Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pakistan frontier force facing arms crunch reveals force's chief Abdul Majeed Khan Marwat - India Express

Pakistan frontier force facing arms crunch reveals force's chief Abdul Majeed Khan Marwat - Indian Express

Pakistan's 26,000-strong Frontier Constabulary, that plays a critical role in maintaining security in the restive northwestern border areas, has only 8,000 Kalashnikovs, 500 bullet proof vests and 500 helmets in its arsenal, a media report said.

The deficiency of arms and ammunition that is causing immense difficulties for the personnel in combating terrorism and safeguarding the border areas, was revealed by the force's chief Abdul Majeed Khan Marwat.

In an interview aired on Geo TV, Marwat, FC Commandant, criticised the current dearth of arms and ammunition and said

it would diminish the chances of effective defence in border areas and waging a war against terrorism.

The Frontier Constabulary is different from the Frontier Corps that is under the command of the military.

As per statistics, there are only 8,000 Kalashnikovs, 500 bullet proof vests and 500 helmets in its arms depot for 26,000 Frontier Constabulary personnel while 25 platoons are devoid of any weapons, Geo TV reported....

Russia to maintain stability in Afghanistan: Medvedev

Russia to maintain stability in Afghanistan: Medvedev - Xinhua | English.news.cn

TASHKENT, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that his country is ready to work with other member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to guard peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Medvedev made the remarks at the 12th SCO Prime Ministers' meeting held Friday in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent.

Restoring stability in Afghanistan holds a special position in the schedule of SCO, he said, adding that terrorism, narcotic smuggling and organized crimes pose substantial threat to the SCO member states.

He called on all members states to make efforts to help Afghanistan repair its economy and society, for which Russia will provide all-round assistance.

Medvedev also said that the international situation is not quiet, but "some achievements were made." He termed the agreements reached on Iran's nuclear program as a positive step.

He said that Russia will also work to normalize the situation in Syria and bring down the threat of military conflicts.

The SCO, founded in the Chinese city of Shanghai in 2001, aimed to guard regional security while improving cooperation. It has six members states, namely China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and five observer states and three dialogue partners.

In God we trust, maybe, but not each other

My Way News - In God we trust, maybe, but not each other

WASHINGTON (AP) - You can take our word for it. Americans don't trust each other anymore.

We're not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy - trust in the other fellow - has been quietly draining away.

These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say "you can't be too careful" in dealing with people....

Friday, November 29, 2013

Iran Announces Development of Ballistic Missile Technology - Freebeacon

Iran Announces Development of Ballistic Missile Technology | Washington Free Beacon

A top Iranian military leader announced late Tuesday that Iran has developed “indigenous” ballistic missile technology, which could eventually allow it to fire a nuclear payload over great distances.

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the lieutenant commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), made the critical weapons announcement just days after Iran and the West signed a deal aimed at curbing the country’s nuclear activities.

Salami claimed that “Iran is among the only three world countries enjoying an indigenous ballistic missile technology,” according to the state-run Fars News Agency.

“Many countries may have access to cruise missiles technology, but when it comes to ballistic missiles, I am confident that only the U.S. and the [former] Soviet Union could master this technology, and now we can announce that we own this technology as well,” Salami told Fars.

The IRGC leader said that Iran is quickly developing advanced military know-how....

-bth: Salami is a very dangeous man and should be taken seriously.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

U.S. Idle as Europeans and Russia Struggle for Eastern Europe - USNWR Squitieri

U.S. Idle as Europeans and Russia Struggle for Eastern Europe - World Report (usnews.com)

...Now, crucially, Slovakia and other democratic nations of Central Europe are leading efforts to better integrate the nations of Europe while pushing democracy and free enterprise into areas where neither has gone before – the borders of Russia – as the U.S. seemingly sits on the sidelines.

A possible watershed moment in that effort may come this week.

On November 28 and 29, leaders of the Eastern Partnership countries will meet in Vilnius, Lithuania, for a summit that is to include the signing of a new agreements with three nations Russia sees as in its sphere of influence. It is a test to see if European governments can adopt a more strategic approach to the Eastern neighborhood and determine how to regain the initiative from Russia.

"The Eastern Partnership is, ultimately ... a step toward the longstanding vision of a more integrated economic space, stretching from Lisbon to Donetsk animated by market-oriented reforms, growing prosperity and deepening democracy," Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary  in the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs told the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month. "We and the EU believe that investing in the Eastern Partnership is thus in everyone's long-term interest."

Russia, of course, feels differently.

Moscow has threatened trade sanctions, energy supply interruptions, and security reprisals against states choosing to sign agreements with the EU. Their strategy is to have partnership nations jettison their EU agreements or make it very painful for them to pursue. Armenia's decision to join the Russian-led Customs Union instead of inking its EU agreement was Russia's first success; its reliance on Russia for security and energy left them with few options.

Next up: Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Summit leaders hope to sign the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine as well as initial agreements with Georgia and Moldova. Ukraine will need to start the process of implementation immediately, while Moldova and Georgia – not due to complete signing until the autumn of 2014 – will face intense pressure as Russia works to break their resolve....

-bth: an article worth reading in full.

Atlantic Crossing - a robot's daring mission - Dena Seidel

Monday, November 25, 2013

Afghanistan 'plans to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery' - UK Telegraph

Afghanistan 'plans to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery' - Telegraph

Afghanistan is planning to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery 12 years after the Taliban was ousted from power, according to a new draft penal code.

The move has shocked human rights campaigners and will dismay donors who have poured billions of pounds into the country for reconstruction.

It will be viewed as another backwards step at the end of a year that has seen women’s rights undermined, with a slew of legislation and murders of prominent women.

Human Rights Watch called for international donors to withhold funding if the government goes ahead with the plan.

“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW....

-bth: only a few years ago the PR machine was making Karzai out to be another George Washington.  ... It is hard to imagine a government of any kind sanctioning public stoning of women in the 21st century.