Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Bay State lawmakers dive into fight over the F-22 fighter jet - 2008 Presidential Campaign Blog - Political Intelligence - Boston.com
Frank said he was particularly ticked off that the House committee, which approved the F-22 funding by just one vote, took the funds from the administration's request for environmental cleanup at military bases. He said it is disingenuous to say the move is therefore not adding money to the federal budget because ultimately the cleanup will have to be undertaken.
He chided his colleagues who he said 'apparently think the Pentagon is funded with Monopoly money that doesn't count.'"...
It was a dramatic weekend in the relatively small city of Shishou in Hubei province.
Tens of thousands of rioters torched a hotel and overturned police cars, accusing the authorities of trying to cover up the murder of a 24-year-old man as a suicide.
The deceased, Tu Yuangao, was the chef of the Yong Long hotel. According to the cops, he committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the building and left a note.
However, witnesses said there was no blood on the scene and Tu's body was already cold just after it hit the ground. His parents were surprised that he left a suicide note, since he was allegedly illiterate.
There are plenty of rumours flying around - that two other employees at the hotel had died in the same way, that the boss of the hotel is related to the mayor of Shishou, that the hotel was a centre for the local drug business and Yu was killed for threatening to expose what was going on. There's also a rumour that three further bodies have been found at the hotel....
[bth: a wild story worth a full read. Amazing that it doesn't seem to have been reported in the west. Note the end of the article talking about 80,000 annual riots in China, etc.]
As Congress turns to the defense budget, battles over constituency politics and cost overruns will mask a deeper story. Defense budgets represent the nation's effort to meet the demands of warfare, and this one in particular reflects an underlying debate over the future of war.
A younger generation of officers and civilian analysts shaped by Iraq and Afghanistan sees the future of war in low-intensity conflicts with non-state actors. Conventional wars between states are a thing of the past, they argue, so high-tech major weapon programs and heavy military formations are dinosaurs in a world of guerilla warfare and terrorism. The military (and the defense budget) should get on with it and transform to emphasize the low-tech weapons, cultural skills, and boots on the ground needed for a future of counterinsurgency and nation-building.
Traditionalists argue that this low-tech transformation agenda is actually a backward-looking program to win the last war rather than the next one. In this view, low-intensity conflict is the war of today but not necessarily of tomorrow. While the United States is bogged down in guerilla warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, they argue, states like China and even non-state actors like Hezbollah are acquiring new technology and innovative doctrines for higher-intensity warfare. In this view, if the United States fails to adapt, the real dinosaur will be the labor-intensive, undercapitalized military we built for the wars of this decade that cannot keep up with the new threats of tomorrow.
Ironically, the traditionalists are right about tomorrow, but the young Turks are right about today....
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will adopt a new strategy that for the first time orders the military to anticipate that future conflicts will include a complex mix of conventional, set-piece battles and campaigns against shadowy insurgents and terrorists, according to senior officials.
The shift is intended to assure that the military is prepared to deal with a spectrum of possible threats, including computer network attacks, attempts to blind satellite positioning systems, strikes by precision missiles and roadside bombs, and propaganda campaigns waged on television and the Internet. The new strategy has broad implications for training, troop deployment, weapons procurement and other aspects of military planning.
In officially embracing hybrid warfare, the Pentagon would be replacing a second pillar of long-term planning. Senior officials disclosed in March that the review was likely to reject a historic premise of American strategy — that the nation need only to prepare to fight two major wars at a time.
Driving both sets of developments are lessons learned from the past six years, when the United States has been fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet is stretched to be ready for potentially significant operations elsewhere, Pentagon officials say, such as against Iran, North Korea or even China and Russia. Conflicts with any of those countries would also be expected to present a hybrid range of challenges.
But powerful constituencies in the military and in Congress continue to argue that the next war will not look like Iraq or Afghanistan, and they say the military is focusing too much on counter-insurgency and losing its ability to defeat a traditional nation-state....
[bth: Eight years since 911 and we are just having this discussion. What detachment from reality. And the debate is really about funding, not saving lives through strategy. We have no real strategy. This is about whether we buy vehicles suited for Afghanistan to save lives and invest in language schools and such versus the lobby driven big ticket projects like freaking nuclear submarines and fighter planes too expensive and ineffective to be used in actual combat. Our thinking has become brittle and detached from reality.]
1) Police defections? Any evidence that police are not carrying out their missions; that units have refused orders to disperse demonstrators?
2) Mood of the army. Do most soldiers feel that they too 'were robbed' in the elections, or do most think that Ahmadinejad is the rightful victor? Are they prepared to carry out instructions from the government?
3) The 'behind the scenes' talks. We get some leaks that indicate that the clerics on the Guardian Council and the Expediency Council are divided; that there are differences of opinion as to how to proceed. I saw reference to one Al-Arabiya report that said some clerics were mulling the idea of 'collective rule' as opposed to continuing to follow the guidance of the Supreme Leader, but others said this report was suspect.
4) Key economic sectors. Any strikes or work slowdowns by the oil industry in response? Roads being blocked? 'Blue flu' especially among the police?"....
[bth: valid points.]
Kyrgyz officials were quoted by Interfax and RIA-Novosti as saying that the deal was reached Monday to make the Manas airbase a 'center of transit shipments.'
RIA-Novosti said a committee in the Central Asian country's parliament will discuss the agreement as early as Tuesday.
U.S. and Kyrgyz officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the reports"...
[bth: why now? Did the alternate supply routes just open back up? Did the US supplemental budget have provisions to pay the Kyrgyz president? This shady guy threw us under the bus back in February with the help of the Russians.]
Iraq is due to announce which of 31 foreign and state-owned bidders have won deals to operate six major oil fields and two gas fields, for which the government will pay fees rather than share profits, on June 29 and 30.
The Iraqi oil ministry and Kurdistan, however, are at loggerheads over how international companies involved in the tapping of the nation's vast energy reserves should be paid.
Iraq's decision to award service contracts differs from Kurdistan, where numerous profit-sharing deals have been struck.
A statement issued by the Kurdish government said Baghdad's policy was 'unconstitutional and against the economic interests of the Iraqi people.'
'The regional government of Kurdistan has made clear progress in increasing Iraq's oil exports and oil revenues in a short time,' it said.
'This progress has been made by focusing on exploration and not on existing fields, in line with the best practices of international markets, and in accordance with the principles of the Constitution of Iraq.
"The regional government regrets that it cannot say the same thing on the procedures taken the Federal Ministry of Oil of Iraq," the statement added.
Article 109 of Iraq's constitution says that oil and gas resources must be developed "in a way that achieves the highest benefit to the Iraqi people," in a way "consistent with market principles and that best encourages investment."
Iraq's Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani has been accused of taking an ultra-nationalist approach, possibly deterring investment, by insisting that oil wealth -- meaning profits -- cannot be shared with foreign companies.
He has also come under criticism from MPs who accuse him of mismanagement resulting in 10 billion dollars in lost revenue for a federal budget that is projected to go into deficit.
The service agreement shortlist was first announced by Baghdad in June 2008 and includes global energy giants Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and Sinopec, as well as large Iraqi state-owned operators.
The oil ministry has since repeatedly delayed announcing the bid winners.
Although Iraq has the world's third largest proven reserves of oil after Saudi Arabia and Iran, development of the conflict-ravaged country's fields has been very slow.
[bth: the oil, always the oil. What this article fails to mention is that, at least to my recollection, exploration drilling revenues can be used by the Kurdish regional government, old production fields below to the Iraqi government, or something to that effect. As a result, new discoveries are happening regularly while the state owned fields without 'profit motive' seem to go fallow as they are not invested in by the Kurds or the corrupt and incompetent national oil ministry.... Note the very large truck bombing last week right in this region where oil and gas fields are south of Kirkuk and at a cultural and geographic cross roads around Taza.]
Tell us in 3 minutes or less “Why Afghanistan Matters” and you could be a winner! The contest is open to all military personnel currently serving, or who formerly served, in Afghanistan. In addition, the contest is open to civilian personnel working, or who have worked, alongside NATO or Coalition Forces. For questions on eligibility, contact us.
How the contest works:
You make your video and either mail it to us or upload to this site.
We screen your video only to ensure it complies with the official rules.
We notify you when your qualifying video gets posted on the contest channel.
Public rating determines the winner (1 Grand Prize and three First Prize winners!)"...
[bth: no kidding. Joint Forces Command HQ is sponsoring this contest.]
Qari Zainuddin was killed Tuesday morning in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, police officials said."...
Mr. Alipour told officials that his entire possessions wouldn't amount to $3,000, arguing they should waive the fee because he is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war. According to relatives, morgue officials finally agreed, but demanded that the family do no funeral or burial in Tehran. Kaveh Alipour's body was quietly transported to the city of Rasht, where there is family."...
[bth: how regimes become hated]
Click click click. You can listen to a series of clicks at 20 beats per second and know they are separate clicks rather than a single continuous tone. Run a series of images together at 20 frames per second and — welcome to the movies.
“The temporal resolution of our vision,” said Barbara Shinn-Cunningham of Boston University, “is an order of magnitude slower than what our auditory system can cope with.”"...
On the other hand, nothing seems more irresponsible to me than politicians and political analysts who lack the poise to stand up to military intelligence when important policy decisions are taking shape; politicians so eager to prove that they are not still trusting children that they remain forever sophomoric, defining the world as a test of wills, fearing (as Orwell did in "Shooting an Elephant") looking like a fool; writers so eager to prove that they are not just brainy wimps that they hang out with, and flaunt being respected by, officers....
[bth: interesting editorial worth reading in full]
Monday, June 22, 2009
AeroVironment’s hand-launched, Raven drone is the most popular Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in the U.S. military fleet, with more than 5,000 copies, in service, or planned. Raven is similar to a radio-controlled toy, but fitted with a high-fidelity camera and GPS — and boasting better performance than something you might buy for your kid."
Not so, the Chinese take on Raven. China Military Report has photos of Chinese para-military soldiers testing out a Raven-size drone that appears to actually be an R/C toy: check out the cockpit!
Toy or not, if it works, it works. There are loads of examples of civilian robots, even playthings, making excellent weapons. The U.S. MarcBot ground robot is based on a Traxxas R/C toy. And Hezbollah’s UAVs appear to be recreational R/C planes, modified for war.
[bth: interesting find by David Axe]
DUBAI (Reuters) - If it were in a position to do so, Al Qaeda would use Pakistan's nuclear weapons in its fight against the United States, a top leader of the group said in remarks aired Sunday.
Pakistan has been battling al Qaeda's Taliban allies in the Swat Valley since April after their thrust into a district 100 km (60 miles) northwest of the capital raised fears the nuclear-armed country could slowly slip into militant hands.
"God willing, the nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans and the mujahideen would take them and use them against the Americans," Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the leader of al Qaeda's in Afghanistan, said in an interview with Al Jazeera television.
Abu al-Yazid was responding to a question about U.S. safeguards to seize control over Pakistan's nuclear weapons in case Islamist fighters came close to doing so.
"We expect that the Pakistani army would be defeated (in Swat) ... and that would be its end everywhere, God willing."...
Asked about the group's plans, the Egyptian militant leader said: "The strategy of the (al Qaeda) organization in the coming period is the same as in the previous period: to hit the head of the snake, the head of tyranny -- the United States.
"That can be achieved through continued work on the open fronts and also by opening new fronts in a manner that achieves the interests of Islam and Muslims and by increasing military operations that drain the enemy financially."
Insiders of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies were net sellers for 14 straight weeks as the gauge rose 36 percent, data compiled by InsiderScore.com show. Amgen Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sharer and five other officials sold $8.2 million of stock. Christopher Donahue, the CEO of Federated Investors Inc., and his brother, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Donahue, offered the most in three years.
Sales by CEOs, directors and senior officers have accelerated to the highest level since June 2007, two months before credit markets froze, as the S&P 500 rebounded from its 12-year low in March. The increase is making investors more skittish because executives presumably have the best information about their companies’ prospects.
“If insiders are selling into the rally, that shows they don’t expect their business to be able to support current stock- price levels,” said Joseph Keating, the chief investment officer of Raleigh, North Carolina-based RBC Bank, the unit of Royal Bank of Canada that oversees $33 billion in client assets. �"...
[bth: also consider Fed manipulation of futures markets in recent weeks to allow banks to refinance. Is this a suckers rally with the public reinvesting and insiders bailing out personal holdings?]
They are snapping up cyclical stocks – typically bought on hopes of a revival – amid a wave of rising risk appetite, according to Capita Registrars."
One target was Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who survived a gun and rocket attack on his motorcade in eastern Afghanistan on May 18, The Journal said.
However, Qari Sayed Ahmad, a moderate cleric, was gunned down outside his home in Kandahar, in April.
A mid-level Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan said in a telephone interview that the assassination had been carried out on orders from one of Omar's lieutenants, the report noted.
In another unusual attack in mid-May, nearly a dozen suicide bombers struck targets in the provincial capital of Khost in eastern Afghanistan, leaving at least 12 dead, not including the bombers"...
Brown was speaking after his government confirmed the deaths of two men who were among five Britons seized in 2007 by an armed Shi'ite militant group from inside a finance ministry building in a raid in the Iraqi capital.
'There can be no justification whatever for hostage taking and I call on those people who are holding the British and Iraqi hostages to return them as soon as possible -- indeed immediately,' Brown said."...
[bth: again, so much for this hostage trade]
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The Prime Ministry Directorate General for Emergency Rule said in a statement that the preparatory efforts had begun after providing the necessary coordination among the General Staff, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health and the Turkish Red Crescent.
'Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that we could bring in those who were injured in the attack for medical treatment by a military plane. We are planning to send humanitarian aid including medical equipment, foodstuff and potable water to the people in Kirkuk by the same plane,' it said.
At least 70 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when a truck laden with explosives exploded as worshippers left a Shiite mosque in Taza, 20 kilometers south of Kirkuk on Saturday. (UK"
[bth: Turkey was chased out of this area in an armed confrontation between 173rd Airborne and Turkish commandos in 2003. There has been rumor of a rough alliance between the Turkish government and the Sunni Arabs to prevent this region south of Kirkuk falling to the Kurds which would give them the electrical power, water and oil and gas resources needed to fund an independent existence.]
Based on "strong indications," the bodies are those of Jason Creswell, originally from Glasgow, Scotland, and Jason Swindlehurst, originally from Skelmersdale, England, the British Foreign Office said in a statement.
Iraqi authorities discovered the remains of the two bodies and handed them over to British authorities, the Foreign Office said Saturday.
Creswell and Swindlehurst were among five British men kidnapped from an Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad in May 2007....[bth: so the hostage swap that culminated a few weeks ago with th US releasing for the British a Shea special operations leader who murdered 5 US soldiers taken prisoner wasn't such a good deal after all. One of those killed and brutally murdered American soldiers was from Mass. We've met his dad. It was over a year before his son's body was recovered. These Brits has failed to use proper security measures back in 2007 and they were kidnapped by likely members of the Iraqi government in conjunction with Sadr's thugs if memory serves.]
A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm."...