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Showing posts from November 18, 2013

The Secret of the Wonder Weapon That Israel Will Show Off to Obama

An Israeli missile from the Iron Dome defense system is launched to intercept and destroy incoming rocket fire from Gaza in Tel Aviv on Nov. 17, 2012

No tour of Middle East conflict zones could be complete without a stop at Sderot, an Israeli town of 24,000 that stands uncomfortably close to the Gaza Strip. The rain of rockets out of the Palestinian enclave has made Sderot famous for two things: the thickness of its roofs (even bus stops have reinforced concrete tops); and the collection of crumpled missiles arrayed in racks behind the police station. As a visiting VIP in 2008, U.S. Senator Barack Obama dutifully inspected what the machine shops of Islamic Jihad and Hamasfashioned from lengths of pipe and scrap metal. Low-tech doesn’t begin to cover it.

It’s a long way up the Mediterranean coast from Sderot to Haifa, and even farther to the showroom of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., the weapons-development branch of Israel’s military-industrial complex. Hi-tech doesn’t begin to c…

Israel, S. Arabia planning joint Iran strike - report

Are Israel and Saudi Arabia working together against Iran? "The Sunday Times" reports that Mossad agents met top Saudi officials to draw up contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran if an agreement is signed with Tehran that is not acceptable to the two countries.

According to the report, which is based on diplomatic sources, Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow Israel to use its air space and to provide Israel with assistance in the form of drones, rescue helicopters, and air-to-air refueling tankers. The report quotes a source as saying that Saudi Arabia is furious at the West and that it is prepared to give Israel whatever assistance in needed for a military confrontation with Iran.

"Both the Israeli and Saudi governments are convinced that the international talks to place limits on Tehran’s military nuclear development amount to appeasement and will do little to slow its development of a nuclear warhead," "The Sunday Times" report states. It adds th…

NATO to prioritise joint ISR capabilities

NATO is putting a priority on the development of joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, senior alliance officials have said.

Speaking at the NATO Industry Forum in Istanbul on 14 November, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said that ISR capabilities "will be high on the agenda" at the 2014 alliance summit in the United Kingdom. The alliance will also be looking at precision-guided weapons, air-to-air refueling assets and heavy transport aircraft, he added.

NATO has experienced a decade of high operational tempo in Afghanistan and "as a result, some of the capabilities we have now in NATO are no longer needed, and some of the capabilities we desperately need we don't have enough of", Vershbow said.

In the short term, NATO will look at ways to better integrate the assets of individual member nations, General Jean-Paul Paloméros, the alliance's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, told IHS Jane's on the …

Albanian government likely to accept chemical weapons shipment for decommissioning, triggering further protests

EVENT

Around 300 environmentalist activists protested peacefully outside parliament buildings in the Albanian capital Tirana on 12 November. A second protest was staged at the nearby US embassy following a diplomatic request for Albania to host and dismantle Syrian chemical weapons.
An Albanian student wears a gas mask and holds a sign during a protest in Tirana against the dismantling of Syrian chemical weapons in Albania, on 14 November 2013. (PA)



The Mjekes facility near the central Albanian town of Elbasan and the Qafe Molle centre near Tirana are the only secure bases in Albania with the experience to dismantle between 1,000 and 1,300 tonnes of chemical weapons agents ranging from mustard gas to the precursors for sarin and VX, which Syria declared to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).


Satellite imagery reveals mystery 'supergun' in Chinese desert

Satellite imagery has revealed two unusually large artillery pieces, measuring about 80 ft and 110 ft respectively, at a test centre for armour and artillery northwest of Baotou in China.

The two pieces, which are horizontally mounted, are mounted on a concrete pad that appeared between September 2010 and December 2011, when the two pieces were first captured by satellite imagery. Images provided by Astrium confirmed that the objects were still in place in July 2013.

The 2011 imagery clearly depicts a series of what appear to be targets in front of the 110 ft piece, suggesting some kind of penetration testing for high-velocity projectiles.

China has historically shown interest in large calibre, long-range artillery. It experimented with the Xianfeng 'supergun' in the 1970s as part of Project 640 anti-ballistic missile programme. Approximately 85 ft long, Xianfeng may be the smaller of the two objects retained for experimental use after its cancellation in 1980.

In the 1990s it was…

Europe: A Crisis of Representation

Summary


Because unemployment will remain at seriously high levels in most EU member countries for the foreseeable future, the gap between the rulers and the ruled will not narrow anytime soon. The position of the ruling elites is weakening, but the anti-establishment groups that seek to replace them are not strong enough to take over. Protest groups pervade Europe, but most lack the organizational integrity to become viable political actors. At this point, a key issue in Europe is whether its traditional institutions of representation will be able to capitalize on social discontent in the future.

Analysis


One of the most notable consequences of the European crisis is the gap it has created between voters and political and economic elites. As the situation in Europe evolved from a merely financial problem to an unemployment crisis, public support for traditional elites at home and abroad dropped dramatically in most eurozone countries. At home, politicians, bankers and even union leader…

One JFK conspiracy theory that could be true

(CNN) -- During the half century since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, you may have heard about a few conspiracy theories. Decades of investigations, hearings, documents, records, books and interviews have failed to satisfy conspiracy theorists with a definitive answer to The Question: Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone when he shot the President? At one time or another, doubters of the lone gunman theory "have accused 42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people of being involved in the assassination," said author Vincent Bugliosi. That's a lot of paranoia. So, when reporters, producers, or amateur historians are looking to check out the latest JFK conspiracy theory, they call Dave Perry. "People think I'm an anti-conspiracy guy," Perry said recently at his Dallas-area home.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while in a presidential motorcade in Dallas. Pictured, Kennedy's widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, children, Caroline and Jo…

Chile: Significant Challenges Await the New Government

Summary


Chileans go to the polls Nov. 17 for a presidential election that will likely prove cathartic for a country that experienced significant social unrest during the preceding administration. Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet of the center-left Concertacion coalition seems poised to win in either the first round of elections or the second, which is scheduled for Dec. 15.

The election is notable for several reasons. It is the first time voters will choose between two female candidates and also the contest in which voting is no longer mandatory. From a historical perspective, this election signals a pivot point for Chile, which, more than 20 years after the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship, is in the throes of a divisive national debate concerning the role of the government in social welfare.

Analysis


Though there are seven presidential candidates, Bachelet's only real competitor is Evelyn Matthei, a former labor and social security minister and candidate from the center…