The latest boots hitting Iraqi ground from TheLocal.it:
Isis: Italy to send 280 soldiers to Iraq
Italy will send 280 soldiers to Iraq to train Kurdish forces in their fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) jihadist group, Italy’s defence minister Roberta Pinotti said.
The country will also dispatch a KC-767 aircraft for in-flight refueling and two Predator drones for regional surveillance, Ansa reported.
In September, Italy said it would send arms and aid to Iraq as part of its involvement in a US-lead coalition fight against the militant group, but that it would not take part in air strikes.
Canadian boots on the ground from the Toronto Globe and Mail:
Mission could involve a year of training Iraqi forces, Canadian general says
Countries intervening in the Iraq conflict will be called upon to conduct large-scale training of Iraqi forces for as long as a year after a U.S.-led coalition succeeds in blunting the attack power of Islamic State jihadists there, top Canadian military commanders say.
This suggests Canada’s military involvement to the Iraq conflict could stretch far beyond the six-month commitment made by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
General Tom Lawson, chief of the defence staff, said a meeting of coalition countries in Washington earlier this week devoted a lot of time to how to train the Iraqi army. Bagdhad’s existing forces, which benefitted from years of training assistance by the United States, nevertheless fell apart when faced with advancing Islamic State forces earlier this year.
He said Canada right now is part of the emergency response to this jihadist force that has wreaked havoc across parts of Iraq and Syria.
Look, up in the sky! From the Guardian:
Islamic State training pilots to fly MiG fighter planes, says monitoring group
- Militants reportedly have three captured jets and witnesses cited as saying they have seen planes flying low over Aleppo
Islamic State (Isis) is takings its first steps towards building an air force by training pilots to fly captured fighter planes, according to a group monitoring the conflict in Syria.
Isis is using lots of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and Jeeps taken from the Syrian and Iraqi armies but this is the first report that it has planes in the air.
Isis, which took the US by surprise this year with its rapid territorial expansion in Syria and Iraq, has three Russian-built MiG jets, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which appears to have a good network of observers on the ground and has often proved reliable in the past.
And else in MENA, via the Washington Post:
Libyan general’s forces make major push to oust Islamist militants from Benghazi
A rogue Libyan general waging a months-long campaign against Libya’s Islamists launched a full-blown assault on Benghazi this week, touching off clashes with the militants dominating the city.
More than a dozen people have been killed in the violence, which started Wednesday, raising fears that the battles will evolve into an all-out civil war.
Khalifa Hifter announced in a televised address Tuesday that he intends to “liberate” Benghazi — the epicenter of the 2011 uprising against strongman Moammar Gaddafi — from the Islamist militias that stalk its streets.
A day later, the 71-year-old Hifter launched his effort. His forces — a mixture of former Gaddafi officers, pro-Hifter militias and army troops — stormed Benghazi to oust the militants.
And the corporate silver lining to clouds of war from MintPress News:
ISIS: Military Contractors’ “Gravy Train” To Profits
“Wall Street’s looking ahead and saying, ‘War’s good for business and companies are going to cash in,’” the director of a think tank aimed at addressing war and corruption, among other issues, tells MintPress News
Since the beginning of the year, the defense stocks of America’s top five arms producers — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — have risen substantially. Last month, Bloomberg reported that “the biggest U.S. defense companies are trading at record prices as shareholders reap rewards from escalating military conflicts around the world.”
These conflicts include the Afghanistan War, NATO’s arms buildup to monitor Russia in Ukraine, military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and armaments for governments wishing to suppress internal dissent.
Arms contractors are “trying to exploit the crisis,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, a Washington-based think tank aimed at addressing war, corruption, inequality and climate change. It appears they’re succeeding this regard, as investors are greedily buying up stocks of weapons manufacturers. For example, Lockheed Martin’s share prices have risen from $146 a share at the beginning of the year to $174 today.
“Wall Street’s betting that this war’s going to go on for awhile, and that the Pentagon is going to get rid of budget cuts,” Hartung said of the conflict with ISIS. “It’s going to be a gravy train. Companies are sort of saying, ‘I don’t know how much we’re going to make,’ but Wall Street’s looking ahead and saying, ‘War’s good for business and companies are going to cash in.’”
But then there’s that whole question of just whose boots will be meeting Syrian and Iraqi ground. From RT America:
Generals contradict Obama’s “no boots on the ground” ISIS strategy
Mixed messages out of Washington are leaving many wondering who is in control of the US-led war against the Islamic State group. While President Barack Obama reassures the public no American soldiers will be fighting on the ground, repeated comments by top military leaders seemingly contradict, or at least muddy, the commander in chief’s message. RT’s Ben Swann speaks with former high-ranking CIA officer Ray McGovern to get his take.
BBC News covers more blowback:
Terror plot suspects planned to kill police, court hears
Five men have appeared in court charged in connection with a terror plot “to shoot, to kill, police officers or soldiers on the streets of London”.
Tarik Hassane, Suhaib Majeed, Nyall Hamlett, and Momen Motasim, all from London, have been charged with intending to commit acts of terrorism. A fifth man, Nathan Cuffy, 25, from London, faces firearms offences.
All five were remanded in custody until 27 October after the hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, and they’re rethinking that whole blame-Hitler-for-the-Holocaust thing too:
Senate’s inquiry into CIA torture sidesteps blaming Bush, aides
A soon-to-be released Senate report on the CIA doesn’t assess the responsibility of former President George W. Bush or his top aides for any of the abuses of the agency’s detention and interrogation program, avoiding a full public accounting of one of the darkest chapters of the war on terror.
“This report is not about the White House. It’s not about the president. It’s not about criminal liability. It’s about the CIA’s actions or inactions,” said a person familiar with the document, who asked not to be further identified because the executive summary – the only part to that will be made public – still is in the final stages of declassification.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report also didn’t examine the responsibility of top Bush administration lawyers in crafting the legal framework that permitted the CIA to use simulated drowning called waterboarding and other interrogation methods widely described as torture, McClatchy has learned.
On a related note, consider this from the Intercept:
Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture from Beyond the Grave
In the fall of 2006, Nathaniel Raymond, a researcher with the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights, got a call from a man professing to be a CIA contractor. Scott Gerwehr was a behavioral science researcher who specialized in “deception detection,” or figuring out when someone was lying. Gerwehr told Raymond “practically in the first five minutes” that he had been at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo in the summer of 2006, but had left after his suggestion to install video-recording equipment in detainee interrogation rooms was rejected. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t operate at a facility that didn’t tape. It protects the interrogators and it protects the detainees,’” Raymond recalls.
Gerwehr also told Raymond that that he had read the CIA inspector general’s report on detainee abuse, which at the time had not been made public. But “he didn’t behave like a traditional white knight,” Raymond told The Intercept. Though he had reached out to Raymond and perhaps others, he didn’t seem like a prototypical whistleblower. He didn’t say what he was trying to do or ask for help; he just dropped the information. Raymond put him in touch with a handful of reporters, and their contact ended in 2007.
In 2008, at the age of 40, Gerwehr died in a motorcycle accident on Sunset Boulevard. Years after Gerwehr died, New York Times reporter James Risen obtained a cache of Gerwehr’s files, including emails that identify him as part of a group of psychologists and researchers with close ties to the national security establishment. Risen’s new book, Pay Any Price, uses Gerwehr’s emails to show close collaboration between staffers at the American Psychological Association (APA) and government officials, collaboration that offered a fig leaf of health-professional legitimacy to the CIA and military’s brutal interrogations of terror suspects.
Reuters covers spooky funny business:
Exclusive: NSA reviewing deal between official, ex-spy agency head
The U.S. National Security Agency has launched an internal review of a senior official’s part-time work for a private venture started by former NSA director Keith Alexander that raises questions over the blurring of lines between government and business.
Under the arrangement, which was confirmed by Alexander and current intelligence officials, NSA’s Chief Technical Officer, Patrick Dowd, is allowed to work up to 20 hours a week at IronNet Cybersecurity Inc, the private firm led by Alexander, a retired Army general and his former boss.
The arrangement was approved by top NSA managers, current and former officials said. It does not appear to break any laws and it could not be determined whether Dowd has actually begun working for Alexander, who retired from the NSA in March.
Hitting that old brick wall, with the Associated Press:
Lawmakers probing NSA face German secrecy hurdles
German lawmakers probing the U.S. National Security Agency following Edward Snowden’s revelations have hit a hurdle: their own government.
Officials have refused to let a parliamentary inquiry see dozens of German intelligence documents detailing the extent to which the country’s spy agencies cooperated with their U.S. counterparts.
A government spokeswoman said Friday that Germany is bound by secrecy accords that give the U.S. the right to review and comment on any documents that affect its interests.
But spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz denied this amounted to a U.S. veto.
A replacement named, via Reuters:
China names new envoy to Iceland after Japan spying report
Chinese President Xi Jinping has appointed China’s new ambassador to Iceland, a month after overseas Chinese media reported that the previous envoy had been arrested for passing secrets to Japan.
The announcement by China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday was the first official confirmation that Beijing had replaced its previous envoy to Iceland, Ma Jisheng. New York-based Chinese language portal Mingjing News reported in September that Ma and his wife had been taken away by Chinese state security earlier this year.
Zhang Weidong, 57, replaces Ma, who was suspected of having become a Japanese spy while working in the Chinese embassy in Tokyo between 2004 and 2008, according to Mingjing News.
A sub-marine mystery from the Associated Press:
‘Foreign underwater activity’ reported in Sweden
Sweden’s military says it has sent naval vessels, aircraft and home guard forces to investigate reports of “foreign underwater activity” in the Stockholm archipelago.
The Armed Forces say they launched an intelligence operation Friday in the archipelago after receiving information “from a credible source.” Armed Forces spokesman Jesper Tengroth wouldn’t say whether a submarine had been sighted or give any other details.
The announcement was reminiscent of the Cold War, when Sweden’s armed forces routinely hunted for Soviet submarines in its waters.
And from TheLocal.de, drones delayed:
Bundeswehr drones can’t handle Ukraine winter
‘Luna’ drones promised by Germany to monitor the Russian-Ukrainian border may not be sent after all – they can’t handle the bitter cold expected in the Ukrainian winter.
“It’s a technical problem of the Luna system that it can’t be controlled reliably at temperatures below minus 19 degrees [Centigrade, minus two Fahrenheit],” German MP Gernot Erler told public broadcaster Deutsche Rundfunk.
Winter temperatures in the region would often plunge far lower at the drones’ operational heights of 3,000 metres and above, Bild reported, citing a military source.
While MIT Technology Review ponders commercial drones:
Air Traffic Control for Drones
- If large numbers of commercial drones are to take to the skies, they’ll need an air traffic control system
How do you keep small drone aircraft safe in the world’s busiest national airspace? One idea is to have them use cellphone networks to feed data back to an air traffic control system made just for drones.
A startup called Airware is working with NASA on a project exploring how to manage the swarms of commercial drones expected to start appearing in U.S. skies. The four-year program will create a series of prototype air traffic management systems and could shape how widely commercial drones can be used. Airware’s main business is selling control software and hardware to drone manufacturers and operators.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has yet to propose rules to govern the use of commercial robotic aircraft in U.S. skies. But it predicts that 7,500 unmanned craft weighing 55 pounds (25 kilograms) or less will be operating in the U.S. by 2018.
Whilst droning on, consider this from Deutsche Welle:
Scientists at the Technical University of Zurich have been working with Cirque du Soleil to choreograph ten lampshades fitted with small drones in an aerial dance. The result: a hit video on Youtube.
Back to the serious side with another scoop from the Assange set, via the Guardian:
WikiLeaks’ free trade documents reveal ‘drastic’ Australian concessions
- Secret negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership have been apparently revealed, and experts are concerned about what they show
Secret negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement have apparently been breached by another leak of material which shows Australian consumers could pay more for cancer medicines and face criminal penalties for non-commercial copyright breaches.
The publication on WikiLeaks of the intellectual property (IP) chapter comes on the eve of the latest round of negotiations in Australia between the 12 member countries, Australia, the US, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, Peru, Chile, Brunei and New Zealand.
The agreement has the capacity to affect Australian domestic law in many areas, but the secrecy of negotiations means citizens of member countries do not have full access to the Australian government’s preferred outcomes.
Two of the more contentious areas in the IP area relate to copyright and pharmaceuticals.
After the jump, the latest hacking innovation, Microsoft snares ten million spams a minutes, from tracking terrorists to cops and robbers, an L.A.P.D. meltdown, and a pot-robbin’ federal marshal, allegations of massive police corruption in Old Blighty, the latest on those missing Mexican college students disappeared after a police massacre, the missing mayor implicated in the crime sacked, a mysterious banner names names, the latest student protest, and the dirty war waged on the same ground decades earlier, off to India and a terrorism crackdown coming as an olive branch extends to China, a Sino/Vietnamese rapprochement, on to Hong Kong and a crackdown intensified, a Chinese cartoonist seeks Japanese refuge, a strong hint that Socialist Realism is heading for a mainland comeback, and a protest from China aimed at Tokyo, plus a Washington denial of Tokyo’s claims of an early withdrawal from an Okinawa base, and a truly terrifying security threat in France. . . Continue reading