Monday, July 14, 2008

USAF Sees C-27J Potential In Africa

USAF Sees C-27J Potential In Africa July 14, 2008: With a Pentagon procurement slump expected in coming years, the U.S. Air Force is turning to its allies with a strategy to build up capacity, including materiel, training and support, around the world. One area seeing a lot of attention through this strategy is airlift. Among continued efforts with Europe is a push for NATO to procure a C-17 from USAF, on top of the two already on contract from Boeing. The partner nations will also stand up a homebase for the small strategic airlift fleet at Papa, Hungary, and led initially by a USAF colonel. Meanwhile, Qatar also intends to purchase the C-17, says Bruce Lemkin, deputy under secretary of the Air Force for international affairs. Other Middle Eastern nations – likely the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – likewise are considering buying the massive Boeing airlifter. Moreover, airlift is a linchpin for the U.S. cooperation strategy with African nations. Helping African nations develop an intercontinental air transport infrastructure and internal security is a key piece of the U.S. strategy there as the Defense Department sets up a new combatant command to oversee activities on the continent. The command, currently headquartered in Germany, began limited operations last fall and will stand up as its own unified command Oct. 1. But the new command has experienced a bumpy ride already, and not just from frustration in arranging an HQ in Africa. South Africa, which has fostered its own budding aerospace industry, is watching with caution as DOD formally sets up shop on the continent. For his part, Lemkin says that establishing the command could be a “catalyst” for closer relations with the Sub-Saharan powerhouse. The C-27J and the C-130J are both expected to fit into the strategy. Airlift resources are in need in Africa, which lacks robust overland routes; most transport there relies heavily on aviation. Already, 30 nations – including six in Africa – have expressed interest in the new L-3/Alenia North America C-27J transport, which is ideal for outreach to Africa as many of its nations cannot afford larger aircraft. The first foreign military sales (FMS) delivery is expected in 2012, according to Lemkin. To train C-27J crews worldwide, Lemkin says he wants to establish a U.S. facility. Meanwhile, Chad is exploring a purchase of the larger Lockheed Martin C-130J for its air force. Lemkin notes that the U.S. strategy does not focus solely on foreign sales of aircraft. USAF also will insist on support and spares packages for African partners, as well as training program for pilots and maintainers. And Air Force Special Operations Command is already engaged in Africa. Specialized teams are aiding nations around the globe in learning tactics for various missions, including border security and humanitarian assistance.

China's Security Forces Prepare for Olympics

China's Security Forces Prepare for Olympics 14 July, 2008: TAIPEI - China's military and the People's Armed Police (PAP) are preparing for the Aug. 8-24 Olympics with surface-to-air missile batteries and are showing off Snow Leopard Commando units. Beijing has based an unknown number of Hongqi 7 (Red Flag) short-range air defense missiles around Olympic venues. The HQ-7 system is deployed on both ships and ground-based vehicles. The decision seems extreme even for what many describe as a police state, but Patriot air defense batteries were deployed to protect the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Beijing has also announced the deployment of 100,000 police, special units and regular Army units to safeguard the games. Authorities have displayed the Snow Leopard Commando Unit (SLCU), a PAP unit responsible for anti-terrorism and hostage rescue. "A main reason for all the reporting on these forces and other security preparations [on TV and in print] is to demonstrate the skills of these troops and their readiness in order to deter any terrorists who may seek to disrupt the Olympics," said Dennis Blasko, author of "The Chinese Army Today." "Whether these groups can be deterred is another question ... but, so far, everything I have seen about these forces would be considered prudent, professional, in fact essential, preparation for an international event of the magnitude of the Olympics," Blasko said. The Snow Leopards, known as the Snow Wolf Commando Unit until 2007, participated last year in the joint Sino-Russian "Peace Mission" counterterrorism exercise, under the umbrella of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There are questions on how effective the Snow Leopards would be in a real scenario. Many of China's special forces have been used against "terrorists" or "separatists" in the eastern regions of China, including Tibet, but there is little data on how competently these units perform. "That is the true measure of their effectiveness - how they do in a real-world situation," said Blasko, who was a U.S. Army attaché in China in the 1990s. "We may have the opportunity to see them in action in August and September, but hopefully their skills won't be necessary." There are concerns that Chinese security forces could react too violently to peaceful protests at the Olympics. The Falun Gong religious sect, founded in 1992 in China and banned by the Chinese government in 1999, has more than 100,000 members worldwide. Though the organization has not announced any plans for protests in China during the Olympics, the sect has successfully penetrated Chinese security measures in the past.

Da Vinci....Code!!!!

The Hunt Is On for the Hidden Da Vinci
July 14, 2008: "We are talking about the masterpiece of the masterpieces of the Renaissance," Seracini told The Wall Street Journal, "way more important than The Last Supper or the Mona Lisa." Many art historians have gone looking for "The Battle of Anghiari," a mural of war painted about 450 years ago, but rumor had it that Da Vinci had botched it and that a Medici duke had destroyed it. Then more clues began popping up, including an important one Seracini spotted when he was just a young apprentice in 1977. In the famous Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, in a room where Da Vinci's art once donned the walls, Seracini noticed a small cryptic phrase on a painting by Giorgio Vasari. On one tiny green flag, Vasari had written "cera trova," meaning "seek and you will find."

Obama to visit West Bank, Palestinian official says

Obama to visit West Bank, Palestinian official says
July 14, 2008: JERUSALEM -- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will be visiting the Palestinian Authority president in the West Bank next week, a Palestinian government official said Monday. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama talks to a Latino group Sunday in San Diego, California. Obama will be meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on July 23, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said. Obama is expected to visit Israel, but officials could not yet confirm what his plans are there. Erakat was in Paris, France, where Abbas had been attending a summit. The Obama campaign had no comment on the report. Abbas held talks Sunday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of a sweeping summit launching the Union for the Mediterranean, bringing together leaders of more than 40 nations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Erakat said Israeli and Palestinian officials would review the status of negotiations on the sidelines of the Paris summit, discussing Israeli settlement activity, the Gaza border and Palestinian prisoner releases.

Security in Afghanistan, Foreign Missions to be Enhanced: Indian Army

Security in Afghanistan, Foreign Missions to be Enhanced: Indian Army
July 14, 2008: India today said it was deliberating on additional security measures for its missions abroad in the wake of the suicide attack on its embassy in Kabul."We are deliberating on certain additional measures to be taken to ensure security of (embassy) personnel not only in Kabul, but also else where," Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said here.He did not rule out possibility of deploying Army's Special Forces, on the lines of the US' Marine Commandos, for providing security at the embassies abroad. "If the need arises, we can certainly think of deploying Special Forces in addition to the ITBP men already there."Pointing out that the ITBP was doing a good job (of providing security to embassies), Kapoor said India would see how best to secure its missions, if there was greater threat to its buildings and personnel."We will see if there is a requirement to review (the security). If there is heightened requirement and if the ITBP requires assistance, the Army will provide it. We will also look at deploying special forces," he said on the sidelines of an event to distribute welfare measures to disabled ex-servicemen and widows of Army men killed in action.

Analysis: Uzbek uranium exports increase

Analysis: Uzbek uranium exports in increase Jul 14, 2008: Record-high oil prices are causing many nations to re-evaluate other energy options, especially nuclear power, despite its environmental shortcomings. As the number of nuclear plants increases, so will demand for uranium, giving producer nations increased market opportunities. Since 2001 uranium prices have increased more than 1,000 percent; seven years ago a pound of uranium sold for $5 to $10; current spot prices are $59 a pound, but they peaked last year at more than $130 a pound. Last year the International Atomic Energy Agency reported there were 439 nuclear power reactors worldwide in 31 countries generating 372,000 megawatts, with 34 reactors under construction worldwide. For the future the IAEA has revised its estimates of new construction of nuclear power stations worldwide to at least 60 new facilities in the next 15 years. The nuclear issue has even impacted the U.S. presidential race, with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain committing his administration, if he is elected, to begin planning for the eventual construction of 45 new nuclear power plants in the United States by 2030. Europe is similarly interested in expanding its nuclear power industry, which represents 45 percent of the world's currently operating nuclear facilities and 33 percent of new reactor construction. European nations currently operate 197 nuclear power plants generating 169,842 megawatts, and 12 European countries are planning or considering proposals for up to 67 additional reactors. The revival of interest in nuclear power will prove a boon for uranium-producing nations. Canada currently leads global production, with 25 percent of the world's output. Other important uranium mining nations include the United States, Australia, Portugal, Namibia and Niger. It is in the former Soviet Union, however, where several nations are currently experiencing an oil boom, that much of the world's future production will be extracted. Russia and Kazakhstan, already major oil producers, have significant uranium reserves. Kazakhstan is currently the world's third-biggest uranium miner, exceeded only by Australia and Canada; the three countries currently account for more than half of global uranium production. Another former Soviet republic left out of the hydrocarbon rush, Uzbekistan, is poised to enter the world market. According to the IAEA, Uzbekistan has the world's seventh-largest uranium reserves and is the fifth-largest producer. Uzbekistan's State Committee on Geology and Mineral Resources states the country's confirmed and estimated uranium reserves total 185,800 tons scattered across 40 fields. Current world production of uranium is 39,603 tons; according to the Uzbek government, by reopening old uranium mines and beginning work at new uranium deposits, Tashkent intends to increase uranium production to nearly 3,500 tons annually from its 2007 level of 2,270 tons. As Uzbekistan does not currently have its own atomic industry, all of its production of low-enriched uranium is exported, except for that used in two research reactors in Tashkent and Samarkand. All Uzbek uranium production, enrichment and export is conducted by the Navoiiskii Gorno-Metallurgicheskii Kombinat (Navoi Mining-Metallurgical Complex, or NGMK) monopoly, based in Navoi province, now one of the world's Top 10 producers of uranium and gold. According to NGMK Director General Kuvandik Sanakulov, last year the facility began implementing a five-year modernization program that includes equipment renovation as well as opening additional processing plants and mines. Sanakulov said NGMK had received $165 million in additional funding. He said: "We are planning to start operations in several new uranium deposits. We also will increase production of uranium oxide (from older fields) by underground leaching of uranium ore deposits." Among the new sites to be developed is the Northern Kanimekh field. NGMK is not going it completely alone: Germany's Nukem GmbH issued NGMK a $14 million loan for upgrading technological equipment. As for who will be interested in Uzbekistan's uranium production, the usual suspects are China, Russia and the United States. China's voracious economic growth has led its government to prospect for indigenous uranium deposits in order to produce 40 gigawatts of nuclear power electrical generating capacity by 2020. China is also developing a national uranium reserve, but neither goal will be achieved with local sources, as analysts predict by 2017 China's nuclear power plants will consume 44 million pounds of uranium annually, as more than 16 provinces, regions and municipalities have announced intentions to build nuclear power plants by 2015, a total of 77 planned and proposed new reactors. Russia is similarly stymied. While Russian state holding company Atomprom is the world's seventh-largest holder of uranium ore reserves, the third-largest producer of nuclear fuel and the world's fifth-largest miner of uranium, current Russian production is only 3,000 metric tons of uranium ore out of an annual requirement of 18,000 metric tons. Currently Russia's sole uranium deposit is its Streltsovsky mining and chemical plant in Chita. As for the United States, a precipitous rush to judgment by the Bush administration in the aftermath of the May 2005 Andijan tragedy, in which nearly 200 people died, produced a chill in relations between Tashkent and Washington that only recently has begun to thaw. So who is the preliminary winner? South Korea. Earlier this year South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo visited Tashkent as part of his "energy diplomacy" tour of Central Asia. On May 11 Han signed a $400 million agreement with the Uzbek government for the right to import 2,600 tons of uranium between 2010 and 2016. The amount represents about 9 percent of South Korea's annual uranium consumption of 4,000 tons. As the triangular struggle between the West, Russia and China for Central Asia's mineralogical wealth continues, the South Korean-Uzbek uranium deal should serve as a paradigm of Central Asia's determination to sign mutually beneficial agreements rather than exploitative buccaneering capitalist agreements, whereby producers are forced to sell their materials at rock-bottom prices. As Seoul and Tashkent have shown, modest, equitable agreements are preferable to larger, extortionate ones. As Central Asia consolidates its economic and political gains since the 1991 collapse of communism, Washington, Moscow and Beijing should listen, especially if they wish to slake their ever increasing thirst for energy.

Dead Submarines

Living Among Dead Submarines Moscow Jul 14, 2008: Ten years ago Russia started to dismantle nuclear-powered submarines withdrawn from combat duty. This hard and dangerous work is still going on, but the end is in sight. For Russia, maintaining a huge navy turned out to be wasteful and pointless, and so the decision was taken to reduce the number of combat units in the Far Eastern and north-western parts of Russia. Today some 200 Russian nuclear submarines and three nuclear-powered surface ships already pose no threat to any opponent. Yevgeny Kudryavtsev, director of the fuel cycle, waste and decommissioning department at Rosatom (Russian Nuclear Power Agency), says the task of dismantling the surface ships and submarines withdrawn from service is almost accomplished. By 2010 almost all the decommissioned vessels will be dismantled. "Dismantlement" here does not imply complete dismantlement. The submarines have not disappeared. Like dead fish, most parts of the once formidable vessels remain ashore or at anchor. Experts say the total activity of the nuclear waste still aboard the vessels and at naval bases exceeds 25 million Ci. The total weight of contaminated structures subject to dismantlement exceeds 150,000 tons. The reason is that the Russian nuclear industry was simply unprepared to "digest" nuclear waste in such large quantities. An average of 14-16 submarines were withdrawn from service every year, with only three or four of them being dismantled. This soon resulted in the volume of nuclear fuel, unloaded from the submarines and piled up at four coastal engineering facilities, expanding beyond the storage capacity. The infrastructure did not meet security standards, and the risk of accident remained high, with dozens of tons of nuclear fuel and tens of thousands cubic meters of liquid and solid nuclear waste stored at the facilities. The potential radioactivity of the materials stored there exceeded the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. Before 1998 the Defense Ministry was responsible for dismantling naval vessels. Later nuclear engineers were involved, developing special security measures that eventually changed the situation. "Dry" temporary storage was introduced, metal-and-concrete containers were developed, storage areas expanded, and additional trains and special wagons put into operation. Russia alone was not capable of carrying out the whole dismantlement program, and the international community willingly offered money to neutralize the armada of decommissioned Russian submarines. According to the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction program (Kananaskis, Canada), $20 billion were earmarked for dismantlement of nuclear-powered vessels in 2002-2012. Russia's main partners in the dismantlement process are Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Sweden and France. The program was supported by the Northern Dimension fund, the TACIS program (EU program for technical assistance) and the IAEA. Today Russia has agreements with the U.S., Canada, Italy and Japan. Rosatom reports that in the past six years foreign partners have financed the complete dismantlement of 26 submarines, and 14 more vessels are in the line. The bulk of the costs, however, are borne by Russia, which is financing the dismantlement of 70 vessels. The mass of metal that was once Russia's nuclear navy totals 1.5 million tons. The special trains will have to run at least 100 journeys to transfer that daunting mass from Russia's north-west to the Mayak chemicals plant near Chelyabinsk in the Urals, which holds the monopoly on recycling nuclear waste. However, the trains are capable of running only 10-15 journeys a year. This means no rapid evacuation is possible, and the remnants of nuclear submarines will remain on Russia's shores for a long time to come. Theoretically, dismantlement is considered complete after all the nuclear materials and equipment of a submarine are recycled. However, due to a high level of residual radiation, a submarine's reactor plant takes 50-70 years before it can safely be dismantled, unless young physicists invent something new in the meantime. Reactor compartments are therefore extracted from submarine hulls, isolated and put into storage areas. Yet there is a shortage of storage space and some of these compartments are kept afloat. These "floating coffins" worry Russia's European neighbors most, though the situation is improving. With Germany's financial assistance, a long-term storage facility for reactor compartments from all over the north-western part of Russia is being built at the Sayda Bay on the Kola Peninsula. Experts urge people not to yield to radiophobia, as fears of environmental disaster at the dismantlement site are almost baseless. Experts at the All-Russian Scientific Research and Development Institute of Energy Technology in St. Petersburg say that even in a worst-case scenario the expected radiation level will not exceed the current sanitary standards. A gas-aerosol fallout is also possible, but its effect would be insignificant and would pose no threat to the population. The density of fallout on the ground would be low, and no disposal of contaminated water is done at the storage facility. Security of the facility is guaranteed by innovative technologies and well-qualified personnel.

Israeli jets use Iraqi airspace to practice Iran strike: website

Israeli jets use Iraqi airspace to practice Iran strike: website
July 14, 2008: An Iraqi website has claimed that Israeli warplanes have been using Iraqi airspace to practice for possible bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities., quoting unnamed sources in the Iraqi defence ministry, said that for the past month Israel has been using US bases in Iraq to conduct overflights. Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari dismissed the report on Friday. "We have no information about Israeli jets using Iraqi airspace for rehearsals," he told AFP. In Jerusalem, meanwhile, an Israeli military spokesman told AFP he was aware of the report and said, "I have no information on this." The US military did not comment on the report., a news portal, said the defence ministry sources were told by retired army officers that Israeli jets had been entering Iraqi airspace from Jordan and landing at an airport in Haditha in the western province of Anbar. The report said its sources estimated that should the Israeli jets take off from the American bases in Iraq it would take them no more than five minutes to reach Iran's nuclear reactor in Bushehr.

NGC And Oshkosh JLTV Undergoes Successful Armor Testing

NGC And Oshkosh JLTV Undergoes Successful Armor Testing Jul 14, 2008: The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) family of vehicles offered by Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh Defense has undergone successful armor testing as the U.S. Department of Defense nears its selection of competing JLTV teams. Oshkosh and Plasan USA, which was selected to design and engineer the vehicle's armor, conducted ballistic and mine-blast testing on the team's JLTV prototype. After the first round of testing, they found the armor passed all threshold capability and achieved several objective-level force-protection requirements. Plasan is using an advanced composite-technology armor system that maximizes crew protection while keeping weight impact minimal. "Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh have designed a vehicle of unique performance and protection that can provide value to the warfighter today yet is flexible enough to meet the combat requirements of tomorrow," said Joe Gray Taylor, vice president of Ground Combat Systems at Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector. "We particularly took on the challenge of armor volume, applying some of our most innovative thinking to the balance of performance, protection and payload. The results of the armor testing validate our design and prove we are ready to move smartly to the next stage of the development process." One advantage the team has in developing its JLTV armor is the incorporation of a diesel-electric drive system, which eliminates the need for a transmission and conventional drivetrain. This allows for the creation of improved blast protection for the crew. "The innovative use of a diesel-electric system reduces the number of vehicle components and frees up space to allow for increased survivability for the soldiers in these vehicles," said John Stoddart, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president of defense. "Our work with Plasan will provide, as it has in the past, the best crew protection possible." The armor testing was conducted at a world-class testing facility in the United States, used U.S. Army research-laboratory standards and was based on government specifications for the JLTV.

American opinion on India and Indian?

American desis July 14, 2008: What are certain factors that might be shaping the American opinion on India and Indians? As the adage goes Strength recognises strength. In 1911, the LA Times published a headline ‘A Hindu apple for modern Eve: The cult of Yogis lures women to destruction’. In 2001, Time magazine did a cover story on yoga, with an opening paragraph that read: “Stars do it. Sports do it. Judges in the highest courts do it. Let us do it — that yoga thing. A path to enlightenment that winds back 5,000 years in its native India, yoga has suddenly become so hot, so cool, so very this minute.”Perceptions change with time, people and events. For two nations vast and diverse, it is difficult to summarise the “American perception of India” in a short article. In general, Americans treat its foreign population, including Indians with warmth, and my experience has not been much different. Not to deny occasional cases of racial abuses, like against Sikhs, perhaps, mistaking them for Talibans due to their turban and beard, but such incidents do not make the general rule. So what are certain factors that might be shaping the American opinion on India and Indians? As the adage goes ‘Strength recognises strength.’ India’s advances in the economic field in general and IT field in particular, has definitely contributed positively. How can one not take notice when say Tata Motors buys the prestigious Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motors for $ 2.3 billion? Outsourcing and call centers in India will only add to the list of recognising India’s strengths, and even though there have been critics both in media and among the policymakers, overall the American public has not yet shown an animosity and ‘You people are taking our jobs’ attitude towards Indians. In a country where four out of 10 marriages on an average are believed to end in divorce, I have felt that Indian family values is another factor that evokes respect from a good number of Americans. In fact, during a friendly chat with an American cop near my house, he asked me if I was married. Hearing a no, he said, “I am telling you, marry a girl from India, not from here. My wife is Indian and she values family so much.” It has to be mentioned, however, that most Americans find it hard to appreciate arranged marriages. American public’s general knowledge about India leaves much to be desired. Here are some samples questions and statements that have been thrown at me or my friends on various occasions — “So do you speak Hindu or Indian or Arabic?” “So where in India? Bangladesh?” “In 1947, Pakistan won Independence from India.” “I know Mahatma Gandhi and his daughter” — the last one, a reference to Indira Gandhi!! Interestingly, it was not an American but a Chinese colleague of mine who once asked me, “Do kids go to school in India on elephants?”

Sudan head accused of war crimes

Sudan head accused of war crimes July 14, 2008: Sudan says an indictment of Mr Bashir would harm any prospects of peace Sudan's president has been accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Luis Moreno-Ocampo told judges at The Hague that Omar al-Bashir bore criminal responsibility for alleged atrocities committed over the past five years. The three-judge panel must now decide whether there are reasonable grounds for an arrest warrant to be issued. Sudan's government has warned the move will undermine peace process in Darfur. The country does not recognise the ICC and has refused to hand over two suspects who Mr Moreno-Ocampo charged last year, Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmad Harun and militia leader Ali Kushayb. It has also labelled Mr Moreno-Ocampo a criminal, and warned that any indictment could stall peace talks and cause mayhem in Sudan. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this move by this criminal Ocampo The BBC's Laura Trevelyan at The Hague says that while some will welcome this move as a victory for justice, others fear it may spark further violence. The UN estimates that some 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur since 2003, while more than two million people have fled their homes. Sudan's government is accused of mobilising Arab militias to attack black African civilians in Darfur, after rebels took up arms in 2003 - charges it denies. 'Disastrous' Speaking to reporters in The Hague, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he had submitted a report which recommended President Bashir face three charges of genocide, five of crimes against humanity, and two of war crimes. The chief prosecutor said last month that Sudan's "entire state apparatus" had been involved in an organised campaign to attack civilians in Darfur. Thousands of pro-government protestors took to the streets On Sunday, thousands of people rallied in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to show their support for Mr Bashir and to denounce the anticipated charges. "With our souls, with our blood we die for Bashir," the demonstrators chanted outside an office where the president was chairing an emergency meeting. Sudan's representative at the United Nations told the BBC that any charges against Mr Bashir would be disastrous for the security and stability of Sudan. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this move by this criminal Ocampo," said Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad. The ruling National Congress party meanwhile warned of "more violence and blood" in Darfur. Mr Bashir said he had been angered by talk of his possible arrest, but added that it made him more determined to push for peace. I'm very worried, but nobody can evade justice UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "Our decisive response to them is that our issues are progressing and as before, our programmes are moving, and that this matter only increases our determination and seriousness to progress in the same direction," he told state radio. "This talk has angered us and prompted us to move this way. We will move forward, God willing. We are committed to remove the country from a crisis." But a leader of one of the factions of the Sudan Liberation Army rebel group told the BBC it would welcome any action by the ICC. "The regime in Khartoum committed a big crime… We think the ICC is going the right way," Abdul Khalil said. Peacekeeping fears UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the French newspaper, Le Figaro, that he was "very worried" about the possible impact of any indictment on peacekeeping operations and the political process, but added that "nobody can evade justice". Earlier, a UN spokeswoman said it had raised the security alert level for its staff in Darfur. The joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), which has 9,000 troops, has been struggling to contain the violence. The joint UN-AU force has been struggling to bring peace to the region It has raised the security alert for its staff to "level four", which stops short of evacuating all staff, but relocates foreign workers who are not directly involved in relief or security operations. John O'Shea, director of Irish aid agency Goal, warned the Sudanese government and its supporters not to seek revenge against international aid agencies and peacekeepers for the ICC's moves. "Should the Sudanese government take that type of action, they're in a way shooting themselves in the foot," he told the BBC. "The NGO community and the UN agencies have done a very good job in the context of looking after hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and desperately poor people." The ICC was set up in 2002 as the world's first permanent war crimes court. Other international courts have previously indicted Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic and President Charles Taylor of Liberia while they were in office.

Bombardier launches new C-Series jet

Bombardier launches new C-Series jet July 14, 2008: FARNBOROUGH, England — Germany's Lufthansa propelled Bombardier's long grounded, $3.3-billion C-Series jet into the air Sunday morning with a 30-plane order that will eventually create 3,500 jobs in the Montreal area. The deal, announced the day before the opening of the Farnborough air show, was smaller than many analysts had expected. But there were strong rumours, not denied by Bombardier, that the week-long show might produce many more orders for the C-Series. ”We are engaged in active discussions with a number of airlines worldwide,” Pierre Beaudoin, Bombardier's CEO, said at the news conference. The leading potential customers for the 110- to 130-seat plane are Qatar Airways and International Lease Finance Corp., the world's largest aircraft lessor. ”Qatar and ILFC are almost certain,” said Toronto analyst Jacques Kavafian of Research Capital, who is at Farnborough. ”The show's far from over yet. They'll get more.” The Bombardier C-Series: Lufthansa placed a 30-plane order Sunday that will eventually create 3,500 jobs in the Montreal area. The new plane Bombardier CSeries 130- Seats: 120 to 145- Range: 4,074 km- Max. weight: 59 tonnes- Wings: made in Belfast- Fuselage: made in China- Engine: TBA - Rear fuselage, cockpit: made in Saint-Laurent, Que.- Final assembly: Mirabel, Que. - Expected delivery: 2013 The rivals Embraer- Model: Embraer 195- Price: NA - Seats: 108 to 122- Range: 4,074 km- Max. weight: 48 tonnesAirbus- Model: A318- Price: NA- Seats: 107- Range: 5,950 km- Max. weight: 59 tonnesBoeing- Model: Boeing 737-600- Seats: 110 to 132- Range: 5,648 km- Max. weight: 66 tonnes on takeoff.Sources: Chris Hannay, company documents Lufthansa, Europe's second biggest airline, after Air France-KLM, is a loyal Bombardier customer. It was the first buyer of Bombardier's CRJ regional jet, the flying mini-van that went on to dominate the short-haul market. The 30-plane order is not guaranteed, as it is still in the ”letter of intent” stage. But Nico Buchholz, the senior vice-president of the 530-plane Lufthansa fleet, gave every indication letter would be converted to a firm order later this year. ”It's a paperwork issue,” he said. The German carrier was attracted by the 20-per-cent fuel savings over comparable aircraft promised by the new plane. Lufthansa also agreed to take an option on 30 additional aircraft. If all 60 planes are bought, the sale would be worth about $2.8-billion (U.S.) at current list prices. The price of the aircraft is $46.7-million, before any incentives and discounts. Bombardier has ambitious plans for the C-Series, a single-aisle, twin-engine plane that conceived four years ago and shelved in 2006, when the company's sinking order book and financial turmoil gave it neither the confidence nor the financial firepower to take on a bet-the-company project. Aided by booming sales for trains, Bombardier has since reversed its fortunes and is taking on new projects. Gary Scott, the former Boeing executive who is president of Bombardier's commercial aircraft division, said the company estimates the global aviation market will absorb 6,300 aircraft in the 100- to 149-seat range over the next 20 years. ”We expect to take 50 per cent of that market,” he said. In spite of Bombardier's confidence in the jet, it is laying much of the project risk on governments and suppliers. Bombardier plans to spend about $2.6-billion (U.S.) in research, development and engineering, then $700-million in working capital, taking the total to $3.3-billion. Of the $2.6-billion, roughly equal portions will come from Bombardier, suppliers (such as Pratt & Whitney, the maker of the engine for the C-Series) and governments. The Canadian government will put in $350-million, the Quebec government $118-million and the governments of Northern Ireland and Britain £155-million ($311-million Canadian). Northern Ireland and Britain put up the money to secure the right to build the plane's composite wings, a project that will create 800 jobs. The governments' assistance was described as ”repayable loans.” The governments will receive a royalty on each plane produced. If the plane is a sales dud, they will lose money. If it sells well, they will receive all their money back, and possibly more. The Quebec government was thrilled about the launch of the C-Series because of the jobs it will create – 1,000 during the research and development phase, and a total of 3,500 when production gets rolling. Final assembly will take place in Bombardier's plant at Mirabel, north of Montreal. A Saint-Laurent factory will make the aft fuselage and cockpit. Some components will be made in China, although Bombardier is waiting until Tuesday to provide details. ”This [the C-Series] is a good sign of viability across the aerospace industry,” said Claude Lajeunesse, the CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada. He said total direct aerospace employment, which now stands at 82,000, more than half of which is in Quebec, took a dip after Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The launch of the C-Series should push the figure higher, he said, as parts suppliers set up shop in Canada. While the C-Series would compete with the Boeing 737, the Airbus 320 and their variants, Bombardier is apparently emboldened by lack of plans by either manufacturer to replace the small jets with more efficient models in the near term. Boeing did not comment on the C-Series on Sunday. But Boeing's Commercial Airplanes marketing chief, Randy Tinseth, suggested in a conference call on Wednesday that the Bombardier plane may not offer the savings that small jet customers are seeking. He said Boeing is watching the market for short-haul aircraft "very closely.”