DTN News: Iraq To Fetch MiG-21s And MiG-23s Fighter Planes From Serbia
*Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) BAGHDAD, Iraq - August 31, 2009: An Iraqi military delegation has gone to Serbia to bring back 19 MiG fighter planes that Saddam Hussein's regime sent for servicing 20 years ago, the defence ministry said on Saturday. (Image: MiG-23 Flogger Fighter Bomber)
"General Othman al-Fredji, a defence ministry adviser, and Anwar Mohammed Amin, head of the air force, are in Serbia negotiating the return (of the planes) at the earliest possible date," spokesman General Mohammed al-Askari said.
The Soviet-built MiG-21 and 23 aircraft, whose existence has just been discovered, "were sent by Saddam's government in 1989 for maintenance and everything was paid for with Iraqi money," he said.
Askari said the planes are important for Iraq as "our air force only possesses helicopters."
The former Yugoslavia was a major exporter of arms to Saddam's dictatorship before breaking up in the 1990s.
Askari said the ministry "is searching in the United States, France, Italy, Russia and some Arab countries to locate funds or military equipment that the former government bought for its army."
Iraq has found two navy vessels belonging to it in Egypt and two others moored in Italy as well as "aircraft and equipment in Russia and France," the spokesman said, without giving further details.
DTN News: US Considers Alternative To Europe Missile Sites ~ Report
*Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - August 31, 2009: The US government has developed possible alternative plans for a missile defense shield that could drop proposed missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Citing unnamed administration officials, the newspaper said the change would please Russia and Germany but could sour relations with US allies in Eastern Europe.
Barack Obama administration officials said they hoped to complete their months-long review of the planned antimissile system as early as next month, possibly in time for Obama to present ideas to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting in New York during the annual opening of the UN General Assembly, the report said.
But they cautioned that no decisions had been made and that all options were still under discussion, the paper noted.
The Obama review team plans to present a menu of options rather than a single recommendation to a committee of senior national security officials in the coming weeks, The Times said. Only after that would the matter go to cabinet-rank officials and the president.
The paper said that among the alternatives are dropping either the Polish or Czech site, or both sites, and instead building launching pads or radar installations in Turkey or the Balkans, while developing land-based versions of the Aegis SM-3, a ship-based anti-missile system.
Officials said the changes would be intended not to mollify Russia, but to adjust to what they see as an accelerating threat from shorter-range Iranian missiles, according to the report.
People following the review, including anxious officials in Eastern Europe, said they thought that the administration was preparing to abandon the Polish and Czech sites, The Times noted.
"It is clear that Eastern Europe is out of the epicenter of this American administration," the paper quoted Piotr Paszkowski, a spokesman for Poland’s foreign minister, as saying. "The missile defense system is now under review. The chances that it will be in Poland are 50-50."
DTN News: Northrop Grumman, Boeing Eager To Resume Tanker War ~ Northrop Grumman Win Could Mean 1,500 Jobs For Mobile*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LOS ANGELES, USA - August 31, 2009: With a new round of competition set to begin in the next couple of weeks, officials with Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. said they're eager to resume their battle for the U.S. Air Force's refueling tanker contract.
"This is a big one. And it's a big one for both sides," said Paul Meyer, head of Los Angeles-based Northrop's tanker program. "We're ready to get to it."
Top Air Force officials said last week they hope to reopen bidding on the potential $40 billion contract soon after lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., from their summer recess. Congress is scheduled to reconvene Sept. 8.
The stakes could not be much higher. New tankers are the Air Force's top priority, and the contract ranks among the biggest ever awarded by the Pentagon. For Mobile, a win by Northrop and its bidding partner, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., would bring construction of a $600 million, 1,500-worker aircraft production plant.
For Chicago-based Boeing, a win would secure thousands of aircraft assembly jobs in Washington state and Kansas, both hard-hit by the economic downturn. It also would keep the company's lock on the Air Force tanker business, a franchise it has held for nearly 50 years, and deal a blow to archrival Airbus.
Airbus, an EADS subsidiary, has announced plans to add assembly of commercial A330 freighters in Mobile, contingent on winning the tanker work. The facility would give Airbus a long-sought foothold on U.S. soil and establish a Southern center of aircraft production to rival Boeing's operations in the Pacific Northwest.
"This competition is a top priority for Boeing," said spokesman Bill Barksdale. "It's significant because we feel it is a long-term business for us, and we want to keep it."
Northrop and Boeing waged a fierce, politically charged contest for the contract last year. Northrop, offering a larger, more capable tanker based on an Airbus A330 jet, shocked observers by beating Boeing and its smaller KC-767, which had been heavily favored to win.
The contract for 179 planes was designed to be the first of three phases to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of more than 500 KC-135 Stratotankers, which average nearly 50 years in service and are becoming increasingly costly to operate.
The deal unraveled last fall after federal auditors, acting on a protest filed by Boeing, found problems with the way the Air Force conducted its evaluation. That led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to order a new competition beginning this year.
Since then, both the companies and the Air Force have been preparing for the rematch.
"A lot of people are working very hard on this to make sure that this is done perfectly right," said David Van Buren, the Air Force's top acquisition official. "Right now, we're in a period of reviewing all of the documentation and making sure that it meets everybody's expectations."
Van Buren said he anticipates that the Pentagon will release a draft version of its request for bids "after the Hill reconvenes after Labor Day."
Under that timeline, a final version of the bidding criteria would be issued by January, and a winner would be selected next summer. Gates and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley remain committed to a winner-take-all contest, even as a proposal to split the order continues to circulate through Congress.
"I think if (a dual buy) is structured in a way that saves costs, you could see support for it," said U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham.
Davis added that a compromise may be the only way to break a political stalemate between the two rival teams. "Otherwise, we'll be right back in this mess two years from now. And we can't wait that long for a modern tanker."
Meyer, a former fighter pilot now known as Northrop's "Mr. Tanker," said he's eager to get back into the ring with Boeing.
"They didn't believe we were a serious contender in the first round. Now they know," he said. "I think they'll sharpen their offer, just as we will. We'll both play hard, and we'll both bring out the best we've got. And when you get that kind of vigorous competition, the Air Force should be the beneficiary."
DTN News: Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir ~ Pakistan Renames The Northern Areas As Gilgit-Baltistan
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - August 31, 2009: In a move with far-reaching implications, the Pakistan government on Saturday approved a self-governance and reforms package for the Northern Areas, renaming it as "Gilgit-Baltistan", part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Pakistani Rangers (black uniform) and Indian Border Security Forces perform in the daily retreat ceremony at the Indo-Pakistan Wagah border on August 28, 2009. Pakistan has undergone a dramatic policy shift to recognise Taliban rebels as a major threat, but is more ambivalent on liquidating Islamists trained to fight the ultimate nemesis: India. India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since 1948 -- twice over the disputed territory Kashmir. Pakistan lost each time, culminating with the loss of a sixth of its land as East Pakistan became Bangladesh.
The strategically located Northern Areas, which borders the North West Frontier Province to the west, Afghanistan and China to the north and Jammu and Kashmir to the east, will have rights akin to those of Pakistan's four provinces, said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The "Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009", unveiled by Gilani at a news conference, is also aimed at giving the Northern Areas "full internal autonomy" and changing the region's name to Gilgit-Baltistan.
The order will come into effect after President Asif Ali Zardari formally ratifies it by issuing an official notification.
Federal Minister Farooq Sattar told reporters separately that elections will be held in the Northern Areas in the next three months to install a government like the one in PoK.
Sattar also said a cabinet committee will be constituted to "remove hurdles for merging Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan in accordance with the resolutions of the UN".
India says that the Northern Areas are part of its territory as they were part of Jammu and Kashmir.
The new package for the Northern Areas was approved earlier on Saturday by a special meeting of the cabinet chaired by Gilani. The Prime Minister said the issue was finalised only after consulting all stakeholders, including the foreign ministry and the government of PoK.
Asked why the Northern Areas were not given the status of a province, he said, "Like in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), we are giving them the rights of the provinces but according to the constitution, we can't (give them the status of a province)."
The proposed Gilgit-Baltistan assembly will frame its own rules of procedures while legislation on governance will be formulated by the council and assembly, Gilani said.
There region will have a Governor who will be appointed by the President and a chief minister elected by the assembly.
The assembly will have 24 directly elected members.
Till the election of a new assembly, Kashmir and Northern Areas Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira will act as Governor,he said.
The government's move is apparently aimed at addressing complaints from the people of the Northern Areas that they had no representation in the National Assembly and that the Pakistani constitution did not apply in their region.
Some groups in the Northern Areas had also launched a movement for the creation of an independent Balawaristan, the ancient name for the region.
DTN News: Lockerbie Bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi Release "Linked To Oil Deal" ~ Report
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, U.K. - August 31, 2009: Britain agreed to include Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi in a prisoner transfer deal with Libya because of "overwhelming interests" shortly before an oil deal was sealed with Tripoli, a newspaper reported on Sunday. Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, left, meets Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi at the G8 Summit in L'Aquilla. Italy Friday July 10, 2009. Brown called on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to help return a British child he said was abducted by her father and taken to Libya. Brown's office said Friday he had asked Gadhafi in talks on the sidelines of the G-8 summit to intervene in the case of 6-year-old Nadia Fawzi, alleged to have been taken from northern England to Libya in 2007. Gadhafi raised the case of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan found guilty of blowing up an airliner over Scotland in a 1988 attack that killed 270 people.
The Sunday Times said leaked letters from Justice Secretary Jack Straw undermined government denials of a link between the former Libyan agent's freedom and British trade interests.
Megrahi, 57, was released from jail on August 20 after Scottish authorities said his terminal cancer gave compassionate grounds for him to return home to die.
The British government has distanced itself from the decision, made by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, which has angered many relatives of the bombing's victims and the United States government, which lost 189 citizens.
Megrahi was the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed 270 people. His rapturous reception in Tripoli has been criticized by the British and U.S. governments.
The Sunday Times said two letters from Straw, dated five months apart, showed he reversed an original plan to exclude Megrahi from a prisoner transfer agreement that was being discussed with Libya.
The paper said the change of heart appeared to be linked to a stalled $900 million oil and gas exploration deal with Libya for British oil giant BP that was ratified a few weeks later.
BP has always denied any link between the deal and the prisoner agreement.
Straw wrote to MacAskill in July 2007 to say he favored excluding Megrahi from the prisoner transfer, an arrangement desired by the Scottish administration which has autonomous powers over most criminal matters.
But by December 2007 he told MacAskill his position had changed.
"The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the (prisoner transfer agreement) should be in the standard form and not mention any individual," the Sunday Times quoted Straw as writing.
Straw told BBC radio the alleged link between trade and Megrahi's release was an "absurd confection."
"The suggestion that at any stage there was some kind of backdoor deal done over Mr Megrahi's transfer because of trade is simply untrue," he said
The negotiations on prisoner transfers were part of a "normalization process" with Libya, he said.
London had made clear to Tripoli that Scotland would retain an absolute right to refuse a prisoner transfer, he added,
Straw said the issue was "academic" given that Scotland eventually released Megrahi on compassionate grounds and not under the transfer agreement.
DTN News: Pakistan TODAY August 31, 2009 ~ Supply For NATO Stops After Row With Afghans
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) QUETTA, Pakistan - August 31, 2009: Fuel and other supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan were stopped as traffic on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border remained suspended on Saturday because of a row over search of goods trucks coming from Afghanistan. Trucks carrying goods for US and NATO forces are parked on the middle of the road on Pak Afghan Border in protest against the behavior of the security forces personnel.—Online
Hundreds of trailers carrying fuel and other supplies, including food, military equipment and vehicles, were stuck up in the border town of Chaman.
According to sources, about 300 vehicles are stuck in the Pakistani border area. A large number of vehicles loaded with fruit and other goods are also stuck on the Afghan side of the border.
The sources said that the row broke out on Friday after Pakistani border officials asked Afghan drivers of trucks carrying grapes and other fruit to unload their goods for search.
The drivers refused to do so, saying the unloading would spoil the fruit.
The officials said they would not allow entry of trucks without checking. ‘We cannot change our method of checking,’ a senior border security official said.
The Afghan drivers alleged that the border officials demanded money for clearing the trucks. Pakistani officials denied the allegations.
Meanwhile, Afghan traders stopped entry of trucks and other vehicles carrying Nato supplies into Afghanistan in protest against the Pakistan government’s decision.
The Chaman Chamber of Commerce of Industry expressed concern over the issue and said that traders would suffer huge losses if the dispute remained unresolved.
DTN News: China TODAY August 31, 2009 ~ China Launches Solar Power Project
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - August 31, 2009: China has begun construction of a 500-megawatt solar power plant in the country's central Hubei province, officials said.
The plant is being built in the provincial capital of Wuhan at a cost of $450 million. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, center, holds a solar panel with movie actor Jet Li, right, during a visit to launch a solar-power road lamp project in a village in Guiyang, China Saturday Aug. 22, 2009.
The project is a joint venture between Greenway Solar-Tech Co. Ltd. Of China and the Evergreen Solar Inc. of the US, said Ding Kongxian, chief executive officer of the US firm, Saturday. The construction of the plant will be completed in the next three years. A worker controls the production line of the silicon chips which used for making photoelectric board product at the plant of Tianwei Yingli Green Energy Resources Co. , Ltd on August 24, 2009 in Baoding, China. China's top economic planning agency will soon submit a draft support plan of the country's new energy industry to the State Council for approval, a plan that would focus on nuclear power and renewable energy as wind and solar power, according to an official of the National Bureau of Energy.
The Evergreen Solar Inc., a Nasdaq-listed company, makes products such as solar cells, panels and systems.
DTN News: Technology TODAY August 31, 2009 ~ Indian Scientists Hail Aborted Lunar Mission
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - August 31, 2009: The head of India's state-run space agency on Sunday hailed the country's first moon mission a success, despite losing contact with the spacecraft. Indian Space Research Organization scientists address a press conference after the successful launch of India's maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1, or "Moon Craft" in ancient Sanskrit, at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) north of Chennai, India. India launched its first mission to the moon Wednesday, rocketing the satellite up into the pale dawn sky in a two-year mission to redraw maps of the lunar surface.
"The mission was a great success," G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told reporters in the state capital of Goa, Panaji, where a conference on low-budget space missions opens this week.
Nair, who said 95 percent of the Chandrayaan-I project's objectives had been completed, admitted scientists were disappointed with the development, but said a "large volume" of data was collected, including 70,000 images of the moon.
India launched the unmanned satellite and put a probe on the moon's surface to great fanfare and national pride late last year, propelling the country into the league of space-faring nations.
ISRO announced on Saturday that the 80-million-dollar project was over after losing radio contact with the satellite early on Friday, blaming a computer malfunction for cutting communications.
The satellite is now likely to crash onto the moon's surface.
The mission had been expected to last two years and was intended as a first step towards landing an unmanned moon rover by 2012. India also aims to launch satellites to study Mars and Venus as well as a manned space flight by 2020.
Nair told a news conference that a formal inquiry into what went wrong would be launched as a matter of course to learn lessons for future projects. In this Oct. 22, 2008 handout file photograph provided by the Indian Space Research Organization, India's maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1, or Moon Craft in ancient Sanskrit, is seen successfully taking off at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) north of Chennai, India. India became the fourth nation to mark its presence on the Moon after a Moon Impact Probe painted with the national tri-color successfully landed on the lunar surface after being detached from the unmanned spacecraft Chandrayaan-1, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation.
But he added: "We have found that all the instruments on the spacecraft worked satisfactorily and the entire scientific instruments have performed. That is how we could collect a large volume of data.
"We survived for 315 days, which is a good record. Many such experiments have burnt within a month in the past."
DTN News: Hong Kong TODAY August 31, 2009 ~ Clare Hollingworth, Doyenne Of Reporters Still Proud Of World War II Scoop
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) HONG KONG - August 31, 2009: Seventy years after the outbreak of World War II, the veteran British war correspondent who brought news of that moment to the public remains intensely proud of her achievements.
Now 97, Clare Hollingworth broke the story in 1939 of Germany's invasion of Poland.
Bespectacled and frail, she says if she had her way, she would still be covering the world's news hotspots.
"If there is a war, and if the world wants, I would like to cover it," she told AFP.
Hollingworth is almost blind. Her hearing and memory are failing her, especially after a stroke early this year. She can stand only with a stick and when seated keeps a firm hold on the hand of a domestic care-giver. (Image: Clare Hollingworth, Doyenne Of Reporters Still Proud Of World War II Scoop)
Yet hard as it is to imagine, seven decades ago this woman drove on her own into German territory to see for herself the launch of Hitler's Nazi war machine.
It was late August 1939 and Hollingworth's first week working as a journalist in Poland, despatched there by The Daily Telegraph to cover the worsening security situation in Europe.
The 27-year-old lodged with the British consul-general in Katowice, a city near the German border that was closed to all but diplomatic vehicles.
With characteristic boldness, she decided she would borrow the consul's car to venture into Germany.
Driving along a road, the wind suddenly blew off screens of hessian and revealed to her large numbers of German troops, hundreds of tanks, armoured cars and field guns, all facing Poland and ready for action.
Back in Katowice she relayed the scene to the consul-general, who listened in disbelief, not even sure it was possible to get into Germany.
But he grew convinced when Hollingworth opened the car door to show off purchases she had made across the border that were unavailable in Poland -- bottles of wine, electric torches, and films.
The consul promptly locked himself in his office and enciphered the top secret message to the Foreign Office via the British Embassy in Warsaw.
Hollingworth recorded in her autobiography "Captain if Captured" how she also sent her own message to Warsaw, dictating her story to a colleague there, who relayed it to The Daily Telegraph within minutes.
On September 1, it was Hollingworth who, at the crack of dawn called the British Embassy to tell the officials there that the war had begun, after she was woken up by the roar of Nazi aircraft and tanks in Katowice.
Hollingworth said she had to hold the telephone out of her bedroom window to convince the Embassy her story was true -- Britain at that time still believed there was a chance they could stop the war by negotiating with Hitler.
Hollingworth has since recounted the story that ensued, hundreds, if not thousands of times, to colleagues, friends, journalists and in her books.
But she has now forgotten a large part of her extraordinary experience, except patchy images of herself braving the danger and chaos at the frontline when Nazi planes dropped bombs over Poland.
"I wish I could remember more. It meant a lot to me," she said.
The stint was to be the beginning of Hollingworth's distinguished life-long career as a war correspondent, in which the highlights read like a history of 20th century conflict.
It was she who revealed the move towards peace talks between Hanoi and Washington at the end of the Vietnam War and she who discovered the defection of British spy Kim Philby to the Soviet Union.
In 1946 Hollingworth and her late husband Geoffrey Hoare narrowly escaped death when terrorists blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem, where they were staying, killing 91 people.
Born in 1911, the idea for her future career was implanted early in life during World War I. She dates her interest from a trip in a trap, drawn by her pony Polly, to inspect the effects of German bombing close to her home in Loughborough, central England.
Despite her advanced years, Hollingworth retains a toughness developed from a lifetime as witness to war's horrors in such places as Vietnam, Algeria, the Middle East, India and Pakistan.
Until recently, Hollingworth daily phoned her former colleagues on the London newsdesk to "check the news" from her Hong Kong home, and would from time to time sleep on the floor "just to see if I can still do it".
Despite her frailty, the doyenne of war correspondents insists on paying daily visits to the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club, where she is highly respected by staff and members alike.
There, she sits at her favourite corner table and puts on headphones to listen to BBC World news programmes. Her helpers say she has no time for non-news related television or radio programmes.
Her great nephew Patrick Garrett, who is writing a book on Hollingworth's life, said she remained as proud of her profession as in her younger days.
"She would still say I am a correspondent, I am a journalist -- not a retired, elderly woman," he said.
DTN News: Singapore TODAY August 31, 2009 ~ SM Goh To Visit Libya For 40th National Day Celebrations*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - August 31, 2009: Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong will be visiting Libya from Monday to September 2. He will be representing Singapore at celebrations marking Libya’s 40th year of independence.
Mr Goh will be accompanied by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education S Iswaran, and will meet with senior members of the Libyan government in the capital, Tripoli. (Image: SM Goh to visit Libya for 40th National Day celebrations)
Economic ties between the two countries have strengthened significantly since diplomatic relations were established in 2006. Between 2007 and 2008, trade grew from S$93 million to S$406 million.
To date, Singapore companies have also secured over S$2 billion in projects across the construction, water infrastructure and capability development sectors.
The Libya—Singapore Joint Working Group was established shortly after Mr Goh’s first visit to Libya in May 2008. It is a key economic platform for the two countries to promote bilateral cooperation.
Both sides signed an Investment Guarantee Agreement and the Avoidance of Double Taxation Convention in April this year, but the agreements have yet to be ratified.