US okays attack helicopters, hellfire missiles for Pakistan under $1 billion sale

WASHINGTON The US State Department has okayed Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles as part of around one billion dollars deal.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday. The helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia, the defence agency noted. This proposed sale will provide Pakistan with a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft that it can operate at high-altitudes. By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

Islamabad had requested a possible sale of 15 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters, 32 T-700 GE 401C Engines (30 installed and 2 spares), 1000 AGM-114 R Hellfire II Missiles in containers, 36 H-1 Technical Refresh Mission computers, 17 AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Systems, 30 629F-23 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency Communication Systems, 19 H-764 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, 32 Helmet Mounted Display/Optimised Top Owl, 17 APX-117A Identification Friend or Foe, 17 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, 17 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, 18 AN/APR-39C(V)2 Radar Warning Receivers, 15 Joint Mission Planning Systems, and 17 M197 20mm Gun Systems.

Also included are system integration and testing, software development and integration, aircraft ferry, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated cost is $952 million. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractors will be Bell Helicopter, Textron in Fort Worth, Texas; General Electric in Lynn, Massachusetts; The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama; and Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland.

Meanwhile, in a reference Islamabad’s close ties with major powers, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the US defence companies are engaged in a three-way tussle with Russia and China to sell weapons to Pakistan, complicated by the need to avoid upsetting neighbor India and its even larger arms’ import market.

News courtesy: Daily Times
Read more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/07-Apr-2015/us-okays-attack-helicopters-hellfire-missiles-for-pakistan-under-1-billion-sale

How China used more cement in 3 years than the U.S. did in the entire 20th Century

By Ana Swanson

China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century.

It’s a statistic so mind-blowing that it stunned Bill Gates and inspired haiku. But can it be true, and, if so, how? Yes, China’s economy has grown at an extraordinary rate, and it has more than four times as many people as the United States. But the 1900s were America’s great period of expansion, the century in which the U.S. built almost all of its roads and bridges, the Interstate system, the Hoover Dam, and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. And China and the U.S. are roughly the same size in terms of geographic area, ranking third and fourth in the world, respectively.

Read more » The Washington Post
See more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/24/how-china-used-more-cement-in-3-years-than-the-u-s-did-in-the-entire-20th-century/

The Fed is considering a more ambitious target for “full employment”

Fed Weighs More Ambitious Goal for Sweet Spot on Employment

(Bloomberg) — As the U.S. jobless rate reaches the range that the Federal Reserve defines as full employment, some Fed officials are asking a question: How low can you go?

Their answer: less than the 5.2 percent to 5.5 percent the Fed currently defines as the lowest that can be achieved without heating up inflation. Some Chicago Fed economists say this sweet spot, often called full employment or the natural rate of unemployment, may be as low as 5 percent.

Their boss, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, is among policy makers who have lowered their estimates for the normal rate. “I now think that it might be something more like 5.0 percent,” Evans said in a speech Wednesday.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-05/fed-weighs-more-ambitious-goal-for-sweet-spot-on-full-employment?hootPostID=b3ad681452769348e7e399927e593771

China submarines outnumber U.S. fleet: U.S. admiral

Washington: (Reuters) – China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment.

For instance, China had carried out three deployments in the Indian Ocean, and had kept vessels out at sea for 95 days, Mulloy said.

“We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines,” Mulloy told the committee.

U.S. military officials in recent months have grown increasingly vocal about China’s military buildup and launched a major push to ensure that U.S. military technology stays ahead of rapid advances by China and Russia.

Mulloy said the quality of China’s submarines was lower than those built by the United States, but the size of its undersea fleet had now surpassed that of the U.S. fleet. A spokeswoman said the U.S. Navy had 71 commissioned U.S. submarines.

U.S. submarines are built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. and General Dynamics Corp.

In its last annual report to Congress about China’s military and security developments, the Pentagon said China had 77 principal surface combatant ships, more than 60 submarines, 55 large and medium amphibious ships, and about 85 missile-equipped small combatants.

Mulloy did not provide details about the number of surface ships now operated by China.

He said the U.S. military did not believe China carried nuclear missiles on its submarines, but that it had been producing missiles and testing them.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Gunna Dickson)

News courtesy: Reuters
Read more » http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-usa-china-submarines-idUSKBN0LT2NE20150225

 

Barack Obama says US ‘at war with those perverting Islam’

US President Barack Obama says the US is “not at war with Islam – we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam”.

He was speaking to representatives from 60 nations attending a three-day event on extremism that follows attacks in Denmark and France.

Mr Obama said the world had to confront the ideologies that radicalise people.

He said those heading groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda were not religious leaders but terrorists.

Mr Obama said associating Islamic State or al-Qaeda with Islam would be buying into the propaganda of those groups, challenging critics who have questioned him for not describing recent attacks as the work of “Islamic radicals”.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-3152321

 

Pentagon in position to evacuate U.S. Embassy in Yemen

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

Washington (CNN)Two U.S. Navy warships moved into new positions in the Red Sea late Monday to be ready to evacuate Americans from the US embassy in Yemen if an order comes to do so, CNN has learned.

So far, there has been no decision to evacuate the embassy. The USS Iwo Jima and the USS Fort McHenry were moved “because they will be in the best position if asked,” by the State Department to evacuate the embassy, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the planning tells CNN. So far there has been decision to evacuate the embassy, and no request from the State Department for military assistance.

If an evacuation is ordered, the first option would be to have embassy personnel drive to the commercial airport in Sanaa and fly out, the official said. But in the wake of an embassy car being fired Tuesday, the safety of the roads in the capital is now being constantly evaluated, the official said. If embassy workers did drive to the airport it is likely some sort of air cover would be provided, under the current plan.

Other detailed military planning for various options has been finalized, the official said. Those options would be used if a request for military assistance were made.

If helicopters and V-22 aircraft from the ships are sent to Sanaa, it would be a complex operation that could last for several days to fully evacuate “several hundred Americans” from the embassy, the official cautioned. “Nobody should think this would be easy.”

The military is aware the State Department wants to keep the embassy open as long as possible, the official said, noting that it’s a valuable tool to monitor Al Qaeda in Yemen. But behind the scenes the Pentagon is pressing the point that if an evacuation becomes necessary they want to do it before the chaos in Sanaa descends into a ‘non permissive environment,” akin to combat. For now, the US believes the Houthis are not targeting Americans, but its not clear if that will last.

The plan at this point only involves the potential evacuation of State Department personnel. It would be up to State to decide if it wants to extend the potential mission to other Americans in Yemen.

News courtesy: CNN
Read more » http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/20/politics/pentagon-in-position-to-evacuate-u-s-embassy-in-yemen/

Many U.S. retailers fail up north

By Paul R. La Monica

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – Canada and the United States are geographical neighbors with many things in common. But for big American retailers, the Great White North might as well be another planet.

Canada and the United States are geographical neighbors with many things in common. But for big American retailers, the Great White North might as well be another planet.

Target announced Thursday that it was closing its stores in Canada. New CEO Brian Cornell defended the decision by saying that Target (TGT) would not have been profitable in Canada until at least 2021.

But Target is not the only American retail giant to have problems in the land of hockey and poutine.

Sears (SHLD) has struggled in Canada for years, and the company announced in October it was selling a big stake in its Sears Canada (SRSC) unit in order to raise much-needed cash. (Sears isn’t exactly a huge success on this side of the border either.)

Electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY) closed a bunch of stores in Canada two years ago. The company, which also owns Canadian electronics retailer Future Shop, laid off 950 workers last year in January.

And closeout retailer Big Lots (BIG) closed its Canadian stores in late 2013.

Read more » CNN
Learn more » http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/15/investing/canada-retail-woes-target-sears/index.html?sr=tw011515canada6pVODtopPhoto&sf35560467=1

Putin Woos Pakistan as Cold War Friend India Buys U.S. Arms

 

By Natalie Obiko Pearson and N.C Bipindra

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to build military ties with Pakistan as India buys more weapons from the U.S., changing an approach toward the nuclear-powered neighbors that has endured since the Cold War.  Sergei Shoigu, making the first visit by a Russian defense minister to Pakistan since the Soviet Union’s collapse, last week signed a “milestone” military cooperation agreement. The world community “wants to do business with Pakistan now,” Shoigu said, according to a Pakistan government statement.
Read more » Bloomberg
See more » https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-23/putin-looks-to-pakistan-as-cold-war-friend-india-buys-u-s-arms.html

 

US national shot dead in Saudi Arabia

A U.S. national was shot dead and another was wounded Tuesday when their car was fired upon in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh, the State Department confirmed.

“We can confirm that two U.S. citizen employees from Vinnell Arabia, a U.S. defense contractor supporting Saudi National Guard military programs in Riyadh, were shot at a local gas station/store approximately .5 miles from the Vinnell Arabia base in Riyadh, which is located approximately 20 miles from the U.S. Embassy,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Read more » FoxNews
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/10/14/us-national-reportedly-shot-dead-in-saudi-arabia/

‘US failure to look into Saudi role in 9/11 has helped Isis’

In an exclusive interview, the Senator who led inquiry into attack says Obama’s plan to confront Sunni jihadis repeats past mistakes

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has been aided by the continuing failure of the US Government to investigate the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks and its support of jihadi movements such as al-Qaeda in the years since, says former Senator Bob Graham, the co-chairman of the official inquiry into 9/11.

Senator Graham, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that successive administrations in Washington had turned a blind eye to Saudi support for Sunni extremists. He added: “I believe that the failure to shine a full light on Saudi actions and particularly its involvement in 9/11 has contributed to the Saudi ability to continue to engage in actions that are damaging to the US – and in particular their support for Isis.”

Senator Graham, a distinguished elder statesmen who was twice Democratic governor of Florida before spending 18 years in the US Senate, believes that ignoring what Saudi Arabia was doing and treating it as a reliable American ally contributed to the US intelligence services’ failure to identify Isis as a rising power until after it captured Mosul on 10 June. He says that “one reason I think that our intelligence has been less than stellar” is that not enough attention was given to Saudi Arabia’s fostering of al-Qaeda-type jihadi movements, of which Isis is the most notorious and successful. So far the CIA and other intelligence services have faced little criticism in the US for their apparent failure to foresee the explosive expansion of Isis, which now controls an area larger than Great Britain in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

More » THE INDEPENDENT 
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/islamic-state-us-failure-to-look-into-saudi-role-in-911-has-helped-isis-9731563.html

USA: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in Ferguson

By Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY

FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday, following nights of protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.

“If we’re going to have justice, we must first have and maintain peace,” Nixon said at a Saturday afternoon press conference. “The eyes of the world are watching.”

Read more » USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/16/ferguson-missouri-michael-brown-rally-protests/14160469/

Israeli official confirms US nixed arms shipment; pols argue over who’s to blame

WSJ report of frayed relations between Washington and Jerusalem, including combative Obama-Netanyahu phone call, sparks firestorm among Israeli politicians

senior Israeli official confirmed to Israeli media that the US had suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel amid worsening ties over fighting in Gaza

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition
White House issues unusually strong rebuke after 16 deaths
But Pentagon confirms that US resupplied Israel with ammunition

By  in Washington and in Jerusalem, theguardian.com

The United States issued a firm condemnation of the shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that killed at least 16 Palestinians on Wednesday, but also confirmed it restocked Israel’s dwindling supplies of ammunition.

The White House expressed concern that thousands of civilians who had sought protection from the UN were at risk after the shelling of the girls’ elementary school. Some 3,300 civilians were taking shelter there, after being told by Israel to leave their homes.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which runs the school, said its initial assessment was that it has been struck by Israeli artillery.

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/us-firm-condemnation-shelling-un-school-gaza?CMP=twt_gu

Syria President Bashar al-Assad sworn in for third term

Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third seven-year term as president of Syria, after an election last month that opponents dismissed as a “farce”.

State television broadcast what it said was a live ceremony from the presidential palace in Damascus.

Mr Assad vowed to fight “terrorism” until security was restored to all of the country, but also promised to offer “national reconciliation” to opponents.

He has defied calls to step down since an uprising began in March 2011.

The conflict that erupted after the authorities launched a brutal crackdown on protests has left at least 170,000 people dead and driven more than nine million others from their homes.

‘Monstrous faces’

Mr Assad won 88.7% of the votes cast in the first multi-candidate election in decades, which took place only in areas of Syria that were under government control.

After taking the oath of office on Wednesday, Mr Assad told his supporters: “Syrians, three years and four months… have passed since some cried ‘freedom’.”

“They wanted a revolution, but you have been the real revolutionaries. I congratulate you for your revolution and for your victory,” he added.

“Those who lost their way can now see clearly… the monstrous faces have been unveiled, the mask of freedom and the revolution has fallen.”

Mr Assad also promised that Arab, regional and Western countries who are helping the rebels trying to topple him would soon “pay a high price for supporting terrorism.

Over the past year, Mr Assad’s forces – backed by Iran and the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah – have consolidated their control over a corridor of territory stretching north from the capital to the city of Homs and then into Hama and Latakia provinces.

However, large swathes of the north and east remain under the control of rebel forces, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The powerful al-Qaeda breakaway declared the creation of a “caliphate” in its territories last month after launching an offensive that saw it capture parts of northern and western Iraq.

Western-backed and more moderate Islamist rebels in Syria, who have been engaged in deadly battles with the group’s fighters since the start of the year, rejected the announcement.

Courtesy: BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28328138

More » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2014/07/140716_syria_president_assad_rwa.shtml

The biggest threats to American workers

By 

A century ago, roughly one-third of U.S. workers toiled in agriculture. Now just 1.5% do. Yet agricultural output has skyrocketed, and the United States, after feeding itself, has plenty of food left over to export.

That explosion in agricultural productivity is considered a crowning achievement of 20th-century capitalism. Yet a similar trend that may now be underway in manufacturing and even the service economy isn’t viewed with the same reverential awe. Instead, the rise of robots and computers in place of workers looms as one of the great challenges in capitalism’s next century.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/the-biggest-threat-to-american-workers-162716201.html#more-id

US company signs billion-dollar energy deal with Iran

US company World Eco Energy has signed a preliminary agreement to invest $1.175 billion to generate electricity in Iran. The plan is to turn solid waste into power.

Representatives from the American company and the Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province Governor General, Malek-Mohammad Qorbanpour, signed the deal, the Tehran Times reported.

It is expected the project will create 650 immediate jobs, with another 2,000 emerging over the next two to three years, Oorbanpour told the IRNA news agency. Local companies will also be investing the same amount of money into the project.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/170768-iran-energy-deal-usa/

‘US hegemony in world has ended’ – Russia’s deputy security chief

The deputy head of Russia’s supreme security body says US international dominance is being replaced by multiple centers of power. He urged a global agreement on the results of the Cold War, warning that the world could otherwise become engulfed in chaos.

The United States has an impression that the breakup of the Soviet Union was the only result of the Cold War. This is arguable, and this is possible. But no one has attempted to analyze the results or make any conclusions from the situation. The unipolar world headed by Americans simply appeared,” Evgeny Lukyanov told the RIA Novosti.

However, this status quo was not built to last. New power centers have appeared on the international arena, including the BRICS nations, and Russia itself has managed to regain its stance. Nations openly declare their interests and demand respect to their basic rights. This is how the US hegemony on the international arena has ended and of course Washington officials cannot agree with this,” the Russian official stated. Lukyanov emphasized in the interview that the USSR was no more.

Read more » http://rt.com/politics/169860-us-hegemony-brics-russia/

US says China ‘destabilising’ force

Chuck Hagel: Beijing ‘destabilising’ South China Sea

Chuck Hagel: “China has undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea “Hagel: 

The US defence secretary has accused China of “destabilising” the South China Sea, saying its action threatened the region’s long-term progress. Chuck Hagel said the US would “not look the other way” when nations ignored international rules. Mr Hagel was speaking at a three-day summit – the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore – that involves the US and South-East Asian countries.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27646223

China confronts U.S. envoy over cyber-spying accusations

Reuters – By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) – China summoned the U.S. ambassador after the United States accused five Chinese military officers of hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets, warning Washington it could take further action, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Read more » Yahoo News
http://news.yahoo.com/china-warns-u-retaliation-accusations-cyberspying-032213302–sector.html

Book Review: ‘The Wrong Enemy’ by Carlotta Gall

Pakistan’s intelligence agency hid and protected Osama bin Laden. The chief of the army even knew of the cover up. Some ally.

By Sadanand Dhume

In the 13 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, $1 trillion has been spent, and 3,400 foreign soldiers (more than 2,300 of them American) have died. Despite our tremendous loss of blood and treasure, Afghanistan remains—even as we prepare to exit the country—”a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists,” as Carlotta Gall notes in “The Wrong Enemy.”

Could we have avoided this outcome? Perhaps so, Ms. Gall argues, if Washington had set its sights slightly southward.

The neighbor that concerns Ms. Gall—the “right” enemy implied by the book’s title—is Pakistan. If you were to boil down her argument into a single sentence, it would be this one: “Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons.” Though formally designated as a major non-NATO U.S. ally, and despite receiving more than $23 billion in American assistance since 9/11, Pakistan only pretended to cut links with the Taliban that it had nurtured in the 1990s. In reality, Pakistan’s ubiquitous spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments jihad against NATO in Afghanistan much as it did against the Soviets in the 1980s.

At this point, accusations of Pakistani perfidy won’t raise the eyebrows of anyone with even a passing familiarity with the region. For years, a chorus of diplomats, analysts and journalists have concluded that the Taliban and its partners in jihad would be incapable of maintaining an insurgency without active support from across the border. In 2011, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—the group responsible for some of the worst violence in Afghanistan, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that year—”a veritable arm” of the ISI.

Continue reading

Obama: ‘There will be costs for military intervention in Ukraine’

International community scrambles to  Russian moves in Crimea

President Barack Obama said the United States stands with the international community in affirming that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine” and defended the country’s citizens’ right to “determine their own future,” at a press conference Friday.

A senior U.S. official said Obama and European leaders would consider skipping the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, if the country intervenes militarily in Ukraine. He also said a possible response could include avoiding deeper trade and commerce ties Moscow is seeking. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called for sanctions against “Russian individuals and entities who use force or interfere in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.”

Read more » Aljazeera
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/28/obama-there-willbecostsformilitaryinterventioninukraine.html

Pentagon plans to downsize US military

Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel plans to downsize US military

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two.

Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.

The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.

‘Difficult decisions ahead’

On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. “This is a time for reality,” he said

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-26326969

Obama meets Dalai Lama, defies China

by AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama welcomed Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the White House Friday, defying China, which said the meeting would “seriously impair” ties between the two countries.

The encounter took place in the Map Room on the ground floor of the president’s residence and not the Oval Office, which Obama usually uses to meet foreign leaders and visiting dignitaries.

“The president is currently meeting w/His Holiness the @DalaiLama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious & cultural leader,” the US National Security Council said on Twitter.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1088564/obama-meets-dalai-lama-defies-china

Times Square bomb plot: Pakistani Army major arrested

A Pakistani Army major, who was until recently a serving officer, has been arrested in connection with the failed Times Square bomb plot.

By Rob Crilly, in Islamabad

Pakistani and US sources say there is evidence that mobile phone calls were exchanged between Major Adnan Ejaz and the suspected would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested on May 3 as he attempted to fly out of New York.

A Pakistani law enforcement sources said that the major had mobile phone contact with Shahzad on the day of the attempted bombing, including one conversation at the same time the bomber was allegedly parking his car loaded with propane tanks and explosives.

He had also met the naturalised American in Islamabad, he claimed.

Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, has told interrogators he received training from the Pakistan Taliban in its rugged mountain stronghold of Waziristan.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have a long history of working with Jihadi organisations as an instrument of foreign policy.

Read more » The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/7772507/Times-Square-bomb-plot-Pakistani-Army-major-arrested.html

China has tested an ICBM hypersonic warhead.

Will China’s new supersonic warhead bust US missile shield?

China has tested an ICBM hypersonic warhead. It follows from the test results that China may deploy its ICBMs with these kinds of warheads in the foreseeable future, says an expert with the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Vassily Kashin.

The testing of the ICBM hypersonic warhead is the first practical achievement of a large-scale programme to create hypersonic weapons, a programme that China is translating into life. China has been engaged in developing hypersonic cruise vehicles for several years. In July 2012, the Chinese media reported the commissioning in China of a unique high-speed wind tunnel capable of testing model aircraft at speeds of up to Mach 9. Now China has reported the flight test of a hypersonic cruise vehicle. The basic questions that arise in this context are how the new technology will influence the Chinese nuclear strategy and what other hypersonic weapon projects China is carrying out.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_01_15/Will-Chinas-new-supersonic-warhead-bust-US-missile-shield-1589/

Gates says he never thought of Pakistan as an ally

by Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The United States never thought of consulting Pakistan before raiding the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad because it feared that the ISI was protecting him, writes former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1079709/gates-says-he-never-thought-of-pakistan-as-an-ally

Best of Frenemies: Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani has tough words for his home country -and for its supposed ally, the United States

Hussain Haqqani

Hussain Haqqani

By Adnan Siddiqi

Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.

NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?

HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.

Read more » NewsWeek
http://mag.newsweek.com/2014/01/03/best-frenemies.html

India hits back, row with U.S. hots up

By Sandeep Dikshit

Withdraws some privileges in retaliation for arrest of Indian deputy consul

India on Tuesday set in motion an array of retaliatory steps against U.S. diplomats based across the country for the manner of arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, signalling the escalation of an unprecedented bilateral row.

The government asked all U.S. consular officers to turn in their identity cards and the entire American diplomatic corps their airport passes while senior Congress leaders snubbed a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation for the second straight day by refusing to meet it.

The government also ordered the Delhi Police to remove concrete barricades on public land and roads that have existed for years around the U.S. embassy, sought salary details and bank accounts of all Indian staff employed at the missions and stopped all import clearances for the U.S. embassy, especially for liquor.

Read more » The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-hits-back-row-with-us-hots-up/article5469325.ece

Saudis hint at building ties with other powers after US shock

By Angus McDowall

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia seems to have few viable options for pursuing a more independent and forthright foreign policy, despite its deep unease about the West’s tentative rapprochement with Iran.

Upset with the United States, senior Saudis have hinted at a range of possibilities, from building strategic relations with other world powers to pushing a tougher line against Iranian allies in the Arab world and, if world powers fail to foil Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, even seeking its own atomic bomb.

But alternative powers are hard even to contemplate for a nation that has been a staunch US ally for decades. Russia is on the opposite side to Riyadh over the Syrian war and China’s military clout remains modest compared with the United States.

Robert Jordan, US ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03, said there would be limits to any Saudi alliances with other powers.

“There is no country in the world more capable of providing the protection of their oil fields, and their economy, than the US, and the Saudis are aware of that. We’re not going to see them jump out of that orbit,” he said in an interview.

Continue reading

Mixed Legacy for Departing Pakistani Army Chief

By

LONDON — When he leaves his post on Friday, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the inscrutable Pakistani Army chief and former spymaster, will end a nearly decade-long chapter as the focus of American fears and frustrations in Pakistan, the reluctant partner in a contentious and often ill-tempered strategic dance.

Suspicious American officials frequently accused him, and the 600,000-member army he led, of double-dealing and bad faith: supporting the Afghan Taliban, allying with militant groups who bombed embassies and bases, and sheltering Osama bin Laden.

Those accusations were made in private, usually, but exploded into the open in late 2011 when Adm. Mike Mullen, the American military chief who sought to befriend General Kayani over golf and dinners, issued an angry tirade to Congress about Pakistani duplicity.

The taciturn General Kayani weathered those accusations with a sang-froid that left both allies and enemies guessing about what, or whom, he knew. But few doubted that he nursed grievances, too — about C.I.A. covert operations, the humiliating raid that killed Bin Laden, and perceived American arrogance and inconstancy.

General Kayani, 61, steps down with those arguments still lingering. And reckoning with his legacy exposes a cold truth at the heart of the turbulent American-Pakistani relationship: that after years of diplomatic effort, and billions of dollars in aid, the countries’ aims and methods remain fundamentally opposed — particularly when it comes to the endgame next door in Afghanistan.

“We have almost no strategic convergences with Pakistan, at any level,” admitted a senior American defense official. “You’ll never change that, and it’s naïve to think we can do it with an appeal to the war on terror.”

Continue reading

Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists; “The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine”

Seattle City Councilmember-elect shares radical idea with Boeing workers

By Gary Horcher

SEATTLE — Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists her idea of a radical option, should their jobs be moved out of state

“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night.

This week, Sawant became Seattle’s first elected Socialist council member. She ran on a platform of anti-capitalism, workers’ rights, and a $15 per-hour minimum wage for Seattle workers.

On Monday night, she spoke to supporters of Boeing Machinists, six days after they rejected a contract guaranteeing jobs in Everett building the new 777X airliner for eight years, in exchange for new workers giving up their guaranteed company pensions.

Now Boeing is threatening to take those jobs to other states. “That will be nothing short of economic terrorism because it’s going to devastate the state’s economy,” she said.

Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that “democratic ownership.”

“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” she said.

Sawant says after workers “take-over” the Everett Boeing plant; they could build things everyone can use.

“We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines,” she told KIRO 7.

Sawant says she was referring to “drones” when speaking of war machines. Still, she says even as they work on the lines, building airplanes daily, she believes Boeing workers are under siege.

“Workers have to realize, they have more power than they think,” she said.

Courtesy: Kirotv.com
http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/seattle-city-councilmember-elect-shares-radical-id/nbxbC/