DTN News: Singapore TODAY August 2, 2009 ~ Three Men Injured In Fight Outside Newly—Opened Tekka Market*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - August 2, 2009: Three men were involved in a fight on Sunday morning outside the newly—opened Tekka Market on Serangoon Road.
Police received a call at about 8am, but the fight had already broken up by the time they arrived.
No weapons were found at the scene, but eye—witnesses said knives were used.
An Indian man in his 30s was sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Police said he was conscious when he was sent there.
Two other Indian men made their own way to the hospital.
Most shoppers inside Tekka Market did not seem to notice the commotion outside.
The market re—opened on Saturday after 15 months of renovation costing over S$10.5 million.
During the 15—month refurbishment period, some tenants moved to a temporary market at nearby Race Course Road.
Some tenants have reported an increase in rent by up to 20 per cent.
However, they are confident the spanking new facility will attract more customers.
DTN News: Plane Carrying 16 Disappears Over Indonesian Papua
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) JAKARTA, Indonesia - August 2, 2009: A plane carrying 16 people disappeared over eastern Indonesia on Sunday, an airline official said.
This image provided by NOAA shows a Aug. 10, 2007 file photo of a DeHavilland DHC6 Twin Otter similar to the one belonging to Merpati Nusantari airline that has gone missing over Indonesia's Papua region early Sunday Aug. 2, 2009.
The Twin Otter plane was on a commercial flight in the remote Papua region when it lost contact with ground officials, said Capt. Nikmatullah, the director of operations of the airline operating the plane, Merpati Nusantara.
Nikmatullah, who goes by a single name, said no trace had been found of the plane more then four hours after it took off. The aircraft was carrying enough fuel to keep it in the air for 3 1/2 hours, he told Metro TV station.
The plane was on a 50-minute journey from Sentani, a major airport in Papua, to the town of Oksibil, he said.
Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. In the past, crashed planes have never been found.
Indonesia, a nation of more than 18,000 islands, has seen a string of air crashes in recent years.
DTN News: Afghan Mission Falls Short Of Expectations ~ Lawmakers*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, U.K. - August 2, 2009: The international military mission in Afghanistan has delivered much less than it promised due to the lack of a realistic strategy, British lawmakers say.
In a report, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said that without a clear strategy, stabilizing Afghanistan had become 'considerably more difficult than might otherwise have been the case'.
Lawmakers criticized US policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan and warned that the 'considerable cultural insensitivity' of some coalition troops had caused serious damage to the Afghans' perceptions and that would be 'difficult to undo'.
"We conclude that the international effort in Afghanistan since 2001 has delivered much less than it promised and that its impact has been significantly diluted by the absence of a unified vision and strategy grounded in the realities of Afghanistan's history, culture and politics," the report said.
As for Britain's roughly 9,000 troops in Afghanistan -- who in July suffered their worst month since the 2001 invasion with 22 deaths -- the members of parliament (MPs) said their role has seen 'significant mission creep'.
They were initially sent to counter international terrorism and are now working on areas like fighting the drugs trade and counter-insurgency, it said, adding the military had not been given a 'clear direction'.
"We conclude that the UK's mission in Afghanistan has taken on a significantly different and considerably expanded character since the first British troops were deployed there in 2001," the report said.
The report also warned that the reputation of NATO -- in command of international troops in Afghanistan since 2003 -- could be 'seriously damaged' without fairer burden-sharing between member states to ease the strain.
Responding to the report, Britain's Foreign Office said that it would study its conclusions and submit an official response in the coming months.
DTN News: Brazil, Chile, Spain Question US Bases In Colombia
*Analysis: The most ironic is the US anti-Venezuela (or Chavez) bias. They recently went as far as criticizing Venezuela for not doing enough to intercept Colombian-produced cocaine. But Colombia, which produces nearly 100% of the the drug, is not criticized one bit.
Chavez, claims rightfully that the US is the biggest importer of cocaine, and that the main anti-drug war should be within the US borders. But the US cannot use its armed forces inside the US for what is essentially a criminal activity, so prefers to take the fight overseas.These US bases, if opened, will create conflict with countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia....By A Taxpayer
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SAO PAULO, Brazil - August 2, 2009: Brazil, Chile and Spain on Thursday challenged the United States' decision to use and expand military bases in Colombia, saying they feared the move could heighten simmering tensions in Latin America.
Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Michelle Bachelet of Chile said in Sao Paulo they would put the issue before an August 10 meeting of a nascent South American Defense Council in Ecuador.Spain's foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, simultaneously told reporters in Brasilia that they would demand explanations from Washington over the bases.
The Colombian government's announcement July 15 that three of its military air bases were to be used by the United States as part of joint anti-drug operations has ignited concerns and anger among Colombia's neighbors.
Venezuela and its ally Ecuador have warned the move could aggravate already deep tensions with Colombia.
The two almost went to war last year against Colombia over a raid its army made into Ecuador to destroy a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel camp.
Venezuelan's fiercely anti-US president, Hugo Chavez, said he viewed the bases as a sign a "Yankee military force" was preparing to invade his country from Colombia.
Chavez this week signed deals with Russia reinforcing military ties that have already seen him acquire new tanks, combat helicopters and fighter jets.
He also on Tuesday froze diplomatic links to Colombia over allegations from Bogota that weapons Venezuela bought from Sweden in the 1980s ended up in the hands of the FARC.
Ecuador has cut off links to Colombia since its March 2008 cross-border raid.
In Brasilia, Moratinos said: "We are going to be in contact with Colombia and the United States so they can explain, tell us the reasons for this opening of the bases."
He said that while the use of the bases was a bilateral issue between the United States and Colombia, he hoped the deal "will not create more tensions and, above all, avoid a militarization of Latin America."
Brazil's Lula told a media conference in Sao Paulo that "I'm not happy with the idea of another US base in Colombia," he said, but added that he was not going to criticize Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the matter.
He said the South American Defense Council could be asked to look at the broader issue of border sovereignty in light of the US base announcement.
Bachelet said she, too, respected Colombia's sovereign decisions but noted that "there are countries that are unsettled by this situation."
A broader Union of South American nations gathering in Ecuador which is to include the defense council meeting "will be an opportune time to see... how to come up with a solution permitting all countries to calmly accept this type of decision," she said.
*Source: DTN News / Fox News(Click here for link)(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, U.K. - August 2, 2009: MI5 is facing allegations that it mistakenly recruited Al Qaeda sympathizers who were trying to infiltrate the British secret service. Protester holding up a poster of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer is demanding a probe into claims six Muslims were thrown out of MI5 because of concerns about their past. Two of the six allegedly attended al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan while the others had unexplained gaps of up to three months in their CVs.
Patrick Mercer, a Conservative member of Parliament, is demanding a probe into claims six Muslims were thrown out of MI5 because of concerns about their past.
Two of the six allegedly attended Al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan while the others had unexplained gaps of up to three months in their resumes.
Mercer, counter-terrorism sub-committee chairman, told Sky News that MI5 is believed to have detected two sympathizers at a "fairly early stage" of their secret service training.
The others allegedly did not make it through vetting procedures.
However, Mercer wants clarification on how successful the security services have been at detecting enemy infiltrators.
"This is exactly the sort of work that MI5, MI6 and the other security services should be up to," he said. "Of course, they should be attracting recruits from all sorts of different backgrounds, diverse backgrounds. The fact remains, it is not without risks... a subversive organization that is worth its salt will, of course, try to infiltrate."
A government spokesperson said the service "takes vetting very seriously."
"All candidates are required to undergo the most comprehensive process of security vetting in the UK."
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - August 2, 2009: A Taliban good behavior guide seized by NATO forces in Afghanistan bears no relation to the violent reality on ground, which is contrary to the insurgent group's advice to its fighters, a spokesman for the coalition forces said. Canadian Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay told reporters in Afghanistan the Taliban are falling far short of the goals set out in their "Taliban 2009 Rules and Regulations Booklet," found by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force troops in southern Afghanistan earlier month.
The blue-cover booklet, dated May 9, is believed to be the first of its kind, and preaches a style of warfare based on Islamic law and aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. The guidelines advise Taliban fighters to avoid civilian casualties, limit suicide attacks to high-value targets and establish good relationships with the local people.
"Designed to be prescriptive in how insurgents are to conduct themselves in waging war against the government of Afghanistan, the Afghan security forces and ISAF, it is very telling to see how the actions taken by the insurgents day after day contradict in every way possible their own 'Taliban code of conduct booklet,'" Tremblay said in comments quoted by isria.com, the Web site of ISRIA monitoring service.
The booklet counsels Taliban fighters to "try their best to avoid killing local people," Tremblay noted. "Well, let me tell you that the reality on the ground doesn't reflect this at all," he said.
Since January, Afghan insurgents have killed 450 innocent people and injured more than 1,000 others, he said.
Citing the booklet's recommendation that Taliban fighters behave in a way that wins favor with the local people, Tremblay said the insurgents have targeted more than 40 schools this year and continue to block women's access to education.
"The insurgents intimidate, destroy, suppress and kill everywhere they go, because they are afraid to lose their control over the population," he said.
"For the population, Taliban presence means death and fear, as the insurgents have so many times proven to be ruthless for the people who dare not to cooperate with them or refuse to turn a blind eye to their criminal and brutal activities," he said.
Taliban continue to hide among civilians, take hostages and use them as human shields when confronted by ISAF, U.S. or Afghan security forces, or to use children as suicide bombers.
Of the guidebook's advice that suicide attacks should be limited to "high-ranking people" Tremblay said "the hard reality is that since January 2009, the insurgents have used over 90 suicide bombers -- most of them young men, and in many instances just teenagers and children -- who, through their actions, have killed more than 200 innocent Afghan civilians."
Coalition forces in Afghanistan are working with the Afghans to offer an alternative, he said. "For that compromising core of insurgents whose only goal is to kill and prevent progress to take place in Afghanistan, we will meet them with our persistent presence, alternative livelihoods, good governance opportunities and force, if necessary," Tremblay said.
DTN News: Malaysian Police Use Tear Gas, Water Cannon On Protesters
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - August 2, 2009: Police in Malaysia used tear gas and water cannons to disperse more than 10,000 demonstrators who gathered in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, to protest a law allowing detention without trial.
Local police said close to 600 people, including women and young people under 18, were arrested Saturday outside the national mosque and shopping mall.
Protesters run as Police fire water cannon during an anti-Internal Security Act (ISA) demonstration in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009. Riot police fired tear gas in a clash with at least 10,000 opposition supporters who marched in Malaysia's main city Saturday to protest a law allowing detention without trial.
Authorities set up roadblocks and introduced other security measures to curb rallies organized by supporters and opponents of the country's Internal Security Act. Malaysian authorities banned both demonstrations, saying they would undermine public peace.
Under the law, people considered national security threats can be detained for long periods of time without trials.
Prime Minister Najib Razak urged demonstrators to refrain from rallying, saying the law will be reviewed. In his first act after taking office in May, the prime minister freed 13 people who had been detained under the security act.
But a number of people, most of them suspected of links to terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah, are still detained under the act.
Critics say the law is often used to detain outspoken government opponents. They have also condemned the secrecy and alleged torture linked to the use of the law. But some government officials say it is necessary for national security.
DTN News: Oshkosh Corporation Awarded $1.06 Billion Order For 1,700 Additional M-ATVs
*Source: DTN News / Oshkosh Corporation
(NSI News Source Info) Oshkosh, Wis. - August 2, 2009: Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) announced today that it has received an additional $1.06 billion delivery order from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC).
Oshkosh Defense is committed to providing the best protection and mobility to our Warfighters – in the most threatening of circumstances, through the most treacherous terrain. They deserve a vehicle that is engineered specifically for their difficult missions – to move them in and get them out as safely as possible. They deserve the Oshkosh® M-ATV.
The Oshkosh M-ATV incorporates rugged, durable components and systems for maximum Warfighter mobility and survivability. Derived from the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) platform, the M-ATV incorporates TAK-4® independent suspension system with battle-tested technology. It has the wheel travel, payload capacity, side slope stability, vehicle durability, extreme mobility and necessary Warfighter protection for today’s and tomorrow's fight. In today’s most challenging battle zones, the M-ATV is the combat-tested, mobile, survivable, durable solution – to get Warfighters to the fight and back again. The only solution is the Oshkosh M-ATV.
Oshkosh Defense will deliver 1,700 additional MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) to the U.S. Armed Forces by February 2010. The contract also includes aftermarket parts packages to be supplied by April 2010, along with field service support. The delivery order follows an initial $1.05 billion delivery order Oshkosh Defense received for 2,244 M-ATVs on June 30.
“At Oshkosh, our main focus is to ensure that M-ATVs are waiting in theater for the Warfighters when they arrive, rather than having the Warfighter wait for the vehicle,” said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh Corporation chairman and chief executive officer. “We are confident in our ability to ramp up production to 1,000 per month in December and this additional order will allow us to sustain that rate of production through February 2010.”
Oshkosh also announced it surpassed its first delivery requirements for 45 vehicles in July, by providing 46 units. “The target was 45 but we were able to deliver an additional vehicle. It’s an absolute testament to the quality and spirit of our customer, our employees and our suppliers who have come together to combine resources and work toward achieving a common mission – to serve our troops in Afghanistan,” stated Bohn.
Advance production of the M-ATV began weeks before the first delivery order was awarded. With a highly skilled workforce, decades of continuous production of tactical wheeled vehicles, robust manufacturing capabilities and available capacity, Oshkosh Defense expects to meet the government’s accelerated M-ATV delivery schedule while fully maintaining all other existing and proposed military vehicle programs.
The Oshkosh® M-ATV’s superior mobility, which includes a 70 percent off-road profile capability, is achieved through the incorporation of the Oshkosh TAK-4® independent suspension system. The system has undergone more than 400,000 miles of government testing and is standard equipment on the more than 10,000 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements (MTVR) used by the Marines and Navy Seabees, and also on the Army’s next-generation Palletized Load System (PLS) and the Marine Corps’ Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR).
Oshkosh Defense teamed with Plasan North America to provide an advanced armor solution for the M-ATV. Plasan also developed the armor system used on more than 5,000 legacy MRAPs and thousands of Oshkosh Armored Cab MTVRs already in theater. Visit www.oshkoshdefense.com for specific product information.
About Oshkosh Corporation
Oshkosh Corporation is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty access equipment, commercial, fire & emergency and military vehicles and vehicle bodies. Oshkosh Corp. manufactures, distributes and services products under the brands of Oshkosh®, JLG®, Pierce®, McNeilus®, Medtec®, Jerr-Dan®, BAI™, Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles, Frontline™, SMIT™, CON-E-CO®, London® and IMT®. Oshkosh products are valued worldwide in businesses where high quality, superior performance, rugged reliability and long-term value are paramount. For more information, log on to www.oshkoshcorporation.com
DTN News: US Calls Missile Defense Test In Hawaii A Success*Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - August 2, 2009: The US military said Friday it had carried out a successful test of its missile defense system off Hawaii's coast, as Washington keeps a close eye on North Korea's missile program.
In the test carried out late Thursday, an interceptor missile from a naval destroyer, the USS Hopper, shot down a short-range ballistic missile, the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement. (The US military said Friday ~ July 31, it had carried out a successful test of its missile defense system off Hawaii's coast).
The destroyer's Aegis weapon system "successfully guided the SM-3 (interceptor) to a direct body-to-body hit, approximately two minutes after leaving the ship," the agency said.
"The intercept occurred about 100 miles (161 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean," it said.
On July 4, the US Independence Day holiday, North Korea launched seven missiles into the Sea of Japan in defiance of United Nations resolutions.
It was the biggest salvo of ballistic weaponry since the North fired a long-range Taepodong-2 and six smaller missiles in 2006, also on July 4.
North Korea's long-range missiles in theory could threaten the US Pacific coast, and before July 4 officials in Washington said the regime might launch a missile towards the US island state of Hawaii.
In Thursday's test, the target missile was launched from the island of Kauai and two other warships joined in the test dubbed "Stellar Avenger," which was a joint effort of the US Navy and the Missile Defence Agency.
The latest test marks the 19th successful shoot-down out of 23 tests at sea using the Aegis missile defense system, including knocking out a malfunctioning US spy satellite in February 2008, it said.
Lockheed Martin and New Jersey-based Sensors are main contractors for the Aegis system on naval ships, and Raytheon is the prime contractor for the interceptor missiles.
DTN News: Northern Nigerian City Calm After Week Of Unrest
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - August 2, 2009: Government and health officials in the Northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri cleared bodies from streets Saturday as calm returned after a week of unrest that left hundreds of people dead.
A suspected Islamist sect member captured by Nigerian troops as he lies next to a tree in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Saturday, Aug 1, 2009. Banks and markets reopened in this northern Nigerian city after five days of fierce fighting between police and a radical Islamist sect. The city was largely quiet Saturday, the streets of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, had been cleared of bodies and the blood spilled during gunbattles that left at least 300 people dead.
Police stand alongside bodies of dead Islamic militants, in the street in front of police headquarters in Maidugiri, Nigeria, 29 Jul 2009Police officials are continuing to search for members of the Islamic militant sect known as Boko Haram who are blamed for violence that erupted last Sunday after security forces arrested some of the group's leaders.
For five days, the militants attacked police stations, churches and government buildings. Security forces retaliated later in the week, killing at least 100 Boko Haram members. Officials say thousands of people were displaced by the fighting.
On Thursday, the group's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by police. Officials insist he died in a gun battle near his headquarters in Maiduguri, but international human rights groups have called for an investigation into the killing. Police sharply rejected any suggestion of an extrajudicial killing.
Some reports indicate as many as 600 people died in the unrest. Police say former Borno State commissioner for Religious Affairs Alhaji Buji Fai, who is a Boko Haram supporter, was also killed in the violence. How he died is unclear.Police also have rejected reports that Boko Haram is affiliated with international terrorist groups. A police official, Naralyn Ogar, said that despite calling themselves "the Nigerian Taliban," Boko Haram is a group of religious fundamentalists who have no affiliation with outside organizations.
Boko Haram followers want northern Nigeria to adopt a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Boko Haram, loosely translated, means "Western education is sinful." Nigerian officials have called the group the "Taliban," a reference to militants based in Afghanistan. A dozen of Nigeria's 36 states have introduced strict Islamic law in the past decade.
The country is roughly evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, with Islam predominant in the northern part of the country. Periodic clashes between the two populations have left thousands of people dead in recent years.
DTN News: India Gives Pakistan More Mumbai Attack Evidence
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) Mumbai, India - August 2, 2009: Indian government officials say they have given Pakistan more details from their investigation of last year's Mumbai terrorist attacks, in the hope that this will prompt Pakistan to prosecute a suspected mastermind of the plot.
India's home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, told reporters Saturday that Pakistan now has received four packets of information and evidence about the attacks eight months ago, which killed 166 people.
The Indian minister said all of Pakistan's previous questions about the investigation now have been answered, and that there is enough evidence for Pakistan to prosecute Hafiz Saeed, believed to be a central planner of the three-day terrorist siege in Mumbai. Saeed heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, a reported front for the Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, based in Pakistan, which is accused of carrying out the attacks on India.
The bloodshed severely strained relations between India and Pakistan, and brought the two nuclear-armed neighbors' slow-moving peace process to a halt. Pakistan put Saeed under house arrest in December, but he was released in June by a court that ruled there was insufficient evidence against him.
He is one of 38 people, including Pakistani nationals, who India says were the key figures in planning the guns-and-grenades attacks. India says all 10 gunmen involved in the assault on Mumbai were Pakistanis.
Officials in Islamabad have conceded the attacks were planned, in part on Pakitani territory, but they deny India's assertion that Pakistani government agents were involved. The lone surviving Mumbai gunman, Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, testified in court that he was "waging war" against India at the time.
Pakistan has filed police complaints against at least five suspects, and is searching for at least a dozen others in the case.
DTN News: Vietnam ~ Unexploded Land Mine Contamination Vast Area *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) HANOI, Vietnam - August 2, 2009: More than one-third of the land in six central Vietnamese provinces remains contaminated with land mines and unexploded bombs from the Vietnam War, according to a study released Friday. The maps of bomb and mine areas are seen in front of Palace of Ministry of Defense, where the news conference is held in Hanoi, Vietnam, Friday, July 31, 2009, to release of the report on, "Vietnam unexploded ordnance and landmine impact assessment & rapid technical response". More than one-third of the land in six central Vietnamese provinces remains contaminated with land mines and unexploded bombs from the Vietnam War, according to a study released Friday.
Nearly 35 years after the war's end, Vietnamese civilians are still routinely killed and maimed by leftover mines and other explosives. Vietnam estimates that more than 42,000 people have been killed in such accidents since 1975.
The study by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and Vietnam's ministry of defense provides the most detailed information to date about the amount and location of unexploded ordinance littering a region that saw some of the heaviest fighting and bombardment during the war.
The survey was the result of close collaboration between the United States and Vietnam on one of the most sensitive legacies of the conflict.
In addition to mapping unexploded mines and ordinance, the project, which the U.S. government provided $2 million to finance, involved clearing 3,345 acres (1,354 hectares) of land in 1,361 communities across the six provinces.
But the study also underlines the scope of the mine-clearing work that remains to be done.
Vietnam's Ministry of Defense estimates 16.3 million acres (6.6 million hectares) are still contaminated across the country, said Thao Nguyen, the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation's country director.
"The clearing of unexploded ordinance and land mines is far from finished," Nguyen said.
U.S. Ambassador Michael Michalak said the survey will help set priorities for future clearance work.
"Eliminating residual explosives from past conflicts is an important issue for the people of Vietnam, as it is for the United States," he said.
The U.S. has provided $46 million to help with mine-clearing efforts in Vietnam since 1989, he said.
The study looked in detail at victims in the provinces of Quang Tri, Quang Binh, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Ngai, Nghe An and Ha Tinh.
Thirty-four percent were hurt while scavenging for unexploded bombs to sell as scrap metal; 27 percent were farming or herding livestock; and 21 percent were playing or tampering with the bombs.
The study found the most heavily contaminated provinces were Quang Binh and neighboring Quang Tri, the site of the former demilitarized zone during the war.
Since the war ended, nearly 7,000 people have been killed or injured by leftover ordinance in Quang Tri and 6,000 in Quang Binh, the study found.
DTN News: Cyber-Criminals Targeting Social Networks, Experts Warn
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) VALENCIA, Spain - August 2, 2009: Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites are inceasingly being targeted by cyber-criminals drawn to the wealth of personal information supplied by users, experts warn.
Data posted on the sites -- name, date of birth, address, job details, email and phone numbers -- is a windfall for hackers, participants at Campus Party, one of the world's biggest gatherings of Internet enthusiasts, said.
A vicious virus Koobface -- "koob" being "book" in reverse -- has affected thousands Facebook and Twitter users since August 2008, said Asier Martinez, a security specialist at global IT solutions provider Panda Security.
"Its spread has been very significant and it has been detected in 4,000 different variants," he told AFP at the week-long event which wraps up Sunday in Valencia in eastern Spain.
The virus hijacks the accounts of social networking site users and sends messages steering friends to hostile sites coontaining malware, a malicious software often designed to infiltrate a computer system for illicit purposes.
In one of its variants, Koobface sends the victim a warning that its Flash player is outdated along with an invitation to download a new version, which is is in fact the virus.
Malware can be used to steal bank account data or credit card information once installed on a personal computer.
Facebook has sought to resist attacks by Koobface and similar viruses by blocking links to hostile sites and shutting down accounts from users that show signs of infection, such as sending too many messages.
"You also must be very careful with people who ask to join your friends list," said Laura Garcia, who writes a popular blog about Internet security, adding that hackers often sent requests.
Another danger of social networking sites are the popular quizzes, horoscopes and games made available for free to users which can sometimes be used to hide links to hostile sites, she added.
Birthday greetings and well as messages sent at Christmas and other holidays may also appear to come from friends when in fact they are linked directly to sites that try to convince would-be victims to reveal personal information like passwords or bank numbers, said Martinez.
The vulnerability of social networking sites was underscored in a study by security company Sophos made public earlier this month.
It found that about half of all companies un the United States block some or all access to them due to concerns about cyber incursions via the sites.
Facebook says that less than one percent of its users have been affected by a security issue, such as a virus, since the site opened in 2004.
Garcia said the number of viruses detected in recent years has exploded while the profile of cyber-criminals has changed.
"Before it was very savvy teenagers who wanted to show off their computer skills. Now you don't really need to know much about information technology to be a hacker, all the tools have already been created," she said.
Real cyber-crime mafias have now taken over, especially in Russia, China Brazil and the Ukraine whose goals are purely economic gain, she said, underscoring that hacking could be highly lucrative.
For an initial investment of 1,500 dollars (1,050 euros) for Mpack, a programme created to infect web pages, hackers can obtain a profit of between 21,000 and 847,000 dollars in just one month, Martinez said.
Around 6,000 people are expected to attend the Campus Party, which unites participants from all over the world to share ideas, experiences and all types of activities related to computers, communications and new technology.
The annual event began in Spain in 1997. Editions of the event have since been held in Brazil and Colombia.
DTN News: South Ossetia Claims Georgian Mortar Attack*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TBILISI, Georgia - August 2, 2009: Authorities in the separatist Georgian region of South Ossetia on Saturday said two mortar shells were fired into the territory from Georgia proper. Georgia denied the claim and suggested it was a provocation ahead of the anniversary of last year's war with Russia. A Soviet built multiple rocket launcher, left, fires rockets during a Georgian military exercise, at an undisclosed location in Georgia, Thursday, July 30, 2009. Georgian authorities and South Ossetian separatists are accusing each other of firing shots in the tense region. The region has remained tense after the war in August in which Russian troops quickly routed Georgian forces trying to regain control over Moscow-backed South Ossetia. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another Georgian rebel province as independent nations.
In the wake of the reported attack, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was ready to use force to defend South Ossetia. Russia recognizes the region as independent and has thousands of troops stationed there.
South Ossetia's information ministry said no one was injured by the two mortar rounds that it said were fired from the Georgian hamlet of Ditsi toward a South Ossetian military observation post. The area is a few kilometers (miles) south of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.
Georgia's Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili, however, told The Associated Press: "There was no kind of firing from the Georgian side. Despite the calls (for restraint) by the European Union observer mission on the threshold of the anniversary of the August events, the Russian and Ossetian sides are striving to aggravate the situation."
Georgia and Russia fought a brief but intense war sparked by a fierce Georgian rocket and artillery barrage of Tskhinvali on Aug. 8, 2008. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said the barrage was forced by Russia's sending in waves of troops to the Moscow-backed region, but Russia said it was an attempt to forcefully seize control of the region that had been de-facto independent since the mid-1990s.
The war ended with Georgian forces being driven out of the parts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another separatist region.
Although the war gutted Georgia's military, Russia contends Saakashvili still aims to take Abkhazia and South Ossetia by force, and Moscow has bitterly objected to other countries giving any kind of military aid to Georgia.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement after the reported mortar attack: "In the event of further provocations that present a threat to the population of the republic or to Russian servicemen deployed on the territory of South Ossetia, the Russian Defense Ministry reserves the right to use all available forces and means to protect the citizens of South Ossetia and Russian servicemen."
DTN News: China Firmly Pursues Peaceful Development ~ Defense Minister Liang Guanglie*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - August 2, 2009: China will unremittingly pursue the path of peaceful development and its military will enhance cooperation with foreign armed forces in order to contribute to common development, said Defense Minister Liang Guanglie Friday. Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, who is also member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and a state councilor, speaks at a reception to mark the 82nd founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing, capital of China, July 31, 2009.
"China will develop friendly cooperation with all the countries in line with the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence to make new contributions to building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity," said Liang at a reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to mark the 82nd anniversary of the establishment of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
"Peace and development remain themes of the times, yet the world is not peaceful," said Liang, who is also a member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a state councilor.
China's military would enhance exchanges and deepen cooperation with foreign armed forces to fulfil its international obligations and responsibilities, said Liang.
Liang said "positive changes" in the situation across the Taiwan Straits had helped curb "Taiwan independence" forces, and the two sides have expanded and deepened exchanges and cooperation in fields of economy and culture, among others.
"We will firmly hold the theme of the cross-Straits peaceful development, adhere to the one-China policy, oppose the secessionist activities of 'Taiwan independence' forces and firmly safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity to continue to make due efforts for peaceful development of cross-Straits relationship," said Liang.
In August 1927, the CPC armed forces led an uprising against warlords, which is regarded as the founding day of the services.
"The PLA, focusing on modernization, will keep improving its capacity to deal with crises and safeguard peace, and deterring and winning a war," said Liang.
"The PLA will also prevent antagonistic forces from carrying out separatist and sabotage activities and safeguard national security and social stability," Liang said.
The reception was attended by CMC members Chen Bingde, Li Jinai, Liao Xilong, Chang Wanquan, Jing Zhiyuan, Wu Shengli and Xu Qiliang, army officers in active duty and representatives of retired army officers, as well as foreign military attaches.
DTN News: UN ~ 1000 Afghan Civilians Killed In 2009
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - August 2, 2009: Afghanistan's intensifying conflict killed more than 1,000 civilians in the first six months of 2009, an increase of nearly a quarter over the same period last year, the United Nations said Friday. The UN has said US-led strikes were responsible for a huge number of civilians death in Afghanistan.
This year has been the bloodiest in a Taliban-led insurgency that has drawn thousands of international military reinforcements, most of them deploying into areas where a strong militant presence could prevent August 20 elections.
The boost in troop numbers - now roughly 90,000 - was one reason for the higher toll of 1,013 dead civilians, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Human Rights Unit.
Nearly 60% of the civilian deaths so far this year were caused by insurgents, 30% by pro-government military forces and the rest unattributable to any party to the conflict.
The same period last year saw 818 civilians killed in insurgency-linked violence. In the first six months of 2007, 684 were killed - 41% by security forces and 46% by militants, it said in a report.
"The armed conflict intensified significantly throughout Afghanistan in 2008 and in the first six months of 2009, with a corresponding rise in civilian casualties and a significant erosion of humanitarian space," the unit said.
Reasons for the surge in violence were increased military operations in civilian areas, more complex insurgent attacks and a crackdown on extremists in neighboring Pakistan that forced fighters into Afghanistan.
Militant activity was also sustained during the winter, unlike in previous years when there had been a lull in fighting, it said.
Almost a third of Afghanistan was now directly affected by insurgent activities with civilians bearing the brunt of the fighting, it added.
"In addition to the sharp increase in civilian deaths, vulnerable groups are also suffering in terms of destruction of vital infrastructure, loss of income and earning opportunities, and deterioration of access to essential services."
Most civilians were killed by insurgent bombs, called improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks, the report said.
The widespread use of IEDs "contributes to a climate of fear and intimidation that has significant repercussions for Afghan civilians, including in particular in terms of loss of life and livelihoods," it said.
Militants often target security forces but with no regard for the impact of their operations on civilians, it said.
The unit also said that militants based themselves in civilian areas as part of "an active policy aimed at drawing a military response to areas where there is a high likelihood that civilians will be killed or injured."
A new trend was the use of bombs that could be magnetically attached to vehicles. Schools, particularly for girls, came under increasing attack with 16 IED explosions on school premises this year.
International air strikes killed just over 64% of those civilians killed in military action and 20% of all civilian deaths from January to June, the report said.
These figures were down slightly and followed efforts to minimize the impact of military operations on civilians, the report said.
Such killings by pro-government forces created a "strong feeling of anger and disappointment among the Afghan general public" which undermined support for the international community generally, it said.
More has to be done by all, in particular the armed opposition, to reduce the impact of operations and activities
DTN News: Trinidad and Tobago Orders Four AW139 Helicopters*Source: DTN News / AgustaWestland
(NSI News Source Info) Reston, VA, - August 2, 2009: AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the government of Trinidad and Tobago has signed a contract to purchase four AW139 medium twin turbine helicopters.
The AW139 is a conventional twin-engined transport helicopter with a 5-blade fully articulated main rotor and a 4-blade tail rotor and a retractable landing gear.
The AW139 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6C turboshaft engines. The helicopter is being marketed for use in a number of roles including Law Enforcement/Emergency Medical Service, Executive Transport, Search and Rescue, Maritime and Offshore Oil Operations.
Trinidad and Tobago's Air Guard (TTAG) will establish a dedicated unit to use these helicopters for search and rescue, surface surveillance, law enforcement, drug interdiction and disaster relief operations.
The contract also includes an extensive training and logistical support service for the first five years. The contract, comprising the aircraft and support package, is valued at US$348 million.
A consortium involving AgustaWestland, Bristow Caribbean, FB Heliservices of UK and Helidex of USA will be established to manage the AW139 programme in Trinidad and Tobago with training services to be supplied in Italy, the UK and the USA.
Operations will primarily take place from Piarco International Airport and from offshore patrol vessels, working in conjunction with the Coast Guard. This order marks the establishment of the first Search and Rescue helicopter unit in the country.
Giuseppe Orsi, Chief Executive Officer, AgustaWestland said “We are delighted that the Trinidad and Tobago has selected the AW139 to meet its search and rescue and homeland security requirements. This purchase demonstrates the continued success of the AW139 platform worldwide and in the Central America and Caribbean markets where we see good business opportunities in the future”.
The TTAG joins a number of AW139 operators worldwide including the Spanish Marine Safety Agency, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Italian Coast Guard, the Japanese Coast Guard, the Korean Coast Guard and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in selecting the AW139 for their SAR missions.
The AW139 is the best selling medium twin-engine helicopter in the world. To date, almost 440 orders for this helicopter have been placed by nearly 120 customers in more than 40 countries for a wide variety of applications including EMS/SAR, law enforcement, offshore transport, VIP/corporate transport, fire fighting, utility and other commercial and government roles.
The state-of-the-art AW139 is designed with inherent multi-role capability and flexibility of operation. It offers unmatched performance and safety levels as well as the largest cabin in its class. Large sliding doors enable quick and easy access for fast rope activities.
With a maximum cruise speed of 165 kts (306 km/h), a maximum range of 573 nm (1061 km) and over 5 hours endurance, the AW139 helicopter offers best-in-class mission capability. Cutting-edge mission-dedicated technology and equipment and outstanding performance features enable the AW139 to accomplish the most demanding operations in the harshest weather and environmental conditions