Saturday, September 15, 2012

'Nuclear time bomb:' Downed K-27 submarine must be lifted out — RT

'Nuclear time bomb:' Downed K-27 submarine must be lifted out — RT

... 
Russian giant Rosneft is conducting a seismic study of the Kara Sea, with a view to drilling its rich oil reserves. The potential profits could make the multi-million-euro extraction costs seem a fair price to pay for avoiding a nuclear accident.
Unfortunately, even if the danger of the K-27 is defused, others still lurk at the bottom of the sea.
The Russian government has recently released archives showing that there are 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships contaminated ships, and 14 nuclear reactors in the Kara Sea – and most of these objects have been decaying there since the Soviet era
Click to enlarge

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Inside the US consulate in Benghazi: material and human damage laid bare | World news | The Guardian

Inside the US consulate in Benghazi: material and human damage laid bare | World news | The Guardian

... Benghazi has suffered from activities blamed on jihadists for several months, and anger is directed equally at the protagonists and at a government seen as unwilling to stand up to them.
Last April, a UN convoy carrying the envoy Ian Martin was bombed in the city, followed by attacks on the Tunisian consulate and the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Jihadists also wrecked a Commonwealth war graves cemetery in the city, and, though it has been repaired, the vandalised stone cross that formed the cenotaph has not been replaced. In June, the British ambassador, Dominic Asquith, narrowly survived when a rocket missed him and hit the armoured car carrying his security detail, two of whom were wounded.
The Islamist Ansar al-Sharia brigade is blamed by many here for the violence, particularly with the appearance of a video that appears to show two US embassy vehicles plundered from the burning compound being driven into the brigade's Benghazi barracks. Brigade leaders have issued a denial of responsibility but were unwilling to talk to journalists on Thursday.
"They [Sharia] have pros and cons," said Saleh el-Fellah, who works in Benghazi's Friendship Cafe. "They were the ones who provided security [in the revolution]. The cons are all the bad things they have been doing. They take everything to extremes, they are ruining the reputation of Islam."
Sadness is everywhere in the city whose proud boast is that it was the cradle of last year's revolution. A Libyan photographer inside the ruined compound came over to offer an unsolicited apology. "We are not all like this," he insisted. "Libyans do not approve of this."
There is also unease about how America will react. It has not had an ambassador killed since 1979, and President Barack Obama's vow that "justice will be served" has fuelled rumours that US marines now deployed in Tripoli will head to Benghazi and take action.
But many also hope the government will move against the protagonists. "They have to show a fist of steel," said Mohammed el-Kish, a former press officer with the National Transitional Council which handed over power last month to Libya's newly elected congress.
"They have got to rid us of these people."

-bth: so the situation has been unfolding for sometime in Benghazi.

Revealed: inside story of US envoy's assassination - World Politics - World - The Independent

Revealed: inside story of US envoy's assassination - World Politics - World - The Independent

... 
There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa'ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks.
Senator Bill Nelson, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "I am asking my colleagues on the committee to immediately investigate what role al-Qa'ida or its affiliates may have played in the attack and to take appropriate action."
According to security sources the consulate had been given a "health check" in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: "The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs."
Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya's Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. "There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet."...

-bth: worth reading in full.

Taliban Made $400 Million in 2011 from Taxes, Extortion: UN

Taliban Made $400 Million in 2011 from Taxes, Extortion: UN


A United Nations report released Tuesday said that the Taliban raised $400 million in 2011 through taxes, donations, and extortion money from businesses and aid projects in Afghanistan.
The report to the UN Security Council by the sanctions monitoring team said that about $275 million of that income reached the militant group's leadership and the rest was collected, spent or misappropriated at the local level.
"The team understands Taliban funding as follows: revenue raised from taxing the local economy serves primarily to support local operations and is only in a few cases channeled upwards," it said.
It warned against a general perception that the Taliban's main source of income was Afghanistan's opium poppy economy.
The Taliban has also taken hundreds of millions of dollars from Afghanistan's development projects, according to the report.
It said donations are a "major" source of funding, which also go to militia leaders.
Afghanistan has long been the world's leading supplier of opium, accounting for about 90 percent of global output.
The report said Afghan officials estimated that the Taliban earned about $100 million in 2011/2012 from opium, a small amount given the annual value of the drug crop is estimated at $3.6 billion to $4 billion.
The report suggested that the Islamist group's income is growing.
"Since 2006 the Taliban have managed to finance an ever-increasing number of attacks, reflecting a year-on-year increase in income," it said.
Isaf estimated that the Taliban spent between $100 million and $155 million of its income launching attacks in 2011, while the rest maintained the insurgency, according to the UN report.

Mass. native killed in Libya attack | Metro News - WCVB Home

Mass. native killed in Libya attack | Metro News - WCVB Home

 BOSTON —
A Massachusetts native was killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, his mother confirmed Thursday.


Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL, grew up in Winchester.
Four Americans were killed Tuesday in Benghazi when a group of heavily armed militants launched an attack on the consulate complex.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who helped save Benghazi during last year's revolution, and Sean Smith, a foreign information management officer, were killed.
The names of the two other Americans were not released by the State Department, however NewsCenter 5 spoke with Doherty's mother early Thursday.
"He was the most wonderful person," Barbara Doherty said. "We are all in pain and suffering."
Barbara Doherty said she got confirmation Wednesday night that her son was killed at the embassy.
She said that she did not know he was there until she got the word he had been killed.
Glen Doherty's sister, Kate Quigley, described her brother as an "American hero."
"Glen lived his life to the fullest. He was my brother, but if you ask his friends, he was their brother, too," said Glen Doherty's sister Kate Quigley....

Shabaab suicide bombers attack new Somali president, Kenyan foreign minister - Threat Matrix

Shabaab suicide bombers attack new Somali president, Kenyan foreign minister - Threat Matrix


Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia and East Africa, sent three suicide bombers to attack Somalia's new president and Kenya's foreign minister as they were speaking at a hotel in Mogadishu. Although President Hassan Sheik Mohamud and Kenyan Foreign Minister Sam Ongeri were not hurt in the attack, seven people are reported to have been killed. Today' was Mohamud's first full day in office.
African Union forces guarding the Jazeera Palace Hotel opened fire on the Shabaab suicide bombers; two were shot and detonated their vests, another was killed before he could trigger his explosives, according to AMISOM, which also said that one of its soldiers were killed....

bth: for politicians and diplomats the war is becoming personal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

White House Misses Deadline for Sequestration Report | Defense News | defensenews.com

White House Misses Deadline for Sequestration Report | Defense News | defensenews.com

... 
Washington is hungry for details on how the government plans to absorb these cuts, which are required by last year’s Budget Control Act unless Congress and the administration agree on a path to reducing budget deficits by $1.2 trillion through 2021. Congress last month passed the Sequestration Transparency Act mandating the report. But there have been few official details released so far.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said at a conference Sept. 5 that the Pentagon would have to cut 11 percent of its budget next year. And the across-the-board nature of these cuts would be “devastating,” he said, and leave the Defense Department with almost no flexibility.
Sequestration “doesn’t allow us to prioritize,” Kendall said, according to a Pentagon release. “It doesn’t allow us to find the things that are least important to us. It doesn’t allow us to avoid some of the damage that will be done by this kind of a mechanism.”...

The Pentagon Doesn't Trust Its Own Robots | Danger Room | Wired.com

The Pentagon Doesn't Trust Its Own Robots | Danger Room | Wired.com


...The Board doesn’t say this, but Singer suspects some of this distrust is motivated by bureaucratic intransigence at top military levels. “Change can be scary, especially if you are top dog now. So they’ll often tag the flaws or limits of the first generation of a technology as reason not to change at all,” Singer says. “It’s the parallel to what Major General John Herr of the Army Cavalry argued to the U.S. Congress in early 1939: ‘We must not be led to our own detriment to assume that the untried machine can displace the proved and tried horse… Not one more horse will I give up for a tank.’ Substitute ‘manned’ and ‘unmanned’ and you’d capture a few leaders’ sentiments today.”

Clearly, the Board isn’t looking for any robotic system that renders humans irrelevant. It’s looking for automating more systems that the military uses to make humans operate more efficiently. That leads the Board to urge the Pentagon to focus less on hardware and more on software development, and to create science and technology programs that emphasize, among other things, “natural user interfaces and trusted human-system collaboration.” Whether it’s a tablet or a drone that flies off an aircraft carrier, that’s the best way to get a human to trust a machine.

-bth; Worth reading in full.

Analysis: Canada may have cut ties with Iran to avoid retaliation | Reuters

Analysis: Canada may have cut ties with Iran to avoid retaliation | Reuters


DUBAI/OTTAWA, Sept 10 - Canada's surprise decision to sever relations with Iran may well have been triggered by Ottawa's fear of retaliation for stepping up its denunciations of Tehran and a parallel move to list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The break in relations, announced on Friday, has led to speculation that it was a prelude to Israeli or U.S. military action against Iran's nuclear facilities. Canada has categorically denied having any information about planned attacks.
"Canada wants to be able to continue to speak up on the Iranian regime's behavior, and we didn't want our guys in there as hostage," said Andrew MacDougall, chief spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, explaining the decision to close the Tehran embassy and order Iranian diplomats out of Canada.
The Canadian announcement offered a long list of reasons for cutting ties: Iran's nuclear program, hostility toward Israel, Tehran's military assistance to Syria, and what Ottawa said was Iran's support for terrorist groups.
But none of those reasons had surfaced overnight, leaving people asking, why now?...

-bth: indeed. Why now?

Records Missing on Afghan Army Fuel Costs - NYTimes.com

Records Missing on Afghan Army Fuel Costs - NYTimes.com

 KABUL, Afghanistan — The American and NATO training missions in Afghanistan have told United States government investigators that more than four years of financial records covering about $475 million worth of fuel purchases for the Afghan National Army may have been shredded, raising concerns about potential fraud....

Additionally, the agency also says that American and NATO forces have no proper system in place for estimating the Afghan Army’s future fuel requirements, a critical point now because control over the budget on fuel spending is about to be increased and handed over from United States and NATO authority to the Afghan government....

Warning about the potential for theft and waste, the agency recommended that future fuel spending for Afghan forces, proposed to rise to about $555 million in 2014, should be reduced and frozen at 2012 levels, about $306 million annually, until proper methods for accountability and estimating the Afghan Army’s fuel requirements are established. ...

 Last month in another report, the inspector general criticized lack of progress by the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund in building American-financed infrastructure projects. A handful of these projects were meant to build popular support for the Afghan government, but the inspector general found that in most cases no significant construction work had yet begun.

-bth: we are being scammed. Why would the budget need to rise to $555 million if there was no justification for the original $306 million annually?

Iran currency hits record low against dollar - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Iran currency hits record low against dollar - Middle East - Al Jazeera English


Street traders in Iran say the country's currency has struck a new record low against the US dollar, the second consecutive day it has fallen sharply.
They say the rial on Monday dropped some five per cent, with 25,650 rials now needed to purchase one dollar. A day earlier it fell nearly seven per cent.
The currency's slide is a sign Western sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme are biting, although Iran says it has enough reserves and blames nervous markets....

-bth: Iran is negotiating to have Egypt buy its oil.  Egypt is negotiating to get an IMF loan.  The US Embassy in Egypt is stormed on 911.  Coincidental timing for these events?