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Showing posts from January 18, 2009

Rioting Eastern Europe

23 Jan 2009 Major riots in Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria are spurred by the global financial crisis and declining standards of living, Jeremy Druker writes for ISN Security Watch. By Jeremy Druker in Prague for ISN Security Watch Not one, but three anti-government riots took place in Eastern Europe last week. But with all eyes fixated on the conflict in Gaza and the inauguration of the new US president, the world’s attention was elsewhere - even though these violent demonstrations could very well be a worrying harbinger of things to come later this year. Most media typically interpreted the events in Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania as simply responses to the global financial crisis and the unpopular policies that governments have been forced to adopt to escape economic meltdown. Case closed. Yet, contrary to what editorial writers in the US and Western Europe might believe, large-scale demonstrations do not take place in the “wild” East very often, and certainly not those

Expensive friends in Central Asia

18:44 | 23/ 01/ 2009 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev) - The relatively few agreements signed by President Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to Uzbekistan in no way reflect the breathtaking complexity of the forthcoming changes in global Central Asian policy. It is with good reason that Uzbek President Islam Karimov tried to tone down the signing of agreements by drawing his guest's attention to the fact that "the world is changing very fast, the alignment of forces is changing, and the reference points are changing." He added that "as a country that has always been present in the region and determined the alignment of forces here, Russia should not only track these changes but also direct them." Importantly, new U.S. President Barack Obama plans to wind down operations in Iraq and concentrate on Afghanistan that borders on Uzbekistan. It is clear that Afghanistan poses a global problem, and Russia is closer to it geographic

RUSSIA: The fifth-generation fighter

16:31 | 23/ 01/ 2009 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik) - Russian designers are currently developing a fifth-generation fighter plane, also known as the Advanced Front-Line Aviation Complex (PAK FA) for Russia's Air Force. The new warplane is to replace fourth-generation fighters, namely, the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum. The program caught the public's eye after Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov recently said it must be expedited. The decision to develop the fifth-generation T-50 fighter was made in the early 2000s. The Sukhoi, Mikoyan-Gurevich and Yakovlev design bureaus, who primarily develop new fighters, offered their concepts. The Sukhoi Design Bureau was eventually awarded the program. Various maiden flight and delivery deadlines have been mentioned. The fighter is expected to make its appearance sometime between 2008 and 2010. In late 2008, Colonel General Alexandr Zelin, commander of the Air Force,

Obama's Counter-Terrorism Strategy

By B. Raman The counter-terrorism strategy of President Barack Obama will be different from that followed by his predecessor George Bush. The initial emphasis will be on removing the distortions which had crept into the strategy under Bush in the hope that this would create some goodwill for the US in the Islamic world and using the goodwill thus hopefully generated for enlisting the support of the Muslims in the campaign against Al Qaeda. 2. These distortions were in the form of ethically questionable deviations from the traditional US counter-terrorism practices. Examples of such deviations: Treating the terrorist suspects as prisoners of war and keeping them in an army-controlled detention centre in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and subjecting them to trial by a military tribunal instead of by normal courts; renditions, which are nothing but avoiding the due process of the law by taking the suspects for interrogation to co-operating third countries over which the US judiciary will n

INDIA : CRPF killed 218 terrorists, lost 67 men in 2008

CRPF killed 218 terrorists, lost 67 men in 2008 23 Jan 2009, 0252 hrs IST, TNN NEW DELHI: The CRPF, the lone counter-insurgency central force, killed as many as 218 terrorists, including 103 in Jammu and Kashmir, apprehended over 2,200 suspected terrorists and recovered 8,744 kilograms of explosives during joint operations with state police forces across the country in 2008. During the operations, CRPF lost 67 of its personnel. Though ammonium nitrate and gelatin sticks constitute the maximum of the explosives recovered by the force, the deadly RDX -- which is mainly brought by terrorists from across the border -- accounted for over 800 kg of the seizures. During the year, over 66,300 rounds of ammunition and 1,723 arms, including AK series rifles and Chinese pistols, were also seized by the force from J&K, the north-east and naxal-affected states. Besides in J&K and the north-eastern states, CRPF -- the biggest paramilitary force in the country -- is currently d

OBAMA'S COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGY

B.RAMAN The counter-terrorism strategy of President Barack Obama will be different from that followed by his predecessor George Bush. The initial emphasis will be on removing the distortions which had crept into the strategy under Bush in the hope that this would create some goodwill for the US in the Islamic world and using the goodwill thus hopefully generated for enlisting the support of the Muslims in the campaign against Al Qaeda. 2. These distortions were in the form of ethically questionable deviations from the traditional US counter-terrorism practices. Examples of such deviations: Treating the terrorist suspects as prisoners of war and keeping them in an army-controlled detention centre in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and subjecting them to trial by a military tribunal instead of by normal courts; renditions, which are nothing but avoiding the due process of the law by taking the suspects for interrogation to co-operating third countries over which the US judiciary will no

London Robert Amsterdam, a Lawyer with a Long Reach

IntelligenceOnline.com 22/01/2009 The high profile lawyer of former Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Robert Amsterdam doesn’t appear often in court but deploys his influence through well-placed contacts. Acting in numerous emerging countries where jurisdictions are often unclear or non-existent, the 52-year-old Canadian lawyer Robert Amsterdam , who lives in London, is less known for his eloquence in court than for his capacity to act through the media or place a discreet word in the ear of political luminaries. In cases widely covered by the media, he uses opinion-makers to help defend his customers, among them Mikhail Khodorkovsky who has been behind bars in Siberia since 2005, and the opponent of the Singapore government, Chee Soon Juan , who has been engaged in legal warfare with the city-state since 1992. In such cases, Amsterdam uses every press contact within reach, conducts PR campaigns on the Internet, writes op-eds in newspapers, and speaks at seminars, think-tanks and unive

Emerging Trends in Chinese Economy - Implications for India

By D. S. Rajan The December 18, 2008 grand celebration at Beijing of the 30th anniversary of introduction of China’s Reforms and Opening up policy in 1978, in a top national level meeting with a well-publicised keynote address by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) supreme Hu Jintao, has been an event of high significance for the regime. It reflected the recognition of the leadership in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), rightly so, that without that initiative three decades ago, the country could not have risen as a global economic and political power. It is another point that the occasion was politically used by the CCP to prove its legitimacy before the public as a ruling party. This being so, it cannot be denied that achieving an average annual growth of 9.6% in thirty years since 1978, has been a feat unprecedented among the developing nations. With 13% growth in 2007, as revised very recently by China, the country has overtaken Germany as the world’s third largest economy. Two

Creed of an American Grand Strategist

I am a great power. And so can you! by Thomas P M Barnett America today must dramatically realign its own post-9/11 trajectory with that of the world at large - a world undergoing deep transformation amidst great structural uncertainty. This realignment will require a new understanding of the world and America’s role in its evolution. Such an understanding is found in the realm of strategic thinking known as grand strategy. Every functioning state pursues some form of grand strategy, either purposeful or accidental. Sometimes leaders will seek to sell a national strategy to the public, hoping to garner popular support. Other times they will keep it secret, because they can or because they must. In ages past, one leader might encompass this whole process. In today’s modern government, the norm is for hundreds and even thousands of key people to be involved, for change to be incremental and spread over years, and for significant disjuncture to occur only with shifts in top politica

Gas game: Losers all around

20 Jan 2009 With the latest gas dispute over, at least temporarily, there were losers all around, including Russia, Ukraine, the EU and those parts of Europe left out in the cold, Sergei Blagov writes for ISN Security Watch. By Sergei Blagov in Moscow for ISN Security Watch Officially, the Russia-Ukraine gas feud that left much of Europe in the cold has reached its temporary conclusion with a new deal agreed in Moscow. However, unanswered questions cloud the resolution and it remains unclear who paid and who profited from the crisis and subsequent agreements on a new gas relationship between the two countries. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko hailed a deal between Russian gas giant Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz, signed on 19 January. The 10-year gas transit and gas supply agreements allowed for the resumption of the transit of Russian gas to European consumers via Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine agreed to switch gas trad

Military bases abroad: ambitions and opportunities

19:50 | 19/ 01/ 2009 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military correspondent Ilya Kramnik) - The Russian Navy is going to return to its bases abroad. A statement to this effect was made by the spokesman for the Navy's headquarters last week. What will the Russian Navy's return be like after 20 years' absence? What goals can it pursue? During the Cold War, the Soviet Navy was stationed in the Mediterranean to prevent an attack by Western aircraft carriers and submarines. At present, the tensions in the region have subsided because of severe cuts in the American naval forces. Yet, the region retains its importance as a key crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa. Russian ships started to make frequent appearances in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean after the opening of the Suez Canal. The new route was actively used for travelling to the Far East. Before the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the North Sea Route, this was the only way of establishing a fast and regu

Ukraine to pay European prices for Russian gas

20:21 | 20/ 01/ 2009 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti economic commentator Oleg Mityayev) - The Russian-Ukrainian gas conflict has been settled. During the talks between Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin and Yulia Tymoshenko, the sides agreed to resume the transit of Russian natural gas to Europe via Ukraine, approved the European pricing formula for gas deliveries to Ukraine, and decided to abandon gas trade intermediaries. As a result, the Gazprom and Naftogaz CEOs signed supply and transit contracts for 2009-2019 on January 19. In 1990-2007, Ukraine received Russian natural gas at the so-called Ashgabat formula based on the price of the cheap gas Gazprom bought in Central Asia, because Ukraine transited up to 80% of Russian gas exports to Europe. Last year, Ukraine bought Russian natural gas at $179.5 per 1,000 cubic meters, although the price for Europe exceeded $400 by the end of 2008. However, in the summer of 2008, when oil prices reached their peak and the demand for hydroca

WHY MILIBAND TRIES TO RATIONALISE LET'S TERRORIST ATTACK IN MUMBAI?

B.RAMAN There has been considerable anger and indignation in India over the attempt of David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, who visited India last week, to rationalise the terrorist attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008, by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LEt) of Pakistan by linking the attack to the Kashmir issue. None of the indigenous Kashmiri organisations has linked the Mumbai attack to Kashmir.Yet Miliband sought to provide a legitimacy to the LET's terrorist attack by linking it to Kashmir, disregarding the fact that the attack, as seen from the brutal murder of nine Jewish persons and 12 nationals of Western countries, which have contributed forces to the NATO contingent in Afghanistan, was part of the global jihadi agenda unrelated to either Kashmir or the grievances of the Indian Muslims. 2. The shocking attempt by Miliband to play down the murders of 138 Indians and 25 foreign nationals committed by the Pakistani terrorists of the LET should not have come as

AN OPEN LETTER REGARDING THE ZARINA MARRI CASE

On Sun, Jan 18, 2009 at 12:20 PM, Alia Amirali .... amiralienator @ gmail.com wrote: AN OPEN LETTER REGARDING THE ZARINA MARRI CASE After the horrifying story of the forced sex slavery of Zarina Marri, a young Baloch schoolteacher, at the hands of Pakistani military agencies was brought to light, many people – including members of 'civil society' and otherwise vocal defenders of human rights – have requested 'verification' of the story, which they assert needs to come from 'multiple sources' since it is a 'very serious charge' that is being leveled. (As a side, I wonder if they deem this charge 'very serious' because of the identity of the accused or because of the heinousness of the crime?) For anyone who does not know Zarina Marri's story, take a look at the documents attached to this message. The charges being leveled in this case are indeed serious, as were the charges in the Naseerabad 'burying alive' incident, the Muk

A great Sanskrit polymath

News Today , Chennai Wednesday, 07 January, 2009 , 02:31 PM The Birth Centenary of the most versatile, encyclopaedic Vedic and Sanskrit Scholar, Mayuram Vidya Vachaspati Sri Ramanatha Dikshithar (1903-1988) is being celebrated today (7 January 2009) at 5 pm at Kumararaja Muthiah Hall, Chettinad Vidyashram. Sri N Gopalaswami, Chief Election Commissioner will be presiding over the Centenary function. Pujyasri Dayananda Saraswathi will be delivering the ANUGRAHA BASHANAM. Hon’ble Justice Sri V Ramasubramanian will be releasing the English translation of Sri Appayya Dikshithar’s ‘ATMARPANA STUTI’ (work of English translation by Dr R Thiagarajan, Professor of Sanskrit, Presidency College, Chennai), published by Appayya Dikshitha Foundation, Chennai and Sri Ramanatha Dikshithar Trust, Chennai. The Centenary Lecture on ‘AYUR AROGYA: Wellness from Vedas’ is going to be delivered by Dr L Mahadevan. T S Raghavan, former Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank and S Gurumurthy, Chartere