May 19, 2007

Witzel's unethical Wikipedia edits, while working for evangelical groups

In one of the emails produced by Dalit Freedom Network, Witzel notes "(p)lease check what Wikipedia says about your organization… They always put back what I erase." In reaction to the forwarded message, DFN's Executive Director asks whether "(DFN) can… edit this ourselves…I do not want to start being identified as a mission (sic) organization… " …many principals of DFN are unabashed in their antagonism towards Hinduism.



The URL given below shows how Witzel edited his multiple evangelical posts, in the context of the California Textbook issue:

http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Special:Contribu tions/65. 78.20.179



This sort of unethical editing is frowned upon by Wiki. In my view, this conduct should also attract ethics/academic standards committees in Highebr Educational institutions like Harvard University and Members of Harvard Corporation. Surely, this is conduct unbecoming of a professor occupying a chair in a prestigious university.



The Subpoena and motion to compel Witzel—a veritable expose of Witzel's anti-hindu tirades, trampling upon Hindu Civil Rights -- is available at the URL: http://capeem. org/docs/ CompelWitzel. pdf

India: Retired vice admiral, AK Singh, may head the navy's nuclear submarine (ATV) project

Retired vice admiral, AK Singh, may head the navy's nuclear submarine (ATV) project
19 May 2007

Source: domain-b.com

New Delhi: India's nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) programme, also commonly referred to as the advanced technology vessel (ATV) project, is expected to get a new chief sometime in the coming months. The most likely replacement for vice admiral PC Bhasin, the current director general of the highly classified ATV project, will be vice admiral AK Singh, recently retired FOC-in-C of the Indian Navy's eastern naval command, according to defence officials who did not wish to be quoted.

The ATV project, it is now being revealed, has been directly under the prime minister's oversight, and has so far been headed by retired naval officers. This subterfuge has allowed the navy, and the country's defence establishment, to feign ignorance about the existence of such a project.

Admiral AK Singh is a submariner, who, in his previous commands, has also headed the country's only tri-service Andaman and Nicobar command as well as the Coast Guard.
He also commanded the INS Chakra, the former Soviet Charlie-I class SSN, which the Indian navy leased for three years till 1991 in order to gain operational experience with nuclear powered submarines.

Reports now have it that the ATV project may be commissioned around 2011-12, following sea trials that may occur a couple of years earlier, in the 2009-11 period.

Vice admiral Bhasin, the navy's former chief of materials, had succeeded vice admiral RN Ganesh as the ATV's DG about three years ago. Admiral Ganesh was the first commander of the INS Chakra.

The oft-referred to, but never publicly acknowledged, ATV programme is being undertaken at Visakhapatnam under the joint supervision of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) ever since 1976, just two years after the country conducted its first underground atomic test.

Meanwhile, Indian defence and atomic scientists, now claim to have made the ATV's reactor "fully operational." According to reports, the 100 MW reactor developed jointly by the DAE, DRDO, and the navy, went critical in October 2004, at Kalpakkam near Chennai. Reports also suggest that a miniaturised version was now under construction for integration into the ATV at Visakhapatnam.

According to defence sources, the proto-type testing centre at Kalpakkam will be used to test the submarine's turbines and propellers, whilst a similar facility at Visakhapatnam will run trials on its main turbines and gearbox.

According to officials, enriched uranium fuel for the reactor was supplied by the Rare Materials Project (RMP) facility, based at Ratnahalli near Mysore.

BALOCHISTAN : Pak-Iran border trade to be raised to $1 billion

Pak-Iran border trade to be raised to $1 billion

thenews.com.pk

Dahmardeh, Owais resolve to adopt effective measures to combat terrorism, drug trafficking

By Muhammad Ejaz Khan

QUETTA: The governors of Iranian Seistan-Baluchistan province and Pakistan’s Balochistan have reiterated their resolve to adopt effective measures to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal movement on the Pak-Iran border.

They have agreed to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in different sectors, including trade, commerce, energy, education, communications, besides addressing the border-related issues.

The visiting governor-general of Seistan-Baluchistan, Dr Habibullah Dahmardeh, held talks with Balochistan Governor Owais Ghani at the Governor House here on Friday.

The talks covered all the areas of bilateral cooperation, especially the bilateral trade promotion by resolving the problems faced by the traders of the two countries and extending them more facilities and incentives.

The proposals for launching an air service between Quetta and Zahidan and a ferry service between Gwadar and Chah Bahar port were also discussed. To this effect, the two governors agreed to more discussion on the proposals by the authorities concerned of the two sides in Tehran in August.

The two governors resolved to increase the bilateral trade via Balochistan to Rs 60 billion ($1 billion) in near future. They noted that the volume of the trade via Balochistan-Seistan-Baluchistan border was Rs 7.5 billion a couple of years ago, but had doubled in 2005-06 to Rs 16 billion.

Governor Ghani informed the Iranian delegation that the Pakistan government had identified 463 items for exports to Iran under preferential trade tariff while Iran had proposed some 400 items for export to Pakistan with certain tax and customs duty exemptions.

He said the number of trade facilitation centres on the Pak-Iran border would be increased to boost the bilateral trade. He added that the communication system would also be improved in future.

Ghani praised Dahmardeh’s key role in resolving the issue of the Pakistani Consulate in Zahidan, which was subjected to a 100-year-old litigation.

Dahmardeh said that Pakistan and Iran could go a long way in improving their bilateral relations in different sectors, especially in trade and border security issues. He said that Iran wanted peace, development and prosperity in Pakistan and that his country would extend all sorts of cooperation in this regard.

At a joint press conference, Dahmardeh said that all the issues regarding smuggling and border security should be resolved through mutual cooperation and understanding.

He referred to the construction of a wall along the border in Taftan, saying: “It is just meant to prevent smuggling, drug trafficking and illegal movement of the miscreants.” He added that different points would be established on the border for the legal trade activities.

Dahmardeh said terrorism needs to be addressed in the world perspective. “The two countries should not give terrorists a free hand rather combat the issue with unity.”

APP adds: Dahmardeh reiterated his government’s intentions to extend all kinds of support and cooperation to Pakistan in gas, electricity, railways, highways, universities and higher education. He suggested refurbishment of the weak and old railway track between Zahidan and Quetta for the speedy movement of goods between the two neighbouring countries.

This would increase the quantum of bilateral trade between the countries. Besides, he added, trade between Gwadar and Chah Behar ports should also be introduced.

Dehmarde further offered cooperation and joint venture between the two countries in mining and mineral development sector.

Pak-US investment treaty in doldrums

Source: thenews.com.pk

By Israr Khan

ISLAMABAD: The proposed Pak-US Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is in the doldrums as the two sides have differences in certain areas and are showing no flexibility in their stances.

A number of differences persist on issues of considerable importance to Islamabad. The United States wants Pakistan to include in the draft treaty some aspects which the latter is not ready to accept. As a result, both have failed to strike a compromise formula.

The Bush administration is asking Islamabad to accept its version on major issues, including reinvestment, arbitration mechanism, intellectual property rights and grant of MFN status.

Negotiations on Pak-US bilateral investment treaty, as a stepping stone towards an FTA, have been quite problematic.

During President George Bush’s visit to Pakistan in March 2006, it was anticipated that the BIT would be sealed, but it did not, and to-date lies in cold storage.

Following this visit, two ministerial-level meetings took place: United States Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab met Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan in August 2006, and again in Cairns (Australia) in September 2006 in this regard.

Then in October 2006, Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) Douglas A. Hartwick co-chaired the second meeting of the US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council in Islamabad with Pakistan’s Commerce Secretary Syed Asif Shah.

It focused on a number of issues, including Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), textiles, workers rights, services, facilitation of Pakistan-Afghan Transit Trade and agriculture.

But no negotiations have taken place ever since, nor an exchange of delegations occurred. Progress on the treaty is at a standstill, a well-placed source told The News on Wednesday.

The US wants hard conditionalities to be attached to the treaty, which effectively means it has no intention of entering into a deal, an official remarked.

Under Pakistan’s liberal investment policy, all economic sectors are open to foreign direct investment, 100 per cent foreign equity is allowed, with foreign investment fully protected in the country.

Conditionalities under the treaty were not in the best interest of Pakistan, however; Islamabad wants a treaty which promotes its interests.

A BIT is set to open the door for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries. It promises to enhance trade volume, generate more employment and spur business activities.

Since restructuring its investment ties with the entire world, the United States has so far inked BIT with only one state — Paraguay (a banana state).

Despite the fact Pakistan became a US ally in 2001 in its so-called war on terror, it has failed to attract sizeable investment from the US. It could not even gain easy access to the US markets. In contrast, the country suffered a lot in terms of lost investment opportunities and social unrest.

The US also questions Pakistan’s commitment to providing adequate protection to intellectual property. It has concerns about book piracy, weak trademark enforcement, and pharmaceutical patent protection. These issues remain serious barriers to trade and investment.

However, it still praises Islamabad for taking significant steps to shut down optical disc production and export of pirated optical discs over the last two years, and for creating the Intellectual Property Rights Organization (IPO).

Balochistan issue requires political solution: report

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: A politically democratic approach is vital for finding a resolution to the Balochistan issue, the Dialogue Group on Civil Military Relations said on Friday.

Speaking at its 9th session here, the group said all stakeholders should be involved in the process of restoring law and order to the province and addressing the grievances of its inhabitants.

The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency (PILDAT), an independent organisation working to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan, assisted the group. The group deliberated on the Balochistan situation, with special reference to ‘The Balochistan Conflict’ a paper written by Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch, former governor of Balochistan and former Quetta corps commander. Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Senator Salim Saifullah Khan also attended the session. The group noted that the government had made substantial investment for the physical infrastructure and socio-economic development of the province. Saifullah Khan said 11 recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan had already been set up while another 22 were currently being implemented. He said only five of the 38 recommendations had been rejected.

“There is a need in Balochistan to initiate a sustained and inclusive dialogue ensuring the participation of all segments of political and civil society,” said the group. For this purpose, it is essential that any actions taken to enforce the law should target only those that use violence, while law enforcement agencies should refrain from killing and injuring citizens of the areas where violence has occurred, it added. It also deplored the destruction of infrastructure and gas pipelines by Balochi dissidents.

The group observed that the people of Balochistan were genuinely convinced that they had been excluded, marginalised and discriminated against. “This includes a lack of sense of ownership of their own natural resources, grossly inadequate compensation for such natural resources, low level of education, lack of healthcare, arrest and persecution of political leaders, disappearance of activists and covert interference in political and electoral processes,” it added.

US Air Force Thinking lean, a must for stronger, smaller Air Force

by 1st Lt. Rose Richeson
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

5/18/2007 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFPN) -- The U.S. Air Forces in Europe vice commander, Maj. Gen. Marc Rogers, spent time with senior leaders at Incirlik Air Base to discuss the importance of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO21.

General Rogers began with a big picture explanation of the Air Force's strong focus on the "lean process" -- the endless pursuit of identification and elimination of waste, adapting to change, and continuous process improvement.

"We need to transform our Air Force," he said. "Think about what our Air Force was in '47, '52, '69 and look at what we do today. We are the smallest we have been in history; but, we are the most powerful."

Leaders are being asked to alter the way they do business in order to keep up with the information age -- a huge driving factor behind this transformation. General Rogers concentrated his message on the leaders of the Incirlik community because they are charged with leading and sustaining the force.

"You (senior leaders) have got to have a strategy ... but at the same time, when changes happen you've got to be able to accommodate these changing things," he said.

The key behind leaning processes is to achieve a transformation outcome that will save cost, time and effort. An AFSO 21 outcome can stem from one of the following three approaches; taking current processes and changing them, combining current platforms and executing them in new ways with reengineered processes or using something completely different and out of the box by exploring new solutions.

General Rogers stressed that the focus of lean should be on enabling the Air Force's people, for they are the key component of all processes.

"At the tactical level you can pretty well do your jobs," he said. "The things that make it tougher for you to do your job is all the rest of the bureaucracy. We can really lean out this Air Force -- there is a lot of work to be done."

One of the hardest things this transformation will ask for is a culture change, the general said. Without training and the right tools, the unit's existing character and mentality will be too powerful to overcome.

"If you can create across your command, across your unit, a mindset of out-of-the-box lean thinking, you will automatically become more adaptable," General Rogers said.

"Lean is a great leadership development tool that should be used to mentor your people and develop them," the general said.by 1st Lt. Rose Richeson
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

US and NATO Airmen test new communications systems

by Tech. Sgt. Denise Johnson
Combined Endeavor 2007 Public Affair

5/18/2007 - LAGER AULENBACH, Germany (AFPN) -- Twenty-eight Airmen and civilians from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, tested new communications systems at the U.S. European Command-sponsored exercise, Combined Endeavor, held April 27 through May 10.

The 1st Combat Communications Squadron's team from the 86th Airlift Wing is at the Lager Aulenbach testing site to participate in the world's largest communications-interoperability exercise.

The exercise includes nearly 1,500 people from 42 countries spanning four continents and two international organizations. Representatives from U.S., NATO, Partnership for Peace (PfP) and other nations plan and execute interoperability testing of command, control, communications and computer systems from participant nations in preparation for future combined humanitarian, peacekeeping and disaster relief operations.

"We've been participants at CE for five years, this year is different, though," said Capt. Trey Felton, plans and readiness flight commander, 86th AW. "We have something new on our agenda."

For CE 07, the squadron rolled out a suite of theater deployable communications equipment. The unit is also providing the satellite communications, or SATCOM, connectivity to the forward operating site in Yerevan, Armenia.

During the two-plus weeks of testing, these Airmen have participated in more than 100 voice and data tests that will be documented by the Joint Interoperability and Testing Center. The JITC is contracted to collect the test data and compile it into the Combined Endeavor Interoperability Guide. The guide is provided to participant nations as a reference for the interoperability of communications information systems. The database currently lists more than 13,000 test results that provide crucial information used in coalition operations.

Of the 100-plus tests scheduled, many included testing a new telephone-switching unit, the high-density exchange switch. "I'm extremely excited about using the HDX. Its physical make-up and design allows us to do more with less. It provides more capability, while at the same time diminishes bulk," said Senior Airman Jason Sampeer, integrated communications access package technician, 1st CBCS.

The HDX is designed to do the work of one large voice module and two basic access modules. The LVM is used as a telecommunications hub while the BAMs are used to branch off the LVM on a larger scale according to the number of users. For example, an LVM could be used at an established forward operating site to provide telephone-switching capabilities. The BAMs would then be used to branch off the LVM like spokes on a wheel. One LVM weighs 185 pounds and each BAM weighs 195 pounds.

An HDX weighs 125 pounds and can do the work of five BAMs or 2.5 LVMs, according to Sampeer.

"The HDX reduces 75 percent of bulk," Airman Sampeer said. Reducing the bulk leads to more effective logistics and less cost.

The test results will aid in determining whether the HDX is a feasible addition to the Air Force inventory where telephone-switching modules are concerned.

"We will use the results we garner here to create a talking paper on the HDX. That paper will, in turn, be presented to the Air Force as support to adapt this new system into our communications inventory," Captain Felton said.

The team is also testing and training on a new quad-band dual-hub satellite terminal. The hub is capable of servicing 12 end users.

"This equipment has only been in our unit's inventory for a year and has only been deployed twice before," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Evans, 1st CBCS NCO in charge of satellite wideband communications systems.

"This satellite dish is powerful. The dual hub enhances our reach-back capability which allows redundant paths for voice and data," Captain Felton said. He said his team is taking full advantage of the time here in Lager Aulenbach. "CE gives us the opportunity to work out some minor issues and to gain invaluable training time on the new hub."

While testing and training on two relatively new sets of communication equipment, the airmen are getting an education in cultural interoperability as well.

"This has been such a rewarding event for us in terms of learning more about our own equipment and how it works with that of other nations'," Sergeant Evans said. "Learning how to work with members of other countries has provided me with a foundation of interoperability I will use now and long into the future."

Members of the 1st CBCS are tasked for mobility operations on a regular basis. For example, squadron members deployed to six locations in five countries over a six-week period. The tests results learned here can be applied in those real-world contingencies they are asked to support.

"As the United States Air Force in Europe's premier deployable communications unit, we're proud to work side by side with our partner nations to ensure we can communicate effectively and that we are prepared to handle any contingency operation that may arise in the European, Central and African Command Area of Operations," said Lt. Col. Joe Sublousky, 1st CBCS commander.

Germany debates UAV policy

SOURCE:Flightglobal.com
By Peter La Franchi

Germany’s acquisition of long-endurance UAVs is giving rise to a new domestic political debate over the implications fielding such systems have for its strategic security posture, according to the head of the German parliament’s economic and co-operation subcommittee, Alexander Bonde.


The German parliament approved the purchase of a fleet of five Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Eurohawk configuration high-altitude long-endurance UAVs in January, while a General Atomics MQ-9 Predator B medium endurance system purchase is being explored.


Bonde, who also sits on the parliament’s defence, homeland security and foreign affairs committee, says a domestic debate is looming in Germany over the potential for long-endurance UAVs to act as a catalyst for conflict escalation in future military operations.


He says the development of any weaponised UAV capability will need to be considered as part of that debate, with the German parliament having a controlling say in decisions on the development of new military capabilities as well as their operational use


Addressing the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Unmanned Systems Europe conference in Cologne, Germany, Bonde argued that the Eurohawk purchase sets a precedent for political approvals for a Predator B deal:


“The German air force has for a considerable time now been looking very longingly at the Predator B MALE UAV as a reconnaissance drone. While the ministry has not yet finally made a decision on this procurement, I would be very surprised if the air force would not ultimately be able to see their wish fulfilled.”


The Eurohawk purchase attracted criticism, he acknowledges, but on a limited scale: “While not uncontroversial, the decision to introduce Eurohawk was carried by a large majority in the parliament.”


Bonde said the “uniquely German” debate now emerging is likely to focus on “the progressive asymmetry of conflicts. Much has been written and said about asymmetric warfare in recent years. We all know that asymmetry has two dimensions – the asymmetry of weakness and the asymmetry of strength.


“The technologically inferior parties in a conflict are forced to make a strength out of their weakness by terrorism by partisan activities on their own territory or terrorism in the enemy’s territory. The goal of the combatants is to make themselves seem invulnerable by virtue of the fact that they are unidentified.


“The asymmetry of strength also has invulnerability as its goal. In its case the combatant is invulnerable by virtue of being unattainable and as we make greater use of UAVs in conflicts, we further increase that effect. I mean it is our aim, particularly in stabilisation operations, to be as technologically advanced as possible and within reason, to expand and retain a technological lead.”


Bonde added: “The more we are able to do this with UAVs, the greater will be the incentive and the compulsion for our opponents to themselves to resort to asymmetric warfare, with all the magic consequences. This is not an argument against using UAVs, but it is a development that we have to bear in mind because every weapons system and every strategy brings a reaction from the other side. It is essential that this be considered in advance.”


Introduction of long-endurance UAVs will pose particular problems for the parliament in terms of approvals for their release for operations.


“Does deployment of a UAV require a mandate?” Bonde asked. “It is a new question that we have to decide upon, as well as what such a mandate would look like. To pre-empt such a debate I personally think yes, it would. The political and security policy implications of a deployment exist regardless of whether a system or platform is manned or not. But as systems become more strategically available, parliament must take this into consideration.


“Either the mandate for a foreign mission will have to be restricted so that there is no grey area with respect to deployments different in nature from what was originally intended – that would be a solution that restricts the military scope for action – or every UAV that leaves German airspace, including the operators and logistics support, will have to be considered as a foreign assignment. The first question arising from that is the one from the soldiers’ trade union about the allowances for foreign assignment.
“The other option is that the mandate could specifically state the possible use to which the UAV can be put. Whatever happens in the future of this debate a mandate process must take into account the particularities that arise from UAVs.”


Availability of long-endurance UAVs as an alternative to deploying ground forces could prove an attractive option to the parliament, Bonde said, “but it is essential that this does not mean we make things easier for ourselves, for our own convenience, because in the end we are still talking about very important decisions concerning our own security and concerning the security of other people.


“Even the deployment of pure reconnaissance sensors has security repercussions that the politicians must take into consideration. We all know the examples in history where sheer reconnaissance aircraft ratchet up a crisis – you will remember the shooting down of the U2 over the Soviet Union or the incident in China where the crew was taken. The danger of soldiers being lost in such cases does not arise with UAVs, but the escalation effect might remain the same.


“We should therefore not allow ourselves to forget about those potential consequences and we need to go into a debate about how we should react to those kinds of thoughts. I think possibly it would be easiest to treat UAVs in philosophical terms as if they are manned.”


The Predator B’s inherent weapons capability raises the question of how Germany will retain man in the loop involvement in future UAV operations, whether or not the platforms are in fact armed. “At the moment nobody in Germany plans to arm UAVs and the air force plans involve only pure reconnaissance versions of Predator. But the fact of its availability raises the possibility of questions concerning armament,” Bonde said.


Bonde told the conference that the introduction of Predator B by Germany will “involve something of a tight-rope walk. Technical possibilities and availability will naturally exert a pressure on the hitherto broadly shared position against arming UAVs.”

Blended Wing UAV

Blended Wing UAV

Source: CompositesWorld.com

Unique unmanned craft’s robust composite design a plus for rough duty.

By Staff | May 2007


The booming unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market continues to expand with hundreds of designs competing for military and civilian contract dollars worldwide. While UAV wingspans range from commercial airliner size down to palm-sized micro flyers, small long-endurance “tactical” UAVs, those that support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), are becoming key components of military and homeland security missions. One of the more innovative tactical UAVs on the market is the compact (10-ft/3m wingspan) “blended wing” Killer Bee Unmanned Aircraft (KB-UA) produced by Swift Engineering Inc. (San Clemente, Calif.).

Swift, founded in 1983, is well known among automotive enthusiasts for its winning open-wheel race car chassis designs and composite components. But, says Larry Reding, Swift’s Killer Bee program manager, the company wanted to diversify. “Our car-racing legacy and staff skills gave us solid experience that we were able to apply to other markets.”


Mark Page, the company’s chief scientist and aerospace designer, together with aerospace engineer Matt McCue, developed the KB-UA. The current model, KB-UA-4, builds on previous experimental prototypes that first flew in 2003. Although a marketing partner relationship with Northrop Grumman Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.) ended several months ago, Swift continues to develop the KB-UA-4, says Page. “We’ve developed an inexpensive way to make a rugged UAV, and we think there’s a market for it.” Fusing the fuselage with the wings Page, who once worked at NASA and is the company’s expert on blended wing concepts, claims that Swift was the first to develop a blended wing UAV, which is similar to but subtly different from the “flying wing,” a design that has existed since the early days of aviation. A flying wing has no separate fuselage and is made up only of wing structure. Several flying wing variants have flown successfully, including Nazi Germany’s Horten Ho-229, Northrop’s YB-49 and probably the best-known example, the B-2 Spirit bomber developed by Northrop Grumman in the late 1980s. The KB-UA differs in that it has a distinct fuselage, which is flattened to form an aerodynamic airfoil. Its aft-swept wings merge smoothly with the fuselage body to form a tail-less, arrowhead-like shape with slender, downturned outer wings. NASA is considering a similar blended wing design for future large cargo aircraft (see photo at right). While flight stability can be tricky minus a traditional tail, with its moveable control surfaces, Swift has addressed this by incorporating movable flaps at the back of the craft’s outer wings, whose droop assists in yaw stability.

Swift adopted the concept for the KB-UA for several reasons. First, merging the wings and fuselage into a single airfoil significantly reduces aerodynamic drag, improving fuel economy. Second, KB-UA is considered a “thick” airfoil when compared to traditional thin-skinned, fragile flat wings, says McCue, giving it better structural efficiency: “The aircraft’s thicker airfoil and triangular shape means less material is needed to achieve required airframe stiffness as compared to a traditional rib-and-spar wing design, which saves material and manufacturing cost,” he explains. It makes the craft inherently rugged and much less susceptible to damage.

McCue also notes that the design maximizes the aircraft’s volume-to-wingspan ratio, allowing a disproportionately large payload capacity — comparable to UAVs with a 30 to 50 percent larger wingspan — in a compact package. For example, the ScanEagle UAV, built by The Insitu Group (Bingen, Wash.) in partnership with The Boeing Co., Seattle, Wash. (see end note), is a small, traditional tube-and-wing design now in military service with a 10 ft/3m wingspan that carries about 7 lb/3 kg of equipment in combat missions. By contrast, he says, the KB-UA, with the same wingspan, has a 30-lb/14-kg payload capacity. Design for rough duty For the Killer Bee, the Swift team had to meet several key project objectives: a manageable system for launch and recovery in the field; a lightweight airframe to maximize the aircraft’s long-term loiter capabilities in day or night operations; and structural durability to withstand extreme environments. McCue and Page used a suite of software to optimize the KB-UA’s shape, aerodynamics and composite structure. SolidWorks 3-D CAD software (SolidWorks, Concord, Mass.) helped define the craft’s initial shape, while NEiNastran, supplied by Noran Engineering Inc. (Westminster, Calif.), was used to size and develop the airframe structure and laminate schedule to meet anticipated loads.


Source: NASA

NASA’s blended wing body (BWB) for large civil and military cargo craft has been under consideration since 2000. A 1/10th scale remotely controlled concept built by The Boeing Co., dubbed the X-48B, was scheduled for a test flight in April at Edwards Air Force Base (NASA is partnered with The Boeing Co. and the Air Force Research Laboratory). The concept continues to generate interest because its shape would mean 20 percent less fuel consumption than today’s tube-and-wing aircraft. The wingspan would be comparable to a Boeing 747 and could operate at existing aircraft terminals. It would also weigh less and generate less noise. The NASA study will determine flight and handling characteristics and how propulsion systems would be integrated.

In contrast to other tactical UAVs, Swift’s operates without a runway. The KB-UA is launched via a trailer-mounted, compressed air-powered catapult and is retrieved with a net deployed from the trailer, enabling operation anywhere that a truck and trailer can travel, an advantage the military calls “organic” capability. The aircraft’s small, two-cylinder, 100-cc gasoline-powered engine sits at the rear of the craft with a pusher propeller, which simplifies retrieval with the net. The craft is fitted with primary net hooks on its nose and secondary hooks on the ends of its winglets (see middle photo, p. 80) that provide for “three-point recovery” to ensure that the craft does not tumble out of the net and incur damage. Its autonomous control system doesn’t require a ground pilot, and the craft can be maneuvered easily via a joystick. (Multiple aircraft can be controlled using a single controller.)

For this launch/recovery scenario, the team considered flight loads (launch and propulsion thrust, lift, drag, wind gusts, net-recovery loads), mass inertial forces (produced by payload equipment and the fuel load) and ground forces — the inevitable abuse incurred during handling. Reding says that between 15 and 20 “strenuous” load cases were developed, incorporating launch and recovery accelerations/decelerations of 15 Gs and safety factors ranging from 1.3 to 3. To facilitate handling and shipping, the downturned outer wings are removable via reusable screw-type metallic fasteners. “We adopted a spiral design approach — when the model showed that stresses were too high on areas of the airframe, like the outer wing joints, we adjusted the layup and added plies, then reran the FEA analysis.”

To minimize weight yet obtain the highest strength and stiffness for sustained operations, the airframe was designed with carbon/epoxy composites, using a combination of cored and solid laminates made from unidirectional and plain-weave prepregs. Total laminate thickness varies from as little as 0.030 inch to 0.100 inch (0.75 mm to 2.5 mm) depending on location. Ply buildups are added along the leading edges of the wings and fuselage nose, for example, for added strength.

The optimized airframe permits the KB-UA to loiter over a target for up to 24 hours at low altitudes of around 3,000 ft/914m or as many as 15 hours at higher elevations, says the company. When its fuel is spent, the KB-UA automatically flies back to its launch site for capture in the net.

A triangular spar, resembling a billiards rack about 3 ft/1m on a side, provides the primary structure for the main fuselage/wing body. Made from phenolic honeycomb-cored sandwich panels with unidirectional carbon/epoxy prepreg skins, the spar creates a large interior area for a payload, which can include cameras, radar equipment, ordnance or other cargo. Fuselage and wing skins, leading edges, trailing edges and the outer wings are solid laminates. A large access panel on the craft’s upper fuselage skin allows easy loading and unloading of cargo and equipment. Like the outer wings, the access panel is attached with removable metallic fasteners.Two bulbous sensor “turrets” that protrude from the aircraft’s underbelly house the cameras and sensors. Reding notes that the turrets, which must be made of fiberglass to permit electromagnetic transparency, were designed as integral parts of the airframe rather than as removable components requiring separate layup and cure. “We devised a lamination plan that transitions from the primary carbon/epoxy used for the airframe to the fiberglass of the turrets or radomes, with overlap plies and ply drops, so that everything can be fabricated and cocured in one tool.” Flight operations can occur from daylight hours into night because one turret can be equipped with a visible light sensor and the other with an infrared sensor, a big plus for potential customers. Reding says that the detachable outer wings, which are solid fiberglass laminates, can be fabricated with embedded sensors to function as antennae or radomes.


Source: Swift Engineering

This view of the underside of the Killer Bee shows the two integral fiberglass turrets or radomes, cocured with the rest of the structure.

“We’ve tried to create a system that is very functional and modular for field operation — wings, engines, fasteners are line-replaceable,” states Reding.

The flat triangular shape of the craft, with few complex curves or shapes, means that fabrication is straightforward. Tooling for the KB-UA was designed in-house with an eye toward simplifying layup and minimizing secondary bonding and finishing operations as much as possible. While some of the tools are steel, most are composite, built using carbon/epoxy tooling prepreg from Airtech International Inc. (Huntington Beach, Calif.).


Source: Swift Engineering

A Killer Bee, ready for launch on a compressed-air-powered launcher. Net recovery hooks can be seen at the tips of the downturned fiberglass outer wings.

The standard- and intermediate-modulus prepregs for the airframe layup are supplied by Advanced Composites Group (ACG, Tulsa, Okla.) and Ten Cate Advanced Composites USA (formerly Bryte Technologies Inc., Morgan Hill, Calif.). McCue notes that an automated ply cutter from Gerber Technology Inc. (Tolland, Conn.) helps reduce production time by nesting and precutting prepreg plies. Wherever possible, he adds, subassemblies are cocured in the same tools, thereby minimizing postcure assembly and finishing. Shape of things to come? KB-UA-3, the previous prototype, was successfully demonstrated to the U.S. Air Force in mid-2006 at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Now the company is competing against many others to win a joint U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS/Tier II unmanned aircraft system contract, which would place UAVs in service by 2010. Reding says the current KB-UA-4 model has flown successfully and is ready to enter production. Several hundred could be built on the existing tooling at a rate of two or three per day.


Source: Swift Engineering

A Killer Bee approaches the recovery net. The pusher propeller arrangement ensures that the propeller and engine aren’t damaged during recovery.

“The Killer Bee is strong and robust enough that it could be dropped from a moving aircraft,” notes Reding. One defense writer predicts swarms of small UAVs like the KB-UA may be used to overwhelm an enemy’s defenses. Swift’s entry in this rapidly evolving market is a game-changing design.

Japan police raid naval college over defence leak

Sat May 19, 2007 1:18AM EDT


TOKYO (Reuters) - Civilian and military police raided a historic naval college in western Japan on Saturday over leaked data on the missile defence system Tokyo shares with Washington.

The leak of sensitive information on the high-tech Aegis radar system, used by the United States on ships fitted with SM-2 ballistic missile interceptors, worried Washington and came as the two countries pledged closer defence ties.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates voiced his deep concern when he met Japanese counterpart Fumio Kyuma in April.

Police believe the unauthorized information may have circulated at the First Service School in Etajima, about 700 km (440 miles) west of Tokyo, Kyodo news agency said.
Reuters Pictures

The case came to light in March when a junior naval officer married to a Chinese woman was found with a computer disk containing confidential information about the Aegis system, which he was not authorized to possess.

Other officers were found with similar data and police have since been investigating the route of the leak.

Japan speeded up implementation of its missile defence program after North Korea fired a volley of missiles last year. One of Japan's Aegis ships is set to be fitted with SM-2 missiles, similar to those operated by the United States, by the end of this year.

INDIAN PM INAUGURATES MEETING OF THE KENDRIYA SAINIK BOARD

15:49 IST
The Prime Minister Dr. Mammohan Singh has underlined the need for a mechanism at the district and state level to monitor the redressal of the grievances of the ex-servicemen. Inaugurating the 27th Meeting of the Kendriya Sainik Board in New Delhi today, the Prime Minister has also urged to accord high priority to the needs of war widows and the war disabled. He said their welfare should be given high priority. He said state governments should also consider introducing e-enabled services for dissemination of relevant information and guidance for the benefit of ex-servicemen through dedicated websites.

The Defence Minister Shri A K Antony in his address called for optimal utilization of the services of the ex-servicemen by the State Governments. In this regard he suggested that every state and union territory should raise, at least, one battalion each of ex-servicemen for afforestation. Shri Antony called upon the states to fill up the posts lying vacant in various Rajya Sainik Boards and Zila Sainik Boards. Referring to the ex-servicemen contributory health scheme, the Defence Minister urged the State Governments to provide necessary assistance in land acquisition and construction of poly-clinics so that the scheme becomes fully operational.

Referring to the increased understanding between the defence services and the corporate sector with regard to the employment opportunities for the ex-servicemen, the Minister thanked ASSOCHAM for making a commitment for absorbing about 10,000 ex-servicemen in the corporate sector. Shri Antony said Directorate General, Resettlement is exploring the possibility of providing Ex-Servicemen suitable jobs in Delhi Transport Corporation and Delhi Metro. With the Commonwealth Games scheduled in the year 2010, there will not be any dearth of employment opportunities for Ex-Servicemen, he added.

Earlier the Prime Minister gave away trophies to the States and Union Territories for their performance in the collection of Armed Forces Flag Day Fund during the year 2006. The trophy for highest collection in the state category was bagged by Maharashtra while in the Union Territory category it went to Chandigarh. The trophy for highest per capita collection in the State category went to Tamil Nadu while in the Union Territory category it was again the turn of Chandigarh.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Defence Shri M M Pallam Raju, Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh, Governor of Punjab, Chief Ministers of Haryana and Uttarakhand, the three Service Chiefs, Defence Secretary Shri Shekhar Dutt and various other high dignitaries from States, Union Territories.

The Kendriya Sainik Board is an apex body of the Government of India which makes recommendation towards formulating policy for the welfare of ex-servicemen, war widows, disabled soldiers and their families. The Board is headed by Defence Minister. Chief Ministers / Ministers of various states and union territories and three Service Chiefs are among its members.

samir / hs


EX-SERVICEMEN’S WELFARE IS A THRUST AREA FOR GOVERNMENT: PM

PM INAUGURATES MEETING OF KENDRIYA SAINIK BOARD
11:52 IST
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has said that the subject of welfare of ex-servicemen has been identified as the thrust area of the government’s functioning and the Prime Minister’s Office is monitoring it regularly and very closely. Speaking after inaugurating the XXVII meeting of Kendriya Sainik Board, here today, Dr. Singh said that ex-servicemen are national resources and “by drawing on this very valuable national resource we would not only be helping our ex-servicemen but also provide skilled human resources in many critical areas of our economy and indeed not to utilize this vast talent pool would be an act of not doing justice to the vast latent talent bank that exists amongst our ex-servicemen. “

Union Defence Minister, Shri A.K. Antony, Ministers of State in Defence Ministry, Shri Pallam Raju and Shri Rao Indrajit Singh, were among those present on the occasion.

Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address at the inauguration:

“I am indeed happy to be here today for this very important meeting.

The welfare and well being of our soldiers, ex-servicemen, widows and their dependents have always been a subject very close to my heart.

Indeed, the subject of ex-servicemen’s welfare has in fact been identified by me as a thrust area of the Government’s functioning and my Office is monitoring it regularly and very closely.

I believe that the most befitting tribute we can pay to the exemplary sacrifices that our valiant soldiers have made for the nation, is for us to look after them in the best possible manner after they retire.

The Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare is indeed making consistent efforts for re-employment / placement of ex-servicemen in different sectors with the cooperation of the State Governments, trade and industry organizations and other agencies. But I do recognize that the more energetic efforts are needed in this direction. And all of us have an obligation to explore more effective ways and means to provide opportunities for gainful employment for our ex-servicemen once they retire.

I have learnt that the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri has written to all the Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors to strengthen the Rajya Sainik Boards and Zila Sainik Boards so that they are able to help retiring soldiers in finding suitable second careers in civil life. Our soldiers retire at a comparatively very young age and their valuable experience, skills and disciplined services can be gainfully utilized and must be so utilised. Their services can be used in a host of fields like transportation, administration, medicine, aviation, security, tourism and the now fast emerging IT industry, to name just a few. By drawing on this very valuable national resource we would not only be helping our ex-servicemen but also provide skilled human resources in many critical areas of our economy and indeed not to utilize this vast talent pool would be an act of not doing justice to the vast latent talent bank that exists amongst our ex-servicemen.

Therefore, I believe, these Boards need to work in close cooperation with various Government and non-Government agencies as well as the corporate sector to combine efforts to improve the lot of our ex-servicemen and their dependents. Large segment of our society in the public sector, private sector, central government and the state government must pool their wisdom, knowledge and experience to provide gainful opportunities for an ever increasing number of ex-servicemen.

I, therefore, request the Ministry of Defence to give high priority to the training aspect as well. To help prepare soldiers on the verge of retirement for a second career, the Directorate General of Resettlement under the aegis of the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, I believe, does organize a number of training programmes these need to be revitalized. Rajya Sainik Boards and Zila Sainik Boards also provide training to ex-servicemen, though that number is not large.

In this context, I note that the year 2007 has been declared as ‘Year of Placement for Ex-servicemen’. A target for employment of 32,650 ex-servicemen during the calendar year 2007 has been set. I do believe it is possible to do better and to see if a quarterly target of 10,000 can be met if not exceeded.

Medical facilities for ex-servicemen and their families are a source of continuing concern. The Ex-servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) provides for comprehensive medical care to ex-servicemen pensioners, war-widows and their dependents. It is good that war-widows and war-disabled pensioners have been exempted from payment of contribution for ECHS membership. The needs of war widows and the war-disabled require more focused and urgent attention. Their welfare should be given very high priority indeed.

I have been informed that under this Scheme the number of functional polyclinics has gone up to 227 and that the majority of these polyclinics have also been linked to referral hospital facilities and diagnostic centre facilities. However, it is also true that the targets set are yet to be achieved, therefore, we need to re-double our efforts in this regard as well. I sincerely hope that the number of these clinics will continue to increase to cater to our population of ex-servicemen and their families. This is an area of urgent action. It is apparent that ex-servicemen and families who stay far from military stations require improved access to medical facilities. Practical solutions to this problem should be found early and found early enough.

I am also happy about recent initiatives taken by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare to strengthen the mechanism for prompt redressal of the grievances of Defence pensioners. These include computerization of the pension sanctioning offices and organizing regular Defence Pension Adalats in different parts of the country. In this context, I believe we need to intensify efforts to ensure that the targets set for Pension Adalats are met.

It is a matter of satisfaction that following our decision taken last year, with effect from 01.01.2006, the pensionary benefits of Personnel Below Officer Rank have improved significantly. This, I believe, has benefited about 12 lakh pensioners.

I take this opportunity to also seek your help for the families of the serving soldiers posted in far-flung locations. As the soldiers are posted far from home, it is difficult for them to attend to the needs of their families, and to deal with property related matters and other personal issues. To assist them we need a mechanism by which at the District level, the Collector, and at the State level a nominated senior officer can every quarter review the status of grievance redressals. Such grievance redressal meetings for the benefit of ex-servicemen can be organised in conjunction with the Sainik Boards in States on the lines of Pension Adalats.

State Governments could also consider introducing e-enabled services for dissemination of relevant information and guidance for the benefit of Ex-servicemen through dedicated web sites.

Last year I announced a scheme to provide scholarships for the children of ex-servicemen to pursue professional education in management studies, engineering, medicine and a variety of other disciplines. The scheme is being funded from the National Defence Fund and I believe that there is no better way to repay the debt we owe to our ex-servicemen than to provide for the education of their children. I am very happy that in the very first year of the scheme itself we have awarded scholarships to 3,915 meritorious students from the families of our ex-servicemen and paramilitary forces. This is a small recognition of the great contribution that our armed forces make to the protection of our liberties, to the strengthening of our vital borders and promotion of our vital national interests.

The Kendriya Sainik Board is an apex body which makes recommendations towards formulating policies for the welfare of ex-servicemen, war widows, disabled soldiers and their families. The various agencies of the Government, which deal with these matters, will give careful consideration to these recommendations.

I thank Hon’ble Raksha Mantriji for inviting me to this very important event and I hope that many useful suggestions and initiatives for the welfare of our soldiers and their families will emerge from this meeting. I wish you all the success in your endeavours.”

******

DS/SKS

France: Sarkozy's Balancing Act

Source: Stratfor

May 18, 2007 19 49 GMT


Summary

New French President Nicolas Sarkozy named his Cabinet on May 18, radically revamping the government. Sarkozy is attempting to strike a balance between old and new ideas, among different ethnicities in France and among all sides of the political spectrum. Though such strategic choices show that Sarkozy wants a more active and dynamic government, the diversity could cause even more deadlock than before.

Analysis


New French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his recently appointed Prime Minister Francois Fillon named the new Cabinet on May 18, radically revamping the government and showing how the young president intends to shift France. Unlike his predecessor Jacques Chirac, Sarkozy has shown that he wants to be actively involved in his new government and not just pass away his term sitting at the Elysee Palace.

On his campaign trail Sarkozy set an ambitious agenda, including tax cuts, changes in workplace regulations, increasingly stringent immigration restrictions and a more efficient government. His list of goals is enough to run afoul of both France's right and left. But Sarkozy's new Cabinet is an attempt to strike a balance -- and perhaps a little peace -- between genders, ethnicities, levels of experience and political philosophies.

Sarkozy's Cabinet overhaul began with its size. Saying it would make the government more efficient, Sarkozy shrank the Cabinet from 30 ministers, divided between senior and junior ministers, to 15 ministers total. The Cabinet is made up of eight men and seven women and is balanced in age, with ministers ranging in age from 39 to 67. The same diversity is seen in the ministers' levels of experience; many are old technocrats familiar with greasing the wheels, and many are newer politicians who had not reached the senior level before.

The most striking decisions Sarkozy made were his calculated choices for the prime, foreign, defense and justice ministries -- four of the most powerful positions.

The new prime minister, Fillon, is much like Sarkozy. Both were raised under the ideology of Gaullism and worked with Chirac in government, but both pushed aside the ideals of the past after seeing Chirac flounder. Fillon has a knack for pushing through reforms without arousing too much personal dislike -- a rare talent in France. Fillon and Sarkozy share a vision of where France is headed and how to move it in that direction.

In one of Sarkozy's boldest and most strategic moves, he chose two ministers who are sure to throw his competitors -- Segolene Royal and Francois Bayrou - off-balance. Herve Morin, a centrist faithful to Bayrou, will be the new defense minister, and Bernard Kouchner of Royal's Socialist party will be foreign minister. Morin is a good candidate to bring in after the rightist Michele Alliot-Marie vacates the office, and a good choice to work with the left-leaning Kouchner.

Kouchner is a very interesting choice for foreign minister outside of his political affiliations; his resume boasts that he is the co-founder of the Nobel Prize-winning Medecins Sans Frontieres and was the first administrator for the United Nations in Kosovo in 1999-2000. Kouchner will take over as foreign minister during a strategic shift in France. Sarkozy's election marked the end of Gaullism in France and Europe. Kouchner is as Washington-friendly as a Frenchman can be and was one of the few French politicians to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Both Morin and Kouchner are being tagged as defectors by their parties, and the Socialists are said to be giving Kouchner the boot. However, Kouchner and Morin bring Sarkozy and his Cabinet -- which will contain some Chirac loyalists -- a balance with the outside political parties.

Sarkozy knows his new Ministry of Immigration, Integration and National Identity -- which is intended to crack down drastically on immigration -- will be met with significant resistance and rioting. To counter the escalating ethnic and social unrest, Sarkozy named Rachida Dati as justice minister, making her France's first ethnic minority in a senior Cabinet position. It is hoped that Dati, who is half Algerian and half Moroccan, will bridge the gap between the government and the large Muslim and Arab populations in France.

Sarkozy will have a tough future keeping the balance within this government. Such a diverse government will force some ministers to either work with or blockade their political opposites and could fail even before it begins. The government also could be shaken up soon, as parliamentary elections are less than a month away. However, this Cabinet does at least prove that Sarkozy is serious in having a more dynamic and active government -- something not seen for a long time in France.

China, U.S.: An Economic Consensus

Source: Stratfor

May 18, 2007 17 52 GMT


Summary

China has widened the trading band for the yuan from 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent effective May 21. The increase precedes Vice Premier Wu Yi's visit to Washington to meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for the annual U.S.-China Strategic Dialogue. Beijing's move is part of a series of steps to demonstrate progress on currency and trade issues designed to respond to U.S. pressure on Chinese economic policies. The Chinese, the U.S. administration and even the U.S. Congress agree that while change is needed, China should move methodically rather than drastically alter its economic policies.

Analysis

The People's Bank of China announced May 18 that the daily spot market trading band for the yuan against the dollar will widen from 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent beginning May 21. The change comes ahead of Vice Premier Wu Yi's visit to Washington for the latest round of the U.S.-China Strategic Dialogue. The widening of the trade band is not entirely unexpected; Premier Wen Jiabao hinted nearly as much back in 2006.

The shift is part of a series of gradual steps by China to alter its economic policies -- a slow process that has the backing and cooperation of the U.S. administration. And even the U.S. Congress, which talks of 27 percent tariffs on Chinese-made goods, in reality has little desire to see a massive and rapid shift in Chinese currency and trade policies, despite the domestic political benefits of keeping the issue front-and-center.

Facing continued pressure from the United States, in 2005 Beijing broke from its fixed yuan peg to the dollar and established a floating peg, with a maximum 0.3 percent daily band. The gradual appreciation of the yuan since then has already moved the yuan past the Hong Kong dollar in relation to the U.S. dollar. (At one time it was thought the yuan would cease its rise when it reached parity with the Hong Kong dollar.) Generally, the increase in the yuan has tracked the rise of other major Asian currencies like the South Korean won and the Singapore dollar over the past two years. The Japanese yen stands in sharp contrast, having lost more than 10 percent of its value compared to the U.S. dollar over the past 24 months, whereas the yuan, won and Singapore dollar have all risen more than 7 percent.




Widening the trading band (which nearly doubles the potential appreciation rate of the yuan) is just one of several steps Beijing is taking ahead of Wu's visit to Washington. Chinese officials have announced additional export tariffs on key sectors, including steel; raised reserve requirements for banks (an attempt to slow lending for stock market speculation); and raised interest rates again. Beijing also has launched a number of trade initiatives to increase China's imports and refocus investment in China into higher-value-added industries, rather than in low-end manufacturing (which makes up a large portion of China's exports).

But even as China makes shifts and adjustments, the government does not want rapid or massive shifts in China's economic structure. It appears the U.S. administration agrees. The strategic dialogue, established by then-Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, is now overseen on the U.S. side by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. It is part of an arrangement between Washington and Beijing gradually to adjust the trade balance, China's economic policies and China's broader role in international politics. It is an extension of the so-called "responsible stakeholder" dialogue floated by Zoellick in 2005, and marks Washington's recognition that there is a better chance of managing and shaping Chinese economic and political evolution through cooperation and coercion rather than confrontation.

This also fits with Beijing's strategic view of balancing its global relations by focusing first and foremost on its relationship with the United States. China sees the next five years as a crucial time for managing relations with Washington, particularly during the transition from the Bush administration to whatever follows it, whether it be a Republican or Democratic administration. The appointment of former Ambassador to the United States Yang Jiechi as foreign minister reflects this strategic focus in Beijing, as does the creation of the Center for China-U.S. Relations Studies at the Foreign Ministry's China Institute of International Studies in December 2006.

The U.S. Congress, however, has been seen as an outlier, as a source of uncontrolled pressure from the United States on China. This has become particularly true with the new Democratic-controlled Congress and its acrimonious relation with the Bush administration. It is from Congress that calls for 27.5 percent tariffs on Chinese goods originate (the bill repeatedly proposed by U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.) and in Congress where the trade balance and Chinese economic restrictions are raised quite vociferously. But while Congress likes to talk about China and threaten large-scale economic retaliations against real or perceived unequal trade practices, Congress also is rather slow to actually move on these issues.

China-bashing, particularly on the economic front, is a very popular play in U.S. politics, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle participate with gusto. But even some of the biggest China-bashers have noted that they have little desire actually to pass their extreme punitive trade bills against Beijing, but rather want to use them to shape Beijing's perceptions and its ultimate actions. Things like a 27 percent tariff on all Chinese-manufactured goods might hurt China, but they also would hit U.S. businesses that have invested in and moved manufacturing to China to take advantage of the cost savings. These same businesses also are the financial backers of many Congressional campaigns. And even Congress' constituents are not necessarily best-served by a massive and rapid shift in the U.S.-Chinese trade patterns, as American consumers have grown quite fond of the low-cost imports.

Despite the noise and heated debates, Wu's visit thus will be one of quiet cooperation. Though raising a cry about Chinese trade and currency practices is politically expedient for Congress, even Congress is quietly satisfied with gradual, rather than rapid, change -- something easier to manage on both sides of the Pacific.

Related Headlines

India:Kashmiri Militants, Communal Tensions and the Mosque Bombing

Source: Stratfor

India: Kashmiri Militants, Communal Tensions and the Mosque Bombing
May 18, 2007 16 27 GMT


Tensions are high in Hyderabad, India, after an explosion during Friday prayers at the city's Mecca Mosque on May 18, in which at least five people were killed and 27 were injured. Many Muslims in the area, angered by the attack, reportedly are pelting local businesses and police forces with stones. The explosion took place far from the information technology business community in Hyderabad's northern suburbs, but businesses in the area should exercise caution.

While Hindu extremists in the area could easily be blamed for the attack, the bombing could well be the work of Kashmiri Islamist groups expanding their presence in southern India.

The idea of Muslims attacking fellow Muslims to incite riots is anomalous in India, though not completely unprecedented. In September 2006, a series of coordinated explosions killed 37 people and injured more than 125 in a Muslim cemetery next to a mosque in the northern town of Malegaon (about 180 miles northeast of Mumbai) in the state of Maharashtra. Most of those killed were Muslim pilgrims who were attending Friday prayers on the Shab-e-Baraat holy day. After a series of arrests and investigations, Maharashtra police reported that the attack was the work of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). India's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) then reported in November 2006 that the main perpetrator of the attack, whose nom de guerre is Shabbir Batterywala, is a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative who was working with SIMI member Raees Ahmad. Another member of SIMI, Noor-ul-Huda, reportedly admitted after his arrest that he organized the attack.

These militant Islamist groups have traditionally focused on Hindu targets to provoke extremist Hindu groups into retaliating against Muslims across India, along the lines of what happened in 1993 in Mumbai and 2002 in Gujarat when Hindu mobs went on violent rampages against Muslims, resulting in some of the deadliest communal riots in India's history. However, Indians have largely become inured to these militant attacks and have failed to provide the wide-scale, violent response the Islamist groups hope for.

The lack of a Hindu response could have led to a shift in thinking among the Kashmiri Islamist groups operating in India, who might have decided to risk alienating local support by staging attacks against Muslims in hopes of reigniting Hindu-Muslim tensions in locations that have a history of deadly communal violence. (It is important to note that these groups are rooted in Wahhabi doctrine, which justifies attacking mainstream Barelvi and secular Muslims.)

This strategy carries its fair share of flaws, however, as India's Muslim community is largely moderate and generally feels integrated within the Indian republic. Without much of a radical streak to draw from within India's Muslim population, the Kashmiri Islamist groups are likely to face a major popular backlash.



India: The Mecca Mosque Bombers' Poor Tradecraft
May 18, 2007 17 18 GMT


Police forces were on high alert and security was tightened at potential targets in India on May 18 following the explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) at the Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad that left at least seven people dead and more than two dozen injured. Two more live IEDs reportedly were defused at the mosque, located in the Charminar area of Hyderabad's old city.

Although it is unclear who is behind the bombing, the attackers' poor tradecraft indicates it was the work of a relatively inexperienced militant cell, and not one directly linked to one of India's more established militant groups. Regardless, the attack is likely to fuel Hyderabad's already tense relations between Hindus and Muslims.

The IED exploded around 1:30 p.m. local time when the mosque was crowded with worshipers performing Friday prayers. The blast occurred near the Wuzukhana, a fountain inside the mosque entrance where worshippers wash their hands and faces before praying. The two other devices had been placed near the entrance to the mosque complex, though it is unclear whether the devices were meant to target arriving worshippers or first responders and fleeing worshippers following the initial blast.

The failure of the other two bombs and the timing of the explosion indicate poor tradecraft on the part of the bombers. Poor design or workmanship in the detonation mechanism, remote controls or the actual composition of the explosives could have been what prevented the other devices from detonating. Moreover, the bomber would have wanted to maximize the casualty count, and would have timed the blast to coincide with the worshippers' arrival at the Wuzkuhana. Instead, the explosion occurred during prayers, when most worshippers already had washed and moved away from the fountain. Indian officials said the bomb would have killed many more people had it detonated a few minutes earlier, before prayers started. Because the bomb was detonated remotely, the bomber likely estimated when the fountain would be crowded, rather than having eyes on the target before triggering the device.




The Mecca Mosque, built in the 17th century, is the main, established mosque in Hyderabad. Rather than catering to one of India's many Muslim offshoot sects, which are considered heretical by orthodox Muslims, the mosque draws its congregation from the city's mainstream Sunni community.

The attack, the third major bombing of a mosque in India in the past 13 months, follows the attacks against the Maani Mosque in Maharashtra state and the Jamia Mosque in New Delhi. In all cases, the bombs detonated during or after Friday prayers, when mosques generally are the most crowded. In many cases, attacks against mosques are followed by riots, reprisal bombings of Hindu temples, and communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.

Hyderabad has seen militant activity before -- and been the scene of some of the country's worst communal violence -- but this is the first major attack against a mosque. Within minutes of the bombing, crowds of angry Muslims threw stones at Indian police, claiming they failed to provide adequate security. The police responded by deploying tear gas and firing rubber bullets, reportedly killing four protesters. In response to the bombing and the subsequent police shootings, the Council for Muslim Unity, a mainstream Muslim group, has called for a general strike in Hyderabad, indicating the bombing will only add to the city's already high communal tensions

Intelligence agency urges citizens to defer travel to Pakistan

Intelligence agency urges citizens to defer travel to Pakistan

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's state intelligence agency on Saturday advised citizens to avoid travel to Pakistan until the end of next month, as security is worsening in the country following bloody skirmishes between pro-government and opposition groups.

"We cannot rule out the possibility that South Koreans could accidentally be injured from further clashes as the opposition groups' campaign to oust the Pakistani president is showing signs of spreading and the pro-government forces seem reluctant to back down," the National Intelligence Service said in a statement.

Forty-three people were killed and some 200 injured in the South Asian country's worst political violence in years early this week.

(END)

May 18, 2007

Unease As Rice Meets Iranian Artists

By MATTHEW LEE
The Associated Press: Thursday, May 10, 2007 (published in Washington Post)

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was all smiles Thursday as she met Iranian artists at an event intended to promote cultural links with Iran. Still, there were currents of unease.

Ten of the 14 Iranians who received special visas for the exhibition refused to be photographed with Rice, and two would not even accompany her through the gallery because they were "uncomfortable," two organizers said.

"Art moves above politics and I didn't want to be a part of politics," said Behnam Kamrani, a 39-year-old digital artist from Tehran.

Bahar Behbahni, a 33-year-old mixed media artist from Tehran, added, "It doesn't mean that the artists aren't political or don't (care) about politics. Artists don't want to make political gestures. Our language is our art, we express ourselves through art."

What was billed as a unique and open expression of culture bridging vast political differences between the U.S. and Iran became an exercise in crowd control as the State Department scrambled to prevent reporters from even glimpsing Rice's tour.

All journalists, including those without cameras, were kept in the final room of the exhibit behind two immense wooden doors that opened only when Rice finished and appeared with four of the Iranian artists to say how much she enjoyed the show.

"This is really a great day," she said in brief remarks. "I have so enjoyed seeing the work of these great artists.

"They are representing so well the great culture that Iran has, the great culture that goes back for so many centuries but that is being brought here today so that the American people can see another side of Iran."

Rice's visit was announced Wednesday by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. He said its importance was "the symbolism of the American secretary of state reaching out and demonstrating for the Iranian people an appreciation for products of Iranian culture."

The United States broke diplomatic ties with Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Relations have remained frozen amid mutual recriminations and animosity, notably over Iran's nuclear program, which Washington claims is a cover for atomic weapons development, and alleged Iranian support for insurgents in Iraq and anti-Israel groups.

The cases of three Iranian-American dual citizens detained in Iran and that of a retired FBI agent who has been missing in Iran since early March have further strained the situation.

Still, the State Department has placed great emphasis on cultural, educational and sports exchanges with Iran. The "Wishes and Dreams" exhibition that was to open to the public Friday is just the latest in a series that has already involved doctors, wrestlers and teachers.

Many of the artists whose work is on display at Washington's Meridian International Center said they hoped its presence in the United States would have a positive impact among people in the U.S.

"I am just an artist, I am not an Iranian terrorist and if I can do anything for the peace of the world, that is something I would be proud of," said Mitra Kavian, 43. She was less certain when asked if she thought the exhibit was a step toward better U.S.-Iran ties.

"I don't know," she said. "Maybe, I hope. I don't like war, I like peace everywhere."

Political Crisis Grows in Pakistan -- VOA

By Gary Thomas
Washington
18 May 2007



The dismissal of Pakistan's most senior judge has mushroomed into a domestic political crisis for President Pervez Musharraf. The weakened opposition has found a new vigor to push for an end to President Musharraf's military rule. As VOA correspondent Gary Thomas reports, a showdown appears to be looming.


Gen. Pervez Musharraf addresses 34th session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad, 15 May 2007
President Musharraf has weathered previous challenges to his nearly eight years of military rule, including several assassination attempts. But now he has sailed into what might be called a "perfect political storm" that, analysts say, could sweep him from office.

In a telephone interview, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a sharp critic of Mr. Musharraf, says the situation in Pakistan is precarious.

"It's threatening to spiral out of control," she said. "I think the regime still has initiative in its hands, but it needs to take certain political steps and be ready to make political compromises. But if it sticks to its stand and refuses to negotiate with the opposition, and tries to suppress the opposition movement, then I think the matter will just spiral out of hand."

The stage appears set for such a confrontation. President Musharraf told Pakistan's private Aaj news channel that Ms. Bhutto and another exiled former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, would not be allowed to return to compete in the national elections scheduled for later this year.

"About their return, no, nobody is returning before elections," he said.

But Ms. Bhutto says she will defy the president's ban, and may do it sooner than she had originally planned.

"I certainly plan to go back later this year," she said. "I was planning to do that against the background of the elections. But I am now reviewing the situation in Pakistan. The events are turning over so quickly that I might have to revise my own plans in the coming weeks. I may have to go back sooner. I have taken no such decision as yet. And if the regime fails to take the initiative in defusing the situation, then I may have to review my travel plans."

The crisis began sprouting in March, when President Musharraf suspended the chief justice of the Supreme Court for what he claimed was "misconduct." Critics saw the move as a bid by the president to stifle an uncooperative jurist who refused to endorse Mr. Musharraf's continuing dual role as president and army chief. The suspension bloomed into a rallying point for the president's ouster and a return to civilian democratic rule.


Supporters of Pakistani opposition party run after setting on fire a vehicle during a gun battle between two rival groups in Karachi, 12 May 2007
Over the May 12 weekend, clashes between Musharraf supporters and opponents in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, left more than 40 people dead.

Mr. Musharraf had reportedly been exploring avenues of a possible alliance with Mrs. Bhutto. But, indicative of what analysts say is her own perception of her growing political strength, the former prime minister says any political talks right now would be "inappropriate," and that it is up to Mr. Musharraf to make the first move.

"I'm not in a position to say that I'm willing to talk [anymore], Gary," she said. "I'm just not in a position to say that because there's so much public anger. But I do believe that General Musharraf should reach out to all the political parties, call them to a roundtable conference, and say, 'I've heard your voice, I've heard your anger, I understand that there is a lot of frustration, and what's the solution?'"

Christine Fair, a Pakistan affairs analyst at the U.S. Institute for Peace, questions whether General Musharraf will survive politically or, perhaps, even physically, given that there have been several assassination attempts.

"The U.S. government has steadfastly refused to even contemplate other alternatives [to Musharraf], even as the necessities for other alternatives are fast looming," she said. "And I'm also at this point of the belief that we may get an alternative that no one has even thought of. I mean, the fact that this has happened and the way it has happened has kind of opened up new possibilities for new actors."

The Bush administration has been a staunch supporter of General Musharraf because of his anti-terrorism efforts. Robert Grenier, who was CIA station chief in Islamabad on September 11, 2001, says President Musharraf's departure could complicate U.S. anti-terrorism efforts in Pakistan.

"A new civilian government whose political posture would not be nearly as strong as Musharraf's has been through most of his tenure as president would have to be far more mindful of domestic political impacts of actions that they take against the militants, and I think would not be as inclined as Musharraf has been to take forceful action against them," he said. "So, yeah, I think Musharraf's passage from the scene, one way or the other, would greatly complicate our efforts in the war on terror."
There has been criticism from some official quarters in the U.S. that President Musharraf has himself fallen short on his anti-terror efforts because out of fear of alienating the Islamic political parties - some of whom are openly sympathetic to the Taleban and al-Qaida.





At least 24 people were killed and more than two dozen injured Tuesday in a suicide bombing at an Afghan-owned hotel in Pakistan's north-western city of Peshawar, news reports said.


The blast ripped through the dining hall of the central Marhaba Hotel as crowds of people gathered for lunch. Most of the casualties were Afghans, witnesses said.


"This was a suicide attack," Akram Durrani, the chief minister of the restive North-West Frontier Province, told the Aaj television channel.


"Police have found the bomber's two legs.


"The severed limbs carried a written warning that people caught spying for the United States 'will meet the same fate," he said.


According to hotel staff, the bomber, aged about 60, came to reception asking for food while carrying a sack, the Geo news channel reported. After being told to wait outside, he proceeded to the dining hall and blew himself up.


Police said the device held 4 to 5 kilograms of explosives.


The blast was so powerful it hurled bodies several metres from the building and killed pedestrians and a passing rickshaw driver on the street.


While news channels put the number of dead at 24 and above, a hospital located close to the hotel said it had received only 21 bodies.


Half a dozen of the 29 people injured were in a critical condition, a hospital administration official was reported to have said. Police immediately cordoned off the blast site, which is located near the city's historic 17th-century Mahabad Khan Mosque.


Television footage showed chaotic scenes as the dead and wounded were carried from the building through crowds of security forces and guests. Security was boosted at all airports in Pakistan as well as in the capital, Islamabad, after the attack. President Pervez Musharraf condemned the attack while opposition parties said the military ruler bore responsibility.


Despite heightened security measures in North-West Frontier Province cities, Peshawar has suffered a number of bombings in the past year, some of them suicide attacks.


"However many security arrangements there may be, it is not possible to stop suicide bombings," Durrani said Tuesday.


Some of the attacks were blamed on militants from Pakistan's nearby tribal areas who are said to be taking revenge for government strikes against them. Others have been blamed on Afghan intelligence agents amid rising tensions between Kabul and Islamabad.

Will Srinidhi be stripped of his President's medal?

Will Srinidhi be stripped of his President's medal?

K.V. Subramanya

Naxalite blogs celebrate Police Inspector's fall from grace




N. Srinidhi


BANGALORE: Fraser Town Police Inspector N. Srinidhi, who has been suspended from service following his arrest on the charge of torturing his wife for more dowry, appears to be in for more trouble.

Following his arrest, the State Women's Commission has decided to appeal to the Government to withdraw the President's Gallantry Medal awarded to Mr. Srinidhi.

Women's Commission Chairperson Premila Nesargi told The Hindu she would appeal to the Government to strip Mr. Srinidhi of the honour. "A man arrested for beating his wife should not be given such a coveted medal," she said.

Mr. Srinidhi bagged the Gallantry Medal during the last Independence Day for his role in the killing of the naxalite ideologue Saketh Rajan in an encounter in Chikmagalur district in February 2005.

Mr. Srinidhi, then Kudremukh Police Inspector, was injured in the encounter and was treated at a Bangalore hospital. As Kudremukh Inspector he also received the Chief Minister's Gold Medal for 2004.

Investiture ceremony


The President's Medal awarded to Mr. Srinidhi and other officers on the occasion of Independence Day 2006 is to be presented to them by Governor T.N. Chaturvedi at an investiture ceremony at the Raj Bhavan shortly, sources in the Police Department said. The State Government has no powers to withdraw the medal awarded by the President. But the President can do so if a court convicts the officer, the sources said.

Meanwhile, reports on Mr. Srinidhi's arrest has been prominently posted on naxalite blogs. For instance, naxalrevoloution.blogspot.com has stories with the headlines "Khaki rakshas who killed Comrade Saketh Rajan now in jail for beating his wife" and "Cop decorated for gunning down Maoist jailed for beating wife".

Prior embarrassment


A few days before he was arrested by the Vijayanagar police on May 14, Mr. Srinidhi faced another embarrassing situation. A jury headed by a former High Court Chief Justice had selected him as one of the three best police officers in Karnataka for the awards sponsored by a private Kannada television channel. When the details of the awards were published in a newspaper, a senior IPS officer summoned him to his chamber and took him to task for sending his nomination for the award without the consent of senior officials.

Global Market Brief: Galileo's Failure to Launch

Source: Stratfor
May 17, 2007 19 55 GMT



The European Commission acknowledged May 16 that the Galileo satellite positioning program will need to be fully funded by EU member states, and that the program will have a military function for the European Union. But Galileo still has a major problem: It plans to compete with the free or nearly free services of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), and many EU states see no future conflict with the United States, enjoy unfettered access to GPS and wince at the thought of committing massive public funds to an uncertain program. Despite the European Commission's optimism, Galileo is far from becoming a reality.

As the EU Commission has rightly acknowledged, without its own satellite navigation system, the European Union wholly depends on the U.S. GPS network for its military needs. Satellite positioning grants a host of useful abilities -- from munitions targeting to operational coordination -- that have shaped the U.S. revolution in military operations. But the United States can restrict access to the GPS system in times of conflict. The idea of relying on another country's hardware for military prowess is daunting in a world of shifting alliances and uncertain futures.

The original Galileo plan involved the construction and launch of 30 satellites in 2010, using a mixture of public and private investment in the program. At that point, the price for the program was $4.9 billion, with $1.6 billion coming from member states and private investors filling in the remaining $3.3 billion.

However, after years of squabbling among EU states and skepticism among private interests about the program's ability to yield commercial benefits, the European Commission has decided to go it alone. The new plan, awaiting the EU ministers' approval in June, will cost member states $12 billion, and Galileo will not be operational until 2012. After the initial infrastructure investment, which is expected to provide thousands of jobs, the European Union expects the member states to get a full return on their investment. Operation of Galileo will be turned over to private firms, which will finance operational and management costs.

While EU nations probably could afford to share the yearly maintenance costs of an operational Galileo system, the high up-front cost of $12 billion is a lot to ask right now. The United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain are all in the process of acquiring new aircraft carriers. NATO commitments in Afghanistan are stretching many EU defense budgets as it is. The United Kingdom is also undergoing a major naval modernization. Galileo cannot be a high enough priority for defense budgets right now to see $12 billion.

In pitching the project to member states, EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said that a functional satellite positioning system is essential for Europe's independence in the space age. He tried to sugarcoat the fact that the system will seek out military customers, saying, "You cannot exclude a user because he is military. It will be civilian controlled É but there will be military users." According to Barrot, the satellite navigation market could be worth $610 billion by 2025, of which the European Union would get about $200 billion. But those benefits are optimistic, far down the road and, frankly, ludicrous in light of the fact that the United States already offers these services globally -- for free. The fact is there is simply no market for Galileo.

Galileo would be useful for EU member states' militaries seeking independence from Russian, Chinese and U.S. satellite guidance systems. But not all states in the European Union feel the pressing need to compete with the United States. In particular, the United Kingdom and Denmark have expressed opposition to Galileo, saying there is no need to put extra money into a long-delayed project when membership in NATO grants them access to encrypted GPS signals, which are more accurate than the publicly available signals.

Most EU nations are also NATO members, for whom the prospect of engaging in a conflict that does not involve coordination with the United States -- or is so anathema to U.S. interests that Washington would cut a NATO ally off from the GPS signal -- is not a real enough concern. In the extremely unlikely event that an EU state was cut off from GPS at a key moment, states such as the United Kingdom and Denmark might suddenly find a good reason to support the development of an independent satellite positioning system. But until then, Galileo will not have anything in the way of a customer base, and the European Union as a whole will have a very difficult time getting Galileo off the ground.

Furthermore, considering that the United States will be launching GPS II -- the new and improved network that is still in the development phase but appears to be on track -- Galileo is a satellite system hopelessly behind the advanced U.S. system, expensive and useful only for states that envision a future conflict with the United States.

Until the European Union finds a pressing reason to start paying for capabilities it already gets for free, there is little impetus to stretch already strained defense budgets to launch the Galileo project -- or to pay a private contractor for Galileo's services.

RUSSIA: Russneft President Mikhail Gutseriev faces up to six years in jail after being charged with illegal business practices and tax evasion on May 15. With 4.6 billion barrels of recoverable reserves, Russneft is Russia's ninth-largest oil company. The company -- privately owned by oligarch Gutseriev -- has faced Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft in several competitions, including a battle for Yukos' stake in Transpetrol. With these charges, Gutseriev is clearly on his way out, following in the footsteps of jailed Yukos chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose company was parceled up in auctions that gave Rosneft control over major assets. The absorption of Russneft continues Moscow's pattern of consolidating control over the strategic energy sector.

CHINA: The portrait of Mao Zedong overlooking Tiananmen Square was replaced May 13, a day after a migrant from Xinjiang threw a flaming object at the portrait. The incident highlights crucial security and public relations issues for Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics. Chinese security forces and internal controls are designed to prevent large-scale threats to the Chinese Communist Party; Beijing is finding individual actors and spontaneous local protests much harder to control. With a heavy foreign media presence expected for the games, any politically or economically motivated incidents (and security operations to stop them) will inevitably receive greater international coverage, hence undermining China's desired global image as a stable, investor-friendly environment. As Beijing seeks to use the Olympics to promote a new and improved image, it will find it increasingly hard to hold back from imposing overly heavy restrictions without risking open dissent and "exposing" its internal troubles to the world.

EU/RUSSIA: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will lead an EU delegation to Samara, Russia, for the European Union-Russia summit May 17-18. EU-Russian relations have been strained lately by disputes between Russia and various EU members: Lithuania has withdrawn support for the talks due to a 10-month cut in oil supplies from Russia along the Druzhba pipeline; Poland is in an ongoing trade dispute with Russia over Polish meat; and Estonia fought with Russia over the removal of a Soviet memorial statue in its capital. Furthermore, the Europeans have said one of the main issues between the European Union and Russia -- an agreement that would end taxes for the European use of Siberian airspace for flights to Asia -- will not be resolved during the summit. Europe has said its support for Russia's World Trade Organization bid is contingent upon this agreement. In another indication of the low expectations for the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has decided not to attend the summit. Both sides will walk away from Samara empty-handed.

EU: The European Commission passed a proposal May 16 that would place sanctions -- ranging from fines to jail time -- on companies that hire illegal immigrants. Under the proposal, employers would be liable for taxes, social security and lost wages, and could be disqualified from competing for public contracts. All EU member states have measures against hiring illegal immigrants, but only 19 impose criminal penalties. The measure would have to be endorsed by a majority of the 27 EU members to become law. The European Union currently has an estimated 4 million to 8 million illegal immigrants, with another 500,000 arriving every year. A crackdown on illegal immigrants could harm some EU states' economies, as Europe already faces an aging and shrinking workforce. Immigrants have provided the labor to fill in some of these gaps.

NIGERIA: Nigeria faced increased disruption to its oil supplies in May. Villagers from the K-Dere community of the Ogoni tribe occupied a flow station in the country's southern Niger Delta region May 15-16, demanding improved benefits and repairs to pipelines that have polluted the community. The protest forced Royal Dutch/Shell to reduce its oil output by 170,000 barrels per day. Additionally, attacks on oil infrastructure have escalated and are likely to continue at a high rate through May 29, when the new government is inaugurated. Niger Delta militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has called for other Delta militant groups to join it in attacks leading up to the inauguration in what it has called a "month of mayhem."

VENEZUELA: Venezuelan state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) completed its acquisition of private electricity company Electricidad de Caracas (EDC), purchasing 92.93 percent of shares of the firm for $836.90 million on behalf of the Venezuelan government. U.S. firm AES had held 82 percent of the shares. PDVSA will pay stock exchanges via the Venezuelan Central Bank, which will then pay stockholders for their shares. Shares began formally passing to state ownership May 15 on the Caracas Stock Exchange, and payments were to be made for both U.S. and locally traded shares May 17. The nationalization of EDC was part of a January mandate to assume control of energy and utility operations in Venezuela, the most significant of which was the nationalization of the Orinoco oil projects from six foreign oil majors.

ECUADOR: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said May 12 in his weekly radio address that he plans to propose legislation to prevent private companies from creating monopolies over essential services. The law appears to be aimed at preventing private companies from driving state companies out of business, and could also be used to reverse privatizations that occurred in the mid-1990s, or simply to pressure companies to cut prices. Correa referred to the March purchase of telephone company Ecuador Telecom by Mexican firm Telefonos de Mexico, which could jeopardize state companies Andinatel and Pacifictel. He also criticized the privatization in the mid-1990s of state cement companies La Cemento Nacional, currently owned by Swiss Holcim, and Cementos Selva Alegre, now owned by French cement maker Lafarge. Such a law could have significant ramifications for private firms operating in Ecuador, as they could face harsher restrictions on current and future operations.

UAE/U.S.: The United States and the United Arab Emirates launched the U.S.-UAE Business Council on May 16. The Council, aimed at boosting trade between the countries, was unveiled at a ceremony in Washington attended by U.S. diplomats, officials and executives from some of the largest U.S. corporations, including ExxonMobil and Boeing Co. The UAE is the largest U.S. export market in the Middle East, receiving almost $12 billion worth of imported U.S. goods and services in 2006. Despite cooperation between the countries, economic relations are still somewhat hindered by other issues, including the lack of a free trade agreements and the political debates surrounding the bid by a UAE firm to acquire management rights to six U.S. ports.