Monday, July 06, 2009
DTN News: Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela Are My Heroes, Says US President Barack Obama
DTN News: Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela Are My Heroes, Says US President Barack Obama *Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 6, 2009: Seen as an icon by millions of people across the world, US President Barack Obama sees Mahatma Gandhi as his role model, apart from Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. The charismatic Obama, who won the presidency last year becoming the first Afro-American to achieve the honour, revealed his list of heroes during an interview with Itar-Tass/Rossiya TV - the first to a Russian media outlet after becoming US President. "Internationally -- Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi. I always am interested in leaders who are able to bring about transformative change without resort to violence, but rather changing people's minds and people's hearts," Obama said when asked who were his heroes. Obama also reiterated his love for former President Lincoln, who lead the country at the time of the Civil War. "Lincoln is the President who I find most compelling because not only did he deal with probably the biggest crisis in American history, the Civil War, but he also did so in a way that was full of understanding of humanity," he said. "And his willingness to... understand other people, from slaves to slave owners, and try to hold people together even when we were in the midst of war I think is extraordinary," Obama said. In an interview to the Outlook magazine last year Obama had said that he is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.
DTN News: President Barack Obama, President Dmitry Medvedev Reach Preliminary Deal On Nuclear Arms Reduction
DTN News: President Barack Obama, President Dmitry Medvedev Reach Preliminary Deal On Nuclear Arms Reduction
*In a sign the Cold War is definitely over, the U.S. and Russian presidents signed a joint understanding on reducing their countries' nuclear stockpiles to a maximum 1,675 weapons and 1,100 delivery vehicles.
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 6, 2009: President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a "road map" for a future treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on Monday, a prologue to a new plan to reduce the nuclear stockpile to its lowest level ever, and one of eight agreements reached in one Moscow afternoon. US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 6, 2009. Obama arrived in Russia for a summit aimed at agreeing a roadmap to nuclear arms cuts and reviving a relationship troubled by a string of crises. The joint understanding on START commits the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1,500-1,675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500-1,100. It is an update to the START deal ratified in 2001 that is set to expire in December. The previous deal allowed up to 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles. It also sets out plans to establish a Joint Data Exchange Center, which will notify each country of planned missile launches. It also calls on other countries with "missile potential to refrain from steps that could lead to missile proliferation and undermine regional and global stability." And it urges interested countries to cooperate in assessing the danger of global proliferation of ballistic missiles. "We resolve to reset U.S.-Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest," Obama said at a press conference with Medvedev in the Kremlin. The joint statement is the result of more than three months of negotiations between Russian and U.S. officials that began in London on April 1. It says it is a commitment to finding "optimum ways of strengthening strategic relations on the basis of mutual respect and interests." The announcement was the first objective on an ambitious agenda developed for their first summit between the two countries. The two presidents also reached agreement on allowing flights through Russian airspace for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and reaffirming their commitment to fighting terrorists and drug traffickers in Afghanistan. The White House said the U.S. and Russian leaders also vowed to press forward jointly with bettering the Afghan economy, social structures and living standards. Defeating Taliban and Al Qaeda allied militants in Afghanistan is one of Obama's top foreign policy objectives. The Russians are also concerned about stopping the flow of opium and heroin that is plaguing the Russian federation and ending Islamic-rooted extremism in the former Soviet republics that border Afghanistan. "This is a substantial contribution from Russia to our international effort ... and will save time and resources" for U.S. forces battling terrorists in Afghanistan, Obama said. Obama and Medvedev started off their first summit on a positive note, all smiles at a press event before the two delegations proceeded into closed door meetings. "The United States and Russia have more in common than they have differences," Obama said he sat down in an ornate Kremlin room with Medvedev. "If we work hard in these next few days ... we can make extraordinary progress that will benefit the people of both countries." For his part, Medvedev seemed optimistic about the meetings, saying the two nations were "closing some of the pages of the past and opening some of the pages of the future." "Even the weather favors us," he then joked about the drizzly gray skies blanketing Moscow. "It may be chilly outside but it's warm inside." The first U.S.-Russia summit since the early part of the George W. Bush presidency presents a challenge for Obama -- with Russia's wary public, a two-headed leadership and lingering hard feelings. Much of the world will watch signs of Obama's relationship with Russia's two leaders, Medvedev and his mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The foundation set now could affect how much cooperation Obama gets in areas in which the U.S. needs help from Russia -- chiefly pressuring Iran and North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions, but also in tackling terrorism, global warming and the economy. Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their two children arrived in Moscow on Monday afternoon, just as Russian news reports were coming out about the deal between the two nations. While the framework is a start, neither side is expecting a final agreement to be reached while Obama is on the ground in Moscow. U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and his wife Michelle Obama, second left, take part at a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Monday, July 6, 2009. President Barack Obama touched down in Moscow on Monday for a full-scale summit and diplomatic meetings. Other side agreements meant to sweeten the talks included a new joint commission to try to account for missing service members of both countries dating back to World War II. Four working groups will look into missing military personnel from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and Soviet military personnel still missing from Moscow's 10-year occupation of Afghanistan. The White House also said the two countries have agreed to cooperate in the fields of public health and medical research, an arrangement intended to range across public health issues from infectious diseases to promotion of healthy lifestyles to improving global health. Yet, the two sides remain in a stalemate over the U.S. pursuit of a missile-defense system in Europe. Obama's administration is reviewing the efficacy of plan, which Bush had pushed hard. The presidents vowed to keep working on the topic. The basic problem is unchanged: The U.S. contends the program is designed to protect U.S. allies in Europe from a potential nuclear attack by Iran, but the Russians see it as a first step toward a system that could weaken their offensive nuclear strike potential. "We're going to have to work our way through that," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told "FOX News Sunday." After Air Force One jetliner touched down and a formal reception line on the airport tarmac, the entourage of Russian and U.S. officials headed directly to a wreath-laying ceremony at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the sun breaking over the city's center as they drove in. The president walked slowly behind three high-stepping Russian soldiers, then straightened the wreath's ribbon where they placed it in front of the eternal flame and stood alone briefly. The summit starts a weeklong trip for Obama that also features G-8 meetings and a visit with the pope in Italy, and a speech in Ghana. Russia and U.S. ties have plenty of room for improvement. Obama, who has enjoyed adoring crowds in travels across Europe so far, will face a skeptical Russian population, polling out Sunday shows. Only 23 percent of Russians have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in international affairs, according to the University of Maryland's WorldPublicOpinion.org. Just 15 percent of the Russians polled said the U.S. is playing a positive role in the world; most said the United States abuses it power and makes Russia do what the U.S. wants. "I would like there to be real change, not just talk," said Valentina Titova, a 60-year-old retired economist strolling not far from the Kremlin. "I would like to see America meddle less in other countries. They think they're so superior to others, they put themselves on a pedestal." Aiming to change attitudes, Obama will outline his vision for U.S.-Russian relations at a speech at the New Economic School. It is unclear how many people will see it. Russian leaders control the television outlets. As Obama told a Russian-language news channel in the days before the summit: "America respects Russia. We want to build relations where we deal as equals." Yet he also caused a stir in Russia by telling The Associated Press last week that Putin has to learn that "the old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated." That only elevated the stakes of Obama's first meeting with Putin, which is set for Tuesday. Russia and the United States have been allies and adversaries. Obama inherited more of the latter, with relations having tanked in 2008 over Russia's war with neighboring Georgia. Obama got off to a solid start with Medvedev, however, during an April meeting in London.
DTN News: IAI Advances Strategic Cooperative Efforts With Kazakhstan
*The President of Israel and the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan discussed strengthening of commercial ties between the two countries
*Source: DTN News / Israel Aerospace Industries; issued June 30, 2009 (For info or link click here) (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - July 6, 2009: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and DETA Air, a leading cargo operator in central Asia, signed today a General Terms Agreement (G.T.A.) to engage in long-term strategic cooperative efforts.DC 10 undergoing conversion process at the Bedek Aviation facilities in Israel. In the first phase of the agreement, IAI’s Bedek Aviation Group will perform heavy checks on two of DETA Air's DC-10-40SF aircraft, part of the company's fleet which also includes Russian cargo planes. The business potential for Bedek is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Mr. Shimon Peres, President of Israel, and Mr. Karim Masimov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, during Mr. Peres' visit to Kazakhstan this week. The agreement was signed by IAI's Vice President for Strategy and Planning, Baruch Mevorach, who is traveling with the President's delegation. Mr. Mevorach notes that "this constitutes a breakthrough for IAI in a newly identified important region of the world because of the expected economic growth in central Asia, which will increase its cargo flights. IAI is a well-known, leading supplier of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) for both cargo and passenger aircraft." Yerlan Zhaxybekov, General Director of DETA Air, sees IAI Bedek as an essential strategic partner in the development of the airline's western aircraft fleet during its growth. In the picture: DC 10 undergoing conversion process at the Bedek Aviation facilities in Israel About Israel Aerospace IndustriesIsrael Aerospace Industries, is one of Israel’s leading technological-industrial companies employing around 16,400 people and is a leading developer of aviation and aerospace technology in the military and civilian markets. IAI’s backlog grew from over $1 billion at the beginning of 2009 to a record high of over $8 billion. IAI is a world leader in a wide range of advanced technologies, including development, production, renovation, upgrading, repair and maintenance of aircraft, missiles, launchers, communications satellites, observation satellites and ground services, electronic systems, avionics systems, advanced radar, precision-guided munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles. For more information, please contact: Doron Suslik Deputy Vice President of Communications Tel: 03-935-8509 Fax: 03-935-8512 Email: email@example.com
DTN News: Germany Awards 3.1 Billion Production Contract For Puma Infantry Combat Vehicle
*Source: DTN News / Defense News
(NSI News Source Info) MUNICH, Germany - July 6, 2009: Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) has received the largest single order in its recent history with a commission for series production of the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).The German MoD has awarded a production contract for 405 Puma Infantry Combat Vehicles to a joint venture between KMW and Rheinmetall. (Rheinmetall photo)
PSM GmbH (Project System and Management), a joint venture in which KMW and Rheinmetall AG of Düsseldorf each hold a 50% stake, was awarded a contract by the Federal German Defence Technology and Procurement Agency (BWB) for the delivery of 405 newly developed combat vehicles.
The total contract value is approximately EUR 3.1 billion. The delivery of the IFVs to the German Bundeswehr will start 2010. The Budget as well as the Defence Committee of the German Parliament (Bundestag) have previously given the green light for the start of what is currently the largest European armaments project for land forces.
“The PUMA contract is of key significance both for the Bundeswehr and the industry. It sets unique technical standards and will ensure that decisive system skills are retained in Germany, which are vital for maintaining our international competitiveness,” said Frank Haun, CEO of KMW, on signing the contract.
Puma sets new standards – best possible protection for crew
The Puma is the most important modernisation project in the Bundeswehr's armaments procurement programme. It offers its occupants until now unequalled protection against mines, anti-tank weapons and improvised explosive devices commonly encountered in modern conflict areas. Its air portability, its mobility in difficult terrain and its scalability all go to make the Puma a vehicle that will take on important tasks in international conflict management while providing its occupants with the best possible degree of protection.
It is also without equal in terms of endurance and firepower. The [unmanned] turret design developed by KMW sets new standards, as does a decoupled running gear that is completely isolated from the vehicle bodypan, which means that even at high speeds noise and vibrations inside the vehicle can be reduced in comparison with existing IFVs by around 90 percent.
More than 30 years after the Marder IFV entered service with the Bundeswehr, the Puma, with its extended scope of performance, establishes a completely new vehicle category. In international comparison it is taking a leading position among armoured combat vehicles.
In September 2002, the German Parliament gave the go-ahead for the new IFV by issuing the development order. It was decided to procure five pre-production series vehicles with a value of around EUR 350 million at the end of 2004. These pre-series vehicles are now in service with the Bundeswehr for trials and optimisation having successfully completed numerous tests in March 2009.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG leads the European market for armoured wheeled and tracked vehicles. At locations in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and the USA, some 3400 employees manufacture and support a product portfolio ranging from air-transportable, heavily armoured wheeled vehicles (MUNGO, DINGO, GFF4 and BOXER*) through reconnaissance, anti-aircraft and artillery systems (FENNEK, GEPARD, LeFLaSys*, Self-Propelled Howitzer 2000, AGM and DONAR) to heavy battle tanks (LEOPARD 1 and 2), armoured personnel carriers (PUMA) and bridge-laying systems (LEGUAN and PSB2). The armed forces of more than 30 nations worldwide rely on the operational systems by KMW.
DTN News: Russian Forecast President Barack Obama's Trip To Kremlin Moderate Success *Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 6, 2009: A souvenir seller displays matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls, painted with portraits of U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev near Red Square on July 5, 2009 in Moscow, Russia.Russian Matryoshka dolls decorated with images of Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama are seen on display at a market in Moscow. Obama leaves for Moscow Sunday to take part in talks with Russian officials and will arrive for his first visit to Russia as president on July 6.
DTN News: China, Mongolia Seek Further Military Cooperation *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - July 6, 2009: Senior military officials of China and Mongolia pledged Sunday to enhance military cooperation.
Bilateral relations were sound with frequent high-level visits and fast-developing economic and trade cooperation, said Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie in a meeting with visiting State Secretary of the Mongolian Defense Ministry M. Borbaatar. Liang said China attached great importance to bilateral military ties and was ready to advance military friendship and cooperation. From June 28 to July 3, China and Mongolia held "Peacekeeping Mission-2009." The two sides have also held the fourth Defense Security Consultation. Liang said both activities achieved positive results, and hope the two sides could further cooperation, and enhance mutual trust, so as to contribute to regional and global peace and stability. M. Borbaatar said the two armed forces had made achievements in the cooperation. He reiterated Mongolia's adherence to the one-China policy.
He said he hoped that his visit could further enhance the friendly cooperation between the two countries and two armed forces.
DTN News: Sweden Offers India Civilian Nuclear Technology *Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 6, 2009: Sweden, a member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, is offering New Delhi its niche expertise in nuclear waste management and security as it eyes India’s $40 billion civilian nuclear energy market. “Sweden has considerable expertise in nuclear waste management and areas relating to nuclear security. We are exploring opportunities of partnering with India in this area,” Sweden’s Ambassador to India Lars-Olof Lindgren told IANS in an interview here. The envoy said a delegation of Swedish companies operating in the area of nuclear technology and safety management came to India this April on an exploratory trip. They held talks with officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and also met India’s nuclear points man Anil Kakodkar, chief of the Atomic Energy Commission. The delegation comprised Swedish atomic companies such as Sandpit, Swenson, SKB International Consulting AB, Studbook, ES-consult and Rel con Candlepower AB. Another Swedish delegation will be coming to India soon to explore opportunities in the nuclear energy area, the envoy said, adding that nuclear technology solutions is a promising area of future cooperation between the two countries. Swedish companies are also in touch with Indian private companies such as Larsen and Toubro and Bharat Forge which are interested in the production of nuclear power, currently the monopoly of the government in India. The envoy sought to dispel the impression that Sweden, like other Scandinavian countries, was reluctant to support a consensus for India in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group - the global cartel that controls global trade in nuclear equipment and materials. “We consider India as a responsible nuclear power and understand its need for energy and nuclear development. Sweden was never questioning a change in the NSG guidelines,” the envoy underlined. He also outlined possibilities of cooperation in renewable solar and wind energy and clean energy technologies in which Sweden is a pacesetter. Sweden depends on nuclear power for nearly 50 percent of its energy needs. In a radical departure from its established policy, the Swedish government scrapped a three-decade ban on building new nuclear reactors in February this year, saying it needed to avoid producing more greenhouse gases. The Swedish government is now planning to replace old reactors with new reactors, the envoy said. The Indian nuclear power market is estimated to touch $40 billion or Rs.20,000 crore by 2020. Atomic companies from the US, Russia, France and Kazakhstan, the four countries with which India has signed bilateral nuclear pacts, are vying to get a share of the nuclear pie. British companies specializing in nuclear safety and research have also opened contacts with India.
DTN News: Drug Trafficking In Africa
*Source: DTN News
(NSI News Source Info) BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau - July 6, 2009: People gather around a speedboat believed to be used by drug traffickers in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau.Drawn by its vast coastline, limited law enforcement capacity and weak governance, Latin American drug traffickers in recent years have turned West Africa into a major transshipment point for cocaine and other illegal drugs.People gather around a speedboat of a type believed to be used by drug traffickers, as it unloads cargo at a quay in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau. Cocaine trafficking could become the biggest source of income in impoverished Guinea-Bissau, dwarfing all other economic sectors combined, a top U.N official said, adding the influx of drug money could destabilize the coup-prone West African country.
It's estimated that 60% of the cocaine sold in Europe now passes through nations such as Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Ghana and Senegal. That's an alarming trend for both international counternarcotics efforts and the stability of the countries affected.
The United States is coordinating the work of 3 government departments to work with nations in the region and other international partners to confront the problem, which in the near term is expected to get worse before it gets better.
Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson told Congress recently that the U.S. State, Justice and Defense Departments are united in their understanding of the threat drug trafficking poses not only to the nations of West Africa, but to U.S. interests as well.Guinea has had only two presidents since gaining its independence from France in 1958. Lansana CONTE came to power in 1984 when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou TOURE. Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when Gen. CONTE (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998 and again in 2003. Unrest in Sierra Leone and Liberia has spilled over into Guinea on several occasions over the past decade, threatening stability and creating humanitarian emergencies. In 2006, declining economic conditions prompted two massive strikes that sparked urban unrest in many Guinean cities.
The problem is not isolated to West Africa alone. Kenya and Ethiopia have become major transshipment routes for heroin coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The impact this has is seen in crime and corruption in the affected countries and ultimately an increase in drug use by people in the transshipment points.
The U.S. is working with the European Commission and United Nations to help nations in the region, with intelligence gathering, maritime patrol and assistance in the criminal justice sector. Ghana, Togo, and Sierra Leone have already demonstrated willingness to working closely with the U.S. and other countries have expressed interest.
DTN News: President Barack Obama's Trip ~ 3 More Countries, 1 Broad Mission
*Source: DTN News / AP By Ben Feller
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 6, 2009: Determined to change the way the world views the United States, Barack Obama is onto his next foreign mission: rebuilding relations with Russia, proving to global leaders that America is serious about climate change, and outlining his vision for Africa, his father's birthplace. WASHINGTON - JULY 4: U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama debark Marine One after returning from Camp David on July 4, 2009 at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC. President Obama will spend the Independence Day holiday at the White House before departing tomorrow for Russia. And when in Rome? Obama will go to the Vatican to see Pope Benedict XVI for their first meeting. Obama's weeklong trip — he leaves Sunday night for Moscow — typifies the pace of his first-year agenda. Capitalizing on his popularity and his party's hold on power in Washington, Obama is moving quickly and broadly on foreign policy. That often means overturning George W. Bush's policies or mending relations that Obama contends went adrift under his Republican predecessor. Familiar foes may shadow Obama and his plans. Iran and North Korea are defiantly pursuing nuclear weapons programs despite international penalties. Iran has taken a hard and deadly line against postelection protesters, while North Korea fired seven ballistic missiles off its eastern coast on America's Independence Day. The North also has raised the prospect of a long-range missile launch, possibly toward Hawaii. The U.S. has positioned more missile defenses around the state. Obama's trip is anchored around a yearly meeting of leaders from the world's industrial powers, set for Italy. The Group of Eight countries — the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia — will try to make progress on climate change. Negotiations for a new international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases get under way in Denmark in December. Before the Italy meeting, Obama holds a nuclear-arms-focused summit in the Russian capital. The final leg of the trip brings the first black U.S. president to Africa, home to Obama's late Kenyan-born father. Obama set a tone for the Moscow meeting by saying in an Associated Press interview Thursday that he was off to a good start with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. But, Obama added, Vladimir Putin — Medvedev's predecessor and the current prime minister — "still has a lot of sway in Russia." Obama has separate meetings with them. "I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new," Obama said in the interview. Putin responded Friday by poking fun at Obama's imagery and saying the new U.S. president is wrong about him. A Putin spokesman said Obama would change his mind after meeting Putin. "Putin knows that, given Medvedev's position, he's the guy who deals with foreign leaders," said Stephen Sestanovich, a Russian expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. "But Putin wants to find ways of reminding everybody who's really in charge. And I don't doubt that he will find ways of doing that." The rhetoric leading up to the summit reflects the complex relationship between the countries. Putting down a friendly marker of his own before Obama shows up, Medvedev noted that conditions had worsened in recent years but now there is "only one road to follow — the road of agreement." Obama expects to emerge from Moscow with a framework for how the U.S. and Russia will go about reducing their stockpile of nuclear warheads. He and Medvedev stated their intentions toward that goal in April during a London meeting that had both leaders talking of a fresh start. Any tangible progress now will be held up as proof of better U.S.-Russia ties, and a step toward broader cooperation on ridding the world of nuclear arms. Yet there is harder work ahead to determine how many weapons both sides will give up and how those steps will be verified. Both sides hope to have a final deal in place before a current treaty expires in December. And still unclear is whether Russia will insist on linking its weapons reduction to an issue it says is related — U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Europe. Obama plans to give a major address on U.S.-Russia relations and meet with a range of civic leaders, hoping to turn around Russian attitudes of the U.S. "I think that there have been times over the last several years where U.S.-Russian relations were not as strong as they should be," Obama told state-owned Russia TV. "What I have said coming in is I want to press the restart button on relations between the United states and Russia." In Italy, the G-8 site was moved from a deluxe seaside resort in Sardinia to a military school in L'Aquila, where an earthquake in April killed 300 and displaced tens of thousands. Italy shifted the summit there to draw attention to the plight of the victims. Obama is expected to get a personal look at some of the damage. A powerful aftershock hit the town Friday, just days ahead of the leaders' arrival. The international summit will center on the recession but is expected to produce more of a recovery progress report than new policy. Iran, climate change, food security in Africa, Middle East peace and trade also are on the agenda. Obama will meet the pope on Friday. The president said he has a policy agenda in mind, including such matters as global poverty, but made clear that "having a meeting with the Holy Father is a great honor, and something that I'm very much looking forward to." The president caps the trip in Ghana, a West African country that has emerged as a standout example of democracy in a region beset by coups. He will speak to parliament, emphasizing the promise of democratic governance, and tour a castle that once served as a hub of slave trading. As he embarks on this fifth foreign trip of his presidency, Obama's approval rating hovers around a strong 60 percent. Awaiting him upon his return will be the start of Senate hearings on his Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, and intensifying legislative debate over his push to overhaul health care.
DTN News: Israeli Submarine Crosses Suez Canal With Eye On Iran
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - July 6, 2009: An Israeli submarine crossed through the Suez Canal last month as a part of a military training exercise, defense officials said on Saturday.Based at Haifa, the Israeli Navy (IN) currently operates three modern, diesel-electric, Dolphin-class submarines. The IN is reportedly interested in acquiring at least two more units. In December 2003, two of Israel's three decommissioned Gal-class submarines arrived in Kiel for refits and modernization at Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft. They are to be reactivated for the IN.
The move is believed to have been made as a warning to Iran of the Jewish state's capabilities and and to show that Israel and Egypt, are cooperating against a shared threat. The two countries share a peace agreement but have had cool relations for years.
By using the Suez, an Israeli submarine could reach the Persian Gulf off Iran in a matter of days, compared wiith weeks to sail around the southern tip of Africa.
The submarine participated in naval maneuvers in the Red Sea last month, said Israeli defense officials who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. They did not giive further details. Israel owns three dolphin-grade submarines, which can carry nuclear warheads. Israeli defense officials do not discuss the type of missiles that can be fired from the submarines, nor their range.
Israeli officials have a long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying its nuclear arsenal and would not comment on Saturday. It is believed, however, to have the world's sixth-largest stockpile of atomic arms, including hundreds of warheads.
The maneuvers took place before the Iranian presidential election that set off a wave of protest demonstrations. Israeli officials believe that Iran intends to acquire the ability to build nuclear weapons regardless of who leads the country. Iran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment program - an activity that Tehran insists is meant to generate nuclear fuel but which can also be used to produce fissile material for nuclear warheads.
Iran's nuclear program is particularly worrying for Israel because of Tehran's belligerent stance toward the Jewish state. Egypt also has tense relations with Iran which it believes is trying to spread its radical brand of militant Islam through the region.
The Jerusalem Post reported this was the first time Israeli vessels had crossed the Egyptian canal since 2005.
Egypt's relations with Iran worsened after Egyptian officials arrested members of the Lebanese Shiite guerrilla group Hezbollah in Egypt, accusing them of operating in its territory. Hezbollah is bankrolled by Iran, and Egypt accuses it of being a proxy to obtain Mideast regional influence.
Related Info: IDF Navy Submarine Spotted Returning To Israel Via Suez
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - July 6, 2009: An IDF Navy Dolphin-class submarine that participated in maneuvers off the Eilat coast last week returned to Israel via the Suez Canal on Sunday according to witnesses' reports. The submarine was spotted returning through the waterway along with an Israeli missile boat. However, an Israeli defense official told Reuters there would be no permanent deployment in Eilat of the German-made submarines, of which the Navy has three, with two more on order. "If anything, we are scaling down our naval operations in Eilat," the official was quoted as saying on Sunday. (TO READ FOR FULL STORY....CLICK HERE)
DTN News: Israel Denies Saudis Gave IDF Airspace Clearance For Iran Strike
*Source: DTN News / By Haaretz Service (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - July 6, 2009: Saudi Arabia has indicated to Israel that it would not protest use of its airspace by Israeli fighter jets in the event the government resolves to launch a military assault against Iran, according to a report which appeared in the British newspaper The Sunday Times.The Israeli Air Force is considered as the strongest air forces in the Middle East, and one of the best and most sophisticated in the world. Over the past few decades Israel has purchased sophisticated American fighters and installed on them its locally developed and produced avionics and weapons. Perhaps the greatest strength of the IAF is the skill of its pilots. The IAF relies on its Air Intelligence Directorate for intelligence, including analysis of aerial photography. Many of the IAF's electronics and weapons systems are developed and built in Israel by Israel Military Industries, Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit and others. The IAF holds world records respective to the amounts of enemy warplanes shoot-downs, air combat performance, special operations, and air to ground operations from the jet era onward.The process for delivering F-16Is to Israel began in earnest in February, 2004. Israel expects to receive 102 F-16Is in total. The Prime Minister's office issued a statement in response Sunday morning, saying that "the Sunday Times report is fundamentally false and completely baseless." According to The Sunday Times, Mossad chief Meir Dagan held secret meetings with Saudi officials, who gave their tacit approval to Israel's use of the kingdom's airspace. "The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia," The Sunday Times quoted a diplomatic source as saying last week. The report also quoted John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as saying that it would be "entirely logical" for Israeli warplanes to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to bombing nuclear targets in Iran. Though any Israeli attack would be roundly condemned by Mideast leaders at the UN, Bolton said Arab leaders have privately expressed trepidation at the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. "None of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn't trumpet it as a big success," Bolton told The Sunday Times.
DTN News: Cyber Threats Escalating Around The World
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 6, 2009: A nuclear war may not be on the immediate horizon, but a cyber war is and it has the potential to bring major cities around the world to a standstill, say security experts. Dr Paul Monk, former East Asian analyst for Australia’s Defense Intelligence Organization, says computer systems underpin the functioning of our society, affecting everything from banking, traffic networks, hospitals and even electricity grids. These are now the focus of a new security front not only in Australia, but worldwide. “Its pretty clear now there is underway a type of cyber arms race, both to be able to pick up and also to secure data per se, but also, in fact, to be able to target or to defend those countless crucial functions of a contemporary society,” Dr Monk. “I think it is only beginning to dawn on the minds of a few people this is very, very different to nuclear weapons, but the consequences could be very, very damaging indeed.” U.S. security officials announced earlier this year that state-sponsored hackers had broken into computers critical to the functioning of the electricity grid network in the United States, installing control programs that would allow them to dramatically disrupt services. “The severity of what we’re seeing is off the charts ... most of the critical infrastructure in the US has been penetrated to the root by state actors,” said Tom Kellermann, a member of the US Commission on Cyber Security and an advisor to US President Barack Obama. British intelligence chiefs have also noted increasing cyber attacks on British telecommunications and utilities. In an unprecedented move, intelligence officials singled out Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant behind BT, the main British telco, as a threat, saying it had the ability to interfere with critical services like power, food and water supplies, News Limited reported. Dr Monk says it is widely understood that it is Russia and China that are responsible for the majority of the cyber attacks, but officials from the two countries consistently deny it. “It is very difficult to believe it is not a co-ordinated effort by military forces, but perhaps by proxy, just disguising it the best way they can, only accentuates the problem,” he said. When 9/11 happened, it opened up a whole new area of possibilities for attacks, he said, and the stakes are now getting higher. “That general category of vulnerabilities is widening rather than narrowing because of the rapid advances in technology, the amount of money in communications around the globe and the fact so many para-states [challengers to legitimate states] can get access to those things.” Dr Monk believes the increasing attacks on public utilities like electricity grids are exploratory exercises and can be expected to increase in sophistication in the future. “I think all we have seen in terms of tampering with electricity grids is little probes trying to figure out how robust are the defences. So it just raises a whole bunch of interesting questions.” While there has been no explicit evidence of cyber attacks on Australia’s utilities, Attorney-General Robert McLelland has admitted that Australia has been subjected to cyber attacks and has noted that cyber espionage was an increasing area of concern. “The threat to the safety of Australians and our national interest does not simply emanate from just terrorism, but also things such as cyber attack and action that could distort the proper functioning of government and our economy,” he said in a speech at the annual National Security Conference in Sydney earlier this year. Cyber warfare in fact has become such an area of concern that last year, governments from Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Canada and the US came together to test the resilience of critical infrastructure in Cyber Storm II, the largest cyber war exercise ever undertaken. Participants from Australia not only included government organisations like ASIO, Centrelink and the Defense Signals Directorate, but also members of the private sector, including Microsoft, the Commonwealth Bank, Optus, Westpac, Woodside Energy and the Australian Securities Exchange. According to AAP, most of the participants were shocked at the “borderless nature” of cyber attacks and the “speed with which they can escalate”. Mr McLelland said the exercise said as much about as Australia’s strengths in the area as about its weaknesses. “Cyber Storm II was designed to simulate a significant global incident caused by attacks on critical infrastructure systems via the Internet,” Mr McClelland said. “The exercise proved Australia’s response arrangements to cyber-attack are sound, but just as importantly, demonstrated areas where improvements can be made.” Paul Monk says the rate at which cyber technology is developing is opening up possibilities at an incremental rate, including being able to down planes and bring cities to a standstill. The need to build resilience is paramount, he says. “It is the possibility of these things being just around the corner, just currently beyond the reach of technical possibility, but therefore, within foreseeable reach, that has concerned a lot of people because the pace of change is such that what’s not possible now might suddenly be possible very soon.”
DTN News: Air strikes Kill 19 Militants In NW Pakistan ~ Officials
*Source: DTN News / AFP By Lehaz Ali
(NSI News Source Info) PESHAWAR, Pakistan - July 6, 2009: Pakistani air strikes killed 19 suspected militants on Sunday, police and security officials said, in an ongoing bombardment aimed at shattering Taliban strongholds across the northwest. Pakistan has vowed to launch an offensive against Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud. Army officials, meanwhile, said a close aide of Maulana Fazlullah -- the Taliban commander in northwest Swat valley -- was killed as a 10-week-long operation against militants in the scenic region rumbled on. Military and government officials claim to have almost cleared Swat valley of insurgents and are now targeting the tribal region bordering Afghanistan, but fresh shelling erupted on Sunday just north of Swat's main town Mingora. "Gunship helicopters shelled militant hideouts at Mangaltan area of Charbagh town. At least ten militants were killed in the shelling," Major Nasir Khan, a military spokesman in Mingora, told AFP by telephone. Khan said the air attacks were called in after fresh reports of militant movement in the area. An intelligence official in Mingora confirmed the strikes and the death toll. Security forces have vowed to follow up the Swat campaign with an offensive against Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud and his network in the lawless tribal belt, where Washington alleges Al-Qaeda fighters are also hiding out. At least six alleged rebels linked to the Taliban were killed on Sunday in the tribal North Waziristan region near the Afghan border. "Six or seven militants were killed and four were injured when jet fighters bombed Taliban hideouts in different parts of Datta Khel," Aziz Khan, a tribal police official, told AFP by telephone. The air strikes hit about 20 kilometres (10 miles) west of Miranshah, the main district town in the semi-autonomous mountain region. Residents said they saw six dead bodies, but added that civilians were also hurt. "We were in our houses when war planes bombed the area," local resident Mahmood Gul told AFP from Miranshah's main hospital, where he had taken his young son for treatment for shrapnel wounds. In the Orakzai region on Sunday, gunship helicopters shelled militant positions in two areas. "At least three militants were killed and many injured in the shelling," a military official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. The bombardment hit close to the site of a military helicopter crash Friday which killed 26 security personnel. The military have blamed a technical fault for the crash, but the Taliban claim to have shot down the MI-17 in retaliation for the start of military operations in Waziristan. Also Sunday, army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP that the military had killed a commander loyal to Fazlullah on the outskirts of Mingora. "Ehsan, alias Abu Jandal, was killed two days earlier in Qambar area. He was a mid-level commander," said Abbas. Security sources in the area confirmed the death and said Jandal was a close aide of the firebrand cleric. Fazlullah has a 600,000-dollar government bounty on his head, and although the interior minister has said he is injured and surrounded, the military have refused to confirm reports of his imminent death or capture. In other unrest, a nine-year-old girl was killed and ten other people wounded when a roadside bomb was remotely detonated in Upper Dir district, which neighbours Swat, said local police chief Mohammad Ijaz Khan.
DTN News: Pirates 'Smuggling Al-Qaeda Fighters' Into Somalia
*Somali Islamists bent on turning their land into an international haven for Al Qaeda are using pirate gangs to offer foreign militants safe passage into the country, The Sunday Telegraph has been told.
*Source: DTN News / The Sunday Telegraph By Colin Freeman Published: 8:00AM BST 05 Jul 2009
(NSI News Source Info) MOGADISHU, Somalia - July 6, 2009: The Taliban-style Shabab group , which has already siezed control of much of the lawless nation, has enlisted the pirates' services to smuggle in al-Qaeda fighters from across the Middle East, according to Somali government ministers.
The leader of Somali pirates holding a huge Saudi oil tanker denies that the hijackers have lowered their ransom demand, insisting they still want $25 million (£9 million) for the ship's release.
They claim that up to 1,000 have arrived in recent months, swelling the ranks of the Shabab in its bid to topple the fragile US-backed administration in Mogadishu. The warning was issued by Somali's first deputy prime minister, Professor Abdulrahman Adan Ibrahim, during a visit to London last week. He is lobbying for Britain and other Western countries to give more financial help to stamp out the piracy problem along the country's vast 2,000 mile coastline. "The Shabab are requesting the pirates to bring people in for them," Prof Ibrahim told The Sunday Telegraph. "Somalia's borders with neighbouring countries are now tightly policed, so the only corridor for them is via the sea. The pirates smuggle them, and if anybody stops them, they just say they are passing fishermen." Prof Ibrahim's visit came as Mogadishu witnessed some of its fiercest fighting in recent months, with around 20 people killed in clashes between government forces and the Shabab, which already controls parts of the capital. Residents spoke of corpses lying in the streets, including those of young children killed in the crossfire. Some were buried without being identified. "The streets were horrific," said Ali Muse, an ambulance service official. "We've transported 20 dead bodies and 55 injured in the latest fighting." Until now, no clear evidence has emerged of co-operation between the Shabab and the pirates, despite widespread fears that some of the pirates' multi-million dollar ransom payments might be channeled to them. Last November, the guerilla movement declared buccaneering to be "un-Islamic", and threatened to attack a pirate gang that hijacked the Sirius Star, the $100 million Saudi oil tanker that was the pirates' biggest catch last year. Some believe, though, that this was simply a posture to ensure that pirate gangs paid the Shabab bribes to turn a blind eye, a theory backed by Prof Ibrahim. "We are not saying that the Shabab is actually sending out their own people to do pirate operations," he said. "But we think they share some mutual interests with the pirates. The pirate gangs are bribing the Shabab not to attack them, and the Shabab are getting the pirates to bring in fighters." Prof Ibrahim is now attempting to persuade the British government and others to provide funding to train a new, 1,000 strong version of the defunct Somali navy. The navy's commander-in-chief, Farah Ahmed Omar, has no boats at present, and has not put to sea in 23 years. But the government argues that building up a local force - backed by land units - will be a more effective long-term solution against the pirates than the international naval fleet offshore. The picture painted by Prof Ibrahim of terrorists hitching rides in pirate skiffs across the Gulf of Aden is not universally accepted. Somali politicians have been accused of exaggerating the threat from al-Qaeda in the past, knowing that it wins the attention of Western governments in a way that clan feuding does not. Roger Middleton, the world expert on piracy at London's Chatham House thinktank, said: "There are lots of people engaged in all kinds of gun running, people smuggling and other illicit activies in the Gulf of Aden. It is therefore not clear why the Shabab would specifically need pirate help to smuggle al-Qaeda fighters in." However, many people do view Somalia as a potential new al-Qaeda bolthole. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned recently that President Barack Obama's operations to squeeze the movement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan could see its fighters relocate to the Horn of Africa region. Already there are believed to be at least 500 fighters holed up in remote mountainous regions of Yemen, where they have been blamed for a spate of recent kidnappings and carbombings. Yemen lies just 200 miles across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia and is well within reach of pirate crews, who generally have little trouble evading foreign anti-piracy patrols . "I am very worried about growing safe havens in both Somalia and Yemen, specifically because we have seen al-Qaeda leadership start to flow to Yemen," Adml Mullen told the US Brookings Institution in mid-May. Last month, Mr Obama authorised nearly $10 million worth of arms and military training to help the Somali government quash the Shabab. Critics fear the US-donated weapons may end up falling into insurgent hands. While most US estimates put the number of foreign fighters in Somalia at around 400, Prof Ibrahim said Somali government estimates put the figure at around 1,000. "We have seen people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and some other African countries like Kenya and the Comoros Islands," he said. The Shabab was initially allied with the Islamic Courts Union, a relatively moderate Islamic movement which won some popularity in Mogadishu three years ago when it briefly imposed a degree of law and order on a city that plagued for years by warlords. It was seen as more effective than the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government, whose members had not even been able to sit in the capital because of security fears. But when Ethiopian troops ousted the Islamic Courts Union in early 2007 and re-installed the TFG, the Shabab began a fierce insurgency, which has since returned the capital and much of the rest of the country to a warzone. In Shabab-controlled regions, brutal intepretations of Sharia law are in place. In the southern town of Kismayo last autumn, a 13-year-old girl was stoned to death on trumped-up charges of adultery. And in Mogadishu last week, four men convicted of stealing mobile phones and guns were punished by having a hand and foot cut off each. A traditional curved sword was used to carry out the sentence in front of hundreds of onlookers.
DTN News: Boeing Orders Plunge As Dreamliner Purchases Dropped *Source: DTN News / Bloomberg By Susanna Ray July 2
(NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE - July 6, 2009: Boeing Co., which indefinitely delayed its new 787 Dreamliner in June to reinforce the wing section, lost orders for 73 of the jets this year after Qantas Airways Ltd. dropped 15 planned purchases last week. Boeing featured its first 787 in a rollout ceremony on July 8, 2007, at its Everett assembly factory, by which time it had become the fastest-selling wide-body airliner in history with nearly 600 orders. A total of 850 Boeing 787s have been ordered by 56 customers as of June 2009. Originally scheduled to enter service in May 2008, production has been delayed multiple times and as of May 2009 was planned to enter into service in 2010. The aircraft's maiden flight, originally planned for September 2007, has been delayed a number of times. As of July 4, 2009, there is no confirmed schedule for its first flight. The company has also won purchase agreements for 13 Dreamliners, bringing the total order book to 850 planes valued at $151.1 billion at the average list price, according to today’s Web site update. Boeing said 17 orders for commercial aircraft were dropped in the past week, and it gained nine new ones. The world’s second-biggest commercial-plane maker also said today it delivered 125 aircraft in the second quarter, one fewer than in the same period a year earlier, as orders dried up because of the slowing economy. Boeing plans to ship 480 to 485 aircraft this year, about the same as its larger commercial rival, Airbus SAS. The planemakers get paid upon delivery. The shipments from April to June included 99 of the 737 single-aisle jet, the world’s most widely flown plane, and 21 of the 777 wide-body, Chicago-based Boeing said in a statement. Airlines canceled and deferred orders this year as the global recession reduced demand and profits. Boeing won 57 orders for all its commercial models in the second quarter, down from 187 in the same period last year. The second quarter included the Paris Air Show, which traditionally hosts order signings worth billions. During this year’s show, Boeing sold just three 737s. There were 85 orders and 84 cancellations through June, leaving Boeing with a mid-year net order book of just one plane. Toulouse, France-based Airbus hasn’t yet released its figures. Unfilled Orders Boeing still has unfilled orders for 3,469 aircraft, or about seven years of work, after airlines placed record orders in the three years through 2007. Boeing fell $1.39, or 3.3 percent, to $40.84 at 4:12 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have dropped 60 percent since the first of five delays to the Dreamliner was unveiled in October 2007. The most recent delay was announced June 23, when Boeing said ground stress tests caused some composite layers to separate where the wings attach to the body. The 787’s maiden flight was to have taken place by June 30, with the first delivery in the first quarter of 2010. To contact the reporter on this story: Susanna Ray in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DTN News: IAI Advances Strategic Cooperative Efforts With Kazakhstan
The President of Israel and the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan discussed strengthening of commercial ties between the two countries
*Source: DTN News / Israel Aerospace Industries; issued June 30, 2009 (Click here) (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - July 6, 2009: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and DETA Air, a leading cargo operator in central Asia, signed today a General Terms Agreement (G.T.A.) to engage in long-term strategic cooperative efforts.DC 10 undergoing conversion process at the Bedek Aviation facilities in Israel. In the first phase of the agreement, IAI’s Bedek Aviation Group will perform heavy checks on two of DETA Air's DC-10-40SF aircraft, part of the company's fleet which also includes Russian cargo planes. The business potential for Bedek is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Mr. Shimon Peres, President of Israel, and Mr. Karim Masimov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, during Mr. Peres' visit to Kazakhstan this week. The agreement was signed by IAI's Vice President for Strategy and Planning, Baruch Mevorach, who is traveling with the President's delegation. Mr. Mevorach notes that "this constitutes a breakthrough for IAI in a newly identified important region of the world because of the expected economic growth in central Asia, which will increase its cargo flights. IAI is a well-known, leading supplier of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) for both cargo and passenger aircraft." Yerlan Zhaxybekov, General Director of DETA Air, sees IAI Bedek as an essential strategic partner in the development of the airline's western aircraft fleet during its growth. In the picture: DC 10 undergoing conversion process at the Bedek Aviation facilities in Israel About Israel Aerospace IndustriesIsrael Aerospace Industries, is one of Israel’s leading technological-industrial companies employing around 16,400 people and is a leading developer of aviation and aerospace technology in the military and civilian markets. IAI’s backlog grew from over $1 billion at the beginning of 2009 to a record high of over $8 billion. IAI is a world leader in a wide range of advanced technologies, including development, production, renovation, upgrading, repair and maintenance of aircraft, missiles, launchers, communications satellites, observation satellites and ground services, electronic systems, avionics systems, advanced radar, precision-guided munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles. For more information, please contact:
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