Tuesday, 26 February 2013

After election win, Anastasiades tackles Cyprus bailout

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriot president-elect Nicos Anastasiades, armed with a clear mandate from voters to spare the island from insolvency, said on Monday he was committed to reforms in return for a financial bailout.

The Conservative Anastasiades won decisive backing in a presidential election on Sunday for an aggressive approach to resolving the island's worst financial crisis in four decades.

Less than 24 hours after his resounding victory on Sunday, Anastasiades said he would appoint Michael Sarris, a former World Bank economist who enjoys broad respect at home and abroad, as his finance minister.

Anastasiades has promised a quick deal with foreign lenders and to bring Cyprus closer to Europe, in a shift from the policies of the outgoing Communist government that first sought aid from Russia before turning to the European Union.

"Long-term prospects for Cyprus are excellent as we are committed to carrying out necessary structural reforms. We only need a helping hand now," Anastasiades told Germany's Bild newspaper, according to advance excerpts of an interview to be published in Tuesday's edition.

Berlusconi revives political career in chaotic Italian election

Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time Italian prime minister, billionaire playboy and perpetual criminal defendant who was all but counted out of Italian political life when a debt crisis forced his resignation in 2011, shocked the country Monday by shooting back into a position of influence.

Even by the chaotic standards of Italian politics, the resurgence of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party, which seems to be in contention to win the most seats in the Italian Senate, along with the astonishingly strong showing of a naysaying protest party led by Beppe
Grillo, a seething ex-comedian opposed to the euro, has cast the Italian government into confusion.

The results have created the remarkable possibility that Italy could find itself next week without a government or a pope.

That instability rippled across the Atlantic. As details of the election became clear through the day, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 200 points, or about 1.5 percent, in a potent reminder of how sensitive markets remain to events in the euro zone. The currency region’s financial crisis has ebbed in recent months, but only on the assumption that political leaders would follow through on promised economic policies — something the Italian results may throw into doubt.

Tunisia arrests suspect in killing that sparked unrest

 A hardline Islamist has been arrested in connection with the killing of a Tunisian opposition politician whose death earlier this month touched off protests across the country, a security source said on Monday.

Tunisia was plunged into political crisis when the secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid was gunned down outside his house on February 6, igniting the biggest street protests since the overthrow of strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

"The police arrested a Salafist suspected of killing Belaid," the source told Reuters without giving more details.

Last year, Salafist groups prevented several concerts and plays from taking place in Tunisian cities, saying they violated Islamic principles. Salafists also ransacked the U.S. Embassy in September, during international protests over an Internet video.

Tunisian radio station Express FM cited a senior security official as saying police had arrested three Salafists, including a police officer, in connection with Belaid's killing.

BBC blocked in China just days after reporting on Chinese hackers

The British Broadcasting Corporation may have discovered a new “red line” for the Chinese government: don’t bring reporters near the Shanghai complex where China’s suspected military hacking team is thought to be located.

The BBC says its “World Service” broadcast is being jammed inside China, preventing people there from hearing the program. The network said in a statement, “The jamming of shortwave transmissions is being timed to cause maximum disruption to BBC World Service English broadcasts in China.”It’s hard to pinpoint the rationale behind the blocking, and not just because the Chinese government does not of course claim responsibility. But we have a pretty good hint in this story from last week, when members of the Chinese military detained some BBC journalists who were trying to film outside the Shanghai complex where China’s elite military hacker team is thought to work. The BBC journalists were held inside the building until they surrendered their footage, which sounds as it were mostly just banal exterior shots.

Sri Lankan forces 'raped' Tamils in custody, study says

Sri Lankan security forces have committed crimes of sexual violence against ethnic Tamils in state custody, a new Human Rights Watch report says.

The study focuses on cases of alleged rape of men, women and minors detained between 2006 and 2012 because of their suspected links to Tamil Tiger rebels.

It documents 75 accounts of alleged sexual abuse and torture, saying most of them are backed by medical evidence.

Sri Lanka's government has dismissed the report as "rubbish" and "lies".

At least 100,000 people died during the 26-year war between government troops and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighting for a separate homeland. The Tamil Tigers were defeated in 2009.

Both sides were accused of human rights abuses throughout the conflict and particularly in its final stages, when thousands of civilians were trapped in a thin strip of land in the north of Sri Lanka as fighting raged around them.The report comes during a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is expected to discuss a resolution critical of Sri Lanka's human rights record and the army's conduct during the last phase of the war.

Philippines Martial Law Victims to Receive Reparations

Philippine President Benigno Aquino signed into law Monday legislation that would recognize and compensate victims of human rights abuses during martial law under former President Ferdinand Marcos.

Lawmakers spent 14 years trying to pass various forms of a proposal that would make the government recognize human rights victims of injustices under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Congressman Walden Bello says it passed this year because many legislators realized the victims were aging, if not dying, and had grown sickly.

“It’s great that we were finally able to muster the forces to get it through both Houses of Congress," Bello said. "Also, I think it’s very significant because the Philippines is one of the few if not the only government that has in fact designated reparations payments for human rights violations that have been admitted by its agencies.”

The new law sets aside $250 million to compensate victims or families of victims, determined by an independent panel, to have been murdered, tortured or suffered other injustices at the hands of law enforcement and the military of the Marcos administration.

Vietnam to Participate in UN Peacekeeping Missions

Vietnam says it will begin participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations early next year, a further sign that it wants to assume a bigger role in international affairs.  Facing rising demand, the U.N. has appealed for countries to send more troops and police officers to help carry out its peacekeeping missions around the world. Vietnam didn't say how large a contribution it is prepared to make. Most of the 115 participating countries currently make only token contributions of less than 40 people.

The state-controlled Tien Phong newspaper on Tuesday quoted Vice Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh as telling visiting U.N. Assistant General Secretary Edmond Mulet that Vietnamese troops would be available from early next year. The report gave few other details.

Vietnam opened its economy to foreign investment in the 1990s and has followed a steady policy of embracing regional and international institutions. But the Communist rulers of the country's 87 million people have shown no sign of relaxing bans on freedom of speech and political activism even as they seek greater global clout.

Drop in Taliban attacks incorrect

The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan incorrectly reported a decline in Taliban attacks last year, and officials said Tuesday that there was actually no change in the number of attacks on international troops from 2011 to 2012.

The corrected numbers - from the original reports of a 7 percent decline to one of no change - could undercut the narrative promoted by the international coalition and the Obama administration of an insurgency in steep decline.

A coalition spokesman, Jamie Graybeal, attributed the miscounting to clerical errors and said the problem does not change officials' basic assessment of the war.

The 7 percent figure had been included in a report posted on the coalition's website in late January as part of its monthly update on trends in security and violence. It was removed from the website recently without explanation. After The Associated Press asked last week about the missing report, coalition officials said they were correcting the data and would re-publish the report in coming days.

Iran said to deploy aging foreign tankers, avoiding sanctions

Iran is using old tankers, saved from the scrapyard by foreign middlemen, to ship out oil to China in ways that avoid Western sanctions, say officials involved with sanctions who showed Reuters corroborating documents.

The officials, from states involved in imposing sanctions to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program, said the tankers - worth little more than scrap value - were a new way for Iran to keep its oil exports flowing by exploiting the legal limitations on Western powers' ability to make sanctions stick worldwide.

Officials showed Reuters shipping documents to support their allegation that eight ships, each of which can carry close to a day's worth of Iran's pre-sanctions exports, have loaded Iranian oil at sea. Publicly available tracking and other data are consistent with those documents and allegations.

"The tankers have been used for Iranian crude," one official said. "They are part of Iran's sanctions-busting strategy."

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Raytheon and General Atomics team-up to integrate onto MALD Reaper

Raytheon and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Have joined forces, to integrate the Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) onto the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft.

The companies say That Were ground verification tests completed in November 2012 at General Atomics' Gray Butte flight operations facility in Palmdale, California. Raytheon's MALD of integration onto the General Atomics-built aircraft is expected to be completed in 2013.

"Integrating MALD is remotely Piloted aircraft weaponry systems is integral to Maintaining air superiority in today's and tomorrow's conflicts," says Harry Schulte, Raytheon's vice president of air warfare systems. "This new Offering Provides Unprecedented electronic warfare capability Enabling remote, unmanned suppression of enemy air defenses"

Elbit Develops Unique Surveillance System with BEL

The company is icts Expanding cooperation in India, signs memorandum of understanding with BEL at Aero India exhibition for the development of a new surveillance system

Elbit Systems has signed HAS memorandum of understanding with the Indian company Navratna Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) at Aero India, the 9th International Exhibition on Aerospace, Defense and Civil Aviation, taking up at Bengaluru, India. El-Op, an Elbit filiale, at the expo Announced That  it will Jointly economic development of a Compact Multi Purpose Advance Stabilization System (COMPASS) for naval applications with BEL.

Compass is a surveillance system Intended for day and night applications and includes a color camera, a sensor 3rd generation FLIR, Laser Target Designator and a Rangefinder (LTDRF) as well as automatic tracking and command and control capabilities.

The compact system includes a mission computer further Top, fire control radar, GPS and other subsystems, and it is Intended for use in a variety of platforms and interfaces

RQ-21A Small UAV Completes First Flight Ship-Based

RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System Completes First Flight Ship-Based

GULF OF MEXICO --- The Navy's RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) completed icts first flight at sea Feb. 10 from the San Antonio-class amphibious dock transportation USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19).

The system completed three months of trial flights land-based at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif.., Before launching from a LPD-class ship.

EADS confirms offer for Denis Ranque his presidency

The Appointments Committee of EADS confirmed on Wednesday proposed to appoint former CEO Denis Ranque, Thales to its presidency in the context of the evolution of its governance.

This proposal will be considered by the new Board of Directors at the end of an extraordinary general meeting held on 27 March, which will also decide on a proposed acquisition of shares, said the European aerospace and defense .

The parent company of Airbus announced the selection of Denis Ranque on the social network Twitter.

The former CEO of Thales, aged 61, is expected to succeed to the presidency Arnaud Lagardère, the group plans to sell its stake in EADS.

The announcement Wednesday confirmed the information obtained last week by Reuters from two sources familiar with the matter.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The No. 2 Pentagon Patriot inspects the Syrian-Turkish border

During his first official visit to Ankara, the number two at the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter spent the day with Turkish officials of the defense, and he then went southeast of Gaziantep near the Syrian border to inspect one of two Patriot missile batteries that are U.S. Border Syrian-Turkish.

But before meeting with Turkish leaders, the number two defense in the United States was stopped at the U.S. Embassy on Atatürk Boulevard, where Friday 1st February, a suicide attack against a checkpoint on the perimeter the embassy, ​​killed Mustafa Akarsu a guard in his forties, father of two teenagers.

At the embassy, ​​Monday, February 4, Ambassador Frank Ricciardone ordered the American flag be flown at half mast until sunset Wednesday, February 6, and hours of work and staff at the embassy were temporarily reduced .

Members of the Embassy staff working today to welcome the Deputy Secretary of Defense, observed a minute of silence at 13:13 one minute, hour Ankara, exactly 72 hours after the explosion of the bomb. The explosion blew out the windows on Friday checkpoints, throwing shards of glass and debris, killing and injuring several people who tried Akarsu Mustafa tried to save the lives of his colleagues and friends.

Senators ask Obama for Legal Basis for Targeted killings of Americans

U.S. Senators Have Requested the legal justification for the killings of U.S. Citizens Suspected of Terrorism by the Obama administration. Meanwhile a 'chilling' leaked memo que le Showed little need for government Sees constraint on the outcome.

A group of 11 Senators wrote a letter on Monday to President Barack Obama, Asking him to release all Justice Department memo 's on the practice of targeting U.S. Citizens Suspected of Being terrorist leaders with lethal force, drone airstrikes Particularly. The request comes as the administration seeks Senate approval for John Brennan, Obama's nomination for CIA chief.

"As the Senate considers a number of nominees for senior national security positions, we ask That You Ensure That Congress is Provided with the secret legal opinions Outlining your authority to Authorize the killing of Americans in the course of counterterrorism operations," the letter's opening paragraph reads.

Brennan, who is deputy national security advisor to the president, is to face questioning from the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 7. As the Obama administration caries on Many of the Bush-era Policies That exist in something of a legal gray area, Lawmakers want to be sour They Have all the information possible in order to "avoid year Unnecessary confrontation That Could Affect the Senate's consideration of nominees for national security positions. "

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Shipborne helicopters of the Russian Navy will have a new 'vision'

Ka-27M helicopters of the Russian Navy will have a "vision" of improved radar, they will be equipped with tactical command systems based on a new radar.

The complex systems unite aboard the helicopter, including precision acoustic monitoring, radio magnetic, and radar systems. All data will be displayed on the dashboard.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Venezuelan opposition cracks could help Chavez's allies

 Venezuela's multiple opposition parties took a decade to unite against President Hugo Chavez, but old strains are emerging again just as he could be forced from power by cancer.The increasingly public tensions between moderates and radicals within the five-year-old Democratic Unity coalition play into the government's hands should Chavez fail to recover from the disease and a new presidential election be held."They're beating each other up. They have no respect for agreements, that's the opposition we have," gloated Congress head Diosdado Cabello, the third most powerful government figure after Chavez and Vice President Nicolas Maduro.After years of in-fighting, election defeats and chaotic attempts to remove Chavez through street protests, an oil industry strike and even a brief coup, some 30 ideologically diverse political groups formed the opposition coalition in 2008.

Spain’s Premier Is Drawn Into a Widening Graft Scandal Gripping His Party

Just as Spain’s financial troubles seemed to be diminishing, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has become engulfed in a widening corruption scandal involving paymeOn Thursday, El País, Spain’s leading newspaper, published what it said were excerpts from the party’s financial accounts that showed regular payouts to leading party members above their official salaries. Mr. Rajoy first appeared in the ledgers in 1997 and received sums averaging $34,000 a year through 2008, the newspaper said. The money, it said, came from “donations” from companies, particularly construction companies.

Former party treasurers, including Luis Bárcenas, who has been at the heart of the scandal, are suspected of maintaining the ledgers. Two weeks ago, the Swiss authorities informed Spanish investigators that Mr. Bárcenas had deposited as much as $29 million in Swiss bank accounts. El País, which said it gained access to the Popular Party’s internal accounts from 1990 to 2008, said that Mr. Rajoy declined to comment on its report until internal and external audits ordered by him into the party’s finances were complete. The audits were ordered after news of the Swiss accounts emerged.

But the report is certain to compound the troubles facing his government as it tries to navigate Spain’s economic crisis in a climate of increasing anger and suspicion from the public of all politicians, as scandals related to Spain’s boom years before the 2008 economic collapse come to light in all corners of the country.

Milan court convicts 3 Americans in CIA kidnapping

 A Milan appeals court on Friday vacated acquittals for a former CIA station chief and two other Americans, and instead convicted them in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a Milan street as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.
The decision means that all 26 Americans tried in absentia for the abduction now have been found guilty.
The ongoing trials, which have dragged on for years, brought the first convictions anywhere in the world against CIA agents involved in a practice alleged to have led to torture. The case has been the source of diplomatic tensions, although three successive Italian leaders, including the technical government of Premier Mario Monti, have invoked state secrets, which has had the impact of limiting evidence in the successive trials and led to the acquittals of five Italians, including two spy chiefs.
An appeals court sentenced former CIA Rome station chief Jeffrey Castelli to seven years, and handed sentences of six years each to Americans Betnie Medero and Ralph Russomando. A lower court, while convicting 23 other Americans in November 2009, had acquitted the three, citing diplomatic immunity.
None of the Americans have ever been in Italian custody or have ever appeared in court, but they risk arrest if they travel to Europe. Only two have had any contact with their lawyers, both of whom expressly requested their own counsel late in the first trial phase, in the face of U.S. official silence on the case and citing special personal and legal circumstances. A number of the names listed on the official docket are believed to be aliases.

Armenia Presidential Candidate Shot, Election in Doubt

 An Armenian presidential candidate was wounded by unknown gunmen in the capital Yerevan on Thursday night, police said, in an attack that could delay February's election. Paruyr Hayrikyan, whose life was not in danger after the shooting, is one of eight candidates running in the February 18 vote but is not seen as a strong challenger to Serzh Sarksyan, who is expected to be re-elected for a second five-year term.

However, according to Armenia's constitution, the election could be postponed by two weeks if a candidate is unable to campaign or run. In the event of a candidate's death, a new election is called, to be held within 40 days.

The 2008 presidential election in Armenia - a landlocked ex-Soviet republic of 3.2 million that is Russia's main ally in the South Caucasus - were marred by violent clashes between opposition protesters and police.

Bank scandal helps surge by Berlusconi ahead of Italy election

 A growing scandal at Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world's oldest bank, has helped Silvio Berlusconi close the gap with the center-left frontrunners to five percent, its tightest so far, weeks before Italy's election, a poll showed on Friday.

An SWG survey showed former premier Berlusconi's center-right coalition had gained 1.3 percent in a week and was now on 27.8 percent, compared to 32.8 percent for Pier Luigi Bersani's center left, which had lost 1.6 percent.

Berlusconi, a 76-year-old billionaire media magnate, has made an astonishing comeback over the last month through a blitz of radio and television appearances, but SWG said the Monte dei Paschi scandal had also had a significant impact.

Taiwan's Premier Resigns Amid Weak Popular Support

aiwan's top economic official resigned Friday as popular support for the government has plunged, though the island appears to be rebounding from an economic slowdown.Premier Sean Chen said at a news conference that his health condition did not allow him to fulfill his heavy duties as head of the Cabinet.

President Ma Ying-jeou's office said Ma has accepted Chen's resignation. He will be succeeded by Vice Premier Jiang Yi-hua, the office said in a statement.

The 63-year-old Chen is a prestigious financial expert. He became premier shortly after Ma was re-elected to his second term in January 2012.

His first job was a difficult, unpopular task to resolve the government's worsening fiscal problems.

The Cabinet's decision last year to raise oil and electricity prices has led to moderate inflation, which has triggered widespread public grievances. Many Taiwanese complained that their salary levels are among the worst in Asia.

Lebanese soldiers killed near Syria border

At least three people, including two Lebanese soldiers, have been killed in clashes in the Bekaa Valley
.At least two Lebanese soldiers and a man suspected of links to an armed group have been killed during clashes with armed men near a border town with Syria.
"An army patrol was ambushed in the village of Arsal as it hunted a man wanted for several terrorist acts," the army said in a statement on Friday.
It said an army captain and soldier were killed while several others were wounded in the clash with an unspecified number of gunmen, who also sustained casualties.
"A number of military vehicles were badly damaged," the army said, adding that reinforcements were sent to seal off the area and hunt down the suspects.
An AFP correspondent saw ambulances leave Arsal located in Bekaa Valley and head for Baalbek, the main town in eastern Lebanon.

Missiles were at Syrian military base when aircraft struck Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/31/3210975/israelis-missiles-were-at-syrian.html#storylink=cpy

The anti-aircraft missiles that were the target of a disputed Israeli airstrike on Syria this week were on a military base outside Damascus and had yet to reach the highway that leads to Lebanon when they were destroyed, two Israeli intelligence officials familiar with the air assault told McClatchy on Thursday.

The officials differed on the details, with one saying that the convoy carrying the missiles was parked at a military base in the Jamraya district outside Damascus, while the other said the convoy was in the process of being moved from the base to the highway. But both agreed that the location of the base, less than five miles from the Lebanese border, made Israeli officials unwilling to wait any longer to attack.

One said that waiting until the missiles had reached the highway, the main link between the Syrian capital and Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, would have made it more difficult for Israeli aircraft to target them without risking civilian casualties.

"What is important is that a convoy carrying weapons which would have been very dangerous for Israel was taken out before it could reach its target in Lebanon," said one of the officers, who’s based in Israel’s north. Both agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk about the airstrike with journalists.

The Israeli officials’ accounts, if they’re accurate, help explain the Syrian government’s assertion that Israeli jets had targeted a scientific research center in Jamraya and not a military convoy when they flew low over the Israel-Syria border Wednesday in the pre-dawn hours. Syria said two workers were killed and five injured when the planes attacked.

The U.S. needs a completely different approach to Iran

As Washington and its great power partners prepare for more nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Obama administration and policy elites across the political spectrum talk as if America is basically in control of the situation. Sanctions, we are told, are inflicting ever-rising hardship on Iran’s economy. Either Tehran will surrender to U.S. demands that it stop enriching uranium or, at some point, the American military will destroy Iranian nuclear installations.

This is a dangerous delusion, grounded in persistent American illusions about Middle Eastern reality. Because of failed wars-cum-occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan; a war on terror that has turned Muslim societies ever more firmly against U.S. policy; and de facto support for open-ended Israeli occupation of Arab populations, America’s position in the region is in free fall. Increasingly mobilized publics will not tolerate continuation of such policies. If, in this climate, the United States launches another war to disarm yet another Middle Eastern country of weapons of mass destruction it does not have, the blowback against American interests will be disastrous. Nonetheless, that is where our current strategy – negotiating on terms that could not possibly interest Iran while escalating covert operations, cyber-attacks, and economic warfare against it – leads.