Sunday, May 9, 2010

Western troops join Russia's Victory Day parade

Defense News: Moscow, Russia (CNN) -- Troops from the United States, Britain and France marched in the annual Victory Day parade through Red Square for the first time Sunday, a step Russia's president called a nod toward their "common victory" in World War II.

MOSCOW - RUSSIA - MAY 9:  Welsh Guards of the British military march in the Victory Day parade on May 9, 2010 at Red Square, in Moscow, Russia. The military parade which commerates the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany is the first at which NATO troops have been invited to take part, in what is seen as a recognition of post cold war solidarity.

The annual parade celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany by the former Soviet Union and its Western allies and serves as a demonstration of Russian military might. More than 120 aircraft flew overhead and more than 10,500 troops paraded through the capital this year.
"The victory won in 1945 was our common victory, a victory of good over evil, of justice over lawlessness," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a reception honoring veterans after the parade.
Including military representatives from other countries in Sunday's parade, Medvedev said, "is indicative of our solidarity, and of the understanding that universal humanistic values are becoming increasingly important for the development of the modern world."
Chinese President Hu Jintao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the parade's invited guests.
Millions of Russians watched the parade on television and attended smaller parades in cities across the country, and more than half of Russians greeted the invitation to foreign troops with approval, according to a poll by the independent Levada Center in April.
But leaders of the Communist Party and right-wing organizations have criticized the change. And in a country that still regards the U.S.-led NATO alliance as its primary security threat, 20 percent of respondents to Levada's poll said they disapproved of inviting international troops to march in the parade, and 8 percent were strongly against it.
The Soviet Union suffered the most losses of any country during World War II, with more than 7.5 million soldiers killed and 5 million wounded, along with millions of civilian deaths.
Most Russians say they believe the Red Army would have defeated Hitler without Western assistance, Levada's research shows.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 9, 2010 ~ Kandahar Braces Itself For A Bloody Summer Offensive

Defense News: DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 9, 2010 ~ Kandahar Braces Itself For A Bloody Summer Offensive
*The Taliban's more brutal treatment of civilians and Nato's response have raised the temperature – and the fear factor – as the fighting season approaches
Source: DTN News /, John Boone in Kandahar
(NSI News Source Info) KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - May 9, 2010: The coming of spring always brings an influx of Taliban fighters to the district of Zhari, where the young leaves on the grapevines and fruit orchards provide cover so thick that Nato's hi-tech thermal imaging cameras struggle to see the insurgents hiding within.
But this year things are different. The Taliban are back once again, but the locals who live in the area on the western doorstep of the city of Kandahar say they have arrived in far higher numbers than in previous years.
"Two months ago there were only around 30 in the area, but it has increased dramatically in the last two weeks," said Faiz Mohammad, a shopkeeper from the town of Sanzari in Zhari district.
"We now see hundreds of them, young teenage boys, led by older commanders. They are clean shaven and look like everyone else, except they carry good weapons and communications equipment."
It is a similar story in the nearby villages of Pashmol and Ashgho, locals say. According to one farmer, the fighters operate within just a few hundred metres of Nato bases. "They just come up and check we haven't met government officials and demand we give them food and money," said Bari Dad.
The young fighters, fresh from over the border in Pakistan, appear to be mustering in exactly the places where Nato expects to do some of its heaviest fighting this summer.
As they did before the major February operation in Marjah in Helmand, the insurgents are preparing for the onslaught by laying roadside bombs and mines in the areas where they expect to fight. But, unlike in the past, they now rarely tell the locals where they are buried, Dad said.
In what has been called the "cornerstone of the surge effort", June and July will see about 23,000 US, Canadian and Afghan troops attempt to clear Kandahar's rural hinterlands, focusing particularly on areas such as Zhari and the neighbouring district of Panjwai.
The hope is that by controlling these areas they will take the pressure off the beleaguered city of Kandahar and its estimated 500,000 citizens.
Nato talks of creating "rings of security" around the provincial capital. But inside the city a Taliban campaign of violence has succeeded in creating an atmosphere of panic and terror.
Sources throughout the vital southern province report similar stories of a higher than usual influx of fighters, including insurgents, passing through the district of Shah Wali Kot to the north and the area of Dand to the south. The Indian consulate in Kandahar also said it had received reports from locals from Maruf, a district on the border with Pakistan, that Taliban activity has "increased many-fold" compared with last year.
Pranav, a diplomat at the heavily fortified Indian consulate, said that insurgents appeared also to be moving in from neighbouring provinces, including Helmand, in preparation for a major Kandahar offensive.
Both sides are gearing up for a bloody summer. The head of the health department has set up an additional 100 beds for the city's main hospital, which previously held 330. Those beds are already full of the war wounded, including many suspected Taliban fighters.
Caught between the two sides, civilians are hoping to avoid the crossfire.
Mohammad Karim, a farmer from Ashgo, said: "The Taliban publicly executed a man in our village by hanging him from a tree and then shooting him. He was accused of passing information to the foreigners. Both sides are creating problems for us and we try to remain neutral."
Haji Abdul Haq, a tribal elder from Arghandab district, said people in his area were only interested in avoiding the fight. "The people only want peace and security; they don't care if it's provided by Isaf [the international security assistance force led by Nato] or the Taliban," he said.
A recent public opinion survey in Kandahar conducted for the US army found that despite their efforts to remain above the fray, most of the 1,994 people questioned sympathised with the insurgents' reasons for taking up arms against the government. Some 94% of respondents did not want foreign forces to start a new operation.
The US has already stepped up its secret war against the Taliban: special forces teams have been killing and capturing mid-level commanders and apparently squeezing the insurgents' supply chains.
But in recent weeks the Taliban have responded with an aggressive assassination campaign, bringing an unprecedented level of fear to the city.
Rumours are circulating that Taliban leaders in Pakistan have issued a "kill list" of officials who have been targeted – most of whom do not have any security to speak of.
Last month the city's deputy mayor was shot dead as he prayed in a mosque. A week earlier, a young Afghan woman employed by Development Alternatives, a company that works on US government construction projects, was gunned down as she travelled to work.
These developments have created a clear sense of fear, particularly among anyone connected with the government, Nato or any foreign organisation.
At a time when the US military is trying to bolster the provincial government's capacity to get things done, key staff members are trying to quit. One aide in the governor's office, who cannot be named, has handed in his resignation although it has not yet been accepted.
Some who leave government employment find that it is already too late: former interpreters for Nato soldiers have been targeted and killed, in one case more than a year after leaving the job.
One Afghan man, who cannot be named, said he quit his well-paid job at the International Committee of the Red Cross after receiving phone calls from acquaintances in Quetta, the frontier town in southern Pakistan where many Taliban live with their families, politely asking him not to work with the foreigners any more. When he argued that the Red Cross was a humanitarian organisation that famously strives to be neutral, he was told the Taliban believe that they share information with the Americans and cannot be trusted.
And the United Nations, which also describes itself as neutral, now considers its staff to be in such danger that on 27 April all foreign workers were hurriedly evacuated to Kabul and local staff told to remain at home after rumours that the UN compound was going to be attacked.
With the departure of the UN, there are very few foreigners still living in the city. When I checked into a heavily fortified guesthouse, the first thing the manager showed off was not the bedroom but a basement safe room and an escape route over the roof.
He was right to be cautious: just round the corner is the remains of a compound that housed a number of foreign companies working on US-funded projects. The building was largely destroyed on 15 April by a suicide bomber who drove a car packed with explosives into the front gate.
"They are trying to show who is the boss in Kandahar city, and it appears to be working," said Ganesh, the Indian diplomat.
The collapse in security and the increase in US military patrols have frightened locals who used to regard the city as a sanctuary from more dangerous outlying districts.
And foreign officials worry that operations in the surrounding districts will displace fighters into the city itself; urban warfare on the streets of Kandahar would be a disaster for the Nato strategy of trying to create security in areas where the population is most dense. Last week, Mark Sedwill, Nato's senior civilian representative, admitted that street to street fighting was a possibility.
"We are just in absolute despair," said one man from Arghandab district who had come into the city to shop. "People used to move their families into the city when there was fighting in the districts, but now that's not safe either. We really don't know where to go."
Despite the dire state of security in the city and its surrounding areas, there is widespread opposition among locals to a major military offensive, which, like the February operation in Marjah, has been well publicised in advance.
Nato hoped that this would encourage fighters to simply withdraw. But it has, in fact, given the Taliban time to thoroughly prepare the battleground with bombs and mines as well as terrifying the local population.
When Hamid Karzai visited the city at the beginning of April to talk to elders, most of them called on him to cancel the plan.
Last week Nato began trying to play down the military aspect of this summer's surge, saying it would prefer to call it a "process that is encompassing military and non-military instruments" rather than an "operation", or "offensive".
Others say that nothing will change until a solution is found for Kandahar's underlying problems of official corruption and tribes who feel excluded from power, which they say is controlled by a small oligarchy of businessmen-politicians.
Several Kandaharis I interviewed saw the Taliban insurgency in terms of rivalry between members of the largely excluded Gilzai tribe, which has always been heavily represented within the Taliban, and the traditional elite Durrani tribe to which Hamid Karzai belongs.
The claim is backed up by figures from the US military, showing that Durranis hold two-thirds of positions within the provincial government and 26 out of 34 district and police chiefs.
"Things will never get better unless the Ghilzai are more fairly represented," said Faiz Mohammad the shopkeeper from Zhari. "You cannot just ignore the needs of a major tribe like that."

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY May 9, 2010 ~ US Drone Strike In North Waziristan Kills 10

Defense News: DTN News: Pakistan TODAY May 9, 2010 ~ US Drone Strike In North Waziristan Kills 10
Source: DTN News / AFP Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) MIRAMSHAH, Pakistan - May 9, 2010: A US drone fired two missiles into a militant compound in Pakistan's tribal area, a hotbed of Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, killing at least 10 militants, local security officials said.
The strike targeted Inzarkas village, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Miramshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal district near the border with Afghanistan.
“The missiles struck a militant compound in the village, killing at least 10 rebels,” a senior Pakistani security official in the area told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Another security official confirmed the strike and casualties but said the nationalities of those killed in the attack were not yet known.
“The compound became suspicious as it was being used by foreigners,” he said. “It was, however, not immediately known if any high-value target was present in the area at the time of attack.”
Pakistani officials use the term “foreigners” for Al-Qaeda linked militants operating in the tribal regions.
Waziristan was plunged back into the international spotlight following the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American charged with international terrorism in the attempted car bombing of New York's Times Square.
According to the US authorities, Shahzad admitted to receiving bomb-making training in Waziristan, in an area Washington describes as the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous region in the world.
US forces have been waging a covert drone war on the northwestern tribal belt, where militants have carved out havens in mountainous areas outside direct government control.
More than 900 people have been killed in over 100 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008.

DTN News: Indian Light Combat Aircraft Could Be Converted As UCAV

Defense News: DTN News: Indian Light Combat Aircraft Could Be Converted As UCAV
Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - May 9, 2010: Indian Light Combat Aircraft could be converted as a Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV). The second edition of Manas Defence year book 2101 – 2011 reveals that in addition to converting LCA into UCAV, there are tentative plans of weaponising Indian UAV’s.
Indian is currently working on medium and high altitude UAV’s. DRDO’s Lakshya and Nishant UAV’s are under various stages of testing and deployment by the users. The High Altitude Long Endurance UAV (HALE) has features like SATCOM links which will allow it to be operated beyond the line of sight.
The Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV (MALE) called Rustom draws upon the experience gained via the Nishant Tactical UAV program. MALE Rustom will feature canards and carry a range of payloads like ESM, Laser designators, optronic and radar. Rustom program will have a new engine and conventional take off and landing capability (CTOL). DRDO is carrying on with the developmental work unaffected by the recent crash of Rustom prototype. Rustom is expected to supplement or replace the Israeli made Heron UAV in Indian service.

DTN News: Russia TODAY May 9, 2010 ~ Combat Jets Paint Russian Flag In Skies Over Red Square

Defense News: DTN News: Russia TODAY May 9, 2010 ~ Combat Jets Paint Russian Flag In Skies Over Red Square
Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - May 9, 2010: Russian Su-25 Frogfoot military jets 'painted' a tricolor Russian national flag flying over Red Square during a military parade to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.The parade, which started at 10.00 Moscow time [06.00 GMT] and continued for about an hour and a half, was the biggest military parade in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A total of 127 aircraft divided in 20 groups took part in a ceremonial flyover.
Su-25 ground support aircraft and MiG-29 fighters flew in a setup formation resembling number 65 in reference to the anniversary.
Other aircraft displayed during the parade included Il-76 and An-124 military transport planes, accompanied by multirole Su-27 fighters, Il-78 aerial tankers, an A-50 AWACS plane, Tu-95MS Bear and supersonic Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers.
Russia's Yak-130 combat trainers, Su-34 multirole strike aircraft and Mi-26 heavy transport helicopters flew over the Kremlin for the first time.
A large helicopter group included Mi-24, Mi-28 and Ka-50 attack helicopters, and Mi-8 transport helicopters.
Victory Day on May 9 marks the final surrender by Nazi Germany to the U.S.S.R. in WWII, which is often referred to as the Great Patriotic War in Russia and other states from the former Soviet Union.

DTN News: The Missiles Are Coming

Defense News: DTN News: The Missiles Are Coming
Source: DTN News / Haaretz By Zvi Bar'el
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - May 9, 2010: A rational country would have done the arithmetic long ago and understood that by continuing to hold on to the Golan Heights, the chances of a confrontation would simply grow.
Here's a bit of arithmetic. Take the number of Hezbollah's Scud missiles and Katyusha rockets and add the number of Iranian-made Zelzal rockets and Shihab-3 missiles, and divide by 7.5 million. How many missiles are there for every Israeli?
And now for geometry. Draw three circles around Tel Aviv; the first will mark the Shihab's range, the second the Scud's and the third the Katyusha's. Assuming that an attack on Israel would be coordinated between Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, would you advise Hezbollah to fire only Scuds and conserve its Katyushas? Or maybe you would advise Iran to fire Shahabs and let Hezbollah conserve its Katyushas? Justify your answers based on your place of residence and the missile range.
The fear rained down on us by Military Intelligence research chief Yossi Baidatz, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ("Hezbollah has more missiles than most governments" ), Jordan's King Abdullah ("A war could break out this summer" ) and many military analysts leaves Israel with the all-too-familiar feeling that it has no choice but to launch a preemptive attack. Suddenly it turns out that it's not the Iranian nuclear program that poses an existential threat, but rather the various kinds of missiles. And the terrified country is already preparing public opinion and the army for the next confrontation.
Indeed, there is a balance of terror between Israel and its neighbors, whose purpose is deterrence. That's what every rational country does when it feels threatened and can't find a nonmilitary alternative. No doubt, Israel is threatened, but so are Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It's enough to listen to Israel's threats to "take Syria back to the Stone Age," "destroy Lebanon's civilian infrastructure" or smash Hamas to understand that the style of the Israeli threat approaches that of Iran. If anyone should be waking up in the morning in a cold sweat, it's the Lebanese, Syrians and Gazans, not the Israelis.
Nevertheless, even though Syria has suffered military blows from Israel, it continues to act "impudently," and Lebanon, which was pounded in war, has stepped up its threats. Operation Cast Lead in Gaza did not stop Hamas from arming itself. And in the West Bank, the occupation forces have not completely neutralized the threat.
But unlike Israel, which sees the threat but forgets the catalyst, each of its neighbors has territory under Israeli occupation, each has a legitimate national claim to get its occupied land back. Anyone looking for a nonviolent alternative can find it well-packaged and waiting to be used, but it's merely getting wet in the rain.
"[Syrian President Bashar] Assad wants peace but doesn't believe [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu," Baidatz told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. But his words were lost in the alarming description of the number of missiles in Hezbollah's hands. Because even though we understand weapons, and we consider Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah a household name, and we assemble and dismantle centrifuges every day, we lose our way when it comes to the peace process.
Baidatz didn't explain how it's possible to gain Assad's confidence, and he wasn't asked, just as he wasn't asked whether returning the Golan Heights to Syria under agreed conditions could neutralize the Syrian-Lebanese-Hezbollah threat. These questions are too dangerous to ask to someone from the army - he just might propose a diplomatic solution.
But it's possible to answer for him. Peace with Syria might neutralize the military threat from that country, stop Hezbollah from arming and put Iran in a confusing situation, even if it doesn't break off its relations with Syria. Peace with Syria and the Palestinians would also change Turkey's position and neutralize the hostility between Israel and the other Arab countries.
In short, the military threat would lose a great deal of its punch. A rational country, even one not seeking peace - and Israel, after all, is not one - would have done the arithmetic long ago and understood that by continuing to hold on to the Golan Heights, the chances of a confrontation would simply grow. It would have understood that the threat does not lie in the circles that mark the missile range but in those territories it continues to occupy.

DTN News: Automobile News May 8, 2010 ~ India's Mahindra Pickups Could Hit U.S. In Under 90 Days

Defense News: DTN News: Automobile News May 8, 2010 ~ India's Mahindra Pickups Could Hit U.S. In Under 90 Days
Source: DTN News / Auto News
(NSI News Source Info) MUMBAI, India - May 8, 2010: Plagued by a series of setbacks, delays, and that little thing called "the chicken tax," Mahindra has yet to receive EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 federal emissions certification for its TR20 and TR40 pickups. But man, they must be getting really close. Right?
John Perez, CEO of Global Vehicles USA, Mahindra's exclusive U.S. distributor, says that all the emissions testing on the trucks has been completed and the paperwork is being submitted to the EPA for final approval. Approval itself is expected to take about 30 days. At that point, Global Vehicles could begin importing the trucks to the United States. They'd arrive on our shores 30 to 60 days later.
By our math, that sounds like we could have Mahindra pickup trucks on U.S. roads before the end of August, but neither Perez nor Mahindra's corporate offices are talking sale dates yet. Experience has probably taught them not to make predictions, but with 330 dealers signed up and raring to go, we're sure that official sales date can't come soon enough for any of the parties involved.
When they eventually go on sale, Mahindra pickups will be offered in two configurations: a two-door regular cab, the TR20, and a four-door crew cab, the TR40. Both will offer Mahindra's slightly modified version of the mHawk 2.2-liter inline-four-cylinder diesel engine. Official EPA numbers obviously haven't been determined yet, but the trucks are expected to have fuel economy ratings around 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Not too shabby considering their 1.3-ton hauling capability. Pricing is expected to start around $22,000

DTN News: Iran Welcomes Turkish, Brazilian Nuclear Fuel Ideas

Defense News: DTN News: Iran Welcomes Turkish, Brazilian Nuclear Fuel Ideas
Source: DTN News / Int'l Media by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Matthew Jones
(NSI News Source Info) NEW YORK, U.S. - May 8, 2010: Iran gave an upbeat assessment of Turkish and Brazilian mediation efforts in its nuclear dispute with the West, welcoming "in principle" ideas aimed at reviving a stalled U.N.-backed atom fuel swap deal with major powers.
"New formulas have been raised about the exchange of fuel ... I think we can arrive at practical agreements on these formulas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in remarks published by the Iran daily on Saturday.
"That is why we welcomed the proposals in principle ... and left the details for more examination." He did not elaborate on the content of the proposals.
His comments appeared part of an Iranian attempt to avert a possible new round of U.N. sanctions on the Islamic state over a nuclear programme the West fears is designed to develop bombs.
Turkey and Brazil are currently non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Analysts say Iran may be trying to buy time and to split the six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- which are discussing additional punitive measures against the Islamic Republic.
Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says it only seeks to generate electricity and has repeatedly refused to bow to international demands to halt sensitive atomic activity.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this week agreed "in principle" to Brazilian mediation on the proposed fuel swap exchange, Iranian media reported.
The powers see the plan as a way to remove much of Iran's low-enriched uranium stockpile to minimise the risk of this being used for atomic bombs, while Iran would get specially processed fuel to keep its nuclear medicine programme running.
But the proposal broke down over Iran's insistence on doing the swap only on its territory, rather than shipping its LEU abroad in advance, and in smaller, phased amounts, meaning no meaningful cut in a stockpile which grows day by day.
Turkey and Brazil have been trying to revive the fuel deal in a bid to stave off further sanctions. Iran has also put forward a counterproposal, dismissed by Western officials.
The United States is lobbying U.N. Security Council members to back sanctions including proposed measures targeting Iranian banks, shipping and the country's all-important energy sector.
But Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told Reuters on Friday his country saw a window of opportunity and a willingness by Iran to reach a negotiated solution over its nuclear programme. He met Ahmadinejad in Tehran last week.
Russia and China, veto-wielding members of the Security Council which have significant commercial links with Iran, have said they are willing to give Turkey and Brazil more time to resuscitate the fuel proposal.
Brazil favours a mooted compromise in which Iran could export its uranium to another country in return for higher-enriched fuel for a Tehran research reactor. Iran has so far insisted the exchange must take place on its territory.
"The framework set out by the countries (Turkey and Brazil), alongside our own country's recent proposal, has the potential from the perspective of Iran for arriving at a final common point and becoming operational," Mehmanparast said.
"At any rate, we believe the efforts being undertaken by friendly countries, such as Turkey and Brazil, can ultimately be positive," he added.

DTN News: Syria Ready To Resume Peace Talks With Israel - Turkey

Defense News: DTN News: Syria Ready To Resume Peace Talks With Israel - Turkey
Source: DTN News / Int'l Media Editing by Maria Golovnina
(NSI News Source Info) ANKARA, Turkey - May 8, 2010: Syria is ready to reopen peace talks with Israel, with Turkey serving as a mediator, but Israel has not asked Ankara toresume that role, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Saturday.
"Syria has said it is ready to resume talks where they were left off," Gul told a news conference. "However, we have not heard from the Israeli side. It is up to them."
Speaking alongside Gul, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he was ready for talks. Yet he accused Israel of avoiding negotiations, saying it does not want a resolution in the fight over the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured in 1967.
"Israel is not ready for mediation because it knows that a successful mediation will bring peace, and the Israeli side does not want peace," he said. "We emphasise mediation and Turkey's role, but we also say Israel is not an honest partner."
Israel and Syria held four indirect rounds of talks with Turkish mediation in 2008. Those were suspended after the Israeli incursion into Palestinian-run Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly criticised the Israeli offensive in Gaza, prompting some politicians in Israel to question Turkey's suitability as a neutral mediator.
Muslim but constitutionally secular Turkey has a record of military cooperation with Israel and has acted as an intermediary between the Jewish state and the Arab world.
Warmer ties between NATO member Turkey and Muslim neighbours including Iran and Syria have raised concerns that Ankara's traditionally Western-anchored foreign policy is moving east. Turkey could play a part in negotiations between Iran and Western powers over its nuclear program, Assad said.
"I want Turkey to continue its important role because a trust has formed between the Iranian and Turkish governments and Turkey has wide relations with the rest of the region," he said.
"But any political agreement must be reached on the basis of international agreements ... We want the region purged of weapons of mass destruction," he said, but added Iran has the right to develop nuclear power.
Iran says it wants nuclear power to generate electricity. The West fears it is designed to develop bombs. The United States has accused Syria of covert nuclear activity, and European allies have criticised Damascus' lack of transparency.

DTN News: Pak Interior Minister Says Taliban Link To Times Square Bomb Plot Under Probe

Defense News: DTN News: Pak Interior Minister Says Taliban Link To Times Square Bomb Plot Under Probe
Source: DTN News / ANI
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - May 8, 2010: Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday that the Taliban link to the Times Square bomb plot is under investigation by the concerned authorities.Malik said that Islamabad is determining whether Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested over the botched plot met Pakistani Taliban leaders in their stronghold in the northwest.
He said Pakistani investigators were trying to verify information provided by the United States that 30-year-old Shahzad had visited South Waziristan.
"Yes, today we received a formal request from them in which they have given the details of the charges according to which Shahzad has been visiting South Waziristan and meeting Qari Hussain and Hakimullah Mehsud. But it all needs confirmation. The statement of accused should substantiate with some documentary or material evidence. So, we will investigate. One thing I want to say and which is very clear that the acts of terorism bring horror to the world and we are facing it too. We will provide full support to American authorities to bring the culprits to justice,"Rehman told reporters here.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attempted car bomb attack, but a spokesman for the militants has denied links to Shahzad.
If confirmed that the Taliban in Pakistan sponsored the attempted bombing in New York, it would be the group's first involvement in an attack on U.S. soil.

DTN News: American made ... Chinese Owned ~ Full Version

Defense News: DTN News: American made ... Chinese Owned ~ Full Version
Source: Fortune By Sheridan Prasso, contributing editor
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 8, 2010: About a mile past the Bountiful Blessings Church on the outskirts of Spartanburg, S.C., make a right turn. There, tucked into an industrial court behind a row of sapling cherry trees not much taller than I am, past a company that makes rubber stamps and another that stitches logos onto caps and bags, is a brand-new factory: the state-of-the-art American Yuncheng Gravure Cylinder plant. Due to open any day now, it will make cylinders used to print labels like the ones around plastic soda bottles. But unlike its neighbors in Spartanburg, Yuncheng is a Chinese company. It has come to South Carolina because by Chinese standards, America is darn cheap.
Yes, you read that right. The land Yuncheng purchased in Spartanburg, at $350,000 for 6.5 acres, cost one-fourth the price of land back in Shanghai or Dongguan, a gritty city near Hong Kong where the company already runs three plants. Electricity is cheaper too: Yungcheng pays up to 14¢ per kilowatt-hour in China at peak usage, and just 4¢ in South Carolina. And no brownouts either, a sporadic problem in China. It's true that American workers are much more expensive, of course, and the overall cost of making a widget in China remains lower, and perhaps always will.
But for hundreds of Chinese companies like Yuncheng, the U.S. has become a better, less expensive place to set up shop. It could be the biggest role reversal since, well ... when Nixon went to China. "The gap between manufacturing costs in the U.S. and China is shrinking," explains John Ling, a naturalized American from China who runs the South Carolina Department of Commerce's business recruitment office in Shanghai. Ling recruited Yuncheng to Spartanburg, and others too: Chinese companies have invested $280 million and created more than 1,200 jobs in South Carolina alone.
Today some 33 American states, ports, and municipalities have sent representatives like Ling to China to lure jobs once lost to China back to the U.S.: Besides affordable land and reliable power, states and cities are offering tax credits and other incentives to woo Chinese manufacturers. Beijing, meanwhile, which has mandated that Chinese companies globalize by expanding to key markets around the world, is chipping in by offering to finance up to 30% of the initial investment costs, according to Chinese business sources.
What would Henry Luce think?
The enticements are working. Chinese companies announced new direct investments in the U.S. of close to $5 billion in 2009 alone, according to New York City-based economic consultancy the Rhodium Group, which tallied the numbers for Fortune. That's well below Japanese investment in the U.S., which peaked at $148 billion in 1991, but a big jump from China's previous investments, which had been averaging around $500 million a year. Chinese firms last year acquired or announced they were starting more than 50 U.S. companies. And when China finally allows the value of its currency, the yuan, to appreciate -- and it's just a question of when -- Americans can expect to see Chinese projects, small today, really take off and have an impact on the U.S. economy. This could be a good thing for relations between the two countries. "It will take many years to balance out the flow of U.S. investment into China," says Dan Rosen, a principal at the Rhodium Group. But, he says, China's aggressive interest in U.S. investment suddenly gives Washington some leverage as it seeks to negotiate with Beijing on tariffs, trade issues, and economic policy.
None of that matters much in Spartanburg. Skilled workers at American Yuncheng will earn $25 to $30 an hour, line operators $10 to $12. That's a lot more than the $2 an hour that unskilled labor costs in China, but the company can qualify for a state payroll tax credit of $1,500 per worker (for any company creating more than 10 jobs). And by being closer to companies like Coca-Cola, Yuncheng can respond more quickly when they need new labels designed to show that a product has reduced its fat content or added more flavor. If business goes well, company president Li Wenchun expects to double the size of his operation, maybe in five to 10 years, and employ up to 120 Americans. "I'd like it to be next month, but it depends on how fast we develop the market here," he tells me through a Mandarin interpreter.
So far there's little sign of anti-Chinese sentiment among South Carolinians, who watched their state lose its cotton-based textile-manufacturing industry to low-cost countries like China. Fortune asked Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican torchbearer for conservative causes, what he thinks of communists creating work in his home state. "South Carolina is one of the best places in the world to do business, and that's why so many international companies are moving jobs into our state" is his only reply.
Brenda Missouri, a 43-year-old leaks tester who works for appliance maker Haier, speaks about her employer in glowing terms. Haier was the first Chinese company to build a factory in the U.S. -- a refrigerator plant in Camden, S.C., in 2000. "They're good business folks; they get the job done," she says. As for communism? "Doesn't matter," she shrugs. "It's money that makes the difference."
Chinese companies, American workers
Last December the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations dispatched me to Corpus Christi to give a speech about the Chinese and their economy. Why? Because, they told me, the region is about to become home to the largest-ever Chinese-built factory in the U.S., a $1 billion plant by Tianjin Pipe Group to manufacture seamless pipe for oil drilling. If everything proceeds as planned -- the company received its air-quality permit on April 14 and hopes to break ground by fall -- Tianjin Pipe expects to employ 600 Texans by 2012 and to provide an estimated $2.7 billion to the local economy over the next decade. Corpus Christians, it turned out, wanted to know more about their new neighbors who are expected to relocate 40 to 50 families to Texas.
Upon arrival, I find it impossible not to notice the resemblance of Corpus Christi's long, curving coastline on the Gulf of Mexico to the one near Tianjin on the Bohai Sea between northern China and Korea. Some 75 U.S. locales competed for the factory, but when Chinese delegations from Tianjin Pipe visited Corpus Christi, the townspeople made them feel at home by welcoming the visitors to backyard barbecues. They even enlisted the Taiwan-born former owner of the local Chinese restaurant, Yalee Shih -- perhaps the only woman in town who could speak Mandarin -- to help them navigate cultural nuances. Shih, who also sits on the board of the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures, delicately helped prevent a multimillion-dollar translation error over building costs that might have cost Corpus Christi the project, and also quashed what would have been an impolitic gift of clocks -- which to the Chinese symbolize death or the end of a relationship -- from a local retailer. She and others in the region's business community plan to help guide their new residents through life in America, like how to buy a car, how to rent a house, as well as where to go to buy fragrant rice instead of Uncle Ben's.
In the end, while feeling at home helps, it does come down to business, says J.J. Johnston, executive vice president and chief business development officer of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. "They like the strategic location of our region, the convenient access to materials coming in -- mostly scrap metal and pig iron -- and the ability to export to North and South America through the port of Corpus Christi," he says.
There are other incentives. On April 9 the U.S. Commerce Department imposed import duties of up to 99% on the type of seamless pipe that is to be manufactured by Tianjin Pipe -- a reprisal prompted by the United Steelworkers union. The Chinese company, the world's largest maker of steel pipe, had said it could not afford to export to the U.S. if tariffs were over 20%. Now its pipe will be made in America. "It's just another reason they have to have a U.S.-based production facility," says Johnston.
Even without tariffs, Tianjin had been looking to expand -- as are many Chinese companies once they reach about $100 million in annual sales. "Chinese companies, as they get bigger, have to start thinking about their global positioning," says Clarence Kwan, who runs the Chinese Services Group at Deloitte, which advises Chinese companies on doing business in the U.S. Officially the Chinese government has given approval to over 1,200 Chinese investments in the U.S., but that number is considered low because it doesn't count those made via Hong Kong -- where many Chinese companies earn equity capital from being publicly traded -- or tax havens like the Virgin Islands, where Chinese investment may stop first before flowing to the U.S. Plus, investments below $100 million don't need Beijing's nod and may be approved at the local level.
Chinese companies see America as more than a manufacturing center. So far this year they have announced plans to build a wind-energy turbine plant and wind farm in Nevada that will create 1,000 American jobs; purchased the 400-employee Los Angeles Marriott Downtown out of foreclosure; and acquired a shuttered shopping center in Milwaukee, with plans to turn it into a mega-mall for 200 Chinese retailers. In some cases Chinese companies are resuscitating American outfits that had been left for dead. About 70 miles west of Spartanburg, near the Georgia border, past signs reading "24-hour fried chicken," another Chinese company is hiring engineers -- metallurgical and mechanical, some from nearby Clemson University. In June 2009, Top-Eastern Group, a tool manufacturer based in China's coastal city of Dalian, acquired a factory here along with three other facilities from Kennametal, one of America's largest machine-tool makers, after the U.S. company, based in Latrobe, Pa., reported a $137 million loss (citing a slowdown in industrial activity) in the quarter before the sale.
China: scapegoat or threat
This plant, in Seneca, S.C., makes drill bits. And in the months since his purchase of it for $29 million, Top-Eastern founder Jeff Chee has invested another $10 million to upgrade machinery, built a $3 million logistics center, brought back Kennametal's furloughed workers, hired 120 more, and now has his 260-employee plant working overtime filling orders for the Cleveland Twist Drills, Chicago Latrobe, Putnam, and Bassett brands he acquired. He brought back the company's old name, which was Greenfield Industries before Kennametal acquired it in 1997, and emblazoned it on a sign out front.
General Electric's former CEO , Jack Welch, he volunteers, is his inspiration. "I've read a lot of books, and I learned a lot from him," Chee says in broken English amid the sharp smell of grinding steel. "One person can change a lot." As one of China's self-made entrepreneurs, who started Top-Eastern in 1994 with just $500, Chee now has worldwide sales of more than $120 million, 4,000 employees, and factories in Germany and Brazil. He visits the South Carolina plant monthly to make sure all is proceeding as planned, and employs American managers to run it in his absence rather than bring over Chinese. "There's good, experienced people and good know-how already here," he says.
How can he make a drill bit factory profitable where Kennametal had struggled? By increasing productivity with new equipment and cutting costs, he says. Plus, Chee forges his own steel, and he owns the mines back in China for two of its more expensive components, tungsten and molybdenum. The fact that he can source from himself means he keeps the margins -- and now his tools are officially made in the U.S. The cost of making those products is much higher than in China, he says, "but the problem is customers just accept 'made in U.S.A.' products, so I have no choice. Lots of customers here have government contracts that have 'made in U.S.A.' requirements."
And how do the employees feel about having a Chinese entrepreneur come to their rescue? "Just because it's a Chinese owner, they don't really care," says Scott Henderson, a 47-year-old manufacturing manager who had been furloughed one week a month along with his workers before Chee bought the factory. "They're all happy to be working 40 hours a week." They also have the opportunity for overtime, and a third, graveyard shift has been added to serve a nearly 40% rise in orders. "I feel great about it," says Sam Marcengill, a 24-year-old technician at the plant. Last year he was laid off for six months before Chee's purchase gave him his job back. Now he's on overtime, 48 hours a week. "The work's a lot more steady. It's better. Personally I'm a lot better off. It's a great thing."
Never mind the hiccups Chinese companies experienced when they tried to enter the U.S. before. In 2005, Washington famously blocked China's National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOO C) from buying Unocal, and Chinese appliance maker Haier failed to acquire Maytag. Now, like the Japanese in the 1980s -- when U.S. trade frictions combined with Japan's boom blossomed into Honda and Toyota manufacturing plants -- the Chinese are here to stay. Their presence initially made some folks uneasy. A few years ago a caller to The Rush Limbaugh Show complained that as he was driving past the Haier plant in Camden, the Chinese flag was flying higher than the American flag and the South Carolina state flag out front. It was an easy mistake to make by anyone looking at the three equal-height flagpoles from an angle.
Conservative media joined in and called for protests, and the public rang the factory to complain. The Chinese executives at Haier had no idea flags were such a big deal, and it became their bugaboo. The complaints continued until about a year and a half ago when Haier America factory president Joseph Sexton, who was new to the job, decided to fix it. He had two of the poles lowered so that the U.S. flag looks highest from all angles.
It took Haier some time to work through the issues of being a Chinese employer in a small, historic Southern town (pop. 6,682) lined with stately antebellum houses and home to two Revolutionary War battlefields. "Having a Chinese manager didn't work. That's why they took all the Chinese managers out of here," says Haier's human resources director, Gerald Reeves, who was one of the first hired by Haier and guided the Chinese through the realities of Americanstyle personnel management -- including convincing them that they needed to offer health insurance. He once even asked John Ling, South Carolina's man in Shanghai, to fly home from China to talk to a manager who was arousing employee resentment by publicly embarrassing the workers, Chinese-style, for their mistakes.
Now the only way to know you're in a Chinese factory is by looking up at the large Chinese flag hanging from the rafters -- alongside an American one, of course -- and by the very Chinese motivational slogans on the walls: "Spirit of entrepreneurship -- strive for a clearly defined objective and make the impossible possible without an excuse" reads the banner over the refrigerator testing line. And if you come in February, Sexton organizes a Chinese New Year party with food and outdoor firecrackers.
What is perhaps most startling about the Haier factory is that it is actually shipping goods back to China. Best known for its mini-fridges for dorm rooms and studio apartments, Haier's U.S. plant also makes large units, good for supersized American McMansions but too large for a typical Chinese household. Now a growing number of wealthy people in China want to supersize too, so Haier has realized it can ship a small number, maybe 4,000 a year, of its highest-end refrigerators home and sell them for $2,600 apiece -- more than China's average annual income of around $2,000. (Haier also ships U.S.-made refrigerators to India, Australia, Mexico, and Canada.) There aren't enough wealthy customers yet to make it worthwhile retooling any of the 29 Haier factories in China, but the nearby deepwater port in Charleston, S.C., makes export easy enough. "There are folks in China who want high-end products," says Haier America factory president Joseph Sexton. "China is a much different place than people think."
Chinese newcomers would do well to learn from Haier's missteps as well as its great strides. "They're coming with little experience into a highly sophisticated market, and they are bound to make mistakes," says Karl Sauvant, executive director of the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment at Columbia University and a law lecturer there, who in February published an edited volume titled Investing in the United States: Is the U.S. Ready for FDI From China?
"This is the thing the Japanese did fairly successfully: You have to be a good corporate citizen, source locally, contribute to causes and charities in the local community, and be familiar with how to navigate the corridors of Washington," says Sauvant. "And in key managerial positions you should have Americans." Legal questions, such as whether Chinese companies operating in America would be subject in U.S. courts to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for business practices in, say, India or elsewhere have yet to be tested, he says. And then there's the issue of the local sensitivities exhibited in the Haier flag-flying incident.
Unlike Japan, China is no U.S. military ally -- despite President Obama's naming China a "strategic partner," instead of the "strategic competitor" label it had under the Bush administration. Politically it remains a communist country, despite its capitalist economy. There's obviously more to overcome.
Chinese investors say they don't care too much about politics, but hope their entry into the U.S. can be a positive force. "This will definitely help U.S.-China relations," remarks Li, the manager of the print-cylinder factory Yuncheng, as he guides me on a tour. "Increasing communication makes the two sides closer." Even if it doesn't, business is business. "Good products are borderless," he notes. And there's always a Chinese proverb to cite: "It takes 10 years to make a sword," says Li. In other words, keep at it till you get it right, and the outcome will be strong and lasting. And perhaps transform into the plowshare that sows a mutually beneficial harvest for America and China both.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
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Lufthansa and Boeing Celebrate 50 Years of Cooperation

LUFTHANSA BOEING 747 400 HKG RF 992 11 N.jpg

Defense News:
HAMBURG, May 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lufthansa entered the jet age with Boeing (NYSE:BA - News) 50 years ago. The airline and airplane manufacturer, both pre-eminent in the aviation industry, can look back on half a century of close and successful cooperation. Neither company shies away from taking the next step forward or from pushing technology and innovation to the next level. Together, Lufthansa and Boeing constantly work on even more efficient and environmentally progressive airplanes.

Lufthansa began scheduled jet service with a Boeing 707 on a direct flight from Hamburg to New York on March 17, 1960. With this jetliner, Boeing accomplished a quantum leap: Seating 168 passengers, the new airplane accommodated nearly twice as many passengers as the biggest propeller-driven airplane of the time. Traveling at a higher altitude, the 707 reduced flying time from Hamburg to New York by half, to around eight hours.

Since then, the airline business has continued to advance on many fronts. New technologies and materials have made flying even safer and more efficient. Passenger comfort has risen to unprecedented levels. Fuel consumption has been reduced by more than 70 per cent since the 1970s. And for the future, the air transport industry continues to develop new design criteria, then evaluate and implement them.

Boeing and Lufthansa are taking their successful cooperation and shared commitment to innovation a major step forward with the introduction of the 747-8 Intercontinental. Lufthansa will soon be welcoming the latestBoeing model into its fleet. The airline placed orders with Boeing for a total of 20 747-8 Intercontinentals. The new 747-8 is cleaner, quieter and more fuel efficient than its predecessor, the 747-400, and adopts the interior cabin architecture and lighting technologies inspired by the 787 Dreamliner.

For photos please visit Lufthansa's website:


Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Andrew Davis

Director of Communications, Europe

International Communications

Tel.: +44 78 272 40093

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

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Tel: +49 69 696 – 2999

Fax: +49 69 696 – 95428