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Showing posts from April, 2015

Vietnam, 40 years after the fall of Saigon

Vietnam has celebrated the 40th anniversary of what it calls Reunification Day in Ho Chi Minh City [Reuters]

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Pham Quoc Hung felt calm when the end finally came.

It was the morning of April 30, 1975, and North Vietnamese tanks were rumbling towards their final military objective: Saigon.

Those tanks were a sign that the war in Vietnam was finally over, said Hung, recounting the last hours, 40 years ago today, of the country once known as the Republic of Vietnam, and the fall of its former capital, Saigon, to North Vietnamese forces.

"I felt calm because I could expect the result," said the 75-year-old Hung, who was a battlefield photographer with the defeated South Vietnamese army at that time.

After years covering the war that brought so much death and destruction on his country, Hung said he wasn't filled with dread at the prospect of a Communist victory. He was just relieved that peace would finally arrive.

"I wasn't afraid because I neve…

Saudi Arabia training tribal ground force in Yemen – report

Houthi militants gesture in the yard of the residence of the military commander of the Houthi militant group, Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, after it was hit by an airstrike, in Sanaa April 28, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)
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In order to break the stalemate in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has reportedly started training hundreds of Yemeni tribesmen to fight the Houthis on the ground, while Riyadh continues its bombardment campaign.

“You cannot win a war against the Houthis from the air – you need to send ground forces in, but now there's a program to train tribal fighters on the border,” a Doha-based military source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

According to another Yemeni official source, some 300 fighters have already managed to return to Yemen after getting Saudi training. They were allegedly send the Sirwah district in the central Marib province to battle Houthis in the area. According to the source the newly trained unit managed to push …

70 years since victory over Nazi Germany: Unique battle map in RT’s special project

RT collage
As Victory Day looms closer, Russia remembers the millions of Soviet lives lost in WWII to make the Nazi defeat possible. RT is launching a project that amongst personal stories and letters will also feature a unique battle map of the Eastern Front.

World War II was the world's biggest and bloodiest military conflict. It affected 61 countries with a total population of 1.7 billion people. Battles took place in 40 of those states and it was the first and only war in which nuclear weapons were used.

By far the greatest losses were suffered by the Soviet Union. Out of the 55 million lives lost, 27 million were Soviet. Over 1,700 Soviet towns and settlements and 70,000 villages were razed by the Nazis, and half of the country's infrastructure was destroyed.

The USSR's confrontation with Nazi Germany lasted from June 1941 until May 1945 and became known as the Great Patriotic War, the name it acquired after a nation-wide radio address by Joseph Stalin.

Russia, where you …

Leaking CIA secrets leads to severe punishment, unless you are the boss

Former CIA director David Petraeus (Reuters/Chris Keane)

The problem with the lenient treatment of former CIA Director, David Petraeus, isn't that he was lightly punished for his leaks. It is that other whistleblowers are punished at all.

It's a tale of two CIA employees. The first, Jeffrey Sterling, has just been convicted of leaking information about a bungled agency sortie to James Risen, a reporter. The operation took place almost 20 years ago, around the time everyone was doing the Macarena and Tom Cruise’s first Mission Impossible movie was released. Federal prosecutors are calling for a 24-year prison sentence for Sterling.

The second, David Petraeus, has already learned his fate. He received a $100,000 fine and two-years probation. The six-figure sum may seem like a lot to you, but it’s less than the former 4-star general earns for a single speech.

Petraeus was the boss, Sterling an underling. However, Sterling’s so-called misdemeanor pales into insignificance when compare…

Russia 1st to test 10Gen uranium enrichment centrifuges

RIA Novosti / A. Solomonov

Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear agency, confirms scientists are testing 10th generation centrifuges. No other country even possesses 9th gen tech, putting Rosatom years ahead of the competition.

“We’re on to 10 Gen,” announced Aleksandr Belousov, general director of Urals Integrated Electrochemical Plant (UIEP), a Rosatom subsidiary in Novouralsk, Sverdlovsk Region, in the Urals.

“Scientists and engineers are solving technical issues, which is quite difficult. Any kind of new research and technological development is a venture undertaking, you can either succeed or fail... Any new machinery must be economically efficient. [10Gen] is being developed out of economic expediency, not for mere modernization. The more energy-intensive the machinery is, the more technical problems emerge,” Belousov said.

A gas centrifuge uses principles of centrifugal force to perform radioisotope separation of gases, by accelerating molecules to such an extent that particles of different ma…

Desperate Nepalese sleep in open as aftershocks spread fear

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Thousands of desperate Nepalese spent another night in the open in the early hours of Monday, terrorized by strong aftershocks that continued to shake the country two days after a massive quake struck, killing almost 2,500 people.

Across the capital, Kathmandu, and beyond, exhausted families whose homes were either flattened or at risk of collapse laid mattresses out on streets and erected tents to shelter from rain. The sick and wounded also lay out in the open, unable to find beds in the city's overwhelmed hospitals.

Outside Kathmandu Medical College, surgeons set up an operating theater inside a tent.

People queued for water dispensed from the back of trucks, while the few stores still open had next to nothing on their shelves. Crowds jostled at one pharmacy to snap up medicine.

High in the Himalayas, hundreds of foreign and Nepalese climbers remained trapped after a huge avalanche killed 17 people in the worst single disaster to hit Mount Everest.
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Yemen Crisis: This Exotic War Will Soon Become Europe's Problem

By Patrick Cockburn

Yemen is short of many things, but weapons is not one of them. Yemenis own between 40 and 60 million guns, according to a report by UN experts published earlier this year. This should be enough for Yemen’s 26 million people, although the experts note that demand for grenades that used to cost $5, handguns ($150) and AK-47s ($150) has increased eightfold. Whatever else happens, the war in Yemen is not going to end because any of the participants are short of weaponry.

Yemeni politics is notoriously complicated and exotic, with shifting alliances in which former enemies embrace and old friends make strenuous efforts to kill each other. But this exoticism does not mean that the war in Yemen, where the Saudis started bombing on 26 March, is irrelevant to the rest of the world. Already the turmoil there is a breeding ground for al-Qaeda type attacks such as that on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The collapse of the country into a permanent state of warfare will send waves of boat…

What's been done to save migrants in the Mediterranean?

A previous search and rescue mission had more money, and a greater range, than today's. It also rescued more people.

The ongoing tragedy of migrants and the Mediterranean

Thousands of desperate people risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy. Many never make it.

Destroying chemical weapons 100 years later in the US

Mustard gas and other deadly nerve-agent ordnance from WWI are set to be demolished after decades in storage.

Ordnance technicians use machines to simulate chemical munitions disposal at the Pueblo Chemical Depot [AP]


The first use of lethal chemical weapons was in Belgium in WWI

Israel, Egypt, and North Korea have not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention

Poison gas was used by German and Allied forces during WWI

Pueblo, United States - At a hi-tech military installation on the windswept prairie of southern Colorado, a small army of workers in protective gear, assisted by precision robots, is training to destroy one of mankind's most vile inventions: chemical weapons.

"Chemical agent destruction is a hard role. It's a high hazard operation," says project manager Kim Jackson.

"We have explosion hazards, and we also have agent hazards. That means anyone who might be exposed to the blister agent. So we spend a lot of our time with our personnel on traini…

Petraeus handed probation and fine for leaking secrets

Former CIA director and retired general appears in North Carolina court for leaking military documents to mistress.

By Agencies

Former CIA director and retired US general David Petraeus has appeared in court on charges of leaking secrets to a mistress who was writing his biography.

Petraeus attended sentencing in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday after already agreeing to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of unauthorised removal and retention of classified material.

As part of an agreement filed with prosecutors in March, the government will not seek any prison time.

Instead, Petraeus will agree to pay a $40,000 fine and receive two years of probation, according to court documents.

A retired four-star army general who led US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus agreed not to contest the set of facts laid out by the government as part of the deal.

David Kendall, Petraeus' lawyer, had no comment ahead of the plea and sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors have alleged that while the ge…

Video of Islamic State capabilities impresses military experts

IRBIL, IRAQ — The video opens with high-definition footage shot from a drone flying over an oil refinery in central Iraq, but this video isn’t from a multi-million-dollar American drone. It’s from a drone operated by the Islamic State that likely cost a few thousand dollars. And the refinery – Iraq’s largest – is held by government forces, who have been besieged by the militants for the better part of a year.

The video, called “Defiant Attack on the Apostates at the Refinery,” began appearing on jihadist-linked websites and Twitter accounts last week. It heralded an Islamic State assault on the oil refinery at Baiji, where Iraqi government soldiers have held out since last summer against surrounding Islamic State troops. In the end, the government kept hold of the refinery, the country’s largest, with the help of 47 airstrikes by the United States and a massive influx of Iraqi reinforcements.

But beyond the outcome of the refinery battle, military analysts who’ve viewed the video find i…

What Does Putin Want?

By Rostislav Ishchenko

Foreword by the Saker:

The analysis below is, by far, the best I have seen since the beginning of the conflict in the Ukraine. I have regularly posted analyses by Ishchenko on this blog before, because I considered him as one of the best analysts in Russia. This time, however, Ishchenko has truly produced a masterpiece: a comprehensive analysis of the geostrategic position of Russia and a clear and, I believe, absolutely accurate analysis of the entire “Putin strategy” for the Ukraine. I have always said that this conflict is not about the Ukraine but about the future of the planet and that there is no “Novorussian” or even “Ukrainian” solution, but that the only possible outcome is a strategic victory of either Russia or the USA which will affect the entire planet. Ishchenko does a superb overview of the risks and options for both sides and offers the first comprehensive “key” to the apparentlyincomprehensible behavior of Russia in this conflict. Finally, Ishchen…