Saturday, February 24, 2007

2nd Chemical Attack in Iraq

The second chemical attack in as many days. "Iraq insurgents use 2nd 'dirty' attack," by Brian Murphy for AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents exploded a truck carrying chlorine gas canisters Wednesday — the second such "dirty" chemical attack in two days — while a U.S. official said ground fire apparently forced the downing of a Black Hawk helicopter. All nine aboard the aircraft were rescued.

The attacks offer a sweeping narrative on evolving tactics by Sunni insurgents who have proved remarkably adaptable.

Military officials worry extremists may have recently gained more access to firepower such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft rockets and heavy machine guns — and more expertise to use them. The Black Hawk would be at least the eighth U.S. helicopter to crash or be taken down by hostile fire in the past month.

The gas cloud in Baghdad, meanwhile, suggests possible new and coordinated strategies by bombers trying to unleash toxic — and potentially deadly — materials. "Terrorists are using dirty means," said Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, said initial reports indicated the chopper was brought down by "small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades" north of Baghdad, but gave no further details. All nine aboard were taken away on a rescue helicopter, he said.
In Baghdad, a pickup truck carrying chlorine gas cylinders was blown apart, killing at least five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals gasping for breath and rubbing stinging eyes, police said.

On Tuesday, a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken north of the capital. More than 60 were still under medical care on Wednesday. Chlorine causes respiratory trouble and skin irritation in low levels and possible death with heavy exposure.
In Washington, two Pentagon officials said the tactic has been used at least three times since Jan. 28, when a truck carrying explosives and a chlorine tank blew up in Anbar province. More than a dozen people were reported killed.

A third Pentagon official said the United States has been concerned about Iraqi militants' ability to get weapons like chlorine bombs and use them effectively. But the official cautioned that chlorine bombs are just one threat on a long list of possible attacks that Iraqi fighters may try to carry out.

It was unclear whether the confluence of new insurgent tactics — attacking isolated combat posts, targeting helicopters more intensely and using chlorine bombs — was coincidental or in response to the U.S. troop increase.

W. Patrick Lang, a former official at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the insurgents are always "seeking to achieve higher levels of effectiveness" and these new tactics are part of the normal "evolution of sophistication."

Lang said trucks filled with chlorine gas are "really quite deadly" because the gas is potent and spreads easily.

Some authorities believe militants could be trying to maximize the panic from their attacks by adding chlorine or other noxious substances.

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Daily Telegraph: Israel is negotiating for US permission to fly over Iraq for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israeli Dep. Defense minister Mo

February 24, 2007, Debka
The British paper’s Tel Aviv correspondent Con Coughlin quoted a senior Israeli defense official as saying that negotiations are underway for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an air corridor in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Tehran developing nuclear weapons.

"Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot)," by Andy Warhol Sells for $11,776.000.

May 10 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire collector Eli Broad paid $11.8 million last night for Andy Warhol's small painting of a can of Campbell's pepper pot soup, snagging the top lot in a $143.2 million auction of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's International in New York.
The price of the 1962 canvas fell short .

This is for you Andy wherever you are............

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chaos in the Gulf: Kuwait preparing for war

As I have been pointing out for almost a year, everybody is getting ready for war in the Gulf. Latest sign: Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al Watan believes that Kuwait and NATO will sign a bilateral agreement in March. This agreement will include only Kuwait and will not concern the other monarchies in the Gulf. It will basically allow NATO to use Kuwait as “a point of safe passage made for the armies of the Alliance”. In December 2006, the two parties had already signed an agreement on intelligence sharing. Kuwait thus reinforces the Western umbrella which should protect it in the event of a regional conflict involving Iran. By Olivier Guitta

Lebanese Forces Fire On Israeli Planes

The BBC is also reporting that Israeli jets were fired on in southern Lebanon today.Ya Libnan has this breaking news from southern Lebanon:

Beirut- Lebanese anti-aircraft guns fired at Israeli warplanes over southern Lebanon on Wednesday, a military spokesman said, indicating that Lebanon's army is taking a new assertiveness toward Israel.The Israeli planes had "violated Lebanese sovereignty, posing a challenge to U.N. Resolution 1701," the spokesman said, referring to the Security Council resolution that ended Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon last August.The official spoke on condition of anonymity as is customary for the Lebanese military in the absence of a formal statement.Naharnet also is reporting this version of the story.Reuters has more on the story saying it was an unmanned plane:

Israeli warplanes flew at a low altitude over large areas of southern Lebanon on Wednesday, witnesses said, and the Lebanese army said it had fired on an unmanned Israeli spy plane.The Lebanese army said it fired at 10.40 a.m. (0840 GMT) on an Israeli reconnaissance plane which had flown near the southern city of Tyre. Israeli warplanes had also flown in the area, it said in a statement, giving no further details.A spokesman for the U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon confirmed the army had opened fire from a mobile anti-aircraft gun.Israeli warplanes regularly fly over south Lebanon but witnesses said Wednesday's flights, seen from the Bekaa Valley and the southern city of Sidon, were unusually frequent and at a lower altitude than normal.Voice of America says this was the first time that the Lebanese fired on Israeli planes since last year's war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas.

No sign of Iran backing down on banned uranium enrichment in face of negative nuclear watchdog report and US Navy buildup

Top US Navy commander in the Middle East vice Adm. Patrick Walsh told newsmen Monday that Iran had brought its war games over the past year into the busy shipping lanes in the Straits of Hormuz, through which two-fifths of the world’s oil supplies pass. The moves alarmed US officials about possible accidental confrontations that could boil over into war.

During maneuvers, Iranian sailors have loaded mines onto small mine-laying boats and test-fired a Shahab-3 missile into international waters very close to the straits, said the US vice admiral.

Iran Nuclear Report Due

by Al Jazeera

A report from the UN's nuclear watchdog is expected to confirm Iran has stepped-up rather than halted its uranium enrichment programme.

Iran's president has said he will stop enrichment if the US stops too.
The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, due for release on Thursday, could expose Iran to wider sanctions over fears it is using its nuclear fuel programme as a cover for building nuclear weapons.

With the US expected to move a second carrier group into the Gulf region shortly, Larijani warned that no attempt should be made to resolve the issue through "force and pressure" saying Tehran would respond to any attacks.

Replying to a question about US pressure on Iran to give up enrichment, Larijani said: "If they ... move into the boxing ring, they would have problems. But if they sit at the chess table, then both sides would come to a result." Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Let Freedom Ring


U.S. Official: Multiple groups of jihadists training in Pakistan for attacks in West

This report corroborates the account in a Newsweek article last December of a twelve-man team training in Pakistan to stage attacks in Western countries. Apparently, there is more than one such team. "Qaeda camps in Pakistan to train operatives: US official," by Jim Mannion for AFP:

The carrier USS John C. Stennis arrives in the region Monday at the same time as Iranian war games

February 20, 2007, 10:46 PM Debka file
Backed by a strike group with more than 6,500 sailors and marines as well as additional minesweeping ships, the Stennis joins the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in line with President Bush’s orders for the build-up as a show of strength to Iran.
Top US Navy commander in the Middle East Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh said Iran had brought its war games over the past year into the busy shipping lanes in the Straits of Hormuz, through which two-fifths of the world’s oil supplies pass. The moves have alarmed US officials about possible accidental confrontations that could boil over into war. During maneuvers, Iranian sailors have loaded mines onto small mine-laying boats and test-fired a Shahab-3 missile into international waters, said the US vice admiral, very close to the straits,

IDF worried Hamas may have advanced missiles

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

There are grave concerns among the defense establishment about the possibility that Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip is now in possession of Sagger anti-tank missiles.

The Palestinians did take note of the fact that following the attack against the APC in the Philadelphi Route in 2004 and the destruction of another APC (with a six-man crew) the day before using an explosive device, the IDF seriously limited its offensive operations in the Gaza Strip.

Read more here >>

Big Brother Is Watching You

By: Nicole Belle @ 6:22 PM - PST
Texas Kaos:
Last month I wrote about a story I've been following: the case of domestic spying on major American data carriers. At the time, using information available online as well as several news sources, I put forth some speculation.

First, that innocent Americans' data is being swept up and stored thanks to the use of the "full pipe" data gathering technique. Second, that the government's Total Information Awareness Program - which was "killed" but never defunded - was being used to build domestic spying facilities around the country.

I caught PBS's NOW program last Friday by chance, and I'm glad I did. They have resources not available to this lowly blogger. What PBS discovered will chill your bones. Yes, data on innocent Americans is being intercepted and stored. Additionally, more whistleblowers have come forward to establish the existence of another secret spy room on AT&T's network, built post 9-11.

The key findings in PBS's report:

  • The government is intercepting most emails sent domestically.
  • AT&T is collecting most emails and sharing them with the government, specifically the NSA (this is backed up by Klein's documents).
  • The NSA spy room at AT&T's San Francisco facility is only accessible to the NSA and AT&T employees cleared by the NSA.
  • The NSA's interest seems to be in MAE WEST, *the* major hub of American and international internet traffic on the West Coast.
  • The device installed in San Francisco is capable of intercepting 10 GIGBYTES of data per second. In layman's terms, that means it could go through all the information in all the books in the Library of Congress in 15 minutes.
    Read on…