Monday, June 29, 2009

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY June 29, 2009 - Pakistani Army Trying To Eliminate Self Created Monster 'Taliban'

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY June 29, 2009 - Pakistani Army Trying To Eliminate Self Created Monster 'Taliban'
*Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - June 29, 2009: Pakistani aircraft bombed Taliban on Sunday in their bastion of South Waziristan on the Afghan border after the militants attacked two military camps, killing two soldiers, officials and residents said.
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers observe area from a rooftop of a checkpoint at Abbato Karaz village near Chaman, a town in Pakistan, southwest along Afghanistan border, Sunday, June 28, 2009. Pakistani authorities beefed up security and vigilance to nab Taliban militants fleeing neighboring Afghanistan.
The military, near the end of an offensive in the northwestern Swat Valley after two months of fighting, is preparing to launch a new drive in South Waziristan, where Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud is based.
The decision to go on the attack against the militants came after Taliban gains raised fears of the militants gradually taking over more of the country and even posing a risk to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
The campaign has broad public support and has also won the praise of close ally the United States, which needs Pakistan to go after the militants as it tries to defeat al Qaeda and stabilise Afghanistan.
Sunday's air strikes were on two villages in Laddah district, a Mehsud stronghold, and two militant compounds were destroyed, said a government official and residents.
It will take a concerted and long-standing effort to rid Pakistan of the extremists. The latest deadly bomb attack in the Pakistani city of Lahore has once again highlighted the threat posed by the Taliban. The militants now face a much more determined government, people and army - but there is a long way to go, argues guest columnist Ahmed Rashid.
"It was a heavy bombing. Two militant compounds and several houses have been completely destroyed," said the government official in South Waziristan's main town of Wana, who declined to be identified.
The air strikes came after militants attacked an army and a paramilitary camp east of Wana on Saturday night, killing two soldiers and wounding four, said the government official.Intelligence officials later said eight militants had been killed.
The government has said Mehsud, who carries a $5 million U.S. reward on his head, and his force of thousands of followers must be defeated.
The government posted in a newspaper on Sunday a reward of 50 million rupees ($615,000) for Mehsud, and 75 million ($920,000 ) in rewards for 10 of his top men.Mehsud, who security analysts say has become increasingly close to al Qaeda, has been accused of a string of attacks in Pakistani towns and cities including the December 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Mehsud is allied with Afghan Taliban fighters but they concentrate on attacking U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan and are not the focus of the Pakistani offensive.With an increase in military attacks on Mehsud in South Waziristan, about 45,000 people have fled from the area, according to military estimates.
Nearly 2 million people have fled from fighting in Swat and other parts of the northwest since late last year but aid workers are not expecting a huge exodus from South Waziristan as the population there is relatively small.
Also, many people have winter homes on the lowland to the east and traditionally migrate to higher-altitude South Waziristan with their flocks for summer grazing.High civilian casualties in the fighting would raise the risk of an erosion of public support for the offensive.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday now was the time for decisive action against the militants, while a Taliban spokesman from Swat said they would never give up.
"We'll continue our fight until we achieve our goals," the spokesman, Muslim Khan, said by telephone.
Khan, who said he was speaking from Swat, said Taliban leaders were alive and determined to fight on.
"We retreated according to our plan. We'll carry out guerrilla attacks ... It's a long battle," he said.

DTN News: Slovak Army Orders 10 Iveco-Built LMVs

DTN News: Slovak Army Orders 10 Iveco-Built LMVs *Sources: DTN News / Iveco
(NSI News Source Info) BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - June 29, 2009: Iveco Defence Vehicles announces that on June 23, 2009 the Slovak Army and Iveco signed a contract for a batch of 10 Light Multirole Vehicles to be delivered by the end of the year. The LMV is a purpose built military vehicle which nonetheless benefits from the use of many commercial components. Rugged and highly mobile, it is designed as a chassis cab which permits the installation of many different modules including a cargo platform, an ambulance and a weapon carrier.Anti-mine protection has also been given a high priority, with the over-riding aim being to ensure the survival of the crew. Since LMV’s first deployment to Afghanistan, IVECO’s integrated solution has ensured the survival of all of its occupants. whenever the vehicle has been attacked.The LMV was selected for front line duties by the following armies: Italy (1260 units), UK (401 units), Spain (120 units), Norway (60 units), Belgium (440 units), Croatia (10 units), the Czech Republic (21 units) and, most recently, Austria (150 units). Flavio Marchesoni, Sales & Marketing Director of Iveco Defence Vehicles said: “This contract win builds on the success of the LMV which has been selected for front line duties by 9 armies to date”. Designed to incorporate high tactical mobility with high maximum road speed and optimal off-road and cross-country performance, the LMV has high protection levels against anti tank and anti personnel mines with an emphasis on crew protection rather than vehicle integrity. High reliability, ease of maintenance and low through life costs were key considerations during the design of LMV. Built in and external diagnostics allow timely identification of impending malfunctions, allowing preventive maintenance to be undertaken, whilst the facility to collect functional data allows effective whole fleet management. The use of COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) main assemblies such as the gearbox and engine ensures that performance and reliability have been proven over many millions of road miles in demanding environmental conditions. This provides an outstanding level of reliability and consequently excellent fleet availability. The LMV is suitable for numerous weapon system installations such as 7,62mm or 12.7mm remote weapon stations as well as 40mm grenade launcher and is therefore well adapted to any peacekeeping and patrol mission. The provision of anti-mine protection has also been given a high priority, with the over-riding aim being to ensure the survival of the crew. To this end, a normal control cab has been used and the results of the latest research into mine protection has been incorporated, including a vee-shaped vehicle bottom. This can be up-armoured as required to meet the appropriate level of threat. The overall structure of the vehicle has been designed in accordance with the ‘crashworthiness’ concept. The design of the vehicle itself and the materials which have been used in its construction are specifically designed to manage and absorb the blast energy generated by a mine detonation. Since the beginning of operations in Afghanistan, the high protection of the LMV has proved its worth in saving the life of the crew in many occasions.

DTN News: Boeing, NASA And NOAA Receive 1st Signal From GOES-O Satellite Following Successful Launch

DTN News: Boeing, NASA And NOAA Receive 1st Signal From GOES-O Satellite Following Successful Launch *Sources: DTN News / Boeing Company
(NSI News Source Info) EL SEGUNDO, Calif., - June 29, 2009: The Boeing Company, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have received the first on-orbit signals from GOES-O, indicating that the Earth-observation satellite is healthy and operating normally. Controllers confirmed initial contact with the spacecraft at 12:25 a.m. Eastern time at a ground station on the Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian Ocean. A new weather satellite – one that should bolster hurricane predictions – was scheduled to be launched from Cape Canaveral this evening. Alas, the space shot has been delayed a minimum of two months. Once fully operational, the GOES-O satellite will send back high resolution images of tropical storms (and other severe weather systems).That should help forecasters improve both track and intensity predictions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. However, the satellite won’t be available to help out the National Hurricane Center this season, center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. “It will actually be in standby mode,” he said. The $499 million satellite will settle into orbit 22,000 miles above Earth. NOAA, parent agency of the National Hurricane Center, hopes it remain in good working order for the next 10 years.* "We are very pleased to report that GOES-O is performing as planned, and we will continue to support this satellite through handover to NOAA so that it can fulfill its mission of providing critical, life-saving weather information,” said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "The launch of GOES-O is a testament to the collaborative teaming and commitment of our employees to provide best-of-industry, next-generation environmental systems to NASA and NOAA." GOES-O was launched on a Delta IV rocket yesterday at 6:51 p.m. Eastern time from Space Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Boeing commercial launch business Boeing Launch Services procured the vehicle and mission services from United Launch Alliance. Today's signal acquisition marks the second successful launch in the GOES N-P series and the latest step in enhancing NOAA’s Earth-observation and weather-monitoring capabilities. GOES-O, which is designed for a minimum orbit life of 10 years, will be placed in on-orbit storage and may replace an older GOES satellite in 2010. Together with GOES-13 (formerly GOES N), which launched on May 24, 2006, GOES-O will provide complete coverage of the Western Hemisphere. The three-axis Boeing 601 spacecraft includes an imager that produces visible and infrared images of the Earth’s surface, oceans, cloud cover and storm developments; a multispectral sounder that provides vertical temperature and moisture profiles of the atmosphere; and a solar X-ray imager that monitors the sun’s X-rays for early detection of solar flares. GOES-O also carries space environment monitoring instruments that will measure X-rays and extreme ultraviolet and particle emissions, including solar protons, alpha particles and electrons. The GOES-O communications subsystem also includes a search-and-rescue capability to detect distress signals from ships and airplanes. Boeing built GOES-O for NASA and NOAA at the company's satellite manufacturing facility in El Segundo, which encompasses 1 million square feet of assembly, integration and testing facilities. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

DTN News: Northrop Grumman And U.S. Air Force Unveil Next-Generation Of High-Flying Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft

DTN News: Northrop Grumman And U.S. Air Force Unveil Next-Generation Of High-Flying Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft
*Sources: DTN News / Northrop Grumman Corporation (NSI News Source Info) PALMDALE, Calif., - June 29, 2009: Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Air Force unveiled the next-generation of high-flying unmanned aircraft - the RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk - in a ceremony today at Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility. The first of 15 Block 40 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft reconnaissance system is unveiled by Northrop Grumman and U.S. Air Force officials June 25 in Palmdale, Calif. This newest addition to the Air Force's growing fleet of Global Hawks carries an advanced, all-weather multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) sensor capable of detecting, tracking and identifying stationary and moving targets. "This unveiling of the first of 15 Block 40 aircraft is a significant step to fielding Global Hawk to Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, in 2010 and reaffirms our excellent track record of delivering Global Hawks since low rate production began," said Duke Dufresne, sector vice president for Northrop Grumman Aerospace System's Strike and Surveillance Systems Division. "Carrying an advanced, all-weather multi-platform radar technology insertion program (MP-RTIP) sensor, the Block 40 aircraft will provide game-changing situational awareness for our warfighters with its unprecedented capability to detect, track and identify stationary and moving targets." Use of the MP-RTIP sensor on the Block 40 Global Hawks marks the first time the active electronic scanned array (AESA) technology has been used on a high-altitude unmanned aircraft. AESA technology provides all-weather, day-night synthetic aperture radar mapping and ground moving target indicator capability. "The Global Hawk system is in high demand by joint warfighters overseas, having successfully flown more than 31,000 hours since 2001," said Steve Amburgey, Global Hawk program director for the 303rd Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. "Congratulations to the entire Global Hawk team for continuing to provide our service men and women with a reliable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system." Designated AF-18, this Block 40 aircraft was the 27th Global Hawk built since the program's inception in 1995 and is scheduled to begin flight testing next month. "This magnificent aircraft represents the future of Grand Forks Air Force Base. This and the rest of the Block 40 fleet will make significant contributions to the safety and security of our nation for years to come," said Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota. "I look forward to seeing this airframe on the Grand Forks ramp next year." Global Hawk's range, endurance and large payload capabilities are well suited to support a variety of customers and missions, including environmental and Earth science research, homeland security, border and coastal patrol, hurricane and fire monitoring, and other disaster relief support activities. Global Hawk effectively provided imagery of the California wildfires in 2007 and 2008, and of Hurricane Ike in 2008. Flying at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours per sortie at speeds approaching 340 knots, the MP-RTIP-equipped Block 40 Global Hawk can persistently see through most type of weather, day or night. As the world's first fully autonomous high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, Global Hawk is the platform of choice for a wide variety of sensors, foreign and domestic, meeting the global need for persistent ISR. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the Global Hawk and MP-RTIP programs and continues to move these technologies forward under the stewardship of the Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the Electronic Systems Center, located at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. Northrop Grumman's Norwalk, Conn., facility is the principal MP-RTIP radar developer along with principal subcontractor, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, El Segundo. The development MP-RTIP sensor is undergoing a radar system level performance verification on a surrogate aircraft, and will be integrated into AF-18 for an operational evaluation. Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk program is based at its Aerospace Systems' Unmanned Systems Development Center in San Diego, Calif. The company performs Global Hawk sub-assembly work at its Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., and final assembly at its Antelope Valley Manufacturing Center in Palmdale. The principal Global Hawk industry team includes: Aurora Flight Sciences, Bridgeport, West Va. (V-tail assembly and other composite structures); L-3 Communications, Salt Lake City (communication system); Raytheon Company, Waltham, Mass. (ground station); Rolls-Royce Corporation, Indianapolis (engine); and Vought Aircraft Industries, Dallas (wing). Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

DTN News: First Flight Of Refurbished C-130 For Royal Netherlands Air Force

DTN News: First Flight Of Refurbished C-130 For Royal Netherlands Air Force *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) CAMBRIDG, UK - June 29, 2009: The first of two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft that are being refurbished and modernized for the Royal Netherlands Air Force has successfully made its first flight. Both aircraft are to be shortly delivered to the air force. The Ministry of Defence acquired the two aircraft because of its intensive participation in peacekeeping missions. These aircraft will double the number of C-130s in Dutch service to four. The first flight of the second refurbished aircraft will take place later this year from Marshall Aerospace, which is carrying out the refurbishment and upgrade program with Lockheed Martin, the original manufacturer. The cockpit of the aircraft has been extensively modernized, and all of its analogue displays have been replaced by digital displays, with the latest technology. The modifications help to reduce the crew workload while improving situational awareness and safety. Director Martin Broadhurst of Marshall Aerospace said : "This is one of the most complex tasks we have ever carrier out." Thanks to the modifications, the aircraft satisfy the current requirements in the field of maritime and electronic warfare. Modernisation was required since the previous owner, the US Navy, retired the aircraft in 1991. After beginning dismantling in 2006, the aircraft were transported to the Marshall Aerospace factory in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Over the coming weeks, Dutch aircrew will gain experience on the aircraft during several test flights.

DTN News: Oshkosh Defense Awarded Contract And First Delivery Order For HEMTT A2 Engines

DTN News: Oshkosh Defense Awarded Contract And First Delivery Order For HEMTT A2 Engines *Sources: DTN News / Oshkosh Corporation (NSI News Source Info) OSHKOSH, Wis. - June 29, 2009: Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, has been awarded an indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity contract from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to supply the U.S. Army with a minimum of 100 engines and a three-year maximum of 525 for the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) A2. Under the contract, potentially valued at more than $31 million, Oshkosh Defense Aftermarket will provide the Army with the HEMTT A2’s 8V92TA DDEC engine. Work is expected to be completed by June 2012. The first delivery order for 100 engines has been awarded and is valued at more than $5 million. “Oshkosh Defense Aftermarket’s FAST Parts and Services Network provides our military customers with an extensive parts supply to help keep their fleets at peak readiness,” said Mike Ivy, Oshkosh Defense vice president of Aftermarket. “With field service representatives stationed around the world and a broad range of services available any minute of the day, our Aftermarket capabilities provide support anytime, anywhere.” With factory-trained technicians, Web-based parts support and service centers worldwide, Oshkosh customers are covered 24/7 whether their vehicles are in the field or in garrison. The Army has fielded more than 20,000 HEMTTs since Oshkosh began its production in 1982. Even as the Army fields the latest version of this heavy tactical truck, the A4, Oshkosh continues supporting the earlier versions, including the A2. Oshkosh support for these trucks will continue through their life cycle. The next-generation HEMTT A4 features a fully air-conditioned and armor-ready cab, more powerful drivetrain, upgraded suspension, safety improvements, and other enhancements. The vehicles are long term armor strategy (LTAS) compliant and come off the assembly line fitted with upgraded suspensions and integral (“A” kit) armor. They also will be ready to receive an add-on (“B” kit) armor appliqué that can be quickly and easily installed in the field. About Oshkosh DefenseOshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, is an industry-leading global designer and manufacturer of tactical military trucks and armored wheeled vehicles, delivering a full product line of conventional and hybrid vehicles, advanced armor options, proprietary suspensions and vehicles with payloads that can exceed 70 tons. Oshkosh Defense provides a global service and supply network including full life-cycle support and remanufacturing, and its vehicles are recognized the world over for superior performance, reliability and protection. For more information, visit About Oshkosh CorporationOshkosh 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™, Geesink™, Norba™, Kiggen™, 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

DTN News: Honduran President Says Military Kidnapped Him / Honduran Military Ousts President Ahead Of Vote

DTN News: Honduran President Says Military Kidnapped Him / Honduran Military Ousts President Ahead Of Vote *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - June 29, 2009: Soldiers seized the national palace and flew President Manuel Zelaya into exile Sunday, hours before a disputed constitutional referendum. Zelaya, a leftist ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said he was victim of a coup. Soldiers surround the presidential residency in Tegucigalpa, Sunday, June 28, 2009. Soldiers arrested Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya and disarmed his security guards after surrounding his residence before dawn Sunday, his private secretary said. Protesters called it a coup and flocked to the presidential palace as local news media reported that Zelaya was sent into exile. Hours later, Congress voted to accept what it said was Zelaya's letter of resignation, but Zelaya said the letter wasn't his and vowed to remain in power. The Supreme Court said it was supporting the military in what it called a defense of democracy, and the Honduran ambassador to the Organization of American States said the military was planning to swear in Congressional President Roberto Micheletti — who is next in line to the presidency — to replace Zelaya. Zelaya was arrested shortly before polls were to open in a referendum on whether to change the constitution. The Supreme Court ruled the referendum illegal and everyone from Congress to members of his own party opposed it. Critics said Zelaya wanted to remove limits to his re-election. Tanks rolled through the streets and hundreds of soldiers with riot shields surrounded the presidential palace in the capital, Tegucigalpa. Zelaya, at the airport in the Costa Rican capital, San Jose, called the military action illegal. "There is no way to justify an interruption of democracy, a coup d'etat," he said in a telephone call to the Venezuela-based Telesur television network. "This kidnapping is an extortion of the Honduran democratic system." A majority of members of Congress voted with a show of hands to accept a letter of resignation that Congressional Secretary Jose Alfredo Saavedra said was signed by Zelaya and dated Thursday. The letter said Zelaya was resigning because of "the polarized political situation" and "insuperable health problems." Honduran soldiers arrive at the presidential residency in Tegucigalpa June 28, 2009. Witnesses said Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya was detained at home by troops in a constitutional crisis over his attempt to win re-election. CNN's Spanish-language channel later quoted Costa Rican officials as saying he was in Costa Rica and seeking political asylum. But Zelaya told CNN the letter was "totally false." He told Telesur he would not recognize any de facto government and pledged to serve out his term, which ends in January. He said he would attend a scheduled meeting of Central American presidents in Nicaragua on Monday. He siad Chavez, which is also going, would provide transportation. Chavez, who along with the Castros in Cuba is Zelaya's top ally, said Venezuela "is at battle" and put his military on alert. President Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned" by Zelaya's expulsion and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the arrest should be condemned. "I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Obama's statement read. Zelaya told Telesur that he was awoken by gunshots and the shouts of his security guards, whom he said resisted troops for at least 20 minutes. Still in his pajamas, he jumped out of bed and ducked behind an air conditioner to avoid flying bullets, he said. He said eight or nine soldiers in masks escorted him onto an air force plane that took him to Costa Rica. Chavez said troops in Honduras also temporarily detained the Venezuelan and Cuban ambassadors, beating them. Zelaya called on Honduran soldiers to desist, urged citizens to take to the streets in peaceful protests, and asked Honduran police to protect demonstrators. Zelaya ally Rafael Alegria, a labor leader, called for protests. "We demand respect for the president's life," he told Honduran radio Cadena de Noticias. "And we will go out into the streets to defend what this has cost us: living in peace and tranquility." About 100 Zelaya supporters, many wearing "Yes" T-shirts for the referendum, blocked the main street outside the gates to the palace, throwing rocks and insults at soldiers and shouting "Traitors! Traitors!" "They kidnapped him like cowards," screamed Melissa Gaitan. Tears streamed down the face of the 21-year-old, who works at the government television station. "We have to rally the people to defend our president." Honduras has a history of military coups: Soldiers overthrew elected presidents in 1963 and 1972. The military did not turn the government over to civilians until 1981, under U.S. pressure. Micheletti has been one of the president's main opponents in the dispute over whether to hold the referendum. The head of the Supreme Court was also opposed to the nonbinding referendum, on whether to ask voters whether they want to convoke an assembly to rewrite the constitution. It appeared that the vote would no longer take place.

DTN News: North Korea Threatens To Shoot Down Japanese Planes

DTN News: North Korea Threatens To Shoot Down Japanese Planes
*Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - June 29, 2009: North Korea warned June 27 that any Japanese plane entering its airspace would be shot down for spying, as recent surveillance suggests Pyongyang may be preparing to fire more missiles. A Korean Airlines plane carrying South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak taxies at Tokyo International airport in Tokyo, on June 28, 2009. President Lee is on a one-day visit to Japan for talks with Prime Minister Taro Aso, with simmering tensions over North Korea's nuclear programmes topping the agenda. "The air force of the Korean People's Army will not tolerate even a bit the aerial espionage by the warmongers of the Japanese aggression forces but mercilessly shoot down any plane intruding into the territorial air of the DPRK [North Korea] even 0.001 millimeter," the North Korean Air Force said in a statement. It said a Japanese AWACS aircraft made a long shuttle flight into airspace between the cities of Wonsan and Musudan-ri on June 26. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak hold a joint press conference at Aso's official residence in Tokyo on June 28, 2009. South Korea and Japan "will never tolerate" a nuclear-armed North Korea, Lee said after talks with Aso. Similar aerial espionage was committed June 25, it said. The North used Musudan-ri for its three previous long-range missile launches, in 1998, 2006 and April 5. North Korea will likely fire short- or mid-range missiles in waters off its east coast from which it has banned shipping, a senior South Korean government official said June 24. The North has warned foreign ships to stay clear of an extensive area for 16 days starting June 25 because of unspecified military exercises. South Korean students look at a uranium monitor at the Seoul Science Research Institute in Seoul, South Korea. After repudiating negotiations on dismantling its plutonium-based nuclear program, North Korea admitted in June 2009 to having an even more worrying way to make bombs. After nearly seven years of adamant denials, North Korea announced it can enrich uranium, a simpler way to build nuclear weapons than using plutonium. The Korean letters read: "Uranium Atomic Nucleus." Yonhap news agency, quoting a government source, said the communist state would probably fire Scuds with a range of up to 500 kilometers (312 miles) or ground-to-ship missiles with a 160-kilometer range into the Sea of Japan, or East Sea. Washington has said it is prepared for the possibility that the North could also fire a long-range missile toward Hawaii, perhaps July 4, which is U.S. Independence Day.

DTN News: Is Iran More Democratic Than Thailand?

DTN News: Is Iran More Democratic Than Thailand?
*A painful comparison for the "thinking mind"
*Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media / Asia Sentinel by M.L. Nattakorn Devakula
(NSI News Source Info) BANGKOK, Thailand - June 29, 2009: When angry demonstrators recently took to the streets in Iran, the seething masses claiming that they had been robbed of true democracy recalled recent protest scenes in Thailand.
An obvious and dangerous trend in international politics is that when any demagogue-type politician wins a landslide election, the opposition claims vote fraud and in many cases sends its supporters into the streets to stir unrest.
Nobody has yet appointed a color to Iran's street revolution, but the storyline of angry supposedly pro-democracy demonstrators is now familiar, and in many instances represents a graver threat to democracy than the supposedly authoritarian leaders they are protesting against.
Vladimir Putin's election triumphs in Russia have been widely lamented by opposition critics and foreign media, who have claimed he aims to become a new age Czar or latter-day Stalin bent on reestablishing the Soviet empire.
Hugo Chavez's election wins in Venezuela have likewise been lamented by some outside the country due to his populism and export of anti-American policies in Latin America. But it is in Thailand, where angry street mobs have for the past three and a half years challenged the legitimacy of successive democratically elected governments, that the structural parallels are starkest with Iran.
Former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who notched two thumping election victories and a legally contested third, was criticized by his detractors for establishing a parliamentary dictatorship through his consolidation of power and was toppled in a 2006 coup. In a true democracy, an elected leader does not lose his legitimacy just because he is opposed by powerful minority forces, nor do those forces have the right to extra-constitutionally remove a democrat leader.
Whether Iran may be considered a functioning democracy depends on the presence of functioning accountability mechanisms able to challenge the ruling establishment led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian voters head to the polls every four years to elect their president and 290 members of a unicameral legislature.
However candidates for parliament or president are vetted by a 12-member Guardian Council that allows the religious establishment to decide who runs in elections. Iran's Guardian Council is dominated by loyalists to the Supreme Leader, who directly appoints six of the body's 12 members. The other six are appointed by the elected parliament, but with choices pre-screened by the head of the judiciary, who is also appointed by the Supreme Leader.
In effect the Guardian Council, which plays the role of deciding the country's electoral choices, is directly answerable to the Supreme Leader. The Guardian Council's veto powers are in some ways analogous to the situation in Thailand. For instance, Thailand's election commission is essentially appointed by a group of judges. The presidents of three main courts, two other judges selected by another group of judges, and two elected politicians from the ruling coalition and the opposition make up the Thai commission's selection committee.
The five-to-two domination by unelected judges, officially appointed by an unelected head of state over those with democratic accountability make for an undemocratic screening process dominated by the conservative legal establishment. Hence the role of judges in Thailand, in some ways, mirrors that of the Guardian Council in Iran.
But Iran's Guardian Council is not its most undemocratic institution; that role is reserved for Khamenei, who has the power to appoint the heads of the judiciary, state-owned broadcast networks and the armed forces; he also has final say over defense and foreign policy as commander-in-chief.
Iran's Supreme Leader wields powers akin to those of an ancient monarch or modern day dictator. It is Khamenei's unelected status that is behind the opinion that Iran needs to go through a political revolution to undo the excesses of its 1979 religious revolution. It is thus interesting, from a pro-election perspective, that the top governing structure of Iran's Islamic theocracy has its democratic aspects ‑ at least in the electoral sense.
While Iran's Supreme Leader is widely portrayed in the mainstream media as an unelected dictator, Khamenei spent decades moving up the ranks as a religious scholar. Through his perceived learnedness among peers and senior title holders, he earned a coordinating political role from influential clerics.
He later served eight years as president under Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution, proving his leadership skills, religious expertise and devoutness. With all that in mind, prior to becoming Supreme Leader, Khamenei's qualifications were put to an 86-member Assembly of Experts for consideration.
That assembly, which also has the power to remove the Supreme Leader, is a deliberative body of Islamic scholars elected directly by the general public every eight years. Assuming that these Islamic scholars perform their representative role, in the political sense they have the power and ability to check the "absolute" powers of the Ayatollah Khamenei.
Though it is often argued that in practice the Assembly of Experts have never exercised their powers to challenge or check the Supreme Leader's decisions (though the minutes of their twice-yearly meetings are not published, so this is debatable), in technical terms the Iranian Constitution provides for a checking and balancing mechanism that reflects the country's religio-cultural traditions within the framework of a modified conservative democracy.
Iran's Assembly of Experts is also in charge of supervising, dismissing and electing the Supreme Leader, and in the event of his death, resignation or dismissal, the body is vested with the power to take steps in the shortest possible time to appoint a new leader.
According to the Iranian Constitution, "Whenever the Leader becomes incapable of fulfilling his constitutional duties, or loses one of the qualifications mentioned in the Constitution, or it becomes known that he did not possess some of the qualifications initially, he will be dismissed." Thus it could be argued that Iran's leadership transition plan is more democratic than the soft and hard dictatorships and monarchies of Asia and Europe. While it may be argued that Iran's cultural uniqueness requires that the state be ruled by a semi-democratic theocracy, there is no such cultural or historical guidance in the case of the Thai Kingdom.
The line of separation between church and state is clear in Thailand, and Buddhist teachings do not advocate the application of its doctrines in the Constitution or laws, unlike Sharia law in Islamic republics. Yet even in European constitutional monarchies, where the lines separating church and state have been less clear throughout history, there are virtually no remaining monarchy ruled states.
Where monarchies remain in the world, the semi-authoritarian tendencies are often well-veiled and limited. In comparison, the Islamic Republic of Iran's mechanisms for checks and balances, including the crucial role of the Assembly of Experts, demonstrates a more highly evolved democracy, even with Islam integral to its rule and operation. Despite drawbacks on human rights and the support of terrorism by state authorities, democratic transitions in Iran since the 1979 revolution until now have been orderly and peaceful.
For as long as Islam remains Iran's state religion, the role of Ayatollahs will always be respected and influential. Can the same be said for Thailand's unelected institutions and personages? Some argue that the much-touted national sense of "Thainess" has been promoted by the state-controlled school system, which inculcates students with a pro-establishment bias.
But is Thailand's semi-democratic rule, which is supposedly guided by divinity and arguably managed by nominees, truly cultural or imagined? That is where the democratic difference between Iran and Thailand lies.
The completion of Thailand's long democratic evolution, dating to the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, is not inevitable without the support of the majority of the electorate. For politically aware competing street protestors in Thailand, and among astute news consumers, the realization of Thailand's democratic deficit is there; for most it remains hidden from view, obfuscated by both state-controlled and private media.
The street protests in Iran have shown that Khamenei's political standing is not unassailable. If he were to abuse his power, including a role in the rigging of election results, the elected Assembly of Experts presumably could exercise its power to remove him. The question for Thailand is whether it has even such minimal democratic checks and balances.
The street protests in Iran have shown that Khamenei's political standing is not unassailable. If he were to abuse his power, including a role in the indirect manipulation of the election outcome, the elected Assembly of Experts has the power to remove him. Perhaps Iran does have its democratically elected checks and balances. The events now transpiring in Iran could in the future have particular relevance in Thailand. The significance in the present time could only be imagined through a painful contrasting exercise by the not so proper, nor superficial, thinking mind. The results of such an exercise is something that Thais must come to grip with, whatever the answer may be.
Nattakorn Devakula is a news analyst for Thailand Channel 11's "Newsline" and "NNT News Bulletin". He is also a regular international news commentator on Thailand's 24-hours cable news network, TNN.

DTN News: Israel's President Shimon Peres Leaves For Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan

DTN News: Israel's President Shimon Peres Leaves For Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - June 29, 2009: President Shimon Peres on Sunday embarked on what his office terms "historic visits" to the Muslim states of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The visit to Azerbaijan is the first official visit by a high-ranking Israeli dignitary. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Azeri President Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev take part in the official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace June 28, 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan. President Peres will visit both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan on a four-day trip to advance Israel's ties with those countries. Although Beit Hanassi put an embargo on publicizing the visits prior to his departure, reports that the visits were to take place began appearing in the media of both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan as well as media outlets in other countries more than a month ago. Not everyone in Azerbaijan is happy about Peres's arrival. According to various Internet reports, some of the elders of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan have protested the visit. "We are against the visit of the leader of the criminal Zionist regime and we express our protest against the invitation, sent to him. We demand categorically that the Azeri leadership cancel this visit," says a statement, released by the Nardaran believers. "The Israeli president's visit to Baku will damage Azerbaijan's international image as a Muslim state and will be an insult to the Islamic world," the statement continues. "Building ties with the Zionist regime, hostile to the Muslims, could damage Azerbaijan as part of the Islamic world. We urge the government to prevent the visit as a sign of respect for the Islamic religion." Foreign Ministry officials in Baku attribute the statement to meddling by Iran. According to the Pakistan Daily, Peres will be in Azerbaijan "to consolidate energy and military ties with Baku which began in 1992." The visits by Peres are intended to upgrade Israel's relations with both countries, each of which prides itself on having treated its Jews well and as having served as a haven for other Jews during World War II. Peres is scheduled to travel with a large entourage, including Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer; National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau; Science, Culture, and Sport Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buhris, along with several CEOs of Israel's defense industries and 60 heads of major companies. In Kazakhstan, Peres is slated to be the guest of honor at the Third Congress of leaders of World and Traditional Religions, where he is to deliver the keynote address. He is also scheduled to hold meetings with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whom he has met on previous occasions and whose singing voice, leadership and hearty personality he has publicly praised at various Kazakhstan functions in Israel. He is also expected to meet with other prominent Kazakhstan officials. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Azeri President Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev take part in the official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace June 28, 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan. President Peres will visit both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan on a four-day trip to advance Israel's ties with those countries. The businesspeople accompanying Peres plan to participate in a bilateral business forum in Astana. As part of the forum, cooperation agreements on peaceful space exploration and in areas of foreign policy, as well as on a Kazakhstan-Israel business forum, are expected to be signed. Azerbaijan's priority fields for cooperation with Israel are agriculture, management of water resources, medical training and hi-tech. As in Kazakhstan, agreements are expected to be signed between the three ministers and their Azeri counterparts. The visits to the two Muslim countries are a collaborative effort between Beit Hanassi, the Foreign Ministry, the Israel Export Institute, and the Israel Manufacturers Association. In addition to the meetings with Azeri and Kazakh officials, Peres is expected to meet with members of the Jewish communities in both countries. In Kazakhstan - where Jews have lived for centuries - he is scheduled to attend the inauguration of a new synagogue. He will also use the visits as a platform to make Israel's policies and aspirations for peace better known to that part of the world.

DTN News: NATO, Russia Work To Mend Ties

DTN News: NATO, Russia Work To Mend Ties *Kremlin to help deliver NATO supplies to Afghanistan *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) CORFU, Greece - June 29, 2009: NATO agreed to resume cooperation with the Russian military yesterday, counting on the Kremlin’s help in shipping supplies to Western forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Foreign ministers from the two sides met for the first time since Russia’s five-day war with Georgia last year, taking a step in President Obama’s “reset’’ of US-Russian ties. Western opposition to Russia’s treatment of Georgia will not “bring the whole NATO-Russia Council train to a halt,’’ said Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s secretary general. “Russia needs NATO, and NATO needs Russia.’’ Yesterday’s meeting marked a final break with the “no business as usual’’ policy imposed by the US-led alliance after the Georgia war and set the stage for Obama’s trip to Moscow next month to solicit Russian help on arms control, Afghanistan, and containing Iran’s nuclear program. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is fighting Islamic militants in Afghanistan with roots in the rebel forces that drove out the Soviet army in the 1980s with American help. NATO already hauls nonmilitary cargo across the Russian steppe for its 61,000 troops in Afghanistan. De Hoop Scheffer said he would not rule out Russia allowing “lethal’’ shipments as well. The 28-nation alliance also wants Russia to send a warship back to the Mediterranean Sea to join a NATO fleet that monitors suspicious vessels. Russia pulled out of the mission when NATO suspended ties in August. “I do hope that there will be Russian participation again,’’ De Hoop Scheffer said. A more distant prospect, he said, would be Russian involvement in NATO’s counterpiracy mission off the coast of Somalia. Both sides remain at odds over Georgia, a would-be NATO member. Russia crushed the Georgian Army and bestowed diplomatic recognition on two breakaway territories last year, a token of Kremlin efforts to reestablish the sphere of influence that crumbled with the collapse of the Soviet Union. “All have to accept the new realities,’’ said Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister. “The decisions that have been taken by Russia after the conflict started are irreversible.’’ Russia raised the pressure on Georgia this month when it blocked the extension of international monitoring missions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two separatist enclaves. In April it granted five-year defense guarantees to both territories. “We don’t intend to recognize the purported attempt to set up separate states within the territory of Georgia,’’ said James Steinberg, the US deputy secretary of state. Still, Steinberg - standing in for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is recovering from an elbow injury - hailed the revived NATO-Russia forum as a place for “dialogue on areas of both common interest and areas of disagreement.’’ To forge a new bond with Russia, Obama has given less priority than his predecessor, President George W. Bush, to further expansion of NATO and construction of a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe. On a separate track, the United States is “encouraged’’ by progress made in nuclear arms reduction talks with Russia in the run-up to Obama’s July 6 visit, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday. “The intent is to certainly reach that kind of agreement,’’ Mullen told Russia Today television, according to an e-mailed transcript. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed in 1991, will run out this year.