Saturday, December 10, 2011
Students ordered to school on a Saturday as Russia resorts to 'devious tricks' to limit numbers at anti-Putin rally | Mail Online
Russian authorities today resorted to 'devious tricks' to limit the numbers attending an anti-Vladimir Putin rally which is expected to be the largest ever against the prime minister.
Pupils between 14 and 17 have been ordered to attend school tomorrow for hastily arranged tests during the hours of the protest.
They were warned they risk flunking their courses if they fail to sit at their desks for unprecedented Saturday exams. ...
- bth: I'm sure this didn't help his popularity
... It would be difficult to hide the fact that Zardari was being pushed (illegally) out of office by the army. The army would then be condemned by a wide set of actors, including Western governments, for subverting the constitution. Zardari in exile would then play the role of political martyr, stirring up his currently disenchanted party base and possibly even do really well in the next elections.
Kayani is not one to act brashly. He wouldn’t push Zardari out right now. A more opportune moment would be at the height of a political crisis in which Zardari is the target of intense pressure from multiple political actors, while the army remains silent publicly to maintain the veneer of being apolitical. Such a moment could arise in the coming months as the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, emboldened by the Memogate scandal, presses forward with its campaign to force Zardari’s resignation and the Wikileaks organization releases critical information on Swiss bank accounts of elite Pakistanis and Indians, which most likely includes Zardari.
- bth: I don't think there has been a single civilian government in Pakistan that has not ended with a military coup since Pakistan's inception.
... The year 2011 started with the killings of hundreds of persons including those of high profile personalities; the governor of a province and a federal minister of minority affairs, by the extremist religious groups who infiltrated the law enforcement agencies. The arrest of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, on blasphemy charges from some mosque leaders took religious intolerance and fanaticism to its highest peak. The state played a dubious role to appease religious extremism. It remained a silent spectator in the killings of Salmaan Taseer, former governor of Punjab, and former federal minister of minority affairs Shahbaz Bhatti. The government’s ineptitude to stop religious and sectarian intolerance has strengthened the banned militant religious groups so that they are able to organise and collect funds in the streets and hold huge rallies.
During the year, in Karachi, alone, 1,800 people were killed and political parties from ruling coalition were involved in ethnic target killings. The minister of interior says that during two years 3,938 people were killed in Karachi city. In Balochistan, during the year disappearances by the plain clothed persons continued and more than 100 persons were disappeared. Around 100 missing persons were extra-judicially killed and the family members of the victims claim that these persons were abducted by law enforcement agencies.
Nearly 161 persons have been charged with blasphemy in the country during the year so far. Nine of them were extra-judicially murdered. Murders in the name of karo kari, (killings in the name of honour), are reported daily. Target killings in Karachi and different parts of Balochistan are on the rise. Sectarian killings have been continuing, even without any consideration of Eid days or Ramazan. The government has not introduced any reforms in the judicial criminal justice system. The present criminal justice system is generally based on torture, ill-treatment and corruption, which always provide impunity to the perpetrators. ...
Newt Gingrich received a standing ovation from the audience at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Wednesday for promising to appoint John Bolton to be secretary of state if elected president.
The former House Speaker pledged to appoint Bolton, the controversial former ambassador to the United Nations for President George W. Bush, to the top diplomatic post if he were elected.
Gingrich added that the appointment would be contingent upon Bolton's agreement to help reform the State Department and overhaul the foreign service to replace it with a more "entrepreneurial" organization....
- bth: nuts
Friday, December 09, 2011
... AviationIntel also says Iran recently received from Russia an advanced mobile jamming and intelligence system called "Avtobaza" that could have detected the drone and perhaps jammed its communications links.
"There is no reason why [that] system could not have detected the Sentinel's electronic trail and either jammed it and/or have alerted fighter aircraft and SAM [surface-to-air missile] installations as to its whereabouts," said AviationIntel on its site. "Further, these systems are supposed to be used in direct conjunction with Iran's nuclear development sites."
While the drone could have operated with limited electronic connectivity, making it less visible, AviationIntel indicates, a "more likely scenario" would be one of "actively transmitting live video, detailed radar maps, or electronic intelligence, in real-time," making detection easier by the Russian-made system.
Iranian officials said that this is not the first drone to be shot down in the region. Last January, Hazijadeh told an IRGC publication that Iran had "shot down a large number of their highly advanced spy planes." They were brought down outside Iranian airspace, and Iran "invited Russian experts" to see two of them," and later reproduced them through reverse engineering," reported the Fars News Agency, which is linked to the IRGC....
... How do we know these are wars of choice? It’s simple: because we could elect to leave whenever we wanted or whenever the heat got too high, as is currently the case in Iraq (even if we are leaving behind a fortress embassy the size of the Vatican with a private army of 5,000 rent-a-guns to defend it), and as we are likely to do in Afghanistan sometime in the years after the 2012 presidential election. The choice is ours. The people without a choice are of course the Iraqis and Afghans whom we’ll leave to pick up the pieces....
The result? An already emergent warrior-caste might grow ever more estranged from the 99%, creating tensions and encouraging grievances that quite possibly could be manipulated by that other 1%: the powerbrokers, money-makers, and string-pullers, already so eager to call out the police to bully and arrest occupy movements in numerous cities across this once-great land.
Our Military or Their Military?
As we fight wars of choice in distant lands for ever-shifting goals, what if “our troops” simply continue to grow ever more remote from us? What if they become “their” troops? Is this not the true terror we should be mobilizing as a nation to prevent? The terror of separating our military almost totally from our nation -- and ourselves.
As Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put it recently to Time: “Long term, if the military drifts away from its people in this country, that is a catastrophic outcome we as a country can't tolerate.”
Behold a horrifying fate: a people that allows its wars of choice to compromise the very core of its self-image as a freedom-loving society, while letting itself be estranged from the young men and women who served in the frontlines of these wars.
Here’s an American fact: the 99% are far too remote from our wars of choice and those who fight them. To reclaim the latter, we must end the former. And that’s a war of necessity that has to be fought -- and won.
But by using bistatic radar where the emitter is separated from the receiver(s) by a distance that is comparable to the expected target distance even stealthy flying objects can be detected.
Detection by electronic means is also possible if the drone is receiving and sending information via its satellite link and not just silently following a preprogrammed flightpath. While the signal from the drone to the satellite is send in a highly directional beam a plane equipped with the necessary radios flying above the drone and near the line of sight between the satellite and the drone should be able to locate it. If the drone used its own radar to "look around" Iran the recently delivered Russian Avtobaza "anti-stealth" system will likely have detected it.
The Iranians says it did not shoot the drone down but "downed" it with little damage. I think they may have actually landed it.
This RQ-170 drone type became known as the "Beast of Kandahar" when it first observed there four years ago. Flying U.S. stealth drones in Afghanistan is obvioulsy necessary to escape the Taliban's radars (not). The drone is quite big with an estimated wingspan of 65 feet (20m) to 90 feet (27m) and a takeoff weight of some 10,000 lbs.
When the drone is in the air it is controlled via a satellite link from a remote operating station. But during start and landing the drone is piloted via line-of-sight radio by an operator near the start or landing field. This is necessary because the remote satellite link has a delay of several hundred milliseconds which is just too much latency to correct wind sheer and other problems during takeoff and landing.
What the Iranians seem to have done is to take over the drone's line-of-sight control. This after electronically disrupting its satellite link. Disrupting the satellite link alone would not be enough as the drone would then have followed some preprogrammed action like simply flying back to where it came from. With the line-of-sight control active a satellite link disruption would not lead to a preprogrammed abort.
We can reasonably assume that the Iranians have some station near Kandahar Airport that is listening to all military radio traffic there. They had four years to analyze the radio signaling between the ground operator and such drones. Even if that control signal is encrypted pattern recognition during many flights over four years would have given them enough information to break the code.
Iran will take care to hide the drone well as the U.S. would likely try to destroy it if its location would be known. When the Chinese collected parts of a stealth F-117 stealth plane that was downed in Yugoslavia the U.S. bombed their embassy in Belgrade.
Having acquired an only slightly damaged state of the art stealth drone Iran will be able to copy a lot of its technology as well as to find new measures against such drones. There will also bee a lot of interests from other sides into this technology. We can bet that the military attaches from the Russian, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and other embassies are already queuing up in the Iranian Defense Ministry and ready to make some very lucrative offers....
-- bth: original article is worth reading in full
The unmanned RQ-170 Sentinel is still highly classified, yet since one came down in Iran five days ago, it’s a lot less secret.
The Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) spy drone, which is designed to be virtually invisible to radar and carries advanced communications and surveillance gear, made a 2 1/2 minute television debut yesterday on Iran’s state-owned Press TV channel. U.S. intelligence officials are assessing the apparent loss of its highly classified technology.
The official Iranian Republic News Agency reported that the Foreign Ministry yesterday protested the “violation of Iran’s airspace by a U.S. spy drone on Dec. 4,” the day Iranian forces claimed to have shot down the aircraft, 140 miles inside the Iranian border from Afghanistan.
Several U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the drone program is classified, said the greatest concern is that access to the aircraft could give Russian or Chinese scientists insight into its flight controls, communications gear, video equipment and any self-destruct or return-to-base mechanisms.
In addition, they said, the remains of the RQ-170 could help a technologically sophisticated military or science establishment develop Infrared Surveillance and Targeting (IRST) technology that under some conditions are capable of detecting stealth aircraft such as drones and the new Lockheed Martin F- 35s.
The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment yesterday on whether the aircraft the Iranians displayed is real. A U.S. defense official, however, said the plane appears to be an actual RQ-170, though he said U.S. experts were still examining the video.
Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the RQ-170 program said that some details including the seams on the drone’s fuselage, its access ports and its unusual air intake, appear to confirm that it’s genuine.
The aircraft shown on Iranian TV -- or at least its forward and upper surfaces -- appeared to be in good condition for a high-altitude plane that the Iranians initially said they had shot down.
The most frightening prospect raised by what appears to be a largely intact Sentinel is that the Iranians’ second claim about how they brought it down -- by hacking into its controls and landing it themselves -- might be true, said a U.S. intelligence official, who spoke only on the basis of anonymity because the RQ-170 is part of a Secret Compartmented Intelligence (SCI) program, a classification higher than Top Secret.
The official said the possibility that the Iranians or someone else hacked into the drone’s satellite communications is doubly alarming because it would mean that Iranian or other cyber-warfare officers were able to disable the Sentinel’s automatic self-destruct, holding pattern and return-to-base mechanisms. Those are intended to prevent the plane’s secret flight control, optical, radar, surveillance and communications technology from falling into the wrong hands if its controllers at Creech Lake Air Force Base or the Tonopah Test Range, both in Nevada, lose contact with it.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration didn’t seriously consider bombing the wreckage or sending special operations forces into Iran to destroy or retrieve it because either would be an act of war, the two officials said.
The officials said that, depending on the real condition of the wreckage, Chinese or Russian access to the drone is a much greater concern than a possible Iranian effort to reverse- engineer the RQ-170, which they said is unlikely given the drone’s special coatings and other materials. ...
-- bth: every reason to think that there would be a link to the Russian hacking job that occurred in Nevada on the drones early this fall, plus possible espionage and an Iranian electronics warfare hit with Russian help(truck for that purpose was delivered to them from Russia last month) would eventually work. It is notable that the lower portion of the drone was not shown as the electronics and optics would be there and may have been destroyed, hopefully taking out the optics and software. The drone war just ratcheted up a notch. Expect more.
Scituate’s Kelley family named Army National Guard Family of the Year - Scituate, Massachusetts - Scituate Mariner
The Kelley family lost their son and brother, Army National Guard Sgt. Michael Kelley, on June 8, 2005. Kelley was killed during a rocket attack on an American base in Shkin, Afghanistan.
Kelley was a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 101st Field Artillery unit based in Rehoboth and his death was the first combat related fatality in the war on terror for the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
The news was heart breaking to the family. After his death, the Kelleys came to find the best way for them to heal was to carry on their son’s mission, and with it, his memory.
Joe and Karen, as well as their daughter, Colleen Kelley are involved in many efforts associated with Michael’s unit, but also the Army National Guard on a wider scale.
For their efforts, they were awarded the Massachusetts Army National Guard Family of the Year Award earlier this year. They went on to be named the Army National Guard Family of the Year Award for which families throughout the U.S. were nominated. The family also received the Civilian Award for Excellence, a personal award given by General CraigR.McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Receiving the award along with her mother and father was an honor, but Colleen admitted she volunteers her time to soldiers and their families for other reasons.
“It’s nice to know all our work isn’t going unnoticed, but at same time I don’t know how to take it. I’m not doing it for recognition, I’m doing because I love to do it,” Colleen said. “Compared to what my brother did and other soldiers who have lost their lives, or others who come back and have lost a year out of their child’s life, compared to what they give up to fight for our freedom is nothing compared to what I do.”
The Kelley family’s work is focused on the families of soldiers at war. In the Army National Guard, family members do not have the same support network that families have in the Army, Joe said. Families in the Army are housed on bases, where they have constant interaction with other families with loved ones overseas. Being on a base, they can be more informed and have more opportunities for support and services. However, in the Army National Guard, and Michael’s unit in particular, families are spread throughout New England....
- bth: Well well done Kelley Family. Hope to see you tonight or mid-month at the Pops. Again, well done.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Exports to the European Union fell 9% in October versus a year ago, and exports to the US fell 5%.
The country's total exports, however, were still up 15.9%, thanks in part to booming demand from Latin America.
"Next year, I think that we will face severe challenges in our exports and imports," said Foreign Trade Director Wang Shouwen. "There won't be fundamental improvement in Europe or the United States, and costs at home will stay as high as this year, so the foreign trade situation will be severe next year."
"However, some developing and emerging economies are enjoying sound economic performances, so we will attach more importance to exports to these countries."
UK: Citibank announced it will dismiss hundreds of investment bankers in London owing to the European economic slowdown.
Comment: The two anecdotes above are indicators that a large financial crisis is evolving in Europe, several years behind the US crisis, but with no signs of improvement. A major challenge for investors and investment managers is to bridge the gap between human behavioral indicators of financial crisis and daily trading data. The foregoing reports are leading behavioral indicators of financial crisis in Europe.
The Chinese announcement is the clearest statement to date by any national leadership that it has made basic investment decisions based on expectations of a financial crisis in Europe lasting through the next year at least. Europe can't pay for cheap Chinese imports. That is ominous.
Air Force dumped ashes of more troops’ remains in Va. landfill than acknowledged - The Washington Post
The Air Force dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago, records show.
The landfill dumping was concealed from families who had authorized the military to dispose of the remains in a dignified and respectful manner, Air Force officials said. There are no plans, they said, to alert those families now....
-bth: treated as medical waste, incinerated through a contractor that also did animals and then dumped in a Prince George Co. landfill. Where did treatment with dignity and honor come into play here? What is wrong with these sorry mother fuckers that they would do something like this?
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
... Most of the attention has focused on the 363-page study’s provocative conclusion — that China’s nuclear arsenal could be many times larger than the well-established estimates of arms-control experts....
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia may consider acquiring nuclear weapons to match regional rivals Israel and Iran, its former intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal said on Monday.
“Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran, therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons,” Faisal told a security forum in Riyadh.
“A (nuclear) disaster befalling one of us would affect us all,” said Faisal. Israel is widely held to possess hundreds of nuclear missiles, which it neither confirms nor denies, while the West accuses Iran of seeking an atomic bomb, a charge the Islamic republic rejects.
Riyadh, which has repeatedly voiced fears about the nuclear threat posed by Iran and denounced Israel’s atomic capacity, has stepped up efforts to develop its own nuclear power for “peaceful use.” Abdul Ghani Malibari, coordinator at the Saudi civil nuclear agency, said in June that Riyadh plans to build 16 civilian nuclear reactors in the next two decades at a cost of 300 billion riyals ($80 billion). He said the kingdom would launch an international invitation to tender for the reactors to be used in power generation and desalination in the desert kingdom. afp
- bth: one always wonders about the timing of such statements. With US funds to Pakistan in question going forward, I wonder if Pakistan has offered Saudi Arabia a financial deal for nuclear weapons it cannot refuse?
It also costs a lot of money—up to $400 a gallon, by military estimates.
But the Pentagon is stuck with the expense for the foreseeable future, especially given the recent deterioration in U.S.-Pakistani relations....
The sheer volume of air-dropped cargo is swiftly rising. In 2005, Air Force planes dropped around two million pounds of supplies to troops in Afghanistan. Last year, they delivered around 60 million pounds by airdrop. By the end of this year, officials say, they expect to drop around 90 million pounds of food, water, ammunition and fuel to bases in the country.
Air Force Gen. Raymond Johns, who heads the service's Air Mobility Command, said the December 2009 surge in U.S. troops has made resupply more challenging, particularly because of the threat of roadside bombs.
"They [troops] are in places where getting them their supplies is very risky to go by land conveyance," he said. "So they've become more and more dependent on our airdrop."...
- bth: the enemy controls our supply lines. Has a war ever been won when this is the case?
Power Plays in Afghanistan: Laying the Groundwork for Civil War - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
... In the meantime, says Nashir, everyone is preparing for year zero after the international forces withdraw in 2014. "When the foreigners leave, the civil war begins," he says. The harbingers of that civil war could be felt in the south years ago, when commanders like Matiullah Khan in Uruzgan and Abdul Raziq in Kandahar established their own fiefdoms, with the help of the Americans and the millions they were paid to escort their convoys....
The international forces intend to hand over the security of the Afghan state to the Afghans in two years' time. But the state itself has long been disintegrating from within. "Loyalty," says Thomas Ruttig, the co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, is what is missing at the core. Ruttig helped the United Nations organize the loya jirga in 2002 at which then US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ensured that the warlords from the civil war were able to gain power once again -- with Karzai in tow, a man who was considered a puppet by all sides. "What we are now seeing," explains Ruttig, "is an uncontrolled proliferation of competing militias, as well as oversized armed forces whose loyalties tend to lie with their former commanders rather than the Kabul government -- and with nothing that could hold them together, especially not after a withdrawal of the Western troops. This is a recipe for civil war."
The Taliban may never have understood very much about the rest of the world. But they understand Afghanistan. They also know that it isn't about who wins first -- but about who is left in the end.
-bth: the original article from Der Spiegel is worth reading in full
Monday, December 05, 2011
Die Welt cited sources close to the negotiations as saying the euro zone central banks could pay at least 100 billion euros ($134.2 billion) into a special fund that could be used for programs for nations struggling to control their debts.
"Also other central banks, for example the U.S. Federal Reserve, are apparently prepared to finance a part of the costs," the paper said in an advance copy of an article to appear on Monday.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may discuss the idea in the coming weeks when he visits Europe, the paper said....
- bth: so basically they want the USA via the Fed to the IMF to bail out the EU. Why in hell are we doing this? Didn't the US taxpayer stand up and guarantee debts for Fannie and Freddie that we didn't have to so the Russians and the Chinese wouldn't lose a penny while the US taxpayer got hosed? Now the EU too? Nuts
The latest United Nations figures estimate that the women’s prison population has risen to 600, up from 380 two years ago.
A further 114 girls aged 12 to 18 are locked up, of which 80 per cent are serving sentences for either running away from home or extramarital sex, an Afghan justice official said.
The situation is predicted to get worse after a recent Supreme Court ruling that a woman who flees her home and goes anywhere other than the police or a close relative should be locked up as a precaution against illicit sex and prostitution. ...
- bth: And this is the 'liberal' Afghan government.
The women are also accused of taking part in demonstrations against the dismantling of illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank, during which Israeli army equipment was damaged, a police spokeswoman told AFP.
The women have not yet been charged, but will appear before a court later on Sunday where police will request their detention be extended, she added.
The Palestinians accuse Israel of rarely acting against Israelis accused of destroying Palestinian property, including hundreds of olive trees throughout the West Bank.
Right-wing Israeli activists have been accused of a variety of acts against Palestinians and their property, including attacking mosques in the West Bank.
The Israeli government has condemned such attacks, but Palestinian officials say Israeli police are slow to act in response.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
In over a decade of war in Afghanistan, about half of all Americans
killed in action and two thirds of those wounded have done so in 2010
and 2011, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
At the time the report
was published on November 16, 1,723 Americans had died for the war in
Afghanistan and 14,837 had been wounded. In just the past two years, 890
have been killed and 10,060 have been wounded.
bth: the Afghan supply shake down will continue. See this video from Kyrgyzstan. Also note the US uniforms for sale in the local bazaar.
KHARAN: A US plane has landed at the Shamsi airbase to bring back American officials deployed there, Geo News reported.
Security has been heightened around the base.
Pakistan has ordered American personnel to leave the Shamsi air base, widely understood to have been a hub for a covert CIA drone after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a Nato attack.