Monday, July 23, 2012

DTN News - SYRIA UNREST: Syria 'Will Not Use' Chemical Weapons On Its Own People

DTN News - SYRIA UNREST:  Syria 'Will Not Use' Chemical Weapons On Its Own People
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources BBC
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 23, 2012:  Syria has said it will not use chemical weapons against its own people, but would do so against an external attack.

Acknowledging their existence for the first time, Damascus said the weapons, stored and secured by the armed forces, would never be used "inside Syria".

Rebels have told the BBC's Paul Wood in Syria that they are encouraged by the killing of four top security officials.

But the refugee crisis has deepened, and Iraq has announced it is opening its borders to help people flee.

An estimated 1.5 million people are homeless within Syria, according to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which says the number is rising.

'External aggression'
"Any chemical or biological weapons will never be used, I repeat, will never be used in the Syrian crisis, no matter what the internal developments in this crisis are," Mr Makdissi said, at a news conference broadcast on Syrian state TV.

"All varieties of these weapons are stored and secured by the Syrian armed forces and under its direct supervision, and will not be used unless Syria is subjected to external aggression."

Until now, Syria has never officially confirmed it has chemical weapons. It is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which outlaws production.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said "it would be reprehensible if anybody in Syria is contemplating use of such weapons of mass destruction like chemical weapons".

While Damascus's acknowledgement that it has such arms adds a new dimension, it is not in itself significant, says Leonard Spector of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in the US.

"This has been part of the military balance for decades," he has told the BBC news website.

The West and Israel have been deeply worried that Syria might use its stocks of chemical weapons, says the BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon.

On 16 July, the most senior Syrian politician to defect to the opposition told the BBC the government would not hesitate to use chemical weapons if it were cornered.

Nawaf al-Fares, Syria's former ambassador to Iraq, said unconfirmed reports indicated such weapons might have already been used.

However, the opposition has not reported any use of chemical weapons.

Aleppo offensive
Meanwhile, Arab League foreign ministers have urged President Assad to resign rapidly, offering him safe passage. They say the opposition should form a transitional government.

Rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) told our correspondent undercover with them near Damascus that the once-feared secret police is now a spent force, and the government is relying entirely on a weakened military.

They say the deaths of four men, including the defence minister and President Assad's brother-in-law, in a Damascus bombing on 18 July, were a severe blow to the government.

But parts of the capital that had fallen into rebel hands have been recaptured by government forces.

State TV on Monday showed images of troops going house-to-house and kicking down doors in Damascus, searching for rebel fighters.

Continued clashes were reported in the northern city of Aleppo.

Rebels launched a new offensive at the weekend, vowing to take the city completely and use it as a base for liberating the whole country.

Videos posted online on Monday showed jubilant rebel fighters in the Sakhour district.

State TV played down the scale of the violence, saying troops were merely hunting down "terrorists".

The most senior Turkish diplomat remaining in Syria, the consul in Aleppo, has been withdrawn for consultations.

Turkey and Lebanon have taken in thousands of refugees in camps near the Syrian border and the UN refugee agency says its staff are building a camp in Jordan as well.

Around 1,000 people are arriving in Jordan every day and the agency says the site at Za'atri should be able to cope with more than 100,000 refugees.

Tighter sanctions
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has announced another 20m euros for "emergency medical care, shelter, food and water to those Syrians most affected by the ever-worsening crisis, both inside and outside the country".

The aid coincided with a decision by EU foreign ministers to tighten EU sanctions on the Syrian government.

EU member states will be required to send inspectors to board planes and ships on their territory believed to be carrying weapons or suspicious supplies to Damascus.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague called for more support for the opposition, "including helping them prepare for Syria after Assad".

Russian airline Aeroflot is to end flights to Damascus from 6 August, citing lack of demand.

On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 19,106 people had been killed since March 2011. The UN said in May that at least 10,000 people had been killed.

Syria blames the violence on foreign-backed "armed terrorist gangs".

In June, the Syrian government reported that 6,947 Syrians had died, including at least 3,211 civilians and 2,566 security forces personnel.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources BBC
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - SPECIAL REPORT: Colorado Shooting Suspect Makes First Appearance In Court

DTN News - SPECIAL REPORT: Colorado Shooting Suspect Makes First Appearance In Court
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Gillian Flaccus and Nicholas Riccardi — The Associated Press / The Globe And Mail
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 23, 2012: Wearing orange-red hair and looking dazed, the man accused of going on a deadly shooting rampage at the opening of the new Batman movie appeared Monday in court for the first time.

With his eyes at times downcast, James Holmes sat in a maroon jailhouse jumpsuit as the judge advised him of the case.
Mr. Holmes, 24, has been held in solitary confinement at an Arapahoe County detention facility since Friday. Mr. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
Authorities have disclosed that he is refusing to cooperate and that it could take months to learn what prompted the horrific attack on midnight moviegoers at a Batman film premiere.

Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers said Monday her office is considering pursuing the death penalty against Holmes. She said a decision will be made in consultation with victims' families.
Mr. Holmes has been assigned a public defender, and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said the former doctoral student has “lawyered up” since his arrest early Friday, following the shooting at an Aurora theater that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, some critically.
“He's not talking to us,” the chief said.
Mr. Holmes has been held without bond at the lockup in Centennial, Colo., south of Denver and about 13 miles from the Aurora theater.
His hearing is at the same complex, and security there was tight early Monday. Uniformed sheriff's deputies were stationed outside, and deputies were positioned on the roofs of both court buildings at the Arapahoe County Justice Center.
Police have said Mr. Holmes began buying guns at Denver-area stores nearly two months before Friday's shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school.
Mr. Holmes' apartment was filled with trip wires, explosive devices and unknown liquids, requiring police, FBI officials and bomb squad technicians to evacuate surrounding buildings while spending most of Saturday disabling the booby traps.
Investigators found a Batman mask inside Mr. Holmes' apartment after they finished clearing the home, a law enforcement official close to the investigation said Sunday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.
Officials at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were looking into whether Mr. Holmes used his position in a graduate program to collect hazardous materials, but that disclosure was one of the few it has made three days after the massacre. It remained unclear whether Mr. Holmes' professors and other students at his 35-student Ph.D. program noticed anything unusual about his behavior.
His reasons for quitting the program in June also remained a mystery. Mr. Holmes recently took an intense oral exam that marks the end of the first year. University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
Amid the continuing investigation of Mr. Holmes and his background, Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in Aurora, with the community holding a prayer vigil and President Barack Obama arriving to visit with families of the victims.
Mr. Obama said he told the families that “all of America and much of the world is thinking about them.” He met with them at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, which treated 23 of the people injured in the mass shooting; 10 remain there, seven hurt critically.
Congregations across Colorado prayed for the shooting victims and their relatives. Elderly churchgoers at an aging Presbyterian church within walking distance near Holmes' apartment joined in prayer, though none had ever met him.
Several thousand gathered for healing at the vigil Sunday night.
“You're not alone, and you will get through it,” said the Rev. Kenneth Berve, pastor at Grant Avenue United Methodist Church and a witness to Friday's horrors. “We can't let fear and anger take control of us.”
Meanwhile, the owner of a gun range told the AP that Holmes applied to join the club last month but never became a member because of his behavior and a “bizarre” message on his voicemail.
Mr. Holmes emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on June 25 in which he said he was not a user of illegal drugs or a convicted felon, said owner Glenn Rotkovich. When Mr. Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, Mr. Rotkovich said he heard a message on Mr. Holmes' voicemail that was “bizarre — guttural, freakish at best.”
Mr. Rotkovich left two other messages but eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the club, Mr. Rotkovich said.
The pastor for the suspect's family recalled a shy boy who was driven to succeed academically.
“He wasn't an extrovert at all. If there was any conversation, it would be because I initiated it, not because he did,” said Jerald Borgie, senior pastor of Penasquitos Lutheran Church. Mr. Borgie said he never saw the suspect mingle with others his age at church. He last spoke with Holmes about six years ago.
“He had some goals. He wanted to succeed, he wanted to go out, and he wanted to be the best,” Borgie said. “He took pride in his academic abilities. A good student. He didn't brag about it.”
During the attack early Friday, Mr. Holmes allegedly set off gas canisters and used a semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on theater-goers, Chief Oates said. Mr. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores in the past two months. He recently bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.
The gunman's semiautomatic assault rifle jammed during the attack, forcing him to switch to another gun with less firepower, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. That malfunction and weapons switch might have saved some lives.
Chief Oates said a 100-round ammunition drum was found in the theater, but he said he didn't know whether it jammed or emptied.
The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Gillian Flaccus and Nicholas Riccardi — The Associated Press / The Globe And Mail
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - RIMPAC 2012: Royal Canadian Army During Multi-National Military Exercise RIMPAC In Hawaii / Pacific Nations Seeking 'Insurance' At War Games

DTN News - RIMPAC 2012: Royal Canadian Army During Multi-National Military Exercise RIMPAC In Hawaii / Pacific Nations Seeking 'Insurance' At War Games
*China isn't invited but remains unspoken presence
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Pictures of The Day + U~T  San Diego
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 23, 2012: Soldiers of the 1st Platoon A Company of the Royal Canadian Army advance on the objective with an observer from the United States Marine Corps (L) during live fire training for the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC at Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawaii July 22, 2012.

China’s bullying behavior, and growing military muscle, has led to an explosion of interest from other Pacific nations in American-run naval war games this month.

One expert said Pacific nations are looking for an “insurance policy” against the possibility of China becoming a great but ugly power.

Led by the U.S. Navy’s San Diego-based Third Fleet, the Rim of the Pacific international maritime exercises off Hawaii include 22 nations, a 50 percent increase from two years ago. For the first time, Russia is a player.

“A lot of these countries interested in doing these exercises have China in the back of their mind,” said Ralph Cossa, president of Pacific Forum CSIS, a Honolulu think tank on Asia policy.

“If you have an 800-pound gorilla roaming your front yard, you’d like to have a 1,600-pound gorilla in the living room,” he said, referring to the United States. “And we’re housebroken.”

These every-other-year exercises, launched in 1971 with Canada and Australia, are not new. But experts say the United States, which some in Asia see as a declining power compared to China, has more to prove this year. The White House’s January announcement of a military “pivot” toward Asia comes at the same time as sweeping defense spending cuts.

“The assurance that the United States wants to send out is that the talk of our demise is greatly exaggerated. That not only do we have the strength to continue to play the role in the region that we have, but we have a commitment to do so,” said Denny Roy, a senior fellow at Honolulu’s East-West Center.

“The United States, though, is struggling to make that message believable because of its financial crisis.”

China was not invited to these war games, known widely as RIMPAC. The U.S. Third Fleet’s Gerald Beaman, the three-star Navy admiral in charge of the exercises, said the policy is not new and was set well over his head.

In 1998, the United States allowed a small Chinese contingent to observe RIMPAC. But that was before Congress in 2000 restricted American-Chinese military contact and required an annual report on the Chinese defense picture.

According to the latest China report in May, Beijing announced an 11 percent jump this year in its military budget to $106 billion, though actual spending is believed to be higher. By any count, China is continuing more than two decades of defense spending growth, which includes ambitions to make a second-hand aircraft carrier operational this year and deliver an advanced fighter jet as early as 2018, the report said.

In the past few years, China has upset its neighbors in the South China Sea by making claims to natural resources around the Spratly Islands that are still unresolved.

China severed military ties with the United States in early 2010 over American arms sales to Taiwan. High-level discussions between U.S. and Chinese defense leaders has slowly resumed since 2011.

While RIMPAC revved up in Hawaii, Adm. Samuel Locklear, the four-star admiral who leads U.S. Pacific Command, visited Chinese defense officials in June.

Private Dvon Bradley (L) and Private Josh Nelson of the 1st Platoon A Company of the Royal Canadian Army advance towards the objective during live fire training for the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC.

Response from China to RIMPAC 2012 has been cool. A June 29 editorial in the English-language Global Times, opined that China may be “lonely” but not isolated by the Hawaii war games.

“The exercise is nothing but a big party held by the U.S., which is in a melancholy state of mind due to difficult realities,” the newspaper wrote.

“We will think that the exercise enhances the U.S. central position and isolates China. However, whether or not the U.S. has such intentions, an Asian geopolitical landscape with an isolated China is unlikely to come about.”

For the 25,000 international troops attending, the war games are a chance for those who brought ships and planes to practice shooting at targets in the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the world’s largest.

Off Kauai, it boasts 1,100 square miles of underwater space where acoustic sensors give military commanders detailed feedback on how their shots went off.

For large Pacific nations, this is a chance to practice working together, such as refueling each other’s aircraft. The idea is, when the next crisis hits the Pacific — as some say is inevitable, with the 2011 Japanese earthquake an example — it won’t be difficult for responding nations to work together.

For nations that sent only troops, such as Tonga, Indonesia and Malaysia, it’s a chance to learn. Activities include amphibious landings, anti-piracy training, mine clearing and diving and salvage operations and disaster-assistance drills.

New Zealand has returned to RIMPAC, after strained relations with the United States since 1984 over New Zealand’s objections to nuclear weapons.

The frayed ties began to mend when Kiwi troops participated in Afghanistan and further improved after joint security agreements in 2010 and this year. New Zealand troops came to Camp Pendleton last month to train with U.S. Marines, who had gone there in May.

But the nuke dispute has meant U.S. warships can’t dock in New Zealand, and New Zealand’s two warships weren’t allowed to tie up in Pearl Harbor with the other RIMPAC vessels, which caused a flap in Kiwi media.

New Zealand and its neighbor Australia both see their futures in amphibious ships, which are different from most warships because they transport troops and put them ashore. New Zealand bought its first modern amphib, the Canterbury, in 2008. Australia is expecting its first, the Canberra, to enter service in 2014 and the Adelaide to follow.

But neither country has a Marine Corps. So they are training army soldiers to work from ships, a cultural sea change. Australian and New Zealand military spokesman touted the ability to use amphibs to respond to humanitarian crises.

Out of 46 vessels present, Russia supplied three, a destroyer, salvage tug and tanker.

The Russians declined an interview request, according to a U.S. Navy spokesman. But Third Fleet’s Beaman said the contingent was involved in gunnery exercises, diving and salvage, anti-piracy and maritime security training.

Russia has also participated in naval exercises with China in recent years.

Cossa of the Pacific Forum said Russia is taking another look at Asia, where it has run hot and cold in the past, with the return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency.

The U.S. Navy spent $2.3 million on RIMPAC in 2010 — not counting the fuel used and salaries of U.S. troops involved, which the Navy says would gone toward training anyway.

The increased interest in the exercises apparently cost the United States only a bit more. Third Fleet officials say the price tag will likely go up 15 percent when the bills are tallied this year.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Pictures of The Day + U~T  San Diego
*Link for  Pacific Nations Seeking 'Insurance' At War Games - China isn't invited but remains unspoken presence
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - RIMPAC 2012: RIMPAC’s Impact On Military Ties, Biofuel

DTN News - RIMPAC 2012: RIMPAC’s Impact On Military Ties, Biofuel
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer Navy Times
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 23, 2012: The largest-ever Rim of the Pacific exercise will conclude Aug. 7 after bringing together 21 countries, 25,000 troops, 40 ships, six submarines and 200 aircraft for a 42-day training evolution.

While a lot of publicity has surrounded the Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” of biofuel-filled ships, there are other reasons to keep close watch of what’s going on in the waters around Hawaii.
This year’s larger military turnout could be credited to China’s growing economic influence and expanding blue-water navy. China’s pushiness into regional issues is unsettling some governments.

“This leads to greater demand for U.S. involvement and leadership to offset possible Chinese domination,” said Denny Roy, senior fellow with the East-West Center in Honolulu. “Almost everyone in the region wants an insurance policy against the possibility of overbearing Chinese behavior.”
But China wasn’t invited. It cut military ties with the U.S. in 2010 because of America’s arms sales to Taiwan, and the relationship got even cooler because of China’s dealings with Iran. In the buildup to RIMPAC, China’s state-run media grumbled that India got invited and they didn’t.
Chinese and U.S. forces have plans to partner down the road, however. In late June, Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of U.S. Pacific Command, met his Chinese counterpart and addressed a top military academy in China with hopes of rebuilding military-to-military ties. China and the U.S. in May agreed to jointly perform humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and counterpiracy exercises, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Relationships don’t have to be golden for countries to participate in RIMPAC, a neutral ground for nations that don’t typically interact or train together.
Russia, for example, sent warships to RIMPAC this year for the first time. So did Mexico, whose navy focuses largely on coastal patrol. Mexico’s leaders want greater U.S. cooperation and military interactions. The country’s play in RIMPAC, which included training with Marines, could signal the start of more joint maritime exercises.
The 2012 exercise sees a return of four countries — Colombia, France, Malaysia and Thailand — that first participated in the biennial event in 2010. India, Norway and the Philippines each sent command staffs to observe and work with the overall combined task force, but India shelved original plans to send a ship for what the task force commander, Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, told reporters was another commitment.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ biofuel initiative at RIMPAC has been impossible to ignore.
Despite congressional criticism over the high price of biofuel, Mabus still believes it’ll ultimately be cheaper and safer for the environment than petroleum-based fuels. The aircraft carrier Nimitz took on 180,000 gallons of a biofuel blend for aircraft; the algae-, fat- and plant-based biofuel also powered the cruiser Princeton and destroyer Chafee during RIMPAC.
It looks like the U.S. won’t go at it alone: Australia has agreed to work with the U.S. to develop biofuel for military use, and a larger demonstration is planned in 2016, The Australian newspaper reported.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer Navy Times
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News