February 28, 2007

Declassified documents

Declassified documents reveal that Japanese ultranationalists with ties to U.S. military intelligence plotted to overthrow the Japanese government and assassinate the prime minister in 1952. The scheme — which was abandoned — was concocted by militarists and suspected war criminals who had worked for U.S. occupation authorities after World War II, according to CIA records. The plotters wanted a right-wing government that would rearm Japan.
The CIA files, declassified in 2005 and publicized by the U.S. National Archives in January, detail a plot to oust the pro-U.S. prime minister, Shigeru Yoshida, and install a more hawkish government led by Ichiro Hatoyama. The CIA, in papers released under an act of the U.S. Congress to declassify documents related to Japanese war crimes, said the plotters were led by Takushiro Hattori, a former private secretary to Hideki Tojo, the wartime prime minister hanged as a war criminal in 1948.
Two CIA documents said the plot reportedly had the support of 500,000 people in Japan, and that the group planned to use a contact who controlled a faction inside the National Safety Agency — a precursor to the Defense Ministry — to help launch the coup. You can verify this information here:


Bush warned

US President George W. Bush warned his Democratic opponents that he will fight any attempt to use the debate on war funding to undercut his controversial troop "surge" in Iraq. Speaking to a gathering of US state governors at the White House, Bush said he expected a "healthy debate" on the war but said he was concerned about any move by Congress to limit funding.

Bush said he would be "strongly defending the budgets we send up to Congress, to make sure those troops who are in harm's way have the resources and that we have the flexibility necessary to ... execute the plan we've laid out." Congress must vote in the coming weeks on Bush's request for 93.4 billion dollars in supplemental funding this year for the "war on terror," and a request for 141.7 billion dollars to cover military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008.

Some Democrats, who now hold a majority in Congress, see the debate as an opportunity to block a military buildup in Iraq that they regard as an escalation of the war. They have taken aim at the deployment of more than 21,500 troops in addition to the 140,000 already there. Bush insists this "surge" is needed to stop the sectarian bloodshed and secure Baghdad and western al-Anbar province.

February 27, 2007

Abramoff Case

A former chief of staff to then- Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty yesterday to corruption charges stemming from accepting gifts, gambling chips and trips -- including an expense-paid junket to Scotland with his boss -- from former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a foreign businessman. The plea agreement by William Heaton revealed for the first time that Ney kept some of his ill-gotten gains -- $5,000 in British pounds -- in a safe in his congressional office. Heaton, who worked for Ney from 2001 until last year, admitted that he helped the congressman stash the money and periodically opened the safe at Ney's request so he could get to the cash, prosecutors said.

Ney, who resigned last year, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to 30 months in prison. Heaton, 28, admitted to conspiring with Ney, Abramoff and others to accept pricey vacations, meals, drinks, golf outings, tickets to entertainment events and contributions to Ney's campaign in exchange for actions by the congressman that benefited Abramoff's clients. None of those clients, including Indian tribes and foreign businessmen, lived in Ohio, the congressman's state.

US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake and another diplomat were wounded

The US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake and another diplomat were wounded Tuesday in an artillery attack by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels.

The diplomats had just got off a military helicopter in the eastern district of Batticaloa accompanied by Samarasinghe when two shells hit the landing pad, Samarasinghe said by telephone. A total of six people were wounded.

February 26, 2007

Unannounced trip

Vice President Dick Cheney made an unannounced trip to Pakistan on Monday to deliver what officials in Washington described as an unusually tough message to General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, warning him that the new Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives of Al Qaeda. Cheney's trip was shrouded in secrecy, and he was on the ground for only a few hours, sharing a private lunch with the Pakistani leader at his palace. Cheney traveled with the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Steve Kappes, an indication that the conversations probably included discussion of American contentions that Qaeda camps have been reconstituted along the border of Afghanistan.

Iran's destiny

Restrictions on trade and arms for Iran were likely to be considered by the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany, as the world powers on Monday sought new ways to pressure the country to suspend parts of its nuclear program. Senior representatives of the six nations were in London to discuss how to respond to Iran's failure to respect a U.N. deadline to halt its uranium enrichment work. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed Thursday that Iran had ignored a Security Council ultimatum to freeze enrichment — a possible pathway to nuclear arms — and had instead expanded its program.A senior British diplomat attending Monday's meeting at the Foreign Office said the representatives would examine options for further sanctions, including whittling away at export credits made available to companies that trade with Iran. Restrictions on arms exports to Iran also are likely to be discussed, said the diplomat.

February 22, 2007

Ready for War

A reported Syrian troop build-up near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights has fuelled speculation in Israel about a future conflict, more than three decades after the two enemies last went to war. Syrian armed forces appear to be moving closer to the armistice line as Damascus spearheads an unprecendented armaments drive. Brigadier General Yossi Beidatz, the head of military intelligence research, has also warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is preparing for conflict with Israel, possibly through Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel last year. The main thrust of Syria's armaments drive was missiles and long-range rockets, with its navy being bolstered by an Iranian missile similar to one fired by Hezbollah, killing four Israeli sailors last summer. Syria is also close to concluding a deal with Russia to procure thousands of advanced anti-tank missiles, of the sort Hezbollah used to such lethal effect against Israeli armour last year, Haaretz reported.

Iran Isolation

Britain will work towards more UN Security Council measures leading to Iran's "further isolation" after Tehran failed to meet the council's demands to stop enriching uranium.
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Britain remained committed to a negotiated solution and would now consult with its international partners to find a way to prevent Iran acquiring the means to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran has failed to comply with a United Nations Security Council demand to halt uranium enrichment, according to a report issued by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

February 21, 2007

White House wants democracy in Cuba.

Washington had no intention of changing its policy toward communist Cuba, whose centerpiece is a 45-year-old, unilateral trade embargo.
As acting president, Raul Castro twice called for dialogue with the United States, but Washington, which dismissed him as "Castro light" and insisted Cuba must first adopt democratic reforms.
Cuban officials have said the president's recovery is going well, but have given few details of his exact medical condition. It remains unclear whether Fidel Castro eventually would resume his functions.

Spying Cases

US officials failed to sideline dozens of domestic spying lawsuits on Tuesday as a federal judge ordered the war on terror-connected cases to proceed despite a pending appeal.
San Francisco District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker issued a brief written ruling that allowed evidence-gathering to commence conditionally despite protests by government lawyers.
The government lawyers wanted Walker to halt the proceedings while they press the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse his decision last year not to toss out the first of the cases in the interest of national security.

February 20, 2007

Japan had not changed

Vice President Dick Cheney reassure ally Japan on Wednesday about U.S. strategy on Iraq despite growing doubts at home and abroad, and pledged to coordinate policies on North Korea's nuclear arms programs.
Cheney's visit to Tokyo comes just weeks after Japan's defense minister said that starting the Iraq war was a mistake and its foreign minister called the U.S. occupation strategy "immature."
The remarks forced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who Cheney will meet later on Wednesday, to scurry to assure Washington that Tokyo's backing for U.S. policy in Iraq had not changed.

Updating strategies

Philippine and US forces have begun preparing a joint response on maritime security threats as part of joint military exercises. The four-day maritime exercise would cover how to deal with terrorists moving by boat, bomb threats to passenger ferries, attacks on oil fields, intercepting boats with illegal drugs and piracy. Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militants are known to operate in Mindanao, using it as a jump-off point for launching cross-border raids into neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia.

Rising Tensions US - Iran.

A second US aircraft carrier has arrived in Middle Eastern waters as promised by US President George W. Bush in January amid an escalating crisis with nearby Iran over its nuclear program.
The Stennis entered the US 5th Fleet area of operations... to conduct maritime security operations in regional waters, as well as to provide support for ground forces operating in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Iran has also been carrying out military exercises in the region, including test-firing missiles and building drones that military commanders boasted could hit the US Navy.

February 19, 2007

"Virtual Iraq" as treatment for veteran soldiers

Traumatized US soldiers are being treated for post-war psychological disorders by going out on patrol in a computer-generated virtual Iraq
The ground-breaking treatment allows soldiers to experience the sights, sounds and even the smells of a war-zone, courtesy of wrap-around goggles linked to a startlingly realistic virtual world.

Al-Qaeda move

Al-Qaeda is believed to have established compounds inside Pakistan to train small groups of operatives for possible attacks in the West.

February 18, 2007

Bio Terrorism in Moscow?

Bio-terrorism must not be discarded as a cause of an outbreak of bird flu at Moscow's poultry market, but this should be tackled by the Federal Security Service and other law enforcement services.

February 17, 2007

Corrupt Officials

Half of the corrupt Chinese officials who flee the country to escape prosecution are heads of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and their favourite destination is the United States. These senior officials used their foreign business connections to flee the country. Most corrupt officials went to the United States, Thailand, Australia, Canada and Russia and sought asylum. A lack of supervision within the SOEs was also to blame for official corruption.
Up until May 2006, there were 800 suspects wanted for economic crimes at large overseas. They are accused of embezzling nearly 70 billion yuan (875 million U.S. Dollars).

Pentagon budget

Fierce fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has forced the Pentagon to speed new weapons and equipment to troops at faster rates than ever. The Pentagon budget proposed by President Bush adds even more money for what military leaders call "urgent need" requests. For the first time, the budget includes $100 million for a Pentagon "rapid acquisition fund" aimed at getting vital supplies to troops in the field more quickly.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign

A key black Democratic leader in South Carolina has negotiated a $10,000 per month consulting contract with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, a development that came to light when the lawmaker endorsed the presidential hopeful.

February 16, 2007

A new strategy for Iraq

US will begin to withdraw troops from Iraq next year (2008). Presidential elections and democrats ruling on Congress are the major factors that will influence Bush to make this change in the Iraq's strategy. However, to consolidate a democratic regime in Iraq remains as primary objetive to influence democracies around the Middle East, a common goal for democrats and republicans.