Saturday, December 7, 2013
For the past three months I have been working on a web project on the weekends. This is why blogging has been light on these two days. Fortunately .... this project is now coming to a close but for the next month blogging will still be light for the weekends (including this weekend). Regular blogging will return Monday morning.
U.S. sailors render hand salutes in front of the remembrance wreath during the Naval Support Activity Naples Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony in Naples, Italy, Dec. 6, 2013. The ceremony honored the 2,403 Americans who died during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Offier 2nd Class Jared King
After 9/11, operations against al-Qa’ida were launched. The first CIA team landed in Afghanistan just 15 days after the attack and immediately began building the base for Operation Enduring Freedom. This canvas captures just one of the many resupply drops from a CIA-owned, Soviet-built MI-17 helicopter. The conditions were brutal and the supply drops were risky, but the painting is intended to capture the unseen efforts that went into each mission. Behind the scenes, intelligence analysts, logisticians, security officers, indigenous allies, operational planners, and U.S. military components worked diligently to pull off perilous supply drops.
CIA’s ‘Intelligence Art Collection’ Now Open To The Public -- Guns.com
The CIA is home to a secretive art collection of various pieces of work based on historically significant moments in U.S. history.
Everything the CIA touches becomes shrouded in mystery, including their “Intelligence Art Collection.” While most people don’t have access to the paintings and sculptures inside the CIA, the Southern Museum of Flight in Alabama is open to the public and displays replicas in their exhibit called “Shadow Gallery, The Art of Intelligence,” Boing Boing reports.
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My Comment: Picasso it is not .... and it is only a few pieces .... but it is still an interesting collection.
WARS SINCE 1900-- Polynational War Memorial
Visit the sources page or the FAQ for information about sources and definitions. This section is currently being updated!
See the update page for more information.
How many died because of warfare in the 20th and 21st century? See the new stats page.
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My Comment: This is a list of all the wars that have occurred since 1900. I disagree with some of their stats .... and some wars have been omitted (Russia - Georgia war 2008) .... but this is still a good list of most of the conflicts and wars since 1900.
China's True Economic Achilles' Heel? Oil Dependency -- World Crunch
Concerns grow in Beijing, especially as the American boom in shale-gas production is helping the U.S. move toward energy independence.
BEIJING — The United States is expected to bypass Russia next year to become the world’s largest non-OPEC crude oil producing country, according to a recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Another report pointed out that the difference between daily oil consumption and production in the U.S. has shrunk to 624 barrels in September. That same figure is 630 for China, making it now the world’s biggest net crude oil importer.
China’s oil import dependency has risen from 32% at the beginning of this century to 57% last year. In the past few years, Chinese car ownership has exploded while China’s oil production has grown only slightly.
A few days ago, China’s National Energy Administration incorporated shale gas for the first time as a strategic and emerging industry. The Chinese government is expected to increase financial support to this industry by reducing fees and royalties and adding new tax breaks to shale gas mining firms.
“There’s no doubt China’s oil import dependency is increasing,” a Chinese energy expert says. “It’s only a matter of time that this will reach 60% or even higher.”
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My Comment: I have been going to China regularly since the mid 1980s .... and energy has always been their number one issue. They are definitely addicted to energy, and as their economy grows and expectations rise .... energy demands and needs increase correspondingly. But in the event of an oil shock and a massive price increase .... it will be panic time in Beijing.
Britain Is Up To Its Neck In US Dirty Wars And Death Squads -- Seumas Milne, The Guardian
The war on terror is now an endless campaign of drone and undercover killings that threatens a more dangerous world
You might have thought the war on terror was finally being wound down, 12 years after the US launched it with such disastrous results. President Obama certainly gave that impression earlier this year when he declared that "this war, like all wars, must end".
In fact, the Nobel peace prize winner was merely redefining it. There would be no more "boundless global war on terror", he promised. By which he meant land wars and occupations are out for now, even if the US is still negotiating for troops to remain in Afghanistan after the end of next year.
But the war on terror is mutating, growing and spreading. Drone attacks, which have escalated under Obama from Pakistan to north Africa, are central to this new phase. And as Dirty Wars – the powerful new film by the American journalist Jeremy Scahill – makes clear, so are killings on the ground by covert US special forces, proxy warlords and mercenaries in multiple countries.
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My Comment: Jeremy Scahill is an interesting journalist. And while I do disagree with some of his assertions, I have seen his documentary and I do recommend it for viewing.
Footage: The incident in which Blackman killed a Taliban militant was caught on camera by another Marine
'You Have Betrayed Our Troops And Tarnished Their Reputation': 'Marine A' Alexander Blackman Jailed For At Least 10 Years For Executing Injured Taliban Insurgent -- Daily Mail
* Alexander Blackman filmed shooting wounded fighter in September 2011
* His identity was made public after he was convicted of murder
* He was today handed a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 10 years
* Court heard tape of Blackman saying 'shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***'
* He has been dismissed with disgrace from the Royal Marines
* Blackman and his wife say they are 'devastated' by the sentence
* Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett says he 'treated Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood'
* 'You were obliged to care for him but instead you executed him'
* Judge says it sends message that troops who commit war crimes will be dealt with severely
he Royal Marine convicted of murdering a wounded Taliban prisoner will serve at least 10 years in prison after he was given a life sentence by a court martial today.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 39, was sentenced at a hearing in Bulford, Wiltshire, one day after a ban on identifying him was lifted by a High Court ruling.
The serviceman - known during the hearing as 'Marine A' - was filmed shooting the injured man and telling him 'shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***' during a tour of duty in Helmand province in September 2011.
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More News On 'Marine A' Alexander Blackman Being Jailed For At Least 10 Years For Executing An Injured Taliban Insurgent
Marine jailed for Afghan murder -- BBC
U.K. marine Alexander Blackman gets life for Afghan murder -- CBC/AP
10 year minimum jail sentence for Royal Marine Sgt Alexander Blackman guilty for murdering a Taliban insurgent -- The Independent
British Marine Jailed For Afghan Murder -- Radio Free Europe
Royal Marine must serve at least 10 years in jail for Taliban murder -- The Guardian
Marine 'devastated' at life sentence -- BBC
Marine 'devastated' after prison sentence -- The Telegraph
Commanding officer's letter defends Sergeant Alexander Blackman -- BBC
Thrown to the wolves by cowards: COLONEL RICHARD KEMP says Sergeant Blackman should be given special pleading when he is sentenced -- Daily Mail
Sergeant Blackman commanded 'most dangerous square mile in Afghanistan' -- The Guardian
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brett Cowles fires his M240B machine gun during unknown distance, live-fire training on Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Nov. 24, 2013. Cowles, a machine gunner, is assigned to India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Corey Dabney
Shades of Vietnam: Spike In U.S. Troop Deaths Tied To Stricter Rules Of Engagement -- Washington Times
The number of U.S. battlefield fatalities exceeded the rate at which troop strength surged in 2009 and 2010, prompting national security analysts to assert that coinciding stricter rules of engagement led to more deaths.
A connection between the sharp increase in American deaths and restrictive rules of engagement is difficult to confirm. More deaths surely stemmed from ramped-up counterterrorism raids and the Taliban’s response with more homemade bombs, the No. 1 killer of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
But it is clear that the rules of engagement, which restrain troops from firing in order to spare civilian casualties, cut back on airstrikes and artillery strikes — the types of support that protect troops during raids and ambushes.
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Previous Post: Rules of engagement limit the actions of U.S. troops and drones in Afghanistan -- Washington Times
My Comment: Thank God U.S. and NATO forces are leaving .... as outlined in this report .... the new rules of engagement in Afghanistan will make it impossible to fight .... so why stay?
The number of Taliban freed by Pakistan in the last nine months has now reached 32. PHOTO: REUTERS
Freed Taliban Prisoners in Pakistan and Afghanistan Return to Jihad -- Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai, Daily Beast
Pakistan and Afghanistan have released waves of Taliban prisoners in a goodwill gesture—but instead of returning home as promised, the radicals are flocking to rejoin the fight against the West.
Abdullah never gives up. The senior Taliban commander, who goes by one name, lost a leg in the fighting in late 2001 just as Mullah Mohammad Omar’s forces were collapsing. He was captured and sent to the U.S. lockup at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Released from the Cuban prison in late 2005, he was immediately rearrested when he arrived in Pakistan and spent the next five years in a Pakistani jail run by the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. After nearly a decade behind bars, he was released in 2010 and quickly became the insurgency’s overall commander for the strategic region of southern Afghanistan. Pakistan’s release of Abdullah and of some two dozen other important Taliban prisoners in late 2012 was meant as a goodwill gesture to Kabul. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government has been lobbying Islamabad hard to get it to release top insurgent inmates like Abdullah as a means of luring the Taliban into peace talks. In theory, the freed prisoners were to rejoin their families, most of whom live in Pakistan, and to serve as harbingers of peace—not return to the 12-year-old jihad against the U.S. and Kabul.
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My Comment: Many ordinary Afghans were against these releases .... but both Afghan and Pakistan governments choose to not listen to them .... and now everyone must live with the consequences.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai speaks during a joint news conference with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (not pictured) in Kabul November 30, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail
Afghanistan Won't Bow To US "Pressure" Over Security Pact - Official -- Reuters
A senior aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the United States on Friday of trying to pressure elements of his government to accept a security deal that would shape the post-2014 U.S. military presence in the country.
The bilateral security pact (BSA) was thrown into doubt last month when Karzai said he would sign only if new conditions were met, and even then only after April elections.
If the pact is not signed Washington says it will consider a complete military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which remains embroiled in the insurgency of the Islamist militant Taliban.
Failure to sign could could also put Western aid running to billions of dollars in serious jeopardy, exposing the central Asian country's shaky economy to collapse.
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My Comment: This is interesting .... the Afghan President is getting unexpected support from a key U.S. Democrat senator .... Top Democrat Tells Obama to Stop Insisting Karzai Sign Security Agreement -- ABC News
Why Did The Pentagon Build A $34 Million Facility In Afghanistan That No One Wanted And No One Is Using
The Special Investigative General for Afghanistan Reconstruction is demanding answers as to why $36 million was spent on this never-used facility, located on Camp Leatherneck in The Washir District.SIGARHQ
Military Watchdog To Re-Open Probe Of $34M Facility Built In Afghanistan But Never Used -- FOX News
The independent auditor who postponed a probe into a $34 million "white elephant" of a military facility the Pentagon built in Afghanistan over objections from top leaders is reopening his investigation.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko delayed his initial probe last summer, after the Pentagon vowed to investigate why millions were apparently wasted on the hulking headquarters at Camp Leatherneck in southwestern Afghanistan. But Sopko said defense officials have not addressed concerns he initially raised, leaving him no choice but to restart his inquiry.
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More News On The Pentagon Auditor To Investigate A $34M Facility Built In Afghanistan But Never Used
Afghan IG Reopens Leatherneck Command Center Probe -- Military.com
Afghan IG reopens probe into huge Leatherneck command center -- Stars and Stripes
Watchdog faults US military's oversight of aid to Afghanistan -- L.A. Times
Global Hawk Drone Flies Into Budget Battle Between Pentagon, Congress -- L.A. Times
The Air Force planned to stop buying and flying the Global Hawk drone to save about $2.5 billion over five years. Lawmakers backed by the defense lobby have scuttled that and other cost-cutting efforts.
When the Air Force looked for ways to save money last year to deal with declining budgets, officials decided to halt work on a high-flying, long-endurance spy drone built in Palmdale by defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp.
At a cost of $35,000 per flying hour, the Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft had "priced itself out of the niche, in terms of taking pictures in the air," Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said at the time.
The Air Force planned to stop buying the Global Hawk and mothball 18 of those it already owned to save about $2.5 billion over five years. The high-tech drones, the military said, were not as capable as the battle-tested U-2 spy planes.
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My Comment: Just another example on the power of lobby groups and special interests in Washington.
Secret New UAS Shows Stealth, Efficiency Advances -- Aviation Week
A large, classified unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman is now flying—and it demonstrates a major advance in combining stealth and aerodynamic efficiency. Defense and intelligence officials say the secret unmanned aerial system (UAS), designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, is scheduled to enter production for the U.S. Air Force and could be operational by 2015.
Funded through the Air Force’s classified budget, the program to build this new UAS, dubbed the RQ-180, was awarded to Northrop Grumman after a competition that included Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The aircraft will conduct the penetrating ISR mission that has been left unaddressed, and under wide debate, since retirement of the Lockheed SR-71 in 1998.
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More News On The RQ-180
Unmasking the RQ-180 -- Ares/Aviation Week
Where Does RQ-180 Fit In Stealthy UAS History? -- Aviation Week
U.S. Air Force flying new Northrop spy drone -AvWeek -- Reuters
Unmasked: Area 51's Biggest, Stealthiest Spy Drone Yet -- Killer Apps/Foreign Policy
Penton's Aviation Week Uncovers New, Classified Unmanned Aircraft Flying at Area 51 -- Sacramento Bee/PR Newswire
Report: Air Force building drone for operations in ‘hostile’ airspace -- Washington Times
US Air Force 'secretly builds new stealth drone' -- The Telegraph
Aviation Week: RQ-180 UAS is the USAF new Stealth Drone -- Defense Update