Saturday, March 23, 2013
FAA to close 149 air traffic control towers
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has
made it official and released a final list of all the air traffic control towers
that will be shut at small airports across the country beginning April 7.
The number may seem like a lot, but it's 40 fewer
than originally planned. "Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult
choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration,"
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
The affected airports won't be shut down, but
pilots will have to coordinate take-offs and landings over a shared radio
frequency. That may sound a little odd, but the Associated Press says that "all
pilots are trained to fly using those procedures." Still, many in the aviation
sector have said that taking away a layer of security will increase risks.
When the initial list was released, communities
launched big lobbying campaigns to keep their towers. The FAA has to cut $637
million from its budget until the end of the fiscal year, on Sept. 30, due to
the across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect on March 1.
See the full list of affected airports here
Female sailor found dead aboard U.S. Navy
A 19-year-old female sailor,
assigned to USS Essex (LHD 2), was found with a gunshot wound
aboard the ship on Thursday and later died from her injuries, Navy officials
According to Navy Media
Operations Officer Rick Chernitzer, the ship’s medical personnel responded to
the scene and found the wounded sailor. She was
transported to the UC-San Diego Trauma Center and was pronounced dead a
short time later. Chernitzer said the sailor’s
identification is being withheld until her family is notified of her death.
He said a formal investigation is now underway aboard
the amphibious assault ship, which is currently at its homeport in San
Initially, it was unclear if the
sailor’s wounds were self-inflicted or if any suspects were involved in the
shooting. Yesterday, officials said preliminary investigation suggests the
sailor died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
B-52s get new sniper
By Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland, 2nd Bomb Wing
The 2nd Bomb Wing, at
Barksdale AFB, La., made its first live run with a new addition to the
With constant upgrades
bringing the more than 60-year-old bomber into the 21st century, the addition of
the sniper pod gives the B-52H Strato-fortress better integration with ground
forces and laser-guided bombs for precision strike
"This flight was the first
time that the 2nd BW has used the sniper pod with live ordinance like the LGB,"
said Capt. Ryan Allen, a 20th Bomb Squadron radar navigation instructor. "This
pod gives a faster response time to our targets. What would normally take me 30
to 40 button presses in five minutes, now only takes me a few seconds to
actually target and drop munitions."
This new capability also
allows the air crew to coordinate with ground forces in a new way that is
beneficial to their safety and planning. "With the pod we can integrate with the
guys on the ground and let them see what we see. This way we are on the same
page," Allen said. "It also gives us a greater visibility range over that of the
With technology constantly
moving forward, this new pod gives its own set of challenges to the B-52. "The
way the pod can interact with our avionics system is state of the art," Allen
said. "Most of the systems had to be radically improved to give us total
interaction between the new and old."
With constant improvements
on the aging plane, the 2nd Bomb Wing continues its mission of providing global
deterrence - anywhere and anytime.
Marine Corps Reserve officer nominated for post at
Lt. Gen. Steven Hummer, commander of
the Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, whose national
headquarters are in Algiers, La., has been nominated for a post with the
U.S. Africa Command, the Germany-based command that oversees military operations
U.S. Navy bids farewell to three
By Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, USN
USS Underwood (FFG
36) USS Carr (FFG
52) USS Klakring (FFG
As a Navy tradition, we celebrate a ship’s
achievements and history with decommissioning or inactivation ceremonies. Today,
we reflect on three Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates that concluded
service to the nation this month: USS Underwood (FFG 36), USS
Carr (FFG 52), and USS Klakring (FFG 42), which decommissioned
yesterday in Mayport, Fla.
This class of ships honors Commodore Oliver
Hazard Perry, who was named the "Hero of Lake Erie" during the War of 1812. The
Navy originally built 51 of these guided missile warships, replacing the
Knox-class frigates of the 1960s and various classes of destroyers that were in
service during World War II. Designed to provide local area protection to battle
groups, underway replenishment groups, amphibious forces, and military and
merchant shipping from submarines, their mission evolved over time to include
enhanced-maritime interdiction operations, mine warfare, and counter-narcotics
operations both as a member of battle groups and as independent
After more than 30 years of active service,
USS Underwood (FFG 36) was decommissioned on March 8, in Mayport, Fla.
She was commissioned on Jan. 29, 1983, as the 29th ship in the class. Her
namesake, Capt. Gordon Waite Underwood, received the Navy Cross for his
achievements while in command of USS Spadefish (SS 411) during World
War II. Following her maiden deployment to the 6th Fleet's area of
responsibility, Underwood received tasking in January 1986 to spearhead
search and rescue efforts after the tragic space shuttle Challenger
disaster over the Atlantic Ocean. A truly “Just Friend and Brave Enemy,” she
deployed in support of operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom in the
Arabian Gulf. Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti,
Underwood participated in Operation Unified Response humanitarian
assistance and disaster relief efforts.
USS Carr (FFG 52), the 42nd ship in
the class, was commissioned on July 27, 1985, at Todd Pacific Shipyards, in
Seattle, Wash., and was decommissioned on March 13, in Norfolk, Va. Named
for Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Paul Henry Carr, the ship honors the gunners mate’s
display of outstanding skill and courage while serving aboard USS Samuel B.
Roberts (DE 413) during the battle off Samar, in World War II. GM3 Carr was
posthumously awarded the Silver Star. During the 1980s, Carr deployed
as a convoy commander and a tanker escort in the Arabian Gulf as well as a law
enforcement and counter-narcotics platform in the Caribbean Sea. She aided
USS Bonefish (SS 582) after the conventionally-powered submarine
suffered a fire in 1988, resulting in the rescue of nearly 90 submariners. As a
key asset in maritime intercept operations, Carr’s deployments during
the 1990s and 2000s included missions in the Arabian Gulf, and the Caribbean and
Mediterranean seas. The ship deployed 13 times during her 27 years of
USS Klakring (FFG 42)
honors Rear Adm. Thomas Klakring, submarine commander of USS Guardfish
(SS 217) during World War II. His daring service earned him three Navy Crosses
and a posthumous promotion. The 33rd in its class, Klakring was
commissioned on Aug. 20, 1983, in Bath, Maine. Her initial mid-1980s
deployments were to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean, as well as to the
Arabian Gulf where she participated in escort operations of Kuwaiti-owned oil
tankers during Operation Earnest Will. In 1993, she participated in Operation
Support Democracy off Haiti’s coast, countering drug operations. In 2002, she
participated in UNITAS and, during recent years, she conducted several
counter-narcotics deployments to the U.S. Southern Command.
Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates have
performed brilliantly for more than 30 years. A force in numbers, they protected
vital shipping against foreign aggression and forcefully contributed in our
strategic shift to the Arabian Gulf. However, we built these ships with a
different threat in mind than exists today and the cost to upgrade the ships’
combat systems to pace the current threat became prohibitive.
Today, we are building ships that are
modular, adaptable and flexible, allowing us to quickly and affordably upgrade
our fighting batteries without taking the ship off line for years at a
We salute these three frigates as they have
superbly served our nation and Navy. Fair winds and following seas, and thank
you for your honored and highly dedicated service.
ACE eliminates need for in-person veterans disability
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently
launched a new initiative called Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE), which helps
expedite claims by eliminating steps in the disability claims process.
And, did you know that if you have been recently
placed on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL), your Servicemembers’
Group Life Insurance (SGLI), coverage will end 120 days after the date you were
placed on the TDRL?
Cousin Jim's Thought for the
Day: Some people should just calm
down and take a deep breath...and hold it for twenty minutes!
The CAP: Circling the drain
By Ray Hayden, CAP Insights
Senator John McCain made a pretty fevered pitch for
cutting wasteful spending in the defense budget. Republicans are rather well
known for their support of the military, so cuts in the Department of Defense
seem out of step.
What McCain was pushing for was what he refers to
as wasteful spending, and he was doing it so that rather than wasting the funds
on non-military expenses, the real military could have those dollars. The Civil
Air Patrol was right in the sights of the senator.
We predicted that the amendment would fail because
the Senate has more Democrats than Republicans, and that is what happened,
McCain would have required 60 votes to have his amendment included, and he just
did not have that.
The problem for the Civil Air Patrol is real.
McCain put out a strong argument on the increased budget for the Civil Air
Patrol, what he failed to do is prove that the Civil Air Patrol is a waste of
spending. All he needed to do was to demand that the other side prove the value
of the Civil Air Patrol - which they can not do. The GAO report clearly
demonstrates that the Civil Air Patrol is less than useless and that no one else
wants anything to do with the CAP due to the lack of assets available to those
agencies, and specifically, the lack of qualified personnel.
Then we enter into the Catch-22 of the problem. In
order to train and qualify members, you need more than what would otherwise be
required, because volunteers are not going to always be available when and where
you want - or need - them. This mind numbing waste of taxpayer dollars keeps
more money away from the real military, and does nothing to solve the problem of
having qualified personnel where and when you might need them for these other
On top of all that - the Civil Air Patrol cannot
justify its own expense.
Face the hard facts - in
Florida, a sink hole opened up under a house and it "ate" a resident who lived
in the house. They know where the body is and they do not plan to go and
get it. Odd, but it would seem that - as part of correcting the sink hole - they
would have to dig up part of that hole to fix the primary problem that created
the hole in the first place, yet, they announced that the man has found his
final resting place. A state knows where a body is, and they won't go and get
For the Civil Air Patrol, look at all of the
searches conducted in the last three years and discover who really found the
body, site, aircraft or what have you - almost every time, it was not the Civil
Air Patrol, yet many thousands of taxpayer dollars had been pissed away on the
fruitless search. For Sandy and the Gulf operation, any monkey with a camera
could have snapped off digital pictures. A lot of aircraft had been flying
around already - why was the Civil Air Patrol needed at all - for either
This is the waste of taxpayer dollars that
Senator McCain is discussing, and yet, the tax and spend Democrats in the Senate
just pushed it along without even a vote on the subject.
We have not had a budget (let alone a balanced one)
for years. Could you operate like that for very long? Here is the hint, no. When
they do not have a balanced budget, they are continuing to borrow more money,
but people do not realize that even a balanced budget fails to be a debt free
nation, it just means that they are spending everything that they brought in.
Hopefully they include repayment of debt in that picture! Even when Clinton had
a budget surplus, that just meant that they did not spend all that they ha, but
rather than applying the "extra" (it is not extra!) money to pay off the
debt, they just pissed it all away - both parties! Again, how long
would you survive - financially - like that?
Cutting $15 million from the Civil Air Patrol does
not last long in the terms of other expenditures, but that is "broke thinking" -
the reality is that the Civil Air Patrol is robbing almost $40 million from the
American taxpayer each year - and that is still "broke thinking!"
Now consider that if you did not have the Civil Air
Patrol stealing our tax dollars, you would not need the CAP-USAF either! How
much more taxpayer money could be returned to the U.S. Treasury?
The McCain amendment only dealt with $15 million,
the real savings was far more than that...far more.
(NOTF Ed. note: The CAP is the official,
uniformed, volunteer civilian Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. According to
numerous sources, Cindy (Mrs. John) McCain was once an officer in the Arizona
Wing of the CAP, but was given the dreaded "2B" [for some unknown reason] and
drummed out of the corps.)
NOAA predicts mixed bag of drought, flooding and warm weather
NOAA issued its three-month U.S. Spring
Outlook yesterday, stating that odds favor above-average temperatures across
much of the continental United States, including drought-stricken areas of
Texas, the Southwest and the Great Plains.
News from the National Guard
The Melbourne-based 715th Military Police Company,
of the Florida Army National Guard, is preparing to deploy to
Afghanistan. A send-off ceremony to honor these soldiers was held this
morning at the National Guard Armory in Melbourne.
The Air National Guard Band of the South - "Sound
Barrier" - is set to visit Conyers, Ga.
Several Capital Region air crew members of the New
York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing returned to Schenectady County
Airport, on Thursday, after a long trip back from Antarctica.
A North Dakota Air National Guard security forces
unit at Minot Air Force Base will not be impacted by any changes to the future
missions of the 119th Wing, in Fargo, said Capt. Dan Murphy, a North Dakota
National Guard public affairs officer.
The Air National Guard's Center for Training and
Education is leveraging live high-definition, high-bitrate video to develop
airmen with the high quality associated with an in-residence experience - but at
a fraction of the cost.
Currently the I.G. Brown Training and Education
Center, or TEC, is in full swing delivering a blended learning NCO Academy
course to 115 airmen at 11 installations across the nation. Blended learning
consists of facilitated distance learning, followed by a short period of
in-resident learning to complete the course. The class is broadcast live from
TEC which is in its 18th year of providing blended learning NCOA via its
"Warrior Network" satellite broadcast system. The center will celebrate 45 years
of professional military education on its campus this year. For this course, six
of the field sites are using a new two-way, high definition, high-bitrate
video-to-video tele-training extension to its Warrior Network.
students still get live video instruction, video tele-training technology allows
students to see and hear their instructors, and vice versa, over a dedicated
Internet protocol line. The new method is simply a test for this course. So far,
it's proving to be a vast improvement over the tried-and-true one-way satellite
method where students can see and hear their instructors, but the instructors
can only hear students when they have questions, said officials. "The sites are
seen in a grid-like display, say like on the old TV game show 'Hollywood
Squares,' and instructors and the sites queue up larger during interaction,"
said Tech. Sgt. Matt Schwartz, the production manager who works evenings here to
handle the broadcasts. Instructors said video tele-training allows them to see
classrooms in detail, including facial reactions and attentiveness among pupils.
"This helps us help them to understand their instruction better," said Senior
Master Sgt. Andrew Traugot, the center's director of education, satellite EPME.
Instructors teach from a broadcast desk at the TEC's Media Engagement Division,
calling up information and explaining lessons. Traugot added that the students
and instructors alike are from across the total Air Force. Compared to the
traditional six-week NCOA course held here, the 13-week blended learning class
reduces on-campus attendance to two weeks. To center officials, it's a clear
alternative to traveling for fully in-resident schools. "For a student to attend
our NCOA course completely in-resident, it costs the government just over
$7,000," Traugot said. "Whereas with the blended learning course, it only costs
$4,800. The great thing is that they still get in-residence credit." Officials
said that's popular with National Guard members because it helps them attend
training from their hometowns, with reduced time away from their families,
employers and missions.
Ninety members of the Montana Army National
Guard's 260th Engineer Company have returned to a joyous homecoming at Billings
Logan Airport after almost a year in Afghanistan.
Fourteen of the New York Army National Guard's most
accomplished soldiers and sergeants will compete for the Best Warrior title
during a two-day event at the Division of Military and Naval Affairs
Headquarters, in Latham, N.Y., today and tomorrow.
Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke, III, assumed the duties
and responsibilities of director of the Air National Guard in a
ceremony at JB Andrews, Md., yesterday, at the Air National Guard
Readiness Center there. Clarke took over as director from Lt. Gen. Harry "Bud"
Wyatt, who retired. A command pilot with more than 4,000 hours, including more
than 100 combat hours, in the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon,
Clarke assumed his current position after serving as commander of the 1st Air
Force and the Continental U.S. North America Aerospace Defense Command
"The opportunity to watch Clarke at the 1st Air Force was tremendous
for me to learn his great capabilities," said Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief
of the National Guard Bureau, during the ceremony. And because of his
background, Clarke was uniquely positioned and had the right skill set to take
on the duties of director, Grass said. "An Alabama Air Guardsman who served as
the assistant adjutant general for air, an A-10 and F-16 pilot who commanded a
squadron, wing and expeditionary wing, all of that prepared him for this job and
to represent everyone in this building and all those in the Air National Guard
across the map in the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia,"
Grass said. And Clarke has been busy as he settles into his new role. "There's a
lot to learn," Clarke said. "But, I've hit the ground running and am drinking
from the fire hose. I have already been on the hill seven times and testified
twice." However, he said his new role is a humbling one. "This is quite an honor
and I am humbled at the opportunity to serve (those in the Air Guard)," Clarke
said. And, as Clarke takes the reins as director, he said he sees tremendous
opportunities despite recent budget cutbacks. "I've arrived in a time of budget
turmoil and uncertainty, but I view this as a time of opportunity as well," he
said, adding that his focus and commitment is clear. "My commitment to the
airmen and the adjutants general is clear," he said. "We will do everything
within our authority to ensure our airmen have clear policies, equipment,
training and resources to accomplish assigned missions. We remain community
based, team oriented and experienced."
Clarke is ready to face those
challenges, Grass said. "He has stepped up to the challenge," Grass said. "And I
can tell you I've already watched him as he's taken on that challenge."
Oops! The National Guard mistakenly sent out
furlough notices to Guard members in 22 states, despite the Pentagon's decision
on Thursday to delay the notification of unpaid time off for two more
General expects U.S. Marine Corps to shrink
The U.S. Marine Corps, which already has
shed thousands of service members because of post-war downsizing and budget
tightening, is preparing to cut even more under mandated reductions known as the
sequester, the Commandant of the Marine Corps has said.
Stennis Strike Group concludes support to
The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group
(JCSCSG) concluded its support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), yesterday
after providing nearly four months of air and tactical support to Allied troops
on the ground in Afghanistan.
The final mission, carried out by pilots from
embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, launched off the flight deck of the strike
group's flagship, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis
"We leave with our heads held high," said Capt.
Dell Bull, commander of CVW-9. "We have not missed a single mission and we hit
every target we aimed for on the first pass - every time. The response we
get back from the joint tactical air controllers on the ground has been
tremendous. It's the work of all of us, the air wing, the strike group and the
ship, that made that possible."
The JCSCSG last supported OEF during its deployment
in early 2012. The strike group returned to the area four months ahead of
schedule in order to maintain the required forward carrier presence in the U.S.
5th Fleet's area of responsibility (AOR).
While supporting OEF from the Arabian Sea,
Stennis and CVW-9 flew approximately 1,200 sorties amounting to more
than 7,400 flight hours.
"We had an EA-6B Prowler mission a few weeks ago
where the troops we were defending reported that, had we not been there, they
would not be alive today," said Bull.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike
Group and embarked CVW-7 is relieving the JCSCSG as the carrier presence in the
region. "CVW-7 starts flying tomorrow right on our heels," said Bull. "They will
carry the torch and that gives us all a good feeling about heading home."
The JCSCSG, consisting of Stennis, CVW-9,
Destroyer Squadron 21 and the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay
(CG-53), is forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet's area of responsibility,
promoting maritime security operations, theatre security cooperation efforts and
support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Legislation to further integrate chiropractic services
introduced in Congress
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has
announced that its work with key congressional supporters has resulted in
several important pieces of pro-chiropractic legislation being introduced in the
113th U.S. Congress. These bills, if enacted into law, would increase patient
access to the services provided by chiropractic physicians.
The first legislative initiative, the "Chiropractic
Care Available to All Veterans Act," was introduced in the Senate (as S. 422) by
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Its House companion bill, HR 921, was
introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), a ranking member of the House
Committee on Veterans Affairs. The bills would require the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) to have a chiropractic physician on staff at all major
medical facilities by 2016.
The second ACA supported bill is HR 741, the
"Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act," introduced by Reps.
Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa). This legislation would extend
chiropractic services to military retirees, dependents, and survivors as part of
TRICARE. HR 741 defines "chiropractic services" as diagnosis (including X-ray
tests), evaluation and management, and therapeutic services for the treatment of
neuromusculoskeletal health conditions. The legislation specifically notes that
chiropractic services may only be provided by a chiropractor.
Another recently introduced bill - the
"Chiropractic Membership in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Act of
2013" (HR 171), introduced by Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) - would benefit the
public and the chiropractic profession by requiring the inclusion of DCs in the
U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps. The USPHS is an elite
team of more than 6,000 well-trained, highly qualified public health
professionals dedicated to delivering the nation's public health promotion and
disease prevention programs and advancing public health science.
The final ACA supported bill is HR 702, the "Access
to Frontline Health Care Act," which would establish a new program to help
chiropractors and other select health care providers repay their student loans
if, in exchange, they establish and maintain practices in medically under-served
areas. The ACA has worked closely with Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), the sponsor
of the bill, to ensure that chiropractic physicians are specified as qualifying
for the program.
"Those who have made sacrifices for our
country - especially veterans, active duty military, and their family
members - deserve access to the best health care available, which includes
chiropractic services," said ACA President Dr. Keith Overland, DC. "I am urging
every chiropractic physician, chiropractic student and chiropractic supporter to
contact their congressional representatives and urge them to co-sponsor these
bills and to help military families in need."
Kurdish rebels declare formal cease-fire with
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group declared a "formal and clear
cease-fire" with Turkey today after the rebels' jailed leader ordered an end to
the decades-long armed campaign for autonomy. "Since March 21 and from now on,
we as a movement, as the PKK, officially and clearly declare a cease-fire,"
Murat Karayilan, the PKK's field commander, said in a video address posted on
Firat News, a web site with links to the militants.
France says 'with certainty' al-Qaida's Abou Zeid killed in
France said today it could confirm "with certainty"
that Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, one of al-Qaida's most feared commanders in Africa,
had been killed in Mali in February as part of a French-led military offensive.
The death of Abou Zeid, accused of earning al-Qaida millions of dollars through
the kidnappings of dozens of Western hostages, marks a serious blow to al-Qaida
in the region and to Islamist rebels driven out of northern Mali's towns by the
Meanwhile, fears of ethnic reprisals by government
troops in Mali have driven thousands of Arabs and Tuaregs in the country's north
to abandon their homes and flee to Mauritania, undermining efforts to reunite
their war-torn homeland. At least 20,000 civilians have trekked westward across
the dunes to the crowded Mbera refugee camp since mid-January when government
forces re-entered northern Mali on the coattails of a French ground and air
campaign that swept Islamist rebels from the region.
Berlusconi's tax fraud trial adjourned to April
Italian court agreed today to Silvio Berlusconi's request to adjourn his
appeal of a tax fraud conviction for one month, as Italy's politicians seek
to end a political crisis and form a government. The former prime minister was
re-elected to Parliament in an inconclusive vote last month, and Italy's
president has asked his center-left rival, Pier Luigi Bersani, to see if he can
form a government.
Northern Ireland cops defuse bomb near G8
Northern Irish police defused a bomb in a car today
close to where G8 leaders will meet at a summit in June, and said that the
device was likely to have been intended for a police station nearby. Army bomb
disposal experts defused the device after a security operation that lasted
almost 36 hours in the County Fermanagh town of Enniskillen. The Group of Eight
leaders meet just outside the town in three months' time.
Three killed in assassination attempt on Yemeni rebel
Gunmen shot dead three people in a failed attempt
to assassinate a Houthi rebel leader today after he left Yemen's "national
dialogue" talks aimed at ending political turmoil in the country, sources at the
talks said. Abdo Abu Ras, the Houthis' representative at the negotiations, was
returning by car to his hotel in the capital city of Sanaa when gunmen
opened fire, killing three of his companions, the sources said. Impoverished
Yemen faces two rebellions and a separatist movement.
Second rebel column moves on capital of CAR
A rebel column advanced on the capital of Central
African Republic from the northwest today, attacking the town of Bossembele and
opening a second front for government forces already battling insurgents
northeast of Bangui. A spokesman for the Seleka rebel coalition, which accuses
President Francois Bozize of breaking a January peace agreement to integrate its
fighters into the army, said its forces had seized control of Bossembele, 100
miles northwest of Bangui.
Troops impose uneasy calm on violence-torn Myanmar
Hundreds of troops kept an uneasy calm in central
Myanmar today after martial law was imposed to quell three days of bloody unrest
between Buddhists and Muslims that is testing the country's nascent democracy.
The official death toll in the worst-affected town of Meikhtila stands at 11
dead, although local estimates put it as much as four times higher. Burned
corpses still lay uncollected by the roads today, said reporters in the city 336
miles north of the commercial capital city of Yangon.
In Moscow, new Chinese leader warns against
By Lisa Levine, News of the Force Tel Aviv
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against foreign
interference in the affairs of other nations during a speech in Moscow today,
sending a signal to the West and echoing a message often repeated by Russian
President Vladimir Putin. Permanent U.N. Security Council members with veto
power, Russia and China have frequently teamed up diplomatically to blunt the
influence of the United States and its NATO allies and have blocked three draft
resolutions on Syria.
Followers of the religion of Bashar al-Assad who
oppose the Syrian president met in Cairo, Egypt, today to support a
democratic alternative to his rule, seeking to untangle his fate from their own.
In the first meeting of its kind by Alawites who support the revolt, delegates
aimed to draft a declaration supporting a united Syria and to invite other
opposition groups to cooperate on preventing sectarian bloodletting if Assad
Rebels seized an air defense base near Syria's
strategic southern international highway today, activists said, a gain that
could bolster opposition fighters trying to secure supply routes to the capital
city of Damascus. Syria's southern provinces bordering Jordan and Israel have
become an increasingly significant battleground as the embattled capital comes
into play, with President al-Assad's forces and his loyalist militias hitting
back hard to prevent rebel advances.
France and Britain failed to persuade the European
Union to back their call to lift an arms embargo on Syrian rebels yesterday
despite warning that President al-Assad could resort to using chemical weapons.
Paris and London want to exempt Assad's opponents from an E.U. arms embargo, a
step they believe would raise pressure on Assad to negotiate after two years of
a civil war that has claimed 70,000 lives.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his
government's resignation yesterday after a Cabinet dispute with the Shiite
group Hizbollah over preparations for a parliamentary election and extending the
term of a senior security official. Mikati's announcement after a dead-locked
ministerial meeting plunged Lebanon, already struggling to cope with a spillover
of bloodshed and refugees from neighboring Syria, into fresh uncertainty three
months before the planned election.
Several thousand opponents of Egypt's Muslim
Brotherhood clashed with supporters of the Islamist group near its headquarters
in Cairo yesterday, and at least 40 people were wounded, authorities said.
Columns of riot police fired tear gas as the rival groups tussled in the streets
around the Brotherhood's headquarters. Protesters hurled Molotov cocktails and
stones, a witness said. Earlier in the day, Brotherhood supporters who
arrived in the vicinity on buses were showered with stones from the protesters,
and threw the stones back.
Israel apologized to Turkey yesterday for killing
nine Turkish citizens in a 2010 naval raid on a Gaza Strip-bound flotilla, and
the two feuding U.S. allies agreed to normalize relations in a surprise
breakthrough announced by U.S. President Barack Obama. The rapprochement could
help regional coordination to contain spillover from the Syrian civil war and
ease Israel's diplomatic isolation in the Middle East as it faces challenges
posed by Iran's nuclear program. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said
yesterday all of Turkey's fundamental demands had been met with an apology from
Israel over the killing of nine Turkish citizens in a 2010 naval raid on a
Gaza-bound flotilla. In a telephone call with his Turkish counterpart earlier
yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized for the killings and said
Israel would pay compensation to the families of victims aboard the
And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman before flying to Israel for talks
with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later today as he seeks ways to revive
long-stalled peace talks. Kerry's back-to-back meetings will follow up on
President Obama's visits to Israel and the Palestinian Territories this week in
which he called for fresh diplomatic efforts, but offered no new peace proposals
of his own.
Tornado kills 20 in Bangladesh
A tornado swept through nearly two dozen villages
southeast of the Bangladeshi capital, killing at least 20 people, tearing roofs
off houses and uprooting trees and power pylons, officials said. The death toll
could rise sharply as more than 300 people were injured when the twister struck
the Brahmanbaria district, more than 60 miles southeast of Dhaka, yesterday
evening. More than 500 dwellings suffered damage. Rescue teams were dispatched
to the area, but uprooted trees and wrecked vehicles closed large stretches of
highway and rail lines.
Congolese warlord arrives at war crimes court's
Congolese warlord known as "The Terminator" who is accused of murder, rape and
other atrocities, arrived at the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s jail in
the Netherlands early today, the court said. Bosco Ntaganda, who walked off the
street and gave himself up at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali in a surprise move on
Monday, was flown in a private jet from the Rwandan capital to The Hague after
being handed over to the court's custody.
Congo foils plot to assassinate the
The Democratic Republic of Congo's government said yesterday it had
thwarted a plot involving a Belgian member of Parliament that aimed to
assassinate President Joseph Kabila and overthrow his government. Two suspects -
a Belgian doctor of Congolese origin named Jean-Pierre Kanku Mukendi, and
Isidore Madimba Mongombe, a former policeman - were arrested last month in the
capital city of Kinshasa, Interior Minister Richard Muyej told journalists.
Muyej said the two men, who were in possession of a small quantity of weapons at
the time of their arrest, confessed to the plot.