Saturday, May 08, 2010

DTN News: Automobile News May 8, 2010 ~ India's Mahindra Pickups Could Hit U.S. In Under 90 Days

DTN News: Automobile News May 8, 2010 ~ India's Mahindra Pickups Could Hit U.S. In Under 90 Days Source: DTN News / Auto News (NSI News Source Info) MUMBAI, India - May 8, 2010: Plagued by a series of setbacks, delays, and that little thing called "the chicken tax," Mahindra has yet to receive EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 federal emissions certification for its TR20 and TR40 pickups. But man, they must be getting really close. Right? John Perez, CEO of Global Vehicles USA, Mahindra's exclusive U.S. distributor, says that all the emissions testing on the trucks has been completed and the paperwork is being submitted to the EPA for final approval. Approval itself is expected to take about 30 days. At that point, Global Vehicles could begin importing the trucks to the United States. They'd arrive on our shores 30 to 60 days later. By our math, that sounds like we could have Mahindra pickup trucks on U.S. roads before the end of August, but neither Perez nor Mahindra's corporate offices are talking sale dates yet. Experience has probably taught them not to make predictions, but with 330 dealers signed up and raring to go, we're sure that official sales date can't come soon enough for any of the parties involved. When they eventually go on sale, Mahindra pickups will be offered in two configurations: a two-door regular cab, the TR20, and a four-door crew cab, the TR40. Both will offer Mahindra's slightly modified version of the mHawk 2.2-liter inline-four-cylinder diesel engine. Official EPA numbers obviously haven't been determined yet, but the trucks are expected to have fuel economy ratings around 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Not too shabby considering their 1.3-ton hauling capability. Pricing is expected to start around $22,000

DTN News: Iran Welcomes Turkish, Brazilian Nuclear Fuel Ideas

DTN News: Iran Welcomes Turkish, Brazilian Nuclear Fuel Ideas Source: DTN News / Int'l Media by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Matthew Jones (NSI News Source Info) NEW YORK, U.S. - May 8, 2010: Iran gave an upbeat assessment of Turkish and Brazilian mediation efforts in its nuclear dispute with the West, welcoming "in principle" ideas aimed at reviving a stalled U.N.-backed atom fuel swap deal with major powers. "New formulas have been raised about the exchange of fuel ... I think we can arrive at practical agreements on these formulas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in remarks published by the Iran daily on Saturday. "That is why we welcomed the proposals in principle ... and left the details for more examination." He did not elaborate on the content of the proposals. His comments appeared part of an Iranian attempt to avert a possible new round of U.N. sanctions on the Islamic state over a nuclear programme the West fears is designed to develop bombs. Turkey and Brazil are currently non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Analysts say Iran may be trying to buy time and to split the six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- which are discussing additional punitive measures against the Islamic Republic. Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says it only seeks to generate electricity and has repeatedly refused to bow to international demands to halt sensitive atomic activity. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this week agreed "in principle" to Brazilian mediation on the proposed fuel swap exchange, Iranian media reported. The powers see the plan as a way to remove much of Iran's low-enriched uranium stockpile to minimise the risk of this being used for atomic bombs, while Iran would get specially processed fuel to keep its nuclear medicine programme running. But the proposal broke down over Iran's insistence on doing the swap only on its territory, rather than shipping its LEU abroad in advance, and in smaller, phased amounts, meaning no meaningful cut in a stockpile which grows day by day. "ULTIMATELY POSITIVE" Turkey and Brazil have been trying to revive the fuel deal in a bid to stave off further sanctions. Iran has also put forward a counterproposal, dismissed by Western officials. The United States is lobbying U.N. Security Council members to back sanctions including proposed measures targeting Iranian banks, shipping and the country's all-important energy sector. But Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told Reuters on Friday his country saw a window of opportunity and a willingness by Iran to reach a negotiated solution over its nuclear programme. He met Ahmadinejad in Tehran last week. Russia and China, veto-wielding members of the Security Council which have significant commercial links with Iran, have said they are willing to give Turkey and Brazil more time to resuscitate the fuel proposal. Brazil favours a mooted compromise in which Iran could export its uranium to another country in return for higher-enriched fuel for a Tehran research reactor. Iran has so far insisted the exchange must take place on its territory. "The framework set out by the countries (Turkey and Brazil), alongside our own country's recent proposal, has the potential from the perspective of Iran for arriving at a final common point and becoming operational," Mehmanparast said. "At any rate, we believe the efforts being undertaken by friendly countries, such as Turkey and Brazil, can ultimately be positive," he added.

DTN News: Syria Ready To Resume Peace Talks With Israel - Turkey

DTN News: Syria Ready To Resume Peace Talks With Israel - Turkey Source: DTN News / Int'l Media Editing by Maria Golovnina (NSI News Source Info) ANKARA, Turkey - May 8, 2010: Syria is ready to reopen peace talks with Israel, with Turkey serving as a mediator, but Israel has not asked Ankara to resume that role, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Saturday. "Syria has said it is ready to resume talks where they were left off," Gul told a news conference. "However, we have not heard from the Israeli side. It is up to them." Speaking alongside Gul, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he was ready for talks. Yet he accused Israel of avoiding negotiations, saying it does not want a resolution in the fight over the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured in 1967. "Israel is not ready for mediation because it knows that a successful mediation will bring peace, and the Israeli side does not want peace," he said. "We emphasise mediation and Turkey's role, but we also say Israel is not an honest partner." Israel and Syria held four indirect rounds of talks with Turkish mediation in 2008. Those were suspended after the Israeli incursion into Palestinian-run Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly criticised the Israeli offensive in Gaza, prompting some politicians in Israel to question Turkey's suitability as a neutral mediator. Muslim but constitutionally secular Turkey has a record of military cooperation with Israel and has acted as an intermediary between the Jewish state and the Arab world. Warmer ties between NATO member Turkey and Muslim neighbours including Iran and Syria have raised concerns that Ankara's traditionally Western-anchored foreign policy is moving east. Turkey could play a part in negotiations between Iran and Western powers over its nuclear program, Assad said. "I want Turkey to continue its important role because a trust has formed between the Iranian and Turkish governments and Turkey has wide relations with the rest of the region," he said. "But any political agreement must be reached on the basis of international agreements ... We want the region purged of weapons of mass destruction," he said, but added Iran has the right to develop nuclear power. Iran says it wants nuclear power to generate electricity. The West fears it is designed to develop bombs. The United States has accused Syria of covert nuclear activity, and European allies have criticised Damascus' lack of transparency.

DTN News: Pak Interior Minister Says Taliban Link To Times Square Bomb Plot Under Probe

DTN News: Pak Interior Minister Says Taliban Link To Times Square Bomb Plot Under Probe Source: DTN News / ANI (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - May 8, 2010: Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday that the Taliban link to the Times Square bomb plot is under investigation by the concerned authorities. Malik said that Islamabad is determining whether Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested over the botched plot met Pakistani Taliban leaders in their stronghold in the northwest. He said Pakistani investigators were trying to verify information provided by the United States that 30-year-old Shahzad had visited South Waziristan. "Yes, today we received a formal request from them in which they have given the details of the charges according to which Shahzad has been visiting South Waziristan and meeting Qari Hussain and Hakimullah Mehsud. But it all needs confirmation. The statement of accused should substantiate with some documentary or material evidence. So, we will investigate. One thing I want to say and which is very clear that the acts of terorism bring horror to the world and we are facing it too. We will provide full support to American authorities to bring the culprits to justice,"Rehman told reporters here. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attempted car bomb attack, but a spokesman for the militants has denied links to Shahzad. If confirmed that the Taliban in Pakistan sponsored the attempted bombing in New York, it would be the group's first involvement in an attack on U.S. soil.

DTN News: American made ... Chinese Owned ~ Full Version

DTN News: American made ... Chinese Owned ~ Full Version Source: Fortune By Sheridan Prasso, contributing editor (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 8, 2010: About a mile past the Bountiful Blessings Church on the outskirts of Spartanburg, S.C., make a right turn. There, tucked into an industrial court behind a row of sapling cherry trees not much taller than I am, past a company that makes rubber stamps and another that stitches logos onto caps and bags, is a brand-new factory: the state-of-the-art American Yuncheng Gravure Cylinder plant. Due to open any day now, it will make cylinders used to print labels like the ones around plastic soda bottles. But unlike its neighbors in Spartanburg, Yuncheng is a Chinese company. It has come to South Carolina because by Chinese standards, America is darn cheap. Yes, you read that right. The land Yuncheng purchased in Spartanburg, at $350,000 for 6.5 acres, cost one-fourth the price of land back in Shanghai or Dongguan, a gritty city near Hong Kong where the company already runs three plants. Electricity is cheaper too: Yungcheng pays up to 14¢ per kilowatt-hour in China at peak usage, and just 4¢ in South Carolina. And no brownouts either, a sporadic problem in China. It's true that American workers are much more expensive, of course, and the overall cost of making a widget in China remains lower, and perhaps always will. But for hundreds of Chinese companies like Yuncheng, the U.S. has become a better, less expensive place to set up shop. It could be the biggest role reversal since, well ... when Nixon went to China. "The gap between manufacturing costs in the U.S. and China is shrinking," explains John Ling, a naturalized American from China who runs the South Carolina Department of Commerce's business recruitment office in Shanghai. Ling recruited Yuncheng to Spartanburg, and others too: Chinese companies have invested $280 million and created more than 1,200 jobs in South Carolina alone. Today some 33 American states, ports, and municipalities have sent representatives like Ling to China to lure jobs once lost to China back to the U.S.: Besides affordable land and reliable power, states and cities are offering tax credits and other incentives to woo Chinese manufacturers. Beijing, meanwhile, which has mandated that Chinese companies globalize by expanding to key markets around the world, is chipping in by offering to finance up to 30% of the initial investment costs, according to Chinese business sources. What would Henry Luce think? The enticements are working. Chinese companies announced new direct investments in the U.S. of close to $5 billion in 2009 alone, according to New York City-based economic consultancy the Rhodium Group, which tallied the numbers for Fortune. That's well below Japanese investment in the U.S., which peaked at $148 billion in 1991, but a big jump from China's previous investments, which had been averaging around $500 million a year. Chinese firms last year acquired or announced they were starting more than 50 U.S. companies. And when China finally allows the value of its currency, the yuan, to appreciate -- and it's just a question of when -- Americans can expect to see Chinese projects, small today, really take off and have an impact on the U.S. economy. This could be a good thing for relations between the two countries. "It will take many years to balance out the flow of U.S. investment into China," says Dan Rosen, a principal at the Rhodium Group. But, he says, China's aggressive interest in U.S. investment suddenly gives Washington some leverage as it seeks to negotiate with Beijing on tariffs, trade issues, and economic policy. None of that matters much in Spartanburg. Skilled workers at American Yuncheng will earn $25 to $30 an hour, line operators $10 to $12. That's a lot more than the $2 an hour that unskilled labor costs in China, but the company can qualify for a state payroll tax credit of $1,500 per worker (for any company creating more than 10 jobs). And by being closer to companies like Coca-Cola, Yuncheng can respond more quickly when they need new labels designed to show that a product has reduced its fat content or added more flavor. If business goes well, company president Li Wenchun expects to double the size of his operation, maybe in five to 10 years, and employ up to 120 Americans. "I'd like it to be next month, but it depends on how fast we develop the market here," he tells me through a Mandarin interpreter. So far there's little sign of anti-Chinese sentiment among South Carolinians, who watched their state lose its cotton-based textile-manufacturing industry to low-cost countries like China. Fortune asked Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican torchbearer for conservative causes, what he thinks of communists creating work in his home state. "South Carolina is one of the best places in the world to do business, and that's why so many international companies are moving jobs into our state" is his only reply. Brenda Missouri, a 43-year-old leaks tester who works for appliance maker Haier, speaks about her employer in glowing terms. Haier was the first Chinese company to build a factory in the U.S. -- a refrigerator plant in Camden, S.C., in 2000. "They're good business folks; they get the job done," she says. As for communism? "Doesn't matter," she shrugs. "It's money that makes the difference." Chinese companies, American workers Last December the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations dispatched me to Corpus Christi to give a speech about the Chinese and their economy. Why? Because, they told me, the region is about to become home to the largest-ever Chinese-built factory in the U.S., a $1 billion plant by Tianjin Pipe Group to manufacture seamless pipe for oil drilling. If everything proceeds as planned -- the company received its air-quality permit on April 14 and hopes to break ground by fall -- Tianjin Pipe expects to employ 600 Texans by 2012 and to provide an estimated $2.7 billion to the local economy over the next decade. Corpus Christians, it turned out, wanted to know more about their new neighbors who are expected to relocate 40 to 50 families to Texas. Upon arrival, I find it impossible not to notice the resemblance of Corpus Christi's long, curving coastline on the Gulf of Mexico to the one near Tianjin on the Bohai Sea between northern China and Korea. Some 75 U.S. locales competed for the factory, but when Chinese delegations from Tianjin Pipe visited Corpus Christi, the townspeople made them feel at home by welcoming the visitors to backyard barbecues. They even enlisted the Taiwan-born former owner of the local Chinese restaurant, Yalee Shih -- perhaps the only woman in town who could speak Mandarin -- to help them navigate cultural nuances. Shih, who also sits on the board of the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures, delicately helped prevent a multimillion-dollar translation error over building costs that might have cost Corpus Christi the project, and also quashed what would have been an impolitic gift of clocks -- which to the Chinese symbolize death or the end of a relationship -- from a local retailer. She and others in the region's business community plan to help guide their new residents through life in America, like how to buy a car, how to rent a house, as well as where to go to buy fragrant rice instead of Uncle Ben's. In the end, while feeling at home helps, it does come down to business, says J.J. Johnston, executive vice president and chief business development officer of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. "They like the strategic location of our region, the convenient access to materials coming in -- mostly scrap metal and pig iron -- and the ability to export to North and South America through the port of Corpus Christi," he says. There are other incentives. On April 9 the U.S. Commerce Department imposed import duties of up to 99% on the type of seamless pipe that is to be manufactured by Tianjin Pipe -- a reprisal prompted by the United Steelworkers union. The Chinese company, the world's largest maker of steel pipe, had said it could not afford to export to the U.S. if tariffs were over 20%. Now its pipe will be made in America. "It's just another reason they have to have a U.S.-based production facility," says Johnston. Even without tariffs, Tianjin had been looking to expand -- as are many Chinese companies once they reach about $100 million in annual sales. "Chinese companies, as they get bigger, have to start thinking about their global positioning," says Clarence Kwan, who runs the Chinese Services Group at Deloitte, which advises Chinese companies on doing business in the U.S. Officially the Chinese government has given approval to over 1,200 Chinese investments in the U.S., but that number is considered low because it doesn't count those made via Hong Kong -- where many Chinese companies earn equity capital from being publicly traded -- or tax havens like the Virgin Islands, where Chinese investment may stop first before flowing to the U.S. Plus, investments below $100 million don't need Beijing's nod and may be approved at the local level. Chinese companies see America as more than a manufacturing center. So far this year they have announced plans to build a wind-energy turbine plant and wind farm in Nevada that will create 1,000 American jobs; purchased the 400-employee Los Angeles Marriott Downtown out of foreclosure; and acquired a shuttered shopping center in Milwaukee, with plans to turn it into a mega-mall for 200 Chinese retailers. In some cases Chinese companies are resuscitating American outfits that had been left for dead. About 70 miles west of Spartanburg, near the Georgia border, past signs reading "24-hour fried chicken," another Chinese company is hiring engineers -- metallurgical and mechanical, some from nearby Clemson University. In June 2009, Top-Eastern Group, a tool manufacturer based in China's coastal city of Dalian, acquired a factory here along with three other facilities from Kennametal, one of America's largest machine-tool makers, after the U.S. company, based in Latrobe, Pa., reported a $137 million loss (citing a slowdown in industrial activity) in the quarter before the sale. China: scapegoat or threat This plant, in Seneca, S.C., makes drill bits. And in the months since his purchase of it for $29 million, Top-Eastern founder Jeff Chee has invested another $10 million to upgrade machinery, built a $3 million logistics center, brought back Kennametal's furloughed workers, hired 120 more, and now has his 260-employee plant working overtime filling orders for the Cleveland Twist Drills, Chicago Latrobe, Putnam, and Bassett brands he acquired. He brought back the company's old name, which was Greenfield Industries before Kennametal acquired it in 1997, and emblazoned it on a sign out front. General Electric's former CEO , Jack Welch, he volunteers, is his inspiration. "I've read a lot of books, and I learned a lot from him," Chee says in broken English amid the sharp smell of grinding steel. "One person can change a lot." As one of China's self-made entrepreneurs, who started Top-Eastern in 1994 with just $500, Chee now has worldwide sales of more than $120 million, 4,000 employees, and factories in Germany and Brazil. He visits the South Carolina plant monthly to make sure all is proceeding as planned, and employs American managers to run it in his absence rather than bring over Chinese. "There's good, experienced people and good know-how already here," he says. How can he make a drill bit factory profitable where Kennametal had struggled? By increasing productivity with new equipment and cutting costs, he says. Plus, Chee forges his own steel, and he owns the mines back in China for two of its more expensive components, tungsten and molybdenum. The fact that he can source from himself means he keeps the margins -- and now his tools are officially made in the U.S. The cost of making those products is much higher than in China, he says, "but the problem is customers just accept 'made in U.S.A.' products, so I have no choice. Lots of customers here have government contracts that have 'made in U.S.A.' requirements." And how do the employees feel about having a Chinese entrepreneur come to their rescue? "Just because it's a Chinese owner, they don't really care," says Scott Henderson, a 47-year-old manufacturing manager who had been furloughed one week a month along with his workers before Chee bought the factory. "They're all happy to be working 40 hours a week." They also have the opportunity for overtime, and a third, graveyard shift has been added to serve a nearly 40% rise in orders. "I feel great about it," says Sam Marcengill, a 24-year-old technician at the plant. Last year he was laid off for six months before Chee's purchase gave him his job back. Now he's on overtime, 48 hours a week. "The work's a lot more steady. It's better. Personally I'm a lot better off. It's a great thing." Never mind the hiccups Chinese companies experienced when they tried to enter the U.S. before. In 2005, Washington famously blocked China's National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOO C) from buying Unocal, and Chinese appliance maker Haier failed to acquire Maytag. Now, like the Japanese in the 1980s -- when U.S. trade frictions combined with Japan's boom blossomed into Honda and Toyota manufacturing plants -- the Chinese are here to stay. Their presence initially made some folks uneasy. A few years ago a caller to The Rush Limbaugh Show complained that as he was driving past the Haier plant in Camden, the Chinese flag was flying higher than the American flag and the South Carolina state flag out front. It was an easy mistake to make by anyone looking at the three equal-height flagpoles from an angle. Conservative media joined in and called for protests, and the public rang the factory to complain. The Chinese executives at Haier had no idea flags were such a big deal, and it became their bugaboo. The complaints continued until about a year and a half ago when Haier America factory president Joseph Sexton, who was new to the job, decided to fix it. He had two of the poles lowered so that the U.S. flag looks highest from all angles. It took Haier some time to work through the issues of being a Chinese employer in a small, historic Southern town (pop. 6,682) lined with stately antebellum houses and home to two Revolutionary War battlefields. "Having a Chinese manager didn't work. That's why they took all the Chinese managers out of here," says Haier's human resources director, Gerald Reeves, who was one of the first hired by Haier and guided the Chinese through the realities of Americanstyle personnel management -- including convincing them that they needed to offer health insurance. He once even asked John Ling, South Carolina's man in Shanghai, to fly home from China to talk to a manager who was arousing employee resentment by publicly embarrassing the workers, Chinese-style, for their mistakes. Now the only way to know you're in a Chinese factory is by looking up at the large Chinese flag hanging from the rafters -- alongside an American one, of course -- and by the very Chinese motivational slogans on the walls: "Spirit of entrepreneurship -- strive for a clearly defined objective and make the impossible possible without an excuse" reads the banner over the refrigerator testing line. And if you come in February, Sexton organizes a Chinese New Year party with food and outdoor firecrackers. What is perhaps most startling about the Haier factory is that it is actually shipping goods back to China. Best known for its mini-fridges for dorm rooms and studio apartments, Haier's U.S. plant also makes large units, good for supersized American McMansions but too large for a typical Chinese household. Now a growing number of wealthy people in China want to supersize too, so Haier has realized it can ship a small number, maybe 4,000 a year, of its highest-end refrigerators home and sell them for $2,600 apiece -- more than China's average annual income of around $2,000. (Haier also ships U.S.-made refrigerators to India, Australia, Mexico, and Canada.) There aren't enough wealthy customers yet to make it worthwhile retooling any of the 29 Haier factories in China, but the nearby deepwater port in Charleston, S.C., makes export easy enough. "There are folks in China who want high-end products," says Haier America factory president Joseph Sexton. "China is a much different place than people think." Chinese newcomers would do well to learn from Haier's missteps as well as its great strides. "They're coming with little experience into a highly sophisticated market, and they are bound to make mistakes," says Karl Sauvant, executive director of the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment at Columbia University and a law lecturer there, who in February published an edited volume titled Investing in the United States: Is the U.S. Ready for FDI From China? "This is the thing the Japanese did fairly successfully: You have to be a good corporate citizen, source locally, contribute to causes and charities in the local community, and be familiar with how to navigate the corridors of Washington," says Sauvant. "And in key managerial positions you should have Americans." Legal questions, such as whether Chinese companies operating in America would be subject in U.S. courts to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for business practices in, say, India or elsewhere have yet to be tested, he says. And then there's the issue of the local sensitivities exhibited in the Haier flag-flying incident. Unlike Japan, China is no U.S. military ally -- despite President Obama's naming China a "strategic partner," instead of the "strategic competitor" label it had under the Bush administration. Politically it remains a communist country, despite its capitalist economy. There's obviously more to overcome. Chinese investors say they don't care too much about politics, but hope their entry into the U.S. can be a positive force. "This will definitely help U.S.-China relations," remarks Li, the manager of the print-cylinder factory Yuncheng, as he guides me on a tour. "Increasing communication makes the two sides closer." Even if it doesn't, business is business. "Good products are borderless," he notes. And there's always a Chinese proverb to cite: "It takes 10 years to make a sword," says Li. In other words, keep at it till you get it right, and the outcome will be strong and lasting. And perhaps transform into the plowshare that sows a mutually beneficial harvest for America and China both. *This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: Disclaimer statement Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

DTN News: Saudi Gets Four Years For Cheating US Military

DTN News: Saudi Gets Four Years For Cheating US Military Source: Arab News (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 8, 2010: A Saudi man who lives in Sugar Land, Texas, is heading to prison for supplying counterfeit computer parts to the US Marine Corps in Iraq. Ehab Ali Ashoor, 49, was sentenced to four years and three months in federal prison after he was convicted at trial in January, federal authorities said Thursday. Ashoor bought counterfeit Cisco equipment from an online vendor in China intending to sell it to the Marine Corps in Iraq for transmitting troop movements, relaying intelligence and maintaining security for a military base west of Fallujah, according to evidence produced at Ashoor's trial. The contract between Ashoor's company, CDS Federal Inc., and the Marine Corps was to provide 200 Cisco gigabit interface converters, or GBICs, for US military use in their computer network at the Marine Base in Al-Taqaddum, Iraq, some 65 km west of Fallujah. The contract clearly stated that the GBICs had to be genuine Cisco products and not an imitation brand that claimed the same specifications, cautioning that, "not only is this a quality issue it is a possible security issue." But Ashoor purchased the 200 GBICs from a Hong Kong vendor off eBay for approximately $25 each, less than 5 percent of the market price for genuine Cisco GBICs. He told the Hong Kong contact that he wanted the GBICs to be in imitation Cisco packaging. Ashoor then turned these around and sold them to the Marines at $595 each per GBIC, for a total contract price of $119,000. "Ashoor's attempt to fulfill his contractual obligations to the US Marine Corps through the use of counterfeit Cisco computer parts could have placed our men and women in uniform at risk had he been able to successfully deliver those counterfeit goods. Thanks to the efforts of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Illinois, Ashoor did not succeed," US attorney Jose Angel Moreno said. The shoddy computer parts were never used as customs agents noticed something odd with the shipment and referred it to investigators, and the Marine Corps stockpiled the parts until the inquiry was finished. Ashoor is not the first to be punished for this kind of offense. Last January, in California, a 33-year-old Chinese resident Yongcai Li was sent to prison for 30 months and told to pay Cisco $790,683. The federal crackdown on shady businesses that supply shoddy computer goods to the military and federal agencies is called Operation Network Raider, and has now led to 30 felony convictions. It has also resulted in over 700 seizures of counterfeit Cisco network hardware and labels, the estimated retail value of which is over $143 million. "Trafficking in counterfeit computer components is a problem that spans the globe and impacts most, if not all, major network equipment manufacturers," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the criminal division at the US Department of Justice told reporters Thursday. Next month, two Houston brothers, Michael and Richard Edman, are scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty to selling computer network cards to the Marine Corps, Air Force, FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and Energy Department, among other agencies. Judge David Hittner, who sentenced Ashoor to 51 months in prison, imposed the maximum term recommended by federal prosecutors on Thursday. Ashoor sat slumped in his chair as the judge read the sentence. When the prosecutor pointed out that Ashoor had shown disregard for the men and women serving in Iraq, the judge quipped: "Well, they're obviously not his men and women." "See that he is deported," Judge Hittner said, raising his voice in anger after handing down the sentence. Ashoor's wife, Nargus Khan, 40, said they had lived in the United States for 20 years and had two children, but had remained citizens of Saudi Arabia. To see more of the Arab News or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to .*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: Disclaimer statement Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News. Links to this story; 1) Ars Technica ~ 2) Arab News ~

DTN News: Taiwan Has Still Not Heard From Obama On High-Priority F-16s

DTN News: Taiwan Has Still Not Heard From Obama On High-Priority F-16s Source: DTN News / (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - May 8, 2010: A U.S. official said Taiwan's government is continuing to press the Obama administration to sell the island nation additional F-16 jet fighters to replace aging F-5s. However, the official said it was unclear whether the administration will grant the request due to White House's concern of further upsetting China. Beijing cut off military relations with the United States after the administration announced in January that it would sell $6.4- billion in arms to Taiwan, including missile defenses and Black Hawk helicopters, but not the F-16s. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has told U.S. officials the weapons are needed to enhance the island’s defenses against a growing Chinese military threat. The F-16s remain high on Ma’s priority list. A recent Defense Intelligence Agency assessment said that Taiwan’s F-5s have “reached the end of their operational service life, and while the indigenously produced FCK-1 Indigenous Defense Fighter is a large component of Taiwan's active fighter force, it lacks the capability for sustained sorties.” Taiwan is seeking an additional 66 F-16s to supplement the 146 F-16s acquired in the 1990s. Taiwan is seeking the new jets before the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, closes the production line

DTN News: China, Iran, North Korea Have Formed Strategic Alliance

DTN News: China, Iran, North Korea Have Formed Strategic Alliance Source: DTN News / (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - May 8, 2010: China, Iran and North Korea have established a strategic alliance that focuses on missile and nuclear development, according to a new report. The report said that Beijing, Pyongyang and Teheran were helping each other in missile and nuclear programs. The report, titled "China, Iran and North Korea: A Triangular Strategic Alliance," by Israel's GLORIA Center said China and North Korea were the key suppliers of Scud-based ballistic missiles to Iran's military, the target of Western sanctions. "This flurry of activities underscored the growing proliferation threats posed by DPRK [North Korea] assistance to Iran's missile capabilities, which has also led to collaboration in the nuclear realm," the report, published in the Middle East Review of International Affairs, said. The report said North Korea helped develop Iran's Shihab ballistic missiles series. Author Christina Lin said North Korea's Taepo Dong intermediate-range missiles have served as the basis of Iran's program, including the design of a nuclear interncontinental ballistic missile with a range of up to 6,000 kilometers, dubbed Shihab-6. China has sought to make Iran a key waystation in Beijing's silk road policy of expanding influence throughout Asia. The report said Beijing, believed to be channeling aid through neighboring North Korea, regarded Iran as an ally to balance the strategic relationship between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council. "Iran may also be a new pearl in China's maritime pearl necklace," the report said. "China is increasing its naval presence in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, with a call in December 2009 by Chinese Rear Adm. Yin Zhou to set up a permanent naval base in the Gulf of Aden." The report did not discount the prospect that China would establish a permanent naval base in Iran. Ms. Yin, today a researcher with Jane's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Intelligence Center, said China could be offered a naval base at one of Iran's islands in the Gulf. "Iran may be inclined to offset U.S. pressure by playing the 'China card' should the United States try to project military power by utilizing some of the UAE's man-made islands," the report said. "Indeed, in November 2009, NATO entered into the advanced stages of negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement with the United Arab Emirates in the face of Iran's nuclear threat." The report said China was expected to block United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran. Ms. Lin compared China's role to that of Russia's alliance with Serbia when it came under attack by a Western-led coalition in 1999. Regardless of UN sanctions, North Korea would continue to funnel weapons and technology to Iran, the report said. Ms. Lin said Iran has financed North Korean research and development of ballistic missiles and other strategic systems. "Iran and DPRK have partnered closely on missile flight-testing, proxy testing of DPRK systems in Iran, and data exchanges," the report said. "Proxy testing in Iran of jointly developed missiles allowed DPRK to avoid sanctions after the September 1999 missile test moratorium while continuing its missile advances." The report said the Damascus-Pyongyang alliance has spread to Syria and Hizbullah. This has included North Korean construction of an alleged plutonium production plant in Syria as well as constructing tunnels for Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. "The three top Hizbullah officials who received training in DPRK are Hassan Nasrallah,Hizbullah's secretary general and the head of the Hizbullah military organization; Ibrahim Akil, head of Hizbullah's security and intelligence service; and Mustapha Badreddine, Hizbullah's counter-espionage chief," the report said.

DTN News: Pakistan Says Nuclear Safety Concerns Addressed

DTN News: Pakistan Says Nuclear Safety Concerns Addressed Source: DTN News / Reuters Zeeshan Haider (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - May 8, 2010: Pakistan reiterated a call on Saturday for the international community to recognize it as a nuclear power, saying it had addressed the world's concerns over the safety and security of its nuclear weapons. Pakistan is a crucial ally in the U.S.-led fight against al Qaeda and Taliban and President Barack Obama last month expressed confidence over the security of Pakistan's nuclear programs. However, militant attacks across the country, even on supposedly secure military installations, have raised fears that militants could penetrate nuclear facilities. But Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said he had "laid to rest" all concerns about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear program at a summit hosted by Obama in Washington last month, and the world had "expressed satisfaction" over Pakistan's nuclear security arrangements. "There is now a need for the world to move on beyond safety and security concerns," Gilani said while addressing military officials at the test-firing of two short-range, nuclear-capable missiles. "It is time for the world to recognize Pakistan as a dejure nuclear power with equal rights and responsibilities," the military quoted him as saying in a statement. Gilani and senior military officials watched the test-firing of the Ghaznavi ballistic missile, which can travel up to 300 km (185 miles), and the Shaheen-I, with a range of 650 km (400 miles). Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947. They regularly carry out missile tests and the latest Pakistani tests were not expected to increase tension between them. "VITAL ECONOMIC SECURITY NEED" Gilani also reiterated a Pakistani offer made at the Washington summit to provide nuclear fuel cycle services, under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, to the world. Pakistan's nuclear program has been under intense international scrutiny since its inception in the 1970s. In 2004, top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan admitted to selling Iran, North Korea and Libya nuclear enrichment technology that can be used to produce fuel for civilian reactors or atomic weapons. Pakistan denied the government knew anything about Khan's activities though Western diplomats and intelligence officials say they believe some members of Pakistan's government and military were aware of his nuclear network. Gilani, whose government is struggling with a chronic energy crisis and acute power shortages, also reiterated a call for the provision of civilian nuclear technology by the international community. "Energy is a vital economic security need of Pakistan and nuclear energy is a clean way forward," he said. Pakistan has long been asking for a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, similar to one the United States has with India. But the United States is reluctant to strike such a deal with Pakistan mainly because of Khan's proliferation activities. Pakistan first carried out nuclear tests in May 1998, days after similar tests by India. Like India, Pakistan has not signed the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Pakistan has about 80 atomic bombs and fissile material for up to 150 more, international experts say. (Editing by Robert Birsel and Sugita Katyal)