Thursday, September 08, 2011

Disalmanac Guide to Afghanistan - YouTube

Disalmanac Guide to Afghanistan - YouTube

$265 Bomb, $300 Billion War: The Economics of the 9/11 Era’s Signature Weapon | Danger Room | Wired.com

$265 Bomb, $300 Billion War: The Economics of the 9/11 Era’s Signature Weapon | Danger Room | Wired.com

...The common theme: all the ingredients for the bombs are inexpensive enough to remain in mass production, even when the U.S. attacks an insurgency’s revenue stream. And they’re vastly cheaper than the vehicles they destroy, the gear used to find them, and the troops they maim and kill.

Determining just how expensive they are is difficult, owing to all of the different components in the bombs. But according to the Pentagon’s bomb squad, the average cost of an IED is just a few hundred bucks, pocket change to a well-funded insurgency. Worse, over time, the average cost of the cheapo IEDs have dropped from $1,125 in 2006 to $265 in 2009. A killing machine, in other words, costs less than a 32-gig iPhone....

The most plentiful types of bomb from 2009 — the most recent available figures for the myriad types of bombs — were, unsurprisingly, the cheapest. On average, a “victim-operated” bomb — one set to explode when its target or a civilian inadvertently sets it off — cost a mere $265. (That seems remarkably high for bombs that can be as simple as a bunch of fertilizer chemicals, wires and a pressure plate made out of two blocks of wood, but that’s what JIEDDO says.) Those types of bombs accounted for 57.9 percent of homemade bomb incidents in 2009. The next most plentiful category of bomb, those set off with command wires leading from the device, also cost $265 on average in 2009, accounting for another 23.8 percent of attacks.

As the bombs get more difficult to construct or operate, the costs rise. Bombs activated with a remote detonator like a cellphone cost a mere $345 and accounted for a surprisingly small — 12.6 percent — of attacks, perhaps owing to the U.S.’ hard-won ability to jam the detonator signal. (One would imagine the major cost component is the cellphone.) For insurgents to turn a car into a bomb or convince someone to kill himself during a detonation — or both — the cost shoots up into the thousands: $10,032 for a suicide bomber; $15,320 for a car bomb; nearly 19 grand to drive a car bomb. All together, those relatively expensive attack methods accounted for fewer than six percent of bomb attacks in 2009.

Most of those bombs have gotten cheaper to produce. In 2006, victim-operated IEDs cost an average of $1,125. Command-wire bombs were $1,266. Remote detonation bombs? The same. And as the costs dropped, victim-operated and command-wire detonated bombs skyrocketed. Back in 2006, they accounted for merely 21.3 percent and a piddling 1.9 percent of all bomb attacks, respectively.

But the sophisticated bombs have gotten more expensive. Car bombs cost $1,675 on average in 2006 — which seems absurdly low, given the cost of one involves acquiring and then tricking out a car. And the going rate on suicide bombers appears to have risen, from $5,966 in 2006 to nearly double that in 2009. Accordingly, both accounted for over 16 percent of IED attacks in ‘06. And JIEDDO says it has preliminary reporting indicating that suicide bombers cost $30,000 as of January.

It’s also worth mentioning that the number of IEDs in Afghanistan has mushroomed: from 1,952 in 2006 to 5,616 in 2009. All told, since the Afghanistan war began, homemade bombs have killed 719 U.S. troops and wounded 7,448....

But homemade bombs have proliferated far, far beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. JIEDDO’s 2010 recent annual report records an average of 260 IED attacks every month (.PDF) outside of the warzones in 2010. So far in 2011, there are upwards of 550 IED attacks beyond Iraq and Afghanistan every month. On Tuesday, Nigerian officials discovered a homemade bomb factory near Abuja; on Wednesday, a bomb stuffed into a briefcase killed 11 people and wounded 79 more in New Dehli.

And if the most common types of homemade bombs cost a couple hundred bucks to produce, the U.S.’ measures to stop them — robots, optics, flying sensors — are orders of magnitude more expensive. Explosive ordnance detection teams in Afghanistan use a small robot called a “Devil Pup” to locate IEDs. JIEDDO has paid $35 million for the 300 mini-robots — a little over $116,000 per ‘bot, which can buy about 440 victim-operated bombs.

In late July, JIEDDO announced it would provide another $12 million worth of sensors and jammers to detect and stop IEDs. It’s all part of a counter-IED effort that’s cost at least $19 billion since 2004, even as IEDs have proliferated globally....

-- bth: so for well under $10 million annually, the Taliban can blog down and financially distress a western military coalition.

Sadrists to Demonstrate in Baghdad against US Troops Remaining | Informed Comment

Sadrists to Demonstrate in Baghdad against US Troops Remaining | Informed Comment

...Iraq’s parliamentary system regularly produces hung parliaments and governments can only be formed with outside mediation. The US played that role in 2005, but Iran played it in 2010, by pressuring Muqtada al-Sadr to join a governing coalition with his enemy, al-Maliki. Al-Maliki is thus beholden to both Sadr and to Iran politically, and has been pushed toward Tehran by the Sunni crackdown on the Shiites of Bahrain and the prospect of a Sunni overthrow of the Shiite-dominated Baath Party in Syria. That is, the Arab Spring has finally produced that Shiite crescent of which the Sunni Arab monarchs began being afraid in 2004. Nothing Washington does is likely to change this new and consolidating alignment. And it is this alignment that makes a long-term US troop presence so unlikely, since none of the regional principals want it. But were some US troops to stay, they would be in constant danger and if they were hit, it could provoke the Third American-Iraqi War.

Iraq: The endgame begins - By Tom Ricks | The Best Defense

Iraq: The endgame begins - By Tom Ricks | The Best Defense

The war in Iraq continues. Suppose we gave a war in Iraq and nobody here cared? Not clear what the deal is to keep U.S. forces in Iraq. But keeping just 3,000 troops worries me -- that's more like a big kick-me sign than a force that can support and protect itself. (Unless it is a cover for about 12,000 more mercenaries.) I mean, Mookie already has threatened to whack American advisors remaining into next year. Meanwhile, Turkey conducted a bunch of airstrikes against Kurdish targets in northern Iraq.

It is also going to be harder to see one more American die in Iraq now that Iraq has lined up with Iran to support the beleaguered regime in Syria. Leaves a kind of even emptier feeling. (But at least we got Iraq's stockpiles of WMD!) Old Juan Cole sees an emerging Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran alliance. A new axis of evil?...

-- bth: so what do you call 3000 US troops in Iraq? Hostages.

Sources: Obama Administration To Drop Troop Levels In Iraq To 3,000 | Fox News

Sources: Obama Administration To Drop Troop Levels In Iraq To 3,000 | Fox News

The Obama administration has decided to drop the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of the year down to 3,000, marking a major downgrade in force strength, multiple sources familiar with the inner workings and decisions on U.S. troop movements in Iraq told Fox News.

Senior commanders are said to be livid at the decision, which has already been signed off by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta....

- bth: OK if this is where we are planning to end up why did we work so hard to get an agreement with the Iraqi government? Why not just move all the combat forces entirely out and try to right things diplomatically with the Iraqis? Does 3K serve any useful purpose?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Libyan missiles looted – CNN Security Clearance - CNN.com Blogs

EXCLUSIVE: Libyan missiles looted – CNN Security Clearance - CNN.com Blogs

...Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch emergencies director, told CNN he has seen the same pattern in armories looted elsewhere in Libya, noting that "in every city we arrive, the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles."

He said such missiles can fetch many thousands of dollars on the black market.

"We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya, and I've seen cars packed with them." he said. "They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone."

There was no immediate comment from NTC officials.

The lack of security at the weapons site raises concerns about stability in post-Gadhafi Libya and whether the new NTC leadership is doing enough to stop the weapons from getting into the wrong hands.

A NATO official, who asked to not be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said 575 surface-to-air missiles, radar systems and sites or storage facilities were hit by NATO airstrikes and either damaged or destroyed between March 31 and Saturday. He didn't elaborate on the specifics about the targets.

Gen. Carter Ham, chief of U.S. Africa Command, has said he's concerned about the proliferation of weapons, most notably the shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. He said there were about 20,000 in Libya when the international operation began earlier this year and many of them have not been accounted for.

"That's going to be a concern for some period of time," he said in April.

Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union counterterrorism coordinator, raised concerns Monday about the possibility that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, based in North Africa, could gain access to small arms, machine guns and surface-to-air missiles.

Western officials worry that weapons from the storage sites will end up in the hands of militants or adversaries like Iran.

The governments of neighboring Niger and Chad have both said that weapons from Libya are already being smuggled into their countries, and they are destined for al Qaeda. They include detonators and a plastic explosive called Semtex. Chad's president said they include SA-7 missiles.

An ethnic Tuareg leader in the northern Niger city of Agadez also said many weapons have come across the border. He said he and other Tuareg leaders are anxious about Gadhafi's Tuareg fighters returning home - with their weapons - and making common cause with al Qaeda cells in the region. Gadhafi's fighting forces have included mercenaries from other African nations....

-- bth: this is not an idle matter. It was several years after the US retaliated against MQ and his night club bombings when the Pan Am shoot down occurred. Just because this conflict is winding down does not mean that a year or two from now we won't see an airliner or military plane shot down by MQ's thugs or al Qaeda who may purchase these missing stockpiles.

House Armed Services leaders announce effort to stave off Defense cuts - TheHill.com

House Armed Services leaders announce effort to stave off Defense cuts - TheHill.com

House Armed Services leaders on Wednesday delivered their opening argument against Pentagon budget paring beyond $350 billion, saying they will publicly examine how those cuts will affect soldiers on the battlefield.

“We have to talk about the consequences” of Defense Department budget reductions over 10 years mandated in the August debt deal, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday.

Panel Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said he and McKeon “aren’t saying we should just throw money at Defense.”

Thornberry said lawmakers and officials should try to find additional savings within the Pentagon budget, such as the more than $150 billion in “efficiencies” that were uncovered during a late 2010 internal budget drill.

“But we shouldn’t cut indiscriminately and expect [that will have] no impact on soldiers on the front lines,” Thornberry told reporters during the same roundtable session.

The HASC duo wants the Obama administration to draw up a sweeping national security strategy before deciding how to implement the $350 billion in cuts, or before a congressional supercommittee orders even more cuts in a potential deficit-shrinking deal....

-- bth: so where were these chicken shits last month when the debate mattered?

Afghanistan: Saudi prince: U.S. missed chance for Afghan withdrawal

Afghanistan

(Reuters) - The United States should have used the killing of Osama bin Laden to declare victory and quickly withdraw from Afghanistan and now faces an increasingly nationalist uprising in the country, a senior Saudi prince said on Wednesday.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Britain and the United States, said the Obama administration had not been given enough credit for removing the al Qaeda leader, who was shot dead by U.S. special forces in Pakistan on May 1.

"The killing of bin Laden has not gotten the accolades that it deserves, not just throughout the world but even in this country," al-Faisal said at a conference on terrorism held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

"Killing bin Laden would have been the perfect moment when your president can say we've done it ... this is the timetable that we've set for withdrawal of troops and goodbye and good luck. But it hasn't happened that way."...

-- bth: I think he is probably right. We missed an opportunity to declare victory and go home.

Bought in Haste - Defense News

Bought in Haste - Defense News

...But the more difficult problem for the Pentagon is what to do about those things the military wants to retain. Where is the money going to come from to sustain and - perish the thought - upgrade these capabilities? In order to be eligible for the base budget's procurement and sustainment funds, won't they all have to be converted into programs of record? How are they going to be inserted into the services' Table of Organization and Equipment? Is this even a consideration in the budget drills the Washington rumor mill says is consuming the Pentagon?

There is an additional problem: integration. All the different gadgets and gizmos invented for the wars will need to be integrated not only with each other but with all the other platforms and systems in the services' inventories. There have been enough horror stories about how this IED jammer blew out a vehicle's radios or that platform didn't have sufficient power to support a particular sensor. The vast array of new sensors, communications systems and electronic warfare devices overload the power-generation capabilities of most vehicles and aircraft.

This is one of the principal reasons why the Army is pursuing the Ground Combat Vehicle and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. But how will new capabilities be integrated onto legacy platforms and from where will the money come?

The Defense Department needs to develop a comprehensive sustainment and integration plan for these innovative capabilities in order to ensure continuation of funding and the creation of sustainment and integration plans.

Yes, this means that more programs will compete for fewer dollars, but at least the playing field will be level and the innovative capabilities might stand a chance of survival. The Pentagon needs to take the initiative to ensure that capabilities such as CREW, XM25 and ScanEagle are not permitted to disappear, only to have to be reinvented when we fight the next war.

Daniel Gouré is vice president of the Lexington Institute, Arlington, Va.

--- bth: this article is on the mark and worth reading in full.

Quetta Suicide Bombing: Suicide Attack In Pakistan Kills At Least 19 People

Quetta Suicide Bombing: Suicide Attack In Pakistan Kills At Least 19 People

QUETTA, Pakistan — A pair of suicide bombers attacked a top army officer in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta on Wednesday, missing him but killing his wife. At least 22 others died, including several guards, a senior officer and two children, officials said.

Police said they were investigating whether the strike was in revenge for the recent arrests in Quetta of three top al-Qaida suspects, an operation that was assisted by the CIA.

But within hours, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and a spokesman for the group said Brig. Khurram Shahzad, the deputy head of the region's Frontier Corps, was targeted because of an incident several months ago that left five people dead at a checkpoint in the city.

In Wednesday's blasts, the first attacker detonated his vehicle next to a group of Frontier Corps officers close to Shahzad's house. Hurling grenades, the second attacker than stormed the house and blew himself up inside it, police officer Naseer Ahmed Kurd said.

Police officer Hamid Shakil said at least 23 people were killed and more than 60 were injured....

-- bth how is it that the Taliban can maintain popular support in Pakistan?

Libya is now set to be a scene of multiple battles | Soumaya Ghannoushi | Comment is free | The Guardian

Libya is now set to be a scene of multiple battles | Soumaya Ghannoushi | Comment is free | The Guardian

... Two sources of legitimacy now confront each other in Libya: a legitimacy derived from armed struggle on the one hand, and the de facto legitimacy of a self-appointed leadership with western support on the other. The two are locked in a cold (and potentially hot) conflict over Libya's future, the nature of its political order and its foreign policy.

This conflict is played out in various ways throughout the region. In each case the internal dynamics of the various revolutions are threatened by foreign powers' logic of containment and control. What is at stake is whether the Arab spring leads to a calculated, limited, and monitored change, where new players replace old ones while the rules of the game remain intact, and where proxy wars are manned via allied local elites in order to recycle the old regime into the new order. This is what various foreign powers would like to see.

Gaddafi has gone, but Libya is now set to be a scene of multiple battles: not only conflicts between Nato's men and the fighters on the ground, but also between the foreign forces that have invested in the war – the French, who are determined to have the upper hand politically and economically; the Italians, who regard Libya as their backyard; the British, who want to safeguard their contracts; the Turks, who are keen to revive their influence in the old Ottoman hemisphere; and of course the losing players in the emerging order, the Chinese and the Russians.

New Wind Turbine Design Can Triple Energy Production! - YouTube

New Wind Turbine Design Can Triple Energy Production! - YouTube

In Euro Zone, Banking Fear Feeds on Itself - NYTimes.com

In Euro Zone, Banking Fear Feeds on Itself - NYTimes.com

...“This crisis has the potential to be a lot worse than Lehman Brothers,” said George Soros, the hedge fund investor, citing the lack of an authoritative pan-European body to handle a banking crisis of this severity. “That is why the problem is so serious. You need a crisis to create the political will for Europe to create such an authority, but there is still no understanding as to what the authority will do.”

The growing nervousness was reflected in financial markets Tuesday, with stocks in the United States and Europe falling 1 percent and European bank stocks falling 5 percent or more after steep drops in recent weeks.

European bank shares are now at their lowest point since March 2009, when the global banking system was still shaky following Lehman’s collapse.

Investors also continued to seek the safety of United States Treasury bonds, as yields on two-year bonds briefly touched 1.90 percent, the lowest ever, before closing at 1.98 percent....

-- bth: ironically the flight to quality is to US Treasury Bonds that were demonized by S&P last month.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Aussies to clone explosives sniffer dogs | Homeland Security News Wire

Aussies to clone explosives sniffer dogs | Homeland Security News Wire

Two Aussie dog-breeding companies will collaborate with South Korean scientists on cloning explosives and drug sniffer dogs; the first batch of ten dogs will go into service in 2013; the Australians cloned dogs would be made from tissue samples taken from a German shepherd called Hassan von Gruntal, who died in 2001; cloned sniffer dogs have already been used in South Korea and the United States

Trackr, cloned in 2008 // Source: thedogfiles.com

Australian law enforcement and military agencies have come up with a new way to make sure they have the best explosives sniffing dogs on service: clone currently serving sniffing dogs.

The Herald Sun reports that the first batch of ten cloned explosives and drugs sniffer dogs would be made available to Aussie government agencies and companies in the private sector by 2013. Two Australian companies — Detector Dogs Australia and Von Forell International – already breed and train dogs for different tasks, including bomb detection at Port of Melbourne. The two companies will now collaborate with a South Korean company on the dog cloning project.

The Herald Sun notes that the cloned dogs would be made from tissue samples taken from a German shepherd called Hassan von Gruntal, who died in 2001. Hassan came “from an East German bloodline known for courage and commitment,” the paper notes.

Sniffer dogs cloning is not new. The world’s first cloned sniffer dogs was employed in South Korea in July 2009. An American police dog called Trakr, who sniffed out survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks, was privately cloned in 2008.

Fukishima's valuable lessons for future nuclear power plants | Homeland Security News Wire

Fukishima's valuable lessons for future nuclear power plants | Homeland Security News Wire


...Among the specific suggestions the report makes:

  • Emergency backup generators, needed to keep the systems running when outside power is cut off as it was in this case, should be well separated into at least two locations — one situated high up, to protect against flooding, and the other down low to protect against hazards such as an airplane crash. These generators should also be housed in watertight rooms, as they already are at many U.S. plants.
  • In future plants, spacing between reactor buildings located at the same site should be increased — for example, by having other areas such as parking lots or support buildings in between — and systems such as ventilation shafts should be kept separate, in order to avoid a domino-like spread of problems from one reactor to another. In the Fukushima accident, it seems that hydrogen vented from reactor unit 3 may have reached unit 4 through the ventilation system, causing an explosion there.
  • Officials should be cautious about decisions to evacuate large areas around a damaged nuclear plant in cases where the population has already been devastated by a natural disaster. At Fukushima, “ironically, the biggest [health] consequences may be from the prolonged evacuation,” said Jacopo Buongiorno, the Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering and lead author of the new report.
  • More attention needs to be paid to how radiation risks are communicated to the public, rather than the confusing mix of different measurements that were disseminated in this case. The most useful standard is to relate radiation releases to natural background levels, rather than using technical units unfamiliar to most people.

The most obvious piece of advice — and one that is already observed in the majority of new nuclear-plant installations worldwide — is that in locating future plants it would be wise to “choose sites away from highly seismic areas and coasts,” to reduce the risks from earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.

Robot planes get their own airport - Technology & science - Science - DiscoveryNews.com - msnbc.com

Robot planes get their own airport - Technology & science - Science - DiscoveryNews.com - msnbc.com

The world's first airport for unmanned aircraft is opening in rural Wales and officials say it could be the first step to getting human and robot -piloted craft together in the same airspace.

The United Kingdom's Civilian Aviation Authority has just granted permission for both the West Wales Airport in Aberporth and a 500-square mile airspace to be dedicated to unmanned aircraft. General aviation pilots can still fly through the region, as well as Royal Air Force pilots who conduct training missions nearby.

The Welsh government hopes the drone airport and airspace will draw commercial firms who are currently banned from testing their aircraft in the United States except in restricted military airspace....

-- bth: this is a real good idea. I wish we were doing similar things in the US, say over Nevada or off the California coast.

Northrop to add 100 workers to 'robo-helicopter' program | SignOnSanDiego.com

Northrop to add 100 workers to 'robo-helicopter' program | SignOnSanDiego.com

Northrop Grumman says it will add 100 workers in Rancho Bernardo to enable the company to continue developing its Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle and a new "robo-helicopter" that will be twice as large. About 200 employees are already assigned to the program.

The company also is negotiating with the Navy to add weapons to Fire Scout, says George Vardoulakis, Northrop's vice president of tactical unmanned systems. One of the remotely-operated helicopters crashed over Libya in June, apparently after being struck by a missile. The 1.5-ton UAV had been operating from the frigate Halyburton, performing surveillance and reconnaissance for NATO.

The Fire Scout is expected to eventually operate from the Navy's new littoral combat ships, helping the vessels conduct everything from surveillance to anti-submarine warfare. But Northrop must first work out technical issues. Insidedefense.com reported in July that the Fire Scout completed only 54 percent of its missions from Halyburton earlier this year. (Read story.) And last year, ground controllers briefly lost contact with a Fire Scout that ended up entering restricted airspace over the Washington, D.C. area.

However, the Navy has expressed confidence that the problems will be worked out, and Northrop has been developing Fire X, the prototype for a larger version of the UAV. The new version is being engineered to withstand more severe weather and to stock weapons.

"The market for Fire X and Fire Scout could be substantial, although it will take time to develop," said Philip Finnegan, an analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va. " We see naval UAVs as a strong growth area for the future ...

"Fitting Fire Scout with weapons adds to the appeal of the system. It was part of the growth profile which includes adding a considerable number of capabilities."...

Northrop's MQ-8B has been tested aboard Perry-class frigates and is scheduled to operate from the Navy's new littoral combat ships.

Obama hits all-time low, NBC News/WSJ poll finds - politics - msnbc.com

Obama hits all-time low, NBC News/WSJ poll finds - politics - msnbc.com

...After the bruising debt-ceiling fight — as well as Standard & Poor's subsequent downgrade of the nation's credit rating — Obama's job approval rating has sunk to a low of 44 percent, a 3-point drop since July. His handling of the economy stands at a low of 37 percent. And only 19 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest mark for this president.

Perhaps most ominously for Obama, a majority of poll takers — 54 percent — think he's facing a longer-term setback from which he's unlikely to recover. Back in January, just 39 percent agreed with that assessment.

Indeed, that 54 percent is virtually identical to George W. Bush's score on the same question in the Nov. 2005 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was released just months after Bush's widely criticized handling of Hurricane Katrina....

-- bth: congress is at an all time low and President Obama had somehow managed to match Bush post Katrina's low point.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Taliban admits abducting 30 boys in Pakistan - CNN.com

Taliban admits abducting 30 boys in Pakistan - CNN.com

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 30 teenage boys who were seized from Pakistan's tribal region during an outing last week.

The militant group said it abducted the boys to punish their tribe for forming a pro-government militia to battle the Taliban.

The boys were taken Thursday from Bajaur Agency, which lies along the porous border with Afghanistan. It is one of seven districts in Pakistan's tribal region.

"Everyone who supports the government against Taliban will face the same fate," the Taliban spokesman said.

Islam Zeb, a senior administrator in Bajaur Agency, told CNN on Friday the boys were walking to a picnic spot along a river to mark the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan when they were taken.

- bth: how can the Taliban retain local support when they do such things? Is it just fear then?

Associated Press News - Pakistan detains top al-Qaida suspect

Associated Press News

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- A battered al-Qaida suffered another significant blow when Pakistani agents working with the CIA arrested a senior leader believed to have been tasked by Osama bin Laden with targeting American economic interests around the globe, Pakistan announced Monday.

Younis al-Mauritani's arrest - made public six days before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks - also point to improved cooperation between two uneasy anti-terror allies after the rancor surrounding bin Laden's killing.

Al-Qaida has seen its senior ranks thinned since bin Laden was killed May 2 in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan without the knowledge of local authorities. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the terror network's No. 2, was killed in a CIA missile strike last month.

Pakistan's unusual public announcement of close cooperation with the U.S. spy agency appeared aimed at reversing the widespread perception that ties between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency had been badly damaged by bin Laden's death. The Pakistanis accused the Americans of violating their sovereignty with the raid, while Washington was angry the terror leader had been found in a house in a military garrison town.

The Pakistani military said the arrest of al-Mauritani and two other Qaida operatives took place near the Afghan border in the southwestern city of Quetta, long known as a base for militants. It did not say when. The arrests were carried out in the past two weeks, according to a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The capture of an al-Qaida operative inside Pakistan has become rare in recent years: most targets of CIA operations in the country have been killed by drone aircraft in a relentless series of operations that started to increase in 2008. His capture is likely to create chaos within al-Qaida: even if he does not reveal compromising information, that possibility is almost certain to force the network to alter plans, move operatives and make a variety of other sudden changes, damaging its ability to carry out attacks.

"This operation was planned and conducted with technical assistance of United State Intelligence Agencies with whom Inter-Services Intelligence has a strong, historic intelligence relationship. Both Pakistan and United States Intelligence agencies continue to work closely together to enhance security of their respective nations," the military said in a written statement....

-- bth: usually a press release like this from Pakistan shows up just before a budget discussion, a senior level government meeting or similar occasion. A couple of years ago a similar announcement was followed by a military hardware deal. I wouldn't be surprised at a similar coincidence.

Syrian officials deplore EU oil embargo

Syrian officials deplore EU oil embargo

..."It is unexpected to stop our oil exports and we should find alternative markets other than the Europeans," he said.

Meanwhile, an expert in the energy affairs, Ziyad Arbash, told the state-run al-Thawra newspaper that the impact of European sanctions on the energy sector in Syria is "relative and minor," as "the international market is open to us."

"We can shift to the East because our exports of crude oil are not connected to a certain direction," he said.

The general director of the Syrian General Institution for Oil, Ali Abbas, said Syria had many outlets to go out of the EU sanctions on the sector.

"If the Europeans withdraw their investments, the opportunity would be appropriate for the Chinese companies to purchase assets and investments," he said.

Moreover, Abbas told al-Thawra newspaper that the EU sanctions would negatively affect the European companies.

Syria gets 28 percent of its revenues from the oil trade and sells fuel to France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands; and the French Total company and the British Shell have the largest oil investments in Syria.

The U.S. sanctions have a "very limited" impact on the oil and gas sector, but Abbas meanwhile warned that the impact would be very big financially as the sanctions would "put more pressure on the Syrian Commercial Bank and other U.S. and world banks that have interests with the United States," and this would "cause problematic financial difficulties with regard to remittances or the credits of oil companies operating in the country."

Recent statistics by the Syrian Oil Ministry revealed that Syria produces more than three quarters of its needs of oil derivations. Yet, Syria is still considered a relatively small oil producer, as its contribution to the world output did not exceed 0. 5 percent in 2010.

Oil production peaked in 2001 to reach 581,000 barrels a day. It declined to 375,000 barrels per day in 2009, but improved to 385,000 barrels in 2010 when new fields started operating.

The U.S. sanctions have banned the imports of Syrian oil but did not prohibit foreign companies from working in Syria.

-- bth: so I'm surprised that the EU would take such action as there will be consequences to them. Also note that the article is from the Chinese news service. I would think this move would cause some shift in the economic and political alliances with Syria's elite.

China Sought to Sell Arms to Qaddafi, Documents Suggest - NYTimes.com

China Sought to Sell Arms to Qaddafi, Documents Suggest - NYTimes.com

TRIPOLI, Libya — In the final weeks of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s battle with Libyan rebels, Chinese state companies offered to sell his government large stockpiles of weapons and ammunition in apparent violation of United Nations sanctions, officials of Libya’s transitional government said Sunday. They cited Qaddafi government documents found by a Canadian journalist, which the officials said were authentic.

The documents, including a memo from Libyan security officials detailing a shopping trip to Beijing on July 16, appear to show that state-controlled Chinese arms companies offered to sell $200 million worth of rocket launchers, antitank missiles, portable surface-to-air missiles designed to bring down aircraft, and other weapons and munitions. The documents, in Arabic, were posted on Sunday on the Web site of The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper.

The Chinese companies apparently suggested that the arms be delivered through third countries like Algeria or South Africa. Like China, those countries opposed the United Nations authorization of NATO military action against Qaddafi forces in Libya, but said they supported the arms embargo imposed by an earlier United Nations resolution....


Sunday, September 04, 2011

REVOLUTIONARY WAR RELICS TO GO ON THE BLOCK - Artwire Press Release from ArtfixDaily.com

REVOLUTIONARY WAR RELICS TO GO ON THE BLOCK - Artwire Press Release from ArtfixDaily.com

Dedham, Mass. – Grogan and Company is honored to announce the upcoming sale of an Important Collection of 18th and 19th century Medical Kits, including two amputation kits and a Petit’s Tourniquet owned and used by Dr. John Warren during the Revolutionary War. The featured lot includes a fish skin covered amputation kit given to Dr. Warren by his brother, General Joseph Warren; a wooden amputation kit with a label noting Used during the Revolutionary War by Dr. John Warren; a Petit’s Tourniquet, a 19th century medical kit once belonging to Dr. John Collins Warren, and a 19th century Medical kit once belonging to Dr. Henry Bigelow of Boston. Dr. John Warren’s kits and tourniquet used during the Revolutionary War hail from a time before the importance of sterilization was known to doctors and show signs of heavy use, with the remains of dried layers of blood from the many patriots Dr. Warren operated on still evident over 200 years later. The condition of these kits acts as a time capsule and stark reminder of the pain and suffering our forefathers bore for our freedom.

The current auction record for a Revolutionary War relic is $12.3 million, achieved in 2006 by Sotheby’s for an American flag captured by the British in the 1779 battle at Bedford, New York. The two 18th century medical kits and Petit’s tourniquet, with the two 19th century kits are being sold in one lot with a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-50,000.

Dr. John Warren, founder of the first Boston Medical School and the first Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at Harvard Medical School, was a prominent figure during the Revolutionary War. He tended to the wounded of the Battle of Long Island, the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton. In July 1777, Dr. Warren was made the senior surgeon of the General Hospital in Boston, and later, in 1778, he saw his last field action at the Battle of Quaker Hill in Newport, Rhode Island. Dr. Warren was released from military duty in 1780, at the age of 27. He opened a private medical school in Boston, where his patriot friend, Paul Revere, created a diploma for the first graduates of the school. The engraving Revere created for the diploma depicts Dr. Warren performing an operation with a curved knife, similar to a knife in one of these amputation kits, resting on the table beside him.

A journal entry in the Daily Journal of Dr. John Collins Warren, dated February 19, 1850, in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Warren papers, states that John Collins Warren had lent, as a present, the Petit’s Tourniquet and an amputation kit, both having belonged to his father Dr. John Warren and used during the Revolutionary War, to Dr. Henry Bigelow. Dr. Henry Bigelow, a colleague of John Collins Warren and a close family friend, was known to have owned a large collection of medical kits. What happened to the Bigelow Medical Kit Collection has remained a mystery, until a large collection of Medical kits were discovered in an abandoned storage unit in the early 1990’s. Amongst the large collection of 18th and 19th century medical kits found in the warehouse were the four kits that will be offered at Grogan and Company on October 16th. “The discovery of these kits is a unique opportunity to connect with the roots of American History,” states Michael Grogan, President and Chief Auctioneer of Grogan & Company. “The provenance is impressive and should attract the attention of collector’s who will understand, cherish and protect these national treasures.”...


NATO races to secure violent, porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border - Yahoo! News

NATO races to secure violent, porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border - Yahoo! News

...Around three-quarters of the border police have undergone basic training. Well over half of the 170,000-strong Afghan army and 135,000 police are also trained, though the number of the forces will swell in coming years.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is racing to train Afghanistan's army, police and border guards by the end of 2014, the deadline when all security responsibilities will have been handed over to the Afghans.

"As long as ISAF makes sure weapons are not scarce, we should be all right," new border police graduate Abdul Malik, 30, told Reuters.


-- bth: worth reading in full