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Showing posts from December 4, 2012

Egypt and the Strategic Balance

By George Friedman
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Immediately following the declaration of a cease-fire in Gaza, Egypt was plunged into a massive domestic crisis. Mohammed Morsi, elected in the first presidential election after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, passed a decree that would essentially neuter the independent judiciary by placing his executive powers above the high court and proposed changes to the constitution that would institutionalize the Muslim Brotherhood's power. Following the decree, Morsi's political opponents launched massive demonstrations that threw Egypt into domestic instability and uncertainty. In the case of most countries, this would not be a matter of international note. But Egypt is not just another country. It is the largest Arab country and one that has been the traditional center of the Arab world. Equally important, if Egypt's domestic changes translate into shifts in its foreign policy, it could affect the regional balance of power for decad…

Cassini Data Indicates Saturn’s Moon Titan Is Icier Than Thought

Image Caption: Artist's depiction of Saturn and its moon Titan. Stanford scientists' model suggestions that Titan's icy outer crust is likely twice as thick as previously thought. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has long been projected as an icy body with a vast ocean of liquid water underneath its crust. A recent analysis suggested that heat generated from within the natural satellite helps keep this ocean from freezing due to interactions it has with Saturn and the other moons. And now, a new analysis of the moon’s topography and gravity indicates that its icy outer crust is twice as dense as previously believed.
Scientists have long been intrigued by Titan because of the similarities it shares with Earth. Much like our planet, Titan has a seemingly layered structure, loosely similar to that of an onion.
“Titan probably has a core that is a mixture of ice and rock,” said study author Howard Ze…

Iran claims capture of US drone

Revolutionary Guards say ScanEagle drone entered Iranian airspace but US navy says that none of its drones is missing
Iranian TV reports Revolutionary Guards have captured a US drone flying over the country's airspace Link to this videoIran's Revolutionary Guards have captured a US drone flying over the country's airspace, state media have reported. The Fars news agency said on Tuesday the Boeing-made ScanEagle drone was gathering information over Gulf waters when it entered Iranian airspace and was subsequently captured by a naval unit of the Revolutionary Guards. General Ali Fadavi, the Guards' navy chief, was quoted as saying the "intruding" drone was in Iran's possession. "The US drone, which was conducting a reconnaissance flight and gathering data over the Persian Gulf in the past few days, was captured by the Guards' navy air defence unit as soon as it entered Iranian airspace," Fadavi said. "Such drones usually take off from lar…

China unearths ruined palace near terracotta army

Excavations near Xi'an reveal vast ancient palace complex a quarter of the size of Beijing's Forbidden City Life-sized terracotta warriors guard the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, where a huge palace complex has been unearthed. Photograph: Museum Of The Terracotta Army/PA Archaeologists have found the remains of an ancient imperial palace near the tomb of emperor Qin Shi Huang, home of the famous terracotta army, China's state media reported on Sunday. The palace is the largest complex discovered so far in the emperor's sprawling 22 square-mile (56 square-km) second-century BC mausoleum, which lies on the outskirts of Xi'an, an ancient capital city in central China, . an associate researcher at the Shaanxi provincial institute of archaeology told China's official news wire Xinhua. It is an estimated 690 metres long and 250 metres wide – about a quarter of the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing – and includes 18 courtyard-style houses with…

UN to withdraw non-essential staff from Syria

Missions to conflict zone cancelled and remaining employees on standby to move, in final step before full-scale evacuation Jihad Makdissi has reportedly been sacked as Syria's foreign ministry spokesman, the first high-profile departure from the Assad regime in recent months. Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images The United Nations is preparing to evacuate all non-essential staff from Syria, citing the "prevailing security situation" amid growing fears in Washington that the beleaguered regime is considering using chemical weapons. The European Union also announced it was cutting back its activities in the country and on a fast-moving day of diplomatic and military action the Syrian government's foreign ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, was reported to have defected.
The UN's undersecretary for safety and security, Gregory Starr, announced that the organisation had also cancelled all missions to Syria from abroad and suspended its activities inside the wa…

Barack Obama warns Syria of chemical weapons 'consequences'

US president reacts to reports that sensitive chemical weapons parts have been moved around the country by the Assad regime US president Barack Obama warns Syrian regime that use of chemical weapons on its people would be totally unacceptable Link to this video Barack Obama has warned the Syrian regime that any use of chemical weapons on its own people would be "totally unacceptable" and would result in "consequences". In strongly worded remarks (video) directed at President Bashar al-Assad, the US president said "the world is watching" and would act if the authorities escalated the conflict through the use of chemical warfare. Intelligence reports suggest sensitive chemical weapons parts have been moved around the country in recent days. This has raised fears that the regime is considering unleashing chemical weapons = on opposition forces.
Obama told a gathering of nuclear proliferation experts in Washington: "The use of chemical weapons is, and wou…