Saturday, February 13, 2010

DTN News: Chinese New Year 2010 ~ Year Of The Tiger

DTN News: Chinese New Year 2010 ~ Year Of The Tiger * Source: DTN News By Roger Smith (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 14, 2010: Today, February 14, 2010 (that's right, Valentine's Day!) marks the start of the Year of the Tiger on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Chinese New Year is a holiday celebrating the beginning of a new year according to the lunar calendar. It's one of the most important holidays for Chinese families, who celebrate with big family gatherings, gift giving, eating special foods and tons of decorations, which all focus on bringing good luck for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring. Some Chinese families celebrate Chinese New Year for a whole month!A white tiger rests inside an enclosure at Beijing Zoo in Beijing, China, Monday, Feb. 8, 2010. There are fewer than 50 wild tigers left in China today, living in Yunnan, Tibet, Jilin and Helongjiang, according to Xie Yan, the China program director of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The organization is working with the Chinese government to help protect Amur tigers from poachers and develop new habits to their survival.
Traditions & Symbols ~ Clean house and new clothes: Before the first day of Chinese New Year families clean their homes from top to bottom to clear out any bad luck from the last year and to get the house ready for good luck in the new year. But be careful: all the cleaning has to be finished before New Year's Day so there's no chance of accidentally throwing out the good fortune of the new year.
Also, before New Year's Day, you're supposed to buy new clothes or cut your hair in order to have a fresh start. And never, ever wear black during Chinese New Year - it's bad luck. Red is the colour of good luck, so wearing lots of red is encouraged.
Decorate the house. Another popular custom is to hang up signs and posters on doors and windows with the Chinese word fu written on them, which means luck and happiness. Put a lot of flowers around your home - they symbolize a new beginning.
Eat with your family. On the night of the Chinese New Year it's customary to visit relatives and eat a huge meal that includes: *Eight or nine different dishes, because those are lucky numbers (nine = prosperity; eight = long-lasting). *Dumplings (because they look like gold nuggets). *Oranges (because they're perfectly round, symbolizing wholeness). *Long noodles (because they symbolize long life). *Sticky rice cakes and sweets (because they're part of a story about the Kitchen God, who is sorta like Santa Claus Chinese travelers wait to enter the Beijing train station, in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. Millions of Chinese workers are boarding trains to head home for the Lunar New Year, a holiday that triggers the world's biggest annual migration of people. Give good luck gifts. Lots of kids get gifts from adults on Chinese New Year - little red envelopes stuffed with money to symbolize wealth for the coming year. But don't open your envelope until the person who gave it to you has left your home!
Make lanterns. The Chinese New Year celebration ends with a Lantern Festival, which honors the first full moon of the year and represents the coming of Spring. Families light lanterns, which symbolize the brightness of spring, and hang them on walls around the house or carry them on poles in lantern parades.
Honor the animal. For Chinese families, every year is associated with one of 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. These animals are often represented in decorations during the holiday. This year, the animal is the Tiger. Some people think if you were born during the year of a certain animal you'll end up with the character traits of that animal. For example, if you were born during the year of the rat, you will grow up to be imaginative and cunning.

DTN News: Defense-Technology News Wishes Readers & Viewers A Happy Chinese New Year ~ Year Of The Tiger

DTN News: Defense-Technology News Wishes Readers & Viewers A Happy Chinese New Year ~ Year Of The Tiger * Source: DTN News By Roger Smith (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 14, 2010: We Wish All our Readers and Viewers a Happy Chinese New Year with Great Prosperity and Good Luck in the Year of the Tiger!

DTN News: U.S. Army Affirms FMTV Contract Award To Oshkosh Corporation

DTN News: U.S. Army Affirms FMTV Contract Award To Oshkosh Corporation *Army clears Oshkosh to resume work on $3 billion deal
*Source: DTN News / Oshkosh Corporation (NSI News Source Info) OSHKOSH, Wis. - February 14, 2010: Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) today announced the U.S. Army has affirmed the contract award to the Company, originally received on Aug. 26, 2009, to produce the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV). The bids of all three competitors for the FMTV program were re-evaluated by the U.S. Army in response to recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) following a review of competitors’ protests of the original contract award to the Company. The Army undertook an exhaustive review during this FMTV bidding process and applied fairness and rigor to its decision. Upon completion of a thorough, in-depth re-evaluation, the Army determined the contract would remain with Oshkosh. Additionally, the Army canceled the September 4, 2009, stop-work order it had issued pursuant to the GAO’s protest procedures. The Oshkosh contract allows the Army and U.S. taxpayers to begin realizing significant cost savings for the FMTV program. “We are very pleased the Army affirmed its original decision that Oshkosh Corporation’s FMTV bid clearly represents the best overall value for the Army, the taxpayers and the Warfighter,” said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh Corporation chairman and chief executive officer. “Oshkosh Corporation, our employees and our suppliers stand ready to serve our customer, and we are delighted that the Army has yet again concluded that Oshkosh was the right choice. Our focus has always been on the Warfighter and making sure we deliver high-quality, high-performing vehicles on time.” The FMTV rebuy program is a five-year, firm fixed-price requirements contract for the production of up to 23,000 vehicles and trailers, as well as support services and engineering. Oshkosh received the contract from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC) with an initial delivery order valued at $280.9 million for the production and delivery of 2,568 trucks and trailers. The FMTV is a series of vehicles consisting of up to 23 variants and 17 different models, ranging from 2.5-ton to 5-ton payloads. Oshkosh already produces the Army’s Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTV) and works with nearly every one of the FMTV current component suppliers across the country as integral partners in other military programs. Oshkosh is the only current manufacturer of both medium and heavy tactical wheeled vehicles in the U.S. defense industry, having produced more than 70,000 military-class vehicles in its manufacturing facilities. Oshkosh’s manufacturing facilities have ample production capacity for all current and pending military vehicle programs, including the FMTV and the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV), as well as any surges in production. The company’s advanced and integrated assembly line facilities allow for the simultaneous production of several different vehicle models and variations. Oshkosh Corporation’s proven production capabilities were recently recognized by the National Center for Advanced Technologies (NCAT), which awarded Oshkosh with a 2009 Defense Manufacturing Excellence Award for its M-ATV launch team, which has exceeded delivery requirements for seven consecutive months. Photo Caption: The Oshkosh Corporation FMTV offers the best solution to the U.S. Army, taxpayers and Warfighters. About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh 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 Corporation
Oshkosh Corporation is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty access equipment, commercial, fire & emergency and military vehicles and vehicle bodies. Oshkosh Corp. manufactures, distributes and services products under the brands of Oshkosh®, JLG®, Pierce®, McNeilus®, Medtec®, Jerr-Dan®, Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles, Frontline™, SMIT™, CON-E-CO®, London® and IMT®. Oshkosh products are valued worldwide in businesses where high quality, superior performance, rugged reliability and long-term value are paramount. For more information, log on to ®, ™ All brand names referred to in this news release are trademarks of Oshkosh Corporation or its subsidiary companies.

DTN News: Malaysia Says First Submarine Unable To Dive

DTN News: Malaysia Says First Submarine Unable To Dive *Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - February 14, 2010: Malaysia's first submarine, a European-made Scorpene delivered last September, has developed problems that make it unfit for diving, the defence minister said Thursday. The Royal Malaysian Navy placed a contract for two Scorpene submarines in June 2002. The first vessel, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, was launched at DCNS Cherbourg in October 2007. It was handed over in January 2009 in Toulon and arrrived in Malaysia in September 2009. The second, Tun Razak, was launched at Navantia Cartagena in October 2008 and is to commission in late 2009. DCNS is building the bow sections, Navantia the aft sections.
In October 2005, India placed an order for six Scorpene submarines. The submarines will be built at the state-owned Mazagon dockyard in Bombay, with technical assistance and equipment from French companies DCN and Thales. At the same time, India also placed an order for 36 MBDA SM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles to arm the submarines. Construction of the first vessel began in December 2006 and is scheduled to be delivered in December 2012. One submarine will be delivered each year until 2017. In December 2008, Brazil placed an order for four diesel-electric-powered submarines based on the Scorpene. The submarines will be built by a joint venture company set up by DCNS and Odebrecht of Brazil and will enter service in 2015. The KD Tunku Abdul Rahman sailed into a grand reception last year as the first of two commissioned from French contractor DCNS and Spain's Navantia for a total of 3.4 billion ringgit (961 million dollars). Named after the country's first prime minister, it was hailed as an important acquisition despite opposition allegations of corruption in the deal. "The submarine can still dive but when we detected the defects, we were advised that it should not dive," Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters. "The (parts found with) defects are still under warranty so the supplier and contractor are repairing them," he added. Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar said a problem first emerged in the submarine's cooling system last December. After being fixed, another defect was identified in a different system last month. "We hope it can dive again after February 18 so we can carry out the tropical water trials," Abdul Aziz told reporters. The navy chief said the second submarine, the KD Tun Razak which is named after the nation's second premier, is expected to arrive from France on May 31. It was originally scheduled for delivery in late 2009. The two submarines have attracted controversy since the deal was signed in 2002. Malaysia's opposition claims that a 540-million-ringgit commission was paid to a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak in brokering the contract. Najib has denied there was any corruption in the deal, which was made when he was defence minister.

DTN News: Plasan Announces Delivery Of 25 SandCats To Bulgaria

DTN News: Plasan Announces Delivery Of 25 SandCats To Bulgaria *Source: DTN News / Plasan (NSI News Source Info) SASA, Israel - February 14, 2010: Plasan, a global leader in survivability and combat-proven armor solutions for vehicles, airborne platforms and personal protection, announces the delivery of 25 SandCat vehicles in cooperation with Oshkosh Defense, for the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense. Plasan was awarded this contract December 2008. During a visit to Israel earlier this month, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Bulgarian Minister of Defence Nikolay Mladenov examined the SandCat up close, followed by meetings with their Israeli counterparts: Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Mr. Yaron Roded, Director for Marketing and Business Development at Plasan, comments: "The SandCat design fits perfectly into today's peacekeeping and HLS tasks, taking into account the emerging threats while maintaining the required flexibility for off-road and on-road mission profile which are so essential for many armies, police, and SWAT teams world-wide." Earlier this month, Plasan welcomed Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak to its facilities in Kibbutz Sasa. This visit marks an additional award to deliver 79 SandCats specifically designed for the Israeli Border Police Patrol; a contract valued at $14 million. As opposed to vehicles currently in use by IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) such as the Armored HMMWV'e (190hp), Up-armored Storm Jeep (180hp) and Armored Land-rover "David" (122hp) the SandCat is equipped with a 6.4L, V8 Turbo Diesel engine with 350hp output capable to reach a maximum speed of 130km/h. The SandCat is based on an upgraded commercial off-the-shelf Ford F-Series 4x4 chassis, adapted by Oshkosh Defense for military use and fitted with Plasan advanced Metal Composite & Ceramics Composite armor. The SandCat provides a high level of protection for the crew while maintaining excellent maneuverability capabilities. The SandCat design is state-of-the-art in all aspects: exterior design, choice of materials, ergonomics, integration of advanced electronic systems, NBC safety systems, suspended/collapsible seats are part of the Blast mitigation system and the advanced composite materials against IEDs and road side bombs are providing high level of crew survivability. About Plasan Plasan provides customized survivability solutions for tactical wheeled vehicles, aircraft, naval platforms, civilian armored vehicles and personal protection. A recognized global leader and industry veteran, Plasan's survivability solutions offer the optimal combination of protection, payload, and cost by combining in-house R&D, design, prototyping and manufacturing capabilities. Plasan combines innovative survivability engineering and design with advanced armor materials development. Its unique development process is based on continuous interaction between the R&D and the Design & Prototyping departments. During this process, Plasan combines computer-generated analysis and simulations with real-time calibration and ballistic test data. The effective combination of test and simulation data enables improved simulation accuracy and performance, resulting in the optimal survivability solution. Plasan's engineers are unique in terms of their military backgrounds and hands-on experience. As veterans of the Israel Defense Forces they are familiar with soldiers' behavior during combat and share a common language with the end user. This often contributes to the development of life saving solutions. Plasan's success is a combination of innovation, a high level of commitment and a full range of in-house capabilities. As a preferred supplier to the Israel Defense Forces and an approved supplier to ministries of defense around the world, Plasan's solutions have been tried and tested by dozens of armed forces in the most demanding battlefields such as Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. As a global company with locations in Israel, North America and Europe, Plasan is a worldwide market leader. Plasan's production capabilities are complemented by a comprehensive supply chain that encompasses suppliers of materials, equipment and solutions in strategic locations worldwide. This extensive network enables the production capacity flexibility necessary to expand or reduce production volumes according to demand. Please visit

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 14, 2010 ~ Pakistan Flung Into Fresh Turmoil

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 14, 2010 ~ Pakistan Flung Into Fresh Turmoil *Source: DTN News / By Sajjad Tarakzai (AFP) (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - February 14, 2010: Pakistan headed into fresh crisis Sunday with President Asif Ali Zardari locked into a humiliating confrontation with the country's top judicial authority over the appointment of a senior judge.Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (L) and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari (R) pose for media after their Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan IV.Trilateral Summit Meeting in Istanbul January 25, 2010. The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan will seek closer cooperation in the fight against militants during a summit in Istanbul on Monday, but a plan to reach out to Taliban insurgents will likely dominate the talks. The showdown threatens Zardari's weak government at a time of mounting US pressure on the nuclear-armed country to eliminate Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants as Washington seeks to end the war in neighbouring Afghanistan. The crisis arose when the president appeared to ignore a candidate nominated by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry for a vacancy on the Supreme Court, instead selecting another senior judge. The Supreme Court suspended the president's decree appointing Khawaja Sharif, the top judge in Pakistan's second biggest city Lahore, and a judge to fill Sharif's shoes, and summoned the attorney general to appear in court. "This is the climax of the crisis that was brewing for almost one year," Pakistani political analyst Hasan Askari told AFP. "If the president doesn't accept this ruling from the Supreme Court then Pakistan has a very serious constitutional crisis," he added. Zardari, so tainted by corruption that his nickname is "Mr Ten Percent" despite his 2008 election on a wave of sympathy over the assassination of his wife ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has found a nemesis in Chaudhry. The chief justice, independent-minded and extremely popular in Pakistan, was sacked in October 2007 by then military ruler Pervez Musharraf. Zardari reinstated him last March, but the move was seen as an embarrassing climbdown on the eve of a protest march on the capital Islamabad whipped by the political opposition and under Western pressure to avert a political crisis. On December 16, the Supreme Court abolished a decree protecting Zardari and other government figures from prosecution, exposing the president to the possibility of having his immunity and eligibility for office challenged. But analysts suggested the Supreme Court was stepping back from pursuing Zardari and the popular opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), failed to jump on the bandwagon. But Zardari's controversial appointment of Sharif late Saturday put him back on open collision with Chaudhry, who had instead proposed Justice Saqib Nisar for the seat. "The president is pleased to appoint Mr Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, chief justice of Lahore High Court as judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan with immediate effect," Zardari office had announced. It took barely four hours for the Supreme Court to clip his wings. "The appointment of Mr Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif as a judge of the Supreme Court, prima facie, appears to have been issued in violation of the provisions of the Constitution... hence the same is suspended," it said. The Supreme Court summoned Pakistan's attorney general to appear at a hearing adjourned until February 18, senior lawyer Hamid Khan told AFP. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira released a curt statement through state media saying that Zardari made the appointments "as per constitutional provisions" and "after thorough consultations". Analysts said the Supreme Court and Zardari could each argue they were in the right, but warned the crisis could bring down the entire government if allowed to escalate. Media reports that Zardari could hit back by declaring a state of emergency, as Musharraf did in 2007, were reportedly denied by his office and most analysts believe the only recourse could be to execute an embarrassing U-turn. "The final interpretation of the constitution is done by the Supreme Court," said Askari, warning that Saturday's suspension order had already pushed the president into "an extremely difficult and humiliating situation". "If the Supreme Court goes ahead and tries to pull him down, then perhaps the system will collapse... and perhaps there will not be constitutional government in Pakistan," Askari warned. Senior lawyers agreed, but rubbished any prospect of military intervention with Pakistan having only emerged from military rule two years ago. "He (the president) has no option but step back," Qazi Anwar, a senior Pakistani lawyer told AFP. "He is already besieged and if he does not step back it will be a very serious situation for him," he added. Related Articles Zardari, Chief Justice Chaudhry on collision course over elevation of LHC judge Oneindia - 4 hours ago Pakistani High Court Strikes Down Zardari Appointments Voice of America - 11 hours ago SC forms 5-member bench to hear judges' case SAMAA TV - 1 day ago

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 14, 2010 ~ British Spearhead Allied Offensive In Afghanistan

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 14, 2010 ~ British Spearhead Allied Offensive In Afghanistan *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - February 14, 2010: NATO commanders are "very pleased" with the start of a major operation focusing on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in southern Afghanistan, the military said Saturday.In this photo released by Britain's Ministry of Defense, members of the F Company (Fire Support) 1 Royal Welsh take position during operation "Moshtarak" Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010, near Marjah, in Afghanistan's Helmand province. British troops are among the thousands of NATO and Afghan soldiers who stormed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah by air and ground Saturday. British troops had secured their "key objectives" in the first day of the assault but thousands of US troops supported by Afghan soldiers were continuing their attack on Marjah and surrounding areas, a spokesman said. Overall, NATO commanders were satisfied with the launch of Operation Mushtarak, a ground assault involving thousands of troops supported by air attacks, Major General Gordon Messenger told journalists in London. One British soldier was killed in the assault on Saturday after he was caught in an explosion during a vehicle patrol of the Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand Province, the Ministry of Defence said. British troops had taken control of areas in the Chah-e Anjir Triangle northeast of Marjah with "minimal interference" from the Taliban, Messenger said. There had been some "sporadic fighting", but the Taliban appeared to be "confused and disjointed" and "have not been able to put up a coherent response", he added. "The key objectives have been secured and have been done so with minimal interference," he added. The spokesman said that while he personally had been briefed by British commanders, their US counterparts were also satisfied with the start of the operation. Operation Mushtarak (meaning "together" in Dari), involving a total of 15,000 NATO and Afghan troops, aims to clear Marjah and surrounding areas of Taliban and re-establish the rule of the Afghan government. US, British and Afghan troops along with soldiers from Denmark and Estonia launched the attack on the area. The assault was supported by the "full array" of NATO aircraft, but bombing from the air was being kept to a minimum, Messenger said. More than 1,000 British troops were involved in their part of the operation focusing on the Chah-e Anjir Triangle, said Messenger, the chief of the defence staff's strategic communications officer. "Low numbers" of insurgents were killed during the assault, he added. The commander of Afghan troops in the operation has said at least 20 Taliban fighters have died. A spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to the "sacrifice" of the dead British soldier, whose loss brings the British death toll in the Afghanistan war to 258. "Every death in Afghanistan is a tragedy and the prime minister's thoughts are with his family," the spokesman said. Brown had been in close contact with military commanders throughout the first day of the operation and had also spoken to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the spokesman added. The operation was "a vital part of creating a more secure Afghanistan -- and therefore a more secure Britain," he said. At the briefing, Messenger said troops had faced sniper fire and IEDs, or improvised explosive devices -- the roadside bombs which the Taliban uses against NATO forces -- had been found. Despite reports that local residents had fled the area ahead of the assault, "significant numbers" of people remained there, the spokesman said. He stressed that while the initial stage of the attacks had gone well, the hard part of the operation would be the work to secure the area and win over the local population. "There's no complacency -- everyone understands this is the easy bit. The hard bit is what comes next in reassuring the public," he said. "This is all about winning the allegiance of the population. The allegiance is not won in a day, it must be won over time. It cannot be forced."

DTN News: Muslims Warned Not To Go Through Airport Body Scanners Because They Violate Islamic Rules On Nudity

DTN News: Muslims Warned Not To Go Through Airport Body Scanners Because They Violate Islamic Rules On Nudity
*Source: Daily Mail By David Gardner (NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - February 14, 2010: Islamic scholars have forbidden Muslim travellers from passing through full body scans at airports because they violate religious rules on nudity. The Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, yesterday warning Muslims not to go through the scanners. ‘It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women,’ read the order.‘Islam highly emphasises haya (modesty) and considers it part of faith. The Quran has commanded the believers, both men and women, to cover their private parts,’ it added. The ban is the latest privacy blow to the controversial x-ray machines now in place at Heathrow, Manchester and many airports around the world. In the U.S., there are now forty scanners in nineteen airports and could be as many as 450 by the end of the year. They were implemented as part of a global security crackdown ordered after the thwarted Christmas Day bombing when Nigerian former London university student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab smuggled explosives onto a US-bound plane hidden in his underpants. The new scanners were implemented after the bombing attempt of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day Some Muslim-American groups were said to be supporting the fatwa last night. In the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration said Muslims will have the option of a pat down search by a security guard. However, in Britain, travellers who refuse to pass through the scanners could be barred from boarding. The Muslim Council of Britain has not yet responded to a call for comment. The powerful council of ten scholars that issued the fatwa is affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America. The ruling won support last night from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 'We support the Figh Council’s statement on full-body scanners and believe that the religious and privacy rights of passengers can be respected while maintaining safety and security,’ said national director Nihad Awad. The TSA said it is committed to keeping passengers safe and insisted the scanners that show the outlines of a person’s body in graphic detail did not represent an invasion of privacy. ‘The TSA's mission is to keep the travelling public safe. Advanced imaging technologies are an important tool in a multi-layered security system to detect evolving threats such as improvised explosive devices,’ said a spokesman. ‘Use of these technologies includes strong protections in place to safeguard passenger privacy. Screening images are automatically deleted, and the officer viewing the image will never see the passenger.’ The TSA stressed that the body scanners are ‘optional to all passengers’. Those who turn them down in the US ‘will receive equivalent screening that may include a physical pat-down, hand-wanding, and other technologies.’ ‘Physical pat-downs are performed by Transportation Security Officers of the same sex as the passenger in a private screening area, if the passenger requests.’ Body scanners do not produce photos’, the agency added. Rather, the images ‘look like chalk outlines’

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 13, 2010 ~ Attack On Afghan Town Marjah Launched

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 13, 2010 ~ Attack On Afghan Town Marjah Launched *Source: DTN News / By Jim Michaels, USA TODAY (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - February 13, 2010: U.S. Marines and Afghan forces launched the largest combined offensive of the war before dawn Saturday, in a move designed to seize control of a remaining Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan.U.S. soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division carry a cable to pull an armored vehicle out of a canal in the Badula Qulp area, west of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. This unit is operating in support of a U.S. Marine offensive against the Taliban in Marjah area. Helicopter-borne Marines swooped into Marjah, in central Helmand province, and other forces took up positions around the town of about 80,000 in the early-morning hours. To land inside the town, Marines and Afghan troops leapfrogged over minefields that the Taliban are believed to have planted. "The first wave of choppers has landed inside Marjah. The operation has begun," Capt. Joshua Winfrey, commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, told the Associated Press. The offensive to clear Marjah in central Helmand province is considered a key test of the U.S.-led counterinsurgency efforts. U.S. and Afghan commanders warned of the attack, giving some insurgents a chance to leave but also allowing civilians to avoid the crossfire and moderates to join the government side. Afghan officials also asked for the support of tribal leaders before launching the offensive in the hopes of avoiding major bloodshed.In this handout photo released by Ministry of Defence via PA, soldiers of the 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh in line make their way onto the helicopters on mass as they prepare for Operation Moshtarak in Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. British troops were today engaged in fierce fighting with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan as the military operation got under way. U.S.-led airstrikes began as dawn broke in the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in Helmand Province where up to 1,000 insurgents are believed to be holed up. "The difference is this operation is structured to protect civilians," Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Defense Ministry, said before the offensive was launched. Azimi said intelligence suggests that the Taliban will avoid a major confrontation and will instead attempt to slip the noose. Lower level insurgents who are in the fight for the money will be encouraged to lay down their arms. Commanders say they won't know for certain whether that message has resonated until they are inside the city, but officials say there are suggestions that the message has been received well. "Groups along edge of the city are already telling Marines, 'Hey, we're ready for you guys to come in,'" said Marine Col. Paul Kennedy, who commands a regiment that will be coming to Helmand province as part of a new surge of American forces. Kennedy recently visited the region and spoke before the offensive was launched. But Marjah presents a number of challenges for an attacking force. It is crisscrossed by canals that make movement difficult and favors defenders. Azimi said he expects insurgents to seed the area with roadside bombs, possibly to help cover their withdrawal. Marjah is among the last remaining insurgent redoubts in Helmand province, a poppy-growing region of Afghanistan that has been a traditional stronghold of the Taliban. The area, with a population of about 400,000 in the town and surrounding region, is an important part of Helmand's economy and a key population center. An influx of U.S. Marines last year has weakened the Taliban in the region and secured most villages and towns in Helmand. But many insurgents fled to Marjah, creating a dangerous mix of insurgents, criminals and drug traffickers in one of the province's most important towns. Over recent months, the Afghan government has bolstered the number of its police and soldiers in Helmand, since they are the key to holding ground once it is cleared of insurgents. "We have enough forces in the area to maintain long-term security," Azimi said.

DTN News: China Warns US On Dalai Lama, But Tensions To Cool

DTN News: China Warns US On Dalai Lama, But Tensions To Cool *Source: DTN News / By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN (AP) (NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - February 13, 2010: The announcement of President Barack Obama's upcoming meeting with the Dalai Lama drew a predictably stern response from Beijing, but there are indications China may begin winding down the recent spike in tensions. The Foreign Ministry urged the U.S. to cancel the meeting scheduled for next Thursday, warning the move could bring "further damage to Sino-U.S. relations." Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets devotees as he prepares to begin the day's lecture at Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) south of Patna, India. China urged the United States on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, to immediately cancel plans for President Barack Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama next week, warning the move could further hurt ties. "We urge the U.S. side to fully understand the high sensitivity of Tibet-related issues, honor its commitment to recognizing Tibet as part of China and opposing 'Tibet independence,'" spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted Friday on the ministry's Web site. China accuses the Dalai Lama of pushing to free Tibet from Chinese rule, and protests vociferously over his contacts with foreign leaders. Obama had put off a meeting with the 74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner last year as a courtesy ahead of his November visit to Beijing. The visit is the latest prickly issue to test relations, coming on top of cyber spying accusations, trade disputes, and U.S. dealings with Taiwan, the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own territory. China's vigorous response on those and other issues has startled some observers, presaging greater conflict as China, emboldened by its newfound economic clout, seeks to block criticism, dominate discussions and pursue its narrowly defined national interests. Yet, although Obama's visit with Tibet's exiled leader stands to exacerbate frictions, Beijing appears to have concluded that the current turbulence in what it considers its most important bilateral relationship has gone far enough. An extended rift could upset cooperation with Washington on the global economy and a host of bilateral issues. Their leaders also have numerous contacts this year to prepare for, including a visit to Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao and an upcoming high-level economic and political forum in the United States. The fact that the Obama meeting comes in the middle of China's Lunar New Year holiday, a time of family visits and banqueting when government offices are closed, may further mute Beijing's response. Sun Zhe, a U.S. relations scholar at Beijing's elite Tsinghua University, said he doesn't expect an unusually harsh response to next week's meeting, limiting that to attacks in the state media and some diplomatic measures. "China already has a clear stance on the Dalai Lama issue," Sun said. China realizes it cannot block the meeting and won't allow it to create a major crisis in ties, said Joseph Cheng, a Chinese politics expert at the City University of Hong Kong. "They are frictions, but they can be contained," Cheng said. "Both sides understand each other's baselines and both sides will work hard to avoid a serious deterioration in the bilateral relationship." A further indication that tensions may be receding is Beijing's apparent decision not to block an upcoming visit by an American aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, to the Chinese territory of Hong Kong — despite a vow to suspend military-to-military contacts over Washington's announcement last month of a $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan. "This is a sign that China has not totally closed its military contact with the U.S. and overall, the two sides are still keeping channels of communication open," said Tsinghua's Sun. Beijing also seems to have called a time-out on other disputes, including calls by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Chinese government to investigate hacking attacks that led to Google's threat to pull out of China. Beijing has also not moved to make good on a threat to retaliate against U.S. companies involved in the Taiwan arms sale. Chinese media outlets that fulminated for weeks over such perceived U.S. outrages seemed to adopt a softer tone on Friday. The Global Times, a jingoistic tabloid published by the Communist Party's main People's Daily newspaper, ran reports that largely portraying relations in a cooperative light. In past China-U.S. crises, Beijing has toned down the rhetoric in state media as a way of indicating to the public that events have run their course. While media outrage panders to the Chinese public's desire to stand up to the U.S., China's leaders will offer a more measured response, Cheng said. "There is a rising nationalism in China, there's no doubt about it. But the government won't respond irrationally beyond taking limited retaliatory measures," he said.

DTN News: India Light Combat Helicopter LCH To Take First Test Flight By Month-End

DTN News: India Light Combat Helicopter LCH To Take First Test Flight By Month-End *Source: DTN News / By Vibha Sharma Tribune News Service (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - February 13, 2010: India’s first indigenously made Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) will be making its maiden flight soon, most likely by the end of this month. Managing Director of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s helicopter complex R Srinavasan today said development of the LCH was well on its way and the attack helicopter would have its initial flight very soon. “The LCH has successfully completed its initial ground test runs,” he told a seminar on helicopters, Helipower India, organised by the Rotary Wing Society of India The twin-engine LCH is a pure attack helicopter made by the design experience gained from the Dhruv Advance Light Helicopter developed by the HAL. Currently around 100 Dhruv helicopters are being used by the Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces like the Coast Guard and the BSF, civil operators like Pawan Hans and the ONGC, and state governments like Jharkhand. Dhruv is also being used by foreign countries like Ecuador, Nepal, Mauritius and Male. Development time for the LCH was reduced because most of its components had been already checked out on Dhruv. HAL officials say the attack helicopter will have several advance systems, which are available on very few helicopters worldwide, and it had been developed keeping in mind the Indian terrain and operating conditions. At present the only attack helicopters available with the IAF are Russian-made Mi-25 and Mi-35, which are not optimised for operations at high altitude. Experts say if during Kargil war, which was fought at very high altitude, the LCH was operational the scenario would have been very different. The Shakti engine being used in the LCH has been jointly developed by the HAL and Turbomeca of France with primary focus on high altitude operation in Himalayas. Besides operations at very high altitudes, it is expected to meet operational requirements like air support, anti-infantry and anti-armour roles. Best advance systems have been fitted on the helicopter, procured from different vendors worldwide that will ensure cutting edge technology to our defence operators, HAL officials say. The HAL has also carried out modifications on some variants of its Dhruv chopper for anti-Naxalite operations with suggestions from paramilitary forces involved in anti-Naxal operations. The two-day conference is being attended by civil and military helicopter pilots and professionals, besides representatives of chopper producing firms and officials of civil aviation and defence ministries.