Monday, April 7, 2008
Russia/US, Pending Iran Attack?, Bird Flu, DHS Mercenaries
More Russian bombers flying off Alaska coast
An F-15C from the 12th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base flies next to a Russian Tu-95 Bear bomber aircraft Sept. 28, 2006, during a Russian military exercise near the west coast of Alaska.
16 intercepts by U.S., Canadian jets since July
More and more American and Canadian fighter jets are scrambling and intercepting Russian bombers flying off the Alaskan coast, exacerbating tensions between the former Cold War foes.
There have been 16 such intercepts since July, Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Howie Chandler told the Anchorage Daily News on March 27. That compares with just one in 2005, and none in the previous 10 years, Chandler said.
The Air Force and North American Aerospace Defense Command would not grant an interview and were unable to confirm those numbers by press time.
Iran fears spark Israel terror drill
JERUSALEM - Israel launched a week-long nationwide Civil Defense drill Sunday as speculation mounted about a possible U.S.-led strike on Iran.
Sirens blared and rescue workers rushed to simulated chemical and biological attack scenes across the Jewish state as authorities mounted the biggest-ever drill in Israel's history. Officials insisted that the exercise - code-named Turning Point 2 - is part of a long-term plan to increase civil preparedness after the failed 2006 invasion of Lebanon.
"This is a routine drill," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "The State of Israel is not seeking violent confrontation." Israel's neighbors and Palestinians blasted the drill as a prelude for more cross-border attacks in Lebanon, Syria or the Gaza Strip.
The drill also came amid rising saber-rattling with Iran, which the U.S. accuses of meddling in neighboring Iraq. A British newspaper reported that Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, will set the stage for military action against Iran when he testifies before Congress this week.
Two weeks ago, Petraeus accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards of carrying out rocket attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad that left 15 civilians dead.
A joint U.S.-Israeli strike on Iran might take aim at the Islamic Republic's fledgling nuclear program - and also seek to deter it from interfering in Iraq. Israeli commentators have speculated that any attack on Iran would most likely take place after the November election, in the dying days of the Bush presidency.
Iran to OPEC: Stop Oil Sales in Dollars
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, listens to Secretary-General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Abdalla Salem el-Badri, left, during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, April 6, 2008.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is urging OPEC members to form a joint bank and stop pricing oil trades in U.S. dollars.
According to the Iranian government's Web site, Ahmadinejad told OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri the cartel "should establish a joint bank as well as having joint currency."
Oil is priced in U.S. dollars on the world market, and the currency's depreciation has concerned producers because it has contributed to rising crude prices and eroded the value of their dollar reserves.
Iran has repeatedly urged OPEC members to shift sales away from dollar. But Iran's proposal to trade oil in a basket of currencies is not supported by enough OPEC members, which include staunch U.S. allies such as leading producer Saudi Arabia
Navy ships deploy to North Atlantic for warfare exercise
Four Navy ships are headed to the North Atlantic to participate in a warfare exercise with navies from nine other countries.
The guided missile destroyers Donald Cook and Barry, the guided missile cruiser Anzio and the fleet replenishment oiler Big Horn will be joined later this week by the frigates Nicholas and Taylor, according to a Navy news release. The Taylor’s home port is Mayport, Fla.
The multi-warfare exercise will improve “interoperability between allied navies” and provide an opportunity for ships to be certified for upcoming deployments, the release says
Bird flu: father infected by dying son
Alarm about a flu pandemic has been restarted by clear evidence that bird flu, which is rife in the Far East, can be transmitted person to person.
This could be one of the first steps in the evolution of the H5N1 strain of avian flu into a deadly pandemic strain that could infect hundreds of millions of people.
Role of military planes declines in Boeing's defense business
"The Boeing Co. morphed," said Wall Street analyst Joe Campbell of Lehman Brothers. On the defense side, building airplanes "is not even what they're known for anymore," he said.
In recent years, Boeing's defense unit has shifted focus from planes to big-ticket electronic-hardware systems: satellites, missile defense, networked warfare and border-surveillance projects
Mercenaries Training US Local Police Officers
"I'm troubled by the use of military personnel -- whether they be US soldiers or private mercenaries -- performing a police or law enforcement function. While they may be experts in fighting wars, they are not constrained by the US Constitution as to how they operate as cops," said former NYPD detective and owner of FLT Security Services, Sidney Francis.
Homeland Security: We're ready to launch spy satellite office
Meet the Bacteria that Will Cause the Next Pandemic