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Showing posts from February 19, 2013

Dumb and dumber: A secret CIA drone base

Repeated invasions, occupations and drone wars have played a major role in the unravelling of the Greater Middle East. You could, of course, sit there, slack-jawed, thinking about how mindlessly repetitive American foreign and military policy is these days. Or you could wield all sorts of fancy analytic words to explain it. Or you could just settle for a few simple, all-American ones. Like dumb. Stupid. Dimwitted. Thick-headed. Or you could speak about the second administration in a row that wanted to leave no child behind, but was itself incapable of learning, or reasonably assessing its situation in the world.
Or you could simply wonder what's in Washington's water supply. Last week, after all, there was a perfect drone storm of a story, only a year or so late - and no, it wasn't that leaked "white paper" justifying the White House-directed assassination of an American citizen; and no, it wasn't the two secret Justice Department "legal" memos on …

Karzai signs ban on NATO airstrikes

Monday's decree bans Afghans from calling in NATO air support in residential areas, but does not affect NATO operations.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has signed a decree prohibiting members of the Afghan security forces from requesting NATO airstrikes during operations in residential areas.

Karzai promised to issue the ban two days ago, and signed it on Monday, amidst anger over a NATO airstrike requested by the national intelligence service that local officials said killed at least 10 civilians and four fighters in northeastern Kunar province.

"No Afghan security forces, under any circumstances, any circumstances, can ask for the foreigners' planes for carrying out operations on our homes and villages", Karzai said at a Sunday press conference.

The presidential order is directed at the defence and interior ministries, and the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan spy agency.

It states: "During your operations, do not call for air support from international …

North Korea uses cash couriers, false names to outwit sanctions

Reuters - Kim Kwang-jin says that when he worked for North Korea's state insurance company in Singapore in 2003, he stuffed $20 million into two suitcases one day and sent it to Pyongyang as a special gift for then leader Kim Jong-il.

He received a medal for that, Kim Kwang-jin said.

North Korea, sanctioned by the United States since the 1950s and later by the United Nations after its nuclear tests, has been shuffling money for decades from illicit drugs, arms and financial scams and is now more expert at hiding it to fund its weapons programs and its leaders' opulent lifestyles.

"There is tremendous difficulty identifying bank accounts," said a South Korean government source who is directly involved in yet another sanctions push in the U.N. Security Council after the North conducted a third nuclear test this week.

A source who has access to the top levels of government in both North Korea and China, its only major ally, told Reuters that Pyongyang was not afraid of sanc…

Security group suspects Chinese military is behind hacking attacks

BEIJING | Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:00am EST

BEIJING (Reuters) - A secretive Chinese military unit is believed to be behind a prolific series of hacking attacks, a U.S. computer security company said, contradicting claims by China's government that it is not involved in such operations.

The report by Mandiant identified the People's Liberation Army's Shanghai-based Unit 61398 as the most likely driving force behind the hacking. Mandiant said it believed the unit had carried out "sustained" attacks on a wide set of industries.

"The nature of 'Unit 61398's' work is considered by China to be a state secret; however, we believe it engages in harmful 'Computer Network Operations'," Mandiant said in the report released in the United States on Monday.

"It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China, and we wanted to do our part to arm and prepare security professionals to combat that threat effectively," it said.

China's De…

Chavez back in Venezuela, on Twitter with four million followers

By Daniel Wallis

CARACAS | Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:50am EST

CARACAS (Reuters) - After Hugo Chavez spent two months out of the public eye for cancer surgery in Cuba, the Venezuelan government hailed his homecoming on Monday and said the president had achieved another milestone - four million followers on Twitter.

The 58-year-old flew back from Havana before dawn and was taken to a military hospital. No new details were given on his health, and there were no images of his arrival. Officials say his condition remains delicate.

The normally loquacious socialist leader, who is struggling to speak as he breathes through a tracheal tube, took to Twitter with a passion back in April 2010, tweeting regularly and encouraging other leftist Latin American leaders to do likewise.

His @chavezcandanga account quickly drew a big mixed following of fans, critics and others just curious to see how his famously long speeches and fiery anti-U.S. invective would work within the social media network's 140-char…

Insight: "Triangle of death" looms over Congo's mining heartlands

By Jonny Hogg and Clara Ferreira-Marques

LIKASI, Democratic Republic of Congo | Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:41am EST

LIKASI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Trucks of workers and building materials hurtle through the mining town of Likasi at the heart of Congo's copper producing south, evidence of the billions being poured into the region after years of war and underinvestment.

But rebel fighters feeding off local grievances and secessionist sentiment are threatening to resurrect the specter of a southern breakaway, in a fresh challenge to the stability and integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo.



The rebels, estimated to number anything from a few hundred to a few thousand, armed with bows, arrows and assault rifles, could re-open decades-old political fissures in Katanga, Congo's economic engine but also its most independent-minded province.

Their forays south, away from their stronghold in the province's north and towards Katanga's mining heart, raise the stakes i…

US-Saudi Funded Terrorists Sowing Chaos in Pakistan

Baluchistan, Pakistan - long target of Western geopolitical interests, terror wave coincides with Gwadar Port handover to China.

By Tony Cartalucci

 Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwest Baluchistan province, bordering both US-occupied Afghanistan as well as Iran, was the site of a grisly market bombing that has killed over 80 people. According to reports, the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. Billed as a "Sunni extremist group," it instead fits the pattern of global terrorism sponsored by the US, Israel, and their Arab partners Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The terrorist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group was in fact created, according to the BBC, to counter Iran's Islamic Revolution in the 1980's, and is still active today. Considering the openly admitted US-Israeli-Saudi plot to use Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups across the Middle East to counter Iran's influence, it begs the question whether these same interests are fundi…

Why North Korea Needs Nuclear Weapons

Is North Korea’s recent nuclear test, its third, to be welcomed, lamented or condemned? It depends on your perspective. If you believe that a people should be able to organize their affairs free from foreign domination and interference; that the United States and its client government in Seoul have denied Koreans in the south that right and seek to deny Koreans in the north the same right; and that the best chance that Koreans in the north have for preserving their sovereignty is to build nuclear weapons to deter a US military conquest, then the test is to be welcomed.

If you’re a liberal, you might believe that the United States should offer the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name) security guarantees in return for Pyongyang completely, permanently and verifiably eliminating its nuclear weapons program. If so, your position invites three questions.

• Contrary to the febrile rhetoric of high US officials, the United States is not threatened by…