DTN News: Pakistan TODAY October 14, 2009 ~ Pakistan Bombs Militant Hide-Outs, Thousands Flee /90,000 Flee Tribal Pakistan Fearing Anti-Taliban Push*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - October 14, 2009: Pakistani jets pounded suspected militant hide-outs along the Afghan border Wednesday as officials said hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled South Waziristan in anticipation of an expected military offensive. Pakistanis gathered by portraits of soldiers killed in a militant siege on the army's Rawalpindi headquarters scatter petals to pay tribute in Lahore on October 14, 2009. The feared Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group has vowed to avenge their leader Baitullah Mehsud's death in a US missile strike in the lawless northwest tribal region of South Waziristan on August 5. The Islamist extremist group has already claimed a weekend raid on Pakistan's army headquarters, when gunmen took 42 hostages in a brazen siege ending with nine militants, 11 soldiers and three hostages killed.
Government officials have threatened an operation in the lawless border area for months, but they said a string of recent suicide bombings blamed on the Taliban has strengthened their resolve to engage in what will likely be a long and bloody confrontation.
About 200,000 people have fled South Waziristan since August, moving in with relatives or renting homes in the Tank and Dera Ismail Khan areas in an exodus that has continued in recent days, a local government official said. About half registered with the government as displaced people, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
While there are no recent census data from South Waziristan, estimates of the population hover around 500,000.
Police officer Naimatullah Khan said in recent days 80 vehicles a day have carried fleeing families past the Chonda checkpoint on the edge of the region, where security officials were screening the departing civilians.
Military jets have been hitting suspected Taliban strongholds in the region for weeks. The airstrikes have grown more frequent in recent days in what appears to be an effort to soften up the militants ahead of a ground assault.
Haji Ayub Mehsud, 55, said the increased bombing over the past three days left him no choice but to flee along backroads with his six children.
"It is difficult for local people to stay there in peace. I had to bring out my family," Mehsud told an AP reporter after passing through Chonda checkpoint.
In a fresh wave of bombing Wednesday night, military jets pounded a cave in the Spinkai area, killing eight people.
Local tribesmen said the victims were all civilians, including three women and three children, who had abandoned their home and fled to the cave to seek shelter from the heavy shelling. The two tribesman spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals if they spoke to the media.
Intelligence officials, however, said the bombs hit a suspected militant hide-out, killing eight insurgents. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Independent confirmation of the attacks was not available. The army has barred reporters from the region.
The strike came after a wave of air attacks late Tuesday and early Wednesday that hit at least five different areas, killing nine insurgents, the intelligence officials said. A Pakistani Sikh places a flower arrangement in front of portraits of soldiers killed in a militant siege on the army's Rawalpindi headquarters to pay tribute in Lahore on October 14, 2009. The feared Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group has vowed to avenge their leader Baitullah Mehsud's death in a US missile strike in the lawless northwest tribal region of South Waziristan on August 5. The Islamist extremist group has already claimed a weekend raid on Pakistan's army headquarters, when gunmen took 42 hostages in a brazen siege ending with nine militants, 11 soldiers and three hostages killed.
Pakistan has been hit by four major terrorist attacks over the last 10 days, including a suicide bombing of a U.N. office in the capital, Islamabad, and a 22-hour siege of the army's headquarters just outside the capital.
The military says 80 percent of the attacks in Pakistan are planned from South Waziristan but that militants from the Punjab province in the heart of the country helped the Taliban with the assault on army headquarters.
The U.S. has encouraged Pakistan to take strong action against insurgents who are using its soil as a base for attacks in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are bogged down in an increasingly difficult war. But a push into rugged South Waziristan could be difficult for the army, which was beaten back on three previous offensives into the Taliban heartland there and forced to sign peace deals.
An army spokesman declined to say when the South Waziristan offensive would begin and gave no indication it was imminent.
The new airstrikes came as Pakistan's foreign minister visited Washington to persuade U.S. officials to change the terms of a U.S. aid bill. The legislation promises $1.5 billion a year over the next five years — but on the condition that Pakistan's weak, U.S.-backed civilian government maintain effective control over the military, including its budgets, the chain of command and top promotions.
The objections to the bill have driven a wedge between the military and the government in Islamabad over an aid drive that was supposed to show American support for the country as it battles the insurgents.
Pakistan Related Headline News....for full stories click on the links below~ Q+A: Why is Pakistan aiming at South Waziristan?Reuters
~ Pakistani Jets Bomb Militants, More Troops MoveNew York Times~ Nobel judges admit Barack Obama 'didn't look happy'Telegraph.co.uk
~ Right man at the right timeThe Gazette (Montreal)~ Airstrike Targets Militant Hideouts in PakistanVoice of America
DTN News: Chinese Trade Improves World Economy*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) HONG KONG - October 14, 2009: The official trade figures for China in September have suggested there may be an upturn in economic activity for the rest of the world.
Exports from the world's third largest economy fell to $115.9 billion, which was down 15.2% from September 2008.
The figure has confirmed the smallest fall in nine months. Imports fell 3.5% to $103 billion, which is the smallest decline since imports began to slide in November 2008. Economists have put the improvements down to China's $596 billion stimulus package.
A global recovery is now needed to boost Chinese trade.
China reported surprisingly strong trade figures on Wednesday, providing fresh evidence that the world's third-largest economy is firmly on a recovery track and that global demand is improving too.
Exports in September fell 15.2 percent from a year earlier, beating forecasts of a 21 percent fall, while imports fell just 3.5 percent -- well short of expectations of a 15.3 percent decline, the General Administration of Customs said.
Brian Jackson, an economist at Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong, said the slower pace of decline was good news for China's recovery because growth this year has depended too much on the government's 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package.
Indeed, after adjustments to take account of the number of working days in each month, exports rose 6.3 percent in September from August and imports rose 8.3 percent, Customs said.
"Stronger external demand will provide an alternative source of support for growth and provide scope for Beijing to start tightening policy gradually from early 2010," Jackson said.
With imports showing strength, China's trade surplus fell to $12.9 billion last month from $15.7 billion in August. Markets had expected a figure of $17.0 billion.
Economists expect the year-on-year readings in exports to keep improving. Trade slumped after a shock to confidence from the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008, creating an increasingly favorable statistical base of comparison as 2009 wears on.
Nomura said it expected the year-on-year change in exports to turn positive by December. Barclays Capital said it could be as early as November.
"Overall, export performance will be much better in the months to come. I think it's going to be sustainable and it's going to accelerate. There are some rush orders coming to China for Christmas, so I expect probably a pretty strong rebound in November and December," said Dong Tao, chief China economist for Credit Suisse in Hong Kong.
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DTN News: U.S. Seeks To Pacify Pakistani Fears Over Aid
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, US - October 14, 2009: U.S. lawmakers and the Obama administration sought on Tuesday to allay concerns in Pakistan over conditions tied to billions of dollars in non-military U.S. aid but made clear the legislation would not be changed.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was in Washington last week applauding the $7.5 billion aid plan, was back on Capitol Hill on Tuesday after his country's military protested against the bill, which links some funds to fighting militants and is seen by critics as violating sovereignty.
Qureshi's return underscores mistrust over U.S. intentions in Pakistan and the rift between its fragile civilian government and the military leadership that has ruled the South Asian nation for more than half of its 62-year history.
The United States is the biggest aid donor to nuclear-armed Pakistan and needs its help in hunting al Qaeda leaders and stopping Islamist militants from crossing the border into Afghanistan to fight U.S.-led forces there.
U.S. lawmakers, while sympathetic to delicate Pakistani politics, made clear conditions attached to the aid, which still has to be appropriated by Congress, could not be eased.
But Senator John Kerry, one of the authors of the bill, said an attempt would be made in the next 24 hours to clarify in writing some of the terms that he described as not having been characterized accurately "in some quarters."
"The bill doesn't have to be changed," Kerry said after meeting Qureshi. "If there is a misinterpretation, it simply has to be clarified."
A congressional aide said the Senate and House of Representatives foreign affairs committees would issue a "joint explanatory statement" on Wednesday laying out what was in the legislation. The bill, which Kerry said was designed as a "true sign of friendship" for Pakistan, provides for $1.5 billion in non-military aid over the next five years.
Reiterating that the bill did not impinge on Pakistani sovereignty, Kerry said he was confident "we will not only be able to adequately address the concerns that have been raised in Pakistan but we will provide a clarity that has force of law."
Qureshi said he had conveyed to Kerry the sovereignty worries raised in Pakistan's parliament and said these fears needed to be addressed.
"We are going to work on it collectively to give it the correct interpretation," Qureshi said.
In the House, a spokesman for one of the appropriations subcommittees made clear the aid would be subject to annual review.
"The amount and type of assistance Pakistan receives will continue to be determined on a yearly basis by the performance of the Pakistanis in fighting al Qaeda, strict accountability of funding, and the fiscal realities facing our nation," said Matt Dennis, a spokesman for Representative Nita Lowey, chair of the State and Foreign Operations appropriations subcommittee.
Before going to Capitol Hill, Qureshi met the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, and later met national security advisor James Jones.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama saw the legislation as an important step forward and planned to sign the bill "soon."
Several congressional sources expected the signing to take place on Wednesday but the White House could not confirm this.
"I think the opponents of this bill ... are misinformed or are characterizing this in a different way for their own political purposes," Gibbs told reporters.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin said tensions over the aid package underlined the "trust deficit" between the two countries. She said there needed to be strong diplomatic efforts to resolve this.
Pakistan expert Alex Thier said, just as in the United States, Pakistan's political leaders needed to balance their need for U.S. economic support with popular backing.
"This looks very dangerous, not only to the military, but also expands this narrative that the U.S. is trying to micromanage Pakistani security," said Thier of the U.S. Institute of Peace.
DTN News: Gold Scores Record Peak Above 1,068 Dollars An Ounce
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - October 14, 2009: The price of gold forged a record high above 1,068 dollars an ounce here on Tuesday as the dollar sank against the euro.
On the London Bullion Market, gold struck 1,068.63 dollars an ounce, which was the highest level ever recorded. Gold bars are pictured at a plant of a gold refiner and bar manufacturer in Switzerland. The price of gold forged a record high above 1,068 dollars an ounce here on Tuesday as the dollar sank against the euro.
Gold's latest pinnacle was recorded after the European single currency climbed as high as 1.4876 dollars, a level which was last seen in August 2008.
A struggling greenback makes the precious metal cheaper for investors holding other currencies, thereby boosting demand, analysts said.
The glamorous metal, used in jewellery, dentistry and electronics, has struck a series of all-time highs in recent weeks owing to the weak dollar.
The price of gold later pulled back to 1,057.50 dollars an ounce, which compared with 1,058.75 dollars an ounce late on Monday.
DTN News: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev To Visit Kazakhstan On October 15-16
*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - October 14, 2009: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will arrive in Kazakhstan on Thursday for a two-day working visit, the Kremlin said in a statement Tuesday.
Medvedev will attend an exercise of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the statement said.
The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The joint force began the two-week exercise at Kazakhstan's Matybulak training grounds on October 2, with more than 7,000 personnel from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan taking part.
According to the CSTO Secretariat, the exercise is aimed at practicing the deployment of the force in crisis situations on the territory of member states.
Analysts say the creation of a powerful military contingent in Central Asia reflects Moscow's drive to make the CSTO a pro-Russian military bloc, rivaling NATO forces in Europe.
Russia's security strategy until 2020, recently approved by Medvedev, envisions the CSTO as "a key mechanism to counter regional military challenges and threats."
DTN News: Ukraine Cannot Guarantee Russian Gas Transit To Europe Next Year*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) KIEV, Ukraine - October 14, 2009: Under the existing contracts with Gazprom, Ukraine will be unable to guarantee gas supplies from Russia to Europe during the 2010-11 winter season, the Ukrainian president's point man on energy security said Tuesday.
Bohdan Sokolovskiy said, however, that Ukraine was fully prepared to ensure Russian gas transits during the upcoming winter period.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has repeatedly said that the gas deal agreed by the Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers in January should be renegotiated.
In particular, he is unhappy with the current transit fee, which he says means Ukraine's state-controlled energy company Naftogaz receives at least $2.5 billion a year less than it should.
Sokolovskiy warned that unless the deal was reviewed, "2010 and 2011 will be unpredictable in terms of gas transit."
Ukraine is currently negotiating with Gazprom on a reduction in supplies to 33 billion cubic meters a year.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has said that under the contract, Ukraine must buy at least 52 billion cubic meters of gas per year, but Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Thursday that "Ukraine has the right to order the volume that it needs."
She said the contract provides for 20% fluctuations in the level of consumption, and that "aggressive statements" on mandatory purchase levels should be ignored.
Ukraine Related News....for full stories click on the links below~ Ukraine paid Russia $400 mln for September gas - Naftogaz
~ Ukraine's Naftogaz could get $500 mln gas loan from EBRD
~ Gazprom head optimistic on Ukraine's gas payments
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - October 14, 2009: A senior US government official says al-Qaeda is in severe financial trouble. David Cohen, who monitors terrorist funding at the US Treasury Department, said al-Qaeda's influence was waning because of a lack of funds. The US government says al-Qaeda is struggling financially.
He said the US and its allies had successfully cut off the group's sources of funding by targeting its donors and interfering with its ability to move money.
But the claim has been refuted by the head of a leading US think tank.
Dr Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy said ''it's unlikely that their funding is being reduced''.
She said she did not see any reduction in al-Qaeda's activities in illegal drug trading which she said generated most of the network's funding.
She also said the US government had not done enough to 'choke off' the network's funding sources.
DTN News: Russia, China Work On Gigantic Oil, Gas Cooperation Project*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - October 14, 2009: Russian Prime Minister Putin said on Tuesday that Russia and China are working on a huge oil and gas cooperation project.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Putin said the two countries have signed a 20-year oil supply agreement and laid more than 2,000 kilometers of crude oil pipelines for this. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao toast after a signing ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday Oct. 13, 2009. China and Russia signed a framework agreement Tuesday that could see a steady flow of natural gas to energy-hungry China from its resource-rich neighbor.
China is also laying on its side the corresponding pipeline, he said, adding the two counties are studying the feasibility of building a refinery in China.
Putin said as the world's nuclear power, Russia keeps an open mind towards cooperation in this field.
"Russia and China are very active in the nuclear energy cooperation, "Putin said, citing the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant as a good example.
Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant, located in the Lianyungang city in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, is so far the largest nuclear power cooperative program between China and Russia. BEIJING - OCTOBER 13: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on October 13, 2009 in in Beijing, China. Putin is on a three-day trip to bolster energy and trade agreements with China.
Putin said Russia is willing to supply coal to China and the supply is increasing rapidly, noting China has good equipment and technology on coal processing.
As for natural gas cooperation, Putin said negotiations are underway and would certainly yield satisfactory results.
On the specific ways of gas supply and the pricing, he said those issues should be resolved at the enterprise level.
"The most important thing is that Russia and China have the need and capacity to enhance cooperation and the two economies are complementary to each other," Putin said, adding such cooperation would last for decades.
With regard to the problems and frictions in the bilateral trade, Putin said those small problems would not impact the general strategic cooperation between the two countries.
He took the "gray custom clearance" as an example. It was the name given to the illegal practice of getting items across the border without official customs approval.
The illegal practice would make the government unable to supervise domestic industries and lead to bankruptcies and unemployment, which might cause more troubles to the society against the backdrop of the financial crisis, he said.
Putin called upon the two countries to establish a set of unified rules, which would be obeyed by both sides, so as to achieve a just, sound and civilized mechanism of cooperation.
DTN News: Lockheed Martin Unveils First New F-16 For Pakistan In Ceremony Attended By Air Force Chiefs*Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin
(NSI News Source Info) FORT WORTH, Texas - October 14, 2009: Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] unveiled the first of 18 new F-16s being produced for Pakistan in ceremonies yesterday October 13., at its Fort Worth, Texas, facility. Officials including the Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. and Pakistan Air Forces were on hand to witness the event. Air Chief Marshal Rao Quamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force delivering his remarks after the first F-16D block 52 aircraft was unveiled at Lockheed Martins, Fort Worth facility on October 13, 2009. [Photo by Lockheed Martin]
Air Chief Marshal Rao Quamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), accepted the first F-16 Block 52 aircraft on behalf of his nation. Also present were Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, and other senior officials.
The U.S. government was represented by Rep. Kay Granger, Texas 12th District, and Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
"Peace Drive is the flagship of modernization for Pakistan's Air Force. It is the latest configuration of the best 4th generation multirole fighter available in the world today," said John Larson, vice president of F-16 programs for Lockheed Martin.
The aircraft order is designated as "Peace Drive I," continuing a long tradition of naming F-16 international sales programs with the word Peace. The program raises the total number of F-16s ordered by Pakistan to 54. The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the Block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. Pakistan has been operating Lockheed Martin aircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters.
The Peace Drive I order is for 12 F-16Cs and six F-16Ds, all powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine. The first aircraft – a two-seat F-16D model – will be delivered to the U.S. government (as agent for Pakistan in the Foreign Military Sales process) in December, with the remainder following in 2010.
The F-16 is the choice of 25 nations. More than 4,400 aircraft have been delivered worldwide from assembly lines in five countries. The F-16 program has been characterized by unprecedented international cooperation among governments, air forces and aerospace industries. Major upgrades to all F-16 versions are being incorporated to keep the fleet modern and fully supportable over the aircraft's long service life.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.
DTN News: Boeing Advanced Tactical Laser Strikes Moving Target In Test
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., - October 14, 2009: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Air Force on Sept. 19 damaged a moving ground vehicle from the air using the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) aircraft, completing ATL's first air-to-ground, high-power laser engagement of a mobile target.
During the test, the C-130H aircraft took off from Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque and fired a high-power chemical laser through its beam control system while flying over White Sands Missile Range. The beam control system guided the laser beam's energy to the unoccupied, remotely controlled target, striking the vehicle and putting a hole in a fender. The test demonstrated the ability to aim and fire a high-energy laser beam at a moving target.
"In this test, a directed energy weapon successfully demonstrated direct attack on a moving target," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems' Directed Energy Systems unit. "ATL has now precisely targeted and engaged both stationary and moving targets, demonstrating the transformational versatility of this speed-of-light, ultra-precision engagement capability that will dramatically reduce collateral damage."
The test occurred less than three weeks after an Aug. 30 test in which ATL damaged an unoccupied stationary vehicle, marking the aircraft's first air-to-ground, high-power laser engagement of a tactically representative target.
Boeing developed ATL for the Air Force. ATL demonstrations support the development of laser defense systems that will destroy, damage or disable targets on the battlefield and in urban operations with little to no collateral damage.
The Boeing-led ATL industry team includes L-3 Communications/Brashear, which built the laser turret; HYTEC Inc., which made a variety of the weapon system's structural elements; and J.B. Henderson, which provides mechanical integration support.
Boeing leads the way in developing and integrating laser systems for a variety of customers, including the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy. Besides ATL, these systems include the Airborne Laser, Free Electron Laser, High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator and Tactical Relay Mirror System.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.