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Showing posts from October 25, 2013

Current velocities of the Gulfstream

 This image shows the variation of the Gulf Stream velocities near the East coast of North America in the last 20 days. The images are updated daily and the velocities are in metres per second (to get the approximate velocity in knots, multiply by 1.9438445).

Since 22 July 2003 the Gulf Stream velocity fields derive from near-real-time radar altimeter data of the European Environmental Satellite Envisat. At the same time the mapped area was increased to show more upstream regions of the Gulf Stream.

Source: DEOS (Department of Earth Observation and Space Systems, Delft University). Keywords: ESA European Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne, observation de la terre

How the Sunni-Shia Schism is Dividing the World

The unprecedented Saudi refusal to take up its Security Council seat is not just about Syria but a response to the Iranian threat

By Robert Fisk

October 24, 2013 - "The Independent" - -  The Muslim world’s historic – and deeply tragic – chasm between Sunni and Shia Islam is having worldwide repercussions. Syria’s civil war, America’s craven alliance with the Sunni Gulf autocracies, and Sunni (as well as Israeli) suspicions of Shia Iran are affecting even the work of the United Nations.
Saudi Arabia’s petulant refusal last week to take its place among non-voting members of the Security Council, an unprecedented step by any UN member, was intended to express the dictatorial monarchy’s displeasure with Washington’s refusal to bomb Syria after the use of chemical weapons in Damascus – but it also represented Saudi fears that Barack Obama might respond to Iranian overtures for better relations with the West. The Saudi head of intelligence, Prince Bandar bin Sultan – a true buddy of P…

Sectarianism: Redrawing the Map of Middle East

By Ramzy Baroud
October 24, 2013 -The warm waters of the Gulf look quiet from where I am sitting in Doha, but such tranquility hardly reflects the conflicts this region continues to generate. The euphoria of the so-called Arab Spring is long gone, but what remains is a region that is rich with resources and burdened with easily manipulated history that is in a state of reckless transition. No one can see what the future will look like, but the possibilities are ample, and possibly tragic.

In my many visits to the region, I have never encountered such a lack of clarity regarding the future, despite the fact that battle lines have been drawn like never before. Governments, intellectuals, sects and whole communities are lining up at both sides of many divides. This is taking place to various degrees everywhere in the Middle East, depending on the location of the conflict.

Some countries are directly engulfed in bloody and defining conflicts — revolutions gone astray, as in Egypt, or uprisin…

Kuwait: The Saudis' Key Ally at a Difficult Time

Summary


There are reports that Kuwait is the frontrunner to fill the U.N. Security Council seat rejected by Saudi Arabia. If true, it would benefit Riyadh and could in fact be part of Saudi Arabia's strategy. The Saudis rejected the seat Oct. 18 as part of their effort to pursue a more assertive foreign policy. The geopolitical interests of Kuwait, an ally of Saudi Arabia for more than a century, align with those of the Saudis. However, Kuwait will take a softer stance while the Saudi kingdom becomes more hawkish.

Analysis


In an Oct. 23 Reuters report, the French ambassador to the U.N. acknowledged that there is no agreed upon procedure on how to fill a vacancy on the Security Council, since a state has never before rejected a seat. The British envoy to the U.N. alluded to the possibility that the Saudis could still reverse their stance, but speculation among top foreign diplomats at the U.N. suggests Kuwait is the likely replacement for the two-year term. Though the Kuwaiti ambass…

Myanmar: A Risky Mineral Extraction Market

Summary


A new bill submitted by Myanmar's Ministry of Mines could make the Southeast Asian nation more attractive to those looking to invest in its mineral extraction sector. Limited surveys conducted by foreign geologists show that Myanmar possesses tin, lead, nickel, gold, manganese and substantial copper and coal reserves. Mineral extraction is the country's third-largest destination for foreign direct investment, but regulatory barriers have kept it from being a significant contributor to gross domestic product.

If the bill becomes law, it would take effect in May 2014, and it would help enrich the regime and its favored private companies. However, some of the most promising reserves are located in Myanmar's restive ethnic regions, and extracting resources from those areas would be difficult. While the government could share profits with insular communities to incentivize cease-fires, many businesses and individuals therein may feel threatened by commercial encroachment…

U.S. Naval Update Map: Oct. 24, 2013

The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance of the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier, which projects U.S. naval and air power and supports a Carrier Air Wing, or CVW. The CSG includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. An MEU is built around a heavily reinforced and mobile battalion of Marines.

Carrier Strike Groups

The USS Harry S. Truman CSG with CVW 3 embarked is underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.
The USS Nimitz CSG with CVW 11 embarked is underway in the U.S. 6th Fleet AOR after transiting the Suez Canal for the fi…