Monday, December 22, 2014

President Obama: Putin Hasn’t ‘Rolled Me’ And He Is No Chess Master



Obama: Putin Is No Chess Master -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- Critics have pounded President Barack Obama for being upstaged by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Russia's economy is plunging into a recession and Obama's got more to back up his tack on the world stage.

Obama pointed to the result of his sanctions tactic in Russia as proof he's got a successful strategy, in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley airing Sunday.

"There was a spate of stories about how he is the chess master and outmaneuvering the West and outmaneuvering Mr. Obama and this and that and the other. And right now, he's presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis and a huge economic contraction," Obama said. "That doesn't sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of America."

Read more ....

More News On President Obama's Commenting On Putin

Obama: Putin Has Not Outmaneuvered West -- VOA
Obama: Putin hasn’t ‘rolled me,’ economic sanctions on Russia have worked -- Washington Times
Vladimir Putin 'No Chess Master' : US President Barack Obama -- NDTV/AFP
President Obama: Putin Hasn’t ‘Rolled Me’ -- Inquisitr
Obama: Putin Hasn't Rolled Me or America -- Weekly Standard

My Comment: Putin "hasn’t rolled me’ .... it is very strange to hear a U.S. President personalize U.S. - Russian relations to the level that he has in this CNN interview. Does he not know that it is not about him?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Experts Are Critical On The FBI Evidence That Says That North Korea Is Responsible For The Cyber Attack Against Sony


What Is FBI Evidence For North Korea Hack Attack? -- Dave Lee, BBC

The FBI's analysis has concluded North Korea is to blame for the attack on Sony Pictures - but how can it be sure?

As well as Pyongyang having a motive for taking serious issue with The Interview, there's a couple of pieces of key evidence the US is now using to pin the blame.

However, they're not without flaws.

As security researcher Brian Honan put it to me earlier: "I still don't see anything that in a court would convict North Korea beyond reasonable doubt."

So let's take a look.

Read more ....

More News On Experts Being Critical  On The FBI Evidence That Says That North Korea Is Responsible For The Cyber Attack Against Sony

Security experts: FBI report light on evidence linking North Korea to Sony hack -- CSM
These experts still don't buy the FBI claim that North Korea hacked Sony -- L.A. Times
Despite the accusations, there's still little evidence linking North Korea to the Sony hack -- Mashable
Evidence in Sony hack attack suggests possible involvement by Iran, China or Russia, intel source says -- FOX News
FBI says North Korea hacked Sony – what's the proof? -- New Scientist
Who really hacked Sony Pictures? It probably wasn’t North Korea -- Extreme Tech
The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy -- Kim Zetter, Threat Level/Wired
Think North Korea hacked Sony? Think about this -- Martyn Williams, PC World
The Sony hack: What if it isn't North Korea? -- Michael Hiltzik, L.A. Times
Why North Korea may not be behind the Sony hack -- Terrence McCoy and Anna Fifield, Washington Post

North Korea Threatens To Attack The White House And The Pentagon



North Korea Threatens Attack On White House As US Mulls Returning Country To Terror Sponsor List -- AOL.com

North Korea is threatening attacks against the U.S. while adamantly denying it had anything to do with the cyber assault that nearly brought down an entire movie studio.

The threats come just as the Obama administration is considering putting the reclusive regime back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in the wake of hackers infiltrating Sony Pictures, the president told CNN.

The North's fiery anti-American rhetoric has grown in recent days after the U.S. apparently rebuffed the hermit kingdom's proposal to work together to find the real hackers responsible for the infiltration of Sony Pictures.

Read more ....

More News On North Korea Threatening To Attack The U.S.

N. Korea threatens strikes on US amid hacking claims -- AP
North Korea denies Sony hack but warns U.S.: Worse is coming -- CNN
North Korea threatens to 'blow up' the White House after claiming to find 'clear evidence' that the GOVERNMENT was behind controversial Sony film The Interview -- Daily Mail
Sony Hack: North Korea Threatens To 'Blow Up' White House, Pentagon If US Retaliates -- IBTimes
North Korea threatens to hit back at US -- The Age
North Korea Threatens Bigger Pain If Punished Over Sony Hack -- Bloomberg
N. Korea threatens ultra-harsh action on U.S. soil over hacking allegation -- Yonhap News Agency
'Blow Up Those Citadels': North Korea Threatens, Blames U.S. for 'Interview' -- NBC
N Korea threatens US over hacking claims -- Al Jazeera
North Korea Threatens To Attack U.S. If Obama Retaliates Over Sony Hacking -- Huffington Post

President Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' To Close Guantanamo



Obama To Do 'Everything I Can' To Close Gitmo -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama says he plans to push to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility during his final two years in office -- potentially fulfilling a major campaign promise that he hasn't yet accomplished.

"I'm going to be doing everything I can to close it," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley that aired Sunday on "State of the Union."

"It is something that continues to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world, the fact that these folks are being held," Obama said. "It is contrary to our values."

The President's comments follow a flurry of executive action at the start of what he called his "fourth quarter" in the Oval Office -- after Republicans walloped Democrats in November's midterm elections, taking control of both houses of Congress.

Read more ....

More News On President Obama Vowing To Close Guantanamo Prison

Obama vows 'do everything I can' to close Guantanamo: CNN interview -- Reuters
Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo -- VOA
Obama Plans More Gitmo Transfers in Coming Weeks -- WSJ
Obama pledges to shut down Guantanamo Bay — again -- New York Daily News

Russia Defies The West

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, December 18, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev

Putin: Sanctions Won't Stop Russia's Support Of 'Compatriots' -- Voice of America

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that his country would not back down from "supporting compatriots" in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow this year despite widespread Western protests.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said Western sanctions would not force Russia to give up Crimea because the peninsula is a "historic and integral part of Russia." It promised to retaliate against the sanctions.

Read more ....

More News On Putin Vowing To Defy The West

Ukraine crisis: Russia defies fresh Western sanctions -- BBC
Putin: No One Can 'Intimidate Or Isolate' Russia -- Radio Free Europe
Russia Denounces New Round of Western Sanctions -- New York Times
Putin says Russia will not be ‘intimidated’ over Crimea -- Irish Times
Putin says Russia won't be intimidated over Crimea -- Reuters
Russia Pledges To Remain In Crimea Despite New US Sanctions -- IBTimes

My Comment: The feedback that I am getting from everyone that I know in Russia is universal .... family/friends/contacts/associates/etc. .... everyone is preparing for rough economic times .... but here is the kicker that should make everyone pause .... they are accepting it as the price to pay for supporting Putin's policies .... albeit reluctantly.

Will this support last? Hmmmm .... ask me that question this time next year.

In A Sign Of Improving Relations, U.S. Delivers 10 Apache Helicopters To Egypt

The US annually allocates some $1.5bn in aid to Egypt, including $1.3bn in military assistance [REUTERS]

US Delivers 10 Helicopters To Egypt In Sign Of Improving Relations -- The Guardian

* Apache helicopters arrived this week to support counter-terrorism
* Delivery had been on hold since coup against elected president last year

Egypt received 10 Apache helicopters from the US in the past week, security sources said on Saturday, in a sign of easing tensions between the longtime allies confronting Islamist extremism across north Africa and the Middle East.

The US announced in April that it had decided to lift its hold on the delivery of the attack helicopters. The hold was imposed last year, after the military toppled elected president Mohamed Morsi and cracked down hard on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

The Pentagon said in September that the US would deliver the helicopters, built by Boeing, to support Cairo’s counter-terrorism efforts.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Delivering 10 Apache Helicopters To Egypt

Egypt receives 10 Apache helicopters from U.S.: sources -- Reuters
US says it delivered 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt -- AFP
Sources: Egypt receives 10 Apache helicopters from US -- Israel Hayom/Reuters
US delivers Apache helicopters to Egypt -- Al Jazeera
Egypt receives delayed Apache helicopter shipment from US -- Ahram Online

Tunisians Vote In Landmark Presidential Elections



Tunisians Vote In Landmark Elections -- Al Jazeera

Tunisia electing president in runoff that presents a stark choice between the country's past and its post-uprising era.

Tunisians are going to the polls to freely elect their president for the first time in the country's history, rounding off an at times bumpy four-year transition from dictatorship.

The runoff on Sunday pits 88-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of the Nidaa Tounes party, against incumbent Moncef Marzouki, who held the post through an alliance with the moderate Islamist movement Ennahda.

Read more ....

More News On Tunisia's Presidential Election

Tunisians choose president in run-off elections -- BBC
Tunisia holds historic presidential runoff vote -- CBC/AP
Tunisians vote for new president in run-off elections -- UPI
Tunisians vote for post-revolution president -- AFP
Tunisians Head to Elect President in Runoff -- WSJ
Polls open in Tunisia’s landmark presidential election -- Euronews
Tunisians Vote in First Ever Democratic Presidential Run-Off: Reports -- Sputnik
Meet Tunisia’s two presidential contenders: Marzouki and Essebsi -- Al Arabiya

Pakistan Hangs More Taliban Militants

People hold candles and signs to condemn the Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. Reuters/File

Four Militants Hanged In Pakistan As Execution Campaign Widens -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Pakistan hanged four Islamist militants on Sunday in the second set of executions since the government lifted a moratorium after the Taliban massacred 132 children and nine others at a school last week.

None of those hanged has anything to do with Tuesday's school rampage in Peshawar, and some Pakistani commentators have said the executions are intended to divert attention from the failure to satisfy public demands to find the killers.

Read more ....

More News On the Aftermath Of This Week's School Attack In Pakistan

Pakistan hangs four more militants after school attack -- Daily Mail/AFP
Pakistan starts hanging militants in revenge for school massacre -- RT
Pakistan massacre: Thousands flock to Peshawar school to mourn dead, demand action against Taliban -- ABC News (Australia)
“Death to terrorists” chants outside Army Public School -- DAWN
People chant “death to terrorists” outside Army Public School -- Daily Times
Pakistan executes militants and bombards tribal areas -- AP
Mastermind of Pakistan school attack ID'd as militant known by 'Slim' -- FOX News
Pakistan school massacre ‘mastermind’ revealed -- The Scotsman
Pakistan Taliban Identifies Mastermind of Peshawar Massacre as Umar Mansoor -- Sputnik
Pakistan army kills scores of insurgents in latest raid on Taliban -- Al Jazeera
Pakistan steps up campaign against Taliban -- Al Jazeera
Pakistan’s military kills at least 119 suspected militants -- Washington Post
Airstrikes targeting Pakistan Taliban continue in response to school massacre -- Washington Post
Six Militants Killed in U.S. Drone Attacks in Pakistan -- New York Times
Pakistanis pray, resolve to fight terror at stricken school -- AFP
Pakistan Moves to End Policy on ‘Good Taliban’ -- WSJ
Pakistan dares to ask: will school attack finally end myth of the ‘good Taliban’? -- Jon Boone, The Guardian

Islamic State Executing Foreigners Who No Longer Want To Fight

Islamic State ‘Executed’ Deserters For Trying To Go Home -- The Australian

ABOUT 100 foreign Islamic State fighters reportedly have been executed after trying to flee the group, raising fears about Australians wanting to leave the conflict.

Britain’s Financial Times quoted an unnamed Syrian activist saying 100 executions of foreign fighters trying to leave the group had been confirmed in Islamic State’s proclaimed capital Raqqa.

Australian authorities declined to comment on whether any Australians may have been among the dead.

The report comes months after former Sydney man Mohammad Daniel, more commonly known as 42-year-old New Zealander Mark John Taylor, claimed he wished to leave Syria after fighting with the al Qa’ida-backed Jabhat al-Nusra and said he had sought a new passport. He has since joined Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The Islamic State Has Executed 100 Foreign Fighters Who Have Deserted

IS has executed 100 foreigners trying to quit: report -- AFP
100 foreign fighters executed by ISIS for trying to quit - report -- RT
'IS' is executing foreign fighters trying to quit: report -- Deutsche Welle
Islamic State Executes 100 Fighters Who Wanted to Flee Raqqa: Report -- Sputnik
ISIS ‘executes 100 deserters’ in Syria’s Raqqa -- Al Arabiya
Jihadists 'kill 100 deserters' -- Gulf Daily News
IS executed 100 militants who tried to flee from Syrian headquarters -- Zee News
Islamic State executes 100 foreign fighters who tried to flee: Report -- First Post


Iraqi Kurds Continue Their Assault Against The Islamic State



Iraqi Kurds Push Farther Into Sinjar As Air Strikes Destroy Isis Strongholds -- The Guardian

* Thousands of Yazidis evacuated from Mt Sinjar but town ‘far from cleared’
* Other targets in Iraq include Tal Afar, Ramadi, Mosul and Baiji

US-led forces attacked Islamic State (Isis) targets on Sunday with 13 air strikes in Iraq and three in Syria, using fighter, bomber and other aircraft, the US military said.

Four of the Iraq strikes were near Sinjar in northern Iraq, which destroyed Isis buildings, tactical units and vehicles. Other Iraqi cities targeted included Tal Afar, Ramadi, Mosul and Baiji, according to the Combined Joint Task Force.

The strikes in Syria focussed around the contested city of Kobani near the Turkish border, it said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News On Iraqi Kurds Continuing Their Assault Against The Islamic State

Iraqi Kurds Push Into Sinjar After Islamic State Occupation -- WSJ
Kurdish Forces Press Sinjar Offensive Against IS Extremists -- VOA
Iraq Kurds deliver aid to Mt Sinjar, expand operation -- Daily Mail/AFP
Iraqi Kurdish Leader Visits Sinjar After IS Pushed Out -- VOA
Barzani Claims Peshmerga Victories Against IS Militants Near Sinjar -- Radio Free Europe
On Mount Shingal, Barzani vows to take on ISIS ‘wherever they are’ -- Rudaw
Yazidis cheer Kurds on Iraqi mountain for breaking Islamic State siege -- Reuters
Yazidis get relief, reason to cheer as Kurds take key town from ISIS -- CNN
Islamic State group calls Kurds 'Israeli dogs' -- i24 News

North Korea Denies Hacking Sony. Threatens Retailiation

North Korea has denied hacking Sony Pictures email to avenge the studio's not-yet-released movie The Interview, about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (KCNA/Reuters)

North Korea Denies Hacking Sony -- Reuters

(Reuters) - North Korea has said U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were "groundless slander," and that it wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States.

The United States stands by its assertion that North Korea was to blame, a White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman said on Saturday, in response to the remarks.

U.S. President Barack Obama had blamed North Korea for the devastating cyberattack on Sony, which had led to the Hollywood studio cancelling the imminent release of "The Interview," a comedy on the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Read more ....



More News On North Korean Denials That They Are Responsible For Hacking Sony

North Korea responds to Sony hack attack allegations -- CBS/AP
North Korea says it's not involved in Sony hack; proposes joint probe with US -- FOX News
North Korea wants joint inquiry with US into Sony hacking -- Irish Times
North Korea threatens to hit back at White House in Sony Pictures hacking row -- Straits Times/AFP
N. Korea threatens ultra-harsh action on U.S. soil over hacking allegation -- Global Post/Yonhap News Agency
North Korea offers US joint investigation of Sony cyberattack -- RT

Update: U.S. Rejects North Korean Call For Joint Probe Of Hacking Attacks -- Radio Free Europe

President Obama: North Korea’s Cyber Attack Not An ‘Act Of War’



Obama: We're Not At Cyber War With North Korea -- USA Today

The United States is not at cyber war with North Korea, President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday, and will "respond proportionately" as he accused that nation of the hack attack on Sony Pictures.

"I don't think it was an act of war," Obama said on CNN's State of the Union. "I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately, as I said."

Obama also said the United States will look at returning North Korea to the list of states that sponsor terrorism. The George W. Bush administration removed it from that list in 2008 amid nuclear negotiations.

Read more ....

More News On President Obama Stating That North Korea’s Cyber Attack Not An ‘Act Of War’

Obama: North Korea's hack not war, but 'cybervandalism' -- CNN
Obama does not consider Sony hack an act of war: CNN interview -- Reuters
Obama: Sony hacking attack not an act of war by North Korea -- The Hill
Obama: North Korea hack on Sony Pictures was not an act of war -- The Guardian
Obama: North Korea’s attack ‘cybervandalism,’ not an ‘act of war’ -- Washington Times
North Korea Sony hack over film The Interview was 'vandalism', not act of war, Barack Obama says -- ABC News (Australia)
Sony Pictures hacking: Obama to wait, 'review the findings' on North Korea -- CBS/AP
US mulls putting NKorea on terrorism sponsor list -- AP

UN Report: Afghan Civilian Casualties 'Hit Record High' For 2014

Afghans lower the coffin of Afghan cameraman Zubair Hatami, who died on Saturday of injuries sustained in a Taliban attack at a French cultural centre, in Kabul December 21, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Record Number Of Afghan Civilians Killed In 2014, Says UN -- Deutschde Welle

The UN mission in Afghanistan has released a new report saying that the country has seen more than 3,100 civilians killed in conflict in 2014. The number is up 19 percent from last year.

The number of civilians killed and injured in Afghanistan this year was the highest ever recorded by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the organization said in its annual report on Saturday.

Georgette Gagnon, the human rights director of UNAMA, announced at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday that 3,188 civilians had been killed in the first 11 months of 2014 and 6,429 were injured. The total number of Afghans killed and injured could exceed 10,000 in 2014 for the first time ever, she said.

Compared with 2013, the year 2014 also saw a 33 percent increase in the number of children that died and a 14 percent rise in that of women.

Read more ....

More News On The UN Report On Afghan Civilian Casualties 'Hitting A Record High' For 2014

'Suffering an enormous human cost', civilian casualties up nearly 20 per cent in 2014 – UN -- UN News Centre
Afghan civilian casualties 'hit record high' -- Al Jazeera
UN: 2014 to be deadliest ever for Afghan civilians -- Stars and Stripes
UN Says Afghan Civilian Casualties Hit Record High -- Radio Free Europe
Afghan civilian casualties, injuries to reach 10,000 in 2014 – UN -- RT
UN Urging Taliban to Reduce Afghan Civilian Casualties -- New York Times
UN in talks with Afghan Taliban to reduce civilian casualties -- Zee News

Update: The Taliban have a different point of view .... Afghan Taliban decry 'biased' U.N. report on civilian casualties (Reuters).

Mossad Penetrated The Inner Circle Of Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in rare public appearance. Reuters

Report: Mossad Agent Infiltrated Hezbollah's Upper Echelons -- Arutz Sheva

Mossad 'cell' reportedly managed to thwart a significant number of major plots against Israeli targets; agent was dept. head of foreign ops.

Hezbollah says it recently exposed a Mossad agent embedded among its "elite operations unit", in what the Iranian-backed terror group says is "the most serious [intelligence] breach in Hezbollah's history."

According to Lebanese media reports, "sources close to Hezbollah" claimed an Israeli intelligence cell - comprised of four Hezbollah members under the command of the Mossad agent - had managed to foil a number of attempts by the Shia Islamist group to carry out attacks in revenge for the assassination of its most senior military chief, Imad Mughniyeh, back in 2008.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Hezbollah Has Arrested An Israeli Mole In It's Organization

Report: Hezbollah catches Mossad spy working as key official in its ranks -- Jerusalem Post
Super-Mole Discovered Working in Upper Ranks of Hezbollah on Behalf of Israeli Mossad -- Washington Free Beacon
'Mossad spy' headed Hezbollah's foreign operations -- YNet News
Israeli spy allegedly infiltrated Hezbollah and passed information on terrorist group to Mossad -- National Post/Washington Post
Report names alleged Mossad spy in Hezbollah’s ranks -- Times of Israel
Report: Mossad spy that infiltrated Hezbollah was in charge of Nasrallah's security -- Jerusalem Post
Alleged Hezbollah Mossad spy ‘was Nasrallah bodyguard’ -- Times of Israel
Lebanon: Mossad double agent 'infiltrated Hezbollah' to be bodyguard of leader Hassan Nasrallah -- IBTimes
Report: Hezbollah tries Mossad informant who foiled 5 attacks against Israelis -- Jerusalem Post
Hezbollah Places 'Mossad Agent' on Trial for Treason -- Arutz Sheva
Hezbollah Scatters Overseas Terror Cells After Alleged Capture of Mossad Double Agent: Report -- Algemeiner

My Comment: If I was the leader of Hezbollah, I will now have to make the assumption that everything has been compromised, and Israel is aware of everything.

Editor's Note

It has come to my attention that there is now a verification process necessary for the comments section of this blog. If you want to comment, you must prove that you are "Not a Robot" by (checking the box if you're not a robot), and then typing in a verification request.

I am also getting hit with these requests, and even though I have disabled the comment verification process for this blog, Google keeps on putting them back.

I have sent a note to Google, and I hope that with time they will address it.

For the moment, I share in your frustration that we must spend an extra 20 seconds of our lives addressing and satisfying the Google Overlords.

P.S.: Makes me wonder if I should set up my own website independent from Google. Hmmmm ... something to ponder during the holidays.

U.S. Drone Strike Kills 6 Militants In North Waziristan

US Drones Strike In Jihadist Stronghold In North Waziristan -- Long War Journal

The US launched a drone strike in the jihadist haven of Datta Khel in Pakistan's tribal agency of North Waziristan earlier today. The Pakistani military claimed it "cleared" Datta Khel in September as part of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which was launched in mid-June this year.

The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or Reapers fired a pair of missiles at a compound in the village of Mada Khel in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan during the early morning, killing six jihadists, The News reported. A "high value target," who has not been named, is said to have been among those killed, Dawn noted.

Pakistani and regional jihadist groups, including al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, have not released a statement or commented on the strike.

Read more ....

More News On A U.S. Drone Strike Killing 6 Militants In North Waziristan

Six Militants Killed in U.S. Drone Attacks in Pakistan -- NYT
US drone strike kills 5 militants, Pakistan military says -- FOX News
Drone strike kills four suspected militants in North Waziristan -- DAWN
Seven killed in NWA drone strike -- International News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

SAS Hit Squad Sent To Iraq To Hunt Down Islamic State Leaders

The squadron, from Hereford, had been due to travel to Afghanistan to hunt Taliban leaders before they were ordered to turn their attentions on Isis (file picture)

SAS Hit Squad Sent To Iraq To Hunt Down ISIS Jihadists After Militants 'Started Learning How To Avoid Air Strikes' -- Daily Mail

* Squadron diverted from Afghanistan mission in a bid to target Isis leaders
* Executioner Jihadi John believed to be a primary target for 60-strong team
* Troopers will also pinpoint targets within Iraq to assist with air strikes
* Comes amid reports Isis fanatics executed 100 of its own foreign fighters
* Militants recruited from abroad killed for trying to flee from Isis stronghold

Up to 60 SAS fighters are heading to Iraq to hunt down Islamic State leaders after militants started learning how to avoid airstrikes, it has been reported.

The full squadron of troopers had initially been dispatched to Afghanistan for a separate operation, but have been diverted to battle Isis fanatics.

There have been reports this morning that one of their primary targets will be Jihadi John, the Briton believed to have killed British and American hostages in a series of gruesome executions.

Read more ....

Update: SAS sent to Iraq to hunt down Jihadi John and Isis fighters -- IBTimes

My Comment: As military missions go .... this is as dangerous as it can get.

Today's Insurgencies Are Changing The Market For Military Jets



How ISIS And Boko Haram Could Change The Way Countries Purchase Air Power -- Clay Dillow, Fortune

Textron’s Scorpion recon and strike jet offers cash-strapped countries air power on the cheap. Global events are making it more attractive.

Like spaceships and sports stadiums, military strike jets typically aren’t the kind of things that companies build—much less sell—off the shelf. Take the Pentagon’s new F-35, for instance: Two decades and $400 billion in the making, the F-35 had nine committed customers lined up to buy thousands of aircraft (at between $80 million and $110 million per copy) before Lockheed Martin LMT 0.63% ever started bending metal in earnest. Rarely does a contractor fully develop a military jet on spec.

Read more ....

My Comment: The A-10 does a very good job in providing support for ground forces .... and it is a hell of a lot cheaper than a F-35. But the above military jet shows that the market is big enough for more "players" .... especially if the military jet is cheap and easy to maintain.

The U.S. Air Campaign Against The Islamic State Has Cost $1 Billion

Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the town of Suruc in this file photograph taken Oct. 18, 2014. Reuters

U.S. Airstrikes In Iraq And Syria Have Cost $1 Billion -- ABC News

The cost of U.S. military airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has topped $1 billion.

"As of Dec. 11, 2014, the total cost of operations related to ISIL since kinetic operations started on August 8, 2014 is $1.02 billion and the average daily cost is $8.1 million," said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Pentagon’s latest statistics show that as of Friday the U.S and its coalition partners had flown 1,371 airstrikes in both countries – 799 in Iraq and 572 in Syria.

American military aircraft have conducted 82 percent of the total number of airstrikes.

Lt. Gen. James Terry, the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters Thursday at a Pentagon briefing that the airstrikes are having a significant effect on Daesh's ability “to command and control, to resupply, and to conduct maneuvering.” Daesh is the Arabic name for the ISIS acronym.

Read more ....

Update: US Airstrikes Targeting ISIS Cost Over $1 Billion, Pentagon Says -- IBTimes

My Comment: $1 billion and counting .... with the U.S. commander pleading for patience .... something tells me that a few years from now that $1 billion will be just a drop in the bucket.

Castro: Cuba Won The War And We Will Stay Communist



Castro Thanks The U.S. In A Speech But Reaffirms Communist Rule in Cuba -- New York Times

HAVANA — President Raúl Castro declared victory for the Cuban Revolution on Saturday in a wide-ranging speech, thanking President Obama for “a new chapter” while also reaffirming that restored relations with the United States did not mean the end of Communist rule in Cuba.

In a televised speech before Parliament and a group of favored guests — including Elián González, the center of a tug of war in 2000 between Cuban exiles and Havana, and the three men convicted of spying in the United States who were released as part of the historic agreement announced on Wednesday — Mr. Castro alternated between conciliatory and combative statements directed at the United States.

Read more ....

More News On Cuban President Raoul Castro Reaffirming Communist Rule In Cuba

Raul Castro: Don't expect detente to change Cuban system -- AP
Cuba says U.S. must respect its communist system -- Reuters
Castro: Cuba will remain communist, despite new deal with United States -- UPI
Cuba 'will not change' communist system, despite thaw with US -- BBC
Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist -- VOA
Castro insists Cuba won’t abandon communism despite deal with U.S. -- Washington post
Castro: Obama’s Policy Won’t Break Communism In Cuba -- Daily Caller
Cuba to stand by its communist principles, Castro says -- RT

A French Soldier's View of US Soldiers in Afghanistan

U.S. Marines observe surrounding compounds during a security patrol in Washir district in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sept. 29, 2014. The Marines are assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. The Marines patrolled to disrupt enemy operations against the Bastion-Leatherneck Complex. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John A. Martinez Jr.

A French Soldier's View of US Soldiers in Afghanistan -- Wes O'Donnell, Warrior Lodge

What follows is an account from a French ISAF soldier that was stationed with American Warfighters in Afghanistan sometime in the past 4 years. This was copied and translated from an editorial French newspaper.

A NOS FRERES D’ARMES AMERICAINS

"We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

Read more ....

My Comment: There is a lot here .... read it all.

Pentagon Has Concluded The Bowe Berghdahl Investigation.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is pictured here in an undated photo provided to reporters by the Army. If Bergdahl is cleared of desertion charges, he'll receive $200,000 in back pay and stands to gain another $150,000 in compensation for his ordeal

Chuck Hagel Has Been Briefed On Bowe Bergdahl 'Deserter' Investigation That could See The Sergeant Take $300k In Back Pay -- Daily Mail

* The Pentagon, including Chuck Hagel, briefed on investigation to determine is Sgt Bowe Bergdahl was 'absent without leave' or AWOL
* Bergdahl could get as much as $300k in compensation
* 'We explained exactly what happened. He deserted his post...and we're now still sitting here waiting for answers,' Bergdahl's former platoon leader said
* If the Army doesn't release its finished review to the public, a member of Bergdahl's platoon said he may file a Freedom of Information Act request

The Pentagon has been briefed on an investigation into Sgt Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance from a base in Afghanistan five years ago.

Details about the probe's conclusion have been closely held. But they are likely to lay out whether Bergdahl deserted his post or was 'absent without leave' or AWOL.

And it could include recommendations on whether Bergdahl should be charged with any criminal violations or forced to leave the Army.

Any final disposition will eventually also determine whether Bergdahl gets as much as $300,000 in back pay and other benefits, including continued health care.

Read more ....

More News On The Pentagon Has Concluding The Bowe Berghdahl Investigation.

Pentagon brass to review report on Bowe Bergdahl investigation -- AP
Bowe Bergdahl Investigation Concludes, Charges Possible -- NBC
Bergdahl report given to Defense secretary -- Idaho Mountain Express
Bowe Bergdahl Investigation Concludes, Pentagon Officials Briefed -- Inquisitr