DTN News: Automobile News March 30, 2010 ~ Toyota Global Sales Up 13% In FebruarySource: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - March 30, 2010: Crisis-hit Toyota said Monday that global sales rose 13 percent year-on-year in February, but analysts warned that the fall-out from recent mass safety recalls would continue to hang over the firm. A factory worker checks an assembled Prius hybrid vehicle in its final stage of the assembly line at Toyota Motors' Tsutsumi factory in Toyota, Aichi prefecture. Crisis-hit Toyota said that global sales rose 13 percent year-on-year in February, but analysts warned that the fall-out from recent mass safety recalls would continue to hang over the firm.
The Toyota group, which includes brands Daihatsu and Hino trucks, sold 613,845 vehicles worldwide last month, up from 543,435 a year earlier, a spokesman said.
The group's global production in the same period jumped 69.2 percent to 734,631 units, of which 655,180 were for the Toyota brand alone.
Analysts said the figures were unsurprising given the auto industry's troubles a year earlier as the world economic downturn eroded demand.
"The robust figures were largely due to a rebound from its sizeable slump a year earlier. There was no surprise. The figures were within expectations," said Mamoru Kato, auto analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Centre.
"It is too early to be optimistic about the fate of Toyota."
One of Japan's most famed companies, Toyota has been battered by both the global economic downturn and by its massive safety woes over faulty accelerator and brake systems.
In recent months, the world's largest automaker has been forced to recall more than eight million vehicles worldwide mostly due to problems with sudden acceleration, which have been blamed for 58 deaths in the United States.
Domestic sales continue to rise however, surging 32.1 percent year-on-year to 210,767 units, with sales in the Toyota brand alone up 49.9 percent.
The figures were largely boosted by the success of the Prius hybrid model, the best selling car in Japan for the ninth consecutive month, according to statistics released earlier by a professional body.
Vehicle exports from Japan more than doubled to 161,533 units, Toyota said in a statement. However, "the negative impact of its mass recall is being felt in developed countries except Japan," said Kato. "The prospect for Toyota's business activities is still uncertain."
In Tokyo trade, Toyota Motor shares closed 0.53 percent lower at 3,740 yen Monday.
Earlier this month, the automaker said sales in the United States fell 8.7 percent year-on-year in February to 100,027 units.
The company last week faced its first US courtroom challenge as lawyers pressed for angry car owners to be allowed to bring a multi-billion-dollar suit against the Japanese firm.
It also announced a North American "quality task force" as it struggles to repair its reputation.
The task force will answer to Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder.
Other Japanese auto giants also reported on Monday strong year-on-year increases in production and sales in February as demand continued to pick up.
Japan's second biggest automaker Honda said production worldwide increased 49.3 percent to 284,711 units while Mazda production surged 73.7 percent to 100,126.
Nissan saw worldwide sales gain 21.7 percent year-on-year.
DTN News: U.S. Hopes To Give Pakistan Drones Within A Year
Source: DTN News / Reuters By Phil Stewart
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 30, 2010: The Pentagon aims to deliver a fleet of surveillance drones to Pakistan within a year, but weaponised versions of the unmanned aircraft are still off-limits, a U.S. military official said on Monday.
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates announced plans in January to provide Islamabad with what aides said at the time were 12 Shadow drones, aiming to boost its ability to track insurgents.
But a senior U.S. military official, briefing reporters at the Pentagon on the condition of anonymity, said Islamabad was still weighing whether Shadow drones were the model of unmanned aircraft best suited to its needs.
"We looked at Shadows. We looked at Scan Eagles and other tactical UAVs that are out and about and what we want to do is try to find out" which model is best, the official said, referring to drones as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
Shadows are manufactured by AAI Corporation, a unit of Textron Systems, while Scan Eagles are manufactured by Boeing Co.
Islamabad has also pressed for weaponised drones, like the ones the CIA is covertly using in Pakistan to track and kill al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents.
The official, asked about that request, said general U.S. policy was not to export weaponised capabilities of any drone aircraft. Washington has been reluctant to share sensitive technology so far.
The number of surveillance drones that the United States would eventually provide to Pakistan depends on the cost of the model selected, the official said.
"A key factor will be how quickly we can get the capabilities to them," the official said.
Pressed on timing, the official said: "I would like to think that we would get them there within a year."
Pakistan is already using some non-U.S., imported drone technology and has modified a C-130 military transport aircraft to allow some surveillance activities, the official said.
Drones have proven to be a crucial technological advantage for the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq, allowing it to remotely track militants and giving commanders battleground imagery in real time.
Gates told a Senate hearing last week it was in the U.S. interest to try to help close allies get drone technology, despite limitations on exports imposed by an international pact, known as the Missile Technology Control Regime.
The MTCR is a pact among at least 34 countries aimed at curbing the spread of unmanned delivery systems that could be used for weapons of mass destruction.
DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated March 29, 2010
Source: U.S. DoD issued March 29, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 30, 2010: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Contracts issued March 29,2010 are undermentioned;
DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY~Philips Medical Systems, Andover, Mass., is being awarded a maximum $77,172,660 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for patient monitoring systems, subsystems, accessories, consumables, spare/repair parts, and training. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 17 proposals solicited with nine responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year. The date of performance completion is March 29, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM2D1-09-D-8349).
~Hitachi Medical Systems America, Inc., Twinsburg, Ohio, is being awarded a maximum $12,000,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for radiology systems, components, upgrades, accessories, and installation. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The original proposal was Web solicited with 48 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year. The date of performance completion is March 29, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM2D1-09-D-8331).
NAVY~L-3 Services, Inc., Mount Laurel, N.J., is being awarded a $38,997,853 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for integrated systems engineering support services in support of C4ISR and C2. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to an estimated $268,986,110. Work will be performed in Charleston, S.C. (40 percent); Norfolk, Va. (40 percent); San Diego (10 percent); and Washington, D.C. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured with proposals solicited via the Commerce Business Daily’s Federal Business Opportunities Web site and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center E-Commerce Central Web site, with seven offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity (N65236-04-D-6842).
~Raytheon Technical Services Co., LLC, Customized Engineering and Depot Support, Indianapolis, Ind., is being awarded a $32,398,357 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to provide engineering and manufacturing development of a non-pyrotechnic multi-purpose bomb rack for carriage and release of weapons and stores employed on BRU-33, BRU-41, BRU-42, and BRU-55 bomb rack. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Ind., and is expected to be completed in September 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $5,168,598 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, with three proposals received. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-10-C-0048).
~ADS, Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va., is being awarded a $21,320,000 firm-fixed-price delivery order against General Services Administration (GSA) schedule contract (GS-07F-5965P) for the procurement and delivery of back up iron sights (BUIS) P/N: 25650-1. The BUIS is a single flip-up rear sight for use with the M4 carbine and M16 rifle. It is designed to occupy space behind the eyepiece of a day scope and has the capability of flipping up for use in the event of a primary sight failure. Work will be performed in Virginia Beach, Va., and is expected to be completed March 2015. Delivery order funds in the amount of $21,300,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This delivery order was competitively procured with quotes solicited via the GSA e-Buy Web site, with five offers received. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity for delivery order M67854-10-F-1063.
~Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $17,709,161 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for a follow-on contract for the United Kingdom technical services in support of the TRIDENT Strategic Weapons System. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, Calif. (70.69 percent); Cape Canaveral, Fla. (12.54 percent); St. Marys, Ga. (2.58 percent); Bremerton, Wash. (0.81 percent); and other locations inside and outside the United States (13.38 percent). Work is expected to be completed March 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (N00030-10-C-0026).
~ArmorWorks Enterprise, LLC*, Chandler, Ariz. (N62583-10-D-0323);
~Southern California Gold Products, Inc.*, Oxnard, Calif. (N62583-10-D-0346); and
~American Defense Systems, Inc.*, Hicksville, N.Y. (N62583-10-D-0347), are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price multiple award contract for up-armoring solutions of civil engineer support equipment for the Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center. The base year and each of the four option years have a not-to-exceed amount of $10,000,000. The maximum dollar value for all three contracts combined shall not exceed $50,000,000. The work to be performed includes all labor, materials, and services necessary to design, engineer, fabricate, integrate armor systems and sub-systems, and testing requirements. The contractor is responsible for shipping and transportation of all the equipment identified within each individual task order. Work will be performed at various contractor sites within the continental United States. The contract ordering period will be for a base year plus up to four option years, with an expected completion date of April 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site as a small business set-aside under the North American Industry Classification System 336992. There were seven proposals received as a result of this solicitation. These contractors will compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Specialty Center Acquisitions, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity.
~Lockheed Martin Corp., Maritime Systems and Sensors, Manassas, Va., is being awarded a $9,517,017 cost-plus-incentive-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-6207). The modification is for the fiscal 2010 tactical local area network effort to support work to procure production for the Virginia Class submarine combat control three-bay structurally integrated enclosure. This option is to be used for shipsets seven through ten. Work will be performed in Manassas, Va., and is expected to be completed December of 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.
ARMY~WRS Infrastructure & Environment, Inc., Tampa, Fla., was awarded on Mar. 22 a $30,224,400 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of westbank and vicinity, New Orleans, Louisiana hurricane storm damage risk reduction systems Lake Cataouatche, western tie-in WBV 72: east-west levee St. Charles Parish. Work is to be performed in St. Charles Parish, La., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 13, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with four bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-10-C-0062).
~Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, Andover, Mass., was awarded on Mar. 23 a $20,476,695 firm-fixed-price contract to provide technical assistance in support of Foreign Military Sales case. Work is to be performed in Andover, Mass., with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Missile Logistics Division, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-08-C-0301).
~HX5, LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded on March 25 an $18,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for research and development, science & engineering and related logistical and administrative support services for all engineering reach and development center laboratories and other local Corps entities. Work is to be performed in with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2014. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with four bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC Contracting Office, Vicksburg, Miss., is the contracting activity (W912HZ-09-D-0001).
~Raytheon Co., IDS, Huntsville, Ala., was awarded on March 25 a $12,985,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Plug-and-Fight (P&F) A-Kit design definition to develop an integrated set of components/platform end item preliminary engineering change proposals for the development of IAMD P&F A-kits that integrate government furnished equipment IAMD B-Kits. Work is to be performed in Huntsville, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. AMCOM Contracting Center, Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-10-C-0267).
~Walbridge, Detroit, Mich., was awarded on March 23 a $11,485,000 firm-fixed-price construction contract for a training support center at Fort Riley, Kansas. Work is to be performed in Fort Riley, Kan., with an estimated completion date of July 29, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with four bids received. U.S. Corps of Engineers, CECT-NWK-M, Kansas City, Mo., is the contracting activity (W912HN-09-D-0023).
~Evergreen Helicopter, Inc., McMinnville, Ore., was awarded on March 23 a $10,015,620 firm-fixed-price contract for helicopter support and services for U.S. Army Hawaii, islands of Oahu and Hawaii. Work is to be performed in the islands of Oahu (40 percent) and Hawaii (60 percent) with an estimated completion date of March 23. Twenty-five bids were solicited with two bids received. Regional Contracting Office, Hawaii Fort Shafter, Hawaii, is the contracting activity (W912CN-08-D-0013).
~Lockheed Martin Corp., Owego, N.Y., was awarded on March 23 a $9,420,975 firm-fixed-price contract for an award undefinitized contractual action modification for the update and completion of the integrated logistics support effort for the light armored vehicle command and control variant upgrade program. Work is to be performed in Owego, N.Y., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM LCMC, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-C-0383).
~Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc., Columbia, Md., was awarded on March 23 a $7,990,190 time-and-material contract for service contract of Sustainment of the Mobile Parts Hospital (MPH) in Southwest Asia. The MPH is a self-contained, self-sustaining mobile manufacturing system that efficiently fabricates standards and unique parts at or near the point of need to enhance soldier readiness. Work is to be performed in Sterling Heights, Mich. (16.6 percent), and Southwest Asia (83.4 percent), with an estimated completion date of March 22, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Rock Island, CCTA-AR-FB, Rock Island., Ill., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-10-C-0279).
~Caesar Rodney School District, Camden, Del., was awarded on March 25 a $7,803,955 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract modification is to exercise option period one for comprehensive education program, grades K-12, servicing eligible dependent children of Department of Defense personnel residing on Dover Air Force Base. Work is to be performed in Camden, Del., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with one bid received. Department of Defense Education Activity, DDESS, Peachtree City, Ga., is the contracting activity (HEVAS6-09-C-0001).
~Trumbull Corp. and Brayman Construction Corp., JV, Pittsburg, Pa., was awarded on March 24 a $7,317,340 firm-fixed-price contract. The Pittsburg district is modifying the Charleroi River wall contract for producing and delivering concrete that meets the requirements of the Charleroi River wall contract for construction of another feature of the Charleroi locks and dam project. The work will be concurrent with construction of the river wall and extend beyond completion of construction of Charleroi River wall to completion of concrete placement of the upper and lower guard walls. This work includes continued operation and maintenance of the concrete batch plant and concrete conveyor system, and continuing environmental compliance measurements and environment control representative for the batch plant after completion of construction of Charleroi River. Work is to be performed in Charleroi locks and dam, Belle Vernon, Pa., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District, Pittsburg, Pa., is the contracting activity (W911WN-04-C-0003).
~Cares Environment Services, Brooklyn Park, Minn., was awarded on March 23 a $7,296,790 firm-fixed-price contract for Birdland Park levee system improvement project, Des Moines River. Work is to be performed in Polk City, Iowa, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 2, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with eight bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W912EK-10-C-0067).
~Vet Industrial, Inc., Bremerton, Wash., was awarded on March 24 a $7,219,300 firm-fixed-price construction contract. This contract is for the design and construction of approximately 16,900 square feet of additions to the existing fiscal 2008 Medical Dental Clinic. Work is to be performed in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, Seattle, Wash., is the contracting activity (W912DW-10-C-0007).
~Alliant Ammunition and Powder Co., LLC, Radford, Va., was awarded on March 22 a $6,935,880 firm-fixed-price contract for 718,000 propulseur d’appoint a poudre (PAP) 7993 granular propellant. PAP is a single-base granular propellant used in the M231 and M232 modular artillery charge system. Work is to be performed in Radford, Va., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Contracting Center, CCRC-AR, Rock Island., Ill., is the contracting activity (W52P1J-09-G-0002).
DTN News: Russia Makes First Appearance At DIMDEX Naval Show
Source: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - March 30, 2010: Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport will showcase 150 exhibits of Russian naval equipment at a biennial naval show in Qatar on March 29-31.
Founded in 2008, DIMDEX is the only specialized maritime defense exhibition in the Middle East bringing together companies, which represent the latest achievements in the sphere of maritime security.
Russia will spotlight at the show the Club M mobile high-precision coastal cruise missile system equipped with 3M-14E, 3M-54E and 3M54E1 missiles, which are capable of destroying naval and land targets.
Other Russian exhibits include Tiger and Gepard class corvettes, Mirage and Mangust class patrol boats, Murena-E class air cushion landing craft, and Kilo and Amur-1650 class diesel attack submarines.
According to organizers, 130 exhibitors from 30 countries will take part in the DIMDEX 2010 naval show, hosted by Qatar Emiri Naval Forces and held under the patronage of Sheikh
Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Heir Apparent of The State of Qatar.
Over 70 official delegations and up to 20 warships are expected to attend the exhibition.
DTN News: New Russian Anti-Piracy Task Force Arrives In Gulf Of AdenSource: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - March 30, 2010: A Russian Pacific Fleet task force arrived on Monday in the Gulf of Aden to join the anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast, a fleet's spokesman said.
The task force comprises an Udaloy-class missile destroyer, Marshal Shaposhnikov, a salvage tug and a tanker.
"The fourth task force from the Pacific Fleet, which departed from Vladivostok on February 24, has arrived to the Somali coast," the spokesman said.
The Russian vessels will join the international naval force in the area to protect commercial ships from frequent pirate attacks.
According to the official, the Marshal Shaposhnikov destroyer has two naval helicopters and a unit of naval infantry on board.
"The first convoy of commercial vessels to be escorted by the new task force is being formed in the Gulf of Aden," he said.
The Russian Navy has maintained a permanent presence off the Horn of Africa, with warships operating on a rotation basis. Russia joined international anti-piracy efforts off the Somali coast in October 2008.
The task force is the fourth group of warships from the Russian Pacific Fleet engaged in the anti-piracy mission off Somalia, with the previous three task forces led by the Admiral Vinogradov, Admiral Panteleyev and the Admiral Tributs destroyers.
During the tour of duty, the Pacific Fleet groups escorted a total of over 100 commercial vessels from 26 countries along the shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden, and thwarted over 20 pirate attacks.
Related NewsRussian warship to make port call in OmanSomali pirates release Greek cargo ship for ransom The fight against Somali pirates: tactical victories, strategic lossesRussian warship seizes group of pirates off Somalia - Navy
DTN News: Boeing Completes Ultimate-Load Wing Test On 787Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) EVERETT, Wash., - March 29, 2010: Boeing (NYSE: BA) yesterday Mar. 28., completed the ultimate-load wing up-bending test on the 787 Dreamliner static test unit. During the testing, loads were applied to the airframe to replicate 150 percent of the most extreme forces the airplane is ever expected to experience while in service. The wings were flexed upward by approximately 25 feet (7.6 meters) during the test.
The initial results of the ultimate-load test are positive. More extensive analysis and review are required before the test can be deemed a success.
"The test program has been more robust than any conducted on a Boeing commercial jetliner," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It has taken countless hours of hard work by the Boeing team and our partners to work through the static test program. Everyone who has been involved in this effort over the past several years should be very proud of their contributions to ensuring the safety of the 787 Dreamliner.
"We are looking forward to the technical team's report on the details of the test results," said Fancher. It will take them several weeks to work through all of the data.
During each second of the more than two-hour test, thousands of data points were collected to monitor the performance of the wing. Key data points are monitored real-time during the test, but all of the data will be evaluated in the weeks ahead.
787 Dreamliner Background
The 787 Dreamliner is an all-new twinjet designed to meet the needs of airlines around the world in providing nonstop service between mid-size cities with new levels of efficiency. The airplane will bring improved levels of comfort to passengers with larger windows, bigger baggage bins and advances in the cabin environment, including lower cabin altitude, higher humidity and cleaner air. Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010.
DTN News: Factbox ~ Obama's Strategy On Afghanistan
Source: DTN News / Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanista - March 29, 2010: President Barack Obama made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, his first since he took office, for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and to express his thanks to U.S. troops. US President Barack Obama (C) walks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai (2nd L) during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 28, 2010. Obama landed in Afghanistan on a surprise visit, his first since taking office, to meet Karzai and US troops.
The following are some facts about Obama's strategy on Afghanistan.
* Obama campaigned in 2008 on a pledge to return the fight against Islamic extremism to where it began, in Afghanistan, while promising to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq. He has begun to deliver on that promise, ordering the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan as part of an effort to take the battle to the Taliban while training Afghan soldiers to take over their own security.
Obama reached his new strategy after a lengthy review period last autumn. In a pledge that may be hard to meet, he said he would like to begin pulling some U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by July of 2011.
* While Obama's healthcare overhaul is generating great skepticism among Americans, people are largely backing him on Afghanistan. A CNN/Opinion Research poll last week said 55 percent of Americans back Obama's strategy for Afghanistan. But Americans are also weary of the war that was begun after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The poll found that in general, 49 percent oppose the war while 48 percent favor it. Afghanistan is the one issue where his Republican opponents have backed Obama, supporting his moves to increase U.S. troop strength, having believed that Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, took his eye off Afghanistan while waging war in Iraq.
* Obama has also been pressing Karzai to make greater strides toward improving the rule of law and fighting corruption within the Afghan government. Karzai won re-election last year after a vote that observers said was marred by widespread fraud. When Karzai was declared the winner in November, Obama told him it was time to "write a new chapter based on improved governance, a much more serious effort to eradicate corruption, joint efforts to accelerate the training of Afghan security forces so that the Afghan people can provide for their own security."
Compared to Bush, Obama has been far cooler to Karzai but his trip there on Sunday and invitation for Karzai to visit Washington on May 12 signaled the possibility of a closer relationship.
* As part of the new strategy, U.S. and NATO troops are waging their largest offensive in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001, aimed at driving the Taliban from Marjah, their last big stronghold in the violent southern Helmand Province, to make way for Afghan authorities to take it over. The offensive is an important piece of Obama's plan to use his troops surge to seize insurgent-held areas and shift control to local authorities before the United States begins to bring its troops out of Afghanistan.
* The CIA has also stepped up its use of Predator drone aircraft to fire missiles at Taliban targets, particularly in the wake of the killing of eight CIA agents by a suicide bomber who infiltrated a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan in late December. It was the deadliest attack on the CIA in 20 years.
(Editing by Patricia Wilson and Doina Chiacu)
DTN News: Red Alert ~ Two Explosions Hit Moscow MetroSource: DTN News / STRATFOR
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 29, 2010: There have been two explosions on Moscow metro systems March 29. The first explosion hit the second carriage of a metro train stopped at Lubyanka station and the second at Park Kultury station. Ten people were initially reported injured in the first blast with an unknown number injured in the second blast. With two blasts approximately 40 minutes apart in Moscow subway stations it is most likely it was coordinated terrorist attacks in Russia’s capital.
According to STRATFOR sources in Moscow, the two locations of the attacks on the subway in the city are symbolic. The first attack in Park Kultury is symbolic in that it is one of the city’s cultural centers being located near Gorky Park. The second location of the attack at the metro station of Lubyanka is nearly under the Federal Security Bureau’s headquarters—former KGB headquarters—the security hub of Russia. MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 29: Russian Policemen are seen in front of the Park Kultury metro station entrance on March 29, 2010 in Moscow, Russia. At least 35 people were killed as two separate female suicide bombers blew themselves up on trains on Moscow's metro during morning rush hour. Twenty-Three people died in the Lubyanka station blast and around 40 minutes later a second explosion occurred at the Park Kultury station leaving another 12 people dead.
According to media reports, the attacks were caused by suicide bombers at the peak of rush hour in Moscow. Thus far, rumors are flying that Muslim extremists are responsible for the attack. In the past, there have typically been spring-summer attacks in Moscow in February, and spring is just now arriving in the capital. STRATFOR will be closely watching the situation for more details.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org