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Showing posts from November, 2010

Iran believed responsible for killing its own scientist

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Image via Wikipedia The Australian:

A BOMBING attack on two Iranian nuclear experts, killing one, may have been a government hit designed to prevent the release of secrets, analysts claim.

As Iran openly blamed Israel and the US for the attack on Monday night (AEDT) on Majid Shahriari and Fereydoon Abbasi, the connection between the victims has raised fears that a hit squad is targeting Iranian nuclear experts.

The two scientists were attacked while they were on their way to work by men on motorcycles who had attached bombs to their cars in different parts of Tehran.

Shahriari was killed instantly. Three others, including the men's wives and a driver, were also injured.

"There must be a lot of nuclear scientists in Iran getting very worried right now," Ali Ansari, the director of the Iranian institute at the University of St Andrews, said.

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Meir Javedanfar, an expert on Iran at the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company, said it was possible that a Western …

Texas leads economic recovery rankings

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Image via Wikipedia Houston Chronicle:

Four Texas metropolitan areasAustin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston - dominate the top 15 U.S. cities in a global study to determine the level of cities' recovery from the recession.

The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program report ranks 150 cities: 50 in the United States, 50 in Europe and 50 in the rest of the world. Austin was the highest-ranked U.S. city and No. 26 in the world. Dallas ranks as the No. 4 U.S. city and No. 39 in the world.

San Antonio ranks No. 11 in the U.S. and No. 51 in the world.

Houston is ranked No. 15 in the U.S. and No. 61 in the world, according to the report, Global MetroMonitor, which received assistance from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

San Antonio, Houston and Dallas rose in global rankings during the past two years from their pre-recession rankings. Austin stayed about the same, ranking No. 25 among the 150 metros before the recession.

The report found that income and jo…

Clash of civiliizations

Austrian Times:

Yodelling offends praying Muslims, say judgesSuppose  someone found the praying offensive?  The judge must have felt they were entitled to pray in peace.  Hopefully they were also praying for peace.

Ecuador offers sanctuary for Wikileaks founder

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Image via Wikipedia From the AP/Arab News:

Ecuador offers a home for WikiLeaks founderThe guy is an anti war puke trying to muck up the resistance to Islamic radical aggression against non Muslims and Muslims who do not have the same weird beliefs  as al Qaeda etc.  Ecuador is liable to pay a heavy price if the offer is accepted.
Related articlesEcuador offers a home for founder of WikiLeaks (foxnews.com)Ecuador president nixes Assange invitation (newsinfo.inquirer.net)Ecuador invites WikiLeaks founder to discuss document leaks (cnn.com)Ecuador offers residency to WikiLeaks' Assange (reuters.com)

Brits limit women troops to non combat assignments

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Image via Wikipedia Daily Mail:

Women soldiers will not be allowed to fight on the frontline in battle, ministers have announced.

The Ministry of Defence made the decision after reviewing whether servicewomen should be allowed to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy.

They have always been banned from serving in units whose job is to ‘close with and kill’ the enemy face-to-face – including the infantry and cavalry.

Yesterday the Government rejected plans to scrap the existing rules amid concerns male soldiers were more likely to risk death to try to save a wounded female comrade instead of fighting on.

The decision means only male personnel will perform close combat roles on the battlefield even though women have served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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They can find themselves on the frontline and extremely close to the enemy while serving as medics, intelligence specialists, artillery spotters, logisticians or signallers.

However they remain barred from all infantry…

Mugabe uses seized farms to buy loyalty

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Image via Wikipedia Guardian:

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and his allies have seized nearly half the country's commercial farms in a land grab widely blamed for economic collapse, an investigation claims today.

Mugabe has bought the loyalty of cabinet ministers, senior army and government officials and judges with nearly 5m hectares (12.5m acres) of agricultural land, including wildlife conservancies and plantations, according to the national news agency ZimOnline.

The 86-year-old president and his wife, Grace, are said to own 14 farms spanning at least 16,000 hectares.

ZimOnline's investigation undermined the central claim behind Mugabe's land reforms: that they are give the majority of black Zimbabweans their rightful inheritance. "Even though Mugabe has consistently maintained that his land reform programme is meant to benefit the poor black masses, it is him and his cronies who have got the most out of it," it argued.

A "new, well-connected bl…

Keeping New York state in debt and poor

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Image via Wikipedia NY Times:

The New York State Assembly voted 93 to 43 Monday night to place a temporary moratorium on a controversial type of natural gas exploration that combines hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling. The goal is to give the state more time to address safety and environmental concerns.

The Senate passed a similar bill in August, and the legislation now awaits the signature of Gov. David Paterson.

The moratorium, which would be in effect until May 15, 2011, applies to new drilling permits for horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a type of natural gas exploration that requires the use of chemicals and vast amounts of water to release natural gas from rock. The drilling is highly controversial because of the risks it poses to groundwater.

...It maybe controversial in New York, but it is not in Texas where it has been used in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington area and will be used in South Texas in the recently hot Eagle-Ford formation. There is a r…

Texas conservatives target Sen. Hutchison

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Image via Wikipedia The Hill:

Several Texas conservatives are vowing to make Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) pay for her primary challenge to popular Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The four-term senator hasn’t announced whether she’ll run for reelection, but, no matter her decision, Tea Party activists are preparing to run their own candidates.

Because of that, GOP activists and strategists suspect retirement will prove the more attractive option for the senator.

Hutchison lost a contentious primary to Perry in March, and her decision to challenge the sitting governor saw her go from one of the state’s most popular politicians to someone struggling for favor within her own party.

Austin-based Tea Party activist Dean Wright said he anticipates as many as six to eight candidates challenging Hutchison from the right if she attempts to stick it out in 2012.

“She’s burned some bridges,” Wright said. “And she hasn’t embraced the grassroots.”

When asked for comment, Hutchison’s office onl…

US Army to get 'smart gun'

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Image via Wikipedia BBC:

A new gun the US military hopes will help take on the Taliban has been unveiled.

Called the XM-25 it has been described by the US Army as a 'game changer'.

It uses a laser guidance system and specially developed 25mm high explosive rounds which can be programmed to detonate over a target.

Richard Audette helped develop it for the US Army and says it's a big leap forward because it's the first small arms weapon to use smart technology.

"The way a soldier operates this is basically find your target, then laze (laser) to it, which gives the range, then you get an adjusted aim point, adjust the fire and pull the trigger.

"Say you've lazed out to 543 metres... When you pull the trigger it arms the round and fires it 543 metres plus or minus one, two or three metres."

...There are several pictures of the new weapon along with graphics that explain how it works. When the weapon is fired to specific range, the shell explodes at that r…

Saudis learn of another al Qaeda in Yemen plot

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Image via Wikipedia Washington Post:

In mid-October, several days before authorities intercepted two bombs planted on cargo airliners bound for the United States, Saudi Arabian intelligence officials tipped off their French counterparts about another terrorist plot.

An al-Qaeda affiliate had dispatched a cell of North Africans, who crossed the Mediterranean Sea by boat, to carry out an attack in France, according to an Arab intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. It was the latest in a rash of far-flung strikes planned by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based group that operated in relative obscurity for years but has more recently demonstrated an ability to launch attacks worldwide.

French officials quietly broke up the plot and have not released details about the intended target or the number of suspects involved. The operation largely has been overlooked since U.S., European and Saudi investigators turned their attention to the cargo plot at the end of …

Armenia supplied weapons to Iran that were used against US troops in Iraq

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Image by The Aspen Institute via Flickr Eli Lake, Washington Times:

U.S. diplomats concluded in late 2008 that the government of Armenia had supplied Iran with rockets and machine guns later used to kill American troops in Iraq, according to State Department cables disclosed by WikiLeaks.

John D. Negroponte, deputy secretary of state at the time, wrote a December 2008 letter to Armenian PresidentSerzh Sargsyan expressing "deep concerns about Armenia's transfer of arms to Iran which resulted in the death and injury of U.S. soldiers in Iraq."

The cable, based on U.S. intelligence, includes the text of a classified letter labeled "secret" from Mr. Negroponte. It says "in 2007 some of these weapons were recovered from two Shia militant attacks in which a U.S. soldier was killed and six others were injured in Iraq."

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The Armenian incident was part of a wider U.S. effort to block Iran's access to the global arms and weapons technology market. For examp…

US, Japan, South Korea have nothing to talk about with Norks

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Image via Wikipedia NY Times:

The United States, South Korea and Japan are all balking at China’s request for emergency talks with North Korea over the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, as high-profile military exercises between South Korea and the United States in the Yellow Sea continued on Monday in a show of force.

Obama administration officials said that a return to the table with North Korea, as China sought this weekend, would be rewarding the North for provocative behavior over the past week, including its deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island and its disclosure of a uranium enrichment plant. Beijing called for emergency talks with North Korea, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia, participants in the six-party nuclear talks, which have been suspended indefinitely.

“The United States and a host of others, I don’t think, are not interested in stabilizing the region through a series of P.R. activities,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman.

He said th…

Lawfare attack against CIA in Pakistan

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Image by Getty Images via @daylife Washington Post:

A Pakistani man who said two of his relatives were killed in a U.S. drone strike said Monday that he planned to sue the CIA in Pakistani courts for "wrongful death" if he is not compensated within two weeks, a move that could renew debate over the legality of the covert program.

Kareem Khan, a journalist from the semi-autonomous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan, said he was seeking $500 million in damages from U.S. Defense SecretaryRobert M. Gates, CIA director Leon Panetta and the CIA station chief in this capital city. Khan said the strike killed his brother, his son and another man. He said that they were not connected to Taliban and al-Qaeda militants who are based in the region and are the targets of regular CIA drone strikes.

...It will be interesting to see how the Pakistan judiciary handles the case. I doubt his demands will be met by the US or his prospective defendants. Since the defense department has n…

Terrorist and Iranians in Paraguay

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Image via Wikipedia Washington Times:

The U.S. has been concerned about about the presence of terrorists - as well as Iranian influence - in Paraguay, according to a cable from the WikiLeaks document dump.

A March 24, 2008, directive sent to the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion asks diplomats to collect information "on the presence, intentions, plans and activities of terrorist groups, facilitators, and support networks - including, but not limited to, Hizballah, Hamas, al-Gama'at al-Islamiya, al-Qa'ida, jihadist media organizations, Iranian state agents or surrogates - in Paraguay, in particular in the Tri-Border Area (TBA)."

The TBA, where Paraguay meets Brazil and Argentina has long been a source of unease in the West, described in 1998 by FBI DirectorLouis Freeh as a "free zone for significant criminal activity, including people who are organized to commit acts of terrorism."

Both the CIA and Israel's Mossad intelligence agency have long been rumored to have …

The toast of Portland, Oregon

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Image via Wikipedia Byron York:

"I was recently told by a media person that if something happens in this city, I'm toast."

So said Tom Potter, mayor of Portland, Oregon, on April 28, 2005 as he and the city council voted to bar Portland police from participating in one of the federal government's key anti-terrorism initiatives, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. In Portland's deep-blue precincts, there was intense opposition to the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror; residents worried the task force might violate state anti-discrimination laws by targeting Muslims for their religious and political views. So city leaders forbade police from taking part in it.

They made brave statements. "Here in Portland, we are not willing to give up individual liberties in order to have a perception of safety," city commissioner Randy Leonard told reporters a few days before the vote. Yet there was still a little note of concern in …

More oil companies investing in Eagle-Ford

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Image via Wikipedia Houston Chronicle:

Marathon Oil Corp. said Monday it will pay $10 million to enter the Eagle Ford shale formation, making it the latest major oil company to acquire a position in the emerging oil and natural gas area in South Texas.

Under a deal with Houston's Denali Oil & Gas, Marathon, also based in Houston, will gain access to 17,000 acres in Wilson and Atascosa counties and agreed to drill and complete four wells.

The company also has an option to buy Denali's additional 58,000 acres in the two counties, which would bring the total purchase price to $209 million. Marathon has until Oct. 31 to decide on the option.

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A unit of Net Holdings Management, building a gas pipeline nearby, announced a long-term agreement with Murphy Exploration & Production to transport natural gas.

And Lucas Energy said it was increasing estimates of its potential oil and gas reserves in the Eagle Ford after internal research showed bigger-than-expected quantities of …

Iran scientist killed was in charge of fighting Stuxnet virus

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Image via Wikipedia DEBKAfiles:

Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist's death deals a major blow to Iran's herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.

Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program's top expert on computer codes and cyber war.

...The report also suggest it was a drive by shooting and not a bomb that killed the scientist and wounded another. If the one who was killed was in charge of fighting the Stuxnet virus then it could be a real setback for Iran's program. It could also make others reluctant to work on the proj…

The attacks on the Iran nuke scientist

Independent:

Three events – not seemingly related – took place yesterday. The leaking of State Department documents, many of which deal with the world's concerns about Iran's nuclear programme; the mysterious assassination in Tehran of a top Iranian nuclear scientist and the wounding of another, and the appointment of Tamir Pardo as the new head of Mossad, Israel's foreign espionage agency.

But there's a link between them. They are part of the endless efforts by the Israeli intelligence community, together with its Western counterparts including Britain's MI6 and America's CIA, to sabotage, delay and if possible, to stop Iran from reaching its goal of having its first nuclear bomb.

The attack on the two scientists, one of them mentioned as a top nuclear scientist working with Iran's Ministry of Defence, was part of these efforts. No organisation claimed responsibility but it is obvious, not just because of accusations by Iranian officials and Iran's medi…

China to abandon Norks?

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Image by panaxy via Flickr Guardian:

China has signalled its readiness to accept Korean reunification and is privately distancing itself from the North Korean regime, according to leaked US embassy cables that reveal senior Beijing figures regard their official ally as a "spoiled child".

News of the Chinese shift comes at a crucial juncture after the North's artillery bombardment of a South Korean island last week that killed four people and led both sides to threaten war. China has refused to condemn the North Korean action. But today Beijing appeared to bow to US pressure to help bring about a diplomatic solution, calling for "emergency consultations" and inviting a senior North Korean official to Beijing.

China is sharply critical of US pressure tactics towards North Korea and wants a resumption of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks. But the Guardian can reveal Beijing's frustration with Pyongyang has grown since its missile and nuclear tests last yea…

Globo warmers want to create artificial shortage of carbon based energy

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Image by viking_79 via Flickr Telegraph:

In a series of papers published by the Royal Society, physicists and chemists from some of world’s most respected scientific institutions, including Oxford University and the Met Office, agreed that current plans to tackle global warming are not enough.

Unless emissions are reduced dramatically in the next ten years the world is set to see temperatures rise by more than 4C (7.2F) by as early as the 2060s, causing floods, droughts and mass migration.

As the world meets in Cancun, Mexico for the latest round of United Nations talks on climate change, the influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions.

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.

This would mean a drastic change in lifest…

Drones not enough to knock out al Qaeda in Pakistan

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Image via Wikipedia IBD:

Three troubling developments in Pakistan call into question the effectiveness of the administration's drone-centered strategy there. It may be time to rethink it.

To be sure, the graveyard of "No. 3" al-Qaida figures eliminated by drones is deep. But many of these "kills" have turned out to be midlevel operatives outside al-Qaida's inner circle.

The fact remains that no top-tier al-Qaida leader has been successfully targeted. Those still at large include: Osama bin Laden; his son, Saad bin Laden; Ayman al-Zawahiri; Adnan El Shukrijumah; Adam Gadahn; Suleiman al-Gaith; Mahfouz al-Walid; and Saif al-Adel.

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Meanwhile, Pakistan's military has further delayed its long-promised offensive against terrorists in North Waziristan, despite $2 billion in U.S. military aid for the campaign.

Washington has pushed for several years for Islamabad to launch a major military operation in the region, in lieu of our own boots on the ground there.