Archive for category Thailand

news from Russia and the stans

1. Bagapsh inaugurated as president of Abkhazia

Sergei Bagapsh was sworn in on Friday for his second term as president of Abkhazia, thanking Russia in his inaugural address for helping the republic achieve independence from Georgia. …Bagapsh was re-elected as Abkhazia’s president on December 12, 2009, winning with over 60% of the vote in the republic’s first presidential election since Russia recognized its independence in August 2008 after a brief war with Georgia..

Bagapsh, 60, has been president of the former Georgian republic since January 2005.

The U.S. Department of State said the elections were illegitimate, while Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili condemned the vote as an illegal Kremlin-backed gesture in an “occupied territory.”

Russia is the guarantor of Abkhazia’s security with several thousand troops in the region under bilateral security and cooperation agreements signed since August 2008. Abkhazia’s independence has been recognized by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

SUKHUMI, February 12 (RIA Novosti)

2. runaway journalist gathered shocking videos about South Ossetia

Vakhtang Komakhidze, a well-known Georgian journalist, who requested political asylum in Switzerland, has shocking materials about South Ossetia, received in the course of his journey to the region in December 2009.

He managed to record “scandalous interviews, videos that can shake”, and the government of Georgia doesn’t want these to be published, said Nana Kakabadze, the human rights activist, in her interview to the Alia newspaper.

She added Komakhidze made his decision to request a political asylum in the airport of Tbilisi, when realized he was watched by Interior Ministry representatives - the VZGLYAD.

The human rights activist explained that in Switzerland he must have interviewed one of the judges of the Hague Tribunal. Now he plans to complete his film in that country. Komakhidze stated he made this decision as he couldn’t perform his professional duties in Georgia. He also mentioned threat to health and lives of himself and his family. Komakhidze explains his decision by menaces from the authorities.

source: georgia times

3. photographer on trial for showing real life in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT (Uzbekistan) - AN AWARD-WINNING Uzbek photographer went on trial for slander Tuesday after her work documenting the daily struggles of ordinary people in the Central Asian state landed her in hot water.

Umida Akhmedova, 54, stands accused of portraying people in the ex-Soviet nation as backward and impoverished in a collection of her photographs and a documentary film, both financed by the Swiss embassy in Tashkent….Akhmedova put the blame for the trial not on the government, but on an expert panel it had convened to analyze her work. The panel concluded in its report that the ‘photo album does not conform to aesthetic demands,’ a throwback to Soviet jargon, and that it would damage the country’s ’spiritual values’. The trial sets a chilling precedent for artists, said Surat Ikramov, head of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan. — AFP

source: straits times

see photos here and here

4. Russian court extends pretrial detention of oligarchs

A Moscow court ordered on Friday that Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev spend another three months in harsh pretrial detention rather than return to regular jail.

Khodorkovsky, 45, and Lebedev, 42, are already serving eight-year prison terms for tax evasion and fraud issued by a Moscow court in 2005 after a highly politicized trial seen by many in the West as part of a Kremlin drive to subdue politically ambitious business tycoons.

Both were moved in 2009 from prison in Siberia to Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina jail to face new charges of embezzling 350 million tons of oil. Since then, their stay in the pretrial detention center has been repeatedly prolonged despite complaints from their lawyers.

Moscow’s Khamovniki District Court on Friday authorized keeping Khodorkovsky and Lebedev in pretrial detention until May 17.

“The court took into account the severity of the charges Khodorkovsky and Lebedev face when considering extending their detention,” presiding judge Viktor Danilkin said.

Russian officials have consistently denied any political motivation behind their convictions, but the fate of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is still viewed by Russia-watchers abroad as an indicator of the state of Russia’s judicial system.

MOSCOW, February 12 (RIA Novosti)

5. Thailand drops arms case and releases Kazakhs — no decision on what to do with the seized weapons

BANGKOK - THAILAND said on Thursday it had decided to drop a case against the five member crew of a plane carrying sanctions-busting weapons from North Korea.

‘The trial here will not benefit Thailand so we have decided to drop the charges,’ said Thanapich Mulapruk, spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, in a statement. ‘Their countries of origin want to try the men in their home countries,’ he said.

Another official from the attorney general’s office said the Belarussian pilot and four Kazakh crew would not be formally extradited. ‘(We) are sending an official to file a petition with the court to release all five men,’ Kayasit Pissawanprkan told reporters. ‘This is not an extradition but we consider them as having entered (Thailand) illegally.’

more @ straits times

corruption news

1. military staff in Malaysia linked info to unnamed foreign embassy

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA’S defence minister reportedly said on Thursday that military personnel had been paid to leak security information to a foreign embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

The alleged leak was unveiled in a probe conducted by the ministry’s intelligence corps together with police, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said according to state media and The Star newspaper.

‘I don’t want anyone at any position to sell information to external parties,’ he was quoted as saying by The Star on its website. ‘I will make an announcement after meeting the prime minister (Najib Razak) regarding the information that was leaked to a foreign embassy, which allegedly used internal sources,’ he added.

Mr Ahmad Zahid did not name the embassy involved but urged diplomats to carry out their duties properly and warned that action can be taken against perpetrators under the country’s official secrets laws.

‘I hope no one will take advantage of their positions in this country to carry out unethical activities,’ he reportedly said. ‘I believe they have been paid,’ he added, referring to the military personnel allegedly involved in the act.

An aide to the minister said he could not immediately confirm the minister’s remarks when contacted by AFP. Mr Ahmad Zahid told national news agency Bernama that his ministry has been monitoring its staff over any possible information leakage especially since the theft of two US-made fighter jet engines worth US$29 million (S$41 million). — AFP

source: straits times

2. Lancet slammed: vaccine science poisoned by special interests in pharmamedia — The Lancet threw that MMR guy under the bus by discrediting him (but please don’t notice their conflicts of interest!) they can try to conflate all people who question vaccines. this has been covered widely in corporate media, natch.

The editors of Medical Veritas journal have condemned The Lancet’s retraction of the controversial study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, charging editor Richard Horton with pandering to special interests in a conspiracy to defraud the public about the risks of vaccinations.

In 1998, The Lancet published the contested study linking autism and intestinal problems to the risky MMR triple virus vaccine. Yesterday, following the British General Medical Council’s decision that Dr. Wakefield had been “dishonest,” The Lancet’s editor retracted the article saying the Council’s report made it “utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false.”…

The Winter, 2010 issue of Medical Veritas, evidenced gross conflicting interests undermining the The Lancet’s integrity. Following the publication of Dr. Wakefield’s controversial study, Reed-Elsevier-ChoicePoint mergers occurred. The mega-company formed has nearly monopolized the medical scientific publishing industry. Previous to this, The Lancet editors protested the “damaging” of medicine and health science by pharmaceutical companies.

“Now it is obvious Dr. Horton’s company has been grossly contaminated by special interests as biased as Dr. Ross’s ‘PharmaCouncil’,” Dr. Horowitz said.

Reed-Elsevier-ChoicePoint, it turns out, is directed by Chief Executive Officer, Sir Crispin Davis, according to a Reuter’s News Service promotion for GlaxoSmithKline recently published. According to Forbes, Sir Davis was knighted by the Queen of England for his “service to the information industry.” He has served as a Non-Executive Independent Director of GlaxoSmithKline, PLC since 2003. Sir Davis spent his early career with Procter & Gamble.

more @ prevent disease

3. Taiwanese held in smuggling US made military components to Iran –  looks like a little sting to fluff the case against Iran. lots of “could be’s”….

MIAMI - US AUTHORITIES said on Thursday they arrested a Taiwanese man for allegedly smuggling US-made military components to Iran that could help the Islamic republic develop missiles and unmanned drones.

Yi-Lan Chen, 40, who also goes by Kevin Chen, was arrested on Wednesday on the US Pacific territory to Guam and is being sent to Miami, where prosecutors had sought his arrest.

If convicted, Chen faces up to 20 years in prison and up to US$1 million (S$1.4 million) in fines. Prosecutors said that Chen had exported ‘dual-use’ technology - which ostensibly has civilian purposes but can be applied for the military - to Taiwan or Hong Kong where it would be reloaded and shipped to Iran.

‘The dual-use items allegedly exported in this case could easily be used in missile development and other military components,’ US Attorney Jeffrey Sloman said in Miami.

‘Such conduct poses a serious threat to our national security, and will not be tolerated,’ he said. The goods Chen is accused of exporting to Iran include P200 turbine engines and spare parts, which can be used for model airplanes but also for unmanned military drones, prosecutors said.

‘This case will send a message to those individuals who attempt to profit by illegally supplying improper dual-use technology to other countries,’ said Anthony Mangione, an US immigration agent investigating the case. Iran is under a raft of sanctions imposed by the United States, United Nations and European Union over its nuclear program and its support for hardline Islamist movements overseas. — AFP

source: straits times

4. Victor Bout ordered to appear in Thai court

Russian businessman and alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout has been summoned to appear in a Thai court on February 16, one of his lawyers said on Friday. Former Russian army officer Bout, 42, remains in custody in a Thai jail after the Bangkok Criminal Court refused in August to extradite him to the United States, where he is facing four terrorism-related charges and a possible life sentence. “I was informed that my client had been asked to appear in court on February 16. However, I was not told why he had been summoned,” Thai lawyer Chamroen Panompakakom told RIA Novosti. He suggested that Bout could face an additional questioning or the announcement of an appeals court verdict on his extradition case.

more @ ria novosti

5. um, Frank Timis hearts Sierra Leone. you see what admitting to a few little mistakes can do? a little ball-fluffing never hurt anyone.

It is quite easy for anyone to be suspicious of a large investment initiative from an international company in a small African country with huge mineral wealth and potential. A lot has been written about African Minerals and Frank Timis in the past. But most of what has been written focused mainly on the mistakes of the past – which have been fully acknowledged by the company’s management. Surely everyone deserves a second chance. Especially when that chance is given to someone whose determination to prove everyone wrong can only be matched with his vision to end the poverty-stricken environment structure of a country he has come to fall in love with.  Timis has lent his support to Sparks, a UK based children’s medical charity whose remit is to fund research across the whole spectrum of paediatric medicine, and has invested in a company developing a more effective method of treating malaria. And he can even do more for Sierra Leone!

…Frank Timis once said  “the best lie is the truth, because you never get caught.”  Reputable international renowned companies like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan to Macquarie, have backed his business projects for the past 15 years. This goes to show the faith big companies have in Timis. He may be a colorful personality, but he surely has the brains to turn things around.

…The United Nations recently declared the company’s Tonkolili development to be the Most Effective Corporate Social Responsibility Project ever embarked on. But he surely does not get the credit he deserves for such amazing feats of accomplishments. With all this backdrop, Frank Timis says he is not looking for recognition for his philanthropy. He is always looking forward to the next deal.

more @ newstime africa

6. Angola man accused of teen sex plot

An Angola man faces federal charges in New York, accusing him of transporting a 15-year-old girl across state lines for the purposes of having sex with her last fall. In late January, Foster Creager, 40, was arrested in Steuben County. He is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in the southern district of New York on Monday. According to the criminal complaint, a 15-year-old girl went missing from Hyde Park, N.Y., on Sept. 10. FBI agents discovered she had been communicating via e-mail with someone named “Kenneth Bone.”

Telephone records linked the phone number used by “Kenneth Bone” to Creager, of the 4300 block of West U.S. 20 in Angola.

On Sept. 11, Steuben County sheriff’s officers went to a mobile home and recreational vehicle park in Angola and saw Creager standing next to an RV. He told police the teen was inside. During an interview with detectives, Creager said he met the girl two or three months earlier on the Internet. He said he picked up the girl in New York and drove with her and another person to Indiana. In court documents filed in federal court in Fort Wayne, the other person is identified as Judy DeLong. Both DeLong and Creager have been indicted on a single count of transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Creager told police he and the 15-year-old were “boyfriend and girlfriend” but said he suspected she was not 18 when he brought her to Indiana.

The teen told investigators that Creager told her she would need to be “in hiding” for three years until she turned 18, according to court documents.

DNA collected during a forensic examination of the teen matched Creager’s, according to court documents.

source: journalgazette.net

cobra gold (CG10) starts today

1. one can’t help notice how extra light is the news coverage of this important exercise in Southeast Asia, a known hotspot for terrorists. of course there is a history of these sorts of things suddenly going ‘live’, as they did on 911 and 7/7.

THE Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is taking part in in Exercise Cobra Gold, being held in Pattaya, Thailand from Monday to Feb 11.

The multilateral exercises, also involving the Royal Thai Armed Forces, United States Pacific Command, Japan Self-Defence Forces, Indonesian National Defence Forces and the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, focus on peace support and civilian evacuation operations, said a statement from the Singapore’s Ministry of Defence on Monday.

…Representatives from another 20 countries are also involved in this year’s exercise as observers.

more @ straits times

2. largest US - Asia wargames — “rehearsal” for the day when the services are needed.

RAYONG (Thailand) - THE US military began its largest war games in the Pacific region on Monday - an annual training exercise with troops from Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, now joined by South Korea.

At the opening ceremony in the eastern Thai province of Rayong, US Ambassador Eric G. John said that the ‘Cobra Gold’ exercise, now in its 29th year, had become a ‘multinational showcase event’. ‘The US continues to view this exercise, which is our premier training event in Thailand, as an important symbol of US military commitment to maintaining peace and security in Asia,’ he told the audience.

‘It’s imperative that our separate militaries learn to work with each other - together - and rehearse for the day their services are needed to answer that call for help,’ he said. In total representatives from more than 20 countries will participate, observe or support, he added. — AFP

more @ straits times

3. Thailand and the United States are long-time allies, but a large sum of US military assistance to the Southeast Asian nation was suspended after a Thai coup in 2006. The aid was resumed after elections in December 2007.

source

4. Thailand walks a fine line with the weapons cache: keeps the men in detention, mentions Iran, but splits hairs with the cargo and the flight plan

BANGKOK - THAILAND said Monday that an aircraft loaded with North Korean weapons was flying to Iran when it was intercepted in December but the ultimate destination of the arms is still not known….

But Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayarkorn said Monday that ‘to say that the weapons are going to Iran, that might be inexact.’ ‘The report only says where the plane was going to according to its flight plan, but it doesn’t say where the weapons were going to,’ he said. ‘It’s still under investigation, and the suspects are under our legal system.’

The five-man crew - four from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus - remain under detention. The crew has been charged with illegal arms possession, but the charges are expected to be stiffened once the investigation wraps up, police have said. The weapons found on board the aircraft were reportedly light battlefield arms, including grenades - hardly the ones Iran’s sophisticated military would need.

more @ straits times

5. training based on a computer simulation

“The training is based on a “computer-simulated command post exercise (CPX), field training exercises linked to the CPX, and humanitarian and civic assistance projects,” he said. The joint activity is designed to improve the American Pacific Command’s ability to carry out joint and multi-national military operations and to improve the ability of the participating countries’ armed forces to work together.

The computer-era exercise combines Thai, US, Singaporean, Japanese, Indonesian, and South Korean participants in a coalition grouping.
Thai, US, Singaporean, Japanese, Indonesian, South Korean, and United Nations military force personnel will participate in the field training modelled after the UN’s multi-national peace support operations scenario.

more @ bernama

6. additional details from the military: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2010/01/mil-100112-afps04.htm

Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and the Royal Thai Supreme Command, the three-week exercise includes a command-post exercise, a series of medical and engineering civic-action projects and joint and combined field training. The exercise continues to serve as a venue to build interoperability between the United States and its Asia-Pacific regional partners.

The command-post exercise focuses on training a Thai, U.S., Singaporean, Indonesian, and South Korean coalition task force. The exercise also includes Japan participating within a United Nations Force staff. A team composed of representatives from Brunei, Chile, China, Germany, Laos, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam will observe the command-post exercise at the invitation of the Thai government.

Among Cobra Gold 2010’s objectives is Pacom’s rapid deployment of a joint task force and subsequent coordination with U.N. forces, with the aim of improving Pacom’s ability to conduct multinational operations and increase interoperability with partner nations, officials said.

In addition, officials noted, the military-to-military relationships developed during Cobra Gold exercises underscore a combined capability to face myriad issues in the Asia-Pacific theater, including terrorism, transnational threats, and humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief efforts.

(From a U.S. Army Pacific news release.)

7. overview of why the military does this exercise in general: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/cobra-gold.htm

“Cooperative engagement” is the USCINCPAC strategy designed to deter aggression, promote peace, encourage prosperity and democratic ideals, and — if necessary– allow the US to fight and win if a conflict cannot be avoided. Specifically, the strategy is a process of aggressively employing the means available to USPACOM (forces, assets, funds, and programs) in three principal ways: forward presence, strong alliances and friendships, and a visible demonstrated capacity for crisis response. The goal is to achieve engagement and participation in peace, deterrence and cooperation in crisis, and a swift and decisive victory in conflict, through multilateral alliances if possible.

Thailand is one of five countries in the Pacific region with which the US has a functioning security alliance. The other four countries are Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the Republic of the Philippines. Thailand and the US have an extensive bilateral military exercise program.

Cobra Gold is a regularly-scheduled joint/combined exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S. – Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to defend Thailand or respond to regional contingencies. Cobra Gold is one of several training exercises the US conducts with Thailand each year. The US funds Thai military and civilian professional development training under the international military education and training program (IMET). Thailand is a generous host to US Navy ships that make frequent port calls at Pattaya and Phuket.

Cobra Gold is a six-week exercise during April and May, the hottest time of the year in Thailand where daytime temperatures linger between 103 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

North Korea, multi-purpose tool, links into all the hotspots

1. firms in 5 countries linked to N. Korean arms smuggling: Kazakhstan, Ukraine, New Zealand, UAE, Sri Lanka, Iran (natch)

Five companies in five countries were involved in a complex process of cargo laundering for a shipment of North Korean arms that was confiscated at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport last month, according to media reports.

Efforts to track the cargo were complicated by the involvement of a Kazakh arms dealer and his wife who handled the arms through a ghost company, AP said Tuesday. Thai police discovered 40 tons of North Korean arms including multiple rocket launchers, 40 surface-to-air missiles, and hundreds of rocket-propelled grenades worth an estimated US$18 million on an Ilyushin cargo plane operated by Air West of Georgia, which landed in Bangkok on Dec. 12.

All five crew were arrested, but it was not easy to trace the route the arms had taken. Alexander Zykov, a Kazakh dealer in illegal arms, is allegedly behind the transport. He hired five crew for an air freight company he owned named East Wing in Kiev, Ukraine, in July last year. Three days later, a friend of Zykov’s established a ghost company named SP Trading in New Zealand.

SP Trading then leased the cargo plane from Air West, which is also effectively run by Zykov and had earlier leased it to Overseas Trading FZE, a company in the United Arab Emirates owned by Zykov’s wife. Once SP Trading had leased the plane, it received an order from a Hong Kong-registered firm, Union Top Management, to transport “petroleum industry components” from the [North] Korean General Trading Corporation.

The plane took off from Kiev and flew via Azerbaijan and the UAE to North Korea. Once the freight had been loaded, it was scheduled to stop for refueling in Thailand and fly west to Ukraine by way of Sri Lanka and the UAE. From there, some reports say it was leapfrogged via Iran to Montenegro, but the tiny peaceful principality seems an unlikely final destination for the cargo.

source: chosun ilbo

2. North Korea also supplying ‘Congolese insurgents’

North Korea smuggled about 3,400 tons of weapons into the Democratic Republic of Congo in the midst of a civil war there in January, with some of them going to Congolese insurgents or nearby countries, VOA quoted a UN official as saying Wednesday.

Christian Dietrich, a member of the UN Security Council committee investigating Congo, told VOA that the North Korean ship Birobong arrived in the port of Boma, Congo on Jan. 21, where it unloaded some 3,400 tons of weapons, 100 times the amount seized in Thailand earlier this month.

more @ chosun ilbo

3. US congressional report says NK also passing WMD tech to Syria, through Iran of course — sorry no details classified into, you understand

A new U.S. congressional report claims North Korea is transferring weapons technology to Syria through Iran. In the report, the Congressional Research Service, an entity that works exclusively for the U.S. Congress, revealed that Iran was assisting in the procurement of weapons of mass destruction-related technology by providing North Korea with a platform for such trade with Syria. The report however does not offer further details on the alleged interaction.

source: chosun ilbo

4. Hillary Clinton — very worried about NK and Burma

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says military cooperation between North Korea and Burma would be very destabilizing for the region, and would pose a direct threat to Burma’s neighbors. She says Washington is taking regional concerns about this connection “very seriously.” Clinton addressed the concerns on Tuesday in Bangkok after meeting Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. She will join a regional security conference in Phuket on Wednesday.North Korea’s possible cooperation with Burma made headlines in June, when the U.S. Navy began tracking a North Korean ship believed to be traveling to Burma with suspicious cargo. The ship returned to North Korea without ever docking in Burma.

more @ chosun ilbo

5. Iran buys masses of arms from North Korea, ships them all over the world, including to Hamas and Hezbollah, according to WaPo, citing US and UN officials. yup they know all about it.

Iran has imported piles of North Korean-made conventional weapons, the Washington Post reported Thursday, even though both countries are under UN sanctions over their nuclear programs. Weapons also went to two Palestinian militant organizations, the Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Islamist Hamas, the paper said.

To avoid international pursuit, the North Korean weapons were “shipped halfway around the globe in sealed containers, labeled as oil-drilling supplies, that passed through a succession of freighters and ports,” including China, Southeast Asia and the Dubai free trade zone, before reaching Iran, it said.

One example was a shipment of North Korean weapons aboard the ANL Australia which was confiscated by United Arab Emirates authorities on July 22. According to U.S. and UN officials, the ship carried 2,030 detonators for 122 mm multiple rocket launchers, as well as electric circuitry and solid-fuel propellant for rockets, which Hamas and Hezbollah use when attacking Israel.

The UAE made no official announcement, but the paper said the shipment of North Korean weapons consisted of 10 cargo containers. They left the North Korean port of Nampo on May 30, five days after the North’s second nuclear test on May 25 and before the UN Security Council adopted a fresh resolution sanctioning the North.

The UNSC adopted Resolution 1874 on June 12, extending the arms embargo on North Korea and authorizing member states to inspect its cargo on land, sea, and air. By that time, the vessel carrying the arms had already arrived in China. The containers were transferred to a Chinese ship in the northern port of Dalian on June 13.

From there, they were ferried to Shanghai, where they were moved to a third ship, the ANL Australia, a 47,326 ton freighter. They were finally discovered at the port of Khor Fakkan in the UAE. The officials claimed that there were as many as five such smuggling attempts since early this year.

source: chosun ilbo

6. on top of all that, the North Koreans are firing away past an imaginary line in the ocean

North Korea vowed to continue artillery drills Wednesday along the West Sea border after firing dozens of shells on two separate occasions there, reiterating that the de-facto inter-Korean border should be redrawn. After the first batch of about 30 artillery shells in the morning, South Korea responded by firing warning shots, but no casualties or damage occurred.

The North began firing again at 3:25 p.m., with a dozen more shells landing north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto western sea border. But the South did not respond.  This is the first time that the North has fired artillery into the NLL in the West Sea, though the navies from both Koreas have exchanged gunfire near the border before.  No casualties or injuries were reported as both sides fired in the air and no fishing boats were present, a spokesman for the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

more @ korea times



developments in the “war on terror”

1. Nigerian president reportedly brain-damaged in Saudi Arabia

President Umaru Yar’Adua is seriously brain damaged, is not able to recognise anyone, including his wife Turai, and can no longer perform the functions of the office of the president, according to multiple sources who have spoken to NEXT on Sunday.  But this fact, which has left a nation of 150 million people rudderless and its government in disarray, is being concealed from the public through an elaborate scam orchestrated directly and energetically by the First Lady.

read more @ NEXT

2. SITE says qaeda threatens to execute French hostage in Mali (three Saudis recently killed near Mali border recently, that was “al qaeda” too)

The north African branch of al-Qaida said it will execute a French hostage unless four of its militants are freed from jail in Mali in 20 days, the U.S. monitoring group SITE said on Monday.

source: naharnet

3. crew of seized plane turns to Kazakh president in Thai court

The four Kazakh crew members of an arms-laden cargo plane seized in Bangkok in mid-December have asked the president of Kazakhstan to defend them as they face major charges for illegal transportation of weapons….”We were making a flight ordered by the Air West Georgia company and the plane’s lessee, AirTech company, from Ukraine. In line with a contract, we should have transported a 35-ton civil cargo from Pyongyang to Kiev. The flight to Pyongyang was made on schedule… After landing in Pyongyang on December 10, 2009, in the evening, we went to a hotel,” the crew, which is now being held in the Bangkok Remand prison, said in the statement. According to the statement, the next morning, when the crew arrived at the airport, they found the cargo packed in wooden and iron boxes and sealed. “We were not allowed to inspect the cargo,” the crew said, adding “according to documents, the cargo consisted of ‘mechanical parts,’ and looked similar to oil drilling equipment.”

more @ ria novosti

4. Thailand: suspects in 20 year old Saudi case indicted

The case has received much attention from the public. Saudi charge d’affaires to Thailand Nabil Ashri, who on Monday voiced his concern over the handling of the case by Thai authorities to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, described the indictment of the five suspects as “good news” which Saudi Arabia has long been waiting for. He said Saudi Arabia waited for nearly 20 years to see the first case being brought into the judicial process.  The two other cases are the murder of three Saudi diplomats, also in 1990, and the jewellery theft in 1989.

more @ bangkok post

5. Saudi teen poses as pilot in Manila airport

A 19-year-old Saudi Arabian man dressed as a pilot was arrested Tuesday after he illegally entered a restricted area in the main airport in the Philippines, an airport official said. “He was able to elude our security by misrepresenting himself as a pilot of Saudi,” said airport general manager Alfonso Cusi, referring to the Saudi Arabian flag carrier. …The detained Saudi, identified by the local authorities as Hani Abdulelah Bukhari, told airport police he was there to meet his father, a retired Saudi pilot who later arrived on a flight from Saudi Arabia. He was wearing a pilot’s uniform from Saudi Airlines when airport security personnel noticed him lining up at the immigration section of the passenger terminal, Cusi told ABS-CBN television.

more @ naharnet

6. Canadian faces terror charges

OTTAWA - A TORONTO man who earned a six-figure salary as a computer programmer appeared in court on Monday for the first day of his trial on charges of plotting to attack Canada’s main stock exchange and other targets. Shareef Abdelhaleem, 34, is accused of conspiring to bomb Canada’s main stock exchange, spy agency offices and a military base in order to try to provoke Canada’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

more @ straits times

7. FBI and Shin Bet tracked Teitel a year before his arrest — it was all just police work you understand

A year prior to Yakov “Jack” Teitel’s arrest, the Shin Bet and the FBI were in close contact as part of an investigation into bombings targeting homosexuals, messianic Christians and left-wing figures, Haaretz has learned.  Teitel was arrested on October 7. However, the initial exchanges on the case between the two security services on the case began in October 2008, when a Shin Bet officer, code-named Ariel, contacted the FBI with a request for assistance in the investigation. Eventually, the authorities would come to suspect Teitel as the person behind the bombings.

more @ haaretz  http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1142043.html

8. Houston TX consulate reportedly issued questionable passports

Three Indian citizens, including a man linked to the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, were issued Pakistani passports by the country’s consulate in the U.S. city of Houston, an anti-corruption court has been told by a senior diplomat. Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston, Aqil Nadeem, appeared as a witness in the accountability court in Rawalpindi on Monday and confirmed that Pakistani passports were issued by the consulate to Indian nationals Aziz Moosa, Saleem Ali and Abdul Sadiq.

more @ the hindu

thailand, china, saudi arabia, US

1. Thai PM promises justice in Saudi case

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday assured visiting Saudi charge d’affaires Nabil Hussein Ashri the government will not interfere in cases involving the disappearance of a Saudi businessman in 1990….Asked whether a resolution of the case would lead to an improvement of relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia, Mr Abhisit said regardless of the outcome, the government’s best interests would be served if the decision in the case is based on the evidence.  The prime minister admitted Saudi Arabia might not have confidence in the Thai justice system since the case involves high-level police officers and has dragged on, unresolved for a long time. [20 years]

read more @ bangkok post

2. Saudi king meets Chinese minister on economic, trade ties

China’s economy develops rapidly, and the two countries should further their cooperation in various fields, such as in dealing with the fallout of the global financial crisis, he said.  The king said Riyadh welcomes the Chinese enterprises to actively participate in Saudi economy as the Gulf Arab country is speeding up construction in the petrochemical industry, infrastructure, education and health fields….  As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Saudi Arabia, the Chinese government is expecting to expand the bilateral economic and trade cooperation, in hopes of boosting the bilateral trade volume to 60billion U.S. dollars by 2015, Chen added.    Chen said the Chinese government appreciates the trust of the Saudi king and the Saudi government in Chinese enterprises, and will work together with the Saudi side to support contract projects and investment cooperation between enterprises of both countries in the electricity, railway and new energy fields. Also in the day, Chen, together with Saudi Minister of Finance Ibrahim bin Abdel Aziz al-Asaf, convened the fourth meeting of China-Saudi joint committee on economy and trade in the Saudi capital.  Chen arrived in Riyadh on Saturday and will visit Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania later.

read more @ chinaview

3. China’s top legislator pledges parliamentary exchanges with Thailand

China regards Thailand as its close friend and trustable partner and will work with Thailand to lift bilateral ties to a new level, said Wu.  Chai, also Speaker of the Thai House of Representatives or the Lower House, pays an official goodwill visit to China from Jan. 9 to Jan. 16, the first such visit since he assumed office in May, 2008.  Chai expressed his hope that the parliaments of the two countries could learn from each other on such issues as legislature and supervision in a bid to facilitate Thailand-China ties.

read more @ chinaview

4. ROK to join Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand for first time

BANGKOK, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — The Republic of Korea (ROK) will participate in the Cobra Gold 2010 Joint Exercise, the largest in Southeast Asia, for the first time, a senior Thai army officer said Monday.   Cobra Gold is a joint and coalition multi-national exercise held by Thailand on a regular basis. This year is the latest in a continuing series of exercise aimed at promoting regional peace and security. This exercise marks the 29th anniversary of this regionally significant training event.   A total of 14,000 soldiers from six countries, including Thailand, the United States, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and ROK, will join the exercise, which is scheduled on Feb. 1-11 in central Thailand and representatives from other ten observer countries will also be present at the drill, General Ratchakrit Kanchanawat, Thai Armed Forces Chief of Joint Staff, told a press conference.

read more @ chinaview

5. Taiwan to buy US frigates

TAIPEI - TAIWAN plans to buy eight second-hand Perry-class frigates from the United States despite improved ties with arch rival China, a local newspaper reported on Monday. The island hopes to arm them with a version of the advanced Aegis Combat System, which uses computers and radars to take out multiple targets, as well as sophisticated missile launch technology, the Taipei-based China Times said….The United States designed the Perry-class frigates in the 1970s but the majority remain in service, equipped with various forms of modern technology. The deal would add to Taiwan’s existing inventory, as it already has eight Perry-class frigates built on the island. The China Times report came less than a week after the US Defense Department said it had approved the sale of Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan as part of a package passed by Congress more than a year ago. When unveiled in 2008, the package triggered strong protests from Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and has vowed to take the island back, by force if necessary.  The United States is the leading arms supplier to self-ruled Taiwan, even though it switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. — AFP

read more @ straits times


thailand, saudi arabia, israel, india, sri lanka

1. statute of limitations about to expire for suspect in Saudi murder / stolen family jewels case in Thailand

If Abu Ali, a prime suspect in the murders of Saudi diplomats in 1990, is not arrested before Feb 1 the statute of limitations of this case will expire, Department of Special Investigtion deputy director-general Pol Col Naras Savestanant said on Thursday.  Pol Col Naras said the DSI and the prosecution asked the Criminal Court to issue a warrant for the arrest of Abu Ali, a Middle East national, because evidence obtained by the department showed he was involved in the murders of three Saudi diplomats on Feb 1, 1990.  The statute of limitations in this case is 20 years. He said the DSI’s investigation into the murders was successful to an extent as it was able to establish the motive of the crime, which was believed to be a religious conflict between Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East. The DSI’s finding was different from that of the Royal Thai Police Office, which believed a conflict of interest over recruitments of workers to Saudi Arabia was the motive, Pol Col Naras said. The DSI secured an arrest warrant for the man.  Its investigators believed he murdered Abdullah A al-Besri, one of the three Saudi diplomats, on Feb 1, 1990.

source:  bangkok

2. NOTE: recall that the plane with Korean weapons stopped in Thailand was supposedly going to Sri Lanka, but the Thai authorities would not pinpoint the destination so as not to displease a certain unnamed country, and the next thing we heard that some “researchers” found the itinerary and lo, the plane was bringing those nasty Korean weapons to Iran. yes sirree bob.

Compare the international outcry over the Gaza massacre to the relative silence toward Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamil people in 2008 and 2009. Conservative estimates place the death roll at over 20,000 people, perhaps as high as 50,000. The Colombo regime dismissed all attempts to cease its military operations, negotiate with the Tamil Tigers or allow the transfer of hundreds of thousands of civilians to safety. Today, close to 300,000 Tamils are trapped in government-imposed camps, surrounded by barbed wire and unable to leave.

3. Sri Lanka: Tamils throw weight behind general who crushed them

Seven months after Sri Lanka’s long and bitter civil war was brought to an end by a withering government assault, the political coalition that supported the Tamil Tigers has thrown its support behind the former army chief who crushed them….Over the weekend, with the campaign gathering pace, the former general toured the formerly rebel-held Jaffna Peninsula and said he would create an environment that encouraged business, relax security measures and return land seized by the military. He also said he would release hundreds of Tamil youths held on suspicion of having links to the rebels and offer amnesty and rehabilitation to hardcore fighters.

Making up 12 per cent of the population, Tamils represent an important electoral bloc and the UNP opposition coalition has been seeking to reach out to the TNA, which currently holds 22 seats in Sri Lanka’s 225-member parliament. At yesterday’s press conference, Mr Sambanthan did not comment on Mr Fonseka’s role in the alleged abuse that is said to have taken place during the closing stages of the war, when the UN estimates up to 10,000 Tamil civilians were killed. However, he said his party talked with both candidates about issues that were of importance to Tamils, such as the resettlement of some 300,000 civilians displaced by the war, the rehabilitation of areas destroyed by the fighting and the dismantling of so-called high-security zones in Tamil areas.

read more @ independent

4. meanwhile….

siege ends in Iindian Kashmir - two militants hold hotel for 24 hours, shot dead by police

there are no drugs in Goa - the problem is a “media creation”

russian girl raped by Goa politician says her statement was not recorded by police

The police inspector had allegedly cautioned the victim that the accused, John Fernandes, was an “influential person and can get her visa cancelled.” “They were pressurising me to tell (write the complaint) that John just pushed me and gave bad words…He (Shirodkar) told me that John was a powerful person,” the girl claimed. The victim, whose drink was spiked allegedly by John and later raped in a car at Colva beach, had written to Consul General of Russia in Mumbai, describing the ordeal which she went through at the police station.

accused surrenders

in Israel, rabbi suspected of making 1,200 obscene calls to children http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1141018.html


rich and famous

1. dying to escape: the desperation of Kuwait’s abused maids

KUWAIT: Thirteen suicides of migrant workers were documented in Kuwait in November 2009 alone by Migrant Rights, an international organization for migrant workers. According to the Migrant Rights webpage, not a week goes by in Kuwait without a report about a maid setting herself on fire, hanging herself, drinking detergent, or mysteriously ‘falling’ from a roof or balcony.

…Elena, who sustained multiple bone fractures, in her hands, hips and legs in the fall, is scheduled to undergo a major operation today. Her sponsors, meanwhile, turned up at the hospital not out of concern for her, but to tell her that they had filed a case against her for attempted suicide and for stealing valuables, although the few goods that Elena has are inside her suitcase - which they packed and brought to the hospital with them for her.

My sponsor gave the bag to me; it’s in my [hospital] locker right now, but I haven’t opened it yet,” Elena said. “My madam told me that I took valuable things from their house and that she has filed a case with the police against me. I’m not worried because I don’t do such things. There is a [security] camera inside their house anyway, so how could I steal valuables?

read more @ kuwait times

2. Johnson and Johnson heiress dead at 30 from suspected drug overdose

The heiress to one of the world’s largest business empires has died of a suspected drugs overdose aged just 30. Casey Johnson, whose family founded the £110 billion Johnson and Johnson pharmaceuticals giant, was found dead at her Los Angeles home.

…’It appears to be a natural death. There’s no evidence of foul play. A toxicology report from the coroner’s office will proceed next,’ she said…Ms Johnson was known to have a history of drug abuse, and reports in the US say she may have been dead for a number of days before her body was found.

3. CIA reportedly ordered murder of 911 suspect in Hamburg
A CIA assassination team reportedly targeted a Syrian-German man living in Hamburg after he was connected to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to the latest edition of Vanity Fair magazine, the US spy agency wanted to liquidate Mamoun Darkazanli, who is thought to have been a financier for the Islamist terror network Al-Qaida. Intelligence officials in Washington even farmed out the hit to a squad of contract killers, but the deed was never carried out.

“The CIA team supposedly went in ‘dark,’ meaning they did not notify their own station – much less the German government – of their presence,” the magazine wrote in article about Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious security firm Blackwater. “They then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down.”

read more @ the local

4. Saudi envoy to see Thai PM — prolly wants the family jewels back

Saudi charge d’affaires to Thailand Nabil Hussein Ashri will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House next Monday to ask about progress made in the investigation of the disappearance of Saudi businessmen Mohammad al-Ruwaili, acting government spokesman Panithan Wattanayagorn said on Tuesday.

Mr Panithan said the meeting between the Saudi envoy and Mr Abhisit was a good sign that Thai-Saudi relations might be about to improve because much progress has been made in the investigation into the disappearance of al-Ruwaili, a relative of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

read more @ bangkok post

5. Boris Berezovsky deep in hot water - docs seized in Brazil being sent to Russia

Minister Celso de Mello, of the Supreme Court, confirmed the decision that authorized federal courts to deliver justice to Russia which are documents and equipment of Boris Abramovich Berezovsky seized in Brazil in 2006. A partner of Media Sports Investment (MSI) in the Sport Club Corinthians Paulista 2004 to 2007, Boris Berezovsky is accused of the crimes of money laundering and conspiracy in Brazil which is also being investigated in Russia.

Boris Berezovsky’s defense attorney filed a Habeas Corpus in the Supreme Court to try to prevent the delivery of the documents and computers seized from the businessman to Russian authorities. The order to deliver the documents and equipment came from Judge Fausto de Sanctis, of the 6th Federal Vara of São Paulo, at the behest of the Prosecutor of the Russian Federation.

read more @ pravda


6. October 2007: Berezovsky is arch-rival of Roman Abramovich, who lately has been very complimentary of Putin kiss kiss hug hug

It was a modern-day clash of the Titans - two of the richest men in the world locking horns in a bitter row over their huge egos and even bigger fortunes. Shoppers in London’s exclusive Sloane Street watched in amazement as Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and his deadliest business rival Boris Berezovsky played out a scene more reminiscent of a gangster movie.

Berezovsky, a one-time business partner of Abramovich in three major Russian companies, had been trying for six months to serve a £5 billion writ on him - and yesterday he finally got his chance. Flanked by three bodyguards, Berezovsky - who was granted political asylum in Britain four years ago after fleeing Russia in the face of embezzlement charges - had been shopping in the designer store Dolce & Gabbana. And as he was leaving, he spotted his sworn enemy in the Hermes store two doors away. Berezovsky, 61, immediately ordered one of his burly bodyguards to fetch the writ from his £300,000 Maybach limousine parked nearby. But as he tried to enter the shop with the document, his path was blocked by Abramovich’s three SAS-trained security men. As a scuffle ensued between the two sets of rival bodyguards, Berezovsky forced open the door and barged his way in to confront an ashen-faced Abramovich.

the way, way back machine

Look at Kazakhstan. Involved in the Thai plane incident. Making big pipeline deals with the Chinese. New city Astana full of symbolic buildings. Strategic partner of Israel. Sparsely populated but with vast natural resources.

Kazakhstan is next door to much smaller Kyrgyzstan.

Look at these amazing pictures of Kyrgyzstan from March of this year.

Late last month, the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan voted - by an overwhelming margin - to terminate their lease to the United States of Manas Air Base, and required the Americans to vacate the base within six months. The vote followed closely on the heels of an earlier announcement that Russia would be providing over $2 billion in financial aid to Kyrgyzstan. Manas is a crucial air base for operations in and around Afghanistan, and U.S. officials remain hopeful that there may still be room for negotiation. The majority of Kyrgyzstan’s population appears to have little concern about the closure, instead focusing on their own struggles to get by, as migrant work in Russia has recently evaporated, and jobs at home in Kyrgyzstan are hard to come by. News photos from Kyrgyzstan are few and far between - that said, here is a collection of recent scenes from festivals, rural life, and Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan.

These people look pretty tough. They don’t watch teevee. Most of them don’t own teevees.

Kyrgyzstan has a rich cultural tradition of music and storytelling, and a thousand year old epic called Manas with a half-million poetic lines, which a few masters of each generation learn and recite.

I don’t think these people would be easy to mind-control.

^^^^^^^

Journalists have been killed and beaten there recently.

Gennadyi Pavlyuk, a well-known political journalist and media-expert, was pronounced dead December 22 in Almaty, Kazakstan. Pavlyuk’s death is the latest in a string of suspicious incidents and violent attacks against freelance reporters in Kyrgyz Republic.

According to Radio Free Europe’s Kyrgyz branch, “Azattyk,” on December 16 in the city of Almaty (Kazakstan), Kazakh police responded to a report, arriving to a scene where unconscious Pavlyuk was found on the ground by a residential building, after falling off the sixth floor. (See more)

Kazakh police confirmed that Pavlyuk’s death was violent. RFE/RL reported that his feet and hands were bound behind his back with duct tape.

Pavlyuk has been working as freelancer for various Russian news agencies in Kyrgyzstan. He is also a founder of a popular and independent news outlet Parus.kg in the country.

Omurbek Tekebaev, a leader of the opposition “Ata Meken” party, told RFE/RL that Pavlyuk had been working closely with members of the opposition on media project prior to his departure to Almaty. By Tekebaev’s assumption, the outspoken reporter Pavlyuk’s incident was directly connected to his professional duties.

There were two more separate attacks reported in the country in the past two weeks. On December 9, a pro-Kremlin Russian political analyst and critic of Kyrgyz President Bakiev’s foreign policy, Aleksander Knyazev, was beaten by unknown attackers, RFE/RL reported. The assailants, as Knyazev recalls, made it specifically clear to him that his job is a primary reason for such action.

On December 15, in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, the independent local newspaper Osh Shamy received a letter containing a pistol bullet and printed warning of consequences caused by Osh Shamy’s publications, RFE/RL Kyrgyz branch reported.

The newspaper chief-editor Aldakulov expressed his concern in an interview with RFE/RL on the current status of fellow journalist’s safety in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Osh Shamy staff journalist Djoldoshev was in the spotlight last month when he was brutally assaulted by unknown attackers.

Yet another attack took place on December 16 in Bishkek city. Aleksandr Evgrafov, a correspondent for the Russian BaltInfo news agency was beaten by two individuals in Kyrgyz police uniform. The Russian journalist, Evgrafov, told RFE/RL that they forced him into a car without license plates. His refusal to be searched led to a beating after which men told him not to criticize Kyrgyzstan in his articles.

Kyrgyzstan recently has been harshly criticized by Western Human Rights Organizations due to the worsening political situation with freedoms and rights.

The Kyrgyz government routinely deports the foreign representatives of such human rights organizations, which was a special subject of OSCE statement on Kyrgyzstan.

What is the explanation? What are these journalists doing that merits death threats, beatings, and murder? The violence targets Russian journalists and news outlets in particular. The police do not seem to be overly interesting in solving the cases.

“Listen, we warn you. All of you . . . must leave our Kyrgyzstan and stop meddling in our lives.”

^^^^^^^

Central Asia’s natural resources make it critical to the strategic goals of the US, China, Russia and of course our good friends Israel.

World’s second largest oil and gas reserves are present in Central Asia, and keeping Peak oil in mind, the race is on for oil reserves. In words of one of my friend, Mid East and Central Asia are the two weights on a power dumbbell, while Pakistan and Afghanistan are the rod joining the weights. Whoever holds this dumbbell holds it through Pakistan and Afghanistan. Whoever holds this dumbbell is the most powerful in the world.

So far China and Russia seem to be coming out ahead, way ahead, in aligning with the Central Asian countries. The president of Kazakhstan knows the value of his country, and he is not just giving it away. According to this article, the West is freaking out now because China has eaten our lunch. And it’s basically too late to do a damn thing about it, except maybe try to start some civil unrest.

Nursultan Nazarbayev has a way of drawing lines in the sand. The president of Kazakhstan recently told global oil and metal majors that new laws would allow only those foreign investors that cooperate with his industrialization program to tap his nation’s mineral resources.

“We will work only with those who propose projects helping diversification of the economy,” he said at a December 4 investment conference in Astana, the Kazakh capital, which was attended by ArcelorMittal, Chevron, Total, ENRC and other investors. To any unwilling to collaborate, he said: “We will look for new partners, offer them favorable conditions and resources to fulfill projects.”

For good measure, he added that Beijing has asked Kazakhstan - a country the size of Europe but with just 16 million people - to allow Chinese farmers to use one million hectares of Kazakh land to cultivate crops such as soya and rape seed.

Pro-Western elements in Kazakh politics have since taken to the streets. On December 17, addressing a rally in Almaty, Bolat Abilov, co-chairman of the opposition party Azat [United Social Democratic Party] drew an apocalyptic scenario: “If we tomorrow give, or distribute, one million hectares of land, it would mean 15 people working per hectare. That means 15 million people would be brought from China. If one of those 15 people were to give birth each year, that would be the end. In 50 years, there would be 50 million Chinese [in Kazakhstan].”

The new pipeline has been commissioned, connecting gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (and possibly Russia) to China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Some experts predict that security for this pipeline will be an issue (WINK WINK WINK).

The implication was obvious: that China’s Central Asian pipeline could become a sitting duck for terrorists. As Robert Ebel, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, put it, security could be impossible if the pipelines become targets as they pass through vast stretches of sparsely populated areas in Central Asia and Xinjiang. “There is no way you can protect a pipeline along its entire length. It just can’t be done”, Ebel, a security expert, maintained. Unrest in Xinjiang, particularly, threatens the Central Asian pipeline, he added. “I’m sure it’s causing grey hairs on the people in Beijing,” he said.

The American experts have drawn a doomsday scenario for the Chinese pipeline.

(It’s always important to telegraph and predict terrible things before you secretly arrange them. That way you look really smart after the fact.)

Growing nervousness in Washington about the Chinese pipeline was quite palpable….”China is having increasing and heavy influence in Central Asia,” Morningstar said. “It is hard for us [the US] to compete with China in some of these countries. It’s easy for Turkmenistan to make a deal with China when China comes in and says, ‘Hey, we’re going to write a check for X amount of money, we’re going to build a pipeline’. That’s not a hard deal to accept, and we [US] can’t compete in that way.”

The Chinese have totally outmaneuvered The West. They started early, they worked it long, they have the money. What does The West bring to the table anymore?? Nothing. Our leaders have squandered everything we had, even, and especially, any kind of moral standing that might have tipped the strategic scales in our favor in years past. It is all gone buh-bye.

Western experts often speak in a dismissive tone that the Central Asians prefer the Chinese because they never raise difficult issues such as democracy and human rights. But this is far too simplistic a reading. Central Asian countries see Western discourse on democracy and human rights as doublespeak from countries that pander to authoritarian regimes without scruples when it suits their business interests.

Indeed.

^^^^^^^

Do outsiders want to “own” Central Asian culture? Why would they? Because lineage matters to some people. History matters. Being the oldest matters.

I think some people might have their eyes on more than natural resources.

It’s just a suspicion.

Knowing how people are.

But I could be wrong.

If you wanted to control how the Kyrgyz people think, aside from the terrorism method, you’d have to insinuate yourself somehow into their Manas epic, into their ancient history.

It would take time, decades perhaps, of scholarly work. Of cultural appreciation. Of sharing and helping, until the “discovery” of long lost brotherhood, before. Before.

Who would do such a sick thing? Stolen identities? Nothing new under the sun.

fantasy island

Boss…the plane, the plane…

Wayne Madsen reports that it was a CIA sting operation to embarrass North Korea. Maybe.

WMR’s Asian intelligence sources strongly suspect that an Ilyushin-76 cargo plane seized in Bangkok on December 12 transporting 40 tons of North Korean weapons was a CIA sting operation designed to obtain, using a “front” airline and regular arms smuggling route, the latest North Korean weaponry available for purchase on the black market.

Salient points:

1. The plane was registered in Georgia, close ally of the US and Israel.
2. Before that the plane was registered to two separate Kazakhstan private airlines, where it had allegedly been involved in arms smuggling to places like Eritrea, Somalia, India and possibly Hanoi.
3. A New Zealand company which also does business in Ukraine chartered the flight.
4. The New Zealand company’s parent company is registered in Vanuatu.
5. The owner of these businesses is a Mr. Geoffrey Taylor, of New Zealand, who has brokered Azerbaijani oil sales.
6. The four men on board carried Kazakhstan passports and the pilot carried a Belarus passport.

When Thai authorities seized the weapons, reportedly after a “tip” from U.S intelligence sources, the plane was discovered to have a false cargo declaration stating the plane was carrying oil drilling equipment, a rather strange export from North Korea, a non-oil producing or exploration nation. Instead, the plane was found to be transporting rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, missile tubes, surface-to-air missile launchers, military spare parts and other weapons. Thai authorities stated that the U.S. intelligence sources that tipped them off stated that the final destination for the cargo was “sensitive information.” Thai authorities claimed the military cargo would be “destroyed” but the crates and boxes were trucked to a secure warehouse at a Thai air force base in Nakhon Sawan province outside of Bangkok.

The IL-76 landed at Hostomel Airport, near Kiev on October 13, reportedly without any cargo, and flew to Baku, Azerbaijan on December, 8 and onward to the United Arab Emirates (reportedly Sharjah), landing in Bangkok on the morning of December 12 for refueling.

The plane took off for Pyongyang and after picking up the weapons landed back in on Mueang, Bangkok at 4 pm on December 12.

The plane’s onward destinations from Bangkok were reportedly Colombo, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.

WMR’s Asian intelligence sources believe that the CIA knew the plane was planning to pick up weapons in North Korea and may have even chartered the aircraft and arranged a deal to purchase the North Korean weapons through shadowy front companies to both embarrass the North Koreans and discover what was being sold on the global weapons black market.

So how do they know the plane was empty when it refueled in Bangkok on the morning of the 12th? It had already made two stops. It sounds like they know a lot more about this flight than they let on, considering that the cargo destination is “sensitive information.” Could the weapons have been loaded in Azerbaijan or the UAE?

Was it heading to Sri Lanka, as reported here?

A plane heading from North Korea to Sri Lanka with weapons onboard was detained together with its crew in Thailand today, the Thai media reported. The Thai authorities found massive numbers of the shoulder-launched missile weapon including rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), anti-aircraft SAM (surface to air missiles) and ammunition.

…More than 100 Thai security personnel searched a Russian-built IL-76 military air transport bearing the designation AWG 732 when aircraft, which flew from North Korea asked permission to land at Bangkok`s domestic Don Mueang airport to refill fuel.

The Thai authorities said the airplane was believed to be carrying the weapons to Sri Lanka, where a long civil war recently ended.

According to the authorities, the plane earlier arrived at Don Mueang airport once in the morning for refueling before departing for North Korea after it had loaded with the heavy weaponry and asked to refuel again at the airport at 4pm.

If true, why would that be “sensitive information?”

Well, there are reasons.

Compare the international outcry over the Gaza massacre to the relative silence toward Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamil people in 2008 and 2009. Conservative estimates place the death roll at over 20,000 people, perhaps as high as 50,000. The Colombo regime dismissed all attempts to cease its military operations, negotiate with the Tamil Tigers or allow the transfer of hundreds of thousands of civilians to safety. Today, close to 300,000 Tamils are trapped in government-imposed camps, surrounded by barbed wire and unable to leave.

Sri Lanka was fighting its own war on terror? with the Israeli playbook. Ban all independent media from the war zone, demonize human rights groups as sympathetic to terrorists, dismiss all questioning of tactics as giving in to terrorism and support the doctrine of overwhelming fire-power. Like Israel, Sri Lanka won the battle, but will inevitably lose the war.

Sri Lanka doesn’t enjoy favored nation status like Israel but it should face a thorough examination of its conduct during the war. Many states, such as Israel and China, have no desire to discover the truth behind the conflict because they provided arms to the Sri Lankan government. Israel is reportedly protecting Sri Lanka from any American pressure against its actions. But obstacles to international justice should not preclude their commencement. Crimes in Congo, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia were thoroughly investigated by legal bodies, even if the final outcomes were not perfect.

So now the weapons, wherever they came from and wouldn’t we like to know, are in Thailand. At first, on the 15th, Thailand was definitely going to destroy the weapons, they just needed some money from the UN to help with that not sure how much.

Now the story is they have to investigate some more, and then they will decide whether to destroy the weapons or keep them for the Thai military. Finders keepers.

And according to the New York Times (hahaha), you can read an entirely different story! The destination and buyer remain mysteries, but the weapons appeared to be destined for Iran according to a Belgium research organization. Meh, there’s so much smoke and mirrors who can say for sure, but yeah it looks like Iran.

A research organization based in Belgium that specializes in the analysis of arms trafficking posted documents this week on its Web site that appear to show Iran as the drop-off point.

…The report by the International Peace Information Service, the Belgian organization, said the flight plan of the Ilyushin-76 is consistent with the range and cruise speed of the aircraft. A copy of the documents are posted on their Web site. The report also includes copies of what the authors say are the aircraft’s charter agreement, the air waybill and the aircraft’s certificate of registration.

The report was written in collaboration with TransArms, a U.S.-based group based that researches arms shipments.

The documents appear to show that the flight was chartered early this month by Union Top Management Ltd., a company registered in Hong Kong that was set up in November.

The document is signed by Dario Cabreros, who is described as the company’s representative.

Somsak Saithong, the lawyer for the crew, said he had seen the documents but that his copy of the flight plan shows that the cargo was bound for Ukraine. “I can certify that Iran was not the final destination,” Mr. Somsak said in an interview.

The crew members are being held at a detention center here while the police conduct their investigation. They said in an interview last week that they had traveled the world on similar missions and that they rarely asked about the nature of the cargo they were carrying.

The Thai authorities have not offered more detail on the exact nature of the weapons seized and say they will destroy the arms after they take an inventory and report it to the United Nations Security Council.

But the Thai government also appears wary to investigate too deeply into to the arms shipment.

The deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, said last week that the inquiry would not focus on where the weapons were headed. “Thai authorities will not pinpoint where the weapons were destined for delivery in order not to displease a certain country,” he was quoted as saying in the Thai media. He did not elaborate.

Interesting.

And now Bloomberg with the “paper trail” dragging Hong Kong and Spain into the loop, making the whole thing completely confusing. Notice that nobody questions that the weapons are from North Korea, but has that actually been proven anywhere? I missed that part. It *appears* to be assumed as fact in every source.

Dario Cabreros Garmendia, the director of Union Top whose signature is on the charter agreement, owns 99.99 percent of the company’s shares and is based in Barcelona, according to Hong Kong registry records. The Hong Kong company’s link to the North Korean weapons was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

…“If you wanted to make a clandestine flight from Pyongyang to Tehran you would go over Chinese and Mongolian airspace and then drop down through the Stans,” he said, referring to countries in central Asia. “To fly it through Bangkok, which is so well known for drugs smuggling, seems so damn stupid. For some reason Union Top Management insisted the flight had to go where it went.”

Another mystery man, like David Headley, coming and going like the wind.

Among difficulties facing investigators is a fly-by-night infrastructure seemingly rigged up for the flight, including a Hong Kong-based company reportedly involved which was only incorporated Nov. 2 and whose director could not be traced there or at his address in Spain….But according to a flight plan seen by arms trafficking researchers, the aircraft was chartered by Hong Kong-based Union Top Management Ltd. to fly oil industry spare parts from Pyongyang to Tehran, Iran, with several other stops, including Bangkok, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.Union Top was set up by a company called R & G Management Consultancy, according to a woman who answered the door at Union Top’s registered office. She said she didn’t know a man called Dario Cabreros Garmendia _ who signed Union Top’s incorporation in Hong Kong on Nov. 2 _ and did not know how to reach anyone at the company….Garmendia listed Barcelona, Spain, as his address on another document related to the set up of the company. But AP reporters asked four people living next to the location and none had heard of him or the company.

Obviously some of the information circulating in the NYT, Bloomberg, and the AP contradicts the Wayne Madsen report, up top, which concludes like this:

After the plane was seized in Bangkok, dubious sources reported that the plane was en route to Pakistan, Afghanistan, or an unnamed “Middle Eastern” country, such as Iran, to deliver its weapons.

The IL-76’s most recent owner, Air West Georgia, has close links with the same ownership, to Sun Air, a privately-owned airline headquartered in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, which runs service to Nyala, the largest city in war-torn Darfur.

The “arms-napping” operation against North Korea came just days after the US Special Envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, announced, after a three-day trip to Pyongyang, an agreement to restart six-party talks with North Korea. The covert operation to seize the North Korean weapons put the planned talks at risk.

And if you’re still with me, back to the AP article which is surprisingly good, in that it points out a few things that MAKE NO SENSE.

Kim Tae-woon, a security expert at the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses, said the weapons known to be aboard the plane _ rocket-propeled grenades, explosives and components for surface-to-air missiles _ were those used by insurgents, not regular armies.

[SUCH AS:] “There are no insurgents in Iran, and in that sense, Iran may not be the destination,” Kim said.

[SUCH AS:] Another puzzle is why the aircraft chose to risk landing in relatively well-policed Bangkok rather than taking a “safer” route. Given the aircraft’s maximum range of more than 4,000 miles (6,440 kilometers), it had a number of landing options.

The complex web of companies set up to facilitate shipments adds further stumbling blocks for investigators. Brian Johnson-Thomas of IPIS said that “this is normal it tends to be a pattern. It is normal (for traffickers) to put in as much obfuscation as possible so that they can’t be traced backward.”

[SUCH AS:] But he said that it was “somewhat strange” that the company contracted for only just one flight rather than a series of flights after going through all the trouble.

And the AP story also introduces other people who reportedly owned and chartered the plane, not Geoffrey Taylor, and questions the stop in Sharjah.

The report says the plane was registered to Air West, a cargo transport company in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Asked to comment on whether the plane was bound for Tehran, company owner Levan Kakabadze told AP he was unaware of the plane’s final destination.

The plane, according to the researchers, was owned by Overseas Cargo FZE, based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates where the plane also made a landing. Officials at the company did not respond to repeated requests for comment and the extent of its physical operations in Sharjah was also unclear.

In recent years, Sharjah’s international airport has become a hub of many small charter and cargo carriers serving Asia, Africa and the former Soviet republics.

Lastly, a few more holes in the story:

Somsak said the five men complained that they had been forced by police investigators into signing documents written in Thai. They asked to be provided with a translator.

The report on the flight plan from the nonprofit groups TransArms in the United States and IPIS of Belgium was funded by the Belgian government and Amnesty International. It could not be independently verified.

…Speaking by telephone from Batumi, Georgia, Kakabadze said he leased the plane to the SP Trading company and could bear no responsibility for what happened next.

Researchers say the plane’s previous registration documents link it to Air Cess and Centrafrican Airlines, which are allegedly connected to Bout, who has been in prison in Thailand since he was arrested March 6.

Pretty confusing. I think that must be on purpose.

So, shorter is:

NORTH KOREA Weapons Thailand Georgia Ukraine Kazakhstan US Israel Belgium Sri Lanka Azerbaijan Belarus Eritrea Somalia India Vanuatu Hanoi Hong Kong Spain New Zealand Sharjah UAE Russia RPG CIA SAM IL AWG GT SP IPIS FZE Bout IRAN.