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Archive | December, 2012

Breakdown On Yemen: A Year of Assassinations, Explosions and Drones


After a long year of revolution in Yemen, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was “toppled” and replaced by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on February 27, 2012, through a one-man-election. Nevertheless, Yemen witnessed a year of instability and violence. The year 2012 was a year of unprecedented numbers of suicide bombs, explosive cars, targeted killings, explosions of gas pipelines and electricity cables, besides the constant and frequent US drone attacks.

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China’s Take: Japan, US may lock horns in quest for influence in Myanmar


A series of changes that took place after the current government replaced the military government through the January 2011 elections has brought hope for stability and development in the country, as well as expanded its diplomatic room. This provides Myanmar with opportunities to improve relations with the US and Japan. Against the backdrop of the US “pivot to Asia,” the Obama administration has emphasized Southeast Asia as a strategic focus, and seeks to forge comprehensive strengthened US-ASEAN cooperation.

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Sri Lanka Defends China’s Naval Presence in the Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka Defends China’s Naval Presence in the Indian Ocean

It only takes a quick glance at a world map to see that the Indian Ocean is a vitally strategic pathway for maritime trade. This massive body of water connects four of the great raw material producing regions of the world—East Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East—with the power blocs that are the hungriest for those resources—China, Japan and the European Union.

More than 80 percent of the world’s seaborne hydrocarbon trade transits through Indian Ocean choke points.

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US using spy agencies of other countries against Pakistan: Asif


Speaking to a select group of journalists at the Defence Ministry, the defence secretary said Pakistan had complete information about the CIA agents working in the country. He said Pakistan has been informed by the US regarding presence of the CIA agents.

He added that no country was allowed to work undercover in the country. “The CIA also uses the agencies of other countries.” He said the US and Britain are against the nuclear assets of Pakistan, adding that America is using agencies of other countries against the country.

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US renews business interest in brutal Uzbekistan dictatorship


It was reported that the American business delegation, headed by Carolyn Lamm, chairwoman of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC), and including representatives of over 30 US companies such as Boeing, Solar Turbines, General Motors, Merk, General Electric Energy, Anadarko, Zeppelin International, Case New Holland, Nukem and others, attended the business forum.

Senior Uzbek government officials in charge of the economic sector, including ministers of finance, the economy, foreign economic relations, investments and trade and other high level officials, were also in attendance to brief their guests on the state of Uzbek economy and to discuss possible investment and economic cooperation.

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South Stream Spite: Russia’s gas grip worries US senator

South Stream gas pipeline project

United States Senator Richard Lugar has urged the Obama administration to break Russia’s energy monopoly in Europe and called on congress to lift limitations on deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in Europe.

His critical report, “Energy and Security from the Caspian to Europe”, and the proposed LNG for NATO Act came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline in the Russian Black Sea town of Anapa. Senator Lugar urged the US administration to do more for European energy security by supporting the Southern Corridor from Central Asia and the Caucasus to Europe.

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Brotherhood’s Shater seeks ‘total control’ of media: Egypt’s opposition group


Egypt’s opposition group, the Popular Front, said on Wednesday that it had laid hands on a leaked document signed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy chairman Khairat al-Shater in which he urged the government to claim “total control of the media.”

Shater, who was the Brotherhood’s main presidential candidate before he was disquieted by the election committee, reportedly also called for shutting down TV channels owned by opposition groups. Al-Tahreer newspaper reported that Shater even advised his brethren at the helm of Egypt’s policy making to find ways to contain the more radical Salafi Islamists.

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Syria’s war creates concern for its neighbor

Syria's war creates concern for its neighbor

The effects on Jordan’s economy and on its royal family’s always-precarious grip on power could be serious, especially now, as protests unfurl in a country outraged by the government’s decision to chop fuel subsidies – a necessary action for it to secure $2 billion (1.5 billion euros) in loans from the International Monetary Fund.

“Even before Syria’s revolution, Jordan was facing some serious headwind – a political challenge to the monarchy, an economic strain on resources and a strain of the social fabric,” says Lara Setrakian, a Middle East analyst and founder of the news startup SyriaDeeply.org. “The ripple effects of Syria’s conflict have made all of those problems worse.”

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AU Ready to Increase Military Presence in CAR


The African Union (AU) is ready to deploy extra troops in the Central African Republic if the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) requests it.

ECCAS is considering asking for an increased military presence in the country, where a peace-keeping mission of about 400 soldiers is already active. A rebel group known as Seleka, which began an offensive in the north on December 10, is now within 300 kilometers of the capital, Bangui.

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US and Russia plunging into new Cold War


The expert claims the real state of thins is that US has been unfriendly to Russia for the past 20 years, of which “NATO advancing toward Russia’s borders” and frequent interference “in Russia’s internal politics” speaks clearly, according to the scholar.

Cohen describes the Magnitsky Act as the inevitable stage of the plunging process and says the US has to admit that the act and the Russia’s reaction that followed – “when virtually every deputy [in the Russian Duma and in the Federal Assembly] voted in favor of the ban on American adoption, which was just signed by Putin” – was the result of “the policies it [Washington] pursued towards Moscow.”

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All new U.S. cars may require a “big brother black box” by 2014


Flight data recorders, commonly known as “black boxes,” have been a standard feature in airliners since the early 1960s. More recently, various companies have started offering apps and dedicated devices that essentially serve as black boxes for cars, keeping a record of the vehicle’s parameters and location when involved in an accident. Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing that similar devices become mandatory in all new light passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. by September 1st, 2014.

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Russia’s Motives in Cyprus and Greece


Russian involvement in natural gas developments in the eastern Mediterranean is motivated by more than a desire for profit or the pursuit of political ends. It is also a defensive action to protect Russia’s national income from competitive supplies of natural gas from new prospective exporters into Europe.

Russia depends on oil and natural gas revenues for at least 70% and perhaps 80% of its federal budget. This causes the Russian government to be vulnerable to declines in international oil and gas prices, to international competition for oil and gas sales, and to disruptions or complications relating to its domestic production and processing.

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Japanese Security Firm to Start Renting Surveillance Drones


A Japanese security company plans to rent out a private drone that takes off when intruder alarms are tripped and records footage of break-ins as they happen, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. The helicopter-like device is equipped with a small surveillance camera that can transmit live pictures of a crime taking place. “The flying robot could take off if our online security systems detect any unauthorised entry,” Asuka Saito, a spokeswoman for Secom, said. “It would enable us to quickly check out what’s actually happening on the spot,” she said.

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Rich Communists?!: Billionaire Princelings Ruin a Chinese Vision


This week’s Bloomberg News expose on the so-called Eight Immortals is a case in point. Building on a June article tracing the accumulated wealth of the family of Xi Jinping, China’s next president, it described the vast fortunes being amassed by the offspring of the founding fathers who were instrumental in Mao Zedong’s rise to power in 1949. What the Immortals hadn’t counted on was how their children would foul things up. By harnessing the trust of the state and top-level political connections, these princelings are reaping outsized benefits from China’s growth.

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Central Africa’s leader asks US, France for help as rebels advance

Central Africa's leader asks US France for help as rebels advance

“We ask our French cousins and the United States of America, the great powers, to help us to push back the rebels … to allow for dialogue in Libreville to resolve the current crisis,” President Francois Bozize told thousands of supporters at a rally in Bangui.

“There is no question of allowing them to kill Central Africans, of letting them destroy houses and pillage, and holding a knife to our throats to demand dialogue,” said Bozize, who himself seized power in a coup in 2003. “It is a plot against the Central African Republic, a plot against its people.”

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Pentagon prepares to contain China by 2017


Shifting its military power to the Asia-Pacific region, the United States has started a five-year process of deploying its three types of stealth warplanes to bases near China.

Air Force F-22s and B-2s and Marine Corps F-35s will be stationed at bases around China as Beijing tests its own radar-evading jet fighters. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration unveiled a new defense strategy that envisages a shift of focus from Iraq and Afghanistan toward the Pacific while addressing the increasing threats from China

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Central Asia in 2012: stability and strategic choices


In 2012, all five Central Asian republics managed to avoid major crises and political cataclysms.

As 2011 drew to a close, experts inside and outside the region predicted threats to regime security associated with the spread of the Arab Spring, the rise of Islamic radicalism and leadership change — particularly in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan where the incumbent presidents are well into their seventies. None of these fears materialised.

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Fire Sale: “Privatizing” Kosovo, The Madeleine Albright Way


Properties were being offered for sale as if they were the holdings of politicians, rather than the resources of all Kosovo residents. The “Self Determination” representatives argued that Kosovo’s leaders aim to drive down the value of state assets so that they may be expropriated and sold: “Privatization is the name behind which these officials hide.” General Wesley Clark, chairman of Envidity, a Canadian firm interested in Kosovo’s coal mines and potential for synthetic fuel production, has also gone to Kosovo in search of financial advantage. But Albright’s involvement has given her the highest profile in the discussion of Kosovo’s economic future.

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Australian spies demand immunity to ‘infiltrate, train’ with terrorist groups


Intelligence officials in Australia are demanding legal immunity to infiltrate and train with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.

The Attorney-General’s Department wants to authorise Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) agents and informants to provide training to, or be trained by, terrorists in covert missions. Bur agents risk criminal prosecution for ‘associating covertly with targets’ even if they are collecting intelligence. According to the Australian, a department spokeswoman said ASIO officers wanted the same legal immunity granted to police working undercover.

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Cars, fuel, cigarettes – black market thriving in Syria


Endless supplies of cigarettes, a BMW or Mercedes for between $4,000 and $6,000 but fuel at vastly inflated prices – the black market is thriving on the Syria-Turkey border.

“The vehicles come from Switzerland, where my brother is a second hand car dealer,” Abu Ahmad says. “They arrive in Syria legally,” he says, along with shipments of blankets, food and medicines for Syrians who have taken refuge from the country’s civil war in camps along the Turkish border.

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Fleeing Civil War, Syria’s Kurds Enter Another Geo-Political Minefield

Iraq - Kurd Refugees from Syria

Almost all of the Syrian refugees Iraq has accepted are Kurds into Iraqi Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous state in the north that exercises many of its own policies. Authorities elsewhere in Iraq have refused all but 9,000 Arab refugees for fear that the highly sectarian violence across the border in Syria may whip up similar flames in Iraq. The Kurds, though, are eager to help out their brethren, even if their resources are already stressed. So far, the Kurdish government has spent $11 million for the camp, but much more is needed. “We plan an international appeal,” Bakir says.

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Situational Awareness Technology Uses Big Data to Fight Terrorism


SAP Situational Awareness can help agencies improve their available information to sense, predict and act in real time. It facilitates rapid decision making with technology that includes:
SAP HANA: provides insight from massive amounts of incoming public safety data
SAP Business Objects BI: delivers information to command-and-control centers
SAP Sybase Mobile platform: makes data accessible to police officers and first responders via mobile devices, helping them to better anticipate and respond to rapidly evolving situations

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Google Assumes Role of Private Intel Big Brother

google is watching you

Online giant Google will have eyes everywhere, including your wallet and spending habits! The company plans to start a new service that will combine online intelligence with offline consumer data. So, Google will make it possible for advertisers to target clients. The search engine will offer advertising companies an access to people’s Web and real life activities.

A few days ago, Google announced the launch of a new ad project called Conversions API. The service will allow companies to make profiles of their users using not only their Internet search history, but also their in-store shopping activities.

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CFR: Challenges for Global Governance in 2013 (Round Table)


From the Iran nuclear crisis to global economic woes, the upcoming year will pose steady challenges to international bodies seized with maintaining peace and prosperity. Experts from four leading think tanks weigh the issues.

Michael Fullilove, of Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy, says China must assume “the responsibilities incumbent on a global power” but China’s vision of “stepping up” will not be the same as that of the United States.

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China to Introduce “Real Name” Registration to Tighten Internet


The Chinese regime is planning to further tighten Internet control. The latest move is to make web users register with their real names when signing up with Internet and telecom service providers. State-run media say the new rules are for protecting Internet users’ personal information. Some see it as an attempt to further stifle online discussion. State-run media like People’s Daily have published editorials recently, emphasizing the need to control unverified information online.

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Jordan and Israel in secret talks over Syria’s chemical weapons

Jordan and Israel in secret talks over Syria's chemical weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II have held secret talks in Amman to discuss Syria’s potential use of chemical weapons, Al Quds Al-Arabi reported on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, fears have grown over the potential use of Syria’s chemical weapons. Russia, one of the few remaining allies of the Assad regime, said on December 22 that Syria was consolidating its chemical weapons stores in “one or two” places.

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Health Risks: Brazilian cities hit by crack epidemic

Brazilian cities hit by crack epidemic

Glassy-eyed, rail-thin and filthy, hundreds of addicts emerged from doorways and alleys as dusk came to the once-grand Luz district in the heart of this city. After quick transactions with crack dealers, they scrambled for a little privacy to light up their pipes and inhale tiny, highly addictive rocks that go for about $5 each. The image was reminiscent of Washington or New York in the 1980s, when crack cocaine engulfed whole neighborhoods and sparked a dizzying cycle of violence.

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CIA’s Global Response Staff emerging from shadows

global response staff cia

The rapid collapse of a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya exposed the vulnerabilities of State Department facilities overseas. Two of the Americans killed in Benghazi were members of the CIA’s Global Response Staff, an innocuously named organization that has recruited hundreds of former U.S. Special Forces operatives to serve as armed guards for the agency’s spies.

The GRS, as it is known, is designed to stay in the shadows, training teams to work undercover and provide an unobtrusive layer of security for CIA officers in high-risk outposts.

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IMF Concerned about Possible German Austerity


Germany should move slower on fiscal consolidation and savings to counteract the economic effects of austerity programs currently throttling growth in Southern Europe, argues Christine Lagarde. Still, the IMF chief remains cautiously optimistic about the euro-zone’s economic prospects for the next year.

International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde has said that Germany should not be looking at measures aimed at consolidating its finances, apparently in concern over a SPIEGEL report indicating that the German Finance Ministry is working on a far-reaching package of spending cuts and tax hikes for introduction

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France rules out military intervention in Central African Republic

France rules out intervention in CAR

France has ruled out any military involvement in the Central African Republic. This comes a day after President Francois Hollande ordered troops stationed in the country to step up security at France’s embassy in Bangui.

President Hollande told reporters at a wholesale food market on the outskirts of Paris on Thursday that French soldiers would not get involved if the government of the government of Central African Republic (CAR) came under threat.

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The Rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East


The Middle East is a region where any political movement appears as rivalry, a place where no one is without a rival, and where there are those who cannot be without a rival. There are two forms of competition: competition against one or more people, like chess, or competition with one or more people over something, like the 100 meters hurdle race. Competition in the Middle East is generally of the second form, and the two states which the struggle for influence in the Middle East has had them confront each other are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Vultures Cash in on Africa’s Mineral Wealth

vultures cashes in on africas mineral wealth

In 2010, Guinea alone represented over eight percent of total world bauxite production, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have a combined share of 6.7 percent of the total world copper production, and Ghana and Mali together account for 5.8 percent of the total world gold production, while Ethiopia also accounts for one-sixth of the world’s tantalum production.

A World Bank report issued in October claimed consistent high commodity prices and strong export growth show that African countries need to value the economic importance of their unexploited natural resources.

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Deadly wave of looting hits Argentina


Looters have broken into supermarkets in several Argentine cities, leaving at least two people dead in the ensuing chaos and stirring memories of the country’s devastating economic crisis 11 years ago.

The government and labour unions blamed each other for the Thursday and Friday violence, which came amid a growing wave of anger with President Cristina Kirchner’s administration over rising crime and economic uncertainty.

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Teams from a US Army brigade heading to 35 African nations


A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge.

The teams will be limited to training and equipping efforts, and will not be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approvals from the secretary of defence.

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Eight ways China’s military is catching up to the US


Although the Pentagon has routinely dismissed some of China’s very publicly touted military advances as being decades behind the United States, they are still significant. Just because someone gets a new piece of tech later than you doesn’t mean that you will always be better at using it than they are. So, we thought we’d bring you a list of the eight most noteworthy military enhancements that China is making by buying, stealing and innovating

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Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention

Syria crisis – an Assad regime military vehicle destroyed by rebels

Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria’s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.

The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago. The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky.

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Army plans to shift troops to U.S. Africa Command

Army plans to shift troops to U.S. Africa Command

U.S. Africa Command, the military’s newest regional force, will have more troops available early next year as the Pentagon winds down from two ground wars over the past decade, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, told The Washington Times.

As part of Gen. Odierno’s Regionally Aligned Forces concept, about 1,200 soldiers will deploy to Africa as early as March in an effort to place troops strategically around the globe to respond quickly to sudden challenges in hot spots such as Libya and to develop ties with the people and officials in host countries.

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Revealed: NSA targeting domestic computer systems in secret test

NSA targeting domestic computer systems in secret test

Newly released files show a secret National Security Agency program is targeting the computerized systems that control utilities to discover security vulnerabilities, which can be used to defend the United States or disrupt the infrastructure of other nations.

The NSA’s so-called Perfect Citizen program conducts “vulnerability exploration and research” against the computerized controllers that control “large-scale” utilities including power grids and natural gas pipelines, the documents show. The program is scheduled to continue through at least September 2014.

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The inside story of the CIA-ISI immunity deal


The US State Department’s decision to extend immunity to two former ISI chiefs in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case is in accordance with a clandestine understanding reached between Admiral Mike Mullen and General Ashfaq Kayani during a day-long meeting held at a secluded resort in Oman on February 22, 2011.

The State Department informed a New York federal court on December 19 that the ISI and two of its former director generals enjoyed immunity and cannot be tried in the Mumbai terror attacks case.

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Argentine gov’t sends police to suppress massive protests

General strike in Argentina

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez faced another protest Wednesday led by a union boss who used to be one of her most loyal supporters.

Thousands of people marched from the capital’s iconic obelisk to the Plaza de Mayo main square in front of the presidential palace demanding pay raises and a solution to Argentina’s spiraling inflation. The demonstration was called by Hugo Moyano, the head of the powerful General Labor Confederation union.

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Resource Rapture: Malawi, Tanzania In The Midst of a Border Dispute


Tanzania and Malawi plan to seek mediation from former heads of state in Southern Africa to help resolve a long-running border dispute over Lake Malawi. The lake is believed to have rich oil and gas reserves.

Foreign ministers of the two countries are scheduled to meet former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, chairman of the forum, on Friday as part of a regional effort to resolve the border impasse.

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Belarus’ Lukashenko praises secret police for similarity to feared Cheka force


THE authoritarian president of Belarus has praised his regime’s secret police as representing the “best traditions” of the Cheka, the feared forerunner of Soviet Russia’s KGB.

Alexander Lukashenko used his annual “State Security Day” address to boost that his secret police could trace its lineage back to the Cheka, which murdered and tortured thousands of people during the Red Terror campaign in post-revolutionary Russia.

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British Land Grab: From Antarctica to Queen Elizabeth Land?


After the Queen’s visit to the Foreign Office this week, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that the southern part of the British Antarctic Territory will now be known, at least on British maps, as “Queen Elizabeth Land”. Within hours of this announcement, made in acknowledgement of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and her service to the country, the story was top of the tweeting trends in the UK.

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France ‘acknowledges’ brutal colonial rule in Algeria


French President Francois Hollande acknowledged the “unjust” and “brutal” nature of France’s occupation of Algeria for 132 years, but stopped short Thursday of apologizing for the past as many Algerians have demanded.

On the second day of his state visit to this North African nation, he told the two houses of parliament that “I recognize the suffering the colonial system has inflicted” on the Algerian people. He specifically recognized the “massacres” by the French during the seven-year war that led to Algerian independence in 1962.

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Is Russia Preparing To Cut Its Losses In Syria?


Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be hedging his bets when it comes to his country’s heretofore strong support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad:

Russia realizes changes in Syria are needed but is concerned that the push to unseat President Bashar Assad’s regime could plunge the country even deeper into violence, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

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Taliban, Afghan gov’t attend secretive meeting in France to plot Afghanistan’s distant future

Former Taliban militants surrender as part of reconciliation initiative

Afghan officials are meeting with Taliban rebels and envoys from another Islamist militant group near Paris, looking beyond Afghanistan’s ongoing insurgency to a future long after international forces have returned home.

French hosts say the secretive, rare meeting among rival Afghans in Chantilly — known partly for its equine training grounds — Thursday and Friday isn’t expected to involve any horse-trading toward a possible peace and reconciliation deal.

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Russian Power-wielding Agencies to Evacuate Russians from Syria


Russian power-wielding agencies have drafted a plan to evacuate Russians from Syria. It will take them several days to evacuate almost 30,000 Russians by air and sea from the dangerous region, namely the staff-members of Russian agencies, those working in Syria under contract and those who married Syrian citizens. Slightly over a thousand Russian nationals have officially applied to leave Syria.

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Quantum Stealth; The Invisible Military Becomes A Reality


Quantum Stealth is a material that renders the target completely invisible by bending light waves around the target. The material removes not only your visual, infrared (night vision) and thermal signatures but also the target’s shadow.

Two separate command groups within the U.S. Military and two separate Canadian Military groups as well as Federal Emergency Response Team (Counter Terrorism) have seen the actual material so they could verify that I was not just manipulating video or photo results; These groups now know that it works and does so without cameras, batteries, lights or mirrors…

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Another ‘Coalition Of The Willing’? Why The West Would Bypass UN On Syria War

Why The West Would Bypass UN On Syria War

Syria appears to be moving closer by the day toward the end of Assad’s regime. In Western countries, the debate on a military intervention to secure the country’s “hot zones” is gaining momentum.

Until now, Western leaders have said that they would only support a military intervention if Assad used chemical weapons. Unfortunately, if the use of weapons of mass destruction is the only reason for intervention, people are going to make unhappy parallels with the recent past.

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US to open military ties soon with Myanmar

US to open military ties soon with Myanmar

The United States is poised to take “nascent steps” to open up military ties with Myanmar as a way of bolstering political reforms undertaken by the former state, a senior US defence official said on Wednesday.

The Pentagon said the cooperation likely would take the form of “non-lethal” training for Myanmar officers focusing on humanitarian assistance, military medicine and defence “reform,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

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U.S. depleted uranium casts horrific shadow on Iraq’s newborns

U.S. depleted uranium casts horrific shadow on Iraq’s newborns

American ammunitions may be the reason behind the mounting number of babies born with birth defects in Iraq, a study revealed. Accounts of children being born with cancer and birth defects have been highlighted in German newspaper Der Spiegel, where Iraqis who were interviewed were not sure of the explanation behind so many dead and deformed newborn babies in the Iraqi city of Basra. “Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads,” Askar Bin Said, an Iraqi graveyard owner, told the newspaper, describing some of the dead newborn babies that are buried in his cemetery.

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Cyprus: More Worrisome Than Greece?

cyprus More Worrisome Than Greece

Last week, Eurogroup head Juncker warned that the situation tiny Cyprus was more worrisome than Greece. While this seemed to be an exercise in hyperbole, sure enough Monday, a Cyprus official was quoted on the news wires warning of an imminent default. Hang on. Didn’t Cyprus reach a memorandum of understanding with the Troika? Indeed, it did. However, it will take some time to deliver the funds. Essentially and in principle, there was an agreement on aid in the neighborhood of 17.5 billion euros.

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US to deploy newest navy ships, weapons to Asia-Pacific

US to deploy newest navy ships, weapons to Asia-Pacific

The United States plans to deploy some of its newest warships and other high-tech weapons to the Asia-Pacific as part of a strategic shift to the region, a US defense official said Wednesday.

The Pentagon will send P-8 submarine-hunting aircraft, cruise missiles, Virginia-class submarines, coastal combat ships and F-35 fighter jets to Asian ports and bases in coming years, the senior official told reporters “What you’re seeing is part of a bigger effort, the Pacific theatre will get the newest weapons systems first,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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David Cameron: we will never join a European army

David Cameron we will never join a European army

The Prime Minister was accused of taking the first steps towards a single military force across the whole of Europe under a deal reached in Brussels on Friday. Leaders of all 27 EU countries promised to “strengthen” Europe’s ability to deploy troops “rapidly and effectively” in any future crisis.

They committed to “systematically considering cooperation” across Europe whenever EU member states begin drawing up their national defence plans.

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Pentagon quietly pays Pakistan $700m for troops on border


The Pentagon quietly notified Congress this month that it would reimburse Pakistan nearly $700 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan, an effort to normalise support for the Pakistani military after nearly two years of crises and mutual retaliation, The New York Times reported.

According to the report, the United States also provides about $2 billion in annual security assistance, roughly half of which goes to reimburse Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism.

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Russia and America’s New Arms Race

Russia and America’s New Arms Race

If reports in Russian state media last Friday are accurate, the world may be on the brink of seeing a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) race, though of a conventional type rather than the nuclear arms race of the Cold War.

According to a report by RIA Novosti, Moscow may be developing a heavy-liquid-fuel, non-nuclear, precision-guided payload capability for a new class of ICBMs, which would give Russia near-global coverage similar to that sought by the U.S. under the controversial “Prompt Global Strike” program.

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‘India can expect rising civil unrest as result of massive land grab by investors for commercial projects’


A new research has blamed Indian government agencies and investors for a growing spate of violent clashes in the nation’s forest and tribal areas.

The research, released on the eve of an international conference on land and forest rights, claimed that a massive transfer of resources from the rural poor to investors is underway in India, inciting resistance and conflicts in virtually all states of the country.

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Politburo Paranoia: China Detains 100-Plus People for Doomsday Rumors


Chinese police have detained more than 100 people, among them members of a fringe Christian group, for spreading rumors about the world’s impending end, state media reported Tuesday.

Police seized leaflets, video discs, books and other apocalyptic materials in the recent arrests of 101 people across eight provinces and regions, from the prosperous east coast to less developed western China, the Xinhua News Agency said.

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New paramilitary force to battle narco gangsters in Mexico


President Enrique Pena Nieto laid out a security strategy Monday that creates a new national force, or gendarmerie, to combat organized crime and restore law to the most distant corners of Mexico.

The paramilitary force will be set up with 10,000 members but may grow to 40,000 in coming years, following models like those of Spain’s Civil Guard or the Italian Carabinieri.

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Surveillance State: Ecuador Implements “World’s First” Countrywide Facial- and Voice-Recognition System


Ecuador has installed a nationwide system that lets government officials ID “several million” people by their voices and faces, Slate reported. If an Ecuadorian agency taps a phone line, for example, it is now able to match the voices in a call with a database of “voiceprints” of known criminals, suspects and persons of interest. The voice system is 97 percent accurate, says the system’s maker, SpeechPro

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The intelligence war in Afghanistan


We have numerous stories of intelligence failure and successes in peace and war but the recent stories of intelligence failure in Afghanistan need to be highlighted in detail where technologically strong western and European intelligence agencies have failed badly in gathering high quality information about the Taliban networks. The recent suicide attack on the Afghan intelligence chief, Mr Assadullah Khalid, is a big example of the failure of intelligence.

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Intelligence Agencies Move Towards Single Super-Cloud


The intelligence community is developing a single cloud computing network to allow all its analysts to access and rapidly sift through massive volumes of data. When fully complete, this effort will create a pan-agency cloud, with organizations sharing many of the same computing resources and information. More importantly, the hope is the system will break down existing boundaries between agencies and change their insular cultures.

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Ukraine still swings between Russia, West


Since the “Orange revolution” in 2004, Ukraine has been seeking a proper balance between its relations with East and West. Ex-President Viktor Yushchenko, who swept to power in the “Orange Revolution,” put Ukraine on a pro-Western path, including formal bid of membership in both NATO and the EU. However, despite the initial enthusiasm for full NATO membership, Ukraine has curbed its pro-Western aspirations, as over the half of its citizens oppose their country’s admission to the alliance.

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IBM Predicts Computers Will Have 5 Senses In 5 Years

ibm predicts computers will have 5 senses in 5 years

Each year, IBM releases a set of predictions about where the world of computing will be in just 5 short years. Of course, when it comes to computing, 5 years is really a long time.

According to IBM, these cognitive computers will be able to feel, hear, see and touch and respond accordingly. “One of the most intriguing aspects of this shift is our ability to give machines some of the capabilities of the right side of the human brain,” writes IBM’s chief innovation officer Bernard Meyerson in the company’s blog.

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US influence causing threat to Pak-Iran gas pipeline


American influence is overriding Pakistan’s dignity, sovereignty and interests and being compromised without considering national interests.

Pak-Iran gas pipeline, one of the most vital, yet long-delayed project, which was necessary for the survival of the country had been abandoned ending hopes of revival of shambling economy. Dr Murtaza president of PEW has expressed strong dismay over the project to meet ever-increasing energy requirements is being abandoned over the dictation of Washington

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Moscow Opens Warning Fire at US Naval-based ABM


A top Russian official said a US missile defense system near Russia’s border is strategically destabilizing and may prompt an arms race.

Speaking on the threat of mobile, naval-based elements of the US anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) “suddenly appearing” on Russia’s coastline, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said such an event would trigger “the harshest reaction from Russia.” “We must consider the effective protection of our strategic nuclear forces,” Rogozin said

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U.S. arms to Gulf allies hint of strategy


The largest infusion of U.S. arms ever for Persian Gulf allies has shifted more toward offensive weapons at the same time that President Obama’s military strategy says it will rely more on allied firepower in any future war.

Noting U.S. sales of air defense-penetrating F-16s and F-15s, satellite-guided bombs and a pending order for ordnance that can burrow deep and then explode, analysts say Gulf nations could participate in a U.S. air campaign to strike Iran’s nuclear sites.

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U.S. Creates System To Look For “Future Crimes”


The U.S. government green-lighted a program in March to retain data on U.S. citizens for up to five years as part of a counterterrorism monitoring and analysis effort, despite privacy concerns raised by high-ranking homeland-security and justice officials.

The concerns, first reported in the Wall Street Journal this week, suggest that the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is trying to build an extensive monitoring system that can find terrorists using large datasets. Established in 2004, the NCTC brings together analysts from a variety of agencies and tasks them with sifting through intelligence reports for signs of terrorism activity.

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Canadian Army struggles to hold on to wartime intelligence abilities


A briefing note prepared for the country’s top soldier shows the army has pushed the military’s chief of intelligence to permanently staff “high-readiness” intelligence positions within brigades and all-source intelligence centres that could be called upon to deploy overseas.

The documents, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws, also show the army is anxious to protect its network of human sources and operatives, known as HUMINT, and to better resource its counter-intelligence abilities.

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Asian neighbours nervous after election comeback for Japanese ‘warmonger’


The hawkish LDP leader Shinzo Abe, who has pledged to revive Japan’s stagnant economy and aggressively defend its territorial interests, is now certain to become the nation’s next Prime Minister – its seventh in six years.

The LDP’s liberal-left rival, the Democratic Party, was pummelled at the polls for breaking electoral promises on welfare, tax and defence, shedding more than 200 seats. The Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, who lost much of his public support by backing a tax rise and supporting nuclear power, conceded defeat last night.

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US missile defense system in Europe will intercept Russian ICBMs


The missile defence system that the United States plans to deploy in Europe will be able to intercept Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles, deployed in European Russia.

This came in a statement at a news briefing in Moscow earlier today by the Commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces Sergei Karakayev. The US claims that the European antimissile system will counter Iran’s missile threat.

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Russia once again to unite the post-Soviet space


Russia’s foreign policy will focus during the third term of Putin for integration in the post-Soviet space. Such a conclusion can be drawn from “the foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation”, developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The concept pays great attention to the CIS Customs Union, EurAsEC Eurasian Economic Union and the future), the CSTO and the Union State of RUSSIA and Belarus (which previously had raised the concept). It is expected that the intensive integration processes will join and Ukraine.

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Father-daughter duo have the world’s first brain-to-brain ‘telepathic’ conversation


It should be fairly obvious why, all technological considerations aside, there has been much more research into letting machines extract our thoughts, rather than insert them. Mind reading is a scary-enough concept all on its own — but mindwriting? It calls to mind the hacker deities of cyber punk novels; skinny, trench-swathed Neos projecting e-thoughts into the skulls of passing civilians.

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Colombian armed rebels tighten control over gold mining

Colombian armed rebels tighten control over gold mining

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and a new generation of drug gangs (known locally as “Bacrims”) are increasingly turning to gold mining to finance their terrorist acts, reveals a report released Thursday by political risk firm Exclusive Analysis.

“FARC and drug gang involvement in gold mining increases extortion and property damage risks, particularly in Antioquia and Putumayo,” said Carlos Caicedo, head of Latin America forecasting. The expert says that funds coming from mining operations are now the main income source for the revolutionary groups.

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Russia ‘wakes up’ to Syria reality


Syrian rebels are gaining ground and might win, Russia’s Middle East envoy said Thursday, in the starkest such admission from a major ally of President Bashar Assad in 20 months of conflict.

“One must look the facts in the face,” Russia’s state-run RIA quoted Mikhail Bogdanov as saying. “Unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out.”

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Social media users who comment on military actions ‘could be military targets’


Social media users who use tweets and online posts to comment on a military operation could be regarded as legitimate military targets.

Australian army Land Warfare Studies Centre analyst Chloe Diggins on Thursday said a recent social media war between Israel and Hamas raised complex ethical questions about who was a combatant and therefore a legitimate military target. A key question was whether such comments constituted an act of war.

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CIA ‘tortured and sodomised’ terror suspect, human rights court rules

Khaled el-Masri

CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on Thursday.

In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations. Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA “rendition team” at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan.

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Israel maintains military assets in Eritrea to spy on Iran: report


Israel has set up military bases in Eritrea to monitor Iran and other hostile activities in the Red Sea, Stratfor Global Intelligence reported Wednesday.

The U.S.-based strategy consultancy firm quoted “diplomatic sources” as saying that the Israeli military presence is comprised of docks and small naval units in the Dahlak Archipelago and Massawa, and a listening post on Mt. Amba Sawara.

“Israel’s presence in Eritrea is very focused and precise, involving intelligence gathering in the Red Sea and monitoring Iran’s activities,” Stratfor said.

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Special Operations Command Becoming Emerging Player in Propaganda War

Confirmation Hearing Held For Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen To Take Over Command Of Afghanistan

SOCOM has bolstered its propaganda campaign in cyberspace with trained teams of psychological operations troops. As of March, according to SOCOM’s commander, Adm. William McRaven, it had deployed 22 “Military Information Support Operations” teams around the world at the request of military leaders and ambassadors. MISO teams, formerly known as “psychological operations” troops, help “combat VEOs (violent extremist organizations) and resist the spread of their associated ideologies,” according to SOCOM. Once deployed, they serve for local commanders.

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Kyrgyz President warns his country might become new Central Asian ‘Afghanistan’


Kyrgyzstan, whose economy heavily depends on a single gold mine’s production and funds sent home by migrant workers and lacks the energy reserves of some of its neighbors, is one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Republics.

Apart from widespread poverty, another key problem in the country is drug trafficking and consumption. The country is situated on the so-called drug trafficking Northern Route, transporting drugs from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe. More than 20 percent of the trafficked drugs remain in Kyrgyzstan.

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Controversy over Korean spy agency’s alleged election intervention


The ruling Saenuri party and main opposition Democratic United Party remain at loggerheads over whether state-run intelligence agency tried to illegally intervene in the presidential election slated for Dec. 19.

“Recently we received a tip-off that NIS-affiliated psychosomatic information team had been reorganized into psychosomatic information bureau, and the members of the bureau had been working to make sure Moon loses in the upcoming election,” said DUP spokesman Jin Seong-jun.

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India Expresses Desire for Iron Dome System


India wants the Iron Dome defense system. Defense News reports that India and Israel are cooperating on the development of weapons systems and that India’s main wish is to acquire the Iron Dome on a “buy and build” basis. This means India wants to acquire it and obtain a license from Israel for its manufacture.

An Indian source told Defense News that Israel had agreed to sell the system to India, but was hesitant about selling the technology needed to manufacture it. The U.S., which helped fund the Iron Dome’s development, has not said publicly whether it backs the deal.

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U.S. military to boost its forces in the Philippines; China tells army to be prepared

U.S. State Department assistant secretary Kurt Campbell listens to a media question during a joint news conference after his meeting with Philippine foreign and defense officials at a hotel in Manila

U.S. and Philippine officials are expected to agree on an increase in the number of U.S. military ships, aircraft and troops rotating through the Philippines, Filipino officials said, as tensions simmer with China over its maritime claims.

“What we are discussing right now is increasing the rotational presence of U.S. forces,” Carlos Sorreta, the foreign ministry’s Assistant Secretary for American Affairs, told reporters. A five-year joint U.S.-Philippine military exercise plan would be approved this week, he added.

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HSBC Mexican Branches Said to Be Drug Traffickers’ Favorites


HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA)’s Mexican branches had become so well-known to drug traffickers as the place to launder proceeds from illicit sales that cartels began using special boxes to speed transactions, U.S. prosecutors said.

From 2006 to 2010, the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle Cartel in Columbia moved more than $881 million in proceeds through HSBC’s U.S. unit, said Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division. Breuer, along with U.S. Attorney Lorretta Lynch in Brooklyn, New York, announced yesterday the bank had agreed to pay at least $1.9 billion to settle money laundering probes.

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Afghan may be focus of future Indo-Pak rivalry: US


“India worries about a second Mumbai-style terrorist attack from militants backed by Pakistan. A major incident with many casualties and Pakistani fingerprints would put a weakened Indian Government under tremendous pressure to respond with force, with the attendant risk of nuclear miscalculation,” said the report.

Pakistan’s large and fast-growing nuclear arsenal in addition to its doctrine of “first use” is intended to deter and balance against India’s conventional military advantages, said the fifth installment of the ‘Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,’ of National Intelligence Council (NIC).

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More Than 30 Top U.S. Officials Guilty of War Crimes


More than 30 top U.S. officials, including presidents G.W. Bush and Obama, are guilty of war crimes or crimes against peace and humanity “legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany,” the distinguished American international law authority Francis Boyle charges.

U.S. officials involved in an “ongoing criminal conspiracy” in the Middle East and Africa who either participated in the commission of the crimes under their jurisdiction or failed to take action against them included both presidents since 2001 and their vice-presidents, the secretaries of State and Defense, the directors of the CIA and National Intelligence and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and heads of the Central Command, among others, Boyle said.

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Global Fire Sale: China’s accelerating overseas buys raise fears


Chinese firms have become more active in mergers and acquisitions since the global financial crisis that began in 2008, as economic distress has thrown up bargains around the world.

Between 2005 and 2011, the number of China’s overseas acquisitions tripled to 177 and jumped five-fold by value to $63 billion, according to law firm Squire Sanders and intelligence service Mergermarket. But Chinese state media used the Nexen success to blast unspecified “Western powers” for alleged unfairness and protectionism.

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Russia Is Building Diplomatic and Military Tools to Prevent Western Resistance to its Eurasian Union


With so much economic and political influence, Russia will then be able to promote its preferred candidates in national elections along its periphery—and will basically own the national governments. Such an outcome would also trigger a diffusion into neighboring countries of Russia’s political system, which is a form of “smart authoritarianism” mimicking democratic institutions and processes. This type of governance forces its citizens to trade between some minimal level of social welfare assured by the government in exchange for giving up many individual freedoms.

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De Facto Loss of Sovereignty Cyprus Makes Big Concessions for Bailout

Zypern beantragt Hilfen aus EU-Rettungsschirm

Cyprus wants help from the European Union’s bailout fund. But the price for the billions in emergency aid money is high. The country will effectively lose its sovereignty.

Dimitris Christofias had a serious look on his face as he turned to the cameras and spoke of what a “gut-wrenching” decision it was, but added that it was also a “necessary evil.” The Cypriot president was not giving his people good news.

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Russia wary of post-Soviet color revolution


A close adviser to the Russian president said the Kremlin was paying close attention to “events” in former republics of the Soviet Union. Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council of Russia, said the Kremlin is keeping a close eye on potential “color revolutions” in former republics. “Events are in motion in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine; we’re dealing with it every day. Are these (events) a danger for us? Yes,” he was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

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Breaking Point: 17 US Warships And Thousands of US Soldiers Near Syrian Shore

US aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

The U.S. aircraft carrier “Dwight D Eisenhower” has arrived off the shores of Syria. The multipurpose nuclear attack carrier the U.S.S. Dwight D Eisenhower is leading the naval assault group which has arrived in the eastern Mediterranean. It is in close proximity to the coast of Syria. On board the ship are 70 fighter-bombers and a total 8,000 US servicemen.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, a large US Navy aircraft carrier that holds fighter bomber squadrons and 8,000 men on board, has appeared off Syrian coast yesterday amid arising speculations that the US is ready to attack Syria though there was no official announcement so far.

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World risks fresh credit bubble, Switzerland’s BIS warns

World risks fresh credit bubble, Switzerland's BIS warns

The venerable Swiss-based institution – almost alone in warning of a global debt crisis in the build-up to the Great Recession – said it is rare for markets to gather steam at a time when the major forecasters are turning gloomy.

The International Monetary Fund and the OECD have downgraded their outlooks for 2012 and 2013, with sharp cuts for much of Europe as well as for Brazil, China, and India.

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Global risk in 2013: being powerful has never been harder


From Mexican drug cartels to rebels in Yemen, what are the risks to stability in 2013? A risk consultancy concludes that the main challenge will be the pace with which local events become global.

Control Risks has produced the RiskMap 2013 – which highlights the areas across the globe which are likely to experience volatility over the next 12 months, caused by a range of factors from political uncertainty to economic instability.

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The Gas Triangle: China, Russia, and Europe

Siberian pipeline_550x300

The competition for Caspian gas supplies is usually seen as a contest between Europe and Russia. China, although acknowledged to play a role, is generally seen to be a marginal player. But at a recent Chatham House event titled Rebalancing the World Energy Markets: The Role of China, Russia and Central Asia it was underscored that Chinese energy demand will have a profound effect on energy markets: in Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. Central Asia is also a vital part of the equation, with one speaker calling it “the fulcrum point” in Russia-China relations.

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India’s Secret warship base commissioned to protect assets in South China Sea


The Indian Navy is set to partially commission a secretive new strategic base on its east coast next year that will be the home port for its warships that sail to South East Asia, the South China Sea and the Pacific.

Yesterday, navy chief Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi had said his force was also practising to deploy in waters that China claims in the South China Sea to protect India’s oil interests off the coast of Vietnam.

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Canada Clears $15 Billion Chinese Takeover of an Energy Company

Canada Clears $15 Billion Chinese Takeover of an Energy Company

Canada on Friday allowed a Chinese state-run oil giant to move forward with $15 billion takeover of a domestic energy company, but the government indicated that such deals might not pass muster in the future.

The deal — the acquisition of Nexen by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, or Cnooc — is the latest effort by the Chinese government to find new sources of oil and natural gas reserves to help drive the country’s growth. The state-run Cnooc has been active, striking several partnerships in Canada and the United States.

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China Inflicts An Arms Race On Japan – Analysis


China and Japan are both at political and strategic crossroads and their destinies seem to be heading towards an intense arms race if not a direct military clash. Richard Segal has wisely observed that historically we have never had a strong China and a strong Japan at the same time in this region.

Comparatively, it is China that has in the last five years or so that has unleashed a long string of provocative acts against Japan. These provocations have heightened Japanese threat perceptions on China. Heading the list is the recent spate of Chinese and Japanese threats and counter- threats hurled over the Senkaku Islands.

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Pacific Command: ‘US to back India’s leadership role in Indian Ocean, South Asia’


Seeking a “long-term security relationship” with India, a top US military commander has said his country will support New Delhi’s “leadership role” in the Indian Ocean and South Asia.

The US Pacific Command (PACOM) “will increase its efforts to nurture the strategic partnership and expand engagement with India as well as support her leadership role in the Indian Ocean and South Asia,” PACOM Commander, Admiral Sameul J Locklear III, said in an address to the Asia Society here.

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Egyptian President Said to Prepare Martial Law Decree

Egyptian President Said to Prepare Martial Law Decree

Struggling to quell violent protests that have threatened to derail a referendum on an Islamist-backed draft constitution, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt moved Saturday to appease his opponents with a package of concessions hours after state news media reported that he was moving toward imposing a form of martial law to secure the streets and allow the vote.

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Police clash with thousands of rioters in south China city


According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, up to 10,000 people joined in the rioting and over 20 police and customs vehicles were destroyed.

Up to 100 people were “killed or injured” during clashes, it said. Increasing numbers of anti-riot police and security forces arrived in Dongxing throughout Friday.

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