentagon OK with selling U.S. drones to 66 countries

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As many as 66 countries would be eligible to buy U.S. drones under new Defense Department guidelines but Congress and the State Department, which have a final say, have not yet opened the spigots for exports, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

The 66 countries were listed in a Defense Department policy worked out last year to clear the way for wider overseas sales of unmanned aerial systems, as the Pentagon calls such drones, said Richard Genaille, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. He did not name them.

“We don’t really have a comprehensive U.S. government policy” on such exports, he told an industry conference called ComDef 2012. “It hasn’t moved quite as fast as we would like, but we’re not giving up.”

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Students “Forced” To Work In iPhone 5 Factory Returning To School, Chinese Media Says

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Students from the eastern Chinese city of Huai’an that have been “forced” recently to work at a factory that makes iPhone 5s have started to return to school, the government-published Shanghai Daily reported today.

A main Apple supplier, Foxconn Technology, hired students to work in the factory as “interns” to meet a shortage of workers, the newspaper said. The same newspaper yesterday said authorities had ordered the schools to send students to assist Foxconn but didn’t sign agreements with the students. (See earlier post here.) The plant is facing a shortage of workers ahead of the upcoming launch of Apple’s latest iPhone model, the paper said.

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This is an intervention: Africa’s new fondness for military solutions

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In war rooms across the continent, battle plans are being drawn up.

In East Africa, the best military brains of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda are plotting the final defeat of Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab in Somalia. There are nearly 18,000 African soldiers there, now operating under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), and after a year of consistent advances their opponents find themselves with their backs against the wall.

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North Korea to reduce China reliance

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China and North Korea say their relationship is as close as “lips and teeth.” The analogy is discomfiting in Seoul given current trends in bilateral trade, with some concerned that Beijing will simply swallow up its neighbor.

The dependence doesn’t sit well in Pyongyang, analysts say. They predict that the situation will push the North to engage the next South Korean administration and other regional players.

“From an economic and strategic logic standpoint, North Korea would not want this situation to go on forever,” said John Delury, assistant professor of International Studies at Yonsei University. “It wants to have a serious economic relationship with at least South Korea, Russia and China.”

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China held secret missile tests: report

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Gertz said US intelligence agencies had monitored a fourth flight test last week of the Dong Feng-31A (DF-31A) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

It was fired from China’s Wuzhai Space and Missile Test Center in Shanxi Province to an impact range in western China.

“Thursday’s DF-31A test came ten days after the flight test at Wuzhai of a silo-based CSS-4 Mod 2 long-range missile, and several weeks after flight tests of a new road-mobile DF-41 ICBM, on July 24, and a submarine-launched JL-2 missile on August 16,” Gertz wrote.

“China’s secretive military made no mention of any of the tests,” he said.

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Ahmadinejad Personally Ordered Officers to Syria, Say Sources

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Western intelligence officials told the British Telegraph on Thursday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has personally sanctioned the dispatch of the experienced officers to ensure that the Assad regime survives the threat to its survival.

According to the report, Iran has also shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment, including guns, rockets, and shells to Syria through the regular air corridor that has been established between Damascus and Tehran.

Intelligence officials believe the increased Iranian support has been responsible for the growing effectiveness of the Assad regime’s tactics in forcing anti-government rebel groups on the defensive.

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US sends more spies, diplomats to Turkish-Syrian border

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The US is beefing up its presence along the Syrian border with Turkey.

US officials say they are sending more intelligence agents and diplomats to advise the rebel forces in their mismatched fight against the better-armed Syrian regime, and watching for al-Qaida’s infiltration of rebel ranks.

The officials say intelligence officers are gathering information from refugees and defectors, while State Department workers are helping the rebels organize politically. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.

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