Saturday, December 04, 2010

China threat prompts plan for new GSDF unit

China threat prompts plan for new GSDF unit : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)
The Defense Ministry plans to establish a new military unit to bolster this nation's ability to monitor the Chinese Navy, which has been increasingly active in waters off Japanese territories, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

A ministry official said the unit will consist of about 200 Ground Self-Defense Force personnel and most likely be based on Yonagunijima, Okinawa Prefecture, this country's westernmost island.

In its budgetary requests for fiscal 2011, the ministry asked for 30 million yen to research the plan, the official said.

The unit's main job will be to monitor via radar the movements of Chinese warships in the East China Sea, including the waters around the Senkaku Islands--which are Japanese territory but are claimed by China--and around the Nansei Islands, which stretch across Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures.

The unit will exchange information with the U.S. military, thereby strengthening bilateral security cooperation in the waters....



Problem grave at Arlington now a criminal investigation - CNN.com

Problem grave at Arlington now a criminal investigation - CNN.com

Washington (CNN) -- A "suspect" discovery at Arlington National Cemetery has led to a criminal investigation into how eight sets of human remains ended up in a single grave at America's most famous military burial ground.

It is the first criminal investigation after a series of recent revelations of misplaced human remains at Arlington.

The cemetery was tipped off this fall about a possible problem involving urns found in a pile of dirt several years ago by a contractor working at the cemetery.

When Kathryn Condon, who oversees the cemetery, asked about the two urns the contractor saw, an employee let her know that someone should look at a particular gravesite marked "Unknown."

Condon, who is executive director of the Army Cemeteries Program, called the Army's Criminal Investigation Command to help investigate.

A short time later eight urns containing human remains were found in the "Unknown" grave. Cemetery records indicated only one set of remains should have been in the grave, according to Kaitlin Horst, a spokeswoman for Arlington National Cemetery.

That discovery is what the Army is looking at.

Asked why it is a criminal investigation, Horst said, "The errors in past lent themselves to human error, mistakes that could have been made. But the fact that there were eight urns in one gravesite is pretty suspect. It doesn't seem to a mistake."

Of the eight urns found in the grave, three have been positively identified. One set was determined "unidentifiable" and that urn was reinterred in the grave where it was found.

The three that were identified were each in urns that contained a crematory tag. The tag is a metal of ceramic disk with numbers and initials on it. Army investigators were able to enhance the numbers and letters on the tags, which Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Christopher Grey said were in a "very poor state."

That helped them trace the urns back to the crematoriums they came from. Those crematoriums then gave the Army information that allowed them to identify the person whose ashes were in the urns.

One of those three urns has now been reinterred at Arlington in the location where it was supposed to be buried. The cemetery is working with the families of the people whose remains are in the other two urns.

Arlington National Cemetery is not releasing the names of the people whose remains have been identified.

The other four sets of remains did not include crematory tags, but it may be impossible to use DNA testing to identify them, a scientist said.

"It's very likely that the DNA was destroyed in the cremation process," said Dr. Frederick Fochtman, director of the Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquense University in Pittsburgh. However, he said, "it's worth a chance" to see if residual DNA, perhaps from bone tissue, could be used to make an identification.

Grey said Army investigators are "chasing other leads and using basic police work" to find out whose remains are in the last four urns.

Neither the cemetery nor the Army command would say when the original "unknown" grave was dug or when the veterans who were identified were originally buried.

Both Grey and Horst said that this latest incident dates back to the previous administration of Arlington National Cemetery.

Longtime Superintendent John Metzler was reprimanded by the Army after a number of problems with mismarked graves were discovered. Metzler and his second-in-command, Thurman Higginbotham, were allowed to retire last summer after the secretary of the Army told Congress there may be more than 200 mismarked graves in Arlington.

Grey would not say if either man is being questioned in this case.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, called this case the latest in a series of "management errors" that she describes as "heartbreaking incompetence."

She's already sponsored a bill that will allow for closer oversight of Arlington National Cemetery. She plans to call for a vote on the bill during this week's rare Saturday Senate session.

As for the two urns in the dirt that the contractor first saw five years ago, no one seems to know what became of them.

--- bth: another gross violation of the sanctity of Arlington National Cemetery. At least Condon is trying to straighten the place out from the disasterous administration of Metzler and Higginbotham. Arlington really needs to be turned over to the VA which does a much better job of managing national cemeteries. Eight urns in one place is not an accident, it is a crime. You would think CNN could hire an actual reporter to investigate the story - who were the families, when did it occur, who was the employee, what are the criminal charges contemplated and against whom for starters?

Hezbollah says it found Israeli spy device | Antiwar Newswire

Hezbollah says it found Israeli spy device | Antiwar Newswire

Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group said Friday that it discovered an Israeli device spying on its private telecommunications network.

The device exploded, apparently detonated remotely by the Israelis, when it was found near the village of Majdel Silim, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the border with Israel, Hezbollah said in a statement.

The Lebanese military also reported the find and the explosion, saying two people working in a truck nearby were injured in the blast. It too said in a statement the device was intended to spy on the network....

SKorean jets will bomb North if it attacks again | Antiwar Newswire

SKorean jets will bomb North if it attacks again | Antiwar Newswire

South Korea's next defense chief threatened Friday that jets would bomb the North if it stages another attack like last week's deadly shelling as he outlined a tough new military policy toward the rival neighbor.

President Lee Myung-bak's government is suffering intense criticism that its response to North Korea's Nov. 23 barrage on a South Korean island was weak, and over the stunning revelation that the South's spy chief dismissed information in August indicating the North might attack the front-line island of Yeonpyeong.

Lee's nominee, Kim Kwan-jin, told a parliamentary confirmation hearing that further North Korean aggression will result in airstrikes. He said South Korea will use all its combat capabilities to retaliate.

"In case the enemy attacks our territory and people again, we will thoroughly retaliate to ensure that the enemy cannot provoke again," Kim said. The hearing is a formality as South Korea's National Assembly does not have the power to reject Lee's appointment.

Kim said it will be difficult for North Korea to conduct a full-scale war because of its weak economy and concerns over a plan to transfer power from ailing leader Kim Jong Il to his young, untested son, Kim Jong Un.

Despite the bold declarations, questions have been raised about Lee's readiness — and even willingness — to stand up to the North. The president has been criticized for leading a military whose response to the attack was seen as too slow and too weak. The North fired 170 rounds, compared with 80 returned by South Korea.

Satellite photos showed only about 10 South Korean rounds landed near North Korea's army barracks along the west coast, according to the office of lawmaker Kwon Young-se, who said he saw the images provided Thursday by the National Intelligence Service....

--- bth: it would seem S. Korea has been pushed as far as they are going to go. I hope China is taking note.


Jean Jones: The Angel of Death sleeps beside me

Jean Jones: The Angel of Death sleeps beside me:
"By Jean Jones
21st Century

At night, her black hair, and dark eyes
Stare at me like photographs I have
Hanging from the wall, she is a skull
Grinning constantly at me, she is smiling
And her eyes flash every time she stares at me
I am in love with her
I want to go where she goes,
Where normal women can never go,
The place where we all meet in the end
The harvest ground, the wet, cold earth. . .
There is tiredness to this land
And everything in me feels it,
From the way I pour sugar in my coffee
Every morning to the time it takes
For me to close my eyes and remember nothing. . .
Everything is nothing to that smile you have, though
I want to go and find out where it comes from
Show me.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Heading off tax increases: Compromise taking shape

Heading off tax increases: Compromise taking shape: "WASHINGTON — A critical compromise to head off a year-end tax increase for millions of Americans took shape fitfully Thursday in private talks between the White House and congressional Republicans punctuated by outbursts of partisanship.

An extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed appeared likely to become part of any deal. Additionally, Democrats sought to expand the package with a tax break providing as much as $400 for individual working people and $800 for couples – even if they pay nothing to the IRS.

Two days after he and newly empowered Republicans exchanged pledges of cooperation at the White House, President Barack Obama expressed optimism about the prospects for agreement in time for enactment by year's end.

Still, he cautioned, 'That doesn't mean there might not be some posturing over the next several days.'

Not long after Obama spoke, Democrats ignited a partisan row in the House with legislation that would prevent taxes from rising on lower- and middle-income wage earners but allow them to go up for people at higher incomes.

Given Republican objections, that measure has no chance of passing the Senate. But Democrats there insisted on voting on it as a way to dramatize their support for the measure and, officials said, register unhappiness with Obama.

The president has already signaled he will accede to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels, making votes on the Democratic-backed bill purely symbolic and angering some of the rank-and-file in his party.
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But Obama was juggling a pair of top-priority items – winning enough support from reluctant Republicans to ratify a new arms control treaty with Russia was the second – and his leverage was reduced in tax negotiations as a result....

- bth: so Obama concedes tax cuts for the wealthiest prior to getting any reciprocal concessions on such important matters at unemployment compensation or START. He's becoming the Neville Chamberlain of budget negotiations.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sudbury mourns soldier killed in Afghanistan - The Boston Globe

Sudbury mourns soldier killed in Afghanistan - The Boston Globe: "First Lieutenant Scott Milley of Sudbury was captain of his high school ice hockey team and a cum laude graduate from college, but since the age of 3 his ultimate goal was to join the US Army.

Milley, 23, was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan’s Logar Province when insurgents attacked his unit, according to the Department of Defense.

Milley, a 2005 graduate of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, was the first person from Sudbury to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Sudbury’s director of veterans services, Brian Stearns. News of Milley’s death rocked the community.

“He was the most lovable kid I ever coached,’’ Peter Elenbaas, one of Milley’s hockey coaches, said in an e-mail to Lincoln-Sudbury staff. “He combined the toughness of a prize-fighter with the effervescent joy and energy of a teenage boy. Truly, a treasure of this high school.’’

Milley’s father, Steve, said yesterday that the family was devastated.

RECALLED AS STUDIOUS, ATHLETIC Coaches and officials at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High called Scott Milley “a treasure of this high school.”

“From the time he was 3 years old, that was his absolute dream, to be an Army man,’’ Steve Milley said. “His dream has now become the family nightmare. The family’s heart has been broken. Our baby son has gone.’’

Scott Milley was caught in a firefight outside Baraki Barak, his father said. Milley was an Army Ranger in the 10th Mountain Division and had been in Afghanistan for only a month.

“He was the happiest, most joyful person without a care in the world,’’ his father said. “His first e-mail home was, ‘Boy, this country’s beautiful.’ ’’

The family was flying to Washington, D.C., yesterday to meet Milley’s body, his father said.

Milley was captain of the ice hockey team at Lincoln-Sudbury and a Dual County League All-Star. He joined ROTC at the University of New Hampshire, from which he graduated cum laude in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“Scott was an exceptional young man,’’ said Lieutenant Colonel Paul Webber, professor of military science at UNH, in a statement. “He was everything we could have asked for in a cadet, and his death is such a loss. Scott was the best that our organization represents.’’

Milley was a member of the Second Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based in Fort Polk, La., the defense department said.

His goal after serving in the military was to join the FBI or the CIA, his father said.

Lincoln-Sudbury’s superintendent, Scott Carpenter, said Milley was popular in school and a prominent student athlete. “The type of scholar he was here and the type of leader he was amongst his peers would have prepared him well for anything,’’ said Carpenter, who was Milley’s house master.

Visitors streamed in and out of the Milleys’ home to comfort the family yesterday, said Alison Corwin, who lives next door.

“It’s such a quiet little town; you don’t expect anything to happen,’’ she said. “It’s definitely a shock to the community.’’

Town officials released a statement yesterday afternoon extending condolences to the family and said they would wait to hear from the family before planning a memorial.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

2 million face bleak holidays after Scott Brown blocks jobless benefits | Raw Story

2 million face bleak holidays after Scott Brown blocks jobless benefits | Raw Story: "Scott Brown, the senator from Massachusetts who briefly captured the imagination of the tea party movement when he won Ted Kennedy's old seat, came under attack from his own constituents Wednesday after blocking a bill that would have extended jobless benefits due to expire this month.

Brown placed a hold on the $56-billion bill that came up on the Senate floor Tuesday, effectively preventing it from coming to a vote before the end of the lame-duck Senate session.

The result is that two million people currently collecting jobless benefits from the federal government will lose their benefits sometime over the next few weeks, depending on the state they live in. In Brown's home state of Massachusetts, an estimated 60,000 people are expected to lose their unemployment checks this month.

In opposing the extension, Brown said he couldn't vote for a bill that he had 'just found out' about....

Bailouts Are For Banks: Unemployed People Get Zilch

Bailouts Are For Banks: Unemployed People Get Zilch: "In Washington, the agenda has long since moved on from bailing out megabanks to figuring out how to stop paying for things that regular people need -- luxuries like health care, retirement benefits and unemployment insurance....

- bth: invariably the little guys seems to get screwed in this country. DC doesn't give a damn about people that don't have lobbyists

Taiwanese animator creates WikiLeaks ‘Cablegate’ video | Raw Story

Taiwanese animator creates WikiLeaks ‘Cablegate’ video | Raw Story: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Family: New Jersey man serving 7 years for guns he owned legally | Philadelphia Daily News | 11/30/2010

Family: New Jersey man serving 7 years for guns he owned legally | Philadelphia Daily News | 11/30/2010: "EVERYTHING Brian Aitken was or had worked for was wiped away one winter afternoon after his mother called the police on him.

Separated from his wife, the entrepreneur and media consultant, now 27, had moved back home to New Jersey from Colorado toward the end of 2008 to be closer to their young son.

In between jobs, his well-oiled life was running ragged, and on Jan. 2, 2009, when his ex canceled his visit with their son, he became distraught, muttered something to his mother, and left his parents' home in Mount Laurel, N.J.

'He said something that scared her, things that a guy will only say to his mom, like . . . 'Life's not worth living anymore,' ' said Larry Aitken, Brian's father.

Sue Aitken, a trained social worker, decided to play it safe and called police, but she hung up before the 9-1-1 dispatcher could answer. Police traced the call and showed up anyway, and found two handguns in the trunk of Brian's car. And now Brian, her middle child, a graduate student with no prior criminal record, is serving a seven-year prison sentence for weapons charges....

- bth: this is a travesty of justice. A case of handgun laws gone wild making nonviolent law abiding citizens criminals.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

YouTube - Bon Jovi - Living on a Prayer - A Tribute To Heroes

YouTube - Bon Jovi - Living on a Prayer - A Tribute To Heroes: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Afghan president Hamid Karzai pardoned cops dealing heroin, cable reveals | Raw Story

Afghan president Hamid Karzai pardoned cops dealing heroin, cable reveals | Raw Story: ..."In the August 2009 cable, American officials said that since 2009, 150 of the 629 detainees transferred from coalition to Afghan custody had been released without trial.

It said Karzai had pardoned five border policemen in April 2009 who were caught with 124 kilograms (273 pounds) of heroin in their police vehicle and had been sentenced to terms of 16 to 18 years in prison.

They were pardoned 'on the grounds that they were distantly related to two individuals who had been martyred during the civil war,' the cable noted.

The document said Karzai also intervened in a narcotics case involving the son of a wealthy businessman and one of his supporters.

The president ordered a second investigation 'without any constitutional authority' it said, which found the defendant had been framed.

On Monday, Afghanistan said its relations with the United States would not be affected by earlier leaked cables portraying Karzai as weak and paranoid, and his brother as a corrupt drugs baron.

But the latest cable strikes at the heart of Western fears that high-level corruption within the Afghan government is undermining the nine-year war against the Taliban.

-- bth: is this worth the fight?

AP-CNBC Poll: Cut services to balance the budget

My Way News - AP-CNBC Poll: Cut services to balance the budget

WASHINGTON (AP) - To ease surging budget deficits, Americans prefer cutting federal services to raising taxes by nearly 2-1 in a new poll. Yet there is little consensus on specific, meaningful steps - and a wariness about touching two gargantuan programs, Social Security and Medicare.

An Associated Press-CNBC Poll showed widespread anxiety about budget shortfalls exceeding $1 trillion a year. Eighty-five percent worry that growing red ink will harm future generations - the strongest expression of concern since AP polls began asking the question in 2008. Fifty-six percent think the shortfalls will spark a major economic crisis in the coming decade....

--- bth: a congenital fear of touching funding for Social Security, Medicare and Defense leaves little else. So does this explain the recent theater regarding earmarks and Bush tax cuts?

Geopolitical Journey, Part 6: Ukraine | STRATFOR

Geopolitical Journey, Part 6: Ukraine | STRATFOR

The name “Ukraine” literally translates as “on the edge.” It is a country on the edge of other countries, sometimes part of one, sometimes part of another and more frequently divided. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was divided between Russia, Poland and the Ottoman Empire. In the 19th century, it was divided between Russia and Austria-Hungary. And in the 20th century, save for a short period of independence after World War I, it became part of the Soviet Union. Ukraine has been on the edge of empires for centuries.

My father was born in Ukraine in 1912, in a town in the Carpathians now called Uzhgorod. It was part of Austria-Hungary when he was born, and by the time he was 10 the border had moved a few miles east, so his family moved a few miles west. My father claimed to speak seven languages (Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and Yiddish). As a child, I was deeply impressed by his learning. It was only later that I discovered that his linguistic skills extended only to such phrases as “What do you want for that scrawny chicken?” and “Please don’t shoot.”...


--- bth: a piece of analysis worth reading on the Ukraine

Most in U.S. want open military service for gays: poll | Reuters

Most in U.S. want open military service for gays: poll | Reuters: "The poll findings are the latest to indicate public support for a repeal of the 17-year-old 'don't ask, don't tell' policy banning gays from openly serving in the U.S. military and come a day before a long-awaited Pentagon report on the matter.

In the poll, 58 percent of those surveyed favored allowing gays to serve openly in the military with 27 percent opposed, and the remainder offering no opinion. The nationwide survey of 1,255 adults was conducted from November 4-7.

'These opinions have changed little in recent years. Since 2005 -- including three surveys this year -- roughly 60 percent have consistently favored permitting homosexuals to serve openly in the military,' Pew said.

The Pentagon is due on Tuesday to release its study on the potential impact of repeal of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. The study includes a survey of the attitudes of 400,000 members of the U.S. military.

Partisan divides on the issue are sharp. Among Democrats, 70 percent favored allowing gays to openly serve while the figure for Republicans in the poll was 40 percent. Among conservative Republicans, only 28 percent were in favor of allowing gays to serve openly.

Religious opposition was strongest among white evangelical Protestants, a key base of support for the Republican Party....

-- bth: what has been interesting to me is that the percentages are essentially the same among the military as with the general population.

DADT Study: Pentagon Report Says Gays Could Serve In Military With No Harm

DADT Study: Pentagon Report Says Gays Could Serve In Military With No Harm: "WASHINGTON — The Pentagon study that argues that gay troops could serve openly without hurting the military's ability to fight is expected to re-ignite debate this month on Capitol Hill over repealing the 17-year-old 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.

Officials familiar with the 10-month study's results have said a clear majority of respondents don't care if gays serve openly, with 70 percent predicting that lifting the ban would have positive, mixed or no results. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings hadn't been released.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, who have both said they support repealing the law, were scheduled to discuss the findings with Congress Tuesday morning and with reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have mostly opposed repealing the law because they say efforts to do so are politically driven and dangerous at a time of two wars.

'This was a political promise made by an inexperienced president or candidate for presidency of the United States,' McCain told CNN's 'State of the Union' last weekend....

- bth: as is typical with anything controversial, the Pentagon had the study's conclusions released after an election, not before. Unfortunately the consequence in this case is that thousands of honorable men and women who are gay will not be given equal treatment and opportunity to serve their country openly. Obama, Gates and Mullen really should be ashamed of their gutless management of this issue. McCain continues with his two faced bigotry and Lindsey Graham, a hypocrite at the worst level, deserve disdain.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Saturday Night Live - Message from TSA - Video - NBC.com

Saturday Night Live - Message from TSA - Video - NBC.com: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

US defeats Australia in robot comp: photos - Hardware - News

US defeats Australia in robot comp: photos - Hardware - News: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"



bth: the article and attached photos and video are worth watching in full for those interested in autonomous UGVs

Stuxnet: a new weapon for cyber insurgents?

Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - Stuxnet: a new weapon for cyber insurgents?
...
he revelation this year of a novel way to use computers to sabotage an enemy’s lifeline infrastructure suggests a powerful new kind of weapon is moving within reach of weak states, militant groups and criminals, some analysts say. That weapon is likely to be a variant of Stuxnet, a highly destructive Internet worm discovered by a Belarus company in June and described by European security company Kaspersky Labs as “a fearsome prototype of a cyber-weapon”, analysts say.

“Stuxnet is like the arrival of an F-35 fighter jet on a World War I battlefield,” blogged German industrial control systems expert Ralph Langner. Whoever created the bug, believed by many to have targeted an Iranian uranium enrichment facility, the job likely required many man-hours of work and millions of dollars in investment. But now that its code has been publicly analysed, hackers will need only a few months to develop a version of the customised malware for black market sale, some experts say.

Ali Jahangiri, an information security expert who tracks Trojan codes, harmful pieces of software that look legitimate, describes that prospect as “a great danger.” “The professional Trojan codemakers have got the idea from Stuxnet that they could make something similar which can be used by governments, criminals or terrorists,” he told Reuters. Stuxnet’s menace is that it reprogrammes a control system used in many industrial facilities to inflict physical damage. At risk is automation equipment common to the networks on which modern societies depend – power plants, refineries, chemical plants, pipelines and transport control systems. Analysts say they suspect hackers are rushing to build a version of the worm and sell it to the highest bidder before experts can instal counter-measures plants across the globe.

“My greatest fear is that we are running out of time to learn our lessons,” US information security expert Michael Assante told a Congressional hearing on Stuxnet this month. “Stuxnet ... may very well serve as a blueprint for similar but new attacks on control system technology,” said Assante, President of the US National Board of Information Security Examiners, which sets standards for security professionals. Langner says multinational efforts against malware inspired by Stuxnet won’t work since “treaties won’t be countersigned by rogue nation states, terrorists, organised crime, and hackers.” “All of these will be able to possess and use such weapons soon,” he said. If the next Stuxnet cost less than $1 million on the black market, then “some not-so-well equipped nation states and well-funded terrorists will grab their checkbooks.”

As well as favouring small states, cyber appears to be a tool of special value for Russia and China, since it allows them to become equals to the United States in a sphere where US conventional military dominance counts for nothing. Stuxnet is a powerful example of the fastest-growing sort of computer bug – customised malware written specifically to attack a precise target. What is new is its power, and the publicity it has attracted through a presumed link to Iran....

Iran Bomb Blast Kills Nuclear Scientist Majid Shahriari In Tehran

Iran Bomb Blast Kills Nuclear Scientist Majid Shahriari In Tehran

TEHRAN, Iran — Assailants on motorcycles attached bombs to the cars of two nuclear scientists as they were driving to work in Tehran Monday, killing one and seriously wounding the other, state television reported.

The report did not say whether the two university teachers were directly involved in the country's highly controversial nuclear program.

State TV swiftly blamed Israel for the attacks. At least two other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in recent years in what Iran has alleged is part of a covert attempt by the West to damage its nuclear program. One of those two was killed in an attack similar to those on Monday....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pakistan forcing Taliban militants to keep fighting, Karzai says in leaked cable | Raw Story

Pakistan forcing Taliban militants to keep fighting, Karzai says in leaked cable | Raw Story: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a US envoy this year that the Pakistani government is forcing Taliban fighters to keep fighting coalition forces, according to a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks.

If true, the allegation would add evidence to claims Pakistan is intentionally prolonging the war effort to ensure that any future peace settlement results in an Afghan 'satellite state' of Pakistan.

Discussing the arrest of de facto Taliban leader Mullah Baradar earlier this year, Karzai said Pakistan detained Baradar because he was willing to negotiate peace with coalition forces -- something Pakistan doesn't want to see, according to Karzai.

The cable, published Sunday by the New York Times, is marked 'secret' and dated February of this year. It describes a conversation between Karzai and Frank Ruggiero, a deputy of US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke.

'Senior Taliban fighters in Pakistan may be prepared to reintegrate, [Karzai] said, but are forced by the Pakistan Government to continue to fight,' the cable reports....

Saturday Night Live - Thanksgivies - Video - NBC.com

Saturday Night Live - Thanksgivies - Video - NBC.com: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

34,000 women paramedics go missing after Pakistan floods - The Times of India

34,000 women paramedics go missing after Pakistan floods - The Times of India: "SLAMABAD: According to the UN, around 34,000 women paramedical workers have gone missing from the flood affected districts of Pakistan, a media report said on Saturday.

Noted social activist Tahira Abdullah said the mindboggling disclosure in the UN report has so far failed to have an impact on the government, The NewsInternational reported.

'Even the provincial governments are silent on this report, which should have been enough to shake the entire set-up,' she said.

Abdullah asked the government to take a roll-call, so it could be confirmed that all the paramedical workers were safe.

'They (the government) tried to play down the matter and said that there actually is exaggeration in the report. According to their statistics, only 10,000 have gone missing during the floods,' she said.

The floods that started in July have killed around 1,700 people and affected more than 20 million. Overall economic loss has been estimated at around $9.5 billion.

- bth: hello. What does this mean? Where did they go?

Headley bares bigger ISI hand in 26/11 attacks - Hindustan Times

Headley bares bigger ISI hand in 26/11 attacks - Hindustan Times: "Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence’s (ISI) involvement in the 26/11 attack on Mumbai exactly two years ago to this day was even greater than is generally believed, portions of jailed Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Headley statements to the National Inves-tigation Agency (NIA) show.
related stories

* LeT camps reopened in Pak: Jailed militant
* ‘We came here to pray’
* 2 years on, India regrets Pak inaction on 26/11

Freshly accessed by HT, the NIA report on the interrogation — conducted in Chicago last June — makes it clear that Headley spied for the ISI.

Headley revealed to the NIA that an officer of the ISI was assigned to train him in the finer aspects of intelligence gathering and subterfuge, before he set off on his repeated recces of potential targets in India.

“The training given by this officer under the guidance of Major Iqbal was much more scientific and effective than the training I received in LeT camps,” he said.

Investigators now believe as far as 26/11 was concerned, the LeT was merely the executive arm of the ISI and Headley was its spy-in-chief.

The ISI officer trained Headley in building sources and handling them. ...

- bth: the source material is from the Indians so there should be a bias alert, but the basic fact are not disputed. ISI helped Headley kill Indians in Mumbai. Likely it was an attempt to re leave pressure on Taliban in Pakistan being targeted by that government but stirring up tension with India causing Pak to shift forces to its eastern border and out of the NW territories.

Liam Fox rejects Prince Andrew's call on armoured vehicle - Telegraph

Liam Fox rejects Prince Andrew's call on armoured vehicle - Telegraph: "Dr Fox spoke after Prince Andrew accused Ministry of Defence chiefs of sitting on their “fat backsides” and stalling on buying the new Ranger vehicle, whose makers claim offers better protection against roadside bombs.

The Duke, an ambassador for British trade and industry, last week backed the Ranger, which is made by Universal Engineering in Weymouth, Dorset, and accused the MoD of delaying on a decision to test and possibly buy the vehicle.

He also launched stinging criticism of the MoD’s procurement system as “completely hopeless”.

Dr Fox rejected the Duke’s call on the Ranger, insisting the Mastiff and Ridgeback heavy armoured vehicles now in service in Afghanistan are the best choice for the operation.

Asked if the Duke was right about the Ranger, Dr Fox told Sky News: “In this particular case, no, that is not something we are looking for because we already have Ridgeback and Mastiff”.

However, Dr Fox agreed with the Duke’s criticism of the MoD’s handling of the ordering and buying of new kit for the Armed Forces.

The Coalition is now in a process of “dramatically and radically” overhauling the MoD procurement systems, Dr Fox said. “There are a lot of improvements that have to be made in our procurement process.”

The protection of British troops in Afghanistan has been one of the most contentious aspects of the conflict since so many lives have been lost to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted on roads and paths.

Labour ministers faced repeated accusations from commanders that they had failed to provide troops with enough properly-armoured vehicles, criticism that led to the purchase of the Mastiffs and Ridgebacks.

And last year, the Jackal, a lighter armoured vehicle was introduced to replace the Snatch Land Rover, linked to many IED deaths.

However, doubts have been raised about the Jackal, and in September, two soldiers were killed in while travelling in a Jackal

Officers in Afghanistan say the increased armour on vehicles helped force the Taliban to switch tactics towards targeting foot patrols, first with IEDs and increasingly with long-range sniper fire.

--- bth: Prince Andrew is right but Dr. Fox doesn't spit it out, the reason he is not providing more equipment is because the MOD has consistently chiseled the squadies of proper equipment from sniper acoustic detectors, to body armor, to in particular suitable armored vehicles and helicopters. The British are far worse than the Americans about protecting their soldiers. A friend of mine in tune with MOD activities says that it fails to do anything until several hundred lives are lost from the same cause and then only under intense public outcry. But the British public barely cares about its soldiers in Afghanistan much less paying to support them as was evident for years with their neglectful treatment of wounded, of their failure to even address much less acknowledge the chronic shortage of helicopters and armor. Its just a crime that the Brits treat its front line infantry so poorly.

Fears Taliban targeting bomb disposal experts - Telegraph

Fears Taliban targeting bomb disposal experts - Telegraph: ...Almost 80 per cent of the casualties have been caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as the Taliban develop increasingly sophisticated methods of attacking troops.

To combat the threat the Ministry of Defence is bringing together a new bomb disposal unit of 300 troops that will help defuse the devices but also go after the masterminds behind the bombing networks.

It is not known whether the soldier was killed as he approached the bomb or when he was attempting to defuse it but if the device was attached to a command wire, initiated by a person stood up to 500 metres away, then the Taliban could have planned to wait until the expert got close to the bomb. The device exploded nine miles north of Lashkar Gah on Monday afternoon close to the Argyll patrol base.

...The news comes as the latest official figures show that IED attacks have dramatically increased with 418 in the first five months of this year compared to 293 during the same period in last year.

--- bth; Taliban have been targeting EOD and Combat Engineering teams from the US. I don't see why they aren't also targeting British EOD specialists as the author of this article speculates.