DTN News: To Our Readers & Viewers ~ Wishing You, A Very Happy New Year 2010 & Best Wishes From DTN News Defense-Technology News*Source: DTN News
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - December 30, 2009: New Year's Day, or January 1, is the first day of the year and is an occasion that witnesses the biggest annual celebration across all countries of the world. It is the time when we ring out the old year and welcome the present year with open arms, with eyes filled with new dreams and hearts replete with new expectations.Blogs have become an important source of information with a blog being created about every second, there are bound to be many more good ones. The bottom line is that they all are produced by passionate people who have a wealth of information about their corner of the tech world.
There are a lot of reasons people find particular blogs worthy of their time. Some are valued solely for their aggregation of pertinent news, while others have formed a devoted following based on the robust and educated comments of their readers. Still others have become popular because of their humor or for the biting tone of their writers' opinions.
DTN News: Wishing Our Readers & Viewers a fabulous 2010 with full of great achievements and experiences. A meaningful chapter waiting to be written HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!
DTN News: Iran TODAY December 30, 2009 ~ Tens Of Thousands At Pro-Government Rallies In Tehran*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - December 30, 2009:Tens of thousands of government supporters rallied in cities across Iran on Wednesday swearing allegiance to the clerical establishment and accusing opposition leaders of causing unrest in the Islamic state.
Iran's police chief on Wednesday warned supporters of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi only to expect harsh treatment if they joined illegal anti-government rallies, three days after eight protesters were killed in demonstrations. Pro-government protester waving a poster of Shiite radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, during a demonstration Wednesday Dec. 30, 2009, through the streets of Tehran, Iran. The large crowd are seen waving various banners and flags during the pro-government demonstration.
Tens of thousands took part in the government-organized demonstrations, which state television broadcast live, chanting slogans against the opposition leaders Mousavi and moderate defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi.
"You should repent ... otherwise the system will confront you as a 'mohareb' (enemy of God)," cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda told reformist leaders at a Tehran rally, state TV reported. Under Iran's Islamic sharia law the sentence for a mohareb is death.
In Tehran, crowds burned American and British flags.
There was no word about any opposition supporters on the streets on Wednesday, despite talk of demonstrations on reformist websites. Foreign media are restricted from moving around to report on such protests which are illegal.
In Iran's bloodiest unrest since the aftermath of the disputed June 12 presidential election, eight people were killed on Sunday and at least 20 pro-reform figures, including three senior advisers to Mousavi were arrested.
Raising the stakes further in the crisis, a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that opposition leaders were "enemies of God."
Television footage of the rallies in various cities showed people chanting "Mousavi is responsible for bloodshed ... We support our Supreme Leader." Some of them carried pictures of Khamenei. Similar rallies took place on Tuesday.
CLASHES AT ASHURA RITUAL
Since the deadly weekend clashes during the Shi'ite Muslim religious ritual of Ashura, political turmoil has entered a new phase in Iran with the clerical establishment piling pressure on the reform movement to end street protests.
"People want the leaders of sedition to be punished. We will not remain silent over insulting the religion," one speaker told a Tehran rally, state TV reported.
Oil prices briefly rose above $79 a barrel to a fresh five-week high on Tuesday, supported by expectations of colder U.S. weather and concerns over political unrest in Iran.
Iran's police chief said on Wednesday "there was no more room for tolerance over participants in illegal rallies."
"Those who participate in illegal rallies will be confronted more harshly and the judiciary will confront them more decisively," said Esmail Ahmadi-Moqadam, the official IRNA news agency reported. "Some of Sunday's protesters are ... considered as mohareb and will be confronted firmly."
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, locked in a row with the West over Iran's nuclear program, said that the opposition rallies on the religious ritual of Ashura was a foreign-backed "nauseating masquerade."
Pro-government demonstrators also chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Britain," state TV reported. Iran has accused foreign powers of meddling in its affairs, which has provoked robust denials.
When the June poll returned hardline Ahmadinejad to power, his reformist opponents cried foul and thousands of Iranians took to the streets in the biggest anti-government unrest in the 30-year history of the Islamic Republic.
Authorities deny vote-rigging but the protests were showing no sign of subsiding six months after the election and despite a determined crackdown on protesters and opposition leaders.
The elite Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday accused the foreign media of conspiring with the opposition to harm Iran.
Hardliners who took to the streets on Tuesday also called for the punishment of opposition leaders. The opposition website Jaras said students at two Tehran universities clashed with hardline Basij militia.
"We have asked the judiciary to arrest the leaders of this sedition," said hardline MP Hasan Norouzi, without saying just how many lawmakers made the demand. "Karoubi, Mousavi and all those who ignite tension should be arrested and tried."
Analysts say the arrest of senior opposition leaders would increase tensions in the country. The opposition says more than 900 protesters were arrested on Sunday but police said 500 "rioters" were arrested, with 300 still in detention.
Police said the "suspicious" deaths on Sunday were under investigation, denying opposition claims that the people were killed by police.
Iran's Supreme National Security Council confirmed eight deaths, but Tehran's prosecutor dropped the number to seven.
The semi-official Fars news agency said Mousavi's nephew, who was killed in the bloodshed, was buried on Wednesday at Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery.
DTN News: China May Build Middle East Naval Base*China's rapidly-expanding navy is considering building its first foreign naval base, according to a senior admiral.
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By Malcolm Moore
(NSI News Source Info) SHANGHAI, China - December 30, 2009: In a sign of the growing confidence of the Chinese military, Admiral Yin Zhuo said that the country may set up a base in the Gulf of Aden in order to support missions against Somali pirates.
Since the end of last year, China has sent four flotillas to the Middle East in order to take part in anti-piracy operations together with US, European, Indian and Russian warships. (Image/photo: Members of the Chinese navy honour guard marching during a welcoming ceremony). The latest mission, which departed from China in October, involved two missile frigates.
Mr Yin said a permanent base in the region would help supply Chinese ships. "We are not saying we need our navy everywhere in order to fulfil our international commitments," he said, cautiously. "We are saying to fulfil our international commitments, we need to strengthen our supply capacity."
His words, which came just a few days after China rescued 25 sailors from Somali pirates, were posted in an interview on the Defence ministry website. China is reported to have paid a USD4 million (Pounds2.5 million) ransom to free the De Xin Hai, a coal carrier.
Mr Yin, who is a senior researcher at the navy's Equipment Research centre, pointed out that the first Chinese ships in the Gulf of Aden spent 124 days at sea without docking, a logistical challenge.
However, Chinese ships have since been permitted to dock at a French base.
"If China establishes a similar long-term supply base, I believe that the nations in the region and the other countries involved with the (anti-pirate) escorts would understand," he said. "I think a permanent, stable base would be good for our operations."
Yin added he was aware that Chinese naval ships in the waters near the Gulf have aroused suspicions, but believed other nations understood Beijing's intention was to counter pirates. As the world's largest importer of oil, China is believed to want to establish bases throughout the Indian Ocean and South China Sea to protect its tankers.
DTN News: Boeing-Built DIRECTV 12 Satellite Delivers 1st Signals From Space
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) EL SEGUNDO, Calif., - December 30, 2009: Boeing [NYSE: BA] has received the first on-orbit signals from DIRECTV 12 nine hours after launch, indicating that the satellite is healthy and operating normally. DIRECTV 12 is a Boeing 702 commercial satellite that will provide consumer television programming to millions of U.S. households.DIRECTV 12 lifted off on an International Launch Services Proton Breeze M vehicle on Dec. 28 at 4:22 p.m. Pacific time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Controllers at the ground station in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa, reported spacecraft acquisition at 1:38 a.m. Pacific time today.
"Yesterday's launch marks the 10th satellite Boeing has built and launched for DIRECTV, as well as the 22nd Boeing 702 satellite to fly in space," said Craig Cooning, Boeing vice president and general manager of Space and Intelligence Systems. "We are pleased that DIRECTV 12 is performing as planned and will continue to support the satellite through on-orbit testing in the coming months. From design and integration to launch and signal acquisition, our team has ensured that DIRECTV's new 702 will help them continue to deliver high-definition (HD) digital programming while maintaining excellent quality service."
Handover of DIRECTV 12 is scheduled for early 2010. Together with DIRECTV 10 and 11, the new satellite will help significantly expand DIRECTV's HDTV broadcasting to consumers across the contiguous United States, Hawaii and Alaska.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide
DTN News: Airlines News TODAY December 30, 2009 ~ MAS Sign Agreement With Airbus For 15 Aircraft
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - December 30, 2009: Malaysia Airlines and Airbus announced last week the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for an order of 15 A330-300s and purchase options for another 10.
The aircraft, costing a total of USD5 billion at list prices, will be delivered from 2011 to 2016.
MAS said the new aircraft would serve the growing markets of South Asia, China, North Asia, Australia and Middle East.
"The A330 will complement our incoming fleet of 6 A380 and 35 B737-800” said MAS CEO Tengku Dato’ Azmil Zahruddin.
“The new fleet will create a strong platform for us to profitably grow – the A380 will serve key long haul destinations such as London and Sydney, the A330 for medium haul markets while the B737-800 will be used to strengthen our domestic and regional routes.
Zahruddin said that the airline planned to “transform from a 100% leased fleet to owning at least a third of the aircraft” in its core fleet.
He added the airline planned to fund its aircraft purchases through a combination of a proposed rights issue and borrowings. MAS said it expects to gain annual savings of RM300 million when the 15 A330 aircraft are delivered.
DTN News: Iran TODAY December 29, 2009 ~ Ali Larijani Raps US, UK Over Tehran Protests*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - December 29, 2009: Iran's parliament speaker condemns US and British officials for their reactions to disturbances in Tehran, saying that they orchestrated the "sacrilegious" events. In Europe protester supporting the Iranian opposition holds a sign depicting Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during demonstrations in front of the Iranian embassies in Paris, Brussels and Berlin December 28, 2009.
Addressing the parliament on Tuesday, Ali Larijani said that Iran was not surprised about the stance that Washington and London had taken towards the anti-government protests, which were held during Sunday's Shia Muslim ceremonies of Ashura.
According to Tehran chief prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, seven people were killed in the clashes that broke out between security forces and demonstrators in Tehran on Sunday. The Tehran police headquarters said that the police forces neither used violence nor fired a single bullet on Sunday.
"US and British officials' disgraceful comments about the sacrilegious events of Ashura are so disgustingly vivid that they clarify where this movement stands when it comes to destroying religious and Revolutionary values," Ali Larijani said. "Israel's restlessness and its covert efforts to secure more Western aide for these sacrilegious movements has worsened the political situation. The anxiety of royal Wahhabi media has also caused an especially big scandal," he added.
Larijani also singled out US President Barack Obama's defense of Sunday's anti-government protests and said that his reactions was a "gift from God" that would prevent any "naive interpretations" about a possible shift in US policy. "Washington's behavior during the past few months was nothing but an opportunist attempt to harm the national interest of Muslim Iranians.
"That goes for its childish interference in our internal affairs and its duplicitous gestures on the nuclear issue," he said. After the Sunday protests, Obama condemned what he called “Iran's crackdown on protesters” and called for the release of the people who were detained.
“We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran,” Obama said on Monday in Hawaii, where he is on vacation. Obama said that the US will support protesters during the “extraordinary events.” On Monday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also hailed what he called the “great courage” of those who took part in the illegal protests.
Iran's Foreign Ministry has vowed to summon the British Ambassador to Tehran, Simon Lawrence Gass, in reaction to Miliband's remarks.
DTN News: Indian Air Force Su-30MKI Back In Full Swing And Formation*Source: DTN News / Defense Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - December 29, 2009: Last month November, 2009 an IAF Su-30MKI fighter jet crashed near Jaisalmer in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. As a result the entire fleet of Su-30MKIs was grounded while the cause of the problem was investigated. According to official reports, IAF Su-30MKIs an air superiority fighter which can also act as a multirole, strike fighter jets are back in full swing and formation.
The Indian Air Force IAF has close to 120 of the Su-30MKI fighters in its inventory and has placed an order for 230 aircraft. Out of this, the majority of 140 fighters would be manufactured or assembled by HAL. The earlier batch of aircraft that have been in operation for the past few years were imported from Russia.
The Su-30MKIs aircrafts are primarily for air defence and air superiority purposes. However, most of them have significant strike and close air support capabilities. The MKI variant features several improvements over the basic K and MK variants and is classified as a 4.5 generation fighter. Due to similar features and components, the MKI variant is often considered to be a customized Indian variant of the Sukhoi Su-35.
The Su-30MKI is the IAF's prime air superiority fighter. The Su-30K variant was first acquired in 1996. That year, the IAF signed a US$1.6 billion contract with Russia for the supply of 50 Su-30MKIs and the technology transfer and license to manufacture 140 Su-30MKIs by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The two-seat, multi-role fighter has a maximum speed of 2500 km/h (Mach 2.35) and a service ceiling of 20,000 meters. With one mid-air refueling, it can travel as far as 8000 km, making it a suitable platform to deliver strategic weapons. In 2007, the IAF spent US$700 million to upgrade its remaining 10 Su-30Ks and 8 SU-30MKs to MKI Std variant and signed a contract for the supply of 40 additional MKIs with Russia. The Su-30MKIs total ordered (50+140+40) + (Additional 50 still to be ordered, as per Force India/ no official confirmation so far) will be procured/produced/assembled by 2015-2016 bringing the total number to 280. All 50 of the first batch delivered (1 crashed)/ 52 of the 140 HAL built delivered so far (1 crashed)(balance 88 at the rate of 14 per year by HAL ) and, 3 of the 40 ordered delivered so far(balance 37 by 2012-13).
The Indian Air Force is going to augment its attack capability in near future by getting its own version of BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile that will be fitted on Sukhoi 30-MKI.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which has already developed the land and sea version of the BrahMos in partnership with Russia s NPO Mashinostroeyenia, is working on the air version of the supersonic cruise missile for the Air Force.
DTN News: Japan ~ Moving U.S. Base To Guam 'Unreasonable'
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - December 29, 2009: Relocating a contentious U.S. airbase from southern Japan to Guam is "unreasonable" from the standpoint of national security, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told a radio program.
Hatoyama said it would not be practical to shift the whole base, which has been the subject of friction between Tokyo and Washington, from Okinawa to the U.S.-controlled Pacific Ocean territory.
"Thinking realistically, it would be unreasonable to relocate all its functions to Guam from the standpoint of deterrence," Hatoyama told a Nippon Radio program Dec. 26.
The U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station currently sits in a crowded urban area of tropical Okinawa island. Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2006 to move it out to a coastal region, away from the population, many of whom resent its presence.
The agreement was part of a broader realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and includes the redeployment of around 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to the U.S. territory of Guam.
Soon after coming to power, Hatoyama's centre-left government announced a review of the agreement, provoking irritation in Washington.
However, Hatoyama appeared to soft pedal the review in his weekend comments to the broadcaster.
"It's been decided that 8,000 Marines and their families are to be moved to Guam. I expressed my idea that moving more than (8,000) is very difficult from the viewpoint of deterrence," Hatoyama said Dec. 27 before leaving for India, when asked by reporters about his Dec. 26 comments.
Since its defeat in World War II, officially pacifist Japan has relied on a massive U.S. military presence to guarantee its security, initially as an occupier and later as an ally.
But the dispute over Futenma has raised fears among some Japanese that this alliance might cool, at a time when a rising China is making its presence felt across Asia.
Hatoyama's comments drew the ire of the Socialists in his ruling coalition, who favor shifting the base out of the country and have threatened to leave the coalition over the base row.
"The Socialist Party regards the relocation to Guam as the best plan. We will pursue this possibility with our utmost efforts," said Mizuho Fukushima, head of the Socialists.
Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) needs votes from Socialists and another junior coalition partner for a majority in the upper house of parliament.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano is due Dec. 28 to chair a meeting with coalition partners on the base issue.
Referring to the Dec. 28 meeting, Hatoyama said "finding a new location for the Futenma base is important, but naturally, discussing deterrence is inevitable."
Hatoyama's government took power in Japan in August after half a century of almost continuous conservative rule, pledging to review past agreements on the U.S. military presence and to deal with Washington on a more "equal" basis.
The United States, which defeated Japan in World War II and then occupied the country, now has 47,000 troops stationed there, more than half of them on Okinawa, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Touching on possible amendments to the U.S.-imposed pacifist constitution for the first time since taking office, Hatoyama said: "I bear in my mind a desire to draft a constitution which serves the country in the best possible manner."
But he added his plan "is not necessarily about Article Nine" which says Japan renounces the use of military force in settling international disputes. "I want to make amendments which serve local autonomy by reversing the positions of the central government and local governments."
Hatoyama's government has pledged to transfer more authority to local government from powerful bureaucrats in the central government.
DTN News: Financial News TODAY December 29, 2009 ~ Air Terrorism Attempt Reveals Bigger 'System' Failure*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By Eugene Robinson
(NSI News Source Info) - December 29, 2009: Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano's initial assessment of the Christmas Day airliner attack -- that "the system worked" -- doesn't quite match the absurdity of "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." But only because she quickly took it back. Passengers go through a security checkpoint at Washington's Reagan National Airport on Saturday. (Sarah L. Voisin/the Washington Post)
A 'system' dangerously off course; A system that allows a man identified to U.S. officials as a potential threat -- by his own concerned father -- to board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with powerful explosives sewn into his underwear? That lets this man detonate his bomb as the plane prepares to land, igniting a potentially catastrophic fire? That depends on a young, athletic passenger to be seated nearby? That counts on this accidental hero to react quickly enough to thwart the terrorist's plans?
If that's how the system works, we need a new system.
Don't misunderstand. I'm not blaming the Obama administration for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's alleged terrorist attack, and it would be reprehensible for anyone to try to use the incident to score political points. The White House is guilty only of defensiveness in not immediately recognizing the obvious: We have a problem. Actually, we have two problems.
The first is that the incident reveals serious deficiencies in the "system" that Napolitano and others were so quick to defend. At this point, no one can doubt that civilian aviation remains a major target of al-Qaeda, affiliated groups and imitators. Most of us are under the impression that removing our shoes at the airport and limiting ourselves to those tiny, trial-size containers of toothpaste, shaving cream and lotion are enough to ensure a safe flight. For passengers on Northwest Flight 253, this was not the case.
One solution -- expensive and intrusive, but effective -- would be to make use of new airport screening technology mandatory. Either a "whole-body imaging" scanner, which gives a much more detailed picture than a regular metal detector, or a "sniffer" machine, which analyzes trace chemicals, would have been likely to detect the explosives that Abdulmutallab allegedly was carrying.
In this instance, however, the system seems to have malfunctioned well before Abdulmutallab reached Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Abdulmutallab's father, wealthy Nigerian banker Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, had warned U.S. and Nigerian authorities about his son's increasing radicalization -- information that led U.S. officials to put Abdulmutallab's name in a database, along with 550,000 other names, but not to revoke his multiple-entry visa or keep him off a Detroit-bound jetliner.
It is an ordeal for anyone from the developing world to obtain a visa to enter the United States. We already turn away multitudes. It will be no small task, but the system needs to be re-engineered to let the right people in and keep the dangerous people out.
When Abdulmutallab allegedly set his lap on fire, there were no air marshals on board to handle the situation. I realize it is not possible to provide an armed federal escort for every flight. But whatever algorithm officials use to determine which flights get marshals evidently needs improvement.
The second problem we face is much bigger, and there is no real solution in sight.
According to reports of Abdulmutallab's statements to authorities after his arrest, he claims to have gotten the bomb -- and instruction on how and when to use it -- from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen. As noted previously in this space, and illustrated by a sobering report Monday in The Post, Yemen features prominently in al-Qaeda's expansion plans. Abdulmutallab's story suggests that an infrastructure for indoctrination, training and bomb-making is already in place, and that this ambitious young branch of al-Qaeda is confident enough to launch an attack on what the George W. Bush administration infelicitously called the "homeland."
Our enemy apparently sees its future in places such as Yemen -- or perhaps Somalia, a failed state for almost two decades, where militant fundamentalist Islam is on the march. The enemy's leadership is believed to be ensconced in remote areas of Pakistan, beyond the government's reach. Yet the United States will soon have about 100,000 troops chasing shadows in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda's presence is now minimal.
I understand and appreciate the fear that if the Taliban were to take power again, it could invite al-Qaeda back into Afghanistan to set up shop. But I can't escape the uneasy feeling that we're fighting, and escalating, the last war -- while the enemy fights the next one.
The writer will be online to chat with readers at 1 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday. Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.
DTN News: Technology News TODAY December 28, 2009 ~ China Launches World's Fastest Train Service*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - December 28, 2009: China on Saturday launched what it described as the world’s fastest train service covering a distance of 1,068 kms at the average speed of 350 kms an hour. The distance between Wuhan in central China and Guangzhou in the country’s south was covered by the high-speed train in two hours forty five minutes. ZHUZHOU, CHINA - DECEMBER 26: A CRH train runs out of Zhuzhou West Railway Station on December 26, 2009 in Zhuzhou, Hunan Province of China. Trainwomen are ready for the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway's running out at the Wuhan Railway Station on December 26, 2009 in Wuhan, Wubei Province of China. The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which boasts of the world's fastest train journey with a 350-km-per-hour average speed, debuts on Saturday.
The new service will cut the travel time between these cities by more than six hours. The train reached a maximum speed of 394.2 km per hour during trail runs that begun on December 9.
The commercial operation was launched today with two trains covering the distance while passing through 20 different cities along the route. The high speed line will use technology developed in co-operation with foreign firms such as Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom, sources said.
The new service is expected to act as a catalyst in the development of central China that includes backward areas like Xianning by linking it to the highly developed Pearl River Delhi, which is an industrial hub in south China.
Chinese railway authorities pointed out that the average speed of the high-speed railways is 243 km per hour in Japan, 232 km per hour in Germany and 277 km per hour in France. The era of high speed railway began in China in 2004 when Guangzhou was linked to Shenzhen, both in Guangdong Province, with a train traveling at 160 km per hour.
This was followed by the launch of a high-speed line linking the capital with the port city of Tianjin at the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The government recently announced it plans to build 42 high-speed lines by 2012 in order to spur economic growth amid the global downturn. China has unveiled a massive rail development program, considered to be the world’s biggest plan outside the United States.
The goal is to take the rail network from the current 86,000 kilometers to 120,000 kilometers.
DTN News: Airlines News TODAY December 28, 2009 ~ Problematic JAL Faces Bankruptcy Option According To Report*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - December 28, 2009: A state-backed turnaround body overseeing Japan Airlines' restructuring is considering bankruptcy as one option for the cash-strapped carrier, reports said Monday.A Japan Airlines aircraft is parked at Haneda airport in Tokyo December 28, 2009. Bankruptcy has been proposed by a state-backed fund as an option in the restructuring of Japan Airlines, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Proposals submitted to JAL's creditors by the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. include filing for protection from creditors to give the airline time to put its finances in order, the Nikkei business daily said.
But debt-ridden JAL, seeking its fourth government bailout since 2001, aims to avoid bankruptcy proceedings.
"We are pursuing the possibility of restructuring without bankruptcy," JAL spokesman Kojiro Waki told AFP.
An official at the turnaround body declined to comment on the reports.
The airline has said it plans thousands of job cuts and a drastic reduction in routes as part of its efforts to return to profitability.
JAL has been offered financial assistance by both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, who are competing to take a minority stake in the Japanese carrier, eyeing its coveted Asian landing slots.
Japan's government has ruled out allowing JAL to collapse, but has left the door open to possible bankruptcy proceedings to allow the group to restructure more easily.
DTN News: Iran TODAY December 28, 2009 ~ Tehran In Chaos, At Least 15 Dead In Street Battles*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - December 28, 2009: At least fifteen anti-government protesters, including a nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s opposition leader, were shot dead yesterday as the smouldering confrontation between the regime and the so-called Green Movement finally erupted. Iranian anti-riot police officers following the protestors, during an anti-government protest in Tehran, second image/photo Iranian protestors beating police officers and an Iranian protestor throwing a rock at anti-riot police officers, as their bikes are set on fire by protestors, during anti-government protest at the Enqelab (Revolution) St. in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009.
Early reports put the number of dead at five, but as clashes continued late into the night, Iranian state television reported that the number of dead had risen to 15. The Ministry of Intelligence said more than 10 were members of "anti-revolutionary terrorist" groups.
The other five who died during the bitter clashes in the Iranian capital were killed by "terrorist groups," Iranian TV claimed.
Analysts heralded the start of what could be a bloody endgame as hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters poured on to the streets of Tehran and other cities and fought running battles with the security forces. Opposition websites claimed that some policemen had refused to fire on demonstrators.
Foreign journalists have been banned from Iran but Western newsrooms were inundated with mobile telephone footage of astonishing scenes: jubilant demonstrators attacking riot police and Basij militiamen, protesters gleefully setting light to a police station, Basiji building and motorbikes being captured from the security forces, detained protesters being freed from a police van while colleagues are carried away with blood pouring from gunshot wounds. Dozens were injured and more than 300 arrested. “The gloves are off. There is no question about that,” said one analyst. Ali Ansari, Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, said: “No one can now doubt that change is coming.”
A leading opposition activist claimed: “The regime is on borrowed time. The entire country is beginning to rise.”
The demonstrators’ fury was no longer directed solely at President Ahmadinejad, whose alleged theft of the presidential election triggered protests in June, but also at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader and embodiment of a theocratic government that has lost legitimacy. Passions were bound to be high because yesterday was not only Ashura, when Shias commemorate the martyrdom in the 7th century of Imam Hossein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, but also the seventh day since the death of Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, the opposition’s spiritual leader, an important date in Shia mourning rituals. Few predicted quite such fury or aggression.
Opposition websites said that demonstrators broke through cordons, blocked streets to thwart squads of baton-wielding motorbike police, hurled stones, stripped captured police officers of their uniforms and weapons, and burnt state-owned banks. Mobile telephone footage showed them holding aloft captured Basiji crash helmets as onlookers cheered. “People no longer fear,” one activist told The Times.
They compared Ayatollah Khamenei to Yazid, the Sunni caliph who killed Imam Hossein. Film clips showed demonstrators trying to tear down Ayatollah Khamenei’s portrait and trampling on a street sign bearing his name. At least five protesters were shot in Tehran and reportedly four more in Tabriz — one of several other cities that witnessed huge demonstrations. They were the first shootings of demonstrators since June 20, eight days after the disputed election.
The opposition website Rahesabz said that the security forces opened fire on a crowd near Enghelab Square in Tehran after failing to disperse it with teargas, baton charges and warning shots. A witness told The Times: “The person we saw killed was a young man, I am guessing early twenties. He was shot in the head from a rooftop. It happened so quickly that we did not know what happened. A couple of minutes later the Basiji came rushing in and fired teargas and used batons to disperse us and then they took his body.”
It was unclear whether Seyed Ali Mousavi, 35, the opposition leader’s nephew, was one of those killed, though he, too, was shot near Enghelab Square. Footage showed him lying on a pavement as blood oozed from his chest. There were reports last night that security forces had surrounded the hospital where he died.
Tehran’s police chief initially denied any killings. State television later reported several deaths on both sides. Iran’s deputy police chief then claimed that one protester fell off a bridge, two died in car accidents and one was shot, but not by the police.
Another witness told The Times how a middle-aged woman emerged from a cornered crowd and yelled at the police: “Aren’t you ashamed to beat and kill your own people?”
“To our surprise two of them admitted they were ashamed and were doing this only for money. The head of the squad then asked that we go home because he did not want to have to give the order to have us beaten,” the witness said.
Gangs of pro-government vigilantes increasingly appear to be taking the law into their own hands. On Saturday night a group broke up a meeting addressed by Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president, and attacked nearby offices used by the family of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. Leading members of the Khomeini family now support the opposition.
The opposition claims that the unrest is spreading across Iran, and to every social class. It senses victory, but activists fear a bloodbath first. “The security forces, especially the Revolutionary Guards, are prepared to fight until the end as they have nowhere to go,” one member said.
DTN News: Indonesia TODAY December 28, 2009 ~ The Rise Of The Indonesian Strategic Industry*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By Cyrillus Harinowo Hadiwerdoyo , Jakarta
(NSI News Source Info) JAKARTA, Indonesia - December 28, 2009: A few weeks ago, Indonesia’s minister of defense officiated the launching of the new Landing Platform Dock (LPD) built by PT PAL for the Indonesian Navy. It marked a new beginning for PT PAL, the largest Indonesian shipyard located in Surabaya, East Java, after having been successful in developing various non-military ships, such as 50,000 ton cargo vessels, large oil and chemical tankers and passenger ships. PT PAL ~ State-owned shipbuilding company PT PAL Indonesia said it will built a navy corvette at a cost of US$ 40 million in cooperation 12 other state and private companies. The corvette to be completed in 2007 will be first type of warship built in the country. PT PAL said the construction of corvette has long been programmed by the defense ministry and the navy Most of the components are expected to be locally supplied by state-owned companies
In the area of military combat ships, PT PAL has successfully developed various smaller craft such as Fast Patrol Boats in different sizes.
The development of the Landing Platform Dock has been done in conjunction with similar production in Dae Sun Shipyard, Busan, South Korea, which developed two out of four LPDs for the Indonesian Ministry of Defense through the export credit extended by the Korean financial institution.
The export finance was later on extended to PT PAL to develop the remaining two LPDs. PT PAL, under the technical assistance from Dae Sun, has succeeded in building the first ship, and in the process of building the second ship.
The development by PT PAL was done with several refinements in its design. The LPD built by the Korean could accommodate three helicopters in its deck, while the LPD built by PT PAL is able to accommodate five helicopters.
In addition, the refinement in its shaft enabled the ships to improve the speed from 15 knots to 15.4 knots.
The achievement is going to be followed by the development of Sigma Class Corvettes and also Guided Missiles Ships currently on the drawing board.
Currently, the maintenance and overhaul of the Sigma Class Corvettes are also being done by PT PAL.
The two types of ships are within the capacity of PT PAL to develop.
Another ambition, which is currently enabled by the success in developing the 50,000 tons of cargo ships, is in the form of the building of Helicopter Carriers. In a later stage, PT PAL is also developing submarine building capability.
The rise in the Indonesian shipyard industry is also followed by the rapid development of the Indonesian aerospace industry.
Long time in neglect, the Indonesian aerospace company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), a metamorphosis of PT. IPTN, has shown its resilience and in fact has shown significant revival.
Recently, the Korean military signed a contract ordering four CN 235-110 MPAs, turboprop aircrafts for the military patrol. The Korean military have acquired rhese aircraft before, so they have experience using the aircraft.
In fact, this purchase was done after a tight tender process which involved American, Spanish and Israeli aircraft manufacturers. In addition, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense has just issued an order of three similar planes for the Indonesian Navy. These planes, as part of a planned bigger squadron, will replace the Nomad patrol aircrafts that have been planned for its retirement. PTDI also produces helicopters, including the Superpumas.
The Indonesian aerospace industry, during its hibernation period, continued its contracts with EADS in developing the wings and other parts of Airbus 380 and other types of Airbus planes. Recently, the company received an award for achieving a high-level quality requirement in supplying the components to Airbus. With such an achievement, PTDI has prepared the ground for further challenges.
Before the monetary crisis in 1998, PTDI, then named IPTN, was in the process of developing its homegrown airplanes called N250. There is a real possibility that such a plane will be revived in anticipation for the upcoming surge in short-haul flights. Further down the road the development of passenger jets are also on the drawing board.
The Brazilian aircraft industry, Embraer, has been successful in developing and marketing its ERJ (Embraer Regional Jets) to the competitive markets of the US and Europe. Such an opportunity is certainly available for the kind of aircrafts developed by PTDI. Fifty-passenger aircraft are similar to the size of the famous ERJs.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian defense industry (PT PINDAD) has also succeeded in developing APCs (Armored Personnel Carrier) for the Indonesian Army. The Indonesian Ministry of Defense placed order of 154 Combat APCs that will be used by various Army Units throughout Indonesia. PT PINDAD ~ Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) with 6 wheels symmetrical drove designed for military, especially cavalry need. Designed and produced by our engineers and designers for the military. Size and operation has been adjusted to suit Indonesian Military figures, doctrine and combat tactical strategy as our commitment to Indonesian Military needs. This type of panzer is able to carry 10 personnel with 3 crews, 1 driver, 1 commander and 1 gunner. 12,7 mm weapon mounting with capable for 360 degree rotation are also included. Following up first phase delivery of 20 units 6x6 Armoured Personnel Carriers to the Department of Defense in February 2009, PINDAD witnessed by the President of Republic of Indonesia, again delivered 40 units of 6x6 Armoured Personnel Carriers to the Department of Defense of Republic of Indonesia on July 10, 2009. The vehicles which were the second phase of delivery were then submitted to the Commander in Chied of Indonesian Armed Forces, Djoko Santoso and Head of Staf of Indonesian Army, Agustadi Sasongko Purnomo. In order to support the autonomy of production of military weaponry system, the Government represented by the Department of Defense in June 2009 giving credence to PT. PINDAD to produce 150 units of 6x6 Armoured Personnel Carrier and 4 units of 4x4 Forward Observer Vehicle with the following detail: 116 units of APC type, 3 units of Ambulance type, 6 units of Logistic type, 4 units of Recovery type, 6 units of Mortar type, 4 units of Observer type, and 15 units of Commando type.
The APCs are similar to the French built Renault APC that has been purchased by the Indonesian Army for the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.
It can be expected that the new capability in developing such vehicles enables the company to develop more complicated light tanks. Neighboring Malaysia has also placed an order for 40 APCs from PT PINDAD. Such order is a testimony of the quality of the product.
PT PINDAD also supplies high quality automatic rifles, pistols, grenade launchers and munitions to the Indonesian Armed Forces. The weaponry has now become the standard issue for the military and police forces in Indonesia along with the better known AK47 and M16. Recently some of its products have also been exported, including to the United States.
The rise of the three companies has emboldened the Government to balance the sourcing of Indonesia’s defense suppliers. Having been the target of a prolonged embargo by the United States, it is believed that self-sufficiency in the defense supplies becomes a necessity in the growing complexity of geopolitics. At the same time, the development of such industries will enable them to attract the skilled human resources that nowadays are scattered across the world.
What is the way forward? These strategic industries very much depend on the orders by the foreign shipping and airline companies as well as orders from within the country. In the past, as what happened with the development of the Landing Platform Docks, these companies also depend on the external finance from the Export Finance Agencies like in Korea.
The rise of the Indonesian banking system also enables banks to help extend finance for the purchase of such equipment as long as the Government is responsible for the repayments of the loans. This is basically what has happened now with all the Export Credits, because the Government is fully responsible to repay the debts to these Export Finance Agencies.
With the increasing capacity of the Indonesian Government Finance, it could be expected that 10 years from now the Indonesian budget are in much greater capacity than what we have now.
Therefore, the current government can leverage that capacity by placing orders for the military equipment that can be repaid gradually over time. In addition, the government can encourage Indonesian State Owned Companies to place orders in these industries. Pertamina, the Indonesian Oil Company, has at one time purchased a 30,000 DWT oil tanker. The ship, named the Fastron, was delivered by PT PAL in 2005. Such strategic purchasing could be repeated again in the coming years.
DTN News: Yemen Emerges As New Al Qaeda Hub*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON- December 28, 2009: Yemen is rapidly emerging as the new Al Qaeda hub, indicating that military operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas are forcing the militant group to look for new refuge, US officials and terrorism experts said on Sunday.
The debate followed the arrest on Friday of a 23-year-old Nigerian man recruited by Al Qaeda in Yemen where he was also taught how to make explosive devices and was directed to use one such device on a US plane.
A Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force jet fighter takes off near graduates during a graduation ceremony in Riyadh, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009. Saudi fighter jets have pounded the strongholds of Yemeni Houthi rebels combatants in northern Yemen. A Nigerian man's claims that his attempt to blow up a U.S. plane originated with al-Qaida's network inside Yemen deepened concerns that instability in the Middle Eastern country is providing the terror network with a base to train and recruit militants for operations against the West and the U.S.
On Saturday, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was formally charged with trying to blow up a Northwest airliner by setting off a device strapped to his body as the plane was approaching the Detroit airport.
“This could be a game-changer because it will be the first time since 9/11 that you’ve had a US-based plot driven out of somewhere other than the Pakistan-Afghan theatre,” said Juan Zarate, former US Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating Terrorism.
“Yemen is a place where Al Qaeda is on the move, a strong movement there,” said former CIA acting director John McLaughlin.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Barack Obama wanted to “increase our cooperation with nations like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia,” places used by Al Qaeda to regroup and plan attacks at US targets.
The three were among half a dozen experts and officials who appeared on various US television channels on Sunday to talk about the failed attempt to blow up the airliner on the Christmas Day.
Mr McLaughlin warned that in the last two or three years Al Qaeda had changed its tactics and had now dispersed across the globe. “They have safe havens of sorts in the tribal areas of Pakistan, one growing in Yemen. In Somalia, it can be claimed that they have a safe haven of sorts,” he said.
New York Congressman Peter King, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, described Nigeria, the home country of Abdulmutallab, as another “suspect country … with a strong Al Qaeda presence” and urged US authorities to increase surveillance of planes and individuals coming from Nigeria.
But a senior Obama administration official told reporters that they might soon find Yemen being mentioned more often in President Obama’s speeches about terrorism. Mr Zarate, the former security official who is also a CBS national security analyst, agreed with the suggestion that Yemen was now what Afghanistan was in the 1990s.
Describing the country as “a problematic theatre, Mr Zarate noted that Yemen had an unstable government, facing three different security situations: a Shia rebellion in the north, secessionist in the south and an increase in Al Qaeda presence.
“And you have greater ties to plots towards the US in Yemen.” He recalled that at least three recent attacks in the US were traced to Yemen: the recruitment centre attack in Little Rock, the Fort Hood case and now the attempt on the Northwest airliner.
In a similar discussion on CNN, experts noted that Yemen was probably the second-most important place in the world for an Al Qaeda presence, after Fata. “Very similar to Afghanistan, there’s a civil war going on. It’s a very poor country.
The government doesn’t control it. Bin Laden’s family, of course, comes from Yemen. The USS Cole attack was directed from Yemen,” noted one expert. “We’ve seen multiple attacks – or attempted attacks on the American embassy there. Al Qaeda has a strong foothold in Yemen.” CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen noted that Yemen had been a subject of intense American interest since the USS Cole attack in October of 2000, before 9/11. Mr McLaughlin, the former CIA acting director, said that after 9/11, when the US had chased Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan in early 2002, the place they thought the militants would go, other than the urban areas of Pakistan, was to Yemen.
“The Yemenis are difficult to work with. They don’t have capabilities. They are dealing primarily with an effort to control their own country,” he added.
DTN News: US Civilian, Military Planners Differ On New Afghan Approach* Officials say Obama had refused McChrystal’s request to double size of Afghan army and police * US president’s war cabinet disagrees over pledge to begin drawing down forces in July 2011*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - December 28, 2009: Nearly a month after US President Barack Obama unveiled his revised Afghanistan strategy, US military and civilian leaders have seemingly buried their differences on several fundamental aspects of the president’s new approach, a number of senior administration and military officials told The Washington Post.
U.S. soldiers walk with Christmas gifts on Christmas day at the Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday, Dec. 25, 2009.
In a report carried on Saturday, the paper said Obama had informed Gen Stanley McChrystal that he was not approving McChrystal’s request to double the size of Afghan army and police, just two days before announcing the revised policy.
“Cost was a factor, as were questions about whether the capacity exists to train 400,000 personnel. The president told McChrystal, the top commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to focus for now on fielding a little more than half that number by next October,” the newspaper said.
But 10 days after Obama’s speech, the US command responsible for training the Afghans circulated a chart detailing the combined personnel targets for the army and police, with McChrystal’s goal of 400,000 staying unchanged. “It’s an open issue,” a senior Pentagon official said last week.
U.S. army soldiers from Task Force Denali Platoon 1-40 CAV secure the area during a training session of Afghanistan's national policemen outside a police station at Nadir Shah Kot district in Khowst province, Afghanistan, December 24, 2009.
Disagreement: Members of Obama’s war cabinet also disagreed over the meaning of the president’s pledge to begin drawing down forces in July 2011 and whether the mission had been narrowed down from a proposal advanced by McChrystal.
“The disagreements have opened a fault line between a desire for an early exit among several senior officials at the White House and a conviction among military commanders that victory is still achievable on their terms,” the paper said.
The differences are complicating implementation of the new strategy, with some officers responding by seeking to accelerate the pace of operations.
DTN News: U.S. Special Forces Boost In Afghanistan*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media Posted by Mc Parry on December 27th, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - December 28, 2009: US special forces have stepped up counter-terrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and plan an even bigger expansion next year, The New York Times has reported. Citing unnamed US military commanders, the newspaper said the commandos from the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s classified Seals units have had success weakening the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the strongest Taliban fighter in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. Special Operations forces during a joint operation with Afghan National Army soldiers targeting insurgents operating in Afghanistan (AP)
Haqqani’s group has used its bases in neighboring Pakistan to carry out deadly strikes in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital, according to the report.
Guided by intercepted cellphone communications, the US commandos have also killed some important Taliban operatives in Marja, a Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in the south, the paper noted.
Marine commanders say they believe that there are some 1,000 fighters holed up in the town, according to the report.
Although US President Barack Obama and his aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase along with the deployment of 30,000 more US troops next year, The Times said.
The increased counter-terrorism operations over the past three or four months reflect growth in every part of the Afghanistan campaign, including conventional forces securing the population, other troops training and partnering with Afghan security forces, and more civilians to complement and capitalize on security gains, the paper noted. (AFP)
DTN News: German Unification Not The Model For Korea
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - December 28, 2009: When it comes to unification, many people in Korea look towards the German experience but the ambassador said there are better models to choose from. Herald Media CEO Park Haeng-hwan (right) and German Ambassador Hans-Ulrich Seidt [The Korea Herald]
"My personal recommendation would be not to follow the German example because the situation is different, I would recommend looking to the Chinese example," German Ambassador Hans-Ulrich Seidt told Herald Media publisher Park Haeng-hwan during a recent courtesy call.
The ambassador's statement reflects a different environment and political settings.
"Look how China managed Hong Kong, Macau, and now they are managing Taiwan," he pointed out.
Since the middle of 2008, when Ma Ying-jeou took the reigns of Taiwan, the relationship between Taipei and Beijing has changed tremendously making it without a doubt one of the most important developments of recent history. The Unification Flag is a flag designed to represent all of Korea when both North and South Korea participate in sporting events. The flag was first used in 1991 when the two countries competed as a single team in the 41st World Table Tennis Championship in Chiba, Japan and the 6th World Youth Football Championship in Lisbon, Portugal. The two countries' teams marched together under the flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha; however, the two countries competed separately in sporting events. The flag was not used in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, due to the decision made by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), that the two teams would enter separately.
The flag represents North and South Korea. The background is white. In the centre there is a blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula, including the island of Jeju-do to the southwest. In 2006 however, the two nations both agreed to use the flag which includes Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo in Korean). The flag has no status as the official flag of either country.
One of the first steps to warmer relations between Taiwan and mainland China was opening up direct flights.
In the past, a Taiwanese traveler wanting to visit the mainland had to take a connecting flight from either Incheon or Jeju Island just to name a couple.
Today there are more than 200 flights per week between the Taiwan Strait.
"This means that some kind of economic integration is underway," he said. "Slowly, not formulized in a political way, but something is underway."
"So if I look at the trend I would say that in 10 years from now, if the trend continues, the economy of mainland China and Taiwan will be very closely integrated," Seidt said.
This means that this economic synergy will also have an impact on the Chinese Diaspora throughout the world.
"This is a real development and if this economic integration slowly but steadily continues, one day they will start to cooperate militarily and for me the most interesting day is when the mainland Chinese and the Taiwanese start military operations," he added.
Following the course of that logic, then it would be possible to see the navies of both China and Taiwan patrolling the Taiwan Strait and their surrounding waters.
"These are developments and possibilities of reunification that are closer to the Korean neighborhood and could be also a kind of model," he said.
Still, why not the German model? Many local scholars and politicians keep plugging it as a possible avenue for Korean unification. To put it simply, the German model is not exclusive to Germany.
At the same time as the wall came down in Berlin, there was the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia, a liberalization movement in Hungary and in the Baltic republics of the former Soviet Union.
"So the developments leading to German reunification were embedded into a European process that started in the late '70s," Seidt said.
One example would be the Charter 77 which was an informal civic initiative in Czechoslovakia from 1977 to 1992. The Charter was the most prominent opposition to the process of normalization.
Charter 77 criticized the government for failing to implement human rights provisions of a number of documents it had signed and also described the signatories as a "loose, informal, and open association of people united by the will to strive individually and collectively for respect for human and civil rights in our country and throughout the world."
There was also Andrei Sakharov, an eminent Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist who advocated civil liberties and reforms in the Soviet Union and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.
One cannot forget the Solidarity Movement in Poland which was the first non-communist-controlled trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. In the 1980s it constituted a broad anti-bureaucratic social movement.
"So there was already, at that time in Eastern Europe, a fermentation process underway that went far beyond the individual trends in East Germany," he said. "East Germany was probably the country least affected and last affected by these dynamics."
Seidt added that he does not see this fermentation process in North Korea.
"However I have the feeling that there is some fermentation process underway in particular in the economic field, otherwise this monetary reform wouldn't make sense."
For the ambassador, the monetary reforms by the North Korean regime is an indication that something is getting out of control and they have to react, probably because there is too much money or free market in the local and regional level in North Korea.
Secondly, the population in Eastern Europe already had a democratic tradition.
For example, the Czech Republic between the world wars was a very democratic and liberal society. Same is true for other countries.
"They had a liberal democratic experience sine the end of the 19th century, a modernization process, all this is lacking in North Korea," he said.
What there is in North Korea is something very archaic.
"I would say it's not communist, it's something different, it's a monarchy with a one family rule," he said. "So if the legitimacy of the family goes away then the system would collapse."
By this regard, even a military collective leadership would not be in a position to replace this kind of family legitimacy set by Kim Il-sung.
Seidt said that unification of the two Koreas needs to be done slowly and carefully by strengthening the economic and social segments in the North before political cohesiveness can be attained.
"Steps like Kaesong for example, trying to open up economically and make use of the comparative advantage of the lower wages in North Korea, bring them up to South Korea's standards over a longer period of time, try to cooperate on the exploration of the natural resources of North Korea; this would be a longer process, a longer unification process."
DTN News: Did U.S. Men In Pakistan Target Nuke Site?
*Pakistan Has Made Varied Claims about DC-Area Men Arrested This Month; Say They Had Maps of Nuclear Power Facility
*Source: DTN News / CBS & AP
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - December 27, 2009: Police are trying to determine whether five Americans detained in Pakistan had planned to attack a complex that houses nuclear power facilities. The young Muslim men, who are from the Washington, D.C., area, were picked up in Pakistan earlier this month in a case that has spurred fears that Westerners are traveling to the South Asian country to join militant groups.
Pakistani police and government officials have made a series of escalating and, at times, seemingly contradictory allegations about the men's intentions, while U.S. officials have been far more cautious, though they, too, are looking at charging the men.
A Pakistani government official alleged Saturday that the men had established contact with Taliban commanders and planned to attack sites in Pakistan. Earlier, however, local police accused the men of intending to fight in Afghanistan after meeting militant leaders.
The men had a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex that along with nuclear power facilities houses a water reservoir and other structures, said Javed Islam, a senior police official in the Sargodha area of Punjab province. He stressed the men were not carrying a specific map of any nuclear power plant, but rather the whole of Chashma Barrage.
The detained men also had exchanged e-mails about the area, Islam said. "We are also working to retrieve some of the deleted material in their computers," he said.
Pakistan has a nuclear weapons arsenal, but it also has nuclear power plants for civilian purposes. Any nuclear activity in Pakistan tends to come under scrutiny because of the South Asian nation's past history of leaking sensitive nuclear secrets due to the actions of the main architect of its atomic weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
But as militancy has spread in Pakistan, officials have repeatedly insisted the nuclear weapons program is safe. Pakistani police plan to recommend that courts charge the five men with collecting and attempting to collect material to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan, police official Nazir Ahmad told The Associated Press.
The punishments for those charges range from seven years to life in prison, he said. Officials in both countries have said they expected the men would eventually be deported back to the United States, but charging the men in Pakistan could delay that process.
Pakistan's legal system can be slow and opaque. In an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday, Punjab province Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the men had established contact with Taliban commanders.
Watch CBS News Videos OnlineHe said they had planned to meet Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Qari Hussain in Pakistan's tribal regions before going on to attack sites inside Pakistan. The nuclear power plant "might have been" one of the targets, Sanaullah alleged.
The FBI, whose agents have been granted some access to the men, is looking into what potential charges they could face in the U.S. Possibilities include conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group.
The U.S. Embassy has declined to comment on the potential charges and would not say what efforts Washington was making to bring the men back. The five were arrested in Sargodha earlier this month, but are being held in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.
In Islamabad, it was a political bombshell that dominated the news this week, reports CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy. A Supreme Court decision has left over 150 politicians - including four cabinet ministers - open to investigation on corruption charges. Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar is on the list.
He says he is innocent. He was meant to go on an official visit to China last week, but was prevented from leaving the country.
The political crisis comes at the worst possible time for the United States, which needs Pakistan's help now more than ever as it pours more troops into neighboring Afghanistan.
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY December 27, 2009 (Part # 2) ~ Elite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt In Afghanistan*Source: DTN News / The New York Times By Eric Schmitt
(NSI News Source Info) BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan - December 27, 2009: Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders. (Officers at Bagram Air Base expect a major fight in Marja)
The commandos, from the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s classified Seals units, have had success weakening the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the strongest Taliban warrior in eastern Afghanistan, the officers said. Mr. Haqqani’s group has used its bases in neighboring Pakistan to carry out deadly strikes in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital.
Guided by intercepted cellphone communications, the American commandos have also killed some important Taliban operatives in Marja, the most fearsome Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in the south, the officers said. Marine commanders say they believe that there are some 1,000 fighters holed up in the town.
Although President Obama and his top aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase, along with the deployment of 30,000 more American forces in the next year. American and Afghan troops in Helmand Province. Special Operations units are stepping up attacks on insurgents, officers say.
The increased counterterrorism operations over the past three or four months reflect growth in every part of the Afghanistan campaign, including conventional forces securing the population, other troops training and partnering with Afghan security forces, and more civilians to complement and capitalize on security gains.
American commanders in Afghanistan rely on the commando units to carry out some of the most complicated operations against militant leaders, and the missions are never publicly acknowledged.
The commandos are the same elite forces that have been pursuing Osama bin Laden, captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and led the hunt that ended in 2006 in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader in Iraq of the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
In recent interviews here, commanders explained that the special-mission units from the Joint Special Operations Command were playing a pivotal role in hurting some of the toughest militant groups, and buying some time before American reinforcements arrived and more Afghan security forces could be trained.
“They are extremely effective in the areas where we are focused,” said one American general in Afghanistan about the commandos, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified status of the missions.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is in charge of the military’s Central Command, mentioned the increased focus on counterterrorism operations in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Dec. 9. But he spoke more obliquely about the teams actually conducting attacks against hard-core Taliban extremists, particularly those in rural areas outside the reach of population centers that conventional forces will focus on.
“We actually will be increasing our counterterrorist component of the overall strategy,” General Petraeus told lawmakers. “There’s no question you’ve got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable. And we are intending to do that, and we will have additional national mission force elements to do that when the spring rolls around.”
Senior military officials say it is not surprising that the commandos are playing such an important role in the fight, particularly because Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior American and NATO officer in Afghanistan, led the Joint Special Operations Command for five years.
In addition to the classified American commando missions, military officials say that other NATO special operations forces have teamed up with Afghan counterparts to attack Taliban bomb-making networks and other militant cells.
About six weeks ago, allied and Afghan special operations forces killed about 150 Taliban fighters in several villages near Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, a senior NATO military official said.
Some missions have killed Taliban fighters while searching for Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who was reported missing on June 30 in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban in July posted a video on jihadist Web sites in which the soldier identified himself and said that he had been captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. A second video was released on Friday.
“We’ve been hitting them hard, but I want to be careful not to overstate our progress,” said the NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the operations in detail. “It has not yet been decisive.”
In Helmand, more than 10,000 Marines, as well as Afghan and British forces, are gearing up for a major confrontation in Marja early next year. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the senior Marine commander in the south, said in a recent interview, “The overt message we’re putting out is, Marja is next.”
General Nicholson said there were both “kinetic and nonkinetic shaping operations” under way. In military parlance that means covert operations, including stealthy commando raids against specific targets, as well as an overt propaganda campaign intended to persuade some Taliban fighters to defect.
Military officials say the commandos are mindful of General McChrystal’s directive earlier this year to take additional steps to prevent civilian casualties.
In February, before General McChrystal was named to his current position, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower were jeopardizing broader goals there.
The halt, which lasted about two weeks, came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops killed women and children, and after months of mounting outrage in Afghanistan about civilians killed in air and ground attacks. The order covered all commando missions except those against the top leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, military officials said.
Across the border in Pakistan, where American commandos are not permitted to operate, the Central Intelligence Agency has stepped up its missile strikes by Predator and Reaper drones on groups like the Haqqani network.
But an official with Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or I.S.I., said there had also been more than 60 joint operations involving the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan in the past year.
The official said the missions included “snatch and grabs” — the abduction of important militants — as well as efforts to kill leaders. These operations were based on intelligence provided by either the United States or Pakistan to be used against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the official said.
“We can expect to see more U.S. action against Haqqani,” a senior American diplomat in Pakistan said in a recent interview.
The increasing tempo of commando operations in Afghanistan has caused some strains with other American commanders. Many of the top Special Operations forces, as well as intelligence analysts and surveillance aircraft, are being moved to Afghanistan from Iraq, as the Iraq war begins to wind down.
“It’s caused some tensions over resources,” said Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the second-ranking commander in Iraq.
Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY December 27, 2009 ~ Afghan Religious Council Condemns Pakistani Taliban Over Sending Fighters*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - December 27, 2009: Council of religious scholars in Afghanistan has strongly denounced the decision of Pakistani Taliban to send more militants to fight in the war-torn country, a statement of the religious body said on Saturday. In this photo taken on Oct. 3, 2007, Shah Abdul Aziz, a leader of a pro-Taliban religious party and former lawmaker smiles in Islamabad, Pakistan. Police in Pakistan say on Sunday, July 26, 2009 they are holding two men, including a former lawmaker Aziz, in custody for the beheading of a Polish geologist kidnapped near the Afghan border last year
"The Afghanistan National Council of Ulemma (Religious Scholars)strongly condemns the recent announcement made by the Pakistani Taliban on sending militants to fight in Afghanistan," the statement said.
"Continuation of fighting is not in the interest of Islam and would rather harm the region," the statement further said. Pakistani tribesmen and supporters of religious party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam chant slogans as they take part in a protest against U.S drone attacks in the tribal areas in the Pakistani-Afghan border town of Chaman.
A Pakistani Taliban commander Waliur Rahman said recently that the outfit had sent thousands of fighters to fight against NATO-led troops stationed in Afghanistan, according to media reports.
Rahman made the announcement in the wake of the surge of U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan and mounting pressure by Pakistani troops against the militants in tribal areas along the Afghan border.
In the statement, the religious body stressed that more fighting would "spread evil and fuel violence" and called on militants to renounce violence and instead resume normal life.
Both the neighboring Asian states of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been facing a surging militancy which has claimed thousands of lives over the past couple of years.
DTN News: ‘Each House Should Be Fortress To Resist Enemy’ Says Georgian President Saakashvili* ‘Very painful reforms in the army’
* ‘Very correct regrouping of forces’
(NSI News Source Info) TBILISI, Georgia, - December 27, 2009: Each and every citizen of Georgia should be ready for defense and each family and house should “become a fortress of resistance” in case of enemy’s attack, President Saakashvili said on December 26.People take part in a protest rally calling for the resignation of Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi November 7, 2009.
Speaking at a meeting with National Guard personnel in Tbilisi in presence of Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia and chief of staff of the armed forces, Devi Chankotadze, he said “war is ongoing against Georgia” and “daily threats are heard against our country.”
It will be “a tragic mistake” to ignore these threats, Saakashvili added.
“But the enemy should not have an illusion either,” he continued. “Any new wide-scale adventure will come across a fierce resistance of each Georgian soldier, officer and entire Georgian people.”
He said that protection of Georgia should not be only up to its regular armed forces.
“When this moment comes; if this moment comes – and we should do all our best avoid this moment, but every country should be ready for that, especially those which are in the situation similar to us – each Georgian man and woman will be fighter for Georgia; they should be ready to fight for Georgia,” Saakashvili said.
“Each Georgian family, each of our street, region, village, city, each settlement and neighborhood, each house and family should become a bastion, a fortress of resistance,” he added.Workers dismantle the War Memorial in Kutaisi December 17, 2009. Diggers tore into a Soviet World War Two memorial in Georgia on Thursday to make way for a new parliament in the former Soviet republic, angering Russia and opponents of pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Saakashvili also said that Georgia was preparing for peace and “we want peace as never before.”
“We are winning peace and that irritates our enemy – it threatens peace because we are winning it. Our enemy should know that although it is losing the peace, it will also lose the war and therefore it should not launch a war,” he said.
Saakashvili said that along with level of training and adduction, “the massiveness of our armed forces” was also an important aspect.
“100,000; 200,000; 300,000 and if needed half a million people should stand with arms in their hands. We have enough automatic rifles for that and we have ammunition more than enough,” he added. “Each person and each family, which can fight for Georgia, should be ready to struggle and defend their country. Without it nobody will serve us on a tray either long-term guarantees of freedom or economic development and success.”
In a concept paper presented in October by the National Guard, the building of a new system of Georgia’s reserve troops should be “oriented on quality, instead of its size”. The target on the first stage will be having of 3,000 well-trained reservists in four years, according to the document.
In the speech Saakashvili also spoke briefly about “painful reforms”, which he said were carried out recently in the armed forces. “In recent months a very painful reforms, also involving army personnel, were carried out quietly,” he said.
“Serious assessments [of the personnel] have been conducted; level of readiness and training has increased seriously of each soldier; and new replenishment is coming in our armed forces,” Saakashvili added without giving further details.
The Georgian daily, Rezonansi, reported this week that about 150 officers were dismissed from the armed forces. According to the newspaper, the Ministry of Defense although declined to comment on reported dismissal of officers, but confirmed that the process of “optimization” was ongoing.
Saakashvili also said that “a very right regrouping of our armed forces” had been conducted recently.
The regrouping of the armed forces was carried out in late November, reportedly involving concentration of forces in Tbilisi and its surrounding, in particular, relocation of the 1st infantry brigade and the artillery brigade from the town of Gori.
DTN News: Test Of Newest U.S. Missile Defense Technology Will Simulate Attack By Iran*Source: By Mike Mount, CNN
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - December 27, 2009: The U.S. military's Missile Defense Agency will practice protecting the United States from a simulated Iranian missile attack next month in an exercise using the agency's newest missile-killing technology, Pentagon officials said Friday.
Previous tests have been focused on a missile trajectory that mimics an attack from North Korea, but the January test will have a trajectory and distance resembling an intercontinental ballistic missile launch from Iran.The fake ICBM will be launched from the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, with the interceptor originating from California.
At the same time, the agency will be testing its new "Capability-2" technology, with upgraded software and sensors loaded inside an interceptor missile that will be fired at the fake Iranian missile.
The Capability-2 technology is designed to eventually replace the existing hardware the United States has in its two missile defense bases in California and Alaska, according to Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency.
While intelligence assessments of that country's capabilities now suggest an Iranian ICBM threat is as far away as 2020, this test was planned more than three years ago, when the threat seemed much closer, Lehner said.
In the January test, the fake ICBM is slated to originate from the Missile Defense Agency's launch facility in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific while the interceptor missile will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to Lehner.
Missile defense tests have been likened to hitting a bullet with a bullet. This test will be even more difficult: It will be like hitting a bullet head-on with another bullet, because any launch from Iran would have a trajectory that would require a U.S. interceptor missile hitting the target directly, Lehner said.
The missiles will be flying at speeds of between 17,000 and 18,000 miles per hour, according to Lehner, about 3,000 mph faster than tests involving mock North Korean missiles. The speed will reduce the strike window, meaning the interceptor, also known as the "kill vehicle," will have to work even faster at identifying and striking the target missile.
The United States has only two missile defense bases, one at Vandenberg, with three missiles, and the other at Fort Greely, Alaska, with 20 interceptor missiles at the ready.
Lehner said that if Iran were to launch an ICBM attack against the United States, the most likely defense option would be firing a missile from Alaska, because of the shorter distance around the globe.
The United States was prepared to put a third missile defense site in eastern Europe, but the Obama administration scrapped that option because of the reduced ICBM threat from Iran. In its place, the administration said it will move ships with the capability of shooting down short- and medium-range missile from Iran which, they say, pose a greater threat to Iran's neighbors and U.S. bases in the Middle East.