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Archive | October, 2012

San Bernardino, Compton stop paying state pensions

pensions

San Bernardino has skipped more than $5.3 million in pension payments to CalPERS since filing for bankruptcy on Aug. 1. Last week CalPERS urged a federal bankruptcy court in Riverside to delay action on the city’s eligibility for bankruptcy.

Compton, reportedly considering bankruptcy last summer, made partial payments to CalPERS but still owes $2.7 million for pensions and health care. CalPERS asked a Sacramento superior court in September to order full payment with interest and penalties.

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Resource Rapture: China’s play for African gold, at what cost?

china-african-gold-mine

In August, the state-owned China National Gold Corporation announced a $3.9 billion bid to acquire African Barrick Gold, Tanzania’s largest gold miner — a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp (ABX).China seems to have the Midas touch in Africa, steadily turning vast natural resource wealth into gold through investments in oil, gas, and mineral projects around the continent.

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USAID/CIA supporting dictators and stifling democracy – exclusive interview

USAID_90sLogo

What happened in the ME is that we also supported dictators – we supported Mubarak, we supported the Saudi royal family which is a very totalitarian Government, we supported the King of Jordan…Iran. And so through their support of these dictators they were able to suppress any pro-democracy movement that might be inclined to nationalize, their fear was that some of these countries would elect a pro-democratic government that would want to nationalize their oil industry.

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A ‘Pipe Dream?’ Russia, North and South Korea’s Gas Pipeline Quest

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The idea of building a commercially and politically viable gas pipeline from Russia’s Sakhalin Island fields across North Korea to provide a long-term supply to South Korea has been percolating for years as an enticing potential win-win-win for all three countries. The underlying logic of mutual economic gain and potential stabilizing benefits of energy interdependence has kept open the channels for consultation among the parties

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Vladimir Putin Is The New Global Shah Of Oil

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Exxon Mobil is no longer the world’s number-one oil producer. As of last week, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp – oh, whoops. I mean the title belongs to Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company.

Rosneft is buying TNK-BP, which is a vertically integrated oil company co-owned by British oil firm BP and a group of Russian billionaires known as AAR. One of the top-ten privately owned oil producers in the world, in 2010 TNK-BP churned out 1.74 million barrels of oil equivalent per day from its assets in Russia and Ukraine and processed almost half that amount through its refineries.

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Middle-class protests put Chinese government on edge

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A victory by protesters against the expansion of a chemical plant proves the new rule in China: The authoritarian government is scared of middle-class rebellion and will give in if the demonstrators’ aims are limited and not openly political.

It’s far from a revolution. China’s nascent middle class, the product of the past decade’s economic boom, is looking for better government, not a different one.

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Premier Wen Jiabao remains a dark horse in Chinese politics

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Analysts say Wen’s role as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) friendliest face — a counterpoint to the stodgy, unsmiling bureaucrats that fill its ranks — has made the disclosure of his family’s wealth a deep embarrassment to the leadership.

“Someone like Wen is a very good focal point for the party’s overall narrative — that it’s the only vehicle that can maintain the prosperity that the Chinese people have achieved over the last 15 or 20 years,” said Rana Mitter, an expert on Chinese politics at Oxford University.

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Lebanon Assassination Forces EU/US To Reconsider Its Policy

Mideast Lebanon

Yet, the US Embassy in Beirut was directed to be cautious in announcing any position due to the critical nature of the situation in Lebanon at this stage and the fact that the region is still focused on the Syrian crisis. The US desire to carefully approach the issue of the government is the product of a realistic view, which sees that even if the government resigns it would have to act as caretaker until a new government is formed.

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Where’s The Gold?: German Politicians Demand to See Gold in US Federal Reserve

Noch keine formelle Einigung ??ber Goldreserven

For decades, almost half of Germany’s gold has been stored deep below the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Now, with the euro crisis swirling, German politicians are asking their central bankers to take stock of the reserves. Some even say that the gold should be shipped home.

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Iran backing Yemen militants to increase regional influence

Yemeni Shiite rebels hold control over all of northern Saada province

The Iran-backed Shi’ite Houthi Movement’s increasing support throughout Yemen is triggering concerns among the country’s majority Sunni population.

The Houthi Movement, based in the northern governorate of Sa’adah that borders with Saudi Arabia, was founded in the mid-nineties by the late Hussein Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, who had studied in Tehran.

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Rebel-Kurd tensions boil over in north, create friction

Syrian figher in Aleppo

Tensions run deep between the PYD – the Syrian branch of the leftist and secular Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which the rebels accuse of being lackeys of the regime – and the rebels, who often say they want an Islamic government.

Analysts say clashes in the north, where the country’s 15 percent Kurdish population is heavily concentrated, stem not just from distrust, but from a struggle for power and control with Syria’s future deeply uncertain.

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Israel, Iran scrap over Red Sea zone

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Two Iranian navy ships have docked at Sudan’s main port of the Red Sea, underlining Tehran’s military links to Sudan in the wake of last week’s airstrike, with Israel suspected to have carried out the attack, on an arms factory near Khartoum.

The two events illustrate how East Africa and the Red Sea that runs between two strategic waterways — the Suez Canal in the north and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait in the south — have become an occasional battleground for Israel and Iran.

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Arab regional instability could last a generation

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“When we talk about the so-called Middle Eastern Spring, we are seeing something that is very similar to what happened in the Soviet Union,” He continued: “You have to remember that aside from Egypt, all the Arab countries are artificial. They were created by two European gentlemen, Sykes and Picot, British and French, who divided up areas of influence on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire – irrespective of nationalities, tribes and other geopolitical considerations.”

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Saudi Arabia Funding Mossad Anti-Iran Operations

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“A Strange Alliance: Are the Saudis Bankrolling Israel’s Mossad?” appears on his blog. Lando’s source is named only as “a friend, with good sources in the Israeli government.” He wrote, “The head of Israel’s Mossad has made several trips to deal with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia-one of the results: an agreement that the Saudis would bankroll the series of assassinations of several of Iran’s top nuclear experts that have occurred over the past couple of years.

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Shocker: International investors prefer Syria to Greece

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The world’s markets may believe that the worst of the financial crisis in Europe is over after three turbulent years, but those people who control the purse strings of the world’s businesses are not breathing any easier. An annual survey of finance directors from global business consultancy BDO finds that the crisis over too much government debt in Europe remains one of their key concerns — so much so that Greece is considered a riskier place to invest and set up business in than war-torn Syria.

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Brexit: MP Sir Peter raises spectre of abolishment of the Euro

Greek-Riots

Louth MP Sir Peter Tapsell has suggested to the Prime Minister that the Euro be abolished in favour of a return to national currencies.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Father of the House said a possible fiscal union would be dominated by Germany, leading to a ‘death of democracy throughout most of Europe’. “So is not the least painful solution the abolition of the Euro and the return to national currencies?” He asked

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New Mideast Theater for Proxy Wars: Syria

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From a geopolitical perspective, Syria’s sensitive location played a key role in attracting Western ambitions from World War I until the present day. The region’s decade-long instability has also contributed to this. Syria only witnessed relative stability during the tenure of late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, which was marked by tyranny, oppression, the suppression of freedoms and the erosion of rights. This was primarily due to [Hafez] Al-Assad’s characteristic ability to play various conflicting interests off of each other.

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Mali: Focus on French military engagement and recolonisation

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Resolution 2071, adopted unanimously by the Security Council of the United Nations on 15 October, is not a green light for a military intervention. It simply asks “UN Secretary-General to submit a report, including in consultation with ECOWAS and the African Union on the basis of which the Security Council may authorize the deployment within 45 days of surgery Africa.” 45 days brings us to the end of November, but there is already talk of the beginning of December … If a new resolution was then adopted, which is probable, operations can begin.

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Iran’s warships dock in Sudan – IRNA report

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Two Iranian warships docked in Sudan on Monday, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported, less than a week after Khartoum accused Israel of attacking an arms factory in the Sudanese capital. Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman said four military planes attacked the Yarmouk plant and Israel was behind it. Asked by Israel’s Channel Two News about Sudan’s accusations, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said: “There is nothing I can say about this subject.”

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‘Gulf Union’ Plans Emerge As Middle East Braces To Meet Challenges

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The main concern at the conference was to identify the source of security threats against Bahrain in particular, and the Gulf Arab states in general. The results of the so-called “Arab Spring” — the popular Arab movement that took place, and is still taking place, in several Arab countries — were also topics of interest, especially amid continued domestic tension in Bahrain between the opposition and the government.

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Golden Dawn has infiltrated Greek police, claims officer

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Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, the officer said the Greek state had been fully aware of the activities of Golden Dawn for several years, with the National Intelligence Service and other security agencies monitoring it closely. The officer claimed police chiefs had had the opportunity to isolate and remove these small “pockets of fascism” in the force but decided not to. The state, he said, wanted to keep the fascist elements “in reserve” and use them for its own purposes.

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How Will the Muslim Brotherhood Govern Egypt? Look to Sudan.

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The Arab Spring has brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt, and may yet in Libya and Syria. Observers have speculated on how they will govern now that they finally lead governments where the practical problems of managing public affairs will confront them. But we need not speculate too much, since the Muslim Brotherhood has governed one country for 23 years: Sudan. Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, and Hasan al-Turabi are the leaders of Sudan’s Muslim Brotherhood.

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Surveillance tech from Carnegie Mellon can watch and predict

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The Carnegie Mellon pair disclosed details about their Army-funded research in a paper earlier this week, at the Semantic Technology for Intelligence, Defense, and Security conference at George Mason University. Their paper, “Using Ontologies in a Cognitive-Grounded System: Automatic Action Recognition in Video Surveillance,” presents the knowledge infrastructure of a high-level artificial visual intelligent system.

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State of Readiness: Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Take Over NATO’s Global Response Force

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As of January 2013, the British-led Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) will take over as Nato’s Response Force, an agile, swift-strike unit with an advance party on 48 hours’ notice to deploy. Over the following year, they could be tasked to deal with anything from disaster response to peace-keeping, or (as in today’s exercise) making an initial entry ahead of a larger task force. The ARRC will be in command of all land combat troops and have the ability to call on a force of up to 25,000.

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EU denounces Russian Cold War-style ‘treason’ law

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“The new law would expand the scope for prosecution of and reduce the burden of proof for charges of treason and espionage,” the statement continues. “The abstract definition of treason contained in the law will make it difficult to apply in a fair manner. It also potentially penalises contacts with foreign nationals with up to 20 years in prison.”

The bill – which has not yet been ratified by Russia’s Upper House and President Putin – further restricts the disclosure of state secrets, toughens punishments for leaks, and widely expands the definition of high treason.

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China’s Gambit: Renminbi on the International Stage

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To lessen its dependence on the U.S. Dollar and gain entry into the International Monetary Fund’s currency basket, the Chinese government has indicated that they would like to make the RMB fully convertible on the international stage by 2015 (which some say is a bit overly ambitious especially given the current global environment), and has increased the use of the RMB in international trade and investment.

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Iran ‘silently’ buys coal to make steel

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Iran’s coal trade is quietly booming as the Islamic Republic tries to sidestep Western sanctions and prevent its industrial economy from crashing.

Tougher measures imposed by the European Union and the United States have tightened the screws on Tehran, which relies on its shipping trade for many imports including food, consumer and industrial goods. Many foreign companies, including shipping firms, have pulled out for fear of losing business in the U.S. and due to the complexities of arranging non-sanctioned deals.

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German troops making peace with war

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The Bundeswehr was envisaged as “citizen defenders of a democratic state,” fully subordinate to the political leadership of the country – and, of course, to the international bodies of NATO, the European Union and the United Nations, to which first West Germany and now united Germany belongs. With reunification in 1990 and the dissolution of the old Eastern bloc, the Bundeswehr gradually started to participate in missions abroad.

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Exodus of thousands after Myanmar unrest

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Thousands of displaced people have surged towards already overcrowded camps in western Myanmar, the UN said on Saturday, after vicious new communal violence that has left dozens dead.

Seething resentment between Buddhists and Muslims erupted this week in a wave of fresh unrest in Rakhine state, prompting international warnings the unrest imperils the nation’s nascent reform process.

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US deploys troops to Turkey: USAREUR General

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The U.S. Armed Forces recently sent soldiers to Turkey amid the incidents in Syria and the soldiers deployed in Turkey have been sharing intelligence, U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling has said, according to USNews.com. “We have had a relatively few number of U.S. Army Europe personnel in Turkey recently,” the general said. “Some of that has been sharing intelligence.” Turkey is concerned about how to handle the humanitarian crisis on its border with Syria, Hertling added.

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‘US needs no-fly zone so SFA can have base in Syria’ – interview

syrian-uprising

Yes, no-fly zone but nobody is talking about using any military force of any kind, no-fly zone for the purpose of creating a safe zone, safe area, preventing the Syrian air force from attacking this secure zone, so that the Syrian Free Army will have abase in Syria itself and they will be better prepared in dealing with the eventuality. The consensus here is that Bashar Assad is going to go one way or the other whether in a month or two, even 6 or more, he is going to go but the concern is what will Iran do, what will Russia do, what will Saudis do.

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Austere Challenge: fresh round of ME arms race?

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Today we are doing a program focusing on the “Austere Challenge 2012”. And the Israeli commentators are saying that this is a unique military exercise with the ultimate purpose of exercising in the antimissile defense. And the question is that though the Israeli systems are considered to be among the best in the world, they are not quite certain that they would be able to counter the new Iranian technologies. Could you expand a little bit on that?

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The Sino-Indian-Vietnamese Energy Triangle Part 1

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According to the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), Vietnam now ranks third in terms of proven oil reserves for the Asia-Pacific region. Vietnam held 4.4 billion barrels (bbl) of proven oil reserves as of January 2012, a marked increase over its 0.6 bbl in 2011. The increase is in part a result of Vietnam’s exploration and development efforts of its offshore fields. Experts claim that as Vietnam intensifies its exploration activities the figure will increase since Vietnam’s waters remain largely under explored.

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Israeli Arms Exports Fuel Armenian-Azeri Conflict, Could Foment Major Regional War

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Global Post has published an important overview of Israel’s role as major arms exporter fueling the Armenian-Azeri conflict. Recently Azerbaijan announced a $1.6-billion arms deal with Israel that would bring its drone fleet to 100 including Israel’s most advanced Heron model. Here’s an inventory of arms sales to one of the region’s wealthiest, most corrupt and autocratic leaders

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Kuwait Protests Challenge Ruling Family

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Kuwait risks sliding into Arab Spring-style protests over a forthcoming election that has polarized opinion in the Gulf Arab state and posed an unprecedented challenge to the authority of the once revered emir, a close Western ally. Kuwait saw some of the worst violence in its recent history when tens of thousands of demonstrators – out of a native population of just 1.2 million – protested this week at changes to election laws

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Hezbollah Prepares for a Wider War Than It May Want

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The group’s possession of so sophisticated a craft (which was assembled from Iranian-made parts) is further evidence that Hezbollah is the most advanced and best-equipped militia of its kind the world has ever seen. Ever since it forced the Israelis’ panicky retreat from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah has been building up an immense military force, with firepower that 90 percent of the world’s countries don’t possess

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Israeli planes bombed weapons factory near Khartoum: Sudan

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Sudan said on Wednesday that four planes had bombed a weapons factory in Khartoum the previous night, blaming Israeli for the surprise raids. The foreign ministry of Israel, which has long accused Khartoum of serving as a base for militants from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, refused to comment. Evidence pointing to Israel was found among remnants of the explosives, he said.

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Revolution Simulation: Experts presented three scenarios for the change of power in Russia

A general view of a demonstration against recent parliamentary election results in Moscow

It is almost impossible to raise the presidential rating in the PR ways, moreover, the Internet is becoming the main source of information, and the middle class is lost for the TV propaganda, the Centre of Strategic Studies reported. The experts expect disagreements in the key positions of the protesters and a new wave of making the movement stronger on a more developed political basis.

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Grand Chessboard Pivot: US wants to join Indian Ocean group

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The US has shown interest in becoming a dialogue partner in the Indian Ocean grouping, the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). The US request is being considered by the members of the forum.

India has been chairing the forum for the past two years, and its term will come to an end next year, when Australia will take over from India. There are 19 member nations, from across three continents, and five dialogue partners.

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Boeing tests electronics-killing CHAMP microwave missile

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It’s perhaps every tech-lover’s nightmare, but it’s something everyone should be aware of: electronics-killing missiles. On October 16th, Boeing tested one such weapon named CHAMP, a non-lethal high-powered microwave missile that successfully snuffed the life out of a bunch of PCs, making history in the process. In fact, the test was so successful, the missile killed the cameras set up to record the event as well.

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Saudi Arabia’s secret Arab Spring

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Saudi officials assert that the protesters are nothing more than Iranian puppets bent on destabilising the Saudi economy – a charge the demonstrators vehemently deny.

Shia, who form a majority in Iran, have long been treated as second-class citizens by the ruling Sunni elite in Saudi Arabia. They account for about 10 per cent of the country’s 28 million people and are concentrated here in the Eastern Province’s industrial centre, sandwiched between the vast Arabian desert and the glistening Persian Gulf.

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US Navy eyes laser arsenal by 2014

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By 2014, a United States Navy official expects to add laser weapons to its arsenal, a tech site reported this week. Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, who heads the Office of Naval Research, gave this timetable in contrast to his technicians’ earlier estimates that laser guns won’t come until 2016. “On directed energy, I’d say two years,” “We’re well past physics … We’re just going through the integration efforts. Hopefully, that tells you we’re well mature, and we’re ready to put these on naval ships,” he added.

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Syria Spillover: Lebanon army deploys in Beirut and Tripoli

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The Lebanese army has deployed on the streets of Beirut and Tripoli in a bid to calm deadly tensions. Several people were killed in gunfights between pro- and anti-Syrian factions in Tripoli on Monday after the death of a senior security official on Friday. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has been in Beirut for talks with President Michel Suleiman about the murder of Wissam al-Hassan.

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Commander Eyes Army Troop Rotations in Asia-Pacific

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Speaking during a “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable yesterday, Wiercinski underscored the importance of expanded Army engagement as the United States implements new strategic guidance focused on the Asia-Pacific region. But acknowledging that neither the United States nor its allies and partners in the region have an interest in establishing new U.S. bases there, he said he favors troop rotations to support more exercises and other military-to-military engagements.

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Beijing Shakes Up Military Leadership

Just over two weeks before a Communist Party leadership change, China began a sweeping shuffle of its military top brass that could elevate the status of the air force and navy and determine the political powers of the country’s presumptive future leader, Xi Jinping, over the next two years.

A spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday that Gen. Ma Xiaotian had been appointed the new air force chief—a post that is almost certain to give him one of the 12 seats on the Central Military Commission, which commands the armed forces, when it is appointed with a new lineup next month.

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German irritation grows as Britain mulls ‘velvet divorce’ from EU

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Until recently, German officials tended to down play divisions with Britain when pressed about its semi-detached stance on Europe. Not any more. Now they tend to make their irritation plain.

“If someone wants to leave, you can’t stop them,” said one senior German official, summing up a view in Berlin that the door is open if Britain really wants to quit the European Union.

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Greece Austerity Diet Risks 1930s-Style Depression: Euro Credit

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The economy shrank 18.4 percent in the past four years and the International Monetary Fund forecasts it will contract another 4 percent in 2013 as Greece struggles to reduce debt in exchange for its $300 billion rescue programs. That’s the biggest cumulative loss of output of a developed-country economy in at least three decades, coming within spitting distance of the 27 percent drop in the U.S. economy between 1929 and 1933, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis in Washington.

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Exclusive: France sends drones for Mali crisis

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France is moving surveillance drones to west Africa and holding secretive talks with U.S. officials in Paris on Monday, as France seeks to steer international military action to help Mali’s feeble government win back the northern part of the country from al-Qaida-linked rebels.

France and the United Nations insist any invasion of Mali’s north must be led by African troops. But France, which has six hostages in Mali and is said to have citizens who have joined al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is playing an increasing role behind the scenes.

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The Engineered Fall of Syria: Extensive Intelligence and Paramilitary Network Exposed

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At this stage, the “battle for Syria” is a specific role for foreign intelligence agencies, which in the summer of this year, significantly expanded its operations in the country. American, British, Turkish, French and Qatari and Saudi secret services are particularly active on the weakening of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Their subversive work is multifaceted. Until recently, Western intelligence agencies have shown themselves very carefully. This was explained by fears of the U.S. and its European allies to help to strengthen the Islamist component of the Syrian opposition.

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‘US sowing discord between strategic partners India, China’

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“In the face of major global political and economic changes taking place in the world, India is attaching even greater attention to its relations with China. India now considers its relationship with China as an important part of its overall modernisation strategy, and one that is of great significance to global peace and stability,” it said apparently addressing the hardliners in Chinese defence establishment.

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West Africa: Regional Confrontation Looms

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There is a danger that a poorly conceived military campaign could draw many states in the region into a lengthy and bloody conflict. It is more complex and less self-contained than the Somali crisis. Local jihadists, Ansar Eddine and the Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO), have secured most of the key centres in northern Mali, where they profit from highly lucrative drugs, arms and people smuggling operations.

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Guinea-Bissau accuses Portugal of coup bid

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Gunmen staged a pre-dawn raid on the barracks of an elite army unit near the capital’s airport on Sunday, sparking a firefight in the latest unrest to blight the chronically unstable country. Its aim had been to overthrow the transitional government, undermine the political process, bring Gomes Junior back to power and justify an international “stabilisation” force, the statement added. Witnesses said the raid had been led by Captain Pansau N’Tchama, the head of a commando unit that assassinated president Joao Bernardo Vieira in 2009.

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Turkey ‘has trust issue with US on intelligence’

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Turkey no longer entirely trusts U.S. intelligence despite its apparent offer to help eliminate Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) figures, according to a prominent scholar, adding that Ankara has been convinced that the U.S. military presence in Iraq since the Gulf War has fed the militant organization. Washington has come to see the group as an obstacle in Turkey and wants to eliminate certain figures in the organization.

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Occupy Earth: Drone bases will monitor China seacoasts

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Two drone bases will be established in China’s Liaoning province to conduct surveillance of coastal waters, local authorities said on Saturday.

One of the bases will be built on a land reclamation lot in the coastal city of Yingkou and will monitor the Bohai Sea area. The other will be in Dalian city and will monitor parts of the Yellow Sea that are within the province’s jurisdiction, Xinhua News Agency quoted officials from the provincial oceanic and fishing department as saying.

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US probes South Caucasus’ attitude to Iran

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The agenda for high-ranking Washington officials’ visits to the South Caucasus seldom varies, and this is not simply because Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia face largely similar problems, but also for ethical reasons. Washington wants to convince them that they are all equal partners. Therefore, if Rubin talked about Iran in Georgia, he did or will do the same in the other two South Caucasus states.

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Armageddon scenario: US, Israel ready for huge joint drill in Iran’s shadow

Operation Austere Challenge

One might call it the Armageddon scenario: a massive and coordinated missile attack on Israel from many fronts. As the rockets rain down, only the United States can save a nation from annihilation. And they have been warning about it long enough. Now, at last, the direst predictions will be played out. Now for the good news. Almost all of this will take place within the safe confines of computerized simulation for three weeks starting next week.

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Technocratic Revolution: All banks of euro area to be subject to single control mechanism by 2014

Silvana Comugnero

European Council President hailed the result of the summit as highly successful: “This is a small revolution, it means that we’ll have only one supervisor for the whole Europe, who – to a certain extent – will replace all the national supervisors. If we had this in 2008 I don’t think the crisis would have reached this level.”

“The art of compromise has prevailed once again in Europe, but there is still much more that needs to be done, as the Spanish and Greek emergencies are still waiting,” our special correspondent Audrey Tilv reports from Brussel.

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Blindsided by QE: Why Global Investors Can’t See Geopolitical Threats that May Drive Markets Sharply Lower

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Global investors are in danger of being so blindsided by several rounds of Quantitative Easing (QE) by the FED, the ECB, and Bank of Japan that they cannot see the geopolitical threats which could unsettle financial markets — and wind up costing those who are on the wrong side of the market a great deal of money.

I’m talking about the proliferation of the European sovereign debt crisis, and the escalation of crises in the Middle East and between China and Japan.

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Putin’s New ‘Fortress Russia’

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Moscow is cozying up to China, supporting the Assad regime in Syria and ignoring the Iranian nuclear race. The Kremlin is hard at work to create a sphere of influence along its periphery and a “pole” in the multipolar world that would stand up to Washington.

Recent developments have an unmistakably flavor of the 1920s and 1930s, when the Soviets sent people the Gulag simply for who they were, not for what they did. For example, the Cheka — the grandfather of Russia’s security service, the F.S.B — preventively arrested those of noble descent or with relatives abroad.

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UANI: US NGOs or covert government agencies?

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It calls itself a non-profit NGO, but it is headed by Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations and close associate of Senator John McCain, and its advisory board comprises former heads of the CIA, the counterterrorism office of the National Security Council and the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.

So whatever the cover-up may be, the UANI is definitely pursuing the objectives put forward by the US government.

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AirSea Battle: Operational Strategy To Defeat Potential Foes

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ASB: offers a point-of-departure concept designed to maintain a stable military balance in the [Western Pacific Theater of Operations], one that offsets the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army]’s rapidly improving A2/AD [anti-access/area denial] capabilities. We have titled this concept “AirSea Battle,” in recognition that this theater of operations is dominated by naval and air forces, and the domains of space and cyberspace.

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Turkey Rejected US Proposal of Bin-Laden Style Assassination of PKK Leadership

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The U.S. ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone revealed on October 16 that the Turkish government rejected the U.S. proposal for joint venture extermination of Murat Karayılan and other leaders of the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq are exposing irreparably Turkish government. As stated by the American ambassador in Turkish journalists, Washington submitted this proposal to the Turkish government to launch an operation similar to that which led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

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Alameda County sheriff’s office considers purchasing drones

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Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern is specifically looking into the usage of a four-pound aerial drone capable of live video streaming, according to NBC Bay Area. Ahern has stated that he plans to deploy drones only for emergency use and proactive policing. “What does an unmanned aerial vehicle have to do with community policing?” said Oakland attorney Michael Siegel of Siegel & Yee at the press conference.

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Some 160 Promising Oil and Gas Fields Discovered in Turkmenistan

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Over 160 promising oil and gas fields, 60 of which are currently being developed, have been discovered in Turkmenistan, the representatives of the national fuel and energy complex said on Friday at an investment forum in Ashgabat.

As noted, Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world on the natural gas reserves. Its total geological reserves are estimated at 71.21 billion tons of standard fuel, with 53 billion tons of the resources and reserves of onshore fields, and 18.21 billion tons falling to the share of offshore fields.

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Iranian Nurses Leave Country, Local Hospitals in Panic

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The hospitals in Iran are experiencing shortage of nurses, who leave the country on a daily basis, Iran’s Nursing Council Chief Gazanfar Mirzabeygi said, according to “Tehran Emruz” newspaper.According to Mirzabeygi, the nurses leave Iran because of low salaries, while abroad they are getting paid more than in Iran.

Mirzabeygi said that recently, one of Iran’s neigboring countries, without revealing which country, said it seeks to invite some 30,000 of Iran’s nurses for work, with a monthly salary of $2,000, the newspaper reported.

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“Grexit” could spark global economic crisis: German think tank

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“A Greek exit from the euro carries the risk of a European and even international conflagration and could trigger a global economic crisis,” Bertelsmann Foundation said, citing the study it commissioned from Prognos AG. Greece’s departure would entail costs for the country, already in its fifth year of recession, totaling 164 billion euros, or 14,300 euros per capita, until 2020, said the study, which ran a cost analysis of various scenarios.

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Currency Wars: The U.S. Attacks

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Doubling down on QE3, the Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Bernanke tells China and Brazil: allow your currencies to appreciate. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to conclude that Bernanke wants the U.S. dollar to fall. Is it merely a war of words, or an actual war? Who is winning the war?

The cheapest Fed policy is one where a Fed official utters a few words and the markets move. Rate cuts are more expensive; even more so are emergency rate cuts and the printing of billions, then trillions of dollars. As such, the Fed’s communication strategy may be considered part of a war of words.

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Ankara’s War Plans Ready: Armed forces prepared for worst case

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According to this plan, which factors in Syria’s means and capabilities, Russia’s presence in the region and the PKK, 2nd Army is going to play an active role. The plan includes risk analyses and aims to use land, air and naval forces together in any operation. The limits of the plan, which also envisages the use of Special Forces, will be determined by a government directive in the event of war. This directive will determine the desired political and military goals in the event of war as well as how far to advance and which regions will be kept under control.

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Iraq Intends to Deploy Troops in Kurdistan to Stop Turkey’s Military Operations

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Iraq urges the Kurdish autonomy to approve the deployment of troops on the border with Turkey to prevent the Turkish troops’ entering Iraq, as well as to stop air strikes on the country against the militants of Kurdistan Workers’ Party, head of the Iraqi parliamentary security committee Iskander Witwit told Trend on Wednesday.

“We urge the Kurdish autonomy to provide the central government with all rights to deploy the troops on the border with Turkey to prevent Turkish troops’ entering Iraq,” he added.

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Iran to Unveil New Drone with 2,000km Range

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Iran will unveil new military achievements, including drones with 2,000 kilometer range, the Fars News Agency quoted managing director of the Iranian Aviation Industries Organization, Manouchehr Manteqi, as saying. “Drones are categorized into three classes, namely short-range drone with 200 kilometer range, mid-range drones with 1500 kilometers range, and long-range drones with 2000 kilometers range,” Manteqi said. “We are capable to build the class one of drones, while attaining achievements in the class two and the class three of drones” he added.

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Russia to Target Turkey with anti-Aircraft Missiles

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Russia has begun installing a new state-of-the-art anti-aircraft weapon system in its southern military region with an eye toward targeting Turkey in response to a NATO missile defense shield outpost that was recently established in East Anatolia, daily Hürriyet reported.

The installation will be completed by the end of this year, said Russian Col. Igor Gorbul, adding that the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles were capable of destroying all types of airplanes, as well as ultra-stratospheric and ballistic missiles.

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Taliban’s Secret Weapon in Afghanistan – Intelligence “Moles”?

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It is unlikely that the recent U.S. and NATO setbacks in the war and the Taliban successes could have occurred without enemy “moles” within the Western forces. An eventual history of this Afghan war will likely highlight the successful espionage efforts of the Taliban and its allies within Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI).

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Informative Analysis: Does Intercepted Jet Complete Syria Puzzle for NATO?

A Syrian passenger plane which was forced to land sits at Esenboga airport in Ankara

It goes like this: Syria has Russian-made air defense systems. Western institutions don’t know the details of these systems. We are even told that this is the system that helped to down our F-4 plane last June. More critically, since the details of the Syrian air defense systems were not known, NATO could not calculate its losses in a potential operation against Syria.

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Coming To a Warzone Near You: Kamikaze Drones

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About the size of a backpack, the “Switchblade,” acquired as part of the Army’s Close Combat Weapons Systems project, acts as what is known as a standoff agile munition, with the soldier using video feed or GPS to identify targets and call in a “suicide” attack. The 2.5 kg Switchblade has an operational radius of 10 km, with an endurance of 10 minutes and an operational altitude below 500 feet (though it can reach 15,000 feet).

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Official: U.S. DOD Seeks ‘Small Footprint’ in Africa

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Djibouti is unique because it lies on the seam between U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command, officials said, and it is situated at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The country has interest from four U.S. combatant commands — U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Transportation Command, officials said.

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Stabilo Due: Swiss army prepares for euro zone unrest

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With anti-austerity protests across Europe resulting in civil unrest on the streets of Athens and Madrid, Switzerland — the European country famed for its neutrality — is taking unusual precautions.

It launched the military exercise “Stabilo Due” in September to respond to the current instability in Europe and to test the speed at which its army can be dispatched. The country is not a member of the union or among the 17 countries that share the euro.

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The U.S. Finds Odd Bedfellows in the Arab Spring

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In what possible way could the United States conceivably share any interests with either the Muslim Brotherhood or al Qaeda? The answer is mutual opposition to Assad’s bloody reign (both Assad and his father brutally suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist movements for several decades). Since Assad has been a traditional ally of Iran—which is now providing weapons to shore up his fragile hold on power

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Cable warns war could break out if the eurozone collapses

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Mr Gove, a close confidant of Prime Minister David Cameron, reportedly said he would vote to quit the EU if there was an immediate referendum on Britain’s membership.

Mr Cable said: “I think we need to take stock that if the eurozone were to unravel in a way that destroyed the European project – and there is a risk that could happen – the consequences would be absolutely incalculable.

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On The Brink: Turkey tanks and warships on yellow alert over Syria threat

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War edged closer last night as Turkey lined up warships and tanks against neighbouring Syria.

Turkish forces were on yellow alert, one step away from military engagement, as naval destroyers moved in to protect their Mediterranean coast and a brigade of tanks rolled up to the 560-mile Syrian border.

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Justice?!: UK ‘Kafkaesque’ government plans to use secret evidence in court

Royal Courts of Justice

Government plans to extend the use of secret evidence in court are Kafkaesque and threaten the very principles of fair and open justice, Amnesty International said today. In a damning criticism of the controversial proposals, the leading human rights organisation said they would simply enable the Government to “play the ‘national security’ card whenever it wants to keep things secret”. Its 50-page report comes before the Justice and Security Bill is debated in the House of Lords over the next few weeks.

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Asian powers double defense spending in a decade

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Asia’s top powers have doubled defense spending in the past decade, spurred by the explosion in military expenditure by China, new research shows. While troop numbers have remained constant, overall annual spending has grown to $224 billion in 2011, according to a report released Monday by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Spending particularly accelerated in the second half of the decade. The research covers China, Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan, which account for some 87 percent of Asia’s defense spending.

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Russian Presidential Council Proposes National Monitoring System For Preventing Ethnic Conflict

Presidential Council for inter-ethnic relations

President’s Council on International Relations presented the draft of the National Policy Strategy 2025. The document contains a set of tools aimed at the prevention of ethnic conflicts, as well as the fight against extremist propaganda.

The authors proposed to set up in every region of the Russian Federation specialized monitoring centers, which will keep track of publications in the media and social networks for possible provocations national conflicts. And to combat the extremist ideas in social networks plan to attract Internet service providers, and the media want to create a system of incentives for the promotion of national unity, according to the document.

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More conflicts ahead!

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Welcome Mali, our newest crisis! Open your maps. France used to rule Mali as part of its West African Empire, and still has deep financial, military, commercial and intelligence interests in the region.Not so long ago, France installed West African leaders, financed them, and kept them in power using small garrisons of tough Foreign Legionnaires. Secret payments continue today. Spooks from France’s DGSE intelligence agency, and “special advisors” are active behind the scenes in West Africa as well as North Africa.

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Armenian Politician Warns Of Forces Seeking ‘Orange Revolution’

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Haik Babukhanyan, Chairman of the Constitutional Law Union (CLU), believes that the major cause of the political wrangling in Armenia lies in foreign policy.

At his meeting with journalists on Friday he stated that the forces dreaming of an “Orange Revolution” in Armenia are more active now, playing a somewhat different role, however.Armenia’s important geopolitical location is the reason for a serious struggle for establishing control over the country.

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Fire Sale: Spaniards Grab Deals in Bank Sell-Off of Homes

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Banks, which have been sitting on a pile of real estate assets or listing them at only slight discounts, are beginning to slash prices, eager to get out of the business of being landlords. Some experts worry that they are simply repeating mistakes of the past by handing out 100 percent mortgages again. But giddy Spaniards — those who still have jobs — are lining up to get in on the bargains.

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Japan, China embark on ‘propaganda war’

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Beijing began a large-scale propaganda campaign to win over international opinion, especially in the United States.

Last month, China ran advertising spreads in major US newspapers asserting its claim to the Senkaku Islands. In addition, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi made remarks about the islands at the UN General Assembly at the end of September, saying Japan “stole” them from China.

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Occupy Earth: Japanese, US troops mull drill to take island

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Japan and the United States are mulling a joint military drill to simulate retaking a remote island from foreign forces, reports said, amid a festering row between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed islets. The exercise, part of broader joint manoeuvres to start in early November, would use an uninhabited island in Okinawa, southernmost Japan, Jiji Press and Kyodo News agencies quoted unidentified sources as saying yesterday.

The drill would involve Japanese and US troops making an amphibious and airborne landing to retake the island using boats and helicopters, Kyodo said.

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Western spies get discreetly involved in Syria

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Reports of “discreet” action by Western intelligence agencies are not surprising, according to Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, head of the Peace Policy Research Institute.

“The US intelligence agency CIA has been active for months, mainly in Turkey,” he told DW. “The intelligence agencies that brought about the fall of the Gadhafi regime in Libya are now at work in Syria,” Schmidt-Eenboom added.

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$165 Million Dollars Pledged For Arab Spring Endowment Fund

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Rich countries and international lenders on Friday promised $165 million to a fund to provide financing for stronger public institutions in Arab nations seeking to establish democracies. The fund aims to help build economic institutions and promote reforms in countries where huge public uprisings ousted autocratic regimes. Major western economies and wealthy oil states are the founding donors of the fund announced in Tokyo alongside annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank.

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The Sinai Peninsula: Egypt’s Waziristan?

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Tthe Egyptian government has less than full sovereignty over the area. The 1978 peace treaty with Israel stipulated that the Peninsula be divided into demilitarised zones, and the Egyptian Army’s local operational capabilities remain limited today. The situation has not been improved by the recent influx of diverse weaponry from Libya, Gaza and Iran. An even greater lack of security oversight by the central government following the 2011 Egyptian revolution, gave radicals and criminals relative freedom of movement in the Sinai.

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FACTBOX-A look at Turkey’s military capability

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* TURKEY’S ARMED FORCES:

– Turkey has the second largest standing force in NATO after the United States.

– Its armed forces consist of nearly 890,000 personnel including 378,700 reserves.

* ARMY:

Numbers: 402,000 personnel including 325,000 conscripts

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Turkey Redirects European Missile Defense System to Syria

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Turkey redirected the European missile defense system in the Kurecik base near the city of Malatya to Syria to monitor the situation in the country, the Sabah newspaper reported.

This will allow Turkey to control offensive and defensive actions of the Syrian government troops and missile launches. According to the newspaper, Turkey took such a decision with the consent of NATO after shells from Syrian territory killed five Turkish citizens on Oct.3.

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Fire sale after Spain debt downgraded to near junk

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Spain’s sovereign debt was subject to heavy selling by investors yesterday after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the debt-ridden country’s credit rating to one notch above junk. “We have seen several downgrades in the recent past, including Portugal, Greece and Italy,” said Haissam Arabi, the chief executive at the asset manager Gulfmena Investments in Dubai. “For Spain it has been priced in, and yields have already widened.”

Spain’s rating was cut by two notches to BBB-, one level above junk, from BBB+, S&P said on Wednesday.

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Portuguese government approves draconian budget

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The government of Portugal has approved what ministers called the most austere budget in decades. Lisbon has set its sights on quickly reducing its debt load after being bailed out last year by the EU and the IMF. Portugal is on course to implement a draconian 2013 austerity budget. Following a 20-hour marathon session, the cabinet on Thursday approved massive spending cuts next year and a string of corrections to this year’s budget.

Details of the measures in the pipeline are yet to be made public, but the package looked certain to include hikes in income tax and other taxes to replace a stalled rise in workers’ social contributions which had been wiped off the table after widespread protests across the country.

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U.S. weighs Somalia model for restoring order in Mali

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The Obama administration is contemplating broad military, political and humanitarian intervention to stop a slide toward chaos and Islamic extremism in Mali, the top State Department diplomat for Africa said Thursday. The international but largely U.S.-funded effort to expunge al-Qaida-linked militants and restore political order in Somalia could present a model for Mali, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson said. Since 2007, the United States has spent more than $550 million to help train and supply an African proxy force of about 18,000 soldiers in Somalia, which has brought a measure of stability to the war-torn country for the first time in two decades.

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EU eyes military role in Mali

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The EU is planning to send military trainers to help Mali’s army oust rebels and Islamic extremists controlling the north of the country, according to EU sources and a draft document obtained by AFP yesterday.The two-page document detailing an EU response to the Mali crisis calls for “planning work on a potential military mission within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy to be pursued and deepened urgently”.

Planning should be based “notably on a crisis management concept relating to the reorganisation and training of the Malian defence forces”.

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British mercenary firms muscle in on Middle East

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The government wants big companies working in the Middle East to use British private armed security firms where possible. They are promoting a private security strategy that was disastrous in Iraq and Afghanistan after discussions with a security company whose director is a Tory donor.

Trade Minister Lord Green runs a “Middle East task force” of company bosses to advice on government policy in the region.

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Turkey’s Army on War Alert over Syria – Report

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Turkey’s armed forces have been put in a state of high alert over increased tensions along the border with Syria, according to anonymous NATO sources. Events between Ankara and Damascus are developing according to a highly critical scenario,” said the source as quoted by ITAR-TASS. The report adds that NATO’s headquarters have taken up standing consultations and analysis regarding the situation along the Turkish-Syrian border.

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Under cover, underwater: Special forces in Canada, U.S. eyeing mini-subs

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Special forces in both Canada and the United States are taking a close look at Canadian-made mini-submarines for the murky world of covert operations. The cutting-edge subs, some of which are built in Canada, are seen by some in the U.S. Special Forces community as essential for specialized top-secret operations against threats such as al-Qaida in coastal countries.

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Canada’s Spy Groups Divulge Secret Intelligence to Energy Companies

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The Canadian government has been orchestrating briefings that provide energy companies with classified intelligence from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and other agencies, raising concerns that federal officials are spying on environmentalists and First Nations in order to provide information to the businesses they criticize.

The secret-level briefings have taken place twice a year since 2005, and are detailed in documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, and in publicly-available government files.

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